Apr 14

April 14.10: Chat Room, Game #8 at Rockies: Niese trying to stop fall.

Jonathan Niese, stopper? After three straight losses, including an 11-3 bloodletting last night at Colorado, the Mets are depending on the raw lefthander to throw them a life preserver.

Really, after seven games they need saving?

Damn straight. This is a team that’s not too far away from heading into an April freefall.  They aren’t hitting, and let’s not even get into what they are doing with runners in scoring position.

Save two games, they’re starting pitching has been poor. Their bullpen had been good, but it is to the point where soon it will be taxed.

Their 2-5 record is very much deserved. They are off to the slow start they wanted to avoid.

Seasons aren’t won or lost after seven games, but trends can be recognized and what’s happening now isn’t good.

Manager Jerry Manuel said today John Maine will make his next start, but that’s not a question he should be answering this early in the season. He also shouldn’t be answering questions this soon about his job security.

There’s a lot we can talk about tonight.

Apr 13

April 13.10: Chat Room, Game #7 at Rockies: Maine needs a big night.

With the 2-4 Mets six games into the 20-game plateau manager Jerry Manuel defined as fair to evaluate the start of the season, the team begins its first road trip to Colorado and St. Louis, perhaps two of the more unfriendly venues for visitors.

After losing two each to the Marlins and Nationals – teams they should handle at home at least – the mood of the Mets isn’t panic as much as it is urgency.

There have been three bad starts by the rotation, a trend that would wear down the bullpen eventually, and no hitting with runners in scoring position.

“It’s six games,’’ said outfielder Jeff Francoeur. “With that being said, we’d better get it going quick, because we’ve got some teams coming up that are really, really good.’’

Manuel ripped his team for being unprepared – for which he assumed responsibility – and others wondered about the intensity level.

If the Mets are going to get it started, they’ll have to do it tonight behind John Maine, he of the 7.20 ERA and slow fastball.

Maine has lost some of the velocity, and worse, some of the movement off his fastball, a byproduct of shoulder problems. He says he’s fine, but he still needs to build up strength.

“We’ll continue to hope for that,’’ Manuel said of Maine building up his shoulder strength. “He’s healthy and I don’t see why, being free from setbacks and those types of things, we won’t see that at some point.’’

Maine is 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA in three starts versus the Rockies, so there’s some reason for optimism.

NOTE: I am taking classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights for the next few months, and won’t be around for the start of the game. With the game at 8:40 p.m., I’m expecting to be back by nine, so I might miss the first inning or two.

Apr 11

April 11.10: Chat Room, Game #6 vs. Nationals: Santana tries to right ship again.

Oliver Perez has thrown worse, but by no means does that make yesterday’s loss to Washington a quality outing.

He had three innings of 12 pitches, but two innings of 24. It was the same old problem with Perez: When he slowed up his tempo he lost command; he walked four of which two of them scored.

Those two runs were the difference in the game, so let’s not blame in all on the offense taking another game off.

NOTEBOOK: The Mets placed reliever Sean Green on the disabled list with a small tear in his rib cage. He was replaced on the roster by left-hander Raul Valdes. The addition of Valdes could take some of the pressure off Pedro Feliciano, who’s in competition with Fernando Nieve for the eighth-inning, set-up reliever. … Despite Mike Jacobs’ slow start there are no plans to bring up Ike Davis. … Today the Mets try to get back to .500 behind Johan Santana.

Apr 10

April 10.10: Chat Room, Game #5 vs. Nationals: Trying to build on a win.

For the first time in nearly a year, the Mets will have Jose Reyes back on the top of the lineup. The Mets were 51-75 during the time Reyes was out with a severe hamstring injury.

“Nobody wants to get hurt,” Reyes said. “I’m happy to be back and playing baseball. It was tough being away.”

Gone, at least for today, is the thought of Reyes batting third. Maybe later this summer, but for now the Mets are just happy to have him back at shortstop.

Another story line this afternoon is Oliver Perez’s first start since last August. Perez, who underwent knee surgery in the offseason, came into camp in excellent condition. So far, during spring training it has not translated into success.

The Mets are coming off a well-rounded 8-2 victory last night over Washington, a game which featured a strong start by Mike Pelfrey and four homers.

Apr 09

April 9.10: Chat Room, Game #4 vs. Nationals, Pelfrey’s turn.

Indicators vary, and Jerry Manuel is calling it roughly three weeks to define the good start he said the Mets need out of the gate. Losing two of three to the Marlins is too small of a window.

“Let’s see where we are over the first 20 games,” Manuel said. “That will give us a better indicator if we are off and running or whatever.”

The Mets are counting on Mike Pelfrey to pick up the Mets tonight against the Washington Nationals. That is, of course, if Pelfrey can pick up himself after working with a sports psychologist.

Pelfrey spoke recently about the mental make-up required to pitch in the major leagues, saying most everybody are equal in terms of physical talent, but the difference is the head game.

“At this level, I think every pitcher is pretty gifted,’’ Pelfrey said. “What separates guys is the mental part of the game.’’

Pelfrey’s problem has been losing focus and not mastering his secondary pitches. Pelfrey has tendency to not finish off hitters and consequently doesn’t minimize the damage and lets innings get away from him.