Apr 18

Collins manages big; Wright gets it.

I loved the way Terry Collins managed yesterday afternoon, using RA Dickey and Chris Capuano in relief. After losing seven straight, Collins pulled out the stops yesterday in how he handled his overworked bullpen. Yesterday was their throw day anyway, so why not use them in the game to take some of the pressure off the pen.

WRIGHT: Brought some smiles yesterday.

The message was also clear to his team that every game is important. It’s something neither Willie Randolph nor Jerry Manuel would have done. There are times a manager might sacrifice a game in April or May to save his pen for later which I understand. But, all too often a manager doesn’t fully utilize a starter’s throw day, which is something Collins did and I hope isn’t reluctant to do again.

I also like how he moved Josh Thole to second. Angel Pagan hasn’t been producing and Collins took advantage of what Thole brings to the table. I also hope Collins sticks with Brad Emaus at second base. This could be construed as an experimental season and I’d like a real look at Emaus. It couldn’t couldn’t hurt.

By this time, you’ve probably seen the video of David Wright playing catch with Braves fans from the field. Wright hasn’t played well recently, but rather than sulk he continued to be a good ambassador to the sport that pays him well. There are a few guys who truly understand their role to the public and Wright is one of them. This guy gets it.

Long after those kids forget what happened in the game, they’ll remember their moment with Wright. Maybe he turned them into Mets fans, who knows? The important thing is he made a memory and there’s no price tag you can put on that.

On the field, however, Wright is again striking out too much and not delivering in the clutch, and twice this week ended games by making the final out with the tying and winning runs on base. I’m not going to bury Wright. He’s not a guy like Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard or Alex Rodriguez, who can carry a team on his back. He’s a hitter at his best when there are others around him producing. He is what he is, and that’s not going to change.

 

Apr 09

Capuano starts for Mets tonight vs. Nationals

I’m very anxious to see Chris Capuano tonight. As the fifth starter, he was skipped the first time through the rotation. He gets his chance as the fifth starter to pull the Mets out of their three-game funk.

After winning three straight, the Mets have lost three in a row as their pitching was rocked the last two games in Philadelphia and the offense stunt their last two games, including going a dreadful 0-10 with RISP in the home opener against Washington.

If the Mets are to turn the corner this season, they must beat the lower division teams, of which the Nationals are one.

To chat tonight, click onto the Mets Chat icon to your left.

Apr 01

Terry Collins sends open letter to Mets’ fans

What we’ve been waiting for since that final Sunday at Citi Field, when Oliver Perez was booed off the mound for the last time is hours away: The start of another era in Mets’ history.

COLLINS: A new era begins

The Yankees had their moment yesterday, and I’m watching Roy Halladay and the Phillies are in a pitching duel with Houston. Meanwhile, in Florida, Mets manager Terry Collins is already at the ballpark and his players are trickling into the clubhouse.

For today, at least, the disappointments of the past have given way to optimism despite the issues – on and off the field – swirling around this team. It’s Opening Day, for some the real New Year’s day, and the air is full of hope and positive feelings.

Collins, who hasn’t stopped working since he was hired to replace Jerry Manuel, began his work day by sending the following open letter to Mets’ fans:

 

Dear Mets Fan:

With our 2011 opener tonight in Florida, I want to make this pledge to Mets fans — our team will play the game the right way.

We will always hustle on the bases, run balls down in the outfield and never take anything for granted, no matter the score of the game.

We had a great Spring Training. From Day 1 my message has been look ahead, not backward, and not to worry about what the people outside the clubhouse are saying. If we pitch and play defense like I know we can, we will surprise a lot of people, a lot of people.

I stack our lineup against anyone else’s in the league. Getting Carlos Beltran back and hitting cleanup is really big. The way Carlos handled his move to right field was one of the classiest things I have ever seen. Angel Pagan is coming off a great season. While we had a little setback this week with Jason Bay — who was swinging the bat well — going on the disabled list, he shouldn’t be out too long. We believe with the three of them on the field, we have one of the top outfields in baseball.

Our infield is anchored by the two All-Stars on the left side: David Wright at third and Jose Reyes at short. I think David will add on to his numbers from last year and Jose is ready to have a tremendous season. He is one of the most dynamic players in the game. Ike Davis will continue to develop at first base and Josh Thole is one of the fine young catchers in the game. Brad Emaus, a Rule 5 pick, got better and better as the spring went on and won the second base job.

On the mound, sure, we are going to miss Johan Santana until he comes back, hopefully in mid-year. But this spring, I think we established a solid rotation with Mike Pelfrey, followed by R.A. Dickey and Jonathon Niese. Chris Young and Chris Capuano proved that they are healthy, and they really strengthen us on the back end.

We remade our bullpen and we think we have quality arms who throw strikes to get to closer Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod has just had a fantastic spring and I never have seen him throwing better. People like Bobby Parnell, D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz, Blaine Boyer, Tim Byrdak and Pedro Beato — another Rule 5 selection who is from Queens — will give us a solid ‘pen.

I believe we have fortified our bench with the additions of Scott Hairston, Willie Harris, Ronny Paulino (who will begin the year on the disabled list) and Chin-lung Hu, along with Daniel Murphy.

It’s been 12 years since I have started a season as a Major League manager. I can’t tell you how proud I am to be leading the New York Mets and am very excited about the season ahead.

Thanks for your support and see you at Citi Field.

Sincerely,

Terry Collins

 

Realistically, I didn’t expect Collins to write anything else, but then again I don’t recall a gesture like this recently from a Mets’ manager. David Wright said Collins’ team speech to close spring training was like something out of “Hoosiers.”

Maybe the odds are as long for the Mets this year as they were for Hickory High School, but for today at least, it is time to believe in miracles.

Afterall, isn’t that what Opening Days are for.

 

NEXT UP: Tonight’s lineup and 2011 Over/Unders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 31

Reviewing the Mets’ issues going into the season.

I hope you’re all doing well, anxious for another season of watching the Mets. While the Yankees faced Detroit this afternoon at the Stadium, the Mets worked out in preparation to play the Marlins tomorrow night.

When the Mets opened spring training six weeks ago, I proposed a list of ten issues surrounding the team that would dictate the course of the season. Spring training only partially answered those questions.

Here’s the top issues surrounding the Mets and the progress made:

Q: WHAT WILL BE THE OWNERSHIP FALLOUT?

A: This is still an on-going issue that won’t be going away any time soon. The Wilpons remain adamant they were played and have no intention of selling the franchise outright. The family is looking for a limited owner, but heavyweights such as Mark Cuban and Donald Trump say they don’t want to pay up to $500 million for what is tantamount to a season ticket with free parking. The Wilpons still want full control and aren’t willing to offer up part of SNY in a deal. The Mets’ inactivity during the winter was emblematic of their financial stress, and although GM Sandy Alderson said the team would have the resources at the trade deadline, nobody is expecting much, especially if they’ll be listening to offers for Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes.

Q: HOW WILL TERRY COLLINS IMPLEMENT THE NEW CULTURE?

A: So far, so good. There was no problem in selling right field to Beltran, although that had a lot to do with the outfielder making the choice himself because of his fragile knees. Reports are positive about the Mets’ attitude and concentration on fundamentals. There weren’t any problems with how the releases of Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez.were handled. The first impression has been a good one, but we’ll see how responsive the Mets are when the grind starts.

Q: HOW HEALTHY IS CARLOS BELTRAN?

A: Beltran will be in the starting lineup tomorrow, but we didn’t know that until the beginning of the week. Beltran’s health remains a concern and despite the move to right field, nobody knows how his knees will hold up and the production the Mets might receive. The only certainty with Beltran is he won’t be back next season and the Mets would love to work a deal to save some of his $18.5 million contract. An interesting dilemma would be what would the Mets do at the trade deadline with Beltran if they are contending and he’s hitting?

Q: WHAT WILL BECOME OF JOSE REYES?

A: Alderson said the Mets will have the resources to sign Reyes to an extension, but would they be willing to take that chance if he’s not playing well? Reyes didn’t have a bad finish to the end of last season, but realistically he’s been a health question the past two years. Should Reyes get off to a great start his price tag will undoubtedly spike as will the attention he’ll draw from teams wanting to make a deal. This will put the Mets in the stressful situation of risking him leave as a free agent.

Q: WILL MIKE PELFREY TAKE THE NEXT STEP?

A: With Johan Santana out, Pelfrey enters the season as the ace. Pelfrey didn’t have a good spring training stats wise, but then again he didn’t last year, either and had the best season of his career. Friday’s Opening Day starter said his goal this summer is to be more consistent. A miserable July might have prevented Pelfrey from winning 20 games last year, but he said he learned from that stretch, and one of those things was not to abandon his fastball. There were still times last year when Pelfrey lost his focus and ran up his pitch count which cost him the chance to work longer and even finish games.

Q: WILL THE REAL JASON BAY STAND UP?

A.: If he does, it won’t be right away as he’ll open the season on the disabled list with a strained left rib cage muscle. It’s not an easy injury to overcome as it saps your power because it slows the hitter’s bat speed. Prior to the rib cage, Bay was complaining about a sore back, and even before then he wasn’t having a good spring power wise. For the $66 million package they are spending on him, the Mets expect 25 to 30 homers a year, not the six he hit last year. With Beltran not a given and Bay out, there’s the concern David Wright will feel the pressure to carry the team as he has the past two seasons.

Q: WAS R.A. DICKEY A FLUKE?

A: Evidently, the Mets believe Dickey is the real deal, otherwise they wouldn’t have given him a two-year deal. Dickey’s knuckler makes him second in the rotation, but there’s still the matter of him proving he can do it again. Dickey came out of nowhere to keep the Mets competitive in the first half, but there’s no element of surprise this year.

Q: WHAT ABOUT THE BACK END OF THE ROTATION?

A: Jon Niese, at No. 3, got off to a 6-2 start, but finished 9-10. Obviously, there’s more learning that needs to be done. Chris Young and Chris Capuano will attempt to rebound from injuries as the No. 4 and No. 5 starters, respectively. Bottom line on the last two: Despite good springs there is no guarantee the Mets will get 25 starts from each.

Q: WHO’S IN THE BULLPEN?

A: Francisco Rodriguez and Bobby Parnell are the only names you’ll remember from last year, which is just as well considering what the Mets got out of their pen. The overriding issue with the bullpen is whether they’ll allow Rodriguez to complete 55 games that would enable his $17.5 million option to kick in. Parnell gets the set-up role. The rest of the pen includes D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz, Pedro Beato, Tim Byrdak and Blaine Boyer. Jason Isringhausen will stay in Florida for an extended spring training, and the Mets will need him to mentor this inexperienced pen.

Q: WHO PLAYS SECOND?

A: The Mets finally did the right thing and cut ties with Luis Castillo. Then he had the nerve to say he didn’t get a real chance. Huh? Daniel Murphy stuck, but as a left-handed bat off the bench. In the end, Rule 5 draft choice Brad Emaus will start. But, winning the job and holding on to it are two different things.

 

Mar 18

Could Perez be axed today?

The plug could be pulled on the Oliver Perez soap opera today should he be hammered by the Atlanta Braves. Even a mediocre outing might be enough to end the drama. Things are still undecided at second base so I expect Luis Castillo to stick around for at least the weekend.

Dillon Gee and bullpen candidates Ryota Igarashi and Taylor Tankersley were among this morning’s roster cuts. The demotions also included Boof Bonser, Dusty Ryan, Raul Chavez, Russ Adams and Jason Pridle were also assigned to the minor league camp.

No real surprises.

Gee was going to the minor league camp, and I’m giving the edge to Chris Capuano over Pat Misch in the competition for the fifth start.