May 03

Mets Must Sort Out Rotation And Houston Mess

Terry Collins spent much of the day deliberating his options regarding Chris Schwinden and the Mets’ rotation. After two rocky starts in place of Mike Pelfrey, Schwinden has proved not to be the answer.

After yesterday’s blowout, Collins wouldn’t say if Schwinden would come out of the rotation. He didn’t say he’d remain, either.

The Mets’ tissue paper thin depth was always going to be an Achilles Heel this year and it has come to pass. There are pitchers doing better than others on the minor league level, but nobody screaming for a promotion.

One option might be to keep Schwinden in the rotation in the hope he works out of this or if Chris Young is ready.

Whether it be on the minor league level or unsigned scrap heap free-agent, the odds against the Mets landing a workhorse in the rotation seems slim. I would have liked the Mets to sign a pitcher in the off-season, but that’s 20/20 hindsight.

There wasn’t a lot of things to like about the Houston series, although listening to the “Eyes of Texas,” during the seventh-inning stretch was good to hear, including David Wright’s comment the Colorado series drained the Mets.

That can’t happen, which Wright acknowledged and is a good sign. No excuses, said Wright, the Mets just played flat.

“You know, we knew we were going to have some ups and downs, especially with a lot of the young guys that we have on this roster playing right now,” Wright told reporters. “But this is what we need to fix if we want to become the team that we think we are capable of becoming. There are way too many inconsistencies right now. It seems like we play great for a series and then poorly for a series. And we’re going to have to straighten that out.”

One of the flaws of recent Mets teams has been their inconsistency. Win three, lose four. Managers constantly say they want their teams to just win series, one at a time. Win two or three, win three of four.

That is what the Mets did in 2006 and for five months in 2007.

Of course, consistency is easier to attain with better pitching which leads us to the hole in the rotation. The key game in the Houston series was the Jon Niese game. R.A. Dickey pitched well the previous night and Schwinden was awful. The game they needed to salvage the series was Niese’s start and he was anything but solid.

Growing pains? That all depends on how the Mets respond. Coming up are Arizona and Philadelphia, both good tests.

 

 

Mar 29

Alderson: Taking stock of the Mets.

We are a week away from Opening Day and Sandy Alderson’s take on his team on WFAN doesn’t exactly inspire a great deal of confidence:

ALDERSON: Why is this man smiling?

He’s worried about his defense, especially that from the right side with Daniel Murphy at second and Lucas Duda in right.  Center fielder Andres Torres has been gimpy, so there’s a question about his range. And, Josh Thole is still a work in progress at catcher.

 If you’re thinking Johan Santana is back and a given for 30 starts and 200-plus innings, think again. With the signing of Chris Young, the Mets are mulling over the idea of a six-man rotation. If Young is sound, in theory expanding the rotation would give Santana more rest between fewer starts. Another plus is fewer starts for Mike Pelfrey.

Pelfrey, incidentally, will start tonight. He takes an 11.49 ERA into the game. He has not pitched well this spring.

 In regards to Pelfrey’s performance and the Mets’ dismal spring training record of 6-16, Alderson called it “some indicator’’ of what to expect during the season. Spring training numbers aren’t always a blueprint of the season, but it is hard to turn it on and the Mets don’t have the talent to do so.

Alderson said Jason Bay is not driving the ball, but we’ve heard that before in his previous two years with the Mets.

Alderson also said he was not pleased with the depth of his team and expressed concern about the bullpen.

Let’s see, Alderson doesn’t know what he’ll get from Santana; is thinking at this late date of expanding the rotation so an injured pitcher can make it; has another starter with an ERA north of 11; is concerned about his defense, bullpen and depth; admits his overpaid left fielder isn’t hitting for power.

Yes sir, Opening Day is a week from today, and the forecast is for rain and temperatures in the 40s.

 Isn’t life grand?

Nov 12

2011 Player Review: Scott Hairston, Willie Harris

John Delcos of Newyorkmetsreport.com and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerizedonline.com will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets. Continuing our review of the 2011 Mets, today we take a look at bench players Willie Harris and Scott Hairston. Tomorrow: Chris Young and Ronny Paulino.

SCOTT HAIRSTON

THE SKINNY: They are role players for a reason: neither Willie Harris nor Scott Hairston are good enough to be fulltime players. Harris, 33, hit .246 with two homers and 23 RBI for the cost of $800,000. Hairston, 31, hit .235 with seven homers and 24 for the cost of $1.1 million. Both were good in the clubhouse, and Hairston contributed off the bench.

REASONS TO KEEP THEM: Teams need role players and they are known quantities. … They are young enough to where they can continue to contribute. … Neither will cost the Mets much.

REASONS TO LET THEM GO: Role players are easily replaceable for a comparable cost. … If the desire is to go into a full rebuilding mode, then let’s see what’s available in the minor leagues.

JOHN’S TAKE: It isn’t as if they can’t be replaced. Traditionally, role players are the last added to the roster so their priorities are elsewhere.

Role players are more important to contenders as missing pieces, and that doesn’t describe the Mets. If the Mets want to bring them back, fine. If not, that’s fine, also.

JOE’S TAKE: Glad we decided to group these two together. It’s hard for me to be too critical of players who were specifically signed for the bench. Of the two, I wouldn’t mind keeping Hairston and I’ll tell you why, he’s right-handed – first, plays a solid outfield – second, and the dude has some serious pop left in his bat – third.

I took a look at his 132 at-bats last season and never mind for a second that he batted .235, but did you know if you prorated his numbers over 500 at-bats, Hairston would have hit 28 home runs with 96 RBI? Of course, hewon’t get that much playing time barring an unforseen disaster next season, but there’s nothing wrong with that kind of potential on your bench. Just don’t bat him against RHP.

As for Harris, he’s a great guy. I love his attitude and his presence in the clubhouse, but we have too many young outfielders we need to get up to the majors and evaluate and in that regard Harris is just clogging up the works. So let him go and start making those spectacular, hit-robbing plays in the outfield again – which he never make for the Mets.

Nov 11

2011 Player Review: Jason Isringhausen

John Delcos of Newyorkmetsreport.com and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerizedonline.com will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets. Continuing our review of the 2011 Mets, today we take a look at Jason Isringhausen. Tomorrow: Willie Harris and Scott Hairston. Sunday: Chris Young and Ronny Paulino.

JASON ISRINGHAUSEN, RP

THE SKINNY: It was good story at the time when the Mets reached into their past to sign reliever Jason Isringhausen. Pushing 40 and with a tattered bullpen, Isringhausen represented a no-risk proposition. Isringhausen wasn’t going to make the Opening Day roster, but accepted an extended spring training assignment and within several weeks the inevitable pen breakdown occurred and he was back. Isringhausen was effective for the most part, and eventually assumed the closer role after Francisco Rodriguez was traded and earned seven saves to reach the 300 milestone. However, Isringhausen struggled and eventually broke down and ended the season on the disabled list with a herniated disk in his back.

REASONS TO KEEP HIM: Isringhausen showed he still knew how to pitch and when he needed it was able to pump up his fastball. … His experience and composure is beneficial to a young and inexperienced bullpen.

REASONS TO LET HIM GO: He doesn’t make the Mets any younger and the odds are in favor of physical problems. …. The Mets are in a rebuilding mode and he was take an opportunity away from somebody else.

JOHN’S TAKE: If there’s a younger option go with him, but is there? There is value in his experience and leadership, and if they Mets are playing well he could be important to the bullpen.

I’d be willing to invite him to spring training with the provision he could leave as a free agent should an opportunity arise elsewhere. That’s a no-lose situation. Should he make the team and prove healthy and productive, he could be a trade chip in July.
While there exist numerous other options for older, stopgap relievers, Isringhausen is a proven commodity to the Mets, who don’t have a closer, much less a set-up man.

JOE’S TAKE: Call me sentimental, but if Isringhausen is healthy and wants to forgo his retirement for another season, I would bring him back. It’s not like we can’t use the help or experience in the bullpen anyway. Izzy’s 1.28 WHIP was among the best in the Mets bullpen and even topped Parnell’s 1.47 WHIP by a considerable margin. He also didn’t implode whenever he emerged from those bullpen gates in the ninth inning like Parnell did – an important fact to consider.

I see nothing wrong with giving him the same kind of deal he received last season. Remember, Sandy Alderson specifically said on more than one occasion that he didn’t trade Izzy, despite some offers for him, because he was a great influence on the younger relievers. So what’s changed? He could still assume that role and at the same time be one of the more effective relievers out of the Mets bullpen once again in 2012.

Jason Isringhausen… You’re the next contestant on the Price is Right… Come on down…

Oct 29

Light up the Hot Stove season.

When David Murphy’s fly ball nestled into Allen Craig’s glove last night to end one of the most compelling World Series in history, the partying was ratcheted up a notch in St. Louis, but the Hot Stove Season began everywhere else.

Over the next five days, the Mets hold an exclusive negotiating window with their free agents: Jose Reyes, Chris Capuano, Scott Hairston, Chris Young, Miguel Batista, Jason Isringhausen and Dale Thayer.

REYES: What's he thinking?

 

Of the group, the most likely to return is Capuano, who should be a priority because of the Mets’ thin rotation. The others are interchangeable among the 200 or so free agents that will hit the market.

Reyes, of course, is the one drawing the most interest here, but the Mets won’t complete a deal in this window as the shortstop is determined to test the market and history tells us this won’t get done until December after the Winter Meetings.

At the end of the season I posted the Mets’ ceiling for Reyes should be four years at no more than $20 million a season, and I see no reason to back off that sentiment. I’d actually go lower, say $17 million.

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