May 21

May 21.10: Chat Room, Game #43 vs. Yankees: Mets come limping home.

Both the Mets and Yankees limp into this weekend’s series at Citi Field, but as usual there are more issues in Queens than the Bronx.

“I always look forward to these series,’’ Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “You find out where you are as a team, and how you perform in that type of environment.’’

Doesn’t he know by now?

The Mets, despite winning last night at Washington, are reeling, almost in a free fall, and could very well be there after back-to-back series against the Yankees and Phillies.

The last-place Mets are coming off a 2-6 road trip in which they lost, by injury or performance, three-fifths of their rotation. Jon Niese, the most consistent of the three, went on the disabled list and could be joined there by John Maine, who was yanked after five pitches last night. Oliver Perez was exiled to the bullpen.

Journeyman knuckleballer R.A. Dickey replaced Perez and performed well, and long reliever Hisanori Takahashi will start tonight in place of Niese against the Yankees.
Takahashi’s move to the rotation, even temporarily, further strains the bullpen. Fernando Nieve and Pedro Feliciano, so effective in April, have been hit lately.

Further complicating matters has been an unproductive offense, which is relying on a journeyman catcher Rod Barajas and rookie first baseman Ike Davis because of the season-long power drought of Jason Bay and David Wright’s assault on the strikeout record.

Bay, although he’s been making contact lately, in on pace for four homers, while Wright is on pace for 223 strikeouts. Jeff Francoeur and Jose Reyes also aren’t hitting.

As bad as things have been, one can logically assume if Wright and Reyes, the cornerstones to the franchise, were hitting according to expectations, the Mets would be over .500 and there wouldn’t be so many rumblings about Manuel’s job security.

Despite COO Jeff Wilpon’s impromptu meeting in Atlanta in which he said he wasn’t about to fire Manuel or GM Omar Minaya, the whispers persist and are even louder after last night’s Manuel-Maine dugout blowout.

“When the owner comes down, you know something is going on,’’ said Francoeur. “But at the same time, you have to be professional. At times it can be tough, all the speculation, but I try to just play. That’s the easiest way to deal with it.’’

Manuel didn’t do much to get Wright and Francoeur on his side when he rested both this week. Both expressed displeasure at sitting, but neither criticized Manuel.

Also, neither offered much verbal support.

Before he was sacked, Willie Randolph had more verbal support from his players than Manuel has received, but the players are still hustling. That is a saving grace, but will it be enough if the Mets are pasted by the Yankees and Phillies?

Here’s tonight’s Mets’ line-up behind Takahashi:

Jose Reyes, SS
Alex Cora, 2B
Jason Bay, LF
Ike Davis, 1B
David Wright, 3B
Angel Pagan, CF
Rod Barajas, C
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Hisanori Takahashi, LP

NOTE: Luis Castillo was scratched from the line-up with a bruised left heel. … After throwing five innings in relief last night, Raul Valdes is not expected to be available for the Yankees series. … With Takahashi starting, R.A. Dickey will be the long man.

PREVIOUS POST: Feel free to comment on the Maine vs. Manuel thread.

May 18

May 18.10: Wilpon demonstrates patience.

After the season, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya would be held accountable, that the standards bar has been raised.

That’s still the case after his impromptu visit to Atlanta yesterday. “I’m not here to fire anybody,’’ Wilpon said, which doesn’t mean he won’t later.

How else can you interpret him saying, “I wouldn’t be here if I was happy,’’ other than putting them on notice?

Neither Manuel nor Minaya have had a great run since the end of last season. I didn’t like how he handled moving Jose Reyes to third, but he was seeking a solution and sometimes the things you try backfire.

As far as the front office goes, we all knew pitching was this team’s weakness and that there was little margin for error. There weren’t many great choices, but what are the options now with Oliver Perez exiled and Jon Niese injured? Say hello to journeyman R.A. Dickey.

The Mets are where they are despite poor starting pitching – save that 9-1 homestand – a creaky bullpen, a listless offense that has David Wright on pace for over 200 strikeouts and Jason Bay on track for only four homers, and, of course, not having Carlos Beltran.

Considering what has gone on, the Mets are fortunate to be one game below .500. Things can, and have, been a lot worse.

Wilpon said at the end of last season he would give Manuel and Minaya a chance to make things right and 40 games is too small of a window. Let’s see where they are at the All-Star break, and if they are within striking distance, let’s see who they bring in.

Jan 27

Jan. 27.10: What would change?

Maybe this will be the summer in which the Mets fire Omar Minaya. It also might be the summer in which they get it all together.

Care to guess which one has a greater chance of happening?

MINAYA: Just how much power does he have?

MINAYA: Just how much power does he have?


At the end of last summer’s disaster, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon and Minaya said there would be trades and free-agent signings. Nothing has happened between then and now to indicate there will be a real change – and, spare me Jason Bay.

It’s known throughout the industry that the Mets just don’t do it the way the model clubs do – and that includes the Yankees and Phillies. There is no definable budget, or at least one that can be easily recognized. And, there was no real setting of priorities.

How else can you explain the setting the goal as pitching at the end of the season, and yet having your key offseason move be a hitter who really had nowhere else to go?

It was reported Joel Pineiro and Jason Marquis set the Mets as their priorities, but the Mets did not respond. No, neither is John Lackey, but either would have made the Mets’ rotation better and deeper than it is today.

The Met were more content to look at last season as an injury-plagued fluke, and ignored such factors as not improving their pitching depth in the 2008 offseason or building their long-criticized farm system as to provide replacements when a starter went down.

OK, the Mets have Bay, but with no other real bidders they coughed up a fifth-year option. … They got into a spitting match with Carlos Beltran, their best player, over surgery, which should have been avoided with surgery in November. … There were no decisive changes in their coaching staff. … And, their pitching remains the same.

Randy Wolf, Pineiro and Ben Sheets all went elsewhere for salaries that didn’t break anybody’s bank. The Mets by the way, had an ERA of just under five a game.

Minaya has made his share of mistakes, beginning with the Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez contracts, but truth be told, ownership signs off on those type of deals. They weren’t done without Wilpon’s blessing.

So, a miserable start – and with that pitching, who doubts that could happen? – could mean the sacking of Minaya. But, that won’t change anything because they are the same old Mets.

Oct 02

Wilpon: “Omar is our guy.”

``We believe in Omar.''

``We believe in Omar.''

Mets COO Jeff Wilpon defended the decision to extend GM Omar Minaya’s contract at this time. Minaya was signed through 2009. He was given a three-year extension through 2012, with club options for 2013 and 2014.

“We failed this year, and we want to get the redemption we need and move forward, and we feel Omar and his staff are the best group to put us in that position,” Wilpon said. “We were not a good team before Omar took over. … Omar is our guy. We believe in Omar.”

Wilpon also said the current economic crisis in the country has not impacted the construction project at Citi Field: “We have not requested funds above what we have budgeted for.”

Wilpon would not say whether this year’s payroll of $143 million would be exceeded next year, but did not say Minaya had a ceiling.

I’ll have Minaya for you in a few minutes.

-Minaya said negotiations are on-going with manager Jerry Manuel on an extension.

-Minaya said the team is leaning toward bringing back Carlos Delgado. He has already spoken with his agent.