May 31

Mets Must Do More To Stay Relevant

Shaun Marcum is pitching to extend the Mets’ winning streak to six games tonight in Miami. The Mets surprised some people this week, perhaps even the Phillies and Nationals, whom they trail by one and two games, respectively, in the lost column.

The Mets have three with the Marlins before heading to Washington. It sure would add some spice to the spring if the Mets were to close the gap on the Nationals before getting to DC.

PARNELL: Leads recent bullpen surge. (AP_

PARNELL: Leads recent bullpen surge. (AP)

They obviously became relevant to the Yankees this week, but there are several things that must happen for that relevance to carry over to the National League East.

It begins with pitching, and the Mets have been superb in not giving up a walk for three straight games. That’s something they hadn’t done since 1994, and almost incomprehensible.

The time is rapidly approaching when Zack Wheeler could be ready, but they should ride Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee – both coming off strong starts – for as long as they can. Marcum will stay in the rotation by virtue of making $4 million this year.

Mets starters are on a roll with a 2.91 ERA in over their last nine starts. The bullpen is also producing, giving up just two runs in its last 13.2 innings. The Mets bullpen has seven victories, but that can be misleading as it indicates blown saves by the middle-inning pitchers and entering the game with the starter either tied or behind.

Should the pitching continue the Mets could find themselves in an interesting summer. Stranger things have happened.

The Mets’ offense collapsed in the second half last year, and save David Wright and Daniel Murphy, there’s been little consistent production.

That must change, and fast.

Marlon Byrd came through Thursday night and Lucas Duda the night before, but more is needed from Duda and Ike Davis.

How bad has Davis been? Consider this, he has 13 RBI for the season. In contrast, Cubs pitchers have 19 in May.

Davis is batting eighth tonight and those whispers of going back to the minors are getting louder. As long as the Mets are winning, Davis is likely to stay. But, eventually he needs to get this straightened out.

Here’s tonight’s lineup against Miami starter Jacob Turner:

Omar Quintanilla, SS: The eighth Met to hit in the leadoff spot.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Has hit safely in 14 of his last 18 games, including nine doubles, two homers and 10 RBI.

David Wright, 3B: Hitting just .189  (7-37) in his last ten games.

Lucas Duda, LF: Has hit in 11 of last 13 games (.308), including game-ending run Tuesday against Mariano Rivera.

John Buck, C: Hitting .350 (14-40) with RISP.

Rick Ankiel, CF: Has two homers and seven RBI in 15 games with Mets.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Has 14 RBI in 19 games in May.

Ike Davis, 1B: Hitting .141 on the road with no homers.

Shaun Marcum, RHP: Coming off 12-strikeout performance in no-decision against Braves.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

May 29

After The Bad And Ugly, Mets Show Us The Good

Nobody knows what will happen from here, but the New York Mets have given us a show the past three nights. They have given us a respite of thrills with three straight comeback victories in what has been a lifeless spring.

DUDA; Joyous moment.

                           DUDA: Joyous moment.

Let’s not be foolish enough to think the Mets will suddenly turn it on, reel off a 20-of-24 tear and cruise into the All-Star break as a contender. We can’t think that way because there still exist numerous holes and they’ve toyed with our emotions too many times for us to buy into it again.

They are my high school girlfriend, the ultimate tease.

However, the beauty of sports is its power to generate dreams and hope, and that forces us to ask this question about the past three nights: Why can’t they play like this all the time?

Even David Wright wonders from time to time.

“To win the last couple of games the way we have – coming back from behind – I think it gives everybody a little bit of confidence moving forward, especially against one of the upper-tier teams and against the best closer to ever do it. It means a lot,” said Wright, who for the second straight game drove in the tying run in the late innings.

Wright, the best the Mets have to offer, is having a superb season with a realistic chance to start an All-Star Game in his home park.

Although, Tuesday night had its blemishes, Matt Harvey – with Dwight Gooden looking on – gave us a juxtaposition of the Mets’ past and future, and a pretty damned good view of the present.

Harvey made one give-me-that-back pitch to Lyle Overbay, otherwise he could have pitched a shutout. He was that good; good enough for us to imagine him joining Wright in the All-Star Game.

Even so, Harvey was on the hook for his first loss when the Mets came to bat against Mariano Rivera in the ninth. Normally, Rivera might throw, say, nine pitches in a one-two-three night.

Rivera threw nine last night, but it was a double by Daniel Murphy, who again played a huge role, game-tying single by Wright, who advanced to second on an error by Brett Gardner, and scored on a broken bat single by Lucas Duda.

Terry Collins has preached aggressive base running, which is a way for an undermanned team to gain an edge. Wright hustled into scoring position on the error and pushed the envelope on Duda’s hit. Too many runners might have held up and waited for the ball to drop, but Wright got a tremendous jump.

Funny thing, as Wright slid home and Duda waived his teammates onto the field, I couldn’t help but think that would have been Ike Davis’ spot in the order. But, that’s a negative thought, and last night, the past three nights, are to be savored.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

 

May 25

Mets On The Trade Market

As the Mets’ season spirals out of control, it is getting close to the time when the organization will be taking – if not making – calls to test the trade waters at the deadline. The past two years the Mets had key players – Jose Reyes and David Wright – facing free agency that made them prime talent to be dealt.

Not so this year.

GEE: Could today's starter attract interest?

GEE: Could today’s starter attract interest?

Reyes is on Toronto’s disabled list, and Wright is under a long-term contract wondering when the losing will ever end and privately might be asking himself if made a mistake. The Mets will again be sellers leaving Wright to shake his head thinking another summer is slipping away with no hope for October.

In previous seasons, Jon Niese was a trade topic, but despite his off-season he’s not going anywhere. Left-handed pitchers under long-term contracts are always in demand, so the Mets will hang onto him as long as possible.

From the rotation, Shaun Marcum has had a degree of success, so the Mets might offer him, especially if Zack Wheeler has been promoted. Dillon Gee has shown he can get to the sixth inning. That’s also appealing to a contender.

If he were healthy, Frank Francisco would be available since he lost the closer job to Bobby Parnell, but his elbow could keep him on the disabled list for the remainder of the season if it doesn’t end his career.

A month ago, it would have been logical to assume John Buck could be traded, but his connection with Matt Harvey coupled with Travis d’Arnaud’s broken foot will likely keep him playing in front of sparse crowds at Citi Field, perhaps even next year, too.

Two years ago the Red Sox were interested in Ike Davis, but his trade value is low, if not non-existent. Four more strikeouts Friday night is head-scratching. The only exception would be if a team’s first baseman were injured – nobody’s could be slumping more than Davis – and believed he might benefit from a change of scenery.

Contenders are always searching for power, which normally would preclude Daniel Murphy, but also need role players and capable pinch-hitters. For that matter, Mike Baxter and Marlon Byrd could be had. Also, Jordany Valdespin for any team wishing to add a headache.

Teams talking to the Mets always inquire about their young pitching, but Matt Harvey and Wheeler are untouchables. At one time teams coveted Jenrry Mejia, but misuse contributed to an elbow injury and his value is the hope he heals and able to find the strike zone.

The Mets look helpless, but have viable players who could help a contender. It’s not as if they are helping the Mets.

May 22

This Time Ike Davis’ Glove Betrays Mets

Ike Davis’ troubles at the plate and in the field continued as he botched two plays at first, one in which opened the door to the Reds’ three-run ninth inning in Wednesday’s 7-4 loss. With the Mets being swept, they fell to a season-high ten games below .500. Matt Harvey did not have a great start, but came away with another no-decision.

DAVIS: Frustration personified. (AP)

DAVIS: Frustration personified. (AP)

ON THE MOUND: Harvey gave up four runs on nine hits in 6.1 innings. …. Bobby Parnell gave up three runs on three hits in the ninth inning.

AT THE PLATE: Davis walked twice, and in a comment that says it all about the kind of season he is having, Terry Collins said it might be a good sign. … Daniel Murphy had three hits and Rick Ankiel doubled twice and tripled. All other Mets combined for three hits.

IN THE FIELD: Davis hesitated on a ground ball up the line in the seventh and a run scored. He let another get by him in the ninth to let another run score and opened the door for two more. Unbelievably, Collins said Davis isn’t carrying his slump to the field.

THEY SAID IT: “It just typifies everything that’s happened.’’  Collins on Davis’ fielding adventures in the ninth inning.

BY THE NUMBERS: 17-27 record to fall season-high ten games below .500.

ON DECK: Mets off Thursday, then begin a three-run series against Atlanta Friday at Citi Field.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

May 22

Mets’ Offense Flat Again In 4-0 Loss To Reds

jon niese

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The Cincinnati Reds (25-18) shutout the New York Mets (17-25) by the score of 4-0 tonight at a sparsely crowded Citi Field.

Left-hander Jon Niese started for the Mets and and after getting the first two outs in the first inning he allowed a hit and a pair of walks to load the bases. Niese had a chance to come out of the inning unscathed and induced a hard grounder to third for what should have been the third out. However, David Wright committed his fourth error of the season as the ball went under his glove and through his legs allowing two runs to score. Niese was rattled after that and allowed another run to score before finally getting the third out to put the Reds up 3-0. All of the runs were unearned.

Niese threw 48 pitches in that wild first inning and it appeared he was heading for an early shower. But to his credit he gutted out five scoreless innings after that and wound up giving the Mets a very solid effort allowing just five hits and three walks in six innings while striking out seven. Niese took the loss, but saw his ERA improve to 4.80 for the season.

The Reds score their fourth and final run in the ninth when Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco greeted Collin McHugh with a home run to leadoff the inning.

Offensively, the Mets had nothing but blanks… Nothing but the same sorry, pitiful offense that has plagued the team all season. Reds starter Mike Leake hurled seven scoreless innings and allowed the Mets’ only three hits of the game – one each by Lucas Duda, John Buck and Daniel Murphy.

It’s getting pretty hard to watch this team and I thought Sandy Alderson would address that while he visited the with gary Cohen and Ron Darling in the third inning, but he was at a loss for words. He said he was going to continue to hang in there with Ike Davis a little longer, which is the last thing anyone of us wanted to hear. Davis batted seventh and went 0-for-three tonight and saw his batting average fall to .149 for the season. Pathetic.

The Mets will wrap up the series tomorrow afternoon at 1:10 PM when right-hander Matt Harvey (5-0, 1.55 ERA) takes on Mat Latos (4-0, 2.91 ERA) and tries to avoid the sweep.