Mar 08

March 8.10: Maine goes today.

John Maine isn’t a project the way Mike Pelfrey and Oliver are, but he’s a question nonetheless. When healthy, the Mets have a reasonable idea what to expect from Maine, once considered a throw-in in the Kris Benson with Baltimore.

But, how healthy is Maine?

“It feels fine,’’ Maine said at the start of spring training when asked about his surgically repaired shoulder. “It feels like it did three, four years ago.’’

Three years ago appeared to be a breakout year for Maine, who made 32 starts and went 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA. However, Maine complained of fatigue in his shoulder the following summer and eventually missed his last seven starts because of surgery to remove bone spurs in his shoulder.

Surgery was deemed successful, but by his own admission he rushed his comeback saying “maybe I was trying to make up for lost time.’’

Maine made only 15 starts last season and went 7-6 with a 4.43 ERA. Maine’s biggest problem last year was an inability to amp it up and pitch out of trouble. He came back at the end of the year to show he was recovering, then modified his off-season program by starting later and throwing less.

Today’s start against the Florida Marlins won’t be about getting people out as it will be another test for his shoulder and to see what he might have picked up working with Sandy Koufax earlier this spring.

Koufax had Maine using a longer stride when delivering his fastball and concentrating on working on the inner half of the plate.

When healthy the Mets have a good idea from what to expect from Maine, although the organization believes the potential ceiling is higher with Pelfrey and Perez.

“I think being able to go out there every five days,’’ Maine said when asked the key for a successful season from him. “When I do go out there I generally give the team a chance to win.’’

Here’s the line-up behind Maine:

Angel Pagan CF
Fernando Martinez RF
David Wright 3B
Jason Bay LF
Daniel Murphy 1B
Rod Barajas C
Russ Adams 2B
Ruben Tejada SS
John Maine RP

Feb 27

Feb. 27.10: Mets batting order.

As of now, the question in the Mets’ batting order is at 4-5, where Jerry Manuel needs to decide how to slot David Wright and Jason Bay.

Jose Reyes, unfortunately, is still ticketed to bat third, with Angel Pagan and Luis Castillo hitting one-two. Then comes Wright-Bay  followed by Daniel Murphy, Jeff Francoeur, Rod Barajas and the pitcher.

With Carlos Beltran out, Wright is the Mets’ best hitter and should be third, with Reyes leading off. However, since that won’t be the case, I think he should bat fifth with Bay at clean-up. When the Mets’ batting order was its most potent in 2006, it had Beltran-Carlos Delgado-Wright.

With Reyes third, and presumably on base, Bay should get more fastballs and Wright would offer protection in the order. I like Murphy sixth because it should afford him more RBI opportunities.

Feb 20

Feb. 20.10: Believe it when I see it.

Jerry Manuel is saying Daniel Murphy will be the starter at first base. Not only that, but it could be less of a platoon than anybody thought, with Murphy also batting against left handers. If true, the the operative word there is IF, then I’m all for it.

How else is Murphy going to develop if he doesn’t get to face all kinds of pitching? The upside for him is greater than that of Fernando Tatis.

But, announcements like that have been made before. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Feb 15

Feb. 15.10: Who’s primed for a breakout year?

When you look at all the Mets’ issues, it must be remembered the flip side is also true and that the positive could happen. No, today I’m not looking at who I consider the most important Met to be – for me it is Jose Reyes in the field and Mike Pelfrey on the mound – but the guy poised for a breakout season. By that, I mean his best year and finally showing signs of potential.

MAINE: Could this be a breakout year?

MAINE: Could this be a breakout year?


What’s your gut telling you?

Will one of the catchers step up and shed the platoon label?
Will Daniel Murphy show some power?
Will Pelfrey, John Maine or Oliver Perez shake the inconsistency label and win north of 15 games?
Will Jeff Francoeur become the power the Braves once projected of him?

Scanning the Mets’ roster, two names immediately grab my attention as possibilities for breakout seasons: Murphy and Maine.

I like Murphy to have a big year because of last year was a learn-on-the-job experience which he picked up fairly well. I also believe with a full year of learning the pitchers and getting stronger, that his power numbers should increase. He won’t hit 40, but 20 would be a significant improvement.

I’m also liking Maine because all indications are he’s healthy. Sometimes, it is the second year after the surgery when a pitcher feels comfortable again. I believe Pelfrey will improve; have no clue about Perez, but I’m trying to think positive; but I think Maine is poised to have a year better than 2007 when he won 15 games.

Feb 10

Feb. 10.10: Around the Horn.

Responding to some news items:

REPORT: Mets out of money?

REPORT: Mets out of money?


* Fox Sports.com says the Mets are out of money, which is preventing them from signing Rob Barajas, and kept them from Joel Pineiro.

Considering nobody has access to the Mets’ finances outside the team, I don’t know how they could report that and be totally accurate. Maybe the Mets just don’t want to spend the money. A team out of money doesn’t spent $66 million on Jason Bay.

I think the Mets looked at the FA landscape, saw they couldn’t win without breaking the bank and opted just to be competitive instead. Competitive keeps the fans coming all summer.

* I do think, however, it is a mistake not to take a look at Chien-Ming Wang. Reports have been good on his shoulder and would be worth the gamble. Certainly, he would have come for less than Ben Sheets, another injury gamble.

* I was pleased to see Keith Hernandez working with Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans. I always knew he would if he were asked. Not to use a valuable resource like that is foolish.

In a conference call, Hernandez said: “For Dan last year, in midseason, to have to move over to first base and basically learn on the job at the major-league level, that’s a lot to ask; and I just thought that he really did admirably. I was surprised at how he played first base. It was much better than I expected.’’

* ESPN is reporting the Mets are close to re-signing first baseman Mike Jacobs.