Oct 24

Commentary: Can HoJo really have an impact?

HoJo: How effective can he be really?

HoJo: How effective can he be really?

Howard Johnson is back as Mets’ hitting coach, which is fine by me because I enjoy talking with him. However, I’m not so sure things will be any different next year, and I wonder whether it is because of the same hitting coach or the same players.

I’m thinking the latter.

I hitting coach can go over film and mechanics with a hitter, but once he’s in the box, that guy is on his own and he’d better know what to do.

Every situation calls for a specific fundamental approach.

-It begins with getting on base, and it doesn’t matter how. Take the damn walk. And, this includes everybody, not just Jose Reyes, who fails to work the count. When they win and the offense clicks, David Wright likes to say, “we kept the line moving.” Well …. ? Why don’t they have that approach all the time. The Mets wasted way too many at-bats last year, and that starts with the approach by the hitter, who should have learned what to do in high school.

-Runner on second, no outs, hit the ball to the right side of the infield.

-Runner on third, less than two outs, hit a fly ball.

This isn’t brain surgery, it’s baseball.

Reyes need to bunt more, increase his walks and decrease his strikeouts. He needs to hit the ball on the ground. … Carlos Delgado must discover left field more than he does. … By his own admission, Wright must learn to relax and not try to do it all when runners are in scoring position.

Johnson is there to remind the players and work with them on mechanics, but it’s up to the players to be thinking the right approach. Johnson can remind them, but it’s up to Jerry Manuel from Day One in spring training to harp on them what to do.

Oct 22

James: Mets’ core pretty good.

James: Likes Wright and Reyes.

James: Likes Wright and Reyes.

The young core some people would like to break up ranks high with analyst Bill James, who ranks David Wright fourth and Jose Reyes ninth in his list of the top major leaguers under 30 years old in his book, “Young Talent Inventory.”

Overall, the Mets are ranked 16th in terms of young talent, which is in the middle of the pack and nothing to get excited about.

Here’s James’ top 25:

?1. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers first baseman, age 24
?2. Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins shortstop, age 24
?3. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants pitcher, age 24
?4. David Wright, New York Mets third baseman, age 25
?5. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers left fielder, age 24
?6. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox second baseman, age 24
?7. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder, age 23
?8. Francisco Rodriguez, Los Angeles Angels pitcher, age 26
?9. Jose Reyes, New York Mets shortstop, age 25
10. Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles right fielder, age 24
11. Joakim Soria, Kansas City Royals pitcher, age 24
12. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals third baseman, age 23
13. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, age 24
14. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies shortstop, age 23
15. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners pitcher, age 22
16. Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox pitcher, age 24
17. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays third baseman, age 22
18. John Danks, Chicago White Sox pitcher, age 23
19. Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres first baseman, age 26
20. James Loney, Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman, age 24
21. Stephen Drew, Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop, age 25
22. Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves catcher, age 24
23. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers first baseman, age 25
24. Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians center fielder, age 25
25. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds first baseman, age 24

Three other Mets’ prospects, reliever Eddie Kunz, catcher Josh Thole and outfielder Daniel Murphy were selected to play in AFL All-Star Game Friday night.

Oct 16

Wright willing to help

Wright: Only an idiot would think of trading him.

Wright: Only an idiot would think of trading him.

David Wright said he wouldn’t lobby the Mets’ front office as to what free agents they pursue, but is willing to help out should he be asked.

“I stay out of the whole front-office decision making, who they go after, who they are trading for,” Wright said. “But if they ever came to me and asked me to speak to a free agent and show him around New York, I live there now, so I would be more than happy to do that.”

There are those who have foolishly suggested the Mets trade Wright, but he’s not going anywhere. He remains the face of the franchise.

I covered the Orioles for a long time and told him he reminds me of Cal Ripken in how the club promotes him. He said he was flattered, and like Ripken, wants to play his entire career with the Mets.

Quite simply, you don’t trade players like Wright.

Oct 14

Commentary: Trading Murphy.

Murphy: Maybe his greatest value is as trade bait.

Murphy: Maybe his greatest value is as trade bait.

There’s a lot to like about Daniel Murphy.

He plays the game hard and smart; he’s the grit the team has been accused of lacking. A third baseman by trade who will not get the opportunity because of David Wright, he was moved to left field, and now in the Arizona Fall League is playing second and first.

Versatile defensively, and patient offensively, Murphy is on the inside track of being a star. All this, and he’s not making any money.

Yes, there’s a lot to like about Murphy, and no doubt, other teams have noticed. He could very well be the Mets most tradeable commodity on the major league level. That’s why the Mets should think about dealing him now when his value is high.

Let’s face it, the Mets aren’t going to deal Wright or Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran’s contract makes him difficult to deal. As far as Carlos Delgado, his age, contract, and the question if his second half was a fluke makes him hard to trade.

Who else on the major league level can be used to acquire the pitching that’s needed. Trust me, I like Murphy. I think he can be a star. But, the Mets’ have pressing needs that maybe he, in the right package, can can solve.

Given that, dealing him might be the way to go.

Oct 07

Fair or not, HoJo on hot seat.

Eyes on HoJo

Eyes on HoJo

Nothing new on the coaching front. Jerry Manuel thinks early next week his staff should be finalized.

On the hot seat is Howard Johnson, who said at the end of the season he believed the club had the right pieces.

Maybe they do, but something is missing, and it’s not all Johnson’s fault.

These are major leaguers and they shouldn’t have to “buy into’’ anything. They should know how to work a count and advance a runner.

It’s an organizational thing, and on the major league level, that’s the manager. We see guys swinging at garbage all the time, and in the case of Jose Reyes, where’s the encouragement to take the walk?

All I hear was they don’t want to take away his aggressiveness. Well, if Reyes walked 100 times and bunted for hits more, he’d be devastating offensively.

There’s more.

Carlos Beltran should steal more. … It wouldn’t kill Carlos Delgado to go to left against the shift. … Perhaps the batting order is flawed. Maybe Reyes shouldn’t be leading off. … David Wright was way too impatient this year.

There are a lot of ways to improve the offense having nothing to do with firing Johnson, but, that’s not how the game is played.