Apr 03

Niese sharp against Marlins; Dickey goes for series win.

The way things started last night for Jon Niese, I didn’t expect him to last long, set alone give up only one hit in the next six innings.

NIESE: Sharp last night.

That upside I mentioned yesterday about Niese? Well, we saw it last night.  He was a definite bright spot. So was David Wright, who drove in two runs with a homer and single.

 

With Jason Bay down and the Carlos Beltran on the mend, the Mets need a good start from Wright.

Beltran, meanwhile, scored from first on a double by Ike Davis. He also doesn’t seem to have any problems moving in the outfield.

I like how the Mets came back from the first inning and after Francisco Rodriguez blew a save opportunity in the ninth. There was no sign of a fragile confidence.

Other good impressions after the first two games:

* Everybody is hustling. No malingerers in the batting box.

* Brad Emaus has looked comfortable at second.

* There’s pep in Jose Reyes’ step.

The Mets go for the series win this afternoon behind R.A. Dickey.

Here’s the batting order:

Jose Reyes, SS

Willie Harris, LF

David Wright, 3B

Ike Davis, 1B

Angel Pagan, CF

Lucas Duda, RF

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Josh Thole, C

R.A. Dickey, RP

 

Apr 01

Terry Collins sends open letter to Mets’ fans

What we’ve been waiting for since that final Sunday at Citi Field, when Oliver Perez was booed off the mound for the last time is hours away: The start of another era in Mets’ history.

COLLINS: A new era begins

The Yankees had their moment yesterday, and I’m watching Roy Halladay and the Phillies are in a pitching duel with Houston. Meanwhile, in Florida, Mets manager Terry Collins is already at the ballpark and his players are trickling into the clubhouse.

For today, at least, the disappointments of the past have given way to optimism despite the issues – on and off the field – swirling around this team. It’s Opening Day, for some the real New Year’s day, and the air is full of hope and positive feelings.

Collins, who hasn’t stopped working since he was hired to replace Jerry Manuel, began his work day by sending the following open letter to Mets’ fans:

 

Dear Mets Fan:

With our 2011 opener tonight in Florida, I want to make this pledge to Mets fans — our team will play the game the right way.

We will always hustle on the bases, run balls down in the outfield and never take anything for granted, no matter the score of the game.

We had a great Spring Training. From Day 1 my message has been look ahead, not backward, and not to worry about what the people outside the clubhouse are saying. If we pitch and play defense like I know we can, we will surprise a lot of people, a lot of people.

I stack our lineup against anyone else’s in the league. Getting Carlos Beltran back and hitting cleanup is really big. The way Carlos handled his move to right field was one of the classiest things I have ever seen. Angel Pagan is coming off a great season. While we had a little setback this week with Jason Bay — who was swinging the bat well — going on the disabled list, he shouldn’t be out too long. We believe with the three of them on the field, we have one of the top outfields in baseball.

Our infield is anchored by the two All-Stars on the left side: David Wright at third and Jose Reyes at short. I think David will add on to his numbers from last year and Jose is ready to have a tremendous season. He is one of the most dynamic players in the game. Ike Davis will continue to develop at first base and Josh Thole is one of the fine young catchers in the game. Brad Emaus, a Rule 5 pick, got better and better as the spring went on and won the second base job.

On the mound, sure, we are going to miss Johan Santana until he comes back, hopefully in mid-year. But this spring, I think we established a solid rotation with Mike Pelfrey, followed by R.A. Dickey and Jonathon Niese. Chris Young and Chris Capuano proved that they are healthy, and they really strengthen us on the back end.

We remade our bullpen and we think we have quality arms who throw strikes to get to closer Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod has just had a fantastic spring and I never have seen him throwing better. People like Bobby Parnell, D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz, Blaine Boyer, Tim Byrdak and Pedro Beato — another Rule 5 selection who is from Queens — will give us a solid ‘pen.

I believe we have fortified our bench with the additions of Scott Hairston, Willie Harris, Ronny Paulino (who will begin the year on the disabled list) and Chin-lung Hu, along with Daniel Murphy.

It’s been 12 years since I have started a season as a Major League manager. I can’t tell you how proud I am to be leading the New York Mets and am very excited about the season ahead.

Thanks for your support and see you at Citi Field.

Sincerely,

Terry Collins

 

Realistically, I didn’t expect Collins to write anything else, but then again I don’t recall a gesture like this recently from a Mets’ manager. David Wright said Collins’ team speech to close spring training was like something out of “Hoosiers.”

Maybe the odds are as long for the Mets this year as they were for Hickory High School, but for today at least, it is time to believe in miracles.

Afterall, isn’t that what Opening Days are for.

 

NEXT UP: Tonight’s lineup and 2011 Over/Unders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 23

Mets to consider Murphy/Emaus platoon at second

Just because he hustles doesn’t mean Daniel Murphy will win the second base job. There are concerns about his defensive abilities, and while he has shown glimpses of offensive production, it is still a small window.

MURPHY: Competing for second base job.

The Mets like Rule 5 selection Brad Emaus’ potential, and he’ll get a nod over Justin Turner because the latter has remaining options.

The book on Emaus is he has adequate range and power potential as he hit ten homers in 309 at-bats for Toronto’s Triple A affiliate last summer.

Could he and Murphy share the job in a platoon basis? Absolutely.

Also working in Emaus’ favor is his ability to back up David Wright at third. Murphy, of course, can back up Ike Davis at first, so that platoon offers versatility.

Where does that leave Luis Castillo?

The Mets would love to deal him, but aren’t close to drawing any interest. Reports are Castillo could have reported in better shape, and although he didn’t come to camp early because of a family situation, he didn’t tell the Mets what was going on.

Manager Terry Collins said he would have preferred Castillo report early, but said that while not being aware of Castillo’s situation. A little communication would have spared Castillo a dig from his new manager.

Not a good start by Castillo, who has to be flawless to make the team.

I believe the deciding factor at second base is defense. If Murphy/Emaus show they can handle the position, it would go a long way to keeping that platoon over Castillo, whose defense skills are on a decline.

Feb 08

Could Wilpon mess make Wright expendable?

It wasn’t surprising to hear David Wright is already is Port St. Lucie working out long before his report date. He’s consistently been an early show. A lot of Mets arrived early which is a good and refreshing sign. What better way to begin a new culture?

WRIGHT: Could Mets' financial woes make him expendable?

Wright is correct when he said the Mets haven’t won anything, but he’s been saying that since the spring of 2007. He broke no new ground there.

“It’s to the point now where you’ve got to put up or shut up,” Wright told reporters. “When it’s all said and done, I want to win, and we haven’t done that. … We have to be a team on a mission, no question about it.”

Saying they are on a mission is one thing. Following through on that mission is something else, especially with what the Mets are saying are limited resources. Perhaps the most telling thing Wright said was his admission the Wilpon’s legal and financial struggles have distraction potential.

“Anytime you’re talking about, in the clubhouse, anytime you’re talking about something that has nothing to do with the pitcher that you’re facing that night or the hitters that you’re facing if you’re a pitcher then, you know, it’s somewhat of a distraction,” Wright told XM Radio.

And, you know there will be plenty of trade and contract talk around the trade deadline involving Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes, and what moves the Mets should make.

There is one certainty in the uncertainty that is the Wilpon mess, and that is there will be limited if any spending this year, especially with the Mets likely to eat the Oliver Perez contract. The Mets, as they’ve done the past few seasons, will likely not make any additions at the trade deadline, regardless of how well they are doing. To the contrary, they will attempt to sell off some of their parts, maybe even Reyes.

We don’t know the severity of what’s to come of the Wilpons and how this could play out. Should the Mets be forced to deal Reyes in July, and the Ponzi fallout lingers into next season, who is to say Wright won’t become expendable? He’s signed through 2012 (with a club option for 2013), productive and making a salary relatively easy to unload (he’ll make $14 million this year and $15 million in 2012, with a $16 million option for 2013).

If the Mets are forced to go into full rebuild mode, Wright would bring the most back in return.

I hope it doesn’t come to this, and I believe the Mets will do everything they can to keep Wright, but we don’t know what conditions will be beyond their control in the future. And, that would be very distracting.

Jan 19

Collins getting ready for spring training

It was cold and rainy outside, but there was a definite feel of spring in the air inside Citi Field this afternoon when manager Terry Collins and several players played host to 25 fifth and sixth graders at the Mets’ third annual After School Sports Program.

COLLINS: Getting ready for spring training.

With spring training less than a month away, Collins touched on a myriad of issues, saying:

1) Mike Pelfrey will be his Opening Day starter against Florida. Said Collins: “He deserves it. Right now, I think Mike Pelfrey should be the No. 1 guy on this staff.’’

2) He will meet with Carlos Beltran at the start of spring training about a move to right field. Beltran will get a chance to prove he’s healthy. Collins said a decision would be made after roughly 10 games.

3) The top five in his batting order would be: Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan, David Wright, Beltran and Jason Bay. Collins said Beltran and Bay are ready physically.

4) Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez are expected to be in camp and not released before. Collins said Castillo could still win the second base job.

5) With Reyes healthy, “I’ll turn him loose,’’ and he could be a 50-60 steal player again. Reyes said he’s ready for spring training, and regarding his contract situation, added that’s not on his mind. “I want to play baseball and see what happens,’’ Reyes said.

6) Could live with 150 strikeouts from David Wright “as long as he’s driving in runs.’’ Wright’s production should increase and his strikeouts decrease with a healthy Beltran and Bay behind him.

7) He is set with three starters Pelfrey, RA Dickey and Jon Niese, with and Chris Young, Dillon Gee and Chris Capuano competing for the fourth and fifth spots.

8) Will stress fundamentals in spring training, adding he’s aiming for 30 innings from the starters and 70 at-bats from the starting position players.

9) The Mets anticipate adding another left-handed reliever.