May 20

Appearances Are Piling Up For Reliever Scott Rice

scott riceLefty reliever Scott Rice tossed two scoreless innings to pick up the win against the Cubs on Sunday. It was his major league-leading 25th appearance of the season.

Rice lowered his ERA to 3.05, and is now on pace for 99 appearances. That would surpass Pedro Feliciano‘s franchise mark of 92 games in 2010 and rank second all-time to Mike Marshall‘s 106 appearances for the Dodgers in 1974.

That is one heck of a workload to say the least, and to think that it’s coming from a pitcher who has toiled for 14 years in the minors before finally getting his shot in the majors makes this all the more amazing.

Rice, the 31 year old rookie, is proving to be the second best weapon in the Mets bullpen after closer Bobby Parnell. However, how long can he continue on this torrid pace before it all catches up to him and he begins to breakdown?

“Right now it’s early enough in the year”, manager Terry Collins said. “We’ve tried to get him some days off. But he keeps pitching four out of five, it’s got to be a concern. We’ve got to certainly pick up some of the workload with somebody else.”

Rice has no complaints and is enjoying every minute of his new-found life in the majors, but he also understands the risks.

“If my arm is feeling fine, I’m going to go out there and throw,” Rice said. “I’m going to be smart, and I know my body. I know how to take care of myself and prepare myself to throw every day.”

I’ve been pulling for Rice since back in Spring Training and was so glad for him when he made the team, but I never expected he would play such a significant role this season. Here’s to more great outings for this veteran rook, who definitely knows his place. He earned it the hard way.

Apr 30

Jeremy Hefner Tries To Stop Mets’ Slide

Jeremy Hefner: Streak stopper.

Some clairvoyant on television said this morning, “the Mets have lost five straight for the first time this season.’’  He’s probably right, but that’s an awful assumption.

All streaks must end somewhere, and while Matt Harvey didn’t stop the slide last night, the Mets will ask Hefner to do it tonight.

Hefner, who hasn’t been consistently good this season, is coming off a solid start in which he gave up a run in seven innings, April 25, against the Dodgers.

The Mets, losers of five straight and nine of their last 12 games, will need Hefner to contain two horrible statistics: he’s walked at least three in each of his last three starts, and he’s given up seven homers in 21 innings

A big Ouch! on that last number.

“It bugged me a little more than I let on,’’ Hefner said of the homers allowed after the Dodger start. “If I’m successful, I’m getting groundballs. … So that’s something I’ve still got to work on.’’

A case can be made Hefner saved his job last week against the Dodgers, but then again, just whom do the Mets have to replace him? They won’t bring up Zack Wheeler before he’s ready, and he’s not close.

Hefner was thrust into the rotation when Johan Santana went down, but he’s become a mainstay. Hefner matter-of-factly says his objective with each game is to give the Mets a quality start, which is three runs given up in six innings, something he’s done twice in four starts.

The offense has to shoulder some of the blame for the Mets being 0-4 in Hefner’s starts as it has given him eight runs in 20 innings.

Hefner is what he is, and that’s a fifth starter. His outpitched his job description in his last start, but he’s not living up to his stated goal of six innings.

The bullpen worked 9.1 innings last night, and with the short turnaround before Wednesday afternoon’s game, the Mets need six from Hefner tonight. His job would be a little easier if the Mets scored some runs, too.

Just saying.

Dec 09

Mets Matters: Wright Should Be Named Captain

As expected, with David Wright signed comes the inevitable talk of him being named captain. This isn’t like Santonio Holmes being made captain; this would have meaning.

WRIGHT: Future captain?

The meaning comes in Wright’s teammates already regard him in that capacity. Wright is already the team leader, whether it be telling the manager Jose Reyes isn’t healthy; or talking to a pitcher; or telling a young player, such as Jordany Valdespin he’d better hustle.

Wright, referred to as the face of the franchise, is as much a captain to his teammates as Derek Jeter was to the Yankees before George Steinbrenner made it official. When things go wrong for the Mets, as they frequently have since 2008, Wright is the voice in the clubhouse. Everybody in the media wants a Wright comment.

It would shock me if the Mets didn’t make it official in spring training. What’s really surprising is this hasn’t been done sooner.

VALDESPIN SHOWS PUNK SIDE: Valdespin had attitude issues last season, and things haven’t changed.

Valdespin was suspended for two games by his winter ball team for failing to run out a ball, and then the following day had a fit when he was pinch-hit for.

His latest example was when he tweeted a photo of himself wearing a Miami Marlins hat. Hell, if he wants to be a Marlin so bad, let him go.

With the Mets are trying to establish a new culture, the last thing they need is a punk attitude. Valdespin is damn lucky to be a major league ballplayer. He should take his $500-thousand minimum salary and be grateful.

NOTHING NEW WITH DICKEY: CEO Jeff Wilpon reiterated R.A. Dickey could not be traded and could play out this season with his $5 million option and negotiations could continue next winter as the knuckleballer doesn’t want to talk during the season.

Enhancing the chances Dickey stays with the Mets will be if the Dodgers sign Zack Greinke. The Rangers and Dodgers are the two key players to get the former Royals ace.

I would like this thing to just get done and have the Mets going into the season without this hanging over their heads.

HAMILTON ON YANKEES’ RADAR: Despite their talk of wanting to cut payroll, you knew eventually the Yankees would be paired to Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton.

Instead of establishing the bar, the Yankees seem content to let this play out and have Hamilton come to them. Hamilton still might stay with Texas, but most everybody knew the Yankees would factor in this somehow.

 

Dec 08

Rangers Blow Away Zack Greinke

Jim Bowden of ESPN tweeted that free agent starter Zack Greinke was “blown away” by the offer from Nolan Ryan and the Rangers Front Office.

Greinke said he loves the Rangers roster and their minor league prospects, and is turned on by their chances to win a World Series.

Meanwhile it looks like both the Dodgers and Angels are retreating from the chase to sign Greinke.

According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Greinke talks have reached a “critical stage” and the Dodgers are now considering bowing out and moving on to other pursuits. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti offered a pessimistic response when asked whether the club was close to signing Greinke.

“We’re not on the front lawn.We’re barely out of the car at the curb. It’s better than driving around the neighborhood looking for the house. We know where the house is located. We just can’t seem to get out of the car.”

Bowden also adds that according to a source there will be no last minute strike by the Angels to land Greinke like they did last year for Pujols. VERY UNLIKELY, is how he puts it.

Once Greinke signs and is off the market, it is expected to usher in a phase of depravity and desperation unlike anything we’ve ever seen before in prior offseasons.

It is exactly what Sandy Alderson has been waiting for as he dangles R.A. Dickey in front of a pack of ravenous and voracious wild dogs who all hunger for the taste of his flesh.

At least that’s what some fans and bloggers think. ;-)

"I think I see a knuckleballer all alone and in distress." "What's a knuckleballer?"

Aug 25

What If Selig Treated Mets The Way He Did Dodgers?

Over a year ago the Dodgers and Mets were in deep financial distress when Commissioner Bud Selig strong armed Los Angeles owner Frank McCourt into selling the team by first taking financial control?

SELIG: What if? (AP)

He did so despite claims McCourt had worked out a regional television deal that might have eased most of the Dodgers’ problems. The Dodgers were eventually sold to a group that includes Magic Johnson, and yesterday they had the resources to pull off a blockbuster deal with the Boston Red Sox and take on over $250 million in payroll. This, after trading for Hanley Ramirez.

Obviously, the Dodgers have deep pockets. Today, while watching R.A. Dickey win his 16th game and break the Mets’ latest five-game losing streak, I couldn’t help but wonder what might be had Selig treated the Mets’ ownership of Fred Wilpon with the same tenacity he directed at the Dodgers.

If for sale, what could the Mets, with the team, SNY and Citi Field brought on the open market? If the Mets had deep pockets I wouldn’t have made the trade the Dodgers because of the players involved.

But, seemingly unrelated resources could have bought other worthy players this team needs. Just wondering.