Oct 03

Mets season ends with disappointment, hope for future

Game #162 vs. Nationals

We’re now done to the final innings, the final pitches of a disappointing season, yet one that ends with some glimmer of hope.

Jerry Manuel spoke of regrets this morning in his final pre-game press conference. He’s been around, he hears the whispers that have become shouts. There will be changes, and therein lies the hope. Maybe the changes will be for the better.

Manuel’s regrets are forcing Jose Reyes in the third slot and rushing players, notably Reyes and Carlos Beltran from injury. I am sure there are other thoughts that will creep into his consciousness in the black of the night this winter.

It’s always that way in every baseball season for every team but one. This year the Mets haven’t been the one as they haven’t been since 1986. There was trepidation for the Mets coming out of spring training, concerns, worries and holes, but during the season there was a turnaround and a flash of hope.

But, the worries and holes resurfaced, along with injuries and poor play and the season faded and then spun out of control and the dreams died.

The Mets will stay home this fall, watching and wondering what might have been. There also will be a time this winter when the thoughts turn to David Wright staring down that pitcher yesterday and saying “enough is enough,” with the high-and-tight fastballs. There will also be thoughts of Mike Pelfrey taking a step forward, of Angel Pagan, or Josh Thole, or RA Dickey and of Ike Davis.

There were things down the stretch that said the situation is not hopeless, that there is reason for hope and perhaps soon a season won’t end in regret.

To access the chat room, click onto the Mets Chat icon to your left.

Jun 08

Mets Chat Room: Wright takes hot bat into SD series.

Game #58 vs. Padres

A strikeout machine for much of this season, David Wright enters tonight’s game against the San Diego Padres on a big-time tear, with 13 hits in his last 25 at-bats – most of them scalded.

During that span Wright only struck out four times, three of them last Wednesday at San Diego. He did not strike out during the Florida series.

Wright said he was all over the place earlier this season, but has become more selective over the past week not chasing the sliders away. He’s also been quicker with the bat and getting to the inside fastball.

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May 13

May 13.10: Chat Room, Game #35 at Marlins: Classic pitcher’s duel.

The Mets begin an eight-game road trip tonight in Florida in a classic pitcher’s duel: Johan Santana vs. Josh Johnson.

Something has to break because both pitchers dominate the opposition, with Santana 6-1 with a 1.66 ERA in eight career starts against the Marlins. Johnson is not the type of pitcher a team in a hitting funk likes to face. He is 7-1 against the Mets, including 4-0 with a 2.14 ERA in five home starts against them.

The Mets’ lone victory over Johnson came Opening Day at Citi Field. The Marlins, however, won the next two games of that series.

The Mets need to get Jose Reyes going. Reyes is mired in a season-long slump, which hasn’t been helped by the move to third in the batting order. Reyes is batting .228 with a .283 on-base percentage. He is hitting .242 since being moved out of the leadoff spot.

Clearly, he’s not performing well hitting third. He’s trying to do too much with the ball. He’s better off going back to first where he’s more comfortable. Hitting is all about comfort, and Reyes looks uncomfortable at the plate. He’s reaching for pitches and is swinging with more of an uppercut than he has in the past.

However, manager Jerry Manuel is insistent on leaving Reyes third in the order ahead of Jason Bay. Manuel’s theory is Bay will see more fastballs with Reyes on ahead of him. The problem is Reyes isn’t on much these days. And, Bay only has one homer on the season, so where he has benefitted I’m not sure.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
Johan Santana, LP

NOTE: I have my class tonight and won’t be home until nine. Hope to see you then.

May 06

May 6.10: Return Reyes to the top.

It’s time for Jerry Manuel to call in the dogs on his batting order experiment and return Jose Reyes from third to leading off.

In theory, the switch was to provide Jason Bay with more fastballs with Reyes on base as a steal threat. In reality, neither is hitting and it is time to return to the basics … and that begins with Reyes.

Reyes is out of his element in the three hole and you can see that in every swing-out-of-his shoes at-bat. Reyes has become the pop-up king. It is clear he has adjusted his game mentally and is trying to lift everything.

Personally, I think when they go back Reyes will be so entrenched in bad habits that he’ll be totally lose.

As for Bay, he’s not hitting anything, fastballs included.

“I’ve been seeing more fastballs because I can’t hit them,’’ said Bay, who hit in nine straight then has fallen into a funk going hitless in his last 15 at-bats and is batting just .238 on the season and on pace to strike out 191 times.

The Mets knew when they signed him that he’d be streaky, so maybe he’ll figure it out. Then again, maybe he won’t and will have the kind of power year David Wright had last season. Only thing, Wright made up for it with average and getting on base.

For the past five seasons we’ve been told Reyes has the potential to be this generation’s Rickey Henderson. He, quite simply, has all the tools to be the game’s premier leadoff hitter.

Angel Pagan, however, does not. So return to the fundamentals and put Reyes back into the spot where he has the best chance to perform.

A No. 2 needs to be patient, he needs to exercise bat control and put the ball in play. Hitting second snapped Wright out of slumps before and it might be time to think the same might work for Bay. And, if Reyes snaps out of it, Bay should be seeing those fastballs Manuel promised. If nothing else, it will remove what has been a consistent out in the middle of the order.

Wright is the team’s best hitter in Carlos Beltran’s absence and should go back to hitting third.

Quite honestly, if you tinker with Bay hitting second – and I doubt they will – that leaves a hole at No. 4. If not there are four options: Jeff Francoeur, who has been spotty lately; Ike Davis, who might have the best plate presence in the line-up and Rod Barajas, who is tied with Wright for the team lead in homers.

As Reyes played out of his game moving to third, I’d be wary of moving Davis to clean-up for fear of picking up bad habits.

I’d try Francoeur – who has hit there before – and have Davis bat fifth followed by Barajas. Then I’d go with Pagan and Luis Castillo, which in theory would bunch the speed together and consequently help Bay.

Whatever Manuel does, something needs to be done because this line-up isn’t clicking. Manuel made the initial move out of desperate measures. Well, these are also desperate measures.

Apr 25

April 25.10: Is Bay warming up a coincidence?

Jason Bay is starting to warm up, but it is premature to say the line-up switch lit the fire. Dropping Jose Reyes from leadoff to third is, in theory, supposed to provide Bay with more fastballs.

After a RBI triple Friday and three hits yesterday, Bay said: “It’s really only relevant if Reyes is on first or second,’’ Bay said. “I haven’t noticed a huge difference. I think it coincides with me feeling lot better.’’

Bay is too good a hitter for results to not eventually show. Bay said he’s not there, yet, but does feel more relaxed at the plate.

“A few hits I’ve gotten and at-bats I’ve taken, I feel a lot more comfortable and it’s starting to show,’’ said Bay, who has struck out 23 times, but none since the switch.

Bay is right, to fully see the merits of the switch we have to have multiple situations of Bay up with Reyes in steal situations. The one time we had that, Reyes stole second and went to third on a wild throw.

For Jerry Manuel’s switch to work, we need a broader sampling of at-bats.