Jul 28

Manuel goes to bat for coaching staff

MANUEL: It will all fall on him.

After several swirling days of finger-pointing, at the Mets’ listless offense and hitting coach Howard Johnson, manager Jerry Manuel did his own pointing.

And, fittingly, he directed it in the same direction Mets fans have for nearly two years – at himself.

Manuel looked in the mirror and went to bat for the beleaguered Johnson and his other restless coaches.

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Jul 23

Just do the math ….

I see where Omar Minaya gave Jerry Manuel a vote of confidence. Not that it matters. You know how those things work out.

Also, Fernando Nieve was designated for assignment after last night’s game. Yeah, that will do it.

Honestly, after doing the math I’m not sure anything will, even if the offense scores ten runs tonight.

Just do the math.

The Mets are 49-47, two games over .500 when they were once 11.

Assuming it takes 90 wins to qualify as a wild card, the Mets would have to go 41-25 (16 games over .500) the rest of the way.

Never mind how many days until the trade deadline, how many days until spring training?

May 30

Mets Chat Room: Avoiding the sweep edition plus other questions.

GAME #51 at Brewers

Can you believe it?

After starting the week in scintillating fashion with a three-game shutout sweep of the Phillies, the Mets are in danger today of being swept by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Here’s something to mull over: The Brewers had won only six home games this season, and could have half that with a victory today.

It has been a disappointing first two games, with Jerry Manuel pulling Johan Santana after eight scoreless innings Friday and Fernando Nieve spitting the bit yesterday, turning his start into nothing more than a long relief appearance.

It was infuriating to learn Manuel didn’t consult Santana on how he was feeling before yanking him. What a disrespectful thing to do to the ace of your staff.

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May 29

Mets Chat Room: It’s Nieve’s turn.

Game #50 at Brewers

The Mets will attempt to snap their road doldrums tonight in Milwaukee when Fernando Nieve (1-2, 5.09 ERA) comes out of the bullpen. It’s not as if this is new to him, as he was 3-3 with a 3.12 ERA in seven starts last year before a torn right quadriceps ended his season.

“If he does well, he will continue to get the ball,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “And if we come into a situation where we have too many starters, I think that’s all good, too.’’

The start comes after a rocky May in which had a 7.20 ERA for the month, perhaps brought on by over use. Nieve said he prefers this role.

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May 21

May 21.10: Chat Room, Game #43 vs. Yankees: Mets come limping home.

Both the Mets and Yankees limp into this weekend’s series at Citi Field, but as usual there are more issues in Queens than the Bronx.

“I always look forward to these series,’’ Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “You find out where you are as a team, and how you perform in that type of environment.’’

Doesn’t he know by now?

The Mets, despite winning last night at Washington, are reeling, almost in a free fall, and could very well be there after back-to-back series against the Yankees and Phillies.

The last-place Mets are coming off a 2-6 road trip in which they lost, by injury or performance, three-fifths of their rotation. Jon Niese, the most consistent of the three, went on the disabled list and could be joined there by John Maine, who was yanked after five pitches last night. Oliver Perez was exiled to the bullpen.

Journeyman knuckleballer R.A. Dickey replaced Perez and performed well, and long reliever Hisanori Takahashi will start tonight in place of Niese against the Yankees.
Takahashi’s move to the rotation, even temporarily, further strains the bullpen. Fernando Nieve and Pedro Feliciano, so effective in April, have been hit lately.

Further complicating matters has been an unproductive offense, which is relying on a journeyman catcher Rod Barajas and rookie first baseman Ike Davis because of the season-long power drought of Jason Bay and David Wright’s assault on the strikeout record.

Bay, although he’s been making contact lately, in on pace for four homers, while Wright is on pace for 223 strikeouts. Jeff Francoeur and Jose Reyes also aren’t hitting.

As bad as things have been, one can logically assume if Wright and Reyes, the cornerstones to the franchise, were hitting according to expectations, the Mets would be over .500 and there wouldn’t be so many rumblings about Manuel’s job security.

Despite COO Jeff Wilpon’s impromptu meeting in Atlanta in which he said he wasn’t about to fire Manuel or GM Omar Minaya, the whispers persist and are even louder after last night’s Manuel-Maine dugout blowout.

“When the owner comes down, you know something is going on,’’ said Francoeur. “But at the same time, you have to be professional. At times it can be tough, all the speculation, but I try to just play. That’s the easiest way to deal with it.’’

Manuel didn’t do much to get Wright and Francoeur on his side when he rested both this week. Both expressed displeasure at sitting, but neither criticized Manuel.

Also, neither offered much verbal support.

Before he was sacked, Willie Randolph had more verbal support from his players than Manuel has received, but the players are still hustling. That is a saving grace, but will it be enough if the Mets are pasted by the Yankees and Phillies?

Here’s tonight’s Mets’ line-up behind Takahashi:

Jose Reyes, SS
Alex Cora, 2B
Jason Bay, LF
Ike Davis, 1B
David Wright, 3B
Angel Pagan, CF
Rod Barajas, C
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Hisanori Takahashi, LP

NOTE: Luis Castillo was scratched from the line-up with a bruised left heel. … After throwing five innings in relief last night, Raul Valdes is not expected to be available for the Yankees series. … With Takahashi starting, R.A. Dickey will be the long man.

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