Mar 18

March 18.10: What’s Jerry’s thinking about the fifth starter?

With most managers, at least those with security, their objectives are a balance between winning today and building for the future. That can’t be said for the Mets’ Jerry Manuel, who has joked about the importance of a fast start for the preservation of his job.

There’s truth in humor.

Manuel presided over the late season collapse of 2008 and full season free fall of 2009, and knows the Mets must contend, if not get to the playoffs and win a round, if he’s to return next year. Manuel’s job is on the line, and with it there’s a sense of urgency of being competitive immediately.

Given that, it stands to reason Manuel’s decisions, like that of choosing his fifth starter, will be to give him the best chance of winning now as opposing for building for the future, because quite simply, he has no guarantee of a future.

Manuel’s comments the other day that he’d like to see Hisanori Takahashi start a game this spring suggests strongly he’s being seriously considered for the fifth starter role. Takahashi has been superb in six scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out nine.

“What we have seen so far is he really has the ability to pitch and pitch with all his pitches,” Manuel said. “He probably is our sharpest pitcher right now, as far as everything hitting where he wants it to hit.”

If not Takahashi, then perhaps Fernando Nieve. Nelson Figueroa will be sent out to clear waivers, and Jon Niese, who went into spring training the favorite, will be sent out because he has options remaining.

Niese might be the fifth starter down the road, but Manuel doesn’t have the luxury of letting him learn on the job. As long as Takahashi is getting batters out, the Mets have a chance to win, and that means Manuel has a better chance to stick around.

Mar 10

March 10.10: Reyes update/line-ups.

Jose Reyes has a case of hyperthyroidism, said his agent, Peter Greenberg said. “We’re waiting for the final results tomorrow,’’ Greenberg told the Times. “But, all indications are that it’s the most minimal case of hyperthyroidism possible. The doctor is very pleased and so is Jose.’’

Reyes later told reporters that his thyroid is fine. I don’t believe this is two different stories as much as it is Reyes getting positive news and downplaying things.

Reyes could resume working out in a few days.

For the all the criticism the Mets have received about injuries, they did well here. Reyes was pulled immediately at the suspicion of something wrong and were forthright in giving information.

Positive news on Francisco Rodriguez. Threw in the bullpen this morning and will throw BP Friday. If all goes well look for him Monday.

Jon Niese, who has the leg up on the fifth starter position, starts today against the Braves in Orlando.

Here’s the line-up:

Jason Pridie, CF

Ruben Tejada, 2B

Daniel Murphy, 1B

Mike Hessman, 3B

Chris Carter, DH

Omir Santos, C

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, RF

Jolbert Cabrera, LF

Russ Adams, SS

Working out of the pen will be Fernando Nieve, Nelson Figueroa, Bobby Parnell, Eddie Kunz and Eric Niesen.

Mar 02

March 2.10: Let the games begin.

It’s been raining most of the morning, but today’s exhibition against the Braves is still expected to be played. Nelson Figueroa is scheduled to start for the Mets.

The Mets made some drastic  changes to their starting line-up.

Here’s the original:

Gary Matthews, CF

Luis Castillo, 2B

Jose Reyes, SS

David Wright, 3B

Jason Bay, LF

Mike Jacobs, DH

Jeff Francoeur, RF

Ike Davis, 1B

Chris Coste, C

Here’s the second:

Jesus Feliciano, LF

Ruben Tejada, SS

Gary Matthews, CF

Mike Jacobs, DH

Mike Hessman, 3B

Ike Davis, 1B

Chris Coste, C

Jason Pirdie, RF

Luis Hernandez, 2B

Analysis: It is clear the grounds are wet and soft in Port St. Lucie and Jerry Manuel is protecting his players from possible injury. Especially wise in Jose Reyes’ case.

NOTES: Francisco Rodriguez is still recovering from pink eye and hasn’t been cleared to rejoin the team. … Pitcher Hisanori Takahashi left the team to attend to his visa issues resolved. … Lefty Jon Niese is saying his hamstring issue is behind him. … As of now, the Mets plan on opening the season with a five-man rotation. In this order: Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, John Maine and the fifth starter. Let’s figure Niese for now. … Reyes tested his hamstring Monday with a triple in the intrasquad game and gave a thumbs up.

It’s been raining most of the morning, but today’s exhibition against the Braves is still expected to be played. Nelson Figueroa is scheduled to start for the Mets.

The Mets made some drastic  changes to their starting line-up.

Here’s the original:

Gary Matthews, CF

Luis Castillo, 2B

Jose Reyes, SS

David Wright, 3B

Jason Bay, LF

Mike Jacobs, DH

Jeff Francoeur, RF

Ike Davis, 1B

Chris Coste, C

Here’s the second:

Jesus Feliciano, LF

Ruben Tejada, SS

Gary Matthews, CF

Mike Jacobs, DH

Mike Hessman, 3B

Ike Davis, 1B

Chris Coste, C

Jason Pirdie, RF

Luis Hernandez, 2B

Analysis: It is clear the grounds are wet and soft in Port St. Lucie and Jerry Manuel is protecting his players from possible injury. Especially wise in Jose Reyes’ case.

NOTES: Francisco Rodriguez is still recovering from pink eye and hasn’t been cleared to rejoin the team. … Pitcher Hisanori Takahashi left the team to attend to his visa issues resolved. … Lefty Jon Niese is saying his hamstring issue is behind him. … As of now, the Mets plan on opening the season with a five-man rotation. In this order: Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, John Maine and the fifth starter. Let’s figure Niese for now. … Reyes tested his hamstring Monday with a triple in the intrasquad game and gave a thumbs up.

Feb 21

Feb. 21.10: Catching up on the weekend.

WILPON: Distancing himself from Omar?

WILPON: Distancing himself from Omar?

Fred Wilpon held court today, and his words gave the impression of separating himself from his baseball people – Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel.

It’s his money, but they make the decisions, Wilpon said.

“I understand from the fan’s point of view, because I am one myself, and I’m very, very sensitive to what their feelings are, and I understand some of it,’’ Wilpon said of the fans’ angst, but added, “I think that we have to be guided by our baseball people, and our baseball people evaluated, for example, some of our pitchers as good or better than what was on the market.

“Our baseball people evaluated other positions and we went by what they did. Jeff (Wilpon) followed them. Jeff and I don’t pick the baseball players. So that’s what they wanted to do.’’

In addition:

* If Jose Reyes does bat third, Manuel said it is possible Gary Matthews Jr., could lead off if he wins the center field job until Carlos Beltran returns. Again, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it, and Reyes is one of the game’s best leadoff hitters.

* Manuel also said prospect Jennry Mejia could compete for the eighth-inning set-up role, which indicates two things, 1) a concern about Kelvim Escobar, and 2) and doubts about Bobby Parnell.

* Jon Niese appears the leading candidate for the fifth starter spot. Kind of expected that all along. That Manuel would suggest that suggests good news on his hamstring.

* Rod Barajas was finally signed, which gives Josh Thole a chance to develop his game at Triple-A. Not good news for Omir Santos.

Jan 18

Jan. 18.10: Spring training questions.

Questions, questions ....

Questions, questions ....

With a month before the start of spring training, let’s take a look at the ten top issues surrounding the Mets when the arrive at Port St. Lucie:

1) Who are the fifth starter candidates?
A: Jon Niese is from the organization. It could also be Oliver Perez or John Maine if the Mets should add another arm. Joel Pineiro and Jon Garland are still out there, but they are also linked to other teams. There’s no guarantee the Mets will bring in somebody else.

2) Where is Johan Santana?
A: Santana is coming off surgery. The Mets are saying he’ll be ready, but they said the same thing about John Maine last spring.

3) What is Jose Reyes status?
A: Reyes says he feels good, but he hasn’t tested that hamstring in game-type conditions. And, how much speed has he lost?

4) Did David Wright find his home run stroke over the winter?
A: Maybe it was Citi Field, maybe not. But, Wright did not hit with power last season. That has to change if the Mets are to do anything.

5) Carlos Beltran is how many weeks away?
A: Originally, they said 12 weeks. He won’t be ready by spring training to do baseball activities, but maybe they’ll have a better timetable by then.

6) What’s the catching situation look like?
A: The Mets have plenty of reserve catchers, but not a No. 1. They hope it will be Bengie Molina. They really don’t want to rush Josh Thole to the majors.

7) Who is the real Mike Pelfrey?
A: Pelfrey appeared on the verge of breaking out in 2008, but regressed last season. It’s about time he gets to the next level.

8) Where does the coin land?
A: Will Coinflip Perez show consistency beyond being inconsistent? He’s also coming off surgery. The reports are he’s working hard, but he’s worked hard before with no results.

9) What are the bullpen roles?
A: They could change if they sign John Smoltz. I’d rather have him in a set-up role than Kelvim Escobar. That way I could also drop Bobby Parnell down to a lower pressure slot.

10) What kind of camp will Jerry Manuel run?
A: Lax or clamp down? There were injuries last season, but the team also played fundamentally poor baseball and that’s his responsibility.