Dec 02

Saying good-bye to Maine

Many thought it at the time, that when John Maine left that game in Washington after only five pitches that he was also leaving the Mets.

MAINE: Waving good-bye?

It sure appears that way as they aren’t likely to tender a contract to Maine by today’s midnight deadline. They’ll tender Mike Pelfrey, RA Dickey, Angel Pagan, and possibly Sean Green, but Maine is a longshot.

Maine came to the Mets in the Kris Benson deal as a throw-in, but emerged into a viable, productive pitcher. He won 15 games in 2007, but injuries, a weak shoulder and sometimes his attitude sabotaged him. Maine never regained the form that brought optimism he might develop into something special.

I don’t think the Mets did him any favors last spring and he was poorly handled by Jerry Manuel and Dan Warthen, but Maine also didn’t bring much to the table the past two years.

A team weak in pitching, the Mets might bring him back at a reduced rate, but with the pitching market so thin, he’s liable to test the waters to see what’s out there. There’s also no compelling reason why he’d want to return especially since he’s still steamed at Warthen.

At one time, Maine represented potential and good things to the Mets – remember that game against the Marlins? – but now he personifies part of what went wrong. He’s about unrealized dreams.

Of course, so does Oliver Perez, but the Mets are on the hook to him for $12 million and they have no other choice but to give it one more chance. Maine would come at a lower rate so it’s much easier to cut the ties.

As far as Dickey is concerned, the Mets will tender him and then work on an extension. They’ll probably want to see is last year was a fluke before giving him a multi-year contract.

Sep 20

Where to plug the holes?

I’m looking at the Mets’ payroll for 2011 and see around $130 million is already spent, much of it on players who could make a minimal impact, if at all. Money will be spent on Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and Francisco Rodriguez, but what will the return be?

Castillo will get his money, even if he doesn’t play full time at second base. This is one of the few spots where the Mets could upgrade. They also must upgrade their rotation, bullpen and bench.

Every other position, I see, is already accounted for.

I see Ike Davis and Josh Thole as building blocks. Even though they could get something in return, I don’t see them dealing David Wright and Jose Reyes. Jason Bay, assuming he’s healthy, will come back in left field.

Beltran is virutally untradeable with an $18.5 million contract for next year (the Mets would have to pick up most of it in a deal) and having been injured for much of the past two years. He’ll be back and Angel Pagan will move to right, that is, unless the new manager can convince Beltran to switch from center.

The Mets don’t figure to spend heavily, so they’ll hope for a repeat from RA Dickey, and continued development from Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese. They might pick up a middle-tier arm to minimally off-set the projected loss of Johan Santana.

And, if they can’t shed K-Rod’s contract, they’ll hope he’ll be sound following thumb surgery. They’ll try, but might not be able to re-sign Hisanori Takahashi, and they’ll hope Bobby Parnell further develops. They’ll swap out their other bullpen pieces with mediocrity and hope for the best.

They’ll hope from the best from Bay and Beltran, hope Wright and Reyes have better seasons, and that Pagan wasn’t a fluke.

It really doesn’t matter who they bring in here as GM and manager, their hands are tied with their existing contracts and the way the roster is configured.

They don’t figure to be much better, if anything, other than they are today. They will bide their time into they clear some salary off the books for the 2012 season.

Aug 27

Mets Chat Room; Pelfrey to continue rebound.

Games #128-129

At one time this season Mike Pelfrey was 9-1 and headed for the All-Star Game in a breakthrough season.

Then July came to derail his year and leave us wondering whether the first half was a fluke, a mirage and whether the good times were over and he had regressed as he went 3-6.

True growth comes from adversity and it looks as if July might become a watershed moment for him as he fought his way out of a tailspin to pitch great ball with a 1.64 ERA over his last three starts.

He’ll continue the rebound tonight against the Houston Astros at Citi Field.

I thought Pelfrey had pitched too good for too long in the first half to lose it completely, but I was concerned. Was it an injury? A loss in mechanics and subsequent loss in confidence?

Whatever it was, Pelfrey is once again pitching aggressively and quickly. That aura about him has returned.

If it comes back to say, it will be one of the highlights of this season.

NOTE: I have programmed the chat room to open around game time. I am currently getting ready to go to New Jersey for a wedding. No, not mine. I won’t be able to monitor t0night or tomorrow, but should be back in time for Sunday’s game.

My best to you, JD


Aug 16

Looking for a silver thread ….

The Mets are 10 games behind Atlanta and below .500. They have an upcoming schedule at Houston – which is playing better since the Roy Oswalt trade – and Pittsburgh – which always plays them tough. This is their last chance to make up some ground and bring interest into September.

Frankly, while I doubt they’ll make a real run, there could be some interesting ball ahead.

Their pitching, supposedly the weak link entering the season, has been surprisingly good, and if not for Mike Pelfrey’s July slide it would be good enough to have them in contention. What has been dismal, and has since the beginning of the season has been the offense. Also weak has been the bullpen.

As the season slowly fades into disappointment and winter, let’s take a moment to look at some of the positives through 117 games:

1) The record. Seriously. Last year on this date they were 55-62 and sinking fast. David Wright had just been plunked and would be rendered useless for the rest of the season. They have made improvement and with a full season from Carlos Beltran and a productive year from Jason Bay, they’d be over .500 and within spitting distance even with their bullpen woes. Hey, you take your positives when you can.

2) Johan Santana. We’re looking at 15 victories easily with a little run support. There was a brief four-game stretch when we were wondering about his fastball and whether he was still an ace. Well, he is. There are times when I wonder if he regrets coming here, but he’s the ultimate professional and will never show it. The Mets are lucky to have him, and hopefully the younger pitchers in the rotation are learning from him. Eventually, there will be a decline, but not now.

3) Angel Pagan. He began the season behind Gary Matthews, but has evolved into the Mets’ most reliable offensive performer. He’s the best they have with RISP, has some pop, can steal a base, and has surpassed Beltran as the team’s best center fielder. What Pagan showed last year was no fluke. This is a player the Mets can build around.

4) Ike Davis. He wasn’t supposed to be here until late in the season, perhaps September, but has become one of the NL’s premier’s rookies. He hits for power and should finish with over 20 homers and plays a sparkling first base. Davis has made Daniel Murphy a footnote. First base will be his for years to come.

5) Josh Thole. Another young player who arrived ahead of schedule. The pitchers like throwing to him and he’s not an easy out at the plate. Rod Barajas is coming back, but the position is Thole’s to keep. The time he’s getting now will only help him in the future.

6) Jon Niese. The question as the fifth starter going in, Niese has become a dependable starter, perhaps the No. 2 with Pelfrey being erratic. He’s not afraid to challenge hitters and works quickly and efficiently and with remarkable poise. He’s getting more adept at making adjustments within the game. He was in demand at the trade deadline, but the Mets were wise to say no.

7) R. A. Dickey. The other shoe has yet to drop for Dickey. He’s been impressive from the outset, but none more so than rebounding against the Phillies after the same team hammered him the previous week. That’s hard to do. The way things are going, it wouldn’t surprise me if he led the team in victories before it is all over. The Mets still need to add a starter in the offseason, but not to replace Dickey.

8) Hisanori Takahashi. The numbers are night and day between Takahashi the starter and the reliever. Forced into the starter’s role, he performed admirably before being exposed. He’s great one time through the order and that should be his role. Hopefully, Pat Misch will step in and allow Takahashi to do what he does best.

9) Bobby Parnell. Still a work in progress, but he’s made strides since last season when he was yanked around between roles. I believe Parnell has what it takes to develop into a solid set-up man. The experience he’s getting now can only bring hope.

10) Mike Pelfrey. I mean the pre-July Pelfrey. For two months he was better than one could have imagined, working with confidence and command of all of his pitches. Then came July, but has last two starts have been much better, an indication he might have learned from his slide. Of all the things I’m anxious to see during the final six weeks the most is whether Pelfrey can rebound completely. It would say a lot about his maturation process if he can take something out of his adversity.

11) Ruben Tejada. There’s no questioning his defense, and although he’s not hitting now he showed some glimpses early. The Mets played with energy when he was in the lineup replacing Luis Castillo when the latter was on the disabled list. I think the Mets will be in good hands when he finally takes over for Castillo.

12) Jose Reyes. If nothing else, the Mets finally learned Reyes is a leadoff hitter and nothing else. He’s lost focus at times this season, but he’s overcome his injury problems and the team still thinks highly enough to want to sign him to an extension. Perhaps the focus will always be a problem, but when he’s on his game he’s still a dynamic presence at the top of the order.

13) David Wright. Despite a horrible pace for 176 strikeouts, which must come down, he’s also on pace to hit 24 homers and drive in 107 runs, showing an improvement over last season’s power outage. Wright has been streaky all season, but he’s still the best this franchise has to offer.

Jun 17

Not too early to be thinking about pitching trades.

The Mets’ June cruise has not only made them relevant in the National League pennant races, but subsequently also at the July 31 trade deadline.

LEE: July's big fish.

With management believing this is no fluke and the Mets will continue to play alert, aggressive baseball, there are serious discussions not whether they should trade, but whom to trade for – and just as important, whom they should not trade.

Their interest, despite this remarkable run by the rotation, must remain pitching. First rotation; second bullpen.

There is a sense of calm derived from how well Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey have pitched, and a feeling of optimism with Jon Niese’s run since coming off the disabled list.

Slots four and five are a house of cards.

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