Apr 27

April 27.10: Chat Room, Games #20-21 vs. Dodgers: Let’s Play Two.

At one time the Mets were 4-8 and there were rumblings manager Jerry Manuel’s job might be in jeopardy. However, behind stellar pitching the Mets have turned it around.

During their four-game winning streak, the Mets’ staff has a 1.41 ERA, but a .239 average and only one homer. In a larger window, the ERA is 1.39 ERA from the starters in their last two turns through the rotation.

The Mets will start Johan Santana (2-1, 2.59 ERA) and Oliver Perez (0-2, 3.71) in today’s doubleheader against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Neither has been the recipient of substantial run support.

Santana has given up one run and 12 hits with 14 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings to help the Mets win his last two starts. He’s gotten only four runs in his last three outings.

Perez has been given five runs in his three losses.
To be fair, Perez was not effective in his last start, throwing 97 pitches in five innings while giving up three runs.

Offensively, the Mets have won three straight since dropping Jose Reyes to third in the order, which coincidentally is about the time Jason Bay has started to warm up.

Still cold, however, is David Wright, who is batting .154 with four RBI over the last eight games. Like Perez, Wright has a degree of success against the Dodgers with a .425 average, four homers and 35 RBI in 39 meetings.

Wright will bat fifth behind Bay today. There are only two changes in the lineup from last night: Gary Matthews replaces Jeff Francoeur in right and Rod Barajas returns behind the plate.

Here’s the order for the 10-9 Mets:

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

NOTE: I will be with you for most of the day. I need to leave around six for my class and be back by around nine.

Apr 12

April 12.10: What to make of the first week?

To be sure six games is too small a sampling to get a definitive feel about the Mets. However, it isn’t too small to quash some first impressions.

Among them:

1) The preseason concerns on John Maine. As has been the case with Maine, he throws far too many pitches and labors with his command. He gets his second start tomorrow in Colorado, a place where it is not easy to pitch. Maine is No. 2 in the rotation currently and insists his shoulder is fine. OK, but his velocity is down and control is off. Not good and there have been little signs of turning it around.

2) Oliver Perez is Oliver Perez, which is to say he’s an enigma. Through his first five innings Saturday he threw 12-24-12-24-12 pitches. He walked four or which two of the runners scored. Perez will live and die with his command. When he worked quickly his control was good, but get a runner or two on base and he takes forever and his ball can go anywhere. Perez is not the pitcher you bet on.

3) The offense is as spotty as it was last year. Hitting with runners in scoring position seems to be a foreign concept. It’s not too many games in which they’ll hit four homers.

4) Mike Jacobs is Mike Jacobs. He’s always been a streaky hitter and so far he’s gotten off to a slow start. Maybe the homer Sunday will get him on track. Colorado is often a good place for a hitter, or an offense, to get hot.

5) Until David Wright hits the inside pitch he’s going to be pounded inside and handcuffed. When Wright is on he drives the ball the opposite way, but he’s not getting many pitches on the outside half of the plate. He needs to pull a few to keep the hitters honest.

6) The bullpen will be a key. So far it has been outstanding, and perhaps the biggest reason why these games have been competitive. Fernando Nieve and Pedro Feliciano are in competition for the eighth inning role. If the bullpen can maintain the Mets will be all right. However, it can’t keep throwing three innings a game. That will add up before you know it.

7) I’m not worried about Jason Bay. No homers so far, but he’s making contact and I love his hustle. He’ll be fine.

Apr 10

April 10.10: Chat Room, Game #5 vs. Nationals: Trying to build on a win.

For the first time in nearly a year, the Mets will have Jose Reyes back on the top of the lineup. The Mets were 51-75 during the time Reyes was out with a severe hamstring injury.

“Nobody wants to get hurt,” Reyes said. “I’m happy to be back and playing baseball. It was tough being away.”

Gone, at least for today, is the thought of Reyes batting third. Maybe later this summer, but for now the Mets are just happy to have him back at shortstop.

Another story line this afternoon is Oliver Perez’s first start since last August. Perez, who underwent knee surgery in the offseason, came into camp in excellent condition. So far, during spring training it has not translated into success.

The Mets are coming off a well-rounded 8-2 victory last night over Washington, a game which featured a strong start by Mike Pelfrey and four homers.

Apr 10

April 10.10: About Last Night; Pelfrey makes stride.

Pitching plus power have always been baseball’s greatest winning equation and the Mets finally got it last night with a solid start from Mike Pelfrey and four homers.

The Mets have questions with their rotation after Johan Santana, and the Mets have gotten three solid starts in their first four games.

Pelfrey had his rough spots, but with the exception of one inning he overcame them. Last night, working under cold and windy conditions, Pelfrey showed marked improvement. He continually threw first-pitch strikes.

Pelfrey gave up two runs in six innings, an effort he can build on. The bullpen pitched well for the second straight game. It looks as if Fernando Nieve appears to have gotten the first crack at being the eighth-inning set-up man.

Pelfrey was aided by his defense, especially Alex Cora, who made two scintillating plays, one of which saved a run. The offense was four homers – two each by Jeff Francoeur and Rod Barajas – and amazingly enough, a couple of hits with runners in scoring position.

Mar 23

March 23.10: Is it so bad to go with the kids?

Fernando Martinez (shown here), Jenrry Mejia, Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada and Jon Niese. That is the future core of the Mets, along with David Wright, Jose Reyes and Jason Bay. That’s your team over the next few years.

But, should the future be now?

All spring I’ve been saying these guys aren’t ready and should open the season in the minor leagues where they’ll fine tune their games. That they for the most part have played well this spring makes me wonder if I should reconsider.

There have been players who played a minimum in the minor leagues and became stars in the major leagues. Maybe, if these guys are as special as the Mets are saying, they’ll adapt right away and become productive.

Afterall, it’s not written in stone anywhere that if they start out in the majors they’ll fizzle out. It’s also not written anywhere that going to the minor leagues now guarantees future success.

I just look at the team now, and despite all the bluster early, they are playing near a listless .500.

Why is that?

Ok, it’s spring, and results aren’t supposed to matter, but the following ERAs make me wonder about this year, and that if it’s a lost year, why not give the kids a chance?

* Johan Santana has a 9.00 ERA in three starts, but I’m not worried so much about him. However, he is coming off a surgery, and you just can’t throw out 20 wins for him.

* Mike Pelfrey has a 7.36 ERA in four starts, including four homers yesterday. Pelfrey said he wanted to start being a pitcher. Now is as good a time as any to start.

* Oliver Perez has a 5.73 ERA in three starts. He’s had good and bad moments, which is the way it always has been for him. The only thing given about him is the roller coaster.

* John Maine has an 11.37 ERA in three starts. He had a good first start, but three bad appearances (don’t forget that relief effort when he said he wasn’t in it). I just wonder about Maine, and it isn’t a good wonder.

So, if the starting pitching holds true to form from last year and this spring, and with Reyes and Beltran out for at least the first month, the Mets aren’t exactly poised to sprint out of the gate.

If another listless season is in the making, then seeing the young players should come sooner than later.