Aug 21

About last night …. take another look at K-Rod.

Last winter when the Mets were pondering Francisco Rodriguez, I and other journalists took a cautious approach, saying his fastball was down and the violence of his delivery made him vulnerable to injury.

K-ROD: Not automatic.

K-ROD: Not automatic.


There’s not indication Rodriguez is injured now other than the normal aches and pains of a long season. But in reality, Rodriguez hasn’t had the work load he’s had in other seasons. The save opportunities are down and he’s had long stretches where he doesn’t appear in a game.

Even so, Rodriguez hasn’t been a walk in a park. Well, walks yes. His control is off and there have been times when he’s been hit hard. He’s averaging a strikeout for each of his 56 innings pitched, but he’s walked 32 and given up 40 hits. In short, he’s been far from flawless.

He’s not been automatic and the odds are he’ll break down before his contract is up.

Billy Wagner threw harder than him last night, but don’t read anything into that. Wagner is already on the waiver wire and the Mets are waiting to see who bites, and there will be interest.

Aug 12

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #114; Perez tries to stop slide.

The Mets close their so-far 1-5 road trip this afternoon in Arizona with Oliver Perez. Giving the ball to Perez to stop a losing skid doesn’t seem like such a comforting thought, but that’s what he did in his last start at San Diego.

Oliver Perez (2-3, 6.38) will toe the rubber for New York looking to build on perhaps his best performance of the season.

In a rare solid start, Perez gave up one run on two hits with seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. However, closer Francisco Rodriguez threw it away when he gave up five runs, including a walk-off grand slam, in a 6-2 loss at San Diego on Friday.

Perez started against Arizona, Aug. 1, giving up three runs and walking five in five innings and didn’t get a decision.

David Wright, who struck out last night to end the game as a pinch-hitter, should be back in the line-up today. In an interesting note, manager Jerry Manuel said he’d like to see Gary Sheffield return.

I’m cool to the idea. I think the Mets have gotten the most they can out of Sheffield and don’t see a substantial improvement next season.

Aug 11

About last night …. enough is enough.

OK, I understand about the injuries. The Mets are a hurting group and won’t be whole again this season. We probably won’t see Jose Reyes or Carlos Beltran until spring training. The next time we see Carlos Delgado at Citi Field will likely be in a road uniform.

MANUEL: Went to the whip last night.

MANUEL: Went to the whip last night.


Lack of all their parts has cost the Mets a considerable number of their 60 losses, but also damaging has been their often uninspired, lazy, sloppy brand of baseball. Sloppy was on full display in last night’s loss at Arizona.

Manager Jerry Manuel simply told reporters last night, “we were a bad team,” and privately lashed out at several players. Daniel Murphy failed to cover first base on what could have been a double play; instead Anderson Hernandez threw to an empty base. (Not too bright, either.) Angel Pagan didn’t think on two costly outfield plays, one a careless dive and the other an errant throw. Both led to runs.

And, Mike Pelfrey continued to languish in mediocrity. Pelfrey, who had been expected to make significant strides this season, is floating through this season in Oliver Perez-like fashion.

OK, the Mets aren’t whole, but that’s no excuse for playing lazy-thinking and lazy-hustling baseball. Physical errors are part of the game, but errors caused by a lack of concentration or preparation are never acceptable. Never.

Here’s the deal. Before every pitch, a defensive player must ask himself what he would do if the ball were hit to him. He should have a plan. Hustle is admirable, but misplaced hustle, as in Pagan’s dive, is not smart baseball. And, Pagan has made more than his fair share of poor-thinking plays on the bases.

Injuries are one thing, but there have been numerous instances of undermanned and under talented teams winning – and that includes the World Series – by playing fundamentally sound. Not doing so is the first indication a team is packing in a season. It is a sign of quitting, and that’s a reflection on a manager, and Manuel can’t be happy about that prospect.

Believe me, everything will be open to evaluation after the season and that includes the manager. Manuel will be judged more on if he still has the ear and backing of the players than a won-loss record that at this rate will be lucky to be .500.

After chewing on his players, Manuel also blamed fatigue, but that’s his responsibility. David Wright gets only his second rest of the season tonight, but there have been other opportunities to give him a blow. There is simply no reason why fatigue should be an issue if the players are utilized properly. Conversely, there’s no reason why Francisco Rodriguez’s slide can be attributed to rust. Giving regular and consistent workloads to a player is also the responsibility of the manager and coaching staff.

When the story of this season is written, four sentences from Manuel last night will neatly summarize what has been the storyline to too many games this season: “A very poor game. A poor effort on our part. Despite maybe not having what we’d like to have, still it’s the major leagues. We have to perform better than that.”

Says it all, really.

It is true, true character is more revealed in times of adversity than prosperity. And, with the season dwindling away, the Mets still have a chance to salvage something. Their pride and self-respect, or at least a fraction of what is left. The season won’t just be neatly packaged by the injuries, but by the effort in the remaining 50 games.

Those 50 games will also go a long way toward the off-season evaluation process and the quest for jobs next spring.

Jun 02

Ripe for a June swoon?

PUTZ: What's wrong?

PUTZ: What's wrong?

One game does not make a month, but last night was not a good way to start June. Maybe the Ryan Church game in LA was worse, but it’s hard to image any more disheartening defeats than last night.

I’ve called the Mets a flawed team, and such was the case against the Pirates. The offense called it a game after the third inning and JJ Putz imploded in the eighth. Jerry Manuel didn’t help matters when he let the struggling Putz stay in after two or three hitters. It was obvious he wasn’t going to find the switch.

I wrote prior to the game that it was encouraging for the role players to step up and Reed and Valdez did that. However, role players are role players for a reason and the Mets need the return of their core big time.

We might not see Carlos Delgado this year and Jose Reyes is on the horizon. David Wright continues to slump, Carlos Beltran missed another game and there’s Putz.

The guy isn’t right. He needs to be looked at again and if something is wrong then go on the DL. He’s not doing anybody any good the way he is now.

Until Putz gets it together, Bobby Parnell should assume the eighth inning role as the bridge to Francisco Rodriguez.