Oct 21

Commentary: Give the kids a chance.

Kunz: Why not give him a chance?

Kunz: Why not give him a chance?

I remember the conversation with Jerry Manuel as if it were yesterday. We were in Washington and I asked him about Eddie Kunz. (For the sake of the argument, I know he got roughed up).

How much worse could Kunz be than the older arms blowing saves for the Mets? Manuel agreed, and said maybe it was time for Kunz to pitch in a pressure situation. He didn’t get a save opportunity for several days, until Manuel had no choice but to go to him.

The amateur psychologist in me said Kunz’s confidence took a hit when opportunity after opportunity passed without him getting the ball. And, that shaken ego was ripped when he got a chance he would inevitably blow.

Here we are, August in Washington against the lowly Nationals, and the Mets were afraid to go to somebody on their roster they claim to be in their plans.

Fast forward to last Sunday, when the Rays, three outs from the World Series, went with David Price, who is a merely 23. You could see his teething ring next to the rosin bag, but he was out there throwing heat.

And succeeding.

Now, I don’t know how good Kunz will be. I can’t say the same for Bobby Parnell. But, if they are as good as they Mets trust they’ll be, then give them the chance to prove it. That’s better than to throw millions of dollars at Francisco Rodriguez, whom I believe in a couple of years will be where Billy Wagner is now – and that’s being unable to throw.

Spend the money on going after a starter and acquiring some depth in the bridge to the closer role.

Sep 23

Overhauling the bullpen

The Mets blew 29 save opportunities so far this season, and with them, perhaps a chance at the playoffs. Adding a top notch closer such as Francisco Rodriguez would improve the bullpen, but not put it over the top.

Billy Wagner blew seven save opportunities, but even worse was the bridge leading up to him. It was more than just a bad season.

Here’s how I see the pen:

-Billy Wagner: Won’t pitch for the Mets again. No brainer. However, he will get paid $11 million by them, and that will inhibit what they do this winter. I don’t see them paying both Wagner and Rodriguez.

-Aaron Heilman: They’ve resisted trading him the past two winters. They should pull the trigger if they get an offer this time. Heilman wants to start and since the Mets won’t give him that opportunity, they should try to get what they can. If they wanted to give Heilman a chance at being the fifth starter, I’d entertain it because it is clear this bullpen thing isn’t working out.

-Scott Schoeneweis: I can’t believe they gave him three years. (I mistakenly said he was done after this year. He’s signed through 2009).

-Joe Smith: Has his moments, both good and bad. Will be brought back.

-Pedro Feliciano: I’ve always been cool on him for some reason, even when he’s pitched well. I think they’ll bring him back.

-Luis Ayala: He saved a few games. Big deal. I don’t see him as the answer at closer. I do see him coming back.

-Carlos Muniz: Wouldn’t miss him.

-Ricardo Rincon: Ditto.

-Duaner Sanchez: He doesn’t have his fastball anymore. Certainly not a set-up man or closer type anymore. Not a loss if they don’t bring him back.

-Brian Stokes: More good appearances than bad. I’d like to see him back.

-Nelson Figueroa: Feel good story early this season. Very hittable.

-Brandon Knight: Pitched decently. Long man?

-Bobby Parnell: Can bring the heat. Let’s see what he can do in spring training.

Sep 09

Mets pregame notebook: Surgery tomorrow for Wagner.

-Billy Wagner will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow. He will miss this year and probably all of next year. He’s not ready to retire and said he would win a championship for somebody someday.

-Manager Jerry Manuel flipped Johan Santana and Pedro Martinez in his rotation for next weekend against the Braves, with Santana going Friday and Martinez Saturday. Protecting Martinez is yet another sign he’s not able to help the Mets.

-ESPN Radio Andrew Marchand reported reliever Francisco Rodriguez will be seeking $75 million over five years. He says the Mets, Angels, Los Angeles, Detroit and St. Louis would have interest. Want to bet that list grows this winter?