Apr 09

Evaluating Mets’ Sweep Of Braves; Niese Puts Cap On Weekend

NIESE: Flirts with no-hitter.

The Mets and Yankees were at opposite ends of the broom over the weekend, but it didn’t take much to guess where most of the newspaper attention went. Right – in Florida where the Rays were disposing of the Yankees.

Being a Mets fan, you’re used to that, but today you want it this way. Let the Mets fly in under the radar; let the Yankees deal with the pressure and panic.

The weekend was all about pitching, with Jon Niese flirting with the franchise’s first no-hitter. The string remains intact for 7,971 games. Who cares how long the streak goes as long as they keep playing well.

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Apr 08

Mets Lineup Today Against Braves

No, I never would have thought I’d write this sentence: The Mets will go for the sweep today against Atlanta. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Two games in is too early to draw any conclusions, but the first impression is good. The Mets’ pitching has been superb, both from the rotation and the bullpen, and today they’ll throw out Jon Niese against the Braves.

The Mets haven’t unleashed the bats, yet, but hit three solo homers yesterday. Lucas Duda went deep twice and David Wright hit a bomb to right-center. The new dimensions might have helped Duda, but they were ripped nonetheless.

Frank Francisco has two saves in two tries, and Terry Collins has gone to the bench twice already in the late innings for Daniel Murphy. I don’t mind that as long as he’s not giving away any at-bats by Murphy. But, using the bench keeps everybody involved and improves the defense.

It’s hard not to like what you’ve seen so far, but it is early. Most importantly, the Mets are taking advantage of an undermanned and underperforming Braves’ team. Atlanta won’t be like this all year, so you hit when you can. It’s a good start, so ride it as long as you can.

Here’s today’s lineup:

Ruben Tejada, ss
Daniel Murphy, 2b
David Wright, 3b
Ike Davis, 1b
Jason Bay, lf
Lucas Duda, rf
Scott Hairston, cf
Mike Nickeas, c
Jonathon Niese, lp

Apr 05

Wrapping up Mets Opening Day

Game #1: Mets 1, Braves 0, at Citi Field (1-0)

BY THE NUMBERS: The Mets are 33-18 in season openers, the best record in the major leagues.

SANTANA: Goes five strong. (Getty)

QUOTE BOOK: “If we pitch we can play with anybody. Our guy pitched today.’’ – manager Terry Collins on Johan Santana’s strong effort.

SANTANA IS BACK: Hopefully, that is the case. If nothing else, it was a good sign and a positive step after five scoreless innings against the Braves in his first start since Sept. 2010.

Santana gave up two hits, and another good sign was pitching out of trouble in the fifth.

Santana threw in the high 80s and he’ll be the first to admit he’s still a work in progress.

Psychologically, this was a huge game for the Santana and the Mets. Had Santana imploded it could have left a strong negative impression. There was nothing but positives today for Santana.

BULLPEN STELLAR: With no outs and a runner on third in the seventh, Tim Byrdak – who underwent knee surgery three weeks ago – entered and got out of the inning.

The Mets’ new-look bullpen threw four scoreless innings. One game, of course, but a good sign. And, who didn’t think the worse when Byrdak entered.

Frank Francisco pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.

OFFENSE STAGNANT: David Wright, Josh Thole and Daniel Murphy had two hits apiece and Wright drove in the game winner. Jason Bay was hitless in three at-bats and was booed during introductions.

THE DOWNSIDE: Center fielder Andres Torres re-strained his left calf muscle and will go on the disabled list. The Mets haven’t announced who’ll they’ll bring up, but it could be Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Collins said Collins said Ruben Tejada will be the leadoff hitter.

UP NEXT: The Mets are off Friday. R.A. Dickey will start Saturday and Jon Niese will work Sunday.

Apr 05

Mets’ 2012 over/under

I like to post a Mets over/under list at the start of every baseball season. With the expectations low for the season, most of the stat lines will fall on the short side as well.

Here we go:

Mets wins: 75

Times Mets are shut out: 9

David Wright’s HR total: 27

Jason Bay’s HR total: 15 (talk about low expectations).

Jason Bay GIDP: 17

David Wright’s games played: 140

Ike Davis HR total: 22

Lucas Duda HR total: 17

Daniel Murphy’s BA: .312

Daniel Murphy’s errors at second: 14

Andres Torres’ BA: .275

Games before fans boo Jason Bay: 0 (they’ll do it today).

Johan Santana starts: 23

Johan Santana wins: 11

Mike Pelfrey’s ERA: 4.50

Jon Niese’s wins: 14

Josh Thole passed balls: 12

Blown saves by bullpen: 18

Ruben Tejada’s BA: .270

Frank Francisco saves: 21

Mike Pelfrey HRs allowed: 20

Different Mets to go on the DL: 12 (they have two now).

Victories over Phillies: 5

Victories over Yankees: 3

Number of stolen bases by team leader: 19

Number of stolen bases by Jose Reyes: 50

Marlins victories over Mets: 9

Chipper Jones’ HRs vs. Mets: 3

Dillon Gee’s win total: 10

Date before first managerial rumblings on Terry Collins: May 26

Victories in April: 9

Mar 20

Alderson: Immediate impact on payroll negligible.

GM Sandy Alderson said yesterday’s positive financial developments will release some of the pressure on the team, but as expected, basically said “don’t expect too much,’’ in the near future.

“So having moved beyond that now, I think we as a franchise have a chance to go through sort of an evolutionary process to get us back to where we want to be,’’ Alderson said. “The immediate impact on our payroll is going to be negligible.’’

Currently, the biggest drain on the Mets’ payroll is Johan Santana, who earned $22.5 million last year while on the disabled list, and is scheduled to make $24 million this year and $25.5 million in 2013 and has a $25 million option for 2014.

That salary makes it impossible to deal Santana, so the Mets’ best hope is for continued progress in his rehab from shoulder surgery.

So far, so good.

Santana is ready to start tomorrow against St. Louis in Jupiter, Fla. The target is 80 pitches.

Santana is coming off a 65-pitch outing against the Tigers in which he gave up four earned runs. The start was encouraging because Santana’s velocity increased to a consistent 89 mph. and topped out at 91 mph.

Barring complications, Santana is on track to make the Opening Day roster.

Here’s tonight’s roster against the Washington Nationals:

Andres Torres, CF

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Jason Bay, LF

Ike Davis, 1B

Lucas Duda, RF

Justin Turner, 3B

Josh Thole, C

Ruben Tejada, SS

Dillon Gee, RP

Note: Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco are also expected to pitch.