Aug 23

Looking at the attack ….

I’d like to thank those of you who read the blog and posted while I was away. It means a lot that you would do so.

Some miserable weather on the East Coast last night and I didn’t get back until today. I heard how the Mets did this weekend, and there’s something fitting about then finally winning a road series against a National League team but losing a chance to sweep behind Johan Santana because the offense disappeared again.

The offense has been dreadful this summer and is largely responsible for the Mets’ fade. It produced in June, but mostly because David Wright sizzled that month. It cooled in July, which is when the slide began.

Last year it was easy to blame the offensive problems on the injuries to Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, and Wright’s season-long funk. There’s more to it this season. Without getting into a lot of statistics, here’s the primary reasons for the Mets’ offensive decline this summer.

1) Jose Reyes: Let’s start at the top of the order. Reyes missed significant time in April, then was foolishly forced into the No. 3 slot in the order which took away what he did best as a player. I understood Jerry Manuel’s objective, but it was flawed thinking and disrupted the flow of the batting order. Manuel is known for how poorly he handles the pitching staff, but this showed he did not know how to best utilize his players.

Without Reyes on top, there was limited continuity to the order. Further complicating things was Manuel’s poor decision to rush Reyes back from his oblique injury. Three weeks were literally wasted. Reyes is healthy now, but except for a stretch when he was returned to the leadoff slot has largely been inconsistent this season. And, he’s not running wild on the bases. The Mets are always better when he gets on and runs and there have been too many stretches where he has not.

NEXT YEAR: Whomever manages the Mets next season it is hoped he won’t fool around with Reyes. The assumption is he’ll be healthy again and able to produce from the outset. Reyes remains prone to giving away at-bats and needs to increase his on-base percentage by walking more and striking out less.

WRIGHT: Needs to be more consistent

2) David Wright: His power numbers have improved over last season but not to where he’ll reach 30 homers. He should hit over 20 and drive in 100, but the expectations are 30 and close to 120. Wright remains too streaky and prone to the strikeout. There has been improvement, but not enough as he gives away far too many at-bats.

For the second straight summer, because of the loss of Carlos Beltran, Wright was asked to carry the offense, but I don’t believe he’s that type of player. He’s more of a complementary player in a complete offense, such as 2006, but he’s not one to shoulder the heavy load by himself. Wright is at his best when he’s disciplined and going up the middle and to right field. This is when his stroke is shortest and most compact, which reduces his strikeouts. Wright is on pace for 176 hits and 172 strikeouts.

Wright has also bounced around in the batting order, but he clearly produced best when he hit No. 3 in front of Ike Davis. His next best slot was fifth and his worst was cleanup where he hit .167 in 60 wasted at-bats. Again, a manager not knowing what’s best for his player.

NEXT YEAR: If Wright is able to discipline himself more and cut down on his strikeouts he can again reach the .300, 30, 120 levels. He’s still the best this club has to offer because we don’t know about Beltran.

3) Carlos Beltran: Beltran is moving farther and farther away from his days as an elite offensive force. He missed the first half of the season, which I believe in large part to the foolish way the Mets handled him last year, and has never taken off since his return. Until Beltran is fully healthy, and he’s not, he’s not the same player and will continue to decline. If the Mets’ could unload his $18.5 million contract they would, but since he’s not tradeable his value is in the hope of a comeback.

Beltran is also hitting out of place in the order. As he was rushed back he was force fed the clean-up slot. Truth is, the Mets were at their best in June when Ike Davis was hitting clean-up.

NEXT YEAR: He’s coming back, presumably healthy. It will be interesting to see if they move him to right field which should take a toll from his legs and consequently help him at the plate. Once a dangerous base stealer, I don’t see that anymore.

BAY: Way too little celebrating.

4) Jason Bay: It was a lost season for Bay, who’s likely won’t be back for this season. Year one, clearly was a bust, but he has produced before and I am willing to give him the benefit of doubt. The over/under for his homer total was 30, but he won’t hit 10. Bay hustled, but it still amounts to being thrown out by a step. Like Wright, he was a strikeout machine.

The decision to move Reyes was in large part to get Bay going. But, it amounted to screwing up two spots in the batting order. Initially, to jump start him he should have hit either second, fifth or sixth. There was just too much pressure for him in the clean-up slot.

NEXT YEAR: Assuming a healthy Beltran, Bay should hit fifth. I thought there were other priorities other than Bay last season and I haven’t changed from that spot. He has a track record of being productive, but he’s not a big bopper and won’t ever be at Citi Field. With a clear head, the numbers should get better. That he’s not an excuse-maker and hustles works in his favor.

5) Jeff Francoeur: Francoeur got off to a hot start because he opened the season with patience and selectivity. He ever walked a few times. However, as the season progressed he continued to fall into bad habits and gave away a lot of at-bats.

Francoeur strikes out roughly 20 percent of the time. And he’s an oddity in that he hits over .300 when swinging at the first pitch and less than .220 when the count reaches 3-0. At 3-1 and 3-2 he’s almost a sure out.

When the Mets traded for Francoeur, he immediately produced, but this year demonstrated why Atlanta thought he was expendable and why the Mets are sure to not bring him back.

NEXT YEAR: The assumption is Francoeur won’t be back unless there’s a re-injury to Beltran that changes everybody’s thinking. The Mets will need a fourth outfielder, but I don’t believe Francoeur wants that role. Hell, he could be gone on waivers by the end of the month.

6): An unsettled order: I’ve touched on it a few times, but the Mets were their best when there was some consistency in the batting order. Players hit out of position, and other players were buried. There’s a delicate balance to the perfect batting order and there was too much inconsistency. A early flaw was not taking advantage of Rod Barajas’ power in the early months by not batting him higher. Another was sticking with Bay at clean-up way too long when it was obvious he wasn’t going to produce. Yet another was not moving Angel Pagan to second earlier. He was obviously not a lead-off hitter.

NEXT YEAR: Things change, they always seem to for the Mets, but if everybody comes back healthy there should be more consistency in the line-up. Unless the impossible happens and they are able to unload Luis Castillo, the second baseman, Ruben Tejada, should hit eighth. We’ll also see more of Josh Thole next year, presumably seventh.

Aug 04

Mets Chat Room; Another gut check for Pelfrey.

There was a time this season when the Mets could count on a win, or at least a good chance at one, when they sent Mike Pelfrey to the mound. For the most part, until late June the Mets knew they’d get a quality start from him.

No longer.

Game #108 vs. Braves

Pelfrey surged to a 9-1 start and was on the cusp of dominance until he lost his mechanics, and not shortly after, his confidence. He’s been in a tailspin since with little indication of snapping out of his funk.

Pelfrey hasn’t gone through six innings in any of his last six starts. In that span he is 0-3 with a 9.59 ERA and hitters are batting an astronomical .446 against him.

Included in that span was a 4-0 loss to the Braves, July 10, when he gave up four runs on 12 hits in four innings.  Pelfrey didn’t get a decision in last Friday’s 9-6 loss to Arizona in which he gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Pelfrey’s problems start early. He didn’t allow a run in the first inning in his first 11 starts, but 16 in his next 10.

“Everybody else in the rotation has been throwing the ball great and I’ve kind of taken a step back from early in the year,’’ said Pelfrey. “I definitely plan on getting this thing turned around and back on track so we can start winning some games.’’

A win tonight at Atlanta will pull the Mets within 5 ½ games of the Braves with a three-game series coming up this weekend at Philadelphia.

Jul 16

Mets Chat Room; Niese tries to halt slide.

Game #90 at Giants

Jon Niese stopper?

That’s the way it’s going to have to be tonight at San Francisco as Niese (6-3, 3.61) tries to pull the Mets out of their July funk.

After a boom in June that saw the Mets go 11 games over .500 and pull within a game of Braves, they are 4-7 for July to find themselves five games behind during a very precarious part of their schedule as this is the second game of a season-high 11-game road trip.

Continue reading

May 14

May 14.10: Reyes moving back?

.Several days ago I suggested a revamping of the batting order, which included moving Jose Reyes back to the leadoff situation and David Wright second. The moves also included moving Ike Davis up to fifth.

After last night’s game Jerry Manuel suggested line-up changes were coming but would not elaborate. I am hoping he realizes his intentions, although well meaning, aren’t working.

The numbers say Reyes isn’t hitting whether it be first or third in the order, so why change?

Normally, I wouldn’t move a guy just because he’s unhappy, but Reyes is in a definite funk and the Mets need to get him better. They juggled things to get Jason Bay going; they need to do the same to get Reyes going again.

Reyes’ professional identity is as a leadoff hitter and that’s been stripped from him and you can tell in his body language and demeanor he’s frustrated. I recently told him, “you know, Babe Ruth hit third.”

He was not amused, although he has been swinging like the Bambino.

For years we’ve been told Reyes is the ignition to the Mets’ offense as the leadoff hitter, and it is time to move him back. Reyes, because of injuries last year and perhaps a damaged psyche this spring, hasn’t been Reyes since 2008. It’s time to get him back

Sep 18

Tonight’s Lineup at Washington

Daniel Murphy back in the two hole tonight against Tim Redding. Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran got going last night. The Mets are waiting for David Wright to bust out again.

Jose Reyes showed signs last night of breaking his September funk.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

SS Jose Reyes
LF Daniel Murphy
3B David Wright
1B Carlos Delgado
CF Carlos Beltran
RF Ryan Church
2B Argenis Reyes
C Brian Schneider
LH Johan Santana