Oct 22

The Differences Between The Giants And Mets

I hope Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins took notes in Game 1, because the Giants have the blueprint the Mets should be following. So, in comparing the wild-card Giants to the Mets, there’s more than just a 3,000-mile difference:

Solid starting pitching: Madison Bumgarner was lights out, pitching quickly, and with command and composure. This is what the Mets expect from Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. The rap on Mets pitchers is an inability to put away a hitter and keep damage to a minimum. This especially applies to Jon Niese.

BUMGARNER: It always begins with pitching. (Getty)

BUMGARNER: It always begins with pitching. (Getty)

The game’s turning point came in the third inning when the Royals put runners on second and third with no out, but Bumgarner kept it together and got out of the inning with no damage. Bumgarner also helped himself by starting a double play to get out of the second.

I’m not saying Mets pitchers haven’t done the same, but not consistently.

Bumgarner threw 21 first-pitch strikes to the 26 hitters he faced for an incredible 81 percent efficiency. For all the new wave stats, first pitch strikes percentages are missing. In particular, this is something Wheeler – originally in the Giants’ organization – must refine his game.

Who is to say the Giants didn’t know this when they traded him to the Mets for Carlos Beltran?

Relief pitching: The bullpen has long been part of the Giants’ success, with the pitchers and how manager Bruce Bochy manages them. There’s nobody better.

Alderson has tried to build a pen since he came here, and this season is the closest he’s come. Now, it is up to Collins to slot in Bobby Parnell, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia in the right roles.

Aggressive base running/productive at-bats: The Royals’ speed drew considerable pre-Series attention, but the tone for the game was set in the first inning when the Giants executed what I consider one of the most exciting plays in baseball.

Gregor Blanco singled and tagged up and advanced on Joe Panik’s fly ball, making it a productive out. The dimensions at Citi Field are such that this is something the Mets should be more aware of doing.

So, instead of fooling around with the dimensions and moving in the fences, the Mets would be better off tailoring their offense with speed, aggressive base running and timely hitting to complement their young pitching.

In Game 1, the Giants were 5-for-12 with RISP, a situation in which the Mets are weak. Timely hitting begins with being patient and working the count. Last night, of the 43 hitters the Giants sent to the plate, 20 took a first-pitch ball or put the ball in play.

Management expertise: Bochy is the best manager in baseball. This is the fourth time he’s taken a team to the World Series, and win-or-lose, he’s worthy of the Hall of Fame.

He gives his players defined roles and they buy in. I can’t imagine Bochy fooling around by juggling Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada at shortstop, or with the myriad of left fielders.

It is Alderson’s responsibility to bring in the right players. The Giants bettered themselves with Jake Peavy and Hunter Pence; in recent years the Mets brought in Curtis Granderson and Frank Francisco.

Big difference.

Bochy once left Barry Zito off a playoff roster and put Tim Lincecum in the bullpen. There were no waves. Conversely, Matt Harvey, although it was determined he wouldn’t pitch this season, complained about where he would rehab and that he wanted to pitch this summer.

Neither Alderson nor Collins forcefully laid down the law with Harvey, and prior to that Jordany Valdespin. The Mets have had through the years a line of headaches such as Francisco Rodriguez and Ike Davis (complaining about going to the minor leagues and refusing to adjust his hitting approach).

I can’t imagine the Giants putting up with a non-productive player for as long as the Mets did with Davis.

The Mets also didn’t give Angel Pagan a legitimate chance in center field. He’s hurt now, but on a four-year contract with the Giants.

Sabean has been the Giants’ general manager since 1997. Conversely, Alderson is the fourth general manager have had in that span.

Of course, Sabean has been given ownership’s blessing to build the team as he sees fit. Alderson doesn’t have that leeway.

The Mets won 79 games this season, while San Francisco won 88. Nine more wins over six months doesn’t seem like much.

Let’s see if the Mets can close that gap.

Oct 21

This Series Could Be Special

For as long as I have loved baseball, first as a Little Leaguer with an active imagination, and then as a journalist covering the game I was not good enough to play on the major league level, the World Series always held a special place for me.

I remember bits and pieces of the 1969 Series, but confess I was shocked like most of the country. I admit to playing hooky from school to watch the 1970 Series, but maybe it served me right because I pulled for the Reds.

searchMy favorite Series was the 1975 Red Sox-Reds. Although disappointed in the outcome, it was compelling because of it went seven and Game Six was arguably the best game in history. There was Bernie Carbo’s game-tying homer; Carlton Fisk’s game-winner; and Dwight Evans’ game saving catch.

One of the great stories coming from that Series was Pete Rose telling Fisk something along the lines of, “this is a great game, isn’t it?’’

Next up was Twins-Braves with the classic Jack Morris-John Smoltz Game 7. If not the Fisk game, maybe this was history’s best.

I covered all the Yankees’ titles under Joe Torre, but the most dramatic of them was one they lost, in 2001, to Arizona. Go figure, perhaps the worst throw of Mariano Rivera’s career was after fielding that bunt in the ninth inning of Game 7.

A lot of historic homers were hit in that Series, but my favorite moments the fans chanting Paul O’Neill’s name; the bald eagle Challenger scattering the Yankees before the anthem; and George Bush throwing a ceremonial pitch perfect strike.

Each Series has its defining moment or story line, and I can only imagine what it will be this year.

Some match-ups are more compelling than others, but Giants-Royals – regardless of what ESPN says – will be a Series worthy of our attention. There was actually a Sports Center lead-in actually daring to ask if these teams “deserved,’’ to be there.

The fact is, baseball itself bears responsibility for the appearance of an “unworthy’’ match-up because it tampers with the integrity of its season with interleague play and the unbalanced schedule forcing teams to run different courses to the finish line.

However, these teams, based on being a wild-card entry, each played an additional game. They took on all comers – each having to beat the team with the best record in their league.

They also play the game the way it should be, with pitching, defense, timely hitting and solid bullpens. Both can also hit the long ball when needed, but neither survive by the homer, which is refreshing.

I believe this one has the capability of going seven, which defines “classic,’’ to me. Both teams have reason to believe they can be considered a team of destiny.

I can’t wait to find out which one.

Sep 15

Harvey Throws Simulated Game; Mets To Be Commended For Handling Difficult Injury

It wasn’t what he had in mind, but Matt Harvey did get on Citi Field’s mound in 2014.

Several times during the season Harvey chirped about wanting to return in September, and the Mets are to be commended for not giving in to his ardent posturing.

For a team hurting at the gate and playing better than expected, it could have been tempting to acquiesce to Harvey, who made things difficult for the organization, beginning with initially not wanting surgery.

HARVEY: See you in the spring. (MLB)

HARVEY: See you in the spring. (MLB)

Not only did Harvey challenge the Mets’ timetable, but also where he’d rehab. Even so, the Mets realized Harvey’s potential and didn’t cave.

Harvey consistently touched the radar gun at 95 mph., in a simulated game this afternoon. It marked the first time he was clocked since last October’s Tommy John surgery. GM Sandy Alderson said Harvey’s workload in spring training would be like any other starter.

“Everything we were trying to accomplish this season has been accomplished,’’ Alderson told reporters today. “From our standpoint, we want to make sure he was physically back to a level that would ensure he wasn’t behind in spring training.

“And then, secondly, he needed to be back to a state mentally where he felt comfortable going into next season and the uncertainty has been eliminated. We feel we’re at that point.’’

Alderson expressed no regret to how the team handled Harvey’s rehab.

“He hasn’t thrown against hitters,’’ Alderson said. “He hasn’t thrown in games. But, given the schedule and the natural healing process and everything else, we felt this was the right place for him to stop and rest and pick it up next season.’’

Because of the potential for strain on the elbow, the only pitch Harvey did not throw today was his slider. Alderson admitted there’s a strong chance Harvey will be on a strict innings count in 2015, the year the Mets have pointed to when they’ll swim in competitive waters.

The Mets have frequently been criticized for their handling of injuries, but not this time.

Mar 17

Game Recap: Cubs 6, Mets 3

MEJIA: Where to put him?

The Mets were defeated by the Chicago Cubs by the score of 6-3 on Sunday on Las Vegas to earn a split of their two game series.

Highlights:

Jenrry Mejia struggled in his second Grapefruit League start and allowed three runs (two earned) in 2.1 innings of work. The young right-hander allowed four hits, including a home run, and walked two while striking out one.

Rafael Montero relieved Mejia and tossed 2.2 innings, also allowing two earned runs on four hits including a home run. He walked one and struck out one.

Carlos Torres had another great outing, allowing a solo homerun in three innings of work and striking out five.

Vying for a utility outfield spot, Andrew Brown hit a two-run homer, while Zach Lutz had two hits including a solo home run.

Travis d’Arnaud was hitless again in three plate appearances and his batting average now stands at .143 in 28 at-bats.

Up Next:

The Mets take on the Miami Marlins on Monday at 1:05 PM in Jupiter, with John Lannan opposing Henderson Alvarez. The game will be broadcast on WOR 710 AM.

Mar 06

Mets Wrap: Game Rained Out; Davis, Duda Ailing; Wright Plays Intrasquad Game

The New York Mets’ game against the Houston Astros was rained out today, forcing them to alter their pitching rotation.

Fifth-starter candidate John Lannan, scheduled to start, will now work Friday against St. Louis at Port St. Lucie. Daisuke Matsuzaka will also pitch against the Cardinals. Rafael Montero and Steven Matz, also scheduled to pitch today, will go tomorrow.

In addition:

* Recovery for first basemen Ike Davis and Lucas Duda from leg injuries remain slow, with neither expected to play soon. Davis hit against live pitching in an intrasquad game, but did no running.

* Bartolo Colon, who has been bothered with a tight calf, threw three scoreless innings in an intrasquad game and said he will be ready to pitch Monday against Miami.

* David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada hit in the intrasquad game. Wright homered. Jonathon Niese and Bobby Parnell pitched after Colon.