Apr 16

April 16.10: Paging Carlos Beltran.

General manager Omar Minaya gave us a projection early this month that Carlos Beltran would be back around late May, which was four to six weeks after resuming baseball activities.

Well, that time frame is right now and Beltran hasn’t even begun running. Based on what’s going on, we might be looking now at June if not July and the All-Star break.

Fact is, Beltran, if he hasn’t started running, doesn’t have any real timetable. They can say four to six weeks from baseball activities all night, but they have no idea when that will be.

Would it surprise you if we didn’t see Beltran to the second half of the season if at all? Wouldn’t shock me.

Part of the fallout of Beltran’s absence is the issue of Jose Reyes batting third.

Here’s what Jeff Francoeur has to say about it: “I don’t want to see that. Not at all. He’s the most dynamic leadoff hitter in the game, and I want to see him there. Who knows what we’ll do? But I’m just saying, he’s never been really a run producer. He’s been more of a guy to score 150 runs. … I’m just saying, I think he’s the most dynamic leadoff hitter in the league… Reyes has always hit leadoff to me for a reason. He’s the best. He gets on base, steals, makes things happen.’’

Jerry Manuel says he wants Reyes to maintain his same approach in the three hole. It will never happen because the demands and job description batting third differ from batting first. Reyes gets into trouble when he plays outside himself and attempts to loft the ball instead of hitting it on the ground and line drives into the gap.

You will see a definite change in Reyes’ approach if they go ahead with this.

The No. 3 hitter should be the team’s best hitter, which is to say the best combination of average and power, and that’s David Wright.

There is nobody who comes close to being able to do what Reyes does as the leadoff hitter. For years we’ve been hearing how Reyes is the catalyst to the Mets offense. Why would they want to tinker with that?

Apr 14

April 14.10: About Last Night; Maine in trouble.

I don’t know if last night was John Maine’s worst game as a Met, but it sure could have been. It definitely was as complete a loss as the Mets have endured in recent seasons.

* Maine gave up eight runs on seven hits and three walks in three innings. His ERA is 13.50 and his spot in the rotation is now under question.

* Met hitters were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, effectively eliminating any chance at making a game of it last night.

* Met pitchers walked nine and their hitters struck out 11 times.

Jerry Manuel talked about a 20-game window to determine what is a fast start. At 2-5, and a miserable 2-5, maybe they are already there. Maine, hammered in both starts, is not only off to a bad start, but he’s in trouble.

“When you have that much traffic in that few innings you have to be concerned,’’ Manuel said. “He got the two outs and couldn’t put them away. You have to have some concern.’’

Maine broke 90 mph. a few times but was consistently in the high 80s. Manuel doesn’t think there’s a health problem.

“This is a performance business,’’ Manuel said. “We don’t think there are any health issues.’’

Perhaps Maine isn’t hurting, but he’s also not strong enough to be throwing that way. In the past he’s been able to get by with poor location with his velocity, getting a foul tip instead of a double in the gap.

Manuel said that’s part of the problem and he’ll have “dialogue’’ with his coaches about Maine’s spot in the rotation.

Last night was a continuation of a trend of falling behind early. Save Johan Santana’s first start, the Mets have consistently fallen behind in their games, putting pressure on their listless offense. And, right now the Mets aren’t hitting well to compensate for their pitching.

“We wanted to pitch well,’’ Manuel said. “That’s the key to everything.’’

Right now, the Mets are thinking what’s wrong with Maine and what to do about it. If it is simply a matter of building up his arm, then sending him out has to be considered. A MRI to be sure about the structure of his elbow must also be evaluated.

Currently, Maine is not getting it done. But, unlike the coin flips known as Oliver Perez and Mike Pelfrey, he’s not showing any upside.

Ah, what the hell. I’m not going to wait for 20 games. This is a bad start.

NOTE: Vote in the new poll concerning what should be done about John Maine.