Apr 20

Mets Host Giants This Weekend

The Mets open a four-game series tonight against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field, a series that takes on a bigger importance than usual this early in the season.

ZITO: Once on Mets' radar.

After a 6-2 start, the Mets have lost three of their last four games, giving up 31 runs in that span. Now, I’m not saying the Mets can’t stabilize themselves, but we’ve them play well before going into a prolonged slide.

Even though the Giants won’t throw Matt Cain at them and Tim Lincecum is off to bad start, they have the pitching to make for a long weekend in Flushing. While Lincecum has struggled, three of the Giants’ starters this weekend have sub four-run ERAs in Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner.

Tonight’s starter, Zito, threw a four-hit shutout at Colorado in his first start and gave up three runs, two of them unearned, in his second against Pittsburgh. Zito seemed heading out of the Giants’ rotation, but their need for pitching forced them to trade Jonathan Sanchez for Melky Cabrera.

You might recall Zito was once on the Mets’ radar following the 2006 season, but weren’t willing to swim in the deep end of the free-agent pool ($126 million over seven years).

The Giants are concerned about their bullpen with Brian Wilson having Tommy John surgery and lost for the season. Santiago Casilla will get the first chance to assume the closer role.

The following are the starters for the series:

Friday: LHP Jon Niese (2-0, 2.13) vs. LHP Barry Zito (1-0, 1.13), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Mike Pelfrey (0-0, 3.09) vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong (0-1, 2.84), 1:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Dillon Gee (1-1, 2.92) vs. RHP Tim Lincecum (0-2, 10.54), 1:10 p.m. ET

Monday: LHP Johan Santana (0-2, 3.97) vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner (2-1, 3.63), 7:10 p.m. ET

Feb 07

Not expecting much between now and spring training.

I’ve always considered the start of the baseball season to coincide with the Super Bowl. As the Giants parade down Broadway, the Mets are about to pack their equipment trucks for Florida.

Spring training is two weeks away and I don’t see the Mets doing anything of significance between now and then. Not that Rick Ankiel would have been a franchise changer, but he did fit a need and the Mets wouldn’t cough up the million bucks the Nationals just gave him.

There is no new light on the Mets’ financial problems, but considering they wouldn’t – or couldn’t – compete with the Nationals on a role player, we must figure they are heading into spring training with what they have and the hope everything breaks in the positive for them.

Wishing and hoping isn’t much of a foundation.

Nov 07

The dealing has begun shaping market for Reyes; Mets miss out on pitching.

Jose Reyes has his first suitor and it isn’t the Mets. As suggested, the Miami Marlins spoke to Reyes, something we knew would happen once friend Hanley Ramirez said he’d be willing to move to third base from shortstop.

CABRERA: Does his trade lessens Giants' interest in Reyes?

Thoughts Ramirez would be wasted at third are nonsense, as his value to the Marlins is as an offensive force. The Mets made no overtures to Reyes during their exclusive negotiating window following the World Series, and aren’t expected to until they see how Reyes’ bidders set the market.

Reportedly, Reyes wants at least $100 million and six years. Sources with the Mets are saying they don’t want to go more than four years at around $18 million.

The Marlins want to move into their new stadium with an impact signing. They have some good, young pitching, but lack a proven leadoff hitter to set the table for Ramirez.

As I suggested, the Mets should view the Marlins and Washington as more a threat to snagging Reyes from them than the Phillies. However, even with the Marlins’ interest, it is premature to think he’s already looking for a home on the beach.

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Sep 13

Hat flap issue; everybody loses.

The fallout from the 9-11 hat flap was disturbing on several levels, beginning with MLB’s inane policy to forbid the Mets and Yankees from wearing them during their games Sunday.

Joe Torre, VP of operations for MLB, said it was a decision to be uniform throughout the sport that day with teams wearing caps with the flag emblem. But, why deny the Mets, Yankees and Nationals, teams hit personally by the tragedy?

No good reason. MLB being MLB, I guess.

That Commissioner Bud Selig is reportedly angry at the Mets for making this public indicates his embarrassment over the issue, and he’s that way because he knew he blew it. How could he, or anybody else with MLB, not forecasted this would have been an issue in New York?

MLB’s offices are in Manhattan. Didn’t anybody stick their head out a window last week to get a feel for things? Why do you think MLB had the Mets and Cubs on that night? Like ESPN, they wanted to country to look in that day at New York. It’s why the Cowboys at the Jets was the NFL prime game.  Get those ratings up, baby.

If the Yankees had been home to Kansas City that night, that would have been the game. If the Giants were home instead of the Jets, they would have been the attraction. This isn’t all that hard to figure out.

Obviously, they weren’t paying attention when the NFL backed down late last week to public opinion on players wearing gloves and shoes in support of 9-11. By the way, coaches and players for the Giants, Redskins, Jets and Cowboys all wore caps honoring first responders on the sidelines.

That this issue was still the focus last night says this is, and always will be, a hot button issue for MLB.

Now, we’re speculating all sorts of things that continue to put the Mets and MLB in a bad light. Did the Mets back down because of their financial issues and the loan they received from MLB? Was this decision made because MLB could market their US flag caps?

Maybe none of those are issues, but it can’t escape speculation.

Lastly, Terry Collins admitted the hat flap was a distraction last night. Tonight, the pregame questions of the players will be centered on was last night really a distraction? So, because of an anal decision by MLB, this  turns into two or three-day story.

Personally, I can’t believe he would have the nerve to pin the loss on that issue as a distraction. As an athlete, they have to disregard such nonsense. Collins was making an excuse.

The Mets lost last night because they couldn’t field or hit the ball and wasted another quality start by RA Dickey.