May 08

Have we seen the last of Chris Young?

Considering how it began, you have to be satisfied with the Mets’ six-game homestand against the Giants and Dodgers. A split was about as good as could be expected, and that’s what the Mets got.

Perhaps the most significant development coming out of the homestand was Chris Young’s second appointment to the disabled list. He was a gamble signing to begin with, so this really can’t be looked at as a surprise. The Mets are just fortunate that they’ve received good pitching from Dillon Gee.

The Mets already said Young won’t be activated when he’s eligible to come off the disabled and this makes me wonder if we’ll ever see him again. With his injury history, it is a legitimate question.

No, Young wasn’t ever going to be a stud starter in the Mets’ rotation, but as a gamble you take what you can get and they got 24 innings.

 

May 04

It won’t get easier against Lincecum.

The Mets have lost four of their last five games after winning six straight, and it won’t get likely won’t get any easier against Tim Lincecum, their third Cy Young Award winning pitcher over their last four games, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay being the others.

LINCECUM: Presents a big challenge.

Lincecum is 2-3 with a 2.90 ERA, numbers that say he’s not getting any run support. Of course, the Giants’ offense is why there’s been a lot of Jose Reyes talk the past couple of days. Yes, the Giants are interested. Why wouldn’t they be?  There are other teams as well, but let’s face it, only a few that can afford to sign him to a long-term deal.

Reyes reached base six times last night to raise his on-base percentage to .377, which isn’t what neither him nor the Mets would like it to be. Reyes has been hot over his last 12 games, hitting .367 with four doubles and eight runs scored in that span.

The Mets are wondering what to do with Dillon Gee, and a spot in the rotation isn’t out of the question should Chris Capuano struggle tonight. Capuano has alternated wins and losses in his last four starts. He gave up four runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings in his last start Thursday at Washington. The week before he gave up one run in seven innings against Houston.

During his pre-game talk with the media, manager Terry Collins touched on the following issues:

* Jason Bay will return to the lineup tomorrow after leaving the team on paternity leave.

* Johan Santana is progressing in his rehab, but didn’t offer a date when he’ll start throwing off the mound. Until that, it’s all speculation.

* Angel Pagan is maybe a week away from returning from the disabled list.

To talk about the Mets tonight, click onto the Mets Chat icon to your left.

 

May 04

Reyes trade rumors simmering again.

There’s buzz today after Jose Reyes’ stellar game Tuesday night when he reached base six times, unbelievably three times on walks.

REYES: We like his uniform dirty.

It is the kind of game the Mets routinely expect from Reyes, but one not often received the last two seasons because of a variety of injuries.

That the Mets couldn’t parlay such a performance into victory says that as potentially potent Reyes can be, this team still has weaknesses it must fix before it can return to contender status. These are holes that can be filled in part by what Reyes might bring back in a trade.

Bottom line: The Mets aren’t a contender now with Reyes and likely won’t be one if they deal him without making complementary deals.

Reyes passed the audition in the eyes of the San Francisco Giants, who, like every other team are discussing their options, of who interests them and whom they are willing to offer.

It is too early for serious trade discussions, but not too early to laying the foundation for when things heat up in June and July.

The Giants have not made and offer to the Mets for Reyes, but are doing their research. For the Giants, they will undoubtedly ask for a negotiating window, but if denied, San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean should have already decided whether he will sacrifice one of their top pitching talents or prospects to acquire Reyes as a rental.

From the Mets’ perspective, general manager Sandy Alderson must decide whether the return off prospects from the Giants, or Boston, or whomever wants Reyes, is greater than the draft picks they would get should the All-Star shortstop leave via free agency.

Alderson wanted to see two things from Reyes before deciding the 27-year-old shortstop’s fate in New York. The first was Reyes’ health, especially his legs and the first returns have been positive, although I find it puzzling as to why he didn’t try to steal second late in the game.

Secondly, Alderson wanted to see Reyes perform and for the most part he has with a .325 average and 11 steals in 29 games, but there were concerns about his on-base percentage before it surged to .377 last night. Still, an elite leadoff hitter, as Reyes is supposed to be, should be north of .400.

Reyes’ career on-base percentage is .336 and he has averaged 81 strikeouts and 51 walks a year during his career. The latter two numbers need to be reversed.

Reportedly the asking price for Reyes is a package of $100 million-plus, which Alderson said the Mets can afford, although they might not have much left for little else. With Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and likely Francisco Rodriguez off the books there should be plenty of money left after this season to bring back Reyes if they really wanted.

The Mets don’t appear inclined to push things with Reyes. Alderson said he’s not adverse to talking contract during the season, although Reyes has said to the contrary.

Alderson still has time to see if Reyes remains healthy and productive. Whether Reyes stays or not, the Mets will receive something in return.

What they really must decide is if they want Reyes instead.

 

Apr 27

More bright spots for the Mets.

The Mets are riding high with five straight victories, and tonight behind R.A. Dickey can climb out of last place in the NL East. Who would have thought that two weeks ago?

With a victory tonight at Washington, coupled with a loss by Atlanta, the Mets could finally be looking down at somebody in their division. Yes, small steps.

This winning streak hasn’t convinced us the Mets have reached contending status, but what it has done has made the team worth following again. Last night was especially important in that they found a way to win.

Chris Young was gassed early as three home runs indicated, but the Mets overcame blowing the lead and adding tack-on runs. They did not play as crisply as they have but still found a way to manufacture runs and a victory. And, they did it on the road against a team they are supposed to beat.

All this victories have come across teams they should win – Houston, Arizona and Washington – but this isn’t fishing, you don’t have to throw anything back.

Sure, you’d like to see the Mets beat the Phillies, Reds and Giants, but one step at a time. The important thing is they are finally taking steps.

Nov 03

What will be the “Mets Way?”

Sandy Alderson’s first hire is former Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi as his special assistant, with presumably one of his responsibilities to help implement a “Mets Way,” throughout the organization, beginning with the lower levels of the minor league system.

Considering the dimensions of Citi Field, presumably an organizational philosophy will place an emphasis on pitching and defense first, followed by situational hitting, and down on the list power.

As the Giants proved, power is not essential to win, and the Mets have enough to get by with David Wright, Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran (presuming all are healthy, each has 30 homer potential) followed by Ike Davis.

It must begin with pitching, with the first step pounding the strikezone and getting ahead of the hitters. Hopefully, it will include instilling the mindset of working deep into games. When Mike Pelfrey was winning in June he worked fast, efficiently and kept the ball down. When he struggled in July he was the opposite and lost confidence.

The Mets have some talented arms below and I’d like the organization to keep them and not rush their progression. Let them develop a variety of pitches and not be reliant on just one pitch. The prime example is Mike Pelfrey, who gradually developed his secondary pitches, and Jenrry Mejia, who still has a way to go.

If the Mets are able to harness arms and pitch to contact, they should then let the defense take care of them. The Mets still gave away far too many outs, and this must be addressed in spring training. There were still instances of overthrowing the cutoff man and not knowing ahead of time of what to do with the ball.

Defensively, there must be more of a concentration on fundamentals, and this also pertains to the offense, where at times it was glaring as emphasized with the amount of strikeouts.

Offensively, way too many at-bats were given away because the hitter lacked patience and didn’t have a mastery of the strikezone. On-base percentage is a statistic that could be improved by nearly every hitter on the team, including Jose Reyes and Wright.

When the team was winning in June Reyes and Wright were on their games, which meant forcing the play and using the whole field. When they hit the skids in July, their situational hitting as a team was non existent.

Wright, Davis and Bay must reduce their strikeouts, which would automatically increase the on-base percentage and lead to more productive outs.

Power is baseball’s great eraser and always has been. The three-run homer can overcome a lot of things. However, being consistent fundamentally applies continuous pressure on the opposition and that’s the way to go.

I want players who’ll force the action, who know how to take the extra base, who’ll make the correct decisions and not take plays off. I want to see a hustle that was absent at times. We saw Angel Pagan have a horrific season fundamentally in 2009, but he greatly improved last year so it can be done.

I want pitchers who’ll throw strikes and not beat themselves with walks. I want pitchers who’ll go after hitters, and not lose concentration after an error, bad umpire’s call or poor pitch.

This must be emphasized on the major league level, with consequences when it is not. It must also be taught and drilled in the minor leagues.

It’s not an overnight process, but if strongly implemented we should see results the first year.

The Mets’ Way should be to play smart, aggressive, fundamental and relentless ball. It shouldn’t be a novelty when a player advances a runner, hits the cutoff man or doesn’t get lazy in the strikezone with a pitch when he falls behind in the count.

It should be an all time thing.

Let’s face it, the Mets don’t have a rotation like that in San Francisco. They don’t have the power or the ability to buy their way out of trouble like the Yankees.

The Mets have talent, but to win they must out hustle and out work their opposition.