May 15

May 15.10: Chat Room, Game #37 at Marlins: Another fine mess you’ve gotten us into Ollie

What to do with Oliver Perez? After Perez’s latest implosion last night in Florida, it has become even more apparent the Mets need to do something about their flammable left hander, who with each passsing start shows all that hard work this winter is going by the boards.

The first option is to leave him in the rotation for awhile, but Jerry Manuel made that decision last night in the hope Perez would respond to the warmer weather in Florida. But, Perez’s fastball is down by at least four mph., and it seems he can’t find homeplate with a GPS.

There was nothing last night to indicate any progress. Come to think about, four home runs is worse than seven walks.

The bullpen is a poor option because Perez won’t get enough real work to correct his mechanical and mental problems. Any game he enters would be akin to waiving a white flag.

And, you know the Mets aren’t going to eat the $20 million balance of his contract, so an outright release won’t happen either.

OK … to me the only real solution is to send him to the minor leagues to let him work out his problems, that is, if he can.

The Mets, sad to say, have been pushed into a corner where they are trying to salvage what’s left of Perez’s career.

Apr 23

April 23.10: Chat Room, Game #17 vs. Braves: Reyes hitting third.

I am not a second guesser and won’t start tonight. So let me go on record now – and again – before the game to denounce the move of Jose Reyes to the third spot in the order.

It will be the first time since 2005 Reyes will bat anywhere other than leadoff.

I don’t care if Reyes gets on four times tonight, I believe in the long term this move will inevitably backfire because eventually it will force the speedy shortstop outside his game.

Reyes, arguably the game’s premier leadoff hitter, is being asked to take his skills to the third slot under the guise of getting more fastballs for the struggling Jason Bay.

You see, explains Manuel, Bay’s problems stem from not getting enough fastballs, and putting a base stealer ahead of him theoretically will get those fastballs. Just out of curiosity, who was the great base stealer ahead of him in Boston? Was it David Ortiz?

For years, the Mets have been telling anybody who would listen Reyes is their offensive catalyst, that him at the top of the order is what gets the team going. So, naturally, when Reyes is just starting to feel comfortable they move him to a position with the high potential of inducing bad plate habits.

However, Reyes insists he’s not going to do all the things when one plays outside himself after being moved to a run-producing slot in the order. There will be no poor pitch selection, no trying to loft the ball and pull, no trying to hit home runs.

Throughout his career Reyes has fallen into these habits after hitting a home run or two. Willie Randolph used to cringe whenever Reyes homered.

“I’m going to be me,’’ Reyes insists. “I’m going to take it like I’m going to be leadoff. He explained it to me. I said, `I don’t have a problem Jerry.’ ’’

Easier said than done. When thrust into an unfamiliar role it is human nature to want to live up to the dynamics of that role. The No. 3 hitter is supposed to be your best hitter, one with the combination of average and power. It is not a speed position.

For the Mets, that player is a healthy Carlos Beltran, and in his absence, David Wright.

But we’re going to get Reyes, who even under ideal circumstances sometimes swings too long.

It will be very easy to fall into bad habits in this role.

A less dramatic solution would be to move Bay out of the clean-up slot, perhaps to No. 2, or maybe temporarily sixth. Instead of moving the player with the problem, the Mets’ solution is to juggle the entire line-up. Not only will Reyes move, but also Wright, Jeff Francoeur and Angel Pagan.

There are other options, but none would fill the leadoff slot as well as Reyes. So, in essence the Mets are weakening two slots in the batting order with this gamble.

The Mets’ offense hasn’t been doing well, but the team had won three of its last four games. Most of the Mets’ problems when they lose have been pitching related.

If John Maine spits the bit tonight, it probably won’t matter what Reyes and Bay do.

Nobody with the Mets – not just Bay – failed to hit against the Cardinals. So, why didn’t Manuel do this then? Oh yeah, because Reyes said he was uncomfortable in that role.

Here’s tonight’s line-up for the Mets:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
John Maine, RP

Apr 06

April 6.10: Wright steps up for his team.

David Wright spoke in basic, but his smile told a much more complex story.

First inning, Citi Field, yesterday afternoon and Wright was rounding the bases after hitting a two-run, opposite-field homer off Josh Johnson … his smile carrying him as much as his legs.

Wright, who seemingly talked himself out of hitting for power early in the season, and later that lost summer was felled with a concussion after taking a Matt Cain fastball to his head, had just gotten the Mets off to a fast start in turning the page from a disastrous 2009.

Could one swing of the bat set the tone for a summer?

“I don’t put too much stock into home runs,’’ said Wright, who hit only ten of them last year, one of them last Opening Day he was quick to remind when the “tone’’ word surfaced.

Logic says no, that Mets 7, Marlins 1, was simply one game, but the game gave us a glimpse of what could happen when Wright’s team puts it all together for an afternoon. Yesterday was a blue print of what needs to happen.

The Mets need pitching more than power and Johan Santana was superb. And, with their suspect rotation, they need the bullpen late and Fernando Nieve gave them two sterling innings and Francisco Rodriguez was perfect.

Last summer, the Mets hit a major league low 95 homers – the only team not to hit 100 – so their offense must generate runs and take advantage of what is offered. So many opportunities were wasted last year, but yesterday they parlayed three Florida errors into four runs. A gift, yes, but too many times last year they came away empty in similar spots.

The new guys, Gary Matthews, Jason Bay and Rod Barajas had two hits apiece, and Matthews showed he can cover center until Carlos Beltran’s return.

“I think it was an all-around good effort,” Wright said. “We caught the ball, we pitched well and obviously had some timely hitting. You can’t ask for much more than that, first game of the season.’’

Wright is correct, it’s only one game, but it’s better than if it had been one game the other way. For a team coming off two late season collapses and a free-fall summer, that played with frustrating mediocrity this spring, winning sure as hell beats losing.

“By no stretch of the imagination are we where we want to be right now,’’ said manager Jerry Manuel, who looks at winning in a more personal, job-preserving vein. “The important thing is that as you put the pieces into place that you win games.

“We played well. We played all 27 outs.’’

There will be times this summer when they don’t. All teams, even champions, have those moments. And, there will be times this summer when the smile Wright wore yesterday will be a frown.

But, it was finally nice to see him smile.

“It’s good to see David get started,’’ Jeff Francoeur said. “David has to step up. It has to be his team.’’

And, yesterday it was.

Feb 17

Feb. 17.10: Wright speaks in PSL.

David Wright held court this afternoon in Port St. Lucie, and among other things said the Mets’ expectations are to win the NL East and the World Series. Well, I wouldn’t have expected anything less from Wright.

Wright said offensively, he hopes to find something comfortable and stick with it, which translated should mean more home runs. Wright was in a mind funk all last season and only hit 10 homers.

Of all the things he said, I like this best: “I hope its not the underdog role that gets guys fired up, I hope its the embarrassment of last year.”

Embarrassment can be a powerful motivator.

Sep 26

Mets Chat Room: Pelfrey goes fishing/Shea Top Ten

The Mets announced today the top ten moments at Shea Stadium:

1. Game Six of the 1986 World Series highlighted by the Bill Buckner team.
2. Mike Mike Piazza’s dramatic two-run home run in the eighth inning, Sept. 21, 2001, to beat the Braves in New York City’s first sporting event after the 9-11 attacks on America.
3. The Mets beat the heavily-favored Baltimore Orioles, 5-3, in Game Five of the 1969 World Series.
4. Endy Chavez’ Game Seven 2006 NLCS catch.
5. The Mets 7 1986 World Series victory.
6. Robin Ventura’s “Grand Slam Single” in Game Five of the 1999 NLCS.
7. The Beatles play Shea, Aug. 15, 1965.
8. The Mets, on June 30, 2000, scored 10 runs in the eighth inning vs. Atlanta.
9. Tom Seaver’s one-hitter against Chicago.
10. Todd Pratt’s walk-off home run in Game Four of the NLDS vs. Arizona.

Let’s talk about them during the game, if there is a game. For the second straight season the Mets’ last hurdle to October are the Florida Marlins.

“We have three games left and it’s going to be hard,” said Carlos Beltran, who is hitting .315 (17-for-54) with three home runs and 12 RBIs against Florida this season.

The Mets are 9-6 against the Marlins this season, including 4-2 at Shea. None of that success is by Mike Pelfrey, who is 0-3 with a 7.91 ERA in four starts against the Marlins this season and 1-4 lifetime in seven appearances.