May 06

Johan Santana Gives Mets Ace Effort

Once again, Johan Santan pitched like an ace for the Mets. Not so much in domination as he did working out of trouble and finishing strong. Only this time, the Mets got him some runs, the bullpen closed the door and a losing streak was snapped at four.

The Mets are a fragile team, thin actually, and they can’t afford to let losing streaks drag on and get out of hand. That’s how seasons can slip away.

This is also a team that must be creative, such as dropping Daniel Murphy to fifth in the order with Ike Davis slumping. Murphy responded with four hits, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him there again today.

For the most part, there’s little to complain about Terry Collins. He changed the culture of the clubhouse and has gotten the most from what has been made available to him.

I don’t know where the Mets will finish this season, but for some reason I don’t feel as bleak about things as I once did. I want to enjoy this summer.

May 04

Mariano Rivera Reminds Mets Fans How Fragile Things Can Be

This is a Mets blog, but also a baseball blog, and part of baseball is Mariano Rivera, the Yankees’ Hall of Fame closer. Mets fans remember Rivera because he snuffed out many games over the years, including Game 5 of the 2000 World Series.

RIVERA: The end of an era? (YES)

When the ball left Mike Piazza’s bat with a crack I thought it had a chance, but like many before, because of that awesome cutter, Piazza didn’t get all of it and the ball died. It is one of baseball’s most dominating pitches, like Tom Seaver’s slider, Doc  Gooden’s fastball and Johan Santana’s change. Not many solved it.

After watching the Knicks get pulverized last night and getting bored watching the same about the Mavericks, I started to channel surf and caught the tease about Rivera being hurt and his career possibly being over.

Watching him crumpled on the warning track I recalled my eight years covering him and recalled several moments. Coming to mind immediately was his constant demeanor. Whether he sawed off another bat to end a game, or when Luis Gonzalez beat him with a bloop single to win the 2001 World Series, he was a stand-up guy.

However, one time after he blew several save opportunities in a row he got testy and said he was a human being and not a machine with oil running through his veins. It was surprising to hear, but it showed he was, indeed, human.

I enjoyed stopping by his locker to chat about things non-baseball. One spring I told him a joke three days in a row. On the fourth day, he came up to me and said, “where is my joke?” I loved that.

Another time I asked if he could play any position but his own what would it be and he said centerfield. So, to see him shag fly balls was not a surprise. He did it on a daily basis throughout his career.

But, to be injured shagging flies is a freak, unusual thing. Somewhat like his cutter, it is something that can’t be explained. He wasn’t injured because he is over 40 – see Derrick Rose also tearing his ACL – but being over 40 will make the comeback all the more difficult.

Sure, I can see him retiring, but I can also envision his pride not letting him go like this.

Yes, it was an unexplainable injury, but a reminder of how fragile things can be for an athlete. Mets fans have seen more than their fare share in recent years, like Ike Davis’ ankle, David Wright playing a month with a fracture in his back, the concussions of Jason Bay and Ryan Church, and how Billy Wagner’s elbow injury might have cost them the playoffs in 2008 and subsequently brought on the Francisco Rodriguez era.

Followers of the Mets know better than most how an injury can’t be projected, but can determine the course of a team. If Jose Reyes didn’t have an injury history would he have been re-signed? How things might have been different in recent seasons without injuries to Wright, Wagner, Carlos Beltran and Duaner Sanchez.

If Sanchez doesn’t get hurt in that taxi accident, the Mets never would have traded Xavier Nady for Oliver Perez and Roberto Hernandez.

Just think of how things could have been different.

 

Apr 27

Encouraging News About Mets Farm System

It might not happen again for awhile – they have done it only three times in 50 years  - but the Mets’ starting lineup yesterday was comprised solely of products from the farm system. Elias reported it as the first time in 41 years.

Of course, that will change when Johan Santana and others start, and Andres Torres and Jason Bay return. Nonetheless, it is a positive sign,

In this era of spiraling salaries and considering their financial situation, homegrown talent is the surest form of cost certainty. As the Mets continue to improve, both on the field and in the standings, they’ll go to the outside more in the forms of free-agent signings and trades. But, the core has to be the farm system.

The Mets will soon have a decision to make in extending David Wright, which I believe they will. Two, three years down the road if they pan out as expected, the Mets will consider signing guys like Ike Davis, Josh Thole, Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada to long-term deals as to avoid arbitration and free-agency. This is what they did with Jon Niese.

Building from within is not a new theory and some of the premier examples is what the Yankees did during their run, adding a key homegrown player nearly every year. There was Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada.

Most of the great franchises have a core group from the farm system and this is what the Mets need to do to become an elite team. Now that they appear to have a foundation is why I think they’ll keep Wright, who is leading the team in every major offensive category.

 

 

 

Apr 26

Mets Exceeding Early Expectations

I must admit, that following their rough stretch against Atlanta and San Francisco, I thought the Mets were heading into a tailspin. However, strong pitching performances from Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey – following up stinkers – appear to have stabilized.

COLLINS: Happy so far.

I’m not saying all is well as it is way to early for that, but I have seen the Mets respond to a weekend like the one they had against the Giants in the opposite fashion. And, today their best pitcher, Jon Niese, will go for the sweep.

Playing well early against a tough schedule is a good sign, Terry Collins said: “It’s important. One of the things that makes it important, is that our guys know they can compete. We have a long hot summer ahead, we are very aware of that. They have to understand that they can compete with the teams we’re playing. Right now they’re seeing it.”

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Apr 24

Mets April 24 Lineup Against Miami

The Mets just posted tonight’s lineup:

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf

Ruben Tejada, ss

Daniel Murphy, 2b

David Wright, 3b

Lucas Duda, rf

Ike Davis, 1b

Mike Baxter, lf

Josh Thole, c

Johan Santana, lhp

LINEUP COMMENTS: With Jason Bay going on the DL and Ike Davis not hitting, David Wright is the logical clean-up choice. … Mike Baxter starts tonight in left.  … Johan Santana is coming off a career short outing in his his last start. He said he’s fine physically, but all eyes will be on him.