Apr 21

Mets On Slippery Slope Following Another Loss

The bloom is off the Mets’ early season rose. After a quick start that included winning the first two games in last weekend’s series in Philadelphia, the Mets have lost three straight and four of their last five.

They are still over .500, but the sense this could be a different year is fading. Thirteen games is two small a picture to frame it a season, but the crispness that opened the year is gone.

Frank Francisco, who opened with three straight saves, has given up four runs in his last three appearances. Last night he walked Melky Cabrera on four pitches to lead off the tenth. Cabrera stole on a pitchout, which is almost impossible to do, and scored on a two-out single.

That’s three red flags in one inning: the leadoff walk; stealing on a pitchout shows an inability to hold runners and a lack of concentration; and the two-out hit is indicative of not putting away an inning. A successful closer doesn’t do any of those things on a consistent basis.

Francisco has good stuff, but has always been erratic in the little things, such as those mentioned above. Explains in large part why he was was available.

There’s more to be concerned with:

By definition, Jon Niese had a quality start giving up three runs in six innings, but needed 109 pitches to do so. That’s clearly working too hard. That many pitches should take him through the eighth, at least. Maybe complete-game worthy.

However, it was an upgrade from what the Mets received their two previous games from R. A. Dickey and Johan Santana. This afternoon it is Mike Pelfrey, who has been anything but calming and comforting.

The starting pitching is key to whatever success the Mets have this year and it must improve.

Offensively, Jason Bay homered and got another hit, but neither he nor Lucas Duda are hitting in the clutch. Bay struck out with runners on second and third and one out in the tenth. Both hitters are 1-for-13 with RSIP. That’s 2-for-26, which translates into a lot of runners left on base and empty innings. A lot of losses, too.

Also offensively are the continuing struggles of Ike Davis who struck out twice while going hitless five times last night. His swing gets longer and loopier by the game.

All teams are going to have night like that occasionally, but the Mets’ last four losses have exposed their flaws greatly.

I wrote several times this week how the Mets had to snap out of it to avoid a downhill slide. They are in one now.

ON DECK: Starting lineup.

Apr 17

Seven Positive Signs For The Mets

Earlier today I posed the question if the Mets were for real. Ten games is not enough of a window to jump on the bandwagon, but it is big enough to sense that there’s something positive going on.

WRIGHT: Off to a good start. (AP)

1) David Wright is stroking the ball with authority. Even after missing several games he’s been consistently on, driving the ball to the opposite field which has always been a benchmark of success for him. He’s been swinging at good pitches and hasn’t been chasing the down-and-away junk. He also has been holding his ground when the pitchers have worked him inside.

2) They are 7-3, with all their wins in the division. They’ve won a series in Philadelphia and won last night in Atlanta, places which haven’t always been kind to them. I took a look at a sportsbook review and the odds on the Mets are getting better everyday. This is as positive a sign as any.

3) Johan Santana, who will work tonight, has given them two strong starts. A strong Santana give the Mets a sense of confidence and credibility. Now, if they’d only score some runs for him.

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Apr 17

Mets Come Up Big Again

Sometimes, the turning point of a game isn’t always in the late innings. Dillon Gee was in trouble early last night. The Braves had the bases loaded in the second with one out.  Gee was clearly struggling and this was the point in the game where the Braves could have taken control, had a big inning and gotten into the Mets’ bullpen early.

GEE: Stellar last night.

However, Gee, showing the composure that was the foundation of his surge last year, got Jack Wilson on a RBI grounder and struck out Tommy Hanson.

The Mets got of the inning cheaply and backed Gee with homers from Ike Davis and another from Jason Bay, the latter’s second in three games. Bay also made a HR robbing catch of Wilson in the fifth.

Pitching, power and defense. It was as complete a game as the Mets have played in a long time.

The biggest things to take out of the game was Gee’s poise, and signs Davis and Bay were breaking out of slumps.

Are the Mets for real? Ten games in at 7-3, it is too soon to call, but you have to like how they are playing, and especially beating teams in their division. You think back and wonder how they let those games against Washington get away.

Considering the expectations, there might be the sense they are playing over their heads, but for the most part the pitching has been splendid and that puts their record into context.

The one thing I am taking from this team right now is that they are fun to watch. I’m not watching with the thought of how are they going to blow this, but with wonderment of their potential.

ON DECK: Are the Mets for real?

Apr 14

Wright In Lineup Today

David Wright gave it a go and will be in the lineup this afternoon at Philadelphia. For five days Terry Collins expressed optimism Wright would be able to play, but also admitted the DL was a possibility.

There is a risk to Wright playing today, which is if Wright aggravates the injury and does go on the DL the Mets would have lost five days in the process.

If his pinkie feels better today, it would probably improve over the next couple of days. I believe the Mets are taking a risk.

Here’s today’s lineup:

Ruben Tejada, ss

Daniel Murphy, 2b

David Wright, 3b
Ike Davis, 1b
Jason Bay, lf
Lucas Duda, rf
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf
Josh Thole, c
Jon Niese, lhp
Apr 12

Mets Have No Options With Bay

The Mets have been here before, saddled with an unproductive player and a huge contract. It wasn’t too long ago the Mets cursed the existence of Oliver Perez. Now it is Jason Bay.

BAY: Nowhere to go but up (Getty).

A significant difference is while Perez’s attitude in the clubhouse turned teammates against him, Bay remains a popular figure because he plays hard and hustles. He just can’t hit.

With Andres Torres on the disabled list and David Wright possibly heading there, the Mets’ serious lack of depth has been exposed six games into the season.

Realistically, what can the Mets do?

They could drop him in the order as Terry Collins hinted, but he’s still an out waiting to happen. Besides, without Wright – and with Lucas Duda and Ike Davis also not hitting – where’s he going to hit? Sixth? Seventh?

If the Mets had somebody better to play they would, but since they don’t there won’t be a platoon system and they can’t bench him.

Bay’s contract and two years of not hitting makes him nearly impossible to trade. And, do the Mets really want to eat his contract and release him? There’s that egg-in-the-face risk again of him being picked up and producing elsewhere.

The Mets’ best hope with Bay is the same as it was with Perez, and that’s for him to play and eventually fix himself.

 

 

Two days ago I thought there might have been a chance of dropping him in the order and then perhaps platooning him because the Mets didn’t want Bay being an anchor to a fast start. But, Wright is hurt and two losses later with the Mets heading to Philadelphia, what was once bright is now bleak.

Bay will stay. Sorry.