Jul 23

Mets Chat Room; season sliding away.

The Mets have given up most of the ground they gained in June. They are 5-13 for July, including losers of four straight and seven of eight on this road trip. They have lost 6 ½ games in the standings to be 7 ½ games behind the Braves.

Game #97 at Dodgers

There’s still time, but it is amazing how it slips away.

Things are even more pressing considering the Mets have three games with the Dodgers, and three each with St. Louis, Atlanta and Philadelphia. They also have three with Arizona, but all they need to do is look at the beginning of the week to know that’s not a slam dunk.

For all the talk about needing another starter, which is still true considering Mike Pelfrey’s slide and the erratic performances of Hisanori Takahashi, it is the offense that has collapsed, scoring four runs or fewer in their last 13 games.

Going tonight is Johan Santana, who knows something about non-support as he has watched the Mets give him three runs or less in 12 of his 20 starts.

“This is a team effort, and it’s part of the game,” Santana said. “We’re going to struggle sometimes, we’re going to do good sometimes. All I got to do is go out there and do my job and try to help to get a win. That’s the way I approach the game.’’

Santana has done his part, with the Mets winning his last three starts. He is 2-0 with a 0.38 ERA in that span.

“We’ve got to eventually turn this thing around,” said manager Jerry Manuel. “Somebody’s got to find a way to get hot and carry us for a minute.’’

Well, a little bit more than a minute would be nice.

May 28

Mets: On the road again.

MANUEL: Needs to figure out road woes

After another successful homestand – and it doesn’t get much better than a shutout sweep of the Phillies – the Mets hit the road to Milwaukee and San Diego.

Bizarre scheduling, yes, but nonetheless another obstacle for the Mets and challenge for manager Jerry Manuel. The whispers have eased about his job, but if they continue to stumble away from Citi Field could easily resurface.

This trip is one letter away from a trap, in that the Mets must guard against the inevitable letdown after beating the Yankees and Phillies. Milwaukee has the worst home record, but hasn’t always been an easy place to play for the Mets and the Padres have a good team.

The Mets are bearing down on the Phillies for the NL East lead, but they are still only a few games over .500 and have shown little ability thus far at winning on the road.

A baseball season is long and arduous. It is about sustaining power and that’s something we haven’t yet seen this year.

Mar 26

March 26.10: Figueroa’s story won’t change.

As compelling as the underdog story is, there’s a reason for why he is. Just as Cornell lost last night to Kentucky because of depth of talent, that is also the limitation of Nelson Figueroa’s feel-good story.

There’s a reason why Figueroa has bounced around all these years: His talent it that of the sixth man in a five-man rotation. Every once in awhile he shows a glimmer, but overall the more he pitches the more his flaws are exposed.

Figueroa pitches today not so much as an effort to get Jerry Manuel to change his mind about the fifth spot in the rotation but as he does to audition for somebody else.

Figueroa, 35, who refers as himself as an “insurance policy,’’ has been around long enough to know the score.

“I’m in a position where I’m going out there and throwing for 29 other teams right now,’’ Figueroa said. “Being the insurance policy has its benefits. But at the same time, it’s a frustrating situation. I feel like if I’m given the opportunity to be more than that, I can be.’’

But, it won’t happen with the Mets because there’s always a faster gun, somebody who is younger, who throws harder, who is more a natural.

Actually, Figueroa got an extended look last year because of the Mets’ decimated rotation and went 3-8 with a 4.09 ERA. That included losing five consecutive decisions in September,

Figueroa’s heart, grit and determination is the essence of what sport should be, but it isn’t the reality in today’s game, which is driven by the need to win immediately. Maybe in a town with less pressure, Figueroa might get a chance.

But it would be the same story with the Mets, him passing through waivers, going back to Triple-A Buffalo, and waiting for the call generated by the inevitable injury or calamity in the rotation.

Still, pitching minor league baseball for what Figueroa would make is a better job than most of us will have, earning him $119,500 if he spends the full season in the minors.

It just isn’t the job he wants.

Mar 24

March 24.10: Wrapping up the Day.

Jose Reyes returned to camp today, but couldn’t guarantee he’d be ready for Opening Day. And, Reyes said his leg won’t enable him to go all out anytime soon, so he’s got to take it easy.

Jerry Manuel said he doesn’t expect Reyes to be playing by this weekend, telling reporters: “I couldn’t give you a timetable, but it sure is good to have him back.’’

Reyes didn’t run at full speed, but participated in workouts and said he expects to feel sore tomorrow. Reyes said doctors told him he had a virus that elevated his levels and he has diet restrictions, such as not being able to eat seafood.

* Johan Santana gave up two runs on eight hits and one walk in 5 2/3 innings.

* Doc Gooden was arrested Tuesday morning for driving under the influence. Is he ever going to get it together?

* It appears the fifth starter job is Jon Niese’s to lose with Fernando Nieve and Hisanori Takahashi trying to earn spots in the bullpen.

* Several reports have the Mets trying to deal outfielder Gary Matthews for pitching. But, considering where Matthews is in his career, what could he bring in return?

Feb 25

Feb. 25.10: Fitting in Green.

Sometimes, I just don’t get Jerry Manuel. For instance, when talking about Sean Green, when the topic was his submarine delivery, he said he hopes it doesn’t reduce him to being a specialist.

Huh?

Isn’t that the whole essence of putting together a bullpen, finding a defined role for each guy? Obviously, there’s room for adjustment depending on the game situation, but don’t the terms long-man, closer, eighth-inning set-up man and “left-hander out of the bullpen,’’ all denote specialists?

When Manuel brings in Pedro Feliciano to face Adrian Gonzalez instead of a right-hander isn’t he using a specialist? Hell, each bullpen decision is about match-ups and subsequently about specialization.

As far as being a specialist, Manuel will determine that by how he uses Green. As a submariner, Green should be effective against both right-handed and left-handed, that is, if his ball in down, moving and on the corners.  If Manuel doesn’t want to pigeon-hole Green’s job – which on the surface would seem to be to come in and get the ground ball, especially against right-handed hitters – then he doesn’t have to.

It is Manuel’s job in constructing the bullpen to slot pitchers to different game situations. To say he doesn’t want Green to be a specialist is contrary to what should be going on.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with specialists as long as they do their job. In the basic sense every reliever should be a specialist in that their role should simply be to get hitters out, which has been a widespread problem of the bullpen the last three years.