Oct 16

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Tale of two pitchers.

Two pitchers, one the Mets didn’t want and one they’d love to have, will be on display today in the second round of the playoffs.

Pedro Martinez, whom the Mets cut ties with in an effort to get younger and move toward the future, will start Game 2 of the NLCS for Philadelphia against the Dodgers. John Lackey, the pitching prize of the free-agent market, starts for the Angels at Yankee Stadium.

MARTINEZ: Get the ball while Mets stay home.

MARTINEZ: Get the ball while Mets stay home.


If Martinez wins, it will send Philly home with a 2-0 games lead. If Lackey wins, he will give the home field advantage to the Angels.

The Mets are watching at home for the third straight season.

After a series of injuries the past few years, the Mets decided they could live without Martinez, 37, will make his first playoff appearance in five years against the Dodgers, the team in broke in with in 1992. Martinez made nine starts with the Phillies, going 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA.

He told me last year he thought he could still pitch again, and proved it this year in a limited capacity. Weary of the injuries, and confident Mike Pelfrey would progress and they’d finally get something out of Oliver Perez, the Mets said good-bye to Martinez, who did not want to come back in a limited role or with a limited contract.

If he will be content with a No. 5 slot, he’ll get some attention this winter. No, the Mets won’t be one of the teams, but he could stay in Philadelphia.

Martinez likes the team and it will be good again next summer.

Martinez hasn’t pitched since Sept. 30, but manager Charlie Manuel isn’t concerned, saying, “I think he knows how to pitch.’’

Martinez’s last playoff appearance was in 2004 with Boston, and one of the story lines today will be facing former Red Sox teammate Manny Ramirez.

“Well, nobody can say I know how to pitch Manny.” Martinez said. “Manny is such a great hitter, and he’s someone that makes adjustments as he sees the game develop.”

The Angels are a team in a zone, having swept Boston in the Division Series. They’ll face CC Sabathia tonight at the Stadium.

LACKEY: On top of FA pitching list.

LACKEY: On top of FA pitching list.


The Angels know how to beat the Yankees, dispatching them from the playoffs twice since 2002. The teams split 10 games this year.

“I don’t know if you’re ever going to be able to measure yourself against an organization like the Yankees. It might take a century before you would get there,’’ Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “But I think our guys feel good at the way they go about their business, the way that they play the game hard, the way that they push the game.’’

But, it all begins with pitching, and tonight that is Lackey, who beat the Yankees in July when he gave up two runs in seven innings.

“I’m not going to get intimidated by anybody,” Lackey said.

Lackey is a bulldog type, he gives innings when he’s healthy, but he’s missed considerable time in each of the past two seasons. That will give the Mets pause as they were bitten all year by injuries. It would just be the franchise’s luck to sign him and have him go down.

Lackey leads a relatively thin free-agent market that includes Erik Bedard, Jon Garland, Andy Pettitte, Jose Contreras, Rich Harden, Jason Marquis, Joel Pineiro and Randy Wolf.

There are some good names, but nobody outside of Lackey who could be called a No. 1.

Sep 15

Pitching issues should determine Delgado’s fate with Mets.

Carlos Delgado had arguably of the best offensive seasons in Met history last year, with much of the production coming in the second half. It is tempting to look at the numbers and hope he can do it again.

I wouldn’t underestimate Delgado, and wouldn’t be shocked, but I would have to be conservative on this one. At his age, his injury history, and this year, if pushed I would bet against such a comeback.

The Mets can bring Delgado back at any time because the rosters have expanded, but they haven’t. Not even for a token PH appearance. I don’t see it happening based by the playing time Daniel Murphy is getting.

The Mets are hoping with maturity and increased knowledge of National League pitchers, Murphy will be able to increase his home run and RBI numbers, which would preclude the need for Delgado. Considering Murphy’s improvement after a slow start, it is not an unreasonable assumption.

Clearly, a healthy Delgado would be a better choice for a team with pennant aspirations, but considering their myriad of issues and needs, the Mets have to realistically evaluate whether they can even be a contender next season. And if not, what’s the point of having him around, even for $10 million?

They definitely can’t think of themselves as a contender, even with a healthy Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes with the current state of their pitching. OK, Johan Santana is likely to be fine, maybe so will Oliver Perez. However, Perez, Mike Pelfrey and John Maine are all serious questions. Given that, the Mets need to add two, maybe three quality starters.

Should they even be so bold to go after the Cubs Carlos Zambrano, who reportedly will be shopped this winter, that might not be enough. Zambrano comes with his own baggage, including a $50 million contract and two trips to the disabled list this summer. He’s no given, either.

The best FA pitcher is John Lackey, but he also has an injury history. The rest of the FA list includes Rich Harden, Randy Wolf, Jarrod Washburn, Jason Marquis and Joel Pineiro. You can also add Pedro Martinez, Doug Davis, Jon Garland, John Smoltz, Brad Penny, Erik Bedard, Ben Sheets.

The Mets had their chances at Harden, Wolf, Marquis and Pineiro, but either weren’t willing to pay enough in talent or dollars. Will they go down that path again?

The passed on re-signing Martinez. Smoltz, Bedard and Sheets have their own injury histories. Penny might be intriguing, but the Mets also passed on him.

And, let’s face it, the Mets don’t have enough resources to trade for Roy Halladay.

When look at those factors, can you really see the Mets dramatically improving over the winter?

Probably not, so why invest in Delgado? Murphy will do for another year until Ike Davis is ready.

It is better to get younger, save a little money, and yes, maybe even improve the clubhouse chemistry.

Aug 04

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #106; Pitcher’s duel.

We start off tonight with disturbing news, that Jose Reyes returned to New York to be re-examined by doctors.

This isn’t just a tight calf anymore. Hell, it hasn’t been a tight calf for two months.

I wrote this several weeks ago and it bears repeating, but the Mets should consider shutting down Reyes for the remainder of the season.

If they full further out of the race, the only thing that could be accomplished by playing Reyes is to showcase him for an off-season trade.

Other than that, what could be gained?

The Mets are home tonight to start a two-game series with St. Louis. Joel Pineiro (9-9, 2.84), who shut out the Mets earlier this year on a two-hitter, goes against Johan Santana (12-8, 2.96). Santana is 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in his last three starts in Citi Field.

Lifetime, Pineiro is 3-0 with a 2.91 ERA in five starts against the Mets.

Here’s the line-up:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Gary Sheffield, LF
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Alex Cora, SS
Omir Santos, C
Johan Santana, LP

NOTEBOOK: Carlos Delgado is doing some light running. … Nelson Figueroa is available tonight in the bullpen.

Jun 24

About Last Night ….

All those good feelings harnessed with Monday’s victory have been washed away by the rain. Getting two hits against Joel Pineiro will do that to a team. For a team not getting consistently good pitching, the Mets can’t afford to waste a strong performance such as the one Livan Hernandez gave them last night.

Three-fourths of the core is gone, and the last one standing – David Wright – is hitting, but without power. Consistent run production is lacking and there’s little help on the horizon. Gary Sheffield hasn’t played in three days, and that they are relying on his aching 40-year-old legs doesn’t do much on the optimism meter.

It was Pineiro last night. He was stifling and the Mets did little to work the count. Not that it would have mattered anyway because he was usually ahead.

The Mets must now play for one run whenever they get the chance, and they don’t get many. Bunt, hit-and-run, steal, hit behind the runner, take the extra base, work the count. Now, more than ever, the must play fundamental offense because they don’t have the eraser that can wipe it all clean with one swing.

As well as they played Monday, they still could have lost. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them lose tonight and even tomorrow with Johan Santana, who hasn’t been a sure thing since the San Francisco game a half-dozen or so starts ago.

The Mets have been extremely fortunate to be only 2.5 games behind the Phillies with how they have played this month. They could easily be seven or eight behind if the Phillies could win at home.

I get this gnawing feeling about the Mets, the same one I got the last two years, that they have this warped belief they can turn it on at will once they get all their parts back. It doesn’t work that way.

These are the Mets’ cards and they have to play them. They have to play as if there’s no help coming, because, after all, we don’t know if there is.