May 27

Jon Niese Tries To Get It Right Against Yankees

The Mets did it right in how they honor the veterans this Memorial Day. If Major League Baseball doesn’t do it already – and I believe they might – all veterans should be allowed free admission to any regular season game they choose.

It is only a small way of saying thanks and showing respect for those who gave this country so much. Personally, I think any family who lost a member in a war should have tax-exempt status. They have already given more than their fair share.

NIESE: Tries to get it back tonight.

NIESE: Tries to get it back tonight.

But, that’s just me.

Growing up, Memorial Day meant parades, picnics and softball games. Today, I know it means a lot more.

Baseball is a Memorial Day tradition, especially the doubleheader. They don’t do them anymore because the owners want the two gates. However, on this day, and maybe also on July 4, I wish Major League Baseball would go back and honor not only the veterans, but all fans who have supported it for years, to give us back the traditional doubleheader.

So many of baseball’s great traditions have faded, from the uniqueness of the Opening Days in Cincinnati and Washington, to Sunday doubleheaders, to the diminishing of the All-Star Game and to interleague play.

Baseball has always been part of the fabric of our country – James Earl Jones’ Field of Dreams speech – and that includes the traditional holiday doubleheaders.

Just once, can’t the commissioner of this sport and its owners do something right for its fans and give us back the holiday doubleheader?

Of course, that wouldn’t work with Mets-Yankees, a gimmick that might be losing its steam. If both teams were competitive it could be different, but there are plenty of tickets available for the two Citi Field games against the Yankees.

The Mets won Sunday night to snap their third losing streak of the season of at least five games.

And, it is just May.

The Mets have Jon Niese and Matt Harvey going against the Yankees, which is their best. Niese is going through an awful stretch. The Opening Day starter and de facto ace with Johan Santana done, Niese won two of his first three starts, but it took him six starts before he won his third game.

Niese is on pace to pitch 186.1 innings, but for that workload he’ll go 10-17 with a 4.80 ERA.  Currently, hitters are batting .270 off him.

Harvey’s projected numbers are off the charts, but how long will it continue?

And, once he falters, who picks up the slack?

 

 

May 26

From One Miserable Week To Another For Mets

It was a rough week for your Mets and the upcoming week doesn’t figure to get any easier.

Whatever good feelings developed at Wrigley Field quickly evaporated when they returned home to be swept by Cincinnati. They followed that with losing their first two against the Braves, with once again Dillon Gee running into that one buzz saw inning that shredded him. They conclude their series at Citi Field with Atlanta today behind 0-5 Shaun Marcum on the mound.

No, he’s not one to inspire Matt Harvey-like confidence.

If there was a Game of the Week, it was Harvey’s no-decision Wednesday, in which they took him off the hook to keep him unbeaten.

The Met most in focus this week was Ike Davis, whose .148 average has him on the verge of being sent to Triple-A Las Vegas since before the Pittsburgh series. Davis can’t hit the high heat or low-and-slow breaking pitches. He’s lost at the plate and carried his funk out to the field.

Pitchers on this level give no quarter, and despite Davis’ proclamation he needs to learn to hit on this level, it is obvious this isn’t the place, not with quality arms against him and the cascading boos. That the Mets have waited this long is indication of their thin minor league system and lack of faith in those players down below.

The Mets escape the National League this week for the Subway Series, this time under the new format of two games each in Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are always a formidable obstacle for the Mets, but despite a bulk of their multi-million dollar talent on the disabled list, the Yankees are sizzling. It is sobering the Yankees’ minor leaguers and retreads are better than the Mets’ starters.

Jon Niese and Harvey start Monday and Tuesday, respectively, at Citi Field, where tickets – and plenty of them – are available. They can also be had at Yankee Stadium, an indication the interleague gimmick is cooling.

Interleague play has never appealed to me, but since it isn’t going away, this is a better Mets-Yankees format. Have the games dominate the week and be done with them. Four games are right while six is too many.

Everywhere he goes in his farewell tour Future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera visits with a selected group of fans and honored by the opposition. When the Yankees were in Cleveland, the home of Rock ‘n Roll, the Indians presented him a framed gold record of “Enter Sandman’’ his take-the-mound music as a gift. The Mets presented Chipper Jones with artwork of Shea Stadium.

The Mets will honor Rivera on Tuesday.

Noted for breaking bats with his fierce cutter, one of the best gift ideas I heard speculated was to presented him an autographed cracked bat from the opposition. It is such a novel idea.

I hope he gets one from David Wright. It is piling on, but I can’t help it, he won’t get one from Davis as that would mean making contact.

Yes, yes, that’s cruel. However, there is an element of truth to it, right?

The week ends in Miami for a series against the anonymous Marlins, whose lone reason for watching, Giancarlo Stanton, was injured when the teams last played.

Niese and Harvey are scheduled to go Saturday and Sunday.

Then comes June, but the good news is they can’t swoon any more than they already have.

Can they?

May 22

Matt Harvey Reveals What Little Else Mets Have

The headlines were basically the same no matter where you look: Today Is Matt Harvey Day.

Harvey, undeniably the most exciting thing to happen to the Mets this season, starts Wednesday against Cincinnati. In games following his start, the Mets are 0-9.

HARVEY: Goes against Reds.

HARVEY: Goes against Reds.

Harvey has started nine games and won five with four no-decisions. Even in those games he was brilliant. Yes, when Harvey starts the Mets have a very good chance of winning. On those days, the Mets are major league quality.

That’s a good thing, but it comes with a flip side, and that’s outside of him, David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Bobby Parnell, there’s little substance on this team. Harvey’s success merely illustrates how little the Mets have on the major league level, and their refusal to demote Ike Davis shows how little faith they have in their minor league players.

Harvey is a major leaguer both in talent and demeanor, surrounded by players who mostly are not.

John Buck has his moments, as does Marlon Byrd, but seriously, you’re talking about two players who might not be here next year. Hey, they might be dealt at the July 31 deadline.

Besides Harvey, who can start on anybody’s staff, Wright and maybe Murphy – depending on the team – can be starters elsewhere.

The Mets began the season with a core they hoped to build around and contend with for a decade. Harvey and Jon Niese in the rotation; Davis, Wright and Ruben Tejada in the infield; Lucas Duda in the outfield, and Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate.

However, Tuesday night showed Niese to be unreliable. He is 3-5 with a 4.80 in ten starts. By definition, he has six quality starts, however, by sight he’s not been quality at all. Certainly, not one you would build a team around. He recovered Tuesday to give the Mets a chance to rally if they had any kind of offense. However, as has often been the case with Niese, one bad inning did him in, and it was the first when with no one on base and two outs, he walked three and fell behind 3-0.

Davis had an opportunity to get the Mets back in the game, but struck out. What can you say about Davis that hasn’t already been said, other than he’ll be on the next flight to Las Vegas?

Sandy Alderson, speaking during the SNY broadcast, said he sees last year’s second half when he watches Davis. Eventually, he concluded: “It may be he is better off going to Las Vegas for some period of time. But at this point we’re going to live with Ike for a little longer.’’

“Going to live with.’’ That’s some endorsement, isn’t it?

Duda’s on-base percentage has improved, but has little run-production – only 14 RBI – despite eight homers. One could conclude Buck drove in many of those potential RBI hitting ahead of him, but in reality Duda is not a good situational hitter.

Tejada has fallen off both at the plate and in the field, and you realize he’ll never be close to being what a healthy Jose Reyes was at one time.

Murphy is reliable, but not a star. He’s greatly improved at second base, but the Mets will always be looking for somebody faster and more athletic at that position. Murphy is a piece they could dangle in front of a contender in a couple of months.

That’s about the time d’Arnaud could be under consideration to being promoted. For now, his broken foot will be in a cast for another two weeks and he’ll begin rehab.

Parnell has been one of the few pleasant surprises, showing he can be a closer. Even if Frank Francisco’s elbow improves to where he’ll come off the disabled list, he won’t get the closer job back. We might not see him at all this season, which means never again in a Mets uniform.

The Mets host the All-Star game in less than two months. By that time, they could be 20 games under .500 and their fall complete before the dog days of summer.

But, enough of that for now. Today is Matt Harvey Day and there’s a reason to watch.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

May 22

Mets’ Offense Flat Again In 4-0 Loss To Reds

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The Cincinnati Reds (25-18) shutout the New York Mets (17-25) by the score of 4-0 tonight at a sparsely crowded Citi Field.

Left-hander Jon Niese started for the Mets and and after getting the first two outs in the first inning he allowed a hit and a pair of walks to load the bases. Niese had a chance to come out of the inning unscathed and induced a hard grounder to third for what should have been the third out. However, David Wright committed his fourth error of the season as the ball went under his glove and through his legs allowing two runs to score. Niese was rattled after that and allowed another run to score before finally getting the third out to put the Reds up 3-0. All of the runs were unearned.

Niese threw 48 pitches in that wild first inning and it appeared he was heading for an early shower. But to his credit he gutted out five scoreless innings after that and wound up giving the Mets a very solid effort allowing just five hits and three walks in six innings while striking out seven. Niese took the loss, but saw his ERA improve to 4.80 for the season.

The Reds score their fourth and final run in the ninth when Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco greeted Collin McHugh with a home run to leadoff the inning.

Offensively, the Mets had nothing but blanks… Nothing but the same sorry, pitiful offense that has plagued the team all season. Reds starter Mike Leake hurled seven scoreless innings and allowed the Mets’ only three hits of the game – one each by Lucas Duda, John Buck and Daniel Murphy.

It’s getting pretty hard to watch this team and I thought Sandy Alderson would address that while he visited the with gary Cohen and Ron Darling in the third inning, but he was at a loss for words. He said he was going to continue to hang in there with Ike Davis a little longer, which is the last thing anyone of us wanted to hear. Davis batted seventh and went 0-for-three tonight and saw his batting average fall to .149 for the season. Pathetic.

The Mets will wrap up the series tomorrow afternoon at 1:10 PM when right-hander Matt Harvey (5-0, 1.55 ERA) takes on Mat Latos (4-0, 2.91 ERA) and tries to avoid the sweep.

May 21

Mets Lose Series Opener To Reds 4-3

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For a while, it looked like Terry Collin’s weird lineup choice going into the evening would actually work when Marlon Byrd ripped a three-run home run in the bottom of third. Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, the Mets would fail to score again the rest of the night and could not stage a comeback after Jay Bruce hit a go-ahead home run off Shaun Marcum in the sixth. To be fair to Marcum, he handled the Reds lineup pretty decently considering all things. His tough inning was in the first, where he allowed three runs off RBI hits from Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce. He did strike out seven over six innings, and did retire ten straight at one point in the ball game.

Ike sad

The issues of the night were compounded, however, by some bad work on the field from Ike Davis – who was really struggling in every aspect of the game tonight. Davis was called for an interference error in the first that moved Votto up a base into scoring position. In addition to that, he grounded out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first when he had a chance to redeem himself. Davis entered the game in a 1-for-30 slump and finished 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He was actually double switched out in the sixth inning.

The Mets never really showed much life after the three-run home run, allowing opposing starter Johnny Cueto to retire the last eight batters he faced. Latroy Hawkins did some dancing out of trouble in the seventh and shared some words with HP Umpire Tom Hallion, who incorrectly awarded a HBP to Brandon Phillips. Terry Collins left the dugout to argue three times over the game, and was ejected alongside Hawkins.

The Mets continue their series at 7:10 tomorrow when Jon Niese takes the mound for the Amazins’ against Mike Leake.