May 06

May 6.10: Return Reyes to the top.

It’s time for Jerry Manuel to call in the dogs on his batting order experiment and return Jose Reyes from third to leading off.

In theory, the switch was to provide Jason Bay with more fastballs with Reyes on base as a steal threat. In reality, neither is hitting and it is time to return to the basics … and that begins with Reyes.

Reyes is out of his element in the three hole and you can see that in every swing-out-of-his shoes at-bat. Reyes has become the pop-up king. It is clear he has adjusted his game mentally and is trying to lift everything.

Personally, I think when they go back Reyes will be so entrenched in bad habits that he’ll be totally lose.

As for Bay, he’s not hitting anything, fastballs included.

“I’ve been seeing more fastballs because I can’t hit them,’’ said Bay, who hit in nine straight then has fallen into a funk going hitless in his last 15 at-bats and is batting just .238 on the season and on pace to strike out 191 times.

The Mets knew when they signed him that he’d be streaky, so maybe he’ll figure it out. Then again, maybe he won’t and will have the kind of power year David Wright had last season. Only thing, Wright made up for it with average and getting on base.

For the past five seasons we’ve been told Reyes has the potential to be this generation’s Rickey Henderson. He, quite simply, has all the tools to be the game’s premier leadoff hitter.

Angel Pagan, however, does not. So return to the fundamentals and put Reyes back into the spot where he has the best chance to perform.

A No. 2 needs to be patient, he needs to exercise bat control and put the ball in play. Hitting second snapped Wright out of slumps before and it might be time to think the same might work for Bay. And, if Reyes snaps out of it, Bay should be seeing those fastballs Manuel promised. If nothing else, it will remove what has been a consistent out in the middle of the order.

Wright is the team’s best hitter in Carlos Beltran’s absence and should go back to hitting third.

Quite honestly, if you tinker with Bay hitting second – and I doubt they will – that leaves a hole at No. 4. If not there are four options: Jeff Francoeur, who has been spotty lately; Ike Davis, who might have the best plate presence in the line-up and Rod Barajas, who is tied with Wright for the team lead in homers.

As Reyes played out of his game moving to third, I’d be wary of moving Davis to clean-up for fear of picking up bad habits.

I’d try Francoeur – who has hit there before – and have Davis bat fifth followed by Barajas. Then I’d go with Pagan and Luis Castillo, which in theory would bunch the speed together and consequently help Bay.

Whatever Manuel does, something needs to be done because this line-up isn’t clicking. Manuel made the initial move out of desperate measures. Well, these are also desperate measures.

May 05

May 5.10: Chat Room, Game #28 at Reds: Getaway day and resting Pelfrey.

The Mets behind Jon Niese will attempt to win the rubber game of their series at Cincinnati this afternoon and go home 3-3 on the road trip. A let down of sorts after their 9-1 homestand, but considering what happened in Philly, I’ll take it.

Niese is coming off a superb start last Friday in Philadelphia, prompting one anonymous Phillie to say he’s better than any pitcher the Phillies have “not named Halladay.”

To me, the key story of the day is how the Mets are handling Mike Pelfrey’s tight shoulder. Pelfrey was hammered in his last start, and afterward complained of stiffness in his shoulder. An MRI Monday was negative, but even so the Mets bagged his normal throw day yesterday and today he had a light abbreviated bullpen session.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen said the decision to cancel his normal bullpen was to not force the issue, but also said Pelfrey is good to go this weekend against San Francisco.

I say, why bother?

There’s reason enough to be concerned so shouldn’t the prudent thing be to have him skip his start to be sure he’s sound. We’re talking a game in May. Isn’t it better to miss one game now rather than four or five later should he go on the disabled list for a prolonged time?

When it comes to a pitcher’s arm, I always anticipate the worse and believe it is better to be cautious now rather than regretful later. They don’t need Pelfrey as much this weekend as they do later this season.

R.A. Dickey is pitching well for Triple-A Buffalo and could be brought up for an emergency start.

Here’s today’s line-up for the Mets:

Angel Pagan, CF
Alex Cora, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Gary Matthews, RF
Henry Blanco, C
Jon Niese, LP

May 04

May 4.10: Chat Room, Game #27 at Reds: Looking for a bat.

The Mets have gone from streaking to sputtering in a matter of days, losing three straight after winning eight in a row. When the Mets speak of consistency, this isn’t what they had in mind.

They’ll try to right themselves tonight in Cincinnati against Bronson Arroyo, who has beaten them in his last four starts. John Maine, coming off a good start against the Dodgers, will go for the Mets. Maine (1-1, 7.15) is 0-3 with a 9.88 ERA in three career starts against the Reds. As far as trends go, this is not a good one.

The Mets’ immediate problem is offense. They have none. They were 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position last night, and left runners at least on second in the sixth, seventh and 11th innings. Nobody is consistently hitting with power.

Here’s the line-up for the Mets (14-12) behind Maine:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
John Maine, RHP

NOTE: I’ve got my class tonight and won’t be back until 9. See you then.

May 04

May 4.10: Seeing is believing.

This falls under the `I’ll believe it when I see it’ category. Carlos Beltran is taking soft toss BP in Port St. Lucie and is hopeful of running, then resuming baseball activities later this week. “It all begins with running,” Beltran told reporters in Florida. There is no timetable for Beltran’s return until he begins running. Until then, everything is merely wishful thinking.

I thought of Beltran last night while watching the Mets’ offense sputter in losing to the Reds. Oliver Perez did his job, and so did the bullpen, but the game was lost at the plate. The Mets were cooked the last two games in Philadelphia, but last night was a winnable game, and losses like that ultimately come back to haunt a team.

Last night also reinforced the streaky nature of this team. It is capable of winning seven straight one week and going on a losing streak the next. As evidenced by their record, the Mets are barely a win-one, lose-one type of team.

Save for a few games, the offense has been inconsistent all season, and Beltran’s absence is a big part of the reason.

Losing Beltran forced Jerry Manuel to juggle his line-up by moving Jose Reyes to third. The problem is Reyes is not a No. 3 hitter and it has weakened the leadoff position. Reyes is not playing his normal game, two hits last night notwithstanding. Nor is his replacement, Angel Pagan, a leadoff hitter.

May 03

May 3.10: Chat Room, Game #26 at Reds: Perez needs to stop slide.

After their weekend in Philadelphia in which they were ripped the last two games, the Mets find themselves in position of needing to again right their ship.

As quickly as they won nine of ten they can lose the same, especially if they don’t get pitching. So, once again, it is time to say Oliver Perez needs to earn his money.

Maybe not all $36 million, but at least one game’s worth.

The Mets’ starting pitching, so good during the last homestand that is fast becoming a memory, has been poor in three of its last five games, beginning with Perez’s start last Tuesday against Los Angeles when he gave up three runs in 3 2/3 innings.

Manager Jerry Manuel gave Perez the benefit of doubt after that start, saying the cold and windy conditions made it hard to grip the ball. That won’t be a problem tonight in Cincinnati.

Manuel said Perez would stay in the rotation for now, however, he suggested he would keep his options open, and if the uncertain lefthander should continue to falter how impressed he has been with Hisanori Takahashi.

Here’s the line-up behind Perez tonight:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
Oliver Perez, LP