May 09

May 9.10: Chat Room, Game #31 vs. Giants: Mother’s Day edition.

Happy Mother’s Day all. Greetings to all moms. Enjoy your day.

The Mets go for the sweep today of the Giants, which would be their tenth straight win at Citi Field. It will be Oliver Perez against Tim Lincecum, perhaps the game’s best pitcher.

After a dismal start, the Mets are only a game out of first place causing me to wonder where they might be if Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur were hitting at all.

Bay has been getting better at-bats since the team returned home and has driven in first-inning runs in the last two games. Francoeur, after a hot streak to open the season, hasn’t been the same since the 20-inning game in St. Louis.

Francoeur admits to lunging and swinging at pitches outside the zone. He doesn’t have the same patience he had at the start of the season.

Things won’t get easier today against Lincecum.

Luis Castillo is out of the lineup with a bruised left heel and will be replaced by Alex Cora. Rod Barajas returns behind the plate.

Barajas made an interesting comment the other day about Perez, saying he fights himself too much and too quickly when things start to go against him. Perez is the kind of guy who needs a lot of stroking.

Here’s the lineup for the 17-13 Mets behind Perez:

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

May 08

May 8.10: Chat Room, Game #30 vs. Giants: Santana goes; Pelfrey still tight.

The weather is breaking up and the Mets and Giants should be set to go on time this afternoon at Citi Field.

Johan Santana, coming off his implosion last Sunday in Philadelphia, will start for the Mets. You know Santana will come out amped after Philly. He can’t be happy stewing for a week after a nine-run inning.

Having Santana going after last night has to make the Mets feel good about winning this series.

What a remarkable game last night was, one of the best in years. It had drama, excitement, great pitching, clutch hitting and leather flashing defense.

Lost in the buzz of the Rod Barajas’ game-winning homer – he and Ike Davis each hit two – and Davis’ catch over the dugout railing was the job of Mike Pelfrey, who pitched into the eighth inning. The Giants had chances to break open the game but Pelfrey neutralized most threats.

For the second straight game, Pelfrey said he still experienced tightness in his shoulder, but would start Wednesday against Washington.

I proposed the question whether the Mets pushed the envelope with Pelfrey. As well as Pelfrey pitched last night, that he still has tightness is not a good sign.

Sitting out today’s game is Barajas, who has a bruised left hand on a catcher’s interference play when Eli Whiteside swung at a pitchout.

Prior to the game, Giants catcher Bengie Molina told SNY he wanted to come to the Mets. He was upset because the Mets wouldn’t increase their one-year, $5-million offer, but signed a one-year contract for $500,000 to stay with the Giants.

If he really wanted to play for the Mets, he’d be here. However, the Mets’ catching has been superb this year with Barajas leading the team in homers.

Here’s today’s line-up for the 16-13 Mets behind Santana:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Henry Blanco, C
Johan Santana, LP

May 07

May 7.10: Chat Room, Game #29 vs. Giants: Limping home.

For the offensively challenged Mets, the Giants aren’t the team they’d like to see this weekend at Citi Field. Not with their pitching anyway.

Jonathan Sanchez against Mike Pelfrey tonight figures to be significant to the Mets on several levels, beginning with questions about the durability of the latter’s shoulder.

Pelfrey complained of tightness after being shelled last Saturday in Philadelphia, but he was cleared after a MRI and light bullpen session Wednesday.

The Mets will miss Matt Cain and Barry Zito this weekend, but will get Tim Lincecum Sunday.
The 17-10 Giants are fresh off a sweep of the Florida Marlins in which their rotation’s ERA was a sparkling 2.57 during the series.

The Mets limp home off a 2-4 road trip a 9-1 homestand. During that homestand Mets pitchers registered a 1.83 ERA and struck out 62-59 innings.

A major storyline during the last homestand was Jerry Manuel juggling the batting order by dropping Jose Reyes to third ahead of Jason Bay.

Despite dismal showings by both Reyes and Bay in Philadelphia and Cincinnati, Manuel will keep that line-up. Bay is hitless in his last 12 at-bats and has one homer and nine RBI on the season.

Here’s the line-up behind Pelfrey:

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

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