Aug 02

Mets Chat Room; holding off the Braves

Technically, the Mets could run the table this week and be back in the race before they return home. There is also enough time left where they could pick up a game a week and be there in the end.

Game #106 at Braves

That’s all possible, but the Mets have given us no indication either scenario will happen. They haven’t played well enough on the road to think such a hot streak is in the cards. They also haven’t played consistently enough to give reason to believe the methodical way would work, either.

The Mets, losers of 12 of 17 games since the All-Star break, have shown no inclination of turning things around. They have Johan Santana (8-5, 3.11) hoping to rebound against a seven-run outing in his last start against St. Louis.

That game came on the heels of a stretch in which he went 3-0 with a 0.58 ERA.

Santana has pitched well in eight starts against the Braves since joining the Mets – a sparkling 1.79 ERA – but is a dismal 2-4 because of a lack of run support, getting two or fewer runs in each game.

The Mets’ struggles started prior to the All-Star break as they have lost 15 of 21 games, including two of three to the Braves at Citi Field. They saved the worse for Sunday when they were pummeled, 14-1, by Arizona (they have lost five of six to the Diamondbacks in the last two weeks).

“It definitely hurts your pride a little bit when you perform in that manner,’’ manager Jerry Manuel said. “We didn’t pitch, we didn’t hit, we didn’t play defense.’’

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.

Jul 17

Mets Chat Room; paging the offense.

Game #91 at Giants

No question, Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito had a lot to do with it, but the Mets’ offense has been in a funk before coming to San Francisco.

The Mets, on a 1-5 slide, have scored just six runs in that span and hit a composite .222. They’ve been shut out three times, including the first two games of this series.

It won’t get any easier tonight against Matt Cain. They will be trying to avoid being shut out in three straight games for the first time since July 25-27, 1992.

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May 23

May 23.10: Maine admits to arm problems; Manuel vindicated.

Is it lying or semantics?

Pitching coach Dan Warthen called John Maine a “habitual liar,’’ two words that could destroy most any working relationship. It remains to be seen whether it will ruin this one, even though Warthen and manager Jerry Manuel have been vindicated for pulling Maine after five pitches last week in Washington.

Warthen’s intent was innocent enough although his choice of words was poor. Warthen meant it in that Maine never admits to his arm feeling poorly.

Even now, when Maine finally admitted something is not right with his shoulder he couched his words.

“There’s a little bit of pain, but what pitcher doesn’t have pain?’’ Maine said. “It’s the nature of pitching. It wasn’t going to stop me from going out there every five days.’’

But, it isn’t pain as much as it is weakness or fatigue in the shoulder.

“There was a little bit of weakness, not that much,’’ Maine said. “I guess they want to get to the bottom of it. What’s the problem, you know? What’s going on back there?

“Something has got to be found, but if everything comes back good, then I’ll deal with it and pitch, if I have to.’’

In the interim, the Mets must improvise.

The current thinking is to use Raul Valdes, who replaced Maine after his five pitch-outing, against the Phillies Tuesday night, followed Hisanori Takahashi and Mike Pelfrey. The thinking of Valdes over R.A. Dickey is because of the left-handed power in the Phillies’ line-up.

The next time Maine’s turn in the rotation would be is a week from today. But, the Mets will jump off that bridge when they get to it.

May 19

May 19.10: What’s wrong with Wright?/Adding tonight’s lineup.

Pedro Martinez once told me one of his greatest weapons as a pitcher is the fear he instilled in the batter’s mind about being hit.

“If the batter is afraid of being hit, then I can pitch him any way I want,’’ Martinez said.

That’s the way it seems these days for David Wright even though he will never admit it. That’s all right, because what the mouth won’t say body language does, and there have been numerous times when Wright bails out.

We see him more turning away from the inside fastball rather than turning on it and ripping it to left. Once a pitcher knows he has the inside half of the plate, there’s no reason to go to the outside.

The Matt Cain beaning last season has had a residual effect of Wright, and it mostly is mental, which leads to bad physical habits.

I’ve seen Wright pull off pitches he used to hammer, and I see him get too anxious when he does get a ball on the outside half and middle. His swing is long with a noticeable uppercut.

Statistically, Wright has made enough contact to be on a pace to hit 32 homers and drive in 105 runs. He’s also on pace to strike out 223 times and hit for a .262, some 43 points below his career average.

Those aren’t the results Wright is seeking.

“If you don’t see the results a lot, you start pressing a little bit,’’ Wright said last night after his three strikeout game in Atlanta. “It’s tough when somebody is out there playing as poorly as I am right now, costing us both offensively and defensively.’’

Wright was having an off-year in 2009 even before the beaning, which some of it being written off as adjusting to the new stadium and him being on an island in the line-up. There was no Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado or Jose Reyes for much of this year. There’s no Beltran this year, Jason Bay has done nothing to protect Wright and Reyes hasn’t been on his game. The situations are very similar, as are the results.

Wright called baseball a “humbling” game and right now the man is humbled.

It all boils down to this, that regardless of the psychological and statistical theories, if Wright is the player the Mets and he believes himself to be, things have to dramatically change. These reasons, or excuses, for him not hitting must be pushed aside.

It could start with something small, like hitting a sacrifice fly instead of striking out.

Here’s tonight’s line-up”

Jose Reyes, SS
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jason Bay, LF
Ike Davis, 1B
Angel Pagan, CF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Fernando Tatis, 3B
Henry Blanco, C
RA Dickey, RP