Mar 30

Mets’ Spring Training Booms And Busts

It is the same in every spring training camp with winners and losers. Booms and busts. With camp ending today, the Mets had their share of both.

THE WINNERS

Jon Niese: With Johan Santana a question going in, Niese entered camp No. 1 in the rotation and pitched deserving of that title. Not surprisingly, he was named Opening Day starter. With Santana gone for the year, he’s the de facto ace, at least until Matt Harvey takes over.

NIESE: A good spring.

NIESE: A good spring.

Matt Harvey: He took some lumps, but was far more good than bad. Most importantly, he didn’t show any signs of being overwhelmed. With Shaun Marcum hurting, Harvey is now No. 2.

Zack Wheeler: He strained an oblique muscle, but when he pitched he showed a glimpse of things to come. Wheeler was never going to make the Opening Day roster, but should be in Flushing soon enough.

Jeremy Hefner: Reported as a contender for the Triple-A rotation, but with Santana’s injury is now scheduled to be the No. 4 starter.

Jordany Valdespin: Here’s a guy who wasn’t in the Mets’ plans, but took advantage of injuries to Daniel Murphy and Kirk Nieuwenhuis to earn a spot on the roster. That is, unless something dramatic happens today.

Marlon Byrd: He was a spring training pick-up who not only won a spot on the roster, but in the Opening Day lineup.

Travis d’Arnaud: He was always going to open the season in the minors, but stayed healthy and opened a lot of eyes. He’ll be up before the All-Star break. The pitchers like throwing to him.

Lucas Duda: Surprised, aren’t you? Duda had a miserable start with an extraordinary number of strikeouts, but finished strong to give him confidence going into the season.

LOSERS

Johan Santana: It was a rocky spring for Santana, who responded in anger at criticism from GM Sandy Alderson about not being in shape by throwing off the mound ahead of schedule. He never got on the mound again and it is possible he never will.

Shaun Marcum: He didn’t endear himself to the Mets by showing up to camp in poor shape and could open the season on the disabled list.

Frank Francisco: He has not responded from elbow surgery and will be on the disabled list. Francisco might not get his closer role back if Bobby Parnell doesn’t spit the bit.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis: He was penciled in as the leadoff hitter in center fielder, but missed most of camp with a bruised knee. Amazingly, because of the Mets’ dismal situation in the outfield, he still has a chance despite hitting less than .100.

Dillon Gee: He came to camp a health question, and while he says there are no complications from surgery to repair an artery in his shoulder, he had several rough starts. He had a good one toward the end, but wasn’t consistent, especially with his change-up.

Ruben Tejada: He hit better than expected last season, and didn’t hit at all this spring. In most camps, hitting less than .100 would be a ticket to the minors, but the Mets have little alternatives.

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.

May 22

May 22.10: Chat Room, Game #44 vs. Yankees: Pelfrey attempts to stop slide.

The beleaguered Mets – losers of eight of their last ten games – hope to get better tonight with Mike Pelfrey (5-1, 3.02) going against the Yankees.

Pelfrey is making his third start against the Yankees, against whom he is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 10 innings. In his last start, Pelfrey gave up two runs over a season-high 7 2/3 innings Monday at Atlanta, which snapped a five-game losing streak.

With questions throughout their rotation, Pelfrey has been the Mets’ most dependable starter, and his 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA in five home starts. Pelfrey attributes much of his success for falling out of love with the sinker. He said he was becoming predictable with the sinker.

“I would almost say I’ve changed from being a sinkerball guy to a four-seam guy,’’ Pelfrey said. “There are times when I’ll only use the sinker when I get in trouble. I’ve changed.’’

What hasn’t changed is the Mets’ myriad of pitching questions, beginning with John Maine, who will be examined by doctors Monday for discomfort and fatigue in his shoulder.

Maine pitched to one batter Thursday night at Washington before being removed. Angry for being taken out, Maine has finally admitted to discomfort, but stubborn as he is, said he didn’t think it was necessary to go on the DL.

Raul Valdes replaced Maine and pitched five strong innings. He was so effective, that Jerry Manuel has tentatively penciled him in over knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to start Tuesday against Philadelphia.

The Mets’ offense, save a 10-run explosion Thursday night, has been listless for much of May. It has been a brutal month for David Wright, who was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Wright has struck out 23 times since May 8.

Here’s tonight’s line-up behind Pelfrey:

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