Sep 08

Mets Have Hitting Issues

The Mets had moments this season when they clicked offensively. During those times they worked the count, went the opposite way and were disciplined at the plate. They never did hit with reliable power, but the patient approach and manufacturing runs is the best way to go anyway.

Then that all stopped. Maybe the hitters put too much pressure on themselves when the pitching faltered. Who knows?

They are sliding back into bad habits as the season winds down. After a blistering first half, David Wright is not the same hitter and is swinging with an uppercut. Lucas Duda is a lost cause at times and pitchers can get out Ike Davis working him away. Let’s not even talk about Jason Bay and Andres Torres. Daniel Murphy just doesn’t hit with power.

As much as the Mets need a right-handed outfield bat with pop, currently there doesn’t seem to be the resources to spend on a name player considering how they need to overhaul the bullpen and possibly add a starter.

Sep 06

Can The Mets Be Next Year’s Orioles?

The Mets are off today giving us other things to think about, such as the Giants’ secondary and inability to put together a running game. Also a chance to lament about another September of non-meaningful games for the Mets.

The Mets are mired in fourth place, thinking about how a hot run could have them chasing .500, which would be a successful season. Personally, I’d rather have the collapses of 2007 and 2008 than what they are today. At least they were in a pennant race, and if you’re a baseball fan, that’s all you can ask for from your team.

Since 1997, when Orioles manager Davey Johnson was named manager of the year and fired the same day by Peter Angelos, the franchise that long symbolized baseball excellence had hit the skids.

The Orioles showed some improvement last year, but were still projected to finish last in the AL East. But the Orioles have some power, their bullpen has pitched well and they took an impressive 24-7 record in one-run games. That record, despite a negative run differential, is the probably the single most significant stat to explain why the Orioles are in a pennant race.

Conversely, the Mets are 17-18 in one-run games, symbolic of a team with sporadic power and an inconsistent bullpen.

Can the Mets improve enough from within to be a contender like the Orioles?

Baltimore has more power, where the Mets’ anticipated power from David Wright – he’s fallen way for of expectations in that area- Jason Bay and Lucas Duda hasn’t been there. Maybe Wright and Duda will produce next year to bring the Mets’ power numbers up.

Building a bullpen is a tricky proposition and should Sandy Alderson accomplish that objective, perhaps Citi Field will be alive as Camden Yards will be tonight. It could be if the Mets split their losses in one-run games. Add nine wins and subtract nine losses and the Mets are right there in wild-card contention.

Split those losses in one-run games and the Mets are playing meaningful baseball in September.

 

 

 

Sep 03

Mets Should Take Notice Of Marlins Heading Into Offseason

For those of you who think stocking up on big ticket free agents should be cognizant of what happened in Miami if they believe that is the way to go in building a team. A look at the Red Sox would do them good, too.

It’s not about spending the money, but spending it wisely. The Marlins, who went crazy with Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes, were swept this weekend by the Mets and are in last place in the NL East. This isn’t to say the Mets’ method of not spending and hoping for the best isn’t the best answer, either.

It’s about spending wisely and being aware of chemistry.

When you go nuts and start casting off pieces in July, you know you screwed up in building your team.

When you look at what did in the Mets this season, it is the same flaws they had going in, and that was the bullpen and starting pitching depth. Yes, there was that stretch they just came out of when they didn’t score any runs, but by that time their season was over.

Building a bullpen is about finding the right role pieces and being aware of chemistry. Sandy Alderson’s pen rebuilding effort was a complete bust, and also revealing is that Bobby Parnell continues to be non-descript.

Chris Young was good yesterday, but he’s not the answer as the fifth starter. And I won’t insult you by reading anything into Jason Bay’s slam. The Mets should either release him or play him in a platoon with Lucas Duda. As far as Young goes, the Mets will probably bring him back because of, 1) concerns about Johan Santana’s durability, 2) not knowing what Matt Harvey will give them over a full season, 3) not having a ready answer of who will eat Mike Pelfrey’s innings, and 4) hot having any guarantees from the minor league system.

The Mets must look at the availability of FA starters capable of eating innings, and I’ll be examining their options as the month progresses.

I hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend, made better by the sweep of the Marlins.

 

Aug 30

Gotta Like Terry Collins On Third Place Talk

OK, the Mets can move into third place with a victory this afternoon in Philadelphia. Matt Harvey’s strong performance last night, aided by a Lucas Duda homer, marked the Mets’ fourth victory in a row to give the team a pulse after a lifeless July and August.

Third place?

Big deal, says Terry Collins.

Collins wants .500, which would be difficult, but not impossible being eight games under with 31 to play. It could be done.

“You know, it’s not a goal. I don’t know where that’s coming from,” Collins said about third place. “It’s not a goal. The goal is to play as good as we can for as long as we can. For me, our goal should be to try to get back to .500. That should be our goal. Wherever that puts us at the end of the year, it puts us at the end of the year.

“But, believe me, we are not playing for third place. We’re trying to win as many games as we can. … I don’t want these guys coming in here every day looking at the box score, seeing who is in fourth. That does nothing for me.”

Play as good as they can for as long as they can. At one time, the Mets were eight games over .500. Imagine where the can be had they simply played .500 the last two months. It could have been a fun summer.

The Mets have holes, but how they played in the first half is indicative how what they can do with limited talent if they just play the game the right way.

Collins knows teams will only reach the next level if they play consistently hard and are fundamentally sound. There were too many times over the past two months when the Mets mentally took off too many plays.

It’s a long season, sure. Handling the grind is what defines a playoff caliber team. Those that concentrate and don’t take plays offs are the ones who persevere over the long haul.

I know this next comment is getting off the track a bit, but the long haul is why I hate interleague play and the unbalanced schedule so much. It used to be every team ran the same course, played the same teams, and there was a purity in determining the best over 162 games.

That’s not the case these days with some teams playing easier schedules based on their interleague schedule. The purity of the schedule, plus the limited playoff field is what long separated baseball from the other sports.

Aug 29

A Message To Josh Thole

If not a breakout season, 2012 was supposed to be a season where catcher Josh Thole would take it to another level, both defensively and as a hitter. That hasn’t been the case, and one hopes Thole will receive the message manager Terry Collins is sending him tonight.

THOLE: Sitting tonight vs. righty.

Originally, right-handed hitting Kelly Shoppach – who homered last night – was to start against left Cole Hamels. However, when Hamels was scratched this afternoon because of a stomach ailment and replaced by right-handed call-up Tyler Cloyd, Collins stuck with Shoppach instead of going to Thole.

Maybe Collins is simply rewarding Shoppach, but somewhere in there must be a message the Mets aren’t satisfied with what Thole is giving them. Production from behind the plate is needed, but it isn’t to the dire point where the Mets will move away from Thole, so he should report to spring training as the starter, but the patience in him is getting shorter.

Here’s tonight’s line-up:

Ruben Tejada, ss

Daniel Murphy, 2b

David Wright, 3b

Ike Davis, 1b

Lucas Duda, lf

Scott Hairston, cf

Mike Baxter, rf

Kelly Shoppach, c

Matt Harvey, rhp

INTERESTING NOTE: Scott Hairston has already cleared waivers so there are contenders seeking an outfield bat who are scouting the Mets. Hairston is is center tonight, which makes me wonder if the Mets are showcasing his versatility.

Hairston, by the way, has been productive off the bench and is somebody the Mets should bring back.