May 09

Mets Go For The Throat; Dillon Gee Gets Crack

The Mets have won 17 games this young season, ten of the come-from-behind variety and seven by one run. They have won six series, sweeping two. They go for the sweep today in Philadelphia.

Doing so will represent another step in their development. Contending teams close out games and close out series. Winning a series winning two of three is great, but sweeping is better.

Sweeping represents a sense of dominance and reinforces confidence. I know what you’re thinking; I’m being greedy. Maybe so, but doesn’t that signify a new attitude about this team?

Today it’s Dillon Gee going, and twice now Terry Collins let him pitch out of trouble when he was on the ropes. That demonstrates confidence, something you rarely saw Jerry Manuel give his pitchers.

I mention that not to rip Manuel as that would be piling on. I do say it to show the difference in attitude and culture between Manuel and Collins.

Manuel came on strong at first, taking out Jose Reyes in his first game. He then regressed, taking an unequal approach in dealing with players and afraid to be forceful with the deadwood. Then again, in all fairness, that message – in dealing with Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo – came from up top.

Things are different now. The Mets are infusing themselves with young, homegrown talent. You don’t often see guys not running out ground balls. There are occasional fundamental lapses, but they aren’t as frequent. That explains in part the winning.

The Mets haven’t hit this well with two outs in as long as I can remember. The defense from early questions – Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda and Josh Thole – is better than anticipated, as is the starting pitching.

Something else the Mets have done, and this is another mark of a contender, is winning within the division and beating teams when they are done. They’ve won two series from the struggling Phillies, swept the Braves when they limped out of spring training without Chipper Jones, and swept the Marlins during their slow start.

Things have changed with the 2012, and that includes the expectations. Have yours changed?

 

May 08

Mets, May 8, At Philadelphia

Last night’s hero, Jordany Valdespin, is rewarded with a start tonight at shortstop. Here’s who is the lineup with him:

Andres Torres, cf
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, lf
David Wright, 3b
Lucas Duda, rf
Daniel Murphy, 2b
Ike Davis, 1b
Jordany Valdespin, ss
Mike Nickeas, c
Miguel Batista, rhp

LINEUP COMMENTS: I like when Terry Collins rewards his bench players with starts after a good game. It keeps the bench focused. …

 

May 07

Mets May 7 Lineup At Philadelphia

The Mets are back in Philly tonight for the start of a three-game series. The Mets won two or three last time and the Phillies continue to struggle. While nobody expects the Phillies to flounder all season, the Mets have a chance to step on them when they are down.

The lineup:

Andres Torres, cf
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, lf
David Wright, 3b
Lucas Duda, rf
Daniel Murphy, 2b
Ike Davis, 1b
Justin Turner, ss
Josh Thole, c
Jon Niese, lhp

LINEUP COMMENTS: Justin Turner replaces the injured Ruben Tejada. I like Kirk Nieuwenhuis elevated in the batting order, but still want him returned to leadoff. I thought the team played with more spark with him leading off.

ON DECK: Tejada update.

 

Apr 29

Mets, Dillon Gee Show Spunk In Denver

Does anybody remember the old “Mary Tyler Moore” show, when Lou Grant tells Mary: “You know what you have Mary? You have spunk.” Then after a pause, adds, “I hate spunk.”

Well, I happen to love it, and it was so enjoyable to see the Mets show it yesterday at Colorado after getting spanked the night before.

Dillon Gee gave them seven innings when the bullpen needed a breather, and Lucas Duda and David Wright flexed at the plate. Wright always does in the Rocky Mountains.

It was one Saturday afternoon, sure. But, it followed a horrid Friday night. Several times this year they’ve responded from bad days and bad series with a strong effort.

The Mets are a building team and one must take positive signs when you see them. This was such a time.

Apr 27

Encouraging News About Mets Farm System

It might not happen again for awhile – they have done it only three times in 50 years  - but the Mets’ starting lineup yesterday was comprised solely of products from the farm system. Elias reported it as the first time in 41 years.

Of course, that will change when Johan Santana and others start, and Andres Torres and Jason Bay return. Nonetheless, it is a positive sign,

In this era of spiraling salaries and considering their financial situation, homegrown talent is the surest form of cost certainty. As the Mets continue to improve, both on the field and in the standings, they’ll go to the outside more in the forms of free-agent signings and trades. But, the core has to be the farm system.

The Mets will soon have a decision to make in extending David Wright, which I believe they will. Two, three years down the road if they pan out as expected, the Mets will consider signing guys like Ike Davis, Josh Thole, Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada to long-term deals as to avoid arbitration and free-agency. This is what they did with Jon Niese.

Building from within is not a new theory and some of the premier examples is what the Yankees did during their run, adding a key homegrown player nearly every year. There was Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada.

Most of the great franchises have a core group from the farm system and this is what the Mets need to do to become an elite team. Now that they appear to have a foundation is why I think they’ll keep Wright, who is leading the team in every major offensive category.