May 10

Terry Collins Has Changed Culture

Several times this season the Mets answered a winning streak with a losing one. They have won five straight and you wouldn’t be wrong to wonder if the other shoe will drop this weekend in Miami.

Great timing to have Johan Santana start in the opener.

COLLINS: Getting it done.

While you and I might wonder, nobody in the Mets’ clubhouse is thinking along those lines. Terry Collins won’t allow it.

The book on Collins going in was he could get uptight and lose a clubhouse. There’s been nothing to suggest he’s going that way. It does show one can adjust, and even change, over time.

Collins came with little fanfare or declarations. There was no timetable to get the Mets into contention. Instead, he promised to change the culture. His teams are prepared and seldom come out flat, with the Houston debacle an exception.

We’ve seen hustle, better pitching and defense than expected, and a manager who sticks by his players. The Mets are hitting at an extraordinary clip with two outs and lead the majors in comeback victories with 11.

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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.