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.


Aug 23

Mets Face Bleak Offseason

How could anybody be anything but enthused about the Mets for 2013?

With GA Sandy Alderson telling us the budget hasn’t been set but don’t expect it to be much higher than it is now. Then he said trades might be the way to go. But, if the Mets aren’t willing to part with Matt Harvey or Zach Wheeler, will they purge the rest of their farm system? History says it isn’t likely.

A quick glance at the major league roster tells us there’s little to trade of value outside of David Wright, R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese. I like the potential of Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis, but outside of that, who would anybody want?

You’d love to trade Johan Santana and Jason Bay, but nobody wants those contracts, plus their limited production and injury histories.

There’s simply little of any value other teams would want. We are talking about a team that is ten games below .500 and facing another losing season. This is a team that since its last World Series appearance in 2000 has had five managers and four general managers. The latest, Alderson, is a fixer, brought in to clean up a mess brought on by the owner’s financial distress and hopefully field a competitive team in the process.

Considering all that, of course there’s limited talent available. Otherwise they wouldn’t be in this mess.

It wasn’t going to be pretty work, nor was it going to be easy. So far, Alderson has sliced nearly $50 million in payroll and said good-bye to Jose Reyes. He also cut ties with Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran, players with bloated contracts brought in when the team considered itself a contender.

The Mets have a myriad of issues they must face with limited dollars:

1.  Re-sign David Wright: He’s had a solid season and deserves it. Plus, if you let the face of the franchise leave who is going to want to come here? After losing Reyes it would be a disastrous decision. Wright will be a FA after 2013, so any dealing of him would be limited for the fear of him leaving. There is the possibility of next year being a huge distraction if there’s an unsigned Wright at the trade deadline. Talk about a potential mess.

2. A starting pitcher: The Mets got more from Santana than they could have hoped but eventually shut him down. They have to go under the assumption he’s a health question. Also, Jon Niese has not performed as hoped and is it realistic to think they’ll get a similar year from Dickey? No. They likely won’t bring back Mike Pelfrey – remember him? – and while there’s optimism, the Mets still don’t know what they have in Dillon Gee, Harvey, Wheeler or Jenrry Mejia.

3. The bullpen: This was Alderson’s area of concentration in the offseason and it blew up on him. Frank Francisco is a disaster and Bobby Parnell has yet to grasp a role. Maybe the Mets have run their course with Dan Warthen as pitching coach, I don’t know. But, that must be examined. Are their any viable pieces? Doesn’t look that way.

4. Outfield: Bay will be back because of his contract, but I’d eat it and start fresh. Lucas Duda will get a shot in left then, but they need power from the right side. They aren’t getting it from Andres Torres or Jordany Valdespin, both of whom aren’t any better than bench players.

5. Catcher: Josh Thole has not progressed either offensively or defensively as hoped. But, he’s a healthy body right now and for the Mets, that’s a positive.

When you come down to it, that’s an impressive shopping list to fill on a limited budget. It looks as if next year’s team will look similar to this year’s Mets, with the hope for improvement coming from more production from their current roster. They need breakout years from Davis, Duda, Thole, Harvey and either Wheeler or Mejia.

They need a monster year from Wright and more power from Daniel Murphy.

They need a hell of a lot.


Jul 24

Young Can’t Stop Mets Freefall

Chris Young did his job. Two runs we’ll take. And, it happened early. Then the Mets became amazing again, and not in a good way.

A team rallies to tie the game late, then gets blown away in extra innings. How often does that happen? Maybe once every few seasons? But, in back-to-back games? I wish I were joking, but nope. It happened Sunday and Monday. The Mets have now lost five straight, again, and ten of 11.

Yup, that’s the definition of freefall.

Ruben Tejada committed a costly error last night, but it is hard to get on him because he’s been so good this season. Pedro Beato couldn’t overcome adversity, which is his job. He’s gone.

It looks as if Lucas Duda might be optioned to make room for Matt Harvey, but does it matter anymore?

Jul 22

Mets Swept By Dodgers In Ugly Weekend

There probably have been worse weekends, and uglier stretches in Mets’ history. Perhaps, during the collapse of 2007. However, their current freefall is gathering momentum in its brutality.

Three games against the Dodgers; three comebacks that fell short. Today’s took them 12 innings before the Dodgers stopped fooling around and hit the Mets’ pen with a five spot.

The Mets have lost nine of ten games with the Nationals coming into Citi Field for a three-game series tomorrow. Then, they are off to the West Coast to continue a stretch of 20 straight games without a day off.

Evidently, MLB uses the same schedulers as the NBA.

The Mets face this stretch with Johan Santana on the DL – not that it matters – and a stop-gap starter for Wednesday. David Wright is starting to cool, and Jason Bay has never thawed. Ike Davis and Lucas Duda are also struggling.

The Mets are hitting the icy patch in their schedule as expected. For three months they more than held serve. Actually, they might have played over their heads, although that’s something they’ll vehemently deny.

What they can’t deny, after dipping below .500 for the first time this season, is things are slipping away and it won’t be soon before adding help will become a moot point.

Jul 22

Mets Do Right Thing With Santana

It doesn’t matter if Johan Santana misses two starts. What matters is the temptation to overthrow in a game is removed for at least two weeks. Let’s face it, he’s a competitor and will be tempted. Hopefully, it won’t be more than that.
Of course, Santana said he could pitch. What else would you expect him to say?
Personally, I thought they would have to rest him before this. Was pushing him in the no-hitter the wrong thing to do? I don’t know. Fact is, it wasn’t just the 134 pitches, but all the ones before and since.
It was also the right thing to do and DFA Miguel Batista. He was giving the Mets nothing.
And, finally, Jordany Valdespin is in the starting lineup today. About time.
Ruben Tejada, ss
Jordany Valdespin, lf
David Wright, 3b
Ike Davis, 1b
Daniel Murphy, 2b
Lucas Duda, rf
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf
Josh Thole, c
Jon Niese, lhp