May 18

May 18.10: Chat Room, Game #40 at Braves: Can they score for Johan?

Say what you will about the Mets’ current problems, but at least the team doesn’t quit. That sounds so cliché, but it is true. We’ve seen sloppy play, we’ve seen physical and mental breakdowns, but we haven’t seen a lack of hustle.

No Met has dogged it like the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez did the other day in Florida. Jason Bay isn’t hitting for power but he busts it every time out of the box. The same can be said for most Mets, and that’s a reflection on the manager.

A manager still has his team when it plays hard for him, and that’s something working for Jerry Manuel.

The Mets snapped their five-game losing streak last night behind Mike Pelfrey and will attempt to win for just the third time in nine games tonight behind Johan Santana against the Braves. Pelfrey gave the Mets 7 2/3 strong innings to become the first starter to win in 16 games.

“Pitching is the key,’’ Manuel said. “If we continue to get this kind of pitching, it at least gives us a chance.’’

Pelfrey pitched big when it counted, limiting the Braves to 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. He had to, because he didn’t get much help, something Santana is familiar with when the comes to facing the Braves.

Santana (3-2, 3.88 ERA this year) is 1-4 with a 2.05 ERA in seven starts against the Braves. He has received two or fewer runs in each of those starts.

Here’s the line-up behind Santana that needs to improve on those numbers:

Jose Reyes, SS
Luis Castillo, 2B
Chris Carter, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Angel Pagan, CF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Johan Santana, LP

NOTE: I’ve got class tonight and won’t be back until nine.

May 16

May 16.10: Chat Room, Game #38 at Marlins: Juggling to stop a slide.

It is Oliver Perez’s right – via collective bargaining – to refuse a demotion to the minor leagues. That doesn’t mean he’s any less selfish in refusing.

“I don’t like going to the bullpen,’’ said Perez. “But, I think that’s what’s best for the team.’’

What nonsense.

What’s best for the Mets is the minor leagues, because that’s where he’ll get the most consistent work, and therefore, have the best chance to get himself righted.

However, they can’t make him go. And, despite it being his right, it’s a selfish decision because he’s wasting a roster spot better left for somebody else. Should the Mets decide to bring up somebody from the minors to start, somebody would have to be optioned out. A possible option is Jenrry Mejia to develop him as a starter.

Another aspect of this is it might force them to use Hisanori Takahashi, which weakens the bullpen. A straight change of roles between Takahashi and Perez is possible, but the former pitches when the games are in the balance. The Mets would only want to use Perez in games out of control.

A trade would have been nice, but let’s face it, any trade would either entail the Mets paying a bulk of the balance of his due salary, or an exchange of bad contracts. The guy is a power pitcher who can no longer bring it; he’s not going to net much in return.

Another shake-up with the Mets is overdue, and that’s returning Jose Reyes to the leadoff spot. Reyes’ comment, that it’s like returning home, indicated he was never on-board with this.

It also means Jerry Manuel, however well intentioned, didn’t know Reyes’ temperature on this and that’s not good managing.

A manager has to know how to put players in the situations where they are most apt to be successful and Manuel has wasted Reyes for the better part of a month.

The Mets close their series in Florida today with Jon Niese on the mound in the hope of stopping the losing streak at four games.

Here’s today’s line-up:

Jose Reyes, SS
Alex Cora, 2B
Jason Bay, LF
Chris Carter, RF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Angel Pagan, CF
Henry Blanco, C
Jon Niese, LP

PLEASE FORGIVE THE PROBLEMS WITH UPLOADING ART TODAY

May 15

May 15.10: Chat Room, Game #37 at Marlins: Another fine mess you’ve gotten us into Ollie

What to do with Oliver Perez? After Perez’s latest implosion last night in Florida, it has become even more apparent the Mets need to do something about their flammable left hander, who with each passsing start shows all that hard work this winter is going by the boards.

The first option is to leave him in the rotation for awhile, but Jerry Manuel made that decision last night in the hope Perez would respond to the warmer weather in Florida. But, Perez’s fastball is down by at least four mph., and it seems he can’t find homeplate with a GPS.

There was nothing last night to indicate any progress. Come to think about, four home runs is worse than seven walks.

The bullpen is a poor option because Perez won’t get enough real work to correct his mechanical and mental problems. Any game he enters would be akin to waiving a white flag.

And, you know the Mets aren’t going to eat the $20 million balance of his contract, so an outright release won’t happen either.

OK … to me the only real solution is to send him to the minor leagues to let him work out his problems, that is, if he can.

The Mets, sad to say, have been pushed into a corner where they are trying to salvage what’s left of Perez’s career.

May 13

May 13.10: Chat Room, Game #35 at Marlins: Classic pitcher’s duel.

The Mets begin an eight-game road trip tonight in Florida in a classic pitcher’s duel: Johan Santana vs. Josh Johnson.

Something has to break because both pitchers dominate the opposition, with Santana 6-1 with a 1.66 ERA in eight career starts against the Marlins. Johnson is not the type of pitcher a team in a hitting funk likes to face. He is 7-1 against the Mets, including 4-0 with a 2.14 ERA in five home starts against them.

The Mets’ lone victory over Johnson came Opening Day at Citi Field. The Marlins, however, won the next two games of that series.

The Mets need to get Jose Reyes going. Reyes is mired in a season-long slump, which hasn’t been helped by the move to third in the batting order. Reyes is batting .228 with a .283 on-base percentage. He is hitting .242 since being moved out of the leadoff spot.

Clearly, he’s not performing well hitting third. He’s trying to do too much with the ball. He’s better off going back to first where he’s more comfortable. Hitting is all about comfort, and Reyes looks uncomfortable at the plate. He’s reaching for pitches and is swinging with more of an uppercut than he has in the past.

However, manager Jerry Manuel is insistent on leaving Reyes third in the order ahead of Jason Bay. Manuel’s theory is Bay will see more fastballs with Reyes on ahead of him. The problem is Reyes isn’t on much these days. And, Bay only has one homer on the season, so where he has benefitted I’m not sure.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

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

NOTE: I have my class tonight and won’t be home until nine. Hope to see you then.

Apr 13

April 13.10: Chat Room, Game #7 at Rockies: Maine needs a big night.

With the 2-4 Mets six games into the 20-game plateau manager Jerry Manuel defined as fair to evaluate the start of the season, the team begins its first road trip to Colorado and St. Louis, perhaps two of the more unfriendly venues for visitors.

After losing two each to the Marlins and Nationals – teams they should handle at home at least – the mood of the Mets isn’t panic as much as it is urgency.

There have been three bad starts by the rotation, a trend that would wear down the bullpen eventually, and no hitting with runners in scoring position.

“It’s six games,’’ said outfielder Jeff Francoeur. “With that being said, we’d better get it going quick, because we’ve got some teams coming up that are really, really good.’’

Manuel ripped his team for being unprepared – for which he assumed responsibility – and others wondered about the intensity level.

If the Mets are going to get it started, they’ll have to do it tonight behind John Maine, he of the 7.20 ERA and slow fastball.

Maine has lost some of the velocity, and worse, some of the movement off his fastball, a byproduct of shoulder problems. He says he’s fine, but he still needs to build up strength.

“We’ll continue to hope for that,’’ Manuel said of Maine building up his shoulder strength. “He’s healthy and I don’t see why, being free from setbacks and those types of things, we won’t see that at some point.’’

Maine is 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA in three starts versus the Rockies, so there’s some reason for optimism.

NOTE: I am taking classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights for the next few months, and won’t be around for the start of the game. With the game at 8:40 p.m., I’m expecting to be back by nine, so I might miss the first inning or two.