Jul 26

Marlins Deal Ramirez; Where Were Mets?

I don’t know about you, but I had to laugh when I heard about the Hanley Ramirez trade, and also news the Marlins might be shopping Jose Reyes.

Evidently, the Marlins put a lot of thought into the Reyes signing.  Or, at least a minimum of good thought.

I look at the prospects the Dodgers gave up for Ramirez and Randy Choate and wonder where the Mets were at the time. Surely, they had prospects equal to that of the Dodgers, but the Marlins didn’t want to trade within the division.

It’s simple actually, but it does tell you how screwed up the Marlins are as a franchise. Word is they are taking offers for Josh Johnson, and the Red Sox are at the front of the line.

There’s a week remaining before the trade deadline and already some primetime names have moved. Wonder who’ll be the first to raid Flushing?

May 12

Frank Francisco Spoils Script; Dickey Starts Today

Frank Francisco proved again last night a team is as strong as its bullpen. When the door isn’t slammed, defeat walks through it, and last night the Mets’ winning streak was snapped at five.

A fifth straight comeback win, and six straight victories overall would have represented another step, but they’ll have to start from scratch now. The thing about this team is the feeling it can be done.

It was exciting to see the Mets rally again, getting key pinch-hits from Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter. With how the game began, it looked like a long night.

But the way the Mets fought back, working long counts and playing fundamental baseball was good to see. Lucas Duda hitting a grounder to the right side to advance David Wright; Nieuwenhuis coming back from two strikes; Mike Baxter running up the count before he delivered.

For the most part that is how the Mets have played lately and it reflected in the standings.

Then comes the bullpen, which I’m not sold on. Francisco already has two blown saves and two losses. There’s a reason why the Blue Jays let him go and we’ve seen glimpses of that already.

He’s another reliever that brings to the mound with him an uneasy feeling this might not be a pretty inning. He proved that last night.

The Mets attempt to rebound this afternoon with R.A. Dickey, who has been their most reliable starter. Ricky Nolasco pitches for the Marlins, so this could be low scoring.

 

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?

 

Apr 26

Kirk Nieuwenhuis Leads Gritty Mets Over Miami To Complete Sweep

As today’s game progressed there was a feeling the Mets would do something.  When Miami went to its bullpen it was a lock, even when Heath Bell came on. Bell has never forgiven the Mets for letting him go and the thought was he’d get too amped and overthrow.
That’s what happened and Bell struggled with his command. After walking Justin Turner in a dramatic 13-pitch at-bat to force in the tying run, he looked spent and moments later Kirk Nieuwenhuis delivered a game-winning single to give the Mets a sweep of the Marlins, their third walk-off victory and sixth time they’ve come from behind to win this spring.
What does sweeping the Marlins mean?

NIEUWENHEIS: Delivers in the clutch.

There was concern how the Mets would do with their tough April schedule, but they’ve responded with 11 victories, including sweeps of Atlanta and Miami at home, and winning two of three in Philadelphia.

The Mets have played with grit and heart and showed they can be competitive within the division. They also sent out a message there is life after Jose Reyes.
This afternoon the Mets did nothing against Ricky Nolasco through seven innings, but were kept in the game by Jon Niese, who also worked seven strong innings. The Mets caught a huge break when first base umpire CB Bucknor blew the call and called Reyes out on a 3-6-3 double play. Replays showed Reyes was safe and the Marlins would have had another run.
Apr 26

Mets Exceeding Early Expectations

I must admit, that following their rough stretch against Atlanta and San Francisco, I thought the Mets were heading into a tailspin. However, strong pitching performances from Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey – following up stinkers – appear to have stabilized.

COLLINS: Happy so far.

I’m not saying all is well as it is way to early for that, but I have seen the Mets respond to a weekend like the one they had against the Giants in the opposite fashion. And, today their best pitcher, Jon Niese, will go for the sweep.

Playing well early against a tough schedule is a good sign, Terry Collins said: “It’s important. One of the things that makes it important, is that our guys know they can compete. We have a long hot summer ahead, we are very aware of that. They have to understand that they can compete with the teams we’re playing. Right now they’re seeing it.”

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