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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Apr 24

How Will You Remember Jose Reyes?

We all glanced at the schedule when it came out to see when Jose Reyes would return to New York with the Marlins. David Wright says he misses his friend, but remembers the dynamic Reyes from a different perspective than we do.

REYES: Sitting alone after leaving his last Mets game (AP).

I’ll always remember Reyes as a dynamic player with an electric smile, but also prone to moodiness, injuries and taking plays off. Such as not covering second base in a late-season game against Washington which led to a big inning and another loss during the Mets’ historic 2007 collapse.

Reyes returns tonight and I wonder what the reaction will be. I doubt it will be as warm as the one Shea Stadium gave Mike Piazza when he returned as a San Diego Padre in 2006. There will be cheers, but I can’t see there being overwhelming affection.

While Wright says he wants to remain and retire with the Mets, Reyes never said anything like that last summer. I always got the feeling Reyes already had one foot out the door. Of course, the Mets never did, or said, anything to indicate they wanted to keep him.

Maybe that’s the feeling Reyes had when he bunted for a base hit and took himself out of the game to preserve his batting title in the season finale. That’s his last moment with the Mets, and not a classy way to say goodbye. It reminded me how LeBron James left the court in his last game with the Cavaliers. Both looked like they couldn’t get out of town fast enough.

I don’t like that it is, but taking himself out to preserve his title will be my enduring image of Reyes as a Met. That, and hardly running in the second half. Clearly, the injury prone Reyes wanted to protect his fragile hamstrings and not damage his stock in the free-agent market. That was selfish and disrespectful to his teammates and fans. Your remembrances might be different.

Anybody who understood what was going on with the Mets last year knew Reyes was gone. The team was in financial distress – still is – and wasn’t about to give Reyes a $100-plus million contract. With his recent injury history to his legs and declining base stealing totals, the Mets couldn’t afford to go six or seven years with him. As a rebuilding team, they couldn’t risk sinking that much money or years into a player who already had shown signs of breaking down.

That wouldn’t  be good business.

The Mets always treated Reyes well and gave him a long-term deal early in his career (2006) when they weren’t obligated. They could have played the system and lowballed him. Reyes grew up poor, was a new father, and insecure about his money. The Mets helped him; it was an investment in the future.

Years later, Reyes had no intention of leaving money on the table. He knew the Mets wouldn’t be the highest bidder. He was probably checking the real estate listings in Miami last August.

“It’s sad what has happened there.” Reyes said. “I loved New York. I loved playing for the Mets and I loved the fans, but there was no way it was going to work our for me to stay.”

Well, there was. He never told the Mets what it would have taken to keep him and had no intention of giving a home team discount.

It was a business decision – by both parties.

Reyes is a sensitive guy. Always has been. When he said he couldn’t wait to come back, you can take that a number of ways. And, you wouldn’t be wrong to think it is to stick it to the Mets.

 

Apr 23

Mets Doing Wise Thing With Johan Santana

Johan Santana didn’t last two innings in his last start, so did he really need to be pushed back from today’s start?

Absolutely.

Terry Collins said he’d take every opportunity to give Santana extra rest when he could and this was the ideal thing to do simply based on the probability of lousy weather. The forecast is rain throughout the day, so the odds are the Mets might not get in both games of their doubleheader today against the Giants. They might not even get in one game.

However, Collins didn’t want to take the chance of wasting Santana today by having him sit through a long delay and not being able to bring him back. The bonus in pushing back the rotation is it also keeps Mike Pelfrey from pitching against the Marlins, a team that owns him.

The Mets have learned a lot about Santana durning his rehab from shoulder surgery, but what they don’t know is how he’ll respond after starting and his ability to come back from a long delay. And, with the weather also cooler, there’s no sense in taking this risk.

With the Giants not coming in again this season, the doubleheader was the only option. However, if the games get bagged today they’ll have to play one anyway. This is another problem with the unbalanced schedule, which is a byproduct of interleague play.

What I don’t understand is why MLB scheduled the Giants in this early in the first place. The weather is always suspect this time of year, so why schedule a team that won’t come in again, or one that is three time zones away? With fewer and fewer off days in the schedule, there should be more foresight in the scheduling.

Keep April within the division, or no farther away then the Central Time Zone. That way, a team has to travel no more than two hours on an off day to make the game up. Just common sense.

 

Apr 17

Seven Positive Signs For The Mets

Earlier today I posed the question if the Mets were for real. Ten games is not enough of a window to jump on the bandwagon, but it is big enough to sense that there’s something positive going on.

WRIGHT: Off to a good start. (AP)

1) David Wright is stroking the ball with authority. Even after missing several games he’s been consistently on, driving the ball to the opposite field which has always been a benchmark of success for him. He’s been swinging at good pitches and hasn’t been chasing the down-and-away junk. He also has been holding his ground when the pitchers have worked him inside.

2) They are 7-3, with all their wins in the division. They’ve won a series in Philadelphia and won last night in Atlanta, places which haven’t always been kind to them. I took a look at a sportsbook review and the odds on the Mets are getting better everyday. This is as positive a sign as any.

3) Johan Santana, who will work tonight, has given them two strong starts. A strong Santana give the Mets a sense of confidence and credibility. Now, if they’d only score some runs for him.

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Apr 05

Very tasteful Opening Day ceremonies

Some teams can overdo their Opening Day ceremonies. Last night, for example, the Marlins went overboard. And, what was that monstrosity in their outfield? Looks like a giant fruit basket with flying fish.

Anyway, today was nothing like that at Citi Field.

They could have gone overboard on Gary Carter, but opted for tasteful. The Kid logo on the outfield, I don’t quite understand. Is it for this year only or forever? If forever, are they going to do that with every player who passes? Seaver, Straw, Doc or Keith? Just wondering.

There’s no doubt Carter was a great player, a Hall of Famer, but most of his numbers were compiled as an Expo, despite how we remember his days with the Mets. That’s one of the reasons why his number wasn’t retired.

Despite the long and uneventful – at least in terms of player acquisitions – I am hopeful for an exciting season.