May 28

Mets Drop Ike Davis To Eighth In Order; Honor Mariano Rivera

Assuming the Mets play tonight, Ike Davis will bat in the eighth slot. Terry Collins didn’t give a good explanation for the drop in the order, simply saying he wanted to get Marlon Byrd in the game and separate his lefty hitters. Of course, he could do that without dropping Davis.

However, the only thing lower than batting eighth is Triple-A Las Vegas, but the Mets don’t want to go there, yet. Not sure what they are waiting for as the season is already rapidly fading away. The sooner they  send down Davis to work on his approach and mechanics, the sooner he has a chance to salvage this season.

Despite Davis’ insistence he needs to stay on the major league level, the only way he’ll break out of this is to go down. The pitchers are too good and the game is too quick for him at this level. Davis has proven he’s unable to hit breaking balls down and away, and until he does, that’s all he’ll get. Any pitcher who gives him anything but that should be fined.

Here’s tonight’s batting order:

Ruben Tejada, SS:  He’s hitting .206 this season at home and a blistering .185 (5-27) during the homestand.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Hitting .316 with RISP. Has hit in 12 of his last 15 games. Was hitting .296 in the leadoff role, but he’s not there any longer. Don’t ask why.

David Wright, 3B: Homered and tripled Monday night. Hitting .372 with RISP and .353 lifetime vs. Hiroki Kuroda.

Lucas Duda, LF: Misplayed ball last night into triple. Hitting .333 (9-27) on the homestand.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Has ten RBI to tie for the team lead with Wright for month of May.

Rick Ankiel, CF: Is 10-42 (.238) with two homers and six RBI in 12 games with Mets.

John Buck, C: Hit nine homers in April, but only two in May. Hasn’t had a multi-hit game since May 1.

Ike Davis, 1B:  Struck out three times Monday night. Hitting .155 with four homers and 11 RBI this year. Batting .114 (5-44) with RISP.

Matt Harvey, RHP: Gave up season-high four runs in last start. Is trying to go 6-0. Already has five no-decisions.

NOTE:  Bobby Parnell’s availability is doubtful for tonight. He’s worked the last two games, but there’s no report of any injury.

METS HONOR RIVERA: The Mets will honor Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera with a presentation from the NYPD. He’ll also have the unique distinction of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Curious as to who will catch it. No disrespect intended for back-up catcher Anthony Recker, but I assume it won’t be him. Perhaps Wright?

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

 

 

May 27

Jon Niese Tries To Get It Right Against Yankees

The Mets did it right in how they honor the veterans this Memorial Day. If Major League Baseball doesn’t do it already – and I believe they might – all veterans should be allowed free admission to any regular season game they choose.

It is only a small way of saying thanks and showing respect for those who gave this country so much. Personally, I think any family who lost a member in a war should have tax-exempt status. They have already given more than their fair share.

NIESE: Tries to get it back tonight.

NIESE: Tries to get it back tonight.

But, that’s just me.

Growing up, Memorial Day meant parades, picnics and softball games. Today, I know it means a lot more.

Baseball is a Memorial Day tradition, especially the doubleheader. They don’t do them anymore because the owners want the two gates. However, on this day, and maybe also on July 4, I wish Major League Baseball would go back and honor not only the veterans, but all fans who have supported it for years, to give us back the traditional doubleheader.

So many of baseball’s great traditions have faded, from the uniqueness of the Opening Days in Cincinnati and Washington, to Sunday doubleheaders, to the diminishing of the All-Star Game and to interleague play.

Baseball has always been part of the fabric of our country – James Earl Jones’ Field of Dreams speech – and that includes the traditional holiday doubleheaders.

Just once, can’t the commissioner of this sport and its owners do something right for its fans and give us back the holiday doubleheader?

Of course, that wouldn’t work with Mets-Yankees, a gimmick that might be losing its steam. If both teams were competitive it could be different, but there are plenty of tickets available for the two Citi Field games against the Yankees.

The Mets won Sunday night to snap their third losing streak of the season of at least five games.

And, it is just May.

The Mets have Jon Niese and Matt Harvey going against the Yankees, which is their best. Niese is going through an awful stretch. The Opening Day starter and de facto ace with Johan Santana done, Niese won two of his first three starts, but it took him six starts before he won his third game.

Niese is on pace to pitch 186.1 innings, but for that workload he’ll go 10-17 with a 4.80 ERA.  Currently, hitters are batting .270 off him.

Harvey’s projected numbers are off the charts, but how long will it continue?

And, once he falters, who picks up the slack?

 

 

May 26

From One Miserable Week To Another For Mets

It was a rough week for your Mets and the upcoming week doesn’t figure to get any easier.

Whatever good feelings developed at Wrigley Field quickly evaporated when they returned home to be swept by Cincinnati. They followed that with losing their first two against the Braves, with once again Dillon Gee running into that one buzz saw inning that shredded him. They conclude their series at Citi Field with Atlanta today behind 0-5 Shaun Marcum on the mound.

No, he’s not one to inspire Matt Harvey-like confidence.

If there was a Game of the Week, it was Harvey’s no-decision Wednesday, in which they took him off the hook to keep him unbeaten.

The Met most in focus this week was Ike Davis, whose .148 average has him on the verge of being sent to Triple-A Las Vegas since before the Pittsburgh series. Davis can’t hit the high heat or low-and-slow breaking pitches. He’s lost at the plate and carried his funk out to the field.

Pitchers on this level give no quarter, and despite Davis’ proclamation he needs to learn to hit on this level, it is obvious this isn’t the place, not with quality arms against him and the cascading boos. That the Mets have waited this long is indication of their thin minor league system and lack of faith in those players down below.

The Mets escape the National League this week for the Subway Series, this time under the new format of two games each in Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are always a formidable obstacle for the Mets, but despite a bulk of their multi-million dollar talent on the disabled list, the Yankees are sizzling. It is sobering the Yankees’ minor leaguers and retreads are better than the Mets’ starters.

Jon Niese and Harvey start Monday and Tuesday, respectively, at Citi Field, where tickets – and plenty of them – are available. They can also be had at Yankee Stadium, an indication the interleague gimmick is cooling.

Interleague play has never appealed to me, but since it isn’t going away, this is a better Mets-Yankees format. Have the games dominate the week and be done with them. Four games are right while six is too many.

Everywhere he goes in his farewell tour Future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera visits with a selected group of fans and honored by the opposition. When the Yankees were in Cleveland, the home of Rock ‘n Roll, the Indians presented him a framed gold record of “Enter Sandman’’ his take-the-mound music as a gift. The Mets presented Chipper Jones with artwork of Shea Stadium.

The Mets will honor Rivera on Tuesday.

Noted for breaking bats with his fierce cutter, one of the best gift ideas I heard speculated was to presented him an autographed cracked bat from the opposition. It is such a novel idea.

I hope he gets one from David Wright. It is piling on, but I can’t help it, he won’t get one from Davis as that would mean making contact.

Yes, yes, that’s cruel. However, there is an element of truth to it, right?

The week ends in Miami for a series against the anonymous Marlins, whose lone reason for watching, Giancarlo Stanton, was injured when the teams last played.

Niese and Harvey are scheduled to go Saturday and Sunday.

Then comes June, but the good news is they can’t swoon any more than they already have.

Can they?

May 25

Mets On The Trade Market

As the Mets’ season spirals out of control, it is getting close to the time when the organization will be taking – if not making – calls to test the trade waters at the deadline. The past two years the Mets had key players – Jose Reyes and David Wright – facing free agency that made them prime talent to be dealt.

Not so this year.

GEE: Could today's starter attract interest?

GEE: Could today’s starter attract interest?

Reyes is on Toronto’s disabled list, and Wright is under a long-term contract wondering when the losing will ever end and privately might be asking himself if made a mistake. The Mets will again be sellers leaving Wright to shake his head thinking another summer is slipping away with no hope for October.

In previous seasons, Jon Niese was a trade topic, but despite his off-season he’s not going anywhere. Left-handed pitchers under long-term contracts are always in demand, so the Mets will hang onto him as long as possible.

From the rotation, Shaun Marcum has had a degree of success, so the Mets might offer him, especially if Zack Wheeler has been promoted. Dillon Gee has shown he can get to the sixth inning. That’s also appealing to a contender.

If he were healthy, Frank Francisco would be available since he lost the closer job to Bobby Parnell, but his elbow could keep him on the disabled list for the remainder of the season if it doesn’t end his career.

A month ago, it would have been logical to assume John Buck could be traded, but his connection with Matt Harvey coupled with Travis d’Arnaud’s broken foot will likely keep him playing in front of sparse crowds at Citi Field, perhaps even next year, too.

Two years ago the Red Sox were interested in Ike Davis, but his trade value is low, if not non-existent. Four more strikeouts Friday night is head-scratching. The only exception would be if a team’s first baseman were injured – nobody’s could be slumping more than Davis – and believed he might benefit from a change of scenery.

Contenders are always searching for power, which normally would preclude Daniel Murphy, but also need role players and capable pinch-hitters. For that matter, Mike Baxter and Marlon Byrd could be had. Also, Jordany Valdespin for any team wishing to add a headache.

Teams talking to the Mets always inquire about their young pitching, but Matt Harvey and Wheeler are untouchables. At one time teams coveted Jenrry Mejia, but misuse contributed to an elbow injury and his value is the hope he heals and able to find the strike zone.

The Mets look helpless, but have viable players who could help a contender. It’s not as if they are helping the Mets.

May 23

Apocalypse Now? Mets Down, Ticket Sales Down, SNY Viewership Down

Last season, with an Ike Davis that was as woeful as he is now, the New York Mets were still eight games above .500 on June 8. Here it is, three weeks into May, and the Mets are already ten games below .500.

That 2012 team lost 88 games, how many will this year’s version lose? Shockingly, this team, now in the third year of the Sandy Alderson era, is on pace to lose 101 games.

I used ESPN’s Attendance Tracker and the team is bleeding not only money – but fans…

Average Attendance

2010 – 32,401

2011 – 30,108

2012 – 28,035

2013 – 25,895

The Mets are down an average of 6,905 fans per game since the 2010 season. That equates to over a half-million fans that are unwilling to buy tickets to see the current product on the field.

Remember how hot Subway Series tickets used to be?

In a recent article by Mark LaMonica of Newsday, he reported that the Mets are so bad and unwatchable, even Subway Series ticket sales, which at one time were sold-out in hours – are very available and selling for less than the exorbitant prices they used to go for.

The combined average price for the four-game Subway Series (May 27-30) this year is $133 as of Monday, according to TiqIQ.com, a ticket reseller that aggregates ticket prices across multiple secondary markets. That’s down 13 percent from 2012, 19 percent from 2011 and 34 percent from 2010.

Don’t think it’s the on-field performance alone. This team suffers from a severe lack of star power, and I would hate to think how much worse things would be if not for a holdover by the name of Matt Harvey. He alone is hauling in over 5,000 more fans per game than when anyone else starts.

Think those fans who opted out of buying tickets are staying home and watching instead?

Think again…

According to this Daily News article, the SNY viewership numbers are even worse and almost double the percentage of decline in attendance from last season.

The Mets on SNY are averaging a household rating of 1.91, down 22% from the same point in 2012. Among men 25-54, the key demographic, the Mets are averaging a 1.05 rating, down 15% from 2012.

Things have gotten so bad that most games are now a two-man booth. It’s no longer Gary, Keith and Ron and more like Gary, Keith or Ron.

Every minute of each telecast is a non-stop barrage of Cholula Hot Sauce and MetsBlog promos. Even the score bug has drop down ads every half inning.

It’s not just the team on the field that is sinking (and stinking)  – it’s everything on down including ticket sales and worst of all, SNY viewership.

Everything is being sponsored by someone whether it’s the game broadcast and even the posts on MetsBlog themselves. The Wilpons are trying to squeeze every penny they can and in anyway they can to stay above water. The SNY broadcast and editorial content on their blog network are both working in step with ownership on everything.

I think most Met fans are just sick of everything being done on the cheap – so they don’t pay to watch the team play, and many more don’t even bother to tune in and watch either. Except when Matt Harvey is pitching.

I don’t know how much longer they can stay in this, ummm, whatever you want to call this mode… But I do know this… It’s starting to feel a lot like 1978 around here.

Who is burried in Grant's Tomb

GRANT’S TOMB