Sep 02

Manuel’s status ….

MANUEL: Clock ticking toward the inevitable.

Jerry Manuel told The New York Post the other day he’d love to know his job status for next season. There was a chance of his return, maybe even had the Mets not made the playoffs, if they continued to play as they did in June when they reached a high-water mark of 11 games over .500. Had they made a real run an argument could be made for him.

But, the collapse in July, followed by a month of .500 ball – give or take a game – has done him in. August was especially brutal because the Mets played with disinterest, without passion, without spark. There were extenuating circumstances – there always is – but the general apathy the team has been in the past month greatly reflects on the manager.

He has lost his team.

Several things within Manuel’s control have done him in, headed by his handling of the bullpen. He burns out relievers and isn’t always clear in dealing with the players on their job descriptions. Communication is not his strong point, as evidenced when he said Ike Davis had been spoken to regarding his emotional displays at the plate. When asked about this, Davis had no clue.

David Wright did not know when he’d get a day off. Manuel did not discuss with Jeff Francoeur his status following Carlos Beltran’s return.

Manuel threw John Maine under the bus when he said maybe the best day to pitch him would be on off days. He insisted on three catchers in the National League game which is absurd. Manuel’s handling of Jose Reyes’ oblique strain prior to All-Star break was foolish. He insisted on Jenrry Mejia in the bullpen to start the season when it clearly was not in the best long-term interests of the club.

The list goes on and on.

That there is not one Met saying for publication that the fault is on the players and not Manuel is telling. Nobody is in his corner. More than a few Mets stood up for Willie Randolph, while at the time Manuel was telling the brass he’d be interested in the job.

Add it all up, and the Mets are 190-198 under Manuel in his two-and-a-half  years. For the fourth straight year the Mets will not make the playoffs, for the second straight year September will be about showcasing players for the following season.

This time, the Mets will be showcasing players Manuel will never get to manage.

Sep 01

Mejia to get start

The Mets announced this afternoon Jenrry Mejia will start Saturday’s game at Chicago. Not a surprise.

I hope the Mets give Mejia a lot of rope to see what he is capable of doing. Remember he spent a lot of the season in the bullpen, so his innings aren’t what they could be had he been in a rotation all year. Even so, I’m sure they will watch his pitch count.

By rope, I mean let him work his way out of jams and if he gets mauled early, let ‘s see how he reacts. I don’t want to hear how getting rocked will shake his confidence, because if he’s as good as the Mets think he’ll learn from it.

This is obviously the right thing to do, as the Mets finally have realized his future is as a starter. Five starts won’t be enough for him to develop another pitch, but it is a start. Even after five starts he might need more time in Triple A to develop, but that’s all right.

I thought they pushed the envelope with him in the first half of the season with how they handled him in the bullpen. There were glimpses where you could tell what all the fuss is about, and there were other times when you knew he wasn’t ready.

The season is lost, so it’s time to plan ahead. For every fifth day at least, when Mejia pitches, there will be meaningful games in September. Let him take his lumps and learn from it. Both he and the Mets will be better off.

Aug 18

Questions for 2011

Let’s face it, we’re down to miracles and hoping for historic comebacks now. The Mets lost with their ace last night and find themselves 11 games behind Atlanta.

How many days before spring training?

As far as I’m concerned the next six weeks should be about laying the ground work for 2011, a time to find some answers. Here are the most important issues:

JENRRY MEJIA: Mejia is pitching in Double-A, experiencing no shoulder problems and will be recalled when the rosters expand Sept. 1. He should immediately be slotted into the rotation to find out what is there. And, if he takes his lumps, well, that’s part of the learning process.

PELFREY: Can he finish strong?

MIKE PELFREY: Once again, Pelfrey has shown us two personas. After a 9-1 start he’s 1-5, but has pitched well in his last two games. It is important to see if he learned anything during his horrid July that he can build off of.

JON NIESE/R.A. DICKEY: Just keep on doing what they’ve done. Two of the bright spots need to build on their success.

RUBEN TEJADA: Can this kid hit in the major leagues? Let’s give him steady playing time to find out. No need to platoon with Luis Castillo as we know all about him.

CARLOS BELTRAN: It would be nice if he finishes strong and ups his trade value, but who are we kidding? Who’s going to trade for that $18.5 million contract? I’d see what he’s capable of doing in right field.

JASON BAY: It is a lost season for him. There’s no need to bring him back. What’s he going to accomplish? Hit 10 homers? Make sure he’s healthy and start again next year.

HISANORI TAKAHASHI/BOBBY PARNELL: As of now, it appears Takahashi is the closer. If that’s the case, leave him there and let him take his lumps and see what is there. The assumption must be made that Francisco Rodriguez is not coming back. If the Mets decide Parnell is a better fit long term for the closer role, then give him the ball. The goal should be to end the season with an idea of your closer for 2011.

IKE DAVIS/JOSH THOLE: Both these guys will start next year so give them the time. I especially want to see them hit against left-handed pitching. No more platooning in that situation.

Jul 31

Mets Chat Room; Playing out the string.

Game #104 vs. Diamondbacks.

Well, another trade deadline has come and gone without your Mets doing anything substantial. Wait, I meant, without doing anything at all. I have no problem with the organization wanting to protect its prospects. I can’t get on Omar Minaya for that.

As a general manager, his job is to protect the franchise, and that’s what he did when he said no to those vultures wanting Ike Davis, or Jonathan Niese, or Josh Thole, or Jenrry Mejia.

What I can find fault with is ownership not moving in the offseason to address its pitching needs. I didn’t like it at the time, and I’ll repeat: Their priority last winter was pitching and not Jason Bay.

With what Bay has given them, it isn’t out of line to wonder if his contract will fall in the same bin as that of Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. It might be too early to jump to that conclusion, but I’ll bet I’m not the only one to wonder.

What the Mets have done today and for the last month as they floundered was choose their future over their present. They have told us they do not think they are good enough to win this season without a miracle finish.

They were further behind with less time remaining in 1969, but won. Mathematically, it is still possible. But, I’m not counting on any miracles this time around.

Hell, they haven’t been able to beat Arizona. How can we expect them to run the table?

Jul 28

Manuel goes to bat for coaching staff

MANUEL: It will all fall on him.

After several swirling days of finger-pointing, at the Mets’ listless offense and hitting coach Howard Johnson, manager Jerry Manuel did his own pointing.

And, fittingly, he directed it in the same direction Mets fans have for nearly two years – at himself.

Manuel looked in the mirror and went to bat for the beleaguered Johnson and his other restless coaches.

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