Nov 09

Mets laying a good foundation

I really like what the Mets have done so far as it shows thoughtfulness and the implementation of a real plan as opposed the quick-fix mentality.

Sandy Alderson was the best available general manager candidate and has not disappointed with the hires of Paul DePodesta and J.P. Ricciardi to the front office.

The Mets are laying a strong foundation, one that will carry them beyond the checkbook mentality of free agency. While it is premature to say theirs is the best front office in baseball, it isn’t to suggest they are showing signs of putting together a unit that could become one of the elite.

They are doing all the right things also in their managerial search and not giving into jumping at the hot name. The names being interviewed are solid candidates who could thrive in the right organization. The hiring of DePodesta to work the minor league system could open the door for Terry Collins to move out of that area and move into the manager’s seat.

Not caving into Hisanori Takahashi’s demands was also the prudent way to go. Giving into Takahashi, at his age and with only one year in the majors, would have been duplicating the acts of the previous regime.

As much as I like what Takahashi did last year, giving him three years would have only burdened the Mets with another contract they might want to unload in a year.

The Mets will still be bogged down in 2011 with a heavy payroll, but at least they are putting themselves in the right position to roll when they finally gain some financial flexibility.

So far, the first impression has been a good one.

Aug 17

Mets Chat Room; Santana tries to keep it going.

The last time Johan Santana pitched he told manager Jerry Manuel to leave him alone, that he could go ten innings.

Game #119 at Astros

Want to bet there will be a similar conversation tonight?

For the first time in two months, the Mets the first game of a road series last night. They’ll try to make it two in a row tonight behind Santana (10-6, 2.89), who is coming off a masterful 4-0 blanking of the Colorado Rockies. They haven’t won two straight on the road since June 11-18.

Santana admits there’s a certain degree of pressure when he takes the mound considering the Mets’ lackluster offense.

“Every time we go out there, we go out there with the mentality of winning,’’ said Santana, who has given up nine hits in 16 1/3 scoreless innings in his last two starts.

Over his last nine starts Santana is 5-1 with a 1.88 ERA. With a little run support he could have 15 victories by now.

Two slumbering Mets showed wake-up signs last night. David Wright had three hits and Carlos Beltran had two, including a home run.

Aug 13

Mets Chat Room; the circus is in town.

Game #115 vs. Phillies

Evidently, the Mets weren’t all that “disappointed” in the behavior of closer Francisco Rodriguez as word is the combustible closer could be available to pitch as soon as tomorrow. Of course, with their ace facing a civil suit for rape, just how much could they say?

There were suspension limitations without facing a grievance from the Players Association, but it would have been interesting to see them tangle and watch what lame defense the MLBPA would come up with to defend assault.

The Mets’ handling of their off-season issues has been embarrassingly poor from the disciplinary stances of Rodriguez and Santana to  their lack of activity in the off-season and at the trading deadline in bolstering its pitching staff.

I understand the clubhouse mentality of “he’s our teammate and we support him,” but I wonder how much they really will embrace him for his behavior in front of their wives, girlfriends and children. Carlos Beltran, the quiet one, came out strongest calling what Rodriguez did was wrong. Otherwise, the word “mistake,” was thrown out too much.

Evidently, the words from his father-in-law, to quit being a baby, man up and play better.”

Those words can apply to ownership on down.

Aug 04

Francoeur: Has anything changed?

The Mets do have a pulse after last night, and it’s that way because of R.A. Dickey and Jeff Francoeur.

FRANCOEUR: Finally delivers

As far as Francoeur is concerned, last night might change his mood and get him going, but I’ve said that before with him. He’s an extremely streaky hitter, but unfortunately for him he’s had too many on the downside this summer. A hot one now could lift the Mets back into contention.

When Carlos Beltran returned, somebody had to sit, but Jerry Manuel force-feeding him into the lineup seems to have backfired. If nothing else, the Mets’ record since the All-Star break should mean something. Manuel had no choice but to cut Francoeur’s time, but his methods weren’t right.

A meeting would have been the proper thing to do. And, to equate his situation to a pitcher going to the bullpen was callous.

Manuel shut the door on Francoeur as a Met, and last night’s heroics aside, it doesn’t change anything. The Mets might be a game closer, but it’s a huge gap. And, Francoeur could go on a tear, but he’s gone after this year.

He wants to play everyday and young enough to do so. It’s too early in his career to assume the role player mentality.

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May 11

May 11.10: Finding the right order; Manuel has some thinking to do.

It’s obvious the Mets’ offense is in trouble, with once again last night demonstrating an appalling lack of ability to hit with runners in scoring position.

Jerry Manuel talks about “getting things going,’’ and that includes putting the players in the right position for success.

Clearly, they are not.

It’s time to re-juggle the lineup, which means put Jose Reyes back at leadoff. There are some who will argue he’s still stealing bases now, but that’s more attributable to his legs getting stronger than his spot in the order.

All too often I see Reyes swinging out of his shoes with little attempt at selectivity.

Reyes has the potential to be the game’s premier leadoff hitter. Put him there and leave him there.

The following order is thinking out loud with the hope of generating something until the next need to shake things up.

I like David Wright best hitting third, but his two hits last night notwithstanding, he’s still mired in some bad habits. It has worked before for Wright has struggled and it could work again, and that is to move him to second. Hitting second, where he’d have to protect the runner would help shorten Wright’s swing and hopefully lifting him out of his bad habits.

Because he’s been driving the ball and has the speed element, I’d put Angel Pagan third. And, yes, I fear the mentality of hitting third might do for him what it has done for Reyes. But, unlike Reyes, Pagan has hit all over the order so perhaps the transition would be a little less.

The guy who is really killing the Mets has been Jason Bay. He needs a day off and maybe he’ll get one with the promotion of Chris Carter from Triple-A Buffalo and the DFA of Frank Catalanotto. It makes no sense to bring up Carter unless they intend to play him, but who sits?

Give Bay a rest, time to collect his thoughts, and maybe he’ll be fresher. With that being said, because there are no other alternatives Bay would have to stay cleanup when he plays.

Next I’d elevate Ike Davis to fifth. Davis is one of the few Mets who seems to have an idea at the plate. I would be tempted to bat him fourth, but fear it might put too much pressure on him.

Sixth would be Jeff Francoeur, whose hot start is a memory. He’s another who might benefit from having a day off.

Seventh would be Rod Barajas, but with his slugging percentage it might not be a bad idea to elevate him past Francoeur. At one time I thought clean-up would be a temporary spot, but know the Mets would never go for it.

Eighth, unfortunately, will be Luis Castillo, who is taken out of his spot because the others aren’t doing their jobs. Castillo has been playing well and is the ideal No. 2 hitter, but getting Wright going is crucial.

There are no doubt flaws in this thinking, which, of course, I’m sure you will point out. This is not a permanent solution, but something temporary to jumpstart things.

If you’ve got other lineup suggestions, let’s hear them.