Feb 21

Some Team Numbers The Mets Must Improve

Winning the World Series is the ultimate definition of a successful season, something Mets fans haven’t experienced in nearly three decades. The checkdown list goes to playing in the Series, to playing in the LCS, to making the playoffs and to just have a winning season.

When you’re the fan of a franchise that hasn’t had a winning season since 2008, what is your definition of a successful summer?

Is it playing .500 or just playing competitive games? Tell me what will define a good season for you.

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Feb 19

Mets Single Game Tickets To Go On Sale

Single-game tickets go on sale March 1 at 10 a.m., at Mets.com or calling (718) 507-TIXX.

Nice to know, but I wonder why couldn’t they have gone on sale earlier? I realize the need to sell full-season and partial-season ticket packages, but I think having them go on sale at Christmas would be a perfect time and make for a practical gift.

To me, there’s no sense in waiting. Once the schedule is determined, open up the phone lines.

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Feb 18

Mets’ Full-Squad Workouts Start Today; Collins’ Lame-Duck Status

The Mets will have their first full squad workout this morning, prior to which Terry Collins will address his teams. Like I posted last night, don’t expect rah-rah. And, don’t expect the manager to use his lame-duck status as a motivator. He doesn’t work that way.

It must be an odd feeling for Collins to enter the season as a lame duck manager. Ownership and upper management are looking ahead to 2014, when Johan Santana’s contract will be off the books.

Trouble for Collins is he’s thinking about this year because there’s no guarantee of anything beyond while everybody else is thinking of the future.

Collins knows the score, but to his credit he’s not saying anything about it. Fred Wilpon and Sandy Alderson said they are pleased with the job Collins is doing and I’m wondering when that will translate into an extension.

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Feb 17

What Terry Collins Should Say To The Mets

Terry Collins will talk to his team prior to Monday’s full squad workout, but says he won’t go the underdog route, as COO Jeff Wilpon did last spring. The underdog angle is usually a good angle, but the Mets haven’t had a winning season since 2008, so it is safe to say they are familiar with the losing perspective.

Collins pulling a Knute Rockne tomorrow won’t do anything for the Mets. His message must be firm and simple.

It should begin the basics. “Gentlemen,” he should say, “you have the rare privilege of playing major league baseball. Make the most of this opportunity. We are a rebuilding franchise and are looking for players who produce and play hard. One thing I will not tolerate is a lack of hustle. I want to you be on time and hustle. There’s never an excuse for not running.”

Collins should let it be known a lack of hustle will be met with being benched.

Secondly, Collins should tell his troops there is also never a reason not to play fundamental baseball. Errors are part of the game, but mental mistakes such as throwing to the wrong base or wasting at-bats is not acceptable. For the pitchers, pitch selection has to be stressed. If a pitcher doesn’t like the sign put down by the catcher, then don’t throw the damn ball.

Prior to every pitch, a baserunner, pitcher or batter should know his responsibility. All too often in the past few years Mets hitters have thrown away at-bats and pitchers haven’t been able to finish hitters and innings.

Bernie Williams once told me one of the hardest things to do in the sport is to concentrate on every pitch, to ask himself what he should do on that pitch. And, to do it over and over again. It is something winning players and winning teams are able to consistently do.

If the Mets are to take a step toward credibility, it must first begin with learning how to concentrate and think the game.

Feb 17

Johan Santana Has A Good Throw Day

The highlight of the day in Mets’ camp was Johan Santana’s first mound session of the spring; 20 pain-free pitches in chilly Port St. Lucie.

“This is my first time in a while, but it was fine,” Santana told reporters in Florida, where the weather has been brisk and rainy. “I don’t think it was my best or anything, but it’s Day 1. You’ve got to start at some point.

“Today was a beginning for me. … You always worry about how you feel and everything, but at the same time I was just trying to get my job done and not trying to overdo things out there.’’

Not surprisingly, the Mets’ plan is to treat Santana with kid gloves. He needs to throw again and pitch batting practice before getting into an exhibition game. Usually the first exhibition is 30 pitches or two innings, and there’s no reason to think the Mets would deviate. Normally, pitchers make six starts and up to 30 innings during spring training.

The Mets are scheduled to pay Santana $31 million this year, including a $5.5 million option. A $25 million option for 2014 kicks in if he throws 215 innings this summer, and there’s no way the Mets will let him approach that figure.

The Mets are in a difficult position because they need to move on from Santana’s contract, yet at the same time if he were healthy and productive it gives them a chance to have a competitive season. Ideally, the Mets would like to deal him, but the innings clause applies to any team that trades for him and that would make him more than just a rental.

Santana didn’t pitch in 2011 as he was rehabbing from shoulder surgery. His first season with the Mets in 2008 was his only one with the team where he made all 34 starts. He ended last season on the disabled list with lower back inflammation.

In looking at the Santana trade, it is clear the Mets overpaid, both in terms of prospects – although none panned out to have successful major league careers – and obviously in terms of salary. In looking at a trade, one must also consider the circumstances at the time.

In 2008, the Mets were coming off a historic season in which their bullpen collapsed and they blew a seven-game lead with 17 to play. The previous season they lost the NLCS in seven games to St. Louis. In both seasons their pitching was suspect and a workhorse was needed.

Both the Yankees and Boston were after him, but pulled out when Minnesota’s asking price was deemed to high. Then GM Omar Minaya said Santana fell back to them and he did because there was no other competition.