Apr 26

Kirk Nieuwenhuis Leads Gritty Mets Over Miami To Complete Sweep

As today’s game progressed there was a feeling the Mets would do something.  When Miami went to its bullpen it was a lock, even when Heath Bell came on. Bell has never forgiven the Mets for letting him go and the thought was he’d get too amped and overthrow.
That’s what happened and Bell struggled with his command. After walking Justin Turner in a dramatic 13-pitch at-bat to force in the tying run, he looked spent and moments later Kirk Nieuwenhuis delivered a game-winning single to give the Mets a sweep of the Marlins, their third walk-off victory and sixth time they’ve come from behind to win this spring.
What does sweeping the Marlins mean?

NIEUWENHEIS: Delivers in the clutch.

There was concern how the Mets would do with their tough April schedule, but they’ve responded with 11 victories, including sweeps of Atlanta and Miami at home, and winning two of three in Philadelphia.

The Mets have played with grit and heart and showed they can be competitive within the division. They also sent out a message there is life after Jose Reyes.
This afternoon the Mets did nothing against Ricky Nolasco through seven innings, but were kept in the game by Jon Niese, who also worked seven strong innings. The Mets caught a huge break when first base umpire CB Bucknor blew the call and called Reyes out on a 3-6-3 double play. Replays showed Reyes was safe and the Marlins would have had another run.
Apr 26

Mike Pelfrey To Have Tommy John Surgery

Mets doctors and orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews convened today in a conference call and Mike Pelfrey is headed for Tommy John surgery that will end his season.

PELFREY: Done for the year.

Pelfrey underwent a MRI Tuesday that revealed a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. A cortisone injection was discussed, but a shot wouldn’t guarantee the repair of the tear.

“They brought it up and there is a 10 to 20 percent chance it might work and I’d have to have surgery anyway,’’ Pelfrey said after today’s come-from-behind victory over Miami. “At 10 percent I figured `what’s the use?’ ’’

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Apr 25

It Was Wright Or Reyes

Jose Reyes received cheers last night. He also heard boos from the largely uninspired Citi Field crowd. Reyes didn’t exactly pack them in last night, did he?

REYES: Smiles before the boos.

David Wright wasn’t surprised by the lukewarm ovation, saying some people would never forgive Reyes while others understood why he left.

Reyes simply said the Mets never made him an offer, which he took to mean they didn’t want him. There can be no other explanation.

In retrospect, despite lip service to the contrary, the Mets were never going to be in it for Reyes. This is a player who makes his living with his legs, but missed considerable time the previous two seasons with assorted muscle pulls. The first years of his career were the same.

Reyes is a breakdown waiting to happen. He is a high maintenance sports car frequently in the shop.

What Reyes didn’t say last night, was he was in it for the last dollar and the Mets knew they couldn’t swim in that end of the pool. No, the Mets didn’t go out of their way last year to keep Reyes, but he didn’t exactly go out of his way to say he wanted to stay.

It was an inevitable divorce; two parties seeing the end and doing nothing to stay together. Passive aggressive? Not committing is a statement.

The Mets, not knowing their future finances, did know they couldn’t keep Reyes, then re-sign Wright, and then fill in the rest of the pieces. It just wasn’t going to happen. It couldn’t happen with Johan Santana and Jason Bay on the payroll, and after all that money wasted on Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and others. Even with Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez gone, the Mets couldn’t afford to keep both. Not with what they knew at the time.

The choice was Reyes’ flash and speed against Wright’s power and consistency. While both had sustained injuries, the Mets decided Wright might last longer at the top of his game than Reyes, even with the latter having a stellar year and winning the batting title.

Reyes had injuries the previous two years and had already been on the disabled list twice last summer. When he returned the second time, he turned it off as to not risk hurting himself and his chances in the market. In doing so, they had to wonder if this decline would continue and what he would be like at the end of his contract.

Conversely, Wright hurt his back, but it was in making an aggressive play. These things happen. Wright lost his power stroke hitting 14 homers last year, but after 29 the season before. The Mets’ gamble, enhanced by moving in the fences, was Wright could sustain being a power hitter longer than Reyes could be a speed threat.

Power is more marketable, and so is Wright’s personality and grit. Reyes tweaks a hamstring and is out for two weeks; Wright played a month with a small fracture in his back and this year with a broken pinkie.

Wright plays with passion; Reyes plays with flair. Which would burn out first?

The Mets might have gotten their answer when Reyes took himself out of the season finale after bunting for a hit to preserve his batting title. I can’t imagine Wright pulling himself from a game for such a me-first motive. Reyes turned his back on the fans who supported him and came out to say good bye.

Maybe the Mets and Reyes weren’t loyal to each other, but the fans were loyal to Reyes and he dissed them. Mets fans have, and always will have, an inferiority complex. It comes from being the second team in town. And, in leaving, Reyes reinforced that insecurity and told the public Miami’s millions were more important than the Mets’ millions.

He was saying New York wasn’t good enough. Meanwhile, Wright has been saying New York is all he wants.

It really wasn’t a hard decision after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 07

Collins Does A Complete 180 On Tejada

It looks like the injury to Andres Torres has not only led to what will be the major league debut of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, but has also prompted manager Terry Collins to do a complete 180 on how he intended to treat shortstop Ruben Tejada this season.

Going all the way back to a conference call Collins did with bloggers back on February 28th, the Mets manager was very firm on his stance that we would not use Ruben Tejada as the team’s leadoff hitter in 2012.

In response to a question by New York Baseball Digest’s Mike Silva, Collins told us:

“As far as leading off, the one thing this kid is facing right now is replacing Jose Reyes. That’s a huge thing to put on the shoulders of a 21-year-old baseball player. He’s got enough on his mind to replace Jose defensively, let alone to say, ‘you’ve got to get on, you’ve got to get into scoring position because you’re replacing Jose Reyes.’ That’s an awful lot to ask of that young man.”

Terry Collins echoed those exact sentiments later on when he was a guest of Mike Francesa on WFAN:

“No. I won’t put that king of pressure on that kid. He has more than enough on his plate as it is replacing Reyes at short. We need him to go out there and focus on being the best shortstop he can be. That’s his main focus this season and I won’t add to that.”

So here we are, just one game into the season, and Terry Collins has already scrapped the plan to let Tejada play the 2012 season without the added pressure of batting leadoff.

Tejada will now have the dual role of replacing Jose Reyes defensively in the field, and now offensively as the leadoff hitter of the New York Mets as well. Wow. He’ll be doing this under the gaze of tens of thousands of Mets fans who still resent the fact that Jose Reyes is no longer here, and under glaring spotlight of the New York media who will hound him at his locker at the first hint of trouble.

Ironically, I can’t really blame Collins here because Sandy Alderson gave him little choice. The depth on this team is going to be a huge problem all season long. One day in and already our sixth ranked prospect in the system will be debuting in center field today regardless of whether he is ready or not.

The choices at leadoff hitter beyond Andres Torres were who exactly?

David Wright? Daniel Murphy? Jason Bay?

There was no thought given to this situation after Reyes packed his bags for Miami, and even less thought was given when they traded another likely leadoff hitter in Angel Pagan. Torres was a terrible option to bat leadoff right from jump-street, and everybody knew it.

Anyway, the deed is done, the course has been charted and it’s full steam ahead with Nieuwenhuis in center field and Tejada batting leadoff.

All we can do now is hope for a successful outcome, but make no mistake that so far this season, Collins and Alderson are flying by the seats of their pants.