Aug 24

Mets Chat Room; Dickey hopes to continue surprise season.

One of the few bright spots to another disappointing season goes tonight at Citi Field, where the crowd expects to be slim.

Game #125 vs. Marlins

R.A. Dickey (8-5, 2.41) will be starting for the Mets, but he’ll go against Cy Young candidate Josh Johnson, who is 7-1 lifetime against the Mets.

Also making it tough for Dickey is the Mets’ lackluster offense, which has scored three of fewer runs in 10 of its last 13 games. Once dominant at Citi Field, the Mets have 10 runs to show for in their last seven games here.

With a little support, Dickey could easily have at least 12 wins, which would tie him with Mike Pelfrey for the club lead. Since joining the Mets’ rotation, Dickey has made a quality start in 14 of 18 games. In his last eight starts since the All-Star break he’s pitched to a 1.99 ERA, but the offense is giving him 1.99 runs a game in that span to leave him with a 2-3 record.

In his last start, Dickey gave up a game-tying homer with one out in the ninth inning at Houston in a game the Mets eventually won in 14 innings.

Since Johnson presents a formidable foe, Dickey must be at his best tonight. He is 5-1 with a 1.22 ERA at Citi Field.

Aug 24

Can’t see Warthen surviving, either.

The Mets’ starting pitching is decidedly better than it was last year at this time, but I don’t think it will be enough to save Dan Warthen when Jerry Manuel gets the ax, presumably within days after the end of the regular season.

Incoming managers prefer to name their own pitching coach and staff. To have a staff thrust on a new manager is unfair and puts him at a disadvantage. There’s always the underlying thought  if the pitching coach stays he’s really the GM’s guy. The new manager could interview from the old staff as a courtesy, but there are no guarantees.

That coaches’ contracts expire after the season – unlike that of GM Omar Minaya – should make the transition easier. If Manuel goes as expected, it will mean five managers this decade, hardly a bastion of stability. They’ve also had three general managers during that span to further indicate this is franchise without stable direction.

So, they start again with a new manager and pitching coach.

While the rotation has improved, there’s not enough of an imprint by Warthen to make a difference for these reasons:

1) John Maine: Calling one of your pitchers a “habitual liar,” is not good business. Although it turned out Maine was injured, the process of letting him go out there when he didn’t have it to throw five pitches lost the player, and might have damaged Warthen’s ability in the clubhouse. The team had rebound hopes for Maine but he never made any progress and then came the injury.

2) Oliver Perez: While this is probably unfair with the assumption Perez is a lost cause, Warthen did have two years to work with him without positive results.

3) Mike Pelfrey: Kudos for the fast start, some questions for the slide. There was also last year. Pelfrey, despite showing signs of coming out of it, remains an enigma.

4) The Eighth Inning Guy: All season the Mets have had troubles finding somebody for the eighth inning. A lot of guys have pitched there, but nobody has taken hold of the job. While Manuel will get roasted for this, Warthen must share responsibility.

5) Burning out the bullpen: Manuel kept riding the hot horse until he drops. Somewhere, the pitching coach has to do a better job of monitoring the bullpen arms to keep everybody fresh.

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.

Aug 16

Looking for a silver thread ….

The Mets are 10 games behind Atlanta and below .500. They have an upcoming schedule at Houston – which is playing better since the Roy Oswalt trade – and Pittsburgh – which always plays them tough. This is their last chance to make up some ground and bring interest into September.

Frankly, while I doubt they’ll make a real run, there could be some interesting ball ahead.

Their pitching, supposedly the weak link entering the season, has been surprisingly good, and if not for Mike Pelfrey’s July slide it would be good enough to have them in contention. What has been dismal, and has since the beginning of the season has been the offense. Also weak has been the bullpen.

As the season slowly fades into disappointment and winter, let’s take a moment to look at some of the positives through 117 games:

1) The record. Seriously. Last year on this date they were 55-62 and sinking fast. David Wright had just been plunked and would be rendered useless for the rest of the season. They have made improvement and with a full season from Carlos Beltran and a productive year from Jason Bay, they’d be over .500 and within spitting distance even with their bullpen woes. Hey, you take your positives when you can.

2) Johan Santana. We’re looking at 15 victories easily with a little run support. There was a brief four-game stretch when we were wondering about his fastball and whether he was still an ace. Well, he is. There are times when I wonder if he regrets coming here, but he’s the ultimate professional and will never show it. The Mets are lucky to have him, and hopefully the younger pitchers in the rotation are learning from him. Eventually, there will be a decline, but not now.

3) Angel Pagan. He began the season behind Gary Matthews, but has evolved into the Mets’ most reliable offensive performer. He’s the best they have with RISP, has some pop, can steal a base, and has surpassed Beltran as the team’s best center fielder. What Pagan showed last year was no fluke. This is a player the Mets can build around.

4) Ike Davis. He wasn’t supposed to be here until late in the season, perhaps September, but has become one of the NL’s premier’s rookies. He hits for power and should finish with over 20 homers and plays a sparkling first base. Davis has made Daniel Murphy a footnote. First base will be his for years to come.

5) Josh Thole. Another young player who arrived ahead of schedule. The pitchers like throwing to him and he’s not an easy out at the plate. Rod Barajas is coming back, but the position is Thole’s to keep. The time he’s getting now will only help him in the future.

6) Jon Niese. The question as the fifth starter going in, Niese has become a dependable starter, perhaps the No. 2 with Pelfrey being erratic. He’s not afraid to challenge hitters and works quickly and efficiently and with remarkable poise. He’s getting more adept at making adjustments within the game. He was in demand at the trade deadline, but the Mets were wise to say no.

7) R. A. Dickey. The other shoe has yet to drop for Dickey. He’s been impressive from the outset, but none more so than rebounding against the Phillies after the same team hammered him the previous week. That’s hard to do. The way things are going, it wouldn’t surprise me if he led the team in victories before it is all over. The Mets still need to add a starter in the offseason, but not to replace Dickey.

8) Hisanori Takahashi. The numbers are night and day between Takahashi the starter and the reliever. Forced into the starter’s role, he performed admirably before being exposed. He’s great one time through the order and that should be his role. Hopefully, Pat Misch will step in and allow Takahashi to do what he does best.

9) Bobby Parnell. Still a work in progress, but he’s made strides since last season when he was yanked around between roles. I believe Parnell has what it takes to develop into a solid set-up man. The experience he’s getting now can only bring hope.

10) Mike Pelfrey. I mean the pre-July Pelfrey. For two months he was better than one could have imagined, working with confidence and command of all of his pitches. Then came July, but has last two starts have been much better, an indication he might have learned from his slide. Of all the things I’m anxious to see during the final six weeks the most is whether Pelfrey can rebound completely. It would say a lot about his maturation process if he can take something out of his adversity.

11) Ruben Tejada. There’s no questioning his defense, and although he’s not hitting now he showed some glimpses early. The Mets played with energy when he was in the lineup replacing Luis Castillo when the latter was on the disabled list. I think the Mets will be in good hands when he finally takes over for Castillo.

12) Jose Reyes. If nothing else, the Mets finally learned Reyes is a leadoff hitter and nothing else. He’s lost focus at times this season, but he’s overcome his injury problems and the team still thinks highly enough to want to sign him to an extension. Perhaps the focus will always be a problem, but when he’s on his game he’s still a dynamic presence at the top of the order.

13) David Wright. Despite a horrible pace for 176 strikeouts, which must come down, he’s also on pace to hit 24 homers and drive in 107 runs, showing an improvement over last season’s power outage. Wright has been streaky all season, but he’s still the best this franchise has to offer.