May 15

Mets Notebook: Josh Thole, Kirk Nieuwenhuis

Terry Collins said this afternoon Josh Thole has been headache-free for several days and is expected to go on a rehab assignment before he’s activated from the disabled list. The Mets haven’t had a drop off defensively and the pitchers like throwing to Mike Nickeas. However, Nickeas isn’t much of an offensive threat.

Lefty reliever Tim Byrdak is on pace to make over 90 appearances which could force the Mets’ hands and have them seeking another lefty reliever.

Terry Collins said Kirk Nieuwenhuis is feeling more comfortable. He feels as if he belongs. As I wrote earlier today, I believe the Mets’ first option is to rotate Nieuwenhuis when Jason Bay is ready to come off the disabled list.

In what is the least guarded secrets, MLB will announce the Mets to get the 2013 All-Star Game.

In scanning the box scores, I wonder how much the Mets now regret not signing pitcher Derek Lowe, who is winning big for Cleveland. You’ll recall the Mets eschewed the chance to sign Lowe and instead gave Oliver Perez $36 million over three years.

The tarp is off the field, and here’s the Mets’ lineup for tonight:

Andres Torres, cf

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, lf

David Wright, 3b

Lucas Duda, rf

Daniel Murphy, 2b

Ike Davis, 1b

Ronny Cedeno, ss

Mike Nickeas, c

Dillon Gee, rhp

 

Apr 23

Mets Doing Wise Thing With Johan Santana

Johan Santana didn’t last two innings in his last start, so did he really need to be pushed back from today’s start?

Absolutely.

Terry Collins said he’d take every opportunity to give Santana extra rest when he could and this was the ideal thing to do simply based on the probability of lousy weather. The forecast is rain throughout the day, so the odds are the Mets might not get in both games of their doubleheader today against the Giants. They might not even get in one game.

However, Collins didn’t want to take the chance of wasting Santana today by having him sit through a long delay and not being able to bring him back. The bonus in pushing back the rotation is it also keeps Mike Pelfrey from pitching against the Marlins, a team that owns him.

The Mets have learned a lot about Santana durning his rehab from shoulder surgery, but what they don’t know is how he’ll respond after starting and his ability to come back from a long delay. And, with the weather also cooler, there’s no sense in taking this risk.

With the Giants not coming in again this season, the doubleheader was the only option. However, if the games get bagged today they’ll have to play one anyway. This is another problem with the unbalanced schedule, which is a byproduct of interleague play.

What I don’t understand is why MLB scheduled the Giants in this early in the first place. The weather is always suspect this time of year, so why schedule a team that won’t come in again, or one that is three time zones away? With fewer and fewer off days in the schedule, there should be more foresight in the scheduling.

Keep April within the division, or no farther away then the Central Time Zone. That way, a team has to travel no more than two hours on an off day to make the game up. Just common sense.

 

Mar 13

Pelfrey ripped again; Tejada injured.

Mike Pelfrey said he felt he was better today against the Cardinals than in his last start. Can you imagine what would have happened if he felt worse?

Pelfrey gave up four runs on six hits – including two homers – in 4 1/3 innings this afternoon. Once again, Pelfrey’s problem was a flat sinker. One of his problems last season was a lack of movement on his pitches, and movement is far more important than velocity.

Another down note was Ruben Tejada scratched with a groin injury. He’ll miss tomorrow’s game, also.

Terry Collins got testy after learning of Tejada’s injury. I brought this up yesterday and it is worthy of another mention … the Mets need to re-evaluate their off-season and pre-game conditioning and warm-up programs.

MLB.com reported 14 of 55 Mets have been on an injury report this spring, which is roughly 25 percent, an unusually high number.

 

Feb 29

It’s not going to end here

They are still talking about adding an extra wild card , but it won’t end there. The one-game playoff is bound to drag on to three games, then five ….

I realize the old format will never be again, but the more you add to the playoff format the more the sport is diluted. The season drags on long enough as it is and this won’t help matters. What if there’s two teams vying for the final seed? Do you add another game?

The suggested format would allow the three division winners first-round byes, but what if one of the wild cards has a superior record to a division winner.  That’s not entirely fair, either.

As it is, the integrity of the regular season is compromised because of interleague play the unbalanced schedule as not every team runs the same race to October. Unfortunately, I never see them doing away with interleague play although it is not nearly the success Major League Baseball portrays it to be. Interleauge play is compelling in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, but other than that, who really cares?

Yes, they’ll show up in Pittsburgh when the Yankees are in town, but there’s nothing exciting about seeing the Royals or Mariners come in. There’s just not the draw MLB executives believe.

Sadly, as long as Bud Selig is commissioner, interleague play is here to stay.

If they really want to do something about the integrity of the regular season, and by extension, the playoffs, here’s a system that could work.

I’d do away with the division format and simply have the two leagues. If they insist on interleague play, they could structure it where every team plays the same schedule. The same schedule promotes fairness.

From there, I’d take the top four teams and seed them so one plays four and two plays three. That would  be a fairer and more equitable solution.

 

 

 

Feb 20

Welcome back

I always loved this day, when pitchers and catchers report. Actually, the first day of spring training has become blurred with players reporting earlier each spring. It seems the week after the Super Bowl is when  players begin to trickle in. David Wright has been working out in PSL for over a week now.

This is the day when enthusiasm and optimism run high for the summer ahead. This spring that has been tempered for the Mets with the Wilpon’s financial crisis and the passing of Gary Carter. Incidentally, of all the tributes to Carter, the one by the Montreal Canadiens was my favorite. Their players wearing No. 8 and Carter’s image on the ice were truly memorable.

I digress for a moment, but it reminds me how much I miss Montreal as a stop on the tour. I always used to like visiting that city. Historical town, great places to eat and the obvious European flavor.

I always thought Montreal got a raw deal from MLB. Yes, attendance was dwindling, but how could that have been avoided with MLB threatening to leave for years until the city built a new stadium. Just shabby.

The Mets, you’ll recall ponied up most of the money for Citi Field, and despite getting $20 million a year in naming rights, the new stadium hasn’t provided either the payday or the home field advantage the team sought.

Attendance was just over 2 million last season, and that is the first of my top issues facing the Mets as their 50th year in existence begins:

Q1. Will the Mets draw over 2 million?

A. The debate isn’t whether the Mets have enough to contend with the Phillies and Braves, but if they have the talent to keep pace with the Nationals and Marlins? They don’t on paper or the field and are projected to finish fifth in the NL East. With a brutal April schedule, they could be trailing by double digits before the weather warms. If the Mets aren’t competitive, there’s no reason to head out to Citi Field and the attendance will drop, and with it will come a further drain on their finances. Never mind winning, but the Mets need a competitive, exciting team for the turnstiles to keep clicking.

Q2. Will the Mets win their court case?

A. Seventeen days prior to Opening Day we should get an idea how much the Mets could be on the hook for because of the Ponzi scandal. Win or lose, there will be an appeal, but should they win there’s a sliver of hope the Mets might be able to add talent at the trade deadline if they are competitive.

Q3. Will David Wright be traded?

A. I don’t believe GM Sandy Alderson for a second when he says how good the team the Mets are will have no bearing on whether Wright is dealt. If they are playing beyond expectations and people are coming out, the Mets can’t afford to trade Wright and expect fans to keep showing up. If they are stinking, who can’t envision Wright not being traded?

Q4. What’s to become of Johan Santana?

A. He’s throwing in PSL, but there’s still no timetable for his return. If he comes back or not, he’ll still cost the Mets close to $25 million. It’s a pipe dream to hope for Santana being able to pitch and be healthy enough for the Mets to trade him. The odds don’t favor a complete recovery from his type of shoulder surgery. It’s a long shot, but the Mets are hoping he’s good enough physically to give them enough starts to create interest.

Q5. Will they get anything out of Jason Bay?

A. With the fences moved in 15 feet, perhaps Bay can’t help but hit for some more power. Bay has done nothing to warrant his contract and outside the fences, there’s no reason to believe anything has changed this season.

 

On the first day of spring training, you’d like to see the team’s primary questions divorced from the Mets’ financial problems, but that’s being naive. What happens on the field is directly linked to the Wilpon’s bank accounts. That’s just the way it is.

I’ll be back later with more baseball specific questions surrounding the team.