Jul 07

Today in Mets’ History: Hunt an All-Star.

HUNT: His card has to be worth more than two bucks.

The Mets will soon host the All-Star Game at Citi Field. However, on this date in 1964, Shea Stadium was home to its only All-Star Game, won 7-4 by the National League.

Second baseman Ron Hunt was the first Met to start an All-Star Game and went 1-for-3 with a single off the Angels’ Dean Chance.

Hunt played with the Mets from 1963-66, then went on to play with the Dodgers (1967), Giants (1968-70), Expos (1971-74) and Cardinals (also in 1974).

Hunt’s baseball legacy was summed up by this quote from him: “Some people give their bodies to science; I give mine to baseball.’’

He had a knack for being hit by pitches, and was plunked 243 times in his career (he had 1,429 career base hits). Incredibly, he was hit 50 times in 1971 while with the Giants. He led the league in that category for seven straight seasons.

HUNT’s CAREER

 

Jun 21

Examining potential Beltran trade.

BELTRAN: Trade deadline approaching.

The question doesn’t appear to be “if,’’ but “when,’’ the Mets will deal outfielder Carlos Beltran.

The physical questions that followed him into the season have seemingly been answered in the positive, which means the Mets don’t have to think solely about dealing with the American League, although there are several interesting possibilities, including Boston, Chicago and Detroit.

The Red Sox could have inside leverage because executive Allard Baird – who interviewed for the Mets’ GM job – was the general manager at Kansas City when Beltran played there. That could help in Beltran waiving his no-trade clause.

In the National League, San Francisco needs offense, as does St. Louis with Albert Pujols injured and out from four to six weeks. Lance Berkman could move to first base to replace Pujols and make room for Beltran in right field.

To move Beltran, the Mets figure to eat a portion of his $18.5 million contract. How much they digest could make it substantially easier to move him. Unless they decide to make a serious run at a wild card – which would have to mean adding players instead of subtracting them – it does the Mets no good to keep Beltran because they would not receive compensatory draft picks as he is not arbitration eligible.

As badly as the Mets want to save salary and add prospects, don’t look for a crosstown move to the Yankees for two reasons, 1) the Yankees’ priority is pitching, and 2) there should be no inclination on the Mets’ part to aid the Yankees.

Should GM Sandy Alderson trade him to the Yankees, it would clearly indicate he doesn’t have a grasp on the lay of the land in New York. The Mets are struggling, both on the field and financially, and the last thing they need is to trade a key player that could put the Yankees over the top.

A trading of Beltran would raise a white flag of sorts, but don’t trade him to a prime antagonist.


 

Apr 21

Your passion lives even if the Mets don’t.

R.A. Dickey throws a knuckleball, and last night he pitched well, but not good enough to win against the Houston Astros. After the game, Dickey threw high heat, not only at himself, but his teammates.

“We have to find a way to be honest with ourselves about what kind of team we are. We can’t just keep telling ourselves, ‘Oh, we’re a better team than this.’ We may not be.’’

There has not been a better analysis of the Mets this season. Maybe not for a long time.

So, let’s be brutally honest.

Their pitching, both in the rotation and out of the bullpen is not good enough to win with in the National League. It might not even be good enough to win with in Triple-A.

Fundamentals, which was supposed to be their upside, has been poor in all aspects. They have not hit for power or in the clutch. They’ve given away too many at-bats both at the plate and in the field.

And last night on the bases was atrocious, from Angel Pagan’s slide at the plate to Jose Reyes being doubled off first in the ninth inning.

It does me no joy to write this, but it is the truth. I don’t see where Jason Bay’s return will provide immediate help.

However, we all knew this heading into spring training. This was supposed to be a bridge year until payroll was cleared the Mets could be able to spend next year.

Payroll will be cleared, but probably nothing significant by the trade deadline, so let’s not expect any flashes at mid-season. Major League Baseball has taken over control of the Dodgers, and who is to say the Mets aren’t next? Who is to say the handpicked selection of Sandy Alderson as general manager isn’t close to the same thing?

Ownership is in a state of crisis, and until that is resolved things will continue to be bleak for the Mets and the crowds thin at Citi Field, where they are a dismal 1-8 for the worst home start in franchise history.

Hell, the 1962 Mets did better than that at the Polo Grounds.

Three weeks into the season and the Mets have five victories to show for their efforts. The Angels’ Jered Weaver has that many by himself.

But, this is your team. You’ve cheered for them in gloomy times before and will pull for them again. That’s what loyal fans do.

All you Mets fans on this blog and the dozens of others that follow your team. All of you who watch on SNY and tune into WFAN, and to those who read the papers every morning. You do so because the Mets are your passion.

And, they are lucky to have you.

 

Apr 04

A good weekend in Florida for Mets; Bay still ailing.

The Mets didn’t win their first road series last year until June. They didn’t win their first on the road against a National League team until August.

That’s just the beginning of a positive first impression to take out of the first weekend for the Mets, a team with lowly expectations.

Take away Mike Pelfrey on Friday, and it was a good weekend for the Mets in Florida as they received strong pitching performances from Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey, questions going in.

“The first game was more of what Josh Johnson did than what we didn’t do,’’ said David Wright. “All in all, it was a good weekend, especially since the last couple of years we’ve had a lot of trouble here. It’s good to get off to a good start. We’re going to have to play just as well in Philadelphia [next series].’’

While nobody is getting carried away by the Marlins series, following the Mets must include finding your silver linings when you can. The Mets didn’t let blowing a ninth inning lead derail them Saturday and they put a team away Sunday, both signs missing from last season.

Chris Young will start for the Mets tomorrow night in Philadelphia, where things are always different.

Meanwhile, Jason Bay’s ribs are still hurting and he hasn’t begun swinging a bat, yet. I wouldn’t be placing any bets on him returning in a week. Also, Jason Isringhausen is feeling discomfort in his back. Just as well he took the extended spring training.

 

Sep 02

Manuel’s status ….

MANUEL: Clock ticking toward the inevitable.

Jerry Manuel told The New York Post the other day he’d love to know his job status for next season. There was a chance of his return, maybe even had the Mets not made the playoffs, if they continued to play as they did in June when they reached a high-water mark of 11 games over .500. Had they made a real run an argument could be made for him.

But, the collapse in July, followed by a month of .500 ball – give or take a game – has done him in. August was especially brutal because the Mets played with disinterest, without passion, without spark. There were extenuating circumstances – there always is – but the general apathy the team has been in the past month greatly reflects on the manager.

He has lost his team.

Several things within Manuel’s control have done him in, headed by his handling of the bullpen. He burns out relievers and isn’t always clear in dealing with the players on their job descriptions. Communication is not his strong point, as evidenced when he said Ike Davis had been spoken to regarding his emotional displays at the plate. When asked about this, Davis had no clue.

David Wright did not know when he’d get a day off. Manuel did not discuss with Jeff Francoeur his status following Carlos Beltran’s return.

Manuel threw John Maine under the bus when he said maybe the best day to pitch him would be on off days. He insisted on three catchers in the National League game which is absurd. Manuel’s handling of Jose Reyes’ oblique strain prior to All-Star break was foolish. He insisted on Jenrry Mejia in the bullpen to start the season when it clearly was not in the best long-term interests of the club.

The list goes on and on.

That there is not one Met saying for publication that the fault is on the players and not Manuel is telling. Nobody is in his corner. More than a few Mets stood up for Willie Randolph, while at the time Manuel was telling the brass he’d be interested in the job.

Add it all up, and the Mets are 190-198 under Manuel in his two-and-a-half  years. For the fourth straight year the Mets will not make the playoffs, for the second straight year September will be about showcasing players for the following season.

This time, the Mets will be showcasing players Manuel will never get to manage.