Apr 09

April 9.10: Chat Room, Game #4 vs. Nationals, Pelfrey’s turn.

Indicators vary, and Jerry Manuel is calling it roughly three weeks to define the good start he said the Mets need out of the gate. Losing two of three to the Marlins is too small of a window.

“Let’s see where we are over the first 20 games,” Manuel said. “That will give us a better indicator if we are off and running or whatever.”

The Mets are counting on Mike Pelfrey to pick up the Mets tonight against the Washington Nationals. That is, of course, if Pelfrey can pick up himself after working with a sports psychologist.

Pelfrey spoke recently about the mental make-up required to pitch in the major leagues, saying most everybody are equal in terms of physical talent, but the difference is the head game.

“At this level, I think every pitcher is pretty gifted,’’ Pelfrey said. “What separates guys is the mental part of the game.’’

Pelfrey’s problem has been losing focus and not mastering his secondary pitches. Pelfrey has tendency to not finish off hitters and consequently doesn’t minimize the damage and lets innings get away from him.

Apr 09

April 9.10: Mike Pelfrey stopper?

Mike Pelfrey stopper? That will be the scenario tonight when the sluggish out-of-the-gate Mets give the ball to the struggling Pelfrey at Citi Field.

After taking a positive step in 2008 when he went 13-11 with a 3.72 ERA, the No. 2 starter Pelfrey took two steps back last season.

Pelfrey went 4-0 with a 4.89 ERA in his first six starts last season, but didn’t win consecutive games in his next 25 starts. He barely won period, going 6-12 with a 5.06 ERA.

“I had a really, really bad year — not what you look for from a No. 2 starter,’’ Pelfrey said. “But I’m better for it now. It was tough struggling every fifth day. But now I feel good, I feel comfortable. I know I’m prepared to have the kind of season they expect from me.’’

If Pelfrey doesn’t turn it around this season the Mets will have to take a serious look at his future with the team. Is he somebody who just won’t make it, or should they get what they can for him.

Pelfrey’s primary problem is he loses focus and often has a difficult time putting away hitters and minimizing the damage in an inning. He’ll lose his command and get up in the zone making him vulnerable to the home run.

He’s not off to a good start this year having been dropped from second to fourth in the rotation after a 0-4 start with a 6.15 ERA in spring training.

The Nationals aren’t exactly cake for Pelfrey. He’s 3-5 with a 3.93 ERA in 12 starts against Washington.

The Nationals are one of the few teams the Mets have had recent success against, winning nine of their last 11 home games, including 7-2 last season.

If you haven’t already, vote in the current poll.

Apr 07

April 7.10: Maine says he’s fine; gets start tonight.

There was a time when John Maine was considered a throw-in from Baltimore in the Kris/Anna Benson trade, but his strong showing at the end of the 2006 season and 15 wins in 2007 gave hope he could evolve into a dependable No. 2 starter.

“No. 2, that’s just a number,’’ Maine said. “I just need to get out there, stay healthy and I believe I’ll be fine.’’

Maine had shoulder surgery at the end of the 2008 season and admitted this spring that he rushed himself back last year contributing to his arm problems.

“I learned a lesson,’’ he said.

At 1-3 with a 7.88 ERA in spring training, it’s hard to defend Maine’s performance other than saying the numbers don’t count and he was working on things. Pitching with a migraine and stomach virus, Maine gave up four runs on six hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings in his exhibition finale against Washington.

(NOTE: Part of juggling the rotation was to avoid the Nationals getting another look at Maine so quickly).

Maine brushed off his performance, saying: “My arm feels fine. Shoulder feels good. That’s the top priority.’’

The numbers haven’t been there, but Maine insists he’s not worried and he’s throwing the ball better than anytime after the 2007 season. He said the ball is just flowing out of his hand.

“I think the last time it came out easy without trying to really force anything was spring training 2008,” Maine said. “I might have been throwing a little harder then, but it’s coming out good.’’

Jan 13

Jan. 13.10: What’s left isn’t good, but ….

Who’s remaining in the free-agent pitching market isn’t good, and it seems as if the Mets are thinking who they currently have is better.

The Cubs want Ben Sheets and appear willing to spend the $12 million or so it would take to get him. He’s good when he’s healthy, worth the coin, but there’s no guarantees he’ll hold up. Ditto with Mark Mulder, who’s talking with Milwaukee.

The Mets waited for the market to come back to them on Joel Pineiro and the pricing might well have. So has the competition to get him: Los Angeles, St. Louis and Washington are linked to him as well as the Mets. Washington also has interest in Doug Davis. Can’t imagine the Nationals getting both, but what if?

That leaves us Jon Garland, Erik Bedard, Jarrod Washburn, John Smoltz, Mike Hampton (been there done that), and Chien-Ming Wang.

There are flaws with all of them, just there are flaws with the Mets rotation, which now has four arms, three of them coming off surgery (Santana, Perez, Maine). They’ll liable to get Garland as their No. 5 and call it an offseason.

Dec 15

Why not the Mets?

CAPPS: Not drawing interest from Mets.

CAPPS: Not drawing interest from Mets.

At 26, and showing solid production and no injury history, the interest has been hot for reliever Matt Capps. Reportedly, a dozen teams have contacted Capps’ agent, but surprisingly not one of them has been the Mets. He’s a free agent because Pittsburgh did not offer arbitration.

With the bullpen in need of repair, one would think the Mets would be all over this. They are not.

Agent Paul Kinzer called the interest in Capps as “enormous.” Capps has said he’d like to pitch for the Cubs, but the field includes the Yankees, Orioles, Nationals, Marlins and Rangers. The reported asking price is at least $3 million a season. He has closer experience and would be ideal for the Mets’ set-up role.