Aug 24

Astros, Mets Kindred Spirits?

They were born the same year, 1962, as expansion teams, and in the Houston Astros’ final National League appearance against the Mets in New York, both teams are playing like expansion teams.

Although linked by their entry, the Mets and Astros never developed an substantive rivalry in these 50 years. Playing in different divisions dulled the potential of a rivalry.  Both had long stretches of mediocrity, or worse, and there were few times they were good at the same time.

Then there was 1986.

The Mets rolled through the regular season. They dominated as manager Davey Johnson boasted at the start of the season. But, the Astros wouldn’t cave and made it a memorable series.

The Mets prevailed, 4-2, but needed 16 innings to oust the Astros in Game 6. They were on the brink of elimination in the ninth inning but rallied for three runs to force extra innings. The teams traded runs in the 14th inning. The Mets scored three in the top of the 16th, but the Astros’ rally fell a run short.

With the win, the Mets avoided facing Astros ace Mike Scott in a Game 7. The Mets could not touch Scott and to this day Keith Hernandez admits he was in their heads. The Mets were convinced Scott was scuffing the ball, but never caught him.

The series that begins tonight is the last time time the Astros will play here as a National League team as they will move to the American League in 2013.

I don’t like the idea of the Astros leaving the league. It will be odd not playing them, but then again things have been odd since interleague play and the unbalanced schedule. It’s just not the same race for every team.

As bad as the Mets have been since the break, going 11-28 and having just been swept by Colorado, the Astros have been a horrid 6-33. Part of it is playing poorly and going with young, inexperienced players, but a lot of that has to do with gutting their team in a July fire sale.

While the Mets have played some incredibly horrid baseball in August, the month did produce a bright spot in the emergence of Matt Harvey and yesterday’s stunning debut by Collin McHugh.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll look back at this month as the time when the Mets found the core of a new pitching rotation.
 

Jul 06

Reasons Why R.A. Dickey Should Start All-Star Game

There are numerous reasons why R.A. Dickey should start Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Kansas City, so it’s hard to understand Tony La Russa not naming him for the honor. He knows the rotation schedule of the other candidates, so what’s he waiting for? If he wants to screw with New York area fans, he’d start A.J. Burnett (9-2), right?

DICKEY: Should star All-Star Game (AP)

Here’s some of the reasons why he should start:

1. At 12-1 with a 2.40 ERA, he has the best record of any NL starter. Washington’s Gio Gonzalez (11-3), St. Louis’ Lance Lynn (11-4) – the obvious choice if La Russa was playing favorites – Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels (10-4) and San Francisco’s Matt Cain (9-3 and a no-hitter) are having the best seasons for a starter. But, Dickey’s recent run is of historic proportions. His recent ten-game winning streak is reminiscent of pitchers like Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver and Bob Gibson.

2. La Russa’s worry about not having a catcher familiar with catching a knuckleball has some merit, but I’m not completely buying it. If he’s worried about a wild pitch or passed ball costing a run, wouldn’t it be better for that to happen in the first or second innings and not late in the game?

3. Dickey is clearly the pitching curiosity of the first half, in either league. Give the fans what they want. Isn’t that what the game is supposed to be about?

There’s not guarantee of how well Dickey will pitch Tuesday. Recent starts against the Yankees and Phillies have not been good, but he’s always long on guts and his story is both inspiring personable.

He’ll only be in for an inning or two, but it should be the first two.

Jul 01

Mets Matters: David Wright Reax, Lineup At Dodgers

David Wright said he was disappointed in not being selected to the NL All-Star team, but would not rip the system. San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval beat him out by over 1.5 million votes.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed,” Wright said before tonight’s game in Los Angeles. “But, Pablo is having a very good year. The fans have spoken. That’s the way that the system is. And let’s not lose sight that it’s a great honor to go, no matter how you get a chance to go.”
Other Mets news and nuggets:
* Jason Bay, on the disabled list with a concussion, will hit off a tee and run for the Mets medical staff Monday in New York. There’s no sense in rushing Bay with the Mets playing so well.
* Reliever Frank Francisco, on the DL with a strained left oblique, will start playing catch Monday. Francisco is eligible to come off the DL next Sunday, but likely will stay on the list until after the break.
* Ike Davis has been hot, but he won’t start tonight against Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw. After struggling so hard, why put him in a bad situation, one compounded by the hitting in the twilight. Considering the funk Davis was in, he did drive in 24 runs for June. Who would have thought that?
* Terry Collins was pleased Johan Santana wasn’t selected to the All-Star team, saying he needed the rest. Santana has one more start remaining in the first half, but as of now has no indication of resting him. “For me, I guess I’m a little selfish,” Collins said. “And I hope he enjoys the break and rests up a little bit, because we’ve got a big second half to go.”
The Mets will try to complete a four-game sweep of the Dodgers with this lineup:
Andres Torres, cf
Ruben Tejada, ss
David Wright, 3b
Scott Hairston, lf
Lucas Duda, rf
Justin Turner, 1b
Ronny Cedeño, 2b
Mike Nickeas, c
Dillon Gee, rhp
Jun 19

What Are The Odds That Jason Bay Is Still With The Mets In 2013?

The hits just keep on coming for Jason Bay, and not in a good way. Yesterday, Terry Collins spoke to reporters before the game and said, “I’m really worried about him”. Bay will be seeing a doctor today and the team will learn if he indeed suffered another concussion, his second in two years. When asked about the possibility of Bay missing the rest of the season, Collins responded, “anything’s possible.”

For now Bay is on the 7-day disabled list, but there is a strong possibility that he may have played his final game of the season. You may recall that Bay missed the final two months of 2010 after suffering his first concussion. A second concussion could keep him out longer than that and the Mets will make sure he doesn’t return until he becomes 100% symptom free.

It’s been one adversity after another for Bay ever since he signed his four-year, $66 million deal with the Mets. Whether it was fighting through his terrible slumps or missing time with a myriad of injuries, there hasn’t been much to smile about since his move from Beantown to New York. The frustration began almost immediately and has only snowballed since he first took the field as a Met in April of 2010.

Gone was his tremendous right-handed power. Gone was his great ability to drive in runs in droves. Gone was the intimidating presence in the middle of the lineup. All the things the Mets craved about him never materialized with his new team. Now at 33 and in the throws of a second debilitating concussion, the question many are now wondering is if we’ve seen the last of Jason Bay in 2012? And one more question to consider is this one: Despite one final year left on his ill-fated contract, will the Mets rely on him again in 2013 or will they simply cut him as they did with Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez?

Nobody wanted to see the Mets sign Jason Bay more than I did before the 2010 season. I kept holding out hope that he would turn it around, but how many years can one hang onto the same unfulfilled hope? I wish Bay a speedy recovery and truly hope he can comeback sooner than can reasonably be expected, but this is a different team than the one we had in 2010. Kirk Nieuwenhuis has emerged, Lucas Duda has become a legitimate power source, and soon Matt den Dekker will be knocking at the door.

Even before this latest setback for Jason Bay, I was already putting the odds of him returning in 2013 at less than 50/50. I’m not looking to kick a player and a great guy while he’s down, but I am curious to know how many of you think Jason Bay will be the Opening Day left fielder for the Mets in 2013.

Get well soon. Jason…

Follow Joe D. at Mets Merized Online

Jun 06

Jason Bay Back For Mets …. Kind Of

Jason Bay was activated from the disabled list this afternoon, but isn’t in the lineup for tonight’s game at Washington. Just as well, as there’s no great desire on my part to see him play. Not yet, anyway.

BAY: Welcome back?

I am leaning toward the camp of a player not losing his job because of injury, but that can’t be absolute. With the Mets, when David Wright goes down he should play again when he’s able. Wright’s track record of production warrants that right, or respect, if you will.

However, in the two plus years Bay has been with the Mets, what exactly has he done to earn that privilege? Has he had a run of production similar to the small window opened by Kirk Nieuwenhuis? I’d say no. With Nieuwenhuis playing, there’s a reasonable expectation of something good happening. You can’t criticize Bay’s defense or hustle. It the combination of both which landed him on the disabled list to begin with. However, the Mets aren’t paying him all that money just for defense. Mix in a RBI once in awhile.

The Mets won’t eat Bay’s contract and release him. His contract makes him impossible to trade. He will play, but does it have to be right away with the team playing so well.

With the Mets facing six games on the road in AL parks in New York and Tampa, there’s an opportunity to gradually ease him back in the DH role. That’s one of the perks – if you can call it that – of interleague play.

I’d go that route first, then work him back into the outfield spotting Nieuwenhuis in left, Andres Torres in center and Lucas Duda in right.  And, with Ike Davis having problems at the plate, I’d even see if Bay can play a little first base.

Afterall, any bit of information is useful, right?

During spring training, Terry Collins said he would be reluctant to move Duda from right to first and Daniel Murphy from second to third, or first, because he wanted them to just concentrate on learning their new positions. Duda has been taking grounders at first, which Collins explained away as keeping him sharp in anticipation of double switches.

Should Bay return and start raking, he should play, but I’d be hesitant to jump right in with him on an everyday basis. I’d make him earn it. You see, there’s a good feeling with the Mets again. They are relevant, with an emphasis on team. That’s why I was disappointed in Davis expressing reluctance in going down to the minors to work on his hitting. That’s why I don’t want to see playing time going to someone simply because of his contractual status.

That would be a step back.