May 06

Pagan still ailing; out indefinitely.

They wouldn’t be the Mets without a bit of bad news.

PAGAN: Still hurting. No timetable on return.

Angel Pagan was supposed to be activated tomorrow, but is reporting pain in his left oblique muscle and returned to New York today to be examined. The team said he’ll be out indefinitely.

“Knowing we were hoping that he would be here tomorrow, he just felt that he wasn’t ready for that,’’ Mets manager Terry Collins said today.

Pagan went on the DL, April 22, with a strained left oblique.

Jason Pridie has been playing centerfield, and has done well defensively, but does not pose the offensive threat of Pagan. The Mets’ offense has been stagnant all season, and Pagan has not lived up to the expectations after his break out year in 2010.

Pagan started the season batting second behind Jose Reyes, and the Mets have unsuccessfully used several players to fill that void.


May 06

Bay needs to produce – and now.

BAY: He can't be smiling now.

I am not a big stats guy. They can be telling, but also misleading. With some numbers, you can twist them into meaning anything you want.

That’s not the case with Jason Bay, whose numbers have been fundamentally telling and just plain bad. He  hit six homers with 47 RBI while batting .259 last season. I am aware of the injuries and having a slow start, but he had enough of a window – 401 plate appearances over 95 games – to understand that’s terrible.

An  injury this spring  has limited him to 11 games and 48 plate appearances, but has only .256, with one homer and three RBI to show for it. Not a great window, but one that says it can’t go on like this much longer.

Of all his numbers, his 14-5 strikeouts-to-walks ratio is most telling. There’s not much plate presence.

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May 04

Reyes trade rumors simmering again.

There’s buzz today after Jose Reyes’ stellar game Tuesday night when he reached base six times, unbelievably three times on walks.

REYES: We like his uniform dirty.

It is the kind of game the Mets routinely expect from Reyes, but one not often received the last two seasons because of a variety of injuries.

That the Mets couldn’t parlay such a performance into victory says that as potentially potent Reyes can be, this team still has weaknesses it must fix before it can return to contender status. These are holes that can be filled in part by what Reyes might bring back in a trade.

Bottom line: The Mets aren’t a contender now with Reyes and likely won’t be one if they deal him without making complementary deals.

Reyes passed the audition in the eyes of the San Francisco Giants, who, like every other team are discussing their options, of who interests them and whom they are willing to offer.

It is too early for serious trade discussions, but not too early to laying the foundation for when things heat up in June and July.

The Giants have not made and offer to the Mets for Reyes, but are doing their research. For the Giants, they will undoubtedly ask for a negotiating window, but if denied, San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean should have already decided whether he will sacrifice one of their top pitching talents or prospects to acquire Reyes as a rental.

From the Mets’ perspective, general manager Sandy Alderson must decide whether the return off prospects from the Giants, or Boston, or whomever wants Reyes, is greater than the draft picks they would get should the All-Star shortstop leave via free agency.

Alderson wanted to see two things from Reyes before deciding the 27-year-old shortstop’s fate in New York. The first was Reyes’ health, especially his legs and the first returns have been positive, although I find it puzzling as to why he didn’t try to steal second late in the game.

Secondly, Alderson wanted to see Reyes perform and for the most part he has with a .325 average and 11 steals in 29 games, but there were concerns about his on-base percentage before it surged to .377 last night. Still, an elite leadoff hitter, as Reyes is supposed to be, should be north of .400.

Reyes’ career on-base percentage is .336 and he has averaged 81 strikeouts and 51 walks a year during his career. The latter two numbers need to be reversed.

Reportedly the asking price for Reyes is a package of $100 million-plus, which Alderson said the Mets can afford, although they might not have much left for little else. With Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and likely Francisco Rodriguez off the books there should be plenty of money left after this season to bring back Reyes if they really wanted.

The Mets don’t appear inclined to push things with Reyes. Alderson said he’s not adverse to talking contract during the season, although Reyes has said to the contrary.

Alderson still has time to see if Reyes remains healthy and productive. Whether Reyes stays or not, the Mets will receive something in return.

What they really must decide is if they want Reyes instead.


May 02

Mets win, NY wins, US wins.

I woke up around 6 , turned on the TV and he was still dead.

The flag endures.

Osama bin Laden is dead, and it will be one of those moments that  you’ll always remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news. For those who learned on ESPN last night, it was reminiscent of hearing John Lennon was murdered while watching Monday Football.

I was home channel surfing when I heard. I called a few friends and became mesmerized by the images on the screen. Just like when watching the Japan earthquake, Katrina, Columbine, and, of course, September 11. There is no script to history. It just relentless attacks us and grabs us by the scruff of the neck and shakes. It shook me to about 4 in the morning.

Flipping back to the Mets game, where it was tied in the ninth, 1-1 — 9-1-1. You don’t find irony or symbolism like that too often. It was  inspiring to hear the crowd spontaneously chanting, U-S-A, U-S-A. Sometimes the chant sounds forced and cliche. Not last night.

“I don’t like to give Philadelphia fans too much credit. But they got this one right,” said David Wright when asked about the chanting.

Yes, the Mets won, but the crowd reaction is what we’ll remember and take with us, much as we do the images of that day.

I was covering the Yankees at the time and took the weekend off to move to New York from Maryland. I was on the Jersey Turnpike just north of the Philadelphia exit when the planes hit the towers. Because all the bridges were closed what was normally a five-hour trip became 11. My movers were volunteer firefighters. My furniture didn’t arrive for several more days.

That week was spent covering workouts at Yankee Stadium and watching the Shea Stadium parking lot used for a staging ground for the EMS workers. It was inspiring to see Bobby Valentine and his Mets, in uniform, help the workers load trucks.

And, when the games finally resumed, we witnessed one of the most memorable home runs in New York history, Mike Piazza’s drive that beat the Braves. The Mets and Braves were mortal enemies at the time, and their display of unity that night was another memory. It was another example of how sports can be unifying.

So much has happened in the ten years since, and we’ve changed personally and as a nation in so many ways, and for a baseball writer it goes well beyond the joys of traveling, from the pat downs to the long lines to the general uneasiness of strangers.

I live in a small town in Connecticut, and the fallout hits here, too.

What small town doesn’t have a 9-1-1 Memorial? Who among us doesn’t know someone lost in the attacks and the subsequent military actions in the Middle East? The failing economy is a byproduct of that day, and with it the foreclosure signs, layoffs and stress of trying to make ends meet. Who among us doesn’t cringe when filling up our tanks and wonder when things will ever get back to normal.

Or, is this normal?

I hope you’ll share with us what you were doing that day.

Apr 17

Mets stop slide behind Gee, Thole.

Well, you didn’t think they’d lose them all, did you?

GEE: Gives Mets solid start

The Mets snapped their seven-game losing streak this afternoon behind the strong pitching of Dillon Gee and timely hitting of Josh Thole to beat the Braves, 3-2.

Gee was brought up from Triple-A Buffalo and Thole was elevated to second from eighth in the batting order, and for one afternoon at least all seemed right in the Mets’ universe.

Gee had a rough travel day that included his luggage not arriving, so he had to borrow a glove and spikes. He was called up to replace the disabled Chris Young, and given the state of the Mets’ pitching he should get another start Friday in New York against Arizona. Thole will likely stay in the two hole for a while.

One of the interesting things to come out of the day was the news the Mets considered bringing up Jenrry Mejia to start over Gee. Mejia has been pitching well in the minors, but wisely GM Sandy Alderson eschewed the temptation of Mejia’s crackling fastball to allow him to continue to grow on the farm.

Using Mejia for this start would have come across as a panic move and been reminiscent of a decision from the Omar Minaya era. As bad as the Mets have been lately, it’s still only April and way too early to bag their building plans regarding Mejia.

On another positive note, word is Jason Bay is making progress and could be activated from the disabled list Tuesday.