Apr 30

April 30.10: On to Philly.

The Mets didn’t win anything on their recent homestand and they won’t win anything this weekend in Philadelphia.

Neither will the Phillies.

The most important thing coming out of the homestand, and this weekend’s series, is it has made the Mets’ season relevant again. It might have started with the promotion of Ike Davis and ended with perhaps the best 10-game regular season stretch in franchise history, but in between we saw the Mets play alert, aggressive baseball.

We saw the Mets play as they promised us they would. We saw them play as if they wanted our attention.

And, they deserved it.

What I am looking forward to in this series are three games of intense baseball, of a rivalry where the competitive juices are flowing.

After all the promoting it as such, it finally is a rivalry worth paying attention to again. Each one of the games has a special nugget of intrigue.

Tonight is about Jon Niese and how the young pitcher will respond to the pressure of a high profile game. Niese giving the Mets six strong tonight will go a long way toward answering some of their pitching questions. It would also prevent an emotional let down.

After a week-and-a-half of being on an emotional high, tonight is about sustaining. The last thing we want to see is for Niese to get hammered and to lose that good feeling.

Tomorrow, and this is the game I really want to see, is Mike Pelfrey against Roy Halladay. In a season full of tests for Pelfrey, this is another one. Aren’t you curious about seeing him go against an ace?

Sunday it is the stopper, Johan Santana, who would be pitching to either stave off a disappointment or continue the ride. It will be as important a game as you can have in May, and you want your best.

The Mets went 9-1 because they played to their capabilities, but also because they did not try to exceed them. They played within themselves and didn’t try to do something they weren’t capable of doing.

They need that same, level approach this weekend, and if they get it, then it could be the start of a wonderful summer.

Apr 20

April 20.10: Mets Notes: Let’s not get carried away.

Easy does it.

It was only one game and two hits, not enough for them to be fitting him for a statue or anything.

The Ike Davis Era got underway in fine fashion last night, bringing with it an electricity missing during the first homestand. There was a lot to like about Davis’ composure and patience.

For example, on the first hit he worked his way back from down being 0-and-2 in the count.

While there was a lot to like, remember it is only one game, far too early for the Wally Pipp analogies.

As much as I enjoyed watching Davis, the real buzz for me can with Jon Niese, who showed poise and guile working out of trouble.

Niese’s outing was the Mets’ fifth straight solid performance from a starting pitcher, one strong cycle through the rotation. As encouraging as watching Davis was, the bigger picture was another strong game from the rotation.

It has to be that way because wherever the Mets go this season is contingent on their pitching.

I’ll embrace Davis, I want him to do well, but he’s not the final piece to the 2010 puzzle.

NOTES: We should see Jose Reyes back in the lineup tonight. Tired, he asked for the night off to rest his 0-for-17 slide. Since coming back from the DL, Reyes is batting .154, which should shelve this No. 3 talk for awhile. … GM Omar Minaya said Carlos Beltran will go to Colorado this week to be re-examined.

Apr 14

April 14.10: Chat Room, Game #8 at Rockies: Niese trying to stop fall.

Jonathan Niese, stopper? After three straight losses, including an 11-3 bloodletting last night at Colorado, the Mets are depending on the raw lefthander to throw them a life preserver.

Really, after seven games they need saving?

Damn straight. This is a team that’s not too far away from heading into an April freefall.  They aren’t hitting, and let’s not even get into what they are doing with runners in scoring position.

Save two games, they’re starting pitching has been poor. Their bullpen had been good, but it is to the point where soon it will be taxed.

Their 2-5 record is very much deserved. They are off to the slow start they wanted to avoid.

Seasons aren’t won or lost after seven games, but trends can be recognized and what’s happening now isn’t good.

Manager Jerry Manuel said today John Maine will make his next start, but that’s not a question he should be answering this early in the season. He also shouldn’t be answering questions this soon about his job security.

There’s a lot we can talk about tonight.

Apr 09

April 9.10: About Last Night; Niese shows up; offense doesn’t.

Losing two of three to the Florida Marlins, including 3-1 last night, isn’t the fast start manager Jerry Manuel envisioned. The upsetting thing is they could have swept this series with several more hits.

There was one positive to take out of the game, and that’s Jonathan Niese, who gave up three runs in six innings. Niese pitched with composure and efficiency for the most part, something they didn’t get the night before from John Maine. Something to look out for is the Marlins did some first-ball hitting because Niese often started out with fastballs.

Offensively, the Mets picked up where they left off the previous night, not to mention 2009. They left two runners on in the second and fourth innings when they could have made a dent into the game. Just three extra-base hits in their past two games.

When you’re not going to pitch consistently, you need to score. And, you can’t afford to waste good outings when you get them. The Mets were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring positions and left seven, and over the past two games have gone 0-for-10 while leaving 16. Not the ingredients of a fast start.

Tonight against Washington, it will be Mike Pelfrey vs. Garrett Mock.

Apr 08

April 8.10: Chat Room, Game #3, vs. Marlins, Niese gets the ball.

Undeniably the Mets’ pitching is suspect, which Jerry Manuel has finally admitted. He didn’t say the team should have been more aggressive this winter, but reading between the lines you can bet he’d like some help.

After John Maine last night, and the fact he moved around Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez, there’s little doubt to anyone that their pitching is in trouble.

“I think an honest assessment is that we have to be somewhat concerned,” Manuel said. “We had some setbacks and some inconsistencies there last year, so we can’t just assume that that’s going to be lights out. We have some questions there, and hopefully tonight we’ll see where we are at least in part to that particular issue.”

Jonathan Niese gets the nod tonight against the Marlins. Interesting, but Manuel said if Niese gets into trouble he’ll get the chance to work out of it if his pitch count is around 50 or 60.

That’s good to see. Without the chance we’ll never know how good Niese could be.

By the way, I won’t be around for the start of the chat room. I’ve started taking classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights. I should be back around 9 for the last few innings.