Sep 25

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #153; Where’s the incentive vs. Fish?

CHAT ROOM

CHAT ROOM

Tim Redding is pitching for a job in 2010. What are the other Mets playing for? Redding (3-6, 5.25) is 2-2 with a 2.72 ERA in six outings since returning to the rotation, numbers that add up to effectiveness and worthy for consideration as a long-man or fifth starter. A .500 record makes it as a fifth starter, and that’s what he has been over the past month. He gave up two runs in seven innings last Saturday against Washington in more than a quality start. Actually, those are the numbers the Mets are seeking from Mike Pelfrey.

I like Redding as he’s a no-excuse kind of guy. He’s been stand-up and hasn’t thrown his teammates under the bus, which Mets starters would be justified in doing lately considering the offense. Over the last 16 games, the Mets have scored three or fewer runs 10 times. In that span, they have lost 13 games.

It has been draining, said manager Jerry Manuel, who for now, has a vote of confidence for next season.

“The losing is really difficult. It takes a lot out of you,” Manuel said. “You’re not playing for anything, but there is still a level of pride. You try to still give your fans hope that things will be OK.”

With his start tonight, third baseman David Wright will move ahead of Howard Johnson to set the club record for games at third base with 836. Wright enters the series on a 2-for-15 slide. He has batted .200 in 11 games against the Marlins this year.

The Marlins lead the season series 10-5.

Sep 25

Not right for Wright ….

The games are down to a precious few now. Would have loved for it to be this way with each pitch meaning something instead of being one pitch closer to winter. The Mets are in Florida where they could eliminate the Marlins from contention, then go to Washington next week.

Yup, there will be a lot of fannies in the seats the next six games.

WRIGHT: A frustrating miserable season.

WRIGHT: A frustrating miserable season.


The Mets, who spoke gallantly of their expectations in April, and of turning it around in July, spoke of pride and salvaging their season – maybe even .500 – at the beginning of the month.

They can’t even speak of that now after 23 of their past 31 games.

“It’s obviously been a disappointing season,“ Wright said. “At the end of the year, I’ll try to look back and make some improvements, clear my mind and get ready for next year. But it’s obviously been a grind. There’s no other way to explain it.”

Even Wright, who tries to be as optimistic as possible, said ready for this root canal of a season to end: “There’s not many positives we can take away from this year as a whole. It’s not a learning process dealing with failure. I’m ready after that last out to turn the page and get ready for next year, because this hasn’t been fun for anybody. In fact, it’s been very disappointing.”

I disagree with Wright about this not being a learning process. I’m willing to bet he’ll change his mind about that later.

I would hope so, because of all the Mets, he’s the one who must make the most adjustments to his game. Wright has gone from a .300-30-100 player to one hitting 10 homers with 131 strikeouts.

Wright adjusted his approach to taking everything to the opposite field and being more aggressive earlier in the count. Ironically, whenever Wright had problems in the past he cured them by being cognizant of going the opposite way.

OK, part of it could be Citi Field, but mostly it was Wright letting Citi Field get into his head. He conceded to the park from the outset. Another factor is without Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado in the line-up, pitchers could work around Wright more than in the past. And, without Jose Reyes on the bases, he didn’t have that cumbersome problem of getting a lot of fastballs.

Except that one in the head thrown by Matt Cain.

Wright admits it is still on his mind. Next time you see Wright batting from the center field camera you might notice him bailing a bit or twitching at a breaking ball.

When Wright returned from the disabled list Sept. 1 he spoke of confidence in ending the season strong. He has not, hitting just .235 with only five extra-base hits and 26 strikeouts in 22 games.

Sep 17

About Last Night …. Typical

For those of you fortunate enough to have missed the 2009 Mets season, it was neatly wrapped up in last night’s 6-5 loss at Atlanta in another example of creative losing. Yes, the game was the season in one capsule.

Maybe the only thing that didn’t happen was an injury, which brings us to the bottom line: Injuries are part of the game, but you still have to play the game.

And, for a long time now, the Mets have not played the game the right way.

There was lousy starting pitching, with Bobby Parnell giving up four runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings. For all the talk about the Mets leading the NL in hitting with runners in scoring position, they still blow too many opportunities. Last night, they went 4-12 and left 14 runners.

There was Francisco Rodriguez’s sixth blown save in another adventuresome outing. No, Rodriguez didn’t get much help, and threw Daniel Murphy under the bus when he said “that play has to be made.” Then again, if you’re going to make the money K-Rod does, then pitch better. Of the seven hitters he faced, he only threw two first-pitch strikes. He was behind all the time. Couldn’t the results have been different if he were ahead in the count?

Cody Ross scores the winning run on Murphy's error.

Cody Ross scores the winning run on Murphy's error.


And, there was poor fielding, with Murphy making three bad plays in the ninth inning, including the game-winning blunder when he botched Ryan Church’s grounder to enable Cody Ross to score. He should’ve been given two errors on the play.

“I’ve got to make that play,” Murphy said. “I make it 100 times. I booted it and tonight we lost the ballgame.”

Yes, he did, but as often as been the case this year it shouldn’t have come down to one play. Had Murphy come up with a double to lead off the inning, and he was guarding the line, the horror never would have unfolded.

Then again, if the Mets didn’t leave all those runners, it wouldn’t have mattered.

“We had our chances,” manager Jerry Manuel said of the missed scoring opportunities.

The Mets’ league-leading average with RISP is a misnomer because they are 11th in runs scored. Unbelievably, they’ve had 21 runners thrown out at the plate. Razor Shines needs to be evaluated at the end of the season, too. There’s no telling how many games that cost them.

In addition to guys getting nailed, I can’t remember when I’ve seen so many runners unable to score because the hit with a runner on second was an infield hit or a slap job to left where he had to hold. I’m sure there’s a stat somewhere. Then again, I could go through the play-by-play of every game, but I don’t want to get sick. So, that BA with RISP can be a bogus stat, because if you’re not scoring, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.

Let’s go over some of them.

In addition to last night, there was Murphy’s dropped fly in Florida; Sean Green’s WP to score the game-winner in Philly; the Luis Castillo pop-up at Yankee Stadium; blowing a five-run lead in a loss to Pittsburgh; Church’s failure to touch third in LA; losing two games in one week on grand slams; the triple play to end a loss to Philly; the Mike Pelfrey three-balk game.

There are others.

Parnell should have been left in.

Parnell should have been left in.

However, as bad as the Mets played last night, what aggravated me most was taking out Parnell and not giving him a chance to work out of trouble and develop his presence. Look, I’ve accepted a long time ago the Mets weren’t going to do win this season. It was some time in early August when I wrote the remainder of the season should go toward finding answers for 2010.

One of those questions is Parnell. He HAS NOT shown he can handle starting on this level for several reasons. He gets behind in the count too frequently. He had only nine first pitch strikes out of 20 hitters. But, all that’s part of the learning curve. He also doesn’t have command of his secondary pitches.

I don’t like how Parnell has been yanked around. He went into spring training not knowing his role (reliever in the majors or starter in the minors). After being decided he would be a middle-inning guy, out of necessity he was thrown into the eighth-inning role, where he had problems. Then, it was decided he would start.

The Mets were already cooked when the decision was made to put him in the rotation because of injuries to Johan Santana and Oliver Perez. OK, he has to learn on the fly. That’s hard. But, don’t make it more difficult by threatening to remove him after a bad start.

What Manuel is doing is unfair and hurts his confidence more than getting beat. Give him the chance to pitch out of the fourth. It is the only way he’s going to learn. And, speaking of learning, despite his shortcomings as a hitter, Brian Schneider does call a good game, and maybe he should be the one to work with the rookie instead of Josh Thole. Don’t get me wrong, I like Thole, but he’s learning, too.

The point is, Parnell has been forced to learn on the fly, and when that happens, mistakes will be made. The same goes for Murphy, who failed in left and only went to first with the injury to Carlos Delgado. When you have players out of position, this stuff happens.

Of course, this leads us to another point. When all the players went down, the Mets didn’t have the resources on the minor league level to bring up or to trade for help. The cupboard is bare, and that responsibility is on management.

Things aren’t going to get any better soon, and they won’t until the Mets decide what direction they are heading. If it’s rebuilding and evaluating, they are going to take their lumps. If it is to win, well, that’s not going to happen soon, either.

Of all the things that happened last night, what irked me most was Manuel throwing his gum after the Murphy error. Yeah, he’s frustrated, but he just sent the message he’s disgusted with his team and that doesn’t help anybody.

Sep 10

Reyes still wants to play

There are games left to be played, and Mets shortstop Jose Reyes wants to play in them. OK, maybe a few. All right, at least one.

REYES: Wants to take a few swings this year.

REYES: Wants to take a few swings this year.

With the Mets playing out the string, Reyes wants to test his torn right hamstring one more time. The thought of sitting out the winter and not knowing what to expect next spring training gnaws at him. It’s not much the hitting, or fielding and throwing. It’s the all out running. He wants to know if he can air it out between first and third the way he used to.

This isn’t about the Mets wanting to know his health for the sake of testing the trade market, but for Reyes’ peace of mind. By extension, the Mets would breath easier, too.

“I’m going to still try to come back. I’ve been working so hard to come back, so right now I don’t want to say when but I’m still trying,” Reyes said. “I missed so much time. I’d like to come back to get my confidence back and go into spring training with a better idea.”

Reyes has been on the disabled list since May 26 after sustaining a calf injury that was only supposed to keep him out a few days. He has played in only 36 games with a .279 average and 11 steals.

At the time of the injury, the Mets were in second place, a half-game behind Philadelphia. They are 17 back and should be mathematically eliminated in a few days. Even with nothing to play for, manager Jerry Manuel would like to see Reyes out there.

“The more questions we can answer now, the better off we will be in spring training,” Manuel said.

REYES: Not flying so high anymore.

REYES: Not flying so high anymore.


True enough, but Reyes isn’t even doing any baseball drills. The worst case scenario is out there staring at the Mets as if it were in neon. Reyes completely tears out the hamstring, surgery is required and he’s not ready for spring training.

Reyes isn’t ready and the Mets shouldn’t be considering this kind of talk. If the odds are he’ll need the surgery they should do it now and leave nothing to chance.

Another motivation for Reyes to get out there, and it isn’t a good one, although you have to admire his pride, is he’s chapped by criticism – although nobody with the Mets is publicly saying anything – he’s dogging it.

Carlos Beltran’s return, and the possibility of Carlos Delgado coming back. has fueled Reyes’ ire.

“I don’t know why some people think I don’t want to be on the field,” Reyes said. “I live for baseball. I always play baseball since I was little. I love to be on the field. That’s my main goal. If I ready the last week of the season, I’m going to play the last week of the season.”

Aug 11

About last night …. enough is enough.

OK, I understand about the injuries. The Mets are a hurting group and won’t be whole again this season. We probably won’t see Jose Reyes or Carlos Beltran until spring training. The next time we see Carlos Delgado at Citi Field will likely be in a road uniform.

MANUEL: Went to the whip last night.

MANUEL: Went to the whip last night.


Lack of all their parts has cost the Mets a considerable number of their 60 losses, but also damaging has been their often uninspired, lazy, sloppy brand of baseball. Sloppy was on full display in last night’s loss at Arizona.

Manager Jerry Manuel simply told reporters last night, “we were a bad team,” and privately lashed out at several players. Daniel Murphy failed to cover first base on what could have been a double play; instead Anderson Hernandez threw to an empty base. (Not too bright, either.) Angel Pagan didn’t think on two costly outfield plays, one a careless dive and the other an errant throw. Both led to runs.

And, Mike Pelfrey continued to languish in mediocrity. Pelfrey, who had been expected to make significant strides this season, is floating through this season in Oliver Perez-like fashion.

OK, the Mets aren’t whole, but that’s no excuse for playing lazy-thinking and lazy-hustling baseball. Physical errors are part of the game, but errors caused by a lack of concentration or preparation are never acceptable. Never.

Here’s the deal. Before every pitch, a defensive player must ask himself what he would do if the ball were hit to him. He should have a plan. Hustle is admirable, but misplaced hustle, as in Pagan’s dive, is not smart baseball. And, Pagan has made more than his fair share of poor-thinking plays on the bases.

Injuries are one thing, but there have been numerous instances of undermanned and under talented teams winning – and that includes the World Series – by playing fundamentally sound. Not doing so is the first indication a team is packing in a season. It is a sign of quitting, and that’s a reflection on a manager, and Manuel can’t be happy about that prospect.

Believe me, everything will be open to evaluation after the season and that includes the manager. Manuel will be judged more on if he still has the ear and backing of the players than a won-loss record that at this rate will be lucky to be .500.

After chewing on his players, Manuel also blamed fatigue, but that’s his responsibility. David Wright gets only his second rest of the season tonight, but there have been other opportunities to give him a blow. There is simply no reason why fatigue should be an issue if the players are utilized properly. Conversely, there’s no reason why Francisco Rodriguez’s slide can be attributed to rust. Giving regular and consistent workloads to a player is also the responsibility of the manager and coaching staff.

When the story of this season is written, four sentences from Manuel last night will neatly summarize what has been the storyline to too many games this season: “A very poor game. A poor effort on our part. Despite maybe not having what we’d like to have, still it’s the major leagues. We have to perform better than that.”

Says it all, really.

It is true, true character is more revealed in times of adversity than prosperity. And, with the season dwindling away, the Mets still have a chance to salvage something. Their pride and self-respect, or at least a fraction of what is left. The season won’t just be neatly packaged by the injuries, but by the effort in the remaining 50 games.

Those 50 games will also go a long way toward the off-season evaluation process and the quest for jobs next spring.