Nov 11

Perez has the right idea ….

Newsday’s Ken Davidoff is one of the sharpest baseball writers around, and he has this story today that Oliver Perez is working hard in Arizona at the Athletes Performance Institute, which is a comprehensive fitness camp.

Call it marine training for athletes, with a focus on nutrition, metabolic testing, cardiovascular work, drills and media training.

PEREZ: Getting his head on straight.

PEREZ: Getting his head on straight.


Perez hasn’t always been in the best physical or mental shape, and the thinking here is if he can master the latter he’ll do the same with the former, and consequently results could be seen on the mound. It’s worth a try, and it is a sign Perez is taking last season’s wash out seriously.

Among the Institute’s alumni are Curt Schilling, Justin Morneau, Carl Crawford, Kevin Youklis and Dustin Pedroia.

Said Red Sox manager Terry Francona during spring training in 2008: “These guys have access to so much. They take advantage of it and when they come in [to camp], it makes the baseball part easier.”

Perez, 3–4 with a 6.82 ERA in 14 starts last season, has always been an uncashed check when it comes to his performance. The potential has always been greater than the production, and the Mets gambled $36 million over three years that might change.

So far it hasn’t, but the first step in correcting the problem is in its acknowledgement.

Nov 10

Minaya faces rough road ahead ….

Mets general manager Omar Minaya faces a daunting task in rebuilding the Mets, and let’s face it, tweaking will not get it done.

MINAYA: Looks perplexed.

MINAYA: Looks perplexed.


“Some years are better than others. I think we have to find a way to slug more,” said Minaya in defining the market and one of his team’s needs.

Signing a guy like Matt Holliday or John Lackey won’t get it done. Signing both won’t get it done, either.

For the Mets to become the team they have promised they will be, there’s tweaking in some areas, hoping in a few more, and throwing money at several others in what has been described as a less-than-stellar free-agent market.
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Oct 30

Thoughts on Pedro the teacher ….

Watching Pedro Martinez last night got me to thinking about his tenure with the Mets. He was brought in for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is his supposed influence on the younger pitchers. Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and John Maine all have physical skills to be good, but something is lacking.

1 + 1 = 3 to some Mets pitchers.

1 + 1 = 3 to some Mets pitchers.


I know Martinez worked hard with Perez, as has Johan Santana the past two seasons, but nothing has sunk in. At least it sure doesn’t look like it. If you can’t learn from those two, who can you learn from? In this case, I’m more inclined to think the student has a learning disability than I am a problem with the teachers.

I’m not sure Perez is ever going to get it. I’d like to unload his contract, but who would be crazy enough to pay him that much money? Ooops, never mind.

Pelfrey’s erratic nature has me leaning in that direction, too. In comparison to some of the other young pitchers in the game, Pelfrey is way behind in his mound make-up. All too often this season Pelfrey unraveled after several good innings. He doesn’t have the ability to command his secondary pitches and adjust under pressure.

Of the three, Maine appears to me to have taken a step back from his 15-win season, but that’s more attributable to injuries than anything else.

Oct 29

Where should the Mets throw money?

As many of you would like to see the Mets throw money at all their issues – starting pitching, left field, first base and catcher – veteran watchers of the team know they aren’t the Yankees and can’t address them all.

Some reports have the Mets focusing on left field – read Matt Holliday – but I still see the team needing to focus on its starting pitching. There’s no lamenting watching Pedro Martinez pitch Game 2 of the World Series tonight as his tenure in New York ran its course.

Mets on their butts again next year without pitching.

Mets on their butts again next year without pitching.


However, there are no definitive reports on John Maine, Oliver Perez and Mike Pelfrey. Maine finished the season strong, which is encouraging, but there’s no guarantees; Perez is coming off surgery, but they haven’t been able to give him a heart or head, not to mention control; and Pelfrey is an enigma. Plus, there are a handful of candidates as the fifth starter.

Go ahead, sign Holliday. Go ahead, add a catcher. But, if the Mets don’t fix their pitching they’ll be watching the Phillies again next October.

I’m still saying the greatest need is on the mound.

Oct 04

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #162; A sadness about the day.

In each of the past two seasons, the Mets faced their season finale with hope and a definable tension. The Mets would either extend their season or see it end in a frustrating ball of fire. They flamed out both in 2007 and 2008 to suddenly face the winter.

There’s none of that today.

This afternoon at Citi Field comes the official death of a season long since dead. It is a parent or relative who succumbs after a long illness. There’s almost a sense of relief at the death, that most of the grieving has been done and it is time to for a new chapter.

The end of a sports season marks a passage of time, and like many passages there’s a sadness because it represents unfulfilled dreams and the leaving behind of something special. There’s nothing quite as sad as the death of dream.

MANUEL: He didn't inspire.

MANUEL: He didn't inspire.


Despite how each of the last two seasons ended, there was hope and optimism this spring in Port St. Lucie. This was Jerry Manuel’s first full season as Mets manager and with it a return of hope this summer would be different.

There was attention paid to fundamentals, which was to provide a security blanket that even if there would be no power the team would somehow score, and with their pitching that would be enough. Surgery was to have healed John Maine’s aching shoulder and Mike Pelfrey would continue his progress.

Most importantly from a pitching perspective, the bullpen, the Achilles heal the past two years, was fixed and was to be stronger with Francisco Rodriguez than it ever was with Billy Wagner.

PELFREY: He took a step back.

PELFREY: He took a step back.


Offensively, Carlos Delgado was back hitting home runs and Daniel Murphy was to be the answer in left field. David Wright and Jose Reyes, the homegrown part of the core, were to get better. Carlos Beltran would simply produce as usual.

The Mets entered the season with a chip on their collective shoulders after Cole Hamel’s choke comments. Yes, this was to be a turnaround season for the Mets, and it was going to unfold in a brand new home.

It didn’t happen that way.

The seasons of Maine, Pelfrey and Oliver Perez were a combination of ineffectiveness and injury, and injury also caused the unraveling of the bullpen. Bobby Parnell was good and bad in a variety of roles, and it remains to be seen whether his psyche is a permanent casualty. Rodriguez was not as good as advertised, and those who accepted his signing with caution were unfortunately rewarded in perhaps being right. We do not know how healthy he is and who doesn’t anticipate unsettling offseason news?

Of all the injuries, losing Reyes was the most harmful as it took away the team’s offensive catalyst. What should have been a few days on the bench turned into a lost season. It’s still not over for Reyes as he faces surgery and an uncertain recovery program.

WRIGHT: Was off before the beaning.

WRIGHT: Was off before the beaning.


Beltran and Delgado were lost for large chunks of time, as was Wright’s power stroke in a frustrating twist. Wright was never with us mechanically this season from a run production standpoint, but somehow he managed to hit over .300. He also managed to strike out over 130 times. He faces a long road in trying to become the player he once was. As far as Delgado is concerned, well, we’ll never see him in a Met uniform again.

Unless the Mets hit five home runs today, they will be the only team in the major leagues to hit less than 100 homers this season. And, about those fundamentals that was supposed to keep the team afloat? We didn’t see them and that is a reflection on Manuel.

There have been several crushing defeats this season, with the first being Murphy’s dropped fly ball in Florida that cost Johan Santana a game. It also represented the failure of Murphy as an outfielder. Only after Delgado was injured did Murphy find a defensive home, and even then he was tenuous.

There were others.

Luis Castillo’s return as a productive offensive player was tempered by his poor defense, with the dropped pop-fly at Yankee Stadium the signature loss to this season.

REYES: The injury that hurt most.

REYES: The injury that hurt most.


The Mets also lost a game on Sean Green’s wild pitch in Philadelphia, a sign the bullpen wasn’t quite fixed. There was also the game in which they blew a five-run lead to Pittsburgh and Rodriguez’s disastrous five-run ninth at Washington. Rodriguez blew seven save opportunities, but was forever pitching on the edge. For good measure, twice in one week the Mets lost games on late-inning grand slams.

No, the bullpen is not fixed.

However, to me, the game that summed up the wreck that was the Summer of 2009 was Ryan Church’s failure to touch third base in Los Angeles. Physical errors happen. But, this was a mental thing. Stepping on a base is as simple and fundamental thing a player can do in the sport and the Mets couldn’t even do that right.

All that misery comes to an end this afternoon at Citi Field. The Mets will try to end their season with a sweep with a win. A win in each of the last season finales could have meant October fun. If they get it today, it will be hollow as winter will still come.