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.

Sep 30

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #158; Limping home.

CHAT ROOM

CHAT ROOM

This afternoon is the season in a nutshell: The Mets will try to salvage something from their series with the Washington Nationals.

Since when does a championship caliber team need to salvage a series with the Nationals? Oh, that’s right, the Mets aren’t that kind of team. After winning two of three in Florida, the Mets could have ended their final road trip of the season on a winning note. Instead, the Mets lost the first two games of this series to the worst team in baseball.

Last night was typified the season as they had breakdowns in all aspects of their game.

This afternoon, Tim Redding gets the honors. Thrust into the rotation with injuries to Johan Santana and Oliver Perez, Redding has made the most of his opportunity to make an impression for next year.

Sep 30

Pelfrey continues to puzzle.

Mike Pelfrey retired the first seven batters he faced last night, five of them on ground balls. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Then it unraveled for him as it usually does and you knew it would be one of those nights when Ian Desmond homered in the fifth.

I really don’t want to hear how Pelfrey has been distracted with by getting married and having a kid. The bottom line is Pelfrey has regressed dramatically this season to the point where you have to wonder if he’ll ever make it.

PELFREY: Another disappointing start.

PELFREY: Another disappointing start.


Manager Jerry Manuel said he’s in the 2010 rotation, but it’s by default as the Mets are so pitching depleted that they have to run with Pelfrey’s potential much the same way they do with Oliver Perez.

The fact is, if the Mets had other options, Pelfrey would have been better off in the minor leagues. He’s done for the season with a lackluster 10-12 record, accumulated by the same old mistakes.

Pelfrey loses his concentration when things go wrong and starts to walk hitters. He’s also not been able to develop his secondary pitches and throw them for strikes.

When he’s on, his sinker is a brutal pitch, but when he gets in trouble he tends to overthrow the pitch instead of taking something off it. When a pitcher overthrows in an attempt to throw harder, the pitch flattens out and rises. It becomes a fastball that doesn’t move, and movement is far more important than velocity.

This is what happens to Pelfrey, and consequently, hitters sit on that fastball and he gets crushed.

The physical tools are there, but he’s not thinking like a pitcher. He’s become a thrower, and far too often what he ends up throwing is batting practice.

Sep 24

About Last Night: Another head scratcher from Pelfrey.

Well, at least Mike Pelfrey hung around for six innings. However, with 116 pitches he has to go longer than. By definition, it was not a quality start for Big Pelf, which is another way saying Big Disappointment.

Pelfrey gave up nine hits and walked three, and 12 runners in six innings is constantly living on the edge. His problem in last night’s loss to Atlanta was what it has been all season in that he wasn’t able to minimize the damage and his command was off.

If spring training were to start next month, by default Pelfrey would be in the rotation. But, he wouldn’t be based on merit. The Mets simply don’t have anybody they could plug in to replace Pelfrey, and the expectations are they won’t sign somebody, either. At least, not somebody at the No. 2 level.

If Pelfrey were the only issue, the Mets might be able to cope, but Oliver Perez and John Maine are concerns of the physical variety. Pelfrey had forearm issues earlier that forced him to miss one start, but they haven’t resurfaced. I wouldn’t be shocked if it came out he had been pitching hurt. These hidden injuries always seem to be a part of the Mets’ winter landscape.

If Pelfrey is hurt, it would at least explain his bad season to some degree. If he’s fine, all the more maddening. He took a positive step last year and this summer was primed for a breakthrough. But, he doesn’t seem to have grasped the mental aspects of pitching with his pitch selection. He tends to lose focus and is unable to put away hitters and is vulnerable to the big inning.

No, that wasn’t a cut-and-paste of an earlier post about Perez.

This guy, despite his physical tools, has not developed like Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, but then again, those are special pitchers. I would like to believe Pelfrey will develop as it is not uncommon for pitchers to develop later in their careers.

Still, the expectations were high for Pelfrey and we were singing his praises after a good start. They just haven’t been reached. If he duplicates this season in 2010, the Mets might have to start thinking this is as good as it gets for Pelfrey.

Sep 23

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #152; Pelfrey hopes to salvage something.

CHAT ROOM

CHAT ROOM

Mike Pelfrey gets the ball once more after tonight, so that gives him two opportunities to attempt to wash the sour taste that is the 2009 season out of his mouth and from our memories. Maybe it is possible for him to leave for winter on a positive note, but this is a guy who concerns me.

After last season’s positive big step, Pelfrey has slid back. Maybe not to square one, but not that much better. You’ll hear talk about him losing concentration because of his marriage and child, but that’s only a weak excuse.

Pelfrey still throws the ball hard and injuries aren’t an issue. However, much like Oliver Perez, his pitch selection and execution wander. He loses focus and can’t close out hitters or an inning. He’s prone to giving up runs in bunches. He easily gets rattled. How else can you explain all the balks, including three in one game?

Maddening, is he has these moments where you think he’s coming around, but he has far too many of the other kind. He can be dominant for four innings and lose it in the fifth. He can throw seven scoreless in one start and not make it out of the second in his next.

Pelfrey (10-11, 5.10) has a mind-boggling 7.04 ERA in his last five starts, and has lost four of his last six games. He has been particularly brutal lately, giving up a pair of two-run homers last Friday against Washington to Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Bard. Pelfrey also had the worst start of his career in his last start against the Braves, July 17, when he gave up nine runs in 1/3 innings.

Lifetime, he is 2-4 with a 6.36 ERA in eight starts against the Braves. The Mets have lost 12 of their past 15 games.

Just a reminder, I don’t know what kind of Internet access I’ll have tonight, but will do my best.