Apr 30

Jeremy Hefner Tries To Stop Mets’ Slide

Jeremy Hefner: Streak stopper.

Some clairvoyant on television said this morning, “the Mets have lost five straight for the first time this season.’’  He’s probably right, but that’s an awful assumption.

All streaks must end somewhere, and while Matt Harvey didn’t stop the slide last night, the Mets will ask Hefner to do it tonight.

Hefner, who hasn’t been consistently good this season, is coming off a solid start in which he gave up a run in seven innings, April 25, against the Dodgers.

The Mets, losers of five straight and nine of their last 12 games, will need Hefner to contain two horrible statistics: he’s walked at least three in each of his last three starts, and he’s given up seven homers in 21 innings

A big Ouch! on that last number.

“It bugged me a little more than I let on,’’ Hefner said of the homers allowed after the Dodger start. “If I’m successful, I’m getting groundballs. … So that’s something I’ve still got to work on.’’

A case can be made Hefner saved his job last week against the Dodgers, but then again, just whom do the Mets have to replace him? They won’t bring up Zack Wheeler before he’s ready, and he’s not close.

Hefner was thrust into the rotation when Johan Santana went down, but he’s become a mainstay. Hefner matter-of-factly says his objective with each game is to give the Mets a quality start, which is three runs given up in six innings, something he’s done twice in four starts.

The offense has to shoulder some of the blame for the Mets being 0-4 in Hefner’s starts as it has given him eight runs in 20 innings.

Hefner is what he is, and that’s a fifth starter. His outpitched his job description in his last start, but he’s not living up to his stated goal of six innings.

The bullpen worked 9.1 innings last night, and with the short turnaround before Wednesday afternoon’s game, the Mets need six from Hefner tonight. His job would be a little easier if the Mets scored some runs, too.

Just saying.

Jun 03

Johan Santana No-Hitter Fallout

Much like Red Sox fans who said, “now I can die and go to heaven (although that might be a bit presumptuous),’’ after their team finally won the World Series, so too are Mets fans saying the same thing after Johan Santana’s no-hitter Friday night.

SANTANA: Taking another bow yesterday. (AP)

You’ll start reading stories about long-time Mets fans who missed the event, just like there will be those who saw history in their first game watching the team. It’s all part of the fate when it comes to baseball. You just never know.

It does remind me of when I started covering the Yankees in 1998. I worked a month straight before my first day off – which turned out to be David Wells’ perfect game.

It’s all part of the maddening charm that is baseball.

R.A. Dickey said following Santana would be a tough act to follow, but a shutout isn’t a bad way to do it.  Dickey’s gem yesterday is part of the fallout of the no-hitter:

* The Hall of Fame will be collecting items from the game for display in Cooperstown. Sadly, he won’t be using it for a while, but a nice touch would be to show Mike Baxter’s glove. We knew Baxter was injured selling out to make that spectacular catch, but he’ll be gone at least six weeks. Ouch. Baxter’s absence hurts the Mets on several levels in that he played good defense but was also a pinch-hitting savant.

 

* From the “It Can Only Happen To the Mets Department,’’ reliever Ramon Ramirez strained a hamstring running in from the bullpen for the post-game celebration. He went from sitting for three hours to a full sprint, so it isn’t all that hard to imagine.

* Manager Terry Collins is considering bumping up Chris Young’s return date next weekend to give Santana extra rest. Wise move. Pitchers are a creature of habit, so it will be interesting to note if Santana changes his routine at all this week.

* Speaking of Collins, imagine the pressure he was under in deliberating keeping Santana in the game. The human part of him wanted to extend Santana so he’d get the no-hitter. Then, there was part of him that wanted to protect his pitcher. Coming off surgery, it was a gamble, one in which we might not know the outcome for awhile as it isn’t always the next start in which the 134 pitch-count could come into play in a negative way. Here’s hoping it never does.

Finally, a classy comment from Carlos Beltran, who had a extra-base hit taken away by a blown call from umpire Adrian Johnson, saying he was happy for Santana and was being rewarded for all his hard work in his rehab.

May 23

Wilpon rips Reyes, Beltran; say a prayer for Gary.

Good Monday morning all. Still ailing.  Spent the weekend in the hospital and will be here maybe through tomorrow.

WILPON: Rips Reyes, Beltran.

I asked Joe D. from Mets Merized Online to post during the weekend and grateful he did. I had my laptop brought to me, so I will get back to posting, including Today in Mets History later this afternoon.

Never mind the games, it wasn’t a great weekend all around for the Mets, beginning with the news of doctors discovering four small brain tumors after Gary Carter complained of headaches.

I’ve spoken with Carter on several occasions. I don’t know him, but always found him to be cooperative and pleasant. I wish him and his family well and ask you say a prayer.

Now there’s the latest Wilpon mess, which will take more than a prayer to fix.

In an article in The New Yorker, Wilpon is quoted as taking shots at Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, questioning their value and performance.

Reyes will be a free agent after the season and Wilpon has to consider the reported $100-plus million the shortstop is seeking. To listen to Wilpon, he’s certainly not going to get a monster payday.

Said Wilpon: “He thinks he’s going to get Carl Crawford money. He’s had everything wrong with him. He won’t get it.’’

Ouch.

Crawford’s deal with the Red Sox is $142 million over seven years, which is steep. I never thought Reyes would get that, especially since Wilpon is correct when saying everything has gone wrong with Reyes.

Reyes is playing well, but has been injured and produced little the last two seasons. A player heavily reliant on this legs, what will Reyes’ game look like at the end of a long-term deal?

That’s the gamble question the Mets, or any team considering Reyes for the long haul, must consider. I’ve said the Mets would like to deal Reyes at the deadline if they can find any takers, and still feel that way. I am even more sure of it after Wilpon, who, in questioning Reyes’ value hurt himself in his asking price.

“Well Fred, if you don’t think that much of him, then you can’t expect much in return, can you?” would be be the logical thinking of any owner talking to the Mets about Reyes.

Reyes could be traded to a contender as a rental and then test the free agent market. However, I can see Reyes pushing for a deal with the Mets or a new team because the collective bargaining agreement will expire in December. He’s obviously won’t get that deal from the Mets now.

Because of the CBA, figure a slow free-agent season early in the winter, and that’s something Reyes would like to avoid.

Wilpon is dead-on about Reyes, and also Beltran, whom the Mets signed after his monstrous 2004 postseason with Houston.

Wilpon said: “We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series. He’s sixty-five to seventy percent of what he was.’’

Hard to tell if that schmuck was then GM Omar Minaya or if Wilpon was talking about himself. Kind of think it was the latter.

To be fair, the Mets received production from Beltran early, but little the last two seasons because of injuries. However, the Mets must accept some responsibility for Beltran after mishandling his knee injury in 2009.

According to the author of the magazine piece, Jeffrey Toobin, when asked if the Mets were a cursed franchise, Wilpon pantomimed Beltran’s checked swing strikeout that ended the 2006 NLCS against St. Louis.

In all fairness, there is no guarantee of what would have happened had Beltran swung, or even had he made contact. It was nasty pitch from Adam Wainwright.

Also, the Mets had several opportunities earlier in the game before Aaron Heilman coughed up the series-losing homer to Yadier Molina in the ninth inning.

Wilpon did say the Mets were snakebitten, but how can a franchise whose history includes the 1969 miracle and the Bill Buckner-Mookie Wilson play complain about bad luck?

Most of the Mets’ run of poor luck is self-induced with poor management decisions and even worse play on the field.

I can’t see how Wilpon helped himself any in the Mets’ attempts to deal Reyes and/or Beltran by ripping them.

 

Feb 01

Alderson wants to cut budget in the future

I wrote the other day to not expect the Mets go crazy next winter when the contracts of Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and possibly Francisco Rodriguez come off the books. Sandy Alderson pretty much confirmed that this week.

“Our payroll going into the season will be somewhere between 140 and 150 million [dollars],’’ Alderson said.

Then he drooped the other shoe.

“I think that’s significantly higher than we’d like it to be on an annual basis.’’

Ouch.

With the Phillies’ spending beginning at over $160 million for this season, can the Mets realistically expect to compete if they want to go “significantly,’’ lower?

With Alderson not defining what a significant reduction will be, it doesn’t take a stretch to reason the Mets don’t figure to spend extravagantly in the market, but will use the farm system to develop their team.

Building from within is the preferable way to go, but requires considerable patience and luck. To make it work, as San Francisco did last year, one must also develop pitching and the Mets don’t have any major league ready arms in the near future.

Building from within also requires the willingness to shop the market to patch the holes and in that regard we don’t know of Alderson’s aggressiveness when it comes to pursuing free agents. Even if the Mets slash their budget next year, he’ll still have greater resources than he did in Oakland and San Diego.

When he was hired, Alderson said he understood New York was a different animal and he had act to keep the fan base interested and excited.

So far, we’ve been told to wait. And, we’re hearing it again.

Aug 29

Mets Chat Room; Will it ever get better?

Game #130 vs. Astros

I try to look for positives because being negative all the time can be draining. But, right now the positives, at least offensively, are scarce.

This team just doesn’t score any runs, and the odd thing is people are talking about blowing up this group and trading David Wright and Jose Reyes, the Mets’ two best, although inconsistent, offensive players. Doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.

One of the season’s bright spots, R.A. Dickey, goes today against Houston. Dickey has been splendid all season and has pitched better than his 8-5 record indicates. He’s pitched deep into games, but has given up two late-inning homers in his last two starts to deprive him of victories. Otherwise, he’d have ten wins. He’d have even more than that with a little run supprt.

We’ve known for awhile now that the playoffs weren’t going to happen, but you’d like to see some form of growth, something to build on. But, right now there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of it.

After today, there are 32 games left. Ouch, where did the season go?