Oct 03

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #161; Looking at Maine, Misch tries to impress.

CHAT ROOM

CHAT ROOM

When it comes to what John Maine did last night, I have to keep telling myself, “it was only one game.’’

Yes it was, but Maine’s starts have been getting progressively better in terms of pitch count and effectiveness. Last night, he gave up one run on five hits in seven innings. Most importantly, no walks. As in zero.

Maine squeezed in those seven innings with 106 pitches. Usually with Maine, if the throws that many pitches it is over five innings.

Maine attributed the success with his slider to a new grip, which again reinforces it was good for him to come back this month.

There will be games when his slider doesn’t have movement or bite, but hopefully he’s been able to come up with a way to get out of those funks. A pitcher only learns that by pitching.

MAINE: Ends season on a positive note.

MAINE: Ends season on a positive note.


“I was just trying to pitch to contact a little more,’’ Maine said. “Walks always hurt me, I’d always give up a lot of walks, and that’s how they end up scoring. This start I just had a better slider, and that always makes your fastball better.’’

Maine’s start doesn’t answer all the Mets’ pitching questions, but it does offer encouragement.

The Mets (68-92) hope for another dose of positive this afternoon from left-hander Pat Misch (2-4, 4.71 ERA) who is coming off a complete-game victory over the Marlins last Sunday.

Misch has pitched well at times in his month-long audition for the No. 5 slot in the rotation next year. So has Tim Redding, but he could be more suited for the long-man role.

Here’s today’s batting order vs. Yorman Bazardo (1-2, 8.23 ERA):

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Cory Sullivan, LF
Josh Thole, C
Fernando Tatis, 3B
Anderson Hernandez, SS
Pat Misch, LP

David Wright isn’t hurt, so I don’t understand the need to give him a day off the day before the season finale. He had a good game last night, so why not keep it going?

I don’t like how manager Jerry Manuel has handled his line-up the last month. September was supposed to be about learning for next year.

Wright has had a miserable month for the most part, but is coming out of it. Too late, of course, but he’s hit well the past week.

I don’t like how Nick Evans has wasted away on the bench. He’s been rushed, but this month was a way to get him some consistent at-bats. Instead, Tatis and Pagan have gotten considerably more time. We don’t even know if Tatis will be with the Mets next year. It is so much more important to learn about Evans.

I’m also not crazy about the batting order. Can we please find a spot for Daniel Murphy and leave him there? Murphy has hit from second to seventh, but he’s never in one spot long enough to get comfortable. And, please spare me the injuries excuse. The juggling is unsettling for a young player.

The juggling also shows a lack of consistency from the manager. There are times to juggle, but not every day.

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.