Sep 29

Mets Matters: Braves Prez John Schuerholz Tells It Like It Is

You have to love Braves president John Schuerholz, the architect as general manager of Atlanta’s spectacular playoff run.

He’s always been a straight shooter and last night during the Chipper Jones’ ceremony said something you don’t hear from Major League Baseball executives when he called Hank Aaron, “the true Major League Baseball home run champion.’’

Finally, an executive with the guts to put the steroid mess in its proper light. Baseball cherishes its records and the home run records – career and single season – are the most revered.

We all know Barry Bonds used steroids, and like Mark McGwire, will be shunned by the Hall of Fame voters. He won’t get mine unless there’s a drastic revision in the process.

The Hall of Fame is a baseball museum honoring its history, and history is sometimes messy. If there was a provision where on the player’s plaque there was a notation he used PEDs, I’d be more inclined to vote for him.

Until then: No.

Bravo to Schuerholz for telling it like it is.

Niese to have heart procedure: Jon Niese, who pitched brilliantly last night to earn his career high 13th victory, said he’ll have a heart procedure at the Cleveland Clinic to correct a rapid heartbeat that resurfaced in June.

Niese said after the game he wants to build off this season.

“I’m never satisfied with the number I put up,’’ Niese said. “With what R.A. (Dickey) has been doing this year, having a season like that is something to look forward to.’’

Niese said the next step is to reach 200 innings, 15 victories and increase his starts total (he had 30).

Parnell will close out season: Frank Francisco is finished for the year with elbow tendinitis and Bobby Parnell will be the closer for the remaining five games.

Parnell has the stuff to be a closer, but has spit the bit in every opportunity he’s been given. There’s nothing wrong with his velocity, but there are times when his fastball flattens out and becomes easier to hit.

Duda flashes power: Coming out of spring training there was a lot of optimism surrounding Lucas Duda’s power potential.

He has the strength to reach 30, but will finish with at least half that number. He hit his 15th last night, a three-run blast to beat Tim Hudson.

Even more impressive than the distance was that Duda was behind 1-2 in the count, but worked it full.

“Obviously I can improve in every aspect,’’ Duda told reporters last night. “There’s not really like a number I can put on it. Obviously it wasn’t the season I wanted to have — getting sent down and things like that.’’

Jul 08

Mets’ Chemistry Will Keep Bobby Parnell Out Of Closer Role — For Now

The Mets spent a good bit of time speaking of team chemistry as for a primary reason why they have played so well in the first half. You’ll hear more about that today, and deservedly so.

PARNELL: Has been terrific.

It is for that reason why Bobby Parnell – who has been pitching lights out lately – will relinquish the closer role once Frank Francisco is able to come off the disabled list. For the same reason why Jason Bay went back to left when he last came off the DL, is the same reason why Parnell will stop working the ninth – chemistry.

The Mets have been a tranquil bunch the first three months – with their aggressiveness limited to the field – and Terry Collins won’t mess with that state. The Mets signed Francisco to be their closer, and as long as he’s physically able, Collins is apt to keep it that way.

The thing that could alter that is Francisco’s injury lingering, but reports have him coming back shortly after the break.

Parnell has pitched well in the role, well enough to stay there and well enough to prove he can do the job, but chemistry is a fragile thing and Collins won’t tamper with it now.

Jun 26

Bobby Parnell Now Mets Closer

We’ve been here before: The Mets will use Bobby Parnell as their closer while Frank Francisco is on the DL. The Mets once had visions of Parnell starting, but that fizzled. He’s been tried as the closer several times, including late last season, but never grasped the job.

Parnell got the opportunity last September after Jason Isringhausen earned his 300th save, but only converted three of seven opportunities. That forced the Mets to go after Jon Rauch and Francisco last winter in the FA market.

Collins has handled Parnell conservatively this season and believes he’s ready for another shot. In 36 appearances, Parnell is 1-1 with a 3.19 ERA with 31 strikeouts.

“I think his confidence is much better,” Collins told reporters in Chicago. “I think his experience doing it already is going to help him this year. So he’s going to get that chance.

“I wanted him to have that confidence. That’s why throughout this whole first half, when we mixed and matched who was going to pitch where, Bobby was absolutely dominant in that seventh-inning spot, where he was coming in and mowing guys down. So his confidence was high.”

Then the defense bailed on him in Washington which led to a couple of blown save opportunities.

Parnell attributed his success this season to taking something off his fastball. He’s still in the mid-90′s, but with better control.

“I’ve just got to keep doing what I’ve been doing,” Parnell said. “I’ve had good success with that. I try not to overthrow. I’m just trying to throw strikes in the bottom of the zone and flip a couple of curveballs up there and get them off balance.”

Apr 02

Parnell sharp; Santana gets Opening nod.

Bobby Parnell, who had been uninspiring during his tenure with the Mets, has been scintillating this spring, enough where they could consider opening the season with him in the closer role if Frank Francisco is placed on the disabled list with a sore left knee.

PARNELL: Has had excellent spring.

While Parnell was throwing three scoreless innings at Atlanta in a spot start – because the Mets didn’t want Jon Niese to face the same team he’ll pitch against Sunday – Francisco was getting an MRI.

“Early in camp I felt a little sore in there and it went away,’’ Francisco told reporters today. “In the last three days, I felt soreness in there again, but that’s it. We’re going to take care of that. I did my workout and everything, and it felt fine, but they’re going to take a look at it.’’

 A MRI, followed by manager Terry Collins saying he was concerned about Francisco’s knee can’t be a good omen for the injury ravaged Mets.

Francisco, a Toronto castoff, was signed to a two-year, $12-million contract in the offseason. The Mets also signed another Blue Jays’ reliever, Jon Rauch, but he’s been ineffective this spring with a 7.94 ERA. Parnell, who struggled in the closer role last September, hasn’t given up a run in 12 1/3 innings during spring training.

Despite his success, I’m not so sure moving Parnell to the closer role is the way to go if Francisco’s injury is deemed short term. The Mets have bounced Parnell around in the past and he has not responded to the changing roles. Because he’s been pitching well I’d be reluctant to tinker with him.

I would reconsider that position if Francisco’s injury is determined to be long term.

Meanwhile, the Mets finally announced Johan Santana will be the Opening Day starter Thursday against the Braves. Santana would be followed in the rotation by R.A. Dickey, and Jon Niese.

 

Nov 22

To think the Mets wanted Nathan.

It certainly was eye-opening to read about what the Texas Rangers gave closer Joe Nathan, who is coming off Tommy John surgery. At 37, Nathan will get a two-year deal worth $14.5 million.

Is he worth it?

Apparently he is to the Texas Rangers, who’ll be writing the checks, and that’s all that really matters. If Nathan stays healthy and returns close to form, and Netfali Feliz makes the transition to the rotation, it would be like making two deals.

Feliz is a hard thrower, and in theory moving him to the rotation is similar to what the Mets wanted to do with Bobby Parnell. But, Parnell had his issues, such as an inability to master his secondary pitches and stretches where he loses his command.

I believe it is easier to find a reliable closer than it is a dominant starter, so I would not be adverse to giving Parnell another shot at the rotation if he gets down his secondary pitches, but there’s been no indication he’s heading in that direction.

The most shocking thing about the Nathan signing was the Mets were supposedly injured. There’s no way Sandy Alderson would have approached what the Rangers gave him, and if he believes he had a chance to sign Nathan then he’s underestimated the market.

The Phillies acquired Ty Wiggington for a player to be named later. Surely, the Mets could have matched that price. The Phillies also signed Jonathan Papelbon, who fled the sinking Red Sox. Wiggington won’t off-set the loss of Ryan Howard, but at least the Phillies are doing something.

So are the Nationals, who are talking with Mark Buehrle, and expect to be active this winter. Buehrle could be an effective innings eater, but is completely out of the Mets’ price range.

Reportedly, the Nationals are also interested in Jose Reyes, although there’s been no offter there. Whatever additions the Nationals make, it won’t be enough to catch Philadelphia and Atlanta, but I don’t think that’s the point with them.

Do you remember when Fred Wilpon once said he wanted the Mets to play meaningful games in September?  That’s the point, especially in a front-runner oriented city such as Washington. If the Nationals play interesting ball deep into the summer and are competitive, people will come out to the park and that’s the issue.

Sure, winning would be nice, but winning is also expensive. Just being competitive – good but not too good – is the way to go for most teams because it keeps the interest up.

Detroit and Milwaukee, reportedly, also are interested in Reyes, but there’s nothing hot with either of those teams now. The strongest interest is coming from Miami, but things will get more active at the winter meetings as the new collective bargaining agreement brought no significant changes that would deter free-agent signings and teams making their budgets.