May 04

May 4.10: Seeing is believing.

This falls under the `I’ll believe it when I see it’ category. Carlos Beltran is taking soft toss BP in Port St. Lucie and is hopeful of running, then resuming baseball activities later this week. “It all begins with running,” Beltran told reporters in Florida. There is no timetable for Beltran’s return until he begins running. Until then, everything is merely wishful thinking.

I thought of Beltran last night while watching the Mets’ offense sputter in losing to the Reds. Oliver Perez did his job, and so did the bullpen, but the game was lost at the plate. The Mets were cooked the last two games in Philadelphia, but last night was a winnable game, and losses like that ultimately come back to haunt a team.

Last night also reinforced the streaky nature of this team. It is capable of winning seven straight one week and going on a losing streak the next. As evidenced by their record, the Mets are barely a win-one, lose-one type of team.

Save for a few games, the offense has been inconsistent all season, and Beltran’s absence is a big part of the reason.

Losing Beltran forced Jerry Manuel to juggle his line-up by moving Jose Reyes to third. The problem is Reyes is not a No. 3 hitter and it has weakened the leadoff position. Reyes is not playing his normal game, two hits last night notwithstanding. Nor is his replacement, Angel Pagan, a leadoff hitter.

May 03

May 3.10: It happens.

What was surprising about the weekend wasn’t that the Mets lost two of three at Philadelphia, but the manner in which they lost them. After nearly two weeks of sharp, aggressive baseball they were pummeled the last two games.

Pummeled. Slaughtered. Waxed. However you want to say it.

It was discouraging the Phillies hammered both Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana, the two best pitchers the Mets have to offer. But, it isn’t surprising they lost. These things happen. If you want to read that the Phillies are still better, than please do. We kind of knew that all along.

However, the Mets had played too good for an extended period and Santana has been superb for so long to panic over this weekend. File it away under: “It happens.’’

I can’t read anything more into it than that. Both deserve the benefit of doubt.

A mark of a good team is how it bounces back and we’ll find out more about the Mets tonight in Cincinnati, and Santana this weekend against the Giants.

Apr 30

April 30.10: On to Philly.

The Mets didn’t win anything on their recent homestand and they won’t win anything this weekend in Philadelphia.

Neither will the Phillies.

The most important thing coming out of the homestand, and this weekend’s series, is it has made the Mets’ season relevant again. It might have started with the promotion of Ike Davis and ended with perhaps the best 10-game regular season stretch in franchise history, but in between we saw the Mets play alert, aggressive baseball.

We saw the Mets play as they promised us they would. We saw them play as if they wanted our attention.

And, they deserved it.

What I am looking forward to in this series are three games of intense baseball, of a rivalry where the competitive juices are flowing.

After all the promoting it as such, it finally is a rivalry worth paying attention to again. Each one of the games has a special nugget of intrigue.

Tonight is about Jon Niese and how the young pitcher will respond to the pressure of a high profile game. Niese giving the Mets six strong tonight will go a long way toward answering some of their pitching questions. It would also prevent an emotional let down.

After a week-and-a-half of being on an emotional high, tonight is about sustaining. The last thing we want to see is for Niese to get hammered and to lose that good feeling.

Tomorrow, and this is the game I really want to see, is Mike Pelfrey against Roy Halladay. In a season full of tests for Pelfrey, this is another one. Aren’t you curious about seeing him go against an ace?

Sunday it is the stopper, Johan Santana, who would be pitching to either stave off a disappointment or continue the ride. It will be as important a game as you can have in May, and you want your best.

The Mets went 9-1 because they played to their capabilities, but also because they did not try to exceed them. They played within themselves and didn’t try to do something they weren’t capable of doing.

They need that same, level approach this weekend, and if they get it, then it could be the start of a wonderful summer.

Apr 27

April 27.10: Wright continues to struggle.

David Wright said this is a slump, that nothing is wrong with him and he’ll snap out of it.

“We’re 10-9,’’ Wright told reporters. “We’re winning right now. There’s no reason to panic. … I’m seeing the ball pretty well. I’m taking some good swings. But, you could do everything right and not get the results you wanted. I feel comfortable at the plate. I’ll see some results.’’

Then again, Wright said the same thing last year about his power drought. However, a difference between last year and this is he hit .300 last year and currently is batting .222.

Wright also struck out a lot, which he’s doing again this spring. He takes a stretch of striking out in 12 straight games into today’s doubleheader against the Dodgers. He has 24 strikeouts in 19 games.

Wright said he feels comfortable, but just isn’t getting the results he wants.

“There’s no to hit the panic button this early,’’ Wright said. “This isn’t the first time I’ve struggled in my career.’’

For now, Jerry Manuel has no plans to sit Wright and will let him work himself out of it. Then again, that could change in the second game of the doubleheader against knuckleballer Charlie Haeger.

NOTEBOOK: Manuel plans to keep Jose Reyes in the third spot in the order. … Gary Matthews was in the line-up last night and is expected to play in one of the games today. … The anticipated rotation for Philadelphia is Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana.

Dec 14

Big pitching deals ….

John Lackey to the Red Sox. Roy Halladay to Philadelphia. Cliff Lee to Seattle. They are all coming down.

Lackey to the Red Sox in an $82.5-million, five-year deal pending a physical. The Red Sox have been tied to a lot of things, but this one seems to have come out of the blue. That’s a lot of money and it probably precludes them signing Matt Holliday.

The Mets were never in it for Lackey, but this deal could help them land Jason Bay. The Red Sox say they aren’t giving Bay a fifth year. Unless they are bluffing, there doesn’t seem to a chance they’ll go back to Bay. But, the Mets would have to up their offer to a fifth year.

The Mets were also never in it for Halladay, either, because they didn’t have the minor league talent to get it down.
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