May 13

May 13.10: Phillies vs. Mets Spygate

What’s the first thing somebody usually does when caught doing something wrong? That’s right, he tries to shift the attention to somebody else.

That’s exactly what Phillies manager Charlie Manuel did after his team was caught stealing signs in Colorado when he said, “somebody maybe ought to check the Mets if they did that.’’

The Mets? You mean the same team that was pummeled twice in Philadelphia recently and lost seven of nine games there last season?

Yes, those Mets.

“Their [bleeping] home record is out of this world and they’re losing on the road,’’ Manuel said. “Sometimes that’s a good indicator of getting signs. … That kind of crosses my mind. I’m not accusing them, but you look at that. … We’re about the same home and road. I’m just saying their record is much better at home and they hit better.’’

What Manuel didn’t say, but you know he’s thinking, is the Mets are in his head. If Manuel weren’t concerned about the Mets he wouldn’t have said anything. He’s just trying to deflect attention from him and rattle a few cages at Citi Field.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel, who doesn’t seem to be rattled by anything, said: “Tell Charlie our bullpen is a little far and we have a few other things going on.’’

Yes, this will be a nice little race before it is over.

May 07

May 7.10: Chat Room, Game #29 vs. Giants: Limping home.

For the offensively challenged Mets, the Giants aren’t the team they’d like to see this weekend at Citi Field. Not with their pitching anyway.

Jonathan Sanchez against Mike Pelfrey tonight figures to be significant to the Mets on several levels, beginning with questions about the durability of the latter’s shoulder.

Pelfrey complained of tightness after being shelled last Saturday in Philadelphia, but he was cleared after a MRI and light bullpen session Wednesday.

The Mets will miss Matt Cain and Barry Zito this weekend, but will get Tim Lincecum Sunday.
The 17-10 Giants are fresh off a sweep of the Florida Marlins in which their rotation’s ERA was a sparkling 2.57 during the series.

The Mets limp home off a 2-4 road trip a 9-1 homestand. During that homestand Mets pitchers registered a 1.83 ERA and struck out 62-59 innings.

A major storyline during the last homestand was Jerry Manuel juggling the batting order by dropping Jose Reyes to third ahead of Jason Bay.

Despite dismal showings by both Reyes and Bay in Philadelphia and Cincinnati, Manuel will keep that line-up. Bay is hitless in his last 12 at-bats and has one homer and nine RBI on the season.

Here’s the line-up behind Pelfrey:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Ike Davis, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Mike Pelfrey, RP

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.