Oct 16

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Tale of two pitchers.

Two pitchers, one the Mets didn’t want and one they’d love to have, will be on display today in the second round of the playoffs.

Pedro Martinez, whom the Mets cut ties with in an effort to get younger and move toward the future, will start Game 2 of the NLCS for Philadelphia against the Dodgers. John Lackey, the pitching prize of the free-agent market, starts for the Angels at Yankee Stadium.

MARTINEZ: Get the ball while Mets stay home.

MARTINEZ: Get the ball while Mets stay home.


If Martinez wins, it will send Philly home with a 2-0 games lead. If Lackey wins, he will give the home field advantage to the Angels.

The Mets are watching at home for the third straight season.

After a series of injuries the past few years, the Mets decided they could live without Martinez, 37, will make his first playoff appearance in five years against the Dodgers, the team in broke in with in 1992. Martinez made nine starts with the Phillies, going 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA.

He told me last year he thought he could still pitch again, and proved it this year in a limited capacity. Weary of the injuries, and confident Mike Pelfrey would progress and they’d finally get something out of Oliver Perez, the Mets said good-bye to Martinez, who did not want to come back in a limited role or with a limited contract.

If he will be content with a No. 5 slot, he’ll get some attention this winter. No, the Mets won’t be one of the teams, but he could stay in Philadelphia.

Martinez likes the team and it will be good again next summer.

Martinez hasn’t pitched since Sept. 30, but manager Charlie Manuel isn’t concerned, saying, “I think he knows how to pitch.’’

Martinez’s last playoff appearance was in 2004 with Boston, and one of the story lines today will be facing former Red Sox teammate Manny Ramirez.

“Well, nobody can say I know how to pitch Manny.” Martinez said. “Manny is such a great hitter, and he’s someone that makes adjustments as he sees the game develop.”

The Angels are a team in a zone, having swept Boston in the Division Series. They’ll face CC Sabathia tonight at the Stadium.

LACKEY: On top of FA pitching list.

LACKEY: On top of FA pitching list.


The Angels know how to beat the Yankees, dispatching them from the playoffs twice since 2002. The teams split 10 games this year.

“I don’t know if you’re ever going to be able to measure yourself against an organization like the Yankees. It might take a century before you would get there,’’ Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “But I think our guys feel good at the way they go about their business, the way that they play the game hard, the way that they push the game.’’

But, it all begins with pitching, and tonight that is Lackey, who beat the Yankees in July when he gave up two runs in seven innings.

“I’m not going to get intimidated by anybody,” Lackey said.

Lackey is a bulldog type, he gives innings when he’s healthy, but he’s missed considerable time in each of the past two seasons. That will give the Mets pause as they were bitten all year by injuries. It would just be the franchise’s luck to sign him and have him go down.

Lackey leads a relatively thin free-agent market that includes Erik Bedard, Jon Garland, Andy Pettitte, Jose Contreras, Rich Harden, Jason Marquis, Joel Pineiro and Randy Wolf.

There are some good names, but nobody outside of Lackey who could be called a No. 1.

Sep 26

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #154; Maine optimistic.

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #154

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #154

John Maine is one of the things the Mets hope to salvage from this dead season. Maine, who spent the bulk of the season on the disabled list, is the perfect example not to get too excited over the phrase, “will have surgery but is expected to be ready for spring training.

Maine underwent shoulder surgery last September, but was sidelined again with the generation of scar tissue which irritated the nerve and caused weakness in the arm. There has been a drop-off in velocity which Maine hasn’t regained. However, he’s looking at it as spring training when a pitcher gradually builds up his arm strength over five or six starts.

Maine will make his third start since coming off the disabled list tonight at Florida and will get another before the season ends. Maine is hoping get back enough strength to where he can look at going to his normal offseason program.

Maine is coming off a strong outing last Sunday against Washington in which he gave up two hits in five scoreless innings. He threw 75 pitches and could go as high as 90 against the Marlins. In his first start off the DL, he gave up a run in three innings at Philadelphia.

“I’m happy with it,” Maine told reporters about his progress. “I think I went out and did my job. I think you can always be a little more pleased with your performance when you look back at it. But I thought I did okay.

“I don’t go out there thinking it’s going to hurt. You can’t. It hasn’t hurt. I’m hoping it’s behind me.”

There had been speculation Maine would not be offered arbitration and would be cut loose. However, the pitching-depleted Mets will undoubtedly offer arbitration considering how well he has pitched. Maine can become a free agent after the 2011 season.

Maine took a step back last season after winning 15 games in 2007. He is 6-5 with a 4.13 ERA this season.

***

NOTE: Something has come up and I don’t think I’ll make the chat room. Please carry on without me and have a great night.-JD

Sep 24

This Day in Baseball History ….

Looking Back

Looking Back

On this day in 1991, the Mets’ Howard Johnson hit his 37th homer to set a National League record for switch-hitters. Johnson will finish the season with 38 homers and 117 RBI.

It has been a rough season for Johnson, who, as with most Mets’ coaches, is getting heat for the team’s collapse.

In particular, Johnson is under scrutiny for the team’s poor power showing, especially that of David Wright, who reached double-digits in homers this month with a pair at Philadelphia.

Wright and Jeff Francoeur are planning to work with Johnson in the off-season.

Sep 15

Mets Chat Room: Game #144; Nothing to play for edition.

CHAT ROOM

CHAT ROOM

Fred Wilpon’s goal when hiring Omar Minaya was for the Mets to play meaningful games in September. That ended with Sunday’s double-header loss at Philadelphia. The Mets are playing for answers and pride, and that’s about it. Some individuals have statistical motivations, and, of course, the Mets are playing to sell more hot dogs and T-shirts.

The Mets (63-81) need to run the table to finish at .500. Guess what?

The Mets are in Atlanta tonight to face the Braves, who are 7.5 games with 19 remaining, are close to seeing their season end. What’s working against Atlanta is that the Mets aren’t in first place. Cruel, but a degree of truth.

Turner Field has not been kind to the Mets recently, as they’ve lost 11 of their last 15 games there, with the Braves hitting .337 in the victories.

Pat Misch (1-2, 3.86) will start tonight for the Mets. Misch is looking to rebound from a horrid start against Florida in which he gave up five runs in six innings, including two homers. Misch has a 3.00 ERA in four relief appearances against Atlanta.

NOTEBOOK: Francisco Rodriguez is not be available tonight due to the birth of his twins in New York.

Sep 10

Reyes still wants to play

There are games left to be played, and Mets shortstop Jose Reyes wants to play in them. OK, maybe a few. All right, at least one.

REYES: Wants to take a few swings this year.

REYES: Wants to take a few swings this year.

With the Mets playing out the string, Reyes wants to test his torn right hamstring one more time. The thought of sitting out the winter and not knowing what to expect next spring training gnaws at him. It’s not much the hitting, or fielding and throwing. It’s the all out running. He wants to know if he can air it out between first and third the way he used to.

This isn’t about the Mets wanting to know his health for the sake of testing the trade market, but for Reyes’ peace of mind. By extension, the Mets would breath easier, too.

“I’m going to still try to come back. I’ve been working so hard to come back, so right now I don’t want to say when but I’m still trying,” Reyes said. “I missed so much time. I’d like to come back to get my confidence back and go into spring training with a better idea.”

Reyes has been on the disabled list since May 26 after sustaining a calf injury that was only supposed to keep him out a few days. He has played in only 36 games with a .279 average and 11 steals.

At the time of the injury, the Mets were in second place, a half-game behind Philadelphia. They are 17 back and should be mathematically eliminated in a few days. Even with nothing to play for, manager Jerry Manuel would like to see Reyes out there.

“The more questions we can answer now, the better off we will be in spring training,” Manuel said.

REYES: Not flying so high anymore.

REYES: Not flying so high anymore.


True enough, but Reyes isn’t even doing any baseball drills. The worst case scenario is out there staring at the Mets as if it were in neon. Reyes completely tears out the hamstring, surgery is required and he’s not ready for spring training.

Reyes isn’t ready and the Mets shouldn’t be considering this kind of talk. If the odds are he’ll need the surgery they should do it now and leave nothing to chance.

Another motivation for Reyes to get out there, and it isn’t a good one, although you have to admire his pride, is he’s chapped by criticism – although nobody with the Mets is publicly saying anything – he’s dogging it.

Carlos Beltran’s return, and the possibility of Carlos Delgado coming back. has fueled Reyes’ ire.

“I don’t know why some people think I don’t want to be on the field,” Reyes said. “I live for baseball. I always play baseball since I was little. I love to be on the field. That’s my main goal. If I ready the last week of the season, I’m going to play the last week of the season.”