Jul 15

Three Mets’ Storylines: Walker The Difference

On a day the Pittsburgh Pirates demoted Jon Niese to the bullpen and their general manager Neal Huntington lamented the trade that brought him from the Mets, the player they surrendered, Neil Walker, hit a three-run homer for the difference Friday night in Philadelphia.

“In hindsight, maybe the two fringe prospects and trying to figure out where to re-allocate the money might have been a better return [for Walker],” Huntington told a Pittsburgh radio station.

WALKER: Powers Mets over Phils. (Getty)

WALKER: Powers Mets over Phils. (Getty)

I applaud honesty – the trade has not worked out for the Pirates – but it’s pretty stupid to trash Niese, whom he admitted he’s trying to deal. As a GM you can’t devalue the product you’re trying to unload. That’s GM 101.

Sandy Alderson did the same thing with Ike Davis, and also wasn’t shy about ripping Wilmer Flores and Daniel Murphy.

Walker’s opposite-field homer to left in the sixth powered the Mets to a 5-3 victory over the Phillies and kept them six games behind Washington. It was Walker’s 16th homer – he had 16 last year – to give him 40 RBI. He made an immediate strong impression with nine homers in April.

Walker has played well but hasn’t made Mets’ fans forget Murphy. And they certainly won’t if Walker leaves after this season while Murphy plays two more years with Washington.

Then again, and here’s a wild thought, what if the Pirates DFA’d Niese? With Matt Harvey gone for the year, and health questions with Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard, would the Mets bring back Niese? They did with Jose Reyes, so why not?

However, on this night Walker was the Mets’ main storyline.

The other two are:

BULLPEN BAILS OUT COLON: Bartolo Colon (W, 8-4) started strong, but gave up three unearned runs on four hits in the sixth.

Hansel Robles, Jerry Blevins, Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia combined to strike out five and give up one hit in 3.1 scoreless innings. Reed worked 1.1 innings, which I like. He’s strong and if the bullpen is a concern, manager Terry Collins shouldn’t be afraid to give him the extra out.

For Familia, he is 32-for-32 in save opportunities. Earlier this year Familia got his saves, but not without angst. He’s slider has a lot more bite and the confidence level is a lot higher with him now.

The Mets entered the second half with their bullpen a priority and one game won’t alter that thinking, but until those moves are made, this is what they need.

LAGARES SHINES: Juan Lagares homered, stole a base and manufactured a run with a strong slide, and made an outstanding catch in right-center.

Collins told reporters “that’s the kind of player he can be.’’

A Gold Glover two years ago, he was out of shape and a bust last season, but is playing with an aggressiveness the Mets should continue to expect.

Aug 14

Today in Mets’ History: Al Jackson pitches 15 innings.

JACKSON: Loses heart-breaker to Phils.

There have been fewer heart-breaking losses than the one Al Jackson endured on this date in 1962.

Jackson, one of the most popular Mets, threw worked 15 innings, but lost to the Phillies, 3-1, on a two-run single by Mel Roach.

Two numbers stood out from that game. The first was Jackson’s 215 pitches and the second was the 4:35 time of game.




Apr 05

Mets face Phils as rivalry renews

METS CHAT: Game #4 at Phillies

Any Mets’ fan will tell you their team’s biggest rival is Philadelphia and not the Yankees. Afterall, it is the Phillies the Mets compete against for the NL East and not the Yankees, who occupy two of their weekends.

When the Mets coughed up the lead in 2007 and 2008, it was the Phillies who were the beneficiaries, including winning the World Series the latter season. But, truth be told, the rivalry has played out more in the papers and fans than on the field, where the Phillies have been the real team to beat.

It will be interesting to see how the Mets stack up to the Phillies this season. They are the odds-on favorite to win the division while the Mets have been picked for the basement in several circles.

If you’re watching tonight, click onto the Mets Chat icon and we can chat about the game.

May 25

Can Mets’ Dickey get the Phils to knuckle under.

Game #46 vs. Phillies

Next up are the Mets’ real rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies, who lead then by five games in the National League East.

The Mets are feeling better about themselves these days. Can you imagine how good they’ll feel if they swept?

Because Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield baffled the Phillies Saturday, the Mets are hoping the same will happen tonight behind R.A. Dickey.

“When you haven’t seen it, basically what we were doing was popping it up,’’ Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “It wasn’t like we were striking out a lot, we were popping balls in the air, and at times, we weren’t very aggressive with it.’’

Well, now that the Phillies have seen the knuckleball, it makes one wonder if they might adopt a different approach with Dickey, who says Wakefield shouldn’t have much of a bearing on his start.

“I don’t think it has much to do with my outing,’’ said Dickey, who is taking John Maine’s spot in the rotation. “It’s good that he threw a shutout instead of giving up 15, I’ll tell you that.’’

Dickey planned to talk with Wakefield prior to this start. Dickey is coming off a no-decision last Wednesday against the Nationals in which he gave up two runs on six hits in six innings.

The Mets are hoping to feed off the good feelings generated from Johan Santana’s strong start Sunday night against the Yankees.

“You see the atmosphere around here,’’ Santana said. “Everybody’s happy. Everybody’s excited.’’

They might be happy now, but Jamie Moyer has put a damper on them before. The Phillies have won 13 of their last 16 games against the Mets, and have won six of their last eight in games started by Moyer.

NOTEBOOK: Jason Bay is sizzling, going 10-for-15 – including two homers – with eight runs scored in his last four games. … David Wright is 21-for-50 (.420) with four homers lifetime vs. Moyer. However, he has 32 strikeouts since May 3. … Luis Castillo was back in the line-up at second.

Nov 01

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Game #4; Sabathia trying to put Phils in hole.

Game 4: Sabathia vs. Blanton.

Game 4: Sabathia vs. Blanton.

The New York Yankees made CC Sabathia the richest pitcher in history for moments like tonight.
Working on three days rest for the second time in the playoffs, Sabathia, who signed a seven-year, $161-million free-agent deal last winter, has an opportunity to pitch the Yankees to a 3-1 edge in the World Series.
Sabathia was 19-8 with a 3.37 ERA this summer and the heavy favorite to win his second Cy Young Award. He is 3-1 with a 1.52 ERA in the playoffs, and was the ALCS MVP.

Sabathia is a horse. He is 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA in eight starts throwing on short rest. The Phillies decided not to start Cliff Lee on three days rest, instead opting for Joe Blanton. Lee has never worked on short rest.

SABATHIA: Trying to put the hammer down.

SABATHIA: Trying to put the hammer down.

“It feels good for them to have confidence in you, especially in these situations,’’ Sabathia said about working on short rest. “It gives you confidence when your team has confidence and the guys want you out there and everybody is asking: ‘Are you pitching today?’ and ‘Are you pitching tomorrow?’ ’’

Should the Phillies extend this to a seventh game, Sabathia would get that start in New York.