Apr 26

April 26.10: Not your old Mike Pelfrey.

As the pitches mounted, and they did rather quickly last night, it was tempting to think, “well, he’s back to being the old Mike Pelfrey.”

The pitches added up to base runners – ten in all – but, other than the angst, not much else. Something strange happened: Pelfrey got a pop up to end one inning; double plays to end two more; and a couple of strikeouts also bailed him.

While one never wants your pitcher to get in trouble, the telling sign is the ability to escape and that’s what Pelfrey did last night. He didn’t just minimize damage, he avoided it all together. That’s something he didn’t do last season, or in spring training of this year for that matter.

Pelfrey is getting outs on his splitter, a secondary pitch he has been working on. There will be times this year when the pitch might flatten, but for now it is working and it is exciting to see his development.

Pelfrey has been on hot streaks before, but this one has a different feel. This one comes with the sense of maturity and progression to the next step. This one has the sense of his development into a pitcher, leaving the thrower behind.

****

The Mets did a solid yesterday when they invited fans to move into whatever seats they wished. OK, you got to stay in them for a few innings, but still the gesture was nice. Also, the Mets announced anybody with yesterday’s game can exchange them for complimentary tickets to a game during the San Diego and Detroit series in June.

For more information, call 718.507.TIXX

Lousy weather all day today in Queens, but tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers is still on.

****

Before we get all get carried away with Ike Davis, just think back to last night and how Tommy Hanson’s fall-off-the-table made him look foolish. Other pitchers will take notice and until Davis proves he can consistently hit the breaking ball, that’s all he’ll face.

****

Apr 14

April 14.10: About Last Night; Maine in trouble.

I don’t know if last night was John Maine’s worst game as a Met, but it sure could have been. It definitely was as complete a loss as the Mets have endured in recent seasons.

* Maine gave up eight runs on seven hits and three walks in three innings. His ERA is 13.50 and his spot in the rotation is now under question.

* Met hitters were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, effectively eliminating any chance at making a game of it last night.

* Met pitchers walked nine and their hitters struck out 11 times.

Jerry Manuel talked about a 20-game window to determine what is a fast start. At 2-5, and a miserable 2-5, maybe they are already there. Maine, hammered in both starts, is not only off to a bad start, but he’s in trouble.

“When you have that much traffic in that few innings you have to be concerned,’’ Manuel said. “He got the two outs and couldn’t put them away. You have to have some concern.’’

Maine broke 90 mph. a few times but was consistently in the high 80s. Manuel doesn’t think there’s a health problem.

“This is a performance business,’’ Manuel said. “We don’t think there are any health issues.’’

Perhaps Maine isn’t hurting, but he’s also not strong enough to be throwing that way. In the past he’s been able to get by with poor location with his velocity, getting a foul tip instead of a double in the gap.

Manuel said that’s part of the problem and he’ll have “dialogue’’ with his coaches about Maine’s spot in the rotation.

Last night was a continuation of a trend of falling behind early. Save Johan Santana’s first start, the Mets have consistently fallen behind in their games, putting pressure on their listless offense. And, right now the Mets aren’t hitting well to compensate for their pitching.

“We wanted to pitch well,’’ Manuel said. “That’s the key to everything.’’

Right now, the Mets are thinking what’s wrong with Maine and what to do about it. If it is simply a matter of building up his arm, then sending him out has to be considered. A MRI to be sure about the structure of his elbow must also be evaluated.

Currently, Maine is not getting it done. But, unlike the coin flips known as Oliver Perez and Mike Pelfrey, he’s not showing any upside.

Ah, what the hell. I’m not going to wait for 20 games. This is a bad start.

NOTE: Vote in the new poll concerning what should be done about John Maine.


Mar 31

March 31.10: Juggling the rotation means …. what?

When you rearrange a junk drawer without throwing out anything, it’s still a junk drawer. Right?

That’s pretty much the way I look at the news of the Mets juggling their pitching rotation. It’s the usual suspects, but they come in at a different stage of the movie.

Reportedly, following Johan Santana are John Maine, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez.
Perez was hammered again yesterday by the Cardinals, giving up seven runs on six hits – with three homers in 2 1/3 innings. Of Perez, manager Jerry Manuel said, “he’s a guy we’ve got to watch carefully.’’

Also under a microscope is Pelfrey, who has given up 12 runs in his last two starts.
But, I wonder what juggling the rotation really does. When the rotation is on, managers like to say, “we have five aces.’’ Even the pitchers buy into it saying, “I don’t care where I pitch as long as I pitch.’’

Assuming that’s true, then the worse should also apply. “As long as I pitch,’’ isn’t a comforting thought when we look at the spring ERA’s of Maine, Pelfrey and Perez.

I know, I know, some of you will say spring stats don’t mean anything and you might not be wrong. But, stats are a measure of performance and right now they are screaming the rotation is terrible.

What does juggling the rotation do? As far as I’m concerned it just changes the order of the inevitable.

Mar 07

March 7.10: Looking at the day.

PEREZ: Not a good day.

The good news was obvious, the X-Ray on Mike Pelfrey’s right knee was negative and pitcher Hisanori Takahashi struck out six in three innings.

Based on today’s appearance, Jerry Manuel said they’d have to find a spot for him among the 12 pitchers he’d take north. But, that’s based on today.

Today’s real story line was really about Oliver Perez. Manuel has been raving about how he’s been throwing this spring. There were two positive signs in today’s ugly performance, beginning with no pain in his elbow. He gave up five runs on seven hits and a walk in three innings. But, he was around the plate, throwing 33 of 49 pitches for strikes. That’s a positive.

I’ve been critical of Perez, and he does drive you crazy, but I wrote earlier in spring that I would look at the good from him as a bonus.

I suppose another way of saying that is I don’t expect much. That way I can’t be disappointed.

Feb 25

Feb. 25.10: Fitting in Green.

Sometimes, I just don’t get Jerry Manuel. For instance, when talking about Sean Green, when the topic was his submarine delivery, he said he hopes it doesn’t reduce him to being a specialist.

Huh?

Isn’t that the whole essence of putting together a bullpen, finding a defined role for each guy? Obviously, there’s room for adjustment depending on the game situation, but don’t the terms long-man, closer, eighth-inning set-up man and “left-hander out of the bullpen,’’ all denote specialists?

When Manuel brings in Pedro Feliciano to face Adrian Gonzalez instead of a right-hander isn’t he using a specialist? Hell, each bullpen decision is about match-ups and subsequently about specialization.

As far as being a specialist, Manuel will determine that by how he uses Green. As a submariner, Green should be effective against both right-handed and left-handed, that is, if his ball in down, moving and on the corners.  If Manuel doesn’t want to pigeon-hole Green’s job – which on the surface would seem to be to come in and get the ground ball, especially against right-handed hitters – then he doesn’t have to.

It is Manuel’s job in constructing the bullpen to slot pitchers to different game situations. To say he doesn’t want Green to be a specialist is contrary to what should be going on.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with specialists as long as they do their job. In the basic sense every reliever should be a specialist in that their role should simply be to get hitters out, which has been a widespread problem of the bullpen the last three years.