Jul 12

Update on first-half questions.

When pitchers and catchers reported Feb. 18, I posted five key questions the Mets faced heading into the season. Let’s revisit those questions at the All-Star break.

1) Question: What is this team’s attitude?

Assessment: By all accounts, it has been superb. There is a different chemistry in the Mets clubhouse than I have previously seen. The Mets have shown a remarkable resiliency to bounce back from adversity and Sunday’s win is just another example. There have been no issues about a lack of hustle, and no finger pointing. Both Jeff Francoeur and Angel Pagan said the right things about the prospect of reduced playing time as Carlos Beltran is about to be activated from the disabled list. The only sour note was, surprise, Oliver Perez’s refusal to accept a minor league assignment, instead, waiting for the disabled list to leave the roster to work on his issues.

2) Question: How healthy is this team?

Assessment: Injuries sabotaged the 2009 season, and injuries have cost Beltran and Daniel Murphy in the first half, and Jose Reyes for nearly a month. Beltran is due back to start the second half, but there’s no timetable for the return of Murphy, who reinjured his knee while on a rehab assignment. Murphy was playing second base at the time in preparation for a position change. After treating Reyes with kid gloves in the wake of his thyroid issue, the Mets rushed him back from an oblique injury, which he aggravated Saturday. There’s no telling how long he’ll be out. Luis Castillo is on the disabled list and his is another injury where the Mets tried to have him play through. Fortunately, his replacement, Ruben Tejada, has been more than filled the void. Reliever Kelvim Escobar, penciled in as a set-up man, is out for the year with a shoulder injury. The Mets are still trying to find an eighth-inning solution. Oliver Perez and John Maine are currently on the disabled list.

3) Question: What is the status of the three pitching questions, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and John Maine?

Assessment: Pelfrey made a point of saying he understood this trio represented a significant key to the Mets’ success this season. Perez and Maine are on the disabled list, but the team upgraded with R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi. Pelfrey was superb for much of the first half but has been going through a dead arm period and has been largely ineffective over his last five starts. Perez balked at a minor league assignment, but an injury was found that conveniently landed him on the disabled list. He has been sound, and somewhat effective, in his rehab assignment. Look for the Mets to activate him shortly after the break and send Takahashi back to the bullpen. There’s no timetable for Maine’s return.

4) Question: Who is fifth starter?

Assessment: Fernando Nieve, Jon Niese, Nelson Figueroa and Hisanori Takahashi were in the mix in the spring, but Niese won the job and has been very good since coming off the disabled list. Niese has been so good that management tabbed him untouchable when Seattle asked for him in trade discussions surrounding Cliff Lee. Figueroa is now in Philadelphia, while Nieve is in the bullpen. Takahashi replaced Perez in the rotation and pitched well at first, but clearly showed he’s more valuable in the bullpen. The Mets are searching for a fifth starter in the trade market, as there are lingering questions about Perez and Maine.

5) Question: What is the make-up of the bullpen?

Assessment: Jenrry Mejia went north in the pen in an undefined role, but eventually went to the minor leagues to work on being a starter, when he was injured. Losing Escobar went a large part in opening the door for Mejia, who threw hard, but never grasped the eighth-inning role. Bobby Parnell, who appeared to wash you last year, now appears to be the arm having the inside track in the eighth inning to start the second half. Ryota Igarashi was the guy at one time, but pulled a hamstring and hasn’t been the same since. He’s now in the minor leagues. Nieve and Pedro Feliciano were over worked early, and still have heavy workloads. The distribution of work should be improved when Takahashi goes back to the bullpen.

Jun 04

Castillo to DL; tonight’s lineup

Second baseman Luis Castillo was placed on the 15-day disabled list and Ruben Tejada was promoted from Class AAA Buffalo.

Manager Jerry Manuel said Tejada would get a bulk of the playing time, beginning tonight against the Marlins.

Tonight’s lineup:

Jose Reyes, SS

Angel Pagan, CF

Jason Bay, LF

Ike Davis, 1B

David Wright, 3B

Rod Barajas, C

Jeff Francoeur, RF

Ruben Tejada, 2B

R.A. Dickey, RP

Jun 04

Castillo headed for DL?

Expect second baseman Luis Castillo to be placed on the disabled list prior to tonight’s game against Florida. In compensating for a bone bruise to his left heel, Castillo has developed problems with his right leg.

CASTILLO: DL bound?

This hasn’t been played out well at all. Castillo has been bothered by the bone bruise for several weeks now and only aggravates it when he plays. Had he gone on the DL weeks ago, he might be back and ready to play by now.

Ruben Tejada, who impressed the Mets during spring training, has been hitting better at Class AAA Buffalo and would be the likely call-up.

The Mets will also activate Jon Niese from the disabled list (hamstring) and he will start Saturday against the Marlins. Unless the Mets can convince Oliver Perez to take a minor league assignment, the Mets will have to option somebody to the minors. The choices are Elmer Dessens, Jenrry Mejia and Ryota Igarashi, the latter who has not pitched well since coming off the disabled list.

Based solely on recent performance, Igarashi should be the odd man out, but things don’t always work that way. Dessens was the last pitcher brought in and manager Jerry Manuel wants to try him as the eighth-inning set-up man.

The Mets have said they would not send Mejia down to stretch him out to become a starter, but that situation might have changed.

The ultimate irony: Perez holds his ground and the Mets option out Mejia. Then weeks later Mejia is brought back as a starter, and to make room for him Perez is cut.

May 12

May 12.10: Davis goes all out.

There’s only one way to play the game and that’s all out, which is what Ike Davis has shown us during his three-week Mets career.

Last night marked the third time he’s gone over the dugout railing to make a catch, this time it was a game-ender.

Said Davis: “It’s not that far a drop. I’d rather end the game than worry about getting a bruise.’’

More telling, is Davis said he’d make the same effort regardless of the score.

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Was last night a breakout game for Jason Bay?

“I would like to say yes, but I can’t stand here and tell you that everything is hunky dory,’’ said Bay, who had three singles and a bases-loaded walk. “It’s a feel thing, and I am starting to feel a lot better.’’
Bay has been struggling all season, the first of a four-year, $66 million deal. He entered the game batting .248 and ended it at .263, but with still only one homer.

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Luis Castillo is playing with an orthopedic wrap on his left foot to protect a bone bruise that has bothered him since spring training.

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How much playing time Chris Carter gets remains to be seen, but for now it looks as if it will be as a pinch-hitter. With Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur had productive games last night so they probably won’t rest, but it is a day game today so you never can tell.

Carter delivered a RBI double last night in the Mets’ six-run eighth inning. “It’s a great feeling,’’ Carter said. “It’s really special. I definitely felt like part of the team right there.’’

Apr 19

April 19.10: Chat Room, Game #13 vs. Cubs: Ike Davis arrives.

The Ike Davis Era was born out of necessity, with the Mets having waived Mike Jacobs, Daniel Murphy injured and Fernando Tatis an unacceptable option.

“I don’t see him as a savior,’’ manager Jerry Manuel said. “I see him as a complement.’’

And, Mets fans will see him, said general manager Omar Minaya.

“We need to get better production from first base, so why not promote the kid,’’ Minaya said. “I talked to Jerry about (Davis’ playing time). You’re not going to bring a kid like that to platoon.’’

Here’s tonight’s line-up for the Mets (4-8):

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Jason Bay, LF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Ike Davis, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Alex Cora, SS
Jon Niese, LP