Jul 30

Time For Mets To Cut Bay Loose

Jason Bay is a good guy. He plays sound defense and hustles. All admirable qualities. He just isn’t hitting and that’s what the Mets are paying him $66 million to do. It’s also something he hasn’t done in just under three years here.

BAY: No more smiles.

Two months remain in likely the Mets’ sixth straight season without seeing the playoffs. With hours remaining before the trade deadline, he’s impossible to deal. Nobody wants his contract, and heading into tonight’s game at San Francisco on an 0-for-22 slide, there’s no indication he’s about to snap out of his funk.

Bay is hitting .159 with five homers and eight RBI. When he’s not hitting, he’s been hurt.

Terry Collins said Bay is concerned with losing the respect of his teammates, which sounds commendable, but in reality is totally within his capabilities if he’d just hit the ball – even occasionally.

The Mets have been exceedingly patient with Bay, but it hasn’t worked for either party. It is getting clearer the Mets aren’t going anywhere this season, and Bay isn’t about to turn it around.

The Mets cut their losses with Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, and it’s time they did the same with Bay. The Mets decided they were better off without those distractions, but Bay has become one himself. Bay is more team oriented in attitude than Perez or Castillo, but has done nothing to help them on the field.

It is time they cut ties with him.

Jul 06

Mets’ Victory Microcosm Of First Half; David Wright Showing MVP Mettle

For those of you who missed the first half of the season, you got the gist of things if you tuned in last night’s victory over the Phillies.

WRIGHT: Delivers again. (AP)

David Wright, who delivered the game-winner in the ninth along with hitting a homer, said as much when he indicated the Mets worked every at-bat and utilized every out. No waste for these Mets.

“It seems like all year we’ve had that never-say-die attitude, continuing to play the game no matter what the score is,” said Wright, whose four RBI all came with two outs.

It has been like this all year for Wright, who, despite only 11 homers, is a legit MVP candidate, even if Mets fans don’t vote with the fervor or Giants fans for the All-Star team.

With Jason Bay down, and Ike Davis and Lucas Duda slumping at various times, Wright has been the mainstay of this lineup. If the MVP was announced today, could anybody begrudge Wright if he were the winner? There’s a lot of season left, but how soon before we hear the MVP chanting?

The ninth began with Davis going the opposite way on Jonathan Papelbon, and included a bunt by Josh Thole and a drawn-out walk by Ruben Tejada that showed a lot of patience. All that fundamental work paid off when Daniel Murphy singled off Papelbon’s leg.

DICKEY: Keeps Mets in game. (AP)

From there, the outcome was a foregone conclusion. The Mets weren’t going to lose.

The only concern was R.A. Dickey, who matched a career high by giving 11 hits. Even so, he pitched with guile and got out of enough trouble where he kept the Mets in the game. Really, that’s the most important thing.

And, as usual, he was stand-up after the game.

“I didn’t deserve a no-decision, I deserved to lose tonight,” Dickey said. “The guys picked me up.”

Actually, they returned the favor.

 

Jun 06

Jason Bay Back For Mets …. Kind Of

Jason Bay was activated from the disabled list this afternoon, but isn’t in the lineup for tonight’s game at Washington. Just as well, as there’s no great desire on my part to see him play. Not yet, anyway.

BAY: Welcome back?

I am leaning toward the camp of a player not losing his job because of injury, but that can’t be absolute. With the Mets, when David Wright goes down he should play again when he’s able. Wright’s track record of production warrants that right, or respect, if you will.

However, in the two plus years Bay has been with the Mets, what exactly has he done to earn that privilege? Has he had a run of production similar to the small window opened by Kirk Nieuwenhuis? I’d say no. With Nieuwenhuis playing, there’s a reasonable expectation of something good happening. You can’t criticize Bay’s defense or hustle. It the combination of both which landed him on the disabled list to begin with. However, the Mets aren’t paying him all that money just for defense. Mix in a RBI once in awhile.

The Mets won’t eat Bay’s contract and release him. His contract makes him impossible to trade. He will play, but does it have to be right away with the team playing so well.

With the Mets facing six games on the road in AL parks in New York and Tampa, there’s an opportunity to gradually ease him back in the DH role. That’s one of the perks – if you can call it that – of interleague play.

I’d go that route first, then work him back into the outfield spotting Nieuwenhuis in left, Andres Torres in center and Lucas Duda in right.  And, with Ike Davis having problems at the plate, I’d even see if Bay can play a little first base.

Afterall, any bit of information is useful, right?

During spring training, Terry Collins said he would be reluctant to move Duda from right to first and Daniel Murphy from second to third, or first, because he wanted them to just concentrate on learning their new positions. Duda has been taking grounders at first, which Collins explained away as keeping him sharp in anticipation of double switches.

Should Bay return and start raking, he should play, but I’d be hesitant to jump right in with him on an everyday basis. I’d make him earn it. You see, there’s a good feeling with the Mets again. They are relevant, with an emphasis on team. That’s why I was disappointed in Davis expressing reluctance in going down to the minors to work on his hitting. That’s why I don’t want to see playing time going to someone simply because of his contractual status.

That would be a step back.

 

Apr 25

Terry Collins Doing Right Thing By Sticking With Ike Davis

Ike Davis is having a horrid start to this season, hitting .131 with 21 strikeouts in 61 at-bats. It’s been all or nothing for Davis, mostly nothing in his comeback from last year’s ankle injury.

DAVIS: Anguished (AP).

Davis is on pace to hit 29 homers, but with only 67 RBI. He’s also on pace to draw 38 walks, but strike out a staggering 200 times. If the Mets are to make this a fun summer, they must get a turnaround from Davis.

Terry Collins is betting on Davis playing his way out of this rather than try to find his swing in the minor leagues.

“I truly believe the only way to get out of something like this is to make sure he continues to get in there and get at-bats,” Collins said.

Collins pinch hit for Davis last night, and will do so again if the situation dictates, but said Davis will be in there and that’s the best way to right

While Collins is demonstrating confidence in Davis, it must be remembered the Mets have few alternatives should they option him. They could move Daniel Murphy to first, but that would only delay his acclimation to second base.

They could play Zach Lutz for a few games, but Davis is the future and eventually must learn to play himself out of slumps. He might as well learn now.

Apr 19

Looking At The Numbers For The Mets, Wright And Others

We’re two weeks into the young season and I’d like to share some of my first impressions and hear yours. The Mets, despite losing three of their last four games, are among the early surprises, as are several of their players.

WRIGHT: Has reason to smile.

They are playing better than anticipated and on pace to win 93 games. I don’t believe they will sustain that, but who wouldn’t take .500 if it were guaranteed? I would because it is the next step in the franchise’s development.

Ever since I was a kid I loved the early season numbers and projections. It was fun to think of all those players breaking Roger Maris’ 61 homers, but knew nobody would come close. When it finally happened and I learned why, it wasn’t fun anymore.

For example, David Wright’s .500 average leads the majors and is one of six players hitting over .400 and 28 over .340. There won’t be a .400 hitter – and maybe never will again – and I’d be willing to bet there won’t be anybody over .340.

Both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda are on track to hit 41 homers and drive in 81 and 68 runs, respectively. They have the strength to hit that many homers, but I don’t think either has the plate presence or pitcher knowledge to do so. At least not this year. Their RBI totals are reasonable.

Wright won’t hit .500 or get the 230 hits projected of him, but I’d take the 28 homers and 108 RBI. The latter two should be worthy of a contract extension.

The Mets would gladly take those numbers from Wright, as they would Frank Francisco’s projected 41 saves.

Pitching wise, the Mets’ 3.69 ERA is sixth in the National League, which is a substantial improvement from last year. Also, their 43 walks allowed are 11th in the league, but ten of those came in one game. That needs to get better. They are second in the league with 101 strikeouts, an average of over eight a game that translates into working out of a lot of trouble.

In addition to the Mets, the surprise teams on the positive are Washington, the Dodgers, St. Louis and Baltimore. The Cardinals, minus Albert Pujols, Tony La Russa and Chris Carpenter, just keep rolling.

I thought the Nationals would be better, but not this good. They won’t keep playing at this rate, but their pitching is good enough to keep them contending. Their ERA of 1.92 is first; they are tied for seventh in fewest walks and first in strikeouts.

On the negative, the Phillies will climb in the standings, as will the Angels, Boston and the Yankees.

Individually, four players are on pace to hit over 60 homers, which isn’t supposed to happen in the new steroid-free era. One of those players is Carlos Beltran, who hasn’t made the Cardinals forget Pujols, but has softened the blow.

Speaking of Pujols, he hasn’t homered and is on pace for 54 RBI. He’s also on track for 81 strikeouts, which would be the second highest of his career. His 41 walks would be the lowest of his career.

I don’t believe the Cardinals will regret losing Pujols in the long term. Pujols is a future Hall of Famer and will eventually adjust to the American League and before it is over post impressive numbers. The Cardinals can live with that because even if Pujols plays another ten years, they would have gotten the best years of his career.

The most fun stats to project are the individual player numbers. The Dodgers’ Matt Kemp is on pace to hit .460 with a .500 on-base percentage, 287 hits, 87 homers and 224 RBI.

Incidentally, on the flip side, Jose Reyes is on track to play in 162 games (yeah, as if that will happen), hit .226 with a .276 on-base percentage, with 37 steals, 50 walks and 100 strikeouts.

Neither Kemp’s nor Reyes’ numbers will reach fruition, but on an off day it is fun to tinker with the numbers.