Sep 01

Mets By The Numbers: Finishing Strong

We are at arguably the worst part of the season. The dreams of March and April, followed by the anticipation of a strong start have faded into mediocrity. The second half collapse after the break robbed us of meaningful baseball in September.

Sure, the Mets could play a spoiler role, but really, what fun is that? If the Mets wanted to spoil things for the Nationals they had numerous opportunities this summer.

WRIGHT: Aiming for 90 to 100 RBI. (AP)

No, this is the time of year, with winter looming, that forces us to take some statistical interest in the Mets, both as a team and individually. Here’s what I’d like to see:

1) Team: On Sept. 1, finishing .500 and in third place are possible. Third moreso than .500 as the Mets are eight under. Can they finish eight over the rest of the way? They reached that level only once. Of all things, it’s the one I’d like to see most. As far as third place goes, it is better than fourth, but still won’t be close.

2) David Wright: Earlier this summer, when the Mets were streaking and Wright was hovering around .500, he was a legit MVP candidate. He’s at .316 with 17 homers and 78 RBI. It would take a monster September, but I’d like for him to reach over 90 RBI, maybe 100. If he does, he most likely would have over 20 homers and be hitting over .300.

3) R.A. Dickey: He’s at the top of all NL pitching categories. The competition is strong, so even 20 wins – he has 17 – will be formidable for the Cy Young Award. Dickey leads with three shutouts and also has four complete games. All with a tough pitch to master.

4) Ike Davis: Davis was below .200 for much of the season, but is at  .224 with 25 homers and 74 RBI now. It would take a blistering month to finish at .240, but if he does, he’ll probably reach the 30 homers and 90 RBI levels. That would be a good season.

5) Jon Niese: He been erratic and has 10 wins. I’d take 13 or 14 now. Would be a nice thing to shoot for.

6) Daniel Murphy: He’s fallen below .300 to .285. I can see him getting back to .295, but .300 would be difficult.

There are others, such as Ruben Tejada hitting .300 and Lucas Duda belting 17 homers. However, for the remainder of the team, for guys like Josh Thole, Andres Torres and Jason Bay, there’s not much left to be aiming for as their numbers are so woefully weak.

For the above, reaching those levels would take some of the sting from the season and perhaps make the winter more palatable. Individual numbers is what passes for meaningful baseball in September for the Mets.

 

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.