Feb 19

Feb. 19.10: Manuel likes Reyes third.

Manager Jerry Manuel, in talking to the press for the first time this spring, said he likes the idea of batting Jose Reyes third. I don’t understand why you’d want to take arguably the best leadoff hitter in the game and tinker with him.

REYES: Leave him alone.

REYES: Leave him alone.


Reyes, if he works on his game – bunting, hitting the ball on the ground, drawing more walks – could become one of the game’s all-time leadoff hitters. A modern day Rickey Henderson, perhaps.

The numbers suggest leaving him where he is. Over the past three seasons, Reyes is batting .293 leading off an inning and .295 with nobody on base. Conversely, he is batting .267 with RISP, .230 with RISP and two outs, and .205 with the bases loaded.

The offensive criticism of Reyes is he sometimes plays outside his game, and once he hits a home run or two starts swinging for the fences, which is away from his strength. Why put him into a slot in the order where he could become prone to bad habits?

The reasons I can fathom moving Reyes to third are two-fold, 1) the Mets don’t expect Carlos Beltran back soon, and 2) the Mets are more worried about Reyes’ running and speed than they are willing to admit.

For years, we’ve been told Reyes was the ignition to the offense, that as he goes so do the Mets. But, that was predicated on him batting leadoff. I have been critical of Reyes at times, but that’s when he takes plays off. However, the Mets’ inability to win since 2006 have nothing to do with him.

Another way to look at this are to examine the other options. There’s nobody comparable to Reyes as a leadoff hitter, but David Wright is capable of hitting third, followed by Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur. It’s not Philly, but it is a good 3-4-5.

There’s plenty of issues with this team, tinkering with Reyes shouldn’t be one of them.

Sep 18

About that vote of confidence ….

Supposedly, manager Jerry Manuel has been given a vote of confidence by management/ownership, but is that melting away?

For the longest time I thought Manuel would get a pass on this season because of the injuries that crippled this roster. I still think it might play out that way, but now I’m wondering if that’s the best way to go.

MANUEL: Is the inspiration there?

MANUEL: Is the inspiration there?


The Mets have responded with only four victories in September, which for the third straight season, has become a lost month. And, if you look back on it, September 2006 wasn’t so red hot, either.

Injuries are part of the game which must be overcome, but sometimes they understandably can’t be because no team – not even the Yankees – have the depth to withstand what happened to the Mets this season. However, is that any excuse for such shoddy play?

For all the talk of how the Mets were going to be a fundamentally sound team this season, and for all the work done in spring training, this team is horrible in that area. For example:

1) The baserunning has been terrible (21 nailed at the plate).
2) Too many at-bats are wasted.
3) The situational hitting is often not there, and their high average with RISP is a misnomer because they aren’t scoring the runs.
4) Defensively, too often the outfielders overthrow the cutoff man.
5) Way too many errors for a team that doesn’t have the power to overcome them.
6) The staff has walked well over 500 opposing batters and might push 600 for the season.

All that is a reflection on the manager and coaching staff. In addition, the team has no life right now, and their record is not an excuse for the lack of spark. Conversely, the lack of spark is a contributor to the record.

All this comes back to Manuel and the staff. If the Mets were playing smart, aggressive baseball, this wouldn’t even be an issue. Injuries are beyond a manager’s control, but the attitude and fundamental base of the team isn’t.

Sep 17

About Last Night …. Typical

For those of you fortunate enough to have missed the 2009 Mets season, it was neatly wrapped up in last night’s 6-5 loss at Atlanta in another example of creative losing. Yes, the game was the season in one capsule.

Maybe the only thing that didn’t happen was an injury, which brings us to the bottom line: Injuries are part of the game, but you still have to play the game.

And, for a long time now, the Mets have not played the game the right way.

There was lousy starting pitching, with Bobby Parnell giving up four runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings. For all the talk about the Mets leading the NL in hitting with runners in scoring position, they still blow too many opportunities. Last night, they went 4-12 and left 14 runners.

There was Francisco Rodriguez’s sixth blown save in another adventuresome outing. No, Rodriguez didn’t get much help, and threw Daniel Murphy under the bus when he said “that play has to be made.” Then again, if you’re going to make the money K-Rod does, then pitch better. Of the seven hitters he faced, he only threw two first-pitch strikes. He was behind all the time. Couldn’t the results have been different if he were ahead in the count?

Cody Ross scores the winning run on Murphy's error.

Cody Ross scores the winning run on Murphy's error.


And, there was poor fielding, with Murphy making three bad plays in the ninth inning, including the game-winning blunder when he botched Ryan Church’s grounder to enable Cody Ross to score. He should’ve been given two errors on the play.

“I’ve got to make that play,” Murphy said. “I make it 100 times. I booted it and tonight we lost the ballgame.”

Yes, he did, but as often as been the case this year it shouldn’t have come down to one play. Had Murphy come up with a double to lead off the inning, and he was guarding the line, the horror never would have unfolded.

Then again, if the Mets didn’t leave all those runners, it wouldn’t have mattered.

“We had our chances,” manager Jerry Manuel said of the missed scoring opportunities.

The Mets’ league-leading average with RISP is a misnomer because they are 11th in runs scored. Unbelievably, they’ve had 21 runners thrown out at the plate. Razor Shines needs to be evaluated at the end of the season, too. There’s no telling how many games that cost them.

In addition to guys getting nailed, I can’t remember when I’ve seen so many runners unable to score because the hit with a runner on second was an infield hit or a slap job to left where he had to hold. I’m sure there’s a stat somewhere. Then again, I could go through the play-by-play of every game, but I don’t want to get sick. So, that BA with RISP can be a bogus stat, because if you’re not scoring, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.

Let’s go over some of them.

In addition to last night, there was Murphy’s dropped fly in Florida; Sean Green’s WP to score the game-winner in Philly; the Luis Castillo pop-up at Yankee Stadium; blowing a five-run lead in a loss to Pittsburgh; Church’s failure to touch third in LA; losing two games in one week on grand slams; the triple play to end a loss to Philly; the Mike Pelfrey three-balk game.

There are others.

Parnell should have been left in.

Parnell should have been left in.

However, as bad as the Mets played last night, what aggravated me most was taking out Parnell and not giving him a chance to work out of trouble and develop his presence. Look, I’ve accepted a long time ago the Mets weren’t going to do win this season. It was some time in early August when I wrote the remainder of the season should go toward finding answers for 2010.

One of those questions is Parnell. He HAS NOT shown he can handle starting on this level for several reasons. He gets behind in the count too frequently. He had only nine first pitch strikes out of 20 hitters. But, all that’s part of the learning curve. He also doesn’t have command of his secondary pitches.

I don’t like how Parnell has been yanked around. He went into spring training not knowing his role (reliever in the majors or starter in the minors). After being decided he would be a middle-inning guy, out of necessity he was thrown into the eighth-inning role, where he had problems. Then, it was decided he would start.

The Mets were already cooked when the decision was made to put him in the rotation because of injuries to Johan Santana and Oliver Perez. OK, he has to learn on the fly. That’s hard. But, don’t make it more difficult by threatening to remove him after a bad start.

What Manuel is doing is unfair and hurts his confidence more than getting beat. Give him the chance to pitch out of the fourth. It is the only way he’s going to learn. And, speaking of learning, despite his shortcomings as a hitter, Brian Schneider does call a good game, and maybe he should be the one to work with the rookie instead of Josh Thole. Don’t get me wrong, I like Thole, but he’s learning, too.

The point is, Parnell has been forced to learn on the fly, and when that happens, mistakes will be made. The same goes for Murphy, who failed in left and only went to first with the injury to Carlos Delgado. When you have players out of position, this stuff happens.

Of course, this leads us to another point. When all the players went down, the Mets didn’t have the resources on the minor league level to bring up or to trade for help. The cupboard is bare, and that responsibility is on management.

Things aren’t going to get any better soon, and they won’t until the Mets decide what direction they are heading. If it’s rebuilding and evaluating, they are going to take their lumps. If it is to win, well, that’s not going to happen soon, either.

Of all the things that happened last night, what irked me most was Manuel throwing his gum after the Murphy error. Yeah, he’s frustrated, but he just sent the message he’s disgusted with his team and that doesn’t help anybody.

Sep 09

What’s wrong with Wright?

Sorry for getting out of the blocks late today. There was a job lead I needed to follow-up on and several phone calls that needed to me made. I was under consideration to cover Alabama football, but that didn’t pan out. Would have been interesting.

I’m working on several projects, one of which is ghost writing a book on martial arts. Very interesting subject. Once it is done, I’ll post where you can get a copy.

Anyway, I wanted to thank you guys again for last night’s blog. It is what I envisioned when I kept the blog going. It should be like a group of friends getting together at my house or a sports bar (better make it the bar, because I don’t want to pick up) with plenty of lively, challenging conversation. It was clean and civil. Some good-natured pokes, but isn’t that the way it should be when you’re with friends?

Most beat writer blogs are simply glorified message boards and chat rooms. Not much serious give-and-take. Intelligent conversation. Good job.

Thanks again.

WRIGHT: We miss that home run stroke.

WRIGHT: We miss that home run stroke.


i did want to talk about David Wright this morning. An absolutely horrible game last night. It’s OK, everybody has them. Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays had horrible games, too. There was one error, but should have been two. A DP and a K with RISP. Wright gets a hit in one of those two spots and maybe the Mets win the game.

Wright is second behind Gary Sheffield (10) with eight homers. Daniel Murphy, Fernando Tatis, Carlos Beltran and Jeff Francoeur could all hit more homers than Wright this year. There are other ways to win besides home runs, but the Mets aren’t doing any of them. If they played consistent, fundamental baseball and kept the line moving, advanced runners, and hit when the situation declares it, their lack of power could be tolerated.

But, they don’t, and they make too many mistakes defensively, and walk far too many hitters, that dig them into holes. Power is the great eraser, but the Mets don’t have the power to erase the kind of mistakes they are making on a consistent basis.

Wright has done something with his stance and is just not driving the ball as he used to. I don’t care if he hits .320 as long as there is some run production, but there is not.

There is NOT ONE explanation for what has happened to Wright. The altercation of his stance is a contributing factor, and he obviously doesn’t feel as if he could adjust without getting into a funk. That happens. There is the added pressure of being the only one of the core playing for much of the season, and that has taken a toll. There is also the perception of Citi Field not being a hitter friendly park, but that has changed as the season wore on. Plenty of home runs are being hit, just not by the Mets.

WRIGHT: Needs hitting overhaul.

WRIGHT: Needs hitting overhaul.


Yes, lack of protection in the batting order plays a part, but then again, Albert Pujols and Barry Bonds, went seasons without serious back-up and look at their numbers. In all fairness, Pujols and Bonds are elite players above Wright’s level.

Wright has run either hot and cold all season. His average is good, but there needs to be more RBI next to it, even without the homers. Some of that could be attributed to those hitting in front of him, but remember, Luis Castillo has had a good season.

Most perplexing to me about Wright has been the strikeouts. He has 115 already and is on a pace for 138 (a little over 24 percent of his at-bats). Conversely, he’s on a pace for 79 walks. He’s also on pace for career lows in homers (10) and RBI (71), yet, his .406 on-base percentage would be the second highest of his career.

Wright’s power out age might have been more acceptable had Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado stayed healthy. Nonetheless, Wright has established himself as a power run-producer. We can write this season off as a bad one, but he’ll get no such slack next season.

Wright is the face of this franchise, like it or not, and his job description is to hit for more power. Whether we blame Wright for being stubborn or hitting coach Howard Johnson is immaterial. Wright needs to make an overhaul of his stance and mechanics this winter and return to being a run producer. That’s his job.

Apr 22

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #14; Maine needs to turn it on.

CHAT ROOM

CHAT ROOM

John Maine throws tonight for the Mets. I say throw, because he hasn’t done a whole lot of pitching lately. He’ll start strong, then unravel in Oliver Perez fashion.
MAINE: Needs consistency.

MAINE: Needs consistency.


Tonight its the Cardinals, who came from four runs down, and as the recipients of Daniel Murphy’s fielding blunders and Carlos Beltran’s decision not to slide at the plate, beat the Mets. It was arguably their worst game of the year.

With Maine on the mound, the Mets can’t afford another flawed performance. They have to do something they haven’t for most of the season, which is produce with RISP because there’s no promise Maine will be able to shut them down.