Apr 25

The Mets and their winning ways.

Good day all. Mets are off today, then on to Washington and Philadelphia. They are winners of four straight and playing good baseball, the kind of baseball they promised during spring training.

Some are saying the Mets’ recent success is because they played Arizona, but don’t forget, the Diamondbacks pretty much had their way against them recently.

So, what has been the difference?

Like with the losing, it isn’t just one thing to point to, but a myriad of issues.

First, as usual, it begins with starting pitching, which has been excellent, averaging seven innings and a 2.63 ERA over the past six games. Wouldn’t it be sweet to get that for the entire season?

In addition to shutting down the opposition the first part of the game, the length given by the starters enabled manager Terry Collins to set up his bullpen and cut down on the appearances by some of the more combustible relievers, notably D.J. Carrasco, who was optioned in order to keep Dillon Gee on the roster.

The bullpen has responded, in part by the absence of the ineffective and injured Bobby Parnell, which allows Collins to go to the more experienced and productive Jason Isringhausen. I’m not saying Parnell won’t ever make it, but for now Isringhausen is the better choice.

It will be interesting to see how Gee’s role changes over the next 10 days to two weeks. He’s been an effective starter, but he’s sure to see time in long relief.

“We think is Dillon does have to move into a different role, we want to see how he performs,’’ general manager Sandy Alderson said.

The Mets’ hot streak also coincides with the return of Jason Bay to the batting order. Bay has played well and offers a degree of protection to Carlos Beltran and David Wright. Bay also returns Willie Harris and Scott Hairston to the bench, which was thin.

Wright is hitting again and Ike Davis has been hot. Also, Beltran has stayed upright and is hitting.  Maybe it was time to catch a break, but when the struggling Angel Pagan went down, Jason Pridie was brought up and has performed.

Is there even such a player as Ronny Paulino? He was supposed to be activated tomorrow, but has a strained oblique.

 

Apr 01

Terry Collins sends open letter to Mets’ fans

What we’ve been waiting for since that final Sunday at Citi Field, when Oliver Perez was booed off the mound for the last time is hours away: The start of another era in Mets’ history.

COLLINS: A new era begins

The Yankees had their moment yesterday, and I’m watching Roy Halladay and the Phillies are in a pitching duel with Houston. Meanwhile, in Florida, Mets manager Terry Collins is already at the ballpark and his players are trickling into the clubhouse.

For today, at least, the disappointments of the past have given way to optimism despite the issues – on and off the field – swirling around this team. It’s Opening Day, for some the real New Year’s day, and the air is full of hope and positive feelings.

Collins, who hasn’t stopped working since he was hired to replace Jerry Manuel, began his work day by sending the following open letter to Mets’ fans:

 

Dear Mets Fan:

With our 2011 opener tonight in Florida, I want to make this pledge to Mets fans — our team will play the game the right way.

We will always hustle on the bases, run balls down in the outfield and never take anything for granted, no matter the score of the game.

We had a great Spring Training. From Day 1 my message has been look ahead, not backward, and not to worry about what the people outside the clubhouse are saying. If we pitch and play defense like I know we can, we will surprise a lot of people, a lot of people.

I stack our lineup against anyone else’s in the league. Getting Carlos Beltran back and hitting cleanup is really big. The way Carlos handled his move to right field was one of the classiest things I have ever seen. Angel Pagan is coming off a great season. While we had a little setback this week with Jason Bay — who was swinging the bat well — going on the disabled list, he shouldn’t be out too long. We believe with the three of them on the field, we have one of the top outfields in baseball.

Our infield is anchored by the two All-Stars on the left side: David Wright at third and Jose Reyes at short. I think David will add on to his numbers from last year and Jose is ready to have a tremendous season. He is one of the most dynamic players in the game. Ike Davis will continue to develop at first base and Josh Thole is one of the fine young catchers in the game. Brad Emaus, a Rule 5 pick, got better and better as the spring went on and won the second base job.

On the mound, sure, we are going to miss Johan Santana until he comes back, hopefully in mid-year. But this spring, I think we established a solid rotation with Mike Pelfrey, followed by R.A. Dickey and Jonathon Niese. Chris Young and Chris Capuano proved that they are healthy, and they really strengthen us on the back end.

We remade our bullpen and we think we have quality arms who throw strikes to get to closer Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod has just had a fantastic spring and I never have seen him throwing better. People like Bobby Parnell, D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz, Blaine Boyer, Tim Byrdak and Pedro Beato — another Rule 5 selection who is from Queens — will give us a solid ‘pen.

I believe we have fortified our bench with the additions of Scott Hairston, Willie Harris, Ronny Paulino (who will begin the year on the disabled list) and Chin-lung Hu, along with Daniel Murphy.

It’s been 12 years since I have started a season as a Major League manager. I can’t tell you how proud I am to be leading the New York Mets and am very excited about the season ahead.

Thanks for your support and see you at Citi Field.

Sincerely,

Terry Collins

 

Realistically, I didn’t expect Collins to write anything else, but then again I don’t recall a gesture like this recently from a Mets’ manager. David Wright said Collins’ team speech to close spring training was like something out of “Hoosiers.”

Maybe the odds are as long for the Mets this year as they were for Hickory High School, but for today at least, it is time to believe in miracles.

Afterall, isn’t that what Opening Days are for.

 

NEXT UP: Tonight’s lineup and 2011 Over/Unders