May 02

May 2.10: Chat Room, Game #25 at Phillies: On the rebound.

It’s good to be back. I see we didn’t miss much yesterday. For nearly two weeks everything broke right for the Mets, then it unraveled in dominating fashion Saturday. Getting blitzed by ten runs is being dominated as convincing as it gets.

The Mets won the opening game of the series behind Jon Niese Friday, and the Phillies rolled behind Roy Halladay Saturday in Mike Pelfrey’s first loss of the season. That brings us to Johan Santana, the pitcher the Mets count on to make things right and plenty went wrong yesterday.

Tonight it’s Santana (3-1, 2.08 ERA) against Jamie Moyer (2-2, 5.25). Santana has won his last two games, giving up one run over his last 21 1/3 innings. Santana has gone at least seven innings in seven of his last eight starts against the Phillies – going 4-0 – so the Mets have reason to be optimistic tonight.

The streak wasn’t going to last forever, and logically one had to figure they weren’t going to sweep the Phillies. But, if this series was a test, so is tonight as it will be interesting to see how they respond from yesterday. Tonight is a gut check on several levels.

Apr 30

April 30/May 1.10: Chat Room, Games #23-24 at Phillies: Niese and Pelfrey carry the load.

The last time the Mets played the Phillies they lost to be officially eliminated from playoff contention. That was last September, but the truth is the Mets were cooked long before that game. It was one of 12 games the Mets lost to their rivals at the other end of the Jersey Turnpike last season, one that went horribly wrong for them.

In the previous two seasons, the Phillies overtook the Mets on the final weekend and went on to the World Series.

The first-place Mets are back in Philly tonight for the start of a three-game series against the Phillies.
The Mets, winners of seven straight, are the majors’ hottest team, and enter the series with their three most consistent pitchers, Jon Niese tonight followed by Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana.

“If we go out there and we do what we’re capable of, I think we’re going to be fine,’’ said Pelfrey, Saturday’s starter against Roy Halladay. “I don’t think it matters who we’re playing. It’s just a matter of going out there and executing. If we do that, we can play with anybody.’’

In breaking down the series, Santana figures to have the edge Sunday and Halladay should be favored over Pelfrey, which leaves the toss-up game tonight that boils down to how well Niese does against Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

The Mets’ offense is starting to heat up, and it couldn’t come at a better time for Niese, who has gotten no more than one run in any of his last four starts.

The power keys are Jason Bay and David Wright, who shook slumps in the Los Angeles series.

Still, these are the Phillies and strange things often happen in that bandbox of a park. The Mets are streaking, but an argument can be made they won nine of ten games against the Cubs, Braves and Dodgers, all teams struggling lately. The Phillies have stumbled a bit – enough to where the Mets passed them – but manager Manuel is right in that they are the class of the league.

“It will be a good barometer as far as where you stand,’’ said Bay. “They’re obviously one of the top teams in the National League for what they’ve done the last few years. You can’t deny that. And we’re playing pretty good baseball.’’

NOTE: Folks, I have to attend to a family commitment tonight and tomorrow and won’t be on the blog. I will leave the Chat Room open and hope you continue to watch the games and post. I will be back online Sunday.
Sorry I can’t be with you, but I need to take care of this responsibility.

Apr 30

April 30.10: On to Philly.

The Mets didn’t win anything on their recent homestand and they won’t win anything this weekend in Philadelphia.

Neither will the Phillies.

The most important thing coming out of the homestand, and this weekend’s series, is it has made the Mets’ season relevant again. It might have started with the promotion of Ike Davis and ended with perhaps the best 10-game regular season stretch in franchise history, but in between we saw the Mets play alert, aggressive baseball.

We saw the Mets play as they promised us they would. We saw them play as if they wanted our attention.

And, they deserved it.

What I am looking forward to in this series are three games of intense baseball, of a rivalry where the competitive juices are flowing.

After all the promoting it as such, it finally is a rivalry worth paying attention to again. Each one of the games has a special nugget of intrigue.

Tonight is about Jon Niese and how the young pitcher will respond to the pressure of a high profile game. Niese giving the Mets six strong tonight will go a long way toward answering some of their pitching questions. It would also prevent an emotional let down.

After a week-and-a-half of being on an emotional high, tonight is about sustaining. The last thing we want to see is for Niese to get hammered and to lose that good feeling.

Tomorrow, and this is the game I really want to see, is Mike Pelfrey against Roy Halladay. In a season full of tests for Pelfrey, this is another one. Aren’t you curious about seeing him go against an ace?

Sunday it is the stopper, Johan Santana, who would be pitching to either stave off a disappointment or continue the ride. It will be as important a game as you can have in May, and you want your best.

The Mets went 9-1 because they played to their capabilities, but also because they did not try to exceed them. They played within themselves and didn’t try to do something they weren’t capable of doing.

They need that same, level approach this weekend, and if they get it, then it could be the start of a wonderful summer.

Dec 21

Dec. 21.09: Mets miss out on Marquis ….

MARQUIS: Now a Nat.

MARQUIS: Now a Nat.

I spent most of the afternoon in the dentist’s chair. Drove home with the news Jason Marquis – somebody who wanted to play for the Mets – signed a two-year, $15-million deal with the Washington Nationals and bit my lip. Good thing the novocaine hadn’t worn off.

I never had the Mets getting any of the big pitchers, like John Lackey and Roy Halladay, but would settle for a middle-tier arm such as Joel Pineiro, Marquis and Jon Garland.

It’s not that they didn’t get Marquis that is so disturbing, but for how cheaply he went (maybe that does tell you something), but the Mets needed any and all pitching help.

My confidence level in the Mets bringing in an arm of substance is waning, especially considering the news that ESPN is reporting they are considering bringing back Pedro Martinez to a one-year deal at $8 million.

I keep going back in my mind Jeff Wilpon’s vow after the season and Omar Minaya’s pronouncement “we have a plan.”

Think it might be a good time to hear it.

Dec 15

Sorting things out ….

BAY: Still on Mets' radar, but they'd better hurry.

BAY: Still on Mets' radar, but they'd better hurry.

The Mets are dealing with the fall out from the bombshell dealings of yesterday.

I don’t know if stonewalling Jason Bay was a ruse by the Red Sox to get John Lackey. I didn’t think they were going to get him anyway, and it has nothing to do with them misreading the pitching market.

Even so, they should be more aggressive in their pursuit for him if he’s their target. Let’s face it, he has to be because they aren’t going to give Matt Holliday what the Cardinals are reportedly willing to do.

If the Mets think Bay will “fall back” to them like Johan Santana did, they could be mistaken. The first impression, and I had it yesterday, was Seattle wouldn’t go for him because they’ll need the money for Cliff Lee.

Perhaps that was premature.

Wouldn’t Seattle be a little more enticing to Lee if there was power in that line-up? Maybe, with Lee, the Mariners see an opening to win this year and will still pursue Bay. Truth is, the Mariners haven’t said Bay is no longer an option.

And, what about the Angels? With Lackey gone and Halladay no longer an option, they have to be looking to do something. Bay was on their radar before. He might still be on it unless the Angels are bent on those middle-tier arms the Mets have been talking about. Truth is, for what they saved in Lackey, they might be able to swing both Bay and a pitcher. And, Bay has to be a better option than Hideki Matsui.
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