Sep 24

Expect more of the same ….

Unless the Mets discover a sense of pride and their offense this weekend, it is conceivable the Philadelphia Phillies will celebrate winning the NL East in front of their eyes. In 2007 and 2008 the Mets collapsed and were eliminated on the final day of the season. Last year was lost from June on.

This year, from their dugout, the Mets can watch their rivals celebrate success, something they haven’t been able to do since 2006.

And, even if the Phillies don’t bring back slugging outfielder Jayson Werth, the Phillies should remain far superior to the Mets.

They are better at starting pitching and in their bullpen, dwarf the Mets in power, and when it is all on the line, they aren’t afraid to make the big deal. Last year they brought in Cliff Lee; this year it was Roy Oswalt. And, of course, let’s not forget Roy Halladay while the Mets let the pitching market dwindle.

Both teams have had their share of injuries, but the Phillies acted through trade and a deeper minor league system to tread water when Ryan Howard and Chase Utley went down. The Mets forced the issue with Carlos Beltran last year which could conceivably cost them his services for the first half of this season. They also pushed the envelope with Jose Reyes when they should have disabled him around the All-Star break.

The Phillies have more pitching, more power, a front office willing and capable of making the big deal, and an overflowing ballpark that has them printing money to patch whatever holes.

This could be the third straight season the Phillies reach the World Series; the Mets have done it four times in their history.

The Phillies seem to do whatever it takes to improve. The Braves got better this year. The Marlins can’t be dismissed. The Mets? Well, they have $130 million earmarked to bring back the same group of dysfunctional players next year.

The Mets players might not think of that this weekend when then watch the Phillies celebrate. Maybe the Wilpons and management will.

Aug 16

Looking for a silver thread ….

The Mets are 10 games behind Atlanta and below .500. They have an upcoming schedule at Houston – which is playing better since the Roy Oswalt trade – and Pittsburgh – which always plays them tough. This is their last chance to make up some ground and bring interest into September.

Frankly, while I doubt they’ll make a real run, there could be some interesting ball ahead.

Their pitching, supposedly the weak link entering the season, has been surprisingly good, and if not for Mike Pelfrey’s July slide it would be good enough to have them in contention. What has been dismal, and has since the beginning of the season has been the offense. Also weak has been the bullpen.

As the season slowly fades into disappointment and winter, let’s take a moment to look at some of the positives through 117 games:

1) The record. Seriously. Last year on this date they were 55-62 and sinking fast. David Wright had just been plunked and would be rendered useless for the rest of the season. They have made improvement and with a full season from Carlos Beltran and a productive year from Jason Bay, they’d be over .500 and within spitting distance even with their bullpen woes. Hey, you take your positives when you can.

2) Johan Santana. We’re looking at 15 victories easily with a little run support. There was a brief four-game stretch when we were wondering about his fastball and whether he was still an ace. Well, he is. There are times when I wonder if he regrets coming here, but he’s the ultimate professional and will never show it. The Mets are lucky to have him, and hopefully the younger pitchers in the rotation are learning from him. Eventually, there will be a decline, but not now.

3) Angel Pagan. He began the season behind Gary Matthews, but has evolved into the Mets’ most reliable offensive performer. He’s the best they have with RISP, has some pop, can steal a base, and has surpassed Beltran as the team’s best center fielder. What Pagan showed last year was no fluke. This is a player the Mets can build around.

4) Ike Davis. He wasn’t supposed to be here until late in the season, perhaps September, but has become one of the NL’s premier’s rookies. He hits for power and should finish with over 20 homers and plays a sparkling first base. Davis has made Daniel Murphy a footnote. First base will be his for years to come.

5) Josh Thole. Another young player who arrived ahead of schedule. The pitchers like throwing to him and he’s not an easy out at the plate. Rod Barajas is coming back, but the position is Thole’s to keep. The time he’s getting now will only help him in the future.

6) Jon Niese. The question as the fifth starter going in, Niese has become a dependable starter, perhaps the No. 2 with Pelfrey being erratic. He’s not afraid to challenge hitters and works quickly and efficiently and with remarkable poise. He’s getting more adept at making adjustments within the game. He was in demand at the trade deadline, but the Mets were wise to say no.

7) R. A. Dickey. The other shoe has yet to drop for Dickey. He’s been impressive from the outset, but none more so than rebounding against the Phillies after the same team hammered him the previous week. That’s hard to do. The way things are going, it wouldn’t surprise me if he led the team in victories before it is all over. The Mets still need to add a starter in the offseason, but not to replace Dickey.

8) Hisanori Takahashi. The numbers are night and day between Takahashi the starter and the reliever. Forced into the starter’s role, he performed admirably before being exposed. He’s great one time through the order and that should be his role. Hopefully, Pat Misch will step in and allow Takahashi to do what he does best.

9) Bobby Parnell. Still a work in progress, but he’s made strides since last season when he was yanked around between roles. I believe Parnell has what it takes to develop into a solid set-up man. The experience he’s getting now can only bring hope.

10) Mike Pelfrey. I mean the pre-July Pelfrey. For two months he was better than one could have imagined, working with confidence and command of all of his pitches. Then came July, but has last two starts have been much better, an indication he might have learned from his slide. Of all the things I’m anxious to see during the final six weeks the most is whether Pelfrey can rebound completely. It would say a lot about his maturation process if he can take something out of his adversity.

11) Ruben Tejada. There’s no questioning his defense, and although he’s not hitting now he showed some glimpses early. The Mets played with energy when he was in the lineup replacing Luis Castillo when the latter was on the disabled list. I think the Mets will be in good hands when he finally takes over for Castillo.

12) Jose Reyes. If nothing else, the Mets finally learned Reyes is a leadoff hitter and nothing else. He’s lost focus at times this season, but he’s overcome his injury problems and the team still thinks highly enough to want to sign him to an extension. Perhaps the focus will always be a problem, but when he’s on his game he’s still a dynamic presence at the top of the order.

13) David Wright. Despite a horrible pace for 176 strikeouts, which must come down, he’s also on pace to hit 24 homers and drive in 107 runs, showing an improvement over last season’s power outage. Wright has been streaky all season, but he’s still the best this franchise has to offer.

Jul 31

Don’t blame Omar for protecting prospects ….

The trade deadline is today and if the Mets haven’t done anything by now don’t expect anything in the next four hours. Ted Lilly is an outside chance, but looks headed to the Dodgers.

MINAYA: Will keep pat hand today.

According to reports, and a lot of it is stuff thrown against the wall, the Astros want Bobby Parnell and Josh Thole for Brett Myers. I wouldn’t do Myers straight up for either.

The deadline will pass with the Mets keeping the status quo, and that’s fine by me if what I’ve been hearing is true. Parnell, Thole, Jon Niese and Ike Davis are the names other teams are seeking. That’s the future of this franchise.

I can’t blame Omar Minaya for wanting to protect the future, even if it means not winning this year. Perhaps, if the Mets pulled the trigger on Roy Oswalt a month ago I’d be looking at it differently, because there would have been a chance to make up serious ground. But, at the deadline, not so much.

For years I’ve been hearing the Mets don’t have much of a farm system, but there is a good young core here. To keep it intact is essential.

Jul 30

Mets Chat Room; Pelfrey needs to get it straight.

Mike Pelfrey was better in his last start, but he’s still not there. At one time he was 9-1, now he’s 10-5. He needs to get back to his earlier form starting tonight against Arizona if the Mets are to break out of their downward spiral that has been the month of July.

Game #103 vs. Diamondbacks

Without a sound Pelfrey the Mets have no chance of making a second-half run at the NL East, which is slowly fading away, and made even more unlikely with the Phillies’ acquisition of Roy Oswalt.

Pelfrey is 0-3 with an 11.40 ERA in his last four starts. Included in that span was giving up four first-inning runs in his last start against the Diamondbacks.

The first inning has been a recent trap for Pelfrey.

“(In eight of my) last nine starts, I’ve given up a run in the first inning and I need to find a way of stopping that,’’ Pelfrey said. “Whether it’s throwing more pitches in the ‘pen, I don’t know.’’

Pelfrey gave the Mets a chance in his previous start last weekend at Los Angeles, giving up two runs in five innings. Even so, he still threw a lot of pitches and was removed for a pinch-hitter.

It was the first time in five starts that he made it through five innings. The Mets have lost four of those games.

Pelfrey is 0-5 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts against Arizona.

Jul 29

Mets Chat Room; getting critical.

Game #102 vs. Cardinals

Even if defeat, you have to admire how the Mets played last night. Their ace was hammered for six runs in the first inning, yet they fought back to tie the game. There was an extraordinary amount of pressure on Ike Davis, but he came off the bench to hit a game-tying single.

Still, there is no such thing as a moral victory in baseball. It remains a loss, one in which is difficult to rebound against. But, they have to do so with R.A. Dickey if they are to prevent spinning out of control as is often the case with these types of losses.

Even if they win, it remains doubtful the Mets can fix all that ails them in time to make the playoffs. They might make a run, but they don’t have enough, and now there’s word they won’t make a move for Ted Lilly or Brett Myers, the middle-tier pitchers in the market.

Oh yes, and the Phillies are closing in on a deal for Roy Oswalt.

After today,  there are 60 games remaining to the season. To win 90 games, what it would probably take to make it as a wild card, the Mets would have to go 40-20, a pace they’ve never reached this season.

But for now, it’s all they can do to reach 52 wins.