Oct 03

Immediate Mets’ issues

There’s a sentiment the Mets over achieved this year, but that is more a case of lessened expectations. While their desired off-season budget will preclude much activity toward improvement, that doesn’t mean there aren’t issues needing to be addressed:

DECIDE ON JOSE REYES: Actually, they already have, but aren’t ready to reveal the numbers. For public relations purposes, the Mets don’t want to appear to be pushing Reyes out the door, but it is clear he is the first domino and every thing they do revolves around him. What the Mets can’t afford to do is get strung out dealing with Reyes ultimately to have him go elsewhere and have their other options get snapped up. From the direction they take on Reyes you’ll ascertain where the Mets are immediately headed. Should they determine they can live without Reyes – or need to live without him – they will be saying there’s considerably more rebuilding to be done. Bringing him back says they believe they are ready to compete, but it makes no sense to do so if they aren’t willing to spend in other areas.

THE COACHING STAFF: With manager Terry Collins’ contract extended, there’s the matter of his staff. Once again, pitching coach Dan Warthen’s future is suspect. Last year, Mike Pelfrey lobbied hard to retain Warthen, but considering his anemic performance, he won’t carry much weight this time around.

ADD TO THE ROTATION: Pelfrey regressed and surprise Dillon Gee was the only starter with a record over .500; four of the five had ERA’s of 4.40 or higher; and the staff had a composite 1.378 WHIP.  Jonathan Niese and Johan Santana have injury issues, and since there are no assurances, the Mets have little alternative but to bring back Pelfrey and Chris Capuano. There are some good names on the free agent market, notably C.J. Wilson, Rich Harden and Mark Buehrle, but they aren’t going to spend much, especially if they bring back Reyes. The Mets will likely fish from the pool where guys like Joel Pineiro, Jason Marquis and Freddy Garcia swim.

FIX THE BULLPEN: The Mets used 16 arms this summer and enter the offseason with a zero reliability factor in the pen. They’d like to see Bobby Parnell win the closer job, but he allowed 89 base runners in 59.1 innings pitched. That he strikes out over one batter an inning means he has the stuff, but his command of it is erratic.

ANGEL PAGAN: Pagan took a step back, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Mets don’t tender him a contract.  There are decent stopgap options in the outfield, such as Rick Ankiel, Nate McLouth and Ryan Ludwick, but again, I don’t see the Mets going in that direction. It would be good if they could plug in Fernando Martinez, but his injury history makes him unreliable.

SECOND BASE: Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips is the best available, but wants a lot and the Mets won’t  go there, especially if they bring back Reyes, because what would they do with Ruben Tejada? If Reyes goes, they could go with Tejada and Justin Turner as their double play combination.

If you’re getting the impression most of the Mets off-season tinkering will come from within and be of the middle-tier cost variety, you’re right. Sandy Alderson is already on record saying he sees a budget of around $110 million, which is $30 million less than this summer.

Figure with much of that $30 million differential was in the person of Oliver Perez, Carlos Beltran and Luis Castillo, then it isn’t hard to reason next summer won’t be much different than this one.


Sep 20

No answers from here on out.

With the Mets out of contention awhile ago, it was hoped September would be the month where some 2012 answers could be found. It has not turned out that way.

GEE: Rocky finish to a good year.

Only .500 remains, but the Mets must run the table for that to occur, and that would mean nine straight against Cardinals, Phillies and Reds. They couldn’t win nine straight against their own minor league system.

The one slot where it was hoped could be definitive was the closer role, but Bobby Parnell has spit the bit. He’ll get another chance in spring training, that is, unless the Mets sign a qualified, veteran closer, but that would require some spending. That’s not going to happen, either.

Ruben Tejada has played well, but not well enough to see if he will be able to assume Jose Reyes’ role. We might never know that answer.

The only comfort I see has been Lucas Duda in right. So far, he’s fielded the position cleanly, but we need a full year at the plate and in the field to see for sure. And, there are usually hills and valleys in the first year as a starter.

I like how R. A. Dickey is finishing, and Chris Capuano and Dillon Gee pitched well enough this year to warrant a chance in next year’s rotation. Gee, however, is struggling, with his ERA jumping nearly a run a game over his last ten starts.

There’s too many unanswered questions Sandy Alderson must spend the winter trying to answer. There are holes in the rotation that can’t be masked by a thin bullpen. There’s a lack of power from David Wright and Jason Bay. Angel Pagan has regressed. There’s nothing that suggests Johan Santana will make it back.

There’s also no indication the Mets will be a heavy player to retain Reyes.

 

 

 

Aug 22

August 22 lineup at Philly

It’s always interesting when the Mets play the Phillies, but unfortunately since the teams are at the opposite end of the spectrum there’s little steam to the rivalry.

The Mets make their final trip to Philly beginning tonight, with Dillon Gee going against Cliff Lee.

Here’s the Mets’ batting order:

Angel Pagan, CF

Justin Turner, 2B

David Wright, 3B

Jason Bay, LF

Lucas Duda, 1B

Scott Hairston, RF

Ronny Paulino, C

Ruben Tejada, SS

Dillon Gee, RP

Comments: Once again, Lucas Duda is at first base instead of right field. Assuming Ike Davis is healthy next season, he’ll play first base. However, the Mets do not have a right field option.

Terry Collins has hinted, but won’t pull the trigger on Duda playing right field for the rest of the season. Why? I don’t know.

With the competitive part of the year over, this is when the Mets should be looking for some answers, and one of them is where Duda should play.

I’d also like to see Jason Bay in the second spot of the order, as Collins also suggested earlier this year, but never tried.

 

Aug 21

Mets hope to salvage Milwaukee series behind Dickey

The Mets have had more than their fair share of gut-wrenching defeats this season.

There was the balk-off loss at Atlanta. The back-to-back games where they tied it in the ninth only to lose. But, yesterday’s meltdown to Milwaukee stung like vinegar on a cut.

DICKEY: Trying to stop the slide.

Down six to tie, then lose. It doesn’t get any more frustrating.  When the first two runners reached against Jason Isringhausen you had to know bad things were coming.

You can’t blame this on youth, because the late-inning damage was done against a veteran. Even so, as in most losses there were things that stood out, such as all the walks from Chris Capuano and the inability to hit in the clutch.

There’s only so many times you can talk about heart and grit, and the Mets have those qualities. Unfortunately, over the course of a long season, talent carries more weight.

After a surge that carried them over the .500 mark and even brought wild-card fantasies, the Mets find themselves five games under this afternoon with the R.A. Dickey called upon to stop the bleeding. Last season’s surprise, Dickey has a respectable ERA, but a lack of support has him at 5-11 and a loser in three of his last four decisions.

Today’s lineup will feature:

Angel Pagan, CF

Justin Turner, 2B

David Wright, 3B

Lucas Duda, 1B

Jason Bay, LF

Josh Thole, C

Jason Pridie, RF

Ruben Tejada, SS

R.A. Dickey, RP

After today, the Mets have back-to-back series against Philadelphia and Atlanta.

Meanwhile, Jose Reyes continues to rehab his tender left hamstring. Reyes ran to first this morning without difficulty and said he’ll run the bases with more intensity this week and play in a rehab game, perhaps at Buffalo.

 

Aug 19

Mets begin tough stretch tonight

The Mets open a difficult stretch tonight with three games against Milwaukee, followed by three each against Philadelphia and Atlanta. They are three games below .500, but could be in the NL East basement by the time the month is over.

Considering how they’ve played most of the season, it would be a shame.

Tonight’s Mets’ lineup looks resembles one of those spring training batting orders sent to Fort Myers. David Wright, Angel Pagan and Jose Thole are the only Opening Day starters in tonight’s lineup behind Mike Pelfrey against the Brewers.

Nothing quite says rebuilding like tonight’s lineup:

Angel Pagan, CF

Willie Harris, 2B

David Wright, 1B

Lucas Duda, 1B

Mike Baxter, RF

Jason Pridie, LF

Josh Thole, C

Ruben Tejada, SS

Mike Pelfrey, RP

Looking at tonight’s lineup, one can envision it being on the field a lot next year, minus Harris, Baxter and Pridie.

The frequently banged up Justin Turner will sit tonight for the fourth time in seven games. Also, sitting is Jason Bay, who is on an 0-for-20 slide.

Meanwhile, Jose Reyes continues to rehab his strained left hamstring. He’s running straight forward, but not cutting corners or going full throttle.

It isn’t likely Reyes will be activated when he’s eligible, Aug. 23.