May 21

May 21.10: Chat Room, Game #43 vs. Yankees: Mets come limping home.

Both the Mets and Yankees limp into this weekend’s series at Citi Field, but as usual there are more issues in Queens than the Bronx.

“I always look forward to these series,’’ Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “You find out where you are as a team, and how you perform in that type of environment.’’

Doesn’t he know by now?

The Mets, despite winning last night at Washington, are reeling, almost in a free fall, and could very well be there after back-to-back series against the Yankees and Phillies.

The last-place Mets are coming off a 2-6 road trip in which they lost, by injury or performance, three-fifths of their rotation. Jon Niese, the most consistent of the three, went on the disabled list and could be joined there by John Maine, who was yanked after five pitches last night. Oliver Perez was exiled to the bullpen.

Journeyman knuckleballer R.A. Dickey replaced Perez and performed well, and long reliever Hisanori Takahashi will start tonight in place of Niese against the Yankees.
Takahashi’s move to the rotation, even temporarily, further strains the bullpen. Fernando Nieve and Pedro Feliciano, so effective in April, have been hit lately.

Further complicating matters has been an unproductive offense, which is relying on a journeyman catcher Rod Barajas and rookie first baseman Ike Davis because of the season-long power drought of Jason Bay and David Wright’s assault on the strikeout record.

Bay, although he’s been making contact lately, in on pace for four homers, while Wright is on pace for 223 strikeouts. Jeff Francoeur and Jose Reyes also aren’t hitting.

As bad as things have been, one can logically assume if Wright and Reyes, the cornerstones to the franchise, were hitting according to expectations, the Mets would be over .500 and there wouldn’t be so many rumblings about Manuel’s job security.

Despite COO Jeff Wilpon’s impromptu meeting in Atlanta in which he said he wasn’t about to fire Manuel or GM Omar Minaya, the whispers persist and are even louder after last night’s Manuel-Maine dugout blowout.

“When the owner comes down, you know something is going on,’’ said Francoeur. “But at the same time, you have to be professional. At times it can be tough, all the speculation, but I try to just play. That’s the easiest way to deal with it.’’

Manuel didn’t do much to get Wright and Francoeur on his side when he rested both this week. Both expressed displeasure at sitting, but neither criticized Manuel.

Also, neither offered much verbal support.

Before he was sacked, Willie Randolph had more verbal support from his players than Manuel has received, but the players are still hustling. That is a saving grace, but will it be enough if the Mets are pasted by the Yankees and Phillies?

Here’s tonight’s Mets’ line-up behind Takahashi:

Jose Reyes, SS
Alex Cora, 2B
Jason Bay, LF
Ike Davis, 1B
David Wright, 3B
Angel Pagan, CF
Rod Barajas, C
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Hisanori Takahashi, LP

NOTE: Luis Castillo was scratched from the line-up with a bruised left heel. … After throwing five innings in relief last night, Raul Valdes is not expected to be available for the Yankees series. … With Takahashi starting, R.A. Dickey will be the long man.

PREVIOUS POST: Feel free to comment on the Maine vs. Manuel thread.

Apr 27

April 27.10: Chat Room, Games #20-21 vs. Dodgers: Let’s Play Two.

At one time the Mets were 4-8 and there were rumblings manager Jerry Manuel’s job might be in jeopardy. However, behind stellar pitching the Mets have turned it around.

During their four-game winning streak, the Mets’ staff has a 1.41 ERA, but a .239 average and only one homer. In a larger window, the ERA is 1.39 ERA from the starters in their last two turns through the rotation.

The Mets will start Johan Santana (2-1, 2.59 ERA) and Oliver Perez (0-2, 3.71) in today’s doubleheader against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Neither has been the recipient of substantial run support.

Santana has given up one run and 12 hits with 14 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings to help the Mets win his last two starts. He’s gotten only four runs in his last three outings.

Perez has been given five runs in his three losses.
To be fair, Perez was not effective in his last start, throwing 97 pitches in five innings while giving up three runs.

Offensively, the Mets have won three straight since dropping Jose Reyes to third in the order, which coincidentally is about the time Jason Bay has started to warm up.

Still cold, however, is David Wright, who is batting .154 with four RBI over the last eight games. Like Perez, Wright has a degree of success against the Dodgers with a .425 average, four homers and 35 RBI in 39 meetings.

Wright will bat fifth behind Bay today. There are only two changes in the lineup from last night: Gary Matthews replaces Jeff Francoeur in right and Rod Barajas returns behind the plate.

Here’s the order for the 10-9 Mets:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Gary Matthews, RF
Rod Barajas, C
Johan Santana, LP

NOTE: I will be with you for most of the day. I need to leave around six for my class and be back by around nine.

Dec 24

Dec. 24.09: On the Night Before Christmas ….

…. And all through the house. Not a creature was stirring, and that includes the Internet. In Ohio visiting my father for the holidays, and I won’t have reliable Internet until I get home Monday. I will try to post something on a daily basis and as often as possible. I did want to explain the lull between threads.

I did hear the Red Sox might not be done with Jason Bay. Playing it close to vest like they did with John Lackey. Maybe they heard the rumblings about the Yankees sniffing around and got antsy. Maybe it was fallout from the Javier Vazquez trade. Whatever, if true, and the Red Sox want him, there’s precious little the Mets can do about it.

It is quite possible the delay by the Mets might cost them Bay. But, I wouldn’t jump all over them for that. Bay is not worth the five years, whether or not the Red Sox are in it or not.

But, what remains clear is that the Mets remain stagnant, and on the night before Christmas, the Mets aren’t doing much stirring.