Aug 06

A weekend in Philadelphia

This should be a big series tonight in Philadelphia. There should be a tenseness in the air, a feeling of excitement and anticipation that comes with a pennant race.

But, there is no fire. After the Mets fell flat and were routed by Arizona last Sunday, they sleepwalked through Atlanta. Take away one swing of the bat by Jeff Francoeur and they would be heading to Philly on a four-game losing streak.

Not only were the Mets sloppy in Atlanta, but worse they were listless and seemed disinterested. With the exception of R.A. Dickey (and Johan Santana after the first inning Monday), they played flat and without a sense of urgency.

Their season is hanging on by a thread and they are playing with an aura of inevitability, as if they were waiting for the end.

It could be soon enough.

Apr 19

April 19.10: It’s Davis’ time now.

Tabbed the Mets’ first baseman of the future, that future could be now for Ike Davis, who’ll be brought up from Triple-A Buffalo for tonight’s game against the Chicago Cubs.

While the Mets opted not to take Davis north after Daniel Murphy’s knee injury, several factors conspired into the decision being made now.

Twenty innings Saturday night forced the Mets to bring up a pitcher, Tobi Stoner, to bail out the bullpen, and expendable was the struggling Mike Jacobs, who was designated for assignment.

So, as much as the Mets wanted to avoid force-feeding the majors to Davis, necessity prevailed.
Davis, 23, the son of former Yankees reliever Ron Davis and first-round pick out of Arizona State in 2008, scorched the ball during spring training and hasn’t cooled. Davis is hitting .364 with two homers and four RBI for Buffalo and is riding a seven-game hitting streak.

Initially, I thought Davis needed more Triple-A time, and that might be the case, but as early as it is, there’s a sense of urgency for the Mets and it isn’t assured Davis will struggle at this level. Frankly, he can’t do much worse than what the Mets had been getting at first base.

While there is talk the Mets are rushing Davis, it must be remembered there is no guarantee he’ll be overwhelmed, just as there are no givens he’ll flourish like David Wright, who was promoted after only 114 Triple-A at-bats in 2004.

“When it’s time for him to come up, he just needs to remember to come in and do what he’s done his whole career,’’ Wright told ESPN.com. “I know there are expectations. I know there is going to be a lot of pressure. But he seems like he’s a tremendous player, a great guy, and will do well at this level.’’

With Murphy down, the Mets hoped to fill the position until his return with the platoon of Jacobs and Fernando Tatis. (Frank Catalanotto started at first last night).

“We just felt that we didn’t quite see what we wanted to see in that brief opportunity he was given,’’ manager Jerry Manuel said.

It was obvious Davis would be elevated when the Mets designated Jacobs for assignment rather than option him outright to the minors. In doing so, they cleared a spot on the 40-man roster for Jacobs.

POLL: Too early or deserved? Vote in the Davis poll.

Apr 05

April 5.10: Chat Room, Game #1, Opening Day, vs. Marlins

There should be no pressure on Opening Day, but that’s not the case with Jerry Manuel, who was thrust under the microscope the day after the 2009 season ended when COO Jeff Wilpon said he expected better things this season from his manager and GM Omar Minaya. And, with 16 of their first 22 games at home, there an even greater sense of urgency to get off to a fast start.

And, that fast start start has to come without Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes, and with a suspect rotation.

“We need to get off to a good start but what we need more is consistency and so to merely focus on a good start is not enough,” said Manuel, who knows a slow start could doom him before the All-Star break.

Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be the case, but the Mets were 70-92 last season following two late-season collapses.

The season is underway, so let’s talk about it. I plan to blog the games with you as I have the last three seasons, and hope this time we’re talking late into October.

Here’s today’s line-up vs. Josh Johnson of the Marlins:

Alex Cora, SS
Luis Castillo, 2B,
David Wright, 3B
Mike Jacobs, 1B
Jason Bay, LF
Gary Matthews, CF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
Johan Santana, LP

Don’t forget to go to the previous thread to post your favorite Opening Day memories.

Mar 18

March 18.10: What’s Jerry’s thinking about the fifth starter?

With most managers, at least those with security, their objectives are a balance between winning today and building for the future. That can’t be said for the Mets’ Jerry Manuel, who has joked about the importance of a fast start for the preservation of his job.

There’s truth in humor.

Manuel presided over the late season collapse of 2008 and full season free fall of 2009, and knows the Mets must contend, if not get to the playoffs and win a round, if he’s to return next year. Manuel’s job is on the line, and with it there’s a sense of urgency of being competitive immediately.

Given that, it stands to reason Manuel’s decisions, like that of choosing his fifth starter, will be to give him the best chance of winning now as opposing for building for the future, because quite simply, he has no guarantee of a future.

Manuel’s comments the other day that he’d like to see Hisanori Takahashi start a game this spring suggests strongly he’s being seriously considered for the fifth starter role. Takahashi has been superb in six scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out nine.

“What we have seen so far is he really has the ability to pitch and pitch with all his pitches,” Manuel said. “He probably is our sharpest pitcher right now, as far as everything hitting where he wants it to hit.”

If not Takahashi, then perhaps Fernando Nieve. Nelson Figueroa will be sent out to clear waivers, and Jon Niese, who went into spring training the favorite, will be sent out because he has options remaining.

Niese might be the fifth starter down the road, but Manuel doesn’t have the luxury of letting him learn on the job. As long as Takahashi is getting batters out, the Mets have a chance to win, and that means Manuel has a better chance to stick around.