Aug 18

Questions for 2011

Let’s face it, we’re down to miracles and hoping for historic comebacks now. The Mets lost with their ace last night and find themselves 11 games behind Atlanta.

How many days before spring training?

As far as I’m concerned the next six weeks should be about laying the ground work for 2011, a time to find some answers. Here are the most important issues:

JENRRY MEJIA: Mejia is pitching in Double-A, experiencing no shoulder problems and will be recalled when the rosters expand Sept. 1. He should immediately be slotted into the rotation to find out what is there. And, if he takes his lumps, well, that’s part of the learning process.

PELFREY: Can he finish strong?

MIKE PELFREY: Once again, Pelfrey has shown us two personas. After a 9-1 start he’s 1-5, but has pitched well in his last two games. It is important to see if he learned anything during his horrid July that he can build off of.

JON NIESE/R.A. DICKEY: Just keep on doing what they’ve done. Two of the bright spots need to build on their success.

RUBEN TEJADA: Can this kid hit in the major leagues? Let’s give him steady playing time to find out. No need to platoon with Luis Castillo as we know all about him.

CARLOS BELTRAN: It would be nice if he finishes strong and ups his trade value, but who are we kidding? Who’s going to trade for that $18.5 million contract? I’d see what he’s capable of doing in right field.

JASON BAY: It is a lost season for him. There’s no need to bring him back. What’s he going to accomplish? Hit 10 homers? Make sure he’s healthy and start again next year.

HISANORI TAKAHASHI/BOBBY PARNELL: As of now, it appears Takahashi is the closer. If that’s the case, leave him there and let him take his lumps and see what is there. The assumption must be made that Francisco Rodriguez is not coming back. If the Mets decide Parnell is a better fit long term for the closer role, then give him the ball. The goal should be to end the season with an idea of your closer for 2011.

IKE DAVIS/JOSH THOLE: Both these guys will start next year so give them the time. I especially want to see them hit against left-handed pitching. No more platooning in that situation.

Apr 13

April 13.10: Chat Room, Game #7 at Rockies: Maine needs a big night.

With the 2-4 Mets six games into the 20-game plateau manager Jerry Manuel defined as fair to evaluate the start of the season, the team begins its first road trip to Colorado and St. Louis, perhaps two of the more unfriendly venues for visitors.

After losing two each to the Marlins and Nationals – teams they should handle at home at least – the mood of the Mets isn’t panic as much as it is urgency.

There have been three bad starts by the rotation, a trend that would wear down the bullpen eventually, and no hitting with runners in scoring position.

“It’s six games,’’ said outfielder Jeff Francoeur. “With that being said, we’d better get it going quick, because we’ve got some teams coming up that are really, really good.’’

Manuel ripped his team for being unprepared – for which he assumed responsibility – and others wondered about the intensity level.

If the Mets are going to get it started, they’ll have to do it tonight behind John Maine, he of the 7.20 ERA and slow fastball.

Maine has lost some of the velocity, and worse, some of the movement off his fastball, a byproduct of shoulder problems. He says he’s fine, but he still needs to build up strength.

“We’ll continue to hope for that,’’ Manuel said of Maine building up his shoulder strength. “He’s healthy and I don’t see why, being free from setbacks and those types of things, we won’t see that at some point.’’

Maine is 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA in three starts versus the Rockies, so there’s some reason for optimism.

NOTE: I am taking classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights for the next few months, and won’t be around for the start of the game. With the game at 8:40 p.m., I’m expecting to be back by nine, so I might miss the first inning or two.