Apr 08

April 8.10: About Last Night – Flashback, 2009.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think back to last night was the comeback, how it was generated by good, patient at-bats. Considering how they played overall, the Mets had no business playing baseball in the tenth inning last night.

The rally was encouraging because we saw too little of that last season.

However, and you knew there would be one, last night was a reminder of last season in several ways.

First, there was the horrid starting pitching of John Maine. We heard during spring training that his shoulder was fine, and maybe it is, but there’s something definitely not right with his pitching. Ninety-two pitches is way too many for not getting out of the fifth. His location was spotty (he missed on the homer by a foot and a wild pitch set up another run) and his velocity is down.

Will Maine improve? I really don’t know. You would hope, but maybe the 15 wins in 2007 was his ceiling.

Secondly, there was the offense, which mustered only six hits. They were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine. One or two more hits and this was a win.

Finally, the bullpen gave up three runs. When your starter won’t give you five, giving up three in the pen is too many. Jenrry Mejia’s outing made you wonder if the Mets jumping the gun with him, but the performances by Sean Green and Hisanori Takahashi makes one think they might not have had a choice. Oh yeah, last night would have been perfect for Nelson Figueroa.

There was the Fernando Tatis play, which was boneheaded for sure. A reminder of how sloppy they were on the bases last night. But, you can’t hang the game on that one play. Afterall, there was no guarantee David Wright would have come through.

Of course, no guarantee he wouldn’t have, either.

Apr 07

April 7.10: Maine says he’s fine; gets start tonight.

There was a time when John Maine was considered a throw-in from Baltimore in the Kris/Anna Benson trade, but his strong showing at the end of the 2006 season and 15 wins in 2007 gave hope he could evolve into a dependable No. 2 starter.

“No. 2, that’s just a number,’’ Maine said. “I just need to get out there, stay healthy and I believe I’ll be fine.’’

Maine had shoulder surgery at the end of the 2008 season and admitted this spring that he rushed himself back last year contributing to his arm problems.

“I learned a lesson,’’ he said.

At 1-3 with a 7.88 ERA in spring training, it’s hard to defend Maine’s performance other than saying the numbers don’t count and he was working on things. Pitching with a migraine and stomach virus, Maine gave up four runs on six hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings in his exhibition finale against Washington.

(NOTE: Part of juggling the rotation was to avoid the Nationals getting another look at Maine so quickly).

Maine brushed off his performance, saying: “My arm feels fine. Shoulder feels good. That’s the top priority.’’

The numbers haven’t been there, but Maine insists he’s not worried and he’s throwing the ball better than anytime after the 2007 season. He said the ball is just flowing out of his hand.

“I think the last time it came out easy without trying to really force anything was spring training 2008,” Maine said. “I might have been throwing a little harder then, but it’s coming out good.’’

Apr 07

April 7.10: Expect pat lineup tonight; Reyes close.

Jerry Manuel said after the Opening Day victory he planned on making no changes with the line-up, which would mean another start for Alex Cora at shortstop and Mike Jacobs hitting clean-up.

Of course, that means changes across the board.

Said Jacobs of going 0-for-4: “My first day hitting in this stadium, obviously in a game, I didn’t pick up the ball real well. As the game went on, it got a little better. But you just chalk it up to just first day and hopefully a lot more days left.’’

Still, I’d rather they go David Wright-Jason Bay in the 3-4 slots, with Jacobs fifth and Jeff Francoeur sixth.

I also don’t have a problem with Cora playing. He usually does the right thing.

Manuel did say he’d try to get all the position players in games during this homestand to make sure everybody gets involved. If you’re selling the concept of “team,’’ then everybody should play.

REYES UPDATE: The news continues to be positive for shortstop Jose Reyes, who reached base four times with two hits and two walks last night in an extended spring training game in Port St. Lucie. Reyes played nine innings of defense.

The Mets believe he will return as scheduled from the disabled list Saturday against Washington.

Reyes started the season on the DL due to a thyroid condition. He missed most of last season with a hamstring injury.

TONIGHT’S STARTER: John Maine, 1-3 with a 7.88 ERA during spring training, will start tonight. I’ll have something on Maine later today.

CHAT ROOM: Don’t forget, I’ll host another Mets Chat Room during tonight’s game. Hope to see you online.

Apr 04

April 4.10: What’s your confidence level?

Good morning and Happy Easter to everyone. It’s a gorgeous day. The Mets have returned home after a so-so spring.

It’s always fun looking at the standings before Opening Day. Zeroes across the board. Everybody is even. That’s in theory, at least.

We do know that some teams are more even than others, and the Mets are not one of them.

They still have the same pitching questions as at the start of spring training, and Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes will begin the season on the disabled list. So will Daniel Murphy and Kelvim Escobar.

Looking at tomorrow’s projected line-up, and only two players – David Wright and Luis Castillo – were starters last year on Opening Day. Not a good sign.

Opening Day is a time for optimism and hope, but with these Mets it could be hoping they don’t stink that badly. You want to be positive, but it is hard when you see that rotation.

So, am I overstating things? What’s your confidence level in this team? Do they make the playoffs? Are they competitive? Will they even finish .500?

Apr 01

April 1.10: Wrapping up the Day.

A rough day for John Maine this afternoon, with him pitching 4 2/3 innings while being sick. Maine gave up four runs on six hits and four walks and several bouts of nausea caused by a stomach virus.

Maine was not good this spring, and while spring training numbers don’t tell the full story, they are somewhat of a measure. A 7.88 ERA is not good.

Maine is now the No. 2 starter in the Mets’ juggled rotation.

REYES WILL GO ON DL: Shortstop Jose Reyes, who missed most of spring training with a thyroid issue, will open the season on the disabled list. Reyes will be able to come off the disabled list for the April 10 game against Washington.

Reyes says he’s ready.

“My legs are ready,’’ he told reporters. “I’m not that bad swinging the bat. No doubt, I’m more comfortable.’’

RODRIGUEZ LEAVES TEAM: Closer Frankie Rodriguez left the team to attend to a family emergency in Venezuela.

General manager Omar Minaya expects to have him back for the opener. If not, the Mets, who don’t even have an eighth-inning set-up man, would have to scramble for a closer.

POSITION BATTLES: Mike Jacobs, who will make the team as the back-up first baseman, hit is fourth homer of the spring. … Once thought a sure thing to make the bullpen, Ryota Igarashi was hit for two runs in 2/3 innings. The beneficiary of Igarashi’s late spring slide was Raul Valdes, who gave up one run in two-thirds innings.

NOTE: Manager Jerry Manuel said fifth-starter Oliver Perez will work out of the bullpen the first week of season. The Mets broke camp after today’s loss. They’ll play Tampa Bay at St. Petersburg tomorrow and Baltimore in Sarasota Saturday. Mike Pelfrey will get the start tomorrow. The team will work out Sunday at Citi Field.