Jul 27

Mets Chat Room; Cardinals in town.

Game #100 vs. Cardinals

Things can always get worse. The question is: Will they ever get better? I mean, this year.

The weak-hitting Mets – who were shut out four time on their disastrous West Coast trip – open a three-game series tonight at Citi Field against St. Louis and Adam Wainwright, who is 4-0 with a 0.25 ERA over his last five starts and hasn’t allowed a run in 25 straight innings.

That’s whom the Mets will try to get better against.

The Mets went 2-9 on the trip, hit .196 and scored just 23 runs. One of the games they won was a gift from a bad umpire’s call.

“There’s no question that everybody’s frustrated,’’ said David Wright. “I think it adds to the frustration that our starters have been throwing the ball extremely well and our bullpen’s been solid. We just can’t get any runs for them. But now is not the time to hang your head or mope around.’’

Needing to pitch a shutout tonight – or at least it seems that way – will be Jonathon Niese, the beneficiary of all of four runs over his last three starts. He is 0-2 with a 3.20 ERA in that span.

The Mets return home with their coaching staff intact. There was speculation Howard Johnson would take the fall for the offense, but they decided that since their offense clicked in June that it would again.

Jun 23

Mets Chat Room: Dickey goes for club record.

Game #71 vs. Tigers

When things looked bleak for the Mets about a month ago, with three of their starters out of the rotation, the Mets brought up knuckleballer R.A. Dickey from Triple-A Buffalo to make a spot start.

He hasn’t left the rotation since, and it’s not hard to imagine where the Mets would be without in 5-0 record and 2.82 ERA.

Tonight he’ll be vying to become the first Mets starter to win his first six decisions with the team, and the first Met to go 6-0 since Mike Pelfrey in 2008.

Dickey was on the ropes in his last start at Cleveland, but was able to make an in-inning adjustment to hold on for the victory.

The adjustment came at the suggestion of pitching coach Dan Warthen, who told Dickey to light a fire under the butterfly.

“I had runners on second and third and he came out and encouraged me to throw the hard one,’’ Dickey said.  “It’s about 4, 5 mph harder than my comfort-zone knuckler. It was a good step in my evolution, learning to adjust in-game.’’

It’s a risky adjustment for a knuckleballer to make because there’s always the possibility the extra push could force the pitch to spin out into a slow fat batting practice fastball.

May 29

Mets Chat Room: It’s Nieve’s turn.

Game #50 at Brewers

The Mets will attempt to snap their road doldrums tonight in Milwaukee when Fernando Nieve (1-2, 5.09 ERA) comes out of the bullpen. It’s not as if this is new to him, as he was 3-3 with a 3.12 ERA in seven starts last year before a torn right quadriceps ended his season.

“If he does well, he will continue to get the ball,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “And if we come into a situation where we have too many starters, I think that’s all good, too.’’

The start comes after a rocky May in which had a 7.20 ERA for the month, perhaps brought on by over use. Nieve said he prefers this role.

Continue reading

Apr 29

April 29.10: Hope they don’t leave home without them.

The Mets wish they were playing the Phillies today. When you’re hot you don’t want to stop. Instead, they are off basking in the excitement of a 9-1 homestand.

When it began they were 4-8 and staring into irrelevancy in the National League. Today they are in first place and will take a half-game lead into Philadelphia Friday evening.

A lot of good things happened over the past week-and-a-half. Here are the nine most important trends and player developments, one for each victory:

Taking advantage: The Mets ran into three opponents who weren’t at the top of their games, but it would be unfair to say they beat up on bad teams. The Mets did what good teams are supposed to do, which is to pounce on the opposition when it is down. It’s not the Mets’ fault the Braves don’t know the infield fly rule. Too often last year the Mets didn’t take advantage of opportunities presented of them, but this time they went for the throat, which is the right mentality heading into Philadelphia.

The pitching: The starters have been particularly stingy, even Oliver Perez in terms of giving up runs. Still, Perez, John Maine and Jon Niese haven’t been able to go deep into games, but have been picked up by the bullpen. It can’t continue this way for the starters, but for now the bullpen is holding up to the strain.

John Maine: Wherever the Mets go this season, their GPS will be their rotation. Maine had been struggling, running his pitch count into the 100s while barely lasting five innings. Removed from his last start with spasms in his left arm, Maine recovered yesterday on a chilly afternoon to pitch into the seventh and earn his first victory of the season. He was on the verge of losing his spot in the rotation, but there’s now reason for optimism.

Mike Pelfrey: Pelfrey has been stellar all season, but had a rocky go of it in his last start with ten base runners through five innings. Yes, there was mumbling of this being “the same old Pelfrey,’’ but instead he pitched out of trouble with no runs scored. Not pitching well but finding a way to win is taking it to the next level.

Pedro Feliciano: The season began with a myriad of questions, not the least of which was the eighth-inning set-up role. Feliciano has been nearly untouchable giving up one run all season. During the homestand he appeared in five games and gave up one hit in 4 1/3 innings.

Fernando Nieve: The man with the rubber arm, Nieve appeared in six games during the homestand and worked 5 1/3 scoreless innings. He’s given up only five runs all season in 14 appearances, with three of them coming in one game at Colorado. He might get burned out, but for now he has proven to be reliable and durable.

Hisanori Takahashi: As Perez continues to frustrate, the Mets might have found a possible fill-in should they need to bump him a turn. Takahashi worked 3 1/3 innings in relief of Perez on Tuesday. He has 21 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings on the season.

David Wright: You knew he was going to hit eventually, and he snapped out of a funk against the Dodgers getting hot just in time for the Phillies. In the second game of the doubleheader Wright snapped a string of strikeouts in 13 consecutive games with three hits and four RBI. While it is premature to say he’s on a roll, he’s showing the signs of mechanically getting straight.

Jason Bay: Bay finally homered after 69 at-bats and is hitting the ball hard a couple of times in most games. Like Wright, it was only a matter of time. The professional that he is, Bay didn’t take his offense to the field.

Ike Davis: Davis’ major league career consists of this homestand, and in it he hit .355 with a homer and six RBI. Four of his nine hits have been for extra-bases as he’s given the Mets an offensive presence in what had been a black hole of a position.

Jose Reyes: Reyes hit safely in all but two of the ten games. He’s still not running with the authority he has in the past, but he’s getting sharper at the plate, with 12 hits in the 10 games. It is hard to say Reyes in the reason for Bay’s resurgence because the latter was starting to come around, but it is fair to say most of the questions surrounding the shortstop are being answered in the positive. Only three strikeouts during the homestand.

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?