May 26

Jose Reyes back … are the Mets next?

With his legs feeling better, stronger and more flexible, and released from the shackles of hitting third in the batting order where he never felt comfortable, Jose Reyes is back to being Jose Reyes.

Reyes is coming off this best game of the season last night, when he went 3-for-5 – including a triple – two stolen bases and three runs scored in the rout of the Phillies. One of those hits was off a bunt.

“I can’t wait to get on base two or three times a game,’’ Reyes said. “My legs feel so good now.’’

After undergoing surgery to replace a torn hamstring tendon, and missing most of spring training with a thyroid issue, Reyes as struggled for much of the season. His legs missed that strong push-off step and he looked lost batting third and developed a noticeable uppercut in his swing.

The result was a .275 on-base percentage.

Continue reading

May 11

May 11.10: Finding the right order; Manuel has some thinking to do.

It’s obvious the Mets’ offense is in trouble, with once again last night demonstrating an appalling lack of ability to hit with runners in scoring position.

Jerry Manuel talks about “getting things going,’’ and that includes putting the players in the right position for success.

Clearly, they are not.

It’s time to re-juggle the lineup, which means put Jose Reyes back at leadoff. There are some who will argue he’s still stealing bases now, but that’s more attributable to his legs getting stronger than his spot in the order.

All too often I see Reyes swinging out of his shoes with little attempt at selectivity.

Reyes has the potential to be the game’s premier leadoff hitter. Put him there and leave him there.

The following order is thinking out loud with the hope of generating something until the next need to shake things up.

I like David Wright best hitting third, but his two hits last night notwithstanding, he’s still mired in some bad habits. It has worked before for Wright has struggled and it could work again, and that is to move him to second. Hitting second, where he’d have to protect the runner would help shorten Wright’s swing and hopefully lifting him out of his bad habits.

Because he’s been driving the ball and has the speed element, I’d put Angel Pagan third. And, yes, I fear the mentality of hitting third might do for him what it has done for Reyes. But, unlike Reyes, Pagan has hit all over the order so perhaps the transition would be a little less.

The guy who is really killing the Mets has been Jason Bay. He needs a day off and maybe he’ll get one with the promotion of Chris Carter from Triple-A Buffalo and the DFA of Frank Catalanotto. It makes no sense to bring up Carter unless they intend to play him, but who sits?

Give Bay a rest, time to collect his thoughts, and maybe he’ll be fresher. With that being said, because there are no other alternatives Bay would have to stay cleanup when he plays.

Next I’d elevate Ike Davis to fifth. Davis is one of the few Mets who seems to have an idea at the plate. I would be tempted to bat him fourth, but fear it might put too much pressure on him.

Sixth would be Jeff Francoeur, whose hot start is a memory. He’s another who might benefit from having a day off.

Seventh would be Rod Barajas, but with his slugging percentage it might not be a bad idea to elevate him past Francoeur. At one time I thought clean-up would be a temporary spot, but know the Mets would never go for it.

Eighth, unfortunately, will be Luis Castillo, who is taken out of his spot because the others aren’t doing their jobs. Castillo has been playing well and is the ideal No. 2 hitter, but getting Wright going is crucial.

There are no doubt flaws in this thinking, which, of course, I’m sure you will point out. This is not a permanent solution, but something temporary to jumpstart things.

If you’ve got other lineup suggestions, let’s hear them.

May 06

May 6.10: Return Reyes to the top.

It’s time for Jerry Manuel to call in the dogs on his batting order experiment and return Jose Reyes from third to leading off.

In theory, the switch was to provide Jason Bay with more fastballs with Reyes on base as a steal threat. In reality, neither is hitting and it is time to return to the basics … and that begins with Reyes.

Reyes is out of his element in the three hole and you can see that in every swing-out-of-his shoes at-bat. Reyes has become the pop-up king. It is clear he has adjusted his game mentally and is trying to lift everything.

Personally, I think when they go back Reyes will be so entrenched in bad habits that he’ll be totally lose.

As for Bay, he’s not hitting anything, fastballs included.

“I’ve been seeing more fastballs because I can’t hit them,’’ said Bay, who hit in nine straight then has fallen into a funk going hitless in his last 15 at-bats and is batting just .238 on the season and on pace to strike out 191 times.

The Mets knew when they signed him that he’d be streaky, so maybe he’ll figure it out. Then again, maybe he won’t and will have the kind of power year David Wright had last season. Only thing, Wright made up for it with average and getting on base.

For the past five seasons we’ve been told Reyes has the potential to be this generation’s Rickey Henderson. He, quite simply, has all the tools to be the game’s premier leadoff hitter.

Angel Pagan, however, does not. So return to the fundamentals and put Reyes back into the spot where he has the best chance to perform.

A No. 2 needs to be patient, he needs to exercise bat control and put the ball in play. Hitting second snapped Wright out of slumps before and it might be time to think the same might work for Bay. And, if Reyes snaps out of it, Bay should be seeing those fastballs Manuel promised. If nothing else, it will remove what has been a consistent out in the middle of the order.

Wright is the team’s best hitter in Carlos Beltran’s absence and should go back to hitting third.

Quite honestly, if you tinker with Bay hitting second – and I doubt they will – that leaves a hole at No. 4. If not there are four options: Jeff Francoeur, who has been spotty lately; Ike Davis, who might have the best plate presence in the line-up and Rod Barajas, who is tied with Wright for the team lead in homers.

As Reyes played out of his game moving to third, I’d be wary of moving Davis to clean-up for fear of picking up bad habits.

I’d try Francoeur – who has hit there before – and have Davis bat fifth followed by Barajas. Then I’d go with Pagan and Luis Castillo, which in theory would bunch the speed together and consequently help Bay.

Whatever Manuel does, something needs to be done because this line-up isn’t clicking. Manuel made the initial move out of desperate measures. Well, these are also desperate measures.

Oct 22

Commentary: Mets, Yanks swing and miss on new stadiums.

I read this morning the Chicago Cubs would be the test team for when the Yankees open their new stadium. My first thought? Boring. Who cares about the Cubs? The only allure with that team is its creaky stadium and a century of losing.

Ego is probably the reason it won’t happen, but why not a weekend series between the Mets and Yankees to open each other’s parks?

It’s so simple, so fundamental. How about back-to-back day-night doubleheaders? That way each team gets to test their new home under the lights.

Here’s a unifying opportunity for the city and its teams, and we get the Cubs. This could have been so easy and so much fun, but they blew it.