May 02

Not Buying Terry Collins’ Explanation; Jordany Valdespin Needs To Start

Pinch-hitting is one of the more difficult things to do in the sport. After sitting for up to two hours, you are given little time to get loose and thrust into position of trying to hit a 90-mph., fastball or nasty fall-off-the-table breaking stuff.

Few do it well, but the Mets’ Jordany Valdespin has a knack for coming through with power. His three-run homer Wednesday was his sixth in two years with the Mets. He is indeed, a unique weapon.

VALDESPIN: Must play.

VALDESPIN: Must play.

“That’s what he does,’’ manager Terry Collins said, conveniently forgetting that’s what Valdespin does because he’s rarely given opportunity to do anything else. “For some reason he loves to come off the bench. Everybody likes to play, but he loves to come off the bench when the pressure is on, the heat is on.’’

Sure, Valdespin might relish batting in the clutch, but it’s a misnomer to think that’s all he wants to do. However, as tempting as it is for Collins to want to save him for that spot, one that might not present itself for days.

Given the dismal state of the Mets’ offense, and futility of using six leadoff hitters in 25 games, Valdespin must stay at the top of the order playing center field until he proves he can’t handle the role. His temperament and demeanor sometimes more represent a NBA diva, but that’s peripheral stuff that should be back-burnered until it proves to be a detriment to the team.

Collins tried to create the ideal image for Valdespin yesterday, but came woefully short in selling his position.

“One of those things with those bench players like that, you create the scene for them,’’ Collins said. “If he’s hitting third, he doesn’t come up in that situation. If he’s hitting first, he doesn’t come up there. All of a sudden, here comes the eighth hitter in a big situation. Here he is. Now you can put him in.’’

Is that a load of garbage, or what? That’s manager-speak for what, I really don’t know.

While the clutch spot of the order might not surface until late in the game, had Valdespin started he might have had two or three chances to produce, and perhaps break open the game to where there is no clutch spot. Ever think of that, Terry?

Collins did say Valdespin sometimes changes his approach to where he’s too aggressive and goes outside himself when he plays as a starter. If that is the case, then spare us the other excuses and have him work on that part of his approach.

Collins wants it both ways and that can’t be. The problem is the Mets aren’t talented enough to where they can afford the luxury of a designated pinch-hitter. They have too many holes in their order and outfield to keep Valdespin in that role.

He needs to play, if for no other reason, to find out he can’t.

Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

May 01

Mets Wrap: Jordany Valdespin Homer Stops Slide

Well, the Mets weren’t going to lose them all. Jordany Valdespin, whose personality would be ideal for an NBA point guard, hit a three-run pinch-hit home run in the sixth inning to lift the Mets to a 7-6 victory to snap a six-game losing streak. “We got some offense going,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “The most frustrating thing about the past six days is we’ve been in the games. We’ve given ourselves a chance, we just haven’t been able to create any offense. Hopefully today is a start.’’

VALDESPIN: High-fives all around after homer.

VALDESPIN: High-fives all around after homer.

ON THE MOUND: Dillon Gee (2-4) picked up the victory despite so-so effort, giving up four runs on nine hits in five innings. Perhaps him winning was justice served, as the Mets had given him just ten runs in his previous five starts. … Bobby Parnell, who was testy about being bypassed for a save opportunity in Tuesday’s loss, used just seven pitches in a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.

AT THE PLATE: Valdespin’s homer was one of many important hits for the Mets. … David Wright and John Buck each had three hits. Wright hit his third homer of the year and Buck added a two-run double to give him 27 RBI.

PARNELL BACK IN: Parnell was upset at not being used Tuesday, but was all business this afternoon. Collins’ explanation was he didn’t want to overuse Parnell and risk injury. “I heard it and understood it right off the bat,’’ Parnell said. “I’m competitive. Your competitive nature, you want to be out there and help the team. I understand what he said completely and I agree with it. Sometimes you don’t want to hear it.’’

BY THE NUMBERS: 6. Career pinch-hit homers by Valdespin, second to Mike Carreon in franchise history.

THEY SAID IT: “I wasn’t really pleased with anything I did today. I’m happy the team won. We needed that. That was good. Everybody did a great job. But as far as I’m concerned, I actually almost feel bad for getting a win today.” – Dillon Gee on his performance.

ON DECK: The Mets are off Thursday, then begin a three-game series Friday in Atlanta, with Shaun Marcum (0-2, 7.94 ERA) going against Mike Minor (3-2, 3.13).

Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

May 01

Mets Fans Betrayed By Management

I don’t need to tell you this, but being a Mets’ fan is about being disappointed, frustrated and angry. It shouldn’t have to mean being betrayed.

After the disappointment of the Omar Minaya Era, which was highlighted by bad contracts – but at least he was signing people – the Mets were promised a new day with the hiring of Sandy Alderson as general manager.

Alderson vowed things would be different, and to be fair, they have been as worse is different.

“Be patient,’’ Alderson said, telling us it takes time to scuttle a team and rebuild with youth. Three years into the Alderson regime and the Mets still don’t have a bullpen, don’t have a major league outfield, the back end of their rotation is patchwork and there’s little depth.

Remember, Alderson was brought here – at the suggestion of commissioner Bud Selig – to get the Mets’ financial house in order. To that degree, he’s done well, shedding the Mets of the contracts of Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran.

Alderson got prospect Zack Wheeler for Beltran, but little else other than a fresh feeling for the removal of Perez and the others. After this season, he will be done with the contracts of Johan Santana and Jason Bay, the two biggest contracts given out in the Minaya Era. But, make no mistake, they were done so with the blessings of the Wilpon ownership.

To date, none of Alderson’s draft picks are producing on the major league level. Few of his trade acquisitions outside of John Buck have contributed, and the Mets remain the mess that prompted the management changes in the first place.

Only, the Mets are losing with a lesser payroll. Is that really progress?

If you’re a Mets’ fan this morning, you have to feel betrayed by what you saw the first month of the season, especially with what has happened the last two games. You feel betrayed because you bought into Alderson’s promises of better times to come and the spending during the winter of 2014.

Last night might have been the worst loss of the season.

After the Mets received eight scoreless innings from journeyman pitcher Jeremy Hefner – penciled in as a Triple-A starter going into spring training – their bullpen again collapsed. That’s three blown saves in two games.

It is easy to blame last night on third base umpire Tim McClelland’s blown call, but that’s only part of the reason why they lost.

They lost because their offense continues to be pathetic. While the onus has fallen on Ike Davis’ woes, he’s not the only one. The Mets have only one hit in their last 21 at-bats with runners in scoring position. The offense is dormant, and a lot of that stems from the fact they have no outfield.

Building a team is acquiring depth, but Anthony Recker had three bad plays in the ninth inning that led to the unraveling. Recker took accountability last night, saying he should have caught the pitch that turned into a passed ball; should not have made the throw to third, which because necessary because of the passed ball; and should have blocked Brandon Lyon‘s wild pitch.

Recker was stand-up about his performance, but he’s a Double-At catcher performing in the major leagues. He’s here because the Mets did such a poor job of building their bench.

And, why was Lyons in the game to begin with?

Bobby Parnell is the closer and should have gotten the ball at the start of the ninth. That was the formula, so why did manager Terry Collins deviate?

He said he didn’t want to burn out Parnell. Damn it, what are you saving him for, the World Series?

If he’s the closer, then he needs to go two or three games in a row. That he threw two innings the night before is avoiding the issue. Either Collins has faith in Parnell or he doesn’t. Parnell should have gotten the ball.

Even so, the Mets made a number of bad plays in the ninth inning, and missed several opportunities to lengthen their lead. Only, they didn’t execute, and much of that is because Collins doesn’t have the right pieces, and that falls on management. Why do you think the Mets didn’t post their line-up until moments before first pitch? It is because Collins didn’t know what pieces he’s have and if they’d fit.

Collins couldn’t rest David Wright, who has a stiff neck. Collins has to wait until batting practice to even see if Wright could play. He also had to figure out where Ike Davis would do the least amount of damage. Davis is batting seventh today, quite simply, because he has little other options on this level.

It is Alderson’s responsibility to give him those options. It is Alderson’s responsibility now that streamlining the budget has been addressed, of putting a representative team on the field.

So far, he hasn’t.

 

 

Apr 29

Has Mets’ Freefall Begun Early This Year?

Rocky might be sugar coating what is going on with the Mets these days. Do you remember the beginning of the month when the Mets were off to a semi-good start and the Yankees – beset by injuries – stumbled out of the gate and the talk was could they actually finish with a better record?

Not happening. We are looking at a fifth straight losing season, and please, don’t delude yourselves into thinking the Mets will suddenly go on a spending spree this winter. Now that the Mets have substantially reduced their payroll and after this year will be finally rid of the contractual anchors of Johan Santana and Jason Bay, do you honestly believe they’ll be writing a lot of checks this winter?

HARVEY: Bright spot. (AP)

HARVEY: Bright spot. (AP)

Next year could be more of the same.

After being swept over the weekend by Philadelphia, going 3-6 on their recent homestand and losers of nine of their last 12 games overall, all appearances have the Mets are packing it in before the All-Star break this season. I’m not saying the effort isn’t there, just the talent.

The weekend proved the Mets don’t need Arctic conditions to play their worst. Without Matt Harvey to protect them against the Phillies, the Mets had breakdowns with their rotation, bullpen, defense and hitting this weekend. It was as complete a sweep as can be.

* The Mets are 5-0 when Harvey starts and 5-13 when he doesn’t. He goes tonight at Miami against fellow phenom Jose Fernandez.

* The last two winters GM Sandy Alderson made rebuilding the bullpen the priority. However, this year’s nightmarish edition is the major league’s worst with an ERA nearing 5.50. It doesn’t even matter how close Frank Francisco is to returning as he proved he’s not the answer, either. Typical Mets. Their best reliever is closer Bobby Parnell and they can’t even get to him.

* Terry Collins said at the beginning of the season he wanted to use set line-ups. Twenty-three games later he has used 20 different batting orders/line-ups. That’s not even close to being stable.

* The outfield remains fluid, with something different each day. Jordany Valdespin provides a spark and then sits. Does anybody really think Juan Lagares is the answer? Collin Cowgill won the starting center field job coming out of spring training, but was sitting by the fourth game of the season and only has 47 at-bats.

* Ike Davis continues to flounder and look overmatched at the plate with half as many hits (13) as strikeouts (26). He’s on pace to strike out 183 times. He’s also on track to hit 28 homers, but drive in only 56 runs. Need I say he’s hitting less than .200?

With the way the Mets are playing, there’s no guarantee they’ll get better with three games in Miami. About the only encouraging thing you can come up with concerning this series is even if the Mets are swept, they can’t fall into the cellar behind the Marlins.

Ah, good times.

Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

ON DECK: David Price vs. Tom Hallion

Apr 28

Niese In Must-Win Start For Mets

Managers have tried for over a century, but there is no prescription drug capable of curing sick pitching. And, it’s not as if sick pitching is like the flu where it will go away in a couple of weeks.

Sick pitching doesn’t go away easily, so it wasn’t as simple as dispatching Josh Edgin to the minor leagues. Robert Carson was disappointed in being sent down to the minor leagues to start the season, but not nearly as disappointed as the Mets were in seeing him come back again.

Yesterday was the Mets’ latest pitching calamity – both the miserable start from Shaun Marcum and Carson’s five-run relief bombing – as they lost for the eighth time in 11 games.

With the exception of days Matt Harvey pitches, the Mets are rarely getting length from their starters, and on the occasions they do, they get nothing from their offense. It’s a nice symmetry for losing teams, of which the Mets are again proving to be.

That’s why today is as must-win-a-game as a team can have for April. With the major league worst 5.28 bullpen ERA, the Mets desperately need innings from Jon Niese, who is pitching with a bruised right ankle sustained last Tuesday.

That he is even pitching in indicative of the Mets’ desperation. Niese only had a light throw day since taking a hard comebacker off his ankle. Many teams would have him skip a turn to make sure he is all right, but not the Mets.

The Mets have few options other than to let Niese go back out there. Desperation is their route, and it is imperative Niese gets them through the sixth inning.

“Our starters have to get us deeper in the game,” manager Terry Collins said. “We’re using guys in the fifth and sixth innings that should be pitching the seventh and eighth.’’

Or at worst, in the minor leagues.