Aug 26

Ruben Tejada Scolded For Not Hustling

Production comes and goes. It is streaky. What should never be streaky is hustle. No matter the record, no matter the score, a player owes it to himself, his teammates and the paying customers to bust his butt.

That’s what’s so disappointing yesterday about Ruben Tejada, who not only failed to wear an athletic supporter – and being a shortstop of all things – and not running out a grounder.

Terry Collins and David Wright – this is why he should be named captain – reprimanded Tejada, who, in his first season as a starter should be running at all times.

The Mets aren’t going to have a winning record, but it they are ever going to, the culture of losing and apathy must be changed. It has to some degree, but not totally as Tejada proved. Tejada should be benched today to make sure the message sinks in.

There’s never any excuse for not hustling.

 

Aug 18

Time For Mets To Shelve Santana

It is time the Mets care for one of their own. It is time to put the health of one of their players ahead of the possibility of getting a few good games. 

It is time for the Mets to shutdown Johan Santana for the rest of the season. I wrote that several starts ago and Santana has done nothing to refute that reasoning since.

SANTANA: Shut him down. (AP)

After last night’s pasting, Terry Collins said there’s nothing wrong with Santana physically. As manager, he really can’t say anything else. He can’t admit to pitching Santana hurt. But, Collins didn’t come across as believable last night. He came across as someone trying to talk himself out of the inevitable.

Maybe he’s not hurt – at least not yet.

There are three reasons why a pitcher of Santana’s caliber fades so fast: injury, fatigue and losing the skills.

We know from the first half Santana has shown flashes of being the dominant ace the Mets need. We know from the no-hitter he can still be scintillating for an evening.

He hasn’t forgotten how to pitch. 

We also know since the no-hitter he hasn’t been the same.

It is time the Mets remember Santana is coming off a severe shoulder surgery, of which rehab began last December. The calendar says August, but the calendar in Santana’s arm has already recognized a full year plus two months. 

Santana has given us the season’s marquee moment and countless other gems during his tenure with the Mets. He’s helped change the culture. He’s been a leader for the younger players, and not just the pitchers. He’s been a winner in every respect.

Santana has also given us six straight games of allowing at least six runs. It’s a franchise worst stretch as well as a personal one. There’s no bite and little movement on his pitches. He doesn’t challenge hitters inside as he used to. He’s pitching defensive.

He’s been on the disabled list, but with an ankle injury. Did that injury alter his mechanics?

Nobody on the Mets will admit as much, but an alteration can be so subtle it would be hard to notice.

Bobby Ojeda, who should know about such things, said Santana is pitching on fumes. Santana might not be injured now, but seems fatigued and if he keeps going like this an injury is inevitable.

With no playoffs, there’s no reason to keep him going. 

The Mets need to take this decision away from Santana. Sure, he’s a competitor and wants to pitch. He has that mentality, but it is one not conducive to self-preservation. They must realize Santana already exceeded expectations for this year and has nothing left to prove.

The Mets, for Santana’s well being, need to shut him down now as to preserve him for the future. If they don’t, they risk not having him in the future.

Aug 17

Matt Harvey Gives Us Something

I’ll admit, there are two things I want to see from the 2012 Mets. The first is to finish over.500, which, while demonstrating a strong positive step, is becoming more remote. The second is for R.A. Dickey to win 20 games.

While watching Dickey get hammered earlier this week I started to wonder if 20 wins was a long shot and whether there was anything interesting and compelling to concern myself with this team.

Matt Harvey answered that question last night in a scintillating performance against the Reds, perhaps the NL’s best team.

Harvey ended a personal three-game losing streak with 7.2 strong innings iced by hitting a two-run double as the Mets salvaged the series. In this recent stretch of their second half freefall, the Mets have lost eight of their last 12 games.

Yes, it is one start, but for the most part he has been solid in each of this first four starts. Last night was easily his best. Since 2006, when the Mets last saw a meaningful October, the Mets received similar strong glimpses from guys such as Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee, but there’s something different about Harvey, a first-round pick from North Carolina.

He just seems polished beyond his experience.

Unlike some of the previous flashes mentioned, Harvey leaves the impression of working with a plan. Maybe there was a chemistry click with Kelly Shoppach, and Terry Collins needs to pair those two again. It is fun watching Harvey work quickly and pound the corners for strikes. He’s not afraid to go inside on a hitter, works efficiently and with poise.

Maybe Harvey won’t be electric like Doc Gooden, but he doesn’t figure to be an enigma such as Pelfrey, either.

 

Aug 09

Mets Embarrassed At Home; Should Invite Everybody Back

 Do you remember Terry Collins’ passionate speech about showing a different team and not being embarrassed? Seems so long ago. Maybe he needs to que up the Knute Rockne music for an encore.
The Mets came out of the break five games over .500 and after last night’s 13-0 rout are five games under. They’ve lost nine straight at home, with only 26,000 bothering to show up to witness last night. Chris Young, coming off a strong outing against San Francisco – where the Mets may have left both their hearts and game – gave up seven runs in just 4.1 innings.
“When you get beat like this tonight, it’s one of those games, you just check it off the calendar and get ready for tomorrow,” said Collins, speaking in a classic managerial cliche.
Hell, last night unfolded as if the Mets checked it off after batting practice. Maybe saying that is piling on, I don’t know. What I do know is the team is about to face the Braves, Reds and Nationals.
The Mets talked about showing up, but that’s not enough. All the goodwill from the first half has been eroded as they are 2.5 games out of the cellar. Want to bet Miami and the Phillies will eventually catch them?
During the dog days at Shea when the team was playing poorly the paltry crowds were embarrassing to see in that cavernous ball park. Citi Field is getting that ghost town look, too. As a gesture of thanks to their disappointed fan base, the Mets ought to invite those people who watched last night’s carnage to show their ticket stub and come back again.
There’s plenty of room in Citi Field and it demonstrates goodwill. Actually, there’s no good reason not to do it.
Aug 03

Is .500 For Mets Really A Pipe Dream?

Rudy responded the other day and suggested .500 was a pipe dream. Well, is it?

There have been times this season when I thought so. During spring training and after their last horrid home stand. Not a week ago I ripped Terry Collins for saying things would turn around. I saw no indication of it at the time, but this is a good trip.

 

I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon – cable car – just because the Mets had a fun time in San Francisco. Afterall, they’ve had good stretches before. But, all you have to do is go back to last year and St. Louis and Tampa to see teams get hot late.

I wouldn’t suggest playoffs, but .500 is not out of the question. There are several things outside of making the playoffs that would define this as a successful season, and .500 is one of them.

The Mets are 8.5 games behind in the wild card stretch, but after dismantling the Giants they are only two games under .500. You take these things in small steps and two games isn’t much to make up considering all the games remaining.

Five-hundred? It isn’t the ultimate goal of this team, but it is possible and represents significant progress.

Yes, there are holes in their game, notably the pen. But, Bobby Parnell had a strong outing in the SF series and the pen hasn’t done badly on this trip. Let’s see if they can maintain.  It’s not a pennant race, but it is a small step and that’s what rebuilding teams are about.