May 09

Mets Go For The Throat; Dillon Gee Gets Crack

The Mets have won 17 games this young season, ten of the come-from-behind variety and seven by one run. They have won six series, sweeping two. They go for the sweep today in Philadelphia.

Doing so will represent another step in their development. Contending teams close out games and close out series. Winning a series winning two of three is great, but sweeping is better.

Sweeping represents a sense of dominance and reinforces confidence. I know what you’re thinking; I’m being greedy. Maybe so, but doesn’t that signify a new attitude about this team?

Today it’s Dillon Gee going, and twice now Terry Collins let him pitch out of trouble when he was on the ropes. That demonstrates confidence, something you rarely saw Jerry Manuel give his pitchers.

I mention that not to rip Manuel as that would be piling on. I do say it to show the difference in attitude and culture between Manuel and Collins.

Manuel came on strong at first, taking out Jose Reyes in his first game. He then regressed, taking an unequal approach in dealing with players and afraid to be forceful with the deadwood. Then again, in all fairness, that message – in dealing with Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo – came from up top.

Things are different now. The Mets are infusing themselves with young, homegrown talent. You don’t often see guys not running out ground balls. There are occasional fundamental lapses, but they aren’t as frequent. That explains in part the winning.

The Mets haven’t hit this well with two outs in as long as I can remember. The defense from early questions – Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda and Josh Thole – is better than anticipated, as is the starting pitching.

Something else the Mets have done, and this is another mark of a contender, is winning within the division and beating teams when they are done. They’ve won two series from the struggling Phillies, swept the Braves when they limped out of spring training without Chipper Jones, and swept the Marlins during their slow start.

Things have changed with the 2012, and that includes the expectations. Have yours changed?

 

May 06

Johan Santana Gives Mets Ace Effort

Once again, Johan Santan pitched like an ace for the Mets. Not so much in domination as he did working out of trouble and finishing strong. Only this time, the Mets got him some runs, the bullpen closed the door and a losing streak was snapped at four.

The Mets are a fragile team, thin actually, and they can’t afford to let losing streaks drag on and get out of hand. That’s how seasons can slip away.

This is also a team that must be creative, such as dropping Daniel Murphy to fifth in the order with Ike Davis slumping. Murphy responded with four hits, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him there again today.

For the most part, there’s little to complain about Terry Collins. He changed the culture of the clubhouse and has gotten the most from what has been made available to him.

I don’t know where the Mets will finish this season, but for some reason I don’t feel as bleak about things as I once did. I want to enjoy this summer.

May 01

Kirk Nieuwenhuis Move Might Have Cost Mets

Of course, it crossed my mind. Left field in Houston is a tough place to play, perhaps one of the toughest in the National League. So, when Jed Lowrie’s pop up fell between Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Ruben Tejada, it immediately raised the inevitable speculation the Mets’ newest left fielder felt awkward because it was his first time in left on this level.

As a centerfielder, Nieuwenhuis played aggressively, but on this play he appeared tentative.

“It was just a ‘tweener’ ball that I should have caught,” Nieuwenhuis said. “It dropped, and that’s unfortunate. (R.A. Dickey) was pitching a great game and I just made a mistake.”

Neither Nieuwenhuis nor manager Terry Collins blamed the mistake on the former playing a new position, but it’s on the table. There is always an adjustment period in playing a different position.

Nieuwenhuis stayed in the leadoff spot and delivered a game-tying, two-run single, but his offensive night was mixed because he was also picked off first base.

ON DECK: Reviewing April’s fast start.

Apr 28

Mets Need Big Things From Dillon Gee

With Mike Pelfrey on the shelf – he’ll see Dr. James Andrews on Monday – and watching Chris Schwinden and the bullpen get torched last night, the Mets must get strong performances from Dillon Gee, not only this afternoon, but all the time.

GEE: Mets need more from him.

Gee, the Mets’ fourth starter, was brought up early last year and won his first seven starts, but hitters caught up with him and he finished 13-6. In his last start against the Giants, Gee gave the Mets six innings, but was hit for seven runs. Not a good tradeoff.

Last night’s four errors and an 11-run inning that overshadowed Scott Hairston’s cycle was one of those freaky things that happen. The defense can’t afford lapses like those because the Mets don’t have the firepower or the bullpen depth to overcome them.

Mets pitchers are typically working roughly six innings, which means the bullpen gets three. It got more last night. The more a pen is used the less effective it becomes over the long haul.

Continue reading

Apr 26

Mets Lineup For April 26 Against Marlins

I’ve always loved day games during the week, especially when the Mets were on the road because it enabled me to explore a city, check out a restaurant, and in the case of a getaway game, catch a flight to the next city.

The Mets scheduled today’s game in the afternoon not so New York fans could watch the NFL draft, but so they could fly to Denver and check into their hotel at a decent time.

I’ve always thought every getaway game should be in the afternoon so teams could be fresh for the next series. I wonder how many times a team might have lost because their players were dragging from flying all night.

The Mets are looking to sweep the Marlins this afternoon behind Jon Niese. Here’s his support:

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf
Ruben Tejada, ss
Daniel Murphy, 2b
David Wright, 3b
Lucas Duda, rf
Ike Davis, 1b
Josh Thole, c
Jordany Valdespin, lf
Jon Niese, lhp

LINEUP COMMENTS: Ike Davis will move up to sixth in the batting order, but that has more to do with Jordany Valdespin playing left. With Jason Bay out Terry Collins will juggle that position. When Andres Torres returns presumably sometime next week, I would think Kirk Nieuwenhuis will play left field and stay at the top of the order. He’s done nothing to warrant a demotion to the minors or a drop in the batting order.