Nov 05

Will there ever be a new culture?

We heard a lot about the Mets’ culture changing when Sandy Alderson was hired as GM and Terry Collins as manager. The atmosphere changed t0 a degree, but the Mets’ talent level remained roughly the same with once again, the pitching faltered and took the team down with it.

Looking back on the season there were three significant story lines outside of the newness of the front office and manager. The first half when the Mets found themselves over .500, the swirling question was whether, or when, they would deal Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez.

When the pitching went south it was about the thinness of the rotation and weak bullpen, highlighted by not having a closer, who was in Milwaukee because the team feared Rodriguez’s option.

The season was played against the backdrop of the Mets not being able to re-sign Jose Reyes because they wouldn’t want to – or don’t have – the resources to retain the All-Star shortstop.

All three were about money and the Wilpon’s legal and financial troubles because of the Madoff Ponzi scandal. The Wilpons received positive news in the courts that would reduce the damages, but those damages would still be significant. And, it doesn’t help that the team has a $25 million debt to Major League Baseball.

You can change the manager, general manager and upper management and that could change the culture somewhat, but real change begins with ownership and that hasn’t changed. With the budget always an overriding issue, we can never expect things to really change and Mets being an elite franchise.

Oct 06

Bowa, Riggleman candidates for bench coach.

It didn’t take long for the suspects list for the vacant Mets’ bench coach position to start growing.

Four former major league managers are interested in working next to Terry Collins next season, including Jim Riggleman, John McLaren, Bob Geren and Larry Bowa.

Riggleman resigned as Nationals manager 75 games into the season in a salary dispute and was temporarily replaced by McLaren.

McLaren briefly managed Seattle while Geren managed in Oakland, with neither establishing an impressive resume.

Bowa is the most high-profile of the group having managed six years with San Diego and Philadelphia.

If the Mets want to instill a fiery presence, Bowa would be the logical choice.

 

Sep 26

Big Pelf? Nope. Big poof.

Did you really expect Mike Pelfrey to beat Roy Halladay yesterday? Neither did I … nor did I expect him to outpitch Halladay in any capacity.

PELFREY: Ends disappointing season on flat note.

What I expected was Pelfrey to pitch with pride and intensity. I hoped after this letdown of a season, in his final start he would step up and close out with a performance to give him a good taste going into winter.

Instead, he gave us another sour start, and himself a lot to think about in the coming months.

He proved he was a Big Poof instead of a Big Pelf.

“I wanted to finish strong.  That obviously was the furthest thing from it,’’ said Pelfrey, who gave up five runs on nine hits in three innings.

On a positive note, at least he was back in the clubhouse in time to catch the end of the Giants game.

Pelfrey finished 7-13 with a 4.74 ERA and a myriad of questions and concerns about his future with the Mets. How can there not be with the Mets losing 22 of his 34 starts?

Continue reading

Sep 17

Mets fall short … again.

At least R.A. Dickey is finishing his season pitching well despite today’s 1-0 loss at Atlanta. Eleven straight quality starts, but Dickey will be the first to admit two walks in the eighth inning to set up Chipper Jones was anything but quality.

The Mets need to run the table to finish .500, and that won’t happen. They will finish with a record worse than last season, a summer when the bottom fell out.

We can look at a myriad of statistics that define a season, but the Mets have lost 25 games this year by one run and another 11 by two runs. Losing 36 times out of 79 defeats encompasses the Mets’ two most glaring weaknesses: hitting with runners in scoring position and an inability of their pitchers to make that one quality pitch to escape an inning. If the Mets are .500 in those games they are leading the wild card race.

That’s why Terry Collins’ outburst the other day was not only justified, but warranted. The situation demanded such a response. The Mets are a rebuilding team with a grocery list of flaws, but for the most part overachieved this season.

You want to see them play with the kind of intensity that can overcome many of those flaws. That is what this team has to take with it into the offseason as it looks forward, and it is Collins’ job to remind them.

They cannot afford to enter the winter with a defeatist attitude.

 

Sep 07

Collins waffling on Parnell?

One of the many things about Jerry Manuel that drove me crazy was his inability to make, and stick, with a decision. For the most part Terry Collins has been the opposite, but there are waffling signs with him on Bobby Parnell.

PARNELL: Is Collins waffling on him as closer?

After Parnell’s blown save against the Nationals, Collins said Parnell would stay in the closer role because he wanted to display faith and avoid a kneejerk decision.

Collins wasn’t so supportive after last night, and suggested Parnell might need some non-save opportunities to bolster his confidence.

There’s no question about Parnell’s stuff, but his command is what has gotten him in trouble. Wildness isn’t just walking batters, but falling behind in the count and having to come in with the fastball.

Of course, that’s consistent with every pitcher.

As Parnell needs to develop confidence in his secondary pitches, he also has to get some from his manager. Collins said he’d get a chance to win the closer role, and that means overcoming rough stretches. That’s hard to do when it’s not the ninth inning, because part of becoming a closer is coming to grips with it being the final inning.

This is a prime learning opportunity with games that have meaning, definitely more of a test than during spring training.

No, I can’t say Parnell will ever become a quality major league closer. I can’t say he won’t, either. But, we’ll never know unless Collins sticks with him for the remaining three weeks. Manuel sabotaged Parnell as a starter several years ago. Here’s hoping Collins doesn’t do the same as a closer.

That’s in the best interest of Parnell and the Mets, because if you look at the other options – Manny Acosta, Pedro Beato or Jason Isringhausen – you realize Parnell has the highest ceiling for 2012.