Aug 05

Today in Mets’ History: A reason to watch.

The Atlanta Braves are in town and not too long ago that was a big deal. As the Yankees and Red Sox go at it in Fenway Park for first place – it’s a worn story, but it’s real baseball – the Mets are clinging to what is left of their season.

After two disheartening losses to Florida, the Mets are 16.5 games behind first-place Philadelphia – noting for the record – and eight games behind wild-card leader Atlanta. They are also 2.5 games out of last place.

At 55-55, the Mets have exceeded most expectations to the point where the losses to the Marlins were anguishing. There was a moment this week when I actually looked at the scoreboard for the Braves score and did some quick wondering math.

The math is quite simple this weekend: Win or go home. Nothing short of a sweep will do.

For those who can’t dream of the impossible, remember on this date in Mets history they were in last place in the National League East by 11.5 games with a 48-60 record.

The Mets have the same record today as they did last season after 110 games, but even with their financial problems, there isn’t the same train wreck scenario.

Last year at this time we wondered about the job stability of Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel, and there was the lingering stagnating cloud that was Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.

All that negativity is gone, and with Sandy Alderson there is the hope of a rebuilding process heading in the right direction. And, considering what he was dealt, how can you not be impressed with what Terry Collins has brought to the party?

Carlos Beltran is gone, but we knew all along that would happen. We also knew this would be a season without Johan Santana. We aren’t surprised Jason Bay isn’t hitting. We can’t also be surprised by a fall off from R.A. Dickey and the bullpen lapses.

But, we didn’t expect to be without David Wright for two months and not have Ike Davis, and we thought Mike Pelfrey would take another step.

And, quite honestly, when Beltran was here, few expected him to play as well as he did.

There are still a myriad of questions and issues surrounding this team, not the least of which is its financial structure and what will become of Jose Reyes.

All that and there’s still reason to watch.

For the most part the Mets are playing hard, aggressive and interesting baseball. Not always spotless, but there is a grit about them that is appealing. Last year, mostly because of its leadership and the Perez mess, the Mets were an easy team to dislike.

However, there is a likeable quality about this group. They play with an integrity that for one more weekend at least, there is reason to watch them and wonder what if.

 

Jun 22

Today in Mets’ History: Franco climbs save list.

John Franco has always been one of the more popular Mets. You can catch him on SNY from time to time.

FRANCO: Hall worthy?

On this date in 1994, Franco passed Dave Righetti for the most saves by a lefthander with 253 in a 5-2 victory at Atlanta.

Franco finished with 424 saves, an average of 26 per season playing for the Reds, Mets an Astros. He had eight seasons of 30 or more saves – five of them with the Mets – with a career best 39 with Cincinnati in 1988.

That season was one of three times in which he led the National League in saves.

Franco is fourth on the career list behind Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera and Lee Smith, but has received little consideration for the Hall of Fame, largely because he has one save in 15 postseason appearances.

Franco has always been a straight shooter, which accounts for much of his popularity among Mets fans.

During the summer of 2009 when the Mets were hit hard by injuries and struggling, Franco wanted to hear none of the excuses and pointed in a different direction.

Continue reading

Jun 15

Hot Gee and Reyes lead Mets tonight.

The Mets feature two of the National League’s hottest players in tonight’s game at Atlanta in Dillon Gee and Jose Reyes.

Gee is attempting to beat the Braves for the third time and become the first Mets starter since Dwight Gooden in 1988 to win his first eight starts.

GEE: Going for eighth straight win.

Gee has already beaten Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson, giving up just one run in 12.2 innings.

Despite his success, Gee is taking nothing for granted.

“There’s definitely still a lot of work to be done,’’ said Gee. “I don’t want to look into (the streak) too much. I definitely feel like I’m gaining more confidence every time out. But it’s hard work here, and I have to keep working to maintain where I’m at and gain a little better, too.’’

Also blistering is Jose Reyes, who leads the majors with a .346 average. Over the last 18 games, Reyes has sizzled with a .438 average, five triples, two homers and 12 RBI with 21 runs scored.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody sustain it the way he has for three and a half, four weeks,’’ manager Terry Collins said.

 

Jun 15

Complaining about field helps Mets.

The Mets whining about the field last night might have been the turning point in the game. After Jose Reyes slipped leading off first, the Mets complained the field was too soggy and asked the umpires to have the grounds crew apply a drying agent.

REYES: Scoring in the first.

Reyes promptly stole second and scored, which turned out to be a big play as the Mets won by one run.

Although this worked out for the Mets, I don’t really like it. So the Braves watered down the infield to slow down Reyes. Get over it. It’s gamesmanship and teams have always tailored their field to their own advantage.

Wear the metal spikes Jose and move on. To complain makes the Mets look like whiners.

Teams have forever let the grass grow in the infield to slow down ground balls, sloped the baselines to help their bunters and watered down the infield to slow the opposition.

 

Ron Darling made an interesting comment when he said are they going to next make them cut the grass.

Continue reading

Jun 10

What’s the answer for Bay?

Terry Collins floated the idea several weeks ago, but never followed through with batting Jason Bay second in the order behind Jose Reyes.

Theoretically, Bay would get more fastballs with running threat Reyes on first. Batting second snapped David Wright out of funks before, and perhaps it would do the same for Bay.

BAY: Strike three. You see this a lot.

 

Obviously, dropping him to sixth didn’t work. He’s still chasing breaking balls away. He’s also not turning on the fastball, and his plate presence is terrible.

Bay’s problems are physical and mental, and there’s no quick fix. Afterall, this has been lingering for two years with no signs of coming out of it.

I don’t believe sending Bay to the minor leagues is the answer, because what good does beating up on those pitchers do? Assuming, of course, he does beat up on them.

Bay needs to work himself out of this by playing, so an extended benching isn’t the answer, either. Hitting second might not work, but it hasn’t been attempted.

Continue reading