Apr 07

Early Impressions Of Mets Have Been Good

It’s always fun to examine the first impressions of a new season.

For example, it is safe to say John Buck will not finish with 292 RBI. However, you might get interesting odds if you believe the 4-2 Mets will continue their pace and outplay the 2-4 Yankees.

That being said, the measuring stick for success or failure is their starting pitching. If they get innings it keeps them in games and the bullpen off the mound.

DAVIS: Some anguish there/

DAVIS: Some anguish there

There’s absolutely no way the starters will continue with a 1.41 ERA, but if the front end of Jon Niese, Matt Harvey and Dillon Gee produce, and they get something from the back end, they’ll remain competitive.

However, if the starters run into stretches where they are batted around, it exposes the bullpen, which has been tested and performed well twice and poorly twice.

The most important start of the season was Jeremy Hefner as a replacement for Johan Santana. Currently, he’s the fourth starter, and Sunday’s starter, Aaron Laffey, is the fifth. A week in and already the Mets have two holes in the rotation. I have no expectations of Shaun Marcum.

The bullpen was on Saturday and Sunday. Scott Rice is a good story, but there’s a reason he’s bounced around. This is a make-or-break year for Bobby Parnell. I have confidence in Josh Edgin, but little in LaTroy Hawkins. Scott Atchison was superb Sunday.

GM Sandy Alderson has spent two years trying to build a bullpen and he might have to do it again.

Alderson is adamant about not rushing Zack Wheeler, and evidenced by him getting hit hard last week, that’s the smart call. However, it’s easy to say that now, but let’s see what happens if the back end of the rotation becomes a black hole.

One thing for certain is the injured Jenrry Mejia isn’t in the plan – as a starter or reliever. The way the Mets jerked him around might have irreparably damaged his career.

Offensively, two things always jump out: 1) their high propensity for striking out, and 2) long stretches of not hitting with runners in scoring position. Both have already come into play.

They’ve homered in each game, but that won’t continue, although the potential for greater power production is realistic.

Buck has been the best story, but let’s be honest, if he continues to be good and the Mets fade, teams will be calling for him by the July 31 trade deadline. By that time, Travis d’Arnaud could be here. In a perfect world, the Mets would continue to play well and d’Arnaud could be Buck’s caddy for half the season.

David Wright had three hits Saturday to break out of a dry stretch, but has yet to homer. He’s hit 30 before, but if he doesn’t and still drives in runs and has a high OPS, we shouldn’t worry about him. Wright has the same number of strikeouts as walks (4), which in today’s game is acceptable. As long as he has a high on-base percentage (.455 now), there’s no reason for concern.

The guy I wonder about is Ike Davis, who had two hits Saturday to get out of a 1-for-16 slide. Davis, with one homer, has a tendency to go into prolonged slumps. The red flag with him is he has more than twice as many strikeouts (7) to hits (3) and a .273 on-base percentage. Davis had a miserable first half last season and you must consider if his slow start is making him wonder.

So far, the most encouraging sign about Lucas Duda is he has more walks than strikeouts and a .500 on-base percentage. He’s staying within himself and if he continues to be selective, he’ll get his pitch to hit.

Daniel Murphy, despite not having much of spring training, is driving the ball. Murphy is strong, and I wonder if he concentrated more on turning on the pitch if he’d hit for more power. Wade Boggs always said he could hit a lot of home runs if he wanted. The same went with Tony Gwynn. Murphy isn’t in either class, but is a contact hitter.

If there’s been one disappointment it has been Ruben Tejada, who’s especially struggling with the glove.

The major offensive concern was the outfield, but so far it hasn’t been a problem. Collin Cowgill has hit for power, Duda has been on base and Marlon Byrd has been hitting. Mike Baxter reached base three times Saturday and should get a longer look in the leadoff spot, as that remains unsettled.

The Mets are playing better than expected, but the same cracks that haunted them in the past are still evident. After a week, yes, there is the potential for a long summer. But, also the potential for some fun.

May 23

Thank God For Mets

As you can tell, I have not been around since Friday. I went in for surgery, had complications and only today have I been able to sit up without help. The only thing I could reach was the TV remote. Today is the first day since Friday that I’ve been online.

Helping me through this time have been the Mets and TV sports. In particular, the NBA playoffs. My basketball rooting interest are the Celtics and whatever team is playing Los Angeles and Miami. When those teams play I am paralyzed as to who I want to lose more, the Lakers or LeBron James’ team. No, I won’t get over it.

But, I must say, the Mets have been a joy to watch. R.A. Dickey is a great story and his contract should be extended. Time after time, he does it again. I wasn’t crazy about the communication in left field between Mike Baxter and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and the bullpen has been a challenge to watch.

I’ve been watching Ike Davis, and while I believe he’ll get his swing fixed, the overriding question is when? I was against the minor leagues, but he’s just not right.

I see where David Wright’s average has dropped and threatening to dip below .400. I read with amusement where Terry Collins answered about Wright possibly challenging .400, saying he had the speed. What mumble jumble. If George Brett, Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs and Rod Carew all fell way short, how could anybody believe Wright can sustain that clip for the Mets?

Anyway, I said thank God for the Mets, and I meant it. Whomever your team is, give thanks for that. When people are down physically and mentally, or just shut ins, sports is their key to the outside and there’s a lot of reason to give thanks for that.

I hate leaving the blog unattended, and tried to reach Joe DeCaro to post for me, only I learned he had surgery himself. The two of us should be on the DL.

Anyway, I hope you realize I was thinking about you guys while I was hurting and how I missed the communication with you. I need to reach out again to repair the damage from being away, but I hope you realize after all this time I wouldn’t leave without saying a proper goodbye and something had to have come up.

It’s still a thrill for me to watch the Mets, comment about them and read your responses. Thank you for that and I’ll try to stay on my feet from now on.

Best to you all, JD