Nov 12

Bringing back Feliciano not a given

One of the Mets’ most interesting off-season decisions will be what to do with Pedro Feliciano. The departure of Hisanori Takahashi doesn’t necessarily mean bringing back Feliciano is a formality.

FELICIANO: Not a given he'll be back.

Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel wore down Feliciano, pushing the envelope with him against right-handed hitters over the past three years. Feliciano led the league in appearances for three straight seasons with 86, 88 and 92 in 2008, 2009 and last year, respectively.

“The Mets over used him because they didn’t really have any other better options against right-handed hitters,” one scout said. “There were signs he was wearing down. He’d be better off strictly against lefties.”

He’ll be 35 in 2011 and if he doesn’t have more of a refined role, there are concerns he could wear down. In three more innings pitched last season than in 2009, Feliciano’s ERA rose by a third of a run, and he gave up 15 more hits and 12 more walks.

Feliciano, as much as he wanted an expanded role, proved vulnerable against right-handed hitters with a .336 average against compared to .264 from the previous year.

Feliciano’s pre-All-Star ERA was 2.34, but his post-All-Star ERA was 4.50, including 5.23 in July and 6.75 in August when the season slipped away from the Mets.

The shelf life of a reliever is short to begin with, and considering his age and that there are breakdown signs already, don’t be surprised if the Mets cut him loose and looked for a younger, cheaper arm elsewhere.

Jul 10

Mets Chat Room; Pelfrey searching for that feeling.

Game #87 vs. Braves

Win or lose this afternoon, Mike Pelfrey will have had a good first half. Much better than anybody would have anticipated considering how he was rocked during spring training.

However, today is more about heading into the break on a positive psychological note than it is pumping up his already impressive numbers.

At 10-3, and on pace for a 19-6 season, Pelfrey is having a breakthrough year, but is going through rough patch, almost a flashback to last year in his inability to minimize the damage and finish off innings, something he has done so well throughout the first half.

After a 9-1 start that unearthed his maturity, including a loss to the Yankees in late June, Pelfrey is 1-2 over his last four starts. That, in it is no big deal, but what has raised a red flag was an inability to finish and a lack of composure, which flared in Monday’s loss to Cincinnati.

Pelfrey unraveled after failing to get two calls and the result was seven runs in 4 2/3 innings, his second straight start in which he failed to get out of the fifth.

“I thought for the first time in over a year, I let my emotions get the best of me,’’ Pelfrey said in a candid admission. “That wasn’t very good on my part.’’

Not only did Pelfrey admit to that, but attributed his rough patch to a dead arm period.

“Every year, you just go through a little period where you don’t feel like the ball is coming out of your hand like it has that extra life on it,’’ Pelfrey said. “I feel like I’ve been going through that.’’

Over his last four starts Pelfrey has been tagged for 18 runs on 34 hits and eight walks. Not All-Star like at all, but also not a regression.

Pelfrey will attempt to put the brakes on his personal and the Mets’ team slide this afternoon against the Braves. Beating Atlanta for the third time in the first half would not only pull the Mets within three of the Braves but also give him a positive base from which to approach the second half.


May 15

May 15.10: Chat Room, Game #37 at Marlins: Another fine mess you’ve gotten us into Ollie

What to do with Oliver Perez? After Perez’s latest implosion last night in Florida, it has become even more apparent the Mets need to do something about their flammable left hander, who with each passsing start shows all that hard work this winter is going by the boards.

The first option is to leave him in the rotation for awhile, but Jerry Manuel made that decision last night in the hope Perez would respond to the warmer weather in Florida. But, Perez’s fastball is down by at least four mph., and it seems he can’t find homeplate with a GPS.

There was nothing last night to indicate any progress. Come to think about, four home runs is worse than seven walks.

The bullpen is a poor option because Perez won’t get enough real work to correct his mechanical and mental problems. Any game he enters would be akin to waiving a white flag.

And, you know the Mets aren’t going to eat the $20 million balance of his contract, so an outright release won’t happen either.

OK … to me the only real solution is to send him to the minor leagues to let him work out his problems, that is, if he can.

The Mets, sad to say, have been pushed into a corner where they are trying to salvage what’s left of Perez’s career.

Apr 14

April 14.10: About Last Night; Maine in trouble.

I don’t know if last night was John Maine’s worst game as a Met, but it sure could have been. It definitely was as complete a loss as the Mets have endured in recent seasons.

* Maine gave up eight runs on seven hits and three walks in three innings. His ERA is 13.50 and his spot in the rotation is now under question.

* Met hitters were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, effectively eliminating any chance at making a game of it last night.

* Met pitchers walked nine and their hitters struck out 11 times.

Jerry Manuel talked about a 20-game window to determine what is a fast start. At 2-5, and a miserable 2-5, maybe they are already there. Maine, hammered in both starts, is not only off to a bad start, but he’s in trouble.

“When you have that much traffic in that few innings you have to be concerned,’’ Manuel said. “He got the two outs and couldn’t put them away. You have to have some concern.’’

Maine broke 90 mph. a few times but was consistently in the high 80s. Manuel doesn’t think there’s a health problem.

“This is a performance business,’’ Manuel said. “We don’t think there are any health issues.’’

Perhaps Maine isn’t hurting, but he’s also not strong enough to be throwing that way. In the past he’s been able to get by with poor location with his velocity, getting a foul tip instead of a double in the gap.

Manuel said that’s part of the problem and he’ll have “dialogue’’ with his coaches about Maine’s spot in the rotation.

Last night was a continuation of a trend of falling behind early. Save Johan Santana’s first start, the Mets have consistently fallen behind in their games, putting pressure on their listless offense. And, right now the Mets aren’t hitting well to compensate for their pitching.

“We wanted to pitch well,’’ Manuel said. “That’s the key to everything.’’

Right now, the Mets are thinking what’s wrong with Maine and what to do about it. If it is simply a matter of building up his arm, then sending him out has to be considered. A MRI to be sure about the structure of his elbow must also be evaluated.

Currently, Maine is not getting it done. But, unlike the coin flips known as Oliver Perez and Mike Pelfrey, he’s not showing any upside.

Ah, what the hell. I’m not going to wait for 20 games. This is a bad start.

NOTE: Vote in the new poll concerning what should be done about John Maine.


Apr 07

April 7.10: Maine says he’s fine; gets start tonight.

There was a time when John Maine was considered a throw-in from Baltimore in the Kris/Anna Benson trade, but his strong showing at the end of the 2006 season and 15 wins in 2007 gave hope he could evolve into a dependable No. 2 starter.

“No. 2, that’s just a number,’’ Maine said. “I just need to get out there, stay healthy and I believe I’ll be fine.’’

Maine had shoulder surgery at the end of the 2008 season and admitted this spring that he rushed himself back last year contributing to his arm problems.

“I learned a lesson,’’ he said.

At 1-3 with a 7.88 ERA in spring training, it’s hard to defend Maine’s performance other than saying the numbers don’t count and he was working on things. Pitching with a migraine and stomach virus, Maine gave up four runs on six hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings in his exhibition finale against Washington.

(NOTE: Part of juggling the rotation was to avoid the Nationals getting another look at Maine so quickly).

Maine brushed off his performance, saying: “My arm feels fine. Shoulder feels good. That’s the top priority.’’

The numbers haven’t been there, but Maine insists he’s not worried and he’s throwing the ball better than anytime after the 2007 season. He said the ball is just flowing out of his hand.

“I think the last time it came out easy without trying to really force anything was spring training 2008,” Maine said. “I might have been throwing a little harder then, but it’s coming out good.’’