Sep 15

Jenrry Mejia Getting His Chance

A mark of a good manager is putting his players in position to succeed. He shouldn’t force a player to do something he’s unfamiliar or uncomfortable with, thereby increasing the chance of failure.

That’s what Jerry Manuel did to Jenrry Mejia in 2010. With his job clearly in jeopardy and no bullpen to speak of, Manuel insisted on putting Jenrry Mejia in a relief role coming out of spring training despite no experience at it and, no definable role with the Mets.

Mejia didn’t work for long stretches and struggled when he did get in games. Eventually, he performed so poorly he was optioned out. Once in the minors, they tried him as a starter again. He was eventually injured.

He starts tonight at Milwaukee, despite his last three appearances at Triple-A Buffalo being in relief, this after a solid stretch as a starter.

You guessed it, the Mets still don’t have an idea where Mejia fits into their 2013 plans.

Mejia had dramatically more success at Triple-A Buffalo this season as a starting pitcher than working in the bullpen. He had a 2.75 ERA in ten starts and a 5.48 ERA in 16 relief outings.

His manager at Buffalo, Wally Backman, has faith in him as a reliever.

“You know what? He had never really relieved before, until he got to the big leagues for the short time [in 2010],’’ Backman said. “They sent him back to Triple-A and he started. And then he got hurt. So this year he started as a starter.

“`And [then] we put him in the bullpen. And, believe it or not, I think it was his last three outings in the bullpen, he was pretty good. Then we all of a sudden started him again. To me, he was figuring it out.’’

Mejia has it figured out in his mind as to what he wants to do and where he’s most comfortable and it is starting.

“That’s what I’m looking forward (to),’’ Mejia said. “I want to show them I want to be a starter. I can do my job like a starter.’’

Mejia said he feels more in control with his pitches starting, perhaps because at the start of the game there’s less pressure and more a margin for error than in the eighth or ninth innings.

On paper the Mets’ rotation seems set for 2013, but it must be remembered Johan Santana and Dillon Gee are coming off injuries; Jonathan Niese has a way to go before reaching his potential and might have regressed this year; and Matt Harvey is unproven over the long haul.

All those variables could open up a spot for Mejia.

Nov 07

Good for Backman

I like that Wally Backman was finally offered the Mets’ Triple-A managerial job. It appeared Backman would take a bench coach job with Washington, which I said he should take because at the time the Mets didn’t offer him the Triple-A position.

Well, the Mets did offer that job and it is good he stays in the organization.

Backman could learn a lot by working with Davey Johnson, but he would learn significantly more by making his own decisions. Backman would stand to better his future position by managing in Buffalo rather than interning under Johnson.

Of course, we don’t know who will be on the managerial market when Terry Collins leaves, but should Backman steadily progress and he’s still in the organization, it stands to reason he’ll have the inside track for the Mets’ job.

Yes, Backman is showing loyalty to the Mets, and the organization is doing the same for him. But, this is also a business decision for Backman, who realizes his fastest road to the majors goes through Buffalo.

 

 

Jul 04

Today in Mets’ History: A wild one in Atlanta.

This game was like one of those car wrecks you seen on the highway. A rubberneck game, because once you started watching you couldn’t take your eyes off it.

And, you watched until 3:55 in the morning. Just in time to go out for breakfast, or, if you were in Atlanta on this day in 1985, you called the police because you thought your neighborhood near Fulton County Stadium was being attacked.

GORMAN: The game he'll never forget.

In arguably one of the most fascinating games in club history, and one of the wildest of all time, the Mets outlasted the Braves, 16-13, in 19 innings, a July 4 game featuring two rain delays; Keith Hernandez hitting for the cycle; seven players getting at least nine at-bat; the Braves tying the game twice in extra innings; Mets reliever Tom Gorman working six innings; and following the game a fireworks display that prompted a flood of emergency calls to the Atlanta police.

It all began with an all-day rain that delayed the game, and another one followed that forced Davey Johnson to pull Dwight Gooden from the game and replace him with Roger McDowell.

The early part of the game was non-descript as the Mets held, then blew a 7-4 lead behind Jesse Orosco, who gave up four runs in the eighth inning.

The Mets tied the game in the ninth on Lenny Dykstra’s RBI single scored Howard Johnson, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter and singled. Johnson would go on and have the unbelievable line of going 3-for-5 with four runs scored.

Johnson homered with a man on to give the Mets a two-run lead in the 13th inning, but the Braves rallied in the bottom of the inning on Terry Harper’s two-run homer off Tom Gorman.

The game continued to crawl into the late night, and five innings later the Mets scored again on pitcher Rick Camp’s throwing error. However, with the Braves down to their final out, Camp homered to tie the game.

VIDEO OF CAMP’S HOMER

The Mets finally got to Camp with five runs in the 19th inning, on run-scoring hits from Ray Knight, Danny Heep and Wally Backman. The win went to Gorman.

Ron Darling worked the 19th to close out the game, and the fireworks began at 4:01 a.m.

BOX SCORE THAT WOULDN’T END

 

Jun 06

Today in Mets History: A typical mauling.

The Mets finally recognized the 1986 team this weekend. I’m bad, too. I should have had more on that dynamic team, also. I’ll rectify that beginning today.

DANNY HEEP: Remember him?

The 1986 Mets mauled opponents. They dominated. The steamrolled them. Such as on this date in Pittsburgh with a 10-4 rout that featured 15 hits.

The first four hitters in the order, Mookie Wilson, Wally Backman, Darryl Strawberry and Danny Heep went a combined 9-for-18 with seven runs scored.

The Mets hit only three homers that day – Rick Aguilera, Strawberry and Wilson – to move 20 gaves (35-15) over .500.

Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez were off that day.

Aguilera started and lasted 4.1 innings, and Roger McDowell worked 3.2 innings of relief to earn the victory.

On a side note, Barry Bonds went 0-for-5 for the Pirates.

BOX SCORE

 

Nov 22

Mets to tab Collins as manager

Terry Collins is 61 years old and hasn’t managed in the major leagues in 11 years, but will become the 20th manager in Mets’ history.

I’m happy about the selection and don’t believe for a second the team doesn’t have its fingers on the pulse of its fans, many of whom remain infatuated with 1986 and preferred Wally Backman get the job.

I’m pleased with the selection because it showed the Mets followed through on their promise to make a thoughtful decision and didn’t cave to make the popular pick, the easy pick just to placate the emotions in the stands.

Doing so could have set the team back several years.

Sandy Alderson knows more about what’s going on than the fans and the media. He has a proven track record and was hired to rebuild this franchise. I trust he knows what he’s doing and want to see how things develop before trashing his pick.

Alderson conducted an exhaustive search of ten candidates before narrowing it down to Collins, Bob Melvin, Chip Hale and Backman. Collins’ reputation is one of being fiery – the description of Backman, who has 444 less career major league wins as a manager – and of being solid in player development, essential for a team looking to rebuild.

Hale is expected to remain with the organization, but no word yet on what will become of Melvin and Backman. Both worked for the Mets last season and could be brought back.

Alderson has a rebuilding plan and it won’t happen overnight. Collins will be given a two-year contract, time enough to lay a strong foundation.

The Mets are a team in transition. Their first step was to add a well-respected front office, which has now made it first move.

Let’s see how it works.