Jul 03

Reyes injury a source for concern.

Timing is everything, and all of a sudden this isn’t a good time for the Mets. After a sparkling road trip to Texas and Detroit, the Mets have dropped three straight and fallen 7.5 games off the wild-card pace.

REYES: Will have MRI today.

Is this the start of the July slide some feared that propel the Mets into a fire sale?

They hope to avoid being swept by the Yankees today, then head to the West Coast for series against the Dodgers and Giants, where they usually don’t play well. You might recall it was this trip last season – which featured an ailing Jose Reyes – that derailed their slim wild card hopes.

And, it could be happening again this year, with Reyes pulling up lame with a hamstring injury yesterday. Reyes and muscle pulls haven’t gotten along, first at the beginning of his career and the last two seasons.

We won’t know the severity of Reyes’ injury until a MRI today, but what it does do is give us a glimpse into what the Mets have feared and one of their concerns in offering him a long-term deal in the neighborhood of six or seven years.

Reyes sustained hamstring issues at the beginning of his career and muscle pulls the past two seasons, very alarming for a player who makes his living with his legs.

History tells us Reyes won’t last the duration of his next contract without an injury. Common sense also tells us if his current injury is severe and lands him on the disabled list for several weeks and his immediate health is an issue, it might make it more difficult to deal, especially if the Mets don’t offer a negotiating window to the other team.

Reyes says he’s not concerned, but that’s putting on a brave face. How can he not be worried?

 

Oct 04

With changes, 2011 is underway.

Jeff Wilpon didn’t wait long.

Wilpon, doing the right thing, acted quickly and decisively today in announcing GM Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel are no longer a part of the Mets. There was no need to delay the inevitable.

Here’s his statement: “We are extremely disappointed in this year’s results and the failures of the past four seasons.  We need to hire a new General Manager with a fresh perspective who will transform this club into a winner that we want and our fans deserve.  We appreciate all that Omar and Jerry have done for the Organization and thank them for their time and effort.  Changes like these are never easy, especially when you are dealing with people you like and respect.”

It was a clipped, cliche of a quote, offering nothing new. That might come in a press conference this afternoon. Probably not, as the real story never is told in these types of gatherings.

Both handled their dismissals with class and dignity, qualities you admire and respect. They aren’t always qualities that translate to winning baseball games.

Manuel was very classy yesterday in his post-game remarks and during the game when he prompted Mike Pelfrey to take a bow and removed David Wright and Jose Reyes so they could receive ovations. It was a small gesture, but it meant a lot to the players involved. Minaya was the same this morning, saying: “I think we needed a change here. The bottom line is we had three years where we didn’t finish the job, and I’ve been in this town long enough to know that we’re expected to win.”

Minaya and Manuel are gone, as we’ve anticipated since the end of July when the Mets plummeted out of contention after a freefall West Coast trip.

In particular, Minaya’s decisions on Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo have hamstrung the Mets financially, which was underscored in Perez’s awful performance yesterday after a month of inactivity. Watching Perez soil a strong pitching performance by Pelfrey and the bullpen might be Minaya’s legacy with the Mets.

However, before we pile on Minaya, let us remember that ownership signed off on those moves and did not spend the money wisely.

Ownership vowed Minaya and Manuel would be held accountable in 2010, and that they have been. However, ownership promised, but did not deliver on its vow to make significant player acquisitions. And, ownership has not delivered to its fan base a concrete blueprint for change.

Minaya and Manuel are gone, but unless ownership makes a dramatic hire to lead its front office, they will merely be scapegoats.

Change is underway, but will there be real change?

Sep 22

It’s over, finally.

The inevitable became official last night when the Florida Marlins eliminated the Mets from playoff contention for the third time in four years. The Marlins might have administered the killing blow, but last night, as in the other two years, the Mets killed themselves.

Last night was a microcosm of this season in many ways, beginning with an offense that squandered numerous opportunities to eventually waste a strong starting performance, this time from Mike Pelfrey. The Mets’ inability t0 produce, much less in the clutch, has been a critical weakness all summer.

We’ve been over this before, but most of the starting position players will return next season so the Mets don’t figure to add a big bat. They need to hope for healthy players and improvement. Hoping makes for a very bad plan.

For his part, Pelfrey continues to pitch well enough to win most games, but last night was betrayed by his defense and later the bullpen.

After Pedro Feliciano retired the first two batters in the eighth, Jerry Manuel went to Elmer Dessens, who gave up four straight hits, including a mammoth three-run homer to Gaby Sanchez. Why Feliciano wasn’t allowed to continue is beyond me. He’s certainly more reliable than Dessens.

Another poor bullpen decision, but there have been so many I’ve lost track.

It’s easy to blame injuries, and for the Mets they could wonder what might have been had they not lost significant time from Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, Jose Reyes and Johan Santana. Still, the Mets’ losses weren’t as severe as those of the Phillies, but they managed to overcome and have won 21 of their last 25, the kind of hot streak Manuel kept waiting for, but never came.

Championship caliber teams must find a way to overcome from injuries and the Mets did not. There were simply too many times this season when they beat themselves, whether it be an error in the field, giving away an at-bat, or throwing a lazy pitch.

You are what your record says you are, and for the Mets they are a losing team for the second straight season, and out of the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

On an interesting note, Manuel responded to Joe Torre’s comments about being curious about the Mets’ job, and Torre responded by apologizing to Manuel and saying he was closing the door on managing the Mets. Torre should have danced around the question better and apologized for violating an unwritten protocol.

Still, people change their minds so I wouldn’t write off the Mets and Torre talking after the season. It’s not as if Torre backing off now will save Manuel’s job. The Mets have not been shy in the past for going after media outlets for stories they didn’t like, or weren’t correct. The Mets have not told one media outlet to back off on Manuel, nor have they made any comment about his returning.

They have left Manuel alone to twist in the wind because they know he’s not returning. They are studying their options. Speaking of which, they appear to have lost out on Kevin Towers, who appears to be headed for Arizona. He would have been intriguing.

So, it is officially over, but we’ve known for awhile now that it wasn’t going to happen for the Mets. For me, I thought the series just prior to the break when they lost to Atlanta was a determining moment. From there, came the disastrous West Coast slide that coincided with the return of Carlos Beltran.

From there, the rest of the season was a formality.

Aug 20

We’re not stupid.

I know it is too much to ask for, but I would like some direction from the Mets’ organization. I know they are under the misguided impression  they have to put on a competitive face to sell tickets in September, but we all know that part of the season has been over since the West Coast trip after the All-Star break.

The Wilpons won’t fire Manuel and Minaya now – they probably will keep Omar because of his contract – because there’s no sense paying two people to do the same job.

But, I would like them to tell us what direction the team is heading. Is it rebuilding, which seems to be obvious or are they delusional like Manuel and think there’s still a season?

The public will come out and support this team next year if they are honest with us. But, if they keep leading us on is when we’ll turn on them and leave Citi Field empty.

They feat they can’t be open because they think they are in competition with the Yankees for the city, but they really aren’t. Yankees fans are Yankees fans and Mets fans are Mets fans. There might be some “baseball” fans who follow both teams, but each team generally has its own fan base.

The Yankees fan base has no doubt the direction of its team. The Mets should feel the the same. We’re not stupid. Tell us you’re rebuilding and be done with it.

We are willing to give the benefit of doubt if you’re honest with us.

Jul 30

Bay goes on DL

Jason Bay was placed on the disabled list and Jesus Feliciano was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo. As the days passed with no improvement in his concussion symptoms it was a no-brainer Bay would go on the DL.

The Mets played this one conservatively from the outset, beginning when Bay complained of headaches on the flight back from the West Coast last Sunday, two days after running into a wall at Dodger Stadium. The Mets took a lot of heat, and justifiably so, for their handling of Ryan Church’s concussion in 2008.