Sep 02

Manuel’s status ….

MANUEL: Clock ticking toward the inevitable.

Jerry Manuel told The New York Post the other day he’d love to know his job status for next season. There was a chance of his return, maybe even had the Mets not made the playoffs, if they continued to play as they did in June when they reached a high-water mark of 11 games over .500. Had they made a real run an argument could be made for him.

But, the collapse in July, followed by a month of .500 ball – give or take a game – has done him in. August was especially brutal because the Mets played with disinterest, without passion, without spark. There were extenuating circumstances – there always is – but the general apathy the team has been in the past month greatly reflects on the manager.

He has lost his team.

Several things within Manuel’s control have done him in, headed by his handling of the bullpen. He burns out relievers and isn’t always clear in dealing with the players on their job descriptions. Communication is not his strong point, as evidenced when he said Ike Davis had been spoken to regarding his emotional displays at the plate. When asked about this, Davis had no clue.

David Wright did not know when he’d get a day off. Manuel did not discuss with Jeff Francoeur his status following Carlos Beltran’s return.

Manuel threw John Maine under the bus when he said maybe the best day to pitch him would be on off days. He insisted on three catchers in the National League game which is absurd. Manuel’s handling of Jose Reyes’ oblique strain prior to All-Star break was foolish. He insisted on Jenrry Mejia in the bullpen to start the season when it clearly was not in the best long-term interests of the club.

The list goes on and on.

That there is not one Met saying for publication that the fault is on the players and not Manuel is telling. Nobody is in his corner. More than a few Mets stood up for Willie Randolph, while at the time Manuel was telling the brass he’d be interested in the job.

Add it all up, and the Mets are 190-198 under Manuel in his two-and-a-half  years. For the fourth straight year the Mets will not make the playoffs, for the second straight year September will be about showcasing players for the following season.

This time, the Mets will be showcasing players Manuel will never get to manage.

Apr 23

April 23.10: Chat Room, Game #17 vs. Braves: Reyes hitting third.

I am not a second guesser and won’t start tonight. So let me go on record now – and again – before the game to denounce the move of Jose Reyes to the third spot in the order.

It will be the first time since 2005 Reyes will bat anywhere other than leadoff.

I don’t care if Reyes gets on four times tonight, I believe in the long term this move will inevitably backfire because eventually it will force the speedy shortstop outside his game.

Reyes, arguably the game’s premier leadoff hitter, is being asked to take his skills to the third slot under the guise of getting more fastballs for the struggling Jason Bay.

You see, explains Manuel, Bay’s problems stem from not getting enough fastballs, and putting a base stealer ahead of him theoretically will get those fastballs. Just out of curiosity, who was the great base stealer ahead of him in Boston? Was it David Ortiz?

For years, the Mets have been telling anybody who would listen Reyes is their offensive catalyst, that him at the top of the order is what gets the team going. So, naturally, when Reyes is just starting to feel comfortable they move him to a position with the high potential of inducing bad plate habits.

However, Reyes insists he’s not going to do all the things when one plays outside himself after being moved to a run-producing slot in the order. There will be no poor pitch selection, no trying to loft the ball and pull, no trying to hit home runs.

Throughout his career Reyes has fallen into these habits after hitting a home run or two. Willie Randolph used to cringe whenever Reyes homered.

“I’m going to be me,’’ Reyes insists. “I’m going to take it like I’m going to be leadoff. He explained it to me. I said, `I don’t have a problem Jerry.’ ’’

Easier said than done. When thrust into an unfamiliar role it is human nature to want to live up to the dynamics of that role. The No. 3 hitter is supposed to be your best hitter, one with the combination of average and power. It is not a speed position.

For the Mets, that player is a healthy Carlos Beltran, and in his absence, David Wright.

But we’re going to get Reyes, who even under ideal circumstances sometimes swings too long.

It will be very easy to fall into bad habits in this role.

A less dramatic solution would be to move Bay out of the clean-up slot, perhaps to No. 2, or maybe temporarily sixth. Instead of moving the player with the problem, the Mets’ solution is to juggle the entire line-up. Not only will Reyes move, but also Wright, Jeff Francoeur and Angel Pagan.

There are other options, but none would fill the leadoff slot as well as Reyes. So, in essence the Mets are weakening two slots in the batting order with this gamble.

The Mets’ offense hasn’t been doing well, but the team had won three of its last four games. Most of the Mets’ problems when they lose have been pitching related.

If John Maine spits the bit tonight, it probably won’t matter what Reyes and Bay do.

Nobody with the Mets – not just Bay – failed to hit against the Cardinals. So, why didn’t Manuel do this then? Oh yeah, because Reyes said he was uncomfortable in that role.

Here’s tonight’s line-up for the Mets:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
John Maine, RP

Oct 20

The Jacket finds a closet in Milwaukee.

Former Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson – known as The Jacket to readers of this blog – was given a two-year contract by the Milwaukee Brewers, where he becomes part of the staff that includes Willie Randolph.

Evidently, if there was a rift between Peterson and Randolph, there is no more as Willie had to have been asked for a reference.

THE JACKET: Rejoins Willie in Milwaukee.

THE JACKET: Rejoins Willie in Milwaukee.

“When I walked out of the interview, I was so pleasantly surprised and excited,” said Peterson, who has a unique coaching style steeped in biomechanics.

Peterson was axed along with Randolph during the 2008 season. Peterson helped some members of the Mets staff, notably John Maine and Mike Pelfrey to a degree, but is known for the development of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito while with Oakland.

Said Brewers GM Doug Melvin: “Rick brings a number of years of experience as a pitching coach and an extensive background in the study of motion analysis. He is a high-energy individual and a forward thinker with a comprehensive program of motivation and instruction that is in tune with our current pitching philosophy.”

Oct 15

Mets notebook: Reyes under the knife today.

Jose Reyes will have surgery today on his torn right hamstring tendon, scheduling the procedure for today in Dallas. The surgery will be to remove scar tissue on the tendon, and will be performed by Dallas Cowboys team physician Daniel Cooper.

The prognosis is he should return in time for spring training. Reyes will not have surgery on the torn right hamstring muscle. The club is hoping it will heal with rest.


The Mets are close to naming Tim Teufel to the managing job at Double-A Binghamton, according to published reports. The Mets are also close to signing Wally Backman and Mookie Wilson to minor league positions.


The Mets don’t plan on talking with former Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, who spent the last 15 seasons in the Texas organization.

Jaramillo once interviewed for the Mets’ managerial position, but was bypassed for Willie Randolph.

Aug 05

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #107; salvaging the homestand.

Hi guys. Sorry for the late post. I think, if you want to boil down last night’s game, it was the embodiment of all things wrong with the team this season.

Johan Santana, as usual, had a start in which he could have won wasted. The bullpen, especially K-Rod – high expectations gone sour? – let him down. And, let’s not forget about the failure to hit in the clutch.

On a night in which they needed their “A’’ game, the Mets came up with a C at best. Let’s face it, giving up a dozen runs isn’t going to win you many games.

There was a glimmer when Sean Green found it, but he’s lost it again, gone as far as Albert Pujols’ grand slam.

After winning three straight against Colorado to open this home stand, the Mets have hit another skid. Today’s game against the Cardinals is about salvaging the homestand.

This time, the hole indeed might be too deep. West Coast trips are never easy, and we know what happened the last time the Mets were in San Diego. Swept away, they were, and soon after Willie Randolph was gone.

Then there’s Atlanta and Philly looming again. Three weeks from now, they could be 15 games or more behind.

By that time, it might be time to consider shutting down Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran for the remainder of this lost season.