Jun 12

There Are Reasons Behind Mets’ Slide

First things first, sorry for not posting yesterday. As you know, I’ve had surgery and it isn’t healing as I had hoped. I’ve had to shut some things down and yesterday I went back to the doctor. It hasn’t been a good time, and watching the Mets hasn’t made things much easier.

They’ve gone from eight games over and all being right with the world to three games over and the resurfacing of old concerns and worries:

THE BULLPEN: We knew this would be a problem going into the season, and despite its fast start things have digressed as anticipated. It hasn’t helped Jon Rauch’s elbow is ailing. The bullpen was a major cause in losing six of seven games, with an accent on the Yankees’ series. GM Sandy Alderson is contemplating moves from the outside to add depth to the pen. You haven’t heard much about Jenrry Mejia recently, but presumably remains on the table. In regard to the trade route, the Mets don’t want to give up too much, but they must weigh that against the probability their starters will remain effective and their chances with the enhanced wild-card format. Other factors include Washington remaining competitive and Philadelphia improving.

DEFENSE: Let’s face it, it has been spotty all season but lately it has worsened, especially without shortstop Ruben Tejada. Those games against the Yankees seemed like one continuous Luis Castillo flashback. When a team has pitching problems and a spotty offense, it can’t afford many defensive lapses. The Mets are giving up more than they are scoring and that can’t continue. It has already started to catch up to them.

WELCOME BACK JASON BAY: It isn’t as if his return is attributable to their recent problems, but 0-for-11 isn’t exactly inspiring much confidence he’ll add a spark. He certainly hasn’t warranted getting his job back unconditionally. Until Bay proves he can hit and is worth anything close to the $66 million the Mets will pay him, Terry Collins has to seriously think about a platoon system. Then again, Andres Torres might make that decision for him because he’s bringing absolutely nothing to the table.

COLLECTIVE HITTING SLUMP: Do you remember all those two-out runs? Where did they all go? It isn’t just Bay and Torres. David Wright and Daniel Murphy have both cooled. Lucas Duda leads with ten homers, but has provided little else. Ike Davis has provided little of anything and the minor leagues is fast becoming a viable option.

When the Mets were eight games over there was a lot of optimism, and many of the holes were ignored. Perhaps the Mets overachieved the first third of the season and the holes were camouflaged. Well, you can see them now, clearer than ever.

What’s also clear is Tampa Bay’s pitching makes it harder than ever to resolve those issues.

 

 

 

 

 

Jun 10

Mets, Ike Davis Hitting Skids

It wasn’t that long ago that the Mets were seven games over .500 and a mere half-game out of first place. However, things change quickly when a team loses five of six games.

I mentioned several times during the Mets’ good start that consistency was essential. Get to .500; win series, two of three; avoid losing streaks; keep applying pressure and not getting down when tripped up.

After a good stretch that included winning three straight from St. Louis and getting the franchise’s first no-hitter, the Mets let one get away from the Cardinals, were handled by the Nationals, and lost the first two games of their series against the Yankees.

After Yankee Stadium, it’s three at Tampa Bay and back home to Cincinnati. It’s not getting any easier.

I mention this because every season has its lulls and spurts. Too many times in recent seasons we’ve seen the Mets reel off five, six games in a row. Didn’t they do ten one year? However, because of a lack of pitching or timely hitting they’d turn around and drop five or six. It’s like running in place.

The Mets have made positive strides this season, but to take the next step and make a serious run, they must develop consistency,

A good place to start is always pitching, but for the most part the pitching has been good. Right now, one of their first priorities is to get Ike Davis going. Of all the regular position players in the majors, his average is second worst.

So far, the Mets have eschewed the move of maintenance in the minor leagues. That could change after this road trip.

 

Jun 09

Don’t Blame No-Hit Pitch Count For Johan Santana’s Bad Start

There’s a lot of reasons to like Terry Collins, and falling on the sword last night for Johan Santana’s bad outing is another one of them. Collins lamented all week of running up Santana’s pitch count.

SANTANA: Didn't have it.

He did it again after the Yankees shelled Santana last night, saying all those home runs was the result of rust.

“I am responsible for the way he pitched,” Collins said. “He was rusty. The command of his stuff was not as sharp as it’s been the past three or four or five starts. It was my doing tonight. …¬†We erred on the side of caution, and it cost us the game.”

The Mets lost 9-1, so there were a lot of reasons why they lost. It was admirable of Collins to take the blame – other Mets managers failed to do so – but it wasn’t needed.

Collins attributed Santana’s rust to pushing him back two days after the lefty ace’s 134-pitch no-hitter. Collins said he did it out of caution. Remember, this was a $20-million pitcher coming off shoulder surgery. Collins was in a no-win situation last week. He either kept Santana in the game and possibly risk injury or pull him and the no-hitter is gone.

Santana said he could have gone on regular rest, but also said he was on board with Collins’ decision. Santana said last night was just one of those things and there’s no other way to think of it.

Santana had been of a sharp roll, so maybe he was due. Santana’s command was off, but his velocity was there and that’s one way to judge his shoulder was fine.

There’s no telling when a pitcher’s arm will give out. Nolan Ryan’s lasted for over 20 years, then one day something went. It happens, and it happens in a variety of ways.

Right now, Santana is pitching well for the most part and is healthy. He could remain this way for the rest of his career, or next month could run into problems. We’re after the fact now; he’s pitched since the 134-pitch game. If something happens in the future it would be impossible to pin it on the no-hitter.

Just enjoy Santana now for what he’s done, and also be grateful for a guy like Collins, who continually shows he’s the right guy for the job.

 

 

Jun 08

The Great Mets, Yankees And Fan Debate

I was debating what to write about Mets-Yankees this weekend and was coming up dry. I despise interleague play, but you already knew that. It is unfair, and I’ll get into that later.

I thought about writing this weekend being a make-or-break series for the Mets, but the other day I mentioned its importance as part of a longer stretch of games, and didn’t want to run those bases again. Afterall, it is only three games, and unless they were playing the Yankees the last weekend of the season to get into the playoffs, what is the use?

Basically, that last one is of several fundamental flaws of interleague play. I’d rather watch Mets-Padres, Mets-Reds or Mets-Nationals than Mets-Yankees. Afterall, those games somehow matter more when it comes to sorting out who gets into the playoffs.

I recently had surgery so I’m pretty much still confined to the house, and with daytime TV being one of the Eight Miserable Wonders of the World (however, I would like to see a re-run of the Odd Couple, Get Smart or WKRP in Cincinnati) I thought I’d scan the Internet.

Went on the ESPN site and started to read this article on whether who has it better, Mets or Yankees fans? Lame with no real answer. OK, if the criteria was World Series titles or Hall of Famers, it is no contest. There is none because the Mets have been around half as long as the Yankees.

Then again, what does a team’s success or failures have anything to do with its fans? It’s not like two neighbors deciding to join different country clubs, with one clearly having the better pool.

Everybody has their reasons why they cheer one team over another. When you start pulling for a team when you’re eight years old, I doubt history has much to do with it. There’s logistics, growing up in the same area as your team. Maybe it was a player you started to follow. It could be anything. Perhaps your father liked that team, so you did the same.

Then again, if your dad followed the Yankees, maybe you cheered for the Red Sox. Of course, those could be deeper issues.

There aren’t any stedfast rules to cheering, but here’s one that seems pretty safe: You can’t cheer for both the Yankees and Mets. I don’t put much stock into cheering for both because you cheer for New York. Much like you can’t pull for the Celtics and Lakers, or the Steelers and Ravens. It doesn’t seem right.

A Mets fan is a Mets fans for a myriad of reasons and you have your own reasons why you cheer for them. Same thing for being a Yankees fans. There are Yankees fans of all ages, and yes those of you started following them from 1995 on could get points off for being front runners. You do get bonus points if you saw Horace Clark played.

If you are a Mets fan, you know disappointment, but that doesn’t always translate to being a “deeper,” or “greater” fan. I never bought into the saying as being a “diehard,” or “long-suffering,” Mets fan. If you’re a true fan, you don’t die with your team because die denotes permanence.

True fans are those who hung around with the Celtics being blown out last night and chanting “Let’s go Celtics.” If was an inspiring moment. And, long-suffering doesn’t cut it, either, because while there’s disappointment, if you really suffered, you wouldn’t be a fan of that team in the first place.

Only a masochist would choose to suffer.

I don’t know how this season, or this weekend for that matter, will turn out. But, a third of the way through this summer being a fan of the Mets has been rewarding and fun.

And, I’m happy for you.

 

 

 

 

Jun 07

R.A. Dickey Shows Mettle Again; Warrants Extension

The Mets entered today’s game having lost three straight and on the verge of being swept in Washington then heading to the play the Yankees and Tampa Bay.

Who didn’t think they were heading for a slide?

Evidently, not R.A. Dickey,

Dickey became the majors’ first nine-game winner this afternoon in beating the Nationals, and in the process extended his career-high scoreless streak to 24.2 innings.

Dickey received home-run support from Lucas Duda, who is becoming the power hitter the organization hoped and the Mets salvaged the series with a 3-1 victory.

Dickey might have done more than just salvaged a series, he might have put the brakes on something that could have been bad. Dickey said he’d like to remain with the Mets and would welcome an extension.

He underscored that desire today.