Jun 23

Mets Matters: Daniel Murphy Expected To Start Today

* After sitting last night against Andy Pettitte, Daniel Murphy is expected to start today against the Yankees’ Ivan Nova tonight. Depending how he does will determine if he’ll start tomorrow against CC Sabathia. Murphy has been in a tailspin for weeks, especially against left-handers. For awhile, Terry Collins stuck with him, but the Mets have been getting mileage from their bench. Last night Justin Turner delivered a two-run single off Pettitte in the first.

MURPHY: Should start tonight.

* Speaking of Turner, he’s been adept at delivering with two outs. He’s more than a serviceable player. What I’d like to see from him is to drop the tired act of a whipped cream pie to the face of a player being interviewed. Like the Gatorade bath, it has run its course. The who thing was designed as a way to haze rookies, but to smear RA Dickey after a one-hitter is ridiculous. It’s a Little League stunt.

* National League All-Star manager Tony La Russa said Dickey is in line to start the All-Star Game in Kansas City. One of the interesting things to look forward to at the Game will be the response to Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran, who began his career with the Royals. He was welcomed last night and had good things to say about his career in Kansas City.

* The Mets had some fun with Frank Francisco regarding his Yankees’ “chickens” comments. A lot of it was sophomoric, but it does show a good and tight chemistry in that clubhouse. For a long time it has been a divided room, but that’s not the case this year.

* Chris Young, who is recovering from the same type of shoulder surgery as Johan Santana, will start tonight against Nova. Young has pitched well since returning to the rotation in what was Mike Pelfrey’s spot. If he just keeps giving the Mets five or six innings until he’s fully recovered they should be in good shape.

* Another strong inning for Bobby Parnell last night. He’s been consistent in his bridge role. Not to rush things, because we’ve been here before, but if he continues like this the closer role might eventually become his.

* Word is Jason Bay is making progress in his recovery from another concussion. There’s no need to rush him with the bench playing so well.

* Jon Niese pitched out of trouble in both the first and second innings last night, which was a key to the victory. So many times with the Mets – even after being staked to a lead- we’ve seen Niese and others give it right back to the Yankees.

Jun 22

What Was Frank Francisco Thinking?

What was Frank Francisco thinking when he called the Yankees chickens? Evidently, not too much.

Inciting the opposition makes no sense, and he wasn’t backing down this afternoon.

Francisco called the Yankees chronic complainers – MLB’s Miami Heat? – and laid into them again.

“I made a simple comment because, you know, they complain a lot — for every call, for everything,” Francisco said. “I thought it was funny. But I didn’t expect to make a big deal. Whatever.

“Now I’ve got to apologize to everybody. I mean the whole Yankee team. … No, I’m kidding. … I said what I said, and I’m not sorry. That’s what I think. I think they complain too much for everything. You guys haven’t watched the games? You guys don’t see it? Every game.”

No, it doesn’t make sense to aggravate the opposition, but you have to admire Francisco for not backing down and standing up to his comments.

Jun 22

Yankees Represent Challenge For Lucas Duda and Ike Davis

There are several things I’d like to see happen for the Mets this weekend. If recent history is any indicator, they will be swept by the Yankees. Trading sweeps is not a way to make the kind of progress Terry Collins needs.

We’ve seen it before with the Mets. They’d come into the Yankees’ series on a roll and get dumped on. And, at home, too. That needs to stop, and here’s what we need to see.

* With the Yankees throwing left handers Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda (tight hammy) need to have a good series. Raking would be nice, but don’t get stuffed. It is easy to envision them getting shut down, but their development requires standing in against tough lefties.

* The bullpen bridge to Frank Francisco must produce. And, the sometimes shaky closer needs to show his mettle. Of course, the best thing would be to get quality innings from the starters.

* The RA Dickey success is no fluke, but the Yankees have a way of cutting down hot pitchers a notch. A strong game on national TV Sunday night against Sabathia would be a great way to start a long road trip.

There are other things I’d like to see, but if the Mets produce the above three, it should be a successful weekend.

ON DECK: Interleague play.

Jun 21

Jason Bay Injury Could Benefit Mets

Nobody wants to see a player injured, and despite his lack of production I haven’t heard anybody say a negative thing about Jason Bay.

However, in the wake of his latest concussion, which could keep him out indefinitely, this could turn out to be one of the best things to happen to the Mets.

If Bay was hitting as they hoped, things would be different. However, this is a young team that is winning and developing a chemistry. They’ve stumbled at times, but find themselves over .500 heading into the Yankees’ series.

Having an unproductive Bay in the lineup, just puts a damper on things. And, at his salary they’ll play him and keep somebody more deserving on the bench (Kirk Nieuwenhuis?).

These Mets, with the mediocrity of the National League and wild card) has a chance to compete. And, should they not win, they have shown the mettle to remain competitive.

If Bay can’t earn his keep, then I’m for letting this team develop without him and continue to build.

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.