Monday, June 30, 2008

Maine And Mets Drop Game - Lose 7-1...

Well, the Mets, as usual, can't put anything together, and lose the first game of the series, tonight, against a starter they usually have luck against. John Maine went 4 innings, and looked horrible. He walked the first batter of the game, and never looked good. He gave up runs in every inning. Kyle Lohse looked like the 10-2 starter he has been this year, just giving up an unearned run. Mets couldn't get the clutch hit, and looked flat. Castillo blew an easy ground ball, for an error, that led to a run. The year just keeps clicking by, and the Mets just flounder....

Mets And Cardinals Game 1 - What To Expect...

The Mets play a Cardinals team that has many injuries, but are still winning. Adam Wainwright is on the DL . I’m sure Carlos Beltran is happy about that. Albert Pujols has been playing the D.H. role, but now, with Inter-league play over, we might not see him every game this series. Jason Isinghausen was on the DL, but is back, but not in the closer role, these days. The Cardinals will have Kyle Lohse pitching in Game 1, which I’m sure brings happiness to some of the Mets, since they seem to do well against him . There are 4 mets that are hitting at least .500 against him, and Carlos Beltran, who needs to be rested, but hopefully not tonight, has 4 home runs against him.

Tony Armas Jr. For Tuesday Night...

Looks like the Mets will be bringing up Tony Armas Jr. for the Tuesday night game, against the Cardinals. If that is the case, the Mets will have to make a roster move.

Can Seat Licenses Be Far Away For The Mets At Citifield ?

Late last week, N.Y. Giants' season ticket holders received letters of notification, that when the new stadium is opened, that to keep their seat packages, they will have to pay a seat license fee. From what I heard, the prices for seats in the upper deck, might be only $500-$1,000 that would have to be paid. Some season ticket holders are balking about it, but they had to know it was coming. The Jets have mentioned it too, but they have been non-committal. Well, I’m sure the Wilpons are going to watch this, and gauge some reaction to this, because you know damn well, they might be looking at doing this, at Citi Field. I think the one thing the Mets fan can count on, is the fact that the Wilpons probably won’t be the leaders in bringing this to baseball. They will wait until some other team tries it first, (The Yankees ?), and say that it's the going trend. With prices of tickets going up probably 25-50% next year, for Citi Field, it already is pricing out the fans who wants to bring their families. Citi Field has 35,000 less seats than the new Giants Stadium. With that, I’m sure the seat licenses will not be cheap. There might be a day, when no one will be able to go to a game, and pay less then $75.00 to a $100.00 for one ticket in the upper deck. That, my friends, will be a shame.

Mets Are #2...

According to Jerry Manuel, the Mets are number 2 in this town. He said the Yankees, who have a storied history, are the number one team in NY. Although these comments might perturb his bosses, I believe Manuel is verbally throwing down the gauntlet to his players. Win championships, and you will be #1.

Manuel had a humorous comment saying he will leave his uniform on when he talks to Omar Minaya, being that Minaya said he would never fire a manager in uniform. For more on this, read today's Newsday.

Tipping Pitches ?

Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez sat down to watch video of Pedro pitching. Beltran believes he detected where Pedro might be tipping his pitches. Read about it in the Hartford Courant.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Who Needs A Day Off, Now ? Carlos Beltran...

He struck out 4 times on Saturday, and took another collar on Sunday, against the Yankees, so I think, with Ryan Church back, and Carlos Delgado at least hitting home runs, I think we need to see Carlos Beltran sit on the bench for a day. His fielding won't be missed too much, with Endy Chavez playing center field, and he has raised his average to over .240, so you never know. We can win a game without Beltran, and hopefully a day off will have the same affect on him, that it did for David Wright, when he had his day off, earlier this week.

Ryan Church Is Back, And Feels Fine...

That's the word, with the Mets leaving Shea Stadium, on their way to St. Louis, to start a series with the Wild Card leading Cardinals. Ryan went 2-4 and didn't feel any lingering effects after the game, in regard to his concussion, that left him on the sidelines the last 2 weeks. Hopefully, the flight to St. Louis will be painless for him, and he will continue hitting, like he did on Sunday.

Phillies Lose, Mets Win, Gain In Standings…

The Phillies lost, and having lost 8 of their last 10, have kept Florida, the Mets, and Atlanta, close to them in the NL East standings.

Florida won, but, has also struggled, losing 6 of their last 10. Florida is 1 game behind Philly, and in 2nd place.

The Mets have passed Atlanta again, and are back in 3rd place, with today’s 3-1 win, and are now 3 games behind Philly, 2 behind Florida.

Atlanta has lost its last two, dropping to 4th place, and is now 4 games behind Philly.

Mets Alter Rotation For Phillies’ Series…

Marty Noble, of, reports that after Oliver Perez handled the Yankees' predominantly right-handed batting order on Sunday, Mets manager Jerry Manuel noted Perez's next opponent will be against the Phillies, who are fueled by the left-handed power of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. The turn of the Mets' rotation had Perez starting the first game of the series on Friday night.

But the next time Perez pitches, it'll probably be in a relief role. Pitching coach Dan Warthen has altered the sequence of the Mets' rotation and separated his two left-handed starters, Perez and Johan Santana, by inserting John Maine after Santana and before Perez.

(I like this move, and wondered why the Mets had their only two lefty starters, Santana and Perez, pitching back-to-back, in the first place.)

Now Perez is to pitch in relief on Wednesday or Thursday in St. Louis and not start again until Sunday in Philadelphia.

(It should be interesting to see how Perez pitches in relief.)

In that way, the Mets' rotation for the four-game Phillies series will be Santana, Maine, Perez and Pedro Martinez.

Perez Pitches Beautifully In Mets’ 3-1 Win…

Marty Noble, of, reports that the Mets' hope for a renaissance in the second half of their season was renewed on Sunday by a most dominating performance by Oliver Perez in the final game of the first half. Their hope, flickering even with the change of managers, became a full-fledged flame again when Perez put the Yankees' batting order in a straightjacket for seven innings and made himself the focal point of a rousing victory that enabled them to prevail in the season series against their intra-city, Inter-league opponents.

All that was well and good. But as effective as Perez was in the 3-1 victory, he didn't answer the question that came to the minds of all who hope that the Mets' chances for glory this season can still have a heartbeat -- "Can he do it again?"

His pitching coach answered it, though, and in the affirmative. Dan Warthen said yes -- Perez can duplicate the splendid pitching he provided on Sunday.

"I expect him to," Warthen said.

(Perez is feast or famine. Usually, he pitches well in big games, vs. better teams, then, loses focus and pitches poorly against lesser teams.)

This wasn't some party line. If anything, it sounded off the mark. Perez has been the poster boy for pitching inconsistency throughout his tour with the Mets. Absolutely pendulum-ic. But after Warthen watched Perez limit the Yankees to one run on three hits and -- drum roll -- no walks, he was convinced that his new student had found comfort and confidence on the mound.

In his second week as the pitching coach, Warthen had allowed Perez to change his position on the rubber -- he moved from the third-base end to the middle -- and he also had adjusted Perez's delivery, so he would use his legs more and move from the rubber to the plate with greater force.

(Hopefully, these changes improve consistency and results.)

The result was rediscovered velocity -- Perez hit 94 mph with some consistency -- greater control, enhanced command, his second victory against the Yankees this season and his sixth victory in 17 starts overall.

Warthen came away convinced that Perez now is more capable of repeating his effort because of the changes. And that being the case, the coach said, it is more likely Perez can achieve the same level of performance, as well.

"Boy, that'd be great if he could," catcher Brian Schneider said. "If we get him going, it'd make huge difference. I hope that happens."

(This first start, since the changes, was great. We’ll see what happens, going forward.)

Schneider plans to give signals with his fingers crossed the next time Perez pitches.

Perez, too, seemed quite impressed by the effect of the changes. With nary a mention of Warthen's predecessor, Rick Peterson, he said: "Sometimes, I would have no fun. Today, I was more relaxed and enjoyed the game. Sometimes, I [didn't] enjoy the game. I was excited to be the real me [Sunday]." He indicated he had tried to "be a different pitcher. ... Sometimes I [was] trying to be too fine, and sometimes I am like today. This is the real Ollie."

(This disturbs me. He’s not there to have “fun,” even though they play a game, this is his job.)

The Mets only can hope what they saw was real, and that it remains.

Facing the Yankees' predominantly right-handed-hitting batting order -- no Jason Giambi, Robinson Cano or Bobby Abreu -- Perez raised his record to 6-5 and helped the Mets move back to within one game of a .500 winning percentage at the midpoint of the season. His career record against the Yankees now is 5-1 in six starts. He has won each of his four starts against them since joining the Mets.

Moreover, his victory was the Mets' fourth in six intra-borough games this season. The only other time they prevailed in the season series against the Yankees was in 2004, when they swept the three games at Shea Stadium. The Mets finished their Inter-league schedule with a 9-6 record and put their all-time Inter-league record at 100-96.

Limited to two runs in 18 innings in the two weekend games that followed their 15-6 thrashing of the Yankees on Friday afternoon, the Mets scored in the second and third innings against losing pitcher Darrell Rasner (4-6). Luis Castillo drove in the first run with a bases-loaded infield single, and Carlos Delgado hit his 14th home run of the season in the third for the second run. He hit three in the four weekend games against the Yankees.

The third run scored against Yankees reliever David Robertson, who was making his big league debut, came in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by David Wright, which put his team-high RBI total at 64. Wright has 15 RBIs in his most recent 14 games. The Mets had 12 hits, two by Ryan Church in his first game back after an extended time on the disabled list.

Perez found peril only twice in his second seven-inning workday in his past eight starts. He didn't allow a run until Wilson Betemit crushed a home run to left field with two outs in the seventh inning. The previous instance came in the fourth, with the Mets leading, 2-0. He had retired his first 10 batters, six by strikeout, when Derek Jeter singled sharply. The first pitch to Alex Rodriguez was wild and moved Jeter to second.

Perez fell behind, 3-1, before A-Rod hit a monstrous foul ball. After three more fouls, Rodriguez became the seventh of Perez's eight strikeouts.

"That's one of those confrontations you love to watch," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "It's kind of why you play the Subway Series, for memories of things like that."

(That was beautiful to watch. So were Perez’ eight strikeouts.)

But in the clubhouse afterward, the Yankees hardly were a topic. The first eight games of the Mets' second half are in St. Louis and Philadelphia, and they're against the teams they must catch if they are to win the National League Wild Card or the NL East crown. The Mets hardly have distinguished themselves since Manuel replaced Willie Randolph -- their record is 6-6 since then.

And as uplifted as the Mets were by Perez's performance and by winning, they weren't identifying anything that happened on Sunday as an impetus for some surge.

"We've had a lot of games that we thought could [be one]," Wright said last week.

They've stopped looking for a reversal, aware it would be more beneficial to produce one.

"But this would be a good time for one," Manuel said.

(It all comes down to consistency. Will the Mets, and Perez, find any this season ?)

Church Thrilled To Be Back…

Jon Blau, of, reports that Ryan Church was in full stride as he stuck his glove out for a line drive off Derek Jeter's bat. Going all out for the ball, Church couldn't get an inch off the ground, and it slipped toward the wall as the Yankees shortstop calmly strutted into second base with a double.

While it might seem like this near snag was held back by the aching legs of a returnee just off the disabled list, Church would gladly state that this play was in no way connected with that. Neither were the two hits, both singles, in the series finale against the Mets' cross town foe.

In fact, Church couldn't stop chirping about taking four out of six games from the Yankees this season after the Mets topped the Bombers, 3-1, in the Subway Series finale on Sunday. And, boy, would he have liked to have been out there on the field since Friday. Unlike many of the Mets, who were happy to be done with the series, Church couldn't help but be refreshed by being a part of it.

The right fielder wants no part of concussion discussions anymore -- no more headaches, no more dizziness and no more waiting for a doctor's prognosis.

It's all about baseball now, and with simple phrasing, Church released everything else out of sight.

"It's finished; it's over," Church said. "I'm back."

(I hope so. He needs to feel healthy, mentally and physically.)

With all that has transpired inside Church's head these past few weeks, those two syllables -- "I'm back" -- meant so much. As far as he's concerned, Church wants to be the Mets' everyday starting right fielder, and he hasn't heard anything to the contrary.

As long as his post-concussion-syndrome symptoms don't strike once more, nothing should change. Before Sunday's game, manager Jerry Manuel said Church might have to play through any rust, as the Mets may have no rest time to spare in upcoming series against the Cardinals and the Phillies. And Church is more than welcoming a routine that involves more attention to his hitting than his head.

"We don't know what their game plan is," Church said, concerning how many off-days he could see in future weeks. "I want to play."

But everything rests on his health, which has been far from predictable. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 9, because the Mets thought Church was all healed prior to that move -- the right fielder telling them as much, as well -- only to have the symptoms reappear.

This time, though, Church said it's different. The Mets' training staff kept an eye on him on Sunday, and Church was proud to report after the game that not even the slightest headache popped into his head while he was running the base paths or after he ran down a fly ball. That's encouraging for Manuel, who missed that .304 average in the lineup.

"Hopefully, he's off and running," Manuel said, not even knowing how much Church would love to keep on chugging.

"I kept my fluids in me, and I felt good all day," said Church, who couldn't stop smiling. "My legs don't hurt."

(Manuel has said he may play Church as if it was spring training, giving him time to get into shape. He may be rested frequently over the next few weeks, until he proves he can handle, mentally and physically, playing every day.)

Ryan Church Activated, Trot Nixon To 15-Day DL…

Jon Blau, of, reports that conveniently, on the same day a roster spot needed to be cleared for right fielder Ryan Church, preferably another outfielder to keep the numbers intact, Trot Nixon was sent to the 15-day disabled list on Sunday with a left groin strain.

Nixon, always known as a gritty player, has been playing with the injury in recent contests, according to Mets manager Jerry Manuel.

"He played as hard as he could, battled as hard as he could," Manuel said. "It limited him somewhat, but he would never mention that it did. He just wanted to play, so hopefully this will give him a chance to heal and rest up a bit."

(Nixon’s stats showed ineffectiveness. Now, we know that he was playing with an injury. I would like to see Nixon heal, and see what he’s capable of, if healthy.)

Acquired from the Diamondbacks for cash considerations on June 13, Nixon went 6-for-35 with one RBI in 11 games with the Mets. He had been playing with the D-backs' Triple-A affiliate in Tucson, Ariz., before he made his way up to New York.

One player's nuisance is another's roster spot, as Church returned to the lineup against the Yankees in the Subway Series finale on Sunday. Church was placed on the DL with post-concussion syndrome on June 9 retroactive to when he was pulled from the lineup against the Padres on June 6.

The date that Church would actually see the field again wasn't as precise as any date on the calendar, though. He first sustained the injury on May 20 against the Braves -- his second concussion of the season -- but Church would return to make pinch-hit appearances in Atlanta and Colorado only a couple of days later. One at-bat on May 26 would be his last of that month, as he would return for four games in early June.

Batting .300 before Sunday's return, Church has admitted that he tried to play through some symptoms before hitting the disabled list for a much-needed rest. Now the challenge will be getting Church back into baseball shape.

Before returning to the No. 6 spot in the batting order on Sunday, Church made two rehab starts with Class A Brooklyn, going 3-for-6 in two starts -- one as a designated hitter and the other in the field. But if Manuel can't find an off-day for Church in the coming weeks, the right fielder will just have to play himself back into shape.

"You have to play baseball -- that's one thing," Manuel said. "You can run around the track, lift all of the weights, but with baseball, you have to play."

(If healthy, Church could be a tremendous help. His defense was solid, and was a huge bat in the lineup, leading the Mets in slugging percentage.)

Tony Armas To Pitch On Tuesday ?

Jon Blau, of, writes about the Mets needing a starter for Tuesday.

The doubleheader on Friday created a need for a sixth starter on Tuesday in St. Louis. The most likely candidate is Tony Armas, who has a 5-6 record a 2.50 ERA in 16 starts with the Mets' Triple-A New Orleans affiliate.

(Interesting...this will create another roster move. Would Carlos Muniz be sent back to AAA to make room for Armas ? Then, after the game, is Armas kept on the Mets' roster, in the long relief role, that Claudio Vargas had, until he was designated for assignment ?)

Moises Alou Soon To Return ?

Jon Blau, of, writes that Alou may soon return.

Mets' manager Jerry Manuel said, on Saturday, that the disabled Moises Alou could return to active duty, in time to play in the Mets' series, in Philadelphia, on July 4-7.

Manuel said Alou probably will play in a Minor League game on Monday.

"Knowing Moises," Manuel said, "if he does that, he'll want to play in a big league game Tuesday. ... We'll see."

(Until Alou is in a Met uniform, and playing, everyone should be skeptical about his ability to recover from injury, and get back onto the field. Then, once he's on the field, keeping him healthy is another issue.)

Oliver Perez In Big Games…

Jon Blau, of, writes about Perez rising to the occasion in big games.

It's a big game for Oliver Perez.

Why would this start be bigger than any other game, you ask?

Not because it's the Yankees -- just because manager Jerry Manuel said so.

"You know, Oliver has been a big-game guy, and if he can go out and give us that [Sunday], we'll find a way to make every game a big game for him," Manuel joked. "We'll tell you, 'This is a big game for you. It isn't for me, but it will be for you today.'"

(Perez, like the Mets, has been maddeningly inconsistent, frequently playing great against better competition, then, lacking production vs. lesser teams)

If Manuel had to choose whether to utilize Perez vs. the Mets' cross town rival or the Major League's worst team, he would probably take more comfort in the first option right now. In games vs. above-.500 teams, Perez has a 3.81 ERA. Against teams with a losing record, he has complied an 8.07 ERA.

(This just shows a lack of concentration. He probably gets more excited, and better prepared, against expected tougher competition.)

After allowing five earned runs in five innings against the last-place Mariners on Tuesday, there was some worry as to whether Perez's spot in the rotation posed more negatives than positives. His ERA has consistently bloated from month to month, as Perez had a 4.03 mark at the end of April, followed by a 5.58 ERA in May, which was then toppled by a 6.46 ERA thus far in five June starts.

(This is a disturbing trend.)

But Manuel has been able to make light of the big-game phenomenon leading up to Perez's Sunday start. Really, he's already called the Subway Series a "playoff-type atmosphere," but Manuel would absolutely like to trick Perez into thinking this is the World Series, if possible.

Some of the lefty's best starts have been under pressure. Perez held the then-Major League leaders in batting average, the Rangers, to one run on June 13. On May 18 in Yankee Stadium, he permitted only two runs during a season-high 7 2/3 innings.

There's no doubt that Perez has potential. He's 26 years old, and he can cook up a mid-90s fastball along with biting, yet unpredictable, breaking pitches. The only question: Will this package of pure stuff manifest itself into a consistent starting pitcher?

"We sometimes get carried away with -- to a fault -- potential," Manuel said. "He has tremendous potential, and our job is to harness that potential, channel it and put it in the right direction, and hopefully get some consistency out of it. He will continue -- whether it's us or somebody else -- he will continue to get an opportunity simply because he has that type of potential."

(Hopefully other teams see this potential, and offer prospects to the Mets for Perez. I highly doubt he'll re-sign with the Mets as a free agent, after this season. Hopefully, the Mets can trade him for a package of prospects that's worth trading him before the deadline, and not keeping him all year, and receiving draft picks, instead, if he leaves as a free agent.)

Balk Exemptions...Andy Pettitte

Yesterday's pick-off by Andy "The Perpetual Balker" Pettitte of Jose Reyes sent me through the roof. That movement towards home, then the stutter step before releasing the ball to Jeter at 2B was a balk. Here is an excerpt from Rule 8.05 of the Official Rules of MLB. In part, it states:

Rule 8.05(a) Comment: If a lefthanded or righthanded pitcher swings his free foot past the back edge of the pitcher’s rubber, he is required to pitch to the batter except to throw to second base on a pick-off-play. (b) The pitcher, while touching his plate, feints a throw to first base and fails to complete the throw;(c) The pitcher, while touching his plate, fails to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base;Rule 8.05(c) Comment: Requires the pitcher, while touching his plate, to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base. If a pitcher turns or spins off of his free foot without actually stepping or if he turns his body and throws before stepping, it is a balk.

This is exactly what Pettitte did. For the complete rule please go to Balk Rule.

Another infraction by Pettitte, and most left handers, is they are supposed to make a complete break from the rubber before throwing to first base. In part it reads:

(3) disengage the rubber (if he does he must drop his hand to his sides).In disengaging the rubber the pitcher must step off with his pivot foot and not his free foot first.He may not go into a set or stretch position—if he does it is a balk.

Until Major League Baseball amends the rule or provides a codicil, stating that it is against the best interest of baseball to make a call against the NY Yankees, or call a balk against Andy Pettitte, he, Pettitte, should be made to follow the same rules as any right hander, or anyone not named Pettitte. Ironically, Santana was penalized for a balk shortly after this non call.

Not Santana's Fault, Remember A Guy Named Tom Seaver ?

If you're old enough to remember the 1970's, you will remember a guy named Tom Seaver. He was the franchise back then, and he didn't get run support, either . Johan is falling on some hard luck, but, he isn't the first NY Met Pitcher to have this fall on him. Tom Terrific, as they called him, played for the Mets, the first go around, on some pretty lousy teams in the 70's but always seemed to have good years on a bad team. This, if course, wasn't always the case, if you go back to 1974. 1974 was the year after the Mets made it to game 7 of the World Series. 1974 was a bad year for the Mets. They finished 20 games under .500 and what did Tom do? He finished probably his worst year, at the time, finishing 11-11. He pitched .500 for a team that was 20 games under. Well his ERA that year was 3.20. Pretty good for a team that wasn't playing for anything, since they were 10 games under, by 60 games into the season. Johan isn't the problem; 7-7 isn't bad for a .500 team. If the Mets don't score runs for him, it's hard to win. He keeps us in the game. The team just need to score more for him. ...

Are The Mets Good Enough To Benefit From Santana’s Presence ?

Mike Bauman, of, says the question is not whether Johan Santana is good enough to merit the largest pitching contract in history. The question is whether the New York Mets are going to be good enough to fully benefit from Santana's presence.

In a real-world sense, nobody deserves $137.5 million over six years unless he or she is discovering a cure for cancer.

(This is a real good point, which puts everything into perspective. All athletes are overpaid, so when people start calling WFAN, screaming that Santana’s salary should provide better than a 7-7 record, think first. Every pitcher needs run support, Santana’s stats lead Met pitchers in virtually every category, and Santana is performing a lot better than his teammates. He can’t strike out 27. He needs the defensive support of his teammates. He can’t hit 1 through 9 in the lineup. This Met offense has frequently been brutal.)

But in a baseball sense, this is what the market allows Santana to make, and it is not his fault for being able to make it.

Is it money well spent for the Mets? It is impossible to know that three months into a six-year deal. But this much is certain: Nobody would spend that kind of money for a pitcher to perform on a .500 team. The Mets obviously expected much more of themselves this season, but at the moment, with the mathematical midpoint of the season one game away, they are 39-41.

(The Mets are in a catch-22. They should be sellers, get rid of spare parts, and acquire whatever level prospects they can, to invigorate a woefully inadequate farm system. However, with Citi Field opening next year, they are desperate to be perceived as playoff competitive, and are terrified to admit they may be sellers, even if it is the common-sense thing to do. If they get rid of the proper players, and acquire the proper prospects, they can rebuild quickly. All they need to do is look around baseball. There are many teams, the Rays, Diamondbacks, Marlins, among others, who have rebuilt successfully by getting younger, and giving prospects the opportunity to play.)

The problems with the Mets-Santana marriage were on display on Saturday for Game 5 of the 2008 Subway Series at Shea Stadium. Santana -- and this has been a repeating theme -- pitched well enough to win, but the Mets could not support him properly. The result was a 3-2 loss for the left-hander and the team to the Yankees.

(He showed frustration two starts ago when the team’s defense was inadequate. Yesterday, and in other starts, the lack of offense hurt him. The current cast of characters is not working, and not having prospects to trade, leads to “scrap heap” pickups of Trot Nixon & Andy Phillips. It’s time to trade spare parts for prospects, and rebuild for 2009. It’s more entertaining to see kids on the upside, rather than veterans on the downside.)

Andy Pettitte, on the Yankees' side of the pitching equation, deserved plenty of credit for pitching superbly in the 210th victory of his career. But the truth is that Santana's job was significantly more difficult than Pettitte's, the Yankees' lineup being significantly better than that of the Mets.

(Great point, as the Yankees’ lineup does a great job of being patient, running up the opposing pitchers’ pitch counts, and getting them out of games sooner than expected. The Yankee lineup also has more depth in quality hitters.)

There is no question that Santana has been more good than great this season. True, his 3.01 ERA deserves a better record than his current 7-7. But there had been a theory that, after being a dominant pitcher with the Minnesota Twins and winning the American League Cy Young Award in 2004 and '06, Santana would be even more dominant against the less robust offenses of the National League. That hasn't happened.

But it's all relative. He's a much better buy than the pitcher with the second-biggest contract of all time -- Barry Zito, who is 3-11, with a 5.91 ERA for the Giants this season.

(Imagine if the Mets signed Zito, heavily publicized to be reuniting with Rick Peterson, for two years, before he filed for free agency ? In the words of Joe Beningo, “what a disaster !”)

But if Santana has not been quite everything he was advertised to be, he has still been all right. He is not the problem.

(Bingo ! Best point in the whole article. Maine’s been solid. If Pelfrey pitched all season, the way he’s pitched since May 31st, if El Duque was healthy, if Pedro was healthy, or effective, Nelson Figueroa ? Claudio Vargas ? the bullpen ? Alou ? Church ? Matt Wise ? Valentin ? Too many injuries to remember. The lineup. Starting bench players 3-5 days per week. If everyone performed like Santana, this would be a first place team.)

One thing that is a problem is a Mets offense that ranks ninth in the NL in runs scored. Maybe the return of outfielder Ryan Church on Sunday will be something like a cure-all.

Another issue would be the extraordinarily bad play, such as the one that occurred in the fifth inning on Saturday. Trailing, 2-1, the Mets had runners on first and second with two outs and David Wright at the plate when Jose Reyes was picked off second by Pettitte. It was an inexcusable lapse by Reyes, but unfortunately for the Mets, not a completely atypical gaffe.

If you're going to get picked off in that situation, even the presence of Santana in your rotation can't help you. In fact, if you're going to get picked off second base in that situation, Santana becomes a luxury item you can't fully utilize.

Santana has not won in his past five starts, with four losses and a no-decision, but he has pitched more than well enough to win at least four of those games, giving up nine earned runs in 32 innings. Over those five games, the Mets have only scored 10 runs.

(An ERA of 2.53, with zero wins. This is not Santana’s fault.)

"He has been able to go out and give us the opportunity to win ballgames," said center fielder Carlos Beltran. "We haven't been able to get anything going for him. It's a bad feeling."

Asked about the Mets' struggles to score runs while he is pitching, Santana responded: "I don't know, man. I'm trying to do my best to give us a chance to win every time I go out there. I'm battling. At least I know that I'm giving my best."

Santana worked six innings on Saturday, allowing three runs on four hits, striking out eight and walking an uncharacteristic four. Two of the walks were points of contention between the Mets and the strike zone of home-plate umpire Mike Everitt.

Santana cruised through the first three innings, giving up just one single and striking out five. But walks to Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu beginning the fourth led to two runs and a lead the Yankees would never relinquish.

"We thought the pitch was thrown the way it was supposed to be thrown, and we didn't get the call," Santana said.

None of that would have been a problem had the Mets found sufficient run support for Santana. It's a problem that extends beyond his starts.

"We've got to find a way to score some runs," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "I mean, it's been somewhat of a struggle. We're better than what we're showing. We will score some runs at some point."

(Maybe after July 31st, if Minaya can trade some of the over-the-hill and hanging on for the paycheck, parts of his 25-man roster.)

Manuel expressed satisfaction with Santana's work, as well as confidence that the victories would come for his prized left-hander.

"I thought Johan had some of the best stuff this time around," Manuel said. "He seems to be getting better, so I'm very happy with that.

"I think it will turn around for him, I really do. I think at some point he might not pitch as well and win five straight games. I believe that's just the way baseball is. I really anticipate him at some point going on a real nice streak as far as winning games.

"I don't know if he can pitch any better than he's pitched. The stress and the pressure of us not scoring runs put a lot of stress on every pitch. You feel like you can't make a mistake. That's quite a demand over the course of 100-plus pitches.

"He's doing the things to keep us in games, and we're just not doing the job offensively. That's it, point-blank."

(That’s it in a nut shell, folks !!!)

And that is the current status of the Mets' $137.5-million pitching expenditure. Santana has not been untouchable this season, but he has generally held up his end of the deal. The Mets, on the other hand, are not producing enough support for the presence of this ace to make a real difference.

The gap here is not between the expectations for Santana's performance and his actual work. The gap is between the expectations for this team and the current 39-41 record.

(The expectations have been out of touch with reality, since the start of the season. This was a team that’s played .500 ball and worse, since June 1st of last year. Stop misleading the fans, by saying we’re in buyer’s mode, and pushing for a playoff spot. They should be sellers, getting rid of declining players, and rebuilding a barren farm system.)

Picked Off…

Jon Blau, of, writes about Jose Reyes' aggressiveness not paying off.

As Reyes took one, two, three steps off the second-base bag in Saturday's fifth inning, eventually living dangerously with a fourth or fifth stride, the Mets' shortstop just stared down Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte.

All Reyes had on his mind: 1.6 seconds to the plate.

With the aggressiveness of a true base stealer, Reyes was confident that he could have swiped third base before Pettitte released his pitch. Even if the situation seemed risky -- two outs, with the winning run sitting on first and David Wright batting -- Reyes said he had to take that lead.

"Even if I don't get a good jump," Reyes said after the game, "I am still going to make it."

Just when Reyes had his eyes on third, about to take off and help Damion Easley advance to second, Pettitte turned toward the bag with an inside move. Reyes' dive back toward the base proved a twitch too late. He got caught.

(When is someone going to call a balk on Pettitte ? Watch the replay.)

The inning was over, Easley was left on base and, once again, the struggling Mets' offense let slip away a tailor-made scoring opportunity in a 3-2 loss to the Yankees.

"He got me there," Reyes said, more complimentary of Pettitte's pickoff than being critical of his own reckless base running prowess. "Nothing I can do about it."

Mets manager Jerry Manuel saw Reyes leaning toward third base on that play, and it's not the thought that bothers him. It was just another minute detail that a Met overlooked in his thirst to break free from losing, as Reyes didn't anticipate the pickoff attempt.

As Manuel said before, they'll get there. Eventually, Manuel is confident that the Mets will get to a place where these mistakes don't occur. He said they will stop swinging at bad pitches and stop forcing it on the base paths, yet they will still try to maintain their aggressiveness on offense.

Manuel said he gave the 25-year-old a quick tutorial after that key out.

"He has to be a little more careful," Manuel said. "We discussed that. I don't want to stop his aggressiveness, but at the same time, I want him to play smart. He's got to be somewhat cognizant of the inside move at that point. And he's a guy that's going to draw a lot of attention, and those are things he has to be aware of."

The last road trip to Colorado, Reyes also got picked off, but Manuel joked that the pitcher that day was picking everyone off, including the coaches. Regardless, Reyes still thinks he was just doing his job as a base stealer on this most recent caught-in-the-act moment.

It was just an inopportune time not to succeed.

"I am a base stealer, so that happens a lot," Reyes said. "It's part of the game. Hopefully, it doesn't happen again."

(It was horrible timing. David Wright had to be given the opportunity to swing the bat.)

Mets Lose 3-2...

This was a frustrating loss. Jose Reyes was picked off second base, with David Wright at the plate, at a really bad time.

However, Jerry Manuel, in the post game, said that Reyes & Easley (on first) were going to attempt a double steal, and that he wants his base runners to not lose their aggressiveness, but, they need to be making more intelligent decisions.

Pettitte's pickoff move, is among baseball's best, because it looks like a balk, more often than not. It looked like a balk on that play.

Adding to the frustration was Johan Santana being called for a balk, when Pettitte was not.

The Mets need to score runs with Johan on the mound. They scored one run, while he was in the game. He took the loss, and is now 7-7. With adequate run support, he should be at least 10-4, which may be the difference between making the all-star team, or not, for those who are naive, and don't analyze his numbers.

Johan was frustrated, two starts ago, when a David Wright error, and overall sloppy team defense hurt him. This guy is their ace, and other than the 7-7, which is more of a team stat, for a below .500 team, his individual stats are solid, and his 7-7 should be a lot better.

This was a frustrating loss.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mets Trailing 3-1, In Second Rain Delay...

Saturday's game on FOX (what's worse, the pre-game announcers, or, McCarver & Buck ?) was delayed at the start by rain, then, they've been able to complete 5 innings, and start the top of the sixth. Unfortunately, they've played enough, for this to be an official game.

The Mets trail 3-1, in the top of the sixth. Ramon Castro homered for the Mets run.

Are McCarver & Buck insufferable to listen to ? Seriously ? Ken Rosenthal's updates are the only audio I can tolerate on FOX broadcasts.

What's worse ? McCarver & Buck on FOX, or Morgan & Miller on ESPN ? I miss Gary, Keith & Ron.

When is an umpire going to call Andy Pettitte's pickoff move a balk ?

Johan gets called for a balk, and not Pettitte ?

Johan's been feeling squeezed by the home plate umpire, and has been vocal about it.

Jerry Manuel went out to the mound, earlier, and very slyly, stayed out there waiting for the home plate umpire, than started letting him have it. If he argues balls & strikes, it's an automatic ejection, so Manuel, slyly, went to the mound to "visit his pitcher," waited for the home plate umpire to break up the conference at the mound, then, Manuel was seen yelling at the umpire all the way from the mound, back to the Mets' dugout.

Great job, Jerry ! Nice sly move...

Church On Sunday…

Marty Noble, of, reports that long-awaited, Ryan Church, will return to the Mets on Sunday.

Two former college teammates met by chance on Saturday morning in the corridor under the stands that connects the bullpens and clubhouses at Shea Stadium. And Darrell Rasner inquired about the health of Ryan Church.

"Feelin' pretty good," was Church's response.

"You going to play today?" Rasner said.

"Nah, probably tomorrow," Church said. "That's the plan."

Said Rasner: "Why don't you take a few more days off?"

The next interaction between the two products from the University of Nevada-Reno is likely to be on Sunday afternoon. Church will be the Mets' right fielder again and Rasner will be the Yankees' starting pitcher. They won't be talking.

Church is to return after missing 27 of the team's 35 most recent games because of the aftereffects of the concussion that he suffered on May 20 in Atlanta. After playing the outfield in two rehab games with the Class A Brooklyn Cyclones, Church said he is completely recovered and fully capable of resuming what had appeared to be a breakout season. He said on Saturday that his legs feel strong again; his leg strength and stamina had been issues.

Church might have returned on Saturday, but the Mets reasoned there was little sense in subjecting a left-handed hitter to Andy Pettitte when he would benefit from one more day of baseball activities and free from the strains of competition.

Manager Jerry Manuel characterized Church as a "real nice piece we've missed," and he noted that he relieves some of the pressure on Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado to produce runs. The manager noted he saw Church as capable of batting almost anywhere in the batting order -- second, fifth and sixth -- and he suggested that he might have planned to use Church as the No. 2 hitter, as Willie Randolph did 13 times, if Luis Castillo were not going to be available for the final game of the series against the Yankees.

"Hopefully, he can continue having the year he was having," Manuel said.

Church is batting .300 with 10 home runs and 35 RBIs in 180 at-bats. He has had four hits in 19 at-bats since the concussion and before his assignment to the disabled list. Before the injury, Church was the lone Met having "a good year for us," Randolph said before his dismissal.

(It’s an understatement to say that Church has been missed. He’s been a wonderful surprise. My only concern is if he’s coming back too soon. I hope he’s all right, and not being rushed back.)

Christopher Trotman Nixon

In today's Boston Globe, there is a wonderful article on Mets newly acquired OF, Trot Nixon. Stan Grossfeld is the author, and it truly deserves a look.

In brief, he thoroughly describes Nixon's character, his never say die attitude, as well as some nice words about him from former and current team mate, Pedro Martinez.

The most important thing is, is that Nixon is a tremendous team mate. He works hard, leads by example, and is quick to talk to, congratulate, and put an arm around a team mate.

A real nice article, and strongly urge you to read about this hard working ball player.

Phillies Lose, Keep NL East In Division Race…

The Phillies lost again, combined with a Marlins win, a Mets split, and a Braves win, all 3 teams gain on Philly, and the Braves win, moves them into 3rd place, percentage points ahead of the now 4th place Mets.

The Phillies are (43-38), have lost 2 in a row, and 8 out of 10.

Florida is (41-38), 1 game back, and has lost 6 out of 10.

Atlanta is (40-41), 3 games back, and percentage points ahead of the Mets

The Mets are (39-40), 3 games back, and percentage points behind the Braves

Bring Back Pat Tabler & Robin Ventura...

Pat Tabler and Robin Ventura were known for fantastic career stats, with the bases loaded.

The Mets haven't had anyone with their bases loaded success recently.

Carlos Delgado's grand slam, in game one of yesterday's doubleheader was the Mets' first in 271 games, the third-longest sequence of games without a slam in club history, and was the longest active streak in the big leagues.

They led the N.L. in slams with 10 in 2006, hit none in 2007, and went 77 games without one this season.

Ryan Church update...

Church played his second game for the Brooklyn Cyclones last night. He played seven innings, and went hitless in three at-bats.

The Mets have not yet decided whether or not to activate Church.

Andy Pettitte, a lefty pitcher, starts on Saturday vs. the Mets.

Church's reputation before this season, was that he struggled hitting lefties. However, this season, he's hitting .311 vs. lefties.

If they're going to activate Church, he should start, otherwise, wait one more day, and activate him on Sunday.

Johan vs. Pettitte…

Jon Blau, of, writes about Saturday’s pitching matchup, Johan Santana vs. Andy Pettitte.

NYM: LHP Johan Santana (7-6, 2.93 ERA) Santana threw a fastball up in the zone to Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez on Monday, and Hernandez hit the first grand slam by a pitcher in an Interleague game. Santana completed seven innings and allowed only one earned run in the 5-2 loss. He threw 106 pitches, 72 for strikes. Santana said after that game that his fastball is coming off his hand better than at any other point this season, but that improvement hasn't shown on the left side of his record. He has lost his last three decisions. Santana has a 4-0 record and a 2.93 ERA in 40 career innings in six starts against the Yankees.

NYY: LHP Andy Pettitte (8-5, 4.04 ERA) Pettitte threw six shutout innings on Sunday in the Yankees' 4-1 home victory over the Reds. He might have pitched deeper into the game, if not for a 56-minute rain delay. Pettitte has allowed one run in his three most recent starts (21 innings) and none in 19 innings, his longest scoreless stretch since a career-best 23-inning streak in 1997. He has a 7-4 record and a 3.48 ERA in 17 career regular-season starts against the Mets. One of those losses came on May 17 at Yankee Stadium opposite Santana.

(Mets need to score early, and often, for Santana, who is showing frustration at the lack of run support, and defensive support, during his starts. Santana should be at least 10-3, not 7-6. If he can win today, he can have 8 wins before the halfway point of the season, and be on a pace for 16 wins, and hopefully win 17-20, with better support in the second half.)

I'm Tired, I'll See Y'All Tomorrow…

Jon Blau, of, writes about a long grueling day, which started in the Bronx, and ended in Flushing.

NEW YORK -- As Mets manager Jerry Manuel took a handful of questions after the completion of Friday's two-site doubleheader, he was leaning toward the door before the last one could be asked.

"I'm tired; I'll see y'all tomorrow," Manuel said, hoping that every reporter had enough of his post game insight after a straightforward 9-0 loss to the Yankees in Game 2.

After a grueling day -- an entire day -- of baseball, the Mets and Yankees are going to have to suit up in their not-so-long-lost gear at Shea Stadium for a Saturday afternoon game, which was part of the reason why Manuel was anxious to head home.

The return to the ballpark the next day hasn't been overwhelmingly redundant for Mets. In games following doubleheaders this season, the Mets are 2-1.

Obviously, that isn't a large sampling of contests, but the two wins both came after the Mets split the twin bill, both coming at home against the Reds and the Rangers. Conversely, the loss was part of a five-game slide that the Braves contributed heavily toward with four wins in three days.

Following their doubleheader split on June 15, beating the Rangers in the series finale, the Mets had to travel to Anaheim, winning in Willie Randolph's final game as Mets manager, 9-6. Despite the punishing demands of West Coast travel, the Mets had 12 hits and no fielding errors in that game.

So, really, there is no saying the Mets will be tired by this effort much at all. And while Friday's long day at Shea, followed by an afternoon contest the next day isn't an ideal situation, the Mets, like David Wright, were quick to point out that the Yankees have to show up, as well. There's no room for negotiation with the league, and most definitely the fans, that the Subway Series must go on -- no matter how much they sweat on Friday.

"It's tough, it's a long day, it's humid, but we made it," Carlos Delgado said, smiling. "Hopefully, we don't have to do it ever again."

(Both teams will be exhausted. It will be interesting to see who plays in Saturday’s game, as many players will be sluggish.)

Why Is Pedro Struggling ?

Jon Blau, of, writes about Pedro not sure why his past two starts have been ineffective.

It was not too long ago that Pedro Martinez was promising to make his presence felt in the Mets' clubhouse once he arrived off the disabled list. Less than a couple of weeks ago even, the 36-year-old said he was just a tad off from feeling like he was a "stopper" once more.

But a different Martinez appeared at Shea Stadium for the second game of Friday's Subway Series doubleheader, as he wasn't the mentor who would pick up the Mets' young arms, such as Mike Pelfrey, who did just enough to win in Game 1. Rather, it was quite the other way around, as the veteran Martinez struggled in a rough Game 2 loss.

And as he exited, Martinez -- who has allowed 12 runs in his past 10 innings -- had to question whether this is the worst stretch in his pitching career.

"I'm not doing my job," Martinez said, "and that's something to worry about. ... It's time for me to start getting better and not getting worse."

(I feel bad for Pedro. Everyone wants him to succeed, and be happy-go-lucky Pedro, the team comedian, and unifying team leader.)

Martinez was shook up by the Yankees in 5 2/3 innings on Friday and pelted for six earned runs, as he executed more walks (five) than strikeouts (four). It was the second straight start where Martinez has left the game with the opponent having six runs on the board. On June 21 against the Rockies, he gave up nine hits -- including two home runs -- letting six earned runs come across the plate in 4 1/3 innings.

In fact, since returning from the DL on June 3, Martinez has surrendered 20 earned runs in 27 innings.

(Is he healthy ? Did he come back too soon ?)

His present ERA: 7.12. That's the highest amongst anyone in the current starting rotation. Mets manager Jerry Manuel figures that Martinez is currently struggling with getting his vast assortment of pitches -- the cutter, the curve and the fastball -- clicking at opportune times.

"He's probably trying to figure some things out, and he will," Manuel said. "You know, as long as he is healthy, you know the competitor will eventually figure something out."

After the game, Martinez was jettisoned to the video room, left trying to decipher what went wrong. It's not physical, he said, because his body is fine. He insists it must be mechanical, so Martinez even asked center fielder Carlos Beltran to watch his pitching film to find out if he was tipping his pitches.

Beltran was of the opinion that Martinez was, partially explaining why his historically effective pitching arsenal has been bullied in recent appearances.

"I don't know if I'm trying too hard; I am thinking too much about it or trying to be too fine," Martinez said. "Health is here, that's the good news. Health is here. I feel healthy, and I just have to take the responsibility for what's happening right now."

(If he is healthy, it’s alarming, because he’s not fooling hitters, allowing 42 hits over 30 and 1/3 innings.)


In 2005, he was awesome. His starts were events, and he was a rock star for the Mets, whose presence put them back into relevance. His stature helped the Mets sign Carlos Beltran, Billy Wagner, Fernando Martinez, and bench players, who wanted to play on a team they saw as playoff competitive.

The Mets signed Pedro to a 4-year contract, after his prior employer, the Red Sox, were worried about Pedro’s health, and grudgingly offered a 3-year deal, but, balked at 4 years, concerned about his ability to stay healthy. They were right.

Since 2006, he’s not the same. This year, he’s troubling.

Click here to see his stats…Pedro Martinez

He’s a misleading 2-2, with an alarming 7.12 ERA. In 6 starts, he’s pitched 30 and 1/3 innings, just over 5 per start (not enough to take pressure off the bullpen). A hideous 42 hits allowed.

Can Pedro rebound to at least become a reliable starter ?

Mets’ Inconsistency Continues…

Marty Noble, of, writes about the Mets’ inconsistency. One step forward and one step back; the perplexing Mets continued to dance in a most curious way on Friday night. The scores of the games in this inter-borough, inter-league doubleheader -- Mets 15, Yankees 6 in Game 1, and Yankees 9, Mets 0 in Game 2 -- convey the message just as well.

Two teams, two games, two parks and, for the Mets, two personalities. And too bad. A victory in the second game and a sweep might have reinforced this team where it sags, might have have lit a ... or it might not have mattered.

Instead, the Mets' schizophrenia continued in grand style. After they established a season-high runs total at Yankee Stadium in Game 1, they moved to their own property and, nonetheless, equaled their season low and allowed gloom -- or was that indifference? -- to displace the glow of what they had accomplished in the afternoon.

And who can explain why? Not manager Jerry Manuel. By the time he was involved in the postmortems, midnight loomed, as did a late-afternoon rematch on Saturday.

"It can't be explained," was the new manager's take. "It'll drive you crazy if you try to figure it out."

Inconsistency has been the Mets' method for most of the season. Two days before their 15-then-zero turnaround, they scored eight runs in the first three innings and never produced so much as a baserunner in the five subsequent turns at bat. No one had a viable explanation for that either. But that performance was self-contained in a victory. What damage did it do?

(Very baffling, and frustrating to score 15 runs in game one, provide so much joy, and optimism, then, be shut out by Sidney Ponson, and the Yankee bullpen, in game two.)

But losing on Friday came with a cost. Their deficit in the National League East standings would have been decreased to two games. They would have been closer to first place than they have been since May 18. Winning would have made their winning percentage higher than .500 for the first time since June 5.

The first game had brought them such joy. Carlos Delgado had hit two home runs, one a grand slam, and established a club-record nine RBIs in one game. And the Yankees' chance for redemption rested with retread starter Sidney Ponson. Moreover, Pedro Martinez was to start for the Mets.

But Ponson shut the Mets down for six innings, and Martinez set up the Yankees for 5 2/3. He was effective for three innings, allowing two baserunners, both on singles. But before he could achieve another nine outs, he had allowed four more hits, five walks, hit a batter and was unable to cover first base.

The Yankees had leadoff batters reach base in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings on a walk, Martinez's defensive lapse and a hit batsman. Each leadoff runner scored. Martinez didn't have pitches to get outs. The Mets threw a "but he's healthy" bandage in his second successive poor start, as if health were the most critical factor.

His velocity appeared lacking, though the Shea Stadium scoreboard measured at least one pitch at 94 mph.

Martinez now carries a 7.12 ERA, and he has provided scant evidence that he can be handed the responsibilities of a No. 2 starter. Game 1 winner Mike Pelfrey (5-6) achieved two fewer outs than Martinez (2-2) and allowed more hits. But he repeatedly pitched his way out of jeopardy -- as Martinez is expected to.

Martinez has lost his two most recent starts, and the Mets have lost four of the six games he has started this season, including their second game in Miami when he injured his left hamstring. He has allowed 12 runs in his most recent 10 innings.

(It’s obvious Pedro is no longer the same pitcher. What does he have left to provide for the rest of this season ?)

"Just one of those games," Manuel said. Or is it just another one of those games?

With the Mets unable to do anything with Ponson (5-1), Martinez's inadequate performance proved troubling. As a result, they suffered their first loss in four games against the Yankees this season. The shutout was the second against them in four games -- they had been shut out once previously -- and the loss was their fifth in 10 games since Manuel replaced Randolph.

Pitching in the big leagues for the first time since his final start for the Rangers on June 4, Ponson limited the Mets to five hits -- nine fewer than they produced in the first game of the twin bill -- in six innings.

"Baseball is such a fickle game," David Wright said. "And our offense has been inconsistent, too. This kind of thing happens. You can't predict it or explain it."

Mets Win Over Yanks More Than Just About Subway Series Supremacy…

Mike Bauman, of, writes about the Mets’ win in game one, being worth more than winning a Subway Series.

This festival of Big Apple baseball opened with something even more valuable than bragging rights at stake.

The day-night, Yankee Stadium/Shea Stadium doubleheader on Friday, the onset of Phase II of the 2008 Subway Series, features two clubs whose midseason scenarios were definitely uphill, but far from hopeless.

The Mets took the opener at Yankee Stadium, 15-6, thanks in large part to a Carlos Delgado revival of epic proportions. Delgado drove in a franchise-record nine runs, with a double and two home runs. His sixth-inning grand slam to right-center was a monumental blast both in importance and in the visual impression that it left as it soared high into the bleachers.

Beyond their neighboring-rival franchise status, these two clubs are in similar circumstances this season. The Yankees have a better record than the Mets, but over the long haul, a more difficult path to follow. The American League East is an even tougher neighborhood than usual. The Yankees' problems in this division have essentially been doubled. The Boston Red Sox are becoming used to the top spot by now, but the Tampa Bay Rays have moved beyond the surprising stage, directly into the good stage. They may not win anything major this season, but they will not evaporate. They have made the journey from patsies to contenders, and that change makes the Yankees' current third-place task that much tougher.

(It’s great to see someone finally challenge the Yankees and Red Sox. Baseball is better when different teams make the playoffs. If either Boston or the Yankees miss the playoffs this season, it’s good for baseball. Fans in different cities have to believe their teams can compete all season long, for a playoff berth. Go Rays !!!)

The Yankees could take considerable solace from the fact that, this drubbing aside, they had recently been playing some of their most consistent baseball of the season, winning eight of their last 12 and 13 of their last 20. The fact that the vast majority of those recent games had been against sub.-500 teams did not need to be a dampening factor.

The Mets, meanwhile, got back to .500 with Friday afternoon's Game 1 victory. For the moment, they were just three games back of the Phillies in the National League East.

In the last two weeks, while they have compiled a modest 8-5 record, the Mets have gained 4 1/2 games on the first-place but slumping Phillies. The question of whether the Mets would put it all together under new manager Jerry Manuel is still open.

In any case, for all the gnashing of teeth that has accompanied the first three months of this season for the Mets, their overall situation, like their overall record, is middling.

The Subway Series is always a celebration of intensity, but it's going to be a dual-purpose for the Mets.

"I think one good thing about these series for me is that it gives me a real good chance to evaluate how my players respond to that type of atmosphere, because that's as close as you can get midseason to a playoff-style atmosphere," Manuel said.

(Good point. In game one, his players responded. Hopefully, they can win this four game series.)

Based on this game, Delgado, although he has been widely blamed for his role in the Mets' underachievement to date, would be ideally suited for any highly pressurized situation. Earlier in the day, Manuel had referred to Delgado as "somewhat of an enigma to me," and everyone understood what he meant. But on this afternoon at least, Delgado moved from enigma back to the much more comfortable designations of slugger and first-class run-producer.

"I got lucky," Delgado said with more than enough modesty. "Every time, I came up there were a lot of guys on base."

Right, and most of the when he got through, there was nobody left on base. Of the ritual booing he has received at Shea Stadium, Delgado said he "getting used to it," although he acknowledged that no player would like it.

"The only thing I can do is go out and play better," Delgado said. Nine RBIs should qualify.

Beyond this personal triumph, the Mets as a group achieved a small, but still notable historical breakthrough with this victory. The Yankees and Mets have played two of these day-night, two-stadium doubleheaders before; one in 2000 and another in '03. The Yankees had won all four previous games.

And for the current bragging rights, this victory made the Mets 3-0 against the Yankees this season, assuring no worse than a split in the 2008 Subway Series. But for the purposes of the larger season, it was an impressive victory over an opponent with a winning record, exactly the kind of thing that brought the Mets' reality a bit closer to their aspirations.

(Game one was very enjoyable to watch, to see Castillo score five times, Wright, Beltran, and Delgado drive in all 15 runs, and see Delgado have a career day, in a game which eventually became a laugher, and a relaxing game to watch and enjoy.)

Carlos Delgado's Career Day Leads Mets In Game One…

Samantha Newman, of, writes about Carlos Delgado’s career day leading the Mets to a 15-6 win in game one of yesterday’s doubleheader.

Prior to the final Subway Series match-up at Yankee Stadium on Friday afternoon, Mets manager Jerry Manuel talked about his team's reliance on defense in recent games.

After the Mets lit up the Yankees for 15 runs in the first game of the split-stadium doubleheader, no one was talking about their defense.

In fact, the team committed three errors in a shaky defensive outing.

It didn't matter.

Carlos Delgado led the charge with a club-record and career-high nine RBIs, as the Mets (39-39) put on an offensive performance that erased any early mistakes on their way to a 15-6 rout of the Yankees. The win completed the Mets' first road season sweep of the Bombers (42-37), and signaled the first time the Mets have won three straight games at Yankee Stadium.

Delgado broke a tied game in the fifth inning with a two-run double, then broke things open in the sixth when he blasted a grand slam over the right-center-field wall. He followed it up with a three-run home run to right field in his next at-bat.

The veteran's 3-for-5 performance came after a 0-for-10 streak at the plate during the Mets' recent home stand.

"To have that freedom to swing that way he did for us today was a beautiful thing to see," Manuel said. "Here we are trying run and do all these things, and we've got that kind of power sitting there ready to explode, and he just put us on his back today."

After Delgado had a home run called back at Yankee Stadium on May 18, the slugger left no room for question about his two homers Friday, sending both clear over the walls.

The veteran has battled through an inconsistent season during the first 78 games, batting .235. But Delgado said he never gave up and takes his performance upon himself.

"It seems like I haven't caught a break this year," the slugger said. "But I don't complain. I figure that things are going to happen when you make them happen. You make adjustments, you go out there with the right approach, you swing at strikes and you kind of control your own fate."

The victory came more than a month after the Mets' first two wins at Yankee Stadium, making up for a rainout on May 16, but the impressive run support is something Delgado said the Mets always strive for against their crosstown rival.

"You want to come in, especially with guys in scoring position -- you want to come up with a big hit," Delgado said. "You understand how big the Yankees and the Mets series are, and you want to contribute."

(Phenomenal performance by Delgado, who received a deserved standing ovation from the Shea crowd, before his first at-bat in game two of last night’s doubleheader)

Three, Four, Five…

In the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader, Jose Reyes scored twice, and Luis Castillo five times, because the third hitter, David Wright, the cleanup hitter, Carlos Beltran, and the fifth hitter, Carlos Delgado, combined, were 8 for 14, 7 runs scored, and ALL FIFTEEN R.B.I.’s.

Wright had 3 R.B.I.’s, 62 overall, Beltran had 3 R.B.I.’s, 54 overall, and Delgado 9 R.B.I.’s, 44 overall.

Beltran also had his 12th homer of the season.

Some Love For Luis Castillo…

Let’s not forget about Luis Castillo, who, in game one of yesterday’s doubleheader, had a fantastic game, overshadowed by Carlos Delgado’s “pinch me, to see if I’m awake, type of game.” Castillo was 2 for 3, with 3 walks, on base 5 times. He scored all 5 times, a career high, and was an enormous part of the Mets’ 15-6 win vs. the Yankees.

Run, Run, Run…

The Mets, in game one of yesterday’s doubleheader, started to exploit a weakness they should continue to exploit on Saturday and Sunday. Jorge Posada is off the D.L. for the Yankees, and hitting well, but, his throwing is not well, yet.

The Mets stole three bases in game one, but, had opportunities for more, and they should run more on Saturday and Sunday, if Posada is playing (Posada was rested for the second game of yesterday’s doubleheader). Posada had trouble throwing the ball to second base, bouncing his throws. The Mets took advantage, as Luis Castillo stole has 12th and 13th bases, and Jose Reyes, his 28th.

My Guy, Carlos Delgado…

SNY has a terrific show, “Loud Mouths,” starring Adam Schein and Chris Carlin, in which one of their segments is “My Guy, My Goat” containing their positive and negative person of the day.

For game one of yesterday’s doubleheader, there were many who were great subplots, but, numero uno, “My Guy” was Carlos Delgado, who was 3 for 5, with 2 runs scored, both on home runs, a 3-run shot, and a grand slam. Delgado also hit a 2-run double. That added up to a career high nine R.B.I.’s, which was also a Mets’ record, and it tied the all-time record for most R.B.I.’s by a visiting player, in the long, storied era of Yankee Stadium.

Delgado now has 13 HR’s, 44 RBI’s, and is on a pace for 26-27 HR’s, and 90 R.B.I.’s. For everyone screaming for Delgado to be released, or for the Andy Phillips, Damion Easley, Fernando Tatis, or Marlon Anderson’s of this world to play more first base, I ask you, who else is going to provide 26-27 HR’s, and 90 R.B.I.’s. And, these HR’s and RBI’s were important parts of a victory, and not in garbage time.

For game one of yesterday’s doubleheader, my guy, Carlos Delgado…

Game 1 - This Is Not A Misprint...Mets Win 15-6...

In game one of their doubleheader vs. the Yankees, the Mets offense awakened, and then some, pounding out 15 runs, on 14 hits. The game started out ugly, with the Mets trailing 4-3, after 4 innings, before they were able to score 3 in the fifth, and 5 in the sixth to break the game open. 14 hits and 7 walks hid the fact that the Mets played sloppy defense, committing 3 errors.

Mike Pelfrey gets the win, 3-0 since May 31st, to improve his record to 5-6.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Omar Says He's Still In Buying Mode...

In a Newsday article, Omar Minaya says 2 important things, on the status of NY Mets. One, being that he is still in buying mode, and the other, is the team problems aren't his fault. I'm like o.k. Omar, you fired Willie, you're next in line. You cant blame Jerry, if the team doesn't turn it around. You, Omar, are the one who put this team together. You said o.k. on signing over the hill, Alou, and signing El Duque. He mentions that he is down 2 outfielders. If you look around the league, everyone is battling injuries. I also crunched some numbers with the Mets outfielders, and compared them to other teams' outfielders, and the Mets are light on home runs, that's a fact, but their avg. and r.b.i. totals are right in line, with the Phillies and the Marlins. So, Omar, who are you going to blame, now? Look in the mirror, buddy. If you're going to make some deals, at the deadline, like you mention, you better make sure they're better than picking up Trot Nixon or Andy Phillips. That isn't going to cut it.

Weather Might Affect Weekend's Subway Series...

The Mets and Yankees are ready to play 4 games, in 3 days, this weekend, and hopefully, the weather won't ruin their plans. Today looks o.k., but the weather on Saturday and Sunday doesn't looks as promising. Rain could result in games being postponed, over the weekend, and I'm wondering if they are, what will they do ? Will there be another double header, if Saturday's game is rained out ? Stay tuned...

Brad Holt Unhittable In First Coney Island Start…

Danny Wild, of, reports that first-round pick Brad Holt did not disappoint Mets fans in his Coney Island debut. Holt (1-1) tossed five hitless innings for his first professional win and rehabbing Ryan Church went 3-for-3 as the Brooklyn Cyclones beat the visiting Aberdeen IronBirds on Thursday, 4-2.

"I felt good, after the first it was all up and down, I felt fine," Holt said of the stint. "My breaking ball was good, everything was working."

The 33rd overall pick earlier this month, Holt struck out six and walked one in his second career appearance. He faced 17 batters and induced six grounders and three fly balls in his home debut.

"I used a little bit of everything," he said. "Fastballs down, in and out, both sides of the plate. I showed changeups every now and then. I threw a couple breaking balls, but, basically it was the same [as in college]. I just keep attacking with the fastball."

The Albermarle, N.C. native went 11-1 with a 3.18 ERA at UNC-Wilmington before he was scooped up by New York in the first round. The Mets were awarded two compensatory picks when the Braves signed Tom Glavine over the offseason, and Holt was selected after the club drafted current Cyclones teammates Isaac Davis (18th overall) and Reese Havens (22nd overall).

Holt said he was excited to join a team with big prospects, never mind a Major Leaguer.

"It makes it a little bit more exciting," Holt said of playing alongside Church, who was batting .300 with 10 homers and 35 RBIs for the Mets before hitting the DL. "It was cool to have him here. He's a cool guy, I talked to him before the game. He had a great night tonight, and whenever you have have those guys behind you, it makes it easier. Everybody had a great night."

Holt, meanwhile, was soaking in his first win as a Mets farmhand.

"I'd heard a lot of good things about [the Mets]," he said. "They run everything the way it should be done, so yeah, I was excited to be drafted by them, I've heard nothing but good things."

Holt said he'd been hoping to join the Mets all along.

"I knew a couple clubs had interest in me, but I wasn't getting my hopes up," he said. "I knew the Mets had interest at that pick -- I read stuff online -- but whenever it came to that point [in the Draft], I know there were a lot of quality arms. At first, I didn't think it would happen."

The right-hander's unhittable effort comes four days after he allowed two runs on two hits and a walk in 2 1/3 innings for the loss in his professional debut at Aberdeen on June 21.

Church, on the 15-Day disabled list with a concussion since June 6, went 3-for-3 in his first rehab game. He singled through the left side in the first, lined an RBI double to right and scored in the third and singled in the fifth before leaving for a pinch-runner. The Mets had been hopeful Church would be ready for their weekend series with the Yankees.

Davis made his professional debut and went 1-for-4 with a leadoff double and a run in the second. Havens is on the roster, but has yet to see action with Brooklyn.

(It’s exciting to see Holt do well. Many have written about the Mets’ lack of prospects before this year’s draft. If this year’s picks can improve the Mets’ barren farm system, that will improve the Mets for years to come.)

Ryan Church May Return On Saturday…

Anthony DiComo, of, reports that Ryan Church is one step closer to returning.

On Thursday, he played five innings for Class A Brooklyn, finishing 3-for-3 at the plate. He will play again on Friday, and could join the Mets as soon as this weekend.

Church, on the disabled list since June 6 with post-concussion syndrome, rapped out two infield hits and a double, scoring one run and driving in another. He did not have any outfield chances.

Among those watching Church play were vice president of player development Tony Bernazard and general manager Omar Minaya, who will make a decision regarding Church's availability after Friday night's game in Brooklyn.

Church was batting .300 with 10 home runs before suffering his second concussion of the year in late May. The Mets placed him on the disabled list roughly two weeks later.

(So, the earliest we may see Church is Saturday, since he’s playing Friday night’s game in Brooklyn.)

Game One Pitching Matchups…

Mike Pelfrey pitches for the Mets against Dan Giese for the Yankees, at Yankee Stadium.

Mike Pelfrey, since his May 31st start, against the Dodgers, has shown tremendous improvement, with a 2.76 ERA over the last 30 days. His winning percentage is starting to improve, as he was 2-6 before May 31st, and is 2-0 with 3 no decisions, in his last 5 starts.

Giese is off to a great start, but, only has one start this season, throwing 6 and 2/3 scoreless innings vs. the Reds on June 21st, allowing 4 hits, no walks, and 5 strikeouts. His other 3 appearances were in relief.

Pelfrey’s stats… (4-6, 4.30 ERA, 14 games, all starts, 81 and 2/3 innings pitched, 94 hits, 41 runs, 39 earned, 4 HR allowed, 37 walks, 43 strikeouts)

vs. Lefty Hitters: .350 batting average against
vs. Righty Hitters: .259 batting average against
During The Day: 2.84 ERA
Current Month: 2.81 ERA
Road: 6.25 ERA
Grass: 4.30 ERA
Last 30 Days: 2.76 ERA

Giese’s stats… (1-2, 0.64 ERA, 4 games, 1 start, 14 IP, 10 hits, 4 runs, 1 earned, 0 HR allowed, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts)

vs. Lefty Hitters: .185 batting average against
vs. Righty Hitters: .200 batting average against
During The Day: 0.00 ERA
Current Month: 0.64 ERA
Home: 0.69 ERA
Grass: 0.64 ERA
Last 30 Days: 0.64 ERA

This could be a low-scoring game. Pelfrey has pitched beautifully since May 31st. Giese has not pitched against the Mets, who usually struggle offensively vs. pitchers thay are unfamiliar with.

Today’s Games…And Where They’re Being Broadcasted…

The Mets play a day/night doubleheader vs. the Yankees.

Game one starts at 2:05 P.M. SNY is promoting an extended one hour pre-game show that begins at 1:00 P.M.

Keep the channel on SNY as they will be broadcasting the 2:05 P.M. game. After the game, SNY will have its usual post-game report. Then, SNY goes back to regular programming, as they are not broadcasting game two.

Switch to the CW11 channel for game two at 8:10 P.M.

Mets Pull Closer To First, By Default…

The Phillies & Marlins lost yesterday, while the Mets & Braves had the day off. So, the Mets & Braves gain a half game in the NL East.

Philly (43-37) has lost 8 out of 10, but, remains in 1st place

Florida (40-38) has lost 4 straight, and 6 of 10, but, remains in 2nd place, 2 games back

Mets (38-39) have won 6 of 10, and are in 3rd place, 3 and ½ games back of Philly, and one and a half games back of Florida.

Atlanta (39-41) has won 5 of 10, and is in 4th place, 4 games back of Philly, and a half game behind the Mets.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


In an AP report, Umpire Brian Runge was suspended for one game. The article, found on Yahoo Sports, states that Runge was suspended for "bumping" Mets manager Jerry Manuel.

To me, this suspension is nothing but smoke and mirrors. If a player or manager had bumped Runge, he would be suspended for at least three games.

To add to this , Manuel and Beltran were fined but not suspended..

No Willie At All-Star Game...Sweet Lou Is Replacement...

There have been reports that Lou Pinella will be replacing Willie Randolph as a coach at the All-Star game, at Yankee Stadium. Looks like it's up to Hank, now, to get Willie a seat at the game.

NL East Lousy Division Helping Mets…

Interesting Article over at Newsday today aboutthe NL East . The Mets, who won last night 8-2, are 1 game under .500. Under Jerry Manuel there playing .500 ball being 4-4 and how they fairing in the division? There actually gaining ground. All the NL East teams are having a tough go of it with interleague play…The Phillies have lost 6 of 7 . The Marlins lost another series to the Rays so even with the Phillies losing the Marlins are still stuck in 2nd place. The Mets who are 6-4 in there last 10 are one of a few team in the National League that have a winning record in the last 10 games. The Cards, Cubs and Brewers are the others.. Who has the best Interleague record? The KC Royals ……Interleague play concludes after this weekend .

Sleep Overrated ?

Our friend, Metstradamus, who we are huge fans of, because of his wonderfully twisted sense of humor, has a column called, “The Sugar Pants Effect.”

I will not ruin it, by even describing it, other than it was great, a must read, and hysterical !!!

Click on the “Metstradamus” hyperlink above, to see the article.

Check out met fan sleeping here

Cut Bait...

I've been holding off on this rant for a long time, but cannot keep quiet anymore. The Mets need to replace Carlos DelStatue. All we keep hearing about is his contract. It would be worth the $8 million or so, to be rid of this has been.

He is a statue at 1B, so slow to react and has no range. He can't catch up to the fastball anymore, and doesn't hit the curve.

Last night's acquisition of Andy Phillips should have marked the end of this problem at 1B, but according to Adam Rubin, Phillips will be used in the OF.

Doesn't it matter to this team that DelStatue is a human rally-killer? Every time he steps to the plate, the only question is: is he going to strike out, or hit it on the ground to the shortstop, playing on the second base side of the infield?

I keep hearing DelStatue's proponents saying who is going to make up the HR drought if he is dealt/dropped? Look at his HR's. They come at garbage time. Stats can be quite deceiving. He hasn't had a key hit since the Yankee series.

Buildthefarmsystem keeps talking about being sellers. I don't know if I agree with that or not, but if Jerry Manuel wants to make a splash, this would be the best way. Send a message to all the players that it is time to produce.

Fernando Martinez To Return To Binghamton On Friday..

Our friend, Adam Rubin, reports that Fernando Martinez is expected to rejoin Binghamton on Friday, according to Tony Bernazard. He’ll play a final Gulf Coast League game on Thursday as he seems recovered from a right hamstring injury.

(This is good news. Martinez is still too young, and too inexperienced to help the Mets this season, but, if he stays healthy, and keeps improving, he may be able to help in 2009 or 2010.)

Tony Armas, Jr. To Start On Tuesday...

Our friend, Adam Rubin, reports that Tony Armas Jr. will start Tuesday in St. Louis, when the Mets need a spot starter. He then could settle into Vargas’ former long-relief role. That means Carlos Muniz’s stay is probably only short term.

(Jerry Manuel has hinted that roster changes could be on the way. So far, Andy Phillips is a Met, Robinson Cancel to AAA. Ryan Church is to be activated within the next few days, with Trot Nixon possibly going to AAA. Oliver Perez may go to AAA, if Claudio Vargas clears waivers, and is recalled. Now, Tony Armas Jr. will force a roster move on Tuesday, possibly returning Carlos Muniz to AAA. This is getting interesting.)

Oliver Perez' Rotation Status In Jeopardy...

Our friend, Adam Rubin, reports that Oliver Perez is starting Sunday, with Manuel saying he seems to thrive in big games.

(Sunday's game is a 1:10 P.M., nationally televised TBS game. Also, CW11 in New York. Perez also has pitched well against the Yankees.)

That doesn’t mean the Mets are wed to him long term in the rotation. There was clubhouse talk that Claudio Vargas could eventually return from New Orleans, assuming he clears waivers, and supplant Perez in the rotation if the southpaw continues to falter.

(The Mets will look foolish if Vargas is claimed off waivers, becoming a former Met. Vargas pitched well as a starter, and was not the problem on this team. They aren't deep enough in pitching, to potentially lose Vargas.)

Ryan Church To Play For Brooklyn On Thursday...

Our friend, Adam Rubin, reports that Church will play for Brooklyn on Thursday. He should be with the big-league club Friday or Saturday. If Church awakes Thursday not feeling sore from a rigorous workout at Shea the previous day, he’ll play the outfield for the Cyclones and be able to join the Mets for the entire weekend series against the Yankees. If he’s sore, he’ll just DH for the Cyclones on Thursday, then play the outfield in Coney Island on Friday before being activated.

(Rubin's on a roll reporting timely information that's beating others to the punch. Looks like it all comes down to how Ryan Church feels this morning.)

We'll keep you updated...

Andy Phillips Will Not Be Delgado's Backup Or Replacement...

Our friend, Adam Rubin, reports that Jerry Manuel told him that Andy Phillips is outfield “inventory,” not a righty-hitting alternative that will chip away at Carlos Delgado’s at-bats. With Ryan Church’s return imminent, the Mets are lefty-heavy in the outfield, which means Trot Nixon may go when Church is activated. Third catcher Robinson Cancel was optioned to New Orleans to make room for Phillips, who will join the team Friday.

(Great reporting by Rubin. Everyone saw Phillips as a righty-hitting option at 1B, to bench Delgado against lefties. Manuel sees Phillips as an outfielder, which means Trot Nixon looks to be AAA bound when Church is activated.)

David Wright, The Workhorse...

Our friend, Adam Rubin, reports that David Wright said he was refreshed more so mentally, than physically, by his day off, and that his bat did feel lighter as he slugged two homers. Since the start of 2005, Wright has played the second-most games in the National League, trailing only Juan Pierre.

(Interesting. Rubin’s the first I’ve seen to report Wright’s overuse since 2005. Great stat. I respect that Wright always wants to play, but, last night was evidence that an occasional day off will help him.)

Dan Wheeler…

Our friends at Mets Walk-Offs, have an interesting story about a Rays' pitcher the Mets miss, not that one, Dan Wheeler.

This isn't a first-guess, second-guess, third-guess, or fourth-guess. When Wheeler was with the Mets in 2003-2004, he wasn't quite of Tidrow List caliber, but he didn't exactly bring back memories of Turk Wendell either. Basically he was average and has been so for a long time.

Until this season...

I don't know what kind of value you place in "holds" (in summary: reliever who enters in a save scenario, gets outs, leaves with save scenario still in place), but it might interest you to know that Dan Wheeler is the AL leader in holds, having picked up his 18th on Thursday night.

Wheeler has been vintage Wendell for the Rays over the last month.

Check out these numbers:

Since May 20...
14 Games
12 Innings
1 Run
8 Hits
1 Extra-Base Hit
.186 Opponents Batting Average
7 Holds
0.75 ERA

In the past 8 days, Wheeler has come into a game with a one-run lead in the eighth inning three times. The innings have gone 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3-4.That's pretty good.

(Great job looking into an underrated reliever, who was very helpful to Houston, too. Wheeler’s been a reliable set-up guy, and occasional closer.)

Unacceptable & Unreliable Perez, Delgado, Mets’ Bats…

Our friend, Dave, at Mets Lifers, has a good rant about Oliver Perez, Carlos Delgado, and the lack of Mets’ hitting.

Hey Oliver, did you know this is a contract year for you? You wanna get paid? Hope you have a degree or a backup plan. You're not going to be welcome in New York for much longer.

(Agreed. Many are asking if the Mets should already be in seller’s mode, and hopefully receiving a worthwhile offer to trade Perez, Delgado, and others.)

Oliver Perez has joined the ranks of Carlos Delgado as worthless members of this New York Mets team. Perez can't find a way to be consistent and I'm convinced he's beyond repair.As bad as Perez's pitching was the Mets bats are invisible. At this point we're better off watching Triple A kids get a chance to play and show some heart.

Ryan Church Update...

Ryan Church is expected to begin a rehab assignment, playing for the class A Brooklyn Cyclones today. Depending upon how he plays, and feels afterwards, he is expected to be activated sometime during the series vs. the Yankees (two games Friday, one each on Saturday & Sunday)

Despite Struggles, Mets Are Hottest Team In NL East...

The Mets did not look good in the first two games of their series vs. Seattle, but, compared to the rest of the NL East, they're hanging in there, because everyone else is struggling even more.

In their past ten games, the Mets are a division best, 6-4, just good enough to pass Atlanta, by a half game in the standings, as they have been 5-5.

It's been good enough to tighten the divisional race as 2nd place Florida has been 4-6, and the first place Phillies have been 2-8.

Philly has struggled so badly that even last place Washington, at 3-7, has gained a game on the Phillies.

Mets Among Best In NL During Interleague Play...

Despite just losing two of three from Seattle, the Mets are tied with the Reds, at 7-4 for the best winning percentage, of NL teams, within interleague play.

Hopefully, that success continues in their 3-day, 4-game interleague matchup vs. the Yankees, starting Friday afternoon.

A Day Of Rest Creates Immediate Dividends For Wright And Manuel…

Marty Noble, of, writes about Tuesday's day off, for David Wright, showing immediate dividends.

The thinking behind the law of diminishing return never was lost on David Wright. But when it was applied to him, he saw it as compromise. And Wright prefers to see himself as steadfast, unyielding and ever ready. He preferred to believe the law didn't apply to him, his 25-year-old body, his determination and his abiding affection for the game. Let the next guy take a seat.

So consider it a lesson learned. Wright didn't resist when his new manager said "be seated" late Monday night. Nor did he participate in the 11-0 loss the Mets endured the following night. And when he returned to duty Wednesday, he was, by his own account, renewed. Less can be more, even for him.

Wright came back swinging in what became the Mets' 8-2 victory against the Mariners. His first swing of the night produced a solo home run, his second a foul ball, and his third sent another fly ball beyond the playing confines of Shea Stadium. Wright looked like a slugger, Dr. Jerry Manuel looked like a genius.

(Hopefully, this is a lesson learned for all the Mets’ players that a day off can rejuvenate, and spark immediate results. Randolph, knowing he was fighting to retain his job, had played his starters too often, desperately hoping to win as many games as possible, as quickly as possible. Manuel is thinking long-term. We’ll see if he’s given the opportunity to manage the Mets long-term.)

"[I] can't argue with the results," Wright said. "It worked. I did feel more refreshed, crisper. I noticed the difference. The bat felt lighter."

Wright hadn't hit a home run since June 10. His batting average for June -- 86 at-bats -- was .256.

"He's still a good player who can play tired," Manuel said.

But the manager had detected "mental fatigue that manifests itself in the physical."

Wright had started every game and played every inning but nine at third base -- he served as designated hitter last week -- until Wednesday. Then he produced the 11th multi-home run game of his career, his second this season.

"Just trying to make Jerry look good," he said.

And now with that evidence supporting their new manager's logic, the entire Mets team is about to take a day off, though Manuel had nothing to do with it.

"It does come at a good time for us," Manuel said. "Because we're going to have to push it the next 12 to 14 days."

The next time the schedule will allow the Mets a chance to kick back is July 14, the first day of the All-Star break. By then, they will have played four games against the Yankees and seven against the two teams in the best positions to deny them a place in the postseason -- the Phillies, leaders in the National League East, and the Cardinals, the team with the best Wild Card standing.

Those seven games will have more impact than the Interleague losses to the Mariners on Monday and Tuesday, and the comfortable Interleague victory the Mets produced Wednesday, their fourth victory in Manuel's eight games and their seventh in 11 games against the other league.

(By July 14th, hopefully Omar and the Wilpons have a better idea as to whether they should be buyers or sellers at the deadline. Currently, under .500, and struggling, they should be sellers, acquire prospects, reload for 2009, and give some major league opportunities to some minor leaguers, if some of the major league talent is traded for prospects.)