Have The Mets Turned the Corner?

New York- A four-game winning streak for the New York Mets and you ask, does that provide a legitimate reason of contention that they are beginning to turn things around? For the moment, especially with a win against Atlanta, and three wins over the Yankees, there is optimism.

Added to the equation, the Mets go for a four-game series sweep, or two consecutive two game sweeps tomorrow night in the Bronx. Then, it is three games down in Miami with the Marlins, a team that continues to tumble with the second worst record in baseball.

The mood in the visitor’s clubhouse Wednesday evening, after the Mets third straight win over the Yankees, to say the least exhibited optimism.  The tide has changed from a week ago when a timely hit, scoring runs and good pitching was hard to find.

“We’ve won three very important ballgames in a row,” said Collins. “There is a different attitude in the clubhouse.” Because the Mets have put a string of wins together and doing it against the Yankees made it more fun in that clubhouse.

It could be the start of the summer for the Mets, according to Collins, alluding to how important it was to win these games against the Yankees.

And with Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis, a part of their infield on thin ice, it was so important for them to be a part of that five-run first inning that quickly put the Mets ahead.  Tejada led off the game with a single and would score on a Daniel Murphy double.

“Nice to get some runs early especially against this team,” commented Davis. He drove the ball the other way in that first inning.

He said, “If I can keep getting better at bats, I can turn this around. We have a better team than we have showed and we can turn this around.” And it has to be Davis and the bat to turn the season around.

Collins said, David Wright referred to Davis as the guy who can turn it around.  There is some type of optimism because Davis struck out once after 24 strikeouts in his last 16- games.

Tejada did get hurt in the ninth inning, so he is staying put for the moment.  He may miss a few games pending an X-Ray to a quad injury he sustained sliding for a ball down the third base line with two outs in the Yankees ninth inning.

“If we have any chance to win here, Ike Davis has to be hitting in the lineup,” said Collins. Lucas Duda and John Buck also got hits going the other way. Again, Collins said this was a big series.

Perhaps, a bigger part of this being an important series is because the Mets have started to hit the ball with more authority. “And they are doing it against the Yankees.

Later in the inning, Davis, with that .152 average would single to left center and drive in two of those five runs. Davis got some batting tips from manager Terry Collins before the game.  Mets fans can’t remember the last game when he drove in two important runs, even if it was early in the game.

Jermey Hefner, with that 0-5 record coming in, had runs to work with and finally got a win. And to him that must have been, as they say, a gift from heaven,

“Important to win, more importantly to keep our team winning,” said Hefner who broke the streak of not getting a win a day after the ace Matt Harvey gets the ball.

What it means is, the Mets will in all probability continue to struggle. The important thing is to continue this renewed momentum with three games down in Miami. But, as the captain David Wright said Tuesday night, at Citi Field in Flushing Queens, “We have a hard time capitalizing on games like this.”

Meaning, as Wright insinuated, the two Mets come from behind wins against the Yankees, Monday and Tuesday in their home park had to continue some type of momentum.

Wednesday night, the Mets continued that brand of good baseball with good pitching, timely hitting, and hitting quality pitches. They did not swing for the fences. They hit at the right time, and it meant another win against a Yankees team that has not resembled the Bronx Bombers they have faced in the past.

Davis handled the sinker much better thrown by David Phelps, and was more comfortable at the plate. Tejada started the onslaught in that first inning. Perhaps, the private meeting with Collins had with Davis and Tejada earlier in the day, where he reportedly told them, they were close to being demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas was the beginning of a remedy?

After all, who wants to play baseball in Las Vegas with the famed strip in the background instead of the Empire State Building and other New York City landmarks?

It went down as a two-game series sweep in Queens and a revival of sorts for the Mets in Queens. They go for another two-game series sweep tomorrow night in the Bronx

And, doing it against the mighty cross- town Yankees does not necessarily mean it won’t be as gloomy in Flushing as we have seen. But, time will tell.

Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Ballgames, Bats, Clubhouse, Contention, Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Game Series, Game Sweeps, Game Winning Streak, Legitimate Reason, Marlins, New York Mets, Optimism, Rich Mancuso, Ruben, Tejada, Thin Ice, Three Games, Tomorrow Night, Top Story, Wednesday Evening

Mets Need To Do Something With Ike

Flushing, NY – Before the season if you said ‘51’ to Ike Davis, he would probably think that’s the number of homers he would have this season.

Come next week, ‘51’ will be the name of his team.

Davis looks terrible at the plate, swinging pitches out of the zone for his first two at bats tonight making him halfway to the Golden Sombrero.  It’s just an example of a player that who it and because the Mets are not performing as a whole, Davis has become public enemy No. 1 at Citi Field with the daily chatter about his woes.

“It’s certainly tough on Ike. At this level, every player puts an added amount of pressure on themselves when they’re the go-to guys,” manager Terry Collins said.  “Now, with all the focus and all the questions, there’s even more pressure on Ike. And that’s why we’ve tried to take a little bit off with the conversation Sandy [Alderson] had last week in Chicago with him, to try to ease his mind a little bit — ‘Hey, look, focus on the game. Don’t focus on the stuff off the field.’ That’s why I took him out of the fourth hole. He’s got enough heat on him, let alone hit in the fourth hole and struggle.”

If he doesn’t perform, Davis will be sent to the minors. It’s just a matter of time. It may even be an indictment on the Mets that he is still starting at first base, because they just don’t have anyone else.

However, that’s not true either according to Collins, who said they do have options. “Have we discussed them? No, because he’s the first baseman still,” Collins explained.  “But you’ve got Lucas, you’ve got Dan Murphy, you’ve got Justin Turner. We’ve got options. But no one has discussed anything about any replacements yet.”

Even with no true replacement, the Mets have to do something. With Ruben Tejada hitting .211 going into tonight’s game, the team has a bottom third of the lineup with what could be considered automatic outs, which isn’t going to help the team win any games. They can get by with Tejada not hitting because of his defense, but need offensive production out of first base, especially streaky lineup the Mets tend to produce.

What about accountability? Collins came in two and a half years ago preaching the players will be held accountable but what kind of message does it send when you trot Davis out there day after day? What kind of message is it sending to the Mets younger players?

Yet, Davis’s play is screaming “Vegas Baby” and unless he has a huge weekend, won’t be facing his Dad’s former team next week.

And if he goes down, then what’s next for Ike?

“I’ve had a few players of Ike’s stature that came back to the minor leagues,” Collins said. “And I used to tell them: Look, you’ve got 24 hours to be unhappy. And, after that, your job is to get back. You have two choices: They’re either going to be right by sending you down or they’re going to be wrong by sending you down. What do you want to do? Now, we’ve got to go to work. Complain, do all the stuff you want to do for 24 hours. And then we’ve got to get back to work.

“Obviously, in this situation, where we’re going to Vegas, it could be that Ike Davis hits five fly balls and hits five home runs. Does that mean he’s ready to come back? I don’t know. If he is sent out, the reports have got to be his swing is more consistent. He’s driving balls to left field, left-center field, staying on the ball better, not swinging at balls out of the strike zone. Those types of things are the reports you want to hear. But in the development of those types of guys, the first thing you have to do is make sure their mind is right. ‘I got off to a bad start. I’ve got to fix it. Let’s go get it fixed and I’ll get back there.’ …

“Sometimes you send them to a place like Vegas, that confidence will come back in a hurry. I’ve seen some guys go down there and hit the ball pretty good and all of a sudden, ‘Boy, I’m ready now.’ … But in Ike’s case, I don’t want, if something should happen and he goes to Vegas, to look up and have him hit a home run tonight and a home run tomorrow and a home run the next day and all of a sudden say, ‘He’s back.’ I think the process is going to be a little longer than that.”

Well, maybe Davis is an Elvis fan. Viva Las Vegas.

Posted under Bats, First Baseman, Fourth Hole, Homers, Joe Mcdonald, Mets, New York Mets, Pitches, Public Enemy, Public Enemy No 1, Sandy Alderson, Struggle, Tejada, Top Story, Wit

Mets continue to struggle, so does Ike as Reds sweep series

With Matt Harvey on the mound Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field, there was every opportunity for the New York Mets to get a win. But with the team struggling to score runs, Harvey had to be at his best and sometimes in baseball that is hard to do.

Harvey allowed a career high nine hits and left with the fifth no decision in his last six starts. Ike Davis continued to struggle at the plate, and on the field as the Cincinnati Reds completed their second consecutive three-sweep over the Mets at Citi Field with a 7-4 win.

New York scored four runs which snapped a nine-game string at home with three runs or less, but Davis remained hitless in his last 25 at bats with runners in scoring position, with an 0-for-2 day at the plate. That extended his drought to one hit in his last 38 –at-bats.

Adding to the struggles at the plate for Davis was a play at first base in the ninth inning that appeared to be a double-play ball. That resulted in the Reds scoring and breaking a tie, and a three-run inning.

Overall, it seems the Mets can’t get out of a losing pattern when at home. What appears to be going their way turns out different, even the play at first that involved Davis, one that is epitomizing the first few months of his season.

“I could not get the out at home plus I was trying to get off the bag to get in the hole because it was a right hand hitter,” said Davis about the play to first on a ball hit by Brandon Phillips.

He added, “Right before the bounce I thought it bounced foul.  In my head when I thought I saw it bounce foul I put my glove back. I still can’t tell if it was foul or fair on replays. Everything could go wrong for me now, could go wrong.”

To his defense, it was a difficult play to get two outs. But, with the way things have been going for Davis at the plate, the question is, are mental lapses now hindering Davis on the field?

“If it is a chopper, you got to get it,” said Mets manager Terry Collins. “The way things are going that typifies everything that has been happening. He has to try and get the play at the plate. You are not going to get a double play on that. The ball took a tough hop and Ike thought it would go foul.”

“I don’t,” commented Collins regarding Davis possibly taking his struggles from the plate to the field.  “I discussed it with him. Don’t ever take your offense to the field. You’re struggling, make them struggle.”

Davis did reach base twice with base on balls, and in the sixth inning made good contact hitting a ball deep to center that was caught. That renewed some optimism that he could be slowly coming out of a tailspin which hindered him the first part of last season.

“I thought that ball to center might go out, maybe that will get him started,” said Collins, who also added Davis’ walks off Reds starter Mat Latos were a good sign.

Harvey would allow a season high four runs, the second time he has allowed more than three runs in his young career. His start snapped a string of 16 consecutive starts allowing three runs or less. The Mets staked him to a rare lead, a first inning run on consecutive doubles from Daniel Murphy and Rick Ankiel.

“Obviously it wasn’t a good start,” said Harvey. “I had to battle through a couple of things. “I’ll take my 24- hours and move on and get ready for my next start. I wasn’t locating, throwing as many strikes as I wanted to.”

He threw 116-pitches in 6.1 innings, and his next start will come at home against the New York Yankees Tuesday night at Citi Field. The velocity on his fastball was not where he wanted it to be, and Joey Votto reached Harvey for a two-run homer in the third to left field that gave the Reds a 2-1 lead.

Said Reds manager Dusty Baker, who saw his team win their eight of their last nine against the Mets, “  Harvey has god stuff and power pitches. “He pitches a lot older than his experience.

Baker compared Harvey’s [itches to Nolan Ryan, Jon Matlack, Tom Seaver and Gary Gentry, past pitching greats in franchise history of the Mets. “ He’s in that mode,” he said.

In the end it was the Davis play at first and Bobby Parnell out of the pen in the ninth who gave up the deciding runs. Parnell (4-1) got the loss, allowing three runs in an inning pitched. It was the third time in 20 appearances he has been scored upon.

And as the Mets manager said, the record of 17-27, is not the focus of a season quickly going down the drain.

“We got to get caught up on playing the game right and not the record,” said Collins. With one of the better teams in the National League, the Atlanta Braves coming to Citi Field Friday night for three, and four more with the Yankees home-and home, the record is not as important.

Comment Rich Mancuso:  Ring786@aol.com

 

 

 

 

 

Posted under Baseball, Bats, Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds, Citi, Double Play, Game, Mental Lapses, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Play Ball, Replays, Rich Mancuso, Runners, Score, Top Story, Wednesday Afternoon

Reyes’ Batting Crown a Bittersweet, Confusing Moment for Met Fans

In his native Spanish, the surname of New York Mets’ Dominican star shortstop Jose Reyes translates to “kings.”

Somewhat appropriately, Reyes was crowned a hitting king.

Yet, somewhat inappropriately, Reyes acted with anything but the honor a king is normally shown, when he bunted and quickly bolted from the game to secure the 2011 National League batting title in his team’s final game of the season at Citi Field, in Queens, NY, on Wednesday afternoon.

One thing’s for sure. Ted Williams never would have accomplished the feat same the way Reyes did.

Ironically, it was 70 years ago to the day, that the former Boston Red Sox legend Williams decided to risk a .400 season batting average on the final day of the season, on September 28, 1941.

Some advised Williams not to play that day with an average of .39955, which would have officially been rounded up to .400. But, with a much different attitude than Reyes showed seven decades later, Williams thought he didn’t deserve to hit .400 if he sat out.

Williams instead played both games of a doubleheader and went 6-for-8 to finish with a season average of .406, and remain to this day, the last major leaguer to hit over .400 for a season.

On the other end of that spectrum was Reyes, who decided that doing just enough to win a batting title before leaving unceremoniously, was sufficient.

Reyes is of course entitled to use any offensive weapon in his arsenal. Yet, there was something weak about him bunting – rather than swinging away – for a base hit in his first at-bat during the Mets’ 3-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, especially since Reyes subsequently took himself out of the game.

Worse, knowing he had raised his season batting average to a league-leading .337 and that Milwaukee Brewers’ leftfielder Ryan Braun would probably need three hits in no more than four at-bats later the same night, Reyes decided to become a spectator for the rest of the afternoon.

Classy move? No way, Jose – even though Reyes gave the Mets (77-85) their first batting title in franchise history.

There were several better options which Reyes could have followed. The best would have had Reyes trying to get a swinging single or an extra-base hit not only his first time up, but to stay in the game, and try to do the same for a few more plate appearances – the way Williams did in his pursuit of the .400 mark, and the way a batting champion would be expected to do.

And, even if Reyes decided that was still too risky, he could have at least returned to the field to play shortstop for another inning or two, before taking a walk from the Citi Field infield while acknowledging what would surely have been a standing ovation from the 28,816 fans who sat through light rain on a weekday afternoon, in large part to see Reyes for what might have been the last time in a Mets’ uniform.

Instead, Reyes very routinely walked from first base to the Mets’ dugout under a chorus of boos with manager Terry Collins taking the blame from a bewildered and disgruntled crowd for taking out the star the fans came to see.

The free agent Reyes, who makes his home close to Citi Field, on Long Island, has publicly stated that he wants to be a Met, but New York general manager Sandy Alderson expects Reyes to test a free agent market that appears to include a few teams who could be willing to pay Reyes more than the Mets (who are strapped with financial issues) might be able to afford.

Met fans have long been aware of those facts, and it’s partly why they booed Reyes, thinking that if it was indeed the last time Reyes played as a Met, it was no way for him to go out.

Braun went 0-for-4 for the NL Central champion Brewers to finish with a season average of .332, but of course, Reyes didn’t know that when he bunted himself on base on the first inning earlier in the day.

Still, Reyes’ actions were a major disappointment for Met fans.

Rather than truly competing for the batting title like Williams did for the .400 mark, Reyes took the easy, cowardly route to his hitting crown on the season’s final day.

He disrespected the game, Met fans, and himself, even though in his own misguided thinking, Reyes believed that by playing a lone inning while recording no fielding chances at shortstop and a bunt single on what has traditionally been Fan Appreciation Day, he was treating the fans to something special.
“A lot of people told me I shouldn’t play,” Reyes said. “I said, ‘Oh, no. I want to play.’ I want to be there for the fans.”
That statement was obviously laughable.
That’s not to say that ensuring the only batting title in Met history wasn’t significant, but how many Met fans have ever showed up at the park to see any Met, let alone a star like Reyes (in possibly is final game for the franchise), hoping they could catch a glimpse of that player in the field for the first inning, and in the dugout for the remainder of the game?

In the coming months, Mets fans will find out just how much Reyes truly wants to play “for the fans” in New York.

If he works out a reasonable deal with the financially troubled Mets, then this year’s batting title was as Reyes said, as much for Met fans as it was for himself, and those fans would be prepared to forever treat Reyes as the King of Queens.

But, if Reyes takes his batting crown and seeks more riches (in the form of a bigger contract) elsewhere, then like he showed after his last at-bat this year, the batting king will be all about himself while saying goodbye to the fans he so casually treated like peasants on Wednesday.

Posted under Bats, Batting Average, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Dominican Star, Final Game, Jose Reyes, Major Leaguer, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Offensive Weapon, Queens Ny, Ryan Braun, Spectator, Ted Williams, Top Story, Wednesday Afternoon

This post was written by Jon Wagner on October 1, 2011

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2-9 Trip Leaves Mets on a Road to Nowhere

About two months ago, I wrote about the dichotomy that was the New York Mets as Major League Baseball’s winningest team at home while collecting the major’s fewest road victories.

Since that time, little has changed.

The Mets have remained pretty strong at Citi Field, while cooling off just a bit there, going 11-7 since May 27th, to maintain one of MLB’s better home records at 30-16.

The road however, has continued to be unkind to the Mets, as evidenced by a disastrous west coast trip during which the Mets limped home with just a pair of wins in eleven games.

Since that earlier article, the Mets have improved — but only slightly — away from home, going 14-19, putting them at a still dismal 20-33 on the road, overall.

More importantly, the Mets now find themselves in third place in the National League East, looking up at Philadelphia (2½ games ahead of New York) and Atlanta, which now leads the Mets by 7½ games; and, even fourth-place Florida is breathing down the Mets’ necks, sitting just a half-game back.

While the Mets’ pitching has continued to be as consistent as their good play at home, their offense this month has been as promising as their ability to post road wins. Neither can be relied upon.

Even including a six-game homestand prior to the all-star break, the Mets have won just 4 of their past 17 games, scoring more than three runs just four times (three times not counting a bad call in San Francisco) while getting shut out five times over that stretch.

Most of that damage was out west, where if not for a missed call in the ninth inning of what should have been a Met loss to the Giants, the Mets would have won just a single game during their crucial eleven-game swing that saw the Mets score under three runs in seven games.

Not even the return of Carlos Beltran from the disabled list to start that trip nor Jose Reyes’ “re-return” to the top of the batting order could spark the Mets’ silent bats as they wasted several fine pitching performances. The Mets ended the trip without a run over the past 16 innings in Los Angeles, failing to score after the sixth inning in Saturday’s 3-2, 13-inning loss to the Dodgers before getting blanked 1-0 on Sunday.

It was such a poor road trip that it raises several legitimate questions:

At just a game over .500 (50-49), could the Mets, whose season was fairly solid before the all-star break, but which suddenly appears to be on the brink, be sellers instead of buyers this week, as the July 31st trading deadline fast approaches?

Could and should hitting coach Howard Johnson’s job be in jeopardy? At this point, the former Met slugger who had some nice moments as a player, did after all, hit only .249 over his career, and with the Mets in a deep and prolonged team-wide slump, Johnson has failed to get the Mets’ free-swinging and light-hitting offense to change its approach at the plate, as the strikeouts continue to mount at an alarming rate while being offset by far too few walks.

If the Mets don’t start winning soon, how much long might manager Jerry Manuel stay at the helm of his sinking ship? It’s difficult to blame a manger when players can’t hit. Or, is it? It took Alex Cora -– not Manuel -– to lay into the Mets after a loss in Arizona last week after Cora saw his teammates taking on Manuel’s easy-going persona, literally laughing off another loss as if the losing hasn’t been affecting the team much. Fiery managers win, and guys like Manuel win. So, there’s no right or wrong in terms of style, but it’s become clear that Manuel’s style with this Mets team, isn’t working right now.

If the season doesn’t turn around, will the Wilpons consider moving on from the Omar Minaya regime? After falling short in the 2006 NLCS when they should have probably won the World Series that year, the successive September collapses to blow the NL East each of the next two years, and the injury-plagued and poor season both on the field and from a public relations standpoint last year (right, Adam Rubin?), should Minaya be given yet another reprieve if the Mets aren’t at least playing meaningful games during the file week of the season, let alone if the Mets miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season? Minaya has made plenty of good moves, but he’s also left too many holes in the roster, and the underachieving results –- despite having one of the highest annual payrolls in MLB –- speak for themselves.

And, finally, although there have been several different pieces in the past few years placed around the core that has remained, are that core, along with the accompanying compliments simply a mentally fragile team? We’ve seen the Mets produce over the past five seasons when the pressure hasn’t been great. But, when the pressure’s been on, we’ve seen the Mets play tighter than a drum and thus become their own biggest obstacle to achieving success. Game 7 against St. Louis in the 2006 NLCS, and letting the Phillies catch them twice the next two Septembers. Folding like a house of cards instead of at least trying to fight through their myriad of injuries last year. And, now this year, playing well at the friendly confines of Citi Field, yet playing poorly on the road, to the tune of just two series wins (against two last-place American League teams) in 17 road series.

And, let’s throw in one more while we’re at it… how do the Mets’ medical and training staffs remain employed? With all of the misdiagnosing and mishandling of injuries last year, Beltran and Reyes, among others, again missed significant time this year, and now John Maine is out for the season. The only groups who are wrong more often while still keeping their jobs are weather people and at least this year, several MLB umpires.

After a horrid western trip, the Mets will be happy to get back home, but it won’t get a lot easier, as they’ll host the first-place Cardinals on Tuesday. After Arizona then visits Flushing, it’s back on the road to Atlanta and Philadelphia for a couple of three-game sets.

Unless the Mets can bring their Citi Field game to places like that, they’ll continue to travel on a literal road to nowhere and raise a lot of questions as to where others in the organization might be headed.

Posted under All Star, Bats, Carlos Beltran, Dichotomy, Giants, Jose Reyes, Major League Baseball, Mlb, National League East, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Philadelphia, Road Victories, San Francisco, Score, Seven Games, Swing, Three Times, Top Story, West Coast Trip, Winningest Team

This post was written by Jon Wagner on July 26, 2010