Despite Win, Everyone is Talking Minaya and Manuel

NEW YORK-  There were multiple reports coming from Citi Field Friday evening that team general manager Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel will be replaced when the season concludes Sunday afternoon. The moves have been rumored for the past month.

With the Mets once again finishing their second season at Citi Field below the .500 mark, there is every reason to believe there will be a new regime running the show next April.  Prior to the start of a three game season finale series with the Washington Nationals, won by the Mets 2-1 in 10 innings, Manuel was asked about reports he would not be returning next season,

“I have not discussed anything,” said the Mets manager regarding his situation. The talk about Manuel not returning for a third year has been a constant topic of discussion since the all-star break. “Nothing has been told to me,” he said,

He added “Just like every year you discuss it, you discuss it at the end of the year. I haven’t been told anything.”  Though Manuel may have not been told anything about his status there is every reason to believe his regime with Minaya will conclude Sunday,

Minaya, general manager since 2004 has seen minimal results during his tenure. The Mets once again this year, with high expectations and third highest payroll in baseball, failed to make the postseason again since their 2006 loss in the National League Championship Series to the St Louis Cardinals.

On the field the Mets tried to play for something as they finish out the string. Against the last place Nats, starter Pat Misch went eight innings, gave up three hits and struck out 10.  Michael Morse hit a solo home run to center in the seventh, the lone run surrendered by Misch that tied the game at 1-1.

“I know I can pitch,” commented Misch (0-4) who did not figure in the decision, “Obviously the record doesn’t show it and maybe the numbers aren’t the greatest.” Manuel, speaking like he will be in control next season said, “He can possibly give the organization some depth next year.”

The game stayed at 1-1 until the bottom of the tenth when catcher Josh Thole hit a 3-1 pitch to the right field stands that gave New York a 2-1 win. It was the third home run for Thole as the Mets got another walk-off win. It was their fourth hit of the game off Nationals Tyler Clippard (11-7) tagged with a loss out of the pen.

“I didn’t know what to do when I got to home plate,” said Thole. As was the case with rookie Ruben Tejada, who got a walk-off wining double against the Brewers Tuesday night, Thole was mobbed by teammates when he reached home.

It was his first ever game winning home run. Thole is projected to be the Mets starting catcher next season. “Just wanted to get out of here with a win and get out of here on a positive point,” he said about the win and final games of the season.

They are playing out the string, the Mets are. Manuel is still in control as is Minaya, at least until Sunday. The final two games won’t make a difference as the Mets even with a sweep over the Nationals will have their second consecutive losing season finishing under .500.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under All Star, Baseball, Friday Evening, Game Season, High Expectations, League Championship Series, Mets, Michael Morse, Minimal Results, National League Championship Series, New York Mets, Omar Minaya, Pat Misch, Payroll, Regime, Season Finale, Second Season, St Louis Cardinals, Sunday Afternoon, Tenure, Top Story, Washington Nationals

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on October 2, 2010

Snakes Continue To Bite Mets

New York – Last week at Chase Field in Phoenix Arizona the Diamondbacks handed the New York Mets a three-game sweep. That continued, in what would be a dismal 2-9 west coast trip for New York that had them looking for redemption at Citi Field Friday evening,

However, Mike Pelfrey continued to have his first inning struggles and Arizona picked up where they left off last week taking the opening game of a three- game weekend set 9-6. Another loss for the Mets that left them at 52-51, 7-1/2 games behind first pace Atlanta and in a fourth place tie with Florida in the NL East.

It is starting to get dismal at Citi Field.  And the Mets also have to wonder what has happened to Pelfrey who surrendered three runs in the first inning. The Mets would get even in their half of the first on the first of two home runs from David Wright. It was a three- run blast off winning pitcher Ian Kennedy (6-8).

As for Pelfrey (10-5) who failed to get the decision, the Mets have to hope their right hander can return to form if they have any chance of making the postseason. And once again the Diamondbacks had his number, 0-5 in his last seven starts against them. In his last start at Arizona on July 19th he threw 51 pitches in the first inning and was removed after getting four outs in the shortest outing of his career.

“Everybody else in the rotation has been throwing the ball great and I’ve kind of taken a step back from early in the year,” said Pelfrey. In his last six starts, he’s worked 25.1 innings, allowing 54 hits, 28 runs, 27 earned with 14 walks and 13 strikeouts.

“I definitely plan on getting this thing turned around and back on track so we can plan on winning some games,” he said.  Mets manager Jerry Manuel said adjustments will have to be made. There is the high pitch count, “still confident we have a young pitcher and don’t think it’s demoralizing,” said Manuel about his starter.

Wright drove in five runs and with his second home run in the third off Kennedy, 17th of the year with two on, gave the Mets a 5-4 lead. After retiring seven straight D-backs with one out in the sixth, Kennedy reached first on an error from shortstop Jose Reyes.

“A routine ground ball, I have to make that play,” said Reyes who extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the first. Pelfrey after throwing 118 pitches had a chance to win. Enter Raul Valdes (2-3) who failed to retire the four batters he faced. The home run to center off the bat of Kelly Johnson gave Arizona a 6-5 lead.

Two more singles and on the 14th pitch thrown by Valdes, Miguel Montero hit a home run off the second deck in right field, a five-run Diamondbacks inning that helped his team snap a seven-game losing streak. “I’m swinging  at better pitches, I think,” said Montero about his fourth home run.

As to why the Diamondbacks have the Mets number, he said, “I honestly don’t know; it’s just baseball I guess.”  Montero has hit two home runs and driven in six in his last two games. Thursday evening he connected against the Phillies and has now hit a home run in consecutive games for the second time this year.

Manuel said it was the right situation for Valdes who warmed up in the pen four times before coming in. “It was a good match up in that situation,” said Manuel about the home run ball thrown to Johnson.

But the Mets still have two more games with the Diamondbacks and have to figure out how to take this series against the second worst team in the National League. If not the road trip next week against Atlanta and the surging Philadelphia Phillies could determine their season.

“Anytime one or two of their hitters gets hot they can give us trouble,” explained Manuel about his team troubles with Arizona.

Notes:  Before the game outfielder Jason Bay was laced on the 15-day disabled list from the minor concussion he sustained crashing into the outfield wall out in Los Angeles last Friday evening. The Mets recalled outfielder Jesus Felicano from Triple- A Buffalo.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Chase Field, Citi, David Wright, Diamondbacks, Friday Evening, Game Sweep, Game Weekend, High Pitch, Home Runs, Mets New York, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Nl East, Number 0, Phoenix Arizona, Pitches, Place Tie, Right Hander, Top Story, West Coast Trip, Young Pitcher

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on July 31, 2010

Mets get another series opening win against Twins

New York – When they get to the dog days of August and the September stretch, the New York Mets will certainly know that winning the first game of a series was important, And it certainly looks like the Mets could have an interesting final two months of the season based on what has been happening as June nears a conclusion.

Friday evening at Citi Field, with starter Mike Pelfrey on the mound, New York improved to 16-9 in the first game of a series with their 5-2 win over the Minnesota Twins. They have won seven straight series openers, 11-2 at their home park.

But when Denard Span hit a game leadoff home run on a 0-1 pitch, the ball traveling and going over the 358 sign in left, Pelfrey made it look like it would be a struggle, from the onset for the Mets to get another opening series win.

“I stayed in there and kept trying to grind,” said Pelfrey (10-2) who got the win in six innings of work. He allowed two runs and six hits and did not walk a batter in getting his sixth win in nine starts at home.  “It was tough” said Pelfrey because that leadoff home run by Span, his third, may have been hard to overcome.

The Twins in a battle for first place with Detroit in the American League central, ahead by a half game coming in, are a tough team to retire. “That team is very good,” said Pelfrey who threw 117 pitches. “They made me work out there and fouled off a lot of pitches.”

But one thing about this Mets team is their resilient approach to come from behind. They did it again against Twins starter Kevin Slowey. They scored three runs in the fourth started by a Jose Reyes soft single, later scoring on a David Wright RBI double.

So Pelfrey had the lead, and the Mets once again played small ball and errorless baseball. Wright would also hit a solo home run in the sixth, off Slowey that gave the Mets their fifth run, his 13th of the season, and with two more runs batted in has 37 in his last 37 games.

“I’m in a good spot right now, I feel good,” said Wright who came into the game leading the National League in RBI.  “He seems very confident at the plate at this time and that’s a good sign for us,” said Mets manager Jerry Manuel about the resurgence of Wright who hit his third home run at Citi Field this season.

And it is the small ball that has the Mets also feeling confident. They remained a half game behind first place Atlanta as they play game two of the series Saturday afternoon with ace Johan Santana on the mound.

“Small ball in a big ball park” said Manuel.  He added, as was the case in this game, “We won’t give them the momentum,” meaning his team which got their 11th come from behind win of the season will stay competitive when they don’t score first.

GAME NOTES FROM THE METS:   Carlos Beltran went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk as the designated hitter with St. Lucie of the Florida State League in his second rehabilitation assignment.   Outfielder Angel Pagan, day-to-day with a muscle pull said he feels better and may be in the lineup Saturday.

“Tomorrow I am going to swing and see what happens,” commented Pagan who said that rest, treatment and exercise were a part of the regiment the past two days. Pagan has missed the last two games and is rumored to be a player in a possible trade that would bring pitcher Cliff Lee to the Mets…

Ruben Tejada a natural shortstop, and at second, for the injured Luis Castillo is playing the position well and also connecting at the plate. He extended his hitting streak to nine games with a double in the fifth inning and the streak is the second longest for a rookie in the major leagues this season.

“He is playing with confidence and I am surprised about his ability to play second base,” said Manuel about his rookie that is part of a Mets home grown infield that includes Wright at third, Reyes at short, and Ike Davis at first….

Jason Bay may once again be seeing the ball better and his ability to drive in runs makes the Mets lineup that more potent, as was expected when he was picked up in the off-season. “He’s one of those guys that when he gets hot he gets going,” said Maunel. Bay had a run scoring double in that third inning and has driven in two in the last two games….

With three more scoreless innings of relief the Mets pen has pitched 21.1 scoreless innings dating back to the eighth inning on June 17th, allowing 15 hits, walking seven and striking out 25.  Francisco Rodriguez got his 17th save though giving up two singles in the ninth. He also is having some stiffness in his back which prompted Manuel to see him on the mound

Rodriguez admitted it has been something he has been dealing with and he recently took a anti-inflammatory shot. Manuel sees no reason for concern though speculation persists that the Rodriguez failure to get through an easy inning may be attributed to the stiffness.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under American League Central, Baseball, Conclusion, David Wright, Days Of August, Dog Days Of August, First Game, Friday Evening, Home Park, Jose Reyes, Lead, Mets Team, Mike Pelfrey, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, Pitch, Pitches, Span, Straight Series, Struggle, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on June 26, 2010

Mets Tame The Tigers Behind Reyes and Dickey

New York -   R.A. Dickey could have completed the game and after eight innings Wednesday evening at Citi Field he had the ability to do so. The knuckleball was working, and so was the fastball. But New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel had another intention. Bring in closer Francisco Rodriquez for the ninth even though the Mets had a 5-0 lead over the Detroit Tigers.

“I know that we have to keep Frankie on some type of game regimen and it’s a difficult, difficult decision that you have to deprive a guy of a complete game shutout,” said Manuel about his decision. Dickey once again was superb throwing 97 pitches, allowing four hits and two walks.

He retired 13 consecutive Tiger batters from the fourth inning on.  Again Dickey, now 6-0 proved he will have to be forced out of the Mets starting rotation. And the only way that will happen is if Dickey suddenly loses control of the knuckleball which had the Tigers struggling.

“He’ll have to have a number of bad outings to take him out of the rotation,” admitted Manuel. The 35-year old Dickey who was bypassed in spring training after signing a minor league deal has come up big. He is one of the reasons the Mets are back in contention, and got a spot in the rotation when Oliver Perez and John Maine went on the disabled list.

But why not let Dickey go the route and use your closer with a secure lead in the ninth?  “If we don’t do that,” said Manuel about using Rodriguez, “we fall back into a category of not having him sharp and he needs to be sharp. And we found out if he doesn’t get those innings it becomes very difficult for him to close out games.”

Perhaps the correct answer from Manuel, because the last appearance for Rodriquez out of the pen was last Friday evening when he recorded his 16th save against the Yankees where he stranded two inherited runners. Rodriguez also made it known before the game, to Manuel that he needed to pitch It was a decision that Dickey accepted when he did not go out for the ninth, even though he would have loved to have finished off the Tigers.

Said, Dickey “I was unsuccessful,” regarding his request to Manuel about taking the mound for the ninth.

But this is a Mets team, and a clubhouse that is unified and will do anything positive that will lead to another win. “Keeping Frankie sharp is going to win us ballgames,” said Dickey the first Mets pitcher to go 6-0 in his first seven starts with the team.  It was also the Mets major league leading 10th shutout of the year and Dickey has allowed two or fewer earned runs in five of his seven starts.

The Mets, now 11 games over .500 at 41-30 also picked up a game on the Atlanta Braves now trailing them by a half game in the NL east. And once again the Mets got on the board early because of Jose Reyes. He led off the first inning with a triple, but his single and stolen base in the third led to a run off the double from David Wright giving them a 1-0 lead.

New York would add another run in the fifth off Detroit starter and loser Jeremy Bonderman (3-5). They would put three more runs on the board in the seventh. And Reyes, like Angel Pagan the night before, fell short of hitting for the cycle. Besides the single and triple, Reyes hit a two-out solo home run off Bonderman in the fifth, his sixth of the season.

“I feel like I am back for sure,” said Reyes reiterating that he has rebounded from his injury shortened season of last year.  He has scored at least one run in 11 of his last 14 games, and the Mets are 28-7 when Reyes scores at least one run.

Surly he is the catalyst, as has always been known to the Mets lineup.

NOTES:  Angel Pagan who had four runs batted in the night before and was a home run short of the cycle was removed for a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. Jesus Feliciano replaced him and got his first big league RBI on fielder’s choice induced by a groundout.

There is a concern that Pagan, the most consistent hitter in the Mets lineup, could miss some playing time because of spasms in his right side. Manuel will sit down Pagan in the series finale Thursday evening.  “I’ve played through pain before,” said Pagan. “This situation I am trying to be smart to keep playing,” he said realizing that Carlos Beltran will return soon and the Mets will have three spots and four outfielders More so for precautionary reasons…

With the win, the Mets improved to 11-3 in inter league play…David Wright with his RBI, 19 in inter league play, leads the majors in that category… The Mets scored four of their five runs with two outs including a two-out, two-run single by Ike Davis in the seventh…

New York is 26-10 at home and 12-2 over its last three homestands…Ruben Tejada, rumored to be sent down soon when Luis Castillo returns from the disabled list extended his career high hitting streak to seven games with a single in the Mets three-run seventh, He is batting .348 during that span…

Series finale will see (2-1) Armando Galarraga, the near perfect game pitcher taking the mound for Detroit opposing Lefthander Hisanori Takahashi (6-2, 3.13 ERA) who threw six scoreless innings against the Yankees Friday evening…

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Batters, Complete Game, Contention, Correct Answer, Detroit Tigers, Difficult Decision, Fastball, Francisco Rodriquez, Friday Evening, Game Shutout, Knuckleball, Last Friday, Minor League Deal, New York Mets, Oliver Perez, Pitches, Regimen, Runners, Spring Training, Top Story, Wednesday Evening

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on June 24, 2010