The Time Has Come For d’Arnaud

After the 1974 season, the Mets – sensing their catcher Jerry Grote was starting to show his age – needed to find a younger option.

Without any in the organization, the team shipped popular but quirky pitcher Tug McGraw to the Philadelphia Phillies for catching prospect John Stearns, among other players.

Although McGraw went on to pitch in Philly for nine more seasons, the trade worked out as Stearns went on to become a four-time All-Star for the Mets over the next seven years and his tough play made him one of the few reasons to watch the club during those lean years of the late 1970s.

Sandy Alderson is hoping history will repeat itself.

Because this past off-season, the organization shipped popular but quirky pitcher R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays for catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, among other players.

D’Arnaud is supposed to be the real deal, a player that will fit right in with an organization with a history of All-Star catchers. And coming into the year, he looked like he was ready after hitting .333 and 16 homers in Triple-A during the 2012 season.

But after breaking his foot the first month of the year, questions started popping up about d’Arnaud’s health and if he may not be the next big thing for the Mets.

It’s now time, though, to find out. After John Buck came back from paternity leave, the Mets decided to keep d’Arnaud on the roster, optioning Anthony Recker and having their prize in the lineup every day.

“There are six weeks left and we have games against the Braves, Washington, who is still fighting and Cincinnati,” said manager Terry Collins. “We have games against a lot of teams still in the hunt. So we are going to learn a lot. We are going to see a lot of people who player (in the majors) every day. So we will get a nice sample here to see if Travis can handle it.”

In his first four games, the 24 year-old didn’t embarrass himself. Defensively he seems very comfortable behind the plate, and after going 0-10 to start the season, he finally got his first hit tonight.

“The job he did yesterday with Dillon [Gee], and the job he did today, I think his pitch selection is outstanding,” Collins said. “Now that he knows he’s going to be here, I think he’s relaxed more behind the plate, he’s receiving the ball better and, yes, I think that hit is going to make a huge difference.

“He’s got a quick bat, he’s had some good at-bats, but I know that one means a lot to him and I’m really glad he got it.”

That doesn’t mean the kid is embarrassing himself. D’Arnaud also walked five times his first three games, the most in team history and some of those outs were just by a step.

And the Mets know that, which is why they kept d’Arnaud and made Buck his backup, which is fine because Buck has some wisdom when it comes to the National League.

“(Buck) knows this league, especially this division after being in it for the past few years,” Collins said. “He’s here to be a teammate and when he is in the lineup, he will produce.”

No one knows if Buck will be back next year. That’s another decision. The Mets, though, need to find out now if d’Arnaud is the real deal or if he will need more seasoning in the minors.

Posted under Anthony Recker, Four Games, Homers, Jerry Grote, Joe Mcdonald, Lean Years, Mets, Month Of The Year, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Sandy Alderson, Top Story, Tug Mcgraw

The Time Has Come For d’Arnaud

After the 1974 season, the Mets – sensing their catcher Jerry Grote was starting to show his age – needed to find a younger option.

Without any in the organization, the team shipped popular but quirky pitcher Tug McGraw to the Philadelphia Phillies for catching prospect John Stearns, among other players.

Although McGraw went on to pitch in Philly for nine more seasons, the trade worked out as Stearns went on to become a four-time All-Star for the Mets over the next seven years and his tough play made him one of the few reasons to watch the club during those lean years of the late 1970s.

Sandy Alderson is hoping history will repeat itself.

Because this past off-season, the organization shipped popular but quirky pitcher R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays for catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, among other players.

D’Arnaud is supposed to be the real deal, a player that will fit right in with an organization with a history of All-Star catchers. And coming into the year, he looked like he was ready after hitting .333 and 16 homers in Triple-A during the 2012 season.

But after breaking his foot the first month of the year, questions started popping up about d’Arnaud’s health and if he may not be the next big thing for the Mets.

It’s now time, though, to find out. After John Buck came back from paternity leave, the Mets decided to keep d’Arnaud on the roster, optioning Anthony Recker and having their prize in the lineup every day.

“There are six weeks left and we have games against the Braves, Washington, who is still fighting and Cincinnati,” said manager Terry Collins. “We have games against a lot of teams still in the hunt. So we are going to learn a lot. We are going to see a lot of people who player (in the majors) every day. So we will get a nice sample here to see if Travis can handle it.”

In his first four games, the 24 year-old didn’t embarrass himself. Defensively he seems very comfortable behind the plate, and after going 0-10 to start the season, he finally got his first hit tonight.

“The job he did yesterday with Dillon [Gee], and the job he did today, I think his pitch selection is outstanding,” Collins said. “Now that he knows he’s going to be here, I think he’s relaxed more behind the plate, he’s receiving the ball better and, yes, I think that hit is going to make a huge difference.

“He’s got a quick bat, he’s had some good at-bats, but I know that one means a lot to him and I’m really glad he got it.”

That doesn’t mean the kid is embarrassing himself. D’Arnaud also walked five times his first three games, the most in team history and some of those outs were just by a step.

And the Mets know that, which is why they kept d’Arnaud and made Buck his backup, which is fine because Buck has some wisdom when it comes to the National League.

“(Buck) knows this league, especially this division after being in it for the past few years,” Collins said. “He’s here to be a teammate and when he is in the lineup, he will produce.”

No one knows if Buck will be back next year. That’s another decision. The Mets, though, need to find out now if d’Arnaud is the real deal or if he will need more seasoning in the minors.

Posted under Anthony Recker, Four Games, Homers, Jerry Grote, Joe Mcdonald, Lean Years, Mets, Month Of The Year, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Sandy Alderson, Stearns, Top Story, Tug Mcgraw

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

Rayburn and Ordonez Hit Homers to Help the Tigers Edge Mets, 6-5

New York – In a nail biting game at Citi Field on Thursday evening the Detroit Tigers (38-32) defeated the New York Mets (41-30) by the score of 6-5. Despite the loss the Mets were still able to take two-of-three games from one of the American League Central’s best teams.

Mets starter Hisanori Takashi (6-3) could not command the plate today in the loss going 4 innings plus four batters, the lefty gave up eight hits, six runs and four walks while also striking out four batters. Tigers’ starter Armando Galarraga (3-1) pitched well in six innings giving up five hits, four runs, and three walks and striking out one batter. Galarraga looked like he would have another no-hitter but the Mets spoiled his plans in the bottom of the fourth inning.

“The important thing for him (Takashi) is his command” Mets manager Jerry Manuel told reporters after the game. “Overall he has pitched well for us, today though it was just the walks and some hard hit balls, but overall he has pitched well for us.”

Magglio Ordonez had a great day at the plate for the Tigers going 2-for-5 and driving in three runs with two of those runs coming on a long home run to left field. Also having a good day at the plate was Ryan Rayburn who was 3-for-3 with one RBI, while hitting a homer as well.  For the Mets David Wright went 2-for-5 with one RBI, while Jason Bay and Ike Davis also contributed with an RBI each.

The Tigers plated their first run in the top of the first inning as leadoff hitter Austin Jackson worked a walk. Rayburn ripped a single to left field to set up runners on first and second for Magglio Ordonez. During Ordonez’s at bat Jackson and Rayburn would steal second and third to have runners in scoring position for the visitors. The duo of Jackson and Rayburn has now swiped 10 consecutive bags against the Mets without being caught. Ordonez could not cash in as Takahashi got him to strike out swinging. Miguel Cabrera was able to plate the first run one batter later as he lifted a sacrifice fly to center field making the score 1-0 Tigers.

Ryan Raburn would work a walk to start top of the third inning, this was when Ordonez lifted his 10th home run of the season making the score 3-0 in favor of Detroit.

The perfect game was spoilt for the Tigers in the top of the fourth inning as Jesus Feliciano picking up the first double of his career, which was hit over the left fielders reach. David Wright kept the inning alive with a single to left field. Ike Davis grounded into a 6-4-3 double play which scored the Mets first run.

Detroit would answer back in the top of the fifth inning as Raburn would strike with a home run (2) of his own to left field giving the Tigers the 4-1 lead. Back-to-back singles to left field by Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera set the stage for Brennan Boesch who worked a walk to load the bases for Brandon Inge. Mets manager Jerry Manuel then called for righty Elmer Dessens to try to stop the bleeding, but Dessens could not do so at first as he walked Inge which scored the fifth Tiger run. The relief pitcher was able to get Gerald Laird to hit a fly ball to right field before inducing the force out by Danny Worth. Even though there was an out recorded on that play, as Detroit took a 6-1 lead.

In the bottom of the sixth inning that lead would not stand as Jose Reyes worked the walk to start the inning. Jesus Feliciano singled to right field setting up runners on first and second for David Wright who ripped a double (21) to left field cutting the Tiger lead to 6-2. Ike Davis plated the second run that inning as he was able to hit a grounder to the shortstop which plated Feliciano. Jason Bay ripped a single to center field which would make the score 6-4 in favor of the Tigers.

The Mets comeback would not end there as the drama mounted in the bottom of the seventh inning relief pitcher Ramon Santiago would start by hitting Ruben Tejada with a pitch and throw a wild pitch during Chris Carter’s at bat, which moved Tejada over to second base. Carter would cash that run in with a single to right field and make the score 6-5. Tiger manager Jim Leyland would call for former Yankee reliever Phil Coke to slow down the momentum. At first it seemed as if it would not be successful as Feliciano was able to hit an infield single, but the Mets could not cash in as David Wright struck out and Ike Davis flied out to end the inning.

“One of the characteristics of the team is our ability to come back,” Manuel said. “They felt like they can come back on any given night and they kept fighting and I really liked the fight that I had seen from them tonight.”

Both the Tigers and the Mets had chances during the course of the game. The Mets had chances to get the tie and the win, as well as the Tigers having a chance to add on to their lead. In the end though both bullpens did the job of shutting down the other teams offense and the score would stand at 6-5. Pitcher Jose Valverde converted his 17th straight save opportunity tonight, which dates back to April 9, 2010.

Up next for the Mets is a three game home stand against another tough American League Central foe as the Minnesota Twins come into town. The first game on Friday features Minnesota starter Kevin Slowey (7-4, 4.58 ERA) taking on the Mets ace Mike Pelfrey (9-2, 2.69 ERA) with the first pitch slated at 7:10 p.m.

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Injury Update:  Mets catcher Rod Barajas did not start tonight with a stiff back and Angel Pagan is day-to-day with a muscle spasm.  The team has recalled catcher Josh Thole from Buffalo and optioned lefty Raul Valdes to Buffalo.

“The move was made earlier in the day,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said after the game. “We wanted to make sure that we were protected and there is a good chance that Thole will start tomorrow.” He continued by saying, “We need to protect our catchers they have been vital to our success and we need to make sure that we are protecting them.”

This story originally posted on www.latinosports.com

Posted under American League Central, Armando Galarraga, Balls, Batters, David Wright, Detroit Tigers, Homer, Homers, Jason Bay, Leadoff Hitter, Lefty, Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera, New York Mets, Rbi, Runners, Ryan Rayburn, Takashi, Three Games, Top Story, Walks

This post was written by Stacy Rae Podelski on June 25, 2010