Mancuso: Home Sweet Home For The Mets

New York – After a 2-9 west coast road trip where they batted .181 as a team, the New York Mets were happy to see the friendly confines at home Tuesday evening. Citi Field is where they have achieved most of their success prior to the all-star break with a 30-16 mark.

And once again home field advantage was the remedy. The Mets used the long ball, the timely hit, and got a good pitching effort from Jonathan Niese as they took the first of a three-game series over the central division leading St. Louis Cardinals 8-2.

They won also without their manager Jerry Manuel. Prior to the game Manuel was suspended for one game, fined an undisclosed amount arguing a final out in the top of the second inning in a Mets loss out in Los Angeles last Friday evening.

“We needed to do the things tonight to spring back the confidence from that road trip,” said Manuel who handed the managerial duties to bench coach Dave Jauss. “Home field advantage takes the guys to another level,” he said.

Jason Bay who batted .215 on the road trip, striking out 15 times also sat down and it was not because of his continued struggles at the plate. He sustained a minor concussion running into the wall at Dodger Stadium Friday night. That enabled Jeff Francoeur to get a start in right field.

Francoeur has been the odd man out in the four man outfield. And his placement in the lineup paid dividends as he smacked a three-run homer to left center off Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright in the fourth that gave the Mets a 4-1 lead they would never relinquish.

“I want to be here,” commented Francoeur. A subject of trade rumors, he may now have his job back if he continues to slug the ball like he did against Wainwright. “It’s a crazy place to play, a fun place to play,” he said.

For the first time this season the Citi Field crowd saw Carlos Beltran in the lineup. Beltran sliced a double off Wainwright his first time up in the second and would also walk and score a run in the fourth. “He’s the type of player that can take us if he gets hot,” commented Manuel about the way Beltran looked more confident at the plate.

“Our time will come as a team, my time will come,” said Beltran who also hustled and impressed Manuel running from first to third in the fourth. “Those are the types of things we have to do continually,” added Manuel elaborating further that the Mets success at home as opposed to the road, is knowing, how to play their field.

Jose Reyes also hit a two-run homer in the sixth, his 7th, that gave the Mets their final two runs of the evening.  Runs the Mets are not used to scoring, the team’s biggest offensive game since defeating the Nationals 9-5 on July 4th.  Prior to the game the Mets were held to four or fewer runs in 15 of their last 16 games, distancing themselves further from first place Atlanta in the NL east.

Niese, 7-4, went 6.0 innings giving up one run in the first and retired slugger Albert Pujols three times. Pujlos went 0-5 amid reports that he is suffering from a right muscle pull.  The Mets, shutout four times on the road trip also ended a 17 inning scoreless streak in the second inning with the run off Wainwright (14-6) who got the loss.

The run also snapped his scoreless streak at 26.0 innings which tied for the fifth longest in the majors. “We got the runs off a\ good pitcher and that’s a good start,” said Beltran.

A good start at home again for the Mets, a win they needed to perhaps getting them back in the divisional and wild card race.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Adam Wainwright, Bench Coach, Carlos Beltran, Coach Dave, Crazy Place, Dave Jauss, Dodger Stadium, Friendly Confines, Game Series, Home Field Advantage, Home Sweet Home, Jason Bay, Jeff Francoeur, Managerial Duties, Mets New York, Minor Concussion, New York Mets, Niese, Odd Man, Rich Mancuso, St Louis Cardinals, Top Story

Delcos: Five Questions for The Mets

When pitchers and catchers reported Feb. 18, I posted five key questions the Mets faced heading into the season. Let’s revisit those questions at the All-Star break.

1) Question: What is this team’s attitude?

Assessment: By all accounts, it has been superb. There is a different chemistry in the Mets clubhouse than I have previously seen. The Mets have shown a remarkable resiliency to bounce back from adversity and Sunday’s win is just another example. There have been no issues about a lack of hustle, and no finger pointing. Both Jeff Francoeur and Angel Pagan said the right things about the prospect of reduced playing time as Carlos Beltran is about to be activated from the disabled list. The only sour note was, surprise, Oliver Perez’s refusal to accept a minor league assignment, instead, waiting for the disabled list to leave the roster to work on his issues.

2) Question: How healthy is this team?

Assessment: Injuries sabotaged the 2009 season, and injuries have cost Beltran and Daniel Murphy in the first half, and Jose Reyes for nearly a month. Beltran is due back to start the second half, but there’s no timetable for the return of Murphy, who reinjured his knee while on a rehab assignment. Murphy was playing second base at the time in preparation for a position change. After treating Reyes with kid gloves in the wake of his thyroid issue, the Mets rushed him back from an oblique injury, which he aggravated Saturday. There’s no telling how long he’ll be out. Luis Castillo is on the disabled list and his is another injury where the Mets tried to have him play through. Fortunately, his replacement, Ruben Tejada, has been more than filled the void. Reliever Kelvim Escobar, penciled in as a set-up man, is out for the year with a shoulder injury. The Mets are still trying to find an eighth-inning solution. Oliver Perez and John Maine are currently on the disabled list.

3) Question: What is the status of the three pitching questions, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and John Maine?

Assessment: Pelfrey made a point of saying he understood this trio represented a significant key to the Mets’ success this season. Perez and Maine are on the disabled list, but the team upgraded with R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi. Pelfrey was superb for much of the first half but has been going through a dead arm period and has been largely ineffective over his last five starts. Perez balked at a minor league assignment, but an injury was found that conveniently landed him on the disabled list. He has been sound, and somewhat effective, in his rehab assignment. Look for the Mets to activate him shortly after the break and send Takahashi back to the bullpen. There’s no timetable for Maine’s return.

4) Question: Who is fifth starter?

Assessment: Fernando Nieve, Jon Niese, Nelson Figueroa and Hisanori Takahashi were in the mix in the spring, but Niese won the job and has been very good since coming off the disabled list. Niese has been so good that management tabbed him untouchable when Seattle asked for him in trade discussions surrounding Cliff Lee. Figueroa is now in Philadelphia, while Nieve is in the bullpen. Takahashi replaced Perez in the rotation and pitched well at first, but clearly showed he’s more valuable in the bullpen. The Mets are searching for a fifth starter in the trade market, as there are lingering questions about Perez and Maine.

5) Question: What is the make-up of the bullpen?

Assessment: Jenrry Mejia went north in the pen in an undefined role, but eventually went to the minor leagues to work on being a starter, when he was injured. Losing Escobar went a large part in opening the door for Mejia, who threw hard, but never grasped the eighth-inning role. Bobby Parnell, who appeared to wash you last year, now appears to be the arm having the inside track in the eighth inning to start the second half. Ryota Igarashi was the guy at one time, but pulled a hamstring and hasn’t been the same since. He’s now in the minor leagues. Nieve and Pedro Feliciano were over worked early, and still have heavy workloads. The distribution of work should be improved when Takahashi goes back to the bullpen.

John Delcos has covered Major League Baseball for over 20 years, including more than ten in New York on the Yankees and Mets beats. You can read Delcos on his blog, http://www.newyorkmetsreport.com, where he hosts a chat room for each Mets game.

Posted under Attitude Assessment, Carlos Beltran, Daniel Murphy, Eighth Inning, Jeff Francoeur, John Delcos, Jose Reyes, Kelvim Escobar, Kid Gloves, Luis Castillo, Mets Clubhouse, Minor League, New York Mets, Oliver Perez, Pitchers And Catchers, Playing Time, Position Change, Rehab Assignment, Remarkable Resiliency, Shoulder Injury, Team Assessment, Tejada, Top Story

This post was written by John Delcos on July 13, 2010

Mancuso: Mets End A Bright First Half

Four days from now for the New York Mets to think about what is ahead for the remaining 75 games. At the All-Star break they are 48-40 and four games back of the second place Atlanta Braves in the NL East.  They will take it, so will their fans.

An accomplishment because last season at the break the team was 42-45, in fourth place trailing first place Philadelphia by 6-1/2 in the standings. The Mets know they are contending, and know extra help is here with Carlos Beltran coming off the disabled list and making his season debut in San Francisco Thursday evening,

Though Beltran, out since surgery on his right knee, does present some type of dilemma for manager Jerry Manuel. Well sort of, four outfielders and three spots. Someone will have to sit among Jason Bay, Angel Pagan and Jeff Francoeur.

The plan, according to Manuel is to bat Beltran fourth, a spot currently held by the rookie Ike Davis who will be dropped to the sixth spot. And you can’t sit Pagan down, the Mets most consistent hitter who got another three hits Sunday as New York took the final game over Atlanta salvaging their three-game series.

So what will be the situation when the Mets reconvene Thursday for an 11-game three- city trip that also takes them to Arizona and Los Angeles, a trip the Mets say is crucial as the second half begins. The Mets proved to be a good team at home, 30-16 but their fortunes away from Citi Field not as good at 18-24.

“We didn’t want to go onto the break the way we played the past few days,” commented Manuel after another pitching gem by his ace Johan Santana, which ended the first half on a positive note. New York looked lethargic at the plate the past two games against the division leading Braves, and their other pitcher with first half success, Mike Pelfrey, on Saturday once again could not get past the fifth inning.

But Beltran passed through the Mets clubhouse prior to the finale Sunday, afternoon and Santana gave the team an added lift, more so optimism for a good second half. Nothing but a spot for October baseball is what the Mets want. And they believe with Beltran healthy, and the usual second half success of Santana will get them there.

Francoeur was told by Manuel that he would most likely be regulated as a bench player. Occasionally he will get the start in right, that is, if Pagan hits a tailspin and all indications are that’s not going to happen. Pagan is healthy and shows continually, he is a key offensive cog at the beginning of the lineup.

“It’s not my decision,: commented Pagan about the lineup decisions Manuel has to make, He finished the first half with a string of four consecutive multi-hit games and batted .484 with three doubles, a triple, and two home runs since July 4th in a seven game span.

Pagan added he would like to stay in the lineup. Manuel only indicated that Beltran will get the start and Francoeur will probably sit for the moment, but there is every reason to believe that there will be a platoon of Francoeur and Pagan. Jason Bay, who sat down Sunday, on his bobble head give-away day has been an offensive disappointment but his multi-million dollar contract leaves him in the lineup.

It is no problem for Francouer, He will go with the plan, and the return of Beltran will not disrupt a Mets clubhouse that has good chemistry and has looked forward to his bat back in the lineup.  You heard the comments from the players and realize how important it is to win.

“We’re not satisfied to be three or four games out of first place,” said David Wright who entered Sunday tied for the National League lead in runs batted in with 65 and starts at third base for the NL all stars.  “Our goal is to win the division. There is need for improvement.”

Santana has improved and has thrown shutout baseball the last two starts. The fastball is back and it is helping his other pitches. Now the Mets need to get Pelfrey back into form and with R.A. Dickey and Jonathan Niese having good first halves, perhaps GM Omar Minaya will try and get another starter,  to, compliment them before the trading deadline.

There is the possible return of pitchers Oliver Perez and John Maine from the disabled list, one or the other could be going to the pen. It has been the pitching that has put the Mets in this position of contention and they would like it to stay that way.

With or without Francouer in the lineup, they know what lies ahead in the coming weeks and months. Jose Reyes also is a part of the plan and needs to stay healthy as that catalyst in the lineup.

“Obviously it’s a good problem we have, it’s a good thing to see,” said Francoeur about Beltran. A good problem for this clubhouse if indeed, Beltran stays healthy and shows signs of once again being the run producer that the Mets have lacked since April.

Francoeur said he will do his part when he is in the lineup to make sure “this team wins.”  So do the rest of these New York Mets who feel they are on the footsteps of their first postseason since 2006.

Beltran won’t hurt their chances and neither would a platoon of Pagan and Francoeur. Now if Bay can finally find his home run swing the way Santana rediscovered his fastball.

E-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Carlos Beltran, City Trip, Fifth Inning, Final Game, Fortunes, Four Games, Game Series, Jason Bay, Jeff Francoeur, Johan Santana, Mancuso, Mets Clubhouse, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Nl East, Outfielders, Reconvene, Rich Mancuso, Season Debut, Top Story, Two Games

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on July 12, 2010

Audio: Johan Does It Again

Bob Trainor of Trainor Communications offers these soundbites from yesterday’s 3-0 Met shutout of the Atlanta Braves

Johan Santana gave another solid performance going seven and giving up no runs as the Mets closed out the first half on a positive note.

We have full audio coverage below.

Angel Pagan

Jeff Francoeur

David Wright

Jose Reyes

Derek Lowe

Bobby Cox

For More Info contact Bob at TrainorComm@gmail.com.

Posted under Angel, Atlanta Braves, Audio Coverage, Bobby Cox, Contact Bob, David Wright, Derek Lowe, Hhttp, Jeff Francoeur, Johan Santana, Jose Reyes, Mets, Mp3 Audio, New York Mets, Pagan, Soundbites, Top Story, Trainor

This post was written by Bob Trainor on July 12, 2010

These Days There’s Joy in Metsville

Bronx, NY – Jeff Francoeur is enjoying this.

Not only are his Mets on fire, but they are embroiled in a race with his former club, the Atlanta Braves.

“I’ve spoke to [Braves catcher Brian] McCann and the guys,” Francoeur said. “But we are just concerned about winning here. As long as we win, the standings will take care of themselves.”

Winning they have been doing. Eight in a row and 12 out of 13, the Mets have made themselves a force in the National League East, doing it the old fashioned way, by pitching and timely hitting.

It’s true the club went through the dregs of the American League last week and may be catching the Yankees at the right time, as the Phillies put them into a slump earlier in the week, but to a man they will take it.

You play the schedule you are given and remember, no one complained when the Yankees were feasting on Indians and Orioles earlier in the year, nor does anyone in the NL East give the Mets a break when they are forced to play the Bombers six times a year.

All of this doesn’t seem to bother this club.

“It looks like we have a real good team here,” said this week’s designated hitter Chris Carter.

With nine rookies on this club ranging from 20 to 35 years old, they may be too young and inexperienced to realize where this team was picked to finish dead last in the east. Too old and too dysfunctional to be considered a contender, with last Thursday being Jerry Manuel’s witching hours, the two year anniversary of Willie Randolph’s ouster and his ascension to the Mets managerial office.

For a while there, it looked like the prophecy will come true. Just a month ago, Jeff Wilpon took an emergency flight to Atlanta in order to rally his minions, with a firing on the horizon. But Manuel turned it around, first by crushing the competition at home and now becoming the Mets road warriors.

It’s still just June 19th and there’s plenty of baseball left to play, but right now everything seems right in Metsville as the team trails the Atlanta Braves by a half a game, with their best pitcher in Mike Pelfrey on the mound later today at Yankee Stadium.

Now the Mets have a chance to keep it going or as Francoeur said, give him a chance to “kick the bleep out of the Braves the next month.

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Brian Mccann, Bronx Ny, Chris Carter, Contender, Designated Hitter, Dregs, Emergency Flight, Jeff Francoeur, Jeff Wilpon, Joe Mcdonald, Last Thursday, Minions, National League East, New York Mets, Nl East, Ouster, Road Warriors, Rookies, Six Times, Top Story, Willie Randolph, Witching Hours

This post was written by Joe McDonald on June 19, 2010

Audio: Francoeur Fries Fish

Bob Trainor of Trainor Communications offers these soundbites from yesterday’s the Mets 7-6 Come From Behind win over the Marlins.

Jeff Francoeur hit a three run home run in the seventh to complete the comeback after the Mets were down 5-0 in the game. Angel Pagan, who drove in two runs earlier, scored the winning run after Ike Davis grounded into a double play. Frankie Rodriguez closed it in the ninth for the Mets 30th win on the season and the team’s eighth straight win at Citi Field.

We have full audio coverage below.

Angel Pagan

Jeff Francoeur

Jason Bay

Cody Ross

Freddie Gonzalez

For More Info contact Bob at TrainorComm@gmail.com.

Posted under Angel, Audio Coverage, Cody Ross, Contact Bob, Double Play, Fish, Fries, Game, Jason Bay, Jeff Francoeur, Marlins, Mets, Mp3 Audio, New York Mets, Pagan, Soundbites, Top Story, Trainor

This post was written by Bob Trainor on June 7, 2010