The Mets Shined After 9/11

Editor’s Note: This Story First Appeared in the September 2011 issue of Mets Inside Pitch.

The day started out nice. In fact it was a great day to walk my new puppy.

As many dog owners know, once a puppy gets its shots you need to walk it until it does its business outside. Some days it took five minutes and sometimes it took considerably longer.

On September 11, 2011, it took my new dog, Isabella, 45 minutes to… well, you know, and by the time I got back to my apartment in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the World Trade Center was already on fire.

At that time, I was not an intrepid reporter, rather a stock broker struggling through the Internet bubble bursting, trying to eek out a living on Wall Street the best I could. Working in Midtown, my route to work took me past the Trade Center everyday as I got off the bus downtown and then took a subway up to 42nd street where my office was located.

Of course, back then I was a Met fan, a bigger one than I am now, since working in the industry peals back the shiny layers of fandom. And because I am who I am, I was not only a Met fan, but the lightning rod guy who all the Yankee fans in my office chose to pick on after the World Series.

Of course I didn’t get into the office that day. Rather, after I took Izzy home and saw fire on TV, I wisely chose to keep away, watching the events unfold on the television, while seeing the smoke from the Twin Towers rise above the sky overhead outside.

Baseball was the last thing on my mind, and it’s safe to say, the last thing on anyone’s mind. During that day and the ensuring weeks afterward, the events of the terrorist attacks were front and center. Unless children’s television is your forte, all you had was news to watch on the tube. The stock market was closed for the week, and of course baseball was canceled.

And it was a scary time too. The next day, bomb scares in the city were as prevalent as any rumor and  any crazy was taken seriously. Grand Central Station was evacuated, and forget about even getting to lower Manhattan as the ruins of the Trade Center still smoldered in the distance.

It was so bad that it made you wonder if life would ever get back to some sort of normalcy.

Over in Queens, the Mets were busy with the large Shea Stadium Parking lot becoming the staging area for many of the rescue operations.

The Mets were on the road in Pittsburgh during the attacks and stayed there as events unfolded in those first few days.

After the first week, life found a way to regain some sense of normalcy. The stock market opened on September 17th and my office tripled. The main operations building for my firm was located at One Liberty Plaza and that was obviously closed.

And television started programming again. David Letterman made his famous late night broadcast that day and of course baseball started back up.

The Mets stayed in Pittsburgh and switched was supposed to be a home series with the Pirates on September 17th, the first games played since the attacks.  The Amazins were hot making a late season surge after floundering for most of the year. The September run was interrupted when the terrorists attacked and no one knew how that would affect the club.

That night showed many why America was so great. The Pirate fans were actually supporting the Mets. “I Love New York” pins were handed out to all the fans and the Mets decided to wear the baseball caps of the police, fire department, Port Authority and other jurisdictions of heroes that lost members the week before.

In the relative scheme of things, the game didn’t matter, but the Mets won that game 4-1 with John Franco getting the win and the New Yorkers won again, 7-5, the next night backed by a Mike Piazza home run in the eighth.  They swept the Buccos the following night, 9-2 (Go Dickey Gonzalez!), on the 19th setting the stage for the return home that Friday, Sept. 21.

No one knew what this game would mean. Would it just be another regular season game or will the Mets rise higher to the occasion. To cap things off, the club was playing the Atlanta Braves that night, their hated rivals who were en route to another Division title.

Like most of you, I watched the game on TV. That night, there was a collective telethon held on every other station for the victims of the attacks. So this really was the only game to watch.

And it was proper that it was a baseball game. America’s Game. New York’s Game. If football is considered an allegory to war, then baseball is an allegory to life. And nothing is more normal than a baseball game being played in the city.

The Mets, to their credit, did it right. Bagpipers came in and played patriotic music. Mark Anthony presented the National Anthem and Diana Ross crooned God Bless America and Liza Minnelli sang New York, New York. Not a dry eye in the house.

Something  else occurred that night which has never prefaced a baseball game before or since.  The teams lined the bases during the pregame tributes, much like an Opening Day or Postseason ceremony.  But as the National Anthem ended, and the teams broke ranks, instead of returning to their dugouts, both teams gathered around second base, and it wasn’t to initiate a brawl.  They hugged, they shook hands, and exchanged pleasantries, wishing each other’s families well during that fearful time.

And to top things off, even noted Yankee fan and then Mayor of New York Rudy Guiliani received a standing ovation, something he noted was different from any of his other visits to Shea.

Yet as official scorer Joe Donnelly yelled out the time for the first pitch, everything seemed to return to normal. And when Piazza hit that eighth inning homer off Steve Karsay, it lifted the spirits of the city taking its first step back from the terrible tragedy.

And the players knew it was important. Chipper Jones remembered the day recently at Citi Field.

“I didn’t mind [losing] a bit,” said Jones to reporters. “I think each and every one of us will tell you if there’s been one game in our entire careers that we didn’t mind losing, it was that one. You just felt like divine intervention was in New York’s corner that day. We didn’t mind it a bit. We thought it was our duty to go out and take a city and a country’s mind off something terrible that had happened. If it was up to us to go entertain people for three hours, then that was our way of giving something back.”

Sure the Giants opened their season with a ceremony; the Yankees flew the World Trade Center’s flag during the World Series and Mark Messier was introduced on the Garden Ice with a fireman’s hat. But none of those had the impact of the Mets that week. They embellished themselves

Baseball is just a game and in terms of life and death, it really doesn’t matter who wins or loses. But 10 years ago, the Mets and their game played an important part of the healing of New York. No amount of championships can top what the club did that week. They did their part to bring the city back and after September 21st, things started feeling better in the city.

Posted under Bay Ridge Brooklyn, Dog Owners, Fandom, Grand Central Station, Internet Bubble, Intrepid Reporter, Isabella, Joe Mcdonald, Last Thing On My Mind, Lightning Rod, Mets, Midtown, New York Mets, Peals, Puppy, Puppy Dog, Scary Time, Stock Broker, Stock Market, Top Story, Twin Towers, World Series, Yankee Fans

Dice-K Makes Mets Brutal To Watch

You have to hand it to the Mets. Never before has a team crushed the souls of a fanbase like this. In three short days, this went from a season of hope for next year to one of apathetic despair.

But I present to you:

Monday: Matt Harvey gets an MRI and has a tear in his UCL. With Tommy John surgery probable, the hope turns to saddness.

Tuesday: General manager Sandy Alderson trades Marlon Byrd and John Buck for a prospect and a player to me named. Sadness becomes apathy.

Wednesday: If there are any Met fans left who care, Dice-K’s brutal performance pretty much killed that with his 4 1/3 inning masterpiece, which left the sparse crowd looking for lighter fluid and matches. Anyone who watched wanted to immolate themselves.

The Mets are proving the Beatles wrong. It can get much worse. Only two players on the Opening Day roster were in the lineup tonight – Ike Davis and Justin Turner – the rest are retreads or graduates of the Backman Baseball School of Nevada.

I am all for seeing what the young guys can give you, but a month of this? There’s no power, the bullpen is shaky at best and sure there are three good starters in the rotation, but Dice-K is unwatchable and the Mets signed Matsuzaka to prevent Carlos Torres from starting.

Maybe the Mets can bring back Stave Trachsel. That could work.

Or how about this: James Blake is retiring from tennis. He’s a New York Mets fan. He’s in shape and used to the pitching motion.

And did I mention he has some time on his hands.

How about the Mets sign Blake to be the No. 5 starter. At least the team would be interesting and you will get some play about an ex-tennis player on the mound.

Heck, you may open up a new market.

It couldn’t get much worse. Right now, Dice-K’s starts are where baseball joy goes to die.

In all seriousness, the Mets need to keep interest over the next month. They can’t have another September spring training, looking at who will make the team in 2014. Terry Collins job depends on it.

Remember, Collins is signed just through season. By almost all indications, he will be back, but if the Mets really are brutal over the next 30 days and he loses the clubhouse, they may look in another direction.

Furthermore, you have to wonder how much damage the Mets will do to some of these young players if they are exposed to the losing environment.

Young prospects should bring hope and energy, but if there’s no one to lead, it may hurt them even more.

Sure the Mets need innings and yes they need to save their young arms. At the same time, the organization needs to promote a winning atmosphere.

Starting Matsuzaka every five days is not going to do that.

It’s actually sad to see Doc Gooden’s 16 donned by two former pitchers this year.

Where have you gone Dr. K? Flushing turns its lonely eyes upon you.

Posted under Baseball School, James Blake, Joe Mcdonald, Lighter Fluid, New York Mets, Retreads, Sandy Alderson, Season Of Hope, Tennis Player, Time On His Hands, Tommy John, Tommy John Surgery, Top Story, Trachsel

Trade Puts Mets In Evaluation Mode

Maybe the general manager Sandy Alderson should call NY Giants GM Jerry Reese to see if Steve Weatherford is available.

The Mets are punting on this season.

After losing Matt Harvey to a torn UCL, the Mets sent outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck to the Pittsburgh Pirates for minor leaguer infielder Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later.

Clearly the Mets are looking towards next year and moving both Byrd and Buck shows that the organization is in take a look mode. With outfielder Matt den Dekker called up today and Travis d’Arnaud anointed as starting catcher, the club will be seeing what they have in the minors going into the off-season.

And frankly, this had to be done. Buck wasn’t starting anymore and the Mets would be crazy to pay up for Byrd in the off-season. It makes too much sense to get something for the two players.

At the same time, the Mets still want to win some games.

“I don’t think that this deal changes anything,” Alderson said.  “This is a baseball deal. This is a typical deal late in the season — players going to a playoff contender and in this instance the Mets acquiring some future talent. When you juxtapose this deal with the Harvey injury, it’s easy to conclude, well, things have gone south. And, in fact, although this deal and the Harvey injury were coincidental, one of the concerns we had was the sense that, OK, the two of them together might send the wrong message. So to the extent there was any influence from the Harvey injury, it would have been not to do the deal. But we felt this was in our best interest.

“We want to finish as well as we can. But the sense we create on the part of the fans and their confidence in the future also is a function of more than wins and losses. It’s about the talent. It’s about the direction of the team. I think this move will be weighed in that broader sense rather than just how well we do in the month of September.”

Now you have to wonder how these moves will affect Collins future. He is up for renewal after this season and even though the Mets seem to want him back, the manager still has to finish strong.

“First of all, we all want to win as many games as possible,” Alderson said. “My role is to balance the short term with the long term. I have said before and would reiterate that how Terry is evaluated is beyond simply wins and losses. We’ve talked about that before. To the extent that it’s perceived that this will make it more difficult to win, and I don’t necessarily hold to that belief, obviously all the circumstances will be taken into account.”

To Collins, none of that matters.

“I will reiterate the same things I’ve been saying all the summer: This is not about me. This is not about me. This will never be about me,” Collins said. “This is only about our team and that clubhouse and those 25 guys that have got to go out and play every night. And so my job right now is to make sure they understand what is expected of each and every one of those guys. And that they go out and attain that and reach those expectations. That’s all this is about.”

Even with these moves the Mets still have some work to do. Now they are in evaluation mode looking towards 2014.

 

Posted under Baseball, Best Interest, Gm, Jerry Reese, Joe Mcdonald, New York Mets, Ny Giants, Outfielder, Pittsburgh Pirates, Sandy Alderson, Top Story, Weatherford

Trade Puts Mets In Evaluation Mode

Maybe the general manager Sandy Alderson should call NY Giants GM Jerry Reese to see if Steve Weatherford is available.

The Mets are punting on this season.

After losing Matt Harvey to a torn UCL, the Mets sent outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck to the Pittsburgh Pirates for minor leaguer infielder Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later.

Clearly the Mets are looking towards next year and moving both Byrd and Buck shows that the organization is in take a look mode. With outfielder Matt den Dekker called up today and Travis d’Arnaud anointed as starting catcher, the club will be seeing what they have in the minors going into the off-season.

And frankly, this had to be done. Buck wasn’t starting anymore and the Mets would be crazy to pay up for Byrd in the off-season. It makes too much sense to get something for the two players.

At the same time, the Mets still want to win some games.

“I don’t think that this deal changes anything,” Alderson said.  “This is a baseball deal. This is a typical deal late in the season — players going to a playoff contender and in this instance the Mets acquiring some future talent. When you juxtapose this deal with the Harvey injury, it’s easy to conclude, well, things have gone south. And, in fact, although this deal and the Harvey injury were coincidental, one of the concerns we had was the sense that, OK, the two of them together might send the wrong message. So to the extent there was any influence from the Harvey injury, it would have been not to do the deal. But we felt this was in our best interest.

“We want to finish as well as we can. But the sense we create on the part of the fans and their confidence in the future also is a function of more than wins and losses. It’s about the talent. It’s about the direction of the team. I think this move will be weighed in that broader sense rather than just how well we do in the month of September.”

Now you have to wonder how these moves will affect Collins future. He is up for renewal after this season and even though the Mets seem to want him back, the manager still has to finish strong.

“First of all, we all want to win as many games as possible,” Alderson said. “My role is to balance the short term with the long term. I have said before and would reiterate that how Terry is evaluated is beyond simply wins and losses. We’ve talked about that before. To the extent that it’s perceived that this will make it more difficult to win, and I don’t necessarily hold to that belief, obviously all the circumstances will be taken into account.”

To Collins, none of that matters.

“I will reiterate the same things I’ve been saying all the summer: This is not about me. This is not about me. This will never be about me,” Collins said. “This is only about our team and that clubhouse and those 25 guys that have got to go out and play every night. And so my job right now is to make sure they understand what is expected of each and every one of those guys. And that they go out and attain that and reach those expectations. That’s all this is about.”

Even with these moves the Mets still have some work to do. Now they are in evaluation mode looking towards 2014.

 

Posted under Baseball, Best Interest, Extent, Gm, Jerry Reese, Joe Mcdonald, New York Mets, Ny Giants, Outfielder, Pittsburgh Pirates, Playoff Contender, Sandy Alderson, Top Story, Weatherford

Harvey’s Elbow Makes 2014 A Question

This was supposed to be the sign of things to come.

Having Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler in the rotation was supposed to give the Met fans hope that 2014 will be at least a contending year.

And now it all came crashing down.

With the news today that Harvey has a partially torn UCL in his right elbow, the Mets plan is has come crashing down.

Talk about snake bit.

“It was the last thing I expected,” said Harvey, who had an MRI on his right elbow this morning. “I was shocked at the news.”

But signs started on Saturday when he complained of fatigue and discomfort. The Mets took the precaution of an MRI.

“I figure everybody is going to go through a stretch there where you’ve got to battle through some fatigue and some discomfort,” Harvey said after Saturday’s start to reporters. “It’s a long season — 162 games — and you’ve got to push through it. Right now I’m not doing a good job of doing that, and we’ve got to figure something out. The last couple of starts it’s been tough getting out there and getting things going. But, like I said, I’m doing a poor job of pushing through it.

“Everything is a learning process. I’ve never been through this before. So, obviously, paying attention to it and figuring out ways to move past it is all part of learning and growing as a ballplayer.”

Well at least Rex Ryan should be relieved. He’s off the back page.

But what does this do to the Mets plans. Next season was supposed to the year they come back to relevancy. But without Harvey – and if he has Tommy John surgery, he won’t be back until 2015 – the Mets will be searching for the top of the rotation ace that he happily filled this season.

Sure they have pitching depth, but is anyone comfortable with Noah Syndergaard or Rafael Montero filling Harvey’s shoes right away and Wheeler looks like a great 1-A, who needs a Harvey to take the pressure off.

Now, you have to wonder what will happen. Maybe Harvey will be fine and the UCL will heal itself with rest. However, you figure where there’s smoke, there’s fire and Harvey will require some sort of surgery.

And then we may have to punt on 2014.

Such is the life of a Met fan. So close, but so far. You have to wonder if the Mets are paying a penance for Game 6 or that this is the payback for the Wilpons getting away scott-free from the Madoff scandal.

You have to wonder.

Posted under Ace, Joe Mcdonald, New York Mets, News Today, Poor Job, Relevancy, Rex Ryan, Shoes, Snake Bit, Tommy John, Tommy John Surgery, Top Story

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

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

Blister May Hold Harvey Out Saturday

Call it the blister heard around New York.

When word got out that new New York Mets golden boy Matt Harvey may miss a start due to a blister, the Mets held their collective breaths and hoped for the best because without Harvey, New York Mets Tickets may have a problem being moved.

But last night manager Terry Collins downplayed the concern.

“His finger looked tremendous,” Collins said. “I’m very, very happy with what the results after he had it worked on (Monday) night and (Tuesday). He’ll be fine.”

Even more so, the Mets want and may even need Harvey to showcase himself on Tuesday at the All-Star game where the Citi Field Seating Chart will be filled to capacity, so therefore, they may just skip him on Saturday to have him well rested for the All-Star Game.

With his 7-2 record and  2.35 ERA, Harvey is considered the favorite to start the game, although NL Manager Bruce Bochy isn’t saying who he is going to give the nod to.

“I know which way I’m leaning,” Bochy said Monday afternoon. “I’ll leave it at that. But this kid is having a special year and, I know, he’s from New York. All that’s been discussed. I’ll just leave it at that right now.”

Harvey, though, doesn’t seem concerned.

“Whatever they decide is their call,” Harvey said. “I’ll prepare like I have a start.”

The Mets have struggled the fill their new ballpark over the last few seasons, but with a homegrown talent like Harvey, the club is hoping to go back to the days of Doc Gooden or even Pedro Martinez when he first signed in 2005, where the ballpark was filled to capacity and New York Ticket Brokers had bonanzas when the aces pitched.

Highlighting Harvey on Tuesday may move the Mets into that direction.

Even if the Mets decide to let him pitch on Saturday, Harvey will have short leash on him, with a pitch count kept way down, so he can pitch on Tuesday.

He threw a career high 121 pitches Monday night, and there is a growing concern with 130 innings under his belt so far. The Mets are looking to keep their ace fresh in the second half, and also not have him shut down in September.

Last season he threw 169.1 innings between the majors and minors and this season the Mets probably not going to allow their ace more than 220 innings.

“[Pitching Coach] Dan [Warthen] and I are talking about trying to figure out how to start to cut this guy back a little bit,” Collins said. “We’ll have to decide what happens on Saturday.”

If Harvey is skipped the Mets will probably tap Carlos Torres to make the spot start.

Posted under Breaths, Doc Gooden, Homegrown Talent, Joe Mcdonald, New York Mets, New York Mets Tickets, Pitches, Seating Chart, Ticket Brokers, Top Story, York Mets Tickets

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

The Clock Is Ticking for Collins

On the face of it, Terry Collins has done a great job.

Who else could get more out of the Mets, even with them winning seventy some odd games each year.

But after this season, his contact is up and general manager Sandy Alderson will be evaluating the manager after the season to see if he will keep Collins on or go a different direction.

It’s that lame duck situation that makes you wonder if Collins is long for the Citi Field dugout.

Look, I have praised Collins in Inside Pitch over the years and thought he did a tremendous job with many of the younger Mets players. His honest and direct approach was a breath of fresh air after years of clichés (Art Howe), distrust (Willie Randolph) and jokes (Jerry Manuel).

The players seem to enjoy playing for him and many of them like his energetic approach.

And this time around we are seeing a different Collins. When he last managed in Houston and Anaheim, his high octane style eventually wore on the players, and at least at Disneyland, they revolted.

The Mets seemed to have stuck with Terry and even excelled with him. Players like Daniel Murphy, David Wright, and Jose Reyes – when he was here – praised Collins for his approach.

He still hasn’t had a .500 season here and during his first two seasons, he was blessed with a Batting Champion and a Cy Young Winner and the elusive 81 win mark still hasn’t found his way to the door.

This season, Collins has Matt Harvey looking like an ace, commanding the Mets to around the .500 mark, but there’s still plenty of season to go.

And that’s why Alderson wants to wait. If Collins isn’t the right guy for the job with Harvey, Zach Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud on the team, he could look elsewhere, with both Wally Backman in Triple-A and Tim Teufel coaching third base as the leading candidates.

Of course, they could also look elsewhere, especially with nine other managers in their last years as well. If Jim Leyland or Ron Gardenhire hit the market, it may make some sense for Alderson to kick the tires, while re-evaluating their current guy.

So unlike the last two years, where Collins was dealt a tough hand, he now has to show some improvement in 2013. Although Alderson will probably allow his manager the season, he will keep his options open as the Mets look towards 2014.

The clock is ticking.

 

Posted under Batting Champion, Breath Of Fresh Air, Cy Young, Cy Young Winner, Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Dugout, Energetic Approach, Joe Mcdonald, Jose Reyes, Lame Duck, Mets Players, New York Mets, Odd Games, Sandy Alderson, Top Story, Wally Backman, Willie Randolph