Right now the outfield combination is a guess that works for the Mets

New York – Friday night at Citi Field in the New York Mets outfield, Mike Baxter got the start in right field, Lucas Duda was in left, Jordany Valdespin in center. It has been common not to expect the same everyday outfield combination in the lineup put together by manager Terry Collins.

It could cause some issues, but not in the Mets clubhouse. Everyone seems to be content with their playing time. What matters most, Collins is trying to find the right combination that can produce some runs in the lineup. And, if Valdespin keeps coming off big, as he did Wednesday night with a walk-off game winning grand slam home run, he could be in the outfield every day.

However, Collins will not commit to who plays where. As he makes out the lineup a lot has to do also with righty against lefty, and who may have the upper hand. Except Mets fans are becoming acclimated to seeing Valdespin come up big, who can also fill some holes in the infield.

“I took the one guy who has a .400 on base in Mike Baxter and said if we can get him on, we got a guy at number 2 who can handle the bat, and hit behind runners, and hit in the holes and bunt and do the little things,” commented Collins about inserting Baxter in right at the top of the order Friday night.

Baxter was followed in the order by Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy, and David Wright, and then came Duda.  The Mets come to the ballpark and it does matter where, when, or if or not they are in the lineup.

The outfield has learned to work as a unit and in the end it comes down to winning ballgames.

Yes, Sandy Alderson, the general manager suggested to Collins to insert Wright fifth in the order.  The Mets captain, before getting injured, drove home 10-runs in the World Baseball Classic. The outfield, though, that is the discretion of the Mets manager.

“He led off for us last year, he knows what he is doing,” said Collins about inserting Baxter in that role Friday night as the Mets dropped the first of a three-game series to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Baxter struck out once and went hitless in four at bats. In the third inning, he also lost a ball in right field that was ruled a double of the bat of Lance Nix.

“It was the twilight out there, hard to read,” commented Baxter about the mixed ball. He said it had nothing to do with the limited playing time out in right, or coming off the bench as a role player.

As for going hitless at the plate, Baxter and the Mets can blame Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick who shut out the Mets for the first time this season limiting them to three hits. Kendrick did not allow a runner to second base after the first inning.

Simply put, Collins is aware that he has to get his guys playing time and find a proper role for them. Baxter, as with rookie Juan Lagares, will get the time. The 24-year old Lagares of the Dominican Republic was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas Tuesday and recorded his first Major League base hit coming off the bench.

The attitude of Lagares, it fits in with the rest of that crowded outfield. “I am going to try and be here and do whatever they need me to do here, come here to work hard everyday  ” he said after getting his first start in center Wednesday night against the Dodgers.

But in a matter of time, Collins and the Mets should have that outfield set. In the meantime, when the Mets outfield arrives at Citi Field early Saturday morning for another game with the Phillies, as has been the case, they will look on the board and see if their name is in the starting lineup.

“We will come out tomorrow and give it another try,” said Baxter.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

Posted under Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Dro, Lefty, Mets Clubhouse, Mets Fans, Mets New York, Mike Baxter, New York Mets, Outfield, Playing Time, Right Combination, Ruben, Runners, Sandy Alderson, Tejada, Top Story, Wednesday Night

Not everything was great out of the pen for Francisco in a close call as Mets beat Braves

Jonathon Niese was cruising along at Citi Field Sunday night. The New York Mets starter pitched eight effective innings, allowed one run and struck out six Atlanta Braves. And then the call to the bullpen and everything went wrong, but, according to closer Frank Francisco, everything went right.

Francisco, who has had his problems closing games, making his second appearance since coming off the disabled list Friday, was ineffective. He walked two with the bases loaded in the ninth, and gave up a two-run double to Martin Prado.

He squandered a 6-1 lead, could not find the strike zone and gave the ball to Jon Rauch with the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second. Afterwards, as the Mets dressed and left town with a 6-5 win, losing two of three to Atlanta, Francisco could not be serious.

“They wore me out a little bit, and I’m a little bit out of shape,” said Francisco. That was the serious part. After that, you wonder how much Francisco is serious about being an effective closer.

A major part of the Mets second half collapse has been their inability to drive in runs with two outs, and ineffective starting pitching. Sunday night, Niese (9-6) bounced back from a bad outing against the Marlins on Tuesday.

As the Mets did so effectively in the first half, Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis drove in a run apiece with two outs. Thursday, in their only win against the Marlins, R.A. Dickey got the complete game win, his 15th, and New York drove in five of their six runs with two out hits.

Jordany Valdespin continued to make an impression with manager Terry Collins. Inserted in left field, Valdespin hit a solo home run in the sixth inning, his eighth off losing pitcher Ben Sheets (4-2) that built a 5-1  lead. Collins intends to give him more playing time.

“I appreciate the opportunity to be given the chance and show why I can play here,” said Valdespin about a role in the outfield and also being used in the infield.

However, a constant for the Mets woes is having the most ineffective pen in the game. Before Francisco got the ball, rookie Josh Edgin got the call. He walked two and hit a batter. Francisco could not get the third out and Rauch put out the fire when Jason Heyward swung and missed a slider in the dirt.

But, according to Francisco, the Mets got a win and everything is alright.

The closer, after his comments Sunday night may be the laughing stock of New York baseball. He could not provide the proper answer as to his inability to throw strikes, and make it easy for his manager Terry Collins and those left in the crowd of 24, 891.

“We got a win, that’s the important thing, “commented Francisco about his shaky outing. And then, he ridiculed media by his locker when he said, “It was easy. I’m a bit out of shape. I just got tired. I feel great. You know why, I feel good. That’s it, no more questions?”

Of course, no more questions because Francisco can’t give the answers. Niese watched from the dugout hoping it was not another collapse.

“That was tough,” he said. “I can’t sugarcoat that by any means. But they got the job done,” commenting about the pen, “and that’s all that matters.”

And Collins, looking forward to a day off in Cincinnati Monday, before New York begins a three-game series with the NL Central leading Reds, needed the win. Then it is three more at NL east leading Washington.

It was the Mets ninth win in their last 30 games that has put them out of contention.

“We needed this, we have not played well,” said Collins. “I am not making any excuses. We have not played well on any side of the ball. So this win helped. I don’t care how It came about. I’m glad to get it.”

And for Francisco, apparently he does not care how the win came. The Mets won, however, their closer, ineffective as he was, said he feels good. Though Mets fans, and Collins can’t continue to have that good feeling about his inability to close games.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com and at facebook.com/Keep It in the Ring.

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Bullpen, Collapse, Complete Game, Jonathon Niese, Marlins, New York Mets, Outfield, Playing Time, Second Half, Sixth Inning, Strike Zone, Tejada, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on August 13, 2012

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More from Citi Field on Getaway Day

So a few hours after we left Citi Field, after a Mets rain delayed and 13- inning win over the Oakland Athletics, Wednesday night into Thursday morning, it was back to normal. Another rain delay that moved the first pitch from the scheduled 1:10pm start to 3:25pm. Do the math right and that is a two-hour and 15-minute delay for everyone at the ballpark. They have to wait and wait.

Because of the interleague schedule, it is difficult to reschedule games. Teams try to avoid the old fashioned doubleheader, but it is getaway day and the Mets are headed to Texas immediately after the game. Oakland with the short hike to Philadelphia, and we heard the contingency plan, had the game been scrapped, Oakland returns to New York next month and again in August for scheduled games with the Yankees in the Bronx. So the A’s could have made a one game trip to Citi Field. Of course, that was all subject to approval…

With another good crowd assembling, advanced tickets and a walk-up the Mets awarded fans for their patience. Tickets from the Thursday game can be redeemed for complimentary tickets to the Mets August 11, Thursday afternoon Matinee game against the San Diego Padres. It includes paid, complimentary and tickets marked “No rain Check.”

One of the great parts of a rain delay is to catch up with some of your friends in the business. Mets radio broadcaster Wayne Hagin has been in the game for 26 years. Prior to the Mets he was with Oakland, San Francisco, Colorado and the St. Louis Cardinals. So he knows a little more or something about the game and a rain delay.

As the grounds grew took the tarp off the infield, Hagin observed the continued delay as the rain seemed to stop. The drying agent was put on the infield. No announcement has been made as to when the game would begin. So Hagin gave the answer looking towards the outfield bullpen areas.

“Look out there,” he said. “Do you see a pitcher warming up?” Meaning that the go-ahead for starting pitchers Graham Godfrey of the A’s, and Chris Capuano of the Mets to throw in the pen indicates that a first pitch would be thrown in a matter of a half hour or less. Hagin was right on the money. But he was more concerned about Mets travel plans to Arlington Texas. Rain delays on getaway day play with the travel schedule.

Said Hagin, “Takes a long time to move a team to the next city. Fans would be surprised.” That would mean rearranging the departure time, security checks at the airport, and making sure that the hotel rooms are booked for the team and personnel.  The team Traveling director and equipment managers have a more difficult job to make sure everything is in place.

Hagin and those traveling get an extensive itinerary that informs departure times to and from the airports, hotels, and ballparks. But once Hagin is up in the air, after a long day he sits back with some of his on air colleagues. “I have a glass of wine and fall asleep,” he says…

The Justin Turner walk-off winning run of Wednesday, attributed to be hitting by a pitch from losing pitcher Brad Ziegler apparently was something that had the Athletics talking until they reached the ballpark Thursday morning Turner was hit in the same spot, in the left thigh, by Godfrey in the first inning. There were no warnings issued by the umpires, Turner and Mets manager Terry Collins downplayed any talk about it being a retaliation pitch…

Angel Pagan is struggling again batting .242, looking like he was before he went on the disabled list on April 22nd.  He struck out, was retired on a fielder’s choice and flied out to right field…As for Jason Bay, after an 0-for-5 evening before and batting in the cleanup spot, he was dropped to the sixth hole, going 1-for-4…

David Wright on the disabled list since 18 with a stress fracture in his lower back has, been cleared to resume baseball activities. In other words the Mets could see their third baseman back in the lineup within three or four weeks. General Manager Sandy Alderson said the rehabilitation will be a “several week process.”

The CT scan Thursday gave Wright clearance and he will report to the Mets team complex in Port St. Lucie Florida to begin the process of returning to the lineup. That was good news because Wednesday it was reported Ike Davis, out with a left ankle sprain and bone bruise will need three more weeks to recover, and if Davis can’t do it,  there is every consideration the first baseman will opt for season ending surgery,,

Until the second installment of the Subway Series with the Yankees, next Friday evening, Citi Field will be ready. By the way, there are tickets still available.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Afternoon Matinee, August 11, Contingency Plan, Drying Agent, Game Trip, Games Teams, Getaway, New York Mets, Oakland Athletics, Outfield, Radio Broadcaster, Rain Check, Rich Mancuso, San Diego Padres, St Louis Cardinals, Tarp, Thursday Morning, Top Story, Wayne Hagin

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on June 24, 2011

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Mets Open Hall of Fame To New Members

Flushing, NY – In a belated attempt to address criticism from fans that the New York Mets have ignored the team’s history since moving into Citi Field in 2009, the Mets inducted four new members on Sunday, August 1.  Frank Cashen,  Dwight Gooden, Davey Johnson and Darryl Strawberry, into its Hall of Fame. The four all represent the resurgence of the team in the 1980′s and the club’s world championship in 1986.

This season marks the 30th anniversary of the Mets Hall of Fame. During the thirty years, the Mets have only inducted 25, including this week’s foursome, into the Hall. The most recent ceremony took place in 2002, when outfielder Tommy Agee was added. The group of four inducted on Sunday was the largest contingent added in an individual season.

A plaque of each of the newest members was added to the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum, located in the Rotunda area of Citi Field. The plaques were unveiled during the ceremony, and fans were able to view them during the regularly scheduled game that afternoon. The Mets museum was opened this April in another action designed to recognize the history of the organization and salute its past heroes.

The ceremony was ably emceed by the radio voice of the Mets, Howie Rose. He began his introductions by stating, “We honor four truly iconic figures in the history of the New York Mets, men who played pivotal roles in the Mets second world championship in 1986.”

Rose introduced each who came onto the field from the outfield to receive his plaque from a previous member of the Mets HOF. A short film of the highlight of each recipient’s experiences with the Mets was shown, and then each responded with a short acceptance speech.

Although his name may be the least familiar to current Mets fans, Frank Cashen is the most responsible of the four honored guests for the success of the Mets in the 1980′s. Cashen was hired as general manager in 1980 by the team’s new owner, Nelson Doubleday.

Cashen brought success to the Mets as he previously did as an executive of the Baltimore Orioles from 1965-1975. The other three inductees were brought to the Mets through Cashen’s efforts. Godden and Strawberry were drafted by the club and Johnson was hired as manager in 1984. Cashen also obtained catcher Gary Carter, first baseman Keith Hernandez, third baseman Ray Knight and pitcher Ron Darling, all instrumental in the Mets achieving a World Series championship.

The Mets next won a division title in 1988, were competitive for several seasons, but did not become a dynasty. Cashen summarized the success of the team during his decade as general manager in a press conference at Citi Field on Saturday, “We drew three million people before anybody on the East Coast did it, did it twice. We had a great run. I appreciate it, and I appreciate going into the Mets Hall of Fame with all these distinguished gentlemen.”

After receiving his plaque from Rusty Staub, Cashen thanked all who helped him with emphasis on his wife, “The real Hall of Famer is my wife, Jean. She was the Most Valuable Player in my house.”  The 88 year-old and his wife are the parents of seven children and nine grandchildren.

Distinguished was not a word often, if ever, used to describe the 1986 Mets. The team was ranked 13th in a poll published by SI.com on Saturday of the most hated individual teams. The unpopularity reflected on many factors including the club’s success and arrogance on the field.

Davey Johnson, who Cashen knew as an outstanding second baseman in Baltimore was hired as manager in 1984. Johnson, who remained as Mets skipper throughout the decade, compiled the most wins, 595, as a manager of the team. Of 1986, he said, “I thought we really had a perfect team. We had big egos, big personalities on this ballclub, but they all loved to play baseball.” One of the 1986 Mets, Gary Carter, presented his plaque to him.

The two players enshrined, Gooden and Strawberry, have always been linked. Both began their careers in the majors with the Mets in the early 1980′s after being drafted by the organization; each earned the Rookie of the Year award in his first season in the bigs with the Mets; both showed outstanding talent on the field, and appeared to be sure bets to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame when their playing careers ended; both played with the Yankees successfully later in their careers; both were embroiled in controversies involving substance abuse and marital difficulties. Finally, both entered the Mets Hall of Fame together on Sunday.

Each of the two Mets stars spoke glowingly of entering the Mets HOF on Sunday. Strawberry dismissed the disappointment of many fans of his for  never having lived up to his initial expectations as a player and not being elected into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, “We’re going into the Mets Hall of Fame, and that’s what’s important. That’s all I really care about.”

Gooden, who later played on four other teams, admitted, “When I played on other clubs, I always called the Mets first and tried to come back here.” Gooden expressed his gratitude to the fans, “It wouldn’t have been possible without all of you [fans].”

The first Hall of Fame Achievement Award was presented to Bob Mandt. The recipient has worked for the Mets since 1962 in a variety of positions.

On a day the four men were honored for their contributions to the Mats 1985 championship, the 2010 Mets players showed how much improvement would be needed to reach that pinnacle. In describing the 14-1 drubbing by the Arizona Diamondbacks, manager Jerry Manuel remarked, “We didn’t pitch; we didn’t hit; we didn’t catch the ball.” That has been the story during too many games during the 2010 season.

Posted under Acceptance Speech, Ceremony Took Place, Darryl Strawberry, Davey Johnson, Dwight Gooden, Foursome, Frank Cashen, Hall Of Fame, Mets Fans, Nelson Doubleday, New York Mets, Outfield, Outfielder, Pivotal Roles, Radio Voice, Resurgence, Rotunda, Short Film, Th Anniversary, Tommy Agee, Top Story

This post was written by Howard Goldin on August 2, 2010