Archive for July, 2009

Minaya Left with Nowhere to Hide

July 30, 2009

If there’s one thing we can learn from this season so far, it’s that the Mets are indeed an open book. The latest saga involving Mets GM Omar Minaya can attest to that. Before we go lobbying for Minaya’s dismissal, we should realize that the Mets beleaguered GM has provided us with a very valuable lesson: transparency. Throughout this season, Minaya has always looked at the glass half-full. With all the ups and downs, he has confidently defended those aspects of his organization that have been met with the most criticism.

Unfortunately, given the unpleasant task of having to fire one of his closest colleagues in Tony Bernazard, the solid foundation that Minaya helped build was made to collapse right before his eyes. Having to address a band of smug reporters and beat writers patting each other on the back for a job well done might have put Minaya on the defensive. Perhaps it was at that point that all those two-cent explanations and flimsy excuses concerning the state of a wounded ball club finally came to light. Whichever side of the fence Minaya ends up on when all the drama subsides, he will be a better man from it.

Listening to Jerry Manuel’s response towards the recent back page headlines concerning his ball club, you can see that the Mets manager has already turned the page.

“It’s kind of entertaining,” Manuel said.

Manuel is just a temporary stop on an on-going train. Those who have a larger stake in the Mets such as Jeff Wilpon, the organization’s chief operating officer, find these types of circumstances quite embarrassing. Hopefully, Mets fans will be allowed to expect nothing less than the real scoop from here on out.

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Mets Lineup Showing Stability within an Unstable Environment

July 29, 2009

As chaotic as the Mets front office may seem these last few days, the makeup of their everyday starting lineup has remained a symbol of stability. Since placing veteran outfielder Gary Sheffield on the 15-day disabled list, Mets manager Jerry Manual has left his lineup card on auto pilot. With the exception of splitting up the catching duties, the remaining spots in the Mets lineup have been designated to include the same group of guys.

Centerfielder Angel Pagan has enjoyed the leadoff spot with three triples and two doubles in his last ten games. Second baseman Luis Castillo has seen his batting average skyrocket over three hundred and is currently batting .306. Third baseman David Wright continues to produce and get on base. He is now hitting .321. First baseman Daniel Murphy has benefitted greatly from the extra playing time. He has been able to sharpen up his defensive skills and concentrate on moving runners over. Since coming over to the Mets, right fielder Jeff Francoeur has gone 17-for-52 (.327 BA) with three home runs and fifteen RBIs. If you add the steady hands (no pun intended!) of shortstop Alex Cora and left fielder Cory Sullivan, it makes for a very cohesive lineup.

Not only is the Mets latest four game winning streak refreshing but the current approach of their manager can also be looked at as promising. There has been no bigger advocate than me in finally seeing some consistency in the Mets starting lineup. Jerry, I know you’re just itching to mix-and-match your everyday players for the remaining two games of this series but for the love of all things Wilpon, don’t you even think it.

For the Mets, It’s Not Just About Balls and Strikes

July 28, 2009

The first lesson for those who have been around the game of baseball, Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News included, is that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. For Rubin, picking the brain of the Mets chief operating officer, Jeff Wilpon, for career advice is a great place to start. Prior to the opening game of the Mets current home stand against the Colorado Rockies yesterday, GM Omar Minaya held a press conference alerting the tri-state area that his second-in-command, Tony Bernazard, would no longer be employed with the Mets organization. Minaya’s decision to extinguish what was becoming a “cancer” in the Mets clubhouse stemmed from disturbing reports that were relayed to him from his human resources department.

In addition to what had previously transpired regarding Tony Bernazard, Minaya felt strongly that Adam Rubin’s tenacious attempt to land a front office job with the Mets also played a hand in the 52-year-old vice president’s dismissal. Minaya even went as far as to say that the reports trudged up by the Mets beat writer were made to trump up Rubin’s own standing as a perfect candidate for a player development position in the Mets organization. After Rubin’s press conference in which he relayed to the media that he was flabbergasted by the accusations, Minaya created a little opportunity of his own to clear the air with the Daily News beat reporter. The Mets GM tried to come off somewhat apologetic but ended up making matters worse by suggesting that the context of his comments directed at Rubin were accurate for the most part. It was the forum in which those comments were made that irked the Mets general manager. Interesting?

This type of smoke screening by the Mets front office goes hand-in-hand with the mishandling of the Mets injuries, the hesitation in addressing the needs of a struggling ball club, and the misguidance of their own personnel. It’s safe to say that Minaya and his tenure look to be on unstable ground.

A Sunday Made for the Mets

July 27, 2009

On most Sundays throughout the summer, I am usually made to spend time away from the television set soaking up some rays. Aside from the occasional Sunday night game on ESPN, my viewing of Mets games suffers due to the lure of the great outdoors. Living in New York, that would mainly consist of either a relaxing day at the beach or spending some quality time barbecuing with my family. Nonetheless, on this particular Sunday, I found myself holed up in my apartment eagerly awaiting the start of the Mets game.

The Mets were looking to build on an impressive 10-3 victory Saturday night and take the weekend series from the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. For the Mets, veteran right hander Livan Hernandez was set to take the mound. Hernandez, who has been known to struggle in the early going this season, did just that. He surrendered three runs in the bottom of the first inning in which five out of the first six Astros batters would push the count full. Eventually, the Mets limited the damage with two well-timed defensive plays keeping the Astros in check. Not known for their ability to come back from a three-run deficit, I was already regretting the fact that I had wasted a sunny Sunday afternoon watching the Mets.

With the threat of rain in the forecast I decided to stay the course and see how this one would turn out. Little did I know that the Mets would stage a comeback in the top half of the third inning by scoring three runs. They went on to take the lead by adding two more runs in the top of the fourth and never looked back. It goes to show you that catching an occasional Mets game on a hot Sunday afternoon may not be as tortuous as you may think.

Niese Gives Mets and Their Fans A Little Room to Breathe

July 26, 2009

Since the start of the second half, Mets fans may have found themselves questioning their sanity as they witness one debilitating loss after another. Prior to last night’s 10-3 victory, the previous nine games for the Mets have been consumed with inconsistent starting pitching, little or no offensive production, or abnormal behavior by their vice president of player development. Fans could make the case that the remaining two months of the season would most likely be more of the same. Learning that outfielder Gary Sheffield would be the latest Mets causality to be placed on the disabled list just reinforced that notion.

But as the saying goes every dark cloud has a silver lining. Jon Niese, last night’s starting pitcher for the Mets, was that silver lining. According to Mets manager Jerry Manuel, he was more than that. He was polished. Niese pitched seven terrific innings in which he allowed just one run on four hits that earned him his first win of the season. Looking back on his first tour of duty for the Mets, two starts earlier in the season in May, Niese was entering last night’s game with a 5.91 ERA and two no-decisions.

“I felt more comfortable,” Niese said. “Omir [Santos] and I were on the same page tonight. He called a great game.”

Manuel was in good spirits after last night’s domination over the Houston Astros as well. He was not only impressed by the positive outing that he received from his young left-hander but by the explosive performance of his struggling offense.

“We swung the bats well,” Manuel said.

Among the twelve hits recorded by the Mets were catcher Omir Santos’ second solo home run in two nights and third baseman David Wright’s blast, a solo shot of his own, in the top of the ninth inning. Wright’s dinger was his first home run in over a month and the first in his last seventy-five at-bats. Jeff Francoeur, who was traded to the Mets prior to the All-Star break, continued his resurgence by clobbering a three-run home run that broke the game wide open.

“That was a huge hit for us,” Manuel said.

When asked if Francoeur’s home run was a reality, Manuel jokingly said that he thought it may have gone foul. With sixty-six games remaining on the Mets schedule, fans still have plenty of time left in which they can better gauge their sanity.

For the Mets, Cancer Has Found Its Way On and Off the Field

July 23, 2009

Sandwiched between an impromptu press conference regarding the behavior and pending investigation of Mets vice president of development, Tony Bernazard, and a post-game reaction that felt more like the uncovering of manager Jerry Manuel’s last will and testament, the Mets dropped their second straight game, 3-1, to the Washington Nationals last night. Amid speculation that Bernazard tore off his shirt in front of a clubhouse full of Double-A ball players shouting, “You want a piece of me,” Manuel was asked to defend his current team’s crippling offense.

In the last two losses against the Nationals, the end result for the Mets batters has been just one measly run. In that time, they have also left seventeen men on base. Third basemen David Wright, considered their best hitter, went 2 for 12 in the three-game series producing no RBI and registering zero runs scored.

“We’re not meeting that challenge,” Wright said. “We are having a tough time at the plate scoring runs.”

With their biggest home run threat, Gary Sheffield, sidelined with a right hamstring cramp, the Mets are forced to rely on players like shortstop Angel Berroa and outfielder Cory Sullivan to fill the gap left in their lineup.

“We’re waiting to get hot, maybe we are hot,” Manuel said jokingly.

After an off-day on Thursday, the Mets will continue their southern road trip as they open up a weekend series in Houston against a surging Astros ballclub on Friday.

With the Mets Shutout Again, the Night Belonged to Minaya

July 22, 2009

Mets GM Omar Minaya was asked to join SNY’s Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez in the booth during the Mets 4-0 loss to the last place Washington Nationals last night. The conversation began at the start of the fourth inning with the Mets at the plate and the score still tied at zero.

“Hopefully, we can get a win tonight,” Minaya said.

After mentioning that New York was a two-team town and that some years like this one can be difficult, Minaya asked Mets fans to approach the up-coming trade deadline by looking at the big picture. As the inning for the Mets batters ended abruptly, we were made to ponder that thought during a commercial break. It is now the bottom half of the fourth inning and Minaya is still hanging in there. His latest reasoning behind the Mets disappointing season thus far seems to angle more towards a lack of power in the lineup and poor execution then the unfortunate circumstances of his injured core players.

“You have to ask yourself, what’s going on, when you don’t see us hit any home runs in Philly,” Minaya said as he witnessed one of six walks executed by Mets starter Oliver Perez last night.

Minaya then quickly changes gears to expound on the notion that the Mets clubhouse is extremely cohesive and that his coaching staff has worked tirelessly on the fundamentals of the game. Then, as a single drives past a diving Luis Castillo, the Mets GM praises his second baseman for bouncing back and having a somewhat productive year. Minaya also feels compelled to mention the pleasant surprise of back-up catcher Omir Santos. However, the situation becomes a little uncomfortable when Minaya is made to defend the talent in his farm system and the integrity of his medical staff.

“I support critique, but not from those that are considered non-evaluators,” Minaya said.

With July 31st fast approaching, the question on every Mets fan’s mind is whether Minaya will be aggressive and make a play for some outside help or perhaps stick with what he’s currently got and play out the remaining games of the season.

Fourth Place, Below Five Hundred, and Nine Games Back Equals Job Security

July 21, 2009

Coming off an embarrassing four-game series against the Atlanta Braves this past weekend, the Mets discovered that losing may actually have its perks. Sickened by all the negativity surrounding this current Mets ballclub, the front office and their manager received a breath of fresh air prior to their victory over the Washington Nationals last night, 6-2. If you haven’t already heard, Mets GM Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel are not going anywhere any time soon. Even as the Mets drift farther and farther away from the first-place Phillies, nothing short of last place will grant the Mets GM and his manager their walking papers.

So Mets fans, get used to it. Get used to confusing bullpen moves that leave you guessing in front of your T.V. during those crucial middle innings. Get used to pinch hitting decisions that have you looking as perplexed as that AFLAC duck. Get used to hearty laughter and injury updates that have your head spinning this way and that way. Don’t worry, we’ll get used to it. I like having Alex Cora and Jeremy Reed as my starting shortstop and left fielder. I don’t mind milking every last drop out of right hander Livan Hernandez until his arm is reduced to silly-puddy. I have to admit. I’m very impressed. Livan beat the Nationals.

As for Minaya, he can whitewash any player in the league just as good as anybody. Let me refresh your memory as I recall on how the Mets GM made Trot Nixon out to be the second coming of Jim Edmonds last season. He’s a gamer. Oh really. Can’t wait to see him out there! Here’s a suggestion, why not try Daniel Murphy as the Mets new set-up man, couldn’t hurt. I have one question for the Wilpons. Do you like what you see out there in the field? Aside from Jeff Francoeur’s solo shot last night, I thought the Mets were trying to resurrect the dead ball era.

Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya, you’ve done a heck of a job. Now, let’s orchestrate another blockbuster trade and get Toronto’s ace, Roy Halladay, over here. The Mets are still in this one.

Mets Fans Wait for the Latest Spin on Recent Injuries

July 20, 2009

In the game of baseball, news can travel fast and change overnight on a regular basis. Most recently, Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News posted on his Mets blog that starter-turned-long reliever Tim Redding was on the verge of being released. The Mets coaching staff had seen enough of the grizzly right hander and had given him a crude ultimatum: pitch effectively or else. However, like every Mets storyline this season there is always a twist. According to Mets vice president of player development, Tony Bernazard, parting ways with the veteran pitcher had never been discussed and was simply, not on the Mets to-do list. Nonetheless, after another ineffective performance last night against the Atlanta Braves, Redding may have one foot out the door.

Aside from the disappointing losses this season, the Mets organization has been reluctant at times in releasing pertinent information regarding their player personnel. When David Lennon of Newsday.com reported a couple of days earlier that Mets centerfielder, Carlos Beltran, was to undergo an MRI for his balky knee, Mets manager Jerry Manuel denied any information to that effect. Consequentially, Beltran went on to have the scheduled procedure and we all know what happened next.

In another instance, 20-year-old Fernando Martinez was kept out of the starting lineup complaining of soreness in the back of his right knee. Martinez however relayed to Jerry Manuel that he was able to pinch hit in an emergency situation. Prior to Martinez’ placement on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in that very same knee, Manuel admitted he regretted using the young outfielder after watching how he struggled to run to first base. Little did Manuel know that five days after being placed on the DL, Martinez would undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus on his right knee. The Mets prospect is not expected back until mid-September.

With all the uncertainty surrounding player’s injuries this season, Mets fans have to wonder what kind of spin they’ll get concerning 40-year-old Gary Sheffield’s cramp or right hander Fernando Nieve’s quad.

Mets Find Themselves Expecting Something Bad to Happen

July 18, 2009

When the Atlanta Braves’ tenth run crossed home plate in the bottom half of the fifth inning last night, the Mets had zero runs scored to go along with just two hits. Their starting pitcher, Mike Pelfrey, had already been taken out of the game charged with nine of those runs in just four and one-third innings of work. The right-hander also allowed nine hits, two for homeruns. To top it all off, in that dreadful fifth inning, the Mets witnessed another player on their current roster limping off the field. As left fielder Gary Sheffield was attempting to chase down a base hit into the left-centerfield gap, he experienced what Mets trainers described as a cramp.

In Sheffield’s case, it was just a matter of time when the forty-year-old journeyman would breakdown. Reason being, when the Mets acquired him at the start of the season he was considered a right-handed threat coming off the bench not an everyday player. As Sheffield slowly made his way off the field, Mets fans were left shaking their heads. But that wasn’t the end of it. Fans were also disappointed with comments that were made by Sheffield after the game. While downplaying the extent of his injury, he went on to discuss how the body language of some of his teammates would begin to sag when the team fell behind. He continued and said that he noticed the majority of the guys in the dugout were just waiting for something bad to happen. Sheffield did mention that prior to the start of their games the Mets players were confident in their ability to go out there and win everyday.

In defense of Sheffield’s comments, they should be construed as helpful and not necessarily hurtful. His overall concerns towards his teammates to start concentrating on playing more aggressively instead of worrying about what may happen next is probably a by-product of the veteran outfielder having a bad day.