Posts Tagged ‘Jose Reyes’

1986 to 2010: Confidence and Determination to Caution and Trepidation

March 28, 2010

Before the start of the 1986 Mets season, then manager Davy Johnson stood in front of all his players in the clubhouse and confidently proclaimed that this would be without a doubt the year in which the New York Mets would go all the way to the World Series and win it.

Coming off of two very successfully seasons in ’84 and ’85 that virtually put the Mets back on the baseball map, fans were also beginning to see the maturation of their farm system in pitcher Dwight Gooden and slugger Darryl Strawberry emerge right before their eyes. Why wouldn’t Johnson feel compelled to profess that his ball club was the best in the business?

Eager to prove the naysayers wrong that the Mets weren’t just a bunch of overfed, immature, downright scum, they fulfilled their manager’s prophecy in dramatic fashion no less and won the whole goddamn thing.

Fast forward to this upcoming season and to present-day Mets manager, Jerry Manuel, who has also made some of his own personal predictions although none as bold as his fiery predecessor’s. Manuel, who will be starting the 2010 season under the veneer of a lame-duck year, stood in front of his players and demanded at the very least fundamental baseball. Instead of using words like achievement and redemption, Manuel spoke in terms of prevention and recovery.

With a large majority of his players returning from the disabled list, Manuel is proceeding with caution. Like any good manager, Manuel would rather have his starting shortstop Jose Reyes available for the duration of the season rather than push him for Opening Day and place his overall status in jeopardy.

Looking back on the 1986 season, the Mets had Dwight Gooden’s dominating pitching, Keith Hernandez’ consistent play both defensively and at the plate, and a lethal combination of power and speed in a young Darryl Strawberry. The Mets along with their manager, Davy Johnson, were ready for greatness.

As for Manuel, with the 2010 season on its way, the focus will be on staying healthy and deciding which reliever will be coming out of his bullpen to set up for his closer.

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One Up, One Down: Mejia and Reyes Are on the Move

March 6, 2010

Jenrry Mejia, a name that has drawn a lot of attention this past week down in Port St. Lucie, Fla., is just one of the many unexpected developments to come out of Mets camp. Mejia, a twenty-year-old right hander who hails from the Dominican Republic, has been able to put a lid on his control problems, allowing his raw talents to take their proper course. Mejia has electric stuff. He throws a 96 mph fastball with a lot of movement that can make even the most talented hitters miss. In two-and-a-third innings of work on Friday, Mejia managed to strike out four of the seven batters he faced.

In addition to a high-octane fastball, he also has a changeup and what scouts are calling a decent curveball. Fortunately for Mejia, possessing a naturally cutting fastball could very well be all the juice he needs in landing a role as the Opening Day set-up man for closer Francisco Rodriguez. With Mejia as a formidable front runner for that position, Mets manager Jerry Manuel is faced with an even more difficult task if and when he decides on who will be the eighth inning guy out of the bullpen.

“What he has to do is prove that for the most part he can throw consistent strikes. If he can do that, he’s got somebody fighting for him,” Manuel said.

On a down note, shortstop Jose Reyes was scratched from his scheduled start in Friday’s split-squad matchup at Tradition Field against the Marlins. The Mets lost that game, 4-3, when Florida’s Mike Stanton crushed a 2-run HR off of Bobby Parnell in the 10th inning.

Reyes, on the other hand, was diagnosed with an imbalanced thyroid that doctors later classified as overactive. According to the NY Times, the symptoms associated with this condition include loss of weight, hyperactivity, bulging eyes, and excessive sweating.

However, Reyes has confirmed none of those symptoms. In spite of how he feels, the Mets have taken the proper precautions. Reyes will be retested in New York on Monday, delaying those results until Wednesday. Doctors have suggested that the Mets catalyst may be sidelined for up to a month as he is monitored and receives the necessary treatment.

“This is not what I want to be doing,” Reyes said. “I am disappointed.”

“I don’t know what’s going on, this is the first time I’ve ever had something like this,” he added.

“I have to be worried. I can’t do anything…I’m getting tired of it. My team is always playing without me. I want to play.”

Manuel Prepares the Kool-Aid But Are We Ready to Drink It

February 20, 2010

As I sat by my computer yesterday listening to Mets manager Jerry Manuel discuss the many ways in which he would construct his starting lineup for the 2010 season, I felt compelled to jot down my own version of New York’s various batting orders. After several attempts to outdo the well-respected skipper by batting shortstop Jose Reyes sixth, I conceded and felt it best to leave the decision making up to the man in charge.

Manuel was his usual open-ended self on Friday as he addressed concerns regarding the Mets starting rotation, the catcher position, and how airy and light third baseman David Wright appeared to be carrying himself after such a demanding season.

Upbeat and clear-minded, Manuel even poked fun at himself while professing that the longer he stayed amongst the many sour-faced beat reporters, the worse off his team would be. Eventually, his bellowing laugh would finally subside. Only then did he begin to turn his attention to more serious matters for example, which reliever would bridge the gap to closer Francisco Rodriguez.

“We have to find that person,” Manuel said. “It’s going to be difficult. The quicker we resolve that…the better off in the long run.”

If health was the obvious reason why the 2009 season ended in such devastating fashion, a weak bullpen the previous year could be seen as a no-brainer when explaining why our beloved orange and blue were unable to patch things up and reach the post-season in 2008.

Fortunately for Manuel, he inherited that underperforming bullpen from his predecessor, Willie Randolph, and was given an incomplete for the struggles he was made to endure in that department. Manuel’s advice for a solid bullpen this year; throw strikes and consistently pound the strike zone, simple enough.

After quelling the rumors by stating that Daniel Murphy had all but solidified himself as the club’s first baseman, he also reinforced the notion that there was indeed a fifth starter race brewing between right-hander Fernando Nieve and Jon Niese, the Mets homegrown left-hander.

In reference to a question as to how much space separated the Mets from the first-place Phillies this season, Manuel proceeded with caution. When asked if he thought this particular group of guys could be a contender for the post season in 2010, the Mets skipper confidently replied, “What I like is the fact that almost seventy percent of the guys were here early for Spring Training.”

“That says a lot,” he added. “It’s a good sign of some positive things for us on the horizon.”

With the recent setbacks to starting centerfielder Carlos Beltran and the expected eighth inning reliever Kelvim Escobar all too real, these next four to five weeks will be either a springboard for better days to come or just a case of the same old story for the New York Mets.

Other tidbits from Manuel’s presser:

Alex Cora is the Mets back-up shortstop.

Catcher Henry Blanco will be limited in his usage behind the plate.

Angel Pagan and Mike Jacobs are very much in-line to make the Mets 25-man roster.

According to Manuel, Spring Training is a tough place to evaluate players, Florida’s Josh Johnson is a very good pitcher, and number 53 works just fine for him.

For 2010, Mets Ask Fans to Just Believe

February 15, 2010

In the next few days, the city of Port St. Lucie, Fla. will be officially open for business as it kicks off the Spring Training portion of the Mets 2010 season. Coming off such a sour year in which they finished in fourth place with ninety-two losses, a fresh start is most definitely in order.

With injuries to key players and poor pitching being the main causes for such a forgettable season last year, heading into this upcoming season ultimately pain-free and ready to go is all you can expect at this point. If you speak to anyone affiliated with the Mets from season ticket holders down to those responsible for checking their tickets you would be met with the same consensus.

“I believe that we are going to improve,” Mets ace Johan Santana has said. “We weren’t a full team last year.”

“Baseball is a fun game,” he added. “If guys try to do too much… and not try to do someone else’s job, we will be fine.”

Even though the Mets front office, ownership included, were unable to acquire a front-line starter to complement the left-handed Santana, there is no question that Mets players and coaches are excited to get this part of the baseball season underway.

Along with newly-acquired free agent slugger Jason Bay, the Mets expect to have their catalyst back, shortstop Jose Reyes, at one hundred percent. With a healthy Reyes in the Mets lineup, manager Jerry Manuel would likely have lesser things to worry about.

Pitching Coach Dan Warthen, on the other hand, is banking on three of his projected starters, Oliver Perez, John Maine, and Mike Pelfrey, to undergo a complete turn-around from last season. Maine and Perez are coming off injuries and Pelfrey is searching for whatever was lost during his second full season with the Mets.

“Pelfrey loves the challenge,” Santana said. “He’s dropped twenty pounds and has been telling a lot of people that he wants to win.”

“Maine has the stuff to be a starter,” he added.

Regarding Perez, Santana replied, “Ollie has to get back to being Ollie.”

Not only will the Mets not have one of their perennial leaders in centerfielder Carlos Beltran at the beginning of the season due to injury, they will also not be carrying veteran Carlos Delgado as well. Delgado has remained unsigned as he makes his comeback from major hip surgery.

“When I think of a veteran, I think of a leader, like Carlos Delgado,” Maine said in a recent interview with Mets Blog’s Matthew Cerrone. “Someone else is going to have to fill that void. I just think what he’s done, who he is, and his demeanor…he was perfect for that,” he added.

The theme of this season is entitled, “We Believe in Comebacks.” If the Mets can stay healthy and their starting rotation can perform to their potential, perhaps, Mets fans will allow themselves to start believing again and have faith that things are moving in a positive direction.

In closing, since 2006, the NL East division from top to bottom has gotten exponentially better. For the Mets to have a winning chance at the division this season, its imperative that they remain healthy and stay consistent throughout the year. And also hope that the players they currently have in place are able to produce better numbers than they have in the past.

Let’s Go Mets!

When Cliff Floyd Spoke, Players Listened

February 6, 2010

Former Met Cliff Floyd was a very integral part of the Mets success during the 2006 season. That year, the Mets were one hit away from playing in their fifth World Series. Floyd, a natural contact hitter, was just as impressive off the field as he was on it. Some of those who hung around the Mets clubhouse throughout his tenure felt that when he left the organization the room changed.

With positive team chemistry deemed just as important as driving runners in, players like Floyd are considered necessities when building a championship team. Now, semi-retired, Floyd’s recent comments regarding the Mets current clubhouse as one of disconnect, have Mets fans concerned.

“I got the guys to believe in what I was saying,” Floyd said recently as a guest on a popular local radio show. “I didn’t take them down the road of destruction where they were going to go against the manager, or go against the coaches, or be a, me-type of player.”

The 37-year-old outfielder/DH embraced the role of mentor during his experiences with some of the Mets younger players including David Wright and Jose Reyes in 2006.

“My goal was to make sure they understand what it takes to play in the big leagues,” Floyd said. “Be productive and be accountable. Allow the clubhouse to be that sanctuary away from the world.”

Like a lot of other former Mets players, Floyd’s comments suggest that this current team could use someone like him to act as a support system when things take a turn for the worse. Lack of leadership and accountability has been a central theme regarding the Mets failures the last three seasons.

Floyd is currently an unsigned free agent who is contemplating retirement. His career as a journeyman player has spanned over 17 seasons in which he has played for eight different major league clubs.

Since he’ll be able to start the season with the Mets, I feel that right fielder Jeff Francoeur could be a formidable leader on and off the field. He’s an everyday player who plays every inning like it’s his last. Plus, he welcomes the pressures that come with playing in New York and plays hurt. He doesn’t give up easily and seems to have a positive demeanor, even on the worst of days.

Who do you think could fill a leadership role for the Mets in 2010?

Mets Fans Lose More than Their Leadoff Man in Reyes

August 7, 2009

On my desk at work, there are many pens, pencils, and highlighters that I use on a daily basis. There are numerous piles of paper, a late-model computer monitor, and a standardized telephone with voice mail features. Along with my daily routine of logging into my work email, I maintain a day-to-day Mets Trivia calendar by peeling each day’s tidbit as I see fit. Well, wouldn’t you know that of all the days yesterday’s coincidentally read, ‘What number does Jose Reyes wear on his jersey?’ Without even glancing at the answer, I consciously told myself, seven.

With the latest news regarding Jose Reyes’ future for this season all but confirmed, I couldn’t help but wonder what’s in store for the Mets shortstop. Looking at Reyes’ career numbers, you can’t help but notice his 301 stolen bases to go along with 73 triples in approximately five full seasons. From 2005-2008, Jose averaged around 65 stolen bases and sixteen triples a season. With a career on-base percentage of .337, the Mets positioned him atop their lineup. Considered by many to be the ball club’s catalyst each and every night, he carried that burden with open abandonment. As Reyes goes, so go the Mets.

Since being placed on the disabled list, Reyes’ absence has denied fans their favorite chant during Mets home games which is, “Jo-se, Jo-se, Jo-se, Jo-se…..” I guess for the time being we can perform a little jig whenever Daniel Murphy comes to the plate. Or hope that Reyes’ return next year is sooner than later.

Wright’s Big Night Gives Mets Much Needed Leverage

June 6, 2009

Heading into this weekend’s series, it was difficult to tell which team, the Mets or the Nationals, was looking forward to playing each other last night. In the case of the Mets, they had just lost three straight games to another of the National League’s enablers, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Prior to the start of the game, the Mets also got word that their catalyst, Jose Reyes, would most likely be unavailable for at least a month with a minor tear in his right hamstring. However, numbers don’t lie. Since May 4th, Washington has just eight wins to show for its last thirty completed games. I say completed because during that stretch the Nationals experienced a home game against the Houston Astros that was suspended due to rain in the eleventh inning with the score tied at ten. That game is scheduled to be completed at a later date.

Investigating further into the bulk of those games, the Nationals were swept by three different ball clubs, the Mets being one of them, on four separate occasions. Not to mention losing both games of a double-header twice to the Philadelphia Phillies and most recently, the San Francisco Giants. With all those circumstances against them, you could still make a good case for the majors’ worst team with an overall record of 14-39 in utilizing a weekend series against the injury-riddled Mets to help get them back on the right track.

Not only did the Mets lose an All-Star in Reyes but they will have to continue to move forward without their right-handed reliever, J.J. Putz. The former Mets set-up man was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday and will undergo surgery to remove a bone spur and fragments of bone from the back of his right elbow on Tuesday. Mets GM Omar Minaya said that Putz’ return could take anywhere from 10-12 weeks. Fortunately for the Nationals, this was music to their ears. Perhaps the Mets were on their way down. Maybe, just maybe but not just yet. Third baseman David Wright had something to say about it. He drove in the two go-ahead runs in the top of the tenth inning that broke the 1-1 tie. Wright’s second double of the night not only completed a 4 for 5-night but led to a Mets win.

The starting pitcher for the Mets, right-hander Tim Redding, commanded six solid innings but did not record the victory. He did however strike out two and give up just one earned run. Most importantly, in the home-half of the fifth inning, he was able to induce a bases-loaded double play that ended the inning, limiting the damage, and keeping the score knotted at one.

“It just feels good, period — it could have been against anybody,” Redding said.

Not just anybody, these are the Washington Nationals.

Bruised and Battered, the Mets Find a Way to Win

May 26, 2009

It’s safe to say that on any given night this season the New York Mets have given themselves a good chance at winning. However, for the last week and a half that chance has been met with the question of which players will be asked to uphold it. With one third of their active roster decimated by injury, the Mets everyday lineup card these days can look as unpredictable as an Oliver Perez start. Prior to last night’s game, Mets manager Jerry Manuel delayed his decision to start centerfielder Carlos Beltran and back-up shortstop Ramon Martinez until thirty minutes before the start of the game. Reason being, Beltran was nursing a sore knee and Martinez was ailing from a bad back. Fortunately for the Mets, both players made their starts and helped the team to a 5-2 victory over the last place Washington Nationals.

Last night’s win earned Mets starter John Maine his fourth victory of the season. Maine looked well in command throughout the game, although he was not asked to pitch the seventh inning. Manuel was given the opportunity after the game to respond to why he opted for a reliever in the seventh instead of continuing with his starter. Manuel felt that too much time elapsed between the umpire’s review of Gary Sheffield’s three-run homerun and the start of the seventh inning. In hindsight, reliever Bobby Parnell began the seventh inning and surrendered three walks (the Mets pitchers had nine overall) which led to a run. Parnell was yanked and it took two more Mets relievers to limit the damage in the seventh.

Mets shortstop Jose Reyes continues his recovery from tendinitis of the calf and left fielder Ryan Church was again unavailable for the second straight game. On the bright side, closer Francisco Rodriguez kept his perfect save streak going last night and earned his thirteenth save of the season. If you remember, Rodriguez collapsed on Saturday in Boston from back spasms. He was rushed to the hospital where he received treatment and was then cleared to play.

With the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves losing their games yesterday, the Mets are now all alone in second place just one-half game back.

Hustling or Lack Thereof, Reyes Can’t Catch a Break

May 14, 2009

For those Mets fans that have been following the team either in passing or until they’re blue (and orange) in the face, it won’t be difficult for them to notice that the finger-pointing has once again begun to resurface around Citi Field. This time, it is being directed at, you guessed it, Jose Reyes. In the past, some of you may have experienced an ill feeling caused by numerous amounts of baseballs popping up compliments of the Mets leadoff man. Well, you can now add another layer of suffering to your everyday list. Most recently, Reyes’ base running has been the focus of debate.

As Mets fans have gotten bored with coming up with one cheap joke after another regarding their starting rotation, Reyes, their superstar shortstop, has been under intense scrutiny. With the inability for him to correct mistakes that were magnified the night before, Reyes has been wearing the “blame me” tag since the Mets ended their seven-game winning streak. They have dropped two of their last three games.

Following Tuesday night’s walk-off-walk win, Reyes was in full agreement with his critics who were concerned with him being tagged out trying to stretch a double into a triple in the eighth inning. “Good hitting, stupid base running,” Reyes said. His overly aggressive base running removed him as the potential tying run and allowed for Mets manager Jerry Manuel to begin second-guessing certain aspects of his ball club. “I think Reyes got a little too happy on that play,” Manuel said. In Reyes’ defense, he did knock in two very important runs and his double gave the Mets offensive which was dead in the water against Braves starting pitching a much needed lift. The Mets also won the game but if you asked Braves third baseman Chipper Jones he’ll tell you otherwise.

Heading into Wednesday’s game, all things Reyes were forgiven. His failed attempt to arrive safely at third was now seen as just a footnote in a long list of Mets base running blunders. Unfortunately for Reyes, his aggressive-style of base running did him in again. This time, Reyes didn’t even have a chance. With a ball hit to the third base side of the infield you are taught to hold up at second. At least until the shortstop unleashes the throw to first then perhaps you could make a run for it. Other than that, nine times out of ten, you’re a dead duck. Reyes was just that.

His second mistake came in the bottom of the twelfth. In this instance it was Reyes’ lack of aggressiveness that raised some eyebrows. After smacking a drive that hit off the top of the left field wall resulting in a lead-off double, Reyes was questioned after the game why he was seen jogging instead of running. The Mets manager added his two cents by saying, “It looks like the harder he runs, the more trouble he gets in.” The only sentiment I can extract from that statement regarding Reyes is you’re damned if you do or you’re damned if you don’t.

The Mets will be playing their next seven games out West on the road. Perhaps some time away from the fan-friendly confines of Citi Field will allow Jose Reyes and his teammates a chance to take a deep breath and concentrate on building their lead atop the NL East.

Does Minaya Deserve a Free Pass?

May 10, 2009

At the completion of last Saturday’s game, a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, the Mets were sitting in third place with a record of 10-13. Prior to that defeat, their fourth in the last six games, news spread like wild fire regarding comments that were made by their general manager, Omar Minaya. Minaya sat down with Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com and responded to accusations that his team had lost its edge or better yet, never had one to begin with. Ever since the firing of former Mets manager Willie Randolph last June, the ballclub has been heavily criticized for not having enough players willing to stand up and be held accountable. Those who cover the team suggest that the Mets have the physical talent in getting the job done but lack a certain intangible which is conducive to a World Series-caliber club. Leadership, for starters, is one. Minaya, on some level, agreed. His comments were projected at Mets players, specifically David Wright and Jose Reyes. Minaya felt strongly and trusted their leadership but on the other hand was not so certain that they had the chutzpah to get the job done.

On the heels of a free agent signing about to go bust and a manager who just got word that he would be fined by Major League Baseball for delaying a previous game, Minaya could be given the benefit of the doubt for lashing out to those players who constitute the Mets’ core group. Most Mets fans would agree that Minaya, a self-proclaimed native New Yorker, possesses as much if not more passion than the average Mets fan. During last year’s off-season, he heard the outcries concerning the combustibility of last year’s bullpen. He made it his top priority to address those problems by signing closer Frankie Rodriguez and acquiring J.J. Putz via a trade. We were all thoroughly impressed and have commended him for his efforts. Rodriguez, this season, has gone a perfect nine for nine in save opportunities. Putz, until recently, was unstoppable pitching exclusively in the eighth inning setting up for Rodriguez.

Aside from last Sunday’s rainout, the Mets have won six games in a row and now sit tied atop the NL East with the Florida Marlins. During that streak, the Mets starters have accumulated a 5-0 record with an earned run average below two. The offense has exploded as well. Yesterday’s 10-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates produced seventeen hits. For the second time in as many days, the Mets were able to participate in an inning in which they batted around in the order. Leadoff man Jose Reyes went 3 for 5 with 3 RBI and a stolen base. Center fielder Carlos Beltran continued his offensive surge by clubbing a solo shot in the fifth inning, his sixth homerun of the season. He ended up going 2 for 5 on the day and raised his batting average to .378. Every Mets starter, except for catcher Ramon Castro who left the game with a tight quad, had at least two hits in the game. Serving a single-game suspension for having the brim of his cap poke umpire Bill Welke, Mets manager Jerry Manuel was made to watch all the excitement alongside his boss, GM Omar Minaya at Citi Field in his street clothes. Both were seen in good spirits. Perhaps all is forgiven between them. Like they say, winning cures everything.