Posts Tagged ‘Mike Pelfrey’

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!

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Mets Strike First But End Up Looking Like a Dud

September 2, 2009

A slim layer of smoke hung around the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field for the start of the Mets and Rockies game last night. SNY’s Gary Cohen quickly assured Mets fans that it was not smog but a mixture of carbon and sulfur that had made its way from the California wildfires thousands of miles away. With such an unsettling atmosphere for a baseball game, Mets manager Jerry Manuel knew he was in store for a very eventful night.

The evening turned bizarre from the outset. In the top of the first inning, Mets leadoff man, Angel Pagan, proceeded to run the bases backwards. After poking a single into centerfield, Pagan was forced out at second base when he misjudged a single for a fly out hit by Luis Castillo. Instead of having runners on the corners with nobody out, the Mets were looking at one out and Castillo on first. Fortunately for Pagan, the Mets managed to squeak out two runs in the inning to take a 2-0 lead on Colorado. The Rockies would eventually finish off a 7-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning handing Mets starter Mike Pelfrey an early exit and his tenth loss of the season. Pelfrey surrendering seven runs, six earned, on six hits to go along with five walks.

On a more enthusiastic note, David Wright returned to the Mets starting lineup. If you recall, Wright was placed on the 15-day disabled list after experiencing post-concussion symptoms from being knocked in the head by a 93-mph fast ball. Along with his return to action, Wright managed to put a smile on everyone’s face by showcasing a larger more noticeable batting helmet. The Mets third baseman went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored to go along with two strikeouts. With last night’s 8-3 defeat, the Mets have now lost 10 out of their last 13 games.

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.

Can Anybody Play the Game Here?

June 27, 2009

It took the Mets just one inning to separate themselves from their cross-town rivals at Citi Field last night. By committing three errors that led to two unearned runs in the top half of the second inning, the Mets had fallen behind the New York Yankees, 4-0. Shortstop Alex Cora, third baseman David Wright, and first baseman Nick Evans each produced their own version of a bonehead play causing Mets starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey to smack his glove, scream obscenities towards centerfield, and undertake an early trip to the showers. For the fourth time in his last five starts, the tall right-hander failed to make it into the sixth inning.

Two weeks ago to the day, Mets fans were privy to one of the most excruciating losses in Subway Series history. This time around, a 9-1 thumping in the hands of the Bronx Bombers was just as painful. Aside from an Alex Rodriguez home run, it was the other guys in the Yankees lineup that did most of the damage. Centerfielder Brett Gardner, a double shy of the cycle, finished with five hits, two RBIs, and three runs scored. With Derek Jeter as a late scratch, Ramiro Pena was given the start at short. Pena went 3 for 5 with two doubles, an RBI, and two runs scored. Other than counting how many 1-2-3-innings the Mets had last night, the only excitement worth noting was a laser-beam shot off the bat of Gary Sheffield over the left field wall that produced the Mets only run.

If the Mets want to give this series any merit, they’ll have to sweep the remaining two games. With Tim Redding matched up against another big name Yankee pitcher in A.J. Burnett, the likelihood of that happening seems very remote.

The Makings of a Mets Madman

June 18, 2009

Mets pitcher Mike Pelfrey was unable to complete the sixth inning on Tuesday night. Nonetheless, he pitched enough to warrant himself a victory, his fifth of the season. Wins have been tough to come by lately for the Mets right-hander. Prior to Tuesday night’s start, Pelfrey’s last favorable decision was on May 7th at Citi Field against the Philadelphia Phillies. Not only did Pelfrey struggle in the win department throughout that stretch but also revealed himself as a bit of a hothead. In his last two starts, he has been involved in a couple of public spectacles that have caused Mets fans to question his focus when he is out their on the mound.

The first of these two confrontations came against the Phillies at home last Wednesday. After calling for time, Philadelphia’s Chase Utley was hollered at by the Mets starter to get back in the batter’s box. Utley then proceeded to ready himself for Pelfrey’s pitch only to get reprimanded again for taking his sweet time as he was getting set. The Phillies second baseman then calmly responded back suggesting that the tall right-hander relax. In Pelfrey’s defense, he may have still been seething from a prior at-bat against Utley in which he smacked a home run over the left-field wall.

“I was ready to make a pitch and he called timeout,” Pelfrey said. “I got upset and told him to get in the box. I don’t even know the guy. I was just trying to compete and execute a pitch. I got caught up in the moment. And he had a good swing against me. I probably shouldn’t have said anything.”

Regarding that incident, I guess you could give Pelfrey a pass because of the fact that the Mets were playing their divisional rival at Citi Field. However, the second confrontation wasn’t so acceptable because it involved one of his teammates. At the completion of the sixth inning on Tuesday night, Mets third baseman David Wright approached Pelfrey in the Mets dugout. Pelfrey had already been taken out of the game at that point but Wright felt that the right-hander needed a talking-to. The third baseman began to scold his starter along with a dose of finger pointing and chest-pounding. “He said, ‘Let’s go. You were getting ahead of the hitters all night,’” Pelfrey said of Wright’s words. “He said that now I’m falling behind the hitters. Let’s go. I kinda liked it,” Pelfrey added.

So far, it looks as if Pelfrey’s next scheduled start is on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Citi Field. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what’s in store for Big Pelf. As for all those who choose to confront him in the future, use good judgment or stay out of the big guy’s way.

Mets Attempt to Escape Reality Tonight with a Win

May 20, 2009

As the Mets prepare for the final game of their current seven-game road trip on Wednesday night in Los Angeles, the number one thing that should be on each and every Mets players’ mind is how they will earn a victory and salvage the final leg of their recent West coast swing. Not only will this be the Mets’ twentieth scheduled game in row, it will also give them another chance to prove to their beleaguered fans that they still possess some might after dropping the last three games in disappointing fashion.

The only way perhaps to explain the latest Mets swoon is that they wandered into San Francisco’s notorious Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and left with what is known in some circles as “Purple Haze.” There’s no question that last Saturday’s comeback-win against the 2008 NL Cy Young-award winner, Tim Lincecum, could be seen as the “peak” of their performance. Unfortunately, even the strongest dose of LSD causes you to eventually “come down.” Prior to having their infield fully decimated, the Mets were Truckin’. Jerry, in this case Manuel, not Garcia, had his team performing on all cylinders. As we all know, there are many other social aspects that are synonymous with the City by the Bay that don’t involve the colors of the rainbow. Eventually, reality begins to settle in.

Ask Mets starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey to explain why he committing three balks in Sunday night’s game, he’ll tell you that he had a case of the “yips.” Hmm…makes you wonder if that’s code word for something else or quite possibly the acid was beginning to wear off. Perhaps the same could be said for right fielder Ryan Church. You never know, instead of trying to score the go-ahead run during Monday night’s extra-inning game, he could have been trying to avoid being captured by little green men as he rounded the third base bag and that’s why he completely missed the base. All in all, the Mets have no reason to make excuses. If they are able to take tonight’s game, they can pat themselves on the back for avoiding a three-game sweep to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Only then will they be able to look back on these last seven games and remind themselves, “What a strange trip it’s been.”

After Santana, It’s Work, Work, Work

April 10, 2009

The good news for the Mets is that they most likely won’t have to worry about Cincinnati’s Joey Votto anytime soon. The bad news though is that after a gutsy performance by their ace, Johan Santana, on Opening Day, there is some uncertainty as to who will follow. Flushing’s most lovable southpaw, good ol’ Ollie Perez, was up to his old tricks again yesterday. His first real start of this regular season began with a flash of greatness as he mowed down four consecutives Reds hitters during his first two innings of work. Then, he and everybody else watched as it all went up in smoke, surrendering eight earned runs within his remaining two and a third innings of work. After the game, in which the Mets lost 8-6, the newly-minted left hander seemed rather complacent in his performance. Somehow, the accumulation of seven strikeouts was enough to off-set his present earned run average of 16.62. I understand that it’s just one game but we have all witnessed enough of Perez to wonder how long the organization, and fans for that matter, are willing to tolerate.

On Wednesday night, it took Mike Pelfrey at least 44 pitches to find his rhythm. At that rate, Pelfrey could very well be burnt out before the All-Star break. Even though he was credited with a win, the tall and sturdy right hander more closely resembled his early days when he was fighting for a spot in the rotation. In those days, Mets fans would anxiously wait for the young Mets pitcher to record his first win. Night after night, Pelfrey’s pitches would fail to find the strike zone so much so that Mets fans would stomp their feet and pound their foreheads in anger. As upsetting as his performances were, fans still gave the 6’7” right hander the benefit of the doubt. However, Pelfrey is now considered the team’s number 2 starter. With that role comes a higher expectation, which means that fans most likely won’t exude the same amount of patience as in the past.

With the subpar performances thus far of Perez and Pelfrey, tonight’s starter, John Maine, will be asked to appease the critics who have already found fault in a championship caliber Mets ball club.

According to Manuel, There’s No Reason to Worry

March 25, 2009

“He should be fine,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “I’m not overly or even concerned at this point.” Manuel was responding to questions regarding the state of his right-hander, John Maine. “There comes a time in Spring Training when pitchers hit a lull … usually at this time. Then you pick it back up. … I’m not concerned by what I saw,” he said. Those comments were in response to another one of his starting right-handers, Mike Pelfrey. As you can tell, Manuel doesn’t seem the least bit worried that two-fifths of his starting rotation may have to undergo a crash course in preparation for the regular season.

On Monday, Maine was called in to work on his day off. Pitching Coach Dan Warthen felt that the right-hander was shortening up his stride when delivering his pitches causing him to land too soon. “In the back of his mind, he was afraid to let go,” Warthen said. Maine has been accused of “babying” his arm since coming off of shoulder surgery. Since the beginning of spring training, Maine who will turn 28 in May, has fed the media’s craving for back page storylines with his blunt and often candid interpretation of his pitching performances thus far. His musings have even begun to create doubt in the minds of Mets fans who felt great confidence in their starting rotation heading into this season.

If the uncertainty surrounding Maine’s slow progression towards opening day isn’t cause for alarm, then having Mike Pelfrey’s lower left leg wrapped everyday since March 6th may also be nothing to fret about either. For the time being, it has been viewed as a minor inconvenience and according to Pelfrey will not force him to miss his up-coming scheduled start. “They told me I looked a little tired,” said Pelfrey. In 2008, the young right-hander pitched 200.2 innings. Experts cautioned the Mets coaching staff to keep an eye on him this season just in case the previous year’s workload was too much. Perhaps it’s a little premature to accuse last season’s totals to Pelfrey’s fatigue during spring training but you have to admit, it does make you wonder.

I guess I can’t blame Manuel for maintaining a level of calm. If I was stationed in Port St. Lucie, FL in mid-March with the sun blaring down on me all day and the temperature nearing eighty degrees, I would whistle on my way to work, too.

Starting Rotation Has Its Share of Ups and Downs

March 7, 2009

Along with every Mets fan’s morning coffee is the daily task of checking on the status of their left-handed ace, Johan Santana. With so much emphasis being placed on the notion of whether he is or isn’t in line to make this season’s opening day start, fans and media alike have distanced themselves from other burning questions concerning the Mets starting rotation. As disturbing as it is to imagine shaving off a piece of bone from the shoulder of right-hander John Maine during the off-season, it is just as gruesome to hear what he thinks of his progress thus far.

“I just don’t feel good out there, I don’t feel comfortable,” Maine said. “I’m trying to do something different mechanically every pitch and nothing’s working. I just feel terrible out there.”

Would somebody cheer this guy up? I think John may need a hug.

“I just didn’t think it would take this long,” Maine said. “I thought that after a few bullpens down here, a few games, stuff like that, I’d start feeling more comfortable. But that hasn’t been the case yet.”

Oh, boy. Can we get a tissue over here? I think Maine’s situation sounds serious.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel has repeatedly insisted that Santana’s elbow will be just fine. And the hubbub surrounding the two-time Cy Young award winner is just fluff for the back pages of NY newspapers. Okay Jerry, we get it, it’s time to move on and worry about other issues, like Jonathon Niese, the Mets young left-hander, who is among several other pitchers competing for the fifth spot in the Mets starting rotation.

Throughout Jonathon’s short baseball career, he has been reminded constantly of the significance in the date of which he was born, October 27, 1986. Ring a bell? It’s Game 7 of the 1986 World Series. The last time the Mets won a championship. Recently, WFAN’s Steve Somers asked him if anybody ever mentioned that to him, he shot back with, “way too many.” Niese seems to go about his business with more straightforwardness unlike his teammate, Mike Pelfrey. “Be consistent with all my pitches, stay healthy, get outs,” he said. Coincidentally, Niese is in the same position as Pelfrey was last year. He is fighting for a roster spot.

Somers attempted to squeeze an ounce of progress from the young left-hander’s abbreviated stay in the big leagues last year. He overstated that Niese showed much poise after serving up a beach ball to an opposing hitter. Niese responded with something perhaps his pitching coach might have told him, “Poise didn’t get me outs.” Somers was also heard cracking himself up by stating that Livan Hernandez, who is also competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, is old enough to be Niese’s grandfather. Hernandez is currently at the ripe old age of thirty-four. Don’t think so, Steve. Just because he pitched for the Montreal Expos doesn’t make him old enough to look back on his days of sharing a shower stall with such baseball greats as Musial, Williams, and DiMaggio.

Hernandez does have 381 starts for his career which gives the Cuban-born right-hander a lot of face time. Maybe that’s why he could be mistaken for an old-timer. If you read the NY Times, they’ll tell you the job belongs to right-hander Tim Redding. Why? The Mets spent $2.25 million on him. Case closed. And Freddy Garcia? The last time I checked the veteran pitcher’s line, it read, “Freddy Garcia was battered again. Unable to keep his fastball down, he allowed four runs — he allowed two home runs –in two innings.”

What does all this mean? It means the Mets organization has more confidence in Johan Santana’s side bullpen sessions than it does in its fourth and fifth starters’ chances of making an immediate impact.

Despite Setback, Pitching Coach Confident with His Options

March 2, 2009

“If we stay healthy, we should win a lot of games,” said Mets Pitching Coach Dan Warthen during a recent interview with WFAN’s Mike Francesa.

Warthen may have sounded optimistic then, but several days after the interview, he learned that there was a possibility that the ace of his staff, Johan Santana, might experience a delay in his return to the rotation due to tightness in his pitching arm. The Mets organization has not jumped to any conclusions, but they have recommended that the elbow be examined in New York if the soreness persists. After completing a short bullpen session on Sunday, the outcome was positive and the left-hander has been green-lighted to resume his regular preparations in Port St. Lucie, FL.

At the start of this season’s training camp, the major concerns for the Mets were centered on the health of their second baseman and the durability of their corner outfielders. Fortunately for the organization, those issues have become less of a factor. However, the latest news regarding the state of their pitching staff, specifically the starting rotation, has become very unsettling.

With the recent turn of events, GM Omar Minaya should still feel confident heading into the season. For one, he has a strong pitching coach in Dan Warthen. Additionally, he has plenty of viable arms should Santana’s current situation become worse.

“We have a lot of options out there,” Warthen said. “We went out and signed Tim Redding and certainly he’s got to be right at the top of the lineup as long as he is healthy. We also have a young Jon Niese, Livan Hernandez, Freddy Garcia is throwing the ball pretty decently at this point in time, and there’s a little guy by the name of Dillon Gee that has opened everybody’s eyes around here.”

Gee, a 23 year-old right hander listed at 6’1”, has been with the Mets organization since they selected him in the 21st round (663rd overall) of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Texas-Arlington. In four starts for Double-A Binghamton last August, he went 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA. This past winter, he had ten starts for Puerto Rico in which he had a 4-0 record. In 48.2 innings pitched, Gee struck out 43 batters and surrendered only 12 earned runs. He finished with a 2.22 ERA.

“He‘s going to be on our radar all year long,” Warthen said. “This guy is something special.”

The Mets have not offered any indication as to which of these noted candidates has secured the fifth starting job with their rotation. “We have five guys that are really vying for that number five slot and five guys going for that extra bullpen spot in that sixth or seventh inning,” Warthen said.

“We have some tough decisions to make,” he added.

One decision that came easy for Warthen was to have right-hander John Maine, who is recovering nicely from off-season surgery, to initiate the curveball into his current repertoire. “John is known to throw a high fastball,” Warthen said. “We want that pitch that has the same look that comes out of the hand the same way but with a big break to it with a huge speed variance.”

If Santana is unable to make his projected opening day start, the Mets could opt to hand the job over to Mike Pelfrey. When asked to comment on the emerging right-hander’s reaction to a heavier workload this season, Warthen responded, “When you watch him pitch, he looks like he’s in a rocking chair. He’s out there nice and easy, good long strides. He uses he legs, his back. He uses his body perfectly as a pitcher.”

Since Warthen took over as the Mets’ pitching coach, he has devoted the majority of his time trying to straighten out the erratic performances of left-hander Oliver Perez. “Here’s a dedicated kid that had a wild streak in him,” Warthen said, “pitching-wise and lifestyle-wise. He’s turned the corner.” Let’s hope this is true for the rest of the team as well.