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New York Mets Try To Get Creative With Final Bullpen Spot

It appears we have a new twist in the race for the final spot in the New York Mets bullpen.

After speculation for the past few weeks about who will get the coveted 25th spot on the Mets roster between right-handers Blaine Boyer and Jason Isringhausen, the Mets are reportedly pulling out all the stops in an attempt to keep both of them.

According to David Waldstein of the New York Times, the Mets have asked Jason Isringhausen to remain in Port St. Lucie for extended spring training for a week or two in order to build more arm strength.

Isringhausen has not pitched more than 43 innings in a season since 2007, and the Mets want reassurance that his arm will be durable enough to last a full season if they bring him north.

Isringhausen had reportedly been against the idea of staying back in extended spring training but is considering the possibility. Although he was signed to a minor-league deal after a tryout, he will either retire or ask for his release if the Mets attempt to send him to Triple-A Buffalo.

The 38-year-old righty has been one of the best stories in camp, as he attempts to make a comeback from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

If Izzy accepts the Mets idea to stay back for a week or so, that means the Mets will be able to carry an extra pitcher on their active roster when they break camp and begin the regular season on April 1st.

That could very well mean that Blaine Boyer is safe, and the Mets will delay their decision on who to keep for at least another week, hoping the surplus sorts itself out.

However, this story has one more M. Night Shyamalan twist. 

Sources also say that the Mets have had internal discussions about asking Boyer to accept a minor-league assignment so they can stash him in the minors and open up a roster spot for Manny Acosta.

The Mets have not yet formally asked Boyer to do this, but it would be a bold move. Boyer has pitched lights out all spring, but can opt out of his contract on Thursday and become a free agent.

If the Mets want to keep Boyer, they either have to give him the final bullpen spot or take a big risk and call Boyer’s bluff that he won’t opt out and try to latch on with another team after Opening Day.

Personally, I think it would be somewhat of a heist if the Mets are able to stash Boyer in the minor leagues and keep him waiting in the wings as depth. He’s pitched like a major league reliever, and I don’t think it’s far-fetched that he could find another team immediately.

Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog thinks that the Mets might be justified in asking Boyer to stick around:

“As for Boyer, let’s be honest, he can leave, but where is he going? At this point, after weeks of camp, most teams likely have their rosters set, or at least have a plan and people in place. So, if he leaves, he’s likely walking in to the exact same situation he’s in now. At least here, with the Mets, he knows they are fans of his, and know what he’s about.”

I’ll say this: There’s no harm in asking. I’d expect the Mets to speak with Boyer as early as Tuesday morning to discuss their plans with him.

If Boyer accepts a minor-league assignment, that would allow the Mets to hold onto right-hander Manny Acosta, who is out of options and would be exposed to waivers if he does not make the team.

I have contended all spring that Acosta would likely not make the team, and the Mets evidently do not think he’ll clear waivers—otherwise, they would have placed him on waivers earlier today with Nick Evans, Luis Hernandez and Pat Misch.

If Boyer does accept a minor-league assignment and Isringhausen stays behind in extended spring training, that would allow the Mets to keep all three of them, at least for another week, as Isringhausen fine-tunes his game.

The Mets clearly like Izzy, as he would bring experience and leadership to the table. The former two-time All-Star closer has looked reborn this spring, even touching 92 mph in his last outing.

Buckle your seatbelts Mets fans—this is about to get crazy. Or at least, as crazy as a battle for the final bullpen spot on a major league baseball team could get.


You can read more Mets news, notes and analysis on, and you can follow me on Twitter @metsjetsnets88.

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MLB Spring Training 2011: Should the New York Mets Be Worrying About Jason Bay?

Jason Bay had a disappointing first season in New York last year, and if the Mets offense is going to be any better this year, they need Bay to have a bounce-back season.

Clearly, Bay is capable of having a big season at the plate. He’s done it in the past with the Pirates and Red Sox numerous times.

I’ve spent a few days in Port St. Lucie this week to watch the Mets play in spring training and I have to admit, it’s troubling to see how badly Bay is struggling right now.

Now, I know full well that it would be foolish to make projections about the regular season based on spring training performance. Every year there are dozens of players who have great spring trainings and then go on to have less than stellar seasons, and vice versa.

However, at the same time, I think it would be unwise to completely disregard what I’ve seen with my own eyes.

Right now, Jason Bay is struggling as bad as I’ve seen a Major Leaguer struggle in spring training. This is not a case of a guy getting unlucky on his batting average on balls in play, or getting squeezed by an umpire consistently, or anything like that.

In the two games I’ve watched in person, in the six place appearances Bay has had, he’s looked terrible. Yes, it’s the smallest of sample sizes.

But every other singe player on the team is at least making solid contact. In his six at bats, I saw him make solid contact on TWO pitches: a foul ground ball and a ground out to third.

To say his timing is off would be an understatement. He’s been late on a few pitches, earlier on others and has made contact less than five times in those two games.

He had three swinging strikeouts on Friday, only making contact on a single pitch in that game before being lifted from the game (as is custom in a spring training game) after his third at-bat.

Unfortunately, on Sunday he still looked pretty out of sorts. He actually put the ball into play in his first at-bat when he grounded out to the third baseman, but he struck out in his final two at-bats.

Both times he struck out looking. Both of those at-bats he took pitches right down the middle for strikes two and three.

Obviously, his timing is off right now and he’s not seeing the ball very well.

But it’s not like he’s been this bad all spring. Even with that 0-for-6 stretch, he’s still hitting .292 overall in the spring. But that’s with only a single extra base hit, a double, and no walks.

He’s now struck out 10 times in 24 spring at-bats with only one RBI, for what it’s worth.

I’m not saying Bay can’t get out of this slide and get hot again, but I’m starting to become pessimistic if he’ll ever live up to the big contract Omar Minaya gave him as a going away present to the Mets.

Bay was brought in to be a legitimate power threat in the middle of the lineup, and he was anything but in his 2010 debut with the Mets.

Again, I really don’t want to hit the panic button in the middle of March, but I would like to at least see some signs of life before April 1. Otherwise, it could be another long year for the Mets left fielder.

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New York Mets Second Base Competition Heading into MLB Spring Training

Spring is in the air in Port St. Lucie, as the Mets get ready to kick off their spring training season on February 26 against the Braves.

Pitchers and catchers have reported, and there a lot of position players already in camp as well, some whom have been working out at Digital Domain Park for over a week.

One of those players is Daniel Murphy, who is attempting to come back from a forgettable 2010 season that saw him injure his knee multiple times and pretty much lose an entire year off of his career.

Rewind the clock one year ago.

Murphy was all set to be the Mets’ opening day first baseman after a fine season in 2009 that saw him take over for the injured Carlos Delgado.

But in the final week of spring training, Murphy turned his knee awkwardly in a routine rundown play between third base and home plate. He was diagnosed with a Grade 1 MCL sprain and began the season on the disabled list.

While he rehabbed with Triple-A Buffalo, the Mets called up rookie sensation Ike Davis, who ran with the first base job and never looked back.

The Mets decided to keep Murphy in Buffalo to become a utility player, with the intention of him learning second base in the event that he would replace Luis Castillo someday.

However, Murphy’s experiment at second base was short-lived, as he was caught up in a collision at the second base bag and suffered a season-ending MCL injury in the same knee.

He has worked vigorously to get back to full strength and learn the position, and he has put himself in a good spot to win the starting job this spring if he can prove to be at least an adequate defender.


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MLB: Sandy Alderson to Meet the New York Mets for Second Time reports today that the Mets have scheduled a second interview with former Oakland A’s GM Sandy Alderson next week, and Alderson could be named the next general manager of the Mets when it’s all said and done.

The Mets began their search for a new GM last week, when they interviewed former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes, White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn, Red Sox scouting director Allard Baird and Alderson. The Mets also may interview Tigers assistant GM Al Avila.

Sandy Alderson is currently working for Major League Baseball under Bud Selig, and was previously the team president of the San Diego Padres. Before that, he was the longtime GM of the Oakland A’s, where he learned how to build competitive teams with financial restrictions on the payroll.

If the Mets do indeed hire Alderson, he’ll have a lot more payroll flexibility than he ever did running a baseball team. The Mets have a lot of money coming off the books following the 2011 season, when Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez mercifully will be in the final year of their deals.

Carlos Beltran is in the final year of his deal this year as well, although he still may be a productive player going forward if he can stay healthy. I’m sure the Mets will explore potential trades with Castillo and Perez and may consider it with Beltran.

Once the Mets hire a new GM, he can get to work on reshaping the ball club his way, and the Mets can hire a new manager and try to figure out where they stand. It’s going to be a daunting task to rebuild this team back to where they can contend in a tough division, but hey, ya gotta believe.

If Alderson is indeed the next GM, I’m optimistic about the future. The team has a lot of young, productive players who have room to grow and develop around Wright and Reyes. This team has the potential to turn it around quickly and be an above-.500 team if the right moves are made.

We Mets fans know baseball becomes a year-round sport when it comes to the offseason. In the meantime, I’d really like to see a Rangers-Giants World Series. Another Yankees-Phillies series would be insufferable.


You can find more Mets news and analysis at The Shea Faithful

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New York Mets Begin Their Great GM Search of 2010

You can find more Mets analysis at The Shea Faithful

Well Mets fans, it’s finally that time. We knew this day was coming, we could see it from a mile away.

Now that Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel are officially gone, the Mets are moving on from the roller coaster six years of the Minaya era. It’s a shame, more than anything, that it had to come to this. Minaya and Manuel were nice guys and good baseball men, but when it got right down to it, they just couldn’t get it done.

The Wilpons have vowed to fix this, and so far, they’re off to a good start. The Mets plan to interview five to seven candidates in person, with at least three interviews scheduled for next week.

Confirmed by team sources as candidates so far are White Sox assistant GM Rich Hahn, former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes, and former Royals GM Allard Baird. The three will interview at some point next week. It’s also been reported that the Mets will talk to Sandy Alderson, a long-time former Athletics GM who is currently a consultant to the commissioner.

After all candidates are interviewed, there will be a second round of interviews before the team makes an offer to a potential hire. All four are intriguing options, in my opinion, and it lets me know the Wilpons are serious about finding the right man for the job this time around.

During a news conference last Monday when the Wilpons announced the firings of Minaya and Manuel, Jeff Wilpon made it known the team intends to interview candidates with varying levels of experience.

Whether it’s a young up-and-comer like Rick Hahn, who’s never been a GM before; a guy like the 40-year-old Byrnes or the 48-year old Baird, who have done it before; or the 62-year-old Alderson, who’s a longtime veteran, the Wilpons are determined to find the right guy for the job.

Regardless of who gets the position, they’ll have to prove that they’re the right person for the job. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York lists a skill set of qualities he’d like the next general manager to have, from intelligence, decisiveness and good attention to detail, to common sense, discipline, and the willingness to draft over slot (something the Mets rarely did over the past few years).

Rick Hahn is interesting as a rookie candidate. Hahn graduated from the University of Michigan, the same alma mater of Fred Wilpon, before moving on to Harvard Law. He joined the White Sox in 2002 and provided a good compliment as a financial and statistical analyst as an assistant to GM Kenny Williams, a former player and scout who is more of a talent evaluator.

Before he was hired by the White Sox, Hahn was an agent for two years. He was promoted to his current position of vice president/assistant general manager in 2007 after demonstrating expertise in negotiating contracts, as well as a strong comprehension of the sabermetric analysis that has revolutionized the game in the past decade.

In March, Baseball America voted Hahn as the No. 1 general manager prospect in baseball. He previously interviewed for the St. Louis Cardinals job before withdrawing his name from consideration, and the Pirates and Mariners expressed interest in interviewing him as well.

I’m not sure if the Wilpons will feel comfortable handing the keys to the franchise over to a first-time GM, but if they do, it might as well be Rick Hahn who gets that assignment. If Hahn nails the interview, he may get the job.

After all, the goal is hire the best candidate for the job, and who’s to say the inexperienced Hahn isn’t that guy? Unlike the other candidates, at least Hahn can say that he’s never failed as general manager before, something I’m sure Byrnes and Baird think about.

Josh Byrnes was a big up-and-comer when he was hired by the Diamondbacks in 2005 at age 35. He previously had worked as an assistant GM under Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd and later Red Sox GM Theo Epstein. In his second season as GM, Byrnes’s Diamondbacks won the NL West and advanced to the NLCS where they lost to division rival Colorado.

Byrnes was rewarded in February of 2008 with an eight-year contract extension that was supposed to last until 2015. But the Diamondbacks crumbled over the last few years and the team cleaned house midway through the 2010 season, firing Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch shortly before the All-Star break.

Allard Baird is currently the head of the professional scouting department for the Boston Red Sox and an assistant to GM Theo Epstein. He has not surfaced as a general manager since being fired by the Royals midway through the 2006 season.

Baird worked for the Kansas City Royals for 18 years, including the role of general manager from 2000-2006. Often hamstrung by financial limitations, Baird’s reign as Royals GM is mostly remembered for the Royals’ constant parting with their top prospects, like Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye, and Carlos Beltran.

The Royals only had one winning season during his time as GM, with three 100-loss seasons in the AL Central. The small market Royals rarely spent money on both the major league roster or the amateur draft, as the Royals continually drafted cheaper, easier to sign players as opposed to the top prospects available.

If Baird got the Mets job, he wouldn’t have to worry about that anymore. The Mets have always been a big spender on the free agent market, and they would likely give the new GM the payroll flexibility to rebuild the roster. There’s even talk that the Mets are more willing to ignore baseball’s slotting system and go get the best players available in the draft, which is a breath of fresh air.

Sandy Alderson, the veteran ex-GM who now works for MLB as a top executive, is the other end of the candidate spectrum.

Alderson was the GM of the A’s from 1983-1997 before taking a job as MLB’s Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations in 1998. He held that position until 2005, when he was hired as the CEO of the Padres. He resigned from that spot in 2009, and has worked for the commissioner since then.

Alderson has an impressive track record. After the A’s ordered him to slash the team’s payroll in 1995, Alderson began focusing on getting more bang for his buck, developing the philosophies that would enable him to field a cost-effective team. He and assistant Billy Beane became known for this style of managing, and Beane is famously the subject of the 2003 book, Moneyball.

Alderson certainly has the experience as a successful general manager, and if he’s truly interest in the job, I’m happy the Mets are bringing him in to interview.

Like I said, it’s a good start for the Wilpons. Hahn, Byrnes, Baird and Alderson will interview next week, and it’s a solid start in the search for a new GM. Let’s just hope the Wilpons are more than just lip service and get it done this time around. The Mets are in desperate need of a winning identity, and it’s up to Fred and Jeff Wilpon to decide who’s the right man for the job.

Hey, ya gotta believe, right?

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The Legend of R.A. Dickey Grows As New York Mets Shut Out Phillies Again

You can find this article here on my Mets blog,

Think R.A. Dickey is for real? Or is he just a flash in the pan? See the debate here.



If you’ve watched the Mets this season, you know how much of a roller coaster it’s been. From the hot start to April to the inconsistent May, to a month of June where they looked like true contenders and then a July that put that talk to bed.

August has been funny to the Mets so far, they’ve pitched well, they’ve gotten some timely hits here and there but not enough to consistently win. Heck, their closer is hitting his father in-law harder than David Wright’s been hitting the baseball the past few weeks.

There’s been turmoil in Oliver Perez, John Maine, Luis Castillo, the usual bums.

But there have been bright spots in Angel Pagan, Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, and Jon Niese.

But in my mind, no one has been a greater story for the Mets this season than veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

Dickey has been tremendous since being called up from Buffalo earlier this season, and you could argue that he’s been the Mets best righthander on the roster all year.

Dickey is 8-5 with a 2.43 ERA in 17 starts this season. He’s only had three starts this season in which he gave up more than three earned runs.

As far as some tough luck goes, he had a game on July 3rd against Stephen Strasburg in which he got a no-decision, despite throwing seven innings of two run (0 earned) ball.


And he had a duel with Tim Lincecum in San Francisco on July 15th where he was the tough-luck loser allowing one run in seven strong innings again.

Another no-decision later that month when Jerry Manuel pulled him for precautionary reasons after Dickey was limping after fielding a few ground balls in the sixth inning. Dickey was adamant about staying in the game but ultimately was pulled in a scoreless tie in a game the Mets would lose 1-0.

By the way, he rebounded to throw 8.1 scoreless innings his following start against the Cardinals.

Hey, all pitchers are victims or beneficiaries of their team’s offense. Not saying Dickey is unlucky or anything like that. He’s been tremendous, and he’s an easy guy to root for.

Dickey famously was born without an ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow, the ligament that is replaced when a player has Tommy John surgery. His $810,000 signing bonus for being the 18th overall pick in the 1996 draft was rescinded by the Rangers, who instead offered him $75,000 as practically nothing more than a gesture.

Dickey’s transition to a knuckleball pitcher in 2005 hasn’t always been smooth. Until this season, Dickey looked like he was really never going to be an effective starting pitcher in the majors.

 But all he’s done this year is be one of the best and most reliable starters in the game. 5.76 K/9, a career low 2.43 BB/9, a strong 78 percent Left On-Base percentage and a .278 BABIP that’s helped out by his career high 55.7 percent groundball percentage.

The New York Times did a terrific write-up on Dickey back in July, noting his love of reading and his perseverance to make it back to the major leagues. In that piece, when asked about how he keeps his head held high and keeps grinding, he quotes from the 2003 film, the Matrix Reloaded about hope.

“Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength and your greatest weakness.”

“There’s a real balancing act going on — for everybody in here — of what they can be and what they see themselves as, and what they are in the moment that they’re in,” Dickey said. “There’s a real battle going on. But my doubts about who I am with the pitch and what I think I can become with the pitch have never outweighed my hope.”

With that kind of attitude, how do you not root for a guy like Robert Alan Dickey? I for one hope to see him in a Mets uniform for the next decade. Omar Minaya found a diamond in the rough, finding a developing pitcher just now hitting his prime, right place right time for the Mets.

With the few bright spots on this team, it’s been so refreshing to have a guy like R.A. Dickey on the team. He’s a warrior who fights for every single out, every pitch, every single time he’s out there. The Mets are lucky to have him.

Yesterday, Dickey threw his second complete game one-hit shutout of the season, his first as a New York Met after he had one in April with the Buffalo Bisons. A measly single from pitcher Cole Hamels prevented Dickey from recording the first no-hitter in Mets history.

Instead, he threw the 35th one-hitter in Mets history, and the second one this season after Jon Niese’s gem against San Diego at Citi Field earlier this year.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Mets became just the third team since 1920 to have three 1-0 wins over a five-game span. They’ve also shutout the Phillies for the fourth consecutive time at Citi Field this season, dating back to their shutout sweep a few months ago.

The offense isn’t there right now, and really has been a disappointment this entire season. But the pitching has been phenomenal, led by Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey, along with Niese and Mike Pelfrey.

The Mets may not be gearing up for a miracle run to the finish as they’re still far out of the playoff chase. But going into 2011 and beyond, the future is most certainly bright for the Metropolitans. As long as their are guys like R.A. Dickey, they’re easy to root for going forward.

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New York Mets Need to Fire Someone Immediately After Road Trip From Hell

The Mets cannot continue to play this kind of baseball without someone being held responsible.

The Mets lost another 1-0 game today to fall to 2-9 on their horrific road trip. It should have been even worse. It could have been 1-10 or 1-9-1 with the tie going to home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi in that bizarre game in San Francisco.

The offense has fallen into a coma, being shutout for the fourth time on this road trip. The Mets have scored more than three runs in a game just three times in their last 16 games.

I’ve written so many different tones of articles this season with the rollercoaster season the Mets have had.

Unfortunately at the moment, the one I keep coming back to is the one where I said that it felt like Omar Minaya’s reign as GM has come full circle, that 2010 was feeling an awful lot like 2004 .

Howard Johnson deserves to be a former Mets hitting coach by the time the Mets plane lands in New York later tonight.

Under his watch, this offense has become stagnant, as the strikeouts are up, the quality at-bats are down, and the entire team looks listless with every plate appearance.

The hitting coach deserves to take the blame for that. Even the Phillies know that. They fired their hitting coach Milt Thompson on Thursday after a terrible road trip themselves that saw their team batting average and on-base percentage fall to 12th in the NL. (.254 and .322 respectively)

The Phillies also have been held to one run or fewer 23 times, the most since 2005 when they were an also-ran.

They’ve scored 20 runs in their first three games under their new hitting coach.

I’m not saying the Mets should fire ‘HoJo’ and everything will be ok–it won’t be. But the man has to go. These hitters simply cannot listen to the advice of a career .249 hitter any longer. It’s gotten them nowhere.

Howard Johnson is the first of likely a few casualties that don’t deserve to survive this season if the Mets, who are now only one game above .500 at 50-49, end up crashing and burning again.

The Braves are in the stratosphere compared to the Mets right now, at 7.5 games ahead. The Phillies, despite the injuries they’ve had and their inconsistent offense, are five games behind Atlanta, 2.5 ahead of the Mets. The Marlins are only half a game behind the Mets at 49-49.

The Mets better get this ship righted fast. As the trading deadline approaches in less than one week, they’ll have to decide whether they’re buyers, sellers, or something in-between.

HoJo should be gone by Monday or Tuesday, hopefully. Jerry Manuel may not be too far behind. And we know Omar Minaya is loyal to Jerry and won’t want him ousted…which means he could be headed out on the same train as well, if the Mets don’t pick it up soon.

(You can also find this article on my Mets blog,, as well as on my personal sports blog MetsJetsNetsBlog.)

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MLB Trade Rumors: Five Pitchers the New York Mets Could Target

Having missed out on acquiring the services of Cliff Lee, the Mets will turn to the best of the rest among potential trade targets as they look for an in-season acquisition to help boost them to their first postseason berth in four years.

We know they need pitching primarily, so let’s look at five pitchers who the Mets could target in the next few weeks.

Starting pitching is likely still the priority for the Mets, as they would love to acquire a starter so they could move Hisanori Takahashi back to the bullpen, where he’s more effective.

The numbers back that up, too. Takahashi is holding hitters to a .188/.262/.268 line on pitches 1-25 in his outings this year in 129 plate appearances.

Those numbers go up as the game goes on, with a .315/.378/.573 line between pitches 26-50, and a .459/.474/.649 line between pitches 76-100.

Acquiring a starter would improve the rotation AND the bullpen simultaneously, with the effectiveness of Takahashi in relief.

Although starting pitching will be the top target for Omar Minaya (pictured above at the All-Star Game) and company in the next few weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised to see relievers looked at too.

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New York Mets Top Prospect Jenrry Mejia Finally Optioned To Minors

Jerry Manuel finally loosened his grip on the development of top pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia, following the Mets 4-0 loss in the Subway Series finale on Sunday, allowing the 20-year-old to return to AA Binghamton to become a starting pitcher again.

Mejia, who was named the Mets top overall prospect by Baseball America in 2009, ahead of Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, and Jon Niese among others, had been used sparingly out of the bullpen since making the team as a reliever out of spring training.

Mejia become the youngest pitcher to appear on a Mets’ Opening Day roster since Dwight Gooden, although it remains to be seen if Mejia will ever become the pitching sensation Doc was.

But the bottom line is that Jenrry Mejia should never have been moved to the bullpen in the first place.

Sure, there are positives to look at when reflecting on his time with the big league squad. He got some experience pitching to major league hitters, he learned the nuances of being a major league pitcher from the coaching staff and K-Rod, and at times showed flashes of the talent he has.

However, none of that outweighs the negatives of disrupting the development of your top pitching prospect.

Instead of being in AA Binghamton learning how to pitch, Mejia spent the first 69 game of 2010 in the Mets bullpen, occasionally pitching in a big spot in the seventh inning, (like he did against the Yankees in his final big league game as a reliever) but more often than not he was used once or twice a week and in low-pressure situations.

Jerry Manuel is the culprit for the delay in sending him down, as Manuel had been holding him hostage as he fought to save his job earlier in the season. Most of the Mets brass wanted Mejia to remain and develop as a starter, but Manuel had said that as long as he was here, Mejia would be on the roster.

Selfish? Maybe. If I were Manuel, and I saw a guy who could throw that hard and I was in the last year of my contract, hell, I’d want him up here too.

Lucky for me, I’m not in the last year of my affiliation with the Mets, I’m a lifelong fan and I’m here for the long-term. I’ve said it countless times over the course of the year how bad of a mistake it was to bring Mejia up as a reliever and how frustrating it was that he wasn’t sent down sooner. (Evidence here , here , here and here .)

Mejia burst onto the scene in 2009 when he dominated High-A ball before posting a 9.54 K/9 in AA Binghamton at age 19, leading scouts to pay attention to him as a serious blue-chip prospect.

Not too shabby for a guy who used to shine shoes for a living and never picked up a baseball until he was 15, despite growing up in the baseball-obsessed Dominican Republic.

Nonetheless, it’s obvious Mejia needs to go down and work on his off-speed pitches. With the Mets this year, he threw his fastball about 78% of the time , and with an average velocity of 95.1 mph it’s easy to see why. However, he won’t be an effective major leaguer until he refines his curveball and his changeup so he can keep hitters from sitting on his fastball.

Right now, he’s only thrown 161.1 minor league innings, so he’s pretty much a baby in terms of his development. Hopefully he’ll be able to adapt quickly to his more familiar spot in the starting rotation with the hopes of helping this team down the stretch and in the future as a potential ace.

From the Mets perspective, I expect Bobby Parnell to be recalled to take Mejia’s spot in the bullpen. Parnell was last year’s version of Mejia, a lifelong starting pitcher who was moved to the bullpen in the majors because of his electric stuff, although Parnell has now made a permanent move to the bullpen as will likely remain a reliever long-term.

After losing two of three at Yankee Stadium, the Mets now get to return to Citi Field following a 7-2 road trip to face two tough AL Central teams in Detroit and Minnesota. The Mets have been a terrific home team all season , so hopefully they’ll continue their home dominance against two very good teams and get back on track after losing their first series in quite some time.

(This article was originally posted on my personal blog, MetsJetsNetsBlog and can be found here )

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New York Mets Stay Hot on the Road as They Head to Showdown with Yankees

Last month, after the Mets won two of three against the Yankees at Citi Field, a lot of my Yankees-fan friends said similar things with the same general notion.

“Oh, it’s just two games, it doesn’t matter. The Subway Series doesn’t matter.”

To be fair, that is partially true. Although, why do I feel like they’d be singing a different tune if the Yankees had taken the series?

The whole notion of the Subway Series being irrelevant is a big oversimplification of what the series represents. Of course, when you play a team six games out of a 162-game season, it really doesn’t matter much.

Sure, there are bragging rights for the fans, as well as love from the Empire State Building, but other than that, both the Mets and the Yankees know that it’s just a three-game series against the crosstown rival that is a blip on the radar compared to division play.

That being said, the argument that the Subway Series means nothing is simply not true. I’m not old enough to remember the times when the Mets were world-beaters and were the pulse of NYC baseball like they were in the ’80s, but I’m not young enough to have lived exclusively in a Yankee-dominant city, either.

The Yankees haven’t always been perennial contenders, yet they have been in every single season since interleague play started in 1997. The Mets have had good teams in those times, but it’s a fact that since interleague play started, the Mets have always been the underdogs, which is fine.

In past years, for better or for worse, the Mets have used the Subway Series as a midseason litmus test, and it’s pretty interesting to look back at how they’ve responded in years past.

For example, in June of 1999, after a second straight loss to the Yankees that was the Mets eighth loss in a row, the Mets fired three coaches (pitching, hitting, and bullpen coach) to try to shake things up. With a record of 27-28, the Mets were in disarray, trying to find their way.

Maybe it was the coaching staff shake-up that got them going, but something about the Subway Series woke up the Amazin’s that year. Including the win in the final game of the series, the Mets went on a 70-38 run to end the season, eventually finishing 97-66 and winning the NL wild card.

On the flip side, the crosstown rivalry epitomized the things to come for the 2009 Mets team, a broken down dilapidated roster full of replacement players, literally and figuratively. Johan Santana getting lit up for one of the worst starts of his career was the icing on the cake, and the Mets season that was already dying was effectively over after that series.

The 2010 Mets team, however, is a healthy, gritty, fundamentally sound team that has shown a fight and a resilience that last year’s squad did not.

After a terrible start to the month of May that had Jerry Manuel’s job status being questioned on a daily basis, they arrived back home to Citi Field on May 21st to start a six-game home stand against the two defending league champions, the Yankees and Phillies.

Although they had played well at home all year, many people didn’t like the Mets chances, especially after a heartbreaking 2-1 loss in the first game of the series.

Yet somehow, led by fantastic starting pitching, the Mets are a Major League-best 18-5 since May 22nd, including winning the final two of the Subway Series at Citi Field, and the unforgettable shutout sweep of the Phillies. For whatever reason, the Subway Series seems to have kick-started the Metropolitans again.

There’s really no way to explain it. Like people were saying last month, the Subway Series doesn’t matter in the long-term, it’s only six games. But yet, whether it’s coincidence or not, the Mets have caught fire ever since they played the Yankees at Citi Field last month.

It’s a testament to the character of this Mets team this year. Instead of being intimidated by the defending World Champions, the Mets thrived on the challenge of playing up to their competition.

On May 21st, the Mets were dead last in the tight NL East, three games under .500, looking up at eight teams in the wild-card race as well as all four of their division rivals.

Now, thanks to that 18-5 run and the current seven-game win streak, the Mets find themselves 10 games over .500, half a game behind division-leading Atlanta for the best record in the National League.

The Mets success at Citi Field is well documented, as the Mets 24-10 home record is among the best in baseball. However, even though they’ll be sleeping in their own beds this weekend, this is still a road series at Yankee Stadium, where the Bombers have put up a similar dominant record of 23-9. The Yanks also have the best record overall in the Majors right now, tied with the Rays at 41-25 atop the AL East.

The Mets started extremely poorly on the road, at one point 8-18, before consecutive series sweeps at Baltimore and Cleveland have brought it back up to a respectable 14-18. Still, it’s a tough task to expect the Mets to stay hot against a very good team in a very tough environment.

The next nine games are all against three of the elite teams in the American League, three in the Bronx followed by six games at Citi Field against the Tigers and Twins. It’s a very important stretch for the suddenly scorching Mets, who have won 11 of their last 12 overall.

All they need to do is keep doing what they’ve been doing the past few weeks: Take it one game at a time, get solid outings out of your starting pitchers, play good defense, and hope the offense stays hot in a very hitter-friendly ballpark.

It’s amazing how many twists and turns this season has taken, and we’re not even at the halfway point. Right now, the Mets are riding a wave of momentum, so why stop now?

Hopefully, they’ll just keep the good times going. With both teams playing as well as they are, it should be a very competitive series, and must-see TV for any New York baseball fan.

(This article was originally posted on my personal blog, MetsJetsNetsBlog and can be found here. )

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