The New York Mets need to make changes in order to remain competitive in the NL East this summer.

They are 18-17, which is slightly better than some fans had them in April, before they took the three games in 24 hours sweep against the Dodgers.

There is no question that they have a challenging schedule the first half of play, and not having a return date of Carlos Beltran is certainly weighing on the minds of fans and players alike this spring.

During the three game series sweep of the Dodgers, it looked like they were going to run on all cylinders and go into Philadelphia to claim back the division.

Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel, along with the coaching staff, will not have jobs by the end of the first half if this team does not turn around and start scoring runs and winning with consistency.

Lineup changes will be the first ones made, because since Jose Reyes has moved to the third spot, he has not been performing well at all.

The last two games, he was asked to get down bunts to advance a runner and neither time was he able to get it done, he ended up hitting into a double play and popping out in his two attempts.

To add to the Mets misey, this week reports have come out that the Phillies have been using binoculars as a method of picking up pitching sequences.

 Phillies manager Charlie Manuel denied the accusations, then told CSN Philly:

“Somebody maybe ought to check the Mets if they did that.  Their [bleeping] home record is out of this world and they’re losing on the road.  Sometimes that’s a good indicator of getting signs and [crap],”

“I see somebody setting there at 17-2 at home and 4-12 on the road, I’d get concerned about that.  That kind of crosses my mind… I’m not accusing them, but you look at that and – damn. We’re about the same home and road.  I’m just saying their record is much better at home and they hit better… (The Rockies complained),”

“Because we beat them… Keep crying.  I’m sure if they can steal signs, they’ll steal them.  And believe we will, too, if we can get them.  Yeah, we will.  Legally.  If you’re dumb enough to let us get them, then that’s your fault.  That’s been in the game for a long time.”

In recent days, the Mets’ offense has come to a halt, mainly due to the record number of strikeouts by David Wright (46 for the season), and an overall lack of clutch hitting, especially in the middle of the order. 

Wright does have a reasonably impressive OPS of .932 and OBP of .408 considering the number of strikeouts.  He is also currently the Mets stolen base leader with 8 swipes in 12 attempts.   In all fairness, he is the only Met to have started every game so a day’s rest may help to refresh him.

Ike Davis has been a blessing, offensively with a .875 OPS and a .402 OB., along with a .292 Batting  Average.

The 23 year-old Davis has been hitting with consistency and making incredible acrobatic catches where he literally flips into the Mets dugout (luckily his teammates have been assisting with heads up reaction in making sure Davis does not get injured).

Daniel Murphy will end up playing in AAA when he is ready to return from rehabbing his sprained knee most likely in a few weeks.  

Jason Bay has not proved why the Mets wanted him to come to Queens from Boston yet, and Jerry Manuel has expressed concern that he does not know Bay well enough to judge what it will take for him to be productive.

Jeff Francoeur, while invaluable for his outfield assists in right field, has been struggling at the plate and fans are now seeing why the Braves were so anxious to trade him last year for Ryan Church. 

Chris Carter has replaced Frank Catalanotto off the bench and in the outfield and “the Animal” has already made his presence known both on the field and in the clubhouse.

The bullpen has been mismanaged with Fernando Nieve and Pedro Feliciano being over used due to the absence of Ryota Igarashi, who is progressing nicely on his rehabilitation after straining his hamstring.

A solid effort by Johan Santana was wasted last night against the Marlins but it was far from the first wasted effort by the starting pitchers, which has been one of the most consistently positive aspects of the New York Mets season thus far with 35 games played in 2010.

There is still plenty of baseball to play, but unless the RISP numbers improve, along with smarter bullpen decisions, the bottom line is that the team will not win.

If the hitters continually fail with scoring opportunities, Howard Johnson will be removed from his position as Batting Coach.

Jerry Manuel needs to recognize the weaknesses and show management and fans alike that he is serious about putting the best team on the field each day.

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