After a day off Monday, the Mets now begin a six-game road trip that includes series against the NL Central-leading Reds and NL East-leading Nationals. Chris Young (3-6, 4.87 ERA) opposes Cincinnati right-hander Mat Latos (10-3, 3.81) in the 7:10 p.m. opener.
Tuesday's news reports:
• David Wright told Mike Puma in the Post he's "optimistic" he will remain a Met long term. But, Wright added -- which consistently has been the case -- that it's ultimately about the opportunity to win. Wright said he won't negotiate during next season either. So essentially he signs an extension this offseason, or he's headed to free agency after the 2013 season, at which point the Mets really will be competing for his services.
“You want to be able to win, and I’ve only experienced a little bit of that here,” Wright told Puma. “In a perfect world, we get this thing turned around and going in the right direction and ultimately I get to experience the bad, the ugly and the good here, which includes winning. ... We’ve taken a baby step in the right direction and I still think there’s a long way to go before you can say that we’ve kind of turned that corner where I think that we will. ... Coming up through the system, I have a tremendous amount of loyalty to this organization. I can’t tell you what the future holds, but I’m hoping -- optimistic -- that something will get done.”
R.A. Dickey, like Wright, is under team control for 2013 through an option. The Mets have a $5 million team option for next season on Dickey. “Nothing with respect to 2013 rides on what we do with those two players,” Sandy Alderson told Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger, while adding: “Their situations will be at the top of our list. But if we have to exercise options, we have to exercise options.” Writes McCullough:
Earlier this season, Dickey and the Mets discussed a short-term extension into at least 2014, according to people with knowledge of the talks. The people requested anonymity to protect the sensitivity of future negotiations. The team elected to wait and observe Dickey during the course of the season. ... The negotiations earlier this year never involved such lofty sums, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions.
• Tim Byrdak on Twitter said the surgery to repair the torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder is set for Sept. 5. He revealed he also will have torn meniscus cartilage fixed in his right knee. Byrdak had that procedure performed on his other knee during spring training. Byrdak had his right knee heavily wrapped after games for several weeks before being shut down with the shoulder issue. Did it contribute to the shoulder issue? That's only speculation. The 38-year-old southpaw hopes his shoulder injury is not career-ending, but he needed to have the procedure anyway just to play catch with his children. With Josh Edgin the lone lefty currently in the bullpen, C.J. Nitkowski and/or Robert Carson could receive a promotion from Triple-A Buffalo. Read more in the Daily News.
• Citi Field looks like it will have a neighboring sports venue. Frederic U. Dicker in the Post reports Major League Soccer is finalizing a deal for a 25,000-seat stadium to be built at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, adjacent to the Mets' stadium. An expansion team will be placed there. Writes Dicker:
The stadium’s cost would be fully funded by the MLS ownership group, the project’s sponsor, but state, city and Metropolitan Transportation Authority approvals would be needed because parklands are involved, it was learned. Under an arrangement now being discussed, the city, which owns Flushing Meadows Park, would give up about nine acres for the project, but would receive an equivalent amount of land from the state for parkland use. The ownership group had considered constructing a stadium at Pier 40 on the West Side of Manhattan but decided the area of the Flushing Meadows sports complex made more sense, one source said.
Citi Field will host a soccer match Wednesday between Ecuador and Chile. Fred Wilpon and family have expressed interest in an MLS expansion team in the past, but it is unclear if the Wilpons will be involved in the new club.
• Mike Kerwick in the Record asks the relevant questions about the Mets: Should Santana be shut down? What will the Mets do with Jason Bay? Why not call up Zack Wheeler? And what are the prospects for Wright and Dickey extensions?
• Although homerless, Ike Davis is hitting .303 (10-for-33) in August. "My last month and a half, two months, I'm starting to play like I used to a little bit," Davis told Roderick Boone in Newsday. "It's nice. I wouldn't say that I'm steaming hot right now. But I definitely feel more comfortable. I have a better approach than I did. I have a little more of an idea what I can do with balls. I'm just trying to have good at-bats, see the ball and get a pitch that I can handle."
• Jared Diamond in the Journal examines whether Johan Santana, who is next due to face the Nationals on Friday, ought to be shut down before season's end to maximize his contribution in 2013. Neither Terry Collins nor Santana has completely ruled out the possibility of Santana's season being cut short, but the manager said internal dialogue has not taken place. Writes Diamond:
But Santana likely can't help the Mets' chances this season, so it might be wise to preserve however many bullets still exist in his left arm for next year. On the other hand, curtailing Santana's season at this point admits defeat. Though they sat 9½ games out of a playoff spot entering Monday, the Mets (55-60) still believe they can put together another hot streak like the one they built before the All-Star break. On July 5, the Mets were 45-38 and held a share of the wild card. "He's a big part of this," catcher Josh Thole said of Santana. "Until you're mathematically eliminated, you give yourself every chance in the world."
• Dickey, who has 15 wins, opposes Reds right-hander Mike Leake on Wednesday. The knuckleballer is bidding to become the Mets' first 20-game winner since Frank Viola in 1990, but Benjamin Hoffman in the Times finds another statistic more interesting. Writes Hoffman:
With 166 strikeouts through 24 games, Dickey is tied for the National League lead and is on pace to finish with 234. The pitcher he is currently tied with, Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals, is expected to have his innings limited as the season moves into its final month, making Dickey’s path to the strikeout crown even simpler. (The major league leader, Justin Verlander of Detroit, has 174 strikeouts.)
Of course, Strasburg is a more typical strikeout pitcher than Dickey is. His fastball, according to FanGraphs, averages 95.8 miles per hour, a far cry from Dickey’s knuckleball, which dances in at 77.1. But Dickey has held tough, striking out 10 or more batters in a game six times this season, including 10 in a complete-game victory over the Miami Marlins last Thursday. And should Dickey outlast Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers, he would join Phil Niekro as the only knuckleball pitchers to lead a league in strikeouts.
TRIVIA: When the Mets selected Mike Pelfrey ninth overall and the Reds selected Jay Bruce 12th overall in the 2005 draft, which two players were selected in between? (Hint: The teams with the Nos. 10 and 11 picks were the Tigers and Pirates.)
Monday's answer: The Mets acquired Jeff Conine on Aug. 20, 2007, in the last trade between the organization and the Reds. Cincinnati acquired minor leaguers Jose Castro and Sean Henry in the swap.