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Friday, May 20, 2011
Mets morning briefing 5.20.11

By Adam Rubin

Dillon Gee took a no-hit bid two outs into the sixth inning, when Livan Hernandez broke it up with a clean single. The Mets nonetheless beat the Nationals, 1-0. A win Friday at Yankee Stadium would move the Mets to .500 for the first time since they were 4-4 on April 9.

Friday's news reports:

Terry Collins indicated Fernando Martinez is due to DH the first two games of the Subway Series. Carlos Beltran will DH the series finale. Read more in Newsday.

• Newsday's Anthony Rieber wonders if you would want Francisco Rodriguez or Mariano Rivera to close a game right now. K-Rod converted his 14th straight save Thursday, benefitting from an out call by ump Phil Cuzzi at first base on Jayson Werth. The only longer save-conversion streak in K-Rod's Mets career came to open his first season with the club, when he converted 16 straight until Luis Castillo dropped that infamous pop fly in the Bronx. Writes Rieber:

A safe call on Werth's grounder would have left runners on first and third with one out, the very situation Rivera couldn't escape with a 1-0 lead against the Orioles on Wednesday. The Yankees went on to win in 15 innings, managing to overcome Rivera's blown save and the questionable decision by Joe Girardi to remove a dominant Bartolo Colon after 87 pitches because that's how it's done these days. Yes, yes, we know, Rivera is the greatest closer of all time, so you have to go to him whether you need to or not. If the Yankees have a suitable lead in Friday night's Subway Series opener, Rivera will be on the mound in the ninth inning. "He's the best," Rodriguez said, ending any notion of a Great New York Closer Debate.

• Third base use to be the position of instability for the Mets. Now, it's second base. Newsday's David Lennon notes that since 2003, the year Jose Reyes debuted, there have never been fewer than four second basemen in any season. That came in 2006, when Jose Valentin played 94 games, Chris Woodward 39, Kazuo Matsui 31 and Anderson Hernandez 13. Writes Lennon:

Somewhat surprising is that the list includes three former All-Stars in addition to [Roberto] Alomar: Luis Castillo , Damion Easley and Reyes, who did it at shortstop. Of this group, four appeared in only one game: David Newhan , Andy Green , Wilson Valdez and Jose Offerman. Strangely, the forgotten Danny Garcia actually played 61 games (56 starts) during this turbulent stretch, and the Mets were forced to use as many as seven second basemen in three seasons: 2004, 2009 and 2010. "The guy I played with the longest was Luis Castillo ," said Reyes of Castillo's 342-game run. "Other than that, it's always changing. It's been like that my whole career, so it doesn't really matter to me."

• New Yorker Pedro Beato tells Steve Popper of the Record what the reliever thinks about the Yankees. "I hate the Yankees," Beato said. "My family -- I can tell there are no Yankees fans. I think I know more than those guys, not the older guys obviously because they’ve been in this situation. I’ve been to games. I know how crazy the fans can be. As a player you shouldn’t let that get to you. I know it doesn’t get to me. I’d rather play in these situations than play in a game where there’s not that many fans. That’s the whole excitement of the game, how the fans get into the game, how they cheer their team, the loudness and craziness of the crowd."

• Newsday's Neil Best looks at the Mets' sagging attendance, writing:

[Mets executive VP Dave] Howard said total tickets sold are comparable to this time last year. That suggests more tickets than last season were sold for the summer months, because through Wednesday average paid attendance was down an average of 3,031 per game to 27,288, according to baseball-reference.com. (The Yankees are down, too, by 2,699 per game to 42,265. But, like the Mets, they say sales for the entire season are roughly similar to last year.) Even if the Mets match last season's total paid attendance of 2.56 million -- down from 3.15 million in 2009 -- they will not generate as much revenue, thanks to a 14-percent average reduction in ticket prices.

Brian Costa of The Wall Street Journal reviews the list of almost no-hitters for the Mets. It's been 7,849 games without producing one in franchise history. The San Diego Padres are the only other team without a no-hitter.

• Read game stories from Thursday's 1-0 win in the Star-Ledger, Daily News, Times, Post and Newsday.

• More paperwork was filed by trustee Irving Picard on Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court regarding his $1 billion-plus lawsuit against Mets owners. Picard notes, as in a previous filing, that the Mets ownership group sought to purchase fraud insurance that would pay out if it turned out the Bernard Madoff investment was a Ponzi scheme. That, alone, may not exactly qualify as a gotcha, though. After all, wouldn't it be routinely prudent given the sum of money invested -- even without suspcision -- to have some sort of insurance?

Writes the Times on that insurance topic:

“The very fact” that Wilpon and Katz and their business partners “were in the market for this ‘one of a kind’ insurance policy” to protect their investments against a Ponzi scheme “establishes incontrovertibly” that they were on “notice” of Madoff’s “possible fraud,” Picard asserted in court papers filed Thursday.

The Daily News provides the rebuttal, writing:

Wilpon and Katz deny knowing anything of Madoff's schemes, and Greg Nero, general counsel for Sterling Equities, said the most sensational claim in Picard's new filing was "just wrong. "They didn't go shopping," Nero said. "A trusted colleague made a recommendation about looking at insurance, so they spoke to an insurance salesman, received some basic information and they ultimately decided not to purchase it because they trusted Mr. Madoff -- and believed that they did not need it."

Read more on the latest legal developments in Newsday.

• This is probabaly the last season of Subway Series for Beltran, unless he somehow winds up with the Yankees. Writes columnist Tara Sullivan in the Record:

The end of Beltran’s distinguished Mets career will come at season’s end, if not before, and with him goes one of the last connections to the tantalizing mid-2000s, when the team was good enough to match the Yankees stride for stride, good enough to fall a cruel called third strike short of a 2006 World Series appearance. Now, the team feels barely recognizable.

• Major League Baseball confirmed it is investigating Nats GM Mike Rizzo's behavior after umpires alleged inappropriate verbal conduct after the game, which included the controversial ninth-inning call that went against Werth at first base. The Daily News reports umpires did a visual lineup of sorts, whipping out a media guide and looking at photos to figure out it was Rizzo who allegedly confronted them. The Nats had no comment on Thursday night about the incident.

• Daily News columnist Bill Madden weighs in on the Mets' recent success. Throw out a one-game series against the Florida Marlins (because of Tuesday's rainout) and the Mets actually have won four straight series. Writes Madden:

If you're Collins, you have to be pretty gratified with how the Mets have responded following the loss of two of their three middle-of-the-order hitters, David Wright and Ike Davis, and their most effective early-season starter, Chris Young, winning as they did yesterday for the sixth time in eight games to move to within one game of .500. A month ago they were 5-13 and seemingly headed for early oblivion.

Willie Randolph tells Tyler Kepner of the Times he wants another chance to manage in the majors. Randolph is currently the bench coach for Buck Showalter in Baltimore, after serving in that capacity with Ken Macha in Milwaukee. Randolph tells Kepner: “You’re loyal to the people you work for, but you still itch and burn. I’ve always been a competitor, and I talk to my guys about competition and how you want to be the best. For me, you want to get back to that, because I know I’m going to be better, and I know that I’ll be able to get more out of my players than I did the first time because of the experience.”

Oliver Perez surrendered only one hit  -- a triple -- and two walks in five scoreless innings in his debut Thursday with Double-A Harrisburg with the Nationals organization. However, his fastball only touched the mid-80s mph. "There's deception in his delivery," manager Tony Beasley tells the Harrisburg Patriot-News. "There's a funk to it. I'm guessing it's tough for a hitter to try to pick it up right away." Read more of that report here.

BIRTHDAY: Better known as a Cardinal, Ken Boyer was born on this date in 1931. (He died in 1982.)  Boyer hit .266 with 14 home runs in 1966, then was traded to the Chicago White Sox midway through the 1967 season.  Boyer’s career spanned 15 seasons and he was regarded as one of the top defensive third basemen of his time, winning five Gold Glove Awards. -Mark Simon