New York Mets: Gary Carter

Morning Briefing: The final countdown

March, 29, 2014
Mar 29
7:38
AM ET
MONTREAL

FIRST PITCH: The Mets play their final 2014 exhibition game Saturday with a 1:05 p.m. first pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays at Olympic Stadium.

Daisuke Matsuzaka opposes Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow.

The 1994 Montreal Expos, which included Pedro Martinez, Cliff Floyd, Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom and Larry Walker, will be honored pregame. That team was 74-40 and poised to make a serious run at the World Series when a strike ended the season.

Saturday’s news reports:

Jenrry Mejia, who appeared poised to get at least one big-league start during the opening week of the season, departed Friday’s game at Olympic Stadium after taking a line drive off his right forearm in the fifth inning. Terry Collins said the forearm dramatically swelled. Mejia was off to the hospital for some late-night X-rays Friday.

Collins had planned for the combo of Mejia and Matsuzaka to serve as the fifth starter and hedge against Jonathon Niese not being ready to come off the DL on April 6 to face the Cincinnati Reds. Now, assuming Mejia needs time to recuperate, Matsuzaka could be starting on April 4 instead of Mejia and John Lannan could become the insurance for Niese.

Niese, incidentally, continued to feel good the day after pitching in a minor-league game.

Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and MLB.com.

• Gary Carter’s widow Sandy and daughter Kimmy Bloemers were on hand for a pregame ceremony Friday honoring The Kid in Montreal. A crowd of 46,121 packed into Olympic Stadium for the Mets exhibition game against the Jays. Former Expo Warren Cromartie used the occasion to continue to lobby for MLB to return to Montreal, while acknowledging that meant the relocation of an existing team and not expansion. Read more on the Gary Carter ceremony and MLB’s future in Montreal in the Daily News, Foxsports.com, Times, Journal and MLB.com.

Bobby Parnell surrendered a walk-off single in the ninth as the Mets lost to the Jays, 5-4. Travis d’Arnaud homered against his former organization. Mejia had limited Toronto to a solo homer by Jose Bautista in four-plus innings before the liner forced him to depart.

• The Mets have released $35 standing-room-only tickets for Opening Day.

Jose Reyes called Ruben Tejada a couple of weeks ago to offer support. “They just need to let Tejada play,” Reyes told Kristie Ackert in the Daily News before Friday’s Mets-Jays game. “Don’t put so much pressure on him. He’s like 23-24 years old, so I mean the talent is still there. Let the guy play. Let the guy develop his talent. Just give him a chance.”

• Collins said Lucas Duda still may see some outfield action to get into the lineup if both Ike Davis and Duda are hitting well. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Record.

Omar Quintanilla officially has beaten out Anthony Seratelli for the backup shortstop role, according to Collins. If something were to happen to Tejada and Quintanilla, David Wright would be the primary candidate to complete the game at shortstop, the manager added.

• Minor-league teams begin play Thursday. Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom highlight Las Vegas’ rotation. Double-A Binghamton’s roster should include Kevin Plawecki, Cory Vaughn, Jack Leathersich, Adam Kolarek, Dustin Lawley, Matt Reynolds and Wilfredo Tovar. Class A St. Lucie should include Brandon Nimmo, Gabriel Ynoa and Steven Matz. Low-A Savannah should include Dominic Smith, last year’s first-round pick.

• Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos on Friday defended last offseason’s trade of Syndergaard and d’Arnaud to the Mets for R.A. Dickey.

“I think it’s good for both,” Anthopoulos told Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger. “We definitely need starters and we definitely need innings. We’d love to get more guys like R.A., especially since he almost led the AL in innings pitched -- I think he was just behind James Shields by five-something. He started out slow, but second half of the year put up a three-and-a-half ERA and had a great year for us.

“Ultimately, Josh Johnson got hurt, Brandon Morrow got hurt, [Mark] Buehrle’s done what he’s always done. Our offense is still a pretty good team, but guys have missed time. If we had just had a little more production out of the three, four, five in our rotation, it would have changed things for us. He’s obviously a really key part of our team.”

BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets reliever Scott Atchison turns 38. ... Oakland GM Billy Beane, a former Mets first-round pick, is 52.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: How concerned are you about the Mets’ bullpen?

Sandy Carter praises 'beautiful' tribute

March, 28, 2014
Mar 28
8:28
PM ET

Adam RubinWidow Sandy Carter and daughter Kimmy Bloemers address the media at Olympic Stadium after a moving pregame tribute to the late Gary Carter.
MONTREAL -- Ten years after the Montreal Expos played their final game at Olympic Stadium, Major League Baseball returned Friday night, with an exhibition game between the New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays.

The event, which drew an announced crowd of 46,121, appropriately began with a tribute to the late Gary Carter.

With widow Sandy Carter and daughter Kimmy Bloemers on the field for the pregame ceremony, and with ex-Montreal players Steve Rogers, Warren Cromartie and Tim Raines also participating, a video tribute to The Kid played on the Olympic Stadium scoreboard. Organizers also unveiled a banner on the right-field wall that read:

MERCI! THANK YOU!

‘THE KID’ 8

GARY CARTER

1954-2012

Adam RubinOlympic Stadium was packed Friday night for the Mets-Blue Jays exhibition game.




“It was emotional. It was beautiful,” Sandy Carter said afterward about the ceremony. “It was even more special than I thought it would be, which I had [high] expectations. We just felt so much love from everyone. The city always embraced Gary, embraced us as a family. I just really felt that tonight.

“We bought a home here. Little Kimmy was born here. We learned a little French. We made it our home. We felt privileged and blessed to be here for 11 years, and he gave 100 percent.”

Said Kimmy Bloemers: “I feel so honored to be Gary Carter’s daughter, not just because of the fame at all. It’s not truly that. It’s because he treated people like people, and he loved people. I know he was on this Earth for a short time, but he was here to impact, and he was here to love people and basically teach all of us a lesson in how to treat people and how to live life, and how to live with a lot of joy.

“He played this game with a lot of joy. How can you not love baseball when you see somebody like that play the way that they do? He instilled it in me. And now I’m instilling it in my own children. And it’s because of my father.”

Carter, who died on Feb. 16, 2012 after a battle with brain cancer, played 12 seasons with the Expos before getting traded to the Mets on Dec. 10, 1984.

Sandy Carter agreed having the Mets involved in the event made the evening that much more significant.

“It makes it extra special, because we love Montreal, but when we got traded -- or when he got traded, I say we ... we were together 40 years -- that was some exciting years too with the Mets,” she said.

She appreciated the current Mets and Blue Jays players taking an interest in the ceremony, too.

“It meant so much to me when I looked over and I saw the Blue Jays standing up on the dugout [steps] and the Mets standing up, that to me was very honoring to Gary,” Sandy Carter said. “I thought that was very special.”

Cromartie, who played for the Expos from 1974 through ’83, is spearheading an effort to attempt to bring Major League Baseball back to Montreal. He acknowledged that would have to come through relocation rather than an expansion team.

“There’s no expansion in Major League Baseball any time soon,” Cromartie said. “We all know that. We know the teams that are available. Of course, we’re not talking about the teams that are available out of due respect for their team now and their franchise now. But things have changed for the better.”

Cromartie insisted the climate is different now than a decade ago, when the Expos played their final game here before relocating to Washington and becoming the Nationals. He said there is a commitment from businesses and TV to support a new team. He also cited a more favorable exchange rate between the Canadian and U.S. dollars.

“The corporate sector is stepping up. The local businesses are stepping up. And the TV are stepping up,” said Cromartie, who married a Canadian woman, and who played minor-league ball in Quebec City as well. “I can’t complain now. I’m very pleased with what’s going on.

“This here tonight is a tremendous stepping stone for Montreal. The whole world should be watching this, and I’m sure Major League Baseball will be watching as well.”

Cromartie concluded his pregame-ceremony remarks about Carter to the large Olympic Stadium crowd by saying: “And let’s bring baseball back to Montreal!”

Morning Briefing: Getaway Day!

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
5:45
AM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: The Mets are set to bolt from Florida late Thursday afternoon.

After completing Grapefruit League play with a 12:05 p.m. game against the Washington Nationals at Tradition Field (ESPN/SNY), the Amazin’s head to Montreal for a pair of weekend games against the Toronto Blue Jays at Olympic Stadium.

Plenty is going on at the Mets’ complex as the team readies to depart.

Jonathon Niese is scheduled to throw in a 1 p.m. minor-league game. The action comes 10 days after Niese received a cortisone injection in his left elbow in New York to address inflammation. Assuming Niese passes this test, plus another minor-league outing five days later, he will be activated from the disabled list to face the Cincinnati Reds on April 6 at Citi Field.

A setback means Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jenrry Mejia will be in the rotation.

Also on a minor-league field Thursday, Bartolo Colon pitches. The Mets prefer Colon pitch on the back field rather than face the Nats because Colon is scheduled to oppose Washington’s Gio Gonzalez in Game 2 of the regular season in six days at Citi Field.

Prospect Cory Mazzoni will oppose Jordan Zimmermann in the Grapefruit League game.

Thursday’s news reports:

Dillon Gee tossed six no-hit innings against the Houston Astros in his final tune-up for Opening Day. He finished Grapefruit League play with a 1.08 ERA and one walk allowed in 16 2/3 innings. The Mets actually lost the game, 9-6, thanks to a seventh-run seventh against John Lannan, Gonzalez Germen and Carlos Torres. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Daily News and MLB.com.


Adam RubinVic Black was demoted Wednesday.


• The Mets demoted Vic Black to Triple-A Las Vegas. Once a bullpen lock, Black pitched himself off the roster by allowing 23 baserunners in 9 1/3 innings.

Germen will make the roster with Black’s demotion. Jose Valverde, who was informed midday Wednesday that he had made the club, will serve as the primary setup man to Bobby Parnell. Parnell may not work more than two straight days early in the season.

Read more on Black’s demotion and the bullpen composition in the Post, Journal, Star-Ledger, Newsday and MLB.com.

Kyle Farnsworth officially re-signed with the Mets and is expected to open the season with Las Vegas. He has an out a month into the season if he is not promoted to the majors by then.

• The Mets do not expect to make any trades before Opening Day.

• Before Friday’s Mets-Blue Jays game in Montreal, there will be a pregame ceremony honoring the late Gary Carter, who starred for the Expos before arriving in Queens via trade. The Kid’s family will be on hand.

“It is going to be hard. It hasn’t been two years yet, but I knew we had to be there,” widow Sandy Carter told Kristie Ackert in the Daily News. “I agreed when I heard there would be a game at the old park. And then when I heard it was the Mets, I knew it was right. It’s like two pieces of our hearts joining together that night.”


Frank Franklin II/Associated PressThe late Gary Carter will be honored before Friday's game at Olympic Stadium.


As for Sandy Carter’s Montreal experience, she tells the newspaper: “We grew up there. We were 21 and 20 when we got married and moved there. He learned French to be more involved with the fans and the franchise. We were building a house there. And then we started hearing about the trade.

“At first we were shocked, and then we heard from the Mets how Gary was the missing piece of the puzzle there. It was a different challenge, but it was a wonderful one. And the 1986 World Series … well … that was just the best.”

• Fifty-nine percent of New York City residents would root for the Yankees in an October Subway Series and 37 percent would root for the Mets, a Quinnipiac University poll finds. Of the NYC residents surveyed who identified themselves as “very” or “somewhat” interested in baseball, 61 percent said the Yankees were their favorite team and 27 percent said the Mets. The Yankees even have more fans than the Mets in Queens, by a 50-43 margin, the study found. Check out the full results here.

• Forbes appraised the Mets at $800 million, the ninth-most valuable MLB team. The Mets annually dispute the magazine’s appraisal. The Yankees lead MLB with a $2.5 billion appraisal, followed by the Dodgers at $2 billion. The Tampa Bay Rays are worth the least, at $485 million. See Forbes’ full valuation list here. Read more in the Post.

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post suggests Terry Collins has his work cut out for him finding playing time for Ike Davis and Lucas Duda. Writes Sherman:

One Mets official admitted, “It is not ideal.” Which is currently the 2014 baseball season leader for understatement of the year. If it were just that the two bat from the same side of the plate and play the same position, and that neither has remained healthy enough or good enough to win the job outright, then it could all be chalked up as a simple problem of roster inflexibility, and deal with that Terry Collins.

But, come on, we see the real day-after-tomorrow problem coming as clearly as Knicks coach Mike Woodson’s dismissal. Unless one of the duo seizes the job and doesn’t let go -- and what in either’s past suggests that likelihood -- then Collins is going to face the daily dilemma, disquiet and discussion about who is going to play first base.

• Mike Puma in the Post writes that Ruben Tejada has won the shortstop competition by default.

Juan Lagares needs to concentrate on strike-zone discipline to be a regular with the Mets. Collins pointed to a game Tuesday in which Lagares chased a fastball way up and out of the zone and struck out. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• Anthony DiComo at MLB.com has a Q&A with broadcaster Kevin Burkhardt.

• Columnist David Lennon in Newsday asks David Wright if the Mets have kept the promises they made to him when he signed an eight-year extension.

• The New York Observer has a lengthy cover piece on Wright. Writes Rafi Kohan:

When I ask about his relationship with Fred Wilpon, the team’s owner, who openly ripped Wright -- “A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar.” -- in a 2011 New Yorker article that focused on the team’s financial dealings with Bernie Madoff, Wright sighs and says the whole thing was blown out of proportion. “Did it sting a little bit? Of course,” he says, “because you’re talking about your owner saying these things. But our relationship is strong enough that he can say that and it’s not going to break the loyalty that either one of us have for one another.”

From the bloggers … Rising Apple staff gives its Mets record predictions.

BIRTHDAYS: Matt Harvey turns 25. ... 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo is 21.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Are you surprised by Vic Black’s demotion?

Morning Briefing: Zack OK with model too

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
6:25
AM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: Jonathon Niese, who had been dispatched to New York early in camp for an MRI of his left shoulder, makes his 2014 Grapefruit League debut Tuesday at 1:05 p.m. against the St. Louis Cardinals (WOR 710 AM).

Niese tossed three innings in a controlled intrasquad game Thursday.

He should get three additional starts beyond Tuesday before drawing the Opening Day assignment on March 31 against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.

Niese is due to face Cards right-hander Adam Wainwright at Roger Dean Stadium.

See the Mets’ full travel list here.

Tuesday’s news reports:

Zack Wheeler tells columnist John Harper in the Daily News that his drive is similar to Matt Harvey’s, although not their demeanors.


Adam RubinZack Wheeler compared and contrasted himself to Matt Harvey. "We're different," Wheeler said.


“We’re different," Wheeler told Harper. "Everybody expects all of us to love everything about being a star. I’m just laid-back. But I love playing baseball and the attention that comes with it -- I guess I just don’t show I love the attention. Just because I’m laid-back, people have a perception that I don’t care or whatever. Obviously I do. I’m ready to take the next step. I’m ready to take on [the Harvey role] and everything that comes with it."

Lightheartedly asked if the Harvey role also included dating models, Wheeler added:

“Whatever comes, we’ll see. I don’t go out that much. Last year I didn’t even go out one time in New York because I was so concentrated on what I was doing, just being called up at the time. But we’ll see. If a hot model comes along, so be it. Why not, right? …

"I’m not really 'country,'" Wheeler added about his Georgia upbringing. "Everybody thinks that. My family moved to a country-type area when I was in eighth grade, and my friends there all had lifter trucks, so I wanted one and I got one with my bonus money. But I love New York: bright lights, tall buildings, gorgeous girls. It’s great. People have perceptions about me because I don’t say that much, but they really don’t know me."

Ike Davis has been placed in a walking boot because of a continued issue with a strained right calf. Of course, getting fitted for a walking boot back in 2011 after a collision with David Wright in Colorado contributed to ending Davis’ season, because it constricted his circulation. But this one is more loose-fitting.

Lucas Duda, meanwhile, is expected to reenter Grapefruit League action Wednesday or Thursday. Duda, who has been troubled by left hamstring tightness, hit in a cage without issue Monday.

Read more in the Times, Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and Journal.


Adam RubinJosh Edgin was among the first players cut from big-league camp.


• The Mets dispatched 15 players to minor-league camp Monday, in the first round of cuts. Josh Edgin, whose velocity has sagged, headlined the list.

Also sent out: left-handers Steven Matz, Jack Leathersich and Adam Kolarek, right-handers Erik Goeddel, Logan Verrett, John Church and Chasen Bradford, catcher Kevin Plawecki, infielders Wilfredo Tovar and Danny Muno, infielder/outfielder Dustin Lawley and outfielders Brandon Nimmo, Cesar Puello and Cory Vaughn.

Leathersich had surrendered a monster homer to Giancarlo Stanton during Monday’s Grapefruit League game.

Forty-nine players remain in camp, including the rehabbing Harvey and Jeremy Hefner.

Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday and MLB.com.

• With Scott Rice now the lone lefty reliever in camp, Terry Collins plans to give John Lannan a look in that bullpen role. Still, Lannan is scheduled to start Wednesday’s Grapefruit League game and remains in the fifth-starter’s competition with Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jenrry Mejia and, officially, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom.

Wilmer Flores, who last started at shortstop in 2011 with Class A St. Lucie, will be in the starting lineup at that position Tuesday in Jupiter. Flores already has finished two Grapefruit League games at shortstop after starting elsewhere.

Bartolo Colon took a scoreless effort into the fourth inning before surrendering three runs and the Mets ultimately lost to the Miami Marlins, 11-1, Monday at Tradition Field. Mets pitchers allowed 19 hits and Ruben Tejada committed an error.

In a morning “B” game, Dillon Gee tossed four scoreless innings, Mejia added two perfect frames, and Tovar and Vaughn contributed early two-run doubles against Kevin Slowey in an 8-0 win against Miami.

On Colon, columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post quotes J.P. Ricciardi saying: “When I was scouting with Oakland, I saw him one-hit the Yankees in Yankee Stadium, and he did it on a fastball and a changeup. He threw one slider in the ninth inning to [Derek] Jeter. I will never forget that. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever saw. He’d go in, go out, great changeup. That’s what I love about the guy. He’s a strike machine.’’

Writes Tyler Kepner in the Times:

Colon used his fastball for 85.5 percent of his pitches last season with Oakland, according to Fangraphs. Cleveland’s Justin Masterson was second, at 73.3 percent.

This strategy would seem to have made more sense for Colon when he was young, and could throw about 100 miles per hour. But Colon turns 41 in May, and his fastball averaged 89.9 miles per hour last season. Everyone else in the top 10 in fastball percentage threw harder.

With his style of pitching, Colon is comparable to another 40-something right-hander who just left the New York stage.

“It’s like Mariano was,” said Mets outfielder Chris Young, Colon’s teammate on the A’s last season. “You know what’s coming, but it’s all about where you’re starting it and what you’re trying to accomplish with each pitch. He thinks about that when he’s on the mound. He’s accomplishing different things, moving in and out. Even though it is just the fastball most of the time, he still keeps guys off-balance somehow, and he breaks a lot of bats.”

Read more on Colon’s outing in the Star-Ledger, Record, Daily News and MLB.com.

Read more on Gee and the “B” game in the Star-Ledger and MLB.com.

• Marc Carig in Newsday discusses the Mets’ sound baserunning last season. Writes Carig:

According to FanGraphs, the Mets' baserunning was worth a big league-best 21.4 runs above average, or roughly two wins in the standings. Baseball Prospectus, which publishes its own version of baserunning value, also ranked the Mets No. 1 by a wide margin.

• Wally Backman interviewed in Port St. Lucie for the managerial position with Aguilas Cibaeñas of the Dominican winter league.

• Colon (Saturday) and Mejia (Sunday) are expected to start the Mets’ weekend split-squad games in Las Vegas against the Chicago Cubs. Also due on the trip: Wright, Curtis Granderson, Travis d’Arnaud, Bobby Parnell and Juan Lagares.

• Mr. Met has joined Twitter (@MrMet). Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• There will be a pregame tribute to the late Gary Carter at Olympic Stadium on March 28, with Carter’s widow Sandy on hand, when the Mets face the Toronto Blue Jays in the first of two exhibition games in Montreal, TSN’s Matthew Ross tweeted.

• New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie attended a second straight Mets game Monday. He declined an interview request from ESPNNewYork.com about baseball and rooting for the Mets.

• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post lists Davis vs. Duda as among “spring training’s juiciest position battles.”

• Read a Canadian perspective on the trade that sent d'Arnaud to the Mets in the Toronto Star.

From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report does not predict a happy resolution for Davis and the ballclub. … NY Mets Life examines why 2014 is a vital year of the Mets.

BIRTHDAYS: Hefner, who is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, turns 28.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Has Giancarlo Stanton’s homer on Monday landed yet?

The series in Metrics (Mets vs. Marlins)

September, 16, 2013
9/16/13
2:32
PM ET
The Mets won three of four games from the Marlins over the weekend, the victories coming much more from their pitching work than their hitting. Here’s a look at some of the highlights.

Props for Travis d’Arnaud
Travis d’Arnaud has not hit well since being recalled, but he earned his money in Sunday’s win by catching 12 innings and getting the walk-off hit in the 12th inning in the series finale.

D’Arnaud is the first Mets starting catcher to get a go-ahead hit in the 12th inning or later since Ronny Paulino did so against the Phillies in 2011.

That doesn’t sound as cool as the other note we like: d’Arnaud is the first Mets starting catcher to get a walk-off hit in the 12th inning or later since Gary Carter did so in Game 5 of the 1986 NLCS against the Houston Astros.

The RBI hit snapped an 11-game RBI drought for d’Arnaud.

Another extra-inning game
The 1-0 win was the Mets 18th extra-inning game of the season, the most they’ve played in a season since playing 18 in 2009.

The Mets have a pair of 1-0 shutouts this season, both of which ended in walk-off fashion in extra innings. The other came against the White Sox on May 7 (when Matt Harvey allowed one hit in nine innings). The last time the Mets had a pair of 1-0 walk-off shutouts was in 2006.

The win marked the 11th time the Mets have won a game of 12 or more innings via shutout, the third time in the last 20 seasons (the others being Opening Day 1998 against the Phillies and May 31, 2006 against the Diamondbacks).

Matsuzaka the winner
Daisuke Matsuzaka became the 326th different pitcher in Mets history to win a game (Vic Black became the 327th on Sunday) and joins Masato Yoshii, Hisanori Takahashi, Ryota Igrashi, Hideo Nomo, Kaz Ishii, Takashi Kashiwada and Shingo Takatsu as the eighth born in Japan to do so.

Matsuzaka was the 85th different Mets starter to pitch at least seven innings and allow two hits or fewer. The pitcher with the most such games in Mets history is Sid Fernandez with 13.

Matsuzaka has had much better success with two strikes in his last two starts, holding opponents to one hit in 24 at-bats. They had 10 two-strike hits against him in his first three starts.

Anemic offense
The Mets outscored the Marlins 8-7 in that four-game series, concluding a rough week on the offensive front. The Mets hit .169 with a .471 OPS over the last seven days, both of which ranked worst in the majors.

They are 7-for-38 with runners in scoring position on this homestand, which would explain why they would like David Wright to return to the lineup in the next few days.

Standings watch
The Mets are 67-82 with a .450 winning percentage. That ranks eighth-worst in the majors in a season in which the teams that finish in the bottom 10 in the standings get to protect their first-round draft pick when signing a free agent who has received a qualifying offer (basically a good free agent).

They would still lose their second pick if they signed one of those free agents, but would maintain that top-10 selection.

The Mets currently lead the No. 11 teams in the standings, the Padres and Giants, by 1 1/2 games.

Morning Briefing: Harvey Day at last

May, 22, 2013
5/22/13
2:31
AM ET

Seth Wenig/Associated Press
Relax everyone, Matt Harvey pitches at Citi Field today ... hopefully without the bloody nose.
FIRST PITCH: Matt Harvey gives Mets fans their once-every-five-days reprieve from an otherwise miserable season when he opposes unbeaten Cincinnati Reds right-hander Mat Latos (4-0, 2.91 ERA) at 1:10 p.m.

Since his major league debut last July 26 at Arizona, Harvey has compiled a 2.12 ERA, which ranks third in the majors during that span.

This season, Harvey’s 1.55 ERA also ranks third in the majors, trailing only the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (1.35) and Diamondbacks’ Patrick Corbin (1.44).

The Reds will bid for a three-game sweep at Citi Field for the second straight season.

Wednesday’s news reports:

• Sandy Alderson, appearing on the SNY telecast during last night’s game, said about potentially demoting Ike Davis: “It’s hard to ignore what happened last year. No. 1, we went through the same scenario the first part of the year. It’s troubling that it’s happened again. The positive is he did so well in the second half. So I think it’s hard to ignore that. At the same time, you do have to think about what might be different this year than it was last year. … It may be he is better off going to Las Vegas for some period of time. But at this point we’re going to live with Ike for a little longer.”

Alderson added that he believes Zack Wheeler will merit consideration for a promotion after two or three more outings with Las Vegas (without stating the promotion will be after the projected Super 2 deadline, which seems like common sense). The GM also believes Travis d’Arnaud, who will wear a protective boot on his fractured left foot for another nine days, will appear in the majors this season.

Watch Alderson’s appearance here. Read more in the Post.


Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press
Jon Niese threw 48 pitches in the first inning Tuesday.


David Wright had a two-out grounder go through his legs with the bases loaded and two runs scored in what became a 48-pitch, three-run first inning for Jonathon Niese. Niese managed to complete six innings despite the heavy first-inning workload, but the Mets again mustered no offense and lost to the Reds, 4-0, Tuesday. Collin McHugh surrendered a solo homer to Devin Mesoraco in the ninth for the lone other run.

The Mets’ three hits matched a season low. They have scored three runs or fewer in nine straight home games, matching the ninth-longest streak in franchise history.

Davis, the focus of boos, stranded two in scoring position with a fourth-inning groundout against Reds starter Mike Leake, his teammate at Arizona State. Davis is 0-for-24 with runners in scoring position in his past 18 games.

The Mets are 2-10 in their past dozen home games.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Star-Ledger, Record and MLB.com.

Jeremy Hefner appeared on “Outside the Lines” Wednesday to discuss the disaster wrought by a tornado in his former hometown of Moore, Okla. Hefner attended kindergarten and first grade at Briarwood Elementary, which was destroyed in the twister. He remains an Oklahoman. Watch the ESPN video here. Read more in the Times and Newsday.

• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post writes about Harvey Day:

Harvey is having fun. When he took the field for pregame stretching last night “Clique’’ by Kanye West, Jay-Z and Big Sean was blaring throughout Citi Field. To his teammates’ delight Harvey busted some moves. Clique is off the album “Cruel Summer.’’

Indeed.

On game day, Harvey is all business. From bloody noses to all kinds of weather to playing for a team that has to scale a mountain to score a run, nothing seems to stop Harvey from doing his job.


Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports
Zack Wheeler is back on the mound for Las Vegas today after missing one start.


• Wheeler is due to reenter the Las Vegas rotation today at 1:05 p.m. ET at Iowa after missing a turn. He received a cortisone injection last Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan for swelling in the AC joint in his right shoulder.

• In a spot start in his Triple-A debut, Rafael Montero took a scoreless effort into the seventh and final inning of Game 1 of a doubleheader. He then allowed a leadoff homer to Brian Bogusevic and departed with the score tied at 1 after a two-out walk. Josh Edgin entered and allowed the inherited run to score as Montero was tagged with a loss in his first appearance with the 51s. Las Vegas was swept with a 6-5 loss in Game 2. The 51s scored five runs in the top of the sixth to even the score, then Gonzalez Germen surrendered the tiebreaking run in the bottom half of the inning. Read the full minor league recap here.

• Montreal has named a street in the city after the late Expo/Met Gary Carter. Read more in the Montreal Gazette.

• Due to limited demand compared with previous seasons, Mets-Yankees Subway Series tickets for next week are not skyrocketing in price on the secondary market, reports Mark La Monica in Newsday. Writes La Monica:

The combined average price for the four-game Subway Series (May 27-30) this year is $133 as of Monday, according to TiqIQ.com, a ticket reseller that aggregates ticket prices across multiple secondary markets. That's down 13 percent from 2012, 19 percent from 2011 and 34 percent from 2010.

From the bloggers … The Eddie Kranepool Society looks at fan relations at Citi Field. .. Shannon from Mets Police wonders why there is a banner of Keith Miller outside Citi Field.

BIRTHDAYS: Collin Cowgill turns 27. He is hitting .236 with two homers and six RBIs and has a .333 on-base percentage in 15 games with Las Vegas since debuting with the Pacific Coast League club on May 4.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do you approve of the Mets’ patience with Ike Davis?

Morning briefing: Mets aim to avoid gutter

February, 17, 2013
2/17/13
7:54
AM ET

Adam Rubin
Ike Davis, Matt Harvey and the rest of the Mets crew hit the bowling alley tonight.

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: Mets pitchers and catchers get a late start Sunday, trying to avoid frigid morning temperatures -- at least by Florida standards -- by heading outdoors at noon.

The position players had an early wakeup call, though, with physicals scheduled for the wee hours of the morning.

Johan Santana is scheduled to proceed with his first bullpen session since getting shut down last August, according to pitching coach Dan Warthen.

The Mets then kick off their team-camaraderie-building weekly bowling events on Sunday night.

The first full-squad workout is Monday, and should include batting practice. We’ll be watching for an Ike Davis-Pedro Feliciano matchup.

Sunday’s news reports:

• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post asserts Fred Wilpon and family should demonstrate there are no financial restraints on Sandy Alderson by signing still-free-agent Jose Valverde. The Mets were willing to sign Valverde to a deal with an approximate $4 million base salary and incentives before they inked Brandon Lyon, sources told ESPNNewYork.com.

But Alderson said Wednesday that even with the uncertainty involving Frank Francisco, the organization is done adding free agents. Davidoff nonetheless suggests from an industry source the door is “slightly ajar” to Valverde.


Adam Rubin
Travis d'Arnaud


• Anthony Rieber in Newsday and Mike Kerwick in the Record profile catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud.

"What separates Travis is his hands," Sal Fasano , who managed d’Arnaud in Double-A, told Rieber. "They're so unique, both offensively and defensively. Catching, he's got great hands, and he can really hit. I don't like to compare people, but Mike Piazza was one of the strongest human beings with his hands that I've ever seen. Travis is quick with his hands. He's loose but he's powerful at contact. He was able to snap his wrists like not too many people can. That's why he has power to all fields."

• Steve Serby in the Post has a Q&A with Bobby Parnell, the closer assuming Francisco is unavailable … and maybe the closer anyway. It includes this exchange:

Q: Who was your boyhood idol?

A: I always idolized Roger Clemens as a pitcher. I’ve met him. I played with his son Koby in Hawaii. He hung out with us like he’s a normal person.

Jordany Valdespin indicated the offseason photo of him wearing a Marlins cap was tweeted from his account without permission by a relative. Terry Collins said Valdespin mostly will play infield during spring training. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, MLB.com and Newsday.

Jeurys Familia will be used as a reliever during spring training, Mike Puma notes in the Post.

“This guy has a chance to be a closer,” Collins told Puma. “When he gets command of that secondary pitch, where he can throw it when he wants to, with that sinker, I think he’s got a chance to be devastating. He’s a big, strong guy, durable, can pitch every day, so I just think he’s got the makings of a guy that can pitch late in the game.”

Jenrry Mejia remains absent as MLB conducts an age and identity check on behalf of the U.S. consulate in the Dominican Republic, notes Marc Carig in Newsday.

• Cody Derespina in Newsday makes a statistical argument for David Wright to lead off. Based on descending career on-base percentages, Derespina writes, the batting order would be: Wright, Mike Baxter, Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda, Davis, Ruben Tejada, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, John Buck. (After the first time through the lineup, Wright probably would not see many pitches with Baxter protecting him.)

• David Lennon in Newsday visits Mike Pelfrey in Minnesota Twins camp. Pelfrey, who is returning from Tommy John surgery, visited Port St. Lucie last week to dine with former teammates Dillon Gee, Parnell, Wright and Davis. Pelfrey joked he came to beat Wright in golf and win some money, but Wright topped him.

As for the end of his Mets tenure, the former first-round pick told Lennon: “I'll never forget last year when I got booed on Opening Day. Jason Bay and I got booed on Opening Day, and I'm thinking, 'Man, this is what it's come to, I guess.' You're not human if it doesn't bother you."

• Rick Peterson taught reliever Greg Burke a submarine delivery at the end of last spring training in camp with the Baltimore Orioles. Now he may make the Mets’ Opening Day roster, especially if Francisco ends up on the DL to open the season. Read more at MLB.com.

Marlon Byrd is the distinct favorite to claim an outfield spot. If not, fellow righty hitters Andrew Brown and Jamie Hoffmann are among the competitors. Read more on the outfield, with historical perspective, from Marty Noble at MLB.com. Writes Noble:

The '73 team reached the seventh game of the World Series with merely one legitimate offensive force among its outfielders -- Rusty Staub, who drove in 76 runs and hit 15 home runs. Even the heralded '86 Mets lacked power at the traditional run-production positions by the time they reached the postseason. [George] Foster (13 home runs, 38 RBIs) had been released in August, so the outfield had [Darryl] Strawberry (27, 93), [Lenny] Dykstra (8, 45) and [Mookie] Wilson (9, 45).

Not until 1987, after the club had obtained [Kevin] McReynolds, did the franchise deploy teams with sets of outfielders with genuine power at two positions. In the four seasons they played in the same outfield, Strawberry (144 and 390) and McReynolds (102 and 361) averaged 61 home runs and 188 RBIs as a tandem.

The current Mets would be delighted if their entire outfield produced at that rate this year.

• Bill Madden in the Daily News reviews the potential free-agent outfielders next offseason: Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson, Chris Young, Hunter Pence, Corey Hart, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Gomez, Michael Morse and Jeff Francoeur.

• Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger looks at the advanced age of the Mets’ bullpen, which may include LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Atchison and Feliciano. In a Q&A with Hawkins, the 40-year-old reliever talks about his godson Elijah Johnson, who stars for the Kansas basketball team.

From the bloggers ... Shannon from MetsPolice.com sees a sea of fourth outfielders. … Faith and Fear in Flushing reflects on eight years of blogging about Mets team that hasn't always stayed aloft. … Mets Merized reflects on the one-year anniversary of Gary Carter’s passing.

BIRTHDAYS: Roger Craig, who lost a combined 46 games for the Mets over the first two years of the club’s existence, was born on this date in 1930. … Former reliever Juan Padilla turns 36.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets still pursue Jose Valverde?

Please use the comments section to weigh in

Sad anniversary: Year since Kid passing

February, 16, 2013
2/16/13
10:09
AM ET
William Perlman/Star-Ledger/US PresswireGary Carter's family members were recognized on the field on Opening Day at Citi Field last season.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Today marks a sad one-year anniversary: the death of Hall of Fame Gary Carter from cancerous brain tumors at age 57.

"Driven by a remarkable enthusiasm for the game, Gary Carter became one of the elite catchers of all-time," commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement upon Carter's passing. "'The Kid' was an 11-time All-Star and a durable, consistent slugger for the Montreal Expos and the New York Mets, and he ranks among the most beloved players in the history of both of those franchises. Like all baseball fans, I will always remember his leadership for the '86 Mets and his pivotal role in one of the greatest World Series ever played."

The Mets wore "Kid 8" patches on their jerseys last season.

Late Kid's motorcycle auctioned for charity

November, 8, 2012
11/08/12
11:49
AM ET
The family of the late Gary Carter is auctioning the Hall of Famer's Harley Davidson motorcycle. All proceeds will benefit the Autism Project of Palm Beach County.

The 2004 V-Rod "100th Anniversary" model HD originally was a gift from the Mets to Carter upon his Hall of Fame selection. The motorcycle has 3,250 on its odometer.

Organizers write: "Personally-owned accessories worn by Gary and Sandy will also be a part of this unique auction package, including leather jackets with 'Kid' and 'Sandy' embroidered inside, as well as helmets, boots, and gloves."

To bid, click here.

Around the minors 7.26.12

July, 27, 2012
7/27/12
12:47
AM ET
BUFFALO 10, LOUISVILLE 7: Josh Rodriguez and Zach Lutz combined to drive in eight runs to support Gonzalez Germen in his Triple-A debut. Lutz delivered a two-run homer in the first. Two innings later, with the Bisons trailing 4-2, Rodriguez evened the score when he plated a pair of runners with the first of his three doubles. Lutz followed with a single to drive in Rodriguez for the 5-4 advantage. Buffalo did not trail again. Rodriguez doubled to kick off a two-run seventh. His third double plated three more runs to put the Bisons into double-digits. Overall, Rodriguez finished 3-for-5 with five RBIs and two runs scored. Lutz was 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two walks. Germen allowed four runs in his first two innings, but then held the Bats off the scoreboard for five more frames. He struck out three and walked two. Germen was promoted to fill the spot opened by Matt Harvey's promotion. Lucas Duda went 0-for-4 with a walk in his first game with the Bisons since being optioned by the Mets. Fred Lewis went 4-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored in the leadoff spot. Mike Baxter went 2-for-5 in his fourth rehab start with the Bisons. He's hitting .438 with Buffalo. Box

PORTLAND at BINGHAMTON (ppd.): The game will be made up as part of a 5:35 p.m. doubleheader Friday. Cory Mazzoni returns from the DL to oppose left-hander Drake Britton in Game 1. Darin Gorski opposes right-hander Mike McDonald in the nightcap.

ST. LUCIE 7, LAKELAND 2: Left-hander Shawn Teufel, son of Mets third base coach Tim Teufel, allowed seven runs and nine hits in five innings for the Tigers. Erik Goeddel tossed six strong innings and struck out six and Rafael Fernandez went 3-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs for St. Lucie. Cory Vaughn homered and scored twice and Aderlin Rodriguez went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Goeddel allowed two runs and four hits with two walks. Hamilton Bennett tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings and walked two with one strikeout. Jeff Walters pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings and gave up two hits. Vaughn's solo homer in the first inning opened the scoring. The Mets pulled away with a four-run fourth. Richard Lucas had a sacrifice fly to score Vaughn. Fernandez drilled a three-run homer to extend the lead to 5-0. The Mets earned a victory on Gary Carter Tribute Night. Pregame ceremonies were held in memory of Carter. Carter's wife, Sandy, threw out the ceremonial first pitch and was accompanied by family members. Carter’s former teammate, Howard Johnson, escorted the Carter family to the field. Box

SAVANNAH 4, KANNAPOLIS 2: Matt Reynolds broke a 1-all tie with a two-run single in the eighth to help the Gnats to their third straight win. Cam Maron and Dustin Lawley each drew walks to start the frame. After a sacrifice bunt, the Intimidators intentionally walked Cole Frenzel to load the bases. Reynolds followed by shooting his single into right. Charley Thurber followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Gnats a 4-1 advantage. Reynolds finished 2-for-3 and was hit by a pitch. Gnats starter Alex Panteliodis allowed one unearned run in seven innings but did not factor in the decision. Panteliodis, one start after striking out a career-high 10 batters, fanned nine and walked one. Savannah starters had a 0.73 ERA (4 ER/49 IP) during the team’s eight-game homestand. The Intimidators scored the game’s first run in the second inning on a throwing error by Maron trying to cut down Leighton Pangilinan, who stole third. Savannah evened the score at 1 a half-inning later, when Thurber drove home Gregory Pron. Reliever Randy Fontanez earned the win with a scoreless eighth. T.J. Chism allowed a run in the ninth, but converted his 16th save in 17 chances. Box

KINGSPORT 1, BRISTOL 0
KINGSPORT 6, BRISTOL 3:
Steven Matz made his third straight scoreless start, limiting Bristol to two hits and three walks while striking out eight in six innings in Game 1. Persio Reyes allowed one unearned run in five innings in the nightcap. Box 1, Box 2

BROOKLYN 7, BATAVIA 1: Jayce Boyd and Kevin Plawecki each collected three hits and contributed to eighth- and ninth-inning rallies. After wasting several scoring chances, the Cyclones broke through in the eighth. Phillip Evans, Boyd and Plawecki consecutively singled to load the bases. Alex Sanchez then tied the score at 1 on a sacrifice fly. Stefan Sabol doubled for the second time in the game, scoring Boyd, for a 2-1 lead. Jeff Glenn walked to reload the bases, and Jeff Reynolds delivered an RBI single. Eudy Pina added a sacrifice fly. Brandon Nimmo then connected on an RBI single to cap the five-run outburst. In the ninth, Boyd and Plawecki again singled to start the frame. Both scored when Dimas Ponce laid down a sacrifice bunt that Batavia pitcher Joe Scanio fielded but threw away while attempting the out at third base. Cyclones starter Luis Mateo allowed one run on six hits in 6 2/3 innings while striking out seven in a no-decision. Logan Taylor (1-0), who recorded the final out in the seventh, and was credited with the win. Matt Koch tossed two scoreless innings, allowing only one hit, to close out the win. Box

Compiled from team reports

Mets morning briefing 7.23.12

July, 23, 2012
7/23/12
5:57
AM ET

Kim Klement/US Presswire
With eight days until the trading deadline, it's worth considering whether the Mets ought to trade Scott Hairston and Tim Byrdak with an eye toward the future.
The Amazin's second-half swoon continued with an 8-3, 11-inning loss Sunday as the Dodgers swept a series in Queens for the first time since 2002 and dropped the Mets under .500 for the first time this season, at 47-48.

Afterward, the Mets announced prospect Matt Harvey would be promoted and join the rotation Thursday at Arizona. Harvey is due at Citi Field on Monday, along with Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Darth Vader. (More later.)

Harvey technically will be a member of the "taxi squad" today -- in uniform pregame, but inactive. The Mets then will make a roster move sometime before Tuesday's game. By activating Harvey early, he will be allowed to throw a bullpen session with pitching coach Dan Warthen this afternoon at Citi Field and get acclimated to major league surroundings in advance of his debut against the Diamondbacks.

Harvey tweeted Sunday night: "Thank you everyone for the support! Such an amazing feeling. Heading to the airport and NYC early in the morning."

Harvey arrives amid a freefall. The Mets are 1-8 since the All-Star break, with the first-place Nats now coming to Citi Field for three games. The Mets then embark on a trip to Arizona, San Francisco and San Diego.

The Mets have been notorious second-half collapse artists in recent years. They were 31-40 in the second half last season. In 2010, they were 31-43 post-All-Star break. In 2009, it was 28-47. And folks certainly remember '07 and '08 all too well, even though the Mets actually had winning records both of those second halves.

"It's very disappointing," Terry Collins said about the current swoon. "We're not happy with the way things have gone the last 10 days, so we've got to buckle down and get after it and get back over. We've got a tough few games coming up. We've got to pick ourselves up and get ready for them."

Monitor this today, too: Fan-favorite Jordany Valdespin started over Jason Bay on Sunday. Will Collins sit Bay a second straight day against a right-hander and use Valdespin again in left field? It bears watching.

As for the next eight days, the Mets clearly no longer are in the position to be aggressive buyers before the July 31 trade deadline, if they ever intended to be in that category. They are now five games behind the Braves, who occupy the NL's second wild-card position.

Will the Mets turn around and sell? After all, Scott Hairston particularly, as well as Tim Byrdak, would be desirable pieces for contenders.

A team official last week insisted the Mets would not dismantle, citing how the club held Jose Reyes last year in part to keep things competitive. But it's worth noting the Mets traded Carlos Beltran last July 28 when they had a 52-51 record and were four games out of the wild-card lead. An AL executive said after Sunday's sweep about the Mets trading Hairston and/or Byrdak before July 31: "I think they will."

Monday's news reports:

Courtesy of New York MetsMatt Harvey


• After J.P. Ricciardi watched Harvey start for Triple-A Buffalo last Monday, the Mets bypassed the 2010 first-round pick for a weekend start against the Dodgers that instead went to Miguel Batista. Batista then bombed, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks in three innings Saturday. The 41-year-old Batista was designated for assignment before Sunday's game, clearing roster space for the promotion of Elvin Ramirez to assist a bullpen that Batista helped overtax.

Harvey seemed a no-brainer to step into that Dillon Gee/Batista rotation spot, especially given the lack of alternatives. But then Harvey complicated matters by stumbling Saturday with Buffalo. Harvey allowed six runs on seven hits, two walks and a hit batter, and surrendered a pair of homers, in five innings during the Bisons' 11-0 loss to Charlotte (White Sox) as minor league pitching coordinator Ron Romanick watched.

For the season with Buffalo, Harvey is 7-5 with a 3.68 ERA in 20 starts. He has allowed 97 hits, walked 48 (one intentionally) and hit six batters while striking out 112 in 110 innings. The strikeout total ranks second in the International League, trailing only Columbus' Corey Kluber (118).

With Harvey's addition, the rotation through one turn looks like this:

Nationals at Citi Field
Monday: RHP Chris Young (2-4, 4.11 ERA) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (7-6, 2.35)
Tuesday: RHP R.A. Dickey (13-1, 2.84) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (12-5, 3.32)
Wednesday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (1-3, 5.85) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (10-4, 2.85)

Diamondbacks at Chase Field
Thursday: Harvey vs. LHP Wade Miley (11-5, 3.02)
Friday: LHP Jon Niese (7-4, 3.59) vs. RHP Josh Collmenter (2-2, 3.82)

Excluding supplemental picks, Harvey will become the 10th pitcher selected by the Mets in the first round to debut in the majors with the organization, joining:

Year drafted, Player, Opponent, Debut Date, Decision, Line
1965, Les Rohr vs. Dodgers, Sept. 19, 1967, W, 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER
1967, Jon Matlack at Reds, July 11, 1971, ND, 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER
1969, Randy Sterling at Expos, Sept. 16, 1974, W, 5.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER
1979, Tim Leary, at Cubs April 12, 1981, ND, 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER
1982, Dwight Gooden at Astros, April 7, 1984, W, 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER
1994, Paul Wilson vs. Cardinals, April 4, 1996, ND, 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER
2001, Aaron Heilman vs. Marlins, June 26, 2003, L, 6 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 1 ER
2004, Philip Humber vs. Nationals, Sept. 24, 2006, ND, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER (relief)
2005, Mike Pelfrey vs. Marlins, July 8, 2006, W, 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER

Mets first-round picks Scott Kazmir, Billy Traber and Cliff Speck debuted elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the trickle-up may very well mean top prospect Zack Wheeler gets a promotion from Double-A Binghamton to Buffalo.

Read more on Harvey's impending major league debut in the Star-Ledger, Post, Times and Newsday.

• The Mets rallied to tie Sunday's game in the bottom of the ninth on Ike Davis' run-scoring "groundout." (Replays suggested he was safe.) But L.A. posted five runs in the 11th against Ramon Ramirez to notch the series-sweeping victory. On a positive note: Daniel Murphy went 4-for-5 and was 9-for-11 with three RBIs and a walk in the series. Since June 26, Murphy is hitting .440 (33-for-75) with 18 RBIs and 16 extra-base hits in 20 games. Read game recaps in the Journal, Post, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Daily News and Times.

• Writes columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post:

Another team’s scout, in attendance at yesterday’s game, had a better feel for the situation when he said: “Terry’s done a great job with these guys. This team isn’t very good.” Agreed that Collins has run this team admirably, but I’ll concur even more with the scout’s second thought. These Mets played over their heads in the first half, riding the backs of three elite performances -- those of R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana and Wright. Santana is on the disabled list now, with no return date. Dickey has slowed down after his brilliant beginning. Wright? He remains outstanding, which is great news for the Mets regardless of the overall team record. There just aren’t enough pieces surrounding Wright, however -- Jason Bay fittingly made the final out yesterday, as a pinch-hitter -- and the team’s run of good luck has run out.

• At Sunday's Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, those gathered were treated to a video tribute to the late Gary Carter as part of the program. Carter's widow Sandy attended.


Al Bello/Getty Images
Mets-fan Snooki is due to be at Citi Field today.


• Snooki, a bona fide Mets fan, as well as fiancé Jionni LaValle will be at Citi Field on Monday afternoon. She will be taping segments of an MLB.com show that is due to appear in August. Tonight also is the second-annual Star Wars night at Citi Field. Darth Vader, Jedi and Stormtroopers will be at the stadium.

Mike Baxter went 1-for-3 and was hit by a pitch Sunday with Binghamton. Baxter (displaced collarbone/fractured rib cartilage) played a full game in left field, marking his first time playing in the field during an eight-day-old rehab assignment.

Frank Francisco (oblique) threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Sunday at Citi Field and should begin a rehab assignment shortly. "I'm trying to do whatever I can to be there, but it's a process," Francisco said, according to Tom Pedulla in Newsday. "I've got to take the time and play it safe. I don't want to miss the rest of the season."

• Savannah right-hander Domingo Tapia took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning before allowing a leadoff single. Savannah ultimately beat Rome, 5-1. With Buffalo, manager Wally Backman was ejected and not around to see the finish in a 10-8 loss to Charlotte. Garrett Olson allowed six runs (four earned) as he stepped into the Triple-A rotation following Hefner's promotion. Jenrry Mejia tossed two scoreless relief innings in the loss, recording two strikeouts and allowing two hits. Read Sunday's full minor league recap here.

Jared Diamond in the Journal notes that while the Mets link Johan Santana's DL trip to the sprained right ankle he suffered in his final first-half start, Santana had begun to struggle well before that. In the start immediately after his June 1 no-hitter, Santana allowed six runs against the Yankees (and the fault was placed on extra rest that disrupted Santana's routine). Writes Diamond:

Among the 11 other pitchers to throw a no-hitter since 2010, only one pitched worse over this long of a stretch immediately afterward: Philip Humber posted a 7.38 ERA in his first eight starts following his perfect game in April. In general, pitchers who throw no-hitters -- especially ones as talented as Santana -- tend to stay on course after the no-no. But perhaps Santana broke that trend because of his unusually high pitch count. In fact, only one pitcher since 2010 required more pitches to throw a no-hitter than Santana: Edwin Jackson, who threw a whopping 149 pitches in his 2010 effort for the Diamondbacks. He struggled immediately afterward, pitching to a 7.24 ERA in his next five starts before regaining his form.

Andy Martino in the Daily News says there is racial harmony among players in the Mets clubhouse.

David Satriano in the Post speaks with Niese about the southpaw's Sunday performance.

TRIVIA: For which team did former Mets first-round pick Tim Leary appear in the most games?

Sunday's answer: The Mets slipped below .500 for the duration of the season last year on Aug. 11, when the dropped to 58-59 entering a series at Arizona. They subsequently were swept by the Diamondbacks.

Mets morning briefing 7.12.12

July, 12, 2012
7/12/12
8:38
AM ET
Baseball is nearly back. The Mets will hold a workout today at Turner Field in Atlanta at 4:15 p.m. to get back into the swing for Friday's second-half opener, which now pits Chris Young against Tim Hudson.

Johan Santana is expected to throw a bullpen session to test whether his twisted right ankle is ready to perform Sunday, potentially against ex-Brewer Ben Sheets. Otherwise, Jon Niese would pitch the finale against the Braves and Santana would wait until Tuesday in D.C.

In Tampa, Jason Bay (concussion) and Frank Francisco (oblique) are expected to make a second attempt at beginning a rehab assignment for Class A St. Lucie. Wednesday's Florida State League game was rained out.

Thursday's news reports:

Dillon Gee plans to undergo surgery Friday at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis to repair damage to an artery in his shoulder. Gee was discharged on Wednesday after being hospitalized in New York for two days with a blood clot in his shoulder, which doctors believe they successfully dissolved using a catheter. The surgery in St. Louis should prevent the recurrence of clots and give Gee a healthy long-term prognosis, as well as allow him to pitch without issue from the get-go in 2013. As for this season, Gee most likely is done. Still, he may begin throwing in as soon as six to eight weeks, so a return in late September (or if the Mets are in the postseason in October) is not entirely out of the question. Read more in the Journal, Post, Star-Ledger, Daily News, Record, Times and Newsday.

• Before the resolution by Gee to undergo Friday's procedure, Terry Collins indicated Miguel Batista would assume Gee's rotation spot, at least for the short term. That turn can wait until as late as next Saturday before being required, because the Mets have an off-day after the series in Atlanta.

Collins has not weighed in since the latest Gee development, regarding Friday's surgery. But there is zero reason to believe that changes the resolution to use Batista the first time that spot comes up. Down the road, now, the Mets will have to more strongly consider Matt Harvey, or identify another candidate.


Courtesy of New York Mets
Matt Harvey


Harvey continues to maintain, as he has since spring training, that he is ready for major league duty. Scouts say Harvey needs more refinement, though, noting his fastball up in the strike zone will not have the same success against major league hitters. They also express concern that his reluctance to use a changeup at times will make it easier for advanced hitters to sit on the fastball. Writes Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger:

Before this week, the Mets were content to give Harvey more time to mature. In an ideal world, explained Paul DePodesta, the club’s vice president for scouting and player development, “we want our young players to force their way on the team.” Harvey has not reached that point, even after he pitched two hitless innings in the Triple-A All-Star Game last night. Club officials cited a need to improve his efficiency and consistency. In an ideal world, he’d spend the majority of this season with Buffalo. “We’re pretty committed to trying to do this right,” DePodesta said last week. “Trying to do the right thing for the long term.” Except this world is not ideal. Tomorrow morning, Gee will undergo a second procedure to repair the damage done by a blood clot in his right shoulder.

Buffalo manager Wally Backman told McCullough: “For me, he’s still not quite there. But he’s close.”

Said Harvey: “If in your mind you don’t believe you’re ready, and don’t believe you belong, then you probably don’t. For me, every time I pick up a baseball, I feel like I’m ready.”

Writes columnist John Harper in the Daily News:

The time and circumstances, then, appear to be right to give Harvey a shot. For the moment, however, the Mets aren't ready to make that move, club sources said on Tuesday. They like the way Harvey is progressing, but GM Sandy Alderson is determined not to rush any of his young pitching prospects. That's a reasoned and prudent approach, particularly for an organization that may still be paying for foolishly rushing Jenrry Mejia two years ago.

But Harvey, by all accounts, is a mature 23-year-old who has spent significant time in Class A, Double-A, and now Triple-A since the Mets made him their first-round draft choice out of the University of North Carolina in 2010. At Buffalo he is 7-3 with a 3.39 ERA and a mid-90s fastball, and Backman thinks Harvey has progressed enough to hold his own in the big leagues. "He'll take a lump or two if they call him up," Backman said by phone on Tuesday. "But his fastball command is much improved. He can help them."

• Rookie Josh Edgin will take Gee's roster spot in Atlanta, joining workhorse Tim Byrdak as a second southpaw option in the bullpen. Edgin's promotion should better gauge for Sandy Alderson how aggressively the GM needs to acquire bullpen help before the July 31 deadline -- assuming the Mets capably navigate this next stretch of games: at Atlanta, at Washington, vs. the Dodgers, vs. the Nats.

Edgin's fastball ranges from 92 to 95 mph. He also throws an 82-85 mph slider. He grew up in rural Three Springs, Pa., and found his way to Ohio State University, where he served as a reliever. In December of his junior year, Edgin then transferred to Division II Francis Marion, where he had the opportunity to start.

“The Ohio State coach wanted to keep me in the bullpen,” Edgin told ESPNNewYork.com last season. “I thought that I needed to start to get drafted. When I was playing summer ball in the Coastal Plains League, I met a guy named David Walters, who is with the Orioles now. He was on my team. We talked. He said, ‘Hey, we’re one good pitcher away from a D-II World Series team.’ Basically I got hooked up with them through him. And it just so happened that one of my catchers from Legion ball when I was in high school actually went to Francis Marion as well. That kind of drew me, and playing baseball in the South.”

Edgin was drafted after his junior year in the 50th round by Atlanta but did not sign. The Mets then took him in 2010 in the 30th round on the recommendation of amateur scout Marlin McPhail, who has repeatedly unearthed middle-round gems for the Mets from the Carolinas over the years.

Edgin, 25, was borrowed repeatedly from minor league camp this spring with Byrdak having undergone left knee surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage. Edgin ended up officially being added to major league camp and ultimately finished with 10 1/3 scoreless Grapefruit League innings. He made 35 relief appearances for Triple-A Buffalo, during which lefties hit .220 against him (vs. .256 for righties). The Mets opened a 40-man roster spot for Edgin when Chris Schwinden cleared waivers earlier in the week.

Tom Seaver, on hand for the Triple-A All-Star Game, added to the criticism of Reggie Jackson for speaking ill of the credentials of several Hall of Famers, including the late Gary Carter. "Reggie is Reggie. And I like Reggie, but Reggie sometimes turns the logical part of his brain off," Seaver said, according to Mike Harrington in the Buffalo News. "And Reggie loves to talk. It just didn't make very much sense to me."

As for the reception Jackson might get when the Hall of Famers gather for the upcoming induction ceremonies, Seaver added via Harrington: "It will be interesting to see, won't it? Reggie will apologize. He's very diplomatic. The other part of it is he believes very strongly about the institution. He wouldn't be saying that if it was just about himself, I hope. And he's too bright not to be that way."

Read more in the Daily News.

R.A. Dickey appeared on the "Late Show" on CBS last night. Dickey taught David Letterman the knuckleball grip. Letterman then attempted to catch some knuckleballs, although Dickey gave him a tame version of the pitch. Watch the video here.

The Dickey-featured documentary "Knuckleball!" will be available for order on digital cable beginning Sept. 18, according to Cody Derespina in Newsday. Meanwhile, the All-Star Game ratings peaked about the time Dickey entered Tuesday's game for the sixth, writes Bob Raissman in the Daily News. Read more on the Letterman appearance in the Daily News.

Jerry Seinfield recently explained to Richard Sandomir in the Times why he has no interest in buying a share of the Mets. "There is no higher level to being a fan,” Seinfeld said. “It’s not a better experience if you own the team. ... It’s like the Empire State Building. If you like it, go there. You don’t need to own it. ... I have enough people yelling at me about things in the street -- ‘Nice play at third base, Jerry; nice pickup’ -- that I didn’t need to add ownership to it."

• Harvey tossed two scoreless innings and Valentino Pascucci reached base four times in the Triple-A All-Star Game before a sellout crowd in Buffalo of 18,025. Meanwhile, Binghamton's Eric Campbell delivered a walk-off RBI single in the Eastern League All-Star Game. Read Wednesday's full minor league recap here.

Campbell earned MVP honors. Read more in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin.

Michael Salfino in the Journal chronicles the Mets' two-out success during the first half. With 48 percent of their runs scored with two outs, the Mets have plated the highest percentage of runners with two outs in the majors in any season since 1974, when Stats LLC started keeping the statistic. Next best: the 1994 San Francisco Giants, at 46.6 percent of their runs scored with two outs. Writes Salfino:

If the Mets this year performed with two outs at a league-average rate of 38%, they would have about 39 fewer runs -- or an estimated four fewer wins. New York went into the break at 46-40 and battling for playoff contention. If not for their two-out magic, though, the Mets would have a losing record. The Mets hit .254 with no outs and .247 with one out, both 21st in baseball. But their .274 average with two outs is third in the majors and would be the highest two-out average in their history. Last year, they were also good when the chips were down, posting a .269 two-out average that's second best in franchise history. This year's two-out charge has been led by David Wright (.386 with 25 RBI), Josh Thole (.357/7), Daniel Murphy (.337/24), Lucas Duda (.320/23) and Ruben Tejada (.320/5).

• Triple-A right-hander Collin McHugh continues to blog about his minor league life here.

• Sheets appears likely to pitch for Atlanta on Sunday against the Mets. It would mark his first major league action since July 19, 2010 with Oakland. Read more in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

TRIVIA: What remembrance from the first game back at Shea Stadium after Sept. 11 did Chipper Jones keep after finding it on the field?

Wednesday's answer: In his second start as a Met, Pedro Martinez opposed John Smoltz in Atlanta on April 10, 2005. Smoltz carried a 1-0 lead into the late innings. But Carlos Beltran delivered a two-run homer in the eighth and Martinez went the distance as the Mets prevailed, 2-1, to snap a season-opening five-game losing streak.

Mets morning briefing 7.9.12

July, 9, 2012
7/09/12
3:19
AM ET
Jon Niese allowed four first-inning runs and ultimately surrendered seven runs in seven innings as the Mets lost to the Cubs, 7-0, at Citi Field on Sunday. The Mets entered the All-Star break with a 46-40 record, exceeding many expectations, but off a series loss to Chicago.

If the playoffs started today, the National League division winners would be Washington (49-34), Pittsburgh (48-37) and Los Angeles (47-40).

Atlanta (46-39) and Cincinnati (47-38) would claim the wild cards, with the Mets as well as St. Louis and San Francisco -- with identical 46-40 records -- a half-game back.

The Mets reassemble for a late-afternoon workout Thursday at Turner Field in Atlanta. They then begin another critical stretch Friday against the Braves. That series will be followed by one in D.C. The Amazin's then return home to face Los Angeles and again the Nats.

As for going 2-4 this season against the Cubs, who are now a half-game better than Houston for the worst record in the majors, Terry Collins said: "They played us really well. Maybe it's one of those, it's a bad matchup for us." The Mets also were swept in Houston a month into the season.

Monday's news reports:

• The Mets and Rockies are discussing a trade involving righty-hitting catcher Ramon Hernandez. The deal could be expanded to include left-handed reliever Matt Reynolds, a baseball source told ESPNNewYork.com. The source added that players who interest the Rockies include Justin Turner as well as prospects Matt den Dekker, Jacob deGrom, Josh Edgin, Chase Huchingson, Jack Leathersich, Domingo Tapia and Wilfredo Tovar. While there was optimism a deal could ultimately be consummated, there was no indication the Mets would agree to include any of those Rockies targets. The Post's Joel Sherman also links the Mets to catchers Kelly Shoppach (Boston) and Miguel Olivo (Boston).

Sandy [Alderson] and I talk every single day,” Collins said, speaking generally about the trade deadline. “He’s certainly aware of what our needs are. We talk about it. We know where our holes are. We know how to fill them. But the asking price to fill them sometimes isn’t going to be paid. We’re just not going to sacrifice the future for a piece for a month. And I’ve been there before. Believe me. And it’s one of the things I’ve learned -- look, I can’t worry about what I don’t have. I know what we need. Everybody on any team that’s competing right now needs a piece to get better. But I also know it can kill you down the road to give up some of those things that you have to.

"In my past places, some of the asking prices, when you go to the players and go, ‘Yeah, we could have gotten so-and-so, but it would have cost that guy,’ they all say, ‘Well, you can’t move him.’ So we’ll just have to see what happens.”

Writes Sherman about Hernandez in the Post:

It is the kind of incremental improvement they want to make to enhance their postseason chances. One Mets official said, “We are not talking about acquiring Gary Carter in 1985 here.” Translation: It is still a few weeks from the deadline, when teams can ask for big returns, but the Mets will wait for more realistic requests or else not make the purchase.

Alderson, speaking on SNY during Sunday's game, suggested he had been burned in the past by acquiring a catcher midseason. That was the case, he suggested, because of the acquisition's unfamiliarity with the new pitching staff and not providing enough offensive improvement over the incumbent to justify the swap in retrospect. In the current case, Mike Nickeas is hitting .172 with a homer and 13 RBIs in 93 at-bats.

Read more in the Star-Ledger.

R.A. Dickey, David Wright and Terry Collins departed for the All-Star Game in Kansas City via chartered plane after Sunday's loss. Dickey made one last pitch for the starting nod on the mound for the NL, saying it would be easier for starting catcher Buster Posey if the knuckleballer opened the game, since that would afford the duo extra time to work together during warmups as well. NL skipper Tony La Russa is expected to name his starting pitcher at a 1:30 p.m. ET press conference Monday. Meanwhile, Wright is excited to return to the All-Star Game after a one-year absence. He was not selected for the 2011 game, snapping a six-year streak, because he was sidelined with a stress fracture in his lower back. Read more in Newsday.

• Columnist Tara Sullivan in the Record salutes Wright's first-half performance, writing:

As he stood postgame at his locker trying to remember everything he needed to pack for his upcoming sixth All-Star Game appearance and the six-game road trip that follows, Wright talked about the consistency his team needs to find in the season’s second half. What he never would say is that everyone needs to find it but him. Wright has been the eye in the center of this crazy storm, the steward, the leader, the beacon of consistency amid all that swirls around him. Like a straight line through a swirling mass, he has kept this team on course. “Absolutely carried us in the first half,” manager Terry Collins said.

Jon Rauch had a rough beginning to the All-Star break. The reliever revealed via Twitter he was involved in an automobile accident after Sunday's game. He tweeted:

got sideswiped on the way home.....awesome. guy tried to merge into my jeep. Jeep 1 - Benz S-class 0. took 2.5 hrs for police to show up. Entire side of the benz destroyed by the 37" tires and Ace Eng. sliders. Couple dents in the rear door from his mirror. The Jeep is a tank. no injuries. glancing blow to both cars. He's lucky i didn't drive over the top of his hood!! to be honest, felt like i hit a pothole. heard the accident more than i felt it.

Rauch then tweeted a photo of his Jeep pre-accident, which you can view here.

• It turns out Johan Santana's right ankle is not as healed as desired. After twisting it then getting stepped on Friday by Reed Johnson while covering first base, Santana nonetheless was scheduled to start Friday's second-half opener in Atlanta. Now, Dillon Gee will take that start, followed by Dickey in Game 2. Collins said either Santana or Niese will start Sunday's finale at Turner Field, with the other opening the following series at Washington. Chris Young remains the fifth starter out of the break. "He’s fine. Don’t misread anything," Collins insisted about Santana. "We just want to make sure that he’s 100 percent when we come out of the break." Read more in the Post, Record and Daily News.

• Read Sunday's game recaps in the Times, Post, Record, Newsday, Star-Ledger and Daily News.

• Alderson appeared for an inning and a half on SNY. There were no revelations, but the GM did suggest Zack Wheeler would make roughly two more starts for Double-A Binghamton before being promoted to Triple-A Buffalo. And Alderson, without naming Josh Edgin, implied the lefty reliever would be imminently promoted after the All-Star break so the Mets can gauge what they have before the trade deadline. Alderson spoke about multiple relievers coming up, so perhaps Jenrry Mejia is soon to join the Mets as well. "I think you'll see a couple of new faces between now and the end of July," Alderson said on the telecast, referring to promotions. "And we'll take a look at them and see what we think, and at the same time be evaluating what else is available to us."

• Wheeler and fellow Binghamton Met Wilmer Flores participated in Sunday's Futures Game in K.C. Wheeler retired both batters he faced. Flores started at third base for the World team and went 0-for-2. "Amazing," Flores told David Lennon in Newsday about Wheeler. "He's one of the best. He's going to make some money."

Wheeler's Double-A dominance had a brief interruption recently, when he allowed 12 runs (11 earned) on 13 2/3 innings over a pair of starts. But Wheeler got back on track in his most recent outing, which happened to come against the Double-A affiliate of his former organization, the San Francisco Giants. He limited Richmond to one run in 7 1/3 innings Thursday. A runner inherited by the bullpen scored for the only to be charged to him. "Sometimes you can get away with throwing hard and missing your spots," Wheeler told Lennon. "But in those games, I was missing my spots and they were hitting me. That reminded me of what would happen if I was in the big leagues. It was a good learning experience, so actually I'm glad it happened."

Read more on Wheeler and the Futures Game in the Times and Post.

• Ex-Met John Maine surrendered six runs in 4 2/3 innings, including damage on homers by den Dekker and Josh Satin, as Buffalo headed into its All-Star break on a four-game winning streak. Mejia was struck above the right ankle in that game and was pulled. Buffalo hosts the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday. The home run derby, scheduled for today, includes Valentino Pascucci. Read Sunday's full minor league recap here.

• Collins believed Jason Bay (concussion) and Frank Francisco (oblique) both could appear in their first rehab game Wednesday, with Class A St. Lucie at Tampa. The expectation would be both could rejoin the Mets for the series at Washington that begins next Tuesday, after a team off-day. Meanwhile, Andres Torres, who has remained on the active roster despite back woes, hopes to be ready to reenter the lineup the day the Mets open second-half play.


Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Trainer Ray Ramirez observed Johan Santana after the southpaw's ankle twisted, then was stepped on by Reed Johnson at first base in the fifth inning Friday. Two days later, the Mets disclosed Santana's first second-half start will be delayed.


• Francisco has ended up entangled in another Yankees-related controversy, although this time the closer did not call them "chickens" or anything else. Andrew Marchand writes at ESPNNewYork.com about a spat between Boston reliever Vicente Padilla and the Yankees' Mark Teixeira that managed to rope in Francisco. Writes Marchand:

Padilla and Teixeira have had a feud that dates back seven years. In his initial two at-bats against Padilla in 2005, Teixeira hit homers each time. Since, according to Teixeira, Padilla has been head-hunting. ... [Padilla] implied that Teixeira had issues with Padilla and former teammate Frank Francisco because they were Latin. "The problem is he talks about all the wrong things that others have done, but the things he's done -- against the Latinos [on the Texas Rangers] -- he doesn't open his mouth about," Padilla told the website (NESN.com). "He once threatened me and said he was going to hit me with a bat, and that's when we were playing on the same team."

Jordany Valdespin made his first major league start in center field Sunday. “I guess it was towards the end of the first year I ever saw him, when you saw the athleticism, you almost said, ‘You know what? This guy would make a pretty good center fielder,’’’ Collins said. ”So there was always that thought to put him out there.’’ Valdespin, a natural middle infielder, had made 15 appearances (14 starts) in the minors this season in center field. He also had four Grapefruit League appearances (two starts) at the position this year. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Wally Backman again criticized Reggie Jackson for comments critical of Gary Carter's Hall of Fame worthiness, this time in the Daily News.

• Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison tweeted he used to play for the Mets.

Anthony Rieber provides a first-half recap in Newsday, as does Jared Diamond in the Journal. Mike Kerwick in the Record recommends to believe in the Mets.

Michael Salfino in the Journal notes that if Ike Davis maintained his .203 average and his current RBI pace, he would have the worst average in baseball history among players who drove in 90-plus runs. It would top Dave Kingman's .204 average and 99 RBIs, which Kingman happened to post in 1982 as a Met.

TRIVIA: Who is the youngest Met ever to have a plate appearance in an All-Star Game?

Sunday's answer: Edgardo Alfonzo was the last Met to appear at second base in an All-Star Game. He went 0-for-2 at Turner Field on July 11, 2000 after replacing starter Jeff Kent.

Mets morning briefing 7.8.12

July, 8, 2012
7/08/12
6:00
AM ET

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Zack Wheeler will participate in his second Futures Game today. He was a participant in 2010 as well, while with the San Francisco Giants.
Jordany Valdespin and Ike Davis homered, Dillon Gee matched a career high by tossing eight innings and Ruben Tejada's over-the-shoulder catch aided Bobby Parnell's second save as the Mets beat the Cubs, 3-1, Saturday.

The Mets now send Jon Niese (7-3, 3.35 ERA) to the mound in the first-half finale against right-hander Ryan Dempster (3-3, 2.11). The Amazin's are looking to match their season high at eight games over .500.

Sunday's news reports:


Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Reggie Jackson (pictured) irked Wally Backman by questioning late '86 teammate Gary Carter's Hall of Fame credentials.


• Buffalo manager Wally Backman called Record columnist Bob Klapisch to complain about Reggie Jackson's comments regarding '86 teammate Gary Carter. "Who is he to question?" Klapisch, on Twitter, quoted Backman about Jackson. "At least Gary was a complete player. It's unbelievable Reggie would criticize a great guy and great player who's passed away. Show some respect."

Among other derogatory statements, Jackson had told Sports Illustrated: "I didn't see Kirby Puckett as a Hall of Famer. I didn't see Gary Carter as a Hall of Famer. I didn't see Don Sutton as a Hall of Famer. I didn't see Phil Niekro as a Hall of Famer. As much as I like Jim Rice, I'm not so sure he's a Hall of Famer."

• In a Q&A with Steve Serby in the Post, Sandy Alderson offers these tidbits:

On whether the Mets are serious buyers before the July 31 trade deadline: "Well, we’re serious lookers right now. We’ll see where we are as we get closer to the deadline. Right now the market for players is not quite as defined as it will be in the next couple of weeks." Still, Alderson added: "Right now we’re in a somewhat different mode than we were last year at this time."

On acquiring a right-handed bat via trade: "Well, I hope the right-handed bat we have [is] Jason Bay. I know that doesn’t inspire confidence on the part of most Mets fans, but I think Jason has an opportunity to play a big part for us the second half. ... I think we have to keep in mind that Jason could be the biggest addition we could hope to get. No guarantees that he’ll make a big contribution, but he certainly has that potential."

On whether he believes the Mets are a playoff team: "Yeah, I do. There are two things about our rotation -- No. 1, it’s deep. We match up pretty well, regardless of the opposition, with all five of our guys. And, the other thing is that right now we have some real quality at the top end, which can have a very big impact in a short series."

On David Wright's future as a Met: "I think it will be a long one, and hopefully very bright."


Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
Sandy Alderson says Jason Bay may be the best righty bat the Mets add after the All-Star break.


On Matt Harvey reaching the big leagues in 2012: "It’s conceivable. I think it’s unlikely, but I think it’s conceivable."

On Zack Wheeler: "It’s very possible that he’ll be moved to Triple-A sometime in the near future. I’d be surprised if he ends up in New York by the end of this season, but he is someone who would have to be protected on the major league roster going into next year, so at the very worst, he’ll be in major league camp next year, and I’m sure he’ll be competing for a rotation spot."

• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News discusses Wright's MVP-caliber season with the third baseman. Writes Harper:

Only two seasons ago, in fact, Wright racked up a whopping 161 strikeouts. Entering the final game before the All-Star break he has only 46 Ks, a reduction that is as astonishing as it is revealing. “It’s funny how it works,” Wright said at his locker on Saturday. “You have some success and all of a sudden your mentality is different. You’re aggressive but also confident that if they pitch you out of the strike zone you’re going to take those pitches. Whereas, there were times the last few seasons I felt I was swinging before the ball was even thrown. I had those at-bats when no matter what the pitcher threw, I knew I was swinging at it."

Wright acknowledges the revised Citi Field dimensions have helped. He tells Harper: “It’s a huge difference. It allows you to relax and know you don’t have to try to hit the ball a mile to see results. And, at the same time, if you do hit the ball well and you see results, instead of a 400-foot flyout, you’re 1-for-1 and feeling good about yourself. There were times the last couple of years I tried to muscle up and hit the ball a mile, and that had something to do with my strikeouts going up, too.’’

• The Mets used an all-homegrown starting lineup Saturday for the second time this season and fourth time in franchise history. Read more in Newsday.

• Read game recaps in Newsday, the Record, Star-Ledger, Times, Daily News and Post.

• Third baseman Wilmer Flores and Wheeler will represent the Mets in the Futures Game in Kansas City at 5 p.m. ET today. The prospect showcase will be televised by ESPN2. Wheeler tossed a scoreless inning in the 2010 Futures Game while a Giants farmhand. Flores actually started at second base and went 0-for-2 in the 2009 Futures Game while a month shy of his 18th birthday.

Flores is hitting .390 with two homers and 11 RBIs in 59 at-bats since a promotion to Double-A Binghamton. With third base also occupied by Jefry Marte with the B-Mets, Flores has appeared at three games at second base and two games at first base in addition to hot-corner duty in Double-A. Flores exclusively was a shortstop in the Mets system until this year, although he had played other infield positions in winter ball.

"He's never been extremely fast. He's never been your typical shortstop," B-Mets manager Pedro Lopez told Lynn Worthy in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. "He probably has that type of body -- what you look for from a shortstop, a body like that. But his first step wasn't fit for a shortstop. We all knew that eventually he was going to end up moving. But I had him his first year, in 2008. Watching him in 2008 and watching him play last year every day at short was night and day. He learned how to play that position. He played it well.

"Right now, there are a lot of guys in the big leagues that, No. 1, don't have the arm that he has. They don't have the glove that he has. They're playing second base because of the bat. His bat definitely profiles at second, but he's also a good third baseman. He's got good hands. His arm definitely plays there, if you played at short. I think as a third baseman you don't have as much ground to cover as short. I think he's done a good job."

Johan Santana, whose ankle was cranky but likely a non-issue a day after twisting it, is scheduled to start the second-half opener in Atlanta on Friday. R.A. Dickey and Niese will round out that series. Gee then starts next Tuesday in Washington, in the series opener against the first-place Nationals, followed by Chris Young. Placing Santana at the start of the rotation to begin the second half is an expression of confidence there are no lingering questions about his shoulder's health since his return from Sept. 14, 2010 surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Frank Francisco threw off a mound Saturday for the first time since landing on the DL during the Subway Series with a strained left oblique. He is due to pitch in a rehab game for the first time Wednesday, Terry Collins said.

• Collins said he needs to find a way to get Valdespin into Sunday's game after he homered for the second straight day Saturday. Read more in the Daily News and Newsday.

• Davis' homer tied him with Scott Hairston and Lucas Duda for the team lead at 12. Read more in Newsday and the Post.

• Columnist David Lennon in Newsday has some early thoughts about Tuesday's All-Star Game, in which neither Wright nor Dickey may start. Writes Lennon:

What complicates things now is that the fan balloting, which used to involve folksy punch cards distributed at ballparks, has evolved into a powerful online gateway for advertising revenue and website hits for MLB.com, a huge money-making enterprise. Not that there's anything wrong with that. This is, after all, an entertainment business. But as a result, there will be some inequities -- [Pablo] Sandoval starting over Wright, for instance -- and that tends to hurt the integrity of the overall message. It also puts a burden on the All-Star Game managers to balance that showcase element with some sort of competitive mindset.

• Dickey tells Mike Puma in the Post it would be unfortunate if he is disqualified from starting the All-Star Game because he is a knuckleballer. “I feel like [the decision] is probably being over-thought on a lot of different fronts,” Dickey told Puma. “Anybody would love to start the game, so if you’re asking me, of course I would like to start it. That doesn’t mean I’ll be insulted if I don’t. There are plenty of candidates that are worthy. But I do think the knuckleball angle, as far as that being a deterrent, is a little bit blown out of proportion. Simply because I’ve worked with so many guys who have been able to get it, basically. And I’ve gotten one wild pitch this year and I think my strikeout-to-walk [ratio] probably speaks for itself -- as far as the control aspect goes -- so I don’t see the real issue with that.”

• Buffalo right-hander Collin McHugh, whose blog entries periodically are reprinted at ESPNNewYork.com, discusses the transition from Double-A to Triple-A in his latest entry. McHugh is an under-the-radar prospect who is starting to get attention. He has drawn comparisons to Gee.

• SNY is advertising in the Bronx, at the subway stop by Yankee Stadium, according to Richard Sandomir in the Times. “This isn’t about the Mets’ network trying to co-opt Yankee fans," SNY president Steve Raab told Sandomir. "This is a regional sports network that has always positioned itself as the home of all things New York sports taking the program that is most representative of that positioning and going for sports fans.”

Yankees president Randy Levine offered this reply to the Times: "There’s no such thing as any kind of turf. But I give SNY credit. When you’re a consistent No. 3 network, you shoot for No. 1.”

Matt den Dekker had a three-run homer and Justin Hampson resurfaced for the save with Buffalo. Cory Mazzoni tossed seven scoreless innings for Binghamton. Jimmy Fuller tossed five no-hit innings for Savannah. Read the full minor league recap here.

TRIVIA: Who was the last Met to play second base in the All-Star Game?

Saturday's answer: Dempster pitched for the Marlins and Reds before being released by Cincinnati in November 2003 and signing later that offseason with the Cubs.

David Wright and other Top 40 hits

May, 24, 2012
5/24/12
9:00
AM ET
US Presswire/Brad Barr; Photo Illustration by Trevor Ebaugh, ESPN Stats & InformationDavid Wright has a high batting average in just about every area of the strike zone.
Through 40 games, David Wright is hitting .399 with four home runs, 26 RBIs and a 1.099 OPS.

It is one of the best 40-game stretches in Mets history, though there are a few that surpass it. With the help of the Elias Sports Bureau and Mets historian Greg Prince, we remember a half-dozen of the other top 40s in Mets history:

Frank Thomas, 1962
The Mets were terrible but lovable in their early days, and thanks to playing in a Polo Ground ballpark where cheap home runs were commonplace, they had an immediate star with a hitter who tallied impressive numbers in his first 40 games of 1962.

Thomas hit .333 with 13 home runs and 31 RBIs in his inaugural 40 as a Met, setting a standard for others to follow.

Cleon Jones, 1969
Jones hit .378 with seven home runs, 32 RBIs, and 32 runs scored in his first 40 games. The start would launch Jones to set a Mets record with a .340 batting average, a mark that would last for multiple decades.

The year would end well for Jones as well. He would catch the final out of the World Series.

Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter, 1985
We list Hernandez and Carter together because they are forever linked by a championship in 1986. But a year earlier, the two closed the season with a pair of amazing runs.

Hernandez's final 40 games of 1985 were marked by a series of huge hits. He hit .354 and reached base 74 times via hit, walk or error as the Mets fell just shy of the NL East title.

The big moments included a game-winning, ninth-inning home run in San Francisco against the Giants and a walk-off hit on Sept.12 against the Cardinals that put the Mets in first place against their then archrivals.

Carter matched Hernandez for big hits and then some.

Over the 40 games he played from Aug. 23 to the next-to-last day of the regular season, he hit .325 with 15 home runs, 38 RBIs and a 1.048 OPS. He had 15 go-ahead RBIs in that stretch, four more than any other player in the majors over that time period.

Darryl Strawberry, 1990
Strawberry struggled to hit in the first 40 games of the 1990 season, and was hitting just .230 with five home runs coming into a May 26 matchup with the Padres.

A Strawberry eighth-inning home run against Calvin Schiraldi was the finishing touch for the Mets offense in an 11-0 win over the Padres and started arguably the best barrage in Mets history.

Over the 40-game stretch from May 26 to July 14, 1990, Strawberry hit .372, with 18 home runs and 42 RBIs. He had as many home runs in that stretch as he did strikeouts. No Met hit more in a 40-game span than this one.

John Olerud, 1998
On July 11, 1998, Olerud went 4-for-4 with a pair of home runs in an 8-4 win over the Expos. This would begin his most torrid 40-game stretch as a Met, one in which he hit .408 with 10 home runs, 29 RBIs and a 1.148 OPS.

Olerud would carry his hot streak all the way through to the end of the season, as the Mets fell one game shy of the NL wild card. He'd finish the season with a Mets-record .354 batting average.

Mike Piazza, 2000
Piazza seemingly had a bunch of of these 40-game bursts in each of his first four seasons with the Mets. You can take your pick from a couple that look alike.

We'll look at one from the NL pennant-winning 2000 season.

On April 14, 2000, Piazza went 5-for-6 with two home runs and four RBI in a 12-inning win in Pittsburgh.

That started a tear that lasted beyond 40 contests, but at the point at which we cut it off, Piazza had a .383 batting average, 12 doubles, 14 home runs, 33 RBIs and a 1.254 OPS.

The most memorable of his hits would be a game-winning home run against Padres reliever Trevor Hoffman, though two days after this stretch concluded, he’d hit a grand slam against Roger Clemens.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.301 9 53 73
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 26
RBIL. Duda 76
RD. Murphy 73
OPSL. Duda .856
WB. Colon 12
ERAJ. Niese 3.47
SOZ. Wheeler 148