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About last night: Unexpected power snaps Mets’ skid

Justin Turner (photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

It wasn’t pretty, but the Mets finally broke their five-game losing streak last night. Jonathon Niese gave up five earned runs in five innings for his second time in three starts, but he earned his 11th win anyway. I’d really hoped he’d be taking a bigger step forward this year, but so far it hasn’t happened.

The offense showed up last night to bail Niese out.Justin Turner must have heard me talking about Daniel Murphy being a better hitter, because he doubled his 2011 home run total by cranking two shots off of Tommy Hanson. I was more impressed by Josh Thole‘s 3-for-4 night, which included a double and a home run. (He also threw out National League stolen base leader Michael Bourn.) Even Jason Bay got in on the home run parade. (Naturally, even with the unexpected power production, the subject of Citi Field’s outfield dimensions resurfaced again.)

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On last night’s Mets victory, defending Josh Thole & some shiny baseball cards

Carlos Beltran 2010 Topps Chrome orange parallel

I’m happy that the Mets won last night, happier that they beat Brian Wilson and his beard, and happier still that the California trip is almost over. It’s a lot easier to enjoy Mets games when you’re not fighting to stay awake.

It seems like it’s fashionable to make Josh Thole a whipping boy when things aren’t going well for the Mets. Thole makes it somewhat easy, thanks to his defensive struggles this season. (I’d love to see the coaches out there doing spring training drills with him every day until he remembers how to block balls in the dirt.)

But benching him in favor of Ronny Paulino isn’t going to solve anything. Thole will still be a Met in 2012. Paulino will be eligible for arbitration and will be due a raise from the $1.35 million the Mets are paying him next year. Depending on what happens with Jose Reyes and Francsico Rodriguez, Paulino may or may not fit the 2012 budget.

Thole has been a productive hitter lately, even if fans (and Terry Collins) have been slow to recognize it. He’s batting .345 (10-for-29) in his last ten games. For his career, Thole is hitting .292 /.373 /.370 against right-handed pitching. Paulino has enjoyed success against righties this year (20-for-66), but over his career his numbers aren’t as impressive (.248 /.303 /.337)

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Nightly Newsstand: May 4, 2011

Josh Thole
Josh Thole (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Kieran Darcy of ESPN New York reports that Josh Thole may be headed to the bench. I hope that Thole doesn’t get buried, but he needs to figure out what’s gone wrong for him this year. His hitting has been disappointing, but would be acceptable if he was playing good defense. He’s not. I do want Thole to succeed, because Ronny Paulino is definitely not the Mets’ catcher of the future. I hope Josh Thole still could be.

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the Dodgers lack funds to make payroll. Major League Baseball will step in the make good on the paychecks, but the ownership situation out west is getting very ugly. I hope it’s not a sign of things to come in Queens.

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Baseball is back

Play Ball!
Photo credit: TMAB2003

Saturday afternoon, the Mets took the field against an opponent for the first time since Oliver Perez walked Justin Maxwell to force in the winning run and Miguel Batista got Ruben Tejada to line out to center to end the 2010 season.

It was great to turn on WPIX and see Mets baseball again, even if it was just a spring training game.

Everyone always feels the need to point out that Grapefruit League wins and losses don’t matter. Yet I can’t help feeling that Saturday’s tie was appropriate for a team that seems stuck in limbo.

Hardly a day goes by without some new angle coming to light about the financial and legal issues surrounding Sterling Mets. On the field, 2011 will be a year about trying to catch lightning in a bottle to make a surprise run, or building towards an increasingly murky future.

Yet for the space of a few innings, that didn’t really matter.

Jenrry Mejia’s curve looked great. His pitches had so much life that Josh Thole had a hard time catching them. David Wright and Jordanny Valdespin both made nice defensive plays. Fernando Martinez came up with a big hit so we’d have something to mention about him besides his shaky defense. Willie Harris hit a home run less than 24 hours after getting in a car accident. Heck, even Luis Castillo had a pesky 8 or 10 pitch at-bat in the first inning that ended with him getting a hit.

Baseball is back.

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Financial Frustrations

100_2345

The Mets are making headlines again for the wrong reasons today. The team’s owners are being sued by a trustee in the Bernie Madoff case who is “seeking the return of an unspecified amount of cash to pay back investors who lost billions in the Ponzi scheme.”

The Mets released a statement saying “we want to emphasize that the New York Mets will have all the necessary financial and operational resources to fully compete and win. That is our commitment to our fans and to New York.”

I don’t know how to take that statement any more. I am grateful that Fred Wilpon hasn’t instructed Sandy Alderson to start making trades to reduce the team’s payroll, which will come in between $130-$140 million next year.

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