The Mets complete their season-opening road trip with Jon Niese opposing Roy Halladay at 3:05 p.m. Thursday at Citizens Bank Park. A day later, it's the home opener against the Washington Nationals, with R.A. Dickey's first pitch scheduled for 4:05 p.m.
On to Thursday's news reports:
• ESPN's Jayson Stark indicated Tuesday that rival executives believe Mike Pelfrey, along with Houston's Wandy Rodriguez, could be traded at the deadline this season. He reasons that the teams likely will be out of the race. Pelfrey is under the Mets' control through 2013, and is arbitration-eligible the next two years. But he is making $3.925 million this season and is going to start getting expensive. Plus, he is represented by Scott Boras, which means there's no sure thing he's a Met beyond 2013. Not at a reasonable price, anyway.
Anyway, Daily News columnist John Harper gives Stark's suggestion legs. Writes Harper:
The exec [who used to work with Alderson] said that, knowing Alderson, and barring a true surprise season of contention for the Mets, he fully expected him to break down the team "the way he did in Oakland and build it with the guys he wants." He expects Alderson to trade Jose Reyes "because he won't pay big money for a leadoff hitter who's not an on-base guy," but said he was surprised there has been no speculation about trading Pelfrey. "He's not a No. 1," the exec said, "he doesn't have a pitch to put hitters away, and he may not get better than he is right now. I think Sandy is going to be looking down the road there, knowing Boras will be looking for big money for Pelfrey in a couple of years, and knowing the value might not be there."
If Chris Young and Chris Capuano stay healthy, the Mets may need to create a spot anyway for Johan Santana's midseason return. By next season, 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey should be ready. And perhaps Jenrry Mejia too. The Mets also are high on Oregon State product Greg Peavey, their sixth-round pick last year.
• The Post's Dan Martin went to Francisco Rodriguez after he pitched the eighth inning Wednesday with the Mets trailing by three runs. K-Rod was credited with his first game finished of 2011, which moves him within 54 of his contract vesting for next season. “I’m not worried about it at all, because obviously, it’s not under my control," K-Rod tells Martin. "I don’t pay attention to how many games it is. There seems to be a lot of people who care more about that than I do. I couldn’t care less.” Terry Collins added: “It never entered my mind. He needed work, so I told him he was going to get an inning.” Sandy Alderson said usage is the manager's domain. The pitcher to make the last pitch for each team is credited with a game finished, so there are two per game.
• David Waldstein of The New York Times says Pelfrey has not lived up to the ace title in Santana's absence. "It's only two starts," Collins said. "You can't overreact right now. I know he'll do better."
• David Lennon of Newsday did not like Pelfrey's body language during the second-shortest start of the right-hander's career, including his hand-licking and cursing. Writes Lennon:
It's not so much that the Phillies bullied him for eight hits and seven runs in two-plus innings. Again, that happens. The red flags involved multiple visits from pitching coach Dan Warthen, who twice had to calm Pelfrey down as innings spun wildly away from him. The most glaring example was after Pelfrey's behavior trying to field Joe Blanton 's sacrifice bunt in the second.
• Bob Klapisch of the Record also opines about Pelfrey.
• Anthony Rieber of Newsday looks at the ticket situation for Friday's home opener against the Washington Nationals. Writes Rieber:
A search of Mets.com turned up available tickets in many pricey locations, from Metropolitan Box Platinum ($325 per seat) to Field Box Platinum ($280) to Caesars Club Gold ($168). A few spots were left in the nosebleed seats -- Promenade Reserved for $36 with a warning the view of the outfield might be obstructed. A Mets spokesman acknowledged that a limited number of tickets were unsold but predicted the game will be sold out.
• Waldstein talks to Mets players and staff who watched Halladay's postseason no-hitter last year against the Cincinnati Reds, which included Chris Young, Willie Harris and Ike Davis. He writes:
The Mets’ pitching coach, Dan Warthen, watched the game at his home in Portland, Ore., and was almost overwhelmed by how good Halladay was. Warthen noted how Halladay tends to throw to both sides of the plate with all of his pitches, and how he relentlessly attacks the strike zone. He also pointed out that not all no-hitters are created equal. Warthen was a member of the Montreal Expos in 1976 when Houston Astros pitcher Larry Dierker no-hit them, and said Dierker threw about a dozen pitches to the backstop. He said he also saw Randy Johnson use 138 pitches and walk six batters to get his no-hitter against the Detroit Tigers in 1990. Halladay needed only 104 pitches. “What he did was near perfection,” Warthen said. “It was something to watch.”
• Read more about the Mets versus Halladay in the Post.
• Andy Martino of the Daily News chats with Rule 5 pick Pedro Beato about his experience growing up in New York after moving from the Dominican Republic at age 13. A Mets doctor performed the Tommy John surgery he underwent while at Brooklyn's Xaverian High School. And Beato recalls going to Shea Stadium after being drafted by the Mets out of high school. There, he met Pedro Martinez. Beato did not sign. He wanted $1 million, and the Mets offered only $750,000. He instead became a first-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles the following season.
• Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal says Phillies fans at Citizens Bank Park have largely given up heckling Mets fans. He quotes fan Russell Holman of Verona, N.J., saying: "We don't really care about them enough to give them a hard time anymore. They don't win often, and even when they do, it doesn't change anything. They're not relevant." Adds Herring:
Phillies fan Art Wharton said the trend was still a bit shocking to him. "My roommate, when he comes to the games wearing his Mets sweater, no one gives him the finger anymore. It's weird," said Mr. Wharton, a 23-year-old student at Neumann College.
BIRTHDAY: Outfielder Joe Hicks, who played 56 games for the '63 Mets, was born on this date in 1933.