Mets morning briefing 4.19.11

Jason Bay's activation will wait until Thursday, after two more games with Class A St. Lucie in balmy Florida. Meanwhile, after an off-day, the Mets open their series against the Houston Astros on Tuesday night, looking to improve on a 1-6 record at Citi Field.

Tuesday's news reports:

David Waldstein of The New York Times notes Mets tickets are actually a bargain on the secondary market. He notes there's at least one ticket available for Tuesday's game on StubHub for $3. Writes Waldstein:

For the average fan, who does not often get the opportunity to sit in premium box seats in a new ballpark, the Mets’ misery is a windfall. Care to sit directly behind home plate on Tuesday night at Citi Field, and hear Jose Reyes dig his spikes into the dirt of the batter’s box? As of Monday afternoon, thousands of tickets for the game were available on StubHub, the ticket exchange Web site, including 33 directly behind home plate for $69 and service charges. Face value for those tickets is $134. If you would prefer to sit in Metropolitan Box 121, between third base and home plate, $28 (and fees) would secure a seat there. Tickets in that area range in price from $80 to $134, according to the Mets’ Web site.

Marc Ganis, a sports marketing consultant, tells the Times: “Those are breathtaking drops in value. That has to be alarming for the Mets. And those tickets aren’t even sold yet. That’s frightening.”

• After meeting with Bay in New York on Monday, Mets officials decided to wait until Thursday to activate the left fielder from a rib-cage strain. And rather than send him to cool and rainy/snowy Buffalo or Binghamton, they dispatched Bay back to Florida for two additional games. When Bay does enter the lineup, Terry Collins plans to use Angel Pagan in the No. 2 hole, where he figures to get a healthy dose of fastballs with Jose Reyes presumably on base. Pagan is hitting .169. Bay has not been active since the weekend he suffered a concussion at Dodger Stadium last July. Read more about Bay's return in Newsday, the Daily News, Post and Times.

Steve Popper of the Record writes that David Wright is a leader. Collins reiterates that there won't be an official captain on the Mets, though. Collins previously has said that he learned from Jim Leyland while in Pittsburgh that there's only one designated sheriff -- the manager. Popper recounts the story of Wright spontaneously playing catch with some young fans who were in the first few rows of the stands at Turner Field on Sunday, and quoted an usher saying to Wright: "I’ve been here 12 years, and I’ve never seen a single player do anything like that. Thank you.” (I'm due to discuss that moment on "First Take" at 10:45 a.m. ET on Tuesday.) Writes Popper about Wright:

Players who’ve been around say Wright has taken on more of a vocal role this year. He intervened when one clubhouse situation seemed to be splitting the room earlier this season. When the Mets flew to Atlanta on Thursday off a doubleheader sweep that dragged the team further down, he was one of the players who spoke up to lighten the mood. After Sunday’s game, he was one of the last players in the clubhouse, giving Manhattan dining advice to Jason Isringhausen and clothing guidance to rookie Brad Emaus.

Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger looks at Pagan's early season hitting woes. Pagan bunted on his own twice Sunday in Atlanta after Ike Davis reached to open innings. “I think I’m thinking too much at the plate,” Pagan tells McCullough. “Maybe I’m trying too hard. And I think I have to maybe relax a little bit, go back to the basics, and just start from zero.” The article states:

Pagan speaks like a man hacking wild-eyed at the plate. But after inspection of his underlying statistics, that appears inaccurate. He is swinging at pitches outside the strike zone 24 percent of the time. Last season, he swung at 32 percent of offerings outside the zone. His walk rate is up. His strikeout rate is down. He is seeing about as many pitches as he did last season. But so far, his bat has not provided sufficient pop. Inside Edge, a video scouting company based in Minnesota, keeps a stat called well-hit average, which measures how often a hitter makes solid contact with a baseball. Pagan’s well-hit average is .130, which is 78 points below the major-league average.

• Post columnist Kevin Kernan likes how Collins managed Sunday's game like it was the playoffs, using R.A. Dickey and Chris Capuano in relief. "I know maybe a couple of the relievers are not necessarily happy," Collins tells Kernan, "but it's about the ballclub first and foremost." Writes Kernan:

Terry Collins' team hasn't won many games, but Collins has shown the kind of fight needed if the Mets are to be relevant ever again. Turning the 16th game of the season into an October battle was a calculated risk for Collins on Sunday, but it was something that had to be done, and something that wasn't done in years past. Changing the losing culture is not easy to do. Collins deserves praise. He already has closed the clubhouse doors and has had a team meeting. He will pull out all the stops to try to win a game. That's how precious victory is to him.

Brian Costa of The Wall Street Journal lists five problems with the Mets. He writes:

The rotation's fielding-independent pitching mark -- a statistic that measures performance based only on the factors pitchers can directly control -- is 4.79, the second worst in the National League. ... Mets relievers have thrown 57 2/3 innings, which led the majors entering Monday. ... According to BIS, the Mets' defense has cost them 23 runs, seven more than the next closest team. ... Collins is already losing patience with Brad Emaus, whose .262 on-base percentage ranks last among Mets regulars. ... A healthy Mets team still may not be a playoff team, but an ailing Mets team has no chance.

BIRTHDAY: Brooklyn Cyclones pitching coach Frank Viola turns 51. Viola is the Mets' last 20-game winner, having reached that mark in 1990. The following season he lost 15 games, a mark only three Mets pitchers have reached since (Dwight Gooden, Frank Tanana and Anthony Young, all in 1993). -Mark Simon