--In some ways, it makes more sense to evaluate the Mets after a "good" loss like last night's. Yes, they showed fight and scrappiness and all of that stuff. No, it wasn't as demoralizing as Tuesday night's loss.

If you make significant changes at this early juncture in the season, however, it can't be based on a vibe, anyway. It has to come from a concrete belief that you're simply not getting the most out of what you have. You probably had such doubts entering the season but wanted to give certain parties one last chance.

The Mets may be paupers compared to, say, the Phillies. But does anyone think the Mets are truly optimizing their assets?

Thanks to my best friend Twitter, I found Steve Popper's Mets blog entry, entitled "The Panic Moves That Make Sense." I like that phrasing. In the Mets' odd operations, "panic moves" can often constitute "moves that a better organization would've made months ago."

As we've discussed before, I think the Mets actually didn't have a terrible winter. They didn't make any awful contractual commitments, and they might have made some positive acquisitions. The more I watch Ryota Igarashi pitch, for instance, the more I think the Mets could've found themselve a real bullpen bargain there.

So consider these proposals to be "Continued steps toward competence," rather than really blowing anything up:

1) Replace Jerry Manuel with Bob Melvin. Again: Yes, the Mets looked a little more alive last night. Competence from your starting pitcher will do that. But when we're talking about maximizing your assets: Why did Manuel use Fernando Tatis as a pinch-runner for Mike Jacobs in the 10th, when Tatis was the best remaining hitter on the bench and Colorado still had lefty Randy Flores in the bullpen? Alex Cora did all right against Flores, lining out to second base, but Tatis would've been the better option.

At this point, the Mets simply need someone who can push enough of the right buttons during games. Melvin proved capable of that in Arizona.

Manuel has virtually no chance of managing this team in 2011. Jeff Wilpon made it clear at the end of last year that Manuel had very little room for error. With his lineup constructions and strategic decisions already, Manuel has made it clear that he's not going to "step it up."

It wouldn't be easy to pull the trigger so early, yet Manuel knew the lay of the land when he arrived at Port St. Lucie in February. An April dismissal would be understandable, and probably wouldn't surprise Manuel that much.

2) Demote Jenrry Mejia. Of course, if that happened right now, poor Mejia might be concerned that he's getting punished for serving up a walk-off homer to Chris Iannetta. That wouldn't be the case, at all. There's just no point in having a potential frontline starting pitcher knock around the bullpen of a mediocre (at best) team.

Mejia has real work to do at the minor-league level. That Manuel, who has constantly lobbied for the inclusion of Mejia on the big-league roster, won't see that is a further indictment of the skipper.

3) Promote Ike Davis. Jacobs just isn't very good. On defense, he has to take blame for the odd, fourth-inning play last night that allowed Aaron Cook to score from third base. Jacobs threw to second when Dexter Fowler tried to advance there on his single. Jacobs should've been paying more attention to Cook at third base.

So should have Jose Reyes, who thought he had Fowler nailed (he didn't ) and seemed to ignore Cook. But Reyes' positives outweigh his negative.

Jacobs _ who also, as Richie G. noted, didn't bust it out of the box on his 10th-inning double - has a considerable major-league resume at this point. He's highly unlikely to get better than he is, which is barely (and perhaps worse than) replacement level.

If the Mets really, really think that Davis needs more time at Triple-A Buffalo, then why not promote Chris Carter and give him a shot? Perhaps he can give a two- or three-week boost. And when he falls back to earth, maybe Davis would be ready at that point.

4) Pay the draft pick. Omar Minaya is currently scouting for the amateur draft, in which the Mets have the seventh pick. Only once has Minaya been given the green light to really go to town with his pick - his first year, 2005. He chose Mike Pelfrey and paid him well over slot, and...well, even in the worst-case scenario, Pelfrey gave the Mets one good year, and there's reason to think he can be a middle-of-the-rotation starter moving forward.

The point is, Minaya can evaluate talent some. So make sure that money is not an issue, so that the Mets can further build on an already-improving farm system. I can't profess to know whom the Mets are prioritizing at this point, although many teams will change their preferences from now until the draft, anyway.

--John Maine will get another chance to start. Part of the problem, of course, is that the Mets don't have any obvious replacements, what with Nelson Figueroa in Philadelphia. I just don't see much reason for optimism at this point that Maine will solve things.

--The Yankees lost, and Javier Vazuqez drew some fire from the team's fans. There's no doubt that, out there, you can find a sizeable contingent of Yankees fans who believe that Vazquez simply can't handle pitching in New York.

I don't agree with that, but look: Going from the National League East to the American League East is like graduating from community theater to Broadway. It's a far more grueling, intimidating experience. Vazquez has to step it up.

I ran into a scout last Saturday at Citi Field, and that scout smiled when I mentioned that Vazquez had been knocked around by Tampa Bay the previous night. "Welcome back to the American League," the scout said.

Look at Vazquez's numbers. This is his fifth season in the AL. Of his previous four, three (2004, 2006 and 2008) have been right around league-average, while one (2007) has been considerably above average. It's not realistic to think that he could even sniff his numbers from last year in Atlanta.

And while I think Vazquez is a good, mature guy, he just can't be complaining about fans booing him. He's got to embrace it and use it as motivation to win over the high-paying customers.

--Mark Teixeira has his April slump working. It must make Teixeira rest easier that he produced an excellent 2009 even after a slow April. And that everyone in the Bronx isn't scrutinizing his every movement, now that he has that stellar season behind him.

--Phil Hughes makes his 2010 debut today. I'll be there to watch. Should be an interesting one. Here's more on the Yankees' ring prank.

--Good luck trying to ban tobacco from MLB. If people actually have enough time to engage in such a trivial pursuit, then perhaps such people need to join the Peace Corps or something.

--I wrote this story about how defense and speed have become more important in baseball.

--When I compared the 1998 Yankees to the 2010 Yankees yesterday, the guys from It's About The Money alerted me that they've been working on such a project for a few weeks - as opposed to my throwing something together in 45 minutes. Check it out on the link.

--On Jackie Robinson Day, here's a great story by The New York Times' Harvey Araton on Mariano Rivera, the last active player to wear 42.

--I meant to link to this yesterday: In an interview with Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Orlando Hudson questioned whether racism factored into some offseason decisions. He cited the fact that African-American players like Jermaine Dye and Gary Sheffield remain unsigned.

On the surface, I'd disagree. Sheffield wanted playing time that no one would give him, and Dye overpriced himself in, as discussed earlier, an industry where defense has gained importance. Yet I'm never comfortable outright dismissing just thoughts, particularly since I don't know what it's like to exist in Hudson's shoes. If Hudson feels that way, then it's a topic worth discussing and exploring some more.

--Finally, yes, live chat at noon. Who will be this week's Live Chat MVP? Tune in to find out.




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