— Days Without Shea —

The Mets are on the rocks as they head to Colorado to face the Rockies.

The Mets have lost eight of their last twelve, have just put Alou in the 15-day DL (with rumors that his injury may keep him out longer) and are STILL dealing with Randolph's quotes from last Sunday. Apparently, the Wilpons aren't even returning his calls. Not a good sign for Willie.

Meanwhile, Dan Boniface of the Rockies blog On The Rox (“Where the glass is always half full”),  posted my answers to his questions. In case you missed it, here were the questions:

1) What's up with the Mets so far this season? What do you think it's going to take for them to start turning things around?

2)The expectations were obviously very high in regard to Johan Santana coming into the season. Has he lived up to those expectations?

3) What did you think of Carlos Beltran's comments pointed in the direction of the Phillies' Jimmy Rollins, and what do you think of Beltran's play so far this season?

You can see my answers on his blog now.

Meanwhile, here is what Dan had to say in response to my queries. Thanks alot Dan and good luck this weekend:

1) Rockies manager Clint Hurdle and pitching coach Bob Apodaca (both ex-Mets) have been in their jobs since 2002. How are these two regarded by Colorado fans and how have they held on to their jobs so long? Apodaca was highly respected as the Mets pitching coach during his tenure here.

One year ago, Rockies fans were calling for Hurdle’s job. It was supposed to be the big payoff-year of their youth movement. The Rox had just given Clint and GM Dan O’Dowd contract extensions on Opening Day 2007 and, by May 22, the team was 9 games under .500 at 18-27. I was even beginning to have my doubts, even though I picked them to win 91 games and the NL Wild Card coming out of the Cactus League.

Hurdle managed to keep the Rockies on an even keel, keep perspective and then something just clicked. Bob Apodaca took an injury-plagued pitching staff, nurtured some young guys and they ended up with the best second-half ERA in the NL.

The magical run to the World Series definitely launched a love affair between Denver and the Rockies manager. He was the grand marshal in parades, his charity work was suddenly big news, he was an instant local celebrity. He couldn’t even take his daughter to Starbucks in relative anonymity the way he used to before the World Series because fans were starting to wait there for him.

Now that the team has flopped to start 2008, the fair-weather fans have started to fall off the bandwagon, but I think the true fans still believe Clint is the best guy for the job. I can say that he has seemed a little more agitated with the media lately, but overall he’s still keeping things in perspective. I haven’t given up hope on him. I think he’s the best manager for this club, and for the NL All-Star team.

2) The Rockies are off to a rough start thus far. What are the key differences between the 2007 NL champion Rockies and the team the Mets are facing this weekend?

Where do I start?

THE GOOD: Aaron Cook and Taylor Buchholz are pitching amazing.

The one other constant has been the Rockies defense. They can still pick it like none other.

Off the bench, the lone improvement has been the addition of Scott Podsednik, who provides a ton of speed and a professional AB.

THE BAD: The absence of Kaz Matsui has been huge. But, I’ll get more into that in the next question.

The clutch hitting has been on hiatus. Brad Hawpe, who had 66 2-out RBI last year is struggling to produce. Todd Helton, who has never hit below .300, is hovering around .265.

And who can forget Tulowitzki? Even though Clint Barmes is hitting .350 in his stead, the Rockies could have Barmes over at 2B. They definitely miss having Tulo’s energy and the emotion he plays with. They feed on that.

THE UGLY: The other big differences have been in the rotation, where the Rockies are really suffering, with the exception of Aaron Cook. Jeff Francis, who won 17 last year, just earned his first win of the year on Sunday. Ubaldo Jimenez is finally starting to look better, although the Rockies are 1-9 in his starts. Franklin Morales was sent down to AAA to regain his confidence after a rough first few weeks of the season. Josh Fogg is gone; now sitting in the Reds bullpen.

The Rox have now had to call up their 2006 first round pick (No. 2 overall) Greg Reynolds to fill a rotation spot, and acquire a guy who wasn’t even good enough to make the Royals rotation, Jorge de la Rosa to fill another spot.

3) Do you guys miss ex-Met Kaz Matsui?

In short: Definitely!

His speed was a huge asset. It disrupted pitchers and could change a game. It caused havoc on the basepaths, where he stole 32 bags. Matsui hit.388 with 2-outs and runners in scoring position in 2007. He was clutch and the Rockies are missing a clutch bat right now, especially when it comes to prolonging an inning to get Matt Holliday to the plate.

At second base, the Rockies have gone through rookie Jayson Nix, they tried Clint Barmes there (who probably would have stuck had it not been for Tulo’s injury forcing him to shortstop) and now they’ve tried Jeff Baker, Omar Quintanilla and Jonathan Herrera there. It would certainly be nice to have Kazmat back.

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