Thursday, September 01, 2005

Meaningful Loss

From John Donovan of on the N.L. wild card race:

Without injured first baseman Jim Thome, the Phils need these three big hitters to get hot: left fielder Pat Burrell (27 homers, 97 RBIs), second baseman Chase Utley (21, 81) and right fielder Bobby Abreu (22 homers, but just four since winning the All-Star Home Run Derby). Rookie Ryan Howard, Thome's replacement at first, must step up.

Well in the first meaningful series in September for the Mets since 2001, Burrell, Utley, Abreu (2 for 3 with a run today), and Howard (insurance home run in the ninth) have all stepped up.

Meanwhile, stepping up for the Mets? Ramon Castro.

As it turns out, the Mets were one Fluff Castro swing away from an embarassing sweep, and are lucky to get out in the shape that they're in. Not the way you want to play your first meaningful September series in four years.

Tom Glavine was fine today pitching-wise, but fumbled a Pat Burrell grounder that should have/would have been an inning ending double play. It wasn't an error because the Mets got an out on the play, but it set up David Bell's two run single which was all Philly needed to take the rubber match by a score of 3-1.

"Go back to Japan and take Looper with you!!!" -unidentified Kaz Matsui heckler, Shea Stadium, 9/1/2005
I had an "uh-oh" moment when Ryan Howard stepped up to the plate in the ninth against Braden Looper. Fastball hitter vs. fastball pitcher...the thought that came into my mind was "Howard could hit one 500 miles". Well not quite, but Howard's insurance run reached the camera tower in center field...which is a hungry man blast.

I'm not going to lead the brigade for Braden Looper's head. Ryan Howard is a monster who can hit a good fastball. Those who are regular readers of my "shpiel" know that I'm not aligned with those who want to get rid of Looper for the sake of getting rid of him. I will say this, however: If Billy Wagner's recent warm sentiments for New York City are real, then the Mets have to do what they can to get him to Shea. Billy Wagner is an elite closer. Who else but Billy Wagner has the goods to walk a lead off hitter and have it be a minor inconvenience, as he did today? Eric Gagne? Yes, when healthy. Trevor Hoffman? Yes. Mariano Rivera? Of course. Guess what? The Mets aren't getting any of the last three closers. It was thought that Wagner was also unavailable...he was recently talking retirement. Now? Anything is possible.

Now if I was a Phillies fan, I would be borderline furious at Wagner. Between his comments that the Phillies had no shot at the playoffs, and his retirement musings, and now his halfway public contract negotiations, if Wagner wasn't the slam dunk out of the bullpen that he is, there would be a lot less tolerance for him. But he is a slam dunk...and that's precisely why he is absolutely worth every penny the Mets would throw at him.

If 2006 is the season that the Mets have been aiming for from the beginning of 2005, then it's the perfect time to put all their efforts and cash flow into Wagner. After all, why buy a $50,000 car only to have two dollar brakes? And if Braden Looper chooses not to understand why he would lose his closer's job to somebody like Billy Wagner, then I wish him well.


From the "not that it made any difference" department, but Willie Randolph made a bizarre move during the eighth inning today. With Ugueth Urbina on the mound in a 2-1 game, Randolph pinch hit Marlon Anderson for catcher Mike DiFelice, and then Jose Offerman for Roberto Hernandez. Randolph then replaced Anderson with Ramon Castro at the catcher position.

Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't Castro recently hit a big home run off of Urbina?

In a 2-1 game, Randolph basically wasted a pinch hitter, when it could have been Castro pinch hitting for DiFelice, and Anderson hitting for Hernandez...then you would have Offerman in your holster if the game went into extra innings.

I didn't understand that one.


Tim Hamulack warmed up in the pen, but did not make his major league debut at the age of 29 today.


And yes, the Metstradamus record at Shea drops to 4-1 for 2005.

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