Thursday, June 22, 2006

Eyes On The Prize

So here's the luxury of playing in a division that stinks:

You can have a 3-4 homestand against the bad Orioles and the we're not sure about them yet Reds, and not get hammered for it because a 3-4 homestand actually gains ground in this division.

Here's what I have to say impresses me about the Mets that I saw today: It's getaway day. It's hot and muggy. It's the Reds. It's a day game after a horrible loss. It's a lineup dominated by the bench. The best of the American League East is upcoming. There was every reason for the Mets to play like complete boneheads and sleepwalk through this game, win or lose.

Instead, you have Jose Reyes going from first to third on a 5-3 putout with nobody covering third base. You have Julio Franco stealing third (that's what, his 50th steal of the year?) on a napping Juan Castro.

Before I go any further, I don't want to minimize the efforts of David Wright and this two dingers today. As Gary Cohen said today, the M-V-P chants are getting louder with each game. And each game that Albert Pujols misses with injury, Wright catches up a little bit more, and a little bit more. I believe that the presence of Carlos Delgado in the middle of that lineup has helped David Wright, along with the rest of the Mets lineup, immensely. But consider this small sample when you judge Wright: There have been five games so far this season...including today...where Wright played without the protection of Carlos Delgado in the lineup. Wright's numbers in those five games? How about three home runs, thirteen runs driven in, and sixteen hits out of twenty at bats. That's a batting average of eight hundred, ladies and gentlemen. That is absolutely insane.

But back to the main point: Get on Willie Randolph for whatever you want to get on him for. Get on him for his in game management. Get on him for his "prickliness" with the media. Get on him for the horrible Subway commercials (please get on him for that). But Willie Randolph keeps this team ready to play. Constantly, they're stealing bases on those who aren't paying attention. They're aggressive on the basepaths. And at the very real risk of sounding like cliche-master Joe Morgan (which I hope never to do again), they're doing those little things that it takes to win.

Willie Randolph has his team focused on the here and now. I've never played the game, but I imagine that 162 games is a long season to go through without daydreaming here and there, and taking a look at the scoreboard...or at October...or of the blonde in the front row behind the dugout. There will always be those days where a team isn't mentally focused on what they're doing at that very moment. But the 2006 Mets have not only kept that nonsense at a minimum, they're taking advantage of teams that aren't focused. And whether you like it or not, that's Willie Randolph's doing. That's the doing of the entire coaching staff (even Rick Peterson and his mullet). So for that, I give them credit whether...you might want to or not.

***

Only Mike and the Mad Dog can kill the Mets constantly directly after a Met victory because of the bad loss the night before.

At this very moment, they're killing Wright for not letting the Rich Aurilia tapper go foul. Chris Russo has been screaming that it's a horrible play, and the two of them are absolutely sure that the ball would have gone foul...22 hours later and with the advantage of video tape.

I saw the same video tape that they saw and I'll say this: If the ball was going foul...and truthfully I thought it was going to stay fair...with the horrible umpiring going on this year on obvious calls (see Pedro Martinez's blooper that Austin Kearns trapped but called an out even though everybody could see with the naked eye that the ball was trapped), do you really want to trust an umpire to get that dribbler right? And I certainly didn't see anybody backing up Wright, making the possibility of Kearns scoring from second on the play very real.

And I love how, in their zest to kill Billy Wagner for last night, Chris Russo keeps bringing up that the Mets are paying Wagner $40 million, as if they were supposed to get him for next to nothing like the Wilpons tried to do with Vladimir Guerrero and looked like morons. Then Russo says that the Mets have a budget of $101 million, and they're paying Wagner 40...conveniently making it sound like Wagner is making $40 million of the $101 million this season. Why let facts get in the way of Met bashing, right boys?

I'm so mad I could go and threaten bodily harm to Jay Mariotti.

***

A Mr. Blackwell special: Nice to see that Pedro Martinez's high socks gave his ankles the aerodynamics to kick a comebacker to Jose Reyes for the 1-6-3 out. But the high socks also saw five walks today. Will they be back for the next start?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the guys on ESPN last night wouldn't shut up about Wright's "mistake" either. When he came up to bat, the announcers just knew that he was going to be trying to make up for his "mistake."

He was close enough to the bag when he picked up the ball; obviously, he should have leapt backwards, fallen on his back, and tagged the bag with the ball before the runner from second could reach. That "going foul" business is, as you say, wild speculation. It looked to me like it was headed for a nasty ricochet off of the bag, into foul territory.

Kyle in Newport News said...

That's my post up there on top... have to represent Da Newz, you know.

RealityChuck said...

I agree completely with your comments on the team's baserunning. I've seen several times when a player takes an extra base on the slightest of advantages.

Back a month ago, the Mets won in extra innings because Betran advanced on a passed ball that was only about three feet from the catcher. Reyes scored on that play at the plate last week when the catcher was only about six feet away. In both cases, the catcher just didn't expect anyone to be testing him until it was too late.

Sometimes it doesn't work (Valentin's inside-the-park attempt the other day), but it's really paid of that they give no quarter.

As for Wright, he did nothing wrong. It was completely unclear as to whether the ball was going foul, and if it had hit the bag and got away from him, everyone would have been all over him for that. It was a tough situation, requiring a quick decision, and Wright did what he had to do.

Anonymous said...

Oh great Metstradamus...out of curiosity, are you working? Your consistantly great articles give the impression that you watch every single game pitch by pitch. I'm sure it's none of my business but I'm just curious.

Metstradamus said...

Anonymous,

Are you looking to hire me?

Or are you just asking me if I'm a bum?

;)

All kidding aside, fear not. I "win bread"...albeit during unconventional hours. But I am employed.

Anonymous said...

Metstra,

Can we please dedicate tomorrow to some old fashioned all-out Roger Clemens hatin'? I am ready to throw up in my mouth watching these gushing ESPN guys and these disgusting "top 342 Clemens momens" montages.

Help us keep our sanity in these uncertain times...

Metstradamus said...

Anonymous,

I am with you. I actually had something planned, but blogger is being randomly moody when it comes to uploading pictures. Perhaps tomorrow afternoon I will have something.

Joe Whoever said...

Hi, first-time commenter, just wanted to say something about your comments on Wright. You noted that Wright dominates in games that Delgado doesn't play. I've often seen stats on TV about how good Wright is when he's hitting cleanup (which generally means games without Delgado). There's a very significant third-party variable though: the games Delgado sits out are almost always against lefty pitchers. And Wright murders lefties; always has. I think the southpaw opposition, and not the lack of Delgado or the cleanup status, is why Wright has those great numbers in those situations.

Just wanted to throw that out there. Great blog, I check it daily.

Metstradamus said...

Joe Whoever,

Thanks for the kind words. And you bring up an excellent point. So I went back and re-checked those five games. Sure enough, the starting pitchers were:

Eric Milton
Adam Loewen
Odalis Perez
Dontrelle Willis
Paul Maholm

One star, two up and comers, and two launching pads...but all lefthanded. That's a great eye by you.

I just like the fact that this lineup is so good that Carlos Delgado can sit once in a while and the whole thing isn't going to fall apart. A long way from the days of Mike Piazza being the only gun in the lineup, and having to sit once or twice a week because he's a catcher. And Wright is fast becoming one of those guys that can anchor a lineup. But having Delgado is a huge difference from not having Delgado.

Thank you again.

Unser said...

Totally with you M'D re: Mike and the Dog. How the the stupidity about Reyes' triple being "just a fly ball" and that Kearns "clearly should have been charged with an error" which "landed on the grass, not the warning track." While Keanrs should have had it, anyone looking at the replay would have seen that the ball landed in the middle of the warning track and that Kearns ran a long way for it.

And if Wright lets the ball go and it his the bag and careens into foul territory, allowing the tying run to score, you can bet that those two idiots would be screaming about how Wright should have caught the ball and give Wagner a chance to get the last out.