Saturday, September 09, 2006

Double Dippin' In Metropolitan Goodness

In the efforts of full disclosure, I must tell you that at least the first part of this post is a lie. There is no way that I can type the name of Friday's starting pitcher without cuttin' and pastin' it here. So realize that as you read the name Hong-Chih Kuo, I'm not actually typing it. His nickname should be "Control C" Kuo, because cutting and pasting is the only way I would spell his name right without cheating and going to the other browser window. So between that and typing about two games in one post, know that I'm severely shortchanging you today.

I wish Hong-Chih Kuo was as much of a lie as I am, but he was the real deal in his first career start on Friday night (could you tell by the way he pitched from the stretch practically the whole game?) On the surface, Kuo's efforts had S.U.C.K.M.E. written all over it. But the way his pitches were moving and darting all night, I doubt few teams could have touched him. As I saw through the ESPN's "K Zone", he was around the plate all night with good high heat that moved and kept the Mets lineup off balance. Even the most cynical of Met fans had to tip their hat to Hong-Chih Kuo (still haven't typed that for real), he was that good.

Perhaps without David Wright's two out throwing error in the first inning which let in two runs, it's a different game. I saw this game through the eyes of the ESPN coverage, and Rick Sutcliffe indirectly tried to lay blame on Carlos Delgado by talking about how a first baseman like Keith Hernandez might have gotten that ball. Now I know that Sutcliffe should have never been put on the air by those producers in San Diego to begin with on that fateful night...but Rick, have you been drinking again? Wright threw that ball in the next area code!

The other aspect of Friday's game I want to touch on has to do with Heath Bell. Not so much his pitching (he went two scoreless on Friday) but about his recent comments about the minor leagues:

"I almost feel like if I give up a run, my behind’s going back to the minors...I keep going up and down. It’s like, do they want me to be part of the team or not? What’s the deal?"
I kind of liken these quotes to John Maine's situation. Maine didn't pitch horribly on Friday although he was bitten by the home run bug. But I feel that just as Bell feels that he has to pitch perfectly to stay with the big club, I wonder if John Maine feels that he can't have a down outing if he wants to be the third or fourth starter come playoff time. He's certainly had outings that are worthy of being a starter in the postseason, but between Steve Trachsel's inability to warm up correctly to be a long reliever, and the aura of Orlando Hernandez's October history, Bangor is up against it. And it would take near perfection to sneak Maine into that postseason starting rotation.

Mentions of Bell and Sutcliffe move us seamlessly to Saturday's ball game, which marked a return to the SNY "home team" coverage for me, and thank goodness for that.

Right off the bat, we get a very revealing "mic'd up" type segment with "The Movement", talking about how he's going to face Endy Chavez after Bell has moved on to another franchise. We now know that Bell will never be a closer, because the ending to his fictional story had Chavez getting a hit. That certainly shows a lot of confidence, and it's no wonder he's on the Norfolk shuttle.

My favorite part is how Bell is talking about how he's going to be a soccer coach, and that he roots for England, the U.S., and Mexico...because it's so close to the States that he actually calls Los Angeles "Northern Mexico". (Upon hearing this news, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has announced that to take advantage of an expanded market, he has changed the name of the team to the "Los Angeles Dodgers of Northern Mexico".)

Today's 3-2 victory is the case study for why Omar Minaya made the Shawn Green trade. Sixth inning, down 2-1, Tim Hamulack just got Carlos Delgado on a sac fly to center field moving Jose Valentin to third and Carlos Beltran to second base (an most valuable play by Beltran, as you'll find out later). Now if someone like Chavez, or perhaps Michael Tucker is batting behind David Wright, then the easy play would be to walk Wright and get to Chavez/Tucker. But with Shawn Green in the mix, there is at least a question in Grady Little's mind as to whether to pull Hamulack to let a righty (in today's case, Brett Tomko) face David Wright. And we know what happens to Grady Little when faced with a question over when to pull a pitcher.

Maybe Grady should have still let the former Met face Green, but you can't tell me that Green's presence in the lineup didn't have something to do with the move to let Tomko face Sugar Pants, who promptly (if not deservedly, as Tomko's 2-2 pitch was a strike and should have ended the inning) served a two run single to center field scoring Valentin and Beltran (remember the most valuable play to move to second on the sac fly?) to provide the difference in the game. Once again, Omar Minaya reaps the reward (in this case, a compliment from yours truly) of making this essential acquisition.

The Magic Number drops to six after Saturday's victory which resulted in a sweep of today's double header.

Yes, you read was a double header sweep for the Mets today.

You probably missed the first game as admission was not granted for the first game of the DH...which was shortened to four innings due to the fact that it wasn't actually on the schedule.

But trust me...the Mets won that game as well.

"He looked good...Breaking ball very good. Changeup, fastball, good." -Anderson Hernandez, who got the only hit in Pedro Martinez's four innings of simulated work today.
Don't get me wrong, I'm ecstatic over the fine work done by Petey today...but it underscores the fact that the Mets are an organization so snake bit, they can't even throw a no-hitter in a four inning simulated game.


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Vicki, St Pete Florida said...

I had to listen to Charley Steiner and Steve Lyons today. They sucked. I would think that if the Mets are the home team, I would get to hear the boys. I live in FLA, and pay for the MLB package, and other team's announcers suck.

Great blog. Read it every day.

Metstradamus said...

Thanks Vicki! I always wondered how they pick which coverage games get in those sports packages. I think it has something to do with what satellites are easier to hit. I know for sure that if a game is on a local station, you won't get it...but if a game is on a regional network like FOX or Comcast or what have you, you WILL get those games. But when both teams are available I don't know how they decide.

jabair said...

steiner is a mets fan bu the way!! i met him in SF during the 2000 NLDS