Thursday, June 30, 2005

Lucky Charms

Here is an example of the curse the monacre "Metstradamus" carries. So it's the top of the first, and from my spot in box 226G I can't really distinguish is Pedro Martinez is getting squeezed or not by home plate ump Alfonso Marquez. But it certainly seems to me that Mike Piazza's glove is moving very little.

So flash forward to the bottom of the second as Pedro's pitch count is already up to 47, and now it's Jon Lieber's turn to get squeezed by Marquez. With Piazza was at the plate, and Todd "Tank" Pratt behind the dish, I'm thinking "you know, on a muggy day like this, and two star pitchers on the hill, this isn't the time to shrink your strike zone." No sooner do I think it does Tank think the same thing, and voices his displeasure to Marquez. Before you know it, Tank and Charlie Manuel are tossed, Piazza no doubt is laughing because of his own episode not that long ago, and now I'm thinking "get out of my head!!!"

Well before you know it, Chris Woodward is driving in two runs, and the Mets are on their way to a 5-3 victory. And speaking of Woodward, I want to take the liberty of proclaiming myself Chris' lucky charm. I've been present at three games (3-0). Woodward didn't play the first game. In the last two, he's three for eight with a HR, a double, a triple, and four RBI's. Woodward should know that anytime he needs me in the house, I'm there. However I'm probably best used sparingly as a backup lucky charm, which is the role that Woodward himself is used in.

Other observations:

I don't know how many other teams use this on Cliff Floyd, but that shift is silly. I think it caused more problems for the Phillies today than it solved. First, Floyd laid down a bunt down the third base line and got himself the easiest base hit he'll ever get. Then in the seventh inning, Carlos Beltran stole third because Tomas Perez was practically behind second for the Floyd shift. And even with Beltran at third, the Floyd shift was still on. Beltran could have easily stolen home if he wanted to after already stealing second and third (and doesn't Carlos Beltran stealing two bases make you want to breathe a sigh of relief?) All because of the shift. Of course the shift didn't wind up costing the Phillies any runs, but it sure as heck didn't prevent any problems for the Phils.

Also, while Pedro was at bat in the second with runners on first and second, David Wright bluffed a delayed steal of third on the first pitch to Martinez as Tomas Perez charged the bunt. After that pitch, shortstop Jimmy Rollins cautioned Perez about staying close to third. Next pitch, Perez charges, Martinez deadens a bunt to Lieberthal behind the plate, and Wright should have been a dead duck. But Perez was too far in, Lieberthal hesitates but tries to get him anyway, and everyone is safe. Even though that didn't cost the Phillies either, I suspect that miscommunication like this are why they're sinking like a stone.

I have Chase Utley on the hate list today, but basically it's only because he's not a Met, and he's good. And after hustling all the way down the line on an easy ground ball to second base in the sixth inning (which a lot of players would mail in, and it's sad that players are singled out for hustling rather than for not), I promise that after today, Utley is off the hate list forever.

Sometime during the game, the P.A. system played Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir". Memo from those of us who are still tormented by the trade of Scott Kazmir...that's not funny.

The Mets alternated video footage of a Phillie fan and Mets fans, you know that basic stuff that most ballparks do to get the fans to alternate between boos and cheers. The boos for the Phillie fan were half hearted until he revealed that the t-shirt he was wearing was not only a Phillies shirt, but a Pat Burrell Phillies shirt. Then the boos were vociferous and heartfelt.

And a final note: check today's boxscore and pay particular attention to the top of the seventh inning. Bell was relieved by Ring.

Of course.

In Other Washed Up Reliever News...

Mike "Hitaway" DeJean is reportedly close to signing with the Colorado Rockies.

Wait a minute. Hitaway in Coors Field?

Reminds me of some other bad ideas in baseball history:
  • "Juan Samuel can play center field, no?"
  • "Art Howe is available?"
  • "Put $1000 on the Reds for me...Trust me, I'm their manager. It's a sure thing!"
  • "Hey, during practice, can you get some footage of Kenny Rogers?"
  • "Hey Mo Vaughn, want to come to IHOP with us?"
  • "We're strapped for cash. Let's sell that fatso pitcher to the Yankees...that Ruth kid."
  • "Trust me, baseball will be a big hit in Tampa Bay."
  • "I can fix him in ten minutes."
  • "That Reggie Jackson is overrated. I'm telling you, Steve Chilcott is going to be a star!"
  • "Nah, leave Buckner at first for the tenth."
  • "It would be so cool, if between games of our doubleheader, we let fans on the field to destroy disco records."
  • "I can't tell this turf is artificial."
  • "I heard this Komiyama is the Japanese Greg Maddux!"
  • "Let's leave Gooden in to face Scioscia."
  • "What if we pretended the Mets moved to the planet Mercury?"
  • "That Nolan Ryan kid just ain't gonna make it in New York. Hey, Fregosi's available!"
  • "Hey, let's interview Bonilla."
But this bad idea from outside of baseball tops 'em all:
  • "I got it! Two words...Glow Puck!!!!!!!"


I got an e-mail today from the infamous Yankee fan known as Darth Marc. It regarded former Met batting practice machine Mike Stanton and his game losing bomb to Brian Roberts on Tuesday night. I would like to share it with you:

Why Mike Stanton is still in a Yankee Uniform??? After last night, he has to go immediately. Here's what a (fellow Yankee fan) wrote about him today....


It's not often that the team that trades for a pitcher who spends 99% of the season on the disabled list wins that trade, but in this case, the Mets got the better of the deal with Felix Heredia. And I have to heart is warm.

Kaz: A Four Letter Word

When you're a lefthanded pitcher, and Chase Utley jacks you out of the yard with all the subtlety of a Kenny Rogers kick to your camera (I guess those cameramen were from New York), well then you've got no business disguising yourself as a front line pitcher. And sadly, it looks more and more like Chris Russo was correct about Kaz Ishii as the Mets threw the sinking Phillies a life preserver tonight by a score of 6-3.

Ishii let loose with the walks again, 4 in 3 and 1/3 innings, preceding the Utley home run. Willie Randolph was seen performing a furious rain dance in the dugout to try to spare the Mets some indignity, but of course the rain died down while the game was becoming official. Randolph swore up and down after the game that Ishii would stay in the rotation, but let's face is not the time to perform like chopped avocado on the mound with Aaron Heilman (one run in one and 2/3 innings in relief and Ishii), and with Steve Trachsel targeting an August 1st return.

Combine that with the fact that the Mets didn't give up their top minor league pitcher for him, rather a useless catcher who runs funny, it ultimately will not be hard for Randolph to cut bait on Fishii Ishii.

And P.S. Did you see the way Jose Offerman hit that home run towards the back of the bleachers? Well that proves it...that WAS Dontrelle Willis!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Infancy Unit

So Omar Minaya cautions that trade talks between the Mets and Yankees involving Gary Sheffield, Mike Cameron, and perhaps Miguel Cairo and a young Met pitcher are in their infancy.

Let me be one of the first to tell you that this is an infant that needs to be put up for adoption as soon as possible.

It's long been rumored that the Yankees have wanted Cameron, but now all of a sudden Sheffield is available? Wouldn't it behoove the Mets to inquire as to why Sheffield, numbers and all, is available immediately following a round of meetings to figure out what's wrong with the Yankees? Obviously, Gary Sheffield is part of the problem if he's available in a trade. And he's the very picture of the aging, slowing mercenary that has become the very component that the Yanks want to get rid of...not to mention the antithesis of everything that is right with the Mets. So is this really a deal that the Mets want to make?

And why would Omar Minaya, in one fell swoop, take care of every weakness the Yankees have, in effect bailing them out of the mess that they've created for themselves? Too many teams have done just that in the past (see Ricky Ledee for David Justice, or Jeff Nelson for Armando Benitez), mostly for salary purposes. The Mets are one of the few teams that don't need to make a trade to get rid of payroll, in fact they would be adding payroll with this deal. So again I ask: Why give the Yankees the center fielder they need, the young pitcher that they lack in their farm system, and the second baseman they foolishly got rid of in the first place?

The Mets need offense, and Sheffield certainly would bring that with his .300 avg., his .400 OBP, and his .500 slugging pct. Sheffield also brings 17 seasons of mileage on his various body parts. He brings 17 years of baggage which would bring him to his seventh organization, and there's a reason for that. Outside of Florida, which was a pure salary purge, it's interesting that none of the other organizations that employed Sheffield thought enough of him to build a franchise around him. He admitted that he purposely tanked on throws from the outfield to get himself traded out of Milwaukee...not the definition of the term "professional". San Diego was a salary dump but if they thought enough of Sheffield, believe me the Padres would have found a way to keep him since there were other players that found their way to getting lost. Los Angeles? They couldn't afford him? Between the contract squabbles, the steroid allegations, and the random hissyfits he's thrown after feeling disrespected, Sheffield would be a horrible fit in the youthful funhouse known as the Mets clubhouse.

Infancy? This trade needs to be thrown out with the bath water.

Quad-ratic Equation

It's nice to not have to analyze and overanalyze Willie Randolph's moves with a relatively stress free 8-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea tonight. It's also nice to see the Mets not lose their intensity directly after the Yankees series. And it's nice of the Mets to treat a rookie like a rookie, and not like Steve Carlton.

But it's especially nice to see Carlos Beltran continue his return to superstardom (although he's not there yet) with a double and a triple with an RBI. Beltran's starting to swing like the October 2004 model again, and he's running harder and harder. There have been way too many nights where the entire middle of the order would be completely unproductive. Now, Cliff Floyd is swinging like Bunyan...Beltran is almost back...and even Mike Piazza had a Mike Piazza swing tonight with a dinger in the sixth. With the starting rotation settling into a comfortable consistency, it's the middle of the order will take the Mets to it's final destination, good or bad. One can only hope that the middle of the order will include David Wright before the season is over.

D-Train mirage: Jose Offerman made his Met debut with a pinch hit RBI single tonight. I was excited to see him in the on deck circle...waggling his dangerous bat around wearing number 35. But I must tell you, I was excited to see him because for a split second, I thought the Mets acquired Dontrelle Willis.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Familiarality Breeds Writers Block

You've seen it in the side bar, in the "Doug Mientkiewicz Quotebook" box, but it bears repeating for this half baked preview of the Phillies series:

"You play somebody that many times, you're bound to have something happen. I think you've seen more guys getting hit, more guys having trouble because of the fact you see somebody so many times. There's a reason probably why marriages fail so much, because you see each other so much."

It's also a reason this blog will ultimately fail.

It will fail because nineteen games against the Phillies, including seven in a week and a half, isn't exactly condusive to coming up with new and exciting things to write about and keep you, my loyal readers (all three of you) mentally stimulated. But here's the appetizer to what will surely be tonight's main course of ranting and raving about why David Wright is batting tenth or why Aaron Heilman is being brought in to pitch while losing by 142, or why Jose Offerman hasn't retired yet...

Tuesday: Robinson Tejeda (1-0, 2.03 ERA) vs. Victor Zambrano (3-6, 3.97 ERA)
Wednesday: Cory Lidle (6-6, 4.12 ERA) vs. Kaz Ishii (2.6, 5.25 ERA)
Thursday: Jon Lieber (8-7, 4.93 ERA) vs. Pedro Martinez (8-2, 2.72 ERA)

Pat Burrell has three HR's and 8 RBI's against the Mets in 2005, but he's only hitting at a .171 clip.

Pedro Martinez in day games over the last three seasons? 16-4, 2.46 ERA, OBA: .206, with 209 K's in 183 innings with two complete games. Let's go ahead and jinx that no-hitter a couple of days in advance, whaddaya say?

As for Pedro's Thursday afternoon opponent...Jon Lieber in 2005 day games: 6-1, 3.42 ERA. In his career he's 55-32 with a 3.39 ERA during the day. Lieber is 2-6 at night with a 6.28 ERA this season, and 53-66 with a 4.93 ERA at night in his career.

Cory Lidle at home in 2005: 5.95 ERA, .320 OBA. Cory Lidle on the road in 2005: 2.80 ERA, .230 OBA. Oddly enough, he's 3-3 at home, and 3-3 on the road.

Jose Offerman has a career .204 batting average at Shea Stadium. (Hey, I told you this was half baked!)

Monday, June 27, 2005

You Know Your Career Is Over...

when you ask to be released by an independent league team to "reassess your future".

And now that John Rocker has asked for and received his release from the Long Island Ducks, maybe his future will involve a frying machine, a paper hat, and frozen fish filets.

Or maybe it will involve selling shares of Enron on eBay.

Or maybe he can carry Hank Aaron's jock...oh never mind, he can't.

I know, he can become a missionary in Africa with Mike Tyson (a match made in hell)! Or join the search for the Holy Grail...wait, how can he search for the Holy Grail when he can't find the strike zone. Bad call.

With Friends Like These...

Don't you hate when you are watching a big game, and you get a phone call at the most inopportune time? Or you get a call from someone claming that the game is in the bag? Well tonight was tenuous, to be sure. But surely it was in the bag, no? Kris Benson cruised through five innings, and Randy Johnson was Randy Johnson again but the Mets scratched out a run for the lead. For a tight Met-Yankee game in the Bronx, my hyperactivity was surprisingly low and I was feeling pretty confident.

Then, before the bottom of the sixth, the phone rang.

It was family, so I had to pick it up. It was a mojo call from my brother, a Met fan in Ohio. All he said was "Just put on the game...mojo call." We hung up, and the Yankees immediately scratched out an unearned run to tie the game.

Bad mojo.

Luckily, then came the top of the seventh. It was the kind of inning that should have warded off all bad spirits, curses, ghosts and bad mojo once and for all. A double by Chris Woodward over the head of an old dog trying to learn a new trick, Tony Womack in center field. Then a walk, a wild pitch, an error, and infield single, and another error later, the Mets had a 4-1 lead. I wasn't worried anymore...until the middle of the seventh.

Another damn phone call.

This time, it was a good friend of mine. Now, if you check out my profile on this site, I explain that some Met fans blast me for being too pessimistic. The guy who called me before the seventh inning is that very Met fan. I decide that I'm not going to pick up...too engrossed at this point. This is the message that he leaves:

Wow...I hope you're watching this. I hope you're seeing what is going on. You know what, I'm starting to believe again...I think we might have a chance.

Oh, we had a chance (as Aaron Heilman commits a balk).

We had a chance to go over .500 (as Carlos Beltran misses the cutoff man). We had a chance to get a Yankee coach fired (as Alex Rodriguez drives in the third run). We had a chance to put the first nail in their 2005 coffin (as Braden Looper can't find the plate). We had a chance for the first sweep ever in the Bronx (as Rodriguez doubles down the unguarded line). We had a chance to gain a game on the first place Nationals (as Jason Giambi wins the game).

But YOU called.

YOU left a message of hope and belief and YOU BLEEEEEEEEEEW IIIIIIIIIIIIIT!

YOU blew it.

And do you know what you caused with one premature phone call? You've caused Yankee fans to start dancing again. You've given them a spring in their step. You've given Jeannie Zelasko and Kevin Kennedy from the FOX Saturday Game of the Week an opportunity to put together a 5 minute fluff piece on the newest "Greatest Game In The History Of Baseball" to air before next week's game.

You helped write a new "Yankeeography".

You've given Ron Howard an idea for a new feature length film..."Cream and Clear Man". Russell Crowe will be Giambi. John Leguizamo will be A-Rod. Chris Rock will be Gary Sheffield. Jackie Chan will play Hideki Matsui (Howard will take advantage of Chan's talents by writing in an action scene of Chan kicking the butts of 17 Met fans dressed as ninjas on the way to first after being intentionally walked.) Of course, Derek Jeter diving into the stands for a foul ball and breaking both his legs but staying in the game will be written into the script for dramatic effect (he'll play himself).

And do you know who is going to play your part? TED McGINLEY!

Except you didn't jump the shark my friend. You fed the Mets to Jaws!

NOW do you know why I'm pessimistic? It's YOUR fault.

Hold my calls.

Delayed Reaction

It just hit me.

The Mets brought up Jose Offerman?

Offerman once committed 42 errors in a season. He makes Kaz Matsui look slick.

Does anybody else find it weird that the last three players the Mets have called up from their minor league system, a system designed to develop young superstars with an eye towards the future, are 33-year-old Brian Daubach, 38-year-old Gerald Williams, and 36-year-old Jose Offerman? Do they play baseball in Norfolk or shuffleboard?

Check their canes for cork.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A Hammy Update

ESPN has reported that Doug Mientkiewicz has been placed on the 15 day DL with a tight hamstring. This is a welcome departure from the Mets carrying injured players on the bench. WIth Brian Daubach available, the Mets have the luxury of letting Minky heal.

In other news, Tony Womack is in center field for tonight's finale. And you thought the Yanks had problems before. Oooh boy!

Pushing Henn Off A "Cliff"

Cliff Floyd gave me Darryl Strawberry flashbacks today.

There are home runs, then there are home runs. Then there are Floyd's bombs off helpless rookie Sean Henn from Saturday's 10-3 victory over the Yanks. I saw one of them roll down my street.

What was going to prevail? The Mets horrible record against rookies? Or their excellent batting average against lefties? The latter, thanks to Cornelius and his twin bombs. And now the Mets have a chance to sweep the suddenly hapless Yankees, and in "the house that Ruth built" no less. The Mets have never even won a series in Steinbrenner's Synagogue, much less sweep.

But while it's enough to make a Met fan giddy (as well it should), keep in mind that through all of this, nobody else in the N.L. East outside of Philly is losing either. So no matter what happens Sunday night, sweep or not, there's still plenty of work to do.

Other matters:

David Wright's new haircut: Samson, Shmanson. Whatever works, right? I understand that Wright searched far and wide to get just the right person to cut his hair, and he found him. Hey, how is Rey Sanchez doing anyway?

Erosion of a cornerstone: I don't remember anybody having a tougher series in the field than Bernie Williams. First he drops a fly ball, then he gets embarassed by Mike Cameron's heads up play tagging from first and catching Bernie asleep. Then he let's Ramon Castro's base hit get by him. And finally, the frustration sets in as Bernie goes medieval on a water cooler. The good news for Williams is that he's being compared to one of the greatest center fielders of all time. The bad news is, he's being compared to the 1973 version of Willie Mays.

Close plays at first: In another razor close play at first base in this series, Derek Jeter was probably safe in the second inning, as it looked like a tie at the bag. But you know what, Reyes gets the call for making a spectacular play to end that inning. Enough of those have gone against the Mets in past seasons against the Yankees so excuse me while I don't cry in my beer. And Roy White needs to switch to decaf. He's no Lee Mazzilli.

Minky, Hammy. Hammy, Minky: See Doug. See Doug tweak hamstring against the Yankees. See Doug tell us there's "no chance" he'll play Sunday night against Randy Johnson. See Doug's heart break. See Brian Daubach go 2 for 3 with a sac fly RBI.

Tom Glavine plays Houdini on Saturday: All those threats that he escaped today made me well would he be able to escape a Met fan's hands around his neck for giving us all heart attacks on an inning by inning basis?

Aaron Heilman brought in to mop up: Not this again! At least it was only one inning so he could go on Sunday.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Who's Your Driver?

All that money the Mets pay Pedro Martinez, and they don't provide him a driver to get him to Yankee Stadium quicker than three hours? Pedro's lucky he didn't get his front teeth busted in like a certain other Mets starter in a cab. How exactly is the Mets' 2005 meal ticket allowed to roam the city like Pascual Perez?

And he still pitched eight strong against the Yankees tonight for the 6-4 win. Who's your daddy?

Good to see Carlos Beltran not only hit a home run (another one with Pedro on the mound), but run full tilt after Godzilla's drive to center with two outs in the eighth and catch up to it before crashing into the wall. Looks like that quad's getting better.

Good to see Cliff Floyd be Cliff Floyd, with his homer and his juggling catch.

Good to see Doug Mientkiewicz go to left field in the ninth inning to set up the sixth run. Now I'm willing to believe the slump may be over.

Good to see Marlon Anderson keep hustling down the first base line (he was robbed).

Good to see the Mets lineup work Mussina's pitch count. He was at 105 through six innings, while Pedro was at 106 through eight.

And Braden, I know you're not Armando Benitez, and I appreciate that fact. But could you please stop trying to make sure your games get aired on ESPN Classic? Boring wins are nice too. No need to put the tying run on the plate for fun. That's not fun, that's agita.

And one more note on whoever was driving Pedro to the game: I hear Glavine needs a ride tomorrow. Is that guy available? I hear Tom has never seen Altoona, PA before.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Washing The Dark Side Away

Seems that Willie Randolph has indeed completely escaped the clutches and the hold of the Evil Empire. In today's Daily News, Randolph let his true feelings out, and in the process breaking the pattern of the automatic genuflecting at the feet of "the most reknown franchise in the history of pro sports":

"They'll (Yankee fans) try to be cutesy and think that they're original with that, 'Who's your daddy?' stuff. I don't know if (Martinez) cares really," Randolph said, looking ahead to Martinez's matchup with Mike Mussina tonight.

Randolph said he never felt like he was being groomed to become the Yankee manager, and, in true Met form, questioned why Roger Clemens ever threw that bat shard in the direction of Piazza.

He even recalled throwing peanuts at Roy White - his future teammate - as a youngster after getting free tickets.

Randolph revealed the Yankees once offered him the Triple-A Columbus gig. But, he added, it was a "real bad offer" that would have cost him $500,000 annual World Series checks. "You might get lost in the shuffle, but take that shot," Randolph said, portraying the attitude of Yankees brass.

Said Randolph: "My mama didn't raise no fool. I'm like, 'I'll stick it out.'"

Randolph always relished returning to the Stadium in a visiting uniform, as evidenced by his .400 average there as an opponent. As for Clemens hitting Piazza in the head, he added: "I'm more intrigued by when he threw the bat at him. I still don't understand that explanation."

Oh, it's on.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

What's The Scenario?

Friday: Pedro Martinez (7-2, 2.76 ERA) vs. Mike Mussina (8-4, 3.82 ERA)

Saturday: Tom Glavine (4-7, 5.06 ERA) vs. Sean Henn (0-2, 10.29 ERA)

Sunday: Kris Benson (6-2, 3.90 ERA) vs. Randy Johnson (7-5, 4.02 ERA)

Why the Mets will sweep the Yankees:

Pedro Martinez will be Pedro Martinez in the first game, and Mike Mussina will have his pitch count worked and the Mets lineup will bear down and hit Mussina's mistakes for a game one win.

The Mets lineup will cream the rookie Henn to make up for any shortcomings by Glavine and the Mets will come away with the second game.

Kris Benson will continue his mastery of the Yankees, and Randy Johnson will continue his slide into retirement, perhaps giving up another double to Dae Sung Koo in the process.

The Mets will be energized by taking 2 of 3 from Philly, while the Yankees will still reel from losing three of four to the Devil Rays.

Why the Yankees will sweep the Mets:

Pedro Martinez will start seeing ghosts again at Yankee Stadium, and the Mets lineup doesn't bother to work pitch counts against Mussina as the Yankees take game one.

The Mets lineup will continue their struggles against rookies as Sean Henn looks like Steve Carlton, and Tom Glavine will look like, well Tom Glavine as the Mets drop the second game.

The Yankees will figure out Kris Benson, and Randy Johnson will return to form as the Yankees complete the sweep.

The Yankees will be motivated by seeing the Mets instead of the Devil Rays, and the Mets will be intimitated in Yankee Stadium instead of Citizens Bank Park.

So what will actually happen?

I like Pedro in game one but strange things happen to him in Yankee Stadium. But here's the key: If the Mets lineup is patient and works Mussina they'll take the first game.

I know Sean Henn is on the mound, but for some reason I have a horrible feeling about game two. The Mets don't hit rookies, and I have a feeling that if they even start to hit Henn, Torre will have a quick hook. I don't no confidence in Tom Glavine for Saturday. The key? Aaron Heilman. There is no doubt he'll be pressed into it when Glavine is pulled. He needs to hold the fort down and hope that the Mets provide him with run support against Henn.

Game three is the kicker. Benson has been the Mets stopper lately, and he's been getting a ton of run support. The Mets solved Randy Johnson in their last meeting...can they do it again? I think they will.

So I'll say:

Game One: Mets, but it's a toss up
Game Two: Yankees
Game Three: Mets

Minky Takes It To The (Citizens) Bank

You know I actually thought during the winter that Doug Mientkiewicz had a batting stroke more suited to Shea Stadium than Carlos Delgado?

Well obviously I was wrong. Doug Mientkiewicz has a batting stroke more suited to Citizens Bank Park than Carlos Delgado.

How else do you explain Minky making the Bank his own personal playpen, hitting his third HR of the year there for the eventual deciding run in the Mets 4-3 victory over the Phillies today? Is it a sign of things to come? I truly believe that he'll snap out of it and be a tough out the rest of the way. And he's been hot lately with two HR's and four RBI's in the last six games, but when I see Doug Mientkiewicz start taking the ball to left field, then I will be able to completely stop worrying about him. He's useless when he's pull happy, and it was no coincidence that it was right after hitting HR's in consecutive games against Milwaukee and Chicago back in May that his deep funk began, so I'd like to see him go the other way more.

I hope it happens for him because he's a stand up guy, but I hope it happens for him more because his team needs him, and if Omar Minaya feels the need to go get a first baseman in season, it will most likely be a trade that will strip the farm system even further, and it will probably be for a first baseman who will be injured after three games. So go get 'em Minky, save your organization from itself!

Big tip of the stetson to Roberto "age aint nothin' but a number" Hernandez, who bailed out Heath Bell and Royce Ring in the seventh by striking out Pat Burrell, then pitching a scoreless ninth which included a heads up play off Thome, who hit a foul pop to the left side, but with the infield employing the "Griffey Shift" there was nobody who could make the catch but he raced over and grabbed it. Glad to see someone using their noggin' out there.

And Kaz Ishii was more than adequate today. Ishii pitched 6 and 2/3 innings of strong baseball, and finally got some run support...the Mets averaged 2.7 runs in Ishii's starts, and he made the four runs he got stand up giving up 6 hits and 2 walks.

"I'm happy I was finally able to contribute, I was trying to minimize the
damage. This is a small park. You have to be very careful and concentrate here."

Can someone gently remind him that it would help to concentrate in the big parks as well?

And let's not forget Jose Reyes' three hits and three steals today.

Jar Jar Jinx

Remember the proclamation by Dayn Perry of It was June 9th when Perry wrote the following:
...this is probably the team to beat the rest of the way. The positive run differential in tandem with injuries to the Braves and a fairly rough schedule ahead for the Marlins will likely mean a division title for the Mets.
It's worth noting that the Mets record when this article was written: 31-28. Since? 3-9.

Growing Pains

Nice of Aaron Heilman to stink up the joint and make all of us who called for him to be used in pressure situations look stupid in the process, after finally being put in a pressure situation. Our season in a nutshell.

Seriously, chalk it up to nerves. When you spend 10 out of 11 appearances mopping up, it's easy to not be mentally prepared when you're put in a high-fizz situation as Heilman was tonight, coming in with the score tied at 2-2 and a runner on first base. Heilman of course gave up a 5 spot and put the game out of reach. Now if this keeps up, then we'll all start to question whether Heilman has the moxie to pitch out of the bullpen or not. But even if he falls apart and it's proven that he can't do it...well it's not like the Mets' options were that great before. And quite honestly, I'd rather young players like Heilman and Royce Ring (who got squeezed on the payoff pitch to Jim Thome in the seventh) go through their lumps and improve for the future, than have "Hitaway" DeJean and Manny "The Human White Flag" Aybar take the mound and get old before our very eyes. So that aspect of tonight's 8-4 loss can be lived with.

What can't happen though, and what can't be lived with, is a veteran Mets' lineup getting three hits in six innings against a pitcher who was 8-14 with a 5.15 ERA at Double A Reading last season for crying out loud (Robinson Tejeda)! The Mets were 0-3 against rookies this season with zero runs and 16 K's, so this wasn't totally unexpected, but come on! And how about spreading out all the runs given to Kris Benson around the Mets starting staff. Zambrano did his best Houdini tonight, getting out of jams all over the place including a no out bases jammed doozy in the first, and a bases loaded two out jam in the sixth...and he gets no help from his hitters! (Although he did get a sweet Cliff Floyd play on Lofton to end that sixth inning.)

Meanwhile, Dae Sung Koo made his return from the DL tonight and threw a swedish meatball to Kenny Lofton who put the game out of reach with a bases clearing double. Way to pick up for Heilman, dude. You saw what happened to "The Human White Flag" and "Hitaway" might be next on the docket if you're not careful.

By the way, with four runs against in two outings, how long before Boo-gueth Urbina is cat-called out of Philadelphia? I mean, this is a crowd that would boo their mother for putting too much salt on the meat loaf.

Side note: there was a commercial for Mets coverage on MSG Network during the Mets rewind tonight...and among the various clips of Wright that were featured was a play where he slid hard into second base at Shea Stadium to try to break up a double play. Why did I notice it? Because just like in Atlanta, Wright was nowhere near the bag, and probably should have gotten the runner called out.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Robby Alomar Comes Through

Roberto Alomar was a petulant whiny crybaby who may have been arguably the single biggest disappointment in Mets history. He cried when he was traded to New York, going on and on about how the Indians lied to him and the Indians traded him and the Indians this and the Indians that and Indians Indians Indians, blah blah blah. He whined and cried and tried to start a fight because Roger Cedeno made fun of his rookie card. (But come on look at this thing, wouldn't YOU make fun of it? He bitched and moaned that the Mets didn't give him a reason to come to the ballpark. (Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!) All this while showing none of the hall of fame credentials he arrived at Shea with, drag bunting every other at bat, and instead of providing gold glove defense, actually tried to field with one of his previous gold glove trophies.

But Alomar finally made the Mets a better team by contributing to tonight's 8-5 victory over the Phillies. He brought us Rolls Royce Ring.

Ring, who was traded for Alomar in July of 2003, was asked to relieve Kris Benson and hold the Phillies at bay in the seventh inning with the score at 6-5. He set down the side in order retiring Kenny Lofton, Bobby Abreu, and Jim Thome...not exactly chopped Steak-Umm. In a season where the bullpen has been conisdered the biggest weakness, you may not believe that Royce Ring has struck out Eric Chavez, Ichiro, and Thome in the last four days. He's earned the benefit of the doubt in big situations, which will prove to be a godsend since any option is less scary than Dae Sung Koo at this point.

So thank you Robby Alomar, for finally contributing something of substance to the overall health and success of the New York Mets. May you get into the hall of fame in 5 years...but only via paid admission.

Mike DeJean Released!

The Godfather has been whacked. Party's at my place.

Funny how Willie Randolph told us that there's no use having him on the team if he can't produce, and now he's gone.

And Kaz Matsui is on the DL? Wow, that's two fifths of the hate list! If I were Tom Glavine, I wouldn't get into any more cabs.

What's that you say? The moves mean that Dae Sung Koo and Gerald Williams make their return?

Party's over.

P.S. DeJean has just gone to the official scorer and blamed David Wright for getting released.

Cheesesteaks And Rib Sauce

Tuesday: Kris Benson (5-2, 3.67 ERA) vs. Brett Myers (5-3, 2.19 ERA):

Benson made his debut on May 5th against these same Phillies. He looked sharp until the 5th when he walked a man in to tie the game, and Aaron Heilman came in and shut the door in long relief to pick up the victory. Willie Randolph has obviously blocked this game out of his memory. Myers struck out 10 Mets in 7 innings on May 3rd at Shea in a 10-3 Phillies win over Tom Glavine.

Wednesday: Victor Zambrano (3-6, 4.06 ERA) vs. Vincente Padilla (3-6, 6.23 ERA):

This is the rematch of the 16-4 victory by the Mets on April 19th. Padilla also lost the Cinco de Mayo game against Benson.

Thursday: Kaz Ishii (1-6, 5.40 ERA) vs. Robinson Tejeda (1-0, 2.18 ERA):

Pat Burrell is 4 for 9 against Kaz Ishii lifetime. But now that Ishii is a Met, those numbers are due to go up. Burrell against the pitchers on the current Mets staff is hitting .244 with 11 HR's and 31 RBI's in 176 at bats. But against pitchers wearing the Met uniform all time, he's hitting .258 with an OPS of .972, 27 HR's and 74 RBI's in 322 career at bats.

Ode To A Hunk Of Concrete

Fun facts about old Veterans Stadium:

The Mets were a lifetime 121-152 there, while they are 6-6 all time at the new Citizens Bank Park.

Veterans Stadium was the scene of many memorable Mets losses, including: a 26-7 thrashing on June 11th, 1985, when Calvin Schiraldi and Joe Sambito each gave up ten runs. (Schiraldi and Sambito pitched for the Red Sox in 1986 and, well you know the rest.) Amazingly, Doug Sisk pitched 2 and 1/3 innings and gave up ZERO runs.

The Mets also lost three straight there in September of 1986 when the Mets were only one victory over Philadelphia away from clinching the division title.

The Mets also lost 6-5 on June 18th, 1989, and after the game the Mets and Phillies, no doubt after much alcohol imbibement by Mets management, made a trade which sent Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell to Philadelphia for Juan Samuel. The vision of Roger McDowell at the Vet after the game in his Mets gear explaining to his family that he was traded is a vision which haunts me to this day. Dykstra went on to lead the Phillies to the 1993 N.L. Pennant while (allegedly) on steroids, while Juan Samuel led the Mets to 86 games of worthlessness (allegedly).

Also, on July 25th, 1990, the Mets won a memorable game against the Phillies, where they had a 9-0 lead after six innings, and a 10-3 lead entering the bottom of the ninth. Phillie and future Met Tommy Herr led off the inning with a single, and ended the inning with the score 10-9 by lining out to shortstop Mario Diaz with the bases loaded to end the game. Mets legend Bob Murphy completely lost it in the broadcast booth proclaiming "The Mets win! They win the damn thing 10-9!"

On October 6th 1991, David Cone struck out 19 Phillies while battling accusations of sexual misconduct. The Mets won 7-0, but Cone was traded the following season, no doubt after much alcohol imbibement by Mets management.

Also, on May 29th, 1994, the Phillies defeated the Houston Astros 4-2 at the Vet. It's only significant because it was the closest I had ever come to seeing a no-hitter in person. David West pitched six innings of no-hit baseball, and Heathcliff Slocumb pitched 2 more no-hit innings before entering the ninth inning. The Astros broke up the no hitter and scored 2 in the ninth, but Doug Jones got the save for the Phillies win. It was also the day that it was so hot, a woman fainted and hit her head on the concrete. Metstradamus and friends thought we had witnessed a death in the 700 level in center field, but luckily she was fine. However, there was no no-hitter.

And on Sunday, March 21st, 2004, Veterans Stadium, courtroom, rats and all, was gone. If the stadium had a soul, then it's burning in hell right about now.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Mike DeJean: The New Mike Stanton

On this father's day, you can forget "Who's Your Daddy?"

I want to know who Mike DeJean's Godfather is.

You see it all the time in everyday life, where it's not always the most qualified candidate that fills the job opening, but rather it's the candidate who has the right person looking out for them. In my line of work, it's called "having a Godfather".

So who exactly is Mike DeJean's Godfather, that Willie Randolph deems Aaron Heilman important enough to hold the Mariners to a 5 run lead for 2 and 1/3 innings, but doesn't deem him important enough to pitch with the Mets only down by one...instead, turning to the man who opposing batters have a .327 average against after closing the gap to within one? The Mets get a huge lift from a four run sixth, only to bring "Hitaway" to the mound to give it back.

Aaron Heilman has been to the mound 11 times since his last start, which is when he gave up his last run. Let's create a pattern and run through them:

May 20th vs. Yankees: Cleans up the ninth inning after Roberto Hernandez couldn't hold the Yanks to a one-run deficit.

May 22nd vs. Yankees: Cleans up the ninth inning after Mike "Hitaway" DeJean implodes.

May 25th vs. Braves: Comes in to start the seventh down 0-3 and gives up one hit in 1 and 2/3 innings.

May 29th vs. Marlins: Pitches the eighth after Bell, Koo, and "Hitaway" turn a 2-1 lead into a 6-2 deficit. Heilman enters the game with the score 6-3.

June 2nd vs. Diamondbacks: Pitches the ninth with the Mets up by five.

June 4th vs. Giants: Pitches the ninth with the Mets up by four.

June 5th vs. Giants: Pitches the eighth with the Mets up by nine.

June 9th vs. Astros: Mops up for Heath Bell in the 11th after the Mets go down by three.

June 11th vs. Angels: Pitches the eighth and ninth with the Mets down by one...finally! A somewhat important spot.

June 17th vs. Mariners: Mops up for Kaz Ishii after the Mets are down by five.

Today vs. Mariners: Pitches 2 and 1/3 innings with the Mets down by five, only to have "Hitaway" let all the air out of the balloon after the Mets cut the gap.

Get the point?

That sound you've been hearing is Metstradamus beating a dead horse. I would have asked Carlos Beltran to do it, but he would just swing, miss, and rupture his quad.

P.S. "Hitaway" DeJean has just contacted The Weather Channel to blame the recent muggy weather on David Wright.

Quickie On Cammy

From Ken Rosenthal at the Sporting News:

The Mets are reluctant to trade outfielder Mike Cameron, their most
coveted trade chip, while they still are in contention. Cameron's value to the
team will increase once he recovers from a sore right quadriceps and moves into
the leadoff spot. The Mets view his $6 million salary this season and $6 million
salary next season as reasonable. . . .

Victor Diaz right now is a fourth outfielder. So it wouldn't make sense to trade Cameron if you don't get another starting outfielder in return. And to me, Cameron is a different hitter than he has been. Some have suggested to me that Cameron's hot streak is a fluke, but he's taking the ball to right field more regularly, and right now, he's too valuable to the Mets...Omar Minaya would have to be overwhelmed to make a Cameron deal at this poing

A Gem Among Mulch

A poem inspired by David Wright's spectacular play against Raul Ibanez (which I will focus on tonight rather than the fact that Pedro Martinez lost to the Mariners for the first time ever tonight by a score of 4-1, the fact that Randy Winn continued his mastery of Pedro, and the fact that the Mets still can't hit.) This is for all Met fans who had to hear about the Derek Jeter catch non-stop from July first until the Red Sox won the ALCS, and even beyond that. This is also dedicated to the talented Frank DeFord, who wrote a vomit inducing Derek Jeter poem in Sports Illustrated after that July first catch. DeFord and his Yankee loving carcass can kiss it!

It must be hard to drive a bus,
with busted wheels and such...
To be the only cog in Queens,
can be a bit too much.

But David Wright's a special breed,
he showed it in Seattle...
Diving, risking life and limb,
and staying in the battle.

His play was much deserving,
of a poem by Frank DeFord...
But David Wright is not a Yank,
so he won't be adored.

It's not exclusive to have been,
at third base for the Mets...
But Wright may be the Rolls Royce,
among Pintos and Corvettes.

There's Charles and Ventura,
Alfonzo and Todd Zeile...
But also Aspromonte,
Phil Linz and Bobby Pfeil.

There's Shipley, Hojo, Hartdke,
Doug Flynn and Richie Hebner...
With Almon, Backman, Chapman,
and Manny Alexander.

But now we have a player,
who might just top them all...
He's so good we forget sometimes,
the Mets can't hit the ball.

We've got a stud for years to come,

patrolling that third sack...
Let's hope that he's not traded for
a sandwich and a snack.

So while there may be struggles,
fear not because in sight...
are better Flushing days ahead,
all thanks to David Wright.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Many Thanks

Kudos all around for a lackluster 5-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners tonight:

Thank you, Dan Iassogna.

Thank you for ejecting our third string second baseman, who just pinch hit for our fourth string second baseman, who was playing in place of our injured first string second baseman, and our injured second string second baseman, while our first string second baseman in Norfolk is also injured.

Thanks for ejecting him for mildly disagreeing with your called third strike, which was three feet inside.

Thanks for calling it by the book...because umpires who have been in the major leagues for a year and a half really need to teach eight year vets a lesson about not arguing balls and strikes.

Thanks Dan, you're a peach.

And while I'm at it, thank you, 3, 4, and 5 hitters tonight. Messers Beltran, Floyd, and Piazza, thank you for making the lineup look like a Tim Horton's doughnut on a consistent basis.

Thank you, Willie Randolph. Thank you for dusting off Aaron Heilman for another important situation.

Thank you, Kaz Ishii. Thank you for not giving a player who had 262 hits last year a pitch to hit. And thanks for giving up two hits to a catcher that's older than Benito Santiago.


I was scared when Ichiro strode to the plate against Kaz Ishii in the third inning with two runners on and first base open. Was it because Ichiro was hitting .374 against lefties since 2002 as opposed to .320 against righties?

Yes, but I wasn't aware of those stats at the time.

I was aware, however, that in MVP Baseball 2005, Ichiro actually has some cold zones when a righty is on the hill. Against lefties though, his hitting zone is full of freakin' red. He slammed an opposite field HR off of Arthur Rhodes just hours ago.

This is how I get my scouting games. I'm pathetic.

But unfortunately, I was also right.

So Willie Randolph, now you know. Ichiro hits lefties well in EA Sports' MVP baseball 2005. Could you walk him next time please?

And if you don't believe me Willie, use this rule...Any player who is even mentioned in the same PARAGRAPH as "Hall of Fame", walk him with first base open. Please.

A Vote For America

Anybody catch the "Vote for David Wright" campaign commercial run by the Mets during the Mariner game tonight? For those who didn't, it was footage of David Wright made to look like those Movie-Tone commericals from the 40's...and the voice over reads something along the lines of "David Wright, the nicest ballplayer in the majors...a vote for David Wright is a vote for America."

Nice to see the Mets hyping one of their own for the all-star team. I never thought I would see one Met player be singled out in a P.R. campaign for all-star voting. I think it borders a little too much on small market, but it's a class move by Jay Horowitz.

In the long run, I don't think it will matter...Wright won't be voted in, but may very well be chosen to play, especially with Larry Jones injured. Troy Glaus (.270/16 HR/43 RBI) Aramis Ramirez (.294/14/38), and Morgan Ensberg (.271/15/38) figure to be the main competition for Wright (.290/10/35), who tops all previously mention in OBP (.376).

Editor's note: Cliff Floyd's "vote for me" commercial debuted during Saturday's game against the Mariners. So apparently, they all get one. Well, except maybe Ramon Castro.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs

Like Frasier, Ken Griffey Jr. has left the building. But that isn't stopping the Seattle Mariners from holding "Ken Griffey Jr. Statue Night" on June 21st. It's the last of three giveaways commemorating the 10 year anniversary of winning their memorable playoff series against the Yankees and of playing in the ALCS against the Indians. The first two statues featured Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner. Does it strike you as weird that they would give away a Ken Griffey statue, not only because he's still playing, but because of how he begged his way out of town after the 1999 season?

In a related story, this season the Mets will celebrate the 10th anniversary of almost winning 70 games with a series of giveaways. Among the items: "Jeff Kent Action Figure Refusing To Wear a Clown Outfit Night"; "Ryan Thompson Whiffing Bronze Statuette Night"; autographed photos of Butch Huskey and his weight loss counselors from Duke University to the first 25,000 fans night, "Bobble-elbow Bill Pulsipher Doll Night", "Bret Saberhagen Model Super Soaker Night" (pre-filled with bleach for adults only), and they'll also be giving away a talking Carl Everett doll. Pull the string and you can hear various expletives aimed at umpires, denials of abuse of his children, along with various thoughts on homosexuality, baseball fans, Wrigley Field, and steroids. I can't wait for that one.

Friday: Kaz Ishii (1-5, 5.48 ERA) vs. Jamie Moyer (5-2, 4.90 ERA)

Odd stat of the day: from 2002-2005, lefthander Jamie Moyer has been more successful vs. righties than lefties. Righties are batting .234 off him, but lefties are hitting .281 against Moyer. Also, Jamie's opponents have gotten off to fast starts against him. Again, using from 2002 on, batters are hitting .271 against him in the first inning.

Saturday: Pedro Martinez (7-1, 2.56 ERA) vs. Ryan Franklin (2-8, 4.81 ERA)

Ichiro, he of the 1,000+ hits, is only hitting .250 against Martinez (5 for 20), but Randy Winn his hitting .304 (7 for 23) lifetime against Pedro.

Sunday: Tom Glavine (4-6, 4.55 ERA) vs. Gil Meche (6-4, 4.38 ERA)

Adrian Beltre is 6 for 32 (.188) vs. Glavine lifetime, but has 6 hits in 8 at bats against closer Braden Looper. Of course, Beltre is battling hamstring problems and might miss the Mets series entirely. Bret Boone is hitting .205 (9 for 44) with a HR vs. Glavine.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay

Back at .500 for the Mets. Back at the dock.

Typical of teams that have trouble scoring runs, they score them all in one inning today...a seven run fifth which led the Mets to a 9-6 victory over the Oakland Athletics, putting them where they started the season, even (33-33).

Carlos Beltran got the big hit, a three run HR which put the Mets up 5-3, and let some air out of the Mets lungs. Beltran's numbers may not be there, but twice now he's picked the Mets up out of disastrous circumstances. The first pick up was game 6 of the season against Atlanta, where his HR gave the Mets their first win of the season and prevented a disaster to start the season. This one may have been just as important.

The game started amidst a few interesting line up changes. David Wright batted second behind Jose Reyes, and was one for five with an RBI in the fifth which just preceded Beltran's bomb. The game also saw the debut of Brian Daubach, who was drafted by the Mets in 1990, and is just now playing his first game for them. Daubach commented that the Mets were looking for hits with RISP and that's what he can bring. Well Daubach in the last three seasons is hitting .432 in 37 AB's with less than two outs and a man on third with 26 RBI's. Today, Daubach only had one at bat as he walked three times. (Could this spell the end of regular playing time for Doug Mientkiewicz?)

Ramon Castro went two for four with three RBI's, and DH Mike Piazza ended a 99 at bat homerless drought with a 7th inning solo shot. It wasn't exactly the 225 at bats that Gary Carter waited until hitting home run number 300, but disturbing nonetheless. Perhaps they will come in bunches now?

The Mets also might have lost another second baseman. Kaz Matsui was clipped on a suspicious slide by Jason Kendall on the game ending double play. Kendall kicked his leg up while sliding into second and his spike caught Matsui on the left knee, which took a foul ball earlier in the game. (There goes that rumored trade of Matsui to the equator for a bag of kiwis.) This may force the promotion of Jeff Keppinger, who's tearing it up for the Norfolk Tides with a .337 average with 29 RBI's in 255 at bats.

New Met, Old Bone: The Mets signed 40 year old catcher Benito Santiago to a minor league contract. What, Ted Simmons and Terry Kennedy weren't available?


Any other former Mets want to step up to the dunk tank and sink the Mets even further in the N.L. East?

Marco Scutaro drove the first pitch he saw from Roberto Hernandez off the left field wall and the Athletics defeated the Mets 3-2 with a walk off hit in the ninth.

Royce Ring took the loss, and it's a shame. Ring struck out Eric Chavez in the 8th inning with runners at the corners to preserve a 2-2 tie, and help out Victor Zambrano. (Zambrano pitched well again, going 7 and 2/3 innings while giving up only 5 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs.) Ring started the ninth against Bobby Kielty, and threw a 3-2 curveball that was just outside, and Kielty would eventually score the winning run on Scutaro's hit. MSG Network's Ted Robinson suggested that Willie Randolph would lecture Ring on pitch selection in that case, but it was a gutsy pitch to make, and it just missed. Ring should not be at fault in this case, and if he made that pitch 100 more times I'd be happy with it 100 more times.

Fault the baseball gods for putting Scutaro in a position to kill the Mets. As suggested by none other than Fran Healy, let's juxtapose Scutaro's two seasons with Oakland against Kaz Matsui's Mets career which spans the same time frame (not including tonight's debacle):

Scutaro: 636 AB's, 168 hits, 43 doubles, 10 HR's, 60 RBI's, 79 K's, .264 avg., 3 errors in 572 total chances at second base, 2 errors in 115 total chances at shortstop, $323,500 on the payroll
Matsu-E: 636 AB's, 166 hits, 36 doubles, 10 HR's, 65 RBI's, 129 K's, .261 avg., 7 errors in 204 total chances at second base, 23 errors in 520 total chances at shortstop, $7,058,333 on the payroll

(All toghether now: "Booooooooooooooooooooo!")

Fault the Mets lineup for getting 5 hits all game against Danny Haren and friends. You know the season is not going to go your way when you can't take advantage of Victor Zambrano's strong starts. Can you really depend on Z to do this all season? Sure, you want to believe he's fixed, but I believed in the easter bunny at one point too, and I'm still paying off the loan for all of that therapy I received.

You also know the season isn't going your way when you can't take advantage of an A's lineup that supposedly can't hit. If you haven't noticed, this isn't Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando and Joe Rudi out there, or Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, and Rickey Henderson, nor is it Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, and Johnny Damon.

Meanwhile; Carlos Beltran is taking oh-fer's and swinging at balls thrown in the bullpen, Marlon Anderson has the highest average in your starting lineup, and Kaz Matsui is still employed! Not pretty.

All of this while Ryan Drese is hurling shutout innings (didn't take him 10 minutes to get fixed, eh?), Jose Guillen is assassinating former employers left and right, and Chad Cordero is doing Reggie Miller dances on the mound as the Washington National Expos of the District of Columbia are running and hiding. The same Washington Nationals who had no home for two seasons are now picking up players off waivers and turning them into Cy Young. Nice.

But don't worry. The Mets will hang around just enough to convince themselves that they're just one player away. One player that is probably 35 years old with a history of arm, knee, or brain player that the Mets will trade the next Jason Bay, Brady Clark, or yes, the next Marco Scutaro for.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Too Little, Too Late!

Mets musings from my time away, otherwise known as: A Day Late And a Few Bucks Short:

Danny Graves officially a Met, Manny Aybar gone: I promised, no shots at Danny Graves. He's a cheap option, has upside if Rick Peterson can tweak his arm angle (that seems to be the standard procedure for pitchers from the scrap heap), and best case scenario, gives the Mets only 2 mop up pitchers instead of three. Unfortunately, Aaron Heilman has become one of those mop-up men, and could unfortunately be buried further in that role if Graves becomes useful.

Mets announce plans for new stadium: It's partly to help save the Olympics, but Freddy Coupon claims he would build it regardless of NYC2012. After the original 1998 announcement of the new Ebbets Field though, I'm skeptical. And Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who cheerled the original Jets stadium deal, says that this plan is a "tougher sell" than the Jets stadium. Lovely, more teasing. If I want to be teased, I'll go back on the dating circuit.

This does mean that the Mets may very well play home games in Yankee Stadium during either the building process, or during the Olympics themselves, which would induce some reverse peristalsis on my part. But I will ask this: Why would the Yankees follow the Mets announcement by mere days with an announcement of their own plans to build a stadium, after they already made these plans known weeks ago? For all the success the Yanks have enjoyed, you would think that they wouldn't need to stoop to the tactic of headline stealing. But that's the soul-less George Steinbrenner for you. I wonder if they got permission from Derek Jeter to make this announcement, since every other player seems to look for approval from their captain to perform their patented golf clap in the dugout.

Marlon Anderson hits an inside the park HR off of K-Rod to spark victory: My only thought watching SportsCenter and catching this highlight was that this was the Dave Augustine play circa 2005. This was going to be the play that pundits point to as a momentum turner. So what happens? They lose the next two, of course.

Mike Piazza goes medieval on Eric Cooper: Yes Mr. Cooper, please continue your attempt to wake the sleeping giant known as Mike Piazza. You would love to see Piazza carry this spirit to his at-bats, but apparently both teams were complaining about Cooper's shoddy umpiring and his scene-stealing. In any event, if this gets Piazza going, wonderful. I'm not expecting miracles.

David Wright error costs Mets the rubber game against L.A.A.O.A: Will David Wright turn out to be Wade Boggs, who took grounders for hours at a time to improve his horrid defense and win him a gold glove? Or will he be Terry Pendleton, who will win a batting title while committing about 35 errors? I believe Pendleton actually did win a gold glove while making an unbelievable amount of errors.

Mets drop opener to Athletics: All of these World Series rematches from 20, 30, 40 seasons ago should be uniform throwback nights. Wouldn't you have liked to have seen those green jerseys with the white shoes and bring back memories of 1973?

Wait, we lost that series. Never mind.

Exactly What Is A Zephyr? (Alternate Title: What I Did On My Summer Vacation)

Back to the old grind.

It can now be told that Metstradamus spent the past week in the fine city of New Orleans. Not to go on you, but I highly recommend the place. It's just plain cool (think Las Vegas without the silicone). Stay in the French Quarter, have a beignet (or six) and some jumbalaya, and have a hurricane at Pat O' Brien's (Be careful fellow lightweights, one drink comes in a big freakin paper cup.) You will not be sorry.

There was some baseball on my trip; a June 12th AAA tilt between the New Orleans Zephyrs (Washington Nationals) and the Oklahoma Redhawks (Texas Rangers). A mere $9.50 bought me a seat two rows behind the plate...and this ticket was bought during the national anthem! I got every penny's worth as the Redhawks pulled off a 7-6 ten inning victory over New Orleans in front of what couldn't have been more than 400 spectators, most of whom spent the game heckling the home plate umpire (who really was terrible...had a low, erratic strike zone that probably cost New Orleans the game). And where else but in the minors can you visit the front office and have them call a taxi service to get you back to the hotel? (Good luck getting Jay Horowitz to hail you a cab!)

There were Mets connections present. Tim Foli (a former Met from way way back), manages the Zephyrs. The starting shortstop for Oklahoma? Manny Alexander (remember him?) And believe it or not, making an appearance in a between innings football toss was Miracle Met Ron Swoboda.

For you Nats and Rangers fans, here's who made an impression, for better or worse:

Brandon Watson/Zephyrs CF: A Juan Pierre type who tried to make things happen from the leadoff position with his speed, bunting, and hitting. Hard nosed as well. He can play.

Donnie Bridges/Zephyrs SP: Only lasted 4 innings, and walked the park at times, but part of it was due to erratic umpiring. Love the movement on his two seam fastball. Problem is he would go 0-2 on hitters then stopped being aggressive and would walk the same hitters.

Juan Melo/Zephyrs 1B: It's hard to judge PCL power hitters, since you have some downright humid weather in New Orleans, but Melo did go deep twice, then immediately followed with a sharp single to drive home the tying run in the 8th.

Jose Veras/Redhawks RP: Pitched a gutsy 2 and 2/3 innings for the win. High velocity on his heat.

Josh Rupe/Redhawks SP: Lasted 6 and 2/3 innings in some high humidity, so he deserves points just for that. Located his pitches well and confined his mistakes to when the bases were empty.

Jason Botts/Redhawks DH: Same principle as Melo. But did have a home run to dead center, and the kid is a tree!

Josh Labandiera/Zephyrs SS: The opposite end of the spectrum as Botts, Labandiera stands 4 foot nothing, and his third inning error with two outs probably cost them the game. It doesn't say much for shortstop prospects for the Nats; I hope for their sake they have one lower in the system.

P.S. A Zephyr is some sort of beaver/sea otter type creater.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

An Open Letter To Danny Graves

Dear Mr. Graves,

I apologize for repeatedly pointing out your horrendous statistics. I hope this doesn't preclude you from dotting the i's and crossing the t's on your new Mets contract.

By the time I get back from my vacation on June 15th, I hope that you will be on the mound wearing number 32 for the Mets, and I look forward to certain other Mets pitchers wearing number $3.50 on a big button while selling bottled September...during a rain delay.

And if you sign, I will allow you to flip me the bird at any time during your Mets tenure with no repercussions, no questions asked.

See you on the 15th!


Angels Cure Cancer

Well, maybe not cured it. But their three HR's helped the cause by raising $60,000 for prostate cancer research at the Mets pitching staff's expense in a 12-2 shellacking by the Anaheim Angels (yeah, I called them the Anaheim Angels. Let Arte Moreno sue me.)

Kaz Ishii cruised through his first five innings and the Mets had a 1-0 lead going into the bottom of the fifth, then the fun started. Kaz Ishii attempted to pull off a successful sacrifice with runners on first and second but instead got the lead runner forced, and then he had to run the bases. After advancing to second base, Miguel Cairo scalded a liner down the left field line off Bartolo Colon which was caught by Garrett Anderson. At that point, Ramon Castro was at third tagging up to score. Kaz Ishii, meanwhile, was almost at third base as he obviously failed Dae Sung Koo baserunning school. As Castro chugged home, Ishii was running full tilt scrambling back to second. Luckily, Anderson's throw was wide and Ishii was not doubled off allowing Castro to score.

But that was the turning point of the whole game, because with all the running around Ishii did (for no good reason I may add since if he could have laid down a bunt in the first place he wouldn't have been in the position to lose his wind and look stupid on the Cairo sac fly) he was undoubtedly going to tire out in the bottom of the sixth. And sure enough, with ball one well high and well outside to Chone Figgins I thought "uh oh." Two batters later the game was tied, and it might as well have been over as after Ishii gave up three more runs on a Steve Finley dinger, the Mets turned it to the back end of the bullpen.

Speaking of the bullpen, I know I've gone on about the horrible numbers of Danny Graves. But I'll tell you what, I've never looked so forward to the arrival of a pitcher with an ERA of a billion, a WHIP of 300, and the temprament of Ed Belfour on a bender as I do right now. Because anybody is better than the Abbott and Costello duo of Mike DeJean and Manny Aybar.

It's bad enough that Willie Randolph didn't have anybody ready in the pen after Ishii played Richie Ashburn on the bases, but it was the perfect opportunity to give Aaron Heilman some meaningful work. Even if you insist on leaving in Ishii after the Erstad homer, and let him give up three more runs, Heilman on the mound down 5-2 isn't the worst situation in the world Buuuut nooooooooooooooooooooooo! Instead we get DeJean, who immediately gives up a double to Orlando Cabrera and an RBI single to a pitcher who bats maybe three times a season. (My sources tell me that after the game, DeJean wrote to his local congressman to blame the city deficit on David Wright.) And then after Royce Ring gives us a good outing, we get Aybar: The Human White Flag (trivia: what former Mets pitcher originally held the nickname "The Human White Flag"?). Then to pour salt in the wound, Randolph warmed up Heilman with the Mets down ten, the only situation that Randolph sees fit to use him these days. If Aaron Heilman was buried any further he'd be sharing construction tips with Jimmy Hoffa, but DeJean and Aybar still get work. Does this make sense to anybody else?

Friday, June 10, 2005


It's bad enough that the Mets have to look across the dugout for three days and be reminded of game 4 from the 1988 NLCS, when Mike Scioscia blasted a tying home run against Doc Gooden to basically win the series for the Dodgers. But when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Orange County California USA Planet Earth come to Shea for a three game set, they'll also remind the Mets of what they could have had if the Wilpons weren't so cheap during the winter of 2003. Vlad Guerrero makes his return from the disabled list tonight, and was reportedly killing the ball in batting practice yesterday in preparation for his return.

Great, just in time.

Friday: Bartolo Colon (7-3, 3.10 ERA) vs. Kaz Ishii (1-4, 5.14 ERA)

Darin Erstad is a notorious singles hitter off of Ishii, hitting .583 (7 for 12) lifetime off him. Erstad is hitting .284 off lefties this season. Meanwhile off of Colon, Carlos Beltran represents the good, hitting a lifetime .343 (12 for 35) with 4 HR's lifetime. Doug Mientkiewicz is also hitting well lifetime off Colon with a lifetime .333 (11 for 33). Mike Cameron represents the bad, AND the ugly, with only 2 hits off Colon in 23 AB's for a healthy .087 lifetime average.

Saturday: Jarrod Washburn (3-3, 3.86 ERA) vs. Kris Benson (4-2, 3.74 ERA)

More of the same against Washburn...Beltran: 7 for 21 with 2HR's lifetime against Washburn. Mientkiewicz: .400 lifetime against Washburn (6 for 15). Cameron: 7 for 31 (.226). Steve Finley is a lifetime 3 for 16 against Benson.

Sunday: John Lackey (5-2, 3.93 ERA) vs. Pedro Martinez (7-1, 2.45 ERA)

Gee, what a surprise. Doug Mientkiewicz is a lifetime 5 for 14 (.357) off Lackey, while Mike Cameron, yet again, is anemic against an Angels pitcher (2 for 14, .143, one HR). Darin Erstad is easily the most successful hitter vs. Pedro, a lifetime .278 (10 for 36) off him. Vlad is hitting .273 lifetime against Martinez, but only 3 for 11. He does have a HR off him.

First In War, First In Peace...

This is what I was afraid of.

So the Nationals are, in fact, allowed to make moves as they traded Tomo Ohka to the Brewers for second baseman Junior Spivey today. Besides showing Ohka and the rest of the Nats who's boss (Ohka showed up Frank Robinson during a pitching change earlier this week), this gives them a better option at second base than Carlos Baerga (who I heard Pete Weber mistakenly picked up with three fingers to try to convert a 7-10 split) until Jose Vidro comes back from injury. Don't be surprised if Spivey replaces the sub-Mendoza line hitting Cristian Guzman at shortstop just to keep Spivey in the lineup.

And Ryan Drese, who the Nationals picked up on waivers to replace Ohka, isn't exactly chicken scratch. He's a sinkerballer who will benefit from a bigger ballpark where his mistakes won't be home runs. They might be three base errors because that outfield is shaky with the leather, but they won't be home runs. Drese has benefitted from the tutelage of Rangers pitching coach Orel Hershiser.

This trade comes a day after the Phillies traded for their latest boo bird Ugueth Urbina, so the N.L. East stakes are officially raised for the Mets. Remember though, this isn't about's about the right move at the right time. Lefty for the bullpen would be just fine, no need to go nuts.

Your move, Omar.

Go Figure

Lucky us, right?

The Mets get the break in the division, getting three extra games against a team that has as much trouble on the road as a Howard Dean primary, yet wind up losing two of three to the Astros after tonight's 6-3 11 inning loss. The Mets miss the big bad Texas Rangers, but they lose 2 of 3 to the Phillies.

Lucky us.

This isn't the time to start throwing away games they should win, especially as the Washington Nationals have been hypnotized into thinking they're the Big Red Machine (or insert your own baseball dynasty here). Anybody who thinks that a team that has an anchor like Livan Hernandez is going away is sadly mistaken. And if the good-sense challenged Nats owners (Major League Baseball) allow the team to make in-season acquisitions, they could run away.

These next six games against the Angels and Athletics are key. The Angels may or may not have Vlad Guerrero (who should be on our disabled list and not that of L.A., thanks again Wilpon family!) continuing a remarkable streak of Mets opponents missing their stars (Bagwell, Bonds, Larry Jones, etc.), and the Athletics can't hit (and they're missing Rich Harden themselves). This is a yet another set of games that the Mets need to take advantage of, and get themselves away from that friggin dock.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Pedro Effect

Interesting article in today's Post by NHL scribe Larry Brooks regarding "the Pedro effect". The Mets are 4-3 in games immediately following a Pedro Martinez pitched win, and 0-5 in games immediately following a Pedro pitched loss.

Last night was the first time that Victor Zambrano started after a Pedro game, due to the flip flop of the two before the series. Tom Glavine has had most of the starts after Martinez, and Kaz Ishii has had the others. Oddly enough, it may be Kris Benson who would be the best option right now to follow Martinez. But if Randolph sets up his rotation like he prefers to set up his lineup (righty, lefty, righty, lefty) then this is unlikely to happen.


Of the limited video I witnessed of the Mets 4-1 loss to the Astros, here's what I've noticed:

Carlos Beltran is noticeably hurt. And if he's not as hurt as we think he is, then he's extremely cautious.
  • A healthy Beltran scores during the first inning on Ramon Castro's double.
  • A healthy Beltran makes Lance Berkman, at the very least, hustle to first on Beltran's liner to first that Berkman juggled...possibly forces a throw to Brandon Backe.
  • A healthy Beltran doesn't lunge after Jason Lane's double in the gap on the last step, instead he runs through it and picks it up without effort.

Carlos Beltran is not one hundred percent. That much is obvious to me.

Of the rest of the game, pretty simple. They couldn't get a timely hit with runners in scoring position (eight total for the game). Jason Lane did make a great catch on the Marlon Anderson liner, but other than that, it was just a heaping spoonful of Brandon Backe and his traveling can of Houdini tricks (6 walks in 6 innings, but just one run).

And as for Mike Piazza, if he is out for an extended period of time after the foul tip off his wrist, it will only mean that David Wright starts batting fifth. Can you say "blessing in disguise"?

I knew you could.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Stocking Up?

The Phillies have acquired relief pitcher Ugueth Urbina and shortstop Ramon Martinez from the Detroit Tigers for infielder Placido Polanco.

Since everyone in the N.L. East still has a chance to win the division, all five teams will be active from now until the trading deadline.

Stay tuned.

Added Intrigue

Cliff Floyd took exception to the beaning he took from Roy Oswalt during the waning stages of the Mets 3-1 win over the Houston Astros. Apparently there's a little history, as Oswalt beaned Floyd last August after giving up a HR. So here's what I want to know:
  • Will Victor Zambrano plunk an Astro tonight?
  • Is Roy Oswalt's beanings of Met batters in the middle of the order a result of Roger Clemens' "veteran influence"?
  • Does Queens have a bar the equivaltent of Cooter's, where Rick Aguilera, Bob Ojeda, Tim Teufel and Ron Darling were arrested in July of 1986? I mean, let's get some Astros arrested, what do you say?

P.S. Doug Mientkiewicz had x-rays on his chest which came back negative. He's day to day with a strained pectoral muscle.


You knew it would be this good, right?

I certainly didn't.

As Pedro Martinez was putting the finishing touches on his latest masterpiece, a 3-1 complete game 2 hitter, I chuckled at the thought that in this blog I once compared Pedro Martinez to George Foster. But now, he's being compared to Doc Gooden, and rightly so. Not the Gooden who wasted his potential on drugs and other vices, but the one that was New York Met baseball in 1984 and 1985. Just from watching the ninth inning in the comfort of my home you can tell that there's a different feel in the air than most nights...certainly different than the morgue that Shea had become from 2002-2004. Not only is attendance up when Pedro pitches, I've noticed that the hits on this blog have gone on the upturn. I certainly don't attribute it to my acerbic wit and the way I make the words dance off the page (I wish). That's the Pedro effect.

Pedro Martinez is the rare Met who has equaled or bettered his success from his days in another uniform. You've had George Foster go from .295/22/90 in 1981 to .247/13/70 in 1982, with 43 more games! You've had Bobby Bonilla go from .302/18/100 in 1991 to .249/19/70 in 1992. Tom Glavine in 2002: 18-11, 2.96 ERA. Tom Glavine in 2003: 9-14, 4.52 ERA. Vince Coleman in 1990: .292 and 77 stolen bases. Vince Coleman in 1991-1993: ligaments turn to wet noodles. On and on seemingly. And with Pedro there were huge warning signs about his arm seemingly one pitch away from falling off.

Well it still could be one pitch away from falling off. But right now, it is not his arm we have to worry about, and not even his hip, which was inflamed earlier this season. It's his back.

From carrying the rest of the team.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Interleague Break

The next time you want to complain about having to play the Yankees 6 times while the Marlins play Tampa Bay for six, consider this: The A.L. West plays the N.L. East this season, yet somehow the Mets avoid the first place Texas Rangers, instead getting three extra home games against the Houston Astros, who are a healthy 5-22 on the road this season. The rest of the N.L. East are on Texas' docket over the next two weeks.

Tuesday: Roy Oswalt (6-6, 3.06 ERA) vs. Pedro Martinez (6-1, 2.62 ERA)

This has the potential of being one of the classic pitching duels of the season, along the lines of the Pedro/Smoltz matchup from April. Curiously, Willie Randolph flip-flopped Martinez and Victor Zambrano in the rotation, giving away an opportunity to give Martinez an extra day's rest. It should mean that Pedro's feeling good, and it also helps to neutralize the Oswalt effect.

Who's your daddy, Pedro? In this case it's yet another middle infielder. Craig Biggio is batting a career .364 with an OPS of 1.081 lifetime against Martinez.

Wednesday: Brandon Backe (5-3, 4.54 ERA) vs. Victor Zambrano (3-5, 4.24 ERA)

Another matchup where the lineups are generally unfamiliar with these pitchers. Zambrano, who pitch on an extra couple of day's rest, has been very good lately...and he's coming off his best start of the season, an 8+ inning masterpiece against Arizona on June first. Backe's last appearance was on June 4th, a relief stint of 2 innings as Wandy (Wandy?) Rodriguez got torched.

Thursday: Andy Pettite (3-6, 3.47 ERA) vs. Tom Glavine (4-5, 4.63 ERA)

Another interesting matchup. Pettitte's home/road splits are strange. His opponents batting average at home is .233, and .293 on the road. But his ERA is .60 runs lower on the road. For Glavine, it's another chance to put the last 2 years and one month behind him as he's looking for his 6th good start in a row. Hopefully, there will be no hint of precipitation in the air, the infield is perfectly manicured, theh temperature will not be too hot or too cold, Questec malfunctions, and the stars will be aligned for Tom Glavine.

With The Ninth Pick...

The Mets have selected Mike Pelfrey from Wichita State, a 6'6" righty pitcher who has reached 97 MPH on the gun.

St. John's closer Craig Hansen dropped all the way to 26th, where he was drafted by the Red Sox.

Interesting that the Mets passed up a reliver who many said was major league ready right now for Pelfrey.

I Can Fix That Pitcher In...15 Minutes!

So the Mets have "won" the Danny Graves sweepstakes, as they have signed the fledgling reliever after the former closer was released by the Cincinnati Reds.

More proof that Rick Peterson loves challenges. The good thing that can come out of this is that it could spell the end of Mike DeJean's Met tenure. The bad thing that can come out of this is that it could force another roster move, which would mean the end of Aaron Heilman's Met tenure. Either way, another move is coming...soon.

Monday, June 06, 2005

I've Got Good News!

And it has nothing to do with saving money on car insurance.

Feeling as if he has "a golf ball in his shoe", Braves third baseman Larry Jones was placed on the 15 day DL on Monday. Jones, who once said that Met fans are going home to put on their Yankee jerseys, hurt his foot coming out of the batters box after an eighth inning swing on Sunday against the Pirates. Jones had been playing with pain in the foot since April 24th, and the Braves aren't sure how long he'll be out.

Could this finally be the year the Braves relinquish the throne? Mike Hampton, John Thomson, and Larry Jones are all hurt...the bullpen is a mess, and the Braves are finally back in the pack. It's not July 4th yet so the Braves should always get the benefit of the doubt, but the signs aren't good. They'll need to continue to get great pitching from rookie Kyle Davies, and don't be surprised if they pull another starter out of their hat to either team with Tim Hudson and John Smoltz, or send Smoltz back to the closer role. The performance of Chris Reitsma will chart the Braves course for the rest of 2005. It very well might be safe for the rest of the N.L. East to start being optimistic about overtaking the Braves...of course the Mets would actually have to beat them first for them to be the team to do it.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Look Who's Not In Last!

Yeah, it's that kind of division. A sweep of the Giants puts the Mets in first. A sweep of the Mets puts them in last. A 12-1 victory in their doubleheader nightcap gives them a split, and puts them in third place, splitting the best division in baseball.

Unlike Lloyd McClendon, I can't say enough good things about Kris Benson. 7 innings, 98 pitches, and everyone made contact (no K's, no BB's). Carlos Beltran set the tone for Benson early, robbing Michael Tucker of a HR on the dead run, which put Benson in a good mood and made up for a tough day in the field during the matinee.

Kris Benson, right now, is the very definition of a pitcher who has total confidence in his stuff. He trusts it enough to let the batters hit it, knowing it won't sail 3 miles. It's good to see. Petunia's daddy also had a good day at the plate, smacking a double and driving in a run with a walk against Jason Schmidt, who was erratic in his four innings of work.

David Wright had a monster game from the 5th spot in the order, going three for five with a HR and two singles driving in two. As I said in the game one recap, and others have been saying for weeks and weeks and weeks, David Wright should stay in that 5th spot. Funny what 10 hits gets you. In game one, 10 hits = 3 runs. In game two, 10 hits (the first ten) = 10 runs. Coincidence the Mets are more efficient with Wright hitting 5th? I think not.

Cliff Floyd is finding his MVP stroke once again, going 3 for 4 with four ribbies, and two loooooooong home runs, both to center. (Note to the D.J. in the Shea scoreboard; is Macho Man by the Village People really the best option after a home run?) Floyd now has 14 dingers on the season. Victor Diaz also homered while giving Mike Cameron a rest in right field, and Jose Reyes went 3 for 5 in the leadoff spot.

It's June 5th, and all 5 teams in the N.L. Beast are seperated by 1 and 1/2 games. Let the pennant race begin.

Look Who's Not No. 1!

With a sweep of the doubleheader today, the Mets would have been in a tie with the Washington Nationals for first place. Instead, they will try to avoid fourth place as the Giants held on to defeat the Mets 6-3 in game 1 of the DH.

You can lay blame in many places. You can blame Kaz Ishii, who's walks have been down (only two today), but when he's not on, you get games like today. There were ten hits in 6 and 1/3 innings, and most of his outs were hit hard as well. He still should have gotten out of the sixth inning with the game tied at 1-1, but...

You could also blame Carlos Beltran, who heard the boos again during the first game. Ray Durham hit a fly ball to what Mike Cameron has called the most difficult center field in the game...Shea Stadium. The wind and sun wrecked havoc with the ball, and Beltran looked like the town drunk trying to field it. In fairness, the Mets don't play a lot of 4PM afternoon games, and I think the sun had more to do with it than you think. (Beltran returned to normal in the first inning of the second game, robbing Michael Tucker of a dinger while on the dead run.) Earlier in the inning, Jose Reyes looked awkward fielding a line drive which quickly went from the shadows to the sun.

You could blame Kaz Matsui, certainly. Kaz came up as a pinch hitter (which should have been David Wright's spot, who was removed in a double switch, but more on that later) in the 8th with the bases loaded, and after working the count from 0-2 to 3-2, struck out on a weak swing at a pitch which should have been ball 4 by Scott Eyre. What made the K worse was Doug Mientkiewicz doubling off Eyre to lead off the ninth. Assuming Eyre's pitch sequence would have been the same in the 8th with the bases loaded as it was with Mientkiewicz leading off the ninth, the double would have brought the Mets to within 6-5, and they probably win the game.

But I blame Willie Randolph. Now I don't get on Randolph at all (nor should I because he doesn't deserve it, and I haven't really addressed the fact that Piazza continues to bat in an important roster spot even though he's been reduced to a seeing-eye singles hitter, while David Wright continues to languish at 7th in the order. But today, Randolph's loyalty to Piazza killed them. And every Mets blogger who says that Piazza should be dropped in the order for David Wright is absolutely correct.

I realize that double switches are dictated by the game situation, and that there will be days that David Wright will be pulled from a game for a double switch no matter where he bats. But if Wright was batting 5th today, as he should bat every game, then he would have been up in the ninth as the tying run, and there would have been some hope. As it was, Piazza ended the game in the ninth with a broken bat tapper to third. It's time for Willie Randolph to realize that in general, Mike Piazza doesn't scare anybody anymore, and he should not be batting 5th.

Consider this: Gary Carter came off a fairly productive season in 1986, but the next season he struggled. And at 33 years old in 1987, he spent over half his at bats in the 6th hole rather than his customary cleanup spot. There was no loyalty for past achievements and a hall of fame career...he was dropped in the order for the good of the team. There should be no such loyalty for Piazza either, who is making it painfully obvious with each at bat that he is a shell of his former self at 36, three years older than when Carter started his decline. Each time Mike Piazza bats fifth is an admission that the inmates still run a piece of the asylum, and also telling that there is a fear of losing Piazza's little remaining love for the game (if what Buster Olney says is indeed true).

As I write this, with Mike Piazza sitting out game two of the doubleheader, David Wright has just given the Mets a 2-0 lead...batting 5th.

Something to think about.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Casting Spells Around The Majors

Item: The Mets are one of seven teams interested in signing former Reds closer Danny Graves.

His ERA is abysmal (7.36), his batting avg. against is abysmal (.357), his WHIP is atrocious (2.29), and Graves gave up at least one hit in nine of his ten saves, and in that tenth save he only pitched 1/3 of an inning. He's also given up at least one earned run in 4 of those 10 saves. And we're not even talking about the four runs he gave up against the Mets on the 18th of May, and the 5 runs in his final appearance against Cleveland on the 22nd. Yet seven teams are apparently interested in him. Is anybody's bullpen that bad?

Item: Mets on pace to strike out about 200 more batters than last season.

ESPN Tim Kurkjian enlightens us on SportsCenter with this nugget: Pedro Martinez advised Tom Glavine that he was holding the ball in his glove too long during his delivery, helping with Glavine's turnaround this season. I suspect that the Mets would have put up with a little "diva" from Martinez in his tenure. But so far, not only has there been none of that, and not only has Martinez been lights out his own self, now we find out that he's giving tips to Tom Glavine of all people. Combine that with the buzz that has returned to Shea when he pitches, Pedro has already earned his money this season, on June 4th.

Item: Former Met Octavio Dotel to have Tommy John surgery and miss not only 2005, but maybe 2006 as well.

And this is his walk year, so Dotel will not be earning a paycheck next season. Not only that, players who have Tommy John surgery performed on them usually take a full season to really shake off the effects, so Dotel most likely is looking at 2008, when he'll start the season at the age of 34, until he's back to his old self. That won't bode well if he only gets a one season deal to prove himself in 2007.

Item: George Steinbrenner says the Yankees are letting down the entire city.

Not quite the ENTIRE city, boss.

I can deal with the argument that the designated hitter adds a run to your ERA, and I can even see that there are more monster lineups one through nine in the A.L. than in the N.L. But when hitters are at a .314 clip against you (Carl Pavano), when you haven't reached 10 K's this season and have given up a hit an inning (Randy Johnson), and when you get swept by the Royals (not a monster lineup), then something's wrong. Sure, some A.L. teams have stronger 7-8-9 hitters than their N.L. counterparts, but not all of them. Certainly not the Royals and Twins. And it can't all be attributed to the designated hitter. Randy Johnson is 41 years old, and while he's pitching well for 41, you can't expect him to be the Randy Johnson of even last season much less his prime. Pavano is proving himself to be a one and a fraction year wonder (his great 2004 actually started in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, when he kept the Marlins in the game until Alex Gonzalez sabotaged their season), which is surprising. Jaret Wright was a mistake from the start, but the moves the Yankees have made as a whole really should have panned out and they haven't. And the middle of the order should be hitting and they're not.

The Yankees, in my mind, have done enough over the past 10 years to get the benefit of the doubt this season and be given an opportunity to turn it around. But this is the Yankees we're talking about; the same Yankees who proved once and again that they had no soul when they felt the need to get another all-star to replace the serviceable Miguel Cairo, who performed well last season for the Yanks. (They probably should have given prospect Robinson Cano the opportunity from the beginning, unless they knew that Womack would eventually be needed to replace Bernie Williams in the outfield.) So you know something will happen before too long.

In any event, it should be fun to see what the Boss does next. I for one, can't wait.

Comfortable Shoes

All the married guys have done know, accompany your wife to the mall so that she could buy a new wardrobe for your upcoming trip. Well today was my day; although I did manage to stop and buy a Pedro Martinez jersey, so my presence was not at all wasted.

You may ask where I'm going with this. I'm amping up to give a shout out to Nordstrom's at the Roosevelt Field Mall. If you're near the island (or as they say out there; "Lon Gisland"), encourage your better half to buy all the shoes she wants at Nordy's. But don't tell her about the televisions in the men's shoe section that were tuned to the Met game today...or the chairs situated around the televisions for easy viewing. It's where I saw the pivotal 5th inning where Mike Piazza drove in two runs with a bloop single today (with a terrible swing on a pitch he had no business swinging at on a full count) to break a 1-1 tie and help beat the Gigantes 5-1.

Nordstrom's has always been the leader in providing comfortable chairs to men to lounge in while their wives spend the paycheck. But the TV's were an added treat today. And to that I say "thank you, Nordstrom's". Now, if they can find a little extra in their budget for a bucket of potato chips, I'd go shoe shopping every week.

So remember guys: Roosevelt Field, Nordstrom's, men's shoes, and TV's (one with open captioning for the hearing impaired).

You're welcome.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Cats, AND Dogs

Friday's Giants/Mets game has been washed out.

Here are the new pitching matchups according to the Mets website:

Saturday afternoon's game will feature tonight's washed out matchup, Noah Lowry vs. Tom Glavine.

"Obviously, I would have liked to have pitched [Friday], but there's nothing you
can do about the weather." -Tom Glavine

It's not often Tom Glavine gets to use one of his patented excuses a day beforehand in case he loses. But now it's built in for him. Great.

It gets interesting on Sunday. The first game will feature Brett Tomko and Kaz Ishii. Tomko was originally slated to go against Kris Benson for the ESPN game. Now, Benson will face Jason Schmidt, who was originally set to go on Saturday. After having a strained right shoulder, Schmidt could use all the extra rest he could get. The prime time matchup becomes a matchup of former Pirates; one blossomed after he left, the other hopes to be on track for the same thing.


Met fans are paying silver prices for tonight's game and gold prices for the weekend games, as part of the Wilpons' atrociously conceptualized "tier pricing system". My question here is: what exactly are the fans paying for, exactly?
  • They're paying for no opportunity to boo Armando Benitez.
  • They're paying for no chance to perform a "steroid" chant at Barry Bonds.
  • They're paying for the privelage to watch...LaTroy Hawkins?
At least Edgardo Alfonzo makes another return home. Other quickies for the Giants series:

Friday: Noah Lowry (2-5, 5.37 ERA) vs. Tom Glavine (3-5, 5.05 ERA)

Bad news for Noah Lowry: The Mets lead the league so far this season in batting average vs. lefties. They're hitting .300, and they also lead the league in OPS (.845) vs. lefthanders. Historically, the Mets have swung the equivalent of wet noodles against lefties, so that was surprising to see. But the Giants themselves are not too shabby against lefties this season, hitting .290. So Tom Glavine may spend much of his evening looking like Charlie Brown himself.

Saturday: Jason Schmidt (3-1, 5.08 ERA) vs. Kaz Ishii (1-3, 4.79 ERA)

Cliff Floyd is lifetime 8 for 20 with 2 HR's and 5 RBI's against Schmidt in his career, and Mike Piazza is hitting .344 lifetime vs. Schmidt with 5 home runs, but most of those at bats came when:
  1. Jason Schmidt was still searching for himself with the Pirates, and...
  2. Mike Piazza was a productive player, and not the shell of himself he is now.

Ray Durham meanwhile, is hitting .500 against Ishii lifetime.

Sunday: Brett Tomko (4-7, 4.14 ERA) vs. Kris Benson (3-2, 4.21 ERA)

Don't forget boys and girls, the Sunday matchup is the ESPN game at 8:00. Special Metstradamus correspondent Rasheed Wallace is reporting that the Mets and the Giants would split the first two games to drive up ESPN's ratings for the Sunday night game, and that Major League Baseball would get "good people" in there to make sure that happens. Wallace added "if y'all can't see that, @&#% you're crazy."