Friday, October 31, 2008

What Happens When A Fictional Pitcher Interviews A Real Life Wife?

You get Part I of Jimmy Scott's interview with Gabrielle Schoeneweis.

Parts II and III are coming soon, when supposedly Gabrielle will discuss the fateful final game at Shea.

Wes Helms' wife has no comment, but Fredi Gonzalez is sending her to a bat rack somewhere at this very moment.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where Can You Find Me?

You know that place where there's never a sunny day?

I am
so there.

I'll be there all winter.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Razor Shines

Because Pete Moss took a better offer somewhere else.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

America's Cuddly Villains

The world hates the Mets. Here's proof, from noted baseball sociologist Pat Gillick:

"If you want to know the best thing we had going for us this year, it was the fact that all the other teams in our division hated the Mets’ guts. It started with Atlanta and all the hostility they had with the Mets through the years. Then Fredi Gonzalez left Bobby Cox to manage the Marlins and he didn’t forget everything that went on between the Braves and Mets. Look what Florida did for us the past two years (beating the Mets two out of the three in each of the last series of the season to prevent them from making the postseason)! Washington doesn't like them very much either, and all those teams seemed to really get up for the Mets."
The NL East apparently has a hate list.

Where's my freaking royalties?

So what Pat is telling you is that Fredi Gonzalez, a third base coach, took some sort of Mets hatred from the Braves/Mets rivalry ... not really a rivalry at all since they've pounded the Mets through the years ... and brought it to the Marlins? They get up for the Mets because Fredi Gonzalez of all people hated the Mets?

Yeah, great logic. Hey, the Mets didn't do themselves any favors losing two of three to those guys two seasons in a row in the final series. But since the playoff participants are decided on the strength of teams' record throughout the season and not solely in September, let us blow a hole in Gillick's theory right now:

2008 record vs. the Marlins:
Mets: 10-8
Phillies: 8-10

But against the Phillies, I guess the Marlins were just going through the motions, right?
"Washington doesn’t like them very much either."
2008 record vs. the Nationals:
Mets: 12-6
Phillies: 12-6

Gasp! You mean the Nationals didn't get up to play against Philadelphia? Blasphemy! If the Nationals would get up to play against the Phillies like they do against the Mets, the Mets would have won the division?

Yeah. Here's the thing: By saying that, Gillick is unwittingly admitting that the Phillies aren't nearly as good a team as the Mets, but that the Phillies are in because eveyone hates the Mets. One problem: The former statement isn't true. The Phillies must be better than the Mets because they're preparing to play Game 2 of the World Freakin' Series. Meanwhile, the Shea Stadium scoreboard has come crashing to the outfield while the Mets roster isn't preparing for anything right now except their tee shot at hole one and ribbon cuttings at the new Shake Shack at Citi Field.

Hatred didn't fuel the Mets second collapse in a row, folks. Hatred didn't blow a four run lead to the Phillies in the ninth inning, or gave up a two run single to Steve Pearce, or got swept by the San Diego Padres in June. Nor did hatred give up back-to-back home runs to Wes Helms and Dan Uggla.

You know what did?

Here's a hint ... it's the bullpen, stupid!

I guarantee you that Jose Reyes was nowhere near the pitchers mound doing the Cha-cha, Merengue, or the Pasodoble when any of the above events happened.

I'll give you that the division hates the Mets. I've been saying that forever. That much was proven when the Braves, after a game where they almost got into a brawl with the Phillies, spent their postgame cooldown signing "Meet the Mets" after they blew a game in the final week against the Cubs. But if you're telling me that caused the Mets to lose the division, you're nuts. And if you're telling me that the Mets would spend one minute of time trying to figure out how to make the rest of the league like them instead of using that minute trying to figure out how to fix their bullpen, then you are wasting your minutes.

Forget trying to be nice to everyone: Because as long as America hates the Mets, it's time for the 2009 roster, however it's assembled, to stop being sweet and nice and say all the right things. And instead of taking its anger out on Jon Heyman, start taking its anger out on the rest of the division, since it's obviously scientific fact that hating human beings and organizations guarantees higher production and better performance.

Maybe the Mets should put bounties on players. Or maybe Fred Wilpon needs to go all Al Davis on the rest of the league and start having rambling news conferences with overhead projectors, reading verbatim some letter that Joe McIlvane wrote to him.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Gritty Attempt At a World Series Preview

Yeah yeah, I know what you're thinking. "A stupid Mets fan previewing the World Series. Why should I even read it? He's going to pick the Rays and explain why to try to comfort his team's wounded fan base and tell them not to worry because the Rays are better ... well screw him! Go Phillies! Ya Gotta Believe because, well you know ... Why Can't Us? Rays are teh suxor Go Phillies!!!!!!1111!!!!!"

And that was just from John Kruk.

Avg. John Kruk IQ=37
Can you beat that score?

Well, Kruk did pick the Phillies to win this series (along with his cohort Steve Phillips), and that tells me that this is a great time to help combat a bad economy and bet your house and your life savings on the Tampa Bay Rays. I mean, if those two are picking the Phillies, that makes the Rays as close to a mortal lock as you can get, no?

I'd leave it at that, except that I now find out that Peter Gammons has also picked the Phillies ... and that worries me because who doesn't like and respect Peter Gammons? So I'm going to step out of my Metstradamus persona, just for a moment, and be an outside observer who has watched more playoff baseball this season than any Met fan should have to endure (I knew all of you wouldn't, so someone had to. I took your bullet ... I took all your bullets.)

Here's the series from my perspective: Look, people who are picking the Phillies point to the bullpens. Yes, overall the Phils have a stronger bullpen right now due to the struggles of Grant Balfour and our old friend Dan Wheeler. Fair. But, for the Rays to be successful in the late innings, it's the lefties that are going to be successful for the Rays to win, and not necessarily the righties. And for the Rays, the lefthanders are pitching some great ball between J.P. Howell (whom I would love to be a Met next year but I know isn't going to happen so don't even get your hopes up kids) and former numero uno draft pick David Price.

People will point to the Game 5 debacle as to why the Rays can't possibly win this series. I point to that game as the reason they will win this series. What Joe Maddon learned during Game 5 is that he blew it not having lefties available to pitch to David Ortiz in the 7th inning of that game (he homered off Balfour) and J.D. Drew in the 8th (he homered off Wheeler), while having Price stuck in his holster. Maddon realized that if Price is on the postseason roster, why not use him ... especially with the 96 mph stuff he has? So in comes Price to close out the ALCS and now the entire planet will realize just how good Price is. He may not be the official closer this series, but if the lineup turns over to Utley, Burrell, Howard in the ninth, you'll see either Price or J.P. Howell ... and Wheeler will save the games where the ninth inning features Pedro Feliz, Carlos Ruiz, and the like. It'll be the quality lefties that will force Charlie Manuel to either empty his bench earlier than he wants to, or be forced to hit Matt Stairs and Greg Dobbs to hit against the Howells and the Prices of the world.

Look at that smirk to your right. Men with smirks that pronounced really outgha be punched. (Boy, Metstradamus ... you've had violent tendencies lately, what's up with that?)

But here's fact: If the Phillies are to have any chance in this series, Cole Hamels needs to pitch three times. As of right now, Hamels is only slated to go in Games 1 and 5. Okay, if you want to flirt with disaster. Because let's lay it out in a nutshell: Cole Hamels is a straight beast. He's their best starter by about 3.5 miles. To not have him available in a Game 7 is murderous especially when you consider how the matchups play out.

Right now, Met-hater Brett Myers is due to pitch in Games 2 and 6 in Tampa. During the playoffs, Myers has been a cult hero for outdueling CC Sabathia, and morphing into Mike Schmidt against the Dodgers. But those games were in Philadelphia. Myers will have to pitch two games on the road where he has a 6.21 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP in 16 road starts this season. To be fair, most of that non-success came before his month long odyssey to find himself in the minors, but even career wise there's a spike in Myers' ERA, WHIP, and opponents average on the road as opposed to home.

I have a feeling that if the Phils find themselves down 2-1 headed into Game 4, they may rethink this and go with Hamels on Sunday. If that happens, we've got a series. But there's a reason that teams with more rest heading into the Series get crushed: Baseball is a game of timing. It's not like football which is a game which is as much about brute strength and force as it is about timing ... that's why top seeds in the NFL have a huge advantage coming off a bye week ... it's essential to be more rested in a game where bumps and bruises are a way of life.

That advantage doesn't exist in baseball, which relies on routine and regular work. The Phillies will head into the Series on six days rest, and now all of a sudden they get thrown into action against Scott Kazmir?

(Pauses to mutter a silent curse under his breath towards Jim Duquette regarding Kazmir.)

Take for example Ryan Howard, who hit a quiet .300 during the LCS, and who is a notoriously slow starter. Now you're asking him to face Scott Kazmir cold. Not an optimal situation for a guy who the Phillies really need to step up.

So my official prediction is Rays in 6. And now I step back into my persona to tell Mets fans that after reading that, it really is okay to come out from your hiding place. It's not going to get any worse. The Curse of William Penn will live on. So it's safe to find seats on the Rays bandwagon (preferably seats that keep us out of the way so that the real Rays fans continue to get prime viewing areas) and watch the Series. And if Rays fans have a problem with that, all I can say is that hey, you owe us one.

After all, we did provide you Kazmir in exchange for a tuna fish sandwich.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is Baseball Like An IV Drip For You?

Need a baseball fix before Game 1 of the Series? Or do you need an alternative to watching the Phillies play meaningful baseball? i know I do. So why not relive Wally Backman's season with the South Georgia Peanuts (Part's one to four of the first episodes of Playing For Peanuts in order) ...




Monday, October 20, 2008

Ryan Church: Behind The Blow

Well, another red letter season has come do an end (and that red letter is F ... I'll let you figure out what that stands for.) And believe it or not, I still have s**t to say. The following is random stuff I'm posting in the comments section about a person or persons of my choosing. These are your New York Mets: Behind the Blow.

Here's what's funny about these Behind The Blow entries: There aren't that many left. There are a few blank entries left to feature certain guys with pretty pictures and titles, but were sitting in my draft box otherwise empty ... lonely ... and sad.

One of those entries was this one, Ryan Church.

As I'm eternally trying to get a handle on what to say about Church, I get a comment from James Allen, a frequent commenter. But it's not really a comment, he wrote a whole Behind the Blow for Church! This is how you know you've made it in the blogging world: People want to do your work for you. It's like when elves come in the middle of the night and lay out your Christmas presents, eat your cookies (they only tell you they give them to Santa), and wax your floor (so you'd slip in the morning ... I've learned that elves have a strange sense of humor.)

Or maybe the commenters are trying a hostile takeover because they're tired of my heavy-handed rule and this is the first step in softening me up. Yeah, that's probably it. (I knew I should have offered free biscuits to the readers.) In any event, I give you James Allen's Behind the Blow ... Ryan Church:

"The saga of Ryan Church in 2008 has to be one of the greatest roller coaster rides in baseball (if you only count the initial drop of the coaster.) From decent corner outfield picked up in the somewhat controversial Lastings Milledge trade, to the hitting juggernaut early in the season, to a horribly handled concussion case (his second in 3 months), to his general uselessness at the plate late in the season, the words "what if?" apply to Church more than any other Met. I mean, what if Yunel Escobar's knee didn't get hit with Church's skull on May 21, 2008? After that date, the Mets corner outfield production basically was in limbo while numerous guys were trotted (no pun intended) out there until Tatis and Murphy (two infielders) pretty much asserted themselves at the head of the pack. Similarly, the 2-hole was given back to guys like... well, you know.

I think the Mets didn't get enough criticism in the handling of Church. Sure, they got some from some quarters, but it wasn't nearly as sustained as it could have been. Someone in the NY Post put it best, the Mets cared more about Moises Alou's knee (and any other injury for that matter) than Ryan Church's brain, making him fly to Colorado shortly after the injury so Ryan could have headaches at high altitude.
(Editor's note: Mets brass probably doesn't know any better in this regard, thinking "Well we work without brains just fine ... why can't Ryan Church? After all, you don't need a brain to play baseball." All right James, continue) This obviously stemmed from some sort of desperation on the Mets part, as the rash of injuries early (to Alou and Pagan specifically) made Mets management think they could roll the dice with a head injury. It was stupid and careless and Omar and whatever silly medical staff the Mets employ should be held accountable. If the Mets doctors were from a hospital and Church was just a patient, they'd still be being sued as we speak.

When he finally did come back he wasn't his old self, putting up a second half .612 OBP in the second half (to go with the .882 OBP for the first half), looking particular dreadful the last month of the season. Is he shot? Hard to tell. Even with his dropoff at the end, his overall numbers were at his career norm, so maybe he can go into 2009 blackout free and contribute at least at those levels, but, to be blunt and somewhat cold, the Mets seriously have to look at improving their corner outfield and take into account that Church may not come back at 100%. As an added bonus, he's going to be compared to Milledge, who started to come alive in the second half, more and more. Will he end up being the unfortunate casualty of what may turn out to be another bad trade on the Mets part? (Schneider sure ain't going make up any difference.) We shall see. As it is, I'm pulling for the guy, and hope he can avoid getting his bell rung again."

Take a bow James. Here's my epilogue:

A good point was brought up when James mentioned how Church's numbers turned out to be right in line with his career averages. The way the numbers got there, with a hot streak in the beginning, the long layoff with the concussion, and the horrid slump at the end bring up the question of just how much did the concussion hurt him this season. Was Church putrid at the end of the season because of the long layoff? Or was he still feeling the lingering effects of his second concussion of the year (first one being in March against the Dodgers in Spring Training)? Or was it just the law of averages catching up with Church?

As much as I think Church is nowhere near the hitter he was at the beginning of the season and that his numbers were bound to regress to the mean in a healthy season, I can't help but think Church's numbers were affected by the concussions, and the way the Mets handled it ("Hey, let's put a dizzy guy on a cross country flight, it'll be fun ... hey, what's that we said about doing this without brains?") So a real determination of Church's future in New York can't be reached until after the 2009 season.

With that in mind, if you're not sure that you can depend on Church to carry the production of both corner outfielders, then trading a bad contract (cough Castillo cough) for a guy like Juan Pierre may not solve anything. Trading that contract for a guy like Jose Guillen might to the trick. And hey, you want a guy to make things interesting in the clubhouse? Guillen can do that. Heck, Guillen is the kinda guy who will light somebody's pants on fire and walk away ... and unless those pants are your pants, then what's the harm in that? Chemistry changed. And here's what else Jose Guillen can do: hit a home run once in a while, which would be more helpful than Juan Pierre.

And if he gets out of line? Snoop Manuel won't just bench him ... he'll kill him. Problem solved.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hope Jim Duquette Had A Good Seat

Six innings. Two hits. Three walks. No runs. Game 5 of the ALCS. Craig Sager can't even keep a straight face when asking Chuck Lamar about the engineering the trade with the Mets. But hey, Scott's bullpen blew the game so in some ways, it's like he never left, right?

It's all right though. I'm sure Victor Zambrano did something equally productive baseball-wise today. He traded a Scott Kazmir rookie card for a '67 Corvette. I'll give you one guess as to who was on the other end of that trade.

At least nobody plays baseball tomorrow so there's no chance of something else torturing me ... unless of course Aaron Heilman and Yadier Molina decide to appear at a charity softball game and a ball just happens to bust through my window.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Luis Castillo: Behind The Blow

Well, another red letter season has come do an end (and that red letter is F ... I'll let you figure out what that stands for.) And believe it or not, I still have s**t to say. The following is one in a series of random stuff I'm throwing against the wall about person or persons of my choosing. These are your New York Mets: Behind the Blow.

On July 19th, 2007, the Dow Jones Industrial average topped 14,000 for the first time ever. On the same day, the Mets had beaten the Dodgers 13-9 and were in first place by two and a half games.

Ten days later, Luis Castillo came on board.

Since then, the Dow Jones plunged below 9,000 points, and the Mets lost two straight playoff berths on the last day of the season. I think it's easy to infer that Luis Castillo is to blame for all of this.

Think about it: Remember this past Monday when the Dow bounced back with the largest one day gain in history? Do you think it's a coincidence that on the very same day, Daniel Murphy went 4-for-4 in the Arizona Fall League?

That's all the proof I need. So with the help of deductive reasoning I say this: Luis Castillo is taking your money.

All right, so maybe my argument is skewered a bit. But I can't argue that there's about as much consumer confidence in Castillo as there is in, say ... TransOcean. And that's despite the fact that Castillo's numbers with the Mets in 2007 were actually somewhat decent. And that was the impetus for Omar Minaya signing Castillo to a four year deal.

I allow myself an irrational leaning every once in a while. Here's mine for today: Luis Castillo gets a bad rap. I'd even go so far as to say that Omar Minaya gets a slightly unfair rap for signing Castillo to the long deal. (I'd be willing to bet that when you were at Shea booing Castillo, you were actually booing Omar.) Remember, Daniel Murphy and Argenis Reyes were not yet options during the winter of 2007. Here were your free agent options:
  • Castillo
  • David Eckstein
  • Kaz Matsui

No matter that Castillo was a disaster this season, I still take him over Eckstein with all things being the same now as they were then. Remember, Eckstein would have come to New York and switched positions from shortstop to second. And here's the rub: Toronto traded him because he couldn't field ... his natural position! Then he got traded to Arizona and hit .219 down that all-too-familiar stretch.

And I don't want to read comments that read: "But but but ... David Eckstein! Grit! Heart!" Castillo in '07 played through bad knees and hit over his career averages in batting and on base percentage, and drove in 20 runs in 50 games. And while he looked like he would fall apart at any second, he was hardly the reason the Mets collapsed in 2007. Four years may have been much, but don't forget the Astros were going after Castillo also so I'm not convinced that the Mets really had any choice but to sign Castillo to the long deal ... unless you wanted Kaz Matsui back in New York to get booed out of his mind. You want that? Do you? Think hard about that before you answer.

That being said, it's time for Luis Castillo to blow town. There are options now. Argenis Reyes is an option. Daniel Murphy and his .529 AFL average is an option. Orlando Hudson very well may be an option. Luis Castillo is no longer an option. His knees are beyond repair. His stats in '08 are beyond repair. And if he's not batting second, he's pretty much useless. Wherever Murphy plays, he'll be the one batting second. And let's face it: bad things do seem to happen just by his very presence. There's no good reason for it, it just is.

(Excuse me, my head just got light and I need to sit down. I'm getting a Carlos Baerga flashback.)

And now I understand why Castillo came to the Mets so cheap. What was once a happy marriage must now be dissolved due to irreconcilable differences. Don't be scared about some of the quotes floating around from the Mets which basically say not to count out Castillo being the starting second baseman next season ... that's just lip service to make sure his trade value doesn't drop as fast as the stock market. Believe it or not, there are some that actually might want him. Ooh, I know, I know, Omar needs to fix the bullpen, maybe Castillo can bring back Braden Looper!

Yeah, and maybe my Enron stocks will make a comeback.

Obsessed Much?


That was the caption written under a picture very similar to the one above of Shane Victorino daring to celebrate after a game tying playoff home run and pasted in Victorino's locker before Game 5 of the NLCS. Obviously a jab at Victorino for showing emotion. Funny how this team has surpassed the Mets, left them in the dust, made them eat dust, yet are still obsessed with them. Professionals? Or bitter schoolgirls? You decide.

Too bad the Dodgers didn't see it and get all pissed off and use it as the inspiration to beat the crap out of them the rest of the series. Oh yeah, that only happens to the Mets.

On the bright side, Manny Ramirez is a free agent. The bad news is that the Manny that Omar Minaya goes after will probably wind up being Manny Alexander.

Excuse me while I stick my head in the oven.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Some Choice

You know, between Sarah Palin dropping a puck at a Flyers game, and Barack Obama jumping on the Phillies bandwagon for the duration of the playoffs, I may just have to avoid this election all together and move to Canada.

It's really gotten bad here in the Met kingdom. This was an actual conversation between two Met fans today:

"If the Phillies make the World Series, I'm beating the crap out of you."

"If the Phillies make the World Series, I'll let you beat the crap out of me.
Future leaders embracing baseball enemies? Met fans beating each other up to dull the pain? Carlos Beltran to the Yankees rumors? You know, Canada's looking better and better these days.

"The Musings and Prophecies of Alouettestradamus?"

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Florida Marlins: Behind The Blow

Well, another red letter season has come do an end (and that red letter is F ... I'll let you figure out what that stands for.) And believe it or not, I still have s**t to say. The following is one in a series of random stuff I'm throwing against the wall about person or persons of my choosing. These are your New York Mets: Behind the Blow.

Somebody asked me if I was going to put the Marlins organization on the ballot for the annual Hall of Hate vote in 2009, after knocking out the Mets in 2007 and 2008. I can't do it ... because in '09, they end the season in Philadelphia instead of New York. So we might need them.

Now when they inevitably lie down and die against Philly to give them their third straight division title, then I'll think about it.

By the way, the Marlins have re-signed Wes Helms. I just thought I would mention that.

For close to four full seasons, I've tried like hell to point out the crimes of baseball: Suit-wearing casual fans invading ballparks. Shane Victorino being the Theo Fleury of baseball. Brett Myers hating the Mets and being an otherwise pillar of society. Cody Ross waiting to yell at Mike Pelfrey until he was a safe distance away from him. Hanley Ramirez and his intense jealousy about New York that festers into hate. Wallace Matthews' writing about the Mets as if he's that kid who's three feet shorter than you that keeps daring you to hit him.

Baseball criminals all.

But the worst part about the Mets spitting the bit two years in the row is that I can't keep the criminals out anymore. They've stormed the castle and they're drinking our alcohol. And I have nary the energy to argue with them anymore. Shane Victorino? You're not obnoxious at all ... you're gritty and gutty. Myers? You are a pillar of society. Cody Ross? Yeah, you're absolutely right ... how dare Mike Pelfrey's fastball run inside. Hanley Ramirez? Yeah, those days where you have hundreds and not thousands of fans at your football stadium? New York's fault ... totally. Wallace Matthews? You're completely writing what's in your heart, and not trying to break records for negative comments ... totally. Jimmy Rollins? You're right. Baseball needs more robots. How dare we show emotion? Bandwagon fans who get their tickets for free and know nothing about what they're watching? Sure, pose for pictures during play and block my view. What do I care? I'm just a paying customer ... which is latin for "sucker".

Though I will say that the new shirt that the Marlins are selling on their website has gone a little too far.

Also available in black or teal.

(Updated Editor's note: And with this, the venom is back. Because we need Joba Chamberlain's f***ing hat in the hall of fame to encourage the bloated legacy of a guy who hasn't pitched 150 innings in his career ... but he's a Yankee so let's all bow!!! But before you get upset about the lack of items from Shea Stadium's last game in comparison to all the Yankee items, don't be so sure that the Mets hadn't sold everything to the highest bidder already.)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Omar Minaya: Behind The Blow

Well, another red letter season has come do an end (and that red letter is F ... I'll let you figure out what that stands for.) And believe it or not, I still have s**t to say. The following is one in a series of random stuff I'm throwing against the wall about person or persons of my choosing. These are your New York Mets: Behind the Blow.

I'm not sure there's a more polarizing figure on the Met landscape than Omar Minaya. And I'm also not sure there's a more scrutinized GM in baseball right now either. You love him, you hate him. And after two straight collapses, my guess is that most of you hate him.

There's a lot of angst over Minaya getting a four-year contract ... announced officially after the season was over but leaked before Collapse II, which made it all the more painful for fans to swallow. My response to that is not to get worked up over the length of the contract. It's not good business practice to have anyone ... especially Minaya ... in a position where he needs to make moves with the spectre of not being employed next season looming. That's a recipe for disaster, because Minaya needs to always think "long term" with this organization while he's there. When you see guys like Jed Lowrie and Justin Masterson be merely the latest in a significant line of Red Sox prospects who come up from the minor leagues and make huge contributions immediately, you wonder where that's been in Minaya's tenure.

At the risk of sounding like an apologist, some of that has started to happen. Both Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans have come up and helped the team in varying degrees ... Murphy looks like a keeper, and at the very worst, Evans could be trade bait to help some various holes (cough ... bullpen ... cough) that the Mets have. Whatever you believe about Minaya not being able to shore up the bullpen at the deadline, the alternative would have been to blow young players like Murphy, Evans, Eddie Kunz and the like to acquire from a limited pool of relievers including Jon Rauch and Arthur Rhodes (Rauch was horrible with Arizona and Rhodes ... incredibly ... was outstanding for Florida in his 13 innings. Though with the Mets he probably would have been terrible ... and he's still 38.) And then how would you have felt? The problem in 2007 was that the team was too old and, yes, bored. Minaya has seemingly reversed course and has relied more on the farm system. There's still a long way to go with the farm system, but Murphy and Evans are a start. And those calling for Minaya's head should take a look at the big picture and realize that even with all of Omar's faults, the organization is in significantly better shape now than it was in 2004.

Have we all forgotten 2004? I mean, sure ... you may complain about Carlos Delgado. But would you rather have Wilson Delgado?

But now that the season is over, and seemingly more relievers would probably be available, it would behoove Minaya to make sure that bullpen looks completely different than it did last year, four-year deal or no four-year deal ... because a third disaster will likely mean his head. So they have to pay him to do nothing for three seasons. With all the money they're getting selling their championship banners, foul poles, dugouts, and napkin holders, the Wilpons will barely feel the sting. Let's put it this way, when the first reliever comes into the game at Citi Field, he shouldn't just be announced, we'd better see Ty Pennington with a megaphone yelling "drop that curtain".

In other words, there had better be a makeover ... and it had better be extreme.

But here's what worries me about Omar Minaya and the Mets bullpen ... for that matter, it's the same thing that worries me about Omar Minaya and the rest of the roster: It's his penchant for falling in love with reclamation projects. There are only so many times that turning to the likes of Jose Valentin, Orlando Hernandez, and Fernando Tatis are going to work ... and when they work, the payoff has a limited shelf life. Combine that with the soundbite that came from Minaya (or perhaps it was Jerry Manuel but it's indicative of the same problem) when asked about getting Frankie Rodriguez:
"We're going to be creative with the bullpen."
Creativity takes many forms. Matt Groening is creative. Mozart was creative. So was Roman Polanski. Polanski is also a fugitive from justice for having intercourse with a minor. If you give a five-year-old a crayon and a wall, he can be creative too. But all you get are scribbles on a wall. I got a computer to be creative. But instead of writing the Great American Novel, all I could come up with was a blog where I make jokes about Wilson Delgado.

Creativity could be a good thing with the bullpen. Maybe Minaya will target guys like J.P. Howell from the Rays. Maybe he'll force Billy Beane to take a reasonable offer for Huston Street. Perhaps a guy like Frank Francisco from Texas will be available. Maybe Brian Fuentes will be willing to come to New York and close if K-Rod takes his 62 saves elsewhere. There's a whole host of guys out there who have been successful in the major leagues in the past six months that could be had at the right price. But what worries me is that the Omar Minaya I know has already given orders to the clubhouse staff to sew "Urbina" on a jersey for the first official news conference from Citi Field.

Because as you know, incarcerated relievers are as creative as it gets.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Jerry Manuel: Behind The Blow

Well, another red letter season has come do an end (and that red letter is F ... I'll let you figure out what that stands for.) And believe it or not, I still have s**t to say. The following is one in a series of random stuff I'm throwing against the wall about person or persons of my choosing. These are your New York Mets: Behind the Blow.

Call it a crackpot theory if you wish, but I find it weird that mere hours after it's reported that the negotiations between Jerry Manuel and the Mets to become the official Mets manager were hitting a snag as Manuel was digging in his heels, a report comes out that Bobby Valentine would be happy to come back to manage the Mets. Then, mere hours after that, a deal is done.

I'm on to you.

But now that "Gangsta Ball" is back for the long haul, the true test begins. You haven't heard a hint of bad word from a player about Jerry Manuel. Of course not. Manuel did some good things, and some different things from Willie Randolph. But let's face it: you would have replaced Willie Randolph and gotten good results. The divorce between the players and Randolph was needed ... and the first few months between Manuel and the roster is reminiscent of those first few months of a relationship: passionate, warm, and thankful that this new boyfriend or girlfriend isn't like the last one.

Except that it was like the last one when it came down to September, which a lot of people hung on Manuel like last one was hung on Willie. But the constant in both seasons are the players ... the same ones who win and lose ballgames. And they're the same players who could cost Manuel his job somewhere down the road if the relationship between them and Manuel goes south. That's the challenge for Snoop in 2009. Now that the honeymoon is over, how will he keep the roster that he's given motivated and happy without the glow of just having replaced somebody not popular with the room?

And that's why nobody should be surprised if there's another slow start in 2009 ... especially if the roster remains relatively similar to what it was last season. That responsibility rests on someone else's shoulders ...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A Programming Note

With Rays/White Sox Game 3 spilling over the start of Game 3 in the Angels/Red Sox series Sunday night, TBS had to run the start of the Angels game on their spillover option: TNT. The start of that game interrupted the pivotal scene of the movie Titanic.

People who were having an emotional moment with the sinking ship were outraged.

My question is this: If TNT had interrupted Titanic with a regular season Mets game, would anyone have known the difference?

There's Only One October In Hell Too

You do realize of course that participating in this season's World Series will be one of the following options:

  • The Phillies
  • Guillermo Mota
  • Jeff Kent
That's like a choice between being doused in battery acid, drinking a full bottle of Drano, or driving cross-country with Jerome from Manhattan riding shotgun.

Gee, all we need is for their opponent in Game 1 to be Scott Kazmir for it to officially be the World Series from Hell.

I'll tell you one person that the World Series most likely will not include, and that's Frankie Rodriguez ... who, after getting battered in Game 2 of the ALDS, is looking more and more like he'll fit right in here in Flushing.

"It wasn't dirty," he said, initially unwilling to discuss the play. "If that was the case, I would've just bowled him over ..." -Shane Victorino after Game 3 vs. the Brewers
Yeah, this was much better than bowling him over.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Wright And Reyes: Behind The Blow

Well, another red letter season has come do an end (and that red letter is F ... I'll let you figure out what that stands for.) And believe it or not, I still have s**t to say. The following is one in a series of random stuff I'm throwing against the wall about person or persons of my choosing. These are your New York Mets: Behind the Blow.

It seems that a rite of passage on this blog is my words being misconstrued. After Collapse II, I wrote the following:
"And I'm to the point now ... at this very moment ... if anybody besides Johan Santana were to leave this team, I'd shrug my shoulders in an act of indifference. That includes the Carloses, that includes Jose Reyes, that includes the very handsome David Wright, that includes everyone."
I was subsequently told to shut up and stop feeling sorry for myself because I should feel lucky that we have David Wright and Jose Reyes on the team. Yeah, because at three in the morning after the last game at Shea Stadium in which the Mets choked another way another playoff berth, lucky was the first emotion to come to my mind.

Besides, feeling sorry for myself is the right and privilege of every American ... and I will fight for it.

No, nowhere did I say: "Let's go out and trade David Wright and Jose Reyes." No. I was merely making the point that on this team, right now, there's Johan Santana ... and there's everybody else. And if the fact that Johan pitched the best and most important game of his Met career with torn cartilage in his plant leg doesn't illustrate that, I don't know what does.

Reyes and Wright are the faces of this franchise ... in many ways they have been since they came up in 2003 and 2004. They have a chance to have careers that cement them as born and bred Mets ... the kind of Mets that generally don't just have some good years here as they're passing by, but the kind of Mets that have their best years, and spend most of their years, as Mets. They're core players that you just don't give away like babies that are in stale bathwater.

Look, Wright's transgressions in the clutch this season aren't from lack of effort or preparation, neither is it from a lack of pride in his work or caring about his craft and his organization. It's painfully obvious that his transgressions are from pressing and from trying too hard. And Reyes, also has weaknesses that have nothing to do with lack of preparation or caring. But the pockets of pickoffs that he's gone through exhibit somewhat of a lack of concentration during stretches.

But clearly, and as illustrated by people like hate list inductee Mike Francesa ... misguided as he may be on this ... the honeymoon is over for Wright and Reyes. They've been known as the future for so long they've gotten numerous passes from all of us. But the grace period ended as the era at Shea Stadium ended ... especially for Wright. And it's not fair. Reyes hasn't been quite as Teflon as Wright when it comes to criticism at home (he's gotten plenty of it from elsewhere from his dancing), but both have had their ascension to the forefront of the ballclub unchallenged for the most part. But now that they're there, it's time for the duo to shed their remaining weak points and take this game by the neck and shake the success out of it.

Criticisms of the two are nitpicky. But great players shed those criticisms nonetheless. It's time for Wright and Reyes to take the next step in their baseball lives.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Scott Schoeneweis: Behind the Blow

Well, another red letter season has come do an end (and that red letter is F ... I'll let you figure out what that stands for.) And believe it or not, I still have s**t to say. The following is one in a series of random stuff I'm throwing against the wall about person or persons of my choosing. These are your New York Mets: Behind the Blow.

2008 has been full of tragic symmetry. Last season, the Mets lost two out of three to the Marlins, only winning the second game. I delivered a Manifesto, and then my first post after that involved Scott Schoeneweis. This season, the Mets lost two out of three to the Marlins, only winning the second game. I have already delivered my end of season Manifesto, so let's keep the symmetry going and talk about Schoeneweis, shall we?

You do realize that Scott Schoeneweis is 2008's Tom Glavine. He's going to be seen as the guy who f**ked up the final game with the bomb he gave up to Wes Helms.

(Jeez, Wes Helms.)

When Glavine was interviewed after the game, he came up with the final nail in his own Met coffin in the hearts of Met fans when he came up with the infamous "I'm disappointed, not devastated" line.

One year later ...
"Scott Schoeneweis wrapped his hands around the sides of his Mets locker, seemingly trying to prevent himself from stumbling. He removed one hand to rub his eyes, kicked away a shoe and then sniffled. An hour after the Mets’ season ended disastrously, Schoeneweis, with tousled hair and red-rimmed eyes, looked as if he had not slept in three days."
Sure, Schoeneweis also said that sometimes there were more important things in life ... but he was going through one of those important things at the time!

Yet he still seemed to care about baseball. And that's an important thing to point out because I've heard more than one person say that they could deal with Glavine's 2007 meltdown up until the "disappointed not devastated" line. Then, Glavine was dead to a lot of people ... even when Glavine may have been feeling lower than the dirt that the Marlins scooped up from home plate on Sunday, he certainly didn't let us in on the joke. Schoeneweis at least wore his emotions on his sleeve and showed us that he at least shared the emotions of his fans at that point. It's a fact that at the very least deserves to be acknowledged and credited before he, in all probability, packs his bags to head for parts unknown in 2009.