Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Photo Essay

Hey, it's the week in pictures!

Amazing what Oliver Perez can do when he's not on the Ted Higuera training regimen.

Hey, hanram2 uses Twitter! (Yeah, I think this Twitter thing is way out of hand too.)

The book for Mets fans who like to read. You mean you haven't picked it up yet? It's the perfect Opening Day gift. (Which begs the question: Why hasn't Hallmark produced "Happy Opening Day" cards yet? Probably because Bud Selig hasn't found a way to mark them up 300% and profit off them yet.)

If David is going to grow a mustache like these guys want him to do, I'm voting for Rollie Fingers and the handlebar ... all the way. This way, the next time he throws one into right field, the mustache wax residue on his fingers gives him a built in excuse.

Besides, don't you want to see David stroll into the opener in Cincinnati looking like this guy?

It's got "international incident" written all over it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hanley Plus Insanity Equals Hypocrisy

It's time to get cranky again, kids.

You may recall a piece by Gerry Fraley that was referenced in this blog and in others. He was basically noticing (inventing?) a difference between the reactions of Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes at the idea of dropping to third in the order. Ramirez was painted as the ambitious one, while Reyes, of course, was portrayed as the "passive-aggressive" immature one.

You remember how the piece started:
A difference now can be found between Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes, a pair of gifted 25-year-old shortstops. Both were offered the same proposition this spring: move from leadoff to third in the batting order. Their responses were telling.

Ramirez quickly warmed to the idea of batting third for Florida. "That means I'm dangerous," a grinning Ramirez said. "All the good hitters bat third, fourth, fifth. I want to be around those guys."

Reyes took a passive-aggressive approach, saying without a hint of enthusiasm that he would hit where the club wanted him to hit. Reyes' reluctance spoke volumes.
Well, now that we have some late breaking developments regarding Hanley, Fraley can now write another article with the same premise. lucky for him that I'm here to help him get started:
A difference now can be found between Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes, a pair of gifted 25-year-old shortstops. Both were offered the same proposition in their careers: better grooming. Their responses were telling.

Reyes, in response to Willie Randolph's no facial hair edict in 2005, said nothing and acted like a professional.

Ramirez took a passive-aggressive approach to Fredi Gonzalez's no long hair/jewelry rule this spring, saying without a hint of common sense that he wanted to be traded, and made it clear through a sharpie-scrawled message across his chest that he was "sick of this s**t." Ramirez's reluctance spoke volumes.
Yeah, I'm not expecting this piece to actually be finished either.

I'm going to ask you this: Imagine the reaction here in New York if Reyes had done that. I gather it would be a lot more harsh towards Jose than what they wrote in Florida towards Ramirez. Is a rule demanding ballplayers cut their hair and not wear jewelry on the field ridiculous? Yes it is. I'm not going to disagree with anyone who says that. And Hanley had every right to disagree with the rule.

Is it bizarre to institute a rule like this after you've already been managing the club for a good amount of time? Sure it is. At least Randolph started his managerial career with that ridiculous rule, and if ever there was a team that needed to be reminded that the inmates do not, in fact, run the asylum, it was the post-Art Howe New York Mets. And yes, I've taken Jose to task over some of the publicly immature things he's done. But which is more incredulous: slamming your glove down on the ground after an error, or writing obscenities across your chest with a sharpie and demanding a trade over a haircut?

This is a team leader doing this. Yeah, he's young. But that doesn't earn anybody any passes in New York.

Seriously, if I saw a guy with writing on his chest with a sharpie walking towards me, I'd cross the street.

But Hanley Ramirez does it, and he's a victim of Fredi Gonzalez's tyrannical ways.

Meanwhile, if Jose Reyes were to do it, Wallace Matthews would write about how Jose should be in jail for the rest of his life (while juxtaposing him to Captain Jeter, of course.)

(And for reference: If Manny Ramirez were to do it, the SportsCenter set and the entire ESPN facility would collapse onto itself, and John Kruk would be forced to eat Steve Phillips' leg under the rubble to survive ... that's how big a story that would be.)

But Hanley? No no, poor Hanley. We shouldn't curtail Ramirez's insanity sense of style with silly rules.

I want everyone to remember this the next time Jose Reyes gets glazed, marinated, and placed on a rotisserie with an apple in his mouth in the press over some minor lapse in judgement. It's called perspective, boys and girls. And even in this economy, it don't cost much. So be sure to pick some up.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


This is comforting:
"I really liked when he left. He came into camp in good shape. I thought he was throwing the ball very well when he left camp. I was a little reticent when he left, and my worries have come to fruition.

"I think he’s not in shape. The arm is out of shape. Certainly the better body shape you are it’s easier to get your arm in shape. Even though the weight is about the same as the end of last year, he is still not the same guy we saw, the energetic guy. Even the life around the clubhouse is not the same."
-Dan Warthen, on Oliver Perez
This is the guy the Mets spent $36 million on? A guy who can't be away from Warthen for a minute without falling apart and forgetting everything he was ever taught? Obviously, Warthen is going to have to fix his motion, get his command back, chop up happy pills and sneak them in his food, and re-teach him basic math. And no more slumber parties or sleepovers for Oliver where he can pick up bad habits, snack before dinnertime, and learn curse words in Czech.

Heck, Warthen should just become Ollie's roommate. After all, Perez obviously needs round-the-clock supervision. Warthen is going to have to remind him how to get out of bed in the morning, tell him that walking involves left ... then right, go through the steps of chewing breakfast (up, down, up, down), and how to drive stick. How else will Perez make his way to the park on game day? Not to mention the fact that the Mets play in a new park now. Without Dan Warthen, Oliver will wander the new parking lot looking for the bullpen mound. Oh, and you have Vinny Castilla, Ted Higuera, and the WBC to thank for this.

Damn you Higuera, what the hell did you do to him? Was he put on a training program that involved every Denny's franchise in San Diego? Was every movie you rented from Netflix the one where they all die at the end? How did this happen in two weeks?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Little To The Left

Here's the question that you, the Met fan, need ask yourself at this moment:

Would you rather have a second lefty on the roster, even if that second lefty has proven himself to be a complete bum? Or ...

Do you fill the remaining spots with righties that have proven to be useful parts of baseball society in the spring?

Ron Villone not being able to get lefties out today against Detroit, combined with Bobby Parnell pitching a stellar inning makes the question an interesting one. You want to take your chances with righties like Parnell, Darren O'Day, Brian Stokes, and perhaps Carlos Muniz's New Splitter (sounds like a movie) against the likes of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Raul Ibanez? Or do you want another lefty to boo at home?

And how much more difficult is this question to answer knowing that you have guys like Will Ohman out there practically begging for a job with a contender. It's such a sad sight ... I wish it didn't have to come to this for Ohman:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Art? Is That You?

Pop Quiz:

It's the tenth inning of a tie game, and your pitcher is facing the greatest pure hitter his country has ever known with runners on second and third and two men out, with first base open. What do you do?
  • Walk him, like the book says, and pitch to Hiroyuki Nakajima.
  • Pitch to Ichiro, and tempt fate.
Most sane men would have walked Ichiro Suzuki. Kim In-sik, the manager of South Korea, would have done that too. But we've secretly replaced Korea's fine manager with former Mets manager Art Howe. Will South Korea notice? Let's find out:

Uh-oh, I guess they did notice. And thanks to Art Howe, it's military duty for everyone.

Monday, March 23, 2009

This Is Why Nobody Likes You

Before I'm accused of starting a personal war, let me quantify my title. The "You" in "This is Why Nobody Likes You" refers to the collective media who sometimes likes to stir the pot for no real reason except for stirring the pot. This isn't a swipe specifically at the gentleman who wrote the article I'm about to refer to:
Ramirez quickly warmed to the idea of batting third for Florida. "That means I'm dangerous," a grinning Ramirez said. "All the good hitters bat third, fourth, fifth. I want to be around those guys."

Reyes took a passive-aggressive approach, saying without a hint of enthusiasm that he would hit where the club wanted him to hit. Reyes' reluctance spoke volumes.
This seems to be the modus operandi (you know it as M.O.) of some of the national media, reading into the reactions of two players and picking the conclusion that stirs up the most reaction and the most controversy. Now, Gerry Fraley might be dead on with this. Maybe Jose really is a selfish dope who only wants to hit leadoff. Maybe Fraley is a better judge of psychological ticks than everybody else. But if a cliched "I'll do what the club tells me to do" is all he has to go on, then with all due respect I'm going to need a little more convincing.

Yeah, their responses were telling, as Fraley says. It tells me where these players play as much as anything. Is it possible, maybe, that Reyes' five years in New York dealing with the hoards of media has him more conditioned towards cliched, no-risk answers when dealing with the non-regulars? Meanwhile, the most Hanley has to deal with on a daily basis is Dan LeBatard yelling "Bam!" in the lockerroom when he's feeling particularly warm and fuzzy. So the cliche hasn't exactly seeped into Hanley's consciousness yet (as if his "I hate the Mets rant" from '07 wasn't enough proof.)

Reyes says something without enthusiasm. Therefore, he's passive-aggressive and he's going to lie down like a dog if he hits third. Because that's the gist of the whole passive-aggressive thing, in case you haven't looked it up lately. That's a wild conclusion to come to ... it's the Murray Chass school of logic: Mike Piazza has back acne. Back acne is a symptom of steroids. Here to forth: Mike Piazza is on the juice. The media is full of people who think they're Matlock who are just waiting to get these players on a witness stand:

Matlock: You don't want to hit third, do you?

Reyes: I don't care where I hit.

Matlock: No no ... you don't want to hit third. You can't hide it.

Reyes: (/breaks down in tears)

I'll concede that Jose Reyes is just never, ever, going to get the benefit of the doubt on things like this until he puts the Mets on his back single-handedly and gets them to the playoffs in September. I realize this. I hope it happens one day. In fact I hope that someday, Reyes is playing in the World Baseball Classic and makes an error which leads to three runs, and the ESPN announcers are so shocked that they stumble for things to say until they rationalize that it was actually the speed of the runner that caused Jete, uh ... Reyes to throw the ball into Orange County, and that it really wasn't his fault. I hope that this is the case one day.

Until then, we're left to fend for ourselves when it comes to separating the factual brain locks from the ones that are conjured up.

Thanks: Jaap, for pointing me in the right direction.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


For those who do not recognize the title (or can't read it all together), that's Korean for "Thanks", as in Thanks, Korea, for keeping Venezuela out of the WBC finals and preventing Luis "Harry Pelotas" Sojo from even thinking about losing his mind and bringing in Frankie Rodriguez for a four, five, seven, or fifteen out save against the USA/Japan winner in the finals on Monday.

You know that Sojo has designs on softening Frankie up so that he can come out of retirement and hit another 15 hop single up the middle against him and blow up another World Series.

So thanks. Now Frankie can rest up, and maybe we don't have to worry about his violent arm motion until Opening Day. And speaking of violent arm motions ...

Chad Bradford just winced.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Bum Knee For A Guy Who Squats For A Living

As you know, "indefinitely" is a long time. It's longer than day-to-day. And Brian Schneider is out indefinitely.
"There's no particular thing that I did. I just woke up with it, and it just got worse and worse as the day went on," Schneider said. "Today it's feeling better, and we'll just get more treatment."
I guess this means that Fluff Castro might have to rely on his durability, which is like asking Rey Ordonez to rely on his power stroke.

Is Tim Spehr available?

Virtual Lock

Meanwhile, in Buffalo ...

Inspired by ...

which was inspired by ...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St. David's Day

How do you knock out two Carloses with one swing? Ask David Wright, who put all 50 states on his shoulders (including Hawaii, Victorino!) and brought them all to the semifinals of the World Baseball Extravaganza. Mere hours earlier, Davey Johnson threatened to forfeit this game if any more players got hurt. Simply put, David Wright has bailed out America. (Get it? Bail? Out? AIG? Oh, forget it.)

Still weird that Victorino and Derek Jeter were the first to greet him after the walk off hit (and did it look like to you that guys were secretly trying to sucker punch division rivals in that dogpile?) But a nice swing at a bad ball by David to make America victorious.

His truth is marching on ... to Los Angeles.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Junior's Cheesecake And Bobby's Cheese

Now I know what you must be thinking: "Well if Metstradamus could come up with an entire rant about Fernando Nieve, I can only imagine how he's going to complain about signing Junior Spivey."

Believe me, I tried. I tried to come up with a soliloquy so negative yet so grand that it would make the hairs on the backs of all your necks stand up. But I just can't. I'm too tired. And there's only so many times I can come up with a 500 word masterpiece piece of crap on a guy signed to a minor league deal or picked up on waivers. Besides, every time I bemoan the signing of a guy who hasn't been on a major league roster since 1974, he winds up making the major league club and hitting .450 over the course of two months and makes me look like an idiot (that's before he rips his hamstring like pulled pork while applying Mighty Putty to a leaky pipe on an off day.) So I'm done playing that game.

Instead, I point you to the fact that Bobby Parnell is steaming towards a job in the Mets' pen as a set up guy. If there's one thing the Mets lacked in their bullpen last season, it was a swing and miss guy who throws hard. Yeah, I know ... the Mets, in actuality, lacked about 49 things in that bullpen last season. But Parnell is just the kind of guy the Mets have been missing, and could use if he can put it together. And if Parnell can do for the sixth/seventh what Frankie Rodriguez, J.J. Putz, and Sean Green are supposed to do for the eighth and ninth, then maybe Met fans aren't going to have to go through a season's worth of Rolaids by May 6th.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Nieve Colossus

I can't explain the latest Mets signing other than to say that this must be the new inscription outside the new park:

Not like the brazen Giants of Manhattan fame,
With conquering pitchers astride from land to land;
Here at our rusted, Citi Field gates shall stand
A mighty pitcher with a torch, whose flame
Was the imprisoned lightning, and his name:
Bill Pulsipher. From his beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; his mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that Big Bird frame.
"Keep ancient legends, your storied batters!" cries he
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your failed drafts.
Send these, the journeyman, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Ladies and gentlemen I present to you your tired ... your poor: Fernando Nieve. When translated, "Fernando Nieve" in English means "Aaron Heilman". Don't believe me? He comes described as such:
"Nieve is considered an Aaron Heilman level disappointment, the once top Astros prospect was placed on irrevocable waivers."
So let me see if I got this right. The Mets rid themselves of Aaron Heilman, and get themselves a disappointment on the level of Aaron Heilman. Because really, what are the Mets without a reliever you can boo?

It's like Felix without Oscar.

It's like peanut butter without chocolate.

It's like Ellis Valentine without a helmet bar.

Bret Saberhagen without bleach.

Guillermo Mota without a 2-0 count.

You get the idea. But don't you find it funny that a team like the Marlins cut a guy after a game where he hits a home run, yet the Mets sign a guy who has produced ten years of evidence as to why he's not fit to pitch in the majors to replace a guy who gave up the home run to the guy that was cut?

But Nieve throws hard. Oooh, exciting. I recall Jorge Julio throwing a baseball at high speeds too. The dents in the back of the Shea Stadium bullpen were proof of that. But now we have a new stadium, with new hopes and dreams. And soon, new dents in the outfield wall, courtesy of Fernando Nieve.

I'll be the one lifting my lamp beside the golden door.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Dirty Undertaking

Dan Uggla hit two home runs (including one off Johan Santana, whose elbow did not explode on impact) in the Marlins' 16-8 spring victory over the Mets last night at Tradition Field.

I thought it was a little much that the Marlins wandered the field after the game scooping out cups of Tradition Field dirt for souvenirs to go with their Shea Stadium dirt. To me, that's just rubbing it in.

(Sorry, that wasn't Uggla out there scooping dirt. That was the undertaker getting ready to bury Tim Redding's chances of winning the fifth starter job. My mistake.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Petey, Victor, And Dying A Little Inside: A World Baseball Tour Of The Tortured Mind

Sometimes when I'm "away", it's because I've got nothing of value to say. But sometimes when I'm away, I'm actually away, which is why I have some random thoughts from the past few days, centering around this World Baseball Extravaganza.

First off, let me say that it can be really confusing not only for people who watch these games, but for the people who watch the people who watch these games. I, for example, was on an airplane on Wednesday watching the Netherlands (no, their baseball spikes aren't wooden) play the Dominican Republic. And at the same time that I'm rooting to see the upset, I'm also watching Pedro Martinez pitch and pumping my fist with every 91 mph tailing fastball he was throwing. This prompted my wife to ask me "who exactly are you rooting for?"

And that's the problem with this tournament. There are Mets and their enemies playing for every team (think how weird you felt when J.J. Putz chest bumped Brian McCann after the USA defeated Canada), and teammates facing off against each other. It's like an intense LSD trip where Davey Johnson is managing again, and Bert Blyleven is teaching A ball pitchers his big curveball while Sidney Ponson is offering me peyote.

(But what made me the most unhappy about that first Netherlands/D.R. game was Steve Phillips laughing and joking about how he traded Nelson Cruz away from the Mets and now he's a good hitter. Meanwhile, Metstradamus dies a little inside ... That, and the fact that we had to deplane during the bottom of the ninth, so I had to wait to check into the hotel to find out that the Dutch pulled off Upset Part One.)

First, you have David Wright playing with Jimmy Rollins. And I love how Derek Jeter sits between them in the lockerroom and he's being painted as Kissinger to Wright and Rollins. This is the same Derek Jeter who has had chance after chance after chance to make sure that Alex Rodriguez was accepted in that Yankee lockerroom, but instead let A-Rod twist in the wind because of an Esquire article. But he sits in between Wright and Rollins and he's Alfred Nobel. Okay. Jeter is the greatest captain in the world. Much better than Cats. I am a sheep. I will believe everything I read. Baaaah. Baaaah.

And not only did you have Jose Reyes playing with Hanley Ramirez, but you had Jose Reyes playing with Miguel Olivo, who you remember from their brawl in 2007, started in part because of excessive celebrations by the Mets. So it was funny when Olivo hit his second home run of the game against Panama, and he came to the dugout with a ... wait for it ... choreographed home run handshake!


But now Jose Reyes is back in Mets camp, thanks in part to an error by Hanley Ramirez during Upset: Part One. Way to go, Hanley.


Oh, and speaking of dying a little inside:

First, I gotta watch Victor Zambrano throw a pitch so bad that I'm convinced that Kevin Youkilis swung at it on purpose because he knew he'd reach first base on the strikeout (Youkilis acted like he was upset with himself but I'm convinced that was part of the rouse.) Then in his second appearance, he almost hits David Wright while instrumental in beating the States. (Can you imagine Wright being out for ten weeks with a broken bone off a pitch thrown by the hand of Victor Zambrano? I'd start chugging Drano Bombs on the spot.) And you know that this potentially could mean that Omar Minaya is taking a look at him as long as Tim Redding can't get out college players. Resist, Omar. Resist!!!

(At least Freddy Garcia improved against those same Michigan Wolverines. Out-freakin-standing!)


Then there's Frankie Rodriguez, who had this to say about the Venezuelan media after saving Venezuela's victory over the States last night:

"They're trying to stick it to us. You ask anybody in that clubhouse and they'll tell you the same thing."
I didn't know Wallace Matthews was Venezuelan.

No One Is Safe ...

Omar might have drawn the "X", but Cecil Wiggins was holding the pen all along.

Friday, March 06, 2009

More Free (And Hopefully Obvious) Advice From Your Friendly Neighborhood Blogger

I'm not a big World Baseball Tournament guy (I believe that nothing that's been around for less than ten years should be called a "Classic"). But I did get to see a wee little bit of the replay of the first game between China and Japan on Thursday.

I'm also not a guy who gets excited about throwing a ton of money at a guy on the basis of what he did in the Japanese league ... between Kaz Matsui and Satoru Komiyama, I've pretty much been scarred for life. I generally like to see how a player coming from another league ... any other league ... does in the majors before I get excited about him. Remember, for every Ichiro, there's a Fukudome. (And for every Kaz Matsui, there's a Mets scout drooling over him and ready to let him wear a World Series ring.)

But pitching for Japan was a guy that has been whispered about in the inner circles for the better part of the last nine months. So I figured I'd get a small look at him. It was easy to temper my enthusiasm for him considering he was going against the Chinese national team, not exactly one of the favorites in this tournament.

I'll say this about Yu Darvish, if the reason that the Mets are saving their money now is that they're saving it for the posting process for this cat, I'll apologize on this blog for every bad thing I've ever said about the Wilpons. I sincerely doubt that is the reason the Mets are saving their money, so I'll follow with this:

If you're going to throw silly money at a guy playing in the Japanese league, this ... is ... the ... guy. He threw nothing but live fastballs and sliders and shut out China for four innings, meanwhile the kid has about fourteen pitches* in his arsenal. And in his spare time, he saves kittens from tall trees without ladders. With all the kittens displaced from the Shea Stadium demolition, they're going to need a friend to help them down.

And he fights ham.

This is your guy, Omar ... this is your guy. Open Bernie Madoff's vault and let him have what he wants.

*Slight exaggeration. He only has like ... twelve pitches.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I Dream Of Jose

What, you think because you got Madonna means you can just have anything you want in life? Well you can't have Jose Reyes on the Yankees. So you're going to have to go back to your original dream with you and Tuesday Weld.

(Reportedly after A-Rod made his wish for Reyes on the Yankees public, he also said he wished Ozzie Smith was 20 years younger, and that Joe Cronin could still get around on an inside fastball.)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Home runs in spring training mean nothing.

Unless you're Freddy Garcia, and Chris Duncan hits one off of you that the IAEA wants to investigate.

That home run was hit so far that it's currently rolling down the street in Buffalo. Guess who isn't going to be that far behind that ball?

Oh, and what's G?

Apparently, G stands for Giving up seven runs in the fourth inning ... as in Dillon Gee. That might be Gee, but here's the thing: Add the distances of all the hits off Gee today, and they still don't match the distance of Duncan's home run.

That's G.

And that's AAA.