Monday, November 28, 2005

Wagner Signed to Four Year Deal

For the second consecutive year, Omar Minaya has made a pair of acquisitions of such impact that he could probably spend the rest of the off-season drinking mojitos and playing XBox 360 without drawing a word of criticism. Not that I have any reason to expect he will do either.

Hours after Carlos Delgado met the press and had is picture taken in a Mets uni, the report came that Billy Wagner will be joining him.

I may appear to have a bias against the "win now" mentality which, it would seem, a fan should like to see from his or her front office. If there's one thing I think I might be guilty of, analysis-wise, it's overvaluing high-grade prospects and undervaluing outstanding veterans. But this deal takes place in a different context than that which saw the Mo Vaughn, Tom Glavine and (cough) Victor Zambrano acquisitions. The Mets now have a legitimate championship-caliber roster.

To look at the heart of the Mets lineup, the starting rotation, and the top portion of the bullpen depth chart is to peep game. Chalk it up to shrewd management, brute financial force, or whatever; it's hard to imagine this team winning fewer than 90 games. I'm excited. Perhaps even... yes, giddy. I'm going to save my final, and far more quantitative, predictions for the spring, but my preliminary diagnosis of the Mets is that they are just plain sick.

Do I wish Omar could have signed Wagner to a 2 year deal instead? Sure, but I'm comfortable with the impossibility of such a deal. And, for all my harping about the overemphasis on the Dominant Closer in baseball, I do look forward to seeing one ply his trade at Shea.

If we get two years and 140 innings of prime Billy Wagner, I can live with what could very well be an underperforming investment after that. The Mets may not win the Series in the next two years, but at the time the deal was done (i.e. today), Mr. Minaya was well within his rights to consider this a team that can "win now," and should be loaded up with the finest, if not freshest, talent available.

Of course, I don't expect the Mets are done shopping. The dual offers to Bengie Molina and Carlos Hernandez are apparently still standing. I'm pulling hard for Hernandez, and wish Omar had focused on him more exclusively, but he can't just keep doing everything we wish for, can he?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Mets Miss Ryan Express

The most valuable reliever on the market has been scooped up by J.P. Ricciardi's Toronto Blue Jays. Bummer.

I'm not of the opinion that the closer "position" is of vital importance to a team with championship hopes, but dominant relievers are nice to have. Braden Looper, for all his velocity, never was one, but in 2004 he had a career year control-wise and did a very nice job.

If he had come back last year and shown that he had indeed taken his game to the proverbial next level, I wouldn't be anxiously following the Wagner-Ryan sweepstakes... but he didn't, so I am.

Ryan was the play, having been mayor of the next level for the past two years. He hasn't had the career as a closer that Wagner has, but it's hardly his fault that the Orioles kept going to Jorge Julio in the 9th for as long as they did. He's younger and healthier than Wagner, and his stuff is at least as vicious. He also gets bonus points for looking like the corn-fed Pittsburgh closer at the end of "The Natural."

It's not the end of the world, but even if Omar does manage to land Wagner, it's probably going to be with a much longer contract than would be prudent. I've said it before, I don't mind the idea of a Bell-Padilla 8th-9th. Middle relievers can pitch in the 9th. I've seen it happen time and again.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Hot Stove Action Shakes Negligent Blogger Out of Torpor

I apologize for the long layoff. I'll be posting semi-regularly (once or twice a week) through the offseason, before getting back to my every weekday schedule as Spring Training starts up.

For now, the business at hand is the hot stove, particularly the Mets' acquisition of Carlos Delgado. I can't help but think back to last offseason, when the free agent courtship ended on less-than ideal terms (Delgado signs with FLA for a contract of lesser face value, calls out Omar for playing the race card, etc.). Surely, it would have been preferable for that process to have gone smoothly, making Delgado a Met at the cost of cash only, rather than Yusmeiro Petit, Mike Jacobs, and a PTBN named Grant Psomas (all praise to Vinny for the Psomas info and some very thoughtful coverage generally). To say nothing of making him a Met a year earlier, which, I think we can all agree, would have made the '05 Mets a whooole lot better.

On the other hand, that's why they call them free agents, and the trade should be evaluated on its merits. I've made no secret of my fondness for Yusmeiro Petit, whom I consider one of the top 5 pitching prospects in all the land. I am well aware that the book on him is that he gets by more on deception than stuff, and therefore could be susceptible to getting smacked around above Double-A by savvier hitters.

Do I buy this? I do not. I don't care if he tops out at 83 mph. He has 429 strikeouts as a professional against 75 walks, he turned 21 this past Tuesday, and I fully expect that before too long we will wish he were taking the mound at Shea.

Now that I have that off my chest, I think it's a sensible trade by Omar. First base was a crime scene last year, and Delgado's decline from his Toronto hey has been fairly gentle. He's going to be better than, say, Jim Thome next year, and didn't cost as much in terms of '06-big-league talent.

Last year I wrote out what the lineup should look like with Delgado aboard here. With another season and partial off-season under our belts, here's how I would like to see the '06 lineup:

1. Carlos Beltran
2. David Wright
3. Carlos Delgado
4. Cliff Floyd
5. Xavier Nady
6. Ramon Castro (boy, C. Hernandez would be nice here)
7. Kazuo Matsui
8. Jose Reyes

There it is. That's right, for those who had forgotten, I'm that BP-addled guy who hates on Jose Reyes... But there'll be plenty of time to get into that.

Happy Holidays,


Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Well that sucked.

If you were a regular reader here before my extended hiatus, I apologize for it, but it must have been the absolute least of your baseball-related worries during this time.

To explain, I was out of town for work and then vacation, and then, as our beloved team plummeted further and further out of contention, it was more a sore spot than a source of enjoyment.

The Mets have now lost 11 of their last 13 games, and are two games under .500 with no chance at a playoff berth.

How could this happen? They stopped scoring runs. The most obvious culprits have been Jose Reyes, Miguel Cairo and Kazuo Matsui, all of whom have been receiving regular playing time without so much as a .700 OPS among them. Of course it takes a team effort to muster an implosion of this magnitude, and there's been plenty of blame to go around.

Some of the offensive woes are, I believe, purely situational. It seems our extra base hits have come with the bases empty, while the strikouts have come with the bases loaded.

I'll post again tomorrow with a recap of tonight's game against the Nationals, and some more postmortem on the last two weeks.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Meaningful games


At this point (6:15pm), you are probably fully versed in the second night of carnage in Phoenix. Wright hit two homers, Jacobs hit two homers, and they combined to score nine of the team's eighteen (18) runs. It was a lighthearted romp, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The only bad news is Jae Seo's ERA ballooned to 1.30.

Watching SportsCenter at the moment. Here's what I've learned: Jeff Brantley is a first-class, ocean-going baffoon.

Asked for his analysis of the NL wild card race, he said (and I'm paraphrasing but it's pretty close):

"What a great story it would be for the New York Mets or Washington Nationals to make the playoffs. But the reality is they're... it's not going to happen. Their starting pitching just isn't as good as it's made out to be and they don't have what it takes to overtake all the other teams in the division.

Whether it's the Phillies, Astros, or (stumbles and looks down at his notes) Florida Marlins, I think you're talking about the Houston Astros. Why? Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, Brad Lidge. Book it."

He's entitled to his opinion, of course, and the Astros are a fine pick, but how can a professional baseball analyst come to the conclusion that the Marlins, Phillies, and Astros are legit contenders, while the Mets aren't? Is two games really an insurmountable lead? Isn't our starting pitching looking pretty good at this point?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Time to wash the road unis

They've got blood all over them. Nine singles, four doubles, a triple and a home run. 14-1. Mercy is for the weak.

David Wright in particular really filled out the stat sheet, reaching base and scoring in all four plate appearances, doubling twice, stealing a base, and driving in two. Ramon Castro drove in 5, Mike Jacobs homered for the second time in his 8 career ABs, and Victor Zambrano held the Snakes to a single run of their own. Oh, and Heath Bell fanned two in a perfect ninth inning.

Not a lot to complain about. Meanwhile, everyone else in the Division/Wild Card race, with the exception of the Phillies, took a L last night. So the Mets move within two two of the lead, tied with the Nats and trailing the Phils, Astros, and Marlins.

Tom Glavine turned in a positively spectacular outing on Monday, and the offense was, as Teddy KGB might say, "akyay." Floyd drove in two, while Reyes(!) and Diaz contributed 1-run home runs.

The "Steve Trachsel Question," which had been so bedeviling Willie and the chattering classes, was resolved in what I believe to be the best way possible: Danny Graves was unceremoniously DFA'd... and there was much rejoicing.

The roster is still not without a weak spot or two, as Kaz Matsui has retaken a regular role, but whose isn't, may I ask?

Tonight will be the fourth new installment of the Jae Seo Show. Each one thus far has made the early-season cancellation ("we like the cut of Ishii's jib") look dumber and dumber. He's been absolutely awesome, there's just no getting around it. All we can do is hope this increasingly significant run signals a new level of performance for him and not just a series of astonishing blips on the screen.

He's bound to give some of that 1.09 ERA back, but just how much?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Busting recaps

I just have one comment on Friday's game: I told you Seo.

I'd also like to weigh in belatedly on Saturday's game, which was almost a disaster not soon to be forgotten by those fans in attendance or watching at home. I don't have a problem with removing Pedro after six innings and 78 pitches. Tom Seaver does*, but I'm beginning to think his brain has a thick candy shell.

No, what I have a problem with is the employment and even occasional deployment of one Daniel "Danny" Graves. A friend and fellow Met fan asked me on Thursday who the most egregious (his word) member of the bullpen was. I answered without much hesitation, because the guy doesn't have much real competition for that title. He's really, truly awful.

While any combination of relievers should be expected to nail down an eight run lead for three innings, if you for some reason wanted to make it as interesting as possible, throwing Danny G. out there is a good start.

So, how did yesterday's game three go, you ask? Frankly, not too well.

The top of the 1st: a litany of base hits - many of them of the ill-gotten seeing-eye lookie-here fluketastic variety - continued out of control until Benson just had to be removed so he could sit there catatonic in the dugout repeating "Christian Guzman" and rocking back and forth like a spectral Leo Mazzone.

Bottom 5: Anderson and Diaz single, and Mike Jacobs gets the call to pinch hit in his first major league at-bat. We all know what happens, the lefty-hitting youngster takes a low fastball from Loaiza and crushes it to right field. Mets now trail 7-3. Neither Seaver nor the other guy in the WB booth mentioned this, but Jacobs had been going kind of bonkers in the Eastern League. Sure, he's a little old (24) for the circuit, but .321/.376/.589 with 25 homers is - pardon the expression - the real.

Several junctures in the later innings: Mets get one or two baserunners with zero or one outs and squander the bejeezus out of the opportunity. Cairo, Castro, and Floyd left 3, 4, and 5 runners on base, respectively. Cliff racked up three of those five in a single, humiliating at bat:

With the bases loaded and two out, Frank Robinson brings in Joey Eischen to face Floyd. Both pitcher and hitter are lefties with unusual platoon splits. Floyd struggles less than most lefty hitters against LHP, and Eischen has actually been shutting righties down (.576 OPS against) more effectively than lefties (.759), for a "reverse" split. In short, the matchup is far more favorable than one might expect. So I'm thinking how great this is, that Robinson's knee-jerk move could easily make this a squeaker or even a tie game, when Cliff takes a long, ugly swing for strike one on a sweeping hook that landed low and way outside. Hmmm. Surely he'll be wary of that one, I think. Strikes two and three: Same pitch, same location, same lunging swipe by Floyd, and that was all she wrote.

Tom Glavine gets the ball tonight at the BoB. He'll be opposed by the pride of Ashland, KY, Brandon Webb. The Mets are 3 games out of the wild card.

* Although he got very defensive when asked to reconcile this criticism with his approval of Frank Robinson's pulling his positional regulars at the same point in the game. His argument was that pitchers get four days of rest anyway, while the positional guys don't. I'll leave it to you, dear reader, to find the flaw(s) in that one.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Young Master Duke

It says something about my love of baseball that a night at Shea which includes a rather lengthy performance of Pakistani music followed by the sight of my beloved Mets getting thoroughly mystified by a 22 year-old could still be so enjoyable.

Pittsburgh phenom Zach Duke carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning, Jose Castillo had two doubles (both times getting greedy and hosed at third), Brad Eldred took V. Zambrano deep, even Ryan Doumit went 3-4. It was generally an embarrassing night for the home team.

Can I get something off my chest? The next time Fran Healy tells me how "exciting" a player Jose Reyes is, I'm going to put my head through my television screen.

He's not the only one saying it, either. Chris Russo has spoken highly of him recently and declared he's less and less interested about Reyes's OBP, as if he was that interested to begin with. Even the usually sensible Gary Cohen is developing a little bit of a crush on our little speedster's hit (138), steal (42), and run (72) totals.

I'm going to make my position on this as clear as possible: If you're a leadoff hitter, and you only reach base 29.4% of the time, you are crippling your team. There's nothing quite as unexciting a 1-2-3 inning, and batting Reyes leadoff is just about the best way to go about it.

I don't care how many hits he's racked up (through constant, mostly powerless hacking), bases he's stolen, or runs he's personally scored. It's not enough to make up for the veritable torrent of outs he's making. When he does something productive, yes it's exciting. But mostly what excites me is my favorite team scoring runs and winning games, and Reyes isn't producing nearly enough.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Damn, Aaron.

After last night's 2 innings in relief of Tom Glavine, Aaron Heilman's line for the month of August looks like this: 7.2 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 12 K.

Glavine himself gave up nine hits, but only Jason Bay's solo shot scored a run. I got to hand it to the guy, he's eaten up innings (150, which means that 2006 option is going to vest. Sorry fellas.)and hasn't given up as many runs (4.26 ERA) as I was expecting. I thought he was going to be awful, but instead he's been Kirk Rueter ca. 2001.

Beltran started and looked quite good. No visible twitching in the batter's box or happy feet in center. He went 1-2 with 2 walks and a very clean steal; he also scored from 1st on what should have been a single. He's done that twice in the last week or so. It's fun to watch.

Yusmeiro Petit did the nasty to the Portland Sea Dogs yesterday: 8 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 12 K. (asssist: metsblog). I'm happy we still have Milledge, but I'm happier we still have him.

Gotta cut this short today. Off to Shea for a pregame event. Don't want to get into it though, for fear of getting dooced.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Benson, Mets take opener. Plus: A blind taste test

A couple thoughts on last night's game:

Benson's 2-RBI base hit was not the from the pitcher-trying-not-to-embarrass-himself playbook. It was not a bloop, bleeder or flare. It was a frozen rope single, the kind Edgardo Alfonzo used to hit all the time back in the day. Timely, too.

Victor Diaz in right field: Boy, I don't know. He was charged with an error in the 9th inning after he overran Tike Redman's single, turning it into a double.

"Overran" makes it sound a lot better than it looked, though. It was if he was running towards a completely different baseball, much further towards center field than the actual one, until he realized it (too late) and reversed course so violently that his feet almost came out from under him.

I hope Mike Cameron saw it, unless laughing is too painful in his post-operative state. That Diaz barely managed to remain upright is the only thing that kept him off SC/BBTN.

Time to play "Name Those Mets":

Player A: 351 AB, .259/.326/.444
Player B: 111 AB, .261/.328/.441

That's about as identical as two hitting lines get. Player A is Mike Piazza, and Player B is Ramon Castro. This is pretty unfortunate. I was in favor of the Castro signing, but I didn't expect or want him to challenge Piazza for offensive supremacy. That's just bad news.

Those batting lines could diverge quickly, but the current picture suggests that, considering the defensive chasm between the two (Piazza CS% update: 12 for 81), the playing time distribution going forward may have less and less to do with keeping Mike fresh.

Last night's game filled me with optimism, as wins often do. Our boys have 44 more games to play, they're 3.5 out of the wild card this morning, and right now they've got the Pirates at home. The outlook isn't all that bad.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Dodgers spoil Pedro's no-hitter, shutout, and win.

And just like that it was over. The Dodgers won again, leaving the Mets with little but their dignity (their health having fallen by the wayside last week).

How do the Mets' postseason chances look now? In a word: ugly. The Braves have all but wrapped up their Nth division title, and no fewer than four games and four teams stand between our boys and the wild card spot.

All the same, it's still possible, and let me get something off my chest right now: the Mets, while technically (okay in every sense) the NL East's fifth place team, are grossly misrepresented by the "last place" moniker.

Their record is 7th in the league. The fact that four of the six teams ahead of them are in their division shouldn't be held against them. Quite the opposite, they've won more games than the Cubs, Padres, Dodgers, and six others, despite playing a significantly harder schedule!

Moreover, if you look at Expected W-L records, the Mets and Astros are tied for the league's third best record and the wild card.

Call the Mets a last place team if you must. It's undeniably true. But bear in mind they may be the best last-place team in baseball history.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Mets Lose Game, Outfield

That was gruesome.

It is now being reported, though it hardly qualifies as news, that Mike Cameron will require facial surgery to repair multiple fractures of his cheekbones and nose. Carlos Beltran isn't expected to need surgery, but x-rays did show a "slight facial fracture."

The Times's Lee Jenkins closes his piece with a rather ghoulish bit of post facto foreshadowing:

"Going into the season, the Mets acknowledged that having two center fielders in the everyday lineup posed some risk. During an interview about potential collisions in spring training, Beltran said: 'The center fielder has priority. If the center fielder calls, you've got to get out of the way.'

Cameron countered: 'I'm not going to change my game. I have to play the same style I always have.'"

There was the usual handwringing about how this sort of collision should be avoidable. You get the feeling Lee thinks so, anyway, but I think Cliff Floyd got it right (courtesy ESPN):

"I knew those guys were so competitive... You try to block that out when they run together, two center fielders. They're taught to chase the ball. They're taught to give it everything."

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Benson Revisited

Kris Benson baffled the Padres for eight plus innings and David Wright drove in six runs as the Mets took game two in a blowout.

Benson, you will recall, was the centerpiece of the other "Black Friday" deadline trade last season. Jim Duquette acquired him and 2B Jeff Keppinger from the Pirates for Ty Wigginton, prospects Matt Peterson (SP) and Jose Bautista (3B).

After last night's performance, Benson's ERA stands at 3.54, which ranks 18th in the league. He's lost a few starts to injury, but it's becoming harder to construe his 3-year/22.5MM extension as a sign of the fiscal apocalypse. He's earned his money this year. It's taken a career year for him to do so, but a career year is exactly what he's delivered so far.

Wigginton was never much of an asset, and was sent down in June. As for the two prospects, they are both currently at Double-A Altoona, where Eastern League hitters have been bludgeoning Peterson to the tune of a 6.16 ERA over 111 innings. It's not bad luck, either. He's surrendered 18 home runs and 64(!) walks against only 61 strikeouts.

His record somehow stands at 10-7, which tells you all you need to know about wins and losses. While there's clearly not much to miss in Peterson, it appears that what must be his fantastic run support has owed no small debt to the production of Bautista.

Never having played in the Mets organization, (he was shipped off shortly after arriving from KC), Bautista's age-24 season has been quite impressive. In almost 400 AB, he's hit .281/.367/.494 for the Curve, with 20 homers and 22 doubles. He strikes out a lot, 94 times already, but he draws his share of walks (45) too.

As Matt points out over at MetsBlog, we'll never know whether the trade, as opposed to simply signing him as a FA, was really necessary; and Bautista looks like a decent bet to have a major league career. On the other hand, the Mets need a 24 year-old third base prospect like a fish needs a Blackberry, and Kris Benson has hardly disappointed.

For all the good it does him, Jim Duquette looks a little bit smarter this week.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Pedro gave up 5. Remain calm.

First of all: Nice catch, David.

Unfortunately, it only served to help keep the score respectable, as Pedro gave up five runs, including homers to Brian Giles and the less-than-beastly Khalil Greene, in his five innings of work. Chan Ho Park, meanwhile, looked fiendishly effective against the NYM lineup, allowing two runs and striking out 8 in 5.2 IP. Padres win, 8-3.

Unsurprisingly, Pedro's outing has elicited some concern from fans and in the media. It was, after all, his worst start of the year, and his third consecutive start for which he was not credited with the much revered "W".

For another thing, to the extent that we kept our post-signing expectations cautiously optimistic, Pedro has surpassed them in spectacular fashion. For a fan base still nursing the psychic scars left by the FA acquisitions of Vaughn, Alomar, Burnitz et al, Pedro's 2005 has been a wonderful and wholly unfamiliar ride.

So it only seems reasonable at this point in the season to wonder when the other shoe is going to drop, Pedro-wise. As has been pointed out in many spaces, including this one, he's thrown honey bunches of innings this season. His 157 IP ranks 5th in the league, and projects to 232 for the season, which, as Andrew at C'nD points out, would be his highest mark since 1998.

He's 33, slightly built, and no stranger to shoulder injury, yet appears to be getting yoked like a prize ox. Something is clearly wrong with this picture.

As it happens, there is. The number of innings he's thrown is the result of Pedro's uncanny efficiency, not medieval or shortsighted handling by Randolph and Peterson. On average, Pedro has needed 14.0 pitches per inning. That's the lowest figure in the National League.*

Venture a guess how many NL starting pitchers have thrown more pitches than Pedro this season? More than 4 (the number with more IP), surely. Maybe 8? 12? Try 18. After runaway leader Livan Hernandez, they include pitchers of varying ages and styles. Chris Capuano (#4), Noah Lowry (#6**), and Jeff Weaver (T13) are just a few of the many NL starters who have required more pitches to complete fewer innings than No. 45.

But wait, there's MORE evidence that Pedro hasn't been overworked!

Baseball Prospectus keeps a statistic called Pitcher Abuse Points, which looks not only at the number of innings and pitches but how they are distributed on a start-to-start basis. Studies have shown a pitch count distribution of, for example, 140-120-100 to be more harmful than 120-120-120. In other words it's the really grueling outings that hurt.

By this measure, Pedro is off the charts... as in taking much scrolling to find, down in 90th place. That's all MLB (no league filter, oddly), but the list of NL starters who've taken more abuse per BP includes Brian Lawrence, Vicente Padilla, even Jerome Williams! That's right, Felipe Alou and Dusty Baker have combined to ride Jerome Williams harder than Willie's been riding Pedro. That's both shocking and reassuring.

Yes, Pedro got hit yesterday, and his velocity was down. But his velocity's been down all season, and it hasn't stopped him from dominating opposing hitters, striking them out in droves and not giving up walks. That the Padres rapped out 9 hits against him, including 2 homers, is more disappointing to me than it is worrisome. Just tip your cap to the Friars and wait for Pedro's next start.

He may not finish the season with a sub-3 ERA, but there's little to suggest that his workload or slower fastball will prevent him from doing so.

* He trails three American Leaguers: the rather freakish Carlos Silva (12.0), usual suspect Roy Halladay (13.5), and unusual suspect Jason Johnson (13.9). It's worth noting that none of these superefficient performances include K-rates remotely ressembling Martinez's. Efficiency vs. Dominance is usually an either/or proposition.

** Lowry's thrown a whopping 17.9 pitches per inning, most in the NL behind teammate Jason Schmidt.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Jae Seo Crazy

I know Saturday was a long time ago now, but I haven't yet had the chance to applaud Jae Seo's dominant return to the rotation.

It's the kind of thing that makes me happy, especially when I stick my neck out like Lefty Ruggiero for this guy in the comments section, where certain skeptics thought I was being foolish or naive for anticipating marked improvement from Ishii's production.

I wanted to pull Jae aside and tell him (through Edgar Lee, the team's in-house Korean interpreter) that he's my guy now, and that means no one can touch him. And on Saturday, against Mets-owner Greg Maddux, the Cubs rarely did.

Come Sunday, the baseball world turned its attention to a matchup so historic, so statistically improbable, that only the stage of ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball could accomodate its grandeur. I refer, of course, to Zambrano v. Zambrano.

No, that's not a typo. Those were the last names of the two starting pitchers, and they're both the same... I know it freaked me out too.

All kidding aside, Victor added to the night's already dangerous "whodathunkit" quotient by thoroughly outpitching Carlos, the better and more famous Zambrano who left the game with a groin injury.

The Mets ended up winning the game by a score of 6-1, which was really ideal for me because I was/am participating in a little 2-week sportsbetting hedge fund with my uncles that included a straight wager on the Under 7.5, which was in constant peril but held up in the end.

Tonight the Mets begin their three-game series at San Diego, sitting 6.5 games out of the division lead and 3 games behind Houston in the wild card. For all the talk of the Mets' home-road splits, there's not much being made of their increasingly impressive run differential, which stands at +46 and produces an Expected W-L record of 61-50. In other words, they're playing like the 4th best team in the league.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Bonehead move, Willie

Wednesday Night:

Before the first pitch, Cohen and Rose reported that there was a rumor going around that Kaz Ishii was queued up as a long man behind Pedro Martinez tonight.

I'm going to be an optimist and assume there is little reason to expect needing one. Pedro's pitched into the 7th in 17 of his 21 starts, so it could only be a sign of injury or strict pitch count. Regardless, Ishii has finally been evicted from the rotation. This is happy news indeed. He has proven to be less valuable than Jason Phillips, less valuable than a replacement level pitcher (salary per ESPN: $2.58M), and generally a huge liability that no amount of Rick Peterson mojo could fix.

Meanwhile Jae Seo can finally stop asking himself what in God's name he needs to do to take that job back. He's been putting in very solid work at Norfolk (4.29 ERA, 111 K/30 BB in 121.2 IP) and looked great in his brief early-season stint for big club.

Pedro is not looking (sounding, actually) on top of his game. Milwaukee scored two runs in the 2nd, on two doubles and a single, and he has yet to strike a Brewer out.

Thursday Afternoon:

I guess I did a good deal of nagging about moving David Wright up in the lineup, but I really haven't gone off on Willie for any particular in-game decision he's made. It's time. Leaving Braden Looper out there to lose the game is inexcusable.

Looper was obviously spent from his 35-pitch outing the night before, and isn't really "lights out" when he does have his 96mph stuff. Meanwhile, Juan Padilla, who's become my favorite reliever since Heath Bell, was just sitting there in the bullpen. He had thrown only 14 pitches is his inning of August 2, and was just waiting to put his cool glasses on and go dommo the Brewers.

But no, Willie went with the Proven Closer because it was the 9th inning and bringing anyone else in, even a guy who's been as effective as Padilla, invites (more) postgame criticism if the non-Closer gets smacked around.

We'll never know how that game would have turned out otherwise, but it was a terrible managerial decision nonetheless. So a bitterly sarcastic "Nice work" to Willie Randolph.

Thursday Late Afternoon:

Roberto Hernandez just spit the bit for the second time in two games, this time in spectacular fashion. 1 inning, 6 hits, 1 walk, 5 runs. The 9-7 ninth inning lead became a 12-9 deficit. It looks like they're going to lose to the Brewers again.

More on this game tomorrow. They're down to their final out now (D. Wright, 1st and 3rd), and I'm not going to want to write about it for a little while.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Cameron jacks up Turnbow, Mets win in 11

What a game.

I'm not generally sold on the effect of intangibles. For example, if a player, let's call him "Mike Cameron," starts raking on July 31, many if not all commentators weigh in with some version of the following:

"[Mike]'s been dealing with the distraction of speculation about his future, reading his name in the headlines* every day. Now that all those rumors have subsided, he can get back to just playing baseball and the production has followed."

It makes sense enough, but correlation does not imply causation, and with this as with many other intangible/off-the-field influences I have a tough time buying in. On the other hand, there's no disputing that the actual Mike Cameron is 7 for his last 11. "Blowing up" as it were, including last night's super-timely solo HR off Derrick "Who's Derrick" Turnbow. Maybe he does feel more relaxed when he knows he's not about to get sent packing, but it still doesn't prove causation, I don't even care what he says himself.

As most of you have probably figured by now, Mike's a pretty whiny guy. So in the postgame interview, when Ed Coleman puts the storyline (trade rumors were preventing him from hitting) to him in question form, of course Mike's going to talk about how he's had to stay "professional" despite everything he's had to "deal with."

Anyway the bottom line is the Mets survived a historically, trivia-answer-type disastrous start by Victor Zambrano and came back from 6-2 down.

Aaron Heilman is looking like a Cash Money Millionaire in the bullpen, striking out five in 2.2 scoreless. Why is Kaz Ishii still in the rotation again?

Looper got into a little bit of trouble in the top of the 11th, but K'ed his way out of it, just like a dominant closer! Sure it was Russell Branyan and Damian Miller, neither of whom are total strangers to strike three, but it was a clutch showing regardless.

Of course it ended on Piazza's pinch-hit base on balls. I loved his comment after the game: "I've hit into double plays in those situations." We know, Mike, but you didn't this time and we're proud of you.

* Usually these players' names are actually only found in the body of the article. They get listed either before or after top flight prospects as part of a larger package to be exchanged for players with names like "Manny" and "Soriano," who are in the headlines proper, but commentators don't want to be jerks about it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I'll run (naked) with this one

Last time I passed on a hot tip, I regretted it. So without further ado, I'd like to direct your attention to a friend of a friend.

It occured to me yesterday evening, after posting here, that THE story of the day was Rafael Palmeiro failing a drug test, and I didn't even mention it in passing. I made a joke when the "Juiced" controversy was in full swing about Palmeiro not being above better living through chemistry.

I acknowledged that he, Pudge and Juan Gonzalez would make pretty likely suspects for steroid use, but I didn't think that meant they actually were, ya know, juiced. Well it looks like Raffy was after all.

And, AND - I admit to taking perverse pleasure in this sort of thing (see also: Rush Limbaugh's painkiller addiction) - he'd denied it in front of Congress, under oath of course, and participated in something called the "Zero Tolerance Roundtable"!

That's how I like my athlete/celebrity public humiliation: served in generous portions with all the fixins.

Anyway, back to the New York Metropolitans... Tonight at Shea: Victor Zambrano, coming off a positively gemlike 7-inning performace at Coors last week, takes the hill against Milwaukee. He will be opposed by former National Tomo Ohka, who is the kind of pitcher that the Mets have an unfortunate habit of making look awfully good. Ohka is really much closer to bad, and I'll be disappointed if we don't begin another Sisyphean push over the .500 mark right away.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Nothing to see here

Well, nothing happened.

There was no "Bloody Sunday," or "Shortsighted Saturday" or any other easily nicknamed day in organizational history.

Manny Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano and (sigh) Adam Dunn all still work for their former employers, while Lastings Milledge, Yusmeiro Petit and Brian Bannister remain safely ensconced in the warm bosom of the New York Mets' farm system.

As I pointed out Saturday to the FAN's Adam Schein (never thought I'd be "Brian from Brooklyn" but there it is), Mr. Milledge seems to be sporting a rather large halo for a guy who has yet to hit his fifth home run of the 2005 season.

He hit four in 232 AB at St. Lucie, and while he's posted a .324 average at Binghamton, I'd like to see some power from our consenus Top Prospect. Call me unreasonable, but it is one of the five tools, right? I'll save my concerns about his SB% for another time (hint: he gets caught frequently).

Meanwhile, in Houston, the boys salvaged the last game of the four game series, averting total catastrophe and escaping the Juice Box with a mere savage beating. Strange that it should come against Oswalt, but isn't it always the way?

I followed this one by the out-of-town scoreboard at Yankee Stadium, where I was taking in the Empire's 11-inning barnburner with Los Angeles Angeles. My younger cousin Holly, seated to my left at the Stadium and appreciating how bummed out I would have been about a Houston sweep, was nice enough not to point out that the Mets had fallen behind 4-3 in the 6th inning (I admit I was getting into the game in front of me, junior circuit or no), calling my attention to the score only when they had tied it in the 7th. So thoughtful, that Holly.

The series still put the boys squarely behind the eight ball, wildcard-wise, while the Braves, led by Jeff "The White Guerrero" Francoeur, have been putting the division back in the hammerlock to which it should by now be accustomed.

A heroic run could still be in the offing, but losing the first three games in Houston probably made it a little easier for Omar to think long term about the deals being discussed.

Speaking of which, BP did a simple but informative breakdown (in today's "Damned Lies..." [$]) of the proposed Manny deal, which estimated that the remainder of Ramirez's contract will net a loss of over $20 million for its holder.

I had been of the opinion that whatever the financial ramifications, trading Manny seemed like a good way to hurt the Sox's repeat chances. While that's probably still true, the right package of players in return, combined with the massive unburdening of Manny's remaining contract years, might have made it a good deal for the BoSox in the medium-term.

I would like to have seen him in the Mets, lineup, with his hair spraying out the right side of his helmet and the ball hurtling off his bat, but this was probably a good non-deal for Omar to make.

Friday, July 29, 2005

I do not accept being beaten by Brad Ausmus

Seriously. Mets fans can stomach an awful lot, but one thing they can't stomach is the sight of a relief pitcher giving up a game-winning double to that guy.

I've been calling for patience on the C. Beltran issue but I'm starting to lose it with him. Some O-fers are harder to take than others, and on a night when Miguel Cairo and Cameron are the only ones pulling any weight for Pedro, this was an especially poor night for him to disappear.

I know he was getting booed mercilessly on the field as well as at the plate (as if he was a lifelong Astro and not an obvious rental from the outset). If that was a source of discomfort or embarassment for him, I don't care. He was facing a rookie pitcher in a hitter's park. Offense must ensue.

Reader Coop had a good comment on Tuesday's post. I replied in that space and I'll add to that the following: if we end up packaging one or more of the "Big Four" prospects (Milledge, Petit, Bannister, Hernandez) in a deal to acquire, jointly or severally, Daryle Ward and Jose Mesa, I will be far, far more pissed than I would be at a comparable deal for Soriano.

In any case it sounds like Soriano-to-Cubs is now at least as likely as Soriano-to-Mets.

The Post reports that discussions have taken place with the Red Sox regarding Manny Ramirez, but that such a deal is unlikely. It also points out what most of us have probably figured out by now: Mike Cameron can be had.


I couldn't help but notice that our starting 1B last night was Marlon Anderson. I'm sorry but that just can't happen. This may not be the time to sell the farm for a better shot at the playoffs, but nor is it the time to tolerate this complete absence of a major league first baseman on our roster. I hasten to point out that I was not late to, but rather an organizer of, the "Doug Mientkiewicz Sucks" party.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

THANK you!

That is what I am discussing!

A six run inning, a pair of home runs from an unlikely source; the kind of outburst that needs to happen at least once in the zero gravity XBH-chamber that houses the league's worst team. I didn't just want to avoid the sweep. I wanted them embarrassed, and took no less pleasure in it for the absence of Todd Helton.

Gary Cohen was in rare form, too. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who sees the demise of the Nationals as a question of "when" rather than "if". Nor am I the only one that's relishing their slide down the standings. Cohen, too, sounds decidedly annoyed that they had somehow managed to win so many games while getting outscored. A couple of lines (not verbatim): "You can only play above your head for so long." and "They'd been doing it with pitching, but their pitching... well it's not really that good!" Tell 'em, Gary.

Metsblog drops the dime on this Star-Ledger story, which makes it sound like some incarnation of the Soriano-Milledge/Godknowswhatelse deal almost got dunn. As much as I hate to say it, I'm wondering if maybe Francesa had a point the other day about how small a chance blue chip prospects have to become actual blue chip big leaguers. "Remember when Alex Escobar was untouchable?" Touche, Mikey, Touche.

My only retort: "Remember when we could have dealt David Wright for some schwaggy 4th SP?"

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

He's Canadian, ya know

Maybe tonight's the night the Mets score more than three runs in Colorado.

Last night the story was 2004 minor league POY Jeff Francis, who does a truly incredible job at altitude (3.94 ERA at home, 6.94 away). The Amazin's also failed to take advantage of a good number of scoring opportunities; stranding 15 baserunners is no way to win baseball games. Yes I'm looking at you, Mr. Cameron (0-5, 4 K, 5 LOB).

On the positive side, Juan Padilla had another solid outing. I was out of commission when he was called up, so I haven't gotten around to praising the move, which may have been slightly overdue. He had been dominating the International League all season, and looks like he can handle high leverage innings. The glasses help, I think.

On the trade front, BP's Will Carroll wrote yesterday that "the current consensus is that they're asking for Lastings Milledge, Yusmeiro Petit, and would love to get Mike Cameron into the deal somehow." That's too much. Not as bad as the reported Mark Redman for top FLA prospect Jeremy Hermida, but bad.

NYP's Joel Sherman reports that the Mets' front office is probably expecting Texas to lower their demands for Soriano as the deadline approaches, and that if the package were pared down to Milledge, Heilman, and another (presumably non-Petit/Bannister) prospect, Omar would "git 'er done." Getting Piazza off the books next year would make re-signing Soriano that much easier.

My two cents on the Kenny Rogers business: I don't see how anyone, from the players' association or wherever, could possibly have a leg to stand on in appealing the 20-game suspension. It was pretty much unprovoked assault, which don't think MLB should permit.

For sheer craziness, he easily trumped Ron Artest. I don't think Rogers should have gone to the All-Star Game, not because it would have been less of a story, but because it would have showed some humility. Anyway, I'm glad to see the appeal was denied.


Sorry about the sporadic posts and changing template, etc. Trying to work out the kinks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Mets drop opener to Rocks, Reyes, trade rumors etc.

Last night's game was sort of bizarre, with the Mets putting together one and only one scoring inning on Planet Coors. Jose Acevedo, whom I once expected to become a quality #2 or #3 starter last year in Cincinnati (derailed by terrible gopheritis), set our boys down in order more often than not.

I was genuinely surprised to see the Mets lose this game, right up until the moment Piazza broke his bat to make the last out. I wasn't expecting Glavine to shut down the Rockies by any means, but the offense had been clicking rather nicely, and I thought they would put up at least two if not three innings like their 3-run fourth. They put plenty of balls in play, but none of their 9 flies had quite enough on them.

Jose Reyes's bat maintained its unusually high temperature, including his major league-leading 11th triple. This one was different from most of the others in that it wasn't a double that he managed to stretch into a triple; it was a triple that, for Reyes, didn't even require a slide into third base. He had time for a light snack before the throw came in. He's still not a good hitter, or even acceptable in the leadoff spot, but the guy is really, really fast.

The latest on the trade front is that Omar is still in talks with the Rangers about Alfonso Soriano, which is quite exciting, I must admit. Unfortunately, it sounds like the Texas front office is making demands that would make a seasoned Columbian kidnapper feel a little bit sheepish.

On Mike and the Mad Dog this afternoon (recap courtesy of Metsblog), Omar expressed openness to making "the right deal" for a big-name player, but added that he was not entirely in a "2005 mindset."

Of course, no GM is going to get on the FAN and tell Francesa "I want [Player X] desperately and will do whatever it takes to get him." All the same, it sounds like Omar really is more reluctant to gut the farm system of its crown jewels than Jim Duquette was.

Here's my take on the situation: I'd really like to get Soriano, and believe that doing so would put the team in a very strong position for the division or the Wild Card. On the other hand, he'd be a rental, and none of Lastings Milledge, Yusmeiro Petit or Brian Bannister are too far away from the Show at this point. What about Soriano-Reyes straight up? Huh?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Two out of four ain't bad... wait

It's two out of three that's not bad. Two out of four is pretty marginal, especially at home. On aggregate, we creamed the Braves 15-9, but this is not the Champions League, so 2-2 it is.

It's a little bit disappointing after the huge, seemingly inspirational 6-3 win in Friday's opener, but what else could we expect from this Mets team that's treating the .500 mark like a safe haven from which it dare not stray too far?

On the bright side, Sunday's game was pretty sweet. Pedro showed no signs of mortality, fanning five and walking zero in his six innings. He was so economical (61 pitches), in fact, that Tom et al in the WPIX booth were downright alarmed that Willie pulled him when he did. They were thinking there'd be no reason other than injury to take him out of a six run game.

I like the move. A lot. Our de facto Franchise Player on pace for 235 innings pitched, which is kind of a lot for a guy with his history of shoulder problems. As Willie said, "anytime I can take Pedro out leading 6-0, I'll do it and that's what I did." Hear, hear.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Big Ups to the Brew Crew

I'd like to thank the Milwaukee Brewers for doing the impossible: beating the f'ing ex-Expos this afternoon. It wasn't easy, as John Patterson was incredibly good (box score), but by God they pulled it out at the end.

The Mets thereby move to within 7.5 games of their truly baffling lead. I wrote some pretty unflattering stuff about the Nats ("chew toy" etc.) which looks pretty stupid at the moment. I don't care. I stand by it. They suck, and soon enough will start losing games accordingly.

Anyway back to the Metropolitans... I'm probably not the only one thinking this, but tonight's game seems like a biggie. Sadly, Jose Reyes will probably still be leading off. What happened with the lineup demotion, btw? Trial over? OBP issues corrected? He's a leadoff hitter again? WTF?

Against the Bravos, I'd like the Mets to take, oh I don't know, three out of four, maybe? It seems like a lot to ask, but it's a home series and the only alternative is an unsatisfying split. No, I'm not even entertaining thoughts of an ATL series win.

I'm talking about a little momentum, a little positive movement away from the .500 mark, and maybe some added confidence to start the post-ASB portion of the 2005 season. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Kris Benson gets the start tonight against Horacio Ramirez, who is having a terrible year but used to just shackle the Mets offense (insert joke about the difficulty of doing so here).


OF prospect Lastings Milledge is on his way to Double-A Binghamton... and there was much rejoicing.

Now for the bad news: Doug Mienkiewicz is almost done w/ rehab.

Maybe we should trade for Mark Prior*. He's awesome.

* Disclaimer: I'm kidding, and know this isn't possible.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Take your pick

As frustrating as it is to lose games because of late-inning defensive lapses or rally-killing double plays, they are at least understandable as part of the game on the field. Players will screw up, sometimes at awful moments, but it's bearable because we know deep down it's simply unreasonable to expect every play to be executed flawlessly. What would be the fun in that?

However, I hardly think it's unreasonable to expect the team's management to make optimal use of the organization's talent, and put the best players on the field whenever possible.

In that spirit, I'd like to call attention to the performances of Kaz Ishii, Tom Glavine, Jae Seo and Aaron Heilman.

As you can see, they are listed in order of VORP (courtesy of BP), which is a cumulative/ playing-time-dependent measure of runs prevented. Strangely, the two pitchers who
have been most valuable have done so in markedly fewer innings than their somehow entrenched teammates.

The case of Ishii is especially dire. When the ERA exceeds the K-rate, and the BB-rate by only slightly more, that's a good indication that you're looking at a disastrous pitching line.

Omar, Willie, let's figure this little puzzle out in the 2nd half. It's not that difficult.

Player IP ERA K/9 BB/9 VORP
Aaron Heilman 68.0 4.63 8.07 2.51 8.4
Jae Seo 18.0* 2.00 7.00 1.50 7.5
Tom Glavine 102.0 4.94 4.06 3.62 6.4
Kaz Ishii 74.3 5.57 5.69 4.36 -2.4

* At Norfolk: 104.3 IP, 3.19 ERA, 100 K, 26 BB.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Bob Digital

Had I been forced to put down money on the outcome of last night's derby, Bobby Abreu would not have been my horse.

Despite being the game's Most Underrated Player for, oh, the last five years or so, his career high for HR in a season is a relatively modest 31 in 2001. If the derby gave credit for doubles, of which he's good for about 40 to 50 per annum, maybe, but that would first require the event to undergo a cumbersome name change (the 2006 Right Guard X-treme Xtra Base Challenge? Boo).

Plus Mark Teixeira, besides leading the AL in home runs with 25 at this point, has the combination of bulk and a certain vacant, manchildish look about him that, to me, practically screams "derby winner."

So I was one of the many surprised that it was Abreu who turned Comerica Park into his personal driving range, shattering Miguel Tejada's not-exactly-legendary-but-c'mon record of 15 home runs in a HRD round.

Joe Morgan, who can usually be counted on to say something offensive to reason, made the startling point that this display (Bobby was at around 18 at the time, working up a pretty good lather) was evidence not of his power but of his ability to hit for contact.

Joe, come back to us, buddy. Can you see how far away the upper deck is in right field? Could contact hitter par excellence Ichiro! put one there if his life and the lives of his whole family depended on it? That was power. Especially the 517-footer (#2 tape-measure shot behind Sosa).

Then Jason Bay strode to the plate, and I swear to God I saw it coming.

I'm a Jason Bay Fan, mind you, owning him on my fantasy team and enjoying his .299/.384/.546 production. But following Abreu he just looked real skinny, young, and pale up there. To say nothing of scared. And sure enough, he didn't come all that close to hitting one out, producing mostly scorching grounders down the third base line. I felt pretty bad for him. That's got to be crushing, millionaire ballplayer or no.

Tonight we get the actual game, started by Chris Carpenter of the 13 wins and Mark Buehrle of the preposterous control. I guess we should root pretty hard for the boys in day-glo (i.e. NL. I don't know who comes up w/ the unis), so the Mets will have home field in the Series.



I was very much in favor of the idea of trading for Gary Sheffield, but that doesn't preclude me from being laugh-out-loud appalled at some of the stuff that comes out of his mouth.

The day after I wrote my - I suppose "slavering" isn't too strong a word - post on the subject, Sheffield basically threatened not to play (hard) if he was traded across town. That's pretty unprofessional.

Now, on the subject of the World Baseball Classic, he's opined: "My season is when I get paid..." and "I'm not sacrificing my body or taking a chance on an injury for something that's made up."

I'll grant that calling a newly organized event a "Classic" is a little ridiculous, but international competition is more the rule in professional sports (esp. soccer, basketball) than it is the exception.

You have to respect the straightforwardness, I suppose (Scott McCleland he ain't), but damn, Sheff, Why you so mad?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Lesson Learned

When my undermedicated cousin, "Vox in Silvam (voice in the woods?)" tells me to write about something, I damn well better write about it.

He alerted me this morning, via a no doubt enormously self-satisfied email, that Vinny at No Joy in Metsville has picked up on Kang v. Cowbell Man, including its controversial nonappearance here.

I shied away from the story for several reasons:

1. I don't know Bryan M. Kang.
2. I'm only vaguely familiar with Cowbell Man.
3. My only source was this virulently anti-religious rabble rouser.
4. I just didn't care that much.

Of course, had I known enough to expect the usual fallout in the comments section, I might have done differently.

Anyway back to the baseball team at hand...

As everyone is well aware by now, Friday's 6-5 loss was an absolute fiasco. As I've said before, Looper may not be nearly as good as he was last year. He might, ya know, suck. His peripherals are getting downright Rueteresque (3.93 K/9).

Then there was a Kaz Ishii start, and we all know how those tend to go. Actually, Ishii was only responsible for 4 of Pittsburgh's 11 runs. Straight Flushing fave Heath Bell (4 R in 0.2 IP), and miserable excuse for a big league reliever Danny Graves (3 R in 0.0 IP) made sure that no Met comeback would be in the offing.

Yesterday was a lot better, as Pedro locked down his tenth win in dominating fashion, supported by a solid offensive performance which of course included the obligatory Carlos Beltran home run.

It's a little disheartening to be at .500 at the break, which is even worse than last year, but a lot of teams are in worse shape... sure, none of them are in our division, but still...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Let's hear it for Willie

On the anniversary of our great nation's independence, Willie Randolph finally removed Jose Reyes from the top of the NYM lineup card like the benign 160-lb tumor that he's been.

Here's the story on It includes some quotes that make my heart soar with boundless optimism of a cynical, quantitative sort.

For example: "We're a team that likes to use our speed, but you can't really use your speed as much if you don't get on base," Randolph said. "We need to set it up to where we score early."

That's the kind of talk that's apt to provoke a collective O-face from the team's more sabermetrically-inclined fans.

The new lineup featured Cameron hitting leadoff, followed by Beltran, Floyd, Piazza, Marlon Anderson and David Wright. Reyes hit seventh, and promptly went 2-4 with a ribbie and his 24th stolen base.

It still leaves a lot to be desired. For one thing, it still puts David Wright to marginal use in the bottom half of the order (No, I don't think this particular horse is dead yet. Why?). I need to do more research to see if any explanation for this has been offered. For another, it still insists that Mike Piazza is a cleanup hitter.

But getting Reyes and his stomach-churning OBP out of the leadoff spot is a masterstroke. That Reyes bears all the traditional trappings of a leadoff man (i.e. speed and contact hitting) makes it a little gutsy as well. Kudos.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Git 'er done, Omar!

Cameron for Sheffield?

Do it. Do it yesterday. Do it twice.

As long as the "throw-ins" do not include the likes of Petit, Milledge or Bannister, I say do the damn thing.

It's true that Cameron's offensive numbers on the season are looking very comparable to Sheffield's, and then there's the whole elite defense thing, but bear with me.

After returning from the DL, Cameron set the world on fire in May, hitting .372/.476/.686. "Mashing," if you will. Of course that sort of hitting is grotesquely out of line with his (or most others, I suppose, but especially his) career norms, and he's given a lot of that back in June.

Sheffield is old (36), and expensive (11.5M this year), and thus is the kind of player that is usually courted by teams who haven't been struggling to stay at .500.

On the other hand, my fondness for this year's roster is well-documented, and I believe the offensive improvement of Sheffield, who is still capable of MVP-type numbers, over Cameron could put them on a pace for the division title or wild card.

Meanwhile, I don't see Cameron, 32 himself, as a cornerstone of the next great Mets team, like say a Kazmir. That he was a jerk about the move to right is neither here nor there, as far as I'm concerned (he really is better in center than C-Biscuit). It just makes him more valuable to the Yankees than to the Mets.

In short, if it's possible to get Sheffield for Cameron without tossing in any blue chip youngsters, it'd be freakin' sweet.

As for last night's game, it was a joy to listen to, right up until the moment when Danny Graves entered the game. As Gary Cohen pointed out, it's been a "free look" for the Mets, since he cleared waivers, but you can get a look at a gruesome car accident for free too. It don't make it pretty.

Zambrano, despite giving new meaning to the word "inefficient," kept the Phillies off the board, striking out seven in the process. Roy Halladay he ain't, but he's been respectable, which is better than I was prepared for.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

What role are our Role Players playing?

Baseball Prospectus's "Hit List" ranks the Mets 17th this week. Characterizing Beltran, fairly I must admit, as looking "completely out to lunch," Jay Jaffe goes on to point an accusatory finger Omar's way.

General manager must be joining star outfielder at this metaphorical midday meal, because "how else to explain a roster which features Chris Woodward playing first base and Gerald Williams drawing a major-league paycheck?"

The man has a point.

Woodward, it should be noted, has been at least adequate (.315/.357/.438) in his 89 ABs this year. Unfortunately, this is as good as he's ever been, and it's still not what you want to see from a first baseman.

His career numbers are those of a replacement-level middle infielder, yet with Mientkiewicz hurt (and perhaps even healthy), he's been manning the most offense-intensive position on the diamond.

As for Gerald Williams, he's 0-1 on the season, so you could say the jury's still out. But this is a 38 year old who, over the last three seasons, has made as little as one can make of 177 ABs, "hitting" .192/.243/.333.

I had just assumed that he was garden variety reserve player, who wasn't good but couldn't be easily and inexpensively improved upon (i.e. replacement level). He's not, and moves will have to be made before he gets a single start.

In other news, John Rocker has been released by the Long Island Ducks, after striking out 19 and walking - get this - 28 in 18 IP. Said Ducks owner Frank Boulton: "We know the talent is there, and I'm sure we haven't heard the last from John in baseball."

To that I'd say: I don't think it is, and I really hope we have.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Sweep Squandered

Well, as hard as it was to watch Heilman, Ring, Hernandez, and Looper cough up the lead in the late innings, I found comfort in one of life's great truisms: easy come easy go.

Were it not for the comic ineptitude of the Yankee defense, there would not have been a three run lead to blow. Some "unearned" runs are the product of a questionable accounting system, but the Mets' three last night were actually undeserved.

When a second baseman boots a grounder as badly as Cano did, or when a shovel toss goes into the visiting dugout, you just thank God for small favors and hope to take advantage.

As it happened, the bullpen blew it big time.

For one thing, I hadn't realized just how outstanding Heilman's peripherals had become before they flashed his line on the screen last night. He gave up a couple base knocks, but his changeup looked legitimately nasty, even if his facial features are doughy and undefined.

I'm willing to give Royce Ring some more time before sending his free-pass-distributing ass back to Norfolk, but only because he's a youngster who may need it to calm the nerves and not because I have any doubts that said ass has been a serious liability.

And, Braden, if you had to do it over again, would you maybe throw a couple of strikes to Tino Martinez?

Oh well. Two of three at the Stadium ain't bad. The boys are off tonight before starting a home series with the Phillies, who seem to have relapsed like the patients in "Awakenings".

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Was that... offense?

Well that was reassuring.

Unusual suspects Mientkiewicz and Daubach each homered, the latter in a pinch-hitting capacity, and David Wright missed a third by about an inch, hitting the top of the railing in right-center.

Benson was hardly dominant, and surrendered the almost obligatory Pat Burrell moonshot, but he kept it respectable and Royce 5-9, Hernandez and Looper combined for three masterful innings.

Centerfielder and part-time whipping boy Carlos Beltran hit a single and a long double and looked, to my nonprofessional eye, to be running fast and without pain. Hopefully he'll be back to his historically good basestealing ways after the All-Star break.

During my absence, Willie Randolph went ahead and moved David Wright up to the #2 hole. To that I say Bravo, sir. Bravo. It took a little while but he's finally done right (N.P.I.) by the team's most (pending Beltran's return) productive hitter.

Zambrano gets the ball tonight against the young and wild Robinson Tejeda (nice ERA thus far, but peep these control issues). First one to the strike zone wins!

Actually, I give Vic a hard time, but he hasn't given up more than 3 runs in any of his seven starts since April 24.

No, I'm not superstitious. Why?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hiatuses, and Stop Killing Beltran

So tonight the Mets return from their day off, and I return from a somewhat longer absence.

As y0u are no doubt aware, our beloved team has been plummeting like a sack of 25 highly-paid rocks off the Whitestone Bridge, winning two (2) of their last eleven (11) games.

As much as it hurts to watch the Mets shrink in the Nationals' rear view mirror, my confidence in their ability to rebound remains intact.

This optimism, for which objective grounds are becoming admittedly scarce, has a lot to do with my skepticism towards any division rival's chances of running away.

But I also think the team will be better in the 2nd half, given even as few as 10 starts from Pedro (who really can't be expected to throw all the innings he's on pace for).

For one thing, I think the lineup is better than this. By "this" I mean the 15th ranked offense in the NL by OPS (733, ahead of only the Astros, whose 691 is just ghastly). It shouldn't continue.

During my vacation I listened to quite a bit of Mike and the Mad Dog, who were just crucifying Beltran for his perfomance this year.

There's no denying that his performance of .268/.323/.427, with one steal in three tries and some shaky D in center, has been dead weight at best.

He's still been a good deal better than Reyes, and our first baseman, but the media has given those two miles of slack.

As disappointing as Beltran's been in these 239 AB, I just can't take Russo seriously when he says, in that super-definitive tone those two have perfected, "Beltran's not a great player. A good player, but not up there with [list of elite players including A-Rod, Tejada etc.]"

If Carlos Beltran were healthy, and we've been told he's getting there, he would not have struggled this much. When he's fully healed, I expect the mediocrity to stop. There's just no reason to think it will continue.

Over the last three years, he's hit .281/.366/.523, in about 8 times the number of at-bats. He was a "Great" player as recently as last fall and I expect some version of that player to return as soon as his health does.

Time will not heal all the Mets' wounds, of course ( though cutting DeJean can't hurt), and they have spotted the rest of the division at least 2.5 games, but I'm not losing hope quite yet.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Chris Burke has no sense of history

The well known fact that no Mets pitcher has thrown a no-hitter doesn't particularly bother me, and at least a few of them, like A.J. Burnett's 6 BB, 0 H effort a few years back, were not actually as impressive as Pedro's showing last night.

All the same, it would have been great to see him make that annoying bit of history go away.

Thanks to an untimely hack by their young 2B/OF, the Astros were spared being the answer to the revised trivia question.

They were embarassed nonetheless, as Pedro fanned an even dozen, gave up two hits and one walk, and never came close to giving up the small lead the offense mustered off Roy Oswalt.

Zambrano takes the hill tonight, and while we may not be similarly dazzled by his performance, it really should be enough to keep the Astros in check.

I am going to be headed up to Cape Cod tomorrow, where the Lowells speak only to Cabots, and neither of them have internet access. I'll try to post when I can.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Mets draft Pelfrey, sign Graves

It's official. The Mets have taken the best available college pitcher: Boras client Mike Pelfrey of Wichita State.

His line for 2005 is as follows (courtesy of BP):

1.91 ERA, 131.2 IP, 136 K, 28 BB, 3 HR

I like it, and I'm glad Omar didn't reach for Craig Hansen, who was not taken in the first round.

Baseball America's mock draft($) was eerily accurate, correctly calling the first 18 picks and a good number after that.

The supplemental round is just beginning, but the Mets are done selecting for a while, paying the proverbial piper for the Big Two free agent signings.

In less exciting news, we've also signed Danny Graves, who boasts 182 career saves despite not being an especially good pitcher. Recently, he's been downright awful, and I hope he doesn't get handed too many high-leverage innings just yet.

Monday, June 06, 2005


The first place team in the NL East has 26 losses on the season. So does the fifth/last place team. That's what's commonly referred to as a "tight" division.

After yesterday's doubleheader split against the Giants, the Mets find themselves tied with the resurgent Phillies (not to be confused with the insurgent Phillies of Kirkuk) one game off the pace.

The pace in question is, for the moment, being set by the Washington Nationals, who have won four in a row. It's a nice story, but I'm sticking to my guns on this one: the Nats are meat. "Real" first place teams, or even just "good" teams, don't allow more runs than they score. It's bad practice.

Meanwhile, preseason faves Atlanta and Florida have been faltering, so what we have is pretty much a five-way tie, with every team between .500 and .550. To give you a better idea of these teams' almost Orwellian conformity, you could fit the entire division between Boston and Toronto, who are 2nd and 3rd in the AL East standings.

For more "Wow, that's a close race!" commentary, Marty Noble's gotchu.

Friday, June 03, 2005

"Water is a blessing."

Whatever you say, Pete. I'm sure the grounds crew could arrange to have the infield sprinkers turn on every second inning if it you think it helps.

Plenty of excitement last night at Shea, where I was sitting in Section 1, Row U, which provides almost exactly the same view of home plate as the overhead cam used to replay pitches on/off the corners.

The audio was provided by a group of obvious regulars, led by a large, curiously dressed man to my all too immediate left called "Fuzz." Rather than sitting in adjacent seats, these guys, all except Fuzz fully decked out in team apparel, were spread out over about four rows and five or six seats across. But from the volume of their near-constant and only occasionally game-related banter (which had its own vocabulary including a not so clever term for "blown save"), you would think they were in different time zones. Fuzz was without question the loudest person I've ever heard.

Fortunately, the game was a thing of beauty.

The first three innings were uneventful, as Pedro struck out five batters but gave up a towering home run to Tony Clark, and the home team struggled against former Met Shawn Estes.

Then in the fourth Carlos Beltran ripped a line drive an estimated 415 feet to right center (what is it with him and Pedro's starts?) Piazza walked and Floyd doubled. Had I been coaching third base, I would not have waved Mike home on this play.

Mike may actually be more exciting to watch run than Jose Reyes, who scampers from base to base in a heartbeat. With Mike it feels like he's tempting fate every time, lumbering around the diamond so slowly that it's hard to imagine him beating any reasonable throw to his destination base. It's like that scene in Jaws with the guys on the dock ("Swim, Charlie, SWIM!"). Had AZ's catcher, Snyder, fielded the ball cleanly, he was a dead man.

In any case, they put three up in that inning, three more in the sixth, and that was all she wrote. Pedro made the D-Backs, especially multiple strikeout victim Troy Glaus, look foolish at the plate, ringing up nine, walking none, and only getting hit hard by Tony the ex-Tiger.

The play of the game was of course Cameron's wipeout catch in right field. On the one hand, he shouldn't have fallen down going back on the ball. On the other, it's astonishing that he still knew where the ball was and caught it lying down. It was cool to see in person something that you know right away is going to be #1 on SportsCenter's "Top Plays."

The team's record stands at 28-26, a game and a half behind the Marlins and Braves, entering tonight's series opener against the Giants. Lefty vs. Lefty as Glavine gets the start against Noah Lowry, who may not be as bad as his current numbers suggest. I look forward to seeing if the fellas can put together an honest to God win streak against the Bondsless wonders.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Zambrano gets it done. Offense still comatose.

Not bad, Victor. Not bad 'tall.

Would it be nice to see the fellas put the occasional crooked number up on the Shea Stadium scoreboard? Certainly, but Brandon Webb is one of the better pitchers in the league, and a win's a win.

For his part, Victor "our"/"the other"/"the lesser" Zambrano still does not rank as one of the best pitchers in the league, or even on his team, but last night he was on top of his game. He struck out only five, and walked three, but kept the Snakes off-balance and induced a ton (13 to be exact) of ground balls. Chris Snyder mustered their only extra base hit on a bloop double to left.

The offense, as implied earlier, was about as powerful as an Adam Sandler movie. Piazza had a couple of hits, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to see nights like these as the sign of a return to Cooperstown form. He's still hitting .249/.314/.432, still not walking at anywhere near his usual clip, and of course he's still 36 years old.

Reyes had three singles, and successfully stole second each time. That's a great night, and I can't deny it's fun to watch the little guy rope the ball into the gap and haul ass to third. Still, being unable and unwilling to look past his other personal highlight reel (that of godawful can-you-even-see-the-ball? hacks), I'd diagnose my case of Jose Reyes Fever as mild at worst.

For all the scorn and ridicule that Kazuo Matsui has had to endure, it's troubling that charismatic good 'ol boy Doug Mientkiewicz seems to be getting a pass. Tom Seaver, to his credit, has been vocal in pointing out that no amount of first base defense can excuse a total absence of hitting from that position.

Too many commentators have been telling us to try to focus on the defense. [Bleep] that. YOU focus on the defense ("Hey, another putout!"). I'm going to look at Carlos Delgado's numbers and weep.

A 650 OPS from a first baseman is less a statistic than a cry for help, even if that help has to take the overgrown leprechauny form of Brian Daubauch, who has spent the season taking out his major league frustrations on minor league pitching.

In any case, Pedro gets the ball tonight, which usually bodes well, but I'd like to see the home team score a few runs just to be on the safe side.


For more on last night's game, Jaap at ABA has a good recap, which includes both the phrases "ohmic resistance" and "squishy fart."

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Admiral Halsey Torpedoes Mets

With the exception of a brief but distinguished stint covering the Stanford women's golf team, I have little daily newspaper experience, but sometimes I think it would be worth it just for the headline writing. If Jung Bong ever makes it back to the majors, the Atlanta Journal Constitution can expect a copy of my resume.

Despite returning the Mets' record to the .500 mark towards which it seems magnetically drawn, last night's game didn't discourage me as much as it should have. For one thing, it provided further evidence that Mr. Koo isn't, as I had previously thought, a very good pitcher.

It's disappointing that our relatively aged Asian import is not the lefthanded Akinori Otsuka circa 2004, but if he's going to suck, I'd rather he get blown up repeatedly, in the kind of dramatic fashion which alters depth charts and possibly rosters, than simply linger in crucial late inning situations, handing out free passes to the likes of Craig Counsell. What's the ETA on Mr. Ring, do you think?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Pedro fans 10


vin-tage, adj.
1. Of or relating to a vintage.
2. Characterized by excellence, maturity, and enduring appeal; classic.

Yeah, the second one. That was vintage Pedro.

Were it not for Omar Minaya's willingness to go where Theo Epstein dared not tread (i.e. into the 2008 balance sheet), Mets fans everywhere would have spent this morning reading about Brian Moehler's mastery of their shorthanded lineup.

Instead, we can bask in the kind of performance that can only be expected from the game's most dominant starting pitchers. 8 innings, 5 hits, 0 walks, 10 strikeouts. Mets win 1-0.

Just as the three losses in Atlanta raised serious and not unreasonable doubts about the Mets' legitimacy as a playoff contender, these last two games against the Marlins have at the very least provided an adequate rebuttal.

If they can get split the next two games in Florida, their record for the road trip will be 3-4. Considering the absence of Beltran, that would be at worst a mild disappointment.

Of course, the Marlins will have Willis and Beckett on the hill, but whoever's been wearing Brian Moehler's uniform looks pretty frightening himself.

In the other divisional series, Philly put a savage 12-5 beating on Atlanta today, surely forcing the Schuerholz-Cox-Mazzone collective to think long and hard about the abilities of one Horacio Ramirez.

Friday, May 27, 2005


12 runs, 14 hits, no errors: anatomy of a beat-down.

Cameron doubled twice, Reyes tripled twice, and Wright went 2 for 4 with a couple ribbies. Even Benson helped himself to a 3-1-1-1 line in the box.

My personal favorite play had to be Mientkiewicz's tailor-made grounder to second, which Damion Easley handled with all the deft finesse of a grand mal seizure, booting it into right center and allowing two runs to score.

On the hill, Benson looked good, except for the bottom of the 4th which saw the Marlins tie the game on an Alex Gonzalez single. That had me yelling unkind things at the television, but all was soon forgiven as the Amazins rallied for 3, 4 and 2 runs over the next three innings.

The gold star for pitching, however, has to go to Heath Bell, who struck out 5 and allowed two measly singles in his 2 innings of work. This is the stuff that Closers are made of.

At the same time the win is made sweeter for emphatically ending a four-game slide, we should keep in mind that if our boys can't beat the Marlins when they're throwing Frank Castillo, then all is truly lost.

The 36 year-old Castillo, who was last seen losing 15 games for the Boston Red Sox (which takes a certain kind of ineptitude) in 2002, was "filling in" for A.J. Burnett... at least to the extent that he stood on the mound and threw baseballs towards home plate. He should be back in Albuquerque with all due speed.

After Castillo was pulled, the Fish managed to pour a little gasoline on the fire in the person of Yorman "The Amazing" Bazardo, who is not yet actually amazing (5 runs in 1.2 IP), but is only 20, so time will tell.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

That hurt

They may get past it, but there's no getting around it: the Mets just got swept by the Braves, falling five games off the division pace and looking bad doing it.

With Beltran injured, the team's best hitter is squandered in the bottom third of the batting order. I can only imagine what voices in Willie Randolph's head are telling him that this is a good idea.

As he's being (mis)used, Wright's smorgasbord of extra base hits and bases on balls are providing "opportunities" for the likes of Doug Mientkiewicz, Mike DeFelice, the Pitcher, and Jose Reyes. What do these players have in common? They are finely tuned out machines, that can reduce even the most promising offensive situation into another tally in the LOB ledger (aka the SOB ledger).

Of course, the problems run deeper than the batting order. Floyd has been in a dismal slump, Piazza hasn't had an extra base hit in a week, and Reyes still has a BA for an OBP. Bad hitting in any order is still bad hitting, but there are little things a manager can do (like putting Wright where he obviously belongs) to maximize what he has.

As for Beltran, there seems to be very little uproar over the pre-existence of his quad injury. Unbeknownst to most, or at least to me, he had complained of soreness in his leg. As any "medhead" can tell you, the legs are used in running, which is one of C-Biscuit's real strong suits. Why, then, was he not given so much as a routine day off until May 18th, two days before he hit the disabled list?

Or at least that's the question I expected to hear at least some variations of as the remainder of the team got its collective keister handed to it by the Braves.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I loathe the Atlanta Braves

I haven't talked about it much, but no, "hate" is not too strong a word to describe my feelings towards that team.

I can't go on at much length, because the day job has not been affording me the leisurely afternoons to which I have become accustomed. Somewhere in the southeast (not Atlanta, that godforsaken slum), there's a power company conglomerate that needs me to help manage its bankruptcy closing, and I can't let them down!

[Exit Stage Left]

Monday, May 23, 2005

Pet Peeve

Why do so many writers, broadcasters and commentators persist in mentioning Jose Reyes and David Wright in the same sentence? As far as I'm concerned they have the following traits in common:

1. They are both very young (21 and 22, respectively) and
2. They are both homegrown prospects who play below-average-to-awful defense on the left side of the Mets infield.

As for the differences, one in particular springs to mind: Wright is an excellent hitter.

His .913 OPS ranks fifth among major league third basemen, and fourth on the senior circuit (behind Laaarrry, Ensberg and Glaus). He's demonstrated plate discipline, gap and home run power, and his BABIP numbers give no indications that it's been a fluke.

Meanwhile, Jose Reyes' .700 OPS is good for 11th in baseball among shortstops and 7th in the NL (actually ahead of the still-slumping Furcal and Rollins). It doesn't scream "demote me to work on my hitting," but nor does it mark Reyes as a rising star in David Wright's class. His slugging percentage owes a lot to his triples speed, and still doesn't cover up the smell of that sub-.300 OBP.

It would be one thing if defense were his calling card, but if it is then it's riddled with typos. Not only is he prone to errors (only Clint Barmes sports a lower fielding percentage), but despite his blazing speed and strong arm, he doesn't make very many plays. In fact, he has the lowest Range Factor of any regular SS in baseball!

Look, the guy is super-young, and will almost certainly improve at the plate and in the field, but lets stop pretending that he and David Wright are infield prospects 1A and 1B. They're Blossoming Superstar and Work in Progress.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Game 1: Fuggly, Game 2: So far so good

It's hard not to get furious at Kaz Matsui, but there's plenty of blame to go around for last night's 5-2 debacle.

For one thing, double plays might not have been so essential if we had a pitcher on the mound who showed some aptitude at preventing baserunners. Instead, we had the PTBNL in the Kazmir deal. What, Zambrano was the centerpiece? You're s---ing me!

Regardless, it could be argued that the wretched infield defense let him down, but IMHO you walk six guys you deserve every last run that comes home to roost.

I also don't particularly relish the sight of our regular first baseman coming to bat with runners on. There's just no way to sugarcoat his offensive performance, and on nights where he boots a ground ball, I can't help but wonder how Ian Bladergroen is doing these days (poorly, at high A Wilmington, but still).

On the bright side, Heath Bell was outstanding in his inning plus of work.

As I write this, the Mets are leading the Yankees 2-0 in the top of the 6th. Benson has been cruising, but may not make it out of this inning. He just walked Bernie to put two on, and Bell and Koo are throwing with gusto.

The first run, McCarver was quick to point out, came at the end of a rally which was started by (Double Play!) Matsui. The second came on a picture perfect opposite-field double by David Wright, which plated a rumbling Piazza.

I am somewhat (okay, very) concerned about the sudden and unexplained removal of Carlos Beltran from the game in the last inning. There was no apparent injury, but there are precious few alternative explanations for Randolph's double switch. Hopefully it's something minor and short-lived.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to watch Doug Mienkiewicz attempt to hit Randy Johnson.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The cultural crossover is strong in you

Having put the proverbial "whoop" on the NL's answer to the Devil Rays, the Mets have to turn their attention to the AL's answer to the Yankees, which is, of course, the Yankees.

The "Subway Series," which anyone familiar with the NYC subway system will tell you is an unflattering title, promises to be a closer contest (or "series" of contests) than it has been in years past, most notably and disappointingly the WS of Y2K.

Forgoing the seemingly obligatory Evil Empire/Star Wars tie-ins, the powerful force under the control of the mad overlord has not, contrary to rumor, been subdued. And it's possible that the now over-.500 team is not a moon, but in fact a space station... wait.

Victor Zambrano gets the call tomorrow against Kevin Brown, who was once a phenomenal pitcher despite being depressed and angry, but is now mostly depressed and angry. Meanwhile Zambrano, whose personality quirks if he even has any are unknown to me, simply cannot find the strike zone with three Questec operators and a map. Look for runs. Lots of runs.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Mets 2 - Reds 1

How 'bout that Matsui character? Really couldn't have picked a better time to hit his third dinger of '05. It may not be enough to eradicate the "We Want Cairo" chants from the Met faithful, but now at least Kaz has the edge in the game-winning home run department.

I hope he keeps it up, giving the team some production out of second base, making me feel less sorry for him that in spite of his best efforts and past dominance in Japan he may just be an atrocious player by MLB standards, and making Joe Sheehan of BP look a little less foolish for predicting a big sophomore season out of him.

Kaz the Pitcher was also impressive. There were a few unsettlingly deep fly balls, which may have only been outs in Shea, but he only gave out two free passes and generally kept the Reds hitters off balance.

Ishii's ERA for the season is now on the good side of 4.00, but in yet another illustration of the idiocy of the Win as a statistic, DeJean was credited with this one after getting the last two outs of the 7th.

I'm still not sure whether Ishii will be able to keep up that kind of run prevention with such dismal walk numbers (15 BB in 25 innings, against 16 strikeouts), but somehow he's been getting the job done and for the time being is looking like a worthwhile addition by Omar Minaya.

Speaking of worthwhile additions, Steve Colyer may not be so bad after all. Acquired from the Tigers for Matt Ginter, there was no cause for optimism that the deal would pay off much at all. Now it seems there is, but only nine innings worth. After a poor start at Norfolk, the relatively young lefty has been lights out. His line with the Tides is now 9 IP, 14 K/3 BB, 4.00 ERA. Not bad at all. If Koo and Ring suffer from injury or, and after last night I'm thinking especially of the former here, just start to suck, Colyer may not be a disaster with the big club.

The Mets are going for their full measure of revenge as I write this. No score in the top of the 2nd, but Adam Dunn just tripled (!) off Glavine to lead it off, so the scorelessness may not continue.

A plus tard, mes amis.


Glavine has gotten it done again, allowing only 2 runs through 6. The wheels started to rattle in the top of the sixth, but Cliff Floyd hosed D'Angelo Jimenez at home plate to preserve the 4-2 lead. It's Cliffy's fifth outfield assist, tying him with Reggie Sanders for best among all left fielders.

Piazza is 2-2 with a double that just barely stayed in the park. David Wright just swiped third for his first SB of the season - and Matsui drives him in with a clean base hit! Follow that up with a botched double-play grounder by Jimenez, and the home team is looking like a real good bet to put this series to sleep.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Mets 9 - Reds 2

You see what happens, Larry? This is what happens, Larry! This is what happens when you...

Sorry. A little unchecked aggression, directed at the team that swept the Mets in their season-opening series.

This was the beating the Reds clearly deserved, but managed to escape on their own field. Every Mets starter, including Kris Benson, hit safely. Floyd hit his 11th home run off of Paul Wilson (his 10th surrendered), Wright doubled twice, and even Lil' Matsui went 2-3 with a two-bagger.

It may be unseemly to kick a team while it's down (14-24), but the mound at Great American really should be cordoned off like the crime scene it is. Ostensibly their best starting pitchers, neither Wilson nor Eric Milton have allowed fewer than - wait for it - seven earned runs per nine innings.

It's not early April anymore. Maverick and Goose have already combined to throw 100 innings; innings which could fairly be described as a bonanza for opposing hitters, who have mashed Wilson for a 1003 OPS (Milton: 954). Don't look if you're squeamish.

What's really sad is that the Reds have more offensive talent than they can use, much of it concentrated in their hulking, underappreciated beast. How can a team afford to bench Wily Mo Pena, but not feature a single quality starter?

Game 2 tonight. Ramon Ortiz (6.75 ERA) vs. Zambrano (5.75 ERA)

To Reds fans, Victor Zambrano must look really good right about now. Think about that. If they hadn't set the Mets back three games, I'd almost feel sorry for them.

Monday, May 16, 2005


That weekend could have gone better.

Especially hurtful was the rally on Saturday, which put Pedro in line to pick up the win despite giving up more than his share of runs. Okay, that may have only been especially hurtful to my fantasy team, but still, storming back to the lead (on a Matsui triple, no less) only to watch the ageless wonder finally show signs of slippage... well, it's just no fun at all.

Then on Sunday, the Mets helped make Matt Morris look like the Cy Young-caliber starter of yesteryear (i.e. 2001-2002). Well, at least in the box score. Physically, he's sporting a Al Gore-style beard (also worn by National Nick Johnson) which suggests the return from a wilderness period of some sort. It seems to be working wonders for Matty Mo, whose season line is a laudable 36.2 IP, 32/9 K:BB, 2.95 ERA.

The NYT's Lee Jenkins sounds a little bit dire/defeatist about the Mets' still getting their .500 languish on, sounding a lot like the Alan Rickman robot in the Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy. Lest Lee forget, if you look at their results since their first five games, they're five games over .500! Put that in your opium pipe and smoke it, Jenkins!

Like Ben Bradlee, I'm sticking by the boys.


I was proven wrong, dramatically, egregiously wrong, by Tom Glavine's dazzling performance on Friday. Whether it signals the beginning of his return to form remains to be seen, but it goes to show that just because a guy has been truly horrible for weeks, it doesn't mean he can't string together seven shutout innings against the league's best offense (although it should). Maybe he's been getting pointers from Aaron Heilman.

Uncle Salty should really have his own blog. I love his contributions here, and hope he continues to post, but he's like a bird that was never meant to be caged in the "Comments" section of his cousin's Mets rag. His feathers are just too bright. He may need a bit of encouragement though, so sign our petition at and tell him to sing, brother, sing!