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.