Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mets 4 Life is back! Today's Recap..

Hey guys, I'm sorry for the long layoff, but I'm back doing this blogging thing again..

Here we go..Today, the Mets played the Nationals @ Shea Stadium. The Mets beat the Nats by a score of 6-0. Here is a rundown of how the individual players fared in todays game..

  • Jose Reyes, in his return from a 3 game absence, went 4-5 and was a homer short of the cycle.
  • David Wright hit two doubles and a homer and ended the game batting 3-4 with 5 RBI's.
  • Carlos Beltran was 1-4 with an RBI single to score David Wright from second.
  • Angel Pagan continued to hit today with a single, he went 1-3.
  • All the other players on the Mets combined to go 0-12 for the game.. so it's safe to say that the middle of the order picked up the slack today, which I am very pleased about.

Overall, today was a very good day for the Mets (and my fantasy team). Pelfrey looked good and is now 2-0 (1.50 ERA) to start the season. But lets not forget that Duaner Sanchez came back and looked strong, pitching a scoreless 9th.

Tomorrow, the Mets continue their series against the Nationals, with John Maine facing Matt Chico, starting at 7:10 pm.

Also, I'm again looking for RELIABLE writers who can post atleast 4 times a week. Contact me if interested!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

New Year, Same bullpen

One week into the season and the frustration continues.

The New York Mets biggest weakness last season was the bullpen. This weakness was not addressed in the off-season. It appears it will be our biggest problem this year.

We eliminated Guillermo Mota, who had some terrible second innings. But I believe he would have been better if we limited him to one inning per outing. They were hoping to get Sanchez back, and we are still hoping. Joe Smith is a question mark, he has yet to prove he can continually get batters out. Then we have another side arm pitcher, Aaron Heilman, who is unreliable. One day he is good, the next he is giving up home runs. I think we do teams a favor by sending back to back side armers at them. I am scared anytime Schoenweiss enters the ballgame. I think if he was used to face one or two lefties only, he might have a chance. But he should NEVER pitch a full inning. Feliciano has been great and Wagner needs to be dominant. But this is the same bullpen that failed us last year, and things are not looking good.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

2008 Milestones

With the regular season starting just one week from today—when the Red Sox play the A’s in Tokyo—it’s time to take a look at what milestones players could achieve this year and how probable they are.

Most likely to happen...

Ken Griffey Jr.’s 600th home run. Junior has 593 jacks and is a lock for notching No. 600 this year. Plus, he needs 116 more bases to hit 5,000 total bases. He had more than 200 in each of the past three seasons, so unless he suffers a truly hideous injury, he should also surpass this mark easily.
Plus Next season or the year after he may be looking to join Hank Aaron and Willie Mays as the only players to have 600 home runs and 3000 hits, needs another 442 hits for 3000.

Manny Ramirez’s 500th home run. Manny has 490 regular season dingers heading into this year. It’s not a question of whether he’ll hit that 500th round tripper, but when.

Gary Sheffield’s 500th home run. He’s got 480 right now. He’ll knock in No. 500 sometime in August.

Chipper Jones’ 400th home run. He needs just 14 more to hit the mark, and he has never had a season in the bigs with fewer than 20.

Juan Pierre’s 400th stolen base. The man steals an average of 54 per season, and swiped 64 last year. Plus, he’s played 162 games for the last five seasons running.

Francisco Cordero’s 200th save. He needs 23 to get there.

John Smoltz’s 3,000th strikeout. He needs 25. For Smoltz, that’s, like, four mediocre starts.

Greg Maddux’s 5,000th inning. He needs 185 and two-thirds to get there. The man’s a horse. He’ll get ‘er done (and log his 20,000th batter faced in the process). He is also 3 wins shy of reaching 350 on his career.
Tim Wakefield’s 100th wild pitch. He’s just 8 away, he throws a knuckleball, and his personal catcher just got released. Enough said.

Tom Glavine’s 200th loss. He’s at 199 right now. This is as close to a lock as preseason predictions get.
Johan Satana's 100th win. Needs just 7 more. A nice milestone to reach in first year with the Mets. Met fan hope this is the first of many.
Jason Isringhausen's 300th save. Just 19 save will get him there, can he stay off the DL long enough?
Derek Jeter's 2500th hit. There is talk already of when he'll reach the hall of fame bench mark of 3000 hits, need 144 hits this season to be within 500.

Possibly Could Happen...

Randy Johnson’s 300th win. The Big Unit needs just 16 more victories to get there. Yeah, he only had 4 last year. But in the three previous seasons, when he was 40, 41, and 42, he had 16, 17, and 17, respectively.

Andruw Jones’ 400th home run. He needs 32 to get there, and has had five seasons with more than that number. On the other hand, he’s also logged five seasons with fewer. Toss-up.

Vladimir Guerrero’s 400th home run. Vlad needs 35 to get it done, which would be a very good year for him.

Omar Vizquel’s 400th stolen base. Yes, he’s lost a step with age. But the odds are even on him snagging the 20 he needs to reach the milestone.

Eric Gagne’s 200th save. Can he get 23? He hasn’t saved even 20 games since 2004

Tom Glavine’s 700th start. He needs 31, and the last time he had fewer was in 1995.

Randy Johnson’s 100th complete game. He only needs two more.

Not very likely to happen...

Barry Bonds’ 3000th hit. It seems unlikely, at this point, that Barry will find employment this season, forcing him to retire just 65 hits shy of this storied benchmark. He’ll also retire just 14 games short of 3,000 and 4 RBI short of 2,000.

Roger Clemens’ 5,000th inning. It seems that the Rocket has retired for good this time. He’s forever going to be 83 and a third from 5,000.

Johnny Damon’s 100th triple. There’s no “100 triples” club. But Damon, 33, is third on the active list of leaders in triples (after Steve Finley and Kenny Lofton) and needs just 13 three-baggers to break the century mark.

Jeff Kent’s 400th home run. Like Guerrero, he needs 35. However, Kent has only hit that many once his his career. If Kent wants to reach 400, the 40-year old will have to hang around another year.

Jason Giambi’s 400th home run. He needs 36 homers, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility. I just don’t think he’s healthy enough to get there this year.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pelfrey Tipping His Pitches!

Mike Pelfrey is tipping his pitches!

"When he is to throw his fastball, he will keep his tongue in his mouth under the mouth piece. When Pelfrey initiated his delivery of a fastball, his tongue became visible."

"Pelfrey would open his glove wide when he reached in to grasp the ball deep in his right hand for the offspeed pitch."

So any batter with reasonable observation skills knew all three of Pelfrey's pitches; the fastball, slider or changeup and which he intends to deliver to the plate.

So when Pelfrey fanned his glove it meant changeup; visible tongue meant fastball; neither was the unmistakable sign for slider.

I'll admit I've been a little hard on Pelfrey. I think he would benefit greatly from a full year in AAA. But this changes my opinion on Pelfrey. He has shown some improvement this spring but has yet to show the consistence, tipping his pitches would explain that.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Week In Review: Part Duce

Sunday March 9th:

  • John Maine worked four innings of no-hit ball with three K’s, with the only blemish a walk to ex-Met David Newhan in the second.

  • Jose Reyes went deep with a laser shot hit beyond the right-field wall.

  • Jose Valentin was back, and played first base

  • Duaner Sanchez was pleased with how he felt one day after pitching a scoreless inning Saturday.

  • Angel Pagan had his 15th hit of the spring

  • David Wright hit a triple in the first

  • Billy Wagner pitched 1 inning giving up 1 hit while striking out 2

  • Mets 3 Astros 0

Monday March 10th:

  • Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado both played, finished a combined 0-for-5.

  • Santana allowed only two hits, and no runs. He struck out four and didn't walk a batter over 4 IP

  • Mets 1 Red Sox 1

Tuesday March 11th:

  • Angel Pagan belted a two-out triple in the third.

  • Nelson Figueroa gave up five hits and four runs over three innings. He walked two and struck out one.

  • Steven Register allowed two hits and no runs over two innings.

  • Mets 3 Red Sox 4

Wednesday March 12th:

  • Marlon Anderson hasn’t swung a bat since feeling discomfort in the rib-cage area underneath his right arm while facing the Orioles in Fort Lauderdale in what he estimated was too quick a return from a bruised sternum suffered in the collision with Church

  • Adhering to new MLB rules, Mets clubhouse officials were drug tested.

  • Oliver Perez allowed one run and three hits in four innings.

  • Angel Pagan added a pinch-hit, two-run homer

  • Carlos Delgado struck out three times, is batting .091

  • Carlos Beltran went 0-for-3 with a walk

  • Mets 6 Orioles 2

Thursday March 13th:

  • Carlos Beltran played center field for the first time, and singled in a run and walked

  • Lefthander Jason Vargas expects to miss three months with a labrum tear in his left hip that will require surgery

  • first baseman Michel Abreu and relievers Willie Collazo and Carlos Muniz, were cut, and headed to minor-league camp

  • Jose Reyes singled twice and scored both times

  • Endy Chavez had a single and a two-run double

  • Pelfrey lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits. He struck out one and walked two.

  • Pedro Feliciano allowed an unearned run in the seventh

  • Mets 5 Cardinals 6

Friday March 14th:

  • Carlos Beltran made his second straight start in center field and went 2-for-3 with a double

  • John Maine threw five scoreless innings extending his streak of scoreless innings to 10

  • Scott Schoeneweis pitched one inning giving up 1 hit while getting 2 Ks

  • Mets 8 Marlins 2
Saturday March 15th:

  • Carlos Delgado hit his first home run of the spring

  • Angel Pagan singled and scored

  • Santana allowed four runs -- three earned -- in five innings, striking out five and walking one

  • Mets 3 Cardinals 10
Pedro Martinez is scheduled to make his debut for the Mets on Sunday
Mets Spring Training Record 10-7-1

Week In Review

Is Angel Pagan heading North?

It happens every spring. A scrappy young player walks into big league camp as a relative unknown to the general masses. While the veterans greet each other with big smiles, the newcomer has to introduce himself to pretty much everyone. Initially, the sportswriters ignore him and concentrate on the more established players made available by the team’s PR department. But when the preseason games begin, and when the new kid steps into the batter’s box, the attention is his. And he capitalizes.

The next day, he finds his name in the sports sections of numerous newspapers. Do this a few more times and the fan base begins to get excited. He continues to succeed throughout the month of March to the point where he improbably cracks the big league roster. By now, the fans know who he is. He’s the new guy who batted over .400 or had an ERA below 2 throughout the exhibition games. And the first time he comes out of that home dugout for his first appearance of the regular season, he gets an ovation from the crowd that’s usually reserved for the star players.

For the 2008 New York Mets, that guy is Angel Pagan, the 26-year old outfielder who the Mets drafted back in 1999 but had to reacquire in a trade with the Chicago Cubs during the offseason. While not completely anonymous on the big stage thanks to the 318 ABs he’s had as a Cub in ‘06 and ‘07, the average fan probably knew very little about him except that he has perhaps the most oxy moronic name in Major League history.

But in the last three weeks, Pagan has accumulated 45 ABs during which he’s gotten on-base at a .426 clip and slugged .578 with a .400 batting average and a couple stolen bags to boot. This has prompted the beat writers to collectively call for him on the big league roster. His stock became so high that some people actually bought the fake rumor that the Red Sox were going to trade Coco Crisp to the Mets in exchange for Pagan. Really? Isn't that taking things a bit too far?

Due to the not-so-shocking injury to Moises Alou, the starting left-field spot on Opening Day is yet to be determined. Just two or three weeks ago it would have been considered foolish to even suggest that Pagan deserved the gig. And I don't completely understand why we should be thinking any differently now.

It appears on the surface that most people get it. It’s spring training. Hitters are facing AA pitchers and vice versa. Established pitchers are trying out that new cut fastball that they can't quite command just yet and the veteran hitters are trying to get their timing back. There’s no evidences that spring training success bodes well for the regular season. None. Zilch. Nada. I think the majority of the baseball world is in agreement on this one.

Then why doesn't this logic hold true for Pagan? Why should we be impressed by a .426 OBP and a .578 SLG when it’s blatantly obvious that both stats are being held up by an impossibly high .400 AVG? Why should we ignore the fact that so far in his career the man’s line is an unimpressive .255/.306/.415? Because he’s young and has room to grow? Because he wasn't wearing a NY Mets uniform prior to this year? Not buying it.

Far more indicative of his skill set than the 45 ABs he’s gotten this spring is the 2483 ABs he’s accumulated in the minor leagues. Pagan didn't fare amazingly well during this time either, going .280/.338./.373 - numbers that would be fine… if he was a speedy shortstop who excelled defensively. Pagan does run well, but he appears to be cut from the same cloth as Endy Chavez, another backup outfielder for the Mets. They are useful as fifth outfielders who can be called upon as a defensive replacement or pinch runner, but why would you want two of them on your team?

Regardless of what I think, it appears that Pagan will be heading north with the team in a couple of weeks. Unless Minaya can make trade Pagan for Coco Crisp.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Happy Birthday Johan! Hats off to you and welcome to Queens. This season we look forward to you adding to your personal trophy case.

Happy Birthday for winning two Cy Young Awards already, for being 49 games over .500 in just 8 seasons (93-44), for being a 20-game winner, for helping the Twins win four AL Central championships, for being a 3-time All-Star, for leading the AL in K’s 3 times, ERA twice, wins once, for having a Gold Glove and for giving Met fans a reason to look joyfully to the future and to forget the past.

Again Happy Birthday Johan Santana and best wishes on your 29th birthday!

Atlanta Braves: Off-season Report Card.

Reposted for our Brave fans turn Met fans, lol

This is the first of an series on the NL east.

Did Atlanta improve over the off-season? Yes. And no.

Atlanta’s biggest need entering the off season was starting pitching. So GM Frank Wren went back to the future and signed Tom Glavine. Good move? No. Glavine is washed up. But at the very least, he should be an (overpaid) innings eater. Wren also traded all-star SS Edgar Renteria to Detroit for SP Jair Jurrjens. The Jurrjens acquisition could be a real long-term steal. But for 2008, Atlanta’s starting staff will depend on the continued strength of an aging John Smoltz and the hope that Mike Hampton will return to form after multiple arm surgeries. Some things never change.

But enough about pitching. Who needs pitching when you have offense? And the Braves do have offense. Atlanta scored more runs than every NL team but Philly and Colorado, two teams that play in hitter-friendly parks. That’s pretty impressive considering the Braves’ best hitter, Mark Teixeira, didn't get to town until August.The 2008 Braves should benefit from a full season of Teixeira. The team lost power when Andruw Jones signed with the Dodgers, but they gained OBP when they signed Mark Kotsay.

In other Braves news, the Renteria-Jurrjens trade freed up a starting spot for SS Yunel Escobar, who represents a possible defensive upgrade, but a probable offensive step back.

Atlanta’s bullpen will suffer from the loss of Ron Mahay, but should be bolstered by the mid-season return of Mike Gonzalez.

Additions: Brandon Jones, Mark Kotsay (and Jamie Kotsay), Tom Glavine, Jair Jurrjens.

Losses: Edgar Renteria, Andruw Jones, Ron Mahay.

Projected Rotation:

SP - John Smoltz
SP - Tim Hudson
SP - Tom Glavine
SP - Mike Hampton
SP - Chuck James
Alt - Jair Jurrjens

Setup - Peter Moylan
Closer - Rafael Soriano

Projected Lineup:
SS - Yunel Escobar
2B - Kelly Johnson
3B - Chipper Jones
1B - Mark Teixeira
C - Brian McCann
RF - Jeff Francoeur
LF - Matt Diaz/Brandon Jones
CF - Mark Kotsay

Grade: B

Atlanta has some exciting young players (Escobar, Jurrjens, Kelly Johnson) and some others who are entering their prime years (Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur, Teixeira), but as usual the team’s success will hinge on the contributions of some oft-injured players (Chipper, Hampton) and old timers (Smoltz, Glavine).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Why The Rays Are Better Then The Braves!

Argument #1: Mike Hampton.

  1. Tommy John surgery
  2. elbow discomfort that shelved Hampton for another
  3. In March 2007, oblique strain suffered during batting practice
  4. In November 2007, Hampton tweaked a hamstring
  5. On Friday straining a right groin muscle
  • Hampton has made eight trips to the disabled list since he was traded to Atlanta from Florida on Nov. 20, 2002: Three for his left elbow, two for his back, two for his left forearm and one for his right calf.

Argument #2: Bobby Cox.

  • Rays manager Joe Maddon has a World Series ring from this millennium. Bobby Cox does not. Maddon has a nice personality. Bobby Cox does not. Maddon has cool glasses. Bobby Cox does not.

Argument #3: Chuck Jones.

  • Chuck Jones spent last off season working at Lowe’s installing windows and doors. WOW yup it's true!
  • Rays are clearly playing hardball this spring, did you see that that awesome collision in the Rays-Yankees pretend game on last Saturday

Argument #4: Will Ohman.

  • The Braves got Ohman in a trade from the Cubs, Ohman is “sexy like a well-kept low-mileage used Toyota.”
  • Rays meanwhile brought back one of the great left handed relievers in team history, Trever Miller. And he should be better than ever

Argument #5. The Rest Of Atlanta’s Bullpen.

  • Rafael Soriano is supposed to close for the Braves this year. Career numbers: 13 saves, 9 blown saves. It’s a shame the Blue Jays beat y'all to Armando.
  • Rays have a stacked bullpen with new closer Troy Percival, and three more reliable arms: Al Reyes, Dan Wheeler and Gary Glover. Plus a guy who killed a shark with his bare hands in Scott Dohmann.

Argument #6. The Big Bats.

  • Obviously, Chipper Jones should be commended for his leadership in calling an investigation of Alex Rodriguez’s steroid use.
  • But Chipper is no match for the offensive juggernaut of the Rays in Crawford, Upton, Pena, Longoria, Iwamura. Plus If you get in their way, they'll just run you over.

The Rays are better, tougher, and sexier. The Atlanta Braves ain’t garbage compared to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New York Mets: Off-Season Report Card

If you google the words “Mets” and “collapse”, you end up with over 494,000 results. If you google “Mets’ historic collapse”, you get 108,000 more. Needless to say, I was tired of hearing it and reading it. But all winter-long the sportswriters here in New York would not let it die. The team was broken, the scribes wrote. They were demoralized, downtrodden, and despaired. Sometimes you didn’t even know they were writing about a baseball team.

But rationality has to take over at some point. Consider this:

The Mets lost 12 of their last 17 games (.294 winning percentage)
The Phillies won 13 of their last 17 (.765 winning percentage)
Both of the above happened. And the Phillies were still only one game ahead at the end of the season.
At the Major League level, even the best teams have a hard time winning 60% of their games over the course of a full season, and even the worst can’t mess up badly enough to lose that much more than 60%.
So what happened to the New York Mets in the last three weeks of the 2007 regular season was incredibly unlikely, if not improbable, and I never saw this as a team that needed a total overhaul. That’s not to say that they were perfect, of course. They may have been good enough as they were constructed to win a division title in 2008. But if they wanted to go head-to-head with the AL powerhouses, they needed to upgrade.

And upgrade they did. For the last two seasons, this was a team without an ace. Tom Glavine was no longer Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez was healthy enough to only pitch 160 2/3 innings during that time. If it wasn’t for the emergence of John Maine and the reemergence of Oliver Perez, it would’ve been an ugly sight indeed. With Johan Santana replacing Tom Glavine and his 84-mph fastball in the Mets rotation, a weakness turned into a strength.

The other major addition(s) can’t really be called an upgrade. While I still believe that having Ryan Church instead of Lastings Milledge will pay more dividends in 2008, after this year, all bets are off. And Brian Schneider is Brian Schneider. I believe he’s already broken records in the NY media for how many articles have been written about his ability to “handle a pitching staff” because there’s nothing else he can do, the previous record was held by John Sterns. By the way, you know who must be really angry right now? Ramon Castro. The guy goes and slugs .556 in 144 ABs in 2007, only to have the team go out and fail to acquire Yorvit Torrealba, trade for Johnny Estrada, then trade for Brian Schneider. Brutal. But lucky for us, we’ll never know if he’s hanging his head despondently or if it just looks that way because his neck can no longer support his massive dome.

The bullpen remains mainly unchanged, and I’m OK with that. While many pointed to the relievers for the Mets failures, I tend not to get too worked up over it. With the departure of Guillermo Mota, the only Mets arm that frightens me to see him on the mound now is Jorge Sosa. It’s not that I believe in Scott Schoeneweis. It’s more that I believe he’s a better pitcher than he was in 2007. I do have some concerns about Billy Wagner since he’s turning 37 during the season.

The fastball just isn’t what it used to be, and Wagner himself seems to realize this as he’s apparently working a curveball into his repertoire. The Mets will benefit from having Duaner Sanchez back after an injury he sustained in a car accident back in July, 2006, followed by a fracture in his shoulder during Spring Training last year that ended his entire season. If Sanchez can perform as well as he was capable of a couple of years ago, he and Aaron Heilman should be a capable set-up duo.

But the 500lb gorilla in the room is that the injuries are already piling up. First, Carlos Delgado had an MRI on his bothersome hip. Then Marlon Anderson and Ryan Church collided while chasing a ball during a game last week. The next day, Ruben Gotay injured his ankle. Orlando Hernandez is changing his entire pitching mechanics because of pain in his foot (goodbye, leg kick), and now we find out that Jose Valentin actually has a dead guys ligamennt in his knee. As usual these days, Luis Castillo is still running like he’s been shot in his thigh. Moises Alou is out 4-6 weeks with a hernia. Not to mention that Carlos Beltran just played his first game this spring yesterday as he continues to recover from offseason surgery.

This has, fairly or not, been the main criticism of the Mets as they are currently constructed. No one was overly surprised to hear that El Duque, Delgado and Alou were already hurt, and yet, there isn’t anyone around that can replace their production - especially offensively. If Hernandez isn’t ready to go (although as the #5 starter, the team probably won’t need him for the first couple of weeks) for his first turn in the rotation, Mike Pelfrey would most likely step in and probably won’t perform much worse than Duque would have. It won’t be so cut and dried as to who should start in left in Alou’s absence, however. Technically, Endy Chavez is the team’s #4 OFer, but in actuality, he’s best suited to be a late-inning defensive replacement. The other options are Marlon Anderson and Angel Pagan. The latter is a “gritty” and “aggressive” player who probably doesn’t belong on a big league roster, and Anderson is a player who Mets fans probably think is better than he actually is, thanks to the .906 OPS he posted in 69 ABs for New York in 2007. The team has been rumored to be targeting Marcus Thames of the Tigers but he’s an out-making machine. It’s more likely that they stick with what they have and start the year with either Anderson or Chavez in Left.


1. Jose Reyes - SS
2. Luis Castillo - 2B
3. Carlos Beltran - CF
4. David Wright - 3B
5. Carlos Delgado - 1B
6. Moises Alou - LF
7. Ryan Church - RF
8. Brian Schneider - C


1. Johan Santana
2. Pedro Martinez
3. John Maine
4. Oliver Perez
5. Orlando Hernandez

Alt: Mike Pelfrey


CL: Billy Wagner
SU: Aaron Heilman/Duaner Sanchez


Had I written this report one month earlier before all the injuries, I most likely would have given this team a higher grade. But I can’t simply ignore the likelihood that this team’s lineup and rotation will remain in flux for a good portion of the season due to the various ailments facing its players. I really don’t mind having Pelfrey in the rotation, but neither Alou’s nor Delgado’s production can be replaced effectively as it now stands - and that’s saying something because Delgado especially can no longer be relied upon to post above-average numbers for a first baseman.

Despite this, I still see the Mets as the favorites to win the division. I’m not one to think that some voodoo magic has been cast upon the entire roster due to the demoralizing defeats last September. They landed the best pitcher on the planet without giving up top-notch prospects. Brian Schneider may be a black hole offensively, but he’s replacing the nearly as anemic Paul Lo Duca. As long as Jose Reyes produces at the level he’s capable of, the Mets offense should be able to produce as much as they did in 2007. IF health were not a factor, I actually think that this Mets team would be at least several games better than any of their NL East rivals. While it’s unlikely that this injury bug will continue to permeate the clubhouse at this rate, there is a seed of doubt here. But that’s the only thing that could really keep this team out of the playoffs.


Atlanta Braves: Off-Season Report Card
Florida Marlins: Off-Season report Card
Philadelphia Phillies: Off-Season Report Card
Washington Nationals: Off-Season Report Card

Monday, March 10, 2008

NL East Predictions...

So what will the divisions final standings look like heading into October of 2008?

The Mets will win the division, we have the best pitching and best defense. And our offense is deadly when they are running on all cylinders.

The Phillies offense is great but, you have to be able to score more runs than your pitchers allow.. I dont know how they’re going to do that. Their pitching staff is horrible behind Kendrick, and Hamels..

I think the Braves are our biggest competition. They have a fairly good Pitching staff and they will get back some key pieces to their bullpen by mid-season. Lets also not overlook Chipper, Texiera, McCann, and Francouer… they can mash.

Mets win division..

NYM (98-64)
ATL (92-70) 6.0 GB
PHL (88-74) 10.0 GB
WSH (78-84) 20.0 GB
FLA (69-93) 29.0 GB

Your Thoughts?

Somewhat lost in the hullabaloo over that awesome collision in the Devil Rays-Yankees pretend game on Saturday, was the sparkling debut of The Thriller David Price.

Price, the #1 overall pick in last year’s draft, couldn’t keep a grin off his face for most of his one inning of work.

He made quite an impression with the first batter he faced — drilling him with a fastball above the elbow.

The lucky Yankee was….

Francisco Cervelli, the same poor bastard who got to get run over and get his wrist broke a short time later. (I’m surprised Yankees interim manager Joe Little Girl-ardi didn’t find time to whine about Price pitching him too close or too hard.)

Price quickly struck out the next three batters he faced: getting Shirley “Temple” Duncan looking and then Jason Lane and Wilson Betemit swinging. The four batters saw 17 pitches, all but two fastballs, 11 for strikes, and not one of them managed to even make contact.

After the game, Price was pretty psyched: “That’s easily, hands down, the greatest feeling ever.”
Welcome to Devil Rays, and major league spring training camp, young man.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Week in Review.

Okay with the first week of March over, lets review.

Saturday March 1st:

Carlos Delgado has a barking right hip that has resulted in a trip to New York to see Mets doctors

Michel Abreu is projected to be the Triple-A first baseman, while prospect Mike Carp wasn’t even invited to big-league camp

  • Carlos Muniz, who has been slowed by a hamstring injury

  • Mets 1 Dodgers 0

Sunday March 2nd:

  • Ruben Gotay sprained the inside of his right ankle sliding into home plate
  • Angel Pagan had the game-deciding hit, his two-out, two-RBI single to center in the ninth capped a three-run inning and lifted the Zephyrs to a 6-5 win in the Mets’ final trip to Dodgertown.

  • Rule 5 pick Steven Register tossed a 1-2-3 inning

  • Joe Smith, who looks ticketed for New Orleans to start the season, allowed an RBI single to Nomar Garciaparra before getting an inning-ending double play

  • Brady Clark, who has played well early in camp, had an RBI groundout

  • Scott Schoeneweis surrendered an RBI single to Rafael Furcal

  • Delgado received an ejection of anti-inflammatories during his seven-and-a-half-hour stay in New York, and expects to take pills as well.

  • Jose Reyes had his left knee wrapped in ice after fouling a pitch off the outside of it the day before.

  • Mets 6 Dodgers 5

Monday March 3rd:

  • The Mets have placed Scott Schoeneweis and Jorge Sosa on the trading block. The projected bullpen looks to include: Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman, Duaner Sanchez, Pedro Feliciano, Matt Wise, Schoeneweis and Sosa.

  • Mets 3 Braves 2

What would opening a bullpen spot or two do? It could make room for Mike Pelfrey as the long relief guy, gives Steven Register a chance to make the team, and Joe Smith as well. Brian Stokes is out of options, too.

Tuesday March 4th:

  • Luis Castillo ran the bases for the first time to test his surgically cleaned knees.

  • Endy Chavez has started running bases

  • Carlos Beltran was running bases and planned to test his surgically cleaned knees sliding

  • Michel Abreu went out with a strained right hip flexor, which occurred Monday

  • Mets 6 Marlins 2

Wednesday March 5th:

  • Orlando Hernandez was practicing his now-less-pronounced leg kick, a new delivery set up by pitching coach Rick Peterson

  • Brady Clark is volunteering to play first base, a position he hasn’t played in the majors

  • John Maine is adamant that the Mets have not discussed a multi-year deal with him.

  • Mets 3 Dodgers 2

Thursday March 6th:

  • Damion Easley and Marlon Anderson both returned injuries

  • Game rained out

Friday March 7th:

  • Juan Padilla and Ben Johnson were reassigned to the minor-league camp

  • Jason Vargas was back from Philly, where doctors told him he has a sore hip, but no hernia.

  • Pedro threw 53 pitches over 2 innings in a simulated game

  • Mets 8 Indians 6

Saturday March 8th:

  • Mike Pelfrey got hammered today, seven earned in 3.1 innings

  • RF Ryan Church went 2-for-2 in his first game back

  • Brian Schneider took Chris Volstad deep in his first at-bat

  • Damion Easley and Argenis Reyes also homered

  • Steven Register got knocked around for four runs on five hits in the ninth

  • Duaner Sanchez was great in a perfect seventh inning,two grounders and one strikeout and pronounced himself “97 percent of what you saw in ’06.”

  • Jorge Sosa tossed three scoreless relief innings against the Orioles.

  • In a simulated game El Duque threw the equivalent of three innings to no batters off a bullpen mound

  • Playing today were RF Ryan Church (back from concussion), C Brian Schneider (double hammies), CF Endy Chavez (ankle) and DH Damion Easley (ankle).

  • with Jorge Sosa, Marlon Anderson and Ramon Castro playing Baltimore in Ft. Lauderdale

  • Anderson Hernandez took BP, Carlos Delgado took more BP

  • Luis Castillo (knee) and Carlos Beltran (knee) took part in fielding drills and BP

  • Mets 4 Orioles 3 / Mets 4 Marlins 12

The Mets through today have a 7-4 record.

Mets beat Indians with Minor leaguers.

The Mets' lineup Friday vs. the Indians was missing all of its big names as manager Willie Randolph's injury-bugged squad didn't have Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Moises Alou, Ryan Church, Jose Reyes, Luis Castillo, David Wright, or Brian Schneider who all stayed back in Port St. Lucie to either rehab or work out.

Wow just take a look at our lineup from Friday's game:

1. LF-Ezequiel Carrera
2. SS-Anderson Hernandez
3. CF-Angel Pagan
4. DH-Olmedo Saenz
5. C-Raul Casanova
6. RF-Fernando Martinez
7. 1B-Robinson Cancel
8. 3B-Daniel Murphy
9. 2B-Sanchez Reyes

The Mets won the game 8-6. I know the team is hurt, but man, I'm truly speechless. It's a good thing it's only March 8th. Oliver Perez pitched 2.2 innings giving up 6 runs (3 earned) on 6 hits, while striking out two and walking two. Oliver Perez was drilled by a comebacker by Victor Martinez in the first inning, close call, but Perez is ok.

Nelson Figueroa followed Perez with 3.1 shutout innings giving up three hits while striking out two and walking one. I was impressed with rookie Carlos Muniz as he pitched a 1-2-3 9th for the save and striking out one.

Robinson Cancel homered off Joe Borowski, and Olmedo Saenz went deep against Rafael Betancourt.

Some notes:

  • The first cuts have been made. Unofficially, Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, Brant Rustich, Ivan Maldonado, Adam Bostick and Mike Nickeas are among the players headed to minor-league camp.
  • Juan Padilla and Ben Johnson have been cut and reassigned to the minor league.
  • Brady Clark is volunteering to play first base, a position he hasn’t played in the majors.
  • Pitching coach Rick Peterson has El Duque adjusting to a new delivery.
  • Carlos Delgado is taking BP again.
  • Brian Schneider and Endy Chavez and Damion Easley all expect to be available to play in split-squad games Saturday.
  • Ryan Church also took BP for the first time since suffering a concussion.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Mets Realist, Part II the lineup

Since the appearance of Part 1 of my two part series looking ahead to the Mets season as a realist, a bit of reality hit the Mets…nearly, literally. Well, two Mets hit each other and resulting in a grade 2 concussion (for Ryan Church) and a bruised sternum (for Marlon Anderson). A few more are in various stages of rehab, as AP described:

Church and Anderson are among several injured Mets. Carlos Delgado is sidelined by a sore hip and Schneider has been out with a tight hamstring. Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo, Orlando Hernandez, Damion Easley and Endy Chavez are yet to play in a spring training game because they're still rehabbing.

As bad as this all sounds, the upside of reality is that there is no “out for the season” yet no “back after the All Star break,” but there is already one “unavailable for opening day” Moises Alou. Others seem to be healing–Knock on Louisville Slugger!

So, back to looking at what we can reasonably anticipate. This time fielding and hitting, starting with fielding to make the transition from pitching defense to the hitters in the line up.

Defense in General.

It is reasonable to say that the Mets defense has an experienced a minor upgrade. The Catching position seems to have a stronger fielder who is expected to call a better game. The outfield is a bit younger and more capable. Santana is a very good fielder but remember when Glavine wasn’t losing the season on the last day he was a good athlete. So they’re a bit better. Since the 2008 Mets aren’t playing the ’07 team what does our fielding amount to?

I believe the easiest way to quantify anything is in wins or loses, e.r.a. or average or errors. The every day skills of our fielders are at least good enough to support their pitchers (and the numbers I outlined in Part 1) in the mundane areas of range, baseball sense (where to play), reaction (getting a good jump on the ball), and usually not running into each other. The numbers we will consider is spectacular plays vs. errors …and (as every third baseman will pull the first baseman off the bag a couple dozen times and will handle a hot smash to his left a few dozen times) we’ll even limit that further to the extremes to plays that save a game vs. errors that cost a game.

Position by Position

Pitchers’ fielding. Assuming Pedro will only play healthy and El Duque will mostly play healthy, the young crop of pitchers led by Johan should not particularly cost the Mets more games than their pickoff moves and fast reaction to bunts gain. Conservatively, let’s given them a plus 0.5 wins,

Catcher is supposed to be a stronger and this is particularly expected to be true in calling the game, but that does not come into play here. Time will tell about intangibles like blocking the plate (Lo Duca was pretty good, Piazza better, Carter great and that saved runs/games while none was considered a very good fielder), but caught stealing s fairly measurable. Brian Schneider caught 31% of base stealers last year and 39% over his career, while the majors averaged only 26% last year and 30% in the past 5. Good enough for me to give us another plus 0.5 wins.

First Base is a major concern as will be discussed in hitting, but at best we have an adequate fielder who will scoop most of what he should scoop. With injuries, subs, and reality, this is not Keith or Olerud. We should take back half a win.

Second Base may even be a tougher call. Castillo is a three time gold glove 2003-2005, and was a step up for the Mets, but his health is a question and his age is approaching mid 30s. We might expect a few more spectacular plays, but his subs may throw a few games away. This could be zero or minus .5, let’s go to minus 0.5 games.

Third Base is the home of the great but probably-gold-glove-undeserving David Wright. He was an incredible step up last year and his work ethic should improve on that. Even last year with the GG, I’d say he cost the Mets a game, but I think that’s going to swing all the way to plus 0.5. Remember, with the exception of Brooks Robinson, you don’t see 3rd basemen exceeding errors with outs that should be hits.

Shortstop is the flashy position with our flashiest player. This is likely to be a year of real commitment from Jose Reyes and fielding will be included. As with any team’s shortstop highlight will be a plenty with leaps and pegs and high throws and embarrassments. On gut instinct I lean toward a plus 0.5 games.

Outfield could certainly be broken down, particularly to give Carlos Beltran his due, but it seems overkill. History has shown nearly as many game winning plays come from the outfield based on mediocre-to-bad fielders whose arms are challenged and who throw out the runner as by those reaching over the fence or making diving catches. The pitching will benefit from the center fielder, but all-in-all the outfield is likely to be a zero-net-gain.

Final Defense Total, plus one game…we’ll take it. If we were at 95 wins after pitching we’re up to 96 now.

Hitting in General

The current trend is to bemoan the Mets hitting. The thinking was/is that Delgado had a “terrible” season last year and another one would leave the Mets without adequate offense; this is further explained by the recognition that Schneider is a worse hitting catcher than Lo Duca was and Church has had trouble against lefties. The sudden loss of Alou for 8 weeks and the variety of ailments has supposedly put the Mets in desperate straights. Before the week is out they are expected to sign Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, and trade for Xavier Nady and a few others…

All of this for the prohibitive favorites to win the league based on only one 4-6 week (in the season) injury of a player expected by all to play 100-120 games at best. The reality is barring a rash of severe injuries, this is essentially the same team that was considered a solid offensive threat and it should outscore the opponent much more often than not.

So let’s look again individually.

The Line up

Jose Reyes had a terrible September and still was a player any team would love to have. The Mets will take care and use a few reins to keep him fresh and a realistic expectation would be somewhere between 06 and 07, with the improved patience of last year. That would mean .290, 75 walks, 70 sbs, 55 extra base hits, 120 runs. Not shabby

Luis Castillo is likely the best career hitter the Mets have (until David Wright has a long enough career to begin too early HOF talk). He has batted over 290 9 of his 10 complete seasons, and only dipped below 300 three of those years. There do seem to be signs of age in terms of aches and pains, and even between Reyes and Wright he may drop off a bit (particularly is he is occasionally asked to give himself up to move Reyes or wait out his steal. That said, .292, 50 walks, 15sb, is a minimum, with under 70 Ks in 130 games.

David Wright is approaching fan worship status. Imagining that the hype gets to him, as perhaps it did to Reyes last year, what would be his version of a bad year? .290, 35 doubles, 22 homers, 22 sbs, 80 walks, 90 runs, 100 rbis? Barring his being shot by Glenn Close, that’s the worst 1-year down turn the Mets could fear and that still makes him responsible for 170 runs coming in.

Carlos Beltran fits the stereotype of the clean-up hitter you aren’t sure will be great. He clearly broke his big city funk in ’06 and ’07 after his .266, 16 homer ’05. He has been a .268 hitter against righties the last 3 years, and there is little reason to expect that to improve. But anything close to the 30 homer, 35 doubles, 20 sbs (83%), 70 walk, 100 run, 100 rbi average he has shown with the Mets is darn close to great. Knock each off 5% or even 10% and that’s still more than good enough.

Moises Alou and or substitutes are a big question mark. Assuming the worst, the hernia keeps him out 2 months, something else another month, and bumps and bruises add up to a fourth month absence. That leaves a bit under half a season with the Alou .300 considered a certainty. Endy Chavez, Damion Easley, perhaps Angel Pagan, Marlon Anderson, or a new righty will cover the other over half a season. We’re talking a slew of .280 hitter who may or may not appear elsewhere in the lineup

Carlos Delgado is the man everyone wonders about. The man with career averages of .280, 38 doubles/HRs, 120 rbis, 100 runs, or last year’s .258, 24 homer, 87 rbis, 71 run man? The fact is the latter is not a disaster in the number 6 spot, but with Alou’s injury(ies) it would be great to split the difference with .270, 30 hrs, 103 rbis, 85 runs, and if last year was a blip, this may be the reasonable assumption of his decline at 35. That’s over 150 runs from that one man (not including the 20-30 games he’ll have a fill-in).

Ryan Church’s weak numbers against lefties was far worse last year than in the past; he can reasonably be expected to hit along his career numbers of 20-25 points lower against lefties. He also has hit much better at Shea (surprising given it is a pitcher’s park) and will be surrounded by a better line up. Low 280s seem likely with a 10 point swing possible. A big concern is grounding into double plays. He did so 12 times last year compared to 13 the previous 3 years combined. We do not want #8 leading off too often.

Brian Schneider will be that #8, sharing time with the solid Ramon Castro. The anemic .235 Schneider put up last year would leave Mets fans wondering whether he should bat behind a few of the pitchers. However that was more than 20 points below any of his previous 3 seasons in RFK without much of a lineup around him. He also had a career year for walks (1 every 8 at bats). The Mets need his glove, but 55-65 rbis are a solid possibility,

What can we make of this all? Well this is a much stronger line-up than the average NL team or the average Mets team even with a general let-down across the boards. There has been no estimate of any player having a career year, nor and Angel Pagan or other rookie blasting on the scene. While Delgado is older, only Alou really is at the pure drop-off age and he seems to only be more fragile not a weaker hitter. Perhaps the issues above knock that win total into the more modest 90s and perhaps that makes it a battle with Philadelphia, but they have much less certainty of getting to that number.

While the Phillies may have a potent set of 3, those also are among 4-5 other question marks. Few other teams compete with this Mets supposed weak offense, ignoring having the best pitching staff in the NL on paper.

But on paper is where we are looking and the Mets are cutting more their share of paper cuts. They need to work with wood and hide and see if these realities come to fruition. Neither the high potential that appears likely, nor the sudden fears and desperation (who will be their 7th starter!) will mean much 1450 innings from now.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Washington Nationals: Off-Season Report Card

For years, this was a franchise who literally had no idea where they were headed. They learned after 35 years that French Canadians didn’t really like baseball all that much aside from Eric Gagne and Russell Martin. For over four years, they were owned by Major League Baseball, through which the owners of the 29 other franchises - those whose teams were in direct competition with the Expos on the baseball field - had control over the club’s future. They basically became guinea pigs as the new “owners” tested the financial possibilities of having a team in Puerto Rico before finally closing up shop in Montreal and landing in our nation’s capital.

I may be a Mets fan, but I’m first and foremost a fan of the game and this entire ordeal has made me want to root for this franchise. We the fans as well as the players who were on those final Expos teams deserved better than what we were getting. So I take some pleasure in being able to write that the Washington Nationals finally have a direction. They’ll have a brand-spanking-new stadium in 2008, for which I’m sure the hitters will be thankful. Their team will not compete for the division title in 2008, nor will they in 2009. In fact, they probably won’t have much of a shot for the next few years. But there is a glimmer of hope here, as well as stories to root for in 2008. And after years and years of seeing futility, I find that rather satisfying.

The first big move of the Nats’ offseason came at the expense of the New York Mets. The Nationals were willing to take on some risks and ended up with a young, promising center fielder. Rightly or wrongly, Lastings Milledge was branded as a guy who didn’t respect the game. His time in Flushing, New York could best be summarized by the story about Billy Wagner pinning a note on Lastings’ locker that read “Know your place, rook" back in 2006. Despite this, the talent is there. The soon-to-be 23-year old posted a 2007 OPS of .787 in 184 ABs, which is pretty impressive once you consider his age and the fact that he played most of his games at Shea. Although one cannot forget that Milledge is yet to play a full season at the Major League level (350 ABs in his entire career), the Nationals appear to have made a more than solid move in acquiring him for an aging catcher who can’t hit his weight (Brian Schneider) and a good, not great, corner outfielder who probably won’t get any better(Ryan Church).

Washington also decided to roll the dice on Elijah Dukes, another young outfielder with a poor reputation, but this one was far more deserved by most opinions. His upside as a hitter may actually surpass that of Milledge, but thanks to his inability to stay away from legal troubles, appears to have a much longer road to travel before he ever reaches that potential. He’s a guy with a big build who has already exhibited the ability to take a walk. Thus far in training camp, he's saying the right things, it seems, but as they say, talk is cheap!

With these two on board, the Nats appear to be able to field a promising, young, outfield with Milledge in Center, Austin Kearns in Right and Wily Mo Pena in Left. If Dukes can stay out of trouble, I’d imagine that he will bump either Kearns or Pena from the starting lineup sometime during the season.

The remaining acquisitions were basically players well past their primes. Paul Lo Duca, Aaron Boone, Rob Mackowiak, Odalis Perez, and Johnny Estrada all signed one-year deals to play in Washington. While none of them should be relied upon to do much of anything, I can’t really blame the execs for bringing these guys in (although Lo Duca’s $5 million salary is pretty high) on short-term commitments. Thanks to a farm system devoid of actual young talent, bringing in vets for one season isn’t a terrible way to go about doing things.

One has to wondered how the first base competition between Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young was going to play out. Well, based on Young's physical condition, believe it or not, Johnson may be the healthier one of the two. I still don’t quite understand the $10 million extension they gave Young back in July, and it certainly won’t pay more dividends now, unfortunately.

And of course, there’s Ryan Zimmerman, a player who deserves far more attention than he receives. Throughout Zimmerman’s career, the spotlight for young, talented third basemen in the NL East has belonged to David Wright and Miguel Cabrera. But why not Zimmerman? Sure, he failed to improve on his 2006 season, but this was in large part due to an unlucky .270 BABiP in the first half of the season. After the mid-way point, his BABiP returned to his regular range of .320+, and along with it came a .361 OBP (up from .302 in the first half) and a .486 SLG (up from .435). Add in a very good glove and a move away from RFK Stadium (one of the best pitcher’s parks in 2007) and you have yourself cornerstone.

One area in which they were just unable to improve was pitching. One of the major side effects of the franchise existing in MLB purgatory for all those years was that everything was being done for the short-term. You can’t start a rebuilding process successfully if you’re not sure you have a future to begin with. Under the ownership of MLB, the Expos/Nationals were completely handcuffed. Omar Minaya, who had been the GM of the Expos, was basically auditioning for his next gig the entire time he was there because he knew he had no long-term job security. So they went out and signed a bunch of veterans to field a decent team and ignored their “future” (i.e. prospects) in the process. The end result is the fact that despite pitching in RFK Stadium, 43 of their games in 2007 were started by pitchers who sported ERAs north of 6, plus 20 others by Mike Bacsik and his 5.11 ERA.

As it stands today, Shawn Hill and John Patterson are the only two who have a good shot at posting a league-average ERA in 2008. Is Patterson completely recovered? Well, not yet he isn’t. He pitched to live hitters for the first time since May 2007 just last week and still needs to build up arm strength. But just looking at his 2005 numbers, makes me not want to give up on him. We could be seeing young Ross Detwiler again on the MLB mound very soon as well, but from everything I hear and read, he’s more of a mid-rotation arm than staff ace.
I still believe that they should have dealt closer Chad Cordero and set-up man Jon Rauch months ago. Cordero is a “closer” by name only but his perceived value still outweighs his actual. With Rauch, you have to worry about a 6′11″ pitcher who is about to turn 30. I can’t imagine a guy with his frame and his workload over the last two seasons (173 games pitched - tops in MLB) not lasting very long. Get out while ya can, Nats.

ADDITIONS: Paul Lo Duca, Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge, Bret Boone, Aaron Boone, Rob Mackowiak, Tyler Clippard, Odalis Perez, Johnny Estrada, Willie Harris

LOSSES: Ryan Church, Brian Schneider, Nook Logan, Robert Fick, D’Angelo Jimenez, Tony Batista, Micah Bowie, Jerome Williams


SS - Christian Guzman
2B - Ronnie Belliard
3B - Ryan Zimmerman
1B - Nick Johnson
RF - Austin Kearns
LF - Wily Mo Pena
CF - Lastings Milledge
C - Paul Lo Duca


SP1 - Shawn Hill
SP2 - John Patterson
SP3 - Jason Bergmann
SP4 - Matt Chico
SP5 - Tim Redding

CL - Chad Cordero
SU - Jon Rauch


I really like the Milledge and Dukes trades quite a bit for a team like the Nationals. Their drafts simply haven’t been good enough to stock the minor leagues with real talent, but by this method they still were able to bring in Major-League-ready prospects into the fold. By also not signing any long-term contracts aside from the two-year deal given to Jon Rauch, they have a tremendous amount of financial flexibility. The currently have only five players under contract for 2009. In fact, here is a list of the players who are guaranteed a contract two years from now.

That is all.

Of course, this isn’t entirely a good thing. It’s nice to know you’re going to have a team. But there is real talent here, and given the increased contract expectations of even younger players who only qualify for arbitration, financial flexibility should allow them to navigate these waters more assuredly. Again, it looks like it’ll be a few years before we can possibly consider the Nationals as contenders in the NL East. But there are things to look for in 2008, and I’ll be watching.

Philadelphia Phillies: Off-Season Report Card
Atlanta Braves: Off-Season Report Card
Florida Marlins: Off-Season report Card

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Alou injured.. for the 10,000th time..

According to an article for, the Mets starting LF -- Moises Alou -- will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a sports hernia. This is a pretty big blow to the Mets' lineup considering the guy mashed lefties at a .360 pace and hit an overall of .341. Alou has also missed time for the past 5 seasons due to injury. Including last year in which he only played in 89 games due to a strained right quad.

The two biggest question marks for the Mets are now..Who will replace Alou while he is out with injury and who will be the fifth starter?

These questions remain to be answered, but we will find out within the next 27 days... My best quess would have to be Endy Chavez replacing Alou or Angel Pagan, who has been mashing the ball during the first week or two of the spring.

Race for the 5th starter...

Candidate #1: Orlando Hernandez

Candidate #2: Mike Pelfrey

Race for the starting LF job:

  • Endy Chavez
  • Angel Pagan
  • Fernando Martinez?
  • Marlon Anderson

Whats your best guess?

Trade Rumor Put To Rest?

The much-rumored deal between the White Sox and Giants involving Joe Crede and Noah Lowry hit a bit of snag yesterday. And it didn’t have anything to do with the health of Crede.

Pitching in front of White Sox scouts for the first time this spring, Lowry decided to channel Rick Ankiel, Ricky Vaughn, Mark Wohlers and Chuck Knoblauch simultaneously in the first inning. Suddenly a pitcher that won 14 games for a last place team a year ago couldn’t hit the water from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Lowry threw 24 pitches before the Rangers even took thebat off their shoulder. In all, he would walk nine of the 12 hitters he faced.

Having this kind of meltdown in the midst of a pressure-packed game in October is one thing, but this is spring training! As Alan Iverson famously once said, “we’re talking about practice!”

Was Lowry’s parade of walks attributable to a severe hangover? Did he suffer a rare type of amnesia which caused him to forget how to properly throw a baseball? Or was he intentionally throwing balls in order to avoid a trade to the White Sox.

Maybe it was the tendinitis in his wrist. If he was in that much pain, wouldn’t you think he would have pulled himself out before embarrassing himself in a preseason game rather than after walking nine guys?

In any case, if avoiding a trade to the Sox was his intention, I’m pretty sure he accomplished his goal. I’m not sure the Sox would even offer Mike MacDougal in exchange for Lowry after yesterday’s debacle. At least MacDougal, who has been lit up for five runs in just two innings this spring, has been throwing strikes.

This doesn’t mean the two teams won’t still make a deal involving Crede. I’m thinking though that the Sox will be taking a longer look at the younger prospects in the Giants system and possibly see what other teams might be interested in Crede as well.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Weekly Injury Report

As of right now, the Mets are hurting, literally. Lets take a look at who is injured..

  • Our starting 1B Carlos Delgado, is on the mend after taking a trip back to New York City to get his hip examined. He should be back playing within the next 7-10 days.
  • Carlos Beltran, Damion Easley, Luis Castillo, Endy Chavez, Jose Valentin and Ben Johnson have not played in a game yet.
  • Ruben Gotay sprained his ankle while on his way to scoring the winning run in yesterdays game. He is scheduled for a CT scan tomorrow.
  • Ryan Church was also injured in yesterdays exhibition game against the Dodgers. He and Marlon Anderson collided while chasing a pop fly in shallow RF. Both Anderson and Church are expected to be ready to play within the week.

... the Mets expect most of these players to be ready on opening day. Lets just hope that injury's dont define what is to come from the Mets in the summer of 08.

3/3/08 Final: Mets 3 Braves 2


"The Mets beat the Braves, 3-2, on a walk-off hit in the bottom of the 10th inning in Grapefruit League action from Port St. Lucie this afternoon. Teenage shortstop Ruben Tejada plated the final run with a double to the gap that scored a hustling Michel Abreu on a close play at home plate.

Mike Pelfrey started the game for the Mets, throwing three scoreless innings and allowing two hits without walking or striking out any batters. Billy Wagner allowed one earned run in one inning relieving Pelfrey. Nelson Figueroa followed with two shutout frames. Jason Vargas threw a scoreless seventh, Carlos Muniz allowed an unearned run in the eighth, Ricardo Rincon struck out two in a scoreless ninth, then Ivan Maldonado earned the win with a scoreless inning of his own.

Ramon Castro led the Mets offense with two hits, including a rare stand-up triple, and an RBI."

The Mets record now stands at 3-3 on the spring and there is only 26 days until Opening Day.

Strawberry Is Back!

Here are a few words I never thought I’d hear: Darryl Strawberry is a Met again.

The organization announced on Monday that Strawberry will return to the team this season, after nearly 20 years away, serving in a variety of positions, including as an outfielder instructor this spring. And despite my general penchant for cynicism, I couldn't be happier for one of my former heroes.

Darryl, you’ve paid your debts and have earned a chance to return home.

Strawberry, soon to be 46, apparently looked in “near playing shape” early Monday when he met with the press. Despite a tenure shortened by drugs, legal infractions, and a magnetic attraction to all of life’s downfalls, he remains the Mets’ career leader in homers, RBIs and walks.

It still hurts to think of how good he could have been.

Besides working with outfielders this spring, Strawberry is expected to help at various minor league outposts during the year and also serve the New York Mets in community relations.

Cheers, Darryl. Now go teach Fernando Martinez how to play like you, circa 1985, and conduct himself like you, circa 2008.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Broken Dreams.

This is a cautionary tale, to New York Yankees’ fans.

As many of you are excited about the futures of Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and the other youngsters who could be appearing in the Bronx soon. The future looks bright. Remember, though, potential is just that until it is reached.

As former Mets GM Steve Phillips said on ESPN the other day “prospects get general managers fired.”

Anyway, on with my story.

The year was 1996 and there was a team in New York brimming with optimism. It had three young rookie pitchers for whom stardom had been predicted, and these three youngsters were expected to be in the starting rotation and carry the New York Mets to great things for the next decade.

Bill Pulsipher was 22, Paul Wilson 23 and Jason Isringhausen the old man at 24. The trio had dominated the International League in 1995.

They were Generation K, and, like the Yankees new Generation Trey, there were great expectations. They were being counted on to pitch the Mets to glory for a decade.

It didn't turn out that way, however.

Pulsipher never made it to the mound in a regular-season game, suffering an injury in Spring Training. Isringhausen went 6-14 and ended up having surgery on his elbow and shoulder. Wilson went 5-12 and, while he didn’t get hurt that year, spent the rest of his career battling injuries.

As we all know now, none of the three ever reached the stardom predicted for each of them.

  • Isringhausen, now with St. Louis, has been the most successful. Adapting to the closer role after missing most of 1997 and all of 1998 with injuries, he has compiled 281 career saves. Still, Isringhausen has never been the elite pitcher many thought he would be.

  • Wilson, the Mets’ No. 1 pick in 1994, finished an injury-plagued career in 1995 with a 40-58 career record. Following the 1996 season he did not pitch in the majors again until 2000 due to injuries. Only once in his career did he record double-digit victories, going 11-6 in 2004 for Cincinnati.

  • Pulsipher not only missed the 1996 season, he missed 1997 as well. He ended up winning just 13 career games and his career, for all intents, was over in 2001. He tried a comeback in 2005, but pitched just four innings for St. Louis that year.

The baseball landscape is littered with the broken dreams, and arms, of countless promising young pitchers who were supposed to be the next Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton or Tom Seaver.

In recent years we can look at Mark Prior and Kerry Wood in Chicago. I remind you that Minnesota phenom Francisco Liriano missed last season with an arm injury. There are plenty of other examples.

The example of Pulsipher, Wilson and Isringhausen, though, is the one that hits closest to home. It parallels the exact situation the Yankees are in today.

So, as excited as you Yankees fans are to watch the future unfold for the trio let’s remember not to expect too much. And, hope this turns out better for the Yankees than it did for the Mets.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Pedro Alvarez Out Indefinitely

Most of you probably don't know who Pedro Alvarez is.. Well, I'm here to inform you and inform you I will.

Pedro Alvarez is noted as one of the best prospects coming into the 2008 MLB Draft. He attends Vanderbilt, is a junior and is a 3B. Alvarez is regarded as the best college hitter since Mark Texiera. His stats the past few years have been off the charts and he should be at the major league level in about 3-4 years.

Why did I post this about him? Well, he was ranked as the best prospect in the NCAA by Project prospect. He recently broke his hand, and as a result of losing time to injury, he could fall in the draft.

Just think, the Mets have two first round draft picks, 18th and 22nd. If he fell to #18, I would be STOKED! If we were to draft such a talent, he would obviously have to change positions because David Wright will man 3B for the next 15 years. Lets just hope this super-prospect is demanding a ton of money and will fall to #18 in the draft!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Realignment Anniversary.

The 2008 season marks the 15th anniversary of baseball’s “realignment.” Hard to believe, but it was 1993 when major league baseball last had four divisions, rather than today’s six. Everything about realignment has pretty much worked out. The wild card gives many more fans many more months of hope. Inter-division rivalries have far more time to soak in and be rivals. Travel on the player has become easier.

But, to me, it still needs a little tweaking. Milwaukee? In the National League? Okay over time I've come to accept this, but there is no reason why we can't have six division of five teams each.

The fix:
To make this work inter-league play will have to be done throughout the full season. It looks more and more likely that the Marlins will get their new stadium. Both Oakland and Pittsburgh have hinted at relocating. Portland has been trying for years now to land a major league team. So lets give them a team!

If the Marlins new stadium deal falls through yet again, and I think it will, you can move them out to Portland and into the AL west and move Pittsburgh to the NL east. MLB should seriously consider this option. This would be the easiest fix. Another easy fix would be for the Pirates to move to Portland and into the AL west. Oakland could still move to their number one choice, Fremont.

Department of Justice to Investigate Clemens.

I take no particular joy in the news that Congress has asked the Department of Justice to further investigate whether or not Roger Clemens lied under oath during the recent grand jury hearings.
I could feel sorry for him — if he wasn’t such a clueless, self-centered, belligerent, lying, holier-than-thou moron, that is.

Whatever happens to Clemens at this point, he has only himself to blame. His reputation is in toilet, his career accomplishments are in question, and he may have a better chance of landing in prison than he does of ever getting elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Start with whatever Clemens allowed McNamee or anyone else to put into his backside, and at this point if you believe Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, didn’t use performance-enhancing drugs during the latter part of his career you might be a bigger idiot than The Rocket himself.

More important, though, has been Clemens’ unbelievable denials that he ever did anything wrong.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Henry Waxman and ranking Republican Tom Davis said Clemens’ testimony “warrants further investigation.”

They wrote:
“Our only conclusion is that significant questions have been raised about Mr. Clemens’s truthfulness.”

Clemens is, obviously, is deep trouble here. He has been for a while and, amazingly, he still doesn’t seem to get it. He spent the day working out at Houston camp and acting like nothing had ever happened. It didn’t have to be this way.

From FOX Sports' Ian O'Connor:
"None of this had to happen. Upon the release of the Mitchell Report, Clemens could’ve remained silent or made a brief declaration of his innocence before refusing further comment.
He didn’t have to launch a full-blown attack that would leave him so vulnerable, so weak, so unlike the fierce dominator who ruled from sixty feet and six inches away. Now Clemens is drowning in a pool of his own hubris, with the Justice Department closing in."

On the mound, Clemens knew no other way. Challenge him and you would get a 95-mph fastball aimed at your head — or a broken piece of a bat.
There are some situations, though, that you can’t bully your way out of. For Clemens, this is one. Unfortunately for him, it might be too late to turn back now.

Scott Spiezio Is On the Run!

Apparently drinking, driving, barfing and fighting is the best way to get kicked off of the St. Louis Cardinals. Troubled utility man Scott Spiezio is neck deep in trouble of misdemeanors, felonies and arrest warrants.

The Cardinals’ super sub/”rehabed” substance abuser allegedly got plowed on vodka in an LA bar and decided to go for a drive. After weaving in and out of traffic he eventually crashed into a fence and stumbled to his nearby condo where he was found by a neighbor. Helping out his pal, the neighbor brought Spiezio inside and cleaned him up. Scott promplty vomited in the man’s apartment and kicked his butt. (This is why there are so few good Samaritans in Los Angeles.)

Apparently Spiezio took offense to the man commenting on his vomiting performance and pummeled him for it.

The kicker is, all of this happened back on December 30th. Spiezer has been dodging the authorities and his 6 arrest warrants for nearly 2 months now. He arrived early at the Cards’ camp in Jupiter and went about his baseball-related business as if no one was the wiser. It didn't take very long for someone to notice he'd been busted for: driving under the influence, hit and run, aggravated assault, assault and battery and fleeing the scene of a crime. What a mess.

This was either a huge relapse or the guy just never got clean in the first place.

Spiezio seemed to have it all worked out. After posting just about the worst batting average ever (.064) in 2005, the Cardinals gave him a second chance. He signed on with the Birds in 2006 and made an instant impact, catapulting them into the playoffs, which ultimately delivered the team its first World Series title in 24 years. Becoming an instant fan favorite he inked a generous 2-year $4.5 million contract last season. Life was good for Scott Spiezio… and then the wheels came off.

Drug problems landed Scott in rehab last August, causing him to miss about 5 weeks of the season, but he seemed hell bent on beating it. Eventually all signs pointed to complete rehabilitation and the Cardinals welcomed back a “clean and sober” Spiezio with open arms. Looks like the Spiezer had them all fooled and was just as accomplished at lying as he was delivering clutch hits.

The Cardinal brass must be familiar with the old adage: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Because they weren’t about to be fooled again. They instantly terminated Spiezio’s employment with the Cardinals and bought out his contract in full, including the 2009 option… to the tune of $2.5 million.

The organization made the right decision, and set a good and necessary example for the myriad of impressionable youngsters that will be filling out a sizeable chunk of the roster this season. The team doesn’t want to become the divorced dad that looks the other way, lets his kids get away with everything and ends up getting walked all over. That’s not the best first step to jump starting a rebuilding era. So...

So long Scott. I hope you get your life together!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Mets Realist, Part 1

To introduce myself to the Mets4Life world, I’ve been a Mets fan for the last 40 years (yeah, I’m getting old), I attend about 15 games a year and see most of the rest, and I am perhaps too much a student of the game. I know baseball will always finds its audience through offense, but I love pitching. Here in late February, the season is on the rubber and moving toward the wind-up.

This looking forward is the second best time of the year. My evil empire Yankee friends insist our Mets credo is always “Wait till next year.” It is true that, like many of you, I tend to be an optimist but I’m a realistic one…and I believe this requires a degree of pessimism. During the off-season I envision the best that can happen in the coming season while preparing my dreams for the most likely and still keep worst case scenario on the far periphery. In 2008, Mets’ dreams of a championship are probably the most reasonable they have been since the late 1980s. As for the very worst case, we just lived through it in September ‘07. So, what is that “Most Likely?”

For this and my next piece, here in the blog world—where Mets fans will be ripped by Phillies fans and Red Sox fans and those who “know” Jaba/Hughes are Koufax/Drysdale—we’ll look at what might be realistic to anticipate.

We’ll begin with the whole shebang—end of season predictions—to provide a sense of the numbers meant by being realistic. We’ll go from there to pitching. Then in Part II we can look at the lineup, fielding, and intangibles. Of course these are all pure opinions but real ones, we look forward to hearing your thoughts.

The big picture probably puts us in the World Series…but losing.
It is not that there is a specific American League team that will definitely be there and definitely beat us (although a Boston 1986 reversal is a strong possibility). But a realist has to accept that making the playoffs, winning the first round, second round, and the series is a lot to assume. In fact the math is amazing, if we were a 4:1 favorite for each step (which we won’t be), that makes it 2:3 against our winning it all…luckily the game isn’t played in a calculator.

Pitching looks good, particularly starting…less so in relief.
I was a big fan of the Pedro trade (of course I loved Roberto Alomar and knew we blew it with Edgardo Alfonzo). A proven, aging AL pitcher, in a hitter’s park, with innings issues moved to a pitcher’s park without DHs and good fielders, and you’re looking good. Downside = injuries. When healthy Pedro rarely has pitched badly for the Mets.

Johan (even September ’07 Santana) should be a true #1 as long as he is healthy…so put in 7 missed starts for pessimism and you’d still have 15-19 wins, say 17 wins.

starts healthy and should be at least as good as his short stints in ’06 and ’07. If pessimism puts him out half the season and still gives him 12 wins.

El Duque
…okay, who knows? Forget pessimism his last 5 seasons he’s had 8,8,9,11,9 wins. Even older this year but with a deeper staff and lower expectations. Lets say 9 wins.

Maine and Perez
were pretty darn impressive last year. No one would have said 30 wins from them and the Mets miss the playoffs! One year more experience and less pressure…and probably a few fewer starts pending the injuries above. One probably improves and the other fades a bit. That’s 17 and 13, add a pessimistic injury and you have a combined 27 wins.

(and Vargas or Sosa or…)--the sixth starter is sure to get innings if any pessimism above becomes reality whether off the bench or up from AAA. Yet with no permanent ‘08 position, pressure will be lighter than ‘06-07. A fairly modest prediction would be 8 wins.

So, Starters total 73 wins.
Before you say that’s crazy or horrible, that’s exactly what the Red Sox 6 starters had last year! 3-4 wins per middle and late reliever and we’re in the mid-high 90s (Vegas line 93)! If you want to be optimistic 100 wins, but be realistic.

Mets relievers
Everyone points here as a concern and my realism and memory (albeit aging) support this thinking, but not where others imagine. The assumptions seem to be that long relief has enough depth and our closer will be solid with an occasional lapse, and middle relief is the concern. I reverse these.

Long relief
might be okay, but it is no certainty. Pelfrey and El Duque are not relievers, so just assuming one will do this well (like in a World Series) is foolish; and given the likelihood of injury openings in the rotation their availability will be rare. There is a lot of potential and choices for middle relief, but it is realistically a crapshoot.

Billy Wagner
has been a very good closer for us. There are no lights-out closers, but he has surpassed realistic expectations with some major exceptions. The problem is that history is not kind to relievers and neither is Shea Stadium, very few excel for 2-4 years. And as simply as that, it is more possible that this one-person position has a letdown than any other.

Short relief
by contrast has a number of possibilities. Aaron Heilman has been far from a guarantee but has his days, Duaner Sanchez is a (taxi-)fair possibility with great history, and Sosa leads a group of specialists and hard throwers who have shown strength. There is good reason to expect those 3-4 wins from each.

On the mound, it seems realistic to expect a high 90s number of wins, with the risk of our handing half dozen back to the other team in late in the 9th and beyond.

The interesting thing is that apparently the Mets do have to hit, field, and face others. We’ll look at those in Part 2.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Welcome To Citi Field

When the corporate partnership with Citigroup was announced last year, and the name “Citi Field” was given to the new stadium, Mets fans were cautiously optimistic. After all, Citigroup is a NY-based company.

Many hoped that people would soon adopt “New York Citi Field” as the name, simply because it rolls off the tongue. Yet others are even tagging it “The Bank” which works on multiple levels, and more importantly, doesn't suck.

However, this logo does.

My first thought was that stupid looking logo looks like an edited version of the Domino's Pizza logo. It looks like a small company web site logo from 1995.

At no point in laying eyes upon this rectangular abortion do I see the words “New”, ‘York” or “Mets”. Nor do I see any design element that recalls Ebbets Field, the Polo Grounds, old-time baseball, or the great city of New York. The only red I want to see in this logo is a rusty, dented mechanical apple — not the stupid arch in the blatantly oversized Citi logo. Gotta love tradition, right?
I realize corporate sponsorship is a necessary evil in modern sports. In exchange for a crappy park name, we get to drink beers for less than $10 a pop. Fair enough.

But when a retro-styled stadium displays meaningless commercial logo treatments every five feet, it kills any sense of tradition and goodwill that the stadium designers had intended, and tradition is exactly what we want from this new ballpark.

Click Here for Citi Field Images.

Sanchez Back on the Mound!

The New York Mets' intra squad scrimmage Monday meant a lot more then a mere early season workout for Duaner Sanchez.

Sanchez pitched in a game for the first time since July 2006, when he separated his right shoulder in a taxi accident in Florida. He gave up two hits and walked one, while striking out one in a scoreless inning.

Sanchez was the primary setup man for closer Billy Wagner at the time of the accident. He had a surgery, then showed tardy for several spring training meetings last spring and was disciplined.

The shoulder was again injured and Sanchez again underwent surgery. He missed the entire 2007 season.

Sanchez could go a long way towards helping the Mets bullpen here in 2008. The Mets bullpen fell to eighth in the NL in ERA last season.

Sanchez threw all of his pitches, a curve ball, a change-up, a cut fastball and his fastball. His one strikeout came against Fernando Martinez on a change-up. Sanchez has said that the rehabilitation has made him stronger.

Juan Padilla also recovering from multiple surgeries, pitched well, throwing a few innings with his fastball topping out at only 85 mph.

Minor leaguer Jon Niese pitched a great inning. He threw consistently in the low 90s with his fastball and a few curve balls as low as 72 mph.

Joe Smith got hammered giving up two hits , one being a two-run triple to Jose Reyes. Smith also hit a batter. He said his slider was not working for him yesterday. On the positive side Smith did strike out David Wright and his fast balls were up around 90 mph.

Another minor leaguer pitched yesterday as well, Bobby Parnell. He started off great, but then failed to close the door with 2 outs already recorded. After getting the two outs Parnell give up three straight hits to Reyes, Angel Pagan and David Wright before closing out the inning.

For the intersquad play-by-play.

The Mets played the University of Michigan, owner Fred Wilpon's alma mater, this afternoon. The game finished in a 4-4 tie. Jason Vargas and Aaron Heilman both allowed a run apiece, while Wagner and Eddie Kunz pitched a scoreless inning. Wright hit a 2-run homer, and minor leaguer Michel Abreu tied the game with a 2-run homer of his own. Adam Rubin gave the play-by-play on his Daily News blog.