Sunday, May 31, 2009

“B” Mets Keep Rolling, Should Consider Trading Putz

No Reyes. No Delgado. No Beltran. No problem, as the Mets beat the Marlins today to take the series and finish 5-1 on this home stand. This squad just continues to win ball games and it’s been nothing short of amazing’

Once again, the super subs had key hits in this game to drive in all 3 Mets’ runs. First it was Angel Pagan who hit a two out double in the 5th to drive in Wilson Valdez to give the Mets an early 1-0 lead. Then in the 7th, still clinging to that one run lead, it was the 20 year old rookie F-Mart, who smacked an opposite field double down the left field line to drive in a run, which was followed up by Omir “Still Call Me Clutch” Santos who hit a double off the wall to drive in the third and ultimately winning run for the Mets.

John Maine looked great as he worked an easy 6 innings, not allowing run. But of course, he had to leave the game early due to, what else, the Beltran stomach virus. Angel Pagan had to leave early as well when he pulled up lame chasing down a deep fly ball over his head. He looks like he’ll go to the DL with a pulled groin. I feel sorry for Pagan as he has been great filling in the lead off spot and has played a flawless outfield. Pagan was visibly upset as he had to walk off the field, showing his frustration as he finally made it all the way to the big leagues and now he looks like he’ll be out for a while. I hope he returns and makes a contribution to this team somewhere down the line.

JJ Putz came on in the 8th and continued his mediocre run in a Mets uniform by allowing two runs before being pulled, leaving men on 1st and 3rd with one out for Bobby Parnell. Parnell, who is now showing a sweet breaking ball to go along with his heater, got out of the inning after allowing a soft hit for a run (charged to Putz), but struck out “Met Killer” Jorge Cantu, and then induced a ground out to end the inning. K-Rod closed it out and is now 14 for 14 in save opportunites this year. Can you believe that? What a difference a good bullpen makes.

However, the Mets should seriously consider trading JJ Putz. He’s been very inconsistent since he came aboard, and for me, he has been the most disappointing player this year. (I already knew Ollie was terrible and would have never signed him). I know he lengthens the bullpen, and allows Parnell to pitch the 7th, but since Putz has only been average so far, I think the Mets could get more value for their roster right now than having a so-so middle reliever, who openly admitted that he finds it hard to get pumped up to pitch the 8th. Other teams will covet him as their closer so Omar can get something good in return. I’d look to the Blue Jays to try to find a way to get Alex Rios, who would be perfect in right field. Plus, I’m sure the Rays could use him as well. Maybe Carl Crawford. Reyes, Crawford 1-2 in the lineup? Fantastic! Of course, I’d love to add another ace to this staff, but getting a Peavy is unlikely, and I hardly think the Astros would trade an Oswalt for a closer. That’s why Omar needs to shop him to a team who will contend and who needs a stopper.

Whatever Omar decides to do, he knows he has a big chip to work. Let’s just hope he makes the right move.

Mets Forfeit Game

They might as well have forfeited Saturday's showdown with the Marlins. I think if you watched the woman's softball World Series on ESPN you might have seen bigger names than what the Mets had out on the field.

Wilson Valdez got his first start since Clinton was in office. Ramon Martinez was playing out of position at 2B. No Wright. No Sheffield. No Reyes. Tatis was playing 3B.

Why even bother? Just forfeit the game and give everybody a day off.

The crazy part is in the bottom of the 9th I actually had a thought creep in my head that the Mets might be able to pull this out even though they were losing 7-3 with 2 outs.

But that was quickly crushed as FMart ended the game striking out on a really poor check swing call.

For a team that has ended the last two seasons by falling one game short of the playoffs, I hope this "forfeit" doesn't come back to haunt us.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sheff, Santos Carrying Mets

Proving yet again that it’s all about rooting for the guys in the blue and orange uniforms, I am ecstatic with the play of Gary Sheffield. Here’s a guy who I not only did not want, I wholeheartedly detested for a number of reasons. Well since he has joined this 2009 Mets’ team, Sheffield has been an absolute savior, especially since Delgado went down. Once again, he came up huge, this time in the bottom of the 11th, in a 1-1 game, he led off with a hard single to left, then, surprisingly, he stole second and went to third on a bad throw. This guy is 40 years old!

This of course, set up the heroics for Omir “Call Me Clutch” Santos, who proved his worth (and made us forget Ramon Castro) by contributing to both NY runs with a solo homer on an 0-2 pitch in the 5th, and then hitting the game winner to drive in the old man Sheffield to win it in the 11th. The entire team mobbed Santos, including Sheffield who sprinted over to him at first after touching home.

I don’t know what it is, but this team looks a lot different since Delgado and Reyes went down. They’ve been playing with an edge, they’re clearly more focused, and not to mention, they’ve proven that there is nothing better than having good pitching, which the Mets have exhibited in recent weeks. Pelfrey is a solid #2 guy, once again, pitching another great game. If Maine continues to throw well, this team, with its now formidable bull pen will be tough to beat.

Think about it. Where would this team be without Sheffield, Santos and Livan Hernandez? On March 25th, we would never thought these guys would be contributing in such an important way for this team. All I can say is that I am happy they are. Including Sheff!

Now only if David Wright could exorcise the anxiety demons he clearly has with men on base in the late innings, we’d be unstoppable.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Mets Are Learning to Ride Things Out

The Mets and Omar Minaya have come a long way from just a few years ago. With the team low on talent due to injuries, the Mets have not made their custom knee-jerk moves of giving up young players for mediocre talent. Instead they've decided to ride things out with the players they already have in their system.

That doesn't mean that a move won't be made in the next few months, but just 2 or 3 years ago you know Nick Johnson would have been traded for already.

I'm hoping the Mets have learned from past mistakes like the trading of Kazmir, Keppinger or Bannister for less than desirable talent in the hopes of salvaging a season. The fact that reporters are saying the Mets aren't happy with the trade options available is a miracle. When are the Mets ever not satisfied with the talent available? There have no rumors of Billy Beane conversations. How is this even possible?

It's possible because the team is winning.

If the Mets went 3-7 on their latest road trip and lost 2 out of 3 to the Nationals, Nick Johnson or Mark DeRosa or Bobby Bonilla would have been on this team by now. But winning helps ease Omar's desire to pull the trigger.

The second key is pitching. The Mets have gotten solid performances from their starters even with Oliver Perez leaving a gaping, multi-million dollar hole in the rotation. And, of course, the bullpen is much improved helping to finish what the starters started.

It always comes back to pitching. Here's to hoping that Mets management learned their lesson from years past and that we have better planning ahead of us.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I Like Video Replay in Baseball

So far the Mets are batting 1.000 when it comes to video replay. Who would have thought there would be so many reviewed home runs in the span of one week? What did we ever do before they instituted replay? How many games were lost because of it?

Ok, let's not get too excited. Every reviewed home run this season has helped the Mets in some way, but it's not a perfect system.

For starters it takes way too long to review. The NFL has it down to a science now and baseball will eventually get there. At some point I think we'll have an additional umpire/official scorer who will be watching the tapes and be able to call down to the field with the verdict if the umps on the field can't come to an agreement.

As more and more stadiums are built or renovated to have more quirky layouts or stupid mounds out in center field, video replay will become a more important aspect of baseball.

It probably shouldn't be that way, but them's are the times we live in.

Did I mention the Mets are in first place?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sheff, Wright and the Replacements

This is quite a mod squad we have playing baseball out in Flushing this week. No Reyes, no Beltran, no Church, no Schneider.

We still got Wright. And we got Sheffield. But then everyone else is pretty much a replacement. Who cares though as long as you keep winning?

There's nothing like a dose of the Washington Nationals to help an ailing team start to feel better. And it's just what the doctor ordered.

Sheffield continued to swing hit hot bat hitting another home run last night and driving in something like 21 RBIs over the course of the last two weeks. That's insane. Sheffield was a guy that I expected to finish the year with 10 home runs and 35 RBI. He's looked great at the plate, although I could do without his one handed catches in the outfield (use two hands!!!!).

Wright still is striking out more than I like, but his average and OBP tell me that I should quit complaining. How on earth is Wright hitting a shade under .350 with an OPS of .964 when he had such an abysmal April?

Hat tip goes to Livan Hernandez who's a guy I consistently said the Mets should avoid. He's turned out to be a vital asset this season and his rubber arm and Bugs Bunny curveball were just what the Mets needed to give their bullpen a much needed day off.

Santana goes tonight so expect a 1-0 game. Let's hope we have the 1.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'm Telling You for the Last Time! No Nick Johnson!

What is the last thing that a team with injury problems needs? Answer: Another player prone to injury (a.k.a. Nick Johnson)

Now Ken Rosenthal is spouting off about how the Mets are interested and need Nick Johnson. Ahem, no they don't.

Nick Johnson is on swing away from being on the DL. He's always on the DL. His middle name is Injured.

I know Omar likes to make moves to replace holes on the team, but Nick Johnson, though round enough to fill the hole, is not the right fit. I'm not arguing that he isn't a good hitter, because he is. I'm not arguing that he wouldn't be a good player at first base for the Mets, because he probably would do well. But at what cost?

I'm fine with Murphy at 1B for this season. Let's see if he's the first baseman of the future for the Mets and leave Pagan and Sheffield in the outfield on a platoon.

The loss of Alex Cora is actually a bigger hole to fill because the guy can play pretty much any position and gives you some versatility at the plate.

I'd rather the Mets go get another utility infielder with some experience who can backup 2B or SS and offer a kick from off the bench. Then save your prospects and your big deal makers for getting another starter to support Santana.

Let's no blow our minor leagues on Nick Johnson. Bring up FMart if Church goes on the DL. We don't need to go "all in" just quite yet. Let's see where the cards fall with what we have and make our big move for the pieces that are most important.

The Mets are a Team of Platoons

Besides David Wright and Carlos Beltran, I think every other position has a platoon going on. Jose Reyes would ordinarily not be platooning, but his injury has added him into the mix.

Even though beating the Washington Nationals is not a big deal, the Mets are playing impressive baseball with the MASH unit they have going on.

We have a guy who's never played first base before playing first. A guy with one leg playing second. A nobody playing shortstop. Two guys who didn't play practically the entire season last year playing right. A 40 year old that was dropped by his former employer earlier this season. Two career back up catchers running the battery. And I haven't even mentioned Jeremy Reed or Fernando Tatis yet.

But this is your 2009 Mets starting lineup at the end of May. How is this team still competing?

Simply put, the bullpen is better. Putz can be a putz out there, but for the most part the Mets have gotten what they needed out of their bullpen. Sunday's game was an abomination, but those things happen from time to time. But this year it's not happening every time like it did last season.

The Mets have also gotten solid outings from their starters. Including Redding, Maine, Livan and as always Santana.

So what does this show you? To me it shows me the Mets don't need to go out and trade the farm for a mediocre bat. If you want to make a trade for a Jason Bay or an Adrien Gonzalez, I'll back you 100%. But if you're trying to get Mark DeRosa or Nick Johnson, you're stupid.

Pitching is the key for this team. With Beltran, Wright, and hopefully Reyes staying healthy, this team will find ways to score runs with the knuckleheads they have out there. Pitching, pitching, pitching.

Can't ever have enough.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Mets Did Better Than Expected

The Mets returned from a 5-5 road trip to face the Washington Nationals tonight.

The trip started out like a dream sequence, turned into a nightmare, and ended with a somewhat surprising ending. This 10 game road swing was to be a real test of this ball club and it turned out to be just that.

The Mets basically had their "C" team out there for all 10 games and managed to split the road trip and win some impressive games while also losing some winnable affairs.

Without Delgado, without Reyes and without basically any bench the Mets played with some heart in Boston, showed some offensive prowess in San Francisco and showed how weak their weakest link is in LA.

Overall I can't complain. Ramon Martinez is our starting shortstop. Daniel Murphy is playing first base. And Jeremy Reed has all of a sudden become a valuable bat in the lineup. We should have lost 6 or 7 games.

And so now the beloved Nationals come to town. The Mets can't overlook them and should be able to get some additional wins this week to buy some time before some moves can be made and some players can get back on their feet.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Shocker In Fenway

Just one night after uber-ace and self-proclaimed ‘gamer’ Johan Santana reduced Kevin Youkilis to a pouting schoolgirl, a virtual unknown and journeyman catcher, Omir Santos made Jonathan Paplebon act like one. With two outs, a man on, and the Mets down by a run, Omir Santos lauched Paplebon’s first pitch a mere couple of inches over the home run ledge of the Green Monster, propelling the Mets to their most improbable victory in years. It was, quite simply, Amazin’

Not only will this will be one of those games that will be talked about for a long time, it could, quite possibly, be a defining moment in this 2009 Mets campaign. For all the talk about this team not having heart, not playing with passion (I’m guilty of it myself), the Mets, after getting swept in LA, limped into Boston with a rag tag Spring Training B squad and remarkably, have taken the first two games from a club who many feel is the best in baseball.

Both starting pitchers, Beckett and Pelfrey, were on top of their game throwing goose eggs on the board after allowing one run and two runs respectively in the first inning. Neither team had scored until the dramatic blast off Santos’ bat. JJ Putz, who came on to close it out in the bottom of the ninth because K-Rod was unavailable due to back spasms (surprise…another injury) was helped out by three spectacular defensive plays to preserve the miraculous “W.” First, it was David Wright who dove to his right, full extension, to snare a hard drive by Jason Bay, but threw wide to Castillo who kept his toe on the corner of the bag and picked the one-hopper to get the lead runner. It was an incredible play that, if not been made, could have put runners on second and third, with no outs. J.D. Drew then lined out to right. And with two outs, a man on first, and a very dangerous hitter in Mike Lowell at the plate (this team is stacked offensively by the way), Ramon “Who Says I can’t Field” Martinez dives to his right to grab another hard hit ball and threw a perfect one-hopper to Murphy who picked it and ended one of the most stunning regular season games in recent memory. It was an instant classic.

Random thoughts:
1). Youkilis, you’re a tough, hard-nosed player and a great hitter (and I love when you beat the Yankees), but come on dude, how could you still question Santana’s reaction to you after a). you clearly hang over the plate and dive into pitches, and b). you were indeed bitching at him as you were walking down to first. Watch the replay and - if you’re objective - you will clearly see these two points. Santana had every right to get ‘fired up’ as he stated after the game.

2). What was Jonathan Paplebon doing running on to the field in the bottom of the ninth screaming “safe” at the umpire who called the runner out at second on Wright’s throw? He was clearly out. Paplebon, you had your chance to close it out, but you blew it. Stay in the dugout and accept it. Could you imagine if Jose Reyes did that? He would be ridiculed all over the place.

3). I love all of the Mets Lifers filling Fenway and hearing the “Let’s Go Mets” chant on the telecast. We may have taken some humiliating defeats in recent years, but no one can deny our passion.

4). I was actually in Fenway this past Wednesday night when the Sox beat the Jays. That park is baseball paradise! For some, there is Maui, or Paris, but for any baseball junkie, there is Fenway Park. It is the most fantastic experience you can have, both in the park and outside. There is nothing that comes close…maybe Wrigley but I haven’t’ been there yet.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Stop This Insane Shortstop Trade Talk

The latest thing to hit NY sports talk radio is talk about the Mets need for a shortstop to fill in for Reyes.

Calm down folks, ok? Just settle down.

If Reyes is put on the 15-day DL, I agree that the Mets need a better option than Ramon Martinez at SS, but we don't need to go and trade JJ Putz or any one else to get a backup SS. If Reyes were injured for the season, that would be a different story. If he's out for 2-3 weeks, we don't need to overreact.

Instead of trading for a backup, the Mets should look to their youth to provide a stop gap. Bring back Argenis Reyes or Jonathan Malo to provide a defensive fill-in while Reyes is out.

What people are looking past is the fact that whoever the replacement for Reyes is, they will not be a force to reckoned with at the plate. You say DeRosa. You say Jamey Carroll. You say Jack Wilson. I say no thank you.

Let's keep our trading chips to fill the voids that we need to fill for the long term. Give me a defensive infielder who can buy us some time until Reyes gets back. And I'd rather see some young kids given a chance to shine and bat .220 than Ramon Martinez in there batting .220.

As long as Reyes does not have a career ending injury, let's not trade the farm for a backup.

Rants from a Mets West Coast Road Trip

Four hours of sleep a couple night in a row. Feels like I have infants in the house again so be prepared for nonsensical ranting, starting now:
  • Ramon Martinez is the best shortstop replacement we have in our farm system? Man, we are bone dry.
  • The one facet of the team that is the weakest, our starting pitching, has turned out to be the strongest part of the team over the last week. Johan Santana gave up the most runs from a starter this week.
  • Livan Hernandez pitched better than I've seen him in a while. Too bad Putz had to be a putz.
  • Nothing good ever comes from walking the leadoff batter
  • Angel Pagan deserves a shot to play every day now that Murphy is at first. Otherwise he's should be traded.
  • Just give Daniel Murphy his gold glove right now. You know you want to. But what happened to his bat?
  • If I have to hear another person say "the Mets need to get Nick Johnson" I may just go postal. A team of injured players should go out and get the most fragile individual since Moises Alou. Real smart.
  • David Wright is looking very comfortable at the plate.
  • I guarantee Carlos Beltran will not get a hit off Tim Wakefield this weekend. 
  • When Orlando Hudson smiles I know he's secretly taunting me. Jerk.
  • Why was Jose Reyes playing last night? Makes no sense. Off day today. Back to the East coast. I don't get it. Now he's out for another few weeks. Who's running the show here?
  • All that shrubbery in the bullpen at Dodger stadium would really annoy me if was a reliever.
  • A 3-7 road trip is a real possibility.
  • Is Moises Alou still available? He'd fit right in with this team.
  • Why is Murphy left in to bat against a lefty with runners in scoring position when Sheffield and Tatis are available on the bench? Stupid, stupid, stupid.
  • Did Jerry Manuel really expect Ramon Martinez to catch up with Jonathan Broxton's fastball? Come on. I don't care if John Maine had to play shortstop in the bottom of the 9th. You can't get there unless you get a hit.
Off day today. Headed down the shore for some Memorial Day relaxation and just so I don't have to listen to Mike Francesa.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mets Slipping Towards Mediocrity

The Mets left their bats, their clutchness, their fundamentals and their winning ways in San Francisco. The team is on the verge of unravelling and with a trip to Boston looming over the weekend this train looks like it will keep on rolling.

The Mets overachieved this past week against the Giants. With Delgado and Reyes out of the lineup, the Mets were the train that could, scoring massive runs in bunches. Well that train has since rolled back down the hill.

A lot of times you can pinpoint the problems to a specific area of the team that is not performing. Might be the bullpen, might be hitting with runners in scoring position, etc. But at this point and time pretty much everything not named David Wright or Beltran's bat is causing problems.

I thought the travesty that was Monday night's game may have sparked something in this team. Church was obviously ashamed. Beltran spoke out with some terse tones for the first time in his career. It was the perfect opportunity to rally this team together.

Instead it may have spiraled them even further down. A win today will be nice, but won't mean much because a potential sweep by the Red Sox is a potential reality awaiting our Memorial Day weekend.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Tragedy of Errors

5 errors. Scratch that. 6 errors, counting Ryan Church's inability to touch all the bases.

It's bad enough that you have to stay up after midnight to watch your team lose, but to have to watch them lose in this fashion is not quite waterboarding, but it's close.

I was all prepared to post this morning about how Tim Redding is ex-Met Rick White reincarnated, but I can't complain at all about Redding's performance. He walked a few batters more than he should have, but basically gave up one hit and two runs over 6 innings.

Redding got a taste of life as Johan Santana as his supporting cast fell down around him.

The corner outfielders must really be getting annoyed with Carlos Beltran. It's like he's trying to catch every ball out there. I blame him for the error in the 11th inning. Pagan had control of that ball, but Beltran comes flying over so Pagan backs off and the ball falls inbetween them. Settle down Beltran.

Jeremy Reed's error is going to happen from time to time. He's not first baseman and these are the risks you take with fill-ins.

But Ryan Church. Oh, Ryan, Ryan, Ryan. How on earth do you miss third base? And if you do miss the bag isn't your first instinct to go back and touch it? Inexcusable.

Craig Carton brought up an interesting point this morning in the fact that Jerry Manuel didn't bother to come out of the dugout and argue. That is odd. Jerry is a guy who's not afraid to argue. This was the most pivotal call of the game and not even a peep from the animated Manuel.

Carton chalked it up to the manager's dislike for Church which is evident in Church's loss of playing time, but I'm not sure if it's distaste for Church that caused Manuel not to argue or if he was just in utter shock like I was.

Nobody wins games after committing six errors. It's impossible. Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals. The Mets need a clinic on their off day and a shrink to get their heads back in the game.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Balk This Way: Mets Fail to Score, Fail to Sweep Giants

By guest blogger, Aaron Schuldiner

In light of the rough finishes to the last two seasons in Flushing, it has become easy, if not fashionable, for Met fans to push the panic button after every loss. But when you’ve won eleven of your last thirteen games, you’re entitled to an off night against a good starting pitcher, right?

Entitled or not, that was the case Sunday, as the Giants edged the Mets 2-0 behind six shutout innings from Matt Cain. Cain walked five, but allowed only three hits, and got two huge double plays to kill the only two rallies the Mets could muster. In the second inning, Jeremy Reed, playing for the injured Carlos Delgado, bounced into a bases-loaded double play before Mets starter Mike Pelfrey grounded out to end the inning. Then in the eighth, Jeremy Affeldt got Angel Pagan to hit into an inning-ending double play, again with the bases loaded. The Mets went quietly in the ninth, as Giant closer Brian Wilson looked dominant after taking losses on Thursday and Friday.

Cain did not have his best command, but every time the Mets tried to put something together, he buckled down and put out the fire. That was in contrast to Pelfrey, who pitched well overall, but sabotaged himself with three balks. Both runners that scored for the Giants advanced from first base to second on balks, the second run coming in on an RBI single by none other than Cain.

It has always been my stance that Pelfrey has front-of-the-rotation talent, but mentally, it sometimes appears he’s not there yet. After the second balk he was visibly shaken. After the call was made, Pelfrey almost fell down while kicking the back of the pitcher’s mound in frustration, stirring up memories of his embarrassing tumble off the mound in the Citi Field opener. After the game, Pelfrey joked that maybe he just likes making a fool out of himself when he’s on national television. The Mets can only hope that the issue can be worked out of Pelfrey’s mechanics quickly, and doesn’t develop into some kind of Mackey Sasser-esque mental tic. Since Pelfrey didn’t balk once in his 290-plus innings prior to 2009, I would assume that it’s something he and pitching coach Dan Warthen can get figured out.

Sure, there’s no such thing as a good loss, and with this team there are no moral victories. The fan base is insatiably hungry for wins, and both Manager Jerry Manuel and G.M. Omar Minaya could find themselves on the unemployment line if the Mets don’t play their way into October. There have already been a few bad losses this year, the kind that you lose sleep over. Both of Johan Santana’s losses in which he didn’t allow a single earned run and the twelve-inning loss to Atlanta come to mind.

So, considering the Mets took three out of four at AT&T Park, where the Giants had the second best home record in the league before this series, it’s hard to be too disappointed. And considering those three wins featured the Mets setting a franchise record with seven steals in a game, plus an impressive comeback win over reigning Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum (In my mind, the signature win of the season to date), it’s hard not to be encouraged. Throw in the facts that the Mets essentially played the entire series without Reyes and Delgado, have won eleven of their last fourteen, and currently occupy first place in the N.L. East, and I suspect that last night’s loss might be quickly forgotten by the masses with a win tonight in L.A..

But for Pelfrey, it might take a balk-free start in Boston next weekend. A second performance like last night’s won’t be nearly as easy for him to laugh off.

THE GOOD

Despite allowing seven walks, Cain, Affeldt, Wilson, and Bob Howry never let the Mets get on the board, stranding nine runners in the process. Cain moved to 4-1 on the year and lowered his ERA to a stingy 2.65.

THE BAD

Granted it was a makeshift lineup, and it was unfortunate that the Mets’ three bases loaded at-bats were taken by Pagan, Reed, and Pelfrey. But when you leave the bases loaded twice against a good staff, there’s always a good chance you won’t get another opportunity, as was the case last night.

THE UGLY

It shouldn’t be lost among Pelfrey’s mental lapses that he did pitch pretty well last night, but no starter had balked three times in a game since 1994, when ex-Met Al Leiter completed the trifecta for Toronto.

THANKS FOR THE ADVICE. MAYBE YOU SHOULD BE A G.M.

Considering the way Steve Phillips was fired from his job as Mets General Manager in 2003 and subsequently run out of town, there was something funny about hearing Phillips on last night’s ESPN broadcast try to convince a national audience that the Mets should trade Carlos Beltran at the season’s end. Thankfully, Joe Morgan called Phillips out, explaining that Beltran’s skill set at his position is virtually irreplaceable. As one fan said to me on a local baseball message board, it’s scary when Joe Morgan becomes the voice of reason.

ROAD WARRIORS

After taking three of four in San Francisco, the Mets will head south to take on the Dodgers who, at 14-3, own the best home record in baseball. Tim Redding is slated to make his first start for the Mets against the Dodgers’ Randy Wolf. Gametime is 10:10 EST.

Carlos Delgado and the Hip Specialist

That's either the title of a baby boomer version of a Berenstain Bears book or the sad commentary that is the Mets situation at first base.

Any time "hip specialist" is used in a sentence that doesn't include the words "grandma" or "grandpa" you've got a world of trouble on your hands.

Let's get to the point: Carlos Delgado is done for the season.

Sure he might be back at some point, but for the majority of 2009 the Mets will have no Carlos Delado in the lineup. That's about 25 less home runs and 90+ fewer RBIs. Brad Bortone over at Bugs and Cranks put together a good post on all the people the Mets can't sign because of their indiscretions in the past and highlights the rif-raf that is obtainable on the trade/free agent market.

Talk radio will be bursting with commentary about who the Mets should trade and who the Mets should get to help at first base, but I think we can live without Delgado if (big if here) we can get another starting pitcher.

Forget about first base. Go get a #2 starter to support Johan Santana in this rotation. Do we have the pieces to do something like that? Maybe not, but that should be the focus instead of replacing Delgado.

If we've learned anything these last two seasons, it's that pitching is the key. We've improved our bullpen. We've got the #1 starter on the planet. We now need a few supporting pieces to pull it all together.

Names like Oswalt and Peavey will be jockeyed around come July, but who knows if they will be available or if we have the players to get them. But the point is that's the position we need help with.

Do we want Niese starting a game the final week of the season like last year? Do we trust Livan Hernandez to win key games against the Phillies or Braves?

A platoon at first base of Tatis/Reed/Murphy/Elmo is going to struggle some games and pull through for you in others. We survived when Alou was injured the last two seasons from on offensive standpoint, but it was the pitching that hurt us in the end.

Pitching, pitching, pitching. Focus Omar. Focus. If I see Richie Sexson or Nick Johnson within 20 miles of Citi Field, I may pull a Jack Bauer and go rogue.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Trying to Dwell on the Positives

An extended weekend in San Francisco and the Mets walk away from the Bay area taking 3 out of 4 coming back to win in each of their 3 victories.

Sunday night's game was a polar opposite to the first 3 games of the series as the Mets struggled at the plate.

It would be easy for me to harp on the fact that the Mets left 12 runners on base Sunday night and couldn't score a single one of them. I could go on about how the Mets had the bases loaded and no one out in the 2nd inning and couldn't score a measly run.

I could wax poetic about the Mets total and utter failure in the 8th inning to take advantage of 2nd and 3rd and no one out only to walk away empty handed. I should whine about how Mike Pelfrey pitched admirably for the second straight game, but got zero help from his offense.

But let's remain positive. David Wright has found his stroke. Beltran continues to be the ghost of John Olerud. Except for Sunday, the Mets are hitting with runners in scoring position. They supported Johan Santana for the first time this year. The bullpen has been as solid as Gibraltar.

So I'm going to try and focus on the positives, although it goes against every fiber of my being. Serenity now.

On to Los Angeles.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Name is David Wright and I'm Deceptively Quick

David Wright is not exactly a speed demon. He's not a guy that you think of as a threat of hitting triples or stretching a single into a double. Sure he steals the occasional base, but he's not a feared baserunner.

Until last night.

Mr. Wright swiped four bases en route to a 7-4 Mets victory over the scrappy San Francisco Giants. Stealing two bases in a game is an achievment, but to steal four bases is a feat not often seen let alone by a guy not named Jose Reyes or Carl Crawford.

But David Wright's night was more than just a stolen base. He ended up driving in the winning run of the game on a single in the ninth after Carlos Beltran stole third. It's a game the Mets figuratively stole.

David Wright is quietly picking up his pace at the plate and is hitting .317 with an OBP just a shade under .400. Much of the attention in the lineup has been focused on Carlos Beltran's unearthly average that's near .400, but Wright is the key bat in the Mets lineup.

When David is on track, hitting the ball to the opposite field, drawing walks, and most importantly not striking out, the Mets are a better ballclub.

Great way to start a very tough 10 game road trip and turn a game that looked bad to begin with into a happy ending.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Back to the Fundamentals

The Mets need some extra batting practice, infield practice and an instructional workout on base running. The fundamentals are lacking on this team and it's losing ball games for the Mets.

The last week has seen a number of errors, base running blunders and a general lack of Little League level awareness of what to do in certain situations.

David Wright and Jose Reyes have been the main culprits with both having issues with their glove. In yesterday's 11th inning, Reyes started trotting out of the box instead of running hard thinking he had a home run. He would have been on 3rd base with no outs if he was running hard, but instead ended up on second and the Mets couldn't drive him in.

How many Mets players have been picked off or thrown out over the past week because they weren't thinking on the base paths? Off the top of my head I know Reyes, Santos, Tatis and Beltran have all been victims of this.

Errors happen. Mistakes happen. But now we're seeing a pattern form here. Get back to the fundamentals and we'll start seeing some smart, quality baseball out of this club. There are at least 2 losses this week that are the result of reckless plays that could have been avoided.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

An Alternative Reality

Tuesday's game was very appropriate given the fact that it aired the same night as the series finale of the FOX show "Fringe" who's final episode dealt with the possibility of there being an alternative reality to our current world that's just beyond our reach.

Tonight's game for the Mets was very much an alternative reality to where the team was last year.

Think about it. Up by 3 runs in the 8th, a team comes back to tie it up in the bottom of the ninth. Then in the 10th inning, two outs and nobody on somehow turned into bases loaded and the best hitter in the NL East up at the plate.

That was the 2008 Mets. How many games did we see the Mets blow in the final two innings and have the most positive of situations turn into run scoring bonanzas in the blink of an eye? In a word, countless.

But on Tuesday night the tables turned and a new reality was seen. The Mets became the team with the ability to come back, with a bullpen that can overcome a bad night the day before and hold the opponent when needed.

This was not the best game the Mets have played all season. Far from it. Mike Pelfrey pitched another great game going 7 innings, but leaving down 2 runs. But these are the games that show you what a team is made of. How they scratch their way back and are able to win games. The perfect symbol of how uncharacteristic this game was is the fact that Luis Castillo drove in the winning run on a sac fly. Yes, a sac fly from Luis Castillo.

If this alternative reality continues, I have a feeling I won't know what to do myself. For the first time in a long time I found myself smiling and enjoying the moment even when the Mets were down in th 9th.

Enjoy a Mets game even when they're losing? Impossible, but true.

The Mets Most Mind Blowing Stat

Are you ready for this? It will blow your mind.

Johan Santana has an ERA of 0.78. (that's less than one run per 9 innings)
The Mets are 4-3 in Santana's 7 starts.
WHAT?????????????????????????????????????

How on earth can you lose games where your starting pitcher is barely giving up a run per game? This is beyond ridiculous. It's ludicrous. It's egregious. It's abominable (yes, like the snowman).

If I'm Santana I either ask for a raise or demand a trade for somebody who will drive in a stinkin' run during my starts. Oh man this is so frustrating.

Santana should be 7-0. I don't want to hear the excuse that Santana goes up against the #1 starter on the other team. No other team's pitcher has been as lights out this year as Santana. No excuses, just results.

This should be a magical season for Johan Santana. Let's hope his own teammates don't ruin it for him.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mets Failed the Test

In my previous post I talked about how this first game against the Braves would be a test for the Mets coming off a 7 game win streak and their ace on the mound.

Well the Mets failed with flying colors.

Santana struggled early, but honestly folks, he pitched another game that was winnable. The Mets were baffled by Derek Lowe for most of the night, but the team was not going to win this game tonight. Errors, a roughed up bullpen and an inability to get anything going at the plate added up to a loss to the rival Braves who were without one Larry Jones.

I honestly think the Mets looked past this game. Santana was pitching and they thought it was a "lock" (thanks Craig Carton). But we shouldn't be surprised because that's how they've played for every Santana start. Lackluster offense with a sensational pitcher on the mound.

Still a 7 game win streak and winning 8 of the last 10 is still a great place to find yourself. However, a bounce back win would be great on Tuesday as the dreaded West Coast swing awaits the Mets at the end of the week.

Tonight is a Test for the Mets

7 game winning streak. Offense is clicking. Pitchers are going more than 5 innings. The bullpen is holding. Wright is back on track. Beltran is still on fire. Reyes is starting to produce. Our backup catcher is Mr. Clutch. And the Mets find themselves in first place.

So you would think as a Mets Lifer I'd be able to enjoy the moment? Nope.

Tonight's game is a test for the Mets. Santana is on the mound so you think you'd be able to "lock it up" as Craig Carton would say. But the issue is the Mets have been scoring tons of runs and are primed and ready to hit a cold streak.

Since they already seem to have a propensity for not scoring runs for Santana, I think we're looking at a 1 or 2 run effort tonight.

The second reason is it's the Braves and Derek Lowe. Here is the pitcher the Mets should have gotten facing them on their home turf against their ace. It's an NL East battle that always seems to be a struggle.

I fully expect Santana to go 7 innings, strike out 8, and possibly give up 1 or 2 runs. That should be enough to win a game, but I've said it before: the Mets run out of runs.

The effort against the Pirates was great, but it was the Pirates. Can they duplicate it against the Braves? Let the test begin and we'll see how good this team really is.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Random Thoughts after a Sweep of the Phillies

So much is running through my mind that I can't put together a cohesive post on a single topic so here comes a stream of thoughts:

-Mike Pelfrey looks good. Nice velocity on his pitches and he's throwing strikes. It seemed like every Phillie batter was driving the ball into the ground. That's when you know you're doing something right as a pitcher.

-David Wright might be coming out of this funk. Hitting a home run 420 feet tends to do that to you. Plus he went 3 for 3 with two walks, a homer, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI. That can also be interpreted as "productive."

-Jerry Manuel might be the most enjoyable manager to watch getting thrown out of games.

-Shane Victorino is an ankle biter. He's the John Stockton of modern baseball. Weasel of a player who's scrappy and knows how to be really, really annoying and get away with it.

-Is it just me or is it weird having a bullpen that holds?

-The Mets should (I repeat, should) go on a run here. Coming off some huge wins in Atlanta and against the Phillies, they now have the Pirates come into town before a trip out West. If there ever was a time to set this team in the right direction, it's now.

-All the recent success has come with basically no production from Jose Reyes. If he gets hot, this team will start rolling.

-Charlie Manuel is undoubtedly the all time worst looking manager in a uniform.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Johan Santana is Masterful

I wrote a post the other day about appreciating the performance of Carlos Beltran, but that fact is Johan Santana is the best pitcher on the planet right now.

Santana through yet another gem on Wednesday, striking out 10 en route to his 4th win of the year. If the Mets could score runs on the days Santana pitches, he'd be 6-0.

Santana's ERA is an otherworldly 0.45 while the Mets have only scored a total of 12 runs during his 6 starts.

How much longer can he keep this up? No clue, but the Mets (and Mets fans) should ride this gravy train as far as it will take us. As bad as the rest of the rotation is, every 5th day we have the pleasure of watching pure pitching genius in motion.

By the way, hat tip to Carlos Delgado for his coy hat tip to the crowd after catching a foul pop-up with two hands. Love a guy that can own up to his mistakes. And does Pedro Felician own Ryan Howard or what?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Just What the Mets Needed

Tuesday's game against the Braves had more drama than an episode of Law & Order, and it was all packed into the last 20 minutes.

Castillo makes a little league error. Then Delgado tops it by dropping the easiest fly ball you've ever seen. The Braves get the winning runs on base.

We've witnessed this all before. Actually, we've seen this unravel all too often, but this time it was different.

The Mets didn't lose.

The Mets got the tack on runs they needed. They saw some timely hitting with runners in scoring position. They saw some RBIs with 2 outs. They got a good pitching performance from their starting pitcher and the bullpen held on for the save.

In one game, the Mets did all the things they have failed to do for much of this season as well as the last two. This was far from playing the perfect game, but the Mets did enough to get the win in what has been the bain of their exisitence, Turner Field.

A sweep of the Braves, although it's only a 2 game series, is just what the Mets needed. Beltran continues to hit like Roy Hobbs. David Wright is starting to come around. The team appears to have a little more energy.

And it's just in time for a Santana start against the Phillies tomorrow.

Mets Quote of the Week

This came from an old buddy of mine after watching Saturday's disaster that was Oliver Perez:

"Dude, I watched that Mets/Phillies game Saturday. Oliver Perez needs some AAA worse than a broken down car right now."

Priceless and oh so true.

Enjoy Carlos Beltran While It Lasts

Carlos Beltran is a force to be reckoned with...for now.

Like any good Mets Lifer, I realize that the good times only last for so long before utter and total disappointment enters the picture. But in the meantime, you have to enjoy what Carlos Beltran is doing.

Beltran is batting an even .400 on the season and belted a pair of home runs last night to help the Mets get the win that they desperately needed in the terror dome that is Turner Field.

It's not just the power hits that I'm enjoying, it's the way Beltran is swinging the bat that every time he steps up to the plate I'm almost positive that he's going to get a hit. He's hitting to all fields, finding the gaps, and assessing the situation to drive the ball to the right spot on the field.

Sure, he could learn to slide a little bit more.

I'm not expecting Beltran to continue this hot streak for the next 4 months. I even expect him to go 0 for 30 at some point during the season, but when a player finds a groove like this you have to sit back and enjoy the skill that it takes to be that "on" for an extended period of time.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Mets Need a Chase Budinger Moment

I'm a huge University of Arizona basketball fan, and this season I witnessed one of the most despicable moments in college basketball in a game between UofA and University of Houston. But it actually turned out to be a season changing moment for the team, and it may very well be what the Mets need.

I'll pick up my commentary after you watch the video:



You see Chase Budinger had gotten a reputation for being soft and too laid back (hmm related to Carlos Beltran?) even though he's an exceptionally talented basketball player. The fact that Budinger got up off the floor and started to go after Aubrey Coleman was a shock in and of itself and showed his teammates that he's not the doormat everyone said he was.

All of a sudden Budinger started playing with fire and intensity, and his teammates responded. In fact this game UofA was down 10 points with 52 seconds left and came back to tie it and win it in OT. That game, that moment, that fire saved the season. Eventually UofA made the NCAA tournament and progressed to the Sweet 16 before being eliminated.

This is the type of thing that needs to happen to the New York Mets. It's horrible to say that, but that's what it has come to. The Mets need a season changing moment. Is it a fight? Is it a brawl? Is it a screaming match in the clubhouse? Is it Wright or Manuel or Reyes getting tossed out of the game?

I don't know, but they need some outside act to force them to respond. Like Chase Budinger, they need an opportunity to publicly shake off the soft stigma and respond to adversity before our very eyes.

Bring the Bad Boys Back

Not Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Not the '88 Pistons either. I'm talking the Ray Knights of the world.

Where have all the bad boys gone? They've been replaced by a nonchalant Carlos Beltran, a boy scout sweet David Wright and a cast of characters that could care less. I'm not saying we need to get rid of Beltran or Wright. I'm saying what on earth has happened to the fire?

I remember the '86 Mets getting into fights at least once a week. Not that a baseball brawl is a good thing, but they weren't going to let anyone push them around. Those teams in the late 90's had guys like Ventura, Zeile and Piazza who would take a stand and light a fire in their teammates. Ventura even charged the mound on Nolan Ryan once, although not with the Mets.

Who's going to charge the mound on this team? Can you imagine if Carlos Beltran just dropped the bat and tee'd off on Ricky Nolasco? I can't even imagine it.

Jerry Manuel has even lost some of his gumption that he had last season. I loved seeing that guy jump out of the dugout and start getting in the umps faces when they screwed up.

Omar Minaya made a comment about some guy's having edge and others who don't. Some players didn't like it.

Too bad.

This is New York. Toughen up. Let's start playing hard. Play with some fire. Let's take out guys sliding into second. Let's brush a guy back every once in a while. Let's hustle out in the field.

Bring back the Delgado fist pump. I want Reyes dancing on the top step. I want David Wright to show some of the fire he had in his belly during the WBC when the opposing player was showing off after hitting a home run.

None of that stuff helps win ball games today, but it can lead to that.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Walks Are Like Kryptonite

Sean Green was visibly ticked. He should be. He just hit a batter and then walked the next two to force in the game winning run with the bases loaded.
That was the end of what should have been a tide turning game for the Mets. Oliver Perez imploded (surprise!). The Mets somehow fought back to take the lead (surprise #2!). But in typical Phillies' fashion they also fought back to tie it up with a home run from Ibanez off of Pedro Feliciano (no surprise there).

Mets pitchers walked 9 Phillies on Saturday afternoon, and ultimately that's what lost them the game.

Now the Mets batters don't get off that easy. Beltran's double play in the top of the 10th was brutal. Sheffield had a chance with the bases loaded and 2 out, but didn't deliver. Jose Reyes struck out seemingly every time up.

But even with all that, the Mets still scratched out 5 runs which should have been enough to win, but the walks ended up being the kryptonite that just paralyzed their ability to hold on for a win.

Hat tip to Ken Takahashi for a great outing in relief.

To leave on a positive note, the Mets had a chance to win after the first two innings looked like the game would be over early. Still a shot to win the series tomorrow with Maine on the mound.

Friday, May 1, 2009

What's the Prediction for the Mets vs Phils Series? Pain.

To quote the eloquent and loquacious Clubber Langer from Rocky 3, I'm predicting "pain" this weekend in the Mets vs Phillies series.

The Mets are down in the dumps. From a mental and on field performance persepective, this team is pretty low. The manager is making questionable moves (questionable is an understatement). Fans are calling for the trading of David Wright (settle down there folks).And the lockdown bullpen that we thought we had is showing some chinks in the armor (please not again).

And here come the Phillies.

The Mets have played well against the Phillies in Philadelphia the last few years, but most times we were entering the series ready for battle or prepared to defend our perch at the top of the division.

Not so this time. This could be a slaughter of a series. No Santana. We don't get to face Hamels. Perez may have a nervous breakdown on national TV on Saturday. Fat Matt Stairs is guaranteed to hit a home run off us.

The only thing I can put confidence in is that Pedro Feliciano will be brought in to face Ryan Howard, and he will strike him out. It's the only guy Feliciano owns.

I hope I'm wrong. This team needs a lift. David Wright needs a "moment" to brake out of this funk and he'll have opportunity to do that at some point this weekend. But grab some Advil because pain may be coming.