Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Takahashi Belongs in the Bullpen

Takahashi has come down with the Johan Santana disease. This is where a decent pitching outing is destroyed by one horrible inning. Both Santana and Takahashi have been plagued with this problem in 2010. One inning ruins the whole game.

Such was the case last night. Takahashi gave up 6 runs in one inning thanks to a grand slam and a two run shot by Uggla and hence digging the Mets in a hole after they gave him a 3 run lead.

The amazing thing to me about last night was how after that inning Takahashi continued to get himself into trouble. On multiple occasions he had runners on second and third with less than 2 outs and was able to get out of the jam. Ultimately he only lasted 5 2/3 innings but it made me realize he's a guy that needs to be in the bullpen.

Hitters are able to make adjustments after seeing him the second time thru the lineup. He doesn't have amazing stuff, but if he were to enter a game after say Pelfrey pitched the first 6 innings, Takahashi's pitches would be a tremendous change for hitters to deal with.

With 6 wins on the season, I can't rail on Takahashi too much for being the makeshift replacement that he has been. He's done a decent job, but his starting rotation days should be numbered.

Cliff Lee's 9 inning performance against the Yanks last night should help move things along.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Ah, it had to eventually end. The RA Dickey run of untouchable came to a screeching halt last night. Dickey gave up 5 runs in 5 innings, and it appeared the Marlins just weren't bothered by his knuckleball. He didn't seem to have the same speed on it as he did his last start, but I'm not bothered by this poor outing because Dickey has been so great since he came up from the minors.

The oddest event of the night was Jason Bay hitting two home runs. TWO! Must be that Puerto Rican air. It's a shame that Bay's two home runs came on a night when the Mets got pummeled but hopefully it's a sign he's finding his stroke again.

The last thing that stood out for me last night was the urgency for the Mets to get another top notch starter. Not because Dickey got tagged, but an extra starter allows Takahashi to move back to the bullpen where he is much needed. In addition a starter, like Cliff Lee, doesn't leave many days for the opposition to look forward to facing Mets pitching. Even with Santana's struggles, he's still an experienced picture who historically commands respect. Then you have a surging Pelfrey, a knuckleballer in Dickey and Niese as your back of the rotation guy.

Adding Cliff Lee to that mix would arguably be one of the best rotations in baseball. Of course you have to give up something to get something and who knows what that kind of move will require.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Mets Got Talent

Do the names Oliver Perez, Mike Jacobs, Luis Castillo and Gary Matthews Jr. mean anything to you? Me neither, but these were guys on the opening day roster for the 2010 Mets and are now exiled to oblivion.
They have been replaced with guys like Ike Davis, Angel Pagan, Ruben Tejada and RA Dickey. The talk of the Mets having no young prospects has died down and appears to have been a false statement made my so called baseball experts to downplay the Mets ability to grow talent.

It appears the Mets do have talent. Youthful talent. Big league talent. RA Dickey isn't exactly young talent, but he's a guy that others gave up on. The Mets didn't and are reaping the benefit.

The crazy thing of this youthful talent surgence is that it doesn't involve guys like Fernando Martinez or Eddie Kunz who we've heard so much about for so long. These youngsters may still prove to be big league worthy, but they're still a ways off.

The one question that this raises in my mind is those evaluating talent in the organization. The hype of Lastings Milledge who has become a bust and Fernando Martinez who seems to be falling from grace appears to be for not while unknowns like Ike Davis are the ones making a difference. It could just be the game of baseball as it's harder to determine what players will be stars compared to the NFL and NBA.

Even so I hope this youth movement teaches the Mets organization a lesson...that it's okay to let the kids play. Instead of signing career backups like they have in the past (a.k.a. Jeremy Reed, Miguel Cairo, etc.) the Mets should feel confident that they can give their young players a chance to shine.

So far it's worked out quite nicely in 2010.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Focus on Mets Series Win, Not Clutchness

I know the blogosphere will be a buzz today about the Mets lack of clutch in late innings. Everyone will want to focus on David Wright's inability to get the big hit against a left-handed pitcher in the 7th inning with one out and the bases loaded. And ultimately the Mets were not able to recover after that.

Even though the Mets lost yesterday, it's yet another series win against a team with a winning record. Series wins are the answer to a 162 game season. The more series wins you can pile up the better the position you'll be in for a playoff run.

I'd like the Mets to win every game, but I realize that's not going to happen. Sure the Mets lost, but they showed the ability to recover after a poor pitching performance by Takahashi and that they can get hits with 2 outs to try and mount a rally.

The Tigers are decent, but the Twins are good as they come rolling into town tonight. If the Mets can get yet another series win against an American League opponent, they will have one of the best records for interleague play in all of baseball.

Bring on Mauer, Morneau and any other Minnesota/Canadian grown talent they can throw at us. Let's go Mets!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chewbacca Fever

R.A. Dickey, who I still think looks like the human Chewbacca, is playing some unbelievable baseball right now. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop when Dickey takes the mound thinking, "well this has got to be the outing where he gets hammered." But it has yet to happen.

Dickey can't keep up this unbelievable performance all year...can he? His knuckleball has been just wicked at times and he mixes in his fastball nicely to keep hitters guessing. The amazing thing to me is how he improves his knuckleball over the course of the game.

In the first inning last night, it looked like Dickey didn't have command of his knuckleball, but as the game progressed it appeared that he made the adjustments he needed to get hitters out. He throws it high in the zone. He throws it in the dirt. And the results are all the same.

I was a Dickey Doubter when the Mets called him up, but he has transformed me into a Dickey Disciple. Of course the run support he gets certainly helps, but you can't question a guy who's undefeated with a 2.33 ERA.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mets Pull a Berzerker Barrage on Tigers

I can't remember the last time I saw an offensive onslaught like the Mets put on last night. It seemed that every time the 1-4 batters got up, I was totally confident there was going to be another hit. The Mets hit with no one on. The Mets hit with runners in scoring position. It was a berzerker barrage of hits. Those who have ever played Marvel vs. Capcom know what I'm talking about.

This was a great game to back home to. Mets had lost 2 out of 3 to the Yanks but came out to show that it was merely a blip on the radar. When the Mets are at home, they are a force to be reckoned with.

Speaking of forces, Angel Pagan is about to force Carlos Beltran into obscurity. Pagan flirted with a cycle last night when just hours before he was being peppered with questions about Beltran's return to center field in a few weeks. If I was Pagan I would have responded, "Carlos who?"

This team is rolling right now from the batting perspective, but the pitching will need to continue to improve to effect this team's playoff chanes.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Big Picture

Sure the Mets lost 2 of 3 to the Yankees. Sure they ended their magical 8 game win streak. Sure the Mets offense was absent for most of the weekend. But you have to look at the big picture.

The Mets just went 7-2 on a 9 game road trip. That's rare. In fact I can't remember the last time the Mets played that well on the road. We would all like the Mets to win every game they play, but that's just not a realistic outcome.

I'm pretty satisfied with the way this team is playing right now. And now they get to come home for a 6 game home stand and with an off day have a chance to rest.

Santana might not be what he used to be. Bay may be struggling. And KRod is Pray Rod. But if you've followed this team for the last few years (or the last 20) you have to like what the 2010 Mets are doing.

I never thought I'd have that kind of outlook after dropping 2 out of 3 to the Yanks, but I do.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Surprise! Mets are 11 games over .500

There's really nothing else to say. Yup, it's true. This team is legit. Just shutout the Yanks with Takahashi as the starter. Eight wins in a row. 11 games over .500.

Here comes Pelfrey and Santana. Baseball is back in Flushing and I could care less when Beltran is scheduled to return.

Let's Go Mets!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Love Interleague Play

If the Mets can play the Indians and Orioles every year, I will be a big proponent of interleague play. It's when the Mets get stuck playing the Rays, the Angels and the Twins that it's not so fun.

The host cities of Cleveland and Baltimore have been more than accommodating to the Mets over the last week that I've actually started to consider the DH as being a viable option. Ok, I won't go that far.

Of course this trip to the bottom dwellers of the American League will end tonight and the Mets will return back to NYC to play the Yanks. But what this road trip has done is instill some confidence in this Mets lineup, remove the "can't win on the road" monkey from their backs and allowed them to make a run up the standings in the NL East.

Can the Mets return to New York as the lone New York team in first place? It's possible, but even if that isn't the case the Mets will return home to a rejuvenated fan base who's excited about winning baseball being back in Queens.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Beating Bad Teams is TCB

TCB? Taking Care of Business. That's what the Mets have to start doing and they did just that this weekend in Baltimore.

The key to a 162 games season is beating the teams you're supposed to beat and then staying competitive against the teams who might be better than you. While the Orioles are the laughing stock of baseball, the Mets have quietly become a winning team thanks in part to a 3 game sweep of the lowly birds of Baltimore.

Pelfrey was fortunate enough to have potentially his worst performance of the season occur on a day when the Mets ignited for double digit runs. That angry stare you feel is Johan Santana. Guy can't have that happen to him.

Nice to see Bay go 4 for 4, but for me seeing David Wright bang to homers in one game was the icing on the cake as Wright has been an RBI machine over the past week.

The good news is that it's on to Cleveland. Another team the Mets should beat. Of course you can't win every game, but a 5-1 road trip would be just what the doctor ordered.

Winning makes everything better. Even a trip to Cleveland.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Everybody Loves Batlimore

The Mets have been awful on the road this year, but this particular road trip couldn't have come at a better time. The Mets are coming off a 5-1 home stand and are on a nice run. Instead of having this run end quickly with a trip to the West coast or perhaps a trek to Atlanta, St. Louis or Philadelphia, the Mets have the luxury of heading to Baltimore and Cleveland before a trip to the Bronx.

This is the best scheduled road trip of the season. The Mets need to pile up some road wins to boost their confidence and maintain their above .500 play. Baltimore has just been demolished by the Yankees and have a lineup of underachievers and lifelong role players. Cleveland is struggling as well due to injuries and a vacant starting rotation.

The Mets need this road trip. If the Mets go 4-2 on this road trip they will find themselves 6 games over .500 when they return to New York to play the Yankees. That's a position I would love to see this team in especially with the makeshift rotation, the slumping Jason Bay and the always questionable bullpen.

This is the opportunity the Mets need to make an early season run in the NL East. If they flop on this trip, there's little hope that they'll be able to have a winning road trip against more competitive teams.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

No Doubter from Davis for the W

In the bottom of the 11th inning, there was no doubt the Mets were going to win this battle. Ike Davis demolished a fastball well into the second deck of the right field stands to cap off yet another heroic home victory.

I honestly thought Angel Pagan's triple just an inning earlier was going to end it, but Davis' shot was an absolute no doubter.

Mike Pelfrey made the rare feat of going 9 innings with no walks and no win to show for it. Pelfrey was on target tonight. He got into some trouble, but always seemed to find a way to get out of it. In a miracle to beat all miracles, Pray Rod pitched an uneventful 10th inning and looked like he had the most command that I've ever seen from him while in a Mets uniform.

This was a fun game to watch as Pelfrey was on his game and to see Reyes tie it up with a homer and then watch the team celebrate with Davis was just baseball at its best.

A win for Santana tomorrow is the only thing I can think of that would be better.

Mets Fan Mistakenly Steals Ball from Kid

This is a story I can relate to. Evidently during Sunday's Mets game, David Wright tossed a ball into the stands intending for it to be caught by a 10 year old Mets fan when suddenly a guy sitting a few seats over reaches in front of the kid to catch the ball.

The New York crowd boos. But what they didn't see was that this guy was a father at the game with his two young boys and he handed the ball to his excited 3 year old son. Evidently this dad was getting lambasted by the crowd and TV, so falling to pressure he handed the ball back to the kid for whom it was intended.

Thankfully David Wright got wind of this and made sure that the dad got two balls two give to both his sons that were at the game so the matter was resolved with a happy ending.

To me this is a classic tale because I have two boys and I definitely can see myself reaching in front of another kid to get the ball for my boys. I know for a fact that my dad would have done the same thing.

Yahoo Sports has the full story and pics of the affair. Poor guy. Just trying to be a hero for his kids while causing an unintentional incident at the ballpark.

Mets Should Seek Vengeance

The Mets were embarrassed by the Padres in San Diego last week. And here they come into Citi Field after doing the Mets a favor and beating the Phillies in their matchbox stadium.

I want vengeance on the Padres and I hope the Mets players feel the same way. The team is riding a Citi Field high after sweeping the Marlins and they have Pelfrey and Santana going in the first two games. I want aggressive offense, no nonsense pitching and, if I can be greedy, I want another series sweep.

I don't think I'm asking for too much. This Padres team is the definition of an overachiever. There's no reason the Mets can beat this team in 3 straight or at the very least two out of three. The NL East is in a serious state of flux right now and if the Mets can play with some stability and consistency this may be the time to make their mark.

To prepare yourself for the upcoming series and to get your mind in a state of serenity, I recommend you head over to Bugs and Cranks to enjoy Brad Bortone's hiaku on the Mets current state of affairs. Any literature that can incorporate Doug Sisk, hand licking, and Bobby V is a work of mastery.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Boostrap Mets

Sunday's game should have been a loss. In fact last year I would have guaranteed a loss when the Mets found themselves down 5-0 after Takahashi gave up his second homer of the game to Cody Ross. But what a difference a year makes.

This team has a "pull 'em up by the bootstrap" mentality. They fight. They claw. They don't give up. Sure Freddy Gonzalez's questionable moves, namely the short leash he gave Ricky Nolasco, helped open the doors for a Mets rally but the guys still had to put the ball in play.

Everyone in the lineup contributed to this comeback, save for Reyes. Franceour had the clutch home run of the year tying the game at 6, but Wright, Ike, Barajas, Cora, Bay and Pagan all had a hand in this W. The 8th inning was a microcosm of what a difference the 2010 season is from 2009. Pagan leads off with a single. Pagan runs on a 2-2 pitch to Bay which Bay slaps for a single allowing Pagan to move to third. Davis hits into a DP but Pagan scores.

Go ahead run. Game winning run.

Sure Pray Rod and his arsenal of theatrics made the 9th inning more than interesting, but in the end it's a W in the books and a revenge sweep of the Fish.

The best part is Pelfrey pitches the next game and for the first time in a long time I have confidence that a streak will continue.

Link: Mets Plain Niese-ty

Head on over to Metszilla to check out a recap of Saturday's victory over the Marlins. This is the first I've seen someone use "Niese-ty" but it's kind of kitchy.

The Mets have 21 wins at home which is a major league leading best. But as Metszilla points out as soon as they leave home sweet home the wheels fall off the wagon.

The most impressive thing to me about yesterday's win was the way Niese pitched with ease. He kept his pitch count to 90 over 7 innings and was using his fastball and curveball effectively. For a first start after coming off the DL this was a fantastic performance and leaves Mets fans with hope that the rotation might not be as bad as we thought.

Ok, it probably is, but let's ride this high for a bit. Mets face off against the Marlins again at 1 pm on Sunday.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tigers' Galarraga Gets Corvette and a Ton of Respect

I'll be honest. I would have thrown a temper tantrum had I been Armando Galarraga last night when Jim Joyce made a fatal call blowing Galarraga's magical night. As a baseball pitcher, a perfect game is the pinnacle of individual achievement. It's one of sports rare masterpieces that was pretty much stolen from him.

Galarraga though is the epitome of sportsmanship. As soon as the wrong call was made Galarraga just gave a surprising look and let the fans and his manager unleash their disapproval. His comments to the media have been a class act and as the image here shows, he made a move to put this error behind him (and Jim Joyce) for good by taking out the lineup card as Joyce was the home plate umpire for this next game.

Joyce has been openly regretful for his mistake and even expressed public tears when Galarraga brought him the lineup card.

Galaragga has just given him what Joyce so needed - public forgiveness. Baseball should learn from this incident and I'm not just referring to the obvious need for instant replay. Baseball as a whole, the fans and players included, can see that athletes can be decent human beings. They don't have to throw tantrums. They don't have to be narcissists.

They can be true examples of sportsmanship. Or at least Armando Galarraga can.

Are the Mets the Unluckiest Team in Baseball?

I offer as proof:

Sign the best closer in baseball who just set the record for most saves in a season only to have him lose velocity, control and effectiveness in the next two seasons.

Build a top notch ballpark only to have trouble filling the seats because of the pitiful decline of the team.

An unbelievable season of injuries is follow by a season of secret surgeries, pitching head cases, borrowed players from Mexico and sporadic injuries throughout the lineup.

David Wright recovers from his power drought in '09 only to have Jason Bay fall into home run poverty in '10.

Johan Santana has more games where he left the mound leading only to lose than he has total wins with the Mets.

Mets try to make room for Daniel Murphy on the team by moving him to second base only to have him blow his knee trying to play second base.

The 8th inning man the Mets signed is nowhere to be seen and so there's a revolving door of arms throwing the 8th inning this season.

The best starting pitching prospect is in the bullpen and currently can't leave because of a lack of bullpen talent.

Some of the most expensive salaries on the Mets roster have yet to perform at a minor league level this season (Beltran/Perez).

Mets make a miracle run from worst to first in a week only to plummet back to worst in another seven days.

Worst Call in Major League History?

And who says umpires can't effect the outcome of a game? Umpire Jim Joyce just ruined an unbelievable feat in major league history. With 2 outs and a perfect game on the line Jim Joyce makes the most heinous call in possibly all of major league baseball ruining Armando Galaragga at chance at the record books.

It's not even close. You can't even cut Joyce some slack. It feels like he wanted to blow this perfect game as unbelievable as it sounds.

Take a look at the video here and be blown away. This unbelievable photo was from Twitter user @jose3030

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Oliver Perez Doesn't Make Business Sense

Fans may rant and rave about Oliver Perez (myself included), Mets players may anonymously bad mouth him to the media and talk radio can rail him for hours, but when it comes right down to it how the Mets handle Oliver Perez is strictly business.

As much as we love our teams we often overlook the fact that this is a business being run by people who are beholden to the almighty dollar. Winning brings in dollars, but if a losing team can still make a profit that's not a bad deal for these guys either.

So let's look at the Oliver Perez situation and you'll see why it's bad business for the Mets to hold on to him as they currently are.

Perez is estimated to make about $12 million over the next two years. He's signed a contract stating such. So you know what that means? That money is basically spent. Sure it's allocated on a balance sheet for the next two calendar years, but in reality that money is already gone. The Mets are not making that back.

The only way the Mets could get out of paying Perez is by trading him and the other team picking up his full contract. Of course, it's logical to assume that whatever team he is traded to will send an equal valued contract back to the Mets so there's no cost savings. So basically holding onto Perez doesn't make the Mets any more profitable.

In fact it could make them lose money.

Fans come to the ballpark to see a winning team or see an exciting team play. The Perez situation is turning away fans from coming to the games. Sure the stands still have fannys in the seats, but it's the fan that comes to 3 or 4 games a season that is less likely to spend the money to attend a game because of the bad taste the Mets are leaving in their mouths with Perez.

Now let's say the Mets DFA Perez. Money is already spent for his contract so they're not losing any money. They may have to bring in another pitcher, maybe from Triple A or maybe a free agent. Let's say that it costs the Mets $3 million for this season to bring in a free agent pitcher.

Let's also assume that now that the Mets are rid of Perez, Mets fans are now more pleased with the team and more fans are likely to come out to the ballpark. For the sake of argument let's say that Perez's leaving the team causes on average 300 more additional fans to attend a game for the rest of the season and there's 50 home games left. The average amount of dollars this fan spends to attend a game is about $200 including tickets, parking, food, drinks and memorabilia. Those 300 additional fans would equal about $3 million additional dollars coming in to even out the money spent on the free agent pitcher.

Now the more spent on a pitcher, especially if the pitcher is a known name and established talent, could cost the team more money, but also drive up attendance as well.

We're also not quantifying in dollars the state of the clubhouse and how an improvement there can produce better performance on the field. Or the games that Ollie may blow in the bullpen that causes additional fans to not attend games. Or any other number of scenarios.

But what it boils down to is that keeping Oliver Perez on this team not only makes poor baseball sense, but bad business sense as well. If Oliver Perez were an employee of a business, he would be given a package and sent on his way to bring in a more productive employee and to prevent others in the department from being brought down by his poor performance.

Cut him loose Wilpon. Talk to your accountants, your financial planners, your marketing employees. They'll all come to the same business conclusion. Perez is bad for business.