Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Importance of Pitching

On a night when the Mets had anything but good pitching, the top pitcher of the National League proved just how important an ace in the hole can be.

Roy Halladay threw a perfect game for the Phils on Saturday night in a game where he got one mere run of support. Meanwhile in Milwaukee the Mets scored 6 runs but lost 8-6 thanks in most part to a 4 spot by Nieve in the first and typical pitching from Oliver Perez.

Over the last year and a half Bryan and I have been a broken record about Roy Halladay and how the Mets needed to get a guy like him. I was shocked at some of the responses and comments from other Mets fans saying he was "too old" or "too much money" or that the Mets didn't "need" him.

I offer Saturday's performance as proof of the error of these thoughts. While the Mets scramble to find a decent pitcher on the closest street corner, the Phillies have a guy that didn't just throw a perfect game but has been lights out from Opening Day. He doesn't need run support. He doesn't even have to worry about the bullpen blowing a lead because Halladay pitches complete games as often as John Maine walks the leadoff batter.

In only 48 hours, the Mets have gone from sheer dominance over the Phils and sending them packing with their tails between their legs to being a measly one game over .500 and the Phils riding high.

The difference? Pitching. The Mets felt success when their pitching overachieved, but now fall from their cresting wave of victory as their arms on the mound come back down to earth.

Until a reliable rotation can be reconciled, Mets fans should break out their wet suits because the ebb and flow of this season will continue to ride the current tide of victories followed by crashing defeats.

All Good Things Must Come to an End But Don't Have to for Long

So the Mets streak of opposition goose eggs is over, along with their home run-less streak. So the Mets 5 game win streak has come to an end as well. It was bound to happen as much as we would have like to see another 9 game stretch of nothing but W's.

But the key here is today's game. And Sunday's for that matter.

The Mets have made a habit of getting into extended funks, either on the winning side or the losing side. That can't happen for this team to stay in contention. The Mets need to find a way to bounce back, and quickly, to show this team isn't just riding the latest high.

If the Mets can bounce back after a grueling game yesterday with a replacement pitcher like Nieve, it will show me that at least for the short term this team can contend. If the Mets lose Saturday, they have the potential to get swept in Milwaukee and then force all the good will of this past week to be forgotten.

I don't expect the Mets to throw shutouts in the near future or even have a miraculous pitching run like they did this past week. But I do expect this team to show the ability to win a series on the road, fight back after a tough loss and string together some series wins as we head into June.

That's what contending teams do. Let's see if this crew can contend.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Goose Egg Sweep of the Phils

Wow. 41 years since that has happened. Pelfrey battled, struggled, walked way too many, but still won. The bats came alive (except for David Wright). Series sweep of the first place Phils without giving up a single run.. And that was without Santana even pitching a single game. Mets baseball is fun again.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Don't Panic But Mets Look Good

Try not to get anxious. Let's not panic just yet, but the Mets look pretty good of late. The team is mixing the right ingredients together at just the right time to put together a winning recipe in this wide open National League.

Timely hitting? Check. Sound defense? Check. Solid starting pitching? Check. Reliable bullpen? Check. Speed on the base paths? Check.

Over the last four games the Mets have done everything right. I can't point to a single glaring mistake, other than Pray Rod's 9th inning histrionics against the Yanks on Sunday, that this team has made over this stretch. Everybody appears to be getting hot at the same time.

But we're Mets fans. We know the other shoe must fall. That this can't last forever. That right now everyone is red hot which means everyone will be ice cold in a matter of days. Or does it?

This is a team that has lost 3 starting pitchers, has their top power hitting free agent with only 3 home runs and their best hitter leading the world in strikeouts. The Mets should be irrelevant. They should be getting blown out. They should be struggling to put more than 2 runs on the scoreboard.

But somehow they're resilient. I want this run to last. I want this team to make me forget about the letdowns of yesteryear. They don't have me there quite yet, but I can see the potential.

A sweep of the Phils would go a long way.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

RA Dickey is Chewbacca

Tell me you don't see the comparison? On TV the comparison is much more noticeable especially with the flowing hair coming out of the bottom of Dickey's hat.

In any case, the Mets Wookie wowed the Phillies lineup with his knuckleball and was able to contain their powerful bats pitching 6 shutout innings.

Dickey was a guy I had zero faith in, but after a performance like that it's hard not to see Dickey as a serviceable 5th starter let alone a last minute replacement. Of course the Mets bats coming alive and hitting with runners in scoring position tends to give confidence to any pitcher but it will be interesting to see if Dickey can make a repeat performance during his next start.

Long live the Wookie.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Positive Thoughts from a Subway Series

I woke up this morning thinking about all the Mets flaws. I know I'm a downer, but the starting rotation is in a state of limbo, the bullpen appears to be crumbling, Franceour can't get a hit to save his life and with the Phillies coming to town the good will of this past weekend may soon be for naught.

Such is the mind of the Mets Lifer, but there are some things to feel good about this morning. And as Mets fans we tend to focus on the negative so here are the positives from the Subway Series:

  1. Takahashi looked great and should probably have been in the starting rotation to start the season.
  2. Jason Bay loves him some Yankee pitching. Hopefully his bat will stay awake for the rest of the week.
  3. While Wright strikes out a ton, he's looking more productive.
  4. Ike Davis is playing like a seasoned veteran.
  5. Igarachi is back so hopefully Feliciano and Nieve will get some needed days off.
  6. The Mets are starting to hit with runners in scoring position and two out.
  7. This team continues to show they won't give up when they are down.
  8. Mike Pelfrey has me believing he might very well be the Mets #1 starter next year.
  9. Johan Santana continues to be the big game stud we thought he'd be.
  10. The Mets won the first round of the Subway Series
A day off today so everyone can enjoy the series finale of "24" uninterrupted. The dreaded Phils come to town on Tuesday.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Typical Mets, Typical Loss

As Ike Davis stepped up to the plate against future Hall of Famer, Mariano Rivera, I turned to my wife and said, "Watch. The rookie is going to come through and David Wright is going to strikeout."

So I was wrong about the strikeout, but it was just another chapter in what has become the predictable storyline of the New York Mets. If the Mets get good pitching, they can't hit. If the bats come alive, the pitching gives up half a dozen runs. When a rookie comes through, your All Star falls flat. When you solve the riddle of the other team's best players, their role players kill you.

Jason Bay was happy to see Mariano again, and it was nice to see the Mets fight until the end but honestly who wants a nice game. I want wins. The Mets need wins. And you know what, there's little reason to believe they will come in bunches any time soon.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Only the Mets

Only the Mets can get an inside the park home run, a triple play and a run in the top of the 9th and still lose the game.

Only the Mets can go from last place to first place to utter unimportance in the span of 10 days.

Only the Mets can invent new ways to lose games like walk-off wild pitches and walk-off throwing errors.

Only the Mets can have a player with solid stats who's on track for 30 homers and 100 RBI look so awful night in and night out.

Only the Mets can pay top dollar for a power hitter with one home run and starting pitcher who's banished to the bullpen.

Only the Mets can build one of baseball's best stadiums and cause me to have no desire to visit it.

Only the Mets can have closed door meetings and have the team play ten times worse the following game.

Only the Mets can ignore the reality of the starting rotation for months on end and live on hope and a prayer.

Only the Mets can make playing the Washington Nationals an unpleasant affair.

Only the Mets can follow up one of the most depressing seasons in recent memory with one even more depressing.

Only the Mets...

David Wright is the new Dr. K

Back in the late 80's and early 90's the now troubled Doc Gooden was known simply as Dr. K because of his pitching prowess and how he often fanned opposing hitters.

That torch has now been passed, but unfortunately it's not to another pitcher. David Wright is the strikeout king. The possessor of the golden sombrero. The sultan of swinging and missing. He is Dr. K.

In the 9th inning of last night's painful loss to the Atlanta Braves, Wright was up with Luis Castillo at third and only one out.  A simple fly ball to center or slow roller in the infield would have scored the go ahead run. Wright had already struck out twice during the game. Many would think he would be due to break out of his strikeout streak, but no statistics will show you that when mired in a slump the numbers favor you staying there as opposed to getting out of it. Numbers don't lie and David Wright doesn't make contact with off speed pitches down and away.

Wright was fanned and Ike Davis did as well so the Mets squandered a chance to pull ahead and actually win a series on the road.

To make matters worse, Wright botched an easy ground ball and throw in the bottom of the ninth that allowed the Braves to win. When it rains, it pours.

Something has happened to David Wright over the last year and a half. I don't have the answer. I'm not sure anyone does, but Wright is falling fast from the once perennial MVP candidate status he once had.

If he doesn't solve his problems quickly, Dr K will tally close to 225 strikeouts by the time September comes. And the Mets will find themselves buried in the standings basement come June.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mets Questions for the Rest of May

Like the series finale of LOST, I want some questions answered from the Mets. The end of May is within sight and it's time for the Mets to own up and put some answers out there instead of this perpetual state of limbo that seems to be surrounding this club. By June 1, I want these questions answered:

1. Is Jerry Manuel going to finish the season as Mets manager?
Either get rid of him now or tell us he's finishing the season. The whole "will he be fired?" act will wear out quickly. Can him. Can Warthen. Can Minaya if you want as well. Or just tell they're staying so we can focus on question #2.

2. How do you solve a problem like Oliver Perez?
I'm not questioning whether he will improve because I'm fairly certain he won't. Why on earth would you put this guy in the bullpen? Do we really need a left hander who can walk people and not throw hard to come in from the pen? What value does he add there? He doesn't want to work it out in Triple A? Can we cut him? Trade him? He's worthless to the team in the bullpen so put a plan together to cut him lose or turn him into a corner outfielder.

3. Where will starting pitching help come from?
I have zero confidence in John Maine. There's no way R.A. Dickey is a season long solution for pitching help. Will Mejia be coming back to the bigs as a starter? Is Takahashi a permanent fixture in the rotation? Can we trade Murphy or Franceour for some pitching help? Throw us a bone here.

4. Is Jose Reyes fixable?
Is this the new Jose Reyes? Is the old Reyes gone? Can we leave him as the leadoff hitter? If he doesn't improve, can you really have a Jeff Franceour-lite in the leadoff spot?

5. Will we ever see Carlos Beltran again?
Are we talking July? August? September?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bernie Carbo Ordered a Hit on Keith Hernandez

When a hitman is the voice of reason, you know you've got serious problems. But that pretty much sums up the life of Bernie Carbo who in an interview with ESPN's "Outside the Lines" revealed that he asked a hitman to go break Keith Hernandez' arms.

The cause for this reaction was the fact that Keith Hernandez outed Carbo as being the man who introduced him to cocaine dealer when he was testifying in a Pittsburgh court. Carbo asked a hitman friend to go brake his arms to which the hitman replied he'd have to wait two or three years to do it because everyone would realize that Carbo was the one behind the hit.

Some 25 years later, Carbo wants to apologize to Hernandez for this ill-will that has been pent up between them. If I was Hernandez, I'd send a fruit basket to Carbo's hitman buddy for talking some sense into him.

For full details on the Carbo interview, click here.

2010 Mets Could Be Worse than 2009

The 2009 Mets were pretty awful. In fact, the last few months of the year were unwatchable. Fast forward to 2010 and the Mets are finding themselves in a bit of a similar situation except it's 4 months earlier.

Mets fans may soon forget, but May 2009 was a good month for the team. The Mets finished last May 7 games over .500 and only a half game back of the Phillies in the division. May 2010 started with similar expectations, but has quickly become a debacle of its own kind.

The Mets starting pitching continues to disappoint. Sure Oliver Perez is the brunt of most Mets fans ire but John Maine deserves just as much ill will. The bullpen is fading after being unhittable in April. And of course the middle of the lineup continues to invent new ways to strikeout.

After being swept by the Marlins in Miami, the Mets get no relief as they continue to face in division rivals Atlanta and Washington, followed by the Yankees and then the rival Phils. When the calendar turns to June, we may very well find the Mets 7 games under .500 and Jerry Manuel looking out for Omar Minaya in hotel lobbies.

This could be a very long summer for Mets fans.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Link: Tale of Three Mets Players

Came across this great post from NY Sports Dog, where he analyzes the swing patterns and strikeout ratios of David Wright, Jeff Franceour and Luis Castillo.

You think you know where the problem pitches are for Wright and Frenchie, but the scatter charts shown here just cement the despair that is this pair's strikeout woes.

Great post and NY Sports Dog is a great guy to follow on Twitter as well.

Bye Bye Ollie

Oliver Perez stay in the major leagues should be over. He can't pitch up here with any consistency. Forget his contract. Forget the fact that he's still owed a double digit million dollar salary over the next few years. That money is already gone whether he pitches or not.

The Mets should cut their losses, send Ollie down to the minors, and see what happens. Maybe he's the next Rick Ankiel?

If Tobi Stoner was pitching the way Perez has this season, do you think the Mets would continue to keep him with the ball club? No way. Yet for some reason they believe that there's a magic switch that can be flipped to make Ollie good. What they forget is Ollie was good really for only one season. The rest of his career he hasn't been over .500.

Yes, the lineup needs to be adjusted. Sure the bullpen is overworked. But if you want to address the easiset problem the Mets can fix, it's cutting Ollie loose and moving on.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Our manager has reduced the best leadoff hitter in the game to the worst #3 hitter in the game.

Our #1 pitching prospect has been relegated to #1 in mop up duty.

Our best clutch hitter bats 8th, and leads the team in home runs.

Our cleanup hitter has one home run all season & our “All Star” 3rd baseman has one home run at home. Yet a guy I never heard of hit his first two career home runs in one game…in that same home park.

Our closer, like all the ones before him, can’t close. It should be more like Pray-Rod.

Our All Star Centerfielder had surgery in January for an injury that started 7 months prior.

And the worst thing of all that ya gotta believe? David Wright is now just an average baseball player who is a strike out machine and who never comes through in the clutch anymore. His inexplicable demise, for me, is the most disheartening realization of all. David Wright, Oh, David Wright, for wherefore art thou David Wright?

Mets Starting to Feel Like Old Times

After Thursday night's loss to the Marlins, I started to feel a little nostalgic, and that's not a good thing. These 2010 Mets are giving me flashbacks of 2009.

The pure lack of any decent swings with runners in scoring position. The wasted opportunities. Sacrifice bunts get screwed up. A great pitching performance is wasted by the bullpen. Franceour can't get a hit to save his life.

It's not time to panic quite yet. It's still May, but the road the Mets are taking is one that has been traveled before. You may recall that at the end of May last year the Mets were 7 games over .500. That's right 7. But then the wheels fell apart.

The Mets made a spectacular run in April, but May has brought a few bright moments along with plenty of disappointment. Watching Ike and the Animal is fun for a while, but winning is a whole lot more interesting.

Charlie Manuel and Phils Want to Start Something

The beloved Philadelphia Phillies were accused of stealing signs using binoculars in the bullpen while playing the Colorado Rockies recently. A number of players and teams are accused of this over the course of any given season, but Phils' manager Charlie Manuel got a little testy when confronted with this accusation. Here's what he told CSN Philadelphia:

"“Somebody maybe ought to check the Mets if they did that. Their [bleeping] home record is out of this world and they’re losing on the road. Sometimes that’s a good indicator of getting signs and [crap]. I see somebody setting there at 17-2 at home and 4-12 on the road, I’d get concerned about that. That kind of crosses my mind… I’m not accusing them, but you look at that and – damn. We’re about the same home and road. I’m just saying their record is much better at home and they hit better… ”

I'm not accusing them? Bitter much? Wow. If I'm sitting in first place and have basically owned the Mets for the last two seasons why would I even bother bringing them up like or starting a verbal debate? It's just weird, but that's the Napoleon complex of Philadelphia sports.

Jerry Manuel responded in classic Jerry fashion by saying basically that the Citi Field bullpen was too far away to steal signs.That's probably true.

Usually the verbal jarring is between big mouthed players like Jimmy Rollins and a Billy Wagner, but Grandpa Charlie wanted to make sure he didn't miss out on the action.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What a Difference a Half Inning Makes

Last night Mets fans went from "Were going to lose a series to the Nationals at home" to hope filled jubilation in the matter of a 20 minute span from 10 p.m. to 10:20 p.m.

Although this was simply a regular season, month of May comeback against the Washington Nationals, it really should give this team a lift. Being down five runs in the 8th inning is not the easiest thing to overcome, especially with the Mets bats being what they are. But there's a fight in this team from the support players that seems to lift the Mets.

Every comeback seems to involve Barajas or Ike and now Chris Carter wants to join the show. The Mets big bats will come around. Bay will get on a roll. Wright will have one of his streaks where he bats .400 for two weeks. The fact that the Mets are winning these games using role players as the stars is unbelievably huge. Without their step up performances, the Mets might very well be 3 games under .500.

Thanks to last night's heroics, and Ike Davis' now patented over the dugout railing theatrics, the Mets are poised to win a series and ride the tide to Florida for the always pesky Marlins.

Mets fans owe a lot of thanks to Daniel Murphy and Frank Catalanatto. Without their injuries or dismal performance, this team wouldn't be where it is today.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gary Matthews Jr is a Lame Duck

Goodbye Mike Jacobs. So long Frank Catalanatto. Now it's time to just count the moments until Gary Matthews, Jr. follows in their footsteps.

The Mets recent struggles at the plate are in no way the sole fault of the depleted bench (ahem, David Wright/Jason Bay), but they're not helping much either. Frank Catalanatto hasn't hit a ball out of the infield since spring training, and I'm not sure when was the last time Matthews actually hit a ball.

The sad part of all this is the Mets decision makers seem to be a day late and a dollar short when it comes to these roster moves. Think about it. Everyone is calling for Ike Davis to be on the team out of spring training. Mets don't make a move until a month later, and the kid is performing unbelievably well. Mets fans are saying Chris Carter is a way better bench option than Catalanatto. Mets ignore the outcries until Catalantto is batting .085.

So it's only a matter of time before Mets management wise up and get rid of the Gary Matthews Jr. experiment. I hope they don't wait too long before realizing Oliver Perez is dead weight as well. Why is there such loyalty to mediocre players? I don't understand it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Oliver Perez is Unbelievable

Oliver Perez is a modern marvel of baseball achievement. What he does each time he steps on the mound is a spectacle that is unlike any pitcher you will see this season. Who else can only give up 2 hits and 7 walks in less than 4 full innings of baseball? Who do you know that can secure a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract for basically pitching one good season? Who can lose 7-8 mph on their fastball in a matter of months without any sign of injury, weight gain or major crisis?

There's only one who can and his name is Oliver Perez.

Now I'm not going to complain about the Mets loss yesterday. They were up against Tim Lincecum after back to back walk off wins so it was expected that they might fall short.What I'm going to whine about is the fact that Oliver Perez does not deserve to be in the major leagues at this point. I'm willing to have Manny Acosta as my fifth starter just to keep Oliver Perez from pitching.

Perez is a headcase who you could deal with because of his great velocity and pitch movement, but now those two lone bright sides have disappeared. It's time for the Mets to bite the bullet on his contract and do what's best for the team instead of hoping their investment magically resurrects.

Whether it's Takahashi, Acosta, Nieve or some guy from the minors, I'd rather see them pitching every 5th day than Oliver Perez. He was a risk the day they signed him and now the risk has vastly outweighed the reward.

Cut the dead wait, Omar. Perez is a sinking ship.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mets Don't Need No Stinkin Comebacks

In this short Mets season, this team has proven that it has the ability to fight its way back into a game. Wednesday afternoon's contest was a perfect example. Mets were down early. They tied it up. Reds took the lead. Mets came back with two runs of their own.

I love that fight. It's good to know that a team has proven their ability to claw its way back into a contest. However, there's no need for the Mets to do this.

The Mets had an absurd amount of opportunity to put the Reds away for good. I think Reyes alone left 6 runners on base in Wednesday's game. The Mets were 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position which included a third inning debacle in which the Mets had the bases loaded, no one out, and only score one run. That takes effort.

While comebacks are exciting and it's important to show you have heart and not give up, the Mets are becoming a team that flushes away opportunities to put teams away or capitalize on scoring opportunities.

The worst part is each time there was a major run scoring opportunity the heart of the order appeared to be the one falling flat. Bay's bat has hit aversion syndrome. Reyes is the king of pop-ups. Wright actually is looking better though.

I wish there was a simple answer to this riddle. The last two seasons the Mets have had one of the worst team batting averages with the bases loaded and appear to be struggling with that same situation as well as having runners in scoring position with two out.

These are problems that have to be solved. Not only to help with a few extra wins, but to lighten the load from their pitching staff so they can have some breathing room to work.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Good and Bad from a loss in Cinncinati

The Good: Oliver Perez pitched pretty well
The Bad: So did the Reds starter

The Good: Jose Reyes finally broker out of his slump
The Bad: Jason Bay just found another one

The Good: The Phillies lost
The Bad: The Mets lost

The Good: Luis Castillo looks pretty productive
The Bad: The rest of the Mets lineup is pretty unproductive

The Good: Mejia had great command in relief
The Bad: The entire Reds bullpen had command over Mets hitters

The Good: It's still fun to watch Ike Davis play first base
The Bad: It's tough to watch Ike Davis have to bat in pressure situations

The Good: It's great to be rid of Mike Jacobs
The Bad: We still are stuck with Tatis, Catalanatto, and Gary Matthews Jr.

The Good: There's another chance to break this current cycle tonight
The Bad: There's another chance the Mets won't break this cycle tonight

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mets Lacking Mental Toughness

After a 9 run implosion by Johan Santana in a game which every Mets players seemed to be geared up for, the Mets rolled over and died.

They gave up. Their will was broken and it showed. Players swing at the first pitch they see. No one wanted to show some patience and try and inch their way back into the game. They made Moyer, whom they pounded early on, look like he was a virtuoso out there.

While I commented about the grit this Mets team has just a few days ago, I failed to consider the mental grit that is necessary over the course of a long season. Johan Santana is known for being a gamer, but looked like a mental midget out there last night. Now Santana will have these blow up games.He had one last year against the Yankees. He had one the year before against the Mariners when he gave up a grand slam to Felix Hernandez.

The thing about Santana is in both of the last two years, he bounced back from these outings and became virtually unstoppable the rest of the season. Will he do the same thing this year? I hope so. But even more important is for the rest of his team to bounce back...immediately.

To keep the media from piling on that April was a fluke or that reality has finally hit the Mets, they need to go out and win against the Reds. That takes mental fortitude. Something we haven't seen from this ball club in over 3 years.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I'll Take My Mets With a Side of Grit

This is not your ordinary Mets team. The softness, nonchalant type of play that we've seen in years past is not present on this team. Wonder if it has anything to do with a missing center fielder? Hmmm, but in any case I'm loving the grit and intensity I've seen from this team over the past two weeks.

Running into walls, stretching doubles into triples,  and retaliating bean balls are all a sampling of the things we're seeing from this club that you couldn't have found with a fine tooth comb last year.

And it's not just veterans either. Ike Davis is jumping over railings to catch foul balls. Jon Niese is digging deep to get the most powerful lineup in the NL out while runners are on base. Mejia isn't backing down from the likes of Utley and Howard. But the key to the Mets grit is a guy named Frenchie.

Jeff Franceour is the epitome of what is great about baseball. The guy makes right field one of the most feared positions when he's out there. Did you see Jayson Werth pull a Scooby Doo skid stop in the 2nd inning when he thought he had a double? As soon as he saw Franceour had the ball it was like he saw a ghost and scrambled back to first on all fours.

Sure Franceour strikes out a lot. He swings at bad pitches too much. But this is the guy I want on my team because of his unbelievable hustle, his desire to win, and his rocket of an arm that keeps base runners at bay.

Grit. It's not an adjective used of the Mets, but this team is gritty. I love it. Let's go beat Halladay today.