Friday, April 30, 2004

Mets 6, Dodgers 1 (9-13, 6 GB)

Thursday, April 29, 2004

If you take the season one series at a time from here on out, starting with the Mets taking two out of three against the Dodgers, things are looking pretty good. This is what the Mets needed to do (although when you consider they came very close to sweeping L.A., the 2-out-of-3 scenario sounds less enticing). The Dodgers are a very good team, and the Mets caught their weaker pitchers - a good break - maybe signaling a change towards better fortune is on the way.

The Mets jumped out to the lead in the second - and after going up 1-0, they loaded the bases with 1 out. It's just their luck, though, that Jae Seo would be up, and ground into a double play, keeping it 1-0. Seo (1-3) was great last night (on the mound) - six and a third quality innings, earning his first win of the year. He's been very good since the call-up. Either being sent down woke him up, or he wasn't going full-tilt in spring training.

Karim Garcia added to the Mets lead with a 2-run bomb to right in the third inning. If you've been a regular reader, you know how I feel about Garcia. I'll take the homer, but I'm also glad it makes him a more valuable trade commodity, should the Mets consider such a thing.

The only negative from last night's game was that Mike Piazza looked lost against Jeff Weaver. I don't think I've seen him look worse against a pitcher so far this year - hopefully the Mets won't face Weaver again, just for that reason.

But back to the positives - the Mets were able to put away the opponent again last night - something that's been happening more and more in their wins. Up 3-1 through 7 innings, the Mets rallied - Danny Garcia's RBI single to right field off Wilson Alvarez broke a 10-inning scoreless inning streak by Alvarez. Then Mike Stanton (!!!) hit an RBI-single to left. All I'll say about that is relief pitchers don't get lucky hits on sucky teams. It's a sign of good things to come, my friends. Trust me. Mike Cameron added a solo homer leading off the ninth inning. I can't believe how many home runs the Mets hit in this series.

This offense is starting to click. I can't help but think good things. Here's another good thought - the Mets go into a pitcher's park in San Diego this weekend. Tyler Yates, Al Leiter, and Tom Glavine are pitching against the Padres. The Padres aren't too shabby this year, but here's a stat for you. Mets starters this year lead the league in ERA. And Yates has pitched well since his bad start against the Braves. And we all know about Leiter and Glavine so far this year. Taking two out of three would be nice again...and is very possible. And dare I say it, a Mets sweep would be better....

Notes: I happened to catch a few minutes of the WFAN pre-game show last night, and Art Howe said he was resting Ricky Gutierrez (as noted yesterday, Gutierrez has not exactly been lighting it up - maybe Art reads my blog) and starting Garcia. Then Howe says, "Garcia's my pick to click", whatever that means. But it turned out he was right, with Garcia getting a clutch hit, and making a good defensive play sliding to field a grounder in the first inning. Best call Art's made so far as Mets manager - and keep reading my site, Art...The Mets have won 8 of their last 11 at Dodger Stadium...I still haven't received my '86 Mets book. I should have just gone to the store and bought it...Oh, and I probably should have put this up higher, but oh well - Jose Reyes felt something in his hamstring during a minor league rehab game, and left the game. The Mets are saying it was precautionary, but I tend to doubt he'll be at Shea for next week's homestand. We'll see...Cliff Floyd could be back as early as Saturday in San Diego.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Dodgers 3, Mets 2 (8-13, 6 GB)

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

I'm not discouraged at all by last night's loss. I know I tend to be too positive when it comes to the Mets, but they didn't lose that game. The Dodgers beat them. There's a difference. Things are starting to come around for the Mets, and if they play like they did last night, they're going to win a bunch of games.

First of all, a few words about Milton Bradley's catch. (If you didn't see it, he robbed Mike Cameron of a home run leading off the sixth inning - probably the best play of the year so far.) What made this play so great was all of the ground Bradley covered to make the catch. Cameron crushed that ball, and it was headed out of the park in a hurry. But Bradley tracked it down, timed the leap perfectly, and made the catch look pretty easy. (As an aside, I was watching the game on California's broadcast - they only kept showing replays at the wall. I wanted to see the entire play develop again, because Bradley tracked that ball so well. Hope the New York station did a better job.) Cameron will make his share of those catches this year, but last night, he was on the other side of it. That play saved the game for L.A., especially considering what happened after that (oh, and also considering Bradley was playing on a bum ankle).

The Mets had plenty of chances in last night's game, and came through in some of them, just to see their efforts stymied by great defense by the Dodgers. First, a quick recap - Kaz Matsui led off the game with a homer to make it 1-0, Mets. The Dodgers took a 2-1 lead on a 2-run homer by Dave Roberts, then made it 3-1 after a solo shot by Adrian Beltre. Roberts homered off Steve Trachsel (2-3) at the end of an 11-pitch at-bat. Beltre just crushed a bad pitch. Otherwise, Trachsel was great.

So then comes the sixth inning. Cameron was robbed of a homer, but the Mets continued to hit Odalis Perez hard. Piazza rocketed one off the shortstop's glove, then Shane Spencer singled (he's been hitting the ball well). Todd Zeile followed with a liner towards right that the second baseman deflected. Piazza had to hold at second, thinking the ball would be caught...but when the ball trickled into right field, any other runner (except Jason Phillips) would have scored. With the bases loaded, Phillips flew out to center, scoring Piazza to make it 3-2. Then Karim Garcia struck out looking. Man, I hope the Mets trade him.

Fast forward a bit. John Franco struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh. Top 8, Spencer gets a one-out walk. Then he steals second! Zeile hit a hard grounder that Guillermo Mota snagged, so Spencer has to stay at second - otherwise, he might have scored. The Dodgers brought in Eric Gagne to face Phillips. Nice matchup, right? The struggling Phillips against a man who has converted a record 68-straight save opportunities. But you saw the johnnymets guarantee yesterday - Phillips is out of his slump. Unfortunately, like the Zeile groundout, luck just wasn't with the Mets last night. Phillips blasted one that was headed up the middle, until it hit Gagne in the thigh. Gagne recovered to throw Phillips out at first, and then gave up two 2-out singles in the ninth before finishing the game (and extending his record to 69 games).

This was a great game to watch, even though the Mets lost. It's up to Jae Seo tonight against Jeff Weaver for the Mets to get 2-out-of-3 against L.A., and make the series a success.

Other thoughts: The Dodgers are now 7-0 in one-run games, the Mets are 2-6...More aggressive play, which was good to see. In addition to Spencer stealing second in the 8th, pinch-runner Jeff Duncan stole second in the 7th when the Mets needed runners in scoring position. With their lack of speed, they need to make up for that by using the speed they have and by being aggressive...Trachsel's been the victim of the long ball this year - if he didn't give up homers, he'd pitch a shutout every game...Kaz Matsui and Ricky Gutierrez are starting to look good together turning double plays. It's a good thing, though, Gutierrez is heading back to the bench, because that means Jose Reyes is back. Gutierrez has been pretty good in the field (he committed just one error, and that came at third base), but awful at the plate (.161 BA, .242 OBP). The rumor before the Mets acquired him to sub for Reyes was that Gutierrez was swinging the bat well - that scout should be shot...Matsui's leadoff homer last night was the second one of his career. That puts him about 94 or so behind Rickey Henderson's record, right?

Wow, I wrote a lot today. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Mets 9, Dodgers 5 (8-12, 5 GB)

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

A bunch of good things came out of last night's game. First and foremost, Mike Piazza is closer to getting that home run record out of the way. I thought he'd get it at Wrigley, but then again, I also thought he'd get more than 0 homers in his previous 16 games. But anyway, he's now tied with Fisk for most home runs by a catcher. One more, and I think he'll start hitting homers at a regular pace, like the Mike Piazza of old.

Good thing #2: Jason Phillips got a hit. That o-fer streak (0-for-29) was becoming a huge mental issue. He'll get hot now. That's a johnnymets guarantee.

Good thing #3: Tom Glavine (3-1) didn't have a great outing, but still got the win. The Mets bats owe him a few of those (as does the bullpen). Glavine gave up 3 runs in the first 2 innings, and the Mets offense picked him up. That's what good Major League Baseball teams do.

Good thing #4: The Mets put this game away. They didn't just protect their lead, they added to it. The Mets scored six runs over the final four innings to give themselves a cushion.

All the Mets' problems are not solved...yet. But it's definitely a step in the right direction. Besides Piazza, Shane Spencer and Todd Zeile also homered - all three were off Hideo Nomo. He is bad this year, so take that for what it's worth. There was an extra batting practice session held before the game, after an off-day, to get guys back on track. The guys that worked out played well. Five position players did not show up, but they hit the ball last night too. Taking two out of three against a team like L.A. would be great. Steve Trachsel goes for the Mets tonight against Odalis Perez.

Notes: While you were (probably) sleeping last night, Kaz Matsui picked up his first stolen base. He's still struggling at the plate, but he reaches base and makes things happen...I really like Eric Valent - I hope he sticks around after the Mets get their injured players back. Did you know he set the all-time Pac-10 Home Run Record? Me neither. He also set a UCLA record for career RBI...Speaking of getting players back from injury, stop me if you've heard this one before. Jose Reyes is very close to a return. Yeah, I'll believe it when I see it. Reyes will play in a minor league game today, and could be back by next week when the Mets return to Shea. Cliff Floyd is still on target to re-join the team on the West Coast this week.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Tonight - Mets vs. Dodgers (Mets are 7-12, 6 GB)

I hereby declare these next few games are the key to the Mets' season. If they come out of Los Angeles and San Diego within sniffing distance of .500, they're in OK shape, with Jose Reyes coming soon to boost the lineup. (Cliff Floyd should be back before the Mets visit the Padres.) We're talking 2-out-of-3 in both series, or a split of the 6 games is even good. If they're swept by one of the teams, forget it - that's too big of a hole to get out of. Tom Glavine needs to come through tonight - this is what happens when you're named the number one starter. You've got to be a stopper. And Glavine needs to stop this slide.

Here's the weekly NL East update:
Florida - 13-6
Atlanta - 10-9, 3 GB
Philadelphia - 7-10, 5 GB
Montreal - 5-15, 8.5 GB

The Mets fall in between the Phillies and Expos. If the Mets are to make the post-season, I think they're going to have to win the division. I think the rest of the National League is too strong for one of the East teams to contend for the Wild Card. Of course, for the Mets to contend, they need to catch the Marlins. Florida has been on fire. They own Philly and crushed Montreal. But they've struggled against the Braves - losing five of six. The Mets don't face Florida until the end of May. They need to keep themselves within striking distance so we can see how they handle themselves in important games. Then again, at this point, they're all fast becoming very important.

Atlanta just took a big hit - Chipper Jones was placed on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring). They are out west against the Giants, before facing the Rockies in Colorado. The Braves are in an unfamiliar position for this time of the year, just a game above .500. It'll be interesting to see how they respond to that. They've lost a little of their luster, but I still don't think you can count out the Braves.

Philadelphia might have passed the Mets, but this is what I expected of them. I think they'll struggle all year. Right now, they're in Saint Louis, then they return home to face the Diamondbacks. The Cardinals got off to a shaky start and then turned it around, and the Diamondbacks have been struggling. The Phillies probably won't make up much ground this week.

Montreal continues to chase records of futility. They're the only NL team hitting worse than the Mets, and scoring less runs. Their schedule sucks too - after playing just three games at home in Montreal (after opening the season in Florida and Puerto Rico), the Expos are now out west. They play the Padres and Dodgers - I wouldn't be surprised to see them come out of that trip with only one win in seven games.

Notes: I received confirmation from that my order of the Jeff Pearlman book is on its way...With Matt Clement's near no-hitter of the Mets on Sunday, I've been thinking about the fact that the Mets have never thrown a no-hitter. As I mentioned earlier this year (it's somewhere on the blog, if you search for it), I think one of the Mets pitchers will throw a no-hitter this year. They've just looked so good. But I hope it happens when I'm there. I just feel like with all the time I put into this team, it's the least they can do for me. Make my ticket stub a piece of history. Mets pitchers, if you're reading this, please throw a no-hitter May 10th in Arizona. That's the next game I'll be at. If not then, I'll let you know the next time I'm in attendance. Thank you.

Monday, April 26, 2004

OK - here are the details. is up, and will be updated on a regular basis - I'll let you know when.

"The Bad Guys Won!" By Jeff Pearlman - the book on the '86 Mets, is coming out tomorrow, April 27, 2004. $24.95 (the book costs $38.95 in Canada, unfortunately for all my Canadian readers). HarperCollins is putting the book out. As soon as I read the book I'll post a review.

Mets are off today - they'll be in Los Angeles tomorrow night. Thanks for reading. Don't give up on the Mets - they're still almost better than the Yankees.
The Jets page is up. I will post a draft review someday soon.
Attention all those who have ever said, "There should be an all-encompassing book about the 1986 Mets". (You know who you are.) Jeff Pearlman of Newsday has a "soon-to-be-released" book on the season, team, scandals, etc.
Newsday has been printing excerpts - I think this has been going on for a while, but I just saw it for the first time today. Looks like it'll be pretty thorough. I'm not going to read the excerpts, though, I'll just wait for the book. Which brings an idea to mind - 10 best Mets books ever. I've read a bunch, but if you have suggestions, e-mail them to me.

ALSO: Coming soon - (Come on, like you didn't know that was going to happen.)

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Saturday, April 24, 2004 - A Day at the Races

(Sorry for the late posting.) As you all know, the Mets were overmatched by the Cubs this weekend. So let's take a break from the re-hashing for a day. I give you my Saturday, spent juggling three different sporting events - the NFL Draft, Major League Baseball, and a day at Aqueduct.

12:11pm - In the car on the way to the track (for a family bachelor party - for me), the draft gets underway. Paul Tagliabue starts with a tribute to Pat Tillman, then announces that the San Diego Chargers are on the clock.

12:57pm - Three minutes until post time. I stop by the bar and get the first three score updates from some fat dude in the sports bar. Eli Manning, Robert Gallery, Larry Fitzgerald. I'm a little surprised the Chargers didn't trade the pick. Giants are on the clock.

1:24pm - I'm already up $11 after one race. The draft is not on the bar TV anymore. This experiment is failing. I find the Yankees/Red Sox game, though. This is important for me because I have Kevin Brown in my AL-only fantasy league. The one out of five days I root for the Yankees, and they're down 1-0 in the first inning.

1:50pm - Second race of the day is a heartbreaker. My winner is taken off the board because he bumped a jockey off his horse. Money ripped right out of my hand. Kevin Brown is now down 2-0 in the third inning. My cousin Eddie arrives at the track, and gives me the draft update - Giants took Rivers. But no word of a trade.

2:16pm - The draft's back on a track television. Found out the Jets got Vilma. All right. Yankees are down 2-1. I'm down 18 bucks.

2:26pm - My cousin John tells me about the Giants trade. Now things make a little more sense out of Chargers camp.

3:14pm - I'm down $50 through six races. Miami's on the clock. Bernie Williams grounds into a double play with the bases loaded in the 7th. The game's tied at 2, so I guess Brown did all right. The Mets have been playing for an hour, and I have no idea how they're doing. No TV is turned to them.

3:20pm - First Mets score crosses on the Yankees game. Down 2-0 in the third against Kerry Wood. Of course.

3:34pm - Uncle John gave me a ticket before the sixth race as an early wedding gift. It turns out to be a winner - $15.40. I have to give half to Kathy, but I'm sure she'd be all right with me trying to turn it into more money in the seventh race. We're putting the money on "Country Judge", the 2 horse. Sox-Yanks tied at 2 in the ninth.

3:45pm - Late bet - 2 dollars to win on the five horse in the same race. Just a hunch.

4:00pm - Nothing on the five. But Country Judge comes through big time. Oh yeah, $34.60.

4:12pm - Here's a ballsy move at the track - some dude gets up in front of about 20 other guys, and changes the TV showing the NFL draft to boxing on NBC. Are you kidding me?!? Although I guess he probably had some sort of money involved on the boxing match. But boxing?! Geez. Yanks-Sox now in the 10th. The Mets, who knows? I might as well still be in Boston.

4:29pm - Another last second bet in the eighth race - I forgot that I was supposed to put money on the 5 in the 8th (because the wedding is on 5/8). Good thing my brother Matt and cousins Rich and Eddie were betting on the 5 - Chilly Rooster. Good thing I remembered. Chilly comes in as a $66.50 winner. I also picked Chilly Rooster with the 8 horse in a Double. So if the 8 horse wins the last race, I'm making big money on the way out the door.

4:58pm - Oh well. No good on the 8 horse. Time for dinner. Red Sox and Yankees are still going as we leave.

5:13pm - Back in the car, find out the Mets lost 3-0. Damn. I lost only $7.50 at the track. But huge assist to Uncle John for changing my losing ways into winning ways. Sox beat the Yanks 3-2 in 12.

11:28pm - After dinner and a few drinks, find out the Jets drafted Derrick Strait in the third round. That's awesome. I heard about that guy as a possible first rounder.

(Postscript - Mets lost 4-1 to the Cubs on Sunday. That's a sweep. Need to bounce back in L.A. Another tall order. I will post my next update on Tuesday, after the Monday off-day.)

Saturday, April 24, 2004

By the way - stay tuned for a big Sunday article tomorrow chronicling my big day today.

I'll be spending the day at Aqueduct, following the progress of the Mets and Yankees/Red Sox, as well as the Jets' picks in the NFL Draft. Full report tomorrow.

Cubs 3, Mets 1 (7-10, 4.5 GB)

Friday, April 23, 2004

Who's going to start getting some clutch hits? The Mets need a big inning sometime soon, just to prove they can drive in some runs. First inning - Shane Spencer steals second base - a nice, aggressive play. But Mike Piazza leaves him there.

Bases loaded in the third. Piazza grounds back to Greg Maddux, for a 1-2-3 double play. Then Mike Cameron strikes out. How many different ways are the Mets going to let their opponents get out of bases-loaded situations?

Eighth inning - Spencer singles to short. Piazza and Cameron both strike out - at least put the ball in play guys! Make something happen!

I'm not even going to talk about Jason Phillips (0-for-his-last-23).

At least Jae Seo (0-3) looked better yesterday. Maybe he's settling down from the bad spring. We'll see what he has to offer the next time he's out there. Seo just gave up the homers to Moises Alou and Todd Walker, which is pretty good when you look at the Cubs lineup. Seo pitched well enough for the Mets to win. And has the bullpen turned a corner? After John Franco and Braden Looper pitched so well on Thursday, yesterday Mike Stanton and David Weathers held the Cubs scoreless in relief of Seo. That's part of what the Mets need to win games. The other part is putting some runs across the plate.

Notes: I know I said Tyler Yates' last start would tell us something about the young pitcher, but that was against the Expos. Now let's see how he does against a good offense. Today's the day - Yates vs. Kerry Wood at Wrigley Field. Let's go Mets. Gotta start winning.

Friday, April 23, 2004

By the way - the Mets placed Ty Wigginton on the 15-day DL yesterday. Wigginton had been complaining about dizziness, and he fainted on Wednesday night at home. So he was sent to the hospital for tests. He will not travel with the Mets on this road trip. Hopefully, it's nothing serious.

Mets 3, Expos 2 (7-9, 4.5 GB)

Thursday, April 22, 2004

It's not good when you have to battle for a win for the right to earn a split with the Montreal Expos in your own park. But it's a win, and that's the bottom line. This one got off to a start that made you think the game was never going to be in doubt - the Mets loaded the bases with none out in the bottom of the first. Awesome! With Piazza, Phillips, and Cameron coming up, they'll at least get one run, right? Nope. K, pop-out, and backwards K. Looks like another long day for Steve Trachsel.

Trachsel (2-2) was great again. He's been unbelievable since his first start against Atlanta. He made just one bad pitch, giving up a solo homer to Brian Schneider to tie the game at 1 in the top of the seventh. And that's where this game differed from past Mets games recently.

Instead of making a bad situation worse, the Mets bounced back. They stopped the bleeding, kept it 1-1 into the bottom of the seventh. Then Mike Piazza and Mike Cameron hit RBI doubles to make it 3-1 (Cameron's barely missed being a homer to make it 5-1).

Then, John Franco with a very un-John-Franco-like perfect eighth inning. And the top of the ninth, the Mets stopped playing the crisp defense they had played all game, nearly causing Braden Looper to blow a save. But the way Looper bounced back after a Ricky Gutierrez error at third and Shane Spencer error in left field was great. Looper has four saves, and he was clearly irritated by those errors. But he got the outs he needed. I have more confidence in Looper, even with runners on, than in any Mets closer in recent memory.

Notes: It's good that Kaz Matsui is struggling like hell at the plate, but still managing to get on base. That wasn't supposed to be his strong point. But he reached on an error yesterday, and walked in the seventh to start the rally...Mike Piazza is swinging the bat great. And Ted Robinson and Fran Healy are going to drive me out of my mind. They've been brutal. But I have to credit Robinson with a great point - Piazza wouldn't have played yesterday (day game after a night game) if he wasn't playing first base. And even after the game, Piazza was saying the first base thing isn't such a bad idea, because it keeps him in the lineup when he's swinging a hot bat...The Mets went 4-6 on the 10 game homestand. Not good. This was their second-longest homestand of the year. They have two 11-game homestands later in the year. Big road trip. Must play at least .500 ball against the Cubs, Dodgers, and Padres. Preferably better than .500...Cliff Floyd should be back in the lineup when the Mets play the Dodgers. That's huge...And finally, if you get the chance to stay awake at the end of next week and watch the Mets at San Diego, check out Petco Park. It's a great-looking park, with a warehouse in left field that butts right over the left field wall. It's also a pitcher's park, which should benefit the Mets.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Expos 2, Mets 1 (6-9, 4.5 GB)

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

I don't even know who to be mad at for last night's game. Man, that was frustrating. First of all - what the hell happened to Karim Garcia when he was nailed at the plate? The replays focused on the play at home, but how was he out by so much? If I hadn't seen him take a cheap shot to the catcher's face, I might think he still hasn't scored. By the way - real smart move throwing an elbow to a catcher's face while he's still wearing a face mask. Maybe he thought the catcher was a Florida pizza deliveryman or a Fenway Park groundskeeper. I gave him a chance, but Karim Garcia is back on the johnnymets sh**list. I'm not even going to mention how in the bottom of the first Garcia took a 3-1 pitch and started walking to first like he earned an automatic ball call. You're Karim friggin' Garcia - not Wade Boggs! In case you didn't notice, Karim, which you probably didn't, because you have a pea-brain, umpires don't like being shown up. No surprise Garcia got called out on strikes on the next pitch - he's just lucky it was a great curve. If it was a borderline pitch, the umpire still would have punched him out. I can sense bad things in the future with Karim Garcia if things continue to slide - the Mets should trade him while his value is high right now and get some bullpen help.

Hey - here's an interesting fact - the bullpen didn't screw up last night. Mike Cameron, though, cost the Mets this game, making an error that led to the go-ahead run scoring. Tom Glavine (2-1) was the hard-luck loser. He deserves to be 4-0. That's pretty horrible.

I don't even know that you can blame Matt Galante very much for those two outs at the plate. OK, maybe on the Piazza one. He's slow as hell. But again, Garcia should have scored. I never saw a wide enough replay on the play showing why Garcia didn't score, and I know the centerfielder feigned like he was going to catch the ball, but Garcia shouldn't have even been looking out there. He should have scored.

The overnight callers on WFAN (and the host) were ripped at Art Howe for last night's game. I don't know that I'll blame Howe for this one, but there's plenty of blame to go around.

Just FYI - here's what's to come. The Mets can barely score more than a run against Pittsburgh and Montreal. Pittsburgh is getting pounded by the Cubs, with Chicago averaging about 10 runs a game this past week. The Mets go to Chicago next.

Notes: Brad Wilkerson doubled off Glavine in the fifth inning - that was just the second extra-base hit off Glavine so far this year (the other was a Marcus Giles homer in the season-opener)...Piazza's swinging the bat better. I think he hits the record-tying and -breaking homers by the weekend, and then can concentrate on helping this team win.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Expos 2, Mets 1 (6-8, 3.5 GB)

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

This is getting bad. The Mets were not regarded as a contender coming into the 2004 season. (Except by me.) Here's one way to know a team is not respected - their appearances on national television are few and far between. Here's a way to tell their status has fallen even further - their appearances on digital cable's "Extra Innings Package" get eliminated in favor of "better" games in the third week of the season. That's what I faced last night when I tried to tune in to the Mets and Expos. The Mets game was bumped. And the Mets are not doing anything to improve their standing in the eyes of observers. (I'm even starting to get down on them.) They've got to fix the bullpen.
So, despite my best efforts, I didn't see last night's game, but I've looked into it, and seen the hi-lites. I know that Al Leiter had his scoreless innings streak snapped - but he ONLY GAVE UP ONE RUN!!!! And he didn't factor in the decision! Come on, guys, you've got to start hitting. And the bullpen has to stop giving up runs. (Wanna look on the bright side? The bullpen broke a trend of giving up infinite amounts of runs in the late innings. Of course, to the Expos, one run is an infinite amount.)
David Weathers (1-1) was the culprit this time - again. He gave up a home run to Jose Vidro, breaking a 1-1 tie. The Mets only got four hits off Montreal pitching. Not going to win too many games that way. Tom Glavine goes tonight. The Mets need to score some runs.

Notes: The Expos are 2-3 against the Mets, and 1-8 against the rest of the league. Yikes....Jason Phillips is getting a little upset about losing playing time to Todd Zeile. I remember reading during spring training that Phillips is a bit of a hothead when things don't go right for him. I hope this doesn't become a clubhouse distraction. And I hope Art Howe doesn't try to get Phillips dealt out of spite. (Although I have a sneaking suspicion Phillips' future in NY is a bit more secure than Howe's.)...As of right now, the Mets are slated to be on the "Extra Innings" package tonight - hopefully they don't get bumped.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Mets 4, Expos 1 (6-7, 2.5 GB)

Monday, April 19, 2004

One down, three to go. The Mets did what they needed to do last night against Montreal. Tyler Yates (1-1) got his first major league win, and in my opinion, showed that last week against the Braves was more likely the exception than the rule. Of course, he pitched against the lowly Expos, but I think he is going to be a very good pitcher. At the very least, he's got his confidence back from the poor outing against Atlanta.
Braden Looper picked up the save despite a shaky ninth. That was a little stressful, although I never had the sense of impending doom that we all knew so well during the Franco/Benitez closer days. I kind of felt that Looper was going to get the outs.
Mike Piazza might be breaking out of his slump. I feel like as his bat gets going, so might the rest of the lineup. Piazza went 2-for-3 last night, and just missed the record-tying homer. The sooner he hits that home run, and the sooner he starts blistering the ball like he was in the opening series against Atlanta, the sooner things start going well for the Mets.

Notes: Karim Garcia continues to impress the hell out of me, with a home run last night...Ty Wigginton homered last night also, hopefully that gets him on track, because he's been hitting the ball hard, but making outs all year...The Daily News reported this morning that Jose Reyes and Cliff Floyd are both targeting next Tuesday in Los Angeles as dates to return to the lineup. Against the L.A. pitching, that might be very important.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Pirates 8, Mets 1 (5-7, 3 GB)

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Sorry for the late posting. Circumstances beyond my control. (Also, there will be no "rest of the division" posting today, due to those same circumstances - just know the Expos are still very bad, the Marlins are less good, the Braves are gaining ground, and the Phillies have passed the Mets.)

This was a very bad weekend. I would like to pretend this weekend never happened. But we can't avoid the facts - the Mets lost three straight - at home - to a lesser team. The Pirates pitchers are not as good as the Mets hitters made them look. And the Pirates hitters are not as good as the Mets bullpen (and Jae Seo - 0-2) made them look.

As optimistic as I am, it's hard to believe the Mets didn't just screw up their entire season. But think of it this way - it's just one weekend. It's just three games. Lots of teams have three game losing streaks. Now's the time to show your fortitude and start winning again. And what better way to do that than have the Expos come to town.

The Mets NEED to win all four games against Montreal. This is not impossible. The Expos are 2-10, and have lost 7 games in a row. One of their best players (Carl Everett) is sidelined. The Mets have already played three games against the Expos, so they know what to expect. That's a recipe for success, and the Mets had better succeed. Four times.

Notes: We might get an inkling of the real Tyler Yates tonight. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt after last week's start - he had that six run inning against the Braves, in very cold, rainy weather. Tonight's a beautiful night. Let's see what he has...If there's anything encouraging to take out of the weekend series versus the Pirates, it's that Tom Glavine and Steve Trachsel had two more very good starts, and after Seo gave up a bunch of runs yesterday, the bullpen didn't make it worse. The bullpen needs to get it together and keep games from getting out of control.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Pirates 2, Mets 1 (5-6, 3 GB)

Saturday, April 17, 2004

You're not supposed to lose these types of games, especially in your own park. Steve Trachsel (1-2) pitched very well - the only bad hit he gave up was a solo homer to Jose Castillo. The Pirates added the go-ahead sacrifice fly right after the Mets tied it at 1. After Friday night's debacle, I was really hoping the Mets would be able to bounce back and pound the Pirates. Today the Mets send Jae Seo to the mound in a pretty important early-season game. I was hoping for two out of three (at least) against Pittsburgh. Now they need to get this one today. Then Montreal comes to town for four games. A sweep there would make me forget how bad these last two games were.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Pirates 7, Mets 6 (5-5, 3 GB)

Friday, April 16, 2004

This was a rough one. I generally give Art Howe the benefit of the doubt, but I don't know about tonight. I was at the game, and on the way home, the radio post-game show reported Howe said Tom Glavine's shoulder was starting to stiffen, and that's why Howe pinch-hit for him in the 7th inning. I hope that's the truth. Because if it's, that was a tough one to swallow. The Mets led 2-0 after a 2-run single by Ricky Gutierrez in the second inning. Glavine was cruising, giving up just one hit in 7 innings. The Mets blew a couple of opportunities to get some insurance, including stranding Shane Spencer on third base after he hit a bases-empty triple. But even still, they should never have an inning as bad as the 8th inning at Shea.
Orber Mareno - 3 straight hits. Booed off the field.
Mike Stanton - Walk, infield hit. Game tied at 2.
David Weathers - Hit, bases loaded hit by pitch (are you kidding me??!) all, a 7-run eighth inning for the Pirates. 7-2 in the middle of the eighth. Someone's gotta put that fire out.
The encouraging sign here is that the Mets fought back. With 2 outs, the Mets closed to within a run when Eric Valent hit a pinch-hit 3-run homer to make it 7-6. Jose Mesa got them 1-2-3 in the 9th, though.
This team will battle every night, but if the bullpen keeps pitching like this, that's going to be a long, uphill battle every night. And you don't win many of those battles.

Notes: Man, was it chilly at Shea last night...The scoreboard lights make the out-of-town scores much easier to read...Credit my dad with an interesting point - should we be concerned about Kaz Matsui's range? There were a couple of balls hit his way that he either didn't make much of an effort to get to, or wasn't able to reach. It could have been the angle we were sitting at, but it seemed like he should have fielded a couple more grounders than he did...It looks like Mike Piazza's pressing a bit for that record-tying home run. He better get that out of the way soon so he can just worry about playing ball.
Also, tonight I make my first trip of the year to Shea Stadium. It's a little ironic -everyone in New York is focused on Boston tonight, with the Yankees facing the Red Sox here for the first time since the ALCS. Mike and the Mad Dog are even broadcasting from the top of the Green Monster. But I'm heading the opposite way, going to NYC for Mets-Pirates. I regret nothing.

Mets 4, Braves 0 (5-4, 3 GB)

Thursday, April 15, 2004

This might have been the Mets' best win of the year so far. Al Leiter (1-0), David Weathers, Orber Moreno, and Braden Looper combined for a 4-hit shutout. Leiter hasn't given up a run in his two starts this year, and has a scoreless innings streak of 24 1/3 innings, dating back to last season. The big spot in this game, though, came with Weathers on the mound. Leiter left with men on first and second, and one out in the sixth. The Mets were up 2-0. After walking Andruw Jones, Weathers got Julio Franco to ground into a double play, ending the inning. That's the type of play that the Mets have been on the other end of the past few years.

Karim Garcia and Jeff Duncan padded the Mets lead in the eighth with RBI singles, making it a 4-0 lead. That's another good sign - the Mets kind of twisting the knife - not settling for just the 2 run lead.

That blew the save opportunity for Looper in the 9th, but he was still pretty good. And I'll take the W over the save any day.

Notes: Ralph Kiner, again, bringing his A-game last night. When Julio Franco comes to the plate with the bases loaded in the sixth, Kiner says, "The old man's up now." Haha. Ralph Kiner calling someone else an old man. But he was great....Another interesting point with Kiner - when he retired, with 369 home runs, he was number six on the all-time list. Now, he's number 57...Interesting situation when Bobby Cox was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the fifth inning. Up until that point, Leiter was cruising, no-hitting the Braves. Then he threw a 3-1 strike that Cox argued vehemently over, and it didn't look like he made that much of a case. But the papers this morning point out that it was probably an attempt to upset Leiter's rhythym. If it was, it worked. On the next pitch, Leiter gave up his first hit.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Braves 6, Mets 1 (4-4, 3 GB)

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I was pretty excited that the game didn't get washed out last night. Now I wish it had. I hope the weather had something to do with Tyler Yates' (0-1) performance. That 3rd inning was brutal. Those five runs felt like ten. Hopefully he'll bounce back in his next start. I'll reserve judgment on this start in the cold and rain until seeing how he reacts in his next start Monday. Maybe he'll have a big Trachsel-like bounceback.

Another sidebar coming out of last night's game was that apparently Mike Piazza wasn't told by Art Howe that he was starting at first base instead of catcher. The newspapers are trying to make a big deal out of it, but Piazza says it's not a big deal. Hopefully they leave it at that. The Mets don't need manufactured controversy over stupid little stuff like that. Save it for the inevitable controversies they'll create themselves this season.

Nice outing by Jae Seo yesterday - I wonder if he falls into the same category as 2001's Ichiro and this year's Kaz Matsui. They both had poor springs before breaking out during the regular season. Seo lost his starting job late in spring training, and he wasn't pitching well, but maybe it was because he felt he would save his best stuff for the regular season. Maybe it's part of a mentality players from the Far East have. Let's see how he pitches when he gets the start on Sunday.

Notes: Encouraging to watch the solid outing by the bullpen. Seo (2.2 IP), Dan Wheeler (2), John Franco (1) and Grant Roberts (1) combined for 6 2/3 scoreless innings to give the offense a chance to get back in the game. It was especially good to see Roberts not give up a run. He needs the confidence boost....I think I need to ban my future wife from watching Mets games with me. She's watched the past two Wednesday games, and the Mets have lost by a combined score of 24-11. She doesn't seem too upset by my threat.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Mets (4-3, 2 GB) were off yesterday, but here are some other thoughts I had in the past couple of days:

The crowd was into Monday's game - chanting "Hamp-ton, Hamp-ton", and I think I heard a mock tomahawk chop chant. Nice...It sucks that Cliff Floyd is hurt again, but at least he's upset about it. He's not just taking it in stride, like other stars that get hurt. I like that he's passionate and wants to play. He sure was hitting the ball hard, though...Lastly, I hate the way the New York papers played off Monday's win in the home opener. Stuff like, "It's good while it lasts", and "fans say it's encouraging, but they know they'll need more miracles". Come on. Ya Gotta Believe. The worst thing is, these will be the same people jumping right back on the bandwagon come September.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Mets 10, Braves 6 (Mets 4-3, 1.5 GB)

Monday April 12, 2004

A good win. I would much rather have seen the score stay at 10-1, but it was good to see Braden Looper slam the door in the ninth inning for his second save. Very encouraging to see Steve Trachsel (1-1) bounce back from last week. Also very encouraging to see Mike Hampton (0-1) pitch so poorly again. Very discouraging to see Grant Roberts get shelled again. What happened to him? From front-runner for the rotation to almost blowing the game in garbage time. The worst thing is, he's out of options and can't be sent down to the minors, which I think is what he needs. Dan Wheeler wasn't too impressive either.

The best thing about this win is it showed the Mets have some depth. Cliff Floyd is on the DL, and Mike Piazza sat out the game (coupled with today's off-day he should be back for Wednesday's game). In their place, Todd Zeile started at first (and had a big game), allowing Jason Phillips to go behind the plate (and he had a good game). Joe McEwing drew the bases-loaded walk that helped break things open - he subbed for Floyd. And Shane Spencer-Karim Garcia is turning into a very good platoon in RF. How about Sharim Spencia? Kind of like when the Mets had Backstra in the 80's.

Trachsel made a huge play yesterday - with the bases loaded, in the second inning, I think, he loaded the bases, and with two outs, got a grounder to first. The flip by Zeile was low and away, but Trachsel stabbed it, preventing what could have led to a 2-out rally by Atlanta. That play might have turned around the game.

Of course, the Braves played without Rafael Furcal and Chipper Jones. But the Mets of the past few years would have lost that type of game yesterday. The Mets are no longer intimidated by the Braves, and that's huge.

Notes: One of the best things about watching yesterday's game was listening to Ralph Kiner. The Bells' Palsy has slowed his speech, but he was funny, interesting, and very adept at breaking down situations. Kiner lost his wife during spring training - it's good to hear him back in the booth. He was even able to plug his new book. I felt like Fran Healy and Ted Robinson talked too much during last week's broadcast - Kiner's presence helped even things out. (FYI - It's been a couple of years since I've religiously watched Mets games, so all of these developments in the broadcast booth struck me as relatively new. If you've noticed this the past couple of years, sorry for wasting your time.)

Monday, April 12, 2004

Here's the weekly look at the rest of the NL East:

Florida (5-1) - Florida beat up on Montreal and Philadelphia in Miami. Not sure if they're for real...but they showed last year, obviously, that they should be taken seriously. So I'll consider that a legit 5-1. Here's the weird thing - Armando Benitez has 5 saves for the Marlins. In 5 opportunities! That won't last.

Atlanta (3-3) - The Braves have to be a little bit worried. Chipper Jones strained his hamstring yesterday, and may not play today against the Mets. If they lose his bat, that spells even more trouble. And Russ Ortiz gave up 4 ER in 7 innings yesterday - another not-so-typical-of-a-Braves pitcher outing for Ortiz, after a great season last year. So there are question marks. The Mets can really put some doubts in the Braves minds if they take 2 out of 3, or even better, a sweep.

Montreal (2-4) - The Mets got an up-close look at Montreal too. The Expos' pitching was pretty solid, surprisingly. Their hitting wasn't anything special. 4 runs in three games. They might have a problem there. But it's too small a sample to make a determination yet.

Philadelphia (1-5) - Surprised? Philly honestly doesn't scare me. It might be a different story when the Mets play them, but I feel like the Phillies will choke at the end of the year. It's not choking, though, when you straight up suck for the entire year. It's called "continuing to suck". I think the Phillies will be a bust.

Mets 4, Expos 1

Sunday, April 11, 2004

OK. First I'll focus on the positive. The Mets are back to 3-3. That's good news. And Tom Glavine (2-0) pitched great again. No earned runs in 7 IP. And the Mets won despite some discouraging circumstances. Which is also good news. But that brings us to the bad news.

Mike Piazza probably won't play in today's home opener after the collision at first base where he tried (unsuccessfully) to field an errant throw, and was grazed by Peter Bergeron. He was described as "woozy". But with an off-day scheduled for tomorrow, Piazza should be back behind the plate Wednesday.

Cliff Floyd DEFINITELY won't play today, and could end up on the disabled list. Floyd came up lame running out an infield hit. He strained a quad. I'm sure this is somehow related to when he was hit by a pitch in the calf on Friday, because he had trouble shaking that off, it looked to me. I'm no doctor, so I don't know how the two could be related, but that's my diagnosis. Maybe he was favoring his calf, and ended up straining his quad. (I don't know what I just wrote.)

Also, Karim Garcia has a broken tip of a finger on his throwing hand. I really didn't want to like Garcia, after his Yankees stint and pre-season allegations (fight with a pizzaman), but he was great the first week of the season. This injury could hurt, but it might not be a bad thing to get Shane Spencer some more AB's. Eric Valente will also see more playing time vs. righties.

The only other bad news is that I saw Jose Reyes is not making much I don't know whether he'll be back or not on this homestand. But, hey, the Mets are 3-3! Better than when they were under .500.
OK - I've changed my mind a bit. If you want a daily recap of the Mets game the previous day, you can get a newspaper. So if you're coming here, I'll give you my opinion of what happened the day before, and what I think is going to happen next.
Of course, I think the Mets will win the World Series every year, and as of right now, I think it can happen this year. If things start to look bleak, I'll be the first to point it out.
I'll also do about a once-a-week overview of the rest of the NL East (and later in the year, Wild Card contenders). Enjoy!

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Expos 1, Mets 0

Saturday, April 10, 2004

San Juan, Puerto Rico - The Mets seem to have left their offense on the mainland. After mustering just three runs in Friday night's extra-innings win over Montreal last night, the Mets got just three hits last night, losing to the Expos 1-0.

The good news from the game was Al Leiter. Leiter pitched five shutout innings in his first start of the season, delayed a few days after he was hit in the face by a line drive in his final spring training start against the Florida Marlins last week. Leiter threw 97 pitches over those five innings, working deep into counts on most hitters, and having 28 pitches fouled off against him!

The Mets couldn't get anything going against starting pitcher John Patterson (1-0), making his first start for the Expos. The Expos weren't much better, scraping across a run in the seventh inning after a Brad Wilkerson double, followed by a 2-out RBI single by Peter Bergeron.

Jae Seo (0-1) gave up the run, making his first appearance for the Mets this season. Seo was called up when Scott Erickson was placed on the DL Thursday, after being bumped out of the number four spot in the rotation with a weak spring training.

The Mets couldn't have asked for a much better chance to win the game in the top of the ninth, trailing by just one run with Cliff Floyd, Mike Piazza, and Mike Cameron due up. But Expos closer Rocky Biddle retired those three batters on just five pitches, setting up today's rubber match at Hiram Bithorn Stadium at 1 o'clock.

Notes: The Mets announced New York sports stars Tom Seaver, Ed Kranepool, Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, and Emerson Boozer will all throw out ceremonial first pitches before the Mets' home opener at Shea Stadium tomorrow afternoon. The Mets will honor the 35th anniversary of the 1969 Mets, Jets, and Knicks, all championship winners that year...Hiram Bithorn Stadium has been reconfigured for this season's 22 games where it will host the Expos, with the outfield walls readjusted to the dimensions of Montreal's Olympic Stadium.

My take: Not quite sure what to take from this game. The Mets' offense has been shut down this series versus the Expos, but at least the starting and relief pitching has been much better. Both the pitching and hitting have shown flashes over the first 5 games, if the team can play a complete game night in and night out, this will be a fun year.
Sunday, April 11, 2004

I've just created this space so that I can provide daily updates on the New York Mets in what I am sure will be a highly successful 2004 season. Right now, the Mets are 2-3, but I'm sure things will turn around. Perhaps I'll post the recaps of the first five games of the season. If I'm unable, I'll start with today's game against the Montreal Expos in San Juan, Puerto Rico.