Friday, July 30, 2004

Braves 3, Mets 1 (49-53, 7 GB)

OK, so the Mets lose to the Braves and fall seven games back. They should be out of it. But the Mets just might have pulled themselves back into the thick of things with two trades on Friday.

First of all, a note about Friday's game. Steve Trachsel had one bad inning, and that killed him. The sad thing is, for Trachsel, the bad inning resulted in just 2 Atlanta runs, and that proved insurmountable for the Mets. The big problem right now is that the Mets are playing without THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED, Jose Reyes. They need him to set the table. And they need Mike Piazza to break out of his slump. Now.

OK. The Mets made two great trades on Friday. How, you ask, could these trades have been so great, when the Mets can't score runs, and all they did was pick up two pitchers? Well, I'll tell you. The Mets no longer have a "back end of the rotation". You never knew which Jae Seo was going to pitch...whether or not he was going to be effective. And Scott Erickson had one good start, but as I've said - he wasn't the answer. (And neither was Matt Ginter.) Kris Benson and Victor Zambrano are the answers. The Mets no longer have question marks in the number 4 and 5 spots in the rotation.

Let's break down the deals first. Benson comes from the Pirates, along with second base prospect Jeff Keppinger (I know nothing about him) in exchange for Ty Wigginton, and Matt Peterson. The Mets also ended up sending catching prospect Justin Huber to Kansas City in this deal. To get Zambrano (and Bartolome Fortunato - a minor league pitcher, again, about whom I know nothing), the Mets sent the Devil Rays Scott Kazmir and minor league pitcher Jose Diaz.

I wasn't crazy about the Mets trading Kazmir at all. But that was when I thought he'd be involved in a deal for A pitcher, in a rental-type deal. But this makes a ton of sense. Both Benson and Zambrano are 29 years old. Both are proven to be at least solid pitchers, who can at times be very, very good, and who are going to be in the majors for a while. And best of all, they might now be with the Mets for a while. Benson has said he'd work out a long-term deal with the Mets if he was traded to New York (he's going to be a free agent at the end of the season), and Zambrano is under contract for a few more years. Peterson and Kazmir, for all their potential, are still a year or so away, and who knows where they'll be in a year. They both might turn out great (I have a feeling Kazmir will be better than Peterson), but for all we know, they could be busts. We know that Benson and Zambrano will be able to contribute for a good amount of time - and don't underestimate the wonders Rick Peterson could work with these guys. As for Wigginton, it's going to be weird seeing him in a Pittsburgh uniform, but in reality, the Mets won't miss his offense too much. He was hot and cold, and is not really much better than a .280 hitter. He increased his trade value, and had to go. He will be missed, though.

There still might be more deals on the way Saturday, GM Jim Duquette said in a conference call Friday. The Mets could still be looking for a veteran offensive presence to take Wigginton's roster spot.

So let's look at the rest of the season this way. The Mets roll out Tom Glavine, Al Leiter, Steve Trachsel, Kris Benson, and Victor Zambrano. As long as they can muster about 5 runs a game, they should be able to win about 3 out of every 5 games, if not more. That would put the Mets at 85-77 to finish the year, which would be good enough to win the division. They need to start winning now, though. And it begins Saturday night, with Kris Benson on the mound in Atlanta. Benson pitched his last two games against the Braves. He won the first, giving up 2 runs in 8 innings, and in the second, gave up four runs in 6 IP. I think facing a pitcher three times in a row would tend to favor the hitters...but maybe Benson will be pitching on adrenaline for his new team.

DON'T FORGET: My new feature, e-mail the site at Yahoo Mail seems to suck for me so far - I sent myself some test e-mails this afternoon that have yet to arrive...but I'll try this out for now. Wednesday will be the regular mail day, where I'll post comments, questions, etc., but if we have some good responses to the trades, I'll try to post them on Saturday night.

OTHER TRADE NOTES: The Marlins got better in their trade with the Dodgers, acquiring catcher Paul LoDuca, and reliever Guillermo Mota, and re-acquiring outfielder Juan Encarnacion. Encarnacion was great for Florida last year, LoDuca is a huge upgrade for the Marlins, and Mota is a very good reliever. (Sparks may fly between the Mets and Marlins now - remember Mota and Piazza have a history...Mota threw at Piazza in spring training, and Piazza shook some sense into him.) The Marlins, though, did give up pitcher Brad Penny - a pretty high price, and Hee Seop Choi, not so high a price. I think they improved overall, though, with this deal.

The Phillies acquired reliever Felix Rodriguez from the Giants for Ricky Ledee and a minor leaguer. A good deal for them, but I'm not worried about them. I think the Phillies are just about done.


Send me your thoughts!! Every Wednesday, we'll print your e-mails, questions, and responses. Send your e-mail today to

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Mets 10, Expos 1 (49-52, 6 GB)

OK, don't laugh. But this win over the Expos is just what the Mets needed. I'm back on the bandwagon (if I ever actually was off it). For the first time all year, I really enjoyed watching a Mets game. (OK, again, not really true - I enjoy watching them all...but I'm never really rewarded like I was on Thursday.) Everything fell into place, everything came together, it was a great all-around game. To wit:

Eric Valent (don't forget I wrote 3 months ago in this space how much I like him) goes 4-for-4, hitting for the cycle.
David Wright blasted two doubles, and is on his way to stardom.
Mike Piazza busted out of his slump with a 2-RBI single - when the game was still close, he broke it open.
Mike Cameron hit two home runs.
Al Leiter continued to pitch great - and he was more efficient, throwing 105 pitches in 6 innings.

The only thing that went wrong on Thursday was the Braves' win. The Braves scored two runs in the 9th against Pittsburgh to come back and win, and maintain their 6 game lead over the Mets. Let's take a quick look at the NL East for a second. The Braves are on top, 55-46. Then the Phillies and the Marlins are tied at 52-50, 3.5 games back. The Mets are 6 back. The Marlins crushed the Phillies again Thursday, 10-1, to move into the second-place tie. The Marlins absolutely own Philadelphia. They're 11-1 against them this season, and are 23-3 against them over their past 26 meetings. That's why I said it before, and I'll say it again - the Mets don't have to worry about the Phillies. They have to worry about the Braves and the Marlins...and this weekend brings three huge games against the Braves. Ideal situation, the Mets sweep the Braves, get back to .500, and move to within three of Atlanta. They really can't afford to move further back in the division.

I'm telling you, Thursday's game was fun. The Mets were having fun, and they went out, and killed the Expos. I have a feeling we'll be looking back at this game as the turning point. The broadcasters actually made some very good points about the team's chemistry and why Mike Cameron is such a valuable member of the team. Hopefully they do build off this game, and they start a winning streak. The bad seeds of this team are gone (Karim Garcia, Shane Spencer, and Scott Erickson...OK, maybe not bad seeds, but the guys who didn't belong), and depending on who comes aboard before the deadline, these guys really enjoy playing together. I have a feeling the next few weeks are going to be fun to watch.

The latest report out of Peter Gammons is the Mets are going to trade Matt Peterson and a player to be named later to the Pirates for Kris Benson. Not a bad deal - as long as the Mets don't give up more than one of their minor league pitchers before the deadline, I can handle any trades. The Mets have a real chance to make a move this weekend...or see their season come to a crashing end. I'll recap it Sunday night. Let's go Mets!!!!

And a quick Get Well soon to THE GREATEST (AND MOST FRAGILE) BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED, Jose Reyes. We need you!

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Mets 4, Expos 2 (48-51, 5 GB)

So this is what the Mets are. A team that can barely get above the .500 mark, a team that doesn't score a lot of runs, a team whose best pitcher has a record of 8-8 (Tom Glavine). But you know what, as bad as all of this is, and as bad as things looked after the 19-10 loss to the Expos, the fact remains the Mets are just 5 games out of first place, and to this point, remain buyers, rather than sellers, as Friday's trade deadline approaches.

I received an e-mail from an angry Mets fan who identified herself as "Lauren", saying that Kaz Matsui should be sent to Triple-A because of his 21 errors, and the Mets should trade Mike Piazza while they can get some value for him. Well, "Lauren", I understand you're frustrated, but keep in mind Matsui's bat has probably kept the Mets in more games lately (and I stress - lately) than his errors have cost them. And Piazza's being hurt this past week might be a blessing in disguise, because he now has a week of rest under his belt. That's tough to come by for him at this stage of the season. I bet he comes back hitting the ball like crazy (not counting Tuesday night's pinch-hit groundout), and when he spurs the Mets to a 10-game winning streak, you'll regret wanting to trade him. That said, if the Mets lose the next few games before the deadline, trade 'em all. I can't take many more worthless seasons.

In the mess of Monday's 19-10 embarrassment, I neglected to mention David Wright's first career home run. It was a pretty good shot. As another loyal reader points out, only 754 more 'til he catches Aaron. Unfortunately, now the Mets are 0-1 in games in which Wright homers. And doubly unfortunate, it was just his fourth hit of the season. He needs to pick up the pace if he's going to pass Rose. So much pressure.

Speaking of pressure, Wright's fellow future-Hall-of-Famer, THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED, Jose Reyes, is on fire. He's up to about .262 right now, and is running like crazy. He stole another 2 bases Tuesday night - including third base. He's done that a bunch lately.

OH! How about this?! During Tuesday night's game, Fran Healy, talking about David Wright's batting stance, says, "You know who he reminds me of, holding his hands out like that? A man whose number is retired here in Montreal....and a former Met....." Thaaaaat's riiiiiiight.....None other than HALL OF FAMER GARY CARTER. And then, as an added treat, they do a split screen, showing Wright's batting stance compared with Carter's. If I hadn't gotten married in May, that might have been the greatest moment of 2004 for me. Oh well, I guess it'll have to settle for second-best.

By the way, I'm ashamed to admit I didn't make it home from my damn math class in time for Wright's home run Monday night. I had to see it on replay. I feel like I betrayed my boy. (I strongly dislike this Math class as it is, now it is definitely on my sh** list.) Oh well. At least I saw Wright's first hit. He'll be more of a hits guy than a homers guy in his career anyway.

So Glavine pitches well, the Mets score enough runs to win...that's about as well-rounded a game as you can expect from the Mediocre Mets. (But don't forget - Mediocre is enough to get them into the post-season. I'm done pretending this is a great team, and a good division. I'll take the back door into the post-season and championship.) So they need to put the package together again on Wednesday night for Jae Seo. A nice winning streak here to get the Mets back to .500, then into second place, would be great.

NEWS: Another distraction the Mets don't need. Shane Spencer was arrested for DUI in Florida early Tuesday morning. I've about had it with Shane Spencer. This guy has a serious drinking problem. The funny thing is, the Mets were all about putting together a quality team with upstanding citizens this year. Then they go out and sign Shane Spencer and Karim Garcia. I didn't even know Spencer was this wild. He really kept a low profile with the Yankees, I guess, even though it's the same city. But first there was the pizzaman incident in Florida during spring training, then landing on the DL with a cut foot, which he says he got by stepping on glass while wearing sandals, but in my mind is starting to look like he kicked himself in the tooth because he's a drunken fool, and now this DUI thing. I'm sick of it. Shane should shape up or ship out.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Expos 19. Mets 10 (47-51, 6 GB)

That game reminds me of the old saying, "When you give up 19 runs to the Expos, you might as well shoot yourself in the face".

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Braves 4, Mets 3 (47-50, 5 GB)

Things are falling apart fast. 5 games back now. These were some very important games against the Braves, and the Mets just didn't come through. It's a good thing Friday's game got rained out - they probably would have lost that one too.

If the Mets don't win these next couple of games against Montreal, they might end up trading players by Friday, instead of trading for players. They absolutely HAVE to win Monday. And after that, they absolutely HAVE to win Tuesday. Then we'll go from there....but I have a feeling they're going to HAVE to sweep the Expos.

Mike DeJean has been outstanding so far. At least that's working. Not only did they get rid of Karim Garcia, but they got someone decent for him. Way to go. (By the way, I think last week I may have written that DeJean was a lefty...he is, in fact, a righty.)

And THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED Jose Reyes is starting to show why he's THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED. Reyes went 4-for-5 Sunday, basically comprising the entire Mets offense. Unfortunately, he struck out with the tying run in scoring position to end the game...but a good weekend for Reyes. On Saturday he laid down a couple of outstanding bunts - beating one out for a base hit. (Except he has been getting picked off lately - I think one was against the Expos, but also against the Braves. That has to stop.) I feel I have been ignoring THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED ever since David Wright was brought up, kind of like you tend to ignore a dog when there's a new baby around. And then the dog gets mad when you pay all this attention to the new baby, and he starts doing tricks with more fervor to get the attention back. So Reyes is like that dog, except he's playing baseball with more fervor, in order to win back my affection. Well, Jose, you never lost my affection...both you and Wright are equally my favorites. But keep it up. Or else you will lose my affection.

Kaz Matsui also continues to be hot. He only went 1-for-4 Sunday, but he's now hitting .276. That's great, considering where he was for a good portion of the first half. But here's the deal with the Mets. It seems like they've never had everything working at once. They started off the season hitting the ball like crazy, but their pitching didn't have it together (Al Leiter was hurt, Steve Trachsel couldn't find his groove, Tyler Yates was getting roughed up - basically early on Tom Glavine was the only one pitching well). Ever since the first two weeks, the pitching has been friggin' outstanding, and the hitting hasn't been there. Then on the off night when the hitting is great, a decent pitching performance is tough to get (Glavine). And when they get enough runs to win, and the starting pitching is good, the bullpen blows it. They need to start pulling everything together....FAST.

Tyler Yates, by the way, is back with the team. His ERA in Triple-A was somewhere in the low-3's, I think, as they try to convert him into a set-up/closer type guy. I feel good about the recall. I think he'll be successful. Hopefully I'm right, because the bullpen needs a lot of help. Orber Moreno was placed on the DL, which is why Yates is back.

Scott Erickson gets first crack at the Expos Monday night. Big start. Hopefully he pitches as well as he did in his first Mets start. (The one where he actually made it to the pitcher's mound, not the one where he hurt himself warming up and was gone for three months.)

Friday, July 23, 2004

Expos 4, Mets 1 (47-48, 3 GB)

I'm starting to think the Mets may be no better than a .500 team. Luckily, that still leaves them just 3 games out of a playoff spot. But when you can't do better than a split against Montreal, let alone score more than a run in a game, you have to look at your team and think something's wrong.

I have a bunch of problems with Thursday's game. Here's a couple. Tom Glavine pitched great again, and again he gets nothing in return. At least he didn't get the loss. That went to John Franco, who served up a 2-run homer to Tony Batista in the 8th inning, breaking a 1-1 tie. That followed a dribbler of a base hit with two outs. I'm telling you, the Mets can't catch a break. Still, Franco can't keep giving up homers.

OK, another problem...HUGE problem. Why don't these major league baseball players run like they mean it? Good God, you just have to run hard a few times a game, will you do it once in a while?!?! Some instances, and they definitely cost the Mets yesterday:

Bottom 4: Kaz Matsui lines one to center field leading off the inning, Endy Chavez dives for it, misses it, the ball rolls all the way to the wall. Should absolutely be an inside-the-park home run, but Kaz is taking his time getting out of the box, and only ends up with a triple. The Mets go down 1-2-3 after that, so it stays scoreless instead of 1-0, Mets. I have a couple of problems with Matsui's baserunning. I've not once seen him slide into second base to break up a double play - he bails out as soon as the bag is touched. It wouldn't kill him to show a little more hustle.

Top 6: The only run off Glavine, a solo home run. The ball just cleared the wall by a little bit. Why does Mike Cameron give up on it so quick? He just stood and watched it, when I think he might have been able to catch up to it...I'm not positive that he would have robbed the homer, but he sure has done it enough in his career that I wouldn't be surprised if he did. But, oh, I forgot, he's wearing a Mets uniform now, so mediocre fielding is good enough right now.

Bottom 6: With Richard Hidalgo on first, Mike Cameron rips a double into the left field corner, with the score tied at 1. Hidalgo is being sent home, but after a few steps around third, he stops for some reason. The Expos catch Hidalgo in a rundown. They chase Hidalgo back to third. For some reason, as he's being chased back to third, Hidalgo stops, and runs back towards home. WHEN THIRD BASE IS LEFT UNCOVERED!!!! He could have easily dove (dived?) back into third base safely. But I don't know. Maybe I'm the only one who saw this. Ted Robinson and Fran Healy were too busy talking about everything else under the sun to bother to point it out. So maybe I'm wrong. But man, the Mets are killing me.

Good news: David Wright was 2-for-4, picking up his first two major league hits. His first hit was a double. He's just 2,998 hits from the 3,000 hit plateau, en route to the Hall of Fame. By the way, Wright also scored the only run of the game for the Mets. He was driven in by his co-first-ballot-inductee into the Hall, Jose Reyes. On his plaque, it will read, "THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED". Unfortunately, David Wright's Major League Baseball winning streak is over at 1. And the Mets are now 0-1 in games in which Wright gets a hit.

This weekend the Mets host the Braves. The two teams play for the first time since early April. If the Mets don't take the series, it might be time to spark up

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Mets 5, Expos 4 (47-47, 3 GB)

David Wright is the New York Mets third baseman. A few thoughts occurred to me as I was watching last night. It's weird to see a career begin like we're seeing with Wright. Provided he's the star everyone's making him out to be, it could be possible that 25 years from now, we'll see Wright's number 5 go up with all the other Mets' retired numbers. Ideally, 5 would go up with 7, as The Greatest Ballplayer Who Ever Lived Jose Reyes and Wright retire together. And their numbers would hang with all the Mets championship banners from 2004-2029. (OK, that's a stretch, the Mets would probably get beaten out twice in that span of years.) But in this day and age, it's pretty much near impossible for those two guys to stay with the Mets their entire careers, and for those careers to be productive too. But it sure is fun to think about right now.

Last night's game is just what the Mets needed. Finally, a break went their way. That hasn't been happening much lately.

Bottom of the 8th, Ty Wigginton on second, Todd Zeile pinch-hitting, he grounds it to third, it looks like the game's going to stay tied into the 9th....but Nick Johnson drops the ball at first!!! I remember that happening to the Mets early in the year. Maybe their luck is changing. Braden Looper got a big double play in the ninth to finish off his 20th save of the year.

Mike Stanton, again, was not effective. He relieved Jae Seo (who pitched very well, but tired) with two men on, and promptly surrendered a 3-run home run to the first batter he faced. Way to go Mike. Luckily, the Mets survived.

The Mets need these games against Montreal. MSG showed an interesting graphic during last night's game - everyone in the NL East has been beating up on the Expos. The Mets need to follow suit, because they haven't shown that they can dominate against other teams in the division. So far, so good. I wouldn't mind a couple of blowouts, though.

David Wright was 0-for-4 in his big Mets debut, but he looked pretty good in the field. He ended the first inning with a nice play moving to his left, snaring a grounder, then throwing a strike to first base. I'd like for him to get a hit one of the next couple of nights just so he's not pressing very long for his first major league hit.

The addition of Wright forced a couple of changes for the Mets. First, Dan Wheeler was sent to the minors so they could bring him up. That was (obviously) not based on performance, because Wheeler has been one of the more reliable pitchers the Mets have coming out of the bullpen. But everyone else who would have been a candidate to go to the minors has some kind of stipulation (out of options, in contract, etc.) in which it couldn't happen. So expect a trade soon so the Mets can clear a roster spot and bring Wheeler back up.

Secondly, expect that trade to include Ty Wigginton. All he's done now is shown he's valuable at another position, after playing so well at first base last night. And before the game, when asked about moving to first for Wright, Wigginton flat out said he wasn't happy about it. Wigginton is not the type to cause trouble around the clubhouse, but he's not happy, and as my friend Steve said recently, let's face it - this is about as good as he's ever going to play. So the Mets might as well deal him and get something good for him while his value is so high. The question now is, what are they going to get in return, with the deadline less than 10 days away??

!!!!!!!BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Desperate times call for desperate measures. With the Mets at 46-47, and reeling from an injury to Mike Piazza (although he's not expected to be put on the DL), the Mets have called up David Wright from Triple-A Norfolk.

The final Wright Watch: after a 1-for-5 performance last night, Wright finishes up his time at Triple-A with a .298 average, 8 homers, and 17 RBI. He spent 30 games with the Norfolk Tides. Now, he has to save the Mets.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Marlins 6, Mets 5 (46-46, 3 GB)

Absolutely horrible. This is an absolutely horrible loss for the Mets. Scott Erickson pitched great. He definitely pitched well enough to win. Ugly defense combined with some poor relief cost the Mets. What a way to ruin July 19th, aka "Mike DeJean Day".

So I guess I'll start with DeJean. The Mets finally traded Karim Garcia, to the Orioles, for the reliever. (I should be so happy right now, but instead, I'm so sad.) DeJean's numbers, to put it bluntly, suck. I'd like to think Rick Peterson can work with him to improve those numbers, but I just don't know. Peterson has done wonders with the Mets' starting pitching, but it seems like it comes at the cost of the relief corps. So the other hope with DeJean is that he performs better in the National League than he fared in the American League.

Now to the game. A 4-0 lead!! The Mets blew a 4-0 lead! Here were the encouraging aspects of the game. Mike Piazza seems to have found his stroke. He hit the ball on the nose a couple of times. "The Greatest Ballplayer Who Ever Lived" Jose Reyes had one of his best games since he's been healthy. He also is playing very well in the field. And Erickson, again, looked great. Maybe he'll feed off the fact that he's playing important games and continue to pitch well.

Unfortunately, there won't be many more important games at this rate. The bullpen inherited a 4-2 lead, and blew it. Vance Wilson looked like crap behind the plate. I don't know what was going on with the catchers last night, but there were more balls going to the backstop than you see on the pee-wee fields at I.C.Y.P. (My little league.)

I don't want people pointing fingers at Art Howe for this one either. The man takes enough crap from enough people (including my mom). He couldn't leave Erickson in much longer - the man hasn't pitched a major league game in years. He pushed all the necessary buttons - the players just didn't come through for him. The one move which probably raised the most eyebrows - when he brought in John Franco - turned out to be one of the best moves all night. The bullpen has had its share of shining moments this year...but it needs to be perfect if the Mets are going anywhere.

If I were a betting man...wait, I am a betting man.... If I could legally bet on a baseball game in the next 24 hours, I would bet a lot of money on the Mets winning Tuesday night's game. They won't lose two in a row at home to the Marlins. The big problem, though, is that the Mets should have won two in a row at home against the Marlins.

The Braves are playing the Phillies, and beat them on Tuesday night, so for now, the Mets are chasing Atlanta, and they're tied for third with the Marlins, 3 games back.

WRIGHT WATCH: Sorry, forgot about the Wright Watch yesterday. The Tides were off on Monday, and maybe that's a good thing for everyone's phavorite phenom, David Wright. Wright's been slumping. He went 2-for-4 in his last game, Sunday, and is hitting .308. But he's just 4 for his last 17...2 for his last 12.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Mets 6, Phillies 1 (46-45, 2 GB)

A couple of good wins bookend a couple of pretty bad losses this weekend. No ground gained, no ground lost. It wasn't a bad split, but it wasn't good. All of this points to a very average team.

I keep saying beginning tonight...beginning with this game....beginning now...but I think I (we) have to stop thinking that way. Starting with these next two games with the Marlins, the Mets have to put together a bunch of wins. It's just two games, but the Mets can help bury Florida by winning both. If Scott Erickson can actually make it through his pre-game warmups, he'd better pitch well. I have nothing against Erickson (except his wife is the worst sideline reporter of all time), I just don't think he's bringing any value to the team. Monday night he gets to prove me wrong.

Actually, Scott Erickson might be bringing a very good thing to the team - the trade of Karim Garcia. I can't believe this is actually going to happen. I just kind of threw it out there last week, that the Mets would make a trade to create the roster spot for Erickson. The fact that it's Karim Garcia makes one of two dreams I've had for this season come true (the other being the World Series win). The deal is, the Mets had a trade worked out to send Garcia to Los Angeles, but the Dodgers backed out. But there are still teams interested, so a trade could happen by Monday, when Erickson gets activated.

So, anyway, I digress. I missed Saturday's game, but apparently it was one of the worst performances of the season by the team. Friday night's loss wasn't pretty either. Hopefully the momentum from Sunday's win carries into these two games with the Marlins, because the Mets can't keep hovering at .500. They need to go on a run, and it needs to begin now.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Mets 3, Phillies 2 (45-43, 1 GB)

Here's my wishlist for the second half of the season:

That the Mets leave .500 in the rear-view mirror, rattling off a bunch of wins right now, never even falling close to the .500 mark again.
That in the process of leaving the .500 mark in the dust, the rest of the NL East also gets left behind, as the Mets run away with the division.
That my school workload lets up enough that I can get back to writing about the Mets more often than I've been writing.
That after not writing in so long, there are still people left to read this.

The Mets are now 1-0 post All-Star break. This is good, because this next month is just brutal for them. So starting with a win goes a very long way towards a strong showing in those games. Here's what we're looking at in that span:
The Mets just began a 4-game series at Shea against Philadelphia.
Then it's 2 games vs. Florida, and 2 vs. Montreal (and the Mets always struggle against Montreal when they're competing and the Expos are not).
Then it's 3 games against Atlanta, wrapping up the 11-game homestand. That series against the Braves looks a lot bigger now than it did a few weeks ago.
Then the Mets go on the road:
4 at Montreal.
3 at Atlanta. Then that road trip goes through Milwaukee and St. Louis before the Mets come home again. That takes us through August 10th. Not an easy go.

This homestand the Mets are on right now is tied for their longest of the season (they have another 11-game homestand at the end of August, into September, against the Padres, Dodgers, and Marlins). They have to take advantage of it, and tonight's win gets them off on the right foot.

A couple of things about tonight's game. Steve Trachsel looked great through the first five innings - maybe the best I've ever seen him look as a Met. That stretch in the first and second innings, where he struck out five in a row, was dominating. He just got tired late, which is a problem. Tom Glavine is about the only Mets starting pitcher who can go deep into games. (Al Leiter can throw 120 pitches, but lately he's reaching that total in the fifth inning.)

The Mets need Trachsel to keep giving them quality starts, because as of Friday night, the Mets' number four starter is going to be Scott Erickson. I really hope he pitches lights out, and makes me eat my words, but I really don't see Erickson being very effective. About the only positive I can see coming out of this Erickson thing is he pitches well for a couple of starts, and a) gets traded, or b) bridges the gap until the Mets get a good pitcher in a trade. If he sticks around and the Mets manage to get a good starter in a trade, I'd love to see Erickson coming out of the bullpen. I think that would be a valuable spot for him, a la Orel Hershiser in 1999.

WRIGHT WATCH: After a couple of games off for the All-Star and Futures Games festivities, David Wright returned to the Norfolk lineup with a bang tonight. Wright was 2-for-5, with 2 homers and 3 RBI. He did strike out twice, but he's hitting .326 now at the Triple-A level.

Notes: What a weird year. Why the heck do the Pirates, Marlins, Padres, Astros, Rangers, and Blue Jays have the day after the All-Star break off?...Scott Erickson is starting Friday night in place of Jae Seo. Seo has been moved to Monday night, so he can face the Marlins, who he has had the most success against in his career, according to the Mets' radio guys...Matt Ginter was sent to Triple-A when Karim Garcia was activated from the disabled list before the All-Star break, so in order to activate Erickson, another roster move has to be made. I don't know who the Mets will move. Unless some pitcher comes up with a mystery ailment, the most likely candidate would be Joe McEwing, and I think he has to be exposed to waivers before being sent down. Maybe a trade is in the works for early in the day tomorrow?...I'm watching Randy Johnson pitch right now against the Dodgers. He's got 9 strikeouts in 7 innings. I think he's showing teams what he's got - he's definitely going to be traded. The Mets are way, way, way on the outside in a deal to get him, but man, that would be unbelievable, wouldn't it? When Tom Glavine and Mike Piazza were selling the Mets to him at the All-Star game, they should have told him he could come to New York and be the third part of the best top 3 left-handed pitching combination in the history of the game...One last note - the Mariners released John Olerud. I would think he has some value to some team somewhere, and as much as I love Olerud, I don't think the Mets are that team. I don't think Olerud is a very good pinch-hitter in his career, and that would be the only capacity he could serve in if he came back here. Not that that's been rumored anywhere, I'm just saying.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Mets 10, Phillies 0 - 6th inning

Happy Birthday to me! A nice blowout win for my birthday - reason #1,367 why I love the Mets. Sorry I haven't posted in a few days. Who knew that going back to school would result in so much homework?! Don't worry, it hasn't kept me from watching the games - just commenting on them. I also feel that I don't need to play up the Mets so much on this website anymore because their actions on the field are finally backing up what I've been saying all year - this team is friggin' good.

OK. So right now the Mets are up 10-0 in the sixth. I think it's safe to say that heading into Thursday night's game, the Mets will be 43-40, one game out of first. With a win on Thursday the Mets can move into a tie for first place!!! I love it.

The best part of this, and I can't stress this enough, people, is that the latest stretch has come with Mike Piazza doing nothing. He's been pretty bad at the plate the past few games...but the Mets have still been playing awesome. The worst thing is that Tom Glavine had his worst game of the year at the worst possible time - the Mets could be sitting on a 7-game winning streak right now. I guess I shouldn't say the worst possible time - it's probably good that he got the clunker out of the way. Let's hope he doesn't revert now. He should know, though, that he's never going to get that much run support again all year.

Al Leiter, on the other hand, is in one of the best stretches I've ever seen him in. It's almost automatic that he'll get a win if the Mets can just get him a couple of runs.

So is Mike Cameron going to continue to hit the ball now, or is he just teasing us again? He goes through these power surges, and it looks like he's breaking out...and then he dips back into a slump. Tonight he hit two home runs...we'll see which Cameron shows up the next few games.

This is the second straight solid start by Steve Trachsel since I called him disappointing. I would like to also say at this time that my financial situation right now is disappointing me. (Let's see if the same turnaround applies.)

WRIGHT WATCH: David Wright has been slumping lately. He's in a 2-19 slump over the last six games. He did hit a 3-run homer Tuesday night (and Wednesday night's game was still being played at my personally-set press time). The Mets still seem to want to call Wright up sometime next week (after the All-Star Game). Ty Wigginton's recent hot streak makes for an interesting situation when Wright is brought up.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Mets 6, Yankees 5 (41-39, 2 GB)

SWEEP!! Wow, even I didn't think that would happen. But that's huge. That was number 3, 4, and 5 in the rotation...and now Tom Glavine and Al Leiter start off the four-game series against the Phillies. There's a very good chance the Mets could be in first place by the All-Star Break. Consider - the Mets have been blasting the ball the past couple of games - and Mike Piazza hasn't been part of the home run barrage. He's well overdue for a homer. And now the team heads to the launching pad that is Citizens Bank Park. If they keep hitting the ball this way, everyone will homer in this series.

Steve Trachsel did exactly what I hoped he would do on Friday night. Hopefully his bad starts are behind him, and he'll pitch consistently the rest of the season like he did in the first game of the Yankees series. Matt Ginter is in trouble - he might have lost his rotation spot with Saturday's performance. But the Mets were still able to pull out a win, which was big too. Then Jae Seo - I'm telling you - somehow he comes up big in big games. He's kind of like the Masato Yoshii of this Mets team - he has some real klunkers out there, but when it comes down to it, he gets the wins when it really counts (or in Sunday's case, he puts the Mets in position to win).

I saw Sunday's game, but didn't really see much post-game. (Although I was subjected to Yankees/YES coverage at my Yankees-fan aunt's and uncle's house.) Anyway, I never got a rule interpretation, but I don't understand what all the fuss was about when Jorge Posada got hit with the ground ball. I understand if the Yankees thought Piazza deflected the ball and then it hit Posada. Then he shouldn't have been out. But if the argument was that Posada got hit with the ball after it was past Piazza, I don't get it. I was always under the impression that if a grounder hit a runner, no matter where the fielder was, that was a dead ball, and the runner was out. Because what's the rule? Is it still a playable ball? I wouldn't think that's the case...but who knows. That could be why the Yankees put the game under protest. But I think I heard that the umpires ruled the second baseman (Ty Wigginton) could have had a play on the ball. So that would make the whole argument (and the Yankees' protest) moot.

So, what's next? The Mets play the first of four at Philadelphia on Monday night. The Marlins are home against the Pirates, also at night. In the NL East, the Mets are now tied with Florida, 2 games back of the Phillies. Florida's won just 2 of their last 10. The Mets are very capable of beating Philly here in these next four games. And then if Florida is still reeling after that, the Mets have a very good chance of taking that series. I really feel that the Mets will build off the momentum of this Yankees series and run off a bunch of wins here leading up to the break. They're playing great baseball right now. This should be a fun week.

ALL-STAR NEWS: Mike Piazza will be the starting catcher for the National League, voted to the All-Star team by the fans. Tom Glavine was named to the squad by Marlins manager Jack McKeon. Braden Looper also probably deserved to go, but I think the team is pretty fair, because a lot of other closers are having big years. Armando Benitez, Eric Gagne, Danny Kolb, and Danny Graves are all very deserving. So it'll be Glavine and Piazza representing the Mets in Houston next Tuesday. Not bad. Next year will be interesting to see whether Piazza makes the team as a first baseman...and it'll probably be the first All-Star appearance for THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED, Jose Reyes.

WRIGHT WATCH: Bad weekend for David Wright. He went 1-for-10 for the weekend, with 2 walks, and three strikeouts. His average dropped from .355 on Thursday to .319 on Sunday. He'll still be called up after the All-Star break, though.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Mets 7, Reds 6 (38-39, 3 GB)

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Al Leiter's reactions on the mound are usually priceless. For example, one of the best I've ever seen out of him came yesterday in the bottom of the seventh inning. Cliff Floyd made a bobbling catch after the ball ticked off his glove, bounced back in the air, then Floyd gathered it in with his bare hand. Fox Sports showed a replay isolated on Leiter, where after Floyd makes the catch, Leiter throws his hands up in the air, and gives a little celebratory jump, then shoots Floyd a look, kind of like, "I can't believe you almost dropped that". Something he could only get away with, because he's so likable.

Anyway, I bet there were some less likable reactions coming out of the clubhouse after Leiter left the game. He pitched seven scoreless innings, giving up just 2 hits, and left with a 6-0 lead. Ricky Bottalico gave most of that lead back in the 8th, and Braden Looper saved it.

It was almost a horrible loss, in which the Mets would have wasted homers by Eric Valent, Shane Spencer, Richard Hidalgo, and THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED, Jose Reyes. It would have also sucked a lot of wind out of the Mets before they played the Yankees. But it wasn't a horrible was a plain ol' win. And that's important.

Last week I wrote how I've been disappointed lately with Steve Trachsel. That can change 100% tonight if he comes through against Mike Mussina and the Yankees. This is the biggest game he'll pitch yet this year. Until his next start, which will come in Philadelphia.

It's so weird watching Leiter pitch. He just keeps letting guys get on base...but you just know he's not going to let them score. It's awesome...By the way, Leiter's ERA is 2.12, 0.04 ahead of Tom Glavine's, but he is 2/3 of an inning short of qualifying for the league lead...It's much easier listening to the Mets games when Matt Loughlin teams up with Fran Healy. Or Keith Hernandez teams up with Fran Healy. Notice the common denominator. No Ted Robinson. We need him to go cover tennis more often. Or at least I do. I think I actually enjoy Fran Healy a little bit. He's just so strange. It also makes me wonder if Healy and Robinson don't get along - there's an element in the booth that makes me uncomfortable when the two of them work together. Or maybe it's just that Robinson talks too much.

Just a final observation - there's nothing quite like experiencing a baseball season in Boston. Up until yesterday, I didn't enjoy it. I find most Red Sox fans annoying (I said MOST - not the faithful readers of this website who also happen to be Red Sox fans), because they almost enjoy it when their team's season falls apart, like it did these past three games in New York. It's tough to root for a team whose followers are so friggin' negative ALL THE TIME. I mean, this is a team that's 2 games out of the wild card, and the fans are done with the team. If you want to see some good turmoil, check out the Boston papers online every once in a while this summer, because this team is falling apart fast, and there are a lot of big name players who are going to be free agents at the end of the season. Those players are also not known for keeping their mouths shut. On the plus side, and to tie this in to the Mets site I run here, two Red Sox fans I know (you know who they are) have pledged their allegiance to the Mets because of the Red Sox struggles (although one of them is contingent on free agent Pedro Martinez signing with the Yankees next year). Welcome aboard, friends!

WRIGHT WATCH: David Wright was 0-for-3 last night, with a walk and an RBI. He was also caught stealing. The average is at .355.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Reds 2, Mets 0 (37-39, 3 GB)

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Again, due to the overlapping week of work and class, I only saw the last couple of innings of last night's loss. I can't really comment on the game, because I didn't see much of what happened. But again, Tom Glavine gets a tough loss. He's 7-5 on the year. That's just awful...and not fair. The good news, though, is that both the Marlins and Phillies lost, so the Mets stay 3 games out.

The Mets went 13-13 in the month of June. That means the johnnymets guarantee from last month is wrong. After saying the Mets went 15-12 in May, and should have an easier time against weaker opposition in June, I wrote:

"Of course, the Mets being the Mets, they're not going to dominate these teams like they should. But it's safe to say the Mets should win more games in June than they did in May. That's a johnnymets guarantee."

Oops. But I'm owning up to it, because I want to brag about being the one who predicted the Mets will win the World Series when they do that in October. Gotta take the bad with the good.

The problem with the 13-13 in June, though, is that the Mets need to do better than that to compete (they went 9-12 in April, 15-12 in May). And the schedule only gets tougher from now on. July is made up mostly of NL East opponents (plus this weekend's series against the Yankees). It's contender or pretender time for the Mets.

WRIGHT WATCH: Wright went 2-for-4 with a strikeout, and he stole his second Triple-A base. He's hitting .373. There's a big write-up on Wright (wright-up?) in today's Daily News. It talks about his relationship with Ty Wigginton, and talks about where Wigginton might be traded to. It also says that Mets officials say Wright won't be up with the Mets until after the All-Star break. (Yesterday WFAN rumored he might be up on Monday.)

Also in yesterday's Norfolk game, Scott Erickson went seven and two-thirds scoreless innings - his first good start for the Tides in some time. I hope that doesn't encourage the Mets to bring up Erickson anytime soon - he's not the answer.

Finally, I forgot to write this yesterday...but maybe some of you remembered. Last night on AMC (American Movie Classics) was the new show "Into Character", in which my brother and his friend were made into the Blues Brothers. It was really great, and funny. If you get the chance to catch a rerun of it on AMC, watch it - it's worth it. The only rerun I can find right now is 5:25am next Wednesday. Hopefully there'll be another one, at a more normal time. Otherwise, we have many tapes of it.