Sunday, April 30, 2006
A sweep would have been nice, but...2 out of 3 isn't bad. The Mets have to feel good about going 2-1 in a place where they haven't had any success, and more importantly, finishing a very difficult road trip (San Diego, San Francisco, and Atlanta - more difficult in terms of travel than in ability, but nevertheless) at 6-4.
The positives from Sunday (I barely saw any of this game): Carlos Beltran* homered, and Endy Chavez, moving to right to give Xavier Nady a rest (Chavez had played center in Beltran*'s stead) was 2-for-4 with a homer. Chavez's defense is awesome, but his offense is less than average.
The bad news is that this is what worries me about Steve Trachsel. According to the numbers (because I didn't see Trachsel at all - I really haven't seen him pitch much this year) Trachsel got rocked: 3.2 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 5 BB (!), 1K. I've been saying this for about three, maybe even four years now - I'm not sure I have confidence in Trachsel in a big spot. We'll see what happens when October rolls around, but Trachsel is the first to complain when he doesn't feel he's being treated fairly (and I think that's a big part of why he was kept on schedule to pitch Sunday in Atlanta, and Victor Zambrano was moved to Monday instead), and I'm not 100% sure Trachsel deserves the kind of treatment he thinks he deserves. I like Trachsel, I think he's been good for the Mets the past few years - I just want to see him deliver when it matters. And Sunday was one of those days - the Mets could have buried the Braves (they hadn't won all week - they lost 5 in a row) and swept them at home...but Trachsel didn't pitch well.
Oh yeah - the headline refers to the end of April. The Mets went 16-8 in the month. That's pretty good - I don't have the numbers in front of me - but I remember the past couple of years it was a struggle for the Mets to have a month where they were just a couple of games better then .500. So they've definitely turned a corner. We'll see what May brings - it starts with a two-game series beginning Monday night at Shea against the Nationals.
THE KID'S KIDS: What managing by Hall of Famer Gary Carter! The St. Lucie Mets trailed 3-0 going into the 8th - but the Mets scored twice in the eighth, and twice more in the ninth to pull out a 4-3 win over Brevard County on Sunday. The Mets had lost to Brevard County on Saturday, so they're back to a half-game back of B.C., and 1.5 back of first place Palm Beach. 14-9 is the record right now.
OTHER MINOR LEAGUE NEWS: I'll be honest, I went away on vacation, and I forgot about Boof Bonser. But I still love the name. So let's play catch-up, and I'll try to figure out when his turn in the rotation falls, so I can keep updating. No surprise, though, that Bonser is still the Twins' top pitcher at AAA - he's 2-1 right now, with a 1.52 ERA. He's pitched a team-high 29.2 innings, with 26 K's. He's also just given up 20 hits....but he's walked 12. He's had a total of 5 starts, most on the team, so he must have just pitched....Nope, baseball detective failed there. He pitched a few days ago - and it was his worst outing, versus Richmond. He gave up 3 ER in 5.2 innings, on 8 hits, with 4 walks. He'll be pitching again soon - maybe even Monday. We'll be watching for it.
BEAT THE STREAK: Jeter got me a hit, so I'm up to a season-high 9 gamer. Monday I go with Michael Young, because he's the best hitter on Texas, and they're playing Tampa Bay's Seth McClung. I always find myself picking a hitter who is hitting against McClung.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
I didn't really get to see much of this game. I was out for much of the night, but heard a little bit on the radio, then saw the end on TV. Paul LoDuca provided the only offense worth mentioning in the entire game with a solo homer in the sixth, backing up Tom Glavine. Aaron Heilman and Billy Wagner combined to finish off the shutout. I chose to go with this headline because it's becoming clear that the NL East is weaker than originally suspected. But who cares. For too long the Mets languished in the toughest division in baseball, top to bottom. (They could have won the West last year.) They deserve this. But here are the nasty numbers:
W L GB
NY Mets 16 7 --
Philly 9 13 6.5
Atlanta 9 14 7
Wash. 8 16 8.5
Florida 6 15 9
There were plenty of positives out of the Mets win...but I'll start with a negative. The Mets left 8 men on base, and obviously scored only the one run. But they always (for some strange reason) struggle against John Thomson. So the fact that they beat him is a good thing.
The first big positive is that the Mets are going to win their first series in Atlanta in years - it would be sweeter if it came via a sweep on Sunday. The Mets came into this series 21-50 all time at Turner Field. So they're inching that all-time record up a bit. Another one is Tom Glavine's second consecutive strong start against the Braves. Glavine in this one: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K. He's up to 3-2 on the season, with a 2.29 ERA. Billy Wagner pitched a very good ninth, by the way, for his 7th save.
Another positive was that Carlos Beltran* came back and started in the game. He played the entire game, and was 1-for-3.
WE'VE GOT COMPANY: I was partly distressed, partly impressed, to see that David Wright (left) is writing a blog for the Mets official website (you're not getting a link on my blog until he links to mine from his - go find it yourself). It's actually pretty good, but from what I can tell, he's only updating it on homestands. So I've got him there. I guess there's nothing else to say but welcome to the blogging world, David. But try to avoid having the blog distract you from your real job....that can be a challenge sometimes.
FROM THE, "WELL, THAT SEEMS TO BE THE NATURAL PROGRESSION OF THINGS" DEPARTMENT: Internet reports have former Met Tsuyoshi Shinjo, a fan favorite on the 2001 team, retiring from baseball in Japan to, what else?, release a collection of nude photos. Of himself. Just thought that would be worth mentioning.
BANNISTER'S REPLACEMENT: Willie Randolph says the pitcher who will fill in for Brian Bannister in the two starts he will miss will come from Norfolk, not the bullpen. So the Mets will have to make a move (perhaps sending Victor Diaz back down) and bring up either Jose Lima or John Maine, the guy they got along with Jorge Julio in exchange for Kris Benson. I'm looking forward to seeing Maine...not sure if this year is too soon, though.
MEDIA NOTE: I heard part of Saturday's Mets game on WFAN, getting my first regular season listen to Tom McCarthy - Gary Cohen's replacement. He's good. Not great, but not bad by any stretch. He's just a good radio guy. Good choice by the Mets. I just looked up his bio, and he's a New Jersey guy, who worked the past five years with the Phillies. Seems like the Mets' gain there. I didn't hear Howie Rose much, but he's still good to listen to. Looks like I can still look forward to catching some Mets games on the radio on the drives to New York.
THE KID'S KIDS: I have no information on Saturday night's game - the Mets against Bravard County - the team that's a half-game ahead of them in the standings, in second place. This series comes on the heels of the Mets dropping 2 out of three to the last place team in their division. The Mets are still 13-8.
BEAT THE STREAK: Occasionally, I like to play a game, which I guess you could call "Baseball Detective". Usually it happens when I'm trying to find out how one of my 'Beat the Streak' picks did. Like today. I picked Carlos Lee of the Brewers, and I missed the top of the first inning, but I saw the Brewers were up 3-0 after a half-inning. So automatically I assume Lee hit a 3-run homer. But then I get the clues, and go to work. The number 7 hitter led off the top of the 2nd for the Brewers, so there was no one left on base (3 runs in, 3 outs). So there could have been a double play - but that wouldn't have been Lee, because he hits 3 or 4, not 6. So there's now a 50-50 chance or better that Lee got a hit. I watch the game, and piece together more clues, until my player comes up or it becomes obvious how the runs scored. In this case, Rickie Weekes came up and it was said he hit his first homer of the season to lead off the game. So there's one run, one hit. Geoff Jenkins had a double, and scored on Prince Fielder's homer. So no hit in the first for Carlos Lee. He also got out his second at-bat. Thankfully, he homered in his third, and had a 1-for-5, extending my streak to a season-high 8 games.
Sunday I go with Derek Jeter, against Gustavo Chacin.
Friday, April 28, 2006
It might be a little early to be watching the standings, but the Mets opened up a six-game lead over the Braves Friday night by beating Atlanta 5-2. It was Pedro Martinez*'s 5th straight win to open the season. (He deserves a 5-0 start, with all the wins he's lost to blown saves the past couple of years. He actually deserves a 20-0 start. I love unblemished starts - this'll be fun to see how far it goes.)
Pedro* pitched very well - his only problem was a 2-run homer to Chipper Jones, on an 0-2 count, in the sixth inning. But the Mets never trailed, and future Hall of Famer David Wright blasted two home runs (career homers number 45 and 46), to go with 3 RBI. THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED, Jose Reyes, had a triple. And I'm going to make an argument that he's actually grown up, and is durable now. He slid awkwardly into second base after stealing the bag in the ninth, and kind of jammed his body as he hit the base. The Reyes of two years ago would have been out the rest of the season. This year's version ended up scoring a run.
Billy Wagner is making me a little nervous lately. He let the Braves load the bases in the bottom of the ninth before striking out Todd Pratt to end the game (he did strike out the side, which is exciting). Lately Wagner has been allowing too many baserunners. Hopefully he gets stronger and more dominant as the year goes on.
I saw this game on FSN South, and they had an interesting shot in the 9th inning - after Carlos Delgado lifted a fly ball to deep right to score Reyes off Chris Reitsma, he was shown in the dugout with a notebook writing something. I'd love to see an interview to see what kind of notes he's taking.
METS NOTES: I may have been wrong about Carlos Beltran* going on the DL. Apparently, he's going to be a game-time decision all weekend - if his hamstring feels OK by gametime, he'll play. If not, Endy Chavez will be out there.
On the topic of hamstrings, Brian Bannister was placed on the disabled list with the hamstring he injured in San Francisco. He was apparently in so much discomfort that he couldn't sit down on the plane - he stood the entire 4-hour trip to Atlanta. The good news is that the hamstring strain is the lowest level, so Bannister should hopefully be back in a couple of weeks. Victor Diaz took Bannister's roster spot, so I would guess Darren Oliver will be filling in for Bannister in the rotation. (Jose Lima is in AAA, and the only way I could see him being called up for the start would be if Beltran* went on the DL.)
The other big news is that Yusaka Iriki was suspended by Major League Baseball for a steroids violation. He got a 50-game suspension. That's bad news. Iriki was impressive for a while in spring training, and was contending for that final bullpen spot pretty much until the end of the spring. I get the impression the Mets aren't going to want much to do with him once the suspension is over.
MAILBAG: I'm pretty sure this is the first regular season appearance of 2006 for Dave in Brighton:
With the Braves series coming up this weekend, I was wondering what you thought of Pedro*'s performance against Atlanta so far in his Mets career. One of the reasons I was so conflicted about whether he should return to the Red Sox after the 2004 season was his declining effectiveness in facing the Yankees. It seemed like every time they played, he'd get up to 100 pitches by the 6th, Jeter would come to the plate, and send a double down the line. Every time.
Pedro vs Yankees by year
Yr ERA W-L
98 4.50 1-2
99 1.69 2-0
00 2.10 1-2
01 2.37 1-2
02 3.46 2-1
03 3.80 1-1
04 5.47 1-2
Dave in Brighton"
Dave, thanks for making me do some research. Seriously. I'm happy to do it. With the Mets, Pedro* has pitched against the Braves 7 times now in 1+ years (counting Friday night). He's had a decision every time, and is now 5-2. Here are the totals:
7 starts, 50.2 IP, 13 ER, 32 H, 10 walks, 47 K's
5-2, 2.31 ERA
Those two losses were games that felt a little bit like how he used to pitch against the Yankees - he just reached a point where the Braves got to him. But he's pitched as well against the Braves as he's pitched against most everyone else since he's come to the Mets. There haven't been many teams that have given him trouble lately.
To take your question one step further - David Wright doesn't seem to be intimidated at all by Atlanta. This weekend I hope to check out Wright's career numbers against the Braves - I can remember other 2-homer games he's had versus the Braves, particularly Horacio Ramirez (he owns Ramirez). I'll try to look into that this weekend.
THE KID'S KIDS: So much for first place. The St. Lucie Mets lost both Thursday and Friday nights. They're now 13-8, a game behind Palm Beach. But they're in third place, a half-game behind Brevard County.
BEAT THE STREAK: I forgot to update this on Thursday - Mike Lowell got his hit, so it was a 6-gamer, and on Friday, I took Vernon Wells, who had good career numbers against Yankees starter Jaret Wright. Wells was 1-for-3, so I've tied my season-long streak, with 7. I'm staying with good career numbers for Saturday - Carlos Lee, who's 4-for-5 against Cubs starter Glendon Rusch.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
But first - I'm delighted Steve from New York (Queens, to be more specific) took my "write more often" advice, so here he is again:
It appears I have let out my frustration on the Mets braintrust a bit too quickly. According to the Mets website this morning, Randolph has decided to push Zambrano back to Monday at Shea against Washington and pitch the much better and much more productive Steve Trachsel against the Braves in Atlanta on Sunday. The Mets pitching appears to give them an excellent shot at winnning the series. Hopefully, our $120 million pre-madonna will make a start and begin to earn his pay check.
- The "more optimistic than usual" fan in Queens"
First, all readers must realize that Steve is very cynical, and not usually optimistic. He's like the Yin to my Yang. Or something. So by "more optimistic than usual", I'm sure Steve means he doesn't think the Mets will be out of it by the All Star break this year, like he usually does.
Anyway, I'm hearing the same thing about Victor Zambrano - that his start won't be skipped completely, but he also won't upset Steve Trachsel's pitching schedule. So Trachsel will go Sunday, against Atlanta (an important game), on his regular rest, and Zambrano will go Monday, against Washington (a game the Mets could afford to lose...but an opponent he can beat), 8 days after his last start. So I guess Steve has calmed down a bit over that issue.
Also, by $120 million prima donna, I think Steve is referring to Carlos Beltran*. Unfortunately, I don't think he'll be earning that paycheck for another week or so. I haven't heard anything about Beltran*'s health today (nor Brian Bannister's, for that matter), but last thing I heard was that Beltran* would be placed on the DL Friday to rest his hamstring, retroactive to his last action in San Diego last Friday, and Victor Diaz would be called up to replace him. A sour note here on johnnymets.blogspot.com.
Now, onto the trip:
AT&T is the bonus park I was talking about. I showed you the pics the other day - we didn't go in, but we walked the perimeter of the park, and looked in the gates. There was also a big gate open because the grounds crew was working on the sod after about a month straight of rain in the Bay area. The park looks great...but I'll be going back.
I should explain how these trips work for me...because I'm a little obsessive sometimes. We have to go visit a park (we is the wife and I - she's in for the long haul now, because she's made all the trips with me so far. Other people who accompany us are interchangeable - but it's always nice to have company.) during a game that counts. An exhibition game, for example, is no good. I want to be there for an official game. Any post-season games are OK, too. But exhibition games don't count - unless we're talking about Doubleday Field in Cooperstown. I've also decided if I could visit a park during the World Baseball Classic, that might count - but I'd miss some of the home crowd atmosphere, which I think is important. So a real game is criteria number one. Then, we have to get there early, so I can check out what's around the park. Then, we have to take pictures for the scrapbook - hopefully I get most of these out of the way before the game (although I do take a couple during), so that I'm not worrying about them throughout the game. Then it's the souvenir stand - a drinking glass for the bar (tough to find out West - just got one at San Diego), a program, and maybe a shot glass. Maybe a shirt or hat for the wife. Then the food stand, with a souvenir cup. Then enjoy the game.
So the trip to AT&T Park didn't count. But it was a nice scouting trip. Nice-looking inside, and it definitely looked like there was a lot to do around the outside of the park. I'm sure it's a fun place to be, with McCovey Cove and everything, before and during a ballgame. We'll be going back.
The small ball fiscal mentality you see on the field with the Oakland A's extends to their off-field business as well. There is cost-cutting even at the food stands. I got the worst souvenir cup at Oakland from any stadium ever (I hate to see what Kansas City offers - it's probably paper). They also didn't have lids for the drinks. Sticking with food, the hot dogs were very good - they also had sesame seed buns, which was different...and good.
I also figured out why Raiders fans are so ornery - they pee into a trough. The stadium's men's rooms have troughs instead of urinals. Now, I never saw this before - but the wife says this is the way it used to be in Fenway Park too. I don't know how the wife knows about the men's rooms at Fenway, but I vaguely remember hearing about this. It occurs to me that I've never been in a bathroom at Fenway. I have a very strong bladder. But I digress.
The atmosphere is OK - the fans wear a lot of green, which is neat - but their biggest reaction came from the dot races on the scoreboard rather than game action. There were only 21, 256 there - and the whole upper deck is closed off this year to prevent it from looking empty - capacity is about 34,000. Big kudos, though, to the fact that the ushers hold back all fans walking around until an at-bat is through.
The concourses are dank, the stadium looks awful from the outside, but when you're sitting in your seat watching the game, it's not a bad place to watch a game from. Here's another good picture from that game - Cameron Loe delivering to Eric Chavez:
I told you Huston Street blew this game for the A's - the Rangers won it.
*yawn* Bland team, bland stadium. Old stadium. *yawn* I really disliked our trip to LA.It's kind of an intimidating city, and I'm a proud New Yorker, who loves Manhattan. It's just such a big city, and everything is spread out, and you can't get anywhere except by driving. So I got off on the wrong foot with this whole trip. And I guess I was predisposed to not like Dodger Stadium. But, first of all, I'm glad we got it out of the way. And second of all, it wasn't all bad.
Everything about Dodger Stadium seems old. The bathrooms (interestingly enough - troughs again), all the concrete....it really looks like it does on TV. Which is to say, there's not a lot to it. It was comfortable to watch the game there, with good sightlines - in part due to the fact that the Dodgers installed new seats (every seat in the ballpark is new) in the offseason - the first team to do a full seat replacement in the offseason. The fans were into the game - but there were a surprising number of Cubs fans at the game - almost seemeed like more Chicago fans than L.A. fans.
The Dodger Dogs were good (apparently, you HAVE to have a Dodger Dog at Dodger Stadium), but weren't anything to scream about. They're grilled, so I guess that's why they're different. And they come out of the package HOT. One of mine was covered in ketchup because I burned my hand holding it under the ketchup dispenser because it was so hot. Also, an added bonus was the organ music - not only the fact that there was organ music, but it was pretty good.
The scoreboards stopped updating out-of-town scores, which was frustrating for someone trying to run a pool. (But the most awesome thing about the West Coast is that the 7pm games are finished by the time these games get underway. I like the time change.)
And here was the number one good thing about Dodger Stadium - open concourses. I didn't even realize it at first. But for an old ballpark (outside of Wrigley, this is the oldest ballpark in the NL, and fourth oldest in the majors), the open concourses really add to the park feel. It's something I really appreciate, since Shea's concourses are closed, and you can't watch the game from behind the stands. It was a really nice part of Dodger Stadium.
As for the game, this was the game where Derrek Lee got hurt. We left right after that happened, in the bottom of the 7th. I had had it with LA. I was not in a "THINK BLUE" frame of mind.
The Cubs came back to beat the Dodgers in this game.
I've saved the best for last.
The first thing you need to know about PETCO Park is how strange it looks from the outside. It looks like a shell. Or a secret compound. It's strange. I can't really describe it. But from the highway, it doesn't really look like a stadium. The light towers are the only thing that give it away - otherwise, we wouldn't have seen it from the road. But that's the only negative thing I'll say. PETCO is up there with my favorites. Actually, it probably is my favorite, edging the former Enron Field in Houston. There's more to do at PETCO - so much more to do that I'm pretty sure we didn't see everything there is to see, and we have to go back. We barely even made it around to the right field side.
I'm kind of obsessed with this park. Especially the Warehouse in left field.I just love it. And what I didn't know is that the warehouse houses the Padres' team store on the ground floor. We went there, but apparently, you can step out of the team store onto the field behind the left field fence. I will definitely be doing that the next time we go...I found out about that too late last week.
This ballpark is beautiful (on the inside, anyway). It's like a resort. A huge resort. There's about a zillion employees, one stationed at each entry ramp, and they're all very, very friendly. It was awesome. They, too, held back crowds until at-bats were over. (Another complaint - we were sitting in a section where they had waitresses/waiters bring food orders to you. It defeated the purpose of holding back the crowds, because the woman taking orders was always standing in the way. Also, PETCO is not in a very nice area. That's another complaint. And it's expensive. Food and drink and souvenirs. That's all. I still loved it.)
Interestingly, one of the ballpark's flaws was the closed concourse. I think it's so big that they just couldn't have open concourses. They make up for this, though, by having monitors EVERYWHERE on the concourse, so you don't miss a thing. This was the game that went 14 innings, when the Mets lost 2-1, and after the last out, as we walked out, we could watch the replay of the winning run scoring, and what I insist was a bad call by the ump, all the way through the concourse to the exit.
The food was good, the atmosphere was good. Even though the Mets lost, I loved it. That probably says it all.
We have an uncanny knack of rooting for the losing team on these trips. We saw the Mets in Houston and Philly. They lost both times. (Also in San Diego.) We were rooting for the Dodgers and the A's, and they both lost. We went to Yankee Stadium, and the wife wanted to root for the Red Sox, and they lost. The Mets also lost in Arizona. It's awful. I'm seeing the Mets in Boston in June - they'd better break the streak. At least someone will win that day - the wife's Sox or my Mets.
The rest of the trip was quite relaxing.
We even went to the San Diego Zoo. An added bonus in San Diego. This gorilla must have seen a game at Dodger Stadium, too.
The St. Lucie Mets have another game Thursday night against Jupiter, who they had that big comeback against last night. The standings are still the way they were after last night's game: the Mets are 13-6, a half-game up on Brevard County, and 1 up on Palm Beach.
THE KID'S KIDS/MINOR LEAGUE REPORT:
The big news in the minors, though, is Delmon Young. If you haven't seen the video of him throwing his bat at the ump, which I mentioned last night, check out ESPNEWS soon, or come over, because I have it on TiVo. He should be suspended indefinitely, and that indefinitely should last a very long time. He chucked the bat. And it was a direct hit. It's a good thing the ump was wearing a chest protector.
Big weekend series for the Mets in Atlanta this weekend. I'll have full coverage.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
The Mets came back, took a lead, blew a lead, then took a lead again on Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco. In the end, they headed to Atlanta (after an off-day Thursday) with a win, but it could have been costly.
Brian Bannister gave up 3 runs in five innings, and also drove in two runs during a 2-for-3 afternoon at the plate. But it was after he doubled in the top of the sixth, when he was running home to score the go-ahead run, that he came up lame, barely able to make it down the third base line with the Mets' 4th run, with a hamstring injury (big credit to Bannister, though, for gritting it out and getting across the plate despite the pain he was in). Bannister left the game immediately (replaced by Aaron Heilman). I'll keep you posted on when he will come back - but the Mets are having hamstring problems - first Carlos Beltran* and now Bannister. I'd hate to see Bannister be out long - first of all, because the Mets aren't deep in pitching, and secondly because he's fun to watch pitch. I think the latest I heard is that Bannister would be re-evaluated in Atlanta.
Billy Wagner blew a save in this game but all 3 runs he gave up were unearned, coming after a David Wright error with a man on and 2 out in the 9th. After the error, Wagner gave up a pinch-hit, 2-run homer to Barry Bonds (number 711 career), but the Mets got clutch hits from Chris Woodward and THE GREATEST PLAYER WHO EVER LIVED, Jose Reyes, in the 11th to win it. The Mets also got great work from the bullpen - particularly Chad Bradford and Darren Oliver, in extra innings.
14-7 is the Mets record. That's good for a .667 winning percentage. That's 2 wins every 3 games. The Mets have the potential to keep that up all year. That's scary...for other teams.
MAILBAG: I almost don't believe my eyes - after about 2 years away from the site - Steve from New York is back in the inbox!!! And we welcome him back with open arms:
As you know, I am a long time Mets fan and am used to them making terrible trades. Clearly, Kazmir for Zambrano is very close to top of the list. What is driving me crazy is that everyone in NY sees that Zambrano is horrible except for Randolph and Peterson. What are the two of them smoking? How much longer can this follishness continue? While listening to WFAN earlier today, I learned that the Mets are planning the weekend rotation to be Martinez - Glavine - Zambrano, Fri - Sun respectively. Normally, Sunday's game would be pitched by Trachsel, which is his 5th day. As most Mets fans know, Trachsel does well and likes to pitch on his 5th day. Instead, the Mets braintrust has decided to push Trachsel back a day, instead of skipping Zambrano all together, (which they would have been able to do because of the day off).
What are your thoughts and how long can the Mets fans let this nonsense go on?
PS - The FAN was saying that one of the reasons, besides stupidity could be that they want to keep Zambrano away from the Shea crowd as long as possible. That might be the smartest thing they have done all season (however, it will probably be to the detriment of the team)
PPS = If Bannister can't start on his next scheduled date, do the Mets bring Heilman from the bullpen for a start?
Steve - The way I see things with Zambrano right now is, the Mets can't win every game. So Zambrano is that equalizer, allowing them to lose every fifth day or so. (I'm only partly kidding there.) I've said it before - this is the year where the Mets learn whether or not Rick Peterson's work with Zambrano will pay off. (So far, not so good.) I couldn't listen to WFAN today, obviously, but I did get the Mets game on SNY. And Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez were saying that Steve Trachsel will pitch on Sunday, on his regular fifth day, and Zambrano would just be skipped. I'm not sure who's right - them or 'FAN, but now Bannister's injury throws a wrench in things, if he ends up being out for a while.
I do NOT think Heilman should be thrown in for a fill-in start. If he's going to be starting, I agree with what Hernandez said on SNY - it shouldn't be a permanent thing. The thing is, the way Duaner Sanchez has been pitching, I'd rather see him take over Heilman's role, Zambrano be a permanent reliever (where I liked the way he looked last year), and Heilman starting every fifth day. I think that's the best the Mets could do.
Thanks for writing, Steve! Keep it up.
ELSEWHERE AROUND THE NL: Some sweeps worth noting. The Reds beat the Washington Nationals, completing a 3-game sweep, behind a 1-hitter by Bronson Arroyo. I don't want to pat myself on the back, but I did say I thought Arroyo being traded by the Red Sox would light a little bit of a fire under him. He's now 4-0, and has pitched brilliantly.
The Brewers swept the Braves. The Mets have been struggling a bit lately (1-2 vs. Atlanta, 2-2 vs. the Padres), but it's nothing compared to what the Braves have been doing. They're now 9-12. The Mets need to twist the knife a little bit this weekend in Atlanta - a place where they haven't had much success in recent years.
Finally, the Cardinals swept the Pirates, but Jose Hernandez hit a homer off Jason Isringhausen in the top of the ninth inning to tie the game. (The Cardinals won in the bottom half.) I'm telling you - the Cardinals bullpen is flawed this year. That will eventually cost them.
FROM THE AL: This stuff about Kevin Mench is great. I've always liked Mench - I always used to pick him up as a spare outfielder whenever I used to play fantasy baseball with current baseball players. He got off to a very slow start this season - 0 HR, 0 RBI in his first 10 games, I think. Turns out, he was wearing uncomfortable shoes - they were too small for his feet. So he misses five games, switches shoes, and has been on fire. He hit a grand slam Wednesday, and has homered in six consecutive games. What a riot.
THE KID'S KIDS: St. Lucie Mets manager and Hall of Famer Gary Carter has his work cut out for him. The Mets' 2005 first round pick, pitcher Mike Pelfrey, who has been pitching very well (winning Monday night) has been promoted to Double A. Managing in the minors has to be very tough with all of that roster upheaval due to promotions, demotions, etc.
On Wednesday, Carter's Mets scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth (awesome managing!) to beat Jupiter, 5-3. The win makes the Mets 13-6, and vaults them into first place.
Other Kid's Kids (and Dmitri Young's brother): Delmon Young, Devil Rays prospect and current Durham Bull, threw a bat at a home plate umpire after being called out. I'm not sure how the bat was thrown, or how the umpire is doing. This was a replacement ump - the minor league umpires are on strike - as a matter of fact, another replacement ump was involved in an incident with the Norfolk Tides, the Mets' Triple A affiliate, when Victor Diaz collided with him at first base. The collision forced Diaz to miss four games.
SNY PROGRAMMING: For the first time, during Wednesday's Mets game, I saw an SNY programming commercial showing that the Mets would be showing lots of Classic Mets games from 1986 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of that team. They should show classic games non-stop - instead of that drivel they call "Daily News Live". I'm psyched, needless to say.
PIC OF THE DAY: I need to write some stadium reviews from the West Coast - Thursday is a Mets' off-day, so that looks like a good time to write them, but for now, enjoy this pic from our trip:
I do believe the Padres have the least intimidating mascot in the Majors. Although, Padres fans could probably make a good counter-argument......
BEAT THE STREAK: I picked David Wright because he owned Jason Schmidt, but the Giants went with Matt Morris instead. Wright finally doubled in the 8th, to keep my streak alive - now a 5-gamer. I'm going with the history again on Thursday - Mike Lowell, a career 6-for-13 hitter against Paul Byrd.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
The Giants beat the Mets 6-2 in the first game of their 3-game series in San Francisco Monday night.
As you know, the wife and I saw the A's in Oakland, but we did swing by AT&T Park (formerly SBC and PacBell Park) in San Francisco. It looks very nice:
So we'll be going back to San Fran to check out that park...probably three more name changes later. And they'll probably be playing the:
Big picture there from outside the right field gate - guess the grounds crew was getting ready for the Giants' next opponent - our New York Mets.
BELTRAN*: Carlos Beltran* has a strained hamstring. He's not going to play during the Giants series. This is why the asterisk has yet to be removed from his name.
HERNANDEZ: The latest on the Keith Hernandez flap/debacle. Suzyn Waldman, who is a Yankees broadcaster (the only woman play-by-play person in the majors, actually), has been a New York sports radio personality for years. She's a woman. Anyway, she says she expects as much from Hernandez, because he was apparently always surly to her in the clubhouse. I believe it. Here's a guy who's been around guys since before high school, at a time when women weren't around sports like they are now. He's from a different time. I'm not defending him, because he's gotta keep his dumb opinions to himself. I enjoy Hernandez's outspoken baseball opinions - but he should keep those opinions limited to baseball.
As I'm writing this, I'm remembering a game at Shea last year where the cameras caught an overweight guy eating ice cream in the stands. Hernandez made an inappropriate comment then. He needs to filter things a little more - and I expect he'll be more careful commenting on non-baseball issues from now on.
WHAT IF......?: There's a new addiction brewing inside of me. It'll take off in just a few days. Whatifsports.com. You may have heard of it - it's a site where you can compile fantasy teams using any player from any year in the history of baseball. A friend of mine knows a guy who's starting a "What If" league, in which 24 people will join, each being a separate team. These 24 people will be divided into six divisions, and there will be 6 division champions, 2 wild cards, and a full playoff and World Series following a 162-game regular season. I think it'll start Wednesday, and I hear 3 games are played a day, so I'll be checking this site constantly. It could be dangerous.
Of course, if I'm going to venture into something like this, I'm not going without the Mets. So here's the squad (with the help of my article last year of the "greatest offensive seasons by Mets"):
2005 Jose Reyes - SS (hopefully he'll get on base enough)
1988 Wally Backman - 2B (good number 2 hitter)
1985 Gary Carter - C (expensive but non-negotiable that he be on the team)
1999 Mike Piazza - DH (same)
1999 Robin Venture - 3B (Last year's David Wright was too expensive)
1976 Dave Kingman - LF (Couldn't afford Strawberry, so I'll take Kingman's 37 HR's)
1975 Rusty Staub - RF (Solid outfield numbers)
1976 Ed Kranepool - 1B (I needed to save some money at first)
1985 Lenny Dykstra - CF (Speed at the top, speed at the bottom)
1995 Tim Bogar (He had a good year in a down year for the Mets)
1999 Shawon Dunston (Hopefully a good pinch-hitting option)
2001 Joe McEwing (Flexibility to play a lot of positions)
1999 Todd Pratt (Needed a good, cheap backup catcher)
1980 Mookie Wilson (Some late inning speed for the basepaths)
2004 David Wright (Couldn't leave him off the team! Not as good as '05, but still good)
1972 Tom Seaver (Had to compromise, take a cheaper season - his best year cost $13 Mil)
1984 Dwight Gooden (Not his best season either, but still better than most in history)
2005 Pedro Martinez* (His numbers were among the best in team history last year)
1988 David Cone (20-3 record - how could I not)
1970 Jerry Koosman (Had to have a lefty - but not Koosman's best season)
1969 Tug McGraw
1985 Jesse Orosco
1989 Randy Myers
1989 Roger McDowell (Not a bad foursome out of the 'pen)
1962 Vinegar Bend Mizell (He's awful, but I had to fill a roster spot cheap - he's programmed to only go in for mop-up duty when I'm losing)
So that's the squad I'll hopefully win it all with. You only get $100 million to work with, and I spent a lot of that on pitching. I hope pitching truly does win championships. My offense isn't too bad, though - I can use Hall of Famer Gary Carter along with Mike Piazza, since we can use DH in this league. Needless to say, I can't wait for the games to get underway. And you better believe I'll be giving updates.
THE KID'S KIDS: I haven't gotten a final from Tuesday night, but the St. Lucie Mets' win over the first place Manatees Monday has them at 11-6, 1.5 games back. They're in second place, a half-game ahead of Palm Beach.
BEAT THE STREAK: Alfonso Soriano got a hit, so I'm working on a 4-gamer. Gotta get this one to 10, at least. For Wednesday, it's David Wright, a career .600 hitter against Giants starter Jason Schmidt. (He's 3-for-5.)
The Mets are a 3:30 game tomorrow in San Francisco, before heading for a very important road series in Atlanta. And lucky me - tomorrow is a half-day of school. I'll have a full game posting Wednesday evening. Right now, it's time to go to bed and try to stay up for a Steve Trachsel start. That'll be quite a task.
Monday, April 24, 2006
TRIP PIC: I was going to end with this, but I'm afraid what I've spent most of my time writing about (venting about) is boring, and I didn't want you to miss it - in case it's worthy of a Pulitzer. So here's one of the pictures from the trip out West (a possible semi-regular feature, until I'm out of pictures):
I love this picture. This is from our trip to McAfee Coliseum, and the A's-Rangers game. It was Huston Street Bobblehead Doll Day. Unlike the Mets, who only give bobbleheads to kids, the A's give them to everyone. So I got a bobblehead. But that's beside the point. The A's took a 3-1 lead into the 9th, and Street comes in to nail it down. I'm telling the wife and the other two women we went to the game with how everyone always does very well on their Bobblehead Doll day. Well, Street proceeds to give up 4 runs, including a single and homer to the first two batters to tie it. I saw this kid waving the bobblehead, with Street in the background, and said, I should take a picture of that. I did. It was on the pitch that Street gave up the homer to Mark Teixeira. Glad I snapped it when I did - this was the last time the kid waved the bobblehead. I think if you click on the picture you'll get a large version of it - I love that the players are all following the ball as it heads over the fence. Walter Iooss, eat your heart out. Crap, I just realized I should have tried to sell this picture to SI.
I read in the Sunday paper that Street was the first player to blow a save on his bobblehead day, or something like that. I forget the actual stat.
And now these messages:
I need to throw the gloves down. I'm really disappointed in SportsNet New York (SNY)'s non-baseball coverage. (And to be honest, the jury's still out on the Mets games - I love Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez, but my sample size of seeing these games is very, very small.)
To the point, 'Daily News Live' is awful. (Maybe if SNY would have made me the official blogging partner, and had a show called "johnnymetslive", we could have avoided all this.) I've mentioned this show before - hosted by Gary Apple. He is brutal, and the show is bad. It's a roundtable featuring some guests, Apple, and three writers from the New York Daily News who have no business being on TV. (I have been anti-newspaper people on TV for a long time here in Boston, and now it's happening a lot in New York. It just doesn't work for me, outside of a select few who appear on ESPN. I just can't believe the egos on some of these newspaper writers.) Anyway, the main thing that has me fuming from Monday is an interview I saw on 'Daily News Live'.
The interview focused on Mets announcer Keith Hernandez, and a female trainer for the Padres. If you missed this story, here it is (I didn't see this happen live because I was flying back from California): Mike Piazza homered off Pedro Martinez*. The SNY cameras showed Piazza slapping hands in the dugout with teammates, and then a woman. Hernandez, on the air, said something to the effect of, "Whoa, what's she doing in the dugout? Players, personnel, and staff only! She doesn't belong there. I'm not going to say she belongs in the kitchen, but get her out of the dugout." Now, later in the broadcast, the Mets found out she was a trainer on the Giants staff, and Hernandez rescinded his comment a bit, making sure as long as she belonged there, it was OK for her to be there. On Sunday, on the air, Hernandez apologized to anyone he might have offended with his "inappropriate" comment.
So it's a big non-story, pretty much. Hernandez even called the trainer to apologize. So 'Daily News Live" does a big live interview with the trainer, with Gary Apple and the News writers asking her questions. What does she do for the team? She's a massage therapist. Does she belong in the dugout? Absolutely, she says. What exactly does her role with the team entail? She is a massage therapist, and a personal trainer...but not an athletic trainer. Not licensed as an athletic trainer.
OK. Dud interview. Then Bill Madden gets on, and he comes off like an absolute idiot. Let me paraphrase some of their exchange:
Bill Madden: So let me get this straight, you're a masseuse?
Trainer: I'm a massage therapist....
BM:(Cutting her off) yeah, a masseuse. So you give the guys massages?
Trainer: If that's what the player needs that day, that's what I'll do. But it depends on the situation - if I need to work a guy out...........(she continues, explaining her job)
BM: And you think it's perfectly OK for you to be in the dugout during a game?
BM: Now, do you usually wear that hideous camouflage uniform when you're in the dugout?
Trainer: (explains the Padres were wearing the camouflage uniform to pay tribute to the military on "Military Opening Night", then says if you think those uniforms are hideous, that's your opinion, but we were wearing them along with the team with good intentions).
From here on, the questions just got silly and irrelevant, and as the wife says, made Hernandez's comments look tame compared to what they were saying to her.
Hernandez was then interviewed by Apple, and he was clearly steamed that this had taken on new life. He said, look guys, I apologized for an inappropriate comment, the issue isn't that she was in the dugout, it was what I said. He was starting to call out the guys in the studio for trying to crucify the woman for being in the dugout. It was just awful, and I think I've wasted too much space trying to recount it here. I need the Mets to get off the West Coast.
Bottom line: it made the New York writers look like a bunch of ignorant jerks, with nothing better to write about. What a disgrace.
By the way, the Mets are already down 3-0 after an Alou first inning homer. Also by the way: despite his comments, the wife is still a fan of Keith Hernandez.
THE KID'S KIDS: After my lengthy time away from the site, the St. Lucie Mets are now 10-6. They're actually in third place in their division. I'm not sure if the record includes the Mets' 5-4 win on Monday night, though - over the first place Brevard County Manatees.
BEAT THE STREAK: Back to taking it seriously, after vacation. I'm on a modest 3-gamer, after a Jimmy Rollins hit tonight (actually, 2 hits, I think). I took Alfonso Soriano for Tuesday, against Dave Williams of the Reds (formerly with the Pirates). He is bad.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
GIANTS/ROCKIES: This Jose Mesa thing is ridiculous. Omar Vizquel wrote a book a few years back in which he called out Mesa for blowing the save for the Indians in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. Mesa's response is that he said if he faced Vizquel 10 more times on the field, he'd hit him 10 times. They last met in 2003, and Mesa hit him (shortly after the book came out, I think). Then they faced each other Saturday night, and Mesa hit him. Vizquel calmly took his base, but on Sunday Matt Morris of the Giants hit two of the first five Rockies he faced. Mesa needs to cool it. Or at least Vizquel should charge the mound and face Mesa so they can settle this. But then Vizquel would be dead. So that probably wouldn't be the best solution.
THOME: I can't believe the season Jim Thome is having in Chicago. I thought he was washed up. He scored a run in the team's first 17 games (among other things). That streak ended on Sunday, as the White Sox won their eighth in a row, but that's impressive. That's making things happen. Forget about my Mike Lowell pick for Comeback Player of the Year (which is also looking pretty good) - it's going to be Thome in a runaway if he keeps this up.
I have much to say about my West Coast trip, but it's going to be a rough week sleep-wise, so I'd better get a jump on the sleep and go to bed now. I'll try to post regularly this week as I recover from the longest game in PETCO Park history.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
The Mets are rolling right now, so it's not a stretch to throw in the ol' Happy Fan-O-Meter, indicating the Mets are on their way to the World Series. It should also be noted that the way the rest of the National League East is playing, the Mets will clinch the division by July. (By the way - I'm not going to apologize for the Mets having a seemingly easy division this year - it's been impenetrable in recent years - they deserve this break. Also, it remains to be seen if they can beat the Braves - we'll find out about that next week.)
I didn't TiVo the Thursday game - it was the last day of school before spring vacation, and I figured with the students going to music class at the end of the day, I'd have plenty of time to follow the score. By the time I logged on, the Mets were up 4-0, and had hit 3 homers. They cruised to the 13-4 win, and Victor Zambrano is now 1-0 on the year. If Carlos Beltran* is playing angry (at the New York fans), then he'd better stay angry for the next 6 years. Future Hall of Famer David Wright hit career homer number 44 (#3 on the season), and Cliff Floyd might finally be heating up, as he hit his first homer. By the way, those three homers all came in the first inning. Carlos Delgado also added a homer in the third inning.
The only negative out of this game was Jorge Julio, who came on in relief and gave up a homer in his one inning of work. Rick Peterson better get to work on him. Darren Oliver, who barely made this team, gave 2 innings of perfect relief after Zambrano left (Zambrano was the first Mets pitcher not to go 6 innings this year - but it was his first start in a long time).
The Mets swept the Nationals in Washington - and if the Nats weren't mad at the Mets before this series....they sure are now. The Mets return home and will face the Brewers this weekend. It's to the point with the Mets where I don't mind seeing them lose once in a while, because I don't see this team hitting a prolonged losing streak at any point in the year.
OTHER TEAMS: The Braves are struggling - losing two out of three at home to the Phillies. And Chipper Jones is on the DL. They'll make some sort of run this year - but things are looking bad for them. And earlier this week I mentioned the bullpen troubles the Cardinals have been having. Jason Isringhausen gave up another go-ahead home run again on Thursday - this one to Carlos Lee of the Brewers (the Mets' next opponent) in the 11th inning. They lost, 4-3. Lee had some game - in the bottom of the 10th, he saved the game by robbing Juan Encarnacion of a game-winning 2-run homer, and making a jumping catch on Jim Edmonds to end the 10th. He climbed the wall on the Encarnacion play - it was great.
CORRECTION: I watched a bit of the Angels-Rangers last night, and - of course - Vlad Guerrero got a hit. It was his 39th straight game against Texas with a hit - I had said 37 going into last night's game. Sorry. I shortchanged Guerrero. I used to dislike Guerrero when he was in the same division as the Mets - I love watching him play now, though.
THE KID'S KIDS: The St. Lucie Mets beat the Jupiter Hammerheads, 3-1 on Thursday night. They're now 6-2, a game back of Brevard County. Good for Hall of Famer Gary Carter - a strong start to his season.
BEAT THE STREAK: I have a modest 2-gamer going right now, and I've picked players all the way through my return from vacation a week from Sunday. Hopefully when I come back I'll be on a 12-game hitting streak.
VACATION: I'm very psyched that in 19 hours I'll be on a plane to California. First stop, San Francisco - I'll be at the A's-Rangers game on Sunday. Then it's L.A. - Dodgers-Cubs on Wednesday. We finish our week in San Diego, and we'll be at the Mets-Padres game on Friday night. If we pass an internet cafe or something, I'll try to do a post. Otherwise, I'll be back a week from Sunday - maybe the Mets will be up to 13-1 by then.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Thankfully, no one got hurt. I was very worried about that. The Mets and the Nationals played a very close, very competitive, very good ballgame on Wednesday, with nary a threatening pitch thrown by either side. Tony Armas went up and in against Pedro Martinez* in Pedro's first at-bat, but neither one was what you would consider a brushback pitch.
Pedro* looked great. If he just needed that one regular season start as a tune-up, it worked. He's now 2-0, and if he pitches like he did Wednesday night, he's on the fast track to the Cy Young Award. He threw just 28 pitches through 4 innings. And he was hitting his spots. He looked like his old self.
The Mets' bats did just enough - Carlos Delgado had an RBI double, Carlos Beltran* had an RBI sac fly, and Cliff Floyd scorched an infield hit that scored a run. Beltran* was 2-for-3. His batting average is up to .292. Anderson Hernandez had another hit - this one on a well-placed bunt down the third base line. And the bullpen turned in another good outing - Pedro* went 7, then Aaron Heilman pitched the 8th, allowing Billy Wagner to get his second save of the season.
The Mets kind of own the Nationals lately. They play very well against them. The Mets go for the sweep on Thursday afternoon.
IMPRESSIVE STREAKS: One came to an end Wednesday night, the other could still continue. Future Hall of Famer David Wright went without an RBI in Washington, so he only went the first six games of the season with at least one RBI. That was a Mets record. And I touched on this last year - but this streak gets more and more impressive every time the Angels play the Rangers. Vladimir Guerrero has a hit in every game he's played against Texas - 37 straight. They're playing Wednesday night after I write this - but the Rangers won't hold him to 0 hits. It's pretty much a guarantee.
THE KID'S KIDS: The St. Lucie Mets are now 5-2, either tied for first or a half-game back in their division, pending the result of the Brevard County game. The Mets lost 2-0 to the Cubs on Wednesday night, but Tuesday night the New York Mets' first-round draft pick of a year ago, Mike Pelfrey, got the win.
OTHER MINOR LEAGUE NEWS: Our boy Boof Bonser is now 1-1, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits in six innings at Pawtucket Tuesday night. Rochester lost, 2-0. I wish I realized he was going to pitch in Pawtucket - that might have been worth the trip for me.
BEAT THE STREAK: My new pick is Ichiro, just because. Tomorrow is the day I can start picking players through my vacation. I'll start taking this a little more seriously when I get back from California. Jose Reyes was my pick Wednesday night, and he had a hit.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
One week later, different ballpark, same teams, same result. Mets win over the Nationals. I just finished catching up on the game, watching it off TiVo in fast forward. Brian Bannister got the win he should have gotten last week - now he's 1-0. Bannister pitched 7 very good innings, striking out just one, but also giving up just one run. It came on an Alfonso Soriano homer in the 7th. Soriano blasted a ball just foul down the left field line, then on the next pitch crushed the solo homer. So Bannister did look tired at the end of his start, just like last time, but he also reached back for that something extra against his last batter and struck him out...just like he did the last time. Bannister might have a nice year - that'll be something fun to watch.
Offensively, things are looking good for the Mets. Future Hall of Famer David Wright (of course) got things going with an RBI double in the 4th, then Cliff Floyd made it 2-0 with a sac fly (he has yet to get hot - but look at what the Mets are doing without him. I'd rather see Floyd finish the year with solid numbers after a slow start, like he will hopefully do this year, than have him start off as hot as he did last year and slowly sliiiiiide down).
The Mets got 2 more in the fifth on an RBI single by THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED, Jose Reyes, and then an RBI double by Paul LoDuca. Reyes' hit scored Anderson Hernandez, who slapped at the ball and hit it over the pitcher's head for an infield single. If he can manufacture hits like that, everything will be fine at second base. After Brian Bannister doubled in the 7th, Jose Reyes tripled, making it 5-0. It's more exciting to see Reyes hit a triple than to watch home run hitters come to the plate. Reyes hit a ball into the left-centerfield gap, and legged out the triple. He is so fun to watch.
Carlos Beltran* capped the scoring with a 2-run bomb to right field - I haven't seen a measurement, but it hit the facing of the upper deck, which says 468 on it. So it was at least 470 feet. Could our boy Carlos* finally be coming around?
No one was hit in this game...Wednesday night could be a different story, when Pedro Martinez* takes the mound against his new rivals.
RANTS FROM A MAD PREGNANT WOMAN: Just recently I was discussing with the wife how much time I might be able to take off from work when the baby arrives. It looks like it might be two weeks. Since the baby is due September 30th, I mentioned the possibility that my two weeks off could come around the time of the World Series, in which I fully expect the Mets to be participating. I may have mentioned something about taking the time to go to New York for the World Series. She said no. Actually, it was, NO!!!! Something about having to take care of the baby. I think it's the hormones. She'll see things differently once the baby's out. I'll try again then.
GONE-SON ARROYO: Rhymes with Bronson. I can't believe that Arroyo has homered in his two starts with the Reds. I think he's really playing mad that he was traded. That could have been the best thing that ever happened to him.
THE KID'S KIDS: Unfortunately, at posting time, the finals of the night games for the St. Lucie Mets aren't available, so I'm going to have to do these on one-day delays. Two days in this case, because Monday night's game was suspended due to a power outage, in the ninth inning. So that game was going to be completed before Tuesday night's regularly scheduled game. I'll update all that on Wednesday. St. Lucie is a game back of Brevard County right now, at 4-1 on the season.
BEAT THE STREAK: Stupid A-rod. The streak came to a screeching halt when the Yankees came back with 5 runs in the bottom of the 8th, to beat the Royals, 9-7. A-Rod was left on deck, at 0-for-2, in the 8th when the Yankees made the last out, and he never got up again. A new streak has to start now - I might just pick random guys all next week while I'm away, and pick up with Beat the Streak when we get back.
Monday, April 10, 2006
I know it's early, but the Mets' bullpen has looked good. And the Braves' bullpen has not. And after seeing the Cardinals get swept by the Cubs, including Jason Isringhausen giving up a grand slam to lose the last game of that series, I'm thinking the Cardinals don't have the greatest bullpen around either. Here's another hint as to how good the Cardinals' bullpen is: they have Braden Looper. Isringhausen made the ninth inning very interesting on Monday too - letting the Brewers get the go-ahead run to the plate in the ninth. I don't think he has it this year - and I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up on the DL at some point. Then make way for Looper. So with the additions the Mets have made, I think that's going to be a strength, while it may be a weakness for the other National League powers. Just something to watch for.
NEW STADIUMS: The Cardinals opened up their beautiful new ballpark. From the outside, the stadium looks great - like one of the new ballparks we see all around the majors. On the inside, it looks like the old Busch Stadium, post-artificial turf. It really looks plain. Nothing distinguishes it. Which I guess is probably what Cardinals ownership wanted - a traditional look.
I hope (and I know that they will) the Mets make their stadium stand out when it is built. Here's a look at what the stadium will look like:
I just can't believe this is actually going to happen for the Mets. I won't have to travel all around the U.S. to check out neat ballparks (although I will) - I just have to go to NYC. Of course, I'll probably have trouble getting tickets, because by then people will be jumping all over the Mets bandwagon.
ROTATION: Brian Bannister pitches for the Mets Tuesday afternoon in Washington, keeping his rotation spot. Pedro Martinez* pitches Wednesday, and then it's Victor Zambrano on Thursday. Zambrano has had plenty of time now to rest his balky hamstring, after the rainout Saturday pushed his Sunday start way back.
PEDRO* AND THE ROTATION: I had a thought this weekend. Remember when Pedro* could have, possibly, made the Opening Day start for the Mets? And then he could have started game 2, but then all of a sudden, he's starting game 3? Now, remember there was a bit of a stir over the fact that Pedro* really didn't want to pitch in Boston when the Mets went to Fenway? Well, if my math is correct (and I need to check this again), if Pedro* started Game 2 of the season, he would be on schedule to pitch in Boston. If he started Opening Day, he would definitely be pitching in Boston. But he started game 3, and that puts him on target (again, I think), to miss the Boston series. Interesting, no?
Now, I'm not accusing Pedro* of faking his injury to miss the WBC, and now to avoid becoming a fan target in Boston. I'm not. It's the last thing I'd want to do, especially after Pedro* yelled at Mike Lupica in the Mets' clubhouse after the rainout on Saturday about an article he misinterpreted as Lupica saying he was faking his injury. I don't want that. I'm just pointing out the interesting fact that Pedro* might be missing his start in Boston. That's all.
THE KID'S KIDS: The St. Lucie Mets lost their first game on Sunday to Vero Beach. They're now 3-1 on the young season. Monday night they started a three-game series against the Daytona Cubs. I'm not sticking around for a final score - I'll update that on Tuesday night.
BEAT THE STREAK: Thank you very much Brian Roberts. I am on a 7-game streak right now. I took Alex Rodriguez against the Royals at Yankee Stadium for Tuesday. The bad news is next week we are away, and I always do poorly at Beat the Streak when I have to pick far in advance, a la a vacation. The good news is, I'm going to California in just three more days!
Mets-Nationals brawl-fest begins Tuesday night - Bannister's second major league start.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
Future Hall of Famer David Wright had all 3 RBI for the Mets on Sunday as the Mets came back from being down 2-0 to beat the Marlins. A lot of positives in this game - not the least of which is that it was a sell-out crowd on Autism Awareness Day at Shea, and the crowd was into the game from the beginning - a sign winning baseball is back at Shea.
First of all, I was lucky, because due to the rainout on Saturday, I saw Tom Glavine versus Dontrelle Willis instead of Victor Zambrano and Sergio Mitre. Definitely an upgrade. Willis kept the Mets' bats quiet until the seventh. (The Marlins had gotten two off Glavine in the sixth). In the seventh, Paul LoDuca singled, then Carlos Beltran* (who wasn't booed...much) rolled one under the shortstop's glove for a single. They were on 2nd and 3rd for David Wright who went the opposite way, and the ball bounced past the right fielder for a 2-run triple. Wright was stranded on third, but the Mets...and the crowd...were excited.
Duaner Sanchez kept the game tied - he has been pitching great. Billy Wagner pitched a scoreless ninth, then Beltran* led off the ninth with a walk, and went to third on a Carlos Delgado single. Wright then lifted a fly ball to right, scoring Beltran* with the winning run. This is why Beltran* needs to be on base - things always happen when he is hitting/producing. He had a good weekend.
Glavine pitched well - it's too bad he couldn't get the win. Anderson Hernandez went 2-for-3 too - Kaz Matsui is due to come off the DL soon, and all the talk on New York sports radio is whether Hernandez's glove is enough to keep him in the lineup.
The Marlins aren't going to be an easy win this year - they're a good little team. It's important that the Mets established themselves against Florida with their showing in the shortened 2-game series.
The Mets are 2 games up in the East - Atlanta has had a rough start to its season. The Mets have Monday off before playing in Washington Tuesday afternoon.
BEAT THE STREAK: I'm up to a 6-gamer, with Carlos Beltran*'s little hit on Sunday. Brain Roberts is the pick for Monday, against the Devil Rays.
The Kid's Kids will return on Monday, because it's late and I need to go to bed.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
A night of milestones Friday night as the Mets beat the Marlins, 9-3. It was the 7,000th game in Mets history. And Steve Trachsel hit a double which was the 10,000th in team history. Just wanted to let you all know that. Also, a homer for David Wright. That would be number 43 on the career.
I couldn't watch the game - I had to go out with the wife. Here was the most disappointing thing - the Red Sox were on, but NESN never showed out-of-town scores after the 7th or 8th inning, (whenever we were watching) - and those innings were definitely more than a half-hour long - you would think they would show them every half-hour or something. Then, to make things worse, in their post-game show, they don't have any scores crawling on the screen. Get with it guys. So I didn't find out until on the way home how the Mets did. Pretty torturous.
BEAT THE STREAK: Planning ahead, and knowing I would be stuck having to watch a Red Sox game, I made CoCo Crisp my beat the streak player, and was rewarded. I have a 4-gamer going right now. It's Jason Bay on Saturday, at the Great American Ballpark. He'd better hit five homers. Or just one. All I need is one.
APRIL 8: I've been telling people today is Hall of Famer Gary Carter's 50th birthday. Oops. It's actually his 52nd. I do know for a fact that it is Dave in Brighton's 28th. Happy Birthday to you both.
And with that birthday note, the return of:
THE KID'S KIDS: Hall of Famer Carter's managerial career continues with the St. Lucie Mets this year, after guiding the Gulf Coast Mets to a 37-16 record last year, losing in the championship. St. Lucie is Class-A advanced, and the Mets are off to a 2-0 start under Carter's guidance. They won their opener, 1-0, then Friday night blew an 8-0 lead in the 8th, but won in the bottom of the ninth on a wild pitch. I'm sure their manager put them in a position to win! Alay Soler, the Cuban defector, pitched five scoreless innings for the Mets.
BOOF!: Boof Bonser made his first start for the Rochester Red Wings, the Twins' AAA affiliate, and pitched six scoreless innings, giving up just two hits, and striking out 8! The Twins could probably use him at the Major League level, if things keep going the way they've been going for their starters. Bonser is 1-0. We'll keep a close watch on him, simply because of his name.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
The Mets' offense really came alive in this one. Like in the previous two games, the Mets manufactured their first run - after a Jose Reyes single, a Paul LoDuca hit-and-run single, and a Carlos Beltran* fielder's choice RBI, David Wright had a (another) two-strike single to the opposite field for an RBI. The Mets led 2-0 after one. Pedro* himself broke a 2-2 tie in the 4th with a bases-loaded single, starting a 3-run rally. Reyes followed with a 2-run single. Pedro* allowed the Nationals to tie it, then Carlos Delgado blasted a homer to make it 6-5, and in the 7th, Carlos Beltran* hit a 2-run homer to make it 8-5.
Pedro* went six innings and Duaner Sanchez and Chad Bradford pitched well in relief to shut down the Nats. It was an emotional win for the Mets, and could be just the kind of kick they needed to string together a few wins in a row.
Beltran* made me mad, though. He finally got his first hit of the season, after an 0-for-9 start - the homer, batting right-handed. (Don't forget - he only homers in games Pedro* pitches.) So the crowd, which had been booing him each time he made an out (deservedly so - he's getting paid a LOT of money, and he's swinging at 55-foot curveballs - he looked awful the past few days), cheered Beltran* like crazy, and kept cheering, wanting a curtain call. Beltran* stayed in the dugout. Intentionally. The cameras kept showing Beltran* shaking his head at teammates who were trying to get him out of his dugout. Finally, after a few uncomfortable minutes, Beltran* went out after Julio Franco convinced him he didn't want to piss the fans off further. It's going to be a long contract for Beltran* if he doesn't toughen up a bit and start playing good baseball. The fans will cheer, Carlos, if you start earning your money.
This was my first game on SNY - and Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez are the best in the business right now. I don't know who could compare - and I watch pretty much every telecast (a list of the best duos will be coming sometime this summer). Hernandez made a great point, saying that Franco is just what the Mets had been missing - a veteran leader who is there to set the younger guys straight. (They're all younger - he's 47.) Franco was also responsible for helping cool down Guillen after he nearly charged the mound.
Speaking of broadcasts...This game was also on ESPN with Chris Berman and Joe Morgan. I watched that for all of about 7 seconds. And I had the Washington telecast, which I didn't even switch on. Credit ESPN, though, for being the first to have the reason for a long delay in the 7th inning - the umpire caught a foul ball off the throat, and SNY wasn't on with that replay until after ESPN had showed it a couple of times.
NEW STADIUM: The Mets unveiled their plans for their new stadium, due to open in 2009. Pretty exciting that the Mets could have one of these facilities soon. It looks great - I'll put up some pictures over the weekend. It has a vestibule area like Ebbets Field used to, and COO Jeff Wilpon said it will have a right field overhang a la Tiger Stadium.
MAIL CALL: Thanks to Justin in New York for the first e-mail of the young season. He has his own "Where Were You" story for Brian Bannister's Major League debut.
"your not alone in jinxing young mister bannister. after he completed the fifth, i decided to send my reporter to shea. needless to say, vidro doubled before 1010 wins newsman al jones got into his car."
BEAT THE STREAK: THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED, Jose Reyes, singled twice and tripled, giving me a 3-gamer. I picked through the weekend, since I'll be away Saturday: Friday night is CoCo Crisp, then Jason Bay Saturday in Cincy, and Carlos Beltran* when I'm at Shea Sunday (an all-but guaranteed streak-ender).
I've gotta go to bed...the Marlins are in New York over the weekend. Dontrelle Willis versus Tom Glavine will happen on Saturday - Steve Trachsel makes his season debut on Friday...and I will be there for Victor Zambrano on Sunday. Enjoy the weekend.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
OK, it's my fault. I take the blame. I'm the one who called my parents in the sixth inning to let them know they should watch the Mets, because Brian Bannister had gone five no-hit innings. Then I told my sister, and no sooner did she say, "Isn't that supposed to jinx it?", did Bannister give up a double...then hit a batter....then give up a 3-run homer to Nick Johnson. The Mets still led, 4-3, but I told my sister, "Yes, it jinxes it." Sorry Brian.
I also messed things up for Billy Wagner. I'm sitting there, thinking, as the Mets head into the top of the ninth with their 4-3 lead, "So this is what if feels like to have 100% confidence in the bullpen." Wagner promptly went 3-0 on Ryan Zimmerman, then got back to 3-2, then left a fastball up that Zimmerman turned on and hit over the wall to tie it at 4.
It got worse. In the tenth, Jorge Julio gave up 5 runs, and the Nationals went on to a 9-5 win.
Now, eternal optimist that I am, there were lots of positives in this game. (I'm not nearly as upset by this loss as I probably should be.) I'll start at the beginning - Brian Bannister pitched very well. (He was wearing number 40 - I'm surprised the Mets gave up Braden Looper's number so soon.) He got himself in a jam in the 2nd inning, with men on 2nd and 3rd, and managed to pitch out of it with a strikeout and a flyout. He was clearly gassed in the sixth, and still faced a few batters, striking out his final batter, after giving up the 3-run homer to Nick Johnson.
The Mets' bats were working early - they blew a 4-0 lead. David Wright had an RBI single in the first (after Carloses Beltran* and Delgado struck out with runners on 1st and 2nd), Xavier Nady homered to make it 2-0 (he is tattooing the ball early on), and Delgado rebounded later with a 2-run bomb of a homer to make it 4-0.
Anderson Hernandez looks great at second base. He saved Aaron Heilman (who actually pitched well in his second game - as did Duaner Sanchez, getting the 4-3 lead to Wagner) by fully extending and diving into right field for a ball hit over his head. He stayed down for a while, but it looked like he only knocked the wind out of himself. He also made a great play running into right field's foul territory, catching a ball over his shoulder, and then calling off Carlos Delgado on a similar play in foul territory behind first. A great defensive game from Hernandez.
Believe it or not, I thought Jorge Julio actually pitched well too. He hung a curve to Jose Guillen that Guillen just put over the left-field wall (Cliff Floyd actually mis-timed his jump, or else it would have been a long out), but his stuff looked good. After the Guillen homer, he struck out Nick Johnson, but the ball got away from LoDuca, and Johnson reached. Then a nubber in front of the mound was thrown away by LoDuca, and it snowballed. But I expected a lot worse from Julio, and I was encouraged by the way he played.
The Mets had mounted a 2-out rally in the bottom of the ninth, after Wagner's blown save, by the way, and LoDuca flew out to right with the bases loaded, following a pinch hit single by Julio Franco (47 years old!) and a walk (!) by THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED, Jose Reyes. The Mets just couldn't get their bats going after the fourth inning.
NO SNY: I couldn't watch the game on SNY because as soon as the game started, DirecTV blacked out the SNY feed, and I had to watch the Nationals feed. That's OK - SNY needs to work out all their bugs. I was watching the pre-game, and some dude tossed to sound, and the sound never rolled. It's uncomfortable to watch. Speaking of uncomfortable to watch, one of SNY's big shows is "Daily News Live", hosted by Gary Apple. Not good. Rob Schneider was a guest on the show, promoting his new movie (very knowledgable in sports, by the way), and he should have hosted. At one point, Apple says, "Coming up after the break, we'll switch gears and talk football with......with.......with, uh......" And Rob Schneider says, "With WHO?!?!?" It was great. Turns out, Apple forgot he was having the Chicago Bears' Thomas Jones on the show. So SNY's programming has a long way to go, in this humble opinion. They should have made me their official blogger...I wouldn't be nearly as hard on them. I really do want to see Gary Cohen do a game on TV, though.
COMMERCIAL WATCH: Heineken is out with a few good new ads for baseball season, the best of which features a couple of brothers visiting their parents, and the less responsible brother wins points by bringing Heineken. It's much better when you see it - not read about it in my nutshell recap. Also, from the "Didn't Expect That" category, Suzy Kolber is the new spokeswoman for Chevy. Seriously.
BEAT THE STREAK: I picked Miguel Tejada, he had a hit in the Orioles win over Tampa Bay, so I have a 2-gamer going (Wells had a hit yesterday). Tomorrow, it's Jose Reyes.
The Mets' 3 hour-37 minute, extra-inning loss has me up way past my bedtime. Big game for Pedro* in his season debut now on Thursday night. You can see that game on ESPN - unfortunately, I'll have to watch the Nationals feed, because I think it's Chris Berman.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Tuesday is an off-day for the Mets, so I will do what I've forgotten to do the past couple of days...post my picks for end-of-season awards. I made these picks Monday morning (which will be obvious when you see some of them, pre-D.L., and pre-getting-smoked), just so no one thinks there's anything untoward going on. Besides - I am awful at this. Not sure why I even bother.
NL Cy Young Award: I'm going with Tim Hudson, although I think Derek Lowe will get a few votes here (I expect a big season from him in L.A.).
AL Cy Young Award: Barry Zito. (Like I said, before their games on Monday...and he can't do any worse.)
NL MVP: Pretty generic, but I think it'll be Albert Pujols. I can't think of anyone else who will be that valuable to their team - I pick the Mets to do really well, but I don't think they're going to have that MVP-type standout guy. Everyone will contribute.
AL MVP: I think David Ortiz gets his due this year. He keeps getting better.
NL Manager of the Year: Willie Randolph will get recognized for unseating the Braves, edging out Grady Little.
AL Manager of the Year: Might be Eric Wedge, because Guillen won it last year.
NL Comeback Player of the Year: Nomar Garciaparra (if he ever gets off the DL).
AL Comeback Player of the Year: Mike Lowell. I'm not sure if they even break up the Comeback Player award into AL and NL anymore, but if they do, these are my picks. If it's a Major League Comeback Player of the Year award, I'll go with Lowell, since he's a crossover between leagues anyway.
NL Rookie of the Year: I'm not too familiar with the rookies this year, so I'm going to go with what I know, and say Brian Bannister, if he sticks around all year in the rotation and picks up 10+ wins.
AL Rookie of the Year: Whichever pitcher has a bigger impact on the Red Sox' staff - Jonathan Papelbon, or Craig Hansen.
Those are my picks for whatever they are worth. Wednesday night I'll try to do a post-game posting. We'll see how late these games end.
Monday, April 03, 2006
Mets 3, Nationals 2 (NYM: 1-0, WAS: 0-1)
I can't believe the season has started, and that all the games I've watched today actually count. I'm so excited. And for the Mets to win, that makes things even better.
Since it's Opening Day, and hope springs eternal, let's start with the positives:
- Tom Glavine: Glavine pitched very well. In 6 innings of work, Glavine gave up 6 hits, walked 3 (!), gave up just one run, and struck out 5. A very good afternoon. He picked up the win (number 276 in his career) by the skin of his teeth (more on that later).
- Xavier Nady: Nady was 4-for-4, with 2 singles and 2 doubles, including the RBI double that put the Mets ahead 2-1, scoring Cliff Floyd all the way from first base in the fourth.
- David Wright: Future Hall of Famer Wright was 2-for-4, with an opposite field home run (career homer number 42) that proved to be the game-winner. He also made a couple of good plays in the field.
- Anderson Hernandez: He looked very good in the field (he made one bad play where he seemed to freeze, and made a bad decision, which didn't end up hurting the team), and looked very comfortable as the starting second baseman.
- Billy Wagner: A 1-2-3 ninth, aided by a nice play at third by Wright on a hard-hit grounder, and a bad baserunning move by Jose Vidro.
There were some negatives, though:
- Carlos Beltran*: Beltran* was 0-for-4, and on the receiving end of some boos after he popped to short with runners on second and third in the fifth. He didn't look comfortable at the plate. He also made two way off-line throws from the outfield...and made a great throw to end the game. He'd better get his act together at bat soon, or things might get ugly.
- Aaron Heilman: Heilman was very shaky, giving up three straight hits upon entering the game, and twice nearly blowing the lead. As a matter of fact, outside of a bad call by the home plate umpire, Heilman would have blown the lead. He needs to find his rhythm. Hopefully this was the only bad outing he'll have for a while.
Let's talk about the outfield assists: In the eighth, with no one out and Alfonso Soriano on first, Heilman gave up a double into the left field corner to Ryan Zimmerman. Soriano came around to score, but Paul LoDuca got the out call. Replays showed LoDuca dropped the ball, but the umpire didn't see it. It's possible LoDuca had control of the ball when he tagged Soriano. But the big thing is that Soriano appeared to touch the plate by sticking his hand through LoDuca's legs before he was tagged. No one has mentioned that - perhaps I'm wrong. But regardless, Soriano looked safe.
Then in the ninth, with the Mets clinging to a 3-2 lead, 2 out, Jose Vidro singled into left-center field. He tried to stretch that into a double, but Carlos Beltran* nailed Vidro at second. Call it bad baserunning by Vidro, but I saw Beltran* make two very bad throws earlier in the game, and I think I understand Vidro trying to get that extra base.
A good win, though, for the Mets, and for Tom Glavine. Hence the Mets Fan-O-Meter is pointing in the direction of the 2006 World Series. I'm not sure the Fan-O-Meter will be an everyday occurrence...I'll try to figure out a regular schedule for it.
BROADCAST OPINIONS: I had an idea it may happen, because it was an East Coast game, but I was really hoping it wouldn't happen....but it did. Chris Berman doing the Mets game, along with Duke Castiglione on the field. Ugh. Berman drives me nuts. I really feel for Jeff Brantley - he must just want to take a header out of the booth doing games with Berman. And how often does Berman run out of breath while calling a game? That might be his first hint that he says too much.
I TiVo'ed the ESPN broadcast (much more successfully than last year, incidentally) because DirecTV still does not have a deal with SNY - hopefully that will happen soon. Like, before Wednesday night's game. But I heard/read that SNY had its own problems - losing its feed and its sound, I think. They need to get those things worked out. During spring training is one thing, but this is the real thing now.
One more note on SNY - I can't wait to be able to listen to Gary Cohen doing games, and for the first time in years have no reason to complain about the play-by-play guy.
MINOR MOVE: Just after it seemed the Mets were breaking camp with Pedro Feliciano in the pen, Feliciano was reassigned to Norfolk, and Darren Oliver (who otherwise would have retired) was activated. The Mets figure they're better off having Oliver in case they need to go without Victor Zambrano for an extended period (not likely), and they need Oliver to start. I'd take my chances with Feliciano. Also, Victor Diaz did make the team as a bat off the bench, and he is excited about his role.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: The Braves hung on to beat the Dodgers 11-10, after leading that game 8-1. Last year the biggest problem for Atlanta was its bullpen - it doesn't seem, after one game, that things are much better there....Mike Piazza homered to the opposite field in pitcher-friendly PETCO Park in his first San Diego at-bat. He showed he still has that (natural) power...The Marlins hung tough, losing to the Astros, 1-0. The bullpen pitched very well for Florida, and the only run scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch. Maybe they won't be such a cakewalk this year....Vladimir Guerrero looks awful. He still swings the bat really well, but he doesn't even run - he just hobbles.
(CEREMONIAL) FIRST PITCH: It was Orosco to (Hall of Famer) Carter, and Carter, like a dope, tried to ham it up a little bit. Orosco looked like the little kid embarrassed by his friend. Carter toned it down when he saw Orosco wasn't into re-enacting a World Championship celebration.
BEAT THE STREAK: I took Carlos Beltran*, and he did not get a hit. Neither did Grady Sizemore Sunday night. For tomorrow, I have Vernon Wells. No reason, just picked him. In the New Baseball Pool, I picked Houston to have a good week against Florida and Washington. So far, so good.