Monday, July 31, 2006
BEAT THE STREAK: While I'm updating, I might as well say that Brian Roberts homered in his first at-bat, bringing my hitting streak to 11, one short of the season record. Ichiro's my pick Tuesday.
If the Met have Hernandez and Linebrink, that's a good deal. I'd say it makes their bullpen a lot better, but then there's this Duaner Sanchez situation...which sets the Mets way back. The only thing that makes me hesitate is that if the Mets think they're getting last year's Roberto Hernandez, I don't think they are. There's the chance he wasn't as good in Pittsburgh because they aren't competing, and he'll be in good shape back in a pennant race. But I watched him pitch a little this year, and he didn't look as good. I admit I don't know much about Linebrink, but a lot of teams wanted him, so I guess it's good the Mets got him.
This Sanchez story makes my mouth hurt (although, that could be the oral sugery). Apparently he was in a cab in Miami, there was a car accident, he suffered a separated shoulder, and is out for the rest of the season. That's awful. He was THE number one surprise for the Mets this year, not knowing what the Mets were getting from LA for Jae Seo - and he's been nothing short of awesome. The Mets can only hope Linebrink and/or Hernandez come close to filling the hole he'll be leaving.
Also, I am shocked the Mets traded Nady. Really. I though for at least the next five years the Mets outfield would be Lastings Milledge in left, Carlos Beltran in center, and Nady in right. Either the Mets are liking what they're seeing from Victor Diaz, and want him there, or they have long-term plans for Endy Chavez (he's 28). I'm really surprised - I didn't think Nady was going anywhere. I had read recently he was a little miffed about Chavez getting so much playing time, but that he was going to get some at-bats coming up against a bunch of lefties. I wonder what else there is to this story.
MAGIC NUMBER: It's 45 now, thanks to the Marlins win over the Phillies on Monday afternoon.
Also Monday afternoon:
CHASE'S CHASE: The hit streak is at 32 games. That's exciting.
I'll definitely be OK to write Tuesday night. I need some rest though.
P.S. Oral surgery sucks.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
I do know this about "Jets Nation" on SNY, though - the show still sucks. It's just awful. Host Brian Custer is OK, but Greg Buttle is awful - he's just a blowhard. Ray Lucas is a less-loud version of a blowhard. Both guys talk in circles, so they don't really make a point, and it's just hard to follow what they're saying. So that's the first 10 minutes of the show - then, mercifully, they go away.
Then Adam Schein comes on. I didn't think I'd like Adam Schein. Once in a while, when I was working overnights, he'd be doing the overnight show on WFAN, and I'd catch his show, and I didn't think it was great, but it was far better than sports talk around here. But on this show on Saturday, Schein was awesome. Good opinions, backed up solidly, and he was a refreshing breath of fresh air coming after Buttle and Lucas. So Schein's presence on SNY shows some promise. But still no training camp info from the show.
So I have to resort, I guess, to the newspapers for my Jets info. Apparently, Chad Pennington, Patrick Ramsey, Brooks Bollinger, and draft pick Kellen Clemens are getting even amounts of time practicing with the first team. So everyone, at this point, is getting a fair shot at the number one quarterback job. Some are saying this is Eric Mangini's way of protecting Pennington's shoulder. I get the impression that this is Mangini's way of letting Pennington play himself out of a job. I don't get the impression Mangini likes Pennington - because he's not "his" guy. I think Mangini wants to groom Clemens for the job for next year, and wants Ramsey to win the job this year, as a transition guy. But I'm rooting hard for Pennington to prove everyone wrong.
Other news out of training camp is that Curtis Martin's situation seems to be pretty bleak. He's apparently really suffering from this injury and the rehabbing.
Justin McCareins is back practicing - he had failed a conditioning test, but passed it the next opportunity he got.
I think I heard that SNY is going to have a training camp Jets show during the week - they need to step up their coverage. There's lots going on at Jets camp, and lots of fans want to know about it...so it's SNY's responsibility to do a better job covering it. If they claim to be the station that covers the Jets year 'round, they'd better start showing it.
The Mets completed their first sweep in Atlanta in 21 years, but it wasn't pretty...and it wasn't as easy as it would have seemed to be after an inning-and-a-half.
I'm a little concerned about Tom Glavine - he hasn't won in a while now, and the Mets staked him to a 7-0 lead in the bottom of the second, which he went on to nearly give back. He didn't pitch past the fourth inning, and he just didn't look good at all the entire game. I'm starting to doubt if he's going to be effective come October. I know he's had his troubles pitching against Atlanta since becoming a Met, and I'm hoping that's what the problem was on Sunday. But it hasn't just been the Braves he's struggled against recently.
How did the Mets jump out to the 7-0 lead? Glad you asked. In the first inning, Carlos Delgado hit a 2-run homer, after I thought he wouldn't even play Sunday, because of a hit-by-pitch on Saturday. I guess he was OK. (Delgado was 4-for-5 with 3 RBI - maybe his slump is behind him.) Then Xavier Nady doubled home David Wright, to make it 3-0. In the top of the second, Carlos Beltran continued his assault on the Mets' record books (and baseball's) with another grand slam, giving the Mets the 7-0 lead. It was Beltran's 3rd grand slam this month, putting him in a tie for the major league record for grand slams in a month. It was also the sixth Mets grand slam this month - tying that Major League record. Beltran added another homer, a solo shot, in the fifth. He has 32 now on the year - most ever by a Mets center fielder. Beltran also has 94 RBI - way ahead in the team lead.
So Beltran was pretty much the story for the Mets in Atlanta - the Atlanta series is still a big deal to the Mets, and for Beltran to show up in these big games bodes well for October. What does not bode well for October is 6 ER in 4 IP, with 10 hits - Glavine's line. He needs a really good start his next time out.
Billy Wagner was again effective, pitching the Mets out of an 8th inning jam, then working an easy ninth to record his 22nd save. This game was a lot closer than it should have been - not Wagner's fault.
The Mets have Monday night off, before opening up a three-game series in Florida on Tuesday.
MONTHLY BREAKDOWN: With the day off Monday, the final tallies are in for July. I think I mentioned this, but my earlier estimate of 112 wins was way off. I guess I counted October as a full month of the season, and did 16 wins times 7 months. There are really only 6 months in the season, projecting the Mets to 96 wins, with 16 wins a month. The Mets met their quota in July, going 16-9.
Hopefully they'll get 17 wins in August, making up for that 15 in June.
MAGIC NUMBER: The Mets decreased the number by one with their win, so it's now at 46. Unfortunately, the Phillies swept their doubleheader with the Marlins, so they prevented the number from going any lower. The Mets play the Marlins next, while the Phillies take on the Cardinals - then it's Mets-Phillies at the end of the week. So maybe by Friday we can start seeing significant decreases in the magic number.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: 1) I have oral surgery to remove my wisdom teeth early Monday morning. So I might be out of commission for a couple of days (they really prepare you for the worst with this surgery - I hope it's only a couple of days, anyway). Luckily Monday's an off-day. Hopefully I'll be back for Tuesday.
2) If you're jonesing for some Mets stuff, and you didn't read over the weekend, I actually wrote a lot on Saturday and Sunday, which would be worth checking out. So enjoy. You could also check out johnnyjets.blogspot.com.
PROGRAMMING NOTE 2: Dave from Brighton brought up an interesting point this weekend that I thought was worth repeating. He watched Friday night's Mets-Braves game on TBS (and I'm assuming Sunday's), and he says even though the TBS guys are his least favorite broadcasters, he really enjoyed the telecast. He says he watched the game(s) with no volume. Dave's a smart guy, but this borders on brilliance, especially with TBS factoring into the national baseball picture more and more in the coming years. Their graphics are great (I really like their "Lead chart", where when a guy is taking his lead off first base, they show you the area he would stand in when he's most likely to steal - most of us could figure this out anyway, but it's a cool graphic.), and they have a very good ticker at the bottom of the screen. If you don't listen to the guys broadcasting, Dave's right, it's a very pleasant experience.
TRADE TALK: The Yankees won the Bobby Abreu sweepstakes (if you could call it that), trading three minor leaguers to the Phillies for Abreu and Cory Lidle. This basically puts the Yankees closer to the same position they were in in April - with a better starter, and now one outfielder short. It's a good deal for the Yankees, and for the Mets, it means the Phillies scare me even less.
INJURY UPDATE: Just thought it would be worth mentioning that after missing his last start on Friday against the Yankees, Scott Kazmir was placed on the disabled list by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Sunday. He has inflammation in his throwing shoulder. Also, Ty Wigginton was put on the Tampa Bay DL as well. But of the two ex-Mets, I'd say he's a little bit less noteworthy.
THE KID'S KIDS: I guess the Class-A advanced schedule-makers knew about Hall of Famer Gary Carter's Hall of Fame obligations today. There was no game for the St. Lucie Mets, so Carter probably managed Saturday night's game, then took off for Cooperstown, coming back Monday. That's my guess. Good for Carter, that he didn't have to miss a game.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Edgardo Alfonzo flied out in the 8th inning as a pinch-hitter, his only at-bat of Sunday's game. His batting average is now at .195.
CHASE'S CHASE: Utley extended his hitting streak to 30 games in Game 1 of the doubleheader, and then homered and had another hit in Game 2, making it a 31-game hitting streak.
BEAT THE STREAK: Tense moments. Dan Uggla went through Game 1 of the doubleheader without a hit, after I had seen Derek Jeter with a big hit in the Yankees games. Second-guessing all over the place. Then in Game 2, it took him three at-bats to get a hit. But he got a hit. So I'm at 10 games in a row. On Monday, I'm taking Brian Roberts. On Tuesday, in case I don't get a chance to log on Monday, I'm going with Ichiro again. Hopefully I'll be at 12 when next I write.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
It's almost humorous that the Braves thought they had a shot at climbing back into the race against the Mets this weekend. I know they had been one of the hotter teams in baseball recently, but the Mets came into Turner, and the Braves looked just like they did when the Mets were there early in the season - awful. They are done - I don't want to hear any more talk about the Braves making a run towards the post-season. Forget about it.
It's very similar, actually, to the Braves-Mets early-season meetings - I think Chipper Jones landed on the DL just after the Mets series early in the year - it looks like he's headed back after hurting himself swinging on Friday night versus the Mets. The Braves are a disaster this year - they can hide it all they want by getting hot for a few weeks, but they are a disaster. Their pitching is a mess, and Chipper Jones isn't as scary as he used to be.
On Saturday, the Mets dominated right out of the gate. Carlos Beltran had a 2-run homer in the 1st (it could have been a 3-run homer, but Jose Reyes was caught stealing). The Braves got one back in the bottom of the 1st, then the Mets added another in the 2nd, before the Braves tied it in the bottom half. None of the Braves runs were earned, as a couple of Mets' errors allowed them to come in. But the Mets then broke the game open.
In the sixth, the Mets scored seven runs, 2 coming on a single by El Duque, and another 3 coming on Beltran's second homer of the day. He now has 30 homers on the season, and we have to start talking about him as having one of the best offensive seasons by a Met - perhaps the greatest ever. Remember last year, at the break, we looked at how Cliff Floyd's numbers were measuring up. Floyd lost steam. If anything, at this point, Beltran is picking up steam. We might also have to talk about how David Wright is having a close second in the best offensive season ever category...but that will be an article down the line.
Paul LoDuca was 4-for-4, and Endy Chavez had a good game, with 3 RBI. Hernandez helped his cause to stay in the rotation, going 8 innings, no earned runs, giving up just the three hits, and striking out 7.
The Mets go for the sweep on Sunday with Tom Glavine going against Chuck James. It'd be nice for Glavine to finally get back into the win column, and for it to come against his old team would be even better.
BAD NEWS: The one bad thing to come of this game was Carlos Delgado leaving the game in the third inning after being hit by a pitch in his leg. Delgado had Friday night off against the lefty, and now leaves Saturday's game early. I bet he doesn't play Sunday, to recover, then the Mets have an off-day on Monday. At least he'll be well-rested.
MORE BAD NEWS (LESS BAD, REALLY): If the playoffs ended this weekend, I'd be in trouble with my new matchups in the World Series. Let's figure the Mets come out of the National League. The way things line up in the American League right now, we'd need some shakeup, because I don't like my odds. The only team that would make the playoffs that the Mets HAVEN'T played in a World Series would be Detroit...and I just don't like the odds that with Oakland, Boston, New York, and Detroit, that the Tigers would be the team to come out of the AL. Now, there's always the chance I'd get a new matchup, with, say Boston and San Diego...but then the Mets wouldn't make the World Series - and that would be just plain silly.
GOOD NEWS/MAGIC NUMBER: I'M GIVING INTO THE COMPUTER, WHICH WON'T LET ME POST MY GRAPHIC - THE # IS 47: The Phillies beat the Marlins on Saturday night, and combine that with the Mets' win over the Braves, you get a decrease in the magic number by 2! There's no way the number can decrease by two on Sunday - either the Phillies or Marlins will win, so one of them will stay at 54 losses. But the Mets can get it down to 46 with another win over the Braves.
CHASE'S CHASE: Listen, he's more than halfway to Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, so it's about time we made this a regular feature, with a title and everything. Thus, we have "Chase's Chase", chronicling Chase Utley's hitting streak. He did get another hit (a couple, actually) Saturday night, so it's a 29-gamer right now. Apparently, whenever the media asks Utley about the streak, he changes the subject, and starts talking about the weather, anything, really, but the streak. I can't tell if he's being a jerk about it, or just superstitious. I need to figure that out before I start rooting for him to keep hitting. (I have no qualms about rooting for individual success by a Phillie - because the Phillies don't scare me.)
BOOF: You know, I've really dropped the ball on this whole following Boof Bonser thing. I'm going to blame losing computer access for those couple of weeks in late June, early July. I think that's when Bonser was sent down to Triple-A, or at least stopped being used in the majors. Bonser wasn't as effective as I would have liked with the Twins after his call-up. His numbers:
In 7 starts, he went 2-2, with a 5.30 ERA. He struck out 27 in 35-and-two-thirds inning pitched, giving up 40 hits (9 homers) and 12 walks.
Back in Rochester, he's still involved in a pennant race, as Rochester is tied with Scranton atop their division. And he pitched on Saturday, getting another win, improving to 6-4, by going 7 innings, striking out 8, walking 1, giving up 4 hits, and 2 earned runs. His ERA is 2.84. Too good for Triple-A, not good enough for The Show.
THE KID'S KIDS: It's Hall of Fame weekend, so I'm not sure if Hall of Famer Gary Carter is managing, or if he's in Cooperstown for the induction of Bruce Sutter. Knowing Carter, and how proud he is of being a Hall of Famer, though, I'd say he's in Cooperstown (I bet he makes the trip as a Minor League manager, but when he's a Major League manager, he doesn't).
Anyway, St. Lucie still played on Saturday, and they lost, 2-1, so I'm assuming Carter was NOT there - if he was, they'd probably have won. The Single-A member of the Alfonzo family took the loss. As for that other Alfonzo...
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Just when things were starting to look really bleak, signs of life from Edgardo Alfonzo. He was 2-for-4 with a run scored in Norfolk's 6-4 win Saturday night. That raises his average all the way to .200.
BEAT THE STREAK: Albert Pujols got a hit against Greg Maddux, so now I face a tough decision for Sunday. I'm thinking about going against Bruce Chen of the Orioles....but I'm not sure I like any of the White Sox hitters. Not sure who to choose, with a 9-game streak on the line.
OK. I've made my decision. Considering the Yankees are playing the Devil Rays, and as I write this on Saturday, are getting whooped 18-5, I think they bounce back offensively Sunday against James Shields. So I take Derek Jeter, the team's leader, and .356 hitter, to get a hit.
Whoa. Hold the phone. Just found out the Marlins-Phillies are playing a doubleheader on Sunday. So I'm taking Dan Uggla - all I need is one hit in the two games from him to keep my streak going. I hate changing picks once I've decided - but this is a doubleheader - the closest thing to a gimme in Beat the Streak. (Also, a split in the doubleheader could mean the Mets pick up another game in the Magic Number category.)
Friday, July 28, 2006
If this keeps up, Turner Field is going to lose its image as a House of Horrors for the Mets. Then again, Horacio Ramirez is really a far cry from the likes of Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. The Mets pounded Ramirez, gave Pedro Martinez* some time to settle in, and went on to beat the Braves, 6-4, Friday night in Atlanta.
The game looked promising, then didn't, then did again. Here's why - the Mets jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Ramirez and the Braves, but then Atlanta responded against a spotty Pedro Martinez*, scoring 4 in the bottom of the first. It didn't look like it at the time - but that was all they would get. The Mets got two more in the top of the 2nd, and another in the 3rd to take a 5-4 lead. Then Pedro* settled in, combining with Pedro Feliciano and Duaner Sanchez to set down a stretch of 17 straight Braves (Martinez* retired 12 straight to end his outing). Pedro* improved to 8-4 with the win. He gave up those 4 earned runs in 6 innings, on five hits, while walking 2 and striking out 2. Billy Wagner pitched another perfect inning, striking out 2, to record his 21st save.
Pedro* just furthered my argument tonight that he has to be the all-time leader in percentage of innings pitched that are scoreless - because he gave up those 4 first-inning runs, then threw up 5 straight innings of 0's. He's been doing that all year - and most of his career.
David Wright helped the Mets get some pad in this game with career homer number 63 (22 on the year) , and also had his 25th double of the year, while continuing to own Horacio Ramirez (see BTS, below).
The Mets have now taken 3 out of 4 in Atlanta so far this year. Orlando Hernandez goes against Tim Hudson Saturday afternoon - I'll see if I can post something - I am not going to be able to see this game because the Red Sox are on Fox locally.
TBS COVERAGE: This quote from the opening of the TBS coverage of Friday night's Mets-Braves series: "The Mets find their stranglehold on the NL East slipping." First of all, I thought TBS was supposed to be less biased towards the Braves as it got away from being strictly a "Braves" station and moved towards being a national baseball station. Secondly, "stranglehold on the NL East slipping"? Let me know when the Braves are within shouting distance of first place, thanks very much. For crying out loud! I have a Magic Number countdown going already! Speaking of which:
MAGIC NUMBER: The Braves lost, of course, and the Mets won, but the Marlins also won, keeping the Mets' magic number from decreasing by more than one. So it stays at 49...now if the Phillies win and the Mets win on Saturday, we will see the magic number decrease by two. There's something to root for!
TRADE TALK: I want to clarify what I wrote yesterday about the Mets' trade possibilities, because I'm not sure I was clear. I wouldn't mind a deal that netted the Mets a good pitcher for the post-season and beyond. That's one thing - it would have to be a solid starter that stays with the Mets (a la Dontrelle Willis, who is signed through 2008). I also would not mind the Mets trading Lastings Milledge OR Mike Pelfrey - but I would hate to see BOTH of them dealt. And finally, a couple of additional pieces on Barry Zito: First, it's rumored that Billy Beane would trade Zito to the Mets straight up for Milledge. Now, Zito is a free agent at the end of the year, but he might stay with the Mets, considering he'd be their ace, and they'd be competitive. Also, if the Mets traded for him, and lost him, they'd get supplemental draft picks - I think two of them. So it's not like they'd get nothing for him.
The Brewers traded Carlos Lee today to the Texas Rangers for Francisco Cordero, Kevin Mench, and Laynce Nix. I think that's a good deal for both teams. Yes, the Brewers are losing a big bat, but Mench can plug that hole in the lineup pretty well. Cordero lost his closer's job with the Rangers, but the Brewers have been having bullpen problems, so this move could help them shore that up, whether he replaces Derek Turnbow as the closer, or helps set him up. And for the Rangers to get a big bat like Lee is huge - it almost returns them to the days of Juan Gonzalez in their outfield, where they could outslug almost anybody.
Also on Friday, the Giants acquired Mike Stanton from the Washington Nationals for a minor league player. That doesn't mean much other than the fact that the Nationals now don't have any lefties worth a darn in their bullpen.
ELSEWHERE AROUND THE MAJORS: Chase Utley's hitting streak is now at 28 games. Dare I pick him for Beat the Streak during this run? Stay tuned.
Watch out John Maine - you have some competition. The Cleveland Indians' Jeremy Sowers pitched his second straight shutout, beating the Mariners 1-0 on Friday. Sowers has now pitched 19 straight scoreless innings, 1-and-two-thirds more than Maine.
For the first time I saw Tony Gwynn's son, Tony Gwynn, play for the Brewers. He pinch hit in Friday's game. It was weird hearing the announcers talking about Tony Gwynn. Just weird. They don't call him junior or anything - it's not even on his name in the graphic. He is also 4-for-8 in limited pinch-hit duty...so the similarities are striking (except for the weight issue - the young Tony Gwynn is quite slim.)
NAME GAME: I have a meter on this page and the Jets page which allows me to see how many people read each day. (And each day it increases by 4 or 5, thanks to Justin, Steve, Kevin, Dave, and the Wife.) But once in a while, there's a reader directed to the site by a search engine, because they searched for something like "Mike Pelfrey", or, recently, "Harold Reynolds", and my site will occasionally register. Well, Thursday, someone searched "John Mets", and when you search that, my page comes up as the second hit - right behind the website of an artist, or art dealer, I'm not sure, named John Mets. How awesome is that!? Too bad that name's already taken - I would sign up for that name in a heartbeat.
THE KID'S KIDS: The St. Lucie Mets split their doubleheader with Lakeland on Friday (making up Thursday's rainout), losing game one, 5-1, but bouncing back to take game 2, 9-2. Interestingly, game 2 went to extra innings, tied at 2, when St. Lucie opened up for 7 in the extra frame.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: This is sad to keep reporting on. Another 0-for-3 for Alfonzo, dropping his average to .167. Alfonzo did manage to get an RBI - his 5th. He also walked. Heath Bell got a save in his first game back with Norfolk - he was demoted to make room on the roster for Pedro Martinez*.
BEAT THE STREAK: That was easy - it only took one at-bat for the David Wright double off Horacio Ramirez. That made Wright 8-for-his-last-8 against Ramirez. So I now have an 8-game hitting streak. I wasn't sure who to take Saturday, I settled on Albert Pujols against Greg Maddux.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
There are a couple of e-mails I want to address/respond to on this off-day, the second of them which I've been meaning to get to for a while. But first, this:
My prediction was September 15th.
Other thoughts: Do you think the Mets will pull off a clutch trade? Do you think they need to do anything? Would you, acting as GM, trade Milledge and Pelfrey for Dontrelle Willis? My thought is YES. Let me know what you think.
Steve from Queens"
First off, September 15th is Steve's response to my request yesterday to repeat his prediction of when the Mets would clinch the division. He had told me, but I forgot. So he says September 15, which would beat the 1986 Mets' division-clinching by 2 days. Anytime you clinch that early in September, you're running away with the division. I think there's a chance the Mets might actually beat the 15th of September, looking at the magic number and everything. It's crazy to think the Mets might win the division before the Jets' second game of the season (more on the Jets later).
As for the trades, I do think the Mets will do something, but I don't think they'll be involved in a blockbuster of the Willis type. I don't think they should give up both Milledge and Pelfrey - I'd be willing to see one go for an upgrade in the starting rotation, who would be in the rotation into next year and beyond - but not both. I agree with all those who say the Mets need another starter if for no other reason than to take some of the strain off of the bullpen, which has been worked hard to this point in the season. Pedro Martinez* comes back Friday, yes, but I don't see him pitching many innings per start for a little while now, and the other starters haven't shown the ability lately to go much past the sixth inning (barely even getting out of the fifth in some cases). So I see the Mets getting someone along the lines of a Livan Hernandez (though I really hope they don't get him) - not someone along the lines of Barry Zito or Dontrelle Willis. I just don't see it happening. But I expect something to go down by Sunday night.
Then there's this e-mail, from my cousin. I'm only printing the PS part of it, because the rest of it will go on the Jets site, johnnyjets.blogspot.com. (You must understand that my cousin is the opposite of the Southern Bureau - whereas the Southern Bureau is into baseball, and roots for football teams, but doesn't care as much, my cousin is take-it-or-leave-it with baseball and lives and dies for football.):
"PS- I expect a response before the season starts if that won't distract you from that other blog. Give it up. The Mets don't have the starting pitching to win three rounds in the playoffs. I doubt they will win one. Get on to the important topic-JETS, Jets! Jets! Jets!"
Needless to say, my cousin, when he does watch baseball, is a Yankees fan. And you can tell his baseball ignorance from that comment - the Mets DEFINITELY have the starting pitching to win the first two rounds of the playoffs and get out of the National League portion of the playoffs. The World Series won't be easy, but like I said about a month ago, I think the interleague series helped the Mets prepare for when they do face an American League team again. And they got some of those big-game pressures out of the way during interleague play, what with Pedro*'s return to Fenway, and the two Yankees series. So that has to help - they'll be a little more prepared for it.
And one more response for my cousin and for all readers - I have revamped the Jets site just as I did the Mets site before this season. Last year was a disaster on the Jets site - it became just a spot to publish my picks (for entertainment purposes only, of course). I don't know that this year will be much better, with the new teaching position and the baby due about Week 4 of the season, but with Training Camp opening up on Friday, at least I can try to keep tabs on Chad Pennington's shoulder, and the Eric Mangini situation. So check out the Jets site, and remember to go back to that one while johnnymets.blogspot.com keeps tracking the Mets. (I've also been scouting for fantasy football the past couple of days, and that's made me a lot more excited about football season.)
THE KID'S KIDS: The information I could gather to the best of my ability indicates the St. Lucie-Lakeland game on Thursday was rained out.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Edgardo Alfonzo got another start at 3B, and had another ofer, going 0-for-4, dropping his average to .182. At this point, I don't think we'll be seeing Alfonzo at Shea come September. He had said it was tough for him to hit with the Angels and Blue Jays this year because he wasn't playing regularly, and wasn't used to coming off the bench and hitting inconsistently. He's getting consistent time at Norfolk. Wonder how much longer the Mets let him work out the kinks...
BEAT THE STREAK: Bobby Abreu was just 1-for-4, but it was enough to get me up to a 7-gamer. On Friday I need look no further than the Mets-Braves game. Horacio Ramirez is starting for the Braves, which means I'm taking David Wright for Beat the Streak. He owns Ramirez, hitting 7-for-10 against him with 4 homers. I think he can manage a hit.
You know what's really tough - I haven't been able to find anything anywhere about Day One of camp, and specifically how Chad Pennington looked.
Here's where SNY is going to show if it's worth watching. I'm TiVo-ing "Jets Nation" on Saturday. This show was a joke during the off-season - just three guys sitting around and arguing. But the day after the first practice of training camp - it better be comprehensive. If it's not, I don't know if I'll bother watching the rest of the year. So hopefully I'll have more info Saturday.
ROOKIES: D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold, the Jets' first-round draft choices, as well as 2nd round pick Kellen Clemens, are all under contract, which is good. The Jets don't need holdouts hanging over their heads in addition to all their other question marks.
INJURIES: Curtis Martin, Justin McCareins, and Trey Teague were all placed on the Physically Unable to Perform List (the PUP) on Thursday, before the first day of practices. This is more of a formality at this point, meaning that they just can't practice. Once the season begins, the PUP is a bigger deal, because that means the players are inactive for a longer period - like until Week 6. The problem here, though, is that Curtis Martin's knee is still not fully healed from his surgery at the end of last season. Apparently, he was expected back by now. I guess the good news is that he's not going to be rushed back before he's ready...but the bad news is that his career could be coming to an end fast.
I'll be updating periodically throughout training camp - thanks for coming back to the site!
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
It took a while for the Mets to get a hit on Wednesday afternoon at Shea...and it took even longer for them to finally scratch out a run. But when they did, it ended the game, and gave the Mets a big win before heading out on a 6-game road trip, and a longer stretch against divisional opponents.
John Maine matched up with Mark Prior in Wednesday's game, and both were awesome. Prior walked 5 through 5-and-2-thirds, but left in the sixth without allowing a hit (he's been constantly injured, and had thrown 103 pitches, so I'm sure Cubs fans couldn't blame Dusty Baker for that decision). Maine went 7 innings, giving up just 3 walks and 3 hits, while striking out 7. Neither pitcher, obviously, gave up a run, and for Maine, that's now 17 (and two-thirds) straight scoreless innings, following up his complete game, 4-hit shutout of the Astros on Friday. It seems like Maine will be in the rotation for a while now (ERA now 2.45). Mike Pelfrey will get to make one more start, but if he's not effective, he might be sent down to the minors. If the Mets decide to keep Pelfrey around, we might see someone like El Duque go to the bullpen. (Interesting note on Maine - during the Astros' broadcast of the shutout, the Astros' broadcasters said he is the only player in Major League history to have a last name that is spelled exactly the same as one of the states. I think that's interesting - football had Joe Montana...wonder if other sports have other state players?)
So the Mets figured out how to stop the problem of giving up 8 runs a game - but in this game, they didn't get their first hit until the 7th inning, and they couldn't score. The walks helped, and Jose Reyes stole his league-leading 41st base, along with 2 stolen bases by Carlos Beltran - his first in months. But none of those guys could cross the plate. Hopefully the Mets put it all together in Atlanta this weekend.
They certainly finished the game strong. After 3 shutout innings by the bullpen (Duaner Sanchez, Billy Wagner, and Aaron Heilman), the Mets loaded the bases in the 10th. Beltran singled, Carlos Delgado doubled down the left field line (all with two out), and David Wright was walked intentionally, bringing up Jose Valentin. He's had a ton of success with the bases loaded this year, so the Mets must have felt good about him in that position, and he came through with a bullet up the middle to win the game. (I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up on the DL, though, after the celebration at first base - the Mets need to work on that...they beat the crap out of Valentin.)
The Mets are off on Thursday (I'll see what I can dig up for a posting - perhaps the Mets will pull off a trade - deadline is just 4 days away), then it's a big series in Atlanta, with Pedro Martinez* pitching game one. Heath Bell will get sent back down to Norfolk before Friday's game to make room on the roster for Martinez*.
**NEW FEATURE** MAGIC NUMBER: I'll tell you my first exposure to the term "Magic Number". It was, of course, 1986. Every day in the Daily News, when it became clear the Mets were running away with the division, the News ran a picture of Davey Johnson pulling a rabbit out of a hat, with the Mets' magic number for clinching the NL East in the hat. I quickly learned the term "Magic Number", and being numerically and statistically inclined, I've been sort of obsessed with it ever since. So I've calculated the Mets' magic number right now to be 51. Every day I will update it, until I am proven to have the wrong magic number, or until the Mets clinch. If you're new to the concept, every time the Mets win, or the second place team loses (right now that's the Braves), the magic number decreases by one. So it's the combined number of Mets' wins or second-place losses before the second place team is mathematically eliminated from the division crown. Steve from Queens, you made a prediction about when the Mets would clinch the last time I saw you - care to have that prediction published? Because it was early-to-mid September, and it seems like it was accurate...but I can't remember the specific date. So if you want me to mention the date on the site, please write me with it, if you remember it.
A WORD ON WAGNER: Overshadowed, I guess by the Mets' recent struggles, has been Billy Wagner's performance. He threw a scoreless ninth inning, on just 11 pitches, and would have come back out for the 10th, but his position in the batting order came up in the bottom of the ninth, and he was pinch-hit for. It was Wagner's fifth straight appearance without allowing a run - and in those appearances he's given up just 2 hits and a walk. Wagner has very good post-All Star break numbers in his career - if that holds true this year, the early-season struggles won't matter. And his performances of late seem to indicate that things are getting better when the Mets have a lead in the ninth inning.
STATS FOLLOWING WEDNESDAY'S GAME: The win was the Mets' 10th in their last at-bat this season - that leads the majors. They're one better than Milwaukee in that situation. Actually, that must be walk-off wins...because the Mets have 15 wins overall in their last at-bat - which probably includes road games. It was also the Mets' 22nd win in one-run games - they're 22-10 in one-run games, best in the majors there too.
ELSEWHERE IN THE MAJORS: Did you notice the Twins just completed a 3-game sweep of the White Sox to move into a tie with Chicago? The Twins have been on fire since the All Star break, and the White Sox have been ice cold. The Yankees won late Wednesday, so both the Sox and the Twins are a half-game behind New York for the AL Wild Card.
The Phillies are awful (and therefore do not scare me), but Chase Utley is pretty good. He's riding a 26-game hitting streak right now.
THE KID'S KIDS: The St. Lucie Mets are back on track, outscoring Lakeland, 8-6, on Wednesday night. They're still 3 games out of the second-half-of-the-season division lead.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Another 0-for-3, this one with 2 strikeouts, on Wednesday night for Edgardo Alfonzo with Norfolk. Alfonzo is now hitting .207. He did reach base with a walk...but he was caught stealing. Also interesting from this game - Jose Lima got the loss, droppping his record to 6-6. Lima actually pitched pretty well...as he bides his time in Triple-A, waiting to get his ring.BEAT THE STREAK: Bill Hall got me an early-game homer, so I'm at a 6-game hitting streak right now. Thursday I'll stick with afternoon baseball, and I'll go back to that Arizona-Philadelphia series and take Bobby Abreu, because I like his career numbers against D-Backs starter Claudio Vargas.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
The Mets have lost three games in a row, and the common denominator in those games is 8 - as in runs scored by the opponents. That's a bad stretch of pitching. I hadn't watched much of Sunday's game, or Tuesday's game, but I saw most of Monday's (Trachsel). Tom Glavine, on Tuesday, gave up 5 earned runs (8 total) in 6-and-a-third innings - and gave up 3 homers - to Aramis Ramirez, Phil Nevin, and the pitcher, Carlos Zambrano. Glavine needs to pitch better if the other Mets' pitchers are going to struggle like they are now. (On Sunday it was Mike Pelfrey with a poor pitching performance, suffering his first Major League loss.)
Still, the Mets had a chance in the bottom of the ninth (stressing the importance of those last couple of runs that put this one out of reach). They loaded the bases, and if it wasn't for a good defensive play at second base by Neifi Perez, would have tied the game, and possibly went on to win it. The Mets scored just once in the ninth, and their rally ended when Paul LoDuca popped out to second to end it (not the good defensive play - just another out recorded by Perez in the inning).
Carlos Beltran hit his 28th homer of the year in the first inning, and Endy Chavez homered in the second, staking Glavine to a 4-2 lead - which he promptly lost, giving up 4 runs to the Cubs in the third.
Some observations about the team right now:
-Paul LoDuca is really banged up. It's reminiscent of Mike Piazza behind the plate in late July - he has a thumb problem that's bothering him, and every night is taking a bad foul tip somewhere off the body.
-Pedro Martinez* NEEDS to come out on Friday and shut down the Braves. He needs to inject some life into the ballclub right now - the Mets seem mired down a bit, and they need a little spark. It would be awesome if it came against the Braves, from Pedro*.
That brings us to a mail note (thanks for e-mailing, Dave - the comments section has decreased the number of e-mails we receive...as well as increase SPAM - I had to delete that comment, so maybe the Southern Bureau's note seems slightly out of place):
I know that the Phillies don't scare you, and based on their performance so far this season I could see why.
But what about the Braves? They're 12-4 this month (as of this writing), 12.5 back of New York in the division (but 5 GB for the wild card) with about 64 games to play, including this weekend's three-game set against the Mets at Turner Field. Thoughts?
Dave in Brighton"
I have to tell you, I don't think the Braves are a major threat. I'm not going so far as to say they don't scare me, because I've lived through the past 8 seasons or so (I've also seen them play for the past 15 years), but I think they're making this run too late in the season. I think they'll run out of steam real soon and drop out of the wild card hunt. That would be an added bonus of the Mets catching fire again this weekend - it could really hurt Atlanta.
Wednesday has the potential to be one of my greatest days of summer vacation. The baseball games are laid out in ideal fashion - the Mets have a 12:00 noon start (as well as 2 other games). There are a couple of 2 o'clock games, then 3 in the 3 o'clock hour. There's 3 in the 7 o'clock slot, and 3 in the 8 o'clock slot, and for good measure, a 10 o'clocker. Maybe I'll go pick up some beer.
THE KID'S KIDS: Another loss for St. Lucie on Tuesday night. After a win on Monday night ended the Mets' 3-game slide, they've now lost 4 out of 5 after losing to Sarasota, 6-3. The big showdown with first-place Daytona is coming up at the end of the week.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: 0-for-3 for Edgardo Alfonzo on Tuesday, dropping his average to .231.
MINOR LEAGUE UPDATE: I forgot to mention in my last post that another Mets' affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones, was involved in a 26-inning game last week. Just FYI. The game was an early afternoon start for campers, and it went on for 6 hours, 40 minutes. (Relatively quick - it was tied at 1 for a long time.) The Oneonta Tigers beat the Cyclones, 6-1, in the longest game in NY-Penn League history.
BEAT THE STREAK: This is getting exciting now - Jimmy Rollins gave me a 5-game streak, I'm going with Bill Hall Wednesday afternoon for a 6-gamer.
Monday, July 24, 2006
I'm just feeling right now that if I waited until the end of the game, I wouldn't post afterwards. I had a busy weekend, I'm feeling a little run down, I actually have things to do Tuesday, a rarity on my summer vacation, so I want to get this out of the way and get some sleep.
The Mets are trailing the Cubs right now, 8-4, so it looks like we'll have to wait another day for win number 60. But keep in mind that the Mets ARE playing the Cubs, who they are capable of scoring 11 runs against in an inning...so perhaps this one's not over yet.
PEDRO*: Finally, Pedro Martinez* appears set to pitch Friday at Atlanta. We'll see....
THE KID'S KIDS: The Mets are 16-13 in the season's second half, three-and-a-half back of Daytona. They're riding a 3-game losing streak right now. Perhaps the boys have their minds on the post-season, and not on the regular season...and some big-time managing is going to be needed by Hall of Famer Gary Carter.
MINOR LEAGUE REPORT: Here's your rare full Mets minor-league report...we just mentioned St. Lucie. A Binghamton pitcher threw a no-hitter against Portland on Sunday. So that covers Binghamton (it was just a 7-inning no-hitter, so I won't even mention the guy's name).
Regarding Edgardo Alfonzo's comeback - he didn't play on Monday, but after an 0-for-3 on Sunday, he's hitting .261. That's not going to be enough.
BEAT THE STREAK: After an all-Ichiro weekend (3 hits), A-Rod got me a hit on Monday. So I have a 4-gamer. It's Jimmy Rollins on Tuesday - a .500 career hitter against his opposing pitcher, Miguel Batista.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
The Mets went to extra innings, but pulled out the finale of their six-game road trip, 4-2 over the Reds Thursday afternoon. They took 2-out-of-three in Cincy, following 2 out of three in Chicago, going 4-2 on their road trip. That's a very good road trip, the problem is that it could have been 5-1, because the Mets played awful after the rain delay late Wednesday night.
The only good that rain delay did was make for a very entertaining telecast on Thursday afternoon. It's fun when you consider the broadcasters have to perform during the 12:30 start after the midnight finish the night before. Gary Cohen played it professionally, Keith Hernandez played it comically, and was very funny. I can't really relate it to you - suffice it to say, Hernandez messed up quite a few times (i.e. calling for a double play situation with two outs...apparently Cohen signaled to him that there were two outs, and Hernandez told him he could tell him on the air - he's not ashamed...).
Anyway, the game followed the same recipe the Mets have used lately - they jump out to an early lead, and the other team comes back....and it's a bit of a nail-biter. And Tom Glavine gets a no-decision. The Mets jumped out to a lead thanks to Cliff Floyd's 10th homer of the year, and Carlos Delgado's first homer since the end of June - both solo shots. The Reds tied it off Glavine in the bottom of the fifth, and then threatened in the seventh - with the bases loaded, Glavine gave way to Chad Bradford, who struck out Scott Hatteberg (who rarely strikes out), then got a grounder to third. The Mets relievers did a great job in this game - 3-and-two-thirds scoreless innings. Glavine pitched very well also.
The Mets come back home for a series against the Astros beginning Friday night. Orlando Hernandez looks to rebound from his rough outing last Sunday when he goes on Friday.
By the way - the news on Pedro Martinez* is that now he's on a schedule to come back in Atlanta the last week of July - a little later than originally said. I'm starting to get a little suspicious....
DEADLINE NEWS: The trading deadline is but two weeks away (10 days, really), and the Mets figure to be active players. But the Braves jumped into the mix by acquiring Bob Wickman from the Indians on Thursday. I'm not sure how I feel about the Braves right now - they're hot, they're making a little run at the wild card. I'd feel better if they missed the playoffs, but I still feel like the Mets can beat them if they had to.
TRADING PLACES: The Mets got a jump on the trade deadline the other day, trading 2B Jeff Keppinger to the Royals for 2B Ruben Gotay. I'm a bit saddened by this. I really liked Keppinger, and thought he may be able to help the team at the major league level someday. The trade doesn't make a ton of sense to me either. Keppinger is two years older than Gotay, with one year less of major league experience, but other than that, I think Keppinger has more upside. Truth be told, I don't know a whole lot about Gotay, but I know that the Kansas City Royals have a guy in Keppinger who, once they trade Mark Grudzielanek, should take over their second base position and stay there for a while.
This year, Keppinger was hitting .300 for the Tides, Gotay was hitting .264 for Omaha. Long story short, I like the deal....for Royals fans.
THE KID'S KIDS: At the time I'm writing this, neither the St. Lucie game nor the Tides game were over, so we'll wait until tomorrow for updates on The Kid's Kids and Edgardo Alfonzo.
BEAT THE STREAK: Youkilis ended my streak on Wednesday, and because I knew Ramon Castro would be playing Thursday in the early day game following the night game, I took him just for s's and g's on Thursday. He didn't get a hit. So I'm still at 0. I need to get something started, so I'm going to go with Ichiro, versus the Red Sox, on Friday.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
I was watching a show on ESPN about the greatest baseball teams of all time. As a Red Sox fan – I was shocked and disappointed that the 1986 Mets were ranked as a better team than the 2004 Red Sox.
So I thought…what would Johnny Mets do?? So…being the stat dork….I broke it down…just to earn my keep at the Southern Bureau Chief.
C – Gary Carter vs Jason Varitek: Varitek is obviously the Red Sox leader and captain, but Carter put up some pretty impressive numbers by 1986 standards. I think what Varitek brings in the clubhouse makes it closer – but I’ll go with Carter. (1-0 Mets)
1B – Keith Hernandez vs Kevin Millar/David Ortiz: A tale of two ballparks. In Fenway Park, the edge obviously goes to the Mets because Millar is/was terrible. But when they play in Shea, the edge has to go to the Red Sox (since Ortiz can't DH). Ortiz might not be a good fielder, but is there anyone else you’d rather have at the plate?? Ever?? We’ll call this position a tie. (1.5-.5 Mets)
2B – Wally Backman vs Mark Bellhorn: Backman hit 320 in 1986. That’s enough for me. (2.5-.5 Mets)
3B – Ray Knight vs Bill Mueller: I was surprised how good Knight’s stats were. Mueller had a great 2003, but struggled at the plate in 2004. Since that is the year we’re comparing – the edge to Knight. Mueller had a rough regular season. (3.5-.5 Mets)
SS – Rafael Santana vs Orlando Cabrera: Before looking at the stats, I had this pegged as a “they both aren’t very good” draw. But shockingly - Santana was even worse than I ever would have guessed.. He hit 218 for the season in 1986 – just 100 total bases. I was shocked to see he played in 139 games with those numbers. Orlando wasn’t THAT bad. (3.5-1.5 Mets)
LF – Mookie vs Manny: Just first names necessary here, and while Mookie may have had the most famous at-bat, Manny takes this one by a mile. (3.5-2.5 Mets)
CF – Lenny Dykstra vs Johnny Damon: The two leadoff hitters match up. Dyskstra hit 295 with 31 stolen bases, and 77 runs. Damon hit 304 with 19 stolen bases and 123 runs. Just 45 RBI for Dykstra…94 for Damon. This one is tough to call – but I’m going with Damon. (3.5-3.5)
RF – Darryl Strawberry vs Trot Nixon: I love Trot, but this one is about as close as Manny vs Mookie. Now Manny vs Darryl…that might get interesting. (4.5-3.5 Mets)
DH – Danny Heep vs David Ortiz: Heep started in games 3 and 4 (when the Sox pitched rightys). Kevin Mitchell started game 5 when the Sox pitched a lefty. In 2004 - the Red Sox had no lefty starters - so Heep's the guy. Not that it matters. (4.5-4.5)
Relief Pitching – Speaking from personal experience, I never felt safe with any lead as a Red Sox fan. Keith Foulke was lights out and Timlin and Embree were good enough. But that was it. Bronson Arroyo stunk in the playoffs. So I wanted the starters in as long as possible. Looking at the Mets reliever’s ERA, I’m guessing that wasn’t the case. So – on a guess – I’ll take the Mets. (5.5-4.5 Mets)
Bench – I think one reason the Red Sox won it all in 2004 was their depth. Dave Roberts, Gabe Kapler, Kevin Youkilis, Doug Mirabelli – defense with Pokey Reece and Doug Meintkiewicz. They were loaded with the exact type of bench guys you would want. I found ONE Mets bench player who hit over 250 in 1986. (5.5-5.5)
So we’re tied going to the one category I was stuck on – Starting Pitching. Its very hard to compare pitchers from different eras – especially with the increase in offense. What does Gooden’s 2.84 ERA equal in 2004?? Is it better than Pedro’s 3.90?? Sid Fernandez had nice numbers, but how much better is he really than Derek Lowe….or is he better at all?? Do the Mets have a number two starter like Curt Schilling??
This is where I got stumped. So in my mind…it’s a draw. It was much closer than I was expecting…the 86 Mets turned out to be a pretty good team.
Maybe this will spark some debate. Enjoy…and I look forward to the Johnnymets response…
-- southern bureau chief
end of article
Nice job, Southern Bureau. I'm kind of surprised the 2004 Red Sox come up in arguments of best team ever....I missed that ESPN special, I guess, but they weren't that great of a team, were they? Seems to me they were a very good team that went on a very timely post-season run. The 1986 Mets were a legitimately great team, that should have translated into the 1987 and 1988 Mets being great teams, but didn't. So they're a stand-alone great year. But I guess that's an argument for another time.
I don't know that I would do much differently than your analysis...maybe first base. I think Ortiz would make first base a Red Sox edge if we're talking head-to-head, because he'd be playing first base at Shea over Millar. And he'd give them the edge at DH, no doubt. But if we're talking strictly the first base position, then the edge would go to the Mets, because Hernandez was far better than Millar. I know you were getting at that, but the fact that you gave that position a tie, I think, needed a little more explanation....also, like I said, it would be different if we're talking comparing seasons or a head-to-head series (say, I don't know....in Triple Play 1999 or something).
Now for the pitching. Let's look:
#1: Dwight Gooden vs. Pedro Martinez
#2: Ron Darling vs. Curt Schilling
#3: Bobby Ojeda vs. Derek Lowe
#4: Sid Fernandez vs. Tim Wakefield
#5: Rick Aguilera vs. Bronson Arroyo
Again, if you're talking a head-to-head series, Pedro and Schilling alone as a 1-2 punch get more of an edge. But if we're comparing seasons, I think we have to give the edge to the Mets staff more than the Sox. You're right, we're talking different eras (and we can't overlook the 2004 AL versus the 1986 NL), but I think season-wise, I'd take the Mets' staff.
Dwight Gooden (although he'd probably get rocked in a series vs. these Sox) had a better '86 than Pedro had an '04. Maybe Pedro in '99 could rival it...but not '04. Edge: Mets
I'd still probably give '04 Schilling the edge over '86 Darling. Edge: Sox
Ojeda had a far better '86 than Lowe's '04, so Edge: Mets.
Wakefield's '04 was average, at best. El Sid is better than a draw here. Edge: Mets
And Aguilera and Arroyo are actually pretty comparable in the five slot. I'd go draw here.
So when you're comparing regular seasons, the edge is in the Mets' favor. If you're talking post-seasons, I think the Red Sox might get the edge. Maybe that's part of what had you stuck. I think better parameters need to be set for this argument. Or maybe we just need to settle this like men - on PlayStation.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
The Mets got their third grand slam in two games, and a solid performance from rookie Mike Pelfrey, beating the Reds, 8-3, in Cincinnati Tuesday night. I'm going to make this a quick recap, so we can all enjoy a great article by Justin from NYC.
Xavier Nady, Jose Valentin, and Carlos Beltran all homered for the Mets (Beltran's was his second grand slam in as many days) off of starter Eric Milton, giving Pelfrey plenty of run support again (his first win saw 17 runs scored by the Mets). Jose Reyes made his return from a stitched-up pinky finger, going 0-for-4, but scoring twice. Cliff Floyd was also 0-for-4, temporarily cooling off, and Carlos Delgado continued to slump, going 0-for-5.
Pelfrey was good. He pitched six innings, giving up 7 hits and walking 3, but giving up only 2 runs. He struck out 3. He hasn't looked spectacular, but looked very solid on Tuesday, and should have earned himself another start. He allowed a lot of baserunners, but got himself out of a few jams. I thought a telling moment came in the bottom of the fifth. With the Mets ahead 2-0, the Reds had runners on first and second with 2 out. Pelfrey blew a 96-mile-an-hour fastball by Adam Dunn to strike him out and end the inning, stranding the runners. Pelfrey is now 2-0, with a 3.27 ERA. He's looked good - not great, but good. It's exciting watching a young pitcher in his early stages.
THE KID'S KIDS: It took 10 innings, but Lakeland eked out a win against St. Lucie, 2-1.
In other news, Edgar Alfonzo, Jr., an occasional closer with the St. Lucie Mets, is in fact related to Edgardo Alfonzo. I think I raised this possibility earlier in the year, because Alfonzo's brother Edgar is an instructor in the Mets' minor league system. Well, now that the Mets have Edgardo back, the article mentioned all of his ties to the Mets' organization, and mentioned his nephew, Edgar, who I assume is the son of Edgar, Sr. Very confusing. I wish they would have named one of the guys Carl or something. Now we have to figure out if Eliezer Alfonzo out in San Francisco is related.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Edgardo Alfonzo made his debut for Norfolk Tuesday night. He was 0-for-4, with an RBI, in the 7-2 Tides win. Alfonzo started at 3B. 0-for-4 isn't going to get him to the Majors in a hurry.
BEAT THE STREAK: Mike Piazza had a hit in his first at-bat Tuesday night, so my streak is 4. Wednesday I will be at the Red Sox-Royals game in the afternoon, so I have to pick someone from that game. With Mark Redman, a lefty, on the mound for K.C., I'll take Kevin Youkilis to get me a hit.
COMING UP: On Thursday evening I'll post the Southern Bureau's labor of love, a comparison of the 1986 Mets to the 2004 Red Sox. Wednesday evening I'll recap the second game of the Mets-Reds series, bound to be a snoozer, with Steve Trachsel on the mound.
And now, johnnymets.blogspot.com presents, An Evening With Don Mattingly, brought to you by Justin from New York City. A couple of things you must know - as Justin explains, he was given the opportunity to meet and have dinner with Don Mattingly this past Sunday evening. Mattingly is the current hitting coach for the Yankees, as well as former first baseman and legend. The last thing I must tell you is that for Justin to meet Don Mattingly, is like for me to meet Gary Carter. He's just luckier than I am, I guess. Here's his recap:
my dinner with donnie (pronounce that like andre.. and it is a hilarious
play on words)
Sunday night, my brother, noted author Peter Schrager, and I attended
"an evening with Don Mattingly" and fnj the pines restaurant in The Bronx,
New York. We were 2 of about 200 people.. who paid 1500 dollars a ticket.
(we didnt actually pay. my dad's friend bought them and gave them to us).
Being that it was such a costly evening.. we figured we had to dress nice.
We were among a very few who apparently felt that way. Nothing like a room
full of adults in jersey's to make you feel not pathetic. Anyway... the
guest of honor came in.. and the first thing that happened was a q and a.
About 20 minutes of questions.. some good, some not so good. but he
answered every one thoughtfully and respectfully. then everyone got to go
up and take a picture with him and talk to him for a minute or two. That was
the best part, because he was really nice to everyone.. and actually had a
conversation. I told him that i run like him.. and he joked that was the
one part of his game i shouldnt have copied. Then i said, "yeah, but I run
hard everytime" and he liked that.
Once that part ended, it was basically just eating family style italian
dinner with a bunch of strangers. So, that's when the Schrager boys began
phase two of the evening... the part i like to call "making fun of others".
The main target of our ire was a person we called number 12. we called him
that because he was wearing a number 12 yankee jersey. First of all, unless
he was a big Andy Phillips or Tony Womack fan.. that was a soriano jersey,
and he's been gone for four years. If i were to wear a jersey to a nice
restaurant to meet a famous baseball player, my two rules would be this
1:wear the jersey of the person i am meeting, or 2: wear the jersey of my
favorite current member of said players former team. number 12 broke both
rules. His real sin, though, was being creepy and lurky. He litterally
followed Don Mattingly around the room, and went in for the handshake on a
number of occassions. He got BACK on the picture line after his turn...
which is definitely not cool. But after that part was over.. when everyone
was eating, including don mattingly, he went over to his table and shook his
hand again. and then throughout the night did it over and over again. Must
have gone in for nine shakes. That's seven too many in my estimation.
Anyway, the whole thing was sponsored by a memorbilia company, so there was
a silent auction for a bunch of stuff. Don Mattingly bought a Mark Messier
thing, which kind of blew my mind. All he needed to do was sing a bruce
springsteen song and talk like MR T and it would have been all of my
childhood heroes rolled into one. Then, on the way out, everyone got an
autographed picture of don mattingly scooping a throw out of the dirt. Im
guessing it was a short hopped throw from randy velarde, playing out of
position at third base. I have no proof of this.
So, overall.. the most important lesson was that Don Mattingly is a nice
guy. And really, there is nothing else you can ask for from your childhood
idol. thank you and good night.
Monday, July 17, 2006
SATURDAY'S GAME: I forgot to mention one more thing from Saturday's game against the Cubs, which was a disaster. Ever since Harry Caray died, the Cubs have had someone different sing 'Take Me Out To The Ballgame' during the seventh-inning stretch to the crowd - something Caray used to do. Saturday's guest - one Bill Buckner. It was awful - embarrassing, really...but I suppose with all the former athletes they have doing this, they must get a lot of clunkers. I wasn't prepared for this clunker, though, I'll tell you that. It was bad. Anyway, not only do the Cubs trot out Buckner (a batting champion with the Cubs during his tenure there) against the Mets, the team who he has his worst memory against (a la the Red Sox celebrating the 1986 American League championship against the Mets), but WGN shows his name in a graphic that says "Bill Bucknor". That's just unacceptable. Now, CB Bucknor happened to be the home plate umpire, so they could probably blame spell check or something - but get a clue. That's awful.
One more thing about Buckner - I believe he wasn't off scouting colleges with his teenage son during the 1986 celebration at Fenway last month, as the reporters said he was. I think he just didn't want to come. During the interview with Buckner, he stressed how much he loved playing in Chicago, how the fans were so knowledgable, like no others he played in front of (he also played with the Dodgers, Angels and Royals), and the fans in Chicago appreciated the players. He really stressed the appreciation part. Sounded like a shot at Boston fans to me...but then again, he never cost the Cubs a World Series championship (or, as I like to say, the chance to continue playing Game 6 of the World Series - because, if he caught that grounder, the game was going to the 11th inning). So I don't know - I just think Buckner has a grudge against Red Sox fans, as well he should. People talk about how the 2004 World Series absolves people like Buckner for their roles in Red Sox collapses...but that doesn't make up for all the harrassment he has received since then. If I was Buckner, I wouldn't have come back, either.
SI COVER HIJINKS: It was brought to my attention last weekend that the Mets were on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. I would have known that myself if the mailman had delivered my copy on time - usually I get it on Thursday - I didn't receive mine until Monday. I can draw just one conclusion - the mailman is a Mets fan, and wanted to read the article over the weekend. Which I'd be fine with. Something tells me, though, that's not the case.
I read the article - it's about what great team chemistry the Mets have. The headline sure is an attention-grabber, though: "Welcome to Rip City: The Adventures of Captain Red Ass And the Intrepid Mets". They mention the term "red ass" once in the article - it's apparently Paul LoDuca. And the fact that it's mentioned once in the article means Tom Verducci probably didn't even want to mention it once, but his editor heard the nickname, and said, "That's AWESOME! We have to run that." And Verducci probably protested a little, but lost...and thus, the magazine-selling-headline. Anyway, great team chemistry, highlighted by the fact that the Mets have silly nicknames for everyone, and they make fun of each other relentlessly. Good article.
BLAST FROM THE PAST: Going slightly under the radar this weekend - the Mets signed former Met Edgardo Alfonzo to a minor league contract on Saturday. Alfonzo is now 32, and he was fun to watch hit coming up through the organization....but has really hit the skids recently. Last season he was with the Giants, and hit .277. This year he started with the Angels, hitting .100 through April and May. He was released and signed by the Blue Jays, spending part of June in Toronto, hitting .162. He was released again, and now the Mets signed him. Monday was his first day in Norfolk, and we'll keep tabs on him to see if he could be a contributor late in the season. I think Last-Place Lastings (Norfolk is still a half-game out of last, by the way) has had its day - since he came to the Majors and we saw what he has to offer it's not much fun following his minor league days anymore, so maybe now we'll follow Alfonzo in the minors. I expect if the Mets have any designs on promoting Alfonzo, it would be as a second baseman...perhaps making a guy like Chris Woodward or even the hot Jose Valentin expendable....if Alfonzo proves to be a legit alternative. If he can't hit anymore, though, he'll be released again, I'm sure.
THE KID'S KIDS: A Mets win, over Jupiter, 6-3. The Mets take on a couple of teams from the western division next, then a big series with Daytona, who they're chasing in the second half.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Edgardo Alfonzo was supposed to be with the Norfolk Tides Monday, but didn't play. We'll keep you posted.
BEAT THE STREAK: Chipper Jones didn't get an extra base hit, so at least he didn't set a record, which makes me happy. He did have a few singles, though, to keep my hitting streak going. I'm at 3 now. Tuesday night I'm taking Mike Piazza - did you know he's got his average back up to .290 entering play Monday night? I'm happy for him about that - hopefully he hits .300 this year.
- The Southern Bureau has been working hard, and has blown me away with a fantastic article comparing the 2004 Red Sox and 1986 Mets. It's so good I almost scrapped this whole article to run it. The Mets don't have another off day for a week and a half, but they play really early on Thursday, so I think I'll run the Southern Bureau's article then.
- I'm also expecting an article from Justin in NYC, entitled, "My Dinner With Don Mattingly". Of course, Mattingly's not affiliated with the Mets, but Justin's article should be entertaining enough to merit printing on this Mets site.
A year ago at this time, I probably could have gotten away with a frivolous purchase like the one you see at the right. But now I'm having a child, and apparently having children affects the way one can spend money. So for now, I'm not allowed to order johnnymets.blogspot.com t-shirts in bulk. But nothing's stopping you from e-mailing me with your interest level, and your shirt size. And nothing's stopping me from checking out the cost of customized baseball caps.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
After a really awful loss on Saturday, the Mets needed to take two out of three and beat the Cubs on Sunday. That didn't look too promising after El Duque exited in the second inning with the Mets trailing, 5-0. But the Mets did in this game what the Yankees did to them on national TV two weeks ago, overcoming an early deficit, and blowing out the other team.
The Mets used an 11-run 6th inning to do it. I had tried convincing myself all game that with the wind blowing out, the Mets could mount a comeback. Chris Woodward and Cliff Floyd (still heating up) hit solo homers, so it was 5-2, entering the sixth. But the Mets hadn't done anything too encouraging. Then Todd Walker bobbled a ground ball, and Carlos Beltran beat the throw to first. Carlos Delgado got a bloop hit. Then so did David Wright. And then Floyd homered in his second straight at bat, giving the Mets a 6-5 lead. And the best thing is - it wasn't over. The Mets made it 7-5, loaded the bases again, and then Beltran hit a grand slam, making it 11-5! Then, for good measure, David Wright hit a 2-run homer (career homer number 62), making it 11 runs in the 6th - the most the Mets have ever scored in an inning, and sending the Mets to victory.
Cliff Floyd was 2-for-4 with 5 RBI - raising his average to .256. Wright was 3-for-5. And the next stop for the Mets is Cincinnati, where they're very likely to continue hitting for power.
The only problem I have with Sunday's game is that Pedro Feliciano got the win. Now, the entire Mets' bullpen pitched very well, so they should all really split the win. But the man who really deserved the win was Darren Oliver - because he relieved Orlando Hernandez in the 2nd, stopped the Cubs from scoring again, and then pitched 2-and-a-third scoreless innings. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter, or he would have continued shutting down the Cubs. He has been so valuable this year - I just wish he could have had a win to show for his performance Sunday.
The Mets are off Monday - but I'll try to post something anyway. Then it's off to Cincinnati for three games starting on Tuesday.
REYES/PEDRO*: I haven't heard officialy word on THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED, Jose Reyes, but I saw him in the dugout Sunday night, and he no longer had his pinky finger in a splint - so I'm guessing he'll be back at shortstop Tuesday night when the Mets play again. No official word from the Mets - strict speculation on my part.
And after he spent Friday evening in a hospital, Pedro Martinez* is apparently doing much better from his bout of food poisoning. He threw before Sunday's game, and was seen joking around with someone on the Cubs during the game. So I think he's A-OK, and he's supposed to start now on Saturday - hopefully healthy for the stretch run.
OTHER TEAMS AND PLAYERS: It strikes me as potentially troublesome for the Chicago White Sox that they can't beat the teams from the AL East (Yankees swept them this weekend, Red Sox nearly swept them last weekend, taking two out of three - the third going 19 innings). It might indicate that even though two teams could come out of the Central in the AL, it might not be the American League's two best teams.
The Braves are making what could be their best run of the season - they swept the Padres out in San Diego this weekend. And I was watching some of these games, and I didn't realize that Chipper Jones had a 16-game hitting streak going, first of all, and second of all, he has had an extra-base-hit in 14 straight...which I think ties him with Paul Waner for best all-time. That's some feat...worth mentioning a Braves player.
COMMENTS: Thanks to Dave in Brighton for his attempt at reverse psychology regarding Carlos Beltran. Hope it works. So far, so good.
And thanks to the Southern Bureau for the insight into Paul O'Neill. The Southern Bureau also told me they're researching a possible johnnymets.blogspot.com story...the way it was presented made me a little nervous. I don't know what to expect.
THE KID'S KIDS: The St. Lucie Mets were shut out by Jupiter on Sunday, 3-0, snapping a 3-game winning streak. The Mets are 13-9, 3 games back of Daytona. But remember, they won the first half of the season.
BEAT THE STREAK: David Wright was my pick on Sunday, and he extended my streak to two. Really, I need to get this streak into double digits. I'm going with the aforementioned Chipper Jones for ONE NIGHT ONLY - the first Brave I've ever picked for anything. But I'm riding the hot hand - I don't care if he gets an extra-base hit - he just needs a base hit - and against Jeff Weaver of the Cardinals, I hope he'll get it.
Friday, July 14, 2006
The Mets began their march to the post-season with a second-half-opening 6-3 win on Friday in Chicago. Steve Trachsel won his seventh straight start - it seems like ever since I called him out he's responded...but I still need to see him win games in late September (actually, those might be meaningless this year) and October (very meaningful). Trachsel improved his record to 9-4, working six good innings - one inning coming after a 45-minute rain delay. He gave up just 2 runs on three hits.
Cliff Floyd is coming alive - I've been writing it I think even before my computer died - Friday, Floyd was 2-for-3, raising his average to .255. Unfortunately, Floyd was also drilled again - after taking his base, he stole second, and slid hard into second base...there's going to be a brawl, and it's going to center around Floyd being hit...I'm telling you. Future Hall of Famer, All-Star, and Home Run Derby Runner-up David Wright was 1-for-4, with a key RBI.
More encouraging news - in his first game after the break, Aaron Heilman had a very solid outing - working a quick, perfect inning (the 7th), throwing 12 pitches, 9 of them for strikes. He really limped into the break, and the Mets need him in the second half. Jose Valentin also had an impressive game - 3-for-5 out of the leadoff spot, with 2 stolen bases.
On Saturday, quite a pitching matchup - Tom Glavine versus Carlos (the good) Zambrano. Glavine has been winning, but he hasn't been great recently - I'd like to see a strong start from him.
GULP*: No sooner did I declare to Dave in Brighton, via text message, on Tuesday night, during the All Star Game, that I was going to remove the asterisk from Carlos Beltran's name, then he hit the first base bag awkwardly hustling out a ground ball to third base. I made the asterisk decision because Beltran had a great first half, and played the All Star Game like he knew it would have an effect on the Mets' fortunes. I figured, to heck with superstition - I'll still keep the asterisk on Pedro Martinez*'s name, because he's slightly injured, but I'll remove it from Beltran.
Well, Beltran seemed to recover quickly on Tuesday, leaping over a ground ball, advancing to second, but being stranded there for the NL. Then he came out on Friday with a 1-for-3, driving in a run, looking no worse for wear. But he didn't come out after the rain delay, reportedly due to soreness in his knee. Uh-oh. If he's hurt, and is out for an extended period of time, I take full responsibility. But what are the chances - right when I remove the asterisk? And you wonder why I'm superstitious?
REYES/PEDRO*: Jose Reyes didn't play Friday, may not play all weekend, still suffering from the stitched up pinky finger, injured when he dove headfirst into first against the Marlins last Friday, aka on my birthday. The injury forced Reyes to miss the All Star Game (although he still traveled to the game, Manny). I haven't commented on this yet, but obviously, Reyes has to stop doing this - and he says he's going to try. So I'm not going to criticize him or others who dive headfirst into first. I'll save that for if he continues to do it. But I will say that I think the most powerful lesson for Reyes is that he was hurt enough because of that act that it prevented him from taking part in the All Star Game. I don't think for a young guy like that, there could have been a worse punishment. Especially after he was voted in. It hasn't cost the Mets much (Jose Valentin has filled in ably as a leadoff man - even though I prefer seeing Endy Chavez in that spot), so it's also a well-timed lesson for Reyes - he'll be back for the stretch, with a lesson hopefully learned.
As for Pedro Martinez*, he was supposed to come off the DL on Wednesday, July 19, but might miss that start because he suffered food poisoning/stomach flu symptoms the other day. I don't know why this would affect him half-a-week off, but it will - Steve Trachsel will start Wednesday (on regular rest), and Pedro* will be delayed. Something smells fishy to me here...Is he injured worse than we think? Is he taking an extended All-Star vacation? Who knows. As long as he pitches effectively the rest of the season, I'll forget all about the missed All Star Game, DL stint. But another delay and I'm going to get really suspicious.
CUBS BROADCASTERS: I've seen about all I need to see with these guys (Len Kasper and Bob Brenly - and the whole Comcast production crew, really). I watched about 15 minutes of their pre-game, before the ESPN coverage started, and it was bad. First of all, negative points for the Cubs when I realized that Chip Caray (even though he has strikes against him because of his lineage) and Steve Stone had been canned by the Cubs after they were critical of the team in the booth. So that reflects poorly on Kasper and Brenly right away. Then there was the fact that before the game started, twice, Kasper says, "We're ready to go", while the ESPN broadcast wasn't even close to taking the air, and Comcast twice went to commercial, came back, and went to commercial again after he said that. So, no, Len, you weren't even close to being ready to go. That bothers me a lot.
Then there was the production aspect - The Cubs guys were spotlighting David Wright, and Brenly says, "About the only 0 you see on his stat sheet is under sacrifice bunts!". So what. He meant it to be funny, but said it like it was a relevant stat. Then when they showed the Wright graphic, they showed him hitting .310, when he was hitting .316 before the game started. Unacceptable stuff. GRADE: F
MY THOUGHTS ON TRADES: I've been sitting on this for a while, because it struck me strongly when I didn't have computer access...don't know that the weekend is the best time to write it, but oh well. There are all kinds of names being bounced around in trade rumors for the Mets, with the trading deadline nearing. I want to mention a couple of names I think the Mets should NOT trade, along with others I think might be expendable.
People are always looking for left-handed relievers, and the Mets have a supply of them right now. There's Pedro Feliciano and Darren Oliver, as well as Royce Ring at Triple-A (having a very good season - he was an International League All Star). Now, this went under the radar a little, but after the Mets had their little losing streak before the break (against the Red Sox and Yankees), Feliciano criticized Willie Randolph, and the way he uses the bullpen. Randolph worked this out with Feliciano behind closed doors, but the fact that Feliciano vented through the media prompted Randolph to say something to the effect of, "I've been around plenty of winners, and that's not what winners do." I've heard Randolph and management have been happy with Feliciano - but if he's going to mouth off, I'd rather see him shipped off. Things are going too well for the Mets for him to mess it up (chemistry-wise as well as on the field). So if the Mets are going to deal a lefty, get rid of Feliciano. I've heard the Mets might use Ring's good year as trade bait- but I'd rather see Feliciano dealt, and Ring brought up - I just feel Ring has more upside. Oliver has done a great job in his role this year too - but I don't feel like he'll keep it up, even through the end of this year. So I wouldn't mind seeing him shipped while his value is high, too.
Aaron Heilman's name has been tossed around too, because of the fact that he's unhappy with his position as a reliever. I agree Heilman is unhappy, but it would be a big mistake for the Mets to trade him, then see him have a huge year somewhere else. I think the Mets finish the year with him in the role he's in now, then let him start next year. Then, I think he becomes a free agent, and he's gone if the Mets don't allow him to start...if he is a starter, maybe he'd consider staying with the Mets.
As far as position players, I don't see many deal-able players. I think Lastings Milledge is here to stay, despite his little mental lapses. I think he got his taste of the big leagues, and the Mets are hoping he earns a spot up for good as Cliff Floyd's replacement next year. I also think if the Mets are going to trade an outfielder, it will be Victor Diaz - with the way Xavier Nady has been playing, Diaz is very expendable. Look for a Milledge-Beltran-Nady outfield for the next 5+ years.
So that's my two cents - the Mets are going to add a pitcher at the deadline - there's no way they'll sit idly by. I just hope they don't deal a guy like Heilman, or Ring, in order to get someone else.
THE KID'S KIDS: The Mets won Friday night, 4-2, their second win in a row following a 5 game losing streak (part of which was due to the absence of manager and Hall of Famer Gary Carter). I think the ship has been righted again - in the second half of the season, the first half champions are 12-8, two-and-a-half games behind Daytona.
BEAT THE STREAK: I tried to ride Mark Teixeira's coattails, after his big 3-homer night on Thursday, but to no avail. He was 0-for-1 with a couple of walks. Darn. Back to the drawing board....I have Derek Jeter on Saturday.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
ARI: Thom Brennaman and Mark Grace on FSN Arizona.
I'm not a big fan of Brennaman and Grace. (Greg Schulte fills in for Brennaman when he's on assignment for Fox - but that doesn't make much of a difference - if my memory serves me correct, it's like he does a Brennaman impression when he's in the booth.) I've disliked Brennaman for years...it might stem from the time a friend of mine called him "Thom", pronouncing the "th" sound at the front of his name, saying that's why he didn't like him. My dislike of this broadcast team might also stem from their sideline reporter, who once interviewed a spelling bee champ during the game, and pretty much made fun of the kid. I also think Mark Grace is opinionated just to be opinionated, in the hopes that he can get his name in the paper just because he said something controversial - sort of like what Curt Schilling would be like if he was an analyst. Too many things working against this broadcast team that ends up distracting me from the game...which is a big, BIG negative. GRADE: D-
ATL: Skip Caray and Pete Van Weiren on TBS/Bob Rathbun and Jeff Torborg on FSN South. (I do believe there are others involved in the TBS broadcasts)
Skip and Pete drive me nuts. This could be because of the Braves' dominance over the years, and my dislike of watching them instead of New York announcers in the years before I had DirecTV. Also, Skip Caray falls into the same "Thanks, Dad" category of Joe Buck, Duke Castiglione, Kenny Albert, et al. I actually like Rathbun and Torborg - Torborg is a much better announcer than a manager. Now, it was announced over the All Star break that TBS is getting a bigger piece of the MLB television pie - I even think they're getting the Sunday night games, instead of ESPN. TBS's coverage is good, so this isn't a bad thing. I wonder, though, who the broadcasters will be - because this could be a disaster if it isn't the right guys. GRADE: C (TBS), B (FSN)
CHI: Len Kasper and Bob Brenly on WGN.
I don't spend much time watching games on WGN (see Chicago White Sox), so rarely do I catch Cubs games...although the Mets play the Cubs this weekend, so I might be able to update my reaction after the weekend. I can't offer full comment on these two, but I remember liking Brenly on Fox. I can't swear to it....but I think he was a decent analyst. GRADE: INCOMPLETE
CIN: George Grande and Chris Welsh on FSN Ohio.
Another dominant DirecTV choice (oops - explained that in the Rockies entry, which is next) - these guys are always on...and it's not a bad thing. You might remember Grande from the early days of ESPN...and I think he made a recent comeback on ESPN, or had the chance to, but chose to do Reds games, because it was his lifelong dream to do play-by-play. (Or maybe he just mentioned that when he was back for that big ESPN reunion a couple of years back...my memory is foggy on this.) Anyway, he's good at it, and he's got a good voice for it. Welsh is average...but he's not bad. GRADE: B-
COL: Drew Goodman and George Frazier on FSN Rocky Mountain.
I LOVE watching Rockies games. Goodman and Frazier are great. It's weird, because I wouldn't have expected to enjoy broadcasters for the Colorado Rockies....but they're funny, they have great chemistry, and they are very informative - a great recipe for great broadcasting. I should note here that with the DirecTV package, there are certain dominant channels, in other words - if the Rockies are playing, say, the Cubs, the Rockies' broadcast will be picked up. I'm not sure why or who makes that decision, but I get to watch a lot of Rockies' broadcasts. Goodman is just a good, solid broadcaster - he knows his stuff, and he doesn't get in the way of Frazier, who is one of the better color analysts I've seen. Frazier is very funny, but he gets serious when he needs to, and when they show him in the booth explaining the proper way to grip a pitch or do something, it's not just to show the booth - it's for a reason. So I guess the production team gets credit for that too. GRADE: A
FLA: Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton on FSN Florida.
About what you'd expect from the Florida Marlins - these guys must come cheap. (Although I get the impression that they've been there since the franchise's early days - at least Waltz has...which also might explain why they bore me...."Oh, no - don't get good, Marlins - they'll only break up the team again!" They must get tired of the Marlins' act as well.) Anyway, I don't like these guys. GRADE: D
HOU: Bill Brown and Jim DeShaies on FSN Houston.
The answer to the question "Whatever happened to Jim DeShaies?". I can't put together an honest report on the Astros' broadcasters. I like watching Astros games, for the most part, and I love watching games when they are home so I can see their ballpark. But as much as the Rockies' telecasts are dominant on the DirecTV package, the Astros games aren't. So I rarely get Brown and DeShaies. So this is an incomplete. GRADE: INCOMPLETE
LA: Vin Scully on FSN West.
I owe Vin Scully an apology. For years I've disliked him, because, along with my dad, I've been under the impression that he was anti-Mets during the 1986 World Series, which Scully broadcasted along with Joe Garagiola. 20 years later, upon watching that World Series again, I have come to realize a couple of things. 1) Maybe Scully was against the Mets - after all, they were not an easy team for non-New Yorkers to like. 2) Maybe Scully was caught up in the excitement of a possible historic Red Sox championship - their first in 68 years. So I can't really blame him for that. Therefore, Scully regains stature in my mind as one of the greatest broadcasters ever. Extra bonus points go to him because he does the games solo, and I think at times he is simultaneously the radio and television broadcaster. His distinctive voice, storytelling, and ability to keep the broadcast moving all by himself (despite the step or two he's lost as he ages) should be envied by all other play-by-play broadcasters. (When I was in LA, I found that Charley Steiner, after leaving the Yankees broadcasts, does either radio or local television for the Dodgers...but he doesn't factor into this rating....he'd probably result in the rating dropping a few notches.) GRADE: A
MIL: Daron Sutton and Bill Schroeder on FSN North (I think it's North).
There's something about these guys - I can't put my finger on it - but I like them. It's strange, because they have a lot of elements that would work against them in my grading system - they're homers (and it's worse because the play-by-play guy is more of a homer than the analyst, which I could almost stand), and they have an annoying sideline reporter who's more interested in schtick than the ball game. The broadcast can be very hokey - but I think that works for Milwaukee, and I enjoy watching Brewers games with these guys. They're not great - but they're enjoyable. I'll leave it at that. GRADE: B
NYM: Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez/Ron Darling on SNY.
About the only move SNY has gotten right in its infancy is Gary Cohen. He's the best in the business right now, no exaggeration. He's so good that sometimes I wish he was still doing radio - because it alomst seems his talents are slightly wasted on TV - but maybe he'll force TV to shift to great broadcasters instead of some made-for-TV clowns. Cohen has the national recognition, too - he was the main play-by-play guy for the national radio broadcasts of the NLCS the past couple of years. So the Mets have the number one guy in the play-by-play portion of their booth. I'm still trying to figure out Hernandez and Darling. I should start with the fact that I love that the Mets are incorporating these guys - because for too long it was Tom Seaver and only Tom Seaver from the Mets' past that they recognized. Sometimes it seemed like 1986 never happened. But in the past 5 or more years, the Mets have started to recognize and incorporate their 1980's ballplayers, in the broadcast booth, as minor league managers and instructors, etc. Hernandez did an awesome job when he first started, offering great insight where Fran Healy didn't. Lately, he seems to want to say something just for the sake of stirring things up - a la Mark Grace. Darling has done a better job than I expected after seeing him in Washington last year - and truth be told, sometimes I'd prefer him to Hernandez, just because of all the extra baggage that seems to follow Hernandez around these days (the female trainer incident, to name one). Darling also did a nice job of showcasing himself to the New England audience during an inning's work (maybe half an inning - I forget) on NESN during the Mets-Red Sox series. Overall, this group is much better than it used to be (see ya at the tennis matches, Ted Robinson), and though the analysts could stand to be better, nothing beats Gary Cohen. GRADE: A
PHI: Strangely, I haven't seen any Philadelphia broadcasts this season...or at least I haven't realized it if there has been. I think there is such a thing as FSN Philadelphia, and I feel like I've seen that before...but I can't recall seeing a Phillies game on their air. Or at least, I never took notes on it. GRADE: INCOMPLETE
PIT: Greg Brown and Bob Walk, Larry Fratturre and Steve Blass on FSN Pittsburgh.
I can't get the Pirates broadcasters straight. They're always on, but I can't figure out how often each guy does games. (Also, Larry Fratturre may not exist - I can't read my handwriting there. It's something close.) I guess I give the Pirates an "incomplete" grade. Maybe if they become more relevant I'll watch more telecasts. GRADE: INCOMPLETE
ST. L: Joe Buck and Al Hrabosky on FSN Midwest (with Dan McLaughlin filling in for Buck most weekends).
I don't like Buck. I can't really tell you why...could be because of the fact that he was bred for this job ever since he was a child, because of his dad, giving people like me one less job to choose from. Could be because he's a sell-out, doing adds for Budweiser and now Holiday Inn. Could be because sometimes during games he sounds bored, like, "Why am I here doing this God-forsaken game when I could be sitting at home sipping an iced tea?", while I would LOVE his assignment...or it could be a combination of all those things. Truth be told, when he decides to focus on the game, Buck isn't a bad broadcaster, and I find him more tolerable on the local Cardinal broadcasts than on the national FOX games. Hrabosky is a good analyst. McLaughlin does a good Buck impression while Buck is on assignment. But I'm not a fan...so he should try being himself. GRADE: B-
SD: When I was in San Diego, I saw that a lot of the games were on their local channel 4 when I was either out at dinner or inside the ballpark. I didn't get the two Mets games that I didn't attend on TV, because our hotel didn't have the channel they were on. And this channel never appears on the DirecTV package. So I haven't seen many (if any) San Diego telecasts. GRADE: INCOMPLETE
SF: Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow on FSN Bay Area.
And you thought these guys just did broadcasting for video games. I actually don't like them on the video game...but I really enjoy them in real life. This is an interesting duo - because they're both former players - teammates on the Giants in the mid-80's. And they both do a fine job broadcasting. The dual-player thing wouldn't work everywhere - it's not something I would enjoy if Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling were doing it - but it works very well for these two. Unfortunately, I don't watch too many Giants games because of Barry Bonds...but when I do, I like the broadcasters, at least. GRADE: B+
WAS: Bob Carpenter and Tom Paciorek on MASN.
There are things I like and don't like about this duo - in their first year in the Nationals' broadcast booth. The big thing I don't like is the homer-ism....where they (Paciorek, mostly) openly root for the Nationals...which wears thin quickly, especially when the Nats are doing poorly. But that's a minor thing, because I really like Paciorek, and sometimes it comes off as funny when he's doing it. He's very entertaining - and for all the homer-ism, he was very complimentary of the Mets and their moves when Washington was playing New York. (Bonus points in my book.) Carpenter is a very good broadcaster - I became used to him from his ESPN work, and it's comfortable hearing him on these telecasts. This is a good tandem. GRADE: A-
COMING UP: Back to baseball tomorrow - Mets and Cubs in a daytime tilt. I'll try to post right after the game...otherwise it'll be a late post - I'm going to a Worcester Tornadoes game Friday night.