Wednesday, August 30, 2006
The best record in the majors also has the Mets' magic number at 17, which you can see to the right. The Phillies keep on winning, delaying the inevitable (the Marlins keep winning, too, at a crazy pace - but that's neither here nor there).
Good news - it seems Colorado, where he always hits well, has broken David Wright out of his slump. He came through with a couple of big hits on Tuesday night, going 3-for-4, with 3 RBI, and a triple. And, like I said, the hits came at the right time, helping the Mets win, not coming in garbage time.
The only bad thing about Tuesday night's game was that Steve Trachsel again really made the Mets work for the win, tightroping his way through every inning, and definitely benefitting from the offense getting him 10 runs.
PERSONAL NOTE: As I suspected, things have gotten way busier than usual this week. (With summer vacation being the usual, I guess this was to be expected.) The 9 o'clock start times for the Mets haven't helped matters. I should be able to do some writing this weekend, and next week I hope, with some 7 o'clock starts again, to do some late-game (at least) or post-game postings.
WILLY OR WON'T HE: He didn't.
THE KID'S KIDS: The weather in Florida (read: hurricane) has forced the postponement of yet another St. Lucie Mets game. The Mets and Palm Beach played a doubleheader Tuesday, which they split, so the standings for the second half, coming right down to the wire, have Daytona and Palm Beach tied, with St. Lucie a game back.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Norfolk's game was also postponed Wednesday, but on Tuesday night, Edgardo Alfonzo had a big night as part of the Tides' 17-hit, 10-run attack. Alfonzo was 3-for-4, with 2 doubles and a homer, driving in three, and scoring thrice. He also walked. No word on whether he'll be called up this weekend...but we'll keep you posted.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Sunday's rainout was rescheduled for Monday at noon. Everywhere I looked, I saw that the Mets and Phillies would be playing the makeup game (which was supposed to be on local TV in New York) on Channel 11. So I was resigned to not watching the game on Monday, the last day of my summer vacation. Just for the heck of it, though, on the off chance there was a mistake, I turned on SNY at noon, to make sure I didn't miss anything. And the game came on.
The only explanation I can think of is that this is my reward. I worked very hard all summer, preparing the nursery for the baby, instead of being lazy and sleeping until noon. Fate has shined kindly upon me. So though there's no one in the crowd at Shea, and though the weather is kind of crappy, I can't think of a better way to spend my last day of summer vacation, before getting back to the school year Tuesday.
To cap it all off, the Mets crushed the Phillies, 8-3, finishing off their 9-game homestand with an 8-1 record. The game was pretty much decided in the third inning, when the Mets touched up Jamie Moyer for 6 runs, keyed by a throwing error by Phillies catcher Chris Coste. The thing about the error, though, was that it was manufactured by the Mets. To wit:
Endy Chavez led off the inning with a single, and John Maine bunted. Coste tried to throw out Chavez at second, but his throw was off line, and everyone was safe. It's Chavez's speed that caused that error. The rest of the inning was manufactured as well. Jose Reyes followed with a bunt base hit, loading the bases. Paul LoDuca hit a run-scoring single, aided by Reyes shielding Ryan Howard from the ground ball, 1-0 Mets. After Carlos Beltran grounded into a fielder's choice (the out at home), Carlos Delgado singled up the middle, scoring 2. 3-0, Mets.
Then one of the more strange events in baseball occurred - David Wright hit a grounder over third base. It appeared to hit the bag, but I'm not positive it did. Third base umpired Randy Marsh called it a foul ball, then after the Mets complained, and the umps conferred, and about 5 minutes passed, and Charlie Manuel was ejected, Marsh overturned the call, Wright was sent to first, Beltran was sent home, and Wright had an RBI single. 4-0, Mets.
Shawn Green crushed a double to right, making it 5-0, and Chris Woodward hit a sac fly to make it 6-0. And the game was over, for all intents and purposes.
John Maine went 6-and-a-third, giving up 2 runs, and Roberto Hernandez again pitched well, coming on in the seventh with two men on and getting two straight outs. Maine is now 4-3, and pitched very well after getting torched by Saint Louis in his last start.
I wonder if/hope the overturned call is one of those crazy things that gets a player going during a slump. David Wright is now hitting .294 (.241, 2 HR since the All-Star break), but everyone is rooting for him to break the slump. He even got help from a teammate in the seventh inning, and I think this is a sign of the type of team chemistry the Mets have. In the seventh inning, the Mets led, 7-2, and Carlos Beltran stole third base, so he's on third, with Wright up. Wright hit one really hard, but like most of his contact lately, hit it right at the left fielder. So the left fielder catches it, and isn't too deep, but Beltran tagged up and scored. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, and he would have done this anyway, but I think Beltran was trying to get Wright an RBI, and also keeping another hitless at-bat off Wright's records (a SAC fly doesn't count as an at-bat). That's what I think. And that's what I'm going with.
The Mets start a road trip Tuesday night in Colorado, where the past couple of years they've pretty much dominated. Tuesday night is Steve Trachsel against Byung-Hyun Kim. This is an eventful road trip because Tom Glavine is scheduled to start Friday in Houston, and Pedro Martinez* is eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday (though I don't know when he will). The other thing about this road trip is that it's full of 9 o'clock and 8 o'clock starts, so there will be late finishes. I will be writing this week, but not post-games. School is starting, and I need to get into the habit of going to bed right after the games. So I can't write then. Maybe I'll write during games, maybe I'll do next-day recaps. Not sure. But just be aware of that.
MAGIC NUMBER: The magic number is now 18, and this is what I think of when I put "18" and "Mets" into the search engine of my mind. So this is what I use to represent the Mets' magic number. Philadelphia is now a game and a half in front of the Marlins, so there's a chance before the end of the week we'll have to start watching the Marlins' scoreboard. The Marlins finish a series with the Brewers on Monday, then go to Saint Louis. The Phillies are in Washington starting Tuesday. The Mets need to win to decrease the number, because I don't think they're going to get much help in the magic number department from the Nationals.
ROCKIES START: The Mets will see Kaz Matsui when they start their series with the Rockies (remember, they traded Matsui for Eli Marrero early in the year), and after spending a lot of time in the minors, Matsui has been up for Colorado the past week (he came up after the Rockies visited the Mets - the Rockies didn't want Matsui to be with them in a most-likely hostile New York). In 5 games, Matsui is hitting .471 (7-for-17), with a double, stolen base, and 5 runs scored. He's been playing mostly shortstop, and hit leadoff for the Rockies in their last three games. So we'll keep an eye on that in the upcoming series.
WILLY OR WON'T HE: New Feature. We can't ignore Willy Tavares and his 30-game hitting streak. I'll update as much as I can, depending on early start times and at what point of his games he gets hits. (And by the way, despite the title of this new feature, I strongly feel that he won't.) (Also, by the way, not having to do 'Beat the Streak' anymore really lifts a huge weight off my shoulders.)
THE KID'S KIDS: The St. Lucie Mets dropped three out of four to Daytona this weekend, so they begin play Monday a game-and-a-half behind Daytona for the second-half division lead. There's only about a week-and-a-half left in the season, and the Mets have some make-up games to take care of, including a doubleheader with Palm Beach Monday and Wednesday.
In Monday's games, Palm Beach beat St. Lucie in Game 1, 6-2. That win pulled Palm Beach into a tie with St. Lucie for second place, a game behind Daytona. Palm Beach also won Game 2, 4-1, and Daytona lost 8-1. So right now, Palm Beach is tied with Daytona for first place in the second half, and the Mets are a game back. (Brevard County is next closest, 7 games back, so we only have to worry about the top three.)
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Another 0-for-3 for Edgardo Alfonzo (he was also 0-for-3 on Sunday) - his average is now .246. And I missed something somewhere, because Lastings Milledge was leading off for the Tides...did he get sent down when the Mets acquired Shawn Green? I'm going to look it up now.....I guess he was sent down last Thursday or Friday, when Brian Bannister was activated. Sorry for missing that.
Friday, August 25, 2006
5 times the New York Mets had won 11 straight home games. 5 times they had failed to win a twelfth. Add the current streak, just ended Friday night, to that list.
The Phillies snapped the Mets' franchise record-tying 11 game winning streak at Shea, and the Mets' 7-game winning streak overall, with a 4-3 win. The Mets hadn't lost since losing three out of four to the Phillies in Philadelphia last week. But the Phillies don't scare me. They're just playing some good baseball right now, and are playing some desperate baseball as well. They'll fade soon.
They also had Randy Wolf on the mound, and he has owned the Mets. He pitched very well again on Friday, holding the Mets after being staked to a 3-0 lead.
Brian Bannister was the Mets' starter, and he gave up those 4 runs - 2 coming in the first, and 2 coming in the third on a Ryan Howard homer. The Mets blew a couple of chances to get back into the game, with David Wright stranding some runners, and now showing some extreme frustration at this slump. He's 0-for-his-last-24 or so against lefties - he used to own lefties, so I'm not sure I understand what's going on there.
All told, Bannister pitched pretty well for his first game back, going 6 innings, giving up those 4 runs. Carlos Beltran was responsible for most of the Mets' offense, hitting a 2-run homer (his 37th) off Wolf in the 5th inning.
A scary moment came when Jose Reyes stole second base - sliding headfirst, and jamming his hand agianst Jimmy Rollins' foot. Reyes shook the hand through the rest of the inning, but played the rest of the game - we'll have to keep an eye on whether or not that acts up on him again.
The Mets look set to have their 13th starting pitcher of the year on Saturday night, and it looks like Oliver Perez will be called up to pitch against the Phillies. Bannister might be sent down to make room for Perez. At least the Mets have the opportunity, with their big lead, to take a long look at these other pitchers.
MAGIC NUMBER: The number is stalled at 22.
THE KID'S KIDS: A doubleheader for the St. Lucie Mets and Daytona. The Mets won game 1, 4-2, ensuring that they could not finish the night out of first place (entering the night with a half-game lead). The Mets scored 4 runs in the final two innings to come from behind and win.
In game 2, Daytona returned the favor, with a 4-2 win, so it's like nothing happened. St. Lucie still holds a half-game lead in the second half.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Starting at third base, Edgardo Alfonzo was 2-for-4 for the Tides, with a double. He's now hitting .258. September 1st is in a week- we'll see if this is enough for Alfonzo to make the team when the rosters expand.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
It's called a scratch-out, I think, where you write something
The Mets beat the
I owe a huge apology to Dave Williams. Maybe he needs to be on a good team to pitch well. Because that's all he's done in his past two starts as a Met - pitching very well. Williams gave up just 2 runs in 6-and-a-third innings, improving to 3-3 on the season with the win. Roberto Hernandez put in 1-and-2-thirds of scoreless relief - by far his best outing since re-joining the Mets. Billy Wagner was ready to go in the ninth with the Mets up 5-2, but the Mets scored in the bottom of the eighth, negating the save situation, so Guillermo Mota pitched the ninth - and he looked very good.
The Mets got another homer from Carlos Delgado, his 32nd of the year, a 2-run shot in the 5th inning to break the game open (right after the Cardinals had cut the Mets' lead to 3-2). David Wright is swinging the bat better - he was 1-for-3 with an RBI, flying out to the warning track in right field with the bases loaded, barely missing another Mets' grand slam (it was a sac fly).
The Mets' defense looked good, too. In the 4th, the Mets made back-to-back defensive gems. Endy Chavez ran down a fly ball, making a very tough catch look routine in left field (he did this in the 5th inning, too), and David Wright ended the inning diving to his left to snag a grounder, and getting the force at second (he also made a nice stab later in the game). Everything is clicking again for the Mets right now.
New Met Shawn Green even got in on the act in his first game, going 1-for-3, with an RBI single.
Friday night the Mets begin another series with the Phillies. Orlando Hernandez was scheduled to make the start, but the Mets decided to take advantage of their big lead and give him some rest. I guess that's the luxury of the situation they are in...but it's still a little sudden. Willie Randolph insists it's a precaution. Brian Bannister will get the start instead, which is exciting.
MAGIC NUMBER: For the first time, I heard a broadcaster (Gary Cohen) mention the magic number - after the Mets' win on Thursday night. I also saw it posted on another blogger's site. But I'm pretty sure I was the first. Just saying. The number is down to 22! The Mets win, coupled with the Cubs pummeling the Phillies Thursday afternoon, results in a 2-game swing. Just saying again...If the Mets sweep the Phillies this weekend, it could go down to 16.
INJURY UPDATE: I've been forgetting to mention this, and it's about a week old now, but there's an update. Last week, Ramon Castro was set to begin his rehab with the Brooklyn Cyclones, but twisted his knee while stretching, and was on crutches at the end of the game. It was thought to be serious, turns out it was. Castro has now been placed on the 60-day DL, so his season is probably over. The Mets made a move Thursday, signing Kelly Stinnett to a minor league contract. Stinnett started his career with the Mets, and found success with Arizona. If he can
BOSTON MEDIA: There's much going on right now regarding the Red Sox. First of all, their season is tanking, which hasn't happened in about 5 years this early, so the Boston media is loving it. (This city thrives more on failure than success. Really.) And
So after Wednesday night's game, David Ortiz rips into the media, saying they're reporting rumor about Manny, and they're not doing their jobs responsibly, in so many words. I say, good for Ortiz, calling out the Boston media, because this is what they do - overblow stories, especially when Manny is involved. There are a couple of problems, though. First of all, this happened after a west coast game, so there's not a lot of write-up in the papers. There probably will be on Friday, but there's the chance this will die down by then (doubtful). The other problem is that Ortiz has the chance of being KILLED in the Boston media (I don't listen to local talk radio, because they're a bunch of morons, but I'm sure he's taking some abuse there today). He has the chance of being KILLED 1) because the media types have the power of the pen, and they don't like being insulted, even if a guy like Ortiz is speaking the truth, and 2) there's a chance Ortiz is siding with the wrong horse. He's friends with Manny, I know that. And I believe that Manny is hurt. BUT....I wouldn't put it past Manny that he would sit out a game because of an official scorer's decision. What I'm saying is, it could have happened. And that's enough to drain all the credibility out of Ortiz's statements.
I just wanted to address that, because the Boston media drives me nuts. So this story struck a nerve. I'll follow up if it merits a follow-up in the coming days.
THE KID'S KIDS: The doubleheaders are scheduled, after the past three games for the St. Lucie Mets were rained out. The Mets will play doubleheaders against Palm Beach next Monday and Wednesday. That's right at the end of the season, so my guess is Hall of Famer Gary Carter won't mess too much with his pitching for that doubleheader, making sure guys are in shape for the playoffs. Remember, the Mets have already clinched the first-half division title, so they probably won't worry too much about winning the second half, if it came down to that or being in good shape for the playoffs.
As for Thursday night, the Mets began a 4-game series with second-place Daytona. Daytona edged the Mets, 2-1, to move to within a half-game of the second-half division lead.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: A start at second base for Edgardo Alfonzo, and he didn't fare as well as he's been doing. His average is back down to .250, after an 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
It's just so unfair that Steve Trachsel is 13-5, and the Mets couldn't get any wins early in the season for Pedro Martinez*, and for Tom Glavine towards the middle of the season. Pedro* had the good stretch, then went bad, and the Mets couldn't win for him either time. Same with Glavine after he got out to 10, 11 wins - when he pitched poorly he lost, when he pitched well he got a no decision.
Now here's Trachsel, who hasn't had much of a good stretch all season - not better than average all year, and he's right behind the league leaders in wins (which is another sad commentary on the National League). Trachsel gave up 6 runs in 5 innings, for an even ERA of 5.00 on the year. All he did Wednesday night was nearly blow a huge lead.
The Mets had leads of 4-0, 7-2, and 10-2 in this one - and won by a score of 10-8. THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED, Jose Reyes, was 3-for-4, with a 3-run homer. The homer made him only the second player since 1900 with 15 HR, 15 triples, 50 SB, and 20 doubles in a season - the other person, believe it or not, was Juan Samuel.
I didn't have time to mention it in Tuesday's posting, but David Wright's average dropped to .299 after Tuesday's game. Wednesday he showed signs of life, with a 2-run double, going 1-for-4 - he's now hitting .298. Billy Wagner finished off a parade of Mets relievers (Roberto Hernandez, Pedro Feliciano, Chad Bradford, Aaron Heilman, and Wagner) with another good 9th inning for his 32nd save.
I'd say the past two games should go a long way to re-establishing the Mets as the best team in the National League, but I think they moreso served the purpose of helping people realize that the Cardinals aren't the second-best team in the National League anymore.
The Mets go for the sweep on Thursday night as Dave Williams looks to follow up his solid start last Saturday against Jason Marquis (who has been less than underwhelming this year).
P.S. - the Mets celebrated Julio Franco's (alleged) 48th birthday before the game with a cake on the field.
MAGIC NUMBER: The Phillies won their fifth in a row, 2-1 over the Cubs, getting a run in the ninth to win it after the Cubs tied it in the bottom of the eighth. I still think the Phils will cool down soon - and perhaps the Mets will be the team to do it this weekend at Shea. It'll be interesting to see how the Mets play Philadelphia this weekend - the past two series with Philly have been very tough for the Mets. Anyway, the Phillies are hot now, and have been able to keep pace with the Mets, so the magic number only goes down by 1 - to 24.
Also, the Phillies are now just a game-and-a-half behind the Reds for the wild card. They can NOT keep this up. There's no way. They'll find some way to fall apart.
PEDRO* UPDATE: There was a quick mention in the New York Daily News on Wednesday that Pedro Martinez* is feeling very good, and that his calf is pretty much healed. The writer was quick to point out that it doesn't take much to put Pedro* in a good mood, but the fact that he's bouncing around and happy while injured is a good sign. Looks like Pedro* and Glavine still will be the Mets' 1-2 punch in the post-season.
THE KID'S KIDS: Another rainout for St. Lucie (2nd in a row). For the season they're 33-24, a game and a half ahead of Daytona, in first place in the second half of the season. There are only about 13 games left in the regular season - and now the Mets are faced with a number of doubleheaders.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: The Tides got their game in, and Edgardo Alfonzo started at 3B again. He was 2-for-4 with a double and 3 RBI (15 now), raising his average to .259.
I updated the Jets site, in case you're interested. I can't promise that I'll do a very good job with that this football season, but I'll keep you posted here if you should be checking over there.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Tuesday night's game is pretty much a microcosm of my feelings about the way the Mets match up with the Cardinals. The only person in that lineup that can beat you is Albert Pujols, which John Maine let happen (twice), and the Cardinals' bullpen stinks. The unfortunate thing is that the Cardinals are very beatable - because of that, their lead in the NL Central is now down to one game over the Reds, and they are in serious trouble when it comes to making the post-season.
John Maine was the starter for the Mets, and he had a bad outing, mostly because of Pujols...but also because he let baserunners on ahead of Pujols. Pujols hit a 3-run homer and a grand slam off Maine, accounting for the entire Cardinals offense (this all came after Maine retired the first nine batters he faced). Lucky for the Mets, Jeff Weaver was the Cardinals' starter, and he gave up two homers to Carlos Delgado - a solo shot and the Mets' team-record 9th grand slam of the year (as well as Delgado's 400th career homer). That narrowed the gap to 7-5, which the Mets got to 7-6 in the 6th.
It stayed that way into the ninth (despite my prayers that the Mets would rock Braden Looper in the 8th inning), when ineffective closer Jason Isringhausen came on for St. Louis. After getting Jose Reyes to ground out, Isringhausen gave up a single to Paul LoDuca, then Carlos Beltran ripped a game-winning homer over the right field wall.
It was an exciting win for the Mets, and it was the type of game where you felt the Mets would come back and win, or at least I did, because of what I've been seeing with the Cardinals' bullpen all year. The interesting thing from this game was the post-game quotes, too, because Beltran talked about how the winner of this series is making a statement. That's good that the Mets are going out to show that they are the best team in the National League - it would be embarrassing for them to lose this series to the Cardinals.
This is a relatively tough stretch for the Mets. After 3 with St. Louis, the Mets host Philadelphia (no doubt looking for revenge for last week's 3 out of 4 series win by the Phillies). Then the Mets go to surprisingly tough Colorado (who they just swept in New York), then they go to Houston before coming back home to take on Atlanta and the Dodgers. Those are some of the better teams in the National League, and it would be fitting that the Mets clinch the division against one of those teams, putting an exclamation point on the Mets' dominance over the National League. (The Atlanta series is September 4, 5, and 6th, too early for a clinching - but wouldn't that have been awesome if the Mets could celebrate the division championship in front of Atlanta.)
Steve Trachsel takes on Mark Mulder in game 2 of the St. Louis series on Wednesday night.
MAGIC NUMBER: The Phillies beat the Cubs on Tuesday night, for the second night in a row, so the Mets' Magic Number only decreases by one. The Phillies can't stay as hot as they've been - I expect this number to start dropping a lot very soon.
GOOD NEWS FOR GLAVINE: I guess it pays to be an optimist. Turns out Tom Glavine will not have to undergo surgery, and will only miss 7-10 days, which is nothing compared to the worst-case scenarios that were being laid out for Glavine. And at his age, a 7-10 day period of rest for his arm isn't the worst thing to happen to the Mets.
GREEN'S GANG: The Mets acquired Shawn Green from the Diamondbacks on Tuesday. Green hasn't been playing much lately, since the Diamondbacks are giving playing time to a youngster, and he's been unhappy about that. The Mets gave up minor league pitcher Evan McLane (who I saw pitch for the Tides at Pawtucket earlier this season on the johnnymets.blogspot.com Lastings Milledge scouting trip). But in order to make room on the 40-man roster for Green, the Mets had to designate Victor Diaz for assignment - so I think another team can pick him up, but if he doesn't get picked up in 10 days, the Mets will retain him. There's a lot of potential in Diaz, but I guess he won't reach it as a Met...what with Milledge, Beltran, and whoever else in their outfield, Diaz was probably destined to be a career minor leaguer in the Mets' organization.
I'm not too crazy about the Mets adding Green. It doesn't seem like something they need right now - but he can change my mind if he plays like the Shawn Green of a few years back, rather than the one of the past couple of years.
THE KID'S KIDS/ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: The rare double minor league rainout. Both the St. Lucie Mets and the Norfolk Tides had their games postponed due to rain on Tuesday night.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
First off, I feel like I need to say that when I mentioned about a month ago that Glavine needed to come up with a mysterious injury that would land him on the DL for an extended period of rest, this is NOT what I had in mind. That was written in jest, meaning a rest of two weeks would do Glavine some good as the Mets prepared for October. Now, with tests due on Glavine's shoulder, nothing is certain regarding Glavine.
This is a huge blow to the Mets. Their pitching was shaky before this happened, now it's downright trembling. The Mets will send John Maine, Steve Trachsel, and Dave Williams to the mound in the upcoming series against St. Louis (at Shea). Orlando Hernandez is in the rotation, and the question is who will fill Glavine's spot the next time that comes around. Oliver Perez is a possibility, so is Brian Bannister. Mike Pelfrey will probably be back in the majors after September 1st, but he's nursing an injury right now. You know what would have been great? If the Mets could have gotten Jamie Moyer, who went to the Phillies in a waiver wire deal over the weekend. I don't know that Moyer would have gotten all the way through to the Mets (probably not), but he would have been ideal for a team desperate for starting pitching.
As I wrote Sunday, the Mets need top-notch performances from the above-mentioned guys for the rest of the season (a la Dave Williams' [surprising] outing Saturday against Colorado, or El Duque's on Sunday). And they need Pedro Martinez* to come back healthy. A healthy Pedro* goes a long way to making up for a lack of Tom Glavine.
And the other big point is this - the Mets' lineup hasn't been affected. It will only get better when Cliff Floyd is back, and when the likes of David Wright start hitting consistently. And the pitching around the league isn't much better than the Mets' pitching, so the offense could make up for the lack of pitching.
The one last major point that I want to bring up is that despite the recent string of injuries, the Mets are lucky. They have the luxury of a 14 game lead in the National League East. Their magic number is 26. They are going to win the division, no matter what happens the rest of the way. And they're going to win the division with plenty of time to line up their pitchers, rest players, and test out some arms, to see who can help them come playoff time. That's a huge advantage. Most of September can be like it has been the past few years for the Mets - a chance to see what they have. The difference is that instead of seeing what they have for the future, the Mets will be division champions, seeing what they have for the playoffs.
I am a positive person. I like to look on the bright side of things. I am hopeful that Glavine will get good news about his arm, and be cleared to play in a couple of weeks. But I am aware that the Mets, a lock for the World Series not too long ago, are no longer a lock. There's a very good chance this season will come to a disappointing end in the National League playoffs, and they might not make the World Series. But I also feel that with the pieces the Mets have right now, they can still compete against the best in the NL in the playoffs, and with the Mets' offense, they can hold their own in the World Series against the best of the AL.
This week will show what the Mets have - they are a better team than the St. Louis Cardinals. They need to go out and prove that, and inch closer to a pressure-free September, with a pressure-packed October still looming in the not-too-distant future.
MORE ON THE 1986 METS REUNION: In the last posting I talked about how the 1986 Mets came out through the stands down to their places on the field. I wanted to show you how that looked - and where I wish I was sitting (click on the picture so you don't strain your eyes).
BLUE JAY WAY: Yikes. Manager on the hot seat: John Gibbons. The former Met is losing his team north of the border. A month or so after he challenged Shea Hillenbrand to a fight in the clubhouse, Gibbons got into an argument with Ted Lilly on the mound during a pitching change, then apparently got into a fight with Lilly in the clubhouse (this is speculation on my part - but Gibbons went down into the tunnel with Lilly, soon after a bunch of players followed them from the dugout, and Gibbons was later seen with a bloody nose). That's not the way a manager should be leading his team...actually, it's better than the guys who let the players run the show...but it probably won't keep Gibbons in charge for long.
THE KID'S KIDS: The St. Lucie Mets beat Palm Beach, 9-2 Monday night, to increase their lead to 2 games over Palm Beach. Daytona won, keeping pace with St. Lucie, to stay a game-and-a-half back.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Norfolk had a doubleheader on Monday against Charlotte, and Edgardo Alfonzo started Game 1 at third base, going 0-for-3 with his 12th RBI. His average is now at .260. He also started Game 2 at third, and is 0-for-2 at this writing, with the game in the 4th inning.
NEW METS STADIUM ON THE WAY: As you know, the Mets will begin construction soon on their new stadium, which will be opening for the 2009 season. I'm very excited about that, and Saturday night I had visual proof that the pieces are in place for the groundbreaking. Here is that proof:
The scene behind center field - where construction will soon begin on the Mets' new stadium.
A quick posting on Sunday's game, and the current state of the Mets, the updated Magic Number, and minor league news, then at the bottom I'll recap Saturday night.
The big news for the Mets is that Tom Glavine is out indefinitely right now. Glavine will be undergoing some tests on what is said to be a blood clot in his shoulder. This could be a minor thing that could be removed, and Glavine could be back in a couple of weeks. It could be a major thing, which could be season-ending, possibly career-threatening, and maybe even life-threatening. Obviously, that would have a major impact on Glavine and the Mets. More details will surface in the coming days, as Glavine gets these tests and test results.
For now, here's what this means for the Mets. The Mets need El Duque to continue to step up. They need John Maine to continue to pitch well. They need Dave Williams to pitch like he did Saturday night. They need Brian Bannister to be very good, like he was in his first couple of starts, and recently in rehab, and they need Oliver Perez to be as dominant as he has been in his past two Triple-A starts. They also need Mike Pelfrey to pitch like he did when he was up - well enough to keep the Mets in games. And they need Steve Trachsel to step up big time. He needs more outings like his last one, where he gives up 3 runs over 7, not 5 runs in 5 innings. (The Mets also need Pedro Martinez* to come back healthy and be effective for the rest of the season).
Now, if the Mets keep getting pitching performances out of every pitcher like El Duque gave them on Sunday, they'll be OK. Orlando Hernandez went 6 shutout innings, striking out 8, and got relief from Chad Bradford, Aaron Heilman, and Billy Wagner (save # 31) in the Mets' 2-0 win.
And the loss of Glavine doesn't affect the Mets' lineup, which continues to show signs of life. The Carloses - Delgado and Beltran - provided the Mets' offense, with each hitting a solo homer. After a long RBI drought, Beltran is now at 101 RBI. If the Mets start to hit again, they can easily outscore their opponents.
The Mets can survive this blow. It definitely hurts their championship chances. But like I said, the Mets' lineup hasn't been hurt, so they can still score runs (it can actually get even better, when Cliff Floyd comes back - that can only help the likes of David Wright in the lineup). And the Mets have some capable pitchers. Best-case scenario, both Pedro* and Glavine are back for the playoffs. Worst-case scenario, both don't. Medium-case - one is back, the other isn't. No matter what the scenario, the Mets need contributions from the other pitchers in their rotation - they might just be depending on them more than they thought.
I'll have more on this situation Monday - an off-day. For now, I'll continue with the regular feaetures:
MAGIC NUMBER: The 3-game sweep of the Rockies helped, but the Phillies bounced back from a game 1 loss to Washington to take 2 out of 3. So 28 became 27 on Saturday, and 27 became 26 on Sunday. The Phillies are in Chicago beginning Monday night - so there's a chance the number can get to 25 before the Mets take the field again.
METS MOVE: The Mets acquired reliever Guillermo Mota from the Indians in exchange for a player to be named later. I'm not crazy about this move, but the Mets do need bullpen help. Those are going to be some tired arms out there. The problem is, the Mets could use effective bullpen help, and I'm not sure Mota provides that. The former Dodger and Marlin is probably best remembered by Mets fans for throwing in on Mike Piazza multiple times in spring training, then weaseling his way out of a fight with Piazza. The positive news, I guess, is that I think Mota was more effective in the National League than the American League.
THE KID'S KIDS: The St. Lucie Mets lost without Hall of Famer Gary Carter at the helm on Saturday, but they still had a half-game lead in the division. More on Monday.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Edgardo Alfonzo was 1-for-3 (to hit .276) in Saturday's 1-0 win - a combined 1-hitter for starter Oliver Perez. On Sunday, he was working on an 0-for-3 when I posted.
As I mentioned most of last week, I was at the Mets' 1986 championship reunion on Saturday night. And it was pretty awesome. Full disclosure - it poured during the ceremony, which didn't really bother me. But the rain became bothersome while we waited roughly 35 minutes for the field to be made ready for the game, following the ceremony. Plus the wind in the upper deck. We watched the first inning from the concourse, on television, then my dad and I decided to go home (we were taking the train, because parking is so tough, because of the pending construction of the new stadium - more on that tomorrow). So we saw the awesome comeback on TV back in my parents' house, but I saw what I wanted to see - my boyhood heroes back in the same place they became my boyhood heroes.
(Roger McDowell, Davey Johnson, Dwight Gooden, and Ray Knight were just about the only notable absentees from the ceremony. I heard on Ed Randall's Talking Baseball Sunday morning, on my way back from New York, that Barry Lyons was there, but he wasn't part of the on-field celebration because he wasn't on the 1986 post-season roster. That's a crying shame. He was a part of that team - so much so that when I played on my first traveling baseball team, I was disappointed that I didn't get 8, Gary Carter's number, but when I got #33, I said, "I'll take it - Barry Lyons, another catcher." So that shows how much a part of the team he was. The Mets always find a way to screw up something nice.) Anyway, without further ado - some pictures from the big night (we were in the upper deck, but some of these pictures actually came out better than I expected - I think if you click them you'll get bigger images. Enjoy.):
The Championship Trophy was in attendance - positioned behind host Howie Rose, seen to the right on the DiamondVision scoreboard. Rose introduced each player - and the players came onto the field through the field level stands. I wish I was sitting in the field level seats.....
I love Gary Carter. I can't help it - he's my friggin' baseball hero. For me as a kid, everything revolved around Carter. One of my biggest regrets of adulthood (which has gone quite swimmingly overall) is that I couldn't make his Hall of Fame induction - there was a conflict that weekend. I had said ever since I was very young that I would drive my dad to Cooperstown the day Carter was inducted. Turns out, I don't know if we would have been able to get a hotel, and it would probably have been a large pain to go - but I held out hope we could go until the last minute. I still regret it. But I was at his Mets' Hall of Fame induction, and I was at the 1986 reunion, and here he is taking the field. It gives me chills to hear people cheer for him still. I'll have a very hard time rooting against him as a Major League manager.
Gary Carter was the second-to-last member of the team introduced - Darryl Strawberry got the loudest cheer, and was the last person introduced. It was good that he came - a dispute with Mets management almost kept him from appearing (rumored to be why Ray Knight wasn't there). This is what it looked like - you can see Strawberry's #18 being flipped up in the top left corner. The rest of the players were lined up on the other side of the field. This probably would have looked better without the big white tarp under that logo, but it was pouring, so I guess they had to bring out the tarp. Top right you can see the golf cart which 1986 GM Frank Cashen was riding in. He's old.
This was pretty awesome - at right. The Mets re-enacted one of the most famous scenes of the 1986 World Series, with a parachutist landing on the field, a la Game 6. This guy was a trained professional, though - not a stunt guy. Some feat, too - it was really, really windy inside Shea. But he maneuvered himself right down onto the outfield grass.
It was a great ceremony - well worth the trip down, even after setting a record for "earliest I've ever left a Mets game".
I mentioned the Mets were wearing 1986 uniforms. You can probably see them better in a newspaper or something, but click on the picture and you can at least see the racing stripes down the side. I maintain the only thing that would have been better was having this during a game against the likes of the Astros or Cardinals - or at least someone with throwback uniforms.
P.S. - "Let's Go Mets!", the song the Mets recorded in 1986, was played throughout the night, as were other hits from 1986.
Let's Go Mets Go!!!! Do it (bring it home), do it (bring it home)....we'll make it happen! Let's Go Mets!
Friday, August 18, 2006
It's like Monday through Wednesday never happened. The Rockies are just about as good as the Phillies, and the Mets played the type of game Friday night against Colorado that they should have played all week against Philadelphia.
Steve Trachsel was good (again, good, not great), pitching 7 innings, giving up 7 hits and three walks. He always seems to be getting himself into jams, though. Despite the 12-5 record, I just don't have a lot of confidence in Trachsel.
The Mets' bats are continuing to come alive. Friday night it was future Hall of Famer David Wright who showed signs of life, going 2-for-4, doubling, with 2 RBI - his first big hit in a while. Endy Chavez (2-for-4) had the big blow in this one, homering off Byung-Hyun Kim to tie the game early on. Chris Woodward was also 2-for-2, filling in for Jose Valentin, who left Thursday's game in Philadelphia with a small injury (I think it's small). Woodward hasn't played well all year, so we'll take what we can get from him.
Dave Williams will be up from Norfolk to make Saturday night's start - hope he can at least keep the Mets in the game, so we won't have to leave a Rockies blowout early. The Mets will also be wearing 1986 uniforms for the Saturday and Sunday games - another reason I don't understand why they didn't pick a team that existed in 1986 to play this reunion game against, so they could wear throwbacks too.
MAGIC NUMBER: A tough loss for the Phillies Friday night, but I don't care, because it means the Magic Number goes down by 2 instead of just 1! We're now inside of 30 - down to 28. The Nationals beat the Phillies, 6-4, in Philadelphia. That's a bad loss for Philly, especially coming off such a successful series against the Mets. But, like I said, it doesn't matter to me.
MAIL CALL: With the fantasy football draft in the morning, I'm still without a team name. Apparently, my readers have trouble keeping their suggestions for team names clean, because I received very few suggestions. I did like the Southern Bureau's suggestion: "Fallopian Swim Team", but I don't think that will make the cut. No shortage of suggestions from my cousin Eddie: Here's the e-mail I got from him:
Here are some names for your fantasy team as you requested on your mets blog.
"Spit up, dirty diapers, and sleepless nights, oh my!!" (no explanation needed)
"Waaaaa!!" (Baby's 1st words when he gets a look at your roster)
"The Prodigy" (Refers to next year's team that the baby picks by spitting up on the player he/she wants. This is the 1st time one of Johnny's teams makes the playoffs.)
"Patets" (Combo of the Patriots and Jets- Nickname would be Patsies which is quite appropriate for your fantasy team)
Non baby names you could use:
"At Least I Can Spell" (John digs back into the past to try to change his luck)
"Winless in October" (no explanation needed- most people already know the Mets don't have a chance when they get to October; also approproate for your fantasy team)
"T.O's Hammy" (Your team will gimp through the season just as your star player will)
Well, at least someone put some thought into my query. I'm not going with any of these either. Although, "At Least I Can Spell" has some potential. I'm not feeling too confident about this year's team....I don't pick until #13 overall....I hope I can salvage some good players. I really can't wait for fantasy football season to get underway.
I've had to reject some of my own ideas, too. The Wife came up with "The Very Hungry Caterpillars", which would have been awesome, but it's too long to fit in Yahoo!. I might go with The VHCaterpillars. (It's a popular children's book.) Then there was "Goodnight (Warren) Moon", my idea - but again, more than the required 20 characters. I also thought about "The Cat in the Helmet", a play on the Cat in the Hat, but that one just isn't very good.
Official word: I'm going with the "Hungry Caterpillars".
FROM THE WORLD OF PRINT JOURNALISM: The newest "can't miss" show in the House Sponsored by DirecTV (and supported by TiVo) is "Tabloid Wars", Bravo's reality show, which follows reporters from the New York Daily News as they do their job. This show fascinates me because I'm not too familiar with the print world - I had my sights set on the television world after high school, so I'm not too familiar with newspaper deadlines and such. And as much as I enjoyed watching the footage of the reporter tracking the priest who had an affair, and accidentally getting a huge scoop by staking out a restaurant (that show isn't going to catch a better moment than that), I wish it focused on the sports department once in a while. Well, I finally watched the latest episode, and that's what they did.
I'm a little disappointed, because the angle Bravo showed was that of an intern dealing with his first deadline story, which was just about what I expected. Plus, he was covering a New York Liberty game. I'd much rather have seen a beat guy covering the Mets. It was neat, though, to see some aspects, and compare them to the TV world, but overall I was disappointed by it. I hope they revisit the sports department before the show ends its run.
THE KID'S KIDS: Hall of Famer Gary Carter's St. Lucie Mets played a doubleheader on Friday, losing Game 1, and they're winning Game 2 as I write this, but it's still early. Not sure if Carter is with the team on Friday - I imagine he is, and will come up to New York Saturday. Daytona lost - now we also have to keep an eye on Palm Beach, who moved to within a half-game of St. Lucie.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Norfolk gave up a run in the bottom of the ninth to lose on Friday night, but Edgardo Alfonzo kept up his good hitting - a 1-for-3, starting at third base. He had a 2-out RBI, and also walked. His average is now .274. (That's better than Michael Tucker's when he was brought up, just FYI.)
Thursday, August 17, 2006
One win doesn't often tell you a lot about a team. The Royals took two out of four against the White Sox, for crying out loud - that doesn't change the fact that Chicago is good, and Kansas City is pathetic.
The Mets' win on Thursday showed a lot - that the Mets are able to put losses behind them, win the games they're supposed to win, and that the Mets' offense hasn't forgotten how to swing the bats.
The Mets took advantage of the Phillies' rookie starting pitcher, Scott Mathieson, and John Maine pitched well again, evening his record at 3-3, as the Mets beat the Phillies 7-2 on Thursday afternoon.
It looked like a run-of-the-mill 2006 Mets win - they flexed their home run muscle (Carlos Delgado hit 2 homers, Carlos Beltran added another), and they came up with key RBI hits to take the early lead (Jose Reyes and Mike DeFelice did the honors). Look deeper into those run-of-the-mill things, though, and realize that these are the types of things that hadn't been happening in the first three games against Philadelphia, and really weren't happening in Washington over the weekend either (but the Mets were winning, so who cares).
Carlos Delgado has been playing awful lately - Thursday is an encouraging sign, but he needs to have that type of game consistently. And Beltran has been slumping since the Atlanta series where he had 12 RBI or so over the 3-game series. David Wright is still slumping (down to a .304 batting average after an 0-for-4 on Thursday), but hitting can be contagious. All the Mets need is for the Carloses to continue hitting, and we'll see the rest of the lineup pick it up.
The Mets take on Colorado this weekend at Shea, which could be tough, because of Colorado's pitching (I can't believe I just wrote that). Seriously, Colorado is going to present a good challenge for the Mets - and if the Mets can continue what they did in Philly on Thursday against an improved Rockies' pitching staff this weekend, they'll be OK. Byung-Hyun Kim goes against Steve Trachsel Friday. Saturday was supposed to be Pedro Martinez*'s start, but with him on the DL, I heard that the Mets might go with either Dave Williams or Oliver Perez. That's too bad - on the night the Mets will honor their 1986 World Championship, they're probably going to get rocked. I thought I'd never have to mention Williams again - you may remember the Mets claimed him off waivers earlier this year...and I wrote how horrible he is. Perez was struggling with the Pirates - but maybe he'll have one of those flash-in-the-pan great starts, trying to make an impression on his new team - he certainly has it in him - remember, he was quite effective his rookie year.
(By the way, when I heard Perez's name today, it reminded me of a fun game I like to play with baseball players: If Oliver Perez married Darren Oliver, he'd be Oliver Oliver. I love that game. One more: If Wendell Kim married Turk Wendell, he'd be Wendell Wendell. There's lots more where those came from.)
MAGIC NUMBER: Finally, we're off 32. The Mets could have been in the mid-20's after the Philadelphia series. Instead, we have 30, heading into the weekend. Philadelphia did distance themselves a bit from the rest of the NL East, so at least we can now just watch the Philly scores, and root for them to lose. This weekend, the Phillies are playing the Nationals. That might be tough for the Mets to decrease the ol' number in 2's. We might have to settle for 1's. I'll probably just be happy with Mets wins, the way things have been going, and not even worrying about Philadelphia.
THE KID'S KIDS: St. Lucie beat Clearwater, and Daytona lost to Sarasota, and with time running short on the season, the St. Lucie Mets are now a game up in the second half season. I'll tell you - Hall of Famer Gary Carter can manage. He won't be with the team at least on Saturday, possibly for the weekend, because of the 1986 reunion - we'll see how the team does without him.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: A start at second base for Edgardo Alfonzo, and he was 1-for-4. His average is now .272. Jose Lima took the loss for the Tides, and that reminds me - Lima better not even be considered as a possible starter for Saturday night's game.
I leave early Saturday morning for my fun weekend in New York, but I think I'll be able to write Friday night. I'll do my best.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
I'm not sure what else there is to say except "more of the same". Again, the Mets weren't hitting. Again, the Phillies outplayed the Mets. The only difference on Wednesday night was that Tom Glavine pitched very well - it just wasn't enough, the way the Mets have been hitting, and the Phillies shut out the Mets for the second time in three games.
No one is hitting right now. No one. Not David Wright, not Carlos Beltran, not Carlos Delgado.
Let's not overreact. Yes, the Phillies have picked up three games on the Mets - but this is just a bad stretch for the Mets - by no means is it going to cost them the division. The problem would be how much the Mets let it affect them. If they're able to bounce back Thursday afternoon, then this weekend against the Rockies, it'll be like these three games never happened. But if this three-game losing streak turns into a stretch where the Mets lose 10 of 11 or some such thing, then we have problems.
To make matters worse, the Mets placed Pedro Martinez* on the DL Wednesday (again) with the calf strain from Monday night, where he gave up 6 runs in one inning. Like Paul LoDuca reportedly told Pedro* during that game - we need him healthy in October, not right now, so this is not necessarily bad news for the Mets. If it turns into longer than a 15-day DL stint, then, again, we'll start worrying. Heath Bell was recalled to take Pedro*'s roster spot. At least there's some bullpen help right there.
The Mets turn to John Maine to stop the slide on Thursday afternoon, against Scott Mathieson of the Phillies.
MAGIC NUMBER: Another day, another day of no changes in the magic number. It stays at 32. For the Mets to go back to New York with a magic number of 30 would be quite an accomplishment at this rate.
CORRECTION: A month or so ago, when the Mets played the Astros, during a game where John Maine shut the Astros out, I was proud to report that the Astros' announcers gave the stat that John Maine was the first player in Major League history to have a last name spelled exactly like a state. I thought and thought, and figured, though hard to believe, it must be true - football had Joe Montana, but baseball hasn't had Montanas. I told my dad this, and he said, "What about Washington?" And immediately I thought of Claudell Washington. So there's a flaw here in this stat - I'm wondering if they meant first pitcher with a name spelled exactly like a state. Then I think they might be right.
THE KID'S KIDS: I must have missed a half-game somewhere, because even with St. Lucie's loss Tuesday night, they are tied with Daytona atop the division, in the second-half race. On Wednesday, St. Lucie beat Clearwater, 7-2. They're a half-game ahead of Daytona, pending the outcome of the Cubs' game. (They're tied at 4 in the 8th at press time.)
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: A day game after a night game - but it didn't matter for Edgardo Alfonzo. After swinging such a hot bat lately, he didn't start for the second game in a row. He did strike out in a 9th inning pinch hit appearance, dropping his average to .273.
Blow the Mets out once, good for you. Blow the Mets out twice in a row, shame on them.
The Phillies have now outscored the Mets 24-4 in the first two games of this four-game series, and the Mets are inching dangerously close to being compared to the St. Louis Cardinals - owners of the title "Worst Team to Lead a Division This Late in the Season". The Cardinals, you may remember, have been blown out a bunch of times this year - giving up lots of double-digit run totals, and tallying losing streaks of 8 games a couple of times this year. The Mets aren't there yet - but they're inching closer. Two wins in a row in the final two games of this series will go a long way to helping people forget about these first two games.
The Mets, again, fell victim to their starter getting torched early. Orlando Hernandez gave up four runs in the first, on two homers, and a total of 11 earned runs in 4 innings. The bright side from the pitching perspective? 4 scoreless innings by the bullpen (Pedro Feliciano, Roberto Hernandez, and Aaron Heilman).
The other bright side came on the hitting side. THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED, Jose Reyes, was the entire Mets offense. He homered on the first pitch of the game, homered in his second at-bat, was walked, then in his fourth at-bat, hit a 2-run homer, becoming the seventh Met ever to hit 3 homers in a game (among others, Hall of Famer Gary Carter accomplished this feat). Reyes does not need to be swinging for the fences all the time, but it's nice to see him flex his muscles on a night where it really didn't matter what he did - the Mets weren't going to win.
Wednesday night the Mets will turn to Tom Glavine to stop the bleeding - he goes against Jon Lieber.
MAGIC NUMBER: Again, no change. The Mets can still knock four games off the magic number with wins in the final two games of this series. It'd be nice to lower it a little bit before the Mets come back home this weekend.
METS MEDIA: Keith Hernandez was back in the booth Monday, after 10 days off (not sure if that was a vacation, scheduled time for Ron Darling, or some sort of punishment). I'll be honest, I'm not missing him too much when he is gone. I was off-base at the beginning of the year with my critique of Darling, and comparing him to Hernandez. Darling is head and shoulders above Hernandez in the broadcast booth...and I think SNY is starting to realize that.
Don't get me wrong - occasionally, Hernandez has a nugget or two of insight to offer. But Darling is on from the first pitch through the final out. Hernandez gets into a little of the "I'm a bit bored by this" schtick, which I hate. The other thing about Hernandez is that in the past, he was a treat - offering much-needed relief from the team of Ted Robinson and Fran Healy. Now, it's Hernandez who I often need a break from. I think part of my apprehension regarding Darling back in March/April was the fact that he wasn't exciting as part of the Nationals' telecasts last year. In retrospect, the Nationals weren't exciting to watch, and that's going to wear on a broadcaster. Also, who knows if Darling had an inkling that at the end of the year, he'd be going back to New York, to work on the Mets' new station? That could be a distraction as well. Either way, I'm glad he's on SNY, and I hope he's the voice of the Mets for as long as David Wright and Jose Reyes are manning the left side of the infield.
MY UPCOMING WEEKEND: This weekend is the one I've been waiting for for about 4 months now - Saturday morning I'll have my fantasy football draft, and then I'll be going to the Mets game that night. The Mets are playing the Rockies, but the important part is the before-the-game ceremony that will honor the 1986 Mets - a 20th anniversary reunion. I received my 20th anniversary shirt from the game my parents attended (thanks mom and dad!), so I'll be wearing that, and I'll be getting a 1986 pack of TOPPS baseball cards (thanks, Hyundai!).
The only thing I don't understand is why this is happening against the Rockies. There are 81 home games in a season - the Mets couldn't pick a game against a team that actually existed 20 years ago? Maybe the Astros, who they beat in the playoffs? I'd like an explainer on that. Supposedly the seats my dad and I will be in aren't too good - but I'll try to have some pictures, especially of a certain Hall of Fame catcher.
THE KID'S KIDS: Daytona lost, but St. Lucie also lost, so no change in the standings - the Mets are still a half-game back. Palm Beach also lost, so they stay a game behind St. Lucie.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: A 1-0 win by Norfolk - they only had one hit off Ryan Vogelsong, but it was a Chris Basak homer, the only hit the Tides would need. Edgardo Alfonzo did not play, but Brian Bannister pitched 8 innings for the Tides, giving up just 3 hits, and striking out 7. Quite a turnaround from his last outing.
Monday, August 14, 2006
The Phillies had a moment in the sun on Monday night, crushing Pedro Martinez* and the Mets, 13-0 in Philadelphia. I was expecting big things with Pedro* on the mound, as I'm sure most Mets fans were, but things went horribly wrong right from the get-go Monday.
Pedro* gave up 6 runs, all earned, in just one inning, not returning for the second with what's said to be a strained calf. The Mets could have really gotten out of that first inning without a lot of damage, but Lastings Milledge misplayed a ball in the outfield, Pedro* made a throwing error on a pickoff attempt, and Carlos Delgado just missed a grounder. It was a sloppy inning, and a sloppy night, and that's going to happen every now and again.
The Mets need to take two out of the next three from the Phillies - 3 in a row, to bury Philly, would be really nice.
MAGIC NUMBER: The busy weekend prevented a magic number update, so this is the first time we're seeing the 32 - but it didn't have any movement Monday. The Phillies' win keeps it at 32...but the Mets, by beating the Phillies, can decrease the number 2 at a time over the next couple of games (that also depends on how the Marlins, in Los Angeles, and the Braves, in Washington, fare - if one of those two teams moves into second place, the Mets would only pick up a game by beating the Phillies.) It's tough when the first-place lead is so big, and the second-place race is so tight.
THE KID'S KIDS: St. Lucie lost on Monday, and Daytona was postponed, so the deficit for the second-half lead is a half-game. There are just 21 games left in the season, and 4 of those games are Daytona-St. Lucie head-to-head. Palm Beach is also lingering, a game behind St. Lucie.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Columbus beat Norfolk on Monday night, but Edgardo Alfonzo was 2-for-4, hitting his second homer of his Triple-A season, and improving his average to .276. His first homer came Friday, when he began what's become a pretty impressive stretch, raising his average from .239 to .276. Wonder if he's changed a swing, or started to feel more comfortable, or what.
BEAT THE STREAK: I'm done with Beat the Streak for the season - not enough games left to actually win the contest, so I'll just have to wait until next year, and save myself the trouble this year.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
The Mets completed their 3-game sweep of the San Diego Padres Thursday afternoon at Shea Stadium. Surprisingly, it was the first 3-game sweep at Shea for the Mets all season.
The Mets rested Carlos Beltran, Paul LoDuca and Lastings Milledge (hitting .213), but it didn't matter. Orlando Hernandez gave up 3 runs over 7 innings (just four hits), winning his fourth straight decision to even his record at 8-8.
After the Padres took a 2-0 lead, the Mets came back to get three, the highlight being Jose Reyes' 2-run triple. The Padres tied it at 3 in the 7th, but the Mets answered in the bottom half, scoring 4 times, including RBI hits by David Wright and Jose Valentin. Wright had 2 doubles, increasing his season total to 29 (he had one the other night - I might have to start up a doubles watch again, between Wright's 29, Beltran's 29, and Paul Lo Duca's 28).
That's the way the Mets have been playing during their current 5-game winning streak - any time the other team has shown hints of life, the Mets have really stomped on them and shut them down.
The Mets really have a chance at a lengthy winning streak here - they go to Washington for the weekend to take on the Nationals. Tom Glavine takes on Billy Traber (I believe he's a former Mets farmhand) in the opener on Friday (The Wife's Birthday - not sure I'll be posting), and the story with the Nationals is that if you get out Alfonso Soriano, you'll be OK. I like the Mets' chances. Let's also keep an eye out for any bad blood from earlier in the year - but with Jose Guillen on the DL, and Pedro Martinez* not pitching in this series, and explosive and angry Cliff Floyd on the DL, I have a feeling it will be a calm series, this time around.
MAGIC NUMBER: The Mets knocked one more number off here, but the Phillies were idle on Thursday, so there was no more opportunity for movement, unfortunately. So at 36 it stays, until the weekend. Interestingly, the Mets now have their biggest division lead all season - improving to 14 games over Philadelphia.
OOPS: I thought Ricky Ledee was replacing Cliff Floyd on the roster, with Floyd being placed on the 15-day DL. I was mistaken. When Floyd was placed on the DL, the Mets called up Michael Tucker from Norfolk (he played Thursday, and was 1-for-4 with an RBI). When the Mets got Ledee (1-for-4 on Thursday), they sent Eli Marrero down to Norfolk. Guess Marrero just wasn't cutting it. So much for his ability to play a bunch of positions - the Mets didn't want him at any. (Backup catcher Ramon Castro had been placed on the DL last weekend. The Mets called up Mike DeFelice rather than use Marrero at catcher, his first position.) Guess that all just shows how little value Kaz Matsui has around the Majors (as though we didn't already know).
THE KID'S KIDS: A 6-2 win for St. Lucie, but Daytona won as well, so the Mets still trail the Cubs by a game.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Edgardo Alfonzo was again 1-for-4, still at .239. The Norfolk Tides lost again - of note - the starting pitcher was Brian Bannister, who went 4-and-a-third innings, giving up 3 ER, 7 hits, a walk, and striking out 5. His AAA ERA is 9.64.
BEAT THE STREAK: Miguel Cabrera stayed hot, so my hitting streak reaches two. Hope I can get to three with Mike Piazza against Andy Pettitte.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
On Tuesday night, it seemed the only thing missing from the Mike Piazza lovefest was a good old-fashioned Piazza bomb at Shea Stadium. If that would have happened, though, chances are the Mets would not have won the game.
On Wednesday night, everyone got what they wanted. Another great outing from Pedro Martinez*. Another win for the Mets. Another hold for Aaron Heilman (impressive). Another save for Billy Wagner (less impressive). And not one, but two, bombs from Mike Piazza, marking the first time (probably) a visiting player was given a curtain call following a homer at Shea Stadium.
The Piazza homers were the only two blemishes on Pedro*'s night. He gave up just one other hit, but walked four, improving to 9-4 with the win. Aaron Heilman came on after Pedro* walked two with one out in the eighth, and got the next two outs (although he did come dangerously close to giving up home run number three to Mike Piazza). Wagner closed the door, but not until after giving up a longball to Josh Barfield, making a 2-run cushion yet another Mets' one-run win.
The Mets' offense came on dinks and dunks, little basehits that drove in runs. The Mets ran a lot on Piazza Tuesday and Wednesday (a la the Marlins against the Mets in recent years...although not really that much), and that helped set up some runs. Endy Chavez was 3-for-3, filling in for Cliff Floyd in left field.
Floyd was placed on the 15-day disabled list, because of the Achilles injury that he aggravated on Saturday. Tuesday the Mets claimed Ricky Ledee off waivers from the Dodgers, he was activated in Floyd's place on the roster (and grounded out in a pinch-hit appearance). I guess Ledee qualifies as the "something new" from the headline. Piazza, obviously, is the "something old".
The best part of the night was the SNY interview with Pedro* after he came out of the game. He was asked if the ovation and curtain call after Piazza's homer threw him [Pedro*] off at all - and Pedro* gave the exact answer you want to hear (I'll use quotes but I'm paraphrasing from my memory): "He deserved it. He absolutely deserved the applause, and it's great to see the fans recognize him. I was glad to see it. I was on the other side of it, in Boston, and it was great to see the Mets fans recognize Mike for being a great player." Heartwarming stuff, really.
The Mets go for the sweep Thursday afternoon at noon, Chris Young against Orlando Hernandez. I'll be at my workshop, so I won't see the game, but I intend to update.
MAGIC NUMBER: The Shea Stadium decor helps us decipher the updated Magic Number. Retired numbers Jackie Robinson and Tom Seaver have been surpassed, we're not quite at Gil Hodges' number 14, but we are at Casey Stengel. (Just think, if the Phillies hadn't won today, we would have had to go with a generic ol' 36.) The Phillies' win coupled with the win by the Mets means the number decreases just one, from 38 to Stengel's 37.
THE KID'S KIDS: The St. Lucie Mets lost to Dunedin, 6-2, but Daytona also lost, so the Mets are still a game back of the second-half lead.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Edgardo Alfonzo had 1 of 4 Tides' hits, going 1-for-4, raising his average to .239. He also had a walk.
BEAT THE STREAK: Paul LoDuca got me going again on a one-gamer. Thursday I'm going with another hot bat, Miguel Cabrera, in Washington.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
The Mets fans made Mike Piazza feel welcome, the Mets players didn't. I was thinking about Piazza's situation - you really couldn't leave a place of employment any better than he did. He's going to be given a hero's welcome every time he comes back to New York for the rest of his life - and deservedly so. (To think, I didn't like him as a Dodger.) He received a bunch of standing ovations on Tuesday night - it was really nice to see.
But it was also nice to see the Mets come up with a very clean, solid, 3-2 win. The Padres' 2 runs came on a Geoff Blum 2-run homer off Steve Trachsel. And in fairness to Trachsel, it was a fly ball to right field...that carried....and carried....and somehow carried over the wall, just past Lastings Milledge's leap.
The Mets came back quickly, scoring one run on a double play ground out, then getting a bases loaded RBI single from David Wright, then another RBI single from Wright later on to take the 3-2 lead. Carlos Beltran tied a team record with 3 doubles, scoring on one of those.
Trachsel is now 11-5, and he lowered his ERA to 5.03 with 5-and-two-thirds pretty effective innings. Royce Ring, Darren Oliver, Roberto Hernandez, Pedro Feliciano, and Billy Wagner all came in from the bullpen to close out the win.
The Mets have two more with the Padres - Wednesday night Pedro Martinez* returns to the mound for the first time since his gem in Florida, against Clay Hensley.
MAGIC NUMBER: The Braves beat the Phillies, which means the Mets get two games knocked off the magic number! It's down to 38.
THE KID'S KIDS: After Monday night's rain out (actually, I read that it might have been a power outage due to storms), the St. Lucie Mets bounced back nicely, sweeping a doubleheader from Dunedin, 5-2, and 6-0. They've narrowed the gap behind Daytona to a game (again).
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Back at third base, another single for Edgardo Alfonzo. He was 1-for-4, raising his average to .234.
BEAT THE STREAK: An ofer for Albert Pujols, so I'm back to 0. I'm not even sure I can get a 56-gamer at this point. Maybe there are 56 games left in the year. Might be time to hang up the ol' beat the streak cleats. I'll pick a player anyway for Wednesday - Paul Lo Duca. That ought to cool him off.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Wright wasn't going to make a big deal about Jose Reyes getting a 4-year extension last week, because he was behind Reyes on the pay scale, and wasn't expecting the Mets to give him a bigger contract than the measly, minimum one he had now. That's just the kind of person Wright is.
But the Mets showed what type of organization they want to be - locking up both Reyes and Wright long-term, and I'm thrilled.
The Mets were off on Monday - they host Mike Piazza and the San Diego Padres at Shea in a 3-game series beginning Tuesday. (And this week they have a day game, on Thursday, when I can't be home to watch it. Figures.) Steve Trachsel goes against Woody Williams Tuesday.
MAGIC NUMBER: The Mets knocked the number down to 40 by taking two out of three from the Phillies. The Phillies are still the second-place team, by two games over Atlanta, so we need the Braves to take at least two games from their series with the Phillies now taking place in Atlanta, with the Mets taking care of their own business against the Padres. As of right now, with the Phillies up by 5 in the 9th, it doesn't look like one of the Braves wins is going to come today. So 40 the number stays.
JUST GRAND: The Mets have tied their season record for grand slams, with their 8th as a team on Sunday night. Jose Reyes got this one. The last time the Mets hit 8 grand slams was 2000, when they lost the World Series to the Yankees. (They also did it in 1999, when they made the playoffs.)
MORE STATS: John Maine's scoreless innings streak is now at 23 and 2-thirds innings.
I was watching Monday night's Phillies-Braves game, and the Turner Sports guys talked about Brian McCann hitting .342 since the All Star break - good for only 32nd in the LEAGUE since the break. That means 31 players in the National League are hitting better than .342 since the break! I'm 90% sure they said league, not majors - but this seems really hard to believe. I know Paul LoDuca has been on fire - his average is up into the .320's, after dipping below .300, but that means 30 others? Two per team? I'm not so sure about that stat.
THE KID'S KIDS: A weak weekend by Hall of Famer Gary Cater's St. Lucie Mets - the Mets dropped two games behind Daytona in the chase for the second-half title. The Mets' game against Dunedin was rained out on Monday.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Edgardo Alfonzo didn't play Sunday, after an 0-for-4 on Saturday dropped his average to .233.
Of note from Norfolk, though, is that on Saturday Brian Bannister got rocked in a rehab start, going 4-and-2-thirds, giving up 7 runs on 11 hits. On Sunday, though, Mike Pelfrey got the last-place Tides back into the win column, pitching 5 innings, giving up 2 runs, in a 6-2 win. I think that's Pelfrey's first Triple-A start, because I think he went straight to the Mets from Binghamton, without going back to the minors in between.
BEAT THE STREAK: Sorry, Vlad. I killed the streak. Even though the Rangers intentionally walked Guerrero (so I've read) 4 times, and he only went 0-for-1. But no excuses. I had Miguel Tejada on Monday, with one of Baltimore's 2 hits, to go with Guerrero's hit on Sunday. So it's a 2-gamer. I'm bringing out the big guns on Tuesday - Albert Pujols at Cincinnati.
Friday, August 04, 2006
I never considered the possibility that Chase Utley's hitting streak would end, and the Mets would lose. I only considered two options:
1) Utley's hitting streak would continue, and the Mets would win.
2) Utley's hitting streak would end, and the Mets would win.
Maybe 3), Utley wouldn't play, and the Mets would win.
This kind of blows my mind - Chase's Chase is over at 35 (time to shift attention to Manny Ramirez and his 20-game hitting streak), and the Phillies kept the magic number from decreasing any more with a win at Shea.
I realize the Phillies are playing much better baseball since the trading deadline. I realize they're on a bit of a streak. I realize they've cut into the Mets' lead in the division. But they still don't scare me. They're a better team than they were - but they're still not a good team. I'm not worried about them challenging for the division, and I'm not worried about them winning the wild card. I'm not worried about the Mets facing anyone in the National League playoffs, to be honest. (The Cardinals are a joke right now - they've had more 5+ -game losing streaks this year than any other first-place team in history, says me. It's got to be a record. They're awful.) So I'm not upset that the Mets lost this game to the Phillies.
It was a pretty good game. Orlando Hernandez pitched very well, so that's encouraging. He battled all night, and had thrown 115 pitches by the time he was done in after 6 innings. Along the way he gave up 3 runs, 7 hits, 3 walks, had 7 strikeouts, 2 balks, and a triple. That's right, a triple. Again, the Mets left some runners in scoring position, missing out on a few timely hits.
But it was a 3-3 game into the 7th, when Darren Oliver surrendered a homer to David Dellucci. Oliver's been very reliable all year - chalk this loss up to bad timing on the part of the Mets' hitters, and Oliver throwing a bad pitch at a bad time. I'm really not concerned.
The Mets play the Phillies 9 more times this month (10 total in August). The worst they will do is 5-5 through those 10 games. And by going 5-5, the Mets will trim 10 games off the magic number. Good enough for me. I bet they do even better than 5 wins. Starting Saturday at Shea. And hopefully Tom Glavine gets back in the "W" column as the Mets rock Jon Lieber.
(I will not see Saturday's game due to childbirthing class - Saturday and Sunday, all day. I will be able to watch Sunday's game, I'm not sure I'll be able to write afterwards. The Mets are the Sunday night national telecast, but with a workshop I need to attend next week, I'm not sure I'll be up late. I'll post daily starting Monday, but I'm not sure if it will be after games.)
MAGIC NUMBER: Stalled on 44.
ALL PEDRO*, ALL THE TIME: Red Sox fans will be happy to know that Pedro Martinez* is still up to his old off-day antics in the dugout. He has a "magic bat", a plastic, wiffle ball-type bat, in Mets colors, the kind with a bigger barrel than a normal wiffle ball bat. Anyway, during home games, he waves the bat around, jokes around with players in the Mets dugout, and in the visitor's dugout. He got a lot of air time during the Mets telecast Friday night, and I figured I'd mention it tonight, because I had forgotten for a while. It's fun to watch, as Red Sox fans are well aware.
CONTEST: I think I need your help. I need to name my fantasy football team, and I can't think of anything too clever. I need it to be clean - good, family fun. But I think it needs to have something to do with the fact that I'm going to become a father. I've got a couple of ideas, but I'm open to suggestions. E-mail me (I'd prefer e-mails to posted comments) suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll post the good ones, and if I don't come up with anything myself, I'll use the best one as my team name. And maybe the winner will get a cool t-shirt.
THE KID'S KIDS: The St. Lucie Mets lost to Clearwater, 6-2 Friday, and fell to one full game behind Daytona, which beat Lakeland. Interestingly, the Alfonzo nephew took the loss for the Mets.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Apparently Edgardo Alfonzo reads the blog. One night after I bemoaned the fact that Alfonzo was only hitting singles, as he attempted to get back to the Majors with the Mets, he goes 2-for-3, mixing in a double. This continues his modest hitting streak, and lifts his average to .250. He also had a walk and a run scored.
BEAT THE STREAK: At two right now - Vladimir Guerrero had a hit in his first game against Texas. Friday night, he's 0-for-his-first-at-bat, striking out on some very high heat. Guerrero is on a tear against Texas. Let's examine what he's doing - it has to be the best string against one opponent ever:
- He's hit in all 43 career games he's played against Texas.
- In those 43 games, Guerrero is hitting .441, with 15 homers and 35 RBI.
- He's a .348 career hitter against Texas' starter Friday night, Vicente Padilla (I needed a 3rd bullet)...he'll end up with a hit on Friday.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Aaron Heilman's inconsistent season continues, and it's getting frustrating. Heilman (and the Mets) wasted an outstanding start by Pedro Martinez* Thursday night in Miami, losing to the Marlins, 4-1.
Pedro* turned in 6 innings, giving up just a solo homer to Mike Jacobs - one of four hits. He struck out 9. After the homer, Pedro* showed some rare anger, cursing at himself (I'm assuming it was at himself) as Jacobs rounded the bases. It was the only mistake Pedro* made all game.
The Mets rallied to get that run back in the top of the 7th, but like the last two nights, there were a lot of wasted chances, and that came back to haunt them.
Heilman got two outs in the 8th, but loaded the bases, and then gave up a bases-clearing double to Miguel Cabrera, breaking the 1-1 tie. Heilman looked very good the past couple of nights, posting consecutive 1-2-3 innings. It's tough to say this inning means he's back to his inconsistencies - maybe he's just not ready to be going three nights in a row, all in tight spots. But he'd better get used to it - because that's what the Mets need from him.
Roberto Hernandez turned in another nice inning - maybe he'll thrive now that he's back with the Mets and being in a pennant chase.
The Marlins turned three double plays - all three coming at key times, squelching Mets rallies. This was a frustrating game - it was the type of game you want the Mets to win for their starting pitcher, especially when he turns in an outing like Pedro* turned in. The good news? David Wright was 2-for-4, possibly breaking out of his slump. His average is back up to .309.
Friday night the Mets come back home to play the second-place Phillies - Orlando Hernandez gets the series started for New York. It's one of the final '86 Mets giveaways before the reunion on August 19th (which I'll be going to). My parents say they're going for me, to get me the '86 championship T-shirt the Mets are giving away. They're wonderful people, my parents. My sister and future brother-in-law were nice enough to give me one of their pictures of Mookie running down the first-base line from a game against the Pirates last month. I missed out on an '86 commemorative pin, and a replica '86 yearbook. But I don't care much for pins, and I didn't need the replica yearbook because I have the real thing. Looking forward to a t-shirt, though. I've outgrown all my '86 championship gear.
MAGIC NUMBER: The Phillies are winning as I write this, so there looks to be no change in the Magic Number, unfortunately, staying at 44.
MINOR NEWS: Before Wednesday's game, Mike Pelfrey was sent back to the minors, and reliever Royce Ring was brought up. Pelfrey was the odd man out, with the Mets having six starters after Pedro* came back from his injury. It came down to John Maine or Pelfrey, and Maine has just been pitching better. Pelfrey will be back when rosters expand in September.
MAJOR NEWS: The Mets signed THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED, Jose Reyes, to a 4-year contract extension before Thursday's game, with an option for a fifth year. This is good news, locking up the kid for a while. Now the Mets have to do the same with Future Hall of Famer David Wright. Remember how it was sort of a big deal that Wright's contract for this year was so small, comparatively speaking? It wouldn't look right for the Mets to lock up Reyes and not Wright. I'd be expecting an announcement before the season's up.
Although I just read on the Mets' website that Wright doesn't expect anything, because he has a different situation than Reyes - he came to the Majors a year later. So I guess it's good if Wright's OK with things...still, the Mets should work out a contract with Wright now. Don't waste time. It would show him that they care, and he's the type of player who would remember something like that down the line.
QUICK NOTE: I see Dave in Brighton left a comment about the LOB from the Mets' game last night. I've been thinking about it, and the most players a team can leave on base in an inning can be 9, if they load the bases, and then there are three outs. Three LOB per batter. That's the number I was looking at - LOB per batter, which ended up being 28 total for the Mets. And I guess just 10 total at the end of each inning.
MADDUX: As I write this, Greg Maddux has thrown 6 no-hit innings in his Dodgers debut against the Reds in Cincinnati. I'm going to go watch the end of that now - hope he throws the no-hitter - it's been too long since the last no-hitter in the majors.
THE KID'S KIDS: The St. Lucie Mets lost to Clearwater Thursday, but Daytona was losing in the 9th inning at press time, so they could still be tied for first in the second half of the season.
Also of note, during the Marlins broadcast, the Aflac Trivia Question was "Which former Met won manager of the year during his rookie season in 2005?" Then the announcers said it was in the minor leagues, and of course, we all knew the answer was Gary Carter. Then the announcers talked for a little while about how great it was that a Hall of Famer was managing in the low minor leagues. It was nice to hear some Gary Carter talk during a broadcast - but I still can't stand those Florida broadcasters. Of note, too, Carter, right after retiring from baseball, was an announcer for the Marlins for a few years.
ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Back to 3B Thursday night for Edgardo Alfonzo - he was 1-for-4, which raises his average to .226. The problem here is these past few games (it's about a 5-game hitting streak now) have all been singles for Alfonzo - no extra base hits. Oh well, we'll keep rooting for him.
CHASE'S CHASE: A hit in his first at-bat, so it's a 35-game streak for Utley. Now is the moment of truth - do I root for the streak to continue, with three games against the Mets, or do I root for the Mets to end it?
Honestly, as much as I like a good hitting streak, I want the Mets to end it. But if Sunday rolls around, and Utley hit in all three games, but the Mets went 3-0, I'll be perfectly fine with that.
BEAT THE STREAK: I'm looking for Vladimir Guerrero to continue his lifetime hitting streak against the Texas Rangers in their 4 games this weekend. It begins tonight, after press time.