A week and a day away from the beginning of the season! I have to get a post in here or there before the game recaps take over all of my time.
I was switching around as I watched the Rangers beat the Bruins in a shootout, and discovered I had the Mets game today on SNY. Not sure how DirecTV works this, but they black out most preseason baseball games, and I only catch them once in a while. I've seen parts of about three Mets spring training games this year. But I caught a little of the split squad loss to the Orioles, and there were a couple of things worth noting:
-Chan Ho Park pitched three perfect innings, then was lifted for Joe Smith (more on him in a minute). Park was apparently really mad about being taken out of the game. The plan is to use him again on Monday, and see if he can handle being used more than once every fifth day, and compete with Aaron Sele in a long relief role. (The role vacated by Darren Oliver's departure to Anaheim.) Sele has apparently had a good spring.
-Smith is a sidearming righty. He's the Chad Bradford replacement (he signed with Baltimore), and has wowed the Mets this spring, and will likely be in the bullpen to start the season. Interestingly, with a much more mature Lastings Milledge showing up at camp (haven't written about that at all - but it seems like he did some growing up this off-season), and Smith taking up a bullpen role, it seems both Padres the Mets got this off-season in exchange for Royce Ring and Heath Bell will be starting the season in the minors. There doesn't look like there will be room for Ben Johnson or Jon Adkins. Milledge is expected to start the season on the bench, but in the majors, as the Mets won't need a fifth starter until mid-April, so Milledge will stay with the team until then.
-Speaking of that fifth starter, it's looking more and more like Mike Pelfrey, which is just outstanding. Pelfrey is going to be very, very good, and I think he's better off at this point being with the major league team than off in the minors. Besides the fact that I think he's a better option than some of the flotsam the Mets have been collecting to fill that role. As for the other exciting young Mets pitcher, Philip Humber will be starting the season in the minors...and most likely spending the entire year there. He'll be a factor next year, but I wouldn't expect him to get more than a cup of coffee in the bigs this year.
-Is it just me, or is Moises Alou having just about the quietest spring training in the history of sports? I don't know if that's a good thing or not. I still say he has to prove to me that he's worth the Mets' acquisition.
-Carlos Delgado is in no danger of missing any regular season time due to the birth of his child. His wife went into labor this weekend, and Delgado went to Puerto Rico to be with her, so he'll be ready on April 1st.
-Pedro Martinez* is still on track in his recovery, taking his throwing program to the next level.
FANTASY ROUNDUP: Here's a rundown of what I'm doing fantasy sports-wise this year, since you're bound to hear about these things throughout the baseball season:
1. East Coast Bias - This is the only fantasy baseball league I thought I'd ever do for the rest of my life (more on that later), with Justin from NYC, The Southern Bureau, and Dave in Brighton. It's fun and it's different. We can only pick players from the AL and NL East (making scouting easier), and we have different categories than the average league. I came in 3rd place last year, after leading most of the first half, then falling out of second place on the last day of the season as I threw all my hopes onto 7 different starting pitchers (none of them good) on the final day of the aforementioned season. I am determined to win our trophy this year.
2. The Orange Couch - Named for The Southern Bureau's blog, this league was created primarly for The Southern Bureau's dad, so that he had a league to play in, after their long-time league disbanded. So it's a good bunch of guys (featuring the same 4 from East Coast Bias, along with 6 others, including Dave in Brighton's dad, too), and it's a full player universe. So even though I thought I'd never be doing another fantasy league like this, here I am. I want to do respectably well in this league. And one of the biggest banes of fantasy baseball - player trades - has been a good experience for me so far. On a whim, I offered Ramon Hernandez for Mike Piazza, who you all know I like this year. The other player countered with Hernandez and Octavio Dotel for Piazza, which I thought was too much, so I thought no deal would happen, until finally I threw out there Hernandez and Jonathan Broxton for Piazza, and I landed him. So I'm happy about that. Coming soon: I feel good about a certain pitcher in the majors this year, who I forgot to mention in the season preview. He's still a free agent in this league, and I will pick him up on Sunday to fill Broxton's roster spot. Stay tuned to find out who I'm talking about.
3. I will be doing my New Baseball Pool again this year. It was a huge success last year, and has grown this year.
4. Beat the Streak - I love it. Can't wait for it to start up - it's always one of the last things mlb.com gets going. I will create a league, and I hope you all join up to compete against me. Someday I'll get to 57 games....this year, I hope to get past 17.
5. mlb.com also has a fun game called Survivor. You pick teams until you lose. It's fun, it's free. I won't start a league, but I'll be playing, I'll let you know if I win anything.
SUNDAY COMICS: One of my small enjoyments in life is that I read the comics in the newspaper everyday. I read most of them, there are a couple I skip. One that I skip is called 'Zippy The Pinhead'...or sometimes, just 'Zippy'. But this caught my eye in the Sunday comics a week or two ago. I don't read this comic because I never get it....it's not funny, it doesn't even make sense. This one doesn't either, but I had to point it out. Poor Mr. Met...how did he get involved in something like this?!