Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Mets Sign K-Rod

The Mets addressed their biggest weakness by signing closer Francisco Rodriguez aka K-Rod for 3 years and 37 million dollars.
It's a great move, but a pretty obvious one. With the Mets bullpen in complete shambles (even with a healthy Billy Wagner), they needed a closer desperately now that Wagner will likely miss the entire year.
The Mets filled their biggest need, with the best available option and did so relatively cheaply. For instance, three years ago the Mets spent $6 million more (albeit for one more year) on Billy Wagner. So they gave an extra year to a closer who was 8 years older then than K-Rod is now. Obviously the market for top closers isn't as big as K-Rod thought.
But there are some worries that come along with this signing.
While his stats are incredible, some of his underlying numbers are cause for concern.
His hits are on the rise, while his strikeouts are falling. He also blew 7 saves last year, which means he failed about 10% of the time.
Will Mets fans tolerate that rate?
Some are also concerned about his durability because his velocity was down last year and he is getting older (he'll be 27 on Opening Day) leading to worries he could be exiting an early prime.
Also he has never been a 2-inning pitcher and likely won't be with the Mets.
Despite those worries this was a great move for the Mets, a crucial first step toward building a team that won't implode (from the bullpen out) next September.

K-Rod's postgame celebrations will be welcomed by Mets fans

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Marlins 4 Mets 2

Another season ends just like the last one, with bitter disappointment.

What happened here was a microcosm of the whole season.

Oliver Perez pitched pretty well but it was clear he ran out of gas in the 6th.

Then the bullpen came in and held it for a while, but Manuel used too many guys and it resulted in back to back home runs.

But the real problem once again was an offense that didn't show up. Three games to determine their playoff lives, and the Mets scored 5 runs total. Absolutely inexcusable.

And it's been such a common theme throughout the season, the Mets just cannot get runs when they need them.

Carlos Beltran once again showed his guts with what at the time was an incredibly clutch 2-run game-tying home run.

Jose Reyes went 2 for 13 in the Marlins series. Carlos Delgado went 2 for 11. Ryan Church went 0 for 9 with 6 strikeouts. All when the Mets needed them most.

An incredibly disappointing ending to another incredibly disappointing season.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 2 Marlins 0

What a performance by Johan Santana!

He was the definition of clutch. When the Mets needed him most he single-handedly won the game for them. On 3 days rest. After throwing a career-high 125 pitches in his previous outing.

Earlier in the season I complained that Santana pitched just well enough to lose (believe me, I feel bad about it now), but in this case he pitched so well he could not lose. For three months and 17 starts now he has been unbeatable (or at least unbeaten) today he was unhittable.

a pumped-up Johan Santana pitches the game of his life when the Mets needed it most

And it didn't even seem for a moment that there was any doubt. Once the Mets gave him one run it seemed like he knew (and his teammates knew) that he was going to make that one run stand up.

With this virtuoso performance Santana earned the eternal respect of all Mets fans, he earned $137 million dollars, he earned a place in the pantheon of great games ever pitched by the Mets (Seaver's near-perfect game, Cone's 19 Ks, Bobby Jones's playoff 1-hitter, Maine's near-no-hitter in the second to last game of last year, Al Leiter in the 1-game playoff in 1999), he earned a reptuation as a clutch pitcher, and he may have earned a Cy Young Award.

An absolutely incredible, wonderful, magnificent, superb, splendid performance by Johan Santana.

But one adjective I didn't use was "inspiring." Hopefully with one game left to go and a possible 1-game playoff looming, this performance by Santana will prove to be an inspiration to his teammates.

David Wright congratulates Johan Santana on one of the msot clutch pitching performances you will ever see

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Marlins 6 Mets 1

It amazes me how a team that showed so much heart the night before, could die like dogs with no fight at all the very next game.

It amazes me how a team that is so good at getting runners on, is so bad at getting runners in.

Once again that's what this game came down to. After the starting pitcher put the Mets in an early hole again Delgado struck out with first and second and Church flied out with the bases loaded in the first inning.

In the second it was Reyes and Murphy who failed with two men on.

And in the third it was Church who evidently didn't break out of his slump, again failing, this time hitting into a double play with 2 on.

The Mets had one more chance in the 7th inning when a base running mistake by Ramon Martinez may have cost them, but best case it would have been a runner on third and 2 out so no big deal. But at the time it seemed big because the lead was only 3-1.

But then the bullpen took over. Of all the horrible games and innings turned in by bullpen this year, this was one of the worst.

Bobby Parnell showed the rest of the relievers have been rubbing off on him as he allowed a walk and a wild pitch, then a hit, allowing a run to score when Daniel Murphy committed another error. Then came Pedro Feliciano who can't get anyone out anymore. He hit the only batter he faced and may way for Aaron Heilman. Heilman actually got two outs, but he also walked 2 batters, including one with the bases loaded. I am so sick of this guy coming and walking batters. It's so sickening to watch. I hope this was his last ever appearance as a Met.

Joe Smith, the only reliable reliever came in to get the last out but it was too little too late as the offense let the Mets down again.

Now it falls to Johan Santana again who is going to come back on 3 days rest, after the most pitches of his career, to try to keep the dream alive for one more day. Doesn't seem like the best situation for him, but we shall see.

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Happy Recap: Mets 7 Cubs 6

Oh the angst of being a Mets fan. After the most disheartening loss of the season, comes the most exhilirating win.

I know there are a lot of complaints about Carlos Beltran but say what you want, add this to a growing list of incredibly clutch base hits he's gotten during his career with the Mets. He'll forever be dogged by the strikeout against Adam Wainwright in the 2006 NLCS, but this was a hit, a run, a game, the Mets absolutely had to have -- and he delivered it.

Meanwhile David Wright struck out again. This time he did it with Reyes on first, but another big situation where he couldn't even put bat to ball. At least he got a sacrifice fly in the first inning.

I'd love to know what was going on with Daniel Murphy there. Did he miss signs, was Manuel giving the swing away motion to trick the Cubs? Either way he never should have been bunting in the first place. The play isn't beneficial to run production even with a good bunter at bat and pparently he's never had a sac bunt in pro baseball. I understand Reyes couldn't steal because it was muddy, but Murphy has a great chance of getting Reyes over by reaching base himself, without using an out. And once he looked so clueless they should have yelled "swing away" to make sure he took his hacks.

Ryan Church was awesome in this game, but his three hits were the least of his contributions. His amazing adroitness to avoid the tag when he scored the tying run was really the key (other than Beltran's hit) to winning this game.

He missed the tag!
Ryan Church avoids the tag from Koyie Hill
Ryan Church elated, Koyie Hill deflated

The Mets also got amazing contributions from Robinson Cancel and Ramon Martinez. I think Manuel has to play Martinez, even if it's only three more good games, that's all they need.

Key contribution from Robinson Cancel

Of course Pedro sucked as he has done so often this year. But after he allowed a run to leadoff the 3rd, he buckled down and gave up only 2 hits, one walk over the next four innings, while striking out 6. He showed some guts which will eventually separate him from the other Hall of Famer whose last Mets start was an absolute disaster.

Stokes, Schoeneweis and Smith all did their jobs to keep the Cubs at 6 long enough for the Mets to stage a comeback. No reliever is blameless in this season but it's no accident that Joe Smith is 6-3 while Aaron Heilman is 3-8.

It should be noted that this monumental win came against a Cubs team that sat its five best offensive players, all of whom hit more than 20 homers this year. And still, someone named Micah Hoffpauir went 5 for 5 with 2 homers and 5 RBI.

But anyway you slice this team has a habit of lifting fans up, then letting them down with a thud. But for now the Mets are tied with the wild card, a game behind the Phillies and looking to make the playoffs, or crash once again.

Let's Go Mets!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Cubs 9 Mets 6

Of all the hard losses, and all the monumental disasters and all the unhappy recaps, this has got to be the worst.

And I don't want to hear one thing about Luis Ayala, or even Oliver Perez. The Mets offense is completely to blame for this loss.

Five guys made outs with a man on third and fewer than 2 outs and none were able to hit a deep fly ball to get a run in. That's disgraceful.

First it was Daniel Murphy in the 7th who hit the ball hard but lined into a double play. That was bad luck.
In the 8th inning Ryan Church struck out (make contact, please) and Ramon Castro hit a weak grounder to third.
And in the 9th it was David Wright striking out (how many times have I written that?) and Ryan Church again with a weak grounder.

But let's be fair here, there is plenty of blame to go around. Oliver Perez sucked. I'm not ready to give up on him as a big game pitcher (and I hope this is not his last start as a Met, I don't want him going out in infamy like Tom Glavine) but he did allow 11 base runners in 4 1/3 innnings. You can only walk the tightrope for so long.

And Luis Ayala did give up three runs, but the hit to Lee was an opposite field dunker and it was in his second inning of work, on his third straight day of pitching.

Daniel Murphy's triple was an attempt to atone for an earlier mistake when he misplayed a single to allow the tying run to score. But another hit did come after that, meaning the run would have scored anyway.

I love Ramon Castro but not only did he ground out with 2nd and 3rd and one out in the 8th, he struck out with the bases loaded in the 9th. He's batting .150 in his last 40 at bats, which covers all of August and September.

And let's not leave the coaching staff out of this, they need to be more aggressive. Reyes should have been running in the 7th. Even if Murphy's line drive were still caught, it probably wouldn't have been a double play if Reyes had already been on second base.

And Luis Aguayo needs to be a little more aggressive also. We've seen it several times this year, he holds a runner with no outs, assuming the Mets could get him home, but they can't.

The Mets blew a golden opportunity here to regain control of their destiny. Now they are almost definitely out of the division race, and in a tie with Brewers and fighting for their lives to fend off a second collapse.

But as we've seen so many times before this team always has a little bit left to reel you in again, usually just so they can break your heart one more time.

It saddens me that I wrote this entire post and didn't even think about mentioning Delgado's grand slam, which at the time it was hit, may have been the biggest moment of the season.

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Happy Recap: Mets 6 Cubs 2

Midway through this game it was looking like my worst nightmare, the Mets weren't hitting and Johan Santana was getting clobbered. Then all of the sudden, one lucky bounce completely reversed the course of the game, and possibly the season.

With one out and Nick Evans on first Johan Santana hit what should have been a 1-6-3 doubleplay, but the magic bat not only distracted the pitcher, it ricocheted the ball away from the shortstop, giving Santana an infield hit.

After Reyes struck out an even bigger miracle occurred. Luis Castillo made his first contribution in weeks, working out a walk. Then David Wright ripped a single to left to tie the game. Wright came into that at bat with a .188 batting average with the bases loaded.

David Wright comes through with a clutch bases loaded hit

It was around this time in the game when Johan Santana started to turn it around. Through four innings he gave up 2 runs, 6 hits and 4 doubles. Then he retired the side in the 5th inning on 6 pitches and allowed only 1 hit over the next four innings. Santana once again earned his money, won his 8th straight decision, and hasn't lost in 16 straight starts and he set a new career high in pitches with 125.

Johan Santana is earning every penny with his performance down the stretch

The third piece of our triumverate to build around for the next 6 years came through with his own big hit in the 6th inning. After another lucky break (an infield single for Castro and an error to score Delgado) Jose Reyes came up with the bases loaded. He was only 2 for 19 with the bases loaded so far this season, but he ripped one down the line for the bases clearing triple, and enough runs to let the Mets cruise to the victory.

I love all Reyes triples, but the best are the ones that come with the bases loaded

i love to see a postgame handshake line

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Cubs 9 Mets 5

This game doesn't make me angry. This was a game the Mets were supposed to lose, it was Jon Niese on the mound, against the Cubs, and they got their asses kicked. That happens sometimes. But it just makes all those other games, the ones where one play, one hit, one out could have made a difference, seem even more important.

It does add a little insult to injury that the Mets were done in by Jason Marquis. A grand slam by a pitcher? The last three times a pitcher hit a grand slam were all against the Mets. There was Dontrelle Willis back in 2006, and Felix Hernandez earlier this year.

Even despite that grand slam the Mets did have a lot of chances, going 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position.

Even though they got blown out, they had several chances, to come back or at least cut into the lead. In the 4th and 6th they got the first two men on -- and promptly hit into double plays.

It's so frustrating to watch Luis Castillo because he can't even hit the ball out of the infield. And he is signed for 3 more years. I hope Omar can dump him during the offseason (even if he has to eat 90% of his contract) and move Daniel Murphy there next year (assuming he goes to winter ball and becomes proficient enough at the position).

Once again the Mets are putting all their eggs in Johan Santana's basket.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Braves 7 Mets 6

How many times we have seen this same game? I bet there's been at least 25 times this year the Mets played a game with the following characteristics: Mets score early off the starter then go in the tank, the starting pitcher pitches fairly well, but allows too many baserunners and doesn't go deep enough and then the bullpen implodes.

I don't even blame the bullpen all that much for this loss. Schoeneweis, Smith and Heilman all gave up extra base hits in the same inning, but they got a little unlucky and were hindered by a horrible decision by Jerry Manuel.

Why the hell did he intentionally walk two guys in the 8th inning? It made no sense to put extra runners on base. He knew they were going to pinch hit Chipper if he walked Norton. So he added an extra runner AND put him in scoring position, and gained nothing. He should have gone after Norton and at least given the offense a chance.

Not that the offense would have done anything with it. Before I go any further though it's important to mention that you can't view this game as a one-run game. Carlos Delgado's homer only came because Mike Gonzalez was challenging him with a 3-run lead. Without that lead Delgado would have been pitched differently, most likely to a different result.

David Wright and Carlos Delgado are exempt from the blame for this game, they had 5 of the 6 RBI and 6 of the 8 hits. It's everyone else who sucked.

In the 6th the Mets started off with two walks, but Pelfrey couldn't get the bunt down. Inexcuseable. Reyes and Murphy went quietly and that was that.

In the 7th Wright and Delgado got on and on the first pitch to Beltran he squared to bunt? Why? He does this so often, and every time I hear he's doing it on his own. Why doesn't Manuel tell him "don't bunt on your own. Don't bunt ever, you're too good a hitter. Our bullpen is too bad to EVER play for just one run. Get up there and get a hit." Then on 0-1 Beltran swung at a pitch in the dirt and his at bat was wasted. When Church grounded into a double play the Mets had wasted two great chances to add to their lead.

With 17 games to go the Mets held a 3 1/2 game lead over the Phillies. During the last 10 games the Mets went 4-6 and the Phillies went 9-1. Sure seems like a replay of last year.

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