Monday, July 31, 2006


Duaner Sanchez is out for the year with a separated pitching shoulder.
Sanchez was injured while riding as a passenger in a taxicab that was involved in a car accident Sunday night after the Mets landed in Miami. He returned to New York to undergo surgery on Monday.

Mets Make a Move

The Mets traded Xavier Nady to the Pirates for Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez. I think this is a great deal, but it was necesitated by the Duaner Sanchez injury. Milledge will become the everyday right fielder. Roberto Hernandez will fill a spot in the pen. Oliver Perez was signed to a 12 year contract by my brother's fantasy team. He has tremendous talent but can't throw strikes. He had a 2.98 ERA in 2004, but was 2-10 so far this season.

Trade Talk

Would you trade Lastings Milledge for Barry Zito?

I wouldn't. I think the Mets have an excellent shot to get to the playoffs with the team as it is currently constituted. I also think the Mets are stronger than any other team in the NL, maybe the Cardinals are equal. So basically, it would mean giving up a top prospect for the difference between Trachsel and Zito over only 2 or 3 playoff starts. Because the postseason is such a crapshoot, I don't think that improvement is worth the considerable cost of Milledge.

I don't see why the Mets would be interested in Kip Wells and/or Roberto Hernandez. I don't think Wells is an improvement over El Duque, Trachsel, Pelfrey or Maine.

I don't really care for Livan Hernandez either. Although, I could get behind a trade for him because he is an innings eater and a big game pitcher.

I do not like Jon Lieber.

Julio Lugo is apparently available but as always the Devil Rays are driving a hard bargain. ESPN reports they are asking for two pitching prospects for him. If Valentin can keep hitting anywhere near this well, he's better for this team than Lugo. The mets don't need a top of the order speedster.

Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead!

The Atlanta Braves are dead in the National League East race this year.
The Mets swept them in Atlanta in a series longer than 2 games for the first time in more than 20 years. The Mets are 8-4 against Atlanta this year, including 5-1 at Turner Field.
The Mets have a 15 game lead on Atlanta with 58 games to go, the magic number is 44.
I'm not ready to call the division quite yet, but Philadelphia is now the second place team and they threw up a white flag yesterday.
Here is my big worry about this post: The Braves are only 6 1/2 games behind the Reds for the wild card. If they can get hot, and get some pitching it's possible, not likely, but possible, that the Mets could face them in the NLCS.

But that worry is for October. Right now it is still July and we have slain the beast. The 15 year reign of the Braves is over.

Let's Go Mets!

Happy Recap: Mets 10 Braves 6

Move over Abe Frohman. Carlos Beltran is the salami king. I know Abe/Ferris was the sausage king but I still think it's funny.

Beltran now has 3 home runs in July, ties a major league record for slams in a month but he won't have a chance to break it. He did have a chance to break it in the third inning but struck out. When Lo Duca was up with 1st and 3rd I said I'd rather Lo Duca walked in that spot, than if he had hit a 3-run homer. I wanted Beltran to get that chance.

The Mets also tied a record for grand slams in a month with 6.

Beltran now has exactly twice as many home runs this year as he did last year. He leads the NL with 94 RBI and has passed David Wright as the Met most deserving of the M-V-P! chants at Shea.

The other Carlos is starting to percolate as well. Delgado now has 4 homers and 13 RBI in his last 9 games. He had no homers and 2 RBI in the 12 games prior to that.

But everything isn't all sunshine and roses for the Mets. Tom Glavine got killed again. He is now 0-2 with a 5.68 ERA in his last 7 starts (since his last win in June). His ERA for the season is now 3.97.

The great Darren Oliver came in and although he only pitched one inning he was awarded with his fourth win of the season. Feliciano, Heilman and once again Billy Wagner all pitched well to nail down the victory.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Happy Recap: Mets 11 Braves 3

The Mets have won a series in Turner Field for the second time this year. I doubt that's happened since they opened the damn place. Now the Mets have a chance to sweep a 3-game series in Atlanta for the first time since 1985.

El Duque pitched great. He allowed only 3 hits and no walks. All three runs were unearned because of errors by Wright and Reyes. Without those he easily could have pitched a shutout. At one point he retired 17 in a row. Right now him and Maine as 4 and 5 seem more solid than Glavine and Pedro as 1 and 2. But we must remember how up and down he's been this year and whether he can continue to pitch well when the Mets have such a big lead.

Huge game for Carlos Beltran. Started things off the right way with a 2-run homer in the first. Then added a 3-run shot in the 6th when the Mets scored 7 runs (their second biggest inning this season).

Endy Chavez had another game driving in 3, 2 on a single in the 6th and another on an exciting triple in the second. Even El Duque got in on the act driving in the other 2 runs in the 6th. Those were his first two RBI in the major leagues. The Mets other run came off the bat off Chavez too, but since it scored on a double play he doesn't get credit for the RBI.

One piece of bad news: Carlos Delgado got hurt when he was hit by a pitch but x-rays were negative.

Happy Recap: Mets 6 Braves 4

Three huge things happened in this game:
1) Pedro came off the disabled and pitched five good innings. He pitched one horrible inning first, but I'm looking on the bright side.
2) The team came right back after the Braves took the lead.
3) Billy Wagner slammed the door in the 9th.

Number 3 is the most important. The biggest reason the Braves have dominated the Mets so much over the years and especially at Turner Field is because Mets closers (and other relievers) were constantly blowing games. The main reason why I think closers are really important to a club and that the save statistic is meaningful, is because a loss in a game which you were leading going into the 9th inning is usually deflating to a team. It has a big carryover especially in a pennant race.

I really thought that Reyes' home run to lead off the game was going to be some harbinger, a sign that the worm in the NL East has turned. But that wasn't the case.

The Braves pounded Pedro in the first inning, although it seemed like every hit they got was just out of the reach of an infielder.

The Mets were able to get some timely hits from Beltran and Franco and a sac fly from Valentin. Wright's homer provided much needed insurance.

The bullpen was great, in addition to Wagner. Feliciano and Sanchez looked awesome. Interesting that Willie used Feliciano instead of Heilman. Maybe it was just because the Braves had lefites coming up or maybe he's losing faith in Heilman.

This game had the highest attendance for any regular season Braves game in Atlanta ever. It broke the record set the night Aaron broke the record. It's 715! There's a new home run champion of all time, and it's Henry Aaron.

One more piece of good news from this game. Chipper Jones got hurt.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Braves Are Coming

I know it's an 11 1/2 game lead with two months left in the season. But the Atlanta Braves are hot as a pistol and they have our number.
I'm not worried yet but if the Mets go into Turner Field and have another miserable performance complete with untimely hitting and blown saves, and on Monday the lead is 8 games (Braves play Marlins Thursday), then I will revive my post about panicking that I wrote but never posted after the Red Sox series.

Happy Recap: Mets 1 Cubs 0

A big switch compared to the last three games. It was nice to finally get a good pitching performance for a change.

I love a good 1-0 game, because every pitch and every batter is very meaningful.

Mark Prior pitched well for the Cubs but he walked 5 and has an injury history so the Cubs had to take him out after 5 2/3, even though he was pitching a no-hitter a the time. Will Ohman got the last batter of the inning but Jose Valentin got the first hit of the game in the 7th on a bloop that really should have been caught.

Then the Mets started to get some chances but just couldn't come through.
Delgado struck out with men on 2nd and 3rd and 2 outs in the 8th.
Floyd grounded out with men on 1st and 2nd and 2 outs in the 9th.
But the Mets broke through in the 10th, with two outs. Beltran singled, Delgado doubled and Dusty rightfully walked Wright to load the bases.
With two strikes Valentin lined a pitch up the middle to win the game.

Interesting celebration after Valentin's hit though. He ended up on his ass and the Mets were picking him up by his legs. Very weird.

Another great start by John Maine. He now has 17 consecutive scoreless innings and a 1.63 ERA in July (4 starts and one relief appearance). Unfortunately for him he hasn't been getting the Trachsel-esque run support and is 1-2 over those 4 starts.

I used to have zero hope for the future of the pitching staff but imagine if next year the Mets can have (healthy) Pedro, Glavine, Maine, Bannister and Pelfrey. That seems like a formidable rotation, with a good combination of young and old. At least, we have some hope for the future.

I'd completely given up on Aaron Heilman at this point but he got his first win of the season in this game. He did get in a little trouble (first and second one out) but he got out of it. Sanchez and Wagner also pitched well in relief.

David Cone joined Keith and Gary in the booth early in the game. Didn't really say anything too interesting except that he looked up to Ron and Keith when he was a young player. Also complained about pitchers nowadays on strict pitch counts. He said 105 and 125 pitches feel the same. But as I recall, didn't he get an arm injury from throwing 163 pitches in a game once?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Unhappy Recap: Cubs 8 Mets 6

Another disastrous pitching performance. The Mets have now given up exactly 8 runs in 3 straight games. And with Pedro out, the Mets have been relying on Glavine and Trachsel, both of whom got their asses kicked by the Cubs.
This is the first series loss since the second Yankees series. And it could turn into the first series sweep since Boston right before that.

Glavine got victimized by the home run, but like so many other Mets pitchers lately he also let one little thing, one bad play in the field, open the floodgates and become a much larger problem.

He gave up back to Ramirez and Nevin in the first inning but the Mets but that wasn't a big deal because Beltran got one right back, then Exciting Endy gave the Mets a lead with a 3-run blast.

Then in the fatal third inning, after a walk, a hit and a sacrifice fly, Glavine threw high to first base and Delgado came off the back, just fractionally, but safe was the correct call. After a walk the bases were loaded, Glavine got a force at home, for what should have been the third out. The Cubs took advantage of the extra out and Henry Blanco hit a bases clearing double.

Glavine settled down and retired 10 in a row but he gave up another homer, his third of the game, to the opposing pitcher, Carlos (much better than Victor) Zambrano. On July 31, 2004 I was taking a nap when my dad woke me up with the news that the Mets had traded Kazmir for Zambrano. I was very excited until I asked why the Cubs would make that trade. Then I found out that it was the other Zambrano.

Anyway, that was his fourth home run this season, the most since Mike Hampton hit 7 in 2001.

The Mets had one final chance in the 9th but couldn't breakthrough off Howry, after Dempster gave up 2 hits and 2 walks.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Unhappy Recap: Cubs 8 Mets 7

What is up with the fifth inning? For the second straight game the Mets starter imploded in the 5th deeming the game unwinnable.

Trachsel has pitched very well (or at least well enough to win) for the past two months, so we can forgive him one bad start. He's still 9-5 and basically kept the rotation afloat over the past month. Pedro and Glavine won on June 22 and 23rd and neither has won since. Trachsel has won four games over that span.

Delgado and Nady continue to get big hits and drive in runs.
The Mets last chance in the 7th was thwarted by something I normally support (scoring runs with outs). Unfortunately, facing a 4 run deficit, with bases loaded and no one out, Lo Duca grounded out, Beltran flew out and Delgado walked. Wright singled in a run but that still left us one run short.

Other than the one single that allowed two inherited runners to score, Heath Bell pitched well. Bradford and Sanchez pitched well also. It was Trachsel, not the bullpen that was the problem today.

Ryan Dempster who sucks this year, shut the Mets down in the ninth, and that was that.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Unhappy Recap: Astros 8 Mets 4

Rough game for Pelfrey. In all three of his starts he's allowed a lot of base runners but somehow worked out of trouble. He allowed a run in the third and got some help from Wright in the 4th (threw out a runner at home, stepped on third to end the inning), but fell apart in the 5th.
He got hurt by some bad defense (Valentin dropped a ball maybe Beltran should have caught) but then he just got shelled. Three runs and three hits later, he was out of the game. Oliver allowed another run to score.

I think it's time for the Mets to demote Pelfrey and let him get some more seasoning in the minors. With the emergence of John Maine and the impending return of Pedro, Pelfrey is no longer needed.

I'm sick of Aaron Heilman's act also. Either he isn't very good or he's gone into a funk ever since the Mets started trying out Jose Lima and Jeremi Gonzalez in the rotation without giving him a chance. His jogging to first and getting beaten to the bag was inexcusable.

The one bright spot is Carlos Delgado. He Del-got another and seems a lock to hit 30 homers again.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Happy Recap: Mets 4 Astros 3

This game followed a similar script to Friday's game in a couple of way.

First of all the Mets got good pitching from the back end of the rotation. El Duque gave up a walk and 2 home runs (Berkman and Wilson) in the first inning, but settled down the from there. He allowed 1 walk, 2 hits and no runs in the next 6 innings. He threw 105 pitches and struck out 8. It was the fourth time in his last six starts that he went 7 innings. The problem is, that in those other two starts he went 1 2/3 innings and got bombed. He still needs to improve his consistency before I'll trust him.

Another aspect of this game similar to Friday's is a sacrifice fly by Carlos Delgado. I've always said the key after a big inning is shutting the opponent down in the next inning (usually this comes up with Trachsel). After the Astros got 3 in the first, Valentin got on, moved over by Beltran and knocked in by Delgado. One run, but maybe a psychological lift.

And then another key home run from the bottom of the order put the Mets ahead. This time it was Nady. He had been struggling with men on base earlier in the season but he has really picked it up since then. He's now got 14 homers but only 38 RBI, but I think we would settle for 20 & 70 from our 7th place hitter.

Happy Recap: Mets 7 Astros 0

These grand slams are getting ridiculous.

Once again the Mets got on the board early, this time in the second inning when Jose Valentin hit a grand slam. After hitting 2 in the first half the Mets have hit four grand slams in the past 5 games.
Valentin has been awesome, with 11 homers and 41 RBI and not having played the whole season.

Carlos Delgado hit his 24th homer in the 5th inning to close the scoring. It was his second straight game with a home run. It would be nice to see him break out of the slump that he's been in for almost two months (with the exception of a short hot streak on that 9-1 road trip in June).

But the big story of the game was John Maine. The Mets flip-flopped him and El Duque because of rain, just a couple hours before the game. El Duque had been involved in a couple rain delayed games and Willie wanted to give him a break. The game was delayed about an hour, and once it started Maine pitched great. He was throwing strikes and hitting his spots. He gave up four hits and only 1 walk, and pitched a complete game with fewer than 100 pitches (98, more than 2/3 of which were strikes). We've seen great performances from pitchers before (Soler, Heilman's 1-hitter last year) but that doesn't mean Maine is going to be the solution to the Mets rotation problems.

But for last night he looked pretty good.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Happy Recap: Mets 4 Reds 2

A nice win to get on the road. This is the type of game the Mets have to keep winning to avoid complacency. It would have been a difficult loss because it would have meant a .500 road trip and 2 blown leads in a row. But they hung on and won it in the 10th.

Once again it's the bench players and the bottom of the order that made it happen. Although the Mets caught a gift similar to the one Chavez gave the Cubs, as an easy fly ball was played into a double for Nady in the 10th. Chavez and Beltran followed with doubles to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.

Billy Wagner pitched the 10th for one of his easiest saves ever.

The Mets might not have even been in this game had it not been for the Reds ineptitude with men on base. They left 11 total on base, including the bases loaded in the 6th and the 7th innings.

Tom Glavine was once again great through 4 innings, but he blew it in the fifth. He allowed two singles and a game-tying double to Freel.
Then he got off to another rocky start in the 6th, giving up a single and a double. An idiot fan touched the double by Encarnacion preventing Aurillia from scoring from first. On the very next play, Aurillia came down the line with his thumb up his ass and Valentin (who wasn't playing was able to nail him at the plate) for the first out.

After a groundout made it second and third the Mets walked the catcher to face Arroyo. Arroyo tapped to Glavine who threw home for the third out. The runner was forced, but as you can see below Castro tagged him anyway.

Things went south for Glavine in the 7th, after a double, a sacrifice and two walks Randolph turned to the Runner Strander Chad Bradford. He stranded all three runners by getting a strike out and a grounder to third. After that Heilman and Feliciano each pitched a good inning. Feliciano improved his record to 4-2.

The Mets got their first two runs on homers by Floyd and Delgado. Those two guys will need to step up their production if the Mets offense is going to keep clicking. Right now, both of them are hitting about .250. Not good enough. In July, Delgado is 6-43 with one home run (this one) and 3 RBI. His last home run came three weeks ago in Boston.

Bronson Arroyo once again held the Mets in check. This season he's allowed the Mets only 4 runs in 17 innings along with 1 walk and 13 Ks.

Unhappy Recap: Reds 7 Mets 4

Cincinnati literally rained on our parade.

The game got off to a good start as the Mets scored 2 runs in each of the first two innings on two run singles by the great youngsters, Wright and Reyes.

Trachsel actually held the Reds in the first inning and was going well in the second (usually he gives back runs as soon as he gets them.

But the rains came. A 2 hour and 23 minute rain delay. The warning track was completely flooded.

After the rain delay everything fell apart. Trachsel was able to finish the 2nd and 3rd innings but he ran into trouble in the fourth. He gave up 3 runs on 4 hits and a walk before Oliver had to come in and get him out of the jam.

I don't have a problem with Willie bringing him back after the delay. I never understood why that should be such a problem. But if he didn't have a winning streak going would he have been taken out.

The Mets still had the at this point until Aurillia homered off Oliver to tie it.

The Mets bats couldn't do anything with Jason Standrige and David freakin Weathers, even though Weathers walked 3 batters in the 6th. Seems the Reds may have improved themselves a lot by trading for bullpen help even though they gave up 2 good players.

In the 8th inning Duaner Sanchez came in and blew the game. He got a little help from Reyes though. With a runner on second and one out Reyes decided to try to nail the lead runner at third, instead of taking the easy out. Hatteberg was safe at third and the next batter doubled in 2 runs and that was that.
That was Duaner Sanchez' first loss of the season.

Eddie Guardado got the save, his 4th in 4 chances since joining the Reds.

Tom Hanks, Ron Howard and Dennis Miller were at last night's game continuing their little ballpark tour. They've hit games in Baltimore and Pittsburgh so far. They held an impromptu press conference to entertain media members during the rain delay.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Wright Move

In late July of 2002 the Blue Jays were nearing the end of the line with outfielder Jose Cruz Jr.

Cruz owned a .227 batting average at the break with 13 homers and 45 RBIs.

Finally, they found someone with interest in Cruz.

The New York Mets said they would take Cruz, offering a minor-leaguer playing his first full season at class-A.

Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi decided against taking the minor-leaguer for Cruz. The Jays also refused the Seattle Mariners' offer of prospect Rafael Soriano for Cruz, after the Mariners refused to move reliever Clint Nageotte.

The Jays held on to Cruz, who finished the 2002 season with a .245 average, 18 homers and 70 RBIs. After the season the Jays decided not to tender Cruz a contract and he signed as a free agent with the San Francisco Giants.

That class-A kid? Well, it's tough evaluating 19-year-olds as the kid was at the time.

That season at class-A Capital City the kid hit .266 with 11 homers and 93 RBIs. He had 76 walks, 114 strikeouts.

The kid? You may have seen him at Tuesday's all-star game -- and on a hundred or so highlight clips -- as he grew up to be all-star third baseman David Wright.

Happy Recap: Mets 8 Reds 3

Another grand performance by Carlos Beltran. He became the 23rd major leaguer to hit grand slams in consecutive games. David Eckstein was the last to do it, for the Angels in April 2002.
Beltran was hitless in his first 3 bases loaded at bats this season.

Beltran now leads Wright in HR (by 6), RBI (by 1), runs (by 9) and almost all of the cumulative offensive categories, despite missing a couple weeks and having 50 fewer at bats than Wright.
To head off controversy, yes I love Wright, and yes I know we can debate whether batting third or fifth in this lineup is more advantageous to statistical accumulation.
When David Wright hit cleanup for a few games he was on fire.

Which leads me to Nady and Valentin. These two guys will need to hit to prevent the bottom of the order from become a string of automatic outs and runners left on base. They produced in this game. Both hit solo home runs to give the Mets a 2-0 lead, and both had singles to start the 7th inning, which culminated with Beltran's slam.

Pelfrey once again pitched well enough to win. Once again he pitched to a lot of run support. And once again he reminded me of Brian Bannister.

Mets defense turned three double plays for him.
Griffey hit into on in the first to end the inning. Then Hatteberg hit into one in the second to make it two outs none out. Pelfrey loaded the bases that inning (with help from an error) but got out of it. Then another 1 out double play by Griffey in the third. He had two men on in the 5th and got out of it.
The baserunners caught up with him in the 7th, when he allowed 2 runs on 3 hits. Could have been worse but defense helped him again with another outfield assist, nailing Clayton at second.

Pelfrey threw 98 pitches in 6 innings. He walked 3 and gave up 7 hits (all singles). The Mets have had only 2 other pitchers win the first to starts of their careers (Gary Gentry and Dick Selma).

Monday, July 17, 2006

Remember This?

Seeing the Mets on the cover of Sports Illustrated reminded me of past glory.

Amazingly, none of these four guys is currently in the majors right now. But the Mets are trying to change all that by signing Edgardo Alfonzo to a minor league contract. Alfonzo is finished, and possibly a steroid suspect, having a few great years and a precipitous dropoff. He batted 11-87 this year in stints with the Angels and Blue Jays.

Midseason Awards

Mets Weekly handed out their midseason awards on this week's episode, here's the rundown, with my take.

Best Newcomer
The nominees: Billy Wagner, Carlos Delgado & Paul Lo Duca
Mets Weekly: Paul Lo Duca
I say: Carlos Delgado. We know it can't be Wagner (too many blown saves) and I know Delgado hasn't hit for long stretches but Lo Duca hasn't thrown out runners or driven in runs and I think Delgado helps Beltran and Wright by being in the cleanup spot

Best newcomer

Biggest Surprise
The nominees: Endy Chavez, Darren Oliver & Jose Valentin
Mets Weekly: Jose Valentin
I say: Jose Valentin. I love the job Oliver has done, and Chavez has been a great fourth outfielder especially because the three starters have all missed time. But Valentin is now a starter, and has done much more than expected.

Best Defensive Play
The nominees: David Wright diving stop to start double play against the Phillies, Lastings Milledge's throw to third and Anderson Hernandez' diving catch.
Mets Weekly: Anderson Hernandez
I say: Lastings Milledge throw. An unbelievable play that ushered in an era. Maybe throws like that are more common than catches like the one Hernandez made, but I don't care.

Best Walkoff
The nominees: Woodward's sacrifice fly to drive home Milledge in the second game of a doubleheader against the Giants, David Wright against the Yankees & Beltran's homer in the 16th against the Phillies
Mets Weekly: David Wright
I say: David Wright. I was at this one and the Woodward one. Anything that happens against the Yankees automatically doubles in importance.

The nominees: Jose Reyes, Tom Glavine & David Wright
Mets Weekly: David Wright
I say: David Wright, but this was actually closer than you might think. Jose Reyes is definitely the spark that starts the Mets fire. I think game-to-game his performance has the greatest impact on whether the team wins or loses. Tom Glavine has been great, imagine how bad the pitching staff would be in the 2004 Tom Glavine were pitching and he was 6-7, instead of 11-2 (first half). But there's just something about David Wright. He is special. He is clutch. He is our MVP!

Happy Recap: Mets 13 Cubs 7

What an inning. A game that started poorly became a game we'll never forget. Let's go through the 6th inning play-by-play.

Woodward flied out to center.
Beltran reached on an error by Todd Walker.
Delgado singled to center, should have been caught by Pierre.
Wright singled to right.
Floyd hit a grand slam.
Nady walked.
Castro reached on another error by Walker. He dropped the throw from third on a sure double play.
Chavez singled.
Valentin singled, could have been fielded by Ramirez.
Woodward hit into fielder's choice, Castro out at home.
Beltran hit a grand slam.
Delgado doubled.
Wright homered.
Floyd walked.
Nady walked.
Castro flied out.


Now some stats:
11 runs
8 unearned, due to 2 errors by Todd Walker
8 hits
16 batters
70 pitches seen
41 minutes from first pitch to last out
First time a team had 2 grand slams in one inning since 1999 when Fernando Tatis had 2 himself
Most runs in one inning in team history
Mets had only 2 grand slams all season before this
Mets scored 10 runs in an inning in 1979 against Cincinnati and against Atlanta, memorably, in 2000

El Duque was horrible. Through his first 7 starts as a Met he was great in the odd starts (2.57 ERA) but horrible in the even starts (15.41). Then he put up two good starts in a row (vs. Yankees & Pirates) so his order changed and now he got his ass kicked in his 9th start as a Met. Overall he is 3-4 with a 5.18 ERA since the trade.

Darren Oliver was great again in covering for a shitty start and keeping the game close enough.
Feliciano, Bradford, Bell, Heilman and Sanchez all pitched one inning. Heilman gave up 2 runs but I can't complain because he had an 8-run lead at the time.

grand slam number 1
grand slam number 2
Pierre should have caught this ball
Walker's second error
this shadow is awesome
I love Castro, check out this face he's making

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Unhappy Recap: Cubs 9 Mets 2

It was a tale of two games.

Juan Pierre led off the first inning with an infield single. That was the only hit by either side for the first 5 innings.

Valentin led off the 5th with a triple. Delgado singled him home, then Chavez singled home Beltran who had reached on a walk. Mets led 2-0, then completely fell apart.

Endy Chavez misplayed or lost in the sun a fly ball turning it into a triple. Glavine walked Derrek Lee and gave up a single to Aramis Ramirez. That was all for Glavine.

Chad Bradford came in and got the ground ball that was needed but it was only turned into a fielder's choice. Three hits later Bradford was out of the game and the score was 5-2.

Henry Owens couldn't get anyone out in the 8th, and that turned into 4 more runs. And that was that.

And that was that for Henry Owens too. He was sent back to Binghamton after the game (and he doesn't even live there). Heath Bell was called up.

Glavine lost for the first time in 14 starts (best since David Cone in 1989) and first time since April 24. He still can't get that 12th victory.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Happy Recap: Mets 6 Cubs 3

A good way to start the second half.

Mets got another strong start from Steve Trachsel who improved to 9-4 with his 7 straight victory. Of course he allowed his 2 runs in the bottom of the first inning, right after the Mets took a 1-0 in the top of the inning. After that Trachsel settled down and although he pitched slowly he held the Cubs in check for the next 5 innings. Trachsel did work speedily in the bottom of the 5th with the Mets holding a 5-2 lead and a storm on the horizon, retiring the side on only 6 pitches.

The Mets did their damage in the top of the fourth. Lo Duca and Beltran singled then Delgado struck out (he was 0-4 with 3 Ks). Then Wright singled to tie the game and Floyd doubled to give the Mets the lead. The Cubs intentionally walked Nady to set up the double play. They got Woodward to hit the double play ball but Nady's hard and questionable slide, forced Ronny Cedeno to make a wild throw, allowing Wright and Floyd to score.

don't think Nady could have reached the bag, could have been called out here

Huge downpour after the 5th inning caused a 45 minute rain delay. Each pitcher came back in the game after the rain delay but only pitched one inning.

Heilman and Sanchez pitched in the 7th and 8th giving Wagner a 6-2 lead to work with. He gave up a run but wasn't in any real trouble. And it wouldn't have been a blown save anyway.

got the job done

Chris Woodward was robbed of a home run by the umpires' bad call. He was given a triple and scored the 6th run on a sac fly by Marrero.

Greg Maddux is now 34-18 in his career against the Mets.

Cliff Floyd did two things he's done surprisingly often this season, make a great catch and get hit by a pitch.

nice catch
why, why me, why me

Second Half Preview

I checked my magic 8 ball this morning for a read on what might happen to the Mets the rest of the season. The 8 ball said "you've got a 12 game lead jackass, relax."

If I wanted to just relax and take it easy until October I'd be a Yankee fan. While I realize that it would take a monumental collapse to miss the playoffs, here are the top 5 reasons I'm worried:

5) Injuries
The strange situation with Pedro Martinez, the sliced finger of Jose Reyes and nagging injuries to Xavier Nady threaten to derail this team. Reyes is the engine that makes this team go, if he's not back to form that's big trouble. The past few the seasons the Mets have struggled with the bottom half of the lineup, if Floyd and Nady aren't healthy and hitting, Valentin will be protecting Wright and Endy Chavez will get up in way too many key situations. I also worry about Paul Lo Duca wearing down (like most catchers, his numbers usually decline in the second half) and I'd like to see Castro get some more PT. Then there's Pedro, who apparently injured his hip by slipping on a wet floor while rushing to change his undershirt because a batter complained about it during a game earlier this year. Freak injuries like that worry me because without Pedro the rest of our pitching staff is very old.

4) Age
While the starting lineup has a good mix of youth and veterans, the starting pitcher is ancient. Pedro is actually the youngest of the 4 starters the Mets have right now. We don't even know how old El Duque is. Trachsel seems to age double whenever he's on the mound and Glavine has been fading recently. Who knows how these guys will hold up in late October, God willing.

3) Bullpen
Once a strength of the team I look down there and see nothing but aggravation. Aaron Heilman has been bordering on horrible the last few months and the dominant Sanchez of April and May is gone. Chad Bradford has been excellent but will teams get a read on his slop if they see him a few times in a playoff series? Pedro Feliciano has been good but now he's in Willie's dog house. Henry Owens looks promising and Darren Oliver fills his role ably. Then there's Billy Wagner. He should be the closer we've been waiting for, but he's not. He's Benitez and Looper and Franco all rolled into one big ball of uncertainty. Even if he saves every game from now until the end of the season, I'll still hold my breath when he gets the ball late in a playoff game.

2) Short series
Anything can happen in a short series. One little thing in the first game of a series (like a guy not running and getting thrown out at home on a ball that hits the top of the wall, or a guy limping off the bench to hit a homer off the best closer ever) can change the whole outcome. No matter who the opponent, you always worry in a short series. Even more so if you don't have dominant starting pitching, which the Mets do not.

1) I'm a Mets fan
I've been through too many heartaches and near misses to believe that the Mets are going to walk through the playoffs and beat whichever American League team emerges. I've seen Terry Pendleton and Mike Scioscia. And John Rocker and Kenny Rogers. And Brian Jordan's grand slam. This year Game 4 of the World Series is being played on October 25, 2006, the 20th anniversary of the day I learned that God was a Mets fan. Maybe we can win this thing?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

All-Star Game

The Mets All-Stars played like it last night.

David Wright blasted a solo home run in the second to tie the game at 1. He grounded out (once into a double play) in his next two at bats.

Carlos Beltran doubled in the first inning but was stranded. In the third, he ripped a single to center with a man on second but Soriano was gunned down at home. Beltran then created that run by stealing third and scoring on a wild pitch. He lined out to left in the 6th and reached on an error in the 9th. I believe he was the only player to play all 9 innings.

Had the National League held on the two Mets may have very well shared MVP honors.

Paul Lo Duca went 0 for 2.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Through the doors to the New York Mets' clubhouse enter the young and the ancient, the slow and the swift, the homegrown and the mercenary, the charitable and the thrifty, the beautiful and (by official team balloting) the ugly, but never, for goodness' sake, the easily insulted.

"Welcome," catcher Paul Lo Duca says, "to Rip City, where we get on each other all the time."

True to their home city's heritage, the Mets are a melting pot of cultures, customs, languages and, yes, occasional off-color salutations that somehow works. Backed by owner Fred Wilpon's money, shaped by a childhood dream of general manager Omar Minaya, who was born in the Dominican Republic and reared in Queens, and ably guided by second-year manager Willie Randolph, the Mets are the rare sports team that has found instant success after a nearly complete overhaul.

Of the 29 players on the active roster and disabled list at week's end, 16 joined the major league club since the end of last season. Only eight played for the Mets before Minaya was named G.M. 22 months ago. And yet, in a veritable New York minute, the Mets have become the best team (53-36 through Sunday) in the weakest league in years, with by far the biggest lead in baseball (12 games in the otherwise loser-filled NL East) and the thickest skins this side of a Friars' Club roast.

"Look at the personalities they brought in here," says closer Billy Wagner, an 11-year veteran who signed as a free agent last winter. "We're all extroverts. Me, Lo Duca, [Carlos] Delgado, Pedro [Martinez].... It's not like guys came here and were afraid to say something. I think that's why we clicked right away. This is the best clubhouse I've ever been involved in. And the secret is that guys can say anything they want to anyone at any time."

That's not to say that communication is always clear. There was the time, for instance, when backup catcher Ramon Castro ("the class clown," as Lo Duca calls him) visited Wagner on the mound in a crucial situation against the Blue Jays.

"How about a coo-ba here?" is what Wagner, born in the rural mountains of Virginia, heard his Puerto Rican catcher say.

"A what?" Wagner asked.

"Coo-ba," Castro said.

"Curveball?" Wagner finally deciphered. "I don't have a curveball!"

"Well, O.K.," Castro said. "We're not throwing that anyway."

Castro is even better known for his portrayal of ample-bottomed lefthander Darren Oliver, a vaudevillian impersonation that he performs on charter flights -- with the help of two airline pillows stuffed into the seat of his pants.

Not even Martinez, the three-time Cy Young winner, is immune from catching grief. After Martinez overslept for a game in Toronto this year, he was greeted in the clubhouse by Wagner, who took one look at Martinez's garish-colored outfit and bellowed, "I sure hope you're not late because you were out shopping for that."

Another time Martinez returned to his locker after batting practice to find his wildly styled loafers strung up from his locker, a team custom to mock fashion statements that invite ridicule.

"A lot of times you'll see somebody's shirt hanging in the middle of the clubhouse," Martinez says. "Cliff [Floyd], his stuff seems to be hanging a lot."

Floyd also has drawn attention for the music that accompanies each of his at bats at home: the theme to Sanford and Son. The tune was picked by Lo Duca, who thought it apropos for the oft-hobbled leftfielder.

And then there's Wagner, who still hasn't lived down the time he asked the clubhouse caterer if he could have a gallon of milk to take home to Greenwich, Conn.

"You're making $10 million a year, and you won't spring for a gallon of milk on the way home?" Lo Duca told Wagner. "Reach into that wallet once in a while, will ya?"

When the Mets are rolling, as they have been for most of the season, they seem to have it all: pitching (they were second in the league in ERA at week's end), hitting (first in runs), speed (first in steals), power (second in homers) and that immeasurable but unmistakable element called chemistry, which develops when you can, with only the finest intentions, refer to your teammates as Visine, Moses and Captain Red Ass.

So charmed are the Mets that they entered the All-Star break 20-8 (.714) in one-run games -- only six teams in the post-1961 expansion era have played better than .700 ball in one-run games over a full season -- and had flourished despite having to use 11 starting pitchers in their first 88 games.

"Their versatility is very impressive," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said last week as the Mets took three of four games from Pittsburgh. "They have switch-hitters who hit equally well from both sides; they have guys on the bench who complement one another, which makes it hard to match up with them late in the game; and they can run and pitch. They can win games in a lot of different ways."

If the Mets keep this up, they will break or challenge franchise records for runs, home runs, stolen bases and opponent strikeouts while accelerating Minaya's time line for a pennant. Minaya has said that his goal for 2005 was to restore the franchise's image -- Delgado, a free agent that off-season, chose to sign with the Marlins in January '05 rather than the Mets because he deemed Florida the better team -- and for 2006 was to contend for a playoff spot. With such a large lead in the division, however, Minaya's revamped agenda is to fortify his rotation to carry the Mets through three rounds of playoff series. Unless the team's '05 first-round draft pick, righthander Mike Pelfrey, who allowed three runs in five innings to win his big league debut last Saturday, sticks, Martinez, 34 and with a sore hip (he was placed on the 15-day disabled list last Thursday, retroactive to June 29), would be their youngest postseason starter, fronting Tom Glavine, 40, Orlando Hernandez, 36, and Steve Trachsel, 35. In a humorous but telling moment last week Glavine stopped short when he stepped into the trainer's room to find a deli-counter-length queue. "Oh, my goodness," Glavine said, "what number are we serving in the whirlpool, number 9?"

"When we went 9-1 on the road trip [to Los Angeles, Arizona and Philadelphia in June], that's when I knew we had a good team," Minaya says. "But we still can be better. It's all about pitching, pitching, pitching. That's what I'm looking for every day."

Says a rival National League G.M., "They were the best team we've seen this year. But like everybody else, there are questions about their pitching. Everyone's scrambling for starting pitching, and it's everyone's dilemma that there may not be anything out there better than what you already have."

With the Marlins keeping Dontrelle Willis off the market, Minaya's best option for obtaining a pitcher who would start one of the first three games of a postseason series would seem to be Barry Zito, a potential free agent at season's end whom Oakland would consider trading only in a deal that keeps the A's competitive this year. That could mean that Minaya would have to give up 21-year-old Lastings Milledge, an athletic, aggressive outfielder who's precisely the kind of player who fits Minaya's vision of how the Mets should play the game.

"I grew up a fan of National League baseball and teams like the Dodgers, Pirates and Giants," Minaya says, recalling some of the early adapters of integration. "I believe in a balance of speed, power and pitching, like the way those teams played ball. I always wanted a team like that. The Mets never were one of those organizations. Traditionally they relied on pitching in a big ballpark. I always wanted more athleticism, and from Day One that's what I've tried to do here."

Minaya inherited two cornerstone players to help implement his blueprint: shortstop Jose Reyes and third baseman David Wright, both 23, who this week were scheduled to become the third-youngest pair of teammates to start an All-Star Game (trailing only Bobby Doerr and Ted Williams of the 1941 Red Sox and Dean Chance and Jim Fregosi of the 1964 Angels). Mr. Wright, as his many admirers refer to him, is fourth in the league in RBIs, with 74, though his matinee looks and knack for clutch hitting earn him no slack in the clubhouse.

"He's Visine," Wagner says. "You know, eyewash. One time he dove to catch a bunt he could have caught standing up. We all went like this...." Wagner rubs a finger along his eye, as if wiping away a tear.

"Wagner said that?" Wright says. "He talks a lot for a guy from the woods. You can't get in a word with that guy."

Reyes, meanwhile, is teaching Wright Spanish and, with his slashing hitting style and derring-do as a base runner, is schooling the rest of the league in how to disrupt opponents. "The best feeling of all," says Reyes, smiling, "is sliding headfirst into third base with a triple." (He leads the majors with 12.) So dangerous with his legs is Reyes that he is on pace to join MVP runner-up Lenny Dykstra of the 1993 Phillies as the only players since 1937 to score more than 140 runs without hitting 20 home runs.

"His improvement since last year is mind-boggling," Tracy says of Reyes, whose on-base percentage has risen from .300 in 2005 to .357 in '06. "The Mets are a good team, but when he's on base they're a different team. He takes them to another level."

Reyes has benefited from the counsel of 47-year-old backup first baseman Julio Franco, who was the first player Minaya tried to sign after being named Mets G.M. Minaya could not lure Franco away from Atlanta then, but he succeeded last winter by giving him a two-year contract.

"As long as I'm running a team, there are two guys who will always have a job with me: Rickey Henderson [a Mets special instructor] and Julio Franco," Minaya says. "That's how much I think of [Franco] as a person. He's like an extra coach on the staff. I knew he was as important to our chemistry as anybody."

Says Wright of the man who has spent some of his 29 pro seasons in Japan, South Korea and Mexico and has 2,546 major league hits, "He's talked to Jose and me about things like, 'If I only knew back then when I was young some of what I know now, I'd be looking at 3,000 hits.'" Adds Lo Duca, "That's Moses. He's all-knowing. Wisdom and knowledge, that's what he brings. He hasn't lost an argument yet."

For his part, Lo Duca seems ever in search of an argument, whether getting in the grill of his pitchers when they lose focus, spiking the baseball in a fit of anger at the feet of umpire Angel Hernandez or barking at Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez for styling too much after hitting a home run. "That's just me," says Lo Duca, whom Wagner refers to as Captain Red Ass. "Must be the Italian blood."

Minaya wound up with Lo Duca and Delgado, his cleanup hitter and first baseman, only after Florida's decision last winter to slash its payroll. Minaya knew a year ago that he needed a middle-of-the-order hitter, but he was unsure where to turn after a three-team midseason deal to get Manny Ramirez from Boston fell through when Tampa Bay backed out. (Minaya was prepared to trade Milledge in that deal.) "Power hitters like that just don't come on the market," Minaya says of Ramirez.

Then, on the final day of the general managers' meetings last November in Palm Springs, Marlins G.M. Larry Beinfest told Minaya, "We're prepared to talk about everybody except Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis." Says Minaya, "That started the ball rolling for the 2006 team." Delgado was the perfect fit: a premier power hitter, a close friend of quiet Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran, who struggled in 2005 trying to be the Mets' franchise player, and a charitable soul whom Minaya calls "a better person than he is a player." The Mets gave up three young players to get Delgado on Nov. 24, then two weeks later sent another pair of prospects to the Marlins to get Lo Duca.

"I had three-year offers out to [free-agent catchers] Ramon Hernandez and Bengie Molina," Minaya says. "Then Lo Duca popped up. I always feel like when you have a bird in hand, you take the bird."

In between those trades Minaya signed Wagner to a four-year, $43 million contract, fulfilling a promise he had made to Martinez and Glavine. "I told them, 'At this stage in your careers, I promise you I will do everything I can to make sure you get the wins that are coming to you,'" Minaya says. "We went after B.J. Ryan and Wagner. I give the Blue Jays credit. They went out aggressive on Ryan, giving him five years right away. We needed Wagner after that."

Wagner did not become fully vested as a Met until May 21, when he saved a game against the Yankees the day after blowing a four-run lead against the crosstown rivals. Minaya, understanding that Wagner had to pass such a trial by fire, told him in the clubhouse after that save, "Congratulations. You just won us the pennant."

Minaya's blueprint has worked as well on the field as it promised to on paper. Martinez and Glavine have 18 total wins, half of which have been saved by Wagner. Beltran, buoyed by the presence of Delgado, is one of a franchise-record six All-Stars, sports a career-high .995 OPS and was recently named one of People magazine's 100 most beautiful people -- a designation that inspired a teamwide vote to determine the ugliest Met. (Castro, Franco and Eli Marrero tied for the honor. "Finishing in a very strong second place was David Wright," says Lo Duca.) Wright and Reyes, insulated by veteran stars, have blossomed without the added burden of being team leaders. Franco leads the league in pinch hits and stories told.

"Cleveland, that was the worst for team chemistry," Franco says. "We'd get 80,000 [fans] on Opening Day and 2,000 after that. By the All-Star break we'd be 20 games out, and guys were worried only about their stats, not winning. Now in Mexico.... "

Still, Minaya is not satisfied. Sitting over a cup of Navy-bean soup last week at a New Jersey diner, the towers of the George Washington Bridge looming through the window behind him, Minaya, expert though he may be on the lay of this land, wore a countenance drawn more from concern than confidence. He wants his team to improve on grinding out at bats, the way he watched the Red Sox do while sweeping a three-game series from his club late last month. (The Mets went on a 3-6 slide against AL East powers Toronto, Boston and New York.) He knows he may need another pitcher. The architecture of these new Mets, he knows, is a work in progress. The concrete is still wet.

"What is New York Mets-style baseball?" asks Minaya. "That's what we're working on: to have something in place that lasts going forward. So that when you think of the New York Mets, you think of players who can take the extra base or take you deep. Power. Speed. Athleticism. We're getting there."

Wright's Derby

David Wright started the Home Run Derby with a bang, but went out with a whimper.
Wright blasted 16 homers in the first round (3rd best all-time). He had Paul Lo Duca pitch to him, because Lo Duca asked him.
Wright faded, hitting only 2 in the second round. But because of the new rules his score carried over, and his big lead enabled him to move on to the finals.
Then scores were reset for the final round. Wright went first and hit 4 home runs. Ryan Howard still had 5 outs left when he blasted his fifth home run to become the champion.
I am not worried about either player having a Home Run Derby jinx. Both are strong, young sluggers.
I don't think Wright's fatigue will carry over until tonight, or into Friday.
Remember the Mets get an extra day off after the All-Star break this year.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Happy Recap: Mets 7 Marlins 6

M-V-P! M-V-P!

I know that David Wright won't win this year because it's a very stats-driven award, but he has been great this season. The thing that I always felt Mike Piazza (and A-Rod) lacked was that ability to hit a home run, when you absolutely had to have it. If Wright didn't hit a homer there, the Mets would probably lose that game, and in the process 3 out of 4 to the Marlins. But coming through in those situations is what separates the good players from the great players. And the compilers from the transcendant.

Mets got on the board in the board in the 5th on a 2-run homer by Nady, who is starting to get his stroke back after his injury and a long slump with runners in scoring position.

Then things got interesting. Valentin doubled, then Lo Duca hit a grounder to Cabrera, that could have been fielded, though it was a tough play. The ball rolled into left field and a run scored. Apparently, the pitcher, Olsen, made some kind of gesture that Cabrera didn't like. After the inning, Cabrera confronted him in the dugout. They were separated, then as Olsen walked by to get to the clubhouse, Cabrera stuck his finger to his temple and pushed him. Olsen swatted at him and they were separated again. I thought this was all Cabrera's fault for being too sensitive to Olsen's body language, and for not making the play in the first place. But in the papers today Olsen was the one who apologized. Apparently, Olsen has had run-ins with other teammates this season. Also I wonder if Cabrera is acting like a diva because he is the team's best player.

Cabrera had a chance to make amends in the 6th but he hit a weak fly ball with bases loaded and no one. Glavine got the next guy also but with two outs Jacobs hit a 2-run single.

It all fell apart in the 7th, Glavine gave up the tying run, then gave way to Chad Bradford who came in with a man on third and one out and gave up a single to Ramirez. Ramirez stole second, went to third on Piazza's (I mean Lo Duca's) throwing error and scored on a sacrifice fly.

Trailing 5-3, things looked very bleak. Valentin walked, Lo Duca singled, Beltran singled, Delgado made out and then our hero saved us.

Billy Wagner gave up a home run in the 9th but I couldn't care less as long as he saves the game. I don't think you can really blame him because he pitched the way you are supposed to pitch with a 2 run lead. Throw strikes, if you give up a solo home run, you buckle down and get the next guy. He struck out the next two.

Wright's homer gave the Mets 3 20-homer guys before the break for the first time in team history.

Glavine and Reyes will not play in the All-Star game, meaning the Mets will have 3 starters, but only half of the 6 selected will actually play.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Happy Recap: Mets 17 Marlins 3

A nice easy major debut for Mike Pelfrey. He didn't pitch that great, throwing a lot of pitches, having a ton of guys on but for the most part avoiding trouble. He threw 104 pitches, allowed 5 hits and 4 walks in only 5 innings. He gave up 3 runs, one of which was unearned. But most importantly, he got the win, the first of his career, and maybe he'll stick around for his second major league start. All in all, his performance reminded me of what we got out of Brian Bannister early in the season.

But Pelfrey and Bannister are a combined 3-0, while Lima and Maine are a combined 0-7.

Just a great game offensively. Jose Valentin got it off to a great start with a grand slam, then in the second inning with the bases loaded he only got a triple. 7 RBI in the first two innings.

Cliff Floyd also contributed 5 RBI. Floyd and Valentin are going to be very important for this team as I expect they will bat 6th and 7th for most of the rest of the season. But if the team doesn't get healthy (Delgado and Lo Duca) they'll need to contribute much more.

It really is a pleasure to watch a game where there really isn't much doubt that the Mets are going to win it.

Unhappy Recap: Marlins 3 Mets 2

Another game in which the Mets could not get a hit with scoring position.
Injuries and the fact that this was the first game of a doubleheader forced a makeshift lineup, especially after Delgado had to leave the game after being hit by a pitch.

After Delgado was hit in the second inning, Floyd singled but Nady struck out with first and third. Then Maine struck out with the bases loaded, but that was to be expected. Especially because on Monday, Maine apparently became unglued after he sprinted to first base on a grounder. Running to first tired him out and therefore he got bombed in the next inning, according to Maine, Howie Rose, Willie Randolph, and presumably Claudia.

In the fifth inning, Woodward popped out with the bases loaded, then after two walks tied the score at 2, Wright flew out with the bases still loaded.

In typical Mets fashion, Maine came right back the next inning and gave up another solo homer to make it 3-2.

The Mets had one more chance in the 8th but with two on Lo Duca struck out and Castro grounded out.

Reyes was inserted as a pinch runner to possibly score the winning run. He was running at one point and on a foul ball he slid head first into third base, Howie Rose said "I retire."

On the whole Maine didn't pitch badly, he allowed 3 solo homers but otherwise he was effective enough to win on a day when the Mets put up more than 3 hits.

Chad Bradford was once again excellent as he bailed Feliciano out of trouble in the 8th. Duaner Sanchez came on for the 9th and got into it with the Miguels after he hit Cabrera and bounded off the mound after striking out Olivo.

Just What We Need

Jose Reyes left in the seventh inning of Friday night's game with a cut on his left pinky.
He appeared to get spiked on a headfirst slide into first base and needed seven stitches in the finger. X-rays were negative.
"Everything is fine," Reyes said, adding he would sit out Saturday's doubleheader and Sunday's game against the Marlins.
As for Tuesday night's All-Star game in Pittsburgh, "The doctor says `Let's see how it feels in the next couple of days,"' Reyes said

Unhappy Recap: Marlins 7 Mets 3

Jose Lima sucks.

In broadcast news, we might all that an NS lead (no shit). In magazine, an editor might say ARK (assume reader knows), but just in case Willie Randolph or Omar Minaya reads this blog I'll say it again.

Jose Lima sucks.

He's been terrible in four starts giving the team no chance to win. He must not start again.

This game actually didn't start out too badly for him.

He gave up a leadoff single, then the runner took third on the ground ball and scored on Franco's throwing error. But he was able to settle down and get the next two. He had 2 on in the second and got out of it, and pitched a 1-2-3 third. Then came the fourth inning.

It started with a walk to Cabrera and a double to Jacobs. Then he got an easy grounder to Wright, but Wright's throw was too high and it loaded the bases. This is when Lima lost his composure. He gets too excited on the mound. I actually heard Willie on the radio talking about getting him to calm down. Didn't work.

Two weak singles made it 3-0. Then Dontrelle Willis came up (still no one out) and hit a grand slam. Willie tried to give him another chance, but when the next batter singled, he had to take Lima out, hopefully for the last time.

Oliver pitched five good innings to save the rest of the bullpen and prove once and for all that he should be the first option when the Mets need a spot starter.

The Mets weren't much better on offense, leaving tons of runners on base:
First inning, first and second, none out: Beltran flies out, Wright and Franco strike out.
Second inning, first and second, none out: Castro strikes out, Lima sacrifices, Reyes walks and Woodward strikes out.
Those innings happened when the score was 1-0 and the game was still in doubt.
After the Marlins took a 7-0 lead the Mets came back on a Woodward homer and a 2-run double by Nady in the fifth.
Also in the fifth inning, first and third, two out: Castro strikes out.
Eighth innings, first and third, one out: Valentin strikes out, Woodward lines out.

Castro also struck out earlier in that inning, a really bad night for my boy.

The one bright spot was the performance of Henry Owens, he pitched a good and fun ninth inning. He throws hard, has an interesting delivery and hopefully can keep a spot in the bullpen for the rest of the year.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Pitching Problems

Right now the Mets have the surprisingly effective Steve Trachsel, the possibly fading but still going great Tom Glavine, the up-and-down but lately-up El Duque, and the injured Pedro Martinez as their starting rotation.

With Soler gone (hopefully for good) that 5th spot is up for grabs. The only problem with that is, while Pedro is hurt, a 4th spot is open as well. And because of the doubleheader, the mets actually need 6 starters this week.

Enter Jose Lima and John Maine. Neither of them has been any good in their 5 combined starts this season. And unless Pelfrey is great and Pedro comes back immediately one of them is going to be needed for at least a couple more starts.

Therefore, I think it's time to give Aaron Heilman a spot in the rotation. He is not pitching well out of the bullpen so it's not much of a sacrifice. And even if he is pouting in the pen (which I don't think he is) who cares if we'd rewarding that, the fact is, he's better than the other options.

But I don't expect stubborn Willie and stubborn Omar to break from their plan of strong bullpen, even though Heilman has been the worst reliever pretty much all season.

give the kid a chance

Pitching Prospects

Due to the injury to Pedro Martinez and the demotion of Heath Bell (who could not be recalled to replace Pedro since his DL stint was retroactive to when Bell was on the team) the Mets have reached deep into their minor league system and brought up two pitchers from Binghamton.

To make a start in Saturday's doubleheader the Mets called up Mike Pelfrey. Pelfrey, the ninth player chosen in the draft, has produced a 6-3 record and 2.45 ERA in his Minor League starts -- four with the Class A St. Lucie Mets and 12 with Binghamton. He has pitched 88 1/3 innings, allowing 77 hits, three home runs and 28 walks and striking out 103 batters.

bats in the Pelfrey

To fill the spot in the bullpen we have Henry Owens. In 23 appearances spanning 25 innings, Owens was 2-1 with a 1.08 ERA and 11 saves, having struck out 51 batters. He had allowed as many hits as walks all year (eight).

Owens with Lo Duca in spring training

It should be very interesting to watch how the Mets handle these young pitchers. I'm not worried about Owens, he is 27 years old and a reliever. Pelfrey has less than one year of pro experience. I know most people say "bring him up, see what he can do" but there is a possibility of damaging a young player. If Pelfrey gets bombed, once or a few times, it could destroy his confidence. While I do agree with the move to bring him up, I don't think it's time to panic, and hope if he doesn't pitch well the Mets will send him back down for more seasoning.

Happy Recap: Mets 7 Pirates 5

Nothing like a visit from the Pirates to help a struggling team get well. Even with the blowout loss on Monday the Mets have now won 3 in a row.

Trachsel has now won 6 straight starts (not just decisions) to improve to 8-4. Funny thing is, his ERA is 4.67, exactly what it was when he started the streak. Another up and down night for him. He consistently pitched out of trouble until the 5th when he gave up a couple runs. He tired in the 7th and Heilman allowed one inherited runner.

Heilman was bad once again, allowing the inherited runner to score in the 7th, and allowing a double, a triple and a run in the 8th.

Wagner got the save, he did give up a run, but it was an error on Marrero that helped it along. I've always said about closers, just win the game. I don't care if he'd given up two runs and had the bases loaded, as long as the team wins the game.

I've been really worried about Cliff Floyd this year, so it was nice to see him start the scoring off with a 2-run double. Especially because it came off a left handed pitcher.

Mets added another run with help from 2 walks, a stolen base and 2 wild pitches, but a groundout by Delgado got the run home. Wright couldn't get Lo Duca home from third with one out.

But he made up for it later in the game by hitting his 19th homer, giving him 70 RBI.

The other two runs came on a single by Reyes, which actually happened the inning before Wright's homer.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Happy Recap: Mets 5 Pirates 0

A very strange game.

Mets get 5 runs on 4 hits in the first inning. Once again Reyes gets it started, with a triple. Jose Valentin and Endy Chavez once again delivered from the bottom of the lineup, driving in three runs. But those three hits, and Lo Duca's that drove in Reyes, were the only four the Mets would get all night.

They were no-hit for the last 7 innings of the game. But they had such a big lead it didn't really matter? Was it a good sign that they won, without hitting? Or a bad sign that maybe there are serious problems with the offense?

If there are problems El Duque masked them last night. His second straight excellent start he kept the aggressive Pirates hitters off balance.

Chad Bradford and Duaner Sanchez finished the game.

The win was the 50th of the season, the first NL team to reach that plateau this year.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Happy Recap: Mets 7 Pirates 6

Huge bounceback victory, this could be the game that turns them around and gets them off the schneid.

As bad as they have been playing they still showed a lot of heart to come back in this game. And it was Xavier Nady who got the key hit, he has been awful with runners in scoring position lately.

Tom Glavine didn't pitch well and therefore didn't get his 12th win of the season.

Heilman once again had another ok outing. But Duaner Sanchez pitched well and improved his record to 5-0.

Billy Wagner nailed it down in the 9th for his 300th career save. As disappointing as he has been this season he's had a remarkable career. Most closers come and go after a couple good years. After Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera, Billy Wagner has had a great career.

Unhappy Recap: Pirates 11 Mets 1

Another disastrous game.

Mets lost last two games by a combined scored of 27-8.

John Maine didn't pitch too badly.

It was Chad Bradford and Pedro Feliciano who imploded, similar to Heath Bell against the Yankees.

Paul Maholm is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA against the Mets this year. Against the rest of the league he is 2-6 with a 5.21 ERA.

Mets left 2 runners on in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th innings.

Monday, July 03, 2006

All-Star Mets

The Mets have sent 6 players to the All-Star Game in Pittsburgh next Tuesday. David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Paul Lo Duca were all voted in as starters. Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine were voted in as backups. I guarantee Pedro will withdraw due to injury however. Billy Wagner is a candidate thanks to MLB's Final Vote gimmick. I think Nomar is more deserving than Wagner.

Hot in June

David Wright was named National League Player of the Month for June for hitting .327 with 10 home runs and 29 runs batted in. He is the first Mets position player to receive the award since Howard Johnson in September 1991.

Unhappy Recap: Yankees 16 Mets 7

What a freakin disaster.

One of the worst games in Mets history.

So much for jumping out to an early lead.

Willie made a huge mistake not taking Soler out of the game one he got into trouble. He could not throw strikes, and when he finally did they were hittable. After the A-Rod grand slam the game was over.

Think the fans will lay off him now? Even though the game was 16-7 his grand slam was meaningful. His second homer was a typical A-Rod. He can be great when there's no pressure. Seems like he may be turning the corner though, as far as hitting in the clutch.

Beltran added two meaningless home runs. Can't really complain about him though, he's gotten some big home runs.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Happy Recap: Mets 8 Yankees 3

A good way to end a tough losing streak.

This team starts with Jose Reyes. When he gets on and over and in, in the first inning, this team wins. When he doesn't hit (and the other team jumps out to an early lead) the Mets are in trouble. David Wright came through with a big hit to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.

Trachsel of course was Trachsel. He didn't pitch horribly, just slowly, always in trouble, and as we expect, he did give back the 2-run lead.

Ramon Castro put the Mets ahead for good with a two-run single (Viva Castro). Reyes and LoDuca followed up with RBI singles and the Mets were ahead 7-2.

Trachsel did a good job holding the lead after that.

Heilman as usual looked shaky. And Wagner came on and pitched well in the 9th.

Although A-Rod got the big homer earlier this week, and he did drive in the Yankees first run in this game, he hit a solo homer off Heilman in the 8th with the score 8-2.

Trachsel now has the same 7-4 record as Pedro.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Unhappy Recap: Yankees 2 Mets 0

Not much to say about a 1-hit shutout. The Mets sucked last night, for the fourth straight game in a row.

They couldn't even muster more than one hit off the awful Yankees bullpen.

El Duque looked pretty good though. If he can pitch like that the rest of the season, consistently, he can fill the void behind Glavine and Pedro. The double-edged sword of this whole deal, is that he probably won't pitch that way all season, he was just more pumped up to face the Yankees and won't muster that intensity for the Marlins or Nationals. That's good because it means he should be able to be a good pitcher in the playoffs (as he's always been) should the Mets get there.

Still worried about Duaner Sanchez though he did get through a scoreless inning for the first time since his freak injury.

Horrible to see that HGH inflated Jason Giambi hit a home run. Everyone knows he's on HGH, but we can't prove it. Drives me nuts.