Friday, October 20, 2006

'06 is Over

It's hard not to be disappointed about the way it ended but we'd be cheating ourselves if we didn't remember 2006 as a great year for the New York Mets. There were some great moments (walkoff win vs. Yanks, walkoff homers by Beltran vs. Philly in the 16th and against the Cardinals) and there were some bad times (Game 7 chief among them). Jose Reyes emerged as one of the best players anywhere. Carlos Beltran showed he can and will succeed in New York. Endy Chavez provided lots of excitement. I think someday we'll look back on 2006 the way we look back on 1984. This could be the start of something big.

There's Always Next Year

It didn't work out for the Mets this year. The 20th anniversary of the 1986 team didn't prove to be as magical as the original. Maybe it'll happen on the 21st, or 22nd. It will happen, someday soon.

The Mets still have David Wright and Jose Reyes who will man the left side of the infield until 2020. Add Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado and you've got four players as good as any team in the majors.

The Mets will still have a good bullpen next year with Duaner Sanchez and Billy Wagner and Aaron Heilman if he is not traded.

The starting rotation may be overloaded next spring. Pedro will still be on the shelf but the Mets will almost definitely sign a top of the rotation guy to go with him and Tom Glavine. All signs point to Barry Zito. Glavine is 10 wins shy of 300 and in the last year of his contract. But he has definitely been good enough to be a #3 starter. The last two spots could be filled by John Maine who earned it throughout this season but especially in Game 6 and Oliver Perez. Perez is an enigma who has talent, but not the ability to harness it. He showed enough in Game 7 to earn a spot next year, but it remains to be seen if he can regain whatever made him special in 2004. Steve Trachsel's last act as a Met was the worst start in postseason history. One inning, five runs, 12 batters faced, 2 outs. El Duque also isn't under contract for 2007 and at his advanced age I doubt he'll be retained. Even so, that currently leaves no rotation spot for Mike Pelfrey or Philip Humber.

Reyes, Wright, Lo Duca, Beltran, Delgado and Green will all be back next year. That will be the curse of the Shawn Green trade, another year of a right fielder who can't hit, throw, run or field. Lastings Milledge should be in left field full time now that Cliff Floyd limped through the end of his Mets career. But Willie and the team's veterans clearly hate Milledge and it might never work out for the kid here. The Mets need a new second baseman but I don't think Alfonso Soriano fits into the character or makeup of this team.

The future's so bright it's shining through today's dark cloud.

The Cardinals

The Cardinals are who we thought they were. They are who we thought they were. So you wanna crown them, then go ahead and crown their ass. But they are who we thought they were and we let them off the hook.

Why the Mets Lost

1) Because they could not get key hits. Too many runners left on base in key spots.
2) Because the bullpen wasn't good. The pen blew games 2 & 7.

And those were the strengths of the team coming into the series.

The Mets didn't lose because:
1) starting pitchers were hurt. Which games could the Mets have won with better starting pitching? Game 2. That's it. In Games 3, 5 & 7 they scored 3 runs, combined. No pitching would overcome that.
2) Cliff Floyd was hurt. He may have helped fill the holes in the bottom of the lineup, but Endy provided some key defense that Floyd could not have. And the most memorable moment of the series.
3) of Willie Randolph. He did a fine job managing this series. He did a few minor things differently than I would have done, but some of them worked out. My biggest complaint is that they were not aggressive enough on the base paths early in the series.

Unhappy Recap: Cardinals 3 Mets 1

A devastating loss for the Mets. They just couldn't get the big hit. 0-3 with the bases loaded including the game ender by Beltran and the strike out by Valentin.

I don't blame Willie Randolph for anything he did in this series. I would have left Heilman in for another inning also. Wagner wasn't anymore likely than Heilman to blow the game. We just couldn't get that prick Yadier Molina out.

I also don't disagree with batting Floyd in the 9th inning. I would not have bunted because then you reduce your chances to get a hit from 3 to 2. If it were a 1 run lead, that's different, but the guy on first needed to score also. Floyd was just overmatched.

The Mets really lost the game in the 7th inning when after Rolen's error they couldn't get home Delgado from third with only one out. Valentin struck out and Chavez flew out.

Oliver Perez was great. I think he pitched even better than Maine did in Game 6, he just happened to get hurt by a safety squeeze which was preceded by a bloop hit.

One of the most upsetting things about this game was the fact that Endy Chavez' catch won't be remembered the way it should be. When you include the situation, that was one of the best catches of all-time. And he turned it into a double play. I was absolutely astounded by that. And that was when I really thought the Mets were going to win. Still looking for good action photos of the catch.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Happy Recap: Mets 4 Cardinals 2

JOSE! Jose, Jose, Jose! Jose! Jose!
John Maine! JohnMaine, JohnMaine, JohnMaine! John Maine! John Maine!

John Maine chose the right time to have the game of his life. He only pitched 5 and a third, and he worked out of trouble in the first two innings (Rolen with bases loaded could have been a disaster), but the final product is all that matters. The fact that he got the game to bullpen without giving up any runs is more than any of us could have hoped for.

Jose Reyes got the offense going with a home run in the first and Shea Stadium exploded. Went absolutely nuts. He was also on base 3 other times (once on a fielder's choice). But he finally wreaked some havoc on the base paths.

The second run in the 4th was key because it was aided by hits by Wright and Green, two guys who had been black holes in the lineup for most of the series.

I think Willie made the right move trying to stretch Maine into the sixth inning. He was pitching great so it was worth a chance. I also agreed with his decision and timing in taking him out.

Same with Bradford. And I do not have a problem with him bringing in Mota to face Duncan with a man on in the seventh. Lefty rigthy crap is overrated. Matchups and talent are what's important.

In the 7th the Mets finally got a contribution from their bench when Tucker singled and stole second. Him and Reyes eventually scored on Lo Duca's single. After that hit, Shea Stadium was the loudest I have ever heard it. The place was rocking, literally.

And then Wagner came along. I do not know what his problem is but he's given up 5 runs in this series already. He reminds me of Rick Vaughn in Major League 2. Until he figures this out he's no good to anybody.

I hate So Taguchi.

Game 7 for all the mah-bulls.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Unhappy Recap: Cardinals 4 Mets 2

This game was a disaster. The Mets needed this one, with Glavine on the mound. Now they are in the unenviable position of having to play two perfect games in a row.

I really think this game turned on the umpiring. The home plate umpire was not giving Glavine the outside strike, but he was calling pitches inside.

He was able to work around being behind in the count in the first couple of inning but it caught up with him in the fourth. Pujols hit a home run, that's going to happen. But then he walked Rolen and gave up singles to Edmonds and Belliard. Belliard's was a poke into right field. The Cardinals took the lead in the 5th on a bloop by Eckstein (some bad luck) and a double by Wilson to right.

Have you noticed that Shawn Green is horrible on defense? He is slow getting to balls and he can't throw. And he's contributing nothing on offense. How many triples to right have the Cards had in this series? Runners scoring that might have been thrown out by a better right fielder.

Speaking of doing nothing offensively, David Wright is killing the team. He struck out in the first inning with first and third. The Mets should have had at least one run in that inning but Reyes has not been running. If he'd been off on that pitch, Lo Duca's grounder would have been a single, instead of a fielder's choice. Wright also flew out with Delgado on base in the fourth. Wright got only his second hit, a double in the 8th inning to give the Mets one last glimmer of hope. But Green flew out to shallow to score Delgado and Valentin struck out.

The Cardinals bullpen was awesome once again (except for Game 4) in shutting down the Mets, and getting first pitch strikes. 7 batters in a row in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings, were started with a first pitch strike, looking.

The Mets are not winning this series because they are not using their strengths.
Reyes has reached base 7 times but has no steals.
The bullpen blew Game 2 and held Game 1, but otherwise hasn't been a factor.
And the bottom of the Mets order is not contributing. 18 of the 22 RBI are by 3 players (Beltran, Valentin and Delgado).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Happy Recap: Mets 12 Cardinals 5

Delgado, Del Got It.

Carlos came up HUGE in a must win game, with 5 straight RBI to take a 2-2 tie and make it a 7-3 lead. First he blasted a 3-run homer (his second 3-run shot of the series) to the opposite field to give the Mets some breathing room. Then his bases loaded double put the game away.

Carlos Beltran and David Wright homered for the first two runs, and Beltran homered again later. Beltran now has 3 homers in the LCS. David Wright's homer was his first hit of the LCS.

Shawn Green and Jose Valentin also got into the act and the Mets were finally able to showcase the strength of their team...lineup depth.

Oliver Perez was also a bright spot. I know the numbers don't look great but the last two runs I don't really care about. When you have a big lead, like he did, you want him to challenge hitters because walks are almost as dangerous as homers, especially to a pitcher like Perez who has wildness issues and can lose his control in a hurry.

He also pitched long enough so that Heilman and Wagner were spared. Though I would have preferred Willie used Roberto Hernandez for the 9th instead of Mota.

I also thought Willie screwed up leaving Perez in to bat with the bases loaded (shades of Mota in LDS Game 1) but it worked out for the best.

The Mets regained homefield advantage with the victory.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Unhappy Recap: Cardinals 5 Mets 0

A complete and utter disaster. Steve Trachsel pitched one of the worst games any starter has ever pitched in the playoffs. He faced 12 batters, walked 5 of them and allowed 5 hits including a home run by the pitcher.

But it probably wouldn't have mattered. The Mets could not hit Jeff Suppan. He went 8 innings and allowed only 3 hits.

The momentum in this series is now squarely in the Cardinals camp.

The only positives for the Mets were a triple by Jose Reyes and 6 great innings from Darren Oliver out of the pen. He gave Heilman, Wagner, Mota, Feliciano and Bradford a day off which they may very well need. That is why Tim McCarver was wrong for criticizing Willie for leaving Oliver in the game. The Mets had to give up on Game 3 and try to save the bullpen for Games 4 & 5.

Unhappy Recap: Cardinals 9 Mets 6

Before the playoffs Reissberg and I spoke about an article in Sports Illustrated that showed the Mets were strong in the areas that most indicated postseason success, according to an evaluation of previous World Series winners. One of them was the ability of their pitchers to get strike outs. The big reason for this loss was the inability to get that final strike in several key spots.

And it was especially painful because another aspect of the Mets success (scoring early) was in evidence when Carlos Delgado slugged a 3-run homer in the first inning.

The John Maine went to work, he walked Edmonds and Encarnacion despite having them at two strike counts. Yadier Molina then doubled in 2 runs.

The Mets got another back in the bottom of the second but Maine quickly blew that lead.

He walked the Mighty Pooh Holes on 8 pitches (four foul balls) then gave up the game-tying home run to Edmonds after having him in an 0-2 hole.

But the Mets offense would not be deterred, another home run by Delgado and a double by Lo Duca gave the Mets a 6-4 lead, until Mota came in.

Mota had been great late in the regular season and even pretty good in the playoffs; he did blow Game 1 of the NLDS but the Mets won anyway. Mota got the first two batters easily, then came up the Patient Pooh Holes. He started with a 3-0 counted, then a strike, then 6 straight foul balls, before Pooh Holes singled. Edmonds walked on four pitches. Mota settled down and got 2 strikes on Spezio, but couldn't put him away. He hit one deep to right that Green could have caught, but didn't and it resulted in a game tying triple.

In the 8th inning, Heilman needed 12 pitches to get out David Eckstein.

Leading off the the 9th, So Taguchi comes off the bench. On the 9th pitch of the at bat, which started with an 0-2 count, he homered to win the game. Yes, the Cardinals scored two more runs and the Mets still had an inning, but the game was over. Wagner blew another one at the wrong time. But he had a lot of help from Maine and Mota.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Happy Recap: Mets 2 Cardinals 0

A great win for the Mets who could not have afforded to fall behind 1-0 in this series.

Basically two people won this game, Tom Glavine and Carlos Beltran.
Glavine was everything we could have possibly hoped for, pitching 7 shutout innings, after 6 shutout innings against the Dodgers. He is now tied with Andy Pettitte for second all-time with 14 playoff victories. He is one behind former teammate John Smoltz.

Willie Randolph made a good move not pinch hitting for him in the 6th, it was still too early to go to the bullpen.

Then with two outs Lo Duca dribbled a single into left field and Beltran crushed one. And that was all the Mets would need. Beltran has 9 homers in 16 career playoff games. He has 5 in 8 LCS games against St. Louis. Once again proving that some guys get it done when the pressure is on, and others don't.

The key at bat of the whole game came in the top of the 8th inning. Mota had two outs and walked David Eckstein. I was actually happy about this because it meant if he could get Wilson Pooh Holes couldn't hurt us in the 9th. Then Mota threw three straight balls to Wilson. But he fought back and got the out. I am sure that if Pooh Holes had come up with 2 on in that spot, the score would have been 3-2.

In the top of the 9th Willie made his only managerial mistake. After Lo Duca singled to start the inning he should have been removed for a pinch runner. There really was nothing to lose (not that big a deal to have Castro catch one inning) and it probably would have resulted in one more run, Delgado doubled one batter later.

Wagner was good but not dominant coming out of the pen. But he got Pooh Holes and he got his third save of the postseason.

The Cardinals did hit into some tough luck in this game, hitting several line drives that were caught, one of which became a double play. The Incredible Pooh Holes even turned a short fly to center into a double play with some bad baserunning.

Cliff Floyd got injured again during the game forcing the Mets to go to Endy Chavez. Chavez has been great all season and though he went 0-3 last night he made a diving catch that Floyd never would have made. The problem is, the Mets bench, already weak, will now be without Chavez. I imagine the Mets will use Floyd if healthy, only as a pinch hitter.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Happy Recap: Mets 9 Dodgers 5

The clincher!!!!!!!!!!

Definitely the worst game of the three playoff games. Trachsel did not pitch well and the bullpen was worse. If not for some timely hitting (em where they ain't), the Mets would have to send Oliver Perez to the mound to prevent a Game 5.

Don't get me wrong. Things started well enough. Reyes made the first out. Then Lo Duca walked. Then Beltran singled but Lo Duca was thrown out at third. He took the chance because Drew dove for the ball. But Lo Duca had to stop to see if it would be caught, and Lofton was backing up the play.

Beltran's bloop

After that out Delgado, Wright, Floyd and Green all singled, resulting in 3 runs and another early lead.

The Mets got nothing in the second despite a hit by Reyes (caught stealing) and LoDuca reaching on a HBP.

Lo Duca hit by pitch in the second

The Mets tacked on one run in the third when Shawn Green hit one off the top of the wall in left sending Marlon Anderson tumbling.

Cliff Floyd scored on the play but got hurt coming around third base.

Trachsel lost his stuff in the 4th and loaded the bases. James Loney doubled in 2 runs ending Trachsel's night.

Darren Oliver came in with second and third and one out and caught a huge break. A line drive was hit right to him, for an easy double play.

But Oliver wasn't so lucky in the 5th when he allowed a game-tying 2-run homer to Jeff Kent.

Bradford relieved Oliver and gave up a bloop single to Russell Martin on a pitch that was about 6 inches off the ground. Bradford went 3-0 on Wilson Betemit, eventually walked him to load the bases. Up came Loney again, this time against Feliciano. He also worked a 3-0 count, eventually walking in the go-ahead run.

Nothing aggravates me more than a relief pitcher coming in from the bullpen and walking the first batter he faces. Especially in a tied playoff game. He saved himself by getting out Nomar with the bases still loaded.

The resilient offense came right back on RBI singles by Reyes, LoDuca and Beltran. All three were bloop singles that happened to find a hole.

So the Mets turned a 7-5 lead over to the bullpen. Mota survived two innings. Then they tacked on 2 more runs in the 8th, giving Heilman a 4 run lead. He gave up 2 hits but no runs in the 8th and Wagner closed the game for the victory.


What the fuck is Mota doing?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Happy Recap: Mets 4 Dodgers 1

Thanks to the left arm of Tom Glavine and some timely hitting the Mets now have a 2-0 lead on the Dodgers with Game 3 Saturday night at 7:30.

This game lacked the excitement of Game 1, but I appreciated that because I don't know how much more my heart can take.

The game got off to a great start for the second straight day with a great defensive play. In Game 1 Reyes snared Furcal's liner, this time Wright dove and got Lofton, earning a star in my scorecard (Shawn loves that.)

From there Glavine was just great. Like Randolph says he is a big game pitcher. He never really got in trouble. He was exactly what the Mets needed on that night. And he only had to pitch 6 innings because of the strength of the bullpen.

He also contributed to the offense.

Tom was Terrific

Endy Chavez who is quickly becoming a fan favorite reached on a drag bunt. Then Glavine failed to sacrifice him to second but it worked out because Kuo threw a wild pitch. Then with two strikes, Glavine took a big cut, but knocked the ball only a few feet, he was out, but Endy was safe at third, better than if Glavine had done his job more effectively.

The Mets tacked on another run in the 5th on a sacrifice fly by Lo Duca. After the Dodgers walked Beltran, Carlos Delgado had another chance with the bases loaded (he struck out in the 8th inning of Game 1) but he struck out again.

The Mets blew another big chance with the bases loaded in the 6th. Endy hit a nubber to the pitcher forcing a runner at home. Then in a lucky moment Julio Franco sprinted down the line to avoid a double play and allow another run to cross. Reyes singled after that giving the Mets all four of their runs.

Aaron Heilman gave up a meaningless solo homer to Wilson Betemit.

In the 8th inning a bus parked behind the center field wall and Kenny Lofton complained. The thousands of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" fans chanted "move that bus."

Billy Wagner came on and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning but an overexcited Reyes made two bad throws to first, pulling Delgado off the bag. But Delgado was able to apply the tag on the runner and preserve the victory.

Enter Sandman

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Happy Recap: Mets 6 Dodgers 5

Life as a Mets fan: always exciting, never easy. A game the Mets could have put away become much more exciting than it had to be.

But let's start at the beginning:

A fan interfered with Delgado's attempt to catch a foul ball against Nomar. I couldn't hear anything after that because 50,000 people were calling that guy an asshole.

ass-hole, ass-hole

A huge inning was averted on one of the craziest plays you will ever see, especially in a playoff game. The double play at home was the turning point to the whole game. Drew made a huge mistake because I think if he had sprinted the whole way he could have snuck in past Lo Duca, but he paused midway down the line allowing the Mets to turn one of the all-time greatest double plays. Had he been on third the score likely would have been at least 2-0. But the Mets got out of it by allowing only one run.

1 out
and two outs

Carlos Delgado who had an absolutely tremendous game gave the Mets a big lift with his home run to tie the game.


Cliff Floyd's home run was key also because they are going to need him to hit better than he did all season.

I do not have a problem with Willie going to Feliciano in the 5th inning. Maine pitched well but this is not the regular season. The playoffs have to be managed differently and you can use your bullpen more than you would in the regular season. This is especially true because Maine was pressed into spot duty and the bullpen is the strength of the team. Plus the move worked. Even though he didn't get through the fifth Maine's start has to be considered a success and gives confidence should he have to be used again.

David Wright got a big hit in the 6th to give the Mets a 3-run cushion but they should have had more. Shawn Green struck out with Wright on third and only one out.

And here is where Willie made a mistake. I said this before it happened so it is not a second guess. He should have pinch hit for Mota with the bases loaded and two outs. His defense was, with a 3-run lead he needs to go with his pitcher who has the best chance of getting the next 3 outs. I think the likelihood that another reliever could have pitched a scoreless 7th as compared to Mota is not as big a difference as the likelihood that a pinch hitter would have gotten a hit, once again as compared to Mota. Of course this move ended up backfiring, but that doesn't prove it was the wrong decision.

The wroing decision was made by Jose Valentin to try to get the lead runner on Betemit's grounder. After that Furcal singled in a run, and with two outs, Mota couldn't get Nomar, who tied the game with a double.

Then the idiot Grady Little took over. For some reason he brought in his injured starter, Brad Penny. Penny had no control, and walked two guys. He got behind Delgado 3-1 and gave up a single which led to the go-ahead run. Wright hit one of the shortest doubles (good hustle) in baseball history to give the Mets a 2 run lead. Second and third and 1 out and the Mets once again missed a chance to drive in a run with an out.

Heilman pitched a good 8th and then it was up to Wagner. Even though Wagner gave up a run, and scared the hell out of, I don't care. A closer is judged on only one thing: saves. He got the save at that's all that matters. Plus, the stadium was electric for "Enter Sandman." Sleep with one eye open...

The Mets have a real chance to take a 2-0 lead with Glavine on the mound tonight. But you know how they do against unfamiliar pitchers like Kuo.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Why Milledge Was Left Off the Playoff Roster

Lastings Milledge probably cost himself a playoff roster spot (which instead went to a third catcher) with a "misunderstanding" with a teammate in Atlanta.
Milledge says "It's joking, having fun. Some people took it the wrong way."
But at least one veteran took it more seriously.
Above his locker after Friday's game were two scraps of paper which said
"Know your place, rook! Your teammates."

Randolph ripped the sheets down but not before the media saw them. No one has yet explained the incident.

El Duque Out of Game 1?

El Duque injured his calf while running in the outfield Tuesday. He may miss his game 1 start. Steve Trachsel seems the logical replacement since he did not pitch Sunday.
El Duque is the second Mets' pitcher with a calf injury. Perhaps the Mets should consider hiring Marshall Erickson as calf-conditioning coach.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Regular Season Wrap

Mets finished at 97-65, tied for the best record in baseball with the Yankees. The Mets were 50-31 at home and 47-34 on the road (both National League bests).

Jose Reyes finished the year with a .300 batting average. He had 19 homers (one shy of the magic number) and 81 RBI. His 64 stolen bases were two shy of a Mets record but enough to lead the majors. He led the majors with 17 triples and was 5th with 122 runs scored.

Paul Lo Duca finished 6th in the NL with a .318 batting average.

Carlos Beltran finished tied for second in the NL with 127 runs scored, tied for 5th with 41 HR and his 116 RBI tied for the team lead.

Carlos Delgado had another good season with 38 homers and 114 RBI.

David Wright hit .311 with 26 homers and tied with Beltran at 116 RBI.

Tom Glavine and Steve Trachsel tied for 7th place in the NL with 15 wins (six pitchers had 16.

Billy Wagner's 40 saves were second in the NL.

Happy Recap: Mets 6 Nationals 2

The Mets put all the worries behind them and ended the season with a 6 game winning streak.
Nothing of note occurred in this game.
Oliver Perez pitched ok but he only pitched four innings because Randolph wanted to get the relievers some work.
Mota, Hernandez, Bradford, Feliciano and Heilman all pitched one inning. Only Heilman gave up a run.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Schedule is Set

The Mets play the NL Wild Card winner (either Dodgers or Padres) on Wednesday at 4pm and on Thursday at 8pm.

Happy Recap: Mets 13 Nationals 0

A key game for a couple reasons:
1) Gives the Mets a 3-game winning streak and ends the talk about going into the playoffs in a slump.
2) The offense woke up.
3) Tom Glavine pitched 6 shutout innings.
4) Julio Franco had 5 RBI, including a home run.
5) Ramon Castro hit a home run and gives the Mets a good option at backup catcher.
6) David Wright hit a 3-run homer, maybe his power is coming back.
7) Shawn Green also homered, on the day before Yom Kippur.

Happy Recap: Mets 4 Nationals 3

A good performance by John Maine will give him some confidence because he most likely earned himself a playoff spot with his work in this game. He still tends to struggle with his concentration which manifested itself in a 2 run fourth inning in which he walked 2 batters and threw a wild pitch. But hopefully once the playoffs start he will bear down.

The bullpen was great again. Pedro Feliciano won his 7th game. Guillermo Mota pitched a perfect 8th and has allowed only 2 runs in 17 innings as a member of the Mets. Billy Wagner saved his 40th game, and 18th in a row and has put those early season struggles behind him. With 40 saves and a 2.24 ERA he could get some votes for Cy Young in a year when the field is very weak.