Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In need of some pop!

Going into tonight's game against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Mets have hit a combined 37 homers as a team. Some of it has to do with Citi Field, some has to do with injuries (Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes) and some just can't be explained (3 . . . make that 4 homers on the season by David Wright). For the Mets to contend, they're going to have to add a bat with some pop to this lineup. I was originally in the boat of those who said to just live with who's currently in the lineup. But with 2 of your top 4 players out of the lineup for an extended period of time, I've changed my mind. And there's no one in our minor league system that can supplement that kind of production. Here are some suggestions:

Adam Dunn (1B/OF), Washington Nationals - Strictly for power, he would be the most obvious choice, as he has exactly 40 HR a year for the past 5 years. He's already hit a shot at Citi Field that reached the (soon to be named) bridge in right center. He could play 1B until Delgado gets back from the DL then move to one of the corner outfield positions. Also, I don't see Washington demanding too much in return in a trade, possibly a current roster player and a low-level prospect. However, I see 2 problems with bringing Dunn here. First, he strikes out way too much!! He's got 1318 strikeouts in his 8+ year career and isn't even 30 yet. To put things in perspective, Reggie Jackson had 1129 K's through 9 full seasons and ended his career at the age of 41, holding the record for most K's in a career with 2597. Second, he's a defensive liability, whether he's at 1B or in the outfield. This team makes enough mistakes on the field the way it is. I don't want to add a guy that's going to contribute to this issue. Basically, he's a skinnier version of Mo Vaughn.

Nick Johnson (1B), Washington Nationals - Another possible player from the Nats that could help the Mets situation. He doesn't quite have the pop that Dunn has, but he replaces that with the ability to get on base. And when need be, he could knock a few out of the park. He's a smart hitter, bringing to the table just what is needed in every situation. Just like Dunn, he wouldn't demand much from the Nats. Unlike Dunn, he would be a great defensive 1B. The one huge knock on him is that when Delgado gets back, a logjam would be created at 1B, for neither of them can play another position. Another issue is that he is injury prone (I still cringe when I picture him breaking his femur on a slide in short right at Shea a couple of years back). In his 7 year career, he has only reached 500 plate appearances in a season twice. Basically, he's a better option than Dunn, but he'd only be really useful until August.

Victor Martinez (C/1B), Cleveland Indians - After an off year last year, Martinez has shown up again as one of the premier hitters in the league. He's among the league leaders in BA and has the ability to hit 20 HR a season. And he does have the flexibility to switch positions, so he can flip flop between catcher and 1B. Unfortunately, that's where the positives end. First, considering Cleveland considers him as part of their core (Grady Sizemore fits this category too) they would probably demand a lot for him (F-Mart?), too much in my opinion. Second, his defensive abilities aren't that good. Basically, he could be compared to Mike Piazza, just a less bit pop and a less bit glove.

Mark DeRosa (anywhere except P, C and CF), Cleveland Indians - During the offseason, DeRosa was one of the players that I strongly felt would be a great 2B addition to this team (Orlando Hudson was the other, but that's for another posting). Luis Castillo and others have played well enough for me to not go completely nuts on how we missed out. But DeRosa could still be very helpful for the Mets. He could take over at 1B until Delgado gets back, then play in one of the corner outfield spots. He could also play in any of the infield spots when someone would need a day off. Add to that he's a guy with decent pop with a decent career BA (.278), and he could be the perfect fit. My only negative about him isn't even about him! It's a feeling that I have that he might not show that pop at Citi Field. But it's just a feeling. Basically, he could be the best option.

Matt Holliday (OF), Oakland Athletics - Another one of those no-brainers on the surface. He's a +.300-+30-+100 type of guy and plays a good outfield. Here's my 2 big gripes with getting him. First, we'd be getting him from Oakland, which seems to demand a lot more than anyone else does put of a trade. Second, it's Holliday's walk year, so what makes you think he'd be nothing more than a rental player. Basically, unless there's either a sign and trade involved here or a guarantee that he stays past this season, he is someone I would stay away from . . . for now.

Those are the most popular names out there available. There are others (for example, Russell Branyan - poor man's Dunn, Jim Edmonds - free agent) out there. But I don't know if I can handle a third straight season of being so close. The Mets have to do something, hopefully sooner rather than later, before this season is going, going, . . . Gone!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Game 6 - Mets vs. Nationals - May 26, 2009

Finally the Mets have made some moves to refill their depleted bench, placing both Ryan Church and Jose Reyes on the 15-day DL. To take their roster spots, the Mets received Wilson Valdez, a utility infielder from Cleveland, and called up 21-year old Fernando Martinez from the minors. Because of his age, the Mets were only going to call Martinez up if he was going to play every day. Consider yourself warned. . . The F-Mart era has begun!!

As for the game itself, the Mets defeated the Washington Nationals 6-1 at T-Shirt Night. They had a couple of firsts in the game. First, Fernando Martinez went 0 for 3 (with a HBP) in his major league debut, although he did get his first RBI, driving in Luis Castillo on a fielder's choice. He did look very anxious during the game (his 2 K's were ugly), but you have to cut him some slack. After all, he's just 21.

Second, Livan Hernandez became the first Mets starting pitcher this season to go into the 8th inning . . . and the 9th inning . . . and pitch a complete game. Hernandez, throughout his ML career, has been known to be an innings-eater. And although he might be getting up there in age, he showed that he could still go through a full game. While he did give up 9 hits, his only blemish was a solo shot given up to Adam Dunn (btw, Dunn got his 1,000th career hit in the 2nd inning).

Other players that had a good game for the Mets were Gary Sheffield (3-run laser shot to left field in the 7th) and Angel Pagan, who went 2-4 at the plate with a run and and SB, and also threw out Josh Bard at the plate in the 5th on a single to short center by Craig Stammen, the Nationals pitcher.

With the win, the Mets are now 5-1 in games I've attended, my only blemish being Opening Night. And while they haven't hit that well to games that I've gone to, they've pitched extremely well. My next game is almost a month away (unless someone invites me) so I'll be looking forward to that.

One final note about the game: the seats that my friend and I sat in were interesting (top deck, past 1st base). The aisle seat was facing 2nd base / short left field, while the second seat in the row (my seat) was facing in the direction of the pitchers mound. I applaud the fact that the Mets had all the seats set up so that they'd face the infield, but to have the aisle seat in the first few rows of this section face a different direction than the rest of the section? A bit weird.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Anything But A Comedy of Errors

I actually stayed up til 2am for this. Granted, I was in bed listening to the game on the radio. But I was still awake. And it would have been worth it if the outcome was different. But in a game that you commit FIVE errors in a game, I guess you'd have to expect the outcome like the Mets had. They didn't just give the game away on a silver platter. They gave the Dodgers an open bar as well!! They played arguably the worst game overall that I've ever seen!!

I'll skip the first 10 innings (and the first 3 errors) of the game and go straight to the 11th inning. With 2 outs and Ryan Church on 1st, Angel Pagan hit a triple to right center, easily scoring Church. Except he didn't score. And Pagan didn't get a triple. Why? Because when the Dodgers appealed to 3rd base to see if Church stepped on 3rd base, the 3rd base umpire called him out. Church forgot to step on 3rd on his way home! One of the fundamental rules of baseball completely ignored! And to make matters worse, there was no argument at 3rd base by ANYONE on the Mets. No argument by Ryan Church. No argument by Razor Shines (3rd base coach). No argument by Jerry Manuel! Inning over. (btw, Pagan got credit for a single)

Brian Stokes began the bottom of the 11th by walking Mark Loretta on 4 pitches. Then after getting 2 strikes on Xavier Paul, he flies out to left center. Except there's no out on the play, and there are runners one 2nd and 3rd with no outs. Why? Because Angel Pagan cut in front of Carlos Beltran and, even though Beltran was calling off Pagan, they still got crossed up, the ball went off Beltran's glove and went towards the wall. Error number 1 of the inning. And a second fundamental rule of baseball completely ignored!

Stokes then intentionally walked Juan Pierre and the Mets brought the infield in. They also brought Beltran in to be a 5th infielder (honestly, the only good move that the Mets made the entire inning). The only run that matters is the runner on 3rd, so loading the bases made sense here (ok, that's 2 good moves). They were then able to get Rafael Furcal to fly out to Pagan in left, one of only 2 outfielders (Church was the other, playing in right center). Orlando Hudson, who was a guy I wanted to sign to replace Luis Castillo this offseason, was next to bat. On a 2-2 count, he hit a grounder to 1st baseman Jeremy Reed to get a force out at home or, better yet, start a double play. Except Mark Loretta ends up scoring from 3rd base to end the game 3 to 2. Why?? Because Reed threw the ball about 10 feet wide right! The second error of the inning!! And a third fundamental rule of baseball completely ignored!!!

Here's one fundamental rule that the baseball gods followed. Three strikes -- the strikes being broken fundamental rules -- and you're out (or in this case, game over!!!)

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Road Trip Continues . . .

Leg one of the Mets 10 game road trip is over, and they were able to take 3 out of 4 in San Francisco. A 4 game sweep could have been possible, but the Mets could not score in last night's 2-0 loss, even though they had the bases loaded in both the 2nd and 8th innings. A great play by Giants 1B Travis Ishikawa to go home with the throw with no outs and bases loaded in the 2nd, and a GIDP by Angel Pagan in the 8th stifled both chances. But how much can you complain? David Wright going 10 for 15, with 9 RBI and 5 steals? Carlos Beltran extending his hitting streak to 11 games? Not enough to have any complaints here.

They now start a 3 game series against arguably the best team in the NL, the Los Angeles Dodgers. They are, of course, without Manny Ramirez -- if you don't know why, where were you 2 weeks ago?? -- but seem to be surviving without him. I expect to see the Mets taking 2 of 3 from the Dodgers, but if the hitting continues how it's been on this trip so far (excluding Sunday), a sweep might not be out of the question.

I actually have some extra interest in this series. Whenever the Dodgers and the Mets play each other, my cousin out in LA and I offer to buy each other a beer for each win that our team gets from the other. Considering that I haven't seen him in a couple of years, we are at 6 beers a piece. But before I see him again in August, I am planning to add an additional 6-pack (3 games this week, 3 games in July) to what he owes me!

As for injuries, it seems that Reyes will be out of the lineup for the 5th straight game, after missing the entire Giants series with a sore/stiff right calf muscle. Carlos Delgado might be out for a bit longer with his hip injury. The Mets will need to find a replacement for him, whether it's within the organization (Daniel Murphy? Fernando Tatis?) or outside via trade (Nick Johnson?)

Oh, and one final thing . . . i will post my review of the 5th game I attended on May 12th, either later tonight or tomorrow night.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lucky Seven (and counting)

The Mets were finally able to sweep a 3-game series this year, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates by scores of 7-3, 10-1, and 8-4 this weekend. They are now at a season-best 4 games over .500 (17-13) and on a 7 game winning streak. And everyone on the team is looking like they are playing like they should be. David Wright and Jose Reyes are hitting, the starters and bullpen are holding the leads that the offense is giving them (except for Sean Green. . . grrr), and the offense is actually scoring in the later innings to extend the leads that they do have.

The Mets have 3 more games at home against the Atlanta Braves (I'll be at Tuesday's game) before heading on a tough 10 game road trip, sending them to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston. With Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, and Jon Niese pitching the next 3 days, there's a decent chance that they could leave Citi Field on a 10 game winning streak.

A couple of things I saw this weekend that I thought were hilarious. First, Gary Dell'Abate (aka Baba Booey) threw out the first pitch at Citi Field before Saturday's game. The video is self-explanatory! (sorry, couldn't embed).

Second, Boston had a pretty busy sports night on Sunday, with the Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics all playing games. The ending of the Celtics-Magic game actually had an effect on the Red Sox-Rays game. Watch this video and note the reaction. (sorry again, same deal here)

Finally, a kudos to my cousin Nicolas up in MA for throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before Friday's Red Sox-Rays game. He did a better job than Baba Booey.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Manny being Manny?

Guess you've heard by now, but Manny Ramirez was suspended 50 games on Thursday by MLB for failing a drug test for performance enhancing drugs (PED's). While this is another big name superstar to have his career tainted with taking PED's (Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, etc.), he is the first big name player suspended under today's policy.

I'm getting tired of hearing about players that are using these substances. I love the game of baseball! It's the first sport I fell in love with. But every time a new name is released, it's like a shot to the gut. And it's a pain that doesn't go away. It just keeps getting worse and worse. I say release the list of 100 or so baseball players who failed the "anonymous" test back in 2003 and get this shit over with!! Not that his name would be on it, but it would show the current major leaguers that this situation is serious and would teach them a lesson.

Manny explained that the failed test came from a prescription that he was taking, but the substance rumored to be in question is a woman's fertility drug (hCG) that's actually used by bodybuilders. I would assume that bodybuilders aren't looking to get pregnant (the male ones, at least), so they gotta be using it for another reason.

This news about Manny is just another footnote in a long line of events in his career. Makes you question what he's thinking. But unlike the past, where the actions of him were perplexing yet funny, this news is no laughing matter. He loses the distinction of being one of the best pure hitters in the game. He'll probably lose the respect of fans across the country (he's lost mine). His once-assured admission into the Baseball Hall of Fame is probably lost as well.

Maybe it's not Manny being Manny. . .

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Game 4 - Mets vs. Phillies - May 6, 2009

If you're a fan of a pitcher's duel, tonight was a game you would have appreciated!! Mets defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0, with Carlos Delgado scoring all the way from 1st base on an error by Pedro Feliz in the bottom of the 7th inning. Johan Santana continued his great start by pitching 7 innings, striking out 10, giving up 2 hits and walking only 3. Chan Ho Park, the Phillies starter, arguably pitched a better game. He gave up 1 hit (Daniel Murphy double with 2 outs in the 5th) and walked 2 in 6 IP. The 2 teams combined for 5 hits in the game (Mets 2, Phillies 3). As for the Mets relievers, Pedro Feliciano pitched a great 8th, outside of the ground-rule double that he gave up to Shane Victorino. But he recovered by fielding a Chase Utley comebacker and holding Victorino at 2nd. Then, after a wild pitch (ok, maybe it was a very good inning, not great) he was able to strike out Ryan Howard to end the inning. Francisco Rodriguez came in and got the easy 1-2-3 save in the 9th.
As for the atmosphere, i was surprised by the number of Phillies fans at the game. I could see a number of Phillie fan clusters throughout the Promenade level, and there was one cluster who was loudly chanting "Let's Go Phillies" throughout the game. Definitely annoying, but nothing crazy. I do have 2 other Phillies games later this year, both in August, so we'll see then how the atmosphere is.
Current record of games I've attended: 3-1

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ollie's like a box of chocolates . . . continued

I turn on the Mets pre-game and I see Kevin Burkhardt talking about good ol' Ollie and what the Mets decided to do. Well, turns out he's gonna be a left-handed specialist . . . .

As calmly and kindly as I can say this, WHAT THE $%&*#$%)*# ARE THE METS THINKING?!?!? That's not gonna work!! How can you put him in the bullpen at all? I understand the argument that you can't have him be the long man because you really don't know how often he will get action in that spot. But keeping him up as a specialist, while possibly building confidence on a batter-to-batter situation, will not help in building his confidence as a starter. And you can't argue "well, he can throw for 2 innings in the bullpen, come in get a batter or two, then go back to the bullpen and throw another 2 innings." He needs in-game pitching to fix whatever is wrong. And I believe that until he gets sent down to the minors, the odds aren't good that he'll be a successful starter. At least for this year.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ollie's like a box of chocolates

Another start by Oliver Perez, another game where the bullpen has to clean up his mess. And for the most part, they did their job. But this is just another outing that makes me question why we re-signed Perez to a 3-year, $36M contract. Something has gotta be done to fix this. I don't want to give up on the 27 year old kid, he's shown signs of brilliance. But his consistent inconsistency makes him like a box of chocolates. Every 5 days, you never know what you're gonna get. Some have suggested that he be sent down to the minors. But he would have to accept such an assignment. I hope he agrees to it. Whatever is wrong with him (mechanics, mental stability, etc.) could be corrected. And this wouldn't be the first time something like this has been done.

Roy Halladay is one example. After having a decent year in 1999, he was sent down to the minors in 2000 (4-7, 10.64 ERA), eventually to Single-A to work on his mechanics and his mental approach to pitching. He spent the first half of the 2001 season in the minors as well. But since the 2002 season, he's had a 118-50 record, a 3.20 ERA, a 5-time All-Star, and a Cy Young award winner in 2003.

Another example is Steve Trachsel. Yes, he's mostly remembered for making the flow of molasses seem quick. But he was sent down for 3 starts in May 2001. Before his demotion, he was 1-7 with a 8.24 ERA. When he was called back up, he posted a 10-7 record with a 3.35 ERA.

A final example, which is currently in progress, is Dontrelle Willis. He was the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year and was second in the Cy Young Voting in 2005. But something went wrong somewhere and he was traded to the Tigers before the beginning of last season. Unfortunately, a change of scenery wasn't a solution for him. It wasn't. At the beginning of this season, he was placed on the DL for an anxiety disorder. He's made 3 rehab starts since and seems to have shown progress.

Ollie, if an assignment is offered to you to the minors, pleeeeeease accept it!! It's a win-win situation, for both you and the team!!

Shades of Kenny Rogers

Ok, I admit, it's a totally different situation. It's May, not October. It's game 23 of the regular season, not game 7 of the NLCS. And Kenny Rogers was a lefty. Sean Green (not Shawn Green) is a righty. But they both walked in the winning run. Then, it was Rogers walking Andruw Jones to end the 1999 Mets playoff run. Today, Green walked Shane Victorino in the bottom of the 10th inning to end today's 6-5 loss (recap) to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Remember, it's only May . . .

Friday, May 1, 2009

Who Am I?

I'm at my parents house watching the Mets play the Phillies, but I had to mention something that I read earlier today.

In last night's 8-2 Marlins win over the Cubs (boxscore), the Marlins scored 6 runs in the top of the 10th inning. Here's the line of the pitcher who started the inning:

6 batters faced, zero outs recorded, 6 runs (5 earned), 3 hits, 2 walks

Who Am I? (hint: I pitched a complete game 1-hitter for the Mets in 2005)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Too Many Ducks on the Pond

Wednesday afternoon, the Mets lost to the Marlins 4-3 (Recap & Boxscore) and by looking at the highlights, some might say that the bullpen blew the game again. Just like last year. But I'm blaming the offense on this one. The Mets left 14 runners on base and were 1-11 with runners in scoring position. Pathetic!! Absolutely pathetic!! 10 of those 14 runners were in scoring position when they were stranded. And there were 5 innings where a runner was (at least) stranded at third.

One situation where you can't blame the Mets on (just bad luck) was in the bottom of the 8th. With runners on 1st and 3rd, Jose Reyes tried to steal 2nd, and Alex Cora hit a grounder up the middle. If Reyes isn't stealing, Emilio Bonifacio (Marlins 2b) doesn't get to the ball. The tying run would have scored and Reyes would have been on 3rd as the go-ahead run with a pinch-hitter on deck. Instead, Bonifacio gets to the ball and throws out Cora at 1st. Inning over.

Mets are 9-12 and are heading to Philadelphia to play the Phillies. Hopefully, they can turn things around.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The First Time

I've tried creating a blog a number of times. Various reasons prevented me from getting one going:

1) What should I call it?
2) What to write about?
3) How often should I write?
4) How often would I be able to write?
5) Would anyone ever read it?

Well, I guess the stars have aligned. Finally getting this thing started. Although it will take some time to get it to be the way I want it. I'm open for suggestions and criticism, so just leave me comments below and I'll see what I can do. And to answer the questions above:

1) The title is at the top of the blog (thanks for the suggestion, you know who you are).
2) I'll be giving my opinion on the world of sports, mostly the teams I follow (Mets, Rangers, Giants, Jets), but i'll also write about non-sports issues that are on my mind at the time.
3) It all depends on what's my mind. Could be no post, 1 post, or 5 posts a day.
4) Hopefully every night during the week, and at different times during the weekend.
5) I hope so. But if not, it doesn't matter.