Archive for the ‘News & Notes’ Category

Who kidnapped Carlos Beltran? And to whoever did, can you keep him?

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

Long before the entire Mets’ team (sans David Wright) took September off; a memory that has been indelibly marked into fans heads for 6 months now, there was a previous not so distant memory Mets fans cringed thinking about…Carlos Beltran watching a called third strike from Adam Wainwright in the 2006 NLCS.  Really, up until the last 17 games of last season, that moment, above all else, is what ate away at fans.  Even worse, was the ease and casual attitude Beltran took allowing the teams push for the World Series that year with his bat on his shoulder.

 

But wait…2008 spring training is upon us, and even though everyday players are not yet required to show up, many of the Mets veterans have.  Or have they?  Carlos Beltran, in what seemed to be an innocent meeting with some press in the dugout at Tradition Field all of the sudden spoke.  What came out of his mouth however, was not something that Carlos Beltran would say.

 

“To Jimmy Rollins: We are the team to beat.”

 

WHAT?!!?  Ever since acquiring Johan Santana and being named the uncrowned champion of the NL East, every Met player that has been asked about it, has stuck to their guns and said, “Yes we’re better, but the Phillies won the division last year, so they are indeed the team to beat.”  So imagine the shock to many fans ears and eyes when they hear and read Carlos “I do my talking on the field” Beltran had the balls to say what his teammates won’t.

 

Beltran’s complete comments were:

“Let me tell you this, without Santana, we felt, as a team, that we had a chance to win in our division. With him now, I have no doubt that we’re going to win in our division. I have no doubt in that. We’ve got what it takes.”

That was enough of a statement to make.  Like I said, a statement David Wright has refused to embrace.  Even afterwards, Wright stood by the idea that the Phils are the team to beat.  When asked about becoming enemy #1 in “The City of Brotherly Love” Beltran didn’t back off either. 

“I don’t care,” Beltran said. “They boo me in Houston. One more city won’t make a difference.”

 

But the biggest question is, does he finally care what fans in his team’s home city think?  Willie Randolph attributed Beltran’s confidence to being a new father and laughed the comments off.  Myself, I don’t know what to think.  If Carlos Beltran starts to show even the slightest bit of effort to be more than a really talented player who is content with doing his job and collecting his check, then sign me up to the “New” Carlos Beltran fan club.  Yes, in just a matter of a few weeks there’s enough of a chance that this will be a one time thing that Vegas won’t even put it up on the board.  Yes, there is a great chance that come his first 0-4 with 3 K’s day at Shea he’ll retreat to his shell and never be heard from again.  And yes, there is even the chance that this might backfire as the Mets fans had hoped Rollins’ comments last year would (his mis betrothed MVP award would say is didn’t). 

 

Seriously though, as Billy Wagner said in response after Beltran made his comments:

“There’s no use in us showing up if we don’t believe that we are that type of team.  For me, I don’t think I would ever go out and say it just because I believe in going out there on the field and doing it, but hey, you know what? He’s my teammate. I got his back.”

 

For anyone who thinks that this is actual fodder for people in Philadelphia, as someone who (sadly) lives there, let me assure you, they’ve already taken up to crowning themselves the best and have downplayed the addition of Santana to such a degree you’d think the Mets had just gotten Kris Benson…ooops, sorry Phillies fans…he’s your headache now (though I’m more inclined to subscribe to a newspaper here now if Anna Benson-mania runs wild here).

Here’s what you hear, if all you do is read Philly papers and watch Phillies coverage on Comcast down here.  “Pedro Feliz is a great addition.  We have the best home grown talent of any team.  Our only weakness is depth on the bench.  Yes the backend of our ratation has some questions, but it did last year and we won. The Mets can add anyone they want, we have a better team.”  This is a city with the shortest long term memory in the world.  Let me explain.  In late June last year wanted it’s manager’s head, wanted Pat Burrell gone, wanted Brett Myers to just keep his mouth shut.  Now their world beaters in the fans and sadly their beat writers eyes, but believe you me, the minute they start to slide, these fans and writers will remember.

 

So kudos to Carlos Beltran, because down here, they’re already trying to convince themselves that they are atually better than the Mets and even if no one on the Mets came out and said what Beltran did, this city already convinced themselves they had, so why not just come out and say it, if, like Beltran says he does, believe it. 
 

Santana deal could happen today

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

As a follow-up to what I posted yesterday, Buster Olney from ESPN.com is reporting that the Twins are asking the Mets and Red Sox for their best offers for Johan Santana, with a decision coming as soon as today (although with the way this has dragged on, I wouldn’t count on it).  This is where we find out if the Red Sox are serious or not with the Yankees not presently engaged in talks, and if they aren’t, if the Twins are willing to accept the Mets’ deal without Fernando Martinez.  There’s a chance they’re going to hold onto him until spring training, or even the trade deadline, so the Red Sox bowing out would not necessarily mean that the Mets are annoited the victors, but it would sure help.  Hopefully, the next thing I post on MiracleMets.net is “Mets trade for Santana, and there was much rejoicing.”  We’ll see what happens, but in the meantime, I’d recommend keeping your eyes peeled to all the major sports news sites, and also MetsBlog.com (who seem to be the most connected in the Mets blogosphere) for more on this.

Mets trade Milledge for Church and Schneider

Friday, November 30th, 2007

On the surface, this trade makes no sense.  Brian Schnieder is a mediocre starting catcher who plays decent defense but is not much with the bat.  Granted, this is the type of catcher this organization has seemed enamored with this offseason, but he’s still nothing special, and not much of an upgrade over Johnny Estrada, who figures to be non-tendered.  Ryan Church is a fourth outfielder with pop, but he’s 29 years old and figures to not get much better, and plus, the Mets have a better defensive fourth outfielder already in Endy Chavez.  On the other hand, Lastings Milledge was one of their true trading chips for acquiring a starting pitcher this winter, and worst-case scenario, could have started in right field for the Mets next year.

Even in a “first trade in a series of trades” fashion, this doesn’t make sense.  Teams looking to move pitching want young players in return.  Church is seven years older than Milledge, and figures to have reached whatever his full potential is going to be.  Milledge still has room to grow, and in September he had some nice hits for the Mets, showing good slugging potential.  For teams looking to rebuild around a star prospect, who would they rather acquire?

That’s why I don’t think this is the first trade of a series of trades, and is exactly what it appears to be on the surface, a bad trade.  The “upgrade” of going from Johnny Estrada to Brian Schneider (and I use that term loosely) is not enough to cover the downgrade of going from Lastings Milledge to Ryan Church.  Short-term, this looks to have been a mistake, as Milledge may actually be a better hitter than Church right now, and Estrada and Schneider are essentially a wash.  Long-term, this could be a disaster, as Lastings figures to only improve over time to where he should eventually be at least an above-average hitting outfielder.  It’s trades like this that make me really wonder how long-term this team is thinking, but also what the real decision-making process is behind making these moves, because this really just doesn’t appear to make sense on any level.  I mean, can’t the Mets trade one of their top prospects and get SOMETHING decent back in return just once?  Is this too much to ask?

Am I imagining things or did Omar make a good trade today?

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

One day after making an utterly horrible free agent signing, Omar somewhat redeems himself by getting something for Guillermo Mota.  Not only did he get something for probably the most reviled Mets reliever ever, he actually got a starting catcher for him, Johnny Estrada.  I would have taken literally ANYTHING for Mota at this point, and that they actually got something of use for him almost redeems Minaya for the Castillo signing.  I am ecstatic, I could not have expected to get anything more for Mota, who might actually be the Brewers closer if Francisco Cordero signs elsewhere.  Hey, good luck with that Brewers fans.

I really can’t express how happy I am.  I can’t emphasize this enough – I HATED Guillermo Mota last year.  Mota was one of the key reasons, in my mind, the Mets did not win the NL East, because of how poorly he played, particularly against the Phillies.  That the Mets got ANYTHING of value, much less a startable catcher, for that piece of garbage has me absolutely elated.  I can’t say this enough.  Johnny Estrada will not make Mets fans forget about Mike Piazza, Todd Hundley, or Gary Carter, but he’ll be fine as the starter, Castro will be fine as a backup (and he should see an increased role this year), and the Mets got rid of one of the biggest problems from last year.  Thanks, Omar, and thanks to you too, Doug Melvin.  You saved what had been a ruined day by the BBWAA.

Really? Four more years of Luis Castillo?

Monday, November 19th, 2007

So Omar Minaya saw three months of Luis Castillo last year and decided, “You know what?  That’s the guy I want playing second base for the next four years.”  Really?  This actually happened?  I mean, I guess he was kind of barely adequate.  He batted .296 with a .371 on-base percentage, which is kind of decent.  Granted, he showed absolutely no power (which is par for the course for him), and he clearly wasn’t as fast as he was in his prime.  He just turned 32, which means he’s going to be 36 by the time this contract ends.  I don’t know, I just don’t think slap hitters who have relied on their speed, whose speed is quickly declining, have a tendency to age particularly well.  I wouldn’t have bet on Castillo being a starter in two years, let alone four, but apparently, that’s a gamble Omar Minaya is willing to take.

Really, this is just a bad idea.  Luis Castillo is one of the lingering members of last year’s collapse.  I’m sure many remember how he struck out with first and third and one out on JC Romero during a point where the Mets could have taken the lead, or his key defensive blunders during key moments of the Phillies and Cardinals games down the stretch.  I just can’t fathom that the team saw this aging player, one who is still trying to bunt for base hits despite speed that is rapidly betraying him, and thinking, “You know what, let’s bring this guy back for a few years.”  Ruben Gotay is a better hitter RIGHT NOW than Luis Castillo.  It is debateable whether he is better defensively, but it’s probably not as huge a gap as you think, and really, Gotay’s major problem is turning the double play.  This can’t be improved?

I just can’t understand why the team would think Luis Castillo is a better choice to play second base the next four years, at $25 million, when Ruben Gotay is at WORST a slight step down (and I think he’s probably a little bit better) and costs the team far less.  What’s the point of having a farm system and developing good young players if you have no intention of ever using them?  Gotay is a serviceable 2B until a better one comes along.  Luis Castillo is not better than Ruben Gotay.  Why not spend the money elsewhere?  This just seems like a foolish use of resources, and now the team will be stuck playing Castillo at 2B at least a year or two longer than it needs to in order to justify this ridiculous contract.

In other news, Tom Glavine officially agreed to return to the Braves for one more season.  Joe and I talk about this during the first edition of the MiracleMets.net Podcast (should be up tonight or tomorrow) but without going into too much detail here, since we talk about this at length there (granted, the deal hadn’t been agreed to yet) but I’m not unhappy with this move, as I don’t think Glavine has too much left, and the Mets will get the Braves’ first round pick in next year’s draft.  Granted, the Mets need to get somebody else, but I don’t think Glavine was the answer for 2008, so I’m pretty pleased about this.

Perez dominate as Mets take series from Brewers

Monday, May 14th, 2007

With few updates lately, I’ll just do some catch up here and hopefully we can do a little better with updates. Since I only saw one game this weekend, I’ll just hit the major points that came to light going into and coming out of Sunday’s game.

Willie Randolph insisted that Mike Pelfrey was his number 5 starter following Saturday’s thumping by the Brewers that saw Pelfrey suffer his 5th loss in 6 starts to “improve” to 0-5 with a 6.53 ERA. However, when the Mets arrived at Shea for Sunday’s matinée against Brewers, Pelf was on his way to the Big Easy, and Carlos Gomez was trying on his pristine brand spankin’ new #27 Mets jersey. From where I sit, there was nothing else the Mets could do. It was obvious Pelf had no confidence in his stuff, aiming his fastball and throwing up in the zone time after time. 17 walks in 30.1 innings, and a terrible WHIP of 1.75 just doesn’t cut it even as a #5. Pelfrey is at his best when he pounds the strike zone low and gets ground outs. So far this year, his ground out to fly out ratio is 1.43 and that is no where near where he needs to be. Now he’ll go down to AAA where hopefully he can work out these issues, because the Mets can’t afford to allow him to do that at the major league level.

As to who will take Pelfrey’s place in the rotation, that remains a mystery, but the organization appears to be looking at left hander Jason Vargas. Vargas, who was acquired in the off season from the Marlins, was scheduled to start for New Orleans Sunday against Las Vegas, however he was scratched and replaced by Phillip Humber (who lead the Zephs to an 10-3 win). This move certainly makes it look like he will be called up Thursday to face the Cubs. If it isn’t Vargas, Willie Randolph called Aaron Sele “a possibility.”
The other ramification from this move is the calling up of 21 year old OF prospect Carlos Gomez. Gomez, who had been with New Orleans in AAA, was hitting .286 with 24 runs scored, 17 walks, eight doubles, two triples, two home runs, 13 RBIs and 23 strikeouts in 140 at-bats. He also led the PCL with 17 steals.

As for the games themselves, On Friday, Jorge Sosa pitched his second solid game since being called up a little over a week ago, leading the Mets to a 4-3 victory. The Mets got long balls from Carlos Delgado and Damion Easley. Sosa gave up 2 runs on 4 hits through 6.2 innings, striking out 4 while walking 3. Aaron Heilman continued to look terrible, giving up a 2 run home run to JJ Hardy in the 8th. Billy Wagner on the other hand was efficient if not extremely impressive, pitching a 1-2-3 9th, throwing only 7 pitches.

Saturday was a game he Mets would like to put behind them in every conceivable way, losing 12-3. Pelfrey gave up 4 runs on 8 hits and walked 3 in 5 innings. Pedro Feliciano gave up 2 runs, Joe Smith’s perfect season was spoiled and spoiled hard, as he gave up a grandslam to J.J. Hardy, and Scott Schoeneweis gave up 3 runs. To say it was a bad day is a vast understatement. Offensively besides David Newhan finally doing something by hitting a meaningless HR, there was very little the Mets could hang their hats on.

When the lineup was posted Sunday, it had all the makings of an “uh oh” game. Oliver Perez, coming off a frustrating loss in San Francisco where the defense let him down and he subsequently imploded, was at best, an unknown. Would that loss mentaly defeat him for starts to come? Also, Paul Lo Duca would get the day off, although if you don’t feel confident in Ramon Castro at this point, you need to start watching a different sport. Moises Alou was out with a quad issue, Endy Chavez started in left. Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green also got the day off against a lefty, Julio Franco would start at first and Gomez would make his major league debut starting in right.
With all that said, this game was complete reversal of fortune from Saturday. The Mets dominated the Brewers, winning 9-1. Perez was brilliant, only allowing one run on 2 hits in 8.1 innings, and one of those hits was a 9th inning home run by Bill Hall, coming off the bottom half of the 8th where Perez gassed himself scoring all the way from 1st on a Jose Reyes triple. I know it sounds like an excuse, but after 8 innings pitched and a exerting himself on the base paths, it might be valid. Either way, the line of 8.1 1ER 2H 2BB 6K is impressive as Perez improved to 4-3 and lowered his ERA to 3.00. Offensively, the Mets used their speed on the bases to capitalize, even against Chris Capuano who is reguarded as having one of the better moves to first in baseball, stealing 5 bases. 3 of those steals were by David Wright, who seeming is doing whatever it takes (shaving his head, pulling up his socks and using his secondary skills) to help himself break out of his season long slump. Wright had 3 steals all season coming into this series and will head into the series against the Cubs with 7. Jose Reyes also stole his league leading 21st base. The other steal came from Gomez, who I mentioned was getting his first major league start. Gomez was 2 for 4 with a double and 2 runs scored. He also made a terrific diving catch in right field. Carlos Beltran, who must have felt he was getting a day off in the outfield, flanked by the speedy Gomez and Chavez, both of whom are natural center fielders, had a two run home run in the 8th inning, his 8th of the season. Damion Easley hit his 5th home run and drove in 4, going 3 for 5 in his 13th start this year.

Other notes: Moises Alou appears to be on his way to visting a very firmiliar place to him…the DL. Alou has made 14 trips to the DL in his 15 full (if you can call it that) major league seasons…looks like he’ll make it 15 for 15. After an MRI Saturday showed bleeding in his quad, Alou was quoted saying, “I don’t feel very good right now, I’m not very optimistic about it. How long? I’m not going to come back any time soon.” He will be re-evaluated today, and if there isn’t marked improvement, he’ll be hitting the DL. Alou’s injury necessitated the call up of Gomez on Sunday. Gomez got the call because Lasting Milledge has been out since April 28th with an injured foot, and figures to be out another 2 to 4 weeks. If Alou does go on the DL, Ben Johnson, who was acquired from the San Diego Padres during the off season, could be an option to fill the empty spot on the roster until they need a 5th starter Thursday. Johnson has struggled in limited action at AAA New Orleans, hitting just .268 in 30 ABs with 1 homerun.

In news that shouldn’t be news but was a big story, Jose Reyes finally acquiesced and joined the rest of the team of shaved heads with Aaron Sele being the lone exception. Carlos Gomez was met with the razor upon arriving at Shea.

Oliver Perez went 1 for 4 at the plate with a run scored and an RBI on Sunday. He’s now hitting .353 and is tied with the Marlins Scott Olsen for most hits by a pitcher with 6. In the most unusual stat of the year for the Mets so far, Perez has more hits in less at bats than both Julio Franco and David Newhan. He has also scored 5 runs, which is more than Franco, Newhan and Ramon Castro. GET THAT MAN ANOTHER GLOVE!

Tom Glavine was not in uniform Sunday, nor was he even at the ballpark. He may not have even been in New York. Glavine has asked, and was given permission to attend a “family function” on Sunday. While this isn’t quite Roger Clemens-esque, it does bring up the question, if Glavine does decide to play next year and wants to stay with the Mets, will they have to take a step closer to the Clemens deal the Yankees singed the pitcher two recently.

The Future: The Mets will start a 4 game series with the Chicago Cubs today as Tom Glavine takes to the hill looking for career win 295. Glavine is 4-1 on the year with a 2.98 ERA. He will go up against Jason Marquis. Marquis, who singed with the Cubs in the off season, is 5-1 with a 3rd best in the majors 1.70 ERA and a major league leading .90 WHIP (tied with teammate Ted Lilly). The rest of the series will see John Maine (5-0 1.79) face off with Carlos Zambrano (3-3 5.83) on Tuesday, Jorge Sosa (2-0 2.77) against lefty Rich Hill (4-2 2.51) on Wednesday, and Thursday will either see Aaron Sele (0 starts, 1-0 4.11 in relief) or Jason Vargas (2-3 5.30 for AAA New Orleans) for the Mets while the Cubs will most likely pitch Angel Guzman (2 starts and 4 relief appearances 0-0 3.57). The series will also see the return to Shea of Cliff Floyd. Floyd played 4 seasons with the Met before not being re-signed following last season and signing with the Cubs. Floyd is still close friends with his bag caddy while in NY the previous 3 seasons, David Wright.

The Past: A year ago on this exact date, the Mets had an identical 23-13 record.

Speaking of the Mets last year, Jorge Julio, who was with the Mets this time last year will now pitch for his third team since the Mets, as he was traded from Florida to Colorado for Byung-Hyun Kim. I bring this up simply because I love the quotes from the teams including:

  • “It’s a trade of one guy struggling for another guy struggling,” Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd said. “There are not a lot of players available in the game right now. We got a guy with a track record of doing all right.” He’s kidding, right?
  • “Julio needs to be fixed. So we have some work with him.” SOME?
  • “I wish we would’ve fixed him,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “I wish we would’ve got him to help us.” So does Rick Peterson.
  • “He’s not on top of his game right now but we wouldn’t have gotten him if he was,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said.” Good times…Good Times.

DAMION EASLEY

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

More tomorrow.

Wait, Fernando Tatis is in New Orleans?

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

When did this happen?

(Looking it up)

Wow, apparently on March 23rd, the Mets signed Fernando Tatis to a minor league contract.  Seriously, a few weeks ago, I was shocked to find out Tatis was still PLAYING baseball, and now not only is he playing baseball, he’s playing baseball for the Mets’ AAA affiliate!  Man, between Fernando Tatis and Chan Ho Park, the Mets are starting up a 1999 All Star team in the Pacific Coast League.

We are coming back live

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Hey…looks like somebody took about two months off and forgot to tell anybody.  Sorry about that – demands at my job have left little time to do what I wanted to do here, so I haven’t done anything.  I have probably lost some readers, and that’s fine…my job is to win you guys back.  With spring training coming to a close, I will have a look at what I see in the Mets’ future up this week, before Sunday’s home opener with the Cardinals.  It won’t be a good day for Mets fans, but they can change that by blowing the Cards out and showing the rest of the NL, “Hey, we mean business.”

Before talking about how spring has shaken out, I thought I’d pass along something I read today about the Mets that caught my eye.  From the Village Voice, an article talking about the new Mets stadium, along with another new stadium opening around the same time nearby for some other team.  One thing that caught my eye…while there will be improved sightlines down the lines (and really, I don’t see how a new park coudln’t have better sightlines), behind home plate is another story.  This has actually been a trend in a lot of new parks – moving the expensive seats closer to the field, but sticking the cheap seats way out there, and being able to claim that overall, seats are closer.  I guess that’s true, if you can get good seats (which should be close to impossible once Citi Field opens), but if you can’t, better bring the binoculars.  Anyway, there’s other tidbits in there about the new parks, and I can’t help but be a little bit leery of replacing Shea.  What can I say, the place has a lot of history for me, most recently coming in Game 1 of last year’s NLCS.  Anyway, more to come later in the week, with predictions for 2007!

Chan Ho Park? Really?

Friday, February 9th, 2007

First, sorry for the lack of updates these past few weeks.  Things have been hectic at work, and not-so-hectic for the Mets.  With Spring Training starting soon, I expect business to pick up, so to speak, so expect more updates.

The Mets made a pre-Spring signing today, signing Chan Ho Park to a one year contract.  Really, Chan Ho Park.  He’s now a Met.  I guess having a 4.81 ERA in the biggest ballpark in baseball made Mets officials say, “Hey, let’s go get this man.”  I mean, granted, it’s only $3 million, which in this market is not bad, and it probably isn’t a bad gamble for the #5 spot in the rotation.  But Chan Ho Park has pretty much been the epitome of terrible the past few years.  I mean, pre-Zito, Park may have had the worst contract ever given to a pitcher in baseball history (Kevin Brown and Mike Hampton would dispute that claim, but at least those guys won Cy Youngs before signing their contracts). 

Injuries and pitching in Texas turned Park into a bad pitcher, so hopefully playing at Shea healthy will help, and plus at this point, all he is slated to do is win the #5 spot in the rotation (if he can beat out Pelf, Humber, and a cast of thousands), so expectations are low.  But you know today on WFAN, Mike and the Mad Dog are going to be all over this, claiming the Mets aimed for Zito and settled for Park, and while Zito really wasn’t worth that contract, the stigma is there that the Mets needed pitching and couldn’t get it done.  So add Park to the list of pitchers that Rick Peterson will have to work his voodoo on this spring.