Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

The Eve of Game 1

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006

So things aren’t really looking all that great right now for the Mets.  First Pedro Martinez went down.  That was okay because he hasn’t been much of a factor since May and the pitching has held up without him.  Now Orlando Hernandez is down.  El Duque isn’t a “great” pitcher, despite his reputation as a postseason magician,and he isn’t even in the top 10 reasons why the Mets have been so good during the regular season.  But with both men out, things are getting ugly.

It was what, a week-and-a-half ago when we were debating if the Mets would need a 4th starter in the first round?  We said, “Pedro can go games 1 and 4 if he needs to.”  If not, maybe Traschel would pitch game 4, maybe John Maine. Hell, I even had an debate with my friend about potentially leaving Maine off of the roster in the first round. But today we’re trying to figure out if Maine can pitch GAME ONE!!!  That’s not good.  But is it really a reason to panick?

Let’s face it: this team’s strength in the postseason wasn’t going to come from it’s starting pitching, even with Pedro and El Duque starting.  If both starters were throwing their best and in their primes, this would be different, but we’ve not had that all season.  What we have seen though is the best bullpen in the majors (if not, certainly the best in the NL) and some pretty awesome offense.  The bullpen of Heilman, Mota, Bradford, and Wagner can shut down any of the NL lineups, especially the Dodgers.  And this lineup can hit any pitcher in the postseason, even Peavy and Carpenter.  And since the Dodgers don’t really have a dominant ace, there’s no reason why the Mets can’t just outslug their opponents in this first round.

Tom Glavine will be okay, as long as Willie Randolph doesn’t try to turn back his clock and pitch him on short rest.  Maine should be okay since he’s been pitching in the harsh NY atmosphere all season (granted, he hasn’t really had any pressure situations, but still, NY itself is tough). Traschel has made it clear that he’s been looking forward to pitching in the postseason for his entire career so he should be amped up and ready to go.  If those three can hold the fort and keep the games close, the offense can score the runs and the pen can hold the leads.

I’m not happy that El Duque is out.  I’m sad for Pedro that he won’t get to pitch in the playoffs for the team that he helped turn around completely. But I’m not so distraught that I’ve lost confidence in this team.

MY PREDICTION: Mets in 4.

(Cardinals over Padres in 5, Yanks over Tigers in 3, A’s over Twins in 4)

Hey, the Mets actually won

Friday, September 29th, 2006

It’s nice to see that the Mets remembered what it’s like to actually win a major league baseball game.  They had kind of gotten away from that, which is arguably one of the reasons for their success in 2006, and some may say the biggest reason.

There’s just no getting around it; the Mets have played like ass of late.  The offense has been languid, the pitching has stunk, and even in victory last night, the Mets’ bullpen wasn’t its usual effective self.  If the Mets go into the playoffs playing like they have against the Pirates, Nationals, Marlins, and Braves, it won’t matter that the National League is the weakest it’s been possibly ever.  The Mets aren’t going to win.

I was talking with my friend Travis last night about the Mets’ recent troubles, and I told him on the phone something I truly believe; the team that worries me most in the National League isn’t the Padres, Astros, Cardinals, Dodgers, or even the Phillies.  The team that worries me most is the Mets.  I know that the Mets’ talent level is above the rest of the NL.  That is pretty much undisputed.  The only way the Mets lose in the playoffs isn’t if the other team beats them; it is if they beat themselves.

I think another positive step to come out of yesterday, besides the Mets win, was the announcement that Pedro Martinez will not pitch in the playoffs.  Let’s not kid ourselves here; this isn’t the same Pedro.  The expectations that would be on Pedro’s shoulders would be too great for him to achieve; he simply hasn’t been that pitcher since May, and may never be that pitcher again.  Frankly, the Mets have played better without him than they have with him, and having his situation resolved means that Mets fans aren’t going to be waiting for him to save the day, when he may not be able to.  Right now, we know what we have for the playoffs.  We have Duque, Glavine, Maine, and Trachsel.  We know what we have.  I feel better about the playoffs knowing Pedro isn’t pitching than I would have otherwise.

This is too good of a Mets team to lose in the first round.  That’s what I keep telling myself.  That this run is a slump, and that they will get over it and start to play better.  But I have to see that this weekend.  The Mets need to sweep the Nats, let the rest of the NL know that they’re back in the saddle and mean business.  Then it’s time to take care of business in the NLDS.  This isn’t something beyond their capabilities, and I’m confident that they’ll do what they need to do, starting tonight in Washington.

This is a bad time to be flat

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

The Mets have now dropped eight of their last eleven games, all against teams that are under .500, most of which have been against some of the worst teams in the National League, which is to say some of the worst teams in baseball. After getting swept against Pittsburgh when they needed one win to clinch, they picked up that win in an emotionally-charged game at Shea, they won their next game (amazingly, with most of the regular starting lineup on the bench) and since that game, have only managed one win, against the lowly Washington Nationals. They got killed by the Braves tonight.

What is the deal?  I’d like to say I’m not worried, but…if the Mets are suddenly not playing well against some of the worst teams in baseball history, why am I to assume that they will magically kick it into gear once the games matter?  Last year, heading into the playoffs started, the White Sox won five games in a row.  They managed to carry that momentum to a World Series ring.  The Braves, meanwhile, entered the break having lost four in a row, and lost to the Astros in the first round.  It’s only two examples, and I’m sure there are other examples of teams losing game after game, but coming together in the playoffs to win the World Series, but I don’t like the precedent.  Before, they could point to the return of Carlos Beltran and say, “See, we’ve been without our best hitter,” but he was back tonight and they got shelled anyway.
On paper, the Mets shouldn’t have any trouble in the first round.  During the regular season, they’ve been the best team in the NL, almost wire-to-wire.  They have gone out there and dominated.  But the playoffs are another matter; they’re almost another season.  For one, the Mets go back down to a 25 man roster from 40.  A lot of these extra breaks that Willie has been giving the guys are going to become a thing of the past.  Also, a playoff roster is set up differently than a regular-season roster.  The five (really, six) man rotation becomes a thing of the past.  A deep bullpen is not as essential as it was during the regular season, because one of your starters becomes a reliever.  Plus, it’s helpful to have an extra bat or two on the bench for the playoffs.

So what happens with the pitching?  Well, I think after tonight, we can cross Oliver Perez and Heath Bell off the postseason list, as if we couldn’t already.  Pedro is, at best,  longshot for Game 1, and really, he shouldn’t be pitching Game 1.  The Game 1 starter has to be a guy who, if necessary, can go on three days’ rest.  Pedro is a mess sometimes after four days’ rest.  Tom Glavine has to start Game 1, with Pedro pitching Game 2.  El Duque probably gets Game 3, and I’m guessing the Mets give Steve Trachsel at least one playoff game not to screw up, and send Maine to the bullpen.

Then there’s the rest of the bullpen past Maine.  Obviously, Wagner is there, and so is Heilman.  Darren Oliver is the long man, and has been pretty good this year.  Pedro Feliciano has had a strong year as well.  And you can’t forget Chad Bradford, the Mets’ right-handed specialist.  But what about Guillermo Mota?  The guy has been lights-out since the Mets took a chance on him back in August.  Can you really leave off a guy who may be the Mets’ best reliever in the last month?  That’s seven pitchers; the Mets only need six, since Maine and Oliver can go long if needed, not to mention that Maine almost needs to be on the postseason roster, what with the injury concerns in the Mets’ rotation.  I honestly do not know how to answer this question.

The Mets’ hitting isn’t hard to figure out.  Lo Duca, Delgado, Valentin, Wright, Floyd, Beltran, and Green make it as starters.  Chavez makes it to spell Floyd and Green when needed.  You need a backup catcher; whether that’s Ramon Castro, Kelly Stinnett, or Mike Defelice depends on how healthy Castro is.  Franco is Delgado’s caddy at first base (sort of like Chubbs in Happy Gilmore) and the first bat off the bench.  Chris Woodward is the only other guy on the roster who can play shortstop other than Reyes.

The problem becomes, who do you carry, Lastings Milledge as another bat off the bench/reserve outfielder, or one of Mota/Bradford/Oliver/Feliciano?  I think this could be the sort of decision that is the difference between winning and losing a playoff series.  I think you need Lastings there, not only because getting playoff exposure at a young age can only benefit the guy, but because the Mets will need another bat off the bench, and there’s also the issue of him being the Mets only right-handed outfielder.  As crazy as this sounds, even though he’s been so great of late, you almost have to leave Guillermo Mota off of the postseason roster; it’s really either him or Bradford.  By the way, notice the name “Roberto Hernandez” isn’t even being brought up.  What a disaster that trade was.

I hope this is just a little slump.  The Mets had one of these around late June/early July, where they got smashed by the Red Sox, beaten up a little by the Yankees, and didn’t really get back into the swing of things until after the All Star break.  Might Monday’s day off, the first one in over two weeks, be a good thing for the Mets?  I certainly hope so.  But in the meantime, it wouldn’t kill them to build a little momentum heading into that day off, would it?

Another Reason to Hate the Yanks

Saturday, September 23rd, 2006

So after Cox’s surprisingly convincing article defending A-Rod from his constant detractors, I feel the need to set things right in the universe and return things to the way they were meant to be: I’m going to bash the Yankees.

It seems that the Yankees have now revoked the priviliges of some of their season ticket holders for reselling their tickets online. In a letter sent to numerous fans, Yankee higher-up Alan Chang (no idea who he is at all) informed them that they would no longer be eligible for post-season tickets and for regular season tickets in 2007 and beyond. Apparently, the Yanks are not happy with people using E-bay or Stubhub.com to resell their tickets. While I’m all for some control being put on scalping prices, just who the hell do they think they are, anyway? Basically they’re telling their fans that if they buy season tickets they’d better attend all 81 games or just eat the money for the unused tickets. Completely ignoring the fact that it costs thousands of dollars to buy season tickets, and completely ignoring the fact that most baseball fans actually have to work sometimes, the Yankees have just made a statement that basically says, “we can make money but you can’t.” And it gets worse.

Apparently the reason why they’re suddenly cracking down on reselling tickets is because they’re about to open up their own ticket-reselling service. The Mets introduced their Ticket Marketplace during the 2005 season and have had moderate success with it. But the Mets have never once issued a negative comment about or to Stubhub or E-bay, despite the fact that their service has been active for over a year.

I just hate the Yankees. And just when I start to think that it’s not “THE YANKEES” that I hate, it’s the fans that I can’t stand, the stupid ownership goes and does this sort of thing. What a bunch of pricks.

Other Baseball Notes

  • Watching the Nats play last night was interesting. They’re really only a couple of good arms away from competing in the NL East. If they can somehow manage to improve their pitching in the offseason, they’ve got the solid young lineup to make some noise next season (assuming they can keep Soriano).
  • Has there ever been a fatter, more out-of-shape-looking second basemen then Jose Vidro? I’m sure that most of his bulk is muscle (or at least I assume it’s muscle), but when he was running back to catch that Cliff Floyd pop up last night he looked like Bartolo Colon or David Wells. Not pretty.
  • Is Carlos Beltran really okay? It’s one thing to get some rest before the post-season starts but he hasn’t played in four games. Willie Randolph insists that he’s fine and that Carlos would be playing if the games mattered, but this is a long time to just relax. I hope there’s nothing seriously wrong because I really want to see him have his Astros-like post-season this October.
  • Why doesn’t anyone mention Alfonso Soriano as an MVP candidate? Granted, my vote right now is for Ryan Howard, but Soriano should get some love here. Besides his awesome offensive numbers (40-40-40 is insane) he’s having a fantastic defensive year in the outfield (19 outfield assists), despite the fact that he’s never played there before. He may not win it, but he definitely deserves to be in the discussion.

Fonzie’s Back! and Other MLB Rants

Sunday, July 16th, 2006
  • Edgardo Alfonso is back. Yes, that’s right. The Mets have reached a minor league deal with one of my all-time favorite Mets, despite the fact that he is currently the world’s oldest 32 year-old. He’s going to the Tides and I really doubt he’ll ever make it back to the club, but how cool would it be to have him on the bench in the postseason? He was released by the Giants last season then released by BOTH the Angels and Blue Jays this season, so he’s not exactly turning many heads, but it’s still nice to see him.
  • Exactly how fat has Bartolo Colon gotten lately? He’s listed at 5′-10″ and 250 lbs, but really, he looks like he’s going to bust out of his uniform. I know he’s a pretty good pitcher and he’s having an okay season, but isn’t there someone on the Angels coaching staff who realizes that if he had a little less girth he’d probably be much, much better?
  • How cool was it to see that a Met, Carlos Beltran, was the only guy man-enough to play the entire 9 innings of the All-Star game? I was really proud of him. It seems to be a step towards showing his love of the game, something that isn’t exactly his strong suit. Of course, does that game have anything to do with his current leg problem? I doubt it, but it is something to keep deep in the back of your mind if he misses significant time.
  • With two weeks left before the trade deadline, I have to ask: where will Alfonso Soriano end up? I highly doubt he’ll stay in Washington, despite the fact that he says now that he wants to stay there (can anyone say “leverage”?). I like that he’s playing so well in the outfield (currently leads the NL in outfield assists) because it shows that, despite his immature threats to sit out the season if he was moved to the OF, he has grown up and realizes that he’s a part of a team. I don’t know how I’d feel if he ended up on the Mets, but let’s face it–he’d be a definite upgrade at either 2B or RF.
  • Is it just me or are Mets games just not as exciting when Reyes isn’t in the lineup? Having him out this past week and a half really has made me appreciate what he does not only for the team but for the fans. His energy is contagious and his personality is electric. Hopefully he’ll be back on Tuesday night against Cincinnati.
  • There is nothing more unnecessarily stupid in all of baseball than the lack of any clear rule about check swings. I drives me nuts when I hear announcers, even Gary Cohen, whom I love, say things like, “looks like he held-up to me,” or, “it’s too close to call; let’s check the replay.” Why does this bother me so much? Simple: THERE IS NO RULE! All the MLB rulebook says about it is that a player is given a strike if he makes an attempt at the ball. What does that mean? Is “breaking the wrists,” like so many announcers say, making an attempt? Do they have to cross the plane of the plate? Honestly, if you go by the rulebook, all you have to do is politely ask the batter, “um, excuse me. Did you intend to hit that pitch?” I’m sure he’ll tell you the truth. Seriously, there needs to be a more clear-cut rule.

I just checked my watch, and it’s saying “Lima Time”

Thursday, July 6th, 2006

Immediately afterwards, I threw my watch in the toilet. What in the name of all that is good and pure got Jose Lima another chance? Seriously, I want to know. I know Soler sucks. I know he drove me crazy Sunday night. He even drove me to drink. But you know what? At least Soler had two instances this season where he looked like he belonged in the major leagues.

Has Jose Lima EVER looked like that this year? No, he looked like shit in three starts and was supposedly put out to pasture after that. But no, somehow, improbably, he’s getting another start. Why is he even still in the organization? Surely, if the Mets could find somebody to take Kaz Matsui and Jeremi Gonzalez, they could have found somebody to take Lima off of their hands.

Lima getting a fourth start is a cry for help. Omar Minaya is telling the rest of the National League, “I am terrified of the back end of my rotation.” Jose Lima shouldn’t be starting for the Norfolk Tides. He isn’t good enough to start for the Yakult Swallows. I wasn’t sure that the Mets could find a way to make me pine for the days of Victor Zambrano, and then they gave us Alay Soler. Now they’re making me pine for the days of Anthony Young with Jose Lima.

I hate to say this, because I like Milledge, and I know the plan is for him to take left field next year, but Omar…it’s time to go out and get a good starting pitcher. Even if it means moving Lastings. I like Lastings, I think he has a bright future, but this is a team with a real shot at making the World Series. Without a third good starting pitcher, heck without a second good starting pitcher, (I’m not convinced Pedro is healthy and ready to go) this team isn’t going to get the rings.

I might be a little reactionary here, but sending Jose Lima to the mound to start games will do that. If trading Lastings or trading Pelfrey means the Mets take the World Series this year, it’s worth it. It’s not like they’d be trading Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano, (God, typing Kazmir’s names sends shooting pains through my stomach) only to finish fourth in the NL East. This would be a move that would put the Mets over the top, guaranteeing a World Series.

When it comes to the World Series trophy, that’s the one thing you sacrifice your farmhands to get. The National League is weak. It won’t take much to put the Mets in the World Series, but they’re going to need some help to take it. As presently constructed, they can’t do it. They need another pitcher to put them over the top, and they’re going to need to trade some real bargaining chips to get that pitcher. But it will be worth it, because it gives them a shot at the ring. Omar, it’s time to go get Zito.

Okay, I’ve had enough

Monday, May 8th, 2006

Everybody knows I’m driving the Kaz Matsui bandwagon. I make no secret about it. I like Kaz. I root for Kaz. I hope Kaz succeeds. So far, in a small way anyway, he has been successful in 2006. He has been, by far, the best second baseman they have started since the season started. He has hit at least as well as an average second baseman, he has fielded as well as an average second baseman. Has he been elite-level? No, but he doesn’t need to be, the Mets have enough elite-level players to where even being average is enough for Kaz to warrant a roster spot.

Which is why when I read things like how he’s being shopped so that the team can make room for Anderson Hernandez…I’ll be honest, I get a little fired up. I get a little unhappy about that, because I look at that situation, and I see how the Mets’ front office doesn’t seem to have the team’s best interest in mind while contemplating such a move. Unless they’re getting Scott Kazmir back from the Devil Rays, or unless they’re getting an elite-level pitcher back from the Red Sox, trading Kaz Matsui makes absolutely no sense.

Anderson Hernandez is not ready to be playing in the major leagues. Period. He has shown no ability to hit at ALL. He is overmatched facing major league pitching. He was batting .146 with a .146 on-base percentage and a .146 slugging percentage at the time of his injury. Meaning, in his short major league career, he had yet to draw even a single walk and had yet to hit even one extra-base hit. He is simply not a good enough hitter to be in a major lineup every day.

I feel like I type this every time a Kaz rumor starts. Maybe I’m overly defensive of Kaz, maybe not. But he deserves to be in the lineup. He deserves to be on the field. He has played his heart out since returning from the disabled list. He’s given us perfectly mediocre production through fifteen games. He doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table, but he takes nothing off of the table, either. From a #8 hitter, that’s all you can really ask for. Whatever defense Anderson Hernandez does bring to the table, he takes off and then some with his pitiful bat. If the Mets are serious about winning the NL East this year, they will not trade Kaz Matsui.

David Wright in a bit of a slump

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006

Perhaps we were a little too early in starting up the David Wright MVP bandwagon. He’s in an 0 for 14 slump, and has just seven hits in his last 54 at-bats. For Endy Chavez, that would be cause for celebration. For David Wright, it’s a slump. In fact, Willie Randolph got thrown out of last night’s game for arguing balls and strikes after Wright disagreed with a called strike three.

But you know what? It’s David Wright. He’ll pop out of it. All it takes is one good game, a 3 for 4 against Pittsburgh, or even better Atlanta, and we’ll forget all about it. Nobody is going to hit .500, or even .400 for a season. When 2006 ends, I’m sure David Wright will be well over .300 and all will be fine in Mets-land.

The reason Chavez got the nod over Nady and Diaz…

Monday, May 1st, 2006

Willie Randolph played a hunch. I guess it worked, since Chavez hit his first homer in almost two years. But seriously, you cannot put Chavez’s bat in right field. That is a disaster waiting to happen. He plays a decent right field, but like I said yesterday, it seemed like an awful lot of Braves’ hits yesterday went to right, which indicates that while Chavez plays a competent center, he may not play a very good right.

So why is Victor Diaz on the team at this point? It looks like they’re just going to send him back to Norfolk on Tuesday when they bring up John Maine, so his being on the team this week was simply a waste of time. I really wish they’d stop jerking Victor around. At this point, if they aren’t going to start him (and they’re not; Nady is hitting well) and if they aren’t going to commit to him in either Norfolk or New York, they’d be better off just trading him and seeing if they can get a back-of-the-rotation starter for him. Right now, they’re just jerking him around, and that’s not good for either the team or for Diaz.

There is the legitimate issue that if they do trade Diaz, that the team lacks a corner outfield backup with pop to replace him, unless the reason they signed Michael Tucker was to fill that role (without the pop). I just wish they’d do something with Diaz already. I think he has the hitting ability to play in the majors at this point, but the team moved in another direction to get Nady, and now they’ve got nothing for Diaz to do. At this point, they’d be better off trading him.

Willie almost bashes Zambrano

Monday, April 24th, 2006

The Post tried its best to make it sound harsh, but it really wasn’t that bad. I mean, compared to what every other Mets fan in the country, myself included, was saying after yesterday’s debacle, Willie’s words almost read like an endorsement.

“You can’t make mistakes on the fat part of the bat,” Willie Randolph said. “It’s like with Barfield, with 0-2. That’s just not executing pitches, and that’s poor game management. You have to look to do a better job of that. Those are things that you can say about any pitcher, but the bottom line is that Victor needs to work harder at doing that.”

Really? Victor has to work hard on avoiding the fat part of the bat? That’s what he has to do? You’re sure, Willie? C’mon, it’s more than that! How about the fact that he’s always working from behind in the count? Always! He never gets ahead of a batter. How about his “stuff,” which only produced three strikeouts yesterday? Yes, giving up home runs is a huge, huge problem, (especially at Petco, which last season was the least homer-friendly ballpark in the majors) but Zambrano has so many flaws in his game, he just can’t be trusted. The biggest mistake made this offseason was trading away Benson and Seo, forcing Zambrano to be kept in the rotation.