It is upon on us. This is where the rubber meets the road. The #1 pitching team vs. one of the top offensive teams. Bragging rights are once again up for grabs as the Mets play the team everyone loves to hate, the $185,000,000 machine, the Yankees for a three game set this weekend.
The Mets will be traveling into that horrible excuse for a ballpark, Yankee Stadium. If there was not so much history
there, it would have been torn down years ago. I've been there many a times as a kid and I was there last year by way of losing a baseball pool to some friends. As bad as Shea is perceived to be (I happen to not mind it), Yankee Stadium is not far behind. The Mets can only improve on their 0-6 record against the Yankees last year since I have serious doubts about that being pulled off two years in a row. I mean, without Benitez to screw it up, the Mets will win at least one.
I look upon this time a year like I look upon punched in the face. Yankee fans walk around Shea and yelling things like "26 World Championships", "I had no idea New York has a Junior Varsity Team", or "Jeter is the best baseball player on the face of the Earth". Now, I like trash talking as much as the next guy, but let’s get original here. So yes, I will be tormented yet again...unless, the Mets can manage to win some games. Nothing shuts a Yankee fan up as much as the Mets beating them. They may go back to their usual senseless banter, but just like Met fans, they do not want to lose in the subway series. I have to say, I feel pretty good coming into this weekend. I like the pitching math-ups that I see so far. Let's look at the rundown of each team.
Tale of the Tape
LF - Cliff Floyd vs. Hideki Matsui: Hideki is hitting .192 for the month of June and cooling off at the plate. Overall, He does have thirteen homeruns and is batting .283 to Cliff's seven homeruns and .285 average, but he has 104 more at-bats. They both are around the same value in the field, so that aspect cancels itself out.
Edge: Cliffy. Hometown scoring? Maybe, but I'll take Cliff anytime over Hideki.
CF - Mike Cameron vs. Bernie Williams: Their offensive stats, except for average are pretty much similar. Cameron also has the base running over him as he has eleven steals to Williams' zero. However, despite the .042 point difference in the average, Cameron's defensive prowess trumps anything Williams has over him in the BA department.
Edge: Cameron, by far.
RF - Richard Hidalgo vs. Gary Sheffield: No need to go into depth on this one.
Edge: Gary and his gold teeth....or are they platinum?
3b - Alex Rodriguez vs. Ty Wigginton: Hmmm, let me think about this one. I do not think I need a detailed explanation as to why I feel the way I do. I love Wiggie's hustle and all, but....
Edge: Alex "I'm probably pretty sure it will work out for the best" Rodriguez
SS - Kaz Matsui vs. Derek Jeter: Jeter must be happy there is finally a shortstop who is worse than he is in the field. Coming into today, their batting averages were only .006 points off and their OPS is were .029 off. I had a tough time with one since Matsui beats Jeter in runs, stolen bases, walks (double the amount), OBP, doubles, and errors (obviously not a good thing). Jeter has a more homeruns (double the amount), and has been better in the field. On top of that he has these intangibles
as well as his extensive knowledge of knowing how to win
according to Yankee fans.
Edge: Even. Yeah, any other year Jeter would get the nod, but I really just cannot do that this year based soley on past performance. He just has not been the Jeter of old (which was over-rated anyway). As bad as Kaz has been, Jeter has been right there every step of the way. Jeter has 25 XBHs to Kaz's 25 XBHs. It is too close to call.
2b - Jose Reyes vs. Miguel Cario: Yeah, Cairo is putting up decent #'s right now, and Jose Reyes has only played three games since coming back from injury, but......
Edge: Jose Reyes, rust and all.
1b - Mike Piazza vs. Jason Giambi: My how the mighty have fallen. After leaving Oak-town, Giambi has not put up those triple crown numbers that we all have been accustomed too. Jason now sports a .246 average. All around, Piazza is now better offensively than Giambi. Giambi does have an edge in the leather department, but nothing that will sway me from my decision.
Edge: Mike Piazza is now the #1 1b in New York despite his fielding deficiencies which he will be improving upon as he gets experience.
C - Jason Phillips vs. Jorge Posada: Contrary to popular Yankee fan belief, Posada was NEVER the best catcher in New York...until now.
I will not go into the DH since it is associated with fake baseball
in my book. On top of that, Piazza and Giambi are most likely going to be DH-ing while Clark and Valent/Zeile play 1st.
Now by my calculations, the Mets have an advantage at four of the eight positions, with the Yankees having the advantage in three of the eight positions, and a tie at the shortstop position. How can this be when the Yankees have the best record in baseball while the Mets are struggling to stay at .500 if they are a better team when broken down by position? I have no idea. The only thing I can think of is that I am extremely biased, but I do not think so. The Yankees do not do it for me.
Now for the pitching match-ups.
Friday - Al Leiter vs. Jose Contreras. Leiter is 2-2 with a 2.14 ERA and Contreras is 4-3 with a 6.18 ERA. Also going against Contreras is that he has given up an astounding 15 homeruns in 51 innings. Is there really a debate even to be had?
Edge: Leiter. We al know Leiter is a big game pitcher and we all know Contreras has not been a big game pitcher in his limited service in the majors. The only thing that scares me about Leiter against the Yankees is that Leiter has been getting into trouble all year and pitching his way out. If he gets into trouble against the Yankees, they will pounce all over him and he will not be able to cover his mistakes.
I will say that I am happy for Jose and his family. I think it was horrible what they had to go through and it is great that they are re-united. His family in America may be the X-Factor on Friday.
It appears that Al Leiter will be facing Brad Halsey instead according to CBS Sportsline. Edge still goes to Leiter.
Saturday - Steve Traschel vs. Brad Halsey: Halsey was 6-2 with a 2.52 ERA before he was called up from AAA. After getting called up, he pitched well in his only start against LA, going 5.2 innings and giving up only two runs for his first victory in the major leagues. However, he has not played in an inter-league game between the Mets and Yanks before. It tends be a bit like a playoff atmosphere the way the crowd is into it. Although Trachsel has been struggling of late, he is still a very consistent veteran who knows how to pitch. Smart money is on Trachsel
It appears that Steve Traschel will be facing Jose Contreras instead according to CBS Sportsline. Edge still goes to Traschel.
Sunday - Matt Ginter vs. Mike Mussina: Fact is Mussina has not pitched well this year. He is 8-4 with a 4.58 ERA and has allowed 164 base-runners in 90.1 innings. On top of it all, righties are hitting .295 off him and lefties are hitting .294 off him. Matt Ginter, while still unproven over the course of an entire year, has been successful in his small sample size. Also, in his carreer he is 0-0 with a 1.08 ERA in 8.1 innings vs. the Yankees. Ginter has pitched to the tune of a 3.38 ERA and has a 1.31 WHIP in 38.2 innings. Ginter has kept righties to a .261 average, but lefties are doing rather well with a .289 average, which is not good when the Yanks can throw two or three lefties and two or three switch hitters. Can Ginter handle this big game? I think so, Ginter showed everyone something when he pitched so well in his first ML start against Roger Clemens.
Edge: Mussina. Mussina has been a lot better since he got out of that pesky month of April and brought his ERA down from an astronomical level to a much better level. Although it still is not good right now, he has been better of late. His high win total is partly due to the team he plays on so I cannot rely on that. However, his crusty veteran status pushes that match-up against Ginter to an even status.
As for the bullpens, the Yankees have a pretty clear edge. No need to depress myself with the gory details. The Mets need to make sure they are not trying play catchup in the eighth inning.
I think the Mets have real good chance to not only go into Yankee stadium and not only hold their own, but knock down the front door, punch their mother in the uterus, and take two of three. The Mets are riding some energy right now and hopefully these three games against Cincy will get Reyes some more much needed at-bats so he can terrorize the Yankee pitching. Also, I really like these pitching match-ups. You could not really ask for a better three to face though no one on the staff scares me. I've seen Vazquez enough to know we can beat him and with Brown injured, that staff is weak. If the Mets can stay hot against Cincy, look for good things this weekend.
* * *
Cameron is on fire. Another three hits last night and he missed the cycle by a homerun. His average is up to .223. It was just a great victory. The Mets went down by three runs in the third, came back to tie it in the fourth, and then tacked on three more runs. Just like a bad loss with demoralize you and perhaps make the team take a turn for the worse, a good victory like this can catapult you on to much better things. They are playing with some fire and on a mission to put .500 behind them instead of falling below it, then above, then below, etc.
The other bright spots on the day were Piazza's 2 for 4 effort in which he blasted his 16th homerun, Floyd's 2 for 4 day in which he hit his 7th homerun, and the bullpen pitching five scoreless innings to finish the game out. Ginter got knocked around a bit, but the team picked him up. You have to love this victory, the Mets creped up a game on Philly and are 1.5 in back of them and 2.5 behind the Marlins. Life is looking good.
CBS Sportsline is giving the Mets some notice. They still are only number 18 in the power rankings, but hopefully they will continue to move up some spots. After they knock around the Yanks this weekend, they will have no other recourse than move them up.
Pinella made the guarantee that the Devil Rays would not finish in last place this year, so far he looks like he is keeping his promise. Although it did not look good in the beginning, twelve wins in a row will certainly put you into a good place. The Devil Rays are now one game under .500 and holding tight in third place.
The B-Mets can't seem to figure out they are supposed to play worse when their best two players get promoted to AAA. They won again 3-2 over Norwich and are now a comfortable 5 1/2 games ahead in first place. Justin Huber continues to pick up the slack with a 3 for 4 effort which included a homerun, a double, and two RBIs. He now has seven homeruns and is batting .295. He keeps this up, he may have an appearance on the Prospect Hot Sheet and he should see AAA at some point this year. Matthew Peterson went seven innings, only gave up three hits, two earned runs and struck out five, but left the game with a no decision. He is still having some control issues and he walked four, but this is his second solid start in a row and he looks to be back on track. The win went to Blake "The Mop Up Man" McGinley who is now 7-1 with a 2.87 ERA. Seven wins for a relief pitcher at this point in the year is unreal. He also K'd four, walked no one, and surrendered no hits in his two innings of work.
In Capital City's victory, Lastings Milledge went 2 for 3, with three runs scored, a double, a homerun, and one RBI. He is batting .322 and well on his way to breaking back into the top 25 for the Prospect Hot Sheet instead of getting honorable mention.
Norfolk was the only Met affiliate to lose. It could have been a clean sweep for all teams, but Yates could not hold on to it and surrendered the winning run. Bob Keppel started the game and went six innings and gave up more runs than innings pitched, so you can get the idea that he did not do well. But there were some bright spots. Jeff Duncan continues to hit and went 3 for 5 bringing his average up to .271. Danny Garcia picked up a couple of hits, Vic Diaz hit his 10th homerun, Brazell hit his 18th homerun, Redman picked up two hits, and David Wright got two more hit and is hitting. 353. Wright is just unreal, he is having quite a hot streak that extends all the way back to the second half of last season. He is begging to be promoted to the majors, but he thing is, you do not want to rush Wright, and Wiggie is hitting the ball hard himself. So right now, there is not a need to bring him up especially when the Mets are hot. Decisions, decisions for Duquette, but this is a good problem to have.
I have no idea how Diaz is handling right field, but I'm starting to think it was worth a chance to let him try right field before they got Hidalgo. Maybe he is a disaster in right for all I know. But when they brought up Gerald Williams, maybe Vic Diaz should have been called up for some ABs.
According to NY Fansites, the Mets have signed Gabriel Hernandez. He was one of the top high school pitchers and was rumored to be possible problem to sign due to the fact he was intent on attending college. This is good thing for the Mets to get him inked and in a uniform. The Mets arms in the minors just got deeper and that is never a bad thing.
Roberto Alomar wants out of Arizona. With the emergence of Scott Hairston at 2b and Alomar's poor performance in the first fourteen games, he is due to see no playing time at all. Hairston is a 20 homerun threat at the 2b position and is likely to to be mainstay there and a very productive one at that. Roberto also needs 313 hits to reach 3000, which once thought to be well within reach is starting to look at bit out of reach. Alomar is going to need to find someoneo that will take a chance on him after his 3rd terrible season in row. It is amazing how much he has fallen from his MVP type 2001 season.