A blog dedicated to the New York Mets with some other baseball thrown in.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Five Reasons Why The Mets Can Beat The Phillies

This one was pretty tough. The Phillies have the best bullpen in the NL East and possibly out of the entire NL while having one of the most well rounded offenses in the National League. Their rotation is good, but I think that will be the major reason they do not win the division. They have depth, but they simply lack the impact starters and will not be able to hang with Marlin, Brave, or Met top starters and while their offense is good, they are not good enough to bash opponents into submission. Their pitching is vital and it will be their Achilles Heal.

1) Starting Rotation: They own the fourth best rotation in the NL East and possibly the fifth best by the time the year plays itself out. The lost Eric Milton and Kevin Millwood, and their big pickup was Jon Leiber. It's arguable whether he is a downgrade or upgrade from the other two, but he's basically a Steve Tracshel type guy at this point of career, which is not bad, but not what they needed. They have Brett Myers, who has not lived up to his expectations and is coming off a horrible year, Corry Liddle, and Vincente Padilla, who is tabbed as their guy with ace potential. However, they really need Padilla to be the pitcher in 2002 & 2003 if they are going to go anywhere. The final spot will be a first year starter in either Ryan Madsen or Gavin Floyd or Randy Wolf. The Phillies’ problem is that they do not have a difference maker in their rotation. If Padilla does not step up or is not healthy, they simply cannot match up.

2) Pat Burrell: While he rebounded to play tons better in 2004 than he did in 2003, he is an enigma. He's a guy that looked like he was headed towards stardom then fell off the side of a cliff. He's getting paid a hefty toll to put up mediocre numbers. However, the biggest reason they need him to perform because is not because he is getting paid $43.5 over the next four years, but because they would have a devastating 3-4-5 for pitchers to try and navigate through every game. Will he be the guy who hit .282/.376/.544 in 2002 which seems decades in the past at this point? Or will he be the guy who hit .209/.309/.404 in 2003 and .257/.365/.455 in 2004? I think he is vital part of setting this team's offense apart from the others. They are scary if he's the Burrell they thought they signed the big contract with and they are just tough otherwise, but nothing a good rotation cannot handle and the NL East has a few of those.

3) Philly Booed Santa Clause: The City of Brotherly Love has not really done much to reinforce their age old motto. In fact, Philly is known as a town with some of the harshest fans in all of professional sports. Not only did they boo Santa, but they pelted him with Snowballs.

"There's nothing that sounds worse than throwing snowballs at Santa," said sports radio host Glen Macnow of WIP-AM in Philadelphia. "It's like spitting on Miss America."

Indeed it is Glen, indeed it is.

"When I hit the end zone, and the snowballs started, I was waving my finger at the crowd, saying 'You're not getting anything for Christmas,"' Olivo, who was Santa on that infamous Sunday in 1968, recalled.

Just a shameful day in this history of such a storied city. When you force Santa to flip you the bird, you’ve done something wrong. Very, very wrong and the big man upstairs does not forget things like this.

4) Vincente Padilla’s Arm: Vicente Padilla was suffering from tricep tendonitis on Sunday in his right arm. Doesn't sound that bad right? Wrong, it was the same injury that cost him 15 starts last season. He is the guy they are counting on to be their #1 this season. Sure they have Gavin Floyd or Ryan Madsen able to step in if he goes down, but replacing your ace is tall order for a young pitcher. If Padilla is down for a long period of time, their rotation could be Liddle, Leiber, Myers, and two first year starters. That is not a division winning rotation in the NL East. The Phillies’ future rotation with Madsen, Floyd, and Hamels looks spectacular, but that will not help them this upcoming season if Padilla goes down.

5) Kenny Lofton: Do I really need to elaborate on this one? There were rumors they may jump into the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes but instead they downgrade their bullpen for a centerfielder who looks like he has hot coals down his pants when he is chasing down balls in centerfield. Offensively, he's not going to bring much to the table, but I do not think they are counting on him to be their leadoff man or a table setter, so it may not matter what they expect out of him offensively. However, he brings to light a bigger situation with the Phillies. They are not devastating 1-8 in the lineup. Lofton is a question mark as is Burrell, Bell has injury concerns, and Lieberthal is not an offensive force. Their team is built around two big time thumpers with a decent surrounding cast. Pound for pound, when you compare the position players for the Phillies with the Mets, the Mets come out ahead. They have a better offensive third baseman, catcher, centerfielder, second baseman (Matsui has the edge on Utley), shortstop is up in the air, and left field is up in the air. The only two positions with clear cut advantages for the Phillies is right field and first base. They are good, not great. They are a very beatable team.

* * *

  • Heilman remains in the Mets plans, but how exactly is up for grabs. Maybe there is a batting practice pitcher position open that we do not know about.

    "I always felt that I expected more of myself than from anyone else," Heilman said. "Certainly there is that expectation label that's put on you. I think the biggest thing is to not let it affect you. That's put on you from someone in the outside. A lot of times you start putting labels on things and it doesn't turn out to be what's expected, so it's not an exact science."

    I wish you luck in the future.

  • Piazza gives Willie some options:

    "I'm not going to shelve it," Piazza said. "I enjoyed the experience. I don't know if I'll ever be a full-time first baseman in the future, but I wouldn't mind keeping the bag, so to speak.

    "This game is funny sometimes. I at least want to give them an option. It may not be the best option, but it's an option."

    At least he has perspective on the entire situation. However, the thing that caught me was that the manager and Piazza actually spoke about it before the media found out. Imagine that. Art, I hope you are taking notes.

  • The NY Post kindly reminds us of Humber’s nastiness.

    "If you don't have confidence in all your pitches, then guys can sit on certain things in certain counts," Humber said. "And 3-2's a big count where a lot of guys are going to throw a fastball on the outer half. And you have to be able to change it up on a hitter every once in awhile and keep him off balance. That's something I was able to do at Rice, throwing 3-2 breaking balls, and that's something I'm not scared to do now."

    You can say the Mets front office is/was a lot of things, but they need to be given credit. After drafting their first round mistake named Aaron Heilman, their first rounders have been David Wright (supplemental rounds are still considered part of the first), Scott Kazmir, Lastings Milledge, and Phil Humber. That's four guys in row who look like they have superstar qualities. The Padres picked Matt Bush who failed to make BA's top 100 prospect list as did Detroit's #2 pick Justin Verlander. Does that mean they will not be superstars? No, but it tells you that it's not a slam dunk to just draft guys early. Just ask the Pirates how they've first rounders have fared lately.

    The Mets have done a great job drafting in the first round in the past few years.

  • From Newsday:

    Mike Cameron, who had off-season surgery on his left wrist, continues to make progress and yesterday took batting practice. Cameron is preparing to be ready by Opening Day, and Randolph remains hopeful.

    "Any time you hit, the next day tells a lot - the soreness you have," Randolph said. "If there's any discomfort. I feel we've got a long way to go. The fact that you look at him today and you see him swinging really free and easy makes you feel really good."

    If you had visions of getting a good look at Mini-Manny for 10 games or so, you better start letting them go.

  • From the Daily News:

    Rick Peterson's use of a high-tech lab in Birmingham, Ala., continued as top pitching prospects Yusmeiro Petit, Matt Lindstrom and Gabby Hernandez visited the facility. The slow-motion cameras, which take pictures at 500 frames per second - more than 16 times faster than a standard video recorder - made it crystal clear why batters have so many problems hitting Petit, even though he doesn't reach 90 mph. Petit - who finished second in the minors in strikeouts last season with 200 - .manages to keep the ball hidden longer than other pitchers, giving batters less time to react.

  • Al keeps on motoring:

    "Yes. That's what it is. It's really pathetic. And they keep referring to money (Leiter's $10.2 million 2004 salary). The one guy (Francesa) makes $1.4 million, almost a million-five, the other guy (Russo) makes $1.3 million for talking five hours on the radio. And every reference is about what we make. They're talking a bunch of garbage."

    That reminds me...I do this for free so I can talk as much shit about how much you make anytime I want.

  • From the Star-Telegram:

    For now, though, the Rangers have every player under contract, and Hicks said they are looking at a total payroll of $58 million, which includes salaries and benefits. He also said the Rangers owe the New York Yankees $6.2 million this year under the terms of the Alex Rodriguez trade.

    Chan Ho Park is due $14 million in 2005. Between Park and A-Rod, that's $20.2 million for two guys not to play for the team. Unreal.

  • The LA Times says Weaver will probably not belong the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

    ...and when Mom gets into the negotiations, watch out:

    "You think everything is going along fine, then they throw this ultimatum at you and give you [two days] to make a decision?" Gail Weaver said Thursday. "That was quite a shock. It's very disappointing. I don't think they tried hard enough.

    "I told [Angel General Manager Bill Stoneman] from the beginning that if they treated Jered fairly, he'd be an Angel, and they didn't treat Jered fairly. That's it."

    Jutin Verlander's dad brokered his deal with the Angels, but Mommy Weaver had no such luck.

    "He's going to have a good career, and unfortunately it's not going to be with us," Scioscia said of Weaver. "But we're moving on. We have a lot of young pitchers that are talented, and we're going to keep going."

    Of course like Justin Verlander's negotiations broke down and started back up, these could too. However, it's more likely that Boras' two first round clients from last season will be back in the draft this upcoming season in which Boras will have five prominent players that could go in the first round. The big question is, will any of them get signed?

  • Baseball America has the top 100 prospect every season back to 1990. No Met has ever been #1 and Paul Wilson came the closest with a #2 ranking in 1996 and Jose Reyes was close behind with a #3 ranking in 2003.

  • 40 homers out of the two hole? That is definitely a possibility.

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