This is my least favorite time of the baseball season besides the end of the season. I do like interleague play, but I like it because I get to see players like Ichiro Suzuki and Eric Chavez, who I normally would only get to see on highlight reels or if I watch a game through MLB.com. However, the Yankees are painfully engrained into my daily baseball life and I've already had my fill of them for the rest of my days. On top of that, it is hard to stomach Yankee fans spouting senseless propaganda and mindless drones reminding everyone of the Yankees past successes while I'm trying to watch a baseball game at the Shea Stadium. When interleague play first started, there certainly was a novelty to watching the Mets take on the Yankees, but it has worn off. Not only has it worn off for me, but it is not exactly fair either.
The National League East will be one of the tightest divisions, if not the tightest division with four, and possibly five competitive teams in the division and no team that is a pushover. The Mets have to take on the $200 million Yankees every season for six games while the Florida Marlins get the hapless Tampa Bay Devil Rays for six games. Sure Atlanta, Philadelphia do not exactly have easy opponents, and they can make the same argument, but no team loads up like the Yankees every off season. When Major League Baseball went to the balanced schedule, they tried to make it so the best team wins the division in the fairest way. Having the Mets play the Yankees and the Braves play the Red Sox while the other teams get opponents who are not perennial powerhouses works against that theory and could be the difference in a close race.
The best and most fair way to do this and garner more excitement in these "rival" matchups is have them happen when the schedules align properly. The Mets had the AL Central last season and have the AL West this season. In 2006, they will have the AL East and that is when they should face the New York Yankees. Of course, that will never happen. Though Wilpon may not like to face the Yankees who field an All-Star team year in and year out, he sells out every last one of those seats in spacious Shea for the three game series. However, if it was done every three years, it might mean more to the players and the fans. Do not get me wrong, it is a big baseball weekend, but mostly for bragging rights and not because of actual baseball importance. The two series after the Mets tangle with the Yankees have much more importance and though they will not resemble a playoff atmosphere like the Mets versus the Yankees, they are far more interesting and relevant to me and most fans.
- Hagerstown downed the Lakewood Blue Claws in the 10th inning 2-1. Carlos Gomez hit his third homerun of the season and Gaby Hernandez was outstanding. Gaby went six innings, allowing three hits, one walk, and no runs while striking out nine. Hernandez is 2-1 with a 3.18 ERA.
- Dunedin was beat by St. Lucie 4-1. Lastings Milledge continues to be on fire with a 2 for 4 night and will undoubtedly be on BA's prospect hot list next week.
- After coming back down to earth for a bit, Brian Bannister had yet another great game. Behind Bannister's seven inning, five hit, no run, no walk, and five strikeout performance, the B-Mets beat Reading 6-0. His ERA is down to 1.94 and his record is now 6-1. In the game, Brian also went 1 for 2 with an RBI.
- Jae Seo continues his stellar pitching and went seven innings, allowing three hits, one walk, no runs, and struck out eight. Strickland pitched a shut out inning in which he gave up two hits and struck out one. Jeff Keppinger went 4 for 5 to bring his average up to .374 and he is making it hard for me not to be a believer.
However, when BA lays out their prediction the draft, low and behold to my surprise, they predict the Mets may be taking Craig Hansen.
Mets GM Omar Minaya has personally scouted St. John’s righthander Craig Hansen and isn’t averse to sticking his neck out on a Boras client—particularly someone with local appeal who could be in the big league bullpen by September. Braun and Bruce have also generated interest from new scouting director Russ Bove, who prefers high-ceiling prospects. The Mets proved in the off-season they are willing to spend money to attract talent, and they want to make a splash with this pick because they forfeited their second- and third-round selections to sign Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez. If Drew is back in the draft, the Mets would be one of the teams that would seriously consider taking him--they came very close to selecting him a year ago.
PROJECTED PICK: Craig Hansen.
Shit, the two guys are want are mentioned here. Life would be good if they could nab one of those two, I just think they fit perfectly into the Mets plans.
Shortstop Yuniel Escobar Almenares, 21, is considered a top talent as a good-fielding shortstop who also has a potent bat.
"Escobar is real good. He's got a lot of tools and he's a physical guy, about 6-foot-2, 200 pounds. He's a strong kid," said an AL scout who has seen the Cubans play on several occasions. "He has strong hands and plenty of arm strength. The bat's got present ability; he has strong hands and wrists and can swing it."
BA's draft blog says the Red Sox are interested in taking him with one of their six picks that they will have in the top 59.