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

Saturday, May 21, 2005

What about Willie?

I know I said Buster never writes anything positive or slanted by the Mets, but I was wrong. He does when they are ex-Yankees. For those of you who do not have ESPN Insider and do not believe it, here you go.

On the Mets' pregame show Sunday, Fox Sports New York showed a clip of Mets manager Willie Randolph chatting with reporters. They wanted to know about the status of reliever Scott Strickland, who has been pitching for the team's Class AAA affiliate; Strickland had a clause in his contract that would allow him to declare free agency, and the writers asked what was going to happen with him.

Randolph gently badgered the writers, saying he wanted to talk about the players who are actually with the Mets, and when someone started asking a question about Kaz Ishii, the manager nodded his head approvingly: OK, now we're talking, let's get to a subject that's immediately relevant.

The moment encapsulated Randolph, how he once played and how he manages now: He doesn't obsess about peripheral stuff. He doesn't start any fires; he dampens them or puts them out entirely. We forget that he was a six-time All-Star with 2,210 career hits, because he was surrounded by Hall of Famers like Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter and Hall of Fame personalities like Billy Martin, George Steinbrenner and Thurman Munson (if a bearish mien can be called that).

Everybody else made headlines with their words; Randolph just played, did what he had to do to prepare to play every day. He seems to be going about his work as manager in the same way, preparing for that day's game, answering questions simply and directly, steering away from issues that he doesn't find immediately pertinent.

I wondered how Willie would do as manager this year, mostly because he had never handled a pitching staff before. He had never made decisions about when a starter is tired, when he should save a specialist, when he should call on his closer.

He's done well. The Mets are not a great team – they look like they're still a year and some bullpen acquisitions away from contending. Eventually, Randolph will be judged on the club's record. But he has been an asset, managing in the same no-nonsense way that he always played, stone-faced, concentrating on the job at hand, not worrying about all the other stuff.

The Mets won on Monday, roughing up Paul Wilson.

* * *

  • Going through some of my old posts, I came across this:

    Bar none, the best female sport is beach volleyball and no team exemplifies that more than the Brazil team. If I did not have to fear for my life with a trip down there, I'd be on the first plane.

  • The Soxaholix had a great quote on Friday:

    Mike: And you can tell when a columnist or anyone else is getting long in the tooth when they say something like "it wasn't so long ago" and then they bring up 1966? Not so long ago? For fuck's sake that's nearly 4 decades ago.

    Bill: Yeah, it wasn't so long ago that we were at war with the Japanese now they play on our baseball teams. So, Bob, "where did we go wrong" with that one?

  • Last night's aggravating game showed the Mets can hang in there with the Yankees, but you simply cannot give them outs. If you give the Yankees outs, you will not win. They will take your mistakes and your errors and bury you with them. No team is better than the stupid Yankees for capitalizing off your mistakes. On top of that, the Mets had a bunch of scoring opportunities that were not taken advantage of. You simply will not beat the Yankees like that.

    The highlight of the game for me was Heath Bell's 1.2 inning, three strikeout performance capped by a strikeout of A-Rod.

  • "They need to stop booing Matsui every time he misses the ball," said Derek Jeter, "and stop giving him a standing ovation every time he catches it."

    Bob Klapisch says it is make or break time for Kazuo.

  • Minor update:
    • The Tides beat Richmond 2-1. Steve Coyler went 2/3 of an inning giving up no runs to bring his ERA down to 3.09 and Scott Stricland went one inning while striking out two, not walking anyone, and not allowing a hit for the save. Eric Junge pitched well for the win.
    • Hagerstown got shelled by the Blue Claws 10-2.
    • St. Lucie lost to Dunedin 7-6. Humber continues to pitch so-so and went 5.1 innings, gave up six hits, three runs, one walk, and one homerun. Humber struck out six and now owns a 3.97 ERA. Lastings Milledge picked up a hit and an RBI while Brett Harper picked up two hits and another homerun.
    • Binghamton beat Altoona 9-2. Anderson Hernandez continues to surprise with the bat after going 3 for 5 with two runs scored, a homerun and an four RBIs last night. His average is up to .325. Aarom "Don't Call Me Aaron" Baldiris went 4 for 5 with one run scored. Yusmeiro Petit went six strong innings, giving up two hits, no runs, one walk, and struck out eight. He is 1-2 with a 3.13 ERA.
  • On WFAN yesterday Omar was on an answering some questions. Here are the highlights.
    • He likes Lastings Milledge and Phil Humber.
    • He is not interested in trading Cameron.
    • He would trade Cammy should a great deal come along and is comfy with Diaz as their full time right fielder.
    • He would trade prospects for an ace at the deadline if need be.
  • Jared Weaver is now Stephen Drew's teammate in Camden. Drew continues to hit well in his first exposure to the wooden bat league with a .386/.435/.684 line and seven doubles, two triples, two homeruns, and five walks.

  • Allan Simpson did a draft chat wrap on BA. If you are too lazy to read it, here are the highlights.

    Q: Kevin from Staten Island asks:
    Hi Allan, Let's say the Mets don't get Craig Hansen at nine. Can they get a good college closer with their 4th round pick? Also, who do like for them at nine? Thanks.

    A: Allan Simpson: I'm not sure you ever get a good college closer in the fourth round--at least someone who projects as a big league closer. Those kind of guys are usually only available in the first couple of rounds, and we've got three closers projected go there--Hansen, N.C. State's Joey Devine and Texas' J. Brent Cox. We've also got Central Missouri's Nick Webber and Auburn's Michael Nix as fourth- or fifth-rounders. As for the Mets at nine, Hansen and Texas high school outfielder Jay Bruce are the players whose names we hear most.

    Q: Brent from Corona, NY asks:
    Thanks for your time Allan: My question is about the Mets. I recently saw Omar Minaya and Jeff Wilpon at the St Johns/Farleigh game. Its clear this the guy they want. Do you think there is any chance someone takes him before the Mets. And if so what team do we have to watch out for?

    A: Allan Simpson: The Mets do have a strong interest in Hansen, a local boy who's the early favorite to be the first player in the '05 class to reach the big leagues. The only other team drafting before them that has shown sufficient interest is the Diamondbacks at No. 1. But Justin Upton is the clear favorite to be the first player picked and I simply can't see the D-backs drafting another Scott Boras client if they can't sign Stephen Drew.

    Benny, if you go to the games, you might see Omar there. Send him my regards. Good to see Omar out there scouting the kid with his own eyes.

    The other name thrown out there was Jay Bruce, an outfielder from Texas who is a high school student. He is a 6-2 lefty from Beaumont, Texas and was ranked 44th overall in terms of high school prospects on Feb. 1st by Baseball America. According to BA, "Bruce plays the outfield with poise and aplomb" and he is also one of the best pure hitters and owns a "fluid left-handed stroke".

  • Kendry Morales finally fixed his visa issues and will be in the US by Friday.

  • Prediction for today is that Benson notches the W and Mets end up taking the series two games to one.
  • Friday, May 20, 2005

    Rival Weekend

    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.

    * * *

  • Minor update:
    • 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.
  • Get the Met scouts all over this one.

  • Even the players are not fond of interleague play.

  • Bob Raissman has a great article today documenting the Mets complete dominance in the commentator booths on radio and on TV. Sterling and Kay are flat out hacks while the Mets have professional and skillful commentators with the glaring exception of Fran Healy, who Raissman does call annoying in his article.

  • The NY Times has a good article on Roberto Hernandez.

  • Jon Heyman has a great article today on the Yankees and Mets matchup.

  • My unhealthy desire for Craig Hansen looks to be in jeopardy. His stock has risen so much, he may get drafted first overall. Though the Diamondbacks had Brandon Lyon break through big time this year, Hansen is one of the four players the Diamondbacks have narrowed their first pick to. Of course this could change, but they are looking at Justin Upton and college righthanders Craig Hansen, Luke Hochevar, and Mike Pelfrey. Very surprising that Alex Gordon was left off this list, but I'm sure the Royals will not be complaining about that too much.

    However, when BA lays out their prediction the draft, low and behold to my surprise, they predict the Mets may be taking Craig Hansen.

    9. METS
    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.

  • Five Cuban defectors declare for this upcoming draft.

    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.

  • In BA's draft blog, they mentioned that they expect Drew and Weaver to sign prior to the draft. They are guessing that Boras' claim they will re-enter the draft is mostly posturing trying to put on the pressure.

  • According to BA, Wade Townsend has not impressed scouts in recent workouts. His fastball lost some zip and his curve looked average.

  • If your dream is to see a tyrant in his underwear, look no further.
  • Thursday, May 19, 2005

    Quarterly Report

    Forty one games into the season, the Mets are 22-19. I know people are saying the Mets are exactly what they were predicted to be, an average team. The consensus was that this team is a .500 team at best by most fans and most experts, so no one is surprised that they are three games over .500 at this point. However, I'm not part of that group of people that think this team is just an average team. I'm not saying they are the cream of the crop or class of the National League, but they are certainly going to contend and do have chance of finishing on top of this tightly packed and very competitive National League East.

    Coming into this season, I thought the starting pitching would be the biggest strength of this team. With the addition of Pedro Martinez and Kris Benson, Victor Zambrano, Tom Glavine, and Steve Trachsel returning, this rotation, one through five, looked like it would have kept the entire team in games every start. Seemingly, there was not a real weak link. They finally added their ace and Kris Benson and Victor Zambrano looked poised to move up the food chain in terms of being dependable pitchers that could slot in the front of the rotation. After Trachsel got injured and the Mets acquired Kaz Ishii, who has been in large part a very good pickup, and has had solid returns with a 3.96 ERA, 5.76 K/9, and a .157/.287/.277 line against him despite an 0-2 record. As advertised he's walked people and lot of them. In fact, he's walked more batters than hits given up.

    Rotation Stats:
     W  L    IP   HR   H/9   K/9  BB/9  K/BB  WHIP   ERA  BAA
    14 15 244.3 27 7.70 7.66 3.54 2.17 1.25 4.38 .234

    Martinez, Seo, Ishii, and Heilman all lead the team respectively in BAA with .154, .156, .157, and .238 and have been by far the best four starters this season. Did anyone bet that Seo, Heilman, and Ishii would have been three of the best four starters? I'm going to guess not likely, but the rotation looks to be settling down. Tom Glavine has seemingly benefited from Martinez's tip, Benson is coming off a solid start and will get into the swing of things, and Zambrano is at least not on the DL and that is the best thing I could say about him. Should he continue to falter, the Mets rotation will actually be better if he is removed and that speaks to the depth that they have acquired over the first part of the season in the rotation.

    The bullpen was not a very big concern of mine this year as I thought the Mets would have enough useful parts to comprise a gritty pen that would get the job done. Though it has not shaped out like I expected with Roberto Hernandez being the best Met reliever, which was completely unforeseen by anyone, they are not a liability.

    Current Reliever's Stats:

    W  L    IP   HR   H/9   K/9  BB/9  K/BB  WHIP   ERA  BAA
    6 4 95.3 12 8.97 7.93 3.59 2.21 1.40 3.59 .259
    Overall Reliever's Stats:
    W  L    IP   HR   H/9   K/9  BB/9  K/BB  WHIP   ERA  BAA
    7 4 105.3 12 9.06 7.53 3.81 1.98 1.43 3.89 .263

    The bullpen has been pretty good and I think it will better. Heath Bell will mature some more and evolve into a great one two punch of set up men with Roberto Hernandez. Combine that with the fact that Aaron Heilman will be given a shot to stick in the bullpen (for now) with Scott Strickland most likely to find his way onto the club and being that Looper has been much more effective of late than in the early goings of the season, this bullpen has a big chance to move on up.

    Their offense, unfortunately, has been what I expected it to be. Streaky and lacking patience. Getting on base is not something they particularly excel in, but this group is much better than last year. To end the season in 2004, the Mets had a .317 OBP, which ranked 14th and this season they have a .331 OBP, which ranks twelfth. They lead the league in homeruns, they are fifth in RBIs, and they are ninth in batting average, but one colossal disappointment and something everyone thought they would be tops in the league in was stolen bases and stolen base percentage. While they are fifth in the league in steals, I feel they should be higher and will most likely climb the ladder once Beltran and Matsui get going. As for their stolen base percentage, they are sitting in thirteenth place with a .62% success rate which is borderline ridiculous for the speed and skill this team should have on the bases. The team will improve in this area and the offense overall will be adequate once the starting pitching comes around and good enough to carry them through this season.

    The Mets are a team finding their identity and for a team still finding themselves, three games over .500 and 1.5 games out of first is not too bad right now. This team had a lot of turnover and some early injuries to key players. In time, they will gel. The have a lot of directions they can take and have surplus of starting pitching, some pitchers still available for the pen still, and a solid corner outfielder should Cameron be used as a trading chip if needed, and we all know Omar is not done with the 2005 Mets. Steve Trachsel is on track to come back by the All Star break and is going to see his doctor on Monday to see if he can get cleared to play catch. The Mets also have players who got off to bad starts and are starting to turn it on like Mike Piazza, David Wright, Kazuo Matsui, and Tom Glavine. I still maintain that this team can and will contend for a spot in the playoffs. Overall, the first quarter of the season has gone as good as can be expected and they will hit their stride this season if they can avoid the major injury problems that have been plaguing this team for the past few seasons. This team has not given me reason to be anything but optimistic this year, and while some people take this first quarter to mean mediocrity, I take it as a positive. They have holes and have hung in there, but things are working themselves out and this team is not done taking shape.

    * * *

  • Thanks to Mikey H. for pointing this out. The John Deere Going Yard logo is the exact same thing as the Brooklyn Cyclones logo.

  • Ah, you can never have too much positive press associated with your baseball team.

  • Minor Update:
    • Hagerstown lost 2 – 3 to Lakewood. Matt Durkin took the loss and went three innings, giving up three hits and five base on balls while striking out two. Yes, five walks. Durkin has not looked so hot after an impressive start.
    • St. Lucie got shut out against Sarasota. In the loss, Milledge went 0 for 2 with two walks.
    • Norfolk has it’s second blowout win in two games. Steve Coyler continues to pitch well and went two scoreless innings. He has a 3.27 ERA with three walks in nine innings while striking out fourteen. I’m still skeptical of his past control issues, but he could definitely be a viable option if he continues to pitch well.

  • Ooooo boy.

    But there appears to be no timeline for Bonds' rehab, because right now, there is no rehab. Bonds' case is in the hands of Dr. Robert Armstrong, an infectious disease specialist. And that won't change until Dr. Armstrong is certain the infection is completely absent.

  • You cannot make this stuff up. They are going to repeal a drinking law that makes drinking in stadium parking lots in Milwaukee illegal. It is a law which is not even enforced either. Who made that law in the land of beer anyway? That is as ludicrous as a stating you cannot snort cocaine in Columbia.

  • Cammy looked great in center last night and being that he is probably a better center fielder, it is understandable why he was hesitant to move. As much as I like Cammy in right, he belongs in center and that will not be with the Mets.

  • From NorthJerseycom:

    Tom Glavine moved into sole possession of 34th place on the all-time win list with 265 victories. He needs one more to catch Bob Feller and Eppa Rixey. ... Perhaps odder than the victory was that Glavine hit a batter. It was the first time he plunked a hitter since Sept. 14, 2003 - a streak of 1,177 hitters.

  • From NorthJersey.com:

    And once this was over, the focus could finally be on the Yankees. Or not.

    "Do we get rings if we win this?" Doug Mientkiewicz asked. "What can someone possibly tell me about how exciting this game is going to be? Yeah, it's going to be a packed house. I played in a World Series. It can't get any bigger than that. I won Game 7 at Yankee Stadium to go to the World Series. You can't compare. It's not even on the same planet. You ask those guys - you think they're geeked up about the Subway Series? They'll look at you like you're crazy."

  • Roger Rubin has a good article on Tom Glavive today.

    The frustrating first five weeks of Glavine's season are behind him. In yesterday's outing, he was not his best, and still it didn't matter. Glavine still found a way to keep the lead and eke out a win.

  • The Yankees won ten in a row before last night's loss and are still only one game over .500.

  • Mets record this season 22-19. Mets record last season 19-22.

  • Cameron said the last time he dropped a fly ball, it was Griffey who hit it and Tom Glavine, as he was yesterday, was on the mound.

    "I kept asking him if the sun was okay," left fielder Cliff Floyd said. "He told me to shut up."

  • Ah, the rumblings of Daisuke Matsuzaka have already begun. Guess who is expected to sign him according to this article? The Yankees, who are attached to every single big free agent every season. It gets old really, really fast having Johan Santana, Ben Sheets, Eric Chavez, Carlos Beltran, etc. a slam dunk going to the Yankees.

  • BA has a good article on the Boras Factor in the draft.

    “If I had a son,” one area scout says, “and he was in the major leagues, I’d want Scott to represent him. But if he’s an amateur, there’s no way.”

  • I've decided to give work the middle the finger and go see Stars Wars today.

  • Wednesday, May 18, 2005

    Matsui 2, Reds 1

    Asian Night at Shea was a big success last night with Kaz Ishii pitching a great game and Kaz Matsui supplying the punch and knocking in both RBIs with a cluth homerun. Actually, it's hard to determine whether it was good pitching or bad offense. There is definitely a fine line between the two and with two struggling offenses, I'm leaning more towards a bad offensive night than a good pitching night. The Mets have had some timely hitting and late inning comebacks this year, and that is not the way to live. Like last year, their luck will run out if they do not become more proficient at working the pitchers, working counts, and creating runs more. The Mets, still live and die by the homerun and their starting rotation is just not as good as anticipated, though still being shaped and could straighten out.

    Willie started a bit of a mini controversy by bringing in Koo for the beginning of the ninth inning instead of Braden Looper.

    "Willie's the manager. I've got to do what he says," said Looper, who has converted nine consecutive save chances. "All I can say is, I want the ball when the game is on the line. But I'm not the guy who makes those decisions."

    While I have no particular problem with what Willie did, some people think that the closer should be in every closer situation if they are rested and sometimes even when they are not rested. Personally, I think Koo's stock was on the rise with two solid outings and Willie wants to find out what he has there. Changes are coming in the bullpen and Koo needs to find his place and lefty specialist every two days is not it. El Diablo responded to Willie's move by hitting 97 on gun twice in a row and working at 94 consitanly while looking as nasty as he ever has. Willie has shown a penchant for not managing by script like Art Howe, and you really cannot argue with it. He goes with his gut and not just by the book and I'll take that any day. He's still learning and still gets out matched by some managers some games and makes weird moves, but I do not think anyone believes he will not grow. He is a far cry from Art Howe.

    * * *

  • "Looper is good, and he's my guy and our guy," Randolph said. "I got a lot of confidence in him. Who knows? Even if I had Mariano, I might have done that."

    Willie, get over it. Get over the Yankees. Stop with the comparisons.

  • Perhaps the biggest surprise of the game was Roberto Hernandez's lack of an accent in the post game. Just by looking at him, I figured he had this thick accent like Armando Benitez did, but quite the contrary.

  • From Newsday:

    About an hour before game time, Pedro Martinez came out of the trainer's room in a hideous orange suit that was a few sizes too big for him and started hollering to his teammates. Turns out he had worn the same outfit Monday before the Mets' 9-2 victory and was trying to start a streak.

    "Am I exciting or what?" Martinez said.

  • Miguel Cairo was one of the Mets on the top steps when Matsui homered and he was going the craziest. Cairo is definitely a big part of this team and it was good to see him react that way for a guy who's failure means his gain.

  • From the OC Register:

    The Angels, looking for help at designated hitter, are rumored to be interested in Mike Cameron of the Mets, as are the Padres, Astros and Yankees.

    Who the hell would waste him at designated hitter? I'm guessing Garrett Anderson would move to DH, but with the best farm system in all of baseball, Omar should be listening.

  • Minor wrap-up:
    • Hagerstown beat Lakewood 5-3 and Dante Brinkley keeps raking. Brinkley went 2 for 4 to bring his average up to .393.
    • St. Lucie lost again, but who cares? Milledge continued to be on a tear and went 2 for 3 to bring his average up to .258.
    • Binghamton goes down in fifteen seemingly uneventful innings to Reading 3-2.
      Norfolk beat Richmond 9-1. Pagan went 3 for 5, Keppinger went 2 for 5, Diaz went 2 for 4 with one walk, and Strickland went one inning and struck out two.
  • With Met/Yankee series coming up, I do not feel as confident as I did last year. The Mets are sputtering and not playing great baseball despite taking the first two games of this series, and the Yankees are red hot after winning ten in row.

    However, the odds are on our side. They just have to lose at some point.
          • Tuesday, May 17, 2005

            I Hate Roberto Alomar

            I hate Roberto Alomar. I used to like him a lot as a player and was ecstatic to say the least when Steve Phillips brought in over here in a move that plenty lauded as genius, but he erased any positive feelings I had for him with his horrendously disappointing stint with the Mets. Kazuo is struggling right now and struggling big time. However, Matsui is better than this and not by just a little bit. Matsui should be the some of the cream of the crop when you are talking about offensive production from middle infielders in the National League. Offensively, I envision Kaz's offensive game to be very similar to Roberto's game. Maybe not his 1999 and 2001 seasons that were MVP like, but certainly every other season.

            Kaz has exhibited at times this year what Roberto has done so well in terms of battling at the plate. Working a two strike count and fouling pitch, after pitch off. Those are the at bats that I see that keep making think Kaz is not far from turning it around, but time after time Matsui just slumps further and those at-bats have been few and far between. Like Roberto had some power and would hit a load of doubles, Kaz has that ability and can steal bases like Roberto. Kaz has the ability to be what Mets fans expected out of second base while Alomar was here and he has the ability to be a big part of this team.

            Met fans so far have taken quite a dislike for him this year and a lot of that is Miguel Cairo sitting on the bench. If not for him, Kaz would just meld right in with the other under producing ball players on the offensive side for the Mets and taking the brunt of the boos that used to be reserved for Roger Cedeno. Last night he had a strong game in which he went 2 for 3 and hit a bases clearing triple the other day. Hopefully he will be able to build on this and work his way back up the lineup because he is much better than an eighth place hitter. His game is off right now and with two steals and only two doubles, he is probably not used to being in this territory. As of now, his SLG is .313 and he is on pace for eight doubles and eight steals in 150 games. In 2004, he had thirty two doubles and fourteen stolen bases in 114 games and he really seems like he is getting a bit more comfortable in the last few games. When he turns it on, they will come in bunches and hopefully he is on the verge of turning it on.

            * * *

          • Why does Buster Olney look for negative things to write about the Mets?

            7:10 p.m. ET: Cincinnati's Paul Wilson goes back to Shea Stadium, where he was supposed to be a star, to work against the Mets' Kris Benson. The Guy Most Likely To Go Deep will be Ken Griffey Jr., who has a .500 career average against Benson -- seven hits in 14 at-bats, with two doubles and no homers.

            Why even bring up Griffey? Why not mention Cliffy is the most likely player to smash one against Paul Wilson with a .409/.435/.591 line with one homer and a double in twenty-two at-bats? Why not mention the Mets were out for revenge against the slumping Reds who came in the game with the highest starting rotation ERA, the 4th highest bullpen ERA, and an 11 - 23 record since the opening series? It's just ridiculous that I've never read anything he's written slanted or saying something positive towards the Mets. Did he apply for a job with the Mets and not get it?

          • Some people were calling for DiFelice over Castro, and now they have DiFelice over Castro.

            DiFelice, 35, is a career .239 hitter in 501 major league games with the St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks.

            Why people were clamoring for DiFelice as the backup over Castro is beyond me, but he's an adequate backup.

          • SI throws the Mets under the bus.

            New York Mets: Braden Looper responded to pressure and has been getting the job done. When the Mets wake up and realize they can't compete this year, expect them to experiment with the closer job.

            I am still one of those disillusioned people who think the Mets can make some noise and could make the playoffs. But just out of curiosity, who are they going to experiment with? Heath Bell is the only guy with a future on this team that comes close to profiling as a closer.

          • Benson looked sharp topping out at 94 on the gun and going 7 2/3 innings.

          • It's nice to have a Gold Glover in right.

          • Just let this sink in. Ted Robinson said it during last night's broadcast, and though you know it, it just sounds good to hear it. 21-year old David Wright leads the team in walks. Coming into last nights game he had twenty walks.

            The bad part? Wright is on track for 83 walks and NO Met is on track for 100.

          • The Orioles are still interesting in Mike Cameron.

            Wilson remains the most likely to be moved, given the Rockies' organizational depth in center field. The Nationals expressed interest before landing the Phillies' Marlon Byrd, and the Orioles discussed Wilson but now are focused on the Mets' Mike Cameron.

          • Diaz has been demoted to make room for Kaz Ishii, who will start tonight against the Reds. Big deal? Not really. Now Willie will not be able to sit his hottest hitter in Cliff Floyd to get Victor some work. Zambrano will be in the bullpen for tonight if Kaz needs help, but will start either Saturday or Sunday against the Yankees, who he has had pretty good success against. Even if he gets shelled, he should have plunked two or three Yankees in the process, which is just like a win.

          • They still have not figured it out. From the about link:

            Randolph acknowledged that Aaron Heilman, who started Sunday against the Cardinals, was considered to be farmed out to Triple-A Norfolk to accommodate Ishii's activation.

            I know I should not get worked up, but why is this still even an option?

          • A unnamed scout:

            "They're much better than they were a year ago, no question about that," the scout said, "and against the Yankees you'd have to give them the edge in left field and center field. But Reyes is a very important player for them and somebody's got to get to him and make him understand he's got to get more selective. I can't believe some of the pitches I've seen him swing at. It's too bad Willie can't just give him a video of how he used to play. I know a lot of people are down on (Kaz) Matsui, but I like him. He's gotten some really big hits and at least he'll take a walk.

            "In the end, the Mets are going to have to win with pitching and with (Tom) Glavine really a No. 4 guy in the rotation now, the two guys they got last summer have to pitch like 'twos' and 'threes.' I just don't know if they are."

          • For anyone that did not see the Mets game last night, Koo's at bat was pretty funny. He was standing so far off the plate that an inside fastball would have been tough for him to reach. Needless to say, he struck out and did not lift the bat off his shoulder. He had no intention of taking his hacks.

          • From BA:

            Georgia prep lefthander Miers Quigley has been shut down with tendinitis in his arm. Quigley started strong in the spring, hitting 94 mph in his first start, but has seen his velocity dip into the upper 80s throughout the spring while battling arm tenderness. Quigley’s poor senior season, coupled with makeup questions, has dropped him out of first-round consideration.

            Maybe he'll drop to the mid-rounds and the Mets may be able to take a stab at him.

          • In the minors:

            • Hagerstown lost 8-1 to Greensboro and nothing interesting happened. Only two Suns got hits.
            • St. Lucie lost to Sarasota 6-8, but who cares? Lastings Milledge continues to be on a tear with a 3 for 5 nights with one run scored. He is now up to .244.
            • Indianapolis beat Norfolk 7-3 capping off a trifecta of losses for the Mets minor league affiliates that played yesterday.
          • Monday, May 16, 2005

            Curious Willie

            I think Willie has done an admirable job in his first stint as a manger, but like many mangers, he does and says things that just confuse people.

            "The guy is not even here," Randolph said. "What is it, like a big deal here with a guy who is in the minor leagues? Am I missing something here? He's not even on the team yet. He's in our organization."

            For one, Strickland was in the majors before and was successful before. When he was first brought over from Montreal, there were whispers from GMs that they thought he could be their closer of the future and the heir to the erratic Armando Benitez. Secondly, the Mets do not have a lights out bullpen and to waste a guy who is on the right side of thirty that has a bulldog mentality out of the bullpen seems a bit silly when faced with some of the other options. That is the big deal. The guy can walk without the Mets even letting him see what he can do, and that is big mistake considering it is not out of the realm of possibilities that Mets will be looking to upgrade their middle relief when the trading deadline closes in. Who does it hurt to give him a look?

            It seems elementary to at least give him a look, even it means sending Victor Diaz down for two or three weeks to take some hacks or sending Eric Valent down to take some hacks.

            Head scratcher #2 is his infatuation with Doug Mientkeiwicz. He is now Batting .216 with an OPS of .730 and is still entrenched in the sixth spot in the order. I can take his lack of all around offense because of that stellar glove, but he should be as far away from the meat of the order as possible. David Wright is still earning his chops down in the seventh spot and is batting .267 with an .864 OPS. It is about time Wright moves up to sixth, possibly even fifth with the struggling Mike Piazza hitting .207 with a ridiculous .675 OPS.

            Willie, when things look painfully obvious, people are going to make a stink about certain things.

            * * *

          • The shame is, Aaron Heilman is on thin ice, and yesterday’s loss cannot help his cause.

          • This is a great picture.

          • Phil Humber got knocked around in his five innings of work on Sunday. He gave up four runs, on five hits and three walks while striking out five. Despite that, the St. Lucie Mets beat Sarasota. Milledge had his best day of the year with a 3 for 5 day, with one run scored, one RBI, and two doubles. Brett Harper his hit 13th homerun of the year.

          • Yusmeiro Petit gave up two homeruns, three earned runs, and four hits, while striking out three and walking one in four innings. Binghamton beat Norwich despite his lackluster start and Anderson Hernandez went 4 for 5 with a double, a homer, two runs score, and knocked two RBIs.

          • Norfolk was no hit. Not good.
          • Sunday, May 15, 2005

            The Rubber Match

            From Mets.com:

            Heilman, the homebody, is to face the Cards, a team that still plays better on the road than most teams. Heilman has a 3-0 record at Shea in two starts and one relief appearance. His home ERA is 0.47, the lowest home ERA in the National League among pitchers who have thrown at least 19 innings at home.

            If he wins again today, there should no longer be a discussion about whether to move him to the pen or not when Ishii returns back.