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

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Random Saturday Notes

  • Chris Kline did a chat wrap on Baseball America. Here are some highlights:

    Q: pete from nyc asks:
    The Mets have several high ceiling prospects as well as emerging talent this year. They are on the fringes of contention. They were in the same position last year. I just threw up a little in my mouth. Should I be worried?

    A: Chris Kline: I think anything can happen in the East, and yes, the Mets have some high-ceiling guys that could be impact players. I don't think this is deja vu, though, Pete. So go brush your teeth.

    You have to love Met fans.

    Q: Adam from Clinton, NJ asks:
    Are you going to have to replace Justin Verlander on the futures game roster after his probable start on monday and if so with who?

    A: Chris Kline: That depends on the Tigers. I'm not sure what the better story is--Verlander showcasing Detroit's future at Comerica on July 10 or Verlander making it to the big leagues after just three months as a pro. Either way, he's the cover boy on our next issue, which is pretty cool timing.

    You read that right. Justin Verlander is making a start on Monday against the Cleveland Indians. Absolutely amazing. He has pitched one hundred minor league innings and only fourteen above A-ball. No one doubts his stuff, but it will be interesting to see how he approaches a Major League team. The idea is that he makes a start and gets sent down, but we'll see about that.

  • Jared Weaver is having a bumpy start to his pro career.

    Things didn’t go so well for 2004 first-round pick Jered Weaver in the contest, as the 2004 College Player of the Year gave up seven runs on eight hits over four innings, raising his ERA to 9.64 in three starts with opposing batters hitting a lofty .381 against the right hander.

  • Billy Wagner is not too optimistic about the Phillies chances of making the playoffs.

    "I think it's the truth," Wagner said. "The way we're playing now, if anybody's fool enough to think we're a playoff team the way we're playing right now, they're crazy. We haven't played well. It doesn't have anything to do with us not working hard or playing hard. We're not getting it done. No, we're not a playoff team right now."

  • Can we all collectively laugh at the Yankees? The part that makes me mad is that people are not calling RJ a bust. If this had been the Mets, the media would have been all over them. Instead, they give RJ chance after chance. His .261 BAA and his 7.93 K/9 are cause for a big concern for team that just spent a whole lot of money on a 41 year old pitcher that is not getting any younger. For their sake, I hope he is injured so there is some sort of explanation. He is on track for his lowest K/9 in sixteen years.

  • MLB is probing Gary Sheffield's self made no trade clause. The Commish is not happy with it and said that it hurts the integrity of the game by saying you will not give 100% and make life miserable for the other team. In regards to Sheff, he felt he was being singled out by the Yankees and some of the higher paid, underproductive players should be moved. However, he fails to realize that since he has been the most consistent player on the team over the past two years and is cheaper, so he is the most attractive cog in a trade to help a team that direly needs to make a move or two.

  • Roberto Hernandez has proved the entire world wrong this year and has been such a huge key to the team this season. It is tough to envision this team without him.

    "I just feel bad for 'Glav,'" Hernandez said. "He battled the whole night and he didn't come out with a win. I know this is about the team win, but (Glavine) should have gotten the win."

  • If the Mets make the playoffs, and Cliff Floyd continues like he is at bat and in the field, is he a legit candidate for MVP? Derek Lee and Andruw Jones seem to be front runners now for what they mean to their team, but Cliffy has to have some consideration at this point.

  • Cliffy has an uphill battle in terms of getting a much deserved All-Star nod.

  • People still say do not count the Yankees out. I say why? Have they proven themselves to be anything but a bad team that showed signs of life during one hot stretch only? In April they were 10-14 and in June they were 12-14. The only winning month they had was May went they went 17-10 and that was due to their 16-2 streak. Imagine if they had not caught fire at that point? To prove how screwed up the media is around here, Mad Dog was talking to Bobby Valentine and asked if the Mets lack of success made him happy. Valentine obviously said no, but Russo then made the statement that for all the money the Mets spent in the off season, they are still only .500. The funny part is, he spoke with just about the entire Yankee organization and spend the majority of the time wiping man juice off his lip. What about the Yankees only being .500 after spending almost at least double of every Major League team?

  • Minor update:
    • Norfolk beat Toledo 6-3. Anderson Hernandez raised his average to .382 after a 2 for 4 night in which he hit two doubles. Chase Lambin drove in two runs for the Tides.
    • Akron beat Binghamton 4-3. Brett Harper has two hits at AA, and both are homeruns. Matt Lindstrom showed some signs of life by going two innings and striking out three while not allowing a run.
    • Lakewood beat Hagerstown 8-7. Ambiorix Concepcion went 2 for 4 with a homer and two RBIs.
    • The Cyclones lost to Aberdeen 6-3.
    • The GCL Mets beat the GCL Dodgers 6-3.
    • Kingsport and St. Lucie were rained out.
  • Friday, July 01, 2005

    Falling Into Place

    Things are looking pretty good in Met-land these days. The Mets closed to within 3.5 games of the wildcard, and despite sitting eight games out of first, they are primed to make a move in the upcoming weeks. They take on the Marlins for three games this weekend, follow that up with a four game series with the Nationals, then a brake of sorts by taking on Pittsburgh, followed by a four game series with Atlanta. The Mets have taken their last three series, and two of them were from division rival Philadelphia. Those horrible trips to Seattle and Oakland will mean nothing if the Mets can step it up when they need too. They can close a serious gap between the leaders in this division and they have Carlos Beltran back at 100% for the run. If the Mets were going to make a move, they need him to be a part of it.

    The Mets also have had some early successes with some promotions in Brett Harper knocking a two run, pinch hit homer for Binghamton and Anderson Hernandez owning a line of .367/.387/.567 in his short time at AAA. Dante Brinkely was also promoted and has played two games at St. Lucie and more promotions are on the way. There are a lot of things going on with the Met organization right now and just about all of them are positive. The Mets are sitting in last place right now, but last place gets them 1.5 games out of second place in the NL Central and 3.5 games out of first in the struggling NL West. This is the most important stretch of games for the Mets in the entire 2005 season. It is put up or shut up time for the Mets and they will not be able to spin it that they are legitimate contenders if they fall flat on their faces. With the rotation hitting their stride, with the exception of Kaz Ishii, smart money is on the Mets to make a move in the next two weeks.

    * * *

  • The Yankees asked for Mark Kotsay and Billy Beane asked for Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera or Eric Duncan, and Philip Hughes. The Rangers asked for Chien-Ming Wang and Robinson Cano for Alfonso Soriano and did not want to discuss the matter any further when they were rebuffed. The same names where brought up when the Giants were asked about Jason Schmidt, but the Yankees were concerned about his cranky elbow.

    The Yankees are looking for some pretty good players to upgrade a listless team and are unwilling to part with their prospects for them. On top of the fact teams know they are desperate and will ask for the moon, they are expensive players they are asking for in terms of talent in return, but they are unwilling to part with their only tradeable commodities in the minor leagues. What are they expecting to give up? Bubba Crosby and Tanyon Sturtze? If the Yankees plan to pick up talent to improve their team, they are going to have to move at least two of their top prospects and they seem to have tabbed all of them as keepers. It could be posturing by them, but I'm not sure if they just want teams to roll over and give them what they need for nothing in return. There is no doubt they want to keep them because their philosophy is changing a bit, and that is why they were shopping Sheffield contrary to what they said yesterday. I just cross my fingers they do give up a bunch of young players in a deal so it can be a dark future in Bronx with nothing on the horizon once again.

  • Shift this.

  • From NJ.com:

    Cairo's return could have a direct impact on the immediate future of outfielder Victor Diaz. Mired in a 2-for-24 funk and playing only sparingly since Mike Cameron returned to the lineup, Diaz is likely to find himself back in Triple-A Norfolk once Cairo is healthy.

    Diaz at AAA is probably the best thing. The Mets could be forming a pretty solid AAA team with Valent, Diaz, Pagan, Jae Seo, and Anderson Hernandez with the soon to be AAA players Mike Jacobs, Brian Bannister, and Yusmeiro Petit. My guess is after the AA All-Star game, we will see some player movement

  • Minor update:
    • Toledo beat Norfolk 10-7. Angel Pagan went 2 for 5 with run scored, Anderson Hernandez went 1 for 4 with a double and three RBIs, Eric Valent went 1 for 3 with two walks, and Prentice Redman went 1 for 4 with two runs scored, a walk, and a double. Jose Santiago got roughed up in his three innings of work and gave up eight runs.
    • Binghamton beat New Britain 6-4. Mike Jacobs went 2 for 4 with two runs scored, two doubles, and two RBIs and Brett Harper hit a pinch hit two run homer. Yusmeiro Petit gave up four runs in 7.2 innings and gave up seven hits, struck out seven, walked two , and gave up a homer. Anderson Garcia took the win in relief with 1.1 scoreless innings.
    • Brevard County beat St. Lucie 4-0.
    • Hagerstown beat Lakewood 6-2. Carlos Gomez went 2 for 4 with double and an RBI, Mike Carp hit his seventeenth homerun of the year, Grant Psomas went 2 for 4 with a triple and a run scored, Ryan Coultas went 2 for 4 with a run scored, a double, a homerun, and three RBIs.
    • Brooklyn beat Aberdeen 2-1. Jonathan Malo went 1 for 3 with a run scored and two walks. He has a .323 average and a robust .447 OBP.
    • Kingsport beat Elizabethton 4-2. Sean Henry went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and a walk and Juan Montero went 2 for 4 with a homer and two RBIs.
    • The GCL Nationals beat the GCL Met 5-2.
    • The Eastern League All-Stars were named. Yusmerio Petit, Brian Bannister, Mike Jacobs, and Chase Lambin all made the team.
  • According to BA, 20 of the 30 first round picks have inked already.
  • Thursday, June 30, 2005

    He Said, She Said

    Someone is lying, but I'm just not sure who. Something tells me it is the Yankee camp. Yesterday, when the story first broke, it was the Mets who supposedly turned down the deal. Now, the Yankees are insisting it was them and people say the Yankees were never interested in this deal that included Gary.

    Yesterday, however, Yankees manager Joe Torre asserted that such a trade wouldn't take place. "We turned it down," said Torre, who relayed the same message to Sheffield. "... I wanted to make sure he heard it from me ... Yes, they asked. We said no."

    Well, it is well known the Yankees want Cammy and want Cammy badly, so it is more likely the Yankees approached the Mets about Cammy, and the Mets were reluctant to trade him. They are extremely happy with him and if he goes, he is going to go in a big way. The Mets are going to get a lot in return. As of now, the Yankees are reluctant to trade Cano and Wang, so who would they trade for Cammy? Enter Sheffield.

    After the deal started getting conjured up, a newspaper said the Mets tried to pawn off Kaz Matsui or Tom Glavine with the deal to shed a player and more payroll, and that is when they Yankees could have rebuffed not wanting to add that extra payroll. It is certainly obvious that if they wanted Cammy and did not want to include Cano and Wang in any deal, Sheffield was a tradable commodity....well, that was before his tirade.

    "How many people who are in my category as a player, who have done what I've done, and did the contract in the fashion I did? When you've got players on this team making the kind of money they do and they didn't defer nothing. So I look at the whole scenario. I sacrificed, and I sacrificed."

    "Now you put me in an uncompromising situation. Then we both are going to be uncomfortable."

    "This was my first choice to come here," Sheffield said yesterday, before the Yankees' last game of a three-game series with the Orioles was rained out at Camden Yards. "I made a lot of concessions to come here. And I'll make it clear: If I have to go somewhere else, a lot of things are going to have to change. Or else they're going to have a headache on their hands."

    "If I'm traded, I'm not going to be happy," Sheffield vowed yesterday, before the finale of this three-game series between the Yankees and Orioles was rained out. "And if I'm unhappy, you don't want me on your team. Period."

    "Things are going to have to be changed about my whole situation. Contract. Years. Anything. Other than that, you might not want to trade for me, because you're going to have a very unhappy player."

    Now the Yankees lost one of their only remaining tradable commodities. Matsui is still an option if they get desperate as well as Cano and Wang, but there is not much. In fact, they may not even have enough to get Mark Kotsay. Money is no object (Kotsay has a $6.5 million option for 2006), although the Yankees may not have enough prospects to interest Beane, even if they made Chien-Ming Wang and Robinson Cano available.

    So let's get this straight. Yankee fans thought that Cano was too much for Cammy much less Cano and Wang when the fact is, they are not enough for Kotsay let alone Cammy. The Yankees are desperate and teams know this. What are the Yankees to do? They simply cannot fill their need for a centerfielder unless they trade the farm, including Cano and Wang with at least Philip Hughes included as well. As good as Wang and Cano are playing, no one is drooling over them.

    Not only is Sheffield intent on making waves, but he wants all his deferred money ($9 million) up front upon being dealt. "We don't need that," is what one member of the organization said about Sheffield. Now the Mets getting Sheffield is thankfully dead, but the rumors keep persisting about him going somewhere. Now his name is being thrown about in a deal with the Marlins for Juan Encarnancion and AJ Burnett. The money would seem to be sticking point and the Yankees would presumably have to pick up money, but it is clear that Sheffield is going nowhere.

    The Yankees could be doing some spin control with Gary by saying the Mets were quickly rebuffed after the proposed the deal saying that Sheff was never going anywhere, but it is clear they were trying to pedal him. They have and offensive juggernaut and could have stood to lose a bat and still have been fine while strengthening the defense and still adding a good hitter. When they realized they had an unhappy camper, they went into defensive mode to try and appease their prickly slugger. Who is telling the truth? Probably a bit of both. The Mets wanted no part of the deal if they could not shed Matsui or Glavine, but the Yankees wanted no part of picking up either of those two, but the Yankees would have done Sheffield for Cammy and Cairo presumably as it does a lot for their team.

    As for Sheffield's tirade in response to the rumors, he could have just said no comment. In a PR lesson, he needs to look no further than Mike Cameron who made concessions to sign with the Mets but is taking a different angle to the questions about the trade.

    "I thought it was pretty cool," Cameron said after the Mets' 6-3 loss to the Phillies. "At least I made it to the back page with Sheffield. It's cool, man. It is what it is.

    "I've been rumored on every hot rumor thing. Baltimore, San Diego, all sorts of places. I'll keep showing up and try to put it out there in right field and do what I do."

    "Dude, I've been on the block and speculated since February," he said. "Take it for what it's worth."

    Sheffield seems like one very, jaded, pissed off man.

    * * *

  • Walk This Way...
    Spiral notebook night did not go as well as planned. Originally, the plan was for the kids to come get their spiral notebooks with some Met catch phrase, most likely catch the energy as they were probably left over from last year, and then watch the Mets in the game. Unfortunately, Kaz Ishii does not like to see kids happy. Ishii inexcusably walked three people in row in the 4th inning, only two subsequently give up a two run single and a three run homer.

    "If you're looking for his head, I'm not going to give you that," manager Willie Randolph said about taking Ishii out of the rotation. "Obviously, he's having some problems getting through an inning or two, but right now, he's still in our rotation. We'll see."

    Is it possible to implement of no Japanese player mandate on this team? For some reason, the Mets do not seem to bring out the best in players from Japan.

  • Minor update:
    • Matt Ginter and Jae Seo went head to head in Norfolk's 3-1 victory over Toledo. Anderson Hernandez went 2 for 4 with a triple to bring his average up to .385 and Rodnye Nye went 2 for 4 with a run scored and a double. Jae Seo pitched well to pick up his sixth victory of the season and went 8.1 innings, giving up six hits, one run, one walk, and struck out nine. He is 6-2 on the season with a 2.99 ERA and is now 6-2 with a 1.92 ERA, 7.56 h/9, 8.88 k/9, and a 3.89 k/bb in his last eleven games. Matt Ginter pitched well in the loss going six innings, giving up four hits, one earned run, one walk, and struck out five.
    • Binghamton beat New Britain 10-6. Aarom Baldiris went sixty-six games without a homer this season and smacked two yesterday. He went 4 for 5 with two runs scored, two homers, and four RBIs. Mike Jacobs went 3 for 4 with two runs scored, one homer, and two RBIs. Jacobs' homer was his fifteenth on the year.
    • Brevard County beat St. Lucie 4-3. Andy Wilson went 1 for 3 with a homerun, two RBIs, and a walk. Phil Humber had a decent outing going seven innings, giving up four this, three earned runs, one walk, one homer, and struck out seven.
    • Brooklyn beat New Jersey 5-4.
    • Kingsport lost to Greeneville 5-3.
  • From BA's Daily Dish:

    After hitting just .216 in April, Mets outfielder Lastings Milledge has been one of the more productive players in the Florida State League, batting .351 in his last 40 games with 37 runs scored, increasing his season averages to .304/.390/.430 in 207 at-bats. His problems on the base paths continue however, as the 2003 first-round pick has been successful on only 15 of 27 stolen base attempts.

  • My VORP is bigger than your VORP:

    New York Mets Hitters: Five Highest by VORP
    Player        VORP
    David Wright 25.3
    Cliff Floyd 24.1
    Mike Cameron 19.8
    Mike Piazza 16.9
    Jose Reyes 10.9
    New York Mets Pitchers: Five Highest by VORP
    Player            VORP
    Pedro Martinez 36.6
    Kris Benson 14.3
    Roberto Hernandez 13.3
    Victor Zambrano 12.1
    Aaron Heilman 11.0
  • Now that the Sheffield deal is put to rest shortly after it began, where are the Mets going to find a .300 hitter, with a .400 OBP that can hit about thirty homers, and drive in runs to plug in the middle of the lineup? Does anyone else see the lunacy to this?

  • Sam Donnellon thinks the Phillies should be sellers.

    The 2002 Mets, filled with aging, underproductive stars, finished fifth, 26 ½ games out of first. In 2003, they lost 95 games. Last year, they lost 91. This year, despite signing big-money stars Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez, they are in last place, under .500 after last night's loss.

    All of which leads to this unnerving thought, even amid a 6-3 victory: Maybe, instead of being a buyer in the next month, Ed Wade should see whether he can get any prospects or youth for his more marketable veterans.

    Maybe these Phillies are closer to those 2001 Mets than they are to the championship that their brass professes is still in them.

  • Brett Harper gets a long overdue call up to the B-Mets.

  • Pedro may skip the All-Star game.

    "I'm not going to prove anything else in an All-Star Game," Martinez said. "I do what I do. Everybody has seen enough."

  • Omar has opened dialog with Mike Pelfrey, but no progess has been made.

    "Would we like to have done it today? Yeah" he said. "But the history is that some of these guys take a little longer than others."

  • Last night the shift was used on Cliffy, who is a predominantly pull hitter. This may be a continuing trend since he is punishing the ball.

  • The bullpen pitched well last night to try and keep the Mets in the game with the most notable performance by Mr Koo, who was perfect in his two innings of work.
  • Wednesday, June 29, 2005

    Roster Chemotherapy

    Most people try and rid themselves of cancer, and I guess other people seek it out. Gary Sheffield for Mike Cameron and Miguel Cairo? Other rumors have the Mets adding in a pitcher as well, which would be borderline insane. Sheffield may be a tremendous offensive upgrade, but the guy comes with a lot of baggage and any interested team should approach him with caution. Gary Sheffield is a borderline hall of famer that will come close to 500 homers and has a career .298/.400/.527 line. He has been in the Major Leagues for seventeen years and if he is traded, he will be with his seventh team. A guy with immense talent will have the dubious distinction of never having a team wanting to lock him up long term.

    Every stop he has been at, he has caused trouble. Whether he is complaining about racism, his contract, or being mistreated, he is rocking the boat. He signed a contract after the 2003 season with the Yankees for three years, and a year into the contract, he was already complaining about the terms that he agreed to. He has a nasty case of bursitis that practically pushed him to consider early retirement and is not exactly a model citizen in terms of health. With the collective nation of Met fans holding their breath every time Cliff Floyd runs, having another injury risk at the other corner outfield spot is large concern.

    Gary Sheffield's deal with the Yankees was a three year deal worth $39,000,000. The deal includes a 2007 option worth $13,000,000 with him making $13,000,000 in 2004, 2005, and 2006. $4,500,000 of each year of the deal is deferred without interest and if the option was exercised, $4,500,000 of his option will be deferred as well. The deferred money without interest is what Gary got his panties in a bundle for after he agreed to it and lobbied for interest to be added to the deferred money. It is a mystery to whether or not it was added or not, but that is still a substantial amount of money.

    Sheffield's run producing ability is enticing, but his asshole demeanor is a put off. If not for his disposition, this would have been a no brainer. The Mets seem to have a great vibe on the team this year and they would be subtracting a great locker room guy and adding a player who is guaranteed to makes waves. Sheffield does not seem like the 'team first' player the Mets need and could detract from the team once he arrives. He is clubhouse distraction that is not needed around a team that projects a rather cohesive clubhouse. They may not have sleep overs and try on each others bras, but there are certainly no malcontents to rock the boat right now. There are reasons why a player of Sheffield's caliber has never found a permanent home and the Mets could be playing with fire. I guess it boils down to how desperate they are for a run producer. Willie's job may get a lot harder in the coming weeks and as strangely interesting this deal is, it scares me.

    * * *

  • Victor Zambrano looks like he is so close to turning a corner and being a dominant starter. One of the things that he has going for him is that he is not afraid to go inside....or outside...or up...or down. When he can cut his walks down and be effectively wild like he has been for the last month, no player ever really gets comfortable. He is one pitcher that plunks a guy and nobody in the house thinks it was intentional. Zambrano could look un-hittable some innings and he always seems to have one inning that is his undoing. Lately, he has been cutting down on those bad innings, but still gets himself into trouble.

    In his last inning of work, he danced around a jam to leave the bases loaded and preserve the Met lead. He can still be frustrating at times, but as Jeremy pointed out, this Victor seems to be different from the Victor of the past. He is a guy that is not the ace of the staff, but has the stuff to beat another team's ace on their best night. He has the ability and talent to best any other pitcher, and though he lacks the consistency and control to be a bonafide ace, he is an extremely valuable commodity to slot in the #3, #4, or #5 spot.

    "Victor is still a work in progress, but you can't help but be encouraged by his earned-run average which is half a run better than it was in Tampa Bay last year," said Rick Peterson. "To me, his problem is not his control but rather focus. He needs to focus on one pitch at a time. I think it's helping his maturity that he's not the No. 1 guy here as he was in Tampa and what does it say about your club when your No. 4 guy has an ERA of 3.84?"

  • Minor update:
    • The St. Lucie Mets beat Palm Beach 9-6. Lastings Milledge went 1 for 3 with two runs scored, two walks, and got caught stealing once. Shawn Bowman hit his thirteenth homerun of the year. Kole Strayhorn took the win in relief and went 1.2 innings giving up one hit and one walk.
    • In the Sally League, the North lost to the South 7-5 in the All-Star game. Gabby Hernandez went one inning and gave up one run. Dante Brinkely went 1 for 4 with a homer, Mike Carp went 0 - 4, and Grant Psomas went 1 for 3.
    • Kingsport beat Greeneville 5-4 in eleven innings. Sean Henry went 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI, and a walk while Riky Oliveros went 3 for 5 with one run scored, a homer, and two RBIs.
    • The GCL Mets topped the GCL Marlins 3-2. Brahiam Maldonado went 0-2, but walked three times on the night.
    • Brooklyn lost to New Jersey 9-1. Johathan Malo went 2 for 4 with an RBI.
    • Norfolk beat Toledo 6-4. Anderson Hernandez keeps going nuts and went 2 for 4 with one run scored to up his average to .364. Eric Valent continues his awakening at AAA and went 1 for 4 with two runs scored, a homer, and two RBIs. Prentice Redman continues to play like a guy who does not want to go back to AA and went 2 for 4 with one run scored, a double, a triple, a walk, and two RBIs.
    • Binghamton lost to New Britain 12-6. Brian Bannister took his second loss of the year and went 4.1 innings, gave up eight hits, six earned runs, three walks, one homer, and only struck out one. He is now 9-2 with a 2.20 ERA.
  • "I think it can start now ... I think it's started already, really," Cliff Floyd said. "If we're going to be in this, make a run, it's going to be now. We have a lot of things working finally."

  • From Newsday:

    Steve Trachsel expects to make his return from back surgery by Aug. 1, and the potential for an overcrowded rotation means another starter is likely to be moved by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Trachsel plans to throw off the mound for the first time on Saturday and then report to Port St. Lucie to continue his rehab.

  • The Mets attendance last night was 39,898 at Shea. Not bad for a non-Pedro start on a Tuesday.

  • Carlos Beltran motoring around the bases was an amazing sign of things to come. I think he is teetering on the brink of an explosion.

  • Danny Graves has an 8.10 ERA in 6.2 innings. The good news is that he has not walked a batter yet. I'm not done with the Graves experiment just yet, but it is getting late early with Danny.

  • The ESPN Page 2 staff lays out a plan to fix the Yankees. Here are the highlights:

    June 29th: Order third-base coach Luis Sojo to steal Jason Giambi's first-base glove from his locker, dip it in Alex Rodriguez's hair gel, set fire to it and drop it into the Hudson River.

    July 2nd: Give Joe Torre a copy of the Yankee stat sheet with Tony Womack's batting average (.239), on-base percentage (.273) and slugging percentage (.263) circled in red ink. Give Torre subtle reminder that those numbers make Womack the 790th best hitter in the majors leagues (out of 792), according to Baseball Prospectus.

    July 4th: Add a chin-strap to Gary Sheffield's helmet so he'll no longer rip it off his head in fits of anger and get thrown out of games.

    July 6th: Put life-size cardboard cutout of Anna Benson in team clubhouse. Remove "clothing" piece by piece until Yankees clinch wild card.

    July 12th: Watch All-Star Game with Theo Epstein. Ply him with unused champagne from 2004 ALCS celebration. Ask him if he'd be willing to trade David Ortiz for Jason Giambi. Tell him you'll even throw in Tony Womack to be nice.

    July 20th: Cancel Sean Henn bobblehead night.

    July 30th: If team is still out of the playoff picture, unveil the Yankee Death Star superstructure. And if that doesn't work ...

    July 31: Swap entire roster for plucky, team-first Washington Nationals, agree to pick up $190 million of former Yankees' salaries.

  • Tuesday, June 28, 2005

    The Year of the Rat

    The 2005 Mets have featured quite a few players who have climbed up the ladder in the Mets organization after being on the outs somewhat for the past year or more. Cliff Floyd, Aaron Heilman, and Jae Seo were all deemed as players that had either worn out their welcome or never earned their welcome with the team. For those players it has been a feel good story this year and hopefully the Mets can use that as a springboard to motivate themselves.

    In the off season, Omar was not trying to hide the fact he was looking for anyone that would make a deal for Cliff Floyd and everyone was turned off, and rightfully so, to the idea of giving up anything substantial for a player who represented such an injury risk. All Cliff Floyd did this year was step up to be one of the best all around outfielders in the game right now. He has carried the Mets offense and played some of the best defense he has every played in the Major Leagues and is tied for third in fielding percentage with .933 of all left fielders. More impressive, he is tied for 18th in zone rating out of every qualified Major League outfielder. Floyd is also currently second out of all outfielders in assists and is tied for second with Brade Hawpe. Strangely enough, he is behind another guy who has been maligned for his defense in Manny Ramirez. Guys with average arms get more assists than guys with cannons because they are tested more so it is not entirely a surprise since guys like Floyd and Ramirez lead the league, but it is still impressive nonetheless.

    Jae Seo is another guy who has seemingly resurrected his career, though he has not gotten a shot to stick wit the big club due to a roster crunch. Since returning back to AAA from his successful stint in the majors with the Mets earlier this year, Jae Seo has been on fire.
      IP   ERA   H/9   K/9   W/9   K/BB
    66.2 2.03 7.70 8.78 2.43 3.61
    The sample size has been pretty good as it covers ten games and he seems to be over his sophomore slump. No rotation spot figures to be opening up anytime soon, so I'd love to see him get a shot to stick in the bullpen as a guy who can come in and throw strikes and keep batters off balance by changing speeds. He has nothing left to prove in the rotation and the Mets are still looking for bullpen help. Like Ryan Wagner of the Phillies had nothing else to prove as a starter in the minors and was promoted to the pen, it is worth a look for the Mets and Seo.

    Many of us did not want to see Aaron Heilman step on the mound at Shea Stadium ever again. However, thanks to a lower arm angle and a newfound plus off speed pitch, he is a guy that fans have been clamoring for to get more time on the mound. He has shown a lot this year and though he has had some trouble in his last two relief appearances in high leverage situations, he looks like he might have found a home in the bullpen. With the Mets starting rotation slated to get more crowded as the year goes on and several top prospects moving up through the system, it seems that finding a home in the bullpen is the best thing for him. Aaron Heilman just may become an integral part of this team yet and may justify the Mets taking him in the first round back in 2001.

    The Mets have had a few Cinderella/rebound stories develop this season and I'm holding out hope for another Cinderella story. Doug Mientkiewicz was showing signs of waking up before he went on the DL and Carlos Beltran is getting healthy and primed up for a solid run. The Mets have had a lot of things not go according to plan and have played erratic at times and are still very much in the thick of things. They are only four and one half games off the wildcard lead and are only seven games out of first. I say only seven games out of first because the NL East leading Nationals have given up more runs than they have scored and I expect their bubble to burst. I just do not see them taking this division or the wildcard when it is all said and done though they will remain competitive. We are almost at the halfway mark and the rest of the season figures to be an interesting one as the Mets have an opportunity to make if they have a healthier second half.

    * * *

  • Buster seriously gets paid for this?

    Michael (New York): Buster, when the Red Sox acquired Clement in the off-season, you said you didn't think he had the make up to pitch in a touch baseball town like Boston. Care to eat those words yet? If any free agent has failed to adjust to his new surroundings, it's Pavano in New York.

    Buster Olney: (11:19 AM ET ) Michael: I did on the blog two weeks ago, and on Baseball Tonight and Cold Pizza. I was dead wrong.

    I love the fact that this could have been me. Right town, right name, and classic.

    Leo (New York): What moves do you think the Mets will need to make to improve themselves? Will they be sellers or buyers?

    Buster Olney: (11:22 AM ET ) Leo: Personally, i think they should be sellers. They've got too many holes to contend this year. They can make some deals this year that will set them up better for 2006. What they shouldn't do is make the kind of prospect-for-veteran trades that killed them last year, and bought them exactly 0 seconds of extra time of contention.

    Ah, so the Mets and Yankees are both similar in terms of their records and distance from the wildcard with some large holes. The Mets need a big bat and possibly a bullpen arm, and the Yankees need a centerfielder and an entire pitching staff. However, the Mets should sell, sell, sell and the Yankees should buy, buy, buy. Truth is, the Mets have tradable parts that could help improve the team without significantly impacting their current core this year or future. This guy kills me.

    Michael (New York): Buster, how about a World Series prediction as we near the All-Star break?

    Buster Olney: (11:31 AM ET ) Michael: I'll stick with my preseason pick (and some of them have turned out to be dead wrong, like my pick of the Yankees to run away with the AL East). Twins will right themselves and take the wildcard and win the AL playoffs, and meet the Marlins, who must also continue to shake off their early lethargy.

    The funniest part to this one is the fact he was on the radio this weekend on Out of Bounds on 1050 ESPN Radio saying the Red Sox would win the division and the Yankees will take the wildcard. My what a difference a day makes. Now it is the Twinkies taking the wildcard? I guess this way he can cover all his bases so he can say he predicted it. In that case, I predict the Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, Rangers, and Twins will win the wildcard so I can reference how I called it months ago.

    Evan (NY, NY): Based on your earlier Orioles comments, do you think that a trade for Glavine would be a good idea? He has pitched well of late and would give them a solid veteran presence who has been through the stretch runs and postseasons before.

    Buster Olney: (11:36 AM ET ) Evan: No, Glavine would not be a good fit for the Orioles, per se, but again, maybe the financial motivation could help you pry somebody away from the Mets. If you're the Orioles, you tell the Mets, hey, we'll take Glavine and his contract (the Mets would be thrilled, I'm sure), and Piazza and his contract, and you also give us Roberto Hernandez and Steve Trachsel; the Orioles can give them Bigbie or Matos and a Grade B prospect. This way, the Orioles would not have to part with any significant prospects.

    They really pay him for this type of commentary? Simply amazing. The non-cash strapped Mets need to clear out half of their roster for Bigbie or Matos and a grade B prospect? I'm not sure I have seen something that makes as little sense as this, ever. Hey, why not throw Cammy in there? They were eyeing him up in the past. Seriously though, is Buster clueless? While Jayson Stark says Tom Glavine could become a hot commodity, Buster Olney thinks the Mets need to give away every player for someone to take him.

    Does anyone like ESPN.com anymore? I love their stats and a few of the writers, but overall, it has gone downhill. So much stuff is sensationalized by their reporters.

  • Minor update:
    • Norfolk lost to Columbus 7-4. Anderson Hernandez went 2 for 4 with two runs scored to bring his average up to .333 and Eric Valent went 2 for 3 with a run scored, a double, an RBI, and a walk. Blake McGinley took the loss and got roughed up in relief going two innings, giving up four hits, four earned runs, one walk, and one homer.
    • St. Lucie lost to Palm Beach in extra innings 4-2. Evan MacLane is taking it to heart when people say the Mets system is lacking in left handed prospects and pitched another beauty. He went six innings, giving up four hits, no runs, one walk, and struck out eight. He is 6-3 with a 2.67 ERA. Offensively the bats were quiet, but Lastings Milledge picked up his usual hit a game and went 1 for 4 with a walk.
    • The Brooklyn game was rained out.
    • Kingsport beat Greeneville 11-6. Nick Evans went 1 for 4 with a run scored, a walk, and two RBIs. Matthew Anderson has been impressive so far and went 4 for 5 with one run scored, a homerun, and four RBIs. His tidy .692 batting average looks more like Doug Mientkiewicz's OPS.
    • The GCL Mets beat the GCL Marlins 9-0. Met pitchers combined to give up one four hits while walking no one and striking out ten.
  • After every bullpen meltdown, the media brings up the same thing. Let's get one thing straight, the bullpen has been the least of the Mets problems this season. Where was everyone when they were solid for weeks?

  • Willie believes Cammy's defensive energy is contagious.

    "Mike Cameron gets us back into a defensive focus. It's amazing how you don't really know how much you miss him until he's not there," Randolph said, referring to the quadriceps injury that sidelined Cameron for eight games. "Now that he's back, you can see a different defensive energy on the team."

  • Trade talks are starting to heat up. The Marlins may be peddling AJ Burnett and have reportedly offered him to the Orioles along with Juan Encarnacion. The Marlins would receive in return Jorge Julio, outfielder Larry Bigbie and one of two young right-handers, Daniel Cabrera or Hayden Penn. The Orioles would most likely not be assured to resign him and are more interested in Jason Schmidt who comes with an option and giving up a young stud arm for one year rental may not be in Baltimore's plans. Another report has the Marlins including Double A outfielder Eric Reed.

  • Desperation never was so funny.

    Prior to gathering his dysfunctional family in Tampa today, George Steinbrenner ordered GM Brian Cashman to trek to Major League Baseball's offices in Manhattan armed with videos of what the Yankees believe were wrong calls by umpires during the weekend Subway Series against the Mets.

    So, before flying to Tampa where The Boss will hold a major organizational meeting, Cashman paid a visit to Park Avenue to lodge a complaint about the eyesight and judgment of the umpires, especially C.B. Bucknor's questionable call and eventual ejection of Gary Sheffield on Sunday.

    There was a time when Yankees officials were on a first-name basis with the elevator operators at baseball's offices because Steinbrenner sent them there so much. That practice subsided in recent years (yesterday's visit was the second this year), but these are desperate times for the reeling Bombers, who last night opened a three-game series with a 6-4 win over the Orioles at Camden Yards.

  • From the NY Post:

    In the last six games, Mets starters went at least six innings, and only once did he surrender more than three earned runs (when Kris Benson gave up four last Tuesday). The starters' ERA for the last six games is an impressive 3.26

  • Terry Francona on filling out the AL roster for this upcoming All-Star game.

    "Do I feel loyalty to our guys? Hell, yeah," said Francona. "I don't remember Joe Torre ever apologizing in that period (when the New York Yankees manager liberally selected his own players when he managed the team)."

    Not on did he never apologize, and he absolutely shamefully violated the right fill out the rest of the roster.

  • Brian Bannister is a good egg.
  • Monday, June 27, 2005

    Trainwreck Baseball

    Watching last night's game was like watching the Mets and Yankees play hot potato. No one wanted to win and they were trying as hard as possible to give the game to the other team. In the first series between the Mets and the Yankees that was played earlier this year at Shea, the Mets helped give the series to the Yankees. With some better played games, the Mets may have taken that series. In this weekend's series, the Yankees were the ones that could have taken the series with a bit of execution.

    You cannot complain about taking the series, but being so close to sweeping the Yankees and not getting it hurts. Now the Mets are below .500 again and the bullpen that has been relatively solid over the past few weeks could not find the plate and step up to the challange. The Mets lost in spectacular fashion and despite winnings the series, they do not leave on a high note. This type of loss hurts a lot more than a blowout would have. The umpires were on the Mets side giving them as much help as possible with some ball/strike calls and a close play with Gary Sheffield at first. Mets fans were riding high and just collectively got kicked in the nuts. Now, they are one game away from mediocrity as they head into the upcoming series with the fading Phillies.

    * * *

  • Minor update:
    • Norfolk lost to Columbus 4-3. Angel Pagan went 2 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs. Anderson Hernandez went 1 for 5 and is hitting .286 so far since getting promoted to AAA Norfolk. Eric Junge started the game and went six innings while giving up six hits, two runs, three base on balls, and struck out seven. Steve Coyler took the loss by giving up two runs in .2 innings. He walked three people and gave up one hit.
    • Binghamton beat Erie 4-3. Victor Hall went 2 for 4 with one run scored, one double, one homer, and three RBIs. Kevin Deaton was the starter and faced off against Justin Verlander. Verlander went seven innings while giving up four hits, two walks, and struck out seven. He has yet to give up and earned run at AA.
    • St. Lucie lost to Palm Beach 4-3. Lastings Milledge went 1 for 3 while Cory Ragsdale went 1 for 4 with his tenth homerun of the year. Shawn Bowman went 1 for 2 with two runs scored, a double, and one walk.
    • Hagerstown lost to Lexington 5-3.
    • Brooklyn beat Aberdeen 9-0. Caleb Stewart went 3 for 4 with two runs scored, one double, and three RBIs. Drew Butera went 1 for 3 with a run scored.
    • Kingsport beat Bristol 6-5.
  • Classless Yankee fans cheered when Floyd hit a ball off of his knee in the top of the second inning. I will not make a blanket statement like saying they are all scumbags, but 99.9% are.

  • Sam Ryan had the comment of the night when interviewing Omar Minaya in the 8th inning. She had asked him what areas he is looking to upgrade the team in heading into the trading deadline and he had mentioned the bullpen. To which she replied, "Yeah, right now you are doing bullpen by committee." (or something close to that)

    Huh? Last I checked, you could only do a bullpen by committee. Good commentary Sam.

  • Mike Piazza is not a fan of being a designated hitter.

    "Honestly, I don't feel like I'm part of the game as much," Piazza said. "... I try to stay in the game, warm up a pitcher now and then. You have to stay in the mental game when you're not catching."

  • I just puked.

    Don't get me wrong, I am ecstatic about the new stadium, but I loathe the idea of this Olympic Stadium crap that hopefully dies soon. Building a 45,000 seat stadium for only baseball like they planned makes a perfect place to watch a baseball game. Citizen's Bank Park was the perfect size and no seat in the house was bad. With the Mets having to design the stadium for the possibility of 35,000 extra seats to be added, they risk making it cavernous with what seats they do have since they will not be wrapping around. If July 6th passes and New York does not get the Olympics as predicted, the plans need to be scrapped.

    If they miss 2012, they will presumably not have a good chance at the 2016 games as a lot of bids are already in motion for Tijuana and San Diego doing a combined bid, Prague is making a push for 2016 or 2020 if 2016's bid fails, England, South Korea, Chile, India, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Japan, Kenya, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, Russia, St. Paul/Minneapolis, Israel, and Thailand. 2012 looks bad and 2016 looks bad so this entire idea needs to be scraped. The Mets would be not building their perfect stadium for a possible 2020 bid to the Olympics which possibly has Denver, Los Angeles, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Prague, Czech Republic, and South Africa jumping into the fray already. Great. This entire Olympic bid thing is pointless. The Olympics in NY is going to be extremely hard to pull off and looks really unlikely to happen.

  • Gammo blabs about the upcoming trade deadline and almost put me to sleep, but check out this portion of the article.

    Thanks to DirecTV, the MLB package and all the games on ESPN.com, we all get to hear local announcers throughout the game, a treat when they are analytical and balanced. A small poll I did came up with the Giants (Duane Kuiper, Mike Krukow), Yankees (Jim Kaat, Michael Kay, Ken Singleton, Paul O'Neill) and Cubs (Len Kasper, Bob Brenly) as the best announcers, although New Englanders worship Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo.

    Jim Kaat, Michael Kay, Ken Singleton, and Paul O'Neill some of the best announcers? The apocalypse is coming. Find a fallout shelter and stay there until you hear from me.

    He did have this interesting stat on the decline of power at the first base position.
    Year  Slugging pct.  Batting average
    2000 .501 .291
    2001 .497 .286
    2002 .480 .279
    2003 .458 .272
    2004 .450 .266
    2005 .440 .264
    I would love to see the same stats for AL shortstops. I'm betting they would be very similar to those stats. The game is 'a changing.
  • Sunday, June 26, 2005

    Two Down, One to Go

    Yesterday, Cliff Floyd did his best Nick Evans impression by going deep twice in the same game. Both of his shots were monster shots and he drove in four RBIs. With those two shots, Cliff Floyd is on pace to set a Met single season record in homeruns as he is on track to knock out 44 homers. Todd Hundley set the Met single season homerun record in 1996 with 41 and Mike Piazza was the only other Met who knocked 40 homers when he did it in 1999.

    The Mets sit seven games out of first place and three games off the wildcard lead. While some people think tomorrow's game is only gravy since they have clinched the series, this game means a lot. Taking the series from the Yankees at Yankee Stadium while sweeping them would be a tremendous morale boost. Sure these are not your gran pappi's Yankees, but the Mets have been kicked around by them physically and figuratively for too long. Taking the season series is big for them. Cliffy, how would you feel about the Mets first sweep of the Yankees at Yankee Stadium?

    "It would be awesome," Floyd said.

    Thanks. Thanks a lot for the commentary. This is the first time the Mets clinched a series at Yankee Stadium in the history if interleague play and the Mets are on the verge of taking their second season series in a row. Not only that, but they are simply playing good ball. They are playing sound baseball right now and executing as a team. The Mets are playing like the Yankees have played all these years while the Yankees are looking like the Mets for a change. Today's game against the Big Unit could be a catalyst for the previously listless Mets and it is a must win game.

    * * *

  • I went down to Citizen's Bank Park to see Boston help the Mets out and beat the Phillies heads in and the Phillies new park was a gorgeous place to do it. Like Camden Yards and Coors Field, they feature a concourse running across the outfield with food stands, great views of the game, and things to see and do for the fans. If the Mets want to do things right, they need to copy these jewels and do the same thing. They need to put their new field below street level so when you walk in, you are looking down at the field and they must scrap this Olympic Stadium augmentation plan in order to create that concourse in the outfield. If they have to configure a ballpark that can be fitted with 80,000 extra seats, and outfield concourse would seemingly be impossible. Also, they need to actually put some good food places in. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why Shea has not been more creative. In Citizen's Bank Park, Ashburn Alley has plenty of places to get heartburn at and Geno's Steaks is one of them. How hard would it be for the Mets to throw in a place that puts cheese wiz, onions, and steak on a role? Not hard, but I'd like to see some effort put forth like that and adding BBQ place would be nice as well as BBQ stands are quickly becoming staples of every baseball stadium. When I go to these new stadiums and see what a great place they are to see ballgames, I would hate for the Mets to fall short of these in anyway.

  • Minor update:
    • The Norfolk and Columbus game was suspended due to rain in a 3-3 tie. After going 1 for 5 with a homerun in his AAA debut last game, Hernandez went 1 for 3 in his second game before it was cut short by rain.
    • The B-Mets lost to Erie 13-7. Aarom Baldiris went 2 for 5 with a double and two RBIs while Chase Lambin continues to show power as he knocked his twelfth homer in a 2 for 4 night.
    • St. Lucie beat Dayton 8-7. Corey Ragsdale was the star of the night going 3 for 5 with two runs scored and five RBIs. Lastings Milledge knocked his fourth homerun of the year and went 2 for 5 with one run scored, a double, and two RBIs. Brett Harper knocked in the other run and went 4 for 5 with four singles. Shawn Bowman had a forgettable night and went 0 for 5 with four strikeouts.
    • Hagerstown beat Lexington 9-4 to take the first half title. Gaby was not his best and got touched up for four earned runs in one innings, but notched the victory anyway. In five innings, he gave up six hits, four earned runs, two walks, and struck out six. His record is 6-1 and his ERA is 2.61. On the offensive end, Carlos Gomez went 2 for 5 with one run scored while Grant Psomas went 2 for 2 with two runs scored, one homer, and three RBIs. Grant has fifteen homers and forty RBIs on the season.
    • Brooklyn beat Aberdeen 4-2. Jonathan Malo went deep for his first homer on the year and Drew Butera got his first pro hit and it was a homerun. Butera also knocked in three RBIs.
    • The Kingsport Mets lost to Bristol 4-2.
  • Ryan Zimmerman was promoted to AA Harrisburg by the Washington Nationals and went 3 for 4 with two runs scored and a double. Give the kid a bat and he can hit anywhere.

  • After I went to Philly, I stopped in a bar back home to catch some of the Mets and Yankees game. There was a Yankee fan telling everyone how the Yankees turned down a deal for Cameron in which the Mets requested Cano and Wang. Can I ask where these people get their information? Not only was it not true and the Mets are the ones not interested in a deal at this time, but he said giving those two up for Cammy was too much. That of course, was before Bernie made another snafu in the outfield and let a ball go under his glove to compound with him forgetting how many outs there were earlier in the game and missing a Jose Reyes fly ball. The Yankees will be getting desperate for a centerfielder and will be pushing for it soon.

  • "They're still champions in my mind. They'll be fine," said first-year Mets manager Willie Randolph, a longtime coach with the Yankees. "In a lot of ways in my heart, they're still my boys."

  • Tino has some common sense, but will Yankee fans exhibit any? My guess is no.

  • The first place Anaheim Angels will be looking for some pitching help now that Kelvim Escobar is lost for the season. Their best option right now for the rotation is Corey Lee from their AAA team, but the 30 year old minor league journey man is hardly the type of pitching they would like to add when their #2 starter goes down. The Mets may be able to assist the Angels in this department for sure.

  • Omar's best move this off season may of turned out to be not giving up Floyd for peanuts like he was rumored to have been looking for.