Is that another win in your pocket or are you happy to see me?
Another day, and a another Met win. Not for nothing though, the Mets have indeed played some weak teams for sure. Weak more in terms of offense than anything else. They faced a guy who was an All-Star two years in a row in 2004 and 2005 in Livan Hernandez, a runner up for the 2005 Cy Young award in Dontrelle Willis, a guy who finished ninth in the NL for ERA in 2004 with 3.13 in John Patterson, and an eighteen game winner and a very tough lefty to hit in Chris Capuano. So in four out of the nine games they played this season, they faced top tier pitching and have done nothing but pound and win.
More impressive than anything about their offense is their thirteen total homeruns in nine games playing entirely in pitcher's parks. Their .310/.361/.524 line will not last, but their proficiency with runners in scoring position will continue. Their .284 /.351/.420 line with RISP is even more impressive when you stack it up against the competition's line of .189/.319/.297. As stated on the broadcast last night, the Mets have led in every single inning this season with the exception of two. Their only loss was a blown save and they have completely dominated their opponents.
They have outscored their opponents 57-30 and really do not have a tough opponent until the Yankee series starting on May 19th. Truly scary stuff if you are in their division hoping the Mets slow down. The pitching will not keep being this nasty and some of it may be a mirage, but Sanchez has been a revelation and vital pickup and Glavine, Pedro, and Traxx are going to give you what you expect them too. This team has been so impressive, that ESPN.com, who usually takes every opportunity to bash the Mets, has the Mets listed at #1 (thanks to David for pointing that out). When is the last time the Mets sat atop the power rankings? Never. I know it is early, but this team is solid.
Jim Callis tells us what we already know.
Best Teenage Prospect: Martinez (17) was the youngest player to open 2006 in a full-season league. In another move that underscored the Mets' intent to be a major player in Latin America, they landed Venezuelan right-hander Deolis Guerra (16) for $700,000. Lefty Jon Niese (19), a seventh-round pick last year, came from the same Defiance (Ohio) High program that produced blue-chip Dodgers pitching prospect Chad Billingsley.
Looks like the Mets have some live ones. All are far away, but good to see the Mets steal Niese in the seventh round and pick up some solid prospects with the financial muscle on the international front.
Prepare For Takeoff: Niese, who has received far less hype than Martinez or Guerra to this point. He was ticketed for the University of Cincinnati before Hall of Famer Gary Carter, the Mets' manager in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, called him with a sales pitch. Niese is a projectable lefty who already pitches in the low 90s and reaches 94 mph, and he has polish as well.
Throwing in the low 90’s at 19 years old means a few more MPHs is not out of the question as he grows into his frame. Be excited. Be very excited.
Time Is Running Out For: Outfielder Ambiorix Concepcion ranked as the top prospect in the short-season New York-Penn League in 2004 and right behind Milledge among New York's position players. Then it turned out he was 19 months older than originally believed, and he went out and hit .251 in low Class A. The Mets added him to the 40-man roster, and now he must justify their faith.
And justify their faith he is trying to do. Concepcion has been better this season but only time will tell if he can keep it up.
Year Top Pick
1992 Preston Wilson
1993 Kirk Presley
1994 Paul Wilson
1995 Ryan Jaroncyk
1996 Robert Stratton
1997 Geoff Goetz
1998 Jason Tyner
1999 Neal Musser
2000 Billy Traber
2001 Aaron Heilman
2002 Scott Kazmir
2003 Lastings Milledge
2004 Philip Humber
2005 Mike Pelfrey
What do you think of Mets right-hander Henry Owens? The New York papers were hyping him during spring training and his Double-A numbers (no hits, two walks, 14 strikeouts) are ridiculous so far, albeit in just six innings. Any chance we could see him in Shea Stadium this year?
Goggles, is that you?
Owens is one of the best stories in a Mets system that has been depleted by trades. He hit just .277-6-20 at NCAA Division II Barry (Fla.) as a senior catcher/DH in 2001. With his baseball career figuring to end there, he planned on attending medical school. But scouts liked his arm strength, and the Pirates' Delvy Santiago signed him as a non-drafted free agent with the intention of converting him to the mound.
Owens showed a mid-90s fastball and was able to simply blow heat by hitters in the low minors from the start, but coming up with an effective second pitch was more problematic. He was bothered by elbow tendonitis and back problems throughout 2004, after which the Mets grabbed him in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft.
It took Owens a couple of months to get fully healthy last year, but once he did, he had a 1.04 ERA and 41 strikeouts in his final 26 innings at high Class A St. Lucie. His fastball hit 100 mph when he pitched in the Puerto Rican Winter League, and his slider made some strides. It's still not a finished product, however, as evidenced by Owens' performance in big league camp this spring, when he had a 10.50 ERA and opponents strafed him for 12 hits in six innings.
The Mets are off to a good start, and Owens still has work to do on his slider, so a promotion isn't imminent. But if he continues to perform and the slider improves, New York is going to be tempted to give him a look later this year.
Patience my friends, patience. He is old for his league, but young in terms of pitching experience really negating all of that stuff.
“The main thing now,” he said, “is I’m really looking forward to playing baseball again.”
"I'm definitely not happy with the way I pitched," Heilman said. "Duaner picked me up. Hopefully I'll never have to return the favor."