On Pace: Batters
The season is young and the hot players will cool down and regress towards the mean and some struggling players might improve and move towards the mean, but it's fun to take a look at the numbers anyway and see what some Mets players are on pace for. The Mets started off on fire and started the season 8-1 but have cooled down a bit to go 4-6 in their next ten games to settle in with a 12-7 record and are only three games in front of the Braves despite their uber hot start. The Mets current winning percentage is .632 and if they play that way the rest of the season, they will finish 102-60. If they play one game over .500 for the rest of the way, they would finish 84-78. If they play .400 ball like they have the last ten games, they would finish 69-93.
Of course we knew the Mets would not keep the pace they set to start the season especially with questions in the staff, but no one quite expected them to cool off this quickly. Beltran is still down and will be reevaluated on Friday according to Gary Cohen. That's right, Friday. He was first hurt on April 16th and will be reevaluated twelve days later. That does not mean he will play mind you, just that they will talk about it and he might even go to the DL. I like playing it safe, but again, with the history of this team and handling injuries and evaluating injuries, you have to wonder if someone dropped the ball here or is Beltran not being blunt enough. The Mets have been 4-5 since he went down and Beltran started and played half a game and pinch hit once since then. That just pushed the time up that they can retro him to and that is where the larger errors come into play with this issue.
Off to the meat of the post...
Reyes is on pace for 34 doubles, 17 triples, 9 homers, 68 RBIs, 51 stolen bases, 153 hits, and 42 walks. Of course he is not going to hit .225/.271/.363 for the entire year and has looked like he has a better eye, but he has quickly regressed into some bad habits. Reyes is still young, but at some point, he needs to produce. Delgado has not had many RBI chances the last few games and that simply cannot go on if this team wants to put runs up on the board.
Where would the Mets be without Delgado and with Nady at first and Diaz in right? I'll tell you, second place or third place. Delgado is on pace for 68 homers, 153 RBIs, 17 doubles, 136 runs scored, 170 strikeouts, and 68 walks. Of course I don't expect him to set career highs in RBIs, homers, and strikeouts, but the guy is going to put up MVP-like numbers. Omar had it right going after him last off season and finishing off what he set out to do last off season. This guy has been huge for the Mets and could set a Met record for homers in a month in April.
Nady has put a lot of people in their place for criticizing the Cameron deal and he has been probably the biggest surprise of 2006 so far. He hit 13 homeruns last season and his on pace for 43 this season with 51 doubles. Not much you can say about that but fucking swell. Really, he will not be pushing 100 XBHs by seasons end, but one thing that is clearly apparent is that Nady has pop. His homeruns have not been clearing the walls by a little bit, but have been clearing them by a whole lot. He has more power than most of us thought and though people were expecting him to hit about 20 homers, 28 or 30 does not look so off at this point.
Now to the golden boy. The MVP articles have slowed down a bit since he has hit a bit of a funk, but Wright has still been productive. He has been walking a bit more since his slump and is still getting some hits along the way. He is on pace for 43 doubles, 17 triples, 26 homers, 119 RBIs, 43 stolen bases, 60 walks, 60 strikeouts, 188 hits, and 111 runs scored. I think his season will pretty much end up that way too with the exception of triples and stolen bases. I still expect him to be in the top three for MVP voting and still light the league on fire.
We all know how much I was against bringing LoDuca here and nineteen games into the season, he has grown on me. That being said, he shouldn't be batting second when Beltran comes back. I like him and he started off doing the things you want a number two hitter to do, but he is on pace for 26 walks and eleven stolen bases. With Reyes' struggles in getting on base and LoDuca not exactly being an OBP monster and not being able to hit like he was the first week for the entire season, something has to give. If people want to see Delgado drive in runs in bunches, he needs people on base. LoDuca is a good catcher, but he can still be a good catcher batting seventh. That way Nady can get bumped up one permanently and Beltran can bat second. That still makes sense to me.
Beltran has been sitting for a while and is due to sit the entire Giants series so I am going to ignore what he is on pace for. As of now, he is on pace to play in 102 games and we know he will play in more. Beltran has look worlds better this year and that is partially why everyone is being so patient to avoid a repeat performance of last year, but everyday he is out of the lineup it looks like a mishandled situation because the Mets are struggling. Guys that get hurt should not go on the DL twelve days after the injury.
Tomorrow, the pitchers.
First, I'll start with the pertinent information.
Q: Jim from New York asks:
What should Met fans make of Carlos Gomez? The Mets are hyping him as having better tools than Milledge, but he seems to struggle at the plate. What's the deal?
A: Matt Meyers: Some people in the org say he has better raw tools than Milledge, which means they could be better, but aren't yet. At this moment, he is faster and has a better arm than Milledge. In fact, his arm and speed might both be legitimate 70 tools (on the 20-80 scale). But the most important tool, hitting, he lags behind Lastings. The organization certainly believes in him and this spring they felt they finally saw him truly responding to instruction and applying it quickly. As a result, they decided to have him skip high A. So far, he has been OK when you consider he skipped a level. He has a ton of upside, but has a ways to go. Guys like him often fail badly (see Escobar, Alex), but can be spectacular (see Guerrero, Vlad).
He is 19 and at AA. It was pretty much expected for him to struggle but he still has plenty of time and with the Mets outfield set for while, there is not reason to rush the kid.
Q: Eric Cuomo from ct asks:
wouldnt you agree Milledge is now ready for the majors? With floyd needing more oscal as the day goes by and diaz not all that great of a hitter, i think milledge would be perfect in the mets lineup right now. not to mention his great OBP
A: Matt Meyers: Settle down Mets fans! Milledge is off to a fantastic start, and his improvement in plate discipline to this point is very impressive. If that is for real, he might turn out to be better than I initially thought, which is very, very good.
Matt Meyers: At the same time, there is no need to rush. The Mets are 11-4, and even though Floyd and Beltran are dinged up, the team is in great shape. The Mets rushed Jose Reyes in 2003 because the team needed an injection of life. As a result, I think they retarded his growth and I worry that he will not reach his potential because he did not get the chance to work on his pitch recognition and plate discipline in a low pressure environment. Let the improvements Milledge is making sink in, and give him some time at Norfolk. He is not going to hit .400 all season, so he needs to go through a slump and work through that. Yes, he could hold his own in the big leagues now, but better off letting him take his time in hopes of him reaching his full potential.
Taking a wait and see approach on Lastings discipline is the best way to go because it has been so much better than last season seems like the prudent thing to do. From Adam Rubin by way of Always Amazin'...
“More impressive is he did it a lot with two strikes,” Tijerina said. “He can fall behind in the count and showed a lot of patience, worked a lot of counts from two strikes to a walk. He’s been very impressive.”
If his new found eye is for real, as Matt Meyes said, "he might turn out to be better than I initially thought, which is very, very good". Really awesome stuff. That being said, it is shame that Reyes was rushed but what is done and done and the Mets hopefully learned. If he needs to come up for a two week stint, I hardly think that it will impact him, but letting him play out the year unless disater strikes for the big club should absolutely be the plan. Good to hear Meyers thinks he can hold his own in the league if he was in it right now too.
Now, for some good 'ole Yankee vs. Mets stuff....
Q: Paul from NJ asks:
You have to admit that Phillip Hughes is probably the best pitching prospect in High A.
A: Matt Meyers: No, I don't have to admit it. He is certainly in the discussion, but I think Cole Hamels, Homer Bailey and Mike Pelfrey would have something to say about it. Hughes is a great prospect, and he might certainly be the best, but I don't think it is so clear cut. In fact, when we did our Top 100, Pelfrey was No. 36, Bailey was No. 38 and Hughes was No. 39. So clearly they are close.
Settle down Paul. I'll settle it though, Pelfrey is better. Hughes is younger, but Pelfrey is better and always will be anyway.
Mets 1 - Yankees 0
Q: Jim from Texas asks:
Jose Tabata is unbelievable. How does a 17 year old hit .327 and lead the league in doubles?
A: Matt Meyers: Tabata's line of .321-.327-.434 is certainly impressive, but you have to be a little concerned about his 15-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He is only 17, so there is plenty of time to work on that, but it is something he needs to work on. What is even crazier, is that he has not even been the best 17-year-old player in the SAL, the Mets Fernando Martinez is hitting .333-.407-.569 with six walks and five strikeouts in two fewer at-bats then Tabata. Both are special talents, and it will be interesting to see how they compare up the minor league ladder. Particularly since they are both New York prospects.
Tabata could give Fernando six of his strikeouts and Fernando would still look great. Both are very good prospects but in terms of being refined, F-Mart has a leg up on Tabata.
Mets 2 - Yankees 0
Glavine wanted to continue to pitch to Bonds. "Willie told me to put him on," said Glavine, who seemed displeased with the strike zone. "I tried to throw a fastball in (to Alou) and didn't get it in."
Why am I not surprised it was Willie's idea? Everyone else does it, so I should too? As for Alou, that guy must stand on top of the plate more than any other player. After Glavine got two in on him and he jumped back though they were over the plate, you knew what Glavine was coming back with to get him out. Alou did too and destroyed the ball. Alou is no slouch and has hit better than Bonds when he has swung the bat, so the decisions were curious. Glavine is a smart pitcher. If anyone can figure out a good way to pitch to Bonds it is him. Have some faith and pitch to Barry. Make him beat you do not beat yourself.
The 2004 first-round pick Philip Humber retired all five batters he faced in an intrasquad game in Port St. Lucie yesterday in his first game setting since Tommy John elbow surgery last July 19. Humber expects to pitch two innings Saturday and three innings May 3 in an intrasquad setting, then could be cleared to pitch in an extended spring training game. "It's nice to pitch to hitters and have defense behind you," Humber said. "My arm has been 100% for a month or a month and a half."
Unlike Kazmir, who's learning how to change speeds and pitch to both sides of the plate -- even if it did get him into trouble with the Red Sox recently -- Zambrano seems as clueless as ever. Even more mystifying is Willie Randolph's blind allegiance to a pitcher he inherited from the Jim Duquette-Art Howe regime.
Why the usually discerning Randolph is still soft on Zambrano is anyone's guess, unless he's trying to absorb the slings and arrows for the front office. But it wasn't on general manager Omar Minaya's watch that Kazmir and Zambrano traded places, and it's hard to believe Randolph would keep making the same mistake every five days just so Rick Peterson, his new-age pitching coach, can make good on a promise to fix Zambrano in 10 minutes.
I do not even blame Peterson for anything. You look at the guy and the movement he has on his pitches, a pitching coach cannot teach that. They look at his arm and thought he had considerable upside. However, none of their scouting could include his capacity to learn and use the advice he is given. Zambrano is a disaster fifth starter or not.
Maybe it's the four multi-hit games over his last eight, maybe it's the five extra-base hits, maybe it's the nine walks, but Milledge is proving himself after just a half-season in Double-A.
Ambiorix gets some love too as he earns a special mention.
Ambiorix Concepcion, of, Mets (High Class A St. Lucie): Seven doubles last week