I was very critical of the Paul LoDuca trade when it first happened for two reasons. The first one was that I truly felt that Ramon Castro could have done a good job for the Mets if he was awarded the starting catcher's job and that would have also freed up much needed money for the starting rotation which I felt was going to be problematic. The second reason I was critical was that if you were not comfortable with Ramon Castro for 140+ games, then there were free agent options that might have been a bit more expensive, but did not cost talent from a Minor League system that was already running thin. It is still debatable which road was best for the Mets and I still believe he might not be the best fit for the second spot in the batting order, however, it is hard not have this guy grow on you.
He turns into a bad case of the herpes that you just cannot shake as the season rolls along. You see the term intangibles attached to Paul LoDuca a lot and he might not be the best catcher or the best hitting catcher, but the guy brings a lot to the table. At this level, everyone is a world-class athlete and highly competitive. It is safe to say no one wants to lose, but it just seems like some people want to win more. We saw LoDuca stand up for Lima Time! in his first start this season for the Mets against John Smoltz and the Braves. LoDuca boiled over after some comments by Angel Hernandez to Lima Time!, some missed strike calls, and a missed call on a play at home. Knowing it was Smoltz on the mound and that every pitch would count, Paul stuck up for his team and his pitcher.
Last night after giving up four runs, Duaner Sanchez hit Brady Clark. Clark was none too happy and neither was the umpire Tim Tschida. Sanchez promptly got throw out after putting the go ahead run on first base in the eighth inning with Derrick Turnbow looming.
"I never hit nobody on purpose because somebody hit a home run in my life," Sanchez said.
I do not respect pitchers that intentionally hit a guy because they got beat. There is no bigger sign of a lack of heart and a lack respect for the team you are playing. That being said, I do respect a pitcher who is not afraid of taking the inside part of the plate back. You just got beat a few times and if someone is crowding the plate, you need to do what you can to be effective. There are too many times this year when a batter will almost get beaned on a pitch up and over the plate. A pitch that would be called a strike if it is thrown lower would actually hit a player if thrown up in the zone because too many players are taking liberties crowding the plate.
According to Billy Wagner, Clark invades the plate so much that "if you throw a strike, you hit him in the cup."
The catcher is always in the fray when there are arguments at home plate and they are always protecting the pitcher from irate batters. LoDuca took it a step further and smacked the game winning homer in the top of the ninth to get Duaner of the hook and saved his pitcher in the biggest way possible. Paul LoDuca is a gamer. As much as I hate the term intangibles, he has them.
"It's one of those games you don't want to lose," Lo Duca said of the homer. "Now we've got a chance to win the series with Pedro [Martinez] on the mound [today]."
I like players who think games in May are must win games. If the Mets lost the game last night, they are only one game in first with Lima Time! and Jeremi Gonzalez due to get at least another start each. LoDuca plays the game the way it is supposed to be played and I can see why Dodger fans were up in arms when he was traded. I can see why a guy who might not have been a leader statistically for the Dodgers or the Marlins was a integral part of the team. He reminds me of David Bell a lot in the fact that they are guys who are great teammates that might not be the best player on the team, but they can be counted on in the clutch when the team needs it the most.
LoDuca has the type of character that you need from a guy on a championship team to keep everyone fired up. Omar not only brought in talent over the past two off seasons, but he brought in personalities. He put together a team that plays the game the way it should be played. He brought in players that act the way that players should act. He valued what was behind the skills as much as the skills themselves and if the Mets make it as far as we think they can go, character might have played the biggest part. There have been talented teams that did not live up to expectations before, but this team has that x-factor. This team has an air of confidence that you see in champion ship teams and Paul LoDuca embodies that.
Minaya isn't about to wait until next year. He will do everything he can to deal for a big-game pitcher between now and the trade deadline, and you can take that to Fred Wilpon's bank.
"If there's going to be pitchers available in the market," Minaya said yesterday, "we're definitely going to be in there."
He is going to do what he can while keeping an eye long term success of this Met franchise.
"You can't get caught up in doing something now that's going to have a negative effect on your team the next couple of years," Minaya said. "It's a fine line, but we're going to work it and push it."
Reliever Bartolome Fortunato (elbow) was placed on the 60-day disabled list and will undergo Tommy John surgery Thursday.
Barry Federovitch has a nice article on the Kazmir debacle for those of you masochists out there.
I'll go 0-for-4, pop out twice and ground out a couple of times, and she'll tell me, 'At least you hit the ball.' She has the ability to find the positive in everything."
In case you were wondering, Pedro's mom likes chickens, cows, and horses.
I'm Mike Pelfrey, he tells himself, a psych game he's been playing for years; it's a little something he does before taking the mound to remind himself of who he is, and more importantly, what he is.
Phil Humber has that quality too.
"I feel like I've got the best curveball in the country. I haven't seen a better one."
You cannot succeed in this league if you do not believe you belong and these two believe they belong.
I know this willnot be a popular rant, but reading between the lines, I think this is what may happen:
I think Heilman gets traded for a starter. He wants to start and Omar and Willie don't want to start him. In reading Omar's comments since VZ went down, it's pretty obvious he wants another top of the rotation guy; and in the next nreath, he says he refuses to give up Pelfry or Milledge. So, how does he expect to get a top of the line guy without giving up one or both of those guys (I hope he is true to his word here - NOBODY outside of Pujols is worth either right now)? I think a package of Heilman, Diaz and maybe another prospect or a Keppinger type may get us a Willis or possibly a Zito.
Minus Pelfry and/or Milledge, I see nobody else that has that kind of value outside of Heilman. It makes a lot of sense to me to move him for a quality starter, and here's why. If we move him into the rotation as many here have suggested, we replace him in the pen with who, Julio. Trading him does basically the same thing. Now the question becomes; would we rather have Heilman or Xillis/Zito starting game 3 in the post season? I think the answer is pretty obvious.
Can we get a guy like Piniero or somebody like that for less than Heilman? That is another road to explore. I would rather go with what we got until the deadline and save everything we have for Zito or Milledge.
Okay, I'm done.
Basically he is saying if Heilman could be centerpiece while keeping Milledge, the Mets stand a chance to pick up a front line starter. He really puts it in perspective by putting it out there on who would you rather have, Zito, Willis, or Heilman starting in the #3 slot. Yes, it would take more, but Heilman is a big starting point to a deal and is proven in the pen and could be a closer right now. I do not think the Mets would go down this road, but he does have a point. If the Mets ever are going to consider using him as a starter and do not implicitly trust him, then it might warrant a look to see what he can get on the market. Always keep your door open to any deal and send out some feelers, what is the worst that can happen?