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

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Pauly Ballgame

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 vows to be in the mix for pitching help.

    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."

  • Floyd sat against the lefty yesterday and I'm going to guess we will see Willie work some guess into the mix until Floyd starts producing again.

  • The Kazmir trade is officially has not one iota of redeeming value to this club.

    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.

  • The Daily News has a nice little mother's day piece today. I think the one quote from David Wright embodies everyone's mother and reminds me of what my mom used to say to me when she would come and watch me play whatever sport I was playing.

    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.

  • You have to like when young guys show confidence.

    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.

  • Carlos Beltran went deep again last night for his ninth homerun of the year. He is second on the team in long balls and has looked like a completely different player this season. He leads the team in AB/HR with 10 and just edges out Carlos Delgado's 10.54. In case you were wondering, David Wright is fifth behind Beltran (10), Delgado (10.54), Xavier Nady (15.76), and Julio Franco (20) with 27.2.

  • You have to give credit to Jeremi Gonzalez for the job he did yesterday and the job Jose Valentin did last night. Both came up big for the Mets.

  • John had an interesting take Heilman situation in the comment section last night.

    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?


    Anonymous jake said...

    i think the mets view heilman as a good starter more valuable as a proven reliever. so they would only trade him if they get a more valuable starter than they think he is, so i don't think they'll trade him unless they get a stud back. if they get a real stud, that's fine with me, but it bettter not be a slumping stud.

    12:41 PM

    Anonymous DG said...

    Maybe, Heilman gets dealt at the trading deadline, but I tend to doubt it. They control this guy a couple more years and can basically put him where they want to. Jake, you are right to say that they would only trade him for a starter who was stronger. Logic still says that in an extended DL of another pitcher (re: Trachsell or worse), they finally will have to go with Heilman in the rotation. But the short term kind of situation they are dealing with right now just isn't worth it. I don't think there's big potential of a failed starting experiment ruining AH's value, so you cannot argue that that would be an impediment. I just think the Mets think he is way too valuable in his present role to mess with success. They are more content using a starter who gives them 3/4 the results (of Heilman in the rotation) in the belief that more games turned to the pen will end up in the win column if the team's offense is given the time to respond. That works to a point: someone like Lima, who really should not be given another chance, just doesn't guarantee a solid enough performance.

    2:10 PM

    Blogger mr. met said...

    Well, I agree they view him as a proven reliever and a just a decent starter, that's why he is where he is. However, this team has lost a lot of ground quickly due to their rotation. If the Mets miss the playoffs because of the rotation, it would have been silly to not even try him as a starter.

    What John did say though was to use Heilman in an effort to get one of the big guys and not use him for Hernandez. So, to what Jake said, yes they won't trade him unless they get a stud. A guy that can be a cheap closer for a bit has a lot of value.

    They are more content using a starter who gives them 3/4 the results

    3/4 could be generous with some of these guys too when you talk about a consitant basis.

    3:26 PM

    Anonymous John said...


    I am not a proponent of moving Heilman. I likr the id, and think he would be a great #4 next year (Pedro, Glavine, Zito, Heilman, Pelfrey...). However, I cannot see Omar sitting still much longer. I like Zito, but I don't think he will be moved, as Billy Beane has a long track record of letting his guys walk (Giambi, Damon, Tejada, etc.) Plus, why give up the farm for a guy I believe you have a better than 50% chance of getting for a draft pick in the offseason. Willis is the guy we should go after. I agree with DG that having Heilman locked up for a while is a good thing, but I beileve Willis is also under Florida's control for another 3-4 years. Can you imagine if we trade for him and then sign Zito in the offseason? 2007 would be Pedro, Glavine, Zito, Willis and Pelfrey - plus Humber in the wings for '08. Damn.

    7:22 PM

    Anonymous Benny Bizzle from da Bron-fizzle said...

    In case you were wondering, Pedro's mom likes chickens, cows, and horses.

    What a cowinky-dinky, my mom and grandma love chickens, cows, horses, and donkeys too!

    The reason I don't think Omar trades Heilman is because he's still basically free, and he's still versatile.
    Even though they don't want to, he can start. And he is a dominant reliever.
    Guys like that help the ballclub by alot and again... he IS cheap.

    And yo... how about that Evan McLane, what the fuck is going on with him? He struck out 11!!!! It's BANANAS!

    10:48 PM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...


    That's all I can say. I'm actually up here in Milwaukee and I saw all the pink bats up close.

    Too many damn runners left on base. Man...ya just cant do that. Hall di dick all came. Even the hot Milwakuee chick who sat next to me said he handt done anything all game. WHORE!! SHUT UP!! For every HR Delgado gives us, we gotta take an error, so I cant kill him. Valentin...um, that wasnt so bad.

    Brewers will not go away. If Sheets get well and becomes the Sheets he's suppose to be, they'll make a run.

    This was Nokes, btw.

    I'm not too keen on this new 'sign in' thing, Mike.

    11:57 PM

    Blogger Condor Schmitt said...

    So Mikey boy lets list the hits and misss for you so far on the season

    you said correct answer is

    Lo Duca bad trade good trade
    H. Bell bring up leave down
    Valentine done supersub
    have big dick yup now doubtful
    globalwarming nope hmmmmm???
    A-Rod Dick Dick
    Cliffy Done ?????

    12:08 AM

    Blogger Condor Schmitt said...

    YEah the sign in thing is bogus- shizizzle.

    Heilman would hve to go with Milledge to get D-Train. Not bad though if we could get him for that.

    How about Milledge, Heilman, Diaz and Banister for D-Train and Cabrera. No problem giving up Milledge if we get Cabrera in LF.

    12:15 AM

    Anonymous Boris the talking dog (DG) said...

    Agree, Cabrera is the only possibly available player that I'd send Milledge for.

    5:39 AM

    Blogger Toasty Joe said...

    Am I the only one who cringes whenever a routine ground ball is hit to D. Wright in the 7th inning or later?

    3:23 PM

    Blogger ajsmith said...

    Umm, fellas, the fact that Heilman is cheap and under club control for a couple more years is exactly WHY he's a valuable trading chip. Otherwise, it would be a pipe dream to talk about him, Diaz and a B+ prospect for a stud starter.

    Keep in mind that most teams not playing in Queens attach more value to good starters than to good relievers. Is Heilman a good starter? We don't know, really (though better than about 75% of what we've been trotting out there these past weeks, for sure.)

    I agree... given Omar's reluctance (thank goodness) to part with guys like Lastings and Pelfrey, Heilman makes the most sense as a centerpiece in a trade.

    10:34 PM

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