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

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

S.U.C.K. M.E.

Perhaps nothing encapsulates the frustration we all feel more than the acronym S.U.C.K. M.E. This infuriating phenomenon has plagued the Mets for years and Toasted Joe captured the essence of it with his acronym that stands for ‘Shaky Unknown Chuckers Kill the Mets Everytime’. It's sad, but true. What is even more scary was his prediction.

Michael O'Connor? I'm predicting 7 innings of 2-hit ball for him. If we take this one, we'll have to take it from the Nats' pen. Fortunately, we've faced Gary Majewski about 15 times this season, so I think we've got him all figured out.

I want to laugh, but I'm too busy crying. In case you missed the game or did not look at the box score, that is exactly what O'Connor did. It is tough to complain about coming away with a split in a two game series that had Victor Zambrano and a rookie starting even if it was the lowly Nationals who do not have much of anything going on. However, today the Mets face a guy that they have only seen before once for one inning in 2005. If it was not for Pedro toeing the rubber tonight, I would be worried because in situations like this, the Mets can suck with the best of them.

Now on to some thoughts from last night's game.

John Maine's repertoire did not remind me much of Brian Bannister, but he was pretty similar to Bannister last night in terms of velocity and location. Both young guys try to work both sides of the plate but ultimately nibble too much to drive their pitch count too high. However, even though John Maine's fastball had a bit more life and more velocity than Bannister's when he pumped it up there, he did look more hittable than Brian does.

What is really strange is that John Maine resembles the guy he was traded for a lot. Not only is he the same height as Benson, he throws predominantly fastballs with sliders being the second most relied on pitch as does Benson. Then the both work in changeups about 10% to 15% of the time followed by the curveball which is only used as a 'show me' pitch. Maine described his curve as that in a BA article and that basically means that he throws it to keep it in the hitter's mind more than anything. Letting them know it is out there to try and keep them guessing. He'll drop it in every once in a while to try and sneak one by them or to set up another pitch, but it is not his 'go to' pitch.

As bad as his line was, it was not as if he did not show anything. He did. His slider was very good and the way he changes speed on his fastball is very encouraging, but like Bannister, throwing strikes is the key. Maine's fastball ranges from 87 to 92 and he likes to predominantly keep it about 89 and dial it up to 92 when he needs to put that little extra on to put a batter away. Maine's line does not look pretty as he gave up four runs in 5.1 innings, but the Nationals were a good team to start against as his next start is going to be a bit tougher and I think at the very least, he deserves another shot this weekend. It looks like he has a chance to be a nice back end guy that can give you six innings a start with about a 4.00 ERA. His first start was not a success, but by no means was it a failure.

As for someone who just looked flat out nasty, Jorge Julio was an animal last night. He was setting up his pitches and executing them. A few pitches looked like he had no idea were they are going, but his slider is as unhittable as any when it is on and even when he hits the mitt at 82, it sounds like his pitches are moving a lot faster. It will take a lot more for him to be trusted, but you have to feel good about what he has been showing of late.

Kaz is not only looking like a second baseman these days, but a good second baseman. He made another sparkling play up the middle to save a hit. He caught a ground ball behind second base and had enough arm strength to throw out the runner while his momentum was carrying him in the opposite direction. Anderson Hernandez looks like he lost his spot unless Kaz completely falls apart and really, is Anderson Hernandez working on hitting at AAA the worst thing?

* * *

  • CBS Sportsline has their power rankings out, and the Mets are number two.

    They have built the biggest NL East lead through April since baseball went to the six divisions. They have the right mix all around that can run away and hide in their division, even if this overall ranking is a little optimistic.

    Screw you with the back-handed compliment, but I'm still a sucker for a compliment so I'll take it.

    Save for Mike Myers' failure to get the out he's paid to get, it doesn't surprise us their pitching looks much improved with Mel Stottlemyre gone. He wasn't just a scapegoat, he was the root of their problems.

    Ha, ha. It's funny because it's true.....but most of us Met fans knew that anyway. Now all they have to do is realize that Joe Torre cannot manage and they might be able to throw a coaching staff out there that can actually coach.

  • From the comments section last night...

    ....i suppose this has been discussed before, but what is up with those butt-ugly batting helmets the Mets are wearing?

    You ask? We answer....or pass on the answer.

    Let's say you're an official Major League Baseball equipment licensee. But due to the complexities of MLB's licensing arrangements, you're not allowed to put your logo on the gear the players are wearing. What a gyp, right? What's the point of being associated with MLB if you can't put your brand's graphic stamp on the game? Is there anything you can do?

    Unfortunately for the rest of us, there is. And that story line is now playing out in at least two places during spring training.

    Let's start with the batting helmets. As you may recall, a new helmet design, featuring side vents and reptilian-looking molded crown, was unveiled during last year's All-Star Game. At the time, a Rawlings marketing manager gave Uni Watch a simple reason for the new design: "MLB doesn't allow outside logos on headwear, so this gives us the opportunity to kinda put our mark on the helmet without actually using the Rawlings logo."

    The new helmet model, called the CoolFlo, wasn't seen again last year. But all MLB teams were given the option to wear it this season, and 11 clubs have chosen to be early adopters. Seven of those teams are already wearing the CoolFlo in spring training: the Cubs, Angels, Diamondbacks, Devil Rays, Orioles, Dodgers and Mets. The other four CoolFlo teams -- the Twins, A's, Braves and Padres -- are wearing regular helmets for now but will switch to the new model when the regular season starts.

  • From BA's new Daily Dish...

    Pelfrey already in Double-A, Soler Next?

    The clock is ticking on Alay Soler in the Florida State League. The Cuban defector was dynamite yet again last night in high Class A St. Lucie's 1-0 win against Brevard County, allowing just one hit and no walks while striking out seven in seven brilliant innings. The 26-year-old righthander improved to 2-0, 0.64 with 32 strikeouts, eight walks and a .128 opponents' batting average in 28 innings this year. His command has been impeccable since he walked six batters in 10 innings over his first two starts of the season.

    Because of his age and background, Soler doesn't figure to be long for the FSL. The Mets signed him to a three-year, $2.8 million contract in September 2004, and he pitched at the Mets' Dominican complex in 2005. A star on the Cuban national team that won the 2002 World University Games, Soler seems to have the makeup to handle the pressure of New York, and his stuff (91-94 mph fastball and low-80s slider with exceptional depth) could put him on the fast track to pitch in the majors later this summer.

    The question is, how can he not be on a plane to AA already if not AAA. He just needed to get back in the swing of things but judging by his age and experience, AAA seems more fitting.

  • Omar lays it down...

    "There are no geniuses in baseball," Minaya said. "Some deals work, some don't. You just keep trying to make moves to improve the club."

  • Duaner has truly earned the nickname "Dirty" Sanchez.

    "You can't say more," catcher Paul Lo Duca said. "Sanchy, you can talk about a lot of guys on this team, but to me, he's our MVP. He's been unbelievable."

    I usually do not think any set up men should really go to the All-Star game except in rare cases. While it is early to be talking about that stuff, Sanchez has earned a spot so far.

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