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

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Head of the Class

A few months ago I would have agreed with you that the National League is the red headed stepchild of the Major Leagues. Now? Not so much. When the Red Sox had swept the Mets, they looked like the cream of the crop and possibly the best team in baseball. The June 30th Power Rankings on ESPN that had come out the next day at the White Sox, Tigers, Red Sox, and Yankees ahead of the Mets followed by four more American League teams.

Since then, Jeff Karstens, Sidney Ponson, Darrell Rasner, and Kris Wilson have made starts for the Yankees, the Tigers have slumped and are holding onto the slimmest of leads, the White Sox are 2nd in the Wild Card, and the AL East has not looked very tough at all while the Mets have kept on trucking. The Mets have a .5 game lead on the Yankees for the best record overall. Yankees fans will point the Yankees record as being more impressive since they do play in a tougher league, but that just might not be the entire truth.

While the league may still be tougher, the gap might not be as large as many think. Although the ESPN Power Rankings are my least favorite because of their seemingly biased view towards the Mets in the years, the AL and NL are split six to six in the top twelve with only two National League teams in the top eight. I do realize that does not bolster my cause that much since many people do not even read ESPN, but it does mean something.

My confidence in the Mets was shook when it came to them stacking up the American League, but not anymore. The Yankees offense is the best in the bigs, but the Angels showed everyone that unless you have pitching to go with that offense, it will not mean much. In fact, there is no team in the AL that should scare the Mets anymore now that the Twins are Francisco Liriano-less. Come playoff time, the Mets will trot out three guys that are used to the post season in Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, and Orlando Hernandez. The Mets will have a balanced offensive attack. The Mets will have a solid bullpen with every arm being a capable one. The Mets will have a have a solid bench. The Mets will have a solid manager.....well four out of five ain't bad.

Really though, this team is good. Good enough to stack up against anyone in the bigs despite what some people might say. The 2006 Mets are legit is fuck.

* * *

  • How sweet it is.....for Wilpon's pockets that is.

    When Josh Willingham's lazy fly ball dropped into Cliff Floyd's glove in leftfield Monday night, ending the Mets' 18-year division title drought, the ecstatic crowd of 46,729 at Shea Stadium fittingly set an all-time season attendance record. The team has sold 3,087,648 tickets at home this season.

    Fitting indeed. I'm not going to say Wilpon stepped up and spent money in 2006 because the Mets are right around where they usually are, but Fred has stepped it up in bringing in the right guy to do the job in Omar Minaya.

    Through Monday, the Mets have had eight sellouts at Shea and sold more than 50,000 tickets 11 times. Howard said the totals would have been greater if not for bad weather.

    "We had four rainouts," he said. "The advanced sales of each of those four games each was over 45,000. So we lost at least 200,000 tickets that we would have been able to count. ... To have rainouts with that type of advance is probably the only bad luck we've had from a ticket sales standpoint this year."

    In fact, the Yankees (52,344) and Mets (43,488) are first and third, respectively, in average home attendance this season. The Los Angeles Dodgers entered last night's game at Dodger Stadium in second at 46,351.

    "In 2000, it was the first time that the Mets and Yankees combined had gone over 6 million," Howard said. "This year it looks like we'll be over 7 1/2 [million] combined."

  • You cannot please everyone, but at least the MTA is looking at the grand picture here.

  • Reading into it....

    "Joe and I talk periodically," Randolph said, characterizing the conversation as "very natural. I said, 'Hey, I'll call you [with congratulations] in a couple of days.' "

    I still haven't decided yet what I think about the 'Joe and I talk periodically' statement, but it can mean one of two things.

    1) Joe won't return my calls.
    2) I don't talk to that honkey bastard.

  • Tommy has looked sharp lately and it was good to see the Mets and him pull out his 289th win.

    "It was nice for Tommy to get the victory after the way he pitched," Randolph said.

    Better yet, it added to the feeling that the Mets' few remaining worries heading into the postseason are falling away one by one.

    Had Glavine walked out and stunk last night, it wouldn't have been the end of the world - especially not in a start that he admittedly approached as more of a laboratory session to get his entire arsenal of pitches "squared away for the postseason" than he did a must win.

    He seems to have straightened it all out since his little numb finger problem has been resolved.

  • Pedro is playing a bit of cat and mouse.

    Pedro Martinez threw a bullpen session on Monday in preparation for his start tomorrow night and said he felt no ill effects from his start Friday in Pittsburgh. However for the first time, he sounded like he isn't sure what to expect from himself in the postseason.

    Asked about his goals for the remainder of the regular season, he responded "health and confidence." Martinez knows that his comeback from the right calf injury that kept him out for about a month is the biggest concern the Mets have right now.

    Oh, he'll be ready. Does anyone doubt that?

  • Ummm...that's not quite fair. Apparently there are those that think the Padres have a better staff....and it's not even close?

    While Pedro's health should terrify the Mets, Wells is OK?

    "He may be hobbling right now, but David Wells comes up big in October. No one wants to face him in a series."

    Sure thing...and people are excited to face Pedro?

    "And Woody Williams would be the Mets' No. 3 starter."

    Woody has been solid for the Padres, but let's face it. He is not scaring anyone and I'd take El Duque and John Maine over him.

    I will give them Chris Young and Jake Peavy being solid. Peavy has come back alive and Young has been good, though not quite as good as he was mid-season, but better than anything the Mets have?

    San Diego's golden bullpen remains the club's biggest weapon. "It's our backbone," says Young. The late-inning trio of Cla Meredith, Scott Linebrink and Trevor Hoffman is the best in baseball. "It's pretty much game over if they've got a lead going into the seventh or eighth," says an exec.

    I would say the Mets late inning quintuplet is no laughing matter either. Give me the Mets top to bottom over the Padres any day of the week.

  • Cliff has stolen the ball.

    It wasn't a Doug Mientkiewicz moment, but Floyd carried the ball off the field, stuck in his pocket and said, "[Billy] Wagner can have it he wants it, but he'll have to buy me a Rolex or something."

  • John Maine is getting some love from Neyer in his article about who has the better rookie starters between the NL and the AL.

    Another way to look at this: Strikeouts per nine innings and strikeout-to-walk ratio. With rare exceptions (Chien-Ming Wang, anybody?), a pitcher needs to strike out at least five batters per nine innings to have much of a chance. So let's up that to six per nine, and add a 2-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. We'll call it the 6-and-2 group.

    In the AL, there are five 6-and-2's: Liriano, Boof Bonser, Weaver, James Shields and Verlander (they're ranked in order of harmonic mean, for you stats geeks out there, and you know who you are).

    In the NL, there are eight 6-and-2's: Hamels, John Maine, Nolasco, Olsen, Cain, Taylor Buchholz, Rich Hill and Anthony Reyes. And Johnson and Chuck James just missed this list, as both have K/BB ratios a shade short of 2-1.

    If you do not have ESPN Insider, the NL won.

  • Who doesn't love this?

    "We're all rooting for you and we're behind you 100 percent, but you've got to get the big hit," was his message to A-Rod, Giambi told SI.

    "What do you mean?" was Rodriguez's response, Giambi told SI. "I've had five hits in Boston."

    "You [expletive] call those hits?" Giambi said, according to SI. "You had two [expletive] dinkers to right field and a ball that bounced over the third baseman! Look at how many pitches you missed!

    "When you hit three, four or five [in the order], you have to get the big hits, especially if they're going to walk Bobby [Abreu] and me. I'll help you out until you get going. I'll look to drive in runs when they pitch around me, go after that 3-and-1 pitch that might be a ball. But if they're going to walk Bobby and me, you're going to have to be the guy."

    Where is Stuart Smalley when you need him?

    "The tone I took to Alex is basically being honest with himself. And what I meant by that was, he had a tough series in Boston ... and I like to watch body language, he was making it appear like it was OK," Torre said.

    This guy is a class-A headcase.

  • From ESPN Insider:

    No Apple picking?
    Sep 17 - When Barry Zito strikes it rich on the free agent market next season, it reportedly won't be in New York.

    Multiple officials from both the Yankees and Mets told the New York Post that both clubs have no interest in signing the lefty ace this off-season.

    The Mets made a run at the Astros' Roy Oswalt at the trading deadline, but stayed away from Zito. And both clubs don't consider Zito a No. 1 starter.

    "Zito is no Oswalt," a Mets official told The Post.

    No, he is no Oswalt, but he still is one of the best.

    Blogger oSSyCoCoTaSo said...

    umm i'm not sold on the san diego penn. its good but not great. hoffman is automatic like benitez was for us.

    they can shut down a team with a lead and what not but how often can yousee that lineup going into the 8th with a lead against the mets? not much

    1:56 PM

    Blogger mr. met said...

    Well, we saw how much of a lock Hoffman was in the pen against the AL and he lost us homefield advantage. Good stuff.

    2:03 PM

    Blogger Toasty Joe said...

    Mike, figured you'd like this link about the NL MVP candidates.


    2:05 PM

    Anonymous DG's Three Ringed Circus said...

    I'll skip Zito if his price skies. I wrote pre-Peru that he's not worth more than Oswalt, and I still think the same. Only sense to me is if Zito replaced Glavine, but I'd love to see TG win his 300th pitching for us as opposed to the THawks. And OPie is clearly going to be in the Mets' rotation next year along (I hope) with John Maine and Steve Trachsel. Ha Ha, tried to scare you! Anyone wet their pants? That's John Maine and Bannister/Humber/Pelfrey/Blossom/Bubbles/Buttercup. Take Dave Williams and call me in the morning! Or trade him to K.C. Oh and sign Orlando Hernandez on as long reliever/spot strarter.

    So, it sounds like either the Mets made the Norfluck Tides an offer they could forget or the Tides management has gotten capitalist or something. It's weird to think of the Tides being another teams AAA franchise, even weirder thinking that Columbus might end up the Mets' new location. I'd almost take New Orleans over the ex-Yankee digs, but I thought the Mets wanted to play CLOSER to NY. The Mets got out-hussled by the Yanks and the Phillies here. They ought to make Nofolk an offer they cannot refuse. But, it's too late, basically cooked.

    A-Rod is a latter day Narcissus, too enamored with his reflection. I can picture him quoting his sperm count results for the last four years by heart.

    Playoff rotations are all speculative at the end of the day. A bad game is a bad game and only a certain percentage can step up and perform. While I'm not confident we'll see vintage Pedro, I think the Mets will come out fine. That said, I don't judge this season on whether the Mets win the series or not. This has been a great turn around.
    "Heh heh heh, You said" Woody Williams is a marginally better option than Steve Trachsel, who is our fourth pitcher! Anyone who thinks OHern would line up after WW in a playoff series is just wrong or guilty of faulty concentration, and I think the real villain here was a deadline and faulty memory.

    My NL prediction at the beginning of the season were the Mets/Cards/Pads, which is how the landscapes looking today at least. No idea who I picked for the wildcard. AL was Sox/Sox/A's.

    2:13 PM

    Blogger BookieD said...

    I'm getting a little tired of hearing about how Huge David Wells always comes up in the postseason. Isn't this the same "competitor", who couldn't make a scheduled start in Miami during the 2003 World Series because he was too out of shape?

    As far as bullpens go, the Mets' pen ERA is 3.10, good for 2nd in the Majors behind Minnesota (3.03). San Diego is 4th at 3.45. The totals for each team in hits, runs, earned runs and walks are very close notiwthstanding the fac that the Mets 'pen has pitched over 36 more innings (though I am not certain that more bullpen IP is necessarily a good thing). The point is, that I don't think you can use bullpen strength as an argument in favor of ANY team over the Mets.

    The only things to care about for the next two weeks (other than getting playoff tickets) are (i) Pedro's recovery, (ii) a few minor hitting issues--getting Beltran out of his mini-slump (he did double on Monday), Green out of his funk and getting D-Wright back on the HR track at Shea and (iii) rooting for Reyes, Delgado and Beltran to break various Met records. Oh yeah, and enjoying Ollie Perez's last 1-2 starts and getting excited about next year.

    2:25 PM

    Blogger Toasty Joe said...

    Bookie, it would also be nice if the entire team could learn how to hit lefties.

    2:35 PM

    Anonymous Bride of LoDuca said...

    Oh and if Paul LoDuca learned to juggle his post adolescent girlfriends a little better as well....

    2:38 PM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Zito is nothing spectacular, man. It's a good move if we avoid him altogether and go for Schmidt.

    2:43 PM

    Blogger mr. met said...

    Toasty, that was a nice article that put Howard's year in persepective. While very good, he's a lot of power while there are three guys more deserving. That's not to say he's not a top five candidate. He is, but Reyes is more of an MVP in my eyes.

    DG, I wet my pants. Humber may be a dark horse for next season and beat Pelfrey out. Zito is worth a lot of money and he'll get it. I guess you don't quite agree. The good thing is his price might not go sky high if no NYC team will be in the bidding. Also, I love Oliver Perez, but I do not really trust him yet. He should be a #5 heading into the season with whatever he does viewed as like a bonus. Give me two solid years from him and I'll trust him.

    Sucks about Norfolk, but like the Phillies are going to move Ottawa to PA after 2007, the Mets could eye moving their franchise close....really close. NJ close?

    Your predication is solid man...looks like you might have been right.

    Great point Bookied on Wells, but that article was anti-Mets. For the same reason you could depend on Wells, you couldn't depend on Pedro. Werid.

    The Mets will step up to hit the lefties. Worry not.

    Schmidt scares me, but I won't be crying if they nab him on a three year deal.

    3:05 PM

    Anonymous DG said...

    Disagree is strong, since I see your argument, but mine is simply that the price is out of line - or at least likely so - for the type of pitcher he is. Oswalt is a streak stopper and a major son of a bitch to face. Zito is good but far from a dominant pitcher. Oswalt just has more value in my book.

    Anyway, I would not be surprised to find out later that this was a merely academic exercise in any case. A trade may end up being the more likely fix. Same time, I cannot say for sure that the fix is necessarily a pitcher. Omar commented about needing more offense the day after clinching.

    Mets are clearly intrigued by OPie and yes, think of him as the Zambrano replacement/end of the rotation question mark. I have a good feeling on this one, however, especially given that he seems to be physically sound - more than we could ever say about VNBrains.

    5:32 PM

    Anonymous benny blanco from da bronx said...

    I don't get how this whole "better league/division" argument.
    The yankees play the D-Rays and the Orioles... like 20 times each.

    To me, it was never about Fred Wilpon NOT spending money. He spent money.
    It was just spending it on the wrong guy and paying SIMILAR prices for mediocre players.
    $8 million for Benson? Or $13 million for Pedro? I mean seriously...

    THe Padres!? HA! Are they the flavor of the month to "dethrone" the Mets?
    First it was the Reds, BAH!
    Then the Astros, BAH!
    Followed by the Phillies, Cardinals, Phillies again, the DOdgers, and now the Padres?
    Alright, I'll give them love, I'll give them props but... not with that offense.
    And if the Padres have a game over going into the 7th, then the Mets have it done by the 5th...
    They're not going anywhere.

    Barry Zito does NOT need to be an ace though. Atleast that's my opinion.

    The thing about Schmidt is that he has injury problems and history... No go. I would have liked him as a rental but not to give him a long commitment.

    8:38 PM

    Blogger mr. met said...

    Zito is that good. His stuff is not as dominant, but the guy is in perfect health, young, and durable. He'd kill this league in another fly ball park. He's a lefty so that doesn't hurt either. However, at this point, I think they'll bring back Glavine. I cannot see him leaving making it a moot point. They won't sign him and bring in another arm with the glut of starting pitching the Mets have.

    Yeah Benny, the Mets spent, just really really badly. Good to see them get smart about everything.

    Ollie looked good again. Don't care if he gave up four, he actually looked pretty good.

    8:59 PM

    Anonymous Scott said...

    Zito is no Oswalt? Huh? Zito is a Cy Young winner from the AL not a very good NL pitcher. Zito will win 20+ with us next season and have no doubt, he will be here next season. This is all a smokescreen to get Boras off guard.

    11:56 PM

    Anonymous benny said...

    See Scott, i dont wanna show Zito THAT much love but at the same time on the Mets he'd be amazing.

    Zito has alot of positives for the Mets. Young, durable, no injury history, the league switch.

    he's good but at the same time he is over-rated, if that makes any sense.
    Sort of like Derek Jeter? I dunno...

    12:21 AM

    Anonymous seattle steve said...

    Zito is a luxury we can afford but one must look at the depth of piching we have at this time, sure Trachsel in his last year is gone but with Pelfrey, Humber, Perez, Bannister on top of Pedro, Glavine, El Duque and Maine thats 8 starters and the bullpen of Wagner, Mota, Heilman, Sanchez and Feliciano is lights out. The jury is out on Milledge and I can see us offering ARB. to Cliff and will Valentin be back is another thing to ponder antway why worry about next year since we will be playing meaningful games in October.

    11:56 AM

    Anonymous Sidd Finch said...

    I'm surprised that no one commented about the attendence news. 11 crowds of 50,000 plus will not be possible in the new ballpark. Take all crowds of 45k plus, and that attendence figure will be 100k fans less. It's the argument I've been making in favor of capacity of 50,000 at the new ball park. This is NYC, already!

    1:27 PM

    Anonymous dg's coagulate junk said...

    MIke, thought you'd post something new today, so have been saving this thought for a new thread...

    Anyway, I totally agree. I don't know what it is about Ollie Perez but I like watching him. You can see how close he is to the pitcher in 2004, and he's some managable adjustments away from being near what he was.

    It's interesting to see a comment saying that we ought not to get ahead of ourselves and start thinking about 2007 after the playoffs because the Mets have the luxury to audition some pitchers given that they clinched early.

    Now continuing, did you notice that suddenly some papers are saying that Ollie may even make it to this year's playoffs? That is a clear sign of how much the team is intrigued by him.

    Why? Because unlike VNBrains he has a lot of fight to him. You can see that the guy, though wild, is a serious competitor, a real kick in the sternum compared to Trachsel & my beloved Zambrano. He's the kind of guy who steps up, which makes him a playoff kind of guy. (Though I'd rather see him in next year's playoffs personally!)

    2:19 PM

    Anonymous benny said...

    Well it'd be less fans but either more or just about the same ammount of money made.
    The decrease in seats keeps prices up and keeps the tickets in demand...

    2:29 PM

    Anonymous Wayne Garrett said...

    Yeah, well, fielding a good team that people can actually believe in does the same! I like the smaller dimensions, even if I'm sure Met games will cost more.

    2:43 PM

    Blogger mr. met said...

    I was going to do something about Ollie, but that may have to wait until tomorrow. I'm a bit busy which unfortunately is becoming the norm. The good 'ole days might be comming to an end.

    2:49 PM

    Blogger warmsox said...

    Yes! I got a call from my dad today saying we have tickets to Game 5 of the NLDS, now I don't want it to get to the 5th game, but if it does I'll be there.

    4:14 PM

    Anonymous Harris said...

    I am scared of a Zito-Harden 1,2 punch. I think that's going to be the best combo in the playoffs.

    And by the way Mike, I've been reading the blog for the two years (although never post), and it's without a doubt the best out there. Thanks for another great season of blogging.

    Harris (Bookie D's brother)

    8:15 PM

    Anonymous Sidd Finch said...

    benny, it's always about the money. an example is how we still don't have SNY, and comcast, the greedy bastards, black out TBS when the Mets play the Braves. Fans don't get the best end of the stick. MLB.TV even blacks them out, the bastards.

    The Mets should try to get their AAA team closer to NYC. I always thought that Hartford should try to get an AAA team, and the Mets would be perfect. On the other hand, Central Connecticut doesn't ssem to think the Mets exist.

    It's nice to see someone write not to get ahead of ourselves thinking about 2007. This is one of the three best teams in Mets history (yeah, I know, they haven't done shit yet, they're on par with the '88 team until they advance in the playoffs). Let's all take the time to enjoy them. Too bad we can't watch them up here.

    9:26 PM

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    2:54 AM


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