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

Friday, March 17, 2006

Heilman's Uphill Battle

"It is what it is," Willie Randolph said. "It's competition. Let it play out."

Poor, poor Aaron. As I've stated before, I just do not think the rotations is strong enough to not have Aaron into it and he has done nothing to justify being bumped out of the rotation. Eight starts above AAA for Brian Bannister is not good enough or worth the risk for a team that should in all likelihood, make the playoffs. Obviously they can make changes and shift Heilman into the rotation if Bannister does not work out, but how about making Zambrano earn something? If anything, Aaron deserves more of shot than Zambrano.

Somehow Victor Zambrano, who returned to the team from the World Baseball Classic on Thursday and threw a four-inning simulated game in the bullpen, has remained out of the argument of who slots where -- even as he worked out of the bullpen for Venezuela.

The Mets need to admit an egregious error and right the wrong once and for all. Unfortunately for Heilman, he is proficient to say the least of the bullpen. It is not just Bannister either. Heilman is up against Lima Time, Jeremi Gonzalez, and Usaku Iriki. Why the best two out of the above bunch, Heilman, Zambrano and Bannister are not being considered for the rotation is beyond me, but it seems the Mets seem to prefer saving face and praying that Zambrano becomes a reliable starter rather than putting their best foot forward. Sad. Really sad.

"You know, I watch from the standpoint that he's my teammate and I'm rooting for him to do well," Heilman said. "I've never looked at somebody else's performance and said, 'Oh, I hope he doesn't do well,' or, 'I've got to do better than he does.' It's very tough to do. I can't control what happens when I don't have the ball. I try to focus on that and just root for him to do well. I can definitely understand his position."

If both guys have a solid spring, I go with the person that has had Major League success. We all know that spring stats could be tricky, but the Mets need to trust Aaron and let him prove why he was a first round pick. Trust your off season acquisitions and trust Heilman. The kid is extremely determined and I would not put it past him to emerge as a #2 or a #3 starter this year and be a go to guy for the Mets in their starting rotation.

* * *

  • The universe has been righted as Japan will move on. The US is officially eliminated from the WBC in what could be termed as an embarrassing showing by the US. Personally, I do not quite feel that way because the international competition was very, very good. The teams from Asia have been nothing but impressive and you cannot take anything away from them. I'm still going to be paying attention to the WBC and I hope everyone else does too. Unabatedly, this has been a success.

  • Seriously, this has to be a joke.

    For Kaz Matsui, it's March Madness once again. The man who played 1,143 consecutive games in Japan has another streak going: three spring training camps, three injuries.

    You cannot make that stuff up. Luckily it is not serious and he will be ready to for opening day. As much as he has not earned his job no one else has performed well enough to even make a run at second base. Keppinger is sniffing the Mendoza line and A Hern has eight singles and no walks. Not awe inspiring numbers to say the least.

  • One of my favorite things this spring? Milledge fifth on the team in at bats and batting over .300. Amazing stuff for the kid.

  • Mike Pelfrey is good. The Metropolitans like Tom Glavine.
  • Thursday, March 16, 2006

    Interesting Article

    Win baby, win. Chuck Klosterman might have the worst name in history of world, but the guy has a point. While 100% of the people might not act this way, a very large majority of fans do.

    The only thing we truly demand of pro athletes is that (a) they never associate with known gamblers, and (b) they always, always try to win. Randy Moss put a kid in the hospital and purposefully hit a cop with his Lexus, but the biggest mistake he ever made was relaxing on Vikings running plays; his critics will never forgive him for being openly lackadaisical. Ron Artest punched private citizens who paid to watch him work, but I'd still want him on my team if we were up two points with 15 seconds remaining on the clock; he'd surrender his body to protect the baseline. The greatest compliment you can give any athlete is that he would rather die than lose. And this is curious, since that particular behavior would be classified as idiotic in every other aspect of life.

    Of course social lives of players and how they conduct themselves is by and large irrelevant to many sports fans. While I do not like Ron Artest, if he was on my favorite team helping win games (this is assuming I actually liked basketball), I do not know if I would care. I would not be buying an Artest jersey, but I might not care he is on my team. We only care about winning, which is understandably the biggest point for fans, and villify anyone who exudes anything less to win 100% of the time.

    You are not like Cal Ripken Jr. You aren't that dedicated, you aren't that intense, and you care about your job a whole lot less. Ripken might be your favorite player of the past 25 years, but the two of you have almost nothing in common. In fact, I bet there are many days when you wish you could just take a suitcase of money to Australia, drop out of society, grow out you hair and smoke cannabis all afternoon while having sex with whoever you felt like. In fact, if you had the chance, you'd probably do it tomorrow. But you know what? I bet you also think Ricky Williams is despicable.

    It really is a good read because Bode Miller was more or less vilified for his non-performance at the Olympics. But the entire point to that guy is that he does what he wants. He does not train in the off season like he should because he likes to drink beer and hang out with his friends. How horrible is that? In contrast to Miller, a guy like David Wright works 24/7 to perfect himself as a baseball player. Is anyone right or wrong? Absolutely not, but it is food for thought. As fans we often want a guy like Miller hung for his indifference towards his sport at times. We are all envious of the position he is in. However, it boils down to this. There are people that are just wired differently. You give me $10 million right now, I am off to Costa Rica never to be seen again. There are people so driven that money does not matter. It will not matter how much money they make, success is what drives them. They would try and take that $10 million and make it into $50 million, even if there is a chance they will lose it. Is Miller that bad of a guy? Though I like to laugh at him, no. He is not that bad of a guy and probably a lot like us, but with a load of natural talent.

    * * *

  • Soler is going to have to work his way to the big club as he is going to Minor League camp.

    The Mets reassigned four pitchers to the minor league side Wednesday: Alay Soler, Mike Venafro, Anderson Garcia and Tim LaVigne.

  • The Mets won 8-5 behind a five run eighth inning.

    Aaron Heilman hurled four shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out three, as the Mets won their third straight game, 8-5, over the Washington Nationals.

    Milledge went 1 for 2 with two runs scored, Wright went 1 for 2 with two walks, Chris Basak went 2 for 2 with three RBIs, and Victor Diaz went 1 for 5 with his first homer of the spring.

  • Floyd's kidney's are healthy and happy.

    "I wasn't even nervous, man," Floyd said. "She had put me in the state [of], 'You know what? If everything is going wrong, at least we're going to be able to catch it in time.'

  • As The Toe Turns.....Pedro feels good after making a minor leaguer look like a minor leaguer.

    "It went pretty good," Martinez said. "I was a little stiff at first, but loosened up."

  • How about this for corporate speak:

    Once the sale is finalized, a Comcast spokesperson said the company would evaluate the system and is always looking to expand its programming options. It stands to reason that Comcast would add a network it owns.

    Umm, yeah. It seems pretty obvious. Cablevision is still not on board and they will be 'trying' to reach a resolution so Cablevision's customers will see the station's launch tonight.

    "We are committed to working out a deal and hope to finalize it prior to our launch on Thursday," said SNY spokesman Andrew Fegyveresi.

    Cablevision spokesman Jim Maiella said, "While we hope and expect to reach final agreement to carry SportsNet New York, such an agreement is not yet completed."

  • USA Today has an article on David Wright with plenty of quotes from Mr. March himself.

    Perfect fodder for those back pages. "I would enjoy that," Rodriguez says of a cross-town rivalry with Wright. "I think it would be great for both of us."


    "It looks like he has a real good idea of the game, a real respect for the game," Rodriguez says. "That's rare for young players to have that type of feel at the plate and for the game. He has an outstanding reputation as a player, and it's well deserved."

    Both quotes were pretty standard responses. Whatever, I still think he is a punk.

  • I can read these quotes all day from the Asian teams. They read like quotes from a samurai movie.

    "We gave everything we had," Japan manager Sadaharu Oh said in the post game. "We learned that our opponents' desire was higher than ours."

    The Asian players seem to approach the game with respect and exhibit humility, but c'mon. Just for once I want to see some fire. Even when they got screwed they were tame about it. Amazingly enough though, 39,679 fans showed up to the game and Chan Ho Park is pitching like Cy Young. Park threw five scoreless innings and threw 66 pitches, 50 of which were strikes. Next up? Roger Clemens vs. Oliver Perez. Strangely enough, all is not right in the universe and the USA team needs to lose in a high scoring game to help Japan moves on.

  • Gooden is in trouble again.

    Gooden, 41, is being held without bond after violating the terms of his probation by testing positive for cocaine on Tuesday. The former Mets and Yankees pitcher faces up to five years in jail, a prosecutor told The Associated Press yesterday.

    He's famous. I doubt he gets five years, but in case you wanted to site by side compare of Doc and Darryl's escapades, click here.
  • Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    "Closer Stuff"

    There also is the sense that Heilman, as a two-pitch reliever, can be much more effective -- regardless of the team's needs -- than as a three or four-pitch starter. One teammate went so far as to suggest Heilman has "closer stuff." Consider his strikeout ratios -- 9.82 per nine innings in relief and 7.30 per nine as a starter.

    Just when you think things should be a bit more settled, things are getting all shaken up. The Mets are pretty much knee deep in shit, though Marty Noble put it more eloquently. Eric hit the nail on the head with the loss of Juan Padilla most likely being a league average pitcher that was lost. Of course, he could still have performed admirably against lefties, which the Mets were hoping he could do, and that would have been fine and dandy with them.

    The reality of it all is that Padilla is down. The Mets have no idea what they have with Sanchez or Julio, their two new imports. Victor Zambrano has done nothing but throw in relief in the WBC and cannot possibly be up to full strength (is that a bad thing or good thing?). Their LOOGYs are not exactly impressing and Heilman is now in danger of being moved into the bullpen to satiate the need for a guy that can get lefties out. However, here's the thing. He would not only possibly the be the best guy in the bullpen outside of Billy Wagner, he would not be used in special situations. He would presumably be used in the higher leverage situations if they were going to use him right. If he was being used in any other way, it would be just ridiculous.

    Sure, there would be times where they could fix it that he would be facing Howard, Abreu, and Utley in a row, but those would be isolated incidents that the high leverage situations would coincide with two or three lefties coming up. With that being said, Brian Bannister has looked good. He might be able to put up league average stats just like Aaron Heilman. However, I think Heilman has the ability to put up better than league average numbers. He might spit the bit, but he might outperform expectations too. A rookie in Brian Bannister would give what you would hope out of him at best, which is league average stuff. I cannot see him coming in and having a stellar impact. Holding down the end of the rotation steadily? Sure. Stepping up to be a #3 starter? Not likely, but Heilman could in my eyes.

    That is not to say Bannister should not be taking someone's rotation spot, but just not Aaron Heilman's. Despite the fact the Mets have some questions in their bullpen and did not have a chance to learn their new guys, they trusted their decisions to get them and give up some talent and now it is time to back them. Juan Padilla (who is just one guy in case anyone forgot) should not be the reason Heilman heads back to the pen. Heilman should be the reason Heilman heads back to the pen if he cannot handle it and would better be served as a reliever. It is too soon for that and he deserves the right to fail at this point. Juan Padilla going down should not affect that.

    * * *

  • This reads like a horror story.

    And when asked if he could ever be 100 percent again, Martinez just shook his head.

    "I have no idea, but I'm not expecting it to be," he said, but added, "Once I get into the heat of a game -- erase -- I'm going to blank it out."

  • Not so fast. The Mets network launches tomorrow and Cablevision subscribers will not be watching it and there are no guarantees about opening day even.

  • Duaner Sanchez threw one shutout inning despite walking two batters and contributed to a one hitter for the Dominican team against the Venezuelans. The Dominican team took home the win on a passed ball.

    "I don't know what happened," Venezuela Manager Luis Sojo said. "It was a good pitch, right down the middle. He didn't catch it."

    I wonder if Ramon Hernandez will be able to get off a plane in Venezuela without fearing for his life. At least the WBC is creating goodwill between countries.

    Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's president, was wrong about the Dominicans. After they battered Venezuela, 11-5, in the first round, Chávez said: "The Dominicans were lucky. We will eat them alive in the rematch."

    You have to love heads of state getting in on a little trash talking. Maybe you should worry about crime and kidnapping?

  • Brian Bannister has been stellar this Spring Training so far, but how much stock can we put in these stats? Of course positions are won and lost here, but James Baldwin put up spectacular numbers two years ago too. I'm not saying Bannister has not been great, but we simply do not know if he truly has been this good or another mirage of spring. I'm hoping the latter.

    "He's one of those guys who makes you feel like you're out there facing a Maddux in his old days when he's throwing a little harder," Floyd said. "It's like if he gets down in the strike zone, it's like he can throw a strike with his eyes closed."

  • Notes from last night's game:

    Cliff Floyd drove in four, including a three-run homer in a nine-run fourth, and David Wright ripped a two-run single and a solo homer. ... Lastings Milledge made two highlight-reel catches in center field and Kaz Matsui added a bases-loaded single. ... Lefty reliever Matt Perisho gave up three runs on three hits in the fifth. ... IF Chris Woodward (flu) returned to the lineup.

    Milledge was partial to the catches.

    Milledge, who is batting .286 and is destined for Triple-A Norfolk, said he enjoyed the catch more than the hit. "You don't have a lot of opportunities to make good plays in the outfield," he said. "Hits come and go. But the catch helps that bond you have with the pitcher, when he knows you're going all out for him."

  • Thanks to Japan's victory over Mexico behind the pitching of Daisuke Matsuzaka, the US team in Jeopardy, though they should be out of it.

    If Japan beats South Korea and the United States defeats Mexico, they will be tied with South Korea at 2-1. In the tie-breaker system, involving runs allowed divided by number of innings played, the United States could be eliminated depending on the number of runs in the Japan-South Korea game. The United States faced the same predicament in the first round and survived.

  • The Giam-bino sells his teammate and the entire United States out.

    Team USA manager Buck Martinez said yesterday that "Damon's been conservative with his throwing the whole time here. He hasn't thrown much. We haven't done anything here that's affected Johnny Damon."

    But Damon apparently told his friend Jason Giambi that Team USA was "trying to speed them along" in drills to get into game form, Giambi said yesterday.

  • Carlos Pena may end up being released.

    Carlos Pena's future as a Detroit Tigers first baseman is no more, or less, certain this week than it was when spring training convened a month ago.

    Various reports have suggested Pena will be released Thursday, the final day players under contract for 2006 can be jettisoned for one-sixth of the salary owed them -- in Pena's case about $470,000 of the $2.8 million he has coming for 2006.
  • Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    Pointless Excersice

    A lot of Mets fans are fiery and routinely get their panties all bundled up from articles written. A lot of times these articles are baseless, sometimes they aren't, but they always still infuriate us. I'm no different. Why even bother bringing certain people to spring training and wasting their time? I posted yesterday about the pure silliness of Jeff Keppinger's recent dismal of actually having a chance and it is hard to get that unhappy about a guy who has not walked once yet, but let things play out before you open your yap to the media. It is no secret I am in fact pulling for the front runner to get his shot, but give everyone else a least that. A shot.

    It is amazing to me that some guys do not have a shot while some guys cannot play bad enough to lose a spot. Of course Kaz at least proved at some level, however tiny, that he can play. His rookie year was not a failure at the plate. In the field yes, but he was hitting boatloads of doubles and finished strong. Last year, he looked lost for the entire year until the end and started picking it up. Call me crazy, but I believe in him. I think he can play though he will not win any gold gloves. With that being said, to dismiss anyone this early in the spring without letting things play out is just Randolph-ish.

    That takes me to another tidbit that raised my blood pressure. Ryan McConnell from Always Amazin' linked to this David Lennon article about starters that he inked on Sunday. I have no problem with anything that Lennon wrote, outside of the false fact that he said Miguel Cabrera was playing for the Dominican team when he is Venezuelan, since he was just reporting facts. Vomit inducing facts for anyone who is keeping track.

    The Mets got another look at Jose Lima, a favorite of general manager Omar Minaya. Lima has emerged as a solid candidate for the back end of the rotation. Pitching with a split squad, Lima started against the Marlins, a team that now is Triple-A level after an off-season of drastic payroll cuts and with Miguel Cabrera off playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Lima struck out the side in the first inning of the Mets' 10-6 win at Tradition Field.

    Lima didn't allow a hit until the fourth, but that's when the Marlins tagged him for four runs, with the big blow Reggie Abercrombie's two-run double. Still, the Mets like Lima's fiery personality and believe his experience makes a difference.

    Wait...huh...wuh? They STILL like his fiery personality and BELIEVE his experience make a difference? By way of The Eddie Kranepool Society, a quote from a New York Times article:

    Lima, who went 5-16 for Kansas City last season, made his debut in a Mets uniform Saturday against a lineup of Marlins with little or no major league experience. It was a lineup that any pitcher with major league aspirations would be expected to handle, and the 33-year-old Lima did so for three innings, allowing no hits and two base runners. In the fourth, the Marlins put together a four-run rally against him.

    Mets Manager Willie Randolph, General Manager Omar Minaya and the pitching coach Rick Peterson all praised Lima's efforts.

    Ok, that is all well and good, but this is not Little League where the uncoordinated kid needs to get a lollipop after each game because they tried. I like Lima too because he cracks me up. His wife is hot too. Yeah, yeah. His ERA was 6.99 last season. The best thing you could say about him is that he started 32 games. His month by month breakdowns for ERA? 6.08, 10.05, 7.11, 3.79, 6.52, and 9.64. In other words, horrific.

    I know what some of you are thinking. "Brah, he had a not so bad 2003 and 2004 and can certainly be comparable with Kaz's successes and failures over the last two years." Sure. But the Mets also have more pitching choices than second base choices. There is little room in the pen and little room in the rotation. I have no faith in him and I really do not think Kaz should get handed the job. I want him to get a chance, but if he fails to step up this Spring, how can I continue to bat for him if others performed a lot better?

    I cannot. Heath Bell performed well last Spring only to miss the roster for guys that were offered Major League contracts or out of options and stands to inevitably see that happen again this year no matter how he performs. Brian Bannister has virtually no shot at making the big club no matter how good he does. Yet, when it comes to other people, they can do no harm. Jose Lima has an 8.10 ERA in 6.2 innings. Surely 6.2 innings is not large enough to close the door on him, but what is he really going to contribute over the year. The fact that the door was basically shut on Keppinger before anything even got heated and the fact that door is wide open for Lima regardless of effectiveness speaks volumes about some on going things with this Met organization. To a certain extent you have to look at team makeup, but how many character guys can one team have? At some point, skill has to be valued over character and present performance over past experience. When that happens, maybe the Mets can run away with the NL East.

    "I let them play," Randolph said. "It's not always going to come down to average and statistics. It's just how you play the game. Managers look at players and it's what they see."

    Sad stuff. While on the topic, we all know that I have been the biggest proponent of Victor Diaz starting for multiple reasons, but Nady has been killing the ball this Spring. That is a race that is flat out being one at this point and Nady, should he keep out hitting Victor Diaz, should earn the role of right fielder. I have complained about Diaz's uphill battle, but it may be a moot point whether or not he really had a fair shot at this point if Nady keeps punishing the ball like he has been.

    * * *

  • After last night's loss to Korea, the US is on thin ice in WBC.

    The United States, with one win and one loss in the second round, must beat Mexico on Thursday -- when the Americans will have ace Roger Clemens on the mound -- then hope it comes out ahead in the tournament's bizarre tiebreak criteria, the first of which is runs allowed.

    The USA really does not deserve to move on and one has to wonder if the US pitching really had a chance. I did not do the research and do not really care too, but generally, international players, pitching especially, work more and are more into game form during the winter. They pitch in their home countries because they thing it is more a duty to play in front of their home countries' crowds. You just see that more often with guys from the Dominican Republic than the US and only young American pitchers get involved with Winter Ball. Again, no research, just a thought which could have been made up. Added to that, the Japanese Spring Training started a bit before the Major League Spring Training.


    Alex Rodriguez -- mockingly labeled "Mr. March" in a back-page tabloid headline in New York after his broken-bat, ninth-inning single lifted the United States over Japan on Sunday -- came to the plate four times Monday night with two runners on base, and all four times he failed to hit the ball out of the infield although he did have an RBI groundout in the ninth.

    Mr. March? That is pure gold.

  • Woody Allen...I mean Neil Best has a good article on SNY. I personally think that regional sports networks should be premium channels. Too bad no one cares what I think.

  • Mark Hale says the Mets may be big buyers next off season. I say the Mets may never see a first round pick again.

  • Pedro is still sore and not doing much, but according to Mets.com, that is progress. Someone should tell them the season starts in two weeks. For the record, I cannot see him starting off the season in the first few turns of the rotation.

  • Yulieski Gourriel is making a lot of Major League teams drool right now.

  • Josh Hamilton part II: Jeff Allison.

    Troubled Marlins pitching prodigy Jeff Allison has fallen off the fast track again.

    Allison, the talented right-hander who overcame a heroin overdose and a dependency on OxyContin to return to the mound last season, left the team's minor league complex during spring training. He has not been released or placed on the restricted list, but it's unclear when or if he will return to the organization.

    "I don't know what his (official) status is, but no, he's not with us," Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said. "He's suspended, I believe."

    'Tis another disappointing story so far. I posted the Josh Hamilton story a while back, it is a pretty interesting read if you have some time.
  • Sunday, March 12, 2006

    Bring It On

    Yesterday’s game had a lot of ups and downs. It looked like the USA team would never get anything started before coming back to tie the game and getting a big call on a would be go ahead run for the Japanese team. “The runner obviously left early” said Buck Martinez. Of course it was not obvious and probably was not even true and should not have been called, but it was called in favor of the United States and will no doubt beg the question from an entire nation if there had been a case of favoritism in yesterday's game. Between being away for a week and not caring for the first few days, I had not paid much attention to the World Baseball Classic. So far, there are some things I like.
      1) The USA losing to Canada behind 21 year old Adam Loewen. Yeah, I’m rooting for the USA to win, but wins like that are good for baseball.
      2) Some pot smoking, red light district visiting Dutchman throwing a no-no against Panama.
      3) Cuba making it to round two and beating a solid, solid team from Venezuela with some guy I never heard of in Pedro Luis Lazo tossing the ball 97 mph. Fidel is a horrible person, even worse than George Steinbrenner, but that has nothing to do with this team.
      4) The Japanese helmets with the flat finish and raised Japan logo. Those things are as badass as helmets can get.
      5) Derek Jeter bunting because he is useless with the bat.
      6) Japan playing with the USA team until the end and making it a game that could of gone either way.
      7) Puerto Rican pitchers just throwing some filth.
    I thoroughly enjoyed the game and am officially into the WBC. I do think there are kinks to be worked out, but there is enough international competition to make this interesting for a large part of the globe and enough hope for the countries that aren’t up to speed that there is a future. I think this thing is going to work out and will only get better from here.

    Just an aside on the game though. If you looked at the Japanese players, their body types looked like typical Major League baseball player’s body types circa the 1980’s. It really speaks volumes about what is going on with the player’s in America workout regime, diet, or whatever. The players just are not anywhere near as bulky in Japan as here.

    * * *

  • Curt Schilling gives Chris Duffy a concussion and blames Duffy.

    "Bottom line is that ball should not have hit him. You've got to be able to get out of the way of that pitch."

    Umm, wow. How about just breaking out the players book of excuses and throw out something insincere like it was an unfortunate incident that you wish never happened.

    "In that situation, you've got to man up and say you are wrong when you are wrong," Duffy said. "I saw the tape -- there was no way I could have moved out of the way. For him to just blow it off, that's not great sportsmanship. There is a certain way to handle things. That wasn't it."

  • Kris Benson shows some class:

    "I think we have the talent in here to win also, but I wish the best for those guys over there. ... I had a great time in New York, and there's nothing bad I can say about it."

    You want more?

    "I think they're going to be great," said Benson after his morning workout for the Orioles. "They've got a lot of the tools that are necessary to win a championship.

    "Any time you get a chance to be on a team you think is going to win, you want to be a part of it."

  • Loser talk...

    1. solutions, i saw your comments to asking again and i say, why are you worrying -- this is baseball, something to enjoy, not something to worry about, regardless of whether mets win or lose --
    Submitted by: what, me worry?

    Too little too late...

    4. ed wagner: i understand, it's hard to answer that when there isn't one -- that's my point -- let's worry about pedro's toe when it lands him on DL, not before
    Submitted by: you never answer

    Ed, I agree with you now that it is too late, but Omar should have worried before and gotten some insurance named AJ Burnett.

  • I think Kazuo should start just because he has the talent to be decent in this league, but Willie is an ass. He declared it an open competition at second base and had this to add:

    "Keppinger really wasn't in the mix. Keppinger was kind of a long shot, and he's still kind of a long shot, but he's there."

    He will continually look back at Felix Martinez breaking his leg and have a desire to murder him on what was caled a dirty play.

    "I had a friend who was watching a telecast, and they put Willie on the headphones during the game, and he pretty much said the same thing," Keppinger said. "Whatever. I don't know. They don't really say much to me. When they put me in to play, I play. When they send me, I go.

    "It's not a surprise. I figured that would be kind of the way it would go. That's all right. I get in there, I do what I can, and hopefully somebody takes notice."

    If not for that play, he could have gotten an extended look, though doubtful with Willie's aversion to playing rookies and making them earn their chops.

  • Phil Humber taking steps towards returning.

    On the pine: Philip Humber took his second post-surgery step on Saturday, throwing a side session five days after his 15-pitch, one-the-mound spring debut.

  • Pedro better be ready for opening day at Shea. I paid good money to see him and I still have nightmares of watching Tom Glavine, who would presumably get the nod, get shelled by the Cubs while snot dripped out of my nose.
  • Feeding Frenzy

    The sharks will be a swimming with the scent of blood in the water. Every year there is a trade rumor du juor that will be harped up one incessantly and Barry Zito is going to be 2006's.

    "I think every guy, that crosses his mind. Just because when you go into New York, you play [against] New York, you see how intense everything is there," Zito said Friday. "How fun it is just to play in front of those East Coast fans. Baseball is different on the East Coast.

    "But as for right now, this is where I'm at. This is my allegiance. This is where I want to be."

    Now everyone says that stuff since they want to keep their marker and their bidding wide open and do not want to alienate teams, so I would not read too far into that. As far as trading him goes, Zito is not going anywhere barring a collapse by the A's. The A's have a very, very good team. They should easily be in contention for the AL West through the entire year and Barry Zito is going to be a big part of that. At that point, Omar can do what he does best and that is not acquire guys through trades. He can spend money in free agency and reel in the big catch.

    Zito at Shea in 2007 has a nice ring, but thinking he will be here any sooner is just a stretch for me. Rich Harden can be a certifiable ace, but counting on Danny Harren and Joe Blanton to step it up to form a top three to compete for a championship is probably not going to happen. The small market GMs always have to continue looking forward while playing for today. They just have to keep everything in perspective and constantly make moves for the future, but trading Zito during a year they have a shot to compete is not a way to go about it. As the White Sox taught us last year, good pitching can take you a long way and the A's have some pretty damn good pitching. It is not out of the realm of possibilities that their staff can take them far this year.

    * * *

  • This sounds like good news.

    Peterson said Martinez threw approximately 15 pitches per "frame" (in addition to warm-up throws) and said Martinez threw "very close" to maximum capacity.

    "Absolutely awesome," Peterson called the session.

  • John Schuerholz is a cock... Hopefully Tommy shoves this back in his face at the end of the season.

  • Rest up big guy.

    "I will not play until I'm 100 percent," Delgado said. As for when that might be, he replied, "I wish I knew. The morning that I get up and I say it feels better and it's a hundred percent, that's the morning we're going to go."

  • Also from the above link, Zambrano has muscle soreness in his lower back.

    After throwing in the bullpen, Zambrano said the minor discomfort most likely was caused by sleeping in an awkward position. It didn't affect his session.

    Is it jst me, or do ball players get hurt in the most bizarre ways.

  • Bad news...

    Juan Padilla might not be as lucky. He could be a candidate for Tommy John surgery depending on Saturday's visit with noted orthopedist Lewis Yocum.

  • Matsui looks like he is getting his last shot at second base.

    "Kaz probably has the upper hand," the manager said after characterizing Hernandez's standing as "probably not as high as Kaz's" and identifying Jeff Keppinger, always the last candidate in this race, as a "long shot."