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

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Is that another win in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

Another day, and a another Met win. Not for nothing though, the Mets have indeed played some weak teams for sure. Weak more in terms of offense than anything else. They faced a guy who was an All-Star two years in a row in 2004 and 2005 in Livan Hernandez, a runner up for the 2005 Cy Young award in Dontrelle Willis, a guy who finished ninth in the NL for ERA in 2004 with 3.13 in John Patterson, and an eighteen game winner and a very tough lefty to hit in Chris Capuano. So in four out of the nine games they played this season, they faced top tier pitching and have done nothing but pound and win.

More impressive than anything about their offense is their thirteen total homeruns in nine games playing entirely in pitcher's parks. Their .310/.361/.524 line will not last, but their proficiency with runners in scoring position will continue. Their .284 /.351/.420 line with RISP is even more impressive when you stack it up against the competition's line of .189/.319/.297. As stated on the broadcast last night, the Mets have led in every single inning this season with the exception of two. Their only loss was a blown save and they have completely dominated their opponents.

They have outscored their opponents 57-30 and really do not have a tough opponent until the Yankee series starting on May 19th. Truly scary stuff if you are in their division hoping the Mets slow down. The pitching will not keep being this nasty and some of it may be a mirage, but Sanchez has been a revelation and vital pickup and Glavine, Pedro, and Traxx are going to give you what you expect them too. This team has been so impressive, that ESPN.com, who usually takes every opportunity to bash the Mets, has the Mets listed at #1 (thanks to David for pointing that out). When is the last time the Mets sat atop the power rankings? Never. I know it is early, but this team is solid.

* * *

Jim Callis tells us what we already know.

Best Teenage Prospect: Martinez (17) was the youngest player to open 2006 in a full-season league. In another move that underscored the Mets' intent to be a major player in Latin America, they landed Venezuelan right-hander Deolis Guerra (16) for $700,000. Lefty Jon Niese (19), a seventh-round pick last year, came from the same Defiance (Ohio) High program that produced blue-chip Dodgers pitching prospect Chad Billingsley.

Looks like the Mets have some live ones. All are far away, but good to see the Mets steal Niese in the seventh round and pick up some solid prospects with the financial muscle on the international front.

Prepare For Takeoff: Niese, who has received far less hype than Martinez or Guerra to this point. He was ticketed for the University of Cincinnati before Hall of Famer Gary Carter, the Mets' manager in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, called him with a sales pitch. Niese is a projectable lefty who already pitches in the low 90s and reaches 94 mph, and he has polish as well.

Throwing in the low 90’s at 19 years old means a few more MPHs is not out of the question as he grows into his frame. Be excited. Be very excited.

Time Is Running Out For: Outfielder Ambiorix Concepcion ranked as the top prospect in the short-season New York-Penn League in 2004 and right behind Milledge among New York's position players. Then it turned out he was 19 months older than originally believed, and he went out and hit .251 in low Class A. The Mets added him to the 40-man roster, and now he must justify their faith.

And justify their faith he is trying to do. Concepcion has been better this season but only time will tell if he can keep it up.

  • Have the Mets been doing much better with their top picks or have they just not had a chance to fail yet?

    Draft History
    Year    Top Pick
    1992 Preston Wilson
    1993 Kirk Presley
    1994 Paul Wilson
    1995 Ryan Jaroncyk
    1996 Robert Stratton
    1997 Geoff Goetz
    1998 Jason Tyner
    1999 Neal Musser
    2000 Billy Traber
    2001 Aaron Heilman
    2002 Scott Kazmir
    2003 Lastings Milledge
    2004 Philip Humber
    2005 Mike Pelfrey
  • I'm sure it's a little from column A and a little from m column B, but they have made their first picks count. Imagine if they drafted Stephen Drew instead of Phil Humber?

  • Ask BA touched upon Henry Owens in their lastest edition of AskBA.

    What do you think of Mets right-hander Henry Owens? The New York papers were hyping him during spring training and his Double-A numbers (no hits, two walks, 14 strikeouts) are ridiculous so far, albeit in just six innings. Any chance we could see him in Shea Stadium this year?

    Jason Phillips

    Goggles, is that you?

    Owens is one of the best stories in a Mets system that has been depleted by trades. He hit just .277-6-20 at NCAA Division II Barry (Fla.) as a senior catcher/DH in 2001. With his baseball career figuring to end there, he planned on attending medical school. But scouts liked his arm strength, and the Pirates' Delvy Santiago signed him as a non-drafted free agent with the intention of converting him to the mound.

    Owens showed a mid-90s fastball and was able to simply blow heat by hitters in the low minors from the start, but coming up with an effective second pitch was more problematic. He was bothered by elbow tendonitis and back problems throughout 2004, after which the Mets grabbed him in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft.

    It took Owens a couple of months to get fully healthy last year, but once he did, he had a 1.04 ERA and 41 strikeouts in his final 26 innings at high Class A St. Lucie. His fastball hit 100 mph when he pitched in the Puerto Rican Winter League, and his slider made some strides. It's still not a finished product, however, as evidenced by Owens' performance in big league camp this spring, when he had a 10.50 ERA and opponents strafed him for 12 hits in six innings.

    The Mets are off to a good start, and Owens still has work to do on his slider, so a promotion isn't imminent. But if he continues to perform and the slider improves, New York is going to be tempted to give him a look later this year.

    Patience my friends, patience. He is old for his league, but young in terms of pitching experience really negating all of that stuff.

  • Same story, different year. Painful articles of who the Yankees will sign in the off season before the current season even gets rolling.

  • Headcase Zack Grienke is eager to pitch again.

    “The main thing now,” he said, “is I’m really looking forward to playing baseball again.”

  • What's the harm in telling the truth? I don't know, but I guess we'll find out.

  • That's what good teams do. They pick each other up.

    "I'm definitely not happy with the way I pitched," Heilman said. "Duaner picked me up. Hopefully I'll never have to return the favor."

  • Check out the minor league recap here.

  • Friday, April 14, 2006

    Getting Reacquainted

    We all like to get our panties in bundle when certain prospects are dealt. Sometimes us fans have a legitimate gripe, but most times we cry for no reason. Here is a quick look at how some of the recent trade bait is faring in the minors so far this season.

    Yusmiero Petit
    Same story different year for Yusmeiro. He is 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA in two games. He has given up ten hits, walked two, and struck out seven.

    Grant Psomas
    Grant is off to a slow start in Jupiter and is batting .231/.310/.308 with only two doubles, one RBI, and two walks in eight games.

    Gaby Hernandez
    After posted a 5.74 ERA in high A-ball last season, Gaby is off to a better start and has a 3.38 ERA after two starts and has given up eight hits, four runs, four walks, and struck out eight in 10.2 innings. Gaby may ultimately have the highest ceiling out of any player the Marlins received in the off-season from the Mets (sorry all you Mike Jacobs fans).

    Dante Brinkley
    Brinkley has only played in two games this year for Jupiter, but has done well in the games he has played. He owns a .375/.375/.500 line with three RBIs.

    Matt Peterson
    The 24 year old Matt Peterson is running out of time as a prospect if it has not run out already. He first debuted in AA in 2003 for Binghamton and pitched in six games. Fast forward to 2006, he is still there. Peterson has big league stuff, but finding the plate has always been an issue for him. This season, he is off to a great start and is 1-0 in two starts. He has given up five hits, no runs, one walk, and struck out six in eleven innings of work.

    Justin Huber
    Justin does not turn 24 until this July and is still a solid prospect. Huber owns a career line of .293/.396/.493 in the minors and is probably ready for big league actioin right now. He is off to a great start in AAA for the Omaha Royals with a .316/.500/.684 line through eight games and has two homers to go along with four RBIs. Impressively, he has six walks to only two strikeouts.

    Joselo Diaz
    Diaz just turned 26 yesterday and is in AA for the third year in a row after not pitching at all in 2005. He is a member of the Texas AA affiliate, the Frisco Rough Riders. So far, not so good. Another ex-Met farmhand with serious control issues. He has managed to walk four people in 2.1 innings of work. On the bright side, he has yet to give up a hit or a walk.

    Ian Bladergroen
    The 23 year old Bladergroen had a bad year in 2005 at high A Wilmington after coming off an injury and has started off this year there again. He is not off to a great start and owns a .217/.296/.391 line with one homer and four RBIs.

    So now that Kris Benson has been dealt, it was essentially Justin Huber, Ty Wigginton, and Matt Peterson for John Maine, Jorge Julio, and Jeff Keppinger. Basically one major league regular for a burnt out reliever, an ex-prosect, and a utility player.

    Remember Me? My version of where are they now brings two guys from the Mets past. One that couldn't hit to save his life and one that many felt was too big for his britches.

    Jeff Duncan
    Jeff is now 27 years old and is playing for the Las Vegas 51s. The 51s are the AAA affiliate of the Dodgers and Duncan may want to think about becoming a dealer at one of the casinos. He is off to a .111/.273/.111 start with no extra base hits in six games.

    Danny Garcia
    The 26 year old Garcia has landed with the Columbus Clippers. He is part of the Evil Empire's AAA team and Danny is currently batting .250/.375/.250 and has yet to record an extra base hit in seven games but has managed to walk four times to his two strikeouts.

    * * *

  • Check out this headline:

    Zambrano loses focus, game

    That certainly looks like it should have been Victor and no carlos and it would have been convenient if I could have made some lame joke about the good Zambrano and the bad Zambrano trading places for their games yesterday, but both were bad. Victor got the win, but was frustrating in the fourth and fifth innings with his inability to throw strikes with a 6-0 lead. It would be easy to blame his lack of work for throwing bad, but he got as many innings this spring as the other Mets starters. He did have some significant time off between his last appearance in spring and this one, but this was vintage Zambrano.

    "It was his first time out, so you can't expect him to be at the top of his game," Randolph said of Zambrano's three-run, six-hit performance.

    Why would we expect anything different? If the game was close, he may not have even finished the fifth and I fully see this happening all year. Zambrano frustrating people through five innings and teetering on the brink of giving up ten runs in at least one inning per start. Yes, that is Willie's 'third starter'. I know Randolph was just trying to stick it to Mike and Mad Dog to be difficult and it ultimately does not matter who gets labeled what, but he sounds dumb. But then again, if the shoe fits....

  • David Lennon and the entire Mets team is very high on Anderson Hernandez.

  • If you want to waste a few more minutes of your life than you have already wasted here, read Jack Curry's curiously pointless article. Not to be outdone in the pointless article department, Jim Baumback jumps into the fray.

  • Check out the minor league update here if you have not already.
  • Thursday, April 13, 2006


    Can any team in the NL match a Beltran, Delgado, Wright, and Floyd meat of the order? 9 for 18 today with four homers and seven RBIs. Beltran added two more walks and Wright still has yet to actually strike out. They can all hit for power and have a good eye at the plate. Scary, scary stuff. Not even the Cardinals can match those four and go toe to toe, though they do have some pretty impressive guys to say the least.

    Finally, can they just cut Julio already and bring up Heath Bell?

    Looking Like A Playoff Team

    The Mets have the best record in the Major Leagues at 6-1 with a .857 winnings percentage. It is a good start for sure, but people will be quick to point out they have played lesser opponents and it's nothing to be proud of. However, this is exactly what playoff teams do. Play about .500 ball or a little above against the good teams and beat up the bad teams to rack up wins. In 2005, the Mets played one game over .500 against teams that were .500 or above. They played only three games over .500 against teams that were under .500. They missed the playoffs by six games last season. Though the majority of games played were actually against .500 or above teams since their entire division was over .500, they still did not excel against shitty teams, but managed to play with the good ones shot for shot.

    On top of that, all these wins to start this season are all divisional games. Winning divisional games and beating bad teams is the mark of a playoff team. So far, so good. Take nothing away from this amazing start because it is exactly what a team should do if they are to be considered playoff caliber. So far, their starter's collective ERA is 2.66 with a .95 WHIP. They are averaging over six innings per start and no starter has allowed more than three earned runs except for Pedro in his first start. Again, so far, so good. This rotation has concerns for sure, but everyone looks comfortable so far. Victor Zambrano toes the rubber tonight and a nation of anxious Met fans will be watching as the Mets go for a sweep on their first road series of the year.

    * * *

  • Minor Update:
    • The Norfolk Tides dropped to 2-5 with their loss to Buffalo. It was a scoreless pitcher's duel through seven innings when Norfolk's relievers could not hold Buffalo as the Tides lost 4-1. Jeremi Gonzalez rebounded from his forgettable start last time out and went seven innings and gave up only three hits, one walk, and struck out nine. Tim Lavigne gave up two runs in .2 innings for the loss. Jeremy Sowers started the game for the Bisons and threw six innings of shut out ball and has yet to give up a run in his two starts this season. The Tides offense only mustered five singles on the day. Lastings Milledge went 1 for 3 with a run scored and walk, Jeff Keppinger went 1 for 2 with a walk, and Chris Basak and Joe Hieptas each went 1 for 3.

    • The B-Mets continue to roll as they beat the Reading Phillies 6-4. It was a good game for the B-Mets all around as their bats came back to win the game as the bullpen held it. Miguel Perez started the game and got roughed up as he gave up four runs in five innings. Binghamton relievers shut the door with four innings of no hit and one walk ball while striking out four batters. Eddie Camacho picked up the win and Henry Owens picked up the save. Carlos Gomez went 1 for 5 with two strike outs, Jay Caligiuri was all or nothing with a 2 for 5 night with one RBI and three strikeouts, Andy Wilson was 2 for 4 with a run scored and a double, Jorge Padilla was 1 for 4 with a homer and two RBIs, Bobby Malek was 2 for 4 with a double, Corey Ragsdale was 1 for 3 with a run scored and a walk, and Yunir Garcia was 2 for 3 with three runs scored, a double, and a walk.

    • Alay Soler is still searching for his first win as a pro and has been doing his part to earn one. Yesterday, St. Lucie lost to the Daytona Cubs 2-0. Soler started the game and went five innings while giving up one hit, three walks, and striking out six. Edgar Alfonzo took the loss and gave up two runs in relief. The St. Lucie bats were quiet as Ambiorix Concepcion went 1 for 4 and Mike Carp went 2 for 3 with a walk.

    • Hagerstown upped their record to 3-4 behind a huge day by Fernando Martinez. The Suns downed Lakewood 6-5 as Fernando went 4 for 6 with two doubles, one triple, and four RBIs. Hector Pellot also had a solid day at the plate and went 3 for 5 with two runs scored and a double. Jorge Reyes started the game and pitched a solid six innings of one run ball and Eric Brown took the win in relief, his first of the year.
  • Ben Sheets could return to the mound this Sunday to take on Brian Bannister and the Mets.

  • People are concerned about the WBC and it's effect on their pitchers by not getting enough work in before the season. It is obvious that plays a factor and that needs to be rectified for the next one. Victor Zambrano for one has not pitched as much as people would have liked and I am not holding out hope that he will continue the stellar pitching by Mets starters. But I guess anything is possible if girls actually let me sleep with them.

  • Jose Reyes turned a double play with Anderson Hernandez that Kaz would not have been able to make 100 out of 100 times.

    "I knew right away I was going to second," Reyes said. "If I hesitated we wouldn't have gotten it."

    With the runner bearing down on him, Hernandez stood his ground to make the catch and relay to first.

    "The runner was all over me," Hernandez said. "I had to throw the ball, and I had to throw it fast."

    Hernandez hung in there with the running come down and fired the ball to first to turn a very impressive double play. The Mets defensive this year is very tight. Only one position player has made and error as Jose Reyes has two so far.

  • Zambrano sounds confident for his first start.

    "I'm pretty sure I'm 100%."


  • From the Daily News:

    Mets special assistant Bryan Lambe was conspicuous at Yankee Stadium yesterday scouting the Royals-Yankees game. It's more likely the Mets were looking at lefty Jeremy Affeldt than Doug Mientkiewicz, though they couldn't have been overly impressed with the K.C. southpaw. Affeldt started and took the loss, allowing six earned runs and seven hits in 3-1/3 innings. Omar Minaya is said to be enamored with Mike MacDougal, having unsuccessfully dangled Kris Benson last winter. The Royals closer is on the DL with a shoulder strain.

    Also from the above link:

    FOXSports.com reported that GMs believe it's "practically a given" that Dontrelle Willis will be traded by July 31, but Mets insiders were skeptical - "...knowing Jeffrey the way I do," one team source said about the potential for a trade, referring to Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. "Jeffrey likes to win."

    Last item from the above link:

    2005 first-round pick Mike Pelfrey is off to a quick start at Class-A St. Lucie. The righthander has limited Florida State League opponents to one unearned run and has struck out 13 while allowing only six hits and a walk in 11 innings over two starts. Special assistant Tony Bernazard, who oversees the minor-league system, indicated Pelfrey won't be quickly promoted to Double-A Binghamton.

    I do not know what that mean exactly, but I figured he would be there for about two months before he moved up.

  • Beltran's average is up to .292. David Wright is still just destroying a ball. However, he did fail to notch an RBI in game for the first time this season.

  • From Newsday:

    The Mets' 6-1 start is their best since 1985. Their best records after seven games:


    2006, 1985, 1984


    1999, 1998, 1991, 1987, 1982, 1973, 1972

  • Willie? Finally you realized that facial hair has no bearing on the team's success!

    It took a few days, but the Mets are starting to show signs of Randolph's new looser code of discipline. The evidence is all over their faces. Randolph lifted his ban on facial hair at the end of spring training and many of the Mets have begun sporting neatly trimmed goatees as allowed by the manager's relaxed code. Carlos Delgado, who trimmed his longtime goatee upon arriving at spring training, is happy to have his back. "The guys that used to wear them are wearing them," Delgado said. "For me, it was a no-brainer."

    Really, it seems small, but these are grown men that make millions. If they want to sport some scruff and a goatee, let them.
  • Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    Egg On My Face?

    I know most of you are very excited about the prospect of throwing in my face how Bannister had a great game yesterday and A Hern is 4 for his last 11. I say Hernandez still has a .174 /.174 /.174 line and that is never good when all three numbers are equal. More importantly, he is at least putting the bat on the ball more. In his first twelve at-bats, he struck out five time to one time in his last eleven. He also is making a charge to 3.00 pitches per plate appearance and has been seeing more pitches of late. All encouraging signs from him, but not enough to stall Kaz Matsui from returning and taking a starting spot when the time comes. He still needs to pick it up and luckily for him, he has a lot more time.

    As for Bannister, the Nats had seen him two times in a month heading into last night's game. Though they are not a very good team offensively, they still have some good hitters. Seeing a team three times in the span of a month and half and Bannister being able to come out and toss seven innings of three hit, one run ball is impressive indeed. He only struck out one compared to four in his first start, but he has a 0.69 WHIP and a .116 BAA so far. He is doing what we hoped he could do so far and he gets to take on the hot Milwaukee Brewers this Sunday. Outside of JJ Hardy and Carlos Lee, they are not exactly stinging the ball so Bannister could be poised for another solid start. After that, he throws against San Diego, San Francisco, Washington again, and then Atlanta if everyone stays on course. His first real test against a mighty offensive team will have to wait until May 19th when the Mets travel Yankee Stadium.

    I still stand by my original assessment though. When I look at Brian Bannister, he has to prove a lot to me. A guy like Mike Pelfrey or Justin Verlander can come out the gate and look great and we will expect that. Bannister’s stuff is ordinary and he does not have a knack for missing bats. Typically, that is not a great recipe for success, but some people can do it. Maybe Brian is one of those guys, but only time will tell.

    * * *

  • Minor Update:
    • The Tides are on a roll of sorts and made it two in a row against the Buffalo Bisons. Lima Time!™ led the charge by besting a solid pitching prospect in Jake Dittler. Lima Time!™ went six innings, gave up four hits, one earned run, walked no one, and struck out three. Heath Bell came in for the four out save and struck out three of the batters including a bases loaded strikeout in the eight. He now has six strikeouts, no earned runs, no walks, and no hits in 2.1 innings. A very auspicious start indeed. On the offensive end, Lastings Milledge went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk, Chase Lambin went 2 for 4 with two runs scored a double, and a walk, and Sandy Martinez went 1 for 3 with two RBIs.

    • The B-Mets won 8-7 to continue to keep pace with the big league club and upped their record to 5-1 by beating the Reading Phillies, who are keeping up with their big league club by going 1-5 to their 1-6. Evan MacLane gave up the first runs from a B-Mets starter and went five innings while giving up six hits, five earned runs, one walk, one homer, and struck out six. Anderson Garcia blew a save in relief and Orlando Roman picked up the win. Carlos Gomez went 1 for 4 with his fourth stolen base on the year, one run scored, one RBI, and a sacrifice. As for the rest, Jay Caligiuri went 3 for 4 with two runs scored, two doubles, one RBI, and one walk, Corey Ragsdale went 2 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI, Yunir Garcia went 1 for 4 with a run scored, a double, and two RBIs, and Jonathan Slack went 1 for 4 with a run scored, a double, a triple, and an RBI.

    • St. Lucie beat the Daytona Cubs 4-1 to increase their record to 5-1 as well. Mike Pelfrey picked up his first pro win by going six innings giving up four hits, no earned runs, one unearned run, and struck out seven. He is good. Carlos Muniz picked up his third save of the season for his ninth inning work. Ambiorix Concepcion cooled of a bit and pulled an 0 for 4 day at the plate with one run scored. Shawn Bowman went 0 for 2, but picked up two walks, Mike Carp went 1 for 4 with two RBIs, and Jesus Flores went 1 for 4 with a double and an RBI. Up for today? Alay Soler goes for his first win as a professional.

    • Hagerstown continues to make a push for .500 by taking their second game in a row against the Lakewood Blue Claws 3-2. Jon Neise picked up the win and rebounded nicely from his first start. Niese went five innings giving up no earned runs, two unearned runs, three hits, one walk, and struck out five. He brought his ERA down to 3.24 with that solid effort. Joseph Serfass picked up a two inning save for his first of the year. Fernando Martinez went 1 for 3 with a walk, a run scored, and a double to bring his average up to .280. Hector Pellot and Nick Evans both went 0 for 3 with a strikeout and Jose Castro, Rafael Arroyo, and Matthew Anderson each had an RBI.
  • Carlos Beltran may not exactly be a fantasy stud right now, but his eye at the plate is ridiculous. He is showing as good of an eye as I have seen from anyone and is stinging the ball when he makes contact whether they are hits or outs. His .238 average is not indicative of how good he looks. Beltran looks downright scary right now.

  • Delgado wanted no part of Dick.

    "I was doing my routine," Delgado said with a smile. "I happened to be somewhere else. Go figure."

    As for the fans, they seemed to be on Delgado's side and welcomed him with the Roger Cedeno treatment.

    "When you've got 50 percent of America that's Republican, 50 percent that's Democrat, you're probably going to get mixed reviews," Wright said.

  • San Antonio is 'very viable' according to Jeffrey Loria.

    The Marlins must decide if they can generate enough TV revenue in San Antonio, the nation's 37th-largest TV market. Miami-Fort Lauderdale is 17th.

  • Colin Powell, owner of the Washington Nationals? Maybe. Apparently he is part of an investment group looking to buy the Nationals. As for another group looking to land them headed by Tom Lerner, they are having trouble because of the lack of minority investors. While I am all for minority GMs, managers, owners, etc, shouldn't the best ownership group get to buy the team?

  • Mets 3B David Wright has at least one RBI in each of the Mets' first six games, a club record to start a season. ... Nationals 2B Jose Vidro went 0-for-4. He had at least one hit in all seven prior games.

    Nice. So nice in fact, Dayn Perry is already writing sentences that include David Wright and the Hall of Fame.
    Top seasons by third basemen under 23
    Player Year OPS
    Eddie Matthews 1953 1.033
    Eddie Matthews 1954 1.026
    Albert Pujols 2001 1.013
    Dick Allen 1964 .939
    David Wright 2005 .911
    Since most players peak at around age 27, we're getting only strobe-lit glimpses of what Wright is truly capable of. What you're looking at is this: the early hours of a truly great career. Wright's skills, head for the game, knack for staying healthy and devotion to conditioning may serve to make him one of the greatest third basemen ever to play the game. Lest that sound premature, consider what he's already accomplished and what's likely ahead for David Wright.

    Yeah, he's that good.

  • I'm sure this video is all over Mets sites this morning, but I'm late to the game. In case it has not, watch this hysterical and amazing recreating of the end of game six of the 1986 World Series. It was posted on the Soxaholix and also sent to me by Mike M.

  • Enough baseball...this is for Jake.

  • Lastly, another non baseball item, watch this video. Do it.

  • Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    Congratulations Yankee Fans...

    ...since 2001, your team is the newer, more expensive version of the Atlanta Braves.

    Yes, in honor of their home opening day, a little Yankee hating is in order. Of course, Yankee fans can tell me "you jealous shithead, at least we have been there...and we won 26 World Championships while the Mets have embarrassed themselves." You would be right. Sort of.

    First, the Mets didn't spend a billion dollars like the Yankees to field those teams. This year? Much of the same thing. Enormous expectations and an enormous payroll destined to meet with another failure. Any time the Yankees do not win, it is a failure. You cannot spend an average of $163,021,454.33 million over six years and say much about anyone else not making the playoffs. You give anyone that kind of loot to toss around, you pretty much guarantee a trip there.

    Second, for some reason the losers stand out in our minds more as a joke. How many you commend the Buffalo Bills for making four Super Bowls in a row? That is nothing to sneeze at, but people label them choke artists and losers. Who remembers who beat them in each of those Super Bowls? Who cares more about the team that lost?

    Of course, these days I'm over the fact that the Yankees outspend everyone. They have not put the best team on the field in a while despite gargantuan spending and they have added tens of million dollars to revenue sharing for those less fortunate teams. They have signed train wrecks that have completely imploded at an alarming rate. It is definitely true. The richer they are the harder they fall and fall they have. 2006 will be no different and I extend an invite to all Yankee fans to watch the future and some amazing baseball this summer in Queens.

    * * *

  • Minor Update:
    • The Norfolk Tides finally got their first win of the season as they took down good offensive Buffalo Bison team 7-1. Hot prospect Yusaku Iriki got the start for the Tides and pitched a very good five innings for the win. He gave up only one hit while walking two and striking out five. Juan Perez and Tim Lavinge finished the game out by throwing two innings each and striking out three batters a piece. Milledge got on base three times in five at-bats and scored two runs and knocked in two RBIs. He went one for two with a double, a sacrifice, and did his best Jose Guillen impression by getting hit by a pitch twice. If nothing else, Lastings has shown a knack for getting hit by pitches. As for the rest, Jeff Keppinger went 1 for 4 with an RBI, Todd Self played left field and went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored, Joe Hieptas, interestingly enough, played first base and went 2 for 4 with a run scored, Sandy Martinez went 1 for 4 with a homer and three RBIs, and Chris Basak went 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored.

    • Binghamton beat the Reading Phillies 5-0 behind six shut out innings from Bryan Edwards. Ryan Cullen finished the game with a three inning save. Offensively, Brett Harper was a monster again going 2 for 3 with one run scored and two RBIs, Jorge Padilla went 2 for 3 with a walk and an RBI, and Corey Ragsdale went 2 for 4 with solo homerun.

    • The St. Lucie Mets were beating the Daytona Cubs 5-3 when the game was suspended in the ninth inning due to power. Ambiorix Concepcion had a great game going 2 for 3 with a run scored, two stolen bases, one RBI, and two walks. The guy most people either love or hate in Shawn Bowman went 1 for 2 with a run scored and two walks, Ajay Turay went 2 for 4 with a run scored, a double, and an RBI, Jesus Flores went 1 for 3 with a run scored, a walk, and an RBI, and Mike Carp went 1 for 3 with an RBI and a walk. Michael Devaney went four innings, gave up two hits, one earned run, two walks, and struck out four.

    • The Hagerstown Suns beat the Lakewood Blue Claws 8-7. Fernando Martinez continues to hold his own and went 1 for 3 with a walk. He is still looking for his first RBI, but all in all, a nice start for his first exposure to professional baseball so far. Hector Pellot went 1 for 3 with a run scored and a double, Levi Ventura went 3 for 4 with two runs scored, two doubles, and one RBI, and Drew Butera went 2 for 4 with a run scored, two doubles, and two RBIs. Needless to say, it was not a great game for Sun pitching, but German Marte recorded the win after blowing the save in two innings of work and gave up three hits and one earned run while striking out three.
  • Ortizzle gets a four year extension for $12.5 million per year and Derek Lee gets a five year extension for $13 million per year. Both deals seem like pretty good bargains considering what they each bring to their teams.

  • Oh baby. The City Council is playing some hardball and are using poor, unfortunate kids to do it.

    "Shame on them if they think that's okay! Shame on them! Our kids are worth more," thundered Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens).

    Do your kids like to watch baseball? I'm betting they do.

  • Let the bean balls begin. It is a bit nicer out so hopefully Bannister's wildness subsides. He can still come inside without plunking people and hopefully that is the game plan. The other two? Pedro and Zambrano. Zambrano had fifteen hit batters in 2005, which was three off the MLB lead, sixteen in 2004, which was four off the MLB lead and tied with Pedro Martinez, and one off the lead with twenty in 2003. Pedro intentionally comes inside and Victor has no idea where the ball is going. There is a good chance there will be fireworks. Pedor has nuts the size of mangos and is going to brush Guillen back. We've seen it a million times. This will be Zambrano's first start and a bit a wildness would be expected from him since he is wild anyway.

  • The Yankees own the top three salaries in baseball and four of the top six. If you back it up more, they own five of the top eleven. Pedro Martinez is the top Met at thirteenth overall.
  • Monday, April 10, 2006

    Defining Victory

    It is early in the season and it is tough to say any win is a big win. You want to get opening day andstart off on the right foot and you want to win every game obviously, but they are normally not defining moments or truly big wins. However, I think yesterday was. I cannot help but think this team will feed off that win and give them a nice confidence boost.

    Coming into yesterday's game, Dontrelle has started eleven games against the Mets. He won eight of them and lost only one. He has a 1.85 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, a .224 BAA and a 3.82 K/BB during that time. Of all teams that he has thrown at least ten innings too, he has registered against the Mets the 2nd lowest ERA, the fourth lowest WHIP, the third highest K/BB ratio, the fourth lowest BAA out of fifteen teams, and the most wins.

    Coming into the seventh inning yesterday, Willis had only given up three hits while walking no one. He had just completed an eight pitch sixth innings to bring his pitch count to sixty-six. It looked like he could go twelve innings. I was already conceding the loss since the Mets have never been able to beat Dontrelle.

    I was at Shea the first time Dontrelle came into town to pitch against the Mets. It was back on June 26th in 2003 and he was set to take on Aaron Heilman, who was making his first and highly anticipated Major League start. Willis went seven innings, giving up one run and striking out seven. Willis gave up nine hits, but eight of them were singles. Heilman got no help from the defense and gave up five runs, only one was earned.

    Ever since then, the Mets just have been no good against him giving me plenty of reason to start think that 3-2 was a pretty good record and I would still be happy about the way things were going. Enter Paul LoDuca. LoDuca worked out a great at-bat, saw a lot of pitches, and got a single. Carlos Beltran followed that up with similar at-bat that resulted in a single. Next up Carlos Delgado. With a little help from Dan Uggla and a missed double play opportunity, my choice for NL MVP in David Wright came to the plate with two in scoring position. With a little help from Jeremy Hermedia this time, Wright tripled in two runs. Tie game. Wright ended up hitting a sac fly to bring Beltran home and win the game capping off a great comeback against someone the Mets have had a lot of trouble with. Truly a big confidence boost on a day they could not get anything going. I think this win can spring board them into having the mindset that they can do anything.

    * * *

  • Many thought I was being a homer and a bit overzealous by picking Wright for MVP, but I picked the guy who a truly thought would be the last man standing when all the votes were read. He is doing nothing to dismiss that and although I do not envision him hitting 292 RBIs, 32 triples, and 65 homers with a .474 average, but Pujols like numbers with a few less homers and doubles is not out of the question. I think he can hang in there in with him offensively and play stellar defense while developing into this team's leader. I do not think Wright for MVP is so crazy at all.

  • It is shit or get off the pot time for Anderson Hernandez and he squeezed a few out yesterday. With Kaz ready to come back soon after some rehab, now is the time to show he can hold his own offensively. He got two hits off of a tremendous pitcher and he needs to have a solid week or else Kaz will come back to take the spot that originally was supposed to be his and there will not be much of a controversy.

    Either way though, Victor Diaz might get sent down to AAA to make room for Kaz even if A Hern steps it up and some bench room is needed for Kaz. However, even if A Hern does not step it up, A Hern may be more valuable than Diaz on the bench to provide some defense later in the game.

  • Dave Hollander, a self described fan to a much-abused team, has a great article on him reminiscing about the Mets.

  • Minor Update:
    • The Durham Bulls continued to own the Norfolk Tides on Sunday as the two teams went head to head in a double header. In game one the Tides were downed 9-3. Jason Scobie started the game for the Tides and after a solid season in 2005, his 2006 season got off to an inauspicious start. He went four innings and gave up eight hits, five earned runs, one walk, and a homer to earn the loss. Steve Schmoll got touched up in one inning of relief and gave up three runs for a tidy 27.00 ERA. Royce Ring went an inning and gave up one hit while striking out three. On the offensive end, Lastings Milledge went 2 for 4 with two singles, Jeff Keppinger went 2 for 4 with two runs scored, and Chase Lambin went 3 for 4 with a run scored, two doubles, and two RBIs. In game number two, the Tides lost 1-0. Pitching wise, it was a better game as John Maine went six innings for the loss while giving up three hits, one earned run, and two walks while striking out six. Definitely good to see him get off to a good start as he seems like the only hope for the Mets to get something meaningful from the Kris Benson trade. In relief, Heath Bell finished off the shortened game by striking out the side in the seventh. Offensively, it was rough. Norfolk only mustered one hit and one walk. They are now 0-4 on the season.

    • Binghamton beat Akron 5-3 in fifteen innings. Carlos Gomez went 1 for 5 with a walk, Andy Wilson went 2 for 6 with a run scored, Brett Harper went 2 for 6 with one run scored, two doubles, and a walk, Bobby Malek went 2 for 6 with two runs scored, one walk, one RBI, and walk, and Jorge Padilla was the hero of the day by going 2 for 7 with a run scored, a triple, a homer, and four RBIs. Miguel Pinango started the game for the B-Mets impressively enough going five innings giving up four hits and no walks while striking out two to earn the no decision. Henry Owens won the game in relief by recording an astounding six strikeouts in two innings. So far Owens has thrown four innings and not given up a hit, walked one, registered a save and a win, and struck out ten. Not a bad start for someone who is on the big club's radar.

    • Blake Eager got spanked around by Vero Beach as the St. Lucie Mets lost 6-0. Eager went 4.1 innings and gave up nine hits, six earned runs, two walks, and two homeruns. A forgettable game indeed. Ambiorix Concepcion went 1 for 4, Mike Carp went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk, and Jamar Hill went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk.

    • Wrapping up a 1-4 day for the Mets affiliates, Hagerstown lost to Greensboro 3-0. Fernando Martinez went 0 for 4, Nick Evans went 1 for 4, and Hector Pellot went 0 for 4. Jeff Landing started the game and took the loss for the Suns as he went five innings and gave up five hits, one earned run, five walks, and one homerun while striking out seven.
  • Jerry Crasnick has a great article on the importance of left handed relievers in the bullpen. This has often been a point of contention for me because at the sacrifice of carrying a better all around reliever, teams often go for the one dimensional left handed reliever to get tough lefty's out.

    "I'll face the nastiest righty over any lefty," Floyd said. "You've got a better chance. There are guys nowadays who make the team just to come in and get one lefty hitter out a week. As a hitter, it makes you want to puke."

    Puke indeed Cliffy. Don't get me wrong. It makes a lot of sense to carry a left handed reliever or two for obvious reasons, but not if they are inferior to a righty reliever going for the same bullpen roster spot.

    "We'd prefer to have a lefty, but we're not going to force it," said Tampa Bay executive VP Andrew Friedman. "If you're going to have one just to have one -- and the manager is going to go to him just so he can't be second-guessed -- that might not be the best approach."

    Sadly enough, it seems as though some managers mangage to appease the media these days.

    Pittsburgh manager Jim Tracy concedes the obvious -- that it's tempting for managers to overdo matchups out of self-preservation. It's easy to make the knee-jerk, lefty vs. lefty move because you have a convenient answer for reporters during the postgame media session. But that can also be a crutch.

    "I don't believe in building a staff so that it looks right and you can create that cosmetic left-on-left matchup," Tracy said. "Stuff gets big-league hitters out. Not service time. Not age. Not whether you're a right-hander or a left-hander. Stuff."

    In the end, you take skill. The American League has more roster playroom due to the DH and the lack of double switches, however, the National League's roster spots are much more important. To build a deep bench and a deep bullpen, you need to utilize every spot intelligently and not waste it.

    "I love the idea of a situational lefty, but finding guys who are reliable is not very easy," Francona said. "In a perfect world, I think you have a lefty specialist and a lefty reliever for balance. But it's not a perfect world. Not even close."

    Maybe Toronto's lefty bullpen surplus will pay off this summer in the AL East, where Ortiz, Hideki Matsui et al pose a consistent threat from the left side. Then again, Ortiz batted .302 with 46 RBI in 205 at-bats against lefties last season. No matter which pitcher is standing on the mound against Big Papi, it's destined to be a bigger mismatch than Ryan Seacrest dating Teri Hatcher.

  • The bean ball war is set to continue as the Mets travel down to Washington. With Pedro set to pitch in game two, it would shocking for another player to not get hit. The Mets are still up 6-1 and though the last to get hit was a Met, the Nats do not feel like it is over, especially Jose Guillen. Bannister's hits were accidental. There is no two ways about it. Pedro's? Not so much. We'll see how it shakes out, the Mets might need to take a hard one between the numbers and keep their mouths shut so they can get back to baseball and we can stop reading about this.

  • Joel Sherman has been sucking on some exhuast and is a little light headed.

    Unless you count Piniella, that is. The manager-in-waiting had an interview recently in Seattle that sounded suspiciously like campaigning. He spoke of wanting to manage a team that is "serious about winning." Who else could that be?

    Um....a lot of teams. Would you rather Pinella have said he wanted to coach the suckiest bunch of sucks that have ever sucked? He's been there and done that with the Devil Rays and there are more teams than just the Yankees that are "serious about winning".

  • If you want to keep up to date with baseballs best known prospects, subscribe to Baseball America's prospect update that goes out daily.

  • We knew Mike Pelfrey was good in his debut, but he was better than I thought. He needed just 68 pitches to get through six innings.