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

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Scott Kazmir, Fireballing Lefty and All-Around Good Guy

I was perusing the inter-web the other day and came across this little blast from the past.

Thank You, Mets Fans!

By Scott Kazmir August 3, 2004 - Dear Mets Fans,

I would like to thank you for all your support while I was a member of the NY Mets. I was very proud and fortunate to be part of a 1st Class organization. I will never forget the memories from signing, to Brooklyn, Columbia, St. Lucie, to Binghamton and all the friends I made along the way.

I would like to say to all my former coaches, trainers, and teammates...keep in touch, you guys are the best. To the booster clubs that provided their time and support and especially to the fans. Thank you.

When I was drafted, I heard that the NY Fans were passionate about their baseball. I found that to be so true. My parents have also passed along the support everyone has given over the last couple of days and many of you have sent emails and IM to my parents stating your continued support by following me through the new organization. I would like to say that I am very appreciative and honored. I will continue to work hard and not let you down.

Although I am no longer with the Mets organization, and I appreciate your support, I am sure I speak for my other former teammates that have moved on with me by saying it has been fun and an honor to play for the Mets and for fans like you. We will work hard to make it to the majors and make you proud. I have found out first hand that New York Mets fans are like no other.

Thank you for your support,

Scott Kazmir

Classy kid. Most people would have went away and not said much, but he took the time out to write that letter which was a really nice gesture by the then 20 year old Kazmir. He will always be a player Met fans follow and root for. Sniffle..sniffle. He's like the hot x-girlfriend (or x-boyfriend for you ladies...trying be more even keeled here) that you want back, but cannot have.

He currently is sitting in 3rd on ESPN's Cy Young Predictor and sits 3rd in the AL in ERA, 2nd in strikeouts, and 2nd in wins. No, this is not me crying about spilt milk, it's me following a player I like.

* * *

  • According to ESPN.com, Jose Lima is not owned in any of their fantasy leagues. It should be noted that our very own Benny had the cojones (or is it stupidity) to start him versus the Cardinals on his team. Benny is riding high in first place so maybe the euphoria of being on top released too many endorphins and led to his cloudy judgment. Either way Benny, we all salute you.

  • Wow.

    Danny Almonte has grown up.

    The former Bronx Little League pitcher whose being two years over the maximum age invalidated his team's Little League World Series run is now a 19-year-old pitching prospect likely to be selected in the baseball amateur draft, scheduled for June 6-7.

    He's also a recently married man -- and to an older woman.

    The New York Daily News reported Friday that Almonte married Rosy Perdomo, 30, a Manhattan hair stylist, in a City Hall ceremony last fall.

    "She's special," Almonte told the Daily News. "My family is happy for me."

    Big mistake Danny. To be young and have cash...

    "It was weird," he told the newspaper of the wedding. "You have to accept it. Everybody was happy for them. He's a nice boy."

    Not quite rousing endorsement from his cousin.

  • Bronson Arroyo let's the Pirates have it.

    "I felt like I was embarrassed to get behind 4-1 early in a game like that," said Arroyo, who joined the Reds in a spring training trade with the Boston Red Sox. "It's not a secret. They don't have a bunch of All-Stars in that lineup. They had seven righties up there, which is tailor-made for me. I was embarrassed to be beaten by those guys.

    "That's not to say you can't be beat on any given day, but I thought it was a horse (crap) outing, especially against a team like that. I mean, they are one of the weakest teams in baseball. That's just the way it is. If I gave up four runs in six innings to the Yankees, I probably wouldn't be embarrassed, but I was."

    Why stop there?

    "If I can't stand on the mound and feel comfortable against that lineup, then something's wrong with me," he said.

    Why not just keep going and rip into your own team a bit?

    "I'm not disrespecting anybody. I'm just stating the facts," he said. "We don't have a lights-out rotation here. We don't have a lights-out bullpen. That's just a fact. We don't have a busload of guys that are Randy Johnsons. We don't have anybody in our rotation that's a Randy Johnson. That's just the way it is.

    "If the Yankees were playing us and they said they were embarrassed to be beat by Dave Williams, Bronson Arroyo and Brandon Claussen, hey, I'm not going to take offense to it. I know these are three guys the Yankees shouldn't be beaten by. I don't think I should be beaten by a lineup that sends seven righties at me and doesn't have a lot of juice in its lineup or whatever you want to call it."

    I love a good tirade.

  • From DG:

    Hey, I think someone called me a moron in the comments section yesterday. How did they know?

    From this morning’s Virginian-Pilot:

    Days like this lead to odd happenings. By the seventh inning, the Tides turned to backup catcher Joe Hietpas to pitch. One of his fastballs hit 93 mph on the speed pitch gun. He was consistently in the 90s.

    “Everything that happened today was odd,” Hietpas said. “I had no idea I could throw 93. The last time I pitched, I was 15 and playing junior varsity American Legion ball in Wisconsin.”

    There was no velocity reading given on Ray Naverette, but we probably don’t want to know.

    Good info from DG and I have no idea how they knew you were a moron...lucky guess maybe? As for Hieptas, get that man out from behind the plate. A little work and maybe he'll be Henry Owens part II. The good lord knows he cannot hit.

  • Ouch. I guess everyone can be wrong now and then.

    Q: LF from The Crane Pool Forum asks:
    Pitchers Justin Verlander, Philip Humber & Jeff Niemann were picked in consecutive order in last year's draft - #'s 2, 3, & 4 overall - and all, because they signed late, have essentially not yet thrown a pro pitch. Yet they turn up in very different places in the Top-100 list (Neimann = #20; Humber = #50; and Verlander not even on the list). What's the thought process behind the wide disparity?.

    A: John Manuel: Niemann has the best combination of size, stuff and track record of those three; I personally don't think it's close. Humber performed better in 2004 as he was healthy when Niemann wasn't, and I admit I'm not holding his injuries (arthroscopic elbow surgery, groin pull) against him. Humber isn't far behind for me, I just don't think he has the makeup to be a No. 1 starter, and I think Niemann does, makeup and stuff. His ceiling is true No. 1 for me, Humber's is not. Verlander is just a completely different guy. He couldn't even dominate the Colonial Athletic Association. He throws harder than those guys and has nasty stuff of his own, but I don't see the aptitude or the makeup. For me, Verlander is a high-risk, high-reward pick, and I'm wary of the risk and wary of his track record.

  • Best game ever?
    "We never roll over."
    ~David Wright
    Last night’s game was as good as it gets…at least if you are a Met fan. As much as I dread this time of year, that game was an amazing piece of baseball for each fan base. The starters predictably got lit up and Jeremi Gonzalez did not look like he would make it past two innings giving the Yankees and unthinkable diet of straight fastballs. How anyone thought he would be successful throwing 90 mph and down the plate against that team is anyone’s guess, but it worked out as the Mets offense led by Carlos Beltran and Xavier Nady homeruns kept the Mets in the game. Aaron Heilman was absolutely devastating in relief and relied on what I use to call one of the best off speed pitches in the bigs with Trevor Homan’s generally setting the standard, but Heilman looks like he owns that crown now. If you have seen a better one, let me know. That pitch would undoubtedly be categorized as an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale.

    With Heilman’s stellar performance, Gary Cohen echoed sentiments running through my head at the time which is why Aaron Heilman is so important in the bullpen, but those three dominant innings left me wanting more. Those three innings left me wanting to see this kid get 200 innings to see what he can do. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Ask any GM who is more important, your third best reliever or your third best starter? Obviously it is not an open and shut case. If you have a deep rotation and weak bullpen it is your third reliever that is more important. However, I think we know what the Mets situation is and what should be more important at this point.

    Leading up to the game, you heard about it just being another game for both sides. However, if anything tells me that the Yankees wanted to win badly, it was Joe Torre using Mariano Rivera on the road in a tie game. Just another game to you? Please. The game turned into a battle of the closers and Billy Wagner came in and blew away Jason Giambi, blew away Alex Rodriguez, and finally blew away Kelly Stinett emphatically with a 98 mph fastball that put an explanation point on probably the Mets four best innings of relief put up in 2006. Then, in what was the sweetest way to win the ballgame, Mariano Rivera allowed two runners to reach and with two outs and David Wright at the plate, Wright won the game with a shot over Johnny Damon’s head. Our golden boy beating their legendary closer with our closer being as dominant as it gets.

    "The kid at third," Torre had been saying in the Yankee dugout before the game, "isn't just going to be a star. He's going to be a superstar."

    As soon as it became a battle of the bullpens, I knew the Mets had the upper hand and my hunch (and probably everyone else's hunch as well) ended up being right. The Mets need to take five of nine on this rough stretch and they have two wins so far and need to take three more.

  • Ken Rosenthal wonders whether or not Tom Glavine will be the last pitcher to win 300 games.

    Only two years ago, people were debating whether right-handers Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux might be the last pitchers to win 300 games.

    Now, here's Mets left-hander Tom Glavine looking like he could be the last pitcher to reach the milestone.

    Earlier this season, Maddux told reporters with a chuckle, "There's probably a 12-year-old kid pitching somewhere right now who'll do it."

    The answer is yes, someone will win 300 again. If nothing else, guys like Albert Pujols come along and set a new standard at such a young age. There will be a guy who comes along and does it for sure. While 15 games a year for 20 years sounds daunting, it will be done, but it will be few and far between from here on out.

  • Carl Pavano might miss the rest of the 2006 season.

    The $39.95 million med-student's dream will undergo surgery next week to remove a bone chip above his right elbow, the Yankees revealed before last night's loss to the Mets.

    It is the latest in a year-long series of setbacks for Pavano, who hasn't pitched since June 27, 2005, due to shoulder, back, buttocks and arm injuries.

    Wow. Not much else to say. What an disaster for the Yankees between the money they owe to him and Randy Johnson.

  • Bowden is hitting the crack pipe a little too hard.

    The Mets, desperate for pitching help, are discovering that the price of upgrading their rotation will be steep. First the Marlins asked for David Wright in a swap for Dontrelle Willis. And if the Mets want Livan Hernandez, the Nationals say it will cost them Lastings Milledge.

    Two baseball officials confirmed Friday that the Mets were told any deal for Hernandez must include Milledge, their top prospect, and that pretty much ended the discussion. At least for now.

    Umm, that ends that discussion forever actually.

    Minaya also is becoming more open-minded to solutions he didn't seriously consider before, such as moving Aaron Heilman back into the rotation or promoting Mike Pelfrey or Alay Soler from Double-A Binghamton. Pelfrey (0-1, 4.15 ERA) is scheduled for his fifth start there Saturday, and a good outing could nudge Minaya to pull the trigger.

    "He's always been an option," Minaya said. "I'm not going to rule anything out."

    If it will cost Milledge for marginal pitchers, the in-house options will be looked at and I'm glad Omar is at least mulling that over. That is very encouraging in my mind and the Mets really might not have a choice.

  • Hey Heath. In case you were wondering? They don't like you.

    Anderson Garcia from Triple-A Norfolk. Garcia, 25, was 1-0 with a 1.26 ERA in eight appearances for the Tides and opponents were batting .170 against him.

    Garcia is a hard throwing right-hander and I am interested in seeing what he can do. If someone can step up in the bullpen, maybe Aaron will be freed.

    "I think everybody knows my position hasn't changed," he said after David Wright hit a drive to the centerfield wall in the bottom of the ninth. "I've expressed my desire to have the opportunity to get back in the rotation."

    I would not put anything past him if he gets his shot to be a very successful pitcher because this kids wants it bad.

  • Some news on the international front:

    The Yankees and Mets could be battling each other again in July, this time for the 16-year-old son of Yankees first-base coach Tony Pena.

    Both teams are among several who have shown interest in Francisco Pena, a catcher in the Dominican Republic who seems likely to receive a seven-figure signing bonus once he becomes eligible to sign on July 2. The Yankees and Atlanta Braves have flown Francisco to the U.S. for workouts, and Mets general manager Omar Minaya is believed to have contacted him personally.

    We know the Mets will be active on the international front this year and with them not spending first round money, they can spend a lot on the top talent from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. Also, from the above link:

    The Yankees have also scouted Preston Mattingly, the 18-year-old son of Yankees hitting coach Don Mattingly. A speedy shortstop in Evansville, Ind., the younger Mattingly could go in the top 10 rounds of the draft and has accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Tennessee.
  • Friday, May 19, 2006

    I'm Sick

    I'm sick of Jose Lima worrying about not getting calls.

    I'm sick of Jose Lima making a scene and trying to make it look like he is not at fault for horrible performances.

    I'm sick of getting IMs from my 'friends' that are Yankee fans that say 'Lima! Lima! Lima!'. It's sad that Met fans even need to watch him much less take abuse about him.

    I'm sick of seeing Jose Lima. Now that Bannister is not coming back to replace either Lima Time! or Jeremi Gonzalez, we get to watch the Mets have no shot in at least one more game from Lima Time! because I doubt the Mets make a move. But don't worry, our bullpen is fantastic. You cannot even touch Darren Oliver, who could not possibly be worse than Lima Time!, and use him in a spot start or two until something, anything better than Lima Time! comes along.

    In the immortal words of Jay Mohr, "what are we going to do about this?" Or for my Spanish speaking friends, que hacir con esto? Mr. Mohr may have used it in a different context, but the point is that there is a situation that needs to be..um...rectified. When Bannister went down, Keith Hernandez said he would not be back in four weeks. Unfortunately, he was right. Bannister is in trouble still and is now probably a few more weeks away even if he was going to take the mound next week and has John Maine even picked up a baseball? Not that those guys are the plugs for the holes in a leaky rotation, but they are something.

    Alay Soler has been dominant in his eight starts this season. He has a 3-0 record with a 1.51 ERA, 5.29 h/9, 10.20 k/9, 0.82 WHIP, and 4.91 K/BB. I'm not going to get into obvious reasons that everyone has already gone over as to why the 26 year old is a better choice than Jose Lima. With no possibility of a trade between now and Lima's next start, there seems to be only one clear cut choice that does not have anything to do with breaking up the precious bullpen and it seems like a logical choice that really needs to be looked at.

    * * *

  • I found a worse decision than trading Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano. Paul McCartney being worth $1.56 billion and not having Heather Mills sign a pre-nup because it was 'unromantic' (neither is anal sex, but people do it).

    Lawyer Mark Stephens of Finers, Stephens and Innocent told Reuters: "Heather and the child need to be looked after financially. I think you are looking at 150 million to 200 million pounds ($283-377 million)."

    "She is the child of a Beatle and they have to live in a cosseted and protected environment," he said, recalling the killing of John Lennon by a crazed fan and the attempt on the life of George Harrison.

    Four year of marriage! FOUR YEARS! That is some expensive ass. Yes, she got accustomed to a certain lifestyle in those four years, but the woman is not four years old. She seemed to get by well enough for the first 34 years of her life.

  • It's the Subway Series...WHOO!

    Bob Klapisch lines out his reasons why this weekend series will be interesting here.

    John Delco lists out his top ten moments in the Subway Series here.

    George King and Mark Hale go over the Mets and Yankees to see who has the edge at which position.

    I personally do not look forward to this time of the year. Why do I dread it? I just do. I hate having to interact with Yankee fans on any level, much less on a baseball level. Those smug bastards like the smell of their own farts and feel the need to remind everyone how many championships the Yankees have won and continually make comments like they did not know New York had another team. Going to games between the both teams has a nice playoff atmosphere, but having to endure Yankee fans for an entire game gets old quickly.

    Last week, I was talking to a Yankee fan and one thing that struck me as bizarre while having the conversation. Apparently, some Yankee fans think that Met fans get mad because the Yankee fans do not care about the Mets. According to them, it angers us that the Yankees and the their fans could care less about what the Mets do while the Met fans care a lot about what the Yankees do.

    1) This thought never crossed my mind and I hate the Yankees and their fans as much as anyone.
    2) The Yankee fans love to serve up a healthy dose of superiority when it comes to Met fans and keep up to date on the Mets so they can do it.

    Here is an IM conversation between one of them and myself.

    my 'friend' the Yankee fan: heilman looked sharp (this was after the 1st game against the Phillies that he made the error that allowed the winning run to cross)

    me: easy big guy. everyone makes an error. your parents had you, didn't they?

    Not only was that unsolicited, but I detected quite a bit of sarcasm. Yankee fans indeed care about the Mets if only for fodder to try and make us feel bad. Of course 75% of the Yankee fans are casual fans and could not care less about their own team much less the Mets. While I do not particularly care for this time of year, I do try and make the best of it and pray the Mets win and the only thing that is keeping me going at this point is the fact that Pedro and Glavine are slated to start. If it is going to happen, you might as well have your best on the mound.

    Here is an email from The Metropolitans Mailbag:

    Metsfan1: Mike, How long does it take for a suave male Met fan to get to fifth base with a female Yankee fan?

    Me: One date, and you don't even have to buy dinner.

  • Alan Schwartz does an interview with Mark Texeira for Baseball America.

    AS: I know that part of your thinking was to minimize your time in the minor leagues.

    MT: Definitely. The minor leagues is no fun--it is absolutely no fun. Three years in the minors would have been torture for me. When I decided not to sign out of high school, there was almost a plan set out--go to college, have the three best years of your life, which I did, be a high first-round pick, get a huge bonus, which I did, play one year in the minors, get yourself honed with a wood bat and professional baseball, which I did, and go to the big leagues and everything

    AS: But you're the shining example of how well it can turn out. What if it doesn't?

    MT: Well, that's the thing--if it doesn't work out, wouldn't you rather have a college education than have nothing? That money, I don't care how much you sign for, it's going to be gone eventually. I'd rather be happy with a college education and not have a bonus than be unhappy without a college education and saying, "What did I do with the last eight or nine years of my life?"

    I talk to kids at Georgia Tech. I talk to kids in my high school, kids all over the place, parents. Because when it comes to the draft, I've been through the worst of it and I've been through the best of it.
  • Thursday, May 18, 2006

    Willie Ball

    It is amazing how a guy who was once welcomed to New York with a headline of "Clueless Joe" on the back pages is now going to be a Hall of Fame manager. Of course, an argument could still be made that he is in fact clueless, but for the most part, he is held in very high regard.

    The Mets hired Willie Randolph to manage their team last season and a large part was due to the fact that he was involved with the Yankee organization and was the bench coach for Joe Torre. Despite the fact that the first Torre disciple Lee Mazzilli was widely considered to be overmatched as a manager, the Mets rolled the dice with Willie who had even less experience on the bench.

    He proved to be a poor strategist and made a lot of mistakes, but they were chalked up to rookie mistakes. I'm of the mind that you hire guys for your managerial spot who actually have managed, but the Mets liked Willie and still do. This year, Willie has not been nearly as bad. However, the team has been vastly improved and with the starting lineup etched in stone and the best bullpen in the National League, it's been hard for Willie to make errors.

    Despite a seemingly mistake proof team, Willie has still failed to adjust to the National League style of play. Last year he mishandled the bullpen, the bench, and strategic moves. He would have made a fine American manager where the bench and small ball are not quite as important, but so far this year, he has not learned the nuances of the sacrifice bunt, the hit-and-run, and the use of his bench has just been egregious.

    No matter the situation, Jose Valentin is the first guy off the bench. These last few games withstanding, Valentin had been horrible. He has struck out 36% of the time when he has come up to pinch hit and that is not exactly a good trait for a pinch hitter. I understand that Chavez and Woodward are being kept around since they are ideally to be used for double switches, but I'm not one for keeping your guns in the holster if you have a good chance to go for the win at the moment. It is unthinkable that Chris Woodward has three pinch hits in nearly forty games. You can like Valentin, but why not get everyone work? If Woodward does not start, he does not play.

    As for the bullpen, despite it being extremely hard to mess up when everyone is pitching well, you can still find complaints. Misery Loves Company's Whitney had something to say about it the other day.

    His use of Wagner only in pure closer situations has garnered some abuse, but first keeping Sanchez – a guy who thrives on work – on the pine for four or five nights, then failing to note his hideous struggle and give him a quick mercy-yank (Rob received more than one of in college) just looked inept. Everyone in the park knew Duaner wasn’t even close to his normal lights-out well before he got lit up.

    Willie has without a doubt been better this year thanks to Omar. It is not an easy job to keep your bullpen fresh while getting everyone regular work on the mound, trying to manufacture runs, and maximizing the potential of guys who are not good enough to start in the bigs, but that is what separates good managers from bad ones and good ones from great ones. This year’s divisional and playoff race is not going to be a runaway affair for Mets and every game counts. While I understand managers make mistakes, good managers are able to keep them to a minimum. Yes, he has been better, but still has ways to go before he proves to be a good National League manager.

    * * *

  • Mulder was just dealing last night so it is hard to complain about that loss, but when your pitcher goes out and does the same, it hurts. Trachsel was great and gave the Mets a chance to win, but with the bases loaded and Cliff Floyd up, I had a sinking feeling.

    "I didn't hit anything square tonight," Floyd said. "It's frustrating, not just because I didn't get any hits, but because we had the chance to win the game."

    Willie took a gamble and played for the tie on the road, which is against the book, by bunting Reyes over to third with no outs. It may have not been what everyone does, but I do get the move. With Mulder just rolling over the Mets and in his last inning, Randolph was trying to make it a battle of the bullpens and the Mets would have had the clear advantage. It did not quite work out the way he planned with a sac fly, but the Mets had two shots with the bases loaded to take the lead. With David Wright up at the plate, I felt like there was a chance. After he struck out, I felt like there was no chance.

    "I'm not going to platoon Cliff," Randolph barked. "If he struck out four times [Tuesday] that would be different."

    I wrote the other day that Floyd should sit against all lefties, and he should. In a game like last night where one run was so huge, you cannot afford to have a black hole in the lineup. Floyd should also be dropped in the order in favor of Nady and he should at least be dropped if he is starting against a lefty. Nady has left a lot to be desired with runners in scoring position, but I would rather roll the dice with him. He at least does not look lost.

  • Speaking of pitchers who were just dealing last night, Justin Verlander threw eight shut out innings. What is interesting about Verlander's game is that he struck out no batters. While in the bigs, he has not been big strikout pitcher for someone who throws so hard and I just want to point that out because some have been critical of Mike Pelfrey and his strikeout numbers. Some expressed concern about Pelfrey not being a strikeout pitcher, but with a guy who's bread and butter is a hard sinking fastball, your game is won with the ground ball and that is how Pelfrey is going to be with the Mets. Figure on a 6.00 k/9 with a lot of groundballs and still a monster.

  • The understatement of the year goes too.......Lima Time!

    "I don't want to have pressure. My other two starts it was one pitch here, one pitch there, and a couple of tough calls. I just want to stay away from the umpires. Just let them call whatever they want, because I'm not going to win that battle."

  • Here is a fluff piece on Tom Glavine or your reading enjoyment.
  • Wednesday, May 17, 2006

    A Look at Lastings

    The one and only Jake in Norfolk wrote an article on Lastings Milledge for Portfolio Weekly.

    Even though the link he thought was to my site takes you to Ace Auto Glass, it is the thought that counts. Overall his article is a great read though he had a tough time cracking Milledge for some quotes. He did however get some great information from Tony Tijerina and Howard Johnson that gives us a lot of insight to Milledge since Lastings himself was not helping Jake's cause out.

    "He’s great," Johnson said. "He’s got a real knowledge of what he’s trying to do as a hitter. For a young player that’s pretty rare. He’s got an idea of what he wants to hit, and what pitchers are trying to do to him. Really, that’s kind of what my job is at this level is to help him recognize patterns and what pitchers are trying to do to him, how they’re setting him up from at-bat to at-bat, to try to get him ready for the big leagues…. One thing I can say about Lastings that he is off the charts with is that you can fool him once with a pitch, and you’ll rarely fool him twice, but you’re never going to get him three times…. He’s got a very quick bat, a short stroke, and he attacks the ball in the strike zone."

    You always hear about New York teams needing to not only get guys with talent, but the right personalities that enable them to handle the big stage in the biggest sports town. Lastings seems like he is up for the challenge.

    "One thing about him that separates him from probably 99 percent of the guys," Johnson continued, "is that he will turn it up a notch competitively. The bigger the spot, the bigger his focus. He’s able to get real quality at-bats. It doesn’t always end in a base hit but you know you’re going to get the best shot right there. Whenever it’s a big spot for us, he’s a guy you definitely want up there.

    You can tell by the way his coaches were gushing about him that this kid is indeed special.

    Awesome stuff Jake.

    As for Lastings and his play of late, it has been leaving a lot to be desired. However, muliple baseball experts said Lastings needed to go through a stretch like this to make him a better player down the line. "Let the improvements Milledge is making sink in, and give him some time at Norfolk. He is not going to hit .400 all season, so he needs to go through a slump and work through that," said Matt Meyers of Baseball America during a chat. A slump was what he needed to get better according to most and a slump is what he has. Now he just has to work out of it.

    Milledge through the first thirteen games of the season:
    44 9 6 1 4 6 3 7 4 .386/.491/.636
    Milledge through the next thirteen games of the season:
    45 6 1 1 2 12 4 7 3 .311/.483/.378
    Milledge through the last thirteen games of the season:
    44 10 6 2 4 7 1 18 4 .136/.309/.295
    Milledge carried over a 1.000 OPS for a while during this season and he started off at such a blistering pace, anything else was going to be a huge disappointment, but he has tailed off significantly. Despite him dropping off, there are still plenty of positives. If you take out his hit by pitches and just focus on his walks, he put up an ISoD of .065 in the first third of the season, .145 in the second third, and .119 in the last third. He might not be hitting, but he is maintaining an impressive walk rate. Furthermore, he scored the most runs out of any third of the season during his worst stretch of games. Even though he is not hitting, he is still contributing to his ball club.

    As of last night, Milledge was batting .278 and his average has only been .278 or below for four games this season not including last night. Being that he has played in 39 games, that is nothing short of amazing and he still owns a .866 OPS and .429 OBP. Now is not the time to get sour on the kid because he still has shown a lot even when he is slumping. The mark of truly great and valuable player is how they contribute to their team while they are slumping and Lastings has still been doing his part. He kind of reminds me of Carlos Beltran in that way because Beltran has shown us a lot of those traits too. Milledge just sat for the first time the other day to give him a rest and it is only a matter of time before he gets started again.

    * * *

  • If you watched the pre-game show on SNY yesterday, you saw a dejected Floyd. Seriously, the guy sounds really, really down in the dumps and according to Floyd, he is a big confidence guy. By this time, we already knew that about him, but to hear him talk sounds like he has not one ounce of the stuff in his body.

    Steve Popper has Floyd covered here.

  • I'm not a big fan of hitting batters on purpose, but David Eckstein needs a Duaner Sanchez fastball between the letters. After leaning into Glavine's pitch to start the game, a message needs to be sent. If the umpires want to reward that kind of bush league crap, then the Mets need to take care of that themselves. It was ridiculous and that's the kind of stuff that will get hurt.

  • Despite hitting a bad patch, the Mets are holding tight at number four on the Baseball Prospectus Hit List.

    Beware of Lima Time: their NL East lead has dwindled to a single game as the Mets have lost five of seven since activating Jose Lima (9.31 ERA and 19 baserunners in 9.2 innings). Even with a rotation decimated by injuries, Willie Randolph and Omar Minaya refuse to consider Aaron Heilman for a start. Heilman's part of a bullpen that's third in the NL in Reliever Expected Wins Added (3.304), which is worth something, but with the way this team is dredging up starters, expect Minaya to start fawning over scouting reports on Dwight Gooden from the Florida Prison League soon.

    Beware of Lima Time! indeed and we get to see him at least one more time. Of course the Mets have exactly zero options outside of Aaron Heilman at this point so it is hard to criticize keeping him in there for now, but you can certainly criticize how they got to this point. Injuries aside, there were gambles taken and they were lost.

    The Mets dropped to eighth and one spot behind the Yankees on CBSSportsline's Power Rankings.

    The rotation showed its vulnerability last week on a tough road trip. Things won't get any easier at St. Louis and vs. the Yankees this week. This stretch is a rest test for them.

    But to totally discredit them, the Phillies are listed at number two. NUMBER TWO!!

  • The Mets have two guys amongst baseball's greatest showman according to FoxSports.com. It does not suprise me that Pedro Martinez checks in at number one and Lima Time! checks in at number ten.

    I knew there was no way Lima Time! was human.

  • This seriously explains a lot.

  • Why?

    Next Thursday, Mike Francesa and Chris Russo will call the Mets' game on WFAN as part of a special promotion for charity.

    Let's see. Two guys who hate the Mets calling a Mets game. Was Michael Kay not available? I'm just curious how WFAN sees this as a good thing. You'll have these two idiots making up facts throughout the entire game and no doubt mentioning the Yankees no less than twenty times.

    UPDATE: I'm a dumb piece o' shit. I forget the Mets were actually playing the Yankees when I wrote that, so yes, the Yankees should get mentioned pretty often. That is going to be one biased broadcast though.

  • The Mets picked up Tommy Glavine and got him a win. The Mets have lost so many wins for Glavine since his arrival and could have easily had at about 290 wins under different circumstances, but the 2006 Mets will do a much better job of picking him up.

    "We owed him this win," said Lo Duca. "He arguably could be 8-0."

    With this tough stretch of nine games they are in, the Mets are looking to go 5-4 in a perfect world. So far, they are 1-0 with four more wins to go.

  • Brian Bannister will start agasint the Toledo Mud Hens for the Tides tomorrow and if all goes well, he should rejoin the rotation and bump Lima Time!

  • Here how it is shaking out for the Mets versus the Yankees this weekend.

    Game #1: Jeremi Gonzalez vs. the Big Unit
    Gonzo has a 5.40 ERA, .263 BAA, and a 1.00 WHIP with one game under his belt this year and the Big Nasty has a 5.13 ERA, .265 BAA, and 1.31 whip. As a team, the current Mets are batting .231/.293/.312 against him, but they have done pretty well against him in the past as a franchise. They do not have Joe McEwing and his Big Nasty owning skills aboard anymore, but I think they will manage and this game is hardly a lost game and could be a very high scoring affair.

    Game #2: Pedro Martinez vs. Mike Mussina
    Pedro is Pedro. He has been susceptible to the long ball this year, but I would choose him ten times out of ten in a big spot. This season, Mussina is having a great year. He has a 2.56 ERA, .222 BAA, and 1.01 WHIP with a 6-1 record. Mussina has about 100 different pitches and as a team, the Mets are batting .214/.266/.424 gainst him. Not pretty and a few runs should win this.

    Game #3: Tom Glavine vs. ????
    Really, I think Glavine is going to pick them apart. He gave up three runs last night but how he handled Pujols was so impressive, I have all the faith in the world that he will put up a stellar performance. Sunday is Shawn Chacon's spot in the rotation for the Yankees, but he has a boo-boo on his shin. They could move Chien-Ming Wang up or use Aaron Small for a spot start if he cannot go, but does it matter? Glavine will be an unstoppable force.

    With Sheffield down, Matsui out, and no DH, I'm feeling very confident about this weekend's series. I'm feeling the Mets take two of three and I'm predicting that Mike shouts some expletives at Yankee fans on Sunday.

  • Huh?

    Never mind that $12 million club option for 2007 that the Mets included in left-hander Tom Glavine's restructured contract: There is little chance the team will exercise it.

    The Mets have agreed informally to decline the option if Glavine wants to return to the Braves next season, according to a source with knowledge of his contract.

    The restructured deal also includes a "poison pill," FOXSports.com has learned – a $3 million bonus if Glavine makes the All-Star team in '06 and '07 and a $2 million bonus if he makes it only in '07.

    I guess Glavine being a Met in 2007 is no slam dunk and seeing him run back off to the Braves would be weird for sure. The fans still boo him like he actually did something other than want to come back and play, but he's still a Brave. That's not to say the Mets have no shot at retaining him in '07.

    Thanks to the All-Star bonuses, Glavine's club option with the Mets could be worth $14 million or $15 million — both prohibitive numbers. If the Mets want to keep Glavine, they almost certainly would negotiate a new deal at a lower salary.

    If the Mets can make it deep into the playoffs with an eye towards improving the team next off-season while the Braves simply cannot match up, I would be surprised if he did leave.

  • From FoxSports.com:

    Some scouts believe that Mets Double-A outfielder Carlos Gomez has even more upside than Triple-A outfielder Lastings Milledge, the team's top prospect. Gomez, however, is not close enough to the majors to make the Mets comfortable about trading Milledge. Playing in Double-A at age 20, he's struggling with a .582 on-base/slugging percentage.

    I'm going to make a bold statement. Fernando Martinez will be ready for the bigs quicker than Carlos Gomez will be.

  • For the first time this season, no Mets are on Baseball American's Prospect Hot Sheet.

  • Some notes from BA's Daily Dish:
    • Craig Hansen made a start for the Pawtucket Red Sox the other day and went four innings while allowing five hits, no walks, no runs, and struck out four.

      Though they say it is because they want to get him more work to develop his arsenal, you have wonder if John Papelbon is factoring into things. The Red Sox still maintain that Papelbon is going to be starter down the line, but this does at least present options.

    • Some Fernando Martinez news...

      The Mets' Fernando Martinez has gone on the disabled list with a strained left thumb ligament. The 17-year-old was off to a fantastic start for low Class A Hagerstown and is hitting .322/.391/.492. He is expected to be back in a week.

      Good stuff.

  • Tuesday, May 16, 2006

    Free Heath Bell?

    Every so often, I start to doubt myself. I look at a player's stats, watch him a few times, and do some number crunching and I come to a conclusion. This guys sucks, I like this guy, etc. Heath Bell has been an unhealthy obsession for a lot of people. Free Heath Bell! Free Heath Bell! I've written about him here before, Ricardo has written about him at Metsgeek.com, and I had written about him at Metsgeek.com back in December again.

    There were countless other blurbs, but those were the meaty posts about him. I must admit, I started to waiver a bit lately. In what could be deemed as sacrilegious in the Metsgeek.com circle of writers, I questioned if Heath Bell had any relevance to this Mets club. However, Baseball Prospects has joined me in my desire to see this guy get another chance to succeed at the big league level. Prior to the 2005 season, BP had written this:

    While Bell is expected to crack the Opening Day roster, he’s likely to be low on Willie Randolph’s initial pecking order due to his limited big-league experience. While GM Omar Minaya and Owner Fred Wilpon deserve credit for landing the free-agent market’s two marquee players in Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez, support players like Bell figure to play a pivotal role in determining the team’s success this season.

    Bell’s projected breakout is earned through the jump in his playing time as a full-time member of the pen. His ability to miss bats — he fanned 122 batters in 102 Triple-A innings in 2003 and 2004 — and throw strikes (just 31 walks in those same 102 innings) translated well to the majors late last year, and figure to do so again in 2005. With a good mix of a low-90s fastball, darting slider, and a change-up, he’s got the repertoire to succeed. Possible warning sign: five homers allowed in 24.1 innings with the Mets last year.

    A removed facial policy and a baseball season later, you could have polished up the blurb and published it again before the season.

    While Bell is expected to crack the Opening Day roster, he’s likely to be low on Willie Randolph’s initial pecking order due to his limited big game experience. While GM Omar Minaya and Owner Fred Wilpon deserve credit for bringing in more marquee players this year in Carlos Delgado, Billy Wanger, and Paul LoDuca, support players like Bell figure to play a pivotal role in determining the team’s success this season as Aaron Heilman is due to make a move into the starting rotation (mind you this was before the season).

    After writing about him a few days ago on the 12th, it seems as though BP just cannot shake the big guy from their minds as they brought him up yet again.

    What do you think it’s like for a guy like Heath Bell, who has pitched well in Triple-A for a while now, and intermittently well at the major-league level, to get sent down whenever he has consecutive bad appearances while watching Scott Erickson making three hundred grand again on nothing but wishes? Erickson isn’t one of the 340 best pitchers in the world right now; I could make a strong case that he’s not a legitimate Triple-A pitcher, either.

    They think enough of him to keep him on their radar and use him in an article unrelated to him. It all somehow validates my thoughts on the guy and makes me think maybe I'm not crazy. It is not often that Baseball Prospectus keeps writing about minor league relievers and Heath Bell has gotten decent amount of ink for them so they obviously still think something is there too.

    * * *

  • Chats, chats, and more chats.

    From Jerry Crasnick's:

    Craig (PA): Simple Solution, Floyd for Odalis Perez. Dodgers get the OF they need, Mets get a pitcher and both can bring up their prospects (Milledge and Billingsly).

    SportsNation Jerry Crasnick: Craig,

    Not a bad idea. Let's post it and see if Omar Minaya and Ned Colletti have logged on today.

    I'm not a big Odalis fan, but it warrants a discussion.

    From Buster Olney's:

    Justin (Springfield, NJ): Buster: How much blame does Omar Minaya deserve for the lack of depth in the Mets rotation. He spent a lot of money, but seemed to neglect the rotation.

    Buster Olney: Justin: I think he took a calculated gamble, and so far it hasn't worked out -- going into Sunday's game, their No. 4 and 5 starters were 0-4, 6.61 since April 22. They're hoping to patch and fill until Bannister gets back, and hoping Pelfrey does a better job with his off-speed stuff. I think the Phillies' play will have a lot to do with how quickly the Mets go to Plan B, which would be to trade for more rotation help.

    Buster Olney: And, by the way, yes, they have poked around already on a possible Livan Hernandez deal.

    Those were some interesting tidbits from Buster.

    Yanal, NY: Buster, Floyd looks completely lost at the plate. Any possible way the mets could include him in a trade and bring up Milledge this year?

    Buster Olney: Yanal: You figure this will be part of the conversation they have -- your scenario is very legit -- and the fact that they bumped Cliff to No. 2 to try to get him going reflects some serious concern.

    Serious indeed.

    mike (holyoke): what's your take on hamels? will he be able to help philly?

    Buster Olney: Mike: Talked to an evaluator who saw him in the last two weeks, and the guy thinks Hamels will be amongst the best NL pitchers within weeks -- and the best pitcher the Phillies have, including Brett Myers.

    Hamels is a large part of the reason I'm concerned about the Phillies. Rookie pitchers are not that dependable, but some are special and Hamels is scary good. If not for injuries, he would have been in the bigs already. The 22 year old has thrown only 195.1 innings since becoming a professional in 2003 and has a 14-4 record with 5.25 h/9, 0.09 hr/9, 12.58 k/9, 1.43 ERA, 3.79 k/bb, and a 0.95 WHIP. His highest ERA at any stop was 2.73 and if you include his big league start, he has given up two homeruns in 200.1 professional innings and that is simply nuts. It really does not surprise me that he got called up and tosses five shut out innings with seven strike outs and allowed only one hit. He walked five and will have his bad days like anyone else, but the kid is good and he will make an impact in the NL East.

    From Steve Phillip's:

    Daniel Rabinowitz:Great Neck NY: Lately the mets have been having problems closing games. Should Willie Rsndolph be concerned with his bullpen?

    Steve Phillips: I think Billy Wagner will settle down. Sanchez was due for a tough outing. I think it's too early to be overly concerned. But their struggles show that Heilman should stay in the bullpen and not move into the rotation just yet, even with the problems with the No. 4 and 5 spots.

    There you go. Proof!!! Steve Phillips thinks Heilman should stay in the pen. I think we can all agree that means Heilman should be in the rotation.

    Woodsy Philadelphia, PA: What are the keys for a General Manager to keep it all together mentally when there there may be heat on his team from the public and or media? Like an outcry for players to be traded or Managers to be fired?

    Steve Phillips: Drink heavily! Just kidding.

    Um, I think that about sums it up.

    Valley Stream New York: Hello Steve, Do you think Jose Reyes of the Mets will ever learn to walk more and become a better on base percentage leader off hitter?

    Steve Phillips: No, I think that he will always be wanting when it comes to plate discipline and working the base on balls. I believe that plate discipline, for the most part, is God given and not developed. That doesn't mean that a hitter can't get better. My experience says that Reyes will get marginally better and may be able to work the count to 2-0, 3-1, but then he's going to swing at that next pitch.

    Stevie and I agree on one thing, Bannister should not be rushed.

    Dave (Roslyn NY): Steve, if Bannister isn't ready in time for Lima's next scheduled start, will the Mets give Lima the go again? Doing so seems to be conceding a loss with how awful he's been. Also, any thoughts on the possibility of throwing Heilman into the rotation in the spot he earned in the preseason?

    Steve Phillips: I guess the issue is conceding a loss today to prep your team for later may be a consideration. There are times when teams, coaches and organizations have to keep the bigger picture in mind. I think Lima Time is over as far as his success in the majors. They should not rush Bannister back and risk him going down another month and having to start Lima six more times.

    From Gary Gillette's:

    David Annapolis, MD: Gary your my last chance. I've posted this question to Crasnik, Olney and Phillips only to get rejected. Do you see the Mets giving Floyd the hook should he continue to slump? If so do they bring up Milledge to play LF?

    Gary Gillette: (4:34 PM ET ) So I'm the closer here? Of course the Mets won't wait forever with Floyd, especially with the Phillies breathing down their neck. But I think they'll give Floyd a long time to get untracked.

    Gary Gillette: (4:36 PM ET ) However, since the plan was to use Milledge in left after this year, it could come sooner than the All-Star break if they don't have a comfortable lead in the NL East

  • My prayers have been answered.

  • Albert Pujols is on pace for 83 homers, 209 RBIs, and a .333/.469/.833 line. That is just silly.

  • Jose Canseco + Aluminum Bats + Guys Like Us = Wacky Hijinks

    As the cleanup hitter for the Valley Mets, Canseco is known to let the first two pitches go by, and then launch a home run as he connects using a 35-inch, 32-ounce aluminum bat, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times.

    In an homage to his playing days with the powerful Oakland A's teams of the late 80s, Canseco offers each of his teammates a forearm bash following his home runs.

    "What a weapon," Valley Mets manager Gary Zelman told the L.A. Times. "It's like cheating."

    Um, Gary? Bad choice of words.

  • Zambrano underwent successful surgery on Monday.

    Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek removed bone spurs in the elbow, repaired a torn flexor tendon and performed Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament.

    Insert your fixed in ten minutes joke here. I have too much class for that. This was his second Tommy John surgery and while there is a fairly high recovery rate, I do not need to say two is concerning to say the least. Lance Davis has it twice as he got it in 1996 and 2000, Darren Dreifort got it in 1995 and 2001, Chad Fox had it done several times, José Rijo had it done an astounding four times, Scott Williamson had it several times, Tim Spooneybarger had it done twice, and Matt Riley had it done twice and needs it again. There are probably more, but those are the most notable ones. Zambrano turns 31 this August and he will be bearing down on 32 when he begins his comeback. No one doubts that Zambrano is a great guy and this is certainly a shame that his Met career came to end in this fashion, but it is a chapter that a lot of people are happy is closed.

  • Rick Ankiel is either going to put on the Cardinals 25-man roster when he comes off the DL or he will have to pass through waivers.

  • In case you missed it from BA:

    Marlins righthander Yusmeiro Petit, 21,made his major league debut in relief yesterday, striking out the first two batters he faced. "I worked a long time for this. I worked hard," Petit told the Miami Herald. "So I'm very happy." Petit was recalled when righthander Sergio Mitre went on the disabled list.
  • Monday, May 15, 2006

    Trouble In Paradise

    The Mets have dropped five of their last seven games. Four of the games were decided by no more than two runs and the Mets lost three of them. So far on the season the Mets are 10-4 in one run games and 2-1 in two run games. Some people view one run games as a testament to good managing and some view it as luck. More likely than not, the Mets early success in close games had to do with the amazing start their bullpen had gotten off to and despite being the best in the National League, they were playing above their heads to an extent.

    The Mets are nine games over .500 and seven of those wins were decided by two runs or less and that concerns me. Over the course of the season they most likely will not continue to win close games at such a high clip. One reason I believe that is because their bullpen has come back down to earth. Even though I expect them to be as good as any out there, it will be tough to replicate what numbers they put up in the early going. The other reason is because how much they are struggling with runners in scoring position. As a team, they own a .242/.330/.404 line and it is becoming increasingly frustrating to watch them struggle. In comparison, the Cardinals, who are one of the strongest teams in the NL along with the Mets, own a .294/.372/.440 line.

    With the status of the rotation and question marks surrounding it coupled with the Mets inability in the clutch, this team is far from having a cake walk into the playoffs. If we have learned anything, we have learned that Pedro and Tommy cannot win every game they pitch and they need to have a consistent effort out of the back end to support them. We learned that the bullpen needs to have consistent efforts by the starters to get the game to them with a lead and not tax the bullpen every night.

    Lima Time! made two starts and has not made it past five innings. John Maine made one start, and made it 5.1 innings. Victor Zambrano made five starts and made it past five innings once when he pitched six innings on May 1st. Jeremi Gonzalez pitched one game and made it through five complete innings. Brian Bannister made five starts and has not logged more than five complete innings since April 11th. Steve Trachsel has thrown in eight games and logged six innings in four of them and his last one was on May 5th. That is twenty two starts between them and only logged six innings seven times, four of which belong to Steve Trachsel and only two since Trachsel's six innings performance on April 25th out of the last three spots in the rotation.

    When this team was beating every team and beating them handily to start season, some people kind of laid into me when I was expressing concerns about a team that was riding high. For me, you cannot lose sight of problems when they exist and ignore them and hope they go away. A big problem has developed into a gaping problem of Grand Canyon-like proportions. The bullpen will remain a strong point and I believe the offense will gel and more of those runners in scoring position will get knocked in. The main thing is that they are putting the runners there in scoring position in first place and the rest will fall into place. However, this rotation, even when Brian Bannister and John Maine come back, is simply not good enough in my eyes. Pedro and Tom Glavine are not Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling of 2001. I am concerned and I am eager to see how this team works to rectify this problem and make no mistake, it is a problem and a very large one.

    * * *

  • The read of the day besides my fucking swell website belongs to Baseball Prospectus' Mets Notebook. It touches upon Aaron Heilman and him starting with a dabble of Heath Bell.

    Part of the reason for the Mets concern with Heilman's potential move is their belief that the bullpen would become particularly susceptible to lefthanded hitting without him: Heilman handled lefties to the tune of 47 strikeouts and just 38 hits in 52 innings last year. The worry in this regard, however, is overblown. Heath Bell could team with Duaner Sanchez to form a solid secretarial staff for Billy Wagner in Heilman's absence, and Bell also would fill Heilman's lefty-killer role:

    Bell has allowed fewer hits and virtually no homers against southpaws over a five-year period. New York doesn't appear to appreciate what it has in the 28-year-old Bell, though, as he will likely go back to Norfolk when Gonzalez arrives. Jorge Julio deserves to have his bullpen-low 0.88 LEVERAGE steadily increased with more important innings after allowing just three runs on eight hits in his last 13.2 innings, with only one homer allowed and a 24:5 K:BB ratio. With Sanchez, Bell, and Julio, the Mets have enough setup firepower in the pen to spare fans the agony of watching Lima and Gonzalez drizzle gasoline over open flames on back-to-back nights.

    Some food for thought. Go ahead, chew on it. It's delectable.

  • The Journal News said that Brian Bannister threw 83 pitches in a simulated game. The Metropolitans recommendation? Leave Gonzalez in against the Yankees and hope for the best. Send Lima Time! down after his start and bring up another reliever for another arm to summon should it be a short day for Jeremi. Throwing Brian Bannister into the fire to face the Yankees in his first action back without a rehab start while he has had his share of troubles this season seems illogical.

    Buckle up. Tuck your head between your knees. Pray to the baseball gods.

  • Mike Pelfrey got roughed up.

  • I am mildly alarmed by the amount of homeruns that Pedro Martinez has surrounded this season. He has never give up more than 26 in a year and his on pace to give up 34 this season. His BAA against is .164 and 27% of the hits Pedro Martinez has given up have left the park. Out of the entire Major Leagues, he is tied for having given up the 6th most homers in the league.

    Out of the how the hell do I still own a starting job department, Carlos Silva is on pace to give up 66 homers while owning a .363 BAA and a 8.80 ERA. Note to Gardenhire: Start Francisco Liriano. He is level stubbornness is of Randolph-esque proportions.

  • How many times has a brother gotten removed from the rotation for his own brother? Jeff Weaver might get replaced with Jared Weaver in the Angels rotation.

  • From FoxSports.com:

    The reality for the Mets is that they don't need Willis or A's left-hander Barry Zito; given that Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine are a combined 10-2 with a 2.50 ERA, a middle-of-the-rotation innings-eater would suffice.

    The Mets had such a pitcher — right-hander Kris Benson — but traded him to the Orioles for reliever Jorge Julio. Nationals right-hander Livan Hernandez would be a logical fit. Other possibilities: the Royals' Scott Elarton, Mariners' Gil Meche and Orioles' Rodrigo Lopez — and maybe Indians right-hander Paul Byrd, if the Tribe falls out of contention.

  • Randy has failed to reinvent himself like so many other modern legends like Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and Roger Clemens. He is still trying to win with his fastball/slider combo and when you lose some hop on your fastball, you cannot do that.

    His 5.13 ERA makes me happy.
  • Sunday, May 14, 2006

    Pauly Ballgame

    I was very critical of the Paul LoDuca trade when it first happened for two reasons. The first one was that I truly felt that Ramon Castro could have done a good job for the Mets if he was awarded the starting catcher's job and that would have also freed up much needed money for the starting rotation which I felt was going to be problematic. The second reason I was critical was that if you were not comfortable with Ramon Castro for 140+ games, then there were free agent options that might have been a bit more expensive, but did not cost talent from a Minor League system that was already running thin. It is still debatable which road was best for the Mets and I still believe he might not be the best fit for the second spot in the batting order, however, it is hard not have this guy grow on you.

    He turns into a bad case of the herpes that you just cannot shake as the season rolls along. You see the term intangibles attached to Paul LoDuca a lot and he might not be the best catcher or the best hitting catcher, but the guy brings a lot to the table. At this level, everyone is a world-class athlete and highly competitive. It is safe to say no one wants to lose, but it just seems like some people want to win more. We saw LoDuca stand up for Lima Time! in his first start this season for the Mets against John Smoltz and the Braves. LoDuca boiled over after some comments by Angel Hernandez to Lima Time!, some missed strike calls, and a missed call on a play at home. Knowing it was Smoltz on the mound and that every pitch would count, Paul stuck up for his team and his pitcher.

    Last night after giving up four runs, Duaner Sanchez hit Brady Clark. Clark was none too happy and neither was the umpire Tim Tschida. Sanchez promptly got throw out after putting the go ahead run on first base in the eighth inning with Derrick Turnbow looming.

    "I never hit nobody on purpose because somebody hit a home run in my life," Sanchez said.

    I do not respect pitchers that intentionally hit a guy because they got beat. There is no bigger sign of a lack of heart and a lack respect for the team you are playing. That being said, I do respect a pitcher who is not afraid of taking the inside part of the plate back. You just got beat a few times and if someone is crowding the plate, you need to do what you can to be effective. There are too many times this year when a batter will almost get beaned on a pitch up and over the plate. A pitch that would be called a strike if it is thrown lower would actually hit a player if thrown up in the zone because too many players are taking liberties crowding the plate.

    According to Billy Wagner, Clark invades the plate so much that "if you throw a strike, you hit him in the cup."

    The catcher is always in the fray when there are arguments at home plate and they are always protecting the pitcher from irate batters. LoDuca took it a step further and smacked the game winning homer in the top of the ninth to get Duaner of the hook and saved his pitcher in the biggest way possible. Paul LoDuca is a gamer. As much as I hate the term intangibles, he has them.

    "It's one of those games you don't want to lose," Lo Duca said of the homer. "Now we've got a chance to win the series with Pedro [Martinez] on the mound [today]."

    I like players who think games in May are must win games. If the Mets lost the game last night, they are only one game in first with Lima Time! and Jeremi Gonzalez due to get at least another start each. LoDuca plays the game the way it is supposed to be played and I can see why Dodger fans were up in arms when he was traded. I can see why a guy who might not have been a leader statistically for the Dodgers or the Marlins was a integral part of the team. He reminds me of David Bell a lot in the fact that they are guys who are great teammates that might not be the best player on the team, but they can be counted on in the clutch when the team needs it the most.

    LoDuca has the type of character that you need from a guy on a championship team to keep everyone fired up. Omar not only brought in talent over the past two off seasons, but he brought in personalities. He put together a team that plays the game the way it should be played. He brought in players that act the way that players should act. He valued what was behind the skills as much as the skills themselves and if the Mets make it as far as we think they can go, character might have played the biggest part. There have been talented teams that did not live up to expectations before, but this team has that x-factor. This team has an air of confidence that you see in champion ship teams and Paul LoDuca embodies that.

    * * *

  • Minaya vows to be in the mix for pitching help.

    Minaya isn't about to wait until next year. He will do everything he can to deal for a big-game pitcher between now and the trade deadline, and you can take that to Fred Wilpon's bank.

    "If there's going to be pitchers available in the market," Minaya said yesterday, "we're definitely going to be in there."

    He is going to do what he can while keeping an eye long term success of this Met franchise.

    "You can't get caught up in doing something now that's going to have a negative effect on your team the next couple of years," Minaya said. "It's a fine line, but we're going to work it and push it."

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

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

    Reliever Bartolome Fortunato (elbow) was placed on the 60-day disabled list and will undergo Tommy John surgery Thursday.

    Barry Federovitch has a nice article on the Kazmir debacle for those of you masochists out there.

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

    I'll go 0-for-4, pop out twice and ground out a couple of times, and she'll tell me, 'At least you hit the ball.' She has the ability to find the positive in everything."

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

  • You have to like when young guys show confidence.

    I'm Mike Pelfrey, he tells himself, a psych game he's been playing for years; it's a little something he does before taking the mound to remind himself of who he is, and more importantly, what he is.

    Phil Humber has that quality too.

    "I feel like I've got the best curveball in the country. I haven't seen a better one."

    You cannot succeed in this league if you do not believe you belong and these two believe they belong.

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

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

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

    I know this willnot be a popular rant, but reading between the lines, I think this is what may happen:

    I think Heilman gets traded for a starter. He wants to start and Omar and Willie don't want to start him. In reading Omar's comments since VZ went down, it's pretty obvious he wants another top of the rotation guy; and in the next nreath, he says he refuses to give up Pelfry or Milledge. So, how does he expect to get a top of the line guy without giving up one or both of those guys (I hope he is true to his word here - NOBODY outside of Pujols is worth either right now)? I think a package of Heilman, Diaz and maybe another prospect or a Keppinger type may get us a Willis or possibly a Zito.

    Minus Pelfry and/or Milledge, I see nobody else that has that kind of value outside of Heilman. It makes a lot of sense to me to move him for a quality starter, and here's why. If we move him into the rotation as many here have suggested, we replace him in the pen with who, Julio. Trading him does basically the same thing. Now the question becomes; would we rather have Heilman or Xillis/Zito starting game 3 in the post season? I think the answer is pretty obvious.

    Can we get a guy like Piniero or somebody like that for less than Heilman? That is another road to explore. I would rather go with what we got until the deadline and save everything we have for Zito or Milledge.

    Okay, I'm done.

    Basically he is saying if Heilman could be centerpiece while keeping Milledge, the Mets stand a chance to pick up a front line starter. He really puts it in perspective by putting it out there on who would you rather have, Zito, Willis, or Heilman starting in the #3 slot. Yes, it would take more, but Heilman is a big starting point to a deal and is proven in the pen and could be a closer right now. I do not think the Mets would go down this road, but he does have a point. If the Mets ever are going to consider using him as a starter and do not implicitly trust him, then it might warrant a look to see what he can get on the market. Always keep your door open to any deal and send out some feelers, what is the worst that can happen?