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

Friday, June 30, 2006

The Heilman Experiment (Part II)

Way back in 2004 I wrote that the Mets should try Aaron Heilman in the rotation. This was not because I really thought he would succeed, but because I figured he was done as a starting pitcher. What I didn't know is that Heilman and a new arm angle would give the Mets an extremely effective pitcher. I write a lot of articles and this was a case of throwing enough shit at a wall and having something stick. Though Heilman has struggled of late, he is still a very good pitcher and very valuable to this team.
        IP   H  HR  SO  L   ERA   WHIP   K/9
April 13.2 13 0 14 0 2.63 1.32 9.22
May 16.0 11 1 13 1 3.38 1.13 7.31
June 13.2 18 2 9 2 7.43 1.58 6.08
Total 43 42 3 36 3 4.40 1.33 7.53
That is what I would call a negative trend. Heilman gave up a run in four of his last eleven appearances before putting together a string of four scoreless innings recently. Aaron had worked with Rick Peterson to work a kink out and that seems to have set him straight. However, Heilman was put into the bullpen last year and was just about the best reliever in the universe in the second half of 2005 with the exception of Mr. Billy Wagner. This year? Not so much. In fact, this bullpen is so deep that Aaron in the bullpen is no longer a necessity.

With Heath Bell looking great of late and Henry Owens showing everyone that he has nothing left to prove in the minors, they can pick up Aaron's slack since in reality, there simply is not as much to pick up as we thought there would be. The Mets need a #3 starter and better rotation than they have. I think this rotation is just fine to get the Mets through the regular season and beat up on the National League, but when it comes the playoffs, the Mets are one Kris Benson-type pitcher away. Heilman can be that guy in my opinion and it's certainly worth a shot.

The bullpen is a strength of the this team and with Heath Bell, Royce Ring, and Henry Owens there to jump in to help this team out, I think it might be the way to go at this point. If Mike Pelfrey can continue to improve and perhaps pitch in in late August and Aaron Heilman in the rotation, things to look a bit brighter in terms of the quality of the Mets starting pitching.

* * *

  • In what should be tough situation for Jered Weaver, his promotion to the bigs for good has come at the expense of his brother as he was designated for assignment. Jeff has been horrible this year, but is he worth a flyer to see if he can be fixed?

    "There are so many teams looking for pitching and so many teams in the race, somebody will take this guy," one veteran NL scout said.

    In a low risk move, the obvious answer is yes. However, he would come with plenty of questions about being able to handle New York again and Weaver is a known hot head so he would most likely not be the answer to the Mets need for a good #3 starter, but it cannot hurt.

  • Carlos Delgado might miss the entire Yankee series due to soreness in his ribs. However, it looks like Floyd is ready to return for this weekend series which will soften the blow of the current rash of injuries for the Mets.

  • I didn't see the game or the catch. However, just from this picture the catch looks like a pretty sick one to say the least.

    "Under the circumstances and the time of the game, the score, everything like that, I don't think I have seen a better play," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "That was an incredible play."

  • While Mike from Mike and the Mad Dog will not have comparison between the Mets left side of the infield and the Yankees left side of the infield because the Yankees guys are far more proven, it is a comparison that is going to be made. They are in the same town and all some of the best in the game. He needs to deal with it and deal with the fact that Mets left side might be better than the Yankees left side right now. Mike had said that if Wright has one season that even comes close to one of A-Rod's many monster seasons, he will be ecstatic. Note to Mike: WRIGHT IS DOING THAT RIGHT NOW AT 23. Wright is good and though a lot can happen, he looks like he is on track for a Hall of Fame career and it looks like Wright may even be better than A-Rod from now on out.

  • Mike Pelfrey, Henry Owens, Michel Abreu, and Jorge Padilla will represent the B-Mets in the Eastern League All-Star game. After the game, shove Abreu, Pelfrey, and Owens on a bus down to Norfolk.
  • Thursday, June 29, 2006

    Mr. Brightside

    I was admittedly a bit negative with yesterday's post. Wasting a few hours of my life does that sometimes, but it's not all that bad. Yes, the Mets got embarrassed two games in a row. However, if they were going to lose, is it not at least a nice consolation prize that it hurts the Yankees? The Yankees are a game further out than they were before the Red Sox/Mets series started and I get pleas from Yankee fans daily for the Mets to eak out a win.

    Thankfully I will not be watching any Met games until I actually go Monday's game against the Pirates. With Boston making the Mets their bitches and Mussina, Johnson, and Wright taking on El Duque, Traschel, and Soler, I have a feeling that I'm saving myself from having a few years shaved off of my life by not watching what could be a massacre. These past two days of baseball have been poc marked with mental lapses, errors, and the Mets looking like they were a few leagues below the Red Sox and I don't see it getting better until the Mets return to Shea.

    It didn't take long for my attempt to look at the brightside of things to degenerate into negativity again. I really tried, but these last two days were ugly after such a highly anticipated series.

    * * *

  • Thanks to Billy for this link....

    While Peter is not a fan of the shirts, I really don't believe they mean "yeah, I pop the old lady. Ain't I cool?" if you wear them. Most of the clothing is for women anyway and you have to give them credit for their large line that includes shirts, thongs, camisoles, boxer shorts and trucker hats. What's that? You don't know what a camisole is? Neither did I so I googled it and I'm sorry I did. This is a camisole but apparently men where them too.

  • A-Rod hit a game winning homerun yesterday.

    "Hopefully (the booing is) behind me," Rodriguez said. "I needed that and the team needed that."

    You are a naive man.

  • Jesus Flores continues to get some Baseball Prospectus love.

    8. Jesus Flores, Mets
    Age: 21.7 Hitting: .273/.340/.519 in 64 G (Hi-A) Arm: 24-for-62 (39%)

    The Mets have always liked Flores' potential, but his full-season debut last season--in which he hit just .216/.250/.339--was marred by a broken thumb that prevented him from holding a bat properly for much of the season. This year he's perfectly healthy, and his bat--which is his best tool--has not only come alive, it's gotten better every month.

    MONTH AVG HR/100 BB/100 SO/100
    April .197 2.8 5.6 31.00
    May .280 6.5 7.5 29.03
    June .343 6.0 7.5 23.88

    This does not take away from Flores' defensive skills, which are at least solid across the board according to one scout, who graded his arm as plus. If Saltalamacchia is the biggest fall so far this year among backstops, Flores might be the biggest jump.

    Though Will Carroll said that only the top two have star power, it's still good to get the attention.

  • Note to Willie...if Lastings is going to start today, stick him in right.

    Lastings Milledge endured another nightmare – again on a ball that did not reach the Green Monster. He got under a first-inning fly ball just in front of the wall in left field and had it bounce out of his glove for a two-base, two-run error.

    "I just missed it,'' he said. "I just didn't come up with the catch. I don't know what else you want me to say. I didn't come up with the catch. I looked horrible on that play."

  • Bob Klapisch wonders if Pedro would be a shell of his former self in the AL?

    It was supposed to be precision fastballs and deadly change-ups all night, good enough to stifle the hottest team in baseball. Nice image. Nice homecoming story line. Only, it didn't turn out that way.

    Instead, Pedro allowed eight runs in three innings, getting nuked so thoroughly in the Mets' 10-2 blowout it makes you wonder: what kind of pitcher would Pedro be throwing those 86-mph fastballs in the American League?

    Martinez can still throw strikes anywhere from 79-87 mph, which is good enough to frustrate the National League in a down year. But looking back, Pedro was smarter than anyone knew by fleeing the American League after the '04 season, when his fastball was clearly fading.

    I think it is fair to say he would have a lot worse numbers, but the Pedro of the last month or so has not even been the Pedro of the first two months. Hopefully this is just his June swoon or the Mets have no shot in the playoffs.

  • Norfolk reliever Royce Ring, who appeared in 15 games for the Mets last season, has been named to pitch in the Triple-A All-Star Game.

    Good to see Royce get back into a groove.

  • Baseball Prospectus likes Jose Reyes.

    With all the talk of unachieved potential, it’s easy to overlook Reyes’ steady, if slow, improvement over those years. He’s tightened up his defense considerably and his leg injuries, which were verging on chronic and threatened to end his career, are well behind him. Now, he seems to be whittling away his last major weakness.

    Clearly, Reyes isn’t going to going to continue to hit .500, or .400 for that matter. But the longstanding hopes of .300+ with 70 walks a year and some decent pop all of a sudden might even be conservative.

  • Phil Humber returned to the Florida State League after one start in the Gulf Coast League and it is hard to not be happy with his results.

    Humber (1-0) allowed three runs on five hits and a walk while striking out five. The 23-year-old right-hander's first action of the season was a four-inning start on June 22 with the Gulf Coast League Mets.

    While no one doubts the electric arm of Mike Pelfrey having a higher ceiling than Phil, Humber is already throwing 91-94 according to a previous article and it is not out of the realm of possibilities to see Humber contribute more on the big league level first. If watching rookie pitchers struggle has taught me anything, it taught me that a guy who relies primarily on his fastball (no matter how hard it is) and still working on his secondary pitches is going to get hit hard. Pelfrey still has a bit to go and Phil Humber may come along quicker despite coming off of Tommy John due to a wider repertoire of pitches that includes a plus secondary pitch to compliment a plus primary pitch.
  • Wednesday, June 28, 2006


    Manny Ramirez did not lead the Major Leagues with 17 outfield assists in 2005 because he is a nice guy. While he does not have the best arm, he has a decent one and is accurate. With the middle of the order coming up, Manny Acta in a true Windmill Willie moment sent Jose Reyes home on a hard hit single to left field. Forget the fact that the left fielder is usually playing more shallow than normal just because of where they are playing, the Mets were down three and had Jon Lester on the ropes. Why not just give them a free out to be nice? Simply horrible. If you watched the game and watched Manny get to the ball as Reyes rounded third, you knew there was no way he was going to make it without a Boston mistake. Varitek could have dropped the ball, bent over and picked it up, and then tagged out Reyes with time to smoke a cigarette.

    "I'm so confident when he's running," Acta said. "But I found out today that not even Reyes can outrun the ball. I thought that Manny caught the ball flat-footed, but I found out that is really shallow here."

    As for Alay Soler, he concerned me before about how he would perform in the playoffs with his demeanor and now I am even more so concerned. Soler has blown up because he let his hot head got the best of him, but yesterday he blew up because he lacked guts. I like watching pitchers nibble at the corners as much as I like hearing Tom Cruise talk about Scientology (congrats on reaching the level of an Operating Thetan 6). Soler tossed 107 pitches towards the direction of the plate and 51 were balls and he hit one batter while striking out no one. As far as I'm concerned, he was lucky to escape with only eight runs allowed. While I know Mike Pelfrey needs more work, having a guy who throws hard and attacks hitters will be refreshing when he does arrive.

    Losses happen, but with Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling on the horizon and The Human Rain Delay, The Duque, Soler going against the New York Yankees, it could get ugly fast. While ultimately what the Mets do against the AL East is unimportant in terms of the standings and their seemingly sure ticket to the playoffs, the Mets getting bruised and battered by the tops dogs in the AL East is bad. While they still have to play five games after this, they are five tough games. The Mets have the backs up against a wall for their remaining games against the AL East and really, I would not be surprised if they only take one more game the rest of the week as today was a big game that they really let get away. It’s one thing to get beat in a big spot and it is another thing to beat yourself. The Mets beat themselves.

    * * *

  • Thanks to Coop for the link by way of Steve from the Eddie Kranepool Society....

    As stated in previous articles, Milledge is enjoying this a lot. Too much perhaps?

    Wow. It looks like he is getting ready to give birth to something. I'm not sure what, but something. As for Milledge's comment about Soler making Milledge look like Paris Hilton, I did not think that was possible, but it is.

    With all the blurry images, I fell like I'm looing at pictures of big foot.

  • Heath Bell looked really sharp last night and has been pretty tight since his first two outings. His slider looks great, he is coming inside with his fastball, and attacking hitters in typical Heath Bell Style. Of course, sample size...sample size...sample size. The fact remains he just has not pitched much or gotten into any high leverage situations. Since his first two innings, he has pitched 16.2 innings and owns a 1.08 ERA, 8.64 K/9, 9.18 H/9, 3.78 BB/9, and 1.44 WHIP. While they are not stellar numbers, he has been markedly better in his last six performances than his first six performances.
               IP   ERA   K/9  H/9  BB/9  WHIP
    1st Six 10 3.60 9.00 15.3 5.40 2.30
    2nd Six 9.2 0.93 8.38 7.44 0.93 0.93
    While it is not necessary that Bell takes some more responsibility with everyone in the bullpen pitching well, it certainly bodes well for the Mets to just have backup options. They have some nice depth in that area when you toss Royce Ring and Henry Owens into the discussion and hopefully Heath Bell is opening some eyes and gaining some trust.

  • The Red Sox faithful congratulated Pedro Martinez like the star that he was for that town for so long. Who says people in Boston have no class?

  • Punch your wife, back on the field post haste.

    Meanwhile, the team addressed the wave of criticism that it had seemed more concerned about wins and losses after Myers' arrest than about the specter of domestic violence.

    In a statement issued by the club, Phillies president David Montgomery said the team did not initially comment on Myers' arrest Friday out of a desire to protect Kim and Brett Myers' privacy and let the legal process run its course.

    Right. From now on, the Phillies support domestic violence. Write that down.

  • Beltran and Willie on Jon Lester:

    “He was OK, he threw a lot of balls,” said Carlos Beltran, who went 1-for-2 against Lester with a walk and a single in the 9-4 Red Sox victory. “We couldn’t get the big hit at the right time. He fell behind a lot of times, and we couldn’t take advantage of that.”

    Did he step it up to make the big pitch or did the Mets just shrink in that situation?

    “He had a good arm,” said Beltran. “For a lefty, any time you face a lefty who can throw 90 and top 93, it’s a good pitcher. At the same time, he still needs to learn how to pitch more inside because sometimes, as a lefty, they have a tendency to pitch everything away.”

    Why not just help him out?

    “The kid was erratic, but he struck David out on a nasty curveball with the bases loaded and he stayed with it,” said Randolph. “His pitch count was up, but he was able to make a pitch when he had to and at the end of the game, he got the win.”

  • At some point, Nady's homers with no one on base and hits with no one on base will need to start coming with runners on.
  • Tuesday, June 27, 2006

    Git –r-done

    The Mets were not truly competative since 2000 up until last year because they have been desperate. They have made some moves that reeked of desperation and some moves that were seemingly solid like acquiring Roberto Alomar, but just did not work out. More times than not though, they have just not been smart. One sentence highlights it all for me. They traded Kazmir for Zambrano. If one move is more short sighted and desperate than that one, I don't know what it is. They sadly misjudged their chances in regards to making the playoffs in 2004 and 2005 and made mistakes because of that. That truly underlies a big problem for the Mets over the years, which has been a sense of desperation and a win now mentality. You cannot operate with as much desperation as the Mets have had over the years and win. You need to build a winner.

    That is the problem with not only being a big market team, but being a big market team in New York playing in the shadow of the winningest sports franchise in the history of sports. The perception of the Mets has been one of negative one and the Mets were caught up with trying to get as good as they can as fast as they can. The truth is, it was not as bad as the media had made the situation out to be. The Mets might have thinned out their system over the years, but they managed to hang onto some promising players and have had quite a few of them contribute from their system. Now, this team stacks up with any team in the Majors Leagues and is better all around than the last two Mets teams to make the playoffs. The Mets managed to build a winner despite some irrational moves as David Wright and Jose Reyes have blossumed into huge parts of this team.

    For the first time since 1988, the Mets are the favorites and the team to beat in the National League. Not just by one media outlet either, but by mulitple outlets and the teams across the league. When you are the favorite and especially when you are the favorite in New York, there is a lot to live up to. The Mets had hype surrounding them prior to the season and they have done nothing but perform in spite of the pressure. With the Mets poised to have a winning team and one that should be competeing for the playoffs for years, the only thing left is actually win the entire thing. Anything less will be a dissapoiontment.

    * * *

  • If you are interested in meeting up at a Mets game, Benny is heading it up and would appreciate an email from any interested people.

  • The next extreme sport? Maybe not.

  • Oregon State beat North Carolina 3-2 to win the College World Series two games to one. They became the first team in the North to win since Ohio State won back in the '60s.

  • Endy Chavez is quite the celebrity in Venezuela and wants to play everday again eventually.

    "You do not dream of being a fourth outfielder or not playing everyday when you are a child," said the six-foot, 165-pound Chavez. "You want to play every day, and it was difficult to make the change to that role in the beginning. I took it hard, but I've adjusted. You have to be mentally prepared. I am mentally prepared now and will do my job when I get the chance."

    With the way he has been playing it would not be a big surprise if someone gave him a chance.

  • The Mets have signed eight more draft picks and have signed 32 of their 49 picks.

  • Jason Bay is getting some much deserved love from the fans. He is now the leading vote getter in the National League among outfielders and second overall to only Albert Pujols. David Wright and Paul LoDuca still own comfortable leads, but Jack Wilson has closed to winthin less than 100,000 votes of Jose Reyes.

  • Cliffy has began on his road back to New York.

    Cliff Floyd went 1-for-2 with a home run and a walk in his first rehabilitation game Monday for the rookie-level Gulf Coast Mets against the Marlins affiliate in Port St. Lucie.

  • The Tigers are looking for left-handed pop.

    If the Tigers can't add Abreu, perhaps they should consider finding a left-handed platoon partner for first baseman Chris Shelton — or better yet, a player like the Devil Rays' Aubrey Huff, who could fill both roles.

    Shelton hit his 10th homer on April 28. Since then, he is batting .240 with four homers in 179 at-bats. His on-base/slugging percentage, however, is higher against right-handers than it is against left-handers.

    Given the shortage in the market, it will be interesting to see whether the Mets would consider trading left fielder Cliff Floyd, who currently is on the disabled list with a sprained left ankle.

    I wonder if the Mets could possibly get Humberto Sanchez for Floyd. That might be giving too much up by the Tigers, but if they decide to go for it while their options are limited, who knows? They certainly have the pitching depth to lose Sanchez and not really sweat it.

  • Jose Reyes became the first Met to win the NL Player of the Week Award in back to back weeks in 23 years.

  • There should be no reason for Boston fans boo Pedro Martinez.

  • The Mets are #3 on Baseball Prospectus' Hit List.

    The Mets increase their NL East lead into double digits, finishing the week 11.5 up on the Phillies. Jose Reyes reels off 19 hits for the week, including three four-hit games, one of them a cycle. He's riding a 13-game hitting streak during which he's batting .561/.583/.912, and his 31.9 VORP ranks 14th in the majors. But the Mets' bullpen--tops in the majors in Reliever Expected Wins Added (7.634)--hits some snags. Billy Wagner squanders Reyes' cycle by blowing a save; he's walked 17 in 36.2 innings this year, compared to 20 in 78.2 frames last year. Duaner Sanchez suffers a stinger in his neck; the NL's #4 man in WXRL is day-to-day, just like the rest of us.

    Reyes 14th in VORP? IN THE MAJORS?????

  • Wimbledon threatens to crackdown on cleavage.

    Wimbledon officials have reportedly cautioned competitors that they need to comply with the tournament's strict and conservative dress code, or risk being disqualified.

    According to a report in the London Times, the 2006 Wimbledon players' guide includes these new words of warning: "Any competitor who appears on court dressed in a manner which is deemed unsuitable by the committee will be liable to be defaulted."

    Way to attack the issues.
  • Monday, June 26, 2006

    En Fuego

    Jose Reyes is on fire and that does not come close to quantifying what Reyes is doing right now.

    Reyes will ride into Boston tomorrow on a 13-game hitting streak during which he's batted at a .561 clip — 32 for 57. He has a hit in all but one game he's played this month. His batting average is up to .302; his on-base percentage, a lofty .361.

    "He's an inferno right now," Down said matter-of-factly. "The reason for this? He's got talent. His pitch selection has gotten better, and he's taken a shorter approach."

    How much better can he get?

    Reyes just smiled and said he's enjoying this while he can. Beltran said Reyes is good enough to be a No. 3 hitter, something Randolph probably doesn't want to hear yet.

    Jose Reyes is a streaky hitter. When he is hot, he is extremely hot. When he's not hot, he is not even lukewarm. He is ice cold.
    Games 1-10:  .304/.333/.522
    Games 11-20: .150/.209/.175
    Games 21-30: .370/.463/.565
    Games 31-40: .182/.234/.341
    Games 41-50: .255/.327/.447
    Games 51-60: .189/.231/.378
    Games 61-70: .452/.521/.667
    Games 71-75: .652/.652/1.130
    Jose's biggest problem has been his consistency. That is what is so frustrating with him because he looks like he is learning on the job when the Mets need stability in such an important spot. However, right now he has found a bit of consistency to say the very least. Reyes is .561/.583/.912 in his last thirteen games and the Reyes road show went into Canada and showed the fans a .643/.643/1.000 weekend and two back to back four hit games. A lot of average fans might not really know that much about Reyes besides some decent overall numbers in his past years. Unless you watch him daily, there is nothing awe-inspiring outside of the fact you know he steals. However, to watch him is to see a kid that oozes athletic ability and perhaps the most exciting player in the game to watch.

    Wright and Reyes open eyes in every city they go to and while the NL towns are familiar with the two who are gaining tons of national exposure daily, the AL towns are not as familiar with the both of them. With Reyes now flashing some pop, he is third on the team in extra base hits with 37 behind Wright's 40 and Beltran's 38. The Mets have three guys on pace to knock over 80 extra hits and Reyes is on pace to have 42 doubles, 22 triples, and 18 homers. Really scary stuff.

    Reyes was going to get better. He broke into the league so young and probably a bit too soon. He has showed everyone that he has talent, but he also showed everyone that he has plenty of things to work on. If the kid does figure it out, the sky is the limit and no other player in the league will be as exciting to watch and as big of a game changer. Is Reyes on hot streak or did he figure it out? While we know he won't hit like this forever, something certainly could have clicked with him. If it did, the Mets might have three guys in the top ten for All-Star balloting.

    * * *

  • "I'm actually feeling generous. I was going to offer to send a case of K-Y Jelly to the Mets' clubhouse. For as many guys that are prepared to use it. Give me a number."
    --Anna Benson, wife of Orioles pitcher Kris Benson, on her husband beating his former team (New York Daily News)

  • When Duaner Sanchez walked off the mound on Friday I was thinking Tommy John....goodbye Duaner. However all is well as it was only a pinched nerve but it was scary to say the least. You never like to see a pitcher walk off the mound like he did, but when they identified it as his shoulder and not his elbow during the broadcast, I felt better about the entire situation. With Bell pitching well right now and six other capable arms all together, there is no rush to bring Sanchez back and this time off will probably do him good anyway.

  • Some news on Cliffy:

    Cliff Floyd is expected to DH today in Port St. Lucie, his first game action since spraining his left ankle in Los Angeles on June 6.

  • This is high praise considering that Blue Jays play in the AL East:

    "That's the best lineup we've faced all year," Blue Jays outfielder Frank Catalanotto said.

    The Mets are now an astounding 11.5 games in front of the Phillies who have now dropped to four games under .500 and have lost four in a row.

  • Henry Owens is good.

    His numbers for the B-Mets this season are beyond impressive. He has nine saves in nine opportunities. His ERA is 0.83. Opposing batters are hitting .083 off of him. He has 44 strikeouts and seven walks -- a strikeout-walk ratio of better than 6:1 -- in 21 2/3 innings.

    Owens, a member of the Mets' 40-man roster, has been as nearly automatic for the B-Mets this season.

    "His mentality stems, I think, from the fact that he wants to pitch in the big leagues," said B-Mets pitching coach Mark Brewer. "And he wants to go out there at this level and stick it up somebody's fanny."

    Owens has gaudy statistics, a fastball that consistently reaches the mid-90s and a slider that spins toward the plate in the mid-80s.

    "Anytime he's throwing his (slider) for strikes, as a hitter you have no chance," B-Mets manager Juan Samuel said. "With his breaking ball as a hitter, there's nothing you can do."

  • Ambiorix Concepcion was promoted to Binghamton after his solid play for the St. Lucie Mets. Concepcion was 22 and playing Advanced A-Ball and will turn 23 this October. While he was not far off in terms of the league he was playing in and his age, Concepcion is taking up a spot on the 40-man roster. He really needed to step it up after his disappointing 2005 season and he did just that. He only went deep one time, but has twenty one doubles which certainly bodes well for him as the Florida State League is tough on hitters. With a good showing in Binghamton in the second half of the season, Ambiorix could be fast tracked and possibly boost his trade value and give the Mets a valuable trading chip.

  • Dayn Perry sings the Mets praise in his latest Power Rankings.

    Not to damn them with faint praise, but this is rather easily the best team in the NL at the moment and probably for the long term. The back of the rotation remains a sore spot, but they rank second in the senior circuit in bullpen ERA. And, of course, you’d be hard pressed to find a more productive trio than David Wright and the Carloses. Big stretch ahead, as their next 10 come against the Reds, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Yankees.

  • Phil Humber is back.

    "I was competing again," he said Saturday morning. "And it felt good. I felt I was at my best."

    Not in terms of performance -- four runs, seven hits, a walk and seven strikeouts -- but in terms of the potential he brought to the mound.

    His fastball -- 91 to 94 mph -- was back, he said, as it was before his ulnar collateral ligament betrayed him. His curve and change-up had returned, too. He lacked precision, but that was to be expected after a protracted layoff.

    "I've never had trouble throwing strikes," Humber said. "But my pitches, the strikes, were up.

    "First game back, I wasn't worried about that."

    Or his elbow. No problems, no pain. He was on a pitch count -- 75 was his limit.

    Good stuff. He got hit a bit in his first start back in the GCL, but that is no big deal. He struck out seven in four innings and was throwing hard. When Clint Everetts returned to action, he was about 5 mph off his normal velocity and had to build up his arm strength. With Humber already throwing as hard as he did before he left, it is entirely possible he picks up a few MPHs on his fastball. If he can find his control quickly like he found his fastball, he could move very fast. While there is no need to rush him, 2006 taught us that you can never have to many starters and Humber could be a phone call away in 2007 should he be needed with a full time rotation spot with his name on it in 2008.

  • Mike from Mike and the Mad Dog is dumb. What really irritates me about them is how they just exhibit no complete knowledge of baseball and when they don't know something, they make it up. While Mike was talking about BJ Ryan and gushing about how great he is and how great of a year he is having, a Boston fan called up and said if you are going to talk about Ryan, you have to give Papelbon his props. Mike then said that Papelbon was not having the same year. The guy then went on to compare their stats. Innings were about the same, Ryan had a few less hits, Papelbon had a few less walks, and Papelbon had a lower ERA. After knowing they have roughly the same innings and same hits and walks, Mike proceeded to still try and keep up his ridiculous fight and said "I don't care about that, what's his WHIP? I need the WHIP." Umm...Mike, WHIP is walks + hits / innings pitched. If you had all three components for each guy and they were about the same, it's safe to say they have approximately the same WHIP. Ryan's is .66 to Papelbon's .68 and Mike finally agreed that Papelbon is having a year as good as Ryan.

    Hey, it's not like a Yankee fan who does a sports talk show should know much about the Yankee's biggest rival and the team they are looking up at in the standings. It is completely sickening how much money they make and how they just like to make unsubstantiated claims. In this instance the guy got his two cents in and luckily he had the stats in front of him. If he didn't, Mike would have just spoke over him and said the caller was wrong and never even known he was just making shit up. But all that is just par for the course for him every day during his show.