Looking Good....Feeling Good
The big news in Met-land is Pedro. If you are going to tell me I am a bit late on that one, I would agree with you, but I would be remiss not to discuss the triumphant return of our fearless leader. He started off the game with an 82 mph and gave up two runs in the first inning. It certainly did not seem like a storybook game was going to take place, but Pedro settled down and put forth one encouraging start.
"If I'm sitting in [the Mets'] dugout, I'm more than pleased with what I saw today," Brantley said. "His changeup was around 74-75 mph, but he had six pitches that were 88-89. I can tell you right now, if Pedro can throw 88-89, he's going to be highly competitive for the times that he goes out there."
He then struck out Aaron Harang in the second inning for his 3,000th strikeout and cruised through the rest of the game without command or feel of his curveball. With Pedro limited to 75 pitches, it was going to be difficult for him to win a game in which he was expected to be rusty, but he did. He went five innings and got the win and everyone rightfully has reason to be really excited and Jeff Brantley is 100% on point.
The Mets are fielding an excellent rotation right now when you include The Duque and things are finally settling in. He still has a ways to go as do the Mets, but these are certainly positive signs and certainly something that should energize a Met team that has been all to lethargic at times. In the midst of a season in which the Mets were sometimes too complacent, Pedro could serve as a shining example of why you simply can never get complacent no matter how far in first you are or how much better than the other team you think you are.
"I had to just think about some of the people who never stood a chance, who never had the opportunity [to come back]," Martinez said. "I see my family and all the people who have hope that I'm going to come back and have me as a role model ...
"A lot of people don't understand. The better you are, the bigger your responsibility is."
The Mets are on pace for 91 wins and have the fourth best overall record in the Major Leagues. They are 28-25 within the NL East for a .528 winning %, 17-18 against the NL West for a .486 winning %, 8-7 against the AL for .533 winning % and 25-11 against the NL central for a .694 winning %. Obviously they have been feasting against the Central and thankfully so. Against everyone not in the NL Central, they own a .515 winning # in 103 games.
Is that cause for concern? It probably is since they really failed to excel in what was a weak National League this year. Overall, the Mets have only been firing on all cylinders for a few weeks at a time. Every time they look like they are going to run away with it or are in a commanding position, they seem to fall back down to earth.
Of course they look comfortable right now, but we have been here before haven't we? Twenty three games and five games out is seemingly insurmountable as long as the Mets play above .500 ball, but I am reluctant to declare anything at this point.
Jose Reyes seemed to be anointed early as the Mets' designated MVP candidate. But we think Wright has passed his favorite shortstop, with a season that gets better as it rolls along. Sheez, this man has a .477 on-base percentage (best in the big leagues) and .366 batting average since the All-Star break, with 44 runs scored (second only to Jimmy Rollins) and a .593 slugging percentage (better than A-Rod, Magglio or Prince Fielder). Wright also has a shot to be a 30-homer, 30-steal, 100-run, 100-RBI, .300-hitting on-base machine. And Baseball Prospectus ranks him atop every player on an NL contender (and behind only Hanley Ramirez) in VORP. So as much fun as Reyes can be on any given trip around the bases, it's the guy playing next to him who is really the Mets' MVP.
Utley's name has been the sexy name the last few months despite the time spent on the disabled list, but the same thing that perhaps hampered Beltran last year will play a role in Wright getting it this year. With Howard and Rollins set to get a good number of votes, they could actually steal some from Utley. In fact, Reyes' recent struggles down the stretch after such a great start actually put the focus on Wright as the MVP of this Met team and perhaps the entire league. It sure does not hurt to play in New York City and man the hot corner while batting third as well.
As David O'Brien notes today, in their last 250 games, the Braves are 122-128. And while they've played pretty well this season, it's worth noting that their best pitcher is 40 and their best hitter is 35. Well, I suppose their best hitter is actually Mark Teixeira, who's only 27. But you look at this team, about to lose their best fielder to free agency, with two starting pitchers better than average, and you wonder how they're going to compete with the Mets over the next few years.
I don't have to wonder. They have golden boy Jeff Franceour. How can they not compete?
Just an aside....the Astros are in big trouble. Any shot that they make another play for Clemens for simply a PR move? Maybe they will let Roger pitch in home games only?
With the B-team going, it was tough to really expect a sweep anyway. Willie gave some of the elders a bit of rest since it was a day game after a night game. However, after not playing an entire game on Tuesday, Delgado injured, having an off day anyway following the game, and being on fire over the last week, his exclusion of Alou is curious. Seems like Alou should have enough gas in the tank to play a day game after a night game with a day off following, but I'm not going to complain if it got Milledge a rare start these days.
Collazo and Humber came in and ate up some innings and did an admirable job not letting the Reds pile on some runs.
Chinese-made products have been under scrutiny recently after several high-profile recalls including toys made with lead paint, pet food that contained dangerous additives and tires that could allegedly come apart under use.
Triple-A New Orleans clinched a Pacific Coast League playoff spot with a 10-2 win against Round Rock on Sunday night. Kevin Mulvey, the Mets' top pick in the '06 draft, threw six scoreless innings in his Triple-A debut. Joe Smith, who had dealt with biceps tendinitis, made his first relief appearance in two weeks with a scoreless frame. Smith is not expected to be immediately promoted, although he should rejoin the Mets this month. New Orleans opens a best-of-5 series against Nashville tomorrow.
1) Good for the Zephyrs.
2) Good for Mulvey.
3) Good news on Smitty.
I’m kidding, of course. Pedro Martinez’s return to the mound Monday afternoon in Cincinnati was a terrific baseball moment. No matter who your team is, you have to enjoy watching one of the all-time greats on the mound. At his peak, Martinez wasn’t just a fantastic pitcher, he was an entertaining one. He dominated games with power and precision—no member of the 3,000-strikeout club has fewer career walks allowed and just one a better K/BB. He was a showman as well, firing up crowds by wearing his heart on his sleeve, by being openly competitive, and by showing as much love for the game as the people in the seats. Watching Pedro Martinez pitch is a treat in a different way than watching his peers in greatness, Roger Clemens or Greg Maddux, is.
Go ahead....cry. You know you want to. He also lays some rare love from the media on the Mets rotation.
What is going to be interesting is seeing how the Mets use him, not so much in September—you can always go to a six-man rotation—but in October. As big a concern as the Mets’ rotation was at the start of the season, it has been an absolute strength in 2007, arguably the reason this team has the best record in the NL, a five-game lead in the NL East and a 98 percent shot at making the playoffs, which is just two percent shy of the random strike zone’s chance of appearing in October.
I for one feel just fine about the Met starting pitching.