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

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What About The Children?

It is good to see Ari taking a stance on the topic, but I am biased on the issue. I see myself as a bit of purist and hearing the 'ding' of the bat does not do it for me. I understand wood makes college baseball less exciting and the younger leagues infinitely less exciting, but did I miss ed where there were a ton of ratings to lose in the first place?

Also, the idea that wood would be more expensive is true in a way, but not to the extent that people would believe. The popular notion is that they will break and cost a lot of money to replace. On the whole they do break more, but when I played in my wooden bat baseball league two summers ago, I broke just about a bat a game including a $120 x-bat. That prompted me to purchase this Louisville Slugger composite bat, which did not break and even withstood the beating of a few bums and hookers.

As for performance, I think it is obvious what metal bats bring to the table. They certainly spur more offense, but wooden bats certainly did not stifle my grand display of awesomeness. Working counts, level swings, and the idea of small ball would go a long way to helping make wooden bats more palatable. The kids and teenagers that made their young careers out of uppercut swings that took advantage of aluminum certainly would not have the best of transitions, but does anyone want them to?

Furthermore, why do pitchers need to get shit on? Lost in all this complaining of toning down offense and making the game more boring and therefore losing the interest of kids is the guy on the other end of things. Why is every advantage in baseball seemingly given to the batters? Everyone is concerned with little Billy's arm these days. How about we stifle the offense a bit with a wooden bat which should have some residual effects in terms of their pitch counts and how hard they have to work.

The biggest issue for me is the really young kids. They simply would have a hard time swinging a -3 or higher wooden bat. My only two suggestions would be to allow aluminum bats at the extreme lower levels with less of a differential than normal, which should help out a bit. Try and crack down on illegal bats and make kids in the sixth grade and higher use wood. The other thing you can to make a lighter bat that does not perform as well as your typical aluminum. The wood/composite bat I used had some grooves taken out of the barrel and had been filled in with a composite material and then the bat was given a clear composite shell. If that composite shell is lighter but does not enhance performance, what about making a -5 or -6 wood/composite bat for the kiddies by replacing more of the wood with composite on the outside with a solid wood core?

There will be undoubtedly less runs and if that pushes more kids to track in high school (it won't) or some other sport on the lower levels, so be it. I am fairly certain it would be for the betterment of youth baseball and probably teach kids some better swinging mechanics and a better approach. I am not going to pretend the danger is a tremendous one to keep aluminum bats around. I played baseball my entire life, which consisted of three or four leagues a year at some points, and never saw anyone sustain any significant injuries from an aluminum bat hit baseball. However, the league I played in a few years ago was aluminum the year before and was switched due to some pitcher getting their jaw broken with a liner back to the mound. That can still happen with wood, but unless you are professional hitter, the odds are obviously less.

Down with aluminum and trust the talent to be able to overcome. I suspect big league scouts and teams would also be ok with giving a stipend to college baseball for some bats as well.

* * *

  • Returning from a 5-1 road trip against also-rans Pittsburgh and Washington, Randolph deemed this stretch of 13 games against playoff-contending San Diego, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Atlanta as "push time" despite the ongoing rash of injuries that has befallen his first-place club all season.

    "It's like that phrase 'Don't tell me about the labor pain, just show me the baby.' Same thing in baseball, play the game," Randolph said as rain washed out batting practice.

    It is go-time and Willie is tossing out some gems for quote of year. Taking it to one of the best starting pitchers in the league on Tuesday and taking two back from one of the best closers of all time after they get a run off of yours is big time. That is playoff type stuff and the Mets are looking like a playoff team.

    John Maine is becoming a bit of a concern, but he has not been horrible. I still agree with the many who have suggested skipping a start or two for Oliver Perez and John Maine. At this point, the Mets lead is big enough that only a monumental collapse by them would lose this thing and it is hard to envision this team doing that. Some mental time and some days off for their arms might do them some good.

  • Peavy vs. Lawrence? Hard to get upset about that loss and Peavy was pretty damn good. He struck out twelve but was undone by his walks or else he would have made a nice run at 17 or 18 Ks.

    Then there is Mota....I've stood by holding out hope, but the site of him has began to make me wretch a bit. I thought he was going have a glorious two innings and then things fell apart fast.

  • You think Apple got the better end of this deal?

    In the latest in a long series of European iPhone rumors, FT Deutchland, sister paper to the Financial Times, reports today that Apple (AAPL) has signed contracts with three European cellphone operators -- T-Mobile of Germany, Orange of France and O2 in the UK -- that require the companies to give Apple a 10% kickback on revenue collected from calls and data transfers made via iPhones.

    That is just nuts.

  • Jim Callis weighs in on some Mets stuff in his last chat:

    Tim (Bflo): True or False - the Mets will regret not signing Brandon Efferson?

    SportsNation Jim Callis: True.

    I am curious if it was Efferson sticking to a $1,000,000 price tag or if it came down to $100,000 or so and the Mets just sticking to their guns. Callis had originally reported that a deal worth less than $500,000 could have gotten it done, but who knows if that was actually true.

    Jesse (Los Angeles, CA): Rate the NY pitching prospects: Hughes, Chamberlain, Pelfrey, Humber, Guerra.

    SportsNation Jim Callis: I'd keep your order, except I'd put Guerra in the middle.

    It is obvious that Chamberlain and Hughes are ahead of the Mets group, but I was surprised a bit to see Guerra being in front of Humber and Pelfrey in his eyes. Humber and Pelfrey are having disappointing seasons, but this was their first really down season in reality.

  • Jerry Crasnick lays the smakcdown...

    In reality, the Mets are willing to wait for the rap video of Milledge's life to play out. He's been so hyped for so long, people lose sight of the fact that he's 22 years old. Milledge is two months younger than Felix Pie, and two years younger than rookies Ryan Braun and Hunter Pence.

    In recent weeks, Milledge has bonded with new Mets coach Rickey Henderson and hit his way back to prominence. He's batting .381 in August, and he began the Mets' winning rally against Trevor Hoffman with a single Tuesday night. With the Mets' outfield aging, he's looking like more of a cornerstone player than trade bait these days.

    In fact, 'trade bait' might not be a back nickname for him.

  • Curt speaks and says some interesting things. First, he has a list of ten or so teams that he would like to go to. Given Zambrano's exit from the free agent field, Schilling might be the only true possible impact arm. Also, he comes with health risks but he mentions that he will only be looking for a one year deal so that should assuage some fears. However, this was the most interesting item:

    “The only other option would be a situation like here (Tampa Bay) where you have a tremendous young nucleus of pitchers, young players, a good manager, and good people where my last year could be spent having an impact on guys far beyond my playing days.”

    I am sure it will not have to reach that point and someone would take a flier on him being there is upside, but I would love to see Schilling head up a Tampa rotation in '08.

  • The Mets are pretty impressed with Milledge who is batting .370 with 15 runs and 13 RBIs in August.

    "For a young kid to stand up there against Trevor Hoffman in that situation, and do what he did, isn't easy," Minaya said. "To grind it out isn't something you expect from a kid you pushed to the big leagues. But we had an idea he had the talent.

    "You know, you can scout talent, but sometimes you don't know what a player has until you see him in a situation like that. He's got something inside. He likes the moment. He's going to help this team win World Series games."

    I do not see Milledge as a guy who would wilt in the spotlight, but I see him as someone who thrives. He is cocky, but that also means he believes in himself. He might do some things that irritate people, but he is been a solid citizen overall and is becoming a postgame fixture for SNY because he is always willing to step up and talk.

  • Tobi Stoner pitched a gem in St. Lucie's win over Brevard County. He went eight innings and gave up four hits, no runs, and no walks while striking out four.

    For good measure, Joe Hieptas and his knuckleball closed it out.

  • Phil Humber took a no hitter into the ninth, but lost it with one down. He was over 100 pitches in the seventh inning, but they let him go for it much to my surprise. He made it through the 8th rather quickly which allowed him to come out for the ninth and eventually left with 121 pitches. His line for the night is 8.1 innings, one hit, one earned run, and one walk with ten strikeouts. Great game for Phil. Too bad Burgos came in and pulled a Mota and let the game get tied in the ninth losing the win for Humber.

  • Thirty runs? Thirty fucking runs? They picked up 27 runs on their run differential and pretty much just shit on the Orioles in the process. Nuts. Crazy. Insane.

    Things that I was impressed with:
    1) The Orioles only had to use four pitchers, which is pretty good for a team that gave up thirty runs.
    2) The eighth and ninth batters for the Rangers went eight for twelve with nine runs scored and fourteen RBIs. Best production ever from an 8th and 9th batter at one time on one team? I'm going to have to say yes.
    3) Paul Shuey gave up nine runs in two innings. However, out of the six outs he recorded, five were strikeouts.
    4) Thirty runs scored against the Orioles with only one error. Not one of those runs were unearned.
    5) There was not one stolen base the entire game.

  • Ummm.....yeah.

    That is a man who thinks he is sexy. He is owning the bank of that creek.


  • Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    Recipe for Success

    Jonah Keri was speaking about a book Baseball Between the Numbers a little bit ago in a chat. He had mentioned that Nate Silver, from Baseball Prospectus, wrote a chapter that looked at the past 25 years of playoff teams and the areas at which each team excelled. The conclusion was that teams with 1) two top starters, 2) great defense and 3) a great closer tend to be the best in the playoffs. Also according to the study, regular season offensive prowess had to post-season wins. Of course, we could have looked at the Yankees 2001 through 2006 seasons to see that but that is neither here nor there.

    What is the point is that the Mets are pretty close to that recipe along with Anaheim, San Diego, and Boston. Of course the Mets have a better defense than either of those teams, but those two are no slouches. While the Padres stock is falling and their outlook for the playoffs is not all that favorable, the Mets, the Angels, and the Sox should march right in barring any disasters. Would we be shocked to see a World Series with some configuration of those teams? Not really.

    While they satisfy the above criteria, they are obviously not bereft of offensive ability and could cause some trouble once they get into the playoffs. A lot of this is dependent upon the Mets two top starters pitching like top starters at that time. They have quite a few candidates that could be considered as such but a few have been inconsistent of late and one is pitching against A-ballers.

    The x-factor here is the Mets offense has the ability to go from above average to American League-esque. With Alou back and adding such a consistent force in the lineup and the other shuffles, they could be dangerous on all fronts. Add that to the possibility of solid starting pitching, the top defense, a decent bullpen, and a dominant closer, this team could start firing on all cylinders and blast through the rest of the regular season and continue into the playoffs.

    Of course that is easier said than done but the possibility of that happening is certainly there.

    * * *

  • The Mets sweep of better than people think Nationals team was just what everyone need to assauge the negative feelings from Thursday night's disaster. Now things get really interesting as the Mets head out to face the San Diego Padres with Chris Young who pitches like Pedro Martinez circa 1998 when he is at home, the Dodgers, the Philly, and then Atlanta. After that, the schedule is very favorable for the Mets so this is basically the division. If they can emerge from that part of the schedule unscathed and have a four game lead or better in hand, it's over Johnny.

  • Lastings for the most part will get a free pass on not taking enough walks this season. He only has three walks so far and has been plunked three times as well. He is never going to be a big walk guy, but he certainly is not 2007's version of Pudge Rodriguez.

  • Jake Peavy says it is not about getting a big payday, but it is about getting something fair. Which is a big payday. That is all well and fine, but the fact it is hitting the papers in 2007 when he is inked through 2009 is a bit silly. I am not sure I see the reasoning for him saying the Padres are not showing a big financial commitment to winning and that he envisions a new address for himself in the near future.

  • The Duque was spectacular yet again and the Mets have won 10 of his last 11 starts. He is third in the league in WHIP and 7th in ERA but only has 8 wins to show for this amazing season. He is also absolutely murdering righties to the tune of a .155 BAA and lefties are not getting much against him either and have a .235 BAA.

    How he is doing this I will never know, but he has not been this good since 1998.

  • It is really hard to complain about Castillo and what he was brought to this team.

  • It certainly looks like Beltran is on one of his pattented hot streaks and was named NL Player of the Week. He went 9 for 24 with four homers and ten RBIs in six games.

    "It is about feeling good," Beltran told reporters after Sunday's game. "I am seeing the ball, and I feel balanced, and I am staying back."

    All this is precisely why he can be frustrating at times. He can do it all and should be able to put it all together on a consistent basis, but he doesn't.

    "When he gets hot, he gets ridiculously hot," teammate David Wright said after Sunday's game. "He has the ability to put the team on his shoulders."

    I do not know if it is mental, his injuries that seem to be nagging him at times, or him getting out of synch physically, but if he can figure out how to bottle up his highs and minimize the lows, he can put up some cartoonish numbers.

  • The Mets acquired Jeff Conine for Sean Henry and Jose Castro. I liked Henry and I thought he was having a nice follow up season to his 2006, but it's hard to get upset about a guy who was a bit old for A ball.

    However, you have to believe that the Reds got a pretty decent bounty for Conine and clearly more than the Twins got for Castillo which is inexplicable.

  • It looks like Michael Vick is going to jail for a year to a year and a half.

  • Brandon Webb is a stud. In the days of six inning pitchers, three consecutive complete games shut outs is as fun as it gets. It should be noted that he went seven innings in the three starts previously before that which averages out to eight innings per start in his last six starts. Yes...I'm good at maff....But that's not my point, my point is that few people can that these days and he only topped 111 pitches once in that streak and topped 110 pitches twice.

    He just pounds the strike zone with his many variations of his sinker and srip players of their manhood.

  • Have the Mets even had one player crack the top 20 on BA's Prospect Hot Sheet?