Thursday, August 31, 2006

Welcome Back David!

Guess who's back?
Back again
David's back
Tell a friend
Guess who's back
Guess who's back
Guess who's back
Guess who's back
I've created a monster
cause nobody wants to see strikeouts no more
they want The Prince
I'm chopped liver
So if you want the Prince
This is what I'll give ya
A little grand slam
along with 5 ribbies

(with apologies to Eminem)

So, after starting to rouse from his "scuffling" on Monday, and continuing on Tuesday, "The Prince" pretty much removed all doubt that he is back last night. A first inning Grand Slam (the 10th for the Mets this season), and a run scoring single in the second inning helped lead the team to an 11-3 victory. Carlos Delgado added and opposite field solo shot, and Jose Valentin (also back) had two home runs as well. Dave Williams pitched well, going 7 innings, allowing 9 hits and three runs. Dave needs to work on his baserunning however, as he missed third, costing the team a run, on a potential Jose Reyes triple. Roberto Hernandez and Guillermo Mota finished it up, two scoreless innings each. The defense continued to play well, with it's 12th straight game without an error, breaking the team record set in 1999. Nice work all around.

So who do we attribute David's breakout to? Jobu? Rick Down? David? Someone who wrote David a letter giving him advise? Personally, I credit the reverse jinx put on him by Mike at Mike's Neighborhood in a post on Metsgeek yesterday. Mike, it worked! The Prince is back baby!

So the magic number is now 16. The Mets own the best record in the Major Leagues (by percentage points over the Tigers). This is the latest they can claim that distinction since 2000. The last time they held it at the end of the season was 20 years ago, in the magical 1986 season. We can only hope that this season ends as well.

Good news on the medical front. It looks like El Duque will be back sometime next week. No news on Pedro, and I wonder what the impact of Hurricane Ernesto will be on him and Uncle Cliffy. Cliff should be back no later than next week as well, possibly this weekend, though that may be pushed back due to Ernesto, which shut down the minor league facility in Port St. Lucie yesterday.

One more against the Rockies tonight. Oliver Perez makes his second start as a Met. Hopefully, he captures the first four innings from Saturday night. Perez throws heat, something the rotation lacks. It will be interesting next spring to see where he fits.

After tonight, it is on to Houston, for three against the Astros. Tom Glavine starts Friday against Jason Hirsh. Saturday, John Maine faces Wandy Rodriguez. The series concludes Sunday as Cy Trachsel faces newly re-signed Roy Oswalt (momentary pause as I shed a tear over his being off the potential trade market).

Next Monday, Atlanta comes to town for a 3 game set. Atlanta's tragic number to be eliminated from the Division Title is 13, and they stand 4 games back in the WC hunt. Poor Larry and Andruw. Not really.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

And the Hits Keep Coming

The boys posted another 10 runs last night, on 15 hits. Steve Trachsel gets win # 15 on the season. All the starters had at least 1 hit, including Trax. Nice all around effort. The defense remains strong, with its 11th straight game without an error. Speaking of 11, Carlos Beltran has now scored at least 1 run in 11 straight games, tying Derek (Operation Shutdown) Bell for the Met record. Beltran also hit his 39th home run, breaking his career high, and tied his career high in RBI (now at 110 and counting). Can you say MVP?

Trax is now 12-1 in his last 15 starts. That is simply remarkable. For all of the angst he causes (go to during one of his starts, you'll see what I mean), he just wins baby. As scary as it may be, he is going to be the #3 starter in the playoffs. Now, the only question is the #4, Maine or El Duque. Odds are on Maine, as Duque has a bit more experience pitching out of the pen. Heck, they could tag-team the game.

David Wright had 3 hits last night, including a triple, along with a walk, and 3 RBI. Jose Reyes had another HR and went 2-5. Shawn Green was 2-4 with a walk as well. The only fly in the ointment as it were was Aaron Heilman giving up 2 runs in the bottom of the ninth, but, considering how well he has done of late, he can be forgiven, especially with a 7 run lead at the time.

Strange to see Kaz Matsui getting 3 hits and stealing 2 bases. I don't think he ever had a productive a game as that as a Met. I am partly happy for him, as I feel that had he not been so injury prone, he could have been embraced here. Then again, had he done well his first season, Reyes might have been stuck at 2nd, and who knows how that would have impacted him.

The Mets are quite simply firing on all cylinders now. The NL is theirs, it is time to prep for hte playoffs. The magic number is 17.

I really enjoyed typing those last two sentances.

*****J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets Jets News*****
Surprising absolutely nobody, the Jets announced yesterday that Curtis Martin will remain on the PUP list for the start of the season, meaning the earliest he could play would be week 7. Odds are against that, based on various news reports.

Also, Mangini announced that Chad will be the starting QB. This is interesting, given that Mangini did not appear to think too highly of Chad when he was hired, and of course, Chad's injury. He has done enough to seperate himself from the competition (what little there was). My hope is that Chad is really ready to come back. I know, he can't throw the ball far, but he is a leader, and plays within his limits. Just because a guy has a cannon, does not mean he is a good QB. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present, Browning Nagle. $2 million arm, 2 cent head. Let's get behind Chad and hope for a good season. I am expecting 6-10, hoping for 8-8. Remember, they have an easy schedule for the most part, thanks to last season.

*****Islanders News*****
The Isles announced the signing of Peter Ferraro, a former Rangers first round pick to a one year deal. Peter's brother Chris played for the Isles in 99-00. If this guy don's an Isles jersey at any point during the season, I will be mighty pissed. He better be nothing more than AHL depth.

In more exciting news, the team announced the first Hall of Fame night on November 25. During the ceremony, they will honor Bob Bourne. A quiet guy, overshadowed by bogger stars, Bob actually shows up on a number of Isles top ten lists, for assists, goals, points, SHG, and Game Winning Goals. I remember his end to end rush in one game, a thing of beauty. He was a gifted skater, and a member of all 4 Cup Winning Teams. Nice to see him get some recognition.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I'm Sorry, which NY Team Played Yesterday?

So, despite the back pages of today's papers, the Yankees did not play yesterday, while the Mets did, defeating the Phillies 8-3 behind John Maine and the bats. I did not see the game, as I was working, but thanks to the magic of ESPN Gamecast, as well as the commenter's at Metsgeek, I was able to get somewhat of a flavor for the game.

Angel Hernandez may be shedding his most hated umpire label among Met fans. He seems to have given the Mets a few calls of late, including a disputed single by David Wright yesterday, which pushed the lead to 4-0. Despite some protestations by Charlie Manuel, it appears the ball did hit the third base bag. Given David's "scuffling" (his words) he will take it. Jose Reyes continues to get the job done, as do the Carlos' and Shawn Green. David also chipped in a Sac Fly. Pat Burrell hit a 2 run home run in the 4th, cutting the lead to 6-2, but then gave it back by misplaying a ball, allowing Reyes to get his triple. That's 16 for the season.

All in all, a nice win for the Mets, who are now 15.5 games up on the Philles, with a Magic Number of 18. But, judging from the early sports editions I picked up today, you would never know the Mets went 9-1 in their last ten, because of an earth shattering revelation in Yankeeland.

It seems Carl Pavano, he of the variety of ailments including a painful ass, was involved in a car crash a couple of weeks ago in Florida, which he did not inform the Yankees about. Now Carl is not exactly a star since stealing $40 million... I mean, signing a $40 million contract with George. He has been often injured, and has missed all of this season. The Yanks were apparently hopeful he could contribute towards the end of the season. Why, I have no idea, since he went all of 4-6 with a 4.77 ERA in 100 innings last year. Not exactly stellar numbers.

All three dailies decided that the status of Pavano was worthy of back page coverage, as well as numerous stories and speculation (will he be fined, will they suspend him, will they void his contract). Again, this is a guy who has yet to throw an inning for the team, and cannot be considered that much of an upgrade over the other starters the Yankees have thrown out there (well, except Sidney Ponson, who they already released). Further proof that the NY Sports Media is Yankee biased.

Here is what I want. I want Chris Russo to spend the afternoon today beating up on Pavano for having the gall to drive in the rain. Hey, he spent 5 hours beating up on Filthy Sanchez when he got hit by an alleged drunk driver, he could do the same here. After all, Pavano was driving, and it was his car that went out of control. Odds are against this happening, since Yankee lapdig Mike (His Pompous-ass) Francesa is back from vacation, and would not allow Chris to go off on the Yankees like he did the Mets. More than likely there will be some in depth discussion on the horse races in Saratoga.

In other news:

The media in Dallas (abetted by ESPN) keeps trying to start something between bill Parcells and Terrel Owens. Tuna ain't biting (groan), saying basically he is not gonna fall into their trap. TO is playing along with Bill, saying he agrees that if he doesn't practice, he can't play. Now, I have little love for Tuna, as he left my Jets in a lurch, but I hope he succeeds here in his battle with the press. Nothing would please me more than to see ESPN and others not get the cage match between the two they are looking for. As for whoever leaked the info that TO was fined, Jerry Jones all but promised to fire them if he found out who it was.

Eric Mangini still refuses to name a starting QB for week 1. As I noted here Saturday, Chad did not look all that bad Friday night, though not quite good. Patrick Ramsey has not distinguished himself (no surprise there), Brooks Bollinger is, well, Brooks Bollinger, a nice guy by all accounts, but not an NFL starting QB. Kellen Clemens is too green to be given the nod. Chad is the obvious choice. I love how the media is getting all bent out of shape over Mangini not being forthcoming with information. Look, he is the coach, if he doesn't want to tell you something, that is his right. If he wants to ban players from talking to the press, fine by me, less distractions. Whining about it press guys, isn't going to make him change his way of doing things. Let him coach the team his way.

As for my Isles, not much there. Training camp opens soon. I have my fingers crossed that Ted Nolan can wake up Alexi Yashin. I hope Wang has a contract ready for Rick DiPietro.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Nice Seats!

So last night, for only the third time in my life, I made the trek across the Hudson to see the Jets live. I have now seen a regular season game, a pre-season game, and a playoff game. My record is 1-2, with the win coming in the playoff game.

My first live game was in the early 80's against the Patriots. My dad took me along with a couple of his friends. Wesley Walker was stil playing, as was Ken O'brien, and Johnny Lam Jones. I believe they lost that day.

A couple of years ago, my neighbor asked me if I would like to go to the playoff game against the Colts. After about 30 milliseconds of thought, I said yes. The seats, how shall I say this, were pretty good. It was actually one of the Jets suites, free booze and food. It was quite cold outside that day, but since we were enclosed, no worries. The Jets demolished Peyton Manning 41-0. Sweet.

So last weekend, after returning from my trip, my neighbor calls to ask me to help carry in his new TV. Seems he bought himself a 46" LCD. After I help, he asks if I want to go last night, but tells me the seats are not quite as good as the last time. I say yes, figuring, it's August, so at least it won't be cold. We get to the game, and he gets a call on his cell. After he hangs up he tells me it was a contact of his from work wo works for the Jets, who wants to knwo if we would like to get a bite to eat and a drink in the VIP tent, and then go down to the field for pre-game warmups. So, I spent the hour from 7 - 8 PM last night on the sidelines. Much of the defense did drills within 10 feet of me. At a little before 8, we go to our seats, section 117, row 13, which is in the end-zone. Very good seats again. I have to remember to stay real friendly with this neighbor.

As for the game itself, not much to tell. For a while, it seemed like Paul Hackett was calling the plays, what with all the draws being called. Once they let Chad throw, he looked OK, considering he is coming back from surgery and missed a few days of practice. He is having some issues on sideline throws. He needs more game reps. It was a good move letting him play nearly 3 quarters last night, but he only attempted 15 passes. The running game never really got going.

Justin McCareins probably saved his roster spot with a nice catch and run. Kevin Barlow did not impress, in limited action. Leon Washington looked pretty good, and Blaylock did as well. Justin Miller did not muff any returns, but took an unforgivable personal foul penalty on a 3 and goal incompletion, which would have forced the Giants to kick a field goal. Instead, automatice first down, so the stand went for naught. D'Brickashaw Ferguson had two bad false start penalties. I did not see a lot of Kellen Clemens (sorry Mike) as we left near the end of the third quarter.

One eye was checking for the Met score during the game. While the loss is not devastating, I do not like giving the Phillies hope. Let's hope Oliver Perez does well tonight. And, memo to Rick Down, your third baseman and #5 hitter is in a slump, maybe you could spend a little time with him?

Friday, August 25, 2006

That's the Best the NL's Got?

So the Mets pass another test. The St. Louis Cardinals were a pre-season favorite to win the NL and represent it in the World Series. The first time the Mets faced them in St. Louis, the Cards won 2 of 3. This time, the story was quite different, as the Mets swept their way to victory. Scores of 8-7, 10-8 and 6-2. Last night was particularly sweet, as Dave Williams, picked of from Cincinnati earlier this year got the win, pitching 6 1/3 of two run ball. Shawn Green made his Met debut to nice applause, and drove in a run with a single, and also collected a walk. Carlos Delgado had yet another Home Run. Jose Reyes had 3 hits, The Undertaker had 2, including a triple to drive in Reyes. David Wright had a sac fly and a single. Only 'Stache (in his first start since his hammy) and Beltran (MVP) did not collect a hit from the position players. Beltran did have a walk, 'Stache had 2, as did Delgado.

PItching was strong, Williams pitched well in his second start for the Mets, Roberto Hernandez pitched 1 2/3 scoreless and hitless innings. Guillermo Mota had a 1-2-3 ninth, 9 pitches, 7 strikes, with two strike outs. He looked downright nasty. If he can be fixed, watch out, the Mets may have found a bridge along with Heilman to Wagner.

Tonight, the Phillies visit Shea. They are without Rowand, who broke his ankle landing on his head after a collision with Chase Utley. Ugly play, he could have snapped his neck. Ryan Howard continues to mash (attention all those blaming the HR contest on Wright's slump, it has not impacted Big Papi or Howard), forcing his way into the MVP discussion with Pujols and Beltran. As far as that goes, if St. Louis misses the playoffs, I don't see how Pujols can win it. As for Howard, his defense is, to put it kindly, poor. Beltran on the other hand is a very good center fielder, as well as a very good hitter. Take him out of the lineup, and the Mets are not where they are. They may still lead the NL East, but it would be more of a fight. The discussion over him hitting 2nd is dead. The whole lineup is predicated on him hitting 3rd. It allows Delgado to see better pitches. It gives Reyes and LoDuca protection as well. Move him out of there, and the lineup is simply not as potent. Still strong, but not the same.

This weekend is a test. Philly is hot, and the Mets need to make a statement. Seems odd to say that when the Magic Number is 22, but Philly is playing well. The Mets need to extend the lead more, and build on the lead for Home-Field Advantage in the Playoffs. Brian Bannister returns tonight, facing the lefty Randy Wolf. It will be interesting to see the lineup tonight, will Delgado and Green both play, or will one of them sit? Plus, will the rain play a role. Tomorrow may see the Met debut of Oliver Perez. That should be interesting. Lets see if Omar pulled a fast one on Littlefield. Nady has done well in Pittsburgh (and good for him), Hernandez has been up and down. If Perez can do well, the deal will be a steal, despite what some local writers may write.

By the way, the Magic Number stands at 18 over the Braves. I'm just saying.

Tomorrow, as I will be attending the Jet-Giant game at the Meadowlands (thanks to a friend/neighbor), I will hope to have some interesting Jets news.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

You're Killing me Steve

Last night should have been a nice easy win for the Mets. Chris Woodward remembered how to hit the ball, driving in 3 runs. Jose Reyes hit his 15th HR, a 3 run shot. The Mets had a nice 10-2 cushion after 4 innings. Then Steve Trashball (thanks Coop!) decided to be benevolent and give up a couple of more Home Runs, back to back shots by Scott Rolen and Preston Wilson to lead off the 5th. He then walked Encarnacion, and Willie yanked him. Thankfully. Another 3 home runs later, making the count 26 long-ball given up this season.

There has been a lot of discussion over who should be in the rotation once the playoffs start. The definites are Pedro and Glavine. After that, the choices are El Duque, John Maine and Trashball. Now, Duque has a good playoff history, particularly as a starter, and did pitch in relief last year for the White Sox. The fact that he can work out of the pen, while Maine and Trashball can not, probably means Duque will be in the pen, leaving Maine and Trashball as the other two starters. This is a problem, as Trashball cannot be counted on for the most part.

Yes, he is now 13-5. However, he has a 5.00 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP. This is not a guy fans are going to feel really comfortable with in a key game. Yes, he finds a way to win, but that is usually due to the offense scoring runs in bunches. He has 3 starts this season of 7 innings, the rest are 6 or fewer. Colorado, San Francisco and St. Louis (in May) are the teams he went 7 against. St. Louis is good, the others, not so much.

Now, I know El Duque has had his share of stinkers since becoming a Met, but he has also had more starts where he has dominated the oppostion, including games against the Yankees, San Diego, Atlanta. Maine, despite his poor start Tuesday, has been dominant since returning. In July, he was 1-2, with a 1.63 ERA. In August, he is 2-0, while his ERA is 5.24, primarily the poor game against Pujols.

Now, we know Willie likes his veterans, probably giving Trashball the edge, but he should consider using the guy who gives his team the best chance of winning. In the playoffs, runs are at a premium, there are no guarantees the offense can support him. The vote here is for Duque and Maine. Sorry Steve.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Carlos y Carlos > Albert

Well, Albert Pujols certainly put on a show last night. After being struck out by John Maine in the first innings, Albert apparently was upset, and decided to smack Maine around in retribution. First came a 3 run shot, then, following Maine walking two guys to load the bases, a Grand Slam. Not a good outing for Mr. Maine, but he can be forgiven for a "stinker". At least, that is what Willie said in the post game news conference.

Meanwhile, Carlos Delgado apparently decided that he wasn't going to wait very long to hit his 400th career HR. After hitting number 398 on Sunday, Delgado hit number 399 in the bottom of the second. Then, following Pujols' displays in the 4th and 5th, Delgado came to bat in the 5th, with the Mets down 7-1 to Pujols. Delgado destroyed a Jeff Weaver (the cure for most flailing lineups) offering to the right field pen, nearly clearing it. It was now Pujols 7, Delgado 5, and the fans were getting pumped up.

We pause this recitation of offense prowess to discuss the Met bullpen. Last night, Mota made his debut (he got Piazza's locker by the way, interesting, or maybe not), 1 inning, 1 BB, 2 K's. Not bad. Pedro Part Dos pitched 1/3 of an inning, with 2 BB's. Chad Bradford bailed him out, getting Pujols to ground into a DP. Aaron (Das Wunderkind) Heilman pitched a scoreless 9th, 2 K's, and got the win, thanks to Carlos Uno.

In the 8th, Met fans were treated to the return of Timo Perez as a pinch hitter. Not too much of a reaction (I hate Timo, learn to run). Then, the moment a lot of fans were waiting for, Braden Looper came in. Now, the rule of thumb for former Met closers is this. Suck here, but when you go to your new team, you will master the Mets forever. See Benitez, Armando. So of course, Looper gets out of a jam. Lots of boos for Looper, and I swear I heard Dire Straits "Money for Nothing" on the PA system just before he came in. Gary Cohen on SNY was bringing up the injury, try to excuse things. That makes me angry. If it hurt that much, tell the team, and they could have dealt with his 6 week or so absence. He stunk, he's gone. Screw him.

Bottom of the ninth, over on Metsgeek, we thought Reyes would get a hit, The Undertaker would move him over, and one of the Carlos' would drive him in. Well, Reyes grounded out, but the Undertaker singled to center. Then came Carlos Uno. First pitch from Izzy (Izzy is not covered under the rule noted above, as he was a starter here, not a closer), Carlos goes BOOOM. I mean, he smoked that ball. Gary Cohen was going nuts. I was going nuts, the fans, even Beltran threw his helmet close to home and jumped onto the plate. He never looked so happy. The comeback was complete, Mets win. Very nice.

By the way, that's 5 in a row. Not bad.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Good News/Bad News

Time for some Good News/Bad News

1. Good news - The Post is reporting that Tom Glavine will NOT need surgery for the coldness he felt. APparently he had the angiogram yesterday, and it is felt that medication will treat it, and he could be back next week.

2. Bad news - Ramon Castro felt something in his knee yesterday. What the issue is is unknown.

3. Good news - Aaron Heilman - 'nuff said.

4. Bad news - David Wright is still slumping. Obviously, the Mets need him to start hitting.

5. Good news - The Carlos' are hot. I hope Todd Hundley is not going to miss his name in the record books too much.

6. Bad news -Roberto Hernandez has not recaptured last season's form yet.

7. Good news - the fill in pitchers - Dave Williams for example, have acquitted themselves nicely.

8. Bad news - the Yanks swept the Sox, so we get to hear the media go ga-ga over them.

9. Good news - Both Mike (His Pompousass) Francessa and Chris (Little Sheltie) Russo are on vacation this week. No polluting of the airways.

No Mets news -

1. Good News - Chad Pennington returned to practice yesterday. Should start Friday against the Giants. Doubly good news for me, as I am going to the game.

2. Bad news - Curtis Martin may indeed be done. He renegotiated his contract, reducing his cap hit again. Curtis is/was a great player. He will be missed.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I'm Home

After 26 total hours of driving, nearly 1,300 miles in total, a touch of sunburn, lots of good food and more beer than I care to remember, I'm back. The week away with the wife, kids and friends was quite nice, but I missed our boys. Lot's of stuff went down while I was away, losses, wins and injuries. Of course, being so far away, the only lifeline I had to the Mets was ESPN, for all the good it did me. Apparently, the only sports news of interest was that Tiger Woods was going to be paired with Lefty in the first round of the PGA, and the Yankees and Red Sox were going to play 5 games in 4 days for the first time in decades. These were the two main stories on ESPN News. Ugh.

I did see the Jets trade for Lee Suggs, only to have the trade voided by a failed physical (perhaps the Mets could use the same doctors going forward?). How would you like to be Derrick Strait right now? The Isles signed Sean Hill for the defense, good pickup there. Still no progress on signing Rick DiPietro, and apparently, according to Larry Brooks in the Post, Charles Wang will handle the negotiations, not GM Garth Snow. But wait, Wang is on vacation, so he will have 2 weeks before the start of camp to get a deal done. Curioser and curioser. Of course, Larry hates the Isles, and could be twisting things to make the team look bad, not that they need all that much help.

On to the Mets. I left last Saturday, and the Mets won both Saturday and Sunday, prepping for a 4 game set in Philly. Which wound up being awful for a few reasons. The first of course was losing 3 of 4, and getting pounded. Pedro goes down with a calf injury as the Mets fell 13-0. Tuesday wasn't much better, as El Duque got shelled 11-4. Wednesday saw Glavine pitch for what could be the last time this season and lose 3-0. Thursday the boys woke up and won 7-2 behind Maine and the Carlos'.

The Yanks and Red Sox were getting ready to do something no other teams have ever done, play 5 games in 4 days.

This past weekend saw a sweep of the Rockies, which was tempered by the news on Glavine. Saturday saw the ceremony to honor the 1986 Champions. Alas, I missed it, getting home too late. I did see some recaps on the news, nice "ECW" bent having the guys come in through the stands. Straw, who was dead to me, is now alive, having appeared. Let's see how long he remains in the good graces.

Meanwhile, the Yanks and Sox were playing 5 games in 4 days.

At least I got to see most of yesterday. The Carlos' were at it again, and El Duque rebounded nicely, 6 shutout innings, and one stolen base! The pen held, Aaron Heilman continuing his resurgence. Wagner with another save, leading the NL now.

News flash, the Yanks and Red Sox played 5 games in 4 days. (Yes, I am annoyed). The Sox are now done, the Yanks will win the AL East. Can we all just move along now? Thanks.

So where do the Mets stand? Well, down two starting pitchers, one left fielder, and still in first place by 14 games. The Magic Number is 26. Maine continues to impress, Trax is still a surprise, Duque still has his off days. Bannister or Perez could see some time, as may Pelfrey. This team needs a healthy Pedro if Glavine is out (I know, not exactly a shock to anyone). What looked to be a good shot at the WS is looking bleaker. We shall see.

It's good to be back.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Gone Beaching

As I noted earlier this week, the Cafe will be closed starting tomorrow, as I head south for some sun and fun with the wife and kids. I should be back on Monday August 21.

While I'm gone, to continue with yesterday's closing, some more "Fun with Numbers"

For anyone interested in how to determine the magic number, try this link.

The only clutch hitting third baseman in New York is quite good really (like you did not know that). Let's review, he won yesterdays game with his double, he won the game Tuesday as well, driving in the tying and winning runs. Let's look at some season stats:

Wright is hitting 312, 22 HR's, with 86 RBI, 388 OBP and a 552 SLG.
RISP - 368 avg, 5 HR, 62 RBI, 440 OBP, 576 SLG and 1.016 OPS.

Let's look at the other NY third baseman, shall we?

He is hitting 282, with 23 HR's, 81 RBI, 385 OBP, 494 SLG
RISP - 285, 9 HR's, 60 RBI, 421 OBP, 509 SLG, 1.003 OPS

Best of all, Wright is making $374,000 compared to $25,680,727, or 1.5% of the pay.

Of course, the other third baseman is leading the league in being booed by his own inappreciative fans.

Who would have thought the Mets would have a 14 game lead on August 11? I mean, at the beginning of the season, not yesterday.

Who would have thought that the Braves would be 17 games back?

69 is a very nice number. For wins, get your minds out of the gutter.

Carlos Beltran is having quite the season:
101 games, 377 at bats - 85 runs, 107 hits, 29 doubles, 33 HR's, 97 RBI, 284 avg, 386 OBP, 623 SLG, 1.010 OPS. His team is the best in the NL, with a 69-44 record.
Why was he being booed during game 1 again?

A leading MVP candidate, for comparisons sake:
96 games, 355 at-bats - 85 runs, 114 hits, 22 doubles, 34 HR's, 91 RBI, 321 avg, 430 OBP, 676 SLG, 1.106 OPS. Oh, and his team is slumping lately, with a 62 - 52 record. I write of Albert Pujols of course.

Well, that's all for now. Leaving early tomorrow/late tonight. Lots of driving, 670 miles for about 12 hours (I have two young girls, I will be making a few pit stops I am sure).

While I'm out, please be sure to check out the links to the right if you have not already done so. Some great writers on that list.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Sweeping is Fun

Despite fielding what was likened to a split-squad spring training game lineup by Matthew Cerrone on Metsblog, the Mets completed the three game sweep of the San Diego Piazza's. El Duque gets the win, 7 innings, 3 runs, 4 hits and 1 walk. El Duque even had a single. Heilman and Pedros Part Dos closed it out.

Strangely enough, it was the first sweep of the season at home. Looking at the lineup before the game, which featured Michael Tucker, Mike DeFelice, and Ricky Ledee, fans could be forgiven for not expecting a 7 run outburst. El Duque gave up a 2 run HR in the first to Gonzalez, but shut them down from there until the 7th, when he was dinged for another run to tie the game at three. Then, it was time for the only clutch 3rd baseman in New York to go to work.

Jose Reyes led off with a single. Endy Chavez followed with a bunt for a single. David Wright doubled in a run, to give the Mets the lead. Following a Delgado intentional walk, 'Stache Valentin doubled in Endy and David. Michael Tucker greeted Alan Embree with another double, making the score 7-3.

Mike Piazza did not have an at-bat, in possibly his last game at Shea this season. Too bad the Mets didn't get a chance to beat the crap out of Trevor Hoffman. Perhaps they can do so in the playoffs. Wonder what he thinks of the Mets chances now?

Fun with Numbers:

The magic number is at 36 over the Phillies, 34 over the Braves.

For those who are mean spirited (like me) for the Braves to win the division, the Mets would have to go 25-24 for the rest of the season, while the Braves would have to go 42-7.
Phillies would have to go 39-10.

OK, Let's End the Love Affair

Let me start by being perfectly clear, when Mike Piazza was a Met, he was my favorite for the time he was here. A part of me wished they had signed him cheaply in the offseason and platooned him with Castro, the two made a nice tandem last year. I felt that was a better option than Molin or Hernandez. The other part realized that his prime was past, and it was time to move on. So, I was happy when Omar traded for Lo Duca, and happy when Mike landed on his feet in San Diego.

I was also pleased with the reception Mike received early on in Game 1, and prior to the game. It was heartening to see Met fans showing their appreciation for a former player who meant a lot to the team. I remember what it was like when he first came here, and I recall him leading the team bad to the playoffs in 1999, and to the WS in 2000. However, it's time for fans to remember that Mike plays for the other team now, and the cheering can stop.

Others may not agree with me here, and that it fine. We all have our own opinions. But hear (read) me out first please.

We love our idols, we look up to players who come to NY and play hard and succeed. Mike did all that. Mike also suffered through the Art Howe Error, where Art liked to tell the press things before he spoke to Mike. He had a number of big hits for the team, and while he was not an outspoken leader, he led by example, play hard, give your all.

Tuesday, Met fans thanked him for all he did for the team, many times. Last night though, it should have been, thanks for the memories, now don't hurt my team. The first time up, he strikes out. The next time up, he hits a HR, and gets a curtain call. Now, I can kind of understand that, but after the second home run, why were there cheers? He was bringing the Padres closer to a win. I'm sorry, but I cannot root against my team, no matter who the opponent is.

Then we get to the 8th, a runner on, and Heilman on the mound. A smattering of boos were heard. Progress in my book. The game is on the line people, how can you be cheering for the opposition? Again, no matter how beloved the player, the team comes first. On another site, Metsgeek.con, a contributor (an frequent commenter in the Cafe), dptydwg420 noted

"What about Heilman? You're willing to throw away the confidence of our 8th inning guy and 2nd most important bullpen arm so mikey can have an even bigger day you can tell ur kids about? Nothing like selling out your current team to please a player from the past.

That could have hadrepercussionss for the rest of the season. We all know Heilman's psyche is fragile to begin with."

Very true. There comes a time where you need to show support for your team, over that of supporting Mike. Now, I'm not saying he should have been booed out of Shea, but the cheers should not have been there.

As far as booing, can we all please lay off of Lastings Milledge? The 21 year old is admittedly not playing well now, but does anyone really think booing him is going to help? We run the risk of ruining his psyche by booing every misplay. I have news for you, there is no other option right now. Ricky Ledee? Nope. Michael Tucker? Nope. Cliff is on the DL, so Endy Chavez is going to be starting in left. Lastings will be playing every day in right. How about a little love for the guy? Maybe supporting him will help. It's not like he is a $25 million a year defending MVP who is slumping. He is a 21 year old guy, who was possibly brought up before he was totally ready. Boo him, and we risk hurting him. Support him, and the "risk" is that he improves, and helps the team.

Afternoon game today. El Duque vs Chris Young. Productivity is going to be real low around the city today. As well as at Shea, as we can expect some regulars to get a rest.

Let's go Mets.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Welcome Back Mike's, now lose

Well, the two Mike's made there return last night, Cameron and Piazza. Cameron did get a nice ovation prior to his first at-bat, proving that Met fans are the classiest fans in NY. The reception for Piazza was of course much larger, longer and heartfelt.

There was some discussion in other places as to what the proper reaction to Piazza should be. Some called for him to have a game winning hit. Now, I can understand how fans feel, the team has a large lead, and Mike was a beloved person, but for me, the team triumphs over the man. I am pleased that the organization showed a video for him, and am pleased that the fans in attendance (and probably more than a few at home) cheered him when he stepped to the plate in the top of the second to the sounds of "Voodoo Child". However, calling for your team to lose is not the way a fan should act. The Padres are a potential post-season opponent. They should be given no quarter. Thankfully, that result was not what happened, Mike had a single in 4 plate appearances, and Trax made him look awful in his first at-bat.

On the other hand, there were some who felt that there should be little cheering, as he was not a true Met, and he only signed as a FA at the end of the 1998 season because the team offered him the most money. This opinion could not be more wrong in my opinion. Other teams would have swooped in to sign him, he was the elite catcher of that time, and one of the most feared hitters. Not only that, he had been booed towards the end of the season. He could have easily decided to leave. He did not, he signed, and led the team to the playoffs in 1999 and 2000.

Now Mike was not a rah-rah guy. He led by example, playing hard, and trying to do his best for the team. How many big hits did he have in Orange & Blue? Tons. There were times he was the only feared bat in the lineup, yet he still continued to produce. Art Howe treated him like crap, and yet he did little complaining. Did he answer questions posed to him, sure, but he did not seek out the press to bitch, and kept his comments measured. When Clemens threw the bat at him, he could have charged the mound, but he knew he would be costing his team, so he did not. Smart move, yet he was vilified for it by some fans. Part of me wished he would have beaten the daylights out of Clemens, but at the same time, I understood why he reacted the way he did.

The applause was rightfully given last night, the chants of "Mike Pi-A-Za" were great (though the Islander fan in me hated the Ranger tinged cadence). In a way, I compare Mike's return to that of Mark Messier. Messier left on bad terms, taking more money from Vancouver as opposed to staying with the Rangers. The fans however overlooked that, and gave him a hero's welcome upon his return. Now, I know, Messier won a Cup (the first in over 50 years), and Piazza did not win a WS, but Mike brought the team back to the playoffs after an 11 year absence. The cheers were deserved.

Now, the return is over, the applause can return to polite acknowledgement, and fans should save their voices for their own team starting tonight.

Recap Time

Steve Trachsel (interestingly, spell check gives "tragically" as a replacement for his last name)pitched his normal 5 2/3 innings, giving up 2 runs. The pen held from there, though Billy Wagner made things interesting in the 9th, allowing a walk and a single, but fanned Dave Roberts to end the game.

Carlos Beltran apparently brought his swing home with him from the roadtrip, getting 3 doubles his first 3 times at the plate. David Wright had 3 hits, 2 RBI, 1 run and 1 SB. Jose Reyes had a single and stole 2 bases. Paul Lo Duca had a single. While the lineup did not explode, it was nice to see Beltran hit at home, Wright continue to warm up, and Lo Duca continue to hit, despite all the BS in the press.

Tonight we have Pedro going against Clay Hensley. Hensley is 7-8 with a 4.35 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. Should be interesting to see Mike vs. Pedro.

Finally, as far as Lo Duca is concerned, I support him. To quote Forrest Gump "That's all I have to say about that." While I am clearly not a member of the media, I will abide by Paul's wish to keep the discussion to baseball. Let the muckrakers have their day. One of these days, the players in NY are going to get fed up with the BS and stop talking to the print media.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Odds & Ends

As there was no Met game last night, time for me to do a little housecleaning.

1. Jets camp has been interesting. Curtis Martin is on the PUP list. This is a concern for Jet fans, as the running back would be Derrick Blaylock, who is a step down from Curtis. There was a rumor that perhaps Curtis is on the PUP list so that he can miss the early part of camp, giving him a little more rest, and not having to worry about the 2 a days. Let's hope that is the case.

2. Also at Jet camp, Chad Pennington is apparently the front runner in the QB competition. Now, I like Chad, he is a gamer, but when a QB with a twice repaired rotator cuff is leading all comers to be the starter, that's not saying much for your back-ups. I did not like the Patrick Ramsey trade, the drafting of Kellen Clemens irritated me on his name alone, and Brooks Bollinger, well, he's Brooks Bollinger dammit.

3. Garth Snow has been responding to fan emails over on Nothing of note really, just nice to see him taking the time doing so.

4. Mike Piazza makes his return to Shea tonight. Lots of press over this, and a lot of differing opinion on how fans should react. My take, cheer him his first time up. He deserves it. However, that is where it ends. No rooting for him to hit a game winner, let him do that to the Braves, Phillies et al. The Mets need wins baby. I liked Mike as a Met, but he is no longer a Met, so I cannot root for him over my team. I would not root for a former Jet against the Jets, or a former Islander against the Isles. This is not a case of a player being banished, this was a joint decision for Mike not to return. Give him thanks for a good stretch here, and that is it.

5. Michael Kay is an idiot. For more on why, visit either Metstradamus or Toasty Joe. Let's just say the man has issues.

6. Chris Russo is still an idiot. Now he is slamming the agents for Jose Reyes, saying they left money on the table, considering what David Wright got. Two things Chris. First, Jose signed a shorter deal, so he can hit Free Agency earlier, and make up the difference. Second, Wright is a power hitter, and chicks (and management) love the long ball. Of course Wright is going to be paid more you numbskull. Reyes, for all his talent, is a speed guy. Speed guys make less.

Finally, the Cafe will be closed for the most part next week (8/12 - 8/20) as the proprietor and family head off to the beach. I will try to get a post or two up, but am unsure of the availability of a computer (I do not own a laptop), and whether the sun/beer will impair my ability to put together coherent thoughts (or make it worse than usual). I will of course do my best to follow our boys.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Wally Matthews - Class A A-Hole

Now, I rarely directly link to newspaper articles. For one, I read a lot of stories, and assume most who visit here do the same. Second, I had not mastered the art of linking until earlier today. But there is a story in today's Newsday that requires a link and some ranting on my part.

Here is Wally Matthews, formerly of the NY Post showing that you can take the boy out of the Post but not the Post out of the boy.

Now, this has to be one of the biggest loads of crap that I have ever read from Matthews. He is honestly trying to say that Steve Phillips should get credit for not signing A-Rod when he was a free agent, cause the Mets would not have been able to afford Beltran, Wagner, Pedro, Delgado, Lo Duca, and might have traded with Reyes or Wright, since A-Rod would be manning one of those two positions. Talk about revisionist history.

Phillips going public with the Mets concerns over A-Rod's desires (plane, merchandise booth) and the 24-1 mindset, probably hurt the Mets more than helped. By going public, Phillips alientated the most powerful agent in baseball in Scott Boras. Yo don' think this cost the Mets when it came time to sign other Boras clients in the ensuing years? Or maybe made other agents think twice about dealing with the Mets? Or maybe players thought that the organization was going to publicize all of their desires?

There are few Met fans who wold have been upset had the team signed A-Rod in the winter of 2000. The team had just lost the WS, and A-Rod would have helped the team the next season. As it was, it went into a tailspin that lasted until last season. You don't think that bat would have helped a bit?

The article above comes on the heels of another piece of crap on Sunday, talking baout cheating. He had the audacity to throw David Wright's name into a sentance with others who have either been proven to have used enhancers, or suspected. Here is the offending sentence, that was apparently left out of the original story in some editions, but was noted in the corrections section this morning :
The truth is, we don't even know if they're really testing, or if they are, how many positives they're finding. [CORRECTION: A line was omitted from Wallace Matthews' column in some editions of yesterday's paper. The sentence should have read: "All I know is, Jason Giambi looks as muscular as ever, David Wright certainly is a growing boy, and isn't it funny how Bobby Abreu hit 164 home runs over eight seasons and just 14 in the past 13 months? " Pg. A13 ALL 8/7/06] All I know is, Jason Giambi looks as muscular as ever, David Wright certainly is a growing boy, and isn't it funny how Bobby Abreu hit 164 home runs in eight seasons and just 14 in the past 13 months?

Now tell me Wally, what the hell are you trying to prove? Oh, I mention a Yankee, so I better mention a Met? You piece of shit, you besmirch a 23 year old star in the making with absolutely NO FUCKING PROOF that he has ever done more than drink a Coca-Cola before a game or a Vitamin Water, and lump him in with Giambi, who basically admitted he used the juice? As for Abreu, if he never used, then you have malinged two good ballplayers. A few years ago you took the Post to task for their BS stroy on Mike Piazza, and quit in protest when they would not print your column. Now, you are no better than the Post. I hope Newsday realizes that you are a no good piece of shit and fires your ass. Go back to the Post where this type of muck-raking bullshit fits in. I expect better from Newsday.

That's two stories in a row where Wally has done a diservice to Met fans, and the organization. I for one will never read another column by this hack. If not for its otherwise excellent sports section, I would not buy another copy of the paper.

The Week that Was

Nice week for the Mets off the field, as they locked up the left side of their infield for the next 4+ years. More on that in a minute.

I have to admit, I did not see much of the games this weekend, due to various family obligations. The loss Friday night was disappointing, but the pitching of Tom Glavine and John Maine the last couple of days made up for it.

Friday, the bats were sleepy, and El Duque was the victim of a phantom Balk call. Randy Wolf held the bats in check, and the Philly bullpen did the same. When Mike Defilice is in your lineup, you know runs are going to be tough to get.

Glavine rebounded nicely after allowing a 3 run HR to Ryan Howard in the first, giving the Mets a chance to come back against John Lieber. I was listening in the car a Lieber turned into Steve Sax (or A-Rod, or Chuck Knoblauch), allowing Beltran to reach on an error. It was all downhill from there for the Phil's as the Mets put up a 3-spot to take a 4-3 lead. Poor fielding on a catchable bloop by David Wright played a key role in extending the inning, and Edny Chavez came up with yet another key hit.

Last night, Reyes went yard, with a Grand Slam, Wright celebrated his newfound wealth with an RBI double, and John Maine served notice that he should be considered for a playoff rotation spot with 6 shutout innings. Maine has now gone 23 innings without allowing a run. As for the player he was obtained in return for, well, Kris Benson is about to go on the DL, again, with arm issues. Methinks that trade is a win for the Mets at this point.

As to the signings of Wright and Reyes, I have to give Omar a lot of credit. There is a school of thought that locking up guys before they enter arbitration is foolish, and the other side thinks it is wise. Put me on the "wise" side of the ledger, as signing them now gives you cost certainty (arbitors have been known to award ridiculous sums of cash), buys the organization some good will (DW was upset this spring when he was renewed for barely over the minimum), and shows the fans you value your youth. Not having to worry about pissing the two cornerstones of your franchise off in a hearing is also quite nice. For an excellent take on the signings, and a correlation to a great team from the 1990's, visit
For me, the fact those guys are going to be around for a while, along with Beltran, means the team has 3 key positions locked up. Now, this offseason can be spent looking for pitching. Meanwhile, Jose and David can spend their time searching for new homes. In New York. And be there for a long time.

Last thought for today, for the past couple of months, it seems Met fans have had a new "MVP" every couple of weeks. First it was Reyes, then Wright, now, Beltran has pushed into the race. Now, I like the fact that they are all doing well, but my concern is that every time we fans (or the media) start to tout one of them, they soon after go into a slump. Let's stop the talk for a while. Though, if I hear one more commentator state "Well, Pujols should win" or something to that effect, I am going to be sick. The Cards are in a free fall, and Albert is not helping. An MVP is supposed to carrry his team, and I do not see Albert doing that. Certain other players however, have been doing so.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Welcome Back Pedro

Game two of the Return of Pedro took place last night, and helped allay the fears of Met fans. The line for the night was quite good

6 IP, 4 H, 1ER, 0 BB, 9K, 100 Pitches

Not a bad nights work. Now, the Marlins may not have the best record, and have a lot of young guys on the team, but there is talent there. Cabrera, despite the appearance of a bad attitude, is a monster. Mike Jacobs took Pedro deep. Dan Uggla is a 290 hitter.

So Pedro's start was good news. Roberto Hernandez provided an inning of crisp relief, nice to see after a somewhat tough outing the night before. David Wright warmed up a bit, going 2-4 against Dontrelle. Wright seems to do well against him. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come from David. Aaron Heilman followed up two strong outings by laying an egg. Frankly, he should not have been out there a 3rd game in a row. Perhaps it was a test to see how he could do, which the luxury of a 12 game lead allows. The problem is that he is now more than likely not available until Sunday. Get ready for Royce Ring folks.

Dontrelle matched Pedro well. He gave up 1 run on 7 hits, with 3 walks in 8 innings. Bow, it would be nice to have him on the Mets helping to anchor the staff. Not going to happen of course, but it is nice to dream.

The state of the Marlins is sad. The team drew 24,000 last night, for a matchup of two top pitchers. The crowd was decidedly pro-Met, as it was the whole series. I know the team has won a couple of World Series in a short time span, but something needs to be done. They play in a football stadium, can't draw, and blow the team up every couple of years. Personally, between them and the Rays, it appears the experiment of baseball in Florida has failed. I know the players union would not like it, but it may be time to contract. We wonder why it is so hard to find good pitchers today for all teams, it is because there are too many teams, spreading the little bit of talent out there too thin, and allowing marginal guys to play in the bigs. The same can be said of hockey and basketball, even football to some extent. If they can't contract, then move the teams. Find a new home. Heck, look into Vegas if you must, at least there won't be any rain-outs.

El Duque tonight vs Randy Wolf as the Phillies come to Shea. Phils are now 12 back of the Mets, and only 3.5 out of the Wild Card. Let's hope El Duque can build off his last start against the Braves.

One last thing, it is nice to see the Mets locking of Jose Reyes. A smart contract for them and him, avoiding arbitration and buying out a year (2 if the option is picked up) of Free Agency. This is a building block guy, and the Mets did right in signing him now. The next step, David Wright. Get to work Omar.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tum Tum Tum Tum TUMS

You would hope that when the Mets jump out to a 4 run first inning lead, and then stretch the lead to 6-0 that you could keep the medicine cabinet closed for the night. Alas, with the combination of Steve Trachsel and Billy Wagner, the bottles of Tums are close to empty in MetFanLand this morning.

The hot hitting of the Mets against Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco continued last night. The Mets have now bombed him the 3 times they have faced him this season. Last night, Nolasco came in riding a hot streak, he had carried a no-hitter into the 8th his last start (albeit, against the Phillies, but still). Well, the Mets beat him up from the start. Jose Reyes led off with a single and stole second. It was pretty much all downhill from there as Lo Duca singled to score Reyes, Beltran walked and Delgado singled to load the bases. Uncle Cliff continued to swing the bat well, driving in two runs. Edny Chavez drove in the last run. The Mets added another run in the second, and Nolasco did not come out for the third, where the Mets scored again.

Warning Trax held the Marlins scoreless for 2 innings, allowing a run in the third on a couple of singles. He escaped further damage when Miguel Cabrera was thrown out at second trying to stretch his single. After a scoreless 4th and 5th, the Tums came out, as Far and Gone Trax appeared, allowing HR's to Hanley Ramirez and Cabrera. We saw the return of Roberto Hernandez to the Orange & Blue, as he came in to close out the 6th. Hernandez had a tough 7th, allowing a single following a dropped 3rd strike by Lo Duca. Pedro Part Dos entered, and walked Uggla. Chad Bradford came in and allowed a 2 run single to Cabrera. It was now 6-5.

In the top of the 8th, Stache walked, and then was allegedly picked off first. He appeared to be back in time. The umps would strike again in the top of the 9th, as the Mets loaded the bases, but had Cliff Floyd strike out on a pitch so far outside that people in the first row were scattering (well, they would have if there were any fans at the game). Uncle Cliff had a few unkind words for the ump, and was tossed. Stache flied out to end the threat.

Aaron Heilman meanwhile pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, with 2 K's. This is the second strong outing in a row for Aaron. Hopefully, he can keep it up. The score was 6-5 entering the bottom of the ninth, and our Sandman gave us fits again. Cue the Tums.

Billy gave up a leadoff single. First Tums popped. The next batter, a pinch hitting pitcher, was plunked in the leg while squaring to bunt. Time for another couple of Tums, first and second, no out. The next batter, Ramirez, channeled Rey Ordonez thankfully, and bunted foul to strike out. Billy then turned on the juice, striking out Uggla and Cabrera, the latter on some really high heat.

So the final score was Mets 6, Marlins 5 and Ed ingesting about 8 Tums.

Tonight, Pedro vs Dontrelle. Should be quite a matchup. Dontrelle does quite well against the Mets. Pedro, after a rough first inning in his start Friday night against the Braves, settled down nicely. A healthy Pedro is necessary. Here's hoping he is, and that I will not need many Tums tonight.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Day After

The question in my mind last night was how would the team react to the loss of Filthy. Would Heilman be able to step up? Would Hernandez be able to resume his role from last year? Would the rest of the pen be able to step up? Finally, would Pelfrey be able to go longer than he has of late to reduce the stress on the pen.

Notice that none of my worries were about the closer, Billy "Country Time" Wagner. He had done well of late, including a 1 1/3 inning stint on Sunday. It was nice to feel confident in the closer, and it was confidence earned. Alas, that is where the concern should have been placed.

Pelfrey did OK. Not great, but not poorly. A poor play by Lastings Milledge did not help in the first, as Lastings got a bad read on a ball and it fell in. That contributed to a run for the Marlins, which tied the score at 1. Carlos Beltran would continue his hot play of late with a 2 run homer to help the Mets to a 4-1 lead. Later, Pelfrey would give up 3 more runs to make it a 4-4 game. In his last inning, the 6th, Pelfrey would get out of a bases loaded jam with a key strikeout. Willie challenged him, like Willie had done to John Maine last week, and it worked out again.

Chad Bradford and Aaron Heilman each pitched scoreless innings. In the 7th, Jose Reyes gave the Mets the lead, seemingly giving Pelfrey a win. Wagner came in to the ninth, gave up a dink single, got an out on a sacrifice, then served up a fastball that pinch-hitter Josh Willingham clubbed for a game winning HR. Wagner appeared to have his velocity, but his placement was off.

Now, given that he has pitched well of late, Wagner should get a pass for last night. The best closers have their off nights, and this may have been one for Billy. The thing is, given the loss of Filthy, Met fans want to have that feeling of confidence in their closer. We had been getting there, but last night may cause it to waver a bit. Should Wagner bounce back strongly, it can be looked at as an aberration. Should another poor outing follow shortly, things will be different.

Good news from last night, Reyes had a walk, triple and HR with 3 runs scored. Paul Lo Duca went 3-5. Beltran went 2-4 with a HR. Lastings Milledge had 3 walks, showing some patience that was lacking his last time up with the Mets.

Bad news, well, David Wright continues a mild slump, 0-4 with 3 K's. Pelfrey had a few walks. Wagner was mentioned above. Then there was Milledge.

Milledge had the misplay, and appeared to walk away from Willie when the inning ended as Willie spoke to him. Now, I have given Lastings a lot of slack, I think some of what he has done has been honest rookie mistakes (the poor fielding in Fenway, the hi-5's) and some were a bit more worrisome (the lateness in Philly, the poor baserunning incident). However, if he did in fact turn away from Willie, this is a problem. I don't care who you are, if your boss is talking to you, you do not turn away. Now, maybe he did not hear Willie, I don't know, I was not there. But if he did hear him, and walked away, that is unacceptable.

The kid has a lot of talent. The last thing he needs is to get a bad reputation among his teammates, coaching staff, and fans. The Mets have seen a number of good young players over the years go down a bad path, to their detriment, and that of the team. Gregg Jeffries is one example. The guy had a lot of talent, but seemed to be a loner who did not need to listen to anyone. Jeff Kent had similar issues. While Jeffries did not have a great career, Kent did, alas on other teams. Not only would Lastings hurt his value to the team as a player, but as possible trade bait. Who is going to want to give up anything of value if he winds up with a bad rep? My hope is that Willie, another coach, or even a player can work with him. He is an important part of the team now, and he needs to know that. He also needs to know that he is no longer in high-school, meaning he is no longer the man.

Tonight we have Trachsel vs Nolasco. The Mets have hit Molasco pretty hard the two times they have faced him this year. Nolasco has pitched well of late though. Here's to a good performance by Trachsel and the bats tonight. With Nady being gone, the guys who have been slumping (Wright, Floyd) need to pick it up. A couple of hits from Milledge would be nice as well.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Oh Shit!

Met fans were living a high yesterday morning. They had just watched their team sweep the Braves for the first time in 21 years or so in Atlanta, ending what little hope the Braves had of catching the Mets. They awoke to news that the Mets were involved in discussions to land either Jason Schmidt from San Francisco, or Roy Oswalt from Houston. Then, rumors of an injury to a member of the bullpen started to swirl. Oh Shit!

The rumor was reported on a Philly blog, so many fans (myself included) took it with a grain of salt. Later, confirmation came, and with it, the high was deflated. Duaner "Filthy" Sanchez had been in a cab in Florida that was involved in an accident on I95. Filthy suffered a separated shoulder, and would be possibly out for the season should surgery be necessary. Possibly the most vital cog to the bullpen was done, and panic set in for fans. What would Omar do we wondered? How could we replace Filthy? Oh Shit! indeed.

Omar did what he had to do, trading Xavier Nady to Pittsburgh for Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez. In Perez, the Mets get a project, he is not going to help the team this year. The hope is that in the Spring, The Jacket can work some magic with him (though I believe The Jacket's contract is up at the end of the season, I will have to check on that) and return him to the form he showed in 2004 when he had 10+ K's per 9 innings and won 12 games. Since then, he has pitched poorly, finding himself in Triple A at the end of June. He will report to Norfolk. Hernandez was the Mets 8th inning guy last season, and would have returned if not for a nearly $3 million contract offered by the Pirates. He did not perform great this season in Pittsburgh, with a 1.60 WHIP, but the hope is that a return to Shea will help him recover.

As for Nady, who had come awake as of late, while he was a nice bat in the lineup, his fielding left a lot to be desired. Braves announcers on TBS this weekend are reported to have said "X marks the spot where you want to hit the ball". Now, I hate the Braves announcers possibly as much as John Sterling and Michael Kay, but there was a nugget of truth there. Nady's leaving opens the door to more playing time for Edny Chavez, who has done a very good job in a part time role this season (most fans were hoping for Tike Redmond over Edny in Spring Training, thankfully, Omar found another jewel). In addition, we will see the return of Lastings Milledge, who will split time with Chavez in right. Both are better defensively than Nady (forget Lastings' display in Fenway, that was left field in front of the Green Monster, most guys have a problem there in the beginning). As for the bat, well, the HR pop is gone, but Chavez has speed, allowing for more doubles, or at least steals, and Lastings has similar extra-base power, if not HR power, to Nady, as well as more speed.

Omar did not panic here fans. Something needed to be done. If he had not plugged the hole created by Filthy's injury, he would have been killed for that. Despite Omar using Nady this past offseason in the same sentence as Wright, Reyes and Beltran as a building block, he was never going to reach those heights. I do wish him luck, as he played an important role, but he is easily replaced.

The focus is of course now on Chavez and Milledge. They must both do their part to replace Nady. They are not filling huge shoes, but they are filling an important slot in the lineup. There is one other man under more scrutiny as of now, Aaron Heilman. This team needs the Aaron Heilman from the second half of last season. He is going to be counted on to take the 8th inning role now. He needs to forget about starting for the next 3.5 months, and focus on being an elite reliever. He has done it before, he can do it again. If it takes Omar going to him and swearing that if Aaron gets the job done now he will be in the rotation next year, so be it. If it takes promising to trade him if he gets the job done, do it. This team has the chance to do something special this season. All parts of the team must chip in. The lineup needs to stay hot. Guys who have slumped as of late need to turn it on. Jose Reyes must be the Jose Reyes of June, not April. Same for David Wright. Nady's absence can be made up for by the bats they have. The pen can replace Filthy to some extent, but runs will be needed. There is no time to dwell on the events of early yesterday morning, put it behind you guys, and get back to work.

Duaner, here's to a speedy recovery, for your sake. I am also thankful that the accident was not worse.

Let's Go Mets!