Monday, March 31, 2008

2008 - A New Beginning.?.?

Game 1 is in the books. What looked to be a little worrisome, considering Mark Hendrickson is a lefty junkballer (you know, the guys who give the Mets fits) turned out to be a nice all-around performance as the Mets started off with a 7-2 victory over the Marlins. Contributions from many of the new guys, from Angel Pagan, to Ryan Church, to Johan Santana. The old guard helped out as well, with Jose, David and Beltran contributing. Ah, I love DVR.

Johan went 7, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits, 2 walks and 8 k's. Matt Wise started the 8th, and allowed a couple of hits surrounding an out. Willie had the quick hook with a 4 run lead, and brought in Scot Schoenweis to face a lefty, who he retired. The next batter was Josh Willingham, a righty. Last year, Sho would have stayed in. This year, Willie stunned all of the Mets fan base into complete silence by actually doing what the book says and pulling Sho in favor of a righty (Jorge Sosa) to face the righty Willingham. Let's hope Willie follows "The Book" more than "The Gut" the rest of the year. Sosa got the last out on a nasty slider. Heilman pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, with 2 k's. He looked real good, throwing nice change-ups and a few bb-type fastballs. Frankly, the only pitcher who didn't look that good was Wise, but he seemed to be thisclose on a few of his pitches, and the 2nd hit was an infield single that was only a hit to due Amezega having a great jump off first, barely beating Reyes' throw.

The lineup did well overall. A couple of RISP left hanging ealry, but then came the 6 run 4th inning, capped by a DW bases loaded clearing double to drive in the final 3 runs. Beltran led off with a raked double to left. Delgado walked, Pagan doubled, driving in Beltran. Church followed with a single, moving Pagan to third. Schneider hit a liner to first that Jacobs snared, but Church beat him back to the bag. Johan k'd, but Jose singled to drive in Pagan. Castillo followed with a walk, and DW finished Hendrickson off.

A good start. Delgado, though hitless, did look better. The walk was nice to see, and he did look to be trying to go to left against the shift. Jose had 2 hits, but was caught stealing (on a bad call from what I saw). Castillo had the first SB of the season, along with a hit and 2 walks. Well rounded offensive attack.

Tomorrow, Pedro vs. VandenHurk.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

2008 Preview Time!

The season begins today for the Braves and Nationals. Tomorrow, the Mets open in Florida against the Marlins, then move on to Atlanta for 3, before coming home and welcoming the Phils for the Home Opener on April 8.

Now, most of the previews we've read talked about "The Collapse" and how it was Willie's fault, or Jose's fault or some combination of the two. The result of that is the perception that the team lacks "chemistry". Now, I don't downplay the need for some cohesion, but frankly, the players can hate each other so long as they get it done on the field. Most of the "experts" are picking the Mets to finish behind the Braves (the chic pick for most) and the Phils. Good. Let them underestimate our team.

I'm not going to sit here and waste my time poking holes in the theory that the Braves have the best starting pitching in the NL East (we all know that Hampton is no given, and, well, Tommy is bound to cause some Braves fans to feel devastated). And yes, the Phils have a nice lineup, but their pitching is possibly the most suspect in the National League. The Nationals may be improved. The Marlins, notsomuch.

The Mets are not perfect. There are still questions in the pen (Stokes over Register? Sho against righties? Joe Smith? Dirty's arm?). The 5th starter is a huge question (will Duque be able to be there all year, and if not, can Pelfrey improve enough to take over?) But for the most part the rotation is solid (Santana, Pedro, Perez and Maine is quite an impressive 1-4. I don't know why the experts cannot see this). Wagner is still a top tier closer. Heilman has accepted his role and looked fantastic this spring.

Folks, the question is really the lineup. 1-4 is fine. Once we get to #5, that's when questions start. Alou is already on the DL. How many more games will he miss once he comes back? Can Delgado rebound? Can Church hit lefties? Can Schneider hit, period? I'm not worried about Reyes, he will be fine. Castillo will do his job as well. Wright will have an MVP season, but split votes with Jose and Beltran, allowing some other player to win.

I think Delgado will be better than last season. I think he has healed up. I think his missing time this spring hurt him. He had a good second half, after a poor first half, which was encouraging. Hopefully he can rebound this year and put up 25-30 and hit 285. He's had good and bad games this spring. Let's hope the good outweigh the bad once the season starts.

I have concerns about the bench. Now, we know what we get with Endy. Angel Pagan is on the team as well apparently. Angle had good minor league numbers, but notheing special in the bigs when he's had a chance. He also "Pagan'd" a few balls in the outfield this spring. He will be playing left until Alou returns. Also on the bench are pinch-hitting specialist Marlon Anderson (I swear, if Willie puts him in center this year, I'm taking a drive to Flushing), Ramon Castro (unless his hammy forces him to the DL, then Casanova will be the 2nd string catcher), and Damien Easley.

Notice the absence of Ruben Gotay, who was claimed on waivers by the Braves last week). Now, I don't think Gotay is going to be a star, but I do wish we had someone in his 20's who could hit (that's right Anderson Hernandez, HIT) who could play if Castillo's knees begin to bother him. Now, we have Easley, or Hernandez (who will be in NOLA). Not good. Gotay was waived to allow for either Fernando Tatis or Brady Clark to make the team. Both suck. Both are right handed batters, something that is needed on the bench. Tatis allegdly can play multiple positions. Clark is a natual outfielder. I don't want either, but will settle for Clark over Tatis. Alas, as noted, they both suck. I'm not devastated over Gotay being claimed, I think Omar took a calculated gamble, and lost. But it does suck a bit.

So what do I think is gonna happen? Do I see another Division Title, or another miss? I'm not sure. I think the talent is there to quite frankly run away with the division. The pitching is the strongest in the NL. The lineup is strong. The pen is improved from last year. I just have questions about Willie and his ability to put guys in situations where they can succeed. I hope that last year taught him a lesson. Starting tomorrow, we will start to learn for sure if it did.

Prediction - 95-67. Win division by 12 games over Braves. NL representative in the World Series. That's all you get for now.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

It's Fantasy Draft Time!

For only the third time, Ed is taking part in a fantasy baseball league. It's a 12 team head to head money league, using the following categories:

Hitters - Runs, HR, RBI, SB, BB, K, AVG, SLG%
Pitchers - W, Saves, H, K's, ERA, WHIP

The first year I was in the league (2006), I was able to snag DW and Jose, along with a few other guys. Alas, I finished out of the money, in 9th. Last year, I was injury riddled, and finished in 11th. This year, I must redeem myself.

Below is my team, in order the players were drafted. I drafted in the 5th slot. Comments follow each name:

Reyes (Do I really need to justify this? DW went 1st overall.)
Beltran (The man will hit 40 hr's and drive in over 100. Book it)
Granderson (some steals, some SLG. And now he breaks his hand. Shit)
Helton (consistent avg, walks and rbi's. Possibly early, but needed a 1st baseman)
Verlander (my ace.)
Markakis (O's are gonna suck, but Nick can flat out rake. I wish he was in Queens)
McCann (I hated to do it, but he's a top catcher)
Orlando Hudson (early, but was worried about losing 2nd base)
Carmona (my #2, starters look pretty good so far)
Francoeur (Frenchy can hit. my utility guy)
Beltre (needed a 3rd baseman, best one left on the board)
Maine (I love this pick. He's gonna win at least 18)
Rafael Soriano (probable Braves closer. I needed a closer.)
Tim Hudson (It killed me, but I needed a good starter, and there weren't a lot of options left)
Heilman (my set up guy. I like this pick.)
Geovany Soto (back up catcher. Possible trade bait)
Oliver Perez (not a bad pick for round 17. I hope he matches last year. I had him then.)
Ryan Garko (Lister on Metsgeek loves Garko. I hope he is right about him)
Ty Wiggington (I always seem to have infield injuries. Ty covers everything but SS)
Joaquin Benoit (relief pitcher, possible Rangers closer)
Jamie Walker (relief pitcher, possible O's closer)

Well, that's it. I'm not so happy with all the Braves, but at least no Yankees. And I have more Mets than Braves. Once again, I cross my fingers.

At least I didn't pick El Duque or Pelfrey this year.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

This Week in Wally's World

This week, Wally tells us the Mets are crazy to even consider signing Barry Bonds. He is appalled that they would even consider signing Bonds.

Of course, Wally conveniently forgets that this is the Wilpons we are talking about. Does he seriously think Fred would sign Barry? This is a man who traded Carl Everett after some abuse allegations were raised. This is the man who got rid of Bret "Bleach Boy" Saberhagen. The man who had Milledge traded. They let PLD go for pete's sake. The Wiplon's are nothing if not concerned about portraying a positive image these days. Gone are the days of the 86 team. Oh, they may have some fun guys like Pedro, but that is the exception.

What Wally wanted was for the Mets to say "NO WAY" when the question was raised about Bonds. Now, I want no part of Barry, but of course they are going to think about it. Every available player should be considered. At the end of the day though, the odds of Barry playing for the Mets are about as long as Fred inviting Wally into the owners box for every game this season.

And why wouldn't they sign Barry? I mean, he is an OBP and hitting machine. Well, frankly, so they wouldn't have to read stories by every NY area writer like the one Wally wrote. The Mets were tied to every story relating to steroids and HGH thanks to Radomski. Does Wally really think Fred wants the added attentionof signing a guy who is under federal indictment?

But Wally, in his own world, wants things done his way. No one should think, let alone act, in a way that would go against the principles of Wally's World. To even think about signing Bonds is anthema to all that he believes in. Of course, what Wally believes in is building a team the Yankee way. No HGH or steroids there, right Wally?

I wonder, where is Wally's article telling the Yankees to cut Andy (the bestest, most honest cheater in all of baseball) Pettitte. You know, a guy who ADMITTED using HGH? Oh, Wally ripped Andy. But did he tell the Yankees to cut him? Is he railing about Jason Giambi still wearing the hallowed Yankee uni?

Nope, instead Wally is taking a simple "we looked at Barry" comment and using it to craft yet another Mets bashing article. Which is nice, because it gives all Mets fans another chance to see him for the Assclown he is, and me more material to write about. So thanks Wally!

In Wally's World, you can do nothing right if you are the New York Mets. In Wally's World, everything they do should be thought of in terms of WWWMD? (What Would Wally Matthews Do?)

I can tell you what Ed would do if he ran Newsday. See if you can guess.


In other news, the walking wounded are slowly making their return. Church, Easley, 'Stache, Endy, Dos Carlos' and Dirty all played over the past few days. This of course was a week after the sturm und drang from the local media about the myriad injuries on the team and how it meant they were screwed this coming season. As it stands now, only Moises is not expected to be ready for March 31. El Duque could also miss that date. In my mind, I would rather get the injuries out of the way now, when there is little pressure to play through them. Get healthy now. Play later. The games don't count at this point.

As for the Islanders, well, what can I say. The season looked good at the start, but lack of offense killed them. Memo to Garth, please find a scorer. kthnksbye

As for the Jets, well, they've spent the GDP of a small country this offseason. Will it matter? We shall see. I'm reserving judgement. Should be an interesting draft. Wonder if they will take Darren (Daddy) McFadden.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Introducing a New Feature - "This Week in Wally's World"

Since I've been posting, Wally Matthews at Newsday has been the target of some barbs, primarily due to his anti-Mets slant. It seems every wekk Wally gets his panties in a bunch over the Mets, and proceeds to write some drivel. Until now, I have only picked here and there to opine, and had even stopped posting about him because his writing is such repetative tripe (Mets suck, they do nothing right, the poor junkyard guys).

Starting today, and continuing for as long as Wally continues his attacks on my favorite Sports team, I will post a response to Wally's crap. The comments will be there for you to either agree, or tell me I'm as stupid as Wally (which, let's be serious here, is highly impossible).

Onto the fun.

In this weeks version of Wally's World, Wally has written a column mocking the Mets lack of a slogan this year, after last years admittedly asinine "Your Season Has Come" (seriously, it is a good thing there is no slogan, the team has had crap out there for years. There is no need for it, just play the fraking games).

He proceeds to list several suggestions:

"This Time We Mean It."
"One Year Older. One Year Wiser. One Win Better?"
"Missed It By That Much ... "

and so on. He even caps it with a Green Day title "Wake Me Up When September Ends."

So, in the spirit of Wally's column, I have come up with a few slogans for him to use on his columns.

"American Idiot"
"Same Shit, Different Week"

Feel free to add some more in the comments.

Now, Wally a few years ago did show some sack. Back when some asshat gossip writer at the Post "outed" Mike Piazza, Wally, who worked there at the time, wrote a column blasting the guy. The Post didn't run it, and Wally took his pen and went home. Good for him. Since then however, it seems Wally has written a column a week abusing the Mets. Oh, he will occassionaly bash the team in the Bronx, but it is rare, and usually innocuous.

The best is how Wally always manages to put in a little pro-yankee stuff in the column. This week it was
"It wasn't like the Yankees, who had to scrap and scramble to make the playoffs, only to come up empty in the first round."
I'm sorry, they had to scrap? They spent $200 million on payroll. They should have walked away with the AL and won the WS. I mean, he bashes the Mets for spending and coming up short. Should the Mets use the Yanks of the past 7 season (no WS wins, one HUGE CHOKE in the ALCS) as a model?

You see Wally, if you want to use the Yanks as the benchmark, at least be consistent. You cannot bash the Mets like this
So far, this incarnation of the Mets, this $145-million boondoggle, hasn't been nearly as good as it was supposed to be,

And yet use the Yankees as the benchmark, when they outspent EVERY OTHER TEAM.

Did the Mets underacheive last year? Sure. Do fans remember that? Sure. Did the team improve over the offseason? Damn right. They added Santana, added Wise to the pen, got rid of Mota. Oh, and Pedro is now 15 months removed from surgery and is looking for a new deal. There is one rule that Wally is forgetting:
Never Underestimate Pedro
The man is motivated. A motivated Pedro is damn good.

Jose Reyes is focused. David Wright is going to get better. Oh, and despite your writing that Carlos Beltran is among the aging portion of the roster at not yet 31 years old, he had a damn fine season last year. Perhaps you should look at more than batting average, and notice that he was among the best on the team in August and September. He is only starting to enter his prime.

So, as we wrap this week, a recap of Wally's column.

"The Mets stink. blah blah blah. Yankees are good. Blah blah blah. The Mets stink"

That's Wally's World.

Feel free to post some comments.