Thursday, April 24, 2008

An Open Letter to Wally Matthews

Dear Wally,

Have you lost what's left of your mind?

Once again you waste resources with a crappy column bashing the Mets. This time, you decided to attack Jose Reyes, asking if he wants to be Derek Jeter or Rey Ordonez. You see Jeter as a "winner" and Ordonez as a "loser". Now, I (and most Mets fans) would agree with you on Rey-Rey, but as for Jeter, we got a problem.

Exactly what has Jeter won in the past 7 seasons? Nothing. No rings. No championships. He "led" his team to losses to the Diamondbacks and the Marlins in the World Series. He "led" them to the biggest choke in baseball history in 2004. He "led" them to a first round loss last season.

I don't want Reyes to be Jeter, someone who as Captain should have put aside his ego and not been an ass toward Alex Rodriguez, simply because Alex has significantly more talent than Jeter. Someone who as Captain bent over when Roger Clemens was signed, and then resigned, despite having been thrown at by Clemens in the past. Someone who as Captain has had teammates traded who he did not get along with.

The fact is that since other key cogs of the winning Yankee teams of the late 1990's left (O'Neill, Bernie, etc), Jeter has not been able to seal the deal. So tell me Wally, if Jeter gets so much credit for all the winning then, why does he not get the balme now for the losing? If he was such a great player, he would be able to lead the Yankees to victory every year, no?

Has Reyes struggled a tad at the start of this season, yes. As has pretty much every other hitter on the Mets. Reyes' April 2007 was fantastic, but no one in their right mind would expect him to be able to do that all the time. Oh wait, we are talking about you. For example, lets take the past two games in Chicago. David Wright failed to get a hit. Carlos Beltran was awful. So it is not all on Reyes. Even when he does get on base, the team is failing to drive him in.

You note the Mets record last April was 13-6. Right now they stand at 11-9. So tell me, what is the difference? Two games, when there are still a few games left in the month? Tell me, did Jeter share in the blame last season when the Yankees got off to a 9 - 14 April? That included a 7 game losing streak, where the Yanks lost 4 to the Red Sox. Doesn't the #2 hitter share blame, especially one who is the Captain, and is synonomous with "winning"?

You note stats for Reyes, yet an in-depth look, or at least a modicum of intelligence would show reasons behind his slow start. One is the presence of Luis Castillo in the #2 spot. Luis has been a black hole this year. Why would a pitcher want to challenge Reyes when they know they have a good shot at getting Castillo out on one of his patented 24 hop grounders to short? So they give him nothing to hit. Jose meanwhile, realizing he needs to get on base is swinging, and failing. It is little coincidence that he started to hit better when Castillo was dropped in the order and Ryan Church was moved to the #2 spot.

Perhaps Jose was pressing since you and your fellow writers spent the winter bashing him for his slump in September. And for "firing up" the Marlins on the next to last day of the season (which reminds me, if they were so annoyed, why did they not show more fight during THAT game?) The bashing of his "silly handshakes" caused him to bottle up his emotions. It is little coincidence that once Beltran told him to have fun that he started to play better. I like players who enjoy the game much more than guys who just seem to go through the motions. Show some energy, show some flair. I prefer my manager let my players be themselves and not make stupid rules like "No Candy" like Joe Girardi.

I do not deny that Reyes has gotten off to a slow start. At least you have the common sense to note that the season is young, as is Reyes. However, you once again show a lack of knowledge when you write an article trying to tie a Met to a Yankee. Let Jose be the best player he can be, without trying to compare him to some overrated egomaniac in the Bronx.

Eagerly awaiting your firing,

Ed in Westchester

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Ah, a Beating

One day after the Mets lost Pedro to a hammy injury, they sent Ollie Perez to the mound. Of course, for many, the worry is what Ollie will we get, the control artist with the great slider and fastball, or the Ollie that walks the park and comes unglued after a miscue. Last night, we got the good Ollie.

He went 6 innings, allowing 5 hits, 1 walk, no runs an had 8 k's. The Marlins looked helpless against him (then again, this is the Marlins). Nelson Figeroa followed with a scoreless inning. Pedro Dos and Wags finished it up.

On offense, well, for lack of a better phrase, they beat the snot out of the Marlins pitchers. Lefty Andrew Miller started and got pasted. His line 4.1 ip, 8 hits, 5 runs, 6 k's and a hr allowed (to Ryan Church, who we all know can't hit lefties. Ooops.) He was followed by Matt Lindstrom, who did well in 2/3 of an inning. Lee Gardner was the next victim, allowing 5 runs in one inning, including David Wright's first HR in Dolphins Stadium after over 120 at-bats. Taylor Tankersley gave up a run, and Kevin Gregg gave up 2. Final line for the Mets offense:

13 runs
17 hits
4 walks
2 Home Runs
6 k's

Not a bad nights work. Beltran had 3 doubles, one of which was actually a home run that was called a homer, until the umps conferenced and somehow decided it hit a padded wall and flew about 40 ft in the air. Sorry guys, it hit the railing.
Wright went 3-5 with 3rbi and the homer and a double, missing the cycle by a triple. Jose went 1-3 with a walk and 2 rbi. Delgado went 2-5 with a ribbie. Pagan went 2-4, scored 2 runs and had a walk and an rbi. Church went 3-5, and Schneider went 1-2 with 2 walks.

The early returns (SMALL SAMPLE ALERT) are that the bottom of the lineup might not be the black hole we all thought it would be. Delgado still looks a little slow, but he has had some walks, and had a couple of singles. Let's make some more progress Carlos.

The top of the order is looking good. Jose is having good at-bats. Castillo as well. Wright and Beltran have been raking. Every Beltran hit has been a double this year (417 avg and 833 slg%).

So, on the day Pedro was put on the DL, and is expected to miss 6 weeks, the team came together and put in a complete performance. They travel to Atlanta today, and start a 3 game set against the Braves tomorrow night. Here are the match-ups:

Fri - Maine vs. Hudson
Sat - Pelfrey vs Glavine (on FOX)
Sun - Santana vs Smoltz (making his first start of the year after some shoulder soreness late in the spring put him on the DL).

I'm interested in all the matchups, but Saturday is a big test. Glavine is the type of junkballing lefty who gives the Mets fits. Pelfrey will be making his first start, and needs to pitch well to help allay internal and external (fans) fears about what will happen with Pedro and El Duque on the shelf.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

PANIC! At the Ballpark

Oh boy. Losing your #2 starter in the 4th inning of his first start of the year is not fun. Especially when you already have another pitcher on the DL (El Duque), and he is being replaced by your former first round pick (Pelfrey, aka Tongue). Is it time to Panic? Well, based on all the newspaper reports and Buster Olney, yes. Based on my gut, no.

Why not Ed you ask? Why shouldn't we panic? Pedro heard a pop. He's 36. Pelfrey has done nothing, we have no idea what El Duque is going to be able to give us. We have no depth in AAA or hell, even AA. If ever there was a time to panic, it is now.

Well, it's quite simple. We still have, in Johan, Ollie and John, 3 starters who can each win at minimum 15 games (and odds are, each will go over). El Duque will come back shortly, and be able to fill the void. Pelfrey is another question. If we get the Pelfrey from the end of last season, we will be fine. If we get the early 2007 Pelfrey, well, then we got problems.

Let's go into the wayback machine to 2006. Does everyone remember how many starters we used that year? Pedro missed time. Trachsel missed time. Lima got starts. Alay Soler. Bannister got a few. J(G)eremi(y, e, what way is he spelling it now?) got starts. It was a veritable cornucopia of arms. And some of them sucked.

So that's part one of why I say it is NOT time to panic. We've been here before, and muddled through.

So what's the second reason. It's quite simple. BECAUSE WE DON'T KNOW HOW LONG PEDRO IS GOING TO BE OUT! The results of the MRI aren't in. Hell, he hasn't even taken it yet. Until we know the severity of the injury, it is silly to get worked up. Let the media panic. Let Buster Olney act like an ass on BBT. For all we know, he tweaked it and he will miss the month of April, or 4 starts. Fine. Will it suck, sure. But then we still have May - September. Add to that, we have an even more rested Pedor for that stretch and then the playoffs.

Now, if it is a major injury, feel free to Panic. I probably will. But you know what? There is still enough talent on this team to be able to overcome the injury. It is time for Mike Pelfrey to put up or shut up. He had a chance this spring, he had the #5 spot by the short hairs, and he punted. Well Mike, you have another shot. Show everyone why you were drafted so high.

Last thing on Pedro, if I'm him, I want Willie changing the rotation so he no longer has to pitch in that park. He has awful luck there the past couple of seasons. First the hip, now this.

Last night was a loss. The good, well, they came back from 4 runs down to force extras. Pagan had a key hit. Schneider went 3-4. Church had a hit. Only Beltran failed to get a hit. Sho had to face a righty, yet got him out (someone please tell Willie that this does not prove Sho can get them out regularly). Willie then pulled Sho in favor of Joe Smith, who completed the inning and looked like the Joe Smith from early last year. Sosa did a good job replacing Pedro. Heilman was great again, for two innings.

The bad, well, Matt Wise giving up a 1st career homer to a 6' 170 lb shortstop. With two outs. Not good.

Tonight, Ollie takes the hill against Andrew Miller. Let's go Ollie!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

This Week in Wally's World

Opening Day. A new season begins. A time to think good thoughts, to enjoy seeing Santana shut down the Marlins, Jose get on base, Wright clear the loaded bases with a double. To forget last year. Except, that is, if you are Wally Matthews.

Who better to piss on the parade the next morning after a resounding win? Who better to bring up the end of last season? Who else but Wally would try to compare Johan's win to Tom Glavine's win in the opener last year?

I know, I know, the collapse is going to be the story, at least in the early going. But why today? Why after seeing a truly dominant performance in all areas of the game does Wally feel the need to rehash all that happened at the end of last season? (Oh, and Wally, do us a favor and look at the Mets record. While they blew the lead at the end, they played 500 ball basically from June on forward, so the collapse was a long one).

"Don't Celebrate Yet, Mets Fans" was the headline. The funny thing is this, the second paragraph in the story
The Mets beat the Marlins, 7-2, yesterday behind a gem of an Opening Day outing by Santana, and you could almost see the headline writers trotting out the cliches in 130-point type, about PAYBACK and VENGEANCE, about "Wiping the Slate Clean" and "Evening the Score."

Meanwhile, I'm sure there were a number of Mets fans wondering what cliches Wally would spill out. He didn't disappoint, that's for sure.

And of course, Wally followed Vic Zeigel of the Daily News in pointing out a pointless miscue by Luis Castillo:
Yesterday, Santana came as advertised, but there were other signs that this club is not completely over the bugaboos that brought it down last year, notably a first-inning brain freeze by Luis Castillo, who somehow stopped running on a wind-blown, two-out pop fly by Carlos Beltran that dropped in. Castillo should have easily scored the first run of the game but was forced to hold at third.

Both conveniently forgot two things. One, that Castillo is still recovering from off-season knee surgery (which every media person in New York had written about ad-nauseum this spring). Two, that Castillo also bunted for a single and then stole second base. Did he make a mistake? Sure. But it is possible that he forgot how many outs there were, and it is also possible that Sandy Alomar had given him the stop sign. But why let other possibilities get in the way of stirring the pot? Why let that stop Wally from once again writing a Mets bashing article?

He then proceeded to talk about how winning the first game means nothing, and brought up a couple of teams that lost the first game and wound up winning the division. And of course, one team mentioned was the 1998 Yankees, because what would a column in Wally's World be without a mention of his favorite team? Of course, Wally forgot to mention another Mets team that won their opener, the 1986 World Champions.

Then again, why would I expect Wally to bring up something that would blow away his theory?