Monday, June 30, 2008

"Gangsta Ollie"

So, we wind up with a split of the weekend set against the Yanks. A rout in the opener Friday, thanks to Delgado was followed by an ass-whooping in the nightcap, and a squeaker of a loss Saturday. So, Mets fans could be forgiven if they were worried going into yesterday's game, with Ollie facing Rasner. Before we get to that, lets go over some things from the other 3 games.

The opener Friday was nice to see, since the Mets actually battered a pitcher they had never seen before (Giese). Everyone hit. Wright had a strong game, going 4-5. Beltran went yard. Jose had a hit and 2 walks. Castillo had 2 hits, 3 walks and scored 5 runs. The hero from the bats was Delgado. Carlos went 3-5 with 9 RBI, a double and two homers, one the first Grand Slam by a Met since 2006 (and boy, did he CRUSH that ball). Only Marlon Anderson from the regulars failed to get a hit, though he did walk.

From the mound, Pelfrey did not make it easy, but he sucked it up and pitched tough when he had to. He struck out 3 in the first, though he did give up a run. Very few balls were hit hard off of him. He hurt himself with 4 walks, and with an error (though Tatis was charged with it, he should have held the ball). Castillo also made an error. Pedro Dos pitched an inning and allowed a HR to A-Rod. Heilman pitched a scoreless 7th, and Muniz allowed a run in 2 innings of mop-up duty.

In the nightcap, Sidney Ponson owned them. Ponson went 6, giving up 5 hits. The Yanks pen shut them down from there. Pedro was, well, awful. It is thought he was tipping his pitches, particularly his change-up. Hopefully he can fix that, because this team needs a good Pedro if they are going to make any noise. Schoenweis gave up 3 runs in 2/3 of an inning, with Joe Smith and Wagner finishing it up. Anemic output from the lineup, what, were they all tired out having scored 15 in the day game?

Saturday was a nailbiter, as Johan faced Dandy Andy, the bestest most honest HGH user in baseball. Johan was a tough luck loser again, 6 innings, 4 hits, 4 bb's, 8 k's and 3 runs. Pedro Dos and Dirty finished it up. Johan was a bit perturbed with the Ump, and also seemed a bit annoyed at lack of support from the lineup (you would think he was used to it from his Twins days). It sucks, but he was right, this team should score more than 2 runs (Castro and Wright went yard).

So, the stage was set for Ollie. Which one would we get. Much like Two-Face, you never know which Ollie you are gonna get. Of course, since he was facing the Yanks, we got Good Ollie, or as Jerry called him after the game "Gansta Ollie". Seven innings of 1 run ball. Eight strikouts, including A-Rod with a runner on second. They key, NO WALKS. That is huge for Ollie. He didn't even get flustered by a Reyes error (though Jose did, and threw a fit on the field. I know you were upset Jose, but dude, keep it in the locker room, mkay? You are just feeding the media trolls who think you are out of control, excellent hitting stats aside). Was it the new motion? Maybe. But let's see Ollie put together a few dominant starts like this before we proclaim him fixed. Though maybe he likes Tuscany Tile better than Hardwood floors and ketchup on his ice cream.

The offense didn't do much against Rasner, but it did enough. Delgado continued his beating of the Yanks with another long homer. Reyes went 2-4 with a walk and a run scored. Endy went 3-4 with a run scored. Not a lot, but enough.

Tonight they start a 4 game set against the Cardinals in Stl. Alex Nelson at Metsgeek has the analysis of the opposing starters. The Mets will have Maine, TBN, Pedro and Pelfrey. Four tough games against the Wild Card leading Cardinals. Just.Win.Series. guys.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

OK Guys, Time to Put up or Shut Up

We've heard a lot this year from various players about how they need to play consistently good baseball. We haven't had that "we're gonna win" feeling here since early last year. Well, now is the time to do it. Put up or shut up time is here. Let's take a look at the schedule shall we?:

Friday - Sunday - Yanks (4)

Mon 6/30 - Thursday 7/3 - @ Cardinals (4)

Friday 7/4 - Monday 7/7 - @ Philth (4)

Tuesday 7/8 - Thursday 7/10 - Giants (3)

Friday 7/11 - Sunday 7/13 - Rockies (3)

The Yanks are hot right now. The Cardinals are in first. The Philth, well, they are the "Team to Beat". Then dregs in the form of Giants and Rockies.

20 games. This is the time to make a damn statement. The time for this team to say, "enough with the suck, it's time to kick some ass". The time to get uniforms dirty (I'm looking at you DornDelgado. I want someone to go Jake Taylor on his ass and say "I don't know what happened to you. But if you ever, ever tank another play like you did today, I'm gonna cut your nuts off and stuff em down your fucking throat! ") Beltran, forget the steals %, run. Castillo, wake the fuck up in the field. If you can't play, tell Jerry. You ain't helping if you can't move. Time for DW to be the DW of late last year and start hitting consistently and with power.

Jose has been pulling his weight, and then some over the past 2 months or so. Beltran has his moments, as does DW. But they need to be more frequent. Beltran spoke about being the team to beat. Well, so far, he hasn't held up his end of the bargain. he's got all the talent in the world. I'll give him a little bit of a pass, considering he had knee surgery, but the time to put up has come.

Considering the bottom of the lineup is a black hole of suck, the top of the order needs to do their damn job. Wright and Beltran need to drive in runs. Delgado needs to as well. Hopefully Church can come back and pick up where he left off. They need to compensate for the likes of Endy, Schneider and whoever else needs to play left any given day with Alou out.

From the pitching side, Santana has been good, and I expect him to improve as we hit the second half. Yeah, giving up a grand slam to the opposing pitcher sucks, but the numbers are still there. With some offense, he would have a couple of more wins and less losses. The ERA is good, the peripherals are good. Maine pitched well last night for the most part. He needs to continue. Pelfrey has seemingly turned a corner. Pedro should improve as he regains his control (remember, this is almost like ST for him). Ollie on the other hand needs to get fixed. Boras better call him up and remind him he is "pissing away a fortune" as was said during his start the other night. He faces the Yanks Sunday, a team he usually does well against. He needs to do it then, and for the rest of the year.

The pen is improving as of late. Scho has been good as a LOOGY. Wagner has gotten past his bad week. Heilman has had a very good June (though he needs to do it against the likes of the Yanks or Philth to regain the trust of many). Dirty was dialing it up a bit last night, so maybe he is getting past whatever fears he had about his shoulder (or maybe his arm strength is back). Pedro Dos needs to stop walking guys. And Joe Smith has done well as a ROOGY. Carlos Muniz is here for the weekend, but will probably be sent back to NOLA as the Mets need a starter July 1 (probably Tony Armas Jr., who has done quite well in NOLA so far). Keep up the good guys.

20 games. Under .500 is not an option. 10-10 is not an option. Something like 14-6 will go a long way towards starting to build their confidence, rebuild that of the fans, and put a scare into the opposition.

They should be embarrassed with how they have played to date. Forget the injury excuses. It is time to put up or shut up.

Just.Win.Series. (though a few sweeps would be nice)


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Certainly a Lot of Fertililzer Last Night

Ed made the trek to Shea last night, arriving a tad late. I hoped that would mean I would miss the "bad Ollie", since it was already 3-0 Mariners at 7:30. I was wrong.

The boos rained down last night, leading to fertile ground for growth. Of course, all that grew was the Mariners runs total. Ollie was awful. Vargas was bad (and was DFA'd at the end of the game, welcome back Carlos Muniz). The offense was putrid (which was to be expected, considering DW was sitting this one out, Delgado stinks, and the rest of the lineup save for Reyes and Beltran is not so good). Heck, Tatis had 3 hits, as did Schneider, and Marlon had 2. That was it folks.

The highlight of the night was Jerry Manuel getting run. You've all either read the stories, or saw it on TV (or in-house), but let me tell you, it was a sight. Rungee no doubt baited Beltran. Jerry did the smart thing coming out to protect Carlos, knowing that if he got tossed, things would go from bad to worse. Rungee decided he would bump Manuel, who went nuts. After Jerry got run, Beltran got fired up and went nuts on Rungee. I will be shocked if Carlos isn't suspended (he does NOT deserve it), but not shocked if Rungee isn't. I'm sorry, an ump should not initiate contact with a manager or player. If a manager does that, he gets suspended. Rungee has no fucking business doing that, and he should be banned from umping tonight. His strike zone was for shit last night, low pitch after low pitch was called a strike. It was like he thought T** G****** was on the mound (circa 2000 G******, not the most recent incarnation). Good for Jerry trying to protect his guy, and good for Carlos for calling Rungee on what he did. The good news was that Marlon Anderson was not put in center to replace Beltran, Send 'Em Sandy put him in left, moved Trot to right and Endy to center. Trot did show off an arm on a couple of plays.

After the game, Jerry said:

"It could mean some tough decisions," Manuel said. "Could be lineup changes, could be rotation changes, could be all types of changes. We have to do what we have to do to get this team on track. We have such great fans and they're just waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for us to do well."

Now, that's nice Jerry, but what are you going to do? Half the team is hurt or sucking. Who replaces Delgado? Who replaces Ollie? Castillo? There is little in the minors that is ready (Sorry folks, Mike Carp is not ready, and Anderson Hernandez (called IPOR for a reason) is not an option).

I've been a big supporter of Ollie, but he has something seriously wrong. Is it stuff or mechanics, I don't know. But this team cannot afford to have him blow up like this. Billy Wagner was wrong to voice his displeasure a few weeks ago in the press, but he was right. Ollie needs to do better. Hell, they all need to do better.

We can hope that the day of rest for DW helps him find his swing against righties (do yourself a favor, don't look at the splits. You will get sick). We can hope that Church comes back healthy, same for Alou. But the bottom line is that this team has many issues that need to be fixed. It wasn't all on Willie.

I hope Omar is able to pull something out of his hat. Jerry showed fire last night, but it didn't do squat.

No series win. Tonight, a face saving game.

Still, I gotta say it:


Monday, June 23, 2008

On Fertilizer and Birdcage Lining

So the Post had a front page story today that Jerry Manuel called Mets fans "shit". Of course, this is a complete twisting of the words. What Jerry said is this:

“I’m going to say this, and I hope you all don’t take it wrong, I know you’re going to run out of here with something crazy on this: It’s very, very fertile ground for growth at Shea Stadium. It’s fertile ground for a team’s growth and development. Sometimes, fertile ground has fertilizer. But, fertilizer is a good thing. It’s a good thing. You get the greatest results, you get the most beautiful plants, when you put it in that type of fertile soil. That’s what we have the opportunity to do. Don’t take that wrong, because I know what you’re going to do with it.”

On the heels of last weeks' "I'll cut him" comment, Jerry is showing he has a way with words. You can go two ways with this. One, Jerry is out of his freaking mind. Two, Jerry is showing that he is human and is trying to take heat off the players. I have no problem with the above comment. Frankly, too many fans were booing for stupid ass reasons (booing Johan his first start anyone?) Support your damn team. If you boo, Jerry may cut your ass.

Seeing how his words get twisted, does make one think maybe Willie was a tad smarter than we gave him credit for. Willie was probably worried the media would twist his words. (Of course, the one time he did speak at length, he fucked up by the numebrs, see O'Conner, Ian story). The Post of course is leading the charge at this point. You know that if the team goes on a losing streak, they will be all over Jerry.

In any event, the Mets have won 6 of 10. Beltran and Reyes had very good weeks (interesting since both were "linked" as Willie haters). The starters for the most part have been good. The pen has gotten the job done. And thanks you California Angels for smacking the Philth around this weekend (yes, Ed knows they are not the California Angels, but this is my blog, and I shall call them whatever the heck I want.)

Jerry so far is making all the right moves and saying (mostly) all the right things. The seeds for a turnaround were planted a couple of weeks ago. The fertilizer has been added. Perhaps Jerry was a dash of Miracle-Gro.

The team does need more consistency out of DW. His hitting against righties, who he has owned in the past, is down a lot this year. He is a key part of the lineup (master of the obvious, I know). With Delgado still scuffling, it is imperative that DW drive guys in and get on base, so teams have to pitch to Beltran (for results of this, see LONG home run Beltran smacked yesterday).

Of course, a healthy Ryan Church will help. He is supposed to play for Brooklyn this week, and possibly return for the Yankee series this weekend.

Tonight, the Mariners come to town. King Felix vs. Johan. That's quite a nice match-up. Tomorrow, we have Ollie facing R.A. Dickey (Ed will be in the house for that one). Wednesday, Maine vs. Bedard. Alex Nelson over at Metsgeek has a scouting report on the opposing pitchers.

It is vital that they take 2 of 3 from the Mariners. This is the type of team they need to beat up on. Just Win Series guys.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ed Hates "Los Mets" Bulls**t

Ed returned today from a business trip to Boston. After my flight landed at LGA a little after 6 this evening, two gentlemen began discussing an upcoming Yankee game that they were attending. One of the gentlemen made a comment about the lack of intelligence on the part of Mets fans. Ed turned and gave him a relatively nasty look, but then smiled. The gentleman was probably about 50.

The gentleman then then began to discuss how the Yanks will rehire Willie. I said "do it, then the Wilpon's won't have to pay him". He then said they handled it wrong and disrespected him. My response "Well, they learned from the Yankees, and how they fired Billy, and Dick, and Yogi, and Billy, and Billy again..." He chuckled. The gentleman then said:

"The thing is Willie wasn't the problem. It was Minaya, signing all those latin players."

Ed was not happy. Ed said "That's kinda overblown". The gentleman then said "Well, he signed Alou, Pedro...". I cut him off and said "And Wagner, LoDuca, Schneider, Shoeneweis, Wise. Like I said, overblown." At that point, we deplaned.

This type of veiled racist bullshit pisses me off to no end. Mad Dog has done it. Some writers (I'm looking at you Larry Brooks) have made allusions to it. And the fans at many websites do it. Does Omar have a problem signing players he has past experience with (i.e., the Expos curse)? Yes. But to make comments about how the Mets have signed "too many latinos" IN PUBLIC is the height of stupidity. Funny how that gentleman said that Mets fans were stupid.

IMNSHO Omar obtains who he THINKS is the best available player. That might be Carlos Beltran. Or is might be Billy Wagner. It might be Carlos Delgado. Or it might be Paul LoDuca. The fact that there are people who drop to the "Los Mets" thing causes me to worry about this country. I don't give a crap if the player is white, black or latino. I care if the player is good. Bottom line, end of story.

The goal of a GM is to obtain the best available player. We may quibble with who Omar views as best available, but the fact of the matter is this team is a hell of a lot better than it was before he got here. Anyone really want to go back to 2004? Or 2003 or 2002?

I didn't think so.



Ed Likes Comebacks

First, you might notice the new name. Ed decided to do away with any Jets and Islanders blogging for the most part (though if the Isles draft a goalie with their first round pick this weekend, I may change my mind), so I needed to change the name. What better name than Keith's favorite saying "Nice Level Swing"? That's what I strive for here, a nice level swing at a good post. Sadly, my average is in Endy territory.

So, last night, game 2 of the Manuel Era. Perez vs. Garland. Jose was in the lineup, so apparently Jerry wasn't too pissed about the temper tantrum Tuesday. Delgado was moved to DH (showcase for an AL team?). Marlon played first.

Mets jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Jose led off with a single (Jerry then yelled from the dugout "Are you all right?" Somehow, I don't see Willie making that joke.). He then stole second, went to third on a throwing error, and scored on a DW groundout. Top third, Jose decides to give the Angels catcher a break and hits a triple. Marlon drove him in with a Sac Fly. In the 4th, Delgado Del-Got-One, and it was 3-0.

The Angels scored one in the bottom of the 4th. In the 5th, they took a 4-3 lead, though DW made a nice play to save another run, and then Torii Hunter got caught sleeping trying to go to second, and got caught in a rundown (nice heads up by El Cabesa Grande to throw to 2nd). Things looked dark for Jerry's Kids, as they did nothing in the 6 - 8th. In the ninth, Francisco Rodriguez, who had not blown a save since April 7th came on to pitch. Castro led off with a pop out. Jose singled. Tatis struck out. F-Rod then uncorked a wild pitch, moving Jose to 2nd with DW at the plate. David has struggled in late games. The Mets struggle with RISP, much less RISP with 2 outs. So of course, DW laces a slider into left, tying the game.

Dirty pitched a scoreless ninth, and we go to extras with the black hole that is the lower half of the lineup due to hit. Delgado grounded out. Nixon struck out. Damion Easley followed with a homer to left, and the Mets led 5-4. Bill came in for a 1-2-3 10th, and the Mets move on to Colorado winners of 2 straight series, and a win against a team that had been 201-2 when leading after 8 innings since 2006. That HAS to be a confidence boost for this team.

Sadly, Ed was not able to see the game as he is out of town, so I cannot say how the players look. But to my eyes on Metsgeek, the team seems looser and having more fun. Heck, they are even hazing Joe Smith by making him wear a "Hello Kitty" backpack on his pre-game walks from the dugout to the pen. Good stuff there.

Is this a turning point? I don't know, the time machine is broken. But I will say this, the team had shown some signs of life lately under Willie. Perhaps they had already started to turn the corner. Maybe the change from automatic to Manuel is going to shift them into the next gear.

I hope so.



Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Change? What Change?

So, game 1 of the Jerry Manuel Era is in the books. A loss. Like you were surprised?

Look, you had Tatis and Chavez in the lineup. Jose lasted all of 1 at-bat before Jerry pulled him (we will get to that a bit later). They were facing Lackey, who certainly isn't one (He's got a 1.73 ERA for a reason). Add to that the turmoil of the day, and you had a recipe for a loss.

Before I get to other things, let's talk about Jose. Apparently, after singling to lead off the game (Positive Impact from Jerry no doubt!), he began to rub his leg. The crack medical staff and Jerry went out to check on him. Jose said he was OK. The trainers probably said the same. Jerry, relying on past experience with the training staff, (see Church, Ryan), pulled Jose quicker than Heilman blows a game (BURN!). Jose apparently did not like this, and let Jerry know it by throwing his helmet and pulling out his jersey. Now, there could be a few reasons for his reaction:

1. Jose was upset that he was hurt.
2. Jose wants to win, and knew that given the lineup out there, his being pulled wasn't going to help.
3. Jose is a petulant child who showed up his manager.

Of course, Gary Cohen opted for #3. Because those who get paid to do play-by-play know more. I'm getting a little sick and damn tired of the constant bullshit about Jose being a knucklehead. From Mike Celzic at MSNBC, to John Delcos, to countless others, this is the shit being fed to fans, and a good portion of the fanbase is eating it up, despite the fact it is shit. If David Wright did the same thing, they would all be praising his "hard nosed approach". Jose does it, and is a baby. Enough. He is back to nearly being where he was in 2006. Look at the stats guys. He's having a better year than the reigning MVP, Jimmy Rollins (who it should be noted, was pulled from a game for lack of hustle, though I didn't see ESPN talking about that too much).

End Jose Rant.

Now, as for the team, it is quite simple. These guys need to know that they cost a good man his job. Willie wasn't the best manager, but he was a good man, and their shitty play cost him. They need to now put up or shut up. If anyone had a problem with Willie, well, he is gone, as is your lame ass excuse. Lift up your skirts, show a little sack, and win some fucking ballgames. Delgado, dive for a ball more than once a month. Beltran, lets try upping that SLG%, shall we? DW, lets take a day off and get back to driving the ball. Wags, STFU and do your damn job.

6.5 games back with 3.5 months left is not a lot. There is a lot of talent there. Show it. Just win series.

Oh, one last thing, Tony Bernazard needs to be fired. Now. For him to tell players what Willie said about them in Front Office meetings is the lowest of the low. I could NOT care less (that's for you Dep) if Jose loves him, or Beltran does. If he undermined Willie, who's to say who won't undermine Jerry, or whoever manages the team next year.

OK, I lied, one more last thing - Bobby Valentine is not walking through that door fans. Put it out of your mind. He gets paid a fortune and is treated like a king in Japan. Why would he come back to the shitshow that is the NY Mets organization at this point? Unless they gave him GM and Managerial duties. Which would SUCK.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ed's Back. And Ed is PISSED

You can't kill me. I'm like Michael Meyers.

Oh, I'm not saying I'm gonna post every day. It might be weekly or less. But when shit pops, I gotta vent. What better day than today. The day Son of Fred (SoF) reared his head. It seems SoF is giving SoG (Hank S)a run for "Biggest Silver Spoon Idiot" in NY baseball ownership (neither of course can hold a candle to Dolan).

But first, some housekeeping. To those who came and wished me well, many thanks. Mike, I love your blog, and miss you over on Metsgeek. Rickey, I love your blog as well. Coop, ditto. Danny, you are the man.

As for the Philth fans, well, what can I say, your team did win the division last year. Kudos. Of course, they then reverted to mediocrity in the playoffs. Maybe Chase ran out of grease for his hair? How's J-Roll doing so far this year? Nice to see the reiging MVP pulled out of a game for lack of hustle. I wonder where Ryan Howard will be traded to, since the Philth ain't gonna pay him. Enjoy the ride so far this year. Remember, it ain't over till game 162.

On to more important stuff. Last night, the Mets, after smacking around the Angels, fired Willie, The Jacket and Tom Nieto. This after making them all fly west. Apparently, the decision was made yesterday morning, but in typical Mets fashion, they waited until the dead of night to pull the trigger. It's like Bob Irsay took over (if you need the reference for that, look up the Baltimore Colts) for the day.

Now, I'm not saying Willie didn't deserve to be fired. I frankly don't care. I do think the way this was handled was bush league, as per usual with the Wiplons. Yes, they spend money, but they have a penchant for idiocy. They listen to players (see Franco, John and Leiter, Al) about rookies. They leak like the levees in New Orleans. They come up with idiotic marketing ideas (You're Season has Come anyone?) Now, they force Omar's hand into firing Willie. I have little doubt that Omar wanted to wait until the off-day, but the constant stream of bullshit coming out of the owners box made him make the move now.

Willie wasn't perfect, and probably should have been let go after last season. But they made a decision to keep him. Now, after putting him on basically a day-to-day notice, they fire him in the dead of night, after a fucking win. Against a top AL team. Nice.

As for The Jacket, I'm torn. I think he has done good work, but it may be that he can't get through to some of the guys he has to work with. He did help a few, but he made some changes that left many scratching their heads (Pelfrey to give up the curve, Heilman to change his arm angle.). In any event, it seems the fans who say "fire" demanded a sacrifice, and they got their wish.

Tom Nieto, well, I have no idea why he was fired and Send-em Sandy Alomar was kept around. I did some research and found the following things he did wrong:

1. Drank jobu’s rum

2. Kept hanging around DW at clubs scaring away the girls.

3. Made jokes about Pedro’s little friend (the dwarf you perverts)

4. Kept yelling “neener neener” at the opposing pitcher.

5. Told Willie to ph Cliff Floyd. Last night.

6. Helped Jose choreograph his dances.

7. Was in the recording studio with Lastings Milledge

So, we get Jerry Manuel, who is 500-471 as a manager. He won one division title. This is the man who is to lead the Mets to victory.

I am happy for Ken Oberkfell to get the bench coaching job. Though we are not sure if that is his role, since it was not defined in the press release. Surprise.

The media are already having a field day with this. The Wiplon's are getting slammed left and right. It will be "interesting" to hear Fatso and Ninny on WFAN this afternoon. The "fans" are appeased. The question is, does this translate to WINS? Will this make Big Mouth Billy Bass STFU and close games? Will it make Delgado hit for power? Will it make Alou and El Duque healthy? Will DW be able to hit righties?

Time will tell. In the meantime: