Sunday, April 27, 2008

Happy to look foolish.

Two days ago, I was quite frustrated, and went on a pretty pessimistic rant. I fully expected the Braves to complete a sweep on the Mets at Shea. But two days later, they have beaten both Tim Hudson and John Smoltz to win the series 2-1.

I didn't have the chance to watch the two wins, so I can't say how well they played, but the fact is they scored their runs and they won their games. Now, I probably look foolish for going on a premature rant, but I'm happy to be proven wrong. I can only hope that in the Mets' locker room on Friday, they shared similar thoughts, and will use that six-game stretch as motivation to turn things around and continue moving forward.

Way to go, Billy Wagner, for capping off 9 hitless innings to start the season, which hopefully won't be the closest thing we get to a no-hitter at Shea. Unfortunately, he snapped his streak by giving up a single in his tenth inning of work, but a job well done nonetheless.

Way to go, Carlos Delgado, for hitting two home runs on Sunday. He came close on a deep fly ball earlier in the series, but he finally got two more over today to triple his season total. We always end up saying this, over this season and last when Delgado has a good game, that hopefully he's turning it around now. But that would obviously be a big boost to the lineup.

In the "what else is new" department, Moises Alou, who's return was just around the corner, is getting an examination of a swollen ankle. Will he or El Duque ever play in a game this season?

The Mets will now play the Pirates. Coming off these two wins, they should get a nice winning streak going, and gain some momentum heading into a tough West Coast trip.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ranting about the Mets

Sorry I haven't been keeping up with my usual updates, but I've been so frustrated at how the Mets have been playing that they've basically sucked the enjoyment and motivation out of me. After the team's fifth loss in their last six games, I needed to vent. The following was written in response to a friend, a Yankees fan, who compared my recent short fuse to the thinking of a Yankees fan:


I do have high expectations and demands this season. I so badly want to see them celebrate a championship at Shea before they tear it down.

But even then, it's not just the fact that they're losing. And you really can't understand unless you've been watching every game like I have. Every game is just so damn frustrating to watch. We can't get more than 2 hot hitters in the lineup at any given time. We leave so many runners on base without scoring, our offense can't do anything right. Beyond Pedro getting hurt in his first start, Maine and Perez are doing bad so far. Our bullpen is just horrendous, they've given up 3 grand slams already. And our manager seems to prove every day that he's an idiot.

Oh yeah, and there's still this collapse thing still fresh in our memories. We rightfully had some pretty high expectations last year, and we got our hopes crushed hard. This was supposed to be a fresh start, put all that behind us. But besides Johan, it's just been a continuation of that collapse.

The Mets got no-hit in 8 out of 9 innings tonight at home against the Braves. We still have to face Hudson and Smoltz, and the way we're playing, it's very likely we get swept.

I know it's still very early in the season, and too early to give up. But it is so unbelievably frustrating watching this team. I hate to have that mentality of the Yankees earlier this decade, but this is the third year in a row where we supposedly had the best team in the NL, and we're going nowhere but down. And I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel right now.

I already had bitterness at the start of the season between the collapse from the year before and it being the last year at Shea. And they are just playing so atrociously, it's making me sick.


This is obviously a much more negative side of me than I've been showing with my previous postings. Especially in regards to Willie Randolph, who I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt while everyone else blasts him, and that part of the rant was more of a reflection of the general consensus rather than my own beliefs, although it is getting harder to turn the other cheek.

But it is so hard to be optimistic right now. The last thing I want to be like is a Yankees fan, but this season means so much to me, and the signing of Johan Santana gave so much hope. I truly believed at the start of the season that the Mets were going to win the World Series this year. I was as optimistic as could be, especially considering the collapse of last year. But my optimism has been shattered.

All I can do is wait, and hope that we can turn this around before it's too late. I'm not going to give up. But I am panicking.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Belated Brewers recap

The big story of this past weekend's series against the Brewers was easily Nelson Figueroa's season debut on Friday.

Born in Brooklyn, Figueroa grew up a Mets fan, and was drafted by the team in 1995, although he did not make it to the Majors with them. With a 4-10 career record, he last pitched in the Majors in September 2004, with his last win coming in August 2003. After traveling around the world, pitching in various different countries, Figueroa got a 2nd chance in the U.S. with the Mets. He was called up on the third day of the season, after Pedro Martinez went on the DL. After two relief appearances, he made his first start on Friday.

It was a long time coming, and he surely took advantage of the opportunity. His final line was 6 IP, 2 ER, 2 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts, and of course, a win.

It was great to see the smiles on his face, with a dream coming true, and three years of work trying to get back to the Majors paying off. His family was in attendance, and SNY kept showing them cheering loudly for him. Nelson also gave a nice salute to them as he walked off the field after the 4-2 victory.

These moments are so wonderful, as it takes away from the daily grind of the long season, and gives the game a more personal feel. We're not just rooting for teams, we're not just rooting for players; we are rooting for people. This story was great, and congratulations to Nelson Figueroa.

Another big story of the series was Johan Santana, however this one was a bad story. Johan lost his previous start because the offense did not give him any support. Saturday, Johan lost his start because he pitched poorly. Obviously, he's not going to have a great start every time, and I can look past this one poor start. But it was pretty disheartening to watch.

Johan was removed from the game in the 7th after giving up a three-run HR, his third HR of the day. It wasn't all that bad of a day outside of the HRs, and two errors by David Wright certainly made his day harder. But the long balls were definitely troublesome, especially in his Shea debut.

After losing Game 2 5-3, the Mets would go on to lose the series with the Brewers winning 7-5 in one of the most aggravating losses I've ever seen. Oliver Perez was bad. After giving up 2 runs in the top of the 1st, the Mets would give him six runs over the first three innings, but then Perez gave the four run lead back in the 4th. He would be taken out in the 5th after allowing two baserunners that Jorge Sosa kept from scoring. However, Sosa would give up 2 runs in the 6th, and the Brewers added an unearned run in the 7th.

More frustrating than the pitching was the hitting, which is saying a lot considering they scored 7 runs. After getting 6 of them in the first three innings, the Mets would score just 1 run with 13 baserunners from the 4th to 8th innings. They hit into a double play in each of those 5 innings. The worst of it was in the 8th, facing the hated Guillermo Mota. The Mets started the inning with two singles to get runners on 1st and 3rd, but then Luis Castillo grounded into a double play, taking himself out at first followed by the over-aggressive Brady Clark at home. The next two hitters would walk to load the bases, but Delgado would pop out to end the inning. Eric Gagne, who has been terrible so far this season, earned his second save of the series with a 1-2-3 9th.

I was pretty furious by the end of that 8th inning. Quite often I get angry, annoyed, or disappointed by the team, but I don't remember ever boiling for so long. But the season continues on.

Congratulations to David Wright for his 100th career home run.

The Brewers bats were relentless with 14 runs with 3 home runs in their two victories. They have quite a dangerous, powerful lineup, although their pitching staff is certainly questionable. I didn't get too good of a read on the team outside of that, but I'm thankful that there's only one more series with them.

4/15: Pre-Game Report

Jose Reyes returns to the lineup after taking a few days off with his injury, and with his return comes a shake-up in the lineup. With Luis Castillo struggling, and after Angel Pagan did a great job replacing the two at the top of the lineup, Castillo drops to 8th in the batting order. However, it is not Pagan batting second, but rather Ryan Church has been moved up into that position.

This would not be as surprising if the Mets were facing a right hander today, as Willie Randolph has put Church above Pagan against some righties. But Odalis Perez, a lefty, will pitch for the Nationals, yet Willie still chose to put the left-handed hitting Church second. It seems like an odd move, but I think Pagan is pretty valuable batting 6th behind Carlos Delgado. I certainly missed his presence lower in the order when he was batting 1st and 2nd. The move also moves Church out from in between the left-handed bats of Delgado and Brian Schneider. I don't know how permanent this will be, so it will be interesting to see what kind of lineup Willie sends out tomorrow.

Of bigger news though is the reactivation of Duaner Sanchez from the DL. Sanchez was a major part of the bullpen's success in 2006, and his absence may have helped lead the bullpen to falter down the stretch in 2007. He last pitched in a Major League game on July 28, 2006. It will be great to see him back.

Carlos Muniz was sent back to the Minors to make room for Sanchez. Muniz did a tremendous job in his three games filling in for Matt Wise, throwing 4 scoreless innings with just 2 hits and 2 strikeouts.

Finally, the Mets will be honoring Jackie Robinson today. All the Mets will be wearing #42.

A recap of last series will come later today. Enjoy the game.

Friday, April 11, 2008

More notes: Ryan Church, Claudio Vargas

Something really annoyed me during this past series, and it wasn't just the Phillies. It was Ryan Church coming up to bat with Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" playing over the loudspeakers. And it wasn't just a one time thing, it was most of his at bats, and I think it's safe to assume that it will be most of his at bats in the future.

"Crazy Train" is a great song, I won't deny that. But when I'm watching a Mets game, that is the absolute last thing I want to hear. If you're not aware, a certain third baseman in Atlanta named Larry also uses that as his walk-up music. For me, the association between that song and Mets games is a strong evil and hatred. I cringe every time I watch a Mets vs. Braves game in Atlanta, and I hear that music come on in the background, because it means that I'm about to see the person who I might just hate the most in this world. And usually, when that music comes on, he gives me even more reason to hate him, as he always seems to kill the Mets.

And now, I'm going to be forced to hear that music many more times this season. And at my beloved Shea Stadium, too. I don't cringe quite so much, knowing that it's Ryan Church coming up, and not Larry Jones. I'll get used to it soon.

But that song really should be banned at Shea. It represents pure evil for Mets fans. The guy even named his kid "Shea" because of how much he kills the Mets. Though I'm not sure, I assume Church used that song when he was in Washington, so I can't blame him for wanting to stick with it, or the organization for wanting to let him be happy and comfortable coming to the plate. That pretty much leaves no one to blame. But for the time being, it drives me crazy, and I had to vent.

I did hear it played on the organs the one game, and that was awesome.

In other news, the Mets signed pitcher Claudio Vargas to a Minor League contract. I don't have much of an opinion on this deal. I don't trust Claudio Vargas to be much help to the Mets, but it seems that he won't be plugged right into the rotation to fill the hole left by Pedro and El Duque. Instead, he will start at the minors, likely as a backup plan in case Nelson Figueroa doesn't work out as the replacement 5th starter. He could even help out in the bullpen if need be. I have no problems with this deal, and if he ends up not helping, that it's not hurting us much.

Figueroa will pitch today at home against the Brewers to start the series. Johan Santana will face the Brewers' ace, Ben Sheets, tomorrow, with Oliver Perez wrapping up the series on Sunday.

Taking down the Phillies 2-1

Well, we lost the important one, but in the end, the Mets are up 2-1 on the season series against the Phillies.

First up was the emotional Opening Day. Willie Randolph took a lot of heat for his quick hook of Oliver Perez, and his post-game comments regarding why. But I have to side with Willie here, for once. Although he had pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings, he had a lot of control problems throughout. I really don't think he was pitching well that game, although he was getting out of trouble. He came out of the game after throwing 94 pitches, and with runners on 1st and 3rd. It really didn't seem to me like a bad move at the time, and Joe Smith came in to get out of it to keep the Phillies off the board. The move worked, at least for the time being; perhaps Willie was putting too much pressure on the bullpen, but he has to have faith in his guys and not give up on them this early, whereas the fans are free to criticize and see the bullpen as a failure all they want. Anyway, Oliver Perez still hasn't given up a run, or even an extra base hit, in two starts, so that's great to see.

But then, we lost to the Phillies in typical fashion. The bats went to sleep, and the bullpen blew the lead. Scott Schoeneweis loaded the bases in the 7th, but should have gotten out of it, but Carlos Delgado threw a should-be inning-ending double play into Chase Utley's back, and 2 runs would score on the play, with a 3rd later in the inning. Then Aaron Heilman gave up another two in the 8th to give a cushion to the Phillies' lead that they didn't need, and they won 5-2.

Of note though are the two injuries that quietly happened in that game. Luis Castillo exited the game after the 4th inning with soreness in his knee. More importantly, Jimmy Rollins came out in the 8th after injuring his ankle. Neither injury was serious, but both would miss the rest of the series, and considering it was the struggling Castillo compared to the reigning MVP Rollins, that would certainly help us out more.

It turned out that it would help us a lot more. In Game 2, the Mets would score six runs in the third inning, with only one being earned, with help by two errors by Rollins' replacement, Eric Bruntlett. The game was certainly odd, as we scored 8 runs on just 5 hits, with 9 walks and 4 errors from the Phillies. I'll take the win any way we can get it though, and the 8-2 victory to snap the 9 game losing streak against the rivals felt good.

The rubber game was by far the highlight of the series, though. Like Perez, John Maine wasn't at the top of his game, but he got the job done, going 6+ innings while allowing just 1 run on 5 hits, although 5 walks. However, it would be problems for Aaron Heilman once again. He came in in the 8th inning with a 3-1 lead, but immediately gave up a lead-off HR to Ryan Howard. That was followed by a walk, a single, and an RBI groundout to tie the game. It was looking like it would be another typical blown game to the Phillies. But he got out of the inning, and the game would soon be going to extra innings.

It would also soon be time for Scott Schoeneweis to make his appearance. I want to give him a second chance, a fresh start this season. But so far, he has continued to struggle, and has continued to deserve the boos from the home crowd. However, today was hopefully the day when he turns it all around, as he would leave the game to an ovation. He came into the game in the 11th inning with runners on first and second, one out, and the two big lefties coming up for Philadelphia. He got the ground ball from Chase Utley though, and nobody was in Damion Easley's way, so the double play was turned. He also got Ryan Howard out to lead off the 12th. Getting those two batters out is obviously a big key to beating this team, and especially getting Utley out in that situation was huge. Hopefully Mets fans won't be so quick to boo him next time.

Finally, the game would end in the 12th, and what more can be said about Angel Pagan. After a two out double by Jose Reyes, Pagan lined one up the middle to bring Reyes home in a close play at the plate to end the game and give the Mets the 4-3 win. I, and most Mets fans, had high hopes for him replacing Moises Alou after a great Spring Training, and he is far exceeding expectations. After the 3-5 day with 2 runs scored an an RBI, he is now batting .370 with 9 RBIs, both leading the team, as well as 8 runs, which is tied for Delgado at the top. It's going to be tough to take him out when Alou comes back, but with what Alou can bring, and as good as Ryan Church has been playing as well, it's going to be tough to keep him in. With all the problems on this team though, this is a welcome one, for sure.

And what more can be said about Shane Victorino. While not as flashy as the big three of Rollins, Howard, and Utley, I saw him last year as a great complement to them. He just seemed to do everything right to beat us, between finding ways to get on base, great baserunning, and great fielding. He earned a spot on my fantasy baseball team this season, which is saying a lot considering how much he made me hate him last year. Although he's started off slumping at the plate, he proved to be an extremely dangerous force in the outfield, especially now moving to CF with after Aaron Rowand left. Atlanta may have let Andruw Jones go, but now there is Shane Victorino in Philadelphia.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Final season opener at Shea.

Tomorrow will certainly be an emotional day for me, as the Mets will play their final season opener at Shea Stadium. Since they're playing against the Phillies, too, it could easily be a wide range of emotions. Oliver Perez will interestingly be opposed by Jamie Moyer, who was also born in 1962 (although they didn't start playing at Shea until 1964, the connection to the beginning of the franchise is still there).

It was recently announced that the Mets will continue to honor the Shea family name, as the stadium bearing that name is prepared to be replaced. The Shea family will be on the field tomorrow for a pre-game ceremony in which a Shea logo will be unveiled alongside the retired numbers beyond the left field fence, and it will also be placed in Citi Field next year.

I hate the whole idea of corporate sponsorships of ballparks, but I understand that it is one of those unavoidable, necessary evils these days, in order to generate more revenue (and we really could have done worse than "Citi Field," so I'm not too annoyed). Obviously though, I am quite pleased to see that they will be preserving the Shea legacy with this logo. Many years down the road, I'll be able to go to Mets games and see that logo, and be reminded of all the great memories that Shea Stadium has provided me. Hopefully it will have a nice place next to Casey Stengel's #37.

Disgust out of Atlanta

As usual, the Mets had trouble in Atlanta. We had started to turn that streak around the last couple seasons, in which the Braves actually failed to win the NL East, so hopefully this isn't a bad omen.

I was looking forward to John Maine's first start of the season. He had a break-out season last year, and I'm looking forward to this year with great excitement for him. Unfortunately, he just didn't have it on this day. He lasted just four innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and three walks. We still had a chance to come back though, but the bullpen went on to allow another seven runs, including a grand slam given up by Jorge Sosa when it was clear from the previous batters that he had no control that day. Sosa probably should have been pulled prior to facing Kelly Johnson, but I won't criticize Willie Randolph for it. Nor will I get down on John Maine. I fully expect him to come back strong in his next start.

And of course, there was the ridiculous call by the umps. For those who didn't get to see it, the Mets were down 4-1 in the 5th inning with the bases loaded and one out. Jose Reyes hit a shot to left-center that bounced into the diving fielder's glove, which should have scored two runs, but somehow the umpire said he caught the ball. It was perfectly clear to me watching it happen live on television that it bounced; it hit so far in front of his glove that I couldn't even call it a trap. Angel Pagan obviously saw it bounce, and took off from second to score, so was easily doubled off at second to end the inning.

In a rare display from Randolph, although it was impossible not to, he ran out onto the field and protested quite strongly. The umpires got together, and thankfully, for my sanity and the protection of any breakable items surrounding me, they reversed the call. Ryan Church, who was actually passed by Pagan at third because he saw the out call and stopped (a whole other situation), was allowed to score, and Pagan was put at third where he would eventually score anyway on a groundout by Luis Castillo to bring the score to 4-3. Although, in the end, it proved to not matter that much, as the Braves went on to win 11-5, but at the time, that would have been a huge killer to this team if that call had stood. I'm also quite surprised that Bobby Cox somehow managed to not get himself ejected in that inning.

I was looking forward to facing Tom Glavine. I knew his comments after the last game of the season, where he said he was not devastated following his 7 run, 1/3 IP, season-ending performance, were taken too harshly by Mets fans, including myself. And he got a chance to explain himself and his rationalization in a pre-game interview on SNY. But I still can't help but feel utter, complete hatred towards him. And I so badly wanted to take it to him this series. But the weather wouldn't cooperate, forcing the first game to be rained out and postponed. This pushed Tim Hudson back to what would have been Game 2, and they decided to leave John Smoltz in as the starter in the final game, because they didn't want him to come off the DL and pitch in Colorado. So that meant that Tommy was the odd man out, and Mets fans will have to wait a bit longer to have some revenge.

I was looking forward to Johan Santana's second appearance, and first against the Braves. However, after averaging 7 1/4 runs in the first four games, the offense disappeared this game. Johan gave up just one run in 7 innings, along with a double and two fine defensive plays. He also got his first loss as a Met, leaving the game losing 1-0. The Mets would be able to add a run in the ninth, but not before Aaron Heilman gave up a two-run HR to Mark Teixeira. And with that 3-1 victory, the Braves swept the Mets in the 2-game series.

Not a whole lot has changed with the Braves; Larry Jones is still a Met-killer, and I still hate him. The biggest change from last year though is he's not the only one who will kill us. Mark Teixeira batting behind him is looking just as scary, if not scarier. I still have to say they are the third best team in the division, but that gap is looking smaller than I thought.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Johan, Pedro, and winning the first series.

This is the first in what should be a season-long series of posts in which I recap and discuss the Mets' previous series. In addition to what I think about what the Mets did, I will also look a little bit about what I think of the opposing team.

First off, Opening Day. It felt like a long time coming. The pitching match-up was Johan Santana against Mark Hendrickson and the Marlins. As I wrote earlier, it's hard to get worried about that match-up, but on the other hand, it would just be that much worse if we lost. But the "$137 million eraser," as Ron Darling put it, removed the lingering feelings from last season.

Johan was great. Pitching 7 innings, he gave up 2 runs, all on one HR, and just 3 hits, with 8 strikeouts. Asking for anything more from him, especially on Opening Day, would just be greedy. The home run, of course, is something to think about though, as he has had a bit of a problem keeping the ball in the park, despite his tremendous success in the past. That is one reason why I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can do with the Mets, with a home stadium that tends to keep fly balls contained. Coming from the hitter's park in Minnesota - besides just facing a National League lineup - that factor could really make his numbers look even better.

With all the excitement building up to Opening Day, and then the results, Monday was a wonderful day. Not only did the Mets win 7-2 on a great performance by Santana, but the Phillies were 0-1, the Braves were 0-2, and the Yankees had their home opener rained out.

Oh, how quickly moods can change.

Pedro Martinez began Game 2 by hitting Hanley Ramirez, then giving up a 2-run HR to Dan Uggla. Then he gave up a solo HR to Luis Gonzalez and an RBI triple to Ramirez in the 2nd inning. Pedro was struggling. But then, with one grab of the hamstring, things were so much worse. He left giving up 4 runs and 4 hits in 3 1/3 innings, an ERA of 10.80. The news would come the next day that he would be out at least 4-6 weeks with a mild strained hamstring.

The Mets got back into the game though as their bullpen kept the Marlins off the scoreboard, tying it 4-4. But in the end, the unlikely hero was Robert Andino, as he hit the walk-off HR off Matt Wise in the 10th. After all the excitement of the day before, all I could feel on this day was depression. The mood had completely changed. I don't think the loss of Pedro will hurt too bad as far as our win-loss record is concerned, but it certainly stings mentally and emotionally.

What better way to relieve the pain though than a 13-0 victory the following day to win the series. Oliver Perez was brilliant, throwing 6 shutout innings, also with 8 strikeouts. Already with a 10-0 lead, there was no need to stretch him out any further in his first start. Nelson Figueroa (Pedro's replacement on the roster), Pedro Feliciano, and Billy Wagner all got their first innings of work of this season in a no-pressure situation. The dominating win should definitely make the players feel better as they travel to Philadelphia. A loss could have really hurt, after what happened the day before.

The pitching outside of Pedro was obviously great. The offense was pretty good, too, though. You can't say enough about Angel Pagan right now, stepping up into the 6th spot in the lineup with Moises Alou out. He went 4-for-10 with 4 RBIs and 4 runs scored in the series, getting us started in each of the first two games. Other new acquisitions Ryan Church and Brian Schneider also did a great job. Carlos Delgado struggled in the first two games, but he went 2-for-5 with an RBI yesterday, so I won't give up on him yet. All the way up and down the lineup, we performed pretty well, obviously, with 24 runs scored.

The Marlins certainly lost a lot with Miguel Cabrera and Met-killer Dontrelle Willis being traded away to Detroit. They still remain a team that I don't feel comfortable playing, though. They have a lot of solid young talent that can burn you throughout the whole lineup. But I think, like last season, it may not matter, as you can just hope to put up more runs than they do with that shaky pitching staff.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Roster set, baseball is just around the corner!

For most teams, including the Mets, the regular season is getting ready to begin tomorrow. It's been a long wait, but it's finally here. Which is good, because I can't wait much longer.

Johan Santana will make his debut tomorrow in Florida at 4:10. Thankfully, he will not be opposed by the Met-killer, Dontrelle Willis, although I have a good feeling that if we are to reach our ultimate goal, we're still going to have to go through him. Instead, he will face Mark Hendrickson, who really doesn't put much fear into Mets fans' hearts, but you can't underestimate this Marlins team. The Marlins really couldn't find a better opening day starter than Mark Hendrickson though?

Anyway, it appears that the roster has been finalized. Most noteworthy is that Mike Pelfrey, after impressing in Spring, will be our fifth starter, although that probably has more to do with Orlando Hernandez's health than anything. El Duque will likely begin the year on the DL, then take over the fifth spot when ready.

Also, Joe Smith will take the final bullpen spot. I really enjoyed watching him last year until he tired out, as I'm sure most, if not all, Mets fans did as well, so I'm excited to see him back on the team. Finally, Brady Clark grabs the last bench spot, which I am happy to hear. As I wrote towards the beginning of Spring Training, I was rooting for him to get that last spot.

So here we go. Just one more day of waiting. The only thing left is to see if we'll be half a game up or down on the Braves.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Moises Alou out 4-6 weeks

It has begun. Injuries have been the big story this Spring Training for the Mets, and now we know for sure that one key player will be out at the start of the season. And it's really no surprise who (sorry to those who bet on El Duque, though).

Moises Alou is expected to be out for four to six weeks for hernia surgery.

Probable replacement Endy Chavez has yet to play in a Spring Training game as he is also currently dealing with an injury. However, he should be seeing some action soon, so hopefully he will be able to take over in left field by the start of the regular season.

This certainly also opens the door for Angel Pagan to make the Opening Day roster. He got some Major League experience the last two seasons with the Cubs, and has been very impressive so far in Spring Training. He may very well have been earning the last bench spot on the roster anyway, but the Mets now need to have another outfielder for Opening Day.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Mike Pelfrey vs. El Duque

The acquisition of Johan Santana supposedly pushed Mike Pelfrey back out of the starting rotation, either to a bullpen role or back to AAA. However, it looks like the Mets may have to make a decision on their fifth starter for the start of this season.

In two Spring Training appearances now, Mike Pelfrey has looked great, pitching 5 shutout innings and allowing just three hits. It was easy to turn against Pelfrey last season, after his 0-7 start. I never gave up on him though, and I kept watching him with hope that he would start to turn it around. He then went on to win 3 of his 4 starts in September.

Orlando Hernandez had much more success during last season than Pelfrey. However, he was rather injury prone, and that is already carrying over into this season. He has been very limited in camp so far due to his injuries, and has yet to pitch in a game. I wouldn't be surprised if he was still not ready by the time the regular season rolled around, meaning Pelfrey would probably be the fifth starter by default.

But what about if, or when, El Duque is healthy again? Obviously, it's too early to tell for certain. If he can get in some work in Spring Training games and shows success, they could go with the more experienced Hernandez, especially if the Mets are unwilling to put him in the bullpen. But if Pelfrey continues his success through Spring Training, and maybe even through the beginning of the regular season, it's going to be hard to pull him from the rotation. I think he may have turned a corner last September, he seems to have grown a bit and learned from his disastrous start last year, and he may be ready to take on the big leagues now. And I would really like to see what he can do, instead of just waiting for El Duque to get hurt again.

Of course, if we have the rotation of Johan, Pedro, Maine, Perez, Pelfrey, then that begs the question of what to do with El Duque. They say he won't go into the bullpen, but that may be what is best. Remember him pitching out of the bullpen in the White Sox's World Series run? He'll be just fine out there. It's Pelfrey's time to shine.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Baseball is back!

It was so great hearing that SNY Mets jingle today. The Mets played their first home Spring Training game of the season, and their first televised Spring Training game of the season. And, of course, it was Johan Santana's first appearance.

Unfortunately, it hasn't been a good start. They are 0-3 now against Major League teams, plus a tie against a college team. Johan Santana gave up a three-run home run to Juan Gonzalez in his first inning of work.

But I'm not going to be critical or worried about Spring Training results, especially this early on. Sure, winning is sweet, and I would like to see us putting up wins, but results don't matter yet.

This certainly didn't seem like an ordinary Spring Training game though. Usually, I'm excited for it to start up just so baseball is back. But today was more about seeing Johan pitch than it was seeing the Mets back on the field. He caught a couple tough breaks, then gave up a bomb to Juan Gonzalez. But if he's going to give one up, at least it was someone who you have to feel good for. Of course, then Albert Pujols hit a home run off Duaner Sanchez, and he's someone who I have really soured on.

It was also nice to see Fernando Martinez out there. He got thrown out trying to steal second, but again, beyond results, it was good to see him running and being aggressive. And along with that, he had the play of the game, with a great diving catch down the left field line. That was fun to watch.

One last point: I think I'm rooting for Brady Clark to take the 5th bench spot on the roster. Ruben Gotay would be good, too, but I think Clark would be a solid backup right-handed outfielder.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pitchers and Catchers in Port St. Lucie

More important than any roses or boxes of chocolate, Johan Santana and the other Mets pitchers and catchers reported in Port St. Lucie, Florida, to begin Spring Training!

As happy as I still am about the Giants winning the Super Bowl, I still can't help but to look forward with great excitement towards this 2008 baseball season. And baseball is finally, officially, right around the corner.

As my excitement grows about the addition of Johan, I'm starting to also get excited about a much less talked about addition: the return of Duaner Sanchez to the bullpen.

After being injured for the entire 2007 season, and being pretty much completely off the radar, it's easy to forget how big of an impact he had on this team. He was probably our most reliable pitcher in the bullpen leading up to Billy Wagner in 2006 until the Curse of the Taxis struck again (although we got Oliver Perez as part of a last-minute desperation trade before the deadline because Sanchez got hurt, so it wasn't all bad). I loved watching Duaner pitch, and I always had great confidence in him whenever he came in a game.

Then, obviously, we ran into a bit of bullpen issues at the end of 2007. The Mets' bullpen completely fell apart with guys like Joe Smith and Guillermo Mota having to take innings that Duaner Sanchez would have handled in 2006. I hate to think of the what-ifs, but who knows how things would have been different at the end of last season with that extra anchor in the bullpen helping to take the pressure off not just down the stretch, but for the whole season.

Duaner is looking good and ready to come back strong in 2008. Like Guillermo Mota getting traded for essentially nobody seemed like a new acquisition, so does Duaner Sanchez coming back to this team after over a year on the disabled list. Say what you want about Johan taking pressure off the bullpen by pitching deeper into games; just having Sanchez return will naturally take some pressure off the bullpen and make it better.

First Spring Training game in 13 days.

Monday, February 4, 2008

New York Giants: Super Bowl XLII Champions!

With all the excitement of Johan Santana finally becoming a Met, I'm going to have to step back for a second to celebrate some football happenings.

The New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 17-14 yesterday to win Super Bowl XLII! And boy, what a game it was. Probably the greatest Super Bowl that I've ever seen, regardless of the fact that my favorite team ended up the winner. Plus, certainly the best single play in the Super Bowl I've ever seen. I still cannot believe that Eli got away from that sack, and then just an amazing play by David Tyree catching the long pass.

I've also liked the Patriots since I was a kid, and they're my second favorite team, so I'm not going to sit there and rip on them for missing out on perfection. I've been rooting for perfection since early in the season, not expecting it would be the Giants who would have the opportunity to stand in their way in the end.

This was such an improbable finish to the season. The Giants were really sloppy in the regular season; I didn't even think they deserved to make it, but they got into the playoffs thanks to there only being about five teams in the whole NFL who actually deserved the shot.

But what I could see through their struggles was great potential. I was saying all season they could beat any team in the league - including the Patriots - if they could play well for a full four quarters. Throughout the entire season though, all the way up through Week 17 where they nearly ended the Patriots run right then and there, they never showed that they were capable of playing the full four quarters.

But what was a loss on paper may have turned out to be the biggest turning point of their season. They still came out with a very bad first quarter against the Buccaneers, but then they went on to dominate that game. Then the Cowboys. Then the Packers. Each game the team improved, and Eli played as well as he's ever played in that stretch of games.

It was the potential that I saw finally being reached. Three weeks earlier, I had very little confidence in this team being able to make some noise in the playoffs. Now, they were getting ready to play the Patriots in the Super Bowl, and I wasn't even intimidated by them.

The Giants had nearly beaten the Patriots in Week 17, even should have beat them. Now, Big Blue was as hot as could be, with a ton of momentum on their side. After interceptions and fumbles plagued the regular season, Eli had not turned the ball over once in the three playoff games. Their confidence couldn't be higher. And Tom Brady was coming off his worst playoff performance of his career.

All season I believed that the Giants could beat anyone. Not only did I think they could win, I thought that they would win.

One amazing game later, one unbelievable drive later, I was experiencing perhaps the happiest moment in this sports fan's life. My Giants had pulled off arguably the biggest upset in history to become the Super Bowl champions. And I never doubted them over the past three weeks.

I was four years old when the Giants last won the Super Bowl. I have nothing but faint memories of celebrating the victory. That's more than what I have for the last Mets' World Series though, which came when I was just six months old. Since then, both of my favorite teams had only reached that final stage once, following their 2000 seasons. And both of their performances were so horrid that I've tried my best to erase them from my memory.

The New York Giants have finally come through. I have truly celebrated and appreciated a Super Bowl victory by my team. That metaphorical bottle of champagne has been popped.

New York Mets: You know what you have to do now.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Nearly official....

What an agonizing 74 hours. Finally, Johan signed on the dotted line, and all that is left is a physical.

Wow, would that not be the ultimate stomach punch, if the deal broke off because of a failed physical? I shouldn't even be bringing this up. I need to find some wood to knock on now.

I couldn't care less about what the specific numbers of the deal are. Johan Santana officially being a Met is right around the corner, hopefully everything getting settled tomorrow.

I cannot wait for Opening Day.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Finally....Johan a NEW YORK MET

Two things:
1. WHOO!
2. Finally.

What a long offseason it's been, wanting nothing more than to finally see the headline come across my computer screen. I was frantically refreshing web sites today just waiting for it to happen, and then it finally did.

Pure elation is the only way to describe the way I've felt over the past 14 hours since the news broke on I feel like I can't even write a proper post with these emotions.

The deal is as it was rumored earlier. The Mets give up Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey. A wonderful, small price to pay, as far as I'm concerned, as I was prepared to lose Fernando Martinez. Being able to get Johan while still holding onto Martinez is almost like getting two deals in one. I assume that if the Twins demanded that Martinez be added to the deal, the Mets would have added him and made the deal, but they were able to use time to their advantage, as no other teams were prepared to step up as the Twins were approaching their deadline.

It all still depends on the Mets and Johan agreeing to a contract extension, but as Mike and the Mad Dog were discussing after the deal, there's no way the Mets can back out of this now. It would be a nightmare, a crushing blow to Mets fans if the front office decided it was unwilling to agree to Johan's terms. Basically, whatever he wants, we have to give it to him.

The ultimate goal here is to win a World Series one last time in Shea Stadium before it's torn down. I was just a mere six months old when they won in 1986, and I want nothing more than to watch my Mets celebrate a World Series championship at the stadium I love. That's what has made me so devastated the last two seasons, and why I have been so desperately wanting Johan for 2008.

This is our year. Please make it happen. If we win this season, then everything that happened today and will happen in the coming days with the contract talks, will be completely worth it, no matter what happens beyond 2008.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The offer for Santana?

The reported offer the Mets are trying to get Santana for is Carlos Gomez, Deolis Guerra, Phil Humber, and Kevin Mulvey, and the Twins want Fernando Martinez added to that package (Minnesota Star Tribune).

That's basically our entire list of top prospects there. Especially Fernando Martinez, who I've been really looking forward to seeing. Our five top prospects does seem pretty steep for just one pitcher, but when it's Johan Santana, the Twins have the ability to demand.

This will pretty much go along with my previous post, but things have been real quiet lately and I felt the need to post something, anything. As much as the trade scares me, I still have to say "Yes" to it. Getting Johan would mean so much to this team.

The thing is though, both of our corner outfielders are short-term (unless Ryan Church turns out better than expected, or Moises Alou gets five years younger), so having Fernando Martinez ready to step in in a year or two in one of those spots would have been great to see. So if this trade happens, both of those spots will need to be replaced by free agent pickups. Alou may be in his final year of baseball, and Church could easily fail to produce the way we need, so next offseason could be rough. This is where I regret the Milledge trade.

Of course, if Santana were to come in and help us win the World Series, then all those problems go away.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Johan Santana

From the very first day of this blog, I've made it pretty clear that I really want Johan Santana coming to the Mets. I had originally hoped to just wait it out and sign him next offseason without having to give up anything, but it seems that if he's traded this offseason, that team will be signing him to a long contract extension. So if we want him next year, we're likely going to need to get him for this year, too.

And I can't really complain about that either, as long as we don't have to give up too much. I would like nothing more than to see the Mets celebrate one last World Series on the field at Shea before they move into Citi Field. And based on the rest of the pitching market, if we don't get Johan, that's going to be a tough goal to accomplish.

Early rumors said that the Twins were demanding Reyes, and Omar, rightly so, refused. Negotiations have been bragging out for quite awhile now though. They seem to be at a stalemate with the Red Sox and Yankees, and the other 26 teams are basically non-contenders for him.

Of course, if we won't include Reyes, getting Johan will come at quite a high price in prospects. I'm willing to give up pretty much anyone besides Reyes and Wright, and Omar has made it pretty clear that he feels the same way about those two. If we can get a guy like Johan Santana and sign him to a long-term contract, then the future is already there, we don't have to wait for these prospects to possibly develop.

Then again, Johan is one player, compared to probably four we'd have to give up. But chances are very low that any of those players will come close to the value of Santana, and we'd probably be lucky to even have two of them become solid contributors for our team.

So I say, go for it. If only the Twins will accept.

Late thoughts on the Lastings Milledge trade.

November 30, 2007: The New York Mets trade Lastings Milledge to the Washington Nationals for Brian Schneider and Ryan Church

The first impression of this trade is definitely a puzzling one. There were a lot of trade rumors going around, and most included Milledge, so I expected him to get dealt. However, all of those rumors circled around him being traded to boost our pitching staff. So when I saw this trade, two things came to mind: 1) This is all we traded Milledge for? and 2) Now what are we going to do to boost our pitching staff?

I suppose if you look at the first question, the trade starts to look better the more you think about it. We traded a developing outfielder for another young outfielder plus our new starting catcher (which means no more Johnny Estrada, but that trade was still more than worth it just to get rid of Guillermo Mota).

I always liked Ryan Church, but I don't really know enough about him to know how he will compare to Milledge as our right fielder. The justification from Omar Minaya seems to be that Ryan Church will be a better player in the present, to help the win now approach. Milledge certainly has a brighter future, but I'm not so certain that the potential will be realized. Losing Lastings doesn't really sting me too badly.

However, that is where the second question comes in. I had no problem trading him for pitching help, and was eagerly anticipating seeing which pitcher we would get for him, be it a guy like Dan Haren or even the mighty package for Johan Santana. However, now we are seeing some guys slip off the market and others where the front office is struggling to put a package together for. I don't like to think about what could have been, but I can't help but wonder what could have been done with him, and what will not be able to be done now that he's gone.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone.

I apologize for not keeping this up to date over the past month. Maybe the RIP posts wore me out, I don't know. Maybe I'm just looking for an excuse.

I'm not one for New Years resolutions, but it's about time that I get back into this.

Here's to 2008, the last year of Shea Stadium. Let's send it out with a bang in more ways than just one.