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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Starting Contromexy 

I gotta say, Keith Hernandez's on-line Q&A for MSG is quickly becoming one of my favorite weekly readings. Of particular note this week is Keith's response to a question regarding Art Howe's decision to take Mike Piazza out of close games when he's playing first base for a defensive replacement. I'll highlight the part I think is, well, interesting.
"Whether to take Piazza out of a game for defensive purposes or not?", that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler ...never mind. It depends on the game. The Mets really don't have a real first baseman on the team and Piazza has been inexplicably timid at first. If the game is close, put him behind the plate. But do the pitchers like throwing to him?

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Bounce Back 

Leaving NY with their collective tails between their legs after dropping two of three to the Yankees, including Sunday's double dip sweep, the Mets bounced back against the Reds yesterday with a 7 to 5 win. Things started looking up for the Mets before the first pitch was even thrown, as both Sean Casey and Ken Griffey Jr. were riding the pine. Casey was shelved thanks to a strained calf and Jr. was a late scratch due to his own calf issues. Mike Cameron got the ball rolling when, after Cliff Floyd got aboard after being hit by a pitch, singled to left allowing Floyd to score. After that, Floyd took the wheel and drove the Mets offense adding a solo bomb in the fourth and then in the sixth inning, after a Kazuo Matsui double and Mike Piazza walk, Floyd homered again. Not content, the Mets went for the jugular, as Richard Hidalgo followed up Floyd's home run with a single and Ty Wigginton drove Hidalgo and himself in with his seventh home run of the season.

Jae Weong Seo, who has been flirting with losing his job (again) most of the season, pitched fairly well and probably better than his four earned run in 6 1/3 IP line indicated. His job may be safe - for now. Kazuo Matsui's sixth inning double was his 20th, which ties him for second among NL shortstops in two baggers. Ty Wigginton said before the season started that he thinks he's capable of 20 home runs and 40 doubles. Through 60 games played Wiggy has seven home runs and 15 doubles so it looks like he's close to being on place to meet his home run goal but will have to turn it up a notch to make 40 doubles. I don't know what Richard Hidalgo's goal was when he was traded to the Mets, but whatever it was I'm going to assume he's meeting it. Since the trade, Hidalgo has hit three home runs, compared to four he his the entire season before the trade, and has added about 10 points to his AVG and 30 points to his SLG. Since starting off his Met career going 0 for 7 in his first two games, Hidalgo has had multi hit games in four of the previous eight games.

Elsewhere around the division, the Phillies waxed the Expos 17 to 7 and the Marlins beat the Braves 5 to 4. The Mets are currently one game under .500 at 37 and 38 and find themselves three games behind both the Marlins and Phillies.

In minor league news, WFAN's Joe Benigno has reported on rumors that he's heard that David Wright will be called up on Monday to play against the Phillies. This might explain why Ty Wigginton has reportedly been taking ground balls at first base. Obviously this sounds like nothing more than speculation but it's worth keeping an eye on. Also, Mets 2003 first round draft pick Lastings Milledge, gets some positive ink in Sports Illustrated's website. This story is a far cry from the last time a young Mets player got some attention from SI.

Lastly, in stat geek news, make it a point to read Joe Sheehan's article at Baseball Prospectus, Bias (membership not required). To me, part of the reason sabermetrics is not more widely accepted, and in some cases met with open hostility, is first, generally the stat geeks could do a better job presenting the information so that you don't need an advanced degree in mathematics to understand it, and second, they could do a better job not coming off as arrogant know-it-alls. Sheehan's article addresses this second problem in showing a little humility:
All things considered, performance analysis brings a lot to the table, and a successful team has to incorporate it into its player evaluation. It's not perfect, however, and any application of the method has to include an understanding of the biases it can introduce. Just as an affection for young men who are strong and fast can lead to a system full of decathletes that can't hit a baseball, evaluating players based on walk rates and power can lead to having too many prospects who can't catch one. The best approach, the one that's going to put the most wins on the board, takes the best information from each method.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Disturbing Internet Practice With Respect to Blogger/Blogspot 

I just wanted to point out to blog readers and bloggers who use Blogger/Blogspot that a religious website called Aarons Bible has apparently done its best to direct traffic to its site by creating mirror sites that mimic Blogger blogs' URLs. Aarons Bible's URL(s) are exactly the same as Blogger URLs except they deleted the "s" in "blogspot." If you mistakenly omit the "s" in "blogspot" from a Blogger URL, for example my URL (http://sheahotcorner.blogspot.com/) you will end up at http://sheahotcorner.blogpot.com/ and you will be treated to,
A mega-site of Bible, Christian and religious information & studies; including, audio and written KJV Bible, Bible helps & tools, churches, Doctrine, links, news, prayer, prophecy, sermons, spiritual warfare, statistics, and tracts. Features the Chronological 4 Gospels, Prayer Book, Prophecy Bible, and a photo tour of Israel.
Don't get me wrong, I'm down with JC as much as the next guy, but this form of cyber-piracy is sketchy at best and illegal at worst. If you find this as disturbing as I do contact Aarons Bible directly and tell them as much, which you can do by clicking here, and also contact Blogger by clicking here. If you so desire, feel free to point out that while cyber-piracy is not specifically mentioned in The Ten Commandments, a few of the Commandments indicate that the Big Guy Upstairs would not be too keen on their deceptive practices. For example, the Ten Commandments state that "thou shall not steal," "thou shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor," and the often overlooked, "thou shall not misuse domain names, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses domain names." Amen.

Quote of the Day 

"Every team in the majors likes Tom Glavine . . . We like him better." - Mets GM Jim Duquette responding to rumors that the Yankees are interested in acquiring Mets LHP Tom Glavine.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Exhibit A 

Consider this Exhibit A supporting the irrefutable conclusion that Yankee fans are the crying, whining, spoiled brats of Major League Baseball. I read that and all I heard was, "I want an Oompa Loompa. I want you to get me an Oompa Loompa right away."

Quote of the Day 

"Keep not believing in us." -Cliff Floyd after the Mets trouncing of the Yankees.

Norm: I believe, I believe!!!! (today anyway)

Kings for a Day 

The Mets beat up on the Yankees 9 to 3 in the Bronx this afternoon. This Met team is like the mob - just when I think they're done . . . they pull me back in.

A few days ago Jeremy announced his "All Man Crush Team." I think it's fairly clear who Tim McCarver's All Man Crush Team consists of:

C Derek Jeter
1B Derek Jeter
2B Derek Jeter
SS Derek Jeter
3B Derek Jeter
RF Derek Jeter
CF Derek Jeter
LF Derek Jeter
SP Derek Jeter
RP Derek Jeter

By the way, did anyone notice that it was Derek Jeter's birthday? I particularly enjoyed Joe Buck's Marilyn Monroe'esque rendition of the Happy Birthday song to Derek. Very sweet.

Earlier today I posted a NY Times article that nearly sent me into a violent rage. I did not have the time, patience or steady enough hand to comment on it but others did.

Kaley from Flushing Local, in her usual eloquent prose, did a fine job revealing Rhoden's idiocy. My favorite line from Kaley's piece: "I grew up in Indianapolis, so I know from bland. Salt Lake is so Wonder Bread it makes Indianapolis look like pumpernickel."

Steve from The Eddie Kranepool Society was about as patient as I was with this garbage: "Mr. Rhoden, how are you feeling after your lobotomy?"

And finally, a Shea Hot Corner reader going by the name of "Annonymous" commented and had this to say:
The New York Times sports page has to leave the metropolitan area. Putting together quality reporting on sports is a matter of winning and losing, and the New York Times has lost to the New York Post, the Daily News, Newsday and that four page paper they hand out for free at subway stations.

I am tired of being insulted because I root for a team that has won more titles since 1969 than the Rangers, Jets and Nets, and has won as many titles as the Knicks and Giants. Any company that thinks it's a good idea to insult its customers does not deserve their business.

The Times should stick to making up quotes from Jessica Lynch's family and telling us about all the weapons of mass destruction Iraq has, and should leave sports reporting to people of at least moderate skill.

Over the last twenty years, the Mets have placed no lower than 3rd in 14 out of the 20 years, and no lower than 2nd in 11 of the 20 years, with four playoff appearances, and two world series appearances including one championship. That is making the playoffs 20% of the time in the last 20 years for those keeping score at home. I find it idiotic that people harp on the two last place finishes over the last two years and call the entire Met franchise a failure based on that. Shit, just back in 1999 and 2000 they were playoff teams and just missed making the playoffs in 2001 by a few Benitez meltdowns. Not many topics gets me mad, but this is one of them. Believe it or not, the Mets are reasonably successful franchise with a really bright future.
Nice.

Public Enemy Number 1 

I wish I had the time to slam the loser that wrote this article. On second thought, it's not even worth it. Suffice it to say that this Danny Glover look-a-like fool once wrote that soccer was a better sport than baseball. 'Nuff said.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Mets-Yanks Rained Out 

Don't fret, just click here and listen to the last few innings of the Tides game for free. Scott Erickson got rocked and David Wright just made what sounded like a phenomenal play at third to end the inning then lead off the next inning and went deeeeep.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Matt from Gogs on Matsui 

Go here now (notice, I'm not saying anything). A quick teaser:
UPS will ship international packages up to 150 pounds, so we figure just cutting off both of the arms will take care of the extra 35 that Kaz has.

The Silence is Deafening 

I told myself, and you, that I was going to wait and reserve judgment on Kaz Matsui until after the All Star break. If, after the break, Matsui has not shown marked improvement the all out blog blitz will commence. Matsui should not be the target of fans' rage however, or at least not the primary target, but the boos should be aimed at the organization that either a) put marketing concerns over wins and losses when they signed Matsui and uprooted Jose Reyes and/or b) severely misjudged his talent. So I will not comment on how Matsui almost single handedly cost the Mets the game last night with a bone headed base running blunder and by striking out in the ninth inning with one out and a runner on third base by flailing at a pitch so low Matsui, only 5'8, needed to get down on his knees to swing at. There's no need to trash Matsui for another reason: there are a few other people who can be blamed for letting this very winnable game slip away.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Heit on Brazell 

I forgot to mention the other day for you all, if you haven't already, to go check out Jeremy Heit's article on Craig Brazell. Good stuff.

Yin and Yang 

Is it just me, or do sportscasters fall into one of two categories: ass kissers or pains in the asses? Two stories point this out today. First, the Daily News argues that Channel 11's Mets broadcasters Tom Seaver and Dave O'Brien are in the ass kissing camp (either voluntarily or because they are being censored):

Seaver and O'Brien talked about why Reyes shouldn't slide headfirst. They talked about the way he runs. They talked about how he hits. And yet, the topic of why Reyes, or when Reyes, should replace a human sieve like Kazuo Matsui was not even broached.
On the other side of the ass spectrum, you have Keith Hernandez who, in his new MSG column Connecting with Flushing's Faithful as well as in his television broadcasts, is the consumate pain in the ass. In his latest column, we get the following from Mex:
I don't know if Wally Backman has the potential to be a major league manager.
And Hernandez seizes the opportunity to take yet another not so subtle dig at Mike Piazza:
I am very disappointed we don't have Alex Rodriguez or Pudge Rodriguez. Pudge would have been a great addition. (Mike) Piazza could have gone to first on a regular basis and take your chances. The Mets need someone with enthusiasm and leadership. Pudge has all those qualities. He proved it last year with the Marlins and look what he is doing with a mediocre Tigers club this year. You cannot measure that.
Whether you agree with Hernandez or not, I'd take someone who's not afraid to voice his opinions any day over those that sit back and allow themselves to become an extension of the team's PR department.

Trolling the Net 

Some good stuff out there today.

Avkash from The Raindrops gets his roster analysis on.

Peter Gammons mentions David Wright:
Teams like the A's, Dodgers and others like to look at prospects in terms of their pure hitting skills, judged by more extra-base hits and walks than strikeouts.

There aren't many prime prospects who have those types of numbers. In fact, there are only two:

(The statistics for the following players reflect in order; extra-base hits, walks and strikeouts.)

Casey Kotchman, 1B, Angels, Double-A and Triple-A: 18, 13, 12
Jeff Salazar, OF, Rockies, Class A: 35, 32, 16

A few who are close:
Jason Kubel, OF, Twins, Double-A and Triple-A: 28, 24, 26
Dan Johnson, 1B, A's, Triple-A: 31, 45, 33
David Wright, 3B, Mets, Double-A and Triple-A: 42, 41, 46
Russ Adams, SS, Blue Jays, Triple-A: 26, 33, 28
Daric Barton, C, Cardinals, Class A: 14, 25, 17
Conor Jackson, OF, Diamondbacks, Class A: 31, 44, 34
Andy LaRoche, SS, Dodgers, Class A: 33, 29, 30
Alex Belth from Bronx Banter is less than pumped about the Mets-Yankees series. I can't say I disagree.

The Baseball Crank brings up a good point. Along with the career low ERAs many Met pitchers are putting up, they are also on pace for career highs in innings pitched.

The Hardball Times is giving Yusmerio Petit some love.

Matt from Gogs is the GGoGs directs us to some Hardball Times numbers that support his premise that the other goggs is one of the unluckiest hitters in the NL so far this year. This may be so, but he's still the most trendy.

The New York Times has a great story on the steps Mike Cameron and Cliff Floyd took to get Jose Reyes back to the team. It's a feel good story but I was left somewhat surprised at how it hinted that Reyes' absence from the team was as much as, if not more so, due to a lack of motivation than health issues.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Minor League News 

The rosters for the sixth annual New York Mercantile Exchange All-Star Futures Game were announced this afternoon live on MLB.com via free live video webcast. The futures game is an exhibition played during All Star Sunday, which features the top prospects in the minors and is broadcast live on ESPN2 and MLB.com Radio. Several years ago Jose Reyes participated in the game and turned heads with his blazing speed and overall freakish talent. This year, the Mets will be represented by AAA Norfolk third basemen David Wright who will play for the United States and A Capital City Bombers starting pitcher Yusmeiro Petit who will play for the World team. AA Binghamton B-Mets Manager Ken Oberkfell was also selected as an assistant coach for the World team.

Wright's stock has been skyrocketing for months due to his complete destruction of the Eastern League that prompted a promotion to AAA. ESPN's John Sickel's recently opined that Wright is ready for the big leagues right now:
Wright was promoted to Triple-A last week, and is hitting .346 in seven games. In my opinion, he is ready for major league action, both offensively and defensively, and would make an impact as soon as he gets an opportunity
Petit has lit up the Sally League, striking out 101 while walking a miniscule 20 with a 2.14 ERA in 71.1 innings of work and he also leads the league in wins with 9. Petit's selection comes on the heals of getting some much deserved publicity from Baseball Prospectus, who included him in their Low-A All-Star Team, and Baseball America, who raved about Petit in their Daily Dish. It will be great to see Petit get out of the Sally League where he is clearly overmatching the competition and get an opportunity to face the best the minor leagues has to offer.

Congratulations to all three.

Edit: Click here for a link to the mlb.com story on the futures game roster announcement. The story links to the rosters and also the webcast. There is an interview with David Wright conducted via telephone about half way through the webcast, in which Wright speak of, among other things, how closely he is following the progress of the big league Mets.

Locked and Loaded 

The Mets 6 to 1 win over the Tigers capped off a 3 game sweep of the boys from Detroit, was also the Mets fourth straight win, and their sixth win in the last seven games. The miserable five game AL Central losing streak between June 8th and 12th seems like 3 Jose Reyes leg injuries ago. More importantly, yesterday's win brought the Mets back to .500 with a 34 and 34 record and they are only 2.5 games out of first place. That's the good news. The bad news is, the schedule isn't getting any easier. A few weeks ago I commented on the 12 game NL East Gauntlet the Mets would have to get through in order to see what they were made of. The team came out of that stretch 6 and 6 and even in the games they lost, played very competitively. Consider that round one. Round two begins Tuesday and continues until the All Star break. The Mets have to get through seven games against the Reds (3rd place at 38 and 31), six against the Yankees (1st place at 43 and 24), four games against the Phillies (tied for 1st place at 36 and 31,) and three against the Marlins (tied for 1st place at 37 and 32). The optimist in me will point out that despite being in first place much of the year, the Reds are struggling recently and have lost seven of their last ten games. The Mets have had their way with the Phillies so far this year, beating them four out of five contents. While the Marlins have a winning record against the Mets, they are only four and six their last ten games. That leaves only the Yankees to give us trouble and the Mets are just due to smack them around.

The Mets could not be in a better position to start this 19 game stretch. They go into Round 2 with the best ERA in baseball. Cliff Floyd is healthy and productive. Hell, Cliff even stole a base a few days ago and is running around left field like a gazelle shagging fly balls. Mike Cameron appears to have finally broken out of his slump, hitting close to his career AVG so far this month and in the last 7 days has hit .348 with two home runs. Those two game winning walk off hits against Detroit surely gave Cameron a much needed confidence boost. Mike Piazza is doing what Mike Piazza does – hitting balls hard and often. Ty Wigginton, perhaps spurred on by news of David Wright’s rapid rise through the minor league ranks, has even turned it up a notch. In the last month Wigginton has padded his numbers to the tune of 61 points to his AVG, 55 points to his OBP and 106 points to his SLG. Kazuo Matsui, despite his well documented defensive troubles, has even held his own so far, as he ranks 5th among NL shortstops with a 12.9 VORP. Last but not least are newly acquired, via trade, Richard Hidalgo and newly acquired, via St. Lucie M*A*S*H unit, Jose Reyes. Hidalgo’s two hit performance yesterday, one of which was a go ahead two run blast, will go a long way to getting him back on track. Before being an eye witness to Roberto Alomar's Met career, I would say that it’s simply “not possible” for a player to fall off a cliff so quickly. I’m hoping Hidalgo is not exhibit B to disprove this hypothesis. Hidalgo has not looked bad in the batter’s box so far so let’s keep our fingers crossed. Reyes might have a little rust swinging the stick but has already shown he’s sharp in the field and that he can make things happen on the base paths. Other than his baseball skills, Reyes brings a certain energy to the Mets they simply lack without him. After Reyes galloped for his 10th inning triple the other night and looked up with that huge Reyes smile, I knew the Mets were going to win that game.

It's time this team gained a little confidence. It's time the Mets realize they have the best pitching staff in baseball. It's about time the team realize they have a future Hall of Famer who still swings a mean bat anchoring their line-up. It's time they realize they have the best defensive player in baseball patrolling center field. It's about time they realize they have the most exciting, electrifying young player in the game providing a spark near the top of the line-up and plugging holes in the infield. It's about time the best player in Japan start acting like it and quit trying to impress the Shea faithful with his best Chuck Knoblauch impersonation. Now's the time to shore up the shoddy infield defense. If Matsui is having trouble making the throws to first, then Piazza/Phillips/Valent better be out there before the game working on making picks. It’s time to shelf all of the excuses and start amassing wins. It's time this team stop being satisfied with .500. It's time to get locked and loaded and make a move now.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Quote of the Day 

"I heard he's an unbelievable shortstop. I'd like to see that. . . Right now, unfortunately, that's not going to happen." -Mets center fielder Mike Cameron on Mets second basemen Jose Reyes.

Sweep! 

I almost forgot - Let's go Mets! It's time to sweep these bums from Detroit. This series is turning somewhat personal for me as I have been forced to watch the games on MLB Extra Innings, which gives me the Detroit feed. If I have to hear one more insinuation that Pudge Rodriguez is better than Mike Piazza I'm going to put a foot through my TV screen. Also, happy Father's Day to all you dads out there. As far as I know I'm not a dad.

Reyes of Hope 

The Good News
Sorry, I had to use the cheesy Reyes pun headline. But with Jose Reyes back in the line-up I actually have hope for this season. Last night the Mets rolled out a line-up that actually looked somewhat like a major league team. The result? A thrilling extra innings 4 to 3 victory. The win was the result of some solid defensive plays (Floyd), gutsy pitching (Leiter, Looper), aggressive base running (Reyes) and timely hitting (Reyes, Floyd, Cameron). Just imagine what this team is capable of if the pitching stays close to what it has been, if Reyes can shake the rust off and stay healthy, and if Richard Hidalgo can return to form. I know, that's a lot of ifs. But why not us damn it! Why can't the Mets be the team to string together a nice winning streak - maybe take 11 of the next 15 - to overtake the division? WHY NOT US!

The Bad News
Sorry to put a damper on things, but the return of Reyes last night was sort of bitter sweet for me. Ever think your car is nice and clean until someone pulls up next to you with the same color car that has just been washed and waxed? Then, all of the sudden you're like "damn, my car's nasty." Well, that's how I felt about Kazuo Matsui last night. All season long I told myself he was doing okay. But watching Reyes play and seeing the excitement he brings to the team magnified how bad Matsui sucks. Matsui was supposed to be a Reyes-like player. A speedy, switch hitting middle infielder who could make things happen with the leather, his speed and his bat. In just one game back, Reyes did more to seal a Met win than Matsui has done all season long. I've tried my hardest to be patient with Matsui but it's getting harder and harder as time goes by and is now close to impossible now that Reyes is back standing idle at second base, forced to watch as Matsui botches tailor made double plays. Like I said last week, since Matsui obviously cares and is not dogging it out there it's hard to trash him too badly. At the same time, however, with his piss poor play it's hard not to. So I'll make Matsui a deal. I'll give him until the All Star break. If after the break he does not make huge strides with the glove, and even some progress with the bat, the mercy I've shown him will end.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

He's Baaaaaack 

Zippidy doo da, zippidy ay, my oh my what a wonderful day. Plenty of sunshine headin' my way, zippidy doo day, zippidy ay. Okay, I gotta get a hold of myself. Why am I skipping around my crib singing you ask? Because it's confirmed! Jose Reyes is back at Shea, he's been activated, and is currently penciled in batting 2nd. In other roster news, Pedro Feleciano has been demoted to AAA Norfolk and Norfolk closer Jose Parra has been called up to the Mets. Parra, a 31 year old right handed journeyman, has spent short stints with the Dodger, Twins, Pirates and Diamondbacks. Parra is currently tied for 2nd in the Eastern League with 16 saves and sports an impressive 1.69 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, .196 BAA and has struck out 34 batters in only 26.2 innings.

Edit: Mike Piazza is not in the starting line-up. Gggrrr. Is it too much to ask that the Mets send out a line-up with Reyes, Floyd and Piazza? Seriously, I don't think these three have been in the same lin-up together more than about 15 times. Piazza, by the way, is 4 for 6 off Tiger's starter Jason Johnson. Double gggrrr.

Reyes to Return Tonight? 

NYFS, The New York Post and the B-Mets website are reporting that Jose Reyes will be making his 2004 New York Mets debut tonight . . . . . . . . . . Oh, sorry for the delay, I just jumped up on my desk and did the cabbage patch dance followed by the running man while singing, "Go Jose, go Jose, go go go Jose." Reyes versus the Tigers - that sounds gggrrrrreeeat to me. The news of Reyes' return tonight brings up the question of whether Reyes should be playing shortstop and not Kazuo Matsui. That horse has been beaten to a bloody pulp but another question that warrants some bandwidth regarding how the two switch hitting speedy infielders should be coupled is whether Art Howe should pencil Reyes in the lead off spot with Matsui in the 2 hole or vice-versa? Both prefer the 2 hole and the numbers reflect this:

Reyes leading off: .300 .333 .460
Reyes in the 2 hole: .362 .400 .475

Matsui leading off: .238 .315 .376
Matsui in the 2 hole: .327 .411 .449

I tend to think the Mets should stop bending over backwards to accommodate Matsui at the expense of Reyes. In other words, if Reyes feels more comfortable in the 2 hole, then put him there.

Friday, June 18, 2004

The Duke Pulls the Trigger 

Damn, you turn your back for a day or two and all-Mets-blogging hell brakes loose. There's not much to say that has not already been said, other than to give the David Weathers/Jeremy Griffiths for Richard Hidalgo trade my blessing. Do I think Richard Hidalgo will pull a Mets jersey over his head and proceed to smack 44 HR with a 1.028 OPS like he did in 2000? No. Do I think Hidalgo is infinitely more interesting with monumentally more upside than the piss platoon? Hell yeah. Duquette was walking a fine line of wanting to keep things interesting this year, especially in light of the close division, but at the same time not mortgaging the future. This trade does that perfectly since Weathers was not in the Mets long term plans and Griffiths barely qualified as a "prospect". Call me nuts, but let's say, for arguments sake, that Hidalgo does not break out of his funk for the rest of the season. I'd still endorse this deal for the simple reason that he can't be any worse than Karim Garcia and sending Weathers packing forces Art Howe to rely more on younger bullpen arms like Orber Moreno.

This and That

Thursday, June 17, 2004

This Guy Sucks 

I don't have much to say about the Mets ugly 9 to 1 loss to the Tribe last night but I will take a minute to point out that this guy sucks.


Monday, June 14, 2004

David Wright is Good and Other Punless Thoughts 

After staying up late Thursday night to watch the Mets get swept under the astro turf in extra innings by the Twins, I woke up Friday morning feeling groggy. I knew I had to shake the cob webs out though because I was heading down to Florida for a wild bachelor party weekend. The great majority of the guys I'd be meeting down there are not sophisticated and cultured (ha ha!) married guys like yours truly. And unlike me they go out partying just about every night. Needless to say, it was going to be a rough chore to keep up with these guys. But I'm a gamer so I think I can hang in there.

We would be having a "warm up" night in Orlando Friday and the actual bachelor party would start in O-Town Saturday night but a bus would be taking us to Tampa Bay for the actual festivities. Apparently, Orlando has some silly "six inch rule" for strip clubs where the ladies are not allowed within six inches of the patrons. I'm not much of a strip club guy but the rest of the crew was not down with this strict regulation so it was off to Tampa where the only rule in the strip clubs is that there are no rules. By the way, if you are ever in Tampa Bay do yourself a favor and stop into Mons Venus. Actually, do yourself a big favor and cash in your life savings for a boat load of singles, then go to Mons Venus. Mmmmmm, Mons Venus . . . . Oh, crap, where was I? Oh, right. I made it through Friday and after a Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity breakfast from IHOP Saturday afternoon when I woke up I was ready for the night.

After making our way through the myriad of strip clubs, dance clubs and bars it was a little after 3:00 a.m. and time to find the bus for the trip back to Orlando. I was feeling pretty proud of myself being as I hadn't lost my cookies yet and I was still standing. The walk back to the bus, however, felt like forever. Even though it was about 3:15 in the morning, it was still about 88 degrees out with the humidity at about 80%. I was struggling. Dehydrated. Hot. Stumbling. Need fluids. Finally, after about 15 minutes of this trek of death I noticed that my friend had an Avian bottle of water. I ask, "Hey, hook me up with that water I'm dying over here." "No problem" he responds. I take it and start guzzling it down. Wait, there's something not right. After six or seven big "gulps" I realize I'm not drinking water. I detach the bottle from my lips. My throat tightens. My stomach cringes. Through my watery eyes I see that my "friend" was laughing uncontrollably. In fact he was gathering up the rest of the guys so that they could all witness his little science experiment unfold. Yup, it wasn't water. It was straight vodka and I had just taken down about eight ounces of it. I thought of taking a swing at the prankster but my body had other plans for me.

What does this have to do with the Mets you ask. Well, not much. With the Mets playing the way they are I just don't feel like talking about them. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fair weather blogger but I just need a break. So instead you get this. Okay okay let me see if I can tie the Mets into this entry some how? You see I woke up Sunday morning and felt like I had just gotten blind sided by a Mack truck or a Mo Vaughn. I managed to make it back to the airport and board the flight. As I sat crunched into the middle seat staring at the barf bag for two and a half hours, I didn't think things could get any worse. Then the Smokin' Hot Corner picked me up from the airport and I was treated to a 45 minute interrogation for the ride home. "What did you do . . . Where did you go . . . Etc... Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, I got home and checked out the Mets scores for the past few days. Yeah, my beloved Mets had dropped 5 in a row - 3 to the Twins and 2 to the last place Royals. Ugh. Kill me now.

My stomach started to lose its curdled milk-like feeling when I saw the Mets were about to at least pick up one win against the Royals. Then, as I surfed around the net a bit I saw that David Wright was finally promoted to AAA. Things were starting to look better. The local papers and the Internet were jammed pack with Wright related articles, "The Wright Stuff," "The Time is Wright" etc... It was great. Just a few months ago this waste of a sperm cell didn't even know who David Wright was! Wright's final AA numbers look like this: 223 ABs, 44 runs, 81 hits, 27 2B, 10 HRs, 40 RBI, 39 BB, 41 SO, 20 SB, 6 CS, .363 AVG, .467 OBP, .619 SLG. Wright ripped through AA pitching like that damn stealth vodka ripped through my stomach. Wright is constantly compared to Scott Rolen. Whether that comparison is accurate, or fair, remains to be seen but it's worth noting that Rolen, at about the same age as Wright and playing in the same AA league, had almost identical numbers: .361 AVG in 230 ABs, 83 hits, 22 2B, 9 HRs, 34 BB, 32 K, 8 SBs and 3 CS. Speaking about his promotion to Norfolk, Wright demonstrated why us fans are going gogga over him:
This will be like the beginning of a new season. But I can’t rest on laurels. Triple-A pitchers aren’t going to care what I did in Double-A and the guys in Double-A I went 3 for 4 against aren’t going to be getting called up.
Do the Mets have a PR person drafting his responses? Really, could this kid be any cooler? Wright is not resting on his laurels, as he picked up "Wright" (sorry, I could not help myself) where he left off in his first AAA start for Norfolk last night going 3 for 4 with a double. The Tides lost the game 13 to 6, however, thanks to Scott Erickson who gave up 8 runs in 5 inning raising his ERA to 8.00 in three re-hab starts for Norfolk. All-in-all, a pretty damn good night in southern Virginia. I'm feeling much better. It will be a long time before I drink vodka again though.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Catch the Energy 

Jim Duquette's plan this off-season was to get younger and to improve the defense in hopes of playing "meaningful games in September." Let's take a second to break that down into its component parts:

Younger

With the demotion of 23 year old Danny Garcia and the promotion of 38 year old Gerald Williams, the Mets are now the oldest team in the NL and the second oldest team in the Major Leagues.

Improved Defense

The Mets have the second most errors in the NL, are last in the NL in fielding percentage, and are in the bottom half in both Zone Rating and Range Factor.

"Meaningful Games"

The Mets, currently 28 and 30, are only 2 "meaningful" wins ahead of last year's pace.

Yeah, riiiiight, this team is only one big stick away from the promised land so it makes sense to trade away its top, young talent.

Mets Open To Dealing in Wright Trade 

The latest from Jason Stark:
Meanwhile, clubs that have spoken with the Mets say they haven't completely ruled out trading their best prospect, third baseman David Wright, in a huge deal. But to do it, they either would need to get a third baseman back or obtain one in a separate trade.
I'm speechless. The organization's best prospect for a 1/2 year rental, huh? Was former Mets GM Steve "Sell the Farm" Phillips re-hired and I didn't notice? The same article quotes a Baseball Prospectus study regarding Mike Cameron:
The brilliant number-crunchers at Baseball Prospectus just broke down the rate of extra-base hits that are falling in Seattle, since Cameron departed, and in Queens, since Cameron arrived. And this can't be a coincidence: Projected doubles and triples against the Mets this year: 267 -- or 81 fewer than last year. Projected doubles and triples against the Mariners this year: 390 -- up 156 from last year.
I'm speechless again, but this time for a good reason.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Matsui 

Chalk up a big, fat "L" for Kazuo Matsui. His three misplays, only one of which was charged an error, cost the Mets the game in their 2 to 1 loss to the Twins. I watched in disbelief as the 9th inning unfolded. How could he not turn that double play?!?! As the winning run crossed home plate thanks to another defensive blunder, this time courtesy of Ty Wigginton, I was hot. I wanted the names and numbers of whoever said Matsui is a "defensive whiz." I wanted Art Howe's head on a platter for proclaiming before the season started that the Mets would have the best "up the middle" defense in baseball. I was already thinking of all the ways to let out my frustration and slam him in the blog. Then something weird happened. Usually right after a game MLB Extra Innings turns the coverage off and you are greeted with a curt "good night" message and bad 70's porn music. But last night the game ended, MSG cut to a commercial and MLB Extra Innings kept the signal. I thought "great, now I have to sit and watch a post-game re-hash of this car-wreck of a game." I was about to turn it off and bang my head against a blunt object when the commercials ended and the brief post game coverage began. Maybe this is a sign from above? Someone wants me to see this. The camera panned into the Mets dugout where Matsui sat by himself looking like someone just shot his dog. He looked devastated. The Smokin' Hot Corner turns to me, voice cracking, and says, "Please don't make fun of him in that stupid blog of yours!" Matsui's staring into space (or that ugly white dome in Minnesota) and I'm staring at him. None of his teammates or coaches are even looking at him. Blue and orange uniforms pass the entranced Japanese rookie, who seems cemented into the bench, without so much as a pat or nod . . . nothing. You can see that he is crushed. The wife turns to me again, "Oh my God, why are they showing this . . . this is awful . . . I'm going to cry!" Then again, my wife sobbed uncontrollably during The Nutty Professor when the stand up comic dug into Prof. Klump so I paid her no mind. Matsui eventually got up, walked slowly to the rack, gathered up his glove and bats and disappeared into the clubhouse, still no one even acknowledging his existence. Matsui had an awful game. Perhaps his worst as a Met. When I show up at Shea though, you won't hear a boo out of me directed toward Kaz. The guy is trying his best. No one can say he's dogging it out there. He obviously cares. Perhaps too much. I'll re-join the chorus of beating drums to switch Matsui to second base when/if Jose Reyes ever gets back. I might even join those that think Matsui should simply be a bench player. Hell, maybe I'll agree with those that propose we box Matsui up and send him back to Japan. But not today. As bad as last night's victory was for me, it seems clear it was even more crushing to Matsui.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Welcome to the Party Pal(s)!!! 

Eighteen fresh faced kids joined the Mets organization yesterday through the amateur draft. There's plenty of good coverage out there commenting on these players' abilities, potential etc... but, since the most I've seen of these kids has been a few seconds of streaming video, let's tackle something infinitely more important: their first Met nick-names. Get ready, they're pretty lame.

1. Philip Humber RHP - Rice
---Phil the Thrill

2. Matt Durkin RHP - San Jose State
---Matt Durkin Donuts

3. Gabriel Hernandez RHP - Belen Jesuit HS, Fla
---Able Gable

4. Aaron Hathaway C - U. of Washington
---Aaron Hack-away

5. Nicholas Evans 3B - St. Mary's HS, Az
---St. Nick

6. Ryan Coultas SS - UC Davis
---Ryan's Hope

7. Scott Hyde RHP - George Fox University
---Scott Jekyle & Hyde

8. Neil Jamison RHP - Long Beach State U.
---Neil Down Before Jamison!

9. Christopher Carp 1B - Lakewood HS, Cal.
---Chris Carpal Home Run Syndrome

10. Brahiam Maldonado RF - St. Francis School, PR
---Brahiamian Rhapsody

11. Joshua Wyrick LF - Porterville College
---Osh-kosh-Big-Josh

12. Jeffrey Landing RHP - Virginia Tech. University
---Jeff Fastball Landing in your ear if you don't back off the plate bitch!

13. Martinez Allen LF - Dunnellon HS, Fla
---Don't call me Pedro Martinez Allen

14. Bradley Meyers RHP - Servite HS, CA
---Brad "I aint no fad" Meyers

15. William Psomas SS - West Virginia University
---Bill Psoma-jammy-jam

16. Parris Austin CF - Douglas County HS, GA
---I see Parris, I see France, I see Austin's . . . this nick-name is going no where quick

17. Joseph Williams LHP - St. Xavier U.
---JoWilly

18. Kyle Brown CF - LeMoyne College
---K-Bro

Monday, June 07, 2004

Draft Update 

With the number 3 pick in the draft, the Mets selected Rice right handed starting pitcher Philip Humber. NYFS has a good write-up on Humber and links to an interview. Here's a quit snippet of their description:
Considered the most seasoned, experienced and major league ready amongst the Rice Big 3, as he is the only one who was in the starting weekend rotation (and pitched regularly) his Freshman season...and the only one drafted out of high school. Added 3 - 4 MPH to his heater this season, having it clocked as high as 96 MPH, though he throws mostly in the low 90's...but he's got the #1 rated breaking ball in the college ranks, and has outstanding control and poise for a 21 year old.
Edit: MLB.com has a story up regarding the Mets "surprise" pick. A quick and dirty:
Sure, there was some speculation that Long Beach State's Jered Weaver might be a target or even Florida State shortstop Stephen Drew. But when it came time to make the third overall selection in the draft, New York opted for the safe bet and went with the ace from Rice University. It was the Mets' highest selection since choosing Paul Wilson with the top overall pick in 1994.
Great, they had to mention Paul Wilson right!

Edit 2: With their second round pick, the Mets select right handed pitcher Matthew Durkin out of San Jose State. Again, NYFS has us covered:
Durkin is a 6'5" 240lb work horse, with a 91-93 sinking fastball with good movement. He is 21 years old and was a San Francisco Giants fan as a kid.
Edit #3: With their third pick, the Mets go the high school route (hey, if there's grass on the field, play ball) with their third right handed pitcher Gabriel Hernandez out of Belen Jesuit High School in Miami, Florida. NYFS has this to say:
He throws a 92 mph fastball and has a sharp curveball with an 11-to-5 break that he can already throw consistently for strikes. He has a live arm, a deceptive change, and effortless delivery according to reports.
With three hard throwing righties, it seems as if Art Howe and, more importantly, Rick Peterson might have had some input into this draft, as both have spoken of their preference for pitchers with a little giddy up.

Edit #4: The United States Justice Department has just filed a complaint against the New York Mets Major League baseball club alleging antitrust violations in their attempt to corner the market on hard throwing right handed pitchers. News at 11 . . . .

Edit #5: Head on over to the weblurbs section ("Vital Signs") over at NYFS for coverage of the remainder of today's draft.

Mets Make It Through the NL East Gauntlet 

The Mets 5 to 2 victory yesterday against the Marlins capped off a 12 game NL East gauntlet in which the team played 7 games against the Marlins and 5 against the Phillies. Many folks thought these 12 games, in which the Mets squared off against the best the division has to offer, would define the Mets season. Are the Mets buyers or sellers? Should the Mets be shopping veterans or should the team be trolling the trade market hoping to pick up an arm and/or bat that will help them contend for a playoff berth? Well, the Mets finished the 12 games virtually unscathed with an even 6 and 6 record. That's right folks, the Mets dove into the murky waters filled with the best of the NL East and resurfaced clutching their .500 record (28 and 28) and still only 3.5 games out of first place. This is not the 2002 or 2003 Mets. Nope. These guys have heart and are exciting to watch. But just because this team is better than Mets teams of the past two years and show up to play, does that mean this team is actually any good?

The Mets 28 and 28 record is made up of a few components. The Mets are an above .500 team when playing their division rivals in the NL East. We're 3 and 3 against the Braves, 4 and 1 against the Phillies, 4 and 3 against the Expos and 2 and 5 against the Marlins, making up a 13 and 12 NL East record. The only team the Mets have a losing record against in the division is the Marlins and let's look past the teal unis and remember that these are the reigning World Series champs. Despite only picking up 2 wins against the Fish, the Mets have actually played them tuff. In fact, of the 7 games played, 4 games were decided by a margin of 2 runs or less and the Mets have only been outscored 25 runs to 28. The Mets can hang with these guys.

Some argue the Mets decent record is deceiving because they only beat "bad" teams while getting worked by the better competition. This argument has some merit but is ultimately wrong. The Mets are 15 and 11 against teams currently at or below the .500 mark. The Mets shouldn't be criticized for this. To the contrary, good teams are supposed to feast on the bad ones. The Mets being 4 games above .500 against mediocre or sub par teams shows that they are a step above those teams. True, the Mets are a sub .500 team (13 and 17) when playing winning teams:

2 and 5 vs. Marlins
4 and 1 vs. Phillies
0 and 3 vs. Cubs
2 and 1 vs. Dodgers
1 and 2 vs. Padres
1 and 2 vs. Brewers
2 and 1 vs. Astros
1 and 2 vs. Cardinals

But looking at these games closer reveals quite a few positives. First, and this might not be the strongest hook to hang your Mets cap on, the Mets have only been swept once in a series against a winning team. This was the late April road series against the Cubs where the Mets ran up against Greg Maddux, Kerry Wood and Matt Clement. Those three could shut down just about any team in baseball in any given series. More significant than the simple fact that, for the most part, the Mets have avoided being swept by good teams is that the Mets are, in Art Howe's words, "battling." Of the 30 games against winning teams over half of them have been decided by 2 runs or less. Most shockingly, however, is that in these 30 games against the best teams thrown in their path so far, the Mets have allowed 119 runs but have also scored 119 runs in those games! In other words, the Mets are one or two Art Howe bone headed managerial moves away from scoring more runs than they have given up against the best teams on their schedule. That's nothing to scoff at.

These numbers, especially the Mets runs scored versus runs allowed against winning teams, reveals that the Mets are more than some bottom feeding mediocre team destined to slip away into the abyss. This is a team that is beating the teams they should be beating, coming away with wins against the division, and gutting it out against the best teams in the league. The Mets are right on the cusp of getting over the hump and pressing the issue in the NL East. Everyone seems to think the Mets need to make a big, blockbuster trade for a Freddy Garcia, Kris Benson (whose wife is hot!), Carlos Beltran-type player to do this. I'm not convinced that is necessary, but since the team has held up it's side of the bargain and produced, I would not be adverse to the right trade. Below is a quick list of things, aside from the ordinary "trade the world for 1/2 year rental player X," that might provide a spark:

---Fire Art Howe (see my gory details and The Raindrop's proof of Howe's idiocy) and reinsert Bobby Valentine ASAP. I don't care how it's done. Buy out his contract; bribe him; send commandos into Japan to abduct him - whatever. Just send Howe packing and get Valentine back. Okay, I'm only half serious about a Valentine return to Shea this year (just because it's unrealistic), but I'm 100% serious about firing Howe. I don't know who could replace him: Rick Peterson? Don Baylor? John Stearns? Howard Stern? Howard Johnson? Willy Wonka? Wally Backman? Carrot Top? Who cares.

---Put Mike Cameron on the DL now, see what can be done about his finger, and call up Jeff Duncan. The Mets can't survive much longer with Cammy stinkin' up the joint in the batter's box like he has been. Duncan provides solid center field defense, has speed and will hit better than Cameron's current line of .202/.306/.376. But the real impetus behind this move is to get Cameron healthy and ready to go for the second half of the season.

---Take all pressure off Jose Reyes (his psyche, hammy, and back) by not bringing him back, even if he's "healthy," until after the All Star break.

---Send both David Wright and Matt Peterson south to Norfolk now, add them both to the 40 man roster, and if they don't fall on their faces against the stiffer AAA competition, be ready to bring them up for a post All Star break Shea debut.

---Release David Weathers and call up Yusmeiro Petit. Yeah yeah yeah I know, the kid's only 19 and in single A ball. So what. We saw last week that the Phillies had the cajones to bring up Elizardo Ramirez, a 19 year old kid straight from A ball. As has been well documented in some of the other Mets blogs, Petit is flat out filthy. How filthy you ask? Try 77 Ks and only 19 walks in 59 innings! Petit and Orber Moreno can form a nasty Venezualan combo. The trick is to get Howe to actually use them. Oh, wait, he'll be fired by now and I'm sure Carrot Top will use Moreno and Petit.

Let's hear your suggestions of what the Mets can do, in-house, to make this team better. Any "Tony from Staten Island" can call up Fat Boy and Fruitloops on WFAN with the obligatory, "The Mets need to trade Jose Reyes for Alfonso Soriano" suggestion, but let's get creative. And "creative" does not mean "realistic," as my suggestions show.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

If the Mets are Serious About This Year, They Should Fire Art Howe Now 

Thank you for today's loss Art Howe. I usually don’t like to comment on games I was not able to actually watch (did I mention that MLB Extra Innings Sucks), but if people pay to read this clown, this joker, and this pie hole flapper talk out of their collective asses about the Mets, then, since you all get my fine writing and analysis for free, I can too.

First, the point I made earlier about Mike Piazza’s lack of protection was magnified in today’s game, as Mike jacked another two home runs but, unsurprisingly, they came with no one on base. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s 10 solo home runs of his total 12 dingers. If just one of those two home runs today came with someone on base the outcome would be different. However, the outcome would also be different if the Mets had a manager in the dugout who doesn’t get rattled and thrown off his game when a big metal bird flies overhead at Shea (they’re called jets Art).

Howe, according to my in depth calculations (which means I guesstimated), has single handedly cost the Mets at least five games. Earlier in the week Mets play-by-play man Ted Robinson wrote an article for MSG.com in which he proclaimed that Art Howe should be credited with the Mets recent resurgence. While I respect the fact that Robinson stuck his nose out and is not simply jumping on the trash Art Howe bandwagon (and whose play-by-play I enjoy), but even he, who is just about the only commentator I have seen come out in defense of Howe, can only muster up the following pathetic support for his premise: “I can’t make sense of this [the Mets success thus far], so it leads me to one inescapable conclusion: Art Howe is doing a terrific job.”

Sorry Ted, but that kind of logic might fly at MSG, or perhaps at the French Open, but it doesn’t fly at The Shea Hot Corner. To simply cite two occurrences – the Mets decent record and the fact that Art Howe is the manager – and reach the “inescapable conclusion” that one occurrence has caused the other, is comical at best. The fact is, the Mets success so far this year has occurred in spit of Art Howe, not because of him. I realize sometimes “real” sports journalists (i.e. not me) are put in quandary where criticizing players, managers or the organization is counter productive to their goals of obtaining critical access to those same parties, but c’mon! New York Fans, well, NY Mets fans, tend to be a pretty intelligent brand of baseball fan and we deserve better than that. Art Howe is a terrible manager and instead of wasting ink, or in this case bandwidth, on an unsupported ass kissing puff piece, Robinson should call him out.

Today’s game was a perfect example of what we fans have to endure. The Mets scored three runs in the sixth inning to go up 5 to 2. Howe inserts right handed pitcher Ricky Bottalico to pitch the seventh for Matt Ginter, who, by the way, had another strong outing. After an out and two singles, and of course the obligatory error thrown in (no pun intended) for good measure, Bottalico was confronted with runners on the corners with one out. Jack McKeon sends out Lenny Harris to face Bottalico. Sweet! Harris, despite being a left handed bat off the bench, has only hit .219 the last two years against righties with a meager 5 extra base hits. But no, Howe has to blindly follow the lefty/righty formula and bring in Mike Stanton.

Howe had to know, however, that Harris does not face lefties (only 1 AB against a lefty this year) and would be himself pinch hit for. McKeon had several righty options to counter Stanton: Damion Easley, a career .263 hitter off lefties (better than his numbers against righties); Mike Mordecai with a career .270 AVG versus lefties (career .236 against righties); or switch hitting Abraham Nunez who McKeon describes has his HR bat off the bench due, in part, to his 10 spring training bombs. So Howe was basically confronted with matching up Bottalico against Harris and his .219 AVG against righties the last two years with no power, or Mike Stanton versus Easley (.263 vs. lefties); Mordecai (.270 vs. lefties); or Nunez (McKeon's "longball guy").

Better yet, if Howe felt Bottalico didn’t have it today, he could have inserted the forgotten man Orber Moreno. Moreno is just flat out nasty and would work well in this situation since, despite being right handed, has actually pitched better against lefties this year. Moreno has a 2.79 ERA against lefties and has held them to only a .211 AVG. Not to mention that while in Miami last weekend to attend the Mets-Marlins games, I met Moreno’s wife in the stands and had the opportunity to chat a bit with her. She was really nice, which is even more reason to put in Moreno damn it! Since Moreno has a critical flaw - he's under the age of 30 - Howe went with Stanton who, despite sucking, provides the essential "veteran leadership" this team needs. No surprise to just about anyone with a brain, McKeon countered with Easley; Swat; HR; Game tied.

Howe wasn’t done sabotaging the Mets victory though. In the 8th inning Howe sends in David “Stormy” Weathers, who lets up a single to Mike Lowell but induces Miguel Cabrera to ground into a double play. That should have been the end of Weather’s night, since Hee Seop Choi was due up to bat. Choi murders right handed pitching (10 HRs) but is virtually helpless against lefties (.182 AVG, 1 HR). With John Franco watering his tomato plants from the lifeguard chair in the bull pen, who has only pitched 2 innings in the last 5 days, there’s no excuse for not bringing in the lefty to face Choi. If Howe inserts Franco and McKeon pinch hits with Mordecai or Nunez, so be it. I’d rather be beat by one of them then to allow Choi to face the righty in that situation. Instead Howe sticks with Weathers who gives up a single to Choi, walks Jeff Conine, then gives up the go ahead RBI single to Alex Gonzalez.

The Art Howe incompetence was not over yet though folks. Dan Wheeler is in the game in the 9th. With two outs and Luis Castillo on third base, i.e. with first base wide open, Howe elects to allow the rookie to pitch to Lowell who promptly doubled in Castillo to provide what would become the game winning hit. Both Lowell and Cabrera, who was on deck, are scary hitters. But since your team is already down a run, am I the only one who thinks it's a no brainer to put Lowell on, create a force at 2nd base, and take your chances with Cabrera?

Once again, Howe got out-managed and the Mets’ record suffered as a result. What makes this managerial meltdown even worse is that Howe was quick to deflect any criticism that might have come his way and hung his bullpen out to dry after the game and even tried to reinforce his bone headed moves in the press:
The bullpen can't do it every day. They've been outstanding all season long. They just had one of those days. We had the right people out there. They just found some holes.
Actually, no, not so much Art. You did not have the right people out there and the only hole out at Shea today was the vast, dark, empty space between your ears. If the Mets are serious about making a run of it this year, Wilpon and Duquette need to step back and realize that before any trades or significant moves are made, a manager has to be put in place that does not consistently put the team in a position to lose close games. In other words, if this is a rebuilding year, sure, keep Howe. He's warm and fuzzy and I'm sure the kids like him. If, however, the Mets are going to get over the hump so that they are playing those coveted "meaningful games in September," Art Howe is not the man to get them there.

Piazza and Matsui Tidbits 

Since I could not watch last night's 5 to 1 loss to the Marlins due to the fact that MLB Extra Innings Sucks, I got my daily Mets quota by snooping around some player stats.

This may be stating the obvious, but Mike Piazza needs some protection in the line-up if the Mets are going to go anywhere. Piazza has 10 HRs but only 22 RBI. Of the 57 big league hitters with 8 or more HRs, Piazza has the least amount of RBI. The fact is, the only time Piazza is pitched to is when he can do the least amount of damage. Piazza has 8 of his 10 HRs with the bases empty while hitting at a .321/.382/.589 bases vacant line. Mike's able to put up these numbers because he's given some pitches to hit, as he only walks about once every 11 plate appearances when the bases are empty. Compare those numbers with Piazza's stats with runners on bases, and we see that Piazza's AVG and SLG dip to .280 and .527 respectively although his OBP jumps almost 40 points to .421 thanks to a walk rate that more than doubles to one free pass every 5 of his plate appearances when there are runners aboard. With a runner in scoring position it gets even worse, as Mike draws a walk every 3.86 times he steps up to the plate. Piazza's 8 intentional walks (and quite a few blatant unintentional intentional walks as well), which ties him for 3rd in MLB, highlight the problem of being backed up (way back) by too many players that are hovering at, too close to, or below replacement level. Come to think of it, the fact that Piazza has put up the numbers he has with the inhabitants of the Island of Misfit Baseball Players batting behind him is pretty amazing. Obviously trading for an impact bat is one solution. A quick fix, however, might be to take advantage of Jason Phillips' hot bat (5 HR, .278/.350/.569 in May) by insulating Piazza with Cliff Floyd hitting 5th and Phillips 3rd.

Is it time for Kazuo Matsui to quit the switch hitting charade? I know, I know, I gotta give this guy a break - first I trash his fielding and now this. Let me first start off by saying that, despite looking bad in the batter's box at times, if you would have told me before the season started that on June 5th Matsui would hitting .258/.340/.423 with 5 HRs and 7 SBs - numbers that place him 5th among NL shortstops in hits, 2nd in doubles, and 3rd in extra base hits - I'd take it. That said, he looks downright awful hitting from the left side and looks much more comfortable batting from the right side of the plate. The numbers bear this out: hitting lefty: .243/.313/.370; hitting righty: .325/.449/.650. I realize suggesting that Matsui give up switch hitting is a bit hasty, okay very hasty, but it's worth keeping an eye on.

Friday, June 04, 2004

MLB Extra Innings Sucks 

Like many transplanted New York Mets fans, and transplanted baseball fans in general, I forked over $169 to my local digital cable provider for the MLB Extra Innings package because, according to them, "Even if you live in one city and your team is in another, MLB EXTRA INNINGS let's you see the match-ups you want to watch." Well, there's a damn good match-up tonight, Saturday, and Sunday that I want to watch between the Mets and Marlins for first place in the NL East - - but I can't! This sucks. I guess I need to add Mets baseball to the list of NY related things I can't get while living out of town, like decent pizza, bagels and egg sandwiches.

At first I thought I was mired in one of the MLB package's various blackouts. Blackouts are "regional television restrictions distributed in order to protect the local television rights holder broadcasting the game." In other words, you don't get the game on the MLB package so that you are forced to watch the game on another channel. That makes sense and besides, what good would it be to have the same game on two channels. There are three types of blackouts. First, there are local blackouts, which effect you if you live within a Major League Baseball team's territory. The Yankees, for example, are blacked out all over the world because their annoying, bandwagon fans span the globe. Other teams are implicated when, for example, you live in and around New York City so you will not see Mets games on the MLB package but who cares, since you will see the games on MSG, FSNY or WPIX anyway. I'm not effected by this blackout since I live outside the Mets territory. The second type of blackout is the ESPN blackout. The world wide leader in sports purchased the rights to broadcast all mindless, annoying baseball commentary. Oh, sorry, wrong rant. ESPN purchased the rights to broadcast all Major League Baseball games on Sunday nights. This does not effect me for tonight's or this weekend's games either. The third type of blackout is the FOX blackout. Like ESPN on Sunday nights, FOX has the exclusive national rights to broadcast games up until 7:00 p.m. (ET) on Saturday. This does not effect tonight's or Sunday's games but the Saturday game falls within this window. So I can just watch the game on Fox's Saturday national broadcast, right? Wrong, because the powers that be assume I'm either a Philly or Braves fan (never!) and is force-feeding me that game.

Despite the three types of blackouts, only one, the Fox blackout, effects me and many others. So why can't we at least see the other two games? Apparently, while I can't find any mention of a reason or justification on the various websites, the MLB package does not carry local, over-the-air broadcasters like NY's WPIX, which is airing tonight's and Sunday's games. But why is this? Why do the local cable affiliates like FSNY and MSG find it advantageous to climb aboard MLB Extra Innings but the over-the-air stations do not? Us out of towners pose no threat to their local broadcasting rights just like we pose no threat to the cable affiliates' rights. To the contrary, allowing MLB Extra Innings to carry the over-the-air signal of their station, and more importantly their advertisers, would be expanding their market from only reaching a local audience to a national stage. Why can't the over-the-air stations simply allow their signal to be picked up by the MLB package and, like the cable operators, require a local blackout? Furthermore, it appears that both tonight's and Sunday's over-the-air Mets games are covered by the web-based MLB.tv, so why not MLB Extra Innings? To insure that I had access to all Mets games, was I not only supposed to buck up the $169 for MLB Extra Innings but also an extra $90 for MLB.tv? Jeez, I'm a die hard Mets fan but my six figure student loan has other plans for that money. I'm sure there's some illogical/greedy/money/legal/technical-driven reason behind this, but, just like this weekend's Mets games, I just don't see it.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

I'm still alive 

Just wanted to check in and inform all 5 of my loyal readers that I was not eaten by an alligator during my Miami mini vacation, where I was an eye witness to the Mets getting swept by the Marlins. I'm in the midst of a drastic change in my daily schedule from what it has been since I started this site and I'm trying to figure out how to find the time to squeeze in some blog entries here and there. Don't worry, my priorities are well established and I know that this blog comes before all else so I should be back in the saddle soon.
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