5.3.06

Spring Training In Full Bloom


"He's ready when he's ready. I don't want to kill a braincell thinking about it" - Rick Peterson on pondering Pedro's Opening Day status...not unless you're smoking bong hits whilst you think about it Rick, you won't kill braincells thinking about it. So think away, without fear. Think having the 40 year old Tom Glavine as your likely Opening Day starter. Let Pedro come back as slow as his delicate little toe needs him to.

Pedro's "Pitching Face" Is Enough to Scare Any Batter...

*****

Had a chance to listen to Friday's game at Tradition Field against the St Louis Cardinals. Yusaku Iriki, another Japanese reclamation project and standing only 5'9, going against NL Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter. Iriki is battling for a spot in the rotation and impressed against a watered down Cardinal lineup with two shutout innings, six consecutive outs after a leadoff hit, two strikeouts. Carpenter was in midseason form, pitching three shutout innings allowing two hits and striking out 4.

The other Japanese reclamation project did nothing to himself or those few of us still rooting for him to assert himself - Kaz Matsui, who desperately needs a fast start this season to avoid a devastating and fierce oppositional booing campaign at Shea, went 0 for 3 with a strikeout and is still 0 for Spring Training.
To boot, (ha, no pun intended,) he also allowed a ball to glance off his glove, allowing St Louis to score their first run in an eventualy loss. So far, Anderson Hernandez has looked better at short AND at second than Kaz has anywhere on the field. Doesn't bode well.

The WBC is taking its toll on the Met Spring Training roster which might well be a good thing to allow them to have a look at some of the borderline players who will be fighting for roster spots.

Five players are going to San Juan (of a 30 man roster!), 2 are going to the Dominican Republic and 3 are going to Venezuela. (Nota bene to those of you unfortunate to be rooting for Venezuela in this Classic: with Jorge Julio and Victor Zambrano on your pitching staff, unless they're just there to warm up the bullpen catchers, you haven't got much of a chance...)

Meanwhile, provided he doesn't burn himself out early, Carlos Delgado is looking in form now having gone 5 for 5 in his two Spring Training appearances to date.

*****

The Saturday game against the Nats promised some exciting moments with Aaron Heilman, a defacto starter in the rotation after the questionable offseason moves to deal Seo and Mrs Benson for not-so-certain bullpen help, starting against the Nats to be followed by Brian Bannister who might well be in the Mets rotation by the end of this season.

The Nats of course, will be our Opening Day opponents so it was a good chance to scout what should likely be a team battling the Marlins to stay out of the NL East basement.

Anderson Hernandez, playing short and leading off indicated that the Kaz Man is getting every opportunity to prove himself as the starting second baseman. Friday, Matsui batted leadoff ahead of David Wright in the second slot. Satruday, Hernandez leading off and Kaz Man batting, appropriately enough, at the bottom of the order.

You can't help but wonder, with the Nats needing an outfielder and knowing Alfonso Soriano is miserable and unhappy with the Nats, what extra player we might throw in with Victor Diaz to get Soriano to play second at Shea. This is my way of wondering aloud if X Nady has the right field starting spot sealed already and whether or not the Kaz Man is going to be worth the jersey he plays in by the end of the opening homestand.

In any event, Hernandez is making quite an impression early on. Whilst the Kaz Man wallows in an eddy of uncertainty, still hitless for the Spring, now 0 for 9 and counting. This has all the markings of a landslide no-brainer for Manager Willie who has watched Hernandez go 5 for 7 this Spring by comparison. Yesterday he singled and scored in the first,third and fifth innings. At this rate, he could be Jose Reyes' replacement as leadoff hitting shortstop, forget about this "battle" for second base.

The rightfield battle has not shifted at all. Playing left field again, Nady made an impressive sliding grab robbing Jose Vidro of a hit in the 3rd inning, perhaps underscoring Victor Diaz's rather trepid fielding. Nady also had the presence of mind to kick the ball out of Vidro's tagging glove to avoid a sure out trying to steal. Diaz, meanwhile, had two hits including an RBI double.



Heilman's pitching face is only moderately less repulsive than Pedro's but at least Aaron was out there trying to earn his spot Two scoreless innings later and Heilman's debut was boasted as a success. His fastball (first pitch of the game a 94 mpher) was well mixed with a devastating change up. Of the eight batters Heilman faced, he fired first-pitch strikes to all of them.

Following Heilman was another promising Met arm, Brian Bannister, he with the repertoire of the fastball, cutter and a 12-6 curveball (and rumoured to be working on a changeup), also pitched two scoreless innings (albeit, Nady's diving grab may have saved him).

*****
Rounding the Blogs

There will be Spring Game Chatter over at Mets Geek for the game against Puerto Rico. Actually, it appears there will be two games going on simultaneously as they Mets will also be playing the Dodgers...

Sharp photo of Jenny Finch at Metsradamus who appears to advocate her pitching for Team USA. Not a bad idea at all. Why not bikini baseball as well?



C'mon, pout for me, baby.

3 comments:

Metstradamus said...

Wow, can the girl in the bikini play second?

Now THAT's a world baseball classic!

smc99 said...

Play second? You should see how far she can get that bat in!

Jaap said...

As far as I'm concerned, the girl in bikini can do whatever she wants...