No birthing articles on Mets prospects to date...
Well, to use metaphors, the rite of Spring, I will not admit to not actually writing these columns much in the way that players will not admit they are actually hurt and their seasons are probably fecked. No, I will continue to string the fans along with a performance here and there willing my writing arm back to strength, nursing it through bottles of pino grigio and belgian witbeers as the planes fly overhead from Gatwick airport and tinge my outdoor evenings with memories of Shea Stadium and LaGuardia flight patterns.
But this is to be about the Mets, not the Army in it's preseason embryonic form.
And so we can start off with a few observations to date about the Spring:
1. Maybe Lastings Milledge Isn't the Anti-Christ after all: Of course, I'm not there to view it first hand, just as I wasn't there first hand to view the bad attitude (although the poor plate performance was visible and not a fancy of imagination,) but the early reports would seem to indicate that he has shed about 15 pounds of pariah during the offseason and has come back to the Mets following a winter of trade innuendo and disappointment, with a new and improved attitude.
It is rumoured that he's more open and engaging. That he isn't skulking around the clubhouse putting the Prima in Dona and doing like what, a Gary Sheffield impersonation? That is comforting news. If Lastings can prove the sceptics wrong, those sceptics who watered down his trade value to virtually nil this offseason it's another potent bat, another young kid, another bright future to look forward to.
As of this post he is hitting .345 in the Spring albeit with 7 Ks in 11 games. The only available spot for him is pushing Shawn Green aside in Right Field and Shawn Green who is on the other hand, struggling mightily with a .143 batting average, might not turn out to be very much to push aside in the end. Shawn Green an overpriced bat coming off the bench with no tangible fielding skills anyone? Well, let's not get Lastings-Style cocky just yet. The Spring is young.
2. Speaking of Bad Attitudes and Alarm Clocks - My, my. The controversy of the Spring has been Not Being Duaner Sanchez's Alarm Clock. Glad I'm coming into this late. You don't really have to observe too much about fat guy coming off a lazy winter and then not jumping into camp ready to tear up the rehab centre with enthusiasm, getting evicted from camp instead. Duaner, me lad, what were yea thinking?
The most noticeable thing about this entire episode was how unified the Mets were as a team in condemning the apathy. It's a sign of something, I believe. The first sign I've seen this Spring that the Mets are going to be special again. Group Therapy. Did you read how many teammates came out against the laziness, the tardiness and came out for the team? To a man they were indignant like, how could you do this to us Duaner, we're bloody well counting on you to set up the Hillbilly and there you are flushing your season down the terlet. And a few high marks to Manager Willie for nipping this problem straight in the bud, no nonsense, no fluttering. Spot on.
Well, happy endings, provided he doesn't reinjure himself with his new-found enthusiasm and team-centred attitude. Duaner Sanchez has rehabbed his attitude. I'm Berry, Berry Sorry.
we're so sorry, uncle albert,
But we haven't done a bloody thing all day.
We're so sorry, uncle albert,
But the kettle's on the boil
And we're so eas'ly called away
Chan Ho in Scarier Days
3. Chan Ho No!: Look, I've got to admit, I too harboured delusional sequences of Chan Ho Park providing us with the starting arm that puts the rotation over the top. I too hoped that last season's 7-7 record and the potbelly 4.81 ERA was a miserable hangover that evolved out of the original sin of letting Scott Boras sign him for billions in a crappy ball park in Texas.
But it was a bad omen when his visa didn't go through. It was like someone in the State Department, a Mets mole in the State Department was whispering sweet nothings - psst - don't sign this guy, don't let him come to camp. He's a cancer
No one has anything bad to say about his personality but thus far, Park's pitching sucks. Two starts and two very unflattering outings. Yes, biting sinker. Yes, strong against lefties, according to LoDuca anyway. But that's the catcher's job some days, to rub lotion into the pitcher's tits and try not to let his confidence wobble.
Will Chan Ho stun and amaze us some day down the long dustr road of the season? It's still a possibility but with John Maine giving batters a bollocking so far, Glavine already established, and well...what, El Duque's impressive 22.50 ERA shadowing him like a Saturday afternoon monster movie and Aaron Sele not exactly shocking people with his ineptitude and Mike Pelfrey maybe being ready maybe not, well, the rotation looks as wide open as ever and no matter what Park does, he might have a long season to try and redeem himself regardless. Here's hoping that sinker gets nastier and he holds a few more suprises that don't comprise of making analogies of his pitching and defecating.
4. It's almost officially time to get excited about The Future. Well, I suppose you could waste time getting excited about the future but what the hell, the present seems so curious and inviting. I'd rather think about my preseason pick for quasi surprise arm of the year, Ambiorix Burgos, the man with the golden fastball and little control. Thus far his promise is worse than his bite. 0-1, 4.91 ERA in 5 Spring appearances. Yeah, 8 Ks in less than 8 innings pitched but also 8 hits allowed. Who knows? The truth of the matter is he just might be supplanted by a guy who wasn't even on the 40 man roster, Joe Smith. 5.1 scoreless innings this spring. He might be the new surprise guy, let's keep an eye out and hope someone out of this miserable lot, or perhaps two or three arms, surprise us in April. Pleasantly. Feliciano has also pitched a scoreless Spring thus far, as have Maine, Pelfrey, Schoeneweiss and who? Senor Collazo, that's who. The man with no statistical profile on his own team's website.
5. Adios, Muchacho: Alay Soler, we hardly knew yea. Well, the truth is, I remember waaaay back when the Mets first signed this guy because I remember the painstaking research back in October 2004, of Cuban sportspages online to find out who this guy was:
Why, this must be the Cuban Roger Clemens, isn't it? Exhaustive searching found these 2002 Cuban League Stats which show Soler appeared in 18 games for Pinar del Rio, started 6, went 7-0 with a 3.72 ERA, walked 18 and struck out 47 in 55 2/3 innings. In case you were wondering where the interest was for him in the pitching-famished world that is MLB, the rumour is that the big fish were scared off by what a crap pitcher Jose Contreras has proven to be after all the hype, after a bidding war which resulted in the Yankees being dubbed The Evil Empire and no one wants to take a chance to repeat the mistake.
Well, kiddies, it does appear by examining these stats that Soler's teammate on Pinar del Rio was none other than, you guessed it, Jose Contreras, who defected right after that season in which he went 13-4 with a 1.76 ERA. In case you'd forgotten that story of lost potential and perhaps before Mets fans start hyperventilating into paper bags at the thought of Kazmir and Soler in the same rotation, here is what was said about Contreras when he made for greener pastures:
"A 6-foot-4, 224-pound righthander with a 93 mph fastball and a darting forkball, Contreras is best known in the U.S. for the eight shutout innings he pitched against the Orioles during a nationally televised exhibition game in Havana three years ago. In that game, Contreras allowed just two hits and struck out 10, including Albert Belle twice."
As for Mets news, well, Pedro is back lobbing balls it appears but July seems no nearer. Probably the most interesting item was fuel being added to a fire - the man spurned by the Mets because he cost too much, Barry Zito appears to have made some statements which one might twist into meaning he found the Mets brass arrogant.
Right. Arrogant as in, no we won't pay absurdist sums of money to a pitcher just waiting to flare out with injury simply because a desperate team like the no-go Giants are willing to add another mistake to the resigning Barry Bonds mistake?
Blah. I'm glad Zito was "turned off" by the effort the Mets organisation made for him. It shows two things: one, the Mets organisation is not as stupid as it once was or as desperate and two, Barry Zito is a classless little muppet. Barry Zito wanted his hands held, hits chest hairs curled and caressed. He's accustomed to having his arsed kissed. Did the Mets management, did Brother Omar not pucker up in the right position?
Barry Zito? Pissant. You never read on this blog hey Mets, go sign this twat at any cost! I was always skeptical about this man. Oh yes, I could provide you with reams of documentation. But the gist is, you got your bloody man jerk off - what's with having to knock the Mets organisation? Bitter because you ended up in a second rate city with a second rate team just because you got greedy? Guess we won't be seeing you in the postseason. Twist your panties in a bunch whilst the Giants fumble through a lost cause season whose main headline all year will be about Barry Bonds and Steroids. Nice environment. At least there is no ego there.