28.5.09

Hello, First Place: Mets Sweep Nats

Ok, it's not earth-shattering news, neither sweeping the lowly Nats nor dropping the Phillies to second place but it's progress. Slow, arduous progress.


A homer, a free bevvie and sarnie advert or just an oasis from the Charley Chaplin impression at first base?

Another excruciating video replay whose reversal gave The Magical Murph a 2 run homer off the Pissup Porch* in the 6th instead of a double and Sheff getting thrown out at the plate. That's quite a reversal in fact and the Mets are now five for five in replay decisions. That's better than Murph's fielding chances at first last night.

(* No, I won't make you scroll all the way down the bloody page to see what I'm on about - just because the marketing muppets want to advertise a shitty carbonated sugary water bevvie doesn't mean I'm going to - every time someone hits a homer off the overhang I've got to give them a free advert? I don't think so. So on this blog anyway, there will be no referrals to it's proper name. It will be called Piss Up Porch instead cause the Army doesn't bow to corporate whoredom - not unless there's something it in for the Army, of course...)



Murph was a bit troubling at first base last night. In the first inning he failed to scoop up (first hint from the broadcast booth; you've got to open your glove when trying to scoop the ball, d'oh, it ent bloody lacrosse!) a ball thrown by Ramon Martinez after a spectacular diving play that would have been a big first inning lift. He didn't get busted for the error, I dunno why because if he'd have scooped that with an open glove, the runner would have been out.

He also made an error in the 9th that prolonged the game and Frankie Boy's work load for the night, a big no-no considering Frankie Boy is out there to get the game done and dusted without creating prolonged work for his work-of-art arm.

Fortunately for Murph he also had 5 RBIs, a career high (in case you hadn't already heard) so his defensive liability was somewhat alleviated by his offensive asset. For now anyway but the Mets are quickly running out of places on the field to hide him. Let's hope for his sake this isn't the beginnings of a first base YIPS problem like his left field Yips problem otherwise the Mets are going to have to seriously consider trading him to an AL team where he could be a DH. Yips, such a great explanation. I think that should be the name of the Mets jug band that should be sat in those empty seats behind home plate, The Yips. Damn! Looks like someone already has it, might have to see who they root for and how good they are at writing theme songs not sung by Rick Astley.


FMart plunges into the oblivion of Ferdy No Hustle...

FMart, the new boy blunder, showed he's been studying Reyes all the way from Buffalo. How do you not run out a bloody pop up in front of the plate in only your second game? Sure, he apologised but big deal, this isn't about skill it's about attitude. With Beltran due to come back on Friday I reckon FMart should go back to Buffalo to relearn attitude. Good gawd, the Lastings Milledge posters are coming out already. Warning: This Kid Doesn't Run Out Pop Ups. Good christ, if you aren't going to hustle every second you're up for a cup of coffee for a few weeks to make an impression, when ARE you going to hustle? And have the nerve to go 0 for 4? He should definitely go back down to Buffalo. Today. Just to make sure he gets the point. I don't want to hear Jerry apologising for him talking about how unrepresentative it is of Fmart's character. He did it once, he'll do it again. Nip it in the bud now. In fact crush that little blossom of insolence and arrogance right now with a giant boot. A giant Buffalo-sized boot. Here's your buffalo wings, Fernando, now fuck off and go learn how to hustle on EVERY play, not just the ones you feel like hustling on.

Now, here's some food for thought:

Is it time to worry about Johan yet?


Are the days of utter domination waning already?

Last three outings these are his mere mortal numbers: 20 innings pitched, 21 hits, 9 earned runs, and 7 walks. That's an ERA slightly over 4.00.

Perhaps it's not time to worry. Maybe someone should just send a little friendly reminder to plate Chumpire Sam Holbrook about what the strike zone is supposed to look like by framing his head with one.

Last night they were on about how in Delgado's absence, new leadership has had to emerge in the clubhouse. Here you go boys, here's how you strike out four times in a game. Anyone else want to try? Bah, I'm going to cut the Boy Wright a little slack, he's not choking as much yet. Probably resting his throat for September.

I still wonder whether the Nats would go for a straight up trade, Wright for Zimmerman. When was the last time baseball had a good one for one trade like that? Now that Ramon Martinez's batting average is all the way up to .121 and Angel Pagan is the new lead off hitter, can we start contemplating about the massive compensation package we could score trading Reyes after the All Star break?

Team RISP: 3 for 16.

That you can win a game with those kind of numbers means either you paid off the umpires or the other team simply sucks so bad you can't lose to them no matter how hard you try.

But let's have a little golf clap for these second string Mets. They got the job done, however. The sweep of the Nats is nothing to sneeze at. The first string mates often fail to do that.

And finally, a glorious off day or in the Army's case, a travel weekend thus, the last you'll likely hear from me for a few days.


How about that porch?!

27.5.09

Busy Day and Complete Game Victory

What a day.

It was as though the Mets front office suddenly woke up from a slumber and realised the season has begun.

Good moves, putting Reyes and Church on the DL.

Although Ramon Martinez just might begin to show more convincing form(RBI double, nice play in the field, batting average all the way up to .100) eventually, just in case, they acquired Wilson Valdez from the Indians for cash. You know when you can buy a player for cash he's not that good and Valdez can't hit his way through a wet paper bag but he's got a decent glove and it's a brilliant way to add to Omar's sky-high pile of mediocre player signings.

But perhaps the biggest of the roster news of the day was Fernando Martinez getting called up and immediately inserted into right field and 6 slot in the batting order. Nothing not to like about this, getting sight of the brightest and certainly most publicised prospect in the farm system.

Not as poetic as a grand slam of course, but grounding into a force out with the bases loaded in the 3rd at least netted FMart his first RBI. He was rather quiet at the plate, striking out on a foul tip in his first at-bat before getting hit by a pitch in the 5th.

All you need to know...

As for the game itself, Livan Hernandez pitched the full nine innings, giving the bullpen its first rest of the season; about all the news you need to know about the game other than Sheffield hitting another three-run homer for the second night in a row. Gary Sheffield...Nats killah.

Irony? How about Church and Schneider being on the Mets DL whilst Lasting Milledge gets a screw inserted into his broken finger?

Overall, a hopeful day and evening for the Mets. A little fresh blood on the roster, a complete game by the number five starter, an easy victory over a team they should get an easy victory over. No one made any stupid errors, nobody got hurt and everyone touched the bags. What more can you ask for really? A season of Nats on the schedule?

26.5.09

First Order Of Business: Beat Nats

First of all, I have to get this off of my chest:

I don't care whatever hair-brained scheme The Baseball Czar has thought up to justify it - making the Mets wear red caps instead of their normal ones is daft. Isn't there a more dignified way of honouring the war dead than a hideous Nats-red baseball cap?


Hey kid, get on the DL where you belong...

The whole thing gave the game a sort of charity game feel to it, like the result wouldn't count in the standings or something, not to be taken seriously which, given that their opponents were the Nats was probably what it felt like anyway. Pink bats and pink arm bands is one thing but red caps, woa. I draw the line there.

And the Mets win the game on another instant replay wherein the umps took like half the night to make a simple decision.

Yeah, it's all good that in the end, like the two days previous, the decision was in the Mets favour. But red caps and instant replays and suddenly I feel like the game's been hijacked by cyber monkeys hell-bent on ruining the game's integrity.

Still, Sheffield's three-run homer counted at the end of the day. You couldn't tell one way or the other if it should have been a homer. Two out of the three replays the Mets were involved in, that was the case - you simply couldn't tell but you could easily waste 5-10 minutes trying to make sure you couldn't tell.

Why stop there? Why not make every player run around the bases twice before it counts? Why not stop the game in between every pitch to forensically review the location where it crossed the plate lest they get a ball or strike call wrong. (And believe me, you could catch about 50% of these balls and strikes calls by the umps as wrong.) Think that doesn't effect a pitcher? Doesn't effect a game?


Doesn't Maine look like he's harbouring some painful secret about himself?

Ok, it was only the Nats, but John Maine managed to pinch out another victory and allow only one run over six innings of work. That makes him 3-1 with a 3.30 ERA for May.

Inexplicably, Bobby Parnell followed up his 100 mph on the radar gun show by walking three batters in the 7th, giving up a run and forcing Pedro Feliciano and Double J to clean up his mess for him and save the Mets from suffering from a humiliating game-tying rally by the Nats.

It was a forgettable game for most which is likely the case when Angel Pagan is your lead off hitter and Ramon Martinez mocks the starting batting order with his .088 batting average.

It's time for the Mets to make decisions. I know the front office, led by Omar, like to sugar coat everything and put everything in its most optimistic light but that sort of optimism is stupid and costly. They need to get Church AND Reyes on the DL and release Martinez. Then call up a shortstop/second baseman to fill Martinez and Reyes slots on the team and call up F-Mart and give him the chance to fill the outfield rotation. I'm sorry Angel Pagan is an accident waiting to happen out there - did you see how he charged through into Beltran's territory to take that fly ball last night?


Should Beltran and his dodgy knee by out there sliding?

The Mets need to be ruthless during this run of fluff they'll be facing while they recover from that road trip. They need to use this to propel them to a good streak of wins, maintain or hopefully improve their position in the NL East and by the time Reyes and Church are back, they'll be returning to a first place team.

Courtsey of Flushing University, My latest piece...

25.5.09

No Sweep But No Disasters

Yeah, it's disappointing the Mets didn't sweep the Red Sox but after the debacle of LA, if you'd have been told the Mets could take two out of three in Fenway you'd have been more than happy enough to take it.

Was it his amazing speed on the basepaths that made Jerry choose The Magical Murph as his lead off hitter?

And Angel Pagan hitting behind him?

A distinct B-Mets look to their lineup.

And yet they set the table for Beltran in the first, who thanked them by grounding into a double play. That kind of day for the Mets.

Hail delay and a loss.

Why does it take longer for these chimp umpires to even DECIDE whether or not they're going to look at the instant replay?

Inviting Shawn Green into the game is like inviting a carload of destructive punk hooligans into your home and inviting them to vandalise and destroy as much as they'd like.

Come to think of it, the rest of the bullpen didn't do any better either.



I reckon if Big Papi weren't suffering through his steroid hangover (0 for 12 with 7 strikeouts in the series), would the Mets have even taken one of these games?

But he was and the Mets did take two out of three to leave them 5 out of 10 on the biggest road trip of the season. Survived, but only just.

"I'm glad we got out of here alive," Jerry joked now that the open wound of that series against the Dodgers was no longer bleeding freely.

On a sad note, the football team that I support here in England, Newcastle United, lost their battle to avoid relegation yesterday.

In essence, it's like the Mets being demoted to Triple A.

Even by their eccentric standards, Newcastle's season has been chaotic both on and off the field.
Kevin Keegan, who returned last season as a Messiah after the sacking of Sam Allardyce, left in September after falling out with owner Mike Ashley -- a split that provoked bitter hostility towards Ashley from the fans.
The abuse meant Ashley stayed away from St James' Park in the aftermath of Keegan's exit and he put the club up for sale with little success.
His popularity was not helped by the surprise choice of Joe Kinnear to steady the ship but he was beset by health problems, leaving assistant Chris Hughton at the helm before Shearer took over with relegation looming.
Add to that a squad desperately lacking balance and quality and littered with players whose careers appear in terminal decline and relegation always looked on the cards.

So take heart, it could be worse. You could be a Newcastle United supporter as well.

24.5.09

Mets Win Replay For Another Shocking Victory In Fenway

Omir Santos pounded a shocking two-run blast with two out in the 9th inning and the Mets down by a run over the red line near the top of the Green Monster after the usually-perfect Papelbon had blown away Wright and Reed with heat.


Simply Stunning

A two-run, Fenway-silencing homerun off a 97 mph fastball that took the idiot ump a good five minutes to confirm was in fact a homer, plenty of time to wonder how what in the hell J J Putz was doing warming up in the bullpen instead of Frankie Boy to save what was in essence a mouth-dropping shocking game ? Well sadly, Frankie Boy had back spasms so severe he had to be stretchered to the hospital and was unable to pitch but still - Putz?

Why not Parnell, who has been nothing short of fantastic? Why a guy who's coming off a stick neck, a series of shite outings?

And although Wright made a nice play in the bottom of the 9th off what looked like might be a game-tying double, he nearly threw the ball away into the outfield instead of second base and it was only a superb save by Castillo that prevented it.

And what the hell do you know - whipping boy Ramon Martinez came up with a superb back-handed grab and throw to first to end the game. As quickly as their winning streak fell to shite and the Mets' Little League fielding appeared to spell their doom, one of the main fielding goats in essence, saves the game for Putz and before what has happened can even register, the Mets have their second game in a row off the Red Sox in Fenway. Unbelievable.

Before the 9th, this game appeared to have been decided in the 1st inning.

Other than that difficult first inning when he gave up the only two runs he would surrender all night and needed 34 valuable pitches to escape, Big Pelf pitched a superb game through seven innings.

But in the first, Josh Beckett was just slightly better and that made the difference as both pitchers settled down thereafter to throw goose eggs over the next 6 innings.

So it came down to the Red Sox closer and Omir Santos in the top of the 9th.

Minutes after seeing it, I'm still stunned as you can imagine the Mets are as well, disbelieving of their good fortune over the last two nights.

Jerry made a few questionable moves he's sure to justify in the post-victory locker room but had the Mets lost this game (can you imagine, Putz blowing it in the bottom of the 9th?! Of course you can, it nearly happened...)

One nice thing out of Delgado's hip surgery is that the Mets may have solved The Magical Murph's left field yips AND found Delgado's heir who looks like he shape up to be a slightly shorter verson of John Olerud. Given Murph's absence of power however in the future, the Mets are going to need another dangerous bat in one of the corner outfield positions to compensate for Delgado's loss.

But that's another day's worries.



For one day anyway, the Mets are a team to be proud of.

23.5.09

Mets Beat Red Sox Despite Themselves

Ah, but for a team of 8 more Johan Santanas the Mets would be the best team in baseball.


Missing only Superman's cape...

Arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Santana's starts with the Mets this season have always clouded by the mediocrity of his teammates. Few, if any runs scored in support, terrible, Little League-style fielding and the stigma of pitching for a team that simply never seems to match the calibre and quality of Johan Santana.

One cheap hit and an error starts off your game in Fenway? No problem, just strike out David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis (which apparently in Greek means Big Douchebag) sending them back to the dugout shaking their heads.

Handicapped by the erratic fielding of Ramon "Fielding Chimp" Martinez inning after inning alone? No problem. He did cost Johan a pair of runs but the second error might have cost the Mets the game had a mere mortal been on the mound.

Youkilis staring you down in the 5th after getting hit in the elbow? No problem. On your bike, Youkilis - you tell him to shut his gob and get on with it to first base.

Johan Santana is the epitome of everything his teammates are not.

For one night anyway, Johan Santana was enough.

Unfortunately, he won't be pitching the rest of the series.

******

I was thinking before the game how strange it is that I had no idea who'd be starting at shortstop, first base, left field, right field and who would be catching. (as it turns out, got centerfield wrong as well...) How many contending teams can you think of whose starting lineup is such a complete mystery day to day? Sure, there's a few injuries but the fact that no one knows who is playing where from one night to the next could be called flexibility or uh....disarray?

They say with Big Pelf the "ground ball specialist" on the mound they can't risk using Fernando Tatis at short because he's only played the position a few times in his career but like most of Jerry's conclusions, this one doesn't wash. Sticking Martinez back out there to play the clown again appears to be a decision based on comedic value rather than the desire to win another game against the Sox.

Arguably you could put a scare crow out there in the shortstop dirt and still be at an advantage over having Martinez out there. And the scare crow would probably hit better too.

It's nothing short of miraculous that the Mets were able to win this game, the kind of game the Mets usually lose but don't count on a repeat with Beckett taking the mound tonight.

21.5.09

Offensive Donkey Cart Stalls, Mets Lose 4th In A Row

Whilst it's been easy for the last several days to be made physically ill by watching the Mets (whose broadcasts perhaps should come with their own Surgeon General's Warning label) and whilst the loss seemed almost inevitable, the loss tonight wasn't quite as sickening as the first two. So if you're one of those people who want to look for sprouts of hope in an otherwise horrifically miserable three game series in LA, here it is:

The Magical Murph's debut was a success. He had several fielding gems and never once had that deer-in-the-headlights look so familiar in his eyes when playing in left field. Of course his confidence at the plate has now gone spiralling downwards as a result of his nightly humiliations but he's a good hitter and if he can settle in at first base, his hitting will come around. Not power hitting, mind. No replacement for Delgado at the plate but matching Delgado's often lethargic fielding at first should certainly be no stretch.

Livan Hernandez's outing was encouraging and he's now 2-0 with a 3.33 ERA in May, eating those innings, as his portly figure would suggest.


And that's it for the good news.

Now, the stuff to worry about is enough to drown in, even considering the futile efforts at optimism.

Most importantly is absence of hitting.



With Jose Reyes limping out of the game, verifying that the injury is for real, not a secret benching or a secret pout, the top of the order is now shot. In fact, the only hitters remaining in the Mets lineup who can be counted on are Beltran and Wright.

Let's face it having Castro, Pagan and the pitcher closing out your order and with Tatis, Church, Sheffield and Murph all struggling, opposing teams will likely walk Beltran and Wright every time they're up and watch the rest of the Mets team pop up or ground into double plays or strike out to end innings, one after another.

Worse still, there is nothing on the horizon to allow yourself the fantasy that relief is on the corner.

There is no quick fix.

So yes, bemoaning the lack of foresight in putting together a roster of minor league migrants and free agent hopefuls is valid but other than Orlando Hudson who would you really have wanted Omar to sign? Another ageing outfield in Raul Ibanez? Sure, he's hot now but he'll be 37 with a fat contract in a week or so and the Mets have enough of that already. Manny? Pshaw.

Should the Mets have signed Adam Dunn instead of Delgado, knowing Delgado's diminishing body? Maybe, but let's not forget Dunn strikes out more than he hits. (True: 43 Ks, 39 hits this season).

If Alex Cora hadn't gotten hurt, Martinez wouldn't be seeing the light of day and there'd be at least one more reasonable bat and leadership in the lineup.

Can Jonathan Malo or Argenis Reyes possibly play short and hit worse than Martinez? And good god, why didn't Jerry pinch hit for him even if there wasn't a shortstop to replace him?! Why not toss Sheffield out there as a 40 year old return to short for an inning or two? Even at half strength with food poisoning, Sheffield has more promise than Martinez. Hell, even Rey Ordonez would be a welcomed sight over Martinez!

Is all the bellowing for Nick Johnson valid given his injury-prone career?

For a change, I'm going to get off the Hate Wagon.

Yes, the fielding stupidities and the mental fuck ups on the base paths are inexcusable.

But it's nobody's fault that Reyes, Cora and Delgado got hurt. In seriousness, even though they've got flaws, out of Murphy, Church, Sheffield and Tatis, one of these guys is going to going to get hot again - they're all decent hitters, so rather than panicking, perhaps it's best to ride this shite storm out, recognise the season is still in its infancy and hope for the best. There aren't any reasonable remedies to fix this at the moment.

And to be fair, this has to be the most unimpressive sweep registered by a team in a while. The Mets gave the first game away, the Dodgers didn't really win it. And again in the second game their mental and physical errors, whilst not the sole source of the loss, certainly contributed to that loss and tonight it was the matter of one hit with runners in scoring position. Sure, the Mets suck with runners in scoring position but believe it or not, in this series, the Dodgers were even worse.

So even though they've lost four in a row and might well see that expanded to five or six in a row before they leave Boston this weekend, for a change, I'm not going to throw up my hands and go running down the road screaming.

Not until JJ Putz gets another chance to lose another game, anyway. Do you really want your set-up guy, even if there are no leads to hold, letting runners get on base against him at a .320 clip?

Lastly, as much as Scott Schoeneweis disappointed as a Met, the sudden, shocking death of his missus is a sad occasion.

20.5.09

Bye Bye First Place. Next Stop, Loserville

The Mets let us know straight away last night they had no intention of employing intelligent base running or competent fielding as a means of winning baseball games.

Actually, it was The Magical Murph who let us know that right away in the first inning, sparing us any suspense.


What? Pay attention on the bases? Nah, it's too much to concentrate on at once, I'm too busy imagining what creative new way I can drop another fly ball in left field...

He managed not only to get picked off first base with David Wright at the plate, (and go'wan it's not "caught stealing" so much as caught napping, playing typical Mets baseball,) but supplemented one buffoonery for another, dropping another fly ball, this time in the bottom of the first to help the Dodgers to an early lead.

I have to admit, yesterday I felt kind of bad for the way Jerry's been jerking him around lately and busting his confidence down further but really, it's pretty much impossible to excuse this. He's a professional athlete, presumably coordinated. Sure, left field isn't his natural position but all we're talking about is catching a fecking fly ball here kids. Certainly this doesn't require a thousand years of practice does it?

More and more whenever I see Murph out there I'm starting to think he's doing some sort of Todd Hundley impersonation out there in left field these days. Every fly ball is a terror. Yeah it was funny a few weeks ago when you tripped and fell on your arse Murph but we're two months into the season now. Are you a professional athlete or a rodeo clown?

And next off, will someone please get Ramon Martinez on the next bus to Buffalo? Not happy with a pair of errors in his d├ębut on Monday night, he struck out three times and left four men on base last night. What's left to excuse his presence on a Major League Baseball team, even if it is only the Mets? "Geez, Jerry, he might not be able to field and he sure can't hit but he's a fucking champion with that remote control on the clubhouse giant screen tv. We gotta keep him Jer, we just gotta!"

As bad as Monday night was, as pathetic and humiliating as their performance was, national laughingstocks, they could have immediately eased some of the pressure by I dunno, getting out of the first bloody inning without looking like fools?

Nope.

Instead, this was a regurgitation of the Mets modus operandi of earlier this season - take a lead, let the starting pitcher tire and let the other team tie or take the lead then succumb meekly to the inevitable loss. That's how you end up wasting Frankie Boy pitching a meaningless outing to hold the lead to a mere two runs.


Nice half an outing John.

What difference did it make? Was there really any hope, once that three run homer off Maine was deposited that the Mets were going to stage some miraculous rally to save the game? Not really. That little spurt of a week or two is over and the Mets are back to bowing their heads in shame, apologising for their existence, the butt of jokes around the Major Leagues.

We can say with relief that at least we won't have a September lead to blow this season.

Only a few days ago we repeated the observation that the only team that can really beat the Mets are themselves. And by christ, they are certainly good at that.

******

late Update: It looks like The Magical Murph is getting one last chance, this time, to play 1B tonight. If he doesn't shine at 1B that could be the conclusion of his Mets career. If he does, whoopdeedoo, the Mets problems will be over. (ha!)

I have to admit to feeling a little calmer after listening to Jerry talk his way out of danger with Fat Mike F. on WFAN this evening.

19.5.09

Bad News Mets; Baseball Infants

G'won then. Bring me a bucket, I've got to puke.

Even by the Mets' low standards, this game was absolute S-H-I-T-E.



For most of you lucky folks, you can go to bed now, have your nightmares and wake up to a new day.

For me, it's nearly 7 in the morning and this is how my day starts; the inexcusably stupid failure by Ryan Church to touch third on his way to scoring the go ahead run in the 11th which not only removed that go ahead run but ended the inning in mid-rally snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

And it only got worse - Angel Pagan in the Bermuda Triangle (which is my new name for the Mets left field position: batting sixth and playing the Bermuda Triangle, Mr Another Incompetent Fielder...), ignored Carlos Beltran's calls for the ball, failed to move out of the way and caused the ball to glance off Beltran's glove for what was frighteningly close to the game-losing play.

But no, that wasn't the game losing play at all, the Mets had more fun in store for us.

With the bases chucked and one out, the admirable Brian Stokes miraculously induced Orlando Hudson into what should have been an inning-ending/rally-killing double play hopper to new first baseman Jeremy Reed....hang on, First Baseman Jeremy Reed??! The guy Omar signed to spell Beltran in center field from time to time during the season playing first base in the 11th inning of a tie game?

Right. And Reed, as we all know, instead of throwing to the catcher, threw the ball into the stands somewhere near the visitor's dugout and that was it. Game over. Another loss. Another humiliation. Another embarrassment. Even Vin Scully was laughing at these idiots, comparing them to the '62 Mets.

The shine of that brief outburst in San Francisco, the glory of being in sole possession of first place in the NL East, the abject delusions of league domination, are all gone. We can put any crazy ideas about going anywhere in 2009 to rest. Officially.

To be fair, I did think the game was already over once Sean Green entered in the bottom of the 9th and the score tied. I was imagining the punchlines whilst he was warming up. And yet, the Mets managed to last two more innings before finally succumbing to their ultimate destiny - losing.

In fact, I don't feel too compelled to bother even talking about Tim Redding's admirable Met debut.

I mean what difference does it make?

What difference does anything these Mets do make when their mental incompetence, their physical inability to field their positions and their stodgy infatuation with finding new and original ways to lose is always going to be standing there in the way like a big, fat bouncer at the door of a nightclub who won't let you in.

As a small consolation prize, my latest weekly piece at Flushing University.

18.5.09

Giddy Streak Grinds To A Halt

An emotional Giants team, pumped up to try and avoid a first-ever four game sweep at home to the Mets held the Mets to their first shut out of the season just to make sure.

On the bright side, the Mets won three of four on the first leg of their West Coast trip and showed signs of being an offensive juggernaut.


Pelf balked his way to defeat

On the not-so-bright side, the winning streak came to a halt, Big Pelf made a fool of himself with a bizarre psychological National television audience meltdown, balking three times, once nearly tripping over and falling down and being removed for a pinch hitter finally, mercifully, after only 78 pitches in the 7th inning.

You could say that Matt Cain, one of the better pitchers on the Giants staff and now 4-1 with a 2.65 ERA, was simply a superior pitcher waiting to cool the Mets off.


The haunted look in David Wright's eyes returned...

But that wouldn't fully explain why the Mets hit into double plays twice with the bases loaded, first time in the 2nd inning when Cain walked three batters in the inning to load them with none out.

In essence, that was the Mets big chance to break the game open early and finish their sweep of the Giants but instead, Jeremy Reed grounded into a double play and Big Pelf grounded out to end the inning.

Nor does it explain why the Giants bullpen, humiliated for the last three days, were suddenly capable of throwing three shut out inning and preserving the slim two run margin.

Nor does it fully explain why the only recently healthy Angel Pagan pinch hit for The Magical Murph with the bases loaded in the 8th. "I don't think Murphy is swinging quite as well right now," Jerry tried to explain. No shit Jerry, he's made an idiot of himself in the outfield and no looks to have been benched for a 40 year old only to get sporadic starts. Of course he isn't swinging well, he isn't playing enough and his confidence is getting punctured at every turn. Pinch hitting for him in a key situation isn't going to help him either.

The temptation to raise one's hands up to the heavens and moan about a lack of clutch hitting is somewhat tempered by the previous three games when the Mets were exploding runs out of every orifice.

A four game sweep of the Giants in San Francisco is a tall order and even though Pelf made a fool of himself on national television he still pitched decently enough to win most games. Just not yesterday. Yesterday was not the Mets' day.

Not only did they lose but Alex Cora, the successor to Jose Reyes, still suffering from the mysterious "calf" ailment, jammed his thumb sliding into second base leaving Jerry Manual to move Fernando Tatis to shortstop for the first time since 1998 and Jeremy Reed to first base.

After stealing stealing stealing for three games, the Go Go Mets were held without a steal and their lone attempt, by David Wright in the 7th, ended up in an out.

So really just a rubbish game all around.

Delgado looks like he might have to be put down like a horse with that dodgy hip, Reyes' benching calf injury lingers on mysteriously (the Army theory is that once the point had been proved by Jerry, Reyes played a little game of his own called Sulk and screw the Manager by saying that if his calf was allegedly injured it was still injured, even after Jerry said it was ok to end his benching/injury). Reyes will probably suck the rest of the season now. Remember how much he sucked after getting benched by Willie? Pouting and sulking are two of Reyes' strengths. That and showing the baseball acumen of an 8 year old.

Now Cora, who batted lead off yesterday instead of Castillo (why? why ruin a good thing? if it ain't broke don't fix it) isn't available, The Magical Murph's confidence is shattered after a prolonged absence, Sheffield looked his age yesterday at the plate and about the only good thing you could say was despite these defensive musical chairs the Mets managed to get through a game without making any stupid errors - any errors at all in fact which is, for these fielding buffoons, nothing short of a miracle.

So now, after the inevitable blip following a near-sweep, the Mets move down to LA and give Nats reject Tim Redding his first start of the season. Redding of course, was the "insurance" in case Omar failed to sign either Ollie Perez or Randy Wolf during the offseason.

We all know Ollie has a "knee injury", is psychologically unstable and pitches as if he were just learning case declinations in Latin instead of just throwing a bloody baseball.

But Wolf? Why he's starting for the Dodgers on Monday, of course. And unlike Ollie, Wolf actually looks like a pitcher. He has given up just 10 hits and three runs over his last three starts and 17 1/3 innings.

So brace yourselves for another of those ironic little twists of the knife as the feel good vibe fades further.

17.5.09

Paranormal Mets Continue Hot Streak

Interesting observation from one of the Fox announcers during the Mets' 9-6 reduction of the Giants.

The biggest competition in the NL East is going to be themselves.


Carlos shows he's now happy to get his trousers dirty, even when he doesn't need to slide, like in the 9th inning yesterday.

And when you watch them play like they've played so far in San Francisco you realise that when they ARE playing to their potential offensively, when the top of the order is getting on base as you would expect, creating terror and excitement on the base paths, and the middle of the order is hitting with those men on base as they should, this is in essence, an offensive juggernaut.


Beltran, Sheffield and Wright combined for 9 hits, 6 runs and 6 RBIs all by themselves.

When you see Santana bunting runners forward in the 5th, even with a 3-run lead, you see what is different about these new Mets - they keep applying the pressure over and over and over again. And that is the primary reason they are winning as they are: aggression.

The Mets had scored 11 runs for Santana whilst he was in the game, over his first 7 starts. Yesterday they had 7 by the 5th inning alone.


No pitcher's duel on Saturday

Perhaps the biggest story yesterday was the three runs the Mets tagged Randy Johnson for in the first inning. Not that they scored the runs off Johnson necessarily (although that was impressive) but that they SCORED runs and scored them early in support of Johan Santana, something they haven't done all season.

And when they Mets played their usual wretched defence in support of Santana to help him give up three runs and let the Giants back in the game did the Mets hang their heads or yell at Santana for not throwing a complete game shut out? No, they just put their heads down and scored more runs for him.

In San Francisco, the Mets are baseball gods.

How smart does Omar look now (despite the battering he's taken during the slow start) for signing Gary Sheffield. Remember what a head-scratcher that was? And whilst Omar wouldn't have known that The Magical Murph would field left field like a circus clown and he wouldn't have known the Carlos Delgado was going to end up with major hip problems, Sheffield's presence in the batting order is massive right now.

Come to think of it, like Sheffield, the guy who is banging away as he has replaced Delgado, Fernando Tatis was another old gem re-polished by Omar and brought from obscurity to excel.

Bottom line, the Mets have been fun, fun, fun to watch lately.


Not even Castillo can cool himself off - the Mets have stolen 13 bases in 3 games.

Remember Jerry Manuel's little game in Spring Training, contemplating using Luis Castillo as the lead off hitter in lieu of Jose Reyes? In Castillo, who magically no longer moves like a pensioner and may well be a co-contestant with Sheffield for NL Comeback Player of the Year, the Mets no only have a competent lead off hitter to replace the "injured" Reyes, but one who runs with intelligence, who doesn't seem like he's out of control and too stupid to grasp the game.

And whilst Reyes' "calf" is still dodgy and he missed another game the question must be ringing in Jerry's head about what to do about Reyes' baseball stupidity. After all, a dodgy calf won't allow you to sit him forever so hopefully this time off has calmed him down a bit. You can't put him on the DL for "stupid", can you now?

How ironic that whilst the Kenny Albert and Eric Karros, the broadcast team are in the middle of Hall of Fame accolades for Santana, he gives up a homer run to Aaron Rowand in the 6th? Or that Alex Cora dropped a fly ball to let the Giant's rally continue? What happened to Santana yesterday? Clearly the shock of the level of run support was destabilising.

The Mets won yesterday DESPITE themselves.

How many errors yesterday ladies and gentlemen? Too many errors, that's right.

You'd have to have an awfully limited post season pool to envision the Mets winning a World Series with a Little League defence.

Sure, they're hot now at the plate but once they cool down the defence is still going to be rubbish, the starting pitching and middle relief questionable and the same old woes will likely return.

So enjoy it now, this little run, whilst the Mets batters are hot. When they cool, you'll probably see the same old version of the same old Mets all over again.

16.5.09

Mets Discover In Themselves An Offensive Juggernaut in San Francisco

It's been quite a fascinating pair of evenings in San Francisco watching the Mets grow as a team, applying relentless pressure on the base paths with hits and aggressive base running to the point that each night the Giants pitchers have wilted under that pressure resulting in two come-from-behind victories which demonstrate a kind of character the team has been missing in the past.



"That team is playing to win a World Series," Giants catcher Benji Molina said after having been incessantly harassed by aggression on the bases by these Mets. "They are not just playing to be in the playoffs."

Playoffs? World Series? Why just a few weeks ago, these Mets were Mutts. Now look at them. 10 wins in their last 12 games. Rallying from four run deficits to victory.


the tongue of desire.

For the second night in a row David Wright proved his mettle with a clutch hit that helped the Mets to victory.

David Wright? Clutch hit? Are these two suddenly synonymous?

Well, it's still early days and there's still a long September looming ahead in the far distance.

Livan Hernandez was disappointing against the oft-amazing Tim Lincecum, allowing 8 hits and 5 earned runs over 5 innings but the Mets were surprisingly effective against Lincecum, getting 10 hits and 5 runs of their own to keep the game close until the late innings.

Sean Green inflated his already bloated Buffalo ERA to 8.80, giving up a pair of hits and a run in one inning of work but Feliciano, Stokes and Frankie Boy spun three scoreless innings to close the game and the victory out.

Tonight we'll see just how serious these Mets are about scoring runs when Johan takes the mound against Randy Johnson.

I believe, time willing, such an attractive match up is worthy of another LIVE BLOGGING SESSION this evening. Stay tuned, kids.

15.5.09

Mets Overcome Disappointment and Mileage to Open West Coast Trip With A Victory

The Road Trip Of The Season that began when the Mets left from an extra inning loss in New York last night to fly to San Francisco for tonight's game, will see them off to LaLa in four days and then all the way over to Boston thereafter commenced with a 7-4 victory characterised by early sloppy pitching, a long lull in the middle innings, a bullpen failing to hold a lead and a comeback in the 9th.

John Maine's perfect bunt in the 4th more than made up for his sloppy start to the game and added to an insurance run to give the Mets a 4-2 they carried into the 8th. To that point, Giants announcers had shown more replays of a dropped foul ball by a fan with a glove and the subsequent mocking from the fans surrounding him than they had any play of the actual game.

It was rather surprising to see Maine go back out for the 7th inning having thrown over 100 pitches. He managed to get the first two batters of the 7th but when he walked the Benji Molina on 4 pitches, time was up.

After a slow start Maine ultimately pitched well. Over his last 4 starts he's pitched a total of 24 2/3 innings, allowing 16 hits and 6 earned runs. He won three of those starts, doing it all with smoke and mirrors and the only reason he didn't win all four was because of Bobby Parnell.

Brian Stokes was again the picture of success out of the pen, closing out the 7th without a worry but was removed for a pinch hitter (the suddenly hitless Magical Murph, spinning downwards, hitless in his previous 12 at-bats and then out standing there with the bat on his shoulder for strike three).

Bobby Parnell, who hadn't given up a run in May let the Giants drip runs home in the 8th, was nearly rescued by a beautiful hard slider to strike out Aurelio with men on the corners and only one out, but then allowed the Giants to tie the game having nibbled at the lead like those pedicure-giving, flesh-eating fish.

Not good news for the Mets considering Parnell is the logical replacement for JJ should that shot in the elbow not do the trick and frankly, even if the shot allows him some relief, how effective is he going to be as a set up guy the rest of the season? Worries, worries.

Reminiscent of the other night against Atlanta, Carlos Beltran doubled in the 9th and then stole third, again saved by a questionable call - (is Beltran making contributions to the Umpire Retirement Fund?). The Mets end up with an amazing 7 stolen bases on the night.

One batter later, with two men on, one out, the game on the line David Wright singles Beltran home. 3 for 3 on the night with 2 walks and one very clutch hit. As much as Wright has been disparaged this season for meaningless hits, choking in key game situations and failing to make simple throws to first base he's on the books in this game as coming through when it mattered. Now do that for the rest of the season and maybe we'll forget about the uncountable lost opportunities of the past.

But even that clutch hit is drown out by Ramon Castro's two-run single to split the lead back open to 7-4. Just over two weeks ago the Mets couldn't buy a late inning run but of late, during this stretch that has seen them jump into first place, they are no longer daunted by the spector of late inning runs or losing leads or falling behind. Even without Reyes or Delgado the offence is not afraid to score. (Or the Giants bullpen is rubbish, you decide).

Anyone else wonder if the mysterious "calf" problem that Reyes was alleged to suffer is really a benching by the manager in disguise for that pitiful base running display Wednesday night against the Braves?

Sorry kids, no game photos so soon after the game. The dark room is too light.

As a means of compensation, I offer the Fred Lewis blog a certain, infinite source of fascination and entertainment.

K-Rod puts the sleeper hold on the Giants and the game is over.

Well done, lads.

******

Not all the news is good news. The Mets are being slowly decimated by injury. Other than Reyes' mysterious injury and Putz's elbow, Delgado might need surgery. That Sheffield signing is looking better and smarter by the minute, innit?

13.5.09

test LIVE AND UNCUT INTIMATE CANDLELIT BLOGGING

Giddy Extra Inning Win Keeps Mets In First

The victory was everything that the loss the night before, wasn't.


The game culminated on a someone else walking home the winning run for a change. Beltran is finally making a claim for NL MVP. Early, yes, but he is carrying the team on his back.

Down 3-0 in the 8th the Mets staged a brilliant comeback to complete a 4-3 10 inning victory, their first victory when trailing after 8 innings ALL SEASON. That was 13 straight games without a victory when trailing after 8. A big milestone crossed.

Of course, it helped that the ump blew the call with Carlos Beltran boldly stealing 3rd in the 9th inning still trailing by a run. Had the ump gotten the call right no doubt the Mets would have gone down meekly. Instead, they took advantage of a call going their way, played aggressively (not only Beltran's steal, but Reyes' steal of 2nd in the 10th inning which ultimately proved to be the winning run).

Larry wasn't happy his tag out of Beltran was missed. “Let’s just say the baseball gods owe us one,” Larry cried. “The game came down to one play, and the umpire got it wrong. Why he got it wrong, I don’t know.” But that wasn't enough for Larry, he still had more tears to cry: “I never had a guy slide into my glove and be safe,” Jones cried like a school girl. “That’s the whole game. … We played a perfect game and got it taken away from us.”

Thereafter perhaps it was only a matter of time in the bottom of the 10th before the Mets made it official.

So there you have it, a team's win, perhaps the best of the season to date. Come-from-behind, daring, dangerous and of course helped by an inept Braves bullpen who walked home the winning run but a gutty win, the kind of a win from a team with heart. Finally.

*****

Big Pelf showing growing strength

As for the rest of the game leading up to this magical moment, you begin with a very encouraging outing from Big Pelf who threw 7 strong innings of 6 hit, 2 run ball and kept the Mets in the game even as they were being completely shut down by Jair Jurrjens, who held the Mets in check until the 8th inning when he clearly began to tire.

Now, before we get into a huff about the ineffectiveness of the Mets batting order it's important to remember that when it truly counted, they did the job and second, Jurrgens is a great young pitcher.

*****

“Good hitting and stupid base running,” Reyes said. Indeed.

So it was Reyes' massive two-run double off of Jurrgens in the 8th that brought the Mets to the verge yet when he tried like a madman, a greedy, stupid man, to turn the double into a triple, he ended the rally leaving it to Beltran's heroics; the lead off double in the 9th, the dodgy steal of 3rd and then getting sacrificed home by Luis Castillo to tie the game.

The less about J J Putz tonight, the better.

And the more said about K-Rod's two-inning outing last night, his first win as a Met, the better.

*****


In lieu of yet another photo of Wright failing in the clutch how about one of him getting thrown out trying to steal, just for a change of pace, eh?

As for David Wright, a night of mostly bad news: striking out looking in the 4th with two men on for shame and getting thrown out at the plate in the 7th after tripling and trying to score on a shallow fly ball.

You might like the Mets aggressive behaviour on the base paths. It helped win the game last night in a sense but just as easily, it could have lost it for the Mets so whilst aggression is applauded, stupid aggression isn't. Let's see if Jerry's lads can figure out the difference.


And there's still a little trouble fielding that left field position

Might wonder if Delgado needs to go the DH how much it might mess up Murphy's head to platoon with Tatis at first base. Naaah. It's messed up enough already out there.

Could we package Wright and Ollie to the Nats for Zimmerman? Well, after his hitting streak ends, of course. Say, July or August....

12.5.09

Lowe And Behold: The Staff The Mets Could Have Had

All I can say is that it's a damned good thing this loss came on the heels of a seven game winning streak.


No, didn't QUITE get the ball thrown properly to first yet Mr Wrong...

Otherwise there'd be all sorts of recriminations, finger-pointing and bile spilling from every corner about our ace, Johan Santana, losing to the ace in Derek Lowe the Mets COULD have signed but decided to decide the shit-canned Ollie Perez instead.

Yes, a rotation of Santana, Lowe, Pelf, Maine and Livan would have been one of the best in baseball and instead of signing Lowe to that exhausting contract and making that rotation come to life, the Mets signed Perez and the instead of greatness they continue to struggle to find the strong and consistent Number Two starter in their rotation.

But it wasn't the starting rotation that ailed the Mets last night. Both pitchers did their jobs and the game was knotted at 1 each after 6 innings.

Sort of the way you might have expected it. Ace and against ace.

Sort of the way you might have even hoped for, given that ace against ace was going to lead to the bullpen and the bullpen, by god, is what Omar spent all his bloody budget on this winter in lieu of starting pitching and the bullpen at least, even if the starting rotation can't always be relied upon, is the bloody anchor of this great vessel of a baseball team.

So where were JJ Putz and Frankie Boy, the transcendent set-up man and closer whilst the Mets bullpen was busy putting the game out of reach looking very much like the Mets bullpen of 2007?

Did Jerry Manuel fall asleep in the 7th?


D'oh!

Why wasn't Jose Reyes facilitating Pedro Feliciano's tepid foray into the sublime by allowing that grounder Pedro had induced Brian McCann into, what should have been an inning-ending double play, to be played with style and competence and should have ended the god-damned inning before it had a chance to get worse?

And why for that matter, once Reyes blew it, WHY was the lefty Feliciano still out there to face the righty Diaz with the entirety of the bullpen available to stem the bleeding?

(I'm sure Jerry will have an answer, like the lefty Kotchman due up after Diaz and no more lefties in the bullpen...)

But forget about all that.


Johan contemplates Wright's wrong throw in the first

What is disquieting about this loss is that is like so many others that Johan has started in and that these losses are the games the Mets are supposed to be winning, the ones with their ace, the best pitcher in the National League, on the mound.

Instead, and perhaps eerily reminiscent of the candor of Jose Reyes' admission the other day that they don't always try their hardest or give their most, the Mets seem to stop playing when Johan is pitching, content to stand or sit there watching him in action, not hitting to give him run support and not fielding to give him defensive support.

These are all games, with their ace on the mound, that the Mets should be winning and they add up instead to losses that might, as the season wears on, mean the difference between winning the NL East again finally and finishing yet again as also-rans.

*****

Another Mets article from yours truly up today on Flushing University. Thanks, chaps.

11.5.09

Metsamorphosis Is Complete: Series Sweep, Seven Game Streak and First Place

It's no big mystery, is it?


Sliding home is just a game

Starting pitching, solid defence, timely hitting, the baseball triad for success.

So often and for so long this has eluded the Mets but during this neat little seven game package that have seen seven wins catapult the Mets into sole possession of first place in the NL East, this is precisely what is propelling the Mets forward.



Yesterday, Mother's Day, Pink Bat Day, it doesn't matter what day right now or the opponent. The Mets are going through their schedule like a knife through hot butter.

Starting pitching: Livan Hernandez tossed 6 solid innings after a sluggish start and other than Sean Green surrendering a two-run homer in the top of the 9th, the bullpen suffocated the Pirates in the later innings. Ever since Ollie shat the bed and was demoted to the "dodgy knee" status and made to disappear, Met starters have had quality starts; 7 in a row to end with 6-0 record and a 2.44 ERA.

Solid defence: other than Reyes' error in the 4th inning on Friday night, the Mets sailed through this series not only without any errors but with the outfield, both corners, and plays like Reyes' run-saving, back-handed stab on the outfield's edge in the 4th, twisting to throw out the Pirate batter on one hop to first.


The Pirate bullpen was like a buffet table of runs in this series

And finally, timely hitting. Over the course of this streak the Mets are no longer falling asleep after jumping to an early lead. They were even behind in this game and rallied from a two run deficit to take the lead in the 4th before padding that lead with a run in the 7th and three more runs in the 8th. A week ago this was unheard of, the Mets scoring late in the game to build on a lead, the Mets coming from behind to take the lead and keep it. This is a new Mets-amorphosis from the gutless, scrawny kids they looked like a week ago. And you can't just blame it all on the Pirates. The Mets have also faced two of their biggest nemesis during this streak in the Braves and Phillies.


No end in sight to Beltran's push for a career-year

During the streak Beltran has 4 homers, 10 RBIs, 22 total bases and a .321 batting average in seven games. The other Carlos, Delgado, is hitting .423 with a .500 on base percentage. Omir Santos has hit .364 and even Reyes has a .412 on base percentage and 6 stolen bases in 6 tries over the last 7 games.

Despite a sluggish start, even David Wright is hitting with runners in scoring position - he's now hitting .302 in such situations and although he's struck out 14 times in 43 such at bats, he's also driven in 16 runners. Only Beltran and Delgado have knocked in more under pressure.

So call this what you will, a blip of surreality in an otherwise unending streak of failure and misery beginning its third season, a sudden burst of awareness that the Mets need to close out precisely these kinds of sweeps against mediocre teams and score even when they think they don't need to any more. There isn't a finite number of runs the Mets will score all season yet they some times play as though there is and they want to conserve those runs until they really need them.

It's taken them a month and a half but if you're letting the warm air get to your head you might just see this 7 game winning streak as the beginning of a season-long run in the NL East.

Or, they tumble back to reality.

For the moment though, these 7 games seem real. These new Mets, without the Ollie Curse, look at though they are ready to stop disappointing us every night.

*****

And Look! They've made it all the way up to 6th in the power rankings

10.5.09

Without Their Manager Mets Smash 17 Hits, Win 6th In A Row And Reach First Place

You see, it must have been manager Jerry Manuel holding them back all along.


They won't do this for me, why not, oh why not?


You know the games a laughter when Brian Stokes is closing it out.

With Jerry suspended for a game for allowing the tip of his cap to make contact with an ump during a spittle-flying tirade, with Jerry in civvies, laughing it up with Omar's in Jeff Wilopon's suite, the Mets pounded 17 hits and 10 runs, (both season highs) against the laughable Pirates in a rare game where it all comes together, a 10-1 victory, the Mets 6th in a row and a win which, coupled with the Phillies loss to the Braves, moves the Mets back into a tie for first place in the NL East with the Marlins.

That's quite a distance to fly without your manager. I suppose they will now be calling for a longer suspension by tomorrow at this rate. Ask Jerry to punch the ump in the face next time.

You could logically point to a free-falling Pirate team as the source for this sudden Mets inspiration. It isn't easy being a Pirate fan these days. They've lost seven in a row now while the Mets have won six in a row.


Bench players, everyone but the bat boy scored for the Mets yesterday...

And in essence, that's how this game fell with one hot and one ice cold.

In the 4th the Mets had five singles from their first six hitters, hits dropping, bloops falling where they weren't, one after another after another culminating with the suddenly red-hot Jose Reyes' two-run single and the Mets finished with 5 runs in the inning, blowing the game wide open.

What's this you say, the Mets actually BUILDING on a lead? The Mets actually showing a killer instinct? The Mets coasting, cruising, laughing like a team that is ready to now put the rest of the NL East behind them? Whoa.

The first three innings of course, you could see anything happening.

John Maine was pitching as adequately as you can be throwing 102 pitches in six innings despite walking only two and allowing three hits. It seemed like every Pirate fly out to Carlos Beltran in centerfield.

But after Reyes' quick run in the top of the first, nothing much was happening against the Pirates' ace.

(No doubt we were all prepared for the malaise, listening to the same song again as the Mets struggled to hold that 1-0 lead for 4 or 5 innings then saw Maine lose focus, surrender a bunch of walks and eventually the ice cold Pirates inexplicably getting hot, scoring a few runs, enough to see the Mets in some sort of hitless 3-1 hole they wouldn't emerge from all game. This is what we've come to expect by conditioning after all. Not a laughter. Not the Mets piling on runs.)

But that IS what happened. The Mets DID produce 17 hits. They DID add on runs in the 7th and 8th innings, even with a big lead. When was the last time you saw the Mets do that? Not fade as soon as they'd scored a couple of runs and leave it all up to the pitching?

This is the kind of performance you build a new stadium to see.

Even Gary Sheffield got into the act with his first multi-hit game as a Met and a nice, sliding catch in right field in the 7th. Given Ryan Church's struggles at the plate of late, Sheffield might be seeing some regular playing time again which in turn, could see him rejuvenated at the plate. Someone's gotta win, someone's gotta lose.

If you want a little bad news (other than if you're Ryan Church) you can start getting in some early worrying about J J Putz and Jerry working him to death so early in the season that he's "not injured" but "generally fatigued" after appearing in 16 of the Mets first 28 games. He's struggled in two of his last three outings but perhaps a few days off will see him bounce back. You just don't want to see your set up guy endangered by fatigue or injury with so few candidates behind him should he falter. Bobby Parnell is the only other reliable, competent arm should Putz go down. But not to worry. Not today anyway.

Yes, the hits are falling but look at these Mets starters. Six straight quality starts since they ended the Ollie Perez Nightmare. Think that's a mere coincidence? That Perez wasn't like some contagious disease of incompetence? 6 starts without him in the rotation, 6 quality starts, allowing just 10 earned runs in 38-1/3 innings for a 2.35 ERA. That's the backbone of this little streak. Getting the pen some rest, quality starts and a few hits after the first inning when it matters.

This is a Mets team you could grow to like real quickly.

The question is will they show up again today?

After all the Mets might just be in their annual teasing stage.

9.5.09

Edge? Mets Add Late Inning Rally To Their Repertoire

Suddenly the Mets aren't looking quite like laughingstocks any more.

Although only five games worth of a winning streak, the Mets have not only swept their two chief rivals in the NL East but have now added an uncharacteristic late-inning rally to their growing list of achievements.

Sure, the first week in May is a little late to be getting your first late inning rally but finally you have to like what looks to be the Mets beginning warm up to the 2009 season.


Old Man River Keeps Rolling

Carlos Delgado, a one-man wrecking crew with 5 RBIs (just passing Mickey Mantle on the All-Time RBI list)has proven the cortisone shot to the hip was enough to keep him blasting away a little longer as he continues to edge towards the 500 homer mark. His three-run shot last in the 8th last night was the catalyst to the Mets win.


Castillo shows Beltran how to slide at home.

The Magical Murphy, continuing to establish himself as perhaps one of the game's better young hitters, showed off his improved defensive skills with some fine catches in left field.


The Future Is Here?

And perhaps most importantly, Jonathon Niese, in his first MLB start of the season, seized the opportunity for a permanent starting role in the rotation by tossing 6 fine innings of two-run, seven hit ball while striking out five and walking none. One of those runs was the direct result of an outfield blunder/miscommunication between Carlos Beltran and Ryan Church.

It was by no means perfect baseball from the Mets and probably more a result of facing the rubbish Pirates, losers of 10 of their last 11 than a great game. In addition to the outfield gaffe, Reyes had an error and Niese threw a wild pickoff play. The bullpen, spewing forth Sean Green, Tagahashi, Bobby Parnell and Putz, gave up a run put was generally effective over the final three innings of the game, especially compared to the Pirates pen, which collapsed by surrendering 5 earned runs over only 2 2/3 innings.

Be glad you aren't stuck supporting the Pirates, even if they do have several young, talented players. There is a clear pattern to their losing which, with a better bullpen would almost mirror the Mets previous woes:

1. Starting pitcher does well.

2. Offense does next to nothing.

3. Bullpen gives it up late.


So, whilst we could easily bemoan why a stiff like Jeff Karstens was able to hold the Mets to two runs and seven hits over six innings, bemoan the absence of lead-building until the 8th or bemoan the slow start until now, we could equally rejoice for the moment because for the moment anyway, the Mets look like they might possibly know what they're doing.

The funny thing is, if it holds, we might look back on the GM's statements as the ignition point, the snap of the fingers that snapped these Mets out of their somnambulism.

8.5.09

Moyer's Batting Practice Outing Lets Mets Jump Ahead Early And For Good

The Mets beat up Jamie Moyer with a pair of two-run homers, one from Beltran and one from David Wright in the first inning to turn an early 1-0 deficit into a 4-1 lead. (Yes, the same Beltran who hadn't had a homer against Moyer in 50 some odd at-bats and the same Wright whose infrequent dalliances into clutch hitting with men on base has been wanting to say the least...)


BaddaBing

BaddaBang

But are these the new Mets or the same auld Mets with a brief little giddy-up in the stride at the moment?

A three-run lead after the first inning is the first hint. All season to date the Mets have jumped to early leads only to see those leads wither.

Last night, with Big Pelf on the mound steadying the ship and keeping the Phillies quiet, the Mets meticulously added to their lead to make sure there was enough space in there to keep the Phillies' inevitable rally falling short.

Reyes pounded a solo shot in the 2nd to increase the Mets lead to 4; the first three-homer outing from the Mets at Citi Field ever.


Castro's insurance runs interrupt Keef's observations...

Keef's rare appearance with his security crew out of the booth and at the Taqueria queue in the 3rd inning created a rock-star-like scene and saw the Mets load the bases for Castro with only one out and a chance to break the game open for good. Despite hitting .182 as a team with the bases loaded this season, Castro hits a two-run double to expand the Mets lead to an obese 7-1 to finally knock Moyer out of the batting practice game.

From thereafter, with the Mets having laid the ground rules for yet another atypical victory, Keef was followed throughout the stadium, place to place making observations like how good a spot the Acela dining area by the foul pole would be for anti aircraft fire.

Combined with Ron Darling's earlier observations of the grips of Santana and Doc Gooden, an A-One night for the broadcast booth as well. Or maybe it's just the feel good vibe of the Mets bitch-slapping the Phillies.


Hey Ump, how about trying not to be such an incompetent douchebag?!

And by the 8th, circus tactics by the new scumbag extraordinaire Victorino with his forearm shiver to Reyes in the basepaths which ultimately got Jerry ejected as well. His first of the season. Interesting in that you don't often see managers ejected from games where they hold a commanding lead. Just goes to show you these Mets are taking things perhaps a little more seriously than they've looked like they were taking things early on. Does this team have some balls, some street guts, some meanness in them yet?

Then again, with Pedro Feliciano negating whatever good vibes he put out last night by letting this game shrink from 7-2 to 7-5, Jerry must have known innately how desperate the Mets would become in later innings. 11 of the 24 homers Pedro has given up has been against the Phillies. Pedro is not the Phillies Killah but the Phillies Lap Dog. Sure the runs were unearned and certainly undeserved, given that they arose from an ump's idiot call, but the ump didn't give up that homer, innit?

Wonder if it's time to give Church his regular job back in right field until he gets his swing back?

Anyway, K-Rod Kloses 'Em Out yet again to FINALLY move the Mets over .500.


It's clear the Mets

7.5.09

Manny, Busted

Well anyone else still think we should have signed Manny now that he's been suspended for 50 games?