Mets – Reds Preview

Can the Mets make it ten?

The Mets won 9 straight games, turning themselves into a juggernaut that could only be stopped by the All-Star break. Let’s hope they can regain their momentum tonight as they open a 4-game series in Cincinnati.

Game One: Johan Santana vs. Johnny Cueto

Johan’s less-than-stellar record hides his sparkling ERA. We keep hearing how he is a “second half pitcher”. Well, it’s now officially the second half, so start kicking some butt, Mr. Santana!

Cueto got rocked by the Mets back in May, lasting only 4 2/3 and allowing 6 runs on 8 hits. He might have been spooked by the big stage in NYC, and could be more comfortable in Cincinnati. He’s been up and down, sometimes spectacular, sometimes awful — a lot like Mike Pelfrey was until recently.

Game Two: John Maine vs. Bronson Arroyo

Last year John Maine was on a hot streak going into the ASB, then faltered. This year, he faltered going into the break, so let’s hope the time off is a positive, rather than a negative, this time around. I’d like to see Dan Warthen fix Maine’s mechanics, which to me appear to be a bit off.

Arroyo keeps coming up in trade rumors, and I’m not sure why. Yes, he lit the world on fire in his first half-season in Cincinnati in 2006, but hasn’t been anything special since. Like in the “other” league, once the NL hitters got used to Arroyo, he became over-exposed and isn’t much more than a .500 pitcher. His ERA is currently a hair under 6.

Game Three: Oliver Perez vs. Josh Fogg

My my … Josh Fogg is still drawing a big league paycheck? Wonders never cease. He carries a 7.94 ERA into the game, high enough to keep Adam Eaton looking effective.

Oliver Perez has been nasty — in a good way — over his last three starts. My biggest concern is, will he take the Reds lightly and pitch down to the competition? This may turn out to be the key game of the series.

Game Four: Pedro Martinez vs Edinson Volquez

Volquez is currently the best Reds pitcher, though I’m not sure I’d trade Josh Hamilton for him. Had he not allowed a two-run homer to J.D. Drew, perhaps Billy Wagner’s performance wouldn’t have been so glaring. In any case, Volquez pitched 7 innings and struck out 10 in his last “real” game, and sports a 12-3 record and 2.29 ERA. Not too shabby.

Will Pedro really make the start? We think so, but no one knows for sure. Last time out, it was a tight shoulder that was due to a tight groin. His hamstring appears to be OK, and we think the toe is completely healed. What else can he injure? Just ask Orlando Hernandez … who for all we know could be replacing Pedro in the rotation sooner rather than later.

Bottom Line

This four-game jaunt is a warmup for Philadelphia; I don’t expect the Mets to get to 13 in a row, and will be very happy with a split. That may sound pessimistic, but there are some things concerning me:

1. Cueto is capable of pitching lights-out, and shutting down the Mets’ Alouless and Churchless offense.

2. John Maine’s last three starts have been troubling.

3. Can Ollie keep it up?

You’d think nine straight wins would fill me with confidence, but I still have “guarded optimism”. If the Mets can take two, there’s a good chance they go into Philly in the same position they’re in right now: second place, a half game back. I’m fine with that.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Micalpalyn July 17, 2008 at 1:40 pm
    Cueto vs Santana: remember when Doc was our Ace? He always got those 14 win seasons never the 20 win seasons he was penciled in for after his rookie yr. Why? i think he always faced everyone elses best pitcher…the Orel Hershisers, Roger clemens, Rick Sutcliffe, et al. I think likewise Santana could be locked into a pitchers duel that is decided by the pen.

    Maine: I think he needs a trip to the mechanic. Interesting too because i see him like Aaron, a possible trade chip in the near or off season. He represents one of few players with ML experience that the Mets have to offer that could help net a ‘Matt holiday’ type. Just a thought but the Mets have Santana locked up, Pelfrey looking like Maine, and Ollie who they could lock up before he walks. Petey and Ollie come off the books too and Niese, Parnall are considerations. Sheets and Sabathia are among the pending free agents.

  2. isuzudude July 17, 2008 at 2:13 pm
    “Guarded Optimism” is the key phrase. Hope but don’t expect or demand. I’m convinced that philosophy has prevented an ulcer.

    Mic: I get a kick out of your trade proposals. You must have a whole garage full of them. I don’t know why, though, you want to rush Maine and Heilman out the door. Neither will be a free agent for another 2 years (Aaron after 2010, Maine after 2011), so to trade them well before their contracts expire makes little sense, especially for a team as minor league pitching deprived as the Mets. Additionally, why do you want to trade away the strengths of our weakest position for a “Matt Holliday” type when F-Mart is on the way and Beltran and Church are both locked up long-term? As I see it, if you have good, young pitching, you must do your best to hold on to it for as long as possible. I also see no chance Perez gets re-signed before hitting the open market, especially considering his agent. I’m sorry it seems like I’m always coming down on you. I know your heart is in the right place, I just think you need a little re-direction from time to time.

    Anyway, I wanted to mention 2 other things.
    1. I’ve been making it a habit to check out the Phillies blog philliesnation.com a few times a day, and they seem to be getting all in a frenzy for the possibility of getting Joe Blanton, Matt Cain, or AJ Burnett. Honestly, I don’t see any of those three going to Philly unless Pat Gillick wants to seriously overpay. The best the Phillies can do is throw Hamels, Moyer, and Kendrick to the mound every 5th day, and hope Myers and Happ can hold up the back end. The offense should take care of the rest.
    2. Rumor has it Richie Sexson is landing with the Yankees. I, for one, am glad Omar passed. (Yeah, watch Sexson smash 20 HR in the 2nd half and boost the Skanks to the playoffs)

  3. joe July 17, 2008 at 4:58 pm
    ‘dude, I think Mic has a point about Maine … no, I’m in no rush to trade him, but there are so many “immovable” Mets due to bad contracts (Castillo, Beltran, Delgado, etc.) or “untouchable” status (Wright, Reyes, F-Mart), that they really don’t have much in the way of trading chips. And to get something, you have to give up something. Trading Maine now or during this winter would be Billy Beanesque. Of course, the Mets would have to get a top-flight hitter in return, and also have a plan on plugging his hole in the rotation. But not too far-fetched an idea.

    As for the Phils I agree … I have no idea who it is the A’s or Giants would want in return for their starting studs. Pedro Feliz? Geoff Jenkins? Not likely. Jayson Werth? Not by himself. And they have about as many gems on the farm as the Mets do.

    Sexson might be OK in the Bronx, where he can hide behind A-Rod, Jeter, etc. (in the lineup as well as the clubhouse). I know you’re glad Omar passed but I’d have given Sexson a three-day tryout before Andy Phillips anytime.

  4. sincekindergarten July 17, 2008 at 5:39 pm
    A.J. Burnett has a no-trade-clause to 15 different teams, and, according to Ken Rosenthal, the Phillthies are on that list.

    I’ve got to agree with you on Sexson, Joe. Glad that Omar had some sanity, but I’d want him before Andy Phillips. If Sexson hit one or two out for the Mets, he’d be worth it, for those two wins alone. But, having said that, he’ll do reasonably well in the Bronx.

  5. Micalpalyn July 17, 2008 at 6:28 pm
    Thanks Joe: 🙂

    1. Dude: I like arguing with you. I love tweaking your debating skills. but you are also wrong just enough of the time for me to keep writing. Yes i doubt most any bloggers schemes come true but i have had that ‘feeling’ in the tank for a while.

    2. Ollie. Ollie is a poor mans santana. He has the arm but not the results. but at his age (4 yrs younger than Johan) he has upside. I think that Omar has challenged him to repeat his 2007. If he continues his present streak he could well NOT hit the open market and get a Gil Meche deal.

    3. Sorry Isuzu, Joe Blanton has been traded to the Phils. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3494315

  6. isuzudude July 17, 2008 at 7:41 pm
    Maybe I stand alone, but I would count Maine on the “untouchable” list. He still has 3 years left of pitching in his 20s, all of which are under contract with the Mets. I just don’t think the Mets should be desperate enough to trade a guy like Maine for offense, especially considering how thin we are in the pitching department.

    Mic, I also enjoy our discussions. I just don’t want you to feel like I’m singling you out because it seems like we disagree on 9 out of 10 topics. Thanks for giving me a sparring partner. And it does appear I was incorrect regarding Blanton to the Phillies, although I’m unsure whether he’s going to solve all of their pitching woes. Alas, he can’t be any worse than Adam Eaton, and didn’t cost them any big prospects, so I can’t say it was a bad move. We’ll see how he does moving from the cavernous stadium in Oakland to the bandbox in Philadelphia.