Final Tuneup vs. Red Sox
Ollie was an absolute disaster from pitch one. Dan Warthen and Jerry Manuel can bitch at him all they want about being in shape and earning his keep, but the bottom line is that there is a mechanical issue preventing him from throwing strikes. Ron Darling suggested that Ollie’s front shoulder was opening too early, but that’s a symptom, not a cause. The SNY camera angles stink if you want to analyze a pitcher’s mechanics, so I can’t figure out what’s going on — I just can see something’s not right. My best guess is that Ollie’s stride is too short (similar to John Maine’s issue earlier this spring). I think he’s landing too early and not giving his arm a chance to catch up, so his release point is too early, leaving the ball up and away to RH hitters. He threw 10 of his first 12 fastballs to that exact spot, yet no one — not Brian Schneider, not Warthen — made a trip to the mound until the bases were loaded. Too late, fellas!
Some of you have disagreed with me on Figgy vs. Parnell, but today’s outing by Ollie is exactly the reason I prefer a coolheaded veteran long man such as Nelson waiting in the bullpen. It makes all the more sense when you consider that neither Perez nor John Maine are physically ready to start the season, and each may have early exits among their first few starts.
Maine looked OK in his tune-up, with sporadic command issues and velocity a little lower than we’d like to see. It may take him until May to get to 100%.
On the radio broadcast, Howie Rose compared Murphy to Edgardo Alfonzo, and Wayne Hagin compared him to Will Clark. So, let’s see … Wade Boggs, Fonzie, Clark, Don Mattingly … when is someone going to compare Murphy to Babe Ruth? How about we just let this kid be himself, whomever that is. It’s not fair to put all this pressure on a player who will most likely be a .275 -.285 hitter — which would be a disappointment if you’re expecting Will Clark numbers but is perfectly fine for his role in the Mets’ lineup in 2009.
Marlon started the game in centerfield. Hmm … why? Was it because the plan is to make Marlon the backup centerfielder and late-inning defensive replacement, and Jeremy Reed will be sent down to make room for Gary Sheffield? There is no other explanation, because as long as Reed is on the roster, Anderson would never play center. If you want to experiment with a spot for Marlon to expand his versatility, put him at 2B, where he’s played nearly 700 big-league games but only twice in the last two years. I’d much rather see Marlon spell Castillo at 2B once in a while than centerfield, where he has no range, no arm, and no experience.
Not the most inspiring tune-up, so we’ll glaze over it and keep Friday night’s contest fresh in our minds. The real games begin on Monday, in Cincinnati, against a Reds team I think will surprise some people. Buckle up, we have 162 games to go!
Re: Anderson: My theory is that Jerry’s using him in CF now as a showcase to other teams who might be interested via trade. The easiest call the Mets have to make (although history shows the easiest call is not always made by this franchise) is that Marlon is the player to go to make room for Livan, and whose roster spot Gary Sheffield is taking. Jeremy Reed has earned his spot on the roster. He’s also had ample time this spring to “practice” in CF, but his true calling this season should be in LF spelling Murphy/Tatis late in ballgames. I think Jerry’s getting Reed some final reps in that position, and putting Marlon in CF to perhaps further entice some other team to trade for him, showcasing his additional versatility. In the end, chances are slim anyone will trade for Marlon, and the Mets will release him and eat his salary. But it can’t hurt to put him out there now while the games still don’t count.
Re: the bench: if there’s one thing the addition of Sheffield does, it makes the bench much more symmetrical. Prior to his signing, the bench of Anderson, Cora, Reed, Tatis, and Castro was lopsided to the leftside, but now with Sheffield projected to replace Anderson, you get 2 righties, 2 lefties, and 1 backup catcher, which is ideal. Additionally, you have 1 righty who plays OF and 1 who can play IF/OF, and 1 lefty who plays OF and 1 who plays IF. Very symmetrical, and the type of bench composition that I assume GM’s strive to create by opening day.
It would appear that Ollie is Jerry Manuel’s #3 starter. I’d feel a tad better if he were the #4. Just one spot, yeah, but he’d be up against slightly lower-grade competition from the other side. Who would you have him pitch against–Jair Jurrjens or Kenshin Kawakami? (Yeah, I know, we don’t know a whole lot about Kawakami, but we do know about Jurrjens.) Alternately, who would you have him pitch against–Jamie Moyer or Kyle Kendrick? (I’d take Kawakami and Kendrick, myself.)
On Saturday, I got a last minute ticket upgrade from a friend of mine at Merrill Lynch — 5th row, behind home plate.(otherwise, we’d have been in the LF Promenade – which I sat in on Friday night….not bad for “Upper Tier” though it was very windy. Definitely a lot lower than the Upper Deck at Shea – where you felt like you were in God’s country.)
The linked-pic, with Youkilis in the box, is from my actual seat.
With this ticket came the privileges of entry into the Delta, Excelsior, and Acela (Restaurant) clubs – etc. Confirming what we already knew, in that Shea was more or less a disgrace to anyone looking to plan “outings” with colleagues or friends….this place is a tremendous upgrade and will likely get better as time goes by.
My overall review of Citi:
Citi Field probably won’t have the “wow” factor if you’ve been to other new Major League parks around the league…..my brother and I have made the rounds over the last 15 or so years — and have been to Camden, PNC, Citizen’s Bank, Petco, etc.
They’re becoming more or less “the same kind” of pristine-feeling parks — but at least Citi is OURS. That’s what made it special in being there over the weekend….you weren’t on vacation, or with a select group of your friends that came with you. Citi is now available to anyone looking to attend a ballgame, and the amenities are there in place for an enjoyable experience.
I was like an excited child as I drove by the new place for the 1st time…..and did feel a quick tear come to my eye as I closed the final chapter on Shea.
On Friday night, as stated — I was in the Upper Deck (“Promenade”) but didn’t feel far away from the action at all. Thing I love about Citi….as caste-system as it becomes in the “uppety” CLUB levels — you can still wander the ballpark freely, searching for a prime view-point. I’m a wanderer by nature……so it was good to be able to check things out from different vantage points; especially when Oliver Perez showed us that he’s still the very same headcase we all feared would be coming back at $12/13MM per season.
As far as cuisine was concerned, Shake Shack was great — but literally kicked my arse. Consuming a double-shack cheeseburger, black-and-white shake, and Box Frite fries with bacon dipping sauce put me out of commission from any further alcohol consumption…..bring your belly, boys. There’s no shortage on eats.
On Friday night, though — I left my seat to get on the Nathan’s line just to grab a traditional dog and beer….I’m polite by nature, but having progressed up to the counter, waiting an additional 25 minutes as I was informed by the poor frazzled kid behind the scenes, “no one knows how to pour a beer” — is more or less unacceptable.
50 minutes in, I exchanged words with the “supervisor” that had no idea how to work a beer tap….his employees were pouring 95% foam for $6.75. To top it off, the register didn’t have change for the growing number of people progressing to the line. Hopefully, they get themselves some competent people to work these stands in the “more common” levels.
Keep in mind, I’ll re-iterate that I have a very good level of patience….and it wasn’t due to crowd volume, but the people working.
Overall, I’m very happy with the place, and look forward to truly making it “OURS” – and the only way to do that is through success on the field. Joe, anytime you’re looking to meet up and have a couple cold ones….you know how to reach me. 1st meal’s on me.