Archive: May 18th, 2006

Lima Time is Bull

This Jose Lima is a real matadorIn case you’re wondering, the picture to the right is of the great matador, Jose Lima Granada, a.k.a., “Lima de Estepona”. I show it here as a frame of reference and inspiration to Jose Lima, a.k.a., “Lima Tiempo”. Check it out, Jose. No, not the fancy threads and phat hat, though I’m sure those are the first two things you noticed. Check out the technique of this grand toredor. If you look closely, you’ll see that the matador is avoiding the bull. He draws the bull in with the capote (the big cape), teases him, toys with him, until the point we see here, where he drops the muleta (a smaller red cape), the notification to the crowd that the bull is about to meet his demise.

Lima de Estepona is very good at what he does; if he wasn’t he’d be dead. Our Lima is not so good. But despite his ineffectiveness, he still lives, and gets paid a substantial sum of money to boot. However, for the good of the Mets, I hope that LimaTime can learn something from his overseas cousin, and avoid the bulls, rather than attacking them directly and tormenting them, because it is clear that he does not have a muleta nor sword with which to kill these bulls. Though he throws a fastball, it is no estocada (more banderilla, actually).

Unfortunately, the Mets’ Jose Lima resembles more of a rodeo clown than a matador. And he looks more like a minor league freak show than a bonafide Major League pitcher. Lima Time is over, at least in New York. It’s time to let this sorry excuse for a pitcher to return to the independent leagues, where he will be valuable as a crowd-pleaser and entertainer for some attendance-hungry minor league team.

(Go ahead, Google the terms. If nothing else, Jose Lima will help you learn a little about bullfighting … which in many ways is remarkably similar to baseball.)


Game 40: Loss

Cardinals 6 Mets 3

Though the final score showed a three-run deficit, the game was never really that close. In fact, it was over by the end of the second inning (for many, it was over the moment Jose Lima took the mound).

It’s painfully clear that it is no longer Lima Time. What’s unclear, is why Omar is so damn stubborn about keeping his third-best starter, Aaron Heilman, in the bullpen. This was another game where the team’s “strength” (the bullpen, per Omar) was of no use, since the game was effectively over when the starting pitcher let the game get out of hand before the third inning took place.

Strangely, Mr. Willie’s first reliever in the fourth inning was Chad Bradford, a ROOGY who tends to be used later in most games, as a matchup guy. Why not Darren Oliver, whose only apparent use is as a long man for mop up situations as this? Why not Jorge Julio, who hasn’t pitched since Joanie loved Chachi ? Why not Aaron Heilman, as an opportunity to stretch him out and start conditioning him for starting duty?

Whatever. It’s getting really frustrating to watch a first-place team slip because they have no reliable starting pitchers after their #2 (Trax’s recent aberration notwithstanding).


Jose Valentin stayed hot, as he hit the ball hard three times, including a line drive homer. I wonder how long before he gets tested and suspended for taking whatever he was using two years ago. Maybe it’s just a B-12 shot …

One GREAT thing about Valentin in the starting lineup is that someone else is the first bat off the bench. It’s such a pleasure to know that “not Valentin” will be pinch hitting in the first such situation.

Through all these losses, Carlos Beltran has stayed hot, quietly hitting bombs. He hit another dinger today, and is on track to hit about 30 for the year.

Jeremi Gonzalez goes against Randy Johnson and the mighty Yankees tomorrow. Let’s hope the crappy Randy shows up, though I’m not sure of our chances in a slugfest vs. the Bronx Bombers.


What’s Wrong with Cliffy?

Cliff Floyd's Uppercut SwingAfter getting above the Mendoza line a few days ago, it seemed as though Cliff Floyd was finally shaking his season-long slump. However, he had the unfortunate luck to run into a tough lefty, Mark Mulder, on a night that Mulder was at his toughest.

Is there reason for concern?


Metstradamus suggests that “He’s hurtin’. Don’t know what…don’t know how…but something about him is not correct. You can only put your car through so much before it stops running. And Cliffy it seems has taken his Dodge Dart of a body on too many cross country trips, which have included a few ill advised spinouts on major highways, and too many sideswipes on cross streets.”

He may be on to something there … Cliff Floyd isn’t getting any younger, and with all the injuries suffered throughout his career, his body has taken more of a toll than many other 33-year-olds. As Metstradamus says, something about him is not correct.

However, I’m not sure it’s his physical health (or breakdown). Actually, Cliffy’s problem looks not to be weakness or lack of bat speed, but the exact opposite: he’s too quick with his hands. He has a slight uppercut on most swings, and he’s topping the ball often and grounding out to the right side of the infield. That’s an indication of the bat coming through too early. Ted Williams was the first to point it out in his Science of Hitting, and it’s fairly logical. Picture the bat on an upswing, while the pitch is coming in on a downward plane: if the bat is too far ahead, it will miss or top the ball.

Cliffy hit a bunch of dingers last year, and he was never really a homerun hitter before. I think he might have learned “how” to hit them — by being a little bit ahead of the pitch and jerking the ball into the right field stands. However, he seems to be taking that approach far too often, to the point where perhaps it has become a habit.

Take a look at Floyd’s stats before he came to the Mets and you’ll see a guy who — outside of a 31-homer campaign in 2001 — hit for a near .300 average with tons of doubles (40+ a year), but rarely more than 20 HRs. After arriving in New York, however, the average has dropped considerably, the doubles have disappeared, and the homeruns were about the same until shooting up dramatically last year. Shea Stadium is not a hitter’s park by any means, but it shouldn’t have a drastic effect on the ability to hit doubles, and it shouldn’t allow a hitter to suddenly double his home run numbers.

So my best guess is that Cliff Floyd has changed his approach, and possibly his swing, and transformed himself from a high-average, doubles hitter, to a not-so-high-average, homerun hitter. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been hitting too many homeruns this year. And to make matters worse, it appears that every scout on the planet has taken note of Floyd’s pull-for-the-fences approach, as infielders are shifting to the right side when he’s up. In addition, many pitchers are feeding him inside pitches that are too far in to be dangerous, which Cliffy is pulling foul, then coming back with off-speed pitches on the outside part of the plate, which results in him reaching and either missing, popping up, or grounding out meekly. I’m not sure how many times Cliff and hitting coach Rick Down have to see this elementary strategy before they change something in Cliff’s approach.

The solution is fairly simple: trust the hands, wait back, and concentrate on hitting the ball to left field for a while. Of course, it’s easy to say, but hard to do. Much of the issue is the inside-pitch strategy that has been bestowed upon Mr. Floyd. The pitches look good coming in, and the natural reaction is to jump on them. Maybe Cliff can move off the plate a few inches, and concentrate on forcing the ball to left field with an inside-out swing. It’s not a swing he should always use, but it may help him get out of his current funk. The idea is that if he is looking to go the other way, he won’t be as prone to jumping too quickly on an inside fastball, and will wait longer on those (and all) pitches. That will give him a better read on pitch location, and hopefully get him swinging at more strikes.

After taking that approach for a couple weeks, and slashing some balls the opposite way, word will go around the NL pretty quickly that the “old way” to get Floyd out is no longer working, and maybe infielders and pitchers will attack him more straight up again.