Archive: May 6th, 2007

Yanks Sign Clemens, Mets Sign Lawrence

Brian Lawrence pitching for the PadresNot to be outdone by the crosstown Yanks, the New York Mets made their own big splash on Sunday, signing righthanded pitcher Brian Lawrence.

It’s interesting, actually, that the Mets beat the Yankees to Lawrence, considering that the “other” New York team is currently counting on pitchers named Darrel Rasner, Jake DeSalvo, and Chase Wright to fill out their rotation. Perhaps they were too preoccupied with the signing of the forty-something, retired / unretired guy from Texas.

What’s significant about the Lawrence signing is that the Mets likely made some kind of promise to him in regard to pitching in the big leagues. Lawrence began the season on the DL, and when he was eligible to come off, was sent on a rehab assignment with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. His numbers were not good — he started three games, allowed 32 hits in 19 innings, suffering through an 8.69 ERA (batters stroked .376 against him). Of course, it was a rehab assignment, so maybe he wasn’t throwing his full repertoire of pitches. Nonetheless, with numbers like that, it was surprising that Lawrence forced the issue and asked the Rockies to either promote him to the Major League roster or let him go. Considering that he did corner the Rockies into making a decision, and that the Tigers offered him a minor-league contract, it would make sense that the Mets gave him something signficant to sign on. Is Mike Pelfrey bound for New Orleans, for example?

Originally, Lawrence was signed to fill out the back-end of the Colorado rotation, and he pitched well enough in spring training to earn a spot. However, the Rockies wanted to be cautious with the righthander, as he was coming off surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and torn labrum. He was expected to join the team by May, but unfortunately for him, Josh Fogg (5.67 ERA) and Taylor Buchholz (8.04 ERA) proved to be diehard Jesus freaks, while Lawrence only attends church on Sundays. And faith is not something you can fake.

The big question is, do we care that Brian Lawrence is an option? Before the shoulder surgery that knocked out his 2006 season, he was an average pitcher who pitched a lot of innings, gave up a lot of hits, and won more than he lost only once in five big-league seasons (that one winning year was 15-14). Essentially, he’s a young Steve Trachsel, except that he hasn’t experienced anywhere near the success that Trax had (scary, isn’t it?).

I guess Lawrence is a better option than Chan Ho Park (or Jose Lima, for that matter), but what the Mets need is a bonafide, veteran relief pitcher — not another starter. Though, stockpiling starters is never a bad idea if you can get veterans to accept minor league assignments — especially after witnessing the epidemic the Yankees have suffered. Even if the Mets don’t find him useful, if he can put up decent numbers in AAA, they may be able to turn him over at the trade deadline. Remarkably, several teams expressed interest in the mediocre righty, including the Tigers, Orioles, Padres, and Mariners.


Mets Game 30: Loss to Diamondbacks

Diamondbacks 3 Mets 1

It had to happen eventually — the Mets couldn’t win EVERY game in Arizona.

Mike Pelfrey pitched another mixed bag game. On the one hand, he kept the Mets in the game by allowing just two runs in 5 and one-third innings. On the other hand, the bookends of his start — the first and sixth innings — were shaky and glaring reminders of his immaturity.

Pelfrey’s first inning jitters returned, as he walked two batters and looked to be aiming the ball. It was getting painful to watch him throw ball after ball — it couldn’t have been much easier for big Mikey to endure. In the end, he gave up only one run, but the entire inning was a struggle.

In the sixth, Pelfrey hit Eric Byrnes to start the inning, and he allowed him to steal second base on a 3-0 pitch to Stephen Drew. No doubt the advance scouts are putting in their reports the fact that it is easy to steal on Pelfrey, and we’ll see more teams take advantage as the season wears on. Eventually, Drew bounced a ball to second base to move Byrnes to third, bringing Carlos Quentin to the plate. Pelfrey quickly got ahead of Quentin 0-2, seemingly setting him up for the slider. However, Ramon Castro called for an inside fastball, and Pelfrey hit Quentin in the hip. That was an opportune situation for Pelfrey to grow as a pitcher — by striking out Quentin. Instead, he went backward a step, and was removed from the game. No one said it was going to be easy for him.

Mike Pelfrey continues to struggle in the early innings, but improves as the game wears on. One has to wonder, does it mean he needs to extend his pregame warmup routine? Is it a mental issue? He looks lost and confused in the first two innings, then settles down and does a nice job of hitting spots with the sinker. Each inning seems to feed his confidence, making me think it’s more a mental thing than anything.

By the way, how awesome must it be to be a raw young pitcher like Pelfrey, returning to the dugout between innings to be schooled by future Hall-of-Famer Tom Glavine? Not many other young pitchers have that kind of a resource at their disposal.

It’s too bad the Mets had their “Sunday afternoon” lineup in place for this game, as Pelfrey pitched well enough to earn his first win of the season. Unfortunately, he’s now 0-4, which can’t be much of a confidence booster — for a kid in dire need of confidence.

The only Mets run came on a single by Ramon Castro in the fourth. Otherwise, the bats were lackluster, other than two hits — including one double — by Endy Chavez.


Despite hitting an opposite-field homer in this series, David Wright is not yet out of his slump. He’s still swinging with an uppercut, causing him to get beat on pitches inside and popping balls up. Swinging with a lift turns Wright from a tough out into an ordinary hitter with vulnerable holes in his swing.

Shawn Green has done a great job of seeing the ball and getting himself into good counts all year, but in this game he looked really locked in. Earlier in the season, he looked like he was constantly thinking, trying to figure something out. But against Livan Hernandez, he had a look on his face that exuded extreme confidence: a man with a plan. If Wright continues to struggle, Willie may consider moving Green up in the lineup while he’s swinging a hot stick.

Something that may have gotten lost in the boxscore, but was a major disappointment, came in the top of the seventh inning. Down 3-1 with one out, pinch-hitter Damion Easley worked a walk. Jose Reyes then took a defensive swing at the first pitch, which was low and outside. The result was a weak foul fly ball that Eric Byrnes caught for the second out. Endy Chavez followed by swinging at the first pitch — once again, low and outside — and bounced weakly to first base. Why both Reyes and Chavez were swinging at the first pitch, down by two so late in the game, against Livan Hernandez — who might have been starting to tire — defies comprehension. Their over-aggressiveness effectively erased a good at-bat by the veteran Easley, and instead of getting Hernandez on the ropes, they handed him an easy inning.

Lino Urdaneta finally has an ERA, albeit a very high one. He pitched two-thirds of an inning without allowing a run.

Jose Reyes dove to stop a ground ball by Quentin, then threw a one-hop bullet to Delgado — from a seated position. Reyes snapped off the ball while sitting back on his butt, and still got Quentin by several steps.

Ruben Gotay made some flashy plays at second base, including two glove flips. The first was shuffled to Delgado after he charged a slow grounder, the second came on a miraculous backhand stop behind second base that Reyes bobbled. Had Reyes caught the ball cleanly, it no doubt would have been an ESPN web gem. Gotay also had a very good at-bat in the top of the ninth against Jose Valverde, which culminated in a searing line drive right at second baseman Orlando Hudson. The Mets may have something here with Gotay.

Next Game

Oliver Perez takes the hill in San Francisco against Barry Zito. It’s a 10:15 PM EST start. Man I hate the late-night, Left Coast games.