Archive: May 7th, 2007

Mets Game 31: Loss to Giants

Giants 9 Mets 4

Oliver Perez didn’t deserve this.

Ollie pitched very well through the first four innings, cruising like the ace he seemed to be evolving into.

Then came frame five.

The fifth inning began as a comedy of errors, and ended a nightmare. It began with a walk to Ray Durham, and got silly with a botched homerun call by the umpiring crew on a fly ball off the wall by Bengie Molina. If called correctly, it would have put runners on second and third, the Mets still up by a run, and Ollie may not have lost his sh*t. However, that one awful call had a domino effect.

To start, two runs — instead of none — scored on the faux homer by Molina. However, that wasn’t the worst of it; it was only the beginning. Perez rebounded momentarily, but didn’t pitch particularly well, giving up hard line shot outs to Pedro Feliz and Todd Linden. It was more a matter of getting lucky that those batters hit the ball right at somebody. Still, Ollie had a great chance to escape the inning allowing only the two runs, as Barry Zito came up next. However, Zito hit a line drive single up the middle, his second career hit. Randy Winn followed with a ground ball to the glove of Damion Easley, who booted it to extend the inning. Then Omar Vizquel hit a fly ball to rightfield that Shawn Green seemed to have a bead on, but the ball bounced off his glove — extending the inning one more batter as well as allowing a run to score. Rich Aurilia followed with a homerun to left, prompting Rick Peterson to finally emerge from his bird’s nest and have a few words with Perez (about four batters too late). The Jacket apparently didn’t tell him anything useful, because Ollie walked Barroid Bonds on four pitches, then gave up a single to Ray Durham. That was enough for Willie Randolph, who brought in Lino Urdaneta, who proceeded to give up a 3-run homer — this one legit — to Bengie Molina. By the time Urdaneta got Feliz to ground out to third, the Giants had scored nine runs on five hits (two homers) and two errors. Seven of the runs scored after there were two outs.

The Mets thought they could do the same thing in the top of the next inning, waiting until there were two outs to mount a rally. However, all they could muster were two runs, though one of them came through semi-comedic means. Paul LoDuca scored from third when Damion Easley waved at a third-strike curveball that bounced to the wall behind Bengie Molina.


David Wright might want to either change his bat, or add a nice little bat company (such as Akadema) to his list of investments. Wright broke seven sticks over the last two games. That’s what happens when you are too slow in throwing the bat head out on inside pitches. The most alarming issue is that Barry Zito’s 82-MPH pussball broke three of David’s bats.

Barry Bonds survived another day without his HGH-inflated head over-inflating to the point of self-combustion. It is frightening to think what might happen to innocent bystanders from the flying shrapnel of his skull if the eruption occurs in a public place.

Next Game

Tom Glavine will attempt to win his 294th game at some ungodly hour on Tuesday night / early Wednesday morning. We expect that Matt Cain’s abel to take the hill for the Giants.


Series Preview: Mets vs. Giants

Barry Zito responds after being asked how many runs the Mets will scoreComing off three wins in Arizona, the Mets find themselves in the same spot as before the Left Coast trip started: tied with the Braves for first place.

They now have a three game set against the San Francisco Giants before returning to Shea Stadium and games that end before the Dunkin Donuts guy heads out to make the doughnuts.

Game One: Oliver Perez vs. Barry Zito

As Mets fans, we walk on egg shells every time an Oliver Perez start approaches. Is he really the dominating guy of 2004, the one who threw 20 consecutive strikes against the Braves one fine Saturday afternoon at Shea? Is he the stopper that keeps the Mets out of losing streaks, such as his win over the Marlins that prevented a sweep? Or is he still prone to meltdowns, such as the seven-walk affair against the Phillies in Game Eight? What we do know, is that when he’s “on”, he’s awesome. When he’s not, there’s no in-between — he’s godawful.

Meantime, the “other” Barry on the Giants is not quite earning his paycheck just yet. He has a fine 3.52 ERA but only two wins against three losses. Not quite what you’d expect of someone with a nine-digit contract.

Barry Zito is a soft-tosser along the lines of Tom Glavine, except that he has one of the most devastating 12-6 overhand curveballs in the game. If the curve ain’t working, however, Zito can get into trouble in a hurry. Considering that the Mets batters — particularly Carlos Beltran — are put into fits by curveball artists, it could be a long night for the offense. Actually, it would be a pretty short night, now that I think of it.

One other caveat: though Zito is a longtime Major Leaguer, he’s never faced the Mets. Therefore, the Wandy Rodriguez Effect is in his favor.

Game Two: Tom Glavine vs. Matt Cain

Will Glavine ever get to career win #294? This will be try #5, and one would think the big 3-oh-oh is starting to become a unclimbable wall in his mind.

While Glavine works with his inner demons, the Mets batters will be facing one of the top young righthanders in the game in Matt Cain. Cain is the young version of Jason Schmidt — and in fact the reason Schmidt became expendable after the 2006 season. His hard sinker and sharp curve can be devastating at times, but as a youngster he can also beat himself at times. The Mets’ best approach would be one of patience, as he can fall into control lapses and pitch-limit himself out of the ballgame early.

Game Three: John Maine vs. Matt Morris

What can we say? John Maine is right now one of the hottest pitchers in all of baseball. Let’s hope he keeps it that way in the Frisco Bay.

Matt Morris is the guy that Matt Cain could evolve into if he doesn’t become the next Jason Schmidt: a guy with a lot of talent who falls too much in love with his curveball, tries to strike out too many hitters instead of pitching to contact, and ten years later has people shaking their heads saying, “what happened to this guy on his way to several Cy Young Awards?”.

At one time, Morris was a 22-game winner, and the ace of a staff that included Chris Carpenter. Today, he is a shell of his former self, but still picking around the plate and not challenging hitters with his sinking fastball. That said, it would be silly of the Mets hitters to be aggressive against him; given time, he’ll pitch himself out of the game.

For a much more detailed and insightful overview of the Giants’ starters, head over to MetsGeek.

Mets Hitters

Reading the above capsules, it’s obvious that the team hitting approach should be one of patience. All of the Giants starters in this series are prone to bouts of wildness, and will walk themselves out of ballgames. As always, everything starts with Jose Reyes — he sets the tone. If Reyes can show some patience in his first at-bat of the game, perhaps draw a walk, the rest of the lineup will likely follow suit, slowly wearing down the starter. Looking at the Giants’ bullpen, anchored by closer Armando Benitez, it doesn’t take a genius to buy into such an approach. The earlier the Mets can get into the San Francisco bullpen, the better their chances of winning a game.

Giants Hitter

Barry Bonds is back on HGH and performing at his unrealistic, Gameboy-like levels. The key to keeping Barroid from hurting the Mets is to throw strikes to the hitters ahead of him — none of which are serious threats. If Bonds comes to the plate with a base open, I’d much rather see a Met pitcher plunk him than waste energy on four balls. Naturally, the ball would not be able to penetrate the various shields of armor worn by the sissy slugger, but there’s a good chance he’d react in a fit of ‘roid rage and get himself tossed from the game.

On second thought, it’s probably better that the SNAC poster boy stays in the game — it’ll be much easier for the Mets to get base hits against only two outfielders.


Ricky Ledee Next in Line

Ricky Ledee of the New Orleans ZephyrsHow did it ever come to this?

After the Mets made Moises Alou their first, and most significant, free agent signing, the next thing Omar Minaya did was make sure he had plenty of horses behind the fragile Alou. As good as Alou is, it would have been wishful thinking — or downright stupidity — to expect Moises to play in more than 100 – 125 games. It’s hard to get any 40-year-old to play more than that (though HGH might help), much less someone like Alou, who already has multiple ailments and gives his body a daily beating with his all-out play.

Knowing that, Minaya wasn’t going to count on just Lastings Milledge to be the fill-in. He made sure to have a backup plan (Ben Johnson), and a backup to the backup plan (David Newhan), and one more emergency backup (Damion Easley). And if that wasn’t enough, he made sure to sign Chip Ambres, who played about half a season with the Kansas City Royals as their starting centerfielder.

Even after all that planning, here it is in early May and it looks very possible that the next outfielder the Mets promote is Ricky Ledee.

Hopefully, it won’t come to that. Maybe all Moises needs to do is drain his right knee, get some kind of shot, and he’ll be good to go in a few days.

If not, however, and Alou needs to be placed on the DL, guess who’s most likely to join the Mets?

Ricky Luh – DEE.

That’s because Blastings Thrilledge — the first man in line — is out indefinitely with a foot injury, the second man in line, Ben Johnson, is on the DL since spraining his shoulder in mid-April, and top prospect Carlos Gomez isn’t quite ready for prime time. Which means that if an outfielder is to be brought up, it’s between Chip Ambres and Ricky Ledee. Ledee (.266) is batting six points higher than Ambres (.260), but that’s not why he’ll get the call. The real reason is Willie Randolph, who has some illogical trust and bond in the talentless journeyman.

Though he never panned out as the superstar, 5-tool player the Yankees hyped him as, Ricky Ledee must have done something in his 192-game career in the Bronx (6-for-10 in the ’98 World Series?), because it had a lasting impression on then-coach Willie Randolph. Ledee’s most productive season came as a 26-year-old, when he bounced from the Yankees to the Indians to the Rangers and batted .236 with 13 homeruns and 77 RBI in 467 at-bats. Since that year, he’s meandered around the National League as a fifth outfielder and pinch-hitter, producing a .246 career batting average. His main role with the bat is underwhelming; he’s hit .213 as a pinch-hitter over the last three years. Similarly, his glove is adequate at best in this stage of his career, and though once fleet of foot, is not much of an advantage on the bases (though he won’t necessarily clog them). Plainly put, the 33-year-old Ricky Ledee is an all-around, average to below-average player, offering no one particularly strong tool. In other words, he’s Karim Garcia minus the off-field problems with alcohol — or, another “good guy to have in the clubhouse”.

Luckily, if Alou does go on the DL and Ledee is promoted, chances are slim he’d do more than occasionally pinch-hit. Ruben Gotay looks strong enough defensively to allow Easley to platoon with Endy Chavez and/or David Newhan while Alou recovers. And who knows, maybe I’m way off base here. Perhaps the Mets are looking to promote the swift-running Ambres — to have as a pinch-running option — or maybe they’re thinking about bringing up Andy Tracy or Fernando Tatis to give David Wright an occasional breather at third base. With Endy, Newhan, and Easley around, it’s not a necessity to replace Alou on the roster with another outfielder.

Of course, the best thing would be for Moises to not go on the DL. Maybe he can stave off the pain until Thrilledge or Johnson are healed.