Archive: May 16th, 2007

Mets Game 39: Win over Cubs

Mets 8 Cubs 1

Jorge Sosa pumps his fist after the last out of the seventh inningWill Jorge Sosa ever fall back to Earth?

Sosa breezed through seven shutout innings, allowing one hit, two walks and striking out five before running out of gas on his 96th pitch in the 8th.

Speaking of people playing over their head, Damion Easley hit another homerun — a two-run job, just to the left of the bleachers, of course — to put the Mets ahead 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth. Earlier, Easley scored the Mets’ second run on a sac fly by David Wright in the second. The first Met run was also the first Major League RBI for Carlos Gomez, which came on a Texas Leaguer into rightfield that scored Shawn Green.

Gomez collected his second big league ribbie in the seventh, this time on a legit two-bagger down the leftfield line that scored David Wright. That run capped a three-run inning for the Mets, and included an RBI double by Wright, a sac fly by Paul LoDuca, and a


In the bottom of the 7th, with a 6-0 lead, Shawn Green hit a weak bouncer to the second baseman. It was a routine grounder, but Green hustled down the line like it was the last out of the World Series. That’s one of the reasons I truly enjoy watching Green — and this Mets team. These guys — young and old, ahead or behind, in conditions wet or dry — play the game the way it is supposed to be played. Rarely will you see a Mets player “dog it”.

Wright was 2-for-3 on the night with 2 RBI and an SB and has lifted his average to .276. He’s officially hot.

Carlos Delgado went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base. He is officially tepid.

Joe Smith will not be the recipient of any steak dinners courtesy of Jorge Sosa. For the second time, Smith allowed an inherited runner to score — a run charged to Sosa.

Jose Reyes had two hits but limped out of the game after his second hit in the 8th. Hopefully it was just a muscle cramp or something similarly minor.

Billy Wagner wrapped up the game with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Every Met in the lineup — other than Sosa — had at least one hit.

Next Game

Thursday afternoon’s 1:10 PM game has Angel Guzman pitching for the Cubs against the Mystery Met. Most signs point to Jason Vargas.


Lino Urdaneta Suspended

Steroid needle has punctured the Mets againHmm … what a coincidence …

Only a few days after the New York Mets demoted Lino Urdaneta to New Orleans, MLB suspended Urdaneta 50 games for violating the substance-abuse policy.

Public Relations man Jay Horwitz has done a marvelous job of glazing over various negative image issues lately, and may need to work overtime in managing the damage control for this one. The timing couldn’t be worse — just a few weeks after the Kirk Radomski bombshell (which includes an inquiry of Fernando Tatis), a few weeks before Guillermo Mota returns from HIS suspension, and in the midst of the debut album produced by “L Millz“.

It’s a good thing the Mets are doing well … winning tends to cover the blemishes. Hopefully Horwitz can skate the Mets organization through this latest public relations disaster without too much distraction to the team.


Who Is Jake Gautreau?

Jake Gautreau with the Padres organizationOmar Minaya made his first trade of 2007, sending a player to be named and cash considerations to the Cleveland Indians for AAA infielder Jake Gautreau.

Ho hum.

So who is Jake Gautreau and why do we care?

First, let’s understand the point of this deal: it was made, essentially, because the Mets promoted Ruben Gotay and finally gave up on infielder Chase Lambin (Lambin was released on April 24th). With Gotay on the 25-man roster, the Mets are a little shorthanded in regard to middle infielders in New Orleans. What this deal suggests is that the Mets are committing to Gotay as Easley’s caddy — and that a trade for a second baseman probably won’t be happening. Or, it means that if there is a deal for a 2B, Gotay could be part of it (to the Orioles as part of a package for Brian Roberts?).

As for Gautreau, he was once a highly touted, power-hitting third baseman for Tulane, and Baseball America had high praise for him prior to the 2001 draft:

“With Georgia Tech’s Mark Teixeira sidelined for most of the spring, Gautreau emerged as arguably the best all-around hitter in college baseball. He entered NCAA tournament play as the Division I leader in RBIs (84) and the Conference USA leader in homers (20). He has passed the wood-bat test, hitting .348 with power as Team USA’s first baseman last summer. That might be Gautreau’s position as a pro as well, though Tulane coaches can’t figure out why scouts knock his third-base defense. He lacks speed, but he has the hands and arm for the hot corner. The two-time Conference USA player of the year could go in the first five picks, but he’s more likely to be a mid-first-rounder.”

Jake Gautreau playing third base for TulaneWow … mentioned in the same breath as Mark Teixeira. As it was, “Jake the Rake” was eventually the first-round pick of the Padres (14th overall) and signed to a $1.875M bonus. Baseball America touted him as the third-best “pure hitter – college” in the draft (some guy named David Wright was ranked the third-best “pure hitter – high school” in that same analysis). In 2002, Gautreau was ranked #77 in BA’s “Top 100 Prospects” in 2002, with an expected ETA of 2004. Yet, here we are in 2007, and he has yet to make his big league debut. What happened?

Part of Gautreau’s lack of progress was due to circumstance. With Sean Burroughs and Phil Nevin ahead of him on the depth chart at 3B, and scouts critical of his defense, the Padres converted him to second base. However, the emergence of Josh Barfield (taken in the 4th round of that same 2001 draft) blocked Gautreau’s path again, and the Padres found themselves with a surplus at the position.

Committing to Bafield, San Diego shopped Gautreau at the trade deadline in July of 2004, and nearly sent him to Texas in return for Brad Fullmer, but the deal was nixed when Fullmer went on the DL with a knee injury. On February 12, 2005, the Padres sent Gautreau to the Indians in return for 3B/OF Corey Smith.

But bad luck wasn’t exactly Gautreau’s issue; other than dominating short-season rookie ball in his first pro season — earning him a promotion all the way to AAA — Gautreau has not put up the offensive numbers everyone predicted. He hit .286 at class A Lake Elsinore in 2002, with 10 homers and 20 doubles in 390 at-bats, but was overmatched in AA Mobile for the next two years. Maybe part of it was being shuffled from third base to second base, and some of it was due to medical issues; he played through an elbow injury in 2003 and also suffered from ulcerative colitis in both 2002 and 2003.

Since being in the Indians organization, however, he has regressed to non-prospect status. At AAA Buffalo in 2005, Gautreau hit .253 with a .322 OBP and .454. SLG with 18 homeruns in 427 at-bats — not much to get excited about. His 2006 season was cut short due to injury, but wasn’t going so well anyway — a .198 average in 248 at-bats.

Again, much of Gautreau’s performance could be tied to medical issues. He missed significant time in 2006 due to multiple injuries and more intestinal problems, and has not yet played in 2007 after being treated for skin cancer. (Visit this Portland Beavers archive for a full interview that details some of his physical problems).

If Gautreau’s medical problems are the main reason he hasn’t fulfilled his lofty potential, the question is, will he ever be healthy enough to contribute to the Mets? Maybe not, but Omar Minaya hasn’t given up anything to make this a risky proposition. There are no expectations for Gautreau, and if he can stay healthy, and recover that once-mighty swing, he could be a surprise. In short, a low-risk, high-reward — a typical Minaya deal.


Mets Game 38: Loss to Cubs

Cubs 10 Mets 1

It was an ugly game from start to finish.

John Maine was awful, and though he allowed “only” three runs in five innings, he pitched much worse than that. After three innings, he’d already thrown 72 pitches, so the fact he went as far as he did is a miracle in itself. His command was way off — he walked four, and went into deep counts on nearly every hitter — and often had to serve up straight fastballs to avoid more walks. As a result, when the Cubs weren’t walking they were teeing off — even the outs were hard line drives to the outfield.

Remarkably, though, Maine kept the Mets in the game, and indeed the contest was still very much within the grasp of the Shea Men; Maine exited behind 3-1. Unfortunately, Willie Randolph made the stupefying decision to bring in Scott Schoeneweis to pitch the sixth — the entire sixth. However, the LOOGY was spent after the first batter, and 29 pitches later the Cubs lead swelled to an insurmountable 7-1. Aaron Sele — the guy who should have started the inning (if not Amby Burgos) — rushed to get ready in the pen, but all he could do was throw gasoline on the fire. By the end of the inning, the Cubs were ahead 9-1, and the fans at Shea who weren’t heading for the #7 train were ordering the maximum two beers at a time.

It’s not even worth going into the details … if you’re a sadist and must know exactly what happened I suggest you visit our friends at BleedCubbieBlue.


The one bright spot on the Mets offense was Shawn Green, who went 2-for-3 with a double and a solo homer to centerfield. Though Green had been 1 for his last 18, he’d only struck out twice in that time and a number of his outs were bullets right at people — so his timing was still on and his stroke fine.

Carlos Delgado was hit by a Carlos Zambrano pitch in the sixth and mashed his pinky; he’s getting X-rays and is day-to-day. I wonder if Randolph will consider playing Green at first and Carlos Gomez in right field, if Delgado isn’t ready by Thursday’s game?

There isn’t any other noteworthy event to mention.

Next Game

Jorge Sosa will try the voo-doo he picked up in N’awlins while Rich Hill takes the hill for the Cubs. Game time is 7:10 PM.