Archive: May 23rd, 2007

Mets Game 45: Win over Braves

Mets 3 Braves 0

Willie Randolph was not happy with the productivity of his lineup, so he shook things up.

Mets pitcher Oliver Perez leaps over the baseline after an inningWith Shawn Green in the two hole, David Wright batting cleanup, Paul LoDuca behind him in the fifth spot, Carlos Delgado dropped to sixth, and Carlos Gomez batting eighth, the Mets managed to score three runs in the first five innings.

But that wasn’t the only unusual move by Willie. Normally a slave to the 100-pitch count, Randolph allowed Oliver Perez to start the seventh inning, despite having thrown 107 pitches through the initial six. Ollie rewarded the decision by pitching a scoreless seventh, expending 15 pitches in the process. His outing finished up like this: 7 innings, 4 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, 122 pitches, 81 for strikes.

His stellar pitching was supported by a Mets offense that got back to the basics: taking pitches, getting on base, and executing fundamental situational hitting (placing bunts, hitting behind the runner, etc.). The first run was manufactured in the third inning by a Jose Reyes walk, single by Green, and a double steal that resulted in Reyes scoring when the throw to second base by Atlanta catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia bounced off second baseman Martin Prado’s leg. In the fourth, Paul LoDuca, Carlos Delgado, and Damion Easley hit consecutive singles to load the bases, and Carlos Gomez popped a sacrifice fly to score Loduca. The Mets scored their third and final run in the fifth when D-Wright went down and fished out a pitch on the outside of the plate, below his knees, and drove it over the 380 mark in leftfield.

After Perez pitched his seven stellar innings, Mighty Joe Smith came on to pitch a perfect eighth, striking out Edgar Renteria and Chipper Jones swinging and inducing a groundout from Jeff Francoeur.

Billy Wagner finished things up by striking out two for this 11th save in 11 tries. Remarkable that Bobby Cox allowed Chris Woodward to face Wagner as the last out in the game.


Paul LoDuca remains red-hot, stroking an opposite-field single and pulling a double down the leftfield line.

The drop in the lineup did some good for Carlos Delgado, as he had two hits — one to left-center and the other to left. It was absolutely baffling to see the Braves infielders all lined up to the right of second base when Delgado came up, yet also see the pitcher continously pound the outside part of the plate. Kind of counterintuitive, dontcha think?

You have to like the hustle and raw talent of Carlos Gomez. However, he’s defintely a product of the Dominican adage, “you don’t walk off the island (you hit your way off of it)”. Gomez swings at just about everything he can reach — and he manages to make contact. When and if he learns to be a bit more selective, he’ll be a bonafide superstar. If he doesn’t … well, Vlad Guerrero and Jeff Francoeur have done OK with a similar approach.

Something I’ve noticed about Oliver Perez in his last two starts: when in the windup, he often makes an exaggerated pause at the top of his leg lift, getting his balance and gathering his power, before exploding to the plate. Watch closely and you’ll see what I’m talking about. When he makes the pause, he seems to be in more control of his body, and has a more controlled follow-through. If he doesn’t take the pause, the pitch is rushed, and he ends up flailing out toward third base. I wonder if Rick Peterson has established the top of his leg lift as a checkpoint, and is helping Ollie stay consistent with his mechanics.

Lately, Jose Reyes is being overly aggressive on 1-0 and 1-1 counts, particularly with runners on base. As a result, he’s chasing pitches he should be taking — balls that could be putting him into very favorable 2-0 and 2-1 counts. Instead, he’s digging himself into 1-2 holes and having to take defensive swings. He’ll need to get back to his patient ways with runners on if he’s going to continue driving up the RBI total.

Perez, by the way, touched 95 a few times during the game. That’s gas, and nearly unhittable with his movement.

Next Game

Tom Glavine goes for win #296 while John Smoltz tries for #200. MetsToday reader Sincekindergarten believes that Glavine is too proud and too competitive to allow best friend Smoltzie to win his 200th against him. Let’s hope he’s right. Game time is 7:35 PM.


And the Winner is …

Congratulations to Paulie K of Staten Island — he’s the winner of the MetsToday ticket giveaway!

Paulie — better known as “Walnutz15” for those who roam the boards — successfully answered all four questions and had the lucky ping-pong ball (strangely, the first three balls all had the NY Knicks logo) that won him the tickets.

Thanks again to all who participated, and be sure to subscribe to the site updates via RSS or email to ensure you are aware of the next time I raffle off Mets tickets.


Contest Closed!

Lola the Italian Greyhound in Mets jersey at SheaThe contest to win two tickets to next Tuesday’s game between the Mets and Giants has closed. The winner has been contacted via email to confirm that he/she will be able to go to the game.

For everyone sitting on the edge of your seat, here are the answers to the questions:

1. Hobie Landrith was the starting catcher in the first game in Mets history. Who was the Mets’ starting catcher in their second game?

Joe Ginsberg

2. Name one item from the “Kitchen Stuff” section of the “Hand-picked MetsToday Store”.

anything from the Kitchen Stuff section was acceptable

3. What is the name of my dog, and what is the breed type?

her name is Lola (she is a show girl …) and she is an Italian Greyhound

4. Who is the “Baby-faced Assassin?”

Danny Graves

Thanks to everyone who participated … it was a lot of fun to read everyone’s “creative” answers. Hopefully we’ll be able to do this again soon.


Will Ruben Gotay Play?

The New York Mets' Damion Easley trots around the bases after hitting a homerunSomeone should introduce Willie Randolph to the skinny kid wearing #6, and let Willie know that the kid plays his old position — second base. Because it’s apparent that Mr. Randolph is unaware that there is someone other than Damion Easley capable of manning the keystone.

Let’s get one thing straight: I’m supportive of Easley, and feel he has a place on this Mets 2007 team. However, I’m certain that his place is NOT as an everyday second sacker.

The last time Easley was an everyday player was in 2001, when he was 31 years old. At that time, his bat started to slow, his already limited range was becoming more glaring, and his previously above-average speed reduced to average. It’s now six years later, and all of those statements continue to ring true. If performance-enhancing drugs were still allowed in MLB, Easley might have a fighting chance. Perhaps, while the Mets play in Florida this weekend, he can try visiting the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine. But the way things stand now, Easley’s bat and legs are slower than they were six years ago, and his fielding is inadequate at best. With his all-around average skills, experience, and occasional pop in the bat, Damion Easley is perfect for the role that he signed on for: super-sub and pinch-hitter.

Yet, Willie Randolph continues to write Easley’s name on the lineup card night after night. Sure, he’s hit 7 homeruns this year — great output for a second baseman — but the bombs do not make up for all of Easley’s shortcomings. Putting him in the lineup because he might hit a homerun is not typical Willie strategy (though it does resemble Joe Torre’s style), which makes this all the more mysterious.

How many more balls need to scoot through the right side of the infield? How many more times does Easley have to botch a routine play? How many more weak ground balls and popups must we witness before Ruben Gotay is given some reps at second base?

It’s understandable that Willie wants to play Easley while he’s swinging a hot bat. But the fact is, his bat isn’t THAT hot. He’s batting .268 in the month of May, with 5 homeruns and 12 RBI. His other ten hits were singles, his OBP is .333, and he’s scored 9 runs. Other than the homers, not much to get excited about. Here’s something else: remove his 3-hit, 4-RBI game against the Brewers — which the Mets won 9-1 — and his batting average plummets to .235, homers go down to 4 and RBI down to 8.

Meanwhile, rotting on the bench is 24-year-old Gotay — he of the slick glove, fast feet, and more than adequate bat. Right now, he’s batting .240 with a .269 OBP — hardly impressive, for sure, but his playing time is limited to pinch-hitting appearances and occasional starts on weekday afternoons. If given the chance, Gotay probably won’t hit a homerun every 11 at-bats the way Easley has, but he has the skills to surpass Easley in every other offensive and defensive category.

Further, it makes sense to play Gotay to thwart the two-sided destruction Carlos Delgado is inflicting on the team lately. First, Delgado on defense looks like a man whose feet are stuck in cement; putting Damion Easley at second merely widens the chasm for grounders to poke through. While Gotay is no Anderson Hernandez, he’s certainly at least two steps better than Easley, and should be able to turn some of those dribblers into outs — this is especially vital when Tom Glavine is on the mound. Secondly, Delgado’s extended slump means the Mets need to make things happen on offense, rather than wait for the homerun. I guess this is part of why Easley’s bat is constantly in the lineup — Willie’s hoping the homers keep coming — but it goes against what Randolph has built over the last two years. Gotay can bunt, hit-and-run, and steal, and has enough speed to avoid hitting into double plays. In other words, he can make things happen, and fits into Willie’s aggressive style of play; think of him as another Endy Chavez.

Again, I have nothing personal against Damion Easley, and in fact think he’s a great piece of the team. However, playing him every day — when there is a skilled and viable option available — makes little sense and is detrimental to long-range success. The more he plays, the more he’s exposed — and the more rusty Ruben Gotay gets on the bench. As long as Easley is popping the ball over the fence, it’s fine to play him 3-4 times a week, at most. He’ll get needed rest to stay fresh but still have his timing, and his inadequecies won’t be so obvious. But believing he’s an everyday player is unfair to him, to Gotay, and the pitching staff — and in the end, all of those players will suffer, as well as the team overall.


Win Mets Tickets: 2 Hours Left!

If you haven’t yet entered the contest to win 2 tickets to the May 29th game between the Mets and Giants at Shea, you have until 4pm today (May 23) to enter.

Once again, it’s a 7:10 PM start at Shea next Tuesday, the two tickets are in the Loge, section 20.

To enter the contest, you must answer the four questions and fill out contact details here: Mets Contest.

All entries with correct answers have a chance to win.

Good Luck !


Giambi Fails Test

Jason Giambi in pinstripesThe most-tested baseball player on the East Coast apparently failed.

Jason Giambi reportedly failed an amphetamines test sometime within the last year.

The Daily News reported that after the failed amphetamines test, Giambi is subjected to six additional tests for one year. We suppose that would explain why Giambi would blurt out that he was “probably tested more than anybody else,” to USA Today.

The Daily News did not cite any sources in its report, and Giambi refused comment.