Browsing Archive May, 2007

Inside Look: Florida Marlins

Florida Marlins Manager Fredi Gonzalez argues with the umpireMuch about the Marlins has changed since the last time the Mets faced them. They’re beginning to take on a new character under first-year manager Fredi Gonzalez. We asked Craig Strain from the popular Florida Marlins blog FishStripes to offer some insight on the young, up-and-coming team.

1. What is your opinion of Fredi Gonzalez? How does his style differ from Joe Girardi’s? Do you think Gonzalez is a good fit for the current Marlins players?

I think Fredi is doing a good job but he is still getting his feet wet as a rookie manager. The problem that has happened so far is that the team has had a lot injuries this season. It’s one thing to be first-time manager. It is completely another to be one when the personnel keeps changing. Fredi has handled the situation about as good as can be expected.

Girardi was an introvert and a strict disciplinarian. He was basically a drill sergeant in style. Fredi is an extrovert and his more like everyone’s favorite uncle.

Gonzalez appears to relate well with the players and by all accounts, I have seen, they enjoy playing for him. Also, he gets along real well with the front office which is something Girardi never did.

2. Today, the closer appears to be Kevin Gregg. How long will that last, and who are the other options? Will Byung-Hun Kim be considered, or is he more needed in the rotation?

te>Gregg will be the closer for some time to come. When Owens returns, possibly this weekend, he will be worked in slowly and could regain the closer’s role later in the season. Gregg is very versatile, he has the ability to start, if necessary. If Owens shows he is back to form, then Gregg could end up being more valuable in another role. Other options to close are Lindstrom, Tankersley and maybe Messenger if Gregg falters and Owens is not ready.

Kim will stay in the rotation for now and he wants to be a starter. Eventually, hopefully, some the starters return from the DL and if they are up to speed Kim will be bullpen-bound. No one has mentioned him as a closer candidate, at this point. And assuming the closer at the time is getting the job done, I doubt he will unseat them from the position.

3. Some Mets fans were unhappy to see Henry Owens and Matt Lindstrom go to the Marlins during the offseason. Have they impressed you? (I realize Owens is hurt now)

I am very impressed by the two pitchers. Owens was the Marlins closer before going on the DL and he was doing an excellent job before the injury. Lindstrom has promise written all over him and he is really improving as a pitcher. Initially he was just relying solely on his fastball and as you know velocity isn’t enough by itself. But as the season has gone on, he is gaining confidence in his breaking stuff, mixing his pitches, and becoming more effective.

4. Randy Messenger pitched a key inning against the Mets the last time these two teams met. Has he been as dominant since? Who else do you trust out of the bullpen?

Contrary to what the Mets announcers were saying last night and the ninth inning disaster aside, the bullpen has been very effective this season. Although they are seeing way too much work so far, but the starters are getting their act together and going deeper in the games recently. Now that Jorge Julio is gone, I don’t cringe when any of the relievers take the mound.

6. The Marlins are 6 1/2 back at this point, but there is plenty of season left. What will be the key for them to rise to the top of the standings?

Get healthy and stay that way. The Marlins have 60 percent of last year’s rotation presently on the DL. Not to mention they are joined there by the closer, the starting first baseman, two other relievers, the starting and backup center fielder. Last year’s right fielder just recently returned to the club.

It has been the season of the injury thus far. The fact that the Marlins are hovering around .500 is a testament to depth of their bench and the organization in general.

If the team can get all the players back, then they could make a run for the playoffs. But honestly, I’ve seen no signs of this happening.

Thanks again to Craig for his thoughts. Be sure to visit FishStripes to get all the scoop on the Florida Marlins.


Mets Game 47: Win over Marlins

Mets 6 Marlins 2

New York Mets pitcher Orlando El Duque Herandez pitching against the MarlinsThis game was a lot closer than the final score tells. In the end, it was the Mets who were a little less lazy than the Marlins.

For seven innings, there was no score, as Orlando Hernandez and Sergio Mitre traded goose eggs. El Duque, in his first start since April 24th, was magnificent, pitching six shutout innings and allowing only two hits, walking none, and striking out four. After allowing a base hit to Alfredo Amezaga in the first, Hernandez retired the next 17 consecutive batters. Ironically, it was Amezaga again who broke the streak, singling in the sixth. If Reggie Abercrombie started in center, El Duque might have pitched a no-hitter.

Mitre was not nearly as dominating as El Duque, but kept the Mets from scoring. He allowed 8 hits and a walk in 7 2/3 innings, striking out 8. The Mets might have scored at least twice — had they hustled. Maybe it was a combination of getting into Florida at three in the morning and then having to deal with the heat and humidity, but whatever the case, the Mets did not come to the game ready to compete at a high level. They were lackadaisacal, both in the field and at bat. Perhaps the ban on greenies is having a negative effect on the sport?

The most glaring example came in the seventh inning. David Wright led off, and bounced a ball down the first base line. At first, it looked as though it would roll foul, but eventually took a funny hop and found its way into first baseman Aaron Boone’s glove. Wright did not run out of the box, assuming it a foul ball, and was put out easily. The next batter, Carlos Delgado, mashed a ball off the leftfield fence, but because he had not been running hard, was thrown out at second base. Replays showed that Delgado got his hand in, but the fact was, it shouldn’t have been that close; had Delgado run hard out of the box and through first base, he’d have gotten to second standing. Right there the Mets should have been up by one, because even if Wright had not scored on Delgado’s double, the red-hot Paul LoDuca followed with a base hit that might have scored both Wright and Delgado.

As if that weren’t enough, in the bottom of the next inning, Carlos Beltran slipped and fell while tracking down a line drive off the bat of Miguel Olivo. Fine, that happens, but Beltran’s lazy reaction to hunt down the ball allowed Olivo to get to third, and he eventually scored the tying run (at the time) on a sac fly.

Luckily, the Mets woke up in the 9th, scoring five runs, topped off by a Beltran double with the bases loaded that scored two runs. Until then, though, it could have gone either way.

Billy Wagner had a very shaky ninth to finish the game; Aaron Heilman — who allowed the tying run to score in the 8th — stole his fifth win.


Two remarkably nonsensical moves by Willie Randolph: first, he leaves Damion Easley in the game in the ninth inning while Ruben Gotay’s much better glove rests on the bench. As a result, Easley was too slow in charging a ground ball by Olivo, and allowed Olivo to earn an infield hit. Granted, the hit meant nothing, but that’s not the point; why wasn’t Gotay in the game?

Secondly, the decision to allow Wagner to pitch the ninth. Historically, Wagner does not do well with big leads, for whatever reason. Once the Mets jumped ahead by five, Wagner should have sat down and Amby Burgos or Aaron Sele gotten warm. I understand the timing issue, but there would have been enough time to get Burgos ready — he’s a professional, for goodness sakes. Instead, Wagner went out there in a non-save situation, ended up tossing 32 pitches, and likely won’t be available for Saturday night’s game.

Joe Smith pitched a perfect seventh, striking out one.

Carlos Delgado continues to be tepid, going 2-for-3, with both hits smacked to leftfield.

Paul LoDuca is on fire; he had four hits in five at-bats, and is now batting .329. Time to move him back to the second spot?

Jose Reyes continues to struggle; he’s swinging at everything, swinging early in counts, and looks like he’s regressed by two years.

Shawn Green fouled a ball off his foot, cracking a bone, and may be out for the next few games. That will likely buy Carlos Gomez a few more days on the roster — and perhaps a few more starts.

David Newhan was called upon to bunt in the 8th, got a great pitch to handle, and doinked it right back to the pitcher, who easily threw out Damion Easley at second. If Newhan can’t hit for average, can’t bunt, doesn’t steal bases (despite supposedly good speed), and isn’t being used for defensive purposes … well, what is his role on the team?

Next Game

John Maine faces Wes Obermueller in a 7:05 PM start. Time for Maine to get back on the horse and give the Mets a solid six innings. Also time for the bats to get busy.


Keith Hernandez: 9-time All-Star?

Keith Hernandez hitting for the New York MetsDuring the Thursday night TV broadcast of the Mets-Braves game, there was a discussion about the All-Star game, and how it means less now than it used to, for several reasons. One of the points brought up by Keith Hernandez was that the game lost a lot of its importance when the fans were given the vote, “and then it became a popularity contest.”

Keith went on to say, ” … I made the All-Star game five times, and should’ve made it eight or nine …”

He was serious.

That’s the Keith we know and love!

First of all, let’s establish the fact that I enjoy listening to Keith do the games, and find his inflated impression of himself kind of lovable, in both a sad and humorous way (it used to irritate the heck out of me, but Ron Darling’s presence has somehow fettered it).

Now Keith, do you REALLY think you should have been an All-Star starter EIGHT or NINE times in your career? C’mon, bro …

Keith was a starting first baseman in the NL from 1976 to 1987 — a total of twelve seasons. Keith thinks he should have been the All-Star starter in at least nine of them. Let’s take a look the NL All-Star teams over that span (the starting first baseman is in parentheses). BTW, the stats quoted are for the full year — not the perfect indicator, as the All-Star game occurs midseason, I know, but it’s the best we can go on for now. Also, the statheads can spend a few hours poring over all kinds of crazy stats and come up with more detailed comparisons, but understand that back in those days, the only numbers anyone found meaningful were batting average, homeruns, and RBI. It was a much simpler time then.

1976 (Steve Garvey): Keith’s first full year in the bigs. He batted .289 with 7 HR and 46 RBI. Garvey (.317/13/80) was much better, as was Tony Perez (.260/19/91) and Bob Watson (.313/16/102), among others. Decision: Garvey

1977 (Garvey): Again, Garvey (.297/33/115) outperformed Hernandez (.291/ 15/91 RBI). In fact, there’s a strong debate that the second-best guy was Watson (.289/22/110), though Willie Montanez (.287/20/68) was the one who made the team as an alternate. Decision: Garvey

1978 (Steve Garvey): Hate to say it, but Garvey(.316/21/113) was clearly better than Keith — who had a down year, hitting only .255/11/64. Heck, even Richie Hebner (.283/17/71) was better in that particular season. Decision: Garvey.

1979 (Hernandez): He was the co-MVP with another first baseman, Willie Stargell. But Keith had better all-around numbers. Decision: Keith

1980 (Garvey): Another good year for Keith — .321/16/99 — though Garvey was right there with him (.304/26/106). It could go either way, and Garvey was the starter primarily because the game was in Los Angeles, and the rabid Dodgers fans wanted to see their Stevie. Though Keith hit 17 points higher, I’m not sure he was deserving over Garvey. Decision: Garvey.

1981 (Bill Buckner): Buckner had a fine all-around season (.311/10/75), and Pete Rose (.325/0/33) finished second in hitting. Keith’s numbers (.306/8/48) were close to both of those players, and were better than Garvey, who was the alternate. Decision: Buckner

1982 (Al Oliver): Keith had a solid year, batting .299 with 7 HR and 94 RBI. But he was no match for Oliver, who had a standout year and led the NL in hitting at .321. Buckner had a better year as well, and Jason Thompson had a career year (31 HR, 101 RBI, .284 AVG, .909 OPS). Decision: Oliver.

1983 (Oliver): Al Oliver had another strong year, as did George Hendrick and Darrell Evans (who were both alternates). Hernandez had another typical year — .297/7/63 — but not nearly as good as Hendrick’s .318/18/97 nor Evans’ .277/30/82. In fact, future teammate Ray Knight had a better year as well, playing first base for the Astros (.304/9/70). Decision: Oliver

1984 (Garvey): Keith went .311/15/94 to Garvey’s .284/8/86. However, Leon Durham was in the mix (.279/23/96) as well. Decision: Keith.

1985 (Garvey): The game was in San Diego, so the hometown fans stuffed the ballot box for Steve Garvey. He was at the tail end of his career at that point, and probably didn’t deserve to be the starter. Keith went .309/10/91, and was probably the best first baseman in the NL that year. However, Jack Clark (.281/22/87) had a big season for the Cardinals, and Mike Schmidt (.271/33/93) played over 100 games at first base that season. We can probably give Keith this one. Decision: Keith

1986 (Hernandez): Keith hit .310/13/83 in that magical year, but was it better than Glenn Davis (.265/31/101)? Von Hayes (.309/19/98) was the Phillies’ first baseman that year, and Bob Horner (.273/27/87) had a strong enough year to earn a million-dollar deal in Japan. As a Mets fan, I’ll give it to Keith. But Hayes was the better offensive player that year. Decision: Keith

1987(Hernandez): Keith hit .290/18/89. Jack Clark was .286/35/106. You do the math and tell me if it was a popularity contest. Decision: Clark

So in the end, Keith deserved to be the All-Star starter a total of four times, and that’s giving him a questionable 1986. Whether he deserved to be on the roster (chosen by the NL manager) is another matter, and may be fodder for a future discussion.

BTW, you can see all the All-Star teams at Baseball Almanac.


Series Preview: Mets vs. Marlins

Florida Marlins baseball LogoThe Mets come out of a tough series with the Braves to face the Marlins, who are tied with the Phillies for third place, 6.5 games behind the Mets. Other than young stars Hanley Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera, their offense has struggled, especially lately. Their pitching staff is still a work-in-progress, as they’ve suffered several injuries to key arms and have yet to find a closer.

Pitching Matchups

The most detailed info on the Marlins’ pitchers can be found at MetsGeek. We’ll do a quick summary here.

Game 1: Orlando Hernandez vs. Sergio Mitre
El Duque returns to make his first start since April 24th. Other than one start against the Nationals (April 14th), Hernandez had been brilliant before succumbing to bursitis in his shoulder. He has only thrown side sessions, and no minor league rehab appearances, so suffice to say he’ll be rusty. How he’ll do is anybody’s guess, but this particular game is not as important as seeing if El Duque is indeed healthy and able to reclaim his rotation spot. His first start has to be sometime, so it may as well be against a currently struggling Marlins lineup.

Mitre is something of an enigma, with decent talent but having never translated it into performance. If he keeps his sinker down, and can throw his curve for strikes, he’ll be tough for the Mets — a decidedly high-ball-hitting team that has trouble with good curveballs. He also has the Wandy Rodriguez effect going for him, as the Mets have never faced him before.

Game 2: John Maine vs. Wes Obermueller
It’s time for Maine to get over his last few starts and come back with a fair performance. Notice I didn’t say “strong” nor “dominating” — he simply needs to give the Mets a solid six innings. If the Mets don’t score at least 4-5 runs off Obermueller, then it’s time to make some trades.

It’s not that Obermueller is a bad pitcher — but he’s a guy the Mets must mash. He’s similar to a high school pitcher, in that he has more pitches in his repertoire than his catcher has fingers, yet he can’t throw any of them consistently for strikes. If the Mets take their team approach of taking pitches and getting into deep counts, they’ll draw at least 4-5 walks against this guy, and should have him knocked out by the end of the fifth inning. Then they can feast on the Marlins’ questionable bullpen.

Game 3: Jorge Sosa vs. Scott Olsen

This matchup is up in the air, with both pitchers a crapshoot. Sosa was dominating in his first three starts, but fell to pieces in his most recent appearance against the Braves. Similarly, Olsen has been both outstanding and awful at times this season. Interestingly, Sosa and Olsen share a common approach as well, with both relying heavily on a sharp slider. Olsen, however, can mix in a good changeup — sometimes. If Olsen’s change is flat, he could be in for a long day. If it’s on, the Mets batters may be doing a lot of head-shaking on their way back to the dugout.

Mets Bats

Jose Reyes has cooled off in the last few games, and needs to get back into the habit of waiting longer on pitches. He’s done a good job of taking pitches with nobody on, but he’s returned to his over-aggressive ways with runners on base. It’s not so much taking pitches as it is waiting on them; with runners in scoring position, Reyes seems to be leaping at pitches, and is usually way ahead.

Carlos Delgado is slowly getting back into the groove, mostly by hitting the ball the other way. He needs to keep that strategy for at least a week or so — and if he does, his average will climb considerably, as teams insist on shifting everyone to the right.

Paul LoDuca continues to swing a hot bat, and should stay in the five hole. David Wright’s sombrero vs. John Smoltz is not a huge deal, as all Smoltz threw him were sliders. No one on the Marlins (or on the planet) has a Smoltzlike slider, so D-Wright should be back to his bashing this weekend. Shawn Green has been cool, but is getting the bat on the ball and hitting line drives, for the most part.

I have a feeling that Carlos Beltran is a sleeping giant, and is about to go on a maniacal offensive tear … or it could be wishful thinking.

Fish Sticks

This team has been ice-cold lately, and slugger Mike Jacobs is on the DL. Jeremy Hermida finally returned from the DL, and was red-hot for a while, but is currently cool. The only hot bats are Hanley Ramirez (.355 over the last 7 games) and Miguel Cabrera (.313 over the same span). Everyone else is .250 or below for the last week.

Bottom Line

Mets must take two out of three, and should be capable of doing so. Now would be a fine time for the bats to wake up — particularly those of Reyes and Delgado.


Mets Game 46: Loss to Braves

Braves 2 Mets 1

Mets pitcher Tom Glavine pitched just well enough to lose to the Atlanta BravesTom Glavine pitched a good game, but it wasn’t good enough to beat John Smoltz.

Smoltz had his typical unbelievable performance against the Mets, and received a boatload of magnificent support from his defense.

The Mets’ best chance to score against Smoltz came in the top of the third, when they loaded the bases with two out for David Wright. Wright made a check swing with two strikes that the first base umpire ruled was a swing to end the threat. Replays from every angle showed that Wright had checked the swing, and that the pitch was outside and low, but unfortunately the replays mean nothing. Their only other threat came the very next inning, again with two outs, when Paul LoDuca was standing on third and Ruben Gotay at bat. Gotay slashed a wicked grounder that appeared to be destined for right field, but Kelly Johnson made a fantastic diving play to stop the ball and throw Gotay out at first to end the inning.

Oh, and then there was the ninth, when the Mets got the first two runners on, moved them to second and third on a Gotay sacrifice, but only managed one lousy run on a putrid check swing grounder by pinch-hitter Julio Franco. Jose Reyes followed with a just-as-putrid infield popup to end any possibility of a tie, stranding pinch-runner Carlos Gomez at third base.

Meantime, Glavine gave up two runs — one on a sac fly in the first and the other on a solo homer by Matt Diaz leading off the second. He finished up completing six innings, allowing five hits, two walks, and two runs, striking out two, on 110 pitches. Any other night, that output probably results in a win.


Glavine is now 3-10 career against the Braves.

Aaron Heilman retired the Braves 1-2-3 on five pitches in the eighth.

John Smoltz, behind his slippery slider, won his 200th freakin’ game.

Carlos Beltran was 2-for-3 with a walk. Yippee!

Ruben Gotay must have bumped into Willie Randolph on his way into the clubhouse and introduced himself, because Randolph started him at second base. Gotay played flawlessly in the field, dropped the key bunt in the ninth, stroked a line drive base hit in the seventh, and should have had a second hit and RBI in the fourth but was robbed by Johnson. For someone who should have been rusty, he swung the bat a-ight.

Next Game

The Mets continue south to play the Marlins on Friday night. Jason Vargas is listed as starting against Sergio Mitre, but word is that Orlando Hernandez is ready to come back and take his turn instead. Game time is 7:05 PM.


Mets Setup Man

Mets pitcher Joe Smith slinging a pitch from the sideIn last night’s 3-0 shutout of the Braves, Willie Randolph chose Mighty Joe Smith to pitch the eighth, bridging the gap between the outstanding start by Oliver Perez and the 11th consecutive save by Billy Wagner.

At the beginning of this year, Aaron Heilman was the setup man / eighth-inning guy, but he’s had some issues with the long ball of late.

Willie Randolph has also auditioned Scott “The Show” Schoeneweis and Pedro Feliciano in the role, but the results have been mixed. As much as Willie would like to be able to use one or both of those guys for a full inning, it’s becoming more apparent every game that neither is capable of being more than a situational lefty / LOOGY. The Show is quickly pitching himself into Aaron Sele’s mopup role, and has been an extreme disappointment. And, as well as Feliciano has performed, he seems to lose effectiveness after facing two batters.

Enter Joe Smith, the sidewinding rookie who went from spring training invite to unlikely MLBer to now one of the most trusted arms in the New York Mets bullpen. That’s quite an accomplishment, considering Randolph’s tendency to trust his “veteran guys” in critical roles. But so far, Smith has more than fulfilled the “show another look” role (a.k.a. “bring the funk”) vacated by Chad Bradford.

Personally, I didn’t think we’d see Smith pitching 8th innings in tight games for at least another month — based on Willie’s reluctance to trust rookies. But I’m glad to see him in there, and right now have more faith in Smith than I do Heilman (that’s saying something, considering my three-year platonic man-crush on Aaron).

In a few weeks, Guillermo Mota will also be available as a setup option, but until then, it’s going to be a mix of Smith, Heilman, Feliciano, and possibly Amby Burgos — though it would take serious fatigue of the first three before we saw Burgos in a tight situation.

What’s your opinion? Vote in the pollbooth to the right, and leave your comments below.


Last Call for Todd Walker

Todd Walker batting for the San Diego PadresAs of Monday, Todd Walker is retired — but he admits that could change.

With reports that Jose Valentin won’t be ready to rejoin the Mets for at least another month (or possibly longer), and Willie Randolph completely uninterested in using Ruben Gotay in anything other than a Wednesday afternoon game (and there’s a solar eclipse, and Mars is in line with Uranus), wouldn’t it make sense to give Todd Walker a call and see if he’ll tie up the spikes for a few more months?

I know, we’ve covered this story before, but Walker’s 10-day assignment is now complete, and he’s a completely free agent. No players have to be traded, and the contract can be miniscule (he’s already collecting paychecks from both the A’s and the Padres). He can play second base, first base, and third in a pinch, and he’s a professional hitter. There’s nothing wrong with his offensive skills, evidenced by his .271 average with the A’s and the .288 line he compiled with the Padres in the last 44 games of 2006. His limited range at second base is no worse than Easley’s, he’s sure-handed, and he can turn the double-play fairly well. Further, he’s a tough son-of-a-gun, and known to be a great clubhouse guy. Oh, and that .370 average in the 2003 ALCS vs. the Yankees would sure come in handy when the postseason arrives.

Considering that Randolph is committed to playing Easley for a full nine innings every day, there’s no point in Gotay wasting a roster space. If Gotay were being used appropriately — as a late-inning defensive replacement — then there would be no discussion regarding Walker. But since Gotay’s role is as a pinch-hitter and rare second-base starter against righthanders … well, is there any available player on the planet more qualified than Todd Walker? I’m a big Gotay fan, but if we’re in the heat of a September pennant race, and the Mets need a big hit in a key situation off a tough righty late in a ballgame, I’d much rather see Walker at the plate than Ruben.

Enough with the dilly-dallying, Omar — call Todd Walker today and get this done! (And Carlos, get those shears humming!)


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.