Archive: July 20th, 2007

10 Players the Mets Won’t Get

The trading deadline is nearing quickly, and though there’s plenty of hot air circulating, very little action is being made. The only significant deal thus far sent Jason Kendall to the Cubs — a nice deal, but only barely newsworthy to folks outside of Chicago. Yet, the rumors keep swirling, with over a dozen big names being bandied about on an hourly basis.

Here are ten players mentioned in rumors, who will NOT be traded to the Mets.

1. Roy Oswalt
It’s funny … everyone OUTSIDE of Houston thinks Oswalt is on the block, yet nothing could be further from the truth. Drayton McLane locked up Oswalt at a bargain price for the long term for a good reason: he’s the type of pitcher you can build a franchise around. He’s not going now, not next year, and likely not anytime thereafter.

2. Chad Cordero

Yes, Omar Minaya drafted him, and put him in the heat of a pennant race not long after. And yes, Minaya would love to have him now. However, Minaya is not paying the price the Nationals are asking — two top pitching prospects and one top position player (i.e. Humber + Pelfrey + Milledge).

3. Brad Lidge

It would be nice to see Lidge setting up Wagner again — just like old times. However, Astros owner Drayton McLane has already said Lidge isn’t going anywhere. Translation: Lidge is available, but for an exorbitant price. More realistic: the return of Dan Wheeler.

4. Dontrelle Willis

Marlins pitcher Dontrelle WillisYou can’t call it a time of trade rumors until there’s talk of D-Train going to the Mets. It ain’t happenin’. The Marlins still regard Willis highly, but his recent performance does not match his perceived value. In addition, there are whispers that his unorthodox delivery is finally catching up to him, and tearing up his arm. The Mets won’t gamble on him.

5. Ken Griffey Jr. (or Adam Dunn)

GM Wayne Krivsky is on the hot seat for two reasons: the Reds stink this year, and the awful lopsided deal that sent Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez to the Nationals looks worse every day. Krivsky has his entire roster for sale, but can’t afford to get fleeced again. If he trades a starting player — particularly a star such as Griffey — he has to get significant value in return. The Mets are not willing to pay the price necessary to pry away Griffey, nor Adam Dunn for that matter. Even if they were, it wouldn’t make sense — the Mets are already lefty-heavy in their lineup, and are in the market for a righthanded hitter. And if they had the choice, they’d take Griffey over Dunn. The image of Dunn in left and Shawn Green in right is too difficult to stomach.

6. Eric Gagne

Like the aforementioned Krivsky, Rangers GM Jon Daniels has some ‘splainin’ to do — specifically in regard to the trade that sent away Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Young in return for Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka. That said, Daniels will be looking to be on the correct side of a lopsided deal — that means a severe overpayment for Eric Gagne. The Mets aren’t willing to trade top prospects for a guy whose arm may fall off before September.

7. Sammy Sosa

Sosa will likely come cheaper than Gagne, but still won’t be worth any player in the Mets organization with a heartbeat. Remember, the guy would have to play the outfield in the NL. While the Mets could use some punch from the right side, they don’t need a guy who’d likely get a punch from Paul LoDuca in the dugout before his first at-bat.

8. Octavio Dotel

Oh, it would be nice to see Dotel back in the uniform in which he began his career. However, he’s pitching lights out lately, and a bidding war has begun. The winner of this auction will overpay — something Omar Minaya is too smart to do.

9. Mike Piazza

There really isn’t any evidence of a rumor here, but nostalgic Mets fans would like to believe there is. If Piazza is dealt, it will be to an American League team, to continue being a DH. When Omar showed Piazza the door two years ago, he locked it behind him. Sorry guys.

10. Jermaine Dye
The Mets need a righthanded bat right now, and Dye is available, so it would appear to be a no-brainer. Except, Omar Minaya is confident that Moises Alou will return (even if we’re not), so he’s not making a deal for a three-month rental with a bad quad who will likely platoon with Shawn Green. Maybe — just maybe — if the White Sox were willing to trade Dye for Willie Collazo and a bag of balls, the Mets might listen. But the Mets aren’t the only team looking for an impact bat, so my guess is ChiSox GM Ken Williams will hold out for the best offer (most likely coming from Anaheim).

11. (Spinal Tap Bonus) Joe Blanton

The Mets could use this workhorse, but the original winter bargain price of Milledge, Pelfrey/Humber, and Heilman has gone up with the heat of the pennant race. No thank you, Mr. Beane.


Who’s That Guy on the Bench?

With Ruben Gotay getting so much playing time lately, Willie Randolph needs someone to run back and forth from the water cooler keeping his bottle filled. Mets outfielder Chip AmbresYou may have noticed the face to the right when the TV cameras pan on the Mets’ dugout, and wondered “who the heck is that guy?”. His name is Chip Ambres, and he’s up from AAA New Orleans to keep the bench warm, pass out Geritol tablets, and fill out AARP forms for the Mets veterans.

If you missed it, MetsToday wrote a full profile of Chip Ambres back in February, just as spring training began. Go ahead and follow that link to get a decent history of Ambres before he joined the Mets organization.

In a nutshell, Ambres was, for a brief period, the starting centerfielder for the Kansas City Royals — which, I understand, isn’t saying much. Still, he did start in CF in MLB, so you have to give him a little credit for that. He played with KC in 2005, and therefore crossed paths with Ruben Gotay, so they’re familiar with each other — not that that means anything. After playing about 50 games with the Royals, he lost in the competition for the centerfield job the following spring (to Aaron Guiel), and spent an injury-plagued year in AAA. At the end of last season, Ambres became a free-agent, and the Mets signed him and extended him a non-roster invite to spring training.

He was barely noticed in March, and joined the Zephyrs as their starting leftfielder. Through 85 games, he hit .275 with 16 homeruns and a .370 OBP. After a seven-day stretch of batting .586 with 3 homers and winning PCL hitter of the week honors in mid-June, Ricky Ledee was promoted to the Mets to fill in for an injured Endy Chavez.

Finally, Ambres has returned to the big leagues, though it’s questionable whether he’ll actually get on the field. He’s a stocky (6’1″, 230 lbs.) righthanded hitter who used to have really good wheels, but leg injuries have slowed him a bit. Still, he remains a strong defender in all three OF positions with some pop in his bat. Why he isn’t being brought in to spell Shawn Green in late innings is beyond comprehension, but perhaps we’ll see him used as a pinch-runner for Sandy Alomar some time.

Keep your eyes peeled for number 36 — if you’re not paying close attention, he may go in and out of the game so quickly you’ll miss him.


Mets Game 95: Win Over Dodgers

Mets 13 Dodgers 9

Why can’t these games happen on the East Coast, during reasonable hours of the evening?

After a six-run first inning, it appeared that Tom Glavine would have an easy cruise toward his 299th career win.

However, by the bottom of the second, the score was 6-4, as Glavine struggled with his command — or rather, couldn’t get the batters to swing at his slop (see notes below). It was a good old-fashioned slugfest from there on.

Tommy had a hard time hitting spots, missing badly or leaving balls over the middle of the plate — and the new offensive-minded Dodgers took advantage. They scored two runs in the first, but it could have been more had Shawn Green not made a perfect throw to nail Jeff Kent trying to go from first to third on a two-run single by Luis Gonzalez. The Dodgers added another two in the second, via a two-run homer by Matt Kemp (thereby making up for the two-run error Kemp made in the first). By the end of the second inning, Glavine had already thrown over 50 pitches, and it appeared he’d be laboring throughout his time on the mound.

The Mets exploded for six runs in the first by hitting single after single after single against sinkerballer Derek Lowe (though, David Wright mixed in a two-run double). Wright, Ramon Castro, Shawn Green, and Ruben Gotay all drove in runs in the inning, with an extra run scoring on Green’s basehit when rightfielder Matt Kemp forgot to field the ball and let it skip behind him.

Lowe rebounded to pitch an uneventful second inning, but got into trouble again in third. After leadoff hitter Ramon Castro grounded out, Shawn Green doubled, Ruben Gotay singled, and then Lowe walked Glavine — who was attempting to bunt. With the bases loaded, Jose Reyes bounced out to first to score Green, and new arrival Marlon Anderson lined a single to center to score both Gotay and Glavine to make the score 9-4. Luckily for Lowe, perpetual rally killer Carlos Beltran was the next batter, and he, predictably, bounced out meekly to the right side to end the inning.

Glavine promptly gave up a leadoff homer to Jeff Kent on his first pitch of the third inning, then allowed a hard-hit single to Gonzalez, making one wonder if he really was interested in winning his 299th. Just as promptly, Rick Peterson got on the phone to get former Dodger Aaron Sele warming up. Glavine then gave up another hard-hit single, and the look on is face was one of a man who had soiled his pants. Glavine had no idea what to do next, and had to face the Dodgers’ two hottest hitters — James Loney and Matt Kemp. As you might guess, Loney singled — the fourth straight hit of the inning — to load the bases for Kemp. That was enough for Willie Randolph, who sent The Jacket back out to the mound to remove Tommy.

Aaron Sele came on with the bases drunk and got Kemp to hit a short fly that couldn’t score Gonzalez for the first out. Grady Little then sent Olmedo Saenz — his best pinch-hitter — in to hit, clearly understanding the importance of the moment. Saenz hit a fly ball to center to score Gonzalez, but Garciaparra was cut down trying to advance to third after Beltran hit cutoff man Carlos Delgado with a perfect strike, and Delgado relayed to Wright. So what could have been a big chance for the Dodgers, fizzled fast, though they cut the lead to 9-6.

The Mets tacked on their tenth run in the top of the fifth. After Green flied out, Gotay singled (again), and Aaron Sele walked — again, a Mets pitcher walked while attempting a sacrifice bunt (how happy about that were Grady Little and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt?). Jose Reyes followed with a single up the middle to score Gotay to make the score 10-6.

But the scoring still wasn’t done. Sele pitched fairly well in his relief stint, and seemed to have a scoreless fifth inning in the plans after inducing a ground ball double play from Loney. However, Wright threw away a routine grounder off the bat of Kemp, sending him to second. Pinch-hitter Wilson Betemit lashed a single to score Kemp to put the Dodgers back within three.

The Mets answered quickly, and soundly. With one out in the sixth, Carlos Delgado hit a solo ba-HOMB to dead centerfield, and Ramon Castro followed with a far-gone tater of his own over the leftfield stands. Shawn Green very nearly made it three in a row, but fell about ten feet short with his own long drive to right-center. By the end of the inning, it was 12-7, Mets.

Aaron Heilman kept the score there for one inning, but toward the end of the seventh, he was running out of gas and throwing from a very low release point, and gave up a double to Rafael Furcal on a 3-2 pitch to score Betemit from first (who had reached on an infield single). Heilman barely managed to retire Pierre to end the inning — it took a nice running catch by Beltran, who tracked the long fly into deep right-center.

However, Carlos Beltran got the run back with a laser shot into the leftfield stands (batting righty) to lead off the eighth against reliever Mark Hendrickson (who by the way is Sunday’s scheduled starter), making the score 13-8 (LoDuca missed the extra-point).

Guillermo Mota came on in the bottom of the eighth and was about to complete the first one-two-three inning for the Mets, until Gary Cohen announced the possibility and thereby jinxed it from happening. Mota gave up three consecutive singles, scoring another run — making it 13-9.

The Mets did not score in the top of the ninth, and Mota returned to pitch the bottom of the frame. He looked to have an easy first out, as Andre Ethier bounced the first pitch he saw to Delgado. However, Mota missed the bag covering first, and Ethier was safe. Furcal then lined a shot into left that looked to be a basehit, but Marlon Anderson made a great diving catch to get the first out. Pinch hitter Mike Lieberthal than dropped a Texas leaguer in front of Anderson, but Russell Martin flew out to right for the second out. With Billy Wagner warming in the bullpen, Jeff Kent skied to Anderson to end the game — at 1:50 AM EST (zzzzzzzzzzz).


The SNY team discussed a startling fact about Tom Glavine — he leads the league in the lowest percentage of strikes thrown (about 57%), and that is not an aberration. As Ron Darling pointed out, he is a guy who throws a strike early in the count, and then throws around the zone until the batter gets himself out. Now, I knew he’s always picked around the zone, but never realized he threw so few strikes. It’s amazing, and goes against all logic, that he’s been so successful for so many years by throwing balls instead of strikes.

Besides doing his usual damaging hitting, Ramon Castro also caught a nice game behind the plate, blocking several pitches in the dirt with ease. It’s amazing how sharp he can be on offense and defense despite playing only once a month. He must be playing in a rec league every afternoon before the Mets’ night games.

Heilman was working on three days’ rest, but still fatigued after about 30 pitches. His mechanics are an absolute mess, as he’s releasing the ball at an angle similar to Joe Smith. My guess is fatigue — the guy just isn’t built for relief, and no one in the Mets organization seems to realize the folly of keeping him in the bullpen.

Ruben Gotay went 3-for-4 before Willie finally figured out how that double-switch thing works, and replaced him with Jose Valentin when Mota came on in relief.

Is it me, or do Marlon Anderson and Orlando Hernandez look like brothers?

Bad news for the St. Louis Cardinals — Chris Carpenter is undergoing Tommy John surgery, ending this season as well as most of 2008.

Next Game

The Mets send Oliver Perez to the hill against Brett Tomko in a game that must be won. Since a 10 PM start isn’t aggravating enough for us Right Coasters, the game will start at 10:40 PM EST. Yawn.