Archive: July 29th, 2007

Mets Game 105: Win Over Nationals

Mets 5 Nationals 0

The Mets won behind a one-hit shutout by John Maine … albeit, it was a five-inning game called by rain.

In the five innings, Maine gave up one hit, walked none, and struck out five en route to his 12th victory. A Ron Belliard single in the first inning prevented the first no-hitter in Mets history.

As is their modus operandi, the Mets took the lead early in the game via a first-inning run started by — surprise — Jose Reyes. Reyes doubled to start off the inning, and was promptly singled home by Lastings Milledge. They scored again in the third when Reyes led off the inning with another double, stole third, and scored on a David Wright base hit.

In the fourth, Damion Easley had a leadoff single and Ramon Castro blasted a 440-foot homerun through the rain and over the centerfield fence to put the Mets ahead 4-0. Ruben Gotay followed with a single and was sacrificed to second by John Maine. Nats starter Billy Traber then retired Reyes but walked Milledge and was removed in favor of Chris Schroder, who couldn’t stop the bleeding, as David Wright rapped a single on a hit-and-run to score Gotay, making the score five-zip.

Meantime, John Maine was cruising, oblivious to the rainfall.


One part of Maine’s maturation that gets overlooked is his effectiveness as a batter. Last year, he looked a lot like Mike Pelfrey at the plate — completely lost, frightened, and hopeless. This year, however, he has 11 sacrifice bunts, three walks, four hits, and a homerun. OK, he’s no Rick Rhoden but is miles away from the .036 batter of last year. Little things like getting on base and moving runners along often make a difference in ballgames, and can help get a pitcher an extra win or two every season — just ask Tommy Glavine.

Too bad Willie didn’t use the hot-hitting Ramon Blastro on Saturday night as a pinch-hitter, instead of playing a “hunch” on Marlon Anderson. Who knows what might have happened.

Castro by the way was 2-for-2 with both the homer and a double. He now has 7 homeruns and 6 doubles in 101 at-bats. That works out to an extra-base hit every 7.8 at-bats.

Next Game

The Mets have a travel day on Monday and will fly out to Milwaukee to face the Brewers on Tuesday in a 8:05 PM start. Tom Glavine goes for win #300 against Jeff Suppan. No word on whether MLB commissioner Bud Selig will be in his hometown to see Glavine’s 300th or watching the steroid monster’s chase of 755.


Willie’s Head-scratcher

Willie Randolph, on his managerial gaffe of pinch-hitting his last position player in the seventh inning last night — causing Tommy Glavine to be used as a pinch-hitter in the ninth:

“Yeah, we were short…When Lo Duca went down, we had to get somebody to run for him, and I was thinking maybe I’d have to pinch hit Glavine later on, maybe, if we had to go that route, and that’s the way it turned out…We’re short, and really can’t play with fire like that…

“(Marlon Anderson) was like 2–for-3, or 2–for-4 against (Ray King), and he’s a professional pinch hitter and I’d rather have him in that spot. I knew that if I pinch hit Castro there, they would have brought in Rauch and Ramon is not the swiftest the guy, at least Marlon could beat out a double play there, to get to the top of our lineup, so I wanted to turn it over and keep it going. I was confident in Marlon, and he gives you a tough at bat, no matter what, and you don’t always want to use two players there, but I just felt good about that at-bat, as opposed to Rauch against Castro…

“I mean, you’ve got to go for it. You get an opportunity, they were shutting us down pretty much, and we were starting to get back in the game, and you wanna keep that flow going. Our bullpen was pretty much set up, and we wanted to get on the board there, so made the move.”

So … in a nutshell, Willie has more confidence in Marlon Anderson as a pinch-hitter. Secondly, he feels Anderson against a lefty is a better matchup than Castro against a righty. Further, instead of making a logical decision based on available (and limited) resources, he played one of his “Torre hunches” and justified it with the idea that he was afraid that Castro might hit into a double play.

Sounds like a guy playing not to lose — a defeatist attitude — and a guy who has more faith in a player who’s been on the team for two weeks than one who’s been with him for three years.

After listening to this explanation, I’m still not understanding it. Willie based Anderson’s “success” against Ray King on a five at-bat sample. Yet, Willie plays down Ruben Gotay’s “success” in over 100 at-bats this season. Kind of an inconsistent valuation system, eh?

Further, Randolph stated that he didn’t want to bring in Castro because then the Nats would bring in Jon Rauch to face him. So what? Isn’t part of the manager’s strategy to get the other team to burn through their bullpen as quickly as possible — particularly in a tie game that could go extra innings?

Castro, by the way, was 0-for-3 lifetime vs. Rauch — again, small sample — but is batting .304 this year against righties. Oh, and Rauch isn’t exactly lights-out on righthanded hitters this year — they’re batting .260 against him (interestingly, lefties are only hitting .189 vs. Rauch). So I’m not buying the stat lines in Willie’s head.

Anyway … moving on …

Wiggy an Astro

Another second baseman came off the market yesterday — as well as a middle reliever — when the Houston Astros traded Dan Wheeler to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for former Met Ty Wigginton. A bit of a head-scratcher for both sides, though Wheeler should help out a hopeless Rays bullpen. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wheeler flipped to a playoff contender in the next few days in return for more youthful arms.

Wigginton, on the other hand, is essentially another Mark Loretta, but with more power and more swings and misses. Do the ‘stros see Wigginton as next year’s third baseman? Or their second baseman? Does this move free them to deal Loretta? Time will tell.

Cantu Dumped on Reds

Loyal readers know I’ve been clamoring for Jorge Cantu since March. Well, the Rays finally dealt him — with outfield prospect Shaun Cumberland to the Reds for a questionable prospect named Calvin Medlock and so-so lefty pitcher Brian Shackelford. I’m a bit disappointed the Mets didn’t put together a package for Cantu, who could be a big fish when he finds himself. Notice I said “when” and not “if” — I see Cantu as an offensive version of Oliver Perez circa 2006. He’s a talented guy, who is going through some rough head games right now. A new environment is just the thing to jog him out of his doldrums.

This deal doesn’t stink as badly as the Tadahito Iguchi trade, but it’s still one of those, “huh, that’s all it took to get him?” deals. Dissecting this deal, Cantu was packaged with a Ben Johnson-type outfielder in return for a LOOGY who’s worse than Scott Schoeneweis and a 5’10” righty who throws gas but doesn’t have command (Ambiorix Burgos or Marcos Carvajal might be a decent comparison, though this kid Medlock hasn’t had success above AA — and in fact struggled in A ball before this year.) Which poses the question: would you have traded, say, Schoeneweis straight up for Cantu? (The Rays would never accept such a deal because of The Show’s contract, but I’m just throwing it out there.) Or, would you have sent Marcos Carvajal and Jon Adkins for Cantu and Cumberland?

Of course, we don’t know what the Rays think of the Mets’ prospects, and I’m guessing their scouts are higher on Medlock than other people. But you see deals like this and have to get a little frustrated. I’d be very happy to get a bat like Cantu down in New Orleans, and see how he responds in an organization focused on winning, like the Mets’.

Let’s Make a Deal

So who is left that the Mets might be interested in pursuing? Mark Loretta or Luis Castillo for second base? Jose Contreras, if the price isn’t too high?

My guess is it will be another one of those deals that Omar alway likes to make — under the radar, unexpected, not a rumor in sight.