Browsing Archive April, 2008

Mets Game 25: Loss To Pirates

Pirates 13 Mets 1

OK, so, I watch Xavier Nady lead off the second with a walk, I go to the kitchen to fix a sandwich and a glass of Ovaltine, I come back to the TV and it’s 7-zip. I shake my head, consider dumping the Ovaltine for tall glass of vodka, but decide instead to go forth with the original plan and hope for the best. After all, just because the Mets have completely demolished any possibility for productivity so early in the day, doesn’t mean I should do the same.

Nelson Figueroa came on in the second inning and pitched three decent innings, but the game got uglier in the sixth, when Jorge Sosa gave up another five runs (one earned). Like Ollie, Sosa was victimized by errors, but, again, he also didn’t do much to “pick up” his teammates, allowing four hits — three of them doubles.

The lone run scored by the Mets came on an RBI double by April’s MVP Ryan Church in the bottom of the sixth.


Oliver Perez’s line: 1.2 IP | 2 H | 5 BB | 2 K | 2 ER | 7 R

Angel Pagan struggled with the wind and sun in leftfield all day. He was charged with only one error but it appeared as though he

In reality Ollie was lucky to be charged with only two earned runs. Yes, Luis Castillo made a key error early in the inning, then later flubbed a rundown, but Perez did nothing at all to stop the bleeding. Five walks in less than two innings is inexcusable.

Aaron Heilman threw two perfect innings. Hallelujah.

Church and Carlos Delgado collected the two Mets hits on the day. The Pirates pitchers did, however, walk nine Mets.

Next Game

Thankfully, the Mets are granted mercy tomorrow, given the day off to think about this awful game and to travel to Arizona. Next game is in Phoenix on Friday at 9:40 PM EST against the Diamondbacks. John Maine faces Micah Owings.


News from M*A*S*H Unit

mash200.jpgAbout 24 hours ago, we were told that Moises Alou might miss another few months due to an undisclosed ankle injury. Today, however, we are told that Alou has been cleared for baseball activities and will join the team on Friday in Arizona. The “team” being the New York Mets, the “big club”, the guys who play at the MLB level. I won’t hold my breath, as Moises may strain his wrist brushing his teeth between now and then.

In other news, Brian Schneider’s mysterious thumb infection has not responded and the backstop remains in the hospital. Time to call in Dr. Gregory House?

While Alou’s hernia miraculously developed into a phantom ankle sprain, Schneider’s issue has been termed both “a staph infection” and “not a staph infection”. The latest explanation is a

“mixed organism infection caused by normal skin bacteria”, and that, while it was partly associated with staph, it was not the more serious kind of problem usually associated with a staph infection.(source: New York Times).

Super. Clear as mud. Oh, and to make things more confusing, there hasn’t been any official word that Schneider has yet left the hospital, but Omar Minaya stated that “You could even see him back here (today)”. Maybe “here” meant the hospital?

More certain is that Matt Wise will return to the team for the weekend series in AZ — which means either Joe Smith or Jorge Sosa likely will be sent down to AAA to make room. My money is on Smith, who is pitching more effectively but who has options.

In addition, Jose Valentin’s neck is feeling better, and he also has been cleared for baseball activities. He will be hitting off a tee and long tossing in Port St. Lucie, according to Adam Rubin.

Also, that guy who used to be the backup catcher — the one who resembles Shrek — is still limping. I forget his name but I think his dad used to sell convertible couches.

Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez continue to soak in the sun and fun in their extended Florida vacation. Neither are likely to fly north until the temperatures rise above 80 in the NYC area. Similarly, no news on Jason Vargas, though his non-brother Claudio pitched five innings for Port St. Lucie on Monday, giving up one run, no walks, three hits and striking out 6. Nice outing, but remember he’s facing 19-year-old A-ballers.


Go Get Botts

Jason Botts of the Texas RangersAs was pointed out by loyal MetsToday readers Micalpalyn and DaveVW, Jason Botts has been DFA’d by the Texas Rangers.

The switch-hitting slugger has been a low-risk, high-reward, under-the-radar target here at MetsToday since about 1949. OK, maybe not that long, but it sure feels that way. Now it appears he’s there for the taking, available for a scrub A-ball non-prospect.

For those who haven’t been following, Jason Botts is the poor man’s version of Adam Dunn. He’s 27 years old, stands 6’5″, weighs 250 lbs., can play both first base and left field adequately. He hasn’t yet made his mark in the big leagues, but has a career OBP of .390 in the minors and began to mature as a power hitter in the last three years. He strikes out a lot, but puts the ball over the fence fairly frequently and will also take a walk. There’s no guarantee he’ll be a success in MLB but he has proven all he can prove at AAA and will now come cheaply.

He’s out of options, and the Rangers kept him on their 25-man roster to start the season after batting .313 in spring training and beating out fellow out-of-options slugger Nelson Cruz for the last spot on the team. However, after the first month of the season, Botts is batting only .158 with 18 strikeouts and two homeruns in 38 at-bats.

With Moises Alou supposedly returning by the weekend, perhaps now is not the time for the Mets to chase after an enigma such as Botts. After all, to make room for Alou, the Mets will have to demote someone — most likely catcher Gustavo Molina. The next most likely to be demoted position player is Angel Pagan, and as much as I salivate over the possibility of putting the orange and blue onto a horse like Botts, I’m not convinced he’d be more valuable than Pagan at this point in time. Though, Pagan has cooled off, and he is essentially redundant when you consider that Endy Chavez is on the roster. Further, Pagan has options. If by chance the Mets can grab Botts for next to nothing, it might be worth the gamble, as there are ZERO MLB-ready homerun hitters in the Mets’ farm system.

Most likely, Botts would be a bust — though an inexpensive one. But, there’s that tiny chance of catching lightning in a bottle — as the Tampa Bay Rays did with Carlos Pena last year, the Padres did with Adrian Gonzalez, and the Indians did with Travis Hafner prior to the 2003 season. And guess what? All three of Pena, Gonzalez, and Hafner were originally Rangers’ property. Huh.

To refresh everyone’s memory, here are previous mentions of Botts on this site:

Forget About Botts

Latest On Botts

Three Guys to Get Right Now

Roster Room


Mets Game 24: Win Over Pirates

Mets 4 Pirates 4

It took eleven innings on a chilly night in Flushing, but the Mets eventually wore out the Pirates thanks to some good old fashioned small ball.

Endy Chavez — who had three hits on the night — ripped a leadoff single in the bottom of the 11th, advanced to second on a balk, moved to third on a bunt by Marlon Anderson, and scored on a booming fly ball to the deep rightfield corner that went unplayed by Xavier Nady (who was appropriately playing shallow to guard against the bloop or line drive single).

Johan Santana — who hasn’t had his best stuff yet this year — didn’t have his best stuff but battled through six innings and 114 pitches to keep the Mets in the game. When he left, he had a 4-2 lead, but the Pirates tied it against the Mets’ back end of the bullpen, scoring a run each against Duaner Sanchez and Billy Wagner.


Wow! Willie pulled off a double switch! In the 11th inning, Randolph expertly inserted Jorge Sosa on the mound and Marlon Anderson at first base. The move was made after Carlos Delgado made the last out of the 10th, so Sosa would not bat for a really long time. Well done, Willie! Randolph also attempted a squeeze with Luis Castillo earlier in the game, proving that he is aware of his team’s presence in the National League. Next lesson: wheel play.

Remarkably, Aaron Heilman appeared in the game and did not give up a run. However, it took a heroic tag at home plate after a wild pitch by Scott Schoeneweis to make that reality.

Jose Reyes may have finally busted out of his slump. Reyes reached base six times, going 3-for-3 with three walks, a run, and an RBI, and was letting the ball get deep — key to his success. (That means he’s waiting longer on pitches before committing to swinging.) He has such quick hands, all he needs to do is trust them — something he tends to get away from. This isn’t rare — it’s something nearly all hitters have an issue with at one point or another.

Billy Wagner finally allowed a run, but it was unearned because leadoff batter Ryan Doumit reached base on Reyes’ fifth error of the season. Is that kid on drugs?

This win marked the Mets’ third in a row, their third walkoff victory, and put them three games over .500.

Hey, welcome back Straw Man! Darryl Strawberry appeared on SNY’s Nissan Post Game Live to discuss the contest with Matt Yallof. Straw looked good, and sounded good, and had good things to say. After his rollercoaster life — the result of more bad decisions than good — it’s great to see him come full circle and be (sort of) back with Mets.

Next Game

The Pirates return to Shea for a day game, it will be a 1:10 PM start. Oliver Perez will face his old team and Tom Gorzelanny. Weather reports say it will be sunny and in the mid-50s.


Figgy Loses a Turn

figgy.jpgAs a result of yesterday’s rainout, Nelson Figueroa will get skipped when his turn comes around the next time in the rotation — which would be Sunday at Arizona.

Instead of Figgy, Johan Santana will go to the hill.

On the surface, this appears to be a good idea. After all, Santana has a few more Cy Young Awards than Figueroa (though, Johan’s never pitched in Taiwan).

However, the part I don’t get is why are the Mets passing over Figgy’s turn instead of Mike Pelfrey’s? Pelfrey is scheduled to pitch the day before, on Saturday. Looking at the stats, the two pitchers aren’t very different thus far this year — they’re both 2-1, their ERAs are similar, and they both average a little over five innings per start. The only contrast is in strikeouts per nine innings (Figgy is nearly 3 Ks better) and WHIP (Figgy: 1.34; Pelf: 1.75). But through only around 25 innings, it’s too small a sample to compare them strictly on the stats.

Outside of the stat lines, it “feels” like Figgy has had better starts so far. In all but one of his starts, Figueroa has been good to great. Pelfrey, on the other hand, has been good, great, terrible, so-so — in that order. On the plus side, Pelf has induced 43 ground balls in 22 innings, while Figgy has only 28 GBs in 25 IP. Pelfrey’s problem, however, is that many of those grounders have found holes.

I’m not suggesting that Figgy should be getting his turn on Saturday instead of Pelfrey, but curious to the thought that went behind the decision. My best guess — and it makes sense — is that Figueroa is more experienced and effective coming out of the bullpen than Pelfrey, and if long relief is needed this week, Willie Randolph may be more comfortable knowing Nellie Figs is available. The only other thing is the ground ball factor; Chase Field in Arizona is not a bandbox, but it was 11th in MLB last year in home run rate (right behind Miller Park in Milwaukee). In addition, the D’Backs offense is on a rampage right now, first in all of MLB in runs scored and third in the NL in homeruns. Perhaps the surprising bats of free-swinging Conor Jackson, Mark Reynolds, and Chris Young factored into the decision to start the sinkerballing Pelfrey.

Whatever the case, I’m not happy about the West Coast swing coming up so soon. Those games ending after midnight EST make for cranky mornings.


The Deal That Wasn’t

Barry Zito T-shirtYou may have heard by now that Barry Zito has been demoted to the bullpen, after an atrocious start to the season for the San Francisco Giants (0-6, 7.53 ERA).

As Mets fans, why should we care?

Because for every time we weep when the names Scott Kazimir, Brian Bannister, and Nolan Ryan are mentioned (among others) — players that were sent away only to become stars — we should also be thankful that certain deals didn’t happen.

For those with a short-term memory, Barry Zito was — in the minds of the fans and pundits — the number one target of the New York Mets during the 2006-2007 offseason. And for about a year before Zito was on the free market, it seemed as though the Mets were perpetually on the “verge” of acquiring Zito from the A’s in return for Lastings Milledge.

The Mets did, in fact, offer Zito a contract during the winter of 2006 — one for five years and $73M. Scott Boras laughed at the offer, claiming he had a $110M offer from the Giants (we didn’t believe him). Imagine now if the Mets caved in to Boras’ demands, and handed Zito a nine-digit contract? Most likely, there would be no Johan here, and the organization might be in dire straits.

As my friend Hot Toddy quipped, Barry Zito’s current contract commitment makes Carlos Delgado look like a bargain. Hat tip also to Toddy for finding these great T-shirts.


Mets Fans in Connecticut

If you are a Mets fan in Connecticut, and cannot watch Mets games on TV because your cable provider is Cox Communications, it’s time to join the legion of customers who are requesting that SNY be added to the channel lineup.

SNY will be supporting the groundswell with billboards on I84, Route 6, and Route 44, as well as with print ads in the Journal Inquirer on 4/30, 5/2 and 5/5. If all Mets fans in New England band together, you can make Cox bring the Mets home to you.

Find your way to the Cox online form and tell them you want your Mets, and/or call (860) 436-4269 to fill out a “channel request form” with a customer service representative over the phone.


MetsBlog: Price of Success

You know you’ve hit the big time when newspaper reporters are making snide remarks about your blog.

One of the columnists (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty) in the Daily News recently penned this:

“Is Matt Cerrone’s entertaining and informative (One Team, One Million GM’s) losing some edge – and independence?

Prior to the start of the season, Cerrone joined forces with the Mets and SportsNet New York in a deal to have appear on SNY’s Web site. This was followed by a lot of yap-flapping out of Metsville (and MetsBlog) about MetsBlog being able to continue doing its thing.

On Thursday, MetsBlog posted a YouTube video of Joe Smith going mouth-to-mouth (“You ain’t s— … I’m in the big leagues you idiot”) with Cubs fans. Spies say when a Mets official was made aware of the video’s presence, he had it immediately pulled off MetsBlog.

For MetsBlog, and its fans, that’s called livin’ in a corporate world.”

Clearly, this passage was written by someone who is (a) misinformed; (b) misleading to his readers; and (c) probably fearing for his survival.

Because here’s the thing: MLB doesn’t allow anyone to post more than two minutes of video, and no one is allowed to keep video content “live” on their site for more than 72 hours. In addition, MLB reserves the right to demand that any graphical content — be it a video, picture, logo, whatever — be removed from any website from any reason (or no reason). A credentialed newspaper writer should know these rules — after all, he has to abide by them as well.

Even though that video (which is still on youTube, by the way) was shot by a fan, MLB still owns it because it was filmed inside of an MLB stadium. Crazy, I know, but that’s how the laws are interpreted — even in a publicly funded stadium, the events inside are considered private, and therefore subject to the policies of whatever monopoly … er, company … owns the event’s rights.

So when this Daily News columnist irresponsibly infers that either SNY or a Mets official — and not Matt Cerrone — controls MetsBlog, he’s twisting the truth to make a blogger look bad. In reality, Matt — and me, and the Daily News, and anyone with a blogger account, for that matter — are subject MLB’s demands in regard to its content. Theoretically, if I photoshop a picture of Moises Alou onto a milk carton, and someone from MLB doesn’t like it, they can demand that I remove it. Luckily, MetsToday doesn’t attract enough traffic to matter to MLB (for now) — however that is not the case for MetsBlog. MLB is well aware of the most popular baseball blog in America, and as a result monitors it to make sure Matt’s following the rules. Oh, and if they see something they don’t like, guess what? It has to come down. That’s not “… called livin’ in the corporate world,” as the Daily News writer suggests — it’s abiding by the law so your site doesn’t get shut down.

I know, I know, this is supposed to be a blog about the Mets, not about a pissing match between newspaper writers and bloggers. But being part of the blogosphere, this snide remark on the Daily News site gets my goat. There are too many “professional” writers taking pot shots at us “unprofessionals” — from discounting our knowledge, opinions, and sources to slamming us as “pamphleteers“. Not all journalists are against us, of course — only the ones who feel threatened. And I don’t mind reading criticism when it’s fair and based on facts. But when a news writer makes suppositions and insinuations by misrepresenting the facts … well, that’s just … “unprofessional”.