Archive: April 8th, 2008

Injury Updates

So much for his knees feeling great … Luis Castillo was removed from the game in the fifth inning and replaced by Damion Easley because his knee felt “sore”. Swell.

Matt Wise was placed on the 15-day DL with an elbow contusion, and was replaced on the roster by Carlos Muniz. Strange move. As astute and loyal MetsToday reader “isuzudude” pointed out, a much better option, particularly with the 3-game series against the Phillies, would have been veteran LHP Ricardo Rincon.

We know that Willie Randolph will not use Carlos Muniz in any important situation … behind by three in the ninth inning vs. the Phillies was about the most critical spot Muniz will see. On the other hand, Willie would be quick to use a veteran such as Rincon, and Rincon’s lefthandedness would be especially useful against the lefty-heavy Philly lineup.

The thinking, we guess, is that the Mets preferred Muniz because he was already on the 40-man roster (and has options) while Rincon is not. However, the Mets currently have only 37 players on the 40-man, with at least one of them (Ambiorix Burgos) soon to be moved to the 60-day DL and therefore not counting against the 40 spots.

The only thing that makes sense to me is that the move has something to do with the options rules (which I still don’t understand). Perhaps if Rincon is brought up, he’d have to pass through waivers before being sent down again?

However, none of this should matter if indeed there is a problem with Pedro Feliciano, as the SNY broadcast team guessed and the rest of us wonder after watching Scott Schoeneweis and Aaron Heilman get roughed up by Phillies. But then, perhaps Rincon has some kind of injury as well.

**** UPDATE *****


Pedro Feliciano
was unavailable because he arrived to the ballpark late. According to Adam Rubin, Feliciano was returning from Puerto Rico:

Pedro Feliciano was unavailable because he arrived at the ballpark in the seventh inning. Feliciano had permission from the Mets to go home to Puerto Rico for a family issue after Sunday’s game in Atlanta. His 6 a.m. flight from San Juan to JFK was cancelled, and he had to be re-routed through Orlando. Mets security picked him up at the airport, but couldn’t get him to the ballpark in time to contribute.

In the same post by Rubin, he tells us that Orlando Hernandez had something of a setback in his recovery and was in NYC for an MRI. Lovely.

Hat tip to isuzudude for the link.

Jimmy Rollins left Tuesday’s game with a sprained ankle. We’ll hope he’s out until the weekend.

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Mets Game 6: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 5 Mets 2

Early on, it appeared as though the Mets would cruise to an Opening Day victory, having scored two runs in the first four innings and Oliver Perez looking great on the mound. However, it was not to be, as the Phillies beat the Mets for the ninth straight time (going back to 2007).

Ollie pitched well through five, and got two quick outs in the sixth against the Phils’ top hitters, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Perez then got 2-2 to Pat Burrell before unraveling.

First, he lost Burrell and walked him. Then, he threw three straight balls to Jayson Werth, then balked on an attempted pickoff with the count 3-0. He threw a fourth straight ball to Werth, but crossed up Brian Schneider and the ball bounced off Schneider’s mitt, allowing Burrell to get to third (it was ruled a passed ball, not really fair but it almost always is if the ball doesn’t hit the dirt). Willie Randolph quickly removed Perez before he completely imploded, replacing him with Joe Smith. Smith walked Pedro Feliz to load the bases but induced a harmless grounder from Carlos Ruiz to end the threat.

Unfortunately, while Perez avoided an implode, the bullpen did not.

Randolph replaced Smith with Scott Schoeneweis to start the seventh. The Show retired So Taguchi to start the inning, then gave up a blistering single to Jimmy Rollins. Shane Victorino worked the count full before ripping a single up the middle, and then Schoeneweis hit Chase Utley to load the bases. In Show’s defense, Utley leaned into the pitch, and in fact the ball was only about 4 inches off the plate when it hit Utley’s right shoulder — but the umps allow him to stand there. Ryan Howard then hit a grounder to Delgado, and Carlos threw second for the force out, but the throw hit Utley in the back and rolled away, allowing two runs to score. It was a tough play for Delgado, as Utley was running to the outfield side of second and Reyes was set up to receive the ball in the same area. Looking at the angle on instant replay, it would have been very difficult for Delgado to throw to the inside (home plate side) of the bag. Even if he did, I doubt they would have turned a DP, so at least one run would have scored anyway.

Show was then removed for Jorge Sosa, who got a flyout from Pat Burrell, but then gave up a single to Jayson Werth on an 0-2 slider that drove in Utley with the go-ahead run. As Ron Darling noted, hitters have an easy time protecting against that pitch against Sosa, because all he throws are sliders off the plate. Batters can lean over and into the plate and hit the ball to right, as Werth did, since Sosa never goes inside with a hard fastball to move them off the plate or “get their feet moving”.

Aaron Heilman gave up runs four and five in the eighth, while LOOGY Pedro Feliciano never got warmed up. If there’s something physically wrong with Pedro Lite, we must wonder why in the world the Mets promoted Carlos Muniz and not Ricardo Rincon.

Newly promoted Carlos Muniz pitched a hitless ninth to preserve a save situation for Tom Gordon.


Notes

Aaron Heilman, Jorge Sosa, and Scott Schoeneweis are all on pace to appear in 108 games each this season.

Kind of fun to see Carlos Muniz face Carlos Ruiz in the ninth inning.

Red-hot Carlos Delgado hit his first homer of the year, a prestigious blast over the rightfield fence.

Speaking of Delgado, interesting to see the Phils run the “Delgado Shift” on Brian Schneider. From what I’ve seen of Schneider — both in ST and in this early season — he’s a dead pull hitter who rarely, if ever, hits the ball to the left of the pitcher’s mound. He and Jose Reyes should be working on going the opposite way in BP, IMHO.

Carlos Beltran remains hot, as he hit his seventh double of the season. He’s on pace to hit 189 this year.

The “Flyin’ Hawaiian” Shane Victorino stole a few potential extra-base hits — and prevented at least two runs from scoring — by snaring long drives off the bats of David Wright and Carlos Beltran. So far, it doesn’t look like the Phillies will miss Aaron Rowand, at least in the field.

Get the Frog Out of Your Glove

BTW, while Victorino saved two runs for the Phils, defensive specialist Brian Schneider had two passed balls that led to runs scoring. So much for winning more games by having better defense behind the plate and in the outfield.

Holy S!

Ron Darling slipped during the SNY broadcast, and no one was quick enough to hit the sneeze button. Right after Scott Schoeneweis plugged Chase Utley, Darling stated, “Peterson is gonna come out here and kind of settle the shit down because obviously Schoeneweis is shaken up a bit here …” I think his mind was thinking “the Show” when he said “the shit”. (See the seashells by the seashore … )

Kong Speaks?

Keith Hernandez mentioned that Dave Kingman was at Shea to watch the game, and that the two had a lengthy conversation. Hmm … first, I can’t imagine Kingman having a lengthy conversation with anyone, and I can’t think of anything that Keith and Kong could possibly talk about for more than 20 seconds. Perhaps what Keith meant to say was, “Kingman listened to me speak for a lengthy amount of time”.


Next Game

Mets host the Phils again tomorrow in a 7:10 PM start. Mike Pelfrey takes the mound against Kyle Kendrick.

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The Fifth Starter

Some people wonder why I’m so panicked regarding the Mets’ fifth starter. After all, how many teams have a solid fifth starter? All we need is a guy to go out there and give us 5 decent innings, keep the team in the game, and then hand it over to the bullpen.

Well, take a look at the following table and draw your own conclusions regarding my concern.

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The above pitchers were the collective “spot starters” who filled in the fifth slot in the rotation at different periods during the 2007 season. I chose not to include Jorge Sosa because when he made his 14 starts, he was more of a regular in the rotation rather than a fill-in — and I wanted to focus on the fill-ins to see just how much of an impact they had on the team’s final record. Mike Pelfrey was included because his starts were sporadic; there was no point in the season where he took the ball every fifth day for more than five consecutive starts.

All in all, there were a total of 24 games started by a pitcher not part of the regular rotation. Perhaps this is a helpful comparison: El Duque also started 24 games in 2007. So, in a way, these six men are comparable — in volume — to a regular starter who spent time on the DL.

In those 24 games, the spot starters pitched a grand total of 100 innings, and gave up 99 earned runs. That’s an average of 4.1 innings per start, and an ERA a shade under 9. They added four wins (how did they even win 4?) and 13 losses to the final standings, with 7 no-decisions left to the overtaxed bullpen.

Since the Mets lost the division by one game, you can immediately see the magnitude of these statistics.

Right now, the Mets are TWO starters short — unless we really believe Mike Pelfrey is ready to make 25-30 MLB starts, and/or Nelson Figueroa is the next Aaron Small (circa 2005). So, in essence, there are two spot starters holding up the back end of the rotation, with the likes of Brian Stokes and Tony Armas, Jr. next in line.

Maybe Big Pelf and Figgy can outperform last year’s spot starters. Let’s hope so, because if last year is any indication, those spot starts can mean the difference between winning and losing the division.

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