Archive: August 7th, 2008

Mets Game 114: Win Over Padres

Mets 5 Padres 3

The bullpen blew another one for Johan … but David Wright saved the win with a ninth-inning, two-out, two-run homer.

Wright gets the save, and Aaron Heilman, of all people, gets the win. Good for Aaron, who needs something to help build back his confidence.

Johan Santana did his part, pitching seven stellar innings, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks, striking out 7. He was removed after 104 pitches and back-to-back singles by the Padres to start the 8th.

Duaner Sanchez threw one pitch in relief, hitting Scott Hairston to load the bases. Pedro Feliciano was brought in to face Brian Giles, who grounded into a fielder’s choice for the first out of the inning (the out was made at home so no one scored). Adrian Gonzalez, however, followed with an RBI single just past an outstretched Jose Reyes that should have scored two, but Hairston ignored third base coach Glenn Hoffman’s waving him home and instead slid into third base. Joe Smith was then brought in, and he induced a grounder from Kevin Kouzmanoff up the middle. Argenis Reyes made a diving stop, smothering the ball, and flipped to Jose, who threw a ball in the dirt and up the line to first. Nick Evans made a spectacular dive to scoop the throw, and somehow kept his foot on the first base bag to double up Kouzmanoff and end the inning.

The spectacular defense, however, was for naught, as Scott Schoeneweis gave up a game-tying homer in the ninth to Jody Gerut before yielding to Heilman, who finished the inning without further damage.

Notes

The kids in the corners did it again. Nick Evans drove in two runs, and Daniel Murphy drove in the third, accounting for all of the Mets’ scoring before Wright’s blast.

Beautiful hit-and-run execution by Robinson Cancel in the sixth to push Murphy to third base on a single to right field. That’s not the first time Cancel has poked a perfect grounder past an infielder during a hit-and-run. He may not be a great hitter, but he’s a good situational guy. Little things like that win ballgames. Of course, Cancel also threw the ball to second base after a force out at home and a runner on third, and luckily didn’t throw it away. Little things like that can lose ballgames.

Speaking of little things, and Murphy, Daniel Murphy has been outstanding when it comes to working the count and getting a good pitch to hit. Both Murphy and Nick Evans have been very patient and selective, and taking easy swings at the ball. In other words, neither are trying to hit homeruns, or “jack” the ball. As Murphy stated in a pre-game interview with Kevin Burkhardt, he’s “not trying to do too much”. If these kids stay with that approach, they will continue to spray singles and doubles around the field and my squawking for a big veteran bat will be silenced.

In the third, it was noted by Ralph Kiner that Jose Reyes took a wide turn after rounding first base. This is actually a strategy by Reyes to set himself up for a triple. The hit was guaranteed to be a double, so there was no need for Reyes to get to second base as fast as possible. Usually, a player will start taking a wide turn prior to hitting the first base bag, to put himself on a straight path to second base for a double. Reyes, however, smelled a triple immediately, and took very little turn before first base, so that the resulting momentum of his body would cause a wide turn as he approached second base. This “banana” running path going into second puts his body in a straight sprint from second to third.

Who the heck is Jody Gerut? The most loyal MetsToday readers might remember me mentioning him last November, when he was ripping up the Venezuelan winter league and again in January after he signed with San Diego. My thoughts then: “The Padres might have a find in this guy.”

Jerry Manuel, during the SNY postgame, said that it’s OK for the bullpen to struggle with the ninth inning, as long as they’re winning the games. Thanks Jerry. Funny how people don’t sound like blithering idiots when they have a winning record.

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Schoeneweis and Sanchez Clear Waivers

According to Sean McAdam of the Providence Journal, both Scott Schoeneweis and Duaner Sanchez have cleared waivers. Hat tip to MLBTradeRumors for the link.

Other than MLBTR and McAdam, I haven’t seen this published anywhere else, so can’t be sure it’s true. If it is, I imagine one or both could be offered in a deal for another reliever or an outfielder. Could strikeout machine Marcus Thames be on the way to Shea?

Further, Ken Rosenthal says that Brian Giles has been claimed by a “mystery team in the NL”, and that the Padres are negotiating with the claiming team (hat tip to MetsBlog).

I doubt the Mets are dealing Sanchez and Scho to San Diego for Giles. But, who in the NL would claim a 37-year-old outfielder? Not the Dodgers, who picked up Manny last week. We’d assume someone among the Diamondbacks, Phillies, Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals, and Marlins.

The Cardinals have Rick Ankiel, Skip Schumaker, and Ryan Ludwick all having great years in the outfield. The Cubs have been in the market for an outfielder, but already have Jim Edmonds and Kosuke Fukudome from the left side. The Brewers seem set in the outfield with Corey Hart, Mike Cameron, and Ryan Braun, though they’re all righthanded bats. The D-Backs are desperate for offense, and have been starting Chris Burke in each of the corner spots. The Marlins have a righty-heavy lineup, but I don’t see them interested in Giles with Luis Gonzalez on the bench. Similarly, the Phillies have Geoff Jenkins backing up the regulars.

My money is on the Diamondbacks as the “mystery team”.

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Church Or No Church?

mets_yoyo.jpgA few days ago we were told that Ryan Church had been progressing with his “baseball activities” and as a result would be returning to the Mets “soon”. At the same time, we were given the message that “there was no timetable” for his return.

After taking batting practice yesterday, however, Church’s return became “not optimistic” according to Mets manager Jerry Manuel.

But that’s OK, because Fernando Tatis is showing no signs of letting up, and rookie Daniel Murphy is hitting .455. So if by chance Church returns, it will be gravy.

But wait, Matt Cerrone says Church looked strong in batting practice yesterday, and much hinges on his evaluation later today.

This back and forth thing is eerily familiar … didn’t we get similarly mixed messages regarding Pedro Martinez, Orlando Hernandez, Moises Alou, Angel Pagan, and Jose Valentin? Sometimes I feel like a yo-yo.

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Why Not Niese?

When the trade deadline came and went without the Mets making even a minor move to improve the team, the explanation was that they were not going to trade a few prospects for “rental” players.

Never mind that “rental” Ken Griffey would have come dirt cheap, nor that Manny Ramirez would have been worth any package the Mets had to offer. And never mind that the only trade Omar Minaya was referring to by that excuse was the outrageous demands by the Mariners for Raul Ibanez.

Put all that aside for a moment, and pretend that the Mets really didn’t make a move because they believe that the youngsters in the organization have a future not worth mortgaging for a key veteran.

If that indeed is the case, then we should EXPECT to see Jonathan Niese on the big league roster before the end of the season. Moreover, we should expect to see Niese make key starts down the stretch. After all, he isn’t Philip Humber, who was brought up merely so he could see the Empire State Building and taste a real New York bagel. The Mets have positioned Niese as the top pitching prospect in their organization, and identified him as an “untouchable”. If he’s all that, then he has to be summoned from the minors to help the big club — now.

The Mets acknowledge as much, and there were hints that he’d make his Major League debut this weekend. However, that plan was put on the shelf, and instead we’ll see re-tread Claudio Vargas make a start against the Marlins. The “logic” behind this decision is that the Marlins have a righty-heavy lineup, led by Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Jorge Cantu, Josh Willingham, and new Mets killer Cody Ross.

There’s just one little problem with that logic: the Marlins are hitting .235 against lefthanded pitchers this season — a full 20 points below their total average against all pitchers. Of their 543 runs and 155 homers this season, they’ve scored only 138 and hit only 37 four-baggers against southpaws. So either the Mets need to hire someone to check the stat sheets, or they’re full of baloney.

Personally, I don’t think Niese is ready for big-league action. But the Mets’ decision to hold the status quo through July 31 established that Niese would be fast-tracked to MLB as soon as possible. So let’s see it happen.

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