Archive: August 31st, 2008

Mets Game 137: Win Over Marlins

Mets 6 Marlins 2

It was a close ballgame until the seventh, and then the “offensive closer” came on to give the Mets enough cushion to make the bullpen relatively irrelevant.

With men on first and second and one out in the seventh, Jose Reyes smacked an opposite field RBI single that chased starter and loser Scott Olsen and ignited a three-run outburst that gave the Mets a comfortable four-run lead that they never relinquished.

Pedro Martinez pitched six strong innings, allowing only two runs on seven hits and a walk, to earn the win. After Pedro, the Mets required only five relievers to protect the lead over the final three innings. Good thing the cavalry is coming tomorrow (five pitchers from AAA).


Gary Cohen used the word “meritocracy” to describe the Mets’ bullpen. I believe that is the first time in 35 years I have ever heard the word “meritocracy” used in a baseball broadcast. In fact it may be the first time I’ve heard or seen the word since my SAT test.

There was talk from the SNY announcers that Fernando Tatis may start against the righthanded Ben Sheets on Monday — which means either Ryan Church or Daniel Murphy would not play. The way Murphy’s been hitting, I don’t see how you can sit him. Although Church has struggled since coming off the DL, I think you have to keep putting him in there until he gets his timing back — the way he swung the bat in the first two months of the season, you have to give him every opportunity to “get right”. We’ll see what happens.

Nick Evans hit his first big-league homer, a powerful blast into the left field seats. It was the second solo shot of the day for the Mets, and immediately preceded a dinger by David Wright. Evans hit a few homeruns in the minors, and many internal people believe he will develop legitimate big-league power as he gains experience. Four baggers would be a nice addition to his already sound, if slightly overmatched, offensive game.

Wright was 3-for-5, and Carlos Beltran hit the first dinger of the day, though didn’t do anything afterward. Beltran, though, has been either hitting laser beams or squibs, and I still think he’s on the verge of going ballistic.

Endy Chavez stroked a nice opposite-field single as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. It was a great thing to see, as he’s seen his playing time dwindle to nothing with the emergence of Evans/Murphy and the return of Church. Endy is no superstar but when kept sharp is a vital component — offensively and defensively — off the bench.

Next Game

The Mets travel to Milwaukee to face the Brewers in a 2:05 pm game on Monday. Aces Johan Santana and Ben Sheets will do battle.


Postseason Roster

With today the last day of August, it is also the last day for postseason rosters to be set. In other words, anyone who is NOT on the “active” or 25-man roster today, cannot play in the playoffs (should the Mets make them).

For a player to be eligible for the postseason, Major League Baseball rules require him be on the team’s active 25-man roster or on the disabled, bereavement, suspended or military lists before midnight on Aug. 31 of that season. So, playes on the 15-day DL such as Billy Wagner, Matt Wise, Ramon Castro, Marlon Anderson, Trot Nixon, John Maine, El Duque, and, believe it or not, Jason Vargas, are all eligible for the postseason roster. Several players are also on the 60-day DL as of today, including Angel Pagan, Moises Alou, Tony Armas Jr., and Ambiorix Burgos.

In addition, the rules also say that if a player eligible for the postseason is injured, the team can request permission from the commissioner’s office to replace him with a player from the minor league system — as long as the player was on a minor league roster within the organization as of Aug. 31 and still with the organization at the end of the regular season. Also, an injured pitcher can only be replaced by another pitcher and a position player by another position player (though,the positions don’t have to match, so an outfielder can replace a second baseman, for example).

Due to these rules, these players would NOT be eligible for the postseason roster (if there IS a postseason for the Mets): Al Reyes, Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, Argenis Reyes, Carlos Muniz, Eddie Kunz, Ruddy Lugo, Claudio Vargas, and Ricardo Rincon, among others. Perhaps none of the aforementioned would be valuable in a short series, but we don’t know what September will bring. For example, what if it turns out that Al Reyes can be a legitimate closer? What if Rincon recaptures the magic of being a lights-out LOOGY? What if Niese or Parnell fulfill the hype?

Most likely, if any of these players turns out to be a valuable asset, and the Mets make the playoffs, someone will turn up lame — either coincidentally or by design. I have a feeling, for example, that Duaner Sanchez could find himself disabled in the coming weeks — he simply wasn’t ready for the workload of a full season.

And speaking of the expanded roster — we’ll likely see new players arriving as early as tomorrow — I have two “sleeper”: Rincon and Amby Burgos. After seeing Rincon pitch in spring training, I couldn’t figure out how he didn’t make the roster. He spent the entire year on loan to a team in Mexico, and was quietly returned to the Mets a few days ago. If he pitched anything like he did in Port St. Lucie, the Mets may have a guy who can get out a tough lefty hitter in a key situation. And it’s no coincidence he was “hidden” in the Mexican League, where few advance scouts spend their summers — he’ll be something of a mystery to NL hitters over the last few weeks of the season.

Burgos is a longshot, and I haven’t seen him pitch since returning from Tommy John surgery. His numbers are not good in his rehab assignment in the lower levels of the minors, but that’s not necessarily an indicator — he could have been told to simply throw fastballs, stay away from sliders, and not worry about getting hit. If Burgos is anywhere near his pre-surgery velocity — which was in the triple digits — he could be a factor down the stretch. Again, a longshot, but that’s why he’s a “sleeper”.

Hat tip to “isuzudude” for suggesting this topic as a point of discussion. That said, please discuss ….


Bullpen Point

During Friday night’s edition of “Live From Mickey Mantle’s“, my co-host Mark Healey brought up an interesting point (if you missed the show, you can download it and listen to it at your leisure).

I won’t provide the exact quote, but the gist of Mark’s point was this: after the 2006 season, when the bullpen was absolutely spectacular, the Mets let two key components walk away — Chad Bradford and Darren Oliver. After the bullpen’s atrocities of the 2007 season, instead of an overhaul, they brought back the exact same personnel (except for Guillermo Mota).

I’m not going to say ChadBrad and Oliver would have definitely been the difference — though I will point out they both have continued to pitch well since their exit — but it is strange that the Mets would choose to dismantle the bullpen that “worked” and retain the one that didn’t.