Browsing Archive September, 2008

Tonight’s Game – 9/9/2008

From the view from the Hudson River, the rain has been on and off all day and therefore not sure if there will be a Mets game tonight.

If there is, be sure to head on over to Mets Chat to “twitter” about the game. Your MetsToday login and password should work, but if not, register again over there and/or email me. We worked out most of the kinks this weekend, and it seems to be working pretty well.

If the game is canceled or delayed, you may fulfill your need for baseball watching by going to the Playing For Peanuts site, where another new episode is available for viewing. It includes commentary and insight from the producer John Fitzgerald. Good stuff.

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Did Burgos Blow It?

If you haven’t heard, Ambiorix Burgos was arrested for beating his girlfriend at a hotel near Shea Stadium on Monday night.

Since he was in the area, it’s assumed that Burgos was healthy enough to join the Mets sometime this month and audition for the 2009 closer’s role. After all, if he’s anywhere near the triple-digit MPH on his fastball — he hit 100 with ease before Tommy John surgery — you’d have to think he’d be among the top internal candidates to replace Billy Wagner next season.

However, the arrest — coupled with the graphic description provided by the Daily News — will not sit well with the squeaky-clean image the Wilpons try to set for their ballclub. If the front office was unhappy with Paul LoDuca’s chasing after teeny boppers, they must be fuming over this incident. And well they should — a 6’3″, 244-lb. professional athlete should be keeping his paws (and teeth) off the opposite sex.

The wrong thing to do, however, would be to release or trade Burgos. The right thing would be for the Mets to foot the bill for counseling and an anger-management program. Getting Burgos to publicly apologize is an obvious move, and should be coupled with “strongly suggesting” that Burgos make a significant donation to an organization for battered women. These are the bare minimum of actions to take place before Burgos can consider playing for the Mets again.

Hopefully, Burgos can get his personal issues straightened out. If the Mets and their fans can forgive Guillermo Mota for taking PEDs and Paul LoDuca for cheating on his wife, perhaps they can also, eventually, welcome back Burgos. But he has a long road ahead of him before that can happen. Even if it turns out — when we get the whole story — that he is in some way not guilty, the damage has been done. The court of public opinion is much more influential in cases like this, and affects a person for a much longer term — just ask Wally Backman.

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Happy with Ayala?

A recent MetsBlog poll revealed that 80% of Mets fans would choose Luis Ayala to be the closer in place of Billy Wagner — who we’ve now discovered is out for the year, and then some.

Of course, that was a poll taken TODAY. We’ll see what the teeming millions (er, thousands) feel about Ayala a week from now.

Personally, this news is not shocking — based on the limited info we had, it sounded to me like Wags’ return was a longshot — but it does make me worry about the ninth inning of close games.

But why should I be so worried? After all, Ayala has converted five of six save opportunities, and is sporting a svelte 2.70 ERA since coming to the Mets. And behind him, we have another resurrection, Brian Stokes, who in 23 IP has a 1.09 WHIP and 2.35 ERA.

Perhaps I’m just a worry wart.

Or perhaps I’m concerned about the day Ayala and Stokes fall back to Earth — those “humans” are frightenting. You know, the Ayala who was 1-8 with a 5.77 ERA in 62 previous games with the Nationals, and the Stokes who had a 7.07 ERA in 59 games with the Rays last year. Yes, it’s possible for people to come off the scrap heap and do well. But THIS well? Color me pessimistic.

But I’ll try to stay positive and pretend this Ayala/Stokes thing is for real, and move on from there. If we subscribe to the idea that the recent success of Ayala and Stokes means continued success through the end of September, we must also believe that the recent failures of Aaron Heilman, Duaner Sanchez, Pedro Feliciano, and Scott Schoeneweis will also continue. And please, don’t bring up the last 26.2 innings of shutout ball from the bullpen before taking a look at the scores of those games — it’s much easier to pitch when there is a cushion, or when you’re down by several runs. Don’t tell me you trust any of the aforementioned four guys in a one-run or tie ballgame.

That said, who is there to use in the sixth and seventh, to bridge the gap to Stokes and Ayala, in a one-run ballgame in the last two weeks of the season? In the playoffs? Shouldn’t we be auditioning some of those extra arms on the roster, right now?

For instance, in what situation will we see Bobby Parnell? A seven-run lead in the ninth against the Brewers apparently wasn’t enough cushion to take a gander at this particular “untouchable”. Down six runs against the Phillies also wasn’t a good time — not even to see him face one batter. Perhaps if the Mets can go ahead by 15 against the Nationals, we’ll see Parnell warm up in the ‘pen. But then, we won’t know if he can handle an IMPORTANT situation.

How soon we forget Philip Humber, who was treated with kid gloves all last September, then was needed to pitch the game of his life in the most important game of the year. Not too much pressure, eh? Maybe he would have had half a chance had he gotten his feet wet earlier in the month.

And what happened to Eddie Kunz, another one of the “untouchables”? He was brought up here, given the Aaron Sele treatment, and not surprisingly stunk up the joint. This kid is supposed to have the “mentality to be a closer”, and “filthy stuff” — so when are we going to see him given the chance to prove it? I don’t mean he has to close, but let’s at least get him back on the active roster and put him into some 6th-inning situations — and not once every ten days.

Similarly, we have yet to see Al Reyes — though I imagine he’s still recovering from a shoulder injury, so we’ll be patient on that one. At least we did get to see Ricardo Rincon, who was extraordinary in his first crack at retiring lefties. I’ll take him over the Scho in a tough spot against a LH batter right now.

In his 18 lackluster appearances, Carlos Muniz may have already proven he’s not the answer (this year) — but Omar Minaya still compares him to a young Chad Cordero. But will he get the ball enough to make good on that comparison?

The Billy Wagner news doesn’t seem so disastrous right now because the offense (Carlos Delgado) has been outstanding lately, and scoring enough runs to make the latter innings less important. But the offensive ride may not last, and what happens then? Will there be one or two relief pitchers who can keep things tight in the last week of the season? We won’t know who those men are unless they’re given the ball a few times now — this week.

Let’s — for once — learn something from last year.

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Wagner On Willie

With all the Willie bashing and contrasting love for Jerry Manuel, I feel it appropriate to post the following, a quote from Billy Wagner given to the Daily News:

As for Manuel’s managerial style since replacing Willie Randolph in June, Wagner said, “I keep hearing about Willie getting bashed. But Willie, in all respect, had no real influence on how we were playing. We’re all individuals, were all playing hard, but we just weren’t getting it done, earlier this year and the end of last year.

“I’d probably say his best managing was when we were not playing well. He was trying to make the most of it, trying to make things happen, and those things weren’t happening. But for whatever reason, when Jerry was named interim manager … we just finally hit our stride.”

No comment from me … just trying to help balance the heavy pile on Willie in the media / on the blogs this year.

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Mets Game 143: Win Over Phillies

Mets 6 Phillies 3

The Mets needed this one, and this game was the exact reason the Mets traded half their farm system for Johan Santana.

As per his job requirement, Santana delivered.

Johan pitched seven and a third, and gave up two runs on five hits and three walks. After running into some trouble in the first three frames, he found a rhythm and shut down the not-so-fightin’ Phils the rest of the way.

But the hero of the game was Carlos “MVP” Delgado, who has done a remarkable job of coming full circle. Delgado drove in two runs in the bottom of the first to put the Mets ahead 3-1, then blasted two solo moon shots to give them a 5-2 advantage.

The Mets tacked on a run in the 8th on a triple by Damion Easley followed by a sac fly by Brian Schneider, which turned out big since he Phillies scored a run in the top of the ninth.

Luis Ayala gave up that run but finished the game with the Mets on the right side of the scoreboard. Pedro Feliciano and Brian Stokes did their jobs as well in the 8th to squelch a mini-rally.

Notes

Delgado’s hot evening resulted in him reaching 100 RBI for the ninth time in his career. He’s now tied for third in the NL in RBI, five behind teammate David Wright.

Remarkably, Carlos Lee is one of the men he’s tied with — and Lee hasn’t played since August 9th. Imagine what kind of year Lee might have finished with had he not been injured.

Delgado’s two dingers give him 33 on the season, catapulting him into fourth in the NL — one ahead of Albert Pujols and one behind Ryan Braun.

The debut of MetsChat.com was a little glitchy for game one, but seemed to be working OK for game two, and we had a few chatters (or twitters?). We may try it again if people are interested.

Next Game

Mets have a day off on Monday, then face host the Nationals on Tuesday for a 7:10 pm game. Oliver Perez goes against John Lannan.

Strangely, the Mets also have a day off on Thursday before the Braves come to town. In contrast, the Phillies have games on both days. Methinks the schedule is in favor of our Metsies.

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Mets Game 142: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 6 Mets 2

Too little, too late.

The Mets couldn’t get to Jamie Moyer before he turned in for his afternoon nap, and Pedro Martinez let the Phillies jump ahead to an early 6-0 lead in a disappointing game for Mets fans.

With the loss, the Mets also lost the series to the Phillies, and will have to come back guns ablazin’ tonight to avoid a sweep — and a tie for first.

Notes

The Mets managed only two hits against Moyer, then hit three doubles in the 8th against Scott Eyre.

If there is a positive, the Phillies were forced to use Eyre, Ryan Madson, and J.C. Romero — which could affect their availability or performance in the nightcap.

Next Game

Johan Santana vs. Cole Hamels three hours from now. I think I’ve fixed the initial glitches with MetsChat.com, so if you want to log in over there and post your notes before or during the game, please do. Of course you can still post your opinions here as well.

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Mets Games 142 and 143 vs. Phillies

The most important doubleheader of the season, for both the Mets and the Phillies, will be played today.

Game one starts at 2:15 pm and has wily veterans Pedro Martinez vs. Jamie Moyer. That game will be shown on SNY and will have interactive elements in lieu of commercials for the first five innings — including segments with Matt Cerrone.

Game two begins at 8 pm and will be shown on ESPN. Aces Johan Santana and Cole Hamels face each other.

Both games can be heard on WFAN as well as XM — game one on XM 179, game two on XM 183.

In addition, I’ll be tinkering around with posting game notes in a Twitter-like environment, and I strongly encourage you to join in and post your own notes. Visit MetsChat.com to check it out — your MetsToday login/password should work (assuming I set things up correctly); send me a note if you can’t get in.

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Doug Flynn’s Inspirational Email

Doug Flynn Topps 1978 baseball cardIn response to Mike Schmidt’s email to the Phillies, former Met Doug Flynn sent a note of his own to the home team clubhouse at Shea.

It read:

Right here, right now, there is no other place you want to be, watching the world wake up from history. Bat on the ball, take two and hit one to right, hit ’em where they ain’t. Choke up with two strikes. Spit in your glove to keep it from drying out. Pick up pebbles in the infield that could cause bad hops.

And if you wake up in the morning with your head on fire and your eyes too bloody to see, go on and cry in your coffee but don’t pitch to Utley. You guys have to be big shots, you have to prove it to the crowd.

The Phillies think you might be better than you think you are. They know last year was such a fluke it can’t happen again. And I played for Joe Torre, the same guy who won all those games for the Yankees, so I know what I’m talking about.

Good luck and may the Lord be with you. #23

(er, #23 as in NOT Dave Schneck, Leroy Stanton, Tim Bogar, Bernard Gilkey, McKay Christenson, Jason Phillips, Julio Franco, nor any of those other guys, but me, Dougie Flynn)

Doug Flynn, like Mike Schmidt, was a Gold Glove-winning infielder from the late 1970s/1980s and also like Schmidt, was the best infielder on his team (1979 Mets). Also in common with THIRD-baseman Schmidt: Flynn is best known for hitting the THIRD inside-the-park homerun in Shea Stadium history, being the THIRD Met to win a Gold Glove, and was the THIRD-best player in the package sent by the Reds to the Mets in return for Tom Seaver. Flynn, who is now a banker in his hometown of Lexington, Kentucky, also shares with Schmidt the status of irrelevancy to the Mets and their fans.

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