Browsing Archive April, 2009

Happy Birthday Bob Hendley

bob-hendleyBob Hendley was a fairly nondescript pitcher from the 1960s who started 13 games for the Mets in 1967, his final year in MLB.

Hendley did have one brush with fame, though. On September 9th, 1965, as a member of the Chicago Cubs, Hendley pitched a brilliant one-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately, opposing pitcher Sandy Koufax threw a perfect game. Tough luck. Five days later he locked horns with Koufax again, but this time was the victor, throwing a four-hitter en route to a 2-1 win.

Hendley did not have any similarly interesting outings as a Met, though he wasn’t terrible, either. Over 15 games (13 starts), he had a 3-3 record, 3.44 ERA, and two complete games. In other words, he’d be the Mets’ #2 starter if he were on the team today.

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Random Concerns

There are obvious problems for the Mets right now, such as David Wright and Oliver Perez. But some others are less hyped, yet just as concerning. For example ….

The Mets lost yesterday despite having their ace pitch brilliantly and despite the fact that the Marlins’ best two hitters (Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla) were out of lineup. If they can’t beat the Fish under those circumstances, then how CAN they beat them?

Besides wasting a stellar effort by Johan Santana yesterday, the Mets have more or less wasted a vicious hot streak by Carlos Beltran, who hit .395 for the month of April. Those types of streaks come along only once or twice a season, and my eyes tell me that Carlos is emerging from his unconsciousness. The numbers support it as well — though he has a 6-game hitting streak, Beltran is hitting only .266 over that span.

The revamped bullpen, despite leading the NL in ERA, has a 1-5 record. Five members are on pace to appear in 80 or more games. Pedro Feliciano is on pace to appear in 92.

Frankie Rodriguez is on pace to collect less than half as many saves as last year’s record-breaking 62.

The Mets have yet to win the third game of a three-game series (oh-fer-seven).

The Phillies have a winning record, are in second place, and are 1.5 games out of first — despite injuries to Cole Hamels, Brad Lidge, and Carlos Ruiz, and despite Jimmy Rollins’ .207 batting average for the month of April (he was below .200 until yesterday). They’re also winning despite carrying Miguel Cairo on the roster and using Chan Ho Park as their fifth starter.

The Braves are ahead of the Mets as well, despite losing Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, Tim Hudson, Jorge Campillo, Tom Glavine, and Garret Anderson for various stretches in April.

Considering the above, what happens when the Phillies and Braves get healthy? What if Carlos Delgado and/or Luis Castillo hit the DL for an extended stint? I fear the worst for the Mets is yet to come.

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Link Roundup

Several members of the media question the emasculation of Ramon Castro, including Ed Coleman.

Similarly, Adam Rubin believes Jerry Manuel is burning his bridges with Castro, and doesn’t understand why he was tweaking Ryan Church earlier this spring, either. Oh, he also thinks Manuel is burning out the bullpen. Funny how those things are more noticeable when you’re losing.

Mike Vaccaro also wakes up and smells the coffee, pointing out that Jerry Manuel had a “personality conflict” with Frank Thomas in Chicago, and wonders if the banishment of Ramon Castro is a prelude to challenging Carlos Delgado or David Wright.

Enough negativity … how about something positive? The Yankees are slashing their ticket prices. Oh, wait, those reductions are only for the highest-priced, premium seats — the ones that, ironically, are in the direct focus of the centerfield TV camera.

Maybe today’s video will make you smile. It is Wally Backman speaking from his RV, about everything from the ’86 Mets to his theories on the DH.

Use the left/right arrows to jump from clip to clip:

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Santos for Castro Revisited

There were other reasons the Mets lost yesterday, but the magnifying glass is on Jerry Manuel’s unbelievably illogical decision to replace Ramon Castro with Omir Santos in the bottom of the ninth, with two outs and the bases loaded.

Per Manuel:

“I thought Santos had a better shot. I think Santos has a little shorter swing and when you have a little shorter swing it’s easier to get to a guy who’s throwing in the upper 90s. If it would’ve been a different, um, let’s say a sinker-slider guy, then Ramon would’ve continued to hit.”

Manuel stated this with conviction and clarity, and looked every writer in the eye as he said it. It was still absolute idiocy.

First is the obvious: Ramon Castro has 11 years’ big league experience, compared to Santos’ 35 MLB at-bats.

Second is the just as obvious: Castro already had two hits on the day, both off of Josh Johnson, who BY THE WAY was throwing in the upper 90s. In fact his 97-98 MPH fastballs were only a mile or two slower than Matt Lindstrom’s 98-99 MPH heaters.

Third is the nearly as obvious: Santos was “cold”, meaning, he’d been sitting on the bench all game. Pinch-hitting is hard enough, but to come into a game late and face a guy throwing that kind of gas … well, it’s damn near impossible to get a hit.

Fourth is the not-so-obvious: Omir Santos was unprepared to pinch-hit. He was so sure he had no chance of getting into the game at that point, he was somewhere in the clubhouse (getting undressed? head start on the caterer’s table? on the can?).

What this move came down to was Jerry Manuel deciding that he’d take a page out of Joe Torre’s book and “play a hunch”. If it worked, he’d be praised in the press as an absolute genius. If it didn’t, no matter, he’s still a media darling and they’ll give him a pass. Heck, if he explains himself clearly and looks everyone in the eye, no one will question how blatantly stupid a move it was. This Jedi mind trick stuff has been working since last June, after all.

Unfortunately for Jerry, this blogger is calling you to the carpet. My guess is the rest of the media will follow suit, and shortly.

Let’s not forget that this time next week, Omir Santos will be in Buffalo and Ramon Castro will still be a New York Met. Manuel has more or less sent the message that he does not trust in Castro’s skill at the plate in a big spot — how is that going to affect Castro’s psyche in future situations? How would YOU feel, if you were Ramon Castro?

By the way, Jerry Manuel is signed through 2010, and will collect $1.5M for this year and next. Willie Randolph is due to receive $2.25M this year. The chance that the Wilpons will eat almost $4M AND pay someone new is next to nil. So get used to the idiocy.

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Mets Game 21: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 4 Mets 3

One of the reasons the Mets obtained J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez was to make sure the starts of Johan Santana would not be wasted. After all, their ace lefty might have won 20 games in 2008 — and the Cy Young — had the bullpen not blown several of Santana’s leads.

So much for that idea.

Santana was strong through seven, leaving the game after 104 pitches. Immediately prior to Johan’s final frame, Fernando Tatis blasted a solo homer to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. With seven innings in the books, a one-run lead, and the final six outs in the hands of the Putz-KRod tandem, it appeared to be game over for the Fish.

But Putz struggled mightily, walking the first two Fish he faced, who moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. Cody Ross then jumped on the first pitch he saw and singled up the middle, and “poof”, the Mets lead was gone. By the time the inning ended, Putz had faced five batters, threw 24 pitches, 13 for strikes, and allowed two runs.

The Mets mounted a rally against Matt Lindstrom in the bottom of the ninth, but it petered out when pinch-hitter Omir Santos popped out to short with the bases loaded.

Game Notes

To me, Putz looked like he was laboring through his warmup pitches. His velocity was there (for the most part), but he had no command. It reminded me of Aaron Heilman around this time last year.

Fernando Tatis was fabulous, going 3-for-4 with 2 runs and an RBI. He was poised to be the hero — for the second time in the day — with men on second and third in the ninth, but was hit by a pitch.

Why was Omir Santos sent up to hit for Ramon Castro, who had two hits on the day? At first, I thought there was an injury to Castro — maybe back spasms or something — since no one appeared in the batter’s box for several minutes. Then, I thought perhaps someone had inadvertently hit out of order. After a few more minutes, Santos came out of the dugout — presumably, straight from the men’s room (or wherever he was). I’m guessing this was Jerry Manuel’s stab at over-managing, or positioning Santos to be a hero and making him look like a genius for his “hunch”. Or maybe he just wanted to disrupt Lindstrom, or make him cool down. I don’t know, because the move made no sense from any angle. Both of Castro’s hits came off starter Josh Johnson, who was throwing 97-98 MPH. Lindstrom was throwing 98-99. Santos was cold coming off the bench, and despite his grand slam the other day, remains a AAAA player.

In addition to the Santos-for-Castro move being a tactical oddity, it sent a message to Castro: “I don’t believe in you”. Not the best way to keep your player motivated — particularly one who seemed to finally find some self-motivation this offseason.

In hindsight, it would have been nice to have had Danny Murphy and his .529 average as a pinch-hitter available on the bench in the late innings. He could have hit for Cora in the 8th with Jeremy Reed on third, or for Castro in the ninth. Though, had Murphy not started, who knows if either of those situations would have evolved as they did.

Next Game

A welllllllll deserved day off for the Mets tomorrow, then they begin a three-game set in Philadelphia. Mike Pelfrey starts against Chan Ho Park at 7:05 PM on Friday night. See, there is a glimmer of hope after all.

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