Archive: June 4th, 2009

Why the Pirates are Better than the Mets

carlos-beltranCarlos Beltran, after missing the first two games of the series against the Pirates, hit a double and a homerun in third contest, and afterward had these inspiring words:

The reality is, coming here to Pittsburgh and getting swept, for me, I feel embarrassed… We need to find a way to play better and to focus more on what we need to accomplish… I mean, we have to take this personally. It can’t happen… I know the Pirates are a big-league team, but we’re better than them. We’re better than them, and we know we’re better than them. But, we have to do something about it. McLouth wasn’t here and they still came out and scored 11 runs. 11 runs? We have to play better.

Hmm … is Beltran throwing the team under the bus for the first two games? Not exactly inspiring words. Reminds me of Kelly Leak, and I’m not sure why. Anyway, I digress. We move on to the crux of the matter.

The truth is, the depleted Mets squad that took the field in the first two games of this series most certainly is NOT better than the Pirates. Without Carlos Delgado, this team cannot be considered a postseason club. Take away Jose Reyes — and replace him with a AAA shortstop with zero offense — and suddenly the Mets are probably a .500 club. Remove Beltran from the equation, as well as Ryan Church, and the Mets become a sub-.500 team that struggles because it’s either overmatched offensively or beating itself via poor fundamentals.

In other words, a team that will have a tough time beating the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates are short on All-Stars, and their offense doesn’t remind anyone of the old “Pittsburgh Lumber Co.”. But, most of their pitchers do a decent job of putting the ball over the plate, their fielding is above average, they hustle, they put the ball in play, and they have a few athletes who can change a ballgame with their speed. All that adds up to a team that shouldn’t embarrass itself, and should win close to 50% of their games.

Are the Pirates better than the Mets? Right now, maybe. Without Beltran in the lineup, probably. Are the Pirates better than a 100% healthy Mets roster? No way. But the Mets have to play the current hand they’re dealt, and manager Jerry Manuel is holding few face cards — with an ace that only appears once every five days.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the Mets should expect to lose, or to lay down for cellar-dwellers such as the Nationals. But one needs to look around and see reality, rather than admonishing the lucky few who have been able to stay on the field. Right now, it’s a Mets team in shambles, but one that should be able to see a light at the end of the tunnel.


Mets Game 52: Loss to Pirates

Pirates 11 Mets 6

Ouch. Not sure where to begin.

On the bright side, the Mets’ supposedly feeble offense scored six times, which is usually enough to win a big league game. Indeed, they knocked Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf out of the game by the fifth frame. Unfortunately, Mets starter Mike Pelfrey allowed 9 Pirates to cross the plate in the first four, and the Mets never had a chance to catch up.

It didn’t help that J.J. Putz, in his debut as mop-up man, allowed another two runs to put the game completely out of reach in the seventh.

Among the big men on offense for the McLouthless Buccos were Jason Jaramillo (2 hits, 4 RBI), Ramon Vazquez (4-for-4), and McLouth’s replacement, rookie Andrew McCutchen, who went 2-for-4 with a walk, 3 runs scored, and an RBI from the leadoff spot.


The Pirates hit zero home runs in this contest.

In the second inning, Danny Murphy was thrown out three times within three minutes, but not called out until the third time. He was picked off first by Ross Ohlendorf (but called safe), thrown out attempting to go first to third on a Fernando Martinez single (again called safe), and finally put out attempting to score on a grounder by Omir Santos. Gotta love the kid’s exuberance, and if he was just a little luckier, the Mets would’ve had another run.

A few minutes later, Ohlendorf picked off Luis Castillo at first base (he didn’t slide), but again the ump called him safe. If I were Ohlendorf, I’d be hating on the umps, as he would’ve been out of that difficult second inning with no runs scored.

Though, Castillo beat out a grounder in the first frame, and was called out instead of safe. So the umps were bad all around. Not that it mattered.

Sean Green proved he can be an outstanding pitcher, so long as he has been given at least one full day of rest and is brought into a pressure-free situation. Green threw two stellar, shutout innings before yielding to the Putz.

Can you define this as a sweep? I’m going to say no, and wait to see what happens when these two clubs meet again for the makeup game on July 3.

Next Game

The Mets can’t get out of Pittsburgh fast enough, and head into Washington, DC to face the always-tough Nationals on Friday night. Tim Redding tries to pitch into the fifth inning against rookie Shairon Martis, who is gunning for his sixth win against one loss. Game time is 7:05 PM.


Available Players to Consider

Do the ailing and injured New York Mets need to bring in outside reinforcements? If so, a few have become available. One by one:

Vicente Padilla

The righthanded pitcher was waived by the Rangers after a miserable 3-inning, 7-ER start against the Yankees. He’s 3-3 with a 5.97 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP through 9 games and 53 innings.

He must be really bad, if the Rangers are willing to eat his $12M contract to get him off the roster; few teams will be willing to take on the $8M he’s owed between now and the end of the season.

But, he has shown signs of effectiveness — for example the three starts prior to the Yankees massacre, in which he pitched 23 innings and gave up only 12 hits and 4 earned runs. Think about that — in his last four starts, he’s pitched eight innings twice and seven innings once.

Though he hasn’t allowed a ton of homeruns — 4 total, and none in his last 5 starts — he does give up a large number of fly balls, something unusual for a sinker-slider pitcher such as himself. In his 8-inning win over the Angels two weeks ago, he allowed 21 airballs. Strangely enough, he’s had one game in which he induced 14 ground balls (also an 8-inning victory).

A move to the NL and a spacious ballpark could be a good thing for Padilla. But, he’s an eternal enigma, often beating himself and crumbling in the face of adversity (see: Oliver Perez). Additionally, he’s been fighting a shoulder issue for the past month. Is he worth the headache? Tim Redding’s next start may provide the answer, though I might prefer seeing Nelson Figueroa on the roster.

Wilson Betemit

Oh how quickly and how far mighty talents can fall. It wasn’t so long ago that Betemit was a phenom in the Atlanta organization, a sure-handed, switch-hitting shortstop with corner-infield power. A few years and four organizations later, he finds himself DFA’d by the White Sox, dragging with him a .200 average in 50 at-bats.

Is he worth picking up? If this were two weeks ago, when Jose Reyes first went on the DL? Probably. One week ago, when the Mets were scrambling to find someone better than Ramon Martinez to play SS? Definitely. Now, with Alex Cora back, Wilson Valdez playing well, and Martinez on the DL? Absolutely.

Here’s why: Betemit is a natural shortstop who can play all four infield positions and both outfield corners. He hits from both sides of the plate, and shown a bit of power in the past. He’s 27 years old. Need I go on?

The negative is that he swings and misses — a lot. Last year he struck out 56 times and took only 6 walks in 204 plate appearances. So you can compare him to Billy Hall — a super utilityman with a little pop and a lot of whiffs. I still like him better than some of the other 25th-man options that we’ve seen thus far.

Tom Glavine

We discussed this yesterday. On paper, he might be worth a try, and the Wilpons love him. I don’t think the fans can stomach his return, however.

Jorge Julio

15 walks and a 7.79 ERA through 17 innings was too much for Milwaukee to handle. Rick Peterson’s tight leash made him almost valuable as a one-inning guy, but I don’t think he’d flourish in the Dan Warthen era. He still throws in the upper 90s, so someone will take a chance. No thanks.

Pat Misch

Who is Pat Misch, you ask? He’s a crafty lefthanded reliever most recently employed by the San Francisco Giants. He’s not particularly good — a career 5.20 ERA through 97 MLB IP (and double that this year) — but he’s slightly more effective vs. LH hitters than righties. As long as Ken Takahashi continues to struggle against lefthanded hitters, the Mets need to at least take a glance at any and every southpaw on the market. Maybe he’s worth giving a look-see in AAA.