Archive: July 16th, 2009

Mets Game 88: Loss to Braves

Braves 5 Mets 3

Oliver Perez got off to a strong second half start, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to do the same for the Mets.

In a matchup pitting the two top free agent pitchers coveted by the Mets last winter, Perez pitched his most effective game of the year. Of course, when your ERA was nearly in double digits a week ago, that’s not saying much. But still, we have to be happy to see baby steps from the enigmatic lefthander — perhaps by Year Three of his contract, the 36-Million-Dollar Man will begin earning his dough.

Perez walked four, struck out six, and allowed three runs on five hits in six innings. Two of those five hits, however, were solo homers blasted in the second inning that gave the Braves a quick 2-zip lead. The Mets mounted a comeback in the fourth, scoring three runs off a shaky Derek Lowe, but that was all they could muster in the contest. After Dan Murphy’s double scored Gary Sheffield, the Mets offense produced just two singles through the remainder of the game.

Notes

Ironic, isn’t it, that the starting pitchers spun similar performances, yet for Lowe, it was a mediocre outing, but for Perez, it was a good outing?

Garrett Anderson was 3-for-4 with a homerun for the Braves. Ryan Church pinch-ran for him in the 8th and eventually scored the insurance run.

Jeff Francoeur was 0-for-4 with an RBI. The Mets are 2-1 with him in the lineup.

Luis Castillo was the only Met with more than one hit.

Pedro Feliciano was victimized by Bobby Parnell’s inability to strand runners. Parnell faced two batters and allowed two hits, with one of them scoring the go-ahead run, which was charged to Feliciano. In turn, Feliciano was also charged with his third loss of the season.

The Mets are now 42-46 overall, 7.5 games behind the first-place Phillies.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Braves do it again at 7:30 PM on Friday night in Atlanta. Mike Pelfrey faces Jair Jurrjens.

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Mets Promote Angel Berroa

angel-berroaYou know it’s a slow news day when the headline is Angel Berroa.

The Mets — who signed Berroa on July 11th and assigned him to AAA Buffalo — have added the veteran infielder to the 25-man roster, replacing Argenis Reyes.

I liked the idea of Berroa as far back as late May, and still think it’s a low-risk move that isn’t going to hurt anything.

Berroa is a slick fielder with a cannon of an arm, no plate discipline, but has shown occasional pop in his past history (none of it recent, unfortunately). I doubt he can come in and replace Alex Cora at shortstop, but there’s an outside chance he can be more productive than Argenis Reyes off the bench as a pinch-hitter. Going along with Mets’ train of thought and scouting analysis, I imagine the next paint for the wall would be Wilson Betemit, assuming he can be pried away from the White Sox (maybe they’d take Angel Pagan? I mean if the Braves took Ryan Church for Jeff Francoeur …).

Back in 2003, Berroa was the AL Rookie of the Year Award, hitting .287 with 17 HR and 73 RBI as Kansas City’s starting shortstop. He hit .270 with 11 HRs as recently as 2005, but his career went downhill quickly ever since. I’m sure it’s only a coincidence that steroid testing began around that time. And I’m sure that Dominican birth certificate is legit, and he’s really 31 and not 34 or 35. In any case he’s ours now so woot-woot!

In other news Omar Minaya said Carlos Delgado won’t be ready to come back until August, there is no update on Carlos Beltran, and Jose Reyes “might” be back before the end of this month. For those wondering, the Mets do not play at home until July 27th against the no-draw Rockies. I’m sure the information about Reyes had nothing to do with potential ticket sales — so stop it, all you conspiracy theorists!

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Mets Halfway Point: Predictions

OK, it’s a little beyond the “halfway point” of the season, but MLB marks the midpoint by that farcical event produced by Bud Selig and his merry men. Now is as good a time as any to take another look at the wild predictions spewed by MetsToday on April 6th.

Here they are, in total, one by one:

The key to the Mets’ success this year will be tied to health and the production of Carlos Delgado.
There’s at least some argument here that I was on target. The Mets were 17-13 and in first place after the last game Delgado played. Since then, they’re 25-32 and have sunk to fourth.

Jose Reyes will hit 25 triples, 17 of which will come at home in Citi Field.
Um, I meant in 2010?

Johan Santana will win 21 games, and take the Cy Young.
This was looking good in early May. Johan does have 10 wins right now, which has him in a four-way tie for second place in the NL. If he fulfills his usual pattern of strong second halves, he could pull it off.

John Maine will struggle so mightily in the first half that he will be sent to the minors to work out issues with his mechanics and command.
Well …. he didn’t get sent down, but he did get sent to the disabled list. I stick by my belief that his problems — both his injuries and his control issues — are due to poor mechanics.

Livan Hernandez will be the tortoise and Oliver Perez the hare, and Livan will quietly emerge as the Mets #3 starter by year’s end, posting 13 victories.
Before his last two starts, Livan was making me look smart. He needs 8 wins in the second half to make me look the genius.

Maine and Perez will combine for less than 20 wins.
The current tally between them is 7.

Darren O’Day and Sean Green will combine for 20 decisions in middle relief.
How was I to know the Mets would flake out and waive O’Day? So far I’m 17 decisions short. Oh well. By the way, O’Day has a 1.93 ERA with a 0.93 ERA and 28 strikeouts through 28 innings in Texas, which is in the American League. You know, that league which is supposedly more difficult for pitchers.

Mike Pelfrey will take a no-hitter into the 9th inning, but settle for a one-hit shutout.
This could still happen.

Tim Redding will throw less than 50 innings all season.
Busted! Redding has already thrown 51. But how many more?

Luis Castillo will receive consideration for the All-Star Game, and finish the year with a .295 AVG., .375 OBP, and 28 SB.
OK, no one was talking about him for the ASG. But, he is currently hitting .285 with a .386 OBP and 11 SBs. Fingers crossed …

Danny Murphy will have trouble keeping his average above .250 in the first six weeks of the season, and Gary Sheffield will take over as the starting leftfielder.
As mentioned in late May, Murphy was at .246 in week 8, and Sheff had already taken over in left. Not much has changed since — Murphy’s at .248 and Sheff’s still in left.

Sheffield will be a key run producer for the Mets, and finish fourth on the team in RBI.
He’s currently third in RBI. So there.

Very few “Putz” jerseys will be sold by the Mets, for obvious reasons.
Count ’em up. .. you can do it with one hand.

Not one “Shawn Green” jersey will be sold to a patron thinking it’s a “Sean Green” jersey.
Anyone want to argue this one?

Jeremy Reed will substitute for a disabled starter at some point in the season and go on a tear, making fans almost forget Endy Chavez.
Well, I was half-right. Sort of.

Reese Havens will rocket through the Mets’ minor league system, and be considered for a September call-up.
Havens is hitting .228 through his first 53 games. Not exactly “rocketing”, though there’s still plenty of time for this to play itself out. Maybe I confused Havens with Ike Davis.

Ryan Church will be traded to the Rockies.
I was half-right.

Aaron Heilman will struggle against the Mets, but will otherwise succeed in Chicago. He’ll get a few starts when Rich Harden goes down and prompt the Cubs to move Sean Marshall back to the bullpen.
He hasn’t yet faced the Mets, and hasn’t yet gotten a start. Heilman has, however, combined with Harden to stink at least once. Heilman needs to go to St. Louis and meet Dave Duncan to be Braden Looperized, I think.

The Mets’ lack of a second LOOGY will be a major point of concern, and trade rumors will swirl around the names Eddie Guardado, Matt Thornton, and Alan Embree. The Mets will wind up with Bobby Seay, against whom lefties hit .303 lifetime.
This one really isn’t all that far off … only the names are incorrect. Replace Seay with “Takahashi”, for example.

The Mets will have a strong record outside the division, but will be only a few games above .500 against NL East teams.
Oops … just the opposite, kinda. The Mets are 18-15 against the NL East (thank GOD for the Nationals!) but 24-30 vs. everyone else. Though, take away the Nats and the Mets are 11-13 in the division.

Jose Valentin will make it back to the 25-man roster before the end of the season.
Had that silly man reported to Buffalo this one might’ve rung true. Surely he’d have been a better option than Ramon Martinez or Wilson Valdez.

Bobby Ojeda will start doing commercials for the Hair Club for Men.
There’s still time!

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Pedro Martinez is a Bad Guy?

pedro-philliesAs you may have seen, Pedro Martinez signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Interestingly, he signed a $1M contract only after passing a physical, yet was immediately placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sore shoulder. Go figure. Well, whatever. The point is, Pedro is now a Phillie. And last I checked, the Phillies were still in the NL East (and still in first place).

What’s more interesting was the negativity thrown around by the local media just prior to the announcement. I’m speaking specifically about Tuesday afternoon, on 1050ESPN Radio, when Seth Everett called in with his thoughts on the Pedro signing. His direct quote:

“I don’t value chemistry a great deal, but Pedro Martinez is going to tear that clubhouse upside down. Someone is going to have to put him in his place really quickly.”

Don La Greca went on for several minutes explaining why he agreed with Everett — agreeing that Pedro could be a big problem in the Phillies’ clubhouse, and wondering why the Phillies would want to mess up that “winning chemistry”. Huh?

Apparently, the reason given as to why Pedro would be disruptive was this: “because let’s face it, he’s Pedro Martinez”. Um …. ok …. and that means …. ?

Very strange, no? Am I the crazy one? Because I don’t remember one — NOT ONE — report or quip from anyone in the New York media describing Pedro Martinez as anything but an absolute joy in the clubhouse, a leadership figure, and a wonderful teammate from 2005-2008. I do remember some talk of Pedro being something of a prima donna PRIOR TO his arriving in Flushing, but from the moment he donned the orange and blue, all we heard was how he was a tremendous teammate and positive force in the clubhouse. If I missed something, please direct me to evidence to the contrary.

So how in the world did Pedro go from good guy to bad guy? Hmm … isn’t it incredibly coincidental (or convenient) that news of Pedro being a clubhouse cancer and his signing with the Mets’ #1 rival came simultaneously? The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if someone in the Mets front office offered a few favors to some people in the media to spread some filth and malaise regarding Pedro, to help explain why they didn’t re-sign him. After all, there are many, many Mets fans who purchased “Martinez 45” jerseys over the past four years. And, to steal a phrase from the late Desi Arnaz (as Ricky Ricardo), Omar Minaya has “some ‘splainin’ to do” as to why Pedro went to the Phillies when his heart was still with the Mets.

If there was any confusion as to where Pedro wanted to pitch in 2009, he cleared it up at his press conference in Philadelphia:

I was hoping the Mets would make a move and they didn’t, so I decided to wait. It wasn’t my decision to not be in New York. It was someone else’s.

Look, I’ll be the first to question whether Pedro can help an MLB team right now. And, my opinion is clouded by my bias for him — I love watching him pitch and compete, and that may make me feel he’s better than he really is at this point of his career. Being as objective as possible, it’s hard to say that Martinez can be more than a 5-inning pitcher right now. Though, for a “measly” one million bucks, I find it hard to believe that he’s more of a gamble than Tim Redding was at $2.2M. Even if Redding can outperform Martinez in on the mound, I doubt highly that anyone outside of Rochester bought tickets specifically because Redding was the scheduled starting pitcher. And I haven’t seen too many “Redding 44” Mets jerseys in Citi Field (or Modell’s, for that matter).

Maybe Pedro Martinez could have helped out at the back end of the Mets rotation. Maybe not. But of all the factors going into the decision, I’m not getting the “bad clubhouse guy” thing. If the Mets are trying to smear his reputation — heck, if anyone is looking to smear it — it only makes me want to pull for Pedro all the more, even in a Phillies uniform. I might have felt differently if Omar Minaya didn’t string him along — as well as all the prospective season-ticket buyers — with news in late January suggesting that the Mets were still considering bringing him back.

Can Pedro help the Phillies? Who knows? Certainly, he should be at least as effective as Rodrigo Lopez, and we all remember what Lopez did to the Mets in his first start since the Nixon administration. To me, it’s a low-risk move by Philly, and if Pedro can win four or five games in the second half, it makes the Mets look REALLY bad. Can’t you just see this drama setting itself up? The Mets playing the second game of a doubleheader against the Phillies on Sunday, September 13th, 19 games behind the Phillies, and losing to Pedro on national TV (FOX) to mathemetically eliminate them from the NL East title? It could happen.

If you’re interested, my wife looked at the signing, compared it to the Tim Redding, Freddy Garcia, and Oliver Perez contracts, and had this to say:

“The Mets are stupid”

Hard to argue.

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