Archive: July 21st, 2009

Mets Game 93: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 4 Mets 0

Apparently, the Nationals did not get the memo.

The Mets were supposed to steamroll over the reeling Nats, come out of the District of Columbia with a three-game win streak, poised to continue their roll against the ho-hum NL West also-rans, and give the Flushing fans hope that, indeed, the team would be in pole position when the cavalry arrived.

Instead, Long Beach, NY native John Lannan paralyzed the previously potent Mets offense, spinning a seven-hit shutout and earning his seventh win of the season (against seven losses).

Oliver Perez was … well, Oliver Perez. He allowed only 4 hits, but that was mainly because he didn’t give the Nationals many pitches to hack at. In addition to the four hits, Perez also walked 6 and hit a batter in his 6-inning stint. Two of the walked batters came around to score, as did the hit batter. So there you go.

In contrast, Lannan did not walk anyone, nor hit anyone.

Notes

Perez has now walked 17 in his 17 innings pitched since coming off the DL.

Remarkably, Jerry Manuel harped on the fact that the Mets need to “play better defense”. Really? Is that the problem? Huh. I didn’t know you could score runs while in the field.

Manuel was incredibly motivating during the postgame, by the way. After hearing his sob story, I was motivated to down a bottle of cheap whiskey and slit my wrists.

Also during the SNY postgame show, Gary Apple and the other numnuts / loudmouths / whatever they’re called suggested that these Mets might “give up” when they’re behind late in games. Um, is that any different from the resigned attitude demonstrated by the “other” Mets after falling behind — the Mets that included the Carloses, Reyes, etc.? Only the faces have changed, folks — the song remains the same!

The last time John Lannan faced the Mets, he threw his first MLB complete game. This time, he threw his first MLB shutout. The next time? His first MLB no-hitter?

Rumor has it that John Ricco is working the phones trying to get Mark David Chapman released from Attica before the Mets play the Nats again in September — with the hopes that Chapman confuses John Lannan with John Lennon.

The Mets hit 17 ground balls during the contest. Keith Hernandez suggested that would not have been the case had Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, and Jose Reyes been in the lineup. Really? Based on what? And does that mean there would’ve been more popups or strikeouts? And how does this affect the price of tea in China?

For those unaware, Ollie Perez is one of the guys whose DL stint was considered a “blow” to the Mets’ chances — one of the “cavalry”. Be careful what you wish for.

Jeff Francoeur had two of the Mets hits and an outfield assist. Somehow I missed all of that excitement. I must’ve blinked three times. Crap.

Bobby Ojeda keeps saying that “small ball gets shut down”. No Bobby, it doesn’t. What gets shut down is a team built to wait for 3-run homers that suddenly tries to play small ball. Ojeda should know better, having faced the KC Royals, Oakland A’s, and St. Louis Cardinals of the early 1980s. Teams that know how to play small ball, and execute it consistently, DO NOT GET SHUT DOWN — that’s the whole point. Teams that rely on sluggers tend to run hot and cold, but teams that win based on speed, defense, pitching, situational hitting, and fundamentals, are less prone to cold streaks.

You know things are bad when Gary Cohen moves away from reporting the play by play, and instead offers an ear to Keith Hernandez, as “Mex” chats about his days as a high school pitcher, his non-feud with Don Mattingly, and the fact that “…if I was a righthander, my dad would’ve made me a shortstop, because I was quick and athletic — unlike my brother, who was tall and lanky and not as coordinated — and that’s the fastest way to the big leagues …”

Though, as long as you mention it Keith, I always thought being a catcher was the fastest way to the bigs. Whatever … we can argue about it tomorrow evening, instead of paying attention to the game.

The Mets have now been shut out 7 times in their last 17 ballgames. What is this, 1974? Where is Eddie Kranepool?

Next Mets Game

The rubber match occurs at 7:05 PM on Wednesday night in Washington. Mike Pelfrey pitches against Craig Stammen. I can’t believe it’s Pelf’s turn to pitch again already … it seems like he just pitched yesterday. That can’t be a good sign.

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Someone Is On Crack

crack_pipeBy now you’ve read or heard about Jon Heyman’s SI column reporting that the Mets turned down a Blue Jays trade proposal for Roy Halladay.

According to Heyman:

Toronto’s request of the Mets for star pitcher Roy Halladay was for top outfield prospect Fernando Martinez, young pitchers Bobby Parnell and Jon Niese and shortstop prospect Ruben Tejada, sources tell SI.com.

The Mets responded with a resounding no.

OK, someone here is on crack, and I want to know who. The authorities need to be informed and someone needs to go to jail, because drugs are bad, and hurt everyone.

Either it’s Heyman, for not getting the facts straight, JP Ricciardi, for making such a light proposal, or Omar Minaya, for not pulling the trigger. Because seriously, the Mets wouldn’t want to trade four youngsters with less than a half season of MLB experience combined in return for the best pitcher in MLB? They wouldn’t want to pair the best pitcher in MLB with the second-best pitcher in MLB (take your pick on who’s who), and have the most dominating 1-2 duo since Curt Schilling / Randy Johnson? (Some would argue that Halladay / Santana would be more dominating.) Really?

For the crack smokers out there who are emotionally tied to F-Mart, Niese, Parnell, and a 17-year-old you likely wouldn’t know if he was sitting on your living room couch, may I remind you of David West, Alex Ochoa, Alex Escobar, Ambiorix Concepcion, Butch Huskey, Keith Miller, Ryan Thompson, Brook Fordyce, Damon Buford, Billy Beane, Terry Blocker, Chris Donnels, DJ Dozier, Bill Latham, Wally Whitehurst, Floyd Youmans, and Herm Winningham — for example. Not to mention Mike Vail, Gregg Jefferies, Jason Phillips, Calvin Schiraldi, and others who may have had brief stints of success but never quite lived up to the hype.

Yes, every once in a while the Mets give away a gem like Scott Kazmir, Jason Bay, or Nolan Ryan, but those were deals for nobodies. Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball, bar none. He’s not Victor Zambrano, Jason Middlebrook, or Jim Fregosi.

There is the argument that the Mets’ system is already void of prospects, and can’t bare to lose any more. But where was that whine the past four winters, when the Mets were gobbling up Type A free agents and in turn losing #1 draft picks? And do you really believe that Martinez, Parnell, Niese, and Tejada are going to make a significant impact on the team in 2010 and 2011 — the type of impact that will put them in the Fall Classic?

Further, if the Mets did about five minutes of negotiating, they’d likely also net Alex Rios or Vernon Wells — two outfielders with enormous contracts that a New York team like the Mets should be able to handle (Rios, with the cheaper contract, is the obvious preference). Again, start crying that the Mets can’t afford to take on any more big contracts, or that Rios and Wells stink. Now tell me who is playing left field next season? Nick Evans? Who’s playing center in 2012, when Carlos Beltran will have jettisoned for a warmer, calmer climate? Not Fernando Martinez, nor anyone else in the Mets’ farm system. The Mets have nothing in the way of outfield prospects coming up between now and 2014, so guess how the holes will be filled? Free agency. Possibly Type A — i.e., Matt Holliday, Carl Crawford, Jason Bay, Magglio Ordonez, Vladimir Guerrero, Rick Ankiel, Jermaine Dye, Manny Ramirez. Heck, Xavier Nady may qualify as Type A. And there goes another draft pick. And most likely, an expensive, too-long-term contract. So either way the farm system gets kicked in the groin, and the budget gets expanded. Further, I don’t know that any of those free agents are guaranteed to significantly outperform Rios or Wells over the next five years.

If we knew for sure that the Mets were going to throw in the towel on 2009 and 2010, and focus on building from within, then maybe you refrain from trading those four suspects. But Omar Minaya has three more years beyond this one, and his modus operandi is to pay exhorbitantly for upper tier, well-known players, for the purpose of “putting a winning product on the field” in the short-term. A Halladay trade like the one proposed is as much a no-brainer as the Santana deal was (I’m sorry, do you wish you had Phil Humber, Kevin Mulvey, Carlos Gomez, and Deolis Guerra right now, instead?).

Of course, the rumor has already been shot down by a number of sources, so we may never find out who was smoking crack yesterday. Maybe all three were passing the pipe around together.

Conspiracy Theory: the Mets “leaked” this “trade offer” — even if it never occurred — as a means of making those four prospects appear more valuable than they really are. Think about it — it makes the Mets look good, in that a) their farm system has plenty of worthwhile trading chips, and b) it tells their fans that they’re committed to the future, and won’t give away their top prospects — not even for Roy Halladay.

***Conspiracy Update! ****
Per Heyman’s updated column from this afternoon (thanks to Walnutz for the link!):

In any case, it appears that the Mets’ prospect list isn’t as thin as some suggest, as even in that proposal they’d be keeping top young pitchers Jenrry Mejia and Brad Holt and shortstop prodigy Wilmer Flores.

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That’s Some Cramp

sheff-crampIt looked bad when Gary Sheffield came out of last Friday’s game against the Braves. Sheff had been running down a rocket off the bat of Yunel Escobar, then pulled up lame. Everyone assumed it was a hamstring pull. But alas, it was merely “a cramp”.

Our collective sigh over that “close one” has now lasted four days, as Sheffield remains out of the lineup with “cramps”. Is this a menstrual thing? Because that I can understand. Maybe Sheff is having a post-steroid-use issue like Jose Canseco, or maybe he’s on the same stuff Manny Ramirez was caught using, and it’s causing him to have “female issues”. Who knows? But it sure seems strange to have a leg cramp that lasts four days.

Or maybe it’s not a “cramp” but actually a hamstring “pull” or “strain”. There are at least two reasons for the Mets to mis-report the injury. First, the potential loss in ticket sales and other stadium revenues (i.e., tacos, Czechvars, spicy tuna rolls, etc.), because people don’t like paying Yankee Stadium prices for a Tidewater Tides show. Second, there is the outside chance (not likely) that another club is looking for a RH bat — and if Sheffield is placed on the DL, he can’t be traded. Or maybe there’s another conspiracy theory I’m missing.

In other injury news, Fernando Nieve will be out for six weeks. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for ticket sales, since most fans are more interested in seeing Jonathan Niese anyway.

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Mets Game 92: Win Over Nationals

Mets 6 Nationals 2

The Comeback has begun.

On the shoulders of Livan Hernandez and behind the bat of Jeff Francoeur, the new new new Mets started their second-half assault on the rest of the NL East by beating the cellar-dwelling Nationals.

Hernandez threw seven stellar innings, allowing only two runs on five hits and two walks against the mighty Nats. Hernandez kept the DC sluggers guessing by mixing a variety of pitches, speeds, and angles in a performance that guaranteed his spot in the rotation for at least another five days.

Meantime, Jeff Francoeur showed the world why Omar Minaya was right and the rest of MLB wrong, blasting an RBI double in the second and a solo homer in the ninth, powering a Mets offense that pummeled Washington pitching for nine hits. Similarly, Dan Murphy rewarded the patience of Jerry Manuel and solidified his spot as the #3 hitter with a two-hit, two-RBI evening. Shame on all of you who wondered why the .238-hitting Murphy was penciled into the three-hole … he’s Daniel Murphy, and He Hits Third!

In addition to Livan’s high-quality start, the bullpen was stupendous, capped by Frankie Rodriguez’s 12-pitch, perfect ninth in a non-save situation.

Notes

Francoeur was 3-for-4 on the day and saw 18 pitches — more than any other Met. Now that he’s gotten over the emotional hump of returning to his hometown, there’s no stopping “Jeff the Juggernaut”.

Francoeur became the third Met to hit a homerun this month! The last time the Mets had three different players hit a four-bagger in a single month was May of 1906, when Roland Agni, Luke Gofannon, and John Baal each pulled the trick. Of course, back then the Mets played in parks three times the size of Citi Field and the ball was “dead”, so I imagine all three of those “quadruples” were inside-the-park jobs, the result of line drives sneaking between the outfielders and rolling a quarter-mile to the fence.

Angel Pagan continues to blister the ball, burn up the basepaths, and sweep up centerfield — he went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI from the leadoff spot. I can’t decide whether he’s making me forget Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, or both.

Jeremy Reed went 0-for-4, sinking his average to a season-low .250, and I imagine the newly promoted Cory Sullivan will be given a shot to take away his half of the LF platoon. After all, Reed is no Danny Murphy.

Since the Phillies routed the Cubs 10-1, the Mets didn’t gain any ground in the standings. But that’s neither here nor there — the turning point we’ve been waiting for all season has finally occurred. I can taste it! (Or is that whiskey on my lips?)

Next Mets Game

The Mets demolish the Nationals on Tuesday night at 7:05 PM. Oliver Perez hurls for the Metropolitans while John Lannan plays the role of sacrificial lamb for the Nationals. Be sure to tune in early or you may miss the game-winning hit.

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