Browsing Archive July, 2009

Mets Game 98: Win Over Rockies

Mets 7 Rockies 3

And for a followup routine, the Mets played a baseball game …

The excitement in Flushing began with the firing of Tony Bernazard, an event that closed with a squabble between Omar Minaya and Adam Rubin. For an encore, the Mets held another press conference to speak about the first (but unfortunately, did not announce a steel cage match between Minaya and Rubin). But the crowd at Citi Field clamored for more, so nine men were dressed up and sent out on the field to engage the Colorado Rockies in a battle royale.

The encore for the evening began as a much more benign affair compared to the day’s earlier activities, but finished with a bang. With the score tied 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Rockies reliever Juan Rincon couldn’t find the plate and walked the first two batters he faced, and after a Dan Murphy sac bunt, Jeff Francoeur was intentionally walked to load the bases. With LH hitter Cory Sullivan coming to the plate, Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy called for LOOGY Franklin Morales, and Jerry Manuel countered with Fernando Tatis. Tatis fell behind 0-2, then laced a low changeup into the seats to give the Mets their first lead of the ballgame.

Pedro Feliciano was credited with the victory and K-Rod pitched a perfect ninth in a non-save situation.

Notes

Oliver Perez allowed three runs on four walks and five hits in five innings of work. Remarkably, most people associated with the Mets will look at it as a “positive step”. The rest of us will refer to it for what it is: garbage.

Not to be lost in the excitement was Brian Stokes’ two perfect innings in relief of Ollie to keep the Mets in the ballgame.

Nice to see Tatis tie into one and deliver such a dramatic victory. We know he’s not the guy who hit like Roy Hobbs last July, and his DPs have been maddening, but his approach to the game makes him someone who is easy to root for. After making contact on the grand slam swing, Tatis was sprinting out of the box, taking nothing for granted. Nice to see.

Dan Murphy hit fourth again and went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a sacrifice bunt. How many MLB cleanup hitters are called on to bunt?

Luis Castillo and David Wright combined to go 4-for-4 with 2 walks and 4 runs scored. The red-hot Castillo is now hitting .305.

Jeff Francoeur blasted his third homerun as a Met, a solo shot in the fourth. In seven games, Francoeur has three homeruns; the rest of the Mets combined have seven taters in the entire month (three of them by Tatis).

This win marks the Mets’ third in a row — their longest winning streak since 1986.

Next Mets Game

The rising Mets take on the Rockies again at 7:10 PM on Tuesday night. Mike Pelfrey goes to the mound against Tottenville HS graduate Jason Marquis.

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Bernazard Firing Part Deux

In case you missed it, the Mets held a press conference moments before game time tonight to address Omar Minaya’s attack on Adam Rubin.

I’m not 100% sure, but I believe the Mets are the first franchise in sports history to call a press conference to explain a press conference. Someone check with the Elias Sports Bureau to confirm, please.

During the second press conference, Minaya apologized for isolating and attacking Rubin in the first press conference. He did not, however, apologize for what he said; rather, he apologized for saying what he did, WHEN he did and WHERE he did. He stands by the inane accusation that Rubin sought a job in the Mets’ front office. As if it matters. And as if anyone would want to work in that Chinese fire drill of an organization (no offense to my friends of Chinese descent).

Furthermore, Jeff Wilpon made it clear that Tony Bernazard was a good friend, and that Omar “fostered” that friendship. Again, it matters why?

After listening to Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum in this absurd press conference, Jerry Manuel’s postgame interview will resemble a symposium conducted by Albert Einstein.

One can only wonder what this Mickey Mouse operation will do next.

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Mets Fire Tony Bernazard

In a stunning development, the Mets have fired VP of Player Development Tony Bernazard — at least, according to Joel Sherman of the NY Post.

It is assumed that this announcement will be made official later in the afternoon at a scheduled press conference.

The question now is, how will Jeff Wilpon make a decision without his trusted guru at his side? Furthermore, how will the Binghamton Mets motivate themselves without Zard-Dog’s inspirational clubhouse speeches?
dumb-donald
*** UPDATE ***

If you didn’t see the press conference, you need to watch it. I can’t even begin to explain it, other than describing it as perhaps the most bizarre I’ve ever seen — it dwarfs all of the Mets’ conferences of the past few months that we might have labeled as “strange”.

mushmouthHands-down, a new low for the organization — and after sounding like a cross between Stuttering John and Dumb Donald (or is it Mushmouth?) from Fat Albert, I’m not sure how much longer Omar Minaya can continue in his position.

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Quick Preview: Mets vs. Rockies

rockies-logoThe Rockies head into Flushing for a four-game series beginning today at 7:10 PM.

After a rough start, the Rockies rebounded with a rollicking 21-7 run in June, and is 13-8 so far in July, though heating up again — they’ve won 8 of their last 11 ballgames.

Though they’re unlikely to catch up to the Dodgers in the NL West, they are ten games over .500 and two games ahead of the Giants at the top of the Wild Card standings. Their biggest bugaboo has been

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The More Things Change

… the more they stay the same. That’s the saying, right?

If you saw this printed somewhere today, I bet following snippet would not be surprising:

This ship has been off course for three seasons, not because of a lack of resources, but because of a lack of judgment. The Mets began the year with a payroll … which is second only to the Yankees’ … They have nothing to show for it but a clubhouse of aging stars with big names, big contracts and big injuries.

(the GM) sold Wilpon on the notion that you had to win with big names in New York, that the fans weren’t patient enough to wait for rebuilding, that you had to do it now. Forget the farm system.

But Wilpon apparently came to the conclusion that the Mets’ salvation was not exclusively found in high-priced stars. Yesterday, he made an intriguing observation. He said he knows now that a hefty payroll does not ensure success. ”We’ve learned that painfully.”

More than once yesterday he said, ”We’re going to get younger and more athletic.”

But you might be mildly surprised to find out that the above was published on June 13, 2003 in The New York Times.

If you don’t remember, these were the words printed when GM Steve Phillips was fired. Jim Duquette replaced him on an interim, and then “permanent” basis, and within a year Scott Kazmir was traded for Victor Zambrano and Ty Wigginton for Kris Benson so that the Mets could “play meaningful games in September”. Not long after that meaningless September, Omar Minaya was hired to right the ship.

Speaking of, does this sound familiar? (from the September 29, 2004 edition of The New York Times):

It is difficult to determine the impact of any Mets general manager because the team’s power structure so often appears split. Although major league executives generally believe the best way to run a team is to let the general manager make the most important decisions and then receive clearance from ownership, the Mets rely on committees to hash out strategy, usually soliciting a wide range of opinions.

Jeff Wilpon directs the day-to-day operation of the club, the superscouts Al Goldis and Bill Livesey have input, and veteran players and coaches sometimes offer opinions, too. Minaya knows from experience what he is getting into. Having emigrated with his family from the Dominican Republic to Queens as a child, he became an assistant general manager for the Mets in 1997 and became a senior assistant general manager one year later.

I.e.: the “collegial organization” that Steve Phillips referred to recently.

Minaya hired manager Willie Randolph in part because of Randolph’s excellent reputation for working with youngsters such as Alfonso Soriano. You see, the Mets were going to build a pennant contender through their farm system and around their youth — David Wright and Jose Reyes. That idea went out the window a year later, when Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran were signed to obnoxious contracts.

Today, Joel Sherman touched on this subject as well — and interestingly, holds “conspiracy theories” similar to the ones we’ve been drumming up here for a while:

In the past week, Minaya proclaimed the Mets “buyers” in the trade market at a moment when they were six games under .500, fourth in the NL East, and tied for eighth in the wild card, 7 ½ back. Good tickets still available at Citi Field in case you are interested.

and …

The Wilpons’ 1-2 strategy was to make sure the criticism was deflected away from them — because ownership can talk accountability, but it really is not great at accepting it — while beginning the process of convincing fans that the following season would be different. Translation: What do we have to do to begin motivating you to start buying tickets again? So Art Howe was fired as manager and Jim Duquette was demoted from general manager to go sit in the corner. A good leaking campaign ensued blaming that duo for everything short of the Hindenburg going down. You were supposed to be distracted from remembering that the Wilpons hired the people who messed up.

Sherman goes on to predict that the Mets will “…try to recruit a big-name general manager with the idea of convincing fans that different leadership would know properly how to surround a talented base of Santana, K-Rod, Beltran, David Wright and Jose Reyes with better supplementary players” and, failing at that, hire Tony LaRussa as manager, who “… would bring along his trusted pitching coach Dave Duncan, with the idea being that they always seem to get the most out of whatever talent is put in front of them”.

It’s not that far-fetched a theory, and it fits the pattern that the Wilpons have been following for over a decade. The names may change, but the story remains the same.

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End of the Month – Where’s Reyes?

reyes-ahhThe calendar says we are heading into the last week of July, which could technically be described as the “end of the month”. To refresh everyone’s memory, it was July 16th when Omar Minaya suggested that Jose Reyes might be back at the end of the month.

In turn, we suggested that Minaya would make such a proclamation for no reason other than to stimulate ticket sales. But in fact, that silly conspiracy theory has been proven wrong, because Reyes IS back — he’s been playing in simulated games in Florida since July 21st!

From Ben Shipgel’s column at The New York Times, July 17th:

“Of the nine Mets on the disabled list, Minaya identified Reyes and starter John Maine as the two most likely to return by the end of July, although that seems unlikely.”

Apparently, we misconstrued the definition of “return”. I, for one, thought it meant a “return to Queens”, as in, a “return to play for the Mets”. But in fact it meant “return to Port St. Lucie” — which is where Reyes enjoyed spring training.

And in John Maine’s case, it meant a “return to the doctor”, because Maine is in fact getting another opinion regarding his injured shoulder.

If you hadn’t heard, Maine has made zero progress with his shoulder since going on the DL back on June 11th. At the time, it was considered a minor setback, as reported by MetsBlog:

Maine told reporters, ‘It’s no big deal,’ noting his shoulder is weak, there is fatigue, and ‘it’s dead.’

Maine said he believes he will only miss one start, maybe two, and he will begin a strengthening program in the next day or so.

Perhaps getting advice from Carlos Beltran, Maine chose to go over the heads of the Mets’ medical staff and front office, and schedule his own appointment with Dr. James Andrews. Usually, pitchers see Dr. Andrews when things are really, really bad. That said, it’s probably safe to write off Maine for the remainder of the season. Thankfully, Oliver Perez is 100%.

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Mets Game 97: Win Over Astros

Mets 8 Astros 3

Who needs Gary Sheffield’s “power bat”, anyway?

For the second time in as many games, the Mets proved that they do indeed have Major League Players on their roster, and enough of them to win Major League Games — handily.

The streaking Mets offense was out of this world against the Astros, pounding Houston pitching for 13 hits, including three triples. Meanwhile, Livan Hernandez shook off a rough first frame and solidified his spot in the rotation with his second consecutive seven-inning start, allowing only three runs on eight hits and striking out a season-high of seven.

Sean Green earned a most unusual save for his 1 1/3 innings of work.

If the Mets can continue to play like this, they’ll be in line for meaningful games in September.

Notes

Why are people so surprised to see Livan pitch well or pitch poorly? There isn’t much mystery involved — basically, Hernandez eats up overly aggressive hitters such as those on the Astros, and generally gets into trouble with more patient teams such as the Yankees. So if Livan has a few bad starts in a row, it’s probably because he’s facing lineups that have what’s called a “team approach”. This isn’t rocket science.

Luis Castillo went 2-for-4 with a triple, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored. He’s now hitting .301, and sporting a .398 OBP.

Jeff Francoeur had only one hit but drove in two. He now has 14 RBI in 12 games as a Met. Say what you want about his over-aggressive approach, but so far he’s producing.

It’s great that the Mets are finally scoring runs and winning ballgames. Unfortunately, they have not gained any ground on the Phillies throughout this two-game winning streak, and remain 11 games behind the leaders (in the loss column). They can keep putting W’s in the left column, but unfortunately they can’t lose less.

Next Mets Game

The Mets return to Flushing to begin a four-game series against the rejuvenated Colorado Rockies. Oliver Perez throws the first pitch at 7:05 PM on Monday night, while Ubaldo Jimenez takes the hill for the Rockies.

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Mets Game 96: Win Over Astros

Mets 10 Astros 3

Who said the Mets couldn’t win MLB games sending out a lineup like that?

For once, everything that could go right, went right. Heck, even David Wright was finally, right — right over the fence, that is.

The Mets offense exploded for 9 runs in the first six innings, and tacked on another one in the final frame to annilihate the Astros in front of a capacity crowd.

In addition to the offensive output, the defense was equally stellar, highlighted by outstanding plays from Angel Pagan and Luis Castillo that kept the Astros grounded.

Also inspiring was the performance of young Jonathan Niese, who allowed one measly run on four hits and two walks over seven solid innings. Other than a shaky first inning — likely due to nerves — Niese was masterful.

Notes

When I said everything went right, I meant everything. By blowing out the Astros with an offensive onslaught, the implausible DL’ing of Gary Sheffield was completely forgotten. Had the Mets lost 1-0, you can bet that move would have been the focus of the postgame interviews.

Dan Murphy hit two doubles and drove in a run out of the cleanup spot. Dan Murphy, in the cleanup spot. Yeah.

No less than five Mets had two hits apiece; they rapped a dozen all told.

Angel Pagan is a man on fire, and seems determined to prove that he belongs in the big leagues as an everyday player. Maybe the Mets should trade him while he’s on this hot streak and his value is higher than it will ever be.

In addition to his sixth homerun, David Wright saw 30 pitches in five plate appearances, walking twice. That was three times as many pitches seen by the usually patient Danny Murphy.

Jeff Francoeur is delivering everything the Mets expected and then some. If only they had his homerun bat from the beginning of the season, they might be ten games back instead of eleven.

Omir Santos and Cory Sullivan did an outstanding job of executing a hit-and-run in the top of the fourth, leading to Sullivan scoring on a DP ball a few moments later. Strangely enough, I’ve seen the about as many hit-and-runs this month from the Mets as I’ve seen homeruns.

Also interesting, Santos is providing both small ball and the long ball lately — he hit his second homerun in as many nights, and is now tied for team lead for homers in July. Dollars to donuts says he sits on Sunday, though, since it’s a day game and Brian Schneider’s getting rusty.

Jon Niese in the postgame interview reminded me of Jamie Don Weeks of Long Gone (which was an AWESOME baseball movie, btw).

Very bizarre to see John Franco relieving Bobby Ojeda in the SNY postgame show; it was kind of like time travel or a Strat-O-Matic game. Note to John: your preparation is appreciated. However, we know that “good pitching, good fielding, and good offense wins games”, and we know that a pitcher needs to throw strikes to keep the defense alert, and we can see how many batters Jon Niese retired in a row, and we know how many games out of the wild card the Mets are, etc. What we want from you is the MLB player’s perspective. For example, what does an MLB pitcher think about with a big lead? How does he keep from getting too complacent? What is it like for a young kid to have a game like this after coming back from the minors? How might a young pitcher attack a lineup like the Astros’, which has a number of aggressive hitters? That kind of thing. Leave the details and numbers to Gary Apple.

Next Mets Game

The series finale occurs at 2:05 PM EST on Sunday afternoon. Livan Hernandez faces Brian Moehler. Wow … Hampton, Ortiz, and Moehler in the rotation, and the ‘stros are in third place, four games over .500, and one game out of first.

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