Browsing Archive September, 2009

Octavio Dotel Would Like to Pitch for the Mets

dotel-metsMLBTradeRumors picked up this tidbit from the Chicago Sun-Times:

Octavio Dotel said he approached the club about his immediate future and a contract extension last month and was told he wasn’t in the plans. The reliever at least appreciated the Sox being upfront with him. As he turns his attention to free agency, New York is atop his wish list. The Mets are his first choice and the Yankees second.

Well, it would be a few years too late, but, heck, he’d slot right in as the top middle reliever on the Mets right now.

Though Dotel projects as a Type A free agent, that’s not a huge issue for the Mets. Since the team will finish as one of the worst 15 teams in MLB, they won’t surrender a #1 draft pick if they sign a Type A — though they will lose their #2 pick.

In 61 games this year, the 35-year-old reliever has a 3.36 ERA and 1.46 WHIP with 74 Ks in 61 IP.

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More Mess News

Oh, did I misspell “Mets” in the headline? Sorry, I get the words confused when discussing the baseball club in Flushing.

As if the last ten games of the season aren’t dragging enough …

According to Mack’s Mets, Tobi Stoner has ticked off his teammates, who are offended by his “cocky attitude” and inability to adhere to unwritten rules that apply to MLB rookies — to the point where Francisco Rodriguez (who is not cocky?) instructed Stoner to perform an impossible act on himself. Hmm … is Stoner really “cocky”, or simply “German“?.

Mack suggests that Stoner’s failure to make nice with his teammates is the reason he hasn’t seen much time on the mound lately. Maybe, though his mediocre stuff and two homers allowed in nine innings aren’t helping, either.

In other news involving Mets rookies, Fernando Martinez was mugged in an amusement park in the Dominican Republic. According to the Latino newspaper Diario Libre via Adam Rubin:

His wallet reportedly was stolen “with US$2,000, four credit cards from American banks and some important documents like his Dominican ID. It was stolen while he was in a party with some relatives in an amusement center near his native town, Rio San Juan, in the north of the Dominican Republic. The name of the place where the incident took place is Drink Together, on the road Rio San Juan-Cabrera. He called to the program La Opcion de la Manana 93.3 FM (The Option of the Morning) to confirm the fact and he promised a reward to whomever gets him the documents.”

The credit cards can be canceled, and the Dominican ID shouldn’t be too difficult to replace (and he can probably get one that makes him 16 again), but let’s hope he didn’t lose his passport or work visa — otherwise he may not get them back in time for spring training.

(Hat tip to loyal MetsToday reader “Walnutz” for these links)

How low have the Mets sunk? Someone is trying to make his feet more popular than the Mets. He may be succeeding.

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Mets Game 153: Loss to Braves

Braves 5 Mets 2

Hope springs eternal. Except in Flushing, in September, 2009. Unless you’re a Braves fan.

The Mets helped keep the Braves impossible Wild Card hopes alive by rolling over early.

I have to admit hope drained from my spirit immediately after Atlanta scored their fourth run, in the third frame. Yet I continued to stare at the TV screen, for the same reasons I’ve watched bad movies in the wee hours, despite knowing full well how it would end and that the story wasn’t going to get better.

Technically, Mike Pelfrey threw a “quality start” — allowing 3 earned runs in 6 innings pitched. In reality, he was ordinary.

Tim Hudson also threw a quality start, expending 18 less pitches in the same number of innings. However, Hudson’s was of slightly higher quality, and in the end he earned his second win of the year.

More happened, but, eh … the notes are more interesting.

Notes

The Mets put their leadoff hitter on base in six consecutive innings, but only scored two runs in that span. They were 2-for-17 with RISP, and left 10 on base.

Nice to see Mike Pelfrey using his curveball a little more than usual in this outing. I would have also liked to have seen more (any?) changeups, but hey, you can’t have it all.

Pelf’s sinker wasn’t sinking consistently — it was often just “running”, meaning, it was moving horizontally and not vertically. Ron Darling noted this often occurred with runners on base and suggested that it could be due to Mike holding the ball a little tighter — a function of stress. That’s plausible. Also possible is a different grip on the ball. I would check the location of his thumb, as it could be a little too far “up” or on the side of the ball, rather than more underneath it. The higher the thumb is on the side, the more it will run and the less it will sink. Also, there could be an issue with the way he’s finishing the pitch (which could be related to the grip). If he is holding the ball more tightly, he may not be allowing his fingers and wrist to pronate through the release. Full pronation with the fingers on top of the ball and the thumb finishing pointed toward 5 o’clock is ideal for good sink.

Strange to see Tim Hudson unsharp — which is expected considering this was only his fifth start of the year. Even without his legendary command, he was able to get out of a number of tough situations thanks to double plays.

That was the key difference between Pelfrey and Hudson in this game. Both pitchers struggled at times, and both had their defense fail behind them to put runners on base and/or extend rallies. But Hudson stayed cool, got tough, and wiggled out of those spots, while Big Pelf tightened up, talked to himself, and let runners cross the plate.

If you didn’t have a scorecard and relied on Keith Hernandez, you might have thought Matt Diaz was playing both right and left field for the Braves. Yeah, I’m nitpicking, but c’mon, Keith.

The trivia answer was Bert Blyleven (the only HOF-eligible pitcher with 3000 Ks not in the HOF), and Gary Cohen noted that Blyleven completed 242 games in his 22-year career. How incredible is that? Consider that the Mets AS A TEAM have amassed only 214 complete games over the last 22 years. Yowza, things have changed. But hey, let’s keep going with those inane pitch counts, OK?

Once again we were treated to the one-two combo of Ken Takahashi and Elmer Dessens out of the ‘pen. We’re really get a good long look at both pitchers this September. Why?

Perpetual Pedro Feliciano also made an appearance — his 83rd of the season — with the Mets down by three in the eighth. Again, why? Is Jerry Manuel trying to rip Pedro’s elbow to pieces?

Mike Gonzalez kind of reminds me of Oliver Perez, the way he’s all off balance, can’t repeat his mechanics, can miss his target by several feet, but throws 93+ MPH with a nasty slider that is unhittable for LH batters.

I noticed that David Wright was keeping his bat on his back shoulder until the pitcher started his motion. This is new, right? It’s a technique that Don Mattingly advocates, to put your hands and the bat into the ideal launching position. I guess he’s using it partly for timing and partly to, um, get his hands in a good position. Perhaps HoJo believes Wright’s hands were a bit too high, creating a long, loopy swing.

Bobby Cox announced that 2010 would be his final season as a manager. He’ll stay on with the Braves in a consulting role after that.

Next Mets Game

The Mets get a day off (funny, seemed like they took the last three days off) on Thursday, and will travel to Miami to face the Marlins for a three-game weekend series. Game one begins at 7:10 PM on Friday night and pits Tim Redding against Ricky Nolasco.

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Where Is Adam Bostick?

adam-bostickBack in August — long after the Mets exited the Wild Card race — the one thing we had to look forward to were the September call-ups. Sure, the games played would be meaningless, but we’d get a chance to see the best the Mets’ minors had to offer, a month-long audition. It would be kind of like spring training, only colder, and the games would count.

One of the pitchers we were eager to see in September was Adam Bostick.

Bostick, after all, was the last shred of evidence that the Mets once owned minor league pitchers who touched triple digits. To refresh your memory, Bostick came to the organization along with lefty starter Jason Vargas in a trade that sent Matt Lindstrom and Henry Owens to the Florida Marlins. At the time, it was a move to give the Mets roster flexibility and more youth, since Lindstrom and Owens were ready to be on an MLB roster but the Mets didn’t believe they were ready to contribute at a championship level. Also at the time, the Mets had several hard-throwing righties over the age of 25 in their organization, and felt it would be a good idea to deal from strength to get two young lefthanders — in essence, it bought the team some time.

That time has since come and gone, and Bostick remains a minor leaguer. Once a starter, he’s been converted to the bullpen, and put up fairly decent numbers. Splitting the season between AA Binghamton and AAA Buffalo, Bostick struck out 63 in 56 innings and posted a 3.05 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. Not eye-popping numbers, but interesting enough for a team that could use another LOOGY in the ‘pen and has no other pitching prospects close to big league-ready. Really now, would you rather see what Bostick can do, or would you prefer to continue seeing the aging Elmer Dessens and Ken Takahashi take the hill?

Why wasn’t Bostick promoted? Many conspiracy theories abound. As far as we know, he’s not injured. He’s not on the 40-man roster so there is speculation that the Mets didn’t want to add him to it — because then they’d have to keep him there or possibly lose him. But that doesn’t hold water, because as an 8-year veteran of the minors, he’s a free agent after this season no matter what. Though the 40-man is currently full, room could have been made — in addition to the two old men mentioned previously, the Mets are also carrying Robinson Cancel, Arturo Lopez, and Andy Green on the roster for reasons unknown to mere mortals (not to mention the fact that Johan Santana and Oliver Perez are on the 15-day DL, rather than the 60-day). We can only guess that Bostick ticked someone off — perhaps this is a situation similar to Wily Mo Pena’s earlier in the year.

We do know he’ll be playing winter ball in Venezuela, but don’t know much else.

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Next Year’s Left Fielder

jermaine-dyeAccording to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times (thanks to a link via MLBTradeRumors), Jermaine Dye does not have a future with the White Sox.

Dye and the ChiSox have a mutual $12M option for 2010, and there is no way the Sox pick that up — not with the 35-year-old having the worst half-season of his career — he’s hitting .168 since the All-Star Break.

There were rumors of a White Sox – Mets trade last winter, with Dye the coveted piece from Omar Minaya’s perspective. Even with his bad second half, this smells a lot like a typical Minaya roll of the band-aid dice. Can you say “Moises Alou” ?

Before you go complaining that “the Mets need to get younger and more athletic”, remember that they have absolutely NO outfielders in their minor league system who are ready to step in and play left field on an everyday basis for a championship team. We saw that Fernando Martinez is at least two years away from being a contributor, much less a star. We’ve seen that Dan Murphy can’t play the position well enough as an everyday player. We are seeing that Angel Pagan has a tremendous physical package but a disconnect between his body and his head. We have been told that Chris Carter is just as bad as Murphy in the outfield. We are not seeing Nick Evans for reasons unknown — but if he’s not playing now, he certainly isn’t being seriously considered as an everyday player in 2010.

So left field will most likely be filled by someone currently outside the organization. It will have to be someone who can be signed cheaply and on a short-term contract, as the Mets will want to keep the position available for when F-Mart is ready. Forget about Matt Holliday / Jason Bay — it ain’t happening. Enter Jermaine Dye, whose stock has fallen drastically in the last two months and therefore could be signed to a favorable, one-year, incentive-laden deal.

“I’ve never struggled like this before, never had a whole half that has been nothing. Over the course of a career, I think that’s pretty good. The five years I’ve been here I’ve had five pretty good years, and it just so happened that I struggled here at the end, we were fighting to get into the playoffs, and it’s just the way it is.”

The struggling Dye was out of the starting lineup on Tuesday, unable to change the .168 second half he’s had with just five homers and 19 RBI. A second half he has no explanation for.

“I have no clue,” Dye said. “I put in the work and sometimes it doesn’t work out. There’s nothing wrong with the mechanics. When you struggle, the pitches you should hit you foul off. The pitches you take normally when you feel good they’re balls, they’re strikes now. When you struggle everything goes wrong. This second half it just didn’t happen.”

Signing Dye goes against the plan of rebuilding the club with youth. But the truth is, the Mets don’t have a plan. They like to talk about plans and then change them on the fly as the circumstances around them change. Omar Minaya and the Wilpons will likely spout about youth, athleticism, etc., but we’ve heard it all before, on several occasions, for the past 15 years. In the end it’s about “the brand”, and signing Dye gives the Mets a known entity who can step right in to the season-ticket sales campaign lineup and provide hope. Another patch to keep the dream alive.

We have plenty of time to discuss whether or not signing Dye would be a good move for the Mets. But you know Minaya is already thinking about it.

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Mets Game 152: Loss to Braves

Braves 3 Mets 1

The Mets were down by only a run for most of this game — in fact they were winning for a few minutes — but there was never a point where I felt, “hey, they have a chance to win”. I simply sat in front of the TV and waited for them to lose. Sad.

Nelson Figueroa was very good, but not good enough to earn a win. He allowed two runs on two hits and three walks in a seven-inning, 126-pitch effort.

Unfortunately for Figgy, Atlanta’s Jair Jurrjens was just a little bit better, allowing only one run on five hits and three walks through seven-innings and 94 pitches.

The Braves added an insurance run against Frankie Fantastik, who may have thrown a scoreless inning if Carlos Beltran had been playing a deeper centerfield on Yunel Escobar’s double — or if Angel Pagan had been playing more shallow in left on Adam LaRoche’s single that scored Escobar. Or maybe if Omir Santos could have caught the ball before it was hit. Certainly, it wasn’t Frankie’s fault.

Notes

Figgy has had his rough outings, but he’s also proven he can hold his own as a starting pitcher at the MLB level. I would like to see him return in 2010 as a swing man / spot starter. He may not wow the sabermetricians with his stats but he gets the most out of ability and finds a way to compete. That is inspiring, can rub off on teammates, and is a value that can’t be measured with a calculator.

Last night I noticed Brian Stokes with a little extra rotation. Tonight my eyes saw Sean Green going just a little more underhand. To me it seemed Green was closer to 6 o’clock / 5:30 as opposed to his more 3:30 / 4 o’clock angle. Are my eyes deceiving me lately, or am I seeing actual mechanical changes?

If Green IS in fact going more “down under”, I would think that’s a good thing. The closer he gets to Chad Bradford-like underhand, the less stress there is on the arm — which in turn would allow him to pitch more frequently without a loss in effectiveness. Assuming, of course, that he can pitch as effectively at such an angle.

Brooks Conrad made a pinch-hitting appearance for the Braves. His name makes me think of a 1950s character actor.

Gary Cohen reported that Alex Cora had successful surgery on his other thumb, then further suggested that the Mets “need to see more of him next year”. Huh? Even if he returns — which in itself is a longshot — I don’t believe we want to see any MORE of Alex Cora in 2010. He’s a bench player, which means if we see more of him, it also means one (or more than one) of the starters is on the DL for a significant period of time. I get Cohen’s point — that Cora is supposedly a great clubhouse guy and a veteran leader — but we don’t want to see any more of him than we saw in 2009. Less, preferably.

Next Mets Game

The final game of the series occurs at 7:10 PM on Wednesday night. Mike Pelfrey faces Tim Hudson, who will be making his fifth MLB start since returning from Tommy John surgery.

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Francoeur Confused About Marquis?

According to Jeff Francoeur, Colorado pitcher Jason Marquis would “love to” play for the Mets.

Per Frenchy, in the New York Post:

“He’d be a great fit. He’s from Staten Island. He’s a New York type of guy. He’ll probably be coming off the best season he’s ever had.”

Jeff is only half-right. Yes, Jason Marquis would “love” to play in New York — for the Yankees, the team that he grew up rooting for as a Staten Island youngster. But not only because he was a big fan of the Bronx Bombers — but also because the Yankees will PAY.

I strained my oblique muscle from laughter when I read this later sentence typed by Mike Puma in the same article:

Marquis’ easiest path to the Mets would be to accept a hometown discount.

Not likely.

When Jason Marquis was coming off his WORST season as a big leaguer — one in which he lost 16 games, had an ERA over 6, and was left off the Cardinals’ postseason roster as they marched to their improbable championship — he hit the jackpot with a 3-year, $21M deal.

Now, it’s understood that the financial climate in the winter of 2006 was much different than it is now. But considering that Marquis is finishing up the BEST season of his career, I doubt very highly he’s interested in a pay cut.

There aren’t many starting pitchers out there who are a virtual lock to give a team 190+ innings — which Marquis has done five out of the last six years. That on its own, even in a tough market, is worth at least $7-8M per annum (see: Jon Garland). Garland’s price was that low because his ERA was near five and teams felt he was helped by a superior supporting cast. I’d guess that Marquis is looking at a deal in the neighborhood of 3 years / $36M — or what Oliver Perez received last winter. He might get even more, particularly if a New York team enters the bidding. Most likely, the Mets won’t be that New York team — not when they’re looking to cut payroll, rather than add to it.

One more little issue with Jeff Francoeur’s campaign for Marquis — Francoeur himself is not guaranteed to be in New York next year. Personally, I’d be happy to see both Francoeur and Marquis in Mets uniforms next season, but there’s still the matter of arbitration for Frenchy. Rumors abound that the Mets are considering a 3-year extension — in essence to buy out his arbitration years — but as of this moment Francoeur does not have a contract for 2010.

Time will tell. If anything, it shold be an interesting offseason.

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Mets Game 151: Loss to Braves

Braves 11 Mets 3

Thank goodness this game was played on the same night as the premiere of House MD. And thanks to Patrick Misch for allowing the score to get out of hand with minutes to spare before the 8 PM start time for House.

Unfortunately, the first episode of House MD was nearly as bad as the game. So it was a tough night all around. The good news for Dr. Gregory House is, he’s out of the mental hospital. The bad news for the Mets is, there are still 11 games to play in 2009.

Misch was blasted in his 1 1/3 innings. Three of the first dozen batters he faced hit homeruns. I won’t get into the gory details.

Meanwhile Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami combined to allow three runs on seven hits in nine innings, walking none and striking out eight. It took the Mets six pitchers to give the Braves eleven runs.

Notes

Even my wife wanted to know why it took so many Mets pitchers to finish this laugher. No one could play the role of sacrificial lamb? The only surprise was that we saw neither Sean Green nor Pedro Feliciano.

It’s games like this when I wonder, “where the heck is Adam Bostick, and if he’s not here now, why is he taking up a spot on the 40-man roster?”

The one bright spot of the ballgame was Daniel Murphy, who is on fire. He hit another double — his 36th — and another homer (11th). He is now the Mets’ most ferocious slugger and maybe all those nasty bloggers need to pipe down about his perceived lack of power. Oh wait, that includes me, doesn’t it?

Though Murphy jacked one, no other Mets did. Hmm … every other team can hit balls over the fence at Citi Field …

I feel like every time Bobby Parnell takes the mound, Ron Darling can’t prevent himself from saying “the kid’s got GREAT stuff”. Ron, please elaborate. I see a “live arm”, meaning, he can throw the ball in excess of 95 MPH. Otherwise, I’m not seeing much at all in the way of “stuff”. No sharp breaking ball, no hellacious change-up, no outstanding movement (nor command) on the fastball — nothing that I would define as “great stuff”. Great arm, yes. Great stuff, no.

Brian Stokes is doing this strange extra-rotation thing when he lifts his leg, which I’ve never noticed before. I guess he’s trying to get a little extra on the ball, since he’s no longer hitting 97-98. Or maybe it’s been a while since I’ve seen him on the mound. He’s thrown 62 pitches in the last two days — which is like a K-Rod four-out save attempt.

The Mets have now lost 14 of their 20 games in September. That’s exactly 70% of their ballgames. But here’s one way to look at it: they’re failing as often as the best hitters in the game.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Braves do it again at 7:10 PM on Tuesday night. Nelson Figueroa faces Jair Jurrjens.

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