Archive: May 10th, 2010

Animal in the House

Chris “The Animal” Carter is finally a Met.

Carter — who had been acquired for Billy Wagner in a late-season 2009 deal with the Red Sox — has been promoted to the big club. Veteran pinch-hitter Frank Catalanotto was DFA’d to make room for Carter on the roster.

I’m very pleased to see Carter get his just due, after doing everything he could to earn a job and more. At the same time, I’m a little sad to say goodbye to Catalanotto, even if he was hitting only .160 and even if 99% of the fan base wanted him gone. Why? Because Gary Matthews Jr. remains on the roster, complete with his .136 batting average and 18 strikeouts in 44 at-bats. I realize it’s helpful to have a defensive-minded outfielder backing up the starters, but jeez louise — will his glove really make up for striking out nearly fifty percent of the time? I’m still trying to figure out why the Mets sent both Jeremy Reed and Cory Sullivan packing, in return for the right to trade Brian Stokes for GMJ.

But this is about the Animal, who suits up on Tuesday in Flushing. With Scott Olsen starting for the Nats, it’s unlikely we’ll see Carter in the starting lineup, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a start on Tuesday against righthander Craig Stammen — particularly if Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur continue to slump. The outfielder corners would appear to be the only opportunity for Carter to get semi-regular playing time, considering how well Ike Davis is doing at 1B. Let’s hope he isn’t used the way Catalanotto was — strictly as a pinch-hitter. It would be a waste to give him only three swings a night. If given a chance, Carter might prove to be one of those late bloomers, in the same mold as Travis Hafner, Carlos Pena, and Nelson Cruz. We’ll never know until he gets a fair shot.


Mets Game 32: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 3 Mets 2

Another close game, but the Mets fall short.

Game Notes

John Maine pitched fairly well, tossing 6 innings and allowing 2 runs on 7 hits and 4 walks. I couldn’t tell by the off-kilter angle of the outfield camera, but it looked like Maine might’ve been rotating his upper body a little less than normal — it’s so hard to see what’s going on from the view of my living room couch. He threw about 95% fastballs, mixing in a handful of changeups. Velocity was around 86-88 MPH, occasionally hitting 90 MPH. All in all, encouraging. There looks to be the possibility that Maine can be a legitimate #5 or possibly #4 MLB starter, if he can keep opposing teams from sitting dead-red on the fastball.

Jose Reyes was thrown out of the game for arguing a called strike three to end the inning with Angel Pagan on 2B in the bottom of the 7th. Can we please end this ridiculous experiment of Reyes batting third? It’s clearly messing with his head.

Jerry Manuel was also thrown out after supporting Reyes after the fact, leaving Dave Jauss in charge of the club.

Alex Cora replaced Reyes and made a spectacular play in the 9th to save a run, then drove a base hit to set up a heroic opportunity for Jason Bay in the bottom of the frame. However, Bay struck out to end the game.

Ike Davis hit a single off LOOGY Sean Burnett in the 8th. He’s now 8-for-14 vs. LHPs, and has an OPS of over 1.800 against them.

Pedro Feliciano had another disappointing outing, allowing three hits and a run in 1/3 of an inning. His 1.88 ERA is deceiving, because he’s allowed 12 hits and 10 walks in 14 IP, and allowed 10 baserunners in his last 7 outings, spanning 3 1/3 innings. One must wonder if he’s getting worn out from overuse.

Pudge Rodriguez went 4-for-4 with a double and an RBI. He’s hitting .393 on the season with a .417 OBP.

Miguel Batista earned his first save of the year, and only his third since 2005. Matt Capps was given the day off after saving both games over the weekend. Imagine Jerry Manuel resting K-Rod after pitching in back-to-back games?

Six out of the Mets’ last seven games were decided by one run. The seventh game was decided by two runs. Talk about keeping things tight.

The Mets had 12 hits but struck out 11 times, and were 1-for-12 with RISP. They left 11 runners on base.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Nationals do it again on Tuesday night at 7:10 PM. Jon Niese faces Scott Olsen, who has been lights out in his last four starts.


Offseason Strategy Working So Far

Based on the knee-jerk reactions displayed by the Mets front office the past few years, one might compare their offseason strategy to that old saying, “close the barn door after the horse has bolted”. In other words, the Mets are continually playing catch-up, patching the most obvious issue that went wrong the season before (and hoping everything else falls into place).

Last year, of course, the Mets did not make the postseason due to two reasons: injuries and lack of home runs.

At least, that was the general consensus.

So, the Mets went out full-force in the offseason and addressed those two issues. For example, they evaluated and overhauled their


What To Do With Oliver Perez

After yet another painful showing, it’s time to wonder what in the world the Mets should do with Oliver Perez.

Perez pitched into the fourth inning only because of a combination of great defense, sheer luck, and illogical managing by Bruce Bochy. In truth, Perez never should have made it out of the second frame.

Ollie has now walked 25 batters in 30 innings, and looks completely lost on the mound. His presence on the mound has reached comical heights, marked by Gary Cohen’s reference to Nuke LaLoosh after one of his pitches sailed a good 15 feet wide of home plate.

Perez’s mechanics are inconsistent, and never optimal. As a result, his release point is all over the place and his command is nonexistent. His confidence is shot. When he does throw a strike, it is such a surprise that the home plate umpire is baffled into calling it a ball.

To top it all off, his velocity is now hovering barely above 85 MPH — so you can’t even hope that somehow he’ll find the plate, because if he does, the opposing hitters will feast on those BP fastballs and send them long distances.

So what can the Mets do with their Thirty-Six-Million-Dollar Man?

The obvious step is to send him down to the minors so he can “figure it out”. But what exactly is it that he will be able to “figure out”? Will a mechanics makeover bring his velocity back into the low- to mid-90s? Will it give him pinpoint command — something he never had even when successful? If such a thing is possible, do the Mets have a guru who can make it happen? Can Ricky Bones, Rick Waits, or Al Jackson fix Oliver Perez, or would the Mets have to find someone outside the organization?

Worse … what if he CAN’T be fixed?

That might be the reason the Mets don’t send him down to the minors — the fear that he’ll never show enough down there to justify returning to the big leagues. Translation: $36M down the drain.

Oliver Perez pitched his best — in a Mets uniform — under the guidance of Rick Peterson. Say what you will about “The Jacket”, but his hands-on approach was the right one for the all-over, undisciplined, unfocused Ollie. Peterson is now in Milwaukee, but clearly, Perez needs someone to tell him exactly what to do, and exactly how to do it. And Perez needs to buy into that person’s shpiel 100%. A guru needs to come in and be Oliver Perez’s personal pitching coach, to remake his mechanics, change his mindset, and force him into a disciplined routine. It may sound ridiculous that the Mets should install anyone as a “personal coach”, but the expense will be negligible compared to the $24M left on Perez’s contract.

Or, the Mets could keep sending Perez out to the mound every five days, cross their fingers, and hope for the best. So far, though, that strategy is not working.


Jeff Pearlman on Wally Backman and the ’86 Mets

It’s time for another installment of “Playing for Peanuts,” starring current Brooklyn Cyclones manager Wally Backman. Of course, “Playing for Peanuts” is a TV show about Wally’s team in 2007 – the South Georgia Peanuts. It’s a quirky, crazy story about Wally’s attempted comeback as a professional manager. In retrospect, it was a pretty good comeback attempt (Cyclones, remember?), but anyone who watched the show on SNY knows it was a very rocky road back for Wally Backman. Which leads us to…

“Peanuts” producer John Fitzgerald is offering Mets bloggers a $5 commission for every 3-DVD set sold on the web. Not a bad deal for us bloggers, but it also gives you the chance to help support some of your favorite Mets blogs, including OntheBlack, BrooklynMetFan and MetsToday.

The DVD set contains all 10 episodes of “Playing for Peanuts” on 3-DVDs. Also included are bonus scenes and interviews with Ron Darling and Conor Jackson. Click here for ordering information.

Since Backman will be back with the Mets organization this summer, John Fitzgerald will be sending me some of the bonus footage that he has released online, along with some commentary. Here’s the latest:

Playing for Peanuts – Jeff Pearlman on Wally Backman and the ’86 Mets
Buy the Playing for Peanuts 3-DVD Set

John Fitzgerald: Jeff Pearlman has a really interesting perspective on Wally Backman and the ’86 Mets – if you haven’t read his book, “The Bad Guys Won,” you should do it. Immediately. It’s one of the best Mets-related books, ever.

When Jeff learned that I was filming a TV series on Wally’s managerial comeback attempt, he was happy to help out by doing an interview. Jeff’s participation set the stage for the first segment of the TV show (Editor’s Note: you can see the first segment here).

In this clip, Jeff explains why Wally Backman was so popular with Mets fans. Jeff compares Backman to former NY Jets wide receiver Wayne Chrebet and he also tells the story of how Backman refused to report to AAA when he was sent back to the minors early in his career.

Buy the 3-DVD Set (10 episodes + Bonus Content)

By the way, you can see all of the Jeff Pearlman interview below. Use the left/right arrows next to the Play button to skip from one clip to the next: