Archive: August 7th, 2010

Mets Game 110: Win Over Phillies

Mets 1 Phillies 0

The Mets played the role of spoiler, beating the Phillies and knocking the reigning NL East champions a game further from the Braves, who also won on Saturday evening.

Game Notes

Johan Santana was brilliant, shutting out the Phillies through 7 1/3 and allowing only 5 hits and 3 walks, striking out 6.

The hero of the game was none other than the oft-maligned Jeff Francoeur, who blasted a solo homerun to create the only score of the ballgame.

Interestingly, a “rocket” was requested of Francoeur when Alex Cora exited the clubhouse and the team. Per the Associated Press:

When popular and well-respected infielder Alex Cora was released by the team on Saturday afternoon he told Francoeur to “hit a rocket” that night against the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I didn’t promise him a home run. I don’t do that,” Francoeur said, with a laugh. “I’m not Babe Ruth, but I promised him I’d try.”

For one swing, Francoeur got his Ruthian result, and it traveled just over the right-field wall. It came on a day when he was told by manager Jerry Manuel that he would platoon with Fernando Martinez, who was called up with second baseman Ruben Tejada. Francoeur also hit a game-winning home run on Aug. 3 off Atlanta’s Billy Wagner.

“If my name is in the lineup, I’ll play,” Francoeur said. “That’s all I can do.”

Cole Hamels was tough on the Mets, allowing only 6 hits, no walks, and striking out 11 in 7 innings. The Francoeur homer was the only blemish of Hamels’ performance.

Francisco Rodriguez miraculously converted a 5-out save, working out of a stressful bases-loaded jam in the 8th. I have to admit my faith was waning when he took the mound — even if he is paid very handsomely to do this type of thing. It took him 34 pitches to earn his 24th save — could that make him unavailable on Sunday? I’m guessing no.

Speaking of the Santana removal, my wife asked me four times why Johan was taken out, and I had no plausible answer. In hindsight, it’s easy to provide an explanation — after all, it worked out fine. But at the time, well, as Jerry Manuel might say, “that’s a good question”.

This was the first 1-0, 9-inning win for the Mets this season. They won a rain-shortened 1-0 game earlier in the year but that was it.

Next Mets Game

The rubber match occurs at 1:35 PM on Sunday afternoon. R.A. Dickey faces Roy Halladay. Now you tell me: if it was April, would you feel nearly as confident as you do right now about that matchup? Baseball is a funny game — and good for R.A. for rising to this level. He has reached a point where we will be mildly surprised if he doesn’t give the Mets an excellent chance to win against a superior team with possibly the best pitcher in baseball on the mound.


Mets Release Alex Cora

So there isn’t any big-time trade coming after all. Instead, the Mets have released Alex Cora and demoted Jesus Feliciano.

Per the Mets’ PR department:


FLUSHING, N.Y., August 7, 2010 – The New York Mets today announced that they have recalled outfielder Fernando Martinez and infielder Ruben Tejada from Buffalo (AAA) of the International League. Martinez will wear uniform #26 while Tejada will wear uniform #11. Both players will be available for tonight’s game at Philadelphia. In order to make room on New York’s 25-man roster, outfielder Jesus Feliciano was optioned to Buffalo and infielder Alex Cora was released.

Martinez, 21, was hitting .255 (63-247) with 38 runs scored, 16 doubles, 12 home runs, 33 RBI, 17 walks and 60 strikeouts in 68 games with the Bisons. Over his last 10 games at Buffalo, the 6-1, 200-pounder was batting .324 (11-34) with three doubles, two home runs and three RBI.

Martinez hit .176 (16-91) with 11 runs scored, one home run and eight RBI in 29 games with New York in 2009 before undergoing season-ending surgery on July 15 to repair a tear of the medial meniscus of the right knee.

Tejada, 20, was with the Mets from April 5-10 and June 4-July 19 this year. He batted .212 (22-104) with 17 runs scored, four doubles, five RBI, seven walks and 19 strikeouts in 35 games with the Mets. The 5-11, 162-pounder was hitting .280 (61-218) with 25 runs scored, 11 doubles, one home run, 16 RBI, 14 walks and 36 strikeouts in 65 games with the Bisons.

Feliciano, 31, hit .292 (19-65) with eight runs scored, four doubles, one triple and two RBI in 27 contests with the Mets this season.

Cora, 34, was batting .207 (35-169) with six doubles, three triples, 20 RBI, 10 walks and 16 strikeouts in 62 games with the Mets this year.

By cutting Cora now, the Mets have lost some grit and a future manager but they also are absconded of the $2M guaranteed to Cora if he had appeared in 18 more games this season. The move is similar to the dumping of Livan Hernandez around this time last year — who was let go before attaining numbers that would’ve netted about half a million in incentives.

From a financial perspective, the Cora move makes obvious sense.

As for Feliciano, I’m not sure what he did to deserve getting demoted. He seemed to do everything the Mets asked, and added a bit of a spark when he found his way into games. I’m guessing this means that F-Mart will be used at minimum in a platoon in LF with Jeff Francoeur while Jason Bay’s head mends — or perhaps he will be given the job full-time. It certainly makes more sense from a development standpoint for Martinez to play every day.

As for Tejada, I don’t get it. Is he going to play 2B over Luis Castillo? Why not bring Justin Turner back up, who is on a tear in AAA — his OPS over the past ten games is 1.300. In contrast, Tejada is hitting .229 over his last ten games.


Mets Demote Feliciano, Release Light-Hitting 2B

In order to free up room for the recently promoted Fernando Martinez and Ruben Tejada, the Mets have demoted Jesus Feliciano and released a light-hitting second baseman.

No, not Luis Castillo! Castillo is still owed $12 million over the next two years. Cutting ties with Castillo would be like cutting ties with Oliver Perez! Ridiculous!

Think again… Here’s a hint, the Mets are trying to save money.

The answer is Alex Cora! The de facto leader of the team was only 18 games away from reaching a vested option, so the Mets will save $2 million by sending him packing. Sweet!

So to recap… F-Mart and Tejada are likely to sit on the bench behind Francoeur and Castillo. Ollie Perez is still here. And the light-hitting second baseman who was the only semblance of a leader on this team is gone.

To be fair, the Mets may be working on a deal to ship Castillo and Francoeur out of town (possibly to Seattle?), and that would actually make this a good move because it would free up playing time for F-Mart. Let’s hope so, because as it stands now, it seems like the Wilpons are pinching pennies with no clear direction. Again.


Mets and Mariners Talking Trade?

ESPN New York is reporting that the Mets and Mariners may be close to finalizing a deal that sends prospect Fernando Martinez to Seattle.

It is still not clear who the Mets would get back or if they would be sending additional players, though Luis Castillo is mentioned as another possible piece in the deal.

Two sources — one with ties to the organization, one formerly with the organization — indicated the Seattle Mariners are the team involved in dialogue with the Mets.

One of the sources indicated that 21-year-old outfielder Fernando Martinez, who was one of the two players scratched from the Bisons’ lineup, could be headed to Seattle if a deal materializes.

Meanwhile, RotoWorld is guessing that the Mets could be getting Chone Figgins back as part of the deal.

This is mainly piecing a few things together to try to see what fits at this point. We know that the Mets and Mariners are talking trade. We know the Mariners shopped Figgins before the traded deadline and that he would almost surely clear waivers after the deadline. We know that Fernando Martinez and Ruben Tejada were scratched from their Triple-A lineups without any reason given. Put it all together and we could have a trade brewing. It’s possible Luis Castillo could be involved in the deal, as well. Stay tuned.

UPDATE (11:48am) – MetsBlog is reporting that both Martinez and Tejada will be called up today. No word yet on who will be moved, demoted or released to clear room on the roster.