Tag: giants

Mets Game 34: Win Over Giants

Mets 7 Giants 4

Once again the Mets got on the board first. Once again their starting pitcher gave them a 6+ inning, “quality start”. Once again the bullpen blew a save in the late innings. And once again –this being a recent revision to the daily plot — the Mets fought back to reclaim the lead.

John Maine stumbled at the beginning, giving up two quick runs and his 1-0 lead in the first frame, but didn’t allow another one through the next five and two-third innings. He battled through two outs in the seventh, then finally handed the game over to the Mets’ bullpen, which was without J.J. Putz. Brian Stokes did his job, getting the final out of the seventh, but Bobby Parnell allowed two runs on three hits and a walk in the 8th, making the game four-all.

In the top of the ninth, however, the middle of the Mets lineup took over the game. Carlos Beltran started the rally with a two-out double to deep left-center, stole third, and trotted home on a David Wright single to give the Mets the lead. Moments later, 40-year-old Gary Sheffield led the way on a double steal, setting up a two-out, two-run single for Ramon Castro. Who said this team can’t hit with two outs and RISP?

As usual, Frankie Rodriguez made things interesting, but nonetheless knocked down the Giants for his tenth save.


David Wright reached base in all five of his plate appearances, drove in two, scored one, and stole a career-high four bases. He’s now hitting .331.

Wright’s four thefts helped the Mets set a team record for steals in a game (7). That’s one more than Carl Crawford stole all by himself against the Red Sox in a game two weeks ago … but, it’s still a lot. Who would believe that the Mets would pull off this historic grand larceny on a night that Jose Reyes sat on the bench with a calf injury.

Before the game SNY ran yet another misty-eyed Keith Hernandez returning to his old neighborhood spot — basically the same one we saw last year. I sort of enjoyed it, except for the part where Keith went on and on about his Little League MVP trophy, and think it would’ve come off as a lot less lame if they did away with the melancholic guitar solo playing in the background.

For the second time in three days, Carlos Beltran was thrown out at third stealing but was called safe by the umpire. The ball beat him to the bag and Pablo Sandoval blocked the entire bag with his tree trunk of a thigh, applying the tag a split second before Beltran’s toe caught the base. A few minutes later Beltran scored the go-ahead run. Deja vu all over again, as Yogi would say.

John Maine threw two wild pitches in the first inning, walked two, and threw five non-swinging / non-hit strikes. In all, he threw 30 pitches in that first frame, only 13 for strikes. For a moment there, it appeared as if he might not make it out of the first frame, but he settled down and took advantage of the aggressive Giants hitters swinging at his high fastballs.

As you know, I’m all for pushing a starter to more realistic (and manly) pitch counts, but can someone explain to me why it’s OK to push a pitcher with awful, potentially harmful mechanics such as Maine to 118 pitches, but pitchers with efficient mechanics (Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey) are held to 95-105 pitches?

For everyone who’s been saying Gary Sheffield is “finished”, you may want to reconsider. His bat speed is still among the elite, and he’s 4-for-10 in his last two games in the starting lineup with a homerun and a double. And although he’s not a blazer on the basepaths, his speed is above average and he’s as good or better a baserunner as anyone on the team, inasfar as reading the ball off the bat, getting good secondary leads, taking the extra base, etc. I think it makes sense to give him at least a full week or two in the everyday lineup, to see if indeed he can still be an impact player. With Carlos Delgado’s hip barking, that may well happen.

Edgar Renteria left the game in the 8th inning with a leg injury. Scary to think that the Giants lineup could be even more feeble, but it will be if they are without Renteria.

Speaking of, how is it possible that the Giants can be so terrible at the plate, when there were so many big bats available at rock-bottom prices this winter? Heck, there are still a few decent sluggers looking for a job. And we thought the Mets were being unreasonable / cheap / idiotic for not signing a bopper.

Next Game

The Mets and Giants do it again at 10:15 EST PM on Friday night. Livan Hernandez goes to the hill against Tim Lincecum.


Mets – Giants Quick Preview

The Mets begin a four-game series in San Francisco tonight at 10:15 PM EST. Here’s the rundown …
Game One: John Maine (3-2, 4.54 ERA) vs. Jonathan Sanchez (1-3, 4.78 ERA)This is the matchup of borderline enigmas. Both Maine and Sanchez have shown the ability to make batters swing and miss, and seem to have the stuff of a #2 starter. But, both have also had trouble staying consistent enough to realize that potential. Sanchez’s main issue is walks — he’s given 22 free passes in 26 innings thus far.

Game Two: Livan Hernandez (3-1, 5.08 ERA) vs. Tim Lincecum (3-1, 3.25 ERA)
These pitchers have identical won-loss records, but their paths to success are strikingly different. As good as Lincecum was last year, you wouldn’t have known it from his performance against the Mets — he gave up nine hits, two of them homers, in his six-inning start against them last year. Edgar Renteria, Bengie Molina, Aaron Rowand, and Rich Aurilia have all handled Livan well in their careers against him, but Hernandez has been able to keep Randy Winn at .244 lifetime.

Game Three: Johan Santana (4-2, 0.78 ERA) vs. Randy Johnson (3-3, 5.89 ERA)
A marquee matchup of Cy Young vs. Cy Old. Santana is pitching about as well as he ever has in his career, while Johnson is reminding people of Steve Carlton’s last years in the bigs. Though Johnson is striking out more than a batter an inning (39 Ks in 36 IP), he’s also allowing a hit per inning — and 10 are homeruns. But if we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that having the best pitcher in the universe on the mound means little when you’re the New York Mets. Of note: Bengie Molina is 11-for-25 with 2 HRs in his career against Johan; Johnson is two wins shy of 300.

Game Four: Mike Pelfrey (4-0, 4.89 ERA ) vs. Matt Cain (3-1, 3.00 ERA)

From the standpoint of a baseball fan, I’ve been liking the matchups Pelfrey has been drawing — they appear to be potential pitching duels. As a Mets fan, I’d rather he be pitted against, say, Osiris Matos. Cain has shown flashes of brilliance in his first few years in the bigs, sporting a thundering fastball with the ability to dominate hitters. But at 24 years old and with three full MLB seasons under his belt, Cain is at a point where Pelfrey was last year — time to turn a corner and begin realizing his potential. He’s been impressive thus far, pitching at least six innings in each of his starts and posting a nice ERA. The statheads are worried that his strikeout rate has dropped and he’s throwing less fastballs, but so far the changes have resulted in positive performance. Pelfrey continues to look better and stronger with each start, and getting enough quick groundball outs to keep his pitch counts low. Note: David Wright and Jose Reyes are a combined 15-for-29 against Cain.

Closing Thoughts

With identical 18-15 records, the Mets and Giants meet in what could be a litmus test for both teams. San Francisco has shown strong pitching but paltry offense, while the Mets have been more or less the opposite. Despite the Mets’ inconsistency in the starting rotation (after Santana) and recent bullpen woes, they stand second in the NL in ERA at 3.95. The Giants’ 4.13 is not far off and good enough for fifth in the league, and I think it’s fair to say that, across the board, the arms for each club are comparable. Offensively, it’s no contest — the Giants are one of the worst-hitting teams in MLB, while the Mets are second in the NL in batting average and third in OPS. However, all that hitting has scored 165 runs — which is only seventh-best in the NL.

Bottom line: if it’s agreed that the teams are equal from the mound, then, on paper, the Mets should be able to at least split this series in San Francisco. What will actually happen … well, that’s what the games are for.


Giants Sign Juan Uribe

The San Francisco Giants have signed infielder Juan Uribe to a minor league contract.

As a Mets fan, why do you care? Well, you probably don’t. But it should be noted that Uribe is:

1. a righthanded hitter with power

2. versatile — he plays 2B, SS, and 3B

3. an excellent glove man

4. only 29 years old

5. signed to a minor league deal

Uribe hit 20+ homers in three out of the four years from 2004-2007. He lost his starting 2B job last spring to Alexei “All-World” Ramirez, and became a utility infielder with pop. In truth, I doubt he’s actually 29 years old — something tells me there was a “paperwork adjustment” — but if he is indeed under thirty, he should have at least one or two more years of peak performance left in him.

Once again — great glove man, former starter at 2B, good pop in the bat, righthanded hitter, signed to a minor league deal, which likely is much less than $1M guaranteed. Doesn’t that sound like an IDEAL fit for the New York Mets?

Oh, that’s right, the Mets signed 33-year-old, lefthanded hitting, no-pop Alex Cora to a $2M guaranteed MLB contract. Smart move.


Affeldt Signed by Giants

The San Francisco Giants have signed Jeremy Affeldt to a two-year, $8M contract. The lefthanded reliever is the first free agent to sign on the open market this winter.

From the Giants’ perspective, the signing is eerily similar to one made by the Mets during the 2006-2007 offseason. First, it’s a LOOGY coming off an unusually successful season with the Cincinnati Reds. Secondly, there are these quotes from the AP report:

Affeldt’s role is yet to be determined, though San Francisco’s brass likes that he can pitch multiple innings. … it doesn’t hurt that he lives in Spokane, Wash., so he’ll be much closer to home

Yeah, that sounds vaguely familiar, doesn’t it? Didn’t the Mets sign a lefthanded starter-turned-reliever, who supposedly could “pitch multiple innings” / fill various roles, and grew up nearby? Oh, and then there is that startlingly expensive contract that draws comparison.

Now, I know there are people who disagree with my parallels of Affeldt to Scott Schoeneweis. Many people think Affeldt would have been a wonderful addition to the Mets’ bullpen, based on his last two seasons. These same people probably think Joe Beimel is a good idea as well.

But what must be considered is that Affeldt’s strong 2007 was only the second time he ever posted an ERA below 4.64 in his career. In fact, his ERA the previous two seasons was 6.20 and 5.26. One could argue that his newfound success was due to some change in his approach, or possibly maturation. More likely, it had to do with the fact he became a strict LOOGY — in 75 games, he spun just 59 innings. In 2008, his workload grew to just over one inning per outing — 74 games, 78 innings. This was due to spinning two innings in a game 13 times during the season. And to his credit, he did for the most part pitch to more than “one guy” in the majority of his appearances. But can he keep it up, and be a legitimate setup guy as some Mets followers have suggested? Maybe, but is that maybe worth two years at $8M? Remember back to that fateful winter, when Scho seemed like such a great signing because he had posted a 3.32 ERA as a LOOGY in 2005, and then was nearly perfect as a closer for the Reds over 16 games in 2006.

Of course, Schoeneweis came to New York as damaged goods, and Affeldt is presumably healthy. Good for him to get that deal, but I for one am glad the Mets didn’t pony up such an arresting commitment.