I know many Mets fans were hoping to get Nick Swisher under the Christmas tree, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Not that the Mets were ever interested, though the Yankees might have been.
In other news, the Dodgers signed another pitcher — Korean lefthander Hyun-Jin Ryu (or is it Ryu Hyun-jin? I’m not sure). The 25-year-old (he’ll be 26 by Opening Day) is inked for 6 years, $36M. According to reports, he throws a fastball in the low 90s and uses his change-up as his out pitch. I guess that makes him the lefthanded Mario Soto.
Gee, I wonder if this signing means the Mets have a shot at reacquiring Chris Capuano?
The $36M is on top of the $27.5M posting fee that the Dodgers paid for the rights to negotiate with Ryu.
By the way, the Dodgers’ payroll for 2013 will be at least $225M — a new MLB record. LA ownership obviously has deeper pockets than we’ve ever seen before, and laughs in the face of Bud Selig’s “competitive balance” tax. In case you weren’t aware, any MLB team whose payroll is in excess of $178M by the end of the 2013 season is subject to a 17% tax. Assuming the Dodgers are around $225M, they’ll have to put about $38M into the kitty. It seems they don’t care; perhaps they see it as the cost of doing business. I wonder, is the ghost of George Steinbrenner among their board of directors?
Mets 6 Indians 4
A second sweep makes seven straight with the Subway Series on the slate.
If you listened on the radio, you heard Howie Rose say “put it in the books” through two sweeps. And you may have wondered if in fact there is a book on brooms. There is, sort of: Men With Brooms: A Sweeping Epic — though, it’s actually about the sport of curling, not baseball. But, I could see a similar book being written, titled “Mets with Brooms”.
R.A. Dickey’s dancing knuckler cannot be stopped. He’s won his fifth straight game and has pitched at least 6 innings in every one of his starts. In this contest he allowed 3 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks, striking out 7. In many ways his legend resembles that of Terry Leach.
Jose Reyes was a homerun away from the cycle, going 3-for-5 with an RBI and 2 runs scored. He’s now hit in nine straight games.
Ike Davis, Angel Pagan, Ruben Tejada, and Chris Carter each stroked two hits. Davis also drove in 2.
I still can’t figure out how Pagan isn’t hitting close to .400, when it seems like he’s 2-for-4 every game. Must be the new math.
The Indians’ defense and fundamentals continued to be absolutely atrocious, and had a hand in handing over the game to the Mets. Part of it is related to players out of position (i.e., Austin Kearns in CF), but again, it’s eerily similar to the fundamentally unsound teams in Washington the past few years.
So glad Pedro Feliciano was able to get into this game — especially after warming up but not getting into Wednesday night’s contest. He’s thrown 74 pitches (in games) in the past week, but who’s counting? A little extra work never hurts a reliever — just ask Fernando Nieve.
K-Rod managed to earn his 15th save without causing anyone a heart attack. The ninth inning was refreshingly only mildly stressful.
Next Mets Game
The Mets embark to the Bronx for a three-game weekend series with that other team from New York City. Friday night’s matchup begins at 7:05 PM and has Hisanori Takahashi taking the hill for the Mets against Javier Vazquez of the Yankees.
New York Times – David Waldstein has a GREAT story about Chris Carter’s legally blind grandfather who just saw Carter play at Progressive Field. This is an early frontrunner for tomorrow’s Feel Good Friday link.
ESPN New York – Adam Rubin reports that Jason Bay is not in the starting lineup tonight.
MetsBlog – Jason Bay wanted to play tonight, but according to the new rule, you don’t play the day after almost sustaining a serious injury.
The Jewish Week – A strange story here… The Mets are being sued by Kosher Sports, for allegedly barring the concession company from selling its food at Mets games on Friday night and Saturday. The Mets claim the lawsuit is without merit.
ESPN – Buster Olney has a rundown on the pitchers that the Mets may trade for. My money is on Jake Westbrook or Kevin Millwood.
SNY – Michael Salfino says the Mets have a hole at second base, but he doesn’t think Akinori Iwamura is the answer.
BrooklynMetFan – BMF says Angel Pagan is the Mets’ MVP so far this season. Hard to argue with that…
Tonight, the Mets (37-28) go for the sweep against the Cleveland Indians (25-39). R.A. Dickey (4-0, 2.78) will bare his knuckles against possible future Mets hurler Jake Westbrook (4-3, 4.62).
Here is the starting lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Cleveland Indians, courtesy of the Mets PR Dept.:
J. Feliciano LF
Bay rests his charley horse, Jesus Feliciano gets a start, Frenchy moves up in the lineup, and the Animal provides him protection. Let’s hope R.A. Dickey’s knuckler keeps dancing.
Post your comments, links, pictures below …
Mets 8 Indians 4
Tin soldiers and Niese was pitching, we’re finally scoring runs
This summer I hear the drummin’, four runs in O-HI-O.
OK, that was lame. No offense to anyone who found that offensive. But that CSNY song was running through my head.
If you think “CSNY” refers to a William Peterson police investigation TV production, please move on to another Mets blog … don’t make me feel old.
Ohio-born-and-bred Jon Niese pitched masterfully in front of his hometown fans, spinning seven innings and allowing 3 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks. Not nearly perfect, but perfectly acceptable nonetheless.
I liked Niese’s pace; he worked quickly and seemed to be pitching with a purpose. I still don’t love his varied arm angles and inconsistent release points, and don’t at all like his early collapse and sideways drive to the plate, which completely negates any advantage he has from his tall 6’4″ frame. Only rarely does he really use his height and get on top of the ball, dropping and driving a la Jerry Koosman — a style that would bring the sharp bite back to his curve and provide more leverage and sink to the fastball. Sometimes I think his learning the cutter was a step back in terms of long-term success, even if it helped create short-term success. Also I fear for the health of his elbow … sorry if I’m harping on that subject.
One of these days I’m going to force a “professional” pitching coach to explain to me why he allows pitchers to step sideways in starting the windup — and thereby going against all of the laws of motion and physics established by Sir Isaac Newton. Eh, they know more than Newton, I guess.
Speaking of “pro” coaches who have changed the game for “the better” … SNY showed a clip of Bob Feller during the 4th inning. If you paid attention, you would have seen that Feller used his arms over his head to initiate the generation of front-back-front momentum to propel the ball toward home plate. Somewhere along the line, pitching “experts” decided that it made more sense to keep “moving parts” to a minimum, and focused the delivery on hip rotation, which is side-to-side — and go against all the laws of motion and physics. The end result? Pitchers who don’t finish games, are limited to 100-pitch counts, have higher ERAs, lower win totals, and need annual surgeries. Go figure.
Offensively, the Mets jumped out to a five-run lead in the third inning and never looked back. Angel Pagan had a big day, going 3-for-5 with 3 RBI, a double, his 14th stolen base, and a run scored. Carlos Beltran can take all the time he wants getting back into shape.
Jeff Francoeur, Jason Bay, and Ike Davis each contributed two hits and an RBI, and David Wright hit a two-run double to round out the scoring.
Travis Hafner is a shell of his former self, and not nearly resembling the scary slugger he was before MLB starting testing for PEDs. Not to suggest that he had any “help”, just pointing out a coincidence. In fairness, Hafner has been struggling to fight injuries over the past four years, and injuries are rarely associated with PEDs.
I may never understand the universal praise for Manny Acta — aka “Connie Macta”, as Michael Kay likes to say. Despite a reputation of “being good with young players, his Nationals teams never took a step forward, were generally lazy, and lacked both fundamentals and discipline. Similarly, his Indians have gone backward. Even though Cleveland’s problems have something to do with injuries, I still felt like I was seeing a team similar to what we’ve seen in Washington the last few years. It’s not fair to judge Acta based on the small sample and the personnel, but there is definitely a familiarity from my view. Anderson Hernandez in the leadoff spot? Hmm ….
This was one of those nice games where the result was never in jeopardy … perhaps partially because Francisco Rodriguez had the night off.
Next Mets Game
The Mets go for the sweep in Cleveland at 7:05 PM on Thursday night. R.A. Dickey goes to the hill against future Met Jake Westbrook. Woops … did I say that out loud?
Mets 7 Indians 6
The Mets continue their absolute dominance over American League opponents, and this time they did it in come-from-behind fashion.
After falling behind 4-1, the Mets stampeded back with five runs in the fifth to take a lead they never lost, en route to their 36th victory of the season.
Johan Santana didn’t have his best stuff … blah blah blah. You’ve heard that story before. This time, though, the Mets gave him run support, and in this case it was much-needed.
As usual, Santana struggled to break 90 MPH, didn’t have great command of the changeup, and was inconsistent with a sparingly-used slider. He allowed 4 earned runs on 7 hits and 2 walks to a lineup that is made up mostly of AAA and AA players. But as Bobby Ojeda might say, “he did what winners do”. Yes, he did, but I’m still concerned.
Ike Davis once again was the difference maker, as his two-run homer broke a 4-4 tie and gave the Mets the lead they never relinquished.
David Wright was 3-for-5, driving in three runs on two infield singles (with a little help from the speedy Jose Reyes). Wright now has 50 RBI, leading the National League. Not bad for a guy who was having a “terrible” year until recently.
Jose Reyes had only one hit but scored twice and stole his 17th base. Angel Pagan also swiped a bag, his 13th of the season.
Jeff Francoeur and Alex Cora combined to go 4-for-8 with two runs scored in the bottom two spots of the lineup.
Pedro Feliciano pitched the entire 8th inning in his new role as setup man and in his NL-leading 39th appearance. Though he didn’t allow a run, he looked dull — meaning, the opposite of sharp. Could it be the result of overuse? Nah.
Francisco Rodriguez made things interesting in the 9th, allowing a pinch-hit two-run homer to the ugliest man in baseball, Shelly Duncan.
If nothing else, the two bookend pitchers from this game are consistent in that Johan Santana never has his best stuff, and K-Rod always makes things interesting.
Justin Masterson pitched through the end of the seventh inning, despite allowing 7 runs on 10 hits and 2 walks. How often do you see that these days?
Seven of the Mets’ twelve hits were infield hits. Another rare feat.
Next Mets Game
The Mets and Indians do it again at 7:05 PM on Wednesday night in Cleveland. Jon Niese faces Mitch Talbot.
Tonight the Mets begin a 3-game series with the Indians in Cleveland. The Injuns had high hopes in the preseason, but those hopes dashed quickly after the season-ending injury to superstar Grady Sizemore and widespread underperformance by the able-bodied players on the roster.
To get a clue on what’s happening in Cleveland, we turn to fellow SweetSpot blogger Steve Buffum of “The B-List Indians Blog” for the scoop.
1. After a tough seven-game ALCS loss in 2007, the Indians have had some tough times. Were you expecting a step forward or backward in 2010?
I really expected this team to take a step forward in 2010. I wrote a pre-season series about how it was reasonable to expect significant (as defined by “a reasonable expectation for double-digit VORP improvement”) improvement from 8 different players: a couple have been able to do this (Fausto Carmona, Jhonny Peralta), but most have not (Masterson, Huff, LaPorta, Sizemore, Rafael Perez, Andy Marte).
The three most important players were Sizemore, who was pitiful before he got hurt anyway (the two may be related, it isn’t clear), Carmona, who has done quite well, and Perez, who has been awful and joined by Tony Sipp in providing the kind of bullpen support normally provided by large, flaming barrels of kerosene rags.
2. What is your opinion thus far of new manager Manny Acta?
It’s too early to tell. I like that Acta addresses issues openly and honestly, and he appears to learn more quickly from tactical errors than his predecessor, Eric Wedge. His team is pretty bad, though. The first season is far too early to judge the guy.
3. Do you think the Indians are on a path toward eventual success? Are there more hard times ahead before they take a step forward?
Well, yes and no. A significant part of the problem was a series of atrocious drafts, and they’ve been much improved over the past three or so. That sort of thing takes time to bear fruit, but players like Alex White, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, Cord Phelps, and Drew Pomeranz have major-league potential. I like some of the players we’ve acquired through trades, like Carlos Santana, Chris Perez, Jess Todd, Mitch Talbot, Nick Hagadone, Scott Barnes, Jason Donald, and Jason Knapp, not to mention the major-league contributors Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera.
But the Indians have a HUGE cashflow problem, which is exacerbated by the low attendance figures to date. From what I’ve read, they budgeted for a certain draw and aren’t getting it. They already traded C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee for financial reasons: there’s no reason to think that players like Kerry Wood or Jake Westbrook are going to be Indians next season. They’ll have to live and die with the yoots, and frankly, while there are good signs, the actual performance of players like Donald, Tofu Lou Marson, Mike Brantley, and Trevor Crowe show that … well … these young players are bad compared to full-time major-league players.
4. Austin Kearns is one of the Indians’ best offensive players — yet, his job is in jeopardy if Matt LaPorta is brought back to the big club. First, please explain how Kearns found his way to being a top producer on an AL club, and second, tell us why he’s not guaranteed to be a regular in the second half.
It’s probably simplistic to say, “Health,” but I think that’s a huge factor. The poor guy has just been so battered and snakebit over his career. This having been said, I also think he’s playing a bit over his true baseline, and I think he should be traded. By the time the Indians are ready to compete for a playoff spot, Kearns is likely to be on the downslope (he’s already 30): that is exactly the player the Indians need FEWER of, not MORE.
5. Is Andy Marte ever going to amount to anything?
No. He is a fungus.
6. Over the long run, do you believe the players obtained in the Sabathia, Lee, and Martinez deals will provide the foundation to a champhionship-caliber club in Cleveland?
They will contribute, but they’re not the foundation by themselves, no. Shoot, the best prospect we’ve received came in the Casey Blake deal (Carlos Santana). But I think that Masterson, Hagadone, Donald, Knapp, LaPorta, and Rob Bryson are all legitimate contributors … although there are no guarantees. LaPorta looked horribibble in Cleveland, then went to Columbus and hit 4 homers in 3 games. Maybe he’s actually good. Maybe he’s actually Jeff Manto. I can’t tell.
7. Give Mets fans the scoop on Justin Masterson and Mitch Talbot, two of the starters in this series.
Masterson’s last two starts have been fundamentally different from his previous ones, and the difference is reportedly that he is “getting on top” of his sinker rather than spinning “around” it. Without that bite, Masterson is INCREDIBLY susceptible to left-handed hitters, posting an enormous platoon split. He still has terrific strikeout stuff, though, averaging over 8 per 9 IP. He is terribly inefficient at times, getting up to 90 pitches by the 5th inning, but as I said: his past two starts have been great.
Mitch Talbot has been a huge surprise to me. I can see why he didn’t fit in Tampa, which has dominant stuff coming out of every orifice, but he’s a quality starter. Still, his incredibly lousy K:BB ratio and low K rate suggest a certain degree of smoke and mirrors at work. Unlike Masterson, Talbot sports a REVERSE platoon split, suggesting his normal stuff fades away from lefties and in to righties: while left-handers hit him more often, right-handers hit him a lot harder. He’s been BABIP-lucky this season, but hey, the man is 7-4 for a crummy team.
8. Do you expect Jake Westbrook to end 2010 as an Indian? Are there any other Indians you think may be moved at the trade deadline?
No chance. We will take a dead body for Westbrook if that’s what it takes. He’ll be traded in one of those “the more money we chip in, the better the prospect we get” deals. He’d be a great fit in St. Louis, Los Angeles (Dodgers), or, I should say, the Mets.
Kerry Wood will go on the same sort of deal, except I’m expecting the dead body in return.
Russ Branyan should be bait. I advocate trading Kearns. Jhonny Peralta has a team option next year for more than he’s worth, so I expect him to be offered, although he’s not actually very valuable and may not get moved. The Blue Jays were sniffing around Carmona, who has expensive team options coming soon, but I expect him to stay. SOMEONE has to pitch. Mike Redmond might get a Viking Funeral trade like Jamey Carroll did last year.
9. Tell us about any Indians we may not have heard about, who could have an impact on this series.
We have two hitters who could start for most teams: Kearns and Choo. Choo is faster than you might think, with a 10:2 SB:CS ratio (the 10 steals leads the team). Carlos Santana has been called up, and he is essentially Victor Martinez. (His stance is actually quite similar: Santana apparently idolized Martinez as a youth.) He hit a homer and a double this weekend against Washington. The outfielders (Kearns, Crowe, Choo) cover a lot of ground, and Choo has a fantabulous arm (once used to throw 95 off the mound). Our infield defense is comically bad. Chris Perez, Jensen Lewis, and Frank Herrmann are capable right-handed relievers: we have no left-handed reliever I would trust with any hitter more dangerous than Abe Vigoda.
10. Bottom of the ninth, two out, tie game, winning run on third base. What Indian do you want to see at the plate?
Choo. This may be Santana in time, but for now it’s Choo. (Oddly enough, in the small-sample “RISP, two outs”, Trevor Crowe actually has a higher AVG (.333) than Choo (.308) … but … yeah, I still want Choo.)
Many thanks to Steve Buffum for giving us his insight on the Indians. For more in-depth coverage of the Cleveland nine, be sure to check out Steve’s site “The B-List Indians Blog“.
Before I could weigh in on the subject, however, the Indians traded Shoppach to the Tampa Bay Rays.
As a free agent, I liked the idea of 29-year-old Kelly Shoppach — much more than I like the thought of Bengie Molina. But that ship has now sailed, so forget it.
However, whenever one door closes, another opens, right? And with the acquisition of Shoppach, the Rays have to do something with incumbent catcher Dioner Navarro. A-ha !
Navarro hits from both sides of the plate, has a strong arm, and was an All-Star in 2008. Oh, did I mention he’s only 25 years old?
The downside to Navarro is he had an awful year at the plate in 2009, hitting only .218. However, his impressive 2008 season suggests that he has offensive skills — maybe all he needs is a change in scenery to see them return. Again, he’s only 25, so there’s plenty of time to make a comeback. After his awful ’09, there’s a good chance that the Rays non-tender Navarro. If so, he’ll become a free agent, in which case, I’d hope the Mets would at least make an inquiry. After all, switch-hitting All-Star catchers in their mid-20s don’t grow on trees.