Marlins 9 Mets 3
The game started out ugly, and got uglier with each succeeding inning.
The game started out ugly, and got uglier with each succeeding inning.
For the second consecutive game, the Mets came back in the ninth inning to tie the ballgame, thanks to a homerun off of the opposing team’s closer. And for the second consecutive game, they couldn’t convert that momentum shift into a victory.
Mets 9 Marlins 2
Break up the Mets!
I know I’m a day late on this one, but it’s taken this much time for me to process the trade.
For those living under a rock, the New York Yankee$ traded Melky Cabrera, Michael Dunn, and Arodys Vizcaino to the Braves for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan.
You don’t need me to point out that the Braves were supposedly shopping Derek Lowe for a big bat, but wound up dealing the man who finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting for a defensive-minded fourth outfielder. This one is a head-scratcher from the perspective of both teams.
First, why would the Yankees want Vazquez to return to the Bronx, after proving he wasn’t fit for New York? Though, they gave up next to nothing for a formidable innings-eater (quick, who is the only pitcher to hurl more innings than Vazquez in the 21st century? Answer is below), so you can’t blame them too much. What’s bothersome is this: if Vazquez were acquired by the Mets, he’d arrive as their #2 starter. On the Yankees, he’s a #4 — possibly a #5 if Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain reaches his potential.
Also bothersome: the Yankees nearly picked up Carlos Zambrano to be their #4. Again, a pitcher that would slot in as #2 for the Mets. If this isn’t a wake-up call as to where the Mets stand in relation to serious postseason contenders then I don’t know what is.
On the other side of the mystery is the Braves, who gave away an excellent pitcher for Melky Cabrera and prospects. Is Michael Dunn that good? Is Melky’s defense in center that outstanding? Or was this a salary dump to put the Braves in a better position to acquire a high-priced bat? Something’s fishy here and I don’t like it one bit.
Most troublesome is that this deal effectively adds two more teams to the market for a power-hitting left fielder and/or first baseman. I had this nightmare where the Yankees signed Matt Holliday and the Braves signed Jason Bay.
Meanwhile, did I mention the Mets are in very serious talks with R.A. Dickey? My apologies if I did, but I didn’t want you to miss that news.
(Trivia answer: Livan Hernandez has thrown more innings than anyone else in the 21st century)
So much for the split.
Things were looking bad right away, when starting pitcher Fernando Nieve left the game in the second inning with a pulled muscle in his leg trying to beat out an infield grounder — and was replaced by everyone’s favorite “long man” Tim Redding. Redding immediately served up a solo homer to Yunel Escobar to give the Braves a 1-0 lead, foreshadowing more dismal events to come.
Somehow, Redding worked through the rest of the second without allowing a run, and things were looking up for almost 15 minutes, because the Mets fought back to tie the game in the top of the third and Redding shut out the Braves in the bottom of the same. But Escobar beat Redding again in the fourth, this time with a broken-bat single to drive in the go-ahead run. Then in the fifth, the roof caved in as the Tomahawkers trounced Redding and Elmer Dessnes for another five runs to put the game away for good.
Not much good came from this game. It’s hard to fault Nieve for running hard and trying to beat out a hit — pitcher or no pitcher, I like to see the game played right. And with this team it’s a pleasure to see someone giving 100%. Unfortunately that “stunt” will likely put him on the DL — he was diagnosed with a strained quad and no word yet on how severe is the injury. What makes it worse is it provides an example of why someone (particularly a pitcher) shouldn’t go all out. But I don’t buy that — had he not run hard through the bag, maybe he would’ve turned his ankle hitting the bag, or been wonked on the head by a wild throw. Injuries happen — usually for no reason other than bad timing or dumb luck.
Luis Castillo went 2-for-3, the only Met with more than one hit. The Mets mustered six hits all afternoon, and David Wright drew the team’s lone walk.
Brian Stokes threw a scoreless inning of mopup relief, as did Bobby Parnell — though Parnell walked two batters in his 21-pitch stint. Redding, Dessens, and Pat Misch continue to prove the other 29 teams right for having no interest in their services. Where’s Nelson Figueroa?
In the three hole, Daniel Murphy went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and is now hitting .238 with a .307 OBP. He’s 3 for his last 22 with 6 Ks.
Brian Schneider had one of the Mets’ three hits in his second start in the past week. I believe he and Fernando Tatis are the only Mets to go over the wall this month.
Yunel Escobar went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI and a run scored.
The Phillies beat the Fish 5-0 behind the arm of undefeated JA Happ, sending the Mets 9 games back. The Phillies are now 13 games above .500; the Mets are 5 below. But hey, there’s still a lot of season left, and the Mets have the benefit of playing the Nationals over the next three days.
The Mets embark to Washington DC to play the Nationals in a three-game series that begins Monday night at 7:05 PM. Livan Hernandez pitches for his job against J.D. Martin (not to be confused with J.C. Martin). Martin is filling in for Scott Olsen, who is being placed on the DL with an elbow injury.
Insulated by our New York cocoon, we may not know what exactly is going on with the Braves — outside of what we can glean from the stat lines and the ESPN highlights. So, we’ve called on Mac Thomasonfrom BravesJournal.com to give us a quick update on the Atlanta Nine.
1. Vazquez vs. Maine & Kawakami vs. Hernandez : how are you liking / not liking these matchups?
I like the first one a whole lot. Vazquez has looked good in all his starts (he lost his last one, but that was due to a fluke inning) and is among the league leaders in strikeouts, while Maine has struggled this year. Of course, he’ll be facing the Braves offense, which is a heck of an equalizer right now. The second, by all rights, should be a game where each team uses about six pitchers, but given the Braves’ offensive strugges I can’t too optimistic. Although Braves fans still remember 1997, in the regular season Livan is 3-15 against Atlanta with a 5.52 ERA, so thanks to Jerry Manuel for pushing Santana back.
2. Jordan Schafer: the real deal?
I think so. He’s an odd player, a guy who walks a lot and strikes out a lot, but who has only midrange power. I don’t care about the strikeouts the way some do, but it’s hard to maintain a good batting average when you strike out nearly a third of the time.
3. As a Braves fan, do you care much / worry about the Mets? What team in the NL East concerns you most / do you see as the favorite and why?
To be honest, I think the Phillies are the team to beat. They’re the champs, they’ve won the division the last two years, and they’re right in the race (ahead of both the Braves and the Mets) despite not really playing their best ball yet.
4. Braves’ biggest issue thus far is … ?
Lack of power on offense. The Braves are sixth in the NL in OBP, but eleventh in runs scored, largely because they’re tenth in slugging and thirteenth in home runs. Nobody on the team has more than three homers, and the leading slugger among the regulars is Chipper at .456. (Actually, Dave Ross, who is filling in for McCann, is slugging .543. He usually hits eighth.) The most-usual cleanup hitter with McCann out is Casey Kotchman, who hasn’t hit a home run this year.
5. One thing about the Braves this year that a Mets fan might not know ?
The Braves, despite their offensive struggles, have probably the second-best strikeout/walk ratio in the league. They’re third in walks, third from last in strikeouts. The Mets, however, are second and second from last…
Thanks to Mac, who keeps regular tabs on the Braves at BravesJournal.com. Be sure to check it out.
Pending a physical, the Braves have acquired Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan from the White Sox in exchange for Brent Lillibridge, Tyler Flowers, Jon Gilmore, and Santos Rodriguez.
As isuzudude already commented, this deal likely takes Atlanta out of the running for Jake Peavy — though, the pieces the Padres want are still property of the Braves. If the Braves are willing to give up more from their abundance of near-ready prospects, plus Yunel Escobar, then a Peavy deal is still possible. But with Lillibridge gone, the only way I see the Braves dealing Escobar is if they either get Khalil Greene back or if they sign someone like Edgar Renteria or Orlando Cabrera.
Regardless, the Braves are in the market for at least another starting pitcher, and they have supposedly made an offer to A.J. Burnett. Both the Vazquez deal and the offer to Burnett give them leverage in the Peavy talks. Will be interesting to watch.
Is this a good deal for the Braves? It does look that way, particularly since Lillibridge’s stock plummeted after a disappointing 2008 season in AAA, and the other three prospects are relative no-names. However, the White Sox were desperate to dump Vazquez, and what they received in return was a talented, speedy middle infielder who will play in MLB next year and a young power-hitting catcher with enormous upside. After a monster performance in the Arizona Fall League, Flowers might see some action for the ChiSox before the end of ’09, and — if he continues his current course — could be a future All-Star caliber catcher.
Vazquez will do well in Atlanta, partially because he’s getting away from a manager who didn’t want him and partially because he’s going to a city that is ideal for his personality — low-key, low expectations, not much media coverage. He won’t be an ace but he’ll be a solid #2 or #3.
Don’t discount the acquisition of Boone Logan, a young LOOGY who has been getting pounded by AL hitters for the last three years. Logan is only 24 years old, has a live fastball, and is very tough on lefties. He has age on his side, and he’s improving. The control problem that plagued his first two years is becoming less of an issue, as his K:BB ratio improved dramatically from 2007 to 2008 (in ’08 he struck out 42 and walked 14 in 42 IP; in ’07 he went 35 K / 20 BB / 52 IP). I’m not saying Logan is the next Mike Gonzalez, but he should earn a spot in the Braves bullpen and be a significant contributor.
Interesting point: the Braves and White Sox are two teams that rarely make bad trades. Further, neither of them are done dealing this winter.
As MetsToday reader isuzudude pointed out earlier today, rumors persist that the Chicago White Sox are eager to ship out Nick Swisher.
The latest from Mark Gonzalez of The Chicago Tribune also confirms that the Palehose are committed to moving young star Alexei Ramirez to his more natural position of shortstop, and allowing free agent Orlando Cabrera to depart.
From the story:
A scouting source added the Sox have strengthened efforts to deal first baseman-outfielder Nick Swisher, who is signed through 2011 but doesn’t have the no-trade rights Konerko, pitcher Javier Vazquez and right fielder Jermaine Dye possess.
Hmm … an opening at second base, a contract to dump … would Kenny Williams consider taking on Luis Castillo’s $18M in return for shedding Swisher’s $21M ? We discussed the possibility of Castillo going to Chicago in return for Paul Konerko last week, but that seems less realistic. Personally I’d do Castillo-for-Swisher in a heartbeat, install Swisher as the starting left fielder, and consider him as the heir to first base after Carlos Delgado exits. Swisher had a very difficult 2008, but at age 28 is entering his prime years and has shown both power and the ability to get on base in the past. He strikes out quite a bit, but makes up for it with his power, strong defensive skills and patience at the plate. Think of him as an Adam Dunn with a better glove and less swinging and missing. Oh, and the fact he’s a switch-hitter is nice, too. I also like his hard-nosed play.
Maybe the Mets can pull off a good old-fashioned blockbuster, and come away with Bobby Jenks and Javier Vazquez as well.
Let’s keep an eye on the developments in Chicago …