Tag: jorge cantu

Mets Fans’ Dream Come True

OK, maybe seeing the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers face off in the World Series isn’t exactly a “dream” for a Mets fan. But a World Series played between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees is pretty much a Mets fan’s worst nightmare, isn’t it?

Even though the Giants used to play in the Polo Grounds, and wear the same shade of orange as the Mets, I have a hard time rooting for them — mainly because they are an NL rival. Further, I just can’t bring my self to pull for specific players on the Giants; namely, Tim Lincecum, Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, and Guillermo Mota. And I don’t find “fear the beard” to be particularly inspiring, either.

At the same time, it’s hard for me to favor a team that plays in the Adulterated League — the one that continues to experiment with the designated pinch hitter rather than engage in real baseball. But I happen to like watching some of the Rangers players (Michael Young, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, Jorge Cantu, Cliff Lee, Darren O’Day, Darren Oliver, and Jeff Francoer top the list), and I’m eager to see Nolan Ryan succeed — mainly because of his dedication to developing pitchers based on sound mechanics and conditioning rather than pitch counts and other inane recommendations by surgeons.

Tough call, but I’m leaning toward rooting for the Rangers.

Which team will you be rooting for, and why?


Phillies Acquire Roy Oswalt

Why do the Phillies get all the Roys?

The Phils sent JA Happ, Anthony Gose, and Jonathan Villar to Houston in exchange for Roy Oswalt and a considerable amount of cash — the Astros will be picking up about half of the $22M left on Oswalt’s contract.

This gives the Phillies a starting rotation that starts with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels — not too shabby.

Meanwhile, the Mets did nothing — and why would they? After a full day of meetings on Monday, they came to the conclusion that the team is just fine the way it is, with enough talent to get into the playoffs. They proved that beyond a measure of doubt by taking two of three from the Cardinals in their first series after the pow-wow.

Everyone criticizing the Phillies for this deal claims that Oswalt is old and stinks. Let’s hope that’s the case. And let’s hope he’s not one of the top ten pitchers in the NL (WHIP and Ks aren’t really indicative of a pitcher’s value, right?). Though, pitching isn’t everything in baseball — you still have to score runs. And we know the Phillies struggle mightily offensively.

If nothing else, this trade sort of fulfills at least one of my predictions from this year — though, it does appear Jayson Werth is still in Philadelphia. One out of three ain’t bad, right?

In other news, the Marlins jettisoned Met-killer Jorge Cantu to Texas, the Orioles sent Miguel Tejada to San Diego, and the Nationals traded Matt Capps to Minnesota for young catcher Wilson Ramos.

I wonder if the Mets considered acquiring Tejada to play 2B? That’s really the only position where the Mets had an opportunity to upgrade. He was playing third in Baltimore, and likely will do the same for the Padres, moving Chase Headley to the outfield.


Garrett Atkins Non-Tendered

garrett-atkinsThe Colorado Rockies have announced they will not be offering a contract to Garrett Atkins, making him a free agent.

Atkins had an absolutely awful 2009 campaign, hitting only .226 with 9 HR and a .650 OPS in 399 plate appearances. His salary was $7.05M and would have been well over $5M at minimum if he was offered arbitration, so the Rockies cut him loose.

Should the Mets be interested?


Mets Game 20: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 7 Mets

For the second straight time, the Mets beat up on Ricky Nolasco, lighting him up for four runs on six hits and three walks in five innings of work. Gary Sheffield ripped a two-run triple in the initial inning, then Alex Cora and David Wright chased home runners with RBI singles in subsequent innings.

The Fish fought back with a couple runs in the fourth, thanks to a two-run homer by Jorge Cantu against Mets starter Livan Hernandez, then cut the deficit to one when Jeremy Hermida grounded into a fielder’s choice off Bobby Parnell (run charged to Hernandez).

Though the game was close, it seemed as though the Mets would wrap up this one easily, as they needed only to get through the seventh without a hitch, then unleash the dogs known as J.J. Putz and Frankie Rodriguez to bring the win home.

But it was not to be.

Instead of bridging the gap, middle man Sean Green shat the bed, allowing four runs in the seventh, highlighted by another dinger by Cantu, this one of the three-run variety. Since the Mets’ lineup more or less went to sleep after the fifth frame, there was no chance for a comeback win.

Game Notes

Livan Hernandez went 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on three hits and two walks, striking out five. Not an outstanding outing, but fairly acceptable from a fifth starter.

Alex Cora was 2-for-2 with a walk, with both of his hits being what ballplayers describe as “squibs” — basically, bloop hits fought off somewhere between the fists and the trademark of the bat, that fall barely out of the reach of infielders. But hey, they are line drives in the book.

Speaking of, there seemed to be a lot of cheap bloop hits and seeing-eye grounders from the Mets’ side in this game. Not too many line drives — not even for outs.

Cora was the only Met with more than one hit, and he drew one of NY’s three walks. So much for my theory that it makes no sense to bat him near the top of the order.

Although he allowed an inherited runner to score, Bobby Parnell came up big in the sixth, getting a popup from Dan Uggla and striking out Cody Ross to end a tense threat by the Fish.

Sean Green, not so big.

Leo Nunez has letters on the fingers of his glove reading “EL CD”. I don’t *think* that is a model number, but also not sure what it might signify. Electrolytic conductivity?

Next Game

The rubber match pits Johan Santana vs. Josh Johnson in pitchers’ duel part deux. Game time is 1:10 PM. If by chance you can call in sick to work, or are out of work, email me as I’m going to the game and have an extra ticket (the ticket’s free, but you’ll be obliged to buy me a beverage and a pulled-pork sandwich). As such, do not expect to see a game recap until later in the evening.


Mets Game 4: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 5 Mets 4

Though the Mets lost this one, they did show a lot of fight in the later innings, which is something we didn’t see enough of in 2008.

John Maine pitched well enough for his first outing since shoulder surgery, allowing two runs on two hits and one walk in five innings, striking out five. Both runs came on solo homers, on the same high fastballs that Keith Hernandez “likes to see”. Yes, those high fastballs can be strikeouts, but they can also be gopher balls, unfortunately. At one point, Maine retired seven Fish in a row, and he began the game with two consecutive strikeouts. His velocity was up to around 93 MPH, but his command was nonexistent. It appears he’s healthy, and on the way back, but will take some time.

Spoiling Maine’s encouraging performance was the Mets bullpen, which allowed three runs over the final four innings. If this were 1978, we might have seen J.J. Putz enter in the sixth and K-Rod record a two-inning save, but this is 2008 and pitchers don’t do that anymore. So instead, we watched Sean Green, Bobby Parnell, Pedro Feliciano, and Darren O’Day show us that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

On a positive note, Carlos Beltran belted his first homer of the year, with three hits on the day. Ryan Church also had three hits, as did Danny Murphy, though two of Murphy’s “hits” easily could have been scored errors. We’ll take them, though.

On a negative note, the Mets stranded 14 runners on base. Fourteen. Ouch. Well, at least they’re getting guys on base, right?

Back to the positive: Jeremy Reed came through HUGE with his hit as a New York Met, blistering an RBI single in the ninth inning off Matt Lindstrom to tie the game at four. He was the Mets’ best hitter in spring training, and it’s a wonder it took this long for him to get an at-bat in a regular-season game.

However, Feliciano and O’Day couldn’t hold the tie, and the blur known as Emilio Bonifacio won the game with his legs, reaching base on an infield single and racing home on a hit by Jorge Cantu. It was the second time in three innings that Bonifacio changed the game with his speed — he’d earlier reached base on a two-out bunt off Parnell, eventually scoring the Fish’s fourth run.

Game Notes

John Maine’s stats belied his performance. He gave up only two runs and walked one, but many of his strikeouts had more to do with undisciplined Marlins hitters chasing balls out of the strike zone than Maine throwing great pitches. Further, Maine was consistently missing spots, even when he was throwing strikes. This may not make sense, or it may sound like nitpicking, but the truth is, Brian Schneider was doing a lot of reaching to catch Maine’s pitches, because Maine was missing the intended target by a foot or more — that’s too much for an MLB pitcher.

Luis Castillo came to bat with runners in scoring position about fifteen times in this game, and failed in each one. We’ll still try to hammer that square peg into the round eighth hole of the lineup.

Speaking of, did anyone notice Castillo’s strike-three looking in the top of the seventh? It was a darn close pitch on the inside black of home plate. Maybe you also noticed Marlins catcher John Baker “stick” that pitch — he held it exactly where it crossed the plate, and was awarded with strike three. Maybe I’m harping too much on the art of catching lately, but the concept of “framing” is one of those universally taught, yet completely illogical, baseball skills that needs to called out and buried. (That “thump” was the sound of me hopping off the soap box.)

Ryan Church remains red-hot, against righties and lefties. He must like the month of April, because he started out similarly last season.

A little strange to see Gary Sheffield, instead of Ramon Castro, come in to pinch-hit for Brian Schneider. Seems like a waste to burn two players in one shot like that, especially in a close game where you might be going into extra innings.

Sean Green appeared in yet another ballgame. For those unaware, Green pitched very well for Seattle for the first half of 2008, then had a poor second half, and most people felt it was because of overuse. His arm action and mechanics certainly do not make him look durable. Green, Parnell, Feliciano, and Putz are on pace to appear in 121 games each this season.

The young Marlins look like they are finally starting to “get it”. If they can find one more solid bullpen guy — or a legit closer — they will be a serious playoff contender.

People love to bash Jorge Cantu for his poor fielding, but the guy made some really nice snares on hot smashes in the late innings. That man has no fear of the ball, that’s for certain.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Marlins do it again, serving as the opening act to Flo Rida. You won’t see the first hour of the game, but can listen to it on WFAN or XM Radio. SNY coverage begins at 7:00 PM. Livan Hernandez makes his Mets debut against Ricky Nolasco, though there’s no guarantee that either pitcher will still be in the game by the time it is broadcast on your TV set.


2009 Fantasy Projections – First Base

Kingman was doing dual position eligibility before it was fashionable

Kingman was doing dual position eligibility before it was fashionable

My name is John and I regret nothing… Except for that last burrito.

When last we met, I was telling you that Ramon Castro was worth a buck and Ronny Paulino might be working in a car wash by mid-August. Only time will tell…

First Base Rankings

If you’re not getting Pujols, try to grab Gonzalez on the cheap. I think you’ll be overpaying for Howard, Berkman and Fielder, in most cases. Let me explain…

Albert Pujols (.320-35-120) – One of the few positions where there is no doubt about who is the best offensive player.

Ryan Howard (.250-40-120) – His BA leaves alot to be desired, but I think it may be higher. You can’t argue with his HR/RBI totals.

Adrian Gonzalez (.300-30-100) – The most underrated of this bunch. His HR/RBI totals have increased each of the past 3 seasons and he has hit around .279 or above in each of those years. If he brings his Petco numbers up (only .269 last season), he could challenge Howard for the #2 spot.

Lance Berkman (.310-25-95) – I’ve been waiting for Berkman to fall off for a couple of years – his HR totals have fallen three consecutive years but he’s still a solid pick. Houston’s lineup could hold down his RBI totals

Prince Fielder (.275-28-100) – People are still drafting Fielder with hopes that he will return to the 50 HR slugger he was in 2007. I think those numbers will prove to be a statistical outlier. You can count on Fielder for something in the .280-30-100 ballpark for years to come. In future drafts, he may be a steal at those numbers, but not this season.

Sleeper – James Loney (.310-18-100) – I absolutely love watching Loney hit. I’m not sure if he’ll ever be more than a 20HR guy, but he drives the ball well into the gaps and he is only 24. The Dodgers lineup could provide plenty of RBI opportunities, depending on Manny’s willingness to play and Torre’s willingness to put Loney into the #5 hole. If it all comes together for him, this could be his breakout season.

NL East

A much better crop of players than we saw in the NL East catcher rankings… However, two of my top five guys will start the season at different positions.

Ryan Howard (.250-40-120) – See above

Adam Dunn (.240-40-100) – I expect him to gain 1B eligibility in most leagues at some point. If you need another 1B to cover for him, take a shot on a guy like James Loney or even Nick Johnson.

Carlos Delgado (.260-30-100) – People were calling for Delgado to be cut in May 2008. By the end of the year, he was on fire. He’s still got some pop, but he’s old and he has lost batspeed. He could end up outperforming Ryan Howard or falling out of the top 5 in the NL East… I think his HR/RBI numbers will be fine, somewhere between ’07 and ’08. Get him if he falls on draft day.

Jorge Cantu (.275-25-90) – Another guy who should wind up playing 1B before too long. I’m not sold on him repeating last season’s numbers – and those numbers don’t make him a good choice at 1B, but if you get him late he could end up being a nice reserve player with dual position eligibility.

Sleeper: Nick Johnson (.280-10-65) – If Johnson stays healthy (unlikely), he could have a nice season, but he’s hardly worth considering in anything other than a deep NL-only league. He plays the game the right way and that should count for something, but it doesn’t. Oh well.