Tag: red sox

Mets Game 42: Win Over Red Sox

Mets 3 Red Sox 2

This was a game the Mets shouldn’t have won, and they by unexpected means with the involvement of unlikely men.

Mike Pelfrey pitched a brilliant ballgame, allowing just two runs on six hits in seven innings, but Josh Beckett was just a bit better, allowing one run on five hits in eight frames. It appeared that the Bosox were to deliver a heartbreaker as Jonathan Papelbon stepped on the mound to face the second half of the Mets lineup.

Things looked even bleaker after Papelbon struck out David Wright and Jeremy Reed. Down by a run with two outs and Omir Santos at the plate, many Mets fans likely turned off the TV.

But this Fenway Park, where anything can happen, at any time. Just ask Russell “Bucky” Dent.

Santos lashed a Papelbon pitch over the Green Monster, scoring Gary Sheffield from first and giving the Mets a one-run lead. Now all the Mets had to do was send out K-Rod to seal the victory, right?

Instead, J.J. Putz took the mound in the bottom of the ninth, and despite walking leadoff batter Kevin Youkilis, managed to earn his second save of the season — but not before getting some help from Ramon Martinez, who made a diving snare of a Mike Lowell ground ball and threw a one-hopper to Danny Murphy to end the game.

Notes

Nothing for me to add. Either you saw the game or you didn’t. Mets won the series, regardless of what happens today. I think it’s clear: the Mets and Oliver Perez have quite a bit in common, in that we’ll never know which one (good Mets / bad Mets) will show up on a particular day.

Comment away.

Next Mets Game

The series finale begins at 1:35 PM on Sunday afternoon. Tim Redding pitches against Tim Wakefield.

READ MORE +

Mets Game 41: Win Over Red Sox

Mets 5 Red Sox 3

For the first time in five tries, the Mets won a ballgame.

Ace Johan Santana gave the Mets seven strong innings, allowing only three hits, and the offense gave him sufficient support for the second time in as many starts.

This is why the Mets broke the bank to pay for a “stopper” last February.

Offensively, it was a team effort, with runs driven in by Angel Pagan, Gary Sheffield, David Wright, Omir Santos, and, unbelievably, Ramon Martinez.

Francisco Rodriguez came on in the ninth to earn his 12th save in a dozen tries.

Notes

Sheffield’s RBI was the Mets’ first homerun since May 13. Sheffield also hit the Mets last homerun.

The home plate umpire had a huge strike zone, for both sides.

The Mets made three errors behind Santana — two were by Ramon Martinez.

In the fifth inning, Angel Pagan sacrificed Danny Murphy to second, and Murphy inexplicably tried to continue on to third base. First baseman Kevin Youkilis TOOK HIS TIME throwing the ball across the diamond and still pegged Murphy by ten feet. Apparently, hitting in the leadoff spot confused Daniel into thinking he has Reyes-like running speed.

In the sixth inning, Santana plugged Youkilis with a fastball on the middle part of the plate. Youkilis crowds the plate and had he not been hit by the pitch, it might’ve been a strike. In any case, Youkilis took his time walking to first and Santana told him (in so many words) to move his keister. The two exchanged words but nothing came of it.

Several times during the broadcast, Ron Darling pointed out Dice-K’s “gyro ball”. Just for the record, the “gyro ball” is a myth, and Matsuzaka himself denied that he threw such a pitch several years ago. Here in the USA, we call that particular pitch a “hanging slider”.

Speaking of Matsuzaka, I was extremely pleased to see him leave the game after the fifth. His methodical rhythm and laborious attempt to make batters swing and miss at every single pitch drive me crazy. It’s like watching Steve Trachsel all over again — except, Trax rarely caused hitters to miss.

Bobby “Don’t Call Me Mel” Parnell was clocked at 100 MPH on the SNY radar gun for one pitch against J.D. Drew. Where did that come from? Parnell threw a perfect 8th frame to set up the save for K-Rod.

K-Rod was clocked at 95, which is a speed he hadn’t reached earlier. I wonder if the gun was on the fast side, or if the pitchers were emotionally hopped up for the ballgame.

Gary Sheffield did a pretty nice job dealing with the Green Monster in left field. Originally slated to be the DH, he went to left and Jeremy Reed to center so that Carlos Beltran, who is suffering from a sore knee, could be the designated hitter.

Reed didn’t have too many chances in center, but he made a fantastic running catch in the ninth on a Jason Varitek line drive, jumping at the last moment and slamming into the outfield wall with an impressive “thud”.

Ryan Church left the game early with a sore right hamstring. The infirmary is getting crowded.

Julio Lugo reminds me of those logic / IQ test questions … you know, “which of these does not belong?” Can’t put my finger on it, but he just doesn’t “fit” into the mold that all the other Red Sox players seem to be cut from.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Red Sox do it again in Fenway on Saturday at 7:10 PM. Mike Pelfrey goes to the hill against Josh Beckett.

READ MORE +

Bosox to Sign Baldelli – Smoltz Next?

According to various sources, the Boston Red Sox are about to sign Rocco Baldelli.

The free-agent outfielder grew up in the New England area as a Red Sox fan, and, ironically, will be receiving the Tony Conigliaro Award in Boston on Thursday. What a convenient coincidence, as many guess that the Bosox will announce the signing either at the event — which annually honors an MLBer who “best overcomes an obstacle and adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage that were trademarks of Conigliaro”. Conigliaro was an up and coming star for the Red Sox in the late 1960s, before a beanball to his face curtailed his career.

Baldelli, who had been misdiagnosed with mitichondrial disorder, has been re-diagnosed with channelopathy, which is much less severe and more manageable. All in all, a great deal for the Red Sox, who get a naturally gifted and talented young outfielder about to enter his prime years. Though the Mets desperately need a solid righthanded-hitting corner outfielder, Baldelli’s name was never whispered from the Flushing camp. Just as well, as it’s doubtful Baldelli would have turned down a chance to “go home” to Boston anyway.

In other news, the Red Sox are also on the verge of signing former Brave John Smoltz, who is recovering from shoulder surgery and won’t be able to pitch until at least June. The contract is in the neighborhood of $5.5M, with incentives that could push the deal to $10M.

Despite the fact the Mets have only two healthy MLB starting pitchers in their projected 2009 rotation, there was not much interest in Smoltz, likely due to his questionable health. Still, it wouldn’t have bothered me in the least if the Mets had taken a chance on him.

READ MORE +

Red Sox Pick Up Penny

The Boston Red Sox have signed Brad Penny to a one-year, $5M contract, which can reach $8M through incentives.

Nice pickup by the Bosox, and a good fit for the somewhat troubled righthander. Penny has the potential to be a dominating starter with ace-like stuff, but his injury-riddled and underperforming 2008, lackluster work ethic, and abrasive personality make him a question mark. Since Boston needs him only to fill out the back end of the rotation, and have Justin Masterson as a backup, it’s an ideal low-risk, high-reward gamble for them. From Penny’s perspective, he has an opportunity to rejuvenate his career, and position himself for a ridiculous contract next winter — all he has to do is win 14-20 games in the beastly AL East.

I don’t believe the Mets were ever rumored to be interested in Penny, which is slightly disappointing. Those who only saw Penny against the Mets probably came away unimpressed, as Penny struggled mightily against the orange and blue, particularly at Shea. However, when healthy, he’s the righthanded version of Oliver Perez — some days he looks unhittable, other days he can’t get out of the fourth inning. On a one-year, $5M deal, I would have hoped the Mets at least kicked the tires on him — even though I hate him almost as much as Scott Olsen. At the end of the day, though, he doesn’t seem to have the type of personality that can handle New York. That said, it will be interesting to see how he fares in Boston, whose media and fan base can be just as, if not more, demanding than NYC.

READ MORE +

Yanks Steal Cash, Nats Snatch Gustavos

The Yankees have taken Cash directly from the Red Sox — Kevin Cash, that is. Fitting? Ironic? You make the call. In any case, yes, it’s true, the Yanks have signed backup catcher Kevin Cash.

Speaking of swiping backup backstops, the Washington Nationals signed Gustavo Molina — formerly of the New York Mets. Wait till they find out — as the Mets did — that Gustavo is NOT one of the “Molina catching brothers”, despite being named Molina, and despite being a catcher.

Further intriguing, the Nats also signed pitcher Gustavo Chacin. They now lead all of MLB in Gustavos. Meantime, the Mets no longer lead the league in Reyeses … Argenis has been released and Al is expected to sign elsewhere.

READ MORE +

Buy Me To the Moon

With the recent signing of Mark Teixeira for $180M over 8 years, the New York Yankees have spent a total of $423.5M on three free agents this winter.

Add in the $248M still owed on Alex Rodriguez’s contract, and the Bronx Bombers have committed over a half-billion dollars ($671.5M to be exact) to three ballplayers over the next eight years.

If that’s not an attempt to buy a World Series Trophy, I don’t know what is.

Based on this winter’s signings, the Steinbrenners clearly did not have any investments with Bernard Madoff (unlike another baseball team father-son ownership based in New York City … though, we’re assured that little financial scandal won’t affect their organization in any way).

The immediate reaction by 99% of people is that this enormous outlay of cash by the Yankees is despicable, unfair, and/or “exactly what’s wrong with baseball”.

Hmm ….

On the one hand, it’s slightly upsetting that Teixeira did not choose to join his hometown Baltimore Orioles, who have some bright young arms, athletic outfielders, and a future superstar catcher on their horizon. Adding a solid All-Star bat like Teixeira might have been the last piece of the puzzle to push them into contention at some point within the next 2-3 years. Already the toughest division in baseball, the AL East would have been even more competitive if the O’s joined the ranks of the elite.

But now, it’s a three-team race among the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays — who have to prove 2008 wasn’t a Cinderella season. No matter how much the Blue Jays and Orioles improve, it’s doubtful they’ll sniff the postseason before 2012. Though, you never know.

Does that make the Yankees a big bully? Is their spending this winter as obnoxious as everyone says — particularly in this difficult economy? Are the Yankees singlehandedly “ruining baseball” ?

No, no, and no. And no to any other such nonsense.

First off, the Yankees had over $80M come off their 2008 budget thanks to the expiring contracts of Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, Carl Pavano, and Kyle Farnsworth (yes, I know Farnsworth was traded, but it was nonetheless another $5.5M off the books). With all that coming off, it’s entirely possible that the Yankees’ 2009 budget will be BELOW their 2008 spending even with the additions of Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett. Heck, they may still have room to sign Manny Ramirez. Yes, their payroll is still going to be a good $70M or $80M more than the next-highest spenders, but they’re not going above and beyond what they’ve been doing since 2003. And guess what? Despite spending more than any other team for the last five years, the Yankees have yet to make a World Series appearance. Huh.

Secondly, while every other team in baseball is crying about the economy, claiming they can’t afford to pay for free agents — and in many cases, laying off non-player personnel — the Yankees are HIRING. If the Steinbrenners follow up these big free agent signings with an announcement that they’re cutting their administrative staff or stadium maintenance people, then something stinks. But that doesn’t appear to be the case. In these tough times, I openly applaud business owners like the Steinbrenners, who instead of laying off people for fear what the future might bring, are instead investing in their future and seeking to improve and grow their product.

Obviously, the Yankees can afford to pay all these ridiculous salaries — they must be doing well. Would you prefer that they sat on their money, or hid it somewhere, rather than doling it out? Consider this: with the signings of three All-Stars, how many Teixeira, Sabathia, and Burnett Yankee jerseys and T-shirts will be sold? How many more baseball gloves with those players’ “autographs” on them will leave the shelves? How much money will Teixeira, Sabathia, and Burnett themselves spend, now that they’re ultra-millionaires? My guess is all three will put at least some of their earnings back into the economy, as well as into charitable foundations. Spending money in these tough times shouldn’t be frowned upon — it should be embraced and encouraged. Somehow, it all trickles down, eventually.

Finally, it is not the Yankees “ruining the game” by spending boatloads of money. If anyone is “ruining” baseball, it’s the San Diego Padres, who are dismantling their team piece by piece because their owners are in the midst of a divorce. To me, it is vastly more despicable for a teams like the Padres and Marlins to run “fire sales” in an effort to reduce payroll — and in effect, put a minor league team on the field. I understand that small market teams can’t compete, financially, with the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, etc. But if they can’t figure out a way to generate the minimum $40-60M to cover a Major League payroll, then either find a new management team, sell the club, or go to the minors — in my opinion there are too many MLB teams anyway.

Which brings me to another point that isn’t related to the Yankees, but with MLB in general. We’ve heard that the Diamondbacks and Blue Jays have been “forced” to lay off administrative personnel during this offseason. It’s also been reported that MLB had to cut their staff significantly, specifically in their MLB Advanced Media / website department. Can someone please explain to me how and why there are teams and MLB itself cutting staff when they made more money in the last five years than they ever have in history?

It was widely reported last winter that MLB.com paid out $30M to each club, after it generated nearly $400M in revenues. MLB Advanced Media’s growth has been fast and furious, and I find it VERY hard to believe that revenues were down in 2008 — if they were, they couldn’t be down by much. MLB.com’s user base, paid subscriptions, and traffic all went up. In addition, it was also widely reported that MLB as a whole made over six billion dollars in 2007 — an all-time high — and set attendance records. Following that momentum, several teams during the 2008 season set records again for attendance and ticket sales (including our New York Mets). So for the last two or three years, baseball has been absolutely booming, bringing in money faster than they count it — yet, teams (other than the Yankees) are crying poverty and adding to the unemployment rate. Is it me, or is something rotten in Denmark?

Perhaps I’m in the minority, but the money being thrown around by the Yankees is, to me, refreshing. At least there is one team doing well enough to feel they can put their profits back into the company, with an eye toward improvement and long-term growth.

Happy holidays.

READ MORE +

Mets Moving Past Lowe?

According to John Harper of the Daily News, the Mets did not expect there to be so much demand for Derek Lowe, and that they’re moving on to cheaper options. From the article:

The Mets aren’t conceding anything yet, but privately they admit they didn’t expect Lowe to be in such high demand, and they worry that with the Yankees and Red Sox in the hunt, they may have to lower their sights for a starting pitcher.

Huh. First of all, how could the Mets underestimate the value of a veteran sinkerballer who hasn’t missed a start in seven years, and won 106 games during that span? Further, how could they think Lowe wouldn’t be heavily courted, considering that 29 MLB teams can’t afford C.C. Sabathia? Unlike A.J. Burnett and Ben Sheets, Lowe is a sure thing. He may be older than those two oft-injured fireballers, but not by much. People tend to forget that Burnett will be 32 next year, and Sheets is entering his thirties. Further, in the combined 18 years of MLB between Burnett and Sheets, you can only find one season of more than 13 wins. In contrast, Lowe has AVERAGED 15 wins per season since he became a full-time starter.

I find it hard to believe that the Mets have been blindsided by the demand for Lowe. What’s more believable is that they’re not comfortable offering Lowe — nor any other pitcher — more than three years. This would be an acceptable stance if the Mets were gushing with near-ready pitching prospects in their farm system. Unfortunately, after Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell, they don’t have anyone who projects to be better than a fourth or fifth starter within the next three years. That’s a fact. And there are enough scouts who aren’t sold on Niese and Parnell, either. So the Mets won’t be able to fill their rotation needs from within the organization for at least a few years. Further, the 2010 free agent class is filled with injury-prone starters (Rich Harden, Jason Schmidt, Mark Mulder, Eric Bedard), with the top starters being John Lackey and Brett Myers. Looking ahead a year, Lackey might command a 5-year, $80M contract. Will the Mets pay that premium?

Harper also suggests that it would take Ryan Church to pry away Edwin Jackson from the Rays — I agree. It makes me laugh when people suggest that the Mets can get one of the Rays’ young starters in return for Aaron Heilman. Sure, Jackson has been inconsistent and Andy Sonnanstine appears to have ordinary stuff, but they both won 13+ games in the AL East and are only 25 years old. You don’t get talent like that in return for a 30-year-old middle reliever with a 5+ ERA. More to the point, the Rays don’t need arms, they need bats. They have a sudden surplus of pitching, and are looking to deal from that strength to find a corner outfielder with some pop.

If in fact the Red Sox or Yankees (or some other team) sign Lowe, the Mets may have to go the trade route to fill their starting rotation. If the price is too high or too risky for Lowe, then the cost for A.J. Burnett has to be way out of the Mets’ league. From all reports, there’s no interest in getting into the Sabathia bidding, and I don’t see the Mets going after Sheets, who at this point is riskier than Burnett. The next-best starter available is Jon Garland, who despite a high win total gets hit hard — opposing batters hit .303 against him last year — and probably isn’t worth the many millions he’ll get on the open market. After Garland, the quality drops off significantly — the next tier is Braden Looper, Randy Wolf, and Livan Hernandez.

Oh, and of course there is Oliver Perez — who is starting to look a lot more appealing than when the offseason began.

READ MORE +

Buzz Around Burnett

The Yankees, Red Sox, Braves, Phillies, Orioles, and Blue Jays are all in pursuit of A.J. Burnett, according to various sources.

Supposedly, the Yankees are going after Burnett fairly hard, and would like to sign both him and C.C. Sabathia this winter — and may also extend an offer to Derek Lowe. I for one wouldn’t put it past the Bronx Bombers from signing all three of the top starting pitchers available on the free agent market. They can certainly afford it.

Buster Olney believes a guaranteed fifth year will seal the deal for Burnett. Ken Rosenthal thinks the Red Sox are interested, perhaps to keep him from pitching against them.

I’m not sure any team will give Burnett five years, based on his injury history. As for Boston’s interest, that may have waned since this morning’s trade of Coco Crisp for Ramiro Ramirez. Obtaining Ramirez means they can move Justin Masterson to the rotation. The Bosox already have four strong starters returning in Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, and Tim Wakefield, in addition to youngster Clay Buchholz. Of course, a team can never have enough pitching, so perhaps they will be after a free agent starter such as Burnett or Derek Lowe, who reportedly would like very much to return to Boston. Further, one of those returning arms could be used as trade bait — such as in a deal to the Rangers for Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

The Cubs’ retention of Ryan Dempster suggests that they will be less active in their pursuit of a big-name starter — and increases the demand for Burnett and the other starters still available.

Where do the Mets fit in on all this?

So far, no buzz has suggested interest in Burnett by the Mets, probably due to his injuries and possibly also the fact that until 2008, he was a .500 pitcher. Fishy, isn’t it, A.J.’s best season came in a walk year?

READ MORE +