Tag: albert pujols

One Reason Not to Root for Jose Reyes in Batting Title Race

Let’s get one thing crystal-clear: Jose Reyes is one of my favorite MLB players. There are few other current MLBers who I would prefer to watch if given the choice. That said, I’m thrilled he has a chance to become the first-ever New York Met to win a National League batting title — he’s currently hitting .331 to league-leader Ryan Braun’s .333, and anything can happen in the final three games of the year.

However, there is one situation where I am rooting against Reyes in this race:


Mets Game 154: Loss to Cardinals

Cardinals 11 Mets 6

If this were 1960, the season would now be over. Unfortunately for Mets fans suffering through a meaningless September, there are still 8 more games to go.

This was really MUCH closer than the final score indicates. And I know I’ve typewritten these exact words several times this year, but trust me — it was really and truly a close game, for most of the contest.


The Cardinals Don’t Need Pujols

My ESPN SweetSpot buddy in St. Louis — Matthew Philip of Fungoes — cracks out the calculator to prove that the Cardinals don’t need Albert Pujols to win. Matthew may win the battle on this one, but will he win the WAR?

Another SweetSpotter, Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley, is running team-by-team previews with other NL East bloggers. So far there have been previews on the Braves, Nationals, and Mets. That guy he interviewed for the Mets sounded pessimistic.

Bernie Madoff speaks from behind bars through the mouthpiece of The New York Times. Madoff claims that the faceless, nameless administrators and bureaucrats of banks “had to know” that his investments were a fraud — but insisted that his best friends since childhood (Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz, et al) “knew nothing”. We’re supposed to believe this?

In a refreshingly welcome escape from the morbid reality surrounding the Mets right now, Matthew Callan is going through his old This Week in Baseball videotapes at Amazin’ Avenue. The latest episode of TWIB he remembers is the 1988 spring training preview. How about that!

Are there still players available who can help the Mets? Kerel Cooper shares his thoughts on the remaining free agents over at OnTheBlack.


Who’s Next for DL, Albert Pujols and PEDs

MetsmerizedOnline hears from scouts around the league that Francisco Rodriguez could be the latest Met hiding an injury. The same article also displays some frighteningly awful numbers from K-Rod since the All-Star break.

Also on MMO, Joe D wonders if the Mets were duped in the Billy Wagner deal — and predicts dark days ahead.

Andy Martino of the Philadelphia Inquirer says we still don’t know if MLB players are clean — and invokes the name of Albert Pujols.

In somewhat related news, the courts have decided that federal agents were wrong to seize the infamous drug list and samples of 104 Major League Baseball players who allegedly tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003. Hard to take a stance on this one. On the one hand, the players’ rights of privacy were infringed upon. On the other hand, the wrongly-obtained evidence did show that many broke the law by taking illegal drugs and drugs without a prescription. As a result of this decision, Barry Bonds remains “innocent” and Victor Conte looks like a whistleblowing civil rights activist, rather than the fly-by-night drug-peddling shyster depicted by Game of Shadows. It’s up to you to decide who’s right and who’s wrong.

Back to the Mets, Metsgrrrl Caryn Rose has a primer for the team on how to be more fan-friendly.


Mets Game 106: Loss to Cardinals

Cardinals 12 Mets 7

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse …

Thanks to Iron Mike, the Mets were able to touch the previously untouchable Joel Pineiro for 7 runs on 11 hits in only five frames. Combine that with the fact they had ace Johan Santana on the mound, and you would think this game would be a slam-dunk.

You know how ugly a missed dunk is?

Santana was not his vintage self, but appeared to have pitched just well enough to win. Backed by the offense’s seven-run outburst (two of which he drove in himself), Johan allowed five runs on nine hits in eight innings, and exited with a two-run lead in the hands of fellow Venezuelan Francisco Rodriguez.

However, Frankie shat the bed, giving up back-to-back doubles to Rick Ankiel and Julio Lugo to start the ninth. He struck out pinch-hitter Colby Rasmus, but engaged in a 7-pitch battle royale with the next hitter, Skip Schumaker. Unfortunately for the Mets, Schumaker ended the at-bat with a single to score Lugo and tie up the game. Just like that, Santana had a no-decision and K-Rod his fourth blown save.

The Mets mounted a mild two-out rally in the bottom of the ninth but it petered out when Dan Murphy fanned. The Cards loaded the bases in the top of the tenth and were given the go-ahead run when Sean Green’s first pitch plunked Mark DeRosa. Green’s fifth pitch — an 0-2 slider — was deposited into the seats by Sir Albert Pujols, completing the Cards’ eight-run blitzkrieg over the final three innings.

Green’s HBP scored a runner initially put on base by Pedro Feliciano, so Feliciano was tagged with the loss — his fourth of the year.


To add injury to insult, Luis Castillo slipped on his way down the dugout steps and sprained his ankle after grounding out in the seventh. He’ll likely miss a few games as a result. Shame, considering how well Castillo has been playing of late.

Have to wonder why Brian Stokes threw only one pitch in the tenth. Jerry Manuel chose to play the Matchup Game one day after the bullpen was severely stretched, using Stokes, Feliciano, and Green. What exactly was the plan if the game went 11 or 12 frames? I suppose we would have seen Nelson Figueroa at some point.

K-Rod seemed to be having trouble with his release point, as he left many of his breaking pitches up in the strike zone — he wasn’t “finishing” his pitches, releasing just a hair too early. He threw a season-high 41 pitches, so with Wednesday’s game beginning in the early afternoon, you can forget about his availability. Additionally, Feliciano has thrown 40 pitches over the past 5 days, and 79 over the last 9. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but remember he’s warming up in the bullpen before coming into these games, so add in another 15-20 pitches at minimum per day.

In all honesty, I felt a slight pang of concern when Manuel pinch-hit for Santana in the bottom of the 8th. I know he was having a rough night, and had thrown 103 pitches, but there was this thought in my head suggesting that the best plan was to leave Johan in there. Naturally, if he was left in and the Mets lost as a result, I’d be raking Manuel over the coals for making such a boneheaded decision. Maybe the problem is that I’ve been trained to expect the worst from this ballclub.

Pujols, who had been “slumping” recently (1 for his last 13 coming into the game), was 4-for-5 with 2 HRs, 3 runs scored, and 5 RBI. Hate to think what might’ve happened if he were on a hot streak.

Next Mets Game

The final game of the series occurs at 12:10 PM on Wednesday afternoon. Jonathan Niese faces Kyle Lohse.


Mets Game 68: Win Over Cardinals

Mets 6 Cardinals 4

Miracles DO happen.

Fresh off the news that yet another All-Star and “core” player — Carlos Beltran — was unavailable due to injury, the bedgraggled and beleaguered New York Mets pulled off the impossible, beating the St. Louis Cardinals in an official Major League Baseball game.

Tim Redding was spectacular — OK, maybe not spectacular, but so surprisingly effective it felt spectacular — in holding the Cards to a mere four runs over seven full innings of work to earn his first victory as a New York Met. Key to Redding’s performance was his handcuffing of Sir Albert Pujols, holding the Great One to a mere double and one measly run scored. If you can stymie Pujols, then the rest of the Redbird lineup is cake in comparison. Indeed, Redding allowed a total of five hits and one walk to the Cardinals, and struck out four.

Meanwhile, the supposedly shorthanded Mets offense exploded for 14 hits, 4 walks, and 6 runs, led by teacher’s pet Omir Santos and the previously contemptible Luis Castillo, who were perfect on the day, combining to go 7-for-7 with a walk, 3 runs scored, and 2 RBI. Five Mets drove in a run or more, and Danny Murphy electrified the crowd with one of those “over the fence” hits that fans in other cities refer to as a “home run”.

Supporting Redding’s winning performance was the bullpen, which held the St. Louis batsmen scoreless through the final three innings of play. Jon Switzer struck out one and allowed a hit in his 1/3 inning of work, Brian Stokes (yes he’s still on the roster) retired the only batter he faced, and Francisco Rodriguez cut up the Cards in the ninth for his 19th save of the season.


Alex Cora was 2-for-4 with a walk and 2 RBI from the leadoff spot, and David Wright had one single and two walks. In addition to the four-bagger, Murphy also singled and scored on a Ryan Church sacrifice fly in the first frame.

Jeremy Reed was 0-for-4 starting in centerfield in place of Beltran. Wouldn’t it just figure, the guy was a firestorm in spring training, hot as a griddle through April and May, and now that he finally has been forced into an opportunity to play, his bat is cold as ice. More bad luck for the Mets, and terrible luck for Reed. Expect to see Ryan Church and/or Fernando Martinez getting time in centerfield as a result.

In the fourth inning, Santos scored on a bomb to left-center by Luis Castillo. On the relay home, Brendan Ryan threw a perfect strike to catcher Yadier Molina, but the throw was a few feet short of Molina, who allowed the ball to skip through his legs. Ryan was charged with the error and SNY announcer Keith Hernandez spent considerable time criticizing Ryan for having his back to the plate as he received the relay throw from left fielder Rick Ankiel, going so far as to demonstrate from the broadcast booth the proper way to position oneself for accepting the throw from the outfield. However, Hernandez failed to notice, nor mention, the reason WHY Ryan had his back to the plate when he caught the ball — it was because the throw by Ankiel sailed to Ryan’s right side, and Ryan had to quickly re-position his feet and move his entire body to the right in order to catch the throw cleanly. Originally, Ryan was getting himself into the proper position (left shoulder pointed toward the target) but once the ball tailed the “wrong” way, he had no choice but to turn his back to home plate. What made Keith’s diatribe even more ridiculously pointless was the fact that Ryan made a nearly perfect throw. Despite being completely turned around, with his back to the plate, Ryan spun and let loose a fine throw that was perfectly on line, and only about 5-10 feet short of home plate. Watching the replay several times, it looked to me like Molina was at fault for not handling the short-hop — he allowed the ball to handcuff him by reaching out and stabbing for it instead of allowing it to come to him. And, in defense of both Ankiel and Ryan, the conditions were rainy and wet, and the ball was likely slick, making it very hard to get a good grip and probably the reason Ankiel’s throw was to Ryan’s right side instead of his left. For all you kids out there, yes, Mr. Hernandez did demonstrate the proper fundamental in receiving a relay throw — but understand that circumstances can sometimes force you out of the ideal position, in which case you have to “get creative”.

Next Mets Game

The Mets will attempt to again attain the impossible on Tuesday night when they host the Cardinals at Citi Field at 7:10 PM. Livan Hernandez faces Joel Pineiro.


Mets Series Preview: Cardinals

st. louis cardinals baseball logoThe New York Mets visit St. Louis for the first time in 2009 to play the Cardinals in a three-game series.

Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Oliver Perez vs. Todd Wellemeyer

Which Ollie will show — Dr. Perez or Mr. Hyde? Nobody knows. Wellemeyer is a prime example of why Dave Duncan cannot be paid enough to be an MLB pitching coach.

Game 2: John Maine vs. Joel Pineiro

Will John Maine ever get past the fifth inning? Pineiro, another scrap heap success story for Duncan’s resume, has a perfect 2-0 record but a 5.40 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP thus far. Last year, the Mets battered him for 21 hits, 2 homers, and 9 runs in 9 innings, so perhaps this can be the game in which they finally send some runners home.

Game 3: Livan Hernandez vs. Kyle Lohse

This is a day game, 1:40 PM start. Before the season, I predicted Livan would be the Mets’ third-best starter before it was all said and done. He’s currently #2, which is as much a credit to Hernandez as it is due to the erratic performances of the other Mets starters. Lohse is off to a hot start, with two wins and a 2.57 ERA. Lohse was 1-1 vs. the Mets last season.

Offensive Concerns

The Mets are hitting .236 with RISP, with David Wright going 2-for-13 by himself. Wright, however, is 5-for-7 lifetime against Wellemeyer, and could shake his slump in the opener. Luis Castillo is currently leading the Mets with a .389 AVG while Ryan Church leads the team with 6 doubles, a .477 OBP, and a 1.018 OPS.

The Cardinals still have Albert Pujols, and surround him with a fairly balanced attack of LH and RH hitters. Ryan Ludwick is so far showing that 2008 was not a fluke, leading the Cardinals in the three major offensive categories. He’s batting .405 with 5 HR and 15 RBI through 10 games. However, another player to watch is 3B fill-in Brian Barden, who has slugged 3 dingers and 19 total bases in 22 ABs and is hitting .409.


Hard to say which way this series will go. Much depends on the efforts of Perez and Maine, who have become the poster children for inconsistency.