Tag: twins

Difference Between Mets and Champions

After 162 Mets games, I forgot how much fun it was to watch good, hard-played, exciting baseball games. Right there, one of the key differences between the Mets of 2007-2009 and championship teams.

Not yet a week into the postseason, and we’ve already seen “championship baseball” at its best. How many times in the past three years have we seen similar passion and tenacity from the Flushing Futiles, as we’ve witnessed from the Twins and Dodgers? Even in losing, the Tigers put out a tremendous effort in what may go down as one of the most exciting one-game playoffs of all-time. Sure, you can say these teams are playing at a notch above because it’s the postseason — but are they “dialing it up” from their usual 9 to 10 or are they usually at 10 and breaking the knob to find 11?

Some other differences noted while watching these championship clubs:


John Lackey is the pitcher the Mets keep waiting for John Maine to be — not in terms of style, but in performance / results. In other words, the 7-8 inning pitcher, with occasional spurts of greatness, but otherwise a very solid #2 starter.

The difference between Lackey and Maine: Lackey has very simple, efficient, squared-up mechanics that keep him on a straight line from the rubber toward home plate, which are the foundation to strong command of all pitches. As a result Lackey can hit spots all over the strike zone with all of his pitches. In contrast, Maine’s mechanics cause him to constantly be fighting himself and his “natural”, narrow location of up and in the righthander / up and away from the lefty.

Lackey leads an Angel rotation that has Scott Kazmir and 16-win Joe Saunders rounding out the back end. Compare those two at the end to anyone after Johan Santana on the Mets’ starting staff.

The bullpens of nearly all the postseason teams are equally impressive. Consider that the Red Sox have at least four men in the ‘pen not named Papelbon who would be closing for at least a dozen MLB teams. The Yankees have so much pitching depth that they don’t really need Joba Chamberlain. The Phillies may have an issue with Brad Lidge as a closer but their depth is such that it’s hard to find postseason innings for Pedro Martinez, Joe Blanton, and Brett Myers.

Lineups and Hitting

The Red Sox had JD Drew batting eighth and Alex Gonzalez ninth. The Yankees had Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher in the same spots. The Cardinals had Mark DeRosa 7th and Colby Rasmus 8th. Think about that. Any of those hitters would be batting cleanup for the Mets. That’s the difference between the Mets and a playoff team’s lineup.

Free Agent Signings

Bobby Abreu had some kind of year, huh? A .390 OBP, .293 AVG, 103 RBI, 30 SBs. This is the same guy who was practically begging the Mets for a contract. But the Mets were “set” in the outfield — they had Dan Murphy, Ryan Church, and Fernando Tatis. It was ironic that the Angels had a much deeper surplus of OFs than the Mets (Gary Mathews Jr., Reggie Willits, and Juan Rivera were all presumably fighting for one corner spot), yet they signed Abreu anyway — his bargain price of $5M was too good to pass up (rumor at the time was the Mets could’ve had him for $4M).

Managerial Boldness

Joe Torre has benched All-Star, Gold-Glove second baseman Orlando Hudson in favor of Ronny Belliard — mainly because Belliard is hot and Hudson is not. Can you see a Mets manager pulling a similar move in the playoffs? For example, if Jose Reyes were hitting .200 going into a playoff series, do you think Jerry Manuel would dare sit him in favor of a shortstop who was on a hot streak?


Watching these games a Mets fan, it’s hard not to think about your team and compare / contrast it to the teams still playing. There’s another big difference I’ll detail in a future post.


Twins Win !

gomez-keppelFor the first time since I can remember, I enjoyed watching a baseball game on TV that included color commentary by Ron Darling.

Congrats to the Twins for winning the AL Central, and thanks to both the Twins and the Tigers for treating America to an event that defined the beauty of baseball.

Mets fans may note that Carlos Gomez scored the winning run — you can see him in the picture to the left, being congratulated by the winning pitcher Bobby Keppel.

How ironic (fitting?) that both players began their careers in the New York Mets organization!


Where They Are Now: Philip Humber

A little over a year ago, former #1 pick and Rice alum Philip Humber was one of the crown jewels of the Mets’ farm system and a key component in the trade that brought Johan Santana to the Mets. Today, he finds himself on the junk pile.

Humber, who barely made the Minnesota Twins out of spring training, was DFA’d the other day to make room for fireballer Juan Morillo.

Aaron Gleeman put it best:

… many Twins fans have simply assumed that Humber is a good prospect because he was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2004 draft after a brilliant college career and once received a ton of hype coming up through the Mets system. However, his stuff hasn’t been the same since undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery in July of 2005 and little in Humber’s post-surgery performance suggests that he’s capable of becoming more than a fifth starter or long reliever.

Humber certainly still has some value and keeping him around to soak up low-leverage relief innings and perhaps make a spot start or two would have been just fine, but the payoff is minimal given that he’s already 26 years old and the Twins develop pitchers in such a way that they will rarely be lacking in back-of-the-rotation starters or long relievers.

Personally, I’m a big fan of Humber, and hope he can one day make it back to the bigs.


Why is Casey Blake NOT on the Radar?

According to various sources, the Minnesota Twins are ready to make an offer to Casey Blake, a free-agent infielder / outfielder whom Joe Torre credited on many occasions as being nearly as important to the Dodgers’ entrance into the postseason as Manny Ramirez.

The question is, where are the Mets on Blake and why does it appear they have no interest whatsoever?

Supposedly, the Mets are looking to change / improve their clubhouse, and looking to add more “gamers”. There aren’t too many available, and Blake is one of the few to be had. He is a winner and supposedly a great clubhouse guy with leadership qualities. Further, Blake is a righthanded-hitting slugger who hits well in the clutch (.310 with RISP) and can play a variety of positions — 1B, 3B, and OF. Doesn’t Blake fit the description of exactly what what the Mets needl?

Apparently not, since there hasn’t been an inkling of buzz from Flushing.

Now, I don’t think Blake is worth the 3-year deal he’s seeking, but two years is not out of the question. This is a guy who has hit in the neighborhood of .280 / 20 HR / 80 RBI for the last five years, and can play both corner outfield spots and first base. With Fernando Martinez on the horizon, the Mets aren’t looking for a long-term, full-time outfielder. Blake is an ideal player to keep LF warm for F-Mart, and/or platoon with Ryan Church, Dan Murphy, and Carlos Delgado, while also giving David Wright a breather now and then. In other words, another Fernando Tatis, but with a more reliable track record. As much as I love Tatis, I’m not counting on a repeat performance of 2008. Remove July and Tatis’ 2008 season is fairly unremarkable — and about in line with what Damion Easley produced. I like the idea of Tatis taking Easley’s job as supersub / utilityman, and don’t think he’s going to provide the kind of power and run production needed from left field. Blake, on the other hand, has proven he can be a solid and productive #6 / #7, either as a part-time player or as a regular.