Archive for April, 2010

April Schmapril: Mets vs. Phillies

April 30, 2010

I know it’s only April, well almost May, and I understand there is a ton of baseball left.

But, I just don’t buy into the argument that this series doesn’t mean anything to the Phillies or the Mets.  You can’t convince me that both clubhouses aren’t full of a little extra adrenaline going into tonight’s game.

On one hand you have the Mets, who are riding high on a seven game winning streak.  They want to see if they stack up against the defending NL Champs.

On the other hand, you have the defending NL Champ, Phillies.  They have dominated this division the last three years and probably are developing a chip on their shoulder about the Mets, who are seemingly back to contend after a year long hiatus.

You will hear the obligatory comments about “It’s still early……This is just another series….There’s still a long way to go in the season”.

Don’t believe it.

You don’t become a professional baseball player without being a competitor.  Deep down in side, players on both sides are looking at this series a little bit differently.  They’re just not going to admit it to us.

Preview:

Check out Mets Paradise for a great series preview that includes the starting pitching match ups and scouting reports for each game.

Why Does Carlos Beltran Get Such A Bad Rap?

April 29, 2010

Carlos Beltran

News about Carlos Beltran’s new knee brace just adds to the confusing injury saga that leaves Mets’ fans with dozens of questions.

I spent some time today scrawling through comment sections about Carlos Beltran and I can’t help wondering, what is it about Beltran that is so polarizing?

He is an immensely talented baseball player that the Mets have invested $119 million dollars in.

Is it the large contract that some people have an issue with?

I often think that even if he averaged 35 homers, over 110 RBI, with a .300 batting average, it still wouldn’t be good enough for some.

Maybe it is his quiet demeanor.

I have watched Beltran play for the last several years and he always carries himself with a calm and almost placid look as he goes about his business.

He rarely shows emotion, whether it be with fellow team mates or towards opposing players.  I don’t think that many people can relate to that.  It is almost the complete opposite from which many chest thumping, look at me now, athletes carry themselves today.

He must not care.

Is it the grace in which he plays the game?

As a former (and very average, mind you) center fielder, I am amazed at how easy he makes the position look.  Even when he is tracking down a fly ball behind him at full speed it looks like he is almost jogging.

There are two common insults Beltran is saddled with by the public.

1.  He is soft.

Injury prone, I give you.  Soft?  I don’t think so.  Anyone that can come back and play at the level that Beltran has after the collision he had with Mike Cameron can not be labeled soft.

Beltran/Cameron Collision

2.  He is selfish.

How soon we forget.  There aren’t too many  players that would take two young players under their wings like Carlos Beltran did with David Wright and Jose Reyes.

Don’t forget about the selfish Beltran Foundation that raises money for youth in Harlem and in his home of Puerto Rico.

One of the most ludicrous complaints about Beltran’s selfishness is that he doesn’t want to come back and play for the Mets.  This point almost kills the selfish argument itself.

Why would a player coming up on a contract year not want to work to get back on the field?  Every week Beltran misses this year hurts him at the negotiating table.

I am just as frustrated as the rest of my fellow Mets fans in terms of Beltran’s injury.  It is fair to label Beltran as injury prone.  But let’s not get out of control here.  Let’s stop kicking him while he’s down.

I’m pretty sure that we are no where close to being as frustrated as Carlos Beltran.

Mets 7, Dodgers 3

April 28, 2010

There are two reasons why I am glad the Mets have tomorrow off.

1.  The bullpen can get some well deserved rest going into the series in Philly this weekend.

2.  The Mets and their fans can enjoy this seven game winning streak.

Let’s face it.  It has been a long time since we have been able to puff out our chest a little bit.  We deserve to savor it, even if it is just for a day.

Seven wins in a row.

Wow.

Game Recap

Life happened to me today, so I was unable to watch or listen to most of the game today.  Between work and the various things that needed repairing in my house, I was only able to check in from time to time.

Fortunately, there are a lot of great Mets Blogs out there that I can lean on during a day like this.

Check out my fellow Mets Bloggers for their recaps:

MetsBlog

Mets Paradise

The Real Dirty Mets Blog

The ‘Ropolitans

Here’s the skinny:

  • John Maine gave his best performance of the young season, pitching six innings with nine strikeouts.
  • Angel Pagan and Jeff Francoeur each had two RBI.
  • Ike Davis and David Wright collected two hits a piece.
  • Every position player had at least one hit with the exception of Rod Barajas.  Don’t worry, he did walk and score a run, so he was able to contribute as well.
  • The bullpen did not allow an earned run.

Outlook

The Mets head into a big series against the Phillies this weekend.  At this point in the season, I don’t think many people thought the Phillies would be looking up at the Mets in the standings.

A third series sweep would be absolutely amazing.  I would be extremely happy with just winning it.  Frankly, I wouldn’t be that upset if they lost the series.  They are on the road after all.  Let’s not even talk about a Phillies sweep.

Double Dip Turns Out To Be Pretty Sweet

April 28, 2010

David Wright

I don’t think Mets’ fans could have asked for a better result after Tuesday’s double header.  Two wins against the Dodgers, combined with a Philadelphia, loss catapults the Amazin’s into first place.

Game One (Mets 4, Dodgers 0)

Johan Santana battled the wind and pitched six innings of scoreless baseball.  The bullpen locked down the final three innings per their usual.

Offensively, we saw Jason Bay’s first home run as a Met that highlighted an eight hit day for the bats.

Game Two (Mets 10, Dodgers 5)

Bad Ollie was out for the night cap of the double header as he was unable to make it out of the fourth inning.  Perez was seemingly cruising until the wheels fell off in the fourth.  He gave up three walks in the inning including a four pitch pass  to Dodgers’ pitcher, Charlie Haeger.

Hisanori Takahashi  came in to save the day and dealt another 3.1 innings of solid relief, only allowing one run.  Mejia pitched a shutout inning and Raul Valdes gave up one run in the final inning of the game.

David Wright exploded with three hits, two of them of the opposite field variety.  He provided a two strike RBI single to put the Mets ahead 4-3.  He also drilled a three run triple to the right centerfield gap.  This hit sealed the game.

Ike Davis added his own three run double and Jason Bay added a triple as well.

Outlook

Out of nowhere, the Mets find themselves in first place.  This team is flat out dangerous when David Wright is hitting.  I don’t think it is coincidence that his breakout game occurred with opposite field hits.

I have been saying all season, that he appeared to be pressing.  Last night he took what the pitcher gave him, stayed on the ball, and had some great results.  Hopefully it can continue.

It will be interesting to see what  Jerry and Omar do with Oliver Perez if he continues to pitch this way.  We may find him in a John Maine spot, pitching to save his spot in the rotation.

Next up, the much maligned John Maine heads to the hill this afternoon to try to keep this current winning streak alive.

Mother Nature Giveth and She Taketh Away

April 26, 2010

Last night I, along with every other Met fan on the planet, couldn’t believe how perfect it was that the game was called before Jerry Manuel could dig into the bullpen.  Much needed rest for the over taxed staff.

Tonight’s rain out puts the bullpen in a precarious position.  They will have to play three games in two days.

Fortunately, Johan Santana is pitching tomorrow and the Mets have a day off on Thursday. These are good signs prior to a big weekend series with the Phillies.  You might think, all is well.

Normally, I am an optimistic person.  It would be realistic to be concerned, however.  You see, Santana will be followed by Oliver Perez and John Maine.  Two pitchers that historically have trouble getting passed the fifth inning.

Oliver Perez has shown some promising signs this season.  He owns a respectable 3.71 ERA.  Unfortunately, he is only averaging 5.67 innings per start.  This tells us that the bullpen can expect to pitch at least four innings in his start.

John Maine’s troubles have been well documented this season.  He is averaging just a tad over four innings per start.

If Perez and Maine stay true to form, even with a day off ,the Mets’ bullpen could go into this weekend’s series against the Phillies a little gassed.

This would be a great week for Ollie and Mr. Maine to go against the grain, keep their pitch counts low, and efficiently deal with the hitters they face.

Mets 1, Braves 0

April 26, 2010

The Mets continue to get some breaks.  A five inning, rain shortened victory helped the Mets secure the series sweep against the Braves.

The only run came in the first inning.  Jose Reyes stole second with two outs.  Jason Bay ripped a ball down the third base line that was snagged by Chipper Jones.  Chipper got up slowly and then threw the ball away allowing Reyes to score on the play.

I can’t remember the last time I watched the Braves play this sloppily throughout an entire series.  However, I don’t want to take away anything from the Mets.  They did apply the pressure with outstanding pitching and timely hitting.

Pitching

Mike Pelfrey was effective enough for the win, throwing another five innings of shutout baseball.  He had trouble with his control, walking five batters.  He repeatedly had to pitch out of jams.

Big Pelf’s performance was impressive in the fact that he never gave in to the Braves’ hitters.  He looked confident in his ability to pitch out of trouble even without his best stuff.

The Lumber

Mets hitters continue to rack up the strikeouts, adding another eight to this seasons total.  I have to give credit to Tommy Hanson.  His curveball was sick and he was able to locate his pitches well.

Luis Castillo seems to be warming up as he had two sharp singles tonight.  He was responsible for two of the Mets’ five hits.

Slump Watch

David Wright was 0for 2 with a strikeout.  Even on his strikeout, he didn’t seem over matched.  He seemed to be right on Hanson’s fastball but chased a pitch high in the zone.

It is obvious that he is pressing.  Maybe a day off is needed to clear his head.

Outlook

Mother Nature granted the bullpen some much needed and well deserved rest.

The Mets are now 10-9 which looks a whole lot better than 4-8.  They start a series against the Dodgers tonight.  The Dodgers will be without Manny Ramirez’s services in this series.

A third straight series win would be a very appropriate way to end this current home stand.

My Very Own Bone Bruise Research

April 25, 2010

At the beginning of the season, I felt the Mets’ goal should be to play .500 baseball through May until Carlos Beltran returned.

The Mets are sitting at .500, but it is highly unlikely we will see Beltran playing in the beginning of June.

I decided  that I would do my best impersonation of  a Web MD and try to learn a little more about what it is Beltran is dealing with.

First, I wanted to figure out exactly what a bone bruise is.  I found a great article from the website Midwest Sports Fans, complete with this illustration (I have always been a visual learner).

I particularly liked this article because it relies on information provided by two doctors that posess a background in sports injuries.

Trying to put it in layman’s terms, a bone bruise is bleeding under the cover of the bone.

Now that we know what it is (kind of).  How is it treated?

All of the websites I visited talked about vitamin treatments and some range of motion exercises.  Another common theme was avoiding strain until all of the bruising was gone.

Sound familiar?

I also stumbled across two common points today that were a bit scary to me.

1.  Bone bruises take weeks or even months to heal.  It seemed when Beltran was first diagnosed with these issues everyone focused on the weeks versus the months.

It is obvious now that he came back last year before he had completely recovered from the bruises.  Thus, extending the recovery time.  I think this was the most baffling decision during this whole injury saga.

Why come back at the end of the season to play meaningless baseball?  The only reasonable explanations are that Beltran didn’t understand this type of injury or he didn’t realize his knee was still bruised.  My money is on option one.

2.  The second point is by far the scariest.  There were a number of articles/posts I read that stated bone bruised and ACL injuries tend to happen together frequently.

I can’t help but worry that this is the case with Beltran.  Hopefully, he doesn’t fall in this category.  I’m not sure we could handle him going down with an ACL injury after all of this.

Mets 3 Braves 1

April 24, 2010

Mets pitching continues to impress as they  secured their second straight series win today.  Jonathon Niese was only able to go 5.1 innings before handing it over to the bullpen.

It was Manny Acosta’s turn to pick up the win against his old mates.  He looked impressive today striking out three in 1.2 innings.

Fernando Nieve and Pedro Feliciano were then able to bridge the gap to get to Francisco Rodriguez.  Rodriguez enjoyed a much smoother outing today as he picked up his third straight save.

The Lumber

Another slow start for the sticks today.  They didn’t exactly heat up, as they scratched out only five hits.  They were able to pick up some big hits when needed, however.

Jason Bay lead the way with three hits including a game tying double with two outs.

Jeff Francoeur drove in the go ahead run with a 415 foot double of his own.

Slump Watch

Just when I thought David Wright might be starting to climb out of his slump, he comes up with an 0 for 4 performance today.  His average stands at a paltry .230.

Today’s plate appearance included a strike out, pop up to the catcher, and 4-6-3 double play.  I am not completely discouraged.  He didn’t appear to be over matched.  He just wasn’t affective.  It happens in this game.

Braves Blunders

The Braves continue to play uninspired baseball.  Today’s Keystone Cops moment occurred when Yunel Escobar either thought there were two outs or thought that Troy Glaus’ fly ball to Jeff Francoeur was a sure hit.

In any case, Escobar nonchalantly jogged back to third after the ball was caught.   Martin Prado was then caught in a run down between third and second because he assumed (rightly so) that Escobar would tag to score.  Not your average, every day, double play.

Outlook

It hasn’t been pretty from an offensive perspective, but the Mets are accomplishing what needs to be done.   They are now a .500 ball club heading into tomorrow’s chance to sweep the Braves.

At some point the inability to get passed the fifth or sixth inning by Mets’ starters will gas this bullpen and then things could get real ugly.  Gary Cohen pointed out in today’s telecast that the Mets’ bullpen leads the majors in innings pitched.

Mets 5 Larry & The Braves 2

April 23, 2010

The One and Only Mr. Met

Day one of the Jose Reyes experiment proved to be a success as the Mets picked up their eighth win of the year. Reyes contributed a double and a triple to the cause.

Pitching

It’s official.  John Maine is cursed.  He couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning due to spasms in his non-pitching elbow.  Seriously, who else would have to leave a game for something like this?

Hisanori Takahashi came in and was able to pitch three strong innings, racking up seven strike outs and only giving up one run.

The rest of the bullpen shut down the Braves and Francisco Rodriquez picked up his second save in as many nights.  Of course, he did so in true Franky fashion allowing the tying run to get to the plate before striking the final two batters he faced.

The Bats

Ike Davis hit his first career home run, a monster of a shot to right center.

David Wright made it two games in a row with a big RBI hit.  He actually missed a third big hit when he had to settle for a 405 foot sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.

Jason Bay seemed to be swinging the bat a bit better tonight.  He was able to follow the Jose Reyes triple with one of his own.

Play Of The Game

The Braves botched an infield pop up as Brian McCann displayed his lack of understanding of the infield fly rule.

It all started when Larry Jones botched a pop up with Pagan on second and Castillo on first.  They both took off when he dropped/smacked the ball towards first base.  Brian McCann then threw to first as if he were trying to double up Castillo.

Pagan, better yet Chip Hale, took advantage of the confusion and scored from third as no one was covering home plate.

Reflection

Pretty solid win for the Mets.  They showed their grit by not allowing early inning struggles at the plate discourage them.

I become more confident in the bullpen as each game passes.  Hopefully, Maine and Perez will start getting into the seventh inning so they don’t burn out.

It was especially enjoyable to watch the fundamentally sound Braves come unhinged during a game.  Larry the Met killer was especially ineffective tonight.  Savor the flavor boys and girls.  We don’t get to see this every day.


Jose Reyes Batting Third

April 23, 2010

Jose Reyes

Jose Reyes is now batting third for the Mets.  From what I can gather, Jerry Manuel is doing this to break up the right hand heavy lineup and to help Jason Bay see more fastballs.

My initial reaction is one of fear.  Why shake up Jose’s world right now?  He has been away from the game for so long and finally seems to be getting back into the swing of things.

The obvious risk is that Reyes changes his approach at the plate.  He has said that he has no plans to change the way he hits.

I said, ‘Oh, yeah. I’m going to be me. I’m going to take it like I’m going to be leadoff.

I am interested to see if he can resist the temptation to swing for the fences when he comes up in a big RBI situation.

Bringing him down in the order means less at bats for Jose.  I am not comfortable with that notion.  Why limit your catalyst?  This could mean as many as 60 fewer at bats this season.

Fewer opportunites for Jose to take a walk and turn it into a triple by stealing second and third.  Fewer opportunities for a real triple igniting the offense.  Fewer opportunities to pester opposing pitchers when he reaches base.

Having voiced my concerns, I understand Manuel’s motivation.  He has to do something to shake up this stagnant lineup.    It has become a black hole of offensive production.  Watching Wright, Bay, and Francoeur struggle together has been painful to watch.

I hope it works.  The last thing I want to see is Jose Reyes try to change the type of hitter he is.


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