Archive for the ‘Alex Cora’ Category

The Effectiveness of Team Meetings

July 21, 2010

Before tonight’s game, Jerry Manuel held a fifteen minute team meeting. I really can’t blame Manuel for making this decision.

He is in a tough spot. Some of his critics would murder him for not holding a meeting to try to clear the air for his team.

As reported by our own Wendy Adair, there was a bit of an issue in the clubhouse last night that needed to be addressed.

I’m sure Jerry also wanted to take an opportunity to try to motivate his team into playing better baseball.

The problem with the motivational team meeting is it doesn’t really accomplish much. What could Jerry Manuel possibly say that the players don’t already know?

Here’s how I envisioned the way things went.

Jerry Manuel (JM): Well guys. We’re not playing that well right now. But I really believe we’ll be fine. We’ve got a good lineup, now that everyone’s back. Alex. What happened last night?

Alex Cora (AC): I was upset after we lost….AGAIN….and didn’t like the fact that the reporters were laughing in the clubhouse after the game.

JM: What were they laughing about?

AC: I don’t know. Why does it matter?

JM: Was it funny? You know I like a good laugh.

AC: Ask Pelf. He was talking to them.

Mike Pelfrey: Yeah, it was pretty funny skip. We were quoting movie lines from A League Of Their Own. Mike Puma does a great Tom Hanks.

JM: Yeah? Which part?

MP: He does the standard “There’s no crying in baseball” bit. But he really has the part nailed when Tom Hanks is complaining to the team owner about having girls instead of ball players. You know? The part where he goes: “BALL PLAYERS?! I don’t have ball players. I’ve got girls! Girls are what you sleep with after the game, not, not what you coach during the game.”

JM: Hahahaha. That’s great Pelf! You’ve got that down pretty well. I love that part.

MP: Thanks skip.

JM: Oh yeah…almost forgot about the meeting. Listen up everybody. We’re fine. I really believe we’re going to turn this thing around. Luis you’re gonna get some rest tonight. Rod, you’re catching Niese. Go get em fellas!

Well. I guess we’ll see if this works.

Originally published on Mets Gazette.

Three Things That Need To Change With The Mets Offense

June 4, 2010

Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

What can the New York Mets do to get over the .500 hump?

Many people believe adding a starting pitcher will help.  I don’t disagree with this notion, but it is fair to say every team is looking for starting pitching.

For me, it is imperative that the Mets get more production out of their offense.

To be more specific, consistent production.  Every so often they will put together a few games where they score five or more runs.

All of a sudden, the bats get quiet and we see very few runs cross the plate.

Here are three things that need to happen with the sticks:

David Wright Needs To Get Back To Being David Wright

For the most part, I have given D. Wright a pass as he is traditionally a slow starter.

However, June is here and we are no longer beginning.  This is typically where he heats up, so there is still hope.

Currently, Wright is hitting .264 and has struck out 69 times.

The strikeouts wouldn’t bother me as much if he wasn’t putting them together in bunches, two and three at a time.

Wright is a career .306 hitter.  If he can make up these 42 points during the rest of the season this lineup will become very potent.

His nine home runs have been a welcome sight along with his 36 RBIs.

However, I would rather him downplay the home run, stay on the ball a little longer and start using the opposite field as he did when he first came in the league.

If you have watched him closely this year, his hot streaks start with a couple of hits to the opposite field.

Before you know it,  he starts to pull off the ball again and finds himself on a cold streak.

Luis Castillo Needs To Be Placed On DL or Traded

Don’t mistake me on this point.  Luis’ effort has been there and you can tell he is giving it 100% this season.  I have appreciated this compared to prior years.

The problem is, the Mets don’t have enough power in their lineup to afford a slap happy, singles hitter that is batting .241.

His current issues with his feet take away his bunting ability, not to mention limit his range on defense.  It is admirable watching him try to play through this but the Mets need more than what he can give.

Luis’s ailments also force Jerry Manuel to play Alex Cora extensively.  It is obvious that Cora should be a spot starter at best and he is not a permanent option.

The Castillo issue is probably the most difficult one to solve.  His large contract, injury history, and age make it difficult to trade him.

To exasperate the issue, the Mets do not have anyone in the minors that is close to being ready to handle the full time job at second.

It will be interesting to see what Omar Minaya does with this.  It isn’t like he hasn’t been trying.

Gary Matthews Jr. Is Not an Option

Gary Matthews Jr. has been given more than enough opportunity to prove that he can help this team.  Manuel is using him as his fourth outfielder so he has received plenty of at bats.

After 58 at bats, he has an abysmal .190 average and only one RBI.

I didn’t have an issue with Omar picking him up, because the gamble was worth it knowing Carlos Beltran was going to be out for an extended period of time.

However, no one knows when Beltran will return.  It is time for the Mets to act as if he will not be coming back.  This means finding another option other than GMJ.

Once a crowded section of the Mets roster, the outfield options seem to be scarce.    Fernando Martinez is injured again, along with Jason Pridie.

This leaves Jesus Feliciano as the only option in Buffalo.  His .388 batting average is awfully appealing at this point.  The problem with Jesus is that he isn’t on the 40 man roster.

Don’t be surprised to see Omar make a move for a right-handed bat in the outfield.

Johan Santana Out Duels C.C. Sabathia

May 23, 2010

Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

Admit it pessimists,  this was an encouraging weekend for the Mets.

It’s okay to feel good about this weekend.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t go back to your grumpy ways during the next Mets slide.

The series victory over the Yankees is a potential stepping stone.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Johan Is An Ace

Tonight’s performance for Johan Santana is exactly the type of  start he was signed for.

He was charged with the opposing team’s ace and was asked to out duel him.

Johan answered the call, going deep into the eighth inning.  He only gave up one run, six hits, and struck out five batters.

His counterpart, was chased after five innings, allowing six runs (five earned) and ten hits.

A scary though for opposing hitters, Johan is traditionally a better second half pitcher.

If he and Mike Pelfrey can continue to put together starts like this, the Mets will find themselves on the other side of .500 and climbing.

Jason Bay, Streak Killer

Jason Bay continued his torrid hitting.  This time, he flexed his muscles a bit as he hit two home runs and drove in three runs.

His second home run was a screaming line drive that went into the bullpen in right center.

Bay ended an impressive streak for the Mets offense.  His lead off homer in the fifth stopped the two out run scoring streak the Mets enjoyed during their last two games.

They had scored nine straight runs with two outs.

The Rest Of The Lumber

Alex Cora started everything off for the Mets with a great at bat in the second inning in which he produced a two strike hit that drove in two runs.

David Wright drove in a run on an RBI double.

Jose Reyes and Ike Davis each collected two hits.

A-Rod vs. K-Rod

Francisco Rodriguez has earned his pay check this weekend.  He didn’t have his best stuff when asked to come in with runners on in the ninth inning.

Derek Jeter was able to drive in a run on a double off of the left field wall.

Another run came in when Rodriguez was able to get the second out of the inning when Brett Gardner was thrown out by David Wright on a very close play at first base.

Mark Texiera then proceeded to bounce one a mile high off the plate and get an infield hit.

This brought Alex Rodriguez to the plate, representing the go ahead run.

We were then treated to a tense eight pitch at bat, in which Franky got the best of A-Rod and got him to swing and miss on a change-up.

The Wussification Of Baseball Continues

I miss the old school way in which teams protected their hitters.  Hit our guy, expect your guy to get one in the ribs the next inning.

Now, the minute a pitch sniffs someone’s jersey, the umpire’s warn both teams and the next pitcher that hits someone is ejected along with the manager.

In the bottom of the seventh Jason Bay was with in the back by an obvious breaking ball that got away from Sergio Mitre.

Home plate umpire, Marvin Hudson, felt it was necessary to warn both teams.

I understand the intent of the rule, but I don’t agree with it.  It brings too much subjectivity into the game.

Let the players handle issues on the field.  Not the umpires.

On Deck

The hated Phils come calling on Tuesday night.

R.A. Dickey will get his second start as he faces Jamie Moyer.

Subway Series Similar Ten Years Later

May 22, 2010

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

What a difference ten years makes.

Kind of.

Ten years ago, the Subway Series brought us a Yankees team touted to win another World Series and a Mets team playing second fiddle, trying to show their big brother they could play.

The current edition is similar in both aspects.  The major difference is this Mets team is in a state of flux.

Their pitching staff is in shambles as they have lost or removed three of their starters from their rotation, and their offense is  not producing.

The Mets’ team ten years ago sported one of the best defenses in the game, and an offense anchored by Hall of Famer, Mike Piazza.

Blast From The Past

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Several of my favorite players from the 2000 team were on hand at Citi Field.

I was hoping Edguardo Alfonzo, Mike Piazza, John Franco, Benny Agbayani, and Turk Wendell could channel some of their confidence to this year’s club.

Unfortunately, the Mets came up a bit short on Friday, just as they did in the 2000 World Series.

Tak Terrific

Hisanori Takahashi is starting to become one of my favorite members of the pitching staff.  He has proved that he can come into any situation, throw strikes, and get hitters out.

The throwing strikes part is the key here.  It is very refreshing to have a starter other than Santana or Pelfrey challenge hitters with strikes rather than nibbling all of the time.

Tak Terrific shut down a potent Yankees lineup for six innings, including five strike outs.

Oops

The turning point in the game came in the seventh inning.

Normally sure handed Alex Cora, threw a ball into left field on a chopper hit by Francisco Cervelli.

This allowed Nick Swisher, who singled in the previous at bat, to get to third as Cervelli advanced to second on the error.

Side Note: 

Cervelli is wearing the oversized helmet David Wright sported last year due to a concussion.

When he hits, he is a dead ringer for Flinstones’ character, The Great Gazoo.

After the Cora error, Kevin Russo promptly lined a base hit to right field, driving in the only Yankee runs of the night.

Anemic Offense

The offensive woes continue for the Amazin’s.

They faced Javier Vazquez, a pitcher sporting an ERA over 8.00.  Somehow, they made him look like Nolan Ryan.  He struck out six Mets’ batters in six innings.

I have to give Vazquez credit.  He appeared to have great control.  From what I gather, walks were killing him.  Of course, he figures out how to regain his control against the Mets.

The only thing stopping him from a complete game was a bunt attempt that caught his finger.

Jose Reyes and David Wright continued their struggles, each failing to reach base.  Wright collected another two strikeouts.

Mini-Rally

Once again, the Mets mustered a bit of a fight in the ninth inning.

Jason Bay and Ike Davis were able to stroke back to back doubles off of Mariano Rivera, exciting the Citi Field crowd.  David Wright then promptly grounded out to second ending the game.

Ike showed no fear facing the legendary Rivera which undoubtedly raised his rock star status in Flushing.

On Deck

Big Pelf faces Phil Hughes in game two tonight.

Nationals 3, Mets 2

May 11, 2010

Sometimes, the game of baseball is quite simple.  A single game can be summed up with one stat.

The Mets’ 3 to 2 loss to the Nationals is one of these games.  The Mets were 1 for 12 at the plate with runners in scoring position.

This game was there for the taking.  John Maine had a decent outing, giving up two runs in six innings.

The Mets let opportunity after opportunity pass them by.

The fight is still there, however.  The Mets were down 3 to 1 in the ninth inning, when Angel Pagan blasted a solo home run, cutting the deficit to one.

Alex Cora, in for the ejected Jose Reyes, slapped a single up the middle.  This brought up Jason Bay.

I thought to myself, “What an opportunity for Bay right here.  He could go a long way in endearing himself to Mets fans with a big hit.”

It didn’t happen.

Bay struck out weakly to end the game.

Outlook:

Jon Niese will face Scot Olsen in game two of this series.

Reyes and Wright frustration boiling over.

Phillies 10, Mets 0

May 1, 2010

Well, you can’t win em’ all.  Not much of a game today in Philadelphia.

It started off as quite the pitching duel through the first three innings.  The Phillies exploded for six runs in the bottom of the fourth, highlighted by a three run, home-run by Shane Victorino.

The inning started off a tad quirky as Jose Reyes and Alex Cora both missed difficult catches going into the short outfield.  Both plays initially appeared as they would be outs, but squirted out for hits instead.

The Phillies took full advantage.

This is the exact reason the Phillies traded for Roy Haladay.

I haven’t had the opportunity to watch much of Haladay in the past.  I can see what all of the fuss is about.

Outlook:

This series reminds me of a Rocky movie.  Both of the fighters have dealt huge knockout blows, that in a normal fight leave their opponent down for the count.

The Mets still have to like their position.  They have their ace on the hill on Sunday night, pitching for the series win.


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