Sunday, May 22, 2005
I'm too upset to write. I need some separation. They looked better than the Yankees, they were better than the Yankees, they should have won three games, or at least two, but the fact is they didn't. AAARRRRGGGGHHHH!
I'm off to take a few deep breaths, and watch Animal House on AMC. I will say, though, that this is why I said they should keep Diaz on the major league roster!! Diaz would have meant resting Floyd yesterday. Diaz would have meant not watching two check swing outs by Valent in the clutch and another weak grounder to first in his only other at-bat. Diaz would have meant Beltran could get fully rested before coming back from his strain, without the team suffering for it in Atlanta. OK, breathe, breathe. I'll be better by Thursday. AAARRRRGGGGHHHH!
Friday, May 20, 2005
Only time for some quick cuts this morning. With the sweep of the Reds, the homestand is back on track at 4-2. Now we need to take 2 of 3 from the Yankees for a good homestand. . . . I'm OK with the unbalanced schedule even though teams in the NL East, the best division in baseball, have a disadvantage in the wildcard. If you can't win your five team division, you're in no position to complain. But, I must say the different interleague schedule can be irritating. We get the Yankees, the Braves get Boston (fair) and the Marlins get . . . wait for it . . . the DEVIL RAYS!?*$#! Give me a break! By the way, why are the Orioles playing the Phillies, rather than the Nationals, on geographic weekend?. . . . OK, now the Braves have lost one starter briefly (Hampton) and one for three months (Thompson), they have two horrible outfielders, their closer has been pushed to the back of the pen, they've been swept by the Padres, to paraphrase Quint, "they can't keep winning, not with three barrells in them. They can't." Let's hope we don't end up like he did.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
TUESDAY MORNING THOUGHTS
Last Night's Game
After losing two out of three to the Cardinals, the Mets need to sweep the Reds to match expectations for this homestand. Step one was a success last night, and the game was Exhibit A for watching the Mets. There is no way reading about it in the paper can give you the feel of all the great moments. . . . Floyd's home run was CRUSHED, but up as well as out. It must have been Dave-Kingman-popup-high; it took forever to come down in the second deck. . . . Beltran's baserunning was all that was advertised as he gifted an RBI to the struggling Doug M. who hit a weak comebacker to the mound with Beltran on third and one out. Beltran got just the right distance off third as the pitcher checked him before throwing to first, and made an incredible slide past the waving tag at home. . . . Good Scouting by the Mets: Mientkiewicz tried to score from 3rd on shallow fly to left. I thought he would be out for sure and would not have sent him, but he made it with the throw being cutoff. Dunn's arm was a joke out there, and the Mets knew it. . . . Speaking of arms, Cameron's throw to the plate to nail a runner was as amazing, if not as spectacular, as the diving catch he made over the weekend. He was deeper than Dunn, facing a faster runner and had to reach down to catch a sinking liner -- a very tough ball to throw from. I was sure the runner would tag and score, but he was out by so much he never touched the plate. . . . Matsui made a handful of good plays in the field, running into short right for a tough pop up and even ranging to his right towards second, to make two good plays. . . . David Wright scorched the ball to left field in one at-bat and then to right field his next trip. . . . Jose Reyes, actually ran less than full speed while watching his leadoff triple fly to the 376 mark, but then accelerated to WOW pace when it hit the wall to make it without a throw. And I mean WOW. . . . Watching our beloved old catcher give it all he's got to try to advance to third on a wild pitch, and to see it pay off when he can score as the throw bounces into leftfield (good throw might have had him). . . . Ahh, sweet victory.
Kudos, sort of, to Omar for having a backup backup catcher on hand. Mike DiFelice is similar to Ramon Castro who he temporarily replaces -- he is (or at least was, he's about to turn 36) a good defensive catcher who can't really hit and has an arrest history resulting from his interactions with women (in his case assaulting women in a nightclub in 2001). He will take a walk on occassion and is not completely without power, but, with a .239 lifetime avg., is not strong enough in either department to make us eager for Mike P.'s day off. He also has a volatile temper, having thrown a cooler-breaking-garbage-tossing fit following an ejection two years ago -- not the quiet get-along guy Castro is. Look for Willie to use him in the same late-inning defense sub pattern, and hope that DiFelice still has that part of his game. . . . The Mets demoted Diaz to make room for Ishii. The general sentiment seems to support this move, so that Diaz can play everyday. Unless he's learning to play first base as well, I don't like it, and you won't either when it is Woodward/Valent getting the spot starts once or twice a week in the outfield and when we need righthanded pop off the bench in the late innings. The club is simply weaker without him, and we don't need 12 pitchers. If Heilman's in the pen, we go four deep: Looper, Hernandez, Bell, Heilman, before getting to the weak three: Koo, DeJean and Aybar. There wasn't enough work for them even with the 11-man staff. As for Diaz's development, here's Cliff Floyd's take: "I was 22 and pinch-hitting for Felipe (Alou, the manager) in Montreal (in 1995) - I hated it. But you get a chance to learn from a lot guys around here and make a good living. And Triple-A ain't fun. There's nothing about Triple-A that's fun." Will AAA show Diaz how to adjust to major league fastballs? I don't think so. . . . Boo on this move.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
MY MANTRA . . . .
I will enjoy this season. . . . I will enjoy this season. . . . I will enjoy this season. . . . I needed to keep repeating this watching the Mets give away yesterday's very winnable game. I will enjoy this season. . . . Even though Zambrano actually pitched very well and should have only allowed one run in his disaster inning, he is soooo painful to watch. . . . I will enjoy this season. . . . I will enjoy this season. . . . I love Doug Mientkiewicz: he looks like a ballplayer, chats up the dugout, has great hands around first, is a fine baserunner despite his lack of speed and has delivered a number of clutch hits. . . . BUT, for all the raving about his defense, he throws poorly. Many first basemen do -- that's why some of them are not outfielders, and, in D.M's case, it's why he's not a catcher -- but this is a hole in his game. Yesterday was the third time this season that Mientkiewicz has made a bad throw on a ground ball hit to him with men on first and third with less than two out. This time, it cost us the game. Offensively, the major league AVERAGE among first basemen is .276/.358/.463. Minky is at .225/.336/414. He needs to do better. Having said that, he's better to watch over there than anyone we've had since Olerud, and I will enjoy this season. . . . I will enjoy this season. . . . Pain yesterday, but I'm still aching for there to be a game today. . . . I will enjoy this season. . . .
Monday, May 09, 2005
WELCOME BACK MIKE!
Weekend in Review
Mets Analyst has always been a Mike Cameron fan and has opposed the notion of swapping him for bullpen help. It's wonderful to see him get off to such a rocking start on his return and from all different spots in the lineup. . . . Taking two of three from the Brewers was the tougher step in the goal of a 4-2 road trip, which would be a great accomplishment. It will be interesting to see which Aaron Heilman shows up in Chicago tonight. . . .
Wild, Wild East
It says here that the NL wild card will come from the Eastern Division. The top-to-bottom strength of baseball's best division, of course, makes it difficult for a potential wild card because of the unbalanced schedule. While other wild-card contenders get to beat up on a patsy like the Rockies, NL East teams have no gimmies among division opponents, who make up so many of their games. Even with this disadvantage, though, look for an NL East Wild Card -- the division is simply that much better. Every team in the NL East has a better record than its counterpart (1st place, 2nd place etc.) in the other divisions. The NL East is 18-9 against the Central Division and 11-4 against the West. Finally, with the Cubs, Astros and Giants facing major hurdles to contention, and the Brewers and Diamondbacks not yet ready, the Padres look like the only non-NL East team who could plausibly make it. . . . So, the Mets stand 2 games out of the playoffs. . . .
Mets: Steals 18, CS 9, SB% .67
Opp: Steals 26, CS 5, SB% .84
(Ugh. We are still getting killed in the running game -- giving up as much as any team while not helping ourselves at all).
Strikeouts by Mets Pitchers: 242 (2nd most in the league)
Strikeouts by Mets Hitters: 219 (2nd most in the league)
(With Mike Cameron replacing Victor Diaz, the Mets will strikeout even more. If our pitchers can continue to beat our hitters, I'll be pleased).
Home Runs by Mets Hitters: 40
Home Runs by Mets Opponents: 29
(Wow! Mets are 1st in the NL in home runs. That is unlikely to last, but if it does, watch out!).
Mets Record for Runs Scored by a Shortstop: 89 (Frank Taveras in 1979)
Jose Reyes Runs Scored Pace: 20 runs in 32 games: 101 runs
(Still on pace to break record, but margin is slipping. . . )
Friday, May 06, 2005
MOTHER'S DAY MUSINGS
What's Behind, What's Ahead
3-1 has to be considered a successful homestand, and replacing Jae Seo + Royce Ring with Kris Benson + Mike Cameron obviously strengthens the team. Randolph continues an amazin' run of pushing the right buttons, and it was great to see Piazza have a big day. . . . Now they hit the road (where they have played poorly) for 3 each against the not-terrible-this-year Brewers and the always-disappointing Cubs. Normally, I would call a 3-3 road trip a success, but let's set the bar at an ambitious 4-2 here, particularly because the Brewers are starting two lefties against the Mets, and the Mets have clobbered portsiders this year (.859 OPS, 4th in the league, compared to .721 OPS and 12th against righthanders). . . .
"The Enigma" -- Manny Aybar: Don't Discard Him (Yet)
Manny Aybar has been bad. Every time he comes in he gives up extra base hits aplenty (teams are slugging .563 -- All-Star level for hitters -- against him), and it drove me crazy when he was blocking Heath Bell. The truth is, though, that he has shown overpowering stuff and great command. Indeed, he is special, nay, unique in managing to be so good and so bad at the same time. Aybar has a K/9 ratio of 9.19 and a K/BB ratio of 5.33. Those numbers are flat out great. It is rare to be able to overpower hitters to that degree with that kind of control and not be excellent -- not just not horrible, but excellent. Here is a list of the NL pitchers last year who managed to strike out at least one batter per inning while striking out 5 times as many hitters as they walked. Keep in mind that in making this list I was willing to include any pitcher who had as many innings in all of 2004 as Aybar has had already in 2005 -- a very low standard. Here's the list:
and Mike Gonzalez (1.25 era in middle relief for Pittsburgh).
and that's it! That elite list speaks for itself.
How about over a shorter period? Even then, Aybar's combination of outstanding suckage is unique. In 2005 there are only 9 pitchers other than Aybar with a K/9 above 9.00 and a K/BB above 5.00 (min. 10 innings; Aybar has over 15). Their average ERA is 2.76. Four of them are starters, and they're named Martinez, Peavy, Santana and Schilling (is that 5 cy youngs and counting?). When you pull them out, the 5 relievers have a combined ERA of 1.92.
So it's clear that guys with Aybar's combination of stuff and command don't grow on trees. He just has to stop throwing a meatball 1 out of every 10 pitches. Yes, Aybar has been a ne'er-do-well pitcher, but he has ne'er posted ratios close to these; his best year ratio wise came in his last substantial year in the majors, 2002 with S.F., where his very good 6.91 K/9 and 3.67 K/BB produced a respectable 2.51 ERA. In short, its a very safe bet that either Aybar's ratios are going to collapse or his ERA is going to plummet. The back of the bullpen, rather than the scrap heap, is a good place for him to be while we watch and see which it will be.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
SHA LA LA LA LA LA, LIVE FOR TODAY
One thing about obsessively following a team, which you probably do if you are reading a Mets blog, is that you can get so caught up in where we will end up that you forget to enjoy the journey. Indeed, a leading Mets Blogger essentially confesses as much in the audio blog he posted yesterday. Who knows how many games we will win this year, but with all the time you're spending on this, you had better enjoy those wins! Exhibit A was last night's win at Shea over the Phillies. Two moments showed the team is very loose under Randolph and were great fun to watch -- actually, I'd never seen anything quite like them. First, with the game tied 1-1 with two down in the sixth, Pedro gave up a little fly ball to left field. Floyd charged in like a freight train -- given mass*velocity, no one on the Mets gets more momentum -- made a sliding, tumbling catch and came up sans limp, as thousands of fans exhaled. On the mound, though, Pedro raised his arms over his head and started shaking them and his head like a crazy man, smiling the whole time, until Floyd jogged by for his slap on the butt. Pedro later explained he was shaking from the earthquake caused by big Cliff hitting the turf. Hilarious, and a reminder that this is, after all, just a game to enjoy. The second moment came in the bottom of the 8th when the Mets were comfortably in front 5-1. As Reyes got ahead in the count 2-0 and 3-1, the whole crowd AND THE WHOLE DUGOUT perked up and started rooting for his walk. Even Reyes had to crack a smile about it. When he flew out to right (4 for 5 on the night), there was much visible cutting up in the dugout. Reyes is like the team's little brother. A fun day.
Mets Runs Scored Record for a SS: 89 (Frank Taveras 1979)
Jose Reyes 2005 Runs Scored Pace: 112 . . . Still on pace to smash that record
Mets Basestealing: 17 SB 6 CS 74%
Mets Opponents: 22 SB 4 CS 85% . . . Still losing, but closed the gap in the past few games.
Piazza Related Stat: Mets OPS vs. Lefties .864 . . . . Mets OPS vs. Righties .715