Category: Dailies

9/18/06

I remember 1986 and 1988 for sure. This has been a long time in coming, a division crown, and I’ve just been riveted to SNY all night. Jose Valentine obviously was not about to allow a delay in clinching for a fourth day, he just wasn’t having it, and neither was Steve Trachsel. I hereby nominate Trax for game 4 playoff starter; whatever his ERA, its hard to argue with 15-7 for game 4. I think 8 days off agreed with him, just as El Duque benefitted from his rest for his sore shoulder. Electric crowd. Great to see the guys celebrating, they all seem like good guys, and they’ve been a great team this year.

Billy Wagner- Lights out since the all star break, and Aaron Heilman right along with him.

Guillermo Mota, Roberto Hernandez, Chad Bradford, Pedro Feliciano, the late Duaner Sanchez, et al- The best set up relief core in base ball.

Pedro, Glavine, El Duque. A couple of hall of famers among 3 successful playoff vets; the non cooperstown bound hurler the best of all in that category. Lookout playoff competition!

LaDuca. Anyone catch his f bomb on SNY tonight? That was before his first taste of bubbly. An hour later he was past "I love you man" mode as he interrupted a Delgado interview… My brother compares him to 86’s Ray Knight for his fieryness. Quite a complement. The only non long ball threat in the starting 8, he is currently 6th in the league with his .313 BA. Patience at the plate in the 2 spot, calls a great game, and not bad at all defensively.

Delgado. Hall of fame? He has done things with his string of 30 HR/100 rib eye steak seasons that not even Aaron, Mantle, or Ted Williams had done. Since he’s been here the lineup has been ferocius. Not only because of his 38 homers so far but for the trickle down affect it has had on the guys below…

Valentine. How about this guy? Floyd calls him "the best 8th place hitter in baseball", and I think that’s a no brainer. I’m sure anyone reading this knows where he was in his career last season and at the begining of the season. He almost retired! Lets just say we’re not missing Kaz Matsui’s bat around here…

Reyes. Praising Reyes’ season is redundant. You know, his contract is about half that of Wright’s, but he’s not too far from matching David at his own game: 19 homers to 24, a BA around .300, and way too many RBI’s for a leadoff guy. Extra base hits, league leader in stolen bases, and as fast as DC comic’s "Flash". Seems like a sweet kid too.

Ah but David Wright has been Mr. Clutch hasn’t he? Its gonna be exciting to watch this guy’s career. I hope I’m not jinxing them, but it doesn’t seem like either Wright or Jose have the dispositions to sucuum to the pitfalls that Doc or Darryl did, and we’ve seen much more from them then from Greg Jefferies back when we thought that he was the second coming of Rogers Hornsby or at least Pete Rose; God willing that they enjoy good health, there may finally be some homegrown position playing hall of fame Mets talent. Despite his 3 homers since the break, David’s season stats reflect a formidable presence in the 5 hole, and he’s a dynamic, positive presence on the field, or even on things like the David letterman Show 😛

Beltran. Philly’s Howard, and St. Louies Pujols may have too much raw offensive stats for our biggest hitter to win MVP, but I hope enough sports writers have taken the whole package in that he get a respectable showing in that vote. Wow. What a year. May set single season club records for homers, runs scored, already has for extra bases. I’ll take a gold glove as a consolation prize because he is also all of that. Great base runner, and I like what I have gleaned of him as a person too. He really turned it around this year to reach his potential, and the conventional wisdom is that Delgado’s presence and influence is a big reason. As they said in Robocop, "I’ll buy that for a dollar". Here’s believing that he can duplicate the post season production that he had with Houston a few years back.

Floyd. A year removed from over 30 homers, I see signs that Cliffy is coming around, some good hacks. I’ve seen enough to be confident that he will fulfill his role as a fearsome 6th hole hitter through the end of September into October. Cool laid back type guy too, when he’s not imitating Fred Sanford as he did during his stretch of getting hit by piches in between injuries…

Greene. That I miss Xavier Nady is documented elsewhere on the weblog, but I do like Greene (and am impressed with Pirates castoff Oliver Perez besides, so I’m healing from that). As with Floyd, I have seen enough flashes of vintage Greene to appreciate the depth that he helps add to the lineup. Again, seems like a good guy.

I like all the young and relatively young arms that we have seen this year too, but as they wont factor much into October (maybe Maine will get added to the pen) I won’t go on about ’em here. Spare parts? Start with Endy Chavez. If this were the NBA, this fourth outfielder supreme would be 6th man of the year. What’s he batting now, .315? Great arm, great legs, great jumps on the ball, and a rarity for the Mets, great bat against lefties. Julio Franco, freak of nature, and the man Paul LoDuca calls "Moses". Wouldn’t be the same team without ’em. Woody and Millege, we are glad to have them along for the ride as they fill their roles with competence, even with a combined .220 or so BA. That figure is deceptive if you ask me, especially in Woody’s case.

One down, three to go, an Amazin’ year continues. LetsGoMetsGo lives 20 years on!

9/3/06- Willie’s fault.

Its easy to get greedy. With the best record in baseball and no real NL competition, I just expect the Mets to win every day (I feel the "best record" honor does have an implied asterisk though, since the Tigers, Yankees, White Sox, Red Sox, et al DO have competition, namely each other, and still post excellent respective records). So that brings us to today’s affair, an attempt to post the first 3 game sweep in Houston in 22 years. El Duque and 3 relievers limit the ‘Stros to 1 hit, and despite a 9th inning Delgado homer its a one run, 2-1 loss. What’s my problem, is it the 9 walks allowed, 6 by The Duke? Not at all, that comes with the territory as I see it. Hernandez at times lives on the edge, a junkballer who nevertheless still throws a heater in the low 90s (!), he gives up walks, compensates for them with Ks, and I can’t argue with anything he did today. I enjoy watching him pitch, the times he’s knocked around early notwithstanding. I am pinning this one on Willie. It goes pack to the 7th, after Reyes breaks up Oswalt’s perfect game with an infield single to lead off the frame. Ideal! Given the very high percentage of Jose scoring when leading off an inning by getting on base, and the Mets’ fine pitching on the afternoon, things were looking solid at this point. But then the moment of truth. Batting second, Endy Chavez sacrafice bunts successfully. Without information to the contrary, it looks like this decision was called from the dugout. If it was an attempt to get the Mets second straight infield hit (which would be evidence that it was Endy’s decision, and not one I would have a beef with), that was not apparant. He did not "drag" it, and high tail out of the box. Instead, it really seemed to be a straight sacrafice. If so, the Mets deserve this loss. Jose Reyes is the major league stolen base leader, and is successful in that venture 70% of the time. We are facing a pitcher that had until this point not allowed anything beyond an infield hit, and forego the steal to set up a situation where a hit is needed to plate a run? No good. Steal second first, THEN sacrafice, moving the then tying run to third with one out. Such a situation would have indeed resulted in the tying run given how the rest of the inning played out. Instead? Stranded on third. If Reyes had been thrown out at second, I can live with that. It would have been the right move. Steal every time in that situation. Why give up an out for the same end of moving over the runner? I really don’t think the differences in percentages of a successful sacrafice vs. a straight attempted steal by Reyes is significant enough to give up what would be the decisive out. Too conservative. Not to mention for a team 16 games up in the division, too dull. I like Willie, though not happy with this one. Only rationalle (and not one I agree with): perhaps trying to protect Reyes’ health by limiting his head first slides, since the remainng regular season games are gravy at this point.

Xavier Nady, Henry Owens

Well I’ve been away for awile (see the Coopertown photos for an example) but definitely have been paying attention all the same. This post then is a long time in coming. What was up with the Nady trade? Terrible. I feel that Omar Minaya went off the deep end in his response to Duaner Sanchez’s accident. In the first place, as good as Duaner was, I can’t see that HIS value was as great as Nady’s, let alone the value of the two players we recieved equalling that of Xavier. Besides Sanchez, lets take a quick survey of the Mets pen. Oliver and Feliciano each enjoy an ERA under 3.00, placing them in the NL’s top 10 in that department, and, although often used only situationally, Feliciano’s current 2.01 number is particularly impressive. Chad Bradford’s 3.14 ERA is not too shabby either. Aaron Heilman has looked excellent of late and Billy Wagner is obviously a given. How do you give up your starting right fielder just to slightly supplement a strong crew like this? Roberto Hernandez, 41 years old compared to Nady’s prime aged 28, has been pretty much the last arm out of the pen. He has made 8 appearances so far. I do not get the thinking behind this aquisition.

Adding to my confusion here is Henry Owens. Remember him? For all the fuss that was made of heralded starting prospect Mike Pelfrey’s strikeout numbers- better than 1 per inning in AA Binghamton at the time of his recall, Owens, who closed games for the same team, struck out an average of 2 batters an inning! He also had a sick opposing batting average, less than .100, at the time of his recall. Sounds like an intimidating candidate for setup man. But he was dispensed with very quickly on the big club. 3 appearances, the first two positive, the third poor, and its like he dropped off the face of the earth. You never hear mention of him. I realize that I am no major league scout, but I would like to know the reasoning behind this. You have a guy like Owens in your system to potentially lengthen your pen, and while he is never even publicly discussed, your 28 year old, .280, 15 homers-in August right fielder is unloaded for  a 41 year old arm.

Now, coupled with injuries at second base and left field, the starting 8 has gone from having an AL elite-like Floyd, Valentin and Nady at the bottom of the order to various combinations of Woodward, Tucker, Ledee, DiFelice, Chavez and Millege after the 5 spot in the batting order. Not exactly murderers row! No disrespect to the above named players; Endy is a great fourth outfielder, Lastings may be really special one day, Tucker has done all you could have asked for, Woody hasn’t earned Willie’s confidence all year long for nothing, and DiFelice is probably an adequete temporary replacement for Ramon Castro (defensively), but the bottom of the lineup has gone from a strength to a weakness and exactly one third of that problem was entered into voluntarily. Why?

Ok, much of the above in moot at this point now that Shawn Green has been aquired at very low cost. I could gripe that while he is almost 34 and entering an inevitable decline, Nady is yet young and improving. I could also gripe that our new outfielder has, for all his past production, 4 less homers than our previous starting right fielder. A third gripe could be that while Xavier Nady has posted and boasted (thats my Clyde Frazier impression) a .324 BA since moving over to the Pittsburg Pittafils, Green has been on an offensive decline since June, and is batting .208 so far in August. Mostly I am griping that, all things considered, right field has, even now, been slightly downgraded in my eyes, and while I mean no disrespect to Roberto Hernandez, his presence on the club just does not make me feel any better about that situation. Maybe someday Oliver Perez will, just as John Maine helps me not think about Kris Benson.

Well I guess all of this was a bit of bad form. My first post in a few weeks was a bit of a rant, and the truth is, the Amazins have been in spendid form, and a joy to watch. 400 homers for Delgado! (What a game THAT was). 10 home wins in a row and counting! Beltran for MVP! Trachsel cant lose, no matter how many runs he allows! Good news about Glavine’s health! We’re now 2 1/2 behind the Tigers for the best record in MLB (it had been about7), and are in sole possesion of second place, outpacing the other powers in the AL! Were making quick work out of the second best NL team! The new stadium is moving along… well I’m actually not thrilled about that, being a nostalgic, I like old Shea just fine. With that nostalgic feeling in mind, I regret not being around to post a reflection on 1986 anniversary night, because that was really special to me. That year was incomparable, magical, and the intros of the players and televised video tributes really brought that back for me. I only wish there were time for more guest announcers in the telecast besides Nails, Jesse and Straw. But instead of more along those lines, all I have is the above rant, ‘cuz, well, its been bugging me since the day it happened…