Saturday, July 31, 2010

Yanks Keep Active, Mets Sitting on Hands

After making deals for Austin Kerns, Lance Berkman and Kerry Wood (all which would be blockbuster moves had this been 2000) the Yankees have shorn up their bench and bullpen a little. The Berkman move was the largest, although the Wood trade shows a lack of faith in Joba Chamberlain. In any case, the moves have improved the Yankees somewhat and maybe now they have a shot of making the playoffs.

Yes that was a joke. The Yankees certainly didn’t hurt themselves with any of these moves. Kerns is nothing but a bat off the bench, as he’s not been a very relevant player for a few years now. Berkman’s numbers aren’t that pretty despite his last week’s resurgance but he’s still a more than cabable bat who knows how to get a big hit when needed. Wood adds some insurance in the bullpen and if healthy should be helpful in bidgiung that gap to Riveria.

The mets made a blockbuster move of their own moving Mike Jacobs to the Blue Jays for nothing.

Again.. yes… joke. Well… more like sarcasm.

At this point it makes no sense for the mets to do anything. Trading away prospects for a Cliff Lee, Dan Haren or Roy Oswalt made sense. Trading them away for Ted Lilly or Kerry Wood does not… although I would consider moaking a play for Chone Figgins who is suddenly available. He’d look pretty good at 2nd base for the next few years.

The Mets look like they’ll play hard, but will mostly be looking towards 2011. They look to try and keep their young talent as much as they can. It’s not a bad move to a point, but the Mets need changes so hopefully we’ll see a different GM and Manager in 2011 as well as a HARD push towards Cliff Lee. Blow him away. Offer him a termendous amount. The Mets are about… 20 minutes away from the Yankees? They are in the same huge market. They need to spend some money. If the Wilpons don’t have any there are a lot of guys out there (like Mark Cuban) who wants to buy an MLB team.

The Yankees are doing what they can to make themselves as strong as possible. The Mets are doing what they can to keep their prospects and save money. The fans in the Bronx are happy. The fans in Flushing are not and must be patient.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Inactivity Makes No Sense

The more I have looked at the flurry of trades that happened the last week or so, the more I have to wonder… what in God’s name are the Mets waiting for?

I’m going to guess the Mets have a plan in place. I’m not going to say it’s a GOOD p[lan or a smart one, but they must have one, and it must be a plan involving keeping their farm system intact and looking to promote from within and build a team of young players with some veterans to anchor them, because there is no other excuse or explanation for the total lack of activity the Mets have shown.

The fact that The Philadelphia Phillies got Roy Oswalt for J.A. Happ and two minor leaguers is insane. J.A. Happ wouldn’t be able to crack the Mets starting rotation, yet he was the big piece of a trade that has given the Phils a solid 1/2/3 starting rotation head.

The Texas Rangers, who are not even fully owned and are in BANKRUPTCY have STILL been able to trade for Cliff Lee and Jorge Cantu.

The small market Twins acquired Matt Capps.

The Angels were able to get Dan Haren from the Diamondbacks.

The Mets? Nothing. No moves at all.

Now I know the Mets really cannot add a bat here. They are pretty much set at every position except for second base and except for Dan Uggla, who hits homeruns, but strikes out a ton and has a terrible glove there are no second basemen out there to trade for.

The team needs another starting pitcher so they can put Hisanori Takahashi back in the bullpen. If they had added a Dan Haren or a Roy Oswalt the team’s starting pitching would have looked rather solid. They also could use another bullpen arm and getting a Matt Capps or a Scott Downs would solidify the bullpen.

At this point we’ve heard all about how teams are asking for Ike Davis and Jon Niese. I understand and agree with not trading Davis at all and holding onto Niese if at all possible. But Roy Oswalt would have been a heck of a guy to get and in the end the prospects and players sent in both the Haren AND Oswalt trades weren’t that great, so you;re going to tell me the Mets couldn’t have beaten those offers withut having to give up Davis or Niese?

If the Mets could have told the Astros a week ago that they would pick up Oswalt’s 2012 option you think for a second they wouldn;t have jumped at it and traded him back then when it looked like no one would be able to get him? They became desperate and gave Oswalt away for a song AND paid 11 Million of his 2011 salary. If the Mets had offered a package of say Bobby Parnell and two decent but unspectacular prospects and said the Astros only had to give them 5 or 6 Million of Oswalt’s 2011 salary, you think they would have said no? The would have saved themselves millions to help with signing someone else next year and the Mets could have had a rotation of Johan Santana, Oswalt, Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese and R. A. Dickey.

I find it very hard to belive the Mets could not have countered the Phillies offer with a better one more based on money than prospects.

The Mets are willing to make moves. In recent years they have traded for Johan Santana, Luis Castillo (when he was still considered pretty good), Shaun Green, J.J. Putz and Carlos Delgado. They’ve signed Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Billy Wagner, Paul LoDuca, Francisco Rodriguez, and Jason Bay. The problem is, the Mets don’t ever seem to take that big step and look to make the team into a powerhouse. They always seem to do just enough to be competitive but not enough to make themselves an all-out favorite.

The inactitivity during this trade dealine season makes little sense. Just two weeks ago the Mets were 1 game out of a playoff spot. They have a good mix of youg talent and veterans. They just allowed one of their biggest rivals to make themselves MUCH better… how can they stand pat?

Any doubt that the Mets front office just doesn’t get it should be erased by now. To watch a bankrupt team get one of the best pitchers on the planet and a pretty good hitter and to watch the team that has embarrassed them the last few years to go out and get a great pitcher that the Mets themselves could have gotten if they had just spent the money is ABISMAL. At this point if NOTHING else I want Omar Minaya gone. I know he’s not the whole problem, but ANY change at this point will be welcome.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

You Have to Admire Phillies, Yankees

When the Philadelphia Phillies traded Cliff Lee in this offseason, I thought the team was crazy. They had a chance to have a killer 1-2 punch of Roy Halladay and Lee with a solid Cole Hamels (a legit #2 pitcher) as their #3. Facing those three in a playoff series would be a seemingly insurmountable feat… especially when you factor in the Phils strong line-up with Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jason Werth anchoring an American League like offense.

The Phils were worried about their farm system though and traded Lee to restock it somewhat after making a serious dent in it to acquire Halladay (and Lee himself the year before). It was a big mistake.

Well, the Phillies realized that mistake when they struggled to win any games this year not started by Halladay or Hamels. With a number of injuries to their position players and a team that had gone to the World Series in each of the last two years I don’t think anyone would have blamed the Phillies if they stood pat and let the season played out and perhaps prepared for the 2011 season. Stuck in third place for most of the season, it didn’t look like the playoffs were very likely anyway.

So what do they do? They fight like hell to get Roy Oswalt, who, while not as much of a no-doubt pitcher as Cliff Lee is, still is a major upgrade to anything they had and creates a very strong 1-2-3 top of the rotation with Halladay and Hamels. The trade looks likely, just awaiting the approve of Oswalt himself, but even if it doesn’t happen, it’s still a sign the Phillies will do as much as they can to build a winner.

A few weeks ago, the Yankees were on the edge of acquiring Lee from the Mariners and in fact seemed to have a deal in place that the Mariners backed down from in ordere to get what they felt was a better offer from the Texas Rangers. When that fell through, they tried to get Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks. That also didn’t come to pass.

The Yankees though, unlike the Phillies, have the best record in baseball and already have a quite formidable starting rotation of C.C. Sabathia, Andy Pettitte (who is on the DL right now, granted), Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett and Javy Vazquez. Even with Pettitte on the DL, the team is winning and winning effortlessly. Their line-up is stacked, yet their are runors they have been looking to improve it by looking at Adam Dunn or Jose Batista.

Some people were angry when the Yankees tried to get Lee. They were a powerhouse team already… wasn’t enough, enough?

Not to the Yankees… and seemingly the Phillies. You see, both teams have been making the right moves the last few years… they are top teams who never seem to be satisfied and strive to make themselves better.

For the Yankees, this is status quo. They’ve always looked to field a team of all-stars to the point that it’s really not major news when they win… it’s actually bigger news when they DON’T. You expect the Yankees to win because they put the best talent on the field. They give their fans expectations that no only sports franchise can match. That is beyond admirable. A team that puts winning on such a pedistal that they want to give themselves the biggest advantage the rules will allow… no matter how lopsided it may seem is one to praise and emulate, not bash.

The Yankees do what EVERY team should strive to do. Field the best possible team and never be satisfied… but always look to improve. THAT is how a winning organization builds Dynasties.

The Phillies don’t have the same winning tradition that the Yankees do. In fact they were the first ever continuous, one-name, one-city franchise in all of sports to lose 10,000 games. However, they were a team energized by an unexpected playoff run in 2007 when the Mets let a 7 game lead in the NL East to get away and the Phillies have strived to improve themselves ever since. They also were an organization that was smart enough to admit its own mistakes and weaknesses after the horrible decision to trade away Lee and have been trying everything to correct that mistake. Most organizations aren’t smart enough to do that.

For all of the people screaming about how unfair the Yankees “rich get richer” ways are… you need to realize that they are only doing what they SHOULD be doing. Other teams could do the same thing. The Mets, Dodgers, Red Sox, Angels, Braves, Cardinals, Orioles and Cubs all have major markets and the money to make simular moves, but except for the Red Sox and occasionally the Braves and Cards, most of them don’t on a regular basis. The Phillies seem to have entered that realm where they do what they have to do each year to make themselves better and put themselves in a great postion to just win.

That is what this should all be about people… these teams should be looking to do whatever they can to WIN. I don’t want to hear about money… any team should know… if you WIN, then the team will make money. You’ll sell out games because fans ALWAYS flock to a winner. Those sellouts will make a lot of money also on food, parking and merchandise. The more you win, the longer the fans will throw money at the teams to come to games.

I look at a franchise like the Mets… who HAVE spent money… they HAVE been willing to make moves… only the moves haven’t always been the right ones, and the last two years the team has NOT made a move that could push them over the top. Acquiring Roy Oswalt or Cliff Lee would have been a MAJOR boost for the Mets. This is a team that has given it’s fans two major collapses and a 92 loss season in the last three years. This year is quickly slipping away. The Mets need to make up its mind where they are going as a franchise because at this rate, it’s looking like a team not willing to do what it takes to step it up with the Yankees and Phillies, two teams its going to always have to square off against… and that’s just wrong. The Mets ownership and management need to take a long look at itself and make some serious decisions.

UPDATE: According to Jayson Stark of, Roy Oswalt plans to OK the deal that will send him to the Phillies. The Astros will receive J.A. Happ and two prospects in return. In addition Stark says, “The Astros will pay $11 million of the approximately $23 million Oswalt has guaranteed through 2011.” In other words, the Phillies are a much stronger team now people. I think the Mets are likely going to need to shift their thinking and look towards 2011 and how to improve the team to step it up and compete with solid looking Brave and Phillie teams.

This Might Be It

Last night, about 9:40 PM or so, things were looking up for the Mets. They had just scored four runs to complete a comeback from a 6-0 deficit and tie the Cardinals at 7-7. There was word that the talks between the Astros and Phillies were breaking down in the Roy Oswalt talks over money. They had won a very decisive victory the night before by blasting Adam Wainright. The light was showing at the end of the tunnel.

However, this IS the Mets we’re talking about, so three hours later everything was reversed. The Mets lost in the 13th inning, and the Phillies and Astros agreed upon a deal for Oswalt, only awaiting the pitcher’s waving of his no-trade clause.

So at this point, let’s assume that Oswalt agrees to the trade (which is not a given, but it would be an obvious bad P.R. move on his part if he rejected the trade) . That makes the Phillies a better team, having three pitchers you can honestly say are “upper tier” in their rotation. Halladay is just about the best pitcher in baseball. Oswalt is still pretty much a legit #1 (or at least a more than solid #2) and Cole Hamels is a solid #2. Even with the injuries to their position players, the Phils have been playing excellent baseball the last few weeks and this move would cement their re-emergance as a playoff contender. The Mets are 7 1/2 games behind the Braves (and 4 games behind the Phillies) in the NL East. They are 6 1/2 games behind the Giants for the Wild Card (with three teams betwen them). The 2-9 road trip pretty much killed them. Even a 5-6 road trip would have kept them in so much better shape. However at this point, does it make sense to expect them to suddenly rip off a 12-4 run and get back into things? While it’s not totally out of the question, it’s not a likely scenario.

The only real chance this team has is to rip off series wins against the Braves and Phillies next week. However, the way this team has played on the road this year, that is not looking very likely.

UPDATE: According to Jayson Stark of, Roy Oswalt plans to OK the deal that will send him to the Phillies. The Astros will receive J.A. Happ and two prospects in return. In addition Stark says, “The Astros will pay $11 million of the approximately $23 million Oswalt has guaranteed through 2011.” In other words, the Phillies are a much stronger team now people. I think the Mets are likely going to need to shift their thinking and look towards 2011 and how to improve the team to step it up and compete with solid looking Brave and Phillie teams.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Time to Drop Your Socks and Grab Your… Bats

Ok, the horrible 2-9 road trip is over. The trip where the Mets showed an insane inability to score runs is done.

The question is… are the Mets done as well?

Well here is where we’ll find out. The next three weeks will basically give us a fairly well indication of what to expect with this team for the rest of the season.

They will wrap up a three game set with St. Louis and look to avenge a pathetic sweep by the Arizona Diamondbacks this upcoming weekend. Then it’s gut check time. Six in a row on the road with the Braves and Phillies where the Mets can either pick up some needed ground or basically allow themselves to be pushed back out of reach of the NL East (and maybe even the Wildcard) contention.

After that it’s a three game set against the Rockies and then three games at home against the Phils.

After that the schedule gets much easier with ten out of the next thirteen against the Astros and Pirates… who are just about the two worst teams in the NL. By then, however, it may be too late.

While this six game series at home is quite important (anything less than a 4-2 homestand is going to be seen as a disaster) it’s those six games on the road in atlanta and Philadelphia that are going to loom large in everyone’s eyes.

A 3-3 trip will be considered a success. A 2-4 trip is what is going to be expected by the media and the fans. a 1-5 or 0-6 trip will likely kill this teams’ chances of playing meaningful games in September.

The question comes down to… can this team hit? The Pitching is NOT the question right now. R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana and Jon Neise all pitched great on the road trip. Mike Pelfrey’s last start was very good as well. The starting pitching hasn’t been an issue in this losing streak. It’s been the hitting. The Mets were shut out five times in a thirteen game span, scored only one run in another two games and two runs in another two games during that span. That means they scored two runs or less in nine out of thirteen games. That’s not a power outage… that’s a blackout of near fatal extremes.

Last night’s explosion against one of the best pitchers in the Majors was a nice sight, but what use is an 8-2 win last night if they lose 2-1 tonight? This team needs to stop swinging at everything and have a smart approach to the plate. More than anything else, Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay need to start living up to their contracts and superstar expectations.

It’s now or never. If they go 10 – 3 in the thirteen games they have in August against the Astros, Pirates and Marlins it won’t mean much if they go 4 – 8 against the Braves, Phillies and Rockies at the beginning of the month. It’s time to stand up and be counted gentlemen.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

In Total Disarray

The Mets, who surprised the baseball world with a spirited first half, have come out of the gate for the second half flatter than a pankcake having lost six of their first seven games. The problem, for the most part, has not been the pitching (except in one disasterous 13 – 2 loss on monday night) but has been the hitting, which is barely averaging 2 runs a game since coming out of the all-star break.

Jason Bay’s horrid hitting has continued, and with a injury to sparkplug Jose Reyes and the rust still on Carlos Beltran’s bat since coming off the DL last thursday the lack of offense is killing this team.

The problem is, how do you turn it around? Well, mostly there isn’t any sort of trades the Mets can do to get a big bat. The only real position the Mets could consider adding a player is at 2nd base, unless they decided to take a chance and trade Angel Pagan for someone like Adam Dunn for the outfield (which would likely be a big mistake).

All they can do right now is really hope that someone breaks out and starts to hit. David Wright has had a great season but he cannot maintain a hot bat the entire season. Ike Davis has been fairly solid and Angel Pagan has been even better, but the rest have been below average, especially as of late. Bay, Beltran, Reyes, Jeff Francour, Rod Barajas and whom ever is playing second base haven’t been hitting much at all since right before the all-star break. This will have to change, and frankly, it has to change in the next couple of days or the Mets are in even more trouble than the position they’ve put themselves in now.

Mainly, the Mets HAVE to have Bay and/or Beltran hit. Wright can only do so much himself, and as we’ve seen, when Wright feels he has to carry the burden himself he begins to press too hard at times. If the Mets are going to have any shot for the playoffs, they need their big bats to step it up.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Second Half Tib-bits for Yanks, Mets

Just a few interesting tib-bits of info for all the Yankee and Mets fans to keep in mind for the second half. These are not intended to imply anything, they are just conversation starters.

The Mets are 30-9 when Reyes Reyes scores a run this season. That means they are 18-32 when he doesn’t score a run. Think Reyes isn’t as valuable a Mets as there is?

Robinson Cano leads the Yankees in slugging percentage (.556) and OPS (.944) and is second in on-base percentage (.389) and home runs (16). In Prior years he hasn’t come close to the top in any of those catagories.

The Mets have a 18-25 road record after last night’s loss to the Giants, and that includes a 6-0 road record against the Indians and Orioles… which means they are only 12-25 aginst everyone else on the road.

The Yankees have a major league best record of 56-32, but that includes a record of 30-8 against the weak teams they have played (the Indians, Orioles A’s, Mariners, D-Backs and Astros) and are just 26-24 against everyone else. So far, the Yankees have a 7-6 against division rivals the Rays and Red Sox

The Mets haven’t played a single game yet this season against the weakest teams in the NL like the Pirates (30-58), D-Backs (34-55) or Astros (36-53), but the NL East leading Braves have played a combined 16 games against those opponents.

The Yankees have five more home games in the 2nd half then the Rays and Red Sox do, and seeing how good the Yanks home record is (28-13) that could make a difference in the pennant race.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

All-Star Puzzlement

The 2010 All-Star game will be remembered for a number of things… it came on the day that one of the largest figures in modern MLB history passed away in George Steinbrenner, it marked the end to a thirteen year drought for the National League, and it also might be remembered for the strange moves the managers made in a very close game that could have gone either way.

Both teams pitched very well, which shouldn’t be a huge surprise seeing the names on the rosters for the most part and noting that things like home runs and scoring are down this year overall. This is certainly looking like the year of the pitcher and the all-star game was no exception.

Both managers made some very weird choices (I’m not talking roster choices… I’ve bitched about that enough) though that made me puzzle why.

On the NL side, Charlie Manuel didn’t exactly surprise me when he named Ryan Howard to be the starting DH. I wouldn’t have made that same choice… it should have gone to Joey Votto, who is tearing up the NL like it’s his own personal batting cage… but since Howard is his guy, it’s not too much of a stretch to figure he’d put Howard in that role.

What really made no sense to me though, was that by the 5th inning, you had (arguely) the three best hitters already out of the game in Albert Pujlos, David Wright (who had two hits and a stolen base in the game) and Ryan Braun… but Howard was still in there until the 7th inning. Nepotism is one thing… but waiting until the 7th inning (and at that point the NL had been shut out) to finally get the hottest hitter in the NL into the game didn’t made a lot of sense. Either did putting Hong-Chih Kuo in the game to pitch the 5th with names like Adam Wainwright, Brian Wilson, Heath Bell and even his own Roy Halladay still in the bullpen.

On the AL side, every player got into the game except for A-Rod… and after Big Papi singled to lead off the 9th inning… wouldn’t it have made sense to pinch run for him? Of course he could have pinch hit for Beltre, but he had only come up in the 8th and had only played defense… however Ty Wigginton was pinch hit for with Nick Swisher after playing on one inning of defense and he didn’t get an at-bat (which I though was pretty unfair of Girardi to do to him) so it wouldn’t have been the first time he would have done that. Once he let Betre hit (and he struck out) you had John Buck up afterwards and you had to leave him in because he was the last catcher… I get that… but you had Ian Kinsler up after him and Vernon Wells up after that. Odds are you weren’t pinch hitting for either. What was Joe Girardi waiting for? The next obvious move would be A-Rod pinch hitting for Elvis Andrus (and A-Rod could have played short had the game gone on) but you had three batters before Andrus would be getting up. Of course, Buck hits a bloop single that Ortiz had to wait to see if it would be caught or not and OF Marlon Byrd made a spectacular play, by picking up the hit on one bounce, spinning and firing a bullet to 2nd, where he caught the slow Big Papi by a step. If it had been A-Rod, he would have been safe and it would have been 1st and 2nd with one out and the winning run at the plate.

All in all, it was a tight and exciting game with a lot of dominating pitching and good defense. However, to me, the game was a little marred by the weird decisions each manager made.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mid-Term Grades for Yanks, Mets

Tonight’s All-Star Game may not be the exact halfway point of the season (Technically we’re a bit past the mathematical halfway point) but since the break is considered the mid-point of the season let’s grade the New York teams in a number of catagories including offense, defense, starting pitching, bullpen, manager and overall standing.

Well get to the easier of the two first in the New York Yankees.


OFFENSE: If someone told you that Mark Teixeria would struggle for a decent amount of time and yet the Yanks would still towards the top of the AL in batting you might have been surprised, but with the emergance of Robbie Cano as a serious MVP Candidate and solid production from Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner and a fantastic last three weeks from A-Rod, the Yankees rank 7th overall in batting average and homeruns in the majors, 5th in hits and 2nd in runs batted in. While they have had a few small team wide slumps where they seem to struggle to score runs, it’s fairly rare and the team seems to be firing on all cylanders as of late. GRADE: A

DEFENSE: The main difference in this team’s defense the last two years is mainly at first base, where Teixeria is just about the best glove in MLB at this point. Not only does he have wide range, but scooping balls out of the dirt and catching errant throws is second nature to him. Cano and Jeter (his gold glove not withstanding) don’t have the best range and A-Rod has been known to over throw a bit but the defense has been fairly good for the most part. Gardner and Granderson both cover a lot of ground in the outfield and the less that Posada plays behind the plate, the better the catching is. GRADE: B+

STARTING PITCHING: It’s pretty hard to find any real fault with the Yankee starters, seeing as all of them have at least 7 wins and they have three with double figure wins, but even if you discount wins as a good measure of a starting pitchers worth, you only have to look at the stellar ERAs and WHIP of Pettitte, Hughes and Sabathia. Even with some uneven performances from Burnett and Vazquez, and the earlier season struggles of Sabathia the Yankees starters are excelling. GRADE: A

BULLPEN: If you were looking for a weak spot on this powerhouse team, this is it. Obviously the closer is not part of the problem. Mariano Riveria is still the best in the game and is more lights out than anyone in baseball. However, getting to him is not always the easiest thing. Their 4.24 bullpen ERA is 9th in the AL and poor performances from Chan Ho Park and David Robinson and very uneven seasons from Joba Chamberlain and Damaso Marte have been glaring. The starers have pitched quite deep into games which has helped, but besides Riveria, the bullpen hasn’t given much relief. GRADE: Rivera gets an A, everyone else gets a C-.

MANAGER: Joe Girardi reminds me a lot of guys like Tony LaRussa and Bobby Valentine where you know they are smart baseball men, but they always seem to feel the need to put their stamp on the game. I think Girardi over manages and makes some decisions that make you scratch your head. Despite how well he did with the Marlins and the fact the Yanks won the World Series last year I think he gets a little more credit for being a great manager than he deserves. However, he is in no way a BAD manager and he certainly knows his stuff for the most part. GRADE: B+.

OVERALL: The Yanks are pretty much where you expect them to be. In first place, best record in baseball and holding off a young, strong Rays team and the old rival Red Sox. It’s hard to imagine this team not holding on to the AL lead the rest of the year and barring injury, the odds are good to see them get back to the World Series. I’m not handing it to them, but Yankee fans should be feeling pretty good right now. OVERALL GRADE: A-

BIGGEST PLUSES: Robbie Cano, Phil Hughes, Brett Gardner, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, C.C. Sabathia

BIGGEST DISAPOINTMENTS: Nick Johnson, Joba Chamberlain, Chan Ho Park, David Roberson, Curtis Granderson, A.J. Burnett

FIRST HALF MVP: Tie: Robbie Cano and Phil Hughes


OFFENSE: Ok, They started the year without Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran (in fact they have yet to get Beltran back) and Jason Bay’s power has disapeard this year like David Wright’s did last year. Disaster, right? Not quite. Along with Wright’s leap back into the top of the NL as a hitter, Angel Pagan’s fantasic awakening as an everyday player, Ike Davis’ emergance is a saving grace and a catching tandem that actually can hit the ball, the Mets are in better shape offensively as anyone might have expected. While they aren’t blowing the doors off the barn every night and the team is prone to lineup wide slumps more often than you might like at times, they’ve hit enough to keep themselves in postiton to surprise and with the return of Beltran and hopeful that Bay will get more comfortable it will likely get better. GRADE: B-

DEFENSE: One thing this team can do is catch the ball, and by no means can you discount the smooth transaction that Davis has made into the major league level. Davis seems to scoop up everything thrown at him and is showing a range the Mets haven’t seen at 1st base since John Olerud in 1999. Wright has a great glove but his suspect throwing has been evened out by Davis, while Reyes and Castillo (and Tejada since Castillo’s DL stint) and been very solid. The outfield has looked great, showing they’ve learned the ins and outs of the spacious Citifield outfield and even Bay, who came with a rep for less than average defense has been above average. Barajas and Blanco have been fantastic behind the plate. GRADE: A

STARTING PITCHING: This was supposed to be the team’s main weakness, and only two weeks into the season it looked like it might be, but the absence of Oliver Perez and John Maine and the emergance of Jon Niese, R. A. Dickey, and Hisanori Takahashi along with the coming of age of Mike Pelfrey has seen the starting pitching be much more of a strength for this team. Johan Santana hit a small rough patch and Pelfrey has stuggled a little in the last three weeks, but no one can argue this rotation has been much better than expected. GRADE: B+

BULLPEN: It’s been a weird year for the Mets bullpen. For a large chunk of the season, they actually lead the majors in bullpen ERA. They have struggled at times, although I think that is as much as a by-product on some mis-management as anything else. K-Rod makes almost every appearance an adventure and that can wear on a team, but Pedro Feliciano has been great, and Bobby Parnell and Elmer Dessens have been solid enough. The bullpen has holes, but so do most teams. GRADE: B

MANAGER: Well, the “Fire Jerry” watch is gone, and the team is winning… but there is still something about the way Manuel handles the team that rubs me the wrong way. You cannot argue this team seems to like playing for him and responds to him enough to WANT to play for him, but his total mishandling of the bullpen scares me. Overall he’s not a disaster, but not the best manager in the NL either. However, holding this team together and seeing how they play hard and play much smarter baseball this year than the last few years gives me hope. GRADE: B-

OVERALL: Most people picked this team to finish 4th or last. The team has already exceeding hope for the first half in having a better record than the Phillies and being only 1 game out of a wild card spot at the all-star break. They are an enigmatic bunch. Who are the Mets? The team that went 13-4 against the AL (including strong teams like the Yankees, Twins and Tiger) and who have a good record against teams over .500 (28-22) or the team that has 10 walk off losses and a poor record in 1-run games (10-15)? Only the second half will tell, but if the Mets can get another starting pitcher and Beltran comes back and is Beltran, there is no reason this team cannot make the playoffs in 2010. OVERALL GRADE: B

BIGGEST PLUSES: Mike Pelfrey, Ike Davis, David Wright, Jose Reyes, Pedro Feliciano, Jon Niese, R.A Dickey

BIGGEST DISAPOINTMENTS: John Maine, Oliver Perez, Jason Bay, Mike Jacobs, Gary Mathews Jr., Fernando Tatis

FIRST HALF MVP: 3 way Tie: David Wright, Mike Pelfrey and Ike Davis

Friday, July 9, 2010

Yankees on Verge of Winning The World Series in July

Despite the amazing disapointment of New York basketball fans last night when LeBron James chose to head to Miami and join the Heat, a move came closer to happening about the same time that would pretty much send a ripple of glee through a large amount of New York baseball fans.

There are indications that the Yankees have stepped up their efforts to acquire LHP Cliff Lee from the Mariners in exchange for catching prospect Jesus Montero and at least two other prospects (possibly including 2nd baseman David Adams) and that the Mariners, who wanted to wait until after the All-Star break, suddenly want to move fast and were fairly close to making the deal.

This is a little bit of a surprise seeing that all we’ve heard is that it’ll take a few prospects and at least one major league ready player which seems to not be part of the discussed deal.

If the Yankees acquire Lee, it would give them a pitching rotation that pretty much eclipses anything any other team could dream of throwing. Lee, C.C. Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and A.J Burnett/Javy Vazquez suddenly becomes a team that has a rotation no worse than a #3 starters. It has two legit #1 pitchers in Lee and Sabathia, three legit #2 pitchers in Pettitte, Burnett (if he is himself) and Hughes, and with his resurgance into solid play the last month, a solid #3 in Vazquez .

It also makes the Yankees look unbeatable.

Of course there are obvious signs that Vazquez will be traded if Lee comes on board… but the strong rumor is him going to the Phillies for OF Jason Werth.

In other words, the Yankees could be literally adding the two best players available on the trade market.

For Yankee fans, this is amazing news. For the rest of baseball it mostly becomes time to start looking towards 2011 and hope that the two players don’t resign with the Yankees in the offseason.

As a Mets fan, it’s quite hard to look at this objectively, but it would be a windfall for the Yankees, who never seem to let this sort of oppertunity pass them by. The move is smart and, barring unforseen issues such as injury, pretty much ensures a world series appearance (and likely victory). For them, it’s almost a no-brainer.

But is it good for baseball in itself? Of course you’ll have many people screaming about the rich getting richer… and the Yankees ARE the perfect picture of that for sure… but it’s hard to kill a team for doing what they SHOULD be doing… and that is putting the best team, on the field to win.

I cannot imagine a team overcoming a rotation like that. Lee and Sabathia ALONE would be daunting… but add in how fantastic Pettitte and Hughes have been this year and it’s just unreal.

So if this happens, congratulations to the Yankees for bowling over Major League baseball and grabbing for the trophy three months before any actual games are played for it.

But just wait till 2011.

Oh wait… that’s right… both Lee and Werth could sign with the Yanks then.

Um… just wait till 2015!!!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Should The Yankees Have Pulled The Plug On Cano?

Despite all of the inane hoopla with Joe Girardi and the AL All-Star selections, one thing is for sure… Robbie Cano more than deserves to be the starting 2nd baseman.

Making his first all-star team is a thrill enough, especially as a starter… but Cano was looking to really get a charge out of the experiance and participate in the Home Run Derby, which is a lot of hype and a lot of fun for everyone. Cano was excited to do it and looked very forward to it.

That is, until the Yankees removed him from the Derby… without his knowledge.

The All-Star Home Run Derby gets a lot of attention… not only because of the hype surrounding it, but because of the ongoing theory that many participants (especially winners) screw up their swings for the second half after it. Whether this is true or not is pretty inconclusive, seeing that some have had 2nd half droughts (Bobby Abreu, Josh Hamilton for example) and other’s have had not (Prince Fielder, Jason Giambi for example).

Cano found out last night he was no longer participating when reporters looking for a quote to how he felt being scratched from the Derby surrounded him.

Cano told ESPN New York: “To be honest, I was upset,” Cano said. “You guys are talking to me and I don’t know what is going on.”

So while it was reported that Cano pulled out of the Derby due to some minor lower-back pain, Cano confirmed he did NOT pull himself out, and it seems the Yankees did it for him.

The Yankees are notorious for not wanting their players to participate in the Homerun Derby… A-Rod being the most glaring of omissions. He has not been in a home run derby since joining the Yankees in 2004.

So now, they are using the “back pain” issue as the reason they took their 2nd basemen out of the derby without his knowledge, something that seems to have disapointed Cano greatly.

It seems to me that Cano suddenly having a back issue after being healthy all year is quite convienant. While I understand the Yankees can hardly risk losing Cano for an time, they cannot really expect anyone to believe this is the real reason. If they were THAT concernd about his back then why would Cano be playing in the game at all? Wouldn’t they want him to get the four days rest like Mariano Rivera is doing if there was really a back issue?

I think the Yankees just don’t trust Cano to not screw up his swing like others may (or may not) have done in the past after being in the derby. Looking back on his perceived lack of maturity in the oast, their fear may be founded… however removing him from something he so obviously wanted to be in and without him being part of the decision is wrong. The lack of communication is something you’d expect from the Mets.

In any case, what do you think? Should Cano have been left to his own devices? Did the Yankees make the right move? Was the whole thing bungled?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bad Choices Abound in All-Star Roster Selections

You know, you can excuse the fan votes to an extent. I mean, anyone who picks up a ballot can cast a vote and a lot of players get votes when they are not as deserving due to their popularity or name reconition. However, when the MANAGERS and the PLAYERS get it so wrong, you just want to throw up your hands and wonder what in God’s name were they smoking.

This years All-Star selections are no exception. Some seriously boneheaded picks were made by Joe Girardi and Charlie Manuel as well as the players voting in their peers on Sunday.

Starting with the American League, we have two players picked by their own Manager in a move that screams nepotism. C.C. Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez make the roster despite fairly lackluster numbers, leaving such names as Jered Weaver or Fransisco Linerano and Alex Rios off the roster. Hell, even Andy Pettite was much more deserving than Sabathia was. With Cano, Jeter, Hughes and Rivera all on the team and deserving, the Yankees were MORE than represented. Putting those two on was ridiculous. Sabathia is likely to be taken off the roster since he is due to start on Sunday, but please take into account that 4 of his 10 wins are against the incrediabally bad Baltimore Orioles and Sabathia has obviously struggled this year. Is he having a BAD year? No. Is he having a better year than Pettite, Verlander, Weaver or Liriano? Not in the least.

In the National League Omar Infante, Ryan Howard, Arthur Rhodes and Roy Halladay made the roster, despite Infante not even being a starting player on his own team, and Halliday having a won loss record of 9-7, leaving Mike Pelfrey, Joey Votto, Heath Bell and Mat Latos off the roster. If Manuel needed to get a Phillie on the roster due to the loss of Utely to the DL, at least pick Jason Werth, who is MUCH more deserving than Howard this year. As for Halladay, no matter how great he is, his season has NOT been as good as Pelfrey’s or Latos’.

The choice of Infante must be one of the worst selections almost ever for an all-star team. It’s not like he was the only choice to be had from a bad team. Jason Heyward, Martin Prado and Tim Hudson all are on the roster (although Hudson is ANOTHER one who’s numbers don’t stack up to Pelfrey’s) from the Braves. It just doesn’t make any sense. In fact, his obvious problem with the Mets seems to honestly made him go out of his way to make sure he didn’t select Pelfry on the roster, since most of the pitchers on the NL roster are NOT having seasons better than Pelfrey.

Bad job as well as obvious hometeam picking for the two managers here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Mets have viable ROY candidates

Going into the 2010 season, a lot of noise was made about the emergance of the Braves’ Jason Heyward, and the noise was well deserving. Heyward has proven himself to be ready for the majors for the most part and had a very impressive start to his major league career. After just the first week or two of the season, many figured he’d be a shoo-in for the National League 2010 Rookie of the Year.

Heyward had a rather rough June though, and since has wound up on the disabled list. This has opened up the field a bit more.

Of course, many people feel that the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg is the hot choice for that honor, but despite looking amazing since he’s come up, he still only has 2 wins, and is likely to only make anywhere from 11 to 12 more starts, meaning the odds of winning more than like 10 games isn’t very good. If he goes 11-1 with an ERA around 1.29 well I think it’ll be hard to ignore him, but if he goes say 8-3 with a 2.79 ERA for the season he’ll get some votes but not enough to win.

So where does that leave the NL group? Well, The Marlins’ Gaby Sanchez and The Cardinals’ Jamie Garcia are both excellent candidates, but the Mets have two players in Ike Davis and Jon Niese that will get some looks and if they continue to play at the level they are playing, and could start to gain some steam in the discussion.

First off, let’s take a look at the numbers for Davis and Heyward (who many considered a no-brainer for ROY honors). These numbers were as of Wednesday:



Pretty simular numbers there. In fact, they’re almost exactly the same when you factor in the 13 odd at bat difference.

Niese is just as strong as someone like Jamie Garcia. Compare these stats:



Garcia has better stats, but Niese is close enough that depending on the 2nd half of the season those numbers can become better than Garcias.

The Mets season has been a pleasant surprise for many and a lot of people credit Davis for playing a huge part. He stabilzed the infield defense, has become the teams clean-up hitter, has made the needed adjustments as the season has gone on and has shown a tremendous amount of maturity. Niese has helped create a Mets’ starting rotation, that was considered a total mess, that is a major strength. Both have made some noise and both figure to have a shot in where the ROY vote goes at the end of the season.