Friday, May 26, 2006

The Jeremi Gonzalez Era Is Over

One day after acquiring Dave Williams from Cincinnati, Omar Minaya has shipped off Jeremi Gonzalez to Milwaukee for right-handed relief pitcher Mike Adams. Adams only made two appearances for Milwaukee early this season (both rather lousy) before being demoted to AAA, but the 27 yr. old had a decent spring and an excellent 2004. Last season he spent most of the year at AAA after he lost the job of closer to Derek Turnbow in May. He appeared in just 13 games posting a 2.70 ERA

Pitching Probables for this weekend's series vs. Florida:

Tonight: Pedro Martinez vs. 22 yr. old rookie Josh Johnson. Johnson went 12-5 last season in AAA. In his minor league career he also pitched down here in Greensboro in 2003 (A-ball).

Saturday: Tom Glavine vs Dontrelle Willis

Sunday: Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez makes his Mets debut vs. 23 yr. old rookie Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco is making his third start of the season (14th appearance overall). He's got a 2.89 ERA and has struck out 19 batters in 28 innings against 27 hits and 11 walks. Opposing batters are hitting .262 against him.

Transplanted Ex-Mets Update

Edgardo Alfonzo has signed a minor-league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, after having been given his unconditional release by the California Angels last week. Alfonzo was batting just .100 for the Angels, and will attempt to prove he's capable of being every day player for Toronto on their AA club. If he does well, the Blue Jays plan to promote Alfonzo to the big-league club and move their second baseman Aaron Hill over to shortstop.

In his most recent start for Baltimore, Kris Benson lasted just two innings, allowing seven runs (six earned), taking the loss as Seattle bested Baltimore 7-4.

Preston Wilson went 4 for 5 and scored two runs yesterday in a losing effort for Houston against Washington. Somehow, the Nationals managed to take three straight from the Astros, and have won five of their last six. The finale of the four game set was notable because manager Frank Robinson had to pull his third string catcher from the game after Matthew LeCroy made two errors and allowed seven stolen bases in less than seven innings.

Speaking of catchers with throwing problems, Mike Piazza had two RBI singles, both times driving in Mike Cameron, but also allowed four stolen bases against him, as the Braves beat the Padres Wednesday, 10-6. For the Braves, Todd Pratt had an RBI single of his own.

Finally, Matt Cerrone has a post about a couple of transplanted ex-Mets the Mets will see this weekend, 1B Mike Jacobs and RHP Yusmeiro Petit.

Meet The Mets, Indeed

At my desk yesterday afternoon I got to strap on some headphones while I worked, and listen to the Mets play the Phillies. Schmuck & his Lap Dog manned the radio booth for the game, and while they were laughable at times (Russo screaming first, describing the action later; Francessa yammering back to his boothmate, Dawg, in the thickest NY accent possible) it was admittedly a neat gimmick and I wouldn't mind if they reprised it once a year or something like that. Unfortunately the game they called was a bit of a letdown. The Mets declined to step on the Phillies neck, and the sweep that coulda happened, didn't. But here's the good news:

On May 8th, I wrote that the next fifteen games would tell us everything we needed to know about tme 2006 Mets. Six games vs. Philly, and three each against the Yankees, Cardinals and Brewers. On that date, the Mets were 21-10 (nine games over .500), with a four game lead over the second place Philles.

Now, on May 26th, fifteen games later, the Mets have a 28-18 record (ten games over .500), and a four game lead over the second place Phillies.

Schedule-wise, the Mets don't have a tougher stretch for the rest of the season than the one just finished. There is a nine-game stretch at the end of June against the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Yankees, but that's five weeks out and now is now.

And now we have to look at the state of the Mets. Honestly my biggest concern isn't the second and third place teams. My concern is still the rotation, and specifically the rotation's impact on the bullpen. The Mets bullpen might be the best in baseball, but the rotation is averaging under six innings per game, and have pitched just 263 innings so far this season (ranked 23rd out of 30). We seriously need an innings-eater or two in this rotation, or the arms of our relievers may literally fall off by August. I'm sure Omar is aware of this, but his two trades don't exactly address this. Acquiring one pitcher who's got a 7.20 ERA in 8 starts (40 innings pitched) and another who's probably older than Julio Franco and sports a 6.11 ERA means our bullpen will continue to be taxed. Maybe Soler will turn out to be a horse?

The confidence of Mets fans should be at a very high level right now. The Mets themselves should settle for nothing less than a sweep of the Marlins this weekend. It's time to start stepping on some necks.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Cuban Import Alays Mets Rotation Concerns

Alay Soler made Elian Gonzalez, Cuba, and Mets fans everywhere very proud yesterday in his gutsy Major League debut. The only question I had was what were the Mets waiting for? Not only does Soler have good stuff, with a nice variety of pitches to keep hitters guessing, but he has a lot of cojones too. There's a lot of pitchers who would have absolutely folded after walking the first three batters of a game, and allowing three runners to score befor recording an out. But Soler bucked up and pitched a strong six innings. I think he probably should have started the seventh as well, but willie's overuse of the bullpen is a subject for another day. Today is a day to be glad we have a starter who showed he has the stuff and makeup to compete at this level. And Soler's got personality to boot! Concerns about the rotation have to be dramatically assuaged at this point, regardless of which El Duque shows up on Sunday. It was a tremendous win for the Mets, though I must admit I watched a lot of it during commercial breaks of the season finale of Lost (holy mackerel what a finale!).

The Mets send Jeremi Gonzalez to the hill this afternoon to try and complete a sweep of the Phils. The Phillies, meanwhile, have Brett Myers (2-2, 2.75 ERA) trying to be the stopper. Don't forget to listen to this afternoon's broadcast - Schmuck & His Lap Dog are doing the play-by-play and color commenary on WFAN and's Gameday Audio.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Mets Make Trade - El Duque To Return To NY

I was all set to write a post about tonight's starter - Cuban defector Alay Soler making his major league debut, and I planned to include anecdotes about past Cubans in New York, notably Rey Ordonez and Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez. Whenever El Duque would struggle for the Yankees, I would taunt my friends who were Yankees fans that it was because he was still distraught over the Elian Gonzalez fiasco. Now we had our own Cuban pitcher, and I was all set to receive a call from my buddy Willlater tonight if Soler struggled. "Elian! Elian!"

But now El Duque is a Met - The Mets traded Jorge Julio to Arizona for El Duque himself! Ed Coleman just announced it on Mike and the Mad Dog - Francessa and Russo acted as though this was an absolute steal by Minaya. "Why would Arizona make this deal?" wondered Russo. Apparently just because he used to pitch for the Yankees, this a tremendous acquisition. Of course it's really no surprise that the duo have no concept of what's going on outside of New York. As Matt Cerrone points out, Hernandez is 2–4 this season with a 6.11 ERA. He's allowed six runs or more in four of his nine starts.

As a Mets fan we can't really hate this deal. The Mets were desperate for a starter, Julio stinks, and if you told me at the end of the World Series last year that the Mets would trade Kris Benson for El Duque, I would think it was a pretty good deal.

Although now the Mets have two starters to cry over Elian...

Deep Into The Night! Mets Win It!

This weekend my wife had a bit of a sit-down with me, saying that my daily, five-hour affair with the Mets was draining on her. I assured her that she was exaggerating, because Mets games usually didn't even go past 3 and a half hours. I knew why it seemed like five hours, though. Before each game I would spend forty-five minutes reading blogs, ESPN, and anywhere else I could get info, then I'd watch part of the pregame, the game, and after the game I'd spend time blogging, reading other blogs, and when all was said and done I'm sure the total time approached five hours. I promised her I'd cut back on the pre-and post- game rituals, and find a way to make the Mets games less intrusive on our marriage.

One part of my plan was a feature on SNY called Mets Fast Forward. They condense a three hour game into a one hour program. It usually airs at 5 am, but if I TiVo it I can watch a game the next morning in about forty-five minutes by skipping past commercials, etc.

Last night I watched the first few inning of the game, live, long enough to see David Wright's homer and to see that Trachsel wasn't terrific. I then left the set to record and watched a movie, Match Point, with my wife. Match Point was an enjoyable, but long movie. Once it was over we got ready for bed, and I planned on getting up early to watch the condensed game, but before I could go to sleep the curiosity got the best of me and I went to the computer to check the score. I was very surprised to see on that the game was still going on, and that it was 8-8 in the ninth, with a comeback rally capped by a Jose Reyes homerun. I briefly considered going to bed anyway, but really there was no way I was going to miss what happened.

Aside from Beltran's shot, it was worth staying up late to hear an exhausted Gary Cohen screw up a call in the 14th inning. Clif Floyd hit a ball to center that didn't even reach the warning track and Gary called it like it was a game-winner. Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez were howling, making fun of him. It was so funny, and I doubt it made the Mets Fast Forward show.

I finally stumbled to bed at around 12:30, thrilled I got to see Beltran's game-winning shot. Gary Cohen's call was perfect, as usual, and in total, the game lasted five and half hours, proving my wife right yet again.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mets Look To Put Philly Out To Pasture

The Mets start a three game series tonight at home against second-place Philadelphia. If the Phillies have any aspirations of catching the Mets, this series may be their first best shot, as the Phils will miss the two big guns of the Mets rotation, and instead will face Trachsel, Jeremi Gonzalez, and Cuban defector Alay Soler, who is making his major league debut Thursday. The Phillies are three games out heading into the series, and will send Gavin Floyd, rookie Cole Hamels, and Jon Lieber to the hill. Of course, these games are only numbers four through six of the eighteen total games the teams will play against each other, so there's plenty of time whichever way it goes.

Don't forget to listen to Gameday Audio on Thursday, to hear Mike and The Mad Dog do the play by play. Mike Francessa thinks he's a good play by play guy, but everytime I've heard him "call" a game that the two nitwits are watching on TV in the studio, he sounds like a stammering wannabe who serves only to suck all the emotion and drama out of the action while getting his jollies over hearing the sound of his own voice. I look forward to Thursday to find more things to make fun of the duo about.

Bob Raissman reminded me of another comment made during the weekend by the esteemed ESPN crew that had me muttering obscenities at the television set.

Describing David Wright's Sunday night blast, ESPN's Jon Miller said: "Over everything. ... out into the streets of New York." Didn't know Fred (Skill Sets) Wilpon repaved Shea parking lot with Lexington Ave.

Exactly. Most viewers around the country probably had no idea that this was a gaffe, but New Yorkers and transplants like me had to be shaking our collective heads at the screen. I'm guessing Big Shot Miller never looks outside the windows of his limo that just drops him off at the Shea press gate.

Transplanted Ex-Mets Update: Seo, Long

Jae Seo outdueled Byung Hyun Kim in the Battle of the Koreans, going seven innings and allowing just a single run off six hits, as the Dodgers beat the Rockies, 6-1.

Terrence Long (remember him?), called up by the Yankees to help out in the outfield

yesterday, went 0 for 4 and flied out to end the game and a Yankees rally in a 9-5 loss. Long was originally drafted by the Mets but was traded to Oakland in 1999 for Kenny Rogers. Long was a Rookie of the Year candidate for the A's in 2000 but his career has kind of faded since then.

Must Read Of The Day - Metstradamus's Quarter-season grades

Monday, May 22, 2006

Ed Kranepool Has Moved

Check out The Eddie Kranepool Society's new digs at

Kranepool is a must-read. My friends and I often send each other our favorite quotes from the blog, like this one from last month:

With no Larry Jones in the line up the guy you have to key on is Andruw Jones. Jones has a tough time with Zambrano as Zambrano's breaking ball gives him fits. So instead of going with a steady diet of breaking pitches against Jones, Zambrano tries to put a fastball by him, which is like trying to get pie a la mode past Mike Francessa.

It's Fun To Win

I've read a lot of players, ex-players, managers, and bloggers say recently that interleague play has run its course and it's now time to move on. That these regular season Mets vs. Yankees games have lost their luster, especially since the 2000 World Series. Well, folks, I hate to break it to you, but these games aren't going anywhere. Despite the truth that it's unfair for the Mets and Yankees to play an inordinate amount of games against each other compared to the other teams in their division, who may get extra games against the bottom feeders, these games are here to stay because neither George Steinbrenner nor Fred Wilpon will want to give up these guaranteed sell-outs. And do you know why all six games are sold out, with the stadiums filled to Standing Room Only capacity? Because they're fun.

These games are edge-of-the-seat, teeth-clenching, heart-pounding FUN. And yes, while it hurts to lose them even more than it feels good to win them, these mid-summer games are all mid-summer classics and I love it. Except when the Mets lose, of course. Then I hate them.

The real downside of these games for me, is that they are broadcast nationally on FOX and ESPN. Even though as a Transplanted Mets Fan having the games on the national feed makes it easier for me to watch them, I'd much prefer listening to announcers who actually watch the team on a daily basis. The FOX Saturday broadcast was especially excrutiating to watch in this regard. The announcers, Tim McCarver and Joe Buck, were absolutely clueless about what's been going on with the team. They actually criticized the Seo/Sanchez deal during the broadcast! I was sitting, screaming at the set countless times during the game. And this was before Billy Wagner's meltdown.

Sunday on ESPN, while the announcers seemed a bit more knowledgeable, they had me cringing at the horrendous interviews. Joe Morgan's spot with David Wright was pointless, but the in-dougout spot with Willie Randolph was atrocious. Here you have a spot with a manager, in the game following one where a couple questionable decisions led to a loss, and the two clowns in the booth threw him nothing but softballs. Did they ask Willie why he didn't leave Sanchez in to start the ninth? Or why he left Wagner in the game so long even though it was apparent he had no command? Noooooo... These were the type of hard-hitting questions they asked...

"How tough was that loss last night?

"And your rotation isn't where you'd like it to be, right?"

Finally, the last question they asked had a bit of merit. They asked him if Billy Wagner might be used later in the game. Willie said absolutely, which was interesting because Joe Torre said Mariano absolutely wouldn't be, after pitching two consecutive games.

This is the same feeling I get during postseason games. The commentary would be so much more insightful if a local guy was on the broadcast. Gary Cohen for example could have brought so much insight to the broadcast. He at least could have pointed out that the Mets payroll is LOWER than it was last season, and LOWER than it has been in recent seasons which included guys like Mo Vaughn on the team. If I were part of the decision makers at FOX or ESPN, I would make sure to include a local guy in the booth for all postseason games.

Another reason to hate the ESPN game is that it starts just too damn late. Sunday night at 8:10 is just too late to start a game. I barely was able to stay awake for Billy Wagner's ninth-innning save, in the old-school 1986 style uniform.

Transplanted Ex-Met Update:
Edgardo Alfonzo Unemployed
Thanks to Vinny for the link that brings us the news that Fonzie has been released by the Angels. Like Vinny, Alfonzo was my favorite Met during his tenure with the club. A real class act, and a truly selfish soldier. He was never quite the same player after his ridiculous offensive outburst that day in Houston, but many mets fans were sad to see him move on. Hopefully he'll wind up somewhere where he can resurrect his career.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Alay Soler To Pitch Wednesday Vs. Phillies -
Pelfrey Stays in AA

What can be said about last night's meltdown against the Junkees? There was no reason to take Sanchez out of the game. But to sum things up, the Yankee's Sandman stunk on Friday, and the Met's Sandman stunk yesterday. Pedro gets screwed out of another win.

After Mike Pelfrey stunk it up in his latest start for the B-Mets, the Mets have decided to use Cuban defector Alay Soler to plug a hole in their rotation. Soler will make his major league debut on Wednesday against Philly, while Jeremi Gonzalez will get another start, Thursdsay, as the Mets desperately hope for someone to step it up.