Heating Up In The Desert

By now I’m sure everyone knows about how great the Mets play in Arizona. Maybe if they moved their spring training camp, like the Dodgers will do next year, they’d play better in the spring too.

Easley came through again Thursday night, to take back the lead in the top of the 9th. Wins like that are so invigorating. David Wright kept the inning going with a 3-run home run of his own, and Billy Wagner probably didn’t know whether to cheer or cry. I’m sure he wanted that save. He got his 6th last night, giving up a walk but getting a nice double play. For the first time in May Wright didn’t get a hit, and facing the reigning Cy Young award winner Brandon Webb might cool Wright off before he has a chance to really get going. I doubt it though, I expect David’s starting to remember how to really smack the ball, and someone’s gotta keep this streak against the Diamondbacks alive tomorrow, so why not him?

Randy Johnson looked mediocre yesterday, and you wonder when he’ll finally realize he’s no longer the dominant pitcher he once was and retire. Of course he’s young and spry compared to Julio Franco, who had both a stolen base and a home run yesterday. It’s obvious he can still play, but I worry that the long season will wear him down, as it appeared to do last year. Luckily the bench with Chavez, Newhan and Easley as well as Franco seems like it will fare much better this year. Add the possibility of players like Ben Johnson, Ruben Gotay and Lastings Milledge to the mix and they’re looking good.

The Mets don’t play any really bad teams in May, the Giants and Cubs being more dangerous than their record suggests and the Marlins having enough young talent that you never know how they’re going to look. A lot of people think the Braves are going to stick around all year, and it’ll be interesting to see as this month progresses if anyone pulls away a little. The Mets will visit Turner Field after playing the Yankees this month, and that might be the time to start making that move. We know June may just be one of the toughest scheduled months in baseball, which them meeting six of the seven playoff teams from last year. Putting together a streak here in May would go a long way to keeping Atlanta at bay, whether or not they fall of the pace. After losing four of six to the Braves, if it’s still this close on May 22nd, I expect the Mets to reassert who’s the team to beat in the National League (East).

Injuries, but things may be picking up

May 03, 2007 12:32 PM

Two days into May, and David Wright has 5 hits with a home run. John Maine and Jose Reyes win April awards, first time both awards have been won by the Mets since 1985. Joe Smith is still pitching good, and Ruben Gotay pitched in with an RBI Wednesday filling in for Valentin.

Sure the injuries to Orlando Hernandez and Jose Valentin aren’t going to be easy to overcome, but Pelfrey finally started pitching well after the first inning Tuesday, and John Maine and Oliver Perez have been terrific. With Wright starting to hit again, and Delgado hopefully on the horizon as he starts to be more selective and get more walks, the loss of Valentin for a bit isn’t a big deal; especially since he was the 8th batter on this team. I saw some of Gotay in spring training, and his defense is good, and Easley should be fine there too. The two biggest issues right now are Aaron Heilman, who just isn’t pitching well, and the errors. This team has been playing a little sloppy as of late, and it needs to stop. I don’t know if Heilman will give over his struggles, or maybe scouting reports have caught up to him. Maybe Joe Smith nipping at his 8th inning job will motivate him.

I was at yesterday’s Mets game, and I think the theme of the game was probably “Past a diving Uggla”. All in all it was a good game, despite the two errors from Wright. They could’ve capitalized with some more key hits, but they got the win, had a three run lead through the last couple of innings, and Wagner got his 5th save without much problems.

Minimizing the damage while slumping

Apr 30, 2007 11:19 AM

Teams slump. This is a known fact; the season is 162 games long and no one stays hot for that entire time. Some immortals come close, but as a team it’s hard to always string together hits, always pitch well and always play well. They’re only human after all.

Good teams still win. The Mets are a good team, and despite the lackluster hitting this weekend they won two out of three. Obviously the Washington Nationals aren’t the cream of the crop, but they’re still professionals. They’re still going to win at least 50 times this year. Saturday night, even down 2-1 in the ninth against a closer that has previous been great against them, they managed to scratch out a run to tie it. Even after Moises Alou erased David Wright by grounding into a double play; a rally killer if I ever saw one, and with Cordero only needing one out to seal the deal, the Mets get that run across. Once they pushed it to extra innings, even being on the road you just had the feeling that the Mets weren’t letting this game get away. They didn’t, they put up the best offense of the whole series in that 12th inning to win 6-2, with Billy Wagner closing it out, probably silently wishing they could’ve scored one less so he could have a save.

The Mets helped him out the next day, or more precisely, John Maine helped him out by keeping the Nationals from scoring. A brilliant performance by Maine highlights what just may be the most reassuring part of the Mets this season. Everyone that thinks, or thought the Mets weren’t going as far this year as last cited the starting pitching as the reason. John Maine is putting them to shame with the way he is pitching, and putting Baltimore to shame too, for letting him get away.

The baseball season is a grind, and what makes champions is being able to minimize the damage when you’re down, and capitalize when you’re up. So far this year the Mets seem to be doing that. Despite the minuses from this weekend, namely Jose Valentin, Aaron Heilman and Orlando Hernandez, the Mets showed me plenty to be optimistic about.

Walk Off Drag Bunt

Apr 25, 2007 11:20 AM

Four words that you don’t hear very often. They certainly don’t have the poetic nature of walk off grand slam, or bases clearing double. Baseball games never seize to amaze, even after over a century of play. When Reyes made out without sacrificing Green in, Mets fans were just pleading with Endy to hit one solidly, or bloop one into the outfield. When he laid down that beautiful beautiful bunt just past the pitcher, it was such a shock that you waited for the replay just because it was a “You can’t believe your eyes” type scenario. Like the wild pitch that got the Mets into a do-or-die game against the Reds in 1999, it’s exciting to win in different ways. Sure it’s fun to out-slug the opponents every game, but it’s games like this that are truly memorable. It also make opponents wary, in the same way having Jose Reyes on the bases makes pitchers wary. You never know what’s going to happen. Maybe next time the opponents remember Chavez, and don’t play as far back; and then someone bloops on right over the infielders to land just beyond their reach.

The Mets have a winning attitude, and they’re have that drive, that desire to find a way to beat you. They can find the flaws in your defense, the one bad pitch in the 30 you throw, the hole in the infield that you’re overshift exposes, or the weak arm in your outfield. When they find this things, they know how to extract runs and wins from them. That attitude and ability is what is going to enable the Mets to go far this year.

11.11% into the season, and the Mets are on top

Apr 24, 2007 11:42 AM

The Mets are 12-6 after 18 games. They’re in first place. They’ve nearly got the best record in baseball. This sounds a lot like 2006, despite the miniscule half game lead. John Maine’s surprising with his good pitching, Heilman’s struggling in some spots, people are wonder when and if Lastings Milledge will be the everyday outfielder, and plenty of so-called experts are trumping up the Braves as one of the teams to beat to win the division.

I do worry about the range of the corner outfielders, but they’re both hitting very well. If Milledge was slotted in, we’d almost have to trade one of them, and who knows what we could get. I trust Omar Minaya, and I wonder if he’s shopping Milledge around at all. They can’t keep implying that next year Milledge will be the starting outfielder forever. Personally I’d rather have kept Cliff Floyd around than Alou if we weren’t going to play Milledge. There are other outfield prospects in the Mets system that they’re proud of, and it might be beneficial to get something out of Milledge now while his value’s still high off his torrid spring ; he’s not doing so bad in New Orleans either.

On the other hand, Jorge Sosa, Jason Vargas and Philip Humber are all doing pretty good down there too, and especially coupled with how the Mets starters are doing I’m not even sure where the biggest weakness is yet. Rather than trading someone now for someone that may or may not be a key for later, It’s probably a better bet to see what doesn’t hold up for the whole season and fix it then.

I still hear a lot of negativity from Mets fans, and with a winning percentage of .667 there is really little more you could hope for. Delgado and Wright have one home run between them in the middle of the order and they’re still winning. With the exception of one cold start, Oliver Perez has looked good since game 7 last year and Maine is more then we could’ve hoped for. There are three guys with good era’s waiting in the wings and the excitement when Pedro returns, even if it’s three months from now, is going to be great. I expect to be seeing a World Series game in person this year.

Back In First

Apr 14, 2007 12:19 AM

Sure they’re technically tied for first, but it’s first nonetheless. I have a feeling this might be the closest any team gets for the rest of the season. The Mets are playing all division games for the next week, and I expect them to heat up with the weather. Expect to see some home runs when the Mets visit Philadelphia on Monday. I would not be surprised if the Mets hit seven in the two days, including two by David Wright.

Enough predictions, I’ll be out at Shea for my third game tomorrow, seeing John Maine pitch again. He had a little bit of control problems on Monday, and with the slightly warmer weather tomorrow, 51degrees, I expect him to have a little better grip. I’m thinking 7-2 Mets. Oops, i thought I was done with predictions.

David Wright swiped his third base of the season last night. He stole 20 last year, and right now is on pace for 48. I doubt he’ll reach that, but with Beltran looking to steal more this year too, you’ve got spots one, three and five in the batting order that look to be pesky and distract the pitchers. I’m sure this was one of the considerations Willie was thinking of when he thought about batting Wright second.

I’d love to see both Reyes and Wright one day be 30-30 players. How awesome would that be?

The First Stumble

Apr 12, 2007 05:03 PM

The Mets are now 5-3, two games out of first and one day removed from Oliver Perez’s Walk-a-thon. The pessimists are all pointing and saying “See? How are we going to compete with starts like this?”, but I’m not panicking. Perez pitched well in game 7 under pressure, he pitched well in the spring and in his first outing this year. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and blame this on the cold. Maine’s situation was similar, he struggled with his control, but he kept it manageable. This was a lot like how he pitched last year; struggling and then getting out of it. I have confidence that they’ll both improve over the course of the season. It will be interesting to see how Pelfrey does on Friday, but I think he’s ready to make an impact. The Mets bats started out well, but now they seem to have lost that groove, but only fools think that they’re suddenly not going to be able to hit. Atlanta won’t stay this hot, and the Mets are not going to struggle like this for long. If anything can get the Mets hitting going strong, it’s the upcoming series against Washington Nationals pitching.

That Home Run Swing

Apr 09, 2007 12:46 AM

David Wright’s power numbers were down the second half of last season and he’s off to a little bit of a rough start this year. However, one thing I’m tired of hearing about is the Home Run Derby and how it messed up his swing. This is not an exclusive argument to Wright and has been applied to many players. Obviously the biggest detractor from the argument is to look at how the Derby champion, Ryan Howard, did afterwards. His swing certainly didn’t look messed up.

I find it really hard to believe that a professional hitter, which is what all of the participants of the Derby are, can be messed up by a couple of hours of extracurricular fun. Why do those 50 or so swings have a bigger effect then the dozens more a player does between the derby and his next regular season game. At the very least he’s got the All-Star Game and any warm-up associated with that, plus batting practice of the next game after the break. Besides the hours of batting practice Wright and other such players had for the last 80 games or so, there is also a hitting coach and 24 other players (Okay, more like 12 other hitters) on the team that can help out if his swing looks a little off.

So does the Home Run Derby actually affect a player’s power numbers for the second half of the season or is it just another stat anomaly that people read too much into? My bet’s on the latter.

Mets Sweep Out the Spring Training Rust

Apr 04, 2007 11:02 PM

The Mets finished out the sweep of the World Champion Cardinals. They played very sound baseball, and John Maine pitched magnificently. If he pitches this well all season, there is little doubt that all the worries about the Mets rotation were short-sighted. Alternatively the Cardinals looked horrible. They scored two runs, in three games. They made errors, and the bullpen exploded. The Mets will definitely face stiffer competition this year, but it’s nothing this team can’t handle. They seem to be in mid-season form.

And it begins

Apr 02, 2007 02:06 PM

The Mets played wonderfully last night. There were some blips here and there, and some nice plays to get them out of trouble too. Watching them play like a continuation of 2006 and nothing like this past March just reaffirms how I feel about them taking this division. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them be the first team to clinch a spot in the playoffs again this year.

Willie Randolph is a big part of that. Even when I disagree with his moves, I can see what he’s thinking and understand it. I love that he continues to put Wagner out there in non-save situations, challenging him to be ready always. He won’t be surprised again to come into a four run game and blow it. I also like that he’s open to change, experimenting with David Wright batting second in the spring. I really like Joe Smith, think he could be a big part of the team this year, and it was great to see Willie put him in last night where he could get his feet wet.

The season continues, A-Rod’s already made an error and struck out with runners in scoring position. Hopefully the Mets will continue to make news so that we don’t have to listen to the jibes about A-Rod and if he will opt out of his contract all year.