Power Depletion

The Mets offense was shut down for the third time this week, this time it wasn’t against a Cy Young award winner, but Doug Davis. We can lose Jose Valentin for a while, no big deal. Moises Alou goes down? Well we expected that, and we’ve got a bunch of outfield prospects we want to play with, and it’s always nice to get Endy Chavez some regular time. Shawn Green’s going on the DL? Well maybe one of these prospects actually gets hot for a while, or David Newhan prospers with some regular starts like Jose Valentin did last year. Carlos Beltran bruised his knee? Well now it’s starting to look a little darker. Our offense was very depleted this weekend, but we never made it easy. Oliver Perez and John Maine both pitched well to start, but ultimately fell off the pace before the opposing pitcher did. The Mets failed to work counts to try to get into the bullpen to find somebody hittable, and they weren’t able to capitalize on most of the few situations that presented themselves. Still, 35-20 is a great record.

The weekend can basically be summed up by the 8th inning on Sunday. The Mets had four regulars playing; Reyes walked, Wright singles, and Lo Duca walked. This shows how the Mets regular offense can manage to get on base, while the rest of the fill-ins couldn’t get them home.

Now lets get to the optimism. The Mets pitched very well. John Maine and Oliver Perez kept them in games, which is what we’ve wanted out of them. Maine’s been showing that ability all season, while Perez has a couple of meltdowns that were problematic. Him being able to stay in the game, even after some struggles is important And then there is Jorge Sosa. What a great year he’s having after not making the team. He had one poor start, which is probably the only thing that’ll keep him from winning pitcher of the month for May. The real question, while way too premature, is what happens when Pedro returns? I know the Mets signed Aaron Sele to a minor league contract, but I have no idea if that means he’s able to be optioned down to New Orleans if they wanted to switch Sosa into that role when Pedro returned. Fortunately, it’s a good problem to have, and it’s Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph’s problem to deal with. Another consideration is to shop Sosa around, but I don’t know that the Mets have any glaring holes that are desperate for filling. Getting some minor league depth in pitching or second base is always nice, but it’s not a priority or urgency in any way.

Beltran will be back Tuesday, hopefully Alou will be too. Valentin will also be back before long. It seems clear that Carlos Gomez is going down, and at least Newhan or Ben Johnson. It would also appear that Ruben Gotay will go down when Valentin returns, as you can only have so many back-up infielder bench guys, and we all know that Franco’s not going anywhere. Once the lineup starts coming back together, I expect the Mets to put together a real win streak, where they go out and dominate the competition.

I probably won’t be at Shea for the Philly series, despite being at over a third of the Met home games this season, which means my 13th Met game probably won’t be until June 23rd as part of my Saturday pack. Going three weeks without being at a game almost feels weird with the rate I’ve been in attendance over the past two years.

How I Got Kicked Out of Shea Stadium

How I Got Kicked Out Of Shea Stadium

I didn’t cause trouble, start a fight, have any alcohol, berate Barry Bonds, a Yankee fan, or anybody at all. I didn’t interrupt the game, distract anyone or make a nuisance, yet when me and my friend moved our seats in the 8th inning of Thursday night’s Met game we were kicked out, and not just of the seats, or the level, but of the whole stadium. Now I’m not saying that I belonged there, or I had any right to be where I was, but the idea that me and my friend sitting down in a seat was in any way a security concern that necessitating escorting us out of the building.

Only ticketed fans are allowed in the field level seats, but everyone is allowed in for batting practice. Since the majority of ticket holders in the field level are often corporate boxes and owned by businesses rather than fans, there are always a ton of extra seats, more so then any other sold out section. We’re not alone in doing this, I routinely hear and see other people who have stayed in the level from batting practice and fill one of these empty seats. Sure it’s a little unfair that we paid $9 for the seat and the people legitimately buying those seats paid $60+, but we’re not taking away anything from them. I’m not exactly rolling in money at the moment, but the Mets are one of those luxury’s that I’m willing to spend money on. Between me and friend we probably spend $2000 last year on the Mets, which is a lot of money for us, even if it’s nothing to the Mets. We’re mini-season plan holders this year, we support the team, good and bad. We’re not trying to put one over on the Mets, we’re just trying to enjoy the game.

We sat out in the outfield where we were hanging out for batting practice, hoping to catch a foul ball that sliced into the seats, or a ball tossed from the Mets in right field. Later on we moved to some seats near middle of the level, behind the Mets dugout. In the 8th inning, a lot of people got up to leave, so we walked down to one of these sections, 6 rows from the field, figuring it’s not often you can even buy these seats if you wanted to, it’s a nice view. We sat down and a security guard came over and sat across from me, and asked for my ticket. I responded that we’d just leave. I was thinking “Busted, oh well, no big deal, I’ll wander away and watch the game from somewhere else.” He continued to ignore everything I said and kept asking for my ticket, so I finally caved and gave it to him, thinking maybe he just wanted to make sure I didn’t sneak into the stadium or something. Eventually he asks us to get up and come with him, so we get up and go with him, escorted by 10 other security guys at the end of the aisle and they keep pointed and telling us to walk that way, instead of leading us anywhere. They’re rude and nasty the whole time as my friend tries to ask them what the big deal is and what they want from us. They walk us to Gate D, and push us out, telling the guy posted there not to let us back in, keeping my ticket in the process.

What bothers me most is that we obviously weren’t causing trouble, and once the game was over we’d have been allowed there anyway to try to get autographs behind the dugout. Although I have noticed a security guard standing on the dugout after a game be really nasty to a bunch of 12 year old kids hoping to find a Met walking out of the dugout after the game for an autograph. Then there was the clincher last year, when me and my friend waited in the crowd to try to buy a shirt after the game. It was slow, and the place was mobbed. As it ebbed, the security guards repeatedly tried to get people to leave get out. It’s understandable that they just wanted people out so they could finish up and go home, but at the time they were doing this was when the Mets were coming back on the field to celebrate with the fans that were on the field level and had stuck around. So a couple of fans up on the mezzanine weren’t what was keeping them from locking up the stadium.

Obviously this isn’t going to change anything for me, they don’t know who I am and I doubt they’ll really recognize me when I walk back into the stadium Saturday. It’s just a souring experience for the first time I’ve ever left a Met game before it was over, and what I take away from the experience is sad. I’ll remember next time not to respect the security guys, I’ll just walk away from him immediately and head back to my seat, or watch the game from a different location. This situation will be moot in 2009 anyway, when standing room only seats and the layout of the stadium won’t have a designated area where we’re not allowed.

Walk Off Balk? Almost..

Where oh where did my little Brave go?

I have a message to Giant fans. “Get rid of Armando.” It’s good for at least two wins for your team. The only way last night could’ve been better is if Joe Smith didn’t throw that wild pitch and the Giants didn’t score that run on no hits in the top of the inning. Then we could’ve won the game on a walk-off Balk. The Mets have been finding different ways to walk-off, and that certainly would’ve been a memorable one. Drag-bunts, walks and home runs are nice too though.

Two home runs for Delgado again. He’s back, although as he said in his post game interview, he never went anywhere. Now if we could only get David Wright to put together a hot streak, his batting average is upsettingly low. Although to me he’s been showing some good signs, looking a little better. I don’t think it’s a case of anyone figuring him out, or him not being as good as he looked in the past, it’s just some struggles, he’ll get there. I’m as confident in that as I was that Delgado would show up again.

One thing that bothers me is pinch-hitting for Gomez with Julio Franco. I guess I shouldn’t complain because Franco did what he needed, which was place one up the middle that was grabbed in an awesome play by Vizquel, but I’d much rather have Gomez. I understand that a lot of it’s about ‘taking your lumps’ and the rookies don’t get to bat 4th, and get pinch hit for, but Franco? Bleh.

In the comments of Metsradamus‘s blog entry about this game, someone mentioned that Gotay and Reyes were doing some sort of hex thing at Russ Ortiz? I’d love to see a clip of this or something more descriptive. That kind of excites me, I love seeing stuff like that. I actually miss(figuratively since I’m not old enough to remember) the days when players used to stand in the dugout shouting stuff at the opposing pitcher. Do you know how many pitchers nowadays who could get rattled by that? It would be great. I expect the reason it’s fallen out of style is how much baseball has seemed to develop into a fraternity. Baseball players generally don’t hate the guys on the other team, they see themselves part of the same group of people, peers not opponents. Couple this with all the changing teams most players do, and these guys were once they’re teammates and friends. Could you see Glavine shouting stuff at Smoltz? If he did, it’d be totally friendly, and a joke.

Mota returns today, and I hate that he was rewarded with a new contract. I hope the only reason he was good last year wasn’t steroids. I’m not going to cheer him when he arrives, but I hope as penance he gives up a home run to Bonds, as long as it’s inconsequential. After that I hope he’s lights out, although I do like A. Burgos, who got sent down for him, and he seems better than Scott Schoeneweis. Only time will tell.

Good Signs/Bad Signs

When worry over the Mets ability to beat the Braves resurfaced recently with them dropping the series in Atlanta, I didn’t panic. I’m still convinced Atlanta’s not a great team, nowhere near as good as the Mets, and it’s just coincidence that they’ve played badly when we’ve faced them. Call it a let down from the Yankee series or whatever you want, but they can’t win them all. Two days later and the Mets are already further in front then they were before they faced them, so they can just keep winning series and widening the distance.

When the Braves get into a funk, it’s different then when the Mets do. The Braves have now lost three of their last four series, and sure they’ve run into some teams playing well, and some teams that are just good, but when a good team would still be able to beat the Nationals when they’re playing well. The Phillies on the other hand, haven’t been playing that well and recently lost their second closer of the season in Brett Myers.

So again, I’m not worried. To reinforce my not-worryingness, some good signs came out of this series with the Marlins. Carlos Delgado remembered how to hit the ball, hard. Jose Reyes had some hard hits, and was robbed by Miguel Cabrera. David Wright didn’t get hits, but he did get three walks with no strikeouts, and finally John Maine started pitching pretty well again. He did walk some people, but I think he’s making a case that May, not April, was the aberration.

Of course, there were bad signs too. Shawn Green and Carlos Gomez hurting themselves would be up there. Gomez was fun to watch, but even if his injury’s minor, you’re not going to keep a guy with that much speed up in the majors with a hamstring pull. There has been a lot of calls for Shawn Green’s head, mainly because of his defense, and Endy Chavez should continue to get a lot of playing time, especially before Moises Alou returns in the near future. David Newhan will be getting some more chances to prove he’s valuable here, with a couple of starts. Otherwise it’s likely we may see Ben Johnson from New Orleans up here in the near future. Hopefully Newhan can come through, Shawn Green and Moises Alou were big parts of the Mets offense, and even though they can get by without them, it’s never good to lose that production. Hopefully Endy Chavez and David Newhan can have some good games and some consistency as the Mets continue trying to widen their lead in the NL East.

Subway Series to Atlanta

There isn’t that much of importance to say in regards to this weekend. The Mets missed out on the sweep, but they secured another series win. The Yankees look disastrous, although Tyler Clippard grabbed one of the shovels the Mets were using to bury them to excavate his team a bit. Not bad for a MLB debut. The Empire State Building will still be orange and blue tonight to display the Mets victory, and the Mets go to Atlanta 2.5 up, while the Yankees welcome in the Red Sox 10.5 back.

The overall series was pretty tame in terms of fan craziness in the stands. Sunday night picked up a bit with the Yankees in the lead and some actual fighting in the stands. I’m not sure what it is about Sunday nights, but it seems to bring out the drunken rowdy fan. I know the two or three guys sitting behind me were horrible. They didn’t shut up the entire game, chanting and yelling at the Yankees. I’m sure I would’ve despised them even more had they not been Met fans, but they were ignorant stupid Met fans, which are the worst kind. The kind I suppose I should get used to as the ignorant stupid band-wagon Yankee fans come over to Shea.

Even though some Mets struggled, John Maine, Carlos Beltran, Delgado, Green, and Scott Schoeneweis among them, it didn’t really affect them. One player who I still don’t like, despite some big home runs, is Damion Easley. Something just bothers me about the guy, particularly his defense. He seems to get to a lot of balls, but struggles to get it where it needs to go, and struggles with double plays.

A lot of talk has started to pop up about the possibility of Carlos Delgado being injured, or not fully recovered anyway. If this is the case, it’s becoming too much of a problem and he needs to do something about it. If he needs some days off, just needs to take it easy, or maybe some physical therapy he needs to get it. Of course, I don’t necessarily want to see Julio Franco there. I don’t imagine this will happen, but seeing Shawn Green there and Gomez in right fight wouldn’t be a bad thing.

I turned down the opportunity to go down to Atlanta for this series. The prospect of a 13 hour car trip was a little too much for me to handle, so I decided to just sit it out and root for them on tv. I get to enough games at Shea, and I fully intend on making to it Washington and Philadelphia to see them this year.

I still feel like the Mets have a power streak in them. They’ve had a good 7-3 homestand, but that wasn’t quite as strong as it could’ve been. Atlanta’s already 2.5 back, and with a nice push this week they’ll be 3.5 back and the Mets can hopefully put one of these streaks together in the summer to lengthen the distance.

Subway Momentum

332-332. The all-time series against the Cubs is now officially tied. It wasn’t looking like that heading into the bottom of the 9th, the Mets down 5-1 and the Cubs closer Ryan Dempster on the mound. And as anyone reading this certainly knows already, a couple of hits some walks and another couple of hits gets the Mets the walk-off 6-5 win on a Carlos Delgado single past the second baseman.

A terrific way to steal one, as Delgado put it later, and some great momentum leading into a crazy Yankee series and then the opportunity to beat up on the Braves. The Yankees on the other hand seem to be coming in under the train instead of driving it. Anyone that’s been watching these games would have to be silly to think the Yankees are going to win this weekend. Now anything can happen, and this is probably the first time the Yankees are coming to Shea where they’re actually underdogs. They could lose two of three and really all people could say is they lost to a better team. The Yankees don’t even know who’s going to pitch for them on Sunday. Actually I just heard they’re pitching Tyler Clippard, 22, who is 3-2 with a 2.72 ERA for AAA Scranton.

It was a great game to be present for, and a great start to four consecutive visits to Shea, as I’ll be in attendance for all three subway series games. I’m 3-4 at Shea this year so far, 4-4 for home teams including my visit to Dolphin Stadium. This was one of the best of the season. I was at Opening Day which was great too, but the come from behind walk-offs are something special. The Mets basically conceded the game before it started, Jason Vargas making his first start, and the Mets rested everyone but Delgado and Green. It didn’t matter, Vargas didn’t pitch that badly except for one inning and I think he should get another start, and Gotay came through in a big spot twice, as well as some other players getting some key hits for a big win. It’s wins like this that are the difference between a good 92-94 win team and a great 97-100+ win team.

Interleague Play Draws Near: Command?

Good clean 8-1 win with Jorge Sosa pitching wonderfully nets the Mets the best record in the National League for the time being. The game started at roughly 10:10 and finished at just before 1am. Certainly sounds like a typical west coast start time for the Mets, but it was a home game delayed by rain instead.

Interleague play, Love it or hate it, seems like it’s here to stay. There is a lot of debate about it’s pluses and minuses, discussions about how unfair the scheduling is and about how it’s an abomination. Another draw back was made apparent in tonight’s Mets/Cubs game, one that actually affects the fans. With the extra 15-18 baseball games thrown in against the opposing league the Mets see teams like the Cubs and Cardinals who have long been rivals of the Mets, less. If the Cubs were returning to Shea, waiting out a 3-hour rain delay would’ve been less necessary and the game may have been canceled early and a make up scheduled. However that’s not the case; the Cubs play their last game at Shea for the year(although I did pick the Mets over the Cubs in the NLCS, so they could still come back, just not in the regular season) later today and then fly back to Chicago. So the fans sit through a rain delay, the players sit through a rain delay, and the game is played late. The Mets did award anyone with tickets to yesterdays game a free ticket to the Minnesota series, which is nice but besides the point.

While I both like the idea of seeing the different teams, especially in cities where there aren’t two teams like in New York, I personally think it might be a bit much. It ruins a certain flavor of the World Series match-ups too. The World Series is about the best team from each league, going head to head to see which is the best in the ‘World’.(If Bobby Valentine got his way, they’d then go on to play the best team from Japan) Four times in the 10 year history of interleague play has the World Series featured two teams who played each other in the regular season; 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2006. It wasn’t so much two teams pitted against each other as a rematch of a regular season series. The fans didn’t get to ooo and ahhh at the opposing teams stars, as they’d already seen them.

That being said, I’ll still enjoy this weekends games against the Yankees. I’ll be at all three games, screaming at the Yankees and their fans. I’ve even got 6 extra tickets that I need to get rid of at cost for Sunday night’s game. Hopefully I can find someone to take them and not be out that money. If you’re interested, let me know.

One final thought; A lot was made about the American League’s dominance over the National league in Interleague play and over Trevor Hoffman in the All-Star game. I would argue that the Cardinals came through when it mattered, and that’s how you truly determine who’s better. What else is the World Series for right? I think the Interleague games will be more split this year, and I predict the National League will finally win the All-Star game and home field, hopefully at Shea Stadium.

Best team in what now?

Good strong game today by the Mets. The whole game, specifically the 8th inning had the feeling of

“Hey Brewers, look what we can do.”

“Wait, we’re not done. Look what else we can do.”

Good Brews

I was in attendance for the Saturday game against the Milwaukee Brewers. I have a Saturday season plan, so I’m always in attendance for the Saturday games. Today the Brewers just looked good. The Mets were a bit sloppy, Pelfrey’s unseasoned and Ben Sheets pitched pretty well.

I know they didn’t play as well Friday night, but seeing them in person I was impressed. From Tony Gwynn throwing out David Wright at second on his hit off the wall, to the crazy antics of the fourth inning where Prince Fielder popped into a sacrifice double play. 4-2-6-3-6. Gotay drifting back makes the catch in shallow right, and has no momentum on his throw home to get the tagged runner. I wonder if Shawn Green should’ve called him off and made that play? On the throw J.J. Hardy attempts to goto second, and Lo Duca grabs the too late, and way off line throw and guns it to Reyes, who now has Hardy in a rundown. However in the 6-3-6 rundown somehow they forget about the other runner, who scores from second. Sure it sloppy of the Mets to let it happen, but it was also sharp of the Brewers to capitalize on that. J.J. Hardy hit a grand slam, and also made a great catch in the bottom of the 9th of a lopsided game to end it. J.J. Hardy looks like the Freddy Sanchez of this year.

Joe Smith and Pedro Feliciano finally shed their 0 eras after that, and any chance of a Met comeback just faded. At least it didn’t come in a situation where they blew the game, and now we can stop worrying every time they come out that they’re due to give up some runs. Feliciano actually got out of the jam Aaron Sele got in in the 6th very nicely. 1 pitch double play, and then another out 3 pitches later.

It’d be nice to win today, not lose another series and hint to the Brewers that they just might not be the best team in the National League. The Braves play against Ian Snell today, who I just picked up in a fantasy league and I think they’ll be losing. I’m still sticking to my prediction that the Mets are going to click one of these next couple of days and go on a tear that takes both the Yankees and the Braves in their wake.

Time to get hot

In last nights game both Wright and Delgado had hits. RBI hits. Big hits. Delgado hit a home run into the water, and Wright has the 2-run double that gave the Mets the lead. Off Armando Benitez too. Gee, didn’t see that coming? A lot has been made about Wright’s lack of home runs, and while he should be hitting more, he’s not a power hitter. He claims that himself, and if you look back, a lot of his big hits are just that, hits or doubles into the gaps or down the line or over Johnny Damon’s head. He has his share of big home runs too, but he doesn’t go up there swinging for the fences, knowing a 2-run double can be just as important. I don’t think there is any reason to worry about David Wright, haircut or not.

They secured the game last night, getting runs when they needed it. However, we still feel like we’re waiting for them to click, but when you look at the record, it’s not like they’re struggling. Sure it’s not as strong a start as last year, when we’d only lost one series to this point and already had a huge division lead, but we didn’t think it would be this year. Despite the 21-12 record, it’s apparent the Mets have another level that they haven’t yet reached. The 5-2 road trip was good, but it wasn’t dominating. Remember that west coast trip the Mets went on last year? Where they basically scored in the first inning every day and just didn’t lose? I’m sure they have a streak in them like that this year. And maybe it’s coming. As we saw when games went from meaningless spring to grudge match against the Cardinals, the Mets can find strength in playing tougher teams. The Brewers and Cubs and Yankees are all coming up, all pretty good teams. 10 game homestand, where they haven’t yet played well, only going 7 and 7 in their first 14 games at home. This looks like as good a time as any to go on a tear. 8-2 or 9-1 homestand asserting their dominance of two of the better teams in the National League and one of the best in the American?

The season’s starting to really get going, and It’s time for the Mets to make their move and gain some distance from the Braves.