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.

Cone Heads! (well not quite)

So as I’m sure you’re all aware, the Mets all shaved their heads last night.
Well not all, and what’s your excuse Aaron Heilman?

Then they came out and battered Matt Cain quickly, in what seemed like five minutes they scored three runs, and then a fourth. Sure you’d like them to have added some more, but they secured the win, a 3-run handicap was plenty for Glavine who himself secured career win number 294, and I’ve actively started considering being there for 300. Runs in the first inning, a vintage 2006 win. Sometime soon we’re going to see the Reyes single followed by a quick Wright home-run. 2-0 with the other team thinking, “Wait, we started the game already?”

I love that these Mets love to play together, and can get behind some team bonding activities. It’s a friendly activity that keeps everyone friendly and happy. Being part of the team is important, it helps you shake off tough losses, struggle through slumps, and just plain learn from the experiences of the other 24 guys. It’s one of those invaluable traits of the 2007 Mets that few people take into account when making predictions and projections.

The Mets are still looking to “click on all cylinders” and I think this was one of their ways of trying to get in sync. Still, the Mets have a 20-12 record, and are tied for first place. Atlanta’s just barely hanging on, despite beating the Mets four of six. What will happen when the Mets do click? I expect one day we’re going to wake up to find the Mets comfortably in first, and the Brave fans quietly calculating Wild Card standings.

Obligatory Roger Clemens Post

As Mike Pelfrey struggles in the first inning, the return of Roger Clemens is eminent. He announced it during the Yankee game, from George Steinbrenner’s box. Can this guy do anything without drama? In his YES interview shortly after he’s talking about things like how some of the Yankees don’t have World Series rings yet, about the parade after they win, and about how he’s been pushing himself and will push himself hard to return quickly. He says he’s going to try for the end of May, or June 1st as his return date. June 1st just happens to be a Friday night game in Fenway Park.

One of these years the wheels are going to come off, and he’s just not going to be that good. Note that he’s switching back to the American League and this very well could be the year. A lot of the moves George Steinbrenner makes to ‘fix’ the Yankees on his own don’t always work out quite the way a Yankee fan would hope. Could the idea of Roger Clemens being around keep Cashman from signing someone else around the trade deadline that could help them more?

On a clubhouse cohesion note, Clemens will supposedly be afforded the same travel schedule he enjoyed in Houston. There is often talk of the drawbacks of a 24 and 1 clubhouse, but with the Yankees it seems to be a lot of 22 and 1 and 1 and 1. Will him not being present for big road series, or being in Houston for big home games, keep him from really meshing with his teammates? There are a lot of Yankees that weren’t around the last time he was, and what kind of example does it set? Does this motivate any free agents the Yankees try to sign in the off season to not only try to get more money out of the Yankees, but other perks as well? Roger Clemens claims his return is all about his new teammates and winning a World Series, but that’s probably a lot of public relations bullshit.

Only time can truly tell, but I’m going to predict that Roger goes 4-3 with a 4.52 ERA. I will probably be way off, but predicting he’s going to go 8-1 with a 2.3 ERA and win the World Series MVP just isn’t as satisfying, and goes against my Optimistic Mets standpoint.

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.