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.

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.

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).