Thursday, April 17, 2008

Week 3 update plus guest contributions!

The Mets' young season has been filled with the highest of highs (Angel Pagan drives in Jose Reyes in the 12th inning) and the lowest of lows (Kelly Johnson's grand slam off Jorge Sosa in Atlanta...I hate the freakin' Braves). Pedro was injured in his first start (but might be back sooner than projected) and Mike Pelfrey has outperformed Johan Santana!

The bottom line is that the Mets have appeared to have turned a corner in this series with the Nationals. While it might not seem like anything major has happened (other than two good wins), there have been several positives that the diehard Mets fans have noticed. First of all, the Mets re-discovered their power last night, clubbing three home runs. Second, their "questionable" bullpen has been great of late...particularly young righty Joe Smith and crafty veteran Scott Schoeneweis. Third, Duaner Sanchez pitched in an MLB game for the first time in almost two years and pitched quite well, allowing a hit in one inning of work. Last, and most certainly not least, it seems like Willie Randolph might actually be figuring out how to use the bullpen the right way (ex: Using Schoeneweis against only lefties and Smith against righties, not leaving his starters in too long, etc).

I had mentioned in the past that guest contributions were always welcome to my site, and my friend METS_LEGIONS from has taken it upon himself to analyze the performance of the Mets young starters so far this year, particularly Mike "BIG COUNTRY" Pelfrey and John "The Gamer" Maine.


Both times Pelfrey has started, the Mets were coming off multi-game losing streaks. Before his first start, we all had that feeling of impending doom looming in the pits of our stomachs, "Oh shit, BIG COUNTRY's first start against the Phillies after a three game losing streak? Are the naysayers right or will Pelfrey deliver?" Pelfrey stepped up and tossed five innings of two-run ball while looking like a young ace in the process.

And then on Tuesday, with the Mets coming off two bad losses to the Brewers, BIG COUNTRY throws an absolute gem. No one expected him to string together two straight W's. Pelfrey would silence all who doubted him by throwing seven innings of shutout baseball. You can't ask for anything more than that. Many groundball outs, a few swinging strikeouts, and filthy movement on his fastball made Pelfrey and the Mets look great.

Both times the Mets have needed BIG COUNTRY to stop the bleeding, and both times he exceeded expectations. His line so far is:

2-0, 1.50 ERA, 12 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K

Then last night, John "The Gamer" Maine goes 6.2 innings, collected his first win with support from the same bullpen that spoiled his stellar effort on April 10 against the Phillies. After back-to-back two out walks in the seventh inning, Willie Randolph summoned righty-specialist Joe Smith from the bullpen. Smith caught Ryan Zimmerman looking with a filthy fastball on the outside corner. After a perfect 8th from Smith, Billy Wagner entered and set down the Nats in order to nail down the 5-2 win.

If the Mets are going to go deep into the postseason this year (hell, if they even plan on getting to the postseason), pitching will be the key to their success.

Today, Nelson Figueroa will take the mound and looks to write another chapter in the feel-good story of the year as the Mets go for a sweep of the Nationals at Shea. The revitalized offense will hopefully continue to provide run support for our pitching. This weekend the Mets travel to Philadelphia and are eager to make a statement against our arch-rivals. Massacring the Phillies this weekend would be a small step towards redeeming ourselves from last year's collapse.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Mets season begins! Pedro injured...

The Mets began their season by winning two out of three games in Miami and outscoring the Marlins 24-7. In game one, Johan Santana threw a gem, scattering 3 hits over 7 innings while striking out 8. Most of the lineup looked great--with the exception of Carlos Delgado. Delgado went 0-3 in the opener and looked befuddled when at-bat. David Wright and Jose Reyes combined for four hits and four RBIs. Also, they were each caught stealing (although Wright was safe). Carlos Beltran had two doubles and looked great at the plate.

In game two, Pedro Martinez was immediately roughed up and gave up four runs over 3.1 innings. He had to be pulled from the game after finishing awkwardly on a pitch, and had an MRI today. The diagnosis is a mildly strained hamstring, and Pedro is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. He and Moises Alou are due back at about the same time, sometime in early May. Brian Schneider went 3-4, but the Mets went on to lose the game in extra innings after Robert Andino ripped a Matt Wise change-up into the left field seats. The final score was 5-4, and I threw things.

In the third game, it was all Mets as they stomped the Marlins by a score of 13-0. David Wright and Ryan Church both went 3-5 with a home run. Carlos Delgado, Angel Pagan, and Luis Castillo each had two hits. Carlos Beltran had 3 doubles. Oliver Perez went 6 strong innings, striking out eight while only walking one. Nelson Figueroa, who has taken Pedro's roster spot, threw a perfect seventh, and the Mets kicked ass all night long.

Pedro's injury is a big deal but have no fear, Mets fans. We came within a game of the postseason last year with a less potent offense and without Johan. The way I see it, we ended up trading Tom ".1 IP, 7 ER" Glavine for Johan "I am the best pitcher in the world" Santana. Don't worry about it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Successful start for Johan, Pedro to pitch tomorrow

Johan Santana's second start for the Mets was far more successful than his first, which is certainly encouraging. His changeup was as lethal as it's always been as he struck out four in three innings of work. He allowed one run on two hits, one of which was nothing more than a seeing-eye single up the middle. Steven Register, the Mets Rule V draft pick out of the Rockies system, also pitched two innings of shutout ball. Scott Schoeneweis threw a great inning, striking out two and not allowing any baserunners. Fernando Martinez went 2-3 with a double, raising his spring average to .300. Anderson Hernandez also went 3-5 with a double, and the Mets knocked off the Dodgers 3-2.

Pedro Martinez is supposed to be making his first spring start tomorrow night against the Nationals at the Nationals spring training complex in Viera. I will be flying home for spring break during his start, so I won't be able to see it. Damn it.

In more unfortunate news, Moises Alou is going to be out for 4-6 weeks because of a hernia that was picked up today in his MRI. This is the most recent of the numerous injuries suffered by the Mets since the beginning of spring training, and is probably the most damaging. Carlos Delgado will probably be back in the lineup by this weekend after resting his injured hip, and Luis Castillo is due back within the next week or so. There's no word on Beltran, but the general consensus is that he will be back by the end of next week. Juan Padilla threw an inning today for the first time in almost two years, and gave up an unearned run along with two hits.

Even with all of their injuries, spring training has not been all bad for the Mets. With today's win, they improve their record to 5-3. A number of younger Mets have been playing out of their minds during spring training so far, the most noteworthy of which has been Angel Pagan. Pagan was picked up from the Cubs during the offseason, and although drafted by the Mets originally, he never sniffed the big leagues in his brief stint here before. In today's game, Pagan went 1-2 with a walk and pushed his spring average up to .429. Pagan came into camp in better shape than all of the other players who donned a Mets uniform, and demonstrated his dominance by winning a fitness competition held by the Mets early in camp.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Johan shelled in spring debut

The big story today for the Mets was the spring training debut of Johan Santana. Johan only went 2 innings for the Mets (which is custom for starting pitchers in spring training) and gave up three earned, all of which came on a Juan Gonzalez (yes, that Juan Gonzalez) home run in the top of the first. Juan Gone crushed a high Santana fastball and immediately put the Mets in a hole.

Not to be outdone, the Mets scratched out two runs of their own in the bottom half of the first. David Wright singled home Jose Reyes and an error by Aaron Miles scored Brady Clark. The Mets tied the game in the bottom of the third on an RBI single from Jose Reyes, which plated Angel Pagan.

But, that's the closest the Mets would come to leading as an Albert Pujols home run in the top of the fifth off of Duaner Sanchez put the Cardinals ahead for good. Sanchez did look pretty good though, and after he gave up the home run to Pujols he settled down and got out of the inning.

In the top of the ninth, Fernando Martinez made a great diving catch (look for it on Sportscenter) but Eddie Kunz still allowed a run on a sacrifice fly. In the bottom half of the inning, Ruben Gotay turned on an inside fastball and cranked it out, bringing the Mets within one. That was all of the comeback the Mets had in them though, and the final score was 5-4 Cardinals.

I'm not worried about Santana getting knocked around because he was quite obviously just trying to throw strikes and a few got away from him. His fastball velocity, which is normally between 93 and 95 MPH, was hovering at only about 90 or 91. Once Opening Day rolls around, I think he'll be in good shape.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Spring training begins!

The 2008 season is officially underway! The Mets have played three spring training games so far (tie with the University of Michigan, loss to the Tigers, loss to the Cardinals) and although their 0-2-1 record is nothing to be proud of, their regulars have looked promising so far. David Wright homered in the tie against Michigan, Jose Reyes is tearing up the basepaths, and young stud Fernando Martinez looks to be on track for success.

Some old updates...Duaner Sanchez reported to camp about 25 pounds lighter than what he was last year at this point and has reportedly impressed Willie Randolph with his work ethic and his desire to get back on the right track...Joe Smith is a "longshot" to make the team and will probably start the season in AAA. I like this move because Smith was pretty awful in the second half of last year and could probably use some time in the minors to shake off the rust...Juan Padilla (see: 2005 season) has come back from two major surgeries and is really looking forward to facing some live hitters. The catcher he was throwing to early in camp said he looked "awesome" so that's a good sign...John Maine got lit up by the Cardinals today, allowing 3 runs in 1.2 IP...Johan makes his first start as a Met tomorrow, facing the Cardinals again. This game is scheduled for a 1:10 start and is supposed to be on SNY and

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Santana's contract extended, trade becomes official

Johan Santana and the Mets agreed on a 6 year contract extension worth about $150 million. He will be making more money each year than the previous year, and there is an option for the 2014 season worth $25 million, with a $5.5 million buyout. It's an easily obtainable option, so chances are it will be exercised.

In order for the option to be picked up, Santana would have to do one of the following:

• Win one Cy Young Award and finish in top three of Cy Young Award voting one other year
Or finish in the top three in Cy Young Award voting three times in the six years
Or pitch 215 innings in 2013
Or average 210 innings in the last two or three guaranteed years

The payout of the contract is as follows:

2008: $19 million
2009: $20 million
2010: $21 million
2011: $22.5 million
2012: $24 million
2013: $25.5 million
2014: $25 million (option)

In other news, the Mets agreed with RHP Jorge Sosa to a 1 year deal worth $2 million. Sosa went 9-8 last year with a 4.47 ERA in 42 appearances -- 14 as a starter -- and 112 2/3 innings.

The Mets are rumored to be interested in free agent pitcher Kyle Lohse, and are supposedly close to a one year deal with him. Terms of the rumored deal weren't available, but it would probably be somewhere in the $3 million or $4 million range. Lohse went 9-12 with a 4.62 ERA last year for the Phillies and the Reds. He'd be a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation or the long-man role in the bullpen.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Johan now a Met!

The Mets news of late has been minimal, to say the least. I've been bored senseless by the rumors and other speculation done by the so-called experts, and I was starting to think that Johan was going to be a Twin this season.

Until today, at around five o'clock, when the Mets pulled off the biggest trade of my lifetime as a Mets fan (1995--present). The Mets traded Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey for the best pitcher of this decade, Johan Santana. They are on the verge of extending his contract as well (probably in the 6 year, $150 million range), and a press conference has been scheduled for Friday afternoon at Shea Stadium to announce the deal and introduce Santana as the newest Met.

To me, it doesn't even sound possible. I can't wrap my mind around it. The Mets haven't had a true ace since the days of Doc Gooden...a case can be made for Pedro, but we all knew that his best days were behind him when we signed him. This immediately legitimizes the Mets as a threat not just in the NL East but throughout baseball. Peter Gammons said tonight on ESPN that this takes a team that was very, very good to begin with and turns them into one of the favorites to win the World Series in 2008.

Santana, in case the average fan is not all that familiar with him, features a fastball that sits around 93 MPH, a breaking ball that bottoms around the low 80s, and the best circle changeup in the game. He is a dominating force on the mound, to say the least. He's won two Cy Young awards and has been selected to three All-Star teams. He is also a great fielder (won the Gold Glove this year), and is a .258 lifetime hitter. Apparently, Santana is excited about playing in the National League because he loves to hit, and is projected to be one of the best hitting pitchers in the National League.

The prospects the Mets gave up all have or had (in Humber's case) very high ceilings. Humber could end up with the fifth spot in the Twins rotation, but his major league work last year left most scouts disappointed. His curveball, once considered a plus pitch, now lacks the bite that it had before he had Tommy John surgery. His fastball is average, and his other pitches are nothing special. He will probably top out as a third starter on a mediocre team.

Guerra is only 18 (though at 6'5", he's still a menace on the mound) so he's a ways away from contributing. He projects to have a great heater, though some scouts are becoming concerned because he hasn't developed a solid secondary pitch yet. It's too far off to tell with Guerra right now, and he probably won't even sniff the majors until 2010 or later.

Gomez, 22, is extremely fast (some say faster than Reyes) and has a great glove. He's not very capable at the plate yet (he hit .232 in 125 at-bats with the Mets last year) but all of the tools are there for him to excel at hitting. He's got great bat speed and projects to have 20+ home run power. Though, his plate discipline is less-than-stellar, and he will have to work on that diligently if he wants to make it big. Nevertheless, he may be the only one of the group to crack the Twins lineup this year.

Mulvey is a recent draft pick out of Villanova, and posted a 3.32 ERA in AA Binghamton last year. He is also 22, and has a chance to earn the fifth spot in the rotation. He will likely start the season in AAA though, as he has only pitched in one game at the AAA level (6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER).

The acquisition of Santana makes the whole rotation better, because it pushes the starters down in the rotation to a more comfortable role for them. Going into 2008, the rotation is projected to be Santana, Pedro, Maine, Perez, El Duque/Mike Pelfrey. It is entirely possible that it could be the best rotation in all of baseball. Johan leads the charge as our ace, and no introduction is needed with him. He flat out dominates. Pedro is a great pitcher but isn't the dominating force he used to be, and is certainly better suited as a #2 starter. Maine had a great year for the Mets last year (although his first half was much better than his second half) but he's still relatively unproven. Don't get me wrong, I love his stuff, and I really love his mental makeup. One more year with a sub 4.00 ERA and I'll be convinced he's for real. Having Maine as a #3 starter is a perfect fit for him, and if he improves on last year, watch out. Perez, who might have the best stuff out of anyone on the team, is very easily rattled and sometimes pitches himself out of games. When he's on, his stuff is absolutely filthy, but if he gets rattled, he walks everyone. He could be a #3 starter for most teams (and a #2 for a few others) but being able to have him as our #4 is a great luxury. The fifth spot will be a battle between El Duque and Mike Pelfrey. El Duque is probably the favorite to win the spot going into the year, but if Pelfrey dazzles in spring training, it's anyone's guess. El Duque could also be utilized out of the bullpen very effectively if he doesn't make the rotation.

I remember where I was on the day I heard about Piazza (on the beach at my camp), Alomar (on my computer at home), Pedro (in front of the TV, watching SportsCenter), and Beltran (same spot as I was for Pedro). I remember my reactions to all of those deals. I can never remember being completely blown away the way I was tonight. This is the type of deal that vaults your franchise to the front of the pack. It makes the wait until Opening Day seem like an eternity. It takes your breath away in a way you can't describe. It makes the season great. 61 days until Johan takes on the Marlins...

I can't wait.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Holiday season

Hey everyone,

I've been really busy with the holidays and stuff at home, so I haven't had time to post articles. Lucky for me, nothing groundbreaking has happened with the Mets (other than a minor trade for Angel Pagan...a career AAA player who might crack the big-league roster if three outfielders contract mono simultaneously...but only until then). The Johan rumor train has been slowed to a near-halt, but it could pick up again at any moment. I think the baseball community is collectively waiting for the Mitchell report fallout to die down before starting up trade talk again. Many free agent pitchers are still available (Mark Prior signed with the Padres, but Livan, Colon, and several other back-of-the-rotation guys are still out there).

The Mets are going to open their season on March 31st at 4:10 in the afternoon in Florida. This means, of course, that I will be skipping class that day to watch the game (I have a three hour class on Tuesdays from 4-7...not missing the opener for that! Ha!) Hopefully Johan will be starting that game for us, eh?

Have a good one everybody, pitchers and catchers report in just over a month, and the Mets first spring training game is on Feb. 27 at the Tigers in Lakeland, FL. Well, that's not entirely true...they play the University of Miami the day before, but I don't think that will be on or anything.

Go Mets!


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