As I sit here writing this, the Mets are in extras against the Reds. After what was a phenomenal week, ending the home stand, the Mets have hit a skid. Granted, I will take a 5-1 week all the time (Sun-Sat). But the end of the series in Philly has left a horrid taste in my mouth. After dominating 3 less-than-stellar teams and going 9-1 on a critical home stand, NY has dropped its last 2 against its main rival. I was not as frustrated about Saturday’s loss (although, I always hate to them…and watching Pelfrey get blitzed). After winning 8 in a row, losses are to be expected and a lot of times, crushing losses. That’s just baseball. -side note: what a play by Davis to get Votto at first…love this kid. Love his defense- It was more Sunday’s loss that was so disheartening. Although it is still early in May, this was a big series. The Mets were hot and had a big test. Played a great game on Friday to get at least a win and got bombed on Saturday…how would they respond? Especially in the lion’s den? Coming right out of the gate and watching DW5 hit that bomb…I was psyched and thought that Saturday was behind us. Even after Santana gave up the 2 HRs (both were after he had 0-2 counts), he still looked good. And then Barajas’ huge 2 run shot…it just looked like they were over the hump and going to make a statement. Especially with Santana on the mound. And then it happened…the walk to Moyer was the breaker…after that, everything was a blur. I didn’t even make it through the inning before catching up on my DVRed tv shows. -side note: I have a feeling that Chuck is ending, unfortunately-
This brings me to my point…can the Mets respond from such a disheartening weekend? And what does this team want from this year? They have showed how much potential they have, pitching the way they have (both starting and relieving). With no one other than Wright (and not BA-wise) really on track (maybe Francoeur), only good things should be coming from the offensive department, right? Well, tonight, they start a 3 game series in Cincy…a team they can take 2 of 3 from. And then back home. So, this is a time to show that the speed bump was just that…and not a huge pothole. -game has gone to Top 11, now- Ollie looked solid, tonight, going 6 innings, only 2 runs. 4 BBs, though. But, again, I will take that from him.
So, I might have been wrong about hitting Reyes in the 3 hole…sort of. They have won 7 of 9 games, entering tonight, with him hitting in that spot. But, it has not been due to Reyes, whose average is down to .217. I think that they have to continue as things are…but only because there’s not a lot better option. Bay finally hit a HR last week…but still waiting for him to break out.
Ok, so, I also want to bring up something else that is going on in sports…the NBA Playoffs. More specifically, the Spurs/Suns series. I’ve been a Suns fan for years (don’t ask) and definitely have my feelings about the Spurs. But this is going to be a tremendous series. With all of the history between the teams and the Spurs maybe reaching the edge of their dominance and the Suns playing better defense. This is what the playoffs are all about. People are finally starting to come around on the Suns and pick them to actually beat San Antonio. They have home-court. Amare has been playing out of his mind; Grant Hill has revived his career. -Game to Bot 11, Acosta in- I know the Cavs/C’s series is going to be great, as well, but this should be a series that goes at least 6 games. Its tough for me to see either team beat the Lakers, but…to finally vanquish the Spurs might give Amare just enough reasons to stay in the Valley of the Sun.
Hopefully, the Mets will pull this one out and can go for the series win, tomorrow…and…no…Nix homers off of Acosta for a 3-2 win…3rd loss in a row
Tuesday, 7:10, Great American Ballpark, Maine vs. Arroyo…
Well, most of everything I was going to say
flew out of Citizens Bank Park in the bottom of the
Over the last week, the Mets have been on a tear. And the key has been the starting pitching. Oliver Perez had the iffy start on Wednesday against the Cubs that resulted in the Mets only loss, since last Sunday. I think he did enough to keep the heat off of himself in the rotation. He went 5 innings and only allowed 3 runs. That’s…ok, not terrible…and that is what the Mets need (at the minimum) from him and John Maine. The problem on Wednesday was the bullpen. Newly-acquired Manny Acosta got wrecked in that game…as did Takahashi. John Maine got hurt in his start on Friday against the Braves. He was pitching better than his first few starts, but then he got hurt. That just seems to be how it goes for Maine, unfortunately. I’m not entirely sure what needs to be done with him. It’s really hard for me to see the Mets re-signing him in the off-season. I would wish him well and enjoy it if he succeeds some place else…but he just has been so inconsistent over the last 2-3 years, whether it be pitching or injury.
Jon Niese had 2 very nice starts last week. Not quite what I want to eventually get out of him (5 and 2/3 with 1 run and 5 and 1/3 with 1 run). But he’s not getting crushed and he is striking out people (7 and 6, respectively). Unfortunately, a lack of run support has stopped him from getting a win, in either game. Still, I am liking what I am seeing from him and look forward to his starts, now.
Johan and Pelfrey are both looking amazing. Each got a win last week and looked very strong, doing so. Pelfrey could get another win, tonight, pending the outcome (which is stuck in the 6th due to a rain delay…Mets are up 1-0, though). Pelf looked good (but not), tonight. He did not have the control we’ve seen him exhibit this year. He allowed 10 baserunners in 5 innings, but still managed to get out of it every time, extending his scoreless streak to 24 innings. If he does win tonight, he will be 4-0 with a .69 ERA…early Cy Young candidate, anyone?
Now…to the hitting. Sigh. Still…not good. Its getting better, as they are getting timelier hits…but, no one is tearing the cover off the ball. They still only have 50 hits over the last 7 games (including tonight’s that hasn’t been called yet). Yet, assuming they win tonight, will be 6-1?? That’s just baseball, I guess. Still waiting for the Jason Bay that we heard about all off-season. He’s picked it up the last couple games, but still no HRs and 5 RBI, while hitting .269. David Wright is a little better, but not much 3 HRs, 10 RBI, .222. Francoeur: 3, 10, .286. That’s around what I expect from him.
The Mets have called up Ike Davis. I was originally against it, but it seems that maybe its what this team has needed. He has looked right at home, playing 1st base. He’s also hit very nicely in his 7 games. 1 HR, a couple RBI, and a .318 average. Granted, its only a week, but he looks like he could be the real deal. And to have left-handed power is only going to help.
So, there has been a lot of talk about Jose Reyes hitting in the 3rd spot in the lineup. It has been thrown around quite a bit over the past couple years. I’ve thought about it in different circumstances and I finally made a decision as to what I feel about it. Under ideal circumstances (Beltran being back, Wright and Bay hitting like they are capable, etc), I am supremely against it. However, given what is going on now, I absolutely love the idea. And for these reasons:
- David Wright has not been (W)right. I still think something is up with him. Maybe its mental. Maybe there’s an injury somewhere that no one knows about. Maybe he’s just trying too hard. Or maybe (gulp) he’s not as good as we all thought he was?? I hope like everything that its not the last one. But…whatever the reason…he is not the center-piece of this lineup, right now.
- Carlos Beltran is not healthy and it doesn’t look like he will be, anytime soon. Hopefully before the All-Star Break, but…I’m not holding my breath. So, we need to move on…at least for a while.
- I know his average doesn’t reflect it now (but who on the Mets is sporting a nice BA), but I think that Angel Pagan belongs near the top of the lineup. He is making strides as a base runner. He has the speed. You can hit him in the leadoff spot, followed by Castillo, Reyes, etc..
Monday, 7:10, Citi Field, Kuroda vs. Perez…
So, I’ve been a little lax on my posts about the Mets. And granted they did have a nice week, going 5-2. I will get to that (hopefully tonight)…but I want to give my off-season/draft thoughts on the Jets…who were more active than I thought they would be.
First off, it looks like this team is being built to stop the Patriots and Colts. And I like that for 3 reasons.
1. It means that last year was not a fluke. This is a team that is going places and transforming as an organization into a perennial contender.
2. Those are the teams that have given/will give them trouble and they are trying to take the next step…not just sitting by and “hoping it goes better next time.”
3. The Jets are also addressing the weak points on the team. That is what you love to see from an organization. Always trying to improve and raise its potential.
Making the 2 huge trades in the past couple months were both steals. They gave up a 3rd-rounder for Antonio Cromartie and a 5th rounder for Holmes. You want to try to convince me that you could get guys like that to step in and play with those particular picks? Ha! Maybe over time. Maybe. But not in the next 2 years. Granted, both players come with a lot of baggage, but I think that coming to the big stage and bright lights will help with that. I think both players felt too comfortable in there places and were not challenged anymore. They got too big, too fast. That won’t happen in NY and it won’t happen with Rex Ryan/Mike Tannenbaum. And…if they both don’t work out, the Jets are out a 3rd and 5th rounder. But…if they do pan out, the Jets could have the best set of CBs in the NFL AND one of the most dynamic WR corps. Those are both areas that needed to be upgraded and I’m not sure the Jets could have gotten better players/deals.
Next, the Jason Taylor signing. Love it. I hated him for so long, but he’s one of those guys that you hate if you’re against him, but love it you’re with him. They didn’t over-pay for him. He’s a class act and got enough left in the tank.
Now, the actual Draft. I was hoping for Everson Griffen or Taylor Mays, but the more I think about it, the more I like Kyle Wilson. I went to Bowling Green last September and got to see him play. He’s arguably the best corner in the Draft (Joe Haden) and is an island guy. I also like the pick b/c the Colts and Pats have a ton of WRs. They spread the ball out and use a lot of players. A lot of the reason we couldn’t keep up in the 2nd half of the AFC Championship game was 3 corners got hurt. Now, we have potentially 3 man-up corners with Dwight Lowery being a 4th. Also, I think they chose him b/c if it doesn’t work out with Cromartie OR he wants too much money after this season…fine. See ya! We don’t need you. Tannenbaum is definitely thinking ahead.
I was a little disappointed with the Vladimir Ducasse pick b/c -again- I wanted Griffen, but linemen are never bad choices. And…now that they have cut Alan Faneca…it makes sense. Faneca was great. I was very happy to have him, but he is approaching that wall…and making a lot of money. He did everything right. He lead the team. He created cohesion on the line. But…this is the NFL and the new Jets. We are here to win, win now (and later), not to be your best friend. Nothing personal, Alan. I rooted for you every game. This is about money. Period.
The same thing goes for the Joe McKnight selection. He seems to fit the Leon Washington roll, well. Leon, another of my favorite Jets, was tremendous. He was a game-breaker, great guy, did everything he was asked. But…a lot of guys are up for FA next summer and this was money we could save. And…we have 3 solid backs (with the addition of McKnight). We also have returners, now. I love Leon, but he was now expendable.
The extra pick the Jets got with the Leon trade was used on potentially the best FB in the Draft, John Conner from Kentucky. He was largely used as a blocking back and well-known for crushing folks. You have to think that this was pick was made to replaced Tony Richardson, at the end of the 2010. Richardson is a great FB and can tutor the young Conner for a year.
We some of these moves nice? No. Were the cold-blooded? Yes. Can there be potential chemistry issues? Maybe. But this is what a contending team does. They make smart business decisions and they get players to fill needs. This is the new NFL. It is a business and a cold one, at that. And finally, the Jets are legit players.
I love the way the team shored up areas of concern and addressed needs. They also planned ahead and looked at what could happen next Summer. This team is young and has a great core of players who are hungry. Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum want to win. I trust Ryan will work out issues with players. People have a lot to prove and I think this season will be a great one for Gang Green.
The series with the Cardinals was very similar to that with the Rockies. The Mets didn’t necessarily play that bad…they just didn’t win a majority of the games. Which…is not good…but at least the games were watchable. Actually, the Mets were only losing for 5 of the 38 innings played.
The one very good thing has been the starting pitching (ironically) has been the starting pitching. Oliver Perez threw a nice outing on Friday night: 6.1 innings, 4 hits, 1 run, 3 BBs and 4 Ks. I will take that from Ollie every single outing. But…that is not likely. Bullpen blew his chance for a win, though. On Saturday…(well, Saturday is a story in and of itself) Santana did a wonderful job starting as well, pitching 7 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs, 1 BB and 9 Ks. A nice rebound from has last performance against the Nats, where he gave up a 1st inning grand slam. And the much awaited 3rd start of John Maine on Sunday did not go terribly. He gave up a 3 run shot to tie the game in the 5th inning. That was so disheartening to watch b/c he always seems to get by the one inning. His pitch count got obscenely high for only 5 innings and not a lot of runs (115).
We just still can’t hit. At all. The Mets did scrap together 9 hits on Friday and did fight back to get a couple runs in the 9th, but still fell a run short. Saturday…was awful. They went hitless until the 7th when Pagan blooped a single in. Despite the game going 20 innings, they could still only manage another 6 hits. So, the got 7. In 20 innings. And the last 3 innings were against non-pitchers. On Sunday, the Mets got 4 hits…and none of them after the 2nd inning. That’s just ridiculous. I mean, I know they faced Carpenter and Wainwright in the series, but still. That’s 20 hits in 38 innings. And only 2 of them were extra base hits. And both were on Friday. That’s just…not how you win games…regardless of how good your pitching is. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but…they just need to hit better. It also would be more interesting to watch the games if you actually felt like you didn’t need 3 hits in an inning to score a run.
- Jeff Francoeur has cooled off considerably…coming into Monday night, he was 0 for his last 11…
- Mike Jacobs was FINALLY sent down to Buffalo…in favor of Tobi Stoner, in order to save arms in the bullpen
- Stoner was then sent back down in favor of much-heralded Ike Davis, who made his MLB debut Monday night…
- Coming into Monday, the Mets are last in the NL in BA with RISP…still
- Mike Pelfrey has more saves this year than K-Rod…1
- Also, Craig Anderson of the Colorado Avalanche, had one of the best goalie performances I have ever seen in the NHL playoffs on Sunday night…saving all 51 shots in a 1-0 OT win over the Sharks…
Next up for the Mets: 4 games against the Cubs at Citi Field…
Well, this afternoon, I went to the Michigan Spring Game (sort of). I mean, I went…it just wasn’t really a “game” so to speak. I went with a couple of things on my mind. I was interested in seeing early-enrollee Devin Gardner. I wanted to see how the defense looked (and if I’ve actually heard of any of these players). I was also interested in seeing the running back battle.
What I did not expect to see was the development of backup QB Denard Robinson. Now, I’ve heard over the past few weeks, that he has improved greatly and was making it a serious three-way battle for the starting QB job. And…I believed it…to a degree. But…today, I saw it. He actually looked very much improved. He threw the ball very well. Denard moved well in the pocket, avoided the rush very well and was accurate on his throws. I did not see much of a long ball, but that is not a large part of this offense, anyway. Forcier looked ok, as well. He moved nicely (which we know he can do) and he threw the ball accurately, too (for the most part). But…Denard really looked at home and really acted like it was his team. Now, I’m not saying this will happen, but…I would not be completely shocked if Denard Robinson is the starting QB come September 4th against UConn.
Much-heralded Devin Gardner also played ok. He’s so big. I said to my buddy “Is it bad that our QB is the biggest guy on the field?” He really is that big. I still hope that he will be red-shirted. I’m not that convinced that it will happen, but I hope that he can take his first year and adjust to college life, this offense, and the enormity that is the quarterback position at the University of Michigan. You could tell he was nervous, as he fumbled his first offensive play. He made a few ill-advised throws, fumbled a couple more times, but looked more comfortable as the day went on.
A Few Other Things:
- Our offensive line looked great. I think we could easily have 5-8 players who can play on that line and challenge for serious time. And David Molk didn’t even play. That could easily be a reason that all 3 QBs looked solid.
- Since Vincent Smith is still recovering from a torn ACL, the running back position battle is wide open. Fitzgerald Toussaint ran well today. He has looked good all spring. But, Stephen Hopkins really stood out to be. He is a larger back, so he could see a lot of goalline action (Illinois, anyone?). He also released well and caught a ball or 2.
- Our longest punt of the day was by Tate Forcier…*shakes head*
- I am very excited about Brendan Gibbons. He red-shirted last year, but he has some leg. He made a 45ish yard FG with about 10 yards to spare. They used a lot of kickers today, but I think we’ll see Gibbons kicking, this Fall…
- Also, all offensive numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt, due to the fact that they were put up against the Michigan Defense…Kenny Demens made a few solid tackles at LB…the secondary should be interesting…I don’t even want to speculate on potential starters at this point…
Despite going 1-2 this week in Denver, there are still some positives that can be had. I really like the way Mike Pelfrey has been throwing the ball. He had a wonderful game today, going 7 innings, allowing 5 hits, 0 runs, 0 BBs, and 6 Ks. The number that really sticks out to you is the 0 walks. Mike has had trouble throughout his short career with walking batters. In his first start, he did have 4 BBs, but stayed ahead of the count very nicely, this afternoon. He also became the first Mets starter this year to pitch into the 7th inning. No other starter has looked even half as good as Pelfrey so far, this year.
Jeff Francoeur has continued his blazing start. In the series against the Rockies, he went 4 for 11. While Wright has looked solid and Bay has been….well, there, it is Francoeur who has been the consistent threat in the lineup.
The Mets bullpen has also looked very solid this week, only allowing 4 runs in 11+ innings. Other than Nieve (who has 1 bad outing in 6 appearances) and Jenrry Mejia (who may be in over his head right now), everyone in the bullpen has been very solid.
I really, really want to like Jon Niese. He has looked…ok. I like a lot of his pitching and the way he handles himself, but he just gets beaten up by that one batter every game and it ruins his outing. In both of his outings, he’s looked like he was figuring it out and almost making it through his 5 or 6 innings and then just gets caught. He got bailed out by an offense that finally scrapped together some runs. Otherwise, he would be 0-2. Hopefully, he can finish his next start stronger.
John Maine is on his last straw. He looked awful on Tuesday. Gave up 1st inning runs, despite getting the first 2 hitters out. That seems to be a theme with him. He seems to be almost out of an inning and just can’t close it out. His fastball isn’t where it used to be and his off-speed pitches don’t have the confidence, yet. But…after rushing a throw to 1st and allowing more runs to score on his own error…and barely making it through the 3rd…sigh. He’s got a chance…maybe 2…and then he’s got to be out of the rotation. It’s that bad.
Are you telling me that the best we can do at 1st base is Mike Jacobs or Fernando Tatis? That has to be a joke. Tatis was a nice story 2 years ago…and he was…ok…last year, but the time has come. Give a kid a chance. Or someone else. I am done with Tatis. And Jacobs…is just terrible. He is 3 of 18 this year. Put Cora at 1st…or Angel Pagan (if Beltran ever gets back). Call up Nick Evans…just not Mike Jacobs.
My last rant is going to be on scoring runs. We seem to be the same team as last year (in which we lead the league in BA but were 11th (?) in runs). We can get guys on base. We draw walks or get hits (sometimes), but we do stupid things on the base paths. For example: David Wright came up today with no out and Reyes and Castillo on 2nd and 1st respectively. Castillo was thrown out on a botched double steal -where Reyes didn’t run but Castillo did. And then Reyes was thrown out at 3rd, trying to steal. When Wright stuck out, he was the 3rd out after coming to the plate with 0 outs. I mean…what? How does that happen? And that’s just one example. We are horrible at getting runners over and using outs productively, not to mention hitting with RISP. Coming into today, the Mets were something like .175 with RISP. That would be last in the NL…obviously. I am starting to think this is on Manuel. Its almost like Herm Edwards and Time Clock management with the Jets back in 2004. Some of these principles are very basic in baseball and this team is almost clueless on the base paths and manufacturing runs. Hopefully, they will figure something out in St Louis, tomorrow…
Friday, 8:15pm, Busch Stadium, Perez vs. Carpenter…