Archive for August, 2009

For Mets Fans, I Think It’s Safe to Wave the White Flag

August 26, 2009

Where to begin? The Mets announced yesterday that Johan Santana’s 2009 season has come to an end. Assuming all goes well with his surgery to remove bone chips from his left elbow, the Mets ace will be back in time for the start of next year’s Spring Training. With all the injuries that have befallen on the Mets this year, this latest diagnosis of Santana could be considered the final straw, the last nail in the coffin, putting a team out of its misery, or beating a man when he’s down, whatever cliché you want to use – the Mets are officially done. You could even say they are overdone.

Since the departure of Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, and John Maine, the Mets have been a model of inconsistency. In professional sports, baseball included, staying healthy throughout the course of a season is essential. The Mets and their fans have learned that lesson the hard way.

After last night’s 2-1 lost to the Florida Marlins at Land Shark Stadium, Mets manager Jerry Manuel proceeded to answer questions. He looked like a man who had just spent the night in an airport. A man whose travel plans had been delayed due to his flight being cancelled. When asked if last night’s starter, right-hander Nelson Figueroa, deserved another shot in the Mets rotation, Manuel nonchalantly said, “Yeah…why not.”

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Mets Starting Pitching Has No One Else to Blame

August 24, 2009

Occasionally, in my day-to-day conversations with co-workers and friends, the topic of the New York Mets comes up. After agreeing that the team stinks and that they will not be making the post-season this year, I usually defend their performance by pointing out the enormous amount of injuries they’ve had to deal with. Nonetheless, after tuning into yesterday’s 9-7 loss to the defending World Series-champion Philadelphia Phillies, I have come to realize that injuries or not, the Mets lack good starting pitching.

Looking at their last four games, including Sunday’s outing by left-hander Oliver Perez and Wednesday’s embarrassing performance by righty Bobby Parnell, reinforces that notion. For Parnell, you can make the case that his ineffectiveness is because he started the 2009 campaign in the bullpen. He most likely wouldn’t have been given a chance to start for the Mets if lefty Jon Niese and right-hander Fernando Nieve weren’t on the disabled list. For Perez, who has been hindered by soreness in his right knee, the reasons for his disappointing pitching numbers are not so easy to assess.

In Perez’ fourteen starts thus far this year he has yet to pitch into the seventh inning. On Sunday, the Mets left-hander was yanked by manager Jerry Manuel after giving up six runs in just two-thirds of an inning pitched. With right-hander John Maine’s return to the starting rotation uncertain and the recent release of veteran Livan Hernandez, GM Omar Minaya will have his hands full heading into the 2010 season.

And the Best Actor Award Goes to…Jerry Manuel

August 22, 2009

Prior to this week’s high temperatures and humidity, the summer months in the city have actually been quite bearable. Unfortunately for New Yorkers, when they’re made to endure more than a day or two of extreme heat, tempers have a tendency to flare up. The same could be said for the Mets manager. Jerry Manuel was given the heave-ho last night for arguing a play at second base in the bottom of the fifth inning. Come to think of it, can you really blame him? For the last three months, he has had to lead a ball club that at best is a shadow of its original self. From hamstring tears to concussions, hip impingements to injured quads, not to mention the latest release of one of his starting pitchers and the firing of Tony Bernazard from the Mets front office, the world that surrounds the Mets skipper would make for a very interesting reality show. Perhaps it could be called “Project Someday.”

With all of the negativity that has infiltrated the Mets clubhouse of late courtesy of Gary Sheffield, the Amazins were able to pull themselves together and take the first game of a four-game series Friday night, 4-2, from the NL East-leading Philadelphia Phillies.

“We are in a place where we are fighting for our lives,” Manuel said after the Mets victory. “Everything we do, we are just battling.”

With the return of their four best offensive players mired in uncertainty, Manuel’s post-game comments have never sounded so desperate.

In Defeat, Mets Showcase Three Very Good Pitchers

August 21, 2009

Aside from participating in another series loss, this time to the Atlanta Braves, Mets fans last night were given the chance to witness three of the league’s more dominant pitchers. The night began with Mets left-hander, Johan Santana, who despite picking up his ninth loss of the season pitched seven strong innings. Nonetheless, the stage belonged to former Mets closer Billy Wagner. The veteran left-hander was activated prior to the game on Thursday and then asked to start the eighth inning. Wagner did not disappoint. After warming up to his signature theme song, “Enter Sandman,” he went on to pitch a one-two-three-inning. In addition to a scoreless eighth, Wagner struck out two and retired Mets fans’ ultimate arch-enemy, Chipper Jones.

Taking advantage of Wagner’s return, the Mets were able to close the gap, 3-2, by scoring a run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Playing to win at home, Mets manager Jerry Manuel brought in his closer, Francisco Rodriguez, who managed to get himself out of a jam with runners on first and second and one out by inducing a double-play. The Mets failed to tie the score in the bottom half of the ninth as they picked up their 65th loss of the season and fell fourteen-and-a-half games in back of the Phillies.

Wait, it gets worse, the Mets open up a four-game series against those first-place Phillies tonight at Citi Field.

Robust Is One Way to Describe the Mets Offense

August 19, 2009

The war of words between Mets manager Jerry Manuel and Atlanta Braves centerfielder Ryan Church was brought to another level yesterday. Prior to the start of last night’s 9-4 victory by the Mets, Manuel took a jab at Church, questioning his inability to bounce back quickly from two very severe concussions last season. Manuel eventually apologized to his former player and now hopes that one of his current players, Oliver Perez, will be able to recuperate rather quickly from an injury as well. Perez, who earned his third win of the season last night, aggravated the same knee that kept him out for a large part of the season.

The good news is, the Mets offense exploded for seventeen hits. Outfielders Jeff Francoeur and Gary Sheffield along with second baseman Luis Castillo (who is now batting .306) each had three hits apiece. Fernando Tatis, who for the time being has replaced David Wright at third base, went 2-for-4. Atlanta starting pitcher, right-hander Derek Lowe, was roughed up for eight runs on eleven hits in just three and two-thirds innings of work. If you recall, the Mets were interested in Lowe as a number two starter to complement Johan Santana before the start of spring training. Instead, they went with the southpaw in Perez. With last night’s very impressive victory, I guess you could score one for the left-hander.

Options For the Mets Are That They Have No Options

August 18, 2009

For the Mets, placing third baseman David Wright on the 15-day disabled list with a concussion could be viewed as a no-brainer. Deciding on whether or not to grant right-hander Livan Hernandez another start is something altogether different. After witnessing another disappointing outing last night against the San Francisco Giants, the Mets may want to think about it, again. On the bright side, Hernandez did manage to pitch into the fifth inning. But ultimately he surrendered eleven hits that led to six runs and ended up picking up his third straight loss.

In Livan’s last outing on August 11th against Arizona he allowed five runs on seven hits in just four innings. With that performance, Mets manager Jerry Manuel felt perhaps that Hernandez’ tenure with the Mets may have run its course. Manuel slept on it and arose from his slumber opting to give the veteran right-hander another chance. That next chance was last night. Funny thing is that this time around Manuel didn’t need extra time to think things through. Without any hesitation, he confirmed that Hernandez would take his turn in the rotation for the time being. And who could blame him? With Tim Redding giving up three runs in one inning of relief last night and Nelson Figueroa following suit, there aren’t that many options for this beleaguered skipper to consider.

Should Matt Cain Be Suspended?

August 16, 2009

After Mets third baseman David Wright took a blow to the head from San Francisco starter Matt Cain’s 93-mph-fastball on Saturday, you can sense the tension in the air immediately. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Cain tipped his cap towards the Mets crowd on the way to the dugout after being taken out of the game. FOX’s Thom Brenneman’s reaction to the Giants pitcher was, “That’s bad.”

This thing is not over. If the timing was right earlier today, Big Pelf could have taken matters into his own hands. I, personally, as a Mets fan would like to see Cain suspended. I don’t think he was aiming at Wright intentionally. However, you have to make an example out of Cain for using poor judgment.

When Cain was asked why he tipped his cap towards the Giants dugout. His response was, “It’s New York.” Cain, who is 24 yrs-old, was winning at the time, 3-1. He let his confidence take over. I don’t think he was really that concerned about Wright having to make a trip to the hospital from what he had done in the previous inning.

When do you ever see an opposing pitcher tip his cap towards the other team’s fans in any circumstance? After three full seasons, the Giants right-hander has finally paid dividends. Good for him! Watching these last three games has shown me one thing about SF, they have no offense. Without Lincecum, they would just be another mediocre team.

Suspend Cain and these shenanigans will go away.

For further discussion regarding what happened on Saturday, check out this link.

Nice win for the Mets, today, in walk-off fashion.

Let’s Go Mets, minus the core.

For the Mets, It’s A Win Here and A Win There

August 15, 2009

Since Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran was placed on the disabled list on June 21st, the Mets have won nineteen out of forty-seven games. With such a dismal number of victories, my only guess is that it has made them appreciate greatly when the outcome ends in their favor. As optimistic as the Mets may be feeling right now after witnessing Bobby Parnell’s winning performance last night, seven strikeouts in six scoreless innings, this latest contest could very well be seen as just another stranded victory in a sea of never-ending defeats.

Prior to the Mets 3-0 shutout of the San Francisco Giants last night at Citi Field, they have lost ten out of their last fifteen games. As much as any Mets fan would like to revel in the coffers of yesterday’s performance, it still does not make up for all the atrocious and despicable baseball that they have displayed these last few months. However, not to be too negative, Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez notched his twenty-sixth save last night and looks to be his old self again. Angel Pagan, back from a couple of days of rest, blasted a lead-off home run in the bottom of the first inning getting the Mets on the scoreboard early. Most impressive though was Bobby Parnell’s ability to finish up an abbreviated outing without allowing a walk, something that has unfortunately eluded Mets starters this season.

As we enter the third weekend of August, the Mets are currently twelve games out of first place in the NL East and nine and a half games out the Wild Card. Despite the obvious, it seems apparent that Mets manager Jerry Manuel is not ready to concede the fact that his ball club is now better suited for the role of spoiler.

“We have to continue to really get after it these last however many games and see where we are,” Manuel said. Hope springs eternal, I guess.

Mets Fans Are Starting to Develop Yankee-Envy

August 13, 2009

As the Mets stumble through a season that most Mets fans would like to forget, their cross-town brethren in the Bronx are building on one to remember. After the Mets squeaked out a win yesterday to avoid being swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Yankees muscled their way to another walk-off win, their eleventh of the season.

As power-deprived as the Mets current lineup is, the Bombers have nine hitters with ten or more home runs. I’m sure at one point in the season the Mets had eight players on the disabled list. Meanwhile, the Yanks now have eight of their position players with at least fifty RBIs. Adding insult to injury, the Yankees are twenty-eight games over five hundred, the Mets eight games under. The Yanks are in first, the Mets are in fourth. The contrasts in the two ball clubs are endless.

The only similarity the two teams share is that they both opened up the 2009 campaign with a new ballpark. The universal goal of making the postseason is now over for one of them. As we enter the final six weeks of the season, the roars of Yankee Stadium have clearly been drowning out the cheers of Citi Field.

Sheffield Could Very Well Be Running on Empty

August 11, 2009

At the start of every season, major league teams seek out veteran ball players with the hope that they could possibly have one good year left in them. The Oakland A’s had nothing but good intentions when they brought back Jason Giambi. The same could be said for the Boston Red Sox regarding pitcher John Smoltz. For the Mets, its 40-year-old Gary Sheffield who has already been placed on the disabled list and most recently has been hampered with a sore hamstring. Acquired more for his wisdom and experience then his ability to contribute everyday, it’s easy to see why the Mets would opt on the side of caution when making the decision whether or not the veteran slugger is able to play.

Prior to yesterday’s game, Mets manager Jerry Manuel sat down with Sheffield behind closed doors to discuss his nagging injury among other things. According to eyewitness reports, Sheffield wasn’t too pleased with Manuel’s decision to scratch him from the Mets starting lineup for the fifth straight day. The veteran outfielder was disappointed because in his mind he was ready to go and eager to get back out on to the field. When the Mets picked up Sheffield right before the start of the season, he was highly considered to be their right-handed power threat coming off the bench. However, with all of the Mets injuries this year, he has been given many opportunities to play everyday.

During his tenure in the American League, Sheffield was able to perform on a daily basis as a designated hitter. With the Mets being a National League team, getting at least three or four licks a game means he must be able to perform defensively as well. For Manuel and the Mets, sacrificing defense for a dangerous bat who is currently ailing may not be such a great idea. With that type of uncertainty, you could make a good case as to why the Mets skipper would think twice before inserting the name ‘Sheffield’ on his daily lineup card.