Posts Tagged ‘Gary Sheffield’

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.

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.

Niese Gives Mets and Their Fans A Little Room to Breathe

July 26, 2009

Since the start of the second half, Mets fans may have found themselves questioning their sanity as they witness one debilitating loss after another. Prior to last night’s 10-3 victory, the previous nine games for the Mets have been consumed with inconsistent starting pitching, little or no offensive production, or abnormal behavior by their vice president of player development. Fans could make the case that the remaining two months of the season would most likely be more of the same. Learning that outfielder Gary Sheffield would be the latest Mets causality to be placed on the disabled list just reinforced that notion.

But as the saying goes every dark cloud has a silver lining. Jon Niese, last night’s starting pitcher for the Mets, was that silver lining. According to Mets manager Jerry Manuel, he was more than that. He was polished. Niese pitched seven terrific innings in which he allowed just one run on four hits that earned him his first win of the season. Looking back on his first tour of duty for the Mets, two starts earlier in the season in May, Niese was entering last night’s game with a 5.91 ERA and two no-decisions.

“I felt more comfortable,” Niese said. “Omir [Santos] and I were on the same page tonight. He called a great game.”

Manuel was in good spirits after last night’s domination over the Houston Astros as well. He was not only impressed by the positive outing that he received from his young left-hander but by the explosive performance of his struggling offense.

“We swung the bats well,” Manuel said.

Among the twelve hits recorded by the Mets were catcher Omir Santos’ second solo home run in two nights and third baseman David Wright’s blast, a solo shot of his own, in the top of the ninth inning. Wright’s dinger was his first home run in over a month and the first in his last seventy-five at-bats. Jeff Francoeur, who was traded to the Mets prior to the All-Star break, continued his resurgence by clobbering a three-run home run that broke the game wide open.

“That was a huge hit for us,” Manuel said.

When asked if Francoeur’s home run was a reality, Manuel jokingly said that he thought it may have gone foul. With sixty-six games remaining on the Mets schedule, fans still have plenty of time left in which they can better gauge their sanity.

Mets Find Themselves Expecting Something Bad to Happen

July 18, 2009

When the Atlanta Braves’ tenth run crossed home plate in the bottom half of the fifth inning last night, the Mets had zero runs scored to go along with just two hits. Their starting pitcher, Mike Pelfrey, had already been taken out of the game charged with nine of those runs in just four and one-third innings of work. The right-hander also allowed nine hits, two for homeruns. To top it all off, in that dreadful fifth inning, the Mets witnessed another player on their current roster limping off the field. As left fielder Gary Sheffield was attempting to chase down a base hit into the left-centerfield gap, he experienced what Mets trainers described as a cramp.

In Sheffield’s case, it was just a matter of time when the forty-year-old journeyman would breakdown. Reason being, when the Mets acquired him at the start of the season he was considered a right-handed threat coming off the bench not an everyday player. As Sheffield slowly made his way off the field, Mets fans were left shaking their heads. But that wasn’t the end of it. Fans were also disappointed with comments that were made by Sheffield after the game. While downplaying the extent of his injury, he went on to discuss how the body language of some of his teammates would begin to sag when the team fell behind. He continued and said that he noticed the majority of the guys in the dugout were just waiting for something bad to happen. Sheffield did mention that prior to the start of their games the Mets players were confident in their ability to go out there and win everyday.

In defense of Sheffield’s comments, they should be construed as helpful and not necessarily hurtful. His overall concerns towards his teammates to start concentrating on playing more aggressively instead of worrying about what may happen next is probably a by-product of the veteran outfielder having a bad day.

It Could Be Worse

June 30, 2009

In the top of the ninth inning of last night’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, David Wright was at the plate with a runner on second and one out. Wright, who is currently leading the National League in hitting, is struggling. Prior to that at-bat, the Mets third baseman had just one hit in his last eighteen at-bats to go along with six strikeouts. Looking at the current Mets active roster, it’s easy to see their limitations in giving any of their everyday players a day off. With that said, all Wright can do is work his way out of it. Fortunately for him, he did. Wright smacked the next pitch for a double to left scoring Daniel Murphy from second giving the Mets offense some much needed help.

The next batter due up for the Mets was cleanup hitter Gary Sheffield. His final at-bat produced a two-run home run that landed into the highest deck in left-center field at Miller Park. As Sheffield rounded the bases with his tenth home run of the season, a Brewers fan proceeded to throw the ball back into the field of play. No love lost though because the Mets had just equaled the total amount of runs they scored throughout the weekend series against the Yankees, three. Before you get your hopes up, the score at this point is Milwaukee, 10, and the Mets, 6. The Mets next two hitters, Ryan Church (4 for 5) and Fernando Martinez (2 for 5), both managed to reach base safely in the ninth inning with one out. Alright, the probability of them staging a comeback is highly unlikely. Adding Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman via pitching change doesn’t help matters, either.

To make a long story short, catcher Brian Schneider swung at the first pitch and hit into a game-ending double play before the tune of Hell Bells even had a chance to fade out. Hoffman earns career save number 572, the Mets fall under five hundred and end the night behind the Florida Marlins in third place.

Sheffield and Hernandez Revive the Old Saying: Age before Beauty

May 27, 2009

Mets GM Omar Minaya was the first to break the news prior to yesterday’s game that his shortstop, Jose Reyes, and his right fielder, Ryan Church, were heading to the disabled list retroactive to May 21st and May 23rd, respectively. With that, the possibility for the Mets most talked about prospect, Fernando Martinez, to get his chance at the big league level became a reality. The decision to grant Martinez, 20, the start in right field last night was also prompted by the Mets inability to use their everyday center fielder, Carlos Beltran. Beltran underwent an MRI yesterday which revealed a bone bruise and inflammation of his right tibia that will keep him out of action for at least until Friday’s game against the Florida Marlins. Martinez was hit by a pitch and finished the night 0 for 3 with a RBI.

As Mets fans and the New York media rejoiced over the thought of witnessing the young Martinez on a daily basis, Mets clean up hitter Gary Sheffield, almost twenty years his senior, provided the real firepower in leading the Mets to a 6-1 victory over the Washington Nationals. Sheffield, who is batting .419 over his last ten games, slammed a three-run homerun for the second time in as many nights well over the left-field wall. Unlike last night’s three-run shot, there was no doubt in the validity of this one. Sheffield’s 504th career homerun put the Mets up by five runs and allowed for their starter, Livan Hernandez, to go the distance and pick up his fourth win of the season. Hernandez, 34, is 3-0 in his last five starts. He has pitched 33 and a third innings during that stretch averaging almost seven innings a start.

Tonight the Mets go for the sweep with their ace, Johan Santana, on the mound against the Nationals young right-hander, Jordan Zimmermann. On April 26th, Zimmermann pitched five and a third innings against the Mets. He gave up just one earned run and earned his second win of the season. Since then, he has been mired with four no-decisions and a loss in five starts. He currently has a 2-1 record and a 5.71 ERA.

Bruised and Battered, the Mets Find a Way to Win

May 26, 2009

It’s safe to say that on any given night this season the New York Mets have given themselves a good chance at winning. However, for the last week and a half that chance has been met with the question of which players will be asked to uphold it. With one third of their active roster decimated by injury, the Mets everyday lineup card these days can look as unpredictable as an Oliver Perez start. Prior to last night’s game, Mets manager Jerry Manuel delayed his decision to start centerfielder Carlos Beltran and back-up shortstop Ramon Martinez until thirty minutes before the start of the game. Reason being, Beltran was nursing a sore knee and Martinez was ailing from a bad back. Fortunately for the Mets, both players made their starts and helped the team to a 5-2 victory over the last place Washington Nationals.

Last night’s win earned Mets starter John Maine his fourth victory of the season. Maine looked well in command throughout the game, although he was not asked to pitch the seventh inning. Manuel was given the opportunity after the game to respond to why he opted for a reliever in the seventh instead of continuing with his starter. Manuel felt that too much time elapsed between the umpire’s review of Gary Sheffield’s three-run homerun and the start of the seventh inning. In hindsight, reliever Bobby Parnell began the seventh inning and surrendered three walks (the Mets pitchers had nine overall) which led to a run. Parnell was yanked and it took two more Mets relievers to limit the damage in the seventh.

Mets shortstop Jose Reyes continues his recovery from tendinitis of the calf and left fielder Ryan Church was again unavailable for the second straight game. On the bright side, closer Francisco Rodriguez kept his perfect save streak going last night and earned his thirteenth save of the season. If you remember, Rodriguez collapsed on Saturday in Boston from back spasms. He was rushed to the hospital where he received treatment and was then cleared to play.

With the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves losing their games yesterday, the Mets are now all alone in second place just one-half game back.

Latest Setback for Delgado Opens Up a New Can of Worms

May 17, 2009

When news broke that Mets cleanup hitter Carlos Delgado was headed to the disabled list with what doctors were calling an impingement of the right hip, the main concern for Mets fans was who would fill the first baseman’s shoes. Since Delgado was brought over to the club, he has provided the Mets with much needed firepower to the number four slot in their lineup. With 473 career homeruns, Delgado was hoping that this season would be the year in which he would hit that all-important 500th homerun.

However, if the Mets opt for surgery for Delgado, he could see an extensive amount of time away from the ballclub. Such a decision might ultimately put that elusive homerun in jeopardy and prolong the feat for another year. Unfortunately for Delgado, he may not be able to afford to wait that long. This recent injury has also raised the question as to whether the organization will resign the two-time All Star to another long-term contract. My feeling is that Delgado, who will turn 37 in June, most likely would not be guaranteed more than a two year deal, if anything at all.

In his stead, the Mets have looked for their number three, four, and five hitters to carry the offensive load. In the last three games, Carlos Beltran, Gary Sheffield, and David Wright have gone 22 for 38 (.578 BA). During that stretch, Wright has produced nine RBI and has stolen five bases. He is now batting .350. Sheffield, who was batting .196 after Wednesday’s game, is now batting .270.

If the current heart of the Mets order can continue to perform offensively the way they have been, Delgado’s absence, however long it may be, will not seem as devastating.

For Sheffield and Delgado, There’s a Game within the Game

April 17, 2009

I’m sure most of you have heard of the old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” In the case of two Mets veterans this season, forty-year-old Gary Sheffield and first baseman Carlos Delgado, who will turn 38 in June, they have taken that adage and given it a new meaning. Throughout most of their illustrious careers, Sheffield and Delgado have been referred to as sluggers. For any major league player, being labeled a slugger means most likely you’ll age like a fine wine. Why, you ask? Because nine times out of ten, a slugger possesses the ability to hit homeruns, lots of them.

Entering the 2009 season, Sheffield, who is the principal owner of 499 career homeruns and Delgado, who’s no slouch at 469 are both vying for baseball immortality. For them, the one trick they still possess, which is hitting homeruns, hopefully will be enough of an advantage to push them above that almighty 500 home run plateau. As I am writing this particular post, Delgado has just clobbered a 3 balls, no strike pitch to right field putting the Mets up 3-0 in the first inning. In just eight games, Delgado now has three homeruns which raises his career total to 472. As I was saying, the tenure of these two veritable ball players, one who has earned the right as that of a mainstay for the Mets the last three seasons and the other, who was recently acquired at the league minimum for none other than his lethal right-handed bat are both well-deserving of reaching such a demonstrative feat.

It’s now the bottom of the eighth inning, the Mets are losing 6 to 5 to the Padres and Sheffield has been called on to pinch hit. With that, the umpire calls out for the bat boy to switch out the ordinary game balls for specially-marked baseballs that produce an MLB hologram when they’re place under a ultra-violet light. The Mets have never had a player hit their 500th homerun wearing a Mets uniform. Sheffield and his signature waggle could not only be the first one to achieve it but could also tie the game with just one swing. However, the longer it takes him to finalize his quest, the more the elder statesman will be accepted by the Mets faithful. Then again, tying up this ball game would be just as special. What do ya know? Sheffield walks.

I have often felt that baseball’s homerun is somewhat overrated. Nevertheless, the reaction that I receive from witnessing a booming moon shot off the bat of Carlos Delgado is enough to make me reevaluate my opinion. As for Sheffield, I have not had as much exposure as I would’ve liked but I’m sure glad that I’ve been invited along for the ride.