Posts Tagged ‘JJ Putz’

For Mets, Starting Pitching Should Be Their Top Priority

October 25, 2009

I was one of the millions who witnessed the outing that Angels’ right-hander, John Lackey, had in Game 5 of the ALCS last Thursday night against the Yankees. Prior to that gutsy performance, I had my doubts regarding Anaheim’s ace. I still do. Lackey recently turned 31 on Oct. 23rd. Is he worth the money? Will he have to undergo arm surgery similar to that of set-up man, J.J. Putz, an obvious bust?

Mets Blog’s Matthew Cerrone has reported that Jon Heyman of SI.com believes the Mets brass will pass on the Angels stopper and pursue other financial interests most likely, a left fielder. This assessment leads me to wonder if perhaps the organization is feeling a bit embarrassed due to their team’s inability to hit the long ball as opposed to parading Pat Misch and Nelson Figueroa out to the mound every fifth day.

If the Mets head into the 2010 season without addressing last season’s starting pitching woes, manager Jerry Manuel won’t last beyond the Memorial Day weekend.

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Wright’s Big Night Gives Mets Much Needed Leverage

June 6, 2009

Heading into this weekend’s series, it was difficult to tell which team, the Mets or the Nationals, was looking forward to playing each other last night. In the case of the Mets, they had just lost three straight games to another of the National League’s enablers, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Prior to the start of the game, the Mets also got word that their catalyst, Jose Reyes, would most likely be unavailable for at least a month with a minor tear in his right hamstring. However, numbers don’t lie. Since May 4th, Washington has just eight wins to show for its last thirty completed games. I say completed because during that stretch the Nationals experienced a home game against the Houston Astros that was suspended due to rain in the eleventh inning with the score tied at ten. That game is scheduled to be completed at a later date.

Investigating further into the bulk of those games, the Nationals were swept by three different ball clubs, the Mets being one of them, on four separate occasions. Not to mention losing both games of a double-header twice to the Philadelphia Phillies and most recently, the San Francisco Giants. With all those circumstances against them, you could still make a good case for the majors’ worst team with an overall record of 14-39 in utilizing a weekend series against the injury-riddled Mets to help get them back on the right track.

Not only did the Mets lose an All-Star in Reyes but they will have to continue to move forward without their right-handed reliever, J.J. Putz. The former Mets set-up man was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday and will undergo surgery to remove a bone spur and fragments of bone from the back of his right elbow on Tuesday. Mets GM Omar Minaya said that Putz’ return could take anywhere from 10-12 weeks. Fortunately for the Nationals, this was music to their ears. Perhaps the Mets were on their way down. Maybe, just maybe but not just yet. Third baseman David Wright had something to say about it. He drove in the two go-ahead runs in the top of the tenth inning that broke the 1-1 tie. Wright’s second double of the night not only completed a 4 for 5-night but led to a Mets win.

The starting pitcher for the Mets, right-hander Tim Redding, commanded six solid innings but did not record the victory. He did however strike out two and give up just one earned run. Most importantly, in the home-half of the fifth inning, he was able to induce a bases-loaded double play that ended the inning, limiting the damage, and keeping the score knotted at one.

“It just feels good, period — it could have been against anybody,” Redding said.

Not just anybody, these are the Washington Nationals.

It’s Not a Hill; it’s a Mountain, as the Mets Start Their Climb

April 8, 2009

Just a short walk north from Great American Ballpark, the Cincinnati Reds’ home, there is a casual little eatery named Paula’s Café with a home-style atmosphere that serves up mostly breakfast and lunch. When the Reds are in town, it caters to the hustle and bustle of the downtown vicinity as well as the out of town baseball fan who is trying desperately to flee an early April-like storm. That would be me.

As long as anyone can remember, there has always been an Opening Day game in Cincinnati. And, just as long, there has been a parade which runs across Walnut Street to the tune of high school marching bands decked out in a sea of red. Prior to the start of Monday’s day game between the Mets and the Reds, a small group of us barreled down I-71 South from Columbus inside a driving rainstorm that seemed to get worse with every successful lane change. Eventually, we ended up inside a parking garage adjacent to Pete Rose Way and made our final descent towards the stadium. Regardless of the weather, we were set on seeing a baseball game.

During the seventh-inning stretch, well after the Mets’ Daniel Murphy had blasted a solo shot into left field which put the Mets up, 1-0, reliever Sean Green slapped the choke-hold on the Reds hitters cutting off any chance of a rally and reducing the hometown fans into sullen mockery throughout the reciting of God Bless America. The following two innings were then headlined by two of the newest members of the Mets’ bullpen, J.J. Putz and Frankie Rodriguez. They followed Green’s lead. Overall, the Mets relievers retired 10 of 11 hitters to allow for Johan Santana’s first win of the season. “They deserve all the credit,” Santana said. “That’s when the game was won.” For Rodriguez, he earned his first save as a Met, with more to come.

Others, such as Jose Reyes did their job as well. In the top of the first inning, Reyes got on with an infield hit, stole second, moved over to third on a fielder’s choice but was left stranded after David Wright struck out swinging. Wright redeemed himself later in the game with a brilliant defensive play at third in which he snagged a laser-beam hit by the Reds Alex Gonzalez and then rose to his feet to complete the play for an out. Left-fielder Ryan Church, who seems to be playing for his life these days since the recent acquisition of veteran Gary Sheffield, made an outstanding play in which he slid and secured the ball, then came up firing to gun down Edwin Encarnacion for a double play. However, the main event for the Mets was their bullpen.

“Our bullpen may be one of our best assets,” David Wright said. “They were lights-out the first game of the season.”

For GM Omar Minaya, who was instrumental in orchestrating the significant trades and free agent signings that went into acquiring about a third of the relief core, he was proud of their success.

“It’s the way you want it to work, the way you draw it up in January,” Minaya said.

As for Jerry Manuel, he can relax for at least one night and enjoy a bowl of Skyline’s signature chili. “We pitched well and played good defense,” he said. “We could have done more with the bats.”

Of course, for me, I would have liked it if the weather had been a bit more pleasant. But heck, I’ll take the outcome any day.

Keeping Up With the Putz’

January 8, 2009

“It will be tough leaving Seattle,” said J.J. Putz, a proven closer the Mets acquired on December 12th, “It was home for us for the last six years. My wife is taking it harder than I am. She has lots of friends there. A lot of people don’t realize that something like this is harder on wives than the players, but it will be fine.”

Putz, a right handed pitcher who throws a mean split-finger, is currently ranked second on the Seattle Mariners’ all-time saves list with 101. With a move to the East coast eminent, Putz will not only be forced to re-locate but will have to settle for a demotion making that all-important save statistic almost non-existent. For Putz, he will be called upon to provide a smooth transition leading Francisco Rodriguez to close out the ninth inning.

“It’s not the ideal situation, but having the two of us at the back of the bullpen will be pretty strong,” Putz said. “I will not change my approach at all. I will close the game in the eighth and then give the ball to Frankie.”

Despite the change in venue, Putz seems excited to compete in New York.

“The Mets organization is built to win right now, and that’s new for me. We will have a very strong ballclub. It will be fun,” he said.

Unfortunately, what’s not so enjoyable for Putz was breaking the bad news to his wife, Kelsey, who is pregnant and due in March with their third child. The Putz’ already have three-year-old twins.

“They don’t know anything about it, and I’m not sure how I’m going to tell them,” Putz said.

In anticipation of his newborn child (scheduled to arrive during Spring Training), Mets GM Omar Minaya is allowing J.J. to leave and fulfill his obligations to his family.