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Friday, April 30, 2004

The Slow Downward Spiral

Dark star crashes
Pouring its light into ashes
Reason tatters
The forces tear loose from the axis
Searchlight casting
For faults in the clouds of delusion ("Dark Star" - Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia)



I admit it, i was high in the clouds of delusion..a serious case of the Spring..whatever the hell Rob Neyer calls it... I had started to believe that this year might be different. Playoffs? No. But i was expecting respectable, dare i say it, even borderline good. And it's all coming crashing down. Even after taking two of three from the Dodgers, who have been playing good ball (13-8 1st in the NL West), i just dont see it. Ya, we won a series, but we're still 9-13, already 6 games back, and April isnt even over yet. As a team we are hitting 240/317/379 (696). What makes it really sad is that we are pitching well. Very well. Opponents are hitting 265/316//359 (676), we're fifth in the league in ERA, and have givn up the second least walks. We're tied for dead last in strikeouts, but other then that the pitching has been excellent. Braden Looper has been outstandng so far, yet to give up an earned run and sporting an 8/1 K/BB in over 10 innings. The elders statesmen, Tom Glavine and Al Leiter, who many thought would be the achilles heel of the team, have been by far our two best players so far, with almost identical 1.64 and 1.61 ERAs, and WHIPs hovering around 1 even (with Glavine actually slightly below it). Glavine's at least got something to show for it at 3-1, while Leiter has been the victim of pitiful run support, and is just 1-1. And that's basically been the problem, we can't hit a damn thing. Maybe in all the talk about speed,defense,and pitching, the entire organization forgot that it's necessary to score runs to win a basbeall game? I dunno..i'm not privy to the minds of Mets players and management..maybe someone out there that is can kindly remind them of that fact for all of us.

Enough complaining though, we all know the Mets suck right now, no need to go into long tirades on the level and ways of there sucking. In a desperate attempt for anything else to talk about, i'm going to switch topics. Let's play the name your favorite game. I encourage everyone out there to play along in the comments section, and other bloggers to do so on there sites. I'm sure we're all curious as to what goes on in the deeply disturbed minds that spend there days reading and writing blogs.

Favorite Sport: Hockey Yep, that's right. I've mentioned this before. My favorite sport is in fact not the one i devote so much time to writing about, it's hockey. Every time i try to pretend like it's baseball, a certain buddy of mine reminds me that i know damn well that it's hockey, and i never argue, because i know he's right. I love hockey more then i do baseball, the Islanders more then i do the Mets..and i can't deny it. Mets win the World Series, I'm running around screaming, delusionaly hapy...Isalnders win the Stanley cup....I'm in tears. I don't know how to put it any better then that.

Favorite Athlete-Current: Adrian Aucoin-Islanders Got him for a song, instantly became the best defenseman on a team loaded with talented defenseman, is among the very top of the league in ice time every year, always solid in his own end while also emerging as a threat for 40+ points, has developed into a legitimate Norris Trophy candidate, one of the hardest shots in the NHL (won the hard shot competition this year), captain of the power play, wears the A on his jersey, rivals captain Michael Peca as the heart and soul of the franchise, made his first All-Star appearance this year and is still the most under appreciated player in hockey. What's not to love?

Favorite Athlete-All time: Denis Potvin-Islanders Captain, and unquestioned leader of the Islander's dynasty teams. Father of the franchise, and one of the greatest defenseman ever to put on a pair of skates. His greatness can sometimes be overlooked between Bobby Orr and the Bourque/Coffey era. For a long time, Denis Potvin was the all time leading scorer among defenseman. I also wear his number in hockey, which doesnt hurt. How important was Denis Potvin to the Islanders, how big was his presence in his time? He hasn't played in well over a decade and Ranger fans still regularly use the chant "Potvin Sucks". I couldn't think of a greater honor then to know Ranger fans still despise him, 16 years after he last stepped on the ice.

Favorite Baseball Player-Current: Al Leiter If you didn't know that, your etiher new, or have a terrible memory, because i think i've made it abundantly clear. I don't really know why. i think i've got a thing for lefty pitchers. I just really like the Senator. How could you not love a guy who wears his emotions so openly on his sleeve out there on the mound? Leiter's heart is in every pitch he throws, and there's no doubt about it. He's a pretty damn good pitcher too.

Favorite Baseball Player-All time: Sandy Koufax: I dont really understand this one either. I've just always had a real affinity for him. Might just be the greatest pitcher ever. Certainly makes a case for most dominant at his peak, and also for the most devastating curveball, or simply most dominant pitch, with that knee buckling curve. If you've never seen it extensively, i highly recomend going to MLB.com and spending a few bucks to access there library of classic games, and watching Koufax spin a gem. It's truly a sight to behold. I love the quote from Hank Aaron, something along the lines of "Bob Gibson? Hit him pretty good. Don Drysdale? Hit him pretty good too. Juan Marichal? Always hit him well. Sandy Koufax? Noone could hit that man." Aaron went on to explain that, " I always felt like, when i went to the plate, i had an idea of what i wanted to do against every other pitcher. How i wanted to approach the at bat. With Sandy, there was nothing you could do. He could bring that fastball, or drop the curve from your head to your knees and there just wasn't anything you could do". I am paraphrasing out of memory, but that is very close to what he said, and i remember very clearly, the reporter going through a list of pitchers, the best of the eras Aaron played across, and Aaron felt like he was good agaisnt all of them, until they got to Koufax when his face, and his tone of voice changed as he said "No one could hit that man". This is coming from the all time home run king, the guy who passed Ruth. Now THAT is a compliment.

Bah, i'm growing tired. Going to go sleep some more. I'll be back with some more later...
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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Mike Piazza just (literally, just now) hit his 351st home run as a catcher, tying Carlton Fisk for the all time record. 1 more behind the plate and Mike is the all time leader. So let's all take a moment to congratualte him, and then burn his catching equipment.
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Monday, April 26, 2004

For any of you that happen to care, i've cahnged my quote of the week again..it's really become the quote of the month at this point. I doubt any you really care, i just keep it up because i like it. It is my blog damnit...

This time we've got a little couplet from the Grateful Dead song Scarlet Begonias, words by Robert Hunter:

"Once in awhile you get shown the light,
In the strangest of places if you look at it right"

Discuss amongst yourselves....
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No posts this weekend, i've been sobbing quietly in a corner as the Mets continue in freefall. I don't even know where to start. 15/16 in runs scored 15/16 in AVG, OBP, SLG, and hits. Hey, we're tenth in walks. thats not terrible, its not exactly good, but it's the little rays of light you have to look for in these cloudy, dark skied days. At least we have a tiny bit of plate discipline. Suprisingly, most of it comes from Kaz Matsui, and his team leading 14 walks. The three worst offenders?

Jason Phillips at 130/254/204

Ricky Gutierrez hittng 143/222/184 (please, please, let Reyes get healthy soon),

TyWigginton at hitting 188/216/333. Hey, at least he's shown some pop, right? Think about that, at 188/216/333 Wigginton is pretty clearly only the third worst hitter amongst our regulars (counting Gutierrez as a regular for now). How scary is that?

What's really sad is that in the last six games we've given up a grand total of 16 runs (2.66/game) and we're 1-5 (pause while i vomit involuntarily). 25 runs in the first 3 games, remember how great the offense looked? Ya, 41 runs in the next 15 games (2.77 a game..and i'm running for the bathroom again to throw up) Right...now where was i...oh yeah, GOD $#@%*^& DAMNIT! CAN"T ANYONE HERE HIT THE BALL?! Sorry, but i think we all know it needed to be said. You should all try it, it will make you feel better. Stick your head out the window, or open the front door and just scream CAN"T ANYONE HERE HIT THE FUCKING BALL?! (though, if you don't live in New York, you might want to throw an adendum on there afterwards, letting your neighbors know what your talking about). I'm past the point of dealing with it. We were 5-4, looking halfway decent, and everyone was happy, everything was good. Swept by the Pirates(no, no..really, cmon..your joke right, the Pirates?!), and i dealt with it, i told myself "these things happen, forget it". Now? Now im pissed. A triple a lineup couldve gone 4-2 with the pitching we've had. Not the Mets though, we give up under 3 runs a game and lose 5 of 6. I'm fed up, and it's time to let the bitching flood gates open. Like Avkash said....Vent. Go ahead, do it. You know you want to. No excuses. No silver linings. No optimism. Just let whoever you think deserves it, have it. So open up at that window, and let your nieghbors know exactly what you think. I've done my venting, so now i'll return to sobbing quietly in the corner.



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Thursday, April 22, 2004

Ya, i gotta do it. I love the Senator so much, and i feel so strongly that he's got some good baseball left in him, I'm officially changing my NL Cy Young prediction from the injured Mark Prior, to none other then Senator Al Leiter. Ya, that's right...you heard me.
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One more tidbit on Leiter.

From Avkash's article...

No matter how you look at it, Leiter is slowly losing any ability he has to stay in a game.

Ok, Avkash, i love ya man, you know i've got a ton of respect for your writing, but what games are you watching? 2.08 ERA over his last 16 starts! You find me another pitcher in baseball that can say that. I'm not sure there are any, and if there is, i suspect his name is Prior.

Just in case that isn't enough for you though, how about the K/9 back within a hair of 7 (6.95 to be exact). Or how's this? Over his last 16 starts, Leiter has pitched 101 innings (if your curious, that's about 6 1/3 innings per start), in that span he's given up 78 hits, or exactly the number of batters he's struck out. Batters hit .224 aganst him last year after his injury. This year they're hitting 177/271/194. Over three starts this year, batters have an IsoP of 17 off of the Senator. That's ridiculous! I don't know what more you could possibly want...
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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

A response to Avkash

God damn you Avkash. I really, really was going to get to sleep by 3ish tonight. Now here i am at 4 am first starting an article that's probably going to take me an hour. Anyway..

Let me start by saying that Avkash is one of my favorite baseball writers alive right now, professional, blogger, or otherwise, but there are some things we disagree on, and Tom Glavine and the Senator are two of those. We exchanged several e-mails at one point about Glavine, that i really meant to post here, but never got around to it. This time, i'm posting before i get lazy about it. And one more note, Al Leiter, or the Senator as he's referred to, is my favorite baseball player, and has been for 3 or 4 years, so forgive me if i get a little vehement here.

Let me start off with this one mildly important stat:

2001: 3.32 ERA (*lgERA = 4.10 - ERA for a league average pitcher in the combination of ballparks Leiter pitched in)
2002: 3.48 (*lgERA = 3.91)
2003: 3.99 (*lgERA - 4.24)

Let me also point out that Leiter has never had an adjusted ERA+ (ERA relative to the league average, and adjusted for the pitcher's home park) below 100 in his time with the Mets, meaning he has been a better then league average every season he's pitched for us.

So is Al Leiter in decline? Almost definately. He's 38, has lost some velocity, and has a downward trend in his numbers. There's no arguing that. But Leiter in decline is still a pretty damn good pitcher for now. Don't believe me? Check this out.

NL starters ERA, Post-All Star

1. Mark Prior 82.8 IP 1.52 ERA
2. Wilson Alvarez 71.1 IP 1.77 ERA
3. Al Leiter 83.2 IP 2.15 ERA

Can you say dominant?

Was it a short lived renaissance, or did Leiter, who came into the season clearly out of shape, work himself back into shape to return to his vintage form. Well, you tell me...

2004: 17.1 IP 0.52 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, .177 BAA

Here comes that word again...dominant.

Not that i'm giving Leiter a pass for coming into 2003 out of shape, there's no excuse for that when you make as much money as he does, but it seems pretty clear that the future junior Senator from the great state of New York has some excellent basbeall left in him before he hits the political scene. And since when is one run in 17 1/3 innings "pretty mediocre results". And as for him not pitching 7 innings, it's true that Leiter didn't go 7 in two of his three starts, but in this case, i'm blaming Art Howe, since it seems fairly obvious it wasnt Leiter's pitching that made him leave early.

And what about that huge decline in 7 inning starts last year? Let's have a look

2003 - pre DL: 1/17 (6%)
2003 - post DL: 6/13 (47%)

Looks like the Senator was good for 7 innings in about half his starts, just like he had been in 2001 and 2002.

If you'd prefer, we can look at his IP/S after coming off the DL...

83 2/3 IP / 13 starts = 6.44 IP/S or almost exactly what he did in 2001, and better then 2002

I'm not going to bother with batters faced, since Avkash showed that that's been at basically the same level for three years now.

So except for the first half of 2003, during which Leiter was out of shape (which admittedly, is his fault), and abttling injuries, someone please show me the huge decline over the last three years?

Actually, can you show me a decline over the last four years, because just for the record, 1999 was Leiter's worst year as a Met. Is there a decline from 1998? Yes, a quite obvious one. But Leiter was a legitiamte Cy Young candidate in 1998. Noone is expecting that out of the 38 year old Senator. But dating back to last year, Leiter has been one of the five best pitchers in baseball over his last 16 starts, so don't be at all shocked if he posts an ERA this year worthy of the term "ace".

I have more to say on this, but it's now 5:30, and since i have a paper due Thursday, i'm now looking at like 4 hours sleep. Damn you Avkash...



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Almost forgot. New Mets blog out, Dave's Mostly Mets Blog. Links up to your right, go check it out.
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As my old pal Scooby Doo would say, ruh roh. The Mets have lost 4 out of 5, including getting swept in a 3 game set with the Pirates (the Pirates?! thats a joke, right?) to slip into 3rd place in the East 3.5 games behind the Phish, who just got swept by the Braves. The difference being that the Phish (and just for the record, i've been calling them that since before Gammons started doing it - see links to hippie music on the sidebar) are still in first place, and they got swept by the 12 time defending division champion Ya ya i know, they were in the NL West at first, and the Expos in '94, but still. We got swept by the Pirates (no seriously, that's a joke right?), and we're now 2 games under .500. Can't the Mets ever get on the same page? It's been a maddening inconsistency these last 2+ years. We can hit sometimes, we can pitch sometimes, we just can't ever seem to do both at the same time for an extended period. I know that we're battling injuries right now, and getting Floyd, and even more so Reyes back is going to help this team. But if you'd told me before the season that Kaz Matsui would be hitting 302/415/472, Mike Piazza would have 3 HR before the first weekend was out, Karim Garcia was working out nicely, and Mike Cameron was..well, Mike Cameron. And on the other side of the ball, Glavine and Leiter were a combined 3-0, and the higher ERA between them was a microscopic 0.90 ERA,, not to mention, Braden Looper had yet to give up an earned run in the closer's role. If you'd said all that to me two weeks ago, i'd have told you the Mets would probably be in first place, and certainly no worse then 10-4, or maybe 9-5 Even with Floyd and reyes hurt, i couldn't have possibly imagined any worse then 8-6. And yet here we are at 6-8. Why? At this point, i'm blaming the bullpen. 3 blown leads. 2 tie games lost in the 8th. Al Leiter's pitched 3 dominant games, giving up just one runs in 20 innings, and he's got 1 win to show for it because his team can't give him any run support, and we're 1-2 in those games because the bullpen lost two of the games late. If i were Senator Al and Tom Glavine, i'd be pretty pissed, because the old guys are getting the job done. They've pitched their asses off so far, and we're still sinking towards the bottom of the standing.

On a positive note, Jose Reyes is getting stronger, and should be returning to the lineup soon..we hope.
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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Yay! new computer happiness. And just for the record, i actually wound up with a different system

Athlon64 3200+ / 800 FSB / 1 MB cache
512 MB PC 2700 (to be upgraded to 2GB PC 3200)
200 GB HD
ATI Radeon 9600 Pro (and seriously, again, i know some of you reading this site are gamers. get off the Nvidia's. the new ATI cards are superior)

Needless to say, i'm a happy guy right now. This machine kicks some serious ass. I've gone from struggling through Lineage II open beta with massive video lag issues to performance that borders on perfect. No, i take that back, in 3-4 hours of game time, i've yet to experience anything but exceptionally smooth play. It IS perfect. Graphics went from nice, to fucking incredible, pardon the language. And best of all, i can run 64 bit applications once they start being released. Actually Unreal Tournament released a 64 bit version, though its the only thing that i'm aware of that's done so.

Anyway, back to talking about the Mets tommorow...or later today actually, seeing as it's 5 AM. In the meantime, go take a peek at Oakland's team stats, and you'll notice that every Mets Bloggers cult favorite, the loveable Marco Scutaro is hitting .390 while playing full time. I'm so glad we kept Cedeno, Timo Perez, and others on the 40 man instead of Scutaro, a player who, you know, has this little thing that i like to refer to as "value".
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Friday, April 16, 2004

Massive computer issues. I've got anew system o nthe way, but it'll be a week or more before it gets here. Until then, i'm going to try and continue to post every day, but it might be difficult, with IE crashing on me every 5 minutes. Just for the record, once my new system arrives, i'll be running the following

Athlon XP 3200+ / 400 FSB
512 MB PC 2700 DDR RAM (soon to be upgraded to 1 GB)
80 GB Hard Drive
ATI Raedeon 9600 Pro (the new Raedeon's kick ass. i highly recommend making the switch from Nvidia)

I can't wait.

Oh yea. lets go islanders...again
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Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I've got three words for tonight... Let's Go Islanders.
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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Piazza, Reyes, and Floyd missed the home opener...yada yada, you've read it. Is every Mets game this year going to be a slugfest? I think the over/under on the next game is 25 runs. The Mets won 10-6 today , without any home runs. The entire makeshift lineup was spraying hits all over the field, as we built up a 10-0 lead. No way the bullpen could blow that right? They certainly made it interesting. After Steve Traschel pitched six innings of 1 run ball, Grant Roberts proceeded to give up 4 runs, all earned in 1 innings, to bring it to 10-5 heading into the 9th. Roberts has looked really, really (really) bad since that 5th inning against the Expos in spring training. I'm wondering if maybe he wore himself out with the long outings early in the spring, because he's just getting hammered. Back to the game though. 10-5 in the 9th. Still no problem, right? Uh huh..well, Dan Wheeler came on, and after striking out the first batter, allowed two singled, dropped a ball to allow Marcus Giles to reach safely, and then another single to bring it to 10-6, with Andruw Jones coming to the plate as the tying run, and 1 out. Much to the relief of Mets fans everywhere, Braden Looper came on and got Jones to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end it. Thank god. If we had blown the game after leading 10-0, combined with the Islanders loss on two bad goals early in the game, then i might have broken something. I like our pitching matchups for the rest of the series. Tyler Yates pitches tommorow against Jon Thomson. I've got this one penciled into my schedule as a must see, after Yates outstanding performance last week. Then Wednesday Senator Al goes up against sophmore Horacio Ramirez.
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Monday, April 12, 2004

Had some issues with the links. The new Mets blog "Mets Forever" really is to your right now, i swear.
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New Mets blog up called Mets Forever. I was just over there and there's soemg ood stuff up. Go check it out, link is to the right.
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The good news, Tom Glavine pitched a gem today. The bad, Cliff Floyd is headed to the DL with a hamstring injury. Floyd pulled up lame while running down the first base line, and had to be helped off the field by Art Howe and a coach. I don't want to talk about that today though. I've been trying to get my predictions up all week, and it just hasnt happened. I know it's kinda cheating once we're a week into the season, but just for the recod....


NL East
Marlins
Phillies
Mets
Braves
Expos

My better sense tells me there's no way the Braves drop all the way to 4th. Hell, part of me still thinks they're going to win the division. In the end though, I'll stick with habit and predict the Braves collapse. It has to happen eventually, doesn't it? However, i am not jumping on the Phillies bandwagon. Everyone's so quick to write off the Marlins as a fluke, just like the Angels two years ago. Not me. I think the Marlins will win the division this year, and be a serious contender in October. Why? One word; pitching. Josh Beckett will be a serious Cy Young candidate this year. And he might not even be the best pitcher on the team after the All Star break, if A.J. Burnett comes back full strength from Tommy John surgery. NL RoY Dontrelle Willis (even though Brandon Webb should have won), Brad Penny throws 98 with strong secondary stuff, Carl Pavano's stuff is so good he was once BA's No 1 prospect. The Marlins are just loaded with 20 something starters that can overpower hitters. And if you look past the loss of Lee and Pudge, you'll see that there's still enough offense with Pierre, Castillo, Lowell, Cabrera, and Conine. I think Hee Sop Choi will come through with a good year as well. The Phillies will win around 90 games, and be in the thick of the Wild Card race. I'm looking for 83-85 wins out of the Mets, a dramatic improvement, but not enough to make it to October.

NL Central
Cubs
Astros - Wild Card
Cardinals
Cincinatti
Milwaukee
Pittsburgh

Cubs are too good for the Astros, and the whole league, finishing with the best record in the NL. Best rotation in baseball 1-5, without a doubt. Patterson/Alou/Sos/Lee/Ramirez will score plenty of runs, especially since they could set some records for runs allowed. The Astros will edge out the Phils for the Wild Card behind Pettite and Clemens, and because they'll beat up on the weak bottom of the division. The Cards could lead the league in runs scored, but don't have anyone competent for the back of the rotation. The rest of the division is under .500 unless Griffey, Dunn, and Kearns all have big years for the Reds.

NL West
Giants
Padres
Dodgers
D-backs
Rockies

Why is everyone writing off the Giants? This team isn't a whole lot different from last year's team. Losing Jose Cruz hurts, but Aurillia hasnt hit in a couple years now, and Pierzynski is an upgrade at catcher over the agless Benito Santiago. And last year's teams won 100 games. I don't see them repeating that, but i'm looking for 90-95 wins and a division title. The Pads have a great lineup and some promising young pitching. They'll win 85 games and could go into 2005 as the division favorite. The Dodgers can't hit, but their pitchign keeps them above .500. The D-backs are awful beyond Johnson and Gonzalez. The Rockies are just plain awful, though Todd Helton is a monster, Coors Field or not.

AL East
Yankees
Red Sox - Wild Card
Blue Jays
Orioles
Devil Rays

Tough division, top to bottom. I think every team could play .500 ball. If the Devil Rays don't the only reason will be that they play in such a tough division. I'd love to pick the Red Sox at the top, i really would. But with Nomar, Nixon and Kim on the DL, and Bill Mueller almost certain to regress towards the mean, i just can't.Losing Pettite and Clemens hurts, and Kevin Brown is going to break down, but Javier Vazquez is the most overlooked pitcher in all of baseball, and Jose Contreras actually put up some good numbers last year once he settled down. And the offense is one for the ages. They went out and adressed there only whole, right field, by adding Gary Sheffield, whose coming off a year that would win MVP in most leagues/years. Then when a third base whole pops up, they go out and get A-Rod, just for kicks (albeit, creating a second base whole in the process). The Yankees are just too strong. Another division title, 105+ wins and the best record in baseball. Boston wins 95-100 games and the Wild Card behind Pedro and Schilling, the best 1-2 in baseball, and the depth of their starters, and their lineup. If Toronto were in the NL West or the AL Central, i think they're division champs, with a shot at 95+ wins. In this division, the'yre an 85-90 win, third place team. Baltimore and Tampa are both improved, but just can't climb out of the cellar, the top three are too strong.

AL Central
Twins
Royals
White Sox
Indians
Tigers

I was really tempted to pick the Royals here, just because i'd like to see them win, and especially with Minnesota rash of injuries this week, but Minnesota is just clearly the most talented team in this division. The Royals will score lots of runs with Berroa, Beltran, Juan Gone, Sweeney, and Matt Stairs, who just destroys right handed pitching. But their young pitching just isn't ready yet. Minnesota's not exactly loaded with pitching, but Johan Santana and Brad Radke is enough in this division. And their lineup, while it lacks the firepower of the Royals, is deep, and should be more then enough. The Chi Sox probably have the best lineup in the division, but i dont see Loaiza repeating last year's superb campaign, ans that leaves them with nothing beyond Buehrle. The Indians will be great...in 2006 or 2007. The Tigers can't possibly be as bad as they were last year, can they?

AL West
A's
Angels
Mariners
Rangers

The most contested division in baseball. I'm looking for all three of the top teams to win between 90-95 games. On paper i think the Angels bullpen and strong lineup makes them the favorite. I also think that Kelvim Escobar was a great pick up, and now that he's away from the turf of the Skydome he's gonna be an ace. I'm still taking the A's because of that big three of Hudson/Zito/Mulder, and to be perfectly honest, just because i like them. The Mariner's are old, but they remain a deep, and extraordinarily balanced team. Any of the three could win and it wouldn't surprise me. The Rangers have one of the best young infields anyone's ever seen, but they're clearly in the cellar here.

NL Cy Young - Mark Prior

Well, i was going to pick Prior without thinking about it, but now that he's going to miss all of April, it becomes a much tougher decision. I almost went with Josh Beckett, but i think Prior coems off the Dl to blow away the leage and take the Cy Young anyway.

Al Cy Young - Javier Vazquez

Can you say run support?

NL MVP - Barry Bonds

Among the experts, few are taking Bonds. I doubt anyone thinks he's going to fall off this year, it's just that they're trying to pick anyone other then Bonds, since he's so obvious. Most of them naturally turn to Pujols. Well, that's certianly possible, if only because i think the writers will be reulctant to give Bonds his 4th straight MVP. When it comes down to it though, is there any doubt Bonds is once again going to be the most dominant player in the game? Chalk it up, 4 straight, and 7 overall for Bonds, Barry Bonds.

AL MVP - Manny Ramirez

The Yankee vote gets split once again, there's noone on the Twins who will put up the numbers, Eric Chavez isn't quite ready for that monster season, and Nomar on the DL leaves Manny as the clear choice for the Sox, who could well win 100 games. He's just gotta stay in the lineup to play 150 + games and rack up those monster RBI numbers. If the Angels make the playoffs and Boston doesn't Vlad takes the award.

NL RoY - Kaz Matsui

He's not going to be the MVP caliber palyer he was in Japan, but Kaz should instantly be one of the best shortstops in the NL. That should easily be enough for the Rookie of the Year award

AL RoY - Bobby Crosby

Joe Mauer's got the best future of any rookie in baseball, but Crosby's farther along in his developement, and he already hits for power. He puts up the better numbers this year to bring home the Trophy

NLCS

Cubs over Marlins: Cubs are the class of the NL, Pitching is just too good for the rest of the league.

ALCS

Red Sox over Yankees: Over 162 games i like the Yankees. Over 7, i like Pedro and Schilling.

World Series

Cubs over Boston: The pitching duels will be classic in this one. The Cubbies take it because Zambrano and Maddux dominate, Lowe and Wakefield do not once we get past each team's big two.
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Saturday, April 10, 2004

I like ESPN's baseball chats. I rarely, if ever stop in when they are actually happening, but i always read them afterwards. Except for the usually brief length, i enjoy most of them quite a bit. As most of those in the blogger univerese are aware, Joe Morgan has taken a lot of heat from bloggers and other "enlightened" baseball thinkers for some truly idotic comments he's made. Most notably his repeated comments on how Billy Beane wrote "Moneyball", but myself and others have also called him out for other comments, like when he proclaimed that MLB saved the Expos by taking over ownership of them, when of course MLB created the whole damn situation by engineering the whole Boston/Florida/Montreal swap meet. I suppose i always knew that when it comes down to it, Joe Morgan knows a lot about baseball. I mean he is a Hall of Famer after all. I just had begun to doubt that he'd ever actually say something intelligent in one of these chats. So when i read this, i damn near died of shock.

Q: Do the Giants have enough protection behind Barry Bonds" (Spelling and grammar corrected, horrible nickname for Bonds removed)

Joe Morgan: First of all, there is no such thing as protection for Barry Bonds. It wouldn't matter who is hitting there, they are not going to pitch to Barry. It doesn't matter who's behind him. The only guy that could protect Barry would be Barry.

Yes, that's actually Joe Morgan writing that, one of the more intelligent things i've ever seen in one of these chats. I've been trying to make that exact point to my friend the Giants fan for months now. He complains that the Giants have no protection for Bonds, and wishes they'd get another bat to force people to pitch to him. I respond by saying almost exactly what Joe Morgan said, though i usually phrase it something like: "Listen man, unless your going to ressurect someone named Ruth, or Williams, there is no protection for Bonds. You could put Manny, Todd Helton, and Pujols in the three spots behind him, and they're still gonna walk him if first is open." Joe Morgan and I, making the exact same point. Scary

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Friday, April 09, 2004

And the combination of Mike Stanton and Braden Looper has cost Tyler Yates his first major league win. CAN WE GET A FUCKING BULLPEN?! 3rd straight blwon game by the relievers.
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Yates final line: 84 pitches / 58 strikes. 5 hits, 0 runs in 6 innings, 4 K / 0 BB. Wonderful debut for the rookie, now let's see if the bullpen can hold it. Mike Stanton is pitching right now. I'm scared.
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Bottom of the 6th, 4 hits allowed, no runs, three K's, no walks. I'm loving Tyler Yates so far. He's throwing hard, isnt afraid to challenge hitters, and is throwing strikes. As of this writing, 49 of 69 pitches have been for strikes. With his stuff, that's all Yates needs to do to succeed. Keep hitting those spots, and he'll have a real nice season.
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After missing his start last night, Scott Erickson is headed to the DL. And with that goes any chance we had of trading him. Can we please just release him now? Jae Seo was called up to take his spot on the team, and hopefully in the rotation. And if Seo continues his spring struggles, Aaron Heilman looked real good tonight in AAA.
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Once again the offense scored plenty of runs, and once again the Mets bullpen blew the game. 25 runs, and we win 1 out of 3 games. Pathetic. Dan Wheeler was good through three innings, and then it all fell apart with the Braves scoring in the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th. Old Man Franco was most to blame, getting hammered for four runs in just 2/3 of an inning.

Nice to see how well that Scott Erickson thing is working out too. He couldn't even stay healthy enough to make his first start, getting scratched during the warmups. If he misses his next turn in the rotation, will this horrible experiment finally end? It may almost be better that Erickson couldnt make the start, because i'm not convinced that the Mets would trade him if he started the season off well. They might actually let him take a spot in the rotation all year, and then my head would explode. Noone wants that, right? No, it's better if either Seo or Heilman get another shot in the show, and what little is left of my sanity after two summers on hippie tour remains intact.

You really gotta like how the offense looks though. With Floyd, Piazza, Cameron, and Phillips all off to good starts, i'm envisioning a pretty good 3-4-5-6. If Matsui and Reyes can get on base and put some pressure on defenses, we could actually be a somewhat formidable line up. Ty Wigginton looks like our worst hitter, and that ain't so bad. We still won't have enough pitching to compete, but it should at least make games more fun to watch, and that's never a bad thing.
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Wednesday, April 07, 2004

I started to keep a log of this game also, but after the third it wasnt so much of a commentary as an ongoing string of curses, so i scratched that. As i write this it's now 16-7 in the 8th, and i'm already getting irritated at the inevitable "we battled" from Art Howe. And everything looked so good when we were up 6-0. Starting the season with two decisive victories over the Braves, what could have been better? All well. At least we can take a few good things out of the first two games. Tom Glavine looked good. The offense looks great. Cliff Floyd got on track with two hits tonight. Piazza went 5-5 tonight with two home runs, a double, and 4 RBI. He just looks dialed in at the plate. Anything in the strike zone he crushes. And that second homer tonight? Even Mike was impressed. If you catch the replay, check out Piazza's expression when he glances up to look. All of a sudden i'm wondering if we could see the Piazza that competes for batting titles again. Phillips is 3-7 with two doubles three walks. Matsui is 4-7 with a HR, two doubles, and 3 walks. If the first two games are any indication, we could score some runs this year. Now if we could just keep from giving up 18 runs.


The play by play guy on MSG (as i've mentioned before, it's been 7-8 years since i've lived in the Metro area, so forgive me for not knowing his name) said something tonight to the effect of; "The Mets need to come up with a stopper. there are a couple of different types of stoppers, generally people think of the closer in the 9th, but it's also important to have a guy who can come in earlier and put a stop to the big inning, or a rally. There are other times during the game when you need a shut down reliever." Now that's a long way from recognizing how over valued the closer's role is, or that perhaps you use your most dominant reliever whenever it's really necessary, and not just for the 9th. But hey, it's a completely mainstream anouncer. At least he's recognizing that there are other points in a game where a dominant reliever is just as important as in the 9th. If everyone starts thinking that way, it's a start.

And one final note: There's a new book coming out about the '86 Mets, "The Bad Guys Won" by former SI baseball writer and current Newsday reporter Jeff Pearlman. As he tells us on his website, Jeff grew up with that team, and credits them as the reason he loves baseball. Should be a good read. Go check it out, link to the right.
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Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Keeping a running journal of the game:

1st inning

1-0 Mets before i eve had time to settle into my chair. Kaz Matsui's home run was gorgeous. He sent the first pitch of the season 429 feet on a sweet, smooth swing that looked completely effortless. Can't judge anything from 1 swing of the bat, but boy was that pretty.

Gutierrez gets a hit up the middle, but then Floyd, Piazza, and Cameron all fly out. Floyd missed hitting the second home run of the innings by less then a foot.

Here comes Glavine, he goes 3-0 on Furcal before throwing a strike and giving up a hit to center. Here comes Giles..the only Brave i don't hate, why, i 'm not really sure. Well, Glavine's looking great, Giles just took him deep on then first pitch. 2-1 Braves.

Glavine walks Larry on 4 pitches, this is not looking pretty.

Strike 1 to Andruw, 89 MPH and probably an inch off the plate away. Let's all take a moment to pray he gets that pitch all season. Jones hits into a double play. (1-6-3). We needed that. J.D. Drew strikes out swinging through a changeup to end the inning.

2nd inning

Jason Phillips is hitting 6th, which i've assumed all along, but I still had some fears the Mets wouldnt give him enough credit for last year, and drop him down in the order. Good to officially see him in that 6 spot. Phillips starts the year off well on a double to the gap. For a moment i thought Andruw Jones was going to get to it and rob him of the hit. Karim Garcia grounds out to Marcus Giles at second. Here comes Wigginton. I'm expecting some improvement from him this year. Ty looks a little off, behind three straight 92 MPH fastballs from Ortiz. Glavine comes to the plate with 2 outs and a man on third. Any chance he helps his cause? He's been a pretty decent hitting pitcher over his career, and is an exceptional athlete. Glavine was drafted by the L.A. Kings to play hockey before choosing baseball. And Glavine does help his cause with a sharp grounder down the line. DeRosa handled the ball, but rushed the throw to try and get glavine and threw it away. Tie game 2-2. Matsui with a sharp double! I love this man! Mets up 3-2. Both hits came on fastballs, let's see if they come at him with some breaking stuff next time.

Tom Glavine looked good this inning, Three straight outs living on the outside corner. Looks like he's started to settle down and hit his spot. He's still missing outside with the changeup though. Gutierrez made a nice play at second

3rd inning

Floyd leads off, and swings at balls 4 and 5, tapping the latter back to the mound for an out. Here comes Piazza, who nearly got a hold of one in the 1st, but just didnt get it off the right part of the bat. GONE! He certainly hit that one off the sweet spot. Ortiz left one out over the plate and Mike just crushed it. Mike Cameron with a nice hit through the 3rd base hole. Jason Phillips steps up, he's looking real comfortable up there and takes the free pass as Ortiz struggles with his command. Karim Garcia with a little liner that probably should have been snagged by Furcal. It's gonna go down as an error. Bases loaded, one out. As Vinny from YMtR just said to me, c'mon wigg, no double play! 3-1, Ortiz might make this really easy on Wigginton. Shit. Ty just swing at ball 4, i hope that doesnt come back to haunt us. And it won't because Ortiz just walked Wigginton on a ball five feet outside. Think he lost control of a slider. That's gonna do it for Ortiz. Cox is calling for recent aquisition Juan Cruz. Glavine hits a nice little shot to short, but Furcal goes up and snags it. Nearly a double play at second. Here comes Matsui.. Cruz is gonna give him those fastballs he's hammered twice now. Let's see what he can do with them. Well, no connection on those fastballs, but Matsui had a nice at bat, fouling off a couple of tough pitches to draw a walk, and another RBI. 6-2 Mets. I really love this guy! Gutierrez grounds out to first. Almost a hit, but a nice play by Julio Franco before the toss to Cruz to end the inning.

Glavine's got a 4 run lead to work with here, and he's starting to actually look sharp with that infamous low and away pitch that is not a strike. He gets Cruz and Furcal, making several good pitches in a row. He's not getting the call all the time, but at least he's making the pitches he wants to make. We need Bobby V here, fighting for his pitcher's calls and Glavine would still get that pitch, the way Cox helped him and Maddux get it for years. Glavine looks sharp though. He gave up a hit to Giles, and Chipper hit the ball hard (but right at Matsui) to end the inning, but other then that, real nice work.

4th inning

Floyd leads off, the only Met not to reach base tonight..and that continues as he grounds out to second. Piazza strikes out looking at a nasty fastball on the outside corner from Cruz. Cameron stays patient on Cruz, and draws a walk, keeping the inning alive. And Jason Phillips makes them pay! another double, this one off the wall. Cameron got a huge jump off of first and comes all the way around to score. 7-2 Mets, and i'm loving it. Karim Garcia grounds out to end the inning, but Glavine's now got a 5 run lead and pitching well. Looking like a great opening day.

Glavine is pitching well indeed. The Braves went down 1-2-3 in the fourth, and without much of a fight. As Vinny said to me jsut now "He's working the outside corner to perfection now. This is vintage Glavine."

5th inning

Um.. i spent most of the top of the fifth discussing whether or not Glavine is done with Vinny. For the record, we both agree that he is not, and could enjoy a nice little comeback this season.

Glavine continues cruising, making easy work of the Braves in the fifth.

6th inning

My dog decided it was time for a walk and i missed the Mets at bats. Glavine ran into a bit of trouble in the 6th, with Giles almost going deep, a hit by Larry, and a walk to Andruw. Peterson made a call to the pen to get Weathers up, but Glavine gets Drew ona deep fly to end the inning, keeping it 7-2 Mets.

7th inning

Phillips leads off with another walk against new Braves pitcher Antonio Alfonseca, who looks like he's about 300 lbs. He's throwing 96 with, but with no control. Phillips has now been on base all 4 times tonight. Great start for him, as so far it looks like last year was certainly no fluke. You've gotta love his patience at the plate. Karim Garcia hits a 2-2 pitch up the middle. 1st and 2nd, no one out. Wigginton breaks his bat for an out, but does advance the runner. Wigginton and Floyd are the only Mets who havent looked good tonight. Eric Valent comes up to pinch hit for Glavine, whose done for the night. Real solid outing for Tom, that's exactly what he needed to get the season started the right way. He looked great after the 1st. Valent goes down 1-2 but shows some patience, fighting back to 3-2. He fouls off the first 3-2 pitch before grounding out to first on another broken bat. Phillips is too slow to try for the run, especially up 7-2. The Braves are intentionally walking Matsui. I love it! Can't really blame them though. A home run, two doubles and a walk, he's on fire today. Gutierrez has been swinging the bat well tonight, let's see what he can do here. Alfonseca's now thrown 27 pitches, and 17 have been balls. 3-2, 2 outs, bases loaded. Gutierrez strikes out on a fastball right down the middle. Didn't even get a full swing off. All well. We're still up by 5.

Good old reliable David Weathers takes over for Glavine, and starts off by striking out 97 year old Julio Franco. And down goes Estrada on a little blooper. Matsui ranged into shallow center to make the catch. Man is he looking great so far. Weathers sends down DeRosa with another K, finishing off an easy eight.

8th inning
Will Cunnane comes on for the Braves in the eighth. Floyd leads off and swings through a breaking ball. Nice cut though. He fouls off the next pitch, and then swings at a ball for strike three..another K for Floyd. He walks off looking disugsted with his performance. It has been pretty ugly, but everyone around him in the order has picked him up. Floyd had looked really bad, but i'm sure he'll be raking soon enough. Piazza pops up. He hasnt looked good since that HR, but hey..you hit a home run, you get a free pass the rest of the night. Cameron flies out to center for the final out.

I was expecting old man Franco for the 8th, but they're sticking with Weathers after that great seventh. Two easy outs, and then a nice sliding catch for Karim Garcia, his second of the game, to end the inning.

9th innings

The Mets go 1-2-3 again. Good outing for Cunnane, six straight batters retired.

Loopers pitching the ninth. Vinny's got his fingers crossed, but i happen to think Looper will be ok in the closer's role. As Vinny points out, he's getting his first test right here against the heart of the order. Chipper gets a hit in the hole between 1st and 2nd. Reyes wouldve made the play. Beautiful. Jones grounded into a 1-6-3 double play, the second of the game. Drew reaches ona broken bat single. Gutierrez made the stop but couldnt get him in time. Another broken bat, this time Gutierrez scoops it up, and steps on second to end the game.

Mets win 7-2. What a beautiful opening night. Kaz Matsui is our player of the game, without a doubt. He was 3-3 with two doubles, a home run, three RBI and two walks. Honorable mention to Jason Phillips, with two doubles and two walks, and Tom Glavine, who pitched 6 strong innings. Couldn't have asked for anything more. Best opening day in years


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The Mets season is officially under way, and Kaz Matsui just took the first pitch of it deep to straight away center. I'm on AIM under the name Raeyn Taurelinde. Come talk some baseball if your around.
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Sorry for the lack of an update today. Passover Seder. Being past the age of reason though (or at least past the age of living with the parents who force you to attend such things) i will not be partaking in the passover tradition tommorow night, choosing to watch the Mets opener instead. What can i say. You have to have your priorities. I'll be on AIM during the game, for anyone that's watching the game and wants to talk some baseball. Assuming anyone actually takes me up on that, i'll set up a chat room for everyone.
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Monday, April 05, 2004

My take on this whole pitching thing:

I'm surprised that Seo got sent down, bad spring or not. Even after the reports taht his spot wasnt so guarenteed anymore, i never thought he'd actually lose it. You'd think that what he did last year would be enough to give him a spot in the rotation no matter what, just like Art Howe said. However, before i go off on a rant about how it's spring training, and he shouldnt lose his job over it, i get the sense that this had less to do with his spring training numbers, and a lot more to do with the rumored conflict with Rick Peterson. It's just a gut feeling, but i think this was Peterson's call. And if you believe that Peterson decided that Seo should be sent down, i think we can all agree there's no way that the pitching guru made that decision based on his spring training ERA. I think it's more likely that Seo really is showing some resistance to Peterson's new program. And if that's the case, i think the decision is justified. What it all boils down to though is that i believe that this was Rick Peterson's decision, and for now, i've gotta put my faith in the guru, and trust that he knows what he's doing. Hopefully Seo comes around, and is back in the rotation soon.

Along the same lines, i think that Yates being given the no 4 spot has less to do with his spring training numbers then how well he's taken to Peterson's program. By all accounts, Yates has really thrived under Peterson's new techniques. That little story about the side session which i've mentioned twice now really says it all. If Yates really threw a side session with his eyes closed, and his mechanics and visualization were so on cue that he never missed his target, he probably won himself a spot in the rotation right then. AS you all know, i favored giving Grant Roberts the shot, but i dont have any problem with the hard throwing Yates, any of the youngsters would have been ok in my view. And Yates has obviously made a huge impression on Mets brass this month.

I'ma bit more pessimistic on Scott Erickson. I hope this is just an extended audition for a trade, that the Mets want to give Erickson a shot to pitch a couple of good games, in order to raise his trade value(read: to give him any value at all). I only pray we're not seriously considering letting him pitch for us all year, while multiple young starters (or potential starters), that might actually have a future with the team remain in the bullpen or AAA. If nothing else, you have to expect either Seo or Heilman to earn their way back to the majors at some point this year. Do we really need a 36 year old pitcher who has never really been anything more then an innings eater blocking their path. If we want to let him make a few starts as an audition, but he needs to be traded the second a team offers even a marginal prospect.
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Sunday, April 04, 2004

Shots are on me!!

Cedeno was traded to the cardinals(Pause while i dance around the room in joy). In return we recieved (as if anyone cares) backups Chris Widger and Wilson Delgado. Neither of them will probably ever play a day for the Mets, but who cares? I think i speak for everyone when i say that the BP pitcher and a couple of used bats would have been more then enough for Cedeno.
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Say it ain't Seo

Jae Weong Seo was one of the few bright spots on the 2003 Mets. Despite some mid season struggles, the young right hander put together what everyone considered a breakthrough campaign. When spring training began Art Howe said that Jae Weong Seo was guarenteed the fourth spot in the rotation, no matter how he performed in camp. How quickly things can change. After a rocky spring, and rumored conflict with new pitching guru Rick Peterson over the use of his breaking ball, Seo is headed back to AAA.

The final two spots in the rotation will be manned by Tyler Yates and Scott Erickson, the two winners of what was supposed to be a competition for one job. The 26 year old Yates has has impressed everyone with a great spring, posting a 0.64 in 14 Grapefruit League innings. What really won him the job though, is how well the young fireballer has taken to the Peterson's new pitching program. Peterson had Yates throw a side session with his eyes closed last week. How well has Yates mastered his mechanics and visualization? He never missed the catcher's target. You've gotta love that. I know Rick Peterson did.

As for Scott Erickson, there are already rumors that he is on the trade block. As many as five teams reportedly have interest. Erickson has been throwing well all spring, and if he stays healthy should be an effective fifth starter wherever he lands. It would be a minor coup for the Mets if we can get even a marginal prospect for him, as Erickson was easily available to any team that wanted to give him an invitation to camp. We gave him the chance, it's worked out well and now we could see some reward for it.

Edit: My commentary on the pitching situation is coming soon. I apologize for the lack of posts the last few days, i've been having issues with my computer that i am trying to resolve. I've finally gotten it at least reasonably healthy, and can get back to posting, so expect more of my take on all this tommorow.
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Friday, April 02, 2004

Just shoot me. Jose Reyes is headed to the DL. In his first real swing since injuring his hamstring 17 days ago, Reyes felt a sharp pain in the injured hamstring, and immediately ended his workout. Nothing's been made official yet, but Reyes is almost certainly headed to the DL, and is doubtful at best for the Mets home opener on April 12th.

I have officially crossed the line from concerned to #$%^ing terrified about the phenom's right leg. Last winter, twice last season, now twice again this offseason. Five incidents in 13-14 months. It's like a horror movie, when all the lights in the house go out. Never a good sign.
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