Monday, October 22, 2007

Week Off

The blog will be out of action for a week, as I am driving to Colorado having run into some World Series tickets. Go Sox.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hey Guys! It's Us! No, Over Here!

You'd think the New York Metropolitans had died or moved to Kansas. Fade to black. From the last week of September: the great pulling of teeth, to the first week in October: the exodus, the week of sorrow, pain, disgust and anger, to nothing. I swear I haven't heard a thing about the Mets anywhere in the mainstream NY media since the Indians celebrated on the hallowed grounds of the Boss's toilet. Beyond that, if you didn't know better, you might think the playoffs had just stopped, Sopranos-style, with no ALCS, no NLCS, no WS. They just ended when the Yankees bowed out.

There are a lot of unfortunate elements to this whole situation. I say hats off to Joe Torre for turning down an offer that can only be called an insult. He wins for championships, gets in to the postseason every year, and arguably restores respectability to the Yankee franchise, and he gets offered a one-year deal with a 2 million dollar pay-cut after 10 days of limbo. That is a slap in the face. Period. Good for him for not sheepishly submitting to the House of Steinbrenner.

And now,
I don't want to hear Joe Torre's name for a long time. Torre is a truly decent human being, and was certainly a great manager. That said, this Torre circus has been enough. The Red Sox and Indians are two hours removed from game 5 of an ALCS, ace vs. ace, and the first question fielded today by Red Sox manager Terry Francona concerned Joe Torre. The Colorado Rockies have won 21 of 22 games, the Cleveland Indians can smell their first title since Truman was in office, the New York have holes-a-plenty to fill this winter,Mets and all we've heard about is Joe Torre.

Alas, the supply will always meet the demand, and if you ever happen to tune in to WFAN in New York, you will have heard endless Joe Torre calls for the last week. Mayor Bloomberg chimed in. So I suppose my wish to put this story to rest will not be heeded, and that's fine, but can we at least take a spare moment to look at what else is going on in baseball? If there were ever a reason that the rest of the country resents to hell all teams from our neck of the woods, this is it. Go watch the World Series, even if the Red Sox do get eliminated some time before Sunday.

I can only hope that in the wake of all this, a couple of notable Yankees, (but mostly Jorge Posada) decide to go elsewhere (Queens). Should he become available, hate him as I have for so many years, it's an absolute no-brainer.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Offseason Needs: Outfield


Carlos Beltran, Moises Alou, Shawn Green, Lastings Milledge, Carlos Gomez, Marlon Anderson, Damion Easley, Jeff Conine, David Newhan, Ricky Ledee. All of these characters started in the Met outfield this season.

In any given season, one almost has to assume that Carlos Beltran will be shut down for some period of time. Seeing as he is the only sure thing in the OF going into next year, it figures that having a couple of reliable guys around him would really benefit the club. I like Moises Alou, I really do, and I can't say enough about how he performed this year
when he was around. There was an endless period of waiting for Alou to get healthy, and this coupled with the Milledge/Green/Gomez shuffle set up a somewhat nebulous team identity. Most folks seem to want Moises back, and that seems likely from the Mets' end as well, but I truthfully don't see that as being a smart move. Is half a year of Alou and half a year of a replacement player going to benefit the team much more than bringing in a decent outsider, who will probably play a better LF?

Then there is right field. For starters, Shawn Green has absolutely no shot here, though again I like him (My season tix are in RF, so I develop a report...). Milledge becomes the likely go-to guy, and I wouldn't have a problem with that if a replacement LF is brought in, but I'm not sure Milledge is still a Met come April. Any deal for a real front-line starter probably involves Milledge, and to me, Carlos Gomez is not ready to be a full-time Major League player.

Consequently, there are two conceivable vacancies in the expansive Shea outfield in 2008. Here are the notable potential free agents:
Bobby Abreu (Team Option, 16mil), Barry Bonds, Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter, Milton Bradley, Aaron Rowand, Mike Cameron, Adam Dunn, Brady Clark, Luis Gonzalez, Darin Erstad, Geoff Jenkins, Corey Patterson, Brad Wilkerson, Rob Mackowiak, Sammy Sosa, Kosuke Fukudome.

Abreu's option getting picked up or not largely will depend on the A-Rod/Posada/Rivera dealings, and Dunn's team option is almost a sure no-go. Jenkins has an option that I'm not sure about, but I could see a Brewers team that close to contention picking it up. You can pretty much rule out Cameron, Bonds and Sosa, and probably a few others based on lack of talent. The interesting names here are Abreu, Andruw, Hunter, Dunn and Jenkins. Then, of course, there's Japanese superstar Kosuke Fukudome.

I don't want anything to do with Andruw, despite reports that the Mets have interest. First off, the idea of moving Beltran in to right and Andruw in center is just ludicrous. The legend of Andruw Jones the center fielder has gone too far at this point. Yes, Andruw was historically good with the glove early in his career, but he has been in a steady decline to the point of being a less than average CF at this point. See Jayson Stark's article from last May
. Add his horrible offensive year (.222/.311/.413), the sour taste Met fans have for him, and the immensity of the contract he is surely due, and not signing Andruw Jones is a no-brainer.

I have the same feeling about Fukudome. There's really no way to know exactly how he would perform stateside, and a certain second baseman currently playing in the NLCS leaves a bit of soreness around here when it comes to investing a whole lot into Japanese players. For the record, Kaz Matsui's Japanese numbers (.309/.361/.486, 306 sb's in 9 years) are about as good as, maybe better when you add the sb's and the weak offensive position Matsui plays at, than Fukudome's (.305/.397/.543, 70 sb's in 9 years). Granted, there have been plenty of success stories out of Japan, but as many bust. I don't know that this team could afford the fallout of a Kaz Matsui v. 2.0, complete with a huge contract, after the collapse of this season. If they sign him and he's incredible, great, but I don't see it.

Of the other big names, I like Dunn the best. I like Rowand, and would be happy to see him signed, but Rowand's bat tends to fluctuate year by year, and I'm not sure how much of a shot the Mets have at him based on level interest elsewhere. The same goes for Hunter, who is basically blocked by Beltran, and will be brought in by someone else to be a franchise CF. Abreu is a wild card, because the Yankees could easily sign him, and his reputation, fair or not, as a non-gritty, weak clubhouse player could hurt a lot on a team in need of fire. A lot of people hate Adam "Nice Guy Dave Kingman" Dunn, but I don't see how he hurts. There are plenty of bats on this team that can provide a base hit when you need it, and the power he would provide in the lineup easily makes up for the low average. How many times did the Mets trail by 3+ runs this year, and seem finished if Wright and Beltran didn't do it? I would love a Dunn signing if Alou were gone and a solid glove started in RF.

Essentially, as far as position players go, this team has question marks at four positions: C, 2B, LF, RF. In my eyes, two of these positions need to be filled with impact players, and seeing as this is probably impossible at 2B, and improbable at C, at least one needs to come in the form of an outfielder. Just not Andruw, please, not Andruw.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How the Yankees Affect Us

I've remained somewhat silent over the last few days, not really knowing whether to comment any more on the Yankees, and feeling that any side post commenting on Omar's last appearance on the Fan would seem a little irrelevant. There is no doubt that right now the story is the Yankees, and even as Met fans, we are dominated by the whole thing. It truly is difficult to determine to what extent one should curb one's self as a Met fan in terms of the Yankees. In my case the emotional investment goes pretty deep, seeing as I have also always rooted for the Red Sox.

As a Met fan, however, half the time that I feel like killing the Yankees or even acknowledging their existence, I feel like I may be doing something wrong. On the other hand, when I encounter a Met fan that doesn't really have anything against the Yankees, and maybe even pulls for them once the Mets are out of it, I always want to slap some sense in to him.

I suppose it comes down to finding that happy medium between ignoring what certainly is and should be a rivalry, and seeming like a clueless, jealous brat.

Did I have a great big grin on when the Bombers got knocked out? Yep. Did I cheer and yell and scream? Yep.
But I didn't call every Yankee fan I knew to gloat, nor did I have the urge to spray it all over the blog. I have some compassion for Joe Torre, who truly is a decent human being, and happens to be from the greatest borough on earth. I can step back and appreciate the magnitude of the run they have made, without getting too whiny over it.

But I cheered. For what it's worth, this is a team with a uniquely obnoxious fanbase that is directly at odds with us in terms of our market, and in this day and age, having to compete within a market against a team is almost as significant having to play that team. If we are the holdouts or descendants of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants, we gotta hate that other team. Period. Just hate in an evolved manner, unless you are in the privacy of your own home. Basically, don't do the Yankees Suck chant when it's not a Subway Series; that kinda sums it up.

Beyond the odd relationship, the implications that this series could have on the Mets are definitely strong.
For one thing, the Yanks going and winning a championship after that Met collapse could seriously hinder the pace of the Orange and Blue wave that's been coasting through NYC. We finally start to get relevant, start to really compete, and then we get knocked out and they win the series? No good.
Second, the probable departure of Torre leaves the door open for a lot of free agents to not be as inclined to stay in pinstripes. What do the Mets need this offseason? SP, RP, OF, C. Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Bobby Abreu and Jorge Posada are all potential FA's that to me would seem more likely to test the market with Joe gone. Do I think it's likely that Andy Pettitte or Mariano would end up here? No. Not at all, really, but the other two make for some pretty interesting speculation. Then there's always A-Rod. Yikes. There's hardly any way he doesn't opt out of that contract, and you could visualize ownership trying to repent for that little mistake Steve Phillips made way back when. I'm just not sure if it makes any sense. For all the flak he catches, I won't say I wouldn't welcome him to Shea, but where? Wright at second? A-Rod at second? Wright to first and Carlos Delgado relaxing in the dugout to the tune of 16mil on his backloaded contract? Who knows...
EDIT: This just popped up on Rivera
The third implication the Yankees' loss has on this team and its fans: Yeah, it feels good to have some company on the downbound train.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Tense and Entitled

It's pretty clear that none of the common maxims concerning postseason success are accurate. You can say pitching wins championships and look at the Yankees having won 26 of them with arguably only 2-3 pitchers that deserve to be considered in the top 50 all-time. You can say playoff experience wins championships and look at the 2002 Angels, the '97 and '03 Marlins, or the '07 D'Backs, Rockies and Indians. You can say a strong finish in September equates to wins in October, and then look at the '06 Cardinals and Tigers.
I have a couple pretty non-revolutionary theories about postseason success. A) It's relatively random. B) Loose teams win championships.
Right now the Yankees, quite amusingly from my end, find themselves buried in an 0-2 hole as they return to the Bronx, on the brink of solidifying their 7th straight championship-free year. Certainly if any of the four teams currently down 0-2 had a shot at taking three straight, it would be the Yankees. They're going home to face two pitchers that don't deserve to be in the same rotation with the first two they saw, and any game 5 is a toss-up. That said, I doubt it.
I won't say that this Yankee team lacks heart or hustle; statements like these are really throwaways after they've been said by everyone everywhere since Game 7, 2004. What I believe has really bitten this Yankee team in the rear, to a progressively worse degree every year, is the culture that is cultivated and encouraged from the front office, and trickles on down to the fan on the street. I'm not making any personal attack on the Boss, or any complaints about the payroll here. I have a lot of respect for Steinbrenner for spending that money; as a fan I would hope my ownership spends my money on my team.
The real problem, the culture issue in the Bronx, is the tough love fascination with winning, winning, winning. The banter you hear about "true Yankees", the constant scrutiny of a manager that has never failed to bring you to October, the way many Yankee fans are just waiting to pounce on A-Rod before he even steps up to the plate with RISP, all of these are signs indicative of this attitude. Any failure is viewed as Armageddon, completely unacceptable in all ways. There is no team or fanbase that is totally free of these sentiments, but in the Bronx that is their defining trait. World Series titles are tantamount to a heroin fix, leaving the post-2000 Yankees effectively dopesick. That is the real problem with this mindset; it is impossible for any of these Yankee teams to be loose and relaxed in October. While arrogant and entitled, they are not confident, and it is apparent in their play. They are playing tense and tight, trying to keep up the appearance of being strictly business, and at a point that just doesn't work. The Rockies are having fun, as are the Indians and the Diamondbacks. The Red Sox are having the time of their lives. Is there any way Derek Jeter gives you the reaction Manny Ramirez gave you after hitting a walk-off HR last night? The Indians are playing the Yankees with a drive to win, certainly, but that drive is coupled with a clear awareness of the nature of postseason play; they are enjoying themselves and have the feeling that they have nothing to lose. The Yankees entered this series assuming they would win because they are the Yankees, feeling they had dodged a bullet by missing the Angels to play the AL-leading 96 win Indians in their stadium. Subesquently, they encountered unexpected adversity, and since then they have approached every hitter with an urgency, as if they have everything to lose. Perhaps the only Yankee not guilty of this is Andy Pettitte, who has all but missed the majority of the recent down years.
Around all of the other series the same theme has held true. The relaxed team who knows who they are are winning. Arizona was written off despite notching the NL's best record, but they stayed calm and confident and are on the verge of sweeping a Cub team that is full of holes despite their high profile. Philly has played the right way for months, and maybe they allowed that stretch run to get them ahead of themselves.
I have to admit, this week has been a much better week for this Met fan than last week. Here's to Manny Ramirez.

Glavine Declines 2008 Option

So that's that.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Offseason Needs: Starting Pitching

So I figured I'd incrementally cover the various areas that this team, that is the New York Metropolitans, needs to address. Perhaps the most blatant, and probably the most in need of creativity on the part of Omar Minaya, is starting pitching. So, rather appropriately, we will start with starting pitching. The following are potential/probable free agents for this coming offseason:
Kris Benson, Paul Byrd, Shawn Chacon, Matt Clement, Bartolo Colon, Scott Elarton, Josh Fogg, Casey Fossum, Freddy Garcia, Livan Hernandez, Jason Jennings, John Lieber, Kyle Lohse, Rodrigo Lopez, Wade Miller, Eric Milton, Odalis Perez, Joel Pineiro, Kenny Rogers, Curt Schilling, Carlos Silva, Brett Tomko, Kip Wells, Randy Wolf, Jaret Wright, Victor Zambrano. A few of these players, have team options, but Pineiro and Byrd seem like the only ones with a real shot of getting their options picked up.
Essentially you are left with a bunch of guys who are either below average, injury-prone or very old. No one in this group would fit the title "front-line starter", which ideally is what the Mets would like to acquire. The only two on this list who really stand out at all are Schilling and Kenny Rogers, and either one could easily be resigned by their respective teams. I don't think we'd ever see the Gambler in a Met uniform again. Schilling is old and pretty fragile at this point, but he most likely brings a good deal more to the table than Duque, and with some luck could replace Glavine nicely. I wouldn't be wholly opposed to that option; there is indeed a need to add youth to this team, but there are plenty of other places you can do this, and a 1-2 year deal for a proven veteran to fill one of two rotation vacancies may not hurt. As far as the rest of the list goes, you can totally right of the injury-plagued members. I just can't see Omar envisioning Matt Clement or Bartolo Colon as viable options to solidify a shaky staff. What I could see is bringing in a dependable, league average or so innings eater to replace El Duque in the rotation, sending him to the bullpen; someone along the lines of Carlos Silva, Kyle Lohse or Livan Hernandez. If you write in Pedro, Perez and Maine, and assume some length of injury for one or more, that leaves two spots. The only way a Silva type works here is if there is an additional deal made on the side for a real impact pitcher to fill the other vacant spot. Example rotation: Pedro, Javier Vazquez, Maine, Perez, Carlos Silva, with Pelfrey/Humber as insurance.
Of course, such a scenario is entirely contingent upon bringing that impact guy in. It's tough to speculate on which big-name starters could be made available, but here are some potentials: Johan Santana, C.C. Sabathia, Dan Haren, Dontrelle Willis, Brandon Webb and the entire White Sox rotation. A couple of these are serious stretches as far as availability goes, but you never know. Personally, I would stay the heck away from Willis, as the league seems to figure him out more and more, and he would demand an amount of cash to resign that just wouldn't be worth it. Any Met fan in their right mind would be thrilled to see Santana come to Queens, but what in the world gets him? Milledge, Maine, Humber, plus? Reyes? If through some bizarre act of God Johan becomes available at a price that would not seriously cripple the rest of this team's future, then sure as hell go get him, but I hear too many people saying, "they gotta get Santana", as if it were a forgone conclusion that this were doable within the realm of reason. But hey, Santana, Pedro, Maine, Perez and whoever looks real good. The most likely options would be the usual suspects from the south side of Chicago, and while none of them command the same fear of God that the other names do, there would be a lot of potential for success in the NL. Vazquez would seem to be the most interesting, coming off a year in which he won 15 games, posted a 3.74 ERA and struck out 213 for an abysmal ballclub. One could cite the failed Yankee experiment as a reason not to bring him to NYC, but to be fair the guy got hurt, and the Yankees kinda ran him out of town quickly. He seems like someone who could be gotten for a Gomez, Pelfrey and low-end minor-leaguer, and make a major difference in this rotation. Beyond him you get Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland and Jose Contreras. Any of them could be successful, and gotten at a smaller price. (Consider the El Duque-Contreras element...)
The options really are endless, and with each one arises a new drove of complications. No matter what, there absolutely needs to be a major addition to this rotation in one form or another, because the cross your fingers with the guys you have approach did not work this year.
Kris Benson, anyone? ;)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Shades of '03

Josh Beckett was just downright incredible. There were many times tonight when I really couldn't have told you what pitch he just had just thrown. Fast and active. The Sox tacked on four runs on a couple of homers and a rbi single, and that was that. Beckett threw a complete game, 4-hit shutout, struck out 8 and walked no one. #19 was so absolutely brilliant that it got boring. Not much more of a breakdown for this one. It was all Josh Beckett. Sox win 4-0. Nice.


I honestly didn't think Jeff Francis had it in him. Playoff crap-shoot, as usual. The Rockies ace was basically unhittable, save two bad pitches in the 5th inning. Aaron Rowand and Pat the Bat went back-to-back to lead the inning off, but otherwise Francis only gave up two hits, while striking out eight batters in 6IP. Hamels had a horrific top of the 2nd, throwing 40 pitches while walking in one of the three runs he allowed in the inning, and that was pretty much all she wrote. The back-to-back job provided Philly's only runs, and Matt Holliday chipped on one more run for Colorado with a solo shot in the 8th.
The Colorado 'pen went untouched, and I remain impressed by Clint Hurdle's management of this Colorado team. Every button he pushes seems to work and has seemed to work all year, most notably the promotion of Manny Corpas above Brian Fuentes into the closer's role earlier this year. I really hadn't gotten much of a chance to see Corpas pitch, but he's got it. Bravo for going with the right guy, and not being a slave to roles, a la Joe Borowski.
It may be early, but I really don't see Philly as having a chance in this series. I thought they would win this game one, and having burnt Hamels and handed momentum to a team that really didn't need it, the Candy-Stripin Fightins could be all done quick.
Not that I'm holding a grudge, or anything.
Stat of the game: Phillies 1-4 hitters, 0 for 15, 1BB.

Three Game 1's

So the glaringly Metless postseason kicks off today at 3:00pm. I'm really having to push myself to get wrapped up in the NL side of the bracket, but that SD-COL game certainly didn't hurt.

Game 1: Rockies at Phillies (C. Hamels v. J. Francis), 3pm ET
I have to pencil this one in for the Candy-Stripers. I don't know which way this series will end up; I can see the Rockies pulling it off, but this is a game Philly has to win and does win. Outside of Hamels, who is coming off of an 8-inning, 13 strikeout shutout last Friday, the Phillies can not rely on anyone in that rotation. Kendrick is the next guy you would go to, but he doesn't go deep into games, and has 121 career MLB innings pitched. Give me Moyer on Sunday (5.1 ip, 0 er), I'll give you Moyer 5 days earlier vs. the Braves (5.1 ip, 6 er). Point is the Fightins need Hamels to win every single time he pitches in the postseason, and as much as he makes me ill, to this point he has done nothing but follow through.
Francis, on the other end, has been a solid and consistent if not dominant "ace" for Colorado. He's certainly a good pitcher, but ideally he's a #2 guy somewhere. He finished the year on a fine note, really not getting touched up at all for the final two months, with one notable exception: September 13, 3.1 IP, 8H, 8ER, 4BB, 2K, in Philadelphia.
These are two offenses on absurd highs, with the talent to back justify every run plated. The only way someone falls off here is by running into lights-out pitching. I take Philly, 6-2 in game one, but I'll take Colorado in 5 for the series.

Game 1: Angels at Red Sox (J. Lackey v. J. Beckett), 6:30pm ET
Lackey's career numbers vs. the Red Sox are so outlandishly bad (1-6, 6.27 ERA), and even worse at Fenway (0-2, 8.38 ERA, that you almost figure that something's gotta give. But the Red Sox are certainly aware of his history, and therein gain major edge before a pitch is thrown. They know Lackey well, they've crushed him, and they have the Cy Young winner on the hill. Playoff butterflies can bury lineups in game 1's, but their history with Lackey can allow Boston's bats to stay loose and let Beckett deal. Red Sox, 8-3 in game one, and they win in 4.

Game 1: Cubs at Diamondbacks (C. Zambrano v. B. Webb), 10pm ET
Rarely has a playoff team been sold so short as the Arizona Diamondbacks are right now. You would think that the Cubs had won 108 games and were facing a lowly wild card. The Cubs have the front page all to themselves, and in about 5 different polls I've seen ranking the playoff teams, the D'Backs are consistently dead last. Is it the new unis? Yes, the D'Backs have a startlingly low team BA for a division winner (.250), and they haven't scored a lot of runs, but they are the NL's only 90-game winner.
As far as tonight goes, I don't trust Carlos Zambrano in a big game anymore than I trust Victor Zambrano, and Brandon Webb can decimate any lineup any time. You keep hearing about the Rockies closing the season winning 13 out of 14, but who won that 14th game? Webb. He has Peavy's numbers without Peavy's propensity to put out lilliputian efforts when it counts. Soriano strikes out swinging. I take the D'Backs in game one, 4-1, and they take the series in 4.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Willie Stays

Good. There's been so much Willie this, Willie that, that I don't really have much else to say. See yesterday's Willie post. Go out there and get it done, Skip.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Rock n' Roll All Night

I had to put my 2 cents in on this one.

What a ballgame at Coors tonight. The Alpha and Omega of the Padres pitching staff both continued to prove that while they put up stellar numbers, neither is worth more than a Tom Glavine in a big spot. Peavy was leaving everything up, giving up 3 runs in the 1st and 6 overall in 6 1/3 IP (He did help his own cause by grounding a base hit up the middle to start a rally that led to an Adrian Gonzalez grand slam). Despite having a 'pen that led the NL in ERA, Bud Black chose to stick with Peavy despite the early runs, and he might want that one back. Padres relief was untouchable from the moment Peavy left until Trevor Hoffman came in, and as usual in a clutch situation let his adrenaline leave his changeup up, and accelerate it to a slow, flat fastball. It takes quite the odd composition to notch 524 career saves, yet constantly cough it up when it matters.

Mike Cameron's early absence from the Padre outfield had a real effect on the game, as Brady Clark failed to make two catches on what ended up being doubles off the wall that let the Rox back in it.

Otherwise, the game really couldn't have lived up to the billing any better, right down to the announcing. Don Orsillo (Red Sox TV Broadcaster) is a fantastic play-by-play man, a pleasant surprise when I was expecting the Braves crew on TBS.

The lead shifted 6-7 times, and we got it all. In the top of the 13th, Scott Hairston hit a 2-run shot off our old friend Jorge Julio, who as usual was overthrowing like a maniac. The way the crowd died in Colorado after that was stunning, and you had to think the game was over and done with, but Trevor had
nothing. Who led the bottom of the 13th off with an absolutely roped double to right-center? Kazuo Matsui himself. I have to admit I'm happy for him. Troy Tulowitzki, another in the ever-growing class of elite young shortstops, immediately followed with a double to left-center, and then Matt Holliday (my sentimental MVP vote, anbody but Rollins) tripled off the wall to tie it. The next batter Jamey Carroll lined out to right field, and Michael Barrett actually blocked the plate despite losing the ball, apparently never allowing Matt Holliday to score on the play, though Tim McClelland called him safe. Holliday lay clenched on the ground after the play, having gotten his chin stepped on and banged up, thereby not touching the plate. Despite what I saw as a blown call, you have to assume the Rockies had a good shot of plating another run, and they certainly earned this one.

Phils-Rox will be very compelling. The two hottest teams down the stretch with explosive offenses in two bandboxes. It's like a 5-game football series. Let's Go Rockies. I like their spirit.

What a game.

ESPN: Schoeneweis Received Steroids

ESPN is reporting that during his tenure with the ChiSox from '03-'04, Scott Schoeneweis received shipments of Testosterone and Stanozolol. Here's the link:

So that's why he suddenly became so ineffective, even with the AL to NL switch. Maybe Show saw the swoon coming, and preemptively picked up old habits in the summer. He did get a lot better later on...

Jeez, the news for this team just keeps getting better, huh?

EDIT: Initially, the Big Show has vehemently denied any knowledge of these shipments, and has claimed that he never live at the address where the steroids were allegedly sent to him. The MLBPA has kinda brought upon itself our skepticism of such denials, but I suppose you have to wait and see it proven...

Omar's Legacy and Willie's Woes

The state of Willie Randolph's job security is once again the eye of the storm among Met fans following the plunge. My vote remains consistent, and that is not to fire him. Willie is calm and Willie is dedicated, somewhat of an anomaly in the history of the usually neurotic franchise.

I am not in any way denying his shortcomings as a manager. Plainly, he has some difficulty grasping the intricacies of NL baseball, most notably in dealing with pinch-hitters and the bullpen. I don't really take issue with who he uses out of the 'pen or when he uses them, as the pickins have been pretty slim, but rather
how he uses them, and how he pinch-hits. Yesterday, for one, I'm not convinced that pinch-hitting Sandy Alomar and his sparkling .143 BA with one man on, thereby limiting Sosa's contribution to 1.2 IP, was a good idea. (If you don't recall, Alomar flied out)Too many times you will see a reliever enter a game to bail someone else out of an inning, only to be pinch-hit for in the bottom of the frame after throwing 1/3 of an inning. I suppose what I'm getting at is that Willie needs to learn to double switch, and he needs to not overvalue certain pinch-hitters (eg. Alomar, Newhan, Franco) when he needs to get what he can out of the 'pen.

Again, I don't question his ability as a motivator and mood-setter. In hindsight there were some things he could have done differently in this regard: slap Reyes around, slap Milledge around, communicate more with the pitching staff, etc. The thing is that he has had so much success in his managerial career, for 11 years as an assistant in the Bronx, and 3 years here, that "if it ain't broke don't fix it" probably came in to play. Up until the last week of the season, no matter what problems he had seen, his team had done nothing but win, and it seems as if the fear of damaging that held him back from making any major statements. I can understand that, right or wrong, and I think it's something that he as a manager can draw from in the future. He will never be fiery; it's not who he is, but let him fail more times than not before you pin him as a loser.

The same kind of delusion can be attributed to Omar. "If it ain't broke...". To me this offseason defines Omar's career. He arrived pre-05 with an overflowing wallet to play with and a store to shop in stocked with big new toys. I can't take away from the success of his moves that year, but to be fair, signing Pedro and Beltran were kind of no-brainers if one had the money to spend. The following offseason he impressed me a little more, but again, he didn't take many gambles. He finagled his way into the right moves. That I give him credit for. Last offseason, he was confident in the assertion that he had built a machine that had perhaps gotten unlucky in losing to the lowly Cards, so he stayed the course and didn't change much; went ahead with a patchwork rotation/pen.

Beyond that, the constant reliance on the proven vet vs. the up-and-comer proved lethal. I have been a defender of Shawn Green's, mostly because I don't see any reason to kill him like people have done, but the insistence on holding Milledge back only stunted the flow of the offense. Gotay was never given a chance to show what he could do pre-Castillo trade as a full-timer, after doing nothing but hit in his small chunk of work. Look around baseball: Pedroia, Buchholz, Ellsbury and Delcarmen in Boston; Joba, Kennedy and Hughes in the Bronx; Tulowitzki in Colorado; Braun and Gallardo in Milwaukee; it goes on. What were Mota, Sele or Brian Lawrence giving you that Humber couldn't have? When your vets aren't bringing you to that next level and you have potential in-house options, you have to give the youth a chance, especially with a cushion in the division like they had up until 2 weeks ago. But Omar and Willie stood pat, going with their guys, trying to ride out the wave. That didn't work, and now major, major moves have to be made to change the culture of a team that took a nosedive.

I don't blame Omar or Willie yet. Omar built the machine that brought the Mets back to relevance and Willie ran it. But now can they fix it?

Well, Tom, I AM devastated.

"I'm not devastated. I'm dissapointed, but, devastation is for much greater things in life. You know, I'm dissapointed. Obviously it wasn't the way I wanted to pitch. Can't really say that there was a whole lot that I would do differently..." --Tom Glavine, after the worst statistical start of his 21-year Major League Career.

Watching Glavine yesterday, I got the feeling that he might not even care. Well there you have it. Not a whole lot that you would do differently? Really? How about not hitting a pitcher for the first time in your career? How about not throwing an inner temper tantrum when Joe West doesn't give you your ideal strike zone and readjusting your approach?

The whole Tom Glavine-Mets experiment seemed very lukewarm and iffy off the bat. The Met uniform always had the feeling of a Halloween costume on him. He was brought here to be the guy, and that was never something he was comfortable doing. He flourished along with Smoltz and Maddux, and really started being effective in New York upon the arrival of Pedro and the other big-name acquisitions.

Glavine is a Brave. He was always a Brave, and always will be a Brave. The next time we all see his wife, who seemed to be more important to the cameramen than the baseball game at #300, she will be smiling and teary-eyed while he unenthusiastically expresses humility for his HOF induction with a big scripted "A" on his head. He came here for money, couldn't perform until everyone around him got better, tried to go back to Atlanta but couldn't get enough money, and settled for returning to the Mets for one more year to secure his legacy with 300 wins, and more money. I'm not espousing any conspiracy theories here, I'm just saying that he never put the interests of the New York Mets baseball club very high on his priority list other than how it affected him. This was allegedly a "big game pitcher". Game 5 last year against the Cards? Yesterday? The last two weeks? He had no motivation to "bring it" whatsoever. He got 300. (After a month-long 299 circus) He was ready to retire, go back to Georgia, and maybe call games on TBS in a few years. Good riddance, Tom.

On a better note, David Wright, after continuing to perform on both sides of the ball in spite of the swoon that surrounded him, came out and took the hits. He expressed a real level of pain over what happened, accepted blame, and told it like it is. Right now the culture of this team has to go the way of David Wright. He has been steady on the field and mature and composed with the press. Put a "C" on his jersey. No matter what has happened, number 5's prime is still ahead of us.