Friday, February 29, 2008



And we finally get our first visual taste of the possibility that is the 2008 New York Metropolitans. The first few games in this first week always come across somehow as unreal; we paddle through, or rather, shovel through months of winter, unceasingly awaiting the arrival of Spring. Every columnist and amateur blogger makes allusions to the beaten down metaphor of the real world's natural cycles as it couples with the going and coming of baseball, and then SPRING HITS, BASEBALL IS PLAYED, and no one really notices for a week or so. So it goes.

I woke up today looking forward to the early highlight of my day being Johan Santana's Met debut, and indeed it was the highlight, Juan-gone homer or not. The first inning was shaky, as our ace allowed two iffy singles and then a deep fly to the sprightly Juan Gonzalez, but the second went by without any bumps, and for anyone who is concerned about the first inning, let it be. Johan went out there today to work his arm up. How do you do that? Throw some fastballs, not too hard. If anything, it's a good sign that Johan's heater is lively enough to stir up a home run out of the old man's bat, right? The whole experience of the two innings was fantastic, just to see #57 in uniform.

Additionally, Reyes did a little swinging and a little scampering, picking up 2 hits and a RBI. Wright and Alou each knocked one in to boot. F-Mart, the favorite son Omar worked so hard to keep, made a web gem of a catch on a foul ball late in the game, Ryan Church lined a hard single against a lefty and Duaner Sanchez got in the game and looked OK, despite getting taken very deep by Albert Pujols leading off the 6th. Final score: 5-4 Cards, who I have picked as 75-game winners. It's just nice to see some baseball, eh?

Oh, and the forums are full of people ready to dive off of the Verrazano based on Santana's 3 ER and the Mets' 0-3-1 ST record so far. Especially because that one tie was to a college team. OH NO! WE'RE ALREADY TWO GAMES BEHIND PHILLY! THEY MUST BE THE TEAM TO BEAT! But I doubt anyone will actually jump, because anyone who takes February baseball results seriously hasn't followed the sport enough to care that deeply.

And lest I forget, today marked the triumphant return of none other than Joselo Diaz...crickets...the other piece in the, ahem, K*zmir deal, who pitched a flawless inning. Always nice to see AAAA middle relievers. Speaking of that, what little respect I ever had for the Redbirds is now gone, as I have discovered that they let mediocre RP Brian Falkenborg go to the Dodgers. Late at night last September 18, my friend Scott and I watched, huddled together, on MLB.TV as Falkenborg hurled 2 heroic scoreless frames for the Cards in extra innings against the Phillies, who we obviously wanted to see lose. Despite the herculean efforts of Brian Falkenborg, Philly pulled the victory out after he left the game, but he left us with an inside joke that will never die. You gotta admit that "Falkenborg" sounds like some sort of Transformer... If only everybody pitched like him, we coulda had a one-game playoff down in Philly last year...

Anyone see Torre in Dodger Blue against Larry and the Bravos? Strange. He's a lot easier to like, though.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008



Now that spring training is finally upon us, I figure it's time to start some season previews. I intend to do separate division by division previews with brief comments on each team, with individual team by team previews for the NL East. I'm starting with the AL West, being the division probably farthest from the Met fan's consciousness, although we do play Texas, LAA, and Seattle in June interleague series.

LA Angels of Anaheim
Prediction: 1st Place, 91-71
The Angels get a bat behind Vlad at last. While it ain't Manny Ramirez or another truly elite slugger, Torii Hunter is a fine addition, though he came at a price. They also add Jon Garland, a 2-time 18 game winner that probably doesn't deserve to be a 2-time 18 game winner, while waving goodbye to Bartolo Colon and the OC, Orlando Cabrera. Erick Aybar will start the year in OC's place, but if his bat proves to be as anemic as it seems, former #1 pick and power bat Brandon Wood is waiting in the wings. The big loss for the Angels comes not through trade or free agency, but through injury to Kelvim Escobar, who stood out as a great #2 to Lackey last year. He isn't expected back until at least May. All that aside, the Angels are a perennial playoff team. They have an incredible bench, a great bullpen, a solid staff and a better lineup than in years past. They shouldn't have trouble repeating as AL West champs. Lest I forget, Howie Kendrick is healthy, and I along with many others LOVE Kendrick. He to me is Chase Utley minus some power and plus some average in the making, and a stalwart of my fantasy teams. :)
Fantasy Pick: Kendrick

Seattle Mariners
Projection: 2nd Place, 88-74

The Mariners surprised a lot of folks winning 88 games last year, and while their offseason dealings may hurt them in the long run, it shouldn't affect this year negatively. I would agree that they played somewhat over their heads last season, probably having been a mid to low 80 win team rather than 88, so the improvements this year should equate to a similar finish. The obvious big move is Erik Bedard, who with Felix Hernandez brings in a lethal 1-2, but their lineup is only getting older, with Jose Lopez as the only regular under 30. Carlos Silva gives their rotation more depth, but boy what a contract. I shiver to think what that means for Oliver Perez. Their bullpen remains strong with J.J. Putz in the 9th, but after him it falls off sharply, George Sherill now gone in the Bedard deal. Their rotation can now hang with the Angels, but the rest of the team just got older and weaker. Maybe they catch fire and sneak in to the playoffs. Probably not a bad Vegas bet for the AL pennant, with the big potential payoff, but I doubt it...
Fantasy Pick: Felix Hernandez

Texas Rangers
Projection: 76-86, 3rd Place
Things always seem to change yet stay the same in Texas. Nolan Ryan's on board as team prez, which is nice, but he can't pitch anymore. I like the fact that they appear to be building something up, with the acquisition of Saltalamacchia last year and Josh Hamilton over the winter, but the rotation is the same old hodge-podge of discarded starters from elsewhere, this year's edition being Jason Jennings. You just can't find a starter that wants to pitch for a bad team in a bandbox. They should have a fun lineup to watch, with Salty, Hamilton, Kinsler and Young, and having brought on Hamilton and Milton Bradley they may escape the endless OF merry-go-round they've been on, but maybe not. It's football country, and until the Rangers get a pitcher who can hang with their new team president, it will remain football country. How bout them Cowboys? Ha.
Fantasy Pick: Ian Kinsler

Oakland Athletics
Projection: 4th Place, 70-92
The A's will have a new ballpark in 2 years, and that's probably how long it will take for them to be relevant again. Billy Beane has gone all out with rebuilding, and Joe Blanton is likely the next one to go. The direction of the team is probably the right one, as they weren't going anywhere even with Swisher, Haren and Blanton, but again, it will take time. This is another team with interesting raw players in Denorfia, Barton, Buck and Cust, but it stops at interesting. Keith Foulke's back for another round. Expect surliness. Personally, I'll be glad to see them out of contention; they've bored the hell out of me since the early 90's and then you had to hate them. See you in a few years, A's.
Fantasy Pick: Daric Barton

So there you have it for the west. No big upset picks here, although I'd like to be wrong about the Angels/Mariners. I'm not the biggest fan of the Seattle the place, but they have good fans, and you gotta root against Orange County.

In Mets news, Duaner Sanchez pitched successfully today, which is great to see; I really expect a strong bullpen this year, which would give us no major weaknesses anywhere if all goes well.

The Citi Field logo has been released, and while I don't hate it as much as Brooklyn Met Fan, it doesn't do much for me. What can you expect from a bank?

PS- Happy to see that the Blog got a hit from Port St. Lucie! It's almost baseball.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mound KO's Lidge in 1; Duque Brings Bunions to Camp


The injury bugs are buzzing already. Apparently Brad Lidge has more to contend with than the small ballpark already. He may have trouble getting through a full season as Philly's closer when one pitch is more than he can handle from the get-go. Initial word is that the injury is minor, but we're talking about the same knee that the brittle closer had surgery on just a few months back. This is certainly not a good sign for the big offseason acquisition in Philadelphia. Darn...

EDIT: So the injury, as I initially suspected, wasn't so minor after all. Lidge will now have surgery in the knee, and is expected to be out for 3-6 weeks. The assumption is that he will not be ready for Opening Day.

A lot of Met fans seem disappointed by this, missing the opportunity to come out swinging against an unabridged Phillies roster, but my point of view is that this is what they had coming to 'em. You know what you're stepping in to with Brad Lidge, just like we know from Moises Alou or El Duque. If we take the field at the Cit some time this year and there's no Utley, Rollins or Howard on the other side, then we're playing a Phillies team with a short deck, but I fully expected Lidge to go down the moment they traded for him. To be clear, I expected it before the trade, my point is that the deal never concerned me, I have never seen it as an impact move; if it isn't his head it's his knee, or vice versa.

Similarly, Mike Pelfrey's bid at the 5th spot may be coming early, as El Duque, who nearly ran me over on my way out of Shea one night last year, is experiencing some discomfort with what else? A bunion. Ho, hum. I don't mind it all that much; I was impressed with Pelfrey late last year, and with the depth and talent the rest of the rotation brings, why not see how much of that upside the Big Pelf can reach?

Found this article over at the Boston Globe website. Sad to see Julie Donaldson go, I'll miss the "soft hands, smooth plays" bit on the jumbotron...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Philly is a Disgusting Hole.


All the credit in the world to Adam at Brooklyn Met Fan, one of my favorite blogs, for picking up on this story:

Apparently some of those brainless morons from the city of manly love have a cute little Facebook group planning a takeover of Shea Stadium on Sep. 6th this season. Usually I wouldn't gank another blog's material, but this is a get the word out kinda deal, so please, all you Met fans or just citizens of New York that don't want to see us upstaged by that greasepit 90 miles south, SHOW UP AT SHEA ON SEPTEMBER 6TH! BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW! AND JOIN ME AND MANY OTHERS IN BUYING THE &^%*$ OUT OF TICKETS TO ALL THE MET GAMES AT CITIZENS BANK PARK THIS YEAR, FURTHERING A LONG STANDING TRADITION OF HUMILIATING THEIR SPINELESS PHANBASE!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

How Carlos Got His Swagger Back


If Carlos Beltran's tongue in cheek shot at J-Roll accomplishes nothing else, it certainly got me excited:

"...tell Jimmy Rollins we're the team to beat."

Beltran, for many, was the perfect embodiment of the perceived laxidasical attitude in the Mets' clubhouse last season, and right out of left field, or center, he comes out with this! I'm sorry but I love it. Refocus, scoop up the best pitcher on the planet, and get a little swagger. This is gonna be a fun year..

And while we're on the subject of the Phillies, anyone think this t-shirt might become a hit at Philly gay bars this season?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Petey Comes through Again


So Barry Bonds failed a drug test back in '01.

I haven't posted in a few days, mostly because I'm bored as hell with all of the 'roid stuff.

I watched the entire congressional when Mark McGwire got amnesia and Sammy Sosa flunked ESL, and have followed suit with every other major happening in the whole saga, including the Clemens show two days ago, and it's really gotten old.

The last hearing, in my eyes, didn't accomplish much beyond what we already knew, and I doubt at this point that Clemens will be further prosecuted. The overall summation: Clemens is lying, McNamee isn't the greatest guy on earth, and Pettitte is right there with them. It really frustrates me that Pettitte appears to be getting such a pass on all of this, as there is really no reason to assume that what he has already conceded to doing isn't just the tip of the iceberg. He was deeply immersed in a group of characters that were all clearly juicers, and went from initially saying he never used, to saying he did one time, to admitting one MORE time. Why on earth shouldn't anyone think he was doing it just as much as the rest of them, the whole time? Even if "Mac" doesn't recall other juicing by Pettitte, Andy could have easily acquired the stuff elsewhere. It looks like selective judgment by a bunch of people who don't want to group a "true Yankee" in with the mercenary Clemens and the yippy Knoblauch.

Anyhow, a lot of guys did this, they'll never catch all of them, and it is what it is, but what struck me today were the comments of Pedro Martinez, proud to have notched such slimmed-down ERA's in such a beefed-up era. More power to Petey for coming out and saying that, and it's certainly worth recognizing. He is in my book the best we've seen in decades and the best we will see for a long time, which leads me to a larger point:

The zeitgeist of the day has dictated that the bulk of the 1990's and the early 2000's be labeled the "Steroid Era", and I think that's unfair. Take the other major "eras" that have been labeled in baseball history. There is the dead-ball era vs. the post-dead-ball era, and there is the modern era vs. the era between dead-ball and the lowering of the pitcher's mound. There is the integration era, the expansion era, and the post-free agency era. Now, folks want add the steroid era to that list, but it is decidedly different. In the dead-ball era, the strategy of play was universally more geared towards small ball. The material of the ball itself was less live, and the same ball would be used for nearly an entire game. At most one would see 4-5 balls in 9 innings, creating dirty, lumpy balls that severely handicapped hitters. Thus, this effects of this era were ubiquitous, affecting all players and teams. The same can be said for the periods before and after the lowering of the mound, and further for the rest of the periods I listed above.

The "steroid era" is different because it was NOT universal, and that is why I see the term itself to be wholly unfair. It is unfair because while so many cheated, so many did not. The lead example is Pedro Martinez, but the list goes on: The entire Braves pitching staff during their run, Griffey, Gwynn, Puckett, I would hope Piazza, and on and on. Heck, I'll even give credit to someone I truly can't stand, Captain Smug himself, Derek Jeter. The whole strech of time can't have a vernacular asterisk attached, because it does not apply to so many who deserve appreciation in their own rite. some would say let the good ones be held up as becaons of light in the overall dark era, but I watched too much great baseball in that time to cast it away and make exceptions. Let the users be blacklisted, but let the rest of the game stay, I say.

After all of this, however, we have pitchers and catchers in Port St. Lucie, and I'll be thrilled to get past the reruns of baseball Law & Order and back to live, old-fashioned ball. I want to hate the Phillies, not criminals.

Next up: Preseason previews/picks.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ash Wednesday is Johan Day and Truck Day


I'm currently watching Johan Santana, in a Mets hat and jersey, sandwiched between Mike Francesa and Chris Russo, which is pretty entertaining. Little bit of a back and forth battle between Johan's stock answers and Mike and Dog's prodding, which isn't yielding much.

Basically, what can be drawn from this whole press conference is that Johan is pleased to be here, and is polite, articulate and comfortable. Nothing really groundbreaking came out of anyone's mouth.

Hell of a sight, though, Johan in that jersey. Our generation, the Mets fans in their mid-20's and under, finally have our Seaver, our Doc.

David Wright is clearly very excited, although the last two times I've seen him on camera he looks as if he's just gotten out of a jar of Krisco.

Otherwise, it's truck day, the first real hint of the oncoming baseball season. In under a fortnight pitchers and catchers will report (Johan to Schneider, anyone?) and then it all gets going. Hardly ever have I approached a season with such longing and anticipation. Not since last year, anyhow.

I'll put out my season previews/predictions in the coming weeks, team by team.

Oh, that Giant parade? Got there two hours early, couldn't get in anywhere on the route, walked in circles for four hours. Ugh...

Monday, February 4, 2008


WOW. The New York Football Giants have won the Super Bowl.

No it's not baseball, but this one warrants a quick post.

When I was 8 years old, I watched the Giants play in their first postseason game of my fully conscious lifetime (having been 1 in 1986 and 5 in 1990). I got crazed with excitement as they beat the Minnesota Vikings in the wild card round in a tight one, 17-10, only to watch the 49ers trounce them, 44-3 in the next round. From there on it was further heartbreak, from futile early playoff exits, to losing teams with quarterback controversies featuring Dave Brown and Kent Graham, to the ugliest Super Bowl I've ever seen (a Ravens trouncing, witnessed live by my father and I in Tampa) to this, in the most unlikely of all years. And this time again my dad sat next to me, holding my young son in his arms.

In the first three weeks of the child's life, an unlikely playoff run has occured, the Mets have acquired the best pitcher of our generation, and the Giants have won the Super Bowl. Someone gets ice cream once he's old enough to eat it.

And don't count me in as one of these Patriot haters. As always, after my initial NY allegiance from my father and my birthplace, my grandfather has shared his love of Boston teams with me, so I fully respect these Patriots, have always loved that team, and am proud our Giants beat them.

This is especially fulfilling as I have been an Eli supporter through thick and thin. Eli Manning has arrived, looking like a young Favre against all odds last night.

Now how bout these '08 Mets get out there and upstage the G-men this October...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Let's Get Physical

From Metsblog: The Mets have announced that Johan Santana has passed his physical, meaning that all hurdles have been cleared. Next stop, press conference. Very good.

Some afterthoughts, some of which I put up on Cerrone's site in the last couple days:

There has been a varying amount of fuss surrounding a possible Santana decline in the second half of last year. He finished 2007 at 15-13 (which you can throw out based on the team he played for)giving up 16 hr after the All-Star break and posting a 3.60 in August and a 4.94 in June. Additionally, some scouts have speculated that his velocity has fallen off somewhat.

To begin with, the sample size for Santana’s alleged regression is small enough that it's hard to take it too seriously. Walter Johnson had an off-year in 1921. Seaver lost 9 of his first 11 in 1974 and still won 22 games the next year. Curt Schilling's mid-to-late 20's were hardly spectacular, but his greatest success followed. My point is that when elite pitchers show any signs of normalcy people can overreact, and generally it's unecessary. His track record alone would quell my concern, but coupled with the consensus that he was unhappy last season playing for a bad team that was bound to trade him it all fits together.

Also, while it’s nice that he’s logged more innings than anyone in the last 5 years, part of that is due to the Twins total reliance on him, something the Mets should not be as guilty of, and in turn should provide him with more rest.
Not to mention the no-DH, the pitcher’s park, and the tendency for NL pitchers to exit games sooner for PH’s.

When a pitcher posts a 3.33 in the AL, K's 235 batters, and wins 15 games on a weak team and people get worried, that pitcher is something truly special.

On a completely different note, every time I look at this season’s probable lineup, which doesn't have much room for give, I can’t help but think that there’s no good reason for this team not to sign Kevin Mench. He has consistently destroyed lefties, (Career OPS vs. LHP: .979) despite not being of much use otherwise. That would give you this lineup vs. LHP (Each player listed w/ career OPS vs. LHP):
Reyes .710
Wright .962 FROMFLICKR
Beltran .855
Alou .946
Delgado .819
Mench .979
Castro .736

That is a truly formidable lineup against a leftie, lacking a serious weak link, as Reyes' lower OPS does not convey the diversity of his play, and Castro's limited PA's don't fully communicate his level of comfortability with lefties. Delgado is what pops out. His career numbers are not in line with what he did last year against southpaws, which was zilch, but perhaps a contract year and a healed wrist will help that...

Kind of a limb to go out on with the initial idea of signing Kevin Mench... The overall thought here is that any backup OF with a propensity to hit lefties, be it Mench or someone else, to spell Church about 20% of the time, could provide a lethal little lineup.

Oh, that's me in the picture with my new Santana jersey that I had made 5 minutes after the trade was announced. As I left the store with it and looked at it on the street, a guy walked by me and said that he saw on ESPN that Johan failed the physical. He kept with it long enough to get me for a second, and then laughed. Phew.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Signed, Sealed, Delivered. (Just about)


Breathe deeply, throw the "Freddie Coupons" BS out the window, and look forward to watching Johan Santana make Larry Jones, Jeff Francoeur, Tex, Ryan Howard, J-Roll, Utley and Pat the Bat look like lost children for the lion's share of the next decade.

For 151 million dollars over 7 years. Obviously it's not our money, and I kinda get a kick out of having the highest paid pitcher in MLB history on the Mets. Makes you feel like a real somebody, you know?

I don't have much more to say today, after spending the last 48 hours browsing and refreshing from Metsblog to ESPN to MLBTradeRumors right back to Metsblog, and everything in between.

And I knew the whole time exactly what would happen: This.

But it's still very sweet. We got an ace. An ace to end all aces.

Of course this would all happen 2 days before Super Bowl Sunday, making us wait for an official announcement until probably Tuesday, although I was surprised to see that Johan will be having a physical tomorrow, rather than Monday.

Otherwise, Pedro Feliciano, or Petey Fleece as I affectionately call him, has been re-upped for a little over a million bucks for this coming season. Poor Pedro, jeez. Just a mil?

The Clock is ticking...


All of us over here at the Harbor are really hoping that that premature jersey order didn't jinx anything...

These negotiations have very quickly degenerated into another speculation parade. You can see what John Heyman says here, or what Ben Shpigel says here, or what Jayson Stark says here, or if you really want to waste your time, you can read this, by Buster Olney (second entry down).

Thing is, just like every article over the last 2 months that speculated on where Johan would eventually be traded, all of these articles say the same thing, kinda differently.

Point is, in spite of the little man that is always inside of me that yells "the end is near" in relation to all things baseball, this deal will be done. Period.

It's not even worth going over, again, what a massive PR nightmare the Mets would undergo if it fell through. They knew what he wanted before they got him, and they wouldn't have done it if they weren't prepared to pay.

And the fact that the negotiations are ongoing, and probably will be until the very last second, makes complete sense, objectively. Santana, or rather his reps, have established a desired monetary total and a desired total of year. Seeing as they do hold most of the cards, though not all of them, what with Johan's desire to get this done as well, their demand is really the starting point. Omar, or Fred, or whoever the heck is in there, most likely rebutted with an offer as unreasonably low as Santana team's was high. From there, they bicker, compare, laugh, eat, take bathroom breaks, yell and sleep, and with each passing hour each side pulls the other side progressively closer to their desired goal. At any point before about 4pm on Friday, today, if either side says, "that sounds great, we'll take it", they've cheated themselves out of more valuable time to either raise (in the case of Santana's boys) or lower (in the case of the Mets) the opposing side's offer.

So in my mind, that's what's really going down here, and any further speculation on the parts of Olney, Stark, Heyman, etc. is there to get some more browser hits and stir up some noise. I'm pretty sure that neither Omar Minaya nor Peter Greenberg is regularly excusing himself from the negotiation table to go call Buster Olney and let him know what's going on.

It'll all be done today. They'll have a press conference after the Super Bowl, pending a physical.

Cue the weekend Olney blog entry: Unnamed sources have told me that Johan Santana might have a mild but rapidly progressive case of scoliosis...