Friday, July 17, 2009

the broken Mets at the break

first, an obvious declaration: the Mets cannot survive another two weeks without their key players on the field. reyes and beltran need to be back before the calendar hits August, or the playoffs are unreachable.

the Phillies are done treading water, as they did for all of June - and have begun to play very well. Ibanez is back, Pedro (who will win more games than any other option they had on the roster) is coming, and Lidge will be better in the second half. The Phils gave the Mets a chance to hang around, but by next weekend there is a good chance the Mets will be 10 back.

David Wright continues his season of anomalies - high average, high strikeouts, low home runs. I have no explanation; it's gotta be more than Citi Field. Wright is a doubles machine, and that has continued, but no one could have foreseen a year of single-digit home runs this season.

Luis Castillo, second on the Mets in games started, has had a better year than anyone would have predicted - even though his numbers don't tell the whole story. Anyone who watches every game knows that there is no player more likely to pop out to the second baseman when you really need an RBI base hit. Still, a .289 average is nothing to throw away, considering the performance of...

Daniel Murphy. This is not fair, because he is so young, but the one player (if we throw out injuries) most responsible for the Mets failure this season is Murphy. He was simply a horror show in the outfield. He has been better at first base, but think about this: a non-power hitting first baseman who is now hitting .248. Simply unacceptable. I don't fault the player as much as I do the Mets' management which put a player who isn't ready - or isn't good enough - into an impossible position. The misread on Murphy has cost the Mets dearly.

Friday, May 22, 2009

it feels worse than this, doesn't it?

As the Mets reach the 40-game mark, the team finds itself at an interesting crossroads. After winning 12-of-15 to vault themselves into first place, they have dropped four straight to sit just 2 over .500, at 21-19 at the quarter-pole.

A new slew of problems have arisen, though, and these are not quite as easy to joke about as Murphy's failure to catch a fly ball. Delgado is lost for awhile - perhaps the season - and Reyes hasn't really played in a week. Without either, the offense could survive. Without both, it simply can't. Add to this the fact that with below-par fielders at first base and left field, and who-knows at shortstop, even more stress is placed on an offense that cannot take it.

Getting back from a 10-game road trip should help. Getting Reyes to play will help. But neither of these will happen before the Mets go to Fenway to face the red hot Sox. Let's not get buried here, and emerge on the other side with a much more favorable schedule as the calender turns towards June.

Worth noting: Wright, on a 12-game hitting streak, has picked his average up from a better-then-it-seemed .271 on April 26th to an incendiary .362 as play begins tonight.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

help from the farm?

At the 20-game mark, it is time to figure out exactly how to fix this Mets team...

The main culprit has been the non-Santana starting pitchers, and I'm going to isolate Oliver Perez - probably because when I went to Citi field last week, he was "pitching" - by that I mean walking every other batter and giving up extra-base hits to the #7 and #8 batters...

So how to fix this? It's major league baseball, so simply look to the farm!

I looked up the Mets AAA team, the Buffalo Bisons, figuring Jonathan Niese or Dillon Gee (honestly I hadn't even heard of this guy before spring training) might be ready to come up and spark the team.

As I looked up the pitching stats, I noticed something curious - there were not many Bisons' pitchers with any victories. To verify, I decided to look at the AAA standings page, and lo and behold I saw it: Buffalo Bisons, 2-17, last place.


Ah, the future is bright, Mets fans!

(and in case you were wondering: Niese, 0-2, 6.55; Gee, 0-3, 5.40 - and these are the TOP TWO pitchers in Buffalo...)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

the State of the Mets

I like to watch Sunday night baseball, check in on my fantasy teams, and write my little blog entry... but tonight, rain at Wrigley has left me watching TravelHD's top ten wonders of the west. Just passed the Redwoods (#4) and it's time for Yosemite (#3).

And kind of like hiking through Death Valley (#10) in the middle of the summer, watching the opening two weeks of the Mets has me nervous about survival.

The Mets have simply handed away three games this season; Church's dropped fly ball cost them one, Murphy's dropped fly 6 games ago was a second, and today's offensive offense marks the third. Suppan and Coffey held the team to 2 runs, stranding nine runners, and escaping two (i think) bases loaded, one-out situatuons without yielding a run.

The Mets have played Cincinnati, Milwalkee, Florida and San Diego - four teams expected to be near the bottom of their respective divisions. This had the recipe for an 8-4 start - and that's not even going overboard - but instead they hover around .500, not putting any distance between themselves and the Phillies.

The Mets simply fail to take advantage of opportunities - on either scale. Within a game, Beltran and Wright have been the biggest culprits, getting numerous opportunities to break open a game with key at-bats to create rallies and put games out-of-reach. On a larger scale, the Mets have failed to take advantage of this early season schedule and a scuffling Phillies team.

Here are three FACTS about 2009 so far:

Johan Santana has been unbelievable, yielding just 3 runs in his 3 starts (0.46 ERA)

Beltran, Wright, Delgado, Church and even freaking Castillo (.400 !!!) are each hitting over .310.

The bullpen has been better than imagined, saving 3-out-of 3 opps, and Putz, Green and Parnell have set up brilliantly..., when you consider those 3 facts, what would YOU predict the Mets record would be?



Oh, and the Grand Canyon was just listed as #1 wonder of the west - a giant hole that is VERY difficult to climb yourself out of...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NL East - week one review

After one full week of games (about 7 for each team), let's take a look:

The Phillies, defending world champs, are giving up 6.5 runs per game. In an earlier post, I noted the suspect nature of the starting pitching, but I have to give them credit - they've survived several shaky starts to post a 4-3 record. Howard's hit all of ONE home run, so when he heats up, so do they. I still don't know how long they can survive starts like they've received so far (Myers, 2 starts: 5.54 era; Moyer, 2 starts: 6.55 era; Park, Hamels, Blanton, one start each with a combined ERA well over 10.00).

The Braves, 5-2, present the opposite of what the Phillies have done - namely GREAT starting pitching. Lowe and Jurrjens have started 4 games with a combined ERA under 1.60 - very impressive. Kelly Johnson has put up Utley numbers, can that continue?

The Mets, 3-4, I think this warrants its own blog entry. Two dropped fly balls equals two losses in a row, with Sheffield penciled in to start in right field tonight. Ugh.

The Marlins, 6-1, and definitely the most intriguing team right now. Baseball Prospectus projected them for a last place finish, with a measely 72-90 record. But Johnson and Volstad are an even better 1-2 than Lowe and Jurrjens through week one, and Bonifacio has out-Tuffyed Mr. Rhodes this week, although in a speedy (and not powerful) way.

And the Nationals, 0-7. Quick, name the four pitchers who have started games for them...

(when you have, and realize that the "best" name, Scott Olsen is 0-2 with a 14.45, you'll know everything you need to about this team)

One disclaimer: the Nats have given Florida 3 wins, the Braves 3, and the Phils 1. Perhaps this is my silver lining for the Mets (and even for the Phils) - plenty of games with Washington remain...

Friday, April 10, 2009


Got the chance to see Adventureland last night - a post-teen coming-of-age flick that received really strong reviews on my primary movie source - - an 88 out of 100!
I don't know... I liked it, but didn't really love it. It's a bit long, a bit slow and a nearly identical storyline to Almost Famous (a movie I thought was VERY good!)
I did love the music, a great mid-80's reminder of the many songs that seemed to follow us around on the radio. The ubiquitous "Rock Me Amadeus" made me laugh every time it appeared in the background - and that was how humor really worked in this movie. (Do you remember that "Wishing Well" song by Terence Trent D'Arby??? That hideous song spent about 3 months on a non-stop loop on Z100 at PLJ - I still shudder over it) The movie made me smile and chuckle, but lacked the uproarious nature of Superbad. But maybe that's ok. And as I write this, I am thinking that maybe it's better this way.
This movie perhaps just does its best work in making you think of that night you were driving in your friend's Mustang (because you didn't have your license yet) looking to meet up with Nicole Christiana or Tammy Coe or Kim Sahol or Beth Lancaster or Trisha Chieffo or SOMEONE to spend six hours of your night doing nothing, really, except creating those faint memories that you will one day look back on with a nostalgic smile.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Phillies' Arms and a not-so-blue Sky

Living in central NJ with a cable television subscription that has ZERO baseball games available tonight, I am relegated to MLB TV on the internet, thanks to Ronbo's password. So it's Phils-Bravos, game 2...

The Phillies pitching staff is in dire need of a healthy Cole Hamels. The opening day starter, Brett Myers, looked terrible, at least in the first couple of innings. This guy simply might not be able to regain his form from before his trip to the bullpen in 2007. His ERA is going in the WRONG direction (2005: 3.72, 2006: 3.91, 2007: 4.33, 2008: 4.55) - and baseball prospectus is suggesting 12-8, 3.91 - a little optimistic, no? My Brady projection: 11-8, 4.33 - and that's not going to be good enough, not if Cole Hamels doesn't put up an ace's season.

So a possibly injured Hamels, a positively ancient Moyer, a shaky (but potentially brilliant) Myers, AL-import Joe Blanton (this guy gave up 240 hits in 2007, leading MLB... that's like Livan Hernandez territory!), and Chan Ho Park??? Looks to me that the Phillies will be fighting the Marlins for 3rd place in the NL East...

In other news, this weekend I attended the return of Women's Professional Soccer to New Jersey, as Sky Blue FC took on the Los Angeles Sol at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater. First of all, playing a soccer game in a minor-league baseball park seemed ridiculous to me... but after watching the game, I found that the venue was perfect. Lots of cozy seating, and around 6000 fans turned out to see the game. Just like a minor league game, you could get a beer or a funnel cake, and could even take part in a halftime dizzy-bat race. The atmosphere was far better than a empty-feeling Red Bulls game at the Meadowlands, and I attended quite a few of these (as the Metrostars) in the infant years of MLS.

One problem exists though: the most exciting part of that game was ANY time Los Angeles (and Brazilain) forward Marta touched the ball. Possible the most exciting soccer player - male OR female - in the world. The problem??? She plays for LA, and no Sky Blue player electrified the crowd in the same way. Next game is saturday evening, April 11th...

Monday, April 6, 2009

was Jason Motte the steal of your draft?

In the spirit of Tuffy Rhodes, Jason Motte has destroyed my fantasy baseball week in the first inning of his 2009 season. In my "money-league" draft, everyone gasped when I drafted him, surely confirming his Steal Of The Draft title.... And it took all of one inning to create a new curse word in the Brady vernacular.

I am trying to watch the re-broadcast of the Mets game, since I couldn't watch it at school or practice today. Good to see Santana get this win - I remember this scenario, seemingly every other start for April and May last year - leave with the lead, end up with a no-decision. For one day, at least, the new Mets pen looks rock solid.

Did anyone see Sabathia's uniform earlier today? The Yanks road greys are NOT flattering.

We also nearly saw a reverse Jeffrey Mayer (sp?) in the 8th inning when the O's 9th batter Cesar Izturis hit a 2-run insurance homer. Didn't you fully expect the Yankees to get that call? They didn't, and it looks like 0-1 for the Bombers.

Earlier in the game the YES announcers mentioned that the O's led MLB in attendance for 3 or 4 years after Camden Yards opened. Now they are near the bottom - 11 losing seasons in a row pretty much keeping fans away in droves. Nice park, too. Tough division, though, with the "big two" spending all that money. I thought the O's were spending some money about five years ago - did they just give up?

Alarming note for the Yanks - is this bullpen (no counting Rivera, of course) good enough? It really may not be. Especially if this lineup shows the effects of age and the absence of A-Rod. Today's game is one the Yankees have often won in the past - go down 6-1, the bullpen stops the bleeding long enough for the bats to catch up.... Instead, the Yanks rally to make it 6-5 (then Teixeira chokes with his big chance!) and the bullpen gives back 4 in the 8th... game over!

Just flipped back to the Mets replay - can anyone actually watch replays? I simply can't. I want to - I really do - but knowing what has happened makes it impossible.

NL East standings:

Mets 1-0
Braves 1-0
Fish 1-0
Nats 0-1
Phils 0-1

magic number, anyone?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Peter Gammons, Dave Winfield, and me.

As 8:00pm - and the first pitch of the 2009 baseball season - approaches, Dave Winfield and Peter Gammons (of Espn's Baseball Tonight) make their picks for the World Series: The New York Mets...

I kinda feel that should be enough for me to just give up on the season, take up a new hobby, or simply spend more time identifying run-ons in the Sentence of Dave.

But instead I will watch the Phillies celebrate their championship, cursing the fortunes of the Star Ledger's Tom Barrett and out-of-the-loop Jason George.

I do want to note that the Phillies have outlined their logo, names and numbers in gold this season, no doubt a boastful reminder of the 2008 title. Tacky. You wouldn't see the Yankees do that.

I also want to present a trivia question: which team defeated the Phillies most last year?

A glimmer of hope? Baseball Prospectus is published by a group of guys (and a girl?) who perform tons of advanced math in order to analyze and predict the value of every player in MLB. Last week, they announced their projected standings, and selected the New York Mets as the 2009 NL East champions. Tomorrow's starter, Johan Santana, is projected to finish 15-7 with a 3.17 ERA. I think he wins 20.

I also just received a text message from the aforementioned Jason George, sitting in the stands in Philly - it reads, "Ok, i wanna go home." The reason? Top of the second on opening night, and the Phillies trail 4-0.

When I go to sleep tonight, all will be right in the world, as the Phillies will be in last place.