Tag Archives: Mike Pelfrey

Risky Equation

The Mets announced Mike Pelfrey as their Opening Day starter this week to the surprise of no one. No one was surprised because no one probably cared.

The Mets are not expected to go very far this year. If you’ve been living under a rock that doesn’t have a direct feed of ESPN- the Philadelphia Phillies fresh off losing the NLCS, the third consecutive Championship they went to and the first they lost during that span, went and decided that 3 aces weren’t enough, they needed another one. Thus the Cliff Lee saga, which had dragged the Yankees and Rangers for far too long had revealed itself as one big con job, dragged long enough to bring in the team he had always wanted to be on- the Phillies.

While downtown Philly is preparing for what should be the most exciting summer in ages and quite possibly a very historic one- down the turnpike things were uncharacteristically quiet.

While the Yankees were licking their wounds and spending their money like spoiled trust fund babies (see signing of most expensive set up man- Rafael Soriano), the Mets went a separate route altogether.

The Mets finally decided that in order to win and defeat the Yankees they couldn’t go about it the same way they always had: trying to go dollar for dollar with them. If you bring your payroll to $150 million they will go up to $200 million. They have the history and mystique that not many teams in all of SPORTS have.

They needed to be successful going a different route. Call it smalll market mentality with a big market budget. More emphasis on amateur scouting. Shorter contracts that would give the team flexibility in the future. A deeper statistical analysis on players to assign a dollar value to any potential free agents. A team run as a corporate business basically.

From the day that Sandy Alderson took over he spoke about how much the Mets had to spend given their current budget entering the year. Their eyes were fixed on 2011 when almost $60 million would come off their budget.

His honesty was like a breath of fresh air. For a long time, the Mets front office- perhaps instructed by the Wilpons- were told to be as evasive as they could be about what ability financially they had to make moves leaving Met fans to come to the conclusion that while charging high ticket prices and concessions the Mets were not doing everything possible to be a winner like the Yankees did. If they had the money, and continued to charge the fans what they did, why not put that back into the team?

Make no mistake, their sudden change in philosophy has PLENTY to do with the still unclear Bernie Madoff scandal. Only the Wilpons know what amount was taken by Mr Madoff but it doesn’t take a genius to see that even the Wilpons couldn’t keep stretching the lie that the Mets were unaffected by the Madoff scandal.

But this is a natural step if the idea was for the Mets to be more fiscally responsible. In the present economic climate, being able to save is key and the Mets are now employing three of the more well known names who pushed the whole statistical model long before it became status quo.

Sure the Mets are late to the dance but better late than never right? But like I said before its no koinky dink that this suddenly financial stinginess was a necessary attribute in the next GM after the cloudiness of the whole Madoff situation.

So the Mets are more careful about who they spend their money on. So its relievers on one and two year (max) contracts. Minor league contracts for players they are taking shots in the dark on. That’s wise decision making on the Mets behalf. Its about calculated risks and no one has geekier calculators then Alderson’s gang.

So what’s the consensus on this group? It could be a wild success or what every Met fan feels will happen: the Mets will be a third place team at best and maybe a last place team at worst.

But here’s what we do know: they aren’t giving up the farm for anyone. They promised to use the big market dollars on the draft so they are saving up their pennies by signing the Chris Young’s of the world. Offering carrot-on-stick incentives to players so there isn’t terrible risk and, if things go well, a whole a lot of reward.

I suppose in the end, the Mets 2011 season is just one big risk or reward scenario. I just hope our set of stat geeks have the right formula for success.

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Will the real Mets team please stand up?

A few days ago Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post (yes they sometimes do real analaysis) wrote a spot on analysis of how topsy turvy the Metropolitans have been all season. Let’s forget that they do the Jekyll and Hyde routine home and away. Just look at their batters, the meat of which consist of David Wright and Jason Bay who must have some switch that they have to turn on fron time to time (how else to explain how they binge on opposing pitchers).

And then you have last night. A night in which the baseball world was drooling all over Stephen Strassburg’s destructive repertoire that should bring tears to all NL East teams for years to come. There was a pitcher working in Flushing who came to New York with very little fan fare other than being a top 10 pick and put on yet another dazzling performance, and the game was won on an 11th inning shot from another first round selection, which was set up by yet another home grown product’s home run in the seventh to tie the game.

At home they are invincible and yet away from CITI they just can’t seem to get it together. Which of course brings us to the dilemma at hand: Should the Mets pony up the prospects needed to bring in a 3rd starter?

That is the $64,000 question. But without a good understanding of what this team is, how can the Mets possibly take on such a huge risk? If Strassburg’s dominant performance or Pelfrey’s performance, or the fallout from the steroid era have taught us anything the most valuable assett a team can possess is a dominant young player. So teams nowadays are unwilling to part with the kind of young talent it would take to pry away a Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee.

As we currently stand, the Mets most pressing need is a stable bat in the middle of the line up, something Carlos Beltran COULD be if everything goes smoothly with his rehab and he comes back. But to wait and hope is a recipe for disaster. The late John Wooden used to recite this old axiom “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”

The Mets don’t have a potent enough offense to stop and say, all we are missing is another ace, though it would give them another guy that could take innings away from a bullpen that ranks as one of the top in terms of usage. So the Mets are going to be an interesting team to watch over the next month and a half. If Beltrans progress continues, he should be activated right after the July 31st deadline which wouldn’t help matters one bit. Over the next month and a half, if the Mets continue on their current path, the decision makers will be left with a critical risk they must take.

Do nothing and risk the chance that the team does well. Do something and risk that the team mortgaged their future for a rental who will only be here for a year and a half with injury issues (like Roy Oswalt) or a half year rental (like Cliff Lee who publicly stated he would test free agency). Entrusting the Mets front office with that kind of decision could be a recipe for disaster in the fans eyes, as they’ve seen deals like the Scott Kazmir deal blow up in their face.

Many teams are likely to stay away from such short sighted decisions that could destroy a team’s future, but the Mets play in the most demanding market in front of the most demanding fans (albeit few judging from gate receipts) and they are being judged by the most demanding press. If they do something, they could be blasted and if they stay pat and do nothing they will be blasted. Its a recipe for criticism that the Mets always get themselves into.

Granted the season’s 58 games old, and there’s 104 left, its already felt like a few seasons have played out with the way the Mets have transformed every 5 games almost. I’m not saying it hasn’t been exciting, but for those of us fans who constantly pull our hair out everytime this maddening team does something to undo all the goodwill a 9 game winning streak can do, we’d much rather have consistency. But that consistency needs to be reached on the road first before any decisions can be made about mortgaging the future for the final 2 and a half months of baseball. More than anything the Mets front office and their fans wish one of their multiple personalities would just stay for a month’s time so everyone can have a sense of whether we’re dealing with the home team or the away team.

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Nationals 6- Mets 4

Another rubber game, another loss as the Mets dropped it in the ninth when light hitting outfielder Roger Bernadina stroked his second home run of the game, season, and career against K-Rod to break a 4-4 tie.

-Mike Pelfrey’s line today: 5.2 IP giving up 4 ER, on 7 hits striking out 6 while walking 3, giving up a homerun on 119 pitches (74 for strikes- 62%).  By the way while those 6 K’s look good, he struck out the side in the first and in my mind didn’t make an adjustment when the line up came the second time around and ran into trouble in the second.  In the first he looked flat out dominant.  He struck out Nyjer Morgan on 3 pitches, Adam Kennedy on 4 pitches and Ryan Zimmerman on 5 pitches.  That was as efficient an inning as I’ve seen from a Met pitcher this season.  The second inning was led off by a double from Will Ferrell, i mean Adam Dunn, , a single by Cristian Guzman and then Willie Harris* walked to make the bases loaded.  Then he goes out and strikes out Roger Bernadina, strikes out Will Nieves and then comes the pitcher.  Gets a two strike count but Craig Stammen poked it past David Wright for a two out bases loaded single plating two.  Again, another Met pitcher unable to get his counterpart out in a big spot, with the bases loaded, and two outs.  He also gave up Roger Bernadina’s first home run of the year.  By the way Roger Bernadina is NOT a home run hitter.  Oye.  Over the next few innings he labored getting into deep pitch counts and unable to get that split finger over to finish off hitters as he did in the first two innings.  Craig Stammen came in the fourth and got another RBI this time after Will Nieves (former Met catcher of the future) hit a double after Bernadina’s homer.  Pelf dug himself too many holes and couldn’t go deeper than 2 outs into the sixth.

– The Met bullpen came in after Pelf issued his 3rd walk of the game with two outs in the sixth and Takahashi gave up a hit, then struck out Ryan Zimmerman to strand two runners.*  Pedro Feliciano, Fernando Nieve (who, let’s face it needs to have Dr. James Andrews on speed dial at some point in the season.) pitched 2.1 IP of scoreless relief.  Then came K-Rod and out goes the ball.  He gives up a go-ahead two run home run to Roger Bernadinha who’d never had a home run up until today’s game and he hit two, count em two home runs to help win the game for the Nats.  I’m not going to go too hard on the Mets but as far as sure things the Mets had coming into the season:

1. there’s Jason Bay adding power (out of his 32 hits, 11 are for extra base hits and only one of them is a home run) which has been a fail thus far.

2. K-Rod being a consistent closer.  Clearly the Mets didn’t get the young guy the Angels had when he was coming up.  I want that guy.

3. David Wright getting his power back.  Well something’s still there and its the strikeouts and its from last year.

4. Johan Santana.  I dont even need to bring up the Philly game do I?

As we know there are no sure things in life and thus let’s put those to rest.

*= Gosh I love this guy.  I need to learn some Japanese before I decide to come back to the stadium in hopes of getting his attention.  You know…from the second row in the upper deck.

*= ugh..Willie Harris…insert mean face.

What I love a lot about the Mets are whenever Ralph Kiner comes to the broadcast booth and shares his wisdom, knowledge, and turns it into story hour with Ralph Kiner.  The guy is a natural story teller and with baseball losing a voice like Ernie Harwell, its becoming clear that these voices most closely associated with specific teams are becoming more and more rare.  Kiner takes you back to an older era.  I was able to visit the Met hall of fame earlier this year and see the old broadcasting names and I’m priveleged to have been able to hear a guy like Ralph Kiner growing up and still hear him whenever he pays a visit to the guys in the booth.  His most important point was that of the discussion of whether Reyes is a 3 hitter.  Kiner didn’t hold back and said “no” without even a moment’s hesitation.  I’m personally on the fence about it.  Frankly, there’s no one on the Met roster that’s hitting the tar out of the ball that you would logically think to promote.  You could talk yourself into Ike Davis but that’s only if your absolutely convinced that he’s a great hitter because like Ralph Kiner said “the 3 hole is for your BEST hitter.”  I’m not sure that Ike Davis is the best hitter.  David Wright could be that guy.

During the beginning of the year I was absolutely convinced that putting Reyes there would be the best option given that Beltran was out and the top of the line up would feature speed of Pagan, Castillo, and Reyes.  I also agreed with Mike Francesa when he said that it didn’t matter where a guy hit in the line up but as we’ve heard over and over again, Jose Reyes is the prototypical lead off hitter.  He’s been trained to get on base anyway, any how.  Now he’s put in a spot in the line up where RBI’s need to be had.  He’s not used to that and I now think that if Beltran comes back and takes the 3 spot in the line up, Reyes changes his approach back to lead off and begins to regress again and it never gives him the consistency that we absolutely need from Jose Reyes.  Its no secret that the Mets go where Reyes takes them so shifting him up and down the line up isn’t looking so good now that we know he isn’t that great of a 3 hitter.

By the way a funny moment when Reyes got thrown out trying to advance on a ball hit to his side.  Both Keith Hernandez and Ralph Kiner were jumping at the chance to groan and then go over the basic rule of baseball where “you never advance on a ball hit to your side with less than two outs.”  Its simple and yet Reyes does this every single time.  I don’t think that Reyes is as fast as we’re used to seeing him and so I’m always weary of where he thinks he is in terms of speed.  Maybe before his leg problems he would’ve been safe but its just not a smart play.  A few days ago he ran on the same play but the short stop never went to third with the throw.  Sucks that it had to be on a Met out, but a funny play no less.

– Subway Pre-Game Live was excellent today.  I usually fast forward through it but today seeing a few highlights I stopped.  Watching Chris Carter talk, it looked like he was nervous and was about to grind his bottom row of teeth from how nervous/excited he was.  Great to see the energy from the Animal and the fact that his intro-song* is “Real American Hero” (the Hulk Hogan theme for you non 80’s folk), just completes the image of a guy who was described by Josh Thole as a guy who “never sits down, not even to eat.”  Speaking of Mr. Thole, boy was he nervous.  I know it will take some time to get used to the whole t.v. experience for young Josh but its exciting to see some green faces just upbeat and smiling.  Like I talked about in yesterday’s game, the fact that these guys come from a different clubhouse and different culture where last year’s stench isnt there on them, it makes it all the sense in the world that they come in and contribute and can be impervious to the negativity that’s been surrounding this team.  Their general youth and excitement over being called up is so refreshing and something I love.  By the way, Thole wasn’t kidding, everytime an SNY camera caught Chris Carter, the guy was pacing around the dug out, stretching, getting some water.  Something.  Never sitting down.

– Bernadina didn’t just hit home runs, his diving catch to rob Francouer in the 5th inning saved the game for the Nats as that hit would’ve plated 3 for sure and broken the game open for the Mets who had rallied back from their second two run deficit to tie the game.  Of course their final two run deficit the Mets just couldn’t come back from and from there Matt Capps came and closed the door.  That’s 0-6 in the finale of a tied series.  Doesn’t bode well that the Mets can’t seem to win that rubber game.  Ever.  It doesn’t bode well that right now, the Mets have nobody that you can confidently say will go out and give you 7 or 8 strong innings.  You pray a starter goes 6 without giving up too much damage and hope that the Mets can chase the starter out and go to work on the other’s team’s relievers since the Met middle relief will go a long way towards keeping it competitive.  A tough pill to swallow but let’s look at the positive side and I promise you there is.  On a day when Pelf didn’t have his best stuff.  When the Mets went down twice they kept fighting and tied it twice.  They played with passion, enthusiasm and they have this new vibe about them that does well in one very important respect.  The major league season is a marathon and not a sprint.  This kind of confidence that they are building up will bode well come September when they are trying to summon the ghost of rallies past to help them in crucial games where a Wild Card berth or, dare I say it, a division could be on the line.  This is definitely not the team that they put out there last year and though they lost this game if they keep this kind of fight they won’t run into too many light hitting outfielders busting out the home run trot too many times.  The law of averages says so.  Though at this point I’m not too high on anything Jerry Manuel is saying, I do think that the Mets are on the right track in terms of mentality and overall effectiveness.  It was a cold, rainy, disgusting day and the Mets fought.  Its May and the team is fighting with a line up that’s only starting to get their big boppers going.

– I know what’s on everyone’s mind but I think Jerry waits a few days before making, yet another switch in the line up.  People are clamoring to have Barajas hit higher up in the line up, which I agree with Jerry Manuel (What’s wrong with me?!?!) is not a good idea.  The guy swings at everything and he’d be exposed batting higher.  People want Ike Davis up there, which might not be so bad of an idea but I think Jerry waits to press that button.  That’s a little bit of pressure on such a young guy but I think with everything I’ve seen from him, he’ll be up to the task.

– Finally, a moment of trepidation and joy.  Shoutouts to Matt Cerrone, founder of Metsblog- known place you can find me everytime I need to get my head out of the books in school, who linked the blog to his page.  Now time to find a tech savvy person to make this blog a bit more appealing.

Mets start a series against the Marlins in Florida starting tomorrow at 7 with Johan going up against Josh Johnson.  The Mets start a crucial road trip where they on the road against the Marlins for four, to Atlanta for two, then Washington for two.  How do I have them faring in this road trip?  I got them going 3-5.  Let’s hope I’m an idiot and don’t have a clue about anything.

SEASON: 18-16

MY PREDICTION: 21-13

LGM!

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Mets 5- Rockies 0

Phew.  And I mean that.  You have no idea how relieved I am to be talking about a Mets win but don’t worry doomsday fans, I have some negative Nancy stuff too but worry not optimists, nothing too much like the last few days.

– First things first and much kudos and respect goes to Mike Pelfrey.  7 innings, 6 K’s, and 0 walks.  Ok, so he had one balk*, but to his credit he didn’t lose his marbles and kept his cool.  Let’s be honest, the Mets needed this like the Houston Astros needed a win.**  Maybe this is what the Mets needed to get to start things going and get a winning streak started.

*= Here’s a guy that led the league last year with 6 and threw 3 in one game.  But this time the balk wasn’t his fault, Melvin Mora called time and the umpire didn’t grant time and Pelf stopped in mid pitching motion.  He saw a sports psychologist in the offseason to fix whatever was ailing him and for two starts it seems as though its paying off.  Remember a few nights ago that someone called in and asked if the Mets need to see a sports psychologist?  Well I think that answers that doesn’t it?  LET THE HEALING BEGIN!

**= I had a few dirty analogies but I figured I’d stay away from them.  Who knows if the kids are reading this?

– The Mets made Pelfrey add a pitch to his repertoire and I know I’ve been saying over the last few days about going away from the strength of the pitcher.  But Pelfrey mixed in the split finger effectively.  Its becoming an out pitch instead of solely relying on the sinker.  The sinker I suppose is a very useful pitch in the air with the humidor effect as Rockies hitters were getting good slices on the ball later on, but the hits either hung up there or just died at the warning track.  It seemed as though that luck that had eluded the Mets were repaying them back.

– The last two nights the Mets have been terrorized by really athletic Rockies pitchers who flashed some power.  Well today Mike Pelfrey did it all even getting a hit and drawing a walk.  Not only that, Pelfrey scored a run* and drove in a run which of course always helps.  I suppose it was all in the cards for him today.

*= Last night Aaron Cook took advantage of Mike Jacobs’ mental error and scored a run as Jacobs forgot to check him at 3rd.  So it was nice to see some shoddy defense by the Rockies which benefited the Mets.  Its about time some bad stuff happened to another team.  Geez!

– Don’t mean to be a negative nancy but during the 3rd inning after Pelfrey scored to make it 2-0, David Wright came up to bat with Jose Reyes on 2nd and Luis Castillo on 1st and no outs.  Well, you’d think that Wright drew a walk or grounded into a double play right?  No.  Would you believe that Wright somehow made 3 outs?*  Well, not exactly but let me explain.  Its not quite sure what happened but based on the field it looked like Reyes faked the steal and Castillo jumped thinking he was stealing and tried to go double steal which is a great idea given both of their speed.  Unfortunately Reyes wasn’t going and just stood there as Castillo got caught in a run down.  That is one out.  The second out came when Reyes tried to steal 3rd and got caught**.  Which of course makes two outs and Wright struck out three pitches later.  Yes.  Somehow Wright put a cap on that rally with a punch out. ***

*= I know I’m tough on him but come on.  COME ON!  He’s the franchise, if he doesn’t like it, too bad.

**= Its clear Reyes still isn’t at full speed and while the Mets like to see him run and try to steal a base its clear he isn’t going all out and i’m noticing the drastic reduction in his speed which is troubling.  Its not like he’ll lose it completely but as he gets older, it only gets worse.

***= No, I refuse to be nice.  I hate watching Wright in situations like this because I feel bad looking at him struggling through it.  Its as if he is hearing the entire Met fan base screaming at him to come through and him worrying about letting them down.  He plays so tight in these situations and it s sad and frustrating all at the same time to see it happen.

– It was the Rockies B-team with Melvin Mora playing 2nd and Giambi playing 1st but a win is a win and I’ll take it.

The best thing about today’s game was how patient the Mets were.  Once again, they didn’t let a guy who clearly didn’t come out with his A stuff to beat them.  They were patient at the plate, especially David Wright who’s OBP right now is somewhere in the ridiculous .500 range.  He’s still striking out a lot but he comes up and makes sure to see a lot of pitches.  That plays well because if most of the line up is starting to be patient then the Mets can get quicker to the bullpen and take their chances with them in a close game.  The Mets have been using that approach this season and its helped a lot.  The best thing about this is that its been happening all season for the Mets, not just today so its a habit that’s sinking in and more often than not the Mets will be successful.

You’re not going to believe me if I told you but Fernando Nieve, Hisanori Takahashi and Ryota Igarashi never stepped foot into the game.  That’s right.  It was Pelf for 7 shutout 5 hit innings and then Pedro Feliciano with a scoreless 8th and then K-Rod for a solid ninth.  Yes sir, if the season continues to go like this the Mets will be fine.

– The Mets desperately needed this victory for morality more-so than anything else.  You can talk about this being the beginning of the season but playing here, in NYC, its a completely different ball game and to be honest those who aren’t from here will never understand it.  The season is young but the seat that Jerry Manuel is sitting on didn’t get that much cooler with today’s victory.  His job is on the line this early in the season and obviously if the team doesn’t produce the Mets will end up replacing him and while I don’t completely agree with it, I think that it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.  His job, GM Omar Minaya’s job is also on the brink of being lost had the Mets lost this game which would’ve made it 5 straight.  But this victory cemented in the Mets heads that they do have some semblance of pitching and can beat good teams.  Good teams battle adversity and live long enough to tell about it.  Again, last year who knows how this game would’v ended, but it seems as if the team unity and all the bonding that guys did and having a better, more lively clubhouse has something to do with it.  I like this group because they seem to like each other genuinely and support each other the same way.  Can’t wait to see how this victory helps Pelfrey gain some confidence and also for the Mets.

– Tomorrow’s game will be the first regular season on WB 11 so make sure you get tuned in for that.  While there was some debate over whether to put Johan Santana tomorrow night the Mets instead decided to stick to script and have Santana pitching the national game on FOX on Saturday.  It doesn’t get any easier for the Mets as they are slotted to face both Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright this weekend which always is interesting.  The Mets need this momentum to keep going.

SEASON: 3-6

MY PREDICTION: 5-4

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