Tag Archives: Oliver Perez

Monday Morning something or the other

After a one week hiatus, I’ve come back locked and loaded.  Ok, so maybe I’m being a bit over emphatic about my return but since the sports world waits for no man, I figured neither did you.

 

SO LONG LUIS; OLLIE NEXT?

Why the likely delay of Perez release, you ask? A team official suggests it would be callous to do morning after bad outing.

@SurfingTheMets

I think its safe to say that this day was one that most saw coming and even Luis Castillo did as well.  The most concerning part of cutting Castillo had nothing to do with performance as many saw him as the best second baseman the Mets had in camp.  It had more to do with what he was in the eyes of fans which brings me to what I feel is the most obvious storyline that the Mets face this upcoming season. What moves can this new regime make to build up enough goodwill with the fans that when they ultimately make the unpopular ones, (for example trading Jose Reyes or letting him go in free agency) that they will point to the overall changes and say “see, we listened to you and we did what we could.”

Mike Vaccaro wrote a pretty interesting piece yesterday which called the Mets on what he feels their strategy is and his own suggestions on what they could do to bridge the divide that exists between the fan base and ownership.  The Mets ownership situation being what it is, will find it ridiculously difficult to win the fan base over if Oliver Perez finds himself on the opening day roster.  It would be a death sentence on a team that already faces charges of willfully ignoring repeated warnings about the operation Bernie Madoff was running.  This would inevitably lead to the sale of the Mets franchise, something that the Wilpons stubbornly refuse to admit is an option for them.  They have only publicly announced that they are looking for investors to take on 20-25% of ownership.

This season will be very interesting to watch from a business standpoint as this may be the final season that the Wilpons can hold on to the Mets.  If the team flounders and sales of season tickets continue to lag behind, the decision of selling the team will no longer be under their control and it will HAVE to be sold.

But there are still baseball decisions to be made.  The Mets refused to answer any questions relating to the inevitable release of Oliver Perez which all but seems certain after his latest shellacking.  He allowed 2 home runs on his first 5 pitches which even for him is a remarkably difficult thing to do.  I find it funny that I was about to write a piece on the Mets allowing fans to run their team and make their decisions which seems eerily familiar to what the Minaya regime did.  I said that perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to see more of Oliver Perez and try to recoup some kind of value for a 28 year old lefty who can get other lefties out.  His numbers last year, if only used as a lefty specialist, project very well.  But now it seems that after this latest fiasco in which the fans actually cheered when he gave up the two home runs, that it no longer seems likely that he has a future with the Mets.

Perhaps the Mets are looking to purge the old regime and its mistakes.  Luis Castillo is a good player but never meshed with the team the way many thought he would.  He’s a stand up guy who always faced the music and vitriol from the fans like myself who screamed many a times for Castillo to be sent to Siberia or anywhere far from Citi Field.  As of this morning, rumor was that the Phillies had signed him to a minor league contract which lead me to two thoughts:

1. The Phillies are really concerned about Chase Utley and don’t trust that he will be back anytime soon which would be terrible for an already questionable line up.

2. He will be a good fit on that team.

Why would I say he’d be a good fit?  A fresh start would be great for him because he needs one, but also because the locker room in Philadelphia has one of the better reputations in all of baseball and they will support him and do a good job of keeping him in good spirits even when the Philly fans eventually turn on him like the Met fans did.

One final story about Luis Castillo that I must share and yes, it has to do with the dropped pop up.  I was vacationing with friends in the Dominican Republic when the Mets and Yankees played in the now infamous “Castillo Dropped Pop Up” game and the resort was filled with a mix of Yankee fans and Yankee haters, not necessarily Met fans.*  As A-Rod popped up and slammed his bat to the ground for what surely seemed like the last out and K-Rod threw his right hand in the air to point to the pop up, I got up and turned my back to the television.  Mind you, I had taken enormous amounts of heat from Yankee fans and I was going to have the last laugh on what was a very close game.  I don’t remember what I said but I do remember the cheer I saw from the Yankee fans, and I quickly turned around.  Right in time to see Luis Castillo pick himself up, and throw a weak throw to home that Mark Texieira beat.
*= There were Red Sox fans there, and a Manny Ramirez fan who didn’t like the Red Sox but rooted against the Yankees.  Go figure.  In the Dominican Republic, who would have thunk it that I would find baseball fans.

Two thoughts on that:

1. Tex is not a speedy runner so for him to beat that throw showed you how absolutely flustered Castillo was at that present time.  A normally sure handed defensive infielder, he wrote his death sentence with Met fans on that night.  Nine times out of ten, he makes that play.

2. I went back and saw the replay from the time that Castillo knew that the ball was coming to him and he NEVER looked confident.  He seemed to lose sight of the ball in mid flight and spent the next 5 seconds trying to find it in the stars.  He never looked confident and never possessed the wherewithal to recover from it after that.  Fans turned on him and never gave him a second chance to win back their affections and frankly he never did anything to win it back either.  He was losing range as a second baseman and what little power he had to begin with, he lost along with his confidence after that night.

I think this move is for the good of both the Mets AND Luis Castillo and will allow him to finish his career in a place that won’t hold one play against him.  He was never a power hitting second baseman and he lost his range as he got older with the Mets, a phrase that Met fans have grown sick and tired of hearing.

There remains one last move for the Mets to make to fully extricate themselves from the former era: cutting Oliver Perez and I’m sure however loud that cheer was for his two homeruns will pale in comparison to the collective cheer of Met fans when news spreads that they have finally separated themselves from the talented but clueless lefty.  Yes, I still consider him talented.

Jalen Rose and Uncle Tom

I’ve never been a fan of Jalen Rose’s.  He says very little on TV that make him worthy of the title “analyst”.  Nothing he says makes me sit up and take notice.  But people like him continue to find a way to stay on the air because the players who WOULD have made good analysts don’t want to be one or they just don’t get hired because they refuse to do anything beyond their jobs.  Guys like Jalen Rose know how to market themselves and create an air of importance that everyone else except the big wigs find engaging enough to listen to.

So when the Fab Five documentary was being spoken about by ESPN even before airing I sensed that its executive producer, Mr. Jalen Rose, probably had something to do with it.  Wouldn’t you know, he did.  In fact, it was his comment that created a semi controversy.  Except I saw the documentary and came away with the same feeling that Deadspin writer Jack Dickey had: what controversy?

First of all, the article does a great job exploring the timeline of events which clearly place the onus on this bit of cooked up controversy squarely at the feet of both the Worldwide Leader and Jalen Rose.  Rose is their employee.  Rose was part of the Fab Five.  ESPN’s 30 for 30 chronicled the impact of the Fab Five.  The message of the documentary was that none of these kids, especially Jalen, did not benefit financially as much as the university did and the NCAA did from their accomplishments which were two Final Fours, and zero championships.

Of course, there’s a bit of a problem with that logic.  While it may be true that the Fab Five did not immediately benefit from their popularity, their hype multiplied their status among NBA scouts who grouped all of them as one collective body of talent.  Juwan Howard was a number 5 draft pick in the 1994 NBA draft.  Jalen Rose was the 13th pick in the NBA draft.  He got his money.  And then some.  Not only from their obvious talent but also from the hype that his group of rogue super freshmen group created.

One major voice missing was Chris Webber who did not appear for reasons still yet unknown.  His involvement with a booster, Ed Martin,  caused Michigan to relinquish any accomplishments that the university had from that era.  Maybe he did not want to relive moments like the timeout heard round the world.  Maybe he just grew tired of hearing that question.  Maybe he likes Jalen Rose as much as I do and found it unappealing to help Jalen in any conquest to recoup money.

Whatever the case may be, I found the documentary to be insightful yet completely one sided.  Jalen Rose made himself and his band of brothers out to be victims when one could hardly call them that.  They were rockstars.  They got more attention for a team who’s collective record would normally draw a yawn.  They had talent yes, but failed to bring home the gold and more often than not THAT is what made them great.  You either wanted to see them fail OR you wanted them to win and give a big middle finger to the critics.  Either way, the Fab Five were a polarizing group of players who wore baggy shorts and black socks.

Michigan had two major things going for them:

The timing of their fashion sense was impeccable.  Hip Hop was emerging as a major form of urban expression and for white America they didn’t understand the opinion of young black males who looked at their well to do white friends and saw a system corrupt and unwilling to allow them access. White America at the time did not understand that position.  They believed the “everyone has equal rights” line and America once again refused to have a full fledged discourse on race.  The Fab Five were young freshmen who came in and after being covered nationally became symbols of that hip hop generation with the way they wore their basketball shorts and openly praised hip hop music.

2.  They had a perfect opponent in Duke.  Naturally they played in the one and only national championship game that group went to against Duke who represent the elitist tradition in our culture.  Duke are more than just Blue Devils, they are Blue Blood and stand for everything that Michigan, with the Fab Five were not.  Jalen Rose harped on this subject.  He felt they were all uncle Toms.  They thought Christian Laettner was soft.  That Duke only recruited black players with the wonderful family that Grant Hill came from.  They were the perfect foil for the dream story that Michigan wanted to write.

I think, like anything, our memories provide a much more glossy look at that team than what actually happened.  We put too much weight on their affect on society and tend to remember the legend more than the actual product which didn’t really amount to much.  That group took more away from Michigan than it brought.  True, it brought a lot of attention to the Wolverine basketball program, but it also put too much pressure and warranted much more attention from the NCAA investigators who tend to shut down programs like the Wolverines for reasons that they say have nothing to do with race.

There are two ways to look at this.  One is to understand Grant Hill’s side which was placed as an op ed in the NY Times.  Or you can agree with ESPN and Jalen Rose by reading this.  Either way, my take on it is this.  The thoughts and opinions about Duke and its players were that of an 18 year old Jalen Rose and he made that very clear when he said that.  While some may feel that Grant Hill didn’t need to defend himself, I think his letter still served a purpose.

Society as a whole continues to look at race as a subject that has the cooties.  We better not touch it because it would begin a long debate that we don’t feel comfortable in.  By we, I mean everyone.  Black people and white people and yellow people and brown people.  Nobody wants to really talk about a subject that they find hard to put into words without it looking like they are racist.

Grant Hill’s upbringing was great, but it also represents a stark contrast to what Jalen Rose grew up in.  Those two worlds are whats at fight here, not Jalen Rose and Grant Hill.  While its sad that Rose grew up knowing who his father was yet never meeting him, it goes to show you that he rose from those surroundings and became a well to do person with a successful career.  My opinion of his skills in that career may not be the most flattering but I don’t begrudge his success.  He’s good at making himself feel wanted and THAT is a skill that even I find hard to master.

The ends are most important, not the means.  Jalen Rose’s story is inspirational and one that many kids can look at as something to aspire to- it shouldn’t be one that brings conflict.  The sad part of all this is that it once again brings to the forefront the problem with race discussions.  They aren’t looking for solutions, they want their voices and opinions heard.  That’s all.

I didn’t think the documentary was as awesome as people thought, and maybe it had something to do with the direction of the discussion after.  Its sad.  That group does deserve a place in history.  Maybe not where Jalen Rose thinks they belong but a spot nonetheless.

NFL’s Ridiculous Discussion

Have we mentioned that the ill will between players and owners is not going away? Sigh

@judybattista- New York Times NFL Writer Judy Battista.

The Twenty first century has come to everyone BUT the NFL apparently.  Over the weekend as discussions went absolutely nowhere, the NFL through Roger Goodell and the NFLPA exchanged letters, typed up on Microsoft Notepad probably, expressing their sides view on why a deal did not get done.  While there isn’t an internet copy of Roger Gooddell’s letter, there is one of the players response and here it is.  In it, they outline the proposal that Goodell said the players should have taken and go point by point as to why they could not.  The opening to the letter says it all:

“We start by reminding you that we were there at the negotiations and know the truth about what happened,”

Listen, I dont know what happened during the negotiations that have made this a disaster, but what I do know is that the first I heard about the owners making an offer was during the 11th hour of negotiations which made it so that the players had to rush to make a decision and the players did the right thing by reeling it back and taking their time.

Look, I’m not picking sides but if those facts are accurate, the owners tried to pull a fast one and couldn’t get away with it.  All I know is that the fans are the ones losing out here as millionaires fight billionaires and no one seems to consider that.  Neither side is willing to negotiate on good terms because there’s too much money involved.

I’m still maintaining my original premise that the NFL will have a longer hold out than the NBA does because there’s too much money in the NFL and not enough in the NBA.  Simple as that.

March Madness

NCAA officiating boss John Adams was asked on CBS/Turner what he’d say to Pitt fans: “Don’t foul with hardly any time left on the clock.”

@sportswatch- Neil Best writer, Newsday

Ok, so my bracket is basically in the toilet and so is most of America’s.  There was a stat that said that at the beginning of the NCAA tournament 3.9 million brackets had been filled out and by the end of the first day only a few people got it all right.  That’s the FIRST DAY!

Incredibly I had the Morehead State upset over Louisville but have since seen half of my Final Four go kaput.  But I dont want this to be about that.

The dumbest argument has been one carried out by most of America’s talking heads that the Big East is overrated.  That the Big Least didn’t deserve to have as many teams as they did make the tournament.  I find it funny because it really had legs once Charles Barkley said it.

Charles Barkley.  The NBA analyst who admirably has not tried to pass himself off as an NCAA expert and has admitted to not knowing a thing about college sports but has been dispatched by the higher ups in Atlanta to help in their coverage of the tournament.

I get why he’s on, but for him to pass this opinion off as fact is misleading and downright stupidity on his part which, let’s face it, isn’t something new.  Barkley likes to say things without thinking which has created for him a pretty nice niche out there and has made him a very likeable funny person who everyone enjoys hearing and from time to time he expresses opinions we wish some of the analysts would say but are afraid to.  Barkley knows that he has untouchable status at this point and will get a slap on the wrist as opposed to being fired if he says anything remotely controversial.  He’s the breadwinner for TNT/TBS and so has the right to run his mouth.

But let’s just say for argument’s sake that we take Charles Barkley up on his argument.  IS the Big East overrated?  For me it isn’t.  The tournament is not exposing the Big East, its just proving that the hottest team wins, not necessarily the better team.  If you were to have some of these mid majors play Big East teams in a best of 7 series, how many of the would win?  I’m waiting.  Yeah.  I didn’t think so.  So let’s stop that argument right then and there.  The Big East IS a better conference than most because it produces more talent, it recruits more talent and it plays a physical style of basketball that most other conferences don’t play.  Losing one game does NOT mean that this team sucks or that team sucks.  There’s a reason why everyone talks up George Mason as this major Cinderella story or VCU or Gonzaga in years prior- because they were not EXPECTED to beat the teams they beat.  So if you are assigning favorites in a game, losing in a one game playoff means that for that one game, that team was better.  For that ONE night.  Not overall.  Let’s begin to use our heads here people.  Let’s come off the anti-Big East bandwagon.

Sir Charles is just mad that he never won a national championship because the Big East teams were kicking the SEC’s ass EVERY YEAR in the tournament.  Suck on that Sir Charles.

______________________________________

I just had to post this for those who were not there for it or didn’t hear about this.  First off, Butler’s head coach Brad Edwards is starting to resemble the second coming of Coach K.  What a brilliant coach who is leading yet another deep run into the NCAA’s.  Who knows where this will lead, perhaps a rematch of last year’s classic game that went down to the last shot?  But let’s break down this last 7.1 seconds in the Butler/Pitt game.

7.1- Butler out of the timeout calls a fantastic play that ends with Drew Smith putting in an easy lay up that left 2.2 seconds on the clock.

Now, comes the fun.

2.2- Pitt throws in the ball to Gilbert Brown who runs to get the pass but at the same time Sheldon Mack is coming with his arms raised and lands on him and gets the foul called.  Now, at this point I originally thought it was a terrible call but when you look at the replays its clear that Mack made a horrendously stupid play.  An overzealous play by a guy who had done everything in this game to help Butler win scoring 30 points.  Originally there were .009 seconds left.

At 1:01 in the video the announcer suggests that there should be more time on the clock.  While the refs sort it out, Sheldon Mack tries to work some mind games on Gilbert Brown and lines up right next to him on the free throw line.  As the refs take their time Mack is trying to talk Brown out of being the hero.  By the way, I LOVE when guys do this.  I remember when Lebron went up to Gilbert Arenas (any correlation between the Gilberts?) and whispered something and Arenas missed the free throw.  I thought, wow, what a great move by Lebron.  Here was no exception.  Mack was going to do everything in his power to make sure that Brown’s head was not clear for the two biggest free throws of his life.

Refs put 1.4 seconds on the clock.  Brown hits the first one.  No timeouts for Butler. He misses the second one, Matt Howard comes up with the ball and immediately throws up a shot as he’s being held on to by Nasir Robinson and a foul gets called.

Unbelievable.  Howard makes the first, and purposely misses the second one and the rebound goes to Pitt and even though the shot happened after the buzzer sounded his 3/4 heave almost went in.

Why did I select this particular game?  Because afterwards Seth Davis echoed a sentiment that undoubtedly many feel: refs have to swallow the whistle with 1.4 seconds unless its such an eggregious foul and in my mind I was like: WHAT?!??!?!

That makes absolutely zero sense.  I dont get how you could make the case that its ok for referees to not make certain calls because of the amount of time left on the clock.  If anything there’s more impetus for them to make the right call at that time than anything.  Mind you, Davis made this opinion AFTER admitting that he thought those two calls WERE fouls.  Referees have one job: to call the game fair.  We’ve seen plenty of games in which the refs have made terrible calls late in games and been hammered for it, and fairly I might add.  So how can someone make the case that its ok for referees to swallow their whistle with that kind of time left in such an important game?  That non call on the Howard foul may have helped Pittsburgh and Butler would’ve cried foul at the NCAA for abusing their Mid Major brethren.

I realize its a never ending battle but let’s end the hypocrisy and keep it real.

The Links and things you sing about bring em out.

– The anti-bully PSA for those who haven’t seen it.

– Probably one of the best posse shows I’ve seen.  GOOD MUSIC afterparty with Nas, Mos Def, De La Soul, Will I Am, and others in the background.  Love it.

What’s coming down the pike:

Carmelo Anthony said yesterday that the Knicks may take some time to gel before they make any noise.  That is an honest assessment from a guy who naturally fears the backlash that inevitably will come from a fan base that suddenly has a lot more expectations from its talented yet inexperienced with each other bunch.  I’m not saying that Melo is at fault.  As a matter of fact, I think Melo has plenty of reason to believe what he believes, I just think that the nature of this team has changed now with two superstars and other players may not feel as much a part of what the Knicks are trying to do.  I will explore more in depth about that chism that clearly exists.

– A podcast soon?  Me thinks its a possibility.

– Have a great week.

As usual we leave you with another inspiring thought from the very wise Ron Artest:

 

ronartest Ron Artest

“My basketball players who take charges r soft n half female”

 

 

 

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Maybe its not all about Ollie?

While the investigation (though that may be too strong a term to use) on Ollie Perez’ suddenly aching Patella tendon, is well warranted considering the circumstances the real crime here to consider is Ollie’s continued insistence on not accepting a demotion in the minors where he could get valuable innings to work out his problems.

I love playing devil’s advocate but even here, Satan would have a problem taking Ollie’s side. Despite all wishes and wants by Mets officials, Oliver Perez, well with his rights to do so because of years he’s accumulated on the major league level, has refused to accept a Triple A assignment.

Maybe he sees this as a way for the Mets to stash him there and make him the highest paid Triple A player but the Mets are spinning this as Ollie being selfish as well they should.

But I can’t help myself on this and wonder about what it says about the Mets organization that they won’t just do the right thing and DFA Oliver Perez. No one would blame them, other than those who will say that it was the wrong decision to sign him to a big contract in 2008, but the goodwill they will have gained from letting him go will far outweigh negative criticism they will get from just keeping him on as dead weight.

The only reason I can have for keeping Oliver Perez at this point is: they have no money to just eat away. But isn’t it the same in keeping Ollie Perez buried in the bullpen? When asked what situations Jerry Manuel would put Ollie in, a clearly ticked off Jerry answered that it would be hard to find him spots. Meaning only in the most meaningless of situations, I don’t know, say the Mets were to ever get into an 18-6 game they could put him in.

But keeping him in there makes no sense. The Mets this week did send a subtle message to Ollie: they DFA’d Gary Mathews Jr, another useless body taking up valuable roster space. But the question becomes would they do that to a contract with $20 million left? Frankly speaking as a Met fan the Wilpons have never been been willing to admit when they were wrong on a free agent so cutting a guy in the middle of a major contract would be disastrous in their eyes so I don’t see them doing it.

But baseball franchises have gotten more efficient. More statisticians are making their way up the ranks of baseball front offices and are giving teams a new operating model to work with which show guys like Ollie Perez and Gary Mathews Jr as more of a burden and thus necessitating a cutting of the cord.

The other factor to consider here are Mets fans who have overwhelmingly NOT shown up to Citi Field because the Mets have failed to address some of the major concerns in the offseason. So if the Wilpons had problems before in the finance department the early box office hasn’t been good. Of course, if the Mets ever showed any semblance of a functioning organization (I’m still not sold on this building depth plan they are holding firm to- more like thank God these moves are working out), then fans would show up. The Mets are a top 10 franchise (earnings wise) in the number one market, so they should be able to dole out bigger contracts and be competitive for the top tier free agents. Yet this past offseason they consistently lowballed every major free agent and settled on Jason Bay (they had to pick up somebody right?) and stayed pat in the starting rotation when fans and columnists alike were imploring/pleading with the Mets to get consistent starters.

Despite finding some temporary solutions the Mets continue to ride the “whatever happens, happens” train which begs the question of whether its a sound gameplan to have fate driving the train. John Wooden the Hall of Fame (take your pick) had a famous axiom “be prepared and be honest.”. On both counts the Mets are found to be lacking.

But the Mets could do so much good by just simply stopping this cycle of nonsense with Ollie Perez and just cutting him. Forget this mysterious DL stint, its only prolonging the right decision that everyone BUT the Mets front office seems to know. Let go of Ollie Perez and it would be another step in the right decision. A small step, but a right one nonetheless and for this team, that’s huge.

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Marlins 7- Mets 2

The Mets went down to .500 after Oliver Perez’ latest meltdown which feautured 4 home runs given up to a Marlins team that coming in was scoring 3 runs a game.  More on that as we go on.

– Oliver Perez’ line: 3.1 IP, 7 ER on 9 H, 5 K’s, 3 BB, on 88 pitches (54 for strikes- 61%).  The big hit is what killed him today.  He gave up a 3 run home run in the 3rd.  Then in the fourth came three more home runs which just seemed like over kill.  I think Jerry Manuel kept him in the game to try and extend him just a tad but it was clear that he had melted down.  His head was out of the game and into the post game spread and the shower that was awaiting him.  The problem today other than his mental mechanics were the fact that he again kept getting down in counts.  Too many 3 ball counts forced him to throw the ball over the middle of the plate and for a straight fastball hitting team like the Marlins, that’s like playing into their hands.  The best part of the game was seeing him leave.  He jumped over the 3rd base line and if you were Jerry Manuel you probably almost wanted to ring his neck.  It seems as though he just never cares either way and it hurts to see him act like that.  He has the talent, how else to explain the days where he can be great, but those days are few and far between and now its becoming perfectly clear that those days are not coming back.  He’s completely regressed, both mentally and physically.  People may think that its too much money to eat, but he’s a waste of space.  Its time to DFA him and eat the loss.  The Mets can’t continue to have this guy on the roster, making starts.  In fact, I’m even opposed to seeing the bullpen door open and seeing him skip on to the mound.  Its not that he’s sucking, its that it seems like he doesn’t care and I know, from an outsiders perspective like mine, I don’t know but his inability to keep himself together on the mound is just annoying now.

Will the Mets DFA  him?  No.  They will demote him to the bullpen at the worst, or skip his turn in the rotation and put him on the DL with some fictitious injury so that he can make some minor league starts before coming back up.  But yes, he will come back up.  That’s the worst part, the fact that I know for certain that at some point this season he will be back to make a start, barring injury, and we’ll be right back to where we started.  Of course the Mets have no one but themselves to blame here with the 12 million a year contract they gave to him.  There’s no easy way to just eat 12 mil but the Mets need to do what’s in the best interest of the organization and not what’s in the best interest of the bottom line which again would go a long way towards convincing Met fans that maybe the Wilpons didn’t stash all their pennies and lose all their coin with Madoff.  But again, the point is, Ollie will be back Met fans.  We’ll have to live with it in some form through 2011.

– What more to say about the Met offense?  Well, in their defense when they scored those two runs in  the top of the 5th, I got excited and it goes back to what I’ve been saying.  As bad as this team has been recently, they’ve been fun to watch.  I know Met fans won’t see any solace in this, but its clear the team has a different mindset and they’re fighters.  Its these days where they show some fight that convince me that when they get hot, its up to their coach to convince this team that they can overcome any deficit.  As an eternal optimist it is my duty to inform you that the Mets will not completely be in this kind of funk for long.  There’s too much talent for this to go on and I have some ideas.  I realize that alot of Met fans have been longing for a line up change and I put a few together a few weeks ago when the Mets were facing similiar questions.  Yesterday I suggested that the number three hole be a rotating group of players of Wright, Bay, and Davis.  But now, let’s see some other line ups that could make sense:

1. Reyes

2. Wright

3. Bay

4. Davis

5. Barajas

6. Pagan

7. Castillo

8. Francouer

This is the line up that I like the most.  You put Wright in a situation where his OBP will actually help.  What’s interested me the most is that his defense hasn’t suffered while he’s looked like a mess up at the plate.  If someone can convince him to take those outside breaking ball pitches, then he will cut down on his strikeouts and force the pitcher to throw it down the middle. The two hole is the on base guy.  Ladies and gentleman: one of only 24 guys in the bigs with a .400+ oBP: Mr. David Wright.  I know it doesn’t sound as sexy but seriously it counts.

Another version of the line up could be as follows:

1. Reyes

2. Castillo

3. Davis

4. Pagan

5. Bay

6. Wright

7. Barajas

8. Francouer

I’d rather not bunch up three right handed hitters but at this point, you have to separate Wright and French who’ve been striking out almost every time up and Barajas will give those two guys some pitches to hit.  Either way, both need to start producing.  Also, you may be wondering why Pagan is batting clean up.  Ladies and gentleman, the Mets leader in average with RISP: Mr. Angel Pagan who came into tonight’s game with a .381 BA.  The numbers don’t lie, Pagan can rake and if given the opportunity I believe he could do it.
With both of these line ups as you can see, my vote is for Reyes to be moved back to his spot in the line up which is at the top of the order.  He doesn’t remember how to put a bunt down.  Mentally this, hitting in the 3 spot, has messed with his psyche and his beliefs.  He’s a lead off hitter, and as much in favor as I was with the move (I remember talking something about the Mets needing to be unconventional and having speed at the top of the line up), I must admit that this is not working out.  With as much a sample as we’ve had, its clear that the Mets must make the switch and move Reyes back to where he belongs: at the top of the line up as the table setter.  Packing even Reyes, Wright and Davis might not be such a bad idea either.  If we sink, we’ll do so with our homegrown talent.

– What more can be said about our bullpen who seem to have a new guy going 3+ innings a night it seems.  Raul Valdes came in and pithed 2.2 innings of perfect ball striking out 4 on 34 pitches.  Acosta and Mejia came in and shut down the Marlins the rest of the way.  By the way, the Met pitching staff recorded 13 K’s, 9 after Ollie left.  Its unfortunate these guys are seeing so much daylight but hey, when they come in, the opposing team doesn’t seem to have much success the rest of the way.  Imagine they put together a pitching staff that went 7 innings a night, this team would actually be, dare I say it, respectable.

– Mets losers of 5 of their last 6 face Nate Robertson in their next game.  He threw against the Mets at Citi Field on April 8th and struck out 4 in taking the win against them in 5 innings of work.  The Mets counter with the rejuvenated John Maine looking to get the Mets on the board in this series.

SEASON: 18-18

MY PREDICTION: 22-14

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Break-Up letter

I feel this is kind of rushed.  Its 8:31 right now as I’m writing this.  The score is 7-0.  Dan Uggla has hit his second home run in as many innings.  The Marlins have hit their 4th home run of the game, their third of the inning.  The Marlins hadn’t had a lefty hit a home run yet, until tonight.

This feels like a morning after article and I’m sure in the interest of fairness I should wait till the morning to write this but I can’t help it.  This feels like it needs to be said so I’ll say it.

Ollie, you and the Mets need to break up.  Immediately.

I dont want to wait till morning to say something I’ve been keeping to myself for the last few weeks.  To be honest, this is tough for me.  I’ve been one of Oliver Perez’s biggest supporters.  When the Mets signed him to that 3 year 36 million dollar deal, I defended the Mets.  I said that he was a lefty with tremendous stuff.  I would repeat Johan Santana’s proclamation that he had the best stuff on the staff.  I mean, the great Johan said that.  He knew something about pitching.  He had to know something that us couch experts didn’t know.

But I began to break down when I heard how out of shape he came into the season after the Mets gave him that contract.  During the worst season in recent Met fan history he epitomized the Mets: fat, lazy, and full of cash.

In fact, this has been the classic break up.  Think about Ollie’s symptoms:

1. He’s unstable.  The running joke for Met fans/broadcasters has always been the question upon entering the ballpark: What Ollie will show up?  Good Ollie or Bad Ollie?

2. He has something that makes him unlikeable. (sometimes with the mate, its his/her family or friends, but with Ollie its definitely its his contract.)

3. He was attractive at one point but nowadays that cuteness has wore off with the reasons stated above.

Look at Ollie’s 2004 season with Pittsburgh and you’ll see why people see so much potential in this guy.  This is his season in 2004 at the age of 22:

12-10, 2.98 ERA in 239 K’s in 196 IP, with only 81 BB’s, 2 CG’s and 1 SHO.  That’s an 11 K/ per 9!!!!

So the talent has always been there, but he never made it materialize in the last 6 years.  In fact, when the Mets got him just two years later, he was the throw in on a Roberto Hernandez deal.  Think about it, he was the throw in.

I’ll remember the good times we had.  I’ll fondly remember him coming out and throwing a heck of a game 7.  I’ll remember the biggest reaction I’ve ever seen from him coming from that Endy Chavez catch.  I”ll remember the days showing up to the park, knowing it was an Oliver Perez start and thinking “oh boy”, and then I’d see him be dominant over 6 innings.

But I’ll also think to the games like tonight where he just had no command and no fight.  When there were times I’d show up to the park for an Oliver Perez start and think “oh no” and see the whole game fall apart for him by the third inning.  I’ll remember him getting beat because he had portions of the night where he couldn’t throw a strike.  Where he just seemed to never care either way.  The Mets fired Willie Randolph because it always seemed like he didn’t care, but watch Oliver Perez after a start good or bad.  Its the same expression.  It just makes you upset.

So now what?  Well, we tell him to pack his bags because he’s not wanted here anymore.  We demote him to Triple A.  We let him go.  We toss him.  Its not that he isn’t skilled and he is young enough to resurrect his career so this does have the makings of it coming back to haunt the Mets.  But he’s not going to go anywhere on this team.  There’s nothing on this team that can fix whatever is messing him up time and time again.  This relationship isn’t working out.

I thought that I should take a break, take a walk, and get some dinner.  Two hours after starting this I still feel the same way.  Its over Ollie.  Its not just the aftermath of that ugly loss.  Its just the fact that this was the kind of loss that makes you say enough is enough.

Its over Ollie.  The Mets gave it a shot, but its over.  He needs to go.

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Mets 4- Cubs 0

Suddenly the Mets are on a roll.  Suddenly the Mets may be developing a complementary pitcher next to Johan Santana.  And maybe, just maybe that Jose Reyes we all know and love is starting to come back.  Also, a little bit of haterade to spew, you know I have to.

– First things first and its always the pitching effort and Mike Pelfrey’s 7 inning shutout performance was pretty solid.*  He threw 102 pitches and while being interviewed by Kevin Burkhardt after being pulled he asked to remain in the game but Jerry Manuel wouldn’t let him and you know what?  I believe he would’ve loved to stay in the game.  But his next line was the best part of it all, he said “but it is April so I understand.”  You’re absolutely right Mike, its only April so following that theme, I’m liking the performance but his three wins**, have all been against teams that he routinely owns, other than the Nationals who the Met pitchers just can’t seem to stop when it matters.

Career totals against:

Rockies: 4-2 3.18 ERA

Cubs: 2-0 0.60 ERA

So perhaps this is growth or perhaps this is just a case of a guy who pitched against teams he does well against.  Either way, its going to take more than 3 phenomenal outings to start saying Pelfrey is the solid number two that the team wanted him to be when they drafted him in the first round.  But we will know how much he’s progressed real soon.  If he pitches against the Braves, as he is scheduled to do so, or he pitches against the Dodgers on Monday for some reason, he will face two teams he doesn’t quite have so much success against:

Braves: 2-5 6.09 ERA in ten games in 54.2 IP (he does have one complete game against them and averages 7 2/3 innings against them, who knows.)***

Dodgers: 0-1 5.40 ERA in two games and 10 IP.

*= Ok, fine, I’m ecstatic.  I’m doing the happy dance.  I’m so happy to have another pitcher other than Santana that I dont know what to do with myself.

**= He has half of the Mets wins which depending on how your outlook on life is, is either a really good thing for Pelfrey or a sad statement on the Mets.

***= Also how he handles being on a national stage on Sunday Night baseball and the immortal 20 year old phenom rookie savior of baseball Jason Heyward.  Guess what, I’m not even being sarcastic.  I’m buying in on this kid.  Albert Pujols in the outfield.  Yup.

– What would be the second biggest headline coming out of this game?  Easily the 4 for 5 night for Jose Reyes.  Two of those hits were loopers that found grass but no one should apologize for it since Lord only knows the Mets deserve some good luck.  But that two run triple was the best part of the entire game.  That feeling lasted about two seconds.  It wasn’t until I saw the replay that I saw something and maybe I’m reading too much into it, but Reyes still isn’t running on full speed and not just that, if the Cubs infield had just thrown to third Reyes would’ve been out by almost a mile.  His speed is not back folks.  That’s my opinion.  Nothing expert but just seeing him run, its not that same burst or that same velocity and he’s not running as hard as we’re used to seeing.  Its troubling but its only two weeks.  A month from now, I’ll definitely be ringing the alarms but I’m just saying, his running speed isn’t what we’re used to.  Back to the positive, that triple was a thing of beauty hitting wise.  He went with the pitch, and drove it to the gap.  The play ended up a win win for the Mets but they still would’ve ended up with two runs so let’s atleast relish that things went right for the Mets.

– I’m still troubled over David Wright and Jason Bay’s start and current progress.  Wright is going back to bad habits and trying to swing for the fences and trying to be a hero everytime.  He seems to pick a point at the game where the Mets have some kind of momentum and he goes up there hacking and what he doesn’t understand is he doesn’t need to.  He needs to play his game.  Swing at strikes, not at balls.  Even if he has to cheat a little and see where the catcher is set up, do it.  I dont care.  Right now the book on Wright is to pitch him with offspeed away and high and tight.  Until Wright proves he can turn on the inside stuff and lay off the away stuff he won’t get anywhere.* As for Bay, the problem with him is, and pardon me for being in fan mode, but he has more 3 pitch at-bat strikeouts than anyone I can remember.  Recently I’ve watched his at bats and he just seems to go up there with no plan and hoping that he gets a strike to hit and you know what?  He gets first pitch strikes and nothing else.  He then swings at garbage on the last two pitches and goes back to the dugout wondering what happened.  His at-bats are kind of tough watching and he’s turning into Jeff Francouer who is returning back to his normal average of swinging at everything.  I mean everything.  He’s seeing, on average more pitches than his career totals would suggest, but its no surprise that he’s back to hacking and pitchers are back to giving him nothing but sliders that he chases.  Its almost embarrassing that the Mets 3-4-5 are doing nothing but again, its April so hopefully in May, Bay busts out, and so does Wright and the pitching remains constant.  The hope that both facets of the game continue going well along with a really good bullpen.

*= Look at me making it sound so easy.  Yeah, anybody can do it.

Ryota Igarashi went on the DL today after sustaining a moderate injury to his left hamstring trying to field a bunt.  He landed awkwardly while misplaying the hop.  He was one of my favorite pieces of the bullpen.  He was the power pitcher that we had lacked over the years and now he’s on the DL and let’s be honest, who knows how long he’s gone considering we can never tell what a moderate injury is in Met medical official terms.  Manny Acosta, former Brave, was called up.  He had decent numbers in Triple A.  So here’s the first real injury of the season to a key player and let’s see how the Mets do in filling the void here.  Let’s face it, the Mets need more innings out of their starting pitching and hopefully they continue to get great outings continuing tonight against Oliver Perez.  He’s the key.  Honestly, I’m not hoping for the best with Maine and Pelfrey he’s hopefully putting it together and Johan is Johan.  Ollie still has the stuff in my opinion and can be the catalyst for sustained winning streaks and as long as we get him going, we’ll be fine.

– At some point these fans booing Bay and Wright need to stop.  I had this conversation a few days ago with some friends of mine who are also Met fans.  Its beyond me how these fans can sit in their seats and call themselves fans of a team and boo.  In my opinion these are people who have unrealistic expectations or no clue of the Mets history.  Any real Met fan knows that trouble is just around the corner so we expect as much.  We’re not down on them, but we’ve come to temper expectations.  They are still from the 2006 crowd that jumped on the bandwagon.  Those fans who wanted to support a team but wanted to be on the new cool “it” team and the Mets fit the bill the way they cruised that year.  They had more of those fans jumping on board and talking about how great fans they were.  They are the ones sitting down and booing.  Its not even like they are up and cheering, they are seated in the nice seats by the way, booing and it frustrates me to no end.  I enjoy heckling the other team but there are some fans who see an 0-4 day and boo the crap out of somebody and its not that its unfair, because well let’s face it some of them deserve it, but its dumb.  If you’re a fan of a team you have to support them through the good and the bad.  Save some of those boos for the opposing team instead of reserving the disappointed “oh’s” and groans whenever something bad happens.  This may come off as harsh but the crowd at Met games has got to be one of the ABSOLUTE WORST.  EVER.  Its almost unpleasant sometimes to go to Met games as a fan because you’re disappointed in how the people turn on their team.

– Oliver Perez goes tonight and like I said, he’s the key.  If he can give us 6 solid, 7 good innings, then great.  If not, we’re in trouble and we’re revisiting the discussion of Ollie being such a terribly unpredictable force of nature on this team.  That’s not good.

SEASON: 6-8

MY PREDICTION: 7-7

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