Beginning on Monday, the Mets will meet the District's pride at Shea in a freakishly short two game series. This tiny series bothers me, mostly because there's yet another two-game long caravan rolling into town after the Nats are finished. That photo up there is the mugshot of Nationals GM Jim Bowden who has had a rough go of it lately. More on that in my summary of baseball's youngest club.
This will also be another important series for the Mets in the long term as we will finally get to see the non-Julio part of the Kris Benson trade. The U.S.S. Maine hopefully will deliver for the Orange and Blue. At present, he is also not on the roster. Expect another demotion for Victor Diaz, or, please, the release of Jose Valentin.
Game 1: Monday, 7:10
Ramon Ortiz, RHP (0-3, 6.75 ERA) vs. Victor Zambrano, RHP (1-2, 9.64 ERA)
Game 2: Tuesday, 7:10
Michael O'Connor, LHP (0-1, 0.00 ERA) vs. John Maine, RHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
WAS Breakdown: Record- 8-17
This team reeks of problems. That is to say there are a lot of problems with this team. Word association? Problems. If you didn't say Washington Nationals, then I have a problem with you. They have very little offensive output from people who are not Alfonso Soriano, Jose Vidro and Nick Johnson. And, due to a complete and total lack of a leadoff hitter, Sori has batted leadoff occasionally this year. Highly touted rookie Ryan Zimmerman has failed to produce in his first full season (despite that massive homer he hit off Wags) and Royce Clayton and Marlon Byrd are actually seeing regular playing time. Add that to the fact that veteran catcher Brian Schneider didn't cross the Mendoza line until this weekend and that cleanup hitter Jose Guillen only has 7 RBI and now you've started to broach the depths of this team's troubles. But I would be remissed if I failed to mention how disappointing their pitching has been. Ace Livan Hernandez's problems from the second half of last year have carried over, as he sports a 1-3 record with a 5.49 ERA at this point in the season. Tony Armas has been the bright spot of the rotation, rebounding from injuries and inconsistency to post a 2-2 mark with a 2.76 ERA. John Patterson, last year's dominating National, is already injured and Ryan Drese's returning starts from injury have both been losses. Don't forget about disappointing performances from Ramon Ortiz and Zach Day. Now you can start to grasp some of their starting rotation troubles. While closer Chad Cordero, super-humanly tall former Expo Jon Rauch, and, wait for it, set-up man MIKE STANTON have been effective out of the pen, the rest of the relievers have been disappointments. Comeback hero and lefty specialist Joey Eischen, who the Mets pursued over the offseason, has been hit hard and has had control problems to the tune of a 10.38 ERA in 12 games. Last year's consisten workhorse Gary Majewski has fallen off pace with a 4.96 ERA in 13 games, though some believe that to be a function of overpitching in the World Baseball Classic. Couple that with the fact that Frank Robinson has so few trusted options and starters who can't go deep into games and this team has a chance of total and utter collapse by midseason. Jim Bowden, however, has gathered some apparent vindication for his moves in trading for Alfonso Soriano, giving Marlon Anderson a two-year contract and sending Ryan Church down to AAA to start the season. This is because he was probably intoxicated during the entire process. Bowden was recently collared on charges of DUI and domestic violence, both which are probably direct causes of watching the Nationals play so far. Expect this twisted saga and scenario to work out in a weird little way.
Players to Watch for:
WAS: Alfonso Soriano. Against two pitchers in Maine and Zambrano without excellent
track records? Sori's getting ready to blast a bunch.
NYM: Cliff Floyd. He needs to put something up so not to disappoint. And even the Braves announcers put it correctly during this past series: Cliff's gonna hit near .300 and drive in 90 runs. It's only a matter of time before he gets to that pace. It's your turn now, Cliffy. Get hot!
Player of the Series: Cliff Floyd
Picks: Tiny brooms out at home as the Mets sweep away the Nationals in a pair of close games.
Instead of prognostications, I wanted to put up a feature shamelessly stolen from the Jeff Francoeur Fan Club over at Talking Chop.
20 Things We Learned From the First Month of the Season
1. David Wright is the real deal. He can carry this team.
2. Carlos Delgado can carry this team as well. But he's also incredibly prone to the strikeout.
3. Pedro Martinez doesn't need arm strength or a shoe to be the ace he can be.
4. Tom Glavine's resurgence is a necessary blessing.
5. Brian Bannister will not be able to hold his own against MLB hitters until he can learn how to control his pitches.
6. The team's best reliever: Duaner Sanchez.
7. Billy Wagner does not have the hyper-velocity he wants, but his slider is nasty enough that he doesn't need it.
8. Cliff Floyd is starting slowly and appears to be more sluggish than last year.
9. Ramon Castro is this team's best catcher: offensively and defensively.
10. Paul Lo Duca isn't bad either.
11. Rickey Henderson's lessons helped Jose Reyes take walks. They haven't helped him hit for a higher average or steal more bases.
12. Carlos Beltran is better than advertised, or at least the way he was advertised by Mets fans during last year.
13. You should never let current Mets brass anywhere near a recording studio.
14. Xavier Nady is a really streaky hitter. He can be good, he can be bad, but the best way to describe him is inconsistent.
15. The Mets are in no rush to call up Lastings Milledge, even when the situation might be perfect for his arrival.
16. Wille Randolph lacks confidence in Chad Bradford and Jorge Julio.
17. The signing of Julio Franco was huge. Bigger than any of us thought it could be.
18. The signing of Jose Valentin was a huge mistake. Also bigger than any of us thought it could be.
19. Anderson Hernandez cannot hit major league pitching. Kaz Matsui can.
20. The Mets are the best team by leaps and bounds in the National League East, and, maybe, just, maybe, in all of the National League.
Beat them Nats! Beat them Nats!