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Josh... who?

Well, this ugly sitcom continues. This has been on longer than NBC's Four Kings was, and has probably been equally promoted.

In his tenth start of the season, the Mets spiced it up a bit, going as far as to give Pedro Martinez the loss in a 7-inning, 10 K, 2 run effort. It was probably against a tough team, like the Cardinals or a good hitting team like the Rockies or Reds. Not exactly. The Mets were facing the 14-31 (make that 15-31!) Florida Marlins and their new ace, Josh Johnson. And if hearing those words in rapid succession about a team that has won the second-most World Series championships in the last ten years, it's even funnier to hear that the Mets managed two hits off of him. An RBI single from C-Belt and an infield single from the Duck.

These are the games you have to hate. Games where you go to a cavernous teal and orange stadium (one which seats upwards of 75,000 during NFL season) and only 15,000 show up, most of whom are Met fans. These are the games you hate, if only because they start at 7:35, rather than 7:05 or 7:10, damning your routine. These are the games you hate, because they're quick and unbearable. These are the games you hate, in that ugly monstrosity of a stadium, facing an ugly monstrosity of a team.

You know what else I hate? Relievers beginning the season with a scoreless streak and then vomiting all over the baseball field with incompetence. Since ending his scoreless streak by allowing Philadelphia to tack on an insurance run on May 9, Sanchez has been an utter joke, pitching 9.1 innings and allowing 8 runs, good for that sterling ERA of 7.91. Sanchez this time, against a mediocre Marlins squad, did his best to put this game out of reach for the Mets. You don't allow them to get three insurance runs! You can't. And sure, while my baseball existence has led me to put all my faith in regression to the mean, does it really have to be at times this inopportune?

The Mets would face Logan Kensing, a rookie setup man who came into the game with an ERA of 6.23 and Joe Borowski, a "closer" who entered the game with a mere five saves and 4.67 ERA. These righties are hardly Jeff Nelson and Mariano Rivera. In conclusion, MLB should be aware that their slogan "I Live For This" does not apply at all to last night's game.

Sanchez was eventually going to regress to the mean, we know that. But as far as how it has happened, could we at least try to save it for one-sided games?

At least we have Tom Glavine going... against Dontrelle Willis. Please spare me a heartbreaker, Metsies.

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Bienvenidos a Miami...

After taking two of three from the Evil Empire and two of three from the Yankees, the Mets are now heading to sunny Florida to face the impotent and incompetent Marlins. This team boasts familiar faces, like Mike Jacobs and Yusmeiro Petit, as well as top-notch unfamiliar faces, inlcuding Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez. This series is a must-win for the Metsies, if only because they're burning their two aces (and El Duque) pitching against a 14-31 team. Let's go to the matchups.

Game 1: Friday, 7:35
Pedro Martinez, RHP (5-0, 2.82 ERA) vs. Josh Johnson, RHP (3-2, 2.62 ERA)
  • This is an interesting one. Pedro hasn't won in a long while despite pitching well in his last four starts. A little more luck and a little less blowing up from BillyBoy and Pedro's 9-0. But at this point in time, the Mets should win this one for Pedro. However, they are facing a tough and talented rookie (See Florida Marlins, Entire Roster) in Josh Johnson. Although the righty spent all of April in the pen, he has seen his ERA get better as a starter. It is worth noting that Johnson is prone to the walk, allowing 17 BB in 34.1 IP this year. His longest outing of the year came in his last start, where he pitched 6.2 innings against Scott Kazmir and Ty Wigginton's Devil Rays. Pedro has the edge.

  • Game 2: Saturday, 1:20 (Semi-National TV: FOX)
    Tom Glavine, LHP (7-2, 2.48 ERA) vs. Dontrelle Willis, LHP (1-5, 5.12 ERA)
  • Another interesting pitching matchup in the Saturday matinee, as the veteran Glavine, who was on his pitching deathbed last year, takes on the younger Willis, on his pitching deathbed this year. Willis' poor record was originally due to poor run support, as he ended April with an ERA of 3.13. However, since then, hitters have teed off on the D-Train, bringing his ERA up to a season high (6.22) after a 2.2 inning, seven-run, ten-hit effort against the Braves. In his last two starts, Willis has thrown 9 innings in one (ND @ ATL, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) and 8 innings in the other (L @ TB, 8 H, 3 R (2 ER), 3 BB, 3 K), both of them complete games. In his only start against the Mets this year, Willis pitched well but the Mets rallied and won it in the ninth. Glavine was not sharp in his last start (vs. NYY), but still managed to grab a victory. The chilly weather and high winds supposedly had a large effect on his failure to locate, so it should be good news for Tom that the forecast in Miami calls for 84 degrees of heat, but also scattered thunderstorms. They will come from the Mets' bats and propel Glavine to victory.

  • Game 3: Sunday, 1:05
    Orlando Hernandez, RHP (2-4, 6.11 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolasco, RHP (3-1, 2.89 ERA)
  • I refuse to say that there's hope that a Cuban makes his Met debut in Miami. But the potentially 50+ year old Hernandez is facing the Marlins, a team he has a 5.25 career ERA against. But let's have hope as he faces the young Nolasco, a Cub prospect jettisoned to Florida in the Juan Pierre deal. Ricky has pitched far better than El Duque this year, and it wouldn't be baseball if a rookie pitcher didn't dominate the Mets at some point. Mad props to Nolasco.

  • Florida Marlins Breakdown (14-31):
    Wow. I predicted this club to be a good sleeper squad and I was horribly wrong. Their key demon is a problem that has plagued the Mets this year. They have three spots in the starting rotation which are void of any pitching whatsoever. Their ace, Dontrelle Willis, has been something of a joke, as have veteran Brian Moehler (2-4, 6.80 ERA), youngster Scott Olsen (2-3, 6.64 ERA), yesteryear's wunderkind Jason Vargas (1-1, 6.40 ERA) and Cub reject Sergio Mitre (1-4, 4.89 ERA). They have also been undermined by their own bullpen, as "closer" Joe Borowski has a 4.67 ERA and setup men Randy Messenger, Todd Wellemeyer, Matt Herges and Logan Kensing have combined for a 1-8 record and 5.02 ERA. Gross. The offense has been a tale of both failures and successes, as rookies C/LF Josh Willingham, 2B Dan Uggla and SS Hanley Ramirez have been pleasant signs, and stalwart 3B Miguel Cabrera has been his usual RBI machine self. Cabrera has driven in 39 runs, more than any Met, and has also posted 8 HR at a .335 batting average and a .432 OBP. Those are amazing numbers. Also hitting at a .335 clip is rookie Ramirez, acquired from the most annoying franchise who won the World Series in 2004 in exchange for Josh Beckett. Although Red Sox fans (especially Peter Gammons) had talked about Ramirez in every other column as the best thing since the invention of the wheel, Hanley had gone stagnant in the minors, hitting .275 with only 8 HR and a shoddy 66% SB rate (he also stole an underwhelming 26) at AA Portland last year. He slugged .385, which means he had less power than skinny 'n speedy Dave Roberts. This year Ramirez is slugging .476 with a .411 OBP at a level greatly higher, smacking 11 doubles, 3 triples, 2 HR and driving in 18 runs as a leadoff hitter at this quarter pole of the season. He probably is the NL ROY leader at this point in the year. Also impressing Marlinians is Dan "Uggly" Uggla. He has walloped 6 HR and 23 RBI already this season, nice numbers for a 26 year-old Rule V second baseman out of the D'Backs organization. Uggly has also posted a .315 average and a .377 OBP. Another older rookie posting solid numbers is 27 year-old left fielder/catcher Willingham. Although Mets fans may remember him from major league cups of coffee in 2004 and 2005, the righty has not disappointed with more playing time, hitting 7 HR and 13 doubles at a .269 average. Starting at catcher instead is the atypical Miguel Olivo, a phenomenal defensive catcher with speed. Olivo is on the list of Marlin disappointments this year, as is former Met folk hero Mike Jacobs. Is he Jewish? Is he a capable everyday first baseman? No. On both counts. After launching 11 HR in the blue 'n orange last year, Jake hasn't been the rake, hitting just .220 with a mere 5 HR. As usual, I will defend a former Met and say that he has outdriven everyone on the team except Delgado, Beltran and Wright. Don't remind me they're the only ones who occupy RBI slots in the batting order. Cliff Floyd stinks. Let my useless blogging compatriot remind you he left 10 on base in one game(it's somewhere near the bottom). And if that wasn't enough for tangents, Cliff Floyd used to play for the Marlins. The man who traded for him to leave Florida? None other than Omar Minaya. Boo-yah. But Jake has shown patience, still posting a .335 OBP, which is 335 points higher than Jose Lima's was. Perennial prospect and extremely raw Reggie Abercrombie has been displaying his five tools in center field for the 'Lins, hitting .229, driving in only 12 runs on 3 HR, and posting an ugly .299 OBP. Hotshot right fielder Jeremy Hermida has been hurt throughout most of this year and his playing time has been taken by an incompetent batch of bumbling fools, including Chris Aguila, Eric Reed and prospectus failedus Joe Borchard. Hell, ex-Expo Matt Cepicky has even seen time in 9 games and has made the best of it with a .158 OBP and .111 BA. The Marlins stink. They'll be a good squad eventually, but (completely obvious prediction alert!) they won't capture their third World Series title ever in Florida. Just think. They have as many world series titles as the Mets, in about a quarter of the years. Now if that doesn't scream ugly (or Uggla), I don't know what does.

    Players to Watch for:
    FLA: Hanley Ramirez. I like this kid and I like the fact that he's going against three pitchers who don't have exciting pickoff moves.

    NYM: Carlos Delgado. Revenge against his "former mates"? Priceless. Expect similar results from the Duck.

    Player of the Series: Carlos Delgado

    Picks: Dave Williams' new club sweeps the set! Hooray hurrah! I knew getting rid of Julio was the key. I'm sure!

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    Two of three and then some...

    The past series pitted the Mets against their most competitive division rivals and they won. Both wins were comeback wins and the comebacks proved things about this team that are not easily forgotten.

    Not only that, but the team was remade. Benitez 2.0 is gone, as is the incomparable Victori Gonzalez, who pitched well today, but was DFAed nonetheless. New Mets include Alay Soler, Heath Bell and... El Duque. Alaskan native Dave Williams joins the minor league corps, and failed retreads Limatime and Victori have the chance to rejoin AAA Norfolk.

    Part of me feels bad about using that foolish nickname, but fully aware that it will echo from the rafters at Shea in one context or another for the rest of this season. The balky-backed "36 year-old" along with Soler now make up the back of the rotation, which also happens to have a new ethnic flavor. This flavor is that of cigars. Although these two will probably be an upgrade over Gonzo and Lima Bean, the bullpen is in further shambles with Heilman and Sanchez looking less lights-out by the day and Pedro Feliciano putting the Mets behind in two of three this series. It's also worth mentioning that strikeout wizard Julio is gone and Steve Trachsel has been an utter joke as a starter.

    So why have the Mets been remade? Call it an effort to stave off stagnation. After a disappointing 3-6 road trip, Minaya viewed his team and took a chance at rebuilding the roster. This series saw deviation from the standard lineup, with XMan sitting out with a bad back and kazmat seeing less playing time.

    Bad signs in this series:
    -Aaron Heilman: 2 IP, 2 ER, 2 BB
    -Pedro Feliciano: (1-1. 1 BS) 2.1 IP, 3 ER
    -Carlos Delgado: 1 for 11.
    -David Wright: 5 SO
    -Carlos Beltran 7 SO

    Good signs:
    -Reyes hitting (count 'em) 2 HR, 1 3B and driving in 5 runs
    -Cliff Floyd: 5 for 11, 1 HR, 2 2B
    -David Wright: 5 for 15, 2 HR
    -Carlos Beltran: 5 for 16, 2 HR
    -Billy Wagner: 2 IP, 2 K, 1 SV, 0 ER

    All in all, it's pretty much a wash. Time for the Florida Marlins. And everyone knows that means Pedro, Glavine and El Duque.
    See you tomorrow with a series preview.

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    The Phight Phor Phirst

    this series preview sucks, but that's only because blogger sucks. they had posting issues earlier today. there went my good series preview. enjoy this one. -schuyla

    Here come the Phillies. After a triumph in a set of relatively unimportant games with their crosstown rivals, the Mets will now square off against their real rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies, who, despite losing two of three to the Red Sox, are only three games out. So the Mets have the capability to leave this series with a six-game division lead, or they could leave it tied with the Phillies. So, yeah, it's important. Also important to note is that the Mets will be unable to toss one of their aces in the two-headed monster that is this rotation. Accordingly, Victori Gonzalez and Alay "Your Fears" Soler will pitch in this series. Fun.

    Game 1: Tuesday, 7:10
    Gavin Floyd, RHP (4-2, 5.71 ERA) vs. Steve Trachsel, RHP (2-4, 4.33 ERA)

    Game 2: Wednesday, 7:10
    Cole Hamels, LHP (0-0, 3.18 ERA) vs. Jeremi Gonzalez, RHP (0-0, 10.13 ERA)

    Game 3: Thursday, 1:10 (EDT)
    Jon Lieber, RHP (3-5, 5.81 ERA) vs. Alay Soler, RHP (MLB DEBUT)

    PHI Record- 23-20

    Players to Watch for:
    PHI: Pat the Bat. Let's get it straight, this guy absolutely massacres the Mets. Expect him to do his usual schtick.

    NYM: David Wright. Off that huge homer on Sunday night, I'm expecting some power and production from this kid.

    Player of the Series: Carlos Beltran

    Picks: Two of three for the Metros, but a bit of trouble from Soler. Gosh, why can't anyone hold a rotation spot?

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    The Comeback Kid

    It's rare for me to think about what I wear when going to a ballgame. I usually throw on my Pedro shirt if he's pitching and a Kaz Matsui shirt in times of humorous controversy, but normally it's a Beltran or a Delgado. This time, I thought with great difficulty about what to wear after what FAFIF called The Worst Loss Ever. I was disappointed with the team and most of all this new pricey closer, BillyBraden Looper-Wagner. I couldn't understand what on earth would possess him to blow up like that on Saturday, and furthermore I couldn't understand what on earth Willie was thinking by putting him in for the ninth in a non-save situation. And, wouldn't you know it, he came out of that game talking like Herman Edwards in the press conference. I recited it in my head. Yeah, we get it, Willie. You play to win the game. But you don't play for Pedro Martinez to win the game, do you? BillyWilly has combined to blow two of Pedro's potential wins for him and two other games he pitched well in but was unable to earn a win.

    So, out to Shea I went to see Tom Glavine battle, in the most Howian sense of the word. This battle did not resemble phase two of the Tom Glavine renaissance. This was very phase one, where he'd somehow eke out a win despite allowing far too many baserunners. And the game was disappointing from a Glaviney standpoint. He had control problems, tossing about as many balls as strikes through the first couple innings. And when the Yankees broke through in the fourth on a play D-Wright should have made, I worried that this could only mean trouble for the Metropolitans. Instead, I believe the DiamondVision said "Buy one Carlos, get one free." The Duck played his usual role as catalyst, then Beltran singled and then Delgoner stepped up to the dish. It was as though he was saying, "Yo, Biggie Smalls. I'm going to hit this pitch pretty far." And he did. But then Wright the Wrong stepped up to the plate and became Wright. He hit that ball an astounding 445 feet. And on WFAN, in a thank god it's not last year moment, Tom McCarthy said he hit the ball over the picnic area. I call that cahn-fidence.

    And that was pretty much the game until the seventh. Mike Myers has apparently divorced the axe murderer and did away with Carlos D. in a massively clutch situation where he could have broken the game open. Then, Erroneous Heilman entered the game. Disgusting how he couldn't throw a strike and couldn't get anyone out until he did. But then my favorite part of the game came. I received the gift of watching a Yankee player I liked pitch. It was Colter Bean. The man is named Colter Bean. A rare treat, indeed. He threw alarmingly slowly with a havoc-wreaking arm angle. Then it was time for Goggles.

    So he goes and loads the bases with no one out. Then he becomes injured. Nice work, asshole. But he stayed out there, warrior that he is, and got Jason Giambi out on a sacrifice fly. So, this is a great time to be a Met fan. Arguably the best (clean) hitter of the past 30 years comes to the plate, one who we decided was not as good as Rey OrdoƱez, mind you, with men on first and second. And after he hit the ball, I went into a mode like one of those annoying announcers who talk to balls. They say "Get up! Get up!" I said "GIDP! GIDP!" And so it was. Gayrod grounds into the force and we go to the ninth.

    In this ninth, we face former Met Scott Erickson, still enshrined in the immortality of his Mets debut, six innings of eight-hit, two-run ball. He followed this up with another impeccable outing, where he dazzled the Montreal Expos for two innings of seven-hit, seven-run pleasure. This game, which the Mets lost 10-19, though it included two Richard Hidalgo HR and David Wright's first big league moonshot, will be forever remembered as that game where Todd Zeile pitched. One inning of five-run ball. This game might have been close if it weren't for Art Howe being a total fucktard and using Todd Zeile.

    But Erickson pitched well last night. And while it's only a matter of time before he melts down in the pinstripes, for now he held the Mets in the ninth. And during this inning, I was not fixated by Erickson's dazzling show on the mound, but rather by a certain lefthanded alpaca farmer warming up in the Mets pen during a 4-3 game.

    And at the end of the inning, the familiar chords of Enter Sandman began playing. And then Shea began to rock, with both Mets fans and Yankees fans cheering for New York's newest Sandman. And at that point, I took off the fleece I had been wearing, despite the frigid weather, to reveal my choice of shirt for that game. #13. Wagner. Nobody sat down during that ninth inning, as Billy blew away Bob Cano for the first out. Then came the onset of slight panic. A hit from Bernie. Even Melky weighed in with his irrelevant opinion by hitting a single. Is this Saturday Wagner? Is Kelly Stinnett at the plate, waiting to get revenge against the Mets for trading him for Cory Lidle? Uh-oh. Is this further revenge for not naming him to our 2005 roster? Uh, no. Billy blew him away. And then Miguel Cairo. Surely the useless savior of our squad from yesteryear did not take kindly to being supplanted by Jose Valentin. But once again, no. He grounds out to the world's best second baseman, Kaz Matsui. Then it's really rocking.

    Game over. "Exit light. Enter night. Take my hand. We're off to never never land."

    And so it was, in three not-so-meaningful games, the Mets showed the Yankees a thing or two about superiority. And then the Phillies will come. NL East showdown indeed.

    I'll be back with a series preview tomorrow.

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