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Questions Unanswered

I wasn't really watching tonight's game in Milwaukee to discover the outcome. It was totally secondary. Sure, I would always prefer that the Mets win, but tonight was Tom Glavine's night. Maybe the Mets had to win for Glavine to get three hundred. I think that's mostly a technicality.

We've seen ups and downs from Glavine, but he rarely has put together efforts as strong as tonight's against the top dogs of the NL Central. Six innings of two-hit ball? Awesome. I won't mention that he had five walks, but even seven baserunners in six plus innings is nasty.

Everyone looked great tonight, for the most part. Heilman was a man on a mission. Castillo played tight defense in his debut. Moises and Wright did what they had to at the plate. But someone forgot to send that memo to Pedro Feliciano, who has traded places with Scott Schoeneweis of late, becoming an incredible liability in close games.

But you can't blame Pedro. He's been ridden like Secretariat for the second straight season, and this year he hasn't even been able to tag-team with Chad Bradford to bring the funk. The Mets have had a revolving door for righty setup men, featuring luminaries like Jon Adkins, Ambiorix Burgos, and Lino Urdaneta. Don't tell me to check my facts: all three appeared in at least one game.

Most importantly, though, they don't have Duaner Sanchez, who last year followed Heilman many eighth innings, like clockwork. Joe Smith, too, was overworked the first half of the season, and was demoted to AAA.

Apparently, though, our dear manager was too busy to read scouting reports, spending his time instead hobnobbing with this fine thespian on your right, who, perhaps non-coincidentally, believes that the alien ruler of something called the "Galactic Confederacy" brought people to earth 75 million years ago in spaceships and blew them up with hydrogen bombs. The people, not the spaceships.

So, he used Heilman for the seventh and one out in the eighth. That's fine; Aaron's been hot lately. Unfortunately, as they say, the best laid plans. . . Nevertheless, Willie opted to call on Pedro Feliciano to face the lefty Prince Fielder. That's where he lost me. Feliciano has been ice cold lately (21.60 ERA this past week). But given the way he has faced righties all season, one would think that Willie wasn't just leaving him in for one batter.

Instead, Pedro can't find the strike zone, and Willie has to go to the rock of the Mets' bullpen. The go-to-guy. The man with a plan. The equalizer. Guillermo Mota. The reliever of a 5.40 ERA. The same one who needed anabolic steroids in 2006 to attain a 4.53 ERA.

Was Willie drunk? Did he forget that Chad Bradford no longer pitches for this team? Did he forget that Joe Smith was sent down for Jon Adkins, who in turn was sent down for David Newhan? The Mets' groundball funk machine in the pen was sent down for David Newhan. Read that sentence again.

Actually, aside from the first little blemish on Mota's evening (a rocket of a ground-rule double off Bill Hall's bat), he managed quite the little escape act. Sure, Gary Cohen can call Jorge Sosa, who is probably going to be displaced from his Thursday start, Houdini, but Mota's feat was similarly impressive.

Weirdly, though, this game had a playoff atmosphere. Perhaps it was because of the implications of Glavine hunting for 300. But he will live for many other starts. Maybe it was the fact that Jeff Suppan started this game. By the way, if you were asked which opposing pitcher would be responsible for foiling what could be one of the Mets' greatest nights of the season, the Supp' Nazi would definitely be near the top of your list. That's a fact.

How does this guy dominate the Mets? He doesn't strike anyone out, walks too many, has an awesome 114-110 career record (with the sterling 4.64 ERA to boot), and has a 5.89 ERA in July. Maybe if Steve Trachsel's not too busy losing games in front of three fans in Baltimore, he could give Jeff a few pointers. Inexplicably, he has a 2.81 career ERA against the Mets.

And after Suppan, the crack staff of Brewer relievers looked pretty good. Maybe Carlos Villanueva doesn't scare you, but he scares the rest of us. Derrick Turnbow and Francisco Cordero were both tough. And then comes Matt Wise. Maybe you're not incredibly familiar with him, but I've been pumping him for a while on account of his filthy change. Oh, no, I thought. We're toast.

And then, ten straight balls. This game's script was starting to read like an Alec Baldwin SNL sketch. But then Brian Shouse, who brings the funk, came in to face Moises, already with two balls on him. [ED NOTE: :::chuckles:::] And Shouse gave him a third. But then Moises being Moises did what Moises does. Six. Four. Three.

If game-ruining double plays were game-winning hits, Moises Alou would be David Ortiz.

So the bottom of the eleventh came, as it invariably will, when only David Newhan (our unlikely and untalented hero!) is capable of mustering a hit against the indomitable Chris Spurling. Aaron Sele took to the hill, a bastion of Metness, throwing soft curveballs and soft fastballs to the Brewers.

Unfortunately, Geoff Jenkins greeted him rudely with a single. Corey Hart, who couldn't lay down a bunt, never surrenders (look it up), and he blooped a single. Thankfully, Delgado atoned for his error in the ninth with a nice throw to third on a failed bunt, and Luis Castillo started the double play against the next batter.

And madness, as per usual, ensued. Firstings was diving left and right, all the while looking like a near-great in center.

But at the end of the day, there was one last mistake left up Willie's sleeve. He left Aaron Sele in to face Geoff Jenkins, instead of bringing in Scott Schoeneweis, and the outfielder scalded a two-run walk-off shot after Tony Graffanino's leadoff double in the thirteenth. And Willie ought to answer for that.

Transaction Reaction: 2B Luis Castillo

Although GM Omar Minaya hasn't swung any blockbuster trades this year, the Mets on Monday made a minor move in acquiring second baseman Luis Castillo from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for minor league catcher Drew Butera and minor league outfielder Dustin Martin.

Castillo, 31, was putting together an average season in his second year in Minnesota, batting .304/.356/.352 in 85 games. Butera was batting a rather anemic .231/.297/.344 for St. Lucie and Binghamton in 82 games, and Martin was hitting at a .289/.359/.422 clip in 95 games, all but two at St. Lucie.

I can't help but be somewhat nonplussed by this trade. Obviously the Mets aren't giving up much here, but I'm inclined to wonder why Minnesota opted to deal the impending free agent, a move which forced unproven prospect Alexi Casilla into a starting position on the depth chart.

I am also confused about the Mets' methodology behind this trade. I would understand the move if they were somehow in possession of a secret time machine capable of resurrecting the Castillo of a few seasons ago, but at present he is a singles hitter with hamstrings more torn than Natalie Imbruglia.

Obviously the Mets have not been enamored with Ruben Gotay's recent showing as the full-time second baseman, but Castillo is hardly a defensive upgrade over Gotay. Baseball Prospectus lists Gotay's Fielding Rate as 97 with a -2 FRAA. That's below average, but Castillo's numbers are far worse: Fielding Rate of 93 with a -6 FRAA.

As recently as 2005, Luis was a whiz in the field and a sparkplug in the lineup, but offensively there's no comparison: Gotay's EqA is .311 and Castillo's is .269.

This year, Castillo is posting his lowest OBP since 2001, and he has only stolen nine bases. Nine! Even Shawn Green, who, according to Joe Benigno, stinks, has nine steals. Castillo, unfortunately, isn't much more than a washed-up singles hitter.

I'm not sure how to evaluate this deal, when all's said and done. The Mets gave up almost nothing to acquire an impending free agent who fills a near-void at second base (despite the Mets retaining the services of every second baseman in the nation: Anderson Hernandez, David Newhan, Marlon Anderson, Easley, Gotay, the injured 'Stache), but he's not much of an upgrade over Ruben Gotay, who's been absolutely raking at the dish.

I hope Omar can think of something better, because I'm not entirely certain the Mets have exactly counteracted the Braves' addition of Teixeira by acquiring a latter-day Chuck Knoblauch.

The Deadline Dish

Deadline Dish

12:18 PM Tuesday: Not too much news to announce. The Cardinals acquired Joel Pineiro from the Red Sox, and Scott Proctor is headed to the Dodgers for Wilson Betemit.

More importantly, though, are the potential moves on the horizon. Although Octavio Dotel is possibly headed to Atlanta, he may, in fact, still be available for the taking. The Red Sox are still aggressively pursuing Jermaine Dye, and their trade of Pineiro indicates, perhaps, that they believe ESPN's Buster Olney, who calls the Sox the frontrunners for Eric Gagné. Olney also lists the Mets and the Brewers among the three top teams.

I'll keep you posted.

1:45 AM Tuesday: Okay, kids, maybe I'm getting a late start on this, but throughout today we will be top-notch rumor mongers and critical thinkers regarding the 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline for Major League Baseball.

What to watch for:
  • Transaction Reaction: Luis Castillo for two soon to be ex-baseball players
  • Full coverage of all Mets rumors and some others, too
  • Breakdown of division-impacting moves: Teixeira to Atlanta, Lohse to Philadelphia, and are others on the way?

    Stay tuned; it's a going to be a mostly forgettable journey. Don't forget that Tom Glavine's gunning for 300, A-Rod for 500, and Barry for 755* once the sun sets on the Wild West. See you then.