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A Bit of a Shock

It really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that Barry Zito followed the money trail to San Francisco. It's not as though one could punish the Mets for refusing to give a pitcher who has been just above average every year of his career (save for that 2002 23-5 Cy Young season).

Why wouldn't Zito go to San Fran? He doesn't have to switch houses. Moreover, he switches to the National League and stays in a nice pitcher's park. He's not going to Texas. So, as far as I can tell, we have to give maximum credit to the Zito/Boras team. He received everything he could have wanted while not having to make a single sacrifice. In fact, he agreed to the largest deal ever given to a pitcher, tying Mike Hampton's and Kevin Brown's in terms of length, while surpassing both of those in total dollars.

It's funny, actually. One would assume that the greatest contracts ever would have been given to pitchers like Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, or Greg Maddux. These pitchers (with the partial exception of Pedro) have traditionally been the most durable. Up until a few years ago, they, not Hampton or Zito, were perennial Cy Young contenders.

It'll be enjoyable to watch the Giants' management drowning in a pool of their own tears once they realize that Zito isn't all that great. Thankfully for them, they have impressive young righty starter Matt Cain to be a mainstay as an ace, given that Zito certainly cannot fill that role.

The issue for the Mets now exists with the fact that their rotation is in shambles. It's foolish to count on Pedro for anything more than a minimal contribution down the stretch. So, your rotation looks like this:

1. Tom Glavine
2. Orlando Hernandez
3. John Maine
4. Oliver Perez
5. Mike Pelfrey/Phil Humber/Dave Williams

Although we have all recently adopted the "In Omar We Trust" mantra, it's hard to give him much credit for assembling this rotation. El Duque has a history of breaking down: his 162.1 innings this past year were the most since he threw 195.2 in 2000.

Glavine's history is injury-free, but he's unable to go very deep into games unless he's hitting the plate exactly with his changeup. It's tough to say this, but the 41 year-old lefty is probably the closest thing this rotation has to a sure thing.

Maine is a bit of a wild-card. He obviously has an impressive fastball and has shown the ability to work with secondary pitches from time to time, but he survives on a low hit rate, something that usually means future pitfalls for pitchers. He also serves up far too many home runs and a few too many walks. Maine's future is undoubtedly bright, but it's difficult to say whether 2007 will be a progression or a regression.

Oliver Perez has become something of a folk hero within Mets circles. It's deserved, on some level, given his admirable performance on short notice during Game 7 of the NLCS. Perez obviously has a great arm, but it's ridiculous to pencil him in as a sure thing. He's always going to be something of a project, as far as I can tell, and it would not come as a shock to anyone if he was leading the league in strikeouts or biding his time at AAA at the All-Star Break. A bold prediction: Dave Williams and Phil Humber will both make as many (or more) starts for the Mets in 2007 as Perez will.

Pelfrey, Humber, Williams... they're all special in their own ways. It's hard not to like most of what we saw out of Williams last year, but history has shown that he's not exactly an elite pitcher. Humber made a strong recovery from 2005's TJ surgery, but it's hard to say that he's ready to contribute at the big-league level. As far as we can tell with Pelfrey, his biggest problem is working with his secondary pitches. His fastball has a ton of movement, but he can't always bring it over the plate for strikes.

So where do we go from here? Are the Mets really going to begin the season with all of these wildcards in the rotation? My best guess is that they won't. It's awfully likely that the Mets will make a move for a player like Jeff Weaver. If Weaver is still insistent on his four-year deal, it's a safe bet that the Mets will try to kick the tires on Tomo Okha and Tony Armas, Jr. I'm a fan of both, and either one would give the Mets a safe option to bide time until Pelfrey and Humber are dominating AAA.

Nobody said that it would take Zito to win the NL East. It's safe to say, though, that the division won't be as much of a cakewalk next year. The Phillies have upgraded their pitching, while the Marlins' young aces will be impressive as usual. Stay tuned. Omar must have something up his sleeve.

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A Christmas Story

Every year, children and youthful adults alike all anticipate the arrival of Santa on Christmas Day. Sure, there are some religions that don't worship the Santacious one, but for all intensive purposes, this is a universally giving Santa.

Santa's coming a little late this year. That's just the quaking in our bones, as all of us can tell that we'll have a brand-new shiny present for us come early January. Sure, it'll cost our franchise a good chunk of change, but he's coming. It really shouldn't matter. We won't get prices cut if they decide to sign Suppan instead.

Yes, we all know that Barry Zito's coming to town sometime soon. It always seemed like the likely destination for the long-haired idiosyncratic lefty. We've heard rumors forever about bringing Planet Zito to town.

And with Christmas approaching (and Hanukkah in the rearview mirror) the space under our ceremonial evergreen is mysteriously bare. We got a few of the presents we got last year again, but both of them looked old, dusty, and banged-up.

Later more presents appeared, including one with urine stains, and one that vaguely resembled Damion Easley. And sure, we even wound up with what had been our favorite present from a few holidays ago. It was repackaged nicely and I heard it was even a little cheaper.

But we're missing the great present, it seems. Where is that Lexus with the big red bow on it? Maybe times are tight and it makes more sense to settle for a Subaru. I don't think that's what we should be feeling this Christmas.

I took a peek in Omar's closet. I think that was dishonest of me. I'm sure, though, that it was in my readers' best interests. I know what he has up his sleeve. Ebenezer (or is Satan a more accurate name?) Boras is not going to ruin Christmas for the nation's greatest city.

I just hope that Santa can get here safely, what with Dontrelle Willis on the road and all. That's something that's just pretty hard to fathom. You're a professional athlete, making a couple million dollars a year, poised to get a huge raise, and you can't manage to hail a cab? Erm, wait, come to think of it given Mets history, you're probably safer driving drunk than taking a cab in Miami.

With all due seriousness, though, could anything make Zito a better fit for New York? Boras has expressed his client's desire to play for a championship contender. Zito also would fit in very well in the Mets' clubhouse, which includes his kindred spirits Pedro Martinez and Rick Peterson. Zito could refine his changeup with help from two of the top change-up pitchers of our generation in Glavine and Pedro. Orlando Hernandez and Julio Franco could tell him stories about the invention of the game, given that they played for Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's prior to the team's eventual migration to Oakland.

Zito's personality (and ethnicity) are both very marketable in this area. Undoubtedly, the Mets are in good position to pony up as well, given their new cable station (its shortcomings aside) and the arrival of a new stadium complete with a mondolicious naming rights package.

So fret you not, children, during this holiday season. Zito will soon remind us of the courtship of another Boras client whom we couldn't quite snag until after New Year's. Nevertheless, Mr. Beltran turned out okay after a little bit.

Merry Christmas. I'll be back on either Sunday or Monday for a little bit of Jets coverage.

Enjoy your substitute Santa (played above by Benny Agbayani).

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A Letdown

You have to worry about the Rangers. Even though the team is only a few games removed from a five-game winning streak and they still hold the division lead, it's not a bad idea to turn on the panic siren.

We hear about the flu striking the team, and sure, Kevin Weekes should not be starting for this team. Nevertheless, the Rangers have allowed a whopping 17 goals in their last three games while only scoring 6. Those numbers are made less stark by the 4-3 defeat last night at the hands of the Icelanders.

The problem with the Rangers is on some level due to a lack of depth. Young players with scoring ability, like Petr Prucha and Jarkko Immonen, are being buried on the third and fourth lines with incompetent goons like Ryan Hollweg and Colton Orr.

The Rangers team is made up of many players without a lot of scoring output. Jason Ward, who shifted for a bit with Jagr last night, has two goals and five assists on the season. Marcel Hossa has one goal and two assists. Those two combined have missed three games. Ryan Hollweg and Colton Orr, goons both, have played a bunch this season. Orr has skated in 23 games, while Hollweg has played in all 35 games this season. The two have combined for 0 points. Not one goal, not one assist. Combined they have taken 108 penalty minutes as well.

The shame in dressing these goons is that the Rangers are forced to rely on only their top two or three lines for scoring. Matt Cullen is disappointing (and now injured), and it's hard to see Immonen, as talented as he may be, stepping up to fill the void Cullen left.

If anything can tell you what's wrong with this season, it might be the following stat: penalty killer/solid faceoff man Blair Betts has notched 60 shots on goal and four of them have gone in. Lethal shooter Prucha has rarely been set up, only firing 49. Six of them have gone in.

The defensive corps is devoid of much offensive talent aside from Tyutin and Rozsival, as Marek Malik serves mostly as a physical presence. Karel Rachunek isn't all that special.

And here we stand- no Cullen or Nylander in sight, for now, and former Islander Brad Isbister and Thomas Pock are up from the minors.

PREDICTION: Rangers 3, Panthers 5
  • Weekes, starting in place of the flued-out Lundqvist, gets shelled again. Malik should be out of the lineup again, accompanying Hank, Nylander and Cullen in the press box. (source: The Blueshirts Blog)

    Merry Hanukkah, Happy Christmas, the whole thing. See you back here if there's any resolution of anything related to Zito, the Rangers, the Knicks, or the Jets.

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  • 12.19.2006

    Thuggish and Sluggish

    I wish my notsomuch-anticipated return to blogging wasn't punctuated by a darling set of embarassing squads taking up residence at Madison Square Garden.

    Your New York Knicks actually won tonight, alarmingly at the hand of $tephon (a little too clever, perhaps?) Marbury, against one of the league's best teams. I've decided that's not really saying much, given the disgraceful state of the NBA. It's not just that there are brawls. Hockey has fights too, you know.

    What legitimately shocks me is the fact that the foremost role in the brawl was played by the league's leading scorer (Carmelo Anthony), who only a few days ago snagged the title from Allen Iverson, a man who has packed up his locker midseason to look for a better place. What is going on this league? Shouldn't the league's best players exhibit the most class? Take for example, the NFL, where elite wide receiver Terrell Owens is the epitome of class. Or you could maybe sneak a peek at the NHL a few years ago, where upper echelon scorer Todd Bertuzzi showed us how to respect the game and play with sportsmanship. Maybe you'll remember the tale of Barry Bonds, holder of many MLB records, who never broke any laws.

    I don't understand why people seem to think that the NBA is doomed as a league filled with thugs. All professional sports leagues are filled with thugs. That's why, in most cases, they become athletes. They have the killer instinct. And in some cases, like that of Bears' DT Tank Johnson, they express that killer instinct by retaining six unlicensed firearms in their homes. Eight Cincinnati Bengals have been arrested this year. Many Vikings were arrested last year.

    Baseball and hockey aren't devoid of criminal behavior either. Phillies RP Ugueth Urbina is still held in a Venezuelan jail cell on charges of attempted murder. Former #1 overall draft pick Josh Hamilton was recently selected first overall in the Rule V Draft, despite having prior battles with narcotics that netted him long suspensions. Hockey featured the Bertuzzi debacle, as well as an attempted murder allegedly organized by former Blues winger Mike Danton.

    The media problem with basketball stems from the fact that there's really no barrier between the fans and the action, whatever it may be. Also, the players are usually big, black, and tattooed, which unfortunately provokes a subconcious prejudicial disposition in many. Football players may have similar appearances, but they are shielded by helmets, pads, and occasionally sleeves.

    Basketball's problem is not unlike the others in sports. It's a mistake to compare this fight to that of a few years ago in Detroit. The fans had zero interaction with the sparring players during this brawl, and the league's suspensions and fines were dished out accordingly.

    And to those who say that this fight proves that basketball has a serious problem on its hands, I would counter with this: the fight only proved one thing – that Isiah Thomas must go. His words after the game were startling, as he talked about how the Knicks had surrendered and how Nuggets Coach George Karl was wrong to leave his starters in. Isiah also apparently tried to explain this to Carmelo Anthony during the game, telling him to stay out of the paint.

    What Isiah might lack, ironically, is that killer instinct. He lacks any sort of fire, and winds up through his action of dismissing Karl's friend Larry Brown inspiring the Nuggets more than the Knicks. It's not even that Isiah has done a poor job assembling this team, as his gamble on Eddy Curry seems to be a wise move. Hell, Thomas drafted wunderkind David Lee, and traded for Quentin Richardson, who has come alive this year. Marbury seems to be coming along as well.

    The problem may lie in Thomas' coaching style, as only a few Knicks see it fit to play defense. It's not as though it takes an inordinate amount of skill to play defense well. Isiah's passive style has yet to yield hustle from the team. He has to go very soon. Bring anyone in. ANYONE.


    The Rangers stink. I was at the game on Sunday. Oops.

    I will postpone judgment on Renney, Sather, the players, and Brian Leetch until tomorrow.

    Here's something of note: Sandis "Fruit of the Vine" Ozolinsh was waived today. If he clears waivers, which he undoubtably will, he will be assigned to Hartford and the Rangers save some of his cap money.
  • Thank god. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to prep more sarcastic remarks next time I went to the Garden.
    I was excited when we got him, but the former All-Star has less than nothing left in the tank, and really likes refueling that tank with alcohol before driving. You might remember when he scored on his own goal during the playoffs last year. Good riddance.

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    Rivals Review: 100 Greatest New York Sports Arguments

    I'm not one to focus so much on sports history. I like learning more about the upcoming games and analyzing recent ones. That's probably why I spend more time reading rumor mill columns from this winter than I spend time on reading rumor mill columns from, uh, 1947.

    However, Peter Handrinos' (of the United States of Baseball blog) most recent book, The Best New York Sports Arguments:
    The 100 Most Controversial, Debatable Questions for Die-Hard New York Fans
    , was an impressive read, covering most all memorable moments in New York sports history.

    It covers an incredible breadth of topics, a lot of which are important for young baseball fans. It's valuable to learn about the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York (baseball) Giants, as most of us are used to a two-teams-in-two-leagues setup for New York baseball. Handrinos spends a lot of the book discussing baseball scenarios past and present, capturing some of the most important personalities in the city, like John McGraw (not the mediocre former Jets safety) and George Steinbrenner.

    There is quite a bit of forgotten material in there, as I myself was unaware of what "Merkle's Boner" was. Needless to say, the book made sure that I didn't continue to think it was a low-budget porno. Of course, the book too goes into discussing A-Rod and Jeter, which is a regrettably all-too pressing sports issue in this town.

    However, baseball coverage is only a small part of the book, as Handrinos goes on to cover all sorts of other sports, including football, hockey, basketball, boxing, racing, as well as several very interesting crossover chapters. The writing is of a style which allows the book to go into great depth on many topics without actually becoming dry. If you don't care for a chapter, although it's difficult to find ones without appeal, there are 99 more to read into.

    The book also does a very good job of seeing both sides of the issues discussed, which can be difficult when picking such contentious issues. The thing I have to give the author most credit for was his statement that Spike Lee is New York's worst sports fan. I wouldn't be surprised if Reggie Miller stars in Do The Right Thing 2.

    This book would make an excellent Christmas (and Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Boxing Day) gift for every sports fan in your life. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Crosstown Rivals is sponsored by JustGreatTickets.com, your home for Chicago White Sox Tickets.



    It's been a week since I've last spoken to you.

    The week consisted of baseball's Winter Meetings, where you are utterly lost if you can't tell the difference between Scott Boras and Jeff Borris.

    Oddly enough, not that Mets-much happened.

    We're the first organization with two players named Ambiorix, as Concepcion and Burgos have now given us that accolade.

    And, even closing in on Christmas, we lost Jesus [Flores] to the Nationals in the Rule V draft.

    Aside from that, though, this week for the Mets has been nothing more than Buzz. Harden and Haren and Zito and Zito and Zito.

    And Zito. Who really cares? I find the buzz intriguing, but nothing really happened. There's nothing behind the rumors.

    And so, I had left you this week. The Rangers played twice. One of them was the most embarrassing game possible. The other, well, was slightly more palatable.

    The Jets played. They romped.

    Here's what I'll promise you::
    -Rangers over Senators today
    -Mets hang on to Milledge, Pelfrey, Humber, and Heilman, ink Zito on December 22.
    -Jets crush Bills on Sunday
    -A review of Peter Handrinos' The Best New York Sports Arguments: The 100 Most Controversial, Debatable Questions for Die-Hard New York Fans by Wednesday.

    See you then. Period.

    Crosstown Rivals is sponsored by JustGreatTickets.com, your home for Chicago White Sox Tickets.


    A Few Notes

    EDIT: (4:30 PM) AP is reporting that Tom Glavine will remain a New York Met for 1 year, $10.5MM, with a Mets teleconference scheduled for 4:50.

    Adam Rubin's Daily News blog says the deal is 1 year, $11MM.

    ESPNNEWS (via Metsblog) is reporting that the deal contains an option for 2008.


    Metsblog posted a story today about the likelihood of a Manny Ramirez for Jake Peavy trade.

    I spoke to a reputable inside source on Red Sox matters who indicated that Towers and Epstein are such good friends, the rumor was planted by San Diego with Edes to leverage the Giants potentially for Matt Cain or the Angels for Ervin Santana in a swap. He also indicated that the Padres have little to no interest in actually obtaining Ramirez.

    Presumably, the San Diego cash will instead be used to bring in Schmidt or Zito to complement Jake Peavy, with Dave Roberts potentially being re-signed to play in their outfield.

    Other reports today indicated that the Red Sox are moving closer to keeping Ramirez, which would leave them with a glut of outfielders should J.D. Drew finalize the 4-year, $56MM deal we hear so much about. That would probably mean the end of Trot Nixon's time in Boston and put Wily Mo Peña on the block.


    As for whether or not the Mets will offer Tom Glavine arbitration, I'm inclined to think that the Mets will refrain from doing so. Glavine has continually expressed indecision in the process, and the reason why the Mets didn't pick up his option was solely because the lefty was waffling. One would assume that the Mets, incredibly classy throughout what is quickly becoming an ordeal, would keep with their pattern and not offer arbitration.

    That would be consistent with Jon Heyman's reporting at SI.com.


    Sabres and Rangers tonight at HSBC. Eight o'clock is your start time. Wear something warm.

    Weekesy's in goal, and rookie Ryan Callahan could be making his first NHL start in place of Jason Ward, while serving as a compliment to Ryan Hollweg and Colton Orr.

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    The Last of the Old Guard

    Omar Minaya has really put his stamp on this team.

    It's worth noting that, with the exception of internal products Jose Reyes and David Wright (who were in fact drafted/signed when Minaya was still on Steve Phillips' staff) and a few other potential 2007 Mets (like Milledge, Humber, Bannister and Soler), this team is all Omar Minaya.

    That has been made even more apparent by the likely departures of Tom Glavine and Cliff Floyd, both of whom were signed by Steve Phillips before the 2003 season.

    This was our time, we were told, and it wasn't unreasonable to believe that Glavine could continue the stellar output he's shown for his entire career. And Floyd, despite some injury problems, was an excellent combination of power and speed.

    However, the ensuing season was one of the ugliest in recent memory. Glavine slogged along to the tune of a 4.52 ERA, with Jeff Duncan (yes, you read that right) logging more innings than any other Met in centerfield.

    You all might remember that as the year where the team was disbanded midseason, how in a span of two weeks, Burnitz, Alomar, Rey Sanchez, Benitez and Graeme Lloyd (remember him) all found new homes. They truly were the dark ages.

    And the season saw uglier things as well, with Mike Piazza falling victim to a freak muscle tear, and a bunch of washed up utility men were there to see the whole thing, like Joe DePastino, Jay Bell, and Mike Glavine. He might have been there just as a favor to Tom.

    Floyd, however, had a Met career cut far too short by injuries. I always praised the guy for his hustle and his grind, even when Achilles tendons were getting the best of him. I can't really argue about whether or not he delivered what we were looking for in the contract, given that he only had one really productive season.

    Glavine, though, was something you'd like to forget during that first year. Regrettably, everyone remembers the 15-2 home opener loss to the Cubs, where Glavine threw an impressive 3 2/3 innings of 8-hit, 5-run ball. The game was made a hint uglier by Mike Bacsik's two innings of work, where he allowed nine runs, including two homers to Corey Patterson.

    The rest of the season wasn't much better for Tom Terrific, as he really failed to look like that impressive ace we were hunting for. If he leaves (Floyd and Trax are essentially gone anyway), I hope you are aware of who becomes the longest-tenured Met. Yes, kids, it's Pedro Feliciano.

    But if you look at the fact that Feliciano threw in Japan for 2005, your longest tenured Met is Jose Reyes. That's right-- all twenty-three years of him. I think that says something about Minaya's reign, and that he is constantly changing the team, leaving only the young and great athletes to remain part of the core.

    This offseason, pending Tom Glavine's choice between money/no-trade clauses and his kids, your Mets will lose two players, and with them the memories of the failed season in 2003 are swept out the door.

    With Glavine we also might lose the traditional tension that came with his signing. We'd forget the notion about whether he's a true Brave or a Met, or whether or not he actually called John Schuerholz panicked about joining the Flushing squad.

    I'm not sure it's time to say good riddance, but for the Mets, the notions of seasons long ago played will be no more, which is nothing to argue about.


    Coming on Saturday: Rangers wrapup, Jets/Packers preview, and maybe a little bit more about Tom Glavine?

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    Back, but briefly

    Sorry for the recent lack of activity.

    My best guess is that I'll be back to cover the Glavine signing.

    Also, expect in the next four weeks:
    -Book Reviews
    -Prospect Coverage
    -Transaction Reactions

    and nonetheless your elite Rangers and Jets coverage.

    Here at crosstown rivals, we're unimpressed by Adrian Jones' blood alcohol level.

    Thanks again.

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    A Tale of Two Gardeners

    Did anyone see the Rangers game last night? If you made a conscious effort to tune in, you probably saw more of the game than I did, despite the fact that I had eagerly been anticipating going to this game. Blame it on the hell that is I-95 traffic. I took this picture, on your right, by the way. Hah.

    But from what I saw, the Rangers looked good. The best part of their success was that played a throwback style (to um, last year), rather than the haphazard low-effort, sloppy defense output we've come to expect this year

    Last year, their play was crisp and urgent, and the stellar play of King Henrik (who was exactly that Tuesday night) vaulted the Blueshirts to the head of the pack, at least until the end of the season. That hangover (sorry, Sandis, for the poor word choice) has plagued the Rangers to a certain extent all of this season, as they are tied for first with New Jersey in the Atlantic, with New Jersey having a few games to spare.

    The fact that the Rangers are tied for first in the Atlantic Division, where the record of the first-place team is just as bad or even worse as that of any other division leader, is not exactly something to write home about. But Tuesday's game was. Shanahan and Jagr were both very impressive, and the sloppy and excessively penalized play of Saturday night was nowhere to be found.

    It is nice to see that the Rangers are at least trying to rectify things, and Henrik's near shutout on Sunday plus an actual shutout on Tuesday bode well for this team's future. I predict a first place finish in the Atlantic Division, but, regrettably, I know that Gomez, Brodeur, Elias and Co. will have quite a bit to say about that.

    Alas, MSG's other inhabitants (and the tenant with MSG TV precedence) have played a horrendous game tonight, and nearly lost by less than fifteen, in spite of the fact that the Minnesota T-Wolves (who were 3-6 and in last place in their divison going into tonight's game) led by 17 at the end of the first quarter.

    I grant that I don't know all that much about basketball, but when it seems as though most of your television advertising space is devoted to telling people to come to the games, despite the fact that the Knicks play in the biggest market in the nation, it's safe to say that your team is in trouble.

    The team is utterly horrendous this season. Their 4-9 record projects to about 25 wins (and 57 losses) over the course of the NBA's 82-game season, which would actually be a two-game improvement over the previous season. I guess there's some silver lining in that.

    It's actually funny to listen to these guys (Gus Johnson and Walt Frazier tonight) try and not say anything horribly negative about this team, or try and highlight only the least negative aspects of this squad. I would like to note that my ex co-blogger forecasted a playoff season for these Knicks. Instead, you'll be lucky to see thirty wins.

    I think this is what makes me just dislike pro basketball... the game seems horribly uninspired, with chumps in cornrows jogging up and down the floor, missing free throws and making sloppy passes. I also dislike Bill Simmons, so, yeah.

    Cablevision needs to put forth more Rangers coverage and realize that people honestly don't give a damn about pro basketball, especially the brand put forth by Isiah and his Knicks. Put anything on instead. I don't care. Have a show where professional Ranger shill Bobby Granger fights Colton Orr for two hours. I'd watch that rather than the Knicks.

    Maybe they should take the games off television entirely, resurrect Orson Welles, and broadcast the games over the radio as though the Knicks are winning them all. Given the money they're spending on contracts of ex-Knicks Allan Houston, Shandon Anderson, Jalen Rose, Maurice Taylor, and Jerome Williams, they could probably afford such a plan.


    I'm pretty sure that this free agent market is actually a figment of my imagination. Soriano getting the huge contract is even not as loony as the deals handed out to Juan Pierre and Gary Matthews, Jr. If I declared myself a free agent, the Cubs would probably offer me a nine-year deal. I'd be represented by Scott Boras, though, so I'd hold out for 11 years.

    I can't decide which is a worse deal. I'm probably leaning towards the Pierre contract, because he has shown a great deal of regression since his 2003-2004 progress. He's not a horribly valuable player, granted, and his status as an average defensive outfielder probably means that he can't be a full-time centerfielder, since he can't hit.

    Matthews, Jr. at least had a 7.1 WARP3 this season, in his first full season of playing time.


    Even though my feelings on Yankees SS/God Derek Jeter are well-known (save for one April Fool's Day prank), I'm not terribly vindicated with the fact that he didn't win the MVP.

    He, like his NL counterpart in running-up Albert Pujols, was victim to someone with gaudier HR/RBI numbers. And since RBI is a statistic thoroughly dependent on the number of opportunities one has with men on base, it's not altogether that hard to discount it mathematically.

    Morneau, though, was still a credible candidate. It's just funny to hear Windbag and Loudmouth on the WFAN drive time talk about how Jeter was utterly robbed, while they talk about his intangibles, clutch, and leadership. Why don't they just reference VORP? For once, his statistics were actually called the league's best by these evil statheads and their computers.

    Instead, they then talk about how he did a poor job leading Alex Rodriguez. Well, if his candidacy is based on leadership, why do they say he should be the MVP? Presumably, someone didn't screw up leading their team to the extent that pundits blame it for the demise of a superstar. Ugh.


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    A Disappointing Weekend

    I wasn't really inclined, especially after Ohio State beat Michigan, to call this a disappointing weekend for me. I expressed some favor for the Buckeyes, and that game had been preceded by Yale beating Harvard, which made me smile.

    But it was downhill for the most part from there.

    Moises Alou might become a Met, which scares me. My favorite son, Firstings, is almost a lock to be sent packing if the Mets acquire Alou. Did you know he pees on his hands? HE PEES ON HIS HANDS, people. My biggest objection, actually, to the Alou acquisition is the possibility of a two-year deal for the aging OF.

    Shawn "The Grass Ain't So" Green and Moises really won't make for that much of an athletic outfield, no matter how fast Carlos Beltran can run in CF. The other negative is that the deal isn't the incentive-laden contract you would want for an injury-prone player going on 41. It looks like $9MM guaranteed annually over one year, with an option for 2008.

    I don't exactly hate the signing (if it occurs), but the problem is that the quality of the investment (a hefty one at that) all hinges on whether or not a forty-year old corner outfielder (who hasn't played 140 games since '04) can remain healthy.

    But Omar is planning on using the power of the platoon, given that having two bums in the corner spots will open up some time for the younger Firstings and athletic Chavez and Ben Johnson.

    On some level, though, one must wonder whether this signing actually occured. We've been hearing a lot about it, from almost every NY-area media outlet, but didn't something like this happen (in fact, with Moises) after the 2004 season? I'll wait until we hear more official statements about the free-agent OF.

    Saturday night made me want to shake Moises' hands. Not only did Cinderella story Rutgers take a loss (against friggin' Cincinnati), the Rangers played what was possibly the sloppiest and least inspired game of hockey ever played.

    In a loss to the Penguins, they took what seemed to be about 150 penalties, and it just generally didn't seem like the team was hustling. The Rangers, this season, just don't look the same as they did last year. There's a bit of a drag in everyone's step, and the biggest problem seems to be inconsistent defense.

    At least we have football on Sunday. On TV here was the Patriots' rout of Green Bay and the Jets-Bears game, which was incredibly close for the first half.

    Then your man Eric Mangini made the brilliant decision to go for an onside kick, and since the Jets were getting destroyed in the game (your score was 0-0), it was obviously necessary to neutralize the Bears' advantage (once again, your score was 0-0, and the Bears had like 2 yards passing, and the game was only tied because of a C. Penn red zone INT and a bonehead overturning of a fumble recovery).

    So, the Jets stunk it up in the second half, and were absolutely unable to wrap up this Bradley fellow. Nevertheless, this page will hand game balls out to the Jets pass rush, the Jets running game, and of course, Tim Dwight and Laveranues Coles. Boo to the pass protection and secondary.

    At least I was able to seek solace in the 4-1 Rangers victory over Tampa Bay at the Garden last night, where Jaromir Jagr netted his 400th and the Rangers really made up for the poor play of prior nights. It also had a baseball-y feel, as Lightning coach John Tortorella was ejected from the game from tossing vulgarities at the refs.

    I will be at Tuesday night's Rangers-Hurricanes showdown, so maybe I'll have something else to say then.


    Also, if you thought this was your grandmother's free agent market... you might be wrong. Former Blue Jay Justin Speier, a sidearming righty setup man, got 4 years, $18MM, when in fact he is just boosting what is already one of the strongest bullpens in the majors over there in LA of A.

    And, uh, yeah. If you live in a cave, you might have even heard that a 31 year old outfielder who strikes out a ton and doesn't walk got eight years and $136MM.

    It was, earlier in this offseason, pretty shocking to hear that Soriano wanted "Beltran money", given that when Beltran was a free agent he was younger and had an incredibly strong postseason to his credit, not to mention the reputation as a hard worker and a great athlete.

    Soriano has none of that (save for the athleticism) and he got one more year than Beltran did at roughly the same yearly rate. Wow. That's all I can say.

    And there are maybe a few more signings to rank on your ridiculous-o-meter.

    SS Alex Gonzalez got 3 years, $14MM from the Reds.

    1B Nomar Garciaparra, who was injured for a large chunk of last year, got 2 years, $18MM guaranteed to re-up with the Dodgers.

    And Mike Stanton, yes Mike Friggin' Stanton, yes the former Met, got a two-year deal. He's like eighty. I think I'm going to go cry and wish I were left-handed.

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    Screw you, Tom Glavine!

    Even though I began to see him more and more as a Met and less and less as a Tomahawk Chopper over the past two years, Ken Rosenthal's recent column (at FoxSports.com) has caused me to change my mind a little about the venerable lefty.

    I'm sick of his crap, his shtick, his whatever he's doing. It's unacceptable. Does it remind you of another lefty in the winter of 2004? He needed a bit too much time to think about whether or not he wanted to be a Met. And now, with Al Leiter throwing cutters in the Yankees broadcast booth, Tom Glavine is repeating the same old thing.

    And maybe, it's a little bit different than Leiter. Leiter harangued Omar Minaya, on some level because he figured that his friendship with the Wilpons would give him precedence in decision-making over the new GM. Maybe it did with the Scott Kazmir trade, but Leiter's act was done the moment Minaya showed up in town.

    Even though Leiter probably told Carlos Delgado not to play for the Mets, over a short span of two years Delgado mashed nearly 40 home runs wearing the orange and blue. Leiter, as I mentioned beforehand, is wearing a suit, taking in Michael Kay's spit rather than the aroma of a ballfield.

    This brings me back to Glavine, who is using this whole "I have to hear what my family says" as a negotiation ploy. It's actually fairly simple. Glavine is hellbent on having the matter unresolved by the time the Mets have to choose whether or not to exercise their 1 year, $14MM ($16 MM if he's an All-Star) option on Glavine. And you know why that is, right?

    If Glavine leverages the Mets into making a panic move, which he is trying to do with his shtick now, he will be able to extract far more money from that option than he will be able to on the open market. If he returns to Atlanta, which may actually be where he wants to pitch, Glavine's not going to get much more than 8 million for this year- if he's lucky.

    Does anyone honestly believe that Glavine isn't trying to trick the Mets into exercising that option? I'm not saying such action is uncommon in the market place, but it is foolish to pass it off as Glavine being an earnest family man. The idea for him is to just load our heads with the idea that he's going to the Braves- so much so that we delude ourselves into keeping him at an unreasonable price.

    This matter will become far more odd once Tuesday's option deadline passes and Glavine becomes a free agent. Ladies and gentlemen, we apparently brought this on ourselves.

    So, who gives a crap? Let Glavine walk. Omar and Co. are in no mood to be extorted, and, accordingly, Glavine cannot behave like he is presently.

    We'll keep ya posted...

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    Transaction Reactions: November 14-15

    So the Mets today acquired "Not That" Ben Johnson and Jon Adkins in exchange for two relievers, both who were the source of many useful vile puns.

    I'm a little surprised by this move, to say the least, given that Minaya went looking for an outfielder who's very much Lastings Milledge-lite. The case for Johnson is made about his athleticism, and it's probably better doing that than waxing poetic about his .236/.324/.441 career line, spanning parts of the last two seasons with the Padres.

    Johnson's track record, even as a hitter, though, is far from mediocre. In 472 AAA PA in 2005, Johnson mashed 25 HR. The case against him is mostly that he really hasn't shown that power in the big leagues, despite having parts of two seasons to show off his ability in San Diego.

    And yes, he has come a long way since his time as a Canadian sprinter testing positive for stanazolol during the 1988 Summer Olympics. Glad I got that one out of the way.

    I'm inclined to think that Johnson, despite his offensive transgressions, was probably the big piece of this deal, as opposed to Adkins, who was marginal this season for San Diego, but is considerably older than Johnson.

    Adkins (who has that athletic look to him, no?) has pitched a bit for the White Sox, including a season in 2004 where he served up a whopping 13 HR in 62 innings of work, which translates to 1.88 HR/9, a number even worse than Steve Trachsel's rate this season.

    Nevertheless, Adkins had something resembling a full season of work this year, and pitched okay. He did allow more than a hit per inning and his walk to strikeout rate (20:30) was Trachselesque. Adkins' WHIP, though, was a somewhat promising 1.38, which shows a stark improvement from his 2004 and 2005.

    Bell and Ring aren't huge losses. Both of them had showed potential, and although the luster had somewhat faded from Heath Bell's star, I would have liked for Ring to be a part of the '07 pen. The breakout season of Pedro Feliciano, though, made Ring #2 on the team's LOOGY depth-chart.

    It's also worth noting that both Bell and Ring are from the Southern California area, with the latter living in La Mesa.

    On the whole, I'm not sure what to think of this trade. It conjures up memories of the Seo/Hammer for Sanchez/Schmoll trade, except that Minaya is dealing players of qualities less known than those of Seo and acquiring those with lower ceilings than Sanchez.

    The biggest question, though, is about what this trade means for the Mets' outfield. Johnson is a right-handed bat who has traditionally played his best while in right field. Accordingly, there's a good chance that Minaya is using this move to try and build an elaborate OF platoon situation for 2007. A Chavez/Milledge platoon in LF and Green/Johnson platoon in RF seems very feasible come opening night in the STL.

    I regrettably do have to confide in you guys, though, that I'm not terribly in favor of this move. Bell and Ring are expendable, sure, but Adkins will not break camp with the big club and Johnson won't do more than be an upgrade over Ricky Ledee/Eli Marrero.


    Other moves:

    -The Mets re-signed RHSP Orlando "Hell Duckie" (maybe my Spanish is off there) Hernandez, for 2 years and $12MM.

    It's difficult to remember whether or not I like this move. On one hand, El Duque was the Mets' most consistent starter down the stretch in 2006, but on another note, he is probably a card carrying member of the CAARP (that's Cuban AARP), which you enter into by your 93rd birthday.

    In all seriousness, he is very old and has not logged many innings since the late 90s with the Yankees. I can't say that I see this move working out well for the Metropolitans. However, $12MM over two years is probably cheaper than getting Daisuke Matsuzaka to throw out the first pitch at a charity softball game.

    -The Mets claimed RHRP Jason Standridge off waivers from the Reds.
    I have really no reason to object to this move, so I won't. Risk-free, but don't expect Standridge to finally live up to his first-round pick status as a Met. If you want to get some history, though, on this former quarterback, check out this article on Adam Rubin's blog.

    -The Red Sox paid $51.1 million to have lunch with Scott Boras in vain hopes of setting up a sushi stand at Fenway Park.

    This move really doesn't make any sense to me, but I will pat myself on the back for saying that the Matsuzaka bid would be won by the Red Sox when the rest of the world said he would be a Ranger or a Yankee. Ignore the fact that I said it would be $12 million. I just don't understand- the Red Sox pack Fenway every night and already have the second-best worldwide brand awareness, behind some team in the Bronx. Stupid.

    -The Cubs signed everyone who has ever played the game of baseball before.

    Maybe it was actually just UTIL Mark DeRosa (for 3 years, $13MM) and C Henry Blanco (for 2 years), but I thought I might see some other action in the market.

    -The Yankees re-signed RHSP Mike Mussina.

    Oh, well.

    -The Devil Rays won the posting bid for 3B Akinori Iwamura.

    Iwamura suddenly requested to be trampled by Godzilla.

    -And somebody who will spend next season in the Yankees' broadcast booth won Manager of the Year.

    Excuse me while I vomit. Wait, so it wasn't Michael Kay?
    I don't understand how Girardi won it, given the fact that he was undoubtedly handed a very talented but untested team and won about half of his games. I could do that. Watch me.


    How about the Rangers last night? Marcy Hossa, you made my day. Henrik's also really coming around, which should be music to the ears of every Ranger fan.


    A little note on the future of this blog:
    -I'm going to work on redesigning the layout over Thanksgiving weekend, but I will be at my keyboard with whatever goes on regarding the Mets, Jets or Rangers.

    Thanks much for your continued patronage.

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    Some News

    Well, that was an interesting weekend.

    -The New York Jetropolitans defeated the New England Expatriates this weekend, pushing the Jetsies to one game behind the Pats in the AFC East, while snapping their streak of 60 games without consecutive losses.

    -According to multiple papers, we will not be Stache-less this year, and possibly in 2008, as Jose Valentin has closed on a one-year deal with a vesting option. This should put a stop to whatever rumors circulate around this position, as Julio Lugo, Adam Kennedy, Alfonso Soriano, and Mark Loretta will inevitably staying away from Flushing.

    -CitiField? Eh. I think the best part of this story is that our sister blog Hot Foot broke the news about the stadium simply by having ties on the construction site. It makes you wonder what the function of the Mass Media is.

    -Mets 3B Coach Manny Acta will be introduced on Tuesday as the new manager of the Washington Nationals. On the whole, it's pretty funny that the Expos franchise dumped him after their 2004 season, and now, after a face-lift, they want him back.

    -The Cubs re-signed the best free agent on the market, giving 5 years and $73MM to their star third baseman Aramis Ramirez. They also picked up two perennial intriguing options by re-upping righties Wade Miller and Kerry Wood to incentive-laden contracts.

    -The Yankees were wheeling and dealing, pulling off a Sheff-to-the-Tigers deal, landing them talented (but elbow injury prone) righty pitching prospect Humberto Sanchez, and then nabbing righty reliever Chris Britton while dumping Jaret Wright's contract and some of the money attached with it on the Orioles.

    -Finally, the baseball winter meetings are set to occur this week, with a lot of intriguing options on the trade market. Lastings Milledge's name will be mentioned in about 400 trade rumors, so pay close attention. I'll be here to break it down for you.

    -And, hopefully, we will find out whether Buster Olney's made-up reporting (covered well recently by Mike's Mets) is at all close to the truth. Maybe, just maybe, Daisuke will be signed before I next write you.

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    The Love Between A Man(gini) and his Mentor

    As you all may or may not know, I was not all too thrilled with the hiring of Eric Mangini (shown here in his true colors//controversial statement alert!) as Jets head coach earlier this year. I would have preferred the Jets hiring that guy with the gray mullet who coordinates the defense over there in Oakland.

    Maybe the Jets should have hired that former Vikings coach, Mike Tice, who proves that brain power is inversely proportional to head size. I don't really know if Mangini was a bad choice (only time will tell), but with a rookie OC, DC, and GM, it would have been pretty ridiculous to think that the Jets were on track for a credible season.

    Supposedly, the same type of second-guessing was going on in Foxboro, Mass, as the legendary father of a convicted pot smoker that is Bill Belichick supposedly told Mangini not to take the Jets job. You folks probably haven't forgotten that Belichick quit the Jets job after a day before jumping ship to New England.

    Now, the animosity is showing between the two, as the veteran coach conducted a speech where he utterly refused to acknowledge Mangini's name, and opted to give credit to rookie players who were virtually unknown rather than to the rookie coach who served in every possible capacity with Belichick.

    And though this story line is probably the easiest to pick up on, you have the other threads, like the Boston (Foxboro) vs. New York City (East Rutherford, NJ) matchup. Of course, there's also the question of whether or not Chad Pennington will be in tip-top shape coming off the IR. Or at least, that's what seems to be the storyline every week.

    Of course, though, the New York Times has to take a different angle, one that preferably keeps their bunch of stodgy intellectuals as far away from the football field as possible. Accordingly, they ran their second or third story in about a year on Laveranues Coles' history of being sexually abused by his stepfather at gunpoint when a preteen.

    This story even went further than the last one did, tying it in with comedian Tyler Perry's similar history, and then his oddly successful films (Madea's Family Reunion, Diary of a Mad Black Woman), and finally his new friendship with Coles. While I think it's very important for Laveranues to be happy, can't we just focus on football, at least the weekend of what might be the defining game for the Jets this season?

    So, now, we've got a rivalry between two Wesleyan-educated coaches and a traumatic history of parental sexual abuse on print.

    Anyone want to talk about the fact that the Jets are ranked 30th in the league (out of 32 teams) in run defense? Or about the fact that they're ranked 31st in the league in total defense? I guess the fact that Justin Miller gets torched on every play doesn't bother you guys in the press.

    I guess nobody feels like discussing Chad Pennington's abysmal play of late. So on we go.

    Prediction: Jets 12, Patriots 24


    I'll probably be back with you sometime this weekend if there's anything on the Rangers to talk about, or maybe if there's stuff on Glavine (who declined his option and is now a free agent) or on Daisuke.

    See you then.

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    A Few Good Friends

    Doc Gooden is getting out of the slammer.

    On the whole, this is probably good for Doc. George Steinbrenner (not to be confused with Jesus), who always forgives dominant African-American '86 Mets who were first-round draft picks, played for the Yankees, and had their names start with D, is reportedly considering offering the former Dr. K an organizational coaching position.

    I'll flash you back to a post I wrote earlier this year about the fall of Doc. Mostly, it's just a tragedy. There are too many of those these days.


    Speaking of tragedies (albeit one on a smaller scale), Art Howe "battled" his way to a position as bench coach for the Texas Rangers.

    I won't claim that Art Howe was actually the reason for the transgressions of the Mets in 2003 and 2004. However, under his guidance, it seemed like the entire team was injured come August, and he really failed to install the authoritarian culture of winning that Willie has in his first two years.

    In all fairness, Howe was given some less-than-stellar talent to deal with during his Mets days, and was dismissed moreso as part of an organizational purge rather than as a referendum on his job of field managing.


    The bids for D-Mat are in (as of 5:00 PM EST) and your Seibu Lions have 4 days to mull over whether or not they will accept the highest bid.

    A bold prediction: the highest bid was $12MM, placed by the Boston Red Sox.

    Ken Davidoff is more or less in line with my thinking, arguing that Scott Boras' projections (my wording, not Davidoff's) of $20-$30MM were pure hype.

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    I think the Mets should pass on Daisuke Matsuzaka.

    It didn't take me too long to formulate this opinion, given the always productive presence of Japanese players in recent Met history, like Satoru Komiyama, Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Masato Yoshii, Kaz Ishii, and Kaz Matsui.

    Fun fact: Matsuzaka and Matsui are both products of your Seibu Lions.

    But the worst part about Matsuzaka is the hype that has surrounded him. He's a young guy, to be sure, but with Japanese League Ball roughly equivalent to AAA baseball in America, Daisuke would be a twenty-six year-old pitcher with solid stats for the minor leagues.

    His stuff is nice, as well, as I saw him and liked him during the WBC and clips from other occasions. He throws low-to-mid 90s, with a good breaking ball and solid splitter/slider. He clearly has high strikeout potential. His motion seems to be a little bit like Pedro Martinez's, complete with a great deal of torque, but also a little bit like other Asian pitchers, with a distinct hitch in the delivery.

    Here's the problem. Daisukemania is sweeping the nation for no good reason. He's a pitcher whose stats translate him into an above-average major league starter. He's in a prime age, although with modern medicine and the wear on his arm, you'd probably prefer a pitcher who's already had TJ surgery to a pitcher who's been known to log innings upon innings each year.

    The biggest problem, though, is the price. Matsuzaka, with a likely $11-15MM per year for 4-6 years deal, is going to cost a ton of money. Add his salary to the posting fee a MLB team will pay Seibu for exclusive negotiating rights, and you could be on the hook for upwards of one hundred million dollars for a pitcher who's never thrown pitches in an MLB game before.

    Think about the money (5 years, $65MM) given to Chan Ho Park by Texas a couple years ago. And that's given that he had a pretty solid track record and was signing with a team who was in dire need of making a splash and adding pitching.

    To add insult to injury, Matsuzaka, like Park, is represented by Scott Boras. Boras will surely make the process as painful as possible, and given the fact that Matsuzaka can earn unrestricted free agent status after next year, he also holds a great deal of leverage against the team with the winning bid.

    Think about the kind of cash the Mets would owe, for a player who most likely will turn out to be just average. Although Matsuzakamania would put more people in the seats than say, Tomo Ohkamania, wouldn't their performances be roughly equal?

    The Mets might have the possibility of grabbing a potential free-agent pitcher (after 2007) off the market in the coming months, like Colorado's Jason Jennings, or Cleveland's Jake Westbrook. The Mets even have another capable starter hiding in the bullpen, in Aaron Heilman.

    Matsuzaka's Japan League ERA this year was 2.13, an impressive showing. But given the fact that he was pitching in a contract year, and the Japan-AAA correlation, Matsuzaka might post something like a 3.50 ERA pitching for the Mets. Given the rag-tag motley crew of starters we had last year, that's not necessarily an awful thing. But is it worth the money we'd be throwing at him?

    At this point in time, I'm not sure the Mets are best suited going head-to-head in a bidding war with the Yankees, although it's likely that we'll see possible entries from the Red Sox and Cubs, among others.

    Buckle your seatbelts, and pray the Mets find a technicality and can force the Seibu superstar to play for free. After all, we probably deserve that $27MM we gave Kaz Matsui back.

    And, uh, with regards to the title of this post, Matsuzaka has said many a time that he does not actually throw the gyroball. So don't get your hopes up.

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    As I'm sure you've already heard

    Well, steroids are a funny thing these days.

    Guys, obvious users, like Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi, still refuse to own up to using the stuff in public.

    Guillermo Mota, your master of serving up two run doubles to tie games in the Mets' playoff run, has been suspended for 50 games under MLB's drug policy.

    And I thought it was all the devastating changeup.

    In other news, Mota will change his entry music from that song "I like to move it move it" to Afroman's "Because I Got High."

    Mota fully owned up to his drug use, releasing a statement saying, "I used extremely poor judgment and deserve to be held accountable, To my teammates and the entire Mets organization, I am sorry. I truly regret what I did and hope that you can forgive me. To baseball fans everywhere, I understand that you are disappointed in me, and I don't blame you," he added. "I feel terrible and I promise this is the first and last time that this will happen."

    I guess that should change all of our minds about whether or not it makes sense to resign him.

    Speaking of re-signing, though, the Mets are reportedly (according to your New York Daily News) close to a 2-year, $25MM extension with Thomas Michael Glavine. Not too much to complain about there.


    In other news:
    -Rangers/Ducks, 10 PM out here on the East Coast. I'm gonna pass on this one, I think. If you're giving up four goals to the Kings, including two to Brent Sopel, you probably shouldn't be an NHL team.

    -Knicks/Grizz season opener tonight. Your Knicks over/under for wins this season: 33.

    -Everyone's talking about Daisuke Matsuzaka. I have a few opinions on this guy, and I'll happily voice them when breaking down the free-agent pitching market.


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    A Morning Roundup

    Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse...
    they do.

    After your New York Jetropolitans dropped a heartbreaker to Cleveland (a winnable game where Chadwick stunk it up), your Broadway Blueshirts were pounded into submission by the LA Kings.

    Although I have already touched on my fears for this Rangers season, I can't really say that the routing of Phoenix late Saturday night put me all that much at ease. Jagr has not been Jagr, and Lundqvist's play has been spotty, clearly not his wonderful work of yesteryear.

    But the Jets are the topic du jour. This team, which started the season as the worst team money could buy, has now become an upstart underdog... until of course they lost to Cleveland. This game will probably keep the Jets from winning a wild card spot, which was a pretty realistic aspiration until now. Don't fret... we'll have a bye week.

    And two pretty easy games after that: New England and Chicago.

    These Jets will regrettably be four and six soon enough, and the failure in the past game is squarely on the shoulders of key cogs Pennington and Mangini. Sure the run defense was terrible, but it has been that way all year. The Jets were incapable of running a three-four, personnel-wise, and the 3-4 isn't always the best way of stopping the run.

    Oh, well.


    At least we have baseball... right?

    Adam Kennedy wants to be a Met.
  • Sure, Kennedy's not a terrible option as a utility man, but I'll pass on him and his lack of power at second. Other names mentioned in connection with the second base vacancy include Rich Aurilia, Jose Valentin, and Julio Lugo.

    I won't put too much stock in rumors this offseason, but suffice it to say that Omar Minaya is hunting for a splash to make.


    Oh... and I think basketball season starts. Can't really work up too much interest in that.

    The Knicks waived Jalen Rose and reached a pact with Larry Brown. Huzzah.

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  • 10.26.2006

    We Have A Little Problem

    The Rangers are in trouble. Not just little trouble, like we saw at spots during last season.

    Through the first nine games of the season, your Broadway Blueshirts are lagging in fourth place out of five in the Atlantic Division, with the only team below them at 1-6 having dismissed head coach and GM. True to form, they are trailing the Islanders, Penguins, Devils, sitting at 13th in the Eastern Conference.

    Remember, these are Larry Brooks' Stanley Cup favorite Rangers. These are the Rangers who were supposed to vie with the Hurricanes and Sabres for Eastern Conference supremacy. These were the Rangers who were supposed to face the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the finals.

    It's scary, man. Really scary. And there are lots of things to blame for it- the defense has not been playing up to its standards of yesteryear. King Henrik is nowadays looking more like unstable Lord Protector Henrik and the defense playing in front of him has looked incapable.

    The problem is... the offense and special teams aren't so hot either. And with good reason, the focus comes back to the shoulder of our superstar: Jaromir F'in Jagr. Although Jaro has notched a nearly league-leading 12 assists, he has failed to register anything in the goals department, netting only two lamplighters that came nearly two weeks ago.

    Shanahan has been nice and Nylander is playing up to his standards from last year. But the Rangers have lacked that pizzazz- the ability to score a little bit, but to score enough when it counts. And that responsibility falls on the shoulders (pardon the pun) of Jaro, who hasn't been making the team (and the power play) go like he was expected to.

    And what hurts most is that Jagr's sustaining pain is compounded in Ranger failure by turnovers and inability to finish on offense. It is also becoming increasingly apparent that the team's defense is bloated. Loaded with contracts of professional bums like Sandis and Darius Kasparaitis, the Rangers are stuck with high-priced players who aren't carrying the load.

    I will give this team some time, but after having finished more than one-tenth of the season, color me unimpressed and wary of the false hope that inundated us last year.

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    Oh, well...

    It's hard to collect my thoughts so quickly after the disappointment last night.

    Accordingly, I will be going on a brief hiatus (presumably a week and change) and then I will come back, sans co-blogger, and develop a better notion of what lies ahead for the Mets and for Crosstown Rivals.

    But now, I can't really think. There's too much to comprehend. But at a time like this, I have to agree with the rest of the community's general consensus.

    The Mets didn't hit in Game 7. That's not how they won the division.

    The setup corps blew at least two leads during this series. That's not how they won the division.

    Tom Glavine lost his second start this series, going only four innings. Steve Trachsel lost his only start. That's not how the Mets got here, and it wasn't going to propel us to the World Series.

    Forget you not that we still have the crisp back fields of Spring Training to look forward to, and the Hot Stove and Winter Meetings before that. We can go back to discussing every little exploit of Firstings Milledge, or talking about why exactly Julio Franco was signed to a two-year contract.

    We will discuss next year's lineup, bench, rotation and bullpen alignment. And with Minaya aggressively helming the Mets, nothing is set in stone.

    Many Mets aren't locks for next year's roster: guys like Glavine (who was incredibly non-committal last night about returning next year), Duque, and Bradford all have expiring contracts. And ahead of us we have the inevitable courtship that is the Winter Meetings, where Jose Valentin's looming contract demands will cause the Mets to aggressively pursue Alfonso Soriano. In my nightmares.

    We'll have Mets Weekly, with Julie Donaldson and Siafa Lewis. Even if we do secretly miss Fran Healy's blurry-imaged Hot Stove Report. There will be baseball video games, where we can experiment with the Mets regardless of whether or not there's actually grass anywhere in the Northeast.

    And I'll still be here, a little bit heavier in the heart, but always following my teams vigorously. We'll have the Jets and Rangers, not to mention maybe little notes about some of our other tri-state area teams. But first and foremost I am a baseball blogger, and we'll still have every little nugget about who's getting traded where.

    So now is not the time to fret, because this blog is excited about its future. And the future of the New York Metropolitans.

    See you in a bit.

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    aw, fuck.

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    Game 7

    It's time.

    I'm not going to use hyperbolical language, because that's not really what this game is about.

    Tonight is about tonight. But last night andtonight in some way encompasses what the Mets didn't face in 2006: an imminent threat of their demise.

    Tonight, Oliver Perez, a headcase-y disappointing veteran of two other organizations, takes the hill. And raise your hand if you thought going into this season that Oliver Perez and John Maine would be counted on for the two most important starts of the season to date.

    Ollie, this is your time. Mets, this is your time.

    The Mets will be facing the Supp Nazi tonight, a man universally known as a bum. He has pitched well against the Mets, with a 2.27 ERA against them in his career, his impressive game 3 start notwithstanding.

    But I don't care about Jeff Suppan and you shouldn't either.

    Tonight is about seizing the moment. Keeping the faith. Winning one for the Gipper. Winning one for every Met who did so much and never struck paydirt.

    It's your time, Reyes, Beltran, Wright, and Delgado. This is your chance to vault the Mets into a World Series for the first time since 2000, where they will face a team who they can beat.

    Pack your bags, gentlemen. The plane for Detroit leaves tonight, fueled by bargain basement Mums.

    Ya gotta believe.

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    Ya Gotta Believe

    Today's omen from a handful of M&M's I took from a friend. This was selected at random. No joke.

    Let's go Mets.

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    Oh No!

    Despite the fact that the Mets offered the human rain delay as their starting pitcher tonight, despite the lack of momentum, I figured that good things were in our futures.

    After all, the Cardinals were starting Jeff Suppan tonight. He had been just as bad as Trachsel this year.

    And even when Trachsel came out looking stale and devoid of control against a pretty tough team, I didn't get worried.

    But then it became harder not to worry. Our opponents were mashing the veteran righty, while the Supp Nazi was making like Pedro in his prime. (just a quick question: who does Mr. Martinez pitch for these days anyway?)

    Time passed during the game. At-bats became innings and soon enough it was practically over.

    And now I'm worried about Sunday... with good reason.

    Oliver "Nutjob" Pay-Rezz is on the hill, with this game either tying the series or allowing St. Louis to clinch on Monday at home.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, pray for Perez today.



    Don't get me started about the Jets or Rangers either.

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    a little rain never hurt anybody

    Let's get this Weaver guy.

    Do it for Cory.

    your first pitch is 8:19 PM.

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    Two for the Price of One

    I was prepared to see the Yankees knocked out today. No, really, I was. I knew what would come in the morning: tales of Joe Torre on the hot seat and A-Rod on the first plane out of town.

    And sure, I knew they'd somehow find a way to praise Jeter unrelentlessly (and, in all fairness, he did have a good series at the plate).

    Yes, also, if you read my post yesterday, you'd notice that I also nailed Trachsel's performance about right and I had the Mets winning the game.

    But I'll be damned if Greg Maddux didn't come up a bigger goat last night than A-Rod has. Nobody's going to talk about it, but Mad Dog, the man universally known as still a great pitcher by baseball anaysts too foolish to turn on a TV set, came up microscopic last night.

    In the first three innings, Maddux gave up four runs. He was pinch-hit for during the fourth. Now, in that situation, "the book" necessitated pinch-hitting for Maddux. But it's funny how this man, given two hundred times the credit of Steve Trachsel, pitched a clearly inferior game.

    Trachsel was okay. It was upsetting to see him lose it on the hill after a few innings of solid work, and I'm not sure if I agree with Willie's decision to go with Darren Oliver to replace Trax. If you didn't notice, Oliver's ERA over August and September was an even 7.00.

    It might have made more sense to go to Royce Ring or Bert Hernandez in that situation, given hindsight showing that Oliver was only one lucky catch away from getting hammered. And three runs in 1.1 innings of work ain't exactly Bob Gibsonesque.

    The Mets bullpen got a little spooky early on, as Chad Bradford let two men reach base without recording an out and Pedro Feliciano walked in a run.

    But after that, they settled down. Mota, Heilman, and Wagner did their job and combined for four scoreless relief innings, with the ball finally winding up in Shawn Green's glove after what seemed like an endless at-bat from Ramon Martinez.

    The offense was good; Cliff might be hurt, so what?

    I see some damn brooms. And these brooms are magic. The Mets can ride to the top.

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    The Great Leap Forward

    The Mets have a chance to take the Great Leap Forward today, after being aided on Thursday night not by Mao-Tse Tung, but rather by Hong-Chih Kuo.

    After what seemed like every "expert" picking the Mets to go down without a fight, the Mets are facing their crusty old nemesis Greg Maddux at 7:30 tonight with a chance to clinch a spot in the NLCS against the Padres or Cardinals.

    At this point, it seems like the Mets won't have too many worries. The NLCS won't be starting for a little while, and that means no Oliver Perez starting an important game.

    Of course, keeping Oliver off the hill means winning tonight with our other weak link, Steve Trachsel, throwing pitches in the dirt.

    Trachsel has been an enigma this year, generating a ton of run support for the other team's starter while simultaneously receiving more from his own hitters. Trachsel is ranked by Baseball Prospectus as having the National League's luckiest win-loss record, which at this point makes a ton of sense.

    The data backing Steve up are not promising. His BB:K ratio is 78:79. He served up 23 gopherballs on the year, while giving up 185 hits in 164 innings.

    However, all hope is not lost. Trachsel has had a few good outings this year, including his seven innings of one-run ball against St. Louis as well as his 6.1 innings of shutout pitching against Florida in the clincher.

    And I'm not sure I am living up to my responsibility as a pseudo-journalist by suggesting that Steve Trachsel can pitch well tonight. Let me just suggest that Trachsel has never made a postseason appearance before. Whether that's good or bad in determining how he'll throw is up to him.

    Trax will be facing a lineup devoid of firepower, though. The Dodgers have lost Nomar Garciaparra for the time being, meaning we will likely see James Loney at first base tonight, given the righty on the mound.

    The 22 year-old Loney had a field day at Coors Field about a week ago, going 4-5 with 2 HR and 9 RBI. At Dodger Stadium, however, the rookie first baseman is hitting only .220.

    My prediction: a gutty five innings of two-to-three run ball from Trax, while the Mets manage just a little bit more against the equally gutty Maddux and the marginal set-up men between him and Takashi Saito.

    Champagne gets in Vin Scully's eyes tonight.


    I'm sure all of you heard the Joe Beimel story, but if you haven't, Beimel cut his hand in a bar after lying to management and saying he cut it in his hotel room.

    Did this story remind no one of Shane Spencer cutting his foot in a bar while drunk with Jason Phillips in 2004? Because the story at that point was just a downright silly note on a season getting siller, given Spencer saying something along the lines of "Well, I couldn't really feel it in my shoe, but then I noticed I had a three-inch gash."



    The Rangers visit the Flyers today in what will be the home opener for a Philly team that was deeply embarrassed by Marc-Andre Fleury (right; who is my darkhorse pick for the Vezina Trophy this year) in a 4-0 loss. Fleury stopped 40 shots. 40!

    I don't know where I read it earlier this year, but one of the writers noted that the Penguins had hired a French-speaking goalie coach to aid Fleury's development by removing the language barrier.

    So the Flyers will be coming out angry today at the Wachovia Center.

    The Rangers won 5-2 vs. Washington on Thursday, with new captain Jaromir Jagr netting a goal thirty seconds in followed by Brendan Shanahan scoring two to reach six hundred for his career.

    Blair Betts and Martin Straka also scored, while Henrik Lundqvist stopped 25 of 27 shots. The unsung hero of this game was the Rangers penalty kill, which succeeded in shutting out Washington over 14:23 of kill time, despite missing last year's killers Jed Ortmeyer (leg injury) and Dominic Moore (trade).

    My pick: Rangers take this one, with another strong showing from Lundqvist in net and hopefully better discipline from this team regarding stupid penalties.

    Just a few other notes:
    -Darius Kasparaitis, still recovering from two offseason surgeries, should not play tonight, but he will be ready in the coming week.
    -Watch this as a developing storyline: veteran backstop Kevin Weekes will no longer be splitting time with Henrik Lundqvist. King Henrik has been cemented as the starter, with recent first-round pick Al Montoya moving up the organizational ranks in the coming days. Expect Weekes to be in some other city well before the trading deadline.


    The Jets will face the Jaguars tomorrow, with nothing really to be gleaned from the injury report. The Jets have listed thirteen players as probable, with starters Chad Pennington, Kevan Barlow, Justin Miller, Kerry Rhodes, Kimo Von Oelhoffen, and Anthony Clement on that list.

    Listed as questionable are wide receivers Laveranues Coles and Tim "I'm so White" Dwight. Also there are cornerback David Barrett and offensive linemen Pete Kendall and Trey Teague.

    Cedric Houston, the only bright spot in this year's running game, is doubtful with the knee injury he sustained last week.

    For the Jaguars, Marcus Stroud and Marcellus Wiley are missing from the defensive line, both out, with Matt Jones also out for the week.

    However, secondary terrors Rashean Mathis and Donovin Darius are healthy and ready to go.

    A few storylines for this game:
  • Last year, Pennington tore his rotator cuff on a huge hit by 6'6" Jaguars defensive end Bobby McCray. McCray only has five tackles on the year, but two of them are sacks. Remember that game last year? Of course you do. Fiedler got hurt too. In that game, Pennington was 9-19 with 76 yards and two INTs. One of them came from Rashean Mathis.

  • The two quarterbacks in this game, Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich, are both recent Marshall products. That's not all, though. CBS, which co-owns the CW network with Warner Brothers, is televising this game. And Warner Bros is releasing a movie about an entire Marshall football team that was killed in a plane crash. So expect to see a lot of promotion for this film, to be released in December, starring Matthew McConaughey.

    My pick: Jaguars win by a field goal. Hopefully, the Jets O-Line will be able to get the running game going and prevent huge hits on C-Penn. It's a big hopefully though.

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  • 10.04.2006

    Hell Yes

    To quote the great Scientologist poet Beck,


    Nice work, Maine.

    Delgado/D-Wright. You guys are the future.

    Wagner, Guillermo, JoVal... step yo game up.

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    Duque In Agony, Maine to Open, Perez to Join Rotation

    Well, God would never make it easy on Mets fans, would he?

    The Mets rotation seems to look like this:

    Game 1: John Maine
    Game 2: Tom Glavine
    Game 3: Steve Trachsel
    Game 4: Oliver The Nutcase

    And Royce Ring made the postseason roster. Here's probably the most optimistic way to put it: wouldn't winning be better if we had some sort of exciting storyline involving injuries to like, every man who has started a game for the Mets this season?

    Or maybe the man upstairs has something against me. The Rangers, appearing in the playoffs for the first time since forever earlier this year, lost 6-1 to the Devils while their superstar, Jaromir Jagr, was hurt. The Rangers weren't the same afterwards.

    Hockey season starts tonight. Rangers play tomorrow.

    I would be remiss not to note that Will Carroll, the outstanding medical guru over at Baseball Prospecuts, has confirmed my suspicions that Carlos Beltran has a much more serious leg injury than he has been letting on. His thigh and quad are both strained and nagging the centerfielder. Since returning from his post-Houston respite, Beltran has hardly been himself.

    Maybe things can't get any worse.

    Nevertheless, the game is at 4 p.m. on ESPN today. I'm sure the Worldwide Leader will give us Steve Phillips (who just before this picture was taken had sexually harassed 100 women) and Orel Hershiser with some generic announcer guy to make the Mets-Dodgers rivalry more apparent.

    But then again, Steve Phillips once acquired Orel Hershiser, making them both Mets employees at the time.

    However, in 1988, Mets fans hated Hershiser and his pitching against the Mets while with LA, and they were getting ready to start hating Steve Phillips.

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    Letting It Sink In

    The Mets are in the playoffs. If you haven't believed it yet or have been skeptical all year, thinking that the entire team would want to make a run for Dominican food at 3 AM and they'd somehow miss the dance entirely, you were wrong.

    It's time now. We've all been through this together. We saw the great things, like frigid Opening Day and Paul lo Duca faking the tag. We saw Cliff Floyd smash a game-tier against Chris Reitsma, while David Wright won it later. We saw David Wright beating Mariano Rivera, with Wagner slamming the door in the freezing night on Sunday. We saw Pedro Martinez win his 200th game. We saw Carlos Delgado hit his 400th home run. We all watched the wicked westward road trip, where the Mets couldn't do anything but score runs. And we watched scoreless innings streaks from Duaner Sanchez and John Maine. We saw Lastings Milledge and his game-ending sprint from third, and we saw him high-five everyone. We saw Jose Reyes jack three balls one night and then hit for the cycle another. Remember that night where they had the eleven-run inning? Two grand slams? And then another one the next day? And we saw that Carlos Beltran walk-off against Jason Isringhausen. We also had the clincher.

    And sure, we've seen our bad things, as well. We suffered through Jose Lima and Geremi (that's how he spells it now) Gonzalez, not to mention Alay Soler. We watched Cliff Floyd roll his ankle, and we saw Pedro get hurt about twenty times, the worst of which was a savage beating in Boston, where we saw the problems with Firstings. And we've seen other badness too, like Billy Wagner being defeated at the hands of the Yankees; Aaron Heilman's slippery fingers against the Phillies or Trevor Hoffman blowing the All-Star Game.

    But never once, did we, as Mets fans, question our faith. This was our year. We suffered through Wilson Delgado and Karim Garcia. We had to deal with Bobby Valentine's impression of a stoned hitter, Fred Wilpon talking about "Skill Sets" while lowballing Vlad Guerrero and Alex Rodriguez and Art Howe's hyper-conservative style of managing where everyone except Kaz Matsui got hurt.

    It's been a long time since 2000, and an even longer time since 1988. The Mets still have old friends from October, with Al Leiter in the Yankee booth and Kenny Rogers taking the hill for Detroit. And let's not forget who will be receiving for the Mets' likely NLCS opponent.

    In a lot of ways, this is a new and improved October, complete with weaker NL competition and a Mets team that no longer has anything to prove against their Atlantan brethren. This is their time. Maybe that was the point of the slogan: The Team, The Time, The Mets. Even though I didn't like that stupid song, which surely you remember, the slogan is now ringing true.

    This is not "The Worst Team Money Could Buy." Bobby Bonilla and Mo Vaughn might still be on our payroll, but there's no sign of those evildoers anymore. And who knows? With Joe Girardi, Frank Robinson, Felipe Alou and Dusty Baker already fired, maybe Art Howe or Bobby V. could come up for a managerial position. Hell, maybe Jeff Torborg and Dallas Green aren't too busy these days.

    The Mets, as well, are no longer living in the Yankees' shadow. Maybe this is what's of most importance. Some have noted that New York was always a National League town; a Mets town. The Mets outdrew the Yankees in their early days, and they did so right up until the Yankees' recent run of dominance in the 1990s. The Mets will not outdraw the Yankees this year, and the new stadium in Flushing will be smaller than Shea, but it is unquestionably a change from the old times.

    Who wouldn't want to go see a Mets game right now? You've got Reyes, Delgado, Beltran and Wright for excitement value, and you've got Floyd, Green, Lo Duca and Valentin for support. And hell, you've got Glavine on the hill. He's pretty exciting.

    I would like nothing less than to sound like a long-winded ancient baseball guy, who idolizes Rogers Hornsby or whatever, but there's nothing better than October.

    Except when the Mets are part of it.


    I won my fantasy baseball league. Anyone proud of me? Didn't think so.


    Morning Paper Roundup:

    Mike Vaccaro says the Mets should bench Cliff in favor of Endy Chavez.

    Kevin Kernan breaks down the NLDS, while Mark Hale does a position-by-position breakdown.

    Lee Jenkins reminds us of the great postseason had by Carlos Beltran in 2004 when he was with Houston.

    Adam Rubin says that Pedro's absence isn't huge, while Bill Madden goes on to pick the Dodgers in five.


    Are you pumped for the playoffs yet? If you need any extra motivation to beat LA, read this game recap from 1988.

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