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so a guy walks into a bar. that's what most of my entries should be starting with. including non-roster love part 3, which I totally forgot to post. Expect more non-roster love later this weekend. but in actuality, Bobby Estalella probably did walk into a bar and get drunk last night. So he was unavilable for comment, but someone did do something of worth yesterday. we call him THE X-MAN. he goes by Xavier Nady to all outside observers and Mets fans lambasted GM Omar Minaya for not acquiring Akinori Otsuka or Scott Linebrink after trading Mike "Plates in M'Face" Cameron. If you're looking for a good article on the former Mets Mike and Mike in San Diego, read Lisa Olson's piece in today's Daily News. But Nady proved his March mettle in da PSL yesterday, going fourforfour yesterday with a grand salami and six rbi. the man hit the shit out of the ball in college. the man hits the crap out of the ball in Spring Training. And for a while, the man led the MLB in homers last year, with, like, 4. So ponder for a second, young Mets fans, what will become of this team if the X-Man can hit? This could be a lethal offense and possibly the best outfield in the big leagues. But for now that's too big an if for me. Don't worry about Trax's show yesterday. He'll be okay. Now it's time to face off tonight, in another storied Mets spring training battle. Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Juan Padilla, Victor Zambrano, Endy Chavez, Pedro Feliciano, Jose Valentin, Duaner Sanchez, Jeremi Gonzalez and Jorge Julio have left this team in the dust. Henry Owens, the reins are yours.

And, one little note of a long-term scare brewing in Flushing, Omar Minaya renewed David Wright's contract and the first signs of animosity between this team and this fine kid's agent are starting to show. Tread softly, boys. Watch what Omar does and says... losing this kid, while certainly far away, is not something anyone wants to see.



I've got it. In order to keep up with the rapidly growing popularity of non-roster love, I have decided to start a section based on my favorite 10 Yankees of the since 1918. Expect new entries every 3 days to a week. Now, granted, everyone out there is not gonna agree with me, probably for good reason because I've been known to be mostly wrong. Bear with me here people, I'm doing my best. So later today,


Joe Dimaggio NYY 1936-1951

Bench-Clearing Brawl

And now to the benches... the most revered aspect of both New York teams...

Back-up Catcher: Ramon Castro vs. Kelly Stinnett
Stinnett doesn't make Yankee fans miss John Flaherty's .200ish average, but you've gotta go with Fidel on this one. The dude has the largest head in baseball. And he's an accused rapist. Not to mention his insane proficiency at being clutch last year, even when the PizzaMan couldn't deliver. Also, Stinnett is older and fatter.

Utility Infielder: Chris Woodward vs. Miguel Cairo
Well, since Yankee fans are getting the Mets' sloppy seconds after the Mets stole Cairo's useless versatility from them last year, the easy answer is Woody. He can play every infield position and he can play them with ridiculous capabilities. He has like forty gloves too. All Cairo can do is swing at the wrong pitches, bunt when it's a horrible idea to do so, swing and miss and he can also display his lack of range at second base. Woody hit .283 last year and .365 as a pinch-hitter compared to Cairo's less than that.

Back-up Outfielder Who Can Hit: Victor Diaz vs. Melky Cabrera?!?!
VD, no doubt. He'll infect you with his Manny-like behavior in the field and on the basepaths, and right when Willie's about to bench him, he'll hit the ball about 700 feet into left field. And then a ball will hit off his head in the next inning. Regardless, Diaz is mad skilled. Melky, we'll see.

Back-up Outfielder Who Can't Hit: Endy Chavez vs. Bubba Crosby
Push, foo. Endy Chavez is a bum, but so is Bubba. Bubba's clutch, but Endy's a Met-killer. Endy's got more speed than Bubba, so think about that. Bubba seems to be better than Endy though, so it's a push.

Really Old Guy: Julio Franco vs. Bernie Williams
Julio, but in order to agree with me, you have to read this article in today's NYT (registration required, i think). The man eats 5,000 calories a day and like 60 meals. Is there anyone who's so utterly cool? Bernie, well, he can't play the outfield anymore (don't forget when the Mets had 3 sac flies in an inning against the Yankees last year) and he's really old. But not old enough to be Julio-cool.

Prospect Who's Been Around Forever: Jeff Keppinger vs. Andy Phillips
They're both like 28 year old utility infielders who may be able to hit, but they've never been able to get their chance. Keppinger always seems to break bones in strange ways. Too bad, he's cool though. Push.

Jose Valentin: Jose Valentin vs. ...
I've gotta give the Yankees the edge on this one, because Jose Valentin hit .170 last year, has a foolish mustache, is really old, can't field and is a massive waste of the Earth's dwindling water supply.

Non-Roster Love (Part 2)

Today's Profile on a Met who won't make the team
Today: Dae-Sung Koo

Counting down to spring training, the Mets have plenty of bad non-roster invitees who will not make this team. There have been these players on every team every year, some who do it just to generate a buzz at spring training, like Garth Brooks. Others do it because they can't realize that their careers are over, like Gerald Williams or Alan Benes.

Dae-Sung Koo became a New York Mets folk hero last year as a 36 year old rookie, but maybe that was the only thing he accomplished. On the mound he was Willie's funky favorite, throwing at an arm angle accompanied with insanely copious funk. Don't forget, this man wanted to be a Yankee so bad, he had his agent announce that he had inked a deal with the Bronx Bombers before it turned out that it was actually the Mets who had signed him. Koo threw nothing special, a garden variety fastball and slider, but he was utterly untalented as a lefty specialist, as left handed hitters had a whopping .379 OBP against him, making each lefty hitter that faced Koo almost as proficient as getting on base as David Wright. Ha. And I'm sure no one has been able to forget that 3-0 fastball he grooved down the middle to Carlos Delgado in Florida. That mere pitch may have ruined my summer right there. If that wasn't enough, the man was born in a town named Daejeon if that doesn't give you any reminders of last year's Mets bullpen. To add insult to injury, Koo also refused to warm up during an August game that I was unfortunate enough to attend in which Kris Benson was shelled during the first inning (most likely after he was out celebrating the Mets' peculiar 9-8 win over the Nationals the night before), making the Mets tax Juan Padilla and Aaron Heilman's arms further. To Koo's credit however, the man did hit that double off of Randy Johnson that could have been a triple or an inside the park home run. And he scored on Jose Reyes' sac bunt. From second. But he dislocated that shoulder on the slide and went on the DL for a month. Nice work, asshole.
Koo is a man quite confident that he will not make the team, as he has already bailed on Spring Training to go to Korea to train for the WBC, so Carlos Delgado can light him up there too. Dae-Sung Koo somehow must have tricked the Mets into thinking he was still under contract for this year just so he wouldn't be deported. What a bum.

Koo showing his noted athleticism by jumping over... traffic cones

Tomorrow--experience the wonder of insignificance and unlikeliness to make the team that is Bobby Estalella. See you then.



OK. Well, I'm gonna go right ahead and say it. What George Steinbrenner said about the WBC, although morally unsound, is, from a realistic standpoint, completely justified. Sure, it's easy to attack, I mean, how many opportunities do you get to go out and represent your country against the world? Some would say it's like turning down the Olympics. But it all honesty, the WBC is not more important than the MLB.
To put it in perspective Yankees fans, how would you feel if Jeter, oh, I don't know, dislocated his shoulder while sliding into 3rd or something crazy like that. That would be a serious blow to our chances at a ring. In the end, is it really worth it to pursue a fledging idea at the risk of injuring the top players in the league? But the Jeter example is not even the best available due to the fact that money is not a problem. =) What about you Mets fans, what if Pedro overthrows trying to win over the hearts of D.R.? What if he gets hit with a comebacker, concussion, etc? Obviously you guys don't have a chance in hell at a title,)= but still you'd be paying the guy 50 million plus to sit on his ass. I love the idea, I will be watching the games, but ultimately, someone of importance is going to get hurt and the injury will overshadow the games themselves.
Don't get me wrong, I don't want this to become an olympic basketball situation where teams (or just the u.s.) are sending a bunch of selfish, unproven players to represent our country. In fact, I might hold a gold medal in higher merit than a ring. After all, we are playing the entire world. However, the price of gold could end up being too much, and that's where this good idea is going to run into opposition.
So don't blast Steinbrenner for his Scroogelike comments and 'unpatriotic' outlook on the WBC. He's honest, people have always hated him for that, and that's all he's doing now. Telling the truth. The comments on Selig were totally out of line, but hey, can you blame a guy for being overpassionate about his sport?

Beat Again

Okay, Jack's got a gimmick. He's traficking his love of insignificant players into articles. I guess that means I have to have a gimmick too. Don't worry people, I'm racking my brains. You watch, mine'll be ten times more entertaining. I just have to think of it first. So this afternoon. Be there. Or be missing my gimmick.
In the meantime, to keep you people on the ball:
"You down wit' the boost?"
I'll give mad props and maybe a cookie to whoever can tell me BESIDES JACK what movie that quote is from.

Non-Roster Love (Part 1)

Today's Profile on a Met who won't make the team
Today: Jeremi Gonzalez

Counting down to spring training, the Mets have plenty of bad non-roster invitees who will not make this team. There have been these players on every team every year, some who do it just to generate a buzz at spring training, like Garth Brooks. Others do it because they can't realize that their careers are over, like Gerald Williams or Alan Benes.

Jeremi Gonzalez is not a good pitcher. The man is practically a joke. He began his career as a 22-year old rookie in 1997 with the Cubs, where he made a good first impression, going 11-9 with a 4.25 ERA. Cubs fans thought that this guy could only get better, when, in actuality, he could only get worse. The next year he was up and down with a 7-7 performance coupled with an ERA of 5.32. Gonzalez then shocked (and aided) the world by vanishing until 2003, when he shockingly resurfaced with the Devil Rays, a franchise known for their historically great pitching. Gonzalez threw well though, putting up a 6-11 record with an ERA of 3.91, giving rise to a thought of resurgence. Then again, Jeremi Gonzalez is Jeremi Gonzalez. He went 0-5 with a 6.97 ERA in 2004 before being demoted to the minor leagues. But a home was found for him in the ridiculously thin Boston staff, where Gonzalez flourished by his standards, going 2-1 with a 6.11 ERA in 28 games (3 starts). The Mets now have laid claim to this highly sought righty, for they apparently need someone to be this year's Manny Aybar, Mike Matthews or James Baldwin. J-Gon will certainly be sure to make the Norfolk Tides proud- as their third starter.

Gonzalez and Jose Lima sharing a moment on photo day

Tomorrow: Dae-Sung Koo, a man even more ridiculously unlikely to make the team than Gonzo


Bad Luck

One of the things you notice when looking at the history of the franchise that is the New York Metropolitans is that their prospecting and drafting history is littered with disappointments. There was the colossal disappointment of Steve Chilcott, followed by the eventual disappointments that were Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. There was the not-so-ready-for-game-time Gregg Jefferies. Then there was Generation K, with Paul Wilson and Bill Pulsipher having insurmountable injury issues and Isringhausen being dealt for the absolutely dreadful Billy Taylor. And then in recent history, players like the utterly unsuccessful Neal Musser, Grant Roberts, Jason Tyner, Alex Escobar, and, up until last year, Aaron Heilman. The talent of 2004's third overall pick, Philip Humber, has also been called into question, as he struggled in A-Ball before going down with a season-ending injury. Let it be noted that he was drafted by Jim Duquette, who traded for Kris Benson twice in a span of a year and a half.
With this bad luck came the occasional gem, like Tom Seaver, Gooden and Straw during their glory days and now, Jose Reyes and David Wright. According to Baseball America, the Mets also had a top draft pick named Scott Kazmir, who, based on my exhaustive search, is most likely out of baseball.
And now, after Omar Minaya's concerted effort to purge the farm of talented prospects while building on youth (if you can explain that one, drop me an email), the Mets are left with two studs. Lastings "Firstings" Milledge and Mike Pelfrey. To all outside observers, Firstings is a bona fide star. Despite allegations of sexual misconduct, which, according to MLB rules and some laws, does not make a player or General Manager (stevie and isiah, can you hear me?) any cooler, the outfielder has proved to be everything hoped of him. He posted a line of .337/.392/.487 in AA at age 20. The kid can play. But, with obvious depth issues in this system, Firstings would have to be part of any trade to land any of the pieces Omar Minaya salivates over, including Manny Ramirez and Barry Zito.
So, now, it's up to big Mike "Bats in the" Pelfrey to save this franchise. He's got dominant stuff, pristine college numbers and a Major League contract and signing bonus. That means he must be really good, doesn't it? I mean, why would you give the kid all that money if he had any sort of problem? Of course we know that's not how Mets management thinks. Or have you forgotten that Bobby Bonilla's getting paychecks until 2030something?
Hopefully Mike Pelfrey can reverse this curse and be exactly what these Mets need-- maybe it will be sooner than you think.

Close Up

Bench Brawl (WOW that's clever, I'll try to get Jack to change his pitching comparison to Pitcher's Duel) coming up soon, but first, we're gonna get close and personal with a Yankee player/prospect. This'll be a weekly thing where I outline a Yankee player, what I see happening, etc. Next week Jack'll do the same for a Mets player, and then the process will repeat itself. There's about thirty weeks until the season ends, so you can't expect big names or even starters every week. In fact, I'm gonna go ahead and start with a prospect. Well, the prospect.

Philip Hughes: P NYY A Charleston
Okay. First, keep in mind that the guy is 19 years old. He's only 19. Then, listen to this statline last year with Charleston.

7-1 in 12 games, 1.97 ERA, 4.5-1 K-BB ratio, giving up only 6 H, 0.13 HR, 2.10 BB per 9 while striking out 9.44 per 9.

We've got a winner folks. He's good. For all those who ask redundant questions, you're probably asking something along the lines of "Are you telling me that this guy, at the age of 19, in single A, went 7 and 1 with a sub 2 ERA while striking out more than one batter an inning?" Yes. He's really good, people. And he's sooooo young. People are calling him a Mark Prior or Josh Beckett kind of figure. I mean granted, Mark Prior is a joke, (Brad Hawpe, anyone?) but there's no questioning how utterly dominant he was when he wasn't being the Marcus Camby of baseball. Josh Beckett... well enough said, the bastard. To go even further with young Philip, compare him to often revered Mets prospect Mike Pelfrey. You look at Mike's last year at Wichita and the numbers are eerily similar.

12-3 in 19 games, 1.93 ERA, a 4.75 to 1 K to BB ratio, giving up 6 H, 0.26 HR, and 1.93 BB per 9 while striking out 9.21 per 9.

Compare the two again. Indistinguishable. It seems the only differences are that what Pelfrey's doing as a 22 year old senior in college, Hughes is doing as a 19 year old in single A. So the answer on the table stands. Can you tell me why Pelfrey's held in higher regard?

Our rotation is old
. OLD. And that's what seems to be nagging everyone as we look 3, 4, 5 years down the road. Sure, The Big Unit and the Moose seem to be on their way out (they're still kickin though), but what we also have is some hidden youth. Wang's not even 25. Chacon, who people seem to think is the real thing, is 29. Pavano is 29, and we've seen what he can do when in the right spot at the right time. And then to top it all off we've got this 19 year old Hughes who's dominating in A ball. We're not in any trouble. (And hell, even if it doesn't work out, we can always get Daddy Warbucks to bail us out. ((oooo it's fun to be spoiled!))

Apparently, when A-Rod stepped into the box against Hughes the other day, he had no idea who Hughes was. That is, until he came at A-Rod with a 95 MPH fastball. Joe Torre says Hughes' curveball is really good. Giambi drew comparisons to Clemens after he and Hughes f
aced off.
"He has the best arm in camp, no doubt about it. Better than all these guys," said Posada, pointing to a row of lockers which included Randy Johnson and Mariano Rivera. "I don't care how old he is. He's unbelievable. It's effortless the way the ball comes out of his hand at 95-96. He's that impressive. He's the best prospect we've got. It's fun to see."
I like the way that sounds.


Battle of the Pitchers (Otherwise known as Pitcher's Duel)

Earlier today, Alex contrasted the batting orders of the two Big Apple teams.

Now it is time to compare the Yankees pitching staff (yes, they apparently do have one.) and the Mets'.


Ace: Pedro Martinez vs. Randy Johnson
Edge to Pedro on this one. He's hopefully still got a few good years in him while Randy had one of his worst years in a while, littered with back and knee ailments. And Kris Benson and Dae-Sung Koo hit long doubles off of him last year-- in the same game.

#2 Starter: Tom Glavine vs. Mike Mussina
Push. I like Glavine to have his best year in New York after last year's strong second half, but Mussina's several years younger than Glavine and has better stuff.

#3 Starter: Steve Trachsel vs. Shawn Chacon
Push. Trachsel's got better career stats but historically he's an average pitcher. When Chacon was rescued from Colorado last year, he dominated with the Yankees. If he can repeat his success, he will outperform Trachsel, who is coming off of a herniated disc last year.

#4 Starter: Victor Zambrano vs. Chien-Ming Wang
Edge to Zambrano. He's got the experience (at sucking) that Wang will need this year to acquire. But really- Zambrano's supposed to be even better this year than he was supposed to be last year and the year before. Wang's got a shoulder problem.

#5 Starter: Aaron Heilman vs. Carl Pavano
Pavano. When healthy, as he proved with the Fish in 2004, he can be dominant. Heilman's numbers as a starter: 5-13 in 25 starts with an ERA of 5.93. Whether or not he wreaks havoc with his arm angle, those numbers are a joke. Pavano's back may hurt, but Heilman's change-up will get old quickly.


Long Man: Yusaku Iriki (入来 祐作)/John Maine/Jose Lima/Alay Soler/Jeremi Gonzalez vs. Jaret Wright
Wright, but that is quite the beast the Mets are developing over there.

LOOGY: Mike Venafro/Matt Perisho/Darren Oliver/Pedro Feliciano/Royce Ring/Dae-Sung Koo vs. Mike Myers
Do I really need to evaluate this one?

Set-up Men:
Duaner Sanchez/Chad Bradford/Jorge Julio/Bartolome Fortunato/Juan Padilla/Heath Bell/Steve Schmoll
Kyle Farnsworth/Tanyon Sturtze/Octavio Dotel/Ron Villone/Aaron Small
Mets. Sanchez and Julio are fireballing righties, both of whom have been effective set-up men in their careers. Kyle Farnsworth, up until last year, was a volatile crazy man (which occasionally is synonomous with set-up man) and he is unlikely to handle the New York Yankee crowd well. Villone was awful after moving to Florida last year and Small is a journeyman who is going to have a tough time being 10-0 again. Juan Padilla is a similar case, but with those glasses, who knows.

Billy Wagner vs. Mariano Rivera
Rivera. This might wind up being a push if Rivera finally starts to fade, but the man is absolutely unhittable. Wagner isn't hittable either, but all he's got on Rivera is velocity.

Next up in the Battle of the Boroughs:
Battle of the Benches. Tike Redman, Endy Chavez, Miguel Cairo and Kelly Stinnett! What fun!

Starting Lineups

I've taken the liberty of comparing the Yankees and Mets starting lineups side by side and then giving the indication of which player I feel is better. Here we go.

First Basemen: Mets- Carlos Delgado
Yankees- Jason Giambi
This really isn't a contest. Giambi can get you decent numbers, but Delgado is probably top 5 1B in the NL behind Pujols (obviously) and Lee (who could flop), and Helton (who people just won't pitch to).
Second Basemen: Mets- Kaz Matsui
Yankees- Robinson Cano
KAZ!!! He's so terrrible. Robby might boot 500 balls this year and I'd still take him over wannabe Hideki.
Shortstops: Mets- Jose Reyes
Yankees- Derek Jeter
Ah... the fated day where I choose between DJ and Jose. In all honesty here....
Jeter is just a better player. (there I said it). He's the leader of the team, he's got 5 rings, and he is still the best opposite field hitter in the league. WHEW. I can't hate Jose, he's a SB machine, but he's too inexperienced and doesn't have the numbers to compete with DJ.
Third Basemen: Mets- David Wright
Yankees- Alex Rodriguez
Wright could potentially have a huge upside and he's getting paid a fraction of what A-Rod is getting, so if you were building a franchise, one could conceivably choose Wright... if you were crazy. A-Rod is the best player in the league, you don't pass him up.
Left Fielders: Mets- Cliff Floyd
Yankees- Hideki Matsui
I'm actually gonna have to go stalemate on this. I love Hideki, but Cliff Floyd isn't half-bad either. Both are quality players.
Center Fielders: Mets- Carlos Beltran
Yankees- Johnny Damon
God I hate Damon! He's such a prick! Cashman is corrupting the sweet nectar that was the Yankees with leftover filth from Epstein/Henry land. I take Beltran, I can see him driving in 90, which although is not great, is better than whatever Damon'll do batting leadoff in a system that is just so unbelievably wrong for him.
Right Fielders: Mets- Either Victor Diaz or Xavier Nady
Yankees- Gary Sheffield
Another no brainer. I'd take Sheff over the combined production of those two. In case you haven't been watching, Sheff has been hitting 30 and driving in 130 consistently. Plus, it's Victor Diaz.
Catchers: Mets-Paul Lo Duca
Yankees- Jorge Posada
You gotta take Posada. People may pick on his arm, but he has a clutch factor that oftentimes goes unnoticed. (Should have taken him out, Grady) Lo Duca probably plays better defense and he can hit better for average, he doesn't have the power numbers (HR's and 2B) that Posada has when he's healthy. Overall, pretty close, but I still say Posada's the better player.

Jack' s analysis of the pitching and bullpen coming up soon.

The Toe

As I was playing in the snow
I thought it a grand time to know
what was wrong with Pedro's toe.

My good friend Joe
Said "Jack, we don't know!"
What shall we do with this rotten toe?

And I said let's order a shoe from Nike
Let's hope it's not too spiky
And Pedro will likey likey!

But what if he needs a cortisone shot?
That would hopefully not
be what fifty-two million got.

And so my friend Joe screamed, attacked by a mugger
"There's always Tom Glavine, who won four Silver Sluggers!"

"But what of Heilman and last-year's one-hit wonder?" I cried.
Joe responded: "You'll be more likely to see Jay Horwitz upset that Anna Benson has died."

And so a caveat, for this Mets playoff campaign,
your back-up starters are Alay Soler and John Maine.