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What, Me-ts Worry?

After a somewhat uplifting two out of three from the San Francisco BALCOs, the Mets are resigned to the fate of facing the Braves in Turner Field. I don't like it one bit. I think Major League Baseball should move them to San Juan for a couple games, provided Cliff Floyd won't get hurt on the turf there. I think they should move to Tokyo so Kaz can recapture the stronghold on the Japanese Gold Glove at SS. Maybe to Mexico City so Jose Valentin is beset with a vicious case of coliform-induced diarrhea and Julio Franco can eat the best egg whites around. Heck, I'd move the Braves to Stade Olympique so Andruw Jones might be able to find a nationality to explain the peculiar spelling of his name. But for now they're in Atlanta, home of Lil' Jon and Ron Mexico. And despite all of the inevitable empty seats at the Ted, the Mets will be playing important games. Although these games are certainly of less importance than the memorable weekend at the end of July in 2004, we will now have some more venom in the rotation. Pedro will be on the hill, and I am assured by a contact in the Mets organization that Eric Valent will see no playing time during this series. And yet part of me worries inside, about a late inning collapse, about pitching way too much to Andruw Jones, about giving up a mammoth shot to Larry, or, worse yet, Jeff Francoeur's idiot smile. I predicted he would be a bust and I'm hungry for vindication on that one.

Game 1: Friday, 7:35
Pedro Martinez, RHP (4-0, 3.04 ERA) vs. John Smoltz, RHP (1-1, 4.15 ERA)
  • Breakdown: A classic duel reminiscent of Smoltz-Pedro last April: I know you all remember that game. This one is slightly less important for the Orange and Blue, but on another level it remains crucial. Pedro's beating Smoltz.

  • Game 2: Saturday, 7:05
    Tom Glavine, LHP (2-2, 2.78 ERA) vs. John Thomson, RHP (0-0, 1.31 ERA)
  • Breakdown: I like what they're doing a lot. Thomson has been nasty and has nothing to show for it. Over the years he has dominated the Mets, with three-year splits of 5-1 with a 2.42 ERA in 8 starts against them. Glavine has traditionally had trouble with his former mates, but has posted good showings against them of late. Call it a push.

  • Game 3: Sunday, 1:05 (NATIONAL TV: TBS)
    Steve Trachsel, RHP (2-1, 3.13 ERA) vs. Kyle Davies, RHP (1-2, 4.56 ERA)
  • Breakdown: Davies has shown the Mets up in his young career, shredding the Mets in 3 career appearances (16 innings)- the only run he allowed ever against the Metsies was Chris Woodward's homer in their last series together. Hopefully the Mets can master him, but, for now, I like Davies in this one.

  • ATL Breakdown: Record- 9-12 (2nd place, NL East)
    There's something I wish I saw more often. But for the past someteen years (i've tried to forget), the Braves have been atop the NL east. Sure, there was the strike-shortened year that finished with the Expos in first place, and, sure, they were in the NL West during part of that streak. Moreover, the division's other teams have won 2 titles during that span (Marlins in '97 and '03) compared with the Braves' one. But, then again, they've done it with this core that no one shuts up about. OOOOOOH Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, Walt Weiss! I'm sick of it. Really really sick. So apparently the Mets are going to Atlanta this week. I don't know what to expect from this team these days. Their only good hitter seems to be Andruw Jones, but he's carried them against the Mets. Their mediocre pitchers have blown the Mets to bits lately as have John Smoltz and Tim Hudson. But at this point in the season, the Braves have been far from spectacular. Their record dictates that as well as their underwhelming performance and the stat line that shows Pete Orr has played in 18 of their 21 games this year. There are other problems with the Braves including that Edgar Renteria and Chipper Jones are both on the mend. I wish that I had statistics backing me up to suggest that they're headed for further collapse. Unfortunately, those statistics apparently don't exist yet.

    Players to Watch for:
    ATL: Andruw Jones. Give me one reason to believe that he won't beat the absolute snot out of the Mets this series. One reason.

    NYM: Carlos Delgado. He's just dominated pitching this day, walloping a bunch of gopherballs while carrying the Mets lineup as a whole.

    Player of the Series: Andruw Jones

    Picks: The Mets will take one of three in the series, snagging Pedro's start but dropping Glavine's in a close one and Trachsel's in a blowout. But don't forget: the Mets can get swept and they'll stay in first place.

    Sex can wait! Prognosticate:
  • Jose Reyes is busting out of his slump: in a big way. Ryan "Do you have to- Do you have to let it" Langerhans is playing left and just you wait for him to not hustle to potential Jose triples.

  • Jose Valentin is really really terrible. Please. Get rid of him. I'll give you all the Subway sandwiches in the world, Willie, if you stop using him. Just please stop.

  • Jorge Julio will pitch in this series. And he'll be clutch.

  • Brian Bannister's spot in the rotation will be taken by John Maine. His first start will be good and the others will be progressively worse.

  • The Rangers will not get swept by the Devils... more about that tomorrow.

  • For now, goodnight, goodseries, Let's Go Mets!


    Off-Day Blues

    After yesterday's thrilling game, in which everything except David Wright's throw and Brian Bannister's hamstring went our way, there's an off day. Sure, we're flying to Hotlanta to face Larry, 'Druw, and Adam LaRoche. But what does one do on an off-day? I was first thinking about writing poetry, but Endy and trendy really shouldn't rhyme.
    Then I was thinking about offfering up a Delmon Young crack. That's a funny story.
    How about Keith? Played, I think.
    But then I remember a story that Newsday broke earlier this week.
    I'm sure you heard it too. If you didn't... click it. But inquisitive blogger that I am, I tried to dig into the history of conversations between Marlins GM Larry Beinfest and other trade partners.

    Larry Beinfest: We've got this kid Willis. Whaddya say we trade him for David Wright?
    Omar Minaya: Are you crazy? Get off the phone.

    Larry Beinfest: Hey Ed! Ryan Howard! I love him. Whaddya say Jason Vargas for the big kid?
    Phillies GM Ed Wade: Come now, Larry. Hang up.

    Larry Beinfest: Dave Littlefield! My man! How's it going? Anyway, we've got this kid Hee-Seop Choi. You ain't never seen anything like him. I was thinking Jason Bay might be a fair deal?
    Pirates GM Dave Littlefield: Not a chance! We can't build this team without core players like Jason, and, uh, John Van Benschoten!
    LB: Whatever.

    Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty: Hello?
    LB: Jockstrap! It's your boy Beinfest! How's it hanging down in the STL? I'm about to offer you the greatest package for Al Pujols you've ever heard.
    Jocketty: I'm listening.
    Beinfest: Two words: Tim. Spooneybarger. Hello?

    Giants GM Brian Sabean: Who's calling? I'm on the other line with Greg Anderson.
    LB: Sabes! It's Beinfest. How goes it in the Sucka' Free? Anyway, Barry Bonds. Ya dealing him?
    Brian Sabean: What are you offering?
    Beinfest: Prepare to be blown away. Can you guess what I'm thinking?
    Sabean: Josh Beckett? A.J. Burnett? Brad Penny? Carl Pavano? Cliff Floyd? Derrek Lee?
    Beinfest: Close...
    Sabean: Luis Castillo? Preston Wilson?
    Beinfest: Sabes, ya almost had it. Braden Looper. How's that sound? Loopy and a mid-level prospect. Brian?

    then-Expos GM Jim Beattie: Qui c'est?
    LB: Voulez-vous couchez avec moi, ya sonofabitch! It's Beinfest!
    Beattie: Qu'est-ce qui s'est passé, cher Larry?
    LB: No mas, amigo. Anyway, Vladimir Guerrero! You listening to offers for him?
    JB: Non, mais j'aimerais écouter ceux que vous va dire!
    LB: That's great, because I was just considering trading John Mabry. Maybe we could work something out!
    JB: Vous etes un homme très bête.
    LB: You too, my good man. I'll fax it to Selig. Tell the kids I said "Bonjour!"

    Seattle Mariners GM Woody Woodward: Beinfest! What can I do ya for?
    LB: Well, I'm pretty okay now, we just got Charles Johnson. He's gonna save the franchise.
    WW: Sounds good. Anything else I can help you with?
    LB: Yeah. A simple trade. Just a little swap in a couple of names.
    WW: Lemme guess. A Mike swap? Cameron for Redmond? That's crazy talk.
    LB: I was thinking an Alex swap. Rodriguez for Gonzalez? Gonzalez has power and speed and A-Rod's at his peak.
    WW: Throw in Cliff Floyd.
    LB: Get lost!

    Walt Jocketty: Beinfest, my boy. How goes it in sunny Florida?
    LB: I love it. We're on our way to a 64-98 season.
    WJ: Ouch. There anything I can do for you?
    LB: Yeah. Actually, do me one favor. I did give you Renteria.
    WJ: Fine.
    LB: Kevin Millar for Mark McGwire. Millar's a clubhouse spark, and, that McGwire, he's going to forget the past quickly.
    WJ: I'll meet you in the middle. You hang up and I'll buy Braden Looper back.
    Beinfest: I won't get off this phone until you trade me McGwire!

    Brian Cashman: Cashman here. I hope you're calling offering us some burnt-out superstar. George really wants one now.
    Beinfest: Sorry. I already traded Bonilla, Sheffield, Piazza, Renteria, the whole gang. I've got Craig Counsell though.
    Cash: Why are you calling then?
    LB: I really need Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams. I will gladly offer up Gregg Zaun. The 10 fans that come to our games don't tolerate 100-loss seasons. Though I'm pretty sure they're Fidel's guys trying to capture Livan and bring him back.
    Cash: I'm sorry. We had them euthanized after they kept shining lasers at El Duque's forehead.
    LB: I'd try that, but we can't afford euthanasia. What about Ginsu knives?

    Steve Phillips: Hey baby... I've been waiting for your call. What are you wearing?
    LB: Uh... It's Beinfest.
    SP: Holy crap. Don't tell Wilpon.
    LB: I won't if you do me one favor.
    SP: Anything.
    LB: I want $220,000, Mr. Burkle, ah just kidding. I want you to trade me A.J. Burnett.
    SP: For what? Castillo? Moises Alou? Kevin Brown?
    LB: Wrong, wrong and wrong again. Al Leiter!
    SP: You must be off your rocker!
    LB: Oh, Mrs. Phillips..., Oh, Mr. Wilpon....
    SP: Fine. Geez.

    now it all makes sense...

    I'll be back on topic for the big series at Jesus Freaks Stadium tomorrow.

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    In Defense of Mex...

    I thought about it.
    Honestly, Keith Hernandez didn't do anything wrong. He just didn't.
    I tried to see it in the eyes of my mother, sister, and Patricia Ireland.
    But think about the atmosphere of baseball. No female baseball operations execs exist except over in Chavez Ravine.
    No female trainers, especially not Miss Calabrese, who was a massage therapist.
    There's only one female professional, and I'm only guessing about that one based on the Paula Abdul get-up from spring training and the Clomid prescriptions.
    Baseball is, at least to all outside observers, a man's game.
    In a dugout where sweaty, muscular and violent athletes spit into the ground, are women even totally attune to the situation?
    And, no, just like Keith, I'm not used to having females in the dugout.
    It's not offensive to say that.
    And I applaud Keith for citing the rulebook, noting that only the head and assistant trainers are permitted, because Calabrese is neither.
    Let the haters continue to whine, but Mets fans and fans of Mets broadcasting know that Mex is loved for his frankness.
    He, and to a lesser extent, Gary Cohen, is all that is honest and accountable in this franchise's media coverage. They employed Fran Healy from 1984-2005! Fran Healy! Upon being called a Kool-Aid drinker, Healy remarked, "Come out to Shea and watch Jose Reyes run after he hits a Geico triple that bounces off the Amtrak Acela sign! And in between innings, grab some Kool-Aid! The food is great!" I just made that up, though it sounds all too real.
    So worry not about the neighborhood misogynist, Mets fans, because Keith is just too suave for it all. For example, take after he was chided by Padres manager Bruce Bochy.
    Upon being criticized, Hernandez and Walt "Clyde" Frazier shouted in unison, "Re-Jected!"

    Pee (for moises) S.
    The Mets really need a win tonight. Get out of the funk. And please don't walk Barry.
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    Sitting on a lead by the Bay...

    Look at that turnaround. One second I'm blogging about Victor "Forget Carlos" Zambrano, and the next second I'm smiling about a potential head-to-head up north. Optimism.
    After an underwhelming series split in "America's Finest City", the Mets head north to face a bunch of geriatric ex-steroid users, and one of the oldest starting outfields imaginable on some days. "BoneChips" Bonds will undoubtedly hit some balls to the fence and blame Pedro Gomez, and Moises Alou will still pee on his hands. The games will be played at Pac Bell SBC AT&T Park, where Xavier Nady will surely have trouble hustling to balls in the rightfield corner. I'm hoping for a Cliff Floyd splashdown reminiscent of that game in a lost 2004. Surely you remember: Saturday afternoon into night at then Pac Bell when Todd Zeile hit a ball that rightfielder Dustan Mohr lost in the sunlight, scoring the immortal Vance Wilson Delgado. Oh, you don't? Fortunato got the save. Mike Stanton the win. And Eric Valent (ERIC VALENT!) was leading off and playing first. Anyway, this series is kind of important for the Mets. Important to go to the Ted on a high note over the weekend.

    Game 1: Monday, 10:15
    Tom Glavine, LHP (2-1, 1.38 ERA) vs. Matt Cain, RHP (0-2, 6.75 ERA)
  • Edge: Glavine. Tommy might be old enough to be Cain's father, which would make him Adam. Biblical humor? Anyway, Glavine is one of the NL's hottest pitchers (second probably to Greg Maddux, strange, eh?) and the young Cain has been hit hard in the early going.

  • Game 2: Tuesday, 10:15
    Steve Trachsel, RHP (1-1, 3.71 ERA) vs. Jamey Wright, RHP (2-0, 2.91 ERA)
  • Edge: Push. Two crusty veterans take the hill, though Wright is much younger and much less accomplished. Trax pitched well the last time out.

  • Game 3: Wednesday, 3:35
    Brian Bannister, RHP (2-0, 2.35 ERA) vs. Jason Schmidt, RHP (0-2, 5.33 ERA)
  • Edge: Bannister. My honest opinion: Jason was never that good. He is once again out of shape and is facing a youngster with a lot to prove. Brian should look to post something more like his start in Washington.

  • SF Breakdown: Record- 10-8
    This team is old. It's also not very good. Most of the historical power on this team was generated erstwhile by performance-enhancing drugs (see: Bonds, Barry and Finley, Steve) and most of the other players are skinny (see: Vizquel, Omar and Durham, Ray). So far they've been pretty good, but their offense has not been generating much output. Vizquel has been pacing the offense for the light hitters and a resurgent Moises Alou has been packing the power. Randy Winn has also been strong in the early goings of his first full Giant season. The team's pitching staff is full of freaky stats: Tim Worrell (2-1, 6 saves, 8.31 ERA), Armando (0.00 ERA, 1 Save), Jack Taschner (6 G, 2.1 IP, 34.71 ERA). This leaves a doorway of hope for the Mets' bats, which have gone cold. Hopefully, they've got the hits (HITS!) and they'll score some runs (RUNS!).

    Players to Watch for:
    SF: Ray Durham. He's been cold so far this year, hitting only .208. Look for him to break out of his slump against these few pitchers.

    NYM: Jose Reyes. Well that love affair got old quickly. Reyes, listen to me. You need a hit. ASAP. And preferably a lot of them, and some triples and maybe an inside-the-park home run and, if you could, some stolen bases.

    Player of the Series: Kaz Matsui (stay hot!)

    Picks: Two of three for the M-E-T-S Mets Mets Mets.

    Sex can wait! Prognosticate:
  • Maybe you read my article earlier, but Victor Zambrano needs to go down to the minors. It doesn't matter who fills his spot, but if he can't step it up, his rotation slot will remain a problem for the Mets.

  • Brian Bannister might have to join Zamby in the minor leagues if he can't work his control problems out.

  • I was rejuvenated as a fan of Carlos Beltran's after this year's hot start, but he can't have all these nagging injuries. He needs to play and get Endy "Of Your Rally" Chavez out of the starting lineup.

  • Let's go Mets! We've got the teamwork... to make the dream work...

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    Why I Can't Blame Victor Zambrano

    I want to blame Victor Zambrano for this. I really do. I want to say it's all his fault and make him feel guilty about stinking it up on the hill. I want him to feel bad about being the weak link in the Mets rotation-- the only thing that can keep the 2006 team from greatness. But it honestly isn't his fault.
    Victor didn't ask to be a Met. Victor has pitched his guts out, frustrating as he may be. Victor's biggest problem was being traded for Scott Kazmir.
    Some act like they don't think it matters who you're traded for. But the fact that the Zambrano trade is already indented in our minds as a horrendous swap has hurt him. It makes the fans mad. It makes the talk radio bums mad.
    It really isn't his fault. He began as an infielder in the New York Yankees system, someone who just couldn't play his position up to snuff. He then signed on as an original Devil Ray minor leaguer in 1996, joining the pitching staff of the Gulf Coast League Rays. He was promoted to Low A Ball in 1998, going 6-4 with a 3.38 ERA. The next year he was tossing in AA, going 7-2 with a 4.59 ERA in 40 games (4 starts). In AA for the next two years, he went 1-8 with an ERA of 5.03 in his first season and a 2.06 in his second, during neither of which did he start a game. With a strong bullpen showing during that second year, he was promoted to the D-Rays, going 6-2 with a 3.16 ERA in 36 relief appearances.
    The next year was slightly uglier, going 8-8 with a 5.53 ERA in 42 games (11 starts). At one point he was demoted to AAA, but he put together a nasty stint at Durham, putting up a 1.93 ERA in 10 relief appearances.
    In 2003, he was back up to the show, going 12-10 with an ERA of 4.21. This was his first year as primarily a starter, as he threw in 34 games (28 starts). The next year was 2004, where he went 9-7 with a 4.43 ERA in 23 games (22 starts) for the D-Rays before being shipped to Flushing. He went 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 3 starts before going down with a flexor muscle injury.
    We all remember 2005, but his career serves as an important blueprint. Zambrano was never a consistent starter. He has been a consistent reliever, despite high walk rates, and he is, by all observations, about an average pitcher. He's not Pedro, and, no, he's not Scott Kazmir.
    But people want to blame Victor, as Brian Giles' grand slam lands in the right field seats. They want to curse Victor, when all he meant for was success. He wants to succeed.
    I blame many people. I blame Jim Duquette. I blame the Wilpon/Katz family. I blame Chuck LaMar. I blame every writer who put pressure on Duquette to trade for a starter. I blame Al Leiter and John Franco, for accusing Kazmir of having a drinking problem and a love for marijuana. It bothers me that they were upset that he commandeered the clubhouse stereo. I blame Anna Benson, for not marrying Victor so that he would have been traded. I blame Rick Peterson for having 10 minutes take 3 years.
    It's come to the point where it's foolish to expect anything out of Zambrano. He needs to go down to AAA and learn how to pitch, so, maybe, just maybe, he can be a key part of this 2006 rotation.
    It's not his fault anymore. He never said he could be fixed in ten minutes. I recall stories of him in tears, apologetic for concealing his injury at the time of the trade. Victor Zambrano isn't guilty of anything besides being traded for someone better than he.

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