Mets Merized Online » Chase Utley http://metsmerizedonline.com Sat, 02 Aug 2014 02:52:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Despite No Wins To Show For It, deGrom Has Pitched Impressively http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/despite-no-wins-to-show-for-it-degrom-has-pitched-impressively.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/despite-no-wins-to-show-for-it-degrom-has-pitched-impressively.html/#comments Mon, 02 Jun 2014 14:36:24 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=157461 New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies

On a day that saw one prospect sent packing, another one lived another day.  Jacob deGrom started his fourth career major league game on Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies.  Learning the news that his teammate Rafael Montero was heading back to Las Vegas before the first pitch, deGrom went out and pitched as if his days in the majors depended on it.

DeGrom was overpowering hitters in the early going, not allowing a hit until the fourth inning. Chase Utley broke up the no-no with a two-out single.  Up to that point deGrom had set down every batter he faced in order striking out six through the first 3.2 innings.

Things would change a bit in the bottom of the fifth, when deGrom appeared to have possibly injured himself after a pitch.  The cavalry came out to check on him and deemed him good enough to continue and a collective sigh was heard throughout New York.

In the seventh inning, with a one-hitter still in hand, a weary deGrom got himself into trouble which ultimately led to his exit.  A lead-off single by Jimmy Rollins and a walk to Chase Utley, allowed Ryan Howard to do what Ryan Howard so often does. With the Mets up 4-0, Howard took the deGrom offering and sent it into the stands to pull the Phillies within one.  DeGrom was allowed one more batter after that which brought him to 101 pitches and into the clubhouse.

Still, this was another solid effort by deGrom and perhaps a sign of even better things to come for the young righty. He now has a 2.42 ERA and 1.077 WHIP through his first four starts all averaging more than six innings..

Jacob deGrom’s final line for Saturday: 6.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 11 K

His next scheduled start is on Thursday, June 5th against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

MMO

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A Breakout Season For Daniel Murphy http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/a-breakout-year-for-murphy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/a-breakout-year-for-murphy.html/#comments Sat, 25 Jan 2014 17:08:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=140718 MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies

Earlier in the offseason, there were whispers of Daniel Murphy possibly being moved, which made me think about Murphy’s value, and if it really  is at its peak. If his value is at its peak, should we move him, or should we sign Murphy to an extension and make him part of our future playoff runs?  Let’s breakdown some of Murphy’s numbers, and talk about his intangibles, before we decide on his value.

There have been rumors this offseason that the Mets brass would look to trade Murphy after his “breakout” season.  Looking at Murphy’s numbers, I’m not sure 2013 was even his best season, let alone his breakout season.

There are a couple of reasons why Murphy’s numbers were so good in ’08.  The Mets still called Shea Stadium home, which was a much better park for hitters than Citi, and he platooned in a LF/PH role with RH Nick Evans.  He had a total of 10 Abs vs LHP that season.

The following season Murphy batted in the middle of the lineup against both LH and RH pitching as the Mets roster was decimated with injuries. Pretty tough spot for a young player in his 1st full season.  He still ended up with a .741 OPS and played decent defense after he was moved from LF to 1B.

With a pre valley fever Ike Davis poised to make his debut, the Mets moved Murphy to 2B in 2010, and sent him to AAA to get some reps at the position before being recalled.  As luck, or should I say “Mets luck”, would have it, Murphy tore his ACL 11 games into the season.  He came back strong in 2011, and looked like he might win a future batting title, hitting .320/.362/.448 before “Mets luck” struck yet again.  In July, while turning a double play against the Braves, Murphy suffered yet another knee injury that ended his season for the 2nd year in a row.  Ouch.  I’ll never forget Murphy hopping on one leg toward right center field, in obvious, excruciating, pain, before he finally landed on the on outfield grass.

After knee operations in consecutive seasons, Murphy played a full season at 2B in 2012, and was definitely sub-par defensively, but hit .291/.332/.406 with 40 doubles.  That’s a pretty good season considering he had switched positions from LF to 1B to 2B previously, and still found time to work in a couple of knee surgeries.

Last season Murphy disappointed at times, frustrated at times, and really impressed at times.  According to defensive metrics, he improved his defense at 2B from 2012 to 2013, and while his OBP went from .332 to .319, his SLG% went from .403 to .415, as he set a career high in HRs with 13, and cracked 55 XBH.  The surprising part of Murphy’s season was the SBs.  He swiped 23 bags while getting thrown out a mere 3 times, including 22 straight from early June through the end of the season.  A streak that is still alive.  That’s pretty impressive.  In fact, Murphy is 33 of 38, or 87%, on attempted steals in the last two seasons.  I think his knees are fully healed.

Here’s the thing we forget about Murphy.  He’s been with the Mets for what seems like an eternity, but he’s only 28.  He turns 29 on April 1st, just as the regular season begins. Murphy missed a full season in 2010, a good chunk of 2011, and he was also tasked with learning to play a different position for 3 consecutive seasons.  At 29, and missing significant developmental time, it’s certainly possible that Murphy’s breakout season hasn’t happened yet.  It’s also arguable that Murphy’s 2013 season was better than it actually looks on paper, since David Wright missed most of August and September.  Why is that significant?  When Wright was activated from the DL on September 20th, Murphy hit .359 (14-39) from September 20th through the end of the season with DW5 in the lineup.  With Wright being on the DL for more than a month, Murphy wasn’t getting as many pitches to drive.  He was only walked intentionally twice the entire year, but both times were during Wright’s DL stint.

Another thing to consider if you dig a little deeper into Murphy’s 2013 numbers is that he hit .302/.339/.440 when batting from the #2 slot in the lineup.  Collins tinkered with the lineup quite a bit earlier in the year, and it seemed to really mess with his numbers when he hit lower in the order.

Murphy also played a career high 160 games, with a nearly 700 ABs.  He hit .292/.331/.459 with 12 of his 13 long balls against RHP.  His .790 OPS vs RHP trailed only David Wright (.836), and Lucas Duda (.831).  Seeing that he played far more in 2013 than in seasons past, and fared far better against RHP, it stands to reason he could’ve used an extra day or two of rest vs. a LH starter, as evidenced by his .304 batting average in games after an off day.  Murphy would probably be more effective in the games that he did play with an additional day off per month.  That would still put him at 154 games played.  He had 0-4’s against Hamels in April, Mike Minor in May and June, and Cliff Lee in July & August.  That seems like a pretty good time to give him a day off.

Murphy also put up a 3.0 fWAR last season, which was good for 3rd in the NL among all 2B.  Of the two that finished ahead of Murphy, one (Matt Carpenter) is moving to 3B, and the other Chase Utley is entering his age 35 season, and missed significant playing time in 4 consecutive seasons. Utley will most certainly extend that to 5, given his age.  It is arguable that Murphy will have the highest WAR for his position in the entire National League in 2014.

We also must consider Murphy’s intangibles.  Murphy is a leader.  David Wright is the best player on the team, and a tireless worker that leads by example, but the vocal leader of the New York Mets is, unquestionably, Daniel Murphy.  He also has a tremendous work ethic, and, by all accounts, is a great teammate, and clubhouse presence.  Murphy also provides versatility, as he can play both corner IF positions and 2B.  He can play LF in a pinch, but something would have to go horribly wrong for Murphy to be in the OF…….again.

If Murphy can take at a small step forward defensively, and gets a couple of extra days off against a tough LHP, considering Murphy is entering his prime years with Wright and Granderson hitting behind him, we may be looking at the best 2B in the NL in 2014.  It’s not far fetched to say that Murphy could take a step forward offensively:

.300/.350/.450  100-R  200-H  40-2B  5-3B 15-HR 25-SB.

He can put up those numbers with an additional 12 hits, 8 runs, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 2 HRs, & 2 SB.  That’s really just 3 or 4 good games.

Murphy’s value could increase as a player, but decrease in trade value, as he will have only one year left until he hits free agency after this coming season. He will earn about $6mill as an Arb-eligible, and with an average season for Murphy in 2014, he will earn at least $8.5-$9mil for 2015 as he will be eligible for arbitration one last time, next offseason, before he hits the market.  The Mets should sign Murphy to a 4year/$40mil extension and lock him up for his age 30-33 seasons, and what would be his first two years of free agency.  He would still have tremendous trade value at age 31 with a reasonable contract if they stall out in the rebuilding process and move him at that point.  Who’s knows?  He might just be the best 2B in the NL by that time.

Presented By Diehards

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Daniel Murphy Appreciation Day http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/daniel-murphy-appreciation-day.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/daniel-murphy-appreciation-day.html/#comments Mon, 07 Oct 2013 14:28:32 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130780 This is where I tip my cap to Daniel Murphy.

This is where I tip my cap to Daniel Murphy.

Before I begin, let me preface this by saying that if you’re not a Daniel Murphy supporter, then in all likelihood you will not be a fan of this post.  (And for the record, the title of this piece was suggested by my Gal For All Seasons, so I’m not alone in my appreciation for the Mets’ second baseman.)

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look back at the great second baseman in Mets history.  There’s Edgardo Alfonzo and there’s … uh … well …  there’s not much else.  Sure, there were some second basemen who had good years, like two-time All-Star and Rookie of the Year runner-up Ron Hunt, but he was mostly a singles hitters who made as much contact with the ball using his bat (.282 lifetime average as a Met) as he did with his body (41 HBP in four seasons in New York).

In addition to Hunt, the Mets have employed other fine second sackers such as Felix Millan (who made Ron Hunt look like an extra-base hit machine), Doug Flynn (ditto) and Wally Backman (double ditto).  Ken Boswell had some pop, if you want to call a career-high nine home runs in 1972 “some pop”.

There have also been a number of second basemen who were great before they came to the Mets, then underachieved in New York.  Do the names Carlos Baerga, Roberto Alomar and Luis Castillo ring a bell?

Basically, after Alfonzo, the next-best second baseman in club annals might have been Jeff Kent, who had some solid years in Flushing when he wasn’t thinking about being on his ranch in Texas.  And Kent probably couldn’t concentrate much on that ranch with all those boos from the Shea Faithful permeating the daydream sensors in his brain.

But that No. 2 spot behind Fonzie on the unofficial list of greatest second basemen in Mets history might have a new resident taking off the vacancy sign very soon.  And that resident’s name is Daniel Murphy.

Make room for Daniel  Murphy at second base.

Make room for Daniel Murphy at second base.

Daniel Murphy had one of the greatest seasons ever recorded by a Mets second baseman in 2013.  He finished the year with a .286 batting average, 38 doubles, 13 homers, 78 RBI, 92 runs scored and 23 stolen bases.  Prior to Murphy, the only second basemen in franchise history to reach double digits in both home runs and RBI in the same season were Gregg Jefferies and Roberto Alomar.  But neither player matched Murphy’s totals in batting average, runs scored, runs batted in and stolen bases.  In fact, the only two players in team history who had better numbers than Murphy in all six offensive categories (batting average, doubles, home runs, RBI, runs scored, stolen bases), regardless of their defensive position, were Howard Johnson in 1989 (.287 average, 41 doubles, 36 HR, 101 RBI, 104 runs scored, 41 SB) and David Wright in 2007 (.325 average, 42 doubles, 30 HR, 107 RBI, 113 runs scored, 34 SB).

Murphy’s 2013 campaign saw him finish among the National League leaders in a number of offensive categories.  Murphy was in the top ten in games played (161; 2nd in the NL), hits (188; 2nd), singles (133; 2nd), doubles (38; T-7th), total bases (273; 8th), runs scored (92; 8th) and stolen bases (23; T-7th).  The only other player in the National League to finish in the top ten in all of those categories was MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen.  (Oh, and did I mention that Murphy finished first in the league in stolen base percentage, as he was caught stealing only three times in 26 attempts?  Andrew McCutchen, on the other hand, was caught stealing ten times, making him one of only nine players in the National League to reach double digits in that category.)

Offensively, there are few second basemen in the league who can match Daniel Murphy’s overall production.  However, there have been some questions posed about Murphy’s ability to handle the defensive side of the position.  It’s true that Murphy had an unfavorable defensive WAR (-1.5) and made 16 errors at second base.  But that doesn’t mean he was a complete wash at the position.

Murphy finished second in the league in putouts to three-time Gold Glove winner Brandon Phillips.  In addition, Murphy finished third in the NL in assists (behind Phillips and Neil Walker) and third in double plays turned (behind Walker and MVP candidate Matt Carpenter).

Now let’s look at the 16 errors committed by Murphy, a total that was surpassed in the Senior Circuit only by Chase Utley, who made one more miscue.  Murphy played 150 games at second base in 2013 (his other 11 games were at first base and pinch-hitter).  The three second basemen who finished directly behind Murphy in errors committed were Dan Uggla, Marco Scutaro and Rickie Weeks, who made 14, 13 and 10 errors, respectively.  But Uggla, Scutaro and Weeks all spent time on the disabled list, combining to miss 119 games this past season with each player missing at least 26 games.  Had they all remained on the field, perhaps one or more of them could have committed more gaffes at second base than Murphy.

Doubles, stolen bases, death-defying leaps over catchers.  Is there anything Daniel  Murphy can't do?

Doubles, stolen bases, death-defying leaps over catchers. Is there anything Daniel Murphy can’t do?

For his career, Daniel Murphy has been known as a doubles machine.  He has the only 40-double campaign for a left-handed hitter in team history.  Murphy is also one of only two Mets (David Wright is the other) with three or more seasons of 35+ doubles.  And with 73 more doubles (about two average Daniel Murphy seasons), Murphy will pass Ed Kranepool to become the second-most prolific doubles hitter in franchise history.  But Murphy is more than just a producer of two-base hits.  He proved that (and then some) in 2013.

In my opinion, Daniel Murphy has not been appreciated enough by Mets fans.  Just like Carlos Beltran (who continues to be remembered more for keeping the bat on his shoulders as a Lord Charles curveball danced on by than for the complete player that he was), Daniel Murphy will always have detractors who will complain that he doesn’t take enough walks or that he’s a horrible defensive player.

To those detractors, I have one thing to say.  Be careful what you wish for.  Many players have been run out of town only to come back and haunt the Mets.  Don’t let Daniel Murphy become another one of those players.  Take time to appreciate what Daniel Murphy has done for the team and what he hopefully will continue to do for the team as its second baseman.  The Mets have not had many productive second basemen like Daniel Murphy in their 52-year history.

Not everyone can be Edgardo Alfonzo at second base.  It’s a good thing Daniel Murphy doesn’t try to be.

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Will Mets Sign A $100 Million Free Agent This Winter? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/will-mets-sign-a-100-million-free-agent-this-winter.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/will-mets-sign-a-100-million-free-agent-this-winter.html/#comments Fri, 06 Sep 2013 16:29:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=128678 jacoby ellsbury

I just finished reading a post on MetsBlog about the Mets and the possibilities of signing soon to be free agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Red Sox center fielder has an asking price of more than $100 million dollars.

I’ve also seen names like Shin-Soo Choo and Robinson Cano mentioned as potential Mets targets or mostly players whom the fans would like to see the Mets hone in on.

My questions is this… Regardless of all the things we’ve heard from Sandy Alderson and his bosses and owners, Fred and Jeff Wilpon, do you really believe they will spend as freely as they have suggested?

Do you really think the Mets have the wherewithal to sign anyone this offseason to a $100 million dollar contract?

I mean who wouldn’t want Ellsbury or Choo or Cano, but lets be real here… Do you really believe those are valid options or mostly pipe dreams?

Here are the top ten free agents according to MLB Trade Rumors in their latest free agent power rankings.

1.  Robinson Cano, 2B

2.  Jacoby Ellsbury, CF

3.  Brian McCann, C

4.  Matt Garza, SP

5.  Shin-Soo Choo, OF

6.  Hiroki Kuroda, SP

7.  Ervin Santana, SP

8.  Carlos Beltran, RF

9.  A.J. Burnett, SP

10.  Chase Utley, 2B

Do you see any of these players in a Mets uniform?

Quite honestly, I can’t….

Do You Believe The Mets Will Sign A $100 Million Free Agent This Winter?

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Wheeler Shines, But (As Usual) Run Support An Issue in 2-1 Loss http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/wheeler-shines-but-as-usual-run-support-an-issue-in-2-1-loss.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/wheeler-shines-but-as-usual-run-support-an-issue-in-2-1-loss.html/#comments Tue, 27 Aug 2013 02:15:46 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=127940 zack wheeler homeDespite the dose of bad news we received today, Zack Wheeler gave us a little hope as he shined in his outing today. Unfortunately, the result was not the desired one.

The Mets struck first when Andrew Brown hit a second inning single right back up the middle and brought around Marlon Byrd to make the score 1-0.

Wheeler was solid through three, but the Phillies got to him in the 4th when an Cody Asche double brought in two runs, giving the Phils a 2-1 lead.

Those were the only runs Wheeler would surrender; his night was over after 6.2, and his final line was a very impressive one:

6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K

Pedro Feliciano relieved Wheeler, and threw one third scoreless. Rice would enter after Feliciano,  and would get one out himself but surrender two baserunners. Carlos Torres would enter after Rice.

Travis d’Arnaud would then hose down Chase Utley on an attempted stolen base, the first of his career. Torres got the third out, and the threat was over.

d’Arnaud led off with a single in the bottom, but Lee shut down the Amazins and d’Arnaud was the only one to reach base.

Gonzalez Germen tossed a scoreless ninth (I love his quick-pitches), but the Mets went 1-2-3 in the ninth and they were handed their 71st loss of the year, 2-1.

The series continues tomorrow at 7:10 when Kyle Kendrick will face Jon Niese.

PS: Keep your heads up guys. The Harvey injury is a tough blow, but Wheeler showed promise and there’s reason for hope. Ya Gotta Believe!

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Is Daniel Murphy Worth $4 Million Dollars? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/is-daniel-murphy-worth-4-million-dollars.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/is-daniel-murphy-worth-4-million-dollars.html/#comments Thu, 22 Aug 2013 15:00:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=127660 daniel murphy

I couldn’t help but notice something that was written on MetsBlog yesterday that suggested that Daniel Murphy was not worth $4 million dollars.

Murphy is eligible for arbitration each of the next two seasons, and I expect he’ll earn around $4 million in 2014. It’s plausible to think Alderson views Murphy as not worth his price tag, at that point.

It struck me as odd because I never viewed Murphy as being anything but a valued player on the Mets and by that I mean the relationship between his performances and what he gets paid. Even at $4 million I’d view him as a nice value.

Now this is not about whether or not we should trade Murphy or move him to the bench. Lets not pretend that once David Wright comes back, Sandy Alderson will have a decision to make regarding Murphy, Wilmer Flores and Ike Davis. You can’t play all three at the same time and something’s gotta give. I get that.

But lets limit this solely to whether or not Murphy is worth $4 million dollars. I decided to ask a few of our writers and this is what they had to say on the matter:

XtreemIcon

There is a stat that tells you what he was worth, but it’s based on WAR. It basically takes the total amount that every single free agent signed for this season, takes the three-year win value of those players and produces a cost per win. The reason free agents are used is because they are the only players that are for sale. Those specific players are the only players you can buy, and by nature, younger players’ value is artificially depressed due to the CBA requiring six years of service before free agency. Matt Harvey would be worth far more than $450,000 on the FA market.

I have absolutely no problem at all with the calculation. I actually think it’s a rather intuitive way to place value on ballplayers. The very crux of value is cost/benefit, so to take the value of each win is a great way to do it. The “wins” (WAR) is where I have an issue. Besides WAR, the nature of free agency is what bothers me about it. The very nature of FA is constituted of old, declining, barely useful players. I looked at the FA tracker for this season, and here’s the top ten contracts given to position players before this season based on AAV:

Hamilton $25
Upton $15
Swisher $14
Bourn $12
Victorino $13
Hunter $13
Laroche $12
Youkilis $12
Berkman $11
Pagan $10

That’s about $137 million this season on those ten guys. Their combined WAR? 10.8 Maybe by the end of the year you can get a 13 WAR from these guys. So that is going to severely skew the “worth” of a player starting next year. And with contracts like Pujols, Werth and A-Rod on the board, the numbers for this season were skewed, as well. I mean, using this year as a standalone, would you pay $10+ million for a one-win player? Because that’s what it cost on this year’s FA market. And it’s only going to get worse as fewer and fewer real good players hit FA, thus driving their price up. It is a real, real concern to Yankee fans that Cano is going to cost $200 million. And I can sort of justify it based on all these other contracts. But after Cano, who’s left? So if a team desperately needs to buy a bat, they have to pay what? 18 mil for Ellsbury or Choo? $15 mil for Beltran, Pence and Nelson Cruz? $12 mil per for Mike Morse? Granderson?

Yes there is a stat. I think it’s a good stat, even a great calculation, but it’s components are severely flawed. Back to Murphy. His “value” this season thus far is $10.6 based on his 2.1 WAR. While I do think Murphy is worth $4 million, if the contingency plan makes the Mets a better team, then his dollar value is moot. If the Mets are convinced that the best infield they have for 2014 doesn’t include Murphy, (and I think we can all make a case that it doesn’t) then that $4 million could be better served paying someone else. Even as a reserve/bench player, that’s a lot to pay a backup. All that’s the long answer. The short answer is, probably yes.

Jacob Resnick

Wow this is kinda crazy. Daniel Murphy is basically the prototypical two hitter who gets hits over 30% of the time and is a potential 35+ doubles guy, so he sets up RBI opportunities for David Wright. Yes he’s not a Brandon Phillips or a Chase Utley, but he sure is going to hit and play defense. And if you ask me, Daniel is having a career year! There’s no telling that can get better.

Ed Marcus

Yes, he is definitely worth $4 million, but I think That Sandy may be inclined to trade Murph this offseason for either a outfield power bat, shortstop or middle relief help . My feeling is that he may be slotting Wilmer as his second baseman next season – just a theory though

Connor O’Brien

Without a doubt he’s worth $4 million. This is a very crude way of looking at it, but it proves the point nonetheless. One Win Above Replacement on the open market right now is going for about $5 million, and the cost is only rising by the year. Teams are spending more per WAR of production. Murphy has put up fWAR marks of 0.9, 1.0, 2.8, 1.3, and 2.1. Every year he’s played for the Mets, he’s been worth over $4 million, even in his 49 games in 2008.

Last year, the metrics and what I saw from Murphy put him at a well-below average fielder. He had a -11 DRS and -10.2 UZR at second base alone last year. Even with those horrible defensive marks, he had a 1.3 fWAR, worth almost $6 million. This year, the metrics like him much better on defense (and we’ve seen some improvement out there), giving him an fWAR of 2.1, which would cost roughly $10.6 million on the open market. He has seen his production at the plate go from slightly above average to slightly below, but he has been worth well over $4 million. Even if he reverts back to last year with the glove, the $4 million is still a bargain.

The real question is whether you want him as your long-term second baseman. It’s important not to get the two confused. He is worth the money, but whether you want him as your everyday second baseman going forward is still up for debate.

* * * * * * * *

As I said, there’s no telling whether Murphy will still be here and playing second base next season. I still think he could be a valuable reserve player who can give the Mets 350 at-bats easily over the course of a season. He can play three infield positions and would render Justin Turner as the odd man out. I’m not ready to let Murphy go, but based on what he’s done and what he’s capable of, he’s certainly worth every penny of that $4 million dollars if that’s what he gets in arbitration.

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And The NL Comeback Player of the Year Is… Too Close To Call… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/and-the-nl-comeback-player-of-the-year-is-too-close-to-call.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/and-the-nl-comeback-player-of-the-year-is-too-close-to-call.html/#comments Wed, 21 Aug 2013 17:00:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=127603 marlon byrd homers

BYRD CELEBRATES HOME RUN NO. 21

Marlon Byrd walloped his 21st home run of the year on Tuesday and setting a new career high for the 35-year old journeyman who has delivered an unexpected solid season for the Mets. Signed solely as a favor to his agent who pleaded with the Mets to take a chance on him, Byrd has repaid the Mets in spades and has exceeded all expectations. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he leads the team in home runs and 70 RBIs.

Byrd has appreciated the opportunity the Mets gave him and is thankful for how things have fallen into place for him. He credits hard work and a determination to wipe away his PED suspension and start off with a clean slate. It has been a hard-earned and memorable season for him thus far. Terry Collins calls it a great story.

“He was bound and determined to put that behind him and try to move forward,” Terry Collins said. “We brought him to spring training and he’s truly, absolutely saved us. I say every good team has to have a great story and a surprise, and he’s it.”

Of course the thought of possibly winning the NL Comeback Player of the Year has now entered the minds of many, but Byrd isn’t the only one having a remarkable comeback in 2013. Doug Miller of MLB.com does a nice job of sizing up the competition last week:

  • Chase Utley, Phillies: The perennial All-Star second baseman’s 2011 and ’12 campaigns were shortened and essentially ruined by knee problems, and many were questioning if he’d ever be the same. Utley has answered a lot of those questions in a bounceback season during which he has gotten his OPS back up to .848 and hit 15 homers.
  • Francisco Liriano, Pirates: Liriano was a combined 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA last year while pitching for the Twins and White Sox. His problem was command — he walked 87 batters in 156 2/3 innings. This year, Liriano has been one of the big revelations on the incredible Pittsburgh team. He’s 13-5 with a 2.68 ERA and has 113 strikeouts and 45 walks in 114 innings.
  • Marlon Byrd, Mets: Byrd got a total of 143 big league at-bats with the Cubs and Red Sox in 2012 and didn’t do a whole lot with them, batting .210 with one homer and nine RBIs. This year, at the age of 35, Byrd has resurfaced in New York and made the most of his opportunity, batting. 282 with 18 homers and 63 RBIs.
  • Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: It’s tough to consider Tulowitzki a comeback candidate when he’s a perennial MVP candidate, but he fits the bill. Tulowitzki had only 181 at-bats last year, hitting eight homers while driving in 27 runs before groin problems prematurely ended his season. He had a lengthy stay on the disabled list this year, but he’s nevertheless hitting .305 with 20 homers and 65 RBIs.
  • Jayson Werth, Nationals: He hit only five homers and drove in 31 runs last year while garnering only 300 at-bats because of injury, but Werth’s power is back. Through Wednesday, he had a .930 OPS, 17 homers and 49 RBIs in 310 at-bats.

This isn’t going to be easy for Byrd, and he’s not the runaway leader as some are making him out to be. More so than that, while baseball fans can be very forgiving when it comes to PED suspensions, the ones who do the voting are not.

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Mets Hang On For 5-4 Win Over Phillies http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/mets-hang-on-for-5-4-win-over-phillies.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/mets-hang-on-for-5-4-win-over-phillies.html/#comments Sat, 20 Jul 2013 21:54:24 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=125424 wheeler rollins

Coming off a three-hit, one-run performance against the San Francisco Giants, Zack Wheeler was greeted by a Jimmy Rollins home run and lasted just 4.2 innings in the Mets 5-4 win over the Phillies.

In was Wheeler’s second start at Citi Field and just like his first one, was unable to complete five innings. The young righthander labored against the Phillies and allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks, but after 106 pitches and loading the bases, Terry Collins pulled him for Gonzalez Germen who struck out Dominic Brown to end the fifth. Wheeler struck out five.

The Mets needed another 4.1 innings from the bullpen a day after being burned for 8.0 innings in the series-opening loss. For the most part they did a great job of holding off the Phillies, but Bobby Parnell made things a bit scary when he was tagged for a two-run homer by Chase Utley in the ninth to bring the Phillies within one. After a double to the next batter, Murphy speared a scorcher for the third out to seal the Mets win.

Marlon Byrd had two hits and got the Mets on the board in a three-run first with an RBI single. David Wright went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Rookie Juan Lagares got a very rare start in center field and went 3-for-4 with an RBI-single, while Daniel Murphy had a pair of hits to go with an RBI and a run scored.

On Sunday, the Mets send Matt Harvey (7-2, 2.35) to the hill opposite Cliff Lee (10-3, 2.86) at 1:10 PM.

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These Mets Could Fight Their Way Out Of Mediocrity http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/these-mets-could-fight-their-way-out-of-mediocrity.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/these-mets-could-fight-their-way-out-of-mediocrity.html/#comments Sat, 20 Jul 2013 14:00:23 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=125389 ya gotta believe

Stephanie was in an optimistic mood after last night’s game, believe it or not, and it wasn’t due to the post-game Nas concert… This is her first full-length piece that isn’t a Player of the Week, enjoy her collection of thoughts after the game and play nice in the comments… (Satish R.)

Jeremy Hefner has never fared well against the Phillies. It’s just one of those weird baseball things, but the stats actually back it up, too. But bare me with here and do a little speculating. There’s no arguing that Hefner just didn’t have his best stuff last night, and that happens to even the best of pitchers. But say that after he came out of the game, Burke doesn’t give up the Michael Young homer. Let’s say he was able to retire him, and the next two batters as he did, and the score would be 8-0. Maybe that somehow compels Terry not to replace him with Edgin, and the Chase Utley homer never happens — so the score stays at 8-0. I know I sound completely irrational, but hang with me for a little bit. Now, that all being said, perhaps the Mets offense was able to do exactly what it did tonight. The David Wright ninth inning home run would have capped off a brilliant comeback, and all of a sudden people are chirping about how much fight this team has.

But since those home runs did happen, and the score was 13-8 in all actuality after 9 instead of 8-8, the Mets were instead tabbed as teases and the losers who always put together late efforts that amounted to too little, too late. Instead of tweeting “LOLMets” and letting my mood drop, I sat back and thought about this. The fact that our Mets, who struggle so badly scoring at home, were able to pull together 8 runs, is a very good sign — especially when we take note of the guys who were getting hits. Ike Davis went 2-for-4, John Buck went 2-for-5 and Juan Lagares went 2-3 after coming in as a pinch hitter. Small sample size? Obviously, but these are the guys that we need to see start hitting, and it needs to start somewhere.

The amazing thing, and somewhat disappointing simultaneously, is that eight runs might have been enough to take a win during any other Hefner start — or rather, any other start recently for that matter. Harvey can only dream of his team pulling together run support like that! If the Mets want to get to .500, offense is crucial. They’ve already gotten everything they could have asked for out of their starting pitching. Mix what you saw tonight from the offense plus what you’ve been seeing from the starting pitching and you see a team very capable of fighting their way back to .500 — maybe even beyond. I know that the Mets aren’t going to start averaging eight runs a game or something outlandish like that, but they have the potential to start producing. Don’t let one bad start by Hefner — which, for all intents and purposes, he was probably due for — change your perception of what he’s given to the team the eight or so starts before last night. He’ll most definitely pull himself together and give you the kind of effort he has been for the past month in his next outing, which is all you could possibly ask from him.

My point, though? Last night’s game was actually a POSITIVE sign. Not trying to beat a dead horse here, but the fight in this team IS real, and it is so important! Being in an 11-0 hole and coming back to score eight runs shows incredible determination. They were well aware of their position, but not one player hung their head and said “Why bother? It’s over.” They racked up hits, got on base and were one Josh Satin swing away from being right back in the game.

That’s the kind of play that the Mets could give you this second half — and that’s what could allow them to hit .500 again. The ol’ Yogi Berra “It ain’t over till it’s over” line is what the Mets need to live by, and they need to stop at nothing to let people know that. Last year, it seemed like they had all given up by August, but not this year. By August, you could see a team busting its butt every game to climb back to .500. Call me crazy, call me unreasonable, call me delusional. All I’m saying is that the Mets have been playing very good ball as of late, and take away one bad starting pitching performance from a guy who has NEVER faired out well against the Phillies and you’ve got something here.

I never like to throw in the towel. Ya gotta believe!

ya gotta believe button

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Mets vs Phillies: Hefner Takes On Hamels To Begin Weekend Series http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/mets-vs-phillies-jeremy-hefner-has-a-1-50-era-in-18-innings-this-month.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/mets-vs-phillies-jeremy-hefner-has-a-1-50-era-in-18-innings-this-month.html/#comments Fri, 21 Jun 2013 19:29:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=122735 jeremy hefner

New York Mets vs Philadelphia Phillies

Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia • 7:05 PM

RHP Jeremy Hefner (1-6, 3.96) vs LHP Cole Hamels (2-10, 4.40)

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Starting Lineup

  1. Eric Young, Jr – LF
  2. Daniel Murphy – 2B
  3. David Wright – 3B
  4. Marlon Byrd – RF
  5. Lucas Duda – 1B
  6. Anthony Recker – C
  7. Juan Lagares – CF
  8. Omar Quintanilla – SS
  9. Jeremy Hefner – RHP

Game Notes

New York took three of five from the Braves in Atlanta to become the first road team to win a series at Turner Field this year. The Mets continue their 11-game, four-city road trip with three games in Philadelphia, before a two-game series vs. the White Sox and a make-up game at Colorado to conclude the road trip on June 27.

Jeremy Hefner gets the ball for the Mets, and he, too, has had a tough time notching victories, with just one win in 13 starts despite a 3.96 ERA. He has allowed just one earned run in each of his past three outings for a 1.50 ERA in 18.0 innings pitched.

Right-handed reliever Scott Atchison was placed on the disabled list with a strained right groin on Wednesday, and the Mets recalled outfielder Andrew Brown from Triple-A Las Vegas to take his spot. Brown homered in his lone at-bat since being recalled, a fifth-inning shot off Atlanta’s Mike Minor on Thursday.

Over the last 15 games, Mets starters have posted a 2.90 ERA (30 earned runs/93.0 innings), the eighth-best ERA in the majors over that span. They have allowed two or fewer runs in 10 of those 15 starts.

David Wright hit his 10th and 11th home runs of the season last night against the Braves. He is batting .304 with a .390 on-base and 38 RBI this season. Wright leads all NL third basemen in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, stolen bases, walks, hits and runs.

Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, who last appeared in a major league game May 20, has been activated from the DL for the series opener against the Mets.

After meeting with his former college coach, who is now managing Triple-A Tucson, Ike Davis homered twice, doubled and drove in three runs Thursday for Las Vegas. Terry Collins said Davis is making an effort to reduce the hitch in his swing while working with hitting coach George Greer as well as Wally Backman.

Game Preview

The Mets are moving up 95 to Philly this weekend for a series with the Phillies after taking 3 of 5 from the Braves this week. Yesterday the Mets held it together with solo shots with Wright (2 of them) and Brown followed by an RBI double by Satin later. Tonight Jeremy Hefner will be facing Cole Hamels.

Hefner is 1-6 this season over 75.0 innings with a 3.96 ERA. Hefner has pitched 18.0 innings in the month of June with a nice 1.50 ERA as he continues to prove why he should be in the rotation when Wheeler is fully added. His second start of the year was against the Phillies where he allowed 5 ER over 3.0 innings, so doing well tonight will be a nice statistical point to plot growth. The Phillies have the following numbers against him:

Rollins 3-7, 2 2B
Mayberry 1-4
Brown 2-2, HR
Howard 3-3, HR
Galvis o-2

The Mets draw a common foe in Cole Hamels tonight. Hamels is 2-10 (league leading in losses) on the season pitching 15 games, 94.0 innings with a 4.40 ERA. Hamels has been turning it around in June making three starts pitching 20.0 innings posting a 2.70 ERA and he did a good job against the Mets earlier this season allowing one earned run over 6.0 innings. The Mets have the following numbers against Cole:

Wright 18-54, 3 2B, 3B, 4 HR
Buck 2-25, 2 HR
Murphy 6-23, 2B, HR
Duda 1-12
Byrd 3-13
Young 3-8

Lets Go Mets!

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Duda Blasts Two Homers, But Phillies Clobber Hefner In 7-3 Loss http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/duda-blasts-two-homers-but-phillies-clobber-hefner-in-7-3-loss.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/duda-blasts-two-homers-but-phillies-clobber-hefner-in-7-3-loss.html/#comments Thu, 11 Apr 2013 12:25:23 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=113999 jeremy -hefner

The Philadelphia Phillies handed the Mets their first series loss of the season tonight as they pounded the Amazins’ by a score of 7-3 in a game that featured six home runs at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park.

Jeremy Hefner took the hill for the Mets and and for the second night in a row a Mets starting pitcher failed to get past the third inning. Hefner struggled right from the get-go surrendering five earned runs including home runs from Chase Utley and Dominic Brown. All of his offerings were up and in the hot zone and the Phillies made him pay dearly for it.

Regarding the poor performances of both Dillon Gee and Hefner, Terry Collins had this to say:

“Obviously they are both command guys. They live and die with the command of their pitches. Both guys were behind in the counts and that’s not them. When those kind of guys get behind, they are going to get hurt.”

Yeah… Right….

The bullpen was forced to deliver six innings of relief for the second night in a row and once again it was a mixed bag.

Josh Edgin was nearly flawless, delivering two scoreless innings and striking out four in his sixth appearance of the season with a 1.59 ERA. He won’t last long at this pace. Scott Rice and Bobby Parnell also kept the Phillies off the board.

LaTroy Hawkins was nailed for a two run homer and his ERA has now ballooned to 8.59 so far this season. He’s not missing any bats and hitters are feasting on him.

Lucas Duda had a coming out party with two home runs and a double and he’s getting his mojo back. He has his average up to .308 now and looks very comfortable at the plate again and he’s driving the ball. Even hs outs are hard-hit line drives. Good for him…

Jordany Valdespin is an absolute stud and made Terry Collins eat his words tonight with two more spectacular catches in centerfield that were jaw-dropping grabs.

On Opening Day, when Collins was asked why Valdespin didn’t win a starting job after arguably the best offensive performance in spring training, he responded, “We’re very concerned about Jordany’s outfield defense.” You may want to get your eyes examined, Skip…

Valdespin was a catalyst both on the field and at the plate where he banged out three hits while batting leadoff in his first start of the season. It was the first three-hit game of his career and they were all infield singles that relied on his blazing speed.

Despite back to back solid performances by ‘Spin, there’s no guarantee he’ll be in the lineup the next time the Mets take the field. “We have a lefty Friday,” Collins said. “That’s a good chance to get Cowgill in there.”

Is this guy kidding me???

Did someone say John Buck? Man oh man, Buck is on one of the hottest hitters in baseball right now. He is unstoppable and at this point pitchers have got to be nuts for trying to get a fastball by him. His eyes expand as big as golf balls and he makes a meal out of them.

Buck hit his fifth homer of the season, matching what all the Mets catchers combined to hit last season.  I have no idea how long this hot-streak will last, but I’m buckled in and I’m enjoying the thrill ride.

Right now, the Mets have just two reliable pitchers in the rotation and it doesn’t look like there’s any urgency to fix the backend of the rotation. That spells doom for the bullpen who may become completely gassed before the end of the month.

When that happens, it will be a struggle to avoid a 90 loss season, and even the eventual debuts of Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud won’t keep that from happening. This team is in trouble and needs some real production from David Wright who has yet to homer, and Ike Davis who looks like a butcher at the plate. It’s not time to hit the panic button yet, but it’s certainly time to start passing around the life jackets just in case.

The Mets are off tomorrow and travel to Minnesota for a three-game weekend series that begins Friday night. Collins has got a lot of thinking to do tomorrow, and he may want to start by reconsidering some of his ill-advised lineup and roster decisions.

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NL East Report: Stanton Homerless, Halladay Rocked, Upton and Harper Blasting Off http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/nl-east-report-stanton-homerless-halladay-rocked-upton-and-harper-blasting-off.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/nl-east-report-stanton-homerless-halladay-rocked-upton-and-harper-blasting-off.html/#comments Tue, 09 Apr 2013 15:00:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=113312 KEEP YOUR ENEMIES CLOSER!

KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE AND YOUR ENEMIES CLOSER!

Team News and Notes

Atlanta Braves (6-1)

The Braves currently sit in first place in the NL East, and new addition Justin Upton is a major reason why. The 25-year-old has batted .423/.448/1.192 to start the season, with six bombs and eight RBI. The other half of the Upton brothers, B.J., has struggled to hit himself out of a barn batting just .120 to date. On the mound, the wily veteran Tim Hudson is back to work with a record of 1-0, and a 3.27 ERA to start the year. Paul Maholm hasn’t given up a run in 12 2/3 innings, and Mike Minor was solid in his first start as well, while youngster Julio Teheran struggled.   

Washington Nationals (4-2)

Bryce Harper was the story during the opening week as he belted three home runs, including two on Opening Day. Stephen Strasburg fired seven shutout innings on Opening Day, but got roughed up for six earned runs in his second start. Gio Gonzalez, Ross Detwiler, and Jordan Zimmerman all went six innings in their starts and allowed just one earned run combined. 

Philadelphia Phillies (2-5)

Opening Day starter Cole Hamels got pounded over his first two starts of the season, giving up an astounding 13 earned runs over his 10 innings of work. Conversely, Cliff Lee twirled an eight inning gem, allowing just two hits and striking out eight in his first start. Ryan Howard has started out slow, batting .148 with 10 punch-outs in just 27 at-bats. Chase Utley, on the other hand has burst out of the gate on fire. The second baseman is batting .370/.400/.630, with one home run, seven RBI and two doubles. Lastly, are we seeing the beginning of the end for Roy Halladay? The righty has seen a drop in his velocity, and has an unsightly ERA of 14.73 over his first two starts of 2013. 

Miami Marlins (1-6)

The Marlins have stumbled out of the gate, and did not score a run until the second inning of their third game of the season. Giancarlo Stanton has struggled with little support around him, and is batting .174/.367/.261 with no home runs or RBI, and just one run scored. Jose Fernandez made his debut against the Mets on Sunday, and dazzled for the first five innings, striking out eight, but received a no-decision.

Injury Report

Nationals: Adam LaRoche is currently day-to-day with a stiff back. Reliever Christian Garcia is on the DL with partial tear in his forearm tendon.

Braves: Jonny Venters (elbow) was shut down for four weeks on April 2, and may be out for the first two months. Brandon Beachy (Tommy John surgery) and Brian McCann (offseason shoulder surgery) were placed on the DL on March 29, both retroactive to March 22.  McCann may start a possible rehab assignment by mid-April, and could be activated by late April, while Beachy could return by midseason. Freddie Freeman was placed on the DL with a strained oblique on April 7, and may need 2-3 weeks to recover.

Phillies: Delmon Young (ankle) played the outfield for the first time this spring on April 1, with the hope that he returns sometime in May.

Marlins: Casey Kotchman was placed on the DL, retroactive to April 4, with a strained hamstring. Logan Morrison is currently on the 60-day DL, as he recovers from a torn patella tendon that required surgery last September. Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi are both on the DL with right shoulder inflammation. Alvarez has resumed a throwing program, and could return by early May, while Eovaldi is out indefinitely.

Upcoming Schedules (4/8-4/14) 

Nationals: (CWS, 4/9-4/11), (ATL, 4/12-4/14)

Braves: (@FLA, 4/8-4/10), (@WSH, 4/12-4/14)

Phillies: (NYM, 4/8-4/10), (@MIA, 4/12-4/14)

Marlins: (ATL, 4/8-4-10) (PHI, 4/12-4/14)

Suspensions

Carlos Ruiz: The Phillies backstop will continue to serve his 25-game suspension to start the season.

Is Justin Upton the heir apparent to Chipper "Larry" Jones?

Is Justin Upton the heir apparent to Chipper “Larry” Jones?

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Series Preview: Mets Head To Philly After Solid Homestand http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/series-preview-mets-head-to-philadelphia-after-promising-homestand.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/series-preview-mets-head-to-philadelphia-after-promising-homestand.html/#comments Mon, 08 Apr 2013 12:00:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=113584

Ryan Howard is not the player he used to be.

The Mets begin a three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies tonight at Citizens Bank Park, their first road series of the year and their first against a decent team.

Tha Phillies are currently at a crossroads. Where health and age meet talent. The Phillies are getting older, and this may be their last year to make a run at the World Series, although it’s very unlikely. The Phillies went 81-81 last season, spending half the year without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. They have both back this year, but neither is the same player they used to be. Howard struck out in a career-high 33.9% of his plate appearances, while batting just .219. 57.1% of the balls he hit last year were ground balls. That’s significantly higher than his 39.4% career average, and a bad sign for a slugger. Utley has been slowly losing his power. His Isolated Slugging Percentage (ISO) was just .173 last season, compared to a .213 career average. A healthy spring training does not necessarily mean a better year for those two either, as they are both another year older and another year slower.

The pitching staff isn’t looking much better, either. After losing Joe Blanton and Vance Worley, the Phillies’ once-great rotation is lacking depth. And although it appears Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are as good as ever, Roy Halladay is showing signs of age. He had a 4.49 ERA in 25 starts last year, and hasn’t looked much better this year.

While there is an outside chance the Phillies make the playoffs, it’s unlikely. They are only a shell of the group that dominated the division a few years ago, and they will only be getting worse from here as their expensive assets become less tradeable with age. Nonetheless, they are probably about on-par with the Mets right now, which will make this series a fun one to watch.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Matt Harvey (2012: 59.1 IP, 141 ERA+, 2.69 K/BB) vs. Roy Halladay (2012: 156.1 IP, 89 ERA+, 3.67 K/BB)

Halladay hasn’t been himself lately, struggling this spring and in his first start, in which he went 3.1 innings, allowing five runs and two home runs. Jayson Stark of ESPN.com talked to a scout about Hallday. Here is some of what he said:

“If you didn’t know it was Roy Halladay out there,” he said, “you would say, ‘This guy looks like a journeyman.’”

A journeyman. For more than a decade, that would have been the last word anyone ever would have attached to a description of Roy Halladay. But now he finds himself a few weeks from his 36th birthday with more than 33,000 pitches on the odometer. And all of a sudden, the same scout said, “he looks like a guy who doesn’t have a whole lot left in his tank.”

“I didn’t see anything alarming,” the scout went on. “Nothing where you’d say he’s doing this or doing that, and that’s what was wrong. I just think he’s thrown a lot of pitches over the years. He’s always kept himself in great shape, so it isn’t that. But you’ve only got so many throws in that arm.”

He may be right: this may be the end for Halladay

Game 2: Dillon Gee (2012: 109.2 IP, 94 ERA+,3.34 K/BB) vs. Cliff Lee (2012: 211 IP, 127 ERA+, 7.39 K/BB)

Lee was horribly unlucky last season. Despite posting a 3.16 ERA and 3.06 xFIP (first in baseball), the Phillies lost most of the games Lee started. His win-loss record from last year is completely misleading. He is still one of the best in the game, walking only 1.219 batters per nine while striking out 8.8. In his last outing, Lee tossed eight shutout innings, allowing just two hits and striking out eight.

Game 3: Jeremy Hefner (2012: 93.2 IP, 76 ERA+, 3.44 K/BB) vs. Kyle Kendrick (2012: 159.1 IP, 103 ERA+, 2.37 K/BB)

Kendrick has proven himself to be a solid option at the back of the rotation with an occasional stint as a long man. With a career 4.7 K/9 rate, he doesn’t dominate, but he doesn’t walk too many hitters either, with a 2.61 BB/9 ratio. Kendrick allowed five runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings in his last start against Kansas City.

Series News & Notes

  • Carlos Ruiz, who batted .325 with a career-high of 16 home runs is still serving a 25-game suspension for violation of Major League Baseball’s drug policy.
  • The Mets have hit at least one home run in each of their first six games, the longest such stretch to open a season since New York hit a home run in six straight games to begin the 1987 campaign. That team went on to hit home runs in their first eight games.
  • David Wright played his 61st consecutive game without an error yesterday, extending the franchise record for third basemen. Lenny Randle is second on the list with 54 consecutive errorless games.
  • In his final start in 2012, Harvey allowed a leadoff home run to Jimmy Rollins on September 19…That was the only hit and run allowed by Harvey over seven innings as he racked up seven strikeouts in a no-decision…the Mets lost, 3-2.
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2013 Mets May Be Better Than You Think http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/2013-mets-may-be-better-than-you-think.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/2013-mets-may-be-better-than-you-think.html/#comments Mon, 01 Apr 2013 03:59:43 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=112360 The biggest hurdle preventing the Mets from finishing in third place are these guys.

The biggest hurdle preventing the Mets from finishing in third place are these guys.

The Major League Baseball season is almost under way, and you know what that means: prediction time! Alas, for Mets fans it seems like most predictions are not so favorable for our loveable Amazin’s, but pay no mind to those Negative Nancy’s. I’m here to give you some good news: the Mets are a decent team. Am I being subjective? Maybe a little, but that doesn’t mean I am wrong. I can very confidently say the Mets will not finish in last place, thanks to the always dependable Miami Marlins. However, I’m not going to stop there and say the Mets are destined for a fourth place finish. In fact, I think that by the time October rolls around and the season is over, the final standings showing will show the words “New York” next to the number 3 in the National League East. Not only that, but I think we will see their record being closer to the .500 mark than many are expecting. Here are a few reasons why:

1. The Phillies are old and declining

Everybody in the baseball world seems to have made it a foregone conclusion that the Phillies will finish in third place, being closer to the Braves and the Nationals than the Mets and the Marlins. I really don’t see it. I will acknowledge that Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are two of the best pitchers in baseball, and Roy Halladay is one of the best pitchers of this era. However, Halladay is up there in age (he’ll be 36 in May) and dealt with injuries last year. Even when he was pitching, he wasn’t too impressive. His velocity has dropped significantly this spring and it makes me wonder if he may not be that great anymore. Behind him, the Phillies have Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan. I’m pretty sure that combination is not going to produce many W’s.

On the flip side, let’s look at the Phillies biggest offensive threats:

Chase Utley – 34 years old, 83 games played in 2012.

Ryan Howard – 33 years old, 71 games played in 2012 producing a -1 WAR. (Fangraphs)

Jimmy Rollins – 34 years old, OPS the last three years: .694 (2010), .736 (2011), .743 (2012).

Then we get into the bats surrounding them and you realize there’s not much there either. For all the talk of how horrendous the Mets outfield is, the Phillies doesn’t look much better. Dominic Brown may have potential, and he had a great spring, but until he proves he can do it throughout 162 meaningful games, he’s still a question mark. Ben Revere can catch the ball and run like the wind, but he has 0 career home runs in over 1,000 at bats. Even Rey Ordonez thinks that’s pathetic. Laugh all you want about Lucas Duda, Colin Cowgill, and Marlon Byrd, but you cannot look at both outfields and tell me one has a significant advantage over the other.

2. Matt Harvey and Jon Niese

I am very appreciative of Johan Santana and everything he did for the Mets when he was healthy. News of his latest injury was very disappointing. That being said, I was not surprised at all by the news, and I don’t think it will have as much of an impact on the team as others do. I was completely prepared to have a rotation without Santana even before the news broke last night. Even if he was going to pitch this year, he is no longer the Johan Santana of old. This team has two new pitchers that are ready to anchor the rotation in Niese and Harvey. Let’s play the always popular comparison game. Here are some 2012 stats from two pitchers:

Pitcher A: 30 starts, 188 innings pitched, 6.77 K/9, 3.75 FIP, 4.18 xFIP, 2.9 WAR (Fangraphs)

Pitcher B: 30 starts, 190.1 innings pitched, 7.33 K/9, 3.80 FIP, 3.64 xFIP, 2.3 WAR (Fangraphs)

“Pitcher A” is Jered Weaver, who finished third in the AL Cy Young vote. “Pitcher B” is Jon Niese.

As we enter 2013, ZiPS projects Niese to improve on last year and finish with a WAR of 3.1, while it has Harvey finishing his first full season with a WAR of 2.5. That sounds like a pretty good 1-2 combination to me.

3. Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud

I will never understand why people will harp on an Opening Day roster as if it is the definitive way to define how your team is going to look throughout the season. At some point this year, barring any injuries, you are going to see Wheeler and d’Arnaud playing for this team. Both will make the team immediately better based on the talent they have. I don’t think it’s fair to expect them to have a Mike Trout-like impact, but with the way the Mets are handling them it’s assured that neither will come up until they are ready for the big leagues.

It’s also worth noting that, currently, the Mets are significantly better at the catching position this year. According to Fangraphs, the Josh Thole-Mike Nickeas combo produced a -0.8 WAR last season and both of them are starting 2013 in AAA. That alone makes John Buck’s measly 1.0 WAR look enticing.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you the Mets are going to win the National League East, but let’s look at two facts: the Marlins are awful and the Phillies have more bad omens than good. For those reasons, among the others I just mentioned, I think it is very feasible that the Mets will finish in third place this season. That may not be the loftiest of goals, but since the advent of two wild card teams it should be enough to keep things interesting for most of the season, since shooting for third place no longer means no chance at the playoffs.

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Playing Hard Versus Hardly Playing http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/09/playing-hard-versus-hardly-playing.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/09/playing-hard-versus-hardly-playing.html/#comments Mon, 27 Sep 2010 18:21:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=36497

Wins and losses mean very little these days for the Mets since being mathematically eliminated last week. That said, I was stunned by how the team responded after Chase Utley’s dirty take-out slide of Ruben Tejada last night. What ever happened to pride and respect?

Once again, the Mets shrunk in the face of adversity and took it on the chin. Once again I watched as the Mets get knocked down, thrown at, spiked and bulldozed, without any retaliation whatsoever.

Even a brushback pitch would have sufficed as Bobby Ojeda stated after the game. Something… Anything… But no, this bunch has no pride in themselves and certainly no fight in them either.

Whether it’s Utley, Victorino, Rollins or Howard, the Phillies have always pushed the Mets around and kicked sand in our faces. This ain’t the first time a Met ate some dirt and it’s certainly not the last time either. These Mets are pushovers. They wreak of fear… Fear of fighting… And fear of losing.

Bad things always happen to the Mets because they expect bad things too happen. The Mets never expect to win, they go into a game hoping they don’t lose.

Reyes and Wright had strong words after the game, but as usual did nothing during the game. They stood idly by on the sidelines and watched as their youngest and smallest teammate got runover by a freight train. They just looked on, devoid of any outward emotion… Not even a glare.

It’s easy to talk tough to a caged tiger, and our core players have mastered the ability to say the toughest things while in the safety and security of the team’s clubhouse. Their words didn’t impress me. Give me some action instead.

Dickey on the other hand, told it how it was, and this was what I wanted to hear from Wright or Reyes:

“Nobody is going to push us around. You’ve got to protect your teammates, for one. And you’ve got to show the other team you’re not going to roll over and let them step on your neck. That’s just part of the game. Any game. You don’t want to ever be a team that has the reputation you can be kicked around and you’re going to go back into the dugout at the end of the game with your tail between your legs.”

As much as I hate the Phillies, I envy the way they play the game, hard, the way it oughta be. If the Mets played that hard and aggressive, I wouldn’t even mind the other bullshit they put us through every season. There’s a big difference between going down swinging and just going down.

I want the Phillies to clinch the division either later today or tomorrow. I want them to jump and celebrate and spill champagne in front of the Mets. Maybe what this team really needs is to see how teams are rewarded for playing baseball the way the game was meant to be played.

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Chase Utley Out 6-8 Weeks http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/07/chase-utley-out-6-8-weeks.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/07/chase-utley-out-6-8-weeks.html/#comments Thu, 01 Jul 2010 18:40:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=30375

Peter Gammons of the MLB Network via Twitter is confirming Phillies second baseman Chase Utley will have surgery Thursday in New York to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb.

According to Comcast SportsNet, no timetable has been announced for his return, but typically a player needs six to eight weeks of recovery time before being ready for major league action.

In his last 10 games Utley is hitting .395 (15-for-38) with 11 RBIs. He is hitting .277 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs this season.

Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco is also on the disabled list. He has inflammation in his left elbow and was scheduled to seek a second opinion Thursday in New York. There is no update on Polanco’s status.

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Mets Fans Seeing Red On Their All-Star Ballots http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/06/mets-fans-seeing-red-on-their-all-star-ballots.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/06/mets-fans-seeing-red-on-their-all-star-ballots.html/#comments Fri, 18 Jun 2010 03:22:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=29155 Have you seen the updated vote totals for the National League All-Stars?  Apparently, Phillies fans have been stuffing the ballot boxes en masse.  According to mlb.com, as of June 15, seven of their eight starters rank in the top five in receiving votes at their respective positions.  Only Raul Ibanez (who was hitting .250 with 4 HR and 28 RBI entering last night’s game) failed to rank in the top five, coming in at #8 among National League outfielders.

Here is where each Phillies’ position player ranks among his peers in the voting for the 2010 All-Star Game, along with each player’s vote tally and stats through Tuesday night’s games:

First base:

1. Albert Pujols, Cardinals (2,093,649 votes)
2. Ryan Howard, Phillies (941,134 votes)
3. Prince Fielder, Brewers (614,703 votes)
4. Troy Glaus, Braves (559,290 votes)

Second base:

1. Chase Utley, Phillies (1,992,180 votes)
2. Martin Prado, Braves (895,458 votes)
3. Dan Uggla, Marlins (603,822 votes)
4. Rickie Weeks, Brewers (507,187 votes)

Third base:

1. Placido Polanco, Phillies (933,229 votes)
2. David Wright, Mets (754,455 votes)
3. Chipper Jones, Braves (702,702 votes)
4. Casey McGehee, Brewers (657,982 votes)

Shortstop:

1. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins (1,190,685 votes)
2. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies (992,887 votes)
3. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (702,165 votes)
4. Jose Reyes, Mets (493,913 votes)

Catcher:

1. Yadier Molina, Cardinals (1,047,411 votes)
2. Brian McCann, Braves (959,033 votes)
3. Ivan Rodriguez, Nationals (805,089 votes)
4. Carlos Ruiz, Phillies (745,844 votes)

Outfield:

1. Ryan Braun, Brewers (1,422,598 votes)
2. Jason Heyward, Braves (1,419,753 votes)
3. Andre Ethier, Dodgers (1,348,662 votes)
4. Jayson Werth, Phillies (1,124,831 votes)
5. Shane Victorino, Phillies (1,029,700 votes)
6. Matt Holliday, Cardinals (955,411 votes)
7. Matt Kemp, Dodgers (770,145 votes)
8. Raul Ibanez, Phillies (694,911 votes)

There are 14 players in the National League who have received at least 900,000 votes.  Six of them are Phillies.

Chase Utley deserves his spot at second base and Ryan Howard deserves to be second behind Albert Pujols.  But how can you explain Jimmy Rollins being second in the shortstop voting with almost one million votes when he has only played in 12 games this season?  Are the fans related to the voters who gave Rafael Palmeiro the 1999 Gold Glove Award at first base despite the fact that he was the Rangers’ designated hitter for all but 28 games that year?  Troy Tulowitzki (.305, 17 doubles, 9 HR, 33 RBI, leads all major league shortstops with 45 runs scored) is a far more deserving candidate at shotstop than Rollins.

Mets fans should be up in arms at the vote leader for third basemen.  Apparently, baseball fans believe Placido Polanco is having more of an All-Star season than David Wright.  This is the same Placido Polanco that is hitting .311, with 5 HR, 23 RBI and three stolen bases.  David Wright is hitting .291, with 12 HR and an NL-leading 52 RBI.  He also leads all NL third basemen in stolen bases with 11.  No other National League third baseman has more than five.

Also, how does Carlos Ruiz have more votes at the catcher position than Rod Barajas?  These are Ruiz’s numbers (.267, six doubles, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 14 runs scored) compared to Barajas’ numbers (.257, 10 doubles, 11 HR, 30 RBI, 26 runs scored).  Barajas leads all National League catchers in homers and RBI and is in the top five in doubles and runs scored.  Ruiz isn’t even in the top ten in homers, RBI, doubles and runs scored.

Here’s one final argument for Barajas that should open some eyes among voters.  As noted above, Ruiz’s stats for the entire season, regardless of opponent are as follows: (.267, six doubles, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 14 runs scored).  These are Barajas’ numbers against ONLY divisional rivals: (.341, nine doubles, 6 HR, 19 RBI, 17 runs scored).  Barajas’ cumulative numbers against the teams in his own division are better than Ruiz’s numbers against EVERY TEAM on the Phillies’ schedule.  Yet somehow, Ruiz appears to be the more worthy candidate if you look solely at the All-Star voting.

The way fans have stuffed the ballot boxes and online voting is reminiscent of something that happened more than half a century ago.

In 1957, fans of the Cincinnati Reds went on an All-Star voting frenzy.  Seven of the eight position players voted by fans to start the All-Star Game were members of the Reds.  Major League Baseball conducted an investigation of where the votes were being cast and found out that more than half the votes came from Cincinnati.

Commissioner Ford Frick decided to replace two of Cincinnati’s players who were voted to start the All-Star Game with the more worthy Willie Mays and Henry Aaron.  In addition to replacing Cincinnati’s players, Frick decided that fans were no longer going to vote for who they wanted to start in the Midsummer Classic.  That privilege was given to managers, coaches and players.  This rule stayed in effect until voting privileges were given back to the fans in 1970.

Should Bud Selig step in whenever fans of one particular team stuff the ballot boxes and online voting?  I’m not sure that should happen.  But something must be done to prevent scenarios that would send players to the All-Star Game who have spent the majority of the season on the DL (see Jimmy Rollins) or players who are barely registering on the radar (see Carlos Ruiz).

The Midsummer Classic should be about the best players in baseball, not whose fans can click on their mouse the fastest.  Let’s send the right players to the All-Star Game!

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Leave it to the Phillies http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/05/leave-it-to-the-phillies.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/05/leave-it-to-the-phillies.html/#comments Wed, 05 May 2010 14:48:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=26307 Leave it to the Phillies to temper our expectations.  Admittedly, I’m an avid fan of the Mets and Giants, so my hatred of the Phillies and Eagles and Philadelphia fans in general is bordering on unhealthy.  But one thing is for sure….the Phillies are damn good, and they kind of woke up the Mets and us fans in a big way this past weekend.

Riding an eight game winning streak, including a series opening thumping of the Phillies on Friday night, the Mets had to feel pretty good about climbing from last to first in two week’s time.  But the Phils and their new, shiny ace, Roy Halladay, flustered the Mets’ hitters and their bats made short work of Mike Pelfrey’s scoreless innning streak, roughing him up for six runs in just four innings, on the way to a 10-0 rout.  If that wasn’t enough, the Mets sent their ace Johan Santana to the hill against lefty slow-baller Jamie Moyer on Sunday night, and staked him to a 5-2 lead.  But guys like Victorino and Utley hit home runs against Johan, turning a 5-2 advantage into an 11-5 loss.

My blood starts boiling when I think of guys like Victorino and Utley and how they torture us, but you have to admit they sure can play baseball.  And they went deep on one of the best pitchers in the game, even if he has lost some of his velocity.  What this all does, if nothing else, is it reminds us just how far the Mets have to go to be real contenders.  We can let the 10-0 game go, because everything was going right for 8 games.  But that game Sunday is a game we should have won and didn’t.  And it might come back to bite us in September.

Granted, many of us thought the Mets would wallow near the bottom of the division all season, and they sparked an amazing turnaround against the suddenly mediocre Braves, Cubs and Dodgers.  So the fact we’re even talking about September and the fact that the Mets sit just 0.5 games back of the Phillies on May 5 after a horrendous start is still pretty remarkable.  However, Omar Minaya needs to realize that he’s still a few steps behind the Phillies, and should bolster the starting rotation now to help keep his team in contention.  He sure owes us that much, and owes it to himself.

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Here Come The Mets!!! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/04/here-come-the-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/04/here-come-the-mets.html/#comments Fri, 30 Apr 2010 07:47:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=25878

Just a little something to set the mood for the huge weekend series against the Phillies. Do you remember how down we all were only two weekends ago?

Now we’re the ones that are striking fear down the spines of opposing teams. Baseball is so amazing that way…

I have three things that I would love to see from the Mets tomorrow night…

#1 – Jon Niese uncorks a high and inside fastball that sends Victorino sprawling to the ground. As Victorino gets up he glares toward Niese and Niese glares right back at him. He goes down swinging at strike three.

#2 – After Barajas hits into a potential double play, Jeff Francoeur plows into Chase Utley who drops the ball and emerges from a cloud of dust with a bloody lip. Both batters are safe.

#3 – Of course we win the game, and K-Rod screams right into the Philly dugout as he raises his fist in the air!

Here’s to a kick-ass series!

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Mets Have Had Their “Phil”; Lose Again 6-2 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/08/mets-have-had-their-phil-lose-again-6-2.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/08/mets-have-had-their-phil-lose-again-6-2.html/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2009 00:29:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=11690 The Mets played a Monday matinee at Citi Field today and Bobby Parnell pitched well…to every hitter not named Ryan Howard.

Howard hit two home runs off Parnell to score the first five runs of the game for the Phillies.  That was all the offense they needed as they were able to defeat the Mets by the final score of 6-2.  The loss was the third straight for the Mets to the Phillies after winning the opener of the series on Friday night.  They ended their longest homestand of the year by winning only four of the 11 games played at Citi Field.

The game wasn’t the only thing the Mets lost as an MRI on Jeff Francoeur’s left thumb revealed a torn ligament.  In addition to Francoeur’s news, starting pitcher Johan Santana was scratched from tomorrow’s start due to discomfort in his elbow.  His start will be taken by Nelson Figueroa.

Things began eerily similar to Sunday’s game, as Parnell’s wildness put two of the first three hitters on base.  Shane Victorino was hit by a pitch to the delight of the handful of Mets fans in attendance and the dismay of the busloads of Phillies fans who seemed to have infested Citi Field all weekend.  After Victorino reached third base on a steal and subsequent throwing error, Chase Utley drew a walk.  Unfortunately, Parnell decided to find the strike zone with Ryan Howard at the plate.  He’ll learn.  He’s still young.  Howard connected on a long opposite-field home run to give the Phillies an early 3-0 lead.  It was the third three-run first-inning homer for the Phillies in the last two games.  It was also the 77th home run hit by a Phillie with men on base.  Compare that to the 74 HR the Mets have hit…period.

Oh, but Angel Pagan remembered yesterday very well.  He led off the bottom of the first inning with a routine pop-up to Chase Utley.  Recalling his inner Luis Castillo, Utley only used two hands instead of three and dropped the ball.  In an effort to throw out a hustling Pagan at second base, Utley’s throw sailed past Eric Bruntlett and into foul territory.  Someone must have yelled “free hot dogs and soda after the game” from the stands to bring back Little League memories for Angel Pagan.  He scampered his way around the bases for the “little league home run” to cut the Phillies’ lead to 3-1.  It was the second straight day Pagan had led off the game with a 120-yard dash around the bases.

The Mets added another run in the inning to make it a one-run game.  Gary Sheffield was able to leg out a triple on a ball hit into the rightfield corner.  Sheffield did a great job not re-injuring himself while debuting his “triples trot” around the bases.  He later scored on a sacrifice fly by Fernando Tatis.

Errors were aplenty at Citi Field today, as the two teams combined for five errors in the first three innings.  In addition to Chase Utley’s two errors on the same play, Gary Sheffield also botched a fly ball.  Apparently, his error was sponsored by the letter “D”, which stands for “doesn’t anybody here know how to catch the dang ball?”  The triples trot is for use on offense, not when trying to catch a fly ball in left field.  Fortunately for Sheffield and the Mets, the miscue did not lead to a run being scored.  Ryan Howard took care of that in the third inning.

Howard assumed the position against Parnell in the top of the third inning.  With Jayson Werth on base, Howard hit a towering fly ball to right that ultimately found its new home in the Pepsi Porch.  No word was given whether the blast altered air traffic patterns around LaGuardia Airport.  His second home run of the game (and 78th HR for the Phillies with men on base) gave the new Big Red Machine a 5-2 lead.  That was all Cliff Lee needed to continue his mastery over the National League.

After Pagan singled and was thrown out trying to steal second base, Lee proceeded to retire the next ten batters he faced.  Lee pitched seven brilliant innings, allowing two runs (both of which were unearned), six hits and no walks.  He finished the game with five strikeouts.  Relieving Lee in the eighth inning was former Met castoff Chan Ho Park, who thanked his former team by retiring them in order in his one inning of work.

The Phillies added an insurance run in the ninth inning off Pedro Feliciano to take away a save situation for Brad Lidge, but by then, the damage done by the masterful Cliff Lee was complete.  Lee is now 17-2 in his career against National League teams.  Since being traded to the Phillies, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner is 5-0 with a miniscule 0.68 ERA.

There wasn’t much positive news coming out of Citi Field for the Mets today, with the loss to the Phillies and the Francoeur and Santana injury news.  However, I did find two positives today.  First, Billy Wagner made his second appearance for the Mets since coming off the disabled list last Thursday.  Whereas most pitchers who have trade rumors distracting them pitch poorly, Wagner continued to be cool under the pressure.  He pitched another scoreless inning and picked up two more strikeouts.

Also, I was impressed with the manner in which lefty reliever Ken Takahashi gave the ball to Jerry Manuel after he was removed from the game in the seventh inning.  Whereas some relievers are upset when they are removed from a tight game at a critical juncture, Takahashi showed humility and poise.  He did not show up his manager and did not embarrass the team.

Takahashi’s one and a third innings of work also spared Mets fans from having to see Pat Misch brought into a game to get walloped by the Phillies again.  For his efforts, I give Ken Takahashi the game ball, although he’d probably just give it back.

The Mets will now fly to South Beach, where they will party the night away while Mets fans continue to wonder what went wrong with this season.  In between parties, they will also take time out to play some baseball.  The first game of the three-game series with the Marlins at recently renamed Land Shark Stadium (I’m telling you, that stadium has had more names than the Marlins have had fire sales) will be Tuesday at 7:10 PM.  Expect Nelson Figueroa to take the mound for the Mets and expect a one-hour rain delay at some point in the game as well.

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