Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 25, 2005
BASEBALL: Mets, Random
*I wasn't a big fan of the Kris Benson contract, but you certainly can't complain about the results so far. His wife has even produced more than the expected comic relief.
*I know I've made this point before, but Carlos Beltran this season is hitting .388/.653/.423 in the late innings of close games, .320/.569/.374 with men on base, .295/.547/.351 with runners in scoring position, .353/.569/.450 with runners on base and two outs, and .458/.958/.438 with a man on third and less than two outs. Complain, if you will, that Beltran has not hit enough, in general. But complaints that Beltran hasn't risen to the occasion in clutch situations are absurd. His problem has been the opposite of the A-Rod issue: he's come up with the big hits when needed, but he hasn't done enough to put games away in the first few innings.
*I've never seen a systematic study of the issue, but Marlon Anderson's remarkable success this year is further support for the idea that slap hitters who make a lot of contact are uniquely well-suited to pinch hitting duty.
*I was having the discussion again about Jeff Kent as a Hall of Fame candidate, a subject I intend to return to in more detail later. But here's the amazing thing: when the Mets traded Kent for Carlos Baerga, Kent had done nearly nothing to make himself a Hall of Fame candidate, and Baerga was washed up. Today, Baerga is still playing - and in the time since he proved himself decisively over the hill, Kent has been able to amass an arguable Hall of Fame career. Amazing.
*As frustrating as Jose Reyes has been - and doubly so, Willie Randolph's failure to understand that Reyes is not a leadoff man - consider that the average NL #1 and #2 hitters are batting .274/.285/.336 and .266/.396/.327 (and both of those OBP figures are up quite a bit in the past two weeks). So, the Mets aren't the only ones having trouble getting guys on base.
*Doug Minky's numbers, projected to 600 at bats: 29 homers and 72 walks. For all the concern about bringing in a 1B without any punch, that hasn't been the problem; it's his .227 batting average that's been killing him. Since June 1, Minky is batting .265/.515/.333. More of that, please.