Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 17, 2006
BASEBALL: Killing the King

As the saying goes, if you shoot at the king, you better kill him. With a 4-game lead on the Braves entering the three-game set at Shea opening with tonight's matchup of Pedro Martinez and Jorge Sosa, the Mets are shooting at the king in a big way. Things could hardly be aligned better for the Mets - Chipper's hurt, Jeff Francoeur has a .218 OBP, Marcus Giles has 1 RBI, the Braves' bullpen is in disarray, the Mets will miss Smoltz, and the three starters in this series (Sosa, Kyle Davies and Tim Hudson) have a combined ERA of 9.39 thus far, while the Mets are (other than Carlos Beltran's worrisome strained hamstring) firing on all cylinders and have been setting their rotation and bullpen to be ready for this series. In short, this may be an opportunity to put the Braves away early, and the Mets may not have a chance like this again until late September, if ever. You want to be a champion, you take those opportunities when they arise.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:26 AM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

In short, this may be an opportunity to put the Braves away early

Please. You don't "put a team away" 15 games into the season. Ever. Period.

If the Mets sweep, the Braves will be 8 games back with 137 games left to play.

Posted by: Al at April 17, 2006 9:56 AM

Al-

Your comments are generally true, but if you look back at certain leagues/divisions, you'll see that psychologically as well as in the loss column, some good teams have buried the opposition for good before Memorial Day: '53 NL, '86 NL East (when the White Rat conceded the division in May), '84 AL East, '98 AL East, '01 AL West, and many others. Even the '90 Reds, who eventually won it all, coasted home with a mediocre 4 month finish, after a torrid April-May.

A flukey team getting off to a 7-2 start or running into mid-May at 24-16 is one thing. But a good team, 7 1/2 games up on May 1, looking at maybe a 25-8 record, is mighty hard to catch.

I think that's what Crank's talking about.

Posted by: Mike at April 17, 2006 10:18 AM

I think the Mets and Braves have pitching problems. The Braves starting pitching has some questions, and Leo is not around to answer them this time. The Mets have some middle relief issues. In the end, I would rather have the middle relief problems, since really, everyone has that issue. If they were better, they would either be starters or 8th and 9th inning guys.

The Met offense is probably very real. Too many good hitters, and the inexperienced ones have real talent. The next real problem they face is what to do with Kaz Matsui. He is not nearly the fielder Hernandez is, but with Hernandez hitting at the Belanger level, he might have to sit. For all of Kaz's issues, if he fields OK, and hits .250, then it's an improvment.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at April 17, 2006 10:48 AM

The Braves really cannot be put away early because they are the Braves - like the Yankees, they will tend to believe that they can recover even if they go down 8-10 games early on. Nevertheless, it would be nice to put them in that hole anyway. More realistically, if the Mets take two, they'll enjoy a quite nice 5 game lead, and be able to feel that they are legitimate.

Posted by: Jerry at April 17, 2006 11:16 AM

I think putting the Braves away will be a plateau breaker for the Mets.

As it has been documented, the Mets usually fall short with the Braves in these early season series. It's definitely a mind set, and not necessarily a talent issue to overcome.

If they get this series under their belt, it goes a long way for the legitimacy to set into the Mets mindset. Maintaining a five game lead in a diviision that is obviously not what it was is almost a lock for the playoffs. This is not the NL East of last year. Florida and Washington are most certainly out of it, the Phillies and Braves need to right their own ships before being truly competitive.

Posted by: Mike at April 17, 2006 1:44 PM

April wins and losses count equally with September wins nd losses. If the Mets can't do it now, they'll wish they did if they are 2 or 3 games behind in September. The whole world, at least those who follow baseball, will be watching this series. That's gotta put some pressure on both teams, but more so on the Mets because of their record so far.

Posted by: jim linnane at April 17, 2006 6:24 PM

Maybe we cant trade Victor Zambrano for Scott Kazmir! LOL!

Posted by: Greg Schreiber at April 17, 2006 9:37 PM

1 and 1 so far. Hudson vs. Glavine tonight. Should be a good one!

Posted by: Cousin Dave at April 19, 2006 3:14 PM

So much for putting away the Braves early...

Posted by: Gratitude at April 19, 2006 4:02 PM

I missed most of today's game, but apparently Young Mr. Wright didn't have his best game in the field. At least Glavine's hot start seems to be legit.

Pedro & Glavine look solid, Trachsel's what he is, and Bannister will probably end up as a number 5 starter type. As to "The Other Guy," the one who's last in the alphabet and last in our hearts? Here's what I said about him this morning:

http://mikesneighborhood.blogspot.com/2006/04/attack-of-killer-zambies.html

He's gotta go.

Posted by: Mike at April 19, 2006 4:58 PM
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