Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 4, 2006
Ladies & Gentlemen, Your First Place New York Mets
Hey, Crank readers. My name is Mike, and a few of you may recognize me as one of the annoying guys who posts comments, complete with shameless links to my own blog, Mike's Neighborhood, every darn day. Well, last night I received a very nice e-mail from the Crank, informing me that he'll be out of town for a few days. Ok, you're thinking, "Uhhh, gee Mike, that's really exciting. And you've hacked into the Cranks's blog to tell us this why, exactly? Now get outta here, and leave us alone."
But the funny thing is, Crank invited me to "guest blog" for him in his stead. And, yes, I agree with you: he's must be completely insane. But, far be it for me to correct someone else's shocking lapse in judgment when my own self-interest is at stake. So, with no further ado, Met fans & baseball fans alike, I present for your reading pleasure -- as well as for a great opportunity for me to crank it up and generate some traffic at my own site ("Crank" it up, get it? . . . as in Crank, you know the guy who's blog . . . ohhh, never mind) -- an inartfully edited compilation of the last two Mets posts from my blog, Mike's Neighborhood. A few of the statistics cited may be sliiiiightly off, due to my posting these earlier in the week. But they're close, So gimme a break, will ya?
Oh, and Enjoy:
Forty-four. Henry Aaron's number, yes. Also Reggie's, after he went to the Yanks. And Everlastings Milledge is the latest in a long line of players to wear that super-cool number in Queens.
It's also the Met's magic Number: 44. And counting. A few Random Thoughts for your Friday morning pleasure:
Two Princes: The would-be "Prince of New York," Young David Wright is tired. I think he needs a break. The guy's 23 years-old, he's played one full season in the majors before this, and he had an excellent first half. Then he appeared in the freaking Home Run Derby, then the All-Star Game itself, before quick stops on Letterman, at the White House, before the UN General Assembly, the Jedi Council, and the Interstellar Federation. Heck, he introduced Bruce Sutter at his Hall of Fame induction last week. (Very moving speech, by the way, what with crediting him for inventing the split-finger fast ball and all. Charming anecdote about watching him in the '82 Series, two months before he was born . . .)
Mr. Wright hasn't had any serious time off! And from the looks of things lately, he needs it.
Yes, I know Keith Hernandez's saying Wright's "pulling off the ball," but Keith says that about everyone. Albert Pujols goes 0-for-3 with a walk? Pulling off the ball. Tony Gwynn hit only .312 one season? Pulling off the ball. Barry Bonds' head grows to epic proportions and he's so gimpy he can hardly walk? Pulling off the ball. China's economic growth rate dips to 6.4 %?
Ok, you get the idea.
Maybe Wright's pulling off the ball. Ok. But why is my question. His approach at the plate looks the same to me. Since the end of June, he's walked 14 times in 94 ABs, a little bit more than earlier in the year. I don't think the problem's mental, or at least it wasn't at first.
I think he's tired. Last season, you may remember, Wright began to slow down a bit in July. I don't have breakdowns of every game from last season, but I know he hit 307/345/505 for the month. Lowest OBP for any month, and still about 20 points below the season SLG. And that includes a very hot stretch immediately after the All-Star Break. And of course he went on to carry the team in August, behind 378/470/633 numbers.
I distinctly recall thinking last year that he looked sluggish before the break, and that I hoped he'd recover with rest. His numbers before the break last year? 281/369/470. After? 333/409/582. Yet this season . . . no break. No rest. The slight dip he experienced going into the break has continued. His July numbers of 282/384/494, while not bad at all, are the lowest of any month this year by a large margin. Since the break? An ugly 277/365/415.
So am I saying he's doomed? No. Blaming him for living it up like a rock star, getting overexposed at J-Lo levels last month? Heck, no! The kid's 23. Thinking we've got "An Abreu" on our hands, that he messed up his swing in the Home Run Derby? Absolutely not (though I wish he'd skipped the stupid event).
I just think he needs a rest, and needs it badly. I'd give him an entire series off, either before or after an off day. 4 days rest. Kind of like his own All-Star break. We don't need him hitting 285/360/475 through August. We need him hitting 325/400/575 in October. That's when he'll really earn the "Derek Who?" label he's been flirting with.
And the right to flirt with the hottest chicks in NY.
MVP! MVP?: Like the emotionless & rampaging cyborg he was contructed to be, The Beltranator continues to destroy all that stands in its path. Its basically a line-drive smashing, bases loaded clearing, crooked number creating, Braves pitcher humiliating (8 homers against Bobby's Boys so far!), Met fan salivating monster. In the "Pure Power" department, other than late 80's Darryl, '00 Piazza, and maybe Wright last August, I'm not sure when I ever saw such a one man wrecking crew. I fully expect a homer from him every at-bat.
And I plan to lustily boo him if he fails in that regard. 4-for-5 with two doubles, a triple, 3 SBs and 4 runs scored? I'm booing. I want taters!
But seriously, as great as he's been, he's not the NL MVP at this point. Even with Beltran's 7 extra games, superior baserunning, far more value in the field, a ballpark disadvantage, & the league-leading RBI total . . . Phat Albert's the NL MVP. It takes a lot to overcome Beltran's advantages -- as of Tuesday -- of 8 runs, 7 RBIs, 7 2Bs and 10 SBs.
And Pujols brings them: 1 extra 3B, 1 extra HR, and 36 fewer batting outs. Beltran's been dominating. Just great. But in my opinion, he's just not quite in Pujols territory, because he requires far more outs to put up his numbers. But as you can see, he's probably the clear number two guy in the league. Amazing.
Tommy Strikezone: He's not in the zone. I don't wanna pile on, I really hope he turns it around, and I don't know exactly what to say. But this ain't working right now. He's been a BP pitcher for a couple months, and his post-all star break numbers aren't even acceptable: 21 2/3 IP, 30 H, 12 BB, 9 K, 3 HR. 6.65/1.94. And, as if we need to see this horror show more accurately . . . he's yielded 3 unearned runs in those 4 starts, meaning he's been giving up nearly 8 runs per 9 IP since the break.
Glavine's 40 years old and hasn't had a great season in quite a few years now. The Mets need 6 innings of 3 runs or less from him come October. This is a requirement. Just like Pedro got his suspicious one month vacation, it's time for Tommy to have his. Free Pelfrey? How's about Lock Up Tommy. Enjoy your August, big guy, you earned it. See ya after Labor Day.
Cliff Floyd Has Missed 30 Games: No point to make. Just felt I needed to point that out.
The Loathsome Yanks: Abreu and Cory Lidle for 3 retarded dwarfs and a rusty bicycle chain. I hate Steinbrenner. Jerk.
And, yes, that is unbridled envy. What do you want me to say? With a pitching staff giving up runs by the bushel every other start, I'm thinking a .425 OBP guy and a serviceable arm might have been nice. More runs on one side of the ledger, less on the other. That's the idea of the game, right?
I Like The Pitching Portion of Our Trade: Omar, for whom I've had my share of unkind words, did what he had to do. Sanchez is out, he's gone. So Minaya went out and got a major league reliever to replace him. Period. Roberto Hernandez isn't great at this point, and while Duaner's better, he wasn't great either. Sorry, Met fans, but you'll have to admit that. His K/BB was under 2, and his K/9 was falling as the season progressed. He was good, and he had a rubber arm. But he wasn't dominating.
Anyhow, the key the trade isn't Hernandez, who can't be, won't be, and doesn't need to be as good as Sanchez. No, the key to the trade is . . . Aaron Heilman (the same guy who blew it last night. He has to step it up big time and start to throw like he did last year. And so far (or at least before last night's debacle), it's looking good. Before the blown game, since the end of his disastrous June, Heilman compliled 3.44/1.25 on 18 1/3 IP, 17 H, 6BB, 11 K. Not great, to be sure, and the K rate is waaaaay too low. But since the All-Star Break those numbers improve to 3.09/1.29 on 11 2/3, 11, 4, 7. Still not perfect, but they're in Sanchez range and a lot better than the gar-bage Heilman put up in late spring. He pitched well last night. Here's hoping he finds the magic of last year.
I Really Like the Hitting/Fielding Portion of the Trade: I didn't like Nady, for the reasons I mentioned last month: bad glove, poor approach at the plate, little indication of improvement. I like Endy "Every Met Fan's Secret Favorite Player" Chavez, even though I'm convinced he's hitting way, way over his head this year. He's an incredible fielder, only El Rapido has more speed, he's been very clutch so far, and he brings a bag full of fundamentals like bunting, base stealing, hitting the cut-off man, hitting behind the runner, etc.
I don't think Nady could spell "fundamentals."
Sanchez's injury meant Omar couldn't really get top value for Xavier, but that's what happens when your 8th inning guy has his cab rear-ended the day before the trading deadline.
(You think I'm joking, but I'm not. Look at Rule 37 (a) (2) (C) (iii) in the General Manager's Trading Deadline Handbook. Under "Freakish Car Accidents Involving Goggle-Wearing Relief Pitchers." Scroll down to the sentence beginning with, "Under such circumstances, you must move fundamentally unsound corner outfielders, even if you receive less than market value for their services . . ." Yes, that one. Read through it; Omar played it by the book, you gotta give him credit for pulling the trigger)
The Good Stuff: And finally, just to end things on the overwhelmingly positive note I feel it's my duty to bring to you, a few "Staggering Post All-Star Break Numbers From Selected Individual Hitters":
Carlos Delgado: 321/428/625, with 5 2B, 4 HR, 16 RBI and 12 BB in 56 official ABs. Ahhhhh, that feels better.
Endy Chavez: 333/385/500, albeit with only 39 plate appearences.
Oh, and this: he's managed to drive in 9 during that span!
Paul LoDuca: (and, no, these numbers are not a misprint): 371/426/468.
He can go 0-for the rest of the season and improve his career post all-star break numbers.
And finally . . . (you knew this one was coming), The Beltranator: 310/390/732, with 6 2B, 8 HR, 10 BB, 17 R and 28 RBI in 18 games and 71 official at-bats. Now that's some hitting!
Forty-four, folks. Forty-four.
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Thanks for indulging me, folks. Guess what? That was the shortest Mets post I've ever written (and it combined two pieces!). If you're curious -- uh-oh, shameless plug time -- swing on by my blog and check out some of my past Mets entries, as well as my irreverent take on politics, culture, religion, advertising, as well as an occasional appearence by talking elk and wise-cracking public figures.