Archives for posts with tag: Derek Lowe

THIS guy:

Cora Star-Ledger.jpgGod, I’ve been holding that in all night. 

My thanks to the Newark Star-Ledger for the photo.

There is little to say about last night’s game save that I have no proof that I completely called the sixth inning (but I did), and Andy Green worked a walk in his first Met at-bat (it’s true; I saw it and the papers back me up). 

Discussing the loss of Alex Cora’s grit and passion–I think the cool kids are calling it “grission”–would be more disheartening than discussing the plodding game management and shoddy pitching.  So as the cool kids used to say, I won’t go there.

Except that the Mets have lost Jose Reyes, Alex Cora, and Ramon Martinez to injury this year.  I have a feeling that if Wilson Valdez had even sniffed serviceability, he’d’ve gone down with a sinus infection.  And now I understand why Anderson Hernandez takes big, wild hacks at balls outside the strike zone.  If I had that kind of target on my back, I’d be swinging at pitches even if they’d decided to walk me.

Speaking of intentional walks: I’d like to go on record as stating that I HATE the intentional walk to bring up the pitcher’s spot.

Actually, scratch that.  I feel like making a list:

  • I HATE the intentional walk to bring up the pitcher’s spot;
  • I HATE the intentional walk to bring up a rookie pitcher who’s been out virtually the entire year, and had already matched his highest number of innings pitched;
  • I HATE the intentional walk to bring up the pitcher’s spot with fewer than two outs;
  • I HATE the intentional walk to bring up the pitcher’s spot with fewer than two outs and runners at second and third;
  • I HATE the intentional walk to bring up the pitcher’s spot for a team that’s still in the thick of a hunt for a playoff spot with a chance to break the game open;
  • I HATE the intentional walk to bring up the pitcher’s spot when your team’s 3-1 hole might as well be a 5-1, 6-1, 7-1, 8-1, 9-1, or, hell, 10-1 hole.

The San Francisco Giants’ bench is not as awful as the New York Mets’ bench.  Walk Edgar Renteria to face Nate Schierholtz?  If Jerry Manuel thought Bruce Bochy was going to let Joe Martinez bat with the bases loaded, one out, and a chance to break the game wide-open, he’s out of his mind.

I only bring it up because I generally hate the intentional walk as a tactic, and because, as I said, I called it.  If The Wife were a notary public, I’d’ve jotted the sequence down on my take-out napkin:

  • intentional walk to Renteria;
  • Giants sub Martinez for pinch-hitter;
  • Livan Hernandez attempts to induce the double play; pinch-hitter scores two;
  • Hernandez taken out for Elmer Dessens;
  • Dessens allows an RBI out;
  • Dessens gets out of the inning.

She’d’ve given it a seal; I’d’ve mailed it to myself in the past (I moonlight as a Timecop), and maybe saved myself a bit more grief.  But there comes to be a saturation point with grief, after which one can wring most of it out, but it’s still damp.  And that’s what I am, presently: damp with grief.

There’s an image.

I’m not saying I can manage in the major leagues.  I’m saying if I can guess that progression, and know it’ll end badly, and it happens anyway, then Mr. Manuel is not as crafty as I thought he was before the game began.  And I wasn’t high on him before the game began.

Don’t intentionally walk a guy when the next guy up will, more likely than not, be a man whose batting average is thirty points higher, and when the whole team is playing for something.  If this is it, if you believe your season is done, if you’re packing it in, have your tomato can of a starting pitcher GO AFTER EVERY GUY IN THE ORDER.  That’d be “grission” for you.  Ugh.

And now, in a replay of what I was lucky to miss because it happened in another state, the Mets face the Atlanta Braves, and Oliver Perez squares off against Derek Lowe. 

I’ll make it clear in case I haven’t: I have no time for Oliver Perez.  None.  That I’ve paid money for this experience cheeses me off all the more.  I’m setting the over/under on walks tonight at five and taking the over.

I’ll be getting there early, to boot; The Wife has never seen the new park and she and I will be walking all over it.  Bloating from too much beer and box frites today; photos and highlights to come tomorrow.

Let’s go Mets! (Right?  We still say that, cool or not?  “Let’s go Mets”?  Sure.  Let’s go Mets.)

**Word came via comment from Matthew Peaslee over at The Pittsburgh Peas that Section Five Twenty-Eight is the most recent “Featured Blog” on the MLBlogs home page, and to quote a Hungarian friend with short Achilles tendons, that pleases me much.

If you’ve somehow found your way to this pit of misery and despair, please check out Mr. Peaslee’s blog.  As for Mr. Peaslee himself, if he’s reading: I’ve got a short but packed day, but will email you specific thanks and thoughts later.  Cheers.

Advertisements

Busy day at the races; I shall have to be typically verbose when I get my sorry butt back home tonight (which will be through bitter rainstorms and the compulsory Friday night trip to see my parents).

An additional treat will be photos and words regarding the Frank Messina reading at Foley’s NY, of which I spoke yesterday.  Good time, good fun.  Later.

For now, something to hold you over.

Here’s the thing I came away with during last night’s game against the Atlanta Braves (L, 5-3).  We spoke about it, the event attendees and I, as it happened.

Top of the seventh.  Score tied, and remarkably so given that all three of the Mets’ patchwork outfield got steady work from Oliver Perez. (His walk count lowered from seven nine days ago to four last night.  Follow that?)  Righty Manny Acosta relieves Derek Lowe for the Braves. (Derek got jobbed by his infield and an odd strike zone last night.  Rare that this is the case, but the high-and-tight zone seemed to benefit Ollie.  But I was watching from a ways away, and drinking; I wonder what excuse I’d make were I a real reporter.)

Brian Schneider grounds out.  He was hitless last night, with a couple walks (one intentional).

One now must pinch-hit for Oliver Perez, who’d just gone over the magic number of pitches for anyone, and who wriggled out of a jam to end the sixth.  Who do you go to?

The Mets’ bench last night, excluding any Livan Hernandez pinch-hitting shenanigans, included:

  • Jeremy Reed (lefty batting .292 going into last night);
  • Angel Berroa (righty batting .136 going into last night);
  • Omir Santos (righty batting .268 going into last night); and
  • Fernando Tatis (righty batting .247 going into last night, and who once hit two grand slams in an inning).

There are thirteen pitchers currently on the Mets active roster.  With good reason.

Tatis popped out to second and we were all grateful that he could only possibly ground into a double play.

So everywhere we could look to find fault, we could not.  Without a viable fourth starter, and a fifth starter by committee, the Mets need to carry an extra arm or two.  Given the tie score late, one must save their strongest offensive weapons in case of emergency. 

The thought must’ve been: “Tatis gets on base.  Pagan’s been swinging well and Castillo’s got a hitting streak going.  We could eke out a run then slam the brakes on Atlanta.”

Except Tatis popped out, leaving no margin for error by Castillo, who was the weakest part of that equation.

The bench is less than exciting these days.  As for the relief corps, Feliciano walked the first guy he faced in the lower half of the frame and, well, if you were watching or not, you can figure out the rest.

It was a perfectly okay and understandable substitution, but if someone were to ask me next year or the year after or the year after how bad the injuries that befell the 2009 Mets hurt the team, this will be my anecdote.  It was a tidy little baseball game that ended badly.

I got called out, recently, for wearing my black Mets jersey.

“They’re no expansion team!  Where’s your pride?”

Must’ve left it in my other pocket.

I do own a black Mets jersey–the home alternate, which reads “Mets” on the front–and I wear it sometimes.  Always to ball games, with the black cap that I’ve whirled around so often in celebration of a run scored for the home team that it’s starting to buckle.  And underneath the jersey, my “I’m Calling It Shea” T-shirt which I ordered in late April yet arrived late May, taking the slow boat to Bay Ridge.  (I kid; there was a run on production.  It was well worth the wait.)

More on the jersey: it has the Shea patch on it; there’s no name or number on the back.  When The Wife got it for me as a Christmas gift, I was still unsure of what player to pick. 

I’ve seen people wear black with “Seaver” on the back.  Incorrect.  Incorrect, too, is the one black “Ryan” jersey I’ve seen, with the number 30.  I can’t believe one’s allowed to order such things.  Perhaps their wearer’s names were, respectively, Seaver and Ryan, but somehow I doubt it.

I’d considered a “Shea” with the number 08 on it, but while I must’ve gone to a couple dozen games at Shea (there were some very lean years in the Vargas household), I never felt like I owned the place: my best memory was a game I caught in the Mezzanine, sometime during my senior year of high school, and fearing the upper deck would collapse on me when chants began for Benny Agbayani. 

“AG-BA-YA-NI!” ::clap, clap, clap clap clap:: “AG-BA-YA-NI!” ::stomp, stomp, stomp stomp stomp:: 

I think he got a hit.  I don’t think the fear would be so terribly ingrained if cheers and foot-stomping hadn’t come, and that because of a hit with some impact on the game.  I’m somewhat ashamed for my fear, I admit.  Nothing to be done now; place be gone, yo.

I strongly considered getting “Franco,” 45, with perhaps the “C.”  These, I was told, were unavailable.  Perhaps for the best.

So the back remains blank.  I wear a black Mets home alt jersey from the last season at Shea Stadium.  This does not bother me.  The Wife, an alert and astute woman as ever there was, figured I wanted a jersey for going to ball games, where ketchup from hot dogs and grease from sausage-and-pepper sandwiches are attracted to me like bees to ball girls.  Rightfully, she thought black would better hide the stains of beer and pity and triumph and whatever coats the seats of the Coney Island-bound N train at night, as it leaves Queensboro Plaza.  NB: I’m told “it’s sweat and nothing else.”  Okay, buddy.

I have little excuse for the cap except to say that black goes with most things, until it’s faded.  Then it goes with almost nothing, but you’re committed.  But that’s my retort to the guy walking past me on Shore Road: my wife got it for me.  I eat like a five year-old.  You’re not wearing it.  Go about your business.

However, the Mets are a currently team full of rookies and super-rookies, and tired veterans past their prime, with a couple of superstar names doing the best they can.  They’re playing under-.500 ball in a brand-new ball park sagging under the weight of garish advertisements, and dripping with the sarcasm of fans who denote an appalling lack of history represented within its confines.  The park, in fact, is named after a bank.  I posit that this is about as close to an expansion team as I hope the Mets ever get.  Besides, to be truly authentic I’d have to wear a wool pinstriped Mets jersey.  I’m not wearing a wool pinstriped Mets jersey.

That’s enough about the jersey.

The Mets start their 10-game post-All Star Break road trip tonight in Atlanta.  Oliver Perez will face off against Derek Lowe, in my absolute worst nightmare. 

Derek Lowe is 8-7 over 19 games started and almost 113 innings pitched.  He’s walked a bit more than half the players he’s struck out (37 BB to 61 Ks), and he’s earning $15 million this year.

Oliver Perez is 2-2 over 6 games started and almost 27 innings pitched.  He’s walked 28.  Struck out 22.  He’s earning $12 million this year.

But he’s a lefty.

…I considered writing a paragraph here about extrapolating Perez’s stats to be comparable to Lowe’s in number of games pitched.  But that would be roundly unscientific; as stats-lite as this site is, I decline to presume borderline-sub-mediocrity as strongly as I decline to presume success.  I can’t predict the lights-out performance from Perez and fold that in there; neither can I swear that we’ll see the same thing start in and start out (though history’s on my side, there).  Do what I was going to do if you want: multiply each number in Ollie’s line by three.  See where it gets you.

As it stands, what stands out are the walks.  Follow the back-of-the-envelope logic here that walks are committed when a pitcher cannot get the ball to the catcher through the strike zone for a looking-or-swinging strike or a foul ball.  The fault for that pitch can either be with the pitcher, the catcher, the batter (especially if he’s Eddie Gaedel, I guess), or the umpire, who couldn’t tell a damned strike if he caught it in bed with his dog.  Where was that one, Blue?

Where was that one, indeed.

Eliminating the catcher from fault, and the batter, who’s a variable anyway, and the ump, who has every idea what a strike is and what a ball is (and leave my dog out of it, thank you very much) we’re left with the pitcher. 

Why is the pitcher at fault?  Does something hurt?  Does he not have the skill with which a professional can usually determine what pitch is appropriate to throw?  Something wrong at home?  What?  Tell us what it is, and we’ll do our best to fix it, by God.  We’re paying you all this money.  Imagine how much more we have invested in the rest of these mugs.

“My knee, Coach.  It’s my knee.  It hurts somewhere in the back, there.  That’s why I can’t make my pitches.”

Fine.  DL it is.  Perez walked seven of those 28 after missing about two months, for rehab.

$36 million over three years (Perez) is a long way from $60 million over four years (Lowe), but two months for seven walks and a victory is a long way, too, from two months and six victories, which is about the number Lowe collected in that span, along with a decent number of innings, saving your perhaps expensive, perhaps rebuilt bullpen. 

There’s a fiduciary myopia, there.

I will no doubt expound on this more tonight, following whatever happens in Atlanta.  I know it will be pouring in New York, both outside and inside Foley’s NY by the Empire State Building.  Frank Messina will be reading some Mets poetry.  As a student of letters, this I gotta see.