Archives for posts with tag: Johan Santana

I posted more recently than twenty-eight days ago, but talking about Chip Caray doesn’t count.

So what’d I miss?  Plenty.  And nothing.

Luis Castillo is gone.  No, he isn’t.  Yes, he is.  No, he isn’t.  Roy Halladay will be a Met.  No, he won’t.  Yes, he will.  Not unless the Mets pick up and move to the West Coast, and take their Dodger-esque ball park with them.  John Lackey’s a bigger wild card than It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s Charlie Kelly. (The preceding link is intended only for mature audiences.  Viewer discretion is advised.)

Alex Cora signed and Elmer Dessens either has or will very soon.  Brian Schneider, who was not on the radar, is completely off the radar, and Chris Coste is a Met, but he barely registered when he wasn’t, and I’m fine with keeping our relationship at that level.

So there.  That’s what’s transpired, it seems.  And a lot of maybes, coulds, and possiblies.  Enough to make me glad I’m not a sports journalist.  Not enough to make me stop daydreaming about it when I’m trying to calculate a company’s overhead, but enough nonetheless.

There’s vitriol, here.  Not seething; not yet.  But looking at my notes for the free agent starting pitchers posts that I either bailed on or got shanghaied away from (you choose your perspective), I’m dismayed by the prospects.  Todd Wellemeyer?  I was going to try and make a case for Todd Wellemeyer?

There’s more.  Oh, believe me, there’s more.

Ben Sheets’ only definitive, demonstrable use at this point would be as a prognosticator of rain delays.  Pay the man a token for his elbow, stick that by the home run apple in center, and designate the $10MM or $12MM that would’ve gone for the rest of him, for something else.

Hey, you know who’s a bajillion million trillion years old?  Bartolo Colon.

If Braden “Blooper” Looper, a former Met reliever, is considered for a spot in the team’s rotation, then I imagine Aaron Heilman’s head will explode.  And that might be reason alone to do it.  In an odd bit of confluence, Looper told Sporting News (you’ll click here for the report via Yahoo! Sports) that he’d be cool with signing with the Cubs.

And speaking of Cubs both potential and former, word is the Texas Rangers just paid $7.5 million for a year of Rich Harden.  Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times‘s Mariners Blog shows a northwesterner’s measured equanimity
in discussing the Mariners’ fortunes, in light of their NOT getting
their man.  I have a friend who called me up as the news was breaking. 
She sounded ready to throw a chair. 

I don’t know.  I’m with Baker.  Name a season in which Rich Harden’s thrown more than two hundred innings one hundred fifty innings.  …

An out below one hundred ninety in 2004.  He gave up five runs in one inning to the 2004 Reds, and Griffey had nothing to do with it.  Positively Perez-ish.

And speaking of that game? Justin Duchscherer replaced Harden during that inning.  Jerry Crasnick’s report from back in August may jog your memory re: Duchscherer.  I’m not pointing that out to say the guy couldn’t take the heat in New York or should have a strike against him as a result of his condition–far from it.  He’s either a competitor and should want to play where he can show he’s the best, or he should stop playing the game and do something else, which would be fine and great.  But he can’t come to the Mets after the Mets’ 2009 season, unless he’s literally made of steel.  Heavy-gauge steel.  Non-corrosive… you get the point.  A hip injury will lead to some kind of metal eventually, but certainly not now, and not in time to be a reasonable and inexpensive option.

And while I’m complaining about people with extended stays on the DL, I remain unconvinced that paying Erik Bedard anything more than a year, a plane ticket, and room and board is a good idea.  Bringing us back to the Seattle Times and Geoff Baker: word is he’ll already miss part of 2010.

Joel Piniero seems like a trap.  And Jayson Stark (as I read from Matt Cerrone’s redesigned Metsblog) is saying Piniero’s agent is worth more than a three-year, $10 million deal.  Expensive trap for a guy that just recently seemed to figure things out, at the Mets’ expense.

Noah Lowry hasn’t been right since 2007, and recently had a rib removed to help relieve a syndrome I’ve never even heard of.  And I once spent sixteen hours with Wikipedia, the complete Talking Heads discography, and a bottle of whiskey (a blizzard knocked out my cable).

Jarrod Washburn?  Uninspiring. 

And the only good thing about Brett Tomko, since at least 2005, has been Julia Schultz.

I can see Jon Garland as that aforementioned reasonable option in a typical off-season, but the dearth of real, electric talent means an inflated market for guys like Garland.  You don’t need me to tell you this; everyone’s shouting about it and, in this rare instance, it bears the rasp of scrutiny.  So Jon Garland’s $6.25 million in 2009 becomes 2010’s $10 million, or $6.25MM a year for multiple years, because the guy’s gotten tired of seeing his reaction to bad news caught by game cameras.

And that’s the thing.  There are two free agents out there who I’d hate to say anything bad about.  And I’ve had a rough four weeks, so I’m looking to say a bad word about any- and everyone I can.  And they will cost scads of cash.  SCADS, I tells ya.

First guy is Jason Marquis.  He’ll ask for A.J. Burnett numbers in cash if not years, and if you look at his 2009 quick line and Burnett’s 2009 quick line, they’re nearly identical (Marquis’s BAA is twenty points higher and his WHIP is two points lower).  So I think he’d have a solid case. 

Mostly, though, whenever I watch Jason Marquis pitch, I don’t get that knot in my stomach like I do when I watch A.J. Burnett.  Marquis doesn’t worry me.  I know his stats show a Romo-esque knack for fading down the stretch, but he doesn’t worry me.

So much of the conversation surrounding the 2010 Mets is going to be about peace of mind.  In the rotation, whoever follows Johan Santana has to inspire confidence.  That guy’s going to have to be a master craftsman, or a bulldog.

Or both, as the case may be.

I’ve made my feelings on John Lackey plain, at one point using the phrase “out of your gourd” to explain the mess that the 2010 rotation would look like given the numbers that were, then, kicking around about the man.  Five years, $80 million.  Six years, $100 million?  Who’s to say, besides his agent?

I forgot to mention that I’m writing not from the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, but from my exceedingly cold bedroom.  I have no idea what Garland, Marquis, or Lackey are asking for, cash or years-wise.  The trend appears to be richer contracts for lesser talent.

Brinkmanship is another trend, one that’s come together as I’ve read snippets of, and heard on the radio, and watched while putting up my Christmas tree and repainting walls has been alarming.  Seems as though everybody’s screwed, and have pushed their clubs to the limit in fear of being caught as last guy screwed. 

Despite talk of restraint prior to the meetings, there’s been no restraint. (Picking through Ken Rosenthal’s reports here.) Three years and $15 million for Brandon Lyon does not constitute restraint.  Neither does the aforementioned Harden deal, some $9 million for the wisdom of Kevin Millwood, nearly $12 million for Andy Pettitte (that’s just galling), or three years and $30 million for Randy Wolf.  This, good people, is King Midas in reverse.

Does not bode well.  Maybe I’ve had my nose in projected budgets and vendors’ insurance quotes for too long recently to see any sign of brightness in people throwing money, like confetti, out the figurative window, but I don’t think so.  I’m quite concerned that those three guys–Garland, Marquis, and Lackey–will slip to a team with a GM even battier than Omar Minaya, and we’ll be watching a Spring Training full of Kelvim Escobars and Lenny DiNardo retreads.

On that unhappy note, I’m going to bed.

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Hard not to get excited about a guy caught on national television yelling at Mike Scoscia. 

I’ve watched this video at least four times, and I’d embed it, except MLB.com doesn’t quite have their finger on the pulse of the nation.

“This is mine!  Are you s***ting me?  This is mine!  Scosc’…” [walks off mound, undefinable muttering and cursing].

It doesn’t quite have the outer space, Bo Diddley poetry of “I’m a man!” but I could feel the crush/man-crush** spreading across all strata of Met fandom.

Sure enough, Matt Cerrone of Metsblog addressed the potential Mets love, and caught Ed Leyro of Mets Merized Online backing it up with stats (see the Metsblog post, top third).  Kranepool Society’s on it, too. 

Here’s the Cot’s spreadsheet which includes John Lackey’s due this year; this is the general Cot’s page on the Angels (Lackey’s near-ish the top).  John Lackey’s Baseball-Reference page (sponsored by “Ricky”), and, because I think he’d be a good place to start my advanced stats training, his page on Fan Graphs.

This is what I get: the Mets kinda missed the boat, but word is he wants to play in Texas, anyway.  His bread and butter are named fastball and curveball, and that seems to be rehabilitating the man somewhat, as there’s a hiccup in his 2008 stats. 

Wikipedia has no answer for that hiccup (I’m a fan of Wikipedia), but I’ll keep looking.  Anyone who knows, feel free to give me an email shout.  The entry does mention he got tossed after his first two pitches OF THE SEASON this year.  Why?  Read here, by Lyle Spencer, on the Angels’ MLB website.  Video’s great, too.

See, now? I could’ve had two John Lackey video embeds in one post.  Damn it.

If the man would want to pitch anywhere where fastballs that become fly balls go to die, it’d be Citi Field.  I say this, of course, having only scratched the surface of his stats and having only watched him for two hours and change, commercials excluded. 

A guy entering the midlife of his career might enjoy the protection that Johan Santana provides in the rotation.  That’s what I get from Cerrone’s comments on the man.  Careful there, though, as you now have that third-hand.  That’s how the Spanish-American War got started.

No, it isn’t.

His money years should’ve been ’05, ’06, and certainly ’07, when he went 19-9, and pitched a healthy two hundred twenty-four innings.  If he did “take a discount,” that’s on him. (I’m not trying to kiss Cerrone’s ring over and over; I’m just lazy and in the middle of rushing through breakfast at 1:30p.)  No team should pay crazy money to a guy who, a year ago, was four full wins above replacement below his high.  I don’t care how he bounced back in ’09 or what he shouts to Mr. “Big-Machines-And-Cool-Dials-And-Stuff.-Like-An-Oil-Refinery,-Or-Hydro-Electric-Plant.”  (I will kiss John Swartzwelder’s ring, though.)

I hate to keep beating the same drum, over and over and over again… that’s not true; in this particular case, I enjoy it.  But if the Mets had any shot at giving Lackey what he wanted, it split last year. 

In other words, I know where $31 million of that supposed $80 million could’ve come from.  Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Here’s Randy Wolf for 2009 on a one-year, $5 million deal.  Here’s Fauxhawk in 2009, at $12 million for the first year of his three year contract.

You’d have to be out of your gourd to roll out a 2010 pitching rotation of:

  • Johan Santana: $21 million;
  • John Lackey: $16 million;
  • Oliver Perez: $12 million;
  • either Mike Pelfrey (free agent) or John Maine (arbitration year): $7 million’s a complete guess; Fauxhawk got $6.5 million in arbitration in 2008;
  • the Willets Point Mystery Bucket (5% curveballs, 5% stolen car parts, 90% chum): estimate unknowable

plus a closer (Frankie Rodriguez) for a little over $12 million. 

For those counting, that’s $45 million, confirmed, committed to pitching; add the pie-in-the-sky Lackey and Pelfrey/Maine numbers and that goes to $68 million.

So. Lackey was a great story; is a great story.  The man, by some measures, appears to be a beast.  I will be waving bye-bye to him, however, and content myself with the memory of last night, laughing so hard through a sneeze that I thought I was having a heart attack.

**Are “man-crushes” confined to men?  I take “man-crush” to mean someone you’re completely engrossed in, but not interested in canoodling with.  This is opposed to a regular crush, which is interchangeable and adds the canoodling.  I’m sure John Lackey’s a stand-up guy, but I doubt he can make pesto like my wife.

As it’s been a slow news day and I’ve been on hold for the past thirty minutes, occasionally having to enter the same ten-digit code to ensure I keep my place in line, allow me to conduct a little more business.

Readers voted to select my off-season profile pic; the choices were presented here.  If you don’t like clicking, this was the winner:

profilewright2.jpg…with me standing in for David Wright.  I was hopeful the winner would be one of the Santana photos, or even the one where John Maine looks like he’s just about to, or has just finished, passing a kidney stone.  Let the record show that I don’t rig my own votes.

I gave myself until November 1 to reproduce the shot as best I can, and I stand by that; work is underway, including the effort to find a suitable (or suitably hilarious) stand-in for Jose Reyes.

In the interim, however, I needed a shot of myself that didn’t include the “I’m Calling It Shea” shirt, which as I’ve stated is a fine message for 2009 but not for any part after the 2009 season.  I’ve put together a series of vaguely sports-related shots to stand in, each with their own funny–and blessedly short–story.

The first one you see on the page (below “About Me”) was taken at Bennington College, sometime around March 17th, 2005, when I visited a friend for his birthday.  The time was roughly one-thirty in the morning; some time later, I found myself wandering around the campus, kicking a rock like a soccer ball. 

To this day, I am unsure as to whether I broke a couple of toes in the process.  It was cold.  My foot hurt the next morning.  A LOT.  I never went to the hospital.

The hat belonged to my friend’s now ex-girlfriend.

Success!  I’m being transferred to the next available representative.  Cable-speed internet access, here we come!

I’m going to ramble, spitball, and generalize.  Bad ways to start a post-2009 entry.  But I have very general, very nebulous things on the mind.

If you’re desperate for the punch line, scroll down until you see, in bold, “This brings us back to the banana peel.”  But I’m no short-order cook, and this is a long boil, so read it all for full flavor.

I’m hungry.

As is often the case, I’ll start with the Times, which I keep swearing I’ll stop reading for baseball purposes, but can’t seem to get away:

“Back to the 2009 Yankees: they are quite likable as a group. The
players are, anyway. Their owners and top management are all too often
defined by haughtiness, greed and entitlement. In that sense, the
Yankees embody New York, where hauteur, avarice and entitlement are
hardly unknown. The Mets are almost polar opposites. Their fans know in
their bones that even when things seem to be going well, someone is sure to throw a banana peel in their path
.”

Emphasis mine; find the piece here, written by Clyde Haberman.

I don’t want to be that kind of fan, though I know sometimes I can be.  I know plenty of Mets fans who are, and they range from the remarkably astute and articulate to the “could you perhaps try breathing with your nose and NOT your mouth?”

But perhaps more importantly, I would like to no longer be perceived as that kind of fan.  I’ve written on a few occasions (do your own search on “fandom;” too lazy this morning to dig for links, and you might enjoy sifting) about the schism between Mets and Yankees fans, the level of entitlement, of perceived entitlement, and how I conduct my business as one who enjoys baseball.

I don’t grant the premise that to be a Mets fan means to be long-suffering, though many have suffered greatly.  I don’t recall on any occasion, after scanning my ticket for entry, being handed a promotional cross to bear, sponsored by Church’s Chicken.

Yes, there’s a Church’s Chicken franchise in New York City.  It’s on the corner of 44th and Eighth.

I thought, and to an extent still do think, that right thought will lead to right action, which will lead to right perception.  And while I batter the Buddha to my own baseball aims, I see that I’m going to have remarkable trouble making baseball friends this way, or managing not to sound like a know-it-all, or a smarmy sort of patzer, peddling his nonsense to people who are genuinely distressed, getting them to think positively until something bigger bursts their bubble.  Misery and company, you see. 

And someone with such a profound dislike of Sean Green and a fear that he may, somehow, return, should not be butchering Eastern religion so that he may get everyone off the page of “Woe is me,” or “This bites,” and onto the page of “We forgive you, Mets organization, but we have a list of grievances we’d like to file, in a collectively calm and reasoned manner.”

Lots of talk yesterday from Mets leaders reviewed by Mets bloggers, which, unless Will Leitch has scooped my idea to use Metsblog as a resource once more, you can find:

–here (Jerry Manuel at Citi Field; Michael Baron, why the long face? Who hurt you?);

–here (Omar Minaya and Jeff Wilpon from Citi Field);

–here (Messrs. Minaya and Wilpon on WFAN; read this while watching Monday Night Football. Green Bay, you embarrassed yourselves);

–here (germane to recent one-sided conversations I’ve had);

–and here.

There is little to find remarkably newsworthy in the conferences and interviews held.  Note that I did not state there was remarkably little to find newsworthy.  A subtle yet important difference.

Luis Alicea, first base coach, is out.  Sandy Alomar, bench coach, shifts about if he wants, or else splits.  Razor Shines, third base coach, stays pending re-assignment.  Dan Warthen stays.  Howard Johnson stays.  Jerry Manuel stays.  Omar Minaya stays. 

Payroll unaffected by Bernie Madoff’s criminality, but maybe Mr. Minaya will find some cost savings.  There will be more Mets imagery in the ball park next year.  There will be a prominent Mets museum (I’m now nearly convinced this will be over by that massively empty space behind center; just give me my museum as video academy and I’ll ride into the sunset).

Daniel Murphy will get better.  Oliver Perez (Fauxhawk) will have a good year again.  Injuries plagued the team.  Johan’s feeling great.

That’s the gist.

It is news that they came out and said these things.  But none of these things rise to the level of bombshell, and the presentation–I have to point out Caryn Rose’s excoriation, posted on her blog, as a prime example of “Yoikes”–left a bit to be desired.

I’m not trying to pull punches here.  I don’t feel as angry about this as others do because my expectations of upper management are different.  To an extent, my expectations are lower, but that’s mainly with with regard to their notes regarding the product on the field. 

And no, I can’t believe I wrote that either, but my observation in 2009 revealed to me baseball players who are fundamentally unsound and prone to injury.  Those grievances I take to the manager and the trainers.  I don’t expect Messrs. Minaya or Wilpon to break the matter down for me like I’m watching MLB Roundtripper or Baseball Tonight or SNY’s SportsNite. 

Instead, I expect them to have some idea of what they’re doing when they retain Jerry Manuel, who is responsible for the product on the field, as presented to him by the general manager.  Here we have the first of what will be many points in this off-season where I stop to suggest a question I believe should be asked.  (That was almost a sentence.  As I said: rambling.)

If the reason given to keep Jerry Manuel on was because his performance this year could not be adequately judged, and 2010 will provide the opportunity for a more balanced assessment:

  • was it argued–when discussing his larger body of work–that the product on the field this year could have avoided some of the errors in performance that sometimes led directly to losses, and if so, what was the outcome of that line of discussion? and,

  • is there a plan in place to re-evaluate matters if the 2010 Mets experience the same level of physical breakdown?

There’s more news in the answer of those questions than in simply saying he’ll be back because 2009 was atrocious and as such not appropriate for evaluation. 

It’s also easy to perceive a contradiction in describing the year as “unacceptable.” By not defining a root cause beyond injury yet retaining the training staff, you’ve either ignored or eliminated injury as a cause.  No one hears about reviewing training protocols or warm-ups or weight training.  They hear “unacceptable” and they want something equally stark done about it right just now. 

My concern is that no one in the Mets organization’s said Word One about what happens if these players, or other players, break down again, even with revised protocols and regimens.

On the whole, the conferences themselves seemed a way of quelling debate among fans and the media that was sure to grow coarser if silence followed Sunday.  Where senior management failed was in properly framing the debate prior to heading out there. 

Now, much like with the communication of injuries over the course of the season, I could ask whether failing to frame the debate was intentional or accidental; whether the goal was always to get the media and the blogosphere–don’t know why I separate them, but there you go–spinning its wheels while working privately to fix matters, or whether the fall-out from the conferences and the interview was unexpected.  At this point, the evidence
indicates the latter.

However, it could also be that the thought of the aftermath never occurs, or seems secondary to the work that needs to be done to pull together a champion organization.  The thought on the latter here would be that if the team were winning and winning convincingly, there’d be little to grouse about: “Yes, Mets fans, we hear you.  But if we kept worrying about trying to get to the end of this hamster wheel you call frank and honest discourse about this team we own, we wouldn’t be focused on getting you a team that could make the postseason and win on a regular basis, thus slowing down said hamster wheel.”

This brings us back to the banana peel.

The 2009 season was a fine illustration of just how many ways that banana peel can come at the Mets fan, and if you grab the average one at a party and ask them just what they think about Tony Bernazard, or the terrible onslaught of injuries, or a bases-loaded walk issued to a rival with their own boorish, loudmouthed fans, that Mets fan is going to feel just awful.

If nothing else sticks from this post; if nothing else has an impact that can make it to someone who can make a difference about it, let it be this: the 2009 season, with all of its horror and histrionics, has made a good number of fans embarrassed to be fans.

That word “embarrassed” is overused, too, but consider what it means: people have invested time and money in an entertainment product, and now they are open to abuse about that product.  These are not people who work for the Mets.  These are not shareholders.  All they did was hook onto a team.  And right now they feel like garbage.

For whatever reason they might feel like garbage, that they feel so is a tremendous problem–one that not a #2 pitcher, a left fielder, a catcher, or any back-up shortstop will fix. 

Winning might soothe it, until the next time the GM makes headlines by calling out a local reporter, or a manager makes comments about a guy’s twin concussions, or an executive vice president of business operations tries to parse the definition of “obstructed,” and makes a hash of it.  Then that fan is back to defending his team at the bar or at work or at the gym.

Lord, I cannot stress how important it is to grasp this concept.  Crawl into it, sleep in it, walk around with it for a couple of days: people spent lots of money to have fun, and instead they’re working to avoid feeling AWFUL.

Who the hell wants to do that?  Who wants to do MORE work? They’re not paid in tickets; the free hot dog came and went, and only with purchase to the game.  It’s horrible

I’ve advocated taking a break from the Mets when taking a break from them is warranted.  There are many other fantastic things with which to occupy your time.  I feel bad in that my entertainment is gone for six months, and the future does not look promising for extending next year beyond the obligatory.  But the angry people matter, too.  The ones anticipating the banana peels matter a great deal, and there is certainly no hope for them beyond praying for a good team.

The cheapest, easiest, most responsible thing that can be done to make the life of the average Mets fan a little easier is to get hard and expansive control of the message.  Take the discipline of the Bush Administration and coat liberally with the grassroots embrace of technology and expansiveness of applicable detail of the Obama Administration, and come out with a communications arm that’s capable of taking some of the heat off the fans that act as the team’s ambassadors.

I’ll say again: of the things on the 2010 To-Do List, it’s gotta be the cheapest, easiest, most responsible thing.  Don’t need an open door policy; don’t need to give away the Colonel’s secret recipe (I obviously could stand for some fried chicken).

But what must be done is put in place a structure by which the daily slings and arrows can be taken gracefully, and fans’ opinions considered and given voice, so that when seasons like 2009 happen again–and let’s hope baseball and the Mets last long enough so that we can see what it’s like to have a successful dynasty followed by the inevitable lean years–the team is prepared.

Be prepared.  Don’t bundle and announce and assert and bungle, like yesterday.  Finding an effective press secretary isn’t like trying to find a power bat for first.  The market is over-saturated.  Grab someone good and experienced and unemployed, and get cracking.

The alternative is seeing the fan base slip as one generation passes into the other, and that’d spell disaster in the long term.  Plan for decades; reap the rewards now.

That’s it; that’s all I’ve got on that.

crowd sky.jpgThe thing about The Wife attending grad school in the South is that whenever she comes up for a week-long break, weekday mornings are a bear. This may be too saccharine for a blog about the Mets, but I find it exceedingly difficult to WANT to get out of bed and go to work, and do all the things that take place via muscle memory on any given Monday.

Difficult, too, is the day after the end of Baseball I Truly Care About. They’ve been rough the past couple of years. This one’s worse, somehow, despite the profound lack of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I want to throw on jeans and a t-shirt, get some people together, and play some ball (by the by, the David Wright GQ photo won in Steelers-like fashion, surviving a late surge from Santana’s soulful warm-up shot, in the battle for off-season profile pic).
 
This year, with the end of the season occurring one week later and her vacation one week earlier, I’ve been hit with a double-barrel shot of I Don’t Wanna Go.  But go I do, riding on the local train as I type to vision loss on a tiny screen.
 
I think I’d be happier if I were on my way to Citi Field; I’d also be happier if The Wife were done with grad school and she were somehow gainfully employed in marine matters up here, up North. Today is a red-letter day in “dang.”
 
There are bright spots in memory. Yesterday was gorgeous.
 baseball sky.jpgI can’t recall the last beautiful day I spent at the park, and that’s partly a function of all the night games I managed to go to this year, and partly a function of the awful weather that the city’s been saddled with.
 
Also can’t recall the last time Alex Anthony, the Mets’ P.A. announcer, had to tell me about a pitching accomplishment.

fig pitch 01.jpgfig pitch 02.jpgfig pitch 03.jpg1010 WINS’s sportscaster called it this way at 7:45a: “Mets end their season with a sweep of the Astros, winning 4-0 on a good start by Nelson Figueroa.”
 
fig pitch 04.jpgIn fact, Figueroa threw the first complete game shutout in Citi Field history, a fact that would’ve explained away my surprise at seeing him come up to bat in the bottom of the eighth. I just kept looking at the pitch count and thinking, “He’s thrown for a million years and that arm hasn’t quit yet. If he gets lucky in the ninth, I doubt he goes much past 120.” He threw 113 pitches to dispatch with the Astros.
 
fig dugout.jpgYesterday’s game was also a demonstration of the style of play the park “was built for”: hits in the gaps; speed on the base paths.  Hassling pitchers.  In the bottom of the fourth with Beltran on third, Jeremy Reed walked on ten pitches; Josh Thole grabbed his single to score the run on nine. 

thole bat 01.jpgthole bat 02.jpgthole bat 03.jpgthole bat 04.jpgthole bat 05.jpgthole bat 06.jpgThat’s nineteen pitches over the course of two batters, accounting for nearly twenty-five percent of Wilton Lopez’s final total on the day.  Good work.  More next year, please.

Still would’ve enjoyed it if Pagan had hit for the cycle.  Regardless, a masterful effort offensively and defensively for the man.
 
In the past two years, Pagan and Figueroa have shown themselves to be two good soldiers. In the afterglow of a great effort, a win on the last day of the season, and a jolt of immediate nostalgia for this ragtag group of intergalactic rebels–which, given the season record, one could call criminally psychotic–I had Pagan penciled in as the opening day left fielder, and Figueroa as the fifth starter.
 
Then I woke up.

thole crouch.jpgThese guys–a lot of the guys on the Mets–are good soldiers. But the good soldiers have to be the last line of defense on any game in which the elite squad’s either put the game away or have been put away themselves.

last line.jpgPagan and Figueroa are not a foundation on which to build. 

Neither are Thole or Murphy or Santos or Parnell, or Misch or Evans.  Not yet, at the very, very least.

Neither are Maine or Pelfrey or Chowdah, as much as it pains me to say about Maine and Pelfrey, and as much of a soft spot I have now for the right fielder.

They’re who you use to clear wate
r out of the foundation when all you can do is wait for the morning, when the river’s receded.  How’s THAT for an overextended metaphor?
 
Truly, the next Mets team that comes to Flushing with championship aspirations must be a team that can soundly batter, not merely play good and close. All Mets starters should be eminently capable of throwing complete game shut-outs. I want a threat for the cycle at least once a homestand.  I want 30/30 seasons from my center fielder, third baseman, AND shortstop.
 
I want my wife to finish grad school and move back to New York. I want to work for/around/in/about baseball.  I want to write screenplays. I want a nutritious breakfast.
 
end of year crowd.jpgAny and everything is possible, save for a Mets no-hitter; I was convinced I’d see that this season as karmic recompense for the siege on the team’s health, and was denied it.  Today the Mets begin working on getting me what I want. The cruel fact of life is that, in order to get what I want, I have to get up and go to work. Gotta be a good soldier.
 
fan sign.jpgI like my job; I like the people there. But it sure isn’t baseball.
 
**
 
Section Five Twenty-Eight won’t shut down for the post- or off-season; there will certainly be fewer photos, but I’m certain that without necessarily having to apply the artifice of baseball to my random pandemic twiddlepoopings, the posts will be fluid reads.
 
That said, I do watch as much as I can of the post-season. I said I wouldn’t declare those loyalties until the teams were decided, and Minnesota has made it impossible for me to do that today. I’ll definitely be watching their game on Tuesday, as well as watching/reading/listening to any developments on the Mets front.
 
I imagine that much of my Mets commentary in the fall and winter months will be focused on dissecting the dissection of various team moves; I’m hot on this “we should be responsible fans” kick. If you’re new here I strongly urge you to visit the folks I’ve linked to in the blog roll on the right; I find that together they present a fine and balanced picture, easily understood and always fun to debate.
 
Let’s go Mets in 2010!

mr met.jpg

No mailbag today; emails mainly about Ken Takahashi’s alteration of his rookie costume (from three different folks; didn’t know y’all spent so much time staring at Ken Takahashi’s legs), and votes on the off-season profile pic.  Santana B makes a late surge.  Someone also made an impassioned plea for a humorous Nick Evans pic.  No write-ins means no write-ins, and the payoff would require too many steps.  But if I can do it where the laughter’s immediate and it’s not so expensive, I’m there as a one-off.  To vote on what my off-season profile pic will be, check out the rules and options here and email your choice to omniality [at] gmail [dot] com.

But in the second half of my post on Wednesday, I wrote:

I sound irritated not just because I’ve been concatenating in Excel
like a fiend all morning, but because I see the writing on the
off-season wall and it makes me wish I could unilaterally define blog
topics.  I’d be a lot more specific than all this business today about
Jerry Manuel.

We can only define Jerry Manuel’s job performance
based on the available data, and I don’t even have a full idea of what
that data set is, really.

I was hoping someone would get out in front of this business with a good and crunchy–I don’t know why “crunchy” sounds good to me there–article about how to a proper mathematical analysis on a manager’s ability.  And while it doesn’t claim to have all the statistical answers, Eric Simon’s post today on Amazin’ Avenue is some good work.  Read read read.

Again, and I think the caveats in the article come a bit too late, it does not claim to have a stats-based mien in toto.  But the heart-rather-than-head arguments made aren’t made with the histrionics that can cloud debate, and the attempt to analyze objectively is at least made.  I think it’s a good start.

Going to the game tonight, and will return to find The Wife at home for the first time since mid-August.  So I’ll see youse guys later.

Let’s go Mets!  Perfect October record coming up!

**

Goddamn.  I don’t even think I can call shenanigans:

Things we can take from this:

  • Metsblog is indeed comprehensive.  Love Cerrone or hate him–I think he does great work but needs a steady and fast copy editor–he’s got his finger on the pulse.

  • Jose Reyes’s injury travails shall be the stuff of legend.

  • This blog is remarkably unpopular.

  • I was right to let my subscription to New York magazine lapse.

The game has started out in Flushing, but I’m in the middle of waiting for some nonsense to wrap up at work.  So while I do, allow me to conduct a bit of business:

The Mets’ inaugural season at Citi Field is coming to a close and with it any lasting joy in wearing the “I’m Calling It Shea” T-shirt as a sign of impish protest.  While I love it both as a quality clothing item, its somewhat esoteric message, and its ability to make me instant friends with people at bars, I’ve come to think that announcing that via my profile pic in 2010 would be like making Kanye-storming-the-stage jokes sometime after the next forty-eight hours.

(My favorite one of those was, “Yo, Ernie Anastos, I’m really happy for ya, and I’ma let you finish, but Bill O’Reilly had one of the best F-bomb drops of all time!” …A local New York anchor dropped the F-bomb.  Search “Ernie Anastos chicken”; you’ll find it.)

I need a new profile pic–at least for the off-season–and it came to me while reading about various votes for Mets MVP that I should try for some similar audience participation.  Not for Mets MVP; I think that’s a bit silly this season, though I respect a desire for continuity by those who’ve been at it awhile.

Instead, I’m going to see if we can’t all speak to my lesser angels of grand delusion, and open up a vote on which Mets star I should try emulating in an off-season pic.

Here’s how this will work: 

  • I’m going to put up two photos each of Johan Santana, John Maine, Daniel Murphy, and David Wright.

  • You email me at omniality [at] gmail [dot] com and tell me which one you like.  

  • I will work between the end of the Mets regular season and November 1 to reproduce the image with me in the starring role (some will be easier than others).  Why those four?  I can make my hair do what’s required for those four.

  • Unless I’m taken to task or sued or ripped apart by wolves or whatever, the image will stay up until the 2010 season begins. 

There.  Isn’t that more fun than choosing between a shut-down Johan Santana, an achy John Maine, an ineffective Daniel Murphy, or a concussed David Wright?

Never mind.

Onward!

**Photos found through Google Image Search, all third-hand.  If there is a deep need for credit on one or more photos, I’ll be more than happy to kill myself trying to find the originals.

Santana A:

profilesantana1.jpgSantana B:

profilesantana2.jpg
Maine A:

profilemaine1.jpgMaine B:

profilemaine2.jpgMurphy A:

profilemurphy1.jpgMurphy B:

profilemurphy2.jpgWright A:

profilewright1.jpgWright B (he’s the one on the left):

profilewright2.jpg
There you are.  Voting is open through October 4th.  Send your choice to omniality [at] gmail [dot] com.

Let’s go Mets!

Songs will be sung about the day Frankie Rodriguez came in and threw a five-pitch save (vs. Nationals: W; 6-2).  The song will be to the tune of “Yakety Sax,” but don’t sweat the details.

It’s a busy day in the world of me, and I got about two hours of sleep last night.  It truly feels as though I’ve been up for three days.  Out of sorts?  Sure.

But I leave you with a question, which you can mull privately or email me about:

The Mets have come close to no-hitting teams, but have yet to actually achieve this goal.  Besides a Santana game against Tampa Bay in the middle of the season, I seem to keep seeing the possibility at the beginning of a season or at the end of a season, against teams that swing for the fences and rarely connect when they flail like that.

In other words, the best chances have come against scrubs during garbage time.

The question: if the Mets manage to put together a no-hitter–and note that only the most lights-out no-hitters are fully owned by the pitcher–would it cheapen the achievement if it came against the major league equivalent of the Washington Generals?

Would we hear “Well, good for your guys finally bringing one home, but it’s not like you did it against the ’75 Reds”?

Just something I’ve been thinking about, along with Nolan Ryan.  Occasionally my thoughts stray to Ryan, who has seven no-hitters but only one World Series win under his belt.  Wonder if he cares about that.

The Mets say Johan and Fauxhawk are both to undergo surgery tomorrow, at the Hospital For Special Surgery.  Catch the MLB report here.

I’m not a praying man, but as Johan’s surgery is to involve removing bone chips from the elbow, and Perez’s surgery is to involve removing scar tissue from the knee, I will pray that Drs. Altchek and Coleman don’t somehow confuse the two.  Nurses, please indicate their respective appropriate operational areas with an iodine-based dye.

And, because at the heart of most blogs is a relentless desire to repackage someone else’s creative ability, and because I couldn’t resist:

http://www.hulu.com/embed/idKySgduSG7qaTbI-5S6Mg

Here you go.  Read it.  It’s true.  Go on.  Read it.

Oh, and a friend who bought tickets to see J.J. Putz down at Keyspan tonight tells me there’ll be no J.J. Putz at Keyspan tonight.

So, given today’s spate of horrible, no good, very bad news, I embed for you the following.  Between this and “Dramatic Chipmunk,” either you’re smiling or you’re dead.

http://www.hulu.com/embed/rrlnSgLU8UUXFJlpdCsllw