Jeremy Heit's Blog
Friday, May 07, 2004
 
I can just imagine this conversation in the clubhouse...

Gutierrez: Look at this young guy Moreno trying to steal the veteran's bullpen jobs. A stop has to be put to this.

McEwing: I agree. This is just wrong. We have to mess this up for him.

Wigginton: Come on, all young guys get their chance. I got mine, he should get his.

Piazza: What does it matter... you suck at third base anyway....

I swear, there is a conspiracy theory against Orber Moreno so that Art Howe will never trust to use him. Look at tonight's sequence of events for when he pitched...

Bloop single over Matsui.
Second base stolen on a pitchout.
Bunt down third base line, Wigginton throws over late, Gutierrez drops, runner safe at first, runner from second scores
Short fly out to McEwing

The only legitime thing in the whole inning was the bloop single over Matsui's head and I thought with more effort he might have been able to get a glove on it, but it was a hit. Everything else was a bunch of crap. Moreno's FIP coming into the game was -0.27, meaning his ERA with "an average defense" should be 2.93. His real ERA? 4.63 (5.40 RA).

Oh yeah, thanks for the HR McEwing. You almost got me excited... until I realized Gutierrez was up next. I can't wait for Floyd to get back so we can get his sorry ass off the roster.

 
Those guys over at Elephants in Oakland are damn funny.

 
"Sweep? Isn't that something you do with a broom? Or no, wait, that's what teams always do to the Mets. "

That's one of my friends, who shall remain completely nameless. My friend is a Yankees fan, as about, well, 100% of my friends are. That comment came after I said...

"Sweep!"

Yes, I know, completely and utterly random, but I take extreme punishment about how much the Mets usually suck, so I shove it back at my friend when they play well. So, now that my friend had said the above statement, I said...

"The Mets? You mean the Giants right... cause that's who the Mets swept last night."

I got a mumbled response about how they still suck, which is what every single conversation ends up boiling down to (and that's without me showing off too much of my knowledge on baseball... I'm already strange cause I'm smart... I don't need to be strange because my knowledge on baseball is about 5 times higher than everyone I know).

To be perfectly honest, I don't know what to say. I'm so happy right now with the way the team is playing... hell, with the way Art managed last night (What was that fist pump and emotion? It needs a little practice... he looked like he was spazzing out and having a seizure at the same time). So, let's take you back to the 11th inning with 2 outs, Jim Brower on the mound and Mike Piazza stepping to the plate...

(Fade in to me watching Mets game)

Me: Yes. Mikey to the plate... he's looked good at the plate tonight.

(Two "beings" appear on my shoulders, one that looks like an angel, one that looks like a devil)

Devil: Are you kidding me? Do you expect Mike Piazza to actually do something here? Did you see the way he swung at the 3-2 slider earlier in the game?

Angel: But look how relaxed he's been at the plate. He almost took one out before... the swing is very smooth right now.

Me: Uhhh... What the ****?

Devil: It's cool dude. We are just your mind. Well, I'm your mind. The angel is your mind on crack.

Angel: Whatever. You should have faith man. He's gonna go deep. He's looked like he's going to all game. You know its gonna happen.

Devil: HAH! You know he'll ground out softly to Neifi Perez and Weathers will give up 5 runs next inning. It's the Mets.

Angel: But these are a different Mets, one you should believe in.

Devil: Believe? You are gonna believe in that Tug McGraw crap? What a joke...

Angel: Telling you, he's going deep...

Announcers: Jim Brower has not given up a homerun so far this year in 20 innings

Angel: See, look at that, the jinx!

Devil: Jinx? You mean the continuing of a trend... Are you really gonna believe that pansy on your other shoulder.

Me: Ummm... I BELIEVE!

(I flick the Devil off my shoulder. Mike Piazza then hits the next pitch over the left field wall. I jump up and down celebrating).

(Fade out of scene)

I know, I'm weird, but its suppose to represent positive thinking winning out right now. Funniest part might have come 10 minutes later though, when my Dad asked...

"Did the Mets win?"

And I answer...

"No, I was yelling 'YES!' because Jeffrey Hammonds went deep. I was very happy for him."

Thursday, May 06, 2004
 
YOU GOTTA BELIEVE

Tug McGraw uttered those infamous words and its one of the first lessons you learn as a Mets fan. And, really, it is what makes Mets fans so great (If you are not a Mets fan, I am not liable for making you throw up on your computer and hold you accountable and will remember all the nasty things you leave in the comments). There is never a moment where Mets fans are not figuring out a way the Mets can get back in it. All fans of all teams do this, but Mets fans take it to an extreme. We think of some strange reasons on how we can get back in it. The prevailing one lately is that the pitching is good, Jason Phillips can't be this bad and the offense is staying afloat nicely and will be much better with Cliff Floyd in the lineup. And you know what? I'm buying in... maybe its 3 straight wins, but even coming into last night, I had a good vibe about the game and team. Hell, I knew we were winning that game last night, even if Art Howe had pitched John Franco three innings. I was excited last night, really cared about that game, was as pissed off as Mikey when his ball didn't go out and was as excited as Spencer when his did.

If I was being reasonable, I would tell you this team has as much of a chance of making the playoffs as I have of getting a 5 on my AP U.S. History test tomorrow (and those chances are not good). And I guess my "job" here if to be reasonable... but hell, I'm a fan too and I'm enjoying the 3 game winning streak. Maybe this good vibe, this belief something could go right with this team this year comes from the hope we had coming in of an exciting .500 team (if such a thing exists), but whatever it is, I believe. Even if they lose tonight (which doesn't seem possible in my mind at this point), I'll still believe because, really, as a Mets fan, what else have I been taught to do?

Is that optimism?... it might be, though some might consider it half-hearted, since it seems I'm only following something said long before I was born. But still, it's an unusual thing to hear me say, since I am a perfect example of the teenage pessimist, and heck, its an unusual thing to hear from Mets fandom these days and rarer in the blogosphere (Kaley, Vinny, Norm... the three optimisms).

So, yes, I'm taking back what I said earlier this season (If you need to know, I'm sure Vinny will be happy to remind you). There is hope and there is reason to believe that something fishy might be in the air. Not a lot, but, a little is better than nothing.

Hell, Orber Moreno pitched last night. That makes me feel anything is possible.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004
 
For my thoughts on Grant Roberts, go here...

Today, Craig Burley rates all 30 managers and puts Art Howe in the catergory of "bad". He has only 3 managers in a worse catergory and those are McClendon, Jimy Williams and Bowa, so I can't argue with the placement. He's a bottom 10 manager in my opinion. On the other hand, he put Felipe Alou in the "excellent" catergory and I disagree, especially after yesterday. Now, as Sam M points out, Bonds was not in the stadium last night, but still, Tomko should have been pinch hit with a real hitter (maybe Pedro Feliz...), even if he is a decent hitting pitcher.

Oh, and if you are looking for a good rip today, check out Jay Jaffe's post on Productive Outs.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004
 
The Mets won 6-2 tonight and we have Felipe Alou to thank. Why you ask? Well, let's take you back to the 6th inning, where, despite the fact that the Giants were winning and batting, the turning point of the game occurred...

Runners on 2nd and 3rd, two outs, Torrealba at the plate, Tomko in the on deck circle. The Mets, for some unknown reason, walk Torrealba to load the bases for Tomko. Here's what I said in the Game Chatter as the walk was occurring...

Walking Torreabla... If I'm Felipe Alou, I pinch hit for the pitcher with Barry Bonds here... he'll be able to swing or you get another run.

Let me explain a little better with this comment, also in the game chatter, I made after Tomko's AB...

There is no excuse not to pinch hit with Barry. The Mets are forced to pitch to him, unless they are willing to surrender another run.

Plus, Brett Tomko isn't exactly Jason Schmidt or an ace pitcher that you need to keep in the game...


This is simple to me. Barry either gives you a run because the Mets refuse to pitch to him or he gets something to hit and with his ability, he can bust the game open. And its not like you are keeping Jason Schmidt in the game... this is Brett Tomko! If Brett Tomko gives you five solid innings giving up 1 run (I know its unearned) you should thank the lord and get him the hell out of the game.

But Felipe hit with Tomko, who lined out. And then gave up four runs the next inning (I know those are unearned too)...

I later found out he was in the 100 pitch range when he hit in the 6th... I think Chris Dial gives the best analogy...

It's not unlike a poor usage of a closer - here was an extremely high leverage situation that went unused by the Giants

Hey, for once, Art Howe outmanaged another manager...

 
We have a good news/bad news situation going on with the roster...

Good News: Grant Roberts was DFAed. If Art wasn't going to use him, he didn't have a point.
Bad News: Ricky Bottalico was called up to take his place.

The whole point of dumping Grant Roberts was to trim the pitching staff to 11 pitchers, meaning they should have waited a couple of days and did this when Wiggy came off the DL. Having 12 pitchers is nuts.

As for Ricky Bottalico, he's on the wrong side of 30, meaning he has no future in this bullpen for when they'll need him. He also gives Art another right-handed "proven veteran" to use instead of Orber Moreno.

Duke made the right move by dumping Grant Roberts (Could John Franco be next? Probably only in my dreams...). Unfortunately, he did it for the wrong reason.

 
Apparently, according to 1050 ESPN radio, Barry Bonds will not be playing tonight because of a sinus infection. I guess Art's head won't have to hurt now...

 
Barry Bonds is coming to town tonight, so it obviously begs a simple question managers spend too much time thinking about (Art doesn't like thinking, it hurts his head). Should you pitch to Barry Bonds?

Yes, in all situations when it makes sense. There are stiuations, where, with Bonds' supporting cast, it makes sense to walk him. But in the 1st inning of a 0-0 game... um, in a word, no. Especially with guys on base (I know, that flys in the face of what should make sense, but putting more guys on and not getting outs is bad)...

But, with the statistical beast himself coming into town, let's take a look at some Mets statistics about a month in with the help of Baseball Prospectus and The Hardball Times...

-Using BP's VORP charts, we can see McEwing and Gutierrez have combined for -6.7 VORP so far this year at second. And yes, they are the TWO WORST second baseman in VORP in the NL... and trust me, their defense isn't worth it. Luckily, Daniel "the man" Garcia has a 3.7 VORP so far this year and provides some nice defense to save us from the pure suckiness of the other two. Imagine if enough injuries happened that they both had to play at the same time... one at short and one at second... I think we could give the Keystone Chasm a run for its money...

-Not to rain on everyone's parade with Tom Glavine, but looking at Hardball Times pitching stats, Tom Glavine's DER (Defensive Efficiency Ratio) is .775 or in other words, when he pitches, the Mets are turning an insane 77.5% of balls in play into outs. His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is 0.08... if you add 3.20 to that, you get an approx estimation of what a player's ERA would be with an "average" defense. Look, Glavine has pitched well this season and it doesn't seem like the ball is getting hit hard off him, but you can't expect the defense, even if it is better than the league average of about 70%, to be that good behind him. He's pitching to a 3.28 with an average defense right now... Assuming he gives up a few more HR (0.2 per 9 right now), I'd say 3.50 is a good estimate with his defense coming back to earth a little.

-I've talked about Todd Zeile's P/PA before and at the moment, its 4.73. He also has a .311 GPA. Oh, and Ty Wigginton? 3.02 P/PA and a .186 GPA. I'll admit it, I was wrong on Zeile. I'll eat the crow. I still don't think he was worth Cerda, but as a player, I was wrong. Really really wrong.

-Mike Stanton's SLG against is .196. He's pitched really well lately, and amazingly, I trust him when he comes into the game. Scary thought, huh?

-Finally, Shane Spencer leads the team in Runs Created with 14. Not that I have anything against Shane playing well, but when he leads your team in Runs Created, you know something is wrong. And that wrong is the offense being anemic (By the way, the word of the month on this blog has been anemic).

It's Tomko vs. Trachsel tonight, which I feel pretty good about.

Monday, May 03, 2004
 
Buried at the bottom of the latest Peter Gammons' article...

For teams like the Yankees and A's who could be looking for second basemen come July, this is a potential list: Bret Boone, Jerry Hairston, Orlando Hudson, Junior Spivey, Desi Relaford, Edgardo Alfonzo and Luis Rivas. If you've seen Nick Punto play for the Twins (a .419 on-base percentage through 18 games), you know why Rivas may become available.

Or if you've seen Rivas play... Let's just ignore the fact that it would be completely idiotic for anyone to trade for Luis Rivas and talk about the part I bolded...

Without taking into consideration contract (since it don't matter to the Yankees), who would you rather have as your starting second baseman, Luis Rivas or Enrique Wilson?

That, along with the idea of the Mets going to a four man rotation are the discussion topics for the comments today. So, go comment!

 
I don't have a lot of time today, but the Mets won yesterday, so its all good.

Here are two links to check out...

Max flips the script on Pete Abraham- This time the blogger asks the questions to the reporter and gets some very interesting answers.

BP's take on the Rockies going to the four man rotation- I've always liked the idea of the four man rotation and... wish the Mets would go to it. Think about it. Glavine, Leiter, Trachsel and Seo. Send Yates back down to learn to be more aggressive with two strikes (or just get rid of Roberts). You can control the pitch counts and have four very solid pitchers out there. I think the pen can be decent this year (still) and help pick up the few extra innings they have to because of the pitch counts. Maybe I'm nuts, but the I think the four man rotation would be perfect for this team. They have four above average starters and would be getting more innings instead of handing them to a crappy fifth starter. Of course, the Mets would never ever think about outside the box.

Sunday, May 02, 2004
 
Padres 3-1 over Mets

I know. I know. I've declared this season over, to kill the optimism, blah blah (this is so Vinny doesn't jump on my ass for what I'm gonna say today, but I'm sure he'll still fine something), but damn, this series is disappointing. I came in confident that the Mets could sneak out with two out of three and be in good shape for next week at home against the Giants and Brewers, very beatable teams. But instead, we blew a 5 run lead on Friday and had one bad bullpen perfomance and more anemic offense yesterday. There's really not much to say about the offense at this point. They are bad and their control of the strike zone is pitiful. But, hey, my man crush on Danny Garcia is growing.

As for the bullpen, well, Franco was a bad choice. Participating in Primer's (or at the moment 3AM's) game chatters, I've learned many important things about baseball. OK, that's not true. I haven't learned a whole lot, but it makes watching the game a lot more enjoyable.

But one thing I have learned is a little thing we call "Chris Dial's Bullpen Usage Strategy" or "CDBUS". Basically, it goes a little something like this...

When bringing in a relief pitcher, do not bring in a pitcher who is essentially the same pitcher as the one that was just in, especially if the pitcher coming out was struggling.

When Leiter came out after 5, he had thrown a ton of pitches, but really didn't struggle in the last inning he pitched (he threw one bad pitch that Brian Buchanan demolished). And it is true that there are really no pitchers similar to Leiter in the bullpen, but Art Howe went with John Franco, who I think is about as close as you can get. Likes to work the corners, ends up throwing a ton of pitches and is lefty. I would have gone with Orber Moreno, but then again, Orber is not allowed in the game unless the Mets are losing. Franco gave up 2 runs in 2/3 of an inning and that was basically the game.

But, in positive Art Howe news, last night's game is under protest because of Otsuka's windup, which I mentioned I thought was a balk yesterday. Here are a couple of quotes from the Journal News on the issue...

"He's separating his hands in the middle of his windup, going in and out of his glove," Howe said. "We looked at the rulebook."

Said crew chief Rick Reed: "A lot of pitchers tap their glove — Kerry Wood and Greg Maddux — but if it's within the confines of the glove, it's OK. … There was some debate about it (among the umpires)."


We'll see what happens, but he could have done this yesterday, when, you know, Otsuka closed the game... but late is better than never.

Reyes Update

Yesterday, Norm got paid a visit by Will Carroll, who discussed the Reyes injury a little bit. You can find the link to those comments here (Quick aside... in this same post, Norm goes over the VORP for each of the Mets position players using BP's improved and readable stat charts, something I was thinking about doing today... I guess great minds this alike).

The "Reyes quote of the day" comes from this article in the Star Ledger...

Greenberg said the Mets gave Reyes the latitude to determine when he returned from the injury and that he wasn't pressured to come back before he was healed, although it turned out he did.

"He definitely came back too early," Greenberg said by phone yesterday while playing baseball with his daughters, Lauren and Niki, in Greenwich Village. "But I cannot say it was the Mets' fault. They were listening to him and it was Jose's call all the way to come back. We've had a good dialogue with Jim (Duquette) and I can't fault them at all."

Greenberg said he spoke to Reyes yesterday and reported the second baseman was feeling much better, but that there is no timetable for him to even get back to playing in minor-league games in Florida.

"Right now, all he's going to do is rest," Greenberg said. "We're going to do it right this time. We're going to wait until he's 100 percent and then some. We learned a lesson here."

*(Emphasis added... and trust me, I considered emphasizing the whole thing because it was hard picking which parts I wanted to bold)

To me, this is completely mind boggling. You're going to let the player dictate his comeback? Especially a 20 year old phenom who wants to prove he can play, that he's not a wuss and that his legs are strong enough to hold up. And a player who is hearing all the media reports about how he should have been back two weeks before because his injury really isn't that serious. Look, I can see letting a veteran somewhat dictate his rehab recovery, but a 20 year old rookie... but then again, I guess that's the Mets front office for ya.


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