Jeremy Heit's Blog
Saturday, June 26, 2004
 
The Mets did not play last night, yet picked up half a game in the standings. Let's examine what the NL East did last night...

Florida
Dewon Brazelton no-hit the Fish for 7 and 2/3 innings before Mike Lowell hit a double off him (even if he was doing his best A.J. Burnett impression). The D-Rays won 2-0, even though they had 4 less baserunners in the game.

Also of note, Josh Beckett returns to the DL with a strained back muscle. That's good news, as his replacement is Michael Tejera, the non-LOOGY LOOGY

Phillies
The Phillies, on the other hand, cried "MERCY!" on Pedro's start before it even started, sending out former 2004 D-Ray Paul Abbott. As expected, they were destroyed 12-1.

Braves
The Braves were shutout by the Orioles last night 5-0. Actually, they were singlehandedly shutout by some guy named Daniel Cabrera. Just let that sink in... The Braves were shutout by the O's pitching staff... I don't want to say done... but they are close (Tim Kurkjian floated last night on BBTN that they are shopping Russ Ortiz).

Expos
Not that they matter, but I figured it would be fun to insert here that the Expos scored 1 run on Josh Towers in 7 innings.

In Mets rotation news, it looks like Glavine will make a start against the Yankees this year...
The Mets have reconfigured their rotation to ensure that Tom Glavine will face the Yankees at least once in the Subway Series.

With a day off coming Monday, the Mets will skip right-hander Jae Weong Seo's turn and have Glavine face the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday. That will set him up to face the Yankees at Shea Stadium on July 4.

"It seemed like a good idea to take advantage of the day off," Mets manager Art Howe said.
Good idea by Art... but you do realize that if there was anyone in Norfolk pitching worth a spit right now, Jae Seo would be in the minors. Luckily for us...

Erickson battered in minors...
With each start in Norfolk, Scott Erickson continues to lessen the belief that he can return and help the Mets.

Erickson, who's rehabbing a strained left hamstring, made his sixth start for Norfolk last night, and the results were again disastrous. Facing Scranton Wilkes-Barre, he allowed seven runs on eight hits in six innings, walking four and fanning six. The 36-year- old Erickson now owns a 7.84 ERA in Triple-A.

For Erickson, the worst part about last night's effort is the timing. By Monday, the Mets must either promote him, get his consent to continue his rehab assignment or release him. Results-wise, Erickson certainly has not done much to convince the Mets not to choose the final option.
I'd like to think the Mets would go for choice C, though knowing them, it will probably be choice B. There's no way it could be choice A, right? I mean, even if the whole pitching staff gets food poisoning for a week, it still couldn't be choice A, right? He's sucked... I shouldn't be fearing a promotion.

From the same Mark Hale article on Erickson, we get this from Art Howe...
Orber Moreno returned to the Mets yesterday after his 15-day stint on the DL with a strained right shoulder, and Art Howe said he would not hesitate to use Moreno in the later innings.
You realize the whole entire Mets fan community is holding you to that Art? OK, as long as you know.

Halsey vs. Leiter on what looks to be a much better day than yesterday. Let's Go Mets!

Friday, June 25, 2004
 
Game tonight postponed. There is a doubleheader on Sunday now.

I have no analysis whatsoever.

Seriously.

 
Matt covers the roster moves from yesterday. And I agree. Getting Moreno and Tom Wilson while getting Karim and "Ice" off the roster for the time being is very nice.

This one has slipped by me... Mets Minor League Report, written by Toby. Take a wild guess what its about.

Here's Gleeman's take on the annual Billy Beane three way deal, though the thing that jumps out to me most is something that he points out towards the end of the article... Octavio Dotel is 30! When did that happen?

Oh yeah, I went to the game yesterday. Let me first say that there is nothing like going to a live baseball game. On television, it seems so small, but you really get a good idea of things at the stadium. Here are my notes that I remember...

-Cory Lidle can field his position. Really well.
-Joe McEwing was impressive in the field yesterday. If both he and Matsui won't hit that much... nevermind, I'm not advocating starting Joe McEwing...
-Wily Mo Pena is a hacker... he's going for the long ball everytime up on every swing.
-Ken Grifey Jr. has lost some of his instincts. That ball for a double by Floyd over his head. Took two steps in before going out. Badly play. Was surprised he charged so hard and dove forward for a catch later in the game though. Good to see some aggressiveness back from him.
-Was there any better time for Kaz Matsui Placard day than yesterday? While on Matsui, will the fans stop booing him at the park? I don't like what Ty Wigginton does a lot, but I still cheer for him and don't boo him. I don't know... I feel its counterproductive.
-While on the subject of Ty Wigginton... he has no range at third.
-Tom Glavine was doing his best "Al Leiter and the kitchen sink" impression early on and finally settled in around the fourth, but just threw too many pitches.
-Cory Lidle, when he just throws strikes, is a really good pitcher. He gets in trouble when he tries to be too cute with the hitters.
-That Jose Reyes line drive for a homer was a good sight to see. I mean, he had only grounded it up the middle in his last 20 ABs!
-I couldn't argue with any of the moves Art Howe made. I don't particulary like the Stanton move, but I can't exactly say it was the wrong thing...
-Which brings us to the Mike Cameron play. Let me just say I'm still shocked. I swear, I sat there for two minutes with my jaw hanging open staring at Cammy. Other than the sun, he just seemed overly frustrated with himself after his third strikeout (the half inning before). He was walking around for a good minute or minute and a half on the outfield grass and looked absolutely disgusted with himself. I don't know how much that had to do with the tiny loss in concentration, but it could have had an effect. And the booing for Cameron, both before and after he got up... unnecessary... he's human people.
-I give it until the All-Star break for the "Free Jose Parra" movement to start. I love his stuff and if he tools around like Moreno did in low leverage innings, you'll see a bandwagon start.

The Subway Series starts tonight and like Alex Belth, I just don't get that excited for the Yankees (well, he doesn't get excited for the Mets... but you knew what I meant). Part of it is probably because they are good, but to be perfectly honest, I don't care who the Mets have on the schedule, I just want them to beat that team.

Thursday, June 24, 2004
 
First off, check out Barry's new post on NL Parity below. It's some interesting stuff.

Matt, in his attempts to get rid of Kaz Matsui (remember this post), does a little role play as the Mets announcers.

2/3 IP, 3 ER, 2 H, 1 K, 1 BB, 1 HR. Yeah... that's David Weathers line last night. And that was after 4 good innings there. Have fun Houston.

Finally, I'm excited to be heading out to the rubber game of this series with Tom Glavine pitching. Hopefully I'll have a better time than Vinny did last night. I'll have my observations, whatever they are, tomorrow.

Let's Go Mets!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004
 
Parity in the NL

Barry here. I hate to sound overly optimistic like I’m easily swayed by a recent surge. But it’s hard not to. More so than looking at the Mets, I wanted to look at the ‘parity’ in the NL which could allow an opportunistic team to get into the playoffs. It has been my perception that this has been the most evenly matched NL in a long time. I do think the Cubs will have a chance to win 100 games though.

Is the parity really apparent? And what does it mean for the way the season will finish. Well I did a quick look back since the beginning of the wild card format (1994). I did some research, albeit it really is dependent on a game here or a game there, 1994 does have the most parity to date.

Only 2 teams have won at least 40 of their first 70 games, the Cubs and Cardinals. The Cardinals had the best record after 70 games of 41-29. I decided to compare this to previous years with simplistic research with the help of www.retrosheet.org.

First let me give caveats to my research:
From 1994-1997 there were only 14 teams as opposed to 16 teams. 1994-1996 was prior to inter league so for every win An NL team got, there was a loss. From 1997-2004, interleague games can inflate or deflate the win totals of the NL. Finally, in 1994 and 1995 (the shortened seasons) I used projected final win totals for 162 game seasons.
In two seasons (1998 and 2002), 5 teams got off to a 40 win start or better. Only in 1996, prior to expansion, was there only 2 teams that won 40 games. But the 1996 Braves had 44 wins, which is more than the 41 of the 2004 Cardinals. 41 is the lowest number of most wins for a team. Here is a table:

Season/ 40 Win Teams/ Most Wins
1994/ 3/ 46
1995/ 3/ 45
1996/ 2/ 44
1997/ 4/ 44
1998/ 5/ 48
1999/ 4/ 42
2000/ 3/ 43
2001/ 3/ 43
2002/ 5/ 43
2003/ 3/ 46
2004/ 2/ 41

In 2001, no team won 95 games. That’s what the Mets are hoping for this season. They will need some parity. Does parity in the first 70 games lead to parity at the end of the season? By the time I would have time to do the analysis we’d already be at 80 games. Besides, the sample size isn’t big enough to do anything meaningful. But does this table at least suggest there will be parity at the end?

Based on the final season results, I would consider 1998, 1999, and 2002 as the seasons with the least parity. In all three seasons at least 4 teams won 90 games, at least 3 teams won 95, and at least 1 won 100. If you look at the above table, it certainly looks like 1998, 1999, and 2002 had starts that displayed the least parity.

Here’s another angle. Here’s the top 5 seasons in terms of averages for the NL’s top 4 teams.

1999 99.3
1998 99
2002 97.8
1994 97 (projected)
2000 95.3
I find it very hard to believe that 4 teams will win enough games to average even close to 95 games this season. We’ll probably see at most 2 teams get to 95 wins, if any. In terms of parity, 2004 is off to the best start in 11 years. For sake of the Mets, let’s hope it keeps going.

Here’s an interesting note I found rather amazing in doing the research. Between 1994-2003, only the Braves, Cardinals, Astros, Dodgers, and Giants had more winning seasons than the Mets. However, the Mets, Rockies, Brewers, and Pirates are the only 4 teams not to once win at least 40 of their first 70 games since the wild card format. The Mets have yet to have a season where they get comfortable early.

 
I started this blog a year ago. Yes, its been a year. Then, the Mets blogosphere was small. Four others existed (someone can correct me if I'm wrong. Was Metsblog around... that would make it five). Since then, the Mets blogosphere has absolutely taken off, which can only be looked at as a good thing.

Anyway, to be short about this, thanks to all those who have come to read in the past year and actually found me interesting enough to come back. It's been a lot of fun talking to a lot of you.

Now back to your regularly scheduled blog entry...

The Mets are rolling. They got four innings from Mike Stanton and John Franco last night. Looper struck out the side. I'm so excited for Thursday...

In lineup news, Eric Valent is seeing a lot of time at first base...
Even a good first baseman would have had trouble with those, but Howe does not seem too concerned about having a good glove there, keeping Todd Zeile, his best-fielding first baseman, on the bench.

"[Piazza and Phillips] are both pinch-runner candidates, so it's tough to have them both out there," Howe said. "When you're winning, you don't like to change too much. [Valent] has played well there, too."
I love the part about not being concerned about not having a good glove out there, but then again, he was never against sending Piazza out there.

Speaking of defense, look at this courtesy of Hardball Times...

DER
Glavine: .805
Leiter: .799

Those are insane. Trachsel and Ginter are in the .720-.730 range with Jae Seo in the low .710 range... but 80% of balls. That can't keep up... can it?

Finally, the defensive whiz himself finally has brought his bat to the park...
Mike Cameron went 3-for-3 Tuesday, falling a homer shy of the cycle. He does, however, have 13 hits in his last 30 at-bats (.433), raising his average to .223, the highest it has been since he was hitting .225 on May 14. (Mets.com)
It's nice to see the whole package, ain't it?

Tuesday, June 22, 2004
 
As you know, I gave John Olerud my All-Time Acheivement Award on my All-Man Crush Team. So, I'm browsing through the Mets blogosphere when I see this from Kaley...
So what's the Mets achilles heel? Defense, of course!

Despite Jim Duquette's best efforts, the overall team defense has not improved much. Mike Cameron has made, I think, a huge difference in CF, though some have questioned that. Richard Hidlago makes a big leap up in RF.

But the infield is a case made of baskets. Matsui is bringing the Flushing boo birds out of hibernation with his errors at short. And now that Reyes has taken 2B from Wigginton, Ty is back playing the hot corner like he has oven mitts on both hands. And don't get me started on Piazza at first.

This is the crux of my argument. If the Mets want to win this year, they have to have a solid infield defense. And that means Piazza catches and we get a real firstbaseman. It also means we get a real thirdbaseman, which fortunately, we have at Norfolk in David Wright. But at 1B, Piazza cannot be trusted during a pennant drive.

Who can?

John Olerud. Olie is not hitting up to expectations at Safeco this year, and the Mariners are talking about possibly unloading his big salary in the housecleaning. But as with Hidalgo, Olerud's floor is just about level with the Mets current ceiling. Olerud is hiiting 267/377/376 so far this year. That SLG is probably what is bothering Seattle most. But compared to Jason Phillips' 214/295/349, it looks just fine to me.
John Olerud? In a Mets uniform again? I think I just wet my pants...

But I have a different idea... sorta. Get Olerud and play him vs. all righties with Piazza behind the plate. Olerud is batting .268/.386/.401 vs. righties, which is stil horrible slugging, but you ain't gonna get much slugging from him anymore (his non-Safeco line in .303/.439/.394). As for lefties, play Phillips and Piazza out there, with mostly Phillips at first, but giving Piazza a few shots at first just to keep him in the lineup a few extra days vs. righties. Phillips has a .261/.314/.413 line (in 46 ABs for you sample size people) vs. lefties. It's not the most productive platoon, but more productive then what the Mets are throwing out there now.

Will this happen? Probably not. Should it happen? Probably not. But, hey, wouldn't it cool?

 
Braden Looper struck out the side in the Mets 7-4 win tonight. He struck out both Griffey and Dunn with an offspeed pitch that I have never seen him throw before. And my question is... what is that?

A flat screwball?
A circle change?

Or does anyone want to try and give it a name...?

 
You want transactions? You've got them...

Avkash on Moves from May 25-June 19
Bryan Smith mentions the Hidalgo trade and crazy Mets roster movement that followed

Also, Matt points out Jason Phillips has been the fourth unluckiest hitter in baseball. Of course, this has been Phillips biggest problem...

BABIP
2003: .319
2004: .218

So which is he? A combination... 2003 was flukish, but he ain't this bad either. His career minor league BABIP is .288, which if he was hitting that, he's be hitting a respectable .250 (with probably around a .330/.400). Of course, Phillips G:F has gone from 1.15 last year to 1.01 this year and with everyone I seem to talk to, they all seem to agree with me that he's been under plenty of balls this year.

Monday, June 21, 2004
 
I'm not going to be irrational. I swear to you I won't... But this is fun. Real fun. Actual excitement... is cool.

The only real Mets/MLB news of the day comes from Art Howe on the rotation...
Howe said he would not use Monday's off day as an opportunity to tinker with the rotation for the Yankees series.
Which is good news for me because I get to see Glavine on Thursday. Woohoo!

With not much else to say today, I've decided its a good day to reveal my All-Man Crush team. There is only one requirement... they must be playing in the major leagues now. No retired players and no one in the minors (sorry David Wright fans). And here it is...

Jeremy Heit's All-Man Crush team
C: Joe Mauer
1B: Doug Mientkiewicz
2B: Mark Bellhorn
SS: Adam Everett
3B: Scott Rolen
RF: Brian Giles
CF: Mike Cameron
LF: Adam Dunn
SP: Carl Pavano
RP: Orber Moreno
Lifetime Achievement Award: John Olerud

Play along in the comments (or on your blog) if you like!

Sunday, June 20, 2004
 
Jose Reyes

Avkash is right. I just love the sound of it. I can't stop saying it. Jose Reyes. It feels so good. Finally, the complete 2004 team... plus Richard Hidalgo. And with two aging pitchers who have done more than I ever imagined they could to keep us in it. If the Mets sweep today, they are .500 again. Somehow. Someway. At worst 3.5 out of first place. I don't like to get excited about stuff like this (probably because I don't generally like optimism), but... I'm liking this team too much. And it seems there for the taking.

Mike Cameron delivered again last night (with the bases loaded even!) to make it two walk off hits in a row. Looks like someone else is back.

As for the roster moves, I can't argue, though somehow Gerald Williams is still on the roster. If you missed them (courtesy MLB.com)...
To make room for Parra on the 40-man roster, catcher Tom Wilson was designated for assignment. Also, left-hander Pedro Feliciano was optioned to Norfolk to open a spot for Reyes on the 25-man roster.
I personally like seeing Parra in the pen only because I know he'll be used a little. Feliciano was going to sit behind Franco and Stanton and do nothing.

As for Tom Wilson, I'm happy, only because I never found carrying three catchers important (when Zeile could play it). Of course, with the Mets only carrying 11 pitchers and 7 outfielders, I could see a third catcher a little more, with an outfielder going instead. I'm hoping for Gerald Williams to go when Orber comes back sometime next week, but a lot of that probably depends on how Parra pitches.

Speaking of Moreno, also courtesy of the MLB.com article above...
Right-hander Orber Moreno, on the disabled list since June 10 with a strained right shoulder, is scheduled to pitch a rehab game Monday, probably in the Gulf Coast League. The earliest Moreno could be activated would be Wednesday.
I'm hoping he is activated Wednesday because I'm going to the afternoon game on Thursday (I have no idea where I'm sitting... still deciding whether I'll buy tickets ahead of time or just walk up and get them... probably ahead of time... probably get them today. Sorry for thinking out loud).

And finally in the weekly Scott Erickson news, once again from the above MLB.com article...
RHP Scott Erickson made a rehab start with Norfolk Saturday night. He gave up four runs and walked three in seven innings, but retired 15 of the final 17 batters he faced. Erickson has been on the DL since April 9 with a strained right hamstring.
4 ER in 7 innings isn't impressive, but the part where I added the emphasis scares me a little. He won't make it to the majors with that start (and without a Jae Seo implosion... Peterson like Ginter, he don't like Seo), but he'll probably get another shot.

But really, who wants to worry about that... JOSE REYES IS BACK!


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