Jeremy Heit's Blog
Saturday, July 03, 2004
 
Mets 11-2 over Yankees. That went well. And the Mets are back to .500 once again.

Matt and I were having a conversation the other day (as we often do these days) and I asked him a simple question...
Are we nuts?
Fairly straightforward. Of course I was referring to thinking the Mets could make the playoffs. His answer went something like this...
A little nuts, but not crazy.
I thought about that and then agreed. If you are wondering, here are the different definitions for the two words in the context they are being used...
Nuts: Having a shot at making the playoffs, but thinking you have a much better shot than you do.
Crazy: Having no shot at making it but thinking you do.
Why do I even bring this up? Because I'm starting to believe.

This whole time I've been trying to believe, but I think I've been making myself believe. Not a feeling of belief, but wanting to believe because the Mets making the playoffs would be cool. I've been expecting losses, expecting to always wander around the .500 mark and never escape from there. And so far I've been right, but at the same time, what have the Phillies and Marlins done? Diddly squat.

The Mets are still close, not so much out of their own play as much as the play of the division. But now why do I believe? It's not because they won 11-2 last night. They won big last Saturday against the Yankees, but that didn't make me believe. I actually believe that was the night I asked Matt if we were nuts or not. Or maybe it was Sunday. Either way, that whole Yankees series I didn't feel like they could do it.

My belief comes still partly from wanting too. Part of it probably comes from the whole "Ya Gotta Believe!" notion of Met fans, eternal optimists on their team's chances. And part of it comes from what I see on the field. Leiter and Glavine, as long as they stay healthy, are pitching amazing. Steve Trachsel... when he is at home is masterful and part of me is thinking that he can bring that to the road. Jae Seo... I have an iternal belief in Seo, probably more than anyone else. Give him time... he'll be there. Ginter... he's a fifth starter, so if he gives passable innings, he's good. The fact that Duke is in the market for a starter, possibly another solid guy to stick behind the good 2 and a half... makes me believe this can be serious... and it helps keep away Scott Erickson.

The bats... Mike Piazza... will he ever stop hitting? Richard Hidalgo has found "it" and provides great D out in right. Jose Reyes will be there. Ty Wigginton has joined the hitting club. In the last 20 games, Mike Cameron has hit .269/.347/.493 (courtesy Dougstats.com). If his bat turns around, while playing his great D... that's big. And Kaz Matsui.

Kaz Matsui. He got cheered last night. Big time. He found out what a NY crowd could be at its best, when you are at your best. Hopefully he wants more of that. And last night... maybe I just want too badly to see him turn a corner. But his defense has slowly improved, with a great play last night. He still looks bad at the plate sometimes, and for some reason can't bunt, but last night he looked really good up there. And with the crowd behind him... if there was ever a time to believe he is going to break out... its now.

So, I've just spent 5 paragrpahs telling you why I'm starting to believe. Or maybe I'm still trying to convince myself. Whatever the reason, there seems to be something that's pulling me into believing. Maybe Aaron Heilman giving two good starts in a row in Triple-A is part of it, even if it means nothing for the team this year. Just the feeling of good. The fact that any day now I'm going to see the 3B of the future on the major league field. The "next Scott Rolen". That's exciting... and this seems like it could be one wild ride.

Speaking of good feelings, here is where we stand a little while after the Richard Hidalgo trade...
Richard Hidalgo: .327/.352/.673
David Weathers: 7.1 IP, 4.91 ERA (plus 2 unearned runs), 6 H, 6 K, 3 BB, 1 HR
Jeremy Griffiths: scheduled to start vs. Texas today
It was a good trade whether or not Hidalgo hit, but now... I think only "WOW!" can describe this one.

After Good Trachsel showed up last night, the Mets head into today at .500. Again. And today we get to see Jose Contreras face off against Matt Ginter. This one is completely up in the air. Is Contreras going to show up with the stuff he threw last week or is going to be Bad Contreras? Does Matt Ginter realize the urgency of needing a good start with Scott Erickson on his tail after his last start? This one could go a lot of ways.

With the Mets pulling to .500 last night, they also got to 1 game behind the Marlins and 2 games behind the Phillies. That is after Florida's 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay and the Phillies 16 inning loss to the O's 7-6 where Jim Thome went 0-8 with 5 K's, including K's in his last 4 ABs. The Braves, who will not go away, won 6-3 in extra innings over Boston, who yesterday was killed by Nick Green. Atlanta is only 2.5 games back and only a half game behind the Mets. They never go away... ever.

The game is on FOX today, so expect extra Jeter drooling, especially after Thursday's play against the Red Sox. Enjoy the game today and LET'S GO METS!

Friday, July 02, 2004
 
Matt covers everything and more involving the next week and a half, from the Mets win yesterday to the effects of the Yankees 13 inning marathon (basically summing up everything Matt and I talked about last night after the Yankee game ended). I would only like to talk about yesterday's game... actually the 8th inning to be exact...

a. Why wasn't Orber Moreno in the game? He's pitched to ONE batter since coming off the DL. Perfect low pressure situation to get him an inning...
b. Instead Art goes with Ricky Bottalico, who has been about as sharp as a circle at this point. Anyone else think the "shoulder tenderness" he has is bothering him more than he lets on?
c. Why does it take Art so long to go to Looper? Did he have to wait until Griffey was the tying run...?

Because of the bullpen's acts yesterday, Looper and Bottalico are pretty much not available today, though the Yanks are pretty much without Rivera and Sturtze. Advantage Yankees. They still have Tom Gordon. The Mets still have Orber Moreno and Jose Parra, but its more likely we would see Stanton.

For some good news, look no further than Norfolk. And, no, this isn't about super prospect David Wright (who actually went 0-3 yesterday... don't worry, he got a walk and an RBI), but instead about last year's flavor Aaron Heilman. The box score says...
7 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 7 K, 3 BB
Far from perfect and a little high on the walk total, but considering his last start (6 innings, 1 ER, 6 K) and this one, maybe he's turned a corner. Actually not maybe... hopefully.

Tonight's matchup actually looks pretty good for the Mets. It's the inconsistent Mike Mussina vs. Good Trachsel. Good Trachsel? Yup, good Trachsel... Remember the home/road splits?
Home: 1.76 ERA, 2 HR in 66.2 IP
Road: 7.88 ERA, 10 HR in 32 IP
It would be nice for the Mets to start out on the right foot and even nicer if they could sneak away with 2 out of 3 and be .500 coming out of the Subway Series Part Duex. But let's just worry about one game at a time...

Thursday, July 01, 2004
 
Ben Sheets for Scott Kazmir plus other things, Barry? I definitely would not do that... if anything, I would only consider Kazmir for Sheets and then I have a tough time with it. Sheets has been great this year and is only 25, so his sudden jump in K/9 and dip in ERA should stay, but I don't know if half a year of this performance can convince me that he's figured it out this well, especially for the best pitching prospect in the system. It's interesting... but I wouldn't do it.

Speaking of prospects, Avkash takes a look at the best second tier prospects in the system. One question though: Where's Jeff Duncan?

Also, with all this David Wright promotion talk, I'm getting pretty excited. If he is even close to the player Scott Rolen is, I'll be unbelievably happy.

As for the major league team, well, Barry and I shouldn't even waste our time discussing trading options if the Mets don't win games. The Mets lost 2-0 last night and once again didn't give Tom Glavine any run support. This has been a constant problem all year and it was only a matter of time before Tommy Boy started moaning...
"I've gotten to the point where I'm numb about it," he said. "What are you going to do?"
Now, Tom, we know you are frustrated, but must we do this complaining bit? You did it last year when you sucked and you are doing it now that you are pitching well. Can you ever just be happy? Ever?

I won't say that Tom doesn't have a point. He has been getting the screw job by the offense, especially when Eric Milton, who is 10-2, has a 4.68 ERA, below the NL Average for ERA (scroll to the bottom). But that doesn't mean Tom needs to go complain to media about his team, which has seemed to be his favorite thing to do when not pitching since he came to the Mets. So just go out, pitch well and let everything else play out as it will. Complaining out the offense isn't going to make them hit any better.

12:35 start today, with Al Leiter facing off against Jose Acevedo. The Mets need to win this one with the Yanks rolling into Shea for the weekend...

 
Barry here with some good news to report. No Mets made the Bizarro World All-Stars according to The Hardball Times. But I’m glad I was right about one thing before the season. I was very anti-Jay Gibbons who was rumored to be a player the Mets were interested in.

I have some huge David Wright News. It appears he might be dating Jeff Duncan’s sister.
Wright is humble, despite his considerable talent. Jeff Duncan even endorsed his sister, Kelly, seeing Wright - not common among ballplayers. "We keep in touch on the phone," Wright confessed.
Of lesser importance, it looks like Ty might be traded or moved to 1B to make room for Wright. As Jeremy alluded to, he did a good job of giving himself trade value or at least keeping a key role on the Mets.

The Mets hung in the race for a while...and now they can effectively be replacing Gutierrez, Karim, and Phillips performance with David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Richard Hidalgo. I still suspect the Mets will end up somewhere around .500.

A lot has been made of Glavine not facing the Yanks. I’m actually very impressed with Howe’s logic on this one. I’d rather have Glavine pitch against the Phillies and again against the Marlins in the big divisional stretch.

If the Mets are interested in Ramon Ortiz or Kris Benson, why don't they use one of their internal projects and not give up anything?

Is Ben Sheets available? I think I would trade Kazmir and more for him. The ‘enigma’ word has been thrown around about Kazmir and Ben Sheets can help the Mets now and in the future. There were some internet rumblings that Sheets was available. Ben Sheets is considered Barry Zito only on the upswing instead of the down swing. He’s got great stuff, and he’s a strike out pitcher with excellent control. He’s really what we hope Kazmir can be. It’s amazing how rare the Mets have had a good strikeout pitcher in recent years. It’s as if the Mets don’t value it. I close with this tidbit:
In 1992, David Cone and Sid Fernandez finished 1-2 in K/9 in the NL. Since then there have only been two seasons in which a Met finished in the top 10. Both times it was Al Leiter (1998 and 2000).
Jeremy Hill needs Tommy John Surgery according to the Daily News. Next week I'll report on the pitchers who do not need Tommy Surgery.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004
 
Insert expletive here (Pawsox.com and frequent commenter Mike Marino report that it was 7 and 1/3 innings of scoreless ball, but either way, its not good).

Jae is safe (or should be) after last night, which means, Mr. Ginter, you need to show up on Saturday. Big time.

 
Jae Seo is going to survive another day. He had a nice start and the Mets had a nice (though a little tense) 7-5 win over the Reds. Glavine vs. Lidle today... luckily there shouldn't be much sun on Mike Cameron in this game.

As for the Mets off the field, well things are getting fun. WFAN is appparently reporting David Wright will be up on Monday for the Phillies series. There are also reporting that Ty Wigginton is taking groundballs at first.

At the same time, Ty Wigginton seems to be talked about in trade rumors a lot. The Mets are apparently looking at Kris Benson and Ramon Ortiz. Then Peter Abraham dropped this one...
According to several sources, Mets general manager Jim Duquette has offered Wigginton to the Reds as part of a package that would bring back either right-hander Cory Lidle or right-hander Paul Wilson. Both are former Mets
I'd assume the rest of the package is low grade prospect(s), but whoever they are, I wouldn't fear that they would be that good.

Trading Ty would probably mean the appearance of David Wright on the major league scene. Trading Ty would also open up the roster spot for David Wright, making it a lot easier to put him on the roster. Depending on how Ginter does against the Yankees next time out might determine whether he or Seo would stay up here. But, of course, we are getting ahead of ourselves... a trade actually has to happen first.

So what about this trade? In a simple word... no. And its not the package. I don't value Ty Wigginton that highly. In the grand scheme of things, David Wright takes his spot at third and Danny Garcia can take his spot at the utility infielder, which was a spot we thought the Mets would prepare him for after the season. If the Mets needed a backup corner infielder, they could always find one. They are a pretty easy commodity to find.

No, I'm against this trade because of the pitchers the Mets are getting back. Paul Wilson? We can't possibly do this again... if he has one bad start, the Mets fans will be typical fans and jump all over him. Low upside, big downside.

And Cory Lidle? Well, as Avkash points out, Lidle's best seasons are when he was with Rick Peterson, but unfortunately, Cory Lidle doesn't give Peterson much credit (look at the emphasis quote in the link to Avkash's site). Peterson holds the key, but Lidle won't accept it. And the last thing the Mets need is clubhouse problems with stoic Art Howe at the helm.

So, Duke should dash this one, but realize that Ty Wigginton, with the way he's played lately, has created a market for himself to be traded for pitching help. Now do I want Kris Benson or Ramon Ortiz? Maybe Benson, as Peterson might be able to fix him. Ortiz... I'll pass... HRs have been a problem, something that can go down in Shea, but I think he's a little bit too much of a headcase to bring into a pennant race. Kris Benson does intrigue me though... great arm, lots of injuries, never had time to put it together. If Peterson would think he's worth a shot, then I would do it...

Tuesday, June 29, 2004
 
Matthew Namee on Roberto Alomar's career. He is, im my opinion, a no doubt Hall of Famer who will probably not make it because he spit in some guy's face one.

Avkash looks at whether it is better to have Glavine or Seo pitch today. As for Seo, he better pitch fairly well, because, as we know, he lurks in the darkness.

Finally, here is some information on the bullpen courtesy of Peter Abraham (emphasis added)...
Howe blithely declared Sunday that his overworked bullpen "is all right" because of recent days off. But primary setup man Mike Stanton is on a pace to appear in over 90 games. He allowed all six runners he inherited on Sunday to score.

John Franco, the second lefty in the bullpen, has a 10.80 ERA when he pitches on back-to-back days. Ricky Bottalico, the right-handed setup man, has been effective but has a tender right shoulder. Orber Moreno has already been on the disabled list with a shoulder problem.

Outside of closer Braden Looper, who has been terrific, the Mets have durability questions for all of their relievers.
90 innings? 90 innings? Is there any doubt he's pitching tonight if the game is close. And Bottalico has a tender shoulder... great, we are gonna lose a good relief pitcher.

Seo vs. Van Poppel tonight. Let's Go Mets!

Monday, June 28, 2004
 
John Sickels answered questions today in a chat for MLBcenter.com and answered two of my Met related questions...
Me: Until his last start, Aaron Heilman had been struggling this year in Norfolk. Does anyone know what has happened to him? Is Rick Peterson working on something with him? Or is his confidence that shot?

John: Heilman has really struggled with his command within the strike zone. This sometimes happens after a pitcher comes up to the Show and gets shelled. They go back down and try to be too perfect. That's deadly for a guy like Heilman. As far as I know, there is no underlying injury problem or anything like that, so this sounds like a problem with confidence. Some guys get over that, and a lot don't.
And this...
Me: I was also wondering how you felt about Craig Brazell... do you feel he projects to be anymore more than an average Corner OF in the majors? And would you rather have him or Victor Diaz?

John: Brazell reminds me of Randal Simon to some extent....can hit for average and knock a home run, but not exactly a polished hitter due to his "swing hard at everything all the time" approach, and will never really learn to work a count. Such hitters can make a living against mediocre pitching but are often overmatched against guys who know what they are doing and can pull the string. Diaz is similar actually, but has more range in the outfield.
Diaz is younger and a better fielder. Can we please trade Brazell? Now.

 
Here is some news from Mets.com...
Howe decided to keep Tom Glavine on turn and have him start Tuesday against Cincinnati. That would have bumped Jae Seo. Howe changed his mind Sunday and switched the two around again, naming Glavine as Wednesday's starter so he could also start Monday in Philadelphia.

"This way he can face Philly and the Marlins before the break," Howe said. "It's important for him to face teams in our division."
Leiter, Trachsel and Ginter vs. the Yankees next weekend (EDIT: As Matt astutely points out, its Trachsel, Ginter and Seo next weekend... Leiter starts Thursday)... at least Trachsel will be home.

Also from the above article...
Right-hander Jose Parra's scoreless ninth inning on Saturday had Howe beaming on Sunday. Parra hasn't allowed a run in four appearances since being called up from Triple-A Norfolk and could be in line for a more prominent role. He went 2-1 with 16 saves and a 1.63 ERA in 24 games for the Tides.

"He's handled the closer's role in Norfolk and he's shown some composure," Howe said. "Since he's come up, he's shown good stuff. That's the reason he was successful in Triple-A. He's legit."
Yet it took him so long to come around on Moreno? I'm not against this... hell, I liked Parra's stuff when I saw him at Shea last Thursday... it just boggles my mind how Art can't be sold on Moreno...

Finally, some bad news from The Post on Erickson...
The Mets do not have many internal answers, though they are hanging on to Scott Erickson. His agent, Rick Thurman, said last night that Erickson has agreed to stay with Norfolk for several more starts (perhaps one or two, perhaps as many as four).

"It just depends on how well he does," Thurman said.

One provision is if another team wants to give Erickson a major-league job, the Mets must bring him up or risk losing him. Erickson, rehabbing from a strained left hamstring, owns a 6.97 ERA at Norfolk.
I would say that I would want another team to want him, but I fear the Mets would then bring him up and start him... Why did they give him more rehab starts? This is unbelievable... He won't go away.

 
Mike Stanton is the man. Mike Stanton is unbelievable. Mike Stanton is #1...

(And no, this is not a trip through Art Howe's mind...)

At allowing inherited runners to score.

That's correct. After going 6 for 6 yesterday, he's now allowed 17 of his 34 inherited runners to score, making his IRP -6.6, worst in the majors. Dan Wheeler, who actually got an inherited runner who didn't score, is now 10 for 13 and fell from 6th to 9th on the list (Stanton was 10th coming into the doubleheader yesterday).

Of course, Avkash is right... you'll see Stanton in the game with the bases loaded again. I mean, come on, he's got a shining 3.57 ERA.

Which of course means only one thing. Art Howe is an idiot. A big one. Here's Sam M with the commentary...
You know, it’s one thing to be proud of your team for “battling,” as Art F. always says. It’s another to completely undermine their battle by making asinine managerial moves that make it useless to “battle” because it is impossible to come back with a complete & total assclown for a “manager.”

My utter and complete disdain for him now knows absolutely no bounds. Steinbrenner should send the Mets a check for his salary for the day.
And this (in reference to it being OK because at least he's not Grady Little)...
Grady Little is Connie Frigging Mack compared to Art Howe. Grady Little belongs in Mensa compared to Art Howe. Grady Little is on his way to the Hall of Frigging Fame compared to Art Howe. Grady Little is positively Machi-frigging-vellian compared to Art Howe. I would KILL to hire Grady Little if it meant the end of Art Howe’s reign of buffoonery.

Because, as you see, John Franco can’t get ANYONE out. Couldn’t have gotten anyone in the 7th, I’m sure.

I HATE ART HOWE!!!!!
See how much fun you can have in a game chatter.

As for the bullpen management, it did suck. If he was that desperate for a lefty, he should have gone with John Franco, because Stanton had only pitched earlier with the bases loaded and sucked and because Ruben will swing at anything. He should have gone with Bottalico or Moreno (Looper would be way too far outside the box), but that's a different story all together. And leaving Dan Wheeler out there to start that inning when he was obviously gassed... yesterday was a fine example of how not to use a bullpen.

To be perfectly honest, there is no silver lining on Sunday. Sure, Hidalgo hit two homeruns, which means he could be headed on the right track, but Ginter stunk, Stanton stunk twice, Jose Contreras was almost unhittable (101 MPH on the gun...damn) and Steve "I suck on the road" Trachsel showed up. If you are wondering, here is Steve on the road...
6 GS, 32 IP, 7.88 ERA, 10 HR
Scarily, his ERA went down from 7.92 after yesterday's start (6 ER in 7 IP, but two of those are Art Howe's idiot managing fault). He's allowed 10 of his 12 homeruns on the road. At home he has a sterling 1.76 ERA (10 GS), which gives him that 3.74 ERA overall.

Let's be honest. The Mets were the clearly inferior team and as mad I am that I was actually pulled into that game last night, losing two out of three to the Yankees is not a bad thing. Now, losing two out three to Cincinatti again would be a bad thing.

Sunday, June 27, 2004
 
Shall I complain about Ricky Bottalico uselessly throwing 27 pitches in yesterday's game? I've come around on him being in in the 7th (cause no one wants to see Dan Wheeler in that situation), but was it necessary to pitch him in the 8th? Why couldn't Parra just take the final two...

Besides that, everything else yesterday was great. The Mets win 9-3 (and yes, I lied... it is sweeter beating up on the Yankees. Though I think its more of a thing where they are like the Lakers... you either like them or hate them).

Tampa Bay wins 6-4 over Florida. The Mets are now only two games out of both Florida and Philly, who won 9-2 over Boston.

(Pointless Aside: I saw the highlights of Joey Gathright yesterday and his stolen base... I think he might be the fastest player in the league. All I said was "Wow" when I saw the highlights. As said above, this is pointless, but I felt like saying it anyway).

Here is MLB.com with the story on this rotation stuff...
Tom Glavine will stay on turn and pitch Tuesday against Cincinnati, which means he will also start next Sunday at Shea Stadium against the Yankees. By pitching Tuesday, however, he also bumps Jae Seo, who will get the nod Wednesday.

"Obviously I would like to go on turn and stay every five days," Seo said. "But I guess I haven't been consistent enough for the manager and the coaching staff for them to be confident enough in me to be out there every five days. What's most important is for me to go out there and be productive whenever I do pitch.

"There is no question it is difficult [when the rotation spot is in jeopardy] to stay positive. At the same time, you have to be professional and do whatever you can in between starts to stay sharp. It's not an easy thing, but you have to tough it out."

Howe said that the only other casualty because of the rainout and scheduled off days would be Steve Trachsel. The veteran right-hander may have a start eliminated between now and the All-Star break, a situation the manager labeled "a negative".
A few interesting things here...

1. I'm an idiot. I forgot about the rainout and assumed Jae Seo would be available in the bullpen today for the doubleheader. But, of course, the rainout forces Leiter's nomral rest back to a start on Thursday, meaning they only flipped Glavine and Seo to get an extra start for Glavine and one against the Yankees, not to skip Jae Seo completely.

2. It's nice that the Mets are trying to keep Seo confident.

3. I'm sorta confused on the Trachsel thing... Why would they have to skip/eliminate a Trachsel start at some point before the break?

As for everyone's favorite player, well, the news actually sounds somewhat promising...
General manager Jim Duquette said that no decision had been made on what to do with him [Erickson] as of Saturday afternoon. It's almost impossible to trade Erickson, who is guaranteed $700,000 this season. He has options left, though, and could remain in Norfolk if he agrees to it. That, however, is an unlikely scenario. The veteran hurler is 1-3 with a 6.97 ERA in five starts for the Tides. (MLB.com)
It sounds like the Mets might actually cut ties and stop our bad Jae Seo start plus good Scott Erickson start worrying.

Steve Trachsel vs. Jose "Family Guy" Contreras in the day game and Matt Ginter vs. Mike Mussina in the nightcap. Let's Go Mets.


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