Betty's No Good Clothes Shop And Pancake House
Monday, May 31, 2004
  Marlins 2, Mets 1
Marlins 3, Mets 2
Marlins 8, Mets 6

Okay, this just isn't going to cut it. Nearly every story about current trade rumors involving the Mets lately centers on their search for another starting pitcher, whether it's Freddy Garcia or Kris Benson. What this ignores, of course, is the simple fact that starting pitching is not even close to be the team's biggest problem. Even with a shaky bullpen and subpar defense, the Mets rank eighth in the National League in runs allowed, fourth in team ERA. In sharp contrast to this mediocrity is the team's offense, tied for thirteenth in the league in runs scored. And while it's tempting to point to injuries to Jose Reyes, Cliff Floyd and Mike Cameron as mitigating circumstances, those circumstances are at least as likely to continue for the forseeable future as be rectified, meaning the team is going to have to find offense somewhere else if it hopes to play "meaningful games" come September. Any deal that gives up minor league talent in exchange for half a year of service from a starting pitcher, no matter who he is, would be foolish if the Mets don't also bring in another serious bat, preferably one who can both stay healthy and play right field.

On Friday, Tom Glavine pitched seven innings allowing two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out one. On Saturday, Jae Weong Seo pitched six innings, allowing two runs on five hits and five walks while striking out two. While both of these performances had their glaring flaws, the fact remains that the Mets' starting pitchers limited the opposition to just a pair of runs, and if that's not enough to get a win for their team, that team need not consider itself a contender. These losses can't even be lain at the feet of the bullpen, as the solo home run allowed by the suddenly human Braden Looper in the tenth inning of Saturday's game was the only tally allowed in five and one-third innings of relief work over those two days. The offense managed just three runs on twelve hits and five walks over two days, and no matter who's on the mound, that's just not going to win many games.

On Sunday, the offense finally managed to put some runs on the board, but the pitching, with a big assist from the defense, finally faltered, as Steve Trachsel lasted just three innings, allowing six runs, three earned, on six hits and one walk while striking out three. The Marlins' three unearned runs scored in the third, as Trachsel basically fell apart after Shane Spencer dropped a fly ball that would have ended the inning, allowing three consecutive extra base hits before finally recording that third out.

The offense did manage to get those runs back, thanks in large part to four home runs, two from Jason Phillips and one each from Karim Garcia and Ty Wigginton. The Mets got three solid innings of relief, two from Dan Wheeler and one from Orber Moreno. Art Howe elected to remove the effective Moreno after just eleven pitches, acting on his belief in Mike Stanton and David Weathers' ability to pitch effectively every damn day and not taking nutty fringe stat-geek stuff like their ERAs and sufficient evidence to the contrary. Those two, each pitching for the third time in this series, managed to put the game out of reach for the Mets, with a little help from a ground ball that Kazuo Matsui, Mike Piazza and the first base umpire couldn't quite turn into an out.

Tomorrow the Mets start a three game series with the Phillies, hoping to scrape by with another good starting pitching performance from Matt Ginter (1-0, 3.24) against Brett Myers (3-2, 4.31).
Thursday, May 27, 2004
  Phillies 7, Mets 4

The Matt Ginter performance pendulum swung back to excellent, but some shaky relief work and the awful defense you've come to expect from the New York Mets infield took a win out of his and the team's grasp. Ginter left after six innings having allowed zero runs on four hits and one walk while striking out one. He'd only thrown eighty-two pitches, but at the time he was pinch hit for, the Mets had a chance to add to their single run lead, which they did, although with no help from pinch hitter Eric Valent. Perhaps Ginter could have gone longer, but given that he was a reliever prior to this year and that the Mets wound up entering the seventh inning with a 3-0 lead, I didn't and don't think there was a whole lot of room to argue with the decision to remove Ginter at that time. In two out of his three starts he's given the Mets a tremendous outing and has already provided about as much value as I could have ever expected to get in exchange for Timo Perez, but asking much more of him than six shutout innings against one of the top offenses in the league is probably a stretch.

Of course, after he left, things did pretty much go to hell as Art Howe used four of his eight, count 'em, eight relievers in the top of the seventh inning. Ricky Bottalico started things off and the first batter reached when Kazuo Matsui booted a sharp grounder. After two runs had scored, one out had been recorded and John Franco had entered, the Mets had a chance to get out of the inning when, with runners on first and second, a sharp grounder was hit right at Mike Piazza. But his throw to second base sailed over Matsui's head and into left field, turning a possible double play into a game-tying error. Mike Stanton joined in on the seventh inning fun before David Weathers managed to get them out of it with the score at 6-3.

The Mets added one in the eighth on the last of three bases loaded walks they drew on the night but Braden Looper allowed another run in the ninth and the bottom of the Mets' lineup was unable to score any runs in the bottom of the ninth.

Getting a split out of this two-game series isn't the worst thing in the world for the Mets, but given how close they came to sweeping it, it was definitely a disappointment. The Mets get another day off tomorrow before heading to Florida, where hopefully things will turn out a little bit better.
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
  Mets 5, Phillies 0

Can the Mets hang with the elite of the National League East? Well, so far, so good. They got another inexplicably dominant performance out of Steve Trachsel on Tuesday, shutting down a potent Phillies lineup for six and two-thirds innings, which would have been seven but for a Ty Wigginton error. As usual, Trachsel didn't strike out a ton, and walked more guys than you'd like, but somehow still managed to keep the opposition off the scoreboard. He struck out an unusually high six, but walked four while allowing just four hits. His strikeout and walk rates continue to be unimpressive and while he's done a decent job limiting home runs this year, something he didn't so much do last year, you'd have to think that at some point the hits would start falling in and he'd get in trouble. But whatever he's doing, it's working, as he's allowed just fifty-five hits and sixty-three and two-thirds innings after allowing almost exactly a hit per inning last year. It's hard to believe he can keep this up in the long run, but perhaps he really is just some sort of exception.

After Wigginton blew an easy grounder and Trachsel's shot at seven scoreless, Mike Stanton came in and got Jimmy Rollins to swing and miss at ball four, neatly transforming it into strike three. He went another inning with another strikeout and a walk before John Franco came in to pitch a scoreless ninth, striking out one and walking one.

On the other side of things, the Mets weren't exactly pounding the ball, but got on board in the third thanks to a walk and three singles, all coming with two outs. Mike Piazza added to things with this tenth home run of the season to lead off the sixth. And Cliff Floyd drove in a pair with a double in the seventh. Kazuo Matsui scored one of those runs after drawing his second walk of the game and stealing his fourth base of the year.

The Mets don't get such a favorable pitching matchup to end this mini-series on Wednesday, as while Brett Myers (3-2, 4.25) has struggled some for the Phillies this year, he's not nearly the question mark that Matt Ginter (1-0, 5.06) is. Will we get the Matt Ginter who kept his team in the game against Roger Clemens, or the one who limped his way to a victory against the Rockies on Friday? The Mets, one game above .500 and two games out of first place, certainly hope it's the former, but even if it's somewhere in between, the Mets might just have enough offense to cover him.

Oh, and Jose Reyes sat out a game with a sore lower back, but it doesn't appear to be too serious. Hopefully.
Monday, May 24, 2004
  How's the weather in that cave in which you've been living?

"The only other teams that haven't had a no-hitter are San Diego, Colorado, Arizona and Tampa Bay, the last three having started playing baseball in the last 11 years." (emphasis added)

Yeah, that was posted on the New York Times website today. Maybe he doesn't own a television.
Sunday, May 23, 2004
  Mets 4, Rockies 0

Don Cardwell. Warren Spahn. Dock Ellis. John Candelaria. Tom Seaver. Nolan Ryan. Mike Scott. Al Leiter. Hideo Nomo. Dean Chance. Bret Saberhagen. Kenny Rogers. Dwight Gooden. David Cone.

All wore a Mets jersey at one point in their major league career. All pitched a no-hitter a one point in their major league career. None did both of these things at the same time. Tom Glavine came within four outs of becoming the first in forty-three years of New York Mets history to pull off that feat, but a Kit Pellow double off of the right field wall brought his no-hit bid to an end. Glavine's shot at becoming the second ancient lefty in a week to toss a perfect game had come to an end in the seventh when he walked leadoff batter Denny Hocking. Glavine did finish the game for the first time as a Met, allowing just that one hit and that one walk while striking out eight to earn his sixth win of the year. Before the season began, I thought there was a pretty good chance that Glavine would be better this year than he was the last, but I never thought he'd bounce back all the way to the ace, All-Star kind of form he's shown thus far. A no-hitter would've been some tasty icing for this cake, but at 6-2 with a 2.13 ERA, you can't ask for anything more out of Glavine.

Of course, the Mets did have to score some runs for Glavine's one-hit shutout to count for anything, and they once again got that out of the way in a hurry. Kazuo Matsui, for the fifth time this season and the second in as many days, led off the first inning with a home run. He went two for three on the day, adding a double and a walk as is now hitting .260/.337/.435. Not spectacular numbers, but for a shortstop, not bad at all, and in addition to being the best-hitting shortstop in town (at .190/.251/.277, the other guy's not putting up much of a fight), Kazuo's also adjusting to the major leagues more quickly than Hideki Matsui, who was hitting just .270/.318/.383 with three home runs on this date last year. The elder Matsui is up to .282/.390/.456 with six home runs so far this year, so if this is what Kazuo does during his adjustment period, how well is he going to hit over the life of his contract? There's a long way to go in this season and on that contract, but given that he's already gone through a terrible slump and bounced back, the signing of Kazuo Matsui is looking like a pretty good one for the Mets.

Cliff Floyd added another home run in the first, his fourth of the season, and went two for four on the day. Ty Wigginton and Mike Piazza each had doubles on the day.

One thing that shouldn't be forgotten about Glavine's gem of a game is that it put the Mets at .500, 22 and 22, heading into a stretch of games against the top two teams in the division, the Phillies and Marlins. With the team playing well and Jose Reyes apparently on his way back, for real this time, sitting at .500 isn't a bad position to be in at all.
  Mets 5, Rockies 4

Is it time to scrap the Tyler Yates, Starting Pitcher experiment? Not that the Mets really have anyone to replace him in the starting rotation until Al Leiter gets back, or a spot for him in the bullpen, but after Saturday's start, it may be time to start thinking about sending him back to the role he played in the minors prior to last year. Yates started off strong, striking out two of the first three batters he faced, but ran out of steam quickly, lasting just four and one-third innings, allowing four runs on six hits and four walks while striking out three. Yates has proven capable of getting major league hitters out, but as of yet he hasn't shown that he can do it particularly well the second time through the lineup. And no, the Expos don't count. Maybe Yates can still build up the endurance to be a starter, and whatever he's going to be, he's probably going to be it in Norfolk once Leiter gets back, but at this point, the Mets should at least consider the idea of moving him back to the bullpen.

Luckily for Yates and the rest of the Mets, the offense did manage to put some runs on the board. Kazuo Matsui led off the first with his fourth home run of the season, all leadoff shots, to kick off a three-run inning built on a hit batter, a walk, an error and a Jason Phillips RBI single. And with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Ty Wigginton hit a two-run homer to put the Mets on top and leave things in the hands of Braden Looper.

The Mets got four and two-thirds good innings out of their bullpen, starting with Dan Wheeler striking out two in the fifth to get Yates out of jam. Wheeler went one and two-thirds, striking out three, allowing two hits and one walk. And one day after giving up his first earned runs of the season, Looper was back to his old stingy self, allowing just one hit while striking out two in the ninth to earn his seventh save of the season.

This win left the Mets once again on the precipice of adequacy, one game shy of .500 with Tom Glavine going up against former Met mistake Shawn Estes.
Saturday, May 22, 2004
  Mets 9, Rockies 7

So Braden Looper gave up his first earned run of the season. And then, he gave up his second earned run of the season. Looper struck out the first two batters he faced in the ninth after the Mets had robbed him of another save opportunity by scoring a couple of runs in the bottom of the eighth. Three hits, a walk and two runs later, Todd Helton was up as a pinch hitter trying to put the Rockies on top, but Looper managed to get him to ground out, keeping his newfound ERA at 0.79.

While the final score might look like that of a game played at Coors Field, this game was in fact played at Shea. It was just that a couple of inexperienced starting pitchers got smacked around pretty thoroughly. Got Baldwin'd, if you will. The Rockies' Jason Young was out after just three innings, having allowed six runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out two. Matt Ginter fared a little bit better in earning his first win as a starter and as a Met, but his performance was a far cry from what he showed in his Mets debut on Sunday. Ginter went five innings, and while his five strikeouts look nice, the seven hits, two walks and five runs do a pretty good job of overshadowing them.

But it was the Mets' offense that managed to pick up their starting pitcher on this night, as they racked up nine doubles among their fourteen hits, as well as a solo home run by Mike Piazza, his ninth. Kazuo Matsui had a good night, going two for four with a double and a walk. And Danny Garcia added a pair of doubles and a walk while the guy whose job he's temporarily holding, Jose Reyes was down in Florida going one for two with a stolen base on his apparently healthy legs. Jason Phillips also had a pair of doubles, and even the terribly slumping Mike Cameron got in on the act with one of his own. Ty Wigginton, Karim Garcia and Cliff Floyd rounded out the barrage of two-base hits.

Tonight, Tyler Yates (1-4, 6.04) returns to the majors to square off with Aaron Cook (0-0, 9.00).
Friday, May 21, 2004
  He done did it again

Last year Scott Kazmir spent 76 1/3 dominant innings with Capital City before getting called up to St. Lucie. During that time, he posted a 2.36 ERA, struck out 12.4 batters per nine innings, walked 3.3 and allowed 0.7 home runs. Yusmeiro Petit's only been in Cap City for 44 1/3 innings, but so far this year he's owning the South Atlantic League even more thoroughly than Kazmir. Yesterday, he went six innings, allowed just two hits, two walks and zero runs, and struck out ten. He's striking out batters at a rate of 11.9 per nine, slightly off Kazmir's pace, but he's also walking just 2.8 and allowing just 0.4 home runs while posting a 1.62 ERA. The 6'0", 180 lb. Petit doesn't seem to be on a Kazmir-like pitch count, as he's racking up innings more quickly than Kazmir ever has. It may still be too early to talk about a promotion for Petit, but with the way he's pitching this year, we should get to see what he can do for a decent amount of time in the Florida State League before the end of the year, which should give us a chance to see if he can keep up anything resembling this dominating pace at higher levels of the minors.

Oh, and Jose Reyes is apparently going to play a baseball game tonight and Kazmir apparently isn't too far away from doing the same. So that's nice to see.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
  Cardinals 11, Mets 4

Well, I guess this is what it's supposed to look like when this Mets team takes on this Cardinals team. The Mets got mediocre starting pitching, awful relief work, generally poor infield defense and not a lot of offense. But hey, Karim Garcia did rob Scott Rolen of a home run, which was pretty cool. Jae Weong Seo got the start and went five innings, allowing four runs on five hits and four walks while striking out three. Dan Wheeler pitched a couple of innings and gave up one run on four hits. But it was David Weathers who really let this game get away. Weathers, pitching for the first time since last week, went two-thirds of an inning and gave up six runs, three earned, on five hits and one walk, striking out none and allowing one home run. Mike Piazza, Kazuo Matsui and Todd Zeile were all charged with an error, but it was Piazza's play at first base that seemed to be the main culprit in the defensive collapse. Playing Piazza at first base is definitely a good thing for the Mets' offense, but they're going to have to deal with some days like this along the way.

Piazza did contribute with the bat, going two for five with a double, while Vance Wilson did the same. Zeile's first inning two-run home run got the Mets off to a good start, but after the first four batters of the game reached base, the offense cooled off considerably, failing to score any more in the first with two on and none out in the first and getting only one run from a bases loaded, no out situation in the third.

The Mets should have an easier task over the weekend as the Rockies come down to earth and into town. They'll have to make due without Al Leiter, though, as the lefty hit the DL and will miss at least one start. Tomorrow's game will see Matt Ginter (0-0, 1.59) try to follow up on his strong first start against Jason Young (0-0, 10.13).
  Cardinals 1, Mets 0

You know, if you keep entering the ninth inning of games trailing, you're eventually going to lose one. Tonight, the Mets got the top of their lineup to the plate in the final frame, but they went in order, thus saving you from having to read a diatribe about pinch running for your best hitter in the seventh inning of a scoreless game and the relative merits thereof. But before it came down to all of that, the Mets got the kind of starting pitching performance they got used to getting in the early weeks of the season. Unfortunately, along with it came the kind of offense they came to expect during that same period, leaving Steve Trachsel with a no decision to show for his seven scoreless innings.

Trachsel gave up just five hits and one walk while striking out four, but Mike Stanton and Ricky Bottlico combined to let a run, charged to Stanton, score in the eighth to give the Cardinals the margin of victory. Stanton gave up an infield hit to the first batter he faced, got an out and then exited in favor of Bottalico, who pitched a pair of innings just one day earlier and allowed a two-out double to Scott Rolen to drive home the game's lone run.

The Mets' offense managed just four hits and two walks, including that one by Mike Piazza in the seventh that got him taken out of the game for a pinch runner. Piazza also had a hit, while Eric Valent and Ty Wigginton, starting at second base, interestingly, each had doubles to provide the team's offensive highlights.

The Mets have won a lot of game that maybe they shouldn't have over the last week and a half, but they've also done a darn good job of losing the games they should win. Of course, if they could keep up that trick for a whole season, that might not be so bad for a team many predicted to lose more than they'd win. Tomorrow afternoon's pitching matchup doesn't really look to favor the Mets as Jae Weong Seo (2-3, 4.99) takes on Jason Marquis (2-3, 3.44). If we can all agree that this is a game the Mets "shouldn't" necessarily win, maybe they'll have a shot.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
  Mets 5, Cardinals 4

Another day, another dramatic win for the New York Mets. The Mets came up against yet another tough pitcher in Matt Morris, who managed to get the better of Tom Glavine. Glavine struck out six through six innings while walking none, but the Cardinals managed four runs on eight hits, including a home run by Mike Matheny, while the Mets were only able to reach Morris for three runs through six and one-third innings. But the Mets got more good work out of their bullpen as Orber Moreno pitched a scoreless inning and Ricky Bottalico pitched two of his own, while the St. Louis bullpen wasn't quite so sucessful.

The Mets entered the bottom of the ninth down 4-3 on the strength of a solo home run by Jason Phillips, his second on the season an in as many games, and a two-run shot by Cliff Floyd, his third. The bottom of the lineup came up to lead off the ninth, but Mike Cameron walked and moved up on a Joe McEwing sacrifice. Karim Garcia then walked in the pitcher's spot and after Eric Valent struck out, Kazuo Matsui kept the Mets alive with a broken-bat RBI single to right, driving in Cameron. Then all that was left was for Floyd to finish things off with an RBI single of his own. While the Mets continue to get offensive contributions from a lot of spots in the lineup, Floyd's return from injury has certainly provided a boost for a Mets team now only one win shy of the .500 mark.

Tonight, as the Mets try to reach that break-even point, they finally get a bit of a break as far as the pitching matchup goes, as Jeff Suppan (3-4, 4.29) goes for the Cardinals against Steve Trachsel (4-3, 3.60). There's still a long way to go, but if the Mets can get to .500 in this National League East that no one seems to want to win, they'll be in pretty good shape just a week after this season looked like it might be slipping away from them.
Monday, May 17, 2004
  Astros 7, Mets 4
Mets 3, Astros 2

After a disastrous start on Monday in which he allowed six earned runs while recording just six outs, emerging with a 27.00 ERA, James Baldwin bounced back on Saturday to get through four innings while allowing just four runs, thus lowering his ERA all the way to 15.00. Of course, that's still terrible and wasn't enough to beat Andy Pettitte. The bullpen didn't help Baldwin out any, as Orber Moreno allowed two runs in two innings while striking out four and Mike Stanton allowed another in the seventh. The Mets did manage to reach Pettitte for four runs of their own through six innings as Jason Phillips led the way with a pair of doubles and three RBI. Mike Piazza and Kazuo Matsui each had doubles as well, but it wasn't enough to save the game or Baldwin's job. Before Sunday's game, he was mercifully designated for assignment to make way for...

Matt Ginter, the converted reliever acquired for Timo Perez before the start of the season who posted a 1.56 ERA at Norfolk and got his first major league start on Sunday. Ginter gave some reason to believe that, Baldwin's performance notwithstanding, stats posted in Norfolk do mean something, as he pitched very well for five and two-thirds innings. He allowed two runs, but only one of them was earned as his defense and the second base umpire let him down in the sixth inning. With one on and one out, Todd Zeile's error allowed Morgan Ensberg to reach. After Ginter got the second out, Brad Ausmus reached on an infield single that should have been a fielder's choice when Ensberg clearly slid past the bag at second base and was tagged out by Danny Garcia. But he was called safe and after Art Howe shockingly got himself thrown out of the game arguing, the man who outdid Ginter's fine pitching effort, Roger Clemens, singled to drive in the second run.

After that, though, the Mets' bullpen shut the Astros down, although there were plenty of tense moments. Ricky Bottalico got the next four outs, three of them via strikeouts and then gave way to Braden Looper and his 0.00 ERA. Looper gave up singles to the first three batters he faced, but with the bases loaded, he got a short flyout, a strikeout and another flyout to keep the score at 2-0.

The Mets then sent the top of their lineup to the plate in the top of the ninth against former Met and current Astros closer Octavio Dotel. The still-hot Eric Valent led off with a double, but Kazuo Matsui and Cliff Floyd went down swinging. So Mike Piazza came to the plate with a runner on second base, two outs, a two-run deficit on the scoreboard and Todd Zeile on deck. Did they walk him? Nope. Did they give him something to hit? Yup. Did he jack it? You know he did. Down to his last strike, Piazza tied the game up with his eighth home run of the season and after Looper pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth, including two strikeouts, the game went to extra innings.

Mike Stanton came in to pitch the tenth and got through two innings, but not before he loaded the bases with three walks, one intentional, in the eleventh. This bases loaded jam didn't come up until there were two out, thanks in part to the Astros' love affair with the sacrifice bunt, and Stanton got Lance Berkman to ground out on a full count to end the threat. Dan Wheeler relieved Stanton in the twelfth and got through the inning relatively smoothly, allowing just one hit. Then, in the top of the thirteenth, Jason Phillips, who was double-switched in with Stanton, hit his first home run of the season to put the Mets on top. Phillips, whose season has gotten off to a dreadful start, has been hitting pretty well ever since Art Howe decided last week that Piazza would be playing more first base than catcher. Phillips had four hits in the last two games of this series, three for extra bases, and is making the case that he, not Vance Wilson, should be the team's regular catcher.

Wheeler pitched the bottom of the thirteenth to finish off the game and get the win, striking out three while allowing two hits through two innings, and the Mets wound up 4-3 on this tough road trip. After they lost the first two games of the trip, the two "easy" games, things looked bleak, but they won four out of five against Randy Johnson, Brandon Webb, Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens, only losing the game started by their worst starting pitcher, and suddenly this team's fortunes have swung back to the optimistic side thanks to some good pitching and timely hitting. Now the Mets come home to start a series on Tuesday with the Cardinals, not exactly the toughest pitching team in the league, and this 18-20 team is once again tantalizingly close to .500. And hey, at least we know James Baldwin won't be around to screw it up.
Sunday, May 16, 2004
  Yusmeiro watch

Six innings. Five hits. Three runs (two earned). One walk. Eight strikeouts. Scott who?

Petit's ERA now sits at 1.88 and he's struck out forty-nine through thirty-eight and one-third innings while walking just twelve and allowing just two home runs. Feel free to add your own superlatives.
Saturday, May 15, 2004
  Mets 8, Astros 3

Three down, two to go. The Mets' surprising assault on some of the best arms in the league continued tonight as the return of Cliff Floyd to the lineup kept on paying dividends. After notching an RBI single on his first night back, the Mets' leftfielder got right back to business on night two of his return, cranking a grand slam in the third inning to put a serious damper on Roy Oswalt's evening. The Mets had already gotten a solo home run from Mike Piazza in the second, his seventh on the year, and Floyd's blast put them up for good as Steve Trachsel held the Astros well enough in check. Trachsel went six innings, allowing those three runs on five hits and two walks while striking out just one to earn his fourth win of the season. Ricky Bottalico struck out two through two and Orber Moreno K'd one in one for three innings of scoreless relief.

As for the rest of the offense, Eric Valent, playing first base, had another good game in the leadoff spot, going two for three with a walk. Kazuo Matsui did well batting behind Valent once again, with a pair of hits in five at bats. Matsui, Floyd, Joe McEwing and Danny Garcia all had doubles on the night as the Mets' offense continued to look good. It's probably asking a lot for Valent to keep up his .306/.400/.503 pace for too much longer, but with Matsui, Floyd and Piazza all hitting well in the heart of the lineup and getting a bit of support from the various role players, this offense could continue to look very respectable, even without that guy who's supposed to be batting second. All of a sudden the team has a dependable second baseman, a, well, potentially adequate third baseman and an abundance of reasonable options at first base and in rightfield. With the offense playing the way it is, and the starting pitchers doing their part, it may just be too early to write off this 17-19 third place team that still has more runs scored than allowed on the season.

Tomorrow, Andy Pettitte (3-1, 3.22) goes for the Astros while James Baldwin (0-1, 27.00) bafflingly gets another shot for the Mets. So after the Mets lose that game they'll be three and three on this road trip and looking to make it a winning journey against an old rival on Sunday. Al Leiter won't go on Sunday, but that will apparently be the only start he'll miss, which is of course very encouraging news.
Friday, May 14, 2004
  Mets 7, Diamonbacks 4

The Mets managed to salvage a split of this series, and did it in the most improbable fashion, beating Randy Johnson and Brandon Webb on consecutive nights. Jae Weong Seo didn't have a great night, as a blister force him to leave after just five innings, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks, but it was enough to best his fellow sophomore starter thanks to another good offensive showing by the Mets.

The big blow was a three-run homer by Vance Wilson, of all people. Danny Garcia also homered as part of a two for three night. Mike Cameron also had a pair of hits and a stolen base, but was also caught by the old "fake to third, throw to first" trick. Kazuo Matsui had another fine game, with a single in three at bats, two walks and a stolen base. And Cliff Floyd made his return to the lineup, hitting an RBI single in five at bats.

David Weathers gave up a solo home run in relief, but John Franco, Mike Stanton and Braden Looper each pitched a scoreless inning, with Looper picking up his sixth save of the season and his second in as many nights.

The biggest story of the day is probably the health of the Mets' starting rotation, though. And Seo's blister problem is hardly the worst of it. Al Leiter has headed back to New York to get an MRI on his shoulder, and will miss at least his next start on Sunday. Matt Ginter will likely get the start on Sunday, but with Seo's various finger problems and James Baldwin pitching like James Baldwin, the Mets may have some serious problems to deal with in the very near future. Heck, they may have to give Aaron Heilman another shot in the majors. Heilman struck out eight through five and two-thirds innings tonight, but took the loss after allowing four runs, three earned, on eight hits and two walks. His ERA is now 4.12, but the only other part of his stat sheet that doesn't look good is the hit line, with his strikeout rate (8.69 per nine innings) looking particularly impressive. Whether the forty-eight hits he's allowed in thirty-nine and two-thirds innings can be attributed to the defense behind him or something he's doing wrong can't be said for sure. But I would guess that he's pitched better than his ERA indicates and wouldn't mind seeing him called up in the near future.

Tomorrow the Mets try to continue mowing down the best pitchers the National League has to offer as Steve Trachsel (3-3, 3.48) takes on Roy Oswalt (2-1, 2.90) and the Astros.
  A word from the author (no, not me, the guy who wrote the book)

Mets Fans:

It's me—Jeff Pearlman, author of "The Bad Guys Won" about the '86 Mets. Have a favor. Book has been out for two weeks (good reviews and good sales, I might add) and I have a favor. For anyone reading it and/or anyone who has read it or plans on reading it, I'd love to be made aware of any factiual screw-ups found. Three relatively small ones have been brought to my attention thus far. It's very important, because things can be altered in the paperback.

Anyhow, I can be e-mailed at Help, as always, hugely appreciated. Also dig good/big feedback.


Jeff Pearlman
Thursday, May 13, 2004
  The Gut gets the boot

Ricky Gutierrez and his .463 OPS are on their way off of the Mets roster, as the expendable middle infielder has been designated for assignated to make room for Cliff Floyd on the roster. This is of course the right move, as the Mets have no use for Gutierrez now that Danny Garcia is outplaying him both offensively and defensively. Of course, I thought Gutierrez's job should've been Garcia's even before it became Gutierrez's. When the Jose Reyes situation cuased the Mets to need a starting second baseman for a significant period of time, Gutierrez's relative incompetence became all the more glaring and dumping him became the obvious move. It would have been nice if the Mets had realized what they had in Garcia before they ever went out and got Gutierrez, but better late than never, I suppose.
  Diamondbacks 9, Mets 5
Mets 1, Diamondbacks 0

The second game of this road trip looked like the Mets' best chance for a win from a pitching matchup standpoint. But Al Leiter walked his way to an early shower and another solid outing from the Mets' offense wasn't enough to salvage a win. Leiter walked five through just four innings, four unintentionally, leading to him allowing five runs on just three hits. Kazuo Matsui and Ty Wigginton hit well for the second straight night, each racking up two hits, with Matsui adding a walk to his pair of doubles while Wigginton hit his third home run of the season. But in addition to Leiter's poor performance, Mike Stanton pitched his worst inning of the year, allowing four runs on a two-out Steve Finley grand slam in the sixth to put the game out of reach.

Tonight was day one of a five day gauntlet of some of the best pitching the National League has to offer taking the mound off the Mets, with a theoretically great staring pitching matchup pitting Randy Johnson against Tom Glavine. The game didn't quite live up to its billing to start off, as the first batter, Matsui, took Johnson deep for his third home run of the year. All three of them have been of the leadoff variety for the man who is clearly the most productive shortstop in New York at the moment. But that wound up being the only blemish on the scoreboard, as both Johnson and Glavine sparkled the rest of the way. Johnson went seven innings, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out seven, but it wasn't enough to best the ace of the New York Mets. Glavine bounced back from his worst start of the season with another brilliant performance, going seven and two-thirds, allowing just three hits and two walks, one semi-intentional, while striking out three. He lowered his ERA to 2.05 while picking up his fifth win of the season against two losses. With more than one-fifth of the Mets' season complete, Glavine's return to form has been just remarkable. I don't know what to attribute it to, and hardly want to speculate for fear of whatever magic is affecting him wearing off, but he's clearly more confident, whether in his defense or the dimensions of the strike zone, than he was last year and seems determined to prevent the Mets from falling off a cliff, even it he has to do it all by himself.

Braden Looper continued his own nearly flawless season by pitching another inning and one-third scoreless to earn his fifth save of the season and keep the "ER" column of his stat sheet blank. He didn't strike anyone out, and hit one batter, but he got the job done once again and continues to be one of the most pleasant surprises of the season.

Runs look like they'll be at a premium for the Mets once again tomorrow as Brandon Webb (2-2, 3.02) pitches for Arizona while Jae Weong Seo (1-3, 4.91) tries to put the Mets in position to split this series before heading off to Houston. It seems like he might have some new offensive backup, as Cliff Floyd apparently could be in the lineup for the first time in weeks. Hopefully the Mets will do the right thing and dump Ricky Gutierrez to make room on the roster.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
  Diamondbacks 12, Mets 8

Hey, guess what? James Baldwin sucks. But you knew that already. The man with the 5.02 career ERA went out and added to it, recording just six outs while being charged with six runs on seven hits and two walks, with a pair of home runs mixed in, while striking out none. And most of those six outs were hard hit flyballs to deep centerfield. An easily predictable disaster like this makes you wonder if this organization has any idea what the hell they're doing. In the end it's just one start for a guy who was scheduled to pitch today anyway taking the place of a guy who needed a few more days to deal with a cracked fingernail. If the Mets learn something from this and we never see Baldwin pitch again, you can hardly get too upset about it. But that they expected something better than this, and perhaps even had plans of Baldwin sticking around at the major league level, makes you shake your head.

Dan Wheeler got knocked around as well in relief, allowing six runs of his own on six hits, one walk and three home runs while striking out one. Ricky Bottalico and Orber Moreno at least gave the Mets a few good innings, with the former tossing two and two-thirds scoreless, striking out three, walking one and allowing one hit, and the latter pitching a pair of perfect innings with one strikeout mixed in.

Of course, the Mets scored some runs as well, as Arizona starter Casey Daigle got smacked around pretty well himself. Ty Wigginton had a career high five hits, including a double. Mike Piazza and Eric Valent each had three hits, including a double, and a walk. Mike Cameron hit hits seventh home run of the season, a solo shot in the ninth. And Kazuo Matsui went two for three with a double before fouling a ball off of his ankle and being a subsequently removed as part of a double switch that resulted in Ricky Bottalico batting for himself with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth.

Tomorrow is the last day before the Mets run up against a five-day buzzsaw of starting pitchers that will start with Randy Johnson and end with Roger Clemens on Sunday. Tomorrow, they just have to deal with Elmer Dessens (1-4, 7.85) as Al Leiter (1-1, 1.53) takes the mound still leading the league in ERA. Presumably they'll be able to put up a little bit of run support for Leiter against Dessens.

On a slightly happier note, the Mets are apparently considering possibly looking into maybe trying something new to deal with Jose Reyes' recurring hamstring problem.
Monday, May 10, 2004

Does anyone know why Scott Kazmir hasn't pitched in almost two weeks? I haven't heard anything about an injury, but haven't seen his name pop up in a box score since the 26th. Any information would be much appreciated.
  Brewers 6, Mets 4
Mets 6, Brewers 5 (11)

The Mets entered the weekend having just swept the Giants in dramatic fashion and hoping to finish up a six game homestand strong against a mediocre opponent in the Brewers. Instead, they wound up barely averting being swept themselves, thanks in part to some of the weakest starting lineups of the year. This offense is bound to have some trouble scoring runs without Shane Spencer on the field, and who'd've thought before the season started that that would be the case?

On Saturday, Tyler Yates had another poor start and got himself demoted to Norfolk. He went just five innings and allowed five runs on eight hits and four walks while striking out five. While the increase in his strikeout rate was a nice development, I am perfectly willing to accept the idea that Yates is in need of a little more time in the minors to develop, having been a starter for less than a year and a half. The Mets choice as to who should replace him, on the other hand, I don't understand. For a team alleging trying to get "younger and more athletic" this year, the Mets sure don't seem to have found a job being held by a youngster that some guy in his thirties who had a good year three or four years ago can't do better. In this case, the newest Met is the thirty-two year old James Baldwin. Baldwin started five games for Norfolk, posting a respectable 2.90 ERA in 31 innings. He struck out 24, walked just five and allowed 34 hits, three of them home runs. While someone like him might be of use to a team in contention and in need of a fifth starter just adequate enough not to ruin their chances, he doesn't make a whole lot of sense for a team in the Mets' situation. I suppose this could be another instance of the Mets hoping a veteran will get hot enough to acquire some trade value and fetch them some prospects, but given how well that strategy's worked out so far with Scott Erickson, who's now been moved to the 60-day DL, I find it hard to be very optimistic about that possibility. It would make a lot more sense to give Yates' spot to someone who's both performing well in Norfolk and young enough to have a chance of being around the next time the Mets are in the position to contend for something. While both Matt Ginter and Aaron Heilman have their downsides, Ginter's durability being the most obvious question mark, this team is eventually going to have to give a young player a chance to prove himself at the major league level if the alleged youth movement is going to get underway. Danny Garcia has acquitted himself well since the Mets were basically forced to use him when he clearly outplayed his veteran competition. Why couldn't Heilman do the same? Putting Baldwin in the rotation is just more standing still for the Mets, when they should be keeping at least one eye on the future.

On Sunday, the Mets got good starting pitching and some offense to go along with it. Steve Trachsel went six innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on seven hits and two walks while striking out five. And by the time he left the game, a Mets lineup without Spencer, Mike Piazza or Kazuo Matsui had managed to score three runs. But the bullpen, with a little help from Art Howe, managed to blow the lead after Trachsel left and only an unusually adequate offense could prevent the Mets from getting swept. Trachsel got into trouble in the seventh and John Franco managed to get him out of it, allowing only one inherited runner to score while recording three outs and preserving the lead. But in the eighth, when Franco put two runners on with two outs, Howe didn't bring in the best reliever in his bullpen, the only who hasn't allowed an earned run all year and hasn't had a save opportunity in weeks. No, he brought in David Weathers, who threw a wild pitch, allowed a walk and a hit, gave up the lead and failed to record an out before being relieved by Mike Stanton and by the time the inning was over, the Mets were down by two. Now, bringing in Braden Looper to start the inning might have been a little much, but if you're going to bring someone in with two on and two out while holding on to a one run lead in the eighth inning, why would it be anyone but the best guy you've got? A lot of Looper's inability to get save opportunities latest has been pure bad luck on his part, but in this case, it was pure Art Howe.

The Mets managed to tie the game up in the bottom of the inning as Jason Phillips and pinch hitter Mike Piazza drew walks and with two outs, pinch hitter Ty Wigginton drove in pinch runners Kazuo Matsui and Jae Weong Seo to tie the game. Using Seo as a pinch runner was an unusually creative move from Howe, but he didn't have much of a bench left at that point, so it's hard to give him too much credit. The Mets got more two-out heroics in the eleventh as Todd Zeile walked, Karim Garcia reached on an infield single and Matsui doubled over the wall in center to win the game. The Mets managed to win despite a lineup full of backups and some bullpen bungling, and hopefully this dramatic win will do a better job sparking the team to a winning streak than the last one did.

Tomorrow, Seo (1-3, 4.91) resumes his normal role of starting pitcher, apparently having put his fingernail issues behind him to take on Casey Daigle (1-1, 6.75) and the Diamondbacks, fresh off a weekend sweep at the hands of the Phillies.
Sunday, May 09, 2004
  Petit does it again

Yusmeiro Petit had another excellent start on Saturday, going six and one-third innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on two hits and two walks while striking out ten. His 1.67 ERA is second best among Mets minor league starters (Matt Ginter's at 1.30 for Norfolk) and his strikeout rate of 11.41 per nine innings is the best among starters (thanks to 3AM for the excellent stats). Through thirty-two and two-thirds innings, he's struck out 41, walked 11 and allowed just one home run. His 3.73 strikeout to walk ratio is almost exactly the same as the 3.75 Scott Kazmir put up for Capital City last year.

Also in Cap City, Ian Bladergroen continues to hit, putting up a .360/.422/.702 line through 114 at bats.

Elsewhere in the minors, David Wright has gone a couple of days without a hit, but he's still drawing walks and hitting .336/.459/.600 through 110 at bats. Prentice Redman is still beating up on the youngsters as well, hitting .315/.384/.604 through 11 at bats. And Matt Peterson continues to excel on the mound for Binghamton, posting a 2.27 ERA with 30 strikeouts, eight walks and three home runs through thirty-one and two-thirds innings.

At Norfolk, the aforementioned Matt Ginter has been the star on the mound, striking out 24 and walking just three through twenty-seven and two-thirds innings to earn that 1.30 ERA. He has yet to allow a home run. Aaron Heilman's 4.01 ERA isn't that pretty as he's allowed a ton of hits, but he's struck out 30 through thirty-three and two-thirds innings while walking ten and allowing four home runs. The Norfolk bats have gone cold, though, as Mike Jacobs and Victor Diaz continue to struggle and Craig Brazell continues to rack up more home runs than walks.
Saturday, May 08, 2004
  Brewers 7, Mets 5

A couple of minor injuries led the Mets to start the laughable outfield of Eric Valent, Joe McEwing and Karim Garcia. Ty Wigginton returned from the disabled list, pushed Jason Phillips to the bench and picked up right where he had left off, swinging at the first pitch he saw, exactly the way Barry Bonds doesn't. With all of these forces conspiring against him, Tom Glavine picked a bad time to have his worst start of the season. Not that Glavine was terrible, mind you. Aside from the third inning, when he allowed four runs on five hits, including a pair of home runs, he didn't pitch badly at all. But when he threw his 106th and final pitch in the sixth inning, he was down 4-0, having allowed six hits and three walks while striking out four.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Mets tried to get some runs for Glavine, as consecutive two-out RBI singles by Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile cut the deficit in half. But that was as close as they would get, as ineffective relief pitching, poor defense by Piazza, Wigginton and pinch "hitter" turned second baseman Ricky Gutierrez allowed the Brewers to tack on three more runs.

The Mets did stage a nearly miraculous two-out rally in the ninth as pinch hitter Vance Wilson walked, Valent singled and McEwing provided a data point for the "sunshine on a dog's ass" theory of sports by hitting a three-run home run. And then, with Shane Spencer and Mike Cameron sitting on the bench, allegedly capable of pinch hitting, Gutierrez came to the plate and predictably made the last out of the game.

Tomorrow, Tyler Yates (1-3, 5.40) tries to prove himself capable of pitching well against a team other than the Expos while the Brewers send Adrian Hernandez (0-2, 10.03) to the mound for his first start of the season. Hopefully the Mets' outfield will have more than one guy who can hit major league pitching in it.
Friday, May 07, 2004
  Mets 2, Giants 1 (11)

The Mets have had plenty of "good pitching, no hitting" games thus far this season, but tonight's performance by Al Leiter against a lineup with Barry Bonds in it may have been the most impressive of the year. Leiter went eight innings, throwing a ridiculous 126 pitches. He allowed only five hits, with just a solo home run by Pedro Feliz in the seventh effecting the score. And he struck out six while walking none. That's right, he pitched eight innings and didn't even walk Bonds. In fact, Leiter faced Bonds three times and got him out all three times, twice with men on base.

That one run was looking like it might be enough with the way Jason Schmidt was pitching, as this game lived up to its promise as a terrific pitchers' duel. But the Mets managed to find just enough offense to get by, getting three hits and three walks out of Schmidt, with Karim Garcia's solo home run in the bottom of the seventh tying the game up.

It was a good night all around as far as Art Howe's managing went, the decision to start Joe McEwing in centerfield notwithstanding. Not only did he make the right move in letting Leiter challenge Bonds three times, but he did a pretty good job with the bullpen as well. It was the usual crew of relievers, with no sign of the young guys, but bringing Braden Looper, theoretically the best pitcher in the bullpen, into a tie game in the ninth inning to face the heart of the Giants' lineup was a good, common-sense decision. Looper went two, striking out two, with the only blemish being a perfectly reasonable intentional walk to Bonds with two outs and no one on base in the ninth.

Things got a little hairy when Mike Stanton entered to pitch the ninth. After retiring the first two batters, one via strikeout he allowed consecutive singles to the guys batting second and third in the lineup. And while one lefty had held Barry Bonds in check for the night, asking Stanton to do the same would have been pretty risky. Art Howe decided, again with suitable justification, to walk Bonds and face Pedro Feliz. With the bases loaded, the free-swinging Feliz somehow worked the count to three balls and one strike against David Weathers. But Weathers came back to strike him out, ending the threat.

Then, with two outs in the bottom of the eleventh, all it took was The Man, The Myth, The Mike Piazza to put an end to this game with a line drive over the left field wall. It was Piazza sixth of the season and, of course, his second in as many days. The Mets swept the Giants and won their fourth game in a row, running their record to 13-15, good for third place in the National League East, three games behind the Marlins. And hey, the Brewers are coming to town!

Tomorrow, it'll be Tom Glavine (4-1, 1.85) going up against Doug Davis (1-2, 5.14) and trying to run this winning streak to five.
Thursday, May 06, 2004
  Mets 8, Giants 2

Well, my first trip to Shea Stadium since Darryl Strawberry was in right field didn't go quite as planned. In the first inning, we got to see Mike Piazza hit his record-breaking 352nd home run as a catcher, which was great. But by the sixth inning, the offensive juggernaut led by Neifi Perez and Scotch Plains, New Jersey's own Jeffrey Hammonds had tied the Mets at two. Jae Weong Seo had left after fourth and one-third adequate innings with a cracked fingernail and been replaced by the newly promoted Ricky Bottalico. And then the rain came. And not far behind the rain was its good buddy the lightning, and that's pretty much when we decided to make our exit. So we missed a veritable offensive explosion by the Mets in the eighth. But we also missed a rain delay of about an hour and twenty minutes, so it's hard to get too upset about that.

As for that eighth inning, Shane Spencer came up with two on and two out and hit his second home run of the season to put the Mets up by three. He now has as many home runs as cross=town counterpart Gary Sheffield, at about 1/20th the price. Mike Cameron followed with a two run blast of his own and Kazuo Matsui drove in the final run with a single.

The Mets have now won three in a row and are 12-15 on the season, but they've also scored 110 runs while allowing just 105, putting them above Pythagorean .500. Tonight, they go for the sweep in a good pitching matchup as league ERA leader Al Leiter (1-1, 1.65) takes on Jason Schmidt (2-2, 4.70).
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
  Mets 6, Giants 2

All it took was a pair of depleted lineups, some sloppy defensive play and one good starting pitching performance and the Mets had a win in the first game of this homestand. Neither Barry Bonds nor Cliff Floyd took the field, both teams made a pair of errors, leading to six unearned runs, and Steve Trachsel managed to minimize the damage more effectively than Brett Tomko to earn the win.

He was supported mostly by a barrage of singles, twelve in all, and three walks, but a Shane Spencer double and Mike Cameron's fifth home run of the season contributed to the scoring as well. Every Met starter aside from Todd Zeile had a hit, with Cameron and Kazuo Matsui each racking up three. The slumping Jason Phillips also reached base three times with two singles and and a walk.

Trachsel's third win of the season consisted of eight innings pitched with just five hits and two runs, one earned, while he walked four and struck out just two. David Weathers pitched a scoreless ninth as the Mets once again scored just enough runs to prevent a save opporunity for Braden Looper.

Also today, the Mets designated the ineffective Grant Roberts (17.36 ERA) for assignment, meaning he'll either be traded in the next ten days, claimed on waivers, or, if he clears waivers, sent down to Norfolk. Ricky Bottalico got the call to replace Roberts on the major league roster, but I have to wonder if that's just temporary until Ty Wigginton returns from the DL. If the Mets are no longer committed to keeping a guy who's not going to pitch in Roberts, it can hardly be said that they "need" twelve pitchers. Given how effective Mike Stanton has been lately, it's not even like the team is stuck carrying a bunch of ineffective but well paid veterans. If the Mets decide to keep Bottalico and release Ricky Gutierrez when Wigginton gets back, that'd be fine, but keeping Bottalico on the roster shouldn't be an excuse to demote someone useful like Danny Garcia or Dan Wheeler.

Down in the minors, both David Wright and Justin Huber homered for Binghamton, their sixth and second of the season, respectively. Wright also singled in four at bats and Prentice Redman went three for five with a double. And the slumping Mike Jacobs went two for four with a double for Norfolk.

Tomorrow, I'll be in attendance at Shea Stadium for the first time in many years as Jae Weong Seo (1-3, 5.06) takes the mound for the Mets against Jerome Williams (3-1, 3.93) and the Giants. At a glance that doesn't look like a great pitching matchup for the Mets, but with the way Seo pitched in his last start, I don't feel too bad about the Mets' chances in this one.
  Off-day occurrences

The major leaguers had the day off, but most of the Mets' minor league affiliates were in action, although Norfolk apparently got rained out.

Shock of shocks, the most impressive performance of the day came from David Wright as Binghamton played a doubleheader. Wright went four for four in the first game and four for seven with a walk on the day, hitting his fifth home run of the season and also stealing his tenth base in thirteen attempts. He is now hitting .374/.486/.659 and while it's probably still too early to talk about bumping him up to Norfolk, he doesn't seem to be cooling off in the least and that promotion may come sooner than we could have expected prior to the season. Justin Huber went one for three with a double and a walk on the day, but is still hitting just .172/.333/.345 in his brief time at the AA level. And Prentice Redman went two for four with two doubles and two walks and is now hitting .374/.486/.659. Trying to figure out why he's in Binghamton while Gerald Williams and Esix Snead are starting games in the Norfolk outfield is a recipe for a headache.

Yusmeiro Petit got the start for Capital City and bounced back somewhat from his rough previous outing. He went five innings and allowed just three hits and two runs, though he did walk four while striking out six. His ERA is now 1.73, his RA at 3.12 thanks to that last start and he's struck out 31 while walking nine and allowing just one home run through 26 innings.
Sunday, May 02, 2004
  Mets 6, Padres 2

Different day, same Glavine. Tom's ERA actually took a bit of a hit, as the Padres managed to put two runs on the board against him through six innings, but he also mixed in an uncharacteristic number of strikeouts, six, while walking just one and allowing five hits, to earn his fourth win of the season. Six starts into the season, his ERA sits at 1.85 and his WHIP at 0.97 while he's struck out seventeen and walked just eight through 39 innings. There's still a long way to go, but it's getting to the point where his success can't just be chalked up to small sample size.

Offensively, the Mets continued to get production from places other than the top of their batting order, including Glavine himself chipping in with a single, a walk and an RBI. Karim Garcia had a pair of doubles in five at bats, Shane Spencer had another three hits in five at bats and is now hitting .357/.400/.471 on the season. Mike Cameron and Todd Zeile each also doubled, but the biggest blow of the game came from Danny Garcia, who hit his first home run of the season in the ninth. Cameron also stole his seventh base of the season, having been caught just once.

The upcoming homestand provides some opportunity for the 10-15 Mets to perhaps get back on the road to .500, as the Giants (12-14) and the Brewers (12-13) coming to town. If they can manage to get both hitting and pitching in games started by people other than Tom Glavine, their record could be in decent shape after the next six games. Steve Trachsel (2-3, 4.50) starts things off for the Mets on Tuesday against Brett Tomko (1-1, 7.57) and the Giants.
  Padres 7, Mets 6
Padres 3, Mets 1

The Mets scored some runs on Friday, putting five on the board in the first inning, thanks in large part to ground-rule doubles by Mike Cameron and Eric Valent. But it wasn't enough for Tyler Yates, as he allowed seven runs on seven hits and five walks while striking out just two through four and one-third innings.

On Saturday, the Mets' offense was back to normal, and so was Al Leiter, with all that that entails. He allowed just one run through five innnings, but it took him 113 pitches to get through those five innings as he walked an absurd seven batters, although one was intentional. Leiter's fellow lefty John Franco was, for some reason, the first reliever to be called on and he allowed a two-run homer to Brian Giles that sealed the Mets' fate.

Now the Mets are 9-15 and need to win today's finale to salvage a split of the last six games of this road trip. There is some hope, as Tom Glavine (3-1, 1.64) will face Ismael Valdez (3-0, 2.42).

One mildly encouraging development to come out of this series has been Art Howe's willingness to stick with Danny Garcia as his starting shortstop, as Garcia has managed five hits in his first thirteen at bats. With Jose Reyes out indefinitely, starting anyone other than Garcia at second makes no sense offensively, defensively or in terms of preparing for the future. But the question then becomes, what happens when Ty Wigginton returns from the DL? The Mets would need to send either a relief pitcher, an outfielder or Garcia to the minors. Sending one of the team's twelve pitchers to the minors might make the most sense, but the only real candidates for demotion are Dan Wheeler and Orber Moreno. While Moreno has struggled somewhat (5.06 ERA, 8:5 K/BB ratio in 10 2/3 innings) it seems a shame that he'd have to get sent back down just because the team is afraid that the absolutely awful Grant Roberts (17.36 ERA, 1:6 K/BB in 4 2/3) might not clear waivers. It's unlikely that an outfielder will make way for Wigginton, as the team will still need either Eric Valent or Jeff Duncan to have five outfielders when Cliff Floyd returns.

So it seems that the team will likely choose between Moreno and Garcia for demotion when Wigginton comes back. I know that asking the team to release Joe McEwing is too much to ask, but what Ricky Gutierrez? If Garcia can handle the job of major league second baseman competently, then what is Gutierrez for, exactly? I asked the same thing when the team got Gutierrez in the first place, but now that the team needs someone to play second base every day for the forseeable future, the excuse of letting Garcia play every day in Norfolk rather than sitting on the bench in the majors doesn't fly. While someone like Grant Roberts might not be an entirely lost cause, Gutierrez is just useless to this team at this point. He can't hit. He can't field. He can't be expected to play a role in the future of this team. While I might be willing to stomach the team sending both Duncan and Valent down and declaring McEwing the fifth outfielder in order to keep Garcia on the roster, I'd much rather see the team show some dedication to its alleged youth movement and keep either Valent or Duncan, keep Garcia and set Gutierrez free in the wild. For a team that talked all winter about getting "younger and more athletic," the Mets basically had to be forced to play Jae Weong Seo at the major league level rather than thirty-six year old Scott Erickson. Another chance to put some action behind their words is approaching. Hopefully they won't screw it up again.
Disseminating descriptions and accounts of New York Mets games without the expressed written consent of Major League Baseball or the New York Mets since 2003.

Location: Hatboro, Pennsylvania, United States
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