Betty's No Good Clothes Shop And Pancake House
Monday, June 25, 2007
  You had your chance, Phillies and Braves

This week began just like any other in June with the Mets losing a series, this time to the Twins. The offense came to life in a game one win, but they were unable to repeat the performance in game two or three. But over the weekend they bounced back at long last, sweeping the A's for their first series win in seven tries.

Tom Glavine, Orlando Hernandez and John Maine each pitched excellently against Oakland and the offense scored at least nine runs twice. No one hitter carried the offense as nine men had at least one multi-hit game with Carlos Beltran doing it twice. Every spot on the diamond had one except for catcher and Ramon Castro did provide a double and score the only run of Saturday's game after Paul Lo Duca got ejected for acting like a jackass. Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran each had five hits on the weekend including a home run by Beltran and two doubles by Reyes.

The rest of the NL East has completely failed to take advantage of the Mets' (41-32) poor June and as a result they were able to stretch their division lead back to three games over the Phillies (39-36) with their modest win streak. The series with Oakland began a stretch in which the Mets will play at least one game on seventeen straight days including a doubleheader this Friday. So they picked a pretty good time to start playing well again.

This difficult stretch of games, which in no way resembles the Bataan Death March, continues with four games against that team that got lucky last October and isn't even ahead of the Cubs in the standings right now, the St. Louis Cardinals (33-39). Jorge Sosa (6-3, 4.05), Oliver Perez (7-6, 3.16), Glavine (6-5, 4.38) and El Duque (3-3, 2.77) will start for the Mets. Mike Maroth (5-2, 5.06) will make his first start for St. Louis since being acquired from the Tigers and will be followed by Todd Wellemeyer (2-1, 6.65), Anthony Reyes (0-9, 6.64) and Adam Wainwright (6-6, 4.58).
Monday, June 18, 2007
  Kill me now

The Mets are just awful at everything right now. They lost five of six games this week, outscored 37 to 17. Only once did a Mets starter pitch more than 5.2 innings or allow fewer than four runs. The team hit just .243/.285/.328. And the bullpen ERA was 4.41. Oliver Perez pitched a heck of a game against Roger Clemens, though.

The Mets scored three or fewer runs in five of these six games, with an eight-run outburst on Saturday padding the team's averages considerably. Right in the middle of the ineptitude were Carloses Delgado and Beltran. Delgado's been "slumping" more or less all season long while Beltran is playing hurt, just as he did in his disappointing 2005, with similar results. This week the pair had just six hits with a combined line of .157/.157/.196. That's right, neither of them even drew a walk. The Carlos Of The Week Award clearly goes to Mr. Gomez, who had seven singles and one free pass in these six games. A lot of Mets had a bad week, but this team is never going to turn things around with Delgado and Beltran playing this poorly. If the Mets weren't already down three outfielders it would probably make sense for Beltran to hit the DL and rest his sore quad for a couple of weeks. Since that's out of the question, I'm not sure how this team is going to regain its stroke.

Facing a Twins team (34-33) with one of the top few pitching staffs in the American League is probably not going to help. The Mets (37-30) are still atop the NL East, but their margin over the Braves is down to just 1.5 games. John Maine (6-4, 3.05), Jorge Sosa (6-2, 3.42) and Oliver The Great (7-5, 2.93) will take the mound for New York in this series. Carlos Silva (4-7, 4.07), Johan Santana (6-6, 3.19) and Scott Baker (1-2, 7.33) will likely have some of their best starts of the year in opposition.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
  One win is better than none

A Mets starting pitcher was bound to have a bad day eventually. Jorge Sosa shutting out the best offense in baseball for eight innings on Friday only served to tempt fate. The Mets' offense showed some signs of life, scoring as many runs in each of the last two games as they did in the entire Philadelphia series. Still, what may be the Mets' toughest two weeks of the season did not get off to a promising start.

After Sosa's gem, Oliver Perez and Tom Glavine both got smacked around. Perez gave up five runs in five innings and Glavine was charged with nine in four and a third. Neither got any help from their bullpen as Guillermo Mota and Joe Smith had particularly bad weekends. Mota has pitched five times since returning from his suspension with three good outing and a pair of disasters. His 7:2 K:BB ratio is nice, but the eleven hits he's given up in 6.1 IP are less pretty. As for Smith, perhaps his heavy early season workload is catching up to him a bit as he's allowed at least two base runners in his last four outings. He's seemed unhittable at times this year, but far from it this past week.

The offensive ineptitude of the past week was a total team effort and so was the turnaround in the last two games of this series. Seven starters had hits in each game, though David Wright did lead the way with three hits, including two home runs, and a pair of walks in the two games. Wright has raised his slugging percentage fifty points to .511 in the last six games with eight hits including four home runs and a double. Unfortunately, he is the only Met slugging over .500 aside from Ricky Ledee, who had a very un-Newhanlike weekend, going two-for-seven with two doubles. Shawn Green did not return to the team this weekend, but the Mets sent Ben Johnson back to New Orleans on Sunday night, so Green will likely be back on Monday.

From Detroit, the Mets (36-25) fly to Los Angeles, after which they'll head back to New York as part of the MLB scheduling department's continuing assault on their sanity. The Dodgers (35-28) also lost two of three this weekend and five of their last six. Someone will have to win these three games, so why not the Mets? Orlando Hernandez (3-1, 1.94), John Maine (6-3, 2.78) and Sosa (6-1, 2.64) will give it a shot. Randy Wolf (7-4, 4.03), Hong-Chih Kuo (0-1, 4.85) and Brad Penny (7-1, 2.26) will provide the opposition. The Mets are hitting .320/.379/.475 against lefties this season, so perhaps they will be able to keep up the hitting against Wolf and Kuo.
Friday, June 08, 2007
  In with the old, out with the Newhan

It may not be Scott Schoeneweis, but it's a start. The Mets have sent David Newhan (.200 /.298/.280) to New Orleans and called up Ricky Ledee (.287/.361/.471 in 177 AAA at bats). Of course, this is the same Ricky Ledee who hit .094/.194/.219 in 32 at bats with the Mets last year. But Ledee at least has some history of being a decent bench player, which is more than Newhan can say. And Ledee will probably not be Willie Randolph's first pinch hitting option as Newhan so often was. It's nice to see Newhan's inability to hit major league pitching finally trump his alleged versatility.

What an awful series. The Mets got three excellent starting pitching performances and wasted them with a combination of bad hitting and worse relief pitching. And to top it all off, Endy Chavez pulled his left hamstring and likely won't be back anytime soon.

Tom Glavine, Orlando Hernandez and John Maine combined for twenty innings pitched in this series and allowed just four runs. That makes nine straight quality starts for Met pitchers, adding up to a grand total of three wins. If this keeps up, Glavine's going to have to come back next year for number 300.

In these nine games, the Mets have scored just twenty-five runs, or 2.78 per game. This series was the worst of the last three with just seven runs scored. The Mets have too many good hitters for this to continue for very long and Jose Valentin's return to the lineup should help a little bit. Yet even with so few runs scored, the Mets were ahead on the scoreboard in two of these games and tied in the other when the ball was first handed to a relief pitcher.

Met relievers, who had been largely excellent this season, completely fell apart in this series, allowing ten runs in ten innings. I, of course, blame Scott Schoeneweis. The lefty, whose entire purpose on this team is to retire the tough lefties of the NL East, such as Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, pitched in all three games. He allowed a walk, a single and a double to Utley. He did retire Howard in the first two games, intentionally walking him in game three. Schoeneweis now has an ERA of 7.17 with 20 hits, 19 walks and 9 strikeouts in 21.1 innings. That is the same number of innings Jorge Julio pitched for the Mets in 2006 and Julio's 5.06 ERA seems downright adequate in comparison. Three-year contract or not, Schoeneweis needs to not be on this team anymore.

To be fair, the Big Scho was not the only reliever who failed to live up to the job title in this series. The game one loss was the result of Pedro Feliciano and Joe Smith combining to give up four hits and two runs in one inning. Game two saw Aaron Heilman turn a 2-0 seventh inning lead into a loss like he was pitching to a whole team of Yadier Molinas. And game three wouldn't have even gotten to Chase Utley's personal batting practice pitcher had Billy Wagner not blown his first save of the season by allowing a home run to noted pain in the ass Pat Burrell. At this point, the Mets spending four of their first six draft picks on college relievers almost makes sense.

The Mets (35-23) still hold a comfortable 3.5 game division lead thanks to the Braves losing three in a row and the Phillies having been eight games out in the first place. But the schedule gets rather torturous now as their next five series are against the four 2006 American League playoff teams and a very good Dodger team. Meanwhile, the Phillies get to play the Royals three times this weekend, but I digress. The Mets' punishment for being good last year starts this weekend in Detroit. Jorge Sosa (5-1, 3.22), Oliver Perez (6-4, 2.80) and Glavine (5-3, 3.36) will get the starts for the Mets against Chad Durbin (5-1, 4.75), Jeremy Bonderman (5-0, 3.27) and Andrew Miller (1-0, 0.00) of the Tigers (33-25). Hopefully the Mets will make it to town with enough healthy hitters to field a DH.
Monday, June 04, 2007
  Three out of six ain't bad

Numerous injuries finally started to catch up with the Mets this week as they won a mere fifty percent of their games. This was the first Monday-to-Sunday period this season in which the Mets failed to win more games than they lost and the weekend series against Arizona was their first series loss to a team outside the NL East. They haven't had a win streak longer than four games all year, but this consistency has left them with the best record west of Boston.

A bruise to Carlos Beltran's knee was the final nail in the coffin of ordinariness as the Mets' outfield was so depleted that they resorted to starting David Newhan. Twice! Beltran says he'll be back in the lineup on Tuesday, but he also says he still feels "a little bit of pain" when he runs, which ought to disturb any Mets fan who remembers 2005.

The Mets' offense was the main culprit this week, as they scored just eighteen runs in the six games. Only two Mets--Jose Reyes and David Wright--had more than ten at bats and a batting average above .200. Carlos Delgado hit three home runs and a double, but unfortunately those were his only hits all week. Carlos Gomez has cooled off considerably since his hot start and is hitting just .229/.263/.286 for the year. If the Mets had anyone to replace him, the twenty-one would surely be back in AAA by now.

The team as a whole has stopped hitting for power, with a team slugging percentage of just .424 compared to last year's .445. On the bright side, the team OBP is up to a league-leading .348 from last year's .334. The team's 4.87 runs per game is good for third in the league. It's down from 5.15 last year, but that was also just the third best in the league. The average NL team is scoring only 4.44 runs per game compared to 4.76 last year.

It is to the credit of the pitching that the Mets were able to scratch out three wins this week. No Met starter allowed more than three runs or pitched fewer than six innings. Oliver Perez had two seven-inning, three-run performances and didn't get a win in either. Perez pitching well has become commonplace, but Orlando Hernandez's second post-injury start was more encouraging. He gave up just two runs on two hits and one walk in seven innings. Mets starters now have an ERA of 3.48, third best in the majors.

Up next for the Mets (35-20) is a three-game series with the under-phive-hundred Phils (28-29). Game one features a couple of starting pitchers who throw with their left hand and would likely not be described as "young" in Tom Glavine (5-3, 3.44, 41 years of age) and Jamie Moyer (5-4, 4.23, 44). El Duque (3-1, 2.20) and John Maine (6-3, 2.81) will follow for New York, Adam Eaton (5-4, 6.28, 3 years, $24.5 million) and Cole Hamels (8-2, 3.55) for Philadelphia.
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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