NY Sports Dog: March 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Welcome Andy Martino, Mets New Beat Writer

Andy Martino is officially on board with the Daily News.

I'd imagine for any baseball writer, coming to New York would represent a pinnacle achievement in their career.

In Andy's case, this is a return engagement, though now he's the star of the show.

As you can see below, Andy brings a wealth of talent to the job, and he'll already have a built-in following of die-hards salivating over his every word.
Andy Martino returns to the Daily News after one year as Phillies beat writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He began his journalism career as an intern here, covering nearly every sport and spending significant time reporting on the 2008 Mets. Before that, he spent three years teaching high school English in Brooklyn. A Rochester native, he is a graduate of Purchase College, SUNY and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Good luck Andy, and welcome back to where you belong!Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Roger Clemens Apparently Not a Cy Young in the Bedroom

According to this video report, Mindy McCready is releasing a sex tape.

McCready is the former "close family friend" of Cy Young award winner and steroid freak Roger Clemens.

According to the report Roger had difficulties "getting it up."

McCready goes on to reveal just how far she did or didn't go with several celebrities, and refers to her ex-fiancé Dean “Superman” Cain as being better equipped behind closed doors then Clemens.

Reading all this sure makes me long for the good old-fashioned stories like "Bull Durham" and the delightful performance of Susan Sarandon and her luscious melons of joy.

Now THAT was a baseball Annie.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

I Am Not Tom Singer

OK, now you're asking, "who the *%$* is Tom Singer?"

Tom Singer writes for mlb.com, and yesterday he gave us his moronic preview of the National League East.

Before we go any further, let's look at Tom Singer's prediction:

Predicted order of finish






Yup, this genius, who somehow gets paid to produce this drivel, is predicting the Mets to finish behind the Washington Nationals.

This is the same Nationals team that finished with the worst record in baseball last year, 59-103.

Here is how Tom defended his picks:
The Nationals will be the most improved team, and not only because after 103 losses they have the most room for improvement. Ivan Rodriguez, Adam Kennedy and Jason Marquis reflect a major facelift, but of most immediate interest is when will the capitol's name be changed to Strasburg?

Meanwhile, the Mets' Medical Mystery Tour appears to be continuing, with Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez among the latest passengers. There is simply too much uncertainty obscuring the Mets' feat of the offseason's biggest free-agent position addition, Jason Bay. He may have a negligible impact on a team which had 27 fewer homers than any other last season.

So I guess the addition of Ivan Rodriguez (73 OPS+ last year), Adam Kennedy (89 OPS+ for his career), and Jason Marquis (league average middle of the rotation starter) somehow vaults those pesky Nats into contention.

And don't get me started on his assertion about Jason Bay, it's just too comical.

I'll tell you what Tom Singer, if you want to put up say, $1,000 right now on your prediction of the Mets finishing last, I will take that bet every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Just drop me a line and it's done.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Mets April Schedule Could Determine 2010 Success

There's something about the Mets schedule each year that always seems a bit disconcerting.

Last year there was June and early July when the Mets played 20 games in a row, and August, when the Mets played 29 games with one day off.

I chronicled the scheduling issues quite a bit last year, including this piece on 20 games in 20 days.

In 2009 the Mets got off to a sluggish start in April, only to turn on the jets in May and take what was their only division lead for the year.  In June the wheels fell off as the injuries mounted, and we were all left to think what could have been as one frustration piled on top of another all the way to the merciful end.

Still, with all of the challenges of 2009, the team was far better at home than on the road:

2009 Home/Road
2009 Month by Month

This year's schedule is quite a bit more balanced:
  • April:  16 home games, 7 away games, 3 off days, 16 games in a row
  • May:  12 home games, 17 away games, 2 off days, 17 games in a row
  • June:  12 home games, 14 away games, 4 off days, 9 games in a row
  • July:  11 home games, 15 away games, 5 off days, 11 games in a row
  • August: 13 home games, 15 away games, 3 off days, 13 games in a row
  • September: 14 home games, 13 away games, 3 off days, 10 games in a row
  • October:  3 home games, 0 away games
The real question surrounding the 2010 schedule is a simple one, "can the Mets take advantage of of the abundance of April home games?"

It's possible, but when we look at the Mets opponents in April, the home field advantage becomes obscured as the Mets play some of the best teams in the NL.  In fact, other than the Nationals, the Mets go up against the cream of the crop to start the year, including games against all four playoff teams.

April opponents:
3 vs Dodgers (.586--won division)
1 vs Philly (.574--won division)
3 vs Colorado (.568--wild card)
3 vs St Louis (.562--won division)
3 vs Florida (.537)
3 vs Atlanta (.531)
4 vs Chicago (.516)
3 vs Nationals (.364)

So the Mets have two opposing forces to begin the year--a plethora of home games, yet those games are against the best teams the senior circuit has to offer.

When you're a losing team, the schedule always looks tougher than it probably is.  But make no mistake, the Mets are going to get challenged early and often, and though the season is certainly a marathon, the first month might just tell us a lot.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, March 29, 2010

Crank Up the Volume

and enjoy!

Good Morning Mets Fans!

Well amigos, we are almost there.

Almost ready to head north.

Almost ready to start the season.

Almost ready for real baseball to begin.

Oh sure, there are a few questions left, foremost among them who will win the 25th spot, and will Jose Reyes be in the lineup for the opener, but we're close.

As the Daily News points out, Omar Minaya is still not ruling out Jose for Opening Day.

We're so lucky as Mets fans because of the veritable plethora of reading material on any given day.

My friend Greg Spira sent me a copy of the 2010 Maple Street Press Mets Annual, and once again, he and Matt Silverman have hit a home run.

This year's Annual features:
  • Pitch-by-pitch scouting reports, with information provided by Inside Edge, that detail what to expect from Mets hitters and pitchers.
  • A look at the rest of the NL and how the Mets can get back to the playoffs.
  • A reason for hope: Jason Bay arrives at Citi.
  • A thorough review of Citi Field's first year from its best and worst moments, to a season review from the park itself.
  • There's no doubt the Mets suffered more than their fair share of injuries in 2009, but who is to blame and what can be done?
  • An in-depth interview with Adam Wogan, Mets director of minor league personnel.
  • The most complete review of the Mets farm system available anywhere, including the top ten pitching and position prospects, the 2009 draft, a feature on first base prospect Ike Davis, and all the minor league stats fit to print.
  • A look back at Mets history, from Dwight Gooden's amazin' 1985 to the Mets Team of the Decade, position by position.
I loved the piece they did on us blogger types, and want to say a quick thank you for the shout out.  Trust me amigos, for $12.99 you will not find a better bargain or a better read.

In other reading, Patrick Flood has a long piece about his trip to Port St Lucie, and it's a gem.

Metsradamus, easily the funniest Mets blogger, has a great piece this morning clearly placing blame for everything and anything on the broad shoulders of Oliver Perez.

Finally, Toby Hyde, who does yeoman's work covering the Mets Minors, tells us about the Mets #5 prospect, Josh Thole.

Enjoy your coffee!
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Ron Darling Sees and Explains Mike Pelfrey's Flaw

I spent a lazy Sunday afternoon watching the Mets.

To be fair, I did get up early and "spring clean" my entire backyard, and there are about 25 bags of junk next to the house to prove it. I also found a huge snake in the yard, which I put in a bucket and transported to a nearby woods vice killing.

But I digress.

The main reason I got up early to my work in, was so that I could watch Mike Pelfrey get his work in.

My work was done better.

Mike Pelfrey continues to struggle, especially in the giving up homeruns department.  I've been very puzzled as to why Big Pelf is giving up the flyballs and homeruns at such an alarming rate, and I chalked it up to rust or confidence, etc.

Then Ron Darling mentioned the grip, and everything clicked as to why Pelfrey has fared so poorly.

Pelfrey's fastballs were coming in laser straight and up, at times, with a nary a bit of sink to them. The issue has been there all spring.

Ron Darling, the thoughtful broadcaster who has forgotten more about pitching than most of us will ever know, told us why...and then we could actually see why for ourselves.

Darling pointed out that Pelfrey has worked hard on a splitter.  He then gave us some real insight by telling a story about his own development of the pitch. He spoke about muscle memory and how his finger's got so used to being separated that it was hard to get them to go back together. This resulted in his former bread and butter pitches not performing like they had before he worked on the splitter.

It was really riveting stuff, especially as he correlated the story beautifully to what's going on with Mike Pelfrey. As the cameras panned in on Pelf's fingers, we could actually see the separation (now that we knew exactly what to look for), and when they were apart, as Darling mentioned, the fastball came in straight. When the finger's were in the proper position, back together, the sink was back.

For a Sunday spring training game in March, it was some of the best on the spot analysis I've ever heard.

I'm sure Dan Warthen and Mike Pelfrey are aware of what's going on, and thanks to Ron Darling, the rest of us are too.

I just hope they get the issue resolved, and soon.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose

Holy crap this makes me happy:

Jose Reyes

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jason Bay's Excellent Spring

With all the hand-wringing over Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, combined with the hand-wringing over the starting pitching, the hand-wringing over the bullpen, and the hand-wringing over the various options at first base and catcher, Jason Bay has been largely ignored this spring.

Sure, he's the biggest free agent signing in these parts since Johan Santana, but he gets less ink than Daniel Murphy, Mike Jacobs, or Omar Minaya's haircut on any given day this spring.

The most coverage he's had was during the Olympics when he tried to explain curling to his Latin American teammates, or when he took a few hours to convince Jeff Francoeur that they do speak English in Canada and that it is actually a country.

So I'm here to give him some props, and his 1.135 OPS deserves it.  Jason Bay is having a very, very nice spring--he's hitting, he's blended in well with his teammates, and he is poised to have an outstanding year.

He sure looks and acts like the big slugger the Mets desperately needed to anchor the middle of the lineup.

Status: Active
  • Born: 9/20/1978 in TrailBC Canada
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • HT: 6'2''
  • WT: 205
  • Debut: 5/24/2003
  • College: Gonzaga
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The Stats Say: Bat Angel Pagan Second

Met nation breathed a huge sigh of relief when medical personnel cleared Jose Reyes for baseball activities yesterday.

There is little doubt that Reyes will be ready for opening day, and there should be little doubt that he belongs in his rightful spot at the top of the order.  We can see about batting him 3rd next year.

Though Luis Castillo batted second for much of last year, it's Angel Pagan who truly belongs there, and all numbers point to that fact.  He is superior to Castillo, and every other Met, and what I'll call "2 hole statistical indicators of excellence."

Despite this, Manuel batted Pagan second for a grand total of 11 at-bats in 2009. Remember, Jerry is not a math guy.

Let's look at those indicators of excellence.

People who favor Castillo in the #2 hole point to the number of pitches he takes, but looking at the numbers, he's not all that different from Pagan.

Last year Castillo saw 4.23 pitches per plate appearance to 3.82 for Pagan.  Moreover, as a casual observer it seems that Castillo takes more pitches when there is no one on base when he tries to work walks.  He also takes too many pitches at times when there are men on base instead of jumping on an early fastball to move runners over.  We'll see next how this shows up in the stats.

When there are runners on, the 2 hole batter is truly there to move them along, hopefully all the way home.  One of the stats that shows how they fared in this capacity is the percentage of baserunners that scored.

Last year baserunners scored 13% of the time during Castillo at-bats, and that number jumped up to 18% for Pagan.  I'm sure you all had a few "Castillo moments" last year watching him take good pitches for strikes, or ground weakly or hit a soft liner that couldn't advance a runner...this stat partially shows the results of those feeble at-bats.

Pagan also led Castillo in Productive Outs (advancing or driving in a runner)--Pagan did this 44% of the time to 43% for Castillo. 

Well what about ability to sacrifice?  We know Castillo is a great bunter, but the numbers show that Pagan was at least as successful.  Pagan may not have the artistry that Castillo has in this department, but last year he was successful 71% of the time compared to 70% for Castillo.

Warning--opinion ahead--I think Castillo bunts way too much.  There are times when a sac fly or swinging away is a much better option, especially as it can also lead to a hit, but with Castillo, Jerry seems over-inclined to give up an out with a bunt, even in the first inning.

Pagan was outstanding last year with runners in scoring position.  He batted .342 with a 1.004 OPS.  Castillo, on the other hand, hit .325 with RISP, but his OPS was only .774, meaning he was not nearly as productive as Pagan in this department.  To be fair, Castillo was certainly OK, but Pagan was simply great.

The last number we'll look at is double plays.

In 2009 Luis Castillo grounded into 15 double plays in 93 double play opportunities for a 16% clip (that number was 22% in 2008).  This is pretty awful for a 2 hole hitter.  Pagan, on the other hand, grounded into only 3 double plays in 35 opportunities, a 9% clip, and his career average is 5%.

OK Jerry--you have your leadoff hitter back, and your #2 hitter....let's play ball!

(and don't forget the idea of Reyes and Pagan hitting back to back triples...I'd rather see that than three homeruns in a row)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mejia's Spring Numbers - Truly Amazin', or a Mirage?

New post from NY Sports Dog contributor Andy the Lawyer:

Jenrry Mejia may very well turn into the second coming of Mariano Rivera, but its hard to see how the Mets brass has settled on that prognosis for him based on just Spring Training.  Its true that Mejia has been very effective thus far (10 IP, 1.69 ERA, .184 average against), but if that sample size is enough to conclude that someone will be a great relief pitcher, the Mets are already in great shape.  Look at all the relief "studs" that the Mets already have (based on Spring training numbers):

  • Pat Misch:  10 IP, 0.90 ERA, .182 average against
  • Elmer Dessens: 5.1 IP, 1.69 ERA, .238 average against
  • Nelson Figueroa: 8.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, .143 average against
  • Hisanori Takahashi:8.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, .138 average against

Considering that Feliciano and K-Rod are locks to make the team, and given that its pretty likely that one or more of Parnell, Green, Nieve, or Igarashi will be allowed to stick around through April, why is it so important to convert Mejia into a reliever?  Seems pretty clear tht there are 4 other Mets pitchers who are pitching just as effectively as Mejia, and none of them have the potential to be ace starting pitchers, or are only 20 years old.  Are the Mets planning on using an 8 or 9 man bullpen to start the season?

The point is that Spring training numbers do not matter - but even if they did, the Mets should be just as happy to have any of these 4 guys pitching for the big club as Mejia, and simply let Mejia keep working on his command and secondary stuff in the minors.

Moreover, having Mejia work on being a starting pitcher in the minors is much more likely to pay dividends for the Mets - even this year - as not one of Pelfrey, Perez, or Maine has had a particularly impressive spring.  The Mets may need a reliable starting pitcher to add to the rotation in July much more than they need a 6th inning reliever in April.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

I'm Not Feeling the Figgy Love

Sorry Nelson...Figgy is truly one of the great guys in baseball, but the thought of him as the Mets #5 starter in 2010 isn't working for me.

First off, for his career, Nelson gives you one quality start about 1/3 of the time.

While that number jumped to 50% in 2009 (5 quality starts in 10 starts), it's still not enough to convince me.

The bottom line is that a 36-year old journeyman doesn't simply figure it out, and his BB/9, lack of a plus fastball, and overall control makes him truly a AAAA pitcher.

Figgy would have been great 30-40 years ago when team's had a 4-man rotation of starters who finished their games and each club had a "long man/Mop up guy" who would come in and pitch the rare game when someone got shelled or there was a doubleheader (remember those?)

I have some very simple proof for anyone that points to last year and this year's spring success as reason to give him the nod.

His 5th inning ERA from 2009 compared to his early inning ERA:
  • 1st inning--4.35
  • 2nd inning--3.27
  • 3rd inning--4.63
  • 4th inning--3.00
  • 5th inning--8.18

Figgy can get you through a few innings, but in his 10 starts last year, these were his innings pitched totals:  1.2, 5.0, 7.0, 6.0, 5.1, 5.0, 7.0, 6.0, 9.0

We know what he'll do in 2010, pitch below average and have a nice start once every three weeks, which means it's time to see what someone else can do, even if that's below average as well.

Niese, Nieve or Takahashi deserves the chance.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Many, Many Faces of Henry Blanco

Which one doesn't belong?

Very Upset Henry

Slightly Perturbed Henry

Double Back Tap Bro Hugging Henry

Stylin' While Adjusting the Package Henry

Loneliest Walk in Baseball Henry

"I Know What Henry is Really Thinking"

Taking My Ball and Going Home Henry
Baseball Been Berry, Berry Good to Me Henry
Ay Yi Yi Yi Yi Yi Yi Henry

Just Got the Bunt Sign Henry

Sometimes This Game is Too Much for Even Me Henry

My Facebook Page Rocks en espanol Henry

1 for 20: Tatis Continues to Struggle

Fernando Tatis remains ice cold this spring.  Today he went 0-3 in a continuation of a drought that has seen him flounder at the plate.

In addition to going hitless (again), Tatis left a runner in scoring position.

Tatis is now hitting .050 this spring.

  • Born: 1/1/1975 in San Pedro de Macoris Dominican Republic
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • HT: 5'11''
  • WT: 185
  • Bio
  • Debut: 7/26/1997
  • College: N/A
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Keep ex-Met Lenny Harris in Your Thoughts and Prayers

Former Met and always fan favorite Lenny Harris had quadruple bypass surgery.

From mlb.com:
03/21/10 2:42 PM ET

PHOENIX -- Minor League instructor and former Dodgers player Lenny Harris, baseball's all-time pinch-hit leader, is in stable condition at a local hospital after undergoing emergency quadruple heart bypass surgery Saturday, a baseball source confirmed.

Harris was stricken with chest and arm pains Friday, but did not suffer a heart attack as there was no heart damage. In a Saturday operation, doctors found blockages in four arteries, with one 95 percent blocked. 

Harris, 45, is in his second season as the senior hitting coach at the Dodgers' Camelback Ranch-Glendale complex, working mostly with Minor League players. Harris returned to the Dodgers after serving the 2008 season as the Major League hitting instructor of the Washington Nationals.

Harris had an 18-year Major League career that included stints with the Reds, Dodgers (1989-93), Mets, Rockies Diamondbacks, Brewers, Cubs and Marlins. He's the all-time pinch-hit leader with 212.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Chris Carter: Mr Marpril

We know Reggie Jackson was Mr October, and looking at the stats, there is no question that Chris Carter is Mr March and April, or "Mr Marpril".

His Spring numbers the last three years are gaudy...in fact they're downright fantastic.

Two years ago Carter had a very nice spring, finishing with an .893 OPS and hitting .371...at the time I'm sure he was convinced the big leagues were right around the corner.  He did get his September cup of coffee, and he responded well to the challenge, hitting .333 in 18 at-bats.

A year ago Carter came to camp on a mission and slugged to the tune of a 1.038 OPS, which led to him breaking camp with the big club.  Unfortunately, he only lasted 4 games with the Red Sox for a total of 5 at-bats.

Not to be deterred, Carter dutifully went to AAA Pawtucket and put up yet another outstanding year offensively.

Which brings us to 2010--and the Mets--and Spring Training--and Carter--and...

Another amazing spring, only this time it's even better.  Carter is sporting an off-the-charts 1.621 OPS--that's like Pujols on Steroids (figure of speech Albert, don't cry).

The question for Carter is what will be the outcome of another spring in which he is basically the best hitter in camp?

Right now he seems to the clear "26th man" in the minds of Mets management and destined to shuffle off to Buffalo.  It's a shame, because he certainly has the type of bat that could help the club.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Related Posts with Thumbnails