Archive for April, 2010

Mets DFA Jacobs, call up Tobi Stoner

Posted: April 18, 2010 in Mets

Interesting development in Metsland today, as New York waved bye-bye to first baseman Mike Jacobs and hello to pitcher Tobi Stoner. Stoner was up for a bit with the club last year and looked O.K. The Mets needed an extra arm after last night’s marathon, and Stoner is a starting pitcher and would be able to provide some innings if John Maine is again ineffective.
The key question is, who comes up to play first base? And the logical choice would be big-time prospect Ike Davis, who is tearing it up at AAA right now. Davis would inject some excitement into the lineup and he seems to have a pretty good idea what he’s doing, both at the plate and in the field. I’m actually pretty excited.
The other move I’d execute is to send Jenrry Mejia down when Davis is recalled. Let Mejia head to the minors and work on becoming a starter. That’s all for now…..

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Mets 2, Cardinals 1, 20 innings

Posted: April 17, 2010 in Mets

No, that’s not a misprint. The Mets-Cardinals game went 20 innings today, most of them scoreless.
Starting pitchers Johan Santana and Jaime Garcia were both dominant, and long gone by the time the game was decided.
Due to Tony LaRussa’s typical overmanaging, the Cardinals were out of pitchers, so they had to bring in position players for the last three innings. And the Mets still struggled to score.
Still, the Mets’ pitching staff was wonderful today. Give a gold star to Hisanori Takahashi in particular, who worked out of a first-and-third, no out jam in the 14th inning, striking out the side to escape.
Actually, the one reliever who’s supposed to close the door, didn’t. After the Mets scored on a Jeff Francoeur sacrifice fly in the 19th, Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez coughed up the lead. Things could have been worse, but Ryan Ludwick inexplicably tried to steal second with Albert Pujols at the plate. He was thrown out, and Pujols of course doubled and eventually scored on a Yadier Molina single.
Mike Pelfrey actually has more saves than K-Rod, as he worked the 20th. Crazy game, but at least the Mets won it.
The teams go at it tomorrow night, with John Maine taking on Adam Wainwright in the rubber match. Hope that one is over in regulation.

Disgusted

Posted: April 16, 2010 in Mets

After tonight’s debacle of a loss to the Cardinals, a game in which Oliver Perez pitched extremely well, it is glaringly obvious that Jerry Manuel must be fired as manager of the Mets.
He made so many mistakes in the critical seventh inning, it’s hard to believe he’s a big-league skipper.
First off, Perez’s pitch count was under 100 and the bottom of the order was up. He gave up a leadoff single and then a sacrifice bunt and Manuel brought the hook. That was the first mistake. The second mistake was bringing in Fernando Nieve, who has been erratic. Nieve promptly hits Skip Schumaker on a 1-2 pitch and then walks pinch-hitter Matt Holliday to load the bases. Manuel should have gone to Ryota Igarashi or Pedro Feliciano there. Then comes mistake number three. With the game hanging in the balance, he goes to untested Raul Valdes. Yes, Valdes has pitched well in meaningless situations for the Mets and he’s a good story (Mets got him on loan from a Mexican League team), but where was Feliciano? You know, the guy that has been a big part of this bullpen for five years or so now? Of course, Valdes gives up a grand slam to the almighty Felipe Lopez, 4-1 Cardinals. He made yet another mistake that didn’t cost him, by allowing Valdes to finish the inning with a slew of right-handed hitters coming up. WTF? I’m flabbergasted and extremely pissed off. This team finds new ways to lose and just 10 games into the season, already trails the first-place Phils by five games.

The Mets sit at 3-6 after nine games, not the start that any Met fan hoped for. Also not the start Jerry Manuel needed, as he is firmly on the hot seat until/if the team starts winning consistently.
I thought I’d express a few of the positives (there actually have been a few) before getting into what I would change at this point (besides the obvious answer of firing Jerry and Omar).
Positive No. 1 – Mike Pelfrey’s two starts have been fantastic. With his development of a split-fingered fastball in the offseason, Big Pelf finally has a quality secondary pitch to go along with his power sinker. In starts against the Nats and Rockies, he’s looked like an ace and each time stopped Mets losing streaks. If Pelfrey continues to pitch like this, the Mets have their No. 2 to pair with Johan Santana.
Positive No. 2 – Jeff Francoeur is tearing the cover off the ball and even showing some patience, too. Francoeur has basically picked up where he left off last season after the trade to the Mets, he keeps hitting. While he’s always been capable of hitting the ball hard, Francoeur seems to have a more patient approach at the plate, namely he’s not swinging at the first fastball he sees. He appears to be zoning in on a particular pitch and location and if he doesn’t get it, he lays off. He’s even drawn four walks, which considering he had something like 25 all of last season, is a pretty nice accomplishment.
Positive No. 3 – The Mets’ bullpen, much maligned in spring training, has actually looked quite good. It’s a shame the starters (namely John Maine and Ollie Perez) haven’t done their part, because guys like Ryota Igarashi, Pedro Feliciano, K-Rod and Hisanori Takahashi have done a nice job. Rookie Jenrry Mejia has been up and down, but he should be starting in the minors anyway, which leads me to…..

The things I’d change right now to help the club….
Send Mejia down and bring up Kiko Calero or Bobby Parnell: Really, this should be a no-brainer. Mejia has top of the rotation stuff, he should be honing his skills as a starter in the minors. It shouldn’t be a hard concept to grasp, but the Mets morons, er, I mean management, don’t seem to get it. Calero is a solid veteran, and although injury prone, can still get people out (sub 2.00 ERA with Marlins last year). Bring him up for Mejia and if he gets hurt, go with Parnell.
Cut Frank Catalanotto and bring up Chris Carter:This is just a personal preference thing with me. Catalanotto was once a fairly productive major-league hitter, but his time seems to have passed. He’s 0-for-8 to start the season and doesn’t have much power anyway, so he’s very much replaceable. Carter has never gotten much of a shot at the majors, and given his AAA numbers and fine spring performances the last two years, he should get the bench spot. He brings more power to the table, which is nice to have on the bench.
Put John Maine on the DL and call up Dillon Gee, Pat Misch or put Takahashi in the spot: I know the Mets are going to give Maine at least one more start, and hopefully he shows that old Maine fastball we know and love. I don’t really want to cut Maine because I know what he’s been capable of, I just don’t feel he’s physically ready yet and should be given a bit more time to rediscover his stuff. Unfortunately, with the team struggling, he can’t be rediscovering that stuff at the major league level. Gee has looked good at AAA, and Misch, despite terrible stuff, somehow gets outs. I could live with Takahashi or Nieve there as well, as this is just a placeholder spot until Maine returns or another, better option emerges (if Mejia was in the minor leagues and dominating, for instance, or if Maine got healthy). Just can’t have the eight runs in three inning performance Maine gave the other night.
There are other things I’d do if I ruled Metsland, but they would never happen in the real world. For one, I’d just cut Luis Castillo because I don’t like him as a player at all. He brings no energy, his range is severely limited in the infield, and he has the power of an 85-year-old man, especially from the left side. I’d also bring up Ike Davis for a look at first base, at least until Murph returns. Mike Jacobs just doesn’t cut it. I’d also consider cutting Ollie Perez loose, but since there are no real great fallback options, I’d probably just let him ride it out for a few months to see if he can find the strike zone.

Album review: Slash

Posted: April 12, 2010 in Album Reviews

Time to forget about the Mets for a little while and talk some music again. Bought the first solo album by ex-GnR guitarist Slash last week, and it’s a pretty strong effort indeed.
Slash has recorded four albums since he left Guns n Roses – two with Slash’s Snakepit and two more with Velvet Revolver – but this self-titled release is the first bearing his name only.
Since Slash can’t sing, he went the Santana route and recruited an All-Star roster of singers, mostly in the hard rock/metal vein. He did throw a few curveballs into the mix, like the track “Beautiful Dangerous” with Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas and “Gotten” featuring Adam Levine of the pop group Maroon 5. But there are the usual suspects you’d expect – Ozzy, Lemmy Kilmeister, Iggy Pop and Chris Cornell, to name a few.
The proceedings kick off in fine fashion with “Ghost,” a track done with Ian Astbury, former lead singer of The Cult. It’s a driving rocker with a kick-ass groove, one of the best songs on the album.
Ozzy’s song “Crucify the Dead” could have been better. Slash’s playing, as it is throughout the album, is spot-on, but this song doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s not a rocker, it’s not a ballad. It falls in the middle ground, and while Ozzy’s singing is good, it’s just not what it could have been. Maybe my expectations were too high.
On the flip side, my expectations couldn’t have been lower for his track with Fergie. Usually, I like her work about as much as a root canal followed by a vasectomy, but the song actually rocks. Yes, it’s a bit poppy (as you’d expect from Fergie), but the track drives along well and is quite catchy with plenty of hooks. One of the better efforts on the album.
“Back from Cali” is the first of two efforts with former Alter Bridge singer Myles Kennedy, and it’s a decent track – nothing all that great although Kennedy certainly has an amazing vocal range. The second song with Kennedy, “Starlight,” is much better and really gets stuck in your head.
“Promise” with Chris Cornell is another song I expected a bit more from, only because I’m a huge Cornell fan. This song is quite good, a little on the softer side. Although I would have preferred a rocker from Cornell, this song is a solid effort.
Another big-time highlight is “By the Sword,” an epic track done with Wolfmother’s Andrew Stockdale. This song could have been a lost Led Zeppelin track, it starts off with a bluesy acoustic riff and eventually morphs into a heavy dramatic rocker, and Stockdale delivers the ham-fisted vocals with typical flair.
Needless to say, “Gotten” with Levine is the worst song on the album. Way too wimpy and boring, it’s a ballad that literally goes nowhere until Slash momentarily saves it with an awesome solo.
Luckily, Lemmy livens things up with the next song, “Doctor Alibi.” A hard, grimy rocker as you’d expect from the Motorhead singer, it gets things back on track in a hurry.
The only instrumental on the album “Watch This Dave” is another heavy dose of rock provided by Slash, former GnR bassist Duff McKagan and Dave Grohl. The song goes through a few cool musical changes and rocks all the way through.
“I Hold On” could have been an outtake from Kid Rock’s last album “Rock N Roll Jesus.” It has the feel of many of the slower songs from that album, and while it’s solidly performed, it doesn’t leave much of an impact.
“Nothing to Say” with Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows is another heavy burst of rock. It’s got some awesome playing from Slash and Shadows is a fine vocalist for this kind of track. They work well together and it’s another highlight.
“Starlight,” as mentioned before, is a real vocal spotlight for Kennedy. A bit bluesy at the beginning, he really wails as the song goes on. It gets better every time I hear it.
“Saint is a Sinner Too” features Rocco DeLuca and some cool acoustic Spanish guitar playing from Slash. Unfortunately, the song isn’t all that memorable. DeLuca has a good voice, but that can’t save a boring song.
The album closes with the simply awesome “We’re All Gonna Die” with Iggy Pop. A true F-you kiss-off song, it rocks in every way. Slash’s playing is fierce on this one, and I’m glad they ended the album on such an adrenaline rush. Classic stuff.
There you have it, a track-by-track run through of Slash’s album. There were three or four tracks I’d consider filler, but the rest of the album is very good and a few tracks really kick ass. Overall, a fine solo effort from the man with the top hat.

Sod rating: **** (out of five)

Nats 5, Mets 2

Posted: April 11, 2010 in Mets

That certainly didn’t take long. Six games into the season and I’m already thoroughly disgusted with this shell of a team.
The Mets fell weakly to the Washington Nationals, 5-2, capping a lackluster 2-4 opening homestand to the Marlins and powerful Nats.
Johan Santana didn’t have it today, surrendering a grand slam to Met killer Josh Willingham in the first, and you pretty much knew that was it. Not that the Mets were facing a great pitcher, mind you. Over the hill Livan Hernandez, who has pitched pretty poorly for much of the last three seasons, tossed seven innings. Just like the last couple years, when the Mets fall behind early, you never get the sense they’re going to come back.
And really, Jerry Manuel has got to go. Why he keeps insisting starting Gary Matthews Jr. in centerfield over the more effective and dynamic offensive player, Angel Pagan, I’ll never know. Matthews came up several times with chances to drive in runs, going 0-for-4. If someone is going to start over Pagan while Beltran is out, it should be super prospect Fernando Martinez, not Matthews, who has never had a great year without the benefit of pharmaceutical assistance.
And so the Mets look like they did for much of last year, listless and uninspired. I nominate Wally Backman for manager. Or Gary Carter. Or anyone with a brain.

Nats 4, Mets 3

Posted: April 10, 2010 in Mets

First off, ***K Willie Harris! That guy made a diving catch two years ago to rob the Mets of a win, and I hear he did it again today. Wasn’t able to watch the game, just followed a bit on the computer. Long story short, the Mets had plenty of chances to win this one, leaving a small village on base, including the bases loaded in the ninth. Rod Barajas hit a screaming liner to left to end it, with Harris making the diving stab. Josh Willingham certainly wouldn’t have got it, so you have to give the Nats’ manager some credit. Jason Bay had an awful at bat with two on in the ninth, taking two fastballs before chasing a Matt Capps slider. Three pitches, see ya later. The big news was the return of Jose Reyes. Too bad he had to come back in an Oliver Perez start. The thing is, Perez was about as good as he’s been the last two years (which isn’t saying much of course), allowing four runs on four hits with four walks and 6 Ks in his 5 2/3 inning stint, but the guy is pretty horrendous and Omar an idiot for paying him that ridiculous three-year, $36 million contract when no one else was very interested.
Another thing, why does Tyler Clippard pitch like Roger Clemens whenever he faces the Mets? Three innings of relief, no runs, 1 hit, no walks and 7 Ks.
The Mets’ pen was again very good, with Ryota Igarashi, Pedro Feliciano and Jenrry Mejia combining for 3 1/3 shutout innings. All for naught.
New York falls a game under .500 at 2-3, with the Mets facing the mighty Nats in Sunday’s rubber match. Johan Santana vs. Livan Hernandez in that one. Should be a Mets win, but with this team, you never know….

Mets 8, Nats 2

Posted: April 9, 2010 in Mets

The Mets rolled to an 8-2 win over the Washington Nationals tonight behind a strong pitching performance from Mike Pelfrey and big games from Jeff Francouer and Rod Barajas at the plate.
Pelfrey worked six innings, allowing two runs and four hits with four walks and four strikeouts. Francoeur and Barajas each blasted a pair of homers, and David Wright added two hits, an RBI and a run.
As maligned as the pitching staff has been, the Mets now have three quality starts out of four. And the bullpen has delivered in the last two games, tossing six shutout innings.
Better yet, Jose Reyes returns to the lineup tomorrow, meaning young Ruben Tejada will likely be sent down. Tejada played shortstop tonight, going 1-for-3 with a walk and a run. His hit was the first of his big-league career, so at least he won’t go back to the minors with a .000 lifetime average.
These teams meet again tomorrow afternoon with Oliver Perez opposing John Lannan.

Marlins 3, Mets 1

Posted: April 8, 2010 in Mets

The Mets lost their first series of the season, falling 3-1 to the Florida Marlins at Citi Field tonight.
Nate Robertson, Burke Badenhop and Leo Nunez combined for a seven-hitter, as the Mets managed just one extra-base hit, a fourth-inning RBI double by Jeff Francoeur. After imploding the night before, the Marlins bullpen did the job tonight with four innings of one-hit ball.
Jon Niese was pretty effective tonight, allowing three runs on eight hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out three, and although he was in constant trouble, he did a nice job of minimizing the damage. The Mets’ pen put up a strong performance tonight, but the lack of offense did the team in.
With the Mets’ starting pitching riddled with question marks outside of Johan Santana and the bullpen also a mystery, it is imperative the Mets win these types of games. They got a solid pitching effort tonight, and David Wright and company should be able to do more against the great Nate Robertson and Burke Badenhop.
And in the ninth, the Mets had terrible ABs against Leo Nunez. Down two runs, Fernando Tatis swung at the first pitch and flied out to deep left-center. Nunez was wild the night before, you’ve got to make him throw some pitches. Rod Barajas got ahead of the count 3-1 and instead of taking a strike, swung and flew out to left. Then Gary Matthews Jr. (who in no way should be starting more than Angel Pagan) fanned on four pitches to end it.
I know, it’s very early in the season, but this team needs to start off strong to erase the embarassment of last season. The Nats come in to town for three games, and the Mets should see the return of Jose Reyes to the lineup. Needless to say, I’m excited about that. Jose makes this team go, and to tell you the truth, I would love to see Reyes and Pagan at the top of the Mets lineup, with Slappy Castillo batting eighth. Or if they keep Castillo batting second, move Bay to cleanup, Pagan to fifth or sixth and have Jacobs down in the seventh spot. He can’t be batting cleanup anymore. He’s got a black hole in his swing. He connects every once in awhile, but most of the time, the results aren’t pretty. Meanwhile, on the farm, Ike Davis was 3-for-3 in his AAA debut the last time I checked. Help is on the way….

Was away last few days

Posted: April 8, 2010 in Mets

A friend was in town visiting me, so I’ve been away from the blog a couple days. We attended the Orioles-Rays game last night, the Rays are looking like they’ll challenge the Yanks and Sox for AL East supremacy this year. Matt Garza was outstanding, tossing eight strong innings, allowing an unearned run on four hits with two walks and nine strikeouts (wish a Met other than Johan could give this type of performance). Evan Longoria is a stud, as he doubled, homered and drove in three in a 4-3 Rays win. I nearly had a shining moment, as midway through the game, a high foul fly came my way. We were in the second deck, just two rows back. I jumped out of my seat and had my glove at the ready. I was camped under the high lazy fly and just knew I’d catch my first-ever foul ball. Then it happened. Some moron from the upper deck reached over the railing, full extension, and dropped the ball. It tumbled into the lower deck and I stood there for a moment, pissed off and dejected. The people around me consoled me, saying “You would have had that, you were right under it.” And so it goes, no foul balls in nearly 35 years of baseball fandom. As for the Mets, I’ve read they were in quite an ugly contest with the Marlins last night, losing 7-6 in extra innings. The Mets rallied from a 6-1 seventh inning hole, mainly because Marlins pitchers couldn’t find the plate and Marlins fielders couldn’t make routine plays. John Maine was terrible and the Mets’ pen wasn’t much better, which will most likely be a recurring theme this year.