he True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: November 2006h

Monday, November 27, 2006

Knicks Start Pivitol Three Game Road Trip in Chicago

The Knicks have very clearly had problems at home this season, but their next three games will be on the road. Their 4-4 record on the road is most impressive, which is why the Knicks must capitalize on every potential road victory possible. At least until they figure out how to win at home. All three road games are against perennial playoff teams (despite the Bulls struggles they are still a perennial playoff team) and the latter two games will be against two of the three teams with winning records in the eastern conference. The Knicks are currently one game out of first place in the Atlantic Division behind the New Jersey Nets. They are also only one game behind eighth seed Boston, although six other teams are within one game of the Celtics. Therefore, as a rough November comes to a close, the Knicks most find a way to win two of the next three games. No matter how difficult it sounds against the better teams in the league it is a must, before they begin to lose confidence. With injuries to Quentin Richardson and Channing Frye the short bench must find a way to overcome adversity and pull through for a couple of victories until they begin to get healthy again.

As for the Bulls, Ben Wallace appears to be butting heads with Coach Scott Skiles. You may have noticed in Saturday's game that Wallace started and then proceeded to be pulled two minutes into the game by Coach Skiles. The reason: Wallace was wearing a headband, which violates team policy. Yes, you read that right. Coach Skiles pulled his best defender, albeit he has underacheived so far, out of the game to prove a point. Later in the game Wallace sustained two minor injuries: a finger sprain and a wrist contusion. Wallace met with GM John Paxson for the second straight day on Monday, in an attempt to end Wallace's insubordination. Wallace's problems with Skiles can only be good news for the Knicks, and Eddy Curry. Although, by the way back-up center Malik Allen played on Saturday (15 points in 25 minutes) this may be bad news.

Tommorow's game is at 8:30 est on MSG.

Injuries to Frye and Richardson Deplete Knicks Roster

The Knicks roster was already two men short of the normal 15 size NBA rosters. Utillity forward, Jared Jeffries, has been out all season after wrist surgery, and Isiah Thomas elected not to sign or keep a 15th player for the roster after training camp broke. Therefore, when Channing Frye's sprained ankle and Quentin Richardson's strained hamstring came in the same quarter in Saturday's loss to the Bulls the Knicks were immediately outmanned on the bench. The Knicks preceded to have their daily dramatic comeback, only to fall just short.

Channing Frye will be out until around 2007, and Quentin Richardson is day to day with his strained hamstring. In fact, some question if Richardson will be able to play against the Bulls, in his home town. However, if Richardson does play he would definitley not be 100%. Nevertheless, his injury seems far less worse than Frye's.

Frye believes that this injury will help increase his knowledge for the "intellectual part of the game". Frye was seemingly gaining more confidence as the games went on, and I assume what he meant by the "intellectual part of the game" is to keep his confidence up, and to even raise it above what it currently is. This is Frye's third injury in his short two year career, all of which are freak accidents. The first came towards the end of the 2005-2006 season when Nate Robinson pushed a defender into Frye's knee, straining his left knee ligament.

With the injuries David Lee will move into the starting lineup, although Richardson's small forward spot is still questionable. Because Richardson may or may not play there has been no announcement as to whom will start at small forward. Presumably Jamal Crawford or Renaldo Balkman would get the call to start.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Mets make second deal in six days...Sign Outfielder

Monday was a big day for the Mets organization. Three new faces are with the Mets, including their new starting leftfielder.

The long awaited Moises Alou signing officially happened, and the Mets added yet another veteran to their team. Alou, the left fielder who "Bartman" stole the fall ball from, has hit under .280 only twice during his 16 year career, and his bashed home over 100 rbi five times in his career, most recently in 2004--his last complete injury free season. Alou has also smacked 319 home runs in his career, including at least 20 eight times, most recently in 2006 when he hit 22 in only 95 games. This past season with the Giants Alou had minor trouble with his back, and an ankle sprain categorized by Alou as a "freak accident." As aforementioned Alou only played 95 games and hit 22 home runs, but he also hit home 74 base runners and hit .301. To put Alou's season in perspective--had Alou stayed on pace with the numbers he collected in his 95 games for a full season he would have had 122 rbi and 36 home runs. Clearly Alou, who does not wear batting glaves and urinates on his hands before every game to keep the bat in his hands, can still hit, and will most likely be a force behind David Wright in the Mets lineup. However, perhaps the most important statistic for Alou is his career .330 average against left handed pitchers. Anyone who followed the Mets knows that the Mets could not hit a left handed pitcher from July 31st and on, with the exception of the occasional game. In fact, the lowly Pirates swept the Mets with three straight left handed starters.

Last off-season the Mets made two trades acquiring two players with the Marlins: all-star catcher, Paul LoDuca, and perennial hall-of-famer, Carlos Delgado. Omar Minaya once again wheeled and dealed with the Fish, dealing flamethrowing minor leaguers Henry Owens and Matt Lindstrom for lefthanders Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick. Jason Vargas was a big part of the 2005 Marlins, and their run at the playoffs, starting 13 games and appearing in 17. Vargas went 5-5 with a 4.03 era and he held his opponents to a solid .249 batting average. Vargas has the talent to be a good starting pitcher in the majors, however this season he was dreadful. In his 12 appearences (5 starts) he amassed a woeful 7.33 era, and struck out only 25 batters while walking 30 in 43.0 innings pitched. In 2005 Vargas walked 31 batters in 73.2 innings, which is evidence to me that Vargas' problem last season was mechanical, Rick Peterson's specialty. Vargas figures to be involved in the race for whatever rotation spots are open come spring training, competing with Brain Bannister, Phil Humber, and Mike Pelfrey.

Adam Bostick , a 24 year old lefthander, has yet to pass AA. In Bostick's 22 AA starts this season he had a 3.52 era with an 8-7 record. Bostick struck out 109 hitters, and walked 67 batters in 115 innings. Bostick has always been able to miss a lot of bats, in fact, in A in 2004 Bostick struck out an incredible 163 batters in only 114 innings. Bostick also does not allow a lot of home runs, allowing only seven bombs this season. As an outsider looking in Bostick seems to be a player who struggles with his command, but has terrific stuff and will always strike out a lot of hitters. Bostick may see some time in the Mets bullpen near mid-season if he can get his control down, but only time will tell how good he really is.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Knicks dominate Heat, All smiles in New York

If you asked anybody who follows the Knicks if they would take a 4-6 record in the first ten games with this schedule, most fans would take it in a heartbeat. Now that the Knicks have destroyed the defending Shaq-less Heat and the playoff bound Washington Wizards on back to back games the Knicks are all smiles.

The 100-76 victory against the Heat on Friday night was the prototypical game that Isiah Thomas was talking about all pre-season and off-season. The Knicks had 21 assists, and no player had more than six assists (Quentin Richardson). The Knicks also had eight players with at least eight points, and five players in double figures, but none with more than 19 (Jamal Crawford). The defense was there too. The Heat scored 27 points in the second quarter, but in the third and fourth quarter's combined the Heat scored 27 points.

The Knicks had 16 total turnovers in the game, but seven of the turnovers came in the fourth quarter, which featured mainly players like Mardy Collins, Jerome James (in his first real minutes of the season), and Malik Rose. Speaking of Jerome James, he was terrific in his 14 minutes, scoring nine points with one block and three rebounds. If James can play like he did on Friday on most nights the Knicks will have quite the 1-2 punch with James and Curry.

The Knicks will head home to play tonight against the Celtics. The fans will most definitley be behind the Knicks, and I expect another impressive win. Game time is 7:30.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What we have learned...Knicks

Coming off of a dominant all around victory against the Wizards the Knicks will head on the road for two straight games. The first game is against the Heat, and the Knicks will probably be looking at a feast or famine game in Miami. Shaquille O'Neal is hurting for the Heat, but he says he plans to play against the Knicks, because his team needs a leader. This means one of two things. One Shaq will be totally ineffective, despite a succesful practice today, or he will completely dominate and be the leader that he is. Of course, even if Shaq is ineffective the heat also have Alonzo Mourning who torched the Knicks last year with the right hand, swatting 9 shots. The Knciks have competed against the elite teams so far this season, and Miami is definitley not an elite team yet, there entire rotation hasn't played full games together and they may still be trying to get into a groove.

What else have we learned over the past few days?

  1. Jerome James, who looked so good in training camp, coming to play in shape, will finally begin to practice again next week. Kelvin Cato hasn't had much of an impact this season, and I fully expect James to play more than Cato is playing now. Also, James is a very good shot blocker, and if he remains in shape he could join David Lee, Renaldo Balkman, and Nate Robinson off of the bench as the "spark plugs". Did I really just say that about Jerome James? Guess I did.
  2. Although it doesn't directly effect the Knicks, Chris Webber has asked out of Philadelphia which can only be good news for the Knicks. Obviously Webber is not happy which only hurts the 76ers right now, and because of Webber's bad legs, and huge contract the 76ers will most definitley not get talent back to what Webber is capable of doing. Overall, good news for the Knicks.
  3. Stephon Marbury said before the game against the Wizards that he was being too timid and was not being aggressive, that he was still earning his role in the offense. Although he wasn't terrific against the Wizards (16 points, 4 assists, 0 turnovers) he showed signs of improvement, and he was also much more aggresive. The Knicks will need Marbury to play better if they want to win, and so far he is showing signs of getting there. The Miami game will be a true test with D Wade potentially guarding him, and with either Shaq or Alonzo Mourning in the middle Marbury will not have an easy night driving, but that doesn't mean he can't be succesful.

What we have learned...Mets

Since we've last spoken a variety of events have happened for the Mets organization. Below is a list of each event, and my take/description of the event.

  1. The Mets have re-signed El Duque and Jose Valentin- I love the re-signing of El Duque, for obvious reasons. El Duque was terrific with us last year, going 9-7 and if you take away his eleven run shalacking by the Phillies his era plummets from 4.09 to 3.37, which is almost ace-like material. Although, I'm definitley not calling El Duque our ace, but he certainly has shown he can still get the job done. He'll be here for at least two more seasons, and hopefully he'll have two more rings to put on his fingers. As for "the stache" re-signing, I am stilla bit iffy. He didn't get the job done this season coming off the bench, and I don't have much faith in him starting at second base for a full season. He was dreadful in the playoffs, and I hope Omar picks up another second base bat. With all of that said I still like his presence in the clubhouse, and I suppose if he is used as a super-utillity man he could be useful.
  2. The Mets have signed Damion Easley to a contract worth $800,000 for one year. Easley was once a formidable hitter with the Tigers, hitting about 20+ home runs a year, and even hitting home 100 base runners in 1998. Easley has played every position except for CF, LF, and C. There isn't much else to say here other than goodbye Chris Woodward, and hello Damion Easley.
  3. The Mets picked up Jason Standridge from the Cinncinatti Reds. He is not too good from my understanding, but he is still only 28. He walked 14 batters this year and struck out 18, while pitching to a 4.81 era in 18.2 innings for the Reds. Standridge will not be more than a Spring Training invitee.
  4. The Mets dealt Heath Bell and Royce Ring to the Padres for Ben Johnson and Jon Adkins. I sent an e-mail out to my Padres source, so I'll reserve judgement until i hear back from him.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Knicks Fall to 2-5, Rose Tired of Losing

Last night the Knicks lost by eight to the elite Spurs, in San Antonio. Staying within double-digits of a potential world champion sounds nice, but the Knicks could of won the game, and the same problems that have affected them all season continued to hurt them in the loss. The Knicks were outscored 21-32 in the first quarter, turned the ball over 15 times, played terrible defense for the majority of the game, and only had 11 assists. If you count the quarters after the first then the Knicks outscored the Spurs by three, which shows that the Knicks at least have the potential to become a good team, they just need to figure out the first 12 minutes.

Malik Rose played in his fourth consecutive game where he had significant minutes, and he is tired of losing. This is good to see, you want the players to get upset when they lose so that they try to lose as little as possibly. Obviously they try to win every game, but if thy get down and depressed as it sounds Rose is it could change the attitude that much more. Hopefully this attitude rubs off on some of the other players, even though the coach has continually said that he is content with a 1-2 road trip against elite teams, and I can't be upset with that record but I am not happy. And neither should the Knicks be.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Matzuzaka bidding ends today, although announcement comes in six days

Coveted Japanese starter, Daisuke Matzusaka (still working on perfecting the spelling), has reportedly been bid on by at least five teams in the Mets, Cubs, Rangers, D-Backs, Red Sox and Yankees. Matzusaka's team, the Seibu Lions, will review all of the bids from the clubs that submit offers and by Tuesday the 14th they will announce who is the winning bidder. Once the winning bidder is announced the winning organization will have the only rights to negotiate a contract with Scott Boras. However, if the winning bidder cannot negotiate a deal then their money will be returned and Matzusaka wil return to the Lions and will be posted again in the 2007 offseason.

Personally I don't understand why a team like the Devil Rays or Royals don't just bid an upsurd amount and then choose not to negotiate so the powerhouses in their respective league do not become stronger. Maybe I'm missing something.

The off-season is only a few days old and already there are tons of rumors swirling. Here's a brief list of what I have heard so far:

  • The New York Times reported that the Mets wil try to nab Dontrelle Willis or Daisuke Matzusaka. However, if the Mets fail they will try for lefty Barry Zito or try to trade for ace pitcher Jake Peavy, who has recently become available.
  • The Mets have reportedly been in contact with Mark Mulder's agent, and Adam Kennedy's agent.
  • Lastly, the Cubs, Marlins, and Devil Rays all reportedly are interested in Aaron Heilman to use in a starting role. The Mets have reportedly been interested in Edwin jackson because Peterson claims he can fix his mechanical problems. Jackson was once a stud prospect, but is still only 23. Sounds like a mixture of Oliver Perez and Victor Zambrano please.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Beltran's Highlight Reel Helps Reel in First Gold Glove

Carlos Beltran had a career year this season, and he also had a career first on the defensive end. Beltran reeled in his first gold glove of his career yesterday, and it was the first gold glove for the Mets organization since Rey Ordonez won it at shortstop in 1999.

Beltran's impressive season continues, even after baseball has stopped being played.

Other gold glove winners were:
P-Greg Maddux (record tying 16th gold glove)
C-Brad Ausmus
1B-Albert Pujols
2B-Orlando Hudson
3B-Scott Rolen
SS-Omar Vizquel
OF-Andruw Jones
OF-Mike Cameron

Knicks fall to 1-1 in loss to Atlanta

Coming off of an impressive triple overtime road victory against a young Grizzlies team the Knicks had to be feeling good about themselves entering last night's game against the lackluster Hawks. However, in the NBA it is difficult to win two straight road games, and the Knicks failed to accomplish such a feat last night.

As was the problem all of last season, the Knicks turned the ball over way too many times. The Knicks turned the ball over 17 times and allowed 18 fast break points, compared to the Hawks 13 turnovers and holding the Knicks to 10 fast break points turnovers was obviously a key factor in the Knicks defeat.

As for the important individual stats, a handful of Knicks had nice nights. Eddy Curry was once again impressive offensivley, scoring 20 points. However, Curry nabbed only two rebounds, compared to the 14 he grabbed against the Grizzlies. Curry also played 39 minutes, his second straight game of at least 39 minutes. Quentin Richardson also continued to play outstanding basketball. He scored 19 points on 6-12 shooting, he also snatched six boards. Steve Francis played a terrific all around game as well. Francis only had nine points, but he also had nine assists and six rebounds, and only two turnovers, a large improvement from the five turnovers he had in game one in about the same amount of minutes. Stephon Marbury was solid, but not great in the loss. He only scored 9 points on 2-9 shooting, but he dished out five assists, and he only turned the ball over once. David Lee was once again outstanding on the boards. He nabbed eight boards and scored nine points on 6-8 of shooting, mostly in the paint. The last Knick who was solid in the loss was Nate Robinson. Robinson scored 15 total points, howevber all of them came in the fourth quarter. However, Robinson was also hit up with a technical for complaining, and had four total personal fouls in only 22 minutes.

Although there were a lot of good looking games, there was also a lot of red flags. Channign Frye played dreadfully for the second straight game. Frye looked uncoordianted, dropping more than a few passes, he also turned the ball over four times, and shot 2-11 and scored only four points. Dating back to the pre-season Frye has not had a game where you could say he was anything but bad. Another flag is Jamal Crawford. Crawford played 27 minutes and scored only five points on 1-8 shooting. He also had no assists and only two rebounds. When Crawford is going bad he trys to shoot his way out of it, and that means that if he doesn't turn it around soon there may start to be problems if he is the only one not following the team concept. Keep an eye on Crawford to see if he continues to shoot his way out of his funk.

Report Card:
Offense: C
Defense: C-
Overall: D+

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Mota gets caught using 'roids...Jeffries officially has surgery

Since the new drug ban in baseball took place the major league Mets hadn't been effected, for the most part. A few names had fluttered around that had been caught, such as Felix Heredia, Yusaku Iriki, but not much else, until today. Today Newsday revealed that Mota has been using steroids, and he will be suspended for the first 50 games of the 2007 season.

I wonder what Minaya is thinking about this, and if he should still sign the 33 year old. Before this Mota was an obvious re-sign, but it appears that it was more than just moving his footing closer to first base that made Mota pitch better. It certainly appears that Mota needed the illegal substance to pitch as succesful as he did. So that begs the question, can he be succesful off of the "juice"? I would still sign him, but I would also go for another set-up man and start Mota off in middle relif. This also could turn out to almost benefit the 2007 Mets, despite the bad publicity. If Minaya does decide to sign Mota, and he happens to still be pitching fine, then Minaya will have gotten Mota for a signicantly cheaper price.

As I mentioned yesterday Jeffries was rumored to be going under the knife and would be out for another 6-8 weeks. It was made official today, and Jeffries will be out for an extra two months. As mentioned yesterday, this just puts more pressure on Quentin Richardson, and the bench to play better. This team did not respond well to pressure last year, but hopefully a new year means a new response.

Listed on