he True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: May 2007h

Monday, May 28, 2007

Mets: Beat the Braves, too

The Braves have played great thus far this season, so a 4.5 game Met lead over them is pretty impressive. So far as a Met fan you should be content with how the Mets have played, although we know that the whole team hasn't clicked yet, the longest win streak is only four games. With Mota, Sanchez, Valentin, Alou, and Pedro all expected to return at various points in the season the best days are still in front of the Mets. However, if there is one thing the Mets haven't been able to do is beat the Braves head-to-head.

If the Mets have the lead in the standings then that is the main thing, but thus far this year the Mets have lost three rubber games to the Braves, and hold a record of 3-6 against Atlanta. If the Mets want to once again proclaim their fullout dominance on the NL they'll need to start beating Atlanta. Last year the Mets had a record of .500 or better against 12 of the 14 NL team. The lone losing record? The Pirates. The Pirates success against the Mets was pretty obviously an aberration, but the Mets have to prove that the Braves success is also an aberration. The Mets can't afford to let the Braves have a mental effect on them, not only for this year but for years to come. The Mets don't see Atlanta again until August. By then both teams figure to have very different rosters, whether it be because of trades or injuries. Hopefully the Mets can turn the table, and build their own mental advantage over the Mets.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mets Demote One Prospect For Another

In yesterday's loss to the Brewers Mike Pelfrey was victim to poor pitching, and poor defense. In the fourth inning Pelfrey did not get to first base quick enough on a groundball hit to second base. The out would have been the second of the inning. Later in the inning on a pop fly to shallow left field the Mets failed to correctly execute the pickle quickly enough, and a shallow sack fly turned into a two run out. Had Pelfrey gotten to first base earlier in the inning the sacrifice fly would have been the third out, keeping the score at 2-0 after four innings, as opposed to 4-0. Pelfrey finished the day allowed four earned runs over five innings, while allowing eight hits. Pelfrey has been hit pretty hard this season, and as a result his next start will be with New Orleans. On Sunday the Mets announced that Pelfrey would be demoted back to AAA. The Zephyr getting the promotion? Top prospect Carlos Gomez.

With Pelfrey's poor pitching, and left fielder Moises Alou's aching legs, the Mets called on Carlos Gomez to play outfield. Gomez, ranked as the 60th best prospect overall by Baseball America before the season, will be playing right field and batting eighth in his first game on Sunday. Gomez is known as a very toolsy player. His lightning quick speed has caused controversy as to which Met player is faster, Gomez or Reyes. Last season Gomez stole 41 bases in only 50 attempts at AA, and thus far this season at AAA Gomez has 17 steals in 21 attempts. Gomez's rocket arm impressed even Endy Chavez, who has quite the strong arm of his own. The 21 year old has hit .286 thus far at AAA this season with a .363 on base percentage.

Sunday afternoon's game features an outfield of Endy Chavez, Carlos Beltran, and Carlos Gomez from left to right, one of the rangiest outfields you will see at a major league game.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Rumor: Jermaine O'Neal Requests Trade to NY

Rumors have been running rampant that O'Neal requested a trade to the Knicks. According to the Chicago Tribune O'Neal told the Pacers that he would like to play for the Knicks, and close friend, and former coach, Isiah Thomas. O'Neal, originally drafted by the Trailblazers, struggled mightily for playing time his first four years out of high school, until he went to the Pacers. As soon as O'Neal went to Indiana, in 2000-2001, he immediately began to flourish. Since then O'Neal has gone on to average 19.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg, and most importantly 2.4 bpg.

The Tribune speculated as to possible deals for O'Neal. Sam Smith, the author of the article, suggested Steve Francis, Channing Frye, Jared Jeffries, and the Knicks first rounder this year (which is actually the Bulls pick) for O'Neal and a contract. This scenario would be a dream situation for Knicks fans. Get rid of Francis and Jeffries' contracts, trade Frye while he still has value (although I still think he can turn out to be a solid player), and Randolph Morris will be considered our first round pick this year. Isiah could then fill the other roster spots with various free agent pick ups.

Newsday's Ken Berger has another trade scenario. Berger thinks that if the Knicks offered Malik Rose, Channing Frye, Jared Jeffries, their 23rd overall selection, and Jamal Crawford would get O'Neal. This scenario the Knicks give up much more talent, but I would still seriously consider the deal. Assuming Isiah can grab a few good role players from free agency the Knicks could be a very good team next year. Here's to hoping the rumors are true.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Mets Sign Ex-Padre Brian Lawrence

Brian Lawrence hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2005 due to injury. The six foot right hander, with the exception of his last year in the big leagues, has been mildly successful with the Padres. From 2001-2004 Lawrence compiled a record of 41-46 with a 3.91 era while pitching for a Padre team that averaged 74 victories a year during that same span. Lawrence had proven he was a serious major league pitcher, until 2005 came. In 2005 Lawrence went a dreadful 7-15 with a 4.83 era.
That off-season Lawrence was dealt for Vinny Castilla of the Nationals. Lawrence followed up his bad luck with a torn labrum and rotator cuff that didn't even allow him to pitch in 2006. However, before the season Baseball Prospectus saw a potential decline in Lawrence's ability to get outs. Said BP:
His decline accelerated in 2005, as Lawrence was torched like a Parisian sedan by hitters all over the league. He's always been a trapeze artist, relying on form, control, and mechanics, and his effectiveness has depended on his ability to spot his slider to perfection. meanwhile, his peripherals continue to decay. He'll benefit from Washington's defense and soggy, boggy RFK, but those effects will only serve to disguise a pitcher on his way out.

Well, at least we know a little bit more about Lawrence. Obviously he is a control pitcher who doesn't have the greatest of stuff, although judging by his numbers before 2005 he can be successful. Lawrence, like most control pitchers, does not strike out a lot of batters and he will rely on the Mets solid defense to help him out of some jams. Lawrence has had a problem retiring left handed batters during his career. Over his career lefties have hit .299 against Lawrence, as opposed to the .245 that righties hit. If Lawrence doesn't eventually get promoted to start a game for the Mets he may turn out to be useful in the bullpen as a longman, or as a situational righty should Joe Smith not be available that night. Lawrence also has a tremendous career era at Shea Stadium. His .81 era and .90 WHIP in three starts at Shea is more than impressive. His three starts included a complete game shutout that Lawrence threw three years ago.
Lawrence is at least healthy to pitch again, although he hasn't been too successful thus far in the minors. He was invited to Rockies major league camp, which he posted a 4.50 era in 14 innings. Lawrence struck out nine and walked three during spring training, which is an encouraging sign that he still has control of his pitches. Lawrence did not make the team out of spring training, and started the season pitching for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (AAA). Lawrence was roughed up, badly. In his three starts his era was a sky-scraping 8.69. Ironically Lawrence does have one complete game this year. His numbers that game? 7 ip, (I assume it was cut short) 12 hits, and 10 earned runs. In Lawrence's last appearance on April 15th he allowed six runs over six innings, leading to his release by the Rockies. Lawrence allowed three home runs in his three starts, and allowed AAA hitters to hit .376 off of him. Looks like BP was right.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Mets surprisingly option Burgos

Jorge Sosa will make his first start this season. Sosa pitched in AAA in April and was extremely dominant. In his five starts Sosa went 4-0 with a 1.13 era and an incredible 29:4 (7.25:1) strikeout to walk rate in 32 innings. Sosa's control has been one of his biggest problems during his career with the Devil Rays and Braves. Last season with the Braves he went 3-11 with a 5.42 era and a 75:40 (1.9:1) strikeout to walk ratio, significantly worse than what he has done at AAA thus far. Hopefully he can keep his control in check and let his very good stuff dominate the Arizona hitters.

With Sosa getting the call from AAA the Mets are forced to make a roster change for tonight's game against the Diamondbacks. Lino Urdaneta, a 27 year old rookie, was promoted earlier in the week for Chan Ho Park, seemingly in case the Mets needed an extra arm. Most anticipated Urdaneta to be demoted once Jorge Sosa's turn in the rotation came again. However, in a surprising twist the Mets demoted Ambiorix Burgos, a 23 year old fireballer, who had a 4.11 era in his 15.1 innings this year. Although 4.11 is not good, it certainly doesn't deserve a demotion when the replacement is a 27 year old rookie. Not to mention the fact that Urdaneta has a career era of infinite. That's right, in his only career appearance in the majors Urdaneta did not record an out and allowed six runs. What's more is that Urdaneta had a poor 5.84 era in AAA this year in 12.1 innings.

Personally I am very puzzled by the move. Burgos had a lower major league era than Urdaneta had at AAA, by far. Plus, Burgos actually has a promising future if he can get a handle on his secondary pitches and his control. Urdaneta, on the other hand, pitched in only 11 games all of last season in the minors mixed between the GCL and AA. Hopefully I am wrong with what Urdaneta can offer the Mets, but I'd be very surprised if he could add anything Burgos couldn't.

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