Posted on: June 19, 2011 1:21 pm

Jason Bay finally has something to build on
Category: MLB
Posted on: January 29, 2011 1:35 am

Brad Holt Feels Back on Track

by vinny cartiglia on Jan 25, 2011 02:00 pm in Link , Quick Hit

I could never pinpoint what started the downfall at the beginning of the season because the spring training went great, we kind of agreed on it being a ‘mental year.’ And so when I got down there [for the instructional league], nobody was trying to change my delivery or anything, trying to figure out what was wrong. They told me just to go back to whatever was comfortable for me.

I was filling up the strike zone in my bullpens. Everything just kind of cleaned up on its own. The first batter I was a little shaky, but after that I settled down nice. I think that was the reason they eventually sent me out to Arizona. It was all mental. It was really for a week and a half after the end of the [regular] season being able to go home and being around friends and family. It cleared my head. That was a huge factor in me loosening up and relaxing.”

- Brad Holt as quoted by Adam Rubin of ESPN New York recently made mention of a Q & A Matt Eddy of Baseball America did with Joe DeMayo of St. Lucie to Flushing.  Eddy was responsible for compiling the list of New York’s top 10 prospects for Baseball America this season, taking over for Adam Rubin who had performed the task in previous years.  In the Q & A (which you can read in full by clicking HERE ) Eddy justified his inclusion of Holt by saying:

Three sources whom I trust advocated for Holt. … “I actually really like this guy even though he’s performed poorly,” one said. “He’ll be fine, ” another assured me, adding, “The stuff is there, but mentally he didn’t always show up.”

Holt, who was selected in the first round of the 2008 amateur draft (33rd overall),  was 3-14 with a 8.34 ERA with 79 walks and 87 strikeouts in 24 appearances (23 starts) in 2010 between class A St. Lucie and Double A Binghamton. As Rubin points out Holt showed signs of a turnaround at the organization’s subsequent fall instructional league in Fort Myers, Fla. “He then continued that progress in the Arizona Fall League, going 2-1 with a 2.92 ERA in 12 1/3 innings over five appearances before being shut down with a mild elbow issue.”

Category: MLB
Tags: mets
Posted on: July 11, 2010 2:56 am

R.I.S.P = Runners In Stranded Position!

The New York Mets enjoyed their most successful month of the short season in June (18-8, .692 win %).  Offensively, if it seemed a little like things were clicking on all cylinders, it’s because they sort of were.  The team 24 home runs in June were a season high, as was the .274 batting avg for the month.  More importantly, the Mets began to do something they had struggled with all season long, they hit with runners in scoring position (RISP).  New York batted a remarkable .299 with RISP, .036 points above the league average of .263.

These ingredients made for a winning recipe and the Mets produced their highest runs/game output of the year (4.85).  The start of July seemed like more of the same as the team began the month a whopping 18 for 55 with RISP (.327 avg) and produced 5 runs/game.  Over that span (6 games) Jason Bay showed signs of heating up, going 5 for 11 (.454 avg) with RISP while Angel Pagan and David Wright were a combined 4 for 10 (.400 avg) in the same category.  They even managed to score a few runs for Johan Santana (or should I say   Johan managed to spark a few runs for himself) .  Things were looking up in a hurry, but was it all too good to be true?  Unfortunately, these last few games would seemingly point towards ‘YES’.

During the Mets current three game losing streak the team is apparently swinging a fishing net with runners in scoring position.  They are an incredibly unproductive 1-26 (.035 avg) and are in danger of being swept at home for the first time all season.

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Posted on: July 11, 2010 2:53 am

The Final 'Leep'- Lee to Texas

It has been a rough couple days for sports fans in New York.  A day after Lebron decided to spurn the Big Apple for South Beach, the Mariners have denied both the Mets and Yankees of Cliff Lee ‘s services, choosing instead to trade him to the Texas Rangers.

It appears as if this really did play out like a soap opera as several sources had stated this morning that Lee was heading to the Yankees for a package centered about prized catching prospect Jesus Montero and David Adams .  Much to the Yankees’ dismay and utter irritation, this was not the case.  Instead, Texas made a last minute push and topped New York’s offer, reluctantly giving up first baseman Justin Smoak , RHP Blake Beavan , LHP Josh Lueke and second baseman Matt Lawson.

According to Joel Sherman and George King of the New York Post , this is how things played out this afternoon:

"late Friday morning, the Mariners expressed concern about Adams, a Double-A second baseman currently on the disabled list with a high ankle sprain. The Mariners asked the Yankees to substitute Single-A righty Adam Warren . The Yankees agreed. But after more time elapsed, Seattle came back and also asked for touted shortstop prospect Eduardo Nunez .The Yankees had balked at Seattle’s demands for Montero and Nunez weeks ago, and told the Mariners “No” again. At this point, the Yankees figured Seattle was simply stalling because it had another option, which turned out to be accurate.

The Rangers initially refused to include prized first baseman Justin Smoak , but with the Yankees on the verge of obtaining Lee, Texas blinked.

The Mariners accepted a package of Smoak and three other prospects for Lee and reliever Mark Lowe with the Seattle agreeing to pay $2.5 million of Lee’s approximately $5 million remaining salary for the cash-strapped Rangers."

For more on this story click here to visit us at

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 11, 2010 2:51 am

A 10-year Reunion: Bring Back Dotel!

After searching for most of the 1990′s the Mets seemingly found an ace when, in December of 1999, GM Steve Phillips traded for LHP Mike Hampton .  Hampton, 27 at the time, was coming off a Cy Young caliber campaign  (22-4, 2.90 ERA) and was supposed to be the last piece of New York’s championship puzzle.  In 2000 the Mets made it to the World Series, in part due to Hampton’s 15 wins and 3.14 ERA, but when the season was over they were not world champions and their ace left as a free agent.

The subplot to the story involves a 25-year old rookie that was the centerpiece of the trade to bring Hampton to New York, Octavio Dotel .  In 1999, as a rookie, the young Dominican fireballer was 8-3 with a 5.38 ERA in 14 starts and five relief appearances, striking out 85 in 85 1/3 innings.  Then Houston GM Gerry Hunsicker had this to say about Octavio at the time of the trade:

"Dotel is a young dominating pitcher.  Because of his talent and his power arm he was pushed rather aggressively through the Mets’ system and thrown into a pressure packed pennant race this season in a pressure city. This kid gave us an exciting look at what we can expect.”

For more on this story click here to visit

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 26, 2010 1:19 pm

An extR.A.ordinary Story

An extR.A.ordinary Story

One month ago today, May 25th, the Mets rotation was in disarray.  Sporting two starters on the DL and another banished to the bullpen to be lost forever (or at least we hope), the starting 5 needed saving.  On that day R.A. Dickey , who looks like he just jumped off an old roll of Brawny paper towels , would make his second start for the Mets.   He stepped into an unenviable spot and was unlikely to be the savior the Mets so badly needed.  Or so we thought.  Fans were relying on him to keep the subway series momentum going and help the team gain ground on their division rivals.

He responded with 6 strong innings, during which he held the Phillies (2<sup>nd</sup> in the NL in runs/game at the time) scoreless.  Who would have imagined (back on May 25th) that Dickey was just getting started.  His story, demeanor, and performance have thrust him onto a seemingly unsaid mission to preserve the hopes of Mets fans and, in the process, be the very savior this staff was so desperately seeking.

Robert Alan Dickey was selected in the first round (18th overall) of the 1996 draft by the Texas Rangers.  Back then he was more of a gunslinger type, throwing upwards of 92/93 MPH.  He spent most of the next 8 yrs bouncing between AAA and the majors and from 2001-2004 he was unimpressive at best.  Through 233 Major League innings Dickey sported a 5.40 ERA, not exactly what Texas scouts were expecting from their former 1st round pick.  To make matters worse, fellow pitchers  Jake Westbrook and Gil Meche (who went 21st and 22nd respectively in R.A.'s draft class) were enjoying some early success and showing signs of development as Dickey faltered.

When an injury to the rhomboid muscle caused his velocity to dip into the mid-80s, R.A. was approached by former Texas pitching coach Orel Hershiser , who suggested he could prolong his career if he would commit to the knuckleball .  It was at this point (2005) that Dickey committed to reinventing himself.  He told Adam Rubin of ESPN New York (click here to read full article )

My velocity had gone from about 91, 92 down to 86, 87 mph. But I felt great, I just didn't have any more bullets -- at least hollow-point bullets. I still have some bullets, but not the armor-piercing ones. So I had to come up with something if I wanted to keep chasing a dream. That was kind of the beginning."

Steve Kelley of Seattle times (click here to read full article ):

To take a new path in order to stay in the big leagues, I've had to let go of everything that got me there, I had to commit. To do that, to become somebody new, to really leave who you were behind, it's really hard. Very difficult."

It has taken 5 years but that commitment has begun to payoff for Dickey and the team who decided to give him a shot this past winter, our New York Mets.  After being cut loose by the Twins, Mariners, and Rangers (since 2006) Dickey signed a minor league contract with the Mets in December of 2009.  Heading into this season R.A. had a 14-22 record and 6.30 ERA in 48 career starts but did show some promise working out of the bullpen while with the Mariners in 2008, posting a 2.oo ERA in that role (36 IP).

This year has been another story, out of a different book, off a different shelf, from a library on another planet.  Dickey's record stands at 6-0 and he leads all starters with a 2.33 ERA in 7 starts.  With 6 straight wins he even became the first Mets pitcher in franchise history to win his first 6 decisions.  Prior to this year R.A. had a career BB/9 ratio of 3.5, but he has managed to only allow 14 walks over 46 1/3 innings (2.7 BB/9) this year.  At this point his 2010 stats are hard to ignore and the question now becomes, after 13 seasons of mediocrity and the not so tender age of 35, how has the knuckle baller turned in 7 straight eye catching starts?  According to Dickey its about being ready:

I think a lot of it has to do with opportunity for sure. I felt like I've had opportunities in the past and not been ready for them. I feel like I'm ready now. I have been throwing the pitch a long enough time where I know how to make adjustments during course of the game and I believe in it enough to where I can really commit to it...I think that may be the difference for me right now"

At this point Dickey's 2010 sampling is something that just needs to be enjoyed and respected.  Jerry Manuel has seemingly scoffed at the idea of replacing R.A. with John Maine (thank heavens) but the team still continues to entertain the idea of adding another veteran starter to the staff.  Given how injuries have fallen upon this team's staff over the past few years I think they are making the right move and it is not one that should be viewed as a slight against Dickey.  Call it precautionary measures, call it insurance, call it due diligence, or maybe even call it the search for the next R.A. Dickey.  However you want to paint the picture one fact is certain, R.A. Dickey has done right by the Mets and this ball club is doing right by him as both continue to enjoy this ext.R.A.ordinary story.

Posted on: June 26, 2010 1:15 pm

Frankie Says Relax!

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Frankie Says Relax!

by Jason Robotham on Jun 26, 2010 08:07 am in Featured  

In 1984 the English pop band “  Frankie Goes to Hollywood ” had a song called ‘  Relax ’ top the UK charts (any 80’s video is worth watching but this is a classic, gotta love those white gloves).   Instead of going to Hollywood, Frankie Rodriguez   decided to ditch California for Queens, but the song ‘Relax’ should be what fans hear in their heads when he toes the mound in the 9<sup>th</sup> .  Certainly K-Rod would agree, saying this to reporters back on May 24 :

Sometimes I’ve got fans out there watching, almost giving them a heart attack because all the stuff I do. But take it easy…I know what I’m doing out there. If anyone gets a heart attack because of this game, I’m sorry. But that’s how I get it done”

Friday night’s contest against Twins was no exception.  Brought on with a 3-run lead in the 9<sup>th</sup> , Rodriguez allowed the tying run to reach the plate before turning things up a notch.  He promptly struck out Jason Kubel (on a nasty change-up) and got Delmon Young to ground out to David Wright to end the game for his 17th save of the season.  Just another day at the office for Frankie, yet as Met fans who have truly only seen a lot of Rodriguez these past 2 years, we sweat, we bite nails, we pull hair, and we certainly don’t RELAX.  But maybe it’s time we do just that, because Francisco Rodriguez is pitching as good as he ever has and when he’s going good, he’s one of the best there is at finishing games.

My initial reaction to seeing how difficult K-Rod can make things look over the past couple years was to think that is record breaking 2008 season did a number on him.  All those saves (62) must have worn on his arm and maybe that’s even why L.A. let him walk.  Surely he was more ‘lights out’ while with the Angels, where he won 2   Rolaids Relief Awards (2006, 2008) despite playing in the same league as Mariano Rivera .  Well let’s define ‘lights out’, which to me simply means never having to break a sweat when your closer enters in the 9th because you know it’s ‘game over’.  Things will be quick and easy and you’re more likely to check out what the line is on tomorrow’s game then you are to worry about who is due up 5<sup>th</sup> in the 9<sup>th</sup> inning.  Who personifies that definition better than Mariano Rivera ?  In addition to Mo, I think it’s fitting to at least speak of one pitcher whose talents are of this planet, so let’s also go with his co-Rolaids relief award winner in 2009, Joe Nathan .  I’ll use K-Rod’s 2010 numbers because there’s no arguing he just wasn’t that good last year and besides, why dwell on the past, I’m talking about how he makes fans feel when he walks to the mound today.

Since my ‘lights out definition’ is 100% arbitrary I’ve chosen categories that, in my opinion, demonstrate a pitcher is working quickly (Batters Faced/Inning and pitches/inning), not allowing runners to score (ERA), and getting the job done as a whole (% converted saves). (see for graphs)

In strictly looking at these comparisons, in which I chose scales to help accentuate the differences between the pitchers, I can see where fans who are stuck watching a guy like Rivera do his thing across town would be justified in their criticisms about Rodriguez.  He doesn’t work as quickly as Nathan or Rivera (more pitches and batters faced per inning), he tends to allow more runs (higher ERA), and he blows a higher percentage of saves (lower % saves converted).  Grant it, this is just a comparison of one season, but if you look at the last few years it’s more of the same.

For anyone who might suggest that it’s futile to compare him to the best, you have to believe that’s exactly what the Mets (along with their fans) thought they were getting when the team signed the closer that had 31 more saves than anyone in baseball from 2006-2008.  Whether or not these criticisms are completely warranted may have more to do with said expectations being a little off base than anything else.  If you compare K-Rod to……well, K-Rod, then this year he is giving New Yorkers exactly what they should have expected (see for graphs)

When you look at his numbers as a whole, Rodriguez has never been ‘lights out’, at least not in the way some fans (or at least myself) thought he was.  In relations to guys like Mariano and Nathan he has always allowed runners to get on, he has always needed a lot of pitches to work through jams, and yet he has always been effective.   So maybe it’s time to tinker with my definition of ‘lights out’, because in the end, isn’t it all about getting the job done?  In that sense, K-Rod has been ‘lights out’ in every sense this year and perhaps it’s time to listen when Frankie says relax.

So the next time the tying run approaches the plate…..or reaches base….or gets to third, just take a deeeeep breath and fight your urge to give into those nervous feelings.  Do as the song says “Relax, don’t do it, when you wanna go to it. Relax, don’t do it, when you wanna go”, because K-Rod has it under control.

Posted on: June 19, 2010 11:32 pm

Mets in the Bronx: No DROP off!

May 21st… It feels like yesterday. The Mets were in last place (20-23) and losers of 10 out of 12 games. Much was being made of the teams struggles away from Citi Field from Beat writers, fans, and Bloggers alike. With two more games against the defending World Series champion New York Yankees remaining and a 3 game set with the defending NL champion Phillies on deck, the  road ahead looked bleak. Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya might as well have been sitting on Jupiter because their seats were hot enough to fry an egg.  The popular pick in the ’Jerry Gets Fired’ office pool was May 24th.  As   Dr. Peter Venkman once said “this city is headed for disaster of biblical proportions.”

Well that was then, and this is now…. June 18th… and unlike in Ghostbusters, there would be no sequel to the disaster of 2009.  The Mets entered this series with Yankees as the hottest team in baseball and with their 4-0 victory tonight (see our   MetsZilla Z-cap   for details) have now won 19 of their last 24 games (8 in a row).  For the first time since August 15th 2008 (66-56) they are  more than 10 games over .500 (39-28) and remain just a 1/2 game behind the division leading Atlanta Braves.  Having won 9 of the last 10 the Mets also move into a tie with the San Diego Padres for the top spot in the NL Wild Card race.  The road ahead… looks promising. What a difference a month makes.

It all seems surreal and like Jay said  in Thursday’s   Z-Cap :

Perhaps the best part about the way this team is playing, besides the fact that they are keeping pace with the unworldly Atlanta Braves (still 1/2 game back), is that for the first time in my recent memory they actually appear to be having fun…”

Jay is right. They are having fun and playing great baseball in the progress. Rightfully so, it feels good to be a Mets fan.  For the first time in a long time you can don your blue and orange with a bit of pride and swagger.  There may still be some fans who choose to remain reserved and contain their excitement, not wanting to fall victim to the seemingly impending heartache Met fans have endured in recent years.  I’m not   Ms. Cleo and I can’t see into the future, but I can say that things are different then they have been in the past.  This is a ‘team’, they play like it, they act like it, they win like it.

Image by Michael Baron

They have beaten the Yankees in 3 straight games, they are winning on the road, Jose Reyes is playing out of his mind, David Wright is hitting/fielding like an MVP, Santana/Pelfrey may be the best 1-2 punch in baseball, and every free agent and rookie the team has brought in is contributing beyond expectations (except that Jason Bay guy).  We can begin to look at 2009, the ’season of injury’ and disarray, as an aberration.  Met fans need to make room for new memories and let the images of lost division leads fade away.  Times are tough enough so why not let yourself be happy?  For me, visions of   Luis Castillo dropping that A-Rod pop-up last year were extradited from the depths of my memory when David Wright, with the bases loaded in tonight’s 9th inning, snagged a Nick Swisher pop-up out of the air like   The Karate Kid would snatch a fly .  There was NO drop tonight and there has been NO drop off in the Mets play…… they have simply brought winning and the joy of watching baseball back to Queens, where it belongs.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or