Sunday, February 29, 2004

Peter Abraham

If you're interested in good sportswriting (mostly about the Mets), Abraham's is a name you need to know.

He writes for the Journal News. Here are some of my recent favorites, if you haven't been reading:

Wigginton Still Humble (link) - a great look at the personality of our 3b.

Diaz Wants a Bat (link) - some words with and about one of our best hitting prospects.

In addition to writing chops, Peter also has good taste. Here's a link to his latest article. This one's about the Yankees and Mets blogosphere, and offers a little information about some of the bloggers' motivations and styles. Since Kyle wasn't interviewed for the story, I thought I'd let you know that he's twelve, a runaway, and taught himself to read by sneaking furtive glances at the labels on liquor bottles his hobo adoptive father would throw at him. His is a great and triumphant story and I could not begin to relate the innumerable heartwarming anecdotes, like how he found out that cats were indeed not female dogs, or the time baseball saved his life when he boiled one in a pot of his own tears and survived for months on the soup.

I'll close out this batch of sophomoric prattle by encouraging you to check out Peter's work and the blogs in his latest article. If you're coming here for the first time because of the story, thanks for stopping by. If you've got an opinion about something we've written, feel free to drop us a line. As Kyle would say, like an unguarded boxcar, we're always open.

The Small-Market Mets, Pitching Prospects, and Other Oxymorons

Some of my favorite stories from this early leg of training camp have been the typically (and in some cases literally) glowing reports on the progress of the top Mets prospects. It doesn't take much to win me over to their bandwagon - an honest quote or a little emotion on the playing field will do - and I generally find it easier and more fun to root for the young and unproved whose rising star I've tracked with my own eyes than a free agent signing whose value and interview quotes are both predictable. When our young players struggle or don't pan out, it isn't as devastating to me as when ownership hires or trades for a crop of likely free agents who turn out to be, hypothetically speaking, fat and lazy and unprepared. That's because my expectations for a youth movement are always tempered by the knowledge that the talent gap between the minor and major leagues yawns as wide as I did when watching Danny Garcia and Jeff Duncan hack last season. There's no absolute guarantee of future success, and it always seems to me that with the exception of a few near-lock Mark Priors, drafting and developing players is a crap shoot.

The addition of Dr. Rick Peterson to the coaching staff, proud patron of a blogosphere-approved Biomechanical Science Laboratory, is one example of the Mets' attempts to maximize the potential of their farm system. I'm happy that we've got him taping phosphorescent ping pong balls to our Spandex-clad young hurlers and poring over their mechanics, because I think it's possible he might prevent a couple career-threatening injuries or even improve the performance of pitchers on the cusp of success.

That's all well and good, but from everything I've read and heard, it's still incredibly difficult to predict what young pitchers will become. I'm pumped that reputable sources like Joe and Dan's 500 Best Prospects Blog list a ton of Met pitchers in the upper echelon of minor league talent, but I won't be surprised if they all bomb. Kazmir could develop a blister problem that the lab's techniques couldn't track or correct, Peterson's stuff might not be good enough despite solid mechanics, and Royce Ring could get a little too interested in incorporating Eastern spirituality into his training regimen and decide to join a kickboxing academy in Thailand. We've gone from Generation K to Generation Eh before; it could happen again despite the organization's best efforts.

That Red Sox fan-esque eternal pessimism brings me to the reason I'm jotting these thoughts down. As most of you know, there appear to have been serious trade talks with Texas centered on bringing Soriano back to New York for some pitching prospects other than Kazmir. Soriano is much more of a known quantity than our young guns, though he has flashed some warning signs and is older than we thought. He would cost a lot more money than they would, but if we could sign him long-term (and it looks like he really wants to stay in New York) we might be able to get him for a good price. The downside of the trade is that we might be selling off a key component of the franchise's turnaround for a good or maybe great outfielder.

The key word in that last sentence is might, and if I knew how to make things blink in HTML and scroll across the screen, and if those effects didn't completely suck, I'd lay on the emphasis. I say packaging some of our pitching prospects other than the near-lock (the writers gush) Kazmir and sending them to Texas for Soriano is a move we should definitely make if we can, and here's why: We're not the damned Oakland A's.

I would love to root for all of our young pitchers to succeed, but I don't think it's likely that we've got Hudson, Mulder, and Zito in our organization right now, and what's good is that we don't need them. What we do need are a few very talented pitchers and positional players to supplement the team Duquette can assemble with a wisely allocated payroll of $80-$90 million. The idea that we need to develop the entirety of our major league roster internally is ludicrous. What's the reason? Do we need a core of really cheap players? Not particularly, if we spend our money right. Duquette needs to look for talent wherever he can find it, but he shouldn't be forced to play small-market ball in a big-market town. I'm a big fan of this exciting youth movement, but I don't think the Mets need to completely gut their product and refashion themselves in swaddling clothes. Developing talent and buying it obviously aren't mutually exclusive, and I'm optimistic because it appears my team is interested in using its resources and doing both.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Setting Us Up the Bomb

After a season more regrettable than Kyle admitting he is praying for tender groins, the Amazin's are in desperate need of a sign that the future will be brighter. Opening Day would be a nice place to start. It isn't any more important, logically speaking, than the other 161 games, yet we all know that it gets extra, deserved coverage for ushering in the return of our favorite sport. In fact, because it marks the beginning of the season, the only way an Opening Day can be even remotely bad is if we lose in such a way that all the optimism of a new season is sucked out of our brains. It takes a terrible loss to turn a diehard Mets fan into a faithless waffler, or Red Sox fan, whose expectations for his team embark on a roller coaster ride after every game, and generally trend downward into painful-to-hear blather about curses and fate.

Last year, as you know, we endured such a disastrous opening move. Tom Glavine did not last four innings against the Cubs in the season's inaugural contest. He was not a good pitcher last year. If that seems to you an understated description of his performance, rest assured that it is the only one I can verbalize with reasonable economy of profanity laced with exclamation points and question marks.

By comparison, Al Leiter was good, Steve Trachsel was phenomenal, and Jae Seo showed promise. Leiter is one of my favorite players. I still keep a yellowing copy of the Times sports page after Opening Day in 2002, when Leiter beat the piss out of the Pirates ("Leiter Looks Like the Ace the Mets Need") and Roger Clemens gave up eight runs and got hit in the hand with a bouncer up the middle in a 10-3 Yankees loss ("Clemens Gives Up Big Hit After Being Hit"). I keep it mostly for the panoramic shot of the Pirates and Mets standing shoulder to shoulder down the foul line at Shea, with the freshly painted 40th anniversary banner dominating the foreground. Another reason I still have it is that directly below that beautiful photo are the Yanks and Mets recaps. For a day, we were not the embarrassment - they were.

I don't know what the Times sports page looked like the day after last season's Opening Day. What I do know is that even if it is impossible to beat the Yankees so directly (they open in Japan, perhaps in the shadow of Mt. Gonzaga), all I really want to see is a game that's better than Glavine's meltdown. A real ball game. I don't really mind that management feels compelled to drop Tom the Bomb on the hill because they're overpaying him so much. It's silly, especially when Leiter or Trachsel really deserve the appointment, but I can understand it. What I don't condone is setting us and Glavine up for a miserable bout of deja vu, as he goes against the one team that is certain to knock him around.

Yes, the Braves lost a lot of hitters. I'm not sure that matters:

Glavine, who is 48-24 with a 3.27 ERA in 104 career games at Turner Field, says he is past the mind games that plagued his starts against the Braves last season, adding that he wants to "jump right in and get it over with."
Getting it over with? That's what our Opening Day starter is most concerned with? At least the mind games ("I'm a Met! No, I'm a Brave! Met! Brave! Oh, hell, I've made a horrible mistake, I'll throw this right over the plate and let Chipper decide!") aren't troubling doughty Tom any longer.

Now, it's possible I'm being too hard on him. After all, if Andruw Jones thinks he'll be better this year, he probably will be (Scoop: The Shea Hot Corner):

Count Atlanta Gold Glove winner Andruw Jones among those who believe Tom Glavine will benefit from Mike Cameron's presence in center field. "He got used to having center fielders like Otis Nixon and Marquis Grissom," Jones said from Braves camp in Kissimmee about his former teammate. "Then he went to a team that had like five different center fielders. That's not comfortable. ... If you have a good defense behind him, he's going to win games."
Who better to listen to than my favorite player in the major leagues?

I'm making too much out of this, I know I am. Glavine will pitch like the league average starter he's become, we'll win or we won't, and that will be that. It won't be anything like last year's debacle. It only seems like we're shaping up for a rerun, but as Yogi Berra once said, "Nothing is like it seems, but everything is exactly like it is."

(Ok, that feeling you just got, after reading something Yogi Berra said? That mental groan? Translates my present feelings to a big fat washed-up T.)

It Begins!

Accuse me of poor sportsmanship if you want, but this little news nugget made my day. It's the very start of what I can only pray will be a nuclear chain reaction of torn labrums, tweaked hammys, and tender groins which will bring the much hated Yankees to their knees. I don't want to go too far in this gleeful rant, so I'll end it now before I say something like "Deals that were consumated by Steinbrenner giving Satan a reacharound can sometimes have unexpected outcomes".

The sky is f#$@ing falling

Thank GOD we have ESPN to inform us of such earth shatteringly important news bits such as the Cub's newest desperate measures to sell tickets or that Terry Francona has a stressful job with a lot of expectations.

Checking in with Boston's loveable duo of destruction, Pedro and Nomar have both made their feelings completely clear. Let's check in with Pedro first, because frankly he talks about the Zimmer incident and that's always high comedy

"I don't need to call him, and he doesn't need to call me. I was trying to protect the guy. I was totally aware I didn't want to hurt him. ... But I had to let him go because he tried to hurt me. I don't feel I did anything wrong."

Thanks for clearing that up, Peds. See, I had thought you'd decided to flatten the old man because it was either that or run away from him flapping your hands like a girl.

What'd Pedro have to say about Manny and Nomar getting traded? Let's use the magic of the internet to find out!

"I know there's been a lot of talk regarding Nomar and Manny," Martinez said. "But Manny's in La La Land. I haven't talked to Manny in a month, month and a half. So I don't expect Manny to talk. Manny never talks. He doesn't even know where he's standing. But one thing he does know is how to hit, and how to play the game.

"And Nomar is very professional. He understands the business part of it. I'd be upset as well if I wasn't told that I was going to be in trade talks, because a player like Nomar deserves to know he's at least going to be talked about. But Nomar is not a person who's going to snap because of that."

Glad to see Pedro's not taking ill-conceived shots at management or players before spring training has really started. I was worried for a second there!

Maybe Nomar's being a little more even keeled

(About not finishing his career with the Sox)

"I'd definitely be hurt. I'd definitely be disappointed. ... But basically, I've dealt with that already. As far as I'm concerned, it was a done deal. I was shipped off to another team. So I don't know what the future holds."

"I probably feel how anyone would feel after playing his whole career in one organization and having to find out he was traded, or pretty much gone, over the television," Garciaparra said, bluntly. "How would you feel?"

Oh geez. I've heard nothing but good things regarding Nomar's professionalism. I don't think he's going to throw the season in a Glavine-esque "I SO don't want to be here" fashion, but unless Nomar cools off or management throws a bloated contract offer at him to appease to rabid Sox fan base, I can't possibly see how there's ANY chance he'll be here next year.

Further increasing my already burgeoning love of Curt Schilling, he weighed in Barry Bond's ridiculous claims that home runs are down because the baseballs are "softer". I saw the clip on ESPN, but I honestly don't remember what he said. Something like "bologna". He also once said Bonds is the biggest asshole in all of baseball. I hate Barry Bonds nearly as much I hate hearing Mariano Rivera going "Popcorn! Popcorn! Nice and HOT" and trust me, I hated that commercial. In hindsight, this paragraph was a bad idea.

SOSH, those wacky party animals, recently had a thread wondering there should be a large dropoff in the offense next year. The argument is

Many sports commentators, as well as many of the members of this board, have said that several members of the Red Sox had “career years” last year, and there appears to be serious concern that the 2004 Red Sox can’t approach last year’s record offensive numbers. Mueller, Ortiz, Nixon, Millar, and Varitek have all been mentioned as career year candidates.

Let's get the guys I'm not worried about out of the way.

First Millar

Career Numbers (per 162 games played): .290/.362/.495 21 HR 87 RBI
2003 Numbers: .276/.348/.472 25 HR 86 RBI

We've got an increase in homers, but that's just because he has 100 more at-bats than any other season in his career (plate appearances before a homer is actually up). The rest of his numbers are DOWN, genius Boston writers. He's a good bet for a better season than last year.

How about Trot-Rod!

Career Numbers (per 162 games played): .277/.366/.496 25 HR 90 RBI
2003 Numbers: .306/.396/.578 27 HR 87 RBI

His numbers are slightly up, but his past three years together roughly equal those stats (great 2001, slightly down in 2002, great 2003). He's 29 and cut down on his strikeouts all three of those years. He'll be fine next year.

Okay, now to the guys that worry me a bit more

Jason Varitek? Maybe....

Career Numbers (per 162 blah blah): .265/.338/.444 18 HR 80 RBI
2003 Numbers: .273/.351/.512 25 HR 85 RBI

Okay, those are up, but not stratospherically up. His career numbers are still more than above average for a catcher, he's all set with just those.

How about Mo Vaughn understudy and ridiculously bad dresser David Ortiz

Career Numbers: .271/.353/.491 25 HR 94 RBI
2003 Numbers: .288/.369/.592 31 HR 101 RBI

Fatso got NO playing time until 2003, but extend his previous stats over a whole season and suddenly those numbers look familiar, huh? His slugging% is up, but that's all. He's only 28, doesn't strike out way too much, etc. He's going to be fine. I think.

Bill Mueller?


Fantasy baseball 2004 is gearing up as well, and while it has little to do with the Red Sox or Mets, I'm the one with administrator privileges writing this blog, so screw you guys, I'm gonna write about it. I have the second overall pick in the draft, which leaves me in a quandry. Rumor has it Pujols is gonna go first. Now, the common logic is to grab A-Rod first, and if he's still there after the first pick it's a no brainer. However, last year I had Giambi on my team and it was unadulterated agony every single time I saw him play. Have you ever tried cheering for a player like this?

"Hit a home run and dislocate your knee rounding third! Get hit by a pitch and crawl to home plate after Williams hits a homer! And die at the plate! Hit 5 homers in a 10-8 Yankees loss!"

It just doesn't work. Plus, as near as I can tell, every single plate appearance for Giambi resulted in a walk, strikeout, or home run. The man hit no singles or doubles or foul balls pr flyouts or anything. What the hell was up with that?

So now what do I do? Who do you grab next? Soriano? Hate him, and he's not going to steal anywhere near as often hitting 3rd or 4th. Sox player? 2nd overall pick is way too early for any of them. Guerrero? Same stealing problem as Soriano, he's also got back concerns. Any suggestions, folks?

Going back over this post, it's truly amazing how small a fraction the content quality/length ratio of this post is. I'm going to stop now, I'm scared.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Amazing Reyes, How Sweet the Sound

Work for me is a Yankee-dominated environment, like most everywhere on earth, so when Mets news passes through the grapevine of orange-and-blue-bleeding diehards it does so barely above a whisper. To speak of the Mets at full volume is to encourage a bevy of snide remarks from enemies within earshot, or worse, a sympathetic pat on the shoulder. It has gotten to the point where we are able to communicate volumes by minutely changing the set of our scowl, and a finger drawn across the throat can variously mean "Glavine is starting today", "Piazza's groin!!!?!", or "Good morning, how is your wife?".

The news today was so horrible that all skulking was forgotten, and a compatriot blurted it from across the room, his expression putting me in mind of a kid on a corner hawking newspapers whose headlines announced that he was adopted.

"We're trading Reyes for Soriano! We're trading Reyes! Can you believe it?"

For a second, I could. Not a split second, either, but a full blown second during which my stomach dropped out and my gorge rose higher than the pitch count of a Marlins prospect. Then I realized I wasn't a Red Sox owner and should stop getting dramatic and throwing hissy fits every time I heard that something didn't go my team's way. I asked him where he'd gotten the scoop, praying for his source to be Gammons. When I heard it was radio, I wasn't sure what to think. I contemplated swearing vigorously. Then I realized I wasn't Kyle writing a blog post solely designed to attract new readers by making a Google search for "Heater Mitts Sucks [unprintable]" point to our site. I calmed down and took a listen of my own.

Just my luck: ESPN Radio was talking about Gonzaga, which I assumed to be like the tallest mountain in Japan or something, so I had to flip to my favorite New York duo since Roberto Alomar and Rey Ordonez skipped town.

The Mad Dog was arguing with Mets callers.

"Soriano hits .300, forty homers, forty steals, 110 RBI, 120 runs. You can't tell me Reyes is going to turn into that."

"Sure Soriano is twenty-eight years old. But Reyes could be older than twenty. You know all these Dominican players, when they make it big, lie about their ages."

One caller compared Reyes to a very young Jeter, which was enough to rouse Mike Francesa's face out his own ass long enough for him to rumble, "What? So now Reyes is Jeter? Come on! Give me a break!"

Thankfully a news update broke in at that point, announcing that Fred Wilpon and Jim Duquette had issued a statement completely denying the trade rumor. "No way Jose," Wilpon said, probably without smiling.

I read later in this article on the Mets' official site that he made a point of going out to speak to Reyes personally. I liked that. I liked Reyes’ response, indicating a desire to stay with the Mets for a long time, even more.

He's going to be great, he's very young, he's cheap, and we're not winning a game over eighty even if we're lucky this season.

Even so, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to score a couple of seats in which several co-workers and I can watch the most promising ballplayer in New York and name him as such without fear of termination.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Back in action

Well folks, as was previously threatened, I'm back! Having seen the extent to which the blog is completely falling apart without me, I've decided to ignore my doctor's strict instructions of "No running, work, or ESPECIALLY blogging" and write, write, write! I think he put in that last one because writing a blog is fast becoming known as "The Online Widow-Maker", but what people who call it that are forgetting is that people who write blogs were almost certainly never married in the first place.

Big thanks to the bloggers who wrote me an e-mail wishing me a speedy recovery, and to answer your exceptionally witty questions, Yankees fans, no A-Rod didn't put me in the hospital, and yes I stole a large vial of sodium pentathol for use just in case the Yankees go 8 or more games ahead of us in the standings. Satisfied?

Thank goodness there's been some actual news whilst I was out. First and foremost, big ups to Johnny Boy Henry for doing his best to turn the Sox-Yanks rivalry into some kind of weird holy war. His first comments after A-Rod went to Texas:
"One thing is certain the status quo will not be preserved," Henry wrote.

"There must be a way to cap what a team can spend without hurting player compensation ... without taking away from the players what they have rightfully earned in the past through negotiation and in creating tremendous value. There is a simple mechanism that could right a system woefully out of whack."

"Baseball doesn't have an answer for the Yankees," Henry said. "Revenue sharing can only accomplish so much. At some point it becomes confiscation. It has not and it will not solve what is a very obvious problem."

Translation: "Hey I don't want to piss off the Player's Association, so I'll throw in some garbage about how they really earn that 10 million a year to be a backup catcher, but has anyone else noticed that the Yankees spend more than any other two clubs in the AL East combined? Can that really be fair? Sure they haven't won the World Series in awhile, but they sure as hell give themselves a better chance to every year than any other team can, it's not my fault that they're not able to capitalize. And seriously, don't you think I'm wealthy enough that I shouldn't have to cut my own hair?"

Georige Porgie's response:
"We understand that John Henry must be embarrassed, frustrated and disappointed by his failure in this transaction," Steinbrenner said in a statement Wednesday. "It is time to get on with life and forget the sour grapes."

"Unlike the Yankees, he chose not to go the extra distance for his fans in Boston.

"It is understandable, but wrong that he would try to deflect the accountability for his mistakes on to others and to a system for which he voted in favor," Steinbrenner said.

Translation: "Hey, sure, we spend 65 million a year more than our next closest competitor, but that's the way the system works, right? I mean, just because the system is flawed in a way that allows us to blatantly abuse it, and we choose to gleefully do so, does that make us bad people? It does? Damn. Well then, I'll just bash on Henry personally and claim that his anger isn't from some logical or justified problem he has with my hideous outspending of the rest of baseball, but rather him bitching and moaning. Hey, kind of like what I'm doing!"

At this point Bud himself stepped in and told the two of them to knock it off, which of course neither did. Steiney appeared on Letterman and read the Top 10 Reasons It's Great to be the Yankees, with reason number one being the incredibly humorous and not-at-all retarded comment that "If you think the A-Rod trade is good, we're going to sign Ty Cobb next ROTFL!!!!!1". Henry, on the other hand, went on in a recent interview to shatter any illusions I had about him being an even vaguely sane individual with quotes like
"I don't want to equate him with Don Rickles," the Red Sox owner said Saturday, "but if Don Rickles insults you, it's funny. But I don't mean that in a negative way."

Also, in a contract year, it's good to see Pedro is already up to his regular antics, deciding to report 3 days late for spring training camp. Surely this family emergency is indeed a serious one and totally neccesitates Pedro chilling out in his hometown for another 3 days. I'd be prepared to see lots of thinly veiled Pedro ranting on this site, folks. Or on possibly, apparently we're moving there one of these days. I don't know anymore, I just do whatever Mike tells me, and as long as the checks don't bounce I'll keep doing so. Oh yeah, that's right, I get paid for this stuff. Why else would I waste hours of my life every day updating it? Ugh, I feel sick again....

It would seem that the Sox's NL sister team, the Cubs, are suddenly becoming the favorites in the NL Central again. This is because they've signed Greg Maddux, aka "That Really Old Guy who kept his streak of 15 wins alive because his team won him about 12 8-6 games he started" I wholly agree with this move, it's certainly not like the Cubs desperately needed an upgrade somewhere else (LF, 2B, bullpen). 7.5 million a year for arguably your #5 starter? Not too much money at all! I mean, hey, the Sox are paying theirs 5.5 million, and it's not like I swore and broke a chair when I heard about them paying him that much.

All right, so I've avoided it long enough, let's check in on A-Rod and Soriano. First, it would appear that rather than move Soriano into LF to try to address his hideous defensive shortcomings, the Rangers may very well have inhaled enough glue to kill their last remaining brain cell because apparently Hank Aaron Junior (Junior) is possibly moving to SS. Soriano's not really too keen on the idea, saying he's "more comfortable" (18 errors, same Range Factor {4.75} as Todd Walker comfortable) at second. Congrats Texas, if I wasn't actively rooting for every single one of you to burn in hell before this all happened, be assured that I am now.

Oh, and those wacky, loveable Yanks. A-Rod's first on the field practice was a smashing success. (Get it? Smashing? It's comedy, folks!) One of these days the Yankees front office is going to admit that Steve Karsay's shoulder is hamburger meat. I say they should start admitting their bullpen is going to resemble a M.A.S.H. tent by the time it's all over with someone easy like Karsay. Work up to saying stuff like "Carbon Dating has confirmed Jose Contreras is slightly older than we were led to believe" and "Tom Gordon's recent snappin in half at the waist has completely taken us by surprise!!" And finally, if you think Mike's A-Rod story titles are awful (I know I sure did), has anyone seen the ones they're using for Jon Leiber's ill-conceived attempt at pitching for the Yankees? "Leiber arms self for return" is bad, but at least I saw that one coming. "Leave it to Leiber" (On ESPN's Yankees team page, ESPN seems to be the worst offender for these hideous titles), on the other hand, made my tear ducts begin to bleed profusely.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

That Didn't Take Long

I called it, and I wish I had not. My prediction...and Anthony McCarron of the Daily News fulfilling it three whole days later.


What is that, you ask? That's a better headline, and one I just typed by mashing my fist against the keyboard.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Calling In Sick

Don't let the red title fool you; this is Mike, giving you an update on everyone's favorite Boston bullhorn Big K. Kyle hasn't been posting because he's got "pneumonia" and is in a "hospital" with "three IVs in him", not because he's already out camping for Green Monster tickets. If you'd like to send him a Get Better (seats) Soon message, click here.

Mets Programs, Get Your Programs Here

There's a great picture in this article of Jeff "G-Money" Wilpon in tan Mets vest and matching khakis pretending he knows how to throw a baseball. Whatever speculation I might offer as to whether he is a living, breathing human made of flesh and blood or in fact a robot commissioned by his "father" must be put aside for now, because it's what he said and not his origins that I'm concerned with today. In the article he and Duquette spout the usual party line which we're all familiar with by now, namely: "Pitching and defense is how we won in the past the Yankees are not our enemies we are a greatly improved ballclub just you wait and see" -- at which point some bright young reporter flipped the switch on Wilpon's neck from boring but logical to nonsensical blather, and he authorized his GM to say the following.

In previous years we came out publicly that our expectations were the playoffs and I think that's unrealistic. Meaningful games is much more realistic until we make a trade or two to get us over the hump.
Call me Grant Roberts, but meaningful games to me is another way of saying "games with bearing on a playoff run". What else could it possibly mean? If you're not shooting for the wild card, you might be playing "academically interesting games" -- Glavine tries to avoid his twentieth consecutive loss tonight -- or "hope-inspiring games" -- Victor Diaz has really come alive in right field this month -- but you can't tell me that what you're playing is meaningful baseball.

One slightly encouraging note is that his programmers managed to sneak in another statement indicative of ownership's willingness to spend money mid-season to improve the team.

We're anticipating that because we'll be playing meaningful games, we're going to be more active on the trade market. I don't feel that we're one player away from the World Series. Maybe we're a couple of players away.
To which Wilpon added:

zero one zero one one zero zero one error in function main
But at least it appears they've got his head screwed on tight.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Past Time for the Pastime

Spring looms, whatever some burrowing rodent might tell you. I can tell, but not because I wandered outside and saw flowers shooting out of the ground or birds singing or some other peripheral nonsense of nature. I can sense the change in seasons the same way they'll be looking for it in twenty years, when no one leaves their cubicles and windows have been so thoroughly replaced by Windows that watching a baseball game on TV will actually sound like a good idea. In 2024, the Grand High Meteorologist will fire up his computer and check the latest models, which won't be collecting data on temperature and cloud shapes like they do now, but measuring the freshness of baseball writers' ideas. "By Roker!" he'll cry, "The Regurgitation Index is climbing! Staleness is at a yearly high! Spring draws nigh!"

If that last paragraph wasn't evidence enough, I'm fast running out of original ideas. The good thing is, I'm not alone.

  • A Dominican Ballplayer Was Lying About His Age (link) - Oldest trick in the book, especially if it is a book about Dominican baseball-playing tricks. The link is to Eric Simon's take on Soriano's fib, which in turn is linked to the original Daily News article.

  • Ken Griffey, Jr. Thinks He Can Stay Healthy (link) - I'd really rather not comment on this, because I think it's a shame when injuries rob us of seeing great players perform. I'm rooting for his return. Still:

    Just before noon, Ken Griffey Jr., rolled into the complex parking lot driving a black Aston Martin complete with a license plate frame saying, "Bad Boys Drive Bad Toys".
    At least it was an anniversary present. I like Griffey. Someone else make the "exercise bike in physical therapy" joke.

  • The Yankees Spend Too Much Money, inevitably followed by a Steinbrenner rebuttal (link) - Yep, we've got that one, too. This one is pretty interesting. Red Sox owner Henry whines hypocritically about the Yankees spending more than everyone else because they got Rodriguez and he didn't. George's response is classic:

    We understand that John Henry must be embarrassed, frustrated and disappointed by his failure in this transaction," Steinbrenner said. "Unlike the Yankees, he chose not to go the extra distance for his fans in Boston. It is understandable, but wrong, that he would try to deflect the accountability for his mistakes on to others and to a system for which he voted in favor. It is time to get on with life and forget the sour grapes."
    Replace Henry's name and city with those of the next tight-fisted owner to gripe after being outbid and outclassed by the Yankees, and you've got yourself a carbon copy refutation that will be inducing winces for many offseasons to come. George is nuts, but his statements are always as fantastic as they are predictable.

  • The Braves Are the Best Team Ever (link) – Despite losing Maddux to the Cubs, the Braves are in perfect shape because unbeknownst to the rest of the game, Leo Mazzone has a private Biomechanical Laboratory of his own that can turn John Thomson into Cy Young at the press of a button. This is one cyclical story that I certainly hope has seen its last winter of relevance.

  • Oh, there are plenty more. I’m still waiting on the Met Who Embarrassed Himself and His Team, along with the Mets Pitching Prospect Who Looked Great But Mysteriously Faltered Against Major League Hitters. There’s also the tried and true Spring Training Cliché Roundup, but you’re probably familiar with that tired tale.

    Tuesday, February 17, 2004


    I am now officially boycotting the use of his nickname in anticipation of the headlines this season that will be markedly worse than this post's title.

    My favorite moment of the Yankees press conference introducing Rodriguez actually happened before the formal presentation. During the warmup, YES Network darlings and baseball's cutest couple Michael Kay and Suzyn Waldman had the following exchange regarding the position controversy:

    Kay: What people forget, Suzyn, is Derek Jeter is a darn good shortstop. They're not gonna move him off shortstop for anybody.

    Waldman: Here's the interesting thing, when did Derek Jeter become not a good shortstop? When did this happen? Where were we?

    Someone send Suzyn an e-mail posthaste pointing to Avkash's Amazing Amalgamation of the best defensive metrics out there into one easy to swallow number. But expect a reply like "Here's the interesting thing, when did snail mail become not an efficient method of information transfer? When did this happen? Where was I?"

    Knowledge is No Excuse

    Not to expose my lapsed membership in the church of cool or nothing, but I have to say I'm completely thrown by the holier-than-thou sentiment foaming from the usually mild-mannered Mets blogosphere in the wake of the A-Rod deal.

    Steve Keane, whose wit is usually as sharp as his name suggests, got my attention with a vitriolic tirade against Met fans who are seriously pissed off by the Yankees' latest acquisition.

    Please if your the type of so-called Mets fan that is stamping your feet over A-Rod going to the Evil Empire and your rehashing the Rodriguez to the Mets and your getting your boxers in a bunch and crying "I'm not going any games at Shea WAHHHH!!!!, WAHHHHH! WAHHHHH!, then go buy a little Highlanders cap and a pennant and NEVER COME TO THIS SITE AGAIN!
    Avkash Patel got his back, here.

    They seem to be saying that Met fans should be happy with the direction the team is going in, and shouldn't waste time comparing our team with the Yankees because our front office is smartly no longer working to compete with them, among other reasons.

    They're right, and every Met fan who cycles daily through the diverse and talented pool of bloggers online will find many reasons to believe that this offseason has been a success or at least a step in the right direction. However, Vinny from YMATR (proncounced "why matter?" by existential blog enthusiasts in the know) does a fine job of showing exactly why the "average" Met fan is steamed over the trade. Look at the newspapers and the local news and the Mike and the Mad Dog show, and you'll see a host of people who just can't wait to bash the Mets by comparing them unfavorably to the Yankees. Here's an example, straight from the Mike and the Mad Dog radio program (which I did not listen to):

    Mike: What a wonderful trade for the Yankees. Wonderful! I was giving Bill Parcells a rubdown the other day, and I said, "Billy, use your genius for me." I said, "Billy, how can the Yankees possibly get any better?" He looked over his shoulder at me and smiled and said, "Michael, you are my good close friend, in case any of your listeners are wondering. What I would do is, I would trade for Alex Rodriguez." And he was right! And here I am talking about it!

    Mad Dog: I couldn’t agree more, Mike. Could not agree more. I agree more.

    Mike: And let's take a look at the flipside of this thing. This is without doubt a huge blow to the Mets organization.

    Mad Dog: I agree, it really sticks it to 'em.

    Mike: They had their shot. You can't dispute that. They had their shot to land A-rod. Just the other day when I was golfing, Steve Phillips was carrying my clubs, and I said to him, I said, "Steve-oh, buddy, what was with all that '24+1' nonsense back in 2000?" And he looks at me, and he gives me that winsome smile of his, and he says, "24 + 1, Mike? Why, that's just the IQ of the average Met fan." He said that to me, and here I am talking about it!

    Mad Dog: I am now going to laugh like an asthmatic goose giving birth. Done. Well, it’s obvious. Met fans should be pissed. Steinbrenner made your team second class citizens in this city once again. If you’re not pissed, it’s time to get pissed, because we need callers. Get angry! Call in!

    It’s a story angle, that’s all. Newspaper guys are running with it. Radio shows are running with it. About the only people who are being sane about it are the individual fans whose writing I read online. Now, who do you think the “average” Met fan gets his information from? He’s not reading this blog. He’s not reading your blog (although since you probably get more than two hits a day, I can’t be certain). More than likely he reads the News, or the Post, watches Warner Wolf or Len Berman, and is convinced that Derek Jeter is a pretty good defensive shortstop, pissed that Guerrero didn’t sign, and still pissed that we couldn’t grab A-Rod a handful of years ago.

    I'm not saying that the "average" Met fan can't come up with his own opinions, just that the quantity of information available to him isn't the same as the vast pool of writing and metrics that we obsessed fans regularly dip into. Another thing to keep in mind is that these news sources are going to interview, publish, and report on the opinions of Met fans that coincide with their angles. You're not going to see something like:

    Met's Fandom Reacts to A-Rod Trade
    by Jim Hack

    I put my ear to the pavement in Queens today to gauge the response of Met fans. But all I heard was that the Yankees aren't in the NL East so they shouldn't be worried, and most people just shrugged their shoulders. That's not very interesting, is it? And then this guy Avkash threatened to "break me" if I kept trying to get him to say something bad about the Mets. So, as far as I can tell, no one cares. But Avkash breaking me is a pretty good angle, so I might go bother him some more for tomorrow's column.
    In other words, if there are more moderate Met fans out there, you're probably not going to hear from them unless you know them personally.

    So ease up on the fans who are pissed about this. Just about every one I've spoken to in person hates it and is soured on the Mets a little more because of it. I don't like the trade much, either, mostly because I'm viewing it within the unavoidable context of the Mets failing to snag him in 2000. It's all well and good to try to divorce history from the present and say that we shouldn't pay any more attention to what goes down in the Bronx because we're no longer trying to compete with their big spending model of team construction. That's a nice intellectual stance, but it doesn't hold up very well when I'm on the phone with my Yanks fan friends, when I'd rather talk shit than shovel it -- and I know they can tell the difference.

    Even if they are, when it comes down to it, average fans.

    Sunday, February 15, 2004

    Oh God No

    Well even though it gave Mike yet another chance to write two posts in a row and further solidfy his standing as "Only East Coast Agony Blogger Anyone Reads", I think it was for the best that I waited to write this post until the swelling in my brain from rapping my head against the desk like an overripe mango subsided. A post written last night would have looked like this


    Sure it's all capitalized and saucy, but there's nothing really useful there, other than yet more published evidence that I probably have a chemical imbalance in my brain somewhere.

    First off, let's take a worst case scenario look at this deal (the type of scenario Sox fans are most used to) and assume that the player to be named is some broken down AAA veteran or a really nice graphing calculator. The Yankees have gone up in offense and stablized defense on the left side of the infield. (This is compared to the team that went to the world series last year. Obviously A-Rod is a huge upgrade over the Wilson/Lamb/Large pile of sticks option at the hot corner) They lose Soriano at 2nd and I don't see who they're going to find to replace his bat, if not his defense. And while the Yankees can probably claim an offensive edge over us, and almost certainly a defensive edge, I'm still not convinced that they match up to us pitching wise, especially not if some of their guys get injured (and with Leiber, Gordon, Brown, Contreras, etc...they will).

    And let's not forget that there's quite a bit of speculation that Mr. Player to be Named Later might be Contreras himself. If that's the case, then I will celebrate this trade and offer up a sacrifice of dead batteries and pizza boxes to the baseball gods themselves, because the Yankees rotation suddenly looks thinner than my little black book if you tear out all the blank pages.

    AND there's a new monkey wrench (What exactly IS a monkey wrench anyways? Why would one of those thrown into a system cause more damage than, say, a socket wrench or a crescent wrench? You have to think about it, because that's SMART comedy lol) thrown into the already wrench-infested machinery of the Yankees Juggernaut. Those wrenches are called things like Chemistry, Team Unity, Clubhouse Unity, and Grippy the Super Wrench (not all wrenches are bad, don't fall into that trap). Sheffield, Lofton, and Brown are not considered real great team players. In fact, you might compare them to the one wrench in the toolbox that keep banging into the other wrenches and chips and breaks them and... actually, I need to end this paragraph immediately.

    So in summation, if the Yankees lose Contreras too, then I think this trade HURTS them in the short run. If they keep him (I think they will) then instead of the Sox being favored to win the division, it should be considered a pretty even matchup. Also I am a hideous writer who somehow managed to break off onto a wrench-related tangent 3 seperate times (4 now).

    The worst part of this is that the Sox can no longer claim bragging rights over the Yanks this offseason. That was the best thing, for ONCE everything was going right for the Sox and the Yankees were falling apart at the seams faster than a grill that was put together with a cheap pair of vice grips instead of a quality Craftsman speed wrench. (5) Wells was lost due to Karmic influences, Schilling was acquired for 3 vaguely talented AAAA players we probably would have waived in a few months anyways, Boone's ACL snapped like a rusted bolt being turned by a 3/4 inch socket wrench with a cheater bar on it (help me), and Hideki Matsui got deported for beating up a group of locals who mistook him for Jackie Chan "for the last time". (That last one hasn't happened yet, but I remain confident that it will in good time, and desperate for material to end this post with)

    And there's not much else in my tired, cobwebby brain to write down about this. A-Rod does not turn the Yankees into an unstoppable steamroller. They're still assholes though.

    Captain Crooked

    It's agony all around with A-rod's apparent trade to New York. Texas was betrayed. The Sox were outplayed, though I'll leave it to Kyle to speak on that score if he hasn't literally exploded as I fear. The Mets missed out on A-rod in 2000, and on Vlad this year, so this latest development can be viewed as but another act in the larger play that is our recent inability to sign the best young players in the game when they're available. Just imagine what the yearly Subway Series would have been like with Rodriguez and Guerrero headlining.

    The drama of Aaron Boone hobbles on piteously, as well. Conjure his frustration as he waits for swelling to subside or a rash to desist, then finds that his foolishness has not only written him out of the picture but was instrumental in paving the way for a replacement he simply cannot match. "Doc," he's thinking, "Forget about the ACL. It's my nervous system that hurts."

    I bid a bemused adieu to Alfonso Soriano, should've-been World Series hero, robbed of his rightful ring by beloved Mariano. Some will remember him more for his breeze production than run production, and that is a shame. Maybe Texas will trade him to Los Angeles for pitching. Maybe DePodesta will keep him around -- realizing that while OBP is crucial, a little slugging never hurt anyone -- for the renaissance the Dodgers will undoubtedly experience. I can hope, can't I? He doesn't deserve to be buried in (The Ballpark in)Arlington, casualty of the Boss' crusade to make this season the most disgusting, melo--

    dramatic, and wonderful clash of (true, now) rivals ever in the history of baseball. Part of me is mildly annoyed at the sheer profligacy involved, but the larger part, the pure baseball fan in me, is overjoyed at the prospect of seeing the best player in baseball on a regular basis and even in person.

    I was skeptical at first, but now that my favorite gangster-turned-baseball-writer is on the story, I have no doubts. You lie to the Underworld at peril of your life. Also encouraging is that Peter Gammons hasn't weighed in yet. Why is that encouraging? Here's a little tip for the unwary, courtesy Merriam-Webster:

    Main Entry: 5gammon
    Function: noun
    Etymology: obsolete gammon (talk)
    : talk intended to deceive
    And as a side note, in the Daily News today, accompanying this article is a graphic charting the relative defensive merits of Jeter and A-rod. They throw in what you’d expect (Gold Gloves, fielding percentage, total chances, errors) and a few things I didn’t (range factor, zone rating). I don’t think it’s available online. It’s not UZR, but at least they show that Jeter is inferior in every single one of the above. Hopefully that will wake a little agony in the hearts of bliss-blind Yankees fans on this happiest of happy days. I’m not holding my breath, though.

    Saturday, February 14, 2004

    The Woe Patrol: Weekend Roundup

    Hot on the heels of my meekly disseminated NL East Preview comes this weekend's roundup, replete with baseball-related online oddities that you might have missed and will soon wish I had.

    How about a little West Coast Agony to start things off? Rey Ordonez, you’ll remember, recently signed a minor league deal with the Padres, rekindling a spark of anger I’d thought buried over his stellar hitting performance with the Devil Rays last season. In 117 ABs, our double play ball and bird flippin’ friend did this:

    .316 BA .328 OBP .487 SLG

    As a Met, in 2937 ABs, he turned in this performance:

    .245 BA .290 OBP .304 SLG

    He went from "horrible, even for a shortstop" to "good, especially for a shortstop" and while I'm aware that 117 ABs aren't statistically significant, I consider them emotionally significant as the anger they engender would be justified if he had hit that well in even ten ABs. Rey Ordonez as a good hitter crumbles my walls of baseball logic like the Kool-Aid Man, whose decanted humors Padres management has certainly been imbibing if they think he can keep it up. This article seems to suggest someone does:

    The bigger task for Ordoñez will be to prove he's not only a superior defensive player but that he can handle the bat. The eight-year big league veteran needs to show his offense is closer to the .316 he was hitting with Tampa Bay last season before his knee injury than the .188 he logged with the Mets in 2000 that caused him to lose his job.
    Oh, I see. It was his performance in 2000 that told us he can't hit.

    While searching for evidence of Rey's futility at Baseball Reference (a useful and especially fast source), I checked on a few of our current Mets to see if their pages were sponsored. Instead of spamming its readers with pop-up ads for products I just don't understand, Baseball Reference supports itself on colorful sponsorships of player pages. For instance, I could hand them fifteen dollars and for a year whenever sorry souls looked for Rey Ordonez' statistics, they'd find a little message from me at the top. Perhaps a link to this site, with the disclaimer: "not the title of his biography"; you get the idea.

    Sure enough, plenty of our lovable Amazin's were sponsored. The following are worth a look:

    Roger Cedeno : heartwarming; hysterical.
    Tom Glavine : it's not BALCO, but it is pretty weird.
    Jae Weong Seo : no pressure, kid.
    Jose Reyes : the Mastaitis family tells it like it is.

    Mike Piazza is still up for grabs, bloggers! He only costs an amazing seventy bucks for the year. (Prentice Redman, however, is a steal at five.) I tried to check the price on Steve Trachsel's page, but it was just sponsored by a pizza place. I wouldn't call them though; I hear they take forever to deliver.

    Ba dum ching! I'll be blogging all week. And I'm so sorry.

    One final bit of nonsense. This page has a list of Florida Marlins promotional giveaways, and tucked away among the championship tee-shirts and star posters you might expect are these gems:

  • Dontrelle Willis "D-Train" Conductor Hat

  • Jack McKeon "Jack in the Box" presented by Tenet Florida Inc.

  • [Marlins Broadcasters] Felo Ramirez and Dave Van Horne Talking Bottle Opener

  • Mike Lowell Russian Nesting Doll presented by Miccosukee Resort & Gaming

  • Who wants to be the father bringing his son to his first game on Mike Lowell Russian Nesting Doll night?

    "What is it, Daddy?"
    "Um. Well. It's a doll. You open it, and, uh, there's another smaller doll inside."
    "Why, Daddy?"
    "I...I don't know. You just hold onto it while Daddy opens up a beer with this handy bottle opener the usher gave--"
    "It's talking, Daddy! I'm scared!"
    "Don't worry, bud, I'll make it stop."
    "There we go, son, all over. See? Nothing to be--"
    "That's it, forget the whole thing. We're leaving. Bring the doll with you, son; your sister might like it."

    And we wonder (or ESPN thinks we do) why baseball isn't the national pastime anymore.

    That's it for now. If you're still bored, please direct your attention to the blogs on the right. They're nothing like us, I swear.

    Thursday, February 12, 2004

    Generic Blog Posting #22

    Well well well, ol' Baldy has come out into the open long enough to talk baseball (that's a phrase we baseball folks use) and let the cat out of the bag (which is a term we cat-baggers use) about some aspects of the team. What've ya got for us, Terry?

    Francona: I've talked to [assistant trainer] Chris Correnti, who has been monitoring Ramiro (Mendoza) in Fort Myers, and Chris said he's doing outstanding. Of course throwing the ball in January, February and March is a little different than April, May and June, but it's a good start. This kid was a valuable commodity with the Yankees. We'll give him every opportunity to bounce back and hopefully he'll be the pitcher he was. When he's throwing good, he can pitch the ninth one day and the first the next. Sure, he had a rough year. That happens in this game. That doesn't mean you write somebody off.

    Wow, what a great idea! Have Mendoza work as often as possible, sometimes even in the 9th inning! I mean, the man DOES have 16 saves, let's just ignore the 16 blown saves he also has under his belt. And sure he's 31, has a career ERA of 4.2, and withers away and dies in pressure situations faster than my ability to speak around girls, but sure, why the hell not. Go nuts with 'im, Terry!

    It's been suggested that I'm a little too hard on poor Francona. I'll admit that, I should probably wait until he's truly earned it to start venomously lashing out at him like this. Lord knows it'll happen soon enough.

    Because I can't resist taking shots at the Yankees, I'd like to call to your attention their latest signing, namely the 1 year, 2 mil contract they're offering to Devil Rays castoff Travis Lee. 2 million bucks for a backup 1B is so patently Yankees that it makes me feel all warm inside. He has to be a backup, every game he plays is a game where

    Giambi sits out
    Williams sits out
    Lofton sits out, Williams plays center field, slowly hobbles towards a fly ball, gaspingly heaves the ball as hard as he can in a random direction, Derek Jeter catches the ball while 15 steps in the outfield.
    Kyle laughs heartily

    I guess this deal more than likely means Tony "The Large Striped Cat" Clark (Note: No one calls him that) and his 750,000 dollar deal are just going to be filed under "Roster Moves Steinbrenner drunkenly screams from his office which are swept under the rugs as quickly as humanly possible". I've given up trying to figure out just what the hell the Yankees are trying to accomplish at this point. Their actions are at best irrational and pointless, and at worst self destructive, like Mike keeping a condom in his wallet.

    Speaking of barking mad roster moves, one of my HEROES from yesteryear has apparently found himself not only a major league job, but one with a contending team.

    JOSE OFFERMAN? Granted, I loved the guy, but that's only because he became clinically insane sometime in 2002. Remember that, he got released and didn't know about it until a reporter asked him for his feelings on it? His reply (actual quote) "You're full of shit. What? No. You fucking treat me with respect. You treat me like a fucking player!" and then he left the room crying. Can't make stuff like that up.

    Anyways, Jose Offerman managed a muscular .232 batting average in the last year a big league club was stupid enough to pay him money to do anything (2002). He stole 5 bases. And now the Twins are going to pay him 500,000 DOLLARS (not Lira or Yen, I checked) if he makes the big league club, which he almost certainly will. That's about 499,940 dollars too much to pay Offerman for anything he is capable of doing, baseball related or not.

    Since I'm getting REALLY bored of waiting for there to be some news about the Sox, I've decided to predict the top three stories that will pop up when Spring Training starts

    Pedro Martinez shows up 3 days late, 30 pounds overweight, and with bolts sticking out of his right shoulder

    This one actually won't be too surprising. Pedro always shows up late, and I know we always send him back to his wonderful war-zone of a country telling him to bulk up some, so why does it always go to his freaking chin? If he wants a contract of more than 3 years or 14 million per year, I think it's time to let him go. He's not clutch anymore, he's a bad clubhouse presence, and that shoulder has got to give out on him someday. Torn rotator cuffs don't just go away. (See: Martinez, Ramon)

    Nomar shows up with strained neck from sleeping the previous night in the garage after he is caught voting for Heather Mitts as the hottest female athlete ever.

    All right Red Sox fans who read this site (both of you), listen up. I love Nomar. LOVE him. I was at Fenway his second game back from the wrist thing in 2001 and I saw Scott Shields throw at his head and I jumped to my feet and literally screamed at the tops of my lungs "KILL HIM!!!!! KILL SCOTT SHIELDS NOW!!!!". Having said that, the man just isn't the same anymore. He can barely hit .300 and doesn't knock in runs anymore. He'll have his incredible 5/5 days, but it's always in situations like a game against Detroit when we already have a 5 run lead. The following 2004 "clutch hitting" stats for Nomar aren't pretty, but then again neither is he (He's not, ladies. The man perpetually looks like he recently lost in a barfight. Badly)

    Avg with men on: .289
    Avg with runners in scoring position: .279
    Avg with bases loaded: .200
    Avg with men on, 2 out: .212
    Avg with men in scoring position, 2 out: .228
    Avg with man on third, less than 2 out, Kyle in the fetal position sobbing and praying: .000, 1 billion outfield popups.

    4 years, 60 million was too much, and he already turned that one down. I hate to say it, but Nomar's probably going to be gone after 2004, and it'll probably be best for the team that he is.

    Manny Ramirez arrives at camp wearing some sort of anime-style Hentai tentacle demon costume, demanding to be allowed to bring his pet chinchilla into the dugout

    Nothing Manny does can phase me anymore. I've given up trying to figure him out. The phrase "Manny is just being Manny" could be used while he sitting in the dugout, slowly and methodically chiseling his teeth out with a screwdriver while the Sox are in the field, and I'd accept it.

    Collective world conciousness stirs, looks up, blinks, exclaims "Hey, wait a second... Alan Embree sucks!"

    I can accept a lot of things. I can accept that a bleacher seat this year is going to cost me 23 goddamn dollars. I can accept that some people honestly think Pokey Reese is going to put more than 30 balls into play this season. I can accept that one of the most popular Red Sox blogs in existence has a poorly constructed, rambling post about dog shows and titties for their current top story and is still one of the most popular Red Sox blogs in existance. But I refuse to accept that we are going into spring training with Alan Embree being our top lefty specialist AGAIN. Theo, buddy, I know you love these new age stats, but GODDAMMIT HE'S ALAN EMBREE. LEFTIES HIT HIM OVER 40 POINTS HIGHER THAN RIGHTIES!!!! (.261/.221). I hate Alan Embree, he's touted as being a left hander who throws 98 MPH for strikes who is deadly in the later innings, when in actuality he's a left hander who throws 94 on a GOOD night and those "strikes" usually end up being deposited in the right field bleachers because his fastball is straighter than a laser beam and he doesn't have a single other pitch to throw. Get RID of him.

    NL East Preview, Part 3

    I wanted to open the closing chapter of this optimistic and not horribly scientific preview with a look at the recent goings on at the Biomechanical Science Laboratory. Imagine my surprise when I caught the AP encroaching on my territory:

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - The New York Mets got a taste of new pitching coach Rick Peterson on Tuesday, complete with black Spandex, shimmering silver balls and high-speed photography.
    That’s incredibly lame, yes, but accordingly still very much within my purview. The good news is that they didn’t also steal my line linking sockets with Sprockets. The bad news, as you might have guessed, is that I just used it.

    What can you do when the straight man starts dropping punchlines? Stop joking around for a little while, I suppose, so that's what I did. As always, any legitimate questions I had about the Mets were answered within hours by our capable bloggers. Avkash at the raindrops provided this enlightening description of the evaluation process, while Damien of Shea Daily posted a picture of phenom Scott Kazmir looking as happy as a little girl in his Spandex testing uniform. After reading more about the process, it is with chagrin that I admit the apparent lack of insidious nanotech. It seems we may have really struck gold when we hired Peterson. I'm officially on the Biomechanical bandwagon, despite my lingering fears that the sensors fastened to Kazmir's shoulders in the above photograph bear a curious resemblance to the tracking ball inside my mouse. (My hope would be better fed by sophisticated technology whose workings lie beyond my grasp.)

    At any rate, it's nice to see that our young pitchers are in good hands, as we're going to need them. I've put it off as long as possible, but I'm resigned to finally offering you my look at how the Mets pitching staff ranks among the others in our division. (For my takes on the infield and outfield, see here and here.)

    Ace *

         1) FLA: Josh Beckett
         2) ATL: Russ Ortiz
         3) PHI: Kevin Millwood
         4) MON: Livan Hernandez
         5) NYM: Tom Michael Glavine

    * In Glavine’s case, this means "first starter to pitch", not "best pitcher in rotation".

    I will probably take a lot of heat for naming Beckett number one, if by heat you take my meaning to be the impassive silence of an empty inbox. Rest assured that I'm not elevating him on his inspiring performance in the World Series but on his inspiring performance throughout the regular season. His numbers were stellar, and while I realize he still has his baby fat on him, he was a phenom for a reason. I don't expect him to be the best pitcher in the majors, but I do expect him to live up to that billing.

    Ortiz is not a particularly interesting fellow, but he is a consistently good pitcher who deserves the mantle of staff ace. While he did not pitch very well against the Mets in 2003, he did manage to humiliate us anyhow by out-hitting our prospects. To wit:

    Russ Ortiz (a pitcher)            70 AB / .257 AVG / 2 HR / 10 RBI / .703 OPS
    Marco Scutaro (not a pitcher) 75 AB/ .213 AVG / 2 HR / 6 RBI / .680 OPS

    Millwood just signed a one year deal worth eleven million dollars (I'm typing it out because $11M does not quite convey what an enormous overpayment this is). By comparison, with the aid of Dugout Dollars, let's look at some of the other pitchers who have signed contracts this winter. Curt Schilling is making $12M next season. Roy Halladay will be making $6M in 2004, and signed a deal with an average annual value of $10.5M. To all of you who are laughing at Scott Boras because he claimed he had a $15M per year offer on the table for his client, think again; the only way to make an eleven million dollar settlement look reasonable is by comparing it to something completely insane. And that appears to be just what he did.

    Livan Hernandez is a mostly average yet completely insane pitcher who had a great season last year. Rob Neyer thinks that changing his arm angle was the secret to his success. Of course, after he discovered it, he perfected it against the Amazins:

    Previously when Hernandez pitched, his different pitches looked different before he threw them. "He was higher on his curveball than he was on his slider," [Expos pitching coach Randy] St. Claire says, "and he was lower on his two-seamer than on his four-seamer."

    In Hernandez's next start, at Shea Stadium on July 2, Hernandez threw every pitch from the same spot, low three-quarters, and he's remained in that spot in every game since.
    Glad we could be of service. Will he keep it up? I have no idea, but I'm skeptical.

    Skeptical does not begin to plumb the depths of my bitterness about having to root for Glavine. But I've spoken badly of Tom in the past and will continue to do so in the future, so for a change I thought I'd try to be optimistic in this regard. ESPN's outlook reminds us that he suffered through bone spurs, blisters, and a generally miserable supporting cast. It is possible that he will turn things around and post a decent season if healthy and backed by an improved defense and lineup. It is also possible that I will see Jim Duquette on a subway platform, and after picking up the wallet he dropped, fire it to him with such incredible velocity through the closing doors of the subway car that he will be compelled to offer me a spring training invite and a chance to replace Glavine in the rotation. However, I think the best that we can reasonably hope for is that he continues to confine his worst starts to those against our biggest rivals - his former team.

    2nd Starter

         1) PHI: Randy Wolf
         2) ATL: Mike Hampton
         3) FLA: Brad Penny
         4) NYM: Al Leiter
         5) MON: Tony Armas, Jr.

    Randy Wolf is going to be better than Kevin Millwood this year. He's a great young pitcher coming into his prime, and I plan to follow him closely. Don't be put off by his 4+ ERA in 2003; his homers and walks allowed were up a bit, and the Phillies' bullpen was miserable. Not a good combination. I expect him to at least return to his fabulous 2001-2 numbers, and probably better them.

    I should despise Mike Hampton. He was our ace, and he left us to go to Colorado. Now he pitches (successfully) for the hated Braves. Like Ortiz, he also humiliated our prospects:

    Mike Hampton (pitcher)          60 AB / .183 AVG / 2 HR / 8 RBI / .595 OPS
    Jorge Velandia (not a pitcher) 58 AB/ .190 AVG / 0 HR / 8 RBI / .580 OPS

    All the preconditions are there. Still, I can't find it in me to root against him. He was the laughingstock of baseball for long enough that I lost my ire. He should pitch pretty well again this year. Thankfully, it's downhill from here for the Braves.

    I'm not too high on Brad Penny, but I think he's got a pretty good chance of fulfilling his promise this year. The pressure's off, as Florida has an ace in Beckett to carry the team, they've already won the big one, Dontrelle Willis has the spotlight, so all that's left is for Penny to come into his own. I think he might. Leiter is my favorite player on the Mets and will have my vote in 2004 or whenever he decides to run for office. I was dismayed by his early struggles last year, and invigorated by his success down the stretch. He's got another good season left in the tank, but even if he doesn't it'll take a scandal of monumental proportions to earn my derision. Armas got off to a great start, then got injured and had to pull a Derek Bell-esque Operation: Shutdown. The Expos saw a lot of that sort of thing last season, and if their guys remain healthy and their success wasn't fluky, they could be better than most people think.

    3rd Starter

         1) PHI: Vicente Padilla
         2) MON: Zach Day
         3) NYM: Steve Trachsel
         4) FLA: Carl Pavano
         5) ATL: Horacio Ramirez

    Vicente Padilla is going to be better than Kevin Millwood this year. Or at the very least, a better value: he just signed a one year deal worth $2.6M. He’s also coming into his prime (you’ve got to hate the Phillies’ staff) and is a pretty damn fine pitcher. Zach Day is another of those promising Expos starters who got injured last season and couldn’t recover. In his case, he ran into Wil Cordero and busted up his shoulder:

    In his first eight starts last year, the 25-year-old was 4-1 with a 2.77 ERA. Thereafter, he went 5-7 with a 5.13 ERA.

    But all season, no one hit him harder than Wil Cordero. A teammate, Cordero didn't do damage with his bat but with his solid 6-foot-2, 190-pound body, colliding with Day on a play at first during the nightcap of a May 28 doubleheader in Miami.
    Day should be a fine surprise for the remaining two Expos fans sitting in that ghastly cavern up in Montreal.

    Trachsel's strikeouts have fallen off quite a bit, and he still gives up too many homers, but I've come to respect his quiet, methodical competence. I've often heard his pitching style described as deliberate, which is fine for everyday use and Post columnists, but I figure I'll be referring to him often enough that I should have a few more words that mean "mind-numbingly slow" in reserve. Some of my favorites, courtesy Roget's Really Old Thesaurus, in a brief dialogue between Fran Healy and Keith Hernandez:

    Healy: Something goofy! Boy does my rear ache. Trachsel's meticulosis isn't helping...
    Hernandez: Something critical! Yeah, he sure is the most cunctative --
    Healy: Watch your mouth!
    Hernandez: It just means "tending to hesitate or delay"!
    Healy: Oh! Ok! Strike one on the outside corner.

    (For the definition of 'mailing it in', please see the above. I'm sorry, but I've got two more rotation spots and the bullpen to go.)

    Pavano is a mediocre pitcher who wouldn't merit mention except that his girlfriend is Alyssa Milano. I'm expecting ESPN's Hot Stove Heaters to write a detailed article any day now titled "Ace of Lace" in which Pavano and our own Mr. Erickson-Guerrero are interviewed about how tough is to focus on the game with girlfriends like theirs to come home to. ("Losing is still tough, real tough," said Erickson unconvincingly.)

    Horacio Ramirez stinks. Hallelujah. The only reason he's got a rotation spot this high is that the Braves have absolutely nobody else. I'd rejoice over it, except the Mets are in the same unenviable position.

    4th Starter

         1) FLA: Dontrelle Willis
         2) NYM: Jae Seo
         3) MON: Tomo Ohka
         4) ATL: John Thomson
         5) PHI: Eric Milton

    The D-train (ugh) is a flashy, charismatic kid. You don’t need me to tell you that. What you maybe didn’t hear about is this disturbing little snippet I found in his ESPN outlook:

    [Willis] remains a low-cost option in the middle of the Marlins' rotation, though long term some club insiders wonder whether he wouldn't be more valuable in a short-relief role.
    Relievers are a dime a dozen (or $3M a year for one, if you're the Yankees! Oh snap!) so I don't see why they'd want to downgrade him like that. I enjoy watching him, like everyone else in the world, and so hope he stays a starter. If Jae Seo isn't troubled by any nagging, strange ailments this year, I think he'll be an excellent fourth starter. I look forward to his success and increasing popularity as it will afford me more opportunities to snidely correct mispronunciations of his awesome name. Ohka pitched better two seasons ago, and I'm not sure why he was worse last year. It wasn't Puerto Rico, though; he actually pitched worse in Montreal. Thomson is not as bad as his numbers indicate; obviously pitching in Colorado and to a lesser extent Texas will do bad things to your ERA. Apparently, they're not so bad for your ego:

    "If I can come in here and just kind of be myself like I was at the second half last year, then I think our pitching staff is going to be as good as it was last year," Thomson said. "Maybe you won't see the names of last year, but you're going to see the results that you saw last year."
    He's not great, but he might not be completely insane. Leo Mazzone may not tape mouse tracking balls to Thomson's shoulders and then photograph him, but I'm sure the Braves' pitching coach has something up his sleeve.

    Milton is not very good, has never been very good, and is coming off a debilitating injury. He's not the one who makes the Phillies rotation deeper than his last incision; that guy would be...

    5th Starter

         1) PHI: Brett Myers
         2) FLA: Darren Oliver/ A.J. Burnett
         3) MON: Claudio Vargas
         4) ATL: Braves Combo
         5) NYM: Mets Combo

    Brett Myers, soon to be the best fifth starter in baseball. He's twenty-three, and he's going to get a lot better. A. J. Burnett has to be pissed that the injury probably caused in part by the Marlins overusing him cost him a spot on the team that won the World Series. How's that for motivation? Sadly, I don't think they're getting back this year, but he should be fun to watch until he hurries himself too much, sneezes, then rapidly disassembles before our eyes. Vargas is a fifth starter on the Expos, and that's all you need to know. The Braves have a number of unsavory options, including a guy named Bubba and a fellow named Jung (pronounced "Young") Bong. If Bubba makes the team, he'll be an easy target, but I'm sorry to announce that Grant Roberts' indiscretion last season precludes any Jung Bong humor.

    You were probably expecting a joke about the Mets' fifth starter options. That would not just be beating a dead horse. It would be beating a dead horse, rearranging it at the molecular level so that it becomes in fundamental ways human, signing it to a deal to pitch 300 innings a year for the Marlins, misdiagnosing the inevitable career-threatening shoulder ailment (poor Robb Nen) so that it becomes washed up, hiring Jerry Crasnick to make jokes only he finds funny about how it used to be a real workhorse, but is in fact now just a dead horse (and one that deserves to be beaten)...

    ...and then negotiating it a minor league contract with the Mets.

    (It's a joke that does not want to be a joke -- how postmodern!)

    But seriously, there's nothing more to say. I just hope it's one of the kids.

    And worth a brief mention:


         1) PHI: Wagner, Cormier,
         2) ATL: Smoltz and Co.
         3) FLA: Benitez, Fox, Tejera
         4) Mon: Biddle, Ayala, Eischen
         5) NYM: Looper and the Old Guard

    The Phillies have the best bullpen in the division, which is perhaps the most important improvement a team has made this offseason. Smoltz is wasted as a closer, but I'm glad the Braves don't seem to think so. I predict Benitez will thrive in the zero-pressure environment in Florida, where he will be free to wear as many absurd see-through shirts as he wishes. The Expos don't have many good options, but that makes them a damn sight better than our bullpen, which has none. I'm not sold on Looper, but I suppose we had to fill the closer slot with somebody. Who else do we have? Stanton, Franco, some of Strickland's jewelry he left lying around before he shut himself down. Once again, I hope some young guys get a chance to show their stuff instead of Ricky Botallico and whatever Baldwin brother we signed along with him.

    So where does this mammoth animal of a pitching preview leave us?

    On gut feeling alone, I thought the division would shape up like this:


    After taking a slightly more informed look and uselessly and relatively ranking our positional players and pitchers, I've come up with my adjusted gut feeling:

    Phillies: 16 (IF) + 9 (OF) + 12 (P) = 37
    Braves: 18 (IF) + 4 (OF) + 18 (P) = 40
    Mets: 12 (IF) + 9 (OF) + 19 (P) = 40
    Expos: 11 (IF) + 11 (OF) + 20 (P) = 42
    Marlins: 18 (IF) + 12 (OF) + 14 (P) = 44

    The acronym for which, by the way, is AGF, pronounced like the sound any rational baseball fan would make upon reading such hogwash.

    And yet, anything can happen. In some hypothetical moment in space and time, the Mets are contenders. It’s not the only reason I’m watching, but it’s one of them.

    Having said that, if you do happen to see Duquette drop his wallet getting onto the subway, well, do us all a favor and put some damn zip on it.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2004

    Reckless optimism must be stopped

    Well I'm back! Did everyone miss me? No? Well then cram it, ugly!

    So good to be back!

    In my absence I note that Mike has shattered any ideas I might have had about his sanity, as he has violated the Euclidean number system somehow to put the Mets on top of the rest of the division, possibly through the use of mysterious dark matter/ shaky logic. He also made allusions to the quality of my writing being below that of a monkey, however it's been scientifically proven that monkeys are better at throwing feces at a computer screen than typing on it.

    So screw you, Mike, my typing is at LEAST of the same quality as a ferret would produce by jumping on the keyboard repeatedly, and the Mets will be put in their proper place (dead last) in this preseason ranking as soon as the group of rocking chair enthusiasts known as "The Mets pitching staff" is looked at in depth. Also folks, Mike is probably going to attempt to use some cool sounding phrases like "bounceback season" and "Contracts with Satan" to hype up the Mets season. Do not let him get away with this.

    But sometimes I forget, this site isn't just a Mets bashing site, it's also a Red Sox bashing site! Red Sox information has been, to put it mildly, lacking lately. It's been suggested that I do a Red Sox/AL East ranking to go along with Mike's postings, however I've already gone to that standby three freaking times and it's not even Pitchers and Catchers yet. The well might be runnin' dry, folks.

    I did recently read something that bugged me. has done their own AL East Analysis and marked the Red Sox down for 105 wins. Yes, that's 105 wins, or 10 more wins than Mets losses last year, if you'd prefer to think of it that way (I would). I'm not a real big fan of, anything you can see there that has even the slightest signifigance was probably on ESPN the day before. They're the last to hear about breaking news and I haven't found any of their writers as easy to appreciate as ESPN's Peter Gammons or Jayson Stark. And seriously, HOW do you predict a 105 win season for a team? Anything over 100 wins, and a lot of luck was involved. I have no statistical data to back that claim up, but it simply feels wrong to assume any team, no matter how good, can be penciled in for well over 100 wins. There's too much chance and luck and injury stuff to make a prediction like that anything but insane. I mean obviously it's just for fun, but it's supposed to the flagship internet publication of Major League Baseball, and an important article is basically Tom Singer going "Hyuck hyuck wouldn't it be cool if the Red Sox were AWESOME this year?" The idea that this was simply a Sox fan writing down his wet dreams is strengthened by his predicting 92 wins for the Yanks, which while it's enjoyable to think about, is ludicrous to assume. Or maybe the Red Sox Nation persecution complex everyone writes about is real and I just hate my team not being the underdogs. Who knows.

    Jerry Remy's apparently on the 15 day DL. Poor guy. When the Sox were in a pressure situation (For example, a 4 run lead coming into the ninth with Embree closing) I usually prayed to Jerry Remy rather than God, for two simple reasons. One, Jerry Remy knows more about baseball than the Big Guy, and secondly, if things started going really bad, I have no doubts whatsoever that Remy would not be above shooting a laser pointer into the pitcher's eyes to work a walk for the Sox, or throwing a Fenway Frank at whoever was up to bat. Buried in that article is the GREAT news that Sean McDonough will be back to call the Friday channel 38 games. He nearly walked last year because of the decreased air time, but he's infinitely better than Don Orsillo, and I like Orsillo plenty as well. I was also a little worried that he simply had gotten canned, as Sean was not above making snide comments about Jerry's still being a main announcer ("How do you find the time to go golfing with me anymore, with your new hotshot partner and having to call more than 30 games?") nor was he shy about making his feelings regarding the other team or the Umps known. "Apparently I've gone blind, either that or Hunter Wendelsted is calling the new low strike at the shins. Oh wait, that strike doesn't exist" or "Jose Lima is yelling at someone now, not sure who. Oh, maybe it's the outfield grass, if it had grown faster that double would have been a single"

    And, geez, there's nothing else. Why won't the Sox DO something? Sign a ridiculous waiver pickup to take at-bats away from Bill Mueller, announce that Nixon's contract was for 13 million per, trade Schilling to the Yankees, do SOMETHING to at least anger me so I can have an offensive post to write. In the meantime, enjoy Part III of Mike's NL East Preview, "The Mets Rotation: Some Geezers, Some teasers"

    NL East Preview, Part 2

    In part one I took a look at the infields of our talented division, and decided that we're in relatively good shape. With today's review of the outfields, I think it's time to face the music. (According to Peter Gammons' far superior NL East breakdown, our team song is "The High Cost of Low Living". Oh, Peter.) And now it's out with the infielders, and in with the -- oh, hell, here they are.

    Left Field

         1) ATL: Larry Wayne Jones
         2) NYM: Cornelius Cliff Floyd
         3) PHI: Pat Burrell
         4) MON: Brad Wilkerson
         5) FLA: Jose Miguel Torres Cabrera

    If I had a time machine, I would travel back to the start of the 2003 season and find Pete Rose. "Pete," I would say, "What do you think of Pat Burrell?" Then I would take my winnings back with me and comfortably retire to a life of blogging. I would pay a man to train a chimpanzee to type my HTML. I would feed the chimp bananas and occasionally let it secretly take Kyle's place in the post-writing rotation. ("OOH OOH AH AH DAMON," he would write. "His finest work!" you would exclaim.)

    I'll do you a favor and save the rest of my adventures with Mr. Giggles for another day, perhaps when the Mets lose their ninetieth game. Suffice it to say that there's no PECOTA on god's green earth that could've predicted Burrell would crack like the Liberty Bell last year. It's inexplicable to me and was frustrating to witness. I'm usually a fan of divisional rivals mailing it in, but his struggles (like Burnitz') passed the point where it was funny to laugh at them. I'm rooting for him to rebound this year, despite his perennial success against the Mets, in the same way that I want Burnitz to club four hundred homers at Coors or some similar absurdity so ludicrous they don't bother testing him for steroids. That said, I can't place the shaky Pat above a healthy Floyd; I'd love to see what Legion Commander Cornelius could do with 150 games. When I say that Chipper is the "class" of this group, you know that I'm referring solely to his hitting ability, which is bound to decline markedly one of these years. It just has to. Wilkerson and Cabrera both have a good bit of power, and Brad gets on base a ton. I'm not saying they're terrible players, I just don't expect them to be as good as the rest.

    Center Field

         1) ATL: Andruw Rudolf Jones
         2) MON: Carl Edward Everett
         3) NYM: Mike Terrance Cameron
         4) FLA: Juan Pierre
         5) PHI: Marlon Jerrard Byrd

    If you take a look at Andruw's numbers the past couple of years, you'll see why I think he's the best:

    2003 .277/.338/.513
    2002 .264/.366/.512

    Let's throw in his MFER (Moral Factor Equivalency Rating) and have a gander at his adjusted stats:

    2003 .000/.000/.000
    2002 .000/.000/.000

    It becomes easy to see why I hate him. (If that was a difficult calculation to follow, you haven't been reading this blog for very long. Take heart! There's still time to hit that back button. Otherwise, see here.) Carl Everett, cancerous lesion or not, can still hit the ball pretty damn well. I think he'll continue his rejuvenation, with an assist from a one Hiram Bithorn. Cameron's really not that bad, once you get past his abysmal average. He won't be much fun to watch at the plate, I'm afraid, as he whiffs a lot, which is frustrating, and walks a lot, which is boring. Still, he hits a decent number of longballs and gets on base at a mighty clip, so I think it's safe to say he brings more to the club than his glove. Pierre is likable and very fun to watch (I'm partial to the drama of the stolen base) but overrated. Byrd is supposed to improve with age. I wish him the best of luck.

    Right Field

         1) PHI: Bobby Kelly Abreu
         2) ATL: David Jonathan Drew
         3) FLA: Jeff Guy Conine
         4) NYM: Gustavo Karim Garcia/Michael Shane Spencer
         5) MON: Juan Rivera

    Abreu is both immensely talented and underrated. Except people have been talking about how underrated he is for a while now, so I'm going to chalk him up on the board with Garret Anderson in the category of "Players We Have Failed to Appreciate to the Point of Appreciating Them". JD Drew highlights this group's uncanny knack for being dissatisfied with the names printed on their birth certificates. The rules of this preview compel me to neglect his durability issues, but I think it's safe to say we all know he's going to crush several vertebrae helping Chipper hide evidence of his latest affairs, or blow out his elbow throwing rocks at churchgoers with Andruw. Conine's a pretty solid guy whose career I haven't really followed and so can't crack wise about. Just watching his flair for the dramatic in Florida last year gives me a sinking feeling that he'll be providing me with more tears than laughter.

    Speaking of crying and laughing, General Gustavo and Platoon Leader Michael will be provoking one or the other this season and I'll be damned if I can figure out which. The question here is how they'll be used, and Cedeno's presence on our roster makes me think the answer is "improperly". And I can see ditching Gustavo for Karim, that makes sense, but what's so bad about Michael that made Shane seem so much more appealing? I'm sure there are logical explanations for these things, but you'll be hard pressed to offer one that justifies giving Juan Rivera an everyday job in the majors. I like him, but I don't think he's got the talent. Hopefully he'll prove me wrong.

    Tallying up the points, with low meaning good and high meaning bad (but not the kind of bad which also means good, for the out of touch high school guidance counselors among our readers), you get these numbers for the outfield:

    Braves: 4
    Mets: 9
    Phillies: 9
    Expos: 11
    Marlins: 13

    And combining that with my infield rankings yields the impossible:

    Mets: 12 + 9 = 21
    Expos: 11 + 11 = 22
    Braves: 18 + 4 = 22
    Phillies: 16 + 9 = 25
    Marlins: 18 +12 = 30

    Obviously this has no significance whatsoever, as having the worst left fielder shouldn't count the same as having the worst second baseman, yet it pleases me to say that the Mets have neither.

    I said I would include pitching with my take on the outfields, but this post has run long and anyway I'd rather bask in the merry glow of my ridiculousness and leave you for today with the only preseason ranking that has the Mets anywhere near the top. Enjoy the respite, as I'll be forced to string together words alongside phonetically transcribed howls of rage when I write about Glavine and Co. in the concluding part three later this week.