Oct 31

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Game #3 starts with news of Game #4.

GAME 3: Pettitte vs. Hamels.

GAME 3: Pettitte vs. Hamels.

Joe Torre used to say Game 3 was the pivotal game, that it is the game where the momentum swings one way or another. Nine of the last 10 teams to win a Game 3 when the Series was tied went on to win the title.

The Phillies are home tonight, but the Yankees’ might have psychologically off-set that advantage with the announcement CC Sabathia will be the Game 4 starter on three days rest. Joe Blanton is scheduled to go for the Phillies in Game 4, but will manager Charlie Manuel reverse course and go with Cliff Lee?

If he does, the argument would be, and it wouldn’t be wrong, that the Yankees are now dictating what the Phillies will do. Should the Phillies lose tonight, absolutely it wouldn’t be surprising for Lee to be moved up in the rotation. Lee has never pitched on short rest.

SABATHIA: Starts tomorrow on short rest.

SABATHIA: Starts tomorrow on short rest.


That puts the pressure on the Phillies, who obviously can’t relish the idea of facing Sabathia to stay alive in the Series. Let’s face it, if they lose tonight, they are looking at falling down 3-1 and needing to run the table, including two games in New York.

Yes, they do play those kinds of mental gymnastics.

Sabathia has been a horse during the playoffs, going 3-1 with a 1.52 ERA in four starts, including beating the Angels in Game 4 on three days rest.

“CC has pitched extremely well for us this year,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said today. “We wanted to see how he came out today, how physically he came out today, and he physically feels good.”

HAMELS: Needs to get back in form.

HAMELS: Needs to get back in form.


Should the Yankees lose tonight they would’ve gone with Sabathia on three days rest anyway. This just takes the doubt out of it, which is probably good for Sabathia’s mental preparation.

If the Yankees lose one of the next two games, count on them also going with AJ Burnett and Andy Pettitte on short rest, with Sabathia pitching again on three days rest in a Game 7.

The Phillies can go back dictating their terms, which would include staying with Blanton tomorrow, if last year’s World Series MVP, Cole Hamels, wins tonight. A slamdunk last October, Hamels is 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in three playoff starts this year. Manuel waited to start him at home because he was reluctant to go with him on the road.

“It’s been a growing process,” said Hamels, who grew up admiring Pettitte. “It’s just coming back and delivering, and I still have an opportunity to help this team out and win some big games.”

Pettitte is underrated as a big-game pitcher, but he shouldn’t be. He won his record 16th playoff game when the won Game 6 of the ALCS against the Angels. He’s 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in these playoffs.

“He doesn’t seem fazed by anything,” teammate Derek Jeter said. “He’s pitched in every kind of big game you can think of.”

Oct 31

Rodriguez off to slow Series start ….

He sizzled against the Twins and Angels, but has come up cold against the Phillies. However, in the interest of fairness, so too, have most of the hitters – from both teams – in the first two games of the World Series.

A-Rod: Six strikeouts in eight at-bats.

A-Rod: Six strikeouts in eight at-bats.


Chase Utley and Ryan Howard were on in Game 1, but stifled in Game 2. Rodriguez is hitless in eight at-bats with six strikeouts. Horrible at any time, but this is Rodriguez we’re talking about, and afterall, weren’t we just talking a couple of days ago how he shed his October label?

“It’s eight at-bats,” Rodriguez said. “I’m not concerned at all. … Everything right now is magnified.”

The Yankees, of course, will keep him in the line-up. It’s not like benching Hideki Matsui or Nick Swisher. Rodriguez carried the Yankees during the first two rounds with a combined 14 hits, .438 average, five home runs, 12 RBI and 10 runs in the first two rounds. He’s strong enough, and streaky enough, to do it again.

There was no way the Yankees were going to beat Cliff Lee, and maybe they got lucky against Pedro Martinez. The Phillies are happy with the split, that was their goal. The Yankees will take the split because they know it could have been worse.

Truer words were never spoken when Rodriguez said: “The fact that I’m oh-for-the-Series and we’re 1-1 and the guys picked me up makes me feel really good about going into Game 3.”

Oct 31

Crawford could be available ….

In this lusting over Matt Holliday, who could still stay in St. Louis as Albert Pujols desires, let’s not forget Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford, whose speed skills would come into play in every aspect of the game.

CRAWFORD: Good glove in left; solid bat.

CRAWFORD: Good glove in left; solid bat.


Crawford has a $10 million option for 2010 with a $1.25 million buyout. That’s reasonable, so the assumption must be made they way to get him would be in a trade. The Rays, like everybody else, want young talent. Would you be surprised to see them ask for Fernando Martinez? I wouldn’t, as everybody asks for him.

That’s a tough call, but Crawford’s production (four 50-steal seasons and six years with 180 hits) is what the Mets would hope for from Martinez.

I like Crawford for his speed, defense and ability to be a table setter on offense. There’s no question he plugs the left field hole, and he, Reyes, and Carlos Beltran bunched at the top of the order will create many RBI opportunities for Beltran, David Wright and Jeff Francoeur.

No, he doesn’t have the power potential of Holliday, but he helps the Mets in other areas. He’s not going to be a one-year pick-up, either. So, if the Mets could obtain Crawford without giving up Martinez, then having him would give the team the flexibility to deal him for pitching or power.

Oct 30

Thoughts on Pedro the teacher ….

Watching Pedro Martinez last night got me to thinking about his tenure with the Mets. He was brought in for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is his supposed influence on the younger pitchers. Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and John Maine all have physical skills to be good, but something is lacking.

1 + 1 = 3 to some Mets pitchers.

1 + 1 = 3 to some Mets pitchers.


I know Martinez worked hard with Perez, as has Johan Santana the past two seasons, but nothing has sunk in. At least it sure doesn’t look like it. If you can’t learn from those two, who can you learn from? In this case, I’m more inclined to think the student has a learning disability than I am a problem with the teachers.

I’m not sure Perez is ever going to get it. I’d like to unload his contract, but who would be crazy enough to pay him that much money? Ooops, never mind.

Pelfrey’s erratic nature has me leaning in that direction, too. In comparison to some of the other young pitchers in the game, Pelfrey is way behind in his mound make-up. All too often this season Pelfrey unraveled after several good innings. He doesn’t have the ability to command his secondary pitches and adjust under pressure.

Of the three, Maine appears to me to have taken a step back from his 15-win season, but that’s more attributable to injuries than anything else.

Oct 30

Mets vs. World Series teams match-ups

Sure, it might be piling on, but with today being an off-day in the World Series, I think its a good time to see where our heroes rate in comparison to the Phillies and Yankees. If Omar Minaya and Jeff Wilpon are watching they can’t be happy how the talent yardstick is measuring their team.

If you were to select a starting team between the Mets, Phillies and Yankees, I believe the Mets would place only two players, Carlos Beltran and Johan Santana among the starters with perhaps a few bench players.

Here’s how I look at that team:

C: Jorge Posada, Yankees.
Mets note: Omir Santos would be a distant third.

1B: Ryan Howard, Phillies.
Mets note: Daniel Murphy would be a distant third.

2B: Chase Utley, Phillies.
Mets note: Luis Castillo would be a distant third.

SS Derek Jeter, Yankees.
Mets note: Right now I’d have to go with Jose Reyes third.

3B: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees.
Mets note: David Wright would be second.

LF: Raul Ibanez, Phillies.
Mets note: Whomever the Mets throw out there would be third. That’s how weak they are at the position.

CF: Carlos Beltran, Mets.
Mets note: When healthy Beltran is clear cut, because of his power potential.

RF: Jayson Werth, Phillies.
Mets note: Jeff Francoeur would be third.

ROTATION
Johan Santana, Mets
Cliff Lee, Phillies
CC Sabathia, Yankees
AJ Burnett, Yankees
Cole Hamels, Phillies.
Mets note: Right now, I’d have to place Andy Pettitte, Joe Blanton and JA Happ ahead of any Met candidate. That’s a pretty good indictment about what is wrong.

CLOSER
Mariano Rivera, Yankees.
Mets note: I’d put Francisco Rodriguez second.

Of course, the team the Mets need to immediately concern themselves with are the Phillies. Being healthy would close the gap a bit, and going crazy in the free-agent market would close it even more, but not enough to where you can say the Mets are close to their level.

So, if Minaya and Wilpon are watching and making comparisons to where they rate, they can’t be pleased. Let’s just hope it prompts them to follow through on their words at the season ending press conference.