Sep 23

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #152; Pelfrey hopes to salvage something.

CHAT ROOM

CHAT ROOM

Mike Pelfrey gets the ball once more after tonight, so that gives him two opportunities to attempt to wash the sour taste that is the 2009 season out of his mouth and from our memories. Maybe it is possible for him to leave for winter on a positive note, but this is a guy who concerns me.

After last season’s positive big step, Pelfrey has slid back. Maybe not to square one, but not that much better. You’ll hear talk about him losing concentration because of his marriage and child, but that’s only a weak excuse.

Pelfrey still throws the ball hard and injuries aren’t an issue. However, much like Oliver Perez, his pitch selection and execution wander. He loses focus and can’t close out hitters or an inning. He’s prone to giving up runs in bunches. He easily gets rattled. How else can you explain all the balks, including three in one game?

Maddening, is he has these moments where you think he’s coming around, but he has far too many of the other kind. He can be dominant for four innings and lose it in the fifth. He can throw seven scoreless in one start and not make it out of the second in his next.

Pelfrey (10-11, 5.10) has a mind-boggling 7.04 ERA in his last five starts, and has lost four of his last six games. He has been particularly brutal lately, giving up a pair of two-run homers last Friday against Washington to Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Bard. Pelfrey also had the worst start of his career in his last start against the Braves, July 17, when he gave up nine runs in 1/3 innings.

Lifetime, he is 2-4 with a 6.36 ERA in eight starts against the Braves. The Mets have lost 12 of their past 15 games.

Just a reminder, I don’t know what kind of Internet access I’ll have tonight, but will do my best.

Sep 23

Tonight’s line-up ….

Salvage is a word I’ve used more than a few times this season. I’ll use it again tonight as that’s what the Mets will attempt to do against the Braves. They’ve lost the first two in this series and seven straight against the Braves.

Here’s the line-up Mike Pelfrey hopes will score him enough runs to dig himself out of whatever hole he gets into tonight:

Angel Pagan, LF
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Carlos Beltran, CF
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Brian Schneider, C
Anderson Hernandez, SS
Mike Pelfrey, RP

NOTE: Pelfrey is 0-2 with an 8.74 ERA in his two starts this season against the Braves.

Sep 23

Help is not coming ….

By all reported accounts, the Mets don’t expect to be big players in the off-season FA market. Read that as follows: No John Lackey, no big name power bat, no dramatic improvement.

The Mets front office will continue to say things like “we’ll look for the best fit,” and “if it makes sense, we’ll do something,” but essentially, not much will change from this year’s team and the one the team will throw out there next year.

Mets likely to go minimum wage in getting help.

Mets likely to go minimum wage in getting help.


So, here’s the strategy the best I can see:

Catcher: A Josh Thole and Omir Santos platoon.

First base: Daniel Murphy with Carlos Delgado not returning.

Second base: Luis Castillo because the team won’t be able to unload his contract.

Shortstop: Hoping for a healthy return by Jose Reyes.

Third base: Hoping for David Wright to rediscover his power stroke.

Left field: Here’s where they might attempt to sign a middle-tier player, but don’t be surprised if Angel Pagan is out there.

Center field: Hoping for a full and healthy season from Carlos Beltran.

Right field: Jeff Francoeur could amount to their biggest signing.

No. 1 starter: The return of a healthy Johan Santana.

No. 2 starter: Hoping Mike Pelfrey rebounds.

No. 3 starter: Hoping for a healthy return of Oliver Perez.

No. 4 starter: Hoping for a healthy return of John Maine.

No. 5 starter: Wide open. Bobby Parnell could get another chance. Don’t be surprised if they go for a middle-of-the-road starter and slot him in at No. 3 and move everybody back.

Set-up reliever: I was probably wrong about Putz. With his option they won’t bite on him. Could go with Parnell if he doesn’t start.

Other relievers: Will bring back Pedro Feliciano. I can see them bringing back Sean Green.

Bench: Should re-sign Alex Cora and will likely bring back Fernando Tatis.

So, essentially, the Mets will take the approach injuries were the primary cause for this season’s blowout and they’ll hope for the best in everybody coming back healthy. Pitching is a concern, so that’s where they’ll spend their attention in the FA market. However, they aren’t likely to splurge.

Sep 23

This Day in Baseball History ….

Looking back

Looking back

Do you remember Armando Benitez?

Of course you do. How could anybody forget the pitcher with the million dollar arm and ten cent heart and brain? A nickel for both.

On this day in 2001, Benitez, pitching for the Mets, gave up three runs to the Braves in the ninth inning, with two coming of Brian Jordan homer. Jordan would later homer in the 11th inning as Atlanta won, 5-4.

I had pleasure of covering Benitez twice, first with the Orioles and then with the Yankees.

BENITEZ: Heat, but no fire.

BENITEZ: Heat, but no fire.


Was talking to one of the Oriole catchers one day about Benitez, and he told me he didn’t think he’d ever become a great closer because, “he doesn’t really want the ball.” When things were well, Benitez was dominant, but he would unravel at the slightest thing, whether it be bloop hit, an error or not getting an ump’s call.

Sure enough, once Benitez would blow a save, two or three more would follow.

My favorite Benitez story isn’t from 1998 when he plunked Tino Martinez after giving up a homer to incite a brawl, but several years earlier and it wasn’t even game related.

The Orioles were in Milwaukee at the end of the season and this was the rookie hazing day when the veterans would take their clothes and make them wear things from consignment and thrift shops. Could be women’s clothes. Could be anything.

It is supposed to be a bonding gesture, kind of like in a fraternity.

Benitez was having none if it and held up the Orioles team bus for 45 minutes. It got to where Rafael Palmeiro had to get off the bus and persuade him to get with the program. Benitez wouldn’t and ended up wearing his uniform pants with his dress shirt.

The next day, we were talking about it with manager Ray Miller, who gave us this song-and-dance about Benitez being so sensitive because he was a Latin player. Miller then asked me what I would have done. I told him, “Benitez has a credit card and I would have left without him and told him to make his own way to the next city.”