Oct 10

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Dodgers stymie Pujols; go for sweep.

The Cardinals were a pick of mine to advance. I thought the Dodgers’ pitching was suspect and Albert Pujols could take over a series. So far, I have been wrong. The Dodgers have limited the Cardinals to five runs in the two games and go for the sweep today in St. Louis.

Of course, if Matt Holliday could catch a line drive the NLDS would be tied at a game apiece. He couldn’t and it is not.

PUJOLS: Cardinals need his bat.

PUJOLS: Cardinals need his bat.

That play was a major storyline. So is the Dodgers’ unwillingness to pitch to Pujols. Like Barry Bonds a few years ago, Pujols is to be avoided.

Pujols, the NL MVP favorite, hit .327 with a major league-leading 47 homers and 135 RBI. He as also intentionally walked 44 times, most in the majors. In the first two games of this series the Dodgers have limited him to a single in six at-bats. They’ve walked him intentionally the three times he came to the plate with runners in scoring position.

“To me, Albert is just out there in a class by himself,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Friday. “It may cost me, you know, a three-run homer instead of a two-run homer. But I’m still going to make somebody else beat me.”

The Cardinals have the power to complement Pujols, but Los Angeles’ pitching has been too good.

“One of the reasons we were a lot better in the last half of the year is we have protection behind him,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “If Albert keeps getting on base, we’ll pick him up.”

For the Cardinals, who stranded 14 runners in Game 1, it has to happen soon.

Oct 09

Be careful what you wish for ….

A lot of Mets fans are hoping the team will take the plunge on free-agent outfielder Matt Holliday, whose defense prowess is why the Cardinals are down 2-0 in their NLDS with the Dodgers.

Holliday dropped a line drive for what should have been the final out in Game 2 yesterday and enabled the Dodgers to rally in the ninth inning. That the Dodgers rallied is not a surprise, as they won 23 games in their final at-bat this season. It was how sudden that was shocking.

There’s no doubting Holliday’s offensive ability, but his defense has been suspect and left field is a difficult position to play in Citi Field. Not that the Mets are going to splurge on what it would take to land him, but defense is a priority.

So, is his glove worth the risk just to have his bat?

Oct 08

Talkin’ Baseball: The Playoffs continue.

No real surprises last night in the first day of the Division Series. The Yankees, Phillies and Dodgers all won as the home teams rolled. Of the three losing teams, I see only the Cardinals of rebounding to take their series.

Obviously, the defending world champs aren’t a media darling. They have another afternoon game today. Cole Hamels is starting and could give the Phillies a chokehold in their series with the Rockies.

Oct 07

Something with your morning coffee ….

This Day in Mets History

This Day in Mets History

It was a sweet memory and it wasn’t too long ago. On this day in 2006, the Mets defeated the, 9-5, to sweep their NLDS.

The Mets would lose to the Cardinals in the NLCS, and their window of opportunity has closed in the following three years, being slammed shut this season.

I covered the 2006 team, it was my first year on the Mets beat after long time with the Yankees. I was impressed with how the Mets played that season. They were sharp, aggressive, fundamentally sound. They had some pitching injuries, but the bullpen was deep and strong.

Times sure have changed.

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They Said It

They Said It

The Yankees won their season series over Minnesota, 7-0, but these are the playoffs.

The Twins might be exhausted, but they are hot and playing sharp, crisp baseball right now. They are the underdog, but they are a fundamentally sound team with good pitching. They always seem to find a way to stay in a game.

Said outfielder Denard Span: “We just feel like we have nothing to lose.”

The Twins are dangerous and they know it. The Yankees better know it, too.

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Sep 29

Would you extend Beltran’s contract now?

One of the core wants to stay. Carlos Beltran, 32, who returned from the disabled list earlier this month in an attempt to salvage part of his season, said he wants to finish his career with the Mets and told his agent to approach the team for an extension after the season.

That would be Scott Boras, who prefers to test the FA market.

Beltran, although not a great crowd favorite, has more than done his job with the Mets. He’s been productive and played hurt. He’s also performed in the clutch and has been an All-Star, Gold Glover and Silver Slugger winner.

BELTRAN: Plenty of expectations with his contract.

BELTRAN: Plenty of expectations with his contract.


His best season, by far, was 2006, when he finished fourth in the MVP voting. Beltran tied a club record with 41 homers, including walk-offs against the Phillies and Cardinals. Beltran also homered three times in the NLCS against the Cardinals, but will always be remembered for taking a third strike from Adam Wainwright to end the series.

That strikeout could be why he’s never been as appreciated as he should be.

What I like about Beltran, is with the season over from a competitive standpoint, he worked hard to come back from the DLwhen it would have been easy to shut down.

“Why not?’’ Beltran said. “I don’t feel obligated. This is my job.’’

Beltran is at an age where an extension wouldn’t be a terrible idea, because by the end of his current deal he’d be 34, and still a productive player.

BELTRAN: He's produced.

BELTRAN: He's produced.


However, if the Mets do this, I see it happening after next season and not this year.

My thinking is the Mets should be wary because of Beltran’s injury history the past two years. In addition, the Mets have so many holes to fill that their attention will be elsewhere.

However, there’s another reason why I see the Mets waiting, and that’s because they really don’t know what direction they are heading. Do they need a tweaking or an overhaul?

The story of this season has been the injuries, and if they return healthy and productive next year, then a case can be made that the Mets are not as bad as they appear. In that case, they’d be wise to bring back Beltran.

Of course, that includes Beltran having a good and healthy season.

However, if the Mets continue their downward spiral, and Beltran has another off-year, then it would be time to start over.

I like Beltran, but I’m not extending him this winter. There are too many variables.