Oct 12

Thoughts On A-Rod, Washington Nationals And Playoffs

This has been a compelling postseason and it is getting more intriguing with each day. At the start of the season I projected the Giants and Yankees to meet in the World Series, and that’s still in play.

The Yankees’ showing makes them hard to figure out, but one thing is for certain, and that’s things will never be the same for Alex Rodriguez and how he’ll respond to being benched for this afternoon’s game is anybody’s guess what it will do to that clubhouse over the next five years.

Rodriguez played the good soldier when Raul Ibanez pinch-hit for him and ended up homering – twice. He was the same last night when Eric Chavez batted for him. Both had to be blows to his fragile confidence and pride, but being benched is another animal.

Joe Girardi’s actions have stripped Rodriguez of his emotional armor in a far worse way than Joe Torre dropping in the batting order several years ago. Back then, Rodriguez was still a dominating player, but one going through a slump. Torre also had cache in managing four World Series champions.

However, Rodriguez, through the aging process, injuries and it has been suggested the residual effect of his admitted steroid use, is simply not the same player anymore. Whether is year is an aberration remains to be seen, but remember he’s 38 and what player gets better and more productive as he gets older. Other than, of course, one of baseball’s greatest cheaters, Barry Bonds?

And, the beauty of all this is the Yankees have him for five more years, in which they’ll pay him in excess of $100 million. It’s hindsight now, but they should have let him walk when they had the chance. Odds are there were no teams that would have given him Yankee money, but late owner George Steinbrenner ended up bidding against himself. With an increased luxury tax coming, the Yankees will be forced to reduce payroll and they might have a completely different look, and maybe one no so dominant.

If Rodriguez is indeed on the decline as it appears, having him get all that money for not producing will undoubtedly cause a strain among the players. How can it not?

However, Rodriguez was greedy and wanted every last time and the Yankees were smug and arrogant in their free-spending ways. They both got what they deserve.

Another impression about the postseason is the arrogance of the Washington Nationals. I like Davey Johnson, always have, but their GM Mike Rizzo is annoying. I couldn’t agree more with my colleague Joe DeCaro’s post this morning on Rizzo’s decision to shut down Stephen Strasburg. It was beyond arrogance for Rizzo to suggest the Nationals would be back many times to the postseason.

I covered the Orioles for ten years and I remember what Cal Ripken once told me. He appeared the 1983 World Series, and afterward said he thought he’d get back every year. Ripken didn’t play in another postseason game until 1996, a mere 13 years later. There is no guarantees in sports. The Nationals might never get here again during Strasburg’s career, regardless of how good it evolves. Then again, Strasburg has already had an arm injury. What if he has another and his career is cut short?

Above all, I have to wonder about the feelings among Strasburg’s teammates toward management. The pitcher is on record saying he wanted to pitch, so they can’t hold that against him. But, management is sending a bad message to the players. What if they never get here again? How will they feel about Rizzo’s decision?

Meanwhile, the Giants are an interesting story. As they were two years ago, they are pitching reliant. They got by Cincinnati without Tim Lincecum in the rotation, but they won’t be able to get away with that in the NLCS. Lincecum pitched brilliantly in relief, looking like his old self. This is a very good team that is flying under the radar.

Also in that position are the St. Louis Cardinals – they know what to do in October – and Detroit Tigers. The Cardinals could have the chance to defend their title without Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols, something few thought would be possible. The Tigers, meanwhile, have the game’s premier pitcher in Justin Verlander and one-two punch in Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.

Cardinals vs. Tigers in a rematch? That wouldn’t be bad, either.


Jun 01

Josh Thole and Elvin Ramirez To Join Mets Today

The Mets announced that catcher Josh Thole and reliever Elvin Ramirez will join the Mets in time for Friday’s series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Who is getting cut or demoted to make room for them has yet to be announced.

Thole, who was hitting .284 with one home run before the concussion, has been on the disabled list since May 8, but started behind the plate for Triple-A Buffalo today and went 1-for-4 at the plate with a single.

The Mets will have to decide between cutting Mike Nickeas or Rob Johnson to make room for Thole. Nickeas is batting .148 compared to .313 for Johnson, but is the better defensive option.

Elvin Ramirez has been lights out this season for Binghamton and most recently Buffalo, and he was just highlighted today by Joe D who wrote:

Okay, I really don’t want to jinx Bisons reliever Elvin Ramirez who is now 3-0 since his promotion to the Herd. But in 14.2 innings pitched so far, Ramirez has yet to allow a run and has limited batters to just five hits, one walk and an amazing 19 strikeouts. Stick your tongues back in your mouths…

I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do for this bullpen. I’m gonna assume that Chris Schwinden will go back down.

The Mets also announced that reliever Manny Acosta, who was designated for assignment last week, cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Buffalo.

Rob Johnson – Mets Merized Online

Apr 05

You’ll enjoy this

I found this on the Internet and thought you might enjoy it. This is from Baseball-Reference.com, and it lists every Mets Opening Day lineup since 1962.

Throughout this season, the Mets’ 50th, I will post box scores from that season. This is the Mets first game, an 11-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. I hope you enjoy things like this. Enjoy.

Oct 19

Is it better to have loved and lost?

Is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all?

That’s a tough question, especially at the time when the misery has peaked. The Mets aren’t in the playoffs, they are scattered throughout the country. Some might be watching, others might not care enough to turn on their sets.

This date has not been kind to the Mets in the playoffs, prompting the question.

Today in 2006, Yadier Molina’s two-run HR in the 9th inning off Aaron Heilman is the game-winner as the St. Louis Cardinals win in seven games. The game ends when Carlos Beltran is frozen on a nasty curveball by Adam Wainwright.

The game is remembered for Endy Chavez’s home-run robbing catch of Scott Rolen’s drive, but the Mets can’t sustain the momentum and blow an opportunity in the bottom of the inning to break the game open open.

The season that unfolded with so much promise and potential was over, but little did we know at the time that so was the Mets’ window of opportunity. They blew two September leads the following two seasons and derailed completely this season.

Now, the organization is faced with the question of whether they need tweaking or an overhaul.

Also, on this date in 1999, the Braves defeated the Mets‚ 10-9 in 11 innings‚ to take the NLCS in six games.

The Mets came back from three games down to force a sixth game, and rallied twice from deficits of 5-0 and 7-3 to force extra innings on Mike Piazza’s homer.

However, Kenny Rogers walked in the winning run in the 11th inning to end that dream.

Oct 01

Today in Baseball History …. Straw clocks one.

Cards-Mets defined intense.

Cards-Mets defined intense.

Throughout their history, the Mets have had a series of rivalries, but there was something special in their duel with the St. Louis Cardinals during the 1980s.

On this day in 1985, the teams began a three-game series at Busch Stadium, with the Mets winning the first game, 1-0 in 11 innings on Darryl Strawberry’s monstrous homer off Ken Dayley that broke light bulbs on the scoreboard.

STRAWBERRY: Stirred the drink.

STRAWBERRY: Stirred the drink.

Ron Darling and John Tudor each pitched 10 scoreless innings.

“I get goose bumps when I come back to this stadium and remember the rivalry,’’ Darling said. “I was sitting on the bench and had a good view of that monster shot Darryl hit. I think that in all my career, that was the most excited I’ve ever seen a clubhouse after a game. Guys were crying and hugging and laughing.”

The Cardinals would win that season, but the Mets rolled in 1986.

Strawberry was catalyst of those Mets teams during the 1980s. He is among the few players who made everybody stop and watch when he came to the plate because of his awesome power potential. Few guys have had that ability to make a stadium gasp with one swing, and Strawberry was one of them.