Sep 21

David Wright Delivers For Mets In Return; Matsuzaka Continues To Disappoint

The New York Mets got what they hoped for Friday night in David Wright’s return, but remain wanting with Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Backed by Wright’s first-inning homer, the Mets gave Matsuzaka a 5-0 lead, but he gave up four runs in the fourth inning. Never mind two of the runs were unearned, but a pitcher’s job is to pitch out of trouble.

Matsuzaka not only didn’t escape trouble, but with three walks and four hits in six innings, he contributed to his own demise.

WRIGHT: Welcome back. (MLB)

WRIGHT: Welcome back. (MLB)

Those are not acceptable numbers, and his performance doesn’t even define a No. 5 starter. Aaron Harang has pitched well enough to warrant a spring training invite, but Matsuzaka has not.

Yes, he pitched six innings, and yes, the Mets came away with a victory, but it was a stressful outing and they can’t afford having their bullpen drained once every fifth day.

As for Wright, who played for the first time in seven weeks, he came out of the night sore, but confident: “I want to be able to just flow and react, and I’m not quite there yet as far as the rhythm of the game and that kind of explosiveness that I feel I had before I got hurt.’’

Prior to the game, Wright said he wanted to play in eight of the Mets’ last ten games.

GEE GOES TODAY: Nobody thought it would happen in April, but Dillon Gee will lead the Mets with victories this season. He goes after his 12th victory today and will get another start Thursday against Milwaukee at Citi Field.

Gee’s season turned around with a 12-strikeout game, May 30, at Yankee Stadium.

It was as if switch was flipped.

“I started pitching with more command,’’ Gee said.

HAWKINS GOES FOR MILESTONE: LaTroy Hawkins has 99 career saves, 11 of them coming this season when he assumed the closer role when Bobby Parnell was injured.

At 40, Hawkins still throws in the mid-90s, but more to the point, he still knows how to pitch. Hawkins has been a positive influence in the bullpen and the Mets should bring him back.

They could do far worse.

FLORES TO PLAY SECOND: Wilmer Flores might get more starts at second base in the remaining nine games.

For several years, the Mets struggled to find a position for Daniel Murphy. Ironically, they appear to be trying to replace him with Flores, a player, like Murphy, who had trouble finding a position.

WINTER BALL METS: The Mets are seeking to find winter ball teams for Lucas Duda and Matt den Dekker, both of whom lost at-bats this summer because of injuries.

Duda would get time at first base, a further indication the Mets appear to be moving away from Ike Davis.

As for den Dekker, he could earn a spot next spring if he can hit.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 11

Reports Say Japanese Phenom Masahiro Tanaka Will Post For MLB After Season

masahiro tanaka

Brett Bull of the New York Times reports that 24-year old Japanese pitching phenom Masahiro Tanaka, who improved to 20-0 on the season after a 3-2 complete game victory last night, will request to be posted for Major League Baseball at the end of this season.

News media outlets in Japan are suggesting that Tanaka will request the Eagles put him up for auction via the posting system later this year. Such a move will make him the most sought-after Japanese export since Yu Darvish, one of baseball’s best pitchers, and a member of the Texas Rangers for the last two seasons.

With last night’s victory, Tanaka now has 24 consecutive wins, a streak that matches the major league mark in the United States set by the New York Giants’ Carl Hubbell in 1936-37.

Interestingly enough, his latest win came thanks to a tie-breaking homer from former Mets Kazuo Matsui. After recording the final out on a called third strike, he emphatically pumped his fist toward third base as the home crowd of 22,316 roared.

“It was a true team effort,” Tanaka said. “In the future, I’ll do my best to continue.”

The 6-foot-2 right-hander has an arsenal that includes a fastball that touches 95 mph, a sharp-breaking slider and a split-finger fastball. In his 24 starts this season, he has 1.24 ERA while striking out 155 batters over 181 innings. It’s the third straight season he’s has an ERA under 2.00, and earlier this season he had a streak of 42 scoreless innings.

What’s amazing here is that he’s only 24 and getting better. Earlier this week, Ben Badler of Baseball America tweeted the following:

If his team does post him this Fall or Winter, expect some high bids from teams like the Dodgers, D’Backs, Rangers, Mariners, Yankees and Braves. All six teams were on hand to see him win his 20th game.

“I’ve always liked his slider, but his split-finger has really come on in the last couple of seasons,” said one MLB scout. “He definitely has enough velocity to play at the major league level, and the other two pitches would compete for sure.”

I know I’m just dreaming, but I miss the days when the Mets wouldn’t be discounted from any serious pursuit of players like Tanaka or Cuban sensation Jose Abreu.

Aug 15

Upon Further Review, Instant Replay Still Has Gaps

It is a start. That’s where we can begin to analyze Major League Baseball’s new instant replay format, which now includes giving managers up to three video challenges per game, with the final decision rendered in the MLB offices in New York.

Theoretically, this would eliminate the hat-flinging, dirt-kicking, bat-and-base throwing tantrums that elevated Earl Weaver and Billy Martin to folk status. I will miss those. Go ahead, Google Earl Weaver umpire fights, especially those with Ron Luciano.

There’s some good to the new system, but several shortcomings must be mentioned:

NUMBER OF CHALLENGES

The system calls for only one challenge through the first six innings and two for the remainder of the game, regardless of how long it goes. It was said on one radio call-in show this afternoon the intent is to speed the game along, which should never be the primary reason for anything. The primary goal should always be to get it right.

Why not allow one challenge every three innings, regardless of how long the game lasts? There’s a sense of proportion that way.

Technically, to allow for full integrity to the process, replay challenges should be unlimited, because getting it right is the only true goal. However, in leaving unlimited replays on the table, all it would take is one ANGRY manager to challenge every play.

WHAT IS REVIEWABLE AND WHAT IS NOT?

As of now nothing changed, just home runs. Balls and strikes will never be under challenge, but so many types of plays should be reviewable.

Unlike football, where the action can happen anytime and anywhere on the field, that isn’t the case with baseball. So much of what happens on a baseball field does so at a fixed location, such as the foul lines, bases and home plate and the fences. Even trapped balls in the outfield would seem easier than football, because there’s rarely an obstructed view.

Why not include everything but balls and strikes? Get it right, so there will never be another travesty as the botched infield fly rule play in Atlanta during the NLDS?

Major League Baseball, if it wanted, could readily identify where most of the contested plays are, and why. MLB has stats on everything and can pinpoint what plays created the most disputes, and getting back to the innings issue, where they occurred in the game. That’s why keying the bulk of the challenges in the last three innings is a misnomer.

What the makers of this rule don’t get is things can explode any time.

THE UMPIRE ISSUE

This gets us to the umpires, whose union had to be on board for this to happen. Hopefully, this format will diffuse many of the player-umpire confrontations.

I’ve always maintained each umpire should be wired for sound they can’t control. This way we know who said the words to ignite the argument.

The accusation against many umpires is they don’t care to improve. There’s a perception they can be lazy and confrontational.

Hopefully, this format will prove the umpires are more right than wrong, but that isn’t the current perception.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 01

What Zack Wheeler Brings To Mets

MLB: New York Mets at Atlanta BravesZack Wheeler proved why he has the potential to transform the New York Mets into legitimate contenders this week after a sterling pitching performance that saw him take a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Marlins.

The 23-year-old has flashed much of the raw ability and plus offerings that have made him one of the top right-handed pitching prospects in the game three years running.

As the Mets move closer to becoming a perennial contender built on a foundation of formidable starting pitching, MLB betting fans look to operators like casino tropez online to find the betting odds for the Mets improving much as their fortunes are.

Wheeler is still trying to find consistency within his delivery, but continues to work with pitching coach Dan Warthen after every start as he strives to refine his delivery.

“I just have to figure out my motion,” Wheeler said. “It’s about finding a motion that works for me.”

The key for the young righty will be consistency, and in his last start he delivered perhaps his best and most dominating performance since his promotion. He continues to evolve and as he gets better, so do the betting odds for the Mets.

The Mets can already see the bright futures that await Wheeler and his teammate and ace pitcher Matt Harvey. The two of them have invoked memories of past Mets 1-2 punches like Seaver and Koosman and Gooden and Darling.

The scouts and talent evaluators all agree that the Mets are on the verge of something special. To that end the Mets will play it safe and ensure that they do not overwork their prized young pitchers.

Both of them will have less than ten starts left to the season and their innings pitched will be monitored closely.

They will be protecting their investment by going to a six-man rotation, even if it means playing with a short bench. It’s a risk worth taking and the rewards could come as soon as the 2014 season.

Jul 31

Alex Rodriguez Must Stand Up To Bud Selig

The issues in the Biogenesis case are two-fold: 1) the accused players supposedly used PEDs, which is against the rules of MLB’s drug policy, and 2) they used illegal drugs, thereby breaking the real law.

It is there that gives Commissioner Bud Selig authority to go after these guys and dole out punishments, some exceeding the 50-game ban for a first offense.

RODRIGUEZ: Not doing much smiling these days.

RODRIGUEZ: Not doing much smiling these days.

Cleaning up the game is admirable, but I am wondering if the ends justify these means. Selig has gone to bed with Tony Bosch, whose reputation is tainted and word questionable at best. Major League Baseball couldn’t get its own evidence, so they paid for it.

Kind of sleazy, don’t you think?

Major League Baseball paying Bosch taints its case, but Ryan Braun rolling over without a whimper gave Bosch a large degree of credibility, at least in the eyes of the other players cited. And, union chief Michael Weiner’s meek approach of coming out and saying the union would not support the players charged seriously weakens the Players Associations’ leverage not only in this case, but possibly in future labor negotiations.

Currently, Selig holds all the cards, and that’s not healthy for the future of the sport. He now has absolute power to do what he wants, but baseball is making a pile of money so nobody will contest him on any issue.

Braun did his fellow players a disservice by not challenging the charge and just taking the punishment. It showed he was out just for himself. Others will do the same. If the accused work out their own deals, what does that say about the union?

As for Alex Rodriguez, there’s a lot of evidence that makes him look bad, including his admission of using steroids prior to MLB’s get tough drug policy. Since he admitted using prior to the policy, there was no suspension.

There’s a lot of evidence Rodriguez is hip deep in all this, from recruiting other players to Bosch and trying to cover his butt. But, how credible is the evidence if it is supplied by Bosch, who is trying to save his own skin? How much of that evidence is real and documented, and how much of it circumstantial?

If nothing else, Rodriguez has to show he’s a team player in the eyes of his colleagues by forcing Selig’s hand.

I want the game clean, just as Selig does, but I wonder if the evidence he has is real or myth. The man is a used car salesman. He made his fortune bluffing. This isn’t a regular court where discovery must be turned over to the defense. This has the makings of a kangaroo court.

If Selig is relying on circumstantial evidence and has no witnesses other than Bosch, he’s playing a game of chicken with the players, and so far the players are blinking. They are doing so because they don’t feel any backing from the union.

Rodriguez has long been accused of being a selfish player, and rightfully so. However, in this case Rodriguez must contest Selig to make him show his cards. And, the union, if it wants to continue being a viable force, must go to bat for these guys. If Rodriguez contests this he will be doing his fellow players more than just a favor.

Defending the Biogenesis players seems ridiculous on the surface if the intent is to clean up the sport. However, there’s a right way to do things, and because of that the union must contest the suspensions to ensure proper due process protocols are followed.

The union must stand up to Selig to show it is still a viable force and won’t capitulate at everything the owners and commissioner wants, because what they want isn’t always in the game’s best interest, but their own financial gains.

ON DECK: Jenrry Mejia and game preview.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos