Oct 27

World Series notebook ….

Expect to see the Phillies use Raul Ibanez as the DH for at least Game 1 of the World Series against lefty CC Sabathia.

GIRARDI: Has some decisions to make.

GIRARDI: Has some decisions to make.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi is undecided about going with a three-game rotation. Chad Gaudin could get a start in Game 4. No doubt, Girardi might be thinking he’s pressing his luck by going with Sabathia on three days rest again.

Girardi also said the Eric Hinske could be activated for the Series. The Yankees may also opt to add a reliever. To accommodate, the Yankees would likely go back to carrying two catchers instead of three.

POSADA: Still wants to catch Burnett.

POSADA: Still wants to catch Burnett.

Jose Molina is still on for starting behind the plate to catch AJ Burnett. Don’t expect the Yankees to use Jorge Posada as the DH when Molina catches because if he has to replace him behind the plate the Yankees would lose the DH.

After a horrendous regular season in which he blew 11 save opportunities, Brad Lidge returned to form in the playoffs with three saves and a victory without giving up a run. A strong Lidge gives the Phillies a similar presence to what the Yankees enjoy with Mariano Rivera. Of course, nobody matches Rivera, but if Lidge is on his game and the Phillies lead late, the odds are against a blown save that would bring Rivera into the game.

Oct 27

Pedro gets the ball in Game #2

There wasn’t much surprise to the announcement when you consider some of the variables. Pedro Martinez will start Game 2 in New York because, 1) he’s pitched better than Cole Hamels recently, 2) he used to pitching in hostile Yankee Stadium, and 3) Hamels pitches better at home than on the road.

Martinez pitched seven shutout innings in a no-decision to the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLCS. He is 8-4 with a 2.95 ERA in 16 regular-season starts and 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two postseason starts at Yankee Stadium while with Boston. The most memorable of those games was Game 7 in 2003 when Grady Little stuck with him in the eighth inning with a three-run lead. The Yankees tied it and eventually won on Aaron Boone’s homer.

MARTINEZ: Money pitcher gets the ball in Game 2.

MARTINEZ: Money pitcher gets the ball in Game 2.


Undoubtedly, there will be the “who’s your daddy chants,” in reference to a statement Martinez made about the Yankees being his daddy.

Martinez vs. the Yankees is one of the more intriguing storylines of this World Series, made so because the veteran pitcher is a grinder and the expectations are of a close game. And, in the Series, you’ll always take close because you never know what might happen. Back then, the Red Sox were snake bit by the Yankees with the Curse and all, but there’s none of that with the Phillies.

“He’s been in the big moment, and I think that his performance the other day in Dodger Stadium, how good he pitched, he deserves another chance to go back out there,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Martinez. “I think he’s still got quite a bit left. I was watching those playoff games that he pitched in [for the Red Sox]. I noticed his velocity on his fastball was sitting at like 87 to 91 mph.

“He was even better than that over there at Dodger Stadium. He knows how to pitch. He uses all of his pitches. His command is absolutely outstanding. He doesn’t rely on throwing the ball by people anymore. He’s a pitcher.”

While it is true Martinez has pitched well for Philadelphia, it must not be overlooked he’s worked a minimum of innings and is fresher than he normally would be this late in the season. To look at Martinez’s success it is easy to say the Mets made a mistake, but it must be remembered, 1) he did have an injury history with the Mets, 2) Martinez did not want to come back in the secondary role he eventually settled with in Philly, and 3) the Mets had expectations from their rotation that never materialized.

I thought the Mets did the right thing with Martinez in not bringing him back. It was time to move younger, but who knew Maine, Pelfrey and Perez would all hit the skids for one reason or another?

As well as he pitched for the Phillies, the full season work load will still be a question when he goes on the free-agent market this winter. Martinez has given indications he wants to continue, but should he pitch well in the playoffs and the Phillies win, he might find it a good time to call it quits when he’s on top.

Oct 26

Mets’ nightmare comes true ….

The worst case scenario for Mets’ fans of a World Series between their two greatest rivals – the Yankees and Phillies – has reached fruition.

The Mets were left eating the dust of both, and they don’t appear to be in position to challenge either any time soon.

New York City, which some have argued is a National League town, belongs totally to the Yankees, who are in their 40th World Series seeking their 27th championship. Four World Series; two titles for the Mets.

YANKEES: Always the Mets' yardstick.

YANKEES: Always the Mets' yardstick.


The National League, for the second straight season, is owned by Philadelphia, seeking to become the first repeat champion since the Yankees, 1998-2000.

Many fans I speak to say they won’t watch, saying they don’t know whom to hate more. Selfishly, that’s not good news for me and the blog. Hopefully, the “baseball fan” in them will tune in.

However, the Mets and their fans, instead of lamenting their closed window, which slammed shut after a second straight September collapse in 2008, should step back and learn from their two tormentors.

The Mets, and probably nobody else, will match the October success the Yankees built over the last century. So what? What’s important is now.

Both teams opened new stadiums this summer, but the Yankees brought with them a revamped and retooled team. The Yankees took care of multiple needs last winter and added power in Mark Teixeira and pitching in CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett. The Mets, also having multiple needs, but addressed only the bullpen with the belief things will get better with a veteran closer.

Rarely does it work that way, as building one area of a team doesn’t address the other voids. Watch, win or lose over the next week, the Yankees will address their team aggressively in the offseason. They know they don’t have enough starting pitching; they know there are bullpen questions; the outfield is an issue with the possible departures of Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon.

The difference between the Yankees and Mets is that the team in the Bronx has a mission statement every season of WINNING the World Series. Getting there is not enough. And, please, let’s not hear about the Yankees’ unlimited resources. The Mets’ payroll is also formidable, but their approach is not nearly as aggressive.

PHILLIES: The team to beat.

PHILLIES: The team to beat.


As for the Phillies, they’ve also been more aggressive in filling holes than the Mets. The Phillies have a home grown core (Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins) as do the Mets (David Wright and Jose Reyes), but Philadelphia has been superior in filling its holes (Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez and Cliff Lee).

The Phillies will not stand still, even should they repeat. Unlike the Mets, the Phillies have the minor league resources to package should they decide to pursue Roy Halladay. The Yankees, of course, have always been known to be willing to part with minor league talent to win immediately.

Compounding the Mets’ dilemma with the Phillies, is that they aren’t their only competition in the National League East. Both Florida and Atlanta improved this season to overtake the Mets.

Both the Phillies and Mets, from the front office to the dugout, have a mindset beyond that of the Mets’ thinking, which gives the appearance of settling to become competitive.

The Mets had a good year at the gate, drawing 3.1 million (averaging 38,000), which was seventh in the majors (the Yankees and Phillies finished 2-3). However, rave reviews for Citi Field aren’t what’s important in the big picture. To keep drawing, and even increasing attendance is dependent on the quality of the product on the field.

Eventually, Citi Field will stop becoming a fan magnet, which is what happened in Baltimore and Cleveland when the Orioles and Indians hit the skids. Citi Field is too expensive, and New York City offers so many other diversions, for fans to keep coming out of curiosity.

Right now, Mets’ fans should only be curious about one thing: What is their team going to do to close the gap on the Phillies and Yankees?

Oct 22

Slogan stealing ….

Yes, Tug McGraw coined “Ya Gotta Believe,” during the 1973 pennant race. And, yes, the Phillies are using it now.

Question: Who cares?

YA GOTTA BELIEVE

YA GOTTA BELIEVE


Yes, that was a part of Mets Lore, a part in which a team barely over .500 snuck into the World Series. But, it was a Series they lost (yes, Yogi started the wrong guy in the end). However, I don’t recall either McGraw or the Mets copywriting the slogan. Fact is, McGraw re-used the slogan in 1980 while with the Phillies.

So what if Phillies’ fans are using it? Isn’t imitation the most sincerest form of flattery?

I find it puzzling Mets’ fans would be upset by this. Afterall, we’re talking about a slogan nearly 40 years old. In that span, the Phillies have won two World Series and the Mets only one.

I believe Mets fans should be more upset the Phillies have the superior team rather than them using a tired slogan.

Oct 19

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: LA teams hoping to delay winter.

By midnight tonight winter could be on the doorstep of both Los Angeles teams, as the Angels and Dodgers each hope to avoid a third loss in their LCS match-ups against the Yankees and Phillies, respectively.

WEAVER: Holds Angels' hopes.

WEAVER: Holds Angels' hopes.


The Angels will send Jered Weaver to the mound to stave off the Yankees’ offense, but in reality, the ALCS has been about their inability to play clean ball as opposed to New York’s bats. Game 1 featured three errors and their should have been four; Game 2 watched the Angels’ bullpen kick away the lead.

The Angels, a team noted for playing crisp, alert baseball and being able to hold their own against the Yankees, has been an enigma in the first two games. To advance, the Angels know they must return to the Bronx, but they also know they can be done by tomorrow night.

Torii Hunter also knows the Angels need a short memory.

“We’ve got to calm it down and have some fun,” Hunter said. “You’ve got to have amnesia, and you’ve got to let the past go. … (Against the Yankees) you can try to play too much. You can let that history get in your mind, and their payroll, and you really try to do too much. We have to block that out and play our game.”

Angels manager Mike Scioscia remains confident despite his team’s spotty play.

“We know this thing can turn in a heartbeat,” Scioscia said. “If we win Game 3, we’ve got a different vibe in this series, and that’s what you want to create.”

PETTITTE: Money pitcher goes for Yankees.

PETTITTE: Money pitcher goes for Yankees.

However, they’ll have to do it against Andy Pettitte, a money pitcher going after a record 16th postseason victory.

Pettitte won all but one of those games for Joe Torre, currently the manager of the reeling Dodgers, who were blown out, 11-0, in Game 3 of the NLCS Sunday night. The Dodgers also need a short memory.

“You never want to get your rear end kicked,” Torre said. “But, you don’t toss and turn and wonder if you made the right move. It’s still only one game and we’re in position to tie the series tomorrow.”

That move Torre was talking about was starting Hiroki Kuroda over Randy Wolf. Kuroda didn’t make it out of the second.

WOLF: A future Met?

WOLF: A future Met?


Wolf, whom the Mets by-passed last winter, but might get another chance this offseason.

“They have a very solid lineup, from top to bottom,” Wolf said of the Phillies, his former team. “You know, you’ve got to be really on your game against this lineup because not only do they have guys that hit the ball out of the park, but they have very patient hitters, as well.”

Red hot is Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who has six RBI in the series and is batting .385 (10 for 26) with 12 RBI overall in the playoffs.