Jul 29

Phillies add Lee ….

While the Mets were fighting with reporters and embarrassing themselves, the Philadelphia Phillies were doing everything they could to wrap up the NL East and possibly their second World Series title.

While there are no guarantees, the Phillies did real good this afternoon by adding AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee along with outfielder Ben Francisco for four minor leaguers.

The sobering news to the Mets and the rest of the NL is the Phillies didn’t have to part with top prospects pitchers J.A. Happ and Kyle Drabek or outfielders Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor, whom the Blue Jays were asking for in exchange for Roy Halladay.

Lee, 31 next month, has a 3.14 ERA with just 33 walks in 152 innings. He will make $8 million in 2010, then be eligible for free agency. Lee said he’ll likely test the FA market, but who is to say if he wins a World Series title or two?

The Indians have now traded the 2008 and 2007 Cy Young Award winners (CC Sabathia).

The deal speaks volumes between the differences of the Phillies and Mets, notably the depth in the minor league system and the aggressiveness of the front offices.

The Phillies were superior before the trade and widened the gap. The Mets will need a monumental offseason just to close it a bit, and from where they stand now that’s not going to happen.

They’ve won four straight and are in contention for the wild card, but there are too many teams ahead of them to leap frog and they don’t have the chips to make much of a wild card run. And, even if they get their injured players back they have a long way to go.

The Mets can’t improve themselves now to make much of a dent. Their opportunity was two months ago when the cracks were starting to show.

This trade should be an awakening to the Mets their window of contention since 2006 is barely a crack if it hasn’t slammed shut and they have a lot of work to do.

Jul 05

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #81; Phillies go for sweep.

The Mets (39-41) close their three game series with the Phillies (41-37) today the way many of us though they would, by trying to avoid being swept. They have Johan Santana going for them, but that’s not the `get out of jail free card,’ it used to be.

Santana is 9-6 with a 3.34 ERA. He is coming off a bad start last Tuesday in Milwaukee in which he gave up five earned runs on nine hits in six innings. Since June 2, he isĀ 2-3 with a 6.19 ERA. Very mortal numbers.

Today’s line-up vs. Phillies RP Joe Blanton (4-4, 5.08):

Alex Cora, SS

Daniel Murphy, 1B

David Wright, 3B

Ryan Church, RF

Nick Evans, LF

Jeremy Reed, CF

Brian Schneider, C

Luis Castillo, 2B

Johan Santana, LP

Jul 03

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #79; Phillies – nuf said.

CHAT ROOM

CHAT ROOM

With the way the Mets have played lately, they are very fortunate to go into Philadelphia within a whisper of the Phillies. Had the World Champs played like it, they could have a seven-game lead by now.

Livan Hernandez (5-3, 4.04 ERA), who has lost his last two outings, will start for the Mets. Hernandez has gone at least seven innings in six of his last eight starts, and he needs to do more of the same because the bullpen is now a shaky issue. Hernandez is 10-8 with a 3.36 ERA in 24 career starts against the Phillies.

Rodrigo Lopez (0-0, 0.00 ERA) starts for the Phillies. He is making his first Major League appearance since 2007 when he was with the Rockies.

Here’s tonight’s line-up:

Alex Cora, SS
Daniel Murphy, 1B
David Wright, 3B
Gary Sheffield, RF
Ryan Church, CF
Fernando Tatis, 2B
Nick Evans, LF
Brian Schneider, C
Livan Hernandez, RP

Jun 24

About Last Night ….

All those good feelings harnessed with Monday’s victory have been washed away by the rain. Getting two hits against Joel Pineiro will do that to a team. For a team not getting consistently good pitching, the Mets can’t afford to waste a strong performance such as the one Livan Hernandez gave them last night.

Three-fourths of the core is gone, and the last one standing – David Wright – is hitting, but without power. Consistent run production is lacking and there’s little help on the horizon. Gary Sheffield hasn’t played in three days, and that they are relying on his aching 40-year-old legs doesn’t do much on the optimism meter.

It was Pineiro last night. He was stifling and the Mets did little to work the count. Not that it would have mattered anyway because he was usually ahead.

The Mets must now play for one run whenever they get the chance, and they don’t get many. Bunt, hit-and-run, steal, hit behind the runner, take the extra base, work the count. Now, more than ever, the must play fundamental offense because they don’t have the eraser that can wipe it all clean with one swing.

As well as they played Monday, they still could have lost. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them lose tonight and even tomorrow with Johan Santana, who hasn’t been a sure thing since the San Francisco game a half-dozen or so starts ago.

The Mets have been extremely fortunate to be only 2.5 games behind the Phillies with how they have played this month. They could easily be seven or eight behind if the Phillies could win at home.

I get this gnawing feeling about the Mets, the same one I got the last two years, that they have this warped belief they can turn it on at will once they get all their parts back. It doesn’t work that way.

These are the Mets’ cards and they have to play them. They have to play as if there’s no help coming, because, after all, we don’t know if there is.

Jun 10

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #57; Hamels for Phils, you know the story line.

CHAT ROOM

CHAT ROOM

Coming to you from my local library as the cable – and with it, Internet access – are out. They’ve been out for most of the afternoon. Unfortunately, I can’t make it to Citi Field tonight. So, I wanted to set up the Chat Room and hope I’ll be online shortly.

Cole Hamels goes tonight for the Phillies, and you know he’ll hear it from the crowd for his “chokers” comments about the Mets. I heard the original interview and much has been made out of nothing. That’s what the tabs are for.

Truth is, whatever label you want to put on it, the Mets kicked away the division the last two years. And, until the Mets prove they can win the Phillies will believe they can take the Mets. Very simple actually.

Last night was a tremendous game and we can only hope for something close tonight. Mike Pelfrey keeps showing breakout signs, but there’s always been a step back. Beating the Phillies will help everybody’s psyche.

Here’s tonight’s line-up:

Luis Castillo, 2B
Alex Cora, SS
Carlos Beltran, CF
Gary Sheffield, LF
David Wright, 3B
Fernando Tatis, 1B
Ryan Church, RF
Omir Santos, C
Mike Pelfrey, RP

erry Manuel will use the same lineup tonight as last night, with Luis Castillo leading off, then Alex Cora, Carlos Beltran, Gary Sheffield, David Wright, Fernando Tatis, Ryan Church, Omir Santos and Mike Pelfrey.