baseball gods productions

Thoughts about baseball, from the perspective of sports psychology and the role of sports in society. It includes team and player analysis, predictions, and what I think needs to be changed in Major League Baseball. Brought to you from the heart of baseball, Brooklyn, by baseball gods productions.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

First glimpse of the 2006 Mets

Since I gave up my cable TV in March, I have not had a chance to watch any baseball until today, Easter Sunday. Happily, the joy of listening to baseball on the radio has not diminished over time, and I have been able to keep up with the Mets (and the Yankees) the old-fashioned way. Although I miss the efficiency and high-tech wizardry of watching a three hour baseball game in a DVR-compressed two hours, I have to say that I can live just fine without cable TV, and not miss too much of the baseball season.

My impressions of the Mets so far are probably about the same as most baseball writers: they look good; this isn't a fluke. The Mets certainly look like a playoff team, and the rest of the league looks mediocre enough to pave the way for the Mets to at least win the wild card, and very possibly more. My earlier comments about Leo Mazzone seem to be right on target, and the answer so far is that the Braves miss him a lot more than they probably expected.

Changes I would like to see include recalling Heath Bell and Pedro Feliciano, to replace Jorge Julio and Darren Oliver, and recalling Jeff Keppinger to replace Jose Valentin, whom I would like to see released. I would like to give Kaz Matsui a few weeks in Triple A, to let him earn a major league job the right way, based on performance rather than reputation in Japan. I would also give him some time at 3B, and even the outfield, to see if he can become a utility player. I would be really surprised if he ever became a good everyday major league second baseman, especially in NY. He needs to play somewhere he is appreciated, and that won't be here anytime soon unless he rediscovers his previous magic from Japan.

These suggestions are pretty minor, in the big picture, and indicate how good the team is. Most teams right now have a lot more than three current major leaguers who belong in Triple A. The entire Kansas City pitching staff probably belongs in the minor leagues, which is why the Yankees' sweep means very little.

One prediction: Gary Sheffield and Barry Bonds will not be playing with the Yankees and Giants in September, one way or another. Sheffield is heading for some kind of meltdown, and Bonds has already melted down. All the steroids in the world won't bring Barry Bonds back to his old/young self, with the kind of physical deterioration that prematurely ended Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa's careers.

Steroids are not the fountain of youth they at first appear to be; at the same time they are preserving or increasing youthful power, they are wearing away connective tissue much faster than natural aging, leading to dramatic physical declines like we are seeing now. The whole controversy over Bonds passing Ruth and Aaron may be moot, because he may never hit another homerun. Or, and it wouldn't surprise me that much, he could quit suddenly, or even take his own life, once he realizes that he no longer has his awesome performance to count on, to counteract all the unpleasantness he has brought upon himself over his long career.

My only sadness about the crumbling of Bonds' career is that he passed the immortal Willie Mays on the all-time homerun list before his body started falling apart. The good thing about Bonds' homerun chase is that it is giving even more attention to the accomplishments of the great triumvirate of power: Mays, Ruth, and Aaron.


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