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.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mid-August Report

The next six weeks of baseball are going to very interesting for the two New York teams. Steve Phillips has predicted that neither the Mets or Yankees will make the post-season this year, and I think he might be right. The Yankees need to show that they can win series against teams like Detroit and the Angels, and that their recent hot streak was not another tease.

The Mets look tired, and shocked that other teams can keep clawing away until they come back. The game last night was possibly a microcosm of the whole season, get out to an early lead, and then watch the other team creep back, and end up on top after a complete bullpen breakdown. The Mets season may well depend on how Pedro Martinez does in his comeback. That could be asking too much from their future Hall-of-Fame pitcher.

The player that personifies the Mets season so far is definitely Carlos Beltran. He is one of the most talented players to ever play the game. There isn't a skill he doesn't have; his speed, defense, and power are top-of-the-line, and he makes the game look easy. However, he also does not run hard when he assumes there won't be a play, he gets skittish when he might collide with another player when chasing a fly ball, and he does not seem to want the responsibility of leading by his actions and words. Since he joined the Mets, there have been at least 3 times where he had a seemingly minor injury, and ended up on the DL a week later, costing the team all those games playing a man short because he couldn't play with pain.

What the Mets need more than anything is for Beltran to continue his hot streak, play every day, and find his inner leader. He needs to show some passion for winning, and the rest of the team needs to develop some killer instinct before they find themselves in third place in the NL East.

I expected the Braves and Mets to be neck-and-neck all year, and thought that the difference would be the Mets' willingness to spend money at the trade deadline to upgrade their weak spots. As it turned out, the Braves were the ones who upgraded, and the Mets only addressed one weakness by replacing Ruben Gotay with Luis Castillo. While Castillo is a pro, and brings a lot to the team, Gotay wasn't exactly their major problem. He was one of the few players who brought energy to the team, and his hitting was phenomenal.

I still have big problems with the way Willie Randolph uses his bullpen, and last night was a good example. Pedro Feliciano is one of their three best relievers, and he has pitched to one batter in the last week. Guillermo Mota is allowed to put runner after runner on base, and Willie stays with him, but as soon as Feliciano puts one guy on, that's it. Feliciano can't get out of his slump by pitching to one guy a week. And last night, it looked like Feliciano hates Randolph so much that he doesn't want to play for him anymore. His expression when Randolph took him out was scary. I don't blame him; I just hope he can work his way back to where he was the past two seasons, because the Mets need him desperately.

Guillermo Mota should not pitch with a small lead, in any inning, in any game that is important. He isn't a good pitcher, simple as that. Righty, lefty, eventually it comes down to whether someone can get out hitters, and he can't do it well enough to justify the situations he is being used in.

So far, the Yankees have done a good job handling adversity, and have mounted an impressive attempt to get back in the playoff chase. I still don't see them passing Boston, but obviously the wild card is there for the taking. My hunch is that they will fall just short. They've won mostly because of their offense, with just about everyone hot at the same time. This never lasts, and once a few guys cool off, the pitching will be the deciding factor, and not in a good way.

One interesting thought is that Joba Chamberlain, who is pencilled in as a starter next year, should become the next closer. Rivera has not pitched like his dominant self all year, not just this week, and he doesn't have a contract for next year. He might not be worth what he will command in salary, and the Yankees may make a bold move by getting rid of him a little too soon, rather than way too late. If anyone is suited to closing, it's this Chamberlain kid. Even I'm rooting for him, because I'm a sucker for a great back story.

Caroms Off the Wall

Congratulations to Rick Ankiel on his amazing return to the big leagues. I truly hope he can sustain it, and become a successful every day player. It will all depend on his ability to handle all the attention. I hope he is mentally prepared for the tremendous response he will get everywhere he goes.

© Judy Kamilhor 2007


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