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, July 04, 2010

July 4th Weekend Part 2

The Mets are still ten games over .500 after a 3-4 road trip that should have been a 4-3 road trip if Francisco Rodriguez had been able to hold a two-run lead on a Saturday afternoon when 35 year old knuckleballer, R. A. Dickey, out-pitched the future Hall-of-Famer, Stephen Strasburg.

They have six games left before the All-Star break, with one off-day conveniently scheduled right in the middle of the week. If Jerry Manuel does not take advantage of the off-day to move Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana up a day, he should be fired on the spot.

vs. Cincinnati, July 5-7

vs. Atlanta, July 9-11

This accomplishes several things, including putting Takahashi back in the bullpen for the Atlanta series where he belongs for the rest of the year. It also gives Pelfrey the first start of the second half on normal rest, and keeps Santana from having eight days rest before his first start after the break. Most importantly, it gives the Mets their best chance to win at least four of the next six games going into the break, and a great chance to cut into Atlanta's lead in the NL East.

And, if the Mets manage to acquire Cliff Lee in the next few days, they could throw this trio against the Braves:



I am beginning to think I know the Mets better than Jerry Manuel. I said out loud to myself before Takahashi pitched to Ryan Zimmerman in the sixth inning today to remove Takahashi. Manuel left him in to give up a three-run home run to Zimmerman. Takahashi is fairly predictable at this point, and it was clear that he had reached his expiration date after putting the first two guys on base in the sixth inning. Fortunately, they were able to hold on this time.

I also had a strong feeling that Dickey would outpitch the phenom, and I thought the Mets would win the game before it started. However, when I checked in on the CBS Sports Gametracker and saw that Rodriquez was pitching to Adam Dunn with the bases loaded, one out, and a 5-3 lead, I knew that the Mets would lose. I checked back when my subway rose above ground for a few moments, and sure enough, they lost 6-5. If I know these things, why doesn't the manager?

Beltran On His Way Back Soon

Everyone is obsessing about what the Mets should do when Beltran comes back. My solution is to make Beltran the 4th outfielder, starting him no more than four times a week until he proves he is physically capable of playing more than that. I would rest Bay once a week, Pagan twice a week, and Francoeur once or twice a week, allowing Beltran to start four games and Chris "The Animal" Carter to start once.

Of course, injuries and slumps will force some adjustments, but I don't think Beltran should play every day, because he will just get hurt again. He has arthritis, which doesn't actually go away. Playing him four days a week should keep him fresh and productive the rest of the way, which is all the Mets need from him.

Catching a Break

Here's how the catching should work for the next few week at least. Barajas obviously needs more rest than he has been getting. He is a hitter that needs to be fresh in order to produce, and with the extra catcher on the roster, there is no reason to burn out Barajas.

Josh Thole has shown that he can hit well enough to stay in the major leagues, and he has also shown, surprisingly to me, anyway, that he is the best at catching R. A. Dickey. From here on out, Thole should absolutely be Dickey's personal catcher, and should maybe start one other game a week, and spend the rest of the time as an ace pinch hitter.

So, I would start Barajas four times a week at the most, with Blanco and Thole splitting the other games, depending on the Mets' starter and the other team's starter. I like Blanco catching Pelfrey and Santana whenever possible, and Barajas catching Niese all the time.

Caroms Off the Wall

I will be very satisfied if the Mets can win 4+ games going into the All-Star break, and stay ahead of the Phillies. And I'd be more satisfied if the Mets can pull off a couple of brilliant trades in the next few weeks to bolster the rotation and bullpen. As it is, they are adding an All-Star in Carlos Beltran without having to surrender any prospects or money. That's better than most teams will be able to do.

© Judy Kamilhor 2010

Saturday, July 03, 2010

July 4th Weekend

To get Cliff Lee or not to get Cliff Lee, that is one question. If/when Lee becomes available, the Mets should be right there with a good offer, including one blue chip prospect (Jenrry Mejia or Wilmer Flores), a couple of other lesser prospects, and the willingness to pay Lee's remaining salary. This is one of those times when the team is actually one or two players away from a possible playoff run, and if they can add those pieces without destroying their prospect pool, they should do it.

In addition to Lee, the Mets need a guy like Joaquin Soria to be the "8th inning guy" that Jerry Manuel craves. I love the idea of having two closers, so that you can use one in crucial situations and the other in save situations. I'm not a big fan of the current bullpen usage and terminology; I prefer having guys that pitch when I want them to pitch, and do well in all situations. There is way too much specialization going on, without much to show for it.

The Mets have managed to get rid of some of the non-productive players that they started the season with, but there are still three I'd like to see leave. Luis Castillo has limped his way to oblivion, and the Mets need to release him as soon as he is ready to come off the DL. Oliver Perez and John Maine should be right behind him, although there is a chance that some team would be willing to trade for Maine.

I said it in Spring Training, and I'll say it again, I wonder how long it will be before Ruben Tejada is the team's best choice at second base. I'd say that time is now. Having Tejada at 2B makes the team younger, faster, better defensively, and it forces Jose Reyes to become more of a mentor than a student. Not that Tejada needs to learn that much, because his baseball instinct is actually better than Reyes'.

Chris "The Animal" Carter has been a breath of fresh air, and I like his bat, but I have come to the conclusion that he has the yips. The last two throws have demonstrated the problem clearly. The first was a lollypop toss that was frightening to watch. The next one--clearly after being told to fire the ball in--was at a 45 degree angle to where he was aiming, which is actually not that easy to do. I wonder if that is why Boston traded him in the first place? As much as I love The Animal, I think his future lies in the AL as a designated hitter. For now, though, I like his bat off the bench.

It's time for my favorite Japanese pitcher, Hisanori Takahashi, to be returned to the bullpen. Starting was a good opportunity for him to show what he could do, and the answer is that he can pitch really well for about three innings before the trouble starts. This is a great asset in a reliever, and a terrible one in a starter. Once the Mets get Lee (I'm trying to be optimistic here), Takahashi can go back to the pen, and the Mets have improved both areas of the pitching staff. Once they add Soria or someone like him, the bullpen becomes a possible strength, and gives them a legitimate shot at a playoff spot and maybe a chance to advance a round or two, or even more.

It's still hard to imagine Jerry Manuel leading a team to a World Series Championship, but this team has a feel about it that could lead to 1969-like magic, with young guys like Ike Davis, Mike Pelfrey, and Jon Niese leading the way. Keeping Tejada and ditching Castillo will help, and replacing Maine and Perez with Lee and Soria, will improve the odds dramatically.

Caroms Off the Wall

Is it bragging to point out that I picked Boston, Minnesota, Texas, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Colorado (just wait) to win their divisions? I had the Yankees and Philadelphia as wild card picks. All in all, my picks are doing pretty well so far, although a few years ago, my teams proceeded to collapse en masse at the end, causing me to swear off making future predictions.

© Judy Kamilhor 2010