Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How To Cope With Being Oliver Perez

Oliver Perez. The two words strung together in a sentence are enough to make a Met fan long for the days of Mel Rojas. To say Oliver Perez has been ineffective this since signing his three-year, $36 million contract would be an understatement. Ineffectiveness would be an improvement over the guano we've gotten from El Perez-idente.

Here are some quick numbers on the Mets' $36 million man:

Since signing his deal, Oliver Perez has won a total of three games, or three more than I have. In 110 innings, he has allowed 224 base runners, of which 95 reached via the walk and seven were hit by pitches. On every tenth pitch or so, when Oliver Perez has found the strike zone, opposing hitters have sent that pitch into orbit. Perez has allowed 21 home runs in those 110 innings, including the home run by Brian McCann last night.

Oliver Perez was sent to the bullpen and made his first relief appearance for the Mets on May 19. Since becoming a reliever, his ERA is 9.28. He's faced 57 batters and 28 of them have reached base (.491 on-base percentage). Perez has thrown a total of 233 pitches to those 57 batters, of which only 30 of them were called strikes. A whopping 107 of those pitches were called balls. Yet the Mets continue to keep this man on their active roster, paying him what has amounted to approximately $24,000 per strike. If a starting pitcher making 35 starts in a season got paid $24,000 per start, he'd earn $840,000 per year, or more than double what Cardinals' starting pitcher Jaime Garcia is being paid this year (Garcia is 12-6 with a 2.33 ERA and a $400,000 annual salary). Perez is earning that amount FOR EXTRA STRIKE HE HAS THROWN!

Let's just say that if Oliver Perez were spotted going to the bathroom at Citi Field, he'd be booed there as well (and then he'd miss the urinal). However, Ollie should take comfort in that he's not the first Met to be booed just for being alive. Studious Metsimus caught up with some of these former Mets to ask them for their feelings on what it was like to be booed during their time in New York.

Armando Benitez

I don't remember them booing me. In fact, I remember one time in an extra-inning game, I balked Jose Reyes to second base, then balked him home, then gave up a walk-off homer to Carlos Delgado. I didn't hear a single boo that night. Oh wait, I was on the Giants then?

Braden Looper

Why would you think they were booing me? All I heard every time I came into a game was LOOOOOOOO, because my last name is Looper.

Art Howe

I'm still confused why fans ever booed me. I was a great manager for the Oakland A's. I even gave Eric Valent a shot to play when no one else did and what did he do? He hit for the cycle! The Mets respected him so much that they didn't give away his #57 jersey to anyone until this guy named Johan came over.

Kaz Matsui

They had two reasons to boo me. First, I could never live up to the legend that was Tsuyoshi Shinjo. Second, I disgraced the #25, a number that belonged to Mets superstar and World Series of Poker fan Bobby Bonilla. Maybe I should make it up to him by finally allowing him to show me the Bronx.

Bobby Bonilla

I can't believe the Mets would give my number to that Mat-phooey guy. They should have retired my number! I was the MVP of the 1993 team! Now leave me alone. I have a card game to focus on.

So Oliver Perez is not alone when it comes to being booed at Shea Stadium/Citi Field. It's not just the guys above who have been booed. We tried getting in touch with George Foster but he was doing some motivational speaking for the Doug Sisk Fan Club. Mel Rojas was also unavailable because he was tending bar at Paul O'Neill's Pub.

Oliver Perez may not be wanted in New York, but he is not the first player to go through this. Ollie can look on the bright side. Next year, he'll probably be paid about half a million dollars per sunflower seed he spits out.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

PNC Park: The House That Sid Bream Built

This past weekend, the Studious Metsimus / My Summer Family World Tour touched down in the Iron City, Pittsburgh, hoping to see the Mets win a series at a ballpark they've not had much success in (13-15 at PNC Park since it opened its mustard colored doors in 2001).

The trip there was long and filled with Cracker Barrel meals, but after what seemed like days, we finally made it to The House That Sid Bream Built.

Excuse me? The House That Sid Bream Built? In a city known for its steel workers and some football team that plays in Ketchup Field (which probably explains why the Pirates play in a mustard colored park), why would Sid Bream get the credit for building the stadium? Please allow us to elaborate for you.

Sidney Eugene Bream (no relation to Dwight Eugene Gooden and Darryl Eugene Strawberry) was sent to the Pirates by the Dodgers in 1985 to complete a deal in which four-time National League batting champion Bill Madlock was shipped off to Los Angeles. Bream was stuck playing first base, a position that was on lockdown due to the emergence of legendary Dodger first baseman Greg Brock, who hit all of .233 in his five Bream-repelling seasons in the City of Angels.

Once he arrived in Pittsburgh, he was part of a team that rose from the catacombs of the NL East (57-94 in 1985) to the division champions they became in 1990 (95-67). He formed a nucleus that included some of the most well-known Pirates in franchise history, like Jose Lind, Sammy Khalifa and Orlando Merced.

With Sid Bream anchoring the infield, the Pirates looked like a dynasty in the making. The supporting cast of Barry Bonds* and Bobby Bonilla served as fine complementary pieces to the team, but the glue that kept it together was Sid Bream.

However, after five and a half years in Pittsburgh, Sid Bream was due to become a free agent, and the $510,000 he was being paid by the Pirates just wasn't enough to keep the glue sticking to the team. With the Pirates deciding that the future at first base was the hitting machine known as Orlando Merced, Bream was deemed expendable.

Although the Atlanta Braves were a horrible team in 1990, Bream decided to go where the money was, and Atlanta had the green for him. Bream signed a three-year deal to play first base for the Braves and was paid far more money than he would have gotten to stay in Pittsburgh ($5.6 million over the three years).

The move appeared to benefit both Bream's former team and his new team. Orlando Merced hit .275, with 10 HR and 50 RBI in his first full season as a Pirate, finishing second in the NL Rookie of The Year balloting, robbed of his glory by some guy named Jeff Bagwell. Bream was the starting first baseman on the worst-to-first Braves and was part of a team that helped defeat the Pirates in the 1991 NLCS.

The defining moment of Bream's career came in the 1992 NLCS, also against the Pirates. After his Braves held a commanding 3-1 series lead in the NLCS, the Bucs stormed back, blowing out Atlanta in Games 5 and 6. Their convincing victories (7-1 in Game 5 and 13-4 in Game 6) gave Pittsburgh hope that they would finally make it to the World Series for the first time since 1979, after falling just short in 1990 and 1991. Everything looked set for the Pirates' first pennant in thirteen years when they took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 7. Then poop happened, and Sid Bream was one of the fecal, I mean, focal points of the rally.

Starting pitcher Doug Drabek had been in complete command over the first eight innings of Game 7 and manager Jim Leyland decided to keep him in the game for the ninth inning. The former Cy Young Award winner was still the ace of the staff, leading the Pirates with 15 wins and a 2.77 ERA during the 1992 season.

However, Drabek had not been particularly effective against lefties in 1992 (.261 batting average for lefties against Drabek in '92, as opposed to a .189 batting average for righties) and the Braves had two of the best left-handed hitters in the game leading off the ninth inning in Terry Pendleton and David Justice.

Pendleton led off the inning with a double, bringing up the power-hitting David Justice, who represented the tying run. Drabek got Justice to hit a ground ball to the normally sure-handed Jose Lind at second base. However, there was nothing normal about what happened next.

Feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders (or maybe it was his batting helmet), Lind booted the routine grounder, allowing Justice to reach base. After a walk to our hero (Mr. Bream) loaded the bases, the night was over for Drabek. Although the Pirates were still up 2-0, the lead was precarious at best, with the tying run in scoring position and the winning run on first base in the form of Sid Bream, who reportedly once beat former track star Bill Buckner in a race.

Stan Belinda was called upon to put out the fire started by Drabek and Lind. His first batter, Ron Gant, hit a sacrifice fly to plate the first run and cut the Pirates' lead in half. A walk to Damon Berryhill reloaded the bases for Brian Hunter, but Belinda got Hunter to pop up to the shortstop, Jay Bell, for the second out of the inning.

The Braves were down to their last out and the Pirates had visions of champagne dancing in their heads, especially when the Braves were forced to call upon seldom-used Francisco Cabrera to pinch-hit in the most crucial at-bat of the series.

Cabrera lined a base hit to left that fell in front of Barry Bonds*. The tying run had scored. Chugging around third was Sidney Eugene Bream, hoping to score around Popeye's #1 fan (the restaurant, not the cartoon), Mike LaValliere. Bonds*' throw was slightly up the first base line. Bream slid at the same time that LaValliere threw his ample body at the plate in an attempt to block it. In a bang-bang play, Bream scored the winning run, sending the Braves back to the World Series and the Pirates back to the steel mills.

So let's get back to the title of this blog, in the event that you're still awake. Why do we call PNC Park "The House That Sid Bream Built"?

Well, when the Mets defeated the Pirates on Friday night, it gave the Pirates their 82nd loss of the season. This clinched their record-setting 18th consecutive losing season. Doing the math, that means their last winning season was in that fateful 1992 season.

After the Pirates dismantled their team following their devastating loss to the Braves in the 1992 NLCS, their attendance at Three Rivers Stadium plummeted. After finishing 7th in attendance in 1992, the Pirates never finished higher than 12th in the years following '92. The team knew they had to do something to bring the fans back into the ballpark, since the product on the field wasn't doing the job.

Thus the idea of PNC Park was born. Once Sid Bream crossed the plate in 1992, he set in motion the events that would lead to the beautiful park on the banks of the Allegheny River. Had Sid Bream been thrown out at the plate in Game 7, perhaps the Pirates would have won the game in extra innings. Perhaps Barry Bonds* wouldn't have bolted for San Francisco, home of BALCO. Perhaps the fans would have continued to come to Three Rivers Stadium.

But Sid Bream scored that run. The Pirates didn't win the pennant. Barry Bonds* didn't stay in Steel Country and the fans didn't come out to the ballpark.

Without that run, perhaps PNC Park would not have been needed to bring the fans back to the ballpark. Sid Bream built that house with his mad dash for home plate, the same house that the Studious Metsimus / My Summer Family tour invaded this past weekend (see, it all comes full circle).

Although we didn't see any Sid Bream statues, we did see statues of Roberto Clemente and legendary Negro League players such as Cool Papa Bell, Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson.

We also saw a food court named after Pirate Hall-of-Famer Willie Stargell with Pops-themed eateries. (There was no "We Are Family" cookie stand there, because as we all know, the cookie stand is not part of the food court.)

The Mets and Pirates were dressed in throwback uniforms in honor of African-American Night. The Mets wore New York Cubans jerseys while the Pirates wore the uniforms of the old Pittsburgh Crawfords. Starting pitchers Jonathon Niese and James McDonald were kind enough to model the throwback jerseys for us when we watched them warm up in the bullpen prior to the game.

The game itself was a washout, and I mean that quite literally. The Mets had a slim 2-1 lead before David Wright hit a three-run homer to make it 5-1. During Wright's home run trot, the light drizzle that was falling throughout the game became heavier.

When the umpires realized that they had left their swim trunks and scuba gear in the hotel room, they decided to stop the game and put the tarp on the field.

After a one hour and six minute delay, Mr. Public Address Announcer told us that the game had been cancelled and that the Mets had come away with a rain-shortened victory. It was the first time the Mets had won a series on the road in a National League ballpark this season.

Unfortunately, the Mets were unable to sweep the Pirates, as Lastings Milledge and super-slugger Jose Tabata homered off Johan Santana in Sunday's series finale. At the same time, the Mets offense paid tribute to the late Three Rivers Stadium by imploding.

Lefty starter Zach Duke stifled the Mets' batters, allowing one run and five hits over his seven innings of work. That dang Duke boy had entered the game with a lowly 5-12 record and an ERA well over 5.00. But just like the Mets who played against those Sid Bream-led Pirates teams in the late '80s and early '90s, the Mets couldn't hit a Pirates lefty who had no success against any other teams in the National League.

Back then, it was the team of John Smiley, Zane Smith and Randy Tomlin who shut down the Mets and no one else. Now, it was the disciple of PSSST (Pitching School of Smiley, Smith and Tomlin) who handled the Mets.

The House That Sid Bream Built was a beautiful ballpark to visit, even if it was only for five innings. Pittsburgh embraces their history well, both Pirates history and Pittsburgh Crawfords history. The Wilpons should pay attention to that, noting that the city of Pittsburgh can be proud of their Pittsburgh Crawfords history without neglecting that the Pirates have history as well.

Pirates fans were far more polite than their counterparts across the state in Philadelphia. They did not insult fans and even suggested places to visit in the ballpark and around their city. They might not have a good team right now, but they're proud of their ballpark and their city and it showed in how they treated the "enemy" from New York.

Someday we'll go back to The House That Sid Bream built, but we will definitely do it by plane, even if it means sacrificing a trip or three to Cracker Barrel. Driving to Pittsburgh was a major chore, with traffic, poor weather, traffic, lack of scenery and traffic being the reasons why it almost became a good idea to hand over the car keys to Studious Metsimus blogger Joey Beartran.

That's it for our road trips this year. Next year, we'll go to new ballparks, eat new food and hopefully come back with more Mets victories, especially ones that take more than five innings to complete.

Thanks for reading about the latest Studious Metsimus / My Summer Family tour stop. We hope you enjoyed our wordy beyond belief blog. Although our road trips have come to an end for 2010, the Mets will play on for the next six weeks. Perhaps with one last run, similar to the one that ya gotta believe happened in 1973, we'll have a road trip in late October / early November. So let's keep on cheering for our boys in orange and blue. Ya (still) gotta believe! Let's Go Mets!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

We Believe In NOT Coming Back!

By now, some of you may have heard about the movement started by various bloggers, including the one and only Coop and the equally talented Joe Spector. Both bloggers are encouraging people to either not attend games at Citi Field or to boycott the ballpark.

Studious Metsimus would like to endorse both campaigns. The Mets led us to believe in comebacks, yet they've allowed 12 games to get away from them in walk-off fashion. The Mets decided to keep Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo around because apparently, the Mets also believe in leading the league in boos.

In addition, the Mets became road worriers instead of road warriors, continuing their woeful play away from Citi Field that they began last year, when they went 29-52 on the road. This year, the Mets are 26-40 away from home.

Last year, injuries were the excuse. So what's the excuse this year? What can they say to explain the fact that they have a 14-18 record against the six teams with losing records in the National League?

The pitching has been better than expected, with the team having pitched 18 shutouts over their first 124 games, which is better than a shutout every seven games. But when they don't shut out the opposition, the Mets are 44-62. Why is their lumber seemingly in a slumber? Has Jason Bay's concussion spread to the team's wood?

So tomorrow is the day of the Great Citi Field Sit Out. If you have tickets to the game, please don't go. You can watch the game on TV if you wish. We all know you've been waiting all season for the matchup between Pat Misch and Alex Sanabia.

But wouldn't it be great if you're watching the game on TV, seeing all those empty green seats and you hear Gary Cohen wonder aloud where everyone is? You would know exactly why. It's because the fans are fed up with the direction this team has taken.

The front office wants us to think that the Mets believe in comebacks. On the contrary. With what they've given us on the field, we believe in the exact opposite. The Studious Metsimus staff, The Coop, Joe Spector and other bloggers have spoken and the message is clear.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Missing Inaction - Please Help Oliver Perez Find Himself

Hello. This is Oliver Perez. Since I haven't been doing much, other than perfecting my sunflower seed spitting technique in the bullpen, I figured I'd try something new where my natural talents wouldn't be wasted. Therefore, I will be blogging for Studious Metsimus because all that time alone in the bullpen has made me pensive.

You see, I make $12 million a year. That alone should make the team want to use me. I'm young, have great "stuff" and have always been able to keep opposing hitters off-balance. So why doesn't Jerry Manuel want to bring me into a ballgame anymore?

I was considering putting my face on a "have you seen me?" flyer and passing them out near Citi Field, but on the first day I tried this, a man walked up to me, took a flyer, studied it carefully, then proceeded to use it to clean up after his dog.

I didn't have that much of a problem with that. After all, New York City law requires dog owners to clean up after their dogs or they could face a $100 fine. A hundred smackers was probably a lot of money for the man who took my flyer. (I wouldn't know since I make $12 million a year.) Therefore, he probably did the right thing by using the picture of my face as a toilet for his pup.

After that failed attempt at trying to decipher where I've been recently, I decided to enlist the military. I had heard they were hard at work trying to find Osama Bin Laden, so I figured I'd recruit them to determine my whereabouts so they could let Jerry Manuel know the next time he needed to warm up a pitcher in the bullpen.

But when I entered the recruiting location, I was immediately apprehended. When I asked why they were detaining me, they said I was carrying a Weapon of Mets Destruction. I denied their accusation vehemently, saying that it was Omar Minaya and the Wilpons they should be looking for, not me. It took many hours of convincing, but I finally got them to release me from their custody. Speaking of releasing, I passed by this sign on the way out of the recruiting center.

I would have asked what they meant by it, but I vaguely remember while I was in their custody one of them whispering softly into my ear, saying "don't ask, don't tell." After he gave me the full body cavity search, I decided that I wasn't going to do any asking for the rest of my time there. That included asking the significance of the sign.

Since ordinary citizens wouldn't help me and the ones we're counting on to protect our country wouldn't either, I decided to pose my question to a higher authority and went to church.

I went into the confessional, took one last nervous bite from the ball I had brought with me and proceeded to tell my story to the priest.

After I bared my soul to him, he told me to get out of his church and never show my face there again. He claimed I was asking for a miracle and that I had already been granted one when I signed the three-year deal with the Mets prior to the 2009 season.

Once again, I left a place where I thought I was going to get help, only to be rejected by those I had sought for guidance. I didn't even notice the sign outside the church before I entered but I couldn't help but notice it on my way out.

So there I was, at the end of my rope. My manager didn't want to use me as a starter and would rather use Manny Acosta to protect a one-run lead in the 14th inning of a road game against the Houston Astros. I hadn't pitched since August 1, when I gave up four runs in two innings of work against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The fans were treating me like I was the reincarnation of Doug Sisk. [Editor's note to Oliver Perez: Doug Sisk is still alive. Therefore, you cannot be his reincarnation. You're just another washed-up pitcher in denial that your skills have left you faster than David Caruso left NYPD Blue.]

I haven't been loved since...actually, I don't remember ever being loved at all. That makes me angry. Really angry. So angry I could...

Wait a minute. That's it!

Fellow reliever Francisco Rodriguez (a.k.a. Frankie Knuckles) has also not been seen near the mound in quite some time. He's living life just like me, as an outcast making an average of $12 million annually in the second season of a three-year contract. We have more in common than I ever thought possible!

I've been beaten down by dog-walkers, sweet-talking soldiers and Father Murphy. Maybe it's time I do some beating down of my own!

Therefore, I will proudly pump my left fist in the air, while joining forces with my teammate, beating down anyone who gets in our way. We've have it with all the abuse we've taken. Now it's time to dish out some pain of our own.

If the Mets aren't going to allow either of us to take the mound, then we'll take center stage somewhere else.

The team of Frankie Knuckles and El Perez-idente is leaving your precious overused bullpen (except when it came to us) and will next be seen in a ring near you, as members of Lucha Libre!

You have already seen Frankie put his knuckles to use last week at Citi Field when his girlfriend's father pushed him a little too far. Have you forgotten the days when I used to hop high into the air whenever I crossed the foul line? Those jumps and leg kicks weren't just for show. Now I'll be using them in the ring against all those who dare mock me.

Dog-walkers? Prepare to be kicked into submission. Fathers-in-law? You'll never escape the fists of fury.

The team of Frankie Knuckles and El Perez-idente will be coming to a town near you. You can run. You can hide. You can even go where we'd least expect to see you; at Citi Field. But no matter where you go and no matter what you do, you will never be able to escape the Masked Mets.

You've booed us, you're rejected us, you've made us feel uglier than George Foster in drag. Now you're going to get what's coming to you. Be afraid, Mets fans. Be very afraid.

Disclaimer: This blog was sponsored by the people (all one of them) who believe Oliver Perez Is an Underappreciated Met or O.P.I.U.M. for short. The views of the writer do not represent the views of Studious Metsimus. If they did, Studious Metsimus would lose a lot of its readers.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Players' Union Files Grievance For Frankie Knuckles

The Associated Press is reporting that the Players Association has filed a grievance against the New York Mets and the office of the commissioner. In their complaint, they are questioning how the situation with the closer/Lucha Libre aficionado has been handled by the Mets.

For those of you who have not heard or are simply choosing to ignore the story because you're too upset that the Mets would lose a game last night in which Johan Santana was matched up against Mets' castoff Nelson Figueroa, Francisco Rodriguez went Met-ieval on his girlfriend's father's @$$ (and by @$$, I mean his face). In doing so, he tore a ligament in his right thumb (that's on his pitching hand, boys and girls), requiring season-ending surgery.

Let's review this together, for all the members of the jury in attendance:

Exhibit A:
Francisco Rodriguez assaults the grandfather of his children.

Exhibit 2:
He does so at Citi Field, his place of employment.

Exhibit Tres:
The "alleged" assault takes place in full view of teammates, their young children, members of the media...or as you and I might call them, EYEWITNESSES.

Exhibit IV:
He causes a season-ending injury to himself during said "alleged" incident.

Responding to the incident, the Mets decided to place Francisco Rodriguez on the disqualified list. As a result, K-Rod will not be paid for as long as he is out with his injury and his contract will become non-guaranteed, meaning his salary for 2011 might go right back into the Wilpon's pockets if they choose to do so.

Sounds fine and dandy, right? After all, the Volatile Venezuelan was arraigned for a crime he admitted doing. So it's buh-bye for K-Rod, right?


The union says that wouldn't be fair to Frankie Knuckles if the Mets converted his contract to a non-guaranteed deal. No, their player should be paid millions of dollars while recovering from an injury he suffered while in the act of committing a crime (Oops! I mean an "alleged" crime) against a family member at his place of employment in front of the media who could then report firsthand on the public relations nightmare he just created.

Assuming the case isn't settled and has to go before an arbitrator, I fully expect the Mets to win this case. But in the event that the MLBPA wins the case for K-Rod, I have a bit of advice for the Mets' soon-to-be former closer.

Buy yourself a wheelbarrow with your pocket change. Why? Because you're going to need it to transport the millions of dollars you'll have to cough up for your "father-in-law" once he sues your save-blowing, high-pitch-throwing @$$ for "allegedly" assaulting him.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out, K-Rod. And if it does, don't hit it back. You've caused enough trouble with your "greatest hits" as it is!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jonathon Brings Hitters To Their Niese

When the season began, Jonathon Niese was supposed to be nothing more than a fifth starter on a team with established major leaguers in the rotation. Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, John Maine and Oliver Perez would lead the staff and Niese would follow.

Of course, Maine and Perez sucked and got hurt (not necessarily in that order), Pelfrey went from godsend to godforsaken and Santana slogged his way through June (four consecutive starts giving up four runs or more).

So of the original starting five, who has been the most consistent starter? None other than Jonathon Niese, the man born on the same day a fellow Mets lefty threw his glove up into the Flushing night after winning the World Series.

Entering his first full season in the major leagues, Niese was trying to help a team that had a questionable rotation. After a brutal leg injury ended his season last year, Niese was also looking to prove that he was fully recovered.

He started the season pitching like the fifth starter that he was, going 1-2 with a 4.79 through May 16. He had shown flashes of brilliance, such as his final three starts in April, when he gave up two earned runs in 18 innings, but for the most part, he was so-so over the first month and a half of the season.

Then Niese suffered a mild strain of his right hamstring and was placed on the 15-day DL. He was replaced in the rotation by R.A. Dickey while he recovered. Upon being recalled to the major leagues to start on June 5, Niese returned healthy and a changed pitcher.

Since his return, Niese (along with his injury replacement, Dickey) has been the most consistent starter in the Mets rotation. In 14 starts since his June 5 return, Niese has gone 6-3 with a 2.75 ERA. He has struck out 72 batters while walking only 24. Opposing hitters have been brought to their knees by the former fifth starter, batting at a .231 clip, while compiling a weak .290 on-base percentage.

Niese has given up one run or less in nine of those 14 starts, including his masterpiece on June 10, when he allowed only one runner to reach base against him in a complete game victory against the San Diego Padres.

Unfortunately, his success has not translated into Mets victories. He has given up one run or less in each of his last three starts, pitching to the tune of a 1.29 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP, but has not earned a victory in any of those games due to the inept Mets offense. In fact, Niese has given up one run or less 12 times this season (in only 22 starts) and has been credited with a victory in only six of them.

Despite his unfortunately inability to earn victories, Niese is still having one of the best rookie seasons for a Mets pitcher in recent years. In fact, in the 21st century, no Mets rookie pitcher has won more than nine games in his inaugural campaign. (The great Jae Seo went 9-12 as a rookie for the Mets in 2003.) With three more victories, Jonathon Niese will have the greatest season for a Mets rookie pitcher this century. That's as much a testament to Niese's fine 2010 as it is to the Mets' inability to develop a quality starter over the past 10 years.

Jonathon Niese's next start will be on Saturday in Pittsburgh, a game that will be attended by the Studious Metsimus staff. If things go according to form, Niese will pitch another great game but will be left without a victory. That would be a shame, since Niese has been one of the most consistent pitchers for the Mets this season and has definitely been the best rookie pitcher for the Mets in the early part of this century.

Jae Seo, watch out. Jonathon Niese is about to erase your name from the record books. Of course, if Niese continues to pitch as well as he has since he returned from the DL on June 5, Jae Seo might not be the only name Niese erases from the Mets record books.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mets Gazette Likes Me, They Really Like Me!

Sally Field may have said it first when she accepted her Academy Award back in 1985, but today Studious Metsimus can lay claim to that same phrase that Sally Field made famous during her Oscar acceptance speech.

With thanks to Frank Gray and all the writers at Mets Gazette, I was asked to participate in the latest edition of a Mets Gazette regular feature called "Pulsipher of The Nation". This weekly feature calls upon Mets writers/bloggers/people who make things up as they go along (Studious Metsimus makes up the latter) to discuss a current topic on the Mets.

You can click on any of the above italicized, bolded and enlarged links for more. However, if you're as lazy as Oliver Perez is when he's asked to accept a minor league assignment and you don't want to scroll up for the links, then here is the current "Pulsipher of The Nation" for you to click on.

Mets Gazette also has a Facebook fan page, located HERE. Feel free to check out the Mets Gazette site for more Mets news, reports and shenanigans. (And I'm not just saying shenanigans because it's one of the coolest words in the English language, right after "nougat" and "Oliver Perez has been released".)

Thanks again to Frank Gray for asking me to participate in the latest Pulsipher of The Nation. After spending the money for box seats at Shea Stadium for Bill Pulsipher's major league debut on June 17, 1995, thinking the ticket stub would be worth something some day, the left-handed member of Generation K has finally led to something worth smiling about.

"You like me! You really like me!"

Frankie Rodriguez Punches Out For 2010

Hope the Mets took out a good insurance policy on their RP (relief pugilist), Francisco Rodriguez. With the news that's just coming over the wire, it appears that K-Rod has punched the clock for the final time in 2010.

According to numerous sources, including Ken Belson of the New York Times, Frankie Rodriguez has a torn ligament in his right thumb (his pitching hand). The injury occurred last Wednesday during his observance of "Take Out Your Father-In-Law At Work Day".

The injury will knock him out for the rest of the season if K-Rod chooses to have surgery, as has been recommended by the team's medical staff.

There is an interesting side note to this bit of news. K-Rod has an option for $17.5 million for the 2012 season that will vest if he finishes 100 games between the 2010 and 2011 seasons. If Rodriguez does not pitch anymore this season, he will have ended his campaign with 46 games finished. That will leave him 54 games short of the number needed to trigger the vesting option for 2012.

Since this incident will probably stain him for the rest of his career, it behooves Frankie to get the surgery done so he can make the required appearances to collect his hefty payday. However, will the Mets want him around long enough for the option to kick in?

Perhaps the Mets will release him. Then again, if they haven't released Oliver Perez, who has sucked more than Jenna Jameson has, what chance do they have of releasing Frankie? A better option would be to attempt to trade him. Despite his off-the-field problems and his obvious anger management problem, K-Rod can still pitch effectively and is still young (28 years old). Is there any team that would be willing to take him, his salary and his fists of fury?

I have a suggestion that would work out for everybody involved. Why not trade him to the Texas Rangers? Since Nolan Ryan is part of the ownership team, perhaps he could teach him how to pitch more effectively. Ryan has already suggested that the team should scrap pitch counts for their pitchers and Mets fans know that Frankie has occasionally let his pitch count soar as high as his blood pressure.

The Mets can get some quality players in return and at the very worst, Ryan can teach Rodriguez the proper way to fight. After all, who better to teach how to punch someone without getting hurt in the process?

The 2010 season is spiraling out of control for the Mets, but at least they have a chance do something about it on the field. The same cannot be said for Francisco Rodriguez. He doesn't even have a fighter's chance to salvage his season and his reputation.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Joey's Soapbox: Luis Castillo Says "Get Me Out Of Here!"

Welcome to the latest edition of Joey's Soapbox. I'm your host, Joey Beartran. In today's rant, I will discuss our spoiled little second baseman, Luis Castillo. Why is he spoiled? Because yesterday, he revealed to the world that he no longer wants to be in New York.

Back in 2007, the Mets were desperate for some stability at second base after using the likes of Jose Valentin, Damion Easley and Ruben Gotay at the position. Therefore, in a move made at the trade deadline, the Mets sent Dustin Martin and Drew Butera to the Twins for Luis Castillo. In 50 games following the trade, Castillo hit .296, scoring 37 runs and stealing 10 bases. The Mets got what they expected from Castillo. In those 50 games, he gave them stability, a nice batting average, run-scoring ability and some stolen bases.

However, look at who the Twins accepted for him in the deal. Two no-names with limited futures in Martin (who dat?) and Butera (do I know you?). Three years later, Martin has still not played in the major leagues and Butera finally got called up this year for a 96 at-bat tryout in which he hit .208 for the Twins. Doesn't it look like the Twins knew Castillo was already past his prime and was not worth re-signing when he became a free agent at the end of the '07 season? If they thought he was truly valuable, wouldn't they have asked for more than "Who Dat?" and "Do I Know You?"?

Obviously, the Mets were satisfied with Castillo's performance in those 50 games with the team. Not liking any of the other free agent second basemen, they signed Castillo to a four-year, $25 million contract to be Jose Reyes' double play partner until 2011. At the time, Castillo was already 32 years old. Did the Mets really think Mr. Gimpy would play four full seasons for the team and be productive each year?

In the three years prior to signing what should be his last multi-year deal, Castillo hit .299, and averaged 82 runs and 18 stolen bases per season. Those numbers were good, but were a far cry from his numbers with the Marlins, when he hit .300 or better on four occasions, scored 90 or more runs thrice and stole at least 48 bases three times, including 2000 and 2002, when he led the league in steals both times.

It should have been clear to the Mets that they were getting a player on the downside of his career, but good ol' Mr. Minaya felt that Castillo was worthy of a contract that was as long as a presidential term.

So what have the Mets gotten in return for their investment? In 292 games with the Mets under his new contract, Castillo has hit .272 (well below his .291 career average) and has only scored 143 runs, while stealing 44 bases. The man who was supposed to be a tablesetter for the Mets, along with Jose Reyes, has averaged less than 50 runs scored per season since he joined the team and is stealing as many bases as Jason Bay. He is nothing more than a station-to-station player now, who rarely collects extra-base hits (only four doubles and two triples this season in 200 at-bats.

How much do the Mets dislike using Castillo now? They'd rather give the second base position to Ruben Tejada, who would lose a batting title to Bob Uecker and Mario Mendoza right now with his .180 batting average. Yes, Harry Doyle himself can out-hit the Mets' second basemen.

Now we have the news that Castillo wants out of New York. He's even trying to make it look like he has something to contribute to this team. Let's look at some of his quotes on the subject.
"I came here to be an everyday player and I know it's been hard with the injuries I've had, but I feel good now and thought I was playing well. I've been playing for 14 years and I've never gone through anything like this."

Never gone through anything like that? In his 12 full seasons in the majors, Castillo has missed at least 20 games in eight of them. He has been hurt more times than Oliver Perez has recorded a three-pitch strikeout. Also, after batting a career-high .334 in 2000, he dipped to .263 in 2001, striking out a career-high 90 times in the process. He's never gone through that before? Think again, Luis. You have. More than once.

"If they think that (Tejada's) the best player, that's OK. I just don't want to be a backup when I've been playing every day for my whole career."

Again, how does a man who's missed a total of 361 games over the past 11+ seasons (averaging a little over 30 games missed per season over that span) consider himself an everyday player? Having Luis Castillo on the team means you're going to need a capable backup who's going to end up playing for a least a month's worth of games every year. Perhaps Luis Castillo needs to go on the disabled list for his memory loss.
"I can't be here anymore. I know I'm not going to be here next year."

Considering Luis Castillo's track record with saying things that just aren't true, I wish he wouldn't have uttered the above quote. Does that mean we're going to have to stick it out for another year of an occasional single here and there, more whining and an eventual trip or three to the disabled list?

Castillo is so unwanted that the Cubs didn't want to trade clubhouse cancer Carlos Zambrano to the Mets for Oliver Perez and Castillo. It wasn't because the Mets were throwing in El Perez-idente. It was because Castillo was included in the deal.

So Luis Castillo wants out of New York. The feeling is mutual, my non-friend. Somehow you convinced the Mets that you were the best available second baseman on the market following the 2007 season. Now you're trying to convince them that you can still play every day. I think it's time to update your passport picture because you certainly won't be playing in the major leagues after your contract expires next year. Perhaps a team in the Far East will take you. Maybe Guam has open tryouts.

One thing is for sure. You've worn out your welcome in New York, a welcome I don't recall ever giving you to begin with. You "endeared" yourself to Mets fans with your one-armed bandit routine when you dropped the pop-up last year at Yankee Stadium. Now try to hit the jackpot again after your contract expires. Go ahead, I triple dog dare you!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Phillies Can Look But They Can't Touch

Perhaps there's something in the water in the visitor's clubhouse when the Phillies come to town or perhaps they're just not a very good hitting team away from Citizens Bank Pinball Machine, but tonight marked the fourth consecutive time the Mets shut out the Phillies at Citi Field.

R.A. Dickey was showing the Phillies his knuckleball all night and batter after batter, they failed miserably against Dickey and his floater. Only a sixth inning single by opposing pitcher Cole Hamels kept Dickey from recording the first no-hitter in franchise history. He had to settle for his first career one-hitter and the second one-hitter by a Mets pitcher this season, following Jonathon Niese's gem on June 10 against the San Diego Padres.

The Mets have now taken six out of ten games from the Phillies this year. They've shut out the Phillies five times this season, including all four games played at Citi Field. Zeroes have been the theme even in non-shutouts, as the Mets have held the Phillies scoreless in 86 of the 96 innings they've come up to bat against New York.

Let's face it. The Phillies are not the same team when they're not playing in their bandbox. They don't hit for nearly as much average or power when they're away from home. These are their home-road splits this season:

At Citizens Bank Park: .266 average, 72 HR, 304 runs scored
On the road: .254 average, 46 HR, 241 runs scored

The Mets also pitch far better at home than on the road, recording 15 of their major league-leading 18 shutouts at Citi Field.

Still, when guys like R.A. Dickey get thisclose to no-hitting the Phillies (his second scoreless outing against Philadelphia this year at Citi Field), you have to wonder about the three-time defending NL East champions. Sure, they've had their share of injuries, but regardless of who they send up to bat, the Mets have had the answer to retiring those batters in almost every circumstance, especially at Citi Field.

Tomorrow, Pat Misch will make his first start at the big league level in 2010. With the way the Phillies have been looking, but not touching, anything thrown by a Mets hurler at Citi Field this season, Misch has to be salivating at the thought of facing the once-potent Phillies lineup.

Butterflies? Not in Pat Misch's stomach tomorrow and certainly not for R.A. Dickey tonight. The only things fluttering by tonight were the sensational knuckleballs by Mr. Dickey in his herculean effort on the mound.

Who's afraid of the big bad Phils? Certainly not anyone taking the mound against them at Citi Field.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Frankie Rodriguez vs. Steven Slater: Fight or Flight

By now you've probably heard the disturbing news. After a frustrating moment turned to anger, a regrettable act happened at the workplace, leading to an arrest.

Of course, I could be talking about Mets closer Frankie Rodriguez or I could be talking about Jet Blue flight attendant Steven Slater. Both men's testosterone levels spiked a little this week.

In the case of K-Rod, he brought out his Frankie Knuckles persona when he assaulted his common law wife's father last night at Citi Field shortly after the Mets' 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Colorado Rockies.

Earlier in the week, veteran flight attendant Slater channeled his inner Howard Beale and went off on a rude passenger on a flight from Pittsburgh to New York. Slater was mad as heck and wasn't going to take it anymore from the unruly passenger so he did what anyone would do when pushed over the edge (provided that "anyone" is a flight attendant on a plane that just landed). He cursed out the passenger and left the plane "Reynolds-style", by deploying the emergency chute and sliding off the plane onto the tarmac. Unfortunately, this time Smokey caught up with the Bandit and Slater was arrested at his Queens home.

Before both men lost their cool and got arrested in Queens, they didn't appear to have much in common. However, through some keen investigative work with my assistant, Detective Google, I have uncovered that both Slater and Frankie Knuckles had far more in common than their temper and the borough where their mug shots were taken. Read on...

Steven Slater: Works for Jet Blue.
Frankie Rodriguez: Works for lovers of Dodger Blue.

Steven Slater: Has lunches with his loving mother.
Frankie Rodriguez: Gives punches to his fiancee's father.

Steven Slater: Shares a last name with a slow "Saved By The Bell" character. (A.C. Slater)
Frankie Rodriguez: Shares a last name with a slow cartoon character. (Slowpoke Rodriguez)

Steven Slater: Takes to the sky after last person is in.
Frankie Rodriguez: Points to the sky after last person is out.

Steven Slater: Consumed by frustration, takes alcohol with him.
Frankie Rodriguez: Frustrates fans, leading to their alcohol consumption.

Steven Slater: Directs people from their seats to the nearest exits in the event of an emergency.
Frankie Rodriguez: Directs people from their seats to Citi Field's exits in the event of a blown save.

Steven Slater: Two words - Anger Management.
Frankie Rodriguez: Three words - Anger With Management.

For all their similarities, there is one thing that's very different between the two men. Steven Slater used his two balls while Frankie Rodriguez just throws them. Had Frankie used his, perhaps he would have just walked away from this situation that will now permanently scar his Mets career.

Frankie Knuckles already knows how to throw balls to walk a batter. Now he's going to learn the hard way that he has to use balls to walk away.