Monday, May 31, 2010

Do The Hustle!

Some people say that as Jose Reyes goes, so do the Mets. Even SNY has gotten into the argument by constantly posting the Mets' record when Reyes scores at least one run as opposed to when he doesn't. (The Mets are 18-5 when he scores at least one run and 8-20 when he doesn't, for those keeping score at home.)

But why do the Mets have to depend on one catalyst to score runs? All nine players in the lineup should contribute towards victories (unless if you're the Phillies and you can only win games when Harry LeRoy Halladay starts).

That is why Studious Metsimus is going above and beyond to find a stat no one else is mentioning that is relevant to wins and losses.

Teams that score runs by advancing one base at a time need multiple hits to score their runs. Is it no wonder that these teams have difficulty winning games? Stealing bases puts runners in scoring position or advances runners to third base where they can score without needing a base hit.

The St. Louis Cardinals of the 1980s perfected the art of stealing bases and used it as a weapon. Their pilfering prowess allowed them to win three National League pennants (1982, 1985, 1987) and one World Series (1982).

So let's see what the Mets have done this year when they've felt frisky on the bases.

Over the first 51 games, the Mets have stolen bases in 34 of them. That leaves them with 17 games in which they did not steal a base. Their record is those 17 games is a disappointing 5-12. When they do steal at least one base, their record is 21-13. In games where they steal multiple bases, the Mets are 8-3.

To find the last time the Mets won a game in which they did not steal a base, you have to go back almost a full month to May 4, when the Mets defeated the Cincinnati Reds by the score of 5-4. Since then, the Mets have played seven games in which they failed to swipe a base and lost all of them.

So the moral of this story is quite simple, really. If the Mets are fleet on their feet, they stand a much better chance of winning ballgames. If they're stagnant on the bases, you'll see many more unhappy recaps.

Over the past few years, the Mets have not played particularly well in San Diego. If the Mets want to continue on their march towards first place, they have to remember to do the hustle once they're on the bases. Winning is contagious. Losing is as cool as Shane Victorino in a leisure suit. (Only he could turn Tony Manero into Tony Manure.)

To quote (and slightly alter) one-hit wonder Matthew Wilder's 1983 song, "Ain't nothin' gonna break their stride. Nobody's gonna slow them down. Oh no! They've got to keep on movin'!" Movin' on the bases, that is.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Baggy Pants And The Nitwits

In Mets history, the term Midnight Massacre refers to the events of June 15, 1977, when the Mets traded away Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman and got Jack Squat in return. 1977 was also the year a short-lived cartoon called "Baggy Pants and The Nitwits" premiered.

After watching the events unfolding at last night's Cubans-Bears game (I mean, Mets-Brewers game), I feel as if the cartoon made its return inside the Mets clubhouse and now it's the fans who want to do a little massacre of their own.

The Mets and Brewers played last night wearing throwback Negro League jerseys, with the Mets dressed in the uniforms of the New York Cubans. The baggy look of the jerseys might have looked cool, but what wasn't cool was the performance of the man who took the mound for the Mets, followed by his replacement's outing, making Jerry Manuel look like a nitwit.

Fernando Nieve might have had success last year in his first three appearances as a starter, but does anyone remember where he came back to earth last year after defeating the Yankees, Rays and Cardinals in succession? That's right, class. It was in Milwaukee against the same Brewers who wore Bears jerseys yesterday.

On June 29, 2009, head nitwit Jerry Manuel tried to use Fernando the Snowman's magic for one start too many and paid the price. The Brewers pounded 11 hits off Nieve in 3.1 innings and gave the Snowman his first loss as a starter for the Mets.

So when Dead Manuel Walking needed a spot starter for last night's game, who did he call upon? None other than the same Fernando Nieve (the reliever formerly known as Fernando Nieve-ryday) who gave up more hits (11) than recorded outs (10) in his last start in Milwaukee.

Nieve now has a career ERA of 7.53 against the Brew Crew and has allowed 22 hits in 14.1 innings. Of those 22 hits, six have been home runs, meaning the photo to the right is not a rare one.

The Head Nitwit had a chance to redeem himself when he removed Nieve from the game after two innings of so-called work. Despite Nieve's best efforts to gift-wrap the game to the Brewers, the Mets were still alive in the game, trailing Milwaukee 5-3. Instead of bringing in a dependable reliever to help shut down the Brewers and give the Mets their best chance to win, he brings in my friend and yours, Oliver Perez.

In true O.P. fashion, he pitched two innings, giving up three runs, three hits and walked two batters. Once he was removed from the game, the Brewers had already put up eight runs on the Mets in four innings.

Still, the Mets were only down 8-6 after four innings. Their offense was doing well against Milwaukee starter Manny Parra and reliever Marco Estrada. Then the men in baggy pants combined to become the greatest nitwits they could be by not hitting for the rest of the game.

The combined efforts of future Hall-of-Famers Todd Coffey, Carlos Villanueva and John Axford combined to retire the final 13 Mets and the Mets fell to the Brewers by that same 8-6 score.

With that loss, the Mets are guaranteed another series loss on the road and will still be searching for their first series win on the road when the calendar flips over to June. After winning five straight games against the defending World Champions and defending National League champions, the Mets went on the road to play the team with the worst home record in baseball. Instead of riding the momentum they had created for themselves, they provided the perfect remedy for the Brewers' home woes.

Corey Hart has proven himself to be larger than life against the Mets' pitching staff, driving in eight of the Brewers' ten runs over the first two games of the series. On a team that has real-life Bears in Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, it's Grizzly Adams that has hurt the Mets the most.

Actually, it's not Corey Hart that has hurt the Mets the most in this series. It's the decision-making of Dead Manuel Walking.

Friday night, Manuel brought in Ryota Igarashi to face Corey Hart after Igarashi had not done well since returing from the disabled list. Bang-zoom. Hart took him deep and the Mets lost the series opener. Then last night, when Fernando Nieve set fire to the Mets' chances of winning, he should never have brought in Oliver Perez to throw his gas upon the flames.

Jerry Manuel should know better than that. Just as the Mets should know better than to give Corey Hart and anyone who wore a Bears jersey for Milwaukee last night meaty pitches to feast upon. We all know Bears love fresh meat. Leave it to Baggy Pants and The Nitwits to provide them with a full picnic basket for them to chow down on.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Joey's Soapbox: Why I Hate Charlie Manuel More Than You Do

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel lost about 500 pounds, or half his weight, during the offseason. That weight loss will serve him well, as he'll need to be light on his feet to get away from me when I go after him for saying what he said two nights ago.

Hello, everyone. I'm Joey Beartran and this is my Soapbox.

As I was taking a cake break yesterday, I opened up the New York Post to read about the Mets' three-game sweep of the Phillies. It was the first time since the Miracle year of 1969 that the Mets had held an opponent scoreless for an entire three-game series.

After my fifth slice of cake, I came across an article by Fred Kerber that featured this quote by Charlie Manuel:

"Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you."

Who's this person eating bears? Does PETA know about this? I was shocked that a major league manager not named Ozzie Guillen could say something so insensitive. I can't speak for all bears, but I know I contribute to his salary when I purchase tickets to games and when I buy chicken nachos.

Shame on Charlie Manuel for suggesting that on occasion, my fellow furry friends should be consumed by him or his cronies. As for the part where he said that sometimes the bear eats you, let's just say I would never eat Charlie Manuel. I'm not a big fan of indigestion.

If Charlie Manuel is having flashbacks to his heavier days, perhaps he should satisfy his hunger by opening his mouth and sticking his foot in it.

Speaking of sticking a foot in one's mouth, the master of said practice, Colbert Hamels, was caught doing it again in the same New York Post article. Towards the end of the article, Hamels talks about the Phillies recent slump by saying:

"It happens every year for us, almost around the same time...I have a job to do. I can't worry about the offense."

Really, Colbert? So this happens to you every year around the same time. Is that your excuse for the Phillies' Phutility at Citi Field this week? Let's look at the Phillies' records for the month of May since Hamels joined the team in 2006, shall we?

2010: 15-10, .600 win pct. (currently 27-20, .574 win pct.)
2009: 17-11, .607 win pct. (finished season 93-69, .574 win pct.)
2008: 17-12, .586 win pct. (finished season 92-70, .568 win pct.)
2007: 15-13, .536 win pct. (finished season 89-73, .549 win pct.)
2006: 17-11, .607 win pct. (finished season 85-77, .525 win pct.)

The Phillies have had winning records every May that Hamels has been on the team. In fact, in four of those five seasons, the team had a better winning percentage in May than they had over the entire season, meaning that May has generally been one of the best months for the Phillies over the past five seasons.

Colbert Hamels is also the same guy who said that he couldn't wait for the season to end after losing Game 3 of last year's World Series. So saying things that make absolutely no sense seems par for the course for him.

Okay, I've said everything I have to say about those blasted Phillies. To summarize, Charlie Manuel might have lost weight, but he still has a big mouth. And Colbert Hamels still doesn't have a clue and looks like a jackass every time he opens his mouth.

I'm Joey Beartran and I'm getting off my soapbox. I can't stay on it all night, you know. After all, it's cake o'clock.

Friday, May 28, 2010

America's Team? No...But Definitely Miss USA's Team

Earlier this month, the former Miss Michigan (Rima Fakih) became the first Lebanese-American to win the Miss USA pageant. How did she celebrate her victory? By making a trip to Citi Field today!

Miss Fakih (shown above with Jose Reyes) compared batting styles with the Mets shortstop before tonight's game with the Phillies and Reyes proceeded to bang out three hits, including the pivotal two-run double in the seventh inning to extend the Mets' lead to 3-0.

During her time at Citi Field, Miss Fakih (who graduated from St. John's Prep, which is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Citi Field) admitted that she saw her first Mets game at Shea Stadium during the strike year of 1994 and claimed that she has always been a Mets fan.

In the 1990s, the Atlanta Braves laid claim to the name "America's Team", after the Dallas Cowboys did the same in the NFL. The Mets might not be America's team yet, but at least they can say they're Miss USA's team.

Congratulations to Rima Fakih on her recent Miss USA victory and congratulations to the Mets for completing their three-game sweep of the Phillies at Citi Field. By completely dominating the series, both at bat and on the mound, the Mets let it be known that they're no longer going to be the first runners-up to the Phillies!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Takahashi Might Be Pitching Well, But...

Hisanori Takahashi stepped into the Mets rotation and has been spectacular in his two starts, shutting down two explosive offenses in the Yankees and Phillies. With six scoreless innings against the Yankees last Friday and six more against the Phillies on Wednesday, Takahashi lowered his ERA to 2.13, while upping his record to 4-1.

The Japanese southpaw has been a Lefty Luthor to the Supermen wearing the jerseys of last year's pennant winners. More importantly, he has made Jerry Manuel a believer in his ability to give the Mets quality starts, something that could not be said for the man he replaced in the rotation, Oliver Perez.

I have been quite impressed with Takahashi's recent performances and would like to think that his stretch of outstanding starts will continue past his last outing against the Phillies. However, before giving him the keys to the castle, let's remember that just last year, we were also singing the praises of a starter that was tearing it up in his first few starts. Just like Takahashi, this pitcher was moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation and was asked to shut down the powerful Yankee lineup. Then, he continued to face teams with potent offenses and pitched beyond expectations. Unfortunately, his streak of good fortune ended almost as quickly as started and now he's back in the Mets bullpen. Who am I talking about? Fernando Nieve.

After pitching two scoreless innings of relief against the Washington Nationals last year on June 6, Fernando Nieve was called upon to make an emergency start against the Yankees on June 13. The game was played less than 24 hours after Luis Castillo gift-wrapped a Yankee victory with his infamous dropped pop-up. With all the momentum shifting over to the Yankees, Nieve was given the ball and was asked to stop the bleeding He ended up pitching 6.2 innings, holding the Yankees to two runs on four hits. That was the only win picked up by the Mets against the Yankees all year.

Given another start against a high-quality team, this time the Tampa Bay Rays, Nieve followed up his victory against the Yankees with an even better performance against the Rays, giving up one run and three hits in a 5-3 Mets victory.

In his third start, he faced the National League Central division-leading St. Louis Cardinals and pitched six shutout innings, again allowing only three hits in an 11-0 blowout of the Cards. That gave Nieve three wins in three starts against upper-echelon teams. In those three games, his ERA was a microscopic 1.45 and he held opposing hitters to a .154 batting average.

For all intents and purposes, it appeared as if the Mets had found themselves a starting pitcher from out of nowhere that they could depend upon to pitch effectively and deep into ballgames. Even I was sold on Fernando Nieve, as I wrote a number of blogs for Mets Merized Online on The Three Fernandos (Nieve, Tatis and Martinez). Alas, Nieve could not continue his success past those three starts.

Over his next three starts, Nieve came crashing back down to Earth, losing to the Brewers, Phillies and Reds. In those games, Fernando's ERA was 5.40 and opposing batters hit an alarming .403 against him. Despite the fact that he was clearly not the same pitcher he was over his first three starts, Jerry Manuel gave him another start against the Atlanta Braves. That was the last time Nieve would pitch for the Mets in 2009, as he injured himself while running to first base in the second inning.

Do I expect Hisanori Takahashi to fade as quickly as Fernando Nieve did last year? I don't think he will. For one thing, Takahashi has an impeccable ability to throw strikes. In his starts against the Yankees and Phillies, Takahashi has pitched 12 innings and has only walked one batter. In those two games, he has thrown a total of 195 pitches, of which 138 were strikes. That's better than 70% of his pitches going for strikes.

In Nieve's first three starts last year, as great as they were, he still walked nine batters in 18.2 innings. Over those three starts, he threw 318 pitches, of which 188 were strikes. That's only 59% of his pitches going for strikes. Nieve was effective over those starts because he gave up few hits. Once he started giving up hits, combined with the walks, that led to his three-game losing streak.

Hisanori Takahashi has the potential to be an effective #3 starter in the Mets rotation. Since he's constantly throwing strikes, he stands less of a chance to suffer a meltdown such as the one Fernando Nieve went through last year after his third start. However, just because Takahashi has been shutting down potent offenses now doesn't guarantee long-term success. Be happy that he's giving us great pitching at a time when the Mets need it the most, but be wary because as wonderful as Takahashi has been, it can all come crashing down. Just ask Fernando Nieve.

Remember This Catch From 19 Years Ago? A Current Mets Coach Does

Nineteen years ago today, an outfielder for the Vancouver Canadians of the Pacific Coast League made this catch against the Portland Beavers to permanently etch his name onto the list of phenomenal baseball catches:

The outfielder was Rodney McCray, who later on played for the Mets, collecting one hit in his only at-bat dressed in the orange and blue during the 1992 season.

This catch was replayed ad nauseum on ESPN and other outlets, and deservedly so, as it is amazing that McCray held on to the ball after running through the poorly constructed (and non-padded) outfield wall.

However, have you ever wondered which Portland Beavers batter connected on the long drive that immortalized the hard-headed McCray?

It was none other than current Mets third base coach Chip Hale!

What, you didn't think the only connection this catch had to the Mets was that the player who caught it had one career at-bat for the Mets, did you? If you did, then you must not be a regular Studious Metsimus reader.

Walter William Hale (more commonly known as Chip) was an infielder for Minnesota's Triple-A team in Portland when he became the answer to a trivia question that people still can't answer.

It became the one thing he was known for before becoming the Mets third base coach this year, as he had an uneventful major league career (652 career at-bats, 7 HR, 78 RBI over seven years spent with the Twins and Dodgers).

So now when someone asks you about the Rodney McCray catch, you can shock that person with your baseball knowledge by telling him that the man currently waving in Luis Castillo to limp home from second base on a single is the same man who hit that famous ball in 1991.

You can shock him some more by mentioning that Rodney McCray's teammates on the Canadians included a little weakling named Sammy Sosa, former Mets Danny Heep and John Cangelosi, and current Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu.

Nineteen years have gone by since current Met Chip Hale sent former Met Rodney McCray through a wall. Now he's sending Mets players through opposing catchers. Good to see some things never change.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mets Might Have The Solution To Stopping The Phillies' Supermen

After taking the first round of the Subway Series this past weekend at Citi Field, the Mets will look to continue their winning ways tonight when the division-leading Phillies come to town, fresh off an interleague series loss to the Boston Red Sox. The Mets were able to stifle the powerful Yankee bats over the weekend. How will they be able to stop the potent Phillies' offense? A trip to the local comic book shop might provide them with the answer.

Superman's powers come from the yellow sun of Earth's solar system, as opposed to the red sun that the planet Krypton revolved around; a red sun whose radiation inhibits the development of these powers and takes them away once a Kryptonian has them.

Red Sox starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka hails from Japan, the land of the rising sun. Have you ever seen the Japanese flag? There's a RED SUN smack-dab in the middle of it!

Matsuzaka must have used the radiation of Japan's red sun to zap the Phillies of their power on Saturday. How else would you explain the Phillies only managing one bloop hit against the Red Sox in their hitters' haven of a ballpark?

Another item that causes Superman and his powers to go berserk is red kryptonite. From changes in his personality to losing his invulnerability, red K's effects, although unpredictable, can neutralize Superman and reduce him to a jelly-legged fool.

Tim Wakefield's knuckleball was red kryptonite to the Phillies on Sunday. They flailed away at it, hitting the ball weakly if they hit it at all. No batter knew what the effect of Wakefield's knuckleball would do to their hitting ability, similar to our fav'rit Kryptonian not having a clue what red K will do to his superhuman abilities.

So how will this information help the Mets as they begin their three-game series against the Phillies tonight at Citi Field? A quick check of the Mets' starting pitchers for the series should provide the answer.

In tonight's series opener, R.A. Dickey will take the hill for the Mets. What's his pitching specialty? The knuckleball! That's the same pitch that served as red kryptonite to the Phillies on Sunday. The kind of Kryptonite that caused Superman to turn into a giant ant has already started to affect Phillies' starter Cole Hamels, as seen by these before and after pictures of the southpaw.

In tomorrow's middle game of the series, the Mets will trot out Hisanori Takahashi, who is a fellow countryman of Daisuke Matsuzaka. That's right, SMFs. Takahashi hails from the Land of The Rising Sun. That means he'll be firing the power of the red sun at the Phillies. As we witnessed last Friday, Lefty Luthor was able to use his ability to take the power away from the Yankees' bats. Now he'll try to use his gift to rob the Phillies of their superhuman abilities at the plate.

The series finale on Thursday will feature Mike Pelfrey and his 6-1 record. What state is Big Pelf from? Kansas! Where did Kal-El's rocket crash land when his parents, Jor-El and Lara, sent him away to Earth before Krypton exploded? You guessed it. The baby who became Clark Kent, who later became Superman, began his time on Earth in the town of Smallville in the state of Kansas! Clark Kent spent his formative years in Kansas, developing his superheroic craft there before moving to the big city of Metropolis, just like Pelfrey learned to pitch in Kansas before taking his talent to the big city of New York to pitch for the Metropolitans.

Now that the Mets know the Phillies' weakness, they'll need to exploit it if they want to move up, up and away in the NL East standings. They'll get their first crack against them tonight at Citi Field when R.A. Dickey opposes octogenarian Jamie Moyer.

The Mets were able to thwart the bats of the Evil Empire. Now they must face their arch-enemies for three games. Do the Mets have enough red kryptonite left in the tank for their division rivals? Tune in throughout the three-game series to see the Mets continue their never-ending battle for truth, justice and the Metsian way.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Jose Lima And The Final Destination Of The 2006 Mets Starting Pitchers

We regret to inform you that former Mets pitcher and Studious Metsimus whipping boy Jose Lima passed away earlier today at the age of 37. The cause of death was reported to be a heart attack.

Lima is now the second pitcher who started at least one game for the 2006 Mets to pass away, following the death of Geremi Gonzalez (who was then known by his hip-hop nom de plume, Jeremi Gonzalez) in 2008. Gonzalez was killed at the age of 33 after being struck by lightning in Venezuela.

Back in October, Studious Metsimus jokingly reported that after the Mets released Jose Lima in 2006, he put a hex on the franchise, lovingly referred to as "The Curse of Lima Time". The hex was supposedly the reason for the Mets' failure to reach the World Series in 2006, as well as their late-season collapses in 2007 and 2008.

But is the curse real? Has it expanded beyond a Studious Metsimus story? A look at the 13 starting pitchers who took the mound for the Mets in 2006 seems to suggest that it might have escaped the confines of this blog and gone searching for the Unlucky 13.

Tom Glavine (32 starts) - Failed to get more than one out for the Mets in the 2007 season finale. Later went back to Atlanta where he picked up two wins and was released by the team in 2009. By co-inky-dink, he ended his career the way he began it, by going 2-4 with a 5.54 ERA for the Braves in 2008. He also went 2-4 with a 5.54 ERA for the Braves in 1987.

Steve Trachsel (30 starts) - After leading the 2006 Mets with 16 wins, the Human Rain Delay II (with apologies to the original Human Rain Delay, Mike Hargrove) signed a free agent contract with the Baltimore Orioles in 2007. He was traded in August 2007 to the Chicago Cubs, then re-signed by the Orioles the following off-season, before being released by Baltimore in June 2008. His post-Mets stats for the 2007 and 2008 seasons? How about a 9-16 record and a 5.60 ERA.

Pedro Martinez (23 starts) - Started off brilliantly in 2006, winning his first five decisions. Then he was placed on the disabled list after pitching horribly in his return to Fenway Park. After coming back from the DL, he pitched poorly in the potential division clincher at PNC Park and was caught weeping in the dugout. He signed with the Phillies in 2009, but his affiliation with the Bloods (see photo, below) helped bring about his downfall. As of now, Pedro is still unemployed.

Orlando Hernandez (20 starts) - It looked as if the Curse of Lima Time was going to escape Orlando "The Dookie" Hernandez. After all, he was surprisingly effective for the Mets after being acquired in a trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dookie went 9-7 for the Mets and struck out nearly a batter per inning (112 Ks in 116.2 innings). However, The Dookie met The Curse right after he was named the starting pitcher for Game 1 of the 2006 NLDS. While running sprints in the outfield, the then-57 year old Dookie tore a calf muscle and had to be removed from the postseason roster. Despite his AARP membership and injury history, the Mets signed Mr. Dookie to a two-year, $12 million contract that off-season. They were rewarded by getting 24 starts from The Dookie in 2007 and no starts in 2008. He then signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers in 2009, only to be released a month later. No longer in baseball, The Dookie has apparently been offered three lucrative deals to be the spokesperson for Geritol, Metamucil and Depends undergarments.

John Maine (15 starts) - Maine was originally the throw-in when the Mets unloaded Kris and Anna Benson to the Baltimore Orioles for Jorge Julio (who was then traded to Arizona for The Dookie). Maine impressed so much as a rookie for the Mets in 2006 that he earned a spot on the postseason roster. His victory in Game 6 of the NLCS helped the Mets reach the do-or-die Game 7 against the Cardinals. Nowadays, Maine can be seen moping around the clubhouse, weak shoulder dragging along beside him. The scowl that once helped get hitters out is now solely used whenever Jerry Manuel is in the room with him.

Alay Soler (8 starts) - Pitched a complete-game shutout against the Arizona Diamondbacks in his fourth major league start. Three starts later, he gave up eight runs to the Boston Red Sox. After that game, he was told to watch tapes of his outing against the Diamondbacks to prepare for his next start against the Yankees. The Curse of Lima Time struck again, as the tapes were misplaced and instead Soler watched the tapes from his Boston Massacre. He learned well, as he gave up another eight runs to the Yankees. So long, Soler. That marked the end of his short-lived major league career.

Oliver Perez (7 starts) - When the Mets needed a reliever to replace Duaner Sanchez, they traded Xavier Nady to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Dominican food intolerant Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez. Perez did not pitch well for the Mets after his trade, going 1-3 with a 6.38 ERA. He did pitch in Game 7 of the NLCS and then went 25-17 over the next two seasons, fooling the Mets into giving him a 3-year, $36 million contract after the 2008 season. Since signing the mega-deal, Perez has "rewarded" the Mets with three victories. However, sales of antacids have increased exponentially in Flushing.

Brian Bannister (6 starts) - The son of former major league pitcher Floyd Bannister was a respectable 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA for the 2006 Mets before the Curse of Lima Time found him on the bases at the park formerly known as Pac Bell. While trying to score a run, Bannister left his hamstring in San Francisco and missed the next four months of the season. Bannister was not himself after his return, going 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA. He was traded that off-season to the Kansas City Royals for future felon Ambiorix Burgos, proving that the Curse of Lima Time was contagious.

Victor Zambrano (5 starts) - I won't waste your time. You already know his story. He was cursed before Lima could get to him.

Dave Williams (5 starts) - Williams was never meant to make that many starts for the Mets, but the Mets membership in the Injury of The Week Club forced him into action five times. Williams went 3-1 for the Mets in 2006, but the good record was due to excellent run support, as his ERA was a high 5.59. Williams was not as lucky in 2007, appearing in only two games for the Mets. Perhaps his 22.85 ERA had something to do with the lack of appearances. Williams has not pitched in the major leagues since.

Mike Pelfrey (4 starts) - Apparently was born with the antidote to the Curse of Lima Time in his blood. After his breakout 2008 season, Big Pelf struggled in 2009, but has been the Mets' best starting pitcher in 2010, going 6-1 with a 2.86 ERA over the first quarter of the season. He may be the key to curing all those afflicted by the Curse.

Jose Lima (4 starts) - Just like Lou Gehrig wasn't immune to the disease named after him, Jose Lima fell to the Curse that took his name. Lima never pitched again in the major league after his brief tour of duty with the Mets, a tour that included an 0-4 record and a 9.87 ERA.

Geremi Gonzalez (3 starts) - Gonzalez started against Randy Johnson in the first game of the 2006 Subway Series at Shea Stadium and gave up four runs in the first inning. The Mets eventually won that game on David Wright's walk-off hit off Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the ninth inning, making Gonzalez the answer to the trivia question, "Who sucked so badly in Game 1 of the 2006 Subway Series that the Mets needed a walk-off hit by David Wright to win the game?" Unfortunately for Gonzalez, he made a better lightning rod than starting pitcher, as he was killed during a thunderstorm in his native Venezuela.

The Unlucky 13 (other than Mike Pelfrey) have suffered professionally and personally since the 2006 season. The so-called Curse of Lima Time has claimed careers and lives, including the man for whom it was named.

Although this blog was written as a humor piece, we do not mean to poke fun at the death of Jose Lima. Lima was a fun-loving man who had a respectable major league career. He was also a positive presence in the clubhouse.

Studious Metsimus would like to offer our condolences to the family and friends of Jose Lima. He will be missed in the major league community and of course, in the blogging community. May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Road Warriors...Come Out To Play-ay!

The Mets have been outstanding this season at home, going 14-8 over their first 22 games at Citi Field. However, when they leave Flushing, they seem to forget to pack their bats and their ability to win ballgames.

After last night's 3-2 defeat to the Atlanta Braves, a loss that dropped the Mets back into last place in the NL East, the Mets found themselves staring at a 5-13 road record for the season. This comes hot on the heels of last year's abysmal 29-52 road record. Since moving into Citi Field, the Mets have gone 55-48 at home (41-40 last year) and 34-65 on the road. Why is there such a stark difference in home and road effectiveness?

For one thing, the team barely hits over the Mendoza line on the road. (Editor's note: The Mendoza line generally refers to a .200 batting average. However, the man for whom the unofficial stat was named after, Mario Mendoza, actually finished his career with a .215 batting average. For the purposes of this and any other Studious Metsimus blog referring to the Mendoza Line, we will use the .215 figure as the aforementioned Line.) Including last night's game, the Mets team batting average on the road is a barely-there .217. Compare this to their .267 mark at Citi Field.

They also score less, run less, walk less and strike out at a higher clip. Here are their home/road splits for your reading torture:

@ Citi Field (22 games):

Batting Average: .267
On-Base Percentage: .352
Slugging Percentage: .418
Runs Scored: 105 (4.8 runs per game)
Stolen Bases: 23 (1.0 steals per game)
Bases On Balls: 90 (4.1 walks per game)
Strikeouts: 147 (6.7 strikeouts per game)

On The Road (18 games):

Batting Average: .217
On-Base Percentage: .281
Slugging Percentage: .339
Runs Scored: 67 (3.7 runs per game)
Stolen Bases: 14 (0.8 steals per game)
Bases On Balls: 52 (2.9 walks per game)
Strikeouts: 142 (7.9 strikeouts per game)

For everyone who thought Citi Field was a pitcher's park, it certainly isn't for Mets hitters, as they score over one extra run per game there than on the road and hit for a much higher average.

The difference in strikeouts and walks per game is astounding. The Mets have been able to cut down on their strikeouts at Citi Field and have been issued almost twice as many walks. Why can't they do the same on the road? Do umpires have bigger strike zones on the road when the Mets come up to bat?

Although the Mets hit better at Citi Field than on the road in 2009, the differences were not as great as they are this year. The 2009 Mets had a slightly higher batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage at home than on the road (.274/.341/.408 at home; .266/.330/.381 on the road), while their stolen bases, walks and strikeouts were consistent whether at Citi Field or on the road (59 SB, 260 BB, 458 Ks at home; 63 SB, 266 BB, 470 Ks on the road).

Since the beginning of the 2009 season, only the Baltimore Orioles and the Pittsburgh Pirates have fewer road victories (30 apiece) than the New York Mets (34 road wins). Even the Washington Nationals, who lost a major-league high 103 games last year, have picked up more wins on the road (35) since the beginning of the '09 season.

Speaking of those pesky Nats, the Mets are opening up a series in Washington tonight. Yes, that means they'll be on the road. If the Mets don't want to be lumped into the same category as the lowly Orioles and Pirates, they must show improvement on the road.

Let's face facts. No team is going to win many ballgames when they're constantly getting four hits a night and striking out ten times. But a team with a winning attitude finds a way to score runs even when they're not hitting by making productive outs. Unfortunately, the Mets can't even do that right.

Take the ninth inning of last night's game. Luis Castillo was standing on third base with one out. At the time, Castillo represented the go-ahead run. All the Mets needed was a fly ball by David Wright to take the lead. But alas, that was easier said than done, as David fanned against Billy Wagner, who then struck out Ike Davis to end the Mets' threat and the inning.

David Wright's inability to make a productive out in the top of the ninth inning enabled the Braves to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth instead of what would have been the tying run. Of course, Wright's throwing error had something to do with that as well.

Phillies' manager Charlie Manuel recently had the audacity to suggest that the Mets were stealing signs at home because of their winning record at Citi Field. Perhaps they should consider doing that on the road. Or better yet, how about if they just stop flailing at every slider out of the strike zone? A few extra walks and a lot less strikeouts never hurt anybody. At the very least, make a productive out here and there. The last time I checked, there was no such thing as a productive strikeout.

There are still 63 games left away from Citi Field this season beginning with tonight's game in Washington. Can the Mets turn things around and become road warriors? They'd better or else the fans won't come out to watch them play-ay.

Monday, May 17, 2010

...And Now A Word From Our Joey

Greetings, Mets fans! It's your roving Studious Metsimus correspondent, Joey Beartran getting a moment on the laptop. I have a few things to say, so BEAR with me as I get a few things off my hoodie.

Before tonight's victory against the Braves, the Mets had dropped five consecutive games. The rest of the NL East was putting New York in its rearview mirror, just like I was doing in the photo above.

No starter had won a game in May and Little Jeffy Wilpon thought it necessary to have tea and crumpets with Goofus and Gallant. (Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel. I'll let you figure out which one is which.)

Then April's best pitcher took the hill in Atlanta and played stopper for the night. The Mets' Big Kahuna used his Big Cojones to pitch the Mets to a 3-2 victory over the Braves. The losing streak was finally over and the Mets were out of last place. Sounds like everything's peachy in Georgia, right? Not so fast!

The Mets still haven't had much contributions from their bottom three guys in the rotation. After Big Pelf and 'Han the Man, every other start this season has been made by Mr. Niese, Mr. Maine and El Perez-idente. Those three starters have combined for a grand total of TWO WINS this year!

Now Jonathon Niese is going to miss his next start due to his ailing hammy, John Maine is at the library searching for a copy of Throwing Strikes For Dummies and El Perez-idente has been impeached from the rotation.

R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi will be taking the spots of Niese and Perez, respectively and John Maine is going to have to speed read his way back to respectability. If the month of May ends with Pelfrey, Maine and the vultures in the bullpen continuing to pick up all of the victories, then the Mets and Braves might be renewing their rivalry, but this time it'll be to see who can stay out of last place instead of fighting for a division title.

Tonight's victory was great, but the Mets must do far more to get back in the good spirits of fans, similar to the way they felt during the eight-game winning streak in late April. Big Pelf put the Mets on his 6' 7" frame and carried them out of the cellar. Johan Santana will try to do the same tomorrow night. What will happen after that? It better be a victory or three from one of the other starters. If not, Little Jeffy Wilpon might be setting up the firing squad for Goofus and Gallant.


But wait, there's more! If you can make it to the Two Boots location in the lower dining concourse of Grand Central Terminal at 7 PM on Tuesday, May 18 (that's tomorrow night!), you will be part of a Mets-tacular celebration! Some of the best Mets writers and bloggers will be on hand sharing their Mets-cellent views, stories and opinions on our beloved Metsies!

On hand will be Greg Prince (Faith and Fear In Flushing), Jon Springer (Mets By The Numbers), Josh Wilker (Cardboard Gods) and my Aunt Coop (My Summer Family)!!

If you bring a Mets baseball card, you can get a free beer. That's right! You'll be able to tell all your friends that Mets legends Tim Bogar and Mark Carreon paid for your beer. You can even bring in that Mel Rojas card that you threw darts at after he gave up that home run to Paul O'Neill.

Of course, yours truly and my Studious Metsimus colleague will be there. Hope you can be a part of Amazin' Tuesday at the Grand Central Terminal location of Two Boots!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

From Worst To First To Worst Again

The Mets were defeated by the Florida Marlins today by the final score of 10-8. The loss gave the Marlins their first ever four-game sweep of the Mets in Florida. Since believing in comebacks Tuesday night against the Nationals, the Mets have dropped five straight contests and find themselves occupying the cellar in the National League East. What a difference a month makes!

On April 16, after playing ten games, the Mets were 3-7 and were buried in last place, five games behind the division-leading Phillies and two games behind the fourth-place Nationals. Of course, two weeks later, the Mets surprised everyone (including themselves) by running off an eight-game winning streak. In a fortnight, the Mets had crashed the penthouse suite in the NL East and had knocked the Phillies off their perch.

One month after the Mets were in last place, they find themselves back in the cellar, proving that they can go back home again, as long as home means shoddy pitching, poor defense and bringing up the rear in the NL East.

The Mets are now 18-20. However, with the way they've been playing recently, coupled with events that took place during the third inning of today's game, the Mets might be playing games this summer hoping to get back to being only two games below .500. Let's take a look at a few things.

Had the Mets not scored six runs in the eighth inning of Tuesday night's game against the Nationals, they would be in the midst of an eight-game losing streak, having lost last Sunday's series finale against the Giants and the first game of the series against the Nationals on Monday. Jerry Manuel's head would be on the chopping block and the fans would be lining up to release the guillotine.

Oliver Perez should stop making Mets fans grimace by robble-robbing the Wilpon's millions. It's plain and simple. He has no business being on a major league roster. When he's not sponsoring the latest walk-a-thon as part of Jerry's Kids, he's giving himself whiplash (not necessarily a bad thing) as well as the outfielders (a bad thing) by making everyone on the field turn their heads to watch the latest home run sail over the wall.

Jerry Manuel has already decided that he's not down with O.P.P. (Oliver Perez's Problems) and has relegated Ollie to the bullpen. However, what seemed to be the obvious choice with Hisanori "Don't Call Me Ken" Takahashi replacing Perez in the rotation is no longer a sure thing. In fact, it's not happening. Why's that? Because of today's starter, Jonathon "Don't Call Me Solly" Niese.

Jonathon Niese had to be removed from today's game after re-injuring his right hamstring in the third inning. This is the same hamstring that required season-ending surgery last year. As a result of Niese's injury, Takahashi was brought into the game and threw 59 pitches, making him unavailable to make Oliver Perez's next scheduled start on Wednesday.

The New York Times is reporting that Raul Valdes is being considered for the start on Wednesday. Long-suffering Mets fans (and by long-suffering, I mean since April) might recall that Valdes has stepped in for Oliver Perez before. It was Valdes who gave up a grand slam to the Cardinals' Felipe Lopez on April 16 to deny Oliver Perez of what would have been his only victory of the season. Perez had entered the seventh inning of that game with a 1-0 lead, only to be removed with one out and one on for Fernando Nieve-ryday. Nieve-ryday then hit Skip Schumaker and walked Matt Holliday before giving way to Raul Valdes and his magic gopher ball.

Therefore, to summarize:

Oliver Perez - Outie
Jonathon Niese - Ouchie
Don't Call Me Ken - Still in the 'pen
Raul Valdes and his Magic Gopher Ball - Coming soon to a mound near you
Fernando Nieve-ryday - Has a cool Studious Metsimus nickname
John Maine - Not mentioned here, but is about to throw ball sixteen.

The Mets' minor league team in Brooklyn is called the Cyclones, but it's the fans who have been taken on a roller coaster ride. We've had to watch the team go down, up and down again. The ride is not over yet, but with the way the team has been playing, some fans are looking forward to getting off the ride. Can you blame them? Why get on a rickety ride if the owners aren't willing to give it the proper repairs?

It might be a long season at Citi Field this year. Let's hope the ride gets better as the summer progresses.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Stunning Look Into The Mets' Offensive Woes

There are many question marks surrounding the Mets' offense this season. Why isn't Jose Reyes hitting? Why is David Wright striking out so much? Why can't Jason Bay get a clutch hit? Where did Jeff Francoeur's bat disappear to? Why isn't Luis Castillo on crutches yet?

It's enough to make a Mets fan go crazy when the team puts men on base only to strand them by striking out, popping up or grounding into a double play. Many fine pitching performances have been wasted because the offense decided to hit the snooze button on those days.

Sure, it's easy to point the finger at certain players. For example, David K. Wright has struck out 42 times in 32 games, putting him on a pace to strike out over 200 times. He recently struck out in nine consecutive at-bats, which is a mark usually held by graduates of the Al Leiter Hitting Academy, not a former Silver Slugger.

Jason Bay has not shown the 36-homer power he exhibited in Boston last year, although he is a notoriously streaky hitter. Jeff Francoeur lost his hitting shoes around the second week of the baseball season and Jose Reyes has been underwhelming in the #3 hole.

If you were to tell me that Rod Barajas and Ike Davis would be the hitting "stars" on the Mets after 32 games, I'd ask you to share your Kool-Aid with me. But that's exactly what they've been this year, as Barajas is already only three homers short of the 12 HR hit by team leader Daniel Murphy in 2009 and Ike Davis has been an OBP-machine, reaching base almost 43% of the time since being called up to the major leagues.

Unfortunately, Barajas and Davis are only two of eight regular hitters in the lineup. A team that is only getting production from 25% of the order surely cannot expect to win more often than it loses, so the Mets must consider themselves fortunate to be above .500 and only three games behind the division-leading Phillies.

What must the Mets improve upon at the plate to strike fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers? For one thing, they must make better contact, especially when they have a runner standing 90 feet away from the promised land.

With runners on second and third this year, the Mets are hitting an anemic .167 (3-for-18). In these situations, the batter is not apt to hit into a double play and is a single away from adding two RBI to his totals. However, the Mets have been more likely to strike out in these situations than get the timely hit (five strikeouts and three hits with runners on second and third).

What about when the Mets bat with the bases loaded? This is even more jaw-dropping than the second and third scenario. The Mets are hitting .185 in these situations (5-for-27) with six strikeouts. You may have heard of the old baseball adage, "a walk is as good as a hit". Well, with the bases loaded, that is most definitely the case, as a walk would drive in a run. However, the Mets on-base percentage with the bases loaded is only .250, as they have only drawn three bases-loaded walks this year. Even more stunning is their slugging percentage with the bases loaded (.259), as the Mets have picked up only one extra-base hit with the sacks full all season.

Here's one final stunning note on the Mets' offensive woes. It doesn't take a quantum physicist to know that once a batter has three balls on him, it becomes easier to hit. A pitcher doesn't want to walk the batter, so the pitches after ball three are usually more predictable. Translation: There's a better chance you see a fastball after ball three than on any other count. So how do the Mets fare after the opposing pitcher has thrown three balls? How about a .211 batting average?

That's right, Mets fans. In 152 at-bats this year where the opposing pitcher has thrown three balls to the batter, the Mets have only picked up 32 hits. Even knowing that the odds of seeing a fastball have greatly increased after taking ball three, they still have trouble hitting it where they ain't. And yes, in case you were wondering, the Mets are more likely to strike out after taking ball three than they are to pick up a hit (38 strikeouts, 32 hits).

The Mets have struck out 237 times in 2010, which puts them in the middle of the pack among National League teams (8th out of 16 teams). However, it's not the number of strikeouts that's most alarming; it's when they're striking out. In addition to the untimely whiffs, the Mets are not producing in situations where most batters salivate, namely situations with multiple runners in scoring position. Until they turn things around in those departments, can we really expect the Mets to be more than a .500 team?

Don't blame the inconsistent play on one player. It's been a team effort. And it's going to take the entire team to turn this ship around if they're going to remain in the hunt.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Jason Bay: Rich Man, Poor Numbers

When Jason Bay signed his four-year, $66 million contract to play left field for the Mets, it was believed that he would provide the booming bat needed by the Mets that was sorely missed last season. After all, Daniel Murphy led the team with a measly 12 HR, while Bay hit three times that amount with the Boston Red Sox.

The Mets have now played one full month of baseball. After their first 28 games, Jason Bay is hitting a pedestrian .238, with one home run and nine RBI.

To put that into perspective, those are the numbers expected of Carlos Zambrano at the plate, not the Mets' everyday leftfielder. He has also whiffed at an alarming rate, racking up 33 strikeouts over those 28 games.

While I was one of those fans who was elated when the Mets signed him, I've been doing a little research on our latest cleanup hitter. The Mets deemed it necessary to give Bay a four-year deal worth $66 million after a season in which he hit .267, with a career-high 36 HR and 119 RBI (He also struck out 162 times). After all, they needed a power hitting outfielder and Bay fit that description.

So I was going through my blogger's bible - also known as - and came across the numbers of a certain Richmond Lockwood Sexson (Richie Sexson to you and me). Over his 12-year major league career, the Paul Bunyan body double averaged .261, with 36 HR and 112 RBI. He also averaged 156 strikeouts per full season.

This means the Mets gave Jason Bay $66 million after his "great" season which resembled a typical Richie Sexson season. When Sexson signed his final contract prior to the 2005 season, he was given a four-year deal by the Seattle Mariners worth $50 million. Sexson had already had two seasons in which he hit 45 HR and had also driven in 120+ runs twice, power numbers that Jason Bay has not yet reached.

People who remember Richie Sexson thought he was an all-or-nothing type hitter; either he would hit a home run or he would strike out. Well, the hulking slugger struck out at least 120 times in a season six times over his 12-year career. Jason Bay has played six full seasons in the major leagues. He has struck out at least 120 times in all six of those seasons. With his 33 strikeouts over the first month of this season, Bay appears to be well on his way to his seventh consecutive season of 120+ strikeouts.

To make matters worse, Bay is more strikeout-prone when the Mets have men on base. So far this season, Bay has 52 at-bats with men on base. He has struck out an alarming 21 times in those situations. It's no wonder with those lofty strikeout totals that Bay is only hitting .194 with runners in scoring position.

Back in December, I wrote a piece on Mets Merized Online about Jason Bay reminding me of Kevin McReynolds. After the first month of the season, Bay is now resembling Richie Sexson - a poor man's Richie Sexson at that. Too bad the Mets made him a rich man for that type of performance.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

In Santana We Trust

Tonight is the rubber game of the three-game series in Philadelphia between the Mets and the Phillies. The Mets head into the series finale holding on to a razor-thin half-game lead over the second place Phillies after Roy Halladay shut down the Mets' offense on Saturday with a complete game shutout and Mike Pelfrey came back down to Earth after his phenomenal and mostly scoreless April.

Just as Halladay did for the Phillies after his team lost to the Mets Friday night, it is now up to Johan Santana to be the stopper for the Mets. Santana must be the ace he's expected to be and pitch the Mets to victory tonight.

The Mets now have a renewed feeling of positivity following their recent eight-game winning record. A winning attitude has been permeating through the clubhouse and everyone is subscribing to it.

Therefore, it behooves Santana to follow Pelfrey's poor performance on the mound with a Santana-esque outing.

In 2008, Santana was 8-3 following a Mets loss. Last year, despite the fact that the Mets finished 22 games under .500, Santana finished with a winning record (5-4) when he pitched after a Mets defeat. Therefore, despite the fact that the Mets' record over the past two seasons has been below .500 (159-165), Santana has done his best to prevent losing streaks from getting longer, going 13-7 in his outings following a Mets loss.

Tonight will be the latest opportunity for Santana to pitch the Mets back into the win column after they made an appearance in the loss column in the previous game. That's what aces are paid to do. The Mets will need their ace to do just that if they want to remain in first place in the NL East.

Winning creates a positive attitude in the clubhouse. Roy Halladay gave the Phillies that feeling yesterday. It's time for the Mets' ace to do the same for the Mets. After all, in Santana we trust.