Saturday, July 31, 2010

Judge Hurls Sentence At Phillies' Vomiter

The Phillies Phan who intentionally vomited on an off-duty police officer and his daughters was sentenced yesterday for his vile act, and the sentence couldn't have been more appropriate.

21-year-old Matthew Clemmens will serve 30 to 90 days in prison for his crime. He will also be on probation for two years and must complete 50 hours of community service, which also includes cleaning the bathrooms at Citizens Bank Park.

In addition, he must pay Michael Vangelos (the off-duty cop) and his family $315, which covers the cost of the five tickets used by Vangelos for the game in which the incident occurred on April 14. Vangelos has said he will donate the money to the Easton (Pa.) Police Athletic League.

The man dubbed Pukemon
by the media sobbed as he apologized for his retchiness, claiming that his parents did not raise him in that manner. (Perhaps they only raised him to boo Santa Claus and cheer when players like former Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin get injured at Eagles games.)

Judge Kevin Dougherty did not fall for Pukemon's wimpy apology. In his decision, he told Clemmens:
"Your apology, I believe, was feigned. I don't know if you were trying to hit a home run with your friends that day . . . but you struck out."

Pukemon leaves behind his parents, an 11-year old brother and this mug shot (see photo, right) for everyone to remember him by.

The Mets will be playing at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia next weekend (the Studious Metsimus/My Summer Family World Tour will be on location in Philly for the Sunday, August 8 game), where we will surely need to relieve ourselves at some point during the game.

If you see Matthew Clemmens (now appearing at a urinal near you), please be sure to "spew" your thoughts on his actions, but keep your true thoughts down. After all, you wouldn't want to give Mets fans a black eye, would you?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Impeach El Perez-idente! (The New Studious Metsimus Facebook Fan Page)

"Four years and seven walks ago, our general manager brought forth, upon this fanbase, a screwed pitcher. We were deceived at Citi, and stated our position that all pitchers weren't created equal."

--New York Mettysburg Address (July 30, 2010)

It was indeed four years (but more than seven walks) ago tomorrow that Oliver Perez was traded to the Mets along with Roberto Hernandez for rightfielder and fan-favorite Xavier Nady.

The deal was necessitated because reliever Duaner Sanchez got a case of the midnight munchies in Miami and was involved in an accident as a passenger in a taxicab. The fender bender led to a shoulder injury to Sanchez and left a gaping hole in the bullpen, one that was filled by Roberto Hernandez, but also gave us El Perez-idente himself, Oliver Perez.

Let's hop into the DeLorean, adjust the flux capacitor and travel to the winter following the 2008 season (but don't let the same guy from Duaner's taxicab drive it). The Mets were in need of a starting pitcher, coveted Derek Lowe, but let him sign with Atlanta for four years and $60 million. The only other option was their little free agent that couldn't, Oliver Perez.

At three years and $36 million, the Mets felt they had scored a coup, keeping the 26-year-old Perez, who had just compiled a 25-17 record over the past two seasons. Of course, the Mets seemed to ignore the fact that Ollie had walked a league-leading 105 batters in 2008 despite the 10-7 record.

What has that $36 million contract gotten the Mets? A 3-8 record, 6.56 ERA and 94 walks in only 107 innings.

What has that same contract gotten Oliver Perez? How about the wrath of hundreds of thousands of Mets fans, the butt of more jokes than his pitch count over five innings and a Facebook fan page brought about by the creators of Studious Metsimus and My Summer Family called "Impeach El-Perez-idente!" You can check out the page and become a fan by clicking here.

Four years ago today, Duaner Sanchez's need for Dominican food during sleepy time put him in a position to be in the car accident that forever changed his career. Mets fans choose to remember that day for another reason. It was the day that caused Oliver Perez to become a Met.

Unfortunately, there has been no one-term limit for El Perez-idente in New York. He is now entering his fifth year as a Met and is still under contract for another.

The Mets might not be able to get rid of Ollie for Roy Oswalt's jock strap (Houston wanted equal value for the pitcher's "equipment"), but Mets fans can get rid of their anger by joining us in saying "Impeach El Perez-idente!"

Thursday, July 29, 2010


R.A. Dickey was not supposed to contribute much to the 2010 Mets. After all, how much can a team expect from a guy who only had 22 major league wins and 5.43 career ERA over his first seven major league seasons? Surely, the Mets were only expecting to have him as a backup who would occasionally get a spot start if needed.

Then Oliver Perez and John Maine went down with injuries, proving that occasionally Mets fans' prayers are answered. Up came R.A. Dickey, who was only supposed to fill in as a starter until half of the original lineup of Johan Santana and The Four Rainouts returned from their injuries.

Fourteen starts later, Dickey is not only still in the rotation, he is a key cog in the Mets' quest to have meaningful games in September.

Today, Dickey floated his knuckleball past the Cardinals for 8.1 innings, allowing only four hits and two walks. The 4-0 victory was the major league leading 14th shutout by the Mets, and was the fifth time Dickey held his opponent scoreless while he was on the mound. For his efforts, Dickey earned his first victory since June 23.

Prior to today's outing, through no fault of his own, Dickey had failed to win a start in the month of July. The Mets had lost all five of his starts despite fantastic performances in all five outings (1.89 ERA, .230 batting average against, .271 OBP).

Today looked like a day Dickey was going to have to carry the team on his own. The Mets had just suffered an 8-7, 13-inning defeat last night in a game that took over four and a half hours to complete. The offense, which had inexcusably been missing for most of the month of July now had an excuse to be absent after playing for so long last night. In addition to the tired offense, David Wright had been given the day off after appearing to break out of his mini-slump by collecting three hits last night. Had the Mets been shut out today, would anyone have been surprised?

Then Ike Davis (who had been given the night off on Wednesday so that Mike Hessman could get his first start for the Mets at first base) gave Dickey all the runs he needed by breaking the scoreless tie with a three-run homer in the third inning of today's game. Once Dickey had the lead, he carved through the Cardinals' lineup, facing one batter above the minimum until the ninth inning, when he got into a bit of trouble and had to be relieved by Frankie Rodriguez.

Today's game marked the 12th time in 14 starts that Dickey has given up three earned runs or less. By comparison, since signing his three-year, $36 million deal prior to the 2009 season, Oliver Perez has also given up three earned runs or less in exactly 12 starts. It took R.A. Dickey a little over two months to do what Oliver Perez has done in one and a half years (and has been paid handsomely to do so).

Speaking of the impeached El Perez-idente, Ollie has not pitched more than 6.1 innings in any of his 21 starts since signing the aforementioned three-year contract. What about Robert Alan Dickey? He has pitched at least six innings in 12 of his 14 starts. However, one of the two starts where he did not make it through the sixth inning was last Sunday, when Jerry Manuel pulled the non-injured Dickey from the game because of apparent injury. The removal angered Dickey, who had only thrown 70 pitches and was pitching a two-hit shutout against the Dodgers at the time.

A well-rested Dickey put aside his differences with Dead Manuel Walking to handcuff the non-rested Cardinals today. In doing so, Dickey lowered his ERA to 2.32, which would be good enough for fourth in the National League if he had enough innings pitched.

(Special note: Dickey falls just short of qualifying for the ERA title, as he has pitched 92 innings over the Mets' first 102 games. A pitcher must pitch one inning for every game his team has played to be considered among the league leaders. I hope you're taking notes, as this will be on the quiz.)

R.A. Dickey has been better than expected since being promoted to the major leagues. The 35-year-old journeyman pitcher has gone from fill-in to dependable starter over the course of the past two months.

With John Maine's Met career almost certain to be over and Oliver Perez banned from taking the mound within two hours of the Star Spangled Banner, it appears as if R.A. Dickey and his tantalizing knuckleball might be a part of the Mets' rotation beyond this season. How Dickey-licious is that?

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Clash of Opinions: Should I Cheer Or Should I Boo?

There is a lot of turmoil in Mets-tropolis. R.A. Dickey was clashing with Jerry Manuel when the manager removed him from yesterday's game. The fans are clashing with the front office for not doing anything to improve the team. What's a blogger to do with all this clashing going on? You guessed it. It's song parody time!

What better song to choose than the classic hit by The Clash (duh, like you didn't know where this was going) called "Should I Stay or Should I Go?". The song was released as a single in 1982 (and performed by The Clash in concert at Shea Stadium that October. Betcha didn't know that?), right before the Mets became a good team again. Will this song parody I've written help the current Mets get better?

No, that would be silly. Scoring more runs will make them better. Even Dead Manuel Walking can figure that out while he's pointing out the next relief pitcher he's going to use not named Frankie Rodriguez.

I've said enough. It's time to tap your cleats to the song parody. Here is the song set to the Clash's hit single from 1982. This one is called "Should I Cheer or Should I Boo?"

Mets fans, you've gotta let me know
Should I cheer or should I boo?
If you say "make up your mind!"
I'll ask you 'till we're at inning nine.
So before you hear "play ball!"
Should I cheer or should I boo?

The Mets just tease tease tease
And Jerry still trots out Ollie
Like a bad fish, he'll throw him back
To give us fans a heart attack
So before to Citi I go
Should I cheer or should I boo?

Should I cheer or should I boo now?
Should I cheer or should I boo now?
If I cheer at Reyes' double
Then I'll miss Castillo stumble
Don't know which way I will go...

To cheer? To boo? It's bugging me
And so's the last month by Pelfrey
Will K-Rod pitch the tenth inning?
No way, says Dead Manuel Walking
Maybe it's time for him to go
I'm not cheering him anymo'

Should I cheer or should I boo now?
Should I cheer or should I boo now?
Can Beltran run down a fly ball?
Will the coaching staff take the fall?
Can't these guys win on the road?
I should cool it or I'm gonna blow

Should I cheer or should I boo now?
Should I cheer or should I boo now?
Jerry Manuel's in trouble
His team's been reduced to rubble
Cheering will get a big fat NO!
That's right, I'm going to BEE-OH-OH!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Gil Hodges: A Mets Legend, But Not A Dodger Great

I was watching the Mets-Dodgers game on Friday night and something caught my eye when Jamey Carroll came up to bat. Something about the red number on his white Dodger jersey stood out for me. Jamey Carroll was wearing #14.

Instantly, my thoughts turned to former Mets manager and Dodger great Gil Hodges, whose #14 has been retired by the Mets. Then I wondered, "wait a minute, does that mean Gil Hodges' number hasn't been retired by the Dodgers?"

At first, I thought Hodges might have worn another number when he played for the Dodgers, so I did some research and found out that he did wear #4 as a teenager for the Dodgers in 1943. However, that uniform only saw game action one time.

Hodges made his major league debut as a fresh-faced 19-year-old in the Dodgers' regular season finale on October 3, 1943. Starting at third base (a position he didn't play again until 1957), he made three plate appearances in the game, going 0-for-2 with a walk and a stolen base. After the game, he did not return to the major leagues until 1947 due to military service for the United States Marine Corps.

When he returned to the major leagues in 1947, he came back as a catcher. He was Bruce Edwards' backup during the season most known for Jackie Robinson's major league debut. Hodges was still not at his customary first base position because Robinson was the team's first baseman during his rookie season.

In 1948, Hodges began his second full season with the Dodgers, this time as their primary catcher. However, future Hall-of-Famer Roy Campanella was waiting in the wings, potentially leaving Hodges without a position. However, by that time, Jackie Robinson had already been playing some games at second base, shifting back and forth between first and second base as needed. So in one of his final moves before being let out of his contract to manage the New York Giants, manager Leo Durocher moved Gil Hodges to first base and Jackie Robinson to second base on a permanent basis on June 29. Three days later, Campanella became the Dodgers' #1 catcher.

The move to first base launched what should have been a Hall-of-Fame career for Hodges. His first full season as a first baseman in 1949 produced the first of seven consecutive seasons in which Hodges drove in 100 or more runs. Prior to Hodges' seven year stretch of 100 RBI seasons, the only National League player to have a longer streak of consecutive years with 100 or more RBI was Mel Ott, who accomplished the feat eight straight years for the Giants from 1929-1936.

The 1950s were owned by the Dodger duo of Duke Snider and Gil Hodges. Only two players in the major leagues hit as many as 300 home runs and drove in at least 1,000 runs over the decade. Those two players were Snider and Hodges. Snider was the decade's top power hitter, collecting 326 HR and 1,031 RBI, but Hodges was not far behind, hitting 310 HR and driving in 1,001 runs in the 1950s.

For a time, Gil Hodges was the National League's all-time career home run leader for right-handed batters. When he retired as a player following the 1963 season, his career total of 370 home runs was the tenth highest total in major league history. Only Jimmie Foxx had more home runs as a right-handed batter at the time.

Hodges' exploits for the Dodgers were not limited to his performance at the plate. He was also an outstanding defensive player. From 1949-1961, Hodges finished in the top five in fielding percentage every year, leading all first basemen in fielding percentage in 1949, 1950, 1960 and 1961. For his defensive prowess, he was awarded with three Gold Glove Awards in 1957, 1958 and 1959. He could have won more Gold Gloves, but the prestigious award did not exist before 1957, meaning Hodges was the initial recipient of the award at the first base position.

It is clear from the information above that Hodges was not just a good player, he was a great player, one of the best in the 1950s. He was one of the premier sluggers of his era and was not one-dimensional, as evidenced by his defensive numbers and awards. Yet somehow, despite all his talent, the Dodgers have failed to retire his number.

The Dodgers have retired ten numbers over their long and storied history. Nine of the ten men who wore those numbers are in the Hall of Fame. The only man whose number has been retired by the Dodgers and has not been enshrined into Cooperstown is Jim Gilliam.

Gilliam, a teammate of Hodges from 1953-1961, had a good, but not great career in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. The 1953 National League Rookie of the Year started off strongly, scoring 100 or more runs in each of his first four seasons in the major leagues. However, in his final ten years in the majors, he was mediocre at best, never scoring 100 runs again, and only hitting .259 after 1956. He was even worse in the postseason.

In 39 career World Series games (there were no divisional playoff series or league championship series prior to 1969), Gilliam hit a mere .211 with only 15 runs scored, despite the fact that he was counted on to be a tablesetter in the powerful Dodger lineup.

After the 1964 season, Gilliam became a player-coach for the Dodgers and became a full-time coach after his retirement as a player in 1966. He continued to coach the Dodgers, helping them to two National League pennants in 1974 and 1977, and was a part of the coaching staff on the 1978 team that eventually repeated as National League Champions. Sadly, Gilliam did not live to see the Dodgers return to the World Series that year. On September 15, he suffered a massive brain hemorrhage and lapsed into a coma from which he did not awaken. Gilliam passed away on October 8, one day after the Dodgers won the National League pennant. On October 10, right before the Dodgers played the opening game of the World Series, Gilliam's #19 was retired by the team to honor his services as a player and a coach.

It is possible that Gilliam's number might never have been retired had he not passed away when he did. He played 14 seasons for the Dodgers and was great in the first four years of his playing career, but only good over the final ten years. He only coached for the team, never managing them. Yet his number has been elevated to a level that Gil Hodges' number has not.

Meanwhile, the Mets have retired Gil Hodges' number. He played for the team in 1962 and 1963, but was already on the downside of his great career. He only played in 65 games for the Mets over those two seasons, compiling a .248 average with 9 HR and 20 RBI over 167 at-bats. His legacy for the Mets was cemented when he became their manager after he was traded by the Washington Senators to New York in November 1967.

In his initial campaign as Mets' skipper in 1968, he led the franchise to their best season at the time, finishing in ninth place in the ten-team National League with a 73-89 record. He shocked the baseball world the following season when he led the Mets to their first 100-win season and the World Series championship.

Although the team didn't revert to its losing ways after their title, they were only mediocre in Hodges' next two seasons as manager, finishing with identical 83-79 records in 1970 and 1971. Sadly, just before beginning his fifth season as manager of the Mets, Hodges died of a heart attack while playing golf with members of his coaching staff in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Despite the memorable 1969 season, Hodges' record in his other three seasons as Mets manager was eight games below .500 (239 wins, 247 losses). Yet, he is regarded as the man who brought the Mets from lovable losers to confident contenders during his tenure as manager. For being an original Met and for leading the team out of the cellar in the National League, the Mets retired his number in 1973.

Since Hodges' death in 1972, no Met has worn his #14 jersey. However, the Dodgers have given his number to journeyman players like Jamey Carroll. Other than Jim Gilliam, do the Dodgers only care about their great players, coaches and managers AFTER they get elected into the Hall of Fame?

Gary Carter's number hasn't been officially retired by the Mets, but ever since he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2003, no Met has worn his #8. The Dodgers don't have to retire Gil Hodges' number if they don't want to. They can choose to retire it if the Veterans Committee decides to enshrine Hodges into the Hall of Fame (he fell one vote short in 1993). But for the love of Tommy Lasorda, don't give Hodges' number to guys like Jamey Carroll.

Gil Hodges was a leader, both offensively and defensively, for a Dodger team that won seven National League pennants during his tenure with the team. He should be treated like one by the Dodgers. The Mets have honored their field general by respectfully retiring his number. Shouldn't the Dodgers do the same?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Jason Bay: The Human Windmill

For many years, environmentalists have been looking for energy sources that do not consume fuel or contribute to the excessive amounts of pollution in the air. One of the energy sources that satisfy those criteria is wind. And one of the best wind generators in recent times is right here in New York, wearing #44 for the Mets.

That's right, Mets fans. Jason Bay's daily strikeouts might be bad for the Mets, but they're quite good for the planet. If scientists can find a way to harness the wind generated by his repeated swings and misses, perhaps our leftfielder can actually earn his previously undeserved salary after all.

Since his last day off on July 1, Bay has been generating great quantities of wind energy. In 15 games, he has struck out 20 times in 58 at-bats. Over the same stretch of games, he is hitting .155 (9-for-58) with no home runs, which explains his barely-there .207 slugging percentage.

By comparison, over that same stretch, Johan Santana is batting .222, has picked up a home run and has a .556 slugging percentage. Basically, Johan Santana has been a better power threat in July than our $66 million man.

It should therefore come as no surprise that Jerry Manuel has decided to give Jason Bay the night off tonight in the first game of a four-game series at Dodger Stadium. In fact, all three members of the Not-So-Killer B's (Bay, Barajas, Beltran) will spend tonight's game on another B - the bench.

Jason Bay has never been a great contact hitter. In fact, he's struck out at least 129 times every full season he's been in the majors, including a career-high 162 whiffs last year with the Red Sox. However, he's also never looked so helpless at the plate, where the only positive Mets fans can draw from a Bay at-bat is that he hustles out every ground ball that more often than not becomes an out anyway.

Carlos Beltran had a subpar year in his first season with the Mets after signing a rich contract prior to the 2005 season. However, he was consistent from month to month, even if that consistency was below his standards. He also heated up in July, batting .290 and driving in 17 runs, which represented his highest monthly total that year.

Unlike Beltran in 2005, Bay has not had a July to remember. In fact, Bay has gone from consistently bad to consistently worse. After hitting a commendable .303 with 18 runs scored and 15 RBI in May, his numbers dipped to .250 with 11 runs scored and 13 RBI in June, followed by his forgettable July, in which he has hit .169 with three runs scored and 8 RBI (half of those eight runs batted in came in one game, on July 4 against the Nationals). And of course, there are those increasing strikeout totals...

It's not just THAT he's striking out, it's WHEN he's striking out. With men on base, Bay is only hitting .224. He's also more apt to go down swinging than go up hitting, as evidenced by his 49 strikeouts with men on base as opposed to his 36 hits in those situations. Similarly, with runners in scoring position, Bay morphs from run producer to windmill. In those situations, Bay has struck out 32 times in 94 at-bats, while picking up only 24 hits. That's right, he strikes out 34% of the time when he bats with runners in scoring position.

Perhaps Bay is just taking a full year to get used to playing in New York. Beltran had a poor first season in New York, then followed it up with an MVP-caliber season in 2006. However, at least Beltran showed some signs of life after the midpoint of the season. Bay has yet to do so. In fact, for every step he appears to take forward, he follows that up with two steps back (and probably a strikeout or four).

The world might have a use for Jason Bay's wind-generating ability when he comes to bat. But we Mets fans have a better use for a player that has contributed very little in clutch situations and has underperformed in almost every offensive category. Perhaps benchwarmer is a better position for Jason Bay than left field. Tonight, that's the position he will play. If he doesn't want to become a regular there, he'd better stop being the Human Windmill and start becoming the hitter we thought we were getting.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Tale of Two Franciscos

The cast and crew of Studious Metsimus (along with the genius behind My Summer Family) made a trip to San Francisco this past weekend in the hopes of seeing the Mets win a few ballgames against one their rivals in the National League Wild Card race.

Another Francisco (not a San, but a Frankie) did his best to give the Giants a chance to sweep, but some bad umpiring and a timely hit by Ike Davis allowed the Studious Metsimus/My Summer Family World Tour to leave the Bay Area with one victory in four games.

As seen in the photo above, whenever F-Rod comes into a game, Mets fans feel like their team needs an insurance policy in the bullpen. (State Farm? Nationwide? Chico's Bail Bonds?) But seriously, what insurance provider would be foolish enough to cover the team that gave $37 million to Mr. BS (Blown Save) for three years?

In case you hadn't noticed in the paragraph above, Studious Metsimus will no longer refer to our closer as K-Rod. Instead, we will call him F-Rod, pronounced like the word "fraud". Feel free to call him BB-Rod as well, since he has a better chance of issuing a base on balls than registering a "K".

With F-Rod giving up leads left and right, especially when members of Studious Metsimus and My Summer Family are in attendance (as detailed here), I'd rather take my chances on Fernando Nieve, with or without his dentures, in the ninth inning.

That being said, our trip to San Francisco was still quite pleasant, despite the three losses in four games. From visiting the Golden Gate Bridge to dining at fine restaurants (La Cumbre Taqueria and Uncle's Cafe in Chinatown top the list), San Francisco gave us a warm welcome wrapped in a 68-degree breeze.

Of course, some Giants fans were rude to us, especially after their third victory of the series, but once the My Summer Family portion of our World Tour reminded those fans of the number of World Series championships their beloved San Francisco Giants had claimed since moving to California (think Jason Bay's home run total minus six), they were quickly put in their place.

No leg of the World Tour would be complete without photos, so please enjoy the selected shots from the Westernmost stop of the Tour:

Although Carlos Beltran returned to the lineup in San Francisco, the offense didn't follow him out west. The Mets have scored four runs or less in every game for the past two weeks and must right their ship quickly or else any move they make at the trade deadline won't be enough to save their season.

Also, F-Rod must find a way to become the closer Omar Minaya expected him to be when he signed him to the three-year, $37 million contract in December 2008. Meltdowns against San Diego, Washington and San Francisco (three teams not known for having an intimidating offense) must not become the norm if the Mets want to have meaningful games in September.

As for the Studious Metsimus staff, our season of touring major league ballparks is still going strong. We will be visiting the Keystone State on two occasions in August, first in Philadelphia and then Pittsburgh. Let's hope the Mets' bats and Francisco Rodriguez's mojo join us on the trip.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

It's A Dirty Job, But Carlos Beltran Can Do It

The Beltran is coming! The Beltran is coming! After missing the entire first half of the season, Carlos Beltran will be making his season debut for the Mets on Thursday night at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

According to Adam Rubin for, Beltran will be batting cleanup for the Mets in their first game after the All-Star Break, which is also their first game of a season-long 11-game road trip.

By batting Beltran in the cleanup spot, the Mets will be able to move the slumping Ike Davis (.186 over his last 16 games) and Jason Bay (his power has been spotted on the side of milk cartons under "Have You Seen Me?") down a spot in the batting order, while keeping David Wright in the three-hole.

Angel Pagan will not be relegated to the bench with the addition of Carlos Beltran. He will be playing right field and batting second in the new Mets lineup.

This means Jeff Francoeur will be losing playing time to Angel Pagan. Pagan will probably get some starts in center field when Beltran needs a day off during the first few weeks after his promotion back to the major leagues.

Francoeur has definitely not been playing like an everyday player recently, hitting .135 over his last 11 games. His OBP and slugging percentage is .179 and .162, respectively, meaning that Johan Santana has been a more reliable power source recently than Jeff Francoeur.

As for Beltran's past experience in the cleanup spot, he's actually been more effective there than in any other spot in the lineup that he has seen regularly. He has accumulated 876 at-bats as a cleanup hitter over his career, mostly over the 2007 and 2008 seasons for the Mets (627 at-bats over those seasons). These are his numbers as a cleanup hitter and at other spots in the batting order over those two seasons:

2007 (cleanup hitter): .310, 13 HR, 45 RBI in 168 at-bats (12.9 AB/HR)
2007 (other spots): .262, 20 HR, 67 RBI in 386 at-bats (19.3 AB/HR)

2008 (cleanup hitter): .290, 22 HR, 91 RBI in 459 at-bats (20.9 AB/HR)
2008 (other spots): .265, 5 HR, 21 RBI in 147 at-bats (29.4 AB/HR)

Overall, Beltran has hit .299 as a cleanup hitter over his career, as opposed to .280 in all other spots in the order. His career OBP and slugging percentage of .383 and .524 as a cleanup hitter are also better than his percentages in other spots in the batting order (.356 OBP, .493 slugging pct.)

The first half might have ended with a poor homestand, but the Mets have quite a bit to look forward to in the second half. With the return of Carlos Beltran, the Mets offense has taken a big step in the right direction and gives the team more offensive flexibility that should produce positive results throughout the rest of the season.

It's Not About Getting A Pitcher, It's About Doing This...

As Major League Baseball moves into its All-Star Break, it's time to reflect on the Mets and what they need to do to improve the team in the second half. Whereas many people have been clamoring for another starting pitcher before the trading deadline on July 31, I don't think that's the answer. In fact, I think the team just needs to improve some things internally, things that have nothing or very little to do with starting pitching.

The Mets enter the All-Star Break trailing the Braves by four games in the National League East. Upon doing some research, I noticed the following things that have contributed to the gap between the two rivals in the division.

The Mets are 19-28 in games decided by two runs or less (10-15 in one-run games; 9-13 in two-run games). At the same time, the Braves are 22-20 in those games (14-12 in one-run games; 8-8 in two-run games).

The Mets have held their opponent to one run or less 22 times this season. They're 22-0 in those games, meaning that they're 26-40 when they give up two runs or more. Meanwhile, the Braves are 13-1 when they give up one run or less but they're 39-35 when they allow two runs or more.

The Mets have won three games in walk-off fashion, while painfully losing ten games in the opponents' final at-bat. The Braves have been quite successful in games that end in a walk-off, winning eight games in a walk-off, while losing only four.

The Mets have come from behind to win 11 games this season, while blowing the lead in 18 of their losses. On the other hand, the Braves have registered 25 comeback wins this season, while only losing 16 games in which they had the lead.

Many teams can expect to have a winning record in games where they give up anywhere from 2 to 5 runs in a game. The Mets are 21-21 in those such games. What about the Braves? You guessed it. The Braves are 36-21 when they allow anywhere from 2 to 5 runs in a game.

Francisco Rodriguez has pitched in 42 games this year. In 33 of those appearances, he pitched exactly one inning. In 13 of those 33 appearances, he faced a minimum of five batters. That means he has allowed a minimum of two baserunners in almost 40% of his one-inning outings. What about those nine appearances in which he did not pitch exactly one inning? He's far worse in those outings. In six of those nine appearances (67%), he allowed two baserunners or more. That includes last week's debacle against the Nationals where he faced seven batters and only retired one of them.

K-Rod has faced the minimum in only 14 of his 42 appearances. As a result, he has thrown fewer than 10 pitches in only four of those 42 appearances (including today's eight-pitch save against the Braves), while throwing at least 20 pitches in 16 of those games.

So how can the Mets improve their team in the second half of the season? Looking at the information above, it's pretty simple.

The Mets have to be able to pull out the close games. There have been too many times this year when a starting pitcher's best efforts have been wasted because the offense remained dormant. At the same time, on days when the bullpen has been needed to keep games close, they have failed too many times, especially on the road (hence the unusually high number of walk-off losses). Scoring early and often will allow starting pitchers to pitch without having extra pressure attached to every pitch and will allow Jerry Manuel to use his bullpen sparingly, not having to overuse certain relievers.

Whenever the opposing team scores first, the Mets must respond quickly before the game gets out of hand. How many times have we seen the Mets fall behind by four or five runs, only to mount a late-inning comeback that eventually falls short (yet another reason for their less-than-stellar record in games decided by two runs or less)? If the Mets would start coming back as soon as they fall behind, they'd have more innings in which to mount their comeback, instead of having to do it in one big swoop. By starting rallies earlier in games, there is a better chance that these rallies come against a less effective middle reliever instead of the more effective set-up men, lefty specialists and closers.

Although Francisco Rodriguez pitched well today, more often than not, he has spiked the sales of Rolaids to levels not seen since Davey Johnson had them with every meal. Closers have to be able to pitch one-two-three innings. They are supposed to be the firemen of the squad, not the arsonists. Too many times this season, K-Rod has put the tying and go-ahead runs on base and of course, more often than we'd like, those runners have come around to score. Frankie will need to stop trying to throw his pitches through the catcher's mitt and start concentrating more on making pitches where they need to be pitched. At the same time, Jerry Manuel cannot be afraid to have another reliever warming up in the bullpen whenever Frankie puts men on base. Forget about damaging Frankie's ego by showing a lack of trust in his ability to pitch through the inning. What about damaging the Mets' chances for a victory by leaving him in the game on days when he doesn't have his "A" game?

Fixing these problems that have plagued the Mets throughout the first half of the season will go a long way towards determining where they finish in the division. A trade for a starting pitcher will not improve the Mets' ability to score runs in bunches, will not do anything to limit the number of walk-off losses and will not bring K-Rod's pitch count down. If they get a new starting pitcher, I will not complain. However, if they keep committing the same mistakes that led to so many unnecessary losses in the first half, don't expect to see October baseball in Flushing for a fourth consecutive season.

The Voice of God Is Silenced: R.I.P. Bob Sheppard

In lieu of our usual attempt at witty commentary on the state of the Mets, Studious Metsimus would like to step aside to talk about something that has affected not only the Yankee community, but all of baseball as well.

With sadness in our hearts, we regret to inform you that legendary public address announcer Bob Sheppard passed away this morning at the age of 99.

The man who Reggie Jackson dubbed "The Voice of God" served as public address announcer for the Yankees from April 17, 1951 (Yankees vs. Red Sox) until the end of the 2007 season, when deteriorating health forced him to move away from the microphone.

Mr. Sheppard also served as the public address announcer for the New York Giants football team from 1956 to 2006.

Mr. Sheppard was a true New Yorker, born and raised in Mets country, Queens. In 1932, he graduated as president of his class at St. John's University (which is also the alma mater of this Studious Metsimus blogger). He later went on to teach speech at St. John's, although I never had the honor to take his course.

As a person who was far more comfortable with the written word than the spoken word (hence why I'm a blogger), I eschewed speech for other courses until I was forced to take it during my senior year. Mr. Sheppard was not teaching a speech course at a time I could take it during my senior year.

Although Mr. Sheppard always claimed that his work as a professor of speech was much more important than his work as an announcer, his legacy will always be as "The Voice of God", the man behind the microphone at Yankee Stadium and Giants Stadium.

His legend is so great that the Yankees have a plaque dedicated to Mr. Sheppard in Yankee Stadium's Monument Park, an area usually reserved for the great athletes who wore the Yankee pinstripes.

Both of the stadiums that were home to Mr. Sheppard are no longer with us. Now the man whose voice reverberated through those hallowed halls has left us as well. Rest in peace, Mr. Sheppard. Although your stay on this Earth was only temporary, your voice is everlasting and will be heard and recognized throughout eternity.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mr. Beartran Goes To Washington

Greetings, everyone! It's your fav'rit Studious Metsimus blogger/roving reporter/culinary expert Joey Beartran. Today I'm going to give you a recap of our trip to Washington, DC, where we went to see the Mets play the Nationals and posed security threats by getting way too close to the White House when the Secret Service wasn't looking (see photo, left).

We headed for Washington at an ungodly hour, leaving the house just after sunrise (for a Saturday, that IS an ungodly hour). Of course, since the game was a nationally televised FOX Game of The Week because of the start by Nats' phenom Stephen Strasburg, we had plenty of time to kill. And what better way to kill time than by stopping at Cracker Barrel?

It took quite some time to decide what I wanted for breakfast, (after all, I am the resident culinary expert) but once I decided, I gave a quick point to the menu and got ready for my delicious Cracker Barrel breakfast.

Of course, the Mid-Atlantic hospitality was quickly erased by the Mid-Atlantic "duh" factor. I asked for pancakes and such, but only got the "and such". Also, the orange juice was 95% pulp. When we were asked if we wanted our orange juice with pulp, we said no. Then our waitress said "well, that's all we have".

I was going to argue with her but I was afraid she'd say "Kiss My Grits" and I wasn't going to mess with Flo. (On a positive note, the unkissed grits were actually pretty good.)

I wanted to go someplace to get a better beverage since I was left unfulfilled at Cracker Barrel. My co-blogger just wanted to get to Washington. He was going to suggest we play "Rock, Paper, Scissors" to decide, but I wasn't going to fall for it. After all, I have no fingers, so I could never throw down scissors with my paw. Instead, we decided it like men have for centuries.

We played checkers.

Of course, I won the match with one of my patented moves that he never saw coming. (I told him, "Look over there! It's Keith Hernandez!", at which time he twirled around in his rocking chair and I made a triple jump that I'm not sure was legal, but as I said before...he never saw it coming.)

So from Cracker Barrel, we went to a Dunkin' Donuts in Havre De Grace, MD (birthplace of Orioles' legend and baseball Hall-of-Famer Cal Ripken, Jr.) where I indulged in a made-to-order Vanilla Bean Coolatta. (no pulp here!) Although it was hot out, I'm glad I wore my hoodie. It prevented me from getting brain freeze!

So we made it to Washington about two hours before game time. We drove by the ballpark and decided to keep going to see the historical part of our nation's capital, since we knew we wouldn't find anything historic at Nationals Park.

We saw the White House, the Washington Momument, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and the World War II Memorial (where I sat in front of the memorial to Puerto Rico, the home of Alex Cora, Angel Pagan, Carlos Beltran and Los Hermanos Feliciano - Pedro and Jesus, who are not really hermanos. Not sure if they're brothers either.)

So now it was time for the main event; the Mets vs. the Nationals! If you want a recap of the game, here's the condensed version. We lost. There, now it's back to what you're really here for: MORE STORY AND PICTURES!!

Teddy Roosevelt has never won a Presidents Race at Nationals Park. Clearly, it's taken a toll on him psychologically, as seen by what he did to me when I asked to be photographed with him.

The stadium was okay aesthetically, but our seats were somewhere south of Guam (and north of the middle deck of Nationals Park), so we decided to walk around the ballpark to see what Washingtonian cuisine was like.

I have to say I was impressed with the food selections (see photos below). There were supersized deli sandwiches, chicken and waffle sandwiches, and chili nachos (which I wanted to wash down with a tall lime smoothie or two, but I wasn't allowed because apparently, we bought the adult version of the lime smoothie - Thanks for nothing, co-blogger!)

Upon completion of the game, it was time to go home after a long day of baseball, sightseeing, food sampling and that stupid Francisco Rodriguez walking light-hitting Cristian Guzman (who recently graduated from the Luis Castillo School of Power Hitting) on four pitches, then giving up a single to Met-killer Willie Harris, who was hitting .150 at the time. If that wasn't enough, he then walked another batter to load the bases, gave up a near-grand slam to Adam Dunn (which came back into the ballpark for a game-tying double), intentionally walked the next batter to load up the bases, then gave up the 10th walk-off hit up by a Mets pitcher this year when AARP member Ivan Rodriguez stroked a single to right.

But I'm not here to recap the game for you. I already told you clearly and concisely that they lost five paragraphs ago. I'm not bitter about it. But I did want to get out of Dodge, so we drove back home and relaxed overnight in Party Town USA, better known as Wilmington, Delaware.

Overall, the experience was pretty good. It would have been better had the Mets won and had Francisco Rodriguez gotten into a taxi to get Venezuelan food the night before. However, the trip was well worth it.

I got to meet Flo for the first time, even though she gave me very little orange juice to go with my pulp. I sampled an authentic Maryland Vanilla Bean Coolatta. I had my first chicken and waffle sandwich, even though I was made fun of for not putting syrup on it and for eating it with a fork. And best of all, I beat my colleague in checkers! What could be better than that?

Thanks to my colleague and the blogger formerly known as Aunt Coop for helping Mr. Beartran go to Washington. The Mets couldn't win one for the Beartran, but they did provide the backdrop for a fun time.

Where will my next road trip be? You'll find out before the end of the month. Until then (with apologies to Casey Kasem), remember to keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the nachos (but not mine).