Friday, August 8, 2008

The Increased Stress-Level From Watching The Mets

  • Mets 5-Padres 3:
I don't know if there's a team in major league baseball that's more aggravating to watch than the New York Mets. No lead is ever safe especially with the injuries and trouble they're
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having scoring runs and, with last season's epic collapse still such a fresh wound, there's an aspect of having to change channels or cover one's eyes to avoid even the possibility of a new, innovative way to lose.
In this most recent series alone the Mets, playing a dead team in the San Diego Padres, won two of three games like a boxer ahead on points and staying away just to preserve victory. On Tuesday it took three relievers to fill injured closer Billy Wagner's increasingly unbooable shoes and somehow turn a 6-2 lead into a 6-5 win. On Thursday, the bullpen blew another of Johan Santana's wins and had to wriggle out of a bases loaded, no-out situation in the eighth inning to keep the lead; then in the ninth, Scott Schoeneweis (whose forte is supposed to be dealing with lefties and who I said a few days ago should be made into the interim closer with Wagner out) gave up a game-tying homer to a lefty batter in Jody Gerut. In the bottom of the inning, Endy Chavez led off with a
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single, then Jose Reyes popped a bunt up to the pitcher. It took David Wright's game-winning homer to prevent extra innings against a team that should be used as a punching bag instead of another reason for a trip to the cardiologist.
Before he passed away, the father of former NFL quarterback Vinny Testaverde was unable to watch the games because he had a bad heart and got too excited, endangering his health. I get the same idea with most of the Mets games----win or lose----except they're not exacerbating someone's heart problem, they're causing it.
  • Good move----Rays acquire Bradford; useless move----Phillies acquire Eyre:
The Rays acquisition of Chad Bradford from the Orioles is an excellent move to augment an already strong bullpen for the Rays. Bradford is a well-liked, calm, experienced veteran who
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throws strikes with a funky submarine style of pitching and can still get out lefties if necessary. What this also does is add another dimension of diversity to the Rays bullpen. Wave after wave of different pitchers can be thrown at an opponent from Bradford and his quirky motion and minimal velocity; to the flamethrowing Grant Balfour; to the lefty J.P. Howell; to the sliders of Dan Wheeler; and the experience and meanness of closer Troy Percival. The Rays are serious about winning while they have the opening.
On the other side of the coin is the Phillies acquisition of Scott Eyre. Not only has Eyre been just awful this year, but what does it say that a team in first place like the Cubs is dealing a veteran, lefty relief pitcher to a team that they might have to face in the playoffs? While it's true that Eyre is a free agent at the end of the season, has been okay against lefties and a change sometimes awakens veterans, the Phillies also gave up a right-handed pitcher who looks like he has some ability in minor leaguer Brian Schlitter. Schlitter has 53 strikeouts in 44 innings for Clearwater in the Florida State League.
I'm wondering if the Phillies ownership is keeping tabs on what
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outgoing GM Pat Gillick is doing to try and win right now because from the deals he's made for the likes of Joe Blanton and now Eyre, it looks like he's not at all hesitant to gut the farm system of remaining prospects to win now and the team isn't even that much better because of it. While Gillick isn't a kamikaze-type GM, he may be allowing the fact that he's leaving after this season to cloud his usually solid judgment. If that's the case, the organization's going to have problems in the future with this go-for-broke mentality especially since they're only getting mediocre veterans in return.
  • Gauging the future of two of the worst teams in baseball:
I'm through waiting for the Padres to get a similar media-roasting as the Mariners have gotten this year even though they're in worse shape; but let's look at which team is going to have a better chance to jump into contention quickly.
As bad as the Mariners have been, their future is not dire. They have the goods to jump back into respectability and even contention as early as next season if they don't panic and
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do stupid things to appease critics. They need a power-hitting first baseman and may need to clear out some players whose paycheck doesn't match their production (Ichiro), but other than that, they have the one thing any contending team is going to need----pitching.
Felix Hernandez is only 22 and will be a star. Les Miserables, Erik Bedard has been a disaster, but to dump him for pennies on the dollar would make no sense for the Mariners after what they gave up to get him; he also has one thing in his favor that would indicate he's going to stay healthy in 2009 and have a big year: impending free agency. Carlos Silva can't be as bad next year as he's been this year and is still a solid back of the rotation starter; I think he's been greatly affected by the poisonous atmosphere in the Mariners clubhouse and as that improves, so will Silva. They're also making Brandon Morrow into a starting pitcher and if he can win 10-12 games next year, they've got a solid rotation. Their bullpen will still be anchored by J.J. Putz, who isn't as great as he was in 2007, but is still a top-echelon closer. If they improve the lineup and clear out some disinterested veterans, they could be pretty good next year.
What do the Padres have to look forward to for the future? Greg Maddux? Trevor Hoffman? Jody Gerut? Scott Hairston? They have an MVP candidate in Adrian Gonzalez; there are some solid youngsters in San Diego like Kevin Kouzmanoff and Chase Headley; but Chris Young can't be counted on to stay healthy and deliver more than 10-12 wins and 150-180 innings; Heath Bell will probably be a decent closer in replacing Hoffman, but is leveling off after his brilliant work last season. And Jake Peavy is going to get hurt.
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The main differences between the two organizations is that the Mariners saw that what they were doing wasn't working and are going to bring in a new GM/manager combination next season. If the manager, as rumored, is going to be Bobby Valentine, then they're going to get better and get better fast. The Padres don't appear prepared to change the road they're on by getting rid of anyone; they appear intent on moving forward as they have with downsliding veterans and journeymen. And why shouldn't they? They're not getting any of the deserved mocking and criticism that the Mariners are getting, so the pressure isn't there to change even if, on the whole, their organization is in worse shape with little hope for the future.
  • A note on Brett Favre:
Is it just me, or is there anyone else out there thinking that Brett Fav...ruh is regretting coming out of retirement to go and play for the Jets? (The following YouTube clip isn't really relevant to the above statement, but I'm just seeing if I can link a video into my blogs. Thanks to the Fulbright Scholar and his step-by-step instructions, the attempt isn't ending with me flinging my fiancee's laptop against a wall.)

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