Monday, July 2, 2007

Gettin' Silly with the Philly

It was a nice weekend for the Mets in Philly. Of course, I would have preferred that they win on Sunday to cap off the revenge sweep and kick the Phillies in the nuts at the same time, but winning 3 of 4 is just as acceptable. It is nice, overall, to see the team finally put a nice little streak together after the struggles of early June. I'm not going to officially say "They're Back," but they're pretty close.

So, for some quick hits and observations from the weekend...

Philly seems to have some sort of bizarre chip on its shoulder, has anyone noticed that? Starting from the first inning of the first game on Friday, it seemed like the Phillies were doing everything they could to somehow get in the Mets heads. First, it's Manuel checking the rosin on El Duque's hat. Then Hamels was jamming Reyes high and in. But it didn't seem to work at all. It's almost as if the Phillies seemed to think they could somehow bully the Mets into losing. But after sweeping the Mets in New York, you knew the Mets were going to be fired up, and not much was going to distract them. In fact, just about everything Philly tried ended up backfiring. El Duque got pissed off (someone on the Mets noted that "He was stomping around, yelling in 'El Duque-speak'") and subsequently pitched great, Reyes was on base. LoDuca and Beltran hit homers, and Philly only managed to eke out the last game because Heilman imploded in the 7th inning on Sunday. But trying to pull the stuff that Manuel and the Phillies tried to pull was a dangerous game to be playing with a team that looks ready to go on a run, and it certainly didn't gain the Phillies an inch.

Speaking of a Rampage...
With 2 HRs in the nightcap on Friday and 2 more on Saturday, it looks as if Beltran is about ready to go on another of his ridiculous hot streaks. And it's about damn time. We all know that Beltran had been playing hurt, and his struggles at the plate certainly didn't acquit him of anything. He needed to sit, maybe go on the DL. But he didn't. And now he appears to be healthy again and with the Mets going to Colorado and Houston this week, one of those sick, .450/.520/.745, 5HR, 14RBI weeks could be on the horizon for Mr. Beltran.

Also pretty hot of late has been Paul LoDuca. It seems like Paulie has flipped the power switch ever since his blowup last Saturday against Oakland, and even moreso after his blowup to the press on Thursday night. LoDuca's 5 HRs this season have already matched his season total from last year, and 2 of them have come in the past week. Plus, he was snubbed for the All-Star game (although, admittedly, both Martin and McCann are more worthy candidates) and perhaps that will serve to fire up Paul even further. Then there's that suspension hearing...

All-Star Snubs?
I know, I know, nobody really cares about the All-Star game, although I do find it fun to watch for about 3 or 4 innings, once they get through the Ceremonial Crotch-Grabbing that seems to take longer than the game itself. Beltran, Wright and Reyes were naturally voted in, and considering that the balloting process is basically a popularity contest (although kudos go to the fans who voted in Prince Fielder over Poo-Holes), I'm not too surprised. You could make the case that Miguel Cabrera may have been more deserving than Wright or that Rollins or J.J. Hardy were having better years than Reyes, but that's not to denigrate either of them. They're there and they absolutely deserve to be there.

Wagner also made the team, and deservedly so, considering how good he's been this season. But if there was one player on the Mets who was outright snubbed for the All-Star team, it was John Maine. Pitchers like Penny, Peavy, Sheets and Smoltz are all worthy and all deserving of an All-Star selection. But the one argument, and it's a good one, is whether or not Cole Hamels should have made the team over Maine. Now, we've seen these two match up more than once this season. The first time, at Shea, at the Home Opener, neither pitcher threw especially great and neither got a decision. The second time, last Friday night, Maine clearly outpitched Hamels, throwing into the 9th inning in a solid Mets victory. Right now, Hamels stands at 9-4, with a 3.87 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 116 strikeouts in 111.2 IP, for a third place team that has been up and down all season. Maine holds an identical record of 9-4, with an ERA of 2.74, a WHIP of 1.15 and 84 Ks in 102 IP. And Maine also won a Pitcher of the Month award for his unconscious April, and the Mets have been in first place pretty much all season. But Hamels has the reputation of being the ace on the team he pitches for. Maine has only been counted on to be a #3 starter on the Mets, although at times, he has pitched like an ace. Maine holds better numbers pretty much across the board. I wouldn't go so far as to say Hamels is a bad choice, but it's clear that Maine has been the better pitcher to this point in the season. Then again, Maine is scheduled to pitch the first game after the All-Star Break, so perhaps it's better to let him rest and rejuvenate for the second half of the season.

All the Eggs in the World can't Fix him...
Finally, we have the case of Julio Franco and his fully organic diet of 37 egg whites a day, and he can still barely make it up the first base line on the last out of Sunday's game. It's getting to the point now where it's like he is just a black hole on the bench. Putting him up at the plate is tantamount to resignation. It's obvious that he's done, and I know he's a leader on the team and a sage for the younger players, but he's a waste of a roster space. I wouldn't want to be in a key spot in the postseason and see Julio coming up. Especially with 2 outs. I'm sure it would not happen, but it is worth the consideration to think about offering him a Bench Coach position and just sort of fade him out slowly but surely as the season wears on.

Happy Anniversary To...
Sunday was the 20th Anniversary of WFAN, who has carried the Mets games on the radio ever since their inception in 1987. We can thank them for creating the monster that is the Sports Talk Radio industry in America.

So, Colorado and Houston this week. Time to break out the bats.

No comments: