News and Notes: 4/19 – 4/25

    Have we just been shown the future? So far, it seems that we were on Monday night when the celebrated Mets prospect, Ike Davis, was called up from Triple-A to take the place of the dismal Mike Jacobs, who was designated for assignment.  Just a few hours after Davis was suiting up for another game in the minor leagues, he was celebrating a victory over the Chicago Cubs, as well as a night in which he went 2 for 4 with an RBI.  Since then, Davis has hit at a .318 clip, going 7 for 22 with 5 runs, 2 RBIs and a homerun, a monster 450-footer launched past the right-center wall against the Braves on Friday.

   
    It’s not just Davis who has showed up to play this week, however.  Since the highly-touted first baseman sported his new Mets uniform, the Metropolitans have gone 6-1 while winning their first series of the season against the Cubs and sweeping their NL East foe Braves. 
    
    Can 23 year-old Ike Davis really be the reason for this sudden turn around in Flushing?  Maybe not, but he definitely seems to be a part of it.  Before Monday, the Mets shiny new Canadian toy had been in a dismal funk.  Since Monday he has started to heat up.  This may also be due to the “Jerry Manuel shuffle.”  No, I’m not talking about some new dance craze performed on the streets of New York.  I’m talking about the highly criticized line-up change in which the Mets manager moved the notorious lead-off man, Jose Reyes, from number one in the batting order, to number three: that’s right, directly in front of the cleanup spot, occupied by Bay.  Since this move, Bay is 5-9, with 2 RBIs, 1 run, 2 walks, and 0 (yes ZERO) strikeouts.  This is a big stat, as Bay had struck out an epic 23 times in 58 tries prior to the change.  (It may also be worth noting that Reyes has not suffered from the change of scenery, as he has batted .300, scored 3 runs, hit a triple, and continued to steal 2 more bases).
    So this week has been a week of change for the Mets.  Everyone knows that change is good, right?  And why shouldn’t the Mets try something new?  It’s easy to see that what they were doing prior to this week wasn’t really working, so maybe this is the start of a new season for New York.  A new first baseman, a new batting order, a re-surging Jason Bay, a series sweep, a consistently dominant Mike Pelfrey, and an above .500 record for the first time since opening day?  Sounds like a pretty good week to me.
 

Is Ricky for Real?

  A no-hitter is a beautiful thing.  It is near-perfect performance in the art of pitching, where the pitcher continues to get out after out without allowing a single hit by the other team.  We, as an audience, are so infatuated by such a feat because of the great amount of skill, adjustment, athleticism, and, yes, luck that is required in just the right amount to get 27 hitless outs against some of the best baseball players in the world.  

  The last pitcher to treat baseball fans to a no-hitter (well, actually it was a perfect game) was Mark Buehrle in his beautiful performance against Tamba Bay on July 23, 2009.  Although there have been a few pitchers to flirt with history already in this young season: namely CC Sabathia’s outstanding performance against the Rays on April 10, when he carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning, none have looked more promising than Ricky Romero’s pursuit on Tuesday night.  With his change up dominating, the young lefty entered the eighth inning without allowing a hit while striking out a career high 12 batters.

Height = Success?

  With the recent success of Twins closer Jon Rauch, aka the tallest, most intimidating man in baseball history, I started to think back on all of the great pitchers who stood towering and ominous on the pitching mound.  Does their great height contribute to their great success?  The obvious answer is no, but it is still interesting to take a look at some of the great Jolly Green Giants of major league baseball history.

  The tallest players (let alone pitchers) in Major League Baseball history:
  1.) Jon Rauch – standing at 6 feet 11 inches, he has the build of a NBA center and the tattoos of a member of Hell’s Angels.  Although he has never notched more than 18 saves in a season, he is already a third of the way there this season with 5 saves in as many attempts.  The question remains wether he can keep up this success or not.
  2.) Randy Johnson – at 6 feet 10 inches, Johnson narrowly escapes first place in the Ed “Too Tall” Jones category.  He does however make it atop the list in the “dominating” category.  With 303 career wins and 4,875 strikeouts, Johnson definitely used every inch to his advantage.
  3.) Chris Young – like Johnson, Chris Young is also 6 feet 10 inches.  Unlike Johnson, however, he has never won more than 12 games in a season.  Although he has shown great potential (and was off to a good start before being placed on the 15-day DL today), he has never really come into his own so far.  Many still expect him to do great, but only time will tell.
  4.) Eric Hillman – playing only 3 seasons in the major leagues for the Mets (’92-’94), Hillman also measured up at 6 feet 10 inches.  This forgettable lefty never managed to win more than 2 games in a season, and witnessed his worst season in 1993 when he finished with a 2-9 record in 22 games started.  
  5.) Mark Hendrickson – this 6 foot 9 inch pitcher made his major league debut for Toronto on August 6, 2002.  He also spent time with the Rays, Dodgers and Marlins before signing a contract with Baltimore in the current offseason.  Although he spent a majority of his career as a starting pitcher (he has won as many as 11 games), he is being used in relief by the Orioles.  So far, so good this season, as he has a 2.45 ERA with 6 strikeouts in 3.2 innings.

  As it is easy to see, height does not have a direct correlation with pitching effectiveness, or rather with any part of athletic ability (see Dustin Pedroia).  There is no doubt that the height intimidation factor of Randy Johnson or Jon Rauch works to their advantage, but it’s the pitch speed and placement that really matters in the end.  
  While we’re on the subject, does anybody know who the shortest player in baseball history was?  Answer to come soon

Back in Action

  I apologize for my lack of posts for a little over a year, but I’m sure that everyone can find it in their hearts to forgive me.  Hasn’t everyone forgiven Bonds and A-Rod?  Oh, they haven’t?  Next topic….

  So here is my deep-hearted promise to start blogging again.  I am also going to try to write more about teams and players that aren’t on the Mets.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still share my obsession with the New York Metropolitans.  It will just be a more well-rounded obsession.
  Until next time!

Long Time No Blog

So….hey.  It’s been a while since I’ve been able to write anything and I promise that it has been within good reason.  I’m not going to bore you with details, but the frenzy of my full-time college student schedule finally caught up with me, and I couldn’t help but to get carried away with it.  Anyways, not a whole lot has been happening as far as the Mets are concerned thanks to the World Baseball Classic.  Not to say that the WBC isn’t a great thing.  I actually tried to wake up at 4:30 this morning to watch China vs. Japan, the first game of the series, but I found out that I am pretty successful at hitting the snooze button on my cell phone alarm for a good 3 hours until I begin to notice the sound of it. 

Anyways, I am going to be on spring break next week, so hopefully I will have a lot more time to blog about my Amazins’.  Maybe their starting 5 will me more finalized by the end of that week, but I doubt it.  Things aren’t looking good for Freddy Garcia so far, and I can’t say that I’m all too surprised.  After getting destroyed by hitters in his first two spring training games it’s going to take a late showing for him to gain some ground.  Personally, I think that Livan will land the 5th spot, partially because of Redding’s injury and Niese’s inexperience.  However, the race is anything but wide open, and Garcia could come back to pitch a perfect March.

Besides that, A-Rod and Ramirez have been dominating the headlines.  The fact that A-Rod is out for at least 10 weeks only solidifies my determined belief that the Yankees will finish 3rd in the AL East behind the Rays and the BoSox.  As for Manny?  I guess we’ll see, but I am really beginning to think that he is diminishing the respect that many people hold for him…well, errr…that some people hold for him.  Trying to get 100 million over 5 years!! Are you kidding!! Sorry Manny, but no one is going to cough up that big of a contract for someone as unstable as you, no matter how well you did last year in Dodgertown.  My prediction: he’ll do well enough this year, but he is getting older and he won’t be enough to single-handedly clinch the NL West…watch out for the San Francisco Giants.

Okay. One more midterm left to study for. Later.

So far so good

So far, everything that Jerry Manuel has told his team to do, they have done.  Marty Noble put it best: “Jerry says jump.  They don’t say how high, they jump.”  

Manuel told the team that they needed to work on opposite field hits.  In the first game against the Orioles 10 out of the 15 total hits were to the opposite field.  A similar story could be told yesterday when the Mets posted 9 against the Marlins.  
Jose Reyes started in the 3rd spot on the lineup for the first time because Jerry felt like it would lead to more production on his part.  Here are the results of his first three at bats in the 3-hole: a solo home run and a grand slam to add up to a total of 6 RBI.  Sounds pretty productive to me.
Luis Castillo knew that he had to perform in order to put down any doubts about his performance.  Already in Spring Training he has 4 RBIs, 2 hits, and 3 walks.  If he keeps this up he’ll definitely make a believer out of me.  
So today the Mets will have a similar lineup as yesterday.  Will Reyes hit two more home runs?  Will Castillo continue his hot start?  How will Livan Hernandez pitch in his first game as a Met?  I guess we’ll just have to watch (or listen) and see (or hear).