Tagged: Steve Trachsel

SEND HIM OUT WITH A BOOM — WE HAVE OUR CHANCE RIGHT NOW

Wells_2006_denis_poroy_apWe let Jeff Nelson retire in pinstripes.  We had just re-hired him, again, and he retired before spring training. Could that have been pre-arranged?!  Surely we can do something for a man who loves the Yankees more than he loves his beer and ego combined.  He even has some good games left in him to boot, and we saw him pitch well into the postseason again last year as a Padre.  WHO could this be???!!!!

It could only be….

BOOMER!!!!                                                            Denis Poroy / AP

San Diego sounds like they want him but can only go so far, and you know we can beat that number.  We need another lefty, don’t we?!  Wouldn’t it be cool?  And, if there’s any chance we are going to fulfull Petitte’s wish for Clemens, can we show Wells some respect by hiring him back first?  After all, we let him go the first time in exchange for Clemens, who took some time to fill Wells’ shoes.  I know, I know about Boomer’s second time around with us, and his book and his back and how he wasn’t throwing off the mound, and how some that season’s disappointment on his untimely departure after a perfect first inning with back pain.  Despite the debacle, there was no way he could accept the minor league contract for a couple hundred thousand that we offered him after that year. 

Mr. Steinbrenner, PLEASE!  Let Mr. Clemens go to the Red Sox, and let Boomer come back to us where he belongs.  He can even pitch short starts, even out of the bullpen sometimes.  Let him pitch as a Yankee one more year, and retire in pinstripes. 

Surely Jeff Nelson would not mind the company, when the time comes.

Trachsel–pre NLDS Interview

RARE VIDEO OF EXTENDED STEVE TRACHSEL INTERVIEW before Game 3 of the 2006 NLDS, against his and my own hometown childhood team, the late 70s and early 80s Los Angeles Dodgers, when he rooted against his manager Willie Randolph, who was then 2nd baseman for those foes the New York Yankees. 

Trachsel Workout Day Interview     If this doesn’t work, try the link below:

Trachsel Workout Day Interview     Look under OCTOBER 6 and click.

He has not been to a postseason game at Dodger Stadium since he was 10 or 11, and now he’s working for a recent Yankee on a team that was built in 1962 to fill the hole left in the souls of Brooklyn Dodger Fans, New York Giants Fans too.  The team of orange and blue.  That’s Baseball.     (I miss Mark Gremse.  No question where he would stand on this match-up, though, even if I was his favorite LA Dodger fan.  Oddly, there might be a healing circularity in pulling for Trachsel, who, as a Cub in 1998, knocked out his beloved Giants in that one-game playoff to get to the NLDS.  Two stories go with that, and they are here and here.)

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

This is important, so don’t get me wrong, please:  The whole Yeah, Yeah, Yeah Award thing depends on the under-appreciation of the player.  Winners of this award deserved far better a long time ago.  By now, they might get some credibility, or not.  Sure, yeah, yeah, yeah, right, whatever.  Get it?

So, of course, who gets today’s award?  Who better than the pitcher who finally lost a game last week, only to be assailed in the press as not playoff material?   Who better than the pitcher who lost so many low-scoring 1-run games over the last 2 seasons that this year’s winning record stymied his critics into the a most Orwellian explanation, which they waved about like a flag of accusation, as if it isn’t fair, all that run support he gets, finally, sometimes? 

…Who better than the man who CLINCHED FOR THE METS IN A 4-0 SHUTOUT LAST NIGHT? 

Congratulations belong to

STEVE TRACHSEL

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know.  You are in good company.  Cheers, Steve.  Make tracks for the postseason, and the Stadium across the River next year.

Photo

AP

Mon Sep 18, 11:51 PM ET

New York Mets pitcher Steve Trachsel, left, and Duaner Sanchez, center, celebrate clinching the National League East division with a win over the Florida Marlins, Monday, Sept. 18, 2006, at Shea Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Underdog Jeopardy

Which major league pitcher recently said this?

"It’s a reputation.  Every time I come into a new ballpark, it’s, ‘We got _______, it’s going to be a four-hour game.’ I’ve been throwing under three hour games for two to three years now. But I’ve got that reputation."

Hints:  Today, August 4, he is 9-4, and he won his last start.  I can’t even imagine what Michael Kay would say about him, but last time he faced the Yankees, John Sterling and Suzyn Waldmann could give nothing but compliments about his deliberate pitches, and about how he knows exactly what he is going to pitch to whom. 

Check back tomorrow for the answer!

Trachsel062ap_3

The Answer:

STEVE TRACHSEL       NY Mets

article with quotation          stats

Photo by AP

Game To Watch

Greg Maddux, RHP (7-11, 4.56) Cubs (37-60)   @  Steve Trachsel, RHP (9-4, 4.68) Mets (59-39)

Two painful ironies here. 

Postgame update: W: G. Maddux (8-11, 4.83); L: S. Trachsel (9-5, 5.14); S: R. Dempster (17)

Shocked to hear Jim Leyritz say on MLB Radio today that the Mets’ biggest trade need is a #3 starter.  Yankee fan that I am, Mr. Leyritz, I thank you  heartily for 1996, as well as for your healthy doses of perspective and humor on Baseball Today.  However, I must disagree with you about the steadiest Met pitcher over the years.  Might I compare him to Mussina in that respect? 

Yankees or Trachsel, Yankees or Trachsel, Yankees, buy Trachsel?! Please!

It was hard to know whom to root for in this afternoon’s Game 2 of the second Subway Series of 2006.  On the one hand, the Yankees needed the win, and I am a Yankee fan.  Should be cut and dried, right?  The Mets did not need the win.  Even simpler.  But Steve Trachsel was pitching for the Mets against Randy Johnson and the Empire. 

Forget the typical pleas for the so-called underdog.  Please.  The Yankees represent, among many things, my willing concession to the intertwining of power, money, and success.  (I was recently gratified to find a similar sentiment expressed on the webpage of a politician I liked.  I’ll have to look up his name.)

I started following Trachsel when he became a Met in 2001, as soon as Floraine Kay suggested that I keep an eye on him.  She has a good eye.  (Check out her Saddleshoe blog, linked to the right on my Blogroll.)  Year after year, he threw pretty good games only to lose them either because the Mets’ line-up was on strike, or because the fielding behind him was anemic.  Factoring in The Great Unravelling that followed the 2000 World Series, Trachsel — who already felt betrayed by the Cubs for letting him go to begin with (he split 2000 between Tampa Bay and Toronto) — walked into a clubhouse that was infected from top to bottom with mindgames, machinations, and backroom deals.  What I remember is that the callers to the Joe Benigno WFAN show, which was on late nights back then, could say nothing good about this man.  Sell him, get rid of him, he stinks, and much more colorful, less creative suggestions were made, and he wasn’t even bad.  Good?  No.  But neither were the Mets as a whole.  I’m not sure what they hit behind him that year, but he was 3rd in winning percentage among the 4 pitchers who earned decisions in 20 or more games (also Leiter, Appier, Rusch).  From last in ERA in his first year with the Mets, he went to first in 2002, with 3.37, beating even Leiter who had 3.48.  He and Leiter both posted .500 seasons, not bad in a season when the Mets won less than 47% of the time and had the worst fielding percentage as well as the highest number of errors commited in baseball. 

Circling back to yesterday’s post, 2002 was when I first grew suspicious of some of those who call themselves "diehard Met fans" because they truly sound as if they hate the Mets.  I may boo less than the average fan, but I can identify a [self] hater when I hear one.  They are still calling-in to WFAN with the most insulting commentary on one of their steadiest pitchers, who never let himself get embroiled in the soap operas, even during the most turbulent years. 

So, am I glad Trachsel won, holding the Yankees to 2 in front of Brian Cashman and George Steinbrenner for over 6 innings?  YES.  Did I hope the Mets’ bullpen would give up the game?  YES.  (In light of a post earlier this week, I must confess that I share in some guilt:  As soon as A-Rod hit his 25th home run off Aaron Heilman in the 8th, I knew any hope of a comeback was futile.  Is that backward logic, or what!)

 

I am, by the way, worried about Trachsel’s health.  Willie Randolph saw something and pulled him immediately in the 7th.  It turns out that his groin tightened after a fielding play, having aggravated an injury that has nagged at him for a couple weeks now, according to Marty Noble, the MLB.com Mets correspondent (Another article, with more detail about the injury, is here.) 

Bye, Bye, Benson — Same Old Mets

Last time I saw Kris Benson, he lost to Esteban Loaiza on a night I played hooky to see the game with Marc Marc at Shea.  September 14, 2005.  Inexplicably, the ticket price was $5.  I’d have paid a lot more to see this match-up.  As he so often has, Benson pitched well until Mets Dementia set in.  More about that night can be found here.

Nevertheless, as I feared earlier this off-season, General Manager Omar Minaya has gone ahead and arranged to trade him for a reliever (Jorge Julio, plus a prospect).  Floraine Kay suspects this may be another example of his apparent desire to hispanicize the team.  The pattern is looking hard to ignore, but I withhold judgement, for now.  Offered my choice of Benson, Aaron Heilman, Steve Trachsel, or Victor Zambrano, (all 4 had been rumored as trade bait for this offseason) I, too, might reach for the more promising younger player if I were managing Baltimore.  Why Benson — or Heilman or Trachsel, for that matter —  would be offered, I can’t quite comprehend, however. 

On the other hand, maybe it was a friendly trade, at the management level at least.  (Didn’t we all wake up today to the news that  Mrs. Benson wasn’t happy about this?)    As MLB.com’s Tom Singer points out, former Mets GM Jim Duquette is now working for Baltimore’s Mike Flanagan and, as some of us recall, had made a big trade for him with the Pirates in July of 2004.  Apparently he had support from the Orioles’ new star pitching coach.  According to Singer , Mazzone had been eying Benson for 3 years, over which time he had seen Benson keep Atlanta’s slugger squad to a batting average of .212.  "Mazzone saw a project," Singer reports "and someone who could inject consistency into a volatile rotation that already included Rodrigo Lopez, Bruce Chen, Daniel Cabrera and Erik Bedard."

A great reliever might have been worth a trade for Benson, but I’m disappointed that the Mets seem to have picked up a pitcher whose numbers appear to be on the decline, if only temporarily.  I can see wanting to hold onto Heilman to move him back into the rotation from the bullpen, where he was so successfully ghettoized last year.  Ah, too familiar are these pre-season Mets Misgivings.

It’s INSULT THE PITCHERS WEEK!

TRACHSEL:  “Miffed and Sarcastic” after 8-inning Shutout Wins Him Bullpen Role

“Talk to my lawyer.” 

That’s from one of the quietest, most well-spoken players in baseball. That’s also nicer than I’d be if I’d just pitched an 8-inning shutout in my first appearance this season, coming off back surgery and 8 minor league rehab starts, only to be rewarded with hints from the media that I’d lost my place in the rotation.  “It’s not right. I guess I should’ve given up one hit.”  That’s more like it, Steve.  (LINK to Marty Noble’s 8-28-05 article)

This after he and manager Willie Randolph had agreed back in mid-August that relief pitching was a  bad fit for Trachsel.  Why were they discussing the bullpen at all?  Because in Randolph’s mind, Trachsel had already lost his spot in the rotation, before he’d even reclaimed it, way back then?  Is something going on behind the scenes here?  Let’s look this over.

    1. Against Pittsburgh back in mid-August, Randolph let Jae Seo take Trachsel’s scheduled start — even though it was to be his highly anticipated return from back surgery — and gave Steve the choice of pitching as a reliever out of the bulllpen or going back down to AAA Norfolk to pitch his 8th minor league rehab start. (He went back to Nofolk) Why?  Wasn’t Seo almost as fresh out of Norfolk as Trachsel?  More so, even, as he is so recently a rookie?
    2. “It’s just a matter of, right now, our rotation’s pretty set…Seo’s been throwing the ball well [in his 2 major league starts] and we’re not going to go to a six-man rotation. The math is easy,” Randolph said.  (LINK to Bryan Hoch’s 8-16-05 article)  Does that sound like Willie was making a temporary arrangement, meant only to defer Trachsel’s return to the rotation?  Let’s do the math.  Sounds like Willie wants Seo in the rotation, at least for now.  Who else has a sure spot?  Glavine and Pedro, agreed? Plus, Benson has pitched too well all season to get booted for a few recent struggles.  That’s 4.  Who’s #5?  Read on.   
    3. Randolph has given Trachsel’s next start — against the Marlins — to Zambrano.  He cites Zambrano’s success against Florida.  Sound fishy?  (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

2 Possible Reasons Informing Randolph’s Decisions to Skip Trachsel Twice

  • Is Randolph’s decision to start Zambrano over Trachsel compromised by pitching coach Rick Peterson’s widely-publicized confidence in his own ability to “fix” Zambrano “in 10 minutes”? — That is, after all, why he was acquired, right?  Is Peterson’s confidence operating like a huge salary sometimes does, as justification for playing someone when better alternatives exist?
  • Is Randolph’s preference for Seo over Trachsel informed by feelings of guilt he would have if he sent Seo down to Norfolk AGAIN, after Seo’s been so successful and cooperative?  And — it couldn’t  be — that these feelings override  Trachsel’s veteran status?  If not, what does?  Surely he didn’t forget about him, or decide he doesn’t like him. 

    These headlines tell the story themselves:

August 16  Trachsel Back?  Not Seo Fast:  Jae’s Success Forces Veteran To Make Another Rehab Start

August 22  Trachsel’s Role in Limbo

August 23  Trachsel Set To Start

August 26  Trachsel Faces Giants in First ’05 Start

August 27  Trachsel Dominates in First 2005 Start:  8 Scoreless Innings Help Extend Mets’ Winning Streak

August 30  Trachsel Learning New Role in ‘Pen:  Righty Had Hoped to Reclaim Spot in Starting Rotation

LOAIZA:  Succumbing to One Batter Earns Manager’s Ire

“We needed a better performance out of Loaiza to have a chance to win the ballgame,” manager Frank Robinson said. “We didn’t get it.”   (LINK to Bill Ladson’s 8-31-05 article “Nat’s Can’t Contain Jones, Drop Game 1”)

Thanks to Mr. Ladson for prominently pointing out that only one player was successful against Loaiza.   All 5 runs scored on at-bats by Andruw Jones, MVP candidate for the National League.  By the way, how was the fielding?

Wells Forced To Swallow His Own Words and Spit Out Uncharacteristic Words Written by Others

Really.  Does this sound like David Wells? 

“I met today with Major League Baseball and the Players Association and was happy to have the chance to answer questions about…and to learn more about … and …

“Now that I have had this opportunity to sit down and discuss the issues, I better understand the …I now know that neither Bud Selig nor anyone else … I also understand that ….”

So, he said more than he should, about pitching.  Then he said more than he should about what someone said about that.  Then he got angry when he was not agreed with, and he said something about something else entirely.  Then someone had to say something to make this go away, so the Players’ Association put this newsmaking something-or-other out “on his behalf.”

When Major League Baseball procedures start sounding like passages out of Gertrude Stein, baseball is baseball is baseball. 

Games — etc — To Watch

  • TRACHSEL– WOW.  Welcome back to the Mets.  Your pitching presence was praised as iconic.  Your absence was bemoaned.  Your minor league rehab starts were celebrated.  Hard to believe, right, after the abuse you garnered as an active player?  Fear not.  After a win backed by 12 runs, Zambrano — who was rumored to be fighting for his starting life — may have your slot.  So, pitch your heart out, Steve!  And if things don’t work out, the Yankees have been eying you for years.  Toss a baseball-in-a-bottle into the East River, and the message will get to Uncle George.  (Right, Mr. Steinbrenner?  Right?!) 
  • LOAIZA– Will Nationals’ fielding and run-support FINALLY allow him to reach .500? Tonight the Nationals host the newly-crowned best-in-baseball Cardinals, sans their star Scott Rolen, and led by Suppan (RHP- 12-8, 3.94).  Home-Field Advantage?  Loaiza (RHP- 8-9, 3.66) could use any advantage the his own team can spare.  Remember, except for that one pitch to first-day-in-the-majors Jacobs, he shut out the Mets in New York last week. 
  • PLAYING FAVORITES?  Randy Johnson (LHP-  11-8, 4.34) starts at the Stadium tonight (against Kansas City’s Mike Woods:  RHP-  4-4, 4.09).  We — I speak loosely — laid into Randy Johnson for giving up 6 runs in the 4th on Sunday in Chicago, and chose not to emphasize the multiple shutout innings he pitched on either side of the anomaly. The same “we” took in stride Mussina’s 8-run 5th inning a few days later against Toronto, noting with regret that Moose has been known to “throw” a single inning in an otherwise well-pitched game. With outrage, the same “we” flogged and sent away Kevin Brown for losing his first rehab start following weeks on the DL — rather than admitting that we may have destroyed the closing of a great pitcher’s career by denying him even one real rehab start, which is a low-pressure, innings-limited outing in a minor league game.  We have descended to misrepresenting an epiphany he made the mistake of announcing — that he is pitching the last games of his career — to mean that he is unsure about continuing to pitch.  I suppose I could continue this list by contrasting the huge leash Clemens was given to lose games as he adjusted to New York with the few games Loaiza was allowed before being sent to the bullpen in a move that may have lost the Yankees the 2004 ALCS. 
  • SABATHIA–  In Chicago, where I spent last week, commentators spoke with respect of the strength of Cleveland’s CC Sabathia (LHP- 10-9, 4.76).  I don’t hear much good about the inconsistent lefty here in NYC, though I have been curious about him for some time.  Of course, fans here were spared seeing him beat us as the Indians — featuring slugger Aaron Boone — laid us flat at the Stadium.  And, the White Sox have to watch their backs in their own division, and the Indians are nipping at their heels from closer than they have been for some time this season.  He faces a weaker link in the Blue Jays’ rotation, Dustin McGowan (RHP- 1-1, 8.63), who is filling-in for Yankee-Killer Roy Halladay, who is on the DL.  Go, CC.  (By the way, watch out for Vernon Wells.)
  • A RAMIRO MENDOZA SIGHTING!  After months of invisibility on Yankee minor league webpages, Mendoza (RHP, middle reliever) has made an appearance.  He is now with the AAA Columbus Clippers, after a short stint with the Gulf Coast Yankees.  Can the Bronx be far off?  No rush.  He needs to take care of that shoulder.  Maybe he really can “die a Yankee,” as he confessed was his dream just before he was handed off to the Red Sox for the 2003 season.  Mr. Steinbrenner, are you listening?  Please?   (As evidence that I was am only a recently-converted Red Sox scorner, I produce the support and pride I sent out to the mound from my Saturday Tier Reserved season-seat, as Mendoza not only started for Boston but WON!)  (Continuing your rescues from the Red Sox, Mr. Steinbrenner, might you consider scraping-up #16, who sold-off his #3 to Renteria right before beating us at home?  A faded, fabled, #33 tattoo may be visible under his jersey.)