Tagged: www.outofthebullpen.mlblogs.com

Tough Call

Tigers 2 (Kenny Rogers starter, Zumaya W, Jones S)  White Sox 1 (Contreras starter, L)

White Sox or Tigers?  As readers know, so much came my way with the Right Sox’ World Series win last year that I have no complaints when they win, and I had been following them for years anyway.  For related reasons, the Tigers have a hold on me, and my underdog Series prediction for this season is Tigers-Reds!  Two out of 3 to the Tigers shows the doubters that Detroit is "for real," even against the World Champions.  And they play like Champions.


Hey, Mickey, You’re So Fine!

Mariners 3 (W-Meche, S-Putz)  @ Yankees 2 (L-Johnson)

Need to get someone on base, get something done?  Get Mickey!

Today, not even in the lineup, he was plugged-in in the 7th and hit a beautiful sac-bunt to move Andy Phillips from 2nd to 3rd after A-Rod scored.  In his second at-bat, in the 9th, he singled, keeping the game alive.  Unfortunately, no runs either time, but WHO ya gonna call?  It’s MICKEY! 

It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like October in July

October 2005, the Right Sox won the World Series and everywhere everone who cared awakened afterward under the light sprinkle of  pixie dust bearing evidence that It had really happened, that nothing was the same, and It was good.  I don’t have  to tell you that the "morning after" the last game of any World Series is no proverbial condition, not for those of us who wake up each day in the offseason looking for signs of spring training’s imminence, hoping we see dew on the grass or daffodils at the corner grocery, seasonal markers that tell us that it is safe to start counting days until Pitchers and Catchers without bringing on despair or the ridicule of colleagues. 

We are halfway through the 2006 season now, and some of us are like the young man who called-in to WFAN  this afternoon, feeling down about being on the short end of the year. Hearing  the caller reminded me that it is time to refresh my sense of baseball’s infinity. 

Three of today’s results — results that echoed with due annual import at the season’s symbolic midpoint — thrust us back into the pixie dust of recent history and swing us up and into this year’s history to be. 

Tomorrow begins the All Star Break.  In the context of ALCS and NLCS 2005. Look what happened tonight, July 9, 2006: 

  • in 19 innings:     Red Sox 5   Right Sox 6
  • in 12 innings:    Cardinals 5   Astros 5  (as of 11:54 ET)

I did mention 3 results.  Accompanying the White Sox win last year was a corresponding experience, one bearing a tectonic verisimilitude to the postseason events.  As we head into the might-as-well-be-proverbial All Star Break, this parallel storyline, (interwoven with baseball, I need not assure you) too, has just this very early morning born a marker of its own, one that announces its origin in the same infinity of possibility that created the pixie dust of last October and the death of Mark Gremse just days later.  It recalled the signs of daffodils and dew, and of possibility that is about to turn toward hope, as it did for me on New Year’s in Paris.

part 2 to follow

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.) 

Breaking Mazzone’s [Baltimore] Chops

Link: SI.com – Writers – Five Up, Five Down (Cont.) – Thursday June 15, 2006 7:42PM.  Gennaro Felice, writer

Former Atlanta icon Mazzone unable to transform Baltimore’s rotation overnight.  (Reminder:  Orioles Manager Sam Perlozzo hired Mazzone, his best friend)

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.

Pre-season Gripes and Grumblings

  • We might as well take Keiichi Yabu off Oakland’s hands, so no one else can.  We can’t hit off him.
  • Aaron Rowand, Jaque Jones, and  Eric Byrnes weren’t good enough?  Was Johnny Damon really necessary?  Some of us are still a little sore about Boston’s statistically-probable fluke of 2004.  (Let’s get this straight, though.  I’m more upset about losing to them in the playoffs than about their WS win.  Ouch, that hurt — I couldn’t get myself to spell out WS!)  I didn’t bother detesting the Red Sox until they started relying on dirty play, beginning mainly in 2004.  From Tier Reserved, I even rooted for Boston against the Yankees when Ramiro Mendoza started  — and WON — July 5, 2003 with 5 shutout innings at the Stadium back after we traded him away, way back in December of 2002, after 11 years with us.  We haven’t treated Mr. "I want to die a Yankee" too well now that we have him back, by the way.  Read on.)  He beat Roger Clemens, by the way, 10-2. 
  • Mendoza and Al Leiter got minor league contracts and invitations to Spring Training? Am I supposed to be angry that David Wells’ pride was too big to do that back in 2004?
  • We couldn’t offer Tino Martinez a one-year or even a minor league contract?   I know he froze in the post-season, but there’s no excuse not letting him retire from a live position, at least.  (The Free Agent Tracker reports that the Yankees declined his option, not that he retired.)  His "Bam-Tino" bunches of home runs lifted a lot more than the score, and his outlook steadied the team when the back pages doubted.  What about his defense?   He did more than just cover first while Giambi healed — didn’t you feel good when he started a game?  As a defensive substitution he is peerless.  There was that one major miss, but wouldn’t Giambi love to have hat said about himself?  Did anyone notice that Giambi came back a better fielder than he started?  Anyone wonder why?