“Mike Pelt-Me”

May 27, 2007

"Mike Pelt-Me"

Mike Pelt Me. Oh, I mean Mike Pelfrey. The former Wichita State Shocker star pitcher was supposed to be ready to pitch for the New York Mets NOW.

Well, what a difference the regular season makes as opposed to spring training. While Pelfrey was virtually invincible at that time we found out how little that means in many cases. Spring training cost Jorge Sosa a chance at being the fifth starter earlier this year because he had a bad spring. Now after returning from triple A and under Rick Peterson’s tutelage he seems to have rediscovered the form that made him 13-3 in 2005 for the Atlanta Braves and his nasty slider has returned to go with a good moving fastball that allows him to strike out some hitters as well.

In comparing rookie pitchers while rookie reliever Joe Smith has continued his mastery during this season that began in spring training of getting out major league hitters to the tune of an ERA of nearly 1.00 Pelfrey was giving up almost 6 runs per game! This is very distrurbing especially the way the Mets kept singing his praises. If Pelfrey really throws 90-96 miles per hour then why can’t he strike people out!

His pitches appear to have little to no movement and he certainly hasn’t learned anything about changing speeds. A good changeup with movement at about 80 miles an hour would help or perhaps a splitter or curve. Meanwhile we hardly ever heard of Joe Smith until spring training and look how effective he’s been and how quickly he seems to have learned how to pitch at this level.  Go figure!

However the worst part about Pelfrey is his lack of control of his fastball in the strike zone. Joe Smith said "he’ll figure it out heck, he throws up to 96 mph an hour. " Well, Joe maybe you’ll be right yet but right now he flat out hasn’t figured out anything about pitching at this level at all. Since he has proven he can’t blow hitters away you’d think he’d have developed some breaking pitches but I guess not!

While I am very pleased with Sosa and believed he could be as good as he was two years ago that is how equally I am unhappy with Pelfrey, a college pitcher who may have been overrated because he’s 6"7 and throws hard. A phenom he’s definitely not.

The young "phenoms" I’ve seen that are right-handed and bring it are pitchers like the San Diego Padres’ ace Jake Peavy who may be the best pitcher in the National League, San Francisco Giants’ Matt Cain, rookie Tim Liniscomb, Yankees’ rookie righty Phillip Hughes and Cleveland Indians righty Fausto Carmona just to name some others who seemed to have figured it out at this level. Certainly they’ve picked it up quicker than this so-called phenom!

I hope Pelfrey proves me wrong but until he does he will be "Mike Pelt-me!"

That’s all for now from the Fan for Life. To trade opinions or to express your opinions or questions on baseball or other sports please watch "On The Sportslines". We’re on every other Thursday at 9PM. Our next show is Thursday, June 7th. You can see us on www.mnn.org.com or on Channel 57 Time Warner Cable in Manhattan. 

    

Stop Worrying, Please!!

March 18, 2007

Yes, I realize the METS spring training record is 6-13 and yes I also realize they had a very positive spring training last year but it’s time to stop worrying please!!  When local sports reporters and writers start mentioning this spring training record like it matters I laugh.

First of all the METS are testing out a number of pitchers both in the starting rotation and in the bullpen. From Aaron Sele to Chan Ho Park to Jorge Sosa to Philip Humber to Juan Padilla to Jon Adkins to some guy I don’t know who’s last name is Urdaneta who has been closing some of these games it’s clear the METS have a lot of pitchers that are being tested in both the starting rotation and in the bullpen.

Frankly I really don’t take much of spring training seriously until about the last two weeks prior to the season. Besides a number of these pitchers like Sele, Park and possibly Jon Adkins are making WIllie Randolph’s decisions that much easier since they are struggling. Padilla will be ready soon and Duaner Sanchez got his wakeup call from Willie recently so things are getting sorted out.

The METS have a pretty strong ballclub overall and players like Mike Carp (possible first baseman in 2008 or 2009?), Lastings Milledge, Joe Smith (reliever with a chance to make the ballclub), Mike Pelfrey (looking more like our fifth starter now) certainly add credibility and strength for 2007 and in the near future. Besides I’d rather get all the bad baseball out of our system now and do our experimenting with our ballclub in spring training now than have a bad season later on so there’s no need to panic (at least not for a couple of months).

Remember in baseball it’s a marathon so it’s not always where you start but it’s definitely where you finish!

That’s all for now from the Fan for Life (a.k.a. Steve Ferguson)

Don’t forget to watch our show on CHannel 57 (Time Warner Cable) "On The Sportslines" every other Thursday 9-9:30 PM. You can trade your thoughts and opinions with us. Our next show is on Thursday, March 29th, Join us and be part of the March Madness and the start of the 2007 baseball season!   

   

The Geriatric Squad

February 24, 2007

If life begins at 40 then outside of the San Francisco Giants who have Barry Bonds, Steve Finley, Omar Visquel and Ray Durham are close approaching it then the METS have almost cornered the same "On Golden Pond" market.

WIth "El Duque" Orlando Hernandez who is thought to be 40 or beyond depending on which birth certificate you choose to believe, Julio Franco, the ageless wonder/pinch-hitter/part-time player extraordinare who will be 49 at the end of this baseball season (or older also depending on the validity of his birth certificate), Moises Alou, formerly of the Giants who will be 41 in July and now catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. at 40 looking for his final hurrah before he retires the METS have some of the oldest players in the game. 

Clearly even though the METS have some of the better young players in the game like Jose Reyes and David Wright they definitely believe that experience does matter. While I am always in favor of bringing up or acquiring young talent that is poised, mature, talented and eager to step on to the major league scene I also don’t mind having a few graybeards on my squad as well to balance things out. Not only are most of these 40 and beyond players blessed with the talent levels at their advanced baseball ages to play effectively and last this long whether they are starting or coming off the bench in my opinion (outside of perhaps Barry Bonds) they are great role models. And I don’t mean just great role models for kids who watch and play the game some of whom aspire to be major league players themselves one day but to young and middle-age adults as well.

These players not only have talent but they are clear examples of what hard work, diligence to one’s craft, savvy and intelligence can do for someone who wants to succeed at the highest levels. They also are playing a huge role in destroying the myth or myths that once you are in mid to late 30′s as an athlete you are automatically through. What players like Franco, Hernandez, Alou and others clearly demonstrate is as in the title of the song that the singer Aliyah sang before her life was suddenly and tragically ended in a plane crash is "Age is nothing but a number."

These older athletes also demonstrate to many of us how to enjoy our lives and how to do things the right way. That is with class, dignity and respect. Case in point when METS fans started the 2006 season jumping on Carlos Beltran’s case when he had a somewhat rough start early last year at SHEA who was there to tell him to take a curtain call when the boos turned to cheers after Beltran blasted a memorable early season homerun when he really didn’t want to? Why of course it was the elder statesman of the METS:  It was Julio Franco. Sure he knew Beltran was clearly irritated with the fans and probably wanted to tell them to what they could do with their sudden applause, standing ovation and outpouring of approval.

But Franco refused to let him do it. He stayed after him where everyone could see it in the dugout and on television until he finally compelled him to take that curtain call and let bygones be bygones. To me that’s a leader, a terrific older player and a great role model! Bravo, Julio!   

It’s easy when we watch athletes in major league sports do the all the wrong things like breaking the law or seemingly every conceivable law, getting caught with illegal drugs, taking drugs or taking all sorts of enhancing performing drugs to dismiss the majority of them as being the overpaid, pampered dregs of society that life seems to always smile on because they were fortunate enough to play kids games and get paid exorbitant sums of money well after they were kids. But while we are doing this which I believe that we have the right to do as sports fans we also need to look at the positive side of the professional athletes who are demonstrating that most good things are attainable and possible. That means no matter what your choice of professional endeavor may be as long as you have your health and faculties you can achieve success at any age even when most people think you can’t do it any longer. These atheletes are living proof that with a positive attitude, hard work  that all of us are capable of the same. 

That’s all for now from the FAN FOR LIFE! (a.k.a. Steve Ferguson)

To get your fix and trade opinions on the METS and other sport topics watch our "ON THE SPORTSLINES" show on Channel 57 (Time Warner Cable in Manhattan) every other Thursday at 9PM LIVE!! We look forward to hearing from you.

Check us out on Thursday, March 1st.

Will Milledge be the next METS star in 2007?

February 18, 2007

Having seen the positive development of David Wright and Jose Reyes as a METS fan one has to be extremely encouraged that the prospects in the farm system are starting to live up to their billings. While Wright and Reyes had outstanding years in 2006 with Reyes being the catalyst and sparkplug that this team needed both offensively, defensively and in stealing bases and Wright in driving in over 100 runs and slamming 26 homeruns and hitting over .300 the jury is still out on Lastings Milledge.

True Milledge is just 22 and he showed some flashes into what his major league future might be. His first homerun was off the San Francisco Giants flamethrowing closer (former METS closer Armando Benitez) and that certainly opened some eyes in his debut appearance early last summer. He has a laser for a throwing arm and speed to burn as well.

However unlike Wright and Reyes who came to the METS with very sunny dispositions, a zeal for the game and great work ethic Milledge’s has been questioned and perhaps righfully so. At times when he played the outfield whether that was left field or right field he looked very shaky and uncofmortable. It didn’t seem to matter if he played left field or right field he seemed to have trouble playing the angles or misjudging how hard or far the ball was hit in his vicinity. While I don’t expect Milledge to be the next Kevin McReynolds or Bernard GIlkey (two former METS who really played excellent defense in their heyday in the outfield although that would be really terrific) I also do not want to see the second coming of Kevin Mitchell (at least not defensively) either. This first round draft pick of the METS in 2003 seems to have as much talent as anyone the METS have drafted in the first round maybe even comparable up to a point like Daryl Strawberry.

Both Wright and Reyes while they made their mistakes in their first year or two seemed to have their collective heads on straight. They didn’t think they had to "carry the team" much as Milledge did. They both used their intelligence and their enthusiasm BUT in addition to this they also listened to their manager and the coaches, worked hard at their respective games and blended right in with the veteran players listening and learning from them as well. Not only did this make both of them almost instant fan favorites they also garnered the respect of their peers and their opponents also.

I believe that’s why even though the METS may really like the talent of Lastings Milledge they seem inclined to deal him for a top notch pitcher like Mark Buerhle of the Chicago White Sox or a pitcher of similar caliber. The METS also indicated that they weren’t completly comfortable with Milledge by their signing of 40 year old Moises Alou, holding on to Shawn Green and even their trade with the San Diego Padres in which they acquired outfielder Ben Johnson (a former number one pick of the Padres) in the Jon Adkins deal.

If the METS wind up keeping Milledge I hope that they have lit a fire under him with two and possibly three other outfielders who are currently ahead of on the depth chart (not to mention Endy Chavez who is already entrenched as the METS fourth outfielder unless he has a horrible spring) that it’s time for him to live up to the great talent and ability that he is believed to have. Milledge doesn’t need to "carry the team" as he said when he came up in 2006. All he needs to do is prove that he can start being a major lynchpin for this team starting in 2007 and beyond. However that doesn’t mean he has to do it all now to show that he is capable of being the major lynchpin. He just needs to settle down and improve.

Otherwise the METS may be wise to deal him before the season starts. Remember the METS have had other can’t miss position player prospects like Milledge (i.e. Alex Escobar, Gregg Jefferies, Butch Huskey, Shawn Abner (number 1 draft pick in the country in 1984, John Gibbons, now Toronto Blue Jays manager and countless others) that either teased us with flashes of brilliance or never even made it to the major leagues. While I have the patience to watch Milledge develop I believe I and other METS fans need to see a lot more earnest and sincere effort and production as we did with Wright and Reyes. The METS have been working hard the last few years to get to the ulitmate prize that is to win the World Series and it is now more imperative than ever that their prospects develop quickly.

Even though as a METS fan I believe we are tired of hearing about the Atlanta Braves (who have only one won championship) they contended for the World Series every year from 1991 until last year. They also won an unprecedented and ridiculous 14 divisional titles destroying our hopes of at least accomplishing this feat year after year after year. But more importantly what is true is that they dominated the NL Eastern division. They did this with a high level of talent, excellence, tenacity and consistency. 

In addition to having solid, talented veterans they also did this by having mature, intelligent players who came up to the major leagues with great maturity and knowledge of how to play the came (i.e. Brian McCann, Adam LaRoche (now of the Pittsburgh Pirates), Brian GIles (now of the San Diego Padres). I know our General Manager Omar Minaya is at the very least seeking consistency and excellence for a number of years for the NY METS whether they win the World Series or not right away much like the blueprint that the Braves had and may still have again. I believe the way this will occur is by picking out not only the best prospects possible through meticulous scouting but by also carefully picking or weeding out the ones that while they may be immensely gifted to play baseball at this level will never live up to their potential simply because they may never be quite mature enough to showcase their abilities. While it’s definitely not easy to always determine who those players are I believe when players are drafted in the first round particularly in the first 1-15 slots in the draft I believe fans need to and have every right to expect to see their development relatively quickly. Otherwise why would you draft them in the first round if you didn’t think they could develop into stars or superstars? Beyond their talent and physical gifts these prospects need to have the right emotional makeup particularly in a demanding town like New York. Remember METS fans we are always looked upon as the #2 Avis option in New York with the Yankees normally grabbing every headline in this metropolis (except for the mid ’80′s and early 90′s). We finally broke a long drought in 2006 of being the little brother who had to sit in the shadows watching his older sibling grab all the praise and glory last year when we almost completly captured the attention of this demanding, media frenzied town back by getting to the World Series and playing longer in the post seasoon than the Yankees. Incidentally they haven’t won a World Series since they knocked us off in 5 games back in 2000. Maybe that’s the curse of beating the METS or so I’d like to believe in my somewhat twisted mind. Just kidding!

If we want to at least be on equal footing with the Yankees then we need to win a World Series while we are showing signs of being really good. That means at least being consistently good (if not great as the Yankees have been in this town) and being even smarter in our trades and drafts now and in the future than our competition.

That’s all for now from the FAN FOR LIFE! (a.k.a. Steve Ferguson)

To get your fix and trade opinions on the METS and other sport topics watch our "ON THE SPORTSLINES" show on Channel 57 (Time Warner Cable in Manhattan) every other Thursday at 9PM LIVE!! Check us out on Thursday, March 1st when we will focus in on the 2007 baseball season among many topics.   

    

      

   

   

Are the NY METS planning a trade?

February 10, 2007

Are the METS planning a trade?

The free-agent acquisition of right-hander Chan Ho Park (formerly of the San Diego Padres) as of yesterday is a very curious one in my opinion if you’re a METS fan. Park definitely fits the definition of veteran pitcher who has enough experience to be dangerous which could mean disasterous if he fails in New York. He could also turn out to be great protection against one of the younger pitchers like Mike Pelfrey, Philip Humber or even someone like Oliver Perez or John Maine if one or a few of them fail to live up to their potential this year.

Truthfully Park has been somewhat of an underachiever throughout most of his career despite his stuff and talent. His last great (and only great season) was in the days he pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers when he was an 18 game winner!  But after his unfortunate signing with the Texas Rangers he became one of the worst busts in the history of free agent signings. His free agency (signing for 5 years for an ungodly sum of many millions to be their ace) resulted in almost 4 years of it spent on the disabled list more often than not until last season. Finally when he showed he could pitch and stay healthy long enough the Rangers finally found a team willing to unload this albatross and off he went limping to San DIego and back to the National League from whence he came.

A combination of numerous injuries (back and shoulder if I recall) and perhaps the fact that he just wasn’t ever going to cut it in the American League took what had been a very promising career and nearly ruined it completly. Park has been known to have very skittish confidence and probably should have resigned with the Dodgers while he had a good thing going years ago. Now he comes to the METS hoping to land the number 5 spot in the rotation. Our pitching coach Rick Peterson may really have his hands full dealing with the younger pitchers like Pelfrey, Humber, Alay Soler (if he’s in the mix again) plus the fragile ego of Park and the talented yet erratic Jose Sosa. Peterson’s proving to be a solid pitching coach but can he be a miracle worker?  I guess only time will tell. If Peterson is he will be the second coming of now Baltimore Orioles pitching coach/former Atlanta Braves pitching coach who the METS tried to sign years ago, Leo Mazzone.

The three contract he signed this year will definitely prove to be worth the money if he reaches Mazzone status. With this group he may have his chance to do just that! 

The METS have now assembled an interesting potpourri of veteran starters who could play significant roles in the success of this team in 2007. But it leads me to wonder between Aaron Sele, Jose Sosa and now Chan Ho Park could there be a trade around the corner for an ace star pitcher? I think there’s at least a remote possibility of this happening at some point this year.

With the METS prospect pitchers (Pelfrey, Humber and even Soler) and with prospects like Anderson Hernandez and Lastings Milledge along with one of the aforementioned middle-of-the-road starters one wonders if the METS will pull off a shocking trade try to land the ace they secretly covet (Dontrelle Willis maybe, Jon Garland, Chicago White Sox, Rich Hardin, Oakland A’s…etc.) You can’t blame me for good wishful thinking can you? Since it doesn’t look like the METS can possibly keep all of these pitchers it would seem at least somewhat likely to me that a blockbuster deal of some kind could come before the end of Spring Training. Or maybe sometime during the 2007 season around the time Pedro Martinez would be returning to the rotation in late July or early August.

SInce the METS already seem to have a very formidable bullpen especially when you consider that Duaner Sanchez will be back from his shoulder injury and Mota will be a regular contributor to the bullpen once he’s served his 50 game steroid suspension plus the acquistions of Scott Schoenweis and the trade for Jon Adkins there would not be much room left for sliding a veteran starter into the bullpen. Therefore a trade looks imminent unless the METS send Pelfrey or Humber back to triple-A for more experience. 

In any event the quest for winning another division title (and hopefully getting to the World Series and dare I say winning it), fending off the likes of the Phillies, Marlins and yes those dreaded Atlanta Braves (the team that haunts the METS fans and serves as a perennial nightmare with 14 division titles in 15 years destroying the confidence and hopes of METS fans time after time after time) this division will most likely be a lot more competitive than it was in 2006 so our MET-TLE will be tested.  But again being the optimist (yes, there actually are METS fans who fit that category) as I usually am I will put my faith in Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph to take us to the promised land this time since they’ve taken pretty far in two years already.

Let’s go M-E-T-S!!

To get your fix and trade opinions on the METS and other sports topics watch our "ON THE SPORTSLINES" show on Channel 57 (Time Warner Cable in Manhattan) every other Thursday at 9PM live. We welcome your questions!

We’ll be on this Thursday, February 15th at 9PM.

That’s all until next time from FAN FOR LIFE (a.k.a. Steve Ferguson).

 

       

Are the new METS pitching additions enough?

Fan For Life

Are the new METS pitching additions enough?

February 3, 2007

If you’re a METS fan and I most definitely am I think you have one important question: Are the new METS pitching additions enough?  That’s a tough question.

While many of us like myself who follow this team would have loved to have seen the METS acquire another experienced starting pitcher whose history would have given us confidence that they could not only do well but handle the rabid fans and the demanding media scene in New York that’s not going to happen AT LEAST RIGHT NOW!

We can certainly question whether Barry Zito or even Jason Schmidt could have been the answer in our quest for an ace starting pitcher. Even Jeff Suppan now of the Milwaukee Brewers (much to our surprise) might have been a good solution to the one glaring question for the METS success in 2007. While the METS were closing in on Suppan Milwaukee shocked us all by claiming this prize. Suppan may not have been the ace that we could have relied on. However he most likely would have been a good #2 or #3 pitcher behind Tom Glavine and Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez while our young starters continue to develop.

His playoff experience and his mastery of our team at least illustrated that he could definitely handle the pressure of playoff and World Series competition with his cool demeanor, wicked assortment of pitches, changes of velocity and his pinpoint control.

Now we put our trust in the moves that GM Omar Minaya made in the off season to fortify our bullpen and bring in a couple of starters that have potential and are veterans. The acquisitions of Scott Schoeneweis to neutralize lefties, Jon Adkins to pitch solid middle relief and two starter pitchers Jorge Sosa and Aaron Sele might have made a lot of sense in the long run.

If the METS starters can pitch at least 6 maybe 7 innings that may be enough considering what looks like our strongest bullpen ever provided Duaner Sanchez can come back completly healthy, if Mota can be just as effective as he was in 2006 steroid suspension aside and if we can trust that Pedro Feliciano’s 2006 season wasn’t a fluke then we should be in good shape.

Those are a lot of ifs but if I didn’t trust the intelligence and savvy of Minaya I would be feeling very uncomfortable about the state of our pitching and of our chances of winning a World Championship in 2007. But so far Minaya has proven to have great vision and seems to have good solutions even when it may not seem that way (i.e. Endy Chavez, Jose Valentin, Mota and even Julio Franco-All key acquisitions in our 2006 success).

The acquisitions of Jose Sosa and Aaron Sele may on the surface seems curious at best. However we must keep in mind how the archrival Atlanta Braves have put together pitching staffs with pitchers that were either questionable or look like they were downright THROUGH!  Remember John Burkett, Andy Ashby and Kyele Farnsworth just to name a few in recent memory who surprised everyone with great seasons. You could even add Jose Sosa to the list when he was 13-3 2.55 ERA with the Bravos two years ago! He could be a steal!

This is where Rick Peterson who is proving to be exactly what we thought he was. That he is one of the better pitching coaches in the game. He helped straighten out Glavine in 2005 when it looked like his career was slipping rapidly and you can already see the improvement in Oliver Perez since he was rescued from walking the plank in Pittsburgh and doomed to a lifelong career of misery.

Take heart METS fans if these acquisitions don’t work out I think Omar will be making a huge trade by mid-summer or a couple of them to get quality experienced starters. In the meantime we have some great young prospects that can emerge into the stars we want (i.e. John Maine, Oliver Perez, Philip Humber, Mike Pelfrey, Jason Vargas).

That’s all for now from FAN FOR LIFE!

To get your fix and trade opinions on the METS and other sport topics watch our "ON THE SPORTSLINES" show on Channel 57 (TIme Warner Cable in Manhattan) every other Thursdaay at 9PM LIVE!! Check us out on Thursday, February 15th.

   

    

   

Who needs ZITO!

January 27, 2007

WHO NEEDS ZITO!!

Sure it might have been great to have captured one of the big prizes of this year’s free agent market. BUT WE’VE BEEN THERE AND DONE THAT!

(Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez). The METS have proven they will spent the cash when it’s necessary and it WAS NECESSARY the last 2 years.

Beltran gave the METS the complete young star they were looking for.

His tremendous nearly MVP season and Gold Glove centerfield play have been exactly what the METS needed. As for Pedro he may be on the shelf now but he’s created such a buzz at SHEA and caputured the city with his talent, his intensity and his sense of fun! He has been worth the money and will prove to be when healthy again.

While ZITO would have given the METS a proven, durable winning pitcher I question whether he could ever have handled the insatiable NY market that always wants to and expects to win NOW!  His increasing ERA and fall from CY YOUNG dominance made me question that 7 year $126 million dollar deal from the GIANTS even more.  But they lost their horse Jason Schmidt so they needed a veteran anchor for their staff. With our young talent like Oliver Perez, Philip Huber, Mike Pelfrey, Jason Vargas, Dave Williams and the new acquisitions of Aaron Sele who could be a "sleeper" much like El Duque was in 2006 and former Brave Jose Sosa I think we’ll be fine. Forget their ages Glavine is a good fit with a group of young starters because he’s a strong leader and El Duque is a big game pitcher with positive post season and the intensity of a winner. They both fit very well with this team in my opinion.

Also with Minaya at the GM spot if we need another veteran starter I believe we’ll acquire one midway through the season. He’s very intelligent and savvy and seems to know talent and personalities and what can work with this team.

To get your fix and trade opinions on the METS and other sports topics watch our "ON THE SPORTSLINES" show on Channel 57 (Time Warner Cable in Manhattan) every other Thursday at 9PM live.   

That’s it from for now from the  FAN FOR LIFE!!   LET’S GO METS!!

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