Talkin’ Mets with Steve Keane

You may remember Steve from my two appearances on Pro Baseball Central, where Keane and Joe McDonald host a funny and informative New York-centered program. With the Phillies in New York, I figured I’d draw on Keane’s expertise to get a good look at what to expect in the series. Aside from his work on Pro Baseball Central, Keane also runs The Eddie Kranepool Society blog where you can find him telling David Wright to STFU and advising the Mets’ brass to blow the team up.

I like the sound of that. I also liked Steve’s answers to my ridiculous questions. My questions in bold, his answers follow in regular typeface.

. . .

1. What ailments aren’t affecting the 25-man roster at the moment? Get out that medical dictionary! Seriously, what’s up with the pestilence in Queens?

Well, it’s a combination of bad luck and incompetence by the medical and training staff and an ownership that holds no one accountable for these misdiagnosis and poor rehab practices. Jose Reyes went from tendonitis to a torn hammy? Incredible.  Same with Oliver Perez when he signed his contract did this knee problem show up on his physical or did it happen during the WBC? Ryan Church pulling muscles? Some injuries you can’t help. Carlos Delgado bad hip is from wear and tear (or maybe as the conspiracy theorist think strange substance to help his performance) or Alex Cora tearing ligaments in his thumb or third string shortstop Ramon Martinez breaking a finger sliding into home. So bad luck is involved here too.

2. Daniel Murphy: I told you so — his production last year was way over his capabilities. Do Mets fans still think he’s going to be the next Don Mattingly, or have expectations fallen back to reality?

I disagree with you on Murphy. First it’s no secret he had a problem playing left field although last season when he played out there he wasn’t that bad. As for his hitting, he let his defense effect his offense but now that he has been at first base, where he has been above average on D, his bat should come around. He won’t hit a lot of HR’s but he still looks like a very good gap hitter and is an excellent base runner. I know you love to crunch numbers and I am not an anti-saber guy (hell, I’ve been a member of SABR since 1984) but sometime when you see a guy with strong baseball instinct like Murphy you stay longer with him. If Jerry Manuel would just leave Murphy at first base everyday he’ll produce.

3. Omir Santos: the 2009 version of Endy Chavez, circa 2007 — the poorly-producing, but seems-to-but-doesn’t-really-get-that-clutch-hit-all-the-freaking-time player who had low expectations going into the season? GM Omar Minaya seems to think very highly of him since he traded the Mets’ best catcher to the White Sox for Lance Broadway recently.

Again I take issue with you on Santos. Santos is huge upgrade over the highly overrated Brian Schieneder. I would think a guy whose team has Chris Coste on it would appreciate Omir Santos. As for Lance Broadway, at least Omar got a warm body for Shrek.

4. Have you been to Citi Field? If so, what were your impressions? If not, what have been your thoughts on the park from what you’ve seen on TV? And where does it rank among MLB stadiums in your estimation?

Yes I’ve been to $iti Field a few times and each time I get more comfortable with the park. I’ve been going to Shea Stadium from the first season it opened and could find my way around there blindfolded. So as I get use to $iti Field my biggest gripe as most fans is the lack of a Mets-ecentic feel. Even though I’m a born and raised Brooklyinte like Fred Wilpon even I think it’s too much Brooklyn Dodger overload.   It’s not Fenway or Wrigley Field but it’s on par with CBP. I like Camden Yards better because you have a places around the park to go to before the game. It makes for a better atmosphere. Unless you have a dent in your bumper or a flat tire the area around Citi Field needs a huge overhaul

5. What are the Mets looking for as the trading deadline approaches? Which Minor Leaguers could we see the Mets part with to try and improve the team for a run at the NL East crown?

I’d love to have the Mets add a starting pitcher and a corner outfielder with a power bat but I don’t want to trade my top prospects to do it. The problem is ownership will not take on a big salary so Omar needs to be creative. The Mets just promoted RHP Bradley Holt to AA Binghamton if he shows the same production he did at St. Lucie he could make the jump to the big leagues after the All Star break. Also Billy Wagner could be back by August or early September and he needs to show he’s healthy to get a contract some place next year so watch for that plus Delgado could be back by August as well so if the Mets can keep their heads above water, September could be interesting hopefully in a positive way this time for us.

BONUS: The match-ups will be Happ-Santana, Hamels-Pelfrey, and Moyer-Redding. How do you see the series panning out?

After Carlos Beltran calling out his team for embarrassing themselves in Pittsburgh maybe a showdown with the Phillies is just what this team needs to kick itself in gear. The Happ-Santana match up which would have been a slam dunk in the Mets favor, changes a bit now that Happ has pitched very well his last three time out. Hopefully in game two Big Pelf puts his last start in the rear view mirror and gets back on track. As for the third game, if Tim Redding gets anywhere near the pitchers mound at Citi Field I will go get a restraining order to prevent it. That start is John Maine’s unless Tom Seaver comes out of retirement then it goes to The Franchise. The big plus for the Mets is the games are at home.

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Props to Keane for taking time out of his busy schedule to shed some light on the upcoming series. That New York moxie really did shine through in the answers. I’d still throw D-batteries at him, though.

Make sure you check out my Phillies-Mets series preview. Wouldn’t want to go into the series without an overbearing hatred for Tim Redding now, right?

Phillies/Mets Series Preview II

After a tough West coast road trip in which the Phillies won five of seven, they come East to finish up the trip in New York. The Phils have dropped three of four to the Mets so far this season, splitting a rain-shortened series at the start of May, then dropped two more May 6-7. The Mets have outscored the Phillies 20-15 in the four games.

The Phillies get to face Johan Santana who is, as usual, having a great season. However, after allowing a total of only four earned runs in his first seven starts, he’s allowed 12 over his last four.

Santana will be opposed by J.A. Happ, one of two surprisingly-effective left-handers the Phillies have introduced into the starting rotation in the last couple weeks (the other being Antonio Bastardo). In 40 innings of work, Happ has a 2.48 ERA. He made his first start of the season in Yankee Stadium and dominated a potent Yankee lineup, allowing only two runs in six innings. He threw seven shut-out innings against the Padres his last time out in San Diego. The Happ-Santana duel should be an interesting one for sure.

Pelfrey and Hamels will duke it out in game two of the series. After seven straight quality starts from April 25 to May 29, Pelfrey surrendered eight earned runs to the Pittsburgh Pirates en route to a series sweep by the Bucs. Meanwhile, Cole Hamels is coming off of a phenomenal outing against the Dodgers — a complete-game, 95-pitch shut-out of the National League’s second-best offense. This is a match-up of two starters headed in opposite directions.

Game three will feature Phillie-killer Tim Redding against Jamie Moyer. Redding, as you will see in the tables that follow, has a career 3.29 ERA against the Phillies in nearly 66 innings of work. His career ERA is 4.98. Just call him Cy Redding when he’s facing the Phils. Moyer, who had an ERA of 8.15 in his first seven starts, has a 3.60 ERA over his last four during a spurt of overall outstanding Phillies starting pitching.

The Mets have had to deal with a lot of injuries so far this season. Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, and J.J. Putz are some notables that have spent some time riding the pine. Even Carlos Beltran and John Maine had a swine flu scare. They’re fortunate that the Phillies haven’t been able to put it together for any extended period of time and as such only find themselves three games behind in the NL East.

David Wright and Carlos Beltran, offensively, have been smoking hot. Wright had a .763 OPS on April 29. By May 20, it was at 1.004 and was still high at .933 going into today’s game with the Nationals in which he went 2-for-3 with a double and two walks. Beltran, meanwhile, was hitting .400 as late as May 5. He’s still hitting .342.

Aside of Wright and Beltran, however, no healthy player on the roster is hitting that well. Carlos Delgado was hitting, but hasn’t played since May 10. Gary Sheffield was hot for about a week, but now has one hit in his last 17 plate appearances.

The Mets bullpen has been a bit Jekyll and Hyde. Some relievers have been outstanding, such as Francisco Rodriguez and Bobby Parnell. Others have been pedestrian: J.J. Putz and Sean Green to name a couple. Of relievers who have pitched at least ten innings, four of eight have a WHIP of 1.5 or higher. Overall, however, the bullpen has been great with a combined WXRL of over four.

To the charts! (I have no idea why they are blurry.)

Hitting:

Philadelphia Phillies @ New York Mets, June 8-10

Philadelphia Phillies @ New York Mets, June 8-10

Pitching:

Philadelphia Phillies @ New York Mets, June 8-10

Philadelphia Phillies @ New York Mets, June 8-10

Stay tuned for a series preview-interview with Steve Keane of The Eddie Kranepool Society and Pro Baseball Central. (Link)

BDD: What’s Wrong with Jimmy?

At Baseball Daily Digest, I analyze what’s wrong with Jimmy Rollins and theorize what can be done to minimize the damage inflicted by his poor performances.

He went from about 2 runs below average against the fastball last year to nearly 9.5 runs below average. He’s also performed noticeably worse against sliders and change-ups.

The big change, at least so far, is Rollins’ BABIP, which is currently .234 compared to his career average of .297. Now, it’s way too early to use BABIP and feel comfortable about it, but I ran a few numbers to see if Rollins’ BABIP is statistically significant anyway. At a 95% level of confidence, we’d expect his BABIP to be between .281 and .313. As it stands, his current BABIP is more than two and a half standard deviations below the mean. Again, with the sample size warning in mind, there seem to be other causes for his lack of success on balls in play other than bad luck.

Update: Charlie Manuel must have read my article. I kid, I kid. Rollins was dropped in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Dodgers, however:

  • Victorino
  • Utley
  • Werth
  • Howard
  • Ibanez
  • Rollins
  • Feliz
  • Ruiz
  • Bastardo