Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mets Finally Cash In On Opportunity

The monkeys attended Shea Stadium today and things did not look good for most of the day. The Mets missed opportunity after opportunity to score leaving 11 runners on base for the afternoon. Mike Pelfrey rebounded from a 4th inning where he looked ready to implode to provide 7 solid innings in which he allowed 2 runs. It looked like the Mets were going to waste that effort, but these are the new & improved never say die Mets that seem to have gotten their fight back since Willie received a stay of execution from the Wilpons.

The crowd at Shea watched as scoreboard pleas from Tim Robbins, Kevin James and Chris Rock failed to motivate the Mets to get a big hit. Following the 8th inning blaring of the inspiring Monkees' tune "I'm a Believer," though the Mets went to work.

David Wright led off with a double off the wall. Carlos Beltran, who has been somewhat deficient in the power department, followed with a game-tying blast. Last in the inning, Fernando Tatis who has been the Mets good luck charm of late singled in the go-ahead run. Billy Wagner was overpowering striking out the side in the ninth.

The Mets just have a different feel to them this last week and they were able to regain the momentum that was slowed yesterday a bit by Aaron Heilman's disasterous effort.


Mike Pelfrey did what he had to do to make the Mets decision on who to send down when Pedro returns difficult. The problem is that Carlos Muniz has been impressive since he returned from AAA and Claudio Vargas has given the Mets a solid start 3 out of the 4 times he took the mound. Will the Mets reconsider sending Heilman down to work out his kinks after it looked like they had scrapped that plan?


Some Losses Are Easier to Live With

Earlier in the year watching the Mets was like watching "Groundhog Day." Early in the game, the Mets would get bases loaded one out and someone would hit a sac fly then the next batter wouldn't get a hit. Maybe in the fourth or fifth inning, David Wright or Ryan Church would hit a home run. The game would stay close then someone in the bullpen, usually the since released Jorge Sosa or Aaron Heilman would let the game get out of hand. Then the Mets offense would shut it down and Carlos Delgado and Luis Castillo would jog to first as they grounded out.

However, some things have changed a bit since Willie's big meeting with the Wilpons. This team has developed some fight. First there was Endy's dramatic 9th inning home run on Thursday then we see the Mets offense fighting back from behind not just once, but twice yesterday. The players on the bench look fired up.

Randolph benched Delgado against two lefties this week "to clear his head" and perhaps send a messsage. Delgado, who at times this year has been shy about bending over for groundballs, actually made a diving stab of a rope by Andre Ethier on Thursday. This prompted Willie to say what the monkeys and all the fans were thinking "I like it when his uniform gets dirty. His uniform has been pretty clean for a while." Good for Willie for saying that.

Luis Castillo has gotten hot and all of a sudden his OBP is .389 and his OPS is a more respectable .764. Of course the brittle Castillo suffered a minor injury yesterday so let's hope he gets back in the lineup soon.


As I am sure you can guess, it is the enigmatic Aaron Heilman. The monkeys had defended him and were starting to get rewarded until yesterday. Aaron had been looking so good and then reverted back to the pitcher that was getting lit up earlier. Before it was because he was in love with his changeup. Yesterday, hitters were teeing off on his fastball as well. Perhaps it was too soon to bring Aaron back in a game we had the lead.


Still if the Mets bounce back with a win today, they can continue the momentum they have started to gain. All losses count the same, but indeed some are better than others.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Charitable Monkeys

We are very charitable monkeys and no matter what happens on the field the Mets are always willing to help out the community so the monkeys want to send them a banana split. Special thanks to T in the marketing department. And any humans or monkeys who are near Bridgeport, CT on Saturday June 7th, please stop by the Captain's Cove for the all day event "Swim Across the Sound" which raises money to support cancer patients.


The team that plays with no sense of urgency played like it was the 7th game of the World Series. The team that never gets a clutch hit had timely hit afer timely hit. The team with a shaky bullpen provided mostly shutdown relief. The team that packs it in when they are down displayed a never say die attitude. The team that is lazy ran hard, fought hard and came away with their best victory of 2008.

As Keith Hernandez reiterated throughout the broadcast, this was a game the Mets had to win. A loss and they would have been 6.5 games out of first place and the heat would still be firmly on Willie Randolph. With a win, they are now a more managable 4.5 games out with some momentum.

Unbelievely, this was the first game the Mets have won all year when losing after 7 innings. Endy Chavez, a key cog in 2006 and 2007 who had been mostly a non-factor this year, provided the biggest hit of the year with a pinch-hit homerun in the 9th inning. It was the kind of hit that can change the course of a season if the Mets can build on it.

The game was filled with positives.

The Bullpen:

As the monkeys predicted, Aaron Heilman continues to pitch better with 2 outstanding innings striking out 4. Duaner Sanchez, even though he gave up a go-ahead homer showed some toughness by getting a bunt down after being knocked down by pitch. Sanchez also hustled down to first and almost got a hit (Did you see that Carlos Delgado and Luis Castillo?). Scott Schoenweiss is having the quiet great season that Pedro Feliciano has consistently provided this team. Nice inning of work by Billy Wagner as well.

The Bats:

Jose Reyes continued his hot hitting with a homerun and a double. Luis Castillo provided some surprising power. Carlos Beltran expertly executed a hit and run in the 12th that set up the heroics. And of course Fernando Tatis provided the game winning double.

The Manager ... Yes, the Manager

Willie Randolph made the right decision sticking with yesterday's lineup and not caving in and playing Delgado tonight. He was right in continuing to go to Aaron Heilman because the Mets will need Aaron to perform in order for them to win. He was right to call for a hit and run with Carlos Beltran. And he was right to pinch hit Endy for Ramon Castro even though the monkeys initially wondered why he was pinch hitting for a bigger homerun threat.

All this and Pedro had a very successful rehab start pitching 6 innings and giving up just 2 runs in Pt. St. Lucie.

The monkeys salute Mr. Tatis who is making some noise in his major league comeback.

Disappointment In Johan For the Birds, Not the Monkeys

Johan Santana wasn't dominant last night, but he gave the Mets what they needed. He's done that pretty much every start so far. The bullpen blew two wins for him. The Mets couldn't hit John Smoltz and Santana was tagged with a loss despite pitching 7 innings and allowing one run. He could easily be 9-2 at this point. He is still on pace for 18 wins. Still, the monkeys hear fans that are disappointed.

The fact is Santana is doing what he's always done. His lifetime ERA in April is 4.01. His lifetime ERA in May is 4.07. Look at his splits in most of his better years:

2006 First Half: 2.94 ERA
Second Half: 2.54 ERA

2005: First Half: 3.98 ERA
Second Half: 1.59 ERA

2004: First Half ERA: 3.78 ERA
Second Half ERA: 1.21 ERA

We hear quotes from unnamed scouts that his velocity is down. It is slightly, but not nearly as much as some people would have you believe. The only people or reporters who are disappointed are the ones who didn't educate themselves. He has done exactly what he has always done. In fact, he's done better.

If he doesn't perform in the second half or if he winds up 15-13 with a 4.00 ERA then feel free to be disappointed. Santana has a long enough track record of getting better as the year goes on to earn the benefit of the doubt from the monkeys.


The Mets have started to follow the monkeys' recommendation of a straight platoon with Schneider and Castro with positive results. The monkeys also want the Mets to continue benching Delgado against lefties. Delgado has a .235 OBP against lefties this season. He is a major liability in the field so why play him when he makes such a limited offensive contribution?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Willie Survives, Mets Play Dead

Yesterday, Willie Randolph remained the Manager of the Mets and the Mets remained a lifeless team. According to Adam Rubin of the Daily News, had Willie been defiant about his comments regarding race and the SNY coverage, he would have been fired. Willie apologized face to face and Fred Wilpon granted him a stay of execution. The Wilpons then wanted to know why the team was not playing up to expectations. We have not heard much about Willie's answer to that question.

It is pretty clear from all reports that Jeff Wilpon is not supporting this move. Omar Minaya has reasons to keep Randolph around since Willie provides a shield that protects the heat from shifting to Omar. Fred may just not want to pay someone a year and a half for doing nothing. I'm sure it galls him that he had to pay Art Howe for having to do nothing. Perhaps, Fred had July 4th rather than Memorial Day as the arbritary date that he would evaluate the Manager's performance.

Again, the monkeys are not putting all the blame on Willie. Players need to perform. The GM needs to give him more players in their prime rather than many that are either too old or too young. But, Willie just has not been able to get his players to give their best effort. Some have supported him, some have said it's up to management to decide and some have even hinted a new voice might help.

It doesn't really matter what they say. Actions speak louder than words. It's not only that nobody is running through a brick wall for Randolph. Nobody is running hard 90 feet for him either.

Mets Management didn't say Willie would stay all year which means this will continue to be an unnecessary distraction. Carlos Beltran even said it was yesterday.

Still, Willie does have a short time to save his job. Many newspapers have equated his situation to Tom Coughlin who wasn't reaching his players and was about to be fired. Now Coughlin is the toast of New York.

So the monkeys say this to Willie. You've been given a little longer than you deserve .... Earn This

Monday, May 26, 2008

Meet The Wilpons

Hey, NY Mets. Raise your hand if you are a left-handed reliever. Raise your hand if you throw sidearmed. Raise your hand if you have a concussion. Raise your hand if you just got here 2 days ago. If your hand is not up, you have so far underachieved this season.

Is that all the Manager's fault? Well, the number one role of a Manager is to get the most out of their players. Is it Randolph's fault that Carlos Delgado has diminished skills that come when big sluggers age? No. Is it Randolph's fault that Jose Reyes often seems to playing in a fog and has regressed? Certainly, he must accept some of the blame for that.

Willie Randolph is meeting this morning with the Wilpons. By the end of the meeting, he may or may not be managing the Mets. He had better go in the meeting with better answers than he usually gives. The following will not be acceptable:

The Wilpons: Why are we 23-25?

Willie: When Pedro and Moises come back, I'm sure we'll get in a nice little rhythm.

MONKEYS' COMMENT: The Mets spend too much time waiting to be rescued by old players that are slow to recover and then break down again.

The Wilpons: Why aren't your players running hard? There are times that cost us an extra base or run.

Willie: Most of those times the guys probably wouldn't have been safe anyway. My guys are men. I trust them.

MONKEYS' COMMENT: Willie too often lets his guys off the hook. In the series against the Braves, it was crystal clear they were out hustled. That can't happen.

The Wilpons: Why can't you get through to Jose Reyes?

Willie: You have to remember he's just a baby. He's still developing.

MONKEYS' COMMENT: He's developing backwards. He was an MVP contender in 2006, now he might be the 4th best shortstop in the NL East.

The monkeys are not even going to get into the SNY coverage and Willie's race comments which we had previously covered. Willie better be more prepared to meet with the bosses. The Wilpons might make it easy on the headline writers if they fire Willie on Memorial Day.


Valentino Pascucci has 10 homers in 86 AB's with a .408 OBP and a 1.140 slugging percentage at AAA New Orleans. If Ryan Church needs to go on the DL, he's the guy who needs to be called up.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Now Wille Really Loves Young Players

The monkeys were among those who complained when David Wright was called up and batted seventh. We wondered aloud if it was best for Lastings Milledge to start his career batting eighth and then wondered why he wasn't playing instead of Shawn Green. When reporters questioned him after the game about how he seemed to prefer veterans Willie's answer was always the same "I love young players." His actions though mostly said otherwise.

After yesterday, the monkeys can say for sure that Randolph loves one particular young player. Nick Evans had a remarkable debut with 3 doubles and 2 RBI that Willie hopes provides a stay of execution. There was an energy and excitement that had abandoned this team since the Bronx. Carlos Delgado smiled in the post game interview declaring "It ain't this f-en easy."

Sometimes youth can give a jolt. A couple of years ago Robinson Cano and Chien Ming Wang turned the energy in the Yankees clubhouse around. Now it's only one game so no need to go too crazy, but who wasn't starting to wonder what Mike Carp, Dan Murphy and when he recovers from his injury, Fernando Martinez might be able to provide later in the year?


Ramon Castro added 3 hits yesterday. Brian Schneider is in a slump. The monkeys suggested a platoon when Castro returned from the DL (see the post "Don't Be An Ogre, Willie. Platoon Shrek"). We know Schneider calls a great game, but this team needs offense.


Just wanted to clarify that the monkeys have been notified that some of those "other" votes for Willie Randolph's replacement were specifically for Wally Backman. Wally was the type of "scrappy" player that the Mets seem to lack. The memory of his style of play had the Mets seeking David Eckstein this off season.

Backman famously called out Darryl Strawberry saying he didn't know anyone who got sick 25 times a year. Strawberry responded with "I'll bust that little redneck in the face."

The only issue with Backman is the baggage he brings to the publicity sensitive Wilpons. On November 1, 2004, Backman was hired by the Arizona Diamondbacks to be their new mananger. However, only a day later, reports surfaced that Backman had serious legal and financial problems. He had also been arrested in 1999 for DUI in Washington as documented on HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. A year later, he was arrested in connection with an altercation in his home in Prineville, Oregon. In addition, Backman declared bankruptcy to avoid paying over 20 creditors, including the IRS.The Diamondbacks initially stood by him, but fired him on November 5.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

In the Nick of Time?

Another horrible loss last night and another outfield injury. To replace Marlon Anderson who was placed on the DL with a hamstring injury, the Mets recalled Nick Evans. For those readers who didn't recognize the clip from a couple of days back (The Grass Isn't As Green As You Might Think"), that was Nick Evans blasting one out of the park.

Nick Evans was having a nice year at AA Binghamton showing a lot of power with 8 doubles, 5 triples and 8 homeruns and an OPS of .894. He has absolutely mashed lefties with a .349 BA.

If he is here, give him a shot to play particularly against lefties. Carlos Delgado is hitting .200 this year against lefties. The problem is with Willie fighting for his job, would he really want to put his fate in the hands of a rookie who doesn't even have AAA experience? However, an influx of young talent and energy is exactly what this team needs. Could this be a little too much too soon for Evans? Of course it could, but how could it hurt to find out? Nobody wants to see Evans get 3 pinch hit at bats while he is here. Let the kid play and see what he has.

If the Mets could develop a right-handed hitting first baseman, the lineup balance would be helped tremendously particularly if the long term blueprint calls for lefties Fernando Martinez and Ryan Church to be the corner outfielders.

Here's your shot, kid. The monkeys are rooting for you.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Clock is Ticking on Willie

The Wilpons have called for a meeting with Willie Randolph this Monday when the Mets return to New York. Omar Minaya has flown out to Colorado to presumably prep Randolph and view the team up close to help his recommendation to ownership on whether or not to fire Randolph.

Now if you're Minaya, it is going to take a lot to fire Willie. Once Randolph is gone, the blame for any continued mess falls squarely on Omar. However, if the Mets lose their series or get swept, it's going to pretty hard to convince Jeff Wilpon to keep Willie since he wanted to fire him after last year's collapse.

If Willie was to go, who would be the Mets next Manager? The pool of candidates would be a lot greater in the offseason than midseason. Still, here are a few:

Jerry Manuel -- The Mets bench coach, Manuel has previous major league managerial experience. In a 6-season managerial career, Manuel compiled a .515 winning percentage with 500 wins and 471 losses in 971 games. He led the White Sox to four 2nd-place finishes but only one playoff appearance when he led the White Sox to a 1st-place finish in 2000. The problem is his demeanor is too similar to Randolph.

Lee Mazzili -- Mazzilli was manager of the Baltimore Orioles from 2004 to 2005. He was first base coach to the New York Yankees from 2000 to 2003 and bench coach in 2006. He was 129-140. Mazz was a popular Met, but his managerial track record is questionable.

Ken Oberkfell -- Oberkfell, the Manager of the Mets AAA affiliate, was named 2005 Manager of the Year by Baseball America. He is known as being a player's Manager and a great communicator. He reportedly is great at getting to know each player's personality and managing accordingly. Could he better relate to Reyes? He probably is not the fiery type some fans are screaming for like...

Larry Bowa and Jim Fregosi -- Some fans are looking for a kick ass Manager looking for a completely different style. Fans hear how Bowa pushed Robinson Cano and hope he would have the same effect on Reyes. The monkeys are a bit skeptical of the long term effects of such a move since neither has been very successful. Still as a stopgap to jump start the team, either might work.

Bobby V -- Fans and media members either love him or hate him, but no denying he's usually the brightest guy in the room. Bobby got a lot out Mets teams that weren't very talented. Who makes a World Series with an outfield of Benny Agbayani, Jay Payton and Timo Perez? Still the monkeys remember the last year of Valentine's run when he couldn't get Roberto Alomar to stop sliding headfirst into first base. Bobby V is better with younger teams that he can mold. The Mets need to clear out that clubhouse a bit before they go back to the Bobby V well.

So, what would the monkeys do? Give Oberkfell a shot on an interim basis than reevaluate after the season when a greater pool of choices becomes available.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Misplaying His Hand

Under Willie Randolph's watch, the Mets lost in 7 games to a Cardinals team that was barely over .500 during the season and he received a contract extension.

Under Willie Randolph's watch, the Mets endured one of the greatest collapses in baseball history and he got to keep his job.

Under Wille Randolph's watch, the Mets have played uninspired baseball for 40 games showing less than maximum effort and he has been able to keep his job.

Prior to the Yankees series, Omar Minaya gave Willie a vote of confidence. The Mets beat up on their crosstown rivals and all seemed to pass.

However, Willie's recent comments indicating that his race has something to do with how he has been portrayed by the media is the thing that just might get him fired. The fact that he uses Isiah Thomas, the biggest imcompetent to run a sports franchise in the last 50 years, as an example of how the press treats Afro-American executives shows how far he is reaching. The fact that he brings up Herman Edwards, who continuously bungled clock management, is also a reach.

The monkeys believe all men are created equal. This also means that it is equally possible that an Afro-American can be incompetent as a Caucasian, Hispanic or Asian. Jeff Torborg and Art Howe were treated poorly by the media because of their incompetence as well. They didn't have the ability to blame it on their race. If they did, they would be equally at fault. In fairness, it must be noted that Randolph has done a far better job than those two did. He has also done a far better job than Isiah Thomas and even a little better than Herm Edwards did which is why he was fooolish to bunch himself with them.

Willie has since backtracked on these statements. But everyone knows that the Wilpons are very sensitive to negative publicity. Last time bad publicity got us John Maine. This time it might get us Jerry Manuel or Ken Oberkfell.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Grass isn't as Green As You Might Think

There is no doubt that this is Carlos Delgado's last year in a Mets uniform. Some of you may even doubt if he will last the year before being replaced. He had a nice year in 2006 but putting it kindly, has been below par since then.

This weekend Mets fans caught a glimpse of Jason Giambi. There is also no doubt that this is his last season in New York. He also had a nice year in 2006 and has been way below par since then.

The tabloids and chat rooms have been anticipating a bidding war between the two New York teams for the services of Mark Texiera when he becomes a free agent after this year.

Let's take a brief look at their homerun and RBI production one quarter of the way through the season.
Mark Texiera 5 21
Carlos Delgado 5 19*
Jason Giambi 8 21

* 2 RBI removed by ump.

Now the monkeys know that Texiera is a much better defensive player, but are you not surprised how close these numbers are?

Both NY teams are a bit too lefthanded. Let's check each player's average vs. lefties

Average vs. Lefties

Mark Texiera .203
Carlos Delgado .214
Jason Giambi .147

Now Texiera will hit lefties better than he has, but we are 25% through the season.

Mets fans and Yankees fans both would prefer Mark Texiera than their current first baseman. The monkeys just think that the Mets might want to save their dollars to finance another bidding war. Especially since the answer to the 2009 first base question may lie within.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Are They Preparing for Takeoff?

Another strong game for the Mets as they gain bragging rights in New York. Lots of good signs tonight, most notably the effort by Oliver Perez. He gave a dominating effort tonight going 7 2/3 innings allowing just 2 runs.

Perez is an enormous talent who sometimes has issues with focus. With some of the bashing he took earlier this year, it's important to remember that he was one of the top 10 pitchers in the league last year going 15-10 with a 3.56 ERA. He has now made two straight strong starts and is back on pace for 15 wins this season.

While four teams are jumbled together at the top of the NL East, none of the other contenders have the potential upside with their starting pitching as the Mets do. Johan Santana, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Mike Pelfrey and even Claudio Vargas pitched great over this last rotation turn. Pedro Martinez could be back soon. Rumors abound that Freddy Garcia could be signed in the second half of the season as a reinforcement.

The other great sign was another big Jose Reyes game. He went 2 for 5 with a 3 run homerun. We've all heard over and over, as Reyes goes the Mets go. And what is encouraging is that Reyes is back to his smiling self. He did make another baserunning blunder so all is not golden, but it's getting there.

It was also great to see the Mets keep attacking after the umps overturned Delgado's three run homer when it was clearly fair in the replays.

Amazing what a difference two days can make. A big series with the Braves awaits at the Mets Ballpark of Horrors -- Turner Field. But the monkeys have a good vibe that the Mets may be getting ready for takeoff.

For those of you humans or monkeys who want to rub it in to Yankee fans, you might want to visit this site below and pick up a t-shirt that accurately describes the Yankees as what they are: The Team of Last Century.

Airing it Out

After a week where the Mets lost 3 out of 4 to the last place Nats and Billy Wagner's comments implied a troubled clubhouse, the Mets held a meeting to air things out. By all accounts, this meeting was vital. And although it is only one game, the early returns looked good.

It wasn't just that they won. The team played with a certain joy and enthusiasm that was not apparent in recent weeks. Carlos Delgado, a fading veteran who has appeared grumpy about his diminishing skills, was flashing smiles. The team was hanging on the top steps of the dugout rooting Billy Wagner, either the igniter or instigator depending on who you ask, on. Even the stoic Manager on the hot seat, Willie Randolph, was jovial and relaxed in the postgame press conference.

Johan Santana came through with a big effort pitching 7 1/3 innings for the win. Although he is allowing too many homeruns, the fact is he is still on pace for 20 wins even though the bullpen blew two wins for him and he is yet to pitch his best baseball.

The three core players on the Mets had big games. David Wright broke out of his slump going 3 for 5 with a homerun. Jose Reyes went 2-5 with a homerun. Carlos Beltran went 3-5 including a triple. All this and the Mets scored a run off Joba Chamberlin the first time they faced him. A good day for the offense.

Now, the subways series has a way of rejuvenating a team. This is only one game. And it was a game against someone who may not have been using his best stuff. They Mets need to parlay this into something more. But this was a game that pleased the monkeys.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Time to Switch Brands of Detergent

You know the "Jerry Seinfeld Laundry Theory,'' right? Seinfeld marvels at the loyalty of the sports fan, who roots for his (or her) team year after year. The fan obviously is not rooting for one player or group of players, because the players come and go in a blur.

The fan is rooting for the uniform. He is rooting for laundry. The monkeys and most fans are extremely loyal. But why is this 2008 load of laundry harder than others to root for? How did we come to this?

Who is the most beloved Mets player? Is there any question that it is a guy who was homegrown, has performed up to the hype and seems to care as much as the Mets fans when the Mets lose? That guy is David Wright. In the glory '80's years, Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden held that mantle until personal demons knocked them off that perch.

Ask the Yankee fans who is the most beloved Yankees player? Is it a guy who fits that same description? Yes, Derek Jeter fits that as well. Which recent addition has generated the most love from Yankee fans? Joba Chamberlin who also fits that description.

What type of player is the kind of player fans like the least? How about an older player who comes to your team and performs worse than he did in the past? Carlos Delgado and Luis Castillo would qualify. Over in the Bronx, not too many fans are digging Jason Giambi.

The psychology of a fan is that he wants to believe things will get better. Whether they are fans of a second division team dreaming of being a playoff contender in a year or a first place team dreaming of a dynasty, there needs to be hope that a continued run of success is just around the corner.

This is why the trade of Scott Kazmir still is the signature move by Mets ownership that showed they were out of touch with the fans. Kazmir would have clearly challenged David Wright as the Mets most popular player. The buildup on him was that he would have been an "ace" for many years to come (providing the hope of continued success we previously discussed). He also has a strong competitive edge that would have shown the fans he cared. The anticipation of Kazmir was so great that the monkeys called their fantasy team Kazmir two years before he was called up to the majors. There is no need to discuss the trade further. Every human or monkey reading this column is well aware.

The aftermath of this trade resulted in ownership firing Jim Duquette and bringing in Omar Minaya who promised a homegrown, young athletic team. And far a little while, there was a hope of a long-term run of success down the road with an outfield of Fernando Martinez, Lastings Milledge and Carlos Gomez. Now 2 out of 3 are gone.

The problem was the fans were so outraged with Kazmir that Omar had to fix things and fast. The only way to fix a bad team with a farm system is to sign free agents. When you sign free agents, you lose draft picks which affects the farm system. The only way to fix that is to ignore the slot system for paying draft picks like the Yankees and Tigers among others have. However, the Mets decided to play by Bud Selig's rules (although they may not this year). Since free agents can't hit the market until they play at least 6 years, it would be logical that in the tail end of whatever contract they sign as a free agent, they would be past their prime.

The monkeys are not suggesting the Mets never sign any free agents or add veteran players from other teams just that they start getting back to developing more talent from within. Because the monkeys can't help looking look over at Arizona and Tampa Bay and wondering why our management isn't using the same detergent.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Championship Hangover Without The Championship

Today, the monkeys woke up with a big hangover. Our heads were pounding. We couldn't get out of bed. We craved a greasy banana. The funny thing is we hadn't been drinking the night before. Now how could we have a hangover when we weren't out drinking?

Well, how can the Mets have a championship hangover when they haven't won anything?


Mike Pelfrey pitches the best game of his career and the Mets can't drive in a single run to support his effort ....

one day after Claudio Vargas pitches a gem and the Mets allow that to go to waste.

Jose Reyes makes a boneheaded baserunning blunder getting thrown out trying to advance to third from first on a bunt with David Wright and Carlos Beltran coming to the plate...

and the fact that Jose Reyes wasn't even running hard initially.

Gary Cohen not following the rules and jinxing Pelfrey's no hitter by mentioning it constantly. Hey Gary, not everybody likes to step on cracks, break mirrors, walk under ladders and let black cats cross their paths....

Shutup already!

Going 3-4 on a homestand that the Mets needed to dominate....

and playing worse as the homestand continued.

Carlos Delgado going 0-4 again and leaving the game before talking to reporters leaving Billy Wagner to have to answer questions on a day he didn't even pitch ...

further revealing the rift in the Mets clubhouse between certain players that Paul Loduca had addressed last season.

The fact that the Mets still continue to believe that they are the NL's best team like they were in 2006...

but no one else does.

It's not too late for things to turn around. The playoff teams under Bobby V never started out much better than .500 during the first third of their season. However "You've got to believe" rings hollow when the team believes they only need to throw their gloves on the field to win.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Listening to The Boss

Yesterday, after weeks of the situation begging for it, Carlos Delgado made the opposing team pay for their dramatic shift by bunting to third base for a base hit.

Interesting quote by Willie Randolph today saying that he's been trying to get Delgado to bunt for a long time and he was glad that he finally did. It reminded the monkeys of how Bobby Valentine said he was trying to get Roberto Alomar to stop sliding into first base.

The obvious question is why is it so hard to get players to do what you say? Now the monkeys played Little League back in their days in the suburbs and when the coach told us to bunt, we bunted. Most certainly, players in high school or college wouldn't dream of dismissing a coach's request to bunt. And for players in the minors looking to avoid the dreaded "uncoachable" tag, a Manager's word is law. Now after years of obeying, does making it to the major leagues change all that?

Do the players think that since they are paid in the millions of dollars that they must justify their contract by swinging instead of bunting? Do they feel bunting is beneath them after they have made it this far? Either way, do they feel it is okay to ignore the Manager's request because they now make money than their boss?

This column will not be about how fit Willie Randolph is for the job, but this does beg the question, "Will players only listen to a certain kind of Manager?" Would it take Lou Pinella or Jim Leyland as long to plead Delgado to lay down a bunt? Certainly, it is interesting that it took this long for Delgado to listen to his boss.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Monkeys Set Mets Agenda

Yesterday the monkeys suggested three steps that the Mets needed to take.

Number #1

Jorge Sosa had to go. The fact that he was "versatile" only meant he could be very bad in a variety of roles.

Number #2

Nelson Figueroa's time had past. He was a nice story and gave some quality innings, but he reverted to what he was... a very pedestrian pitcher.

Number #3

Carlos Delgado couldn't keep being overmatched by lefties. There needed to be a righty on the bench who could spell him on occasion.

Well today, Jorge Sosa and Nelson Figueroa were designated for assignment. Matt Wise and Claudio Vargas have been added to the roster. Angel Pagan has been placed on the DL and Fernando Tatis who has slugged 12 homers so far in AAA was called up.

These are all good moves. The Mets needed a bat off the bench that could jack one out of the park. Fernando Tatis may be slightly limited as a player, but he could easily fill this need. Claudio Vargas has been a pretty decent starter that has had double digit win totals the past 2 years. Hopefully he'll eventually be replaced by Pedro or Duque or even a healthy Freddy Garcia in the second half of the season, but he should be a suitable stopgap. Finally, Matt Wise will be a welcome fresh arm who despite one bad pitch to Robert Andino looked pretty good.

The monkeys set a 3 step plan and Omar followed. And it's always good to have a plan.

Monday, May 12, 2008

There is No Great Pumpkin!

As they say at the bakery ... next! Nelson Figueroa, the Mets feel-good story of 2008 has turned back into a pumpkin. The man who was drafted by the Mets and last pitched in the big leagues in 2004 was easy to root for. His comeback took him through Mexico and Taiwan. In his return to Major League Baseball on April 11 with his family in attendance, he pitched 6 innings, allowed 2 hits, walked two and struck out 6, getting credit for the victory. His second start was just as good as he threw 7 innings allowing just 2 runs while striking out 7. When Oliver Perez was melting and the bullpen needed someone to eat valuable innings, Figgy stepped in and ate 3 innings at a key time. Figgy had a nice run, but sadly it seems as though it is over.

For the 4th straight start, Figgy was unable to go 6 innings. He had no command of his pitches walking 5 batters after his previous start where he walked 4 batters. His stuff simply is not good enough to walk that many.

So who might replace Figgy in the rotation until Pedro returns? Well, it might be time to give Tony Armas Jr. a shot since he is on the same turn as Figgy. Armas Jr. has pitched pretty well down in New Orleans with a 3.02 ERA. Tonight he threw 6 innings, let up 2 ER and struck out 8. Time for him to get a shot.

The Mets took 2 out of 3 from the Reds. They need to take 3 out of 4. Gonna be tough after losing the first game, but it needs to be done.


Has Omar finally seen enough yet from Jorge Sosa? Those of you who saw how Scarface took care of Sosa in the monkey's clip a few days back know how we feel about Sosa. The fact that they were considering sending Joe Smith down in his place is now even more laughable.

Watching Carlos Delgado looking feeble against another lefty. The bench needs a righty that can play first and spell Delgado especially if Easley is going to be needed so often to play second base. It might be time for Valentino Pascucci or Fernando Tatis to replace that other pumpkin named Angel Pagan.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Arroyo Could Throw NL East Race a Curve

The Mets yesterday played a great first game of their doubleheader. They actually had timely hits, production from Dos Carloses and a gutty effort from Santana who was fighting allergies. The only slight blemish was some mediocre bullpen efforts. Still pitching with a big lead, that can be overlooked to some extent.

The pitching match up in the second game made the monkeys nervous. Bronson Arroyo entered the game with an 8.63 ERA. Arroyo has been a solid middle of the rotation starter for several years and since water usually finds its level, Arroyo was due for a good start. In fact, Arroyo had a great start, pitching eight innings allowing one run on four hits while striking out nine. Willie Randolph may take another hit from fans for the Mets coming out sluggish in the nightcap of the doubleheader, but this time that would be unfair. Arroyo was just that good yesterday.

Arroyo throws a fastball that has average speed, but above average movement. More importantly, he throws a curveball that is among baseball's best when he is on. Arroyo is battle tested having pitched in many big games for the Red Sox before joining the Reds. He embraced the pressure and actually gave the Red Sox a "hometown discount" when he signed a contract to keep him in Boston. He was shaken when the Red Sox sent him to the Reds in an ill-advised trade for Willie Mo Pena in 2006.

Arroyo did excel his first year with the Reds going 14-11 with a 3.29 ERA. He was rewarded with a nice contract extension through 2010. This year young pitchers Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto have emerged to be a big part of the Reds' rotation. The Reds also have Homer Baily on the horizon and Aaron Harang as their ace. With the Reds struggling, the one pitcher they might consider moving who would supply some more prospects as well as payroll relief would be Bronson Arroyo.

The NL East are filled with contenders who need to add a solid, innings eating starter. Obviously the Mets would be one with a bullpen that has been overworked the first quarter of the season. With John Smoltz moving to the bullpen, Arroyo would be a great pickup for the Braves. Besides Cole Hamels, the Phillies have not had reliable starting pitching. Arroyo is a guy all three contenders (and no the monkeys still do not believe the Marlins are contenders just yet)will be looking at. The one who gets him might have the division on a hook.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Don't Be an Ogre, Willie. Platoon Shrek

With a doubleheader today, it is almost a certainty that Ramon Castro will make his season debut today. Castro has missed the entire season thus far due to recurring hamstring problems. His durability has always been an issue which is why the Mets could never really trust him to be their primary catcher.

The monkeys were charmed by Raul Casanova's performance as a fill-in (1 homer, 6 RBI .283) and we hope he pasases through waivers and stays with the organization as he far outperformed Mike DeFelice in that third catcher insurance role. But for all the love some fans were giving Casanova, he's no Ramon Castro.

Last year, Castro seemed to hit a homerun every time he started. The monkeys were actually happy to see Loduca injured sometimes because it meant more playing time for Castro. In fact, Castro hit 11 homers in just 144 at bats. His .OPS was .887. He also was a rare Mets player that excelled in big spots. He hit .319 with runners on base. He hit .292 with 2 outs and runners in scoring position. The Mets aren't exactly filled with players who are succeeding in those spots this year.

Castro's right-handed bat also balances the lineup against left-handed pitchers. Brian Schneider has been solid and has handled the pitching staff well. He's also hitting .240 vs. lefties and .350 vs. righties. There is no need to wear him out. This could and should be a very productive platoon situation. Randolph tends to work his primary catcher hard. The monkeys' recommendation would keep Schneider fresh into September and hopefully October.

Shrek's back!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

What Kind of Monkey are You?

The Mets have started the year at 17-15. You can look at that as an optimistic monkey who sees the glass as half full or a pessimistic monkey that sees the glass half empty.

The optimistic monkey sees Oliver Perez and sees a guy who despite his inconsistencies won 15 games last year. He sees a guy who wins big games and will start to realize all his starts are "big games" as he is fighting for a big contract that will set him up for life.

The pessimistic monkey sees Oliver Perez and sees a guy who is frustrating because he is never as good as he should be. They see the guy who only 2 short seasons ago was 3-13 for Pittsburgh. A guy who is melting under the pressure of fighting for a big contract.

The optimistic monkey sees the Mets record of 17-15 and sees that the Mets have a winning record despite not clicking yet on all cylinders. Despite missing Moises Alou until this past week. Despite throwing out a patchwork back of the rotation with Pedro and El Duque out. They see the best is yet to come.

The pessimistic monkey sees a team that has gone 72-71 over their last 143 teams and quotes Bill Parcells with "You are what your record says you are." They think it's only a matter of time until Moises Alou is on the DL again and that Pedro will not ever be the same.

The optimistic monkey sees Carlos Delgado and thinks although he will never be the player he was in Toronto, he can still squeeze out 20 homers, 80 RBI and hot .250.

The pessimistic monkey sees a washed up former superstar who will be released by the All-Star Break.

The optimistic monkey sees a bullpen that is getting better. They know Heilman typically is a second half pitcher and Duaner Sanchez will only get better as he builds arm strength.

The pessimistic monkey sees a bullpen that has been overworked and remembers 2007 when that only meant a downward spiral as the year wore on.

Both monkeys have a legitimate case. The Mets have a soft part of their schedule coming up where they have seven games against two of the NL's weakest teams ... the Reds and the Nationals. The Mets need to go 5-2 or 6-1. If not, the pessimistic monkey may start winning over the jury.

Thankful Monkeys

The monkeys want to send a banana split out to Matt Cerrone of metsblog who added a link to our site. Matt is giving an equal voice to animals and we really appreciate it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mets Find Penny and Pick It Up

The Mets came through with an explosive offensive effort today against Brad Penny. This was nothing new as Penny's record against the Mets is now 5-12 with a 6.21 ERA. We've all seen a player that has a pitcher's number. The monkeys have cringed in the past when Pat Burrell or Brian Jordan faced Armando Benitez. Some of our more die-hard fans might remember how Glenallen Hill dominated John Franco. But sometimes an entire team dominates a pitcher and it is surprising when it is someone who is as talented as Brad Penny.

After a lengthy game the night before, the Mets sent out their "B" team today with Marlon Anderson at First, Angel Pagan in Left and Raul Casanove behind the plate. It didn't matter though against Penny as the Mets scored 10 runs off him to continue their dominance.The Mets early season MVP Ryan Church went 3-4 with a homer. Raul Casanova, who may be sent to AAA as soon as Friday, went 2 for 4. Marlon Anderson took advantage of a rare start and went 2 for 5.

John Maine delivered the best starting effort thus far in this young season going 8 1/3 innings and alllowing just one run. Maine has won 4 of his last 5 starts and is starting to perform as well as his impressive spring indicated he would.

The Mets finished a tough trip against the NL West's two best teams with a 3-3 record. That's solid work. They found a bad Penny and had some good times. Now they face the Reds and Nationals. Time to get fat against the second division teams.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Only One Wise Move

Matt Wise is scheduled to throw in back to back games during his minor league rehab this week. He recently had a tidy 2 inning outing where he struck out 3 and did not allow a hit. Wise was expected to add another nice 7th inning right-handed option to the Mets bullpen. He managed to only stay healthy for 2 appearances, including one where he gave up a game-winning homer to legendary power threat Robert Andino, before experiencing forearm tightness. Still, the Mets will welcome a fresh arm to their overworked bullpen.

In order to bring Wise back into the fold, the Mets will need to make a roster move. The easiest, but certainly not the smartest, would be to send Joe Smith to AAA because he still has options and only made the team because of Duaner Sanchez' injury and only stayed on the roster because Wise got hurt. However, Joe Smith has been the most consistent and effective of the Mets right-handed relief options. He also provides a different look to a bullpen filled with fastball and change-up types.

If some sources are to be believed, Nelson Figueroa may be pitching for his spot tonight since the Mets are considering moving Jorge Sosa into the rotation to open a bullpen spot for Wise. Figueroa may yet turn back into a pumpkin, but he's been a reliable starter for the Mets. Who else besides Johan Santana and just recently John Maine can say that?

Yesterday, the monkeys posted some their feelings on Mike Pelfrey. We think he still will be a solid starter, but if the Mets decided he needs some more time in AAA, we'd hardly argue with that. What we would argue is that Tony Armas Jr. who is 1-2 with a 2.57 ERA in AAA would be a better replacement for Pelfrey in the rotation than Jorge Sosa.

Which brings us to the only wise move ... DFA Jorge Sosa. The monkeys have already delved into their feelings about Jorge Sosa in previous posts (see "Swing, man"). Willie Randolph constantly marvels at Sosa's versatility. Just because you can do a lot of things does not mean you can do them well. Sosa is a versatile failure. He has failed as a starter, a long man, a situational righty and a short man. He has the highest ERA on the team. Who wants to bet that his next pitch won't be a slider? Any takers? Bueller...Bueller? The Mets have many others in their organization who could fill his swingman role. The monkeys have previously suggested Joselo Diaz, but Tony Armas and Ruddy Lugo could also fill this role. We all know the Mets don't like to eat contracts, but if they don't, they'll be hungry for a new swingman soon enough.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Untangling the Webb

The monkeys were very intrigued by an article today in the New York Times. The article mentions that on Saturday, Mike Pelfrey was intently observing his mound opponent, Brandon Webb. "In Webb, Pelfrey sees a more — much more — advanced version of himself. More precisely, he sees what he aspires to become."

Well to date, Pelfrey has more closely resembled Peter Parker than a webslinger, but there is reason to believe Pelfrey can get there. Pelfrey does throw a hard sinker that tops out at 97 MPH. Mets fans have seen a few rare glimpses where this could be a dominant pitch. As Pelfrey observes from Webb, he needs to pound the strike zone which he just hasn't done consistently. The New York Times article states that Pelfrey is performing balance drills intended to get his hand on top of the ball when throwing the pitch. When Pelfrey does not do that, his sinker flattens out, running laterally across the plate instead of diving down in the zone, where hitters often cannot help but pound the ball into the ground — à la Webb.

Mets fans need to acknowledge that the Mets have rushed Pelfrey along. A lot of that has been more on need rather than merit. Pelfrey made a grand total of 33 starts in the minors (only 16 at AAA)and pitched a total of 176 innings. On the advice of Rick Petersen, Pelfrey also bagged his power curve and has still not perfected the slider Petersen recommended instead. Ask Petersen why Pelfrey abandoned the curve he wes comfortable with and you'll likely get a dissertation on why peanut butter goes together with jelly.

In 2006, Fausto Carmona another pitcher with a power sinker was mishandled and wound up going 1-10 with a 5.42 ERA. He has since blossomed into one of the AL's best pitchers. You can't teach "stuff." Sometimes it takes time to harness talent. Pelfrey is watching the guy he should be watching. Hopefully, he's taking copious notes. There may still be a radioactive spider in his future.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Facing Our Fear of Snakes

What could have been a very frustrating loss turned into a really nice win in a hurry. This was the second straight start the bullpen blew Johan Santana's win. Once again though, Santana was partially to blame because although he pitched very well, he didn't give the length that he's going to need to give as the season goes on. The monkeys have all the confidence that he will as it traditionally takes Santana about two months to get into top form. Santana, even as he is now, is still a really good pitcher.

The Mets were only able to get two runs today off a strong Danny Haren. David Wright hit his 6th homerun and Jose Reyes drove in the other run. In the 9th inning, Conor Jackson messed up a sure double play with an awful throw that went into leftfield. If the Diamondbacks didn't provide the Mets with enough help on that play, Bob Melvin made a puzzling decision to intentionally walk Luis Castillo who was 0-14 and has had all sorts of trouble this year getting in men from third with less than two outs.

What was nice to see though was that the Mets added a couple of insurance runs with Marlon Anderson's pinch hit single and Jose Reyes' sac fly. Make no mistake, even with the help the Mets received this was big that they took 2 out 3 in Arizona. It is good to see we can beat them in a series. It will better to see that in October.


Watching Luis Castillo at the plate and wondering again if Omar really had to offer a 4 year contract. Couldn't he have given him a 2 year contract? Even a 3 year contract?

2 more errors. The Mets need to tighten up the defense, particularly against good teams like Arizona.

Friday, May 2, 2008

An Oasis in the Desert

The Mets responded to the monkey's challenge tonight and beat a tough Diamondbacks team. The young stars shined tonight. Jose Reyes went 4-5 with two triples and three runs scored. David Wright added a 3-5 hitting his 5th homerun of the season. John Maine had his 5th straight outing letting up 2 runs or less. The Mets just seem to like playing at Chase Field.

Other positives included the return of Moises Alou who makes the lineup look a lot better. Glad to see Ryan Church back in the 2 spot. The Mets have thrived when Church has batted second. Duaner Sanchez had a nice bounce back effort and all in all, a really good win for the Mets.

Things get tougher from here on this trip as the Mets will face Brandon Webb and Danny Haren before heading to Los Angeles to take on a hot Dodger team, but tonight they came out aggressively and were the ones providing the venom.

Fear of Snakes

The Mets missed a golden opportunity in 2006. They were clearly the best team in the NL, if not all of baseball. They made it as far as the 7th game of the NLCS before Adam Wainwright threw a knee buckling curve to a frozen Carlos Beltran.

In 2007, the Mets maybe still the best team in the NL, went on cruise control in September and suffered one of the worst collapses in the history by blowing a 7 game lead with 17 left to play.

In 2008, some Mets will tell you they are still the most talented team in the NL. And if they tell you that then they are delusional. The Arizona Diamondbacks have become a powerhouse and are clearly the cream of the crop in the NL, if not all of baseball. They are the young and athletic team that Omar Minaya had promised to build. They have youthful energy and a desire to win fueled by the four game sweep they suffered in last year's NLCS. The kind of desire most Mets fans hoped the 2007 Mets would bring after their heartbreaking loss to the Cardinals.

The monkeys preseason World Series pick was Arizona vs.Detroit. And while, Detroit is just starting to find its way, Arizona has been pedal to the metal since day one. They lead the league in ERA with a 3.25 ERA playing in what has traditionally been more of a hitter's park. Brandon Webb is 6-0 and the early Cy Young favorite. Their key acquisition, Dan Haren is 4-1 with a 3.13 ERA. Youngster Micah Owings is 4-0 and as a side note has the same number of pinch hit homerun as the entire Mets team.

Youngsters such as Conor Jackson (5 homers .348 BA), Justin Upton (5 homers, .327 BA) and Mark Reynolds (7 homers, 24 RBI) have started coming into their own. Hot pitching prospect Matt Scherzer was just added and threw 4.1 scoreless innings with 7 strikeouts. Chad Qualls acquired for their former closer Jose Valverde has pitched 15.1 scoreless innings to start the season.

The monkeys are not saying the Mets should give up on the season. We still believe they are the best team in the division. An injury to Brandon Webb can change the landscape pretty quickly. And just because they may not be the best team in the playoffs should they make it doesn't mean they would lose. Just ask Yadier Molina. However, no should blame Mets fans if they suddenly have developed a fear of snakes.


"We're okay - but I think we can do better - and we're going to get better," Reyes said. "It's still early in the season and I know that when we get Moises and Pedro back, everything is going to be good. " -- Jose Reyes. Uh, Jose who knows how long Moises and Pedro will stay healthy when they come back. Take some personal responsibility, kid.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Walking Disaster

Oliver Perez continued to frustrate the monkeys yesterday with a ridiculously quick outing where he allowed 7 runs and walked 5 batters. After yesterday's game where the Mets went into extra innings, they needed Perez to go give them some length. This week's rainout turned out to big for the Mets because it allowed Nelson Figueroa to eat some innings and not further tax an overworked bullpen. Another small, but noted contribution by Figgy who does not have anywhere near the God given talent that Mr. Perez was born with.

Perez is so frustrating because we all know how good he can be. He came up big his 2 playoff games in 2006. He has consistently dominated the Yankees and the Braves which are always high profile games for the Mets. In the early part of this year in what were statement games, Perez provided two shutout, although not lengthy, outings vs. the Phillies. The monkeys still like Perez in a big game. But why does he struggle against a team like the Pirates?

Judging by the number of unearned runs he has allowed the past two years (20 last year and 5 already this year), Perez lets things bother him when things are not going his way. He has a hard time repeating his delivery. If you were to golf with him, you'd expect to see a few birdies and then some holes where he got a 13.

Billy Wagner seemed to partially absolve Willie Randolph and Rick Petersen of some responsibility by claiming Perez is "like talking to a wall." Of course, you can be sure Scott Boras who is representing Perez will talk to him. Perez could still be one of Boras' top commissions this offseason. And even a wall eventually listens if you tell them you are going try and paint them gold.