Monday, June 30, 2008

Half Full or Half Empty?

As the Mets reached the statistical halfway point yesterday, the monkeys were curious about some of the players first and second half splits over the years. Are they better earlier in the season or is the best yet to come. Here's what we found:

Carlos Delgado
2007: .242 - .285
Career: .269 - .291

What we have seen recently may not be a complete mirage. Delgado traditionally has been a better second half hitter. As we mentioned in yesterday's post, if he could finish 26, 90 .250, most fans would happily take that.

Luis Castillo
2007: .305 - .296
Career: .299 -.285

Castillo usually has a mild falloff in the 2nd half, but given his size, that is to be expected. Perhaps with more rest, he'll hold up a little better. Needless to say though, Castillo could break down at any time.

Jose Reyes
2007: .307-.251
Career: .284-.287

Last year's dramatic second half slump had the monkeys expecting poor second half numbers throughout his career, but the numbers indicate last year might have been an aberration. Reyes needs to be given more rest than last season during the hotter months, but it is reasonable to expect him to maintain his current production.

David Wright

2007: .292-.364
Career: .294-.324

Wright made an MVP run last year in the second half and if not for the Mets collapse, he would have battled Matt Holiday for the award. Wright has been a second half player throughout his young career.

Carlos Beltran

2007: .264-.293
Career: .272- .291

Beltran has also been a better second half player and he has improved as is legs have healed so no reason to expect things to change this year.

Ryan Church

2007: .259- .293
Career: .282 - .267

Church got better in the second half last year, but that was contrary to his career numbers. As he recovers from his concussions, the Mets are just hoping for maintenence.

Brian Schneider

2007: .235 - .236
Career: .248 - .260

Nothing very telling in these numbers. Expect Schneider to hit between .250-.260 in the second half.

Many of these numbers are encouraging particularly for the guys in the middle of the lineup. We'll believe it when we see it (and the Mets have already pushed back his return), but Eight Belles may soon return as well. So there is some hope for optimistic fans about the offense.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weekend Mirrors Season

After a weekend of hype, what are we left with?

A .500 weekend just which pretty much should have expected considering this season. A lot of what happened should have been expected.

Johan Santana pitching well enough to win, but the offense couldn't support him leading to a loss.

Jose Reyes creating runs and acting as a spark while also making a baserunning blunder and a silly error.

Carlos Delgado leading an offensive explosion in Game #1 on Friday followed by the team being shutout by Sidney Ponson.

Oliver Perez made the monkeys look good by dominating the Yankees as he often has. The monkeys still believe the Mets need to stick with him as the chances are greater that he could roll off a bunch of wins than that Tony Armas Jr. or any replacement would.

Carlos Delgado made the monkeys look bad after we wanted to DFA him. All of a sudden, he projects out to 28 homers and 90 RBI. The monkeys would gladly sign up for that right now.

As fun as the subway series is, the Mets have bigger fish to fry. Next week the Mets take on the wildcard leading Cardinals and Division leading Phillies. A hot start to the second half of the schedule would put the Mets in pretty decent shape heading toward the All-Star Break.

But, the monkeys want to take a minute and celebrate the Mets winning the 2008 subway series and shove it in the Yankee rally monkeys' faces a bit


Today, talking about Roger Clemens throwing the bat at Mike Piazza in the 2000 World Series, the following exchange took place:

Gary Cohen: Clemens said he thought it was the ball.
Keith Hernandez: Was he under oath?
Gary Cohen: Does it matter?



If you missed Baseball America's hot sheet, here you go.


Team: Rookie-level Kingsport (Appalachian)
Age: 16
Why He's Here: .400/.417/.578, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 0 BB, 7 SO
The Scoop: Flores is a 16 year old playing in a league where the average age is more than 20, and he has been arguably the best player in the league for the first week and a half. After belting a home run in his professional debut, Flores has continued his steady production. Enduring the loss of manager Nick Leyva, who also served as his Flores' translator, could have been a hitch in the road for Flores, who had grown close to Leyva, but the teenager's makeup impressed observers in Kingsport as he kept up his steady production under new leadership. The only knock on Flores is his defense, which at times can be shaky. He made three errors in a game on Tuesday night, but played the next two games error-free. Flores' hitting is his best present tool and he showed it on Thursday night, going 4-for-5 with a triple and three RBIs.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Before the season started, most analysts figured there were three keys to the Mets season: Carlos Delgado providing a middle of the order presence, Pedro Martinez being a top of the rotation stater and Duaner Sanchez being a top flight setup man.

Well, as the Mets continue to float around .500, it is obvious that these answers have not turned out all favorably. Until yesterday, Carlos Delgado had struggled driving in runs and hitting for average. Pedro Martinez had fought injuries and has to quote the since gone Mr. Randolph "not really found his rhythm yet. Duaner Sanchez has not been the stellar 2006 version, but really has been mostly solid and more effective than his ERA might indicate.

Yesterday, the monkeys were in the Bronx where we saw Carlos Delgado turn back time. The monkeys have been a bit rough on Delgado, but yesterday he looked like the type of presence that could help turn the Mets season around hitting 2 homers, a double and driving in 9 runs. It was only one game and he was quiet in Game 2 so we don't want to get too excited just yet. Still, the monkeys will hold off a week or two before writing anymore DFA Carlos columns.

On the other hand, Pedro Martinez just looked awful. The monkeys are hoping he is just rounding into shape after his long layoff. He had very little command of any of his pitches. Claudio Vargas who was just DFA'd had actually been doing a better job in that spot. Hopefully, Pedro turns it around. His velocity has been better than before the injury and Pedro is a very bright man so we would expect he will make some necessary adjustments.

The Mets were able to gain another 1/2 game on first place yesterday so it was still a productive day. The monkeys are hoping for at least a split the next two games as the Mets move on to games that are really more important than the subway series namely against wildcard leading Cardinals and division leading Phillies.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Changes Coming?

After last night's game, Jerry Manuel claimed changes are coming. Despite the Mets DFA Claudio Vargas and calling up this year's early frequent flyer from New Orleans Carlos Muniz, nothing has occurred just yet. Today's lineup which includes Marlon Anderson and Fernando Tatis does follow through on Manuel's promise to reward players as those are two of the players that actually hit a little bit yesterday.

The monkeys were a little disappointed to read Omar's comments that he still likes the team as is and Manuel can be in charge of lineup and rotation moves, but Omar is still in charge of personnel decisions. Fact of the matter is that tweaking the lineup is not likely to produce real results.

Here are some of the monkeys thoughts on 2 moves that people have shouted for:

DFA Carlos Delgado -- The monkeys strongly endorse this move. Delgado has become the symbol of what ills the Mets. A passionless veteran past his prime that often does not give max effort. Mike Carp could provide a boost of energy and fans would be more inclined to forgive his struggles with a realistic hope that he might get better. Even Valentino Pascucci who the monkeys wrote about yesterday would be a decent stopgap who would certainly welcome an opportunity and play hard when he finally got his chance.

Trade Oliver Perez -- The absolute wrong move. First, the Mets would get less for him than they would if they just let him go as a free agent and got draft picks. It is important that he keeps pitching and wins enough games to remain a type "A" free agent (determined based on the last 2 seasons) that could bring the Mets needed extra draft picks. Besides as maddening as Perez can be, when he is on he can shut down teams like few others in this rotation.

Revisiting our recommendation from a few weeks back, the Mets should consider trading Billy Wagner. Now that he is pitching well again, you can see the monkeys are not just making an irrational decision based on his recent struggles. The Mets need a young right-handed hitting outfielder in any retooling scenario. They have no other somewhat replaceable asset to trade to get one. Free agents do not offer young players. Besides Reyes, Wright, Beltran, Maine, Pelfrey and Santana (all untouchables), what assets are there to trade? Wagner is only going to be here for a year and a half more. The Mets might be able to trade Heilman for Brian Fuentes and not throw in the towel for this year.

Why not tempt the Brewers who have a legitimate shot at the wildcard for the first time in years but lack a closer? The Mets can try and get Matt Laporta who has 19 homers and 59 RBI at AA and is the type of young right-handed hitter the Mets need. It's a gutsy move and the monkeys are fans of Billy Wagner, but the Mets need to start getting in the habit of taking risks on younger players rather the old ones.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Check out these numbers for the Mets key bench players this year:

Endy Chavez 1 HR, 6 RBI, .239, .586 OPS
Trot Nixon 1 HR, 1 RBI, .174 (but a .321 OBP).669 OPS
Fernando Tatis 1 HR, 10 RBI, .224, .562 OPS
Marlon Anderson 1 HR, 6 RBI, .188, .489 OPS
Damion Easley 2 HR, 14 RBI, .254, .652 OPS

The greatest measurement of production is OPS. As a point of reference, Luis Castillo has an OPS of .702. The Mets bench has atrocioius OPS numbers. The most legitimate indictment of Omar Minaya this season is the lousy bench he put together and this is a skill that Minaya excelled at the past few years. However, stocking the bench was more important this year than any time during Minaya's tenure.

Between Moises Alou, Carlos Delgado and Luis Castillo, you have both fading veterans and not very durable players. The monkeys like many Mets fans are mystified that Minaya didn't have the foresight to stock the bench with at least one if not two legitimate power threats considering two of his top 4 homerun threats were likely to regress or spend time on the DL. The Mets have gotten 2 homeruns out of leftfield this season. That is not a typo.

The monkeys and other bloggers have called for Valentino Pascucci who has been getting on base (.420 OBP) and hitting for power (14 homers). We know he is defensively challenged, but he really needs to get a shot. The Mets sent Chris Aguila make to the minors after just 6 AB's, but despite Robinson Cancel's "Chip Ambres" moment, does anybody not believe Aguila would have provided more as a righty option in the outfield the last couple of weeks?

Since the Mets will need to make a roster move involving adding a pitcher next week, the monkeys expect them to send down Tatis (Cancel will go down for Church this weekend). After the Mets do not need the extra pitcher, why not call up Pascucci then? The Mets need to reshuffle the deck a bit with their bench. And although some Valentinos may have better footwork, Pascucci can hit.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Give Us Some Credit, Fred

The monkeys watched Fred Wilpon's interview today and smiled. Fred seems like a nice man, but despite his business acumen, he does not seem exceptionally bright. This was a man who met Art Howe and thought he lit up the room. This was a man that actually argued that Victor Zambrano had the third best fastball in the AL and was a budding ace. This was a man that just told us Omar is doing "a great job." The monkeys are stronger supporters of Omar than most, but even we would be hard pressed to describe his work as "great." But the thing that made us smile most was Fred's insistence that Willie's firing was Omar's decision.

Now, maybe it was Omar who made the final decision. But after all the organizational leaks, what choice did Minaya have? The constant speculation of Willie's status was simply just too distracting. And the person who leaked the rumored firing really made the decision for Omar. If Fred doesn't respect the fans enough to know they will figure that out then shame on Fred.


So, let's see. Luis Castillo is heading to the DL, but he is in tonight's starting lineup.

Moises Alou can't be counted on for this year, yet Tony Bernazard says Alou will be back by the All Star break.

Angel Pagan is recovering nicely and just needs to start swinging yet other reports have him needing season ending surgery.

The Mets and the beat reporters need to get their stories straight.


Wilmer Flores has slowed down a bit since his crazy start, but the monkeys are still watching him. Javier Rodriguez, the Mets most recent draft signee who was the top high school prospect in Puerto Rico just joined the Gulf Coast Mets. Recent pick catcher Dock Doyle plays on that team. Fernando Martinez is rehabbing with the GCL team. Let's get some rookie league games on SNY. Enough with the loudmouths.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Maybe Jack Bauer Should Be The GM

The dust has settled a bit on the Mets firing fiasco this week, but it will take the organization a little while to recover from the hit it took this week from the press and the fans. With all the talk of leaks and moles in the organization, the monkeys think that watching the Mets has become a little bit like watching "24."

In Season 1, Jack Bauer was able to thwart the terrorists, save his family when it was held hostage and stop the assassination attempt of President Palmer only to find out in the very last scene that his wife was killed by his enemy, Nina Myers. It was a devastating blow that Jack still has not fully recovered from.

In the 2007 Season, the Mets were able to fight off challengers despite Pedro Martinez and Moises Alou missing most of the season and looked like they would be in the playoffs until the very last day of the season when they were eliminated by their rivals, the Phillies. It was a devastating blow they still not have recovered from.

At CTU where Bauer works, everybody always is suspicious. There are moles like Nina Myers and Marianne Taylor that reveal government secrets to the enemy making Jack's job more difficult.

With the Mets, everyone is suspicious. There are organizational leaks revealing information to the press that makes every Manager's job more difficult.

Jack Bauer frequently screams "Damn it" when a key witness dies before revealing a key clue.

Mets fans frequently have had to scream "Damn it" when Billy Wagner blows a save during a key game.

On 24, there is often someone in the White House working against the President. President Palmer's right hand man Mike Novick betrayed him in Season 2 and had him removed from office.

With the Mets, Omar Minaya's right hand man Tony Bernazard might have been working against him. Although Minaya seems to have preferred keeping Willie around, many think Bernazard was responsible for the leaks that left Minaya with little choice but to fire Willie Randolph.

On 24, they have twice tortured a CTU agent they thought was conspiring against them only to find out they had the wrong guy.

The press started to skewer Jerry Manuel for being spotted speaking with Tony Bernazard just prior to his being named Randolph's replacements. Later reports leave a little more doubt that this was anything sinister.

On 24, Season 5 reveals the ultimate villain was the President of the United States.

The more Mets fans learn about the insider workings of the Mets, the more it seems as though Owner Jeff Wilpon is the man responsible for the issues that plague the Mets.

Maybe Jack Bauer should be GM of the Mets.

Friday, June 20, 2008

New Hire Intriguing

The Mets hired Wayne Krivsky today as a scout. While the monkeys are more skeptical than most that Omar's job is in jeopardy, it is worth noting the possibility that his replacement might just be the Mets' newest scout. Krivsky was fired 21 games into the season and that firing received some criticism.

Although struggling currently, the Reds look like a team that has a bright future. Krivsky had a mixed record as a GM. He made a great deal getting Bronson Arroyo for Willie Mo Pena. He acquired Brandon Phillips for a player to be named later.

The most controversial trade of Krivsky's tenure was the deal that sent outfielder Austin Kearns, shortstop Felipe López, and minor league right-hander Ryan Wagner to the Washington Nationals for right-hander Gary Majewski, left-hander Bill Bray, veteran shortstop Royce Clayton and minor-leaguers Brendan Harris and Daryl Thompson, an infielder and right-handed pitcher, respectively. This one had panic written all over it as the Reds were contending at the time, but needed immediate bullpen help. Some sources in the organization claimed Krivsky never listened to advice. Of course, the monkeys wish that Jim Duquette had that flaw as well.

He also traded Josh Hamilton from the Reds to the Rangers for pitchers Edinson Volquez and Danny Herrera. This was a deal that is working for both sides as Hamilton is an MVP candidate and Volquez is a Cy Young candidate. Good to see Krivsky has the stomach for big deals. Even better to see he values pitching over hitting.

Again, the monkeys don't think Omar is in trouble just yet, but an interesting hire today nonetheless.


The Mets wisely this time are not making Ryan Church fly to Colorado for this series even though he is eligble to come off the DL on Saturday. The Mets were widely criticized for putting Church on a plane to Denver so soon after his concussion when he should obviously not have gone to Colorado. Many have noted that putting Willie on the plane was only the second dumbest move the front office made regarding the passenger lists this season.


Wilmer Flores, the monkeys' favorite 16 year old phenom, went 1 for 5 yesterday for Kingsport dropping his average to .467.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Timing Just A Bit Off

If Willie Randolph had managed yesterday, what do you think would have happened? Let's review yesterday's game a bit.

After Jose Reyes pulled up to first base a little limp and was removed from the game, he ignored his manager and flung his helmet into the dugout. Carlos Delgado made another error and chased after the ball in his typical lazy manner. Damion Easley committed a mental error by not covering second base on a pickoff play. The Mets showed little passion in trying to mount a comeback.

People would have been screaming for Willie's head. That now sympathetic figure would be getting crucified. The only complaint about Willie having to fly to California would have been that the plane didn't continue on to Alaska. Nobody would have blamed the Wilpons for firing him. So many things are a matter of timing.


The monkeys had endorsed Ken Oberkfell as their managerial choice a few weeks back when the Willie Watch started (see May's column "The Clock is Ticking on Willie"). Ownership and Minaya felt they wanted someone who had witnessed the team firsthand to take over so Manuel got the nod. Some bloggers and columinst have mistakenly painted Oberkfell as more fiery than he actually has been in his managing career. Oberkfell, however has been able to get the most out of his players and has been very strong in communicating with them. Oberkfell will be strongly considered for 2009 if Manuel is unable to turn things around. The monkeys are a little surprised though that Oberkfell didn't get the bench coach position.


This guy will be worth watching. One of the international signees that the Mets have added in the past few years, Flores was already on many top 15 prospect lists before even playing a professional game. In his debut for Kingsport in the rookie league, Flores went 3 for 5 with a homerun ... and he's 16 years old. Too bad we couldn't fast forward his career. He sounds like he could be the young righty replacement for Eight Belles the monkeys have been seeking.


In case you missed it yesterday, good interview with Jayson Stark from ESPN regarding the firing.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Just Sell, Baby!

The inevitable finally happened as the Mets fired Willie Randolph along with the Jacket and Tom Nieto. The way this went down though pretty much clinches what the monkeys have thought for some time. The ownership, particularly Jeff Wilpon (referred to as Paris Wilpon in some circles) is the cause of many of the Mets problems.

Before we get into that, we need to address the faux outrage some fans have about how this was handled. If you are one of those fans that continuously screamed that Willie had to go, calm down. Many of you were so anxious to dump Willie that if the Mets dropped him out of the plane during the flight to California, you would have been happy.

The monkeys' stance in earlier blogs was an acknowledgement that this was not all Willie's fault, but he did have to bear some responsibility and a change would probably do the team good. Not as good as acquiring a younger version of Eight Belles (Newbies to the blog should note that means Moises Alou). But we do take some offense to how this handled because it indicates a greater issue with how the organization is run.

By all accounts, Omar Minaya was a staunch supporter of Randolph. Is part of that support that Willie served as a target that shielded Minaya from blame at times? Perhaps that had something to do with it, but probably not everything to do with it. However, once the "organizational leaks" started flowing that the Mets were planning to fire Willie, the distractions were becoming too great to allow this to go on any longer. It is well known that Jeff Wilpon wanted to fire Willie after last year's collapse so he must be a prime suspect in these leaks. The other name that has been mentioned is Tony Bernazard who had an acrimonious relationship with Randolph. The only thing is these leaks have been going on since before Bernazard joined the organization. Someone leaked Rick Petersen's comment on the Kazmir conference call that he could "fix Victor Zambrano in 10 minutes." And that someone is probably the guy who was pushing for the trade. The guy who always pushes for the quick fix and panics ... Jeff Wilpon.

The monkeys question those who criticize Omar for drying up the farm system. The system was dry when he got here. His mandate was to make the fans forget the Kazmir debacle and put a winning team that could garner ratings for the new SNY Network ASAP. How was he to do that other than to sign free agents which cost the Mets the draft picks they needed to improve a barren farm system. Handcuffed by ownership to stay within MLB's slot guidelines, his only hope was to spend on the international draft which produces players 17 or 18 years old. The returns on those players are still unknown. Can you take Omar to task for not hedging his bets and getting better substitutes for an aging Delgado or Eight Belles? Yes, that is valid.

Jeff Wilpon's antics led to embarrassing timing of the firing. You can ask why Willie and his coaches had to fly cross-country when it seems ownership had made up its mind. The better question is why Jeff Wilpon undermines the authority of the people he hires? If he is going to interfere, it doesn't matter who the GM or the Manager is anyway. Now that the distractions are over, many fans want to yell to the Mets "Just Win, Baby." The monkeys want to shout to Jeff, "Just sell, baby!"

Monday, June 16, 2008

Some Only Have 10 Minutes

Andy Warhol said everybody gets their 15 minutes of fame. Of course, as Rick Petersen has proven, some only have 10 minutes. And his 10 minutes were famous for what he failed to accomplish ... namely fixing Victor Zambrano. As we all know, Petersen felt that Scott Kazmir needed a few more years to have enough innings under his belt to help in the majors. He also felt that Kazmir was likely to break down. And he felt that he could "fix" Victor Zambrano in 10 minutes thus giving management the confidence they needed to make one of the most moronic deals in recent years.

We all know how this turned out. Kazmir was in fact ready to contribute and eventually thrive in the majors and Zambrano was the one who broke down after 2 starts. As the axe seems likely to fall soon on Mr. Petersen, this will still be his legacy unfair as it might be.

Petersen has accomplished a lot throughout his career. He worked with Oakland pitchers Tim Hudson, Barry Zito and Mark Mulder to develop them into one of the best trios in the past decade. Only Hudson has been able to maintain his peak performance (a favorite Petersen phrase) without the Jacket's guidance.

For the Mets, Rick convinced Glavine to start pitching inside and make adjustments that veterans need to make. This is no easy task. He turned around the careers of John Maine, Oliver Perez and Aaron Heilman, although the latter two have regressed this season.

Petersen though does beat to a slightly different drum. The monkeys saw him at the pool reading "Real Simple," an odd choice for a baseball lifer, but one that is consistent with his quirky nature. He compares Pelfrey throwing a slider instead of a curveball to having jelly rather than ketchup with peanut butter. Some pitchers swear by him and some roll their eyes.

Since the Mets starting pitching has actually been getting better, we wonder if the Jacket should really be the one to take the fall here. Are the bullpen failures his fault? Perhaps and if so, maybe a change is needed.

But if ownership think that changing pitching coaches is going to turn it all around, they are wrong. The Mets need to shake up the roster a bit. And management seems to be missing this ... even though it's real simple.


Yes, the monkeys were bashing the Robinson Cancel move so we'll tip our caps to him for getting the big hit yesterday.


With Eight Belles still recovering from his calf injury, Trot Nixon showed himself to be a smart hitter at the plate working the count and getting on base 4 times. Welcome aboard.


While we are in Anaheim, the monkeys want to take a moment to pay homage to a great monkey that paved the way for monkeys like us to be prevalent in ballparks around the country. The rally monkey is widely credited with helping the Angels win the 2002World Series. You are a true pioneer.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mets Should Consider Unloading Wags At Deadline

Monkeys are not animals that traditionally overreact. The fact is we realize that of all the Mets issues, Billy Wagner's slump is the one that is most likely an aberration that will be fixed pretty quickly. The fact that we are suggesting this idea has little to do with this past week other than the fact that it made winning the division seem a little less likely. And the monkeys are not among those that feel we should give up on the season since we see a very vulnerable Cardinals team occupying the wildcard spot even if the Fighting Phils continue to roll. No, the monkeys have other reasons for considering trading Billy Wagner.

Reason #1: The general history of the trading deadline is that no position is more overvalued at that time than a relief pitcher, particularly a closer.

Reason #2: Everyone agrees the Mets need to get younger players. Nick Evans and Fernando Martinez are not quite ready yet. Mike Carp is probably closer, but he is only one player. Since there is no fountain of youth, how is that going to happen? The free agent market usually contains mostly players 30 and over. The good ones that are younger like Teixiera and Sabathia will command a king's ransom. Someone needs to get traded to add more.

Reason #3: As Billy Beane said in "Moneyball," you can always find another closer. In fact, the Mets already have been talking to Colorado about Brian Fuentes. Hopefully, Eddie Kunz will cut down on his walks and become a viable option within a year. How hard is it to replace 13 out of 18 saves anyway?

Reason #4: You have to start taking some chances the other way. The Mets have taken some chances trading youth for vets. Time to roll the dice the other way.

Reason #5: The Golden Rule that the Mets never follow and the Red Sox always follow ... Better to trade a guy a year too soon than a year too late.

The monkeys are eyeing Tampa and seeing if Troy Percival breaks down. They would be a prime candidate for a trade partner if that was to happen.


Luis Alen, a 23 year old catcher the Mets pulled from the independent league, made his AAA debut going 3-5 with a double and a homer. We'll be watching him carefully after seeing so many catching retreads pass through Cajun Country.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Who Are We Rooting For?


For years, the first score the monkeys would check after the Mets was the Braves. The last two years, it has become the Phillies. And of course, every win by the Phils upsets the monkeys. Yesterday, we weren't quite as sure. Looking at the 20-2 beating the Phils gave the Cards made us wonder how the Mets would catch the red-hot Phils. And the notes column that said Chris Carpenter, who was expected to provide the Cards with a late season boost had a major setback in his rehab, had us thinking the Cards and their wildcard spot are much more vulnerable. Their pythagorean record is 37-32 so they are overachieving and Pujols is now hurt. We're not ready to completely concede the division to the Phils just yet, but in this series who are we really rooting for?


Yesterday, the Mets gave the monkeys a day off from stressing through a game. They had a well-pitched game from Oliver Perez, had some timely hitting by Carlos Beltran, added insurance runs and Schoenweiss & Sanchez provided almost flawless relief. Of course, as happy as we were, Willie Randolph was probably happier. The rumors were flowing that he might be fired if they lost yesterday's game. If that was true, it is crazy that the Mets are allowing him to twist in the wind like that. If they are that close to firing him, just get it over with and let's move on.


After the game, the Mets announced they had acquired Trot Nixon for cash and a player to be named later. Nixon is a gritty player who knows how to get on base. The way the team is constructed right now, he will probably need to play more than he should, but he is better than some of the Mets current options. Let's just hope the Mets have the good sense to demote Robinson Cancel who was just a ridiculous callup at this juncture.


The Mets announced they had signed two of their top three draft picks, Reese Havens and Pitcher Bradley Holt and that both would start at Brooklyn. Both were on BA's post-draft top 10 prospect list. Let's get Ike Davis signed and start these hopefully promising pro careers.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wasting The Most Precious Resource

As is the case with most fans, the monkeys have been disgusted with the last few days. Sure it is annoying to watch when David Wright cannot get in a runner from third with less than two outs to add a much needed insurance run. It is frustrating when it appears he is going to atone for that in the ninth inning and is robbed by a great defensive play. But nothing is worse then what the Mets have been doing the last week wasting the most precious resource of all ... great starting pitching.

Johan Santana followed up an effort where he pitched 7 innings allowing two runs with 7 shutout innings and received a loss and a no-decision. Mike Pelfrey pitched 8 shutout innings to follow a 7 inning, 2 run performance and received two no decisions. Sure the Mets came back to win both, but Pelfrey is a guy who at times has confidence issues and his undeserved 2-6 record won't help with that. The guy has pitched 12 times and allowed 2 run or less in 7 of those starts. John Maine and Pedro Martinez each left the games with a lead their last starts.

With Moises Alou and Ryan Church out, the Mets are offensively challenged. The only thing that is going to save this season is the quality of the Mets starters. Watching the Mets make dumb play after dumb play this year, you don't have to worry about their mind, but good starting pitching is a terrible thing to waste.


The Mets are considering not putting Alou on the DL with the thought that he might be able to DH against the Angels next week. Alou has not been optimistic regarding his calf and this would leave them shorthanded this weekend. The Mets have made this mistake over and over again. Just put him on the DL and call up Val Pascucci or Mike Carp. The Mets should be considering euthanizing Alou not DHing him.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Prospect List Yields Crystal Ball

To those who missed it, Baseball America put together their post draft Top 10 Mets prospects assuming they sign all their draft choices:

1. Fernando Martinez, of
Still young and talented, but his lack of production may mean he's overhyped.
2. Ike Davis, 1b
Hulking lefthanded slugger can handle the outfield and pitch, too.
3. Reese Havens, ss
More likely a third baseman or possibly a catcher, stands out with approach and pop.
4. Jon Niese, lhp
Quietly having success in Double-A at age 21, he owns three solid pitches.
5. Dan Murphy, 3b
Having a breakout year with a .325 average and eight homers in Double-A.
6. Mike Carp, 1b
Back on track in Double-A after slumping in 2007, he's hitting .351 with nine homers.
7. Eddie Kunz, rhp
New York's top 2007 pick has held his own in Double-A in his first full season.
8. Brad Holt, rhp
2008 supplemental first-rounder can touch 96 mph, needs a reliable second pitch
9. Javier Rodriguez, of
2008 second-rounder is a lean athlete with speed and projectable power.
10. Nick Evans, 1b
Another Double-A masher (.295, nine homers), he destroys lefthanded pitching.

Four of those prospects (#2, #3, #8 and #9) were just drafted. Nathan Vineyard (injured), Bobby Parnell (awful April, but better since), Brant Rustich (just finding his way after being injured earlier this season) and Scott Moviel (Similar to Parnell with a bad start, but improving lately) are the ones that have been dropped from the opening day list.

So, what does this list tell us?

1) Nises is the only starting pitching prospect that might play a role in 2009. And since he is only at AA now, he might be better thought of as a 6th starter that can get his feet wet a bit next year and hopefully find a permanent spot in the rotation in 2010.

Meaning: Santana, Maine and Pelfrey are in the rotation in 2009 barring any health issues. Pedro feels he owes the Mets for missing so much time. If he stays healthy and pitches well, there is a good chance he will be back. Knowing his injury history, that is where easing in Niese fits in. Oliver Perez will most likely leave as a free agent. The Mets will again be shopping for a starting pitcher this offseason.

2) There is a decent chance Carlos Delgado's replacement is in-house. Mike Carp is tearing up AA and Ike Davis is a solid draft pick with some thump. Nick Evans, though rushed, has mashed lefties at all minor league levels. Even Dan Murphy may find himself in the mix.

3) Javier Rodriguez may be the top right-handed hitting prospect in the organization ... and he's 18.

Meaning: The right-handed balance that "special guest star" Moises Alou provides will need to be replaced by someone outside the organization.

4) Eddie Kunz will get a shot to be part of the bullpen next year. Add him to Duaner Sanchez, Joe Smith and the Mets might not need to spend too much time addressing the bullpen in the offseason.

Meaning: Aaron Heilman could be getting a needed change of scenery, but the Mets would be wise to wait until he rebuilds his value a bit.

Reyes, Castillo, Wright, Beltran,Church, Mr. X, Carp, Schneider might be your lineup next year. Finding the right Mr. X might be the key to the offseason.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Next Paul ONeill Has Become The Next Wayne Chrebet

The monkeys were among those complaining the loudest about the Lastings Milledge trade. We were upset to give up a player with such potential and bat speed you couldn't teach for a light hitting defensive catcher a platoon outfielder. The first two months of the year, Church made believers out of the monkeys. He was the Mets best player hitting 9 homers, driving in 32 runs and hitting .311 prior to his latest injury. What's more he added toughness and hard-nosed play to a group that was severely lacking in those categories. The initially ridiculous notion that he could be our Paul Oneill started to seem not so ridiculous. A player that would actually blossom when finally given the chance to play full-time on the game's biggest stage.

Church was injured May 20 at Atlanta. He was accidentally kneed in the head by Atlanta Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar while trying to break up a game-ending double play. The Mets mismanaged the injury putting him on a plane to Colorado where the altitude made things worse for Church. In retrospect, it is quite clear he belonged on a flight to NY to be further examined. The Mets record with medical diagnosis the last few years would rival the Kansas City Royals' record with baseball games the last few years.

The Mets used him as a pinch hitter a few times before shutting him down for a bit. After returning from the injury he went just 2-for-11 with six strikeouts and went 0-for-4 and fanned three times when he last started Thursday night in San Diego. The Mets then shut him down the rest of the weekend. As they lost 3 one-run games in a row, it is certainly reasonable to think a healthy Church would have made an impact that might have helped win at least one of those games.

The Mets finally put him on the DL nearly a month later than they should have. Since it is Church's second concussion, there is room for mild concern. Most likely, rest will do him good and all will be fine. But NY fans remember how concussions finally took out the tough and hard-nosed receiver Wayne Chrebet. The monkeys will be praying for Church.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

This Closer Not A Stopper

The Mets today had their toughest loss of the season. They had leads of 3-0, 5-3 and 6-4 and they gave them all up to the worst offensive team in the National League. After they had three straight well-pitched games where they only allowed 2 runs only to be betrayed by their offense, the Mets had an offensive outburst only to be betrayed by their pitching.

Now Billy Wagner is not anywhere near the Mets biggest problem. All in all, he has had a very solid season with 13 out of 16 saves and a 1.01 ERA. And although there is no real good time to blow a save, the timing of his blown saves do seem particularly bad. The Mets had lost three games in the standings to the Phillies in the last three days and were in position to stop the bleeding today before Wagner let up a 3-run blast to Tony Clark. A few weeks back the Mets had lost 4 straight games to the Braves and were sinking into the abyss when Wagner was called on to get a save against the Rockies and he let up a game-tying homerun in a game the Mets eventually lost in extra innings.

Last year, when the Mets had lost the first three in a series to the Phillies and needed a two-inning save to right the ship, Wagner failed them. Had he saved that game, the Mets would have won the division and the hangover and tag as "chokers" would not be on them. Now that be a little unfair by the monkeys. Certainly someone like Guillermo Mota would be more to blame for last year's collapse than Wagner, but more is expected from Wagner.

Before coming to the Mets, Wagner blew two key games for the Phillies against the team that eventually edged them out for the Wildcard ...the Astros. Having come so close to the playoffs had the Phillies fired up in 2007. You know the way teams are supossed to be fired up the year after they just miss the playoffs they expected to make the year before.

Perhaps the monkeys and other Mets fans have been spoiled by the guy in the Bronx. Mariano Rivera has set an impossible standard for closers. He has blown a few big ones (Sandy Alomar Jr's homer in 1997, Luis Gonzalez' walkoff hit in the 2001 World Series, a couple of blown saves to the Sox in the 2004 playoffs), but when you get as many postseason saves chances as he has had, you're bound to blow a few. And every time it happens, there is a sense of surprise, if not shock that doesn't occur when Wagner lets up a late inning homer.

Billy Wagner overall has been a great closer, but when it comes to Mets losing streaks, he hasn't been a great stopper. The Phillies fans learned this a few years back and now they are glad he listens when they sing this to him while he is on the Mets:

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Surprising Stat

By all indications, the best stat to prove the worth of a player is OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage). The monkeys read the newspapers and the blogs and know that there is a lot of Luis Castillo bashing and until recently, plenty of Jose Reyes bashing. The Yankees for the most part are not nearly as scruntinized. Let's look at the OPS of the middle inielders in this town:

Jose Reyes .848
Derek Jeter .724
Luis Castillo .711
Robinson Cano .609

Now a few weeks ago when the various local newspapers did their yearly position matchup questions, the typical shortstop column contained a sarcastic "remember when people actually thought Jose Reyes was the best shortstop in NY." Well, time to revisit those snide comments.

No one is suggesting that we'd rather have Luis Castillo than Robinson Cano, but for all the bashing he is taking, Castillo has been more productive. He has THE SAME NUMBER of homers as Jeter and only one less than Cano. He has one less RBI than Cano ... and he frequently needs to sit out for his ailing knees. It just goes to show the local press is tougher on the Mets than the Yankees.


If the point of having three catchers is to allow Ramon Castro, a good hitter, a chance to pinch hit without getting caught without a catcher if Brian Schneider gets hurt, why did Willie use Robinson Cancel instead at a pivotal point in the game last night? Cancel had not had a major league AB since 1999. Mystifying.


If you're in SD watching the Mets, this is one of the monkeys' favorite restaurants.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Bench Needs Tweaking

The monkeys found themselves checking the status of Jose Valentin today. Just in case you were wondering, he's back at AAA after his comeback was slowed by shoulder tendinitis. He's starting tonight as the DH and batting third. Now Valentin knows how to play the game and is by all accounts a great influence on Reyes and the other younger players, but really how much can he really have left? Yes, he was a godsend in 2006 until his inability to drive in a run from third base with less than two outs slowed down the momentum the Mets had after Endy's catch in Game 7 of the NLCS. Last year, he was barely a blip and mostly ineffective. So the fact that we were checking must mean the Mets bench is in need of some reinforcements.

It got the monkeys thinking: What makes an ideal bench? Well if you have an offensive catcher, you'd like a good defensive backup. But, the Mets have a defensive catcher so you'd like an offensive catcher. Well, Ramon Castro fits the bill so we are okay there. We were even okay when Castro was injured because for the most part, Raul Casanova fit the bill.

For backup outfielders, you'd like a defensive specialist and a power hitter off the bench that could jack one. Endy Chavez was perfect in that role in 2006, pretty good in 2007 before he pulled his hamstring, but hasn't quite got it going this year. He still is a gem in the outfield and he got the biggest hit of the year to date with a game tying homer in the 9th, but he is hitting under .200. For a while, he had the excuse that Angel Pagan had cut into his playing time, but Endy has been getting his share of AB's lately. He needs to pick it up, but he has earned the right for the Mets to give him time to right the ship. You can argue that Fernando Tatis fills the power role, but he is miscast as an outfielder as has been more and more apparent the more often that he plays. So a power hitting outfielder should be on the agenda. Perhaps in-house options Valentino Pascucci (11 homers, 27 RBI, .409 OBP) or Chris Aguila (15 homers, 31 RBI, .297) deserve a shot before the Mets make trade.

For backup infielders, a team would like a good defensive hard nosed player who can fill in at second and short and a backup corner infielder with some pop. If he hits righty and you have a fading left-handed hitting first basemen, all the better. This is actually where Tatis is a better fit. Might the Mets eventually need an upgrade here? Perhaps, but Tatis has had enough big hits and added needed energy to give him a shot first. Damion Easley is a nice player who knows his role. However, he was nicer last year when he hit 10 homers. This year he has hit only one. And why is he batting fifth so often lately? 1 homer and an appaling .265 OBP simply do not warrant that position in the batting order. The monkeys like Easley and feel a bit guilty saying this, but this is another spot that needs to be upgraded.

A few tweaks that should be easy to make, but could make all the difference in the world.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Draft Day

Breaking News: The monkeys think the MLB draft is pretty fun to watch. What is so surprising is that this is only the second year that this has been televised. Why has it taken so long? Is it because most people didn't know many of the players being drafted like they do in basketball where people become familiar with many college players while participating in their March Madness Pools? Or football where College Football has almost as many fantatical fans as the NFL? Perhaps, but now thanks to ESPN's coverage of the College World Series, internet sites detailing the prospects and books like Moneyball that brought us into the draft war room, the excitement level of the baseball draft has risen.

The Mets had 2 first round picks and one compensation pick that gave them 3 of the top 33 picks. The monkeys had written about 6 players that had been linked to the Mets a few days back. Knowing the Mets were looking to draft position players that wouldn't take long to get to the majors, it was upsetting watching so many come off the board quickly. After Buster Posey and Kyle Skipworth, the 2 top catchers in the draft, went in the top 6, it didn't look like the Mets were going to get Jason Castro who was linked so much to the Mets by draft prognosticators that it almost feels like he was snatched from the organization like Jesus Flores was by the Nationals.

The Mets were able to grab one of the 6 players the monkeys had projected in Ike Davis. As we had previously mentioned, Davis can play first or left field. He has a sweet swing and a high power ceiling. The ESPN commentators projected him to hit 25-30 homers in the majors. Davis will join Mike Carp, Nick Evans, Fernando Martinez and Dan Murphy as contenders to replace Carlos Delgado and Moises Alou and become mainstays at Citi Field.

With the 22nd pick, the Mets selected Reese Havens. Here are some terms associated with Havens that may be unfamiliar to some Mets fans: Durable. Great makeup. Savvy. A "baseball player who makes those around him better. He is not very fast, but is a smart baserunner. His range is average. He is projected to hit between 10-15 homers. The monkeys would hope that he would move from shortstop to second base as he climbs the ladder. He does sound like the type of player you would like to play next to Jose Reyes along with David Wright. Does Anthony Hewitt who the monkeys mentioned two days ago and was selected by the Phils have a higher ceiling? Yep, but he is riskier and the monkeys like that the Mets are considering character and "baseball smarts." After watching the team this year, that is refreshing.

The Mets made a surprising pick with the 33rd pick in the draft. Brad Holt, who was listed as the 98th top prospect in BA (though ESPN had him much higher at 58th), throws a fastball between 92-94 that touches 96 MPH. He has good command and life on that pitch. The problem is his secondary pitches are not nearly as advanced. Never hurts to have power pitchers in the system, but no way of telling how this pick will pan out at this point.

Lots more picks coming up that won't be televised, but it was to see the Mets having multiple high picks for a change. The monkeys hope for a great career for Ike Davis and that we'll soon be singing .....

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Pitching For A Winning Streak

John Maine 6 innings, 1 earned run
Pedro Martinez 6 innings, 3 earned runs
Johan Santana, 7.2 innings, 1 earned run
Mike Pelfrey, 7 innings, 2 earned runs
Oliver Perez 1/3 inning, 6 earned runs ... Whoops.

The last turn through the Mets rotation was very impressive with the exception of a horrible outing by Oliver Perez. Still with Pedro back, the Mets look like a team capable of putting together long winning streaks for the first time this season since the opening week of the season.

The Mets probably don't have the hitting to compete with the fighting Phils so they are going to have to win the division with pitching. And that means Oliver Perez is going to need to pick it up. Perez won 15 games last year and was quietly one of the 10 best pitchers in the NL. He was much more consistent last year than people give him credit for. This year though he has earned the reputation he has been tagged with.

Perez does like the big stage. His ERA in two starts vs. the first place Phillies is 0.00. Against the Yanks, always a big stage, he pitched 7.2 innings and allowed just 2 runs. Unfortunately, his stats against lesser teams are horrible. Against Pittsburgh, his ERA is 10.80. Against the Giants it is 162.00. We know monkeys that can't even count that high.

What is the problem with Perez? Did the Mets wait too long to quarantine Carlos Delgado who carried the disease of "we're so good, we're bored?" The Mets need to figure that out in a hurry because more and more, Perez looks like the key to the season. Is it any wonder why fans don't know whether to be optimistic or not?


May : 5 HR, 15 RBI, .310 BA .379 OBP
June: 1 HR, 4 RBI, .319 BA, .350 OBP

Move on, folks. Nothing to see here. Except a few defensive flubs, Jose Reyes is back.


John Maine now 37-19 as a Met. He has the highest winning percentage of any starter with over 50 decisions in Mets history. How crazy is that? No matter what Omar has done since, this trade will always be a part of his legacy. And what did he give up?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Future Mets?

The monkeys can't claim to have intimate knowledge of Omar Minaya and his team's draft strategy. The truth is neither does Baseball America, ESPN or However, there are a few names that have popped up frequently on these and other mock drafts. Here are a few of them:

Jason Castro, Catcher (Stanford): Castro has shown he can hit for average and power. This summer he hit .341 in the Cape Cod League. Scouting reports say that he has better speed than most catchers. He is improving defensively though his arm strength is average. Baseball America ranks him as the third best catcher in the draft behind possible top pick Buster Posey and Kyle Skipworth.

Ike Davis, 1B/OF -- The son of former Yankee setup man, Ron Davis, has excellent raw power and a strong arm. His speed though is only average. BA ranks him as the third best power hitter in college behind only Pedro Alvarez, another possible option for top pick and Justin Smoak. Reports that he is sometimes low energy are a slight red flag since the monkeys have seen enough of this type of player.

Andrew Cashner, Pitcher -- Omar Minaya likes to draft relievers that are close to helping the big league team. The monkeys would have thought that Omar filled his quota last year with Eddie Kunz, the Mets AA closer and Brant Rustich (Low A Ball). Still Cashner throws a consistent 96-98 MPH fastball which BA ranks as the third best in college. His command is sometimes a concern.

Ethan Martin, Pitcher/3B --- One of a few projected first round picks that will force a team to make a decision whether to develop the player as a hitter or a pitcher. Martin throws a fastball in the mid-90's (BA ranks him second for high school prospects) and an above average curveball. He is also a plus defender with raw power. Big, strong and projectable.

David Cooper, 1B -- One of many quality first basemen in the draft. Cooper has strong forearms and great hand-eye coordination, but questionable bat speed. He is a patient hitter, but defense and speed are slightly below par.

Anthony Hewitt, SS -- Listed as best athlete in HS by BA, they also call him the classic high risk/high reward pick. The Mets have picked toolsy guys like him in the past. His pitch recognition still needs work. Many scouts feel he'll move to center. And he may be tough to sign since he has committed to Vanderbilt.

Now that ESPN2 covers the draft and the Mets actually have some good picks, the monkeys are very excited about this Thursday. The rebuilding of this slightly barren farm system is about to begin.

Of course, no draft was ever as exciting as in 1980 when the Mets had first pick and selected:

Monday, June 2, 2008

No Need To Draft By Need If You Need Everything

The first part of the Mets rebuilding effort begins this Thursday. The Mets have 5 of the top 100 picks in this year's MLB Amateur Draft including picks 18, 22 and 33. The extra picks are courtesy of Tom Glavine signing with the Braves. For a team that has given up draft picks by signing free agents the last several years, this is an opportunity they cannot afford to waste.

Much has been made about the Mets adhering to slot recommendations that the commissioner puts out. Other teams such as the Yankees, Red Sox and the Tigers have ignored the slot recommendations and successfully restocked their farm systems. The fact is the Mets have had so few high-level picks they haven't been able to fully take advantage of their financial advantages even if they wanted to. Sure they could have signed Pedro Beato a couple of years back, but he hasn't been a great loss as of yet. And the Mets did swoop in and take Mike Pelfrey and Scott Kazmir when they dropped because of signability issues. Despite and Baseball America's claims, Minaya has been coy about whether the Mets will abide by the slot rules this year.

The greatest mistake teams make with the draft is to make their picks based on need. The Rays may be about to do that by taking catcher Buster Posey instead of Pedro Alvarez or Tim Beckham. The Mets shouldn't need to worry too much about that because their farm system needs everything. Of course since their strength or perceived strength is in the lower minors, the Mets may lean toward taking college players who are closer to helping. Again, that would be a mistake if they were not the best available player in the draft.

In the coming days, the monkeys will look at some of the players that have been linked to the Mets. It is possible next year the Mets will have a bounty of picks since they may lose either Pedro Martinez or Oliver Perez to free agency and they will almost certainly offer each arbitration. The future starts Thursday... Choose wisely, Omar. And remember, you are a big market team. You can do this:


The Mets have hinted they will sit Ryan Church and Brian Schneider tonight. As hard as it will be to sit Church after his performance yesterday, this is a wise move. Church had problems after flying to Colorado. Ease him in. He has become too important to this team to take chances. Schneider should be sitting tonight even if the Mets had to play a game that was a bike ride away. Castro, if healthy, should always face lefties. And while Willie's at it, is there any reason to play Delgado two games against lefties after a long flight like that?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

The monkeys have tried to move on. We've heard that time heals all wounds. We know that "That without remedy shall be without regard." Still, the sting of the Scott Kazmir trades still is as painful as ever. In fact, it is getting worse.

Scott Kazmir pitched 7 shutout innings yesterday for the resurgent Tampa Bay Rays. He has started the season 5-1 with a 1.22 ERA. He is 24 years old and is getting better and better. His prime years are still ahead of him. And although the monkeys defend Johan Santana against those fans who complain he is a disappointment, it's hard to deny that he may have already had his very best years.

Now when the Rays were in last place and barely a blip on any one's radar, it was easy to ignore Kazmir. Until last season, he had only won at most 10 games a season and hey, Victor Zambrano had even done that. He was averaging 6 innings or less per start in most of his outings. In 2006, he had to be shut down due to injury. In 2007, he started 5-6 with a 4.41 ERA. Maybe he just wasn't durable enough to be an ace. Maybe Rick Peterson was right after all. Then he finished 2007 going 8-3 with a 2.39 ERA. He had some elbow issues this spring, but has returned better than ever.

The problem now is the Rays are good. They have locked up several players with some very smart contracts. They even extended Kazmir delaying any fantasy the monkeys or any Mets fan had that the Mets would right this terrible wrong the moment Kazmir hit free agency.

Until the Mets collapse last year, nothing defined the problems with this organization like the Kazmir trade. The monkeys read the rumor the day before it happened thinking no one could be this incredibly stupid as to deal the top lefty pitching prospect that threw 97 MPH with a plus slider. And almost as soon as it happened, nearly everyone associated with it distanced themselves from the decision.

Look up "Ain't No Sucker Like Jim Duquette" on Yahoo and you'll find an article that appeared on several online betting sites right after the trade that shows how Jim Duquette broke every rule of gambling when he made that trade (Of course the Michael Vick and Alay Soler references now seem a bit ironic and dated).

The monkeys will be focused on tonight's game on ESPN with Johan Santana, our ace, on the mound. But every five days, a little wind is taken out of our sails.