Posted on: September 27, 2008 5:19 pm

Scoreboard-watching with the Mets

The Brewers-Cubs game was playing on one television in the Mets clubhouse after this afternoon's 2-0 win over the Marlins, but only a few players stopped to watch. The Phillies-Nationals game was on a TV just outside the clubhouse, but only a security guard was watching.

And on the board that told the Mets what time to report for Sunday's game against the Marlins, there was also a reminder to pack for a one-day trip to Philadelphia, should the Phillies lose that game to Washington.

As of 5 p.m., as the Mets players and coaches were heading home, there was still a chance of a one-game playoff with the Phils, which would be Monday at Citizens Bank Park. There was still a chance of a one-game playoff with the Brewers, which would be Monday at Shea Stadium. And there was still a chance, of course, that the Mets' season would end with Sunday's game against the Marlins.

So many possibilities.

"We've taken care of what we could do today," David Wright said.

Yes, they had. For the second straight season, the Mets are alive right to their final scheduled game.

It didn't go well a year ago. Now they have another chance.


There's a feeling in New York that the Marlins hate the Mets, and that it would make the Marlins' season if they keep the Mets out of the playoffs.

"That's not true at all," Marlins center fielder Cody Ross said today. "Any one of us in here would trade places with them in a heartbeat. The only thing for us is that if we don't make it (to the playoffs), we don't want anyone else to. That would be true if we were playing the Phillies, the Cubs, anyone. It's nothing personal (against the Mets). That wouldn't make our season."


Posted on: September 8, 2008 7:35 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2008 7:35 pm

Stunning news on Wagner, but Mets can survive

I'll admit, I thought the Mets were done if Billy Wagner didn't return. I thought it, I wrote it, and I heard several scouts that I trust say the same thing.

Now we find out that Wagner isn't returning, not this year and not next year, either. And I'm here to tell you the Mets can still win. No, I'm here to tell you the Mets should still win.

(By win, I mean win the division, not win in October. I'm not that nuts).

Here's why:

1. They're winning without him already. Wagner hasn't pitched in a game since Aug. 2. The Mets were 58-52 then, and they were in third place (and they lost the last time he appeared). Since then, the Mets have gone 22-11 and have moved into first place. Not only that, but the Mets bullpen had a 4.21 ERA when Wagner went down. They have a 3.31 ERA since.

2. Carlos Delgado. You can argue about whether Delgado deserves to win the National League's most valuable player award for what amounts to a half-season of excellence. What's certain is that Delgado is playing like an MVP right now. As teammate Damion Easley said, the Mets can jump on Delgado's back and ride him to the playoffs.

3. Johan Santana. Manager Jerry Manuel exaggerated when he said that the Mets are "able to send a good starting pitcher to the mound every day." But the Mets are able to send a great starting pitcher to the mound every fifth day. And some of those days, Santana will pitch so well and for so long that he won't even need a closer.

4. If not quality, then quantity. The Mets are carrying 18 pitchers on their September roster, and on some nights Manuel seems determined to use every one of them. The point is, Manuel can match up as much as he wants. He could even do it in the ninth inning, although for now Luis Ayala is doing a respectable job as Wagner's fill-in.

5. The Nationals, and the Braves. The Mets host Washington and Atlanta this week. They go to Washington and Atlanta next week. Yes, the Nationals are better than they were, but they're also 32 games under .500. As for the fading Braves, they just finished losing five of seven to the Nationals. Enough said.

6. First place. True, it didn't help the Mets to have the lead last September. But you'd still rather be in first, and it's amazing how big a two-game lead can seem as the games count down. Cool Standings had the Mets as a 73 percent chance to win the division as of Monday, and Baseball Prospectus had it even higher, at 77 percent.

So there you have it. Wagner's a big loss, and the Mets now have a big new item on their offseason shopping list.

But they still can win the NL East this year. They still should win it.

Posted on: July 23, 2008 4:02 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2008 7:26 pm

Phillies focus on Grabow, Sherrill

The Phillies, who had been among the more aggressive teams pursuing Colorado closer Brian Fuentes, have shifted their attention to Pittsburgh left-hander John Grabow and Baltimore lefty George Sherrill, according to sources.

Phillies special assistant Charley Kerfeld has been in Houston watching the Pirates, and the Phillies had three different scouts in to watch the Orioles during their current homestand. While the Phillies have also shown interest in Pittsburgh outfielder Xavier Nady, a deal for Grabow is considered a much stronger possibility.

As for Fuentes, there's still some question about whether the Rockies will trade him. Even if they do, the Phillies now consider him too expensive in terms of the players they would have to give up.

The Orioles seem increasingly likely to trade Sherrill. The Baltimore Sun reported that both St. Louis and Milwaukee have shown interest, but the Angels might have a better chance to get him by offering shortstop Erick Aybar. As one scout who has followed the Orioles said: "Baltimore is dying for a shortstop, and Aybar could be a regular for them."

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail has told people that his phone has been ringing off the hook since Sherrill pitched so well in the All-Star Game last week.


One scout who has watched Seattle regularly this season said that while he doesn't really like left-hander Jarrod Washburn, he still thinks Washburn would be a decent fit with the Yankees.

"That's who he needs to pitch with, because he needs runs," the scout said. "He's another Bill Bavasi mistake. If the Mariners can get rid of Washburn, they should. If they get rid of him, that would help whoever gets that (Seattle GM) job next year."


The Mets know they have little chance of winning without closer Billy Wagner, and they also know there's no way they have enough chips to trade for someone who could successfully replace Wagner if he can't pitch. That's why they still list a corner outfielder, preferably one who bats right-handed, as their primary need, with relief help and even another starting pitcher behind that.

The Mets have talked about Nady and also Jason Bay, but it's doubtful they have enough to get either one from the Pirates. It might be more realistic to think that they could get Casey Blake from Cleveland, or Austin Kearns from Washington. Seattle's Raul Ibanez has also been discussed, even though he bats left-handed.


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