Mike Piazza Jumps Into The Literary Field

Not much Mets on field news today as we await the official opening of camp tomorrow with pitchers and catcher ready to check in, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any off field Mets news.

Mike Piazza has written a book with Lonnie Wheeler called Long Shot (Simon & Shuster) which I hope to get my hands on tomorrow. But before the book drops, there have been some excerpts of what to expect in this tome that I can guarantee won’t come close to approaching R.A. Dickey’s book in both substance and style. If the excerpts I read this morning with my bagel and coffee are any example I hope I don’t get whiplash from all the head shaking I’m anticipating while reading Long Shot. You know what? That’s really not fair, I should hold final judgment until I read the complete work but still there are some things I’ve read so far that made me take notice.

Piazza is still haunted by Roger Clemens and the night he took one Clemens fastballs off the side of his head.

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Piazza talks about taking karate lessons after the beaning with the premeditated thinking of confronting Clemens if or when he faced him again. That time came just about three months later in Game Two of the World Series when Clemens threw the barrel of a shattered bat at Piazza who did turn and walked toward Clemens but as he said:

“There were complications,” he ( Piazza) recalls. “The least of them was the realization that Clemens was a big guy, and I stood a pretty fair chance of getting my ass kicked in front of Yankee Stadium and the world. That was a legitimate concern.”

Maybe in the book Piazza goes into more detail and at least using getting tossed out a World Series game and possible suspension of another game in the series as reason for not charge at Clemens because turning tail fearing an ass kicking is mighty weak.

It seems not only was Piazza intimidated by big powerful pitchers he also got smacked around by ex-girlfriends as well:

One of his best-known girlfriends was Debbe Dunning, the actress who played the “Tool Time” girl on the hit comedy “Home Improvement.” One Halloween night when Dunning came over with a pumpkin and her dog, Piazza decided to break off the relationship.

There was screaming and crying and then the Tool Time girl waffled my ass,” he recalled. “I hadn’t taken a punch like that in a long time.”

WOW!

Piazza speaks about taking androstenedione and of course everyone’s skirts go up in the air when they hear this. This morning on WFAN, Richard Neer was all up in arms over this revelation and in his ranting over this proclamation by Piazza failed to remember (I could see him falling asleep listening to his own voice) that Andro was both legal  to use in MLB and was sold over the counter at health and nutrition  stores like GNC. This never occurred to Neer who acted like he was Bobby Goren cracking a Major Case.

Piazza also fesses up to taking amphetamines which puts him a class with over three-quarters of those enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Piazza also states that he needed to grab some Vioxx on those days when the grind of squatting behind the plate was taking its toll. Vioxx,, a powerful anti-inflammatory has since been banned in the U.S. due to the bad side effects from the drug, the most harsh being death.

The excerpt goes on about the stories of Piazza’s sexuality and his rough relationship with Latin teammates, which will be more strained after the read his quotes about “Latin’s should learn English and not be as pampered as they are by MLB teams” and the “Latin Mafia” that had it in for him. Safe to say a managerial or coaching spot in pro baseball is not in the cards for Piazza.

Again I shouldn’t pass judgment on the book until I read it, I just pray it’s better than this book which may be the worst written book of all time

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PAYBACK

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Sorry NY Highlander fans you lost your right to bitch and moan about bad umpire calls 16 years ago

So Chipper Jones will sit out todays finale at Citi Field, I guess even Jones is suffering from Chipper-Fatigue as much as we are but what is Ruben Tejada suffering from?

Tejada is sitting out again today and I’m not buying Terry Collins line of “he’s tired” either, Tejada has to be nursing some sort of injury that the Mets are not letting on.

I’m still trying to figure out the reasoning behind having Jureys Familia warm up then sit for an hour then warm-up again to come into to pitch and guess what? He had no commanded of his pitches and got behind and threw fastballs right down the middle of the plate. Who didn’t see that coming?

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Optimism, Thy Name Is Matt Harvey

Yeah, I’m excited when Big Hoss’ takes the mound!

Could it be? Four wins in a row? Hell yeah! What makes the wins even sweeter, the last two were against the Phuck Phaces with Jon Niese on the mound for the sweep, yeah that’s right THE SWEEP!!!  

Back on August 5th Matt Harvey threw a lot of breaking balls in his start against the Padres. I’ll take a wild guess that Dan Warthen ordered him to go with that many breaking balls. Harvey lasted 5 innings and gave up 5 runs in what became a 7-3 Padres win.

Something good came of that loss; Matt Harvey went back to being what he is, a power pitcher. No more following the Warthen Doctrine of nibble the corners and pitch passively. From watching the last 2-3 Harvey starts, there is nothing passive about him and it seems the message has been sent to the Mets pitching coach, leave Harvey alone. Of Harvey’s 98 pitches last night, 63 were fastballs that averaged 95 mph, that’s power pitching.

Is it a coincidence that the Mets have won 4 in a row and the bullpen has been solid? The pen has not allowed a run in its last 13.1 innings pitched, spanning over 5 games and is 7 for 7 in saves for the month of August. The Mets relievers have even improved bit in stranding inherited runners as they are up to 70 % LOB up from the mid 60 % range they have been at most of the season.

There has been lots of talk about the way Terry Collins has used Josh (Everyday) Edgin lately but the fact is Edgin has been a bullpen revelation.  Edgin has stranded 11 of the 14 runners he’s inherited as well as striking out 24 batters in 19.1 innings pitched. I can see the concern about going to the whip to often with Edgin especially getting him up multiple times during a game to warm-up , that’s where the wear and tear takes its toll, so it may be a good idea for Collins to take his foot off the gas a bit the last month of the season with Edgin.

Jon Niese is pitching with an extra days rest today. When Niese has an extra day off he is 6-3 with a 2.29 ERA as this covers 15 starts.

One thing to watch for today at the launching pad known as Citizen Bank Park, Niese has given up the long ball a lot this season, a career high 20 home run so far this season.

Niese has a better day time record than night. He’s 4-1 with a 2.85 ERA in 10 starts in the sunshine and in 15 starts under the lights he’s 6-6 with a 3.98 ERA.

 

 

 

 

 

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If Not Matt Harvey, Then Who ?

Looks like the Sandy Alderson regime has come to face its first real crisis of its reign with what looks like the season ending shoulder surgery that Dillon Gee will undergo. I call this a crisis because Gee’s ailment came out of nowhere and starting pitcher was not on Alderson’s shopping list.
So what’s a GM to do? It seems the last thing the Mets want to do is promote Matt Harvey to the big leagues because they would love to see some more consistency out him and the fact that he has a tendency to leave his fastballs up in the strike zone and in the big leagues that’s a batting practice pitch. Emotionally Harvey is ready and quite frankly he’d fit right into this Mets team as he is young and confident and an ex-teammate of many of the young Mets and besides what are the other options?
Alderson is on record as saying he will not trade a top prospect at the deadline so to getting Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster is out as that would be cost prohibitive in terms of players. Do pitchers like Paul Malholm or Kevin Millwood excite you? Didn’t think so.
It’s great that the Mets want to try to solve this unexpected problem without disrupting the development of a top prospect but sometimes you have no choice. Miguel Batista is clearly not the answer and Jeremy Heftner is like a dounut spare tire, he’s good once in a while for an emergency start or two but more than that you run a great risk of serious damage.
I would love to hear the talk going on in meetings today the Mets brass will have in Atlanta before that start of the second half starts tomorrow night, just to hear who is pro-Harvey and who’s not.

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Mets-cellaneous

I just hope a week from Thursday the weather is better than today in NYC. I’ll take the sunshine but this morning at 6AM it was 31 degrees which meant I had to retrieve my winter coat from my basement closet. I hate wearing my winter coat.

Speaking of a week from Thursday, I’m more than ready to get the season started as it will put up and shut up time and we get to talk about games that count.  But before we do there is some Mets Miscellany to discuss.

ITEM: Johan Santana Decreased Velocity

There was a bit of a panic in Metsville yesterday as the beat writers were sending Tweets from the frontline on Johan Santana’s start. It seems all the JUGS guns had Santana with less than Autobahn numbers, along with an ineffective first inning sent the sky is falling Mets fans out in droves.

It would be great if Santana was hitting 90+ but according to the stories from the game his velocity increased as the game went on. He walked 3 in the first inning but then regained his command to settle in and pitch very well:

 “I was struggling locating my fastballs,” Santana said. “I threw two-seamers. And, then, by the time I threw my breaking ball, I wasn’t able to throw strikes. But then I made some adjustments and I started hitting the inside corner and I was better after that. … It was just one of those days where things take a little longer. That’s all it was.”

See what gives you optimism with Santana that he will come back to form is he’s a very smart pitcher and knows exactly how to execute and how to adjust. I didn’t think we’d see Santana until the end of May but now I’ll be disappointed if Santana is not on the Citi Field bump on opening day.

ITEM: David Wright Back In Action

Good to see Wright back in action but let’s see if (when) he can go a couple, three days straight without aggravating his stomach injury. As Wright stated there is getting into physical shape and then there is game shape. Wright will be off today but then I’d like to see him play the rest of the week .

ITEM: Chris Young Signs Minor League Deal

Never have enough arms. Low risk high reward but there are still some Mets fans  that will knock this signing because that what those Mets like to do.

ITEM: Carlos Beltran pays Jon Niese $10K

Someday I’d love to carry that kind a coin around with me to just write a check to a co-worker for cosmetic surgery. I’d have my office look like the waiting area of the Bunny Ranch.

ITEM: Texas Rangers Release Connor Jackson

We are going to see a bunch of these releases as Jackson fits the description of players signed to minor league deals who are guaranteed $100 K if they are still in camp on March 30th. The Rangers are hoping to strike a deal with Jackson to start the season in the minors but it wouldn’t be bad for the Mets to swoop in a sweeten the pot a bit to add Jackson to the 25 man squad as he’s a right handed bat who can play the corner outfield spots and 1st base.

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BOBBY PARNELL AND NICK EVANS A STUDY IN CONTRASTING PLAYERS

What’s worse than watching a baseball game in September that’s meaningless? How about watching a meaningless baseball game in September being played in “Your Name Here” Stadium in South Florida in front of dozens of fans with an hour plus rain delay? Then when the game resumes your team in this meaningless contest has the lead and the pitcher who is thought to be the closer of the future comes in and blows the save for the fourth time in nine chances, but his ass is saved by a player who you couldn’t give away at least three times this season getting the game winning hit?

So is the tale of Bobby Parnell and Nick Evans. Parnell has been given the opportunity to show he should be the closer for the Mets from now until whenever but he has shown that he does not have the qualities needed to be effective at that position. Parnell has a flamethrower for a right arm but has a ton of trouble locating pitches for strikes. He also has this nasty habit of giving up a hit and then falls apart by falling behind in the count to the next batter who either walks or gets a nice juicy fastball or a flat slider to mash at. It’s not just the pitches that are ineffective; it seems Parnell loses some nerve and confidence when he’s behind the 8 ball.  Small fires become forest fires for him on the mound.

It looks as though the manager who has shown a lot of faith in him is starting to doubt if Parnell can close out games:

“Well, we’re going to talk to Bobby tomorrow,” Collins said. “I mean, there’s a couple things (pitching coach) Dan (Warthen) had talked about with him, a couple of little pitch-location stuff that he’s just got to be able to make. He’s got to make some pitches.

“He’s got a great arm and he’s got really great stuff. But the bases on balls hurt him. Getting behind in the count hurts him. You saw the first hitter, he went right at him with good fastballs, got ahead of him in the count, and throws him a slider and it’s a mismatch. But you’ve got to be able to get ahead.

It has got to be deflating  to the team to have Parnell blow as many saves as he has and Collins made be sensing some frustration in the clubhouse so why not take Parnell out of this roll and let him work on getting his mind as well as his pitches back to where he can be effective. There is too much talent in that right arm to give up on Parnell, but Terry Collins wants to end this season on a winning note as well as evaluating players who have a future with the Mets and who doesn’t.  Using a committee of Manny Acosta, Jason Isringhausen  and the neophyte Josh Stinson looks to be the way to go for these final weeks of the season.

As for Nick Evans, how can you not root for him? He’s been tossed on the scrap heap time and again but never gets discouraged and when he gets opportunities, as he is now playing 1st base on a nightly basis, he is producing with his bat and his glove. From trolling around the team you can tell the players hold Evans in high regard as they know how hard he works to stay in the big leagues and if he can continue to produce like he has, and impress the manager like he has, he will have a spot on the 2012 Mets 25 man roster.

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FOR WHOM THE PEN TOLLS, IT TOLLS FOR THE METS

These late inning collapses are wearing me out, and I’m sure the manager and players feel the same way. So how do the Mets stop this rash of late inning chokes? Beat’s the shit out of me.  Is Pedro Beato feeling the effects of the tendonitis in his right bicep that landed him on the DL? Is Izzy feeling the fatigue from back to back appearances? Is Dale Thayer feeling the effects of being Dale Thayer? What’s a manager to do? Maybe TC can go with Bobby Parnell and Manny Acosta a bit more but really so far this season it doesn’t matter who is in that bullpen, after a solid start the back end of the pen has become a problem and moving the pieces around isn’t solving anything.   

Jason Bay sounds like a guy who has given up. After reading these quotes it seems he asking Terry Collins to take him out of the everyday lineup:

 The underachieving Mets left fielder has been around long enough to realize every manager has a breaking point. Bay knows he needs to start hitting — or prepare for the possibility he will relinquish his everyday spot in the Mets’ lineup.

“That’s the reality of the situation we’re in,” Bay told The Post. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you that is not an option. I’m pretty aware of what’s going on.”

“It’s a results business, and this is a place where team-wise you need to win and you need to perform,” Bay said. “Regardless of who you are, you get enough chances and it’s like ‘OK, let’s go [in a different direction].’ That’s out of my control.”

Watching Bay’s AB’s last night you can see he has absolutely no confidence in himself as a hitter. In the 4th inning he was HBP in his knee and never made an attempt to get out of the balls way. I guess he felt taking one for the team was the least he could do. In the 6th, after getting ahead 2-0, Bay missed on two fastballs, fouling them off. He then took another ball to get the count to 3-2. He fouled off another pitch he was late on and then took a called third strike. As the ump called strike three, Bay just looked at him calmly and asked where it was, the ump told him and Bay just shrugged his shoulders, got his glove and went to LF. It’s time for an intervention, either platoon Bay or talk to him and his agent about going to Buffalo or St Lonesome to work out his problems at the plate. He will not be released and he has zero trade value so this would be the best thing for the team and for Bay. Lucas Duda is ripping up Triple A pitching, he deserves a shot at the LF job.

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AHHHHH THE GREAT OUTDOORS…SNIFF! SHIFF! IS THAT GARLIC I SMELL?

I ‘m getting ready to head for the hills A/K/A my annual week long camping trip with my sons Boy Scout Troop. Our camp may resemble the prison scene in Godfella’s as we’ve decided to cook all our meals this year. So we’ve packed up cans of crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, onions, peppers, chop meat and sauseeeege (Italian sausage to you out of towners.) so as the boys go off to earn their merit badges, the dads will be over a hot burner “makin’ the gravy”

The leaders office has computers and internet access so I should be able to put up a post or two during the week when I get a little time off from cooking, cutting wood and yelling at kids plus it’s the All-Star break so I won’t be missing much as I don’t revere the All Star game like I did when I was a kid so it might be a good time to go into the woods.

I haven’t read any game stories last from last night as I have a lot of last minute things to do before we leave so I’m still a little foggy on why Jose Reyes hit second last night and is schedule to hit in that spot again today. I’ve heard a theory that he is seeing a lot of sliders in the lead off spot so by flip floping Pagan and Reyes he may see more fastballs as Jose is still plagued by the sore oblique.  After watching Reyes slide back into second last night and coming up sore, I would think management would order him to forgo the All Star game and take the three days to rest his injury.

Hard to kill R A Dickey for last night as he continues to pitch great. If anything, the Mets half of the 6th inning is what did the team in. With Ike Davis on second and Jason Bay on first, no one out, up steps Josh Thole. Ike is not exactly fleet of foot in fact, and I say this will all due respect, Ike has Ed Kranepool speed, and Thole, a contact hitter up, how about a hit and run? Nope, Jerry Manuel decides to go with the bunt, and Bobby Cox, being the Hall of Fame manager that he is, smelled it from a mile away so he put on the wheel play (a Bobby Valentine favorite play as well) where 3rd baseman Omar Infante and 1st baseman Troy Glauss charge in and mentally challenged short stop Yunel Escobar covers 3rd and 2nd baseman mar-TEEEN Prado covering first. The play worked for the Braves beautifully. If Thole was a little bit more experienced he would have pull back the bunt and swung away. As Keith Hernandez said, “Thole might have been afraid of his manager yelling at him” if he did that. If Manuel chastised Thole for a heads up play like that, then he’d be a more clueless strategist  than I make him out to be.

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EXCUSE ME JERRY, MAY I INTRODUCE YOU TO BOBBY PARNELL

It’s not the loss that has me pissed, it the way it happened that makes me wonder if under the stewardship on Mr. Jerry Manuel, this team can make the post season as the manager has absolutely no feel for in game managing.

First there was the lineup. With both Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan ailing, was it wise to give Jason Bay the day off? I’ve advocated giving Chris Carter some playing time but again the manager has to have a feel for knowing when to play guys and when to let them sit, you can’t keep Bay out the line up when your two offensive catalysts are sitting. Wouldn’t giving Bay a game off in Puerto Rico be more beneficial since he wouldn’t have to run on an artificial turf laded outfield?

Then we have this whole “I wanted to get Johan out on a positive note” line of bullshit? Santana pitched his best game in over a month and not just that he is still the Ace of the staff. Maybe it’s just a figurehead title but can you imagine Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, CC Sabathia or Cliff Lee coming out of a game like last night? I know Johan said he wanted to stay in the game but acquiesced to the managers move, maybe he should have demanded to stay in I bet those pitchers I mentioned would get into a fist fight with their skipper to finish a game like that.

The 9th inning was just a pure disaster as Manuel let Ryota Igarashi, a guy who walks as many batters as he strikes out, pitch in bases loaded spot one out and Ryan Zimmerman up. I can buy the notion of saving Frankie Rodriguez for the save spot as the Mets are the road team, but if you’re not going to use Bobby Parnell in that spot, then why is Parnell here?    

You could hear the disgust in Ron Darling’ voice as Igarashi fell behind 2-0 to Zimmerman by throwing tow breaking balls, when the situation called for challenging the hitter with fastballs. That’s why this situation cried out for Parnell to be brought in. If Zim hits a 98 mph fastball for a game winning hit, tip your hat and move on. I just wonder if Igarashi would have walked in the winning run, would that be grounds for the manager’s dismissal?

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WIN SOME, LOSE SOME YOUR 2009 NY METS

Pitching a one hitter against the Mets right now is like going bass fishing and catching a minnow. Sure you caught a fish but how much skill did it take to reel in that little fellow? Same with pitching to the Mets just don’t pitch to David Wright and throw fastballs down the middle to the est of the lineup and you should be fine. End of scouting report.

No problem here with Mark DeRosa going to the Cardinals for pitcher Chris Perez and a PTBNL. Then Mets equivalent to Perez is Bobby Parnell and I wouldn’t trade Parnell for a 34 year old rental player. The Mets problems are beyond adding DeRosa.

With all due respect to some of my Highlander buddies (Ben Kabak, Alex Bleth, Rebecca Glass) just observing Highlander fans most of the young ones are clueless when it comes to not only the rules of baseball or the strategy of the game but have no idea at all about their teams history. The older ones have a Pavlovian way about them as soon as you mention the name of the team they all bark out “26 Championships” I guess what I’m saying they’re a sad bunch. Our team may not win much but we’re a better class of fan.

A little bit of Tim Redding is good a lot of Tim Redding…..ahh…not so good. If there is one pitcher on the Mets that is the picture of a mop up guy in the pen, it’s Tim Redding.

Ol’ Cholly Manuel laced into his team after a another loss on Friday night and his club responded with a 10-0 win over the Blue Jays. After losing two straight to the Highlanders, Jerry Manuel took his team to the Lemon Ice King of Corona and told them it’s not their fault we have a lot of injuries and “You’re all winners YEAH!!!!!” Maybe that’s why Ol’Cholly has a ring and J-Man doesn’t. I’d love to see J-Man lace into his team and remind them this is the big leagues and they need to compte like big leaguers even if he doesn’t believe half of his roster belongs here.

I hate to bring up this Michael Jackson is dead thing again but there are a few things bothering about this whole Jacko worship that’s on going. As I stated the other day I was not a big fan of Jackson the man or the music. Pop music is not what I listen to I’m a Garage/Punk kinda of guy plus all the folks who think that Jackson was the greatest showman alive obviously had never seen a Stones concert, a Queen concert or a Plasmatics concert but that is neither here nor there

My biggest trouble with Jackson is the fact he slept with little boys, and that is fucking sick. My feeling for this does not just lie with Jackson but with the Catholic church as well and it’s the reason why I have no respect for the clergy any more.

Now if you bring up this part of Jackson’s life to a fan of his you get called al kind of names from a racist (which is funny as the guy went above and beyond to be white) or a heartless fuck. And that is because the truth hurts. But his fans and the media have given him a pass on his past crimes and have treated him like an American hero in his passing.

Michael Vick didn’t sleep with little boys (as far as we know) but he did maim, torture and kill animals which is still despicable and I would love to see Vick tortured the same way he did to those dogs. I’m not some crazy PETA zealot but I do own pets and I’ve been around dogs and just the thought that this scumbag gained the trust of the dogs then made them fight and the ones who weren’t fighters he killed makes my blood boil. Again if you are anti Vick you’re a racist, and a heartless reactionary and the man severed his time and deserves another chance. Not to me as Michael Vick is nothing but a fucking coward and also he wasn’t a very good QB either but he will get a chance some place and his past history of cruelty and murder of dogs will be replaced with cheering fans and enablers

What I’m getting to in my long winded way is Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds are just some of the biggest stars in baseball who have been found to use performance drugs to enhance their play on the field and to recover from injury to stay on the field. Of course their actions were wrong as taking PED’s they way they did were unlawful but for the most part not against the laws of baseball well not until the jig was up and the Used Car Salesman acted with shock and horror that players were using PED’s, a performance worthy of an Oscar.

In no way do I condone the actions of the players involved in what is now the Steroid Scandal Era (especially since I’m reading American Icon which will become the essential reading when people look back on this time in baseball) but what I don’t get is how these players are treated worse than a guy who slept with little boys and a guy who killed dogs?

I just wish there was the outcry for the actions of Michael Jackson and Roger Vick like there is for Manny Ramirez who of the three committed the lesser crime.

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