Thursday, May 18, 2006

 

Mets 1st-quarter report card

The Mets concluded a 3-6 road trip in St. Louis today with a 6-3 loss, courtesy of Jose Lima (0-3). Last night they wasted a stellar performance by Steve Trachsel in a 1-0 nailbiter, with David Wright and Cliff Floyd failing in the clutch with the bases loaded in the 9th.

After 40 games, the Mets are 24-16 (.600), and lead the division by 2 games. At this pace they'll win 98 games. You gotta believe!

The Mets' biggest problem is their depleted starting rotation. Tom Glavine (6-2) and Pedro Martinez (5-0) have been nearly flawless, but after third starter Steve Trachsel (2-4), arms are in short supply. Brian Bannister and John Maine remain on the DL ,and Victor Zambrano is out for the season. Lima, as he proved again today, can't keep his team in the game. Jeremi Gonzalez, who pitches tomorrow night against the Yankees, is an unknown quantity. Minor-league phenom Mike Peltry needs more time before he's rushed to the majors. Unless GM Omar Minaya makes a trade, I think the Mets should allow Aaron Heilman to make a few starts until the Bannister returns.

This problem could haved been prevented if Minaya hadn't foolishly banished Kris Benson to Baltimore. This was a bad trade (in exchange for Jorge Julio and Maine) anyway you look at it. Benson's 5-3 on a losing team. Imagine if Jim Duquette hadn't dispatched Scott Kazmir (6-2) to Devil Rays for Zambrano in 2004. The Mets rotation could've been Martinez, Glavine, Kazmir, Benson and Trachsel or Bannister.

Here's my 1st-quarter Mets report card:

OFFENSE

Carlos Delgado A

A great trade by Minaya. Delgado gives the Mets awesome power (.288 BA, 13 HR, 29 RBI) in the clean-up slot. Better than advertised defensively. Strikes out too much (38).

Paul Lo Duca A-
Another great pickup by Minaya. Clutch hitter (.289, 3, 13), solid catcher, bit of a hothead.

Carlos Beltran B+
More homeruns than last year (.257, 10, 25), similar average, lots of walks. Quick in CF, not the best arm.

David Wright B+
Cooled off after super-hot start. Less HRs than last year (.307, 5, 25), shaky at 3B.

Xavier Nady B+
Smart trade by Minaya (for Mike Cameron). Streaky hitter, plenty of power (.287, 8, 29), not the best right fielder, decent arm.

Jose Reyes B
The Mets' catalyst needs to be more consistent (.256, 3, 20). Will he ever hit .300? When Reyes is hot, the Mets win. Solid at SS.

Ramon Castro B
Excellent backup backstop (.289, 1, 3), might start on other teams.

Chris Woodward B
Super-sub utility player has few ABs (.265, 1, 6), but generally contributes when given chance. Could start at 2B.

Endy Chavez B
Speedy outfield sub is producing (.292, 1, 6) in limited play.

Kaz Matsui B-
Much maligned Japanese import provides occasional spark in 8th slot (.244, 1, 5). Much improved at 2B.

Jose Valentin C
After awful start as pinch-hitter, has shown life in limited outfield duty (.279, 2, 9).

Julio Franco C
Oldest player in baseball is an inspiration, but seldom plays (.227, 1, 5). Reduced to pinch-hitting and bench coaching.

Anderson Hernandez C
Rookie season short-circuited by back injury. Weak hitter (.146), but amazing glove at 2B.

Cliff Floyd D
The big disappointment so far. Just can't get untracked at the plate (.202, 3, 14). Without Delgado in the lineup, would be a major problem.

PITCHING

Tom Glavine A+

A wonder to behold (6-2, 2.43). At 40, he's pitching like he's 25. Always provides a solid start, cagey as ever and getting it done at the plate too (.462).

Pedro Martinez A
What toe problem? Leads the majors in strikeouts. Has yet to lose (5-0, 3.19). Letting up too many HRs (8).

Duaner Sanchez A
Minaya's sleeper acquisition (for Jae Seo) has been a godsend as the set-up man with Heilman (1-0, 1.78). Didn't allow a run in first 22 innings.

Aaron Heilman B+
He's so good in the bullpen (0-1, 1,69), Mets won't let him start, even though they could use help. Low-ball specialist.

Brian Bannister B
Spring-training surprise is work in progress (2-0, 2.89). Wild arm needs to be harnessed. Currently on DL with hamstring strain.

Pedro Feliciano B
Lefty's ERA is 0.73 in 12 innings.

Steve Trachsel C+
Crafty veteran rarely has back-to-back quality starts (2-4, 4.33). Mets need him to win now more than ever.

Billy Wagner C+
Already has one more blown save (3) than last season with the Phillies (2-0, 1.89, 8 saves). Will he be the man in crunch time?

Chad Bradford C
Submarine specialist has not greatly impressed (2-2, 4.91), but could come along and help bullpen.

Darren Oliver C
Long man gives up too many homeruns (5). But lefties are always valuable (1-0, 4.08).

Jorge Julio D
Fireballer prefers to throw sliders (1-1, 5.40, 1 save). An enigmna who reminds of Armando Benitez. Bad trade.

Victor Zambrano F
Hid arm problems for more than two years (1-2, 6.75). Still doesn't excuse him. Horrible trade.

Jose Lima F
Journeyman hothead should be released (0-3, 8.79).

John Maine & Jeremi Gonzalez no grades

MANAGEMENT

Manager Willie Randolph B+

Sophomore coach seems to have control of streaky squad. He's made very few questionable game decisions. He and pitching coach Rick Peterson have to solve the rotation problem.

General manager Omar Minaya B
Since taking over less than two years ago, he's made the right moves, acquiring Martinez, Delgado, Beltran, Wagner, Lo Duca, Nady and Sanchez. As I've said, he made a big mistake trading Kris Benson. What's Omar have up his sleeve?


Next game: Mets vs Yankees (23-16) at Shea on Channels 9 & 11 and WFAN & WCBS radio, Jeremi Gonzalez (0-0, 5.40) vs. Randy Johnson (5-4, 5.13)

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