Grab your coffee Met-lo-maniacs! Here is the quick & dirty guide to making the 2008 edition of the Mets better. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy my Cabbie three-course meal, specifically prepared for your Mets’ 2008 dining pleasure.
Both Paul Lo Duca & Ramon Castro are free agents, so the Mets need a catcher. Sure the easy thing to do would be to re-sign both guys and maintain the status quo. This would be fine if there was nothing better out there. And if your looking for something better in the free agent pool you certainly won’t find it, unless your fond of a guy who likes to punch out his pitchers (Michael Barrett), or you honestly think that Jorge Posada will jump ship (Not!). No, to find the pearl, sometimes you have to go diving.
My first Cabbie tip for Omar Minaya is for him to use some of those free weekend cell minutes he’s been saving up to say "Hey" to Bill Bavasi in Seattle. Start with a little schmooze, "Hey Bill it’s Omar, how’s it going?… How is old Buzzie doing?… Yeah, I’m sure he misses Montreal as much as I do. Wish ’em my best huh!… Listen, I heard you might be looking for a young starter and maybe some fresh guns to help Putz out in the pen. And with the success you guys have had with that Johjima kid at catcher, I was wondering if you’d figured out what you were going to do with Jeff Clement yet?…" Yada, yada, yada. You get the drift.
So, let’s assume Bill decides to play ball. The Mets get their catcher of the future, a young power hitting lefty. A guy who might only be average defensively, but has the potential to hit a good 30-35 home runs a year with a .280 average. Think the next Todd Hundley. The only question now is, what’s the final fare? Hmmm, well considering the guy was the # 3 pick in the 2005 draft and he plays a high-need position, you’re not gonna just get him for some sandwich meat. But, I’ll bet a young set-up guy with plenty of arbitration eligible years left, plus a former 1st round starter could do it.
Mets get C Jeff Clement
Mariners get RP Aaron Heilman and SP Philip Humber
What do the Mets need more than anything else? How about a couple of RELIABLE relievers. Yes, yes. But, let’s be more specific. Well, it seems that the only good relievers we do have, pitch from the left side. And if we trade Heilman, we’ll need at least two good right handed relievers. Some might say we even need three, but I’m an optimist. I’m going to count on either Duaner Sanchez or Ambiorix Burgos staying healthy next year. However, since I’m no longer an idealist, forget about Guillermo Mota or Joe Smith being anything more than extra-inning fodder.
What to do? Ah, I got it! Terry Ryan just left for the president’s lounge. That means new GM Bill Smith is probably chomping at the bit to make his mark in Minnesota. Omar, call Bill immediately! He’ll probably just be impressed that you know his number. Since he’s been in their organization forever, I’m sure you’ve run into him at a GM meeting or a Rule 5 draft. So, start out like he’s your long lost buddy, "Hey Billy boy how’s it goin’? Congrats on the job, no one deserved it more than you! Hey listen, I know Pohlad’s accountant must be driving you crazy. My hat goes off to you. Figuring out how to keep Johan and Morneau is hard enough, let alone dealing with Joe Nathan and maybe losing Tori this year. But, that’s why I’m calling Bill. I think I can help." Yada, yada, yada.
Now, before you get ahead of yourselves Met-lo-maniacs, I’m not even dreaming of trying to trade for Johan Santana. Remember, I’m not an idealist anymore. No, we want Joe Nathan, the perfect right handed compliment to Billy Wagner in our pen. And I think I know just how to get him. When Tori Hunter officially leaves, the Twins will have a gaping hole in center. Perfect! We can offer them either Carlos Gomez or Fernando Martinez, two of the best CF prospects in the game. As the old adage goes, ‘you can never have enough pitching’, so we toss them a 6′ 10" 2nd round lefty stud from last year’s draft and WHALLA Nathan is a our new set-up man.
Mets get RP Joe Nathan
Twins get CF Carlos Gomez and SP Scott Moviel
This one is simple. It’s just about cost and risk. With Nathan aboard we have a dominant set-up guy, but we still need a solid seventh inning guy. Now, before you all jump on me about his injury history, I want to point out five reasons the Mets should sign RP Kerry Wood.
1. He’s still only 30 years old
2. He’s an incredibly dedicated and hard worker
3. He had a 3.33 ERA with 24 K’s in 24 IP after his long awaited return
4. He was clocked at 98 mph by the end of the season
5. He would cost you less than what you pay Guillermo Mota
Let’s recap. After this fine Cabbie dining delight, the Mets end up with Jeff Clement as their new catcher, and Joe Nathan and Kerry Wood as their new right handed set-up men. And all this can be ours Met-lo-maniacs for the modest fare of outfielder Carlos Gomez, and pitchers Aaron Heilman, Philip Humber, and Scott Moviel (2007 2nd round pick).
Now Go Chew On That!
If the last three days of secret meetings in Tampa were part of the movie, "The Godfather", Don Corleone would have kissed Joe Torre
on both cheeks, told him he was forever a part of the family, and then
given him an offer he couldn’t refuse. But, Don Corleone isn’t the boss
of the Yankees, and while these meetings were very much about family,
that family is not the Corleones. In the real life story, the name of
the family is Steinbrenner, and in their universe all good things must
come to an end. So, yesterday they gave Joe Torre an offer he had to
For the first time in 12 years, someone other than Torre will be
filling out the New York Yankees’ lineup card. The expectation is that
HGH (Hank, George, and Hal) will name Torre’s bench coach and Yankees’
legend Don Mattingly as the new manager of the New York Yankees. The announcement could come as early as tomorrow.
Why Joe Had To Say, "NO!"
What Joe Torre wanted was simple. He wanted at least two more
guaranteed years, so he could have the honor of managing the Yankees
when the new stadium opens in 2009. After 12 seasons at the helm for the Bombers, and with 12 postseason appearances, 6 World Series appearances, and
4 championship rings, he felt he had earned that right. But, the
Steinbrenners felt differently. The contract they offered to Torre was
a one-year make good deal for $5 million with incentives that would
make the deal worth $8 million should the Yankees reach the World
Series. Torre would have the option of coming back in 2009 if he
reached all the incentives.
In other words, Torre would have to take a pay cut (from $7.5
million) unless he succeeded in the postseason, and since there would
be no guarantee he would manage in 2009, he would have to manage in 2008
with the honorable title of "lame duck".
Yankees Offer To Motivate Joe — Cabbie’s Rant!
Yankees’ president Randy Levine said that all the members of the Yankees’ brass were "unanimous" in their desire to bring Joe Torre back as manager. Later, he called the Yankees’ offer to Torre "extremely fair". EXTREMELY FAIR! This is the type of statement a lawyer makes during a
divorce settlement, not in a unanimous decision to extend the tenure of
possibly the most successful manager in Yankees’ history.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Levine used a more expanded rationale for
the Yankees’ incentive laden one-year offer when he said, "We
thought that we need to go to a performance-based model, having nothing
to do with Joe Torre’s character, integrity, or ability. We just think
it’s important to motivate people." Telling Joe Torre he
has to reach the World Series in order to keep his job is not
motivation, it’s pure idiocy. Do they really think Joe would try less
hard if he had been guaranteed 2009? If they do, then that is a direct
knock on his character, integrity and ability.
Here’s an idea for Levine and the Steinbrenners- if the Yankees’ brass really believes they "need to go to a performance-based model",
how about trying that in the upcoming A-Rod negotiations. Offer him a
one-year extension to his already existing contract. Give him another
$27 million and then tell him they’ll extend him year-to-year, adding a
couple of million should the Yankees reach the World Series. Try it
with Posada too. "Hey Jorge, here’s a one-year deal for $12 million.
We’ll extend you again next year if we win it all." See how fast you
lose all your free agents. See how long it takes the Tampa Bay Devil
Rays to pass your *ss in the standings. See how long it takes before
the crosstown Mets and their new manager in 2009, Joe Torre, take over
the back pages (I hope you’re listening Omar Minaya).
It is a tad ironic that the latest trademark of Yankees’ success, Joe Torre, was let go on the same date, October 18th, that George Steinbrenner
brought the glory back to the Bronx 30 years ago (1977) – when the
Yankees won their first World Series in 15 years. The mantle has now
been passed and hopefully for Hank and Hal, as the new Steinbrenner era
gets under way sans George, it won’t be that long before the Yankees
win another one.
Carl the Cabbie
Statistics, statistics, statistics! Charting patterns, amassing totals,
calculating ratios… statistics are read, studied and followed by
fans, players, coaches, everyone who has anything to do with the game
itself. They are the window we look through to rate the level of success or
failure of the players and teams we love and hate.
In the best light, statistics can help create the story-lines that
entrance fans all year long, they can help coaches and managers
strategize, they give the announcers and writers themes to opine about
in between pitches and games, they help create an historical context, a
way for us to compare and contrast. In the worst light, statistics can
distort, distract, mislead and sometimes just be plain esoteric.
But, regardless of how one views the numbers one is looking at,
statistics are and will always be an important fabric in the game of
baseball. So, as we settle into the post-season, let’s take a look
inside some numbers. Some might give us good insight on what kind of
performances to expect, and some might be just anomalies that explain
nothing more than just how quirky a game baseball can be.
Inside The Numbers
about parody! For the first time since baseball divvied up the two
leagues (MLB in 1969 went to 4 divisions, and in 1994 went to 6
divisions), a team from each division has won a World Series in
consecutive years. In other words six champions in six years, all
representing a different division.
2001– Diamondbacks (NL West)
2002– Los Angeles Angels (AL West)
2003– Florida Marlins (NL East)
2004– Boston Red Sox (AL East)
2005– Chicago White Sox (AL Central)
2006– St. Louis Cardinals (NL Central)
Until the Diamondbacks this year, 1906 is the last year in which a team
had the best record in their league while posting the worst batting
average. The Chicago White Sox of 1906 were known as the "Hitless Wonders". And for good reason, they hit .230 as a team and didn’t have one regular hit higher than .279. The D’Backs hit .250
as a team this year. But don”t fret too much D’Back fans, even with
their low average the 1906 ChiSox and their vaunted pitching staff
would go on tho beat the Cubbies in six games on their way to win the
third ever World Series.
100– This is how many runs Daisuke Matsuzaka
of the Boston Red Sox gave up this year. Now I want you to guess how
many of those runs were UR (unearned runs). If you guessed ZERO,
It was only the fourth time in the history of baseball that a pitcher has given up at least 100 runs and all of them were ER (earned runs).
**** Ruthven of the Atlanta Braves was the first to accomplish this feat in 1976 (112 R, 112 ER). In 1990, Frank Tanana of the Detroit Tigers became the second man to do it (104 R, 104 ER). But, it was righthander Joel Pineiro in 2005, then pitching for the Seattle Mariners, who gave up the most runs without any of them being unearned (118 R, 118 ER). Dice-K became the fourth member of this group (100 R, 100 ER) on the second to last day of the 2007 season when he gave up 2 runs in a victory over the Minnesota Twins.
The main reason this esoteric accomplishment has been so rare,
especially since the 1940’s, is that teams are much better at fielding
than they were in the past. While a .975 Fielding Percentage
(FPCT.) will get you in the bottom of the league nowadays, that same
FPCT. would have been a top the leader board 60 or 70 years ago. And
thankfully Dice-K wasn’t pitching pre-1920 when a third of all runs
scored were unearned. Heck, if he were pitching alongside Al Spalding in the 1870’s, having less than 60% of your runs unearned meant you were on a pretty good fielding team.
Matsuzaka having such a high strikeout total, plus being on the third best fielding club (Red Sox had a .986
FPCT.) might have contributed slightly to this strange accomplishment,
but the most likely contribution to Dice-K’s lack of UR is just plain
old dumb luck. This rare statistical feat truly falls under the anomaly
Cabbie’s Prescription For Mets’ Fans
My suggestion to all Mets’ fans is to take off tomorrow and
sleep the day away. If you’re musically inclined, a little blues harp
under the light of the moon would probably being soothing to the soul.
And if you really find yourself unable to function, I would suggest a
swift and sudden tirade. Throw a chair, break a glass, pick up your
dog’s droppings with a Tommy Glavine
card. The long and short of it is to take the day and let yourself
express the agony of the worst September collapse in New York baseball
If you follow my advice I promise you’ll feel less worse on Tuesday.
And hopefully by Wednesday you’ll feel well enough to watch what should
be one heckuva postseason.
A Couple Of Playoff Notes For Non-Mets’ Fans
If you’re a Philly-fanatic, you’ve got to be ecstatic that the Padres and Rockies are playing a one game playoff tomorrow (Jake Peavy vs Josh Fogg).
Not only will the winner only have one day of rest before they travel
to Philly, but if the Padres win, the Phillies will only have to face
Jake Peavy ONCE! That’s a huge advantage for Philadelphia.
Padres’ fans might need to coalesce with Mets’ fans by the end of the
week. Besides blowing a nice wild card lead over the Rockies over the
past two weeks, they have to travel to Colorado tomorrow with the most
injury ravaged team that’s still alive for the playoffs. Their have
been plenty of signs in the past couple of weeks that karma might not
be on their side.
First, Mike Cameron gets a viral infection and misses a bunch
of games. When he finally returns last Sunday, he tears a ligament in
his thumb. His availability for the playoffs is now in doubt. Next,
they lose their best hitter, Milton Bradley, to a torn ACL when Bud Black, the Pads manager, throws a ballistic Bradley to the ground while trying to prevent
Bradley from ripping the first base umpire’s head off.
If those two major injuries weren’t enough to make Pads’ fans doubt their
team’s destiny, the Rockies win 13 of their final 14 games, including a
three game sweep of the Padres in San Diego.
Mr Padre’s Son Beats Padres—Ouch!
But, the omen of all omens that would really make me shutter if I were a Pads’ fan happened in the
bottom of the ninth on Saturday. With Corey Hart on second and the Pads one out away from clinching a playoff berth, all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman faced off against Tony Gwynn Jr.,
the son of the greatest Padre ever. Hoffman tossed eight straight
changeups at Gwynn Jr. before Gwynn hooked one into the rightfield
corner for a game tying triple. As karma would have it, the Pads would
go on to lose the game a couple of innings later.
AL Playoff Notes
Angels’ fans have to be delighted with how Kelvim Escobar pitched on Saturday. He looks good to go for Game 2 of the ALDS.
Since the Red Sox won home field advantage, they will get an extra
day off during their series with the Halos. That means they can use
just three starters if they want should the series go five games. Both Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka would be available to pitch twice on normal rest.
The Yankees on the other hand will now have to use four starters should their series go four games. That leaves Joe Torre with a big decision. Does he start veteran Mike Mussina if there’s a Game 4 or young phenom Philip Hughes? Who ever doesn’t get the Game 4 start would be up early in the bullpen for Game 3 in case Roger Clemens‘ bum hammy is still giving him problems next Sunday.
The postseason starts Wednesday, so get your rally caps ready fans,
the first round match-ups look to be the most competitive they’ve been
in quite a while.
Wed. October 3rd
Angels @ Red Sox (John Lackey vs Josh Beckett)
Cubs @ Diamondbacks (Carlos Zambrano vs Brandon Webb)
Padres or Rockies @ Phillies (Greg Maddux or Jeff Francis vs Cole Hamels)
Thurs. October 4th
Yankees @ Indians (Chien Ming Wang vs C.C. Sabathia)
My good karma gestures of the week go to the Washington Nationals. Matt Chico, you can ride in my cab for free anytime. Jason Bergmann, I will wear a "Jason Bergmann is the best pitcher in baseball t-shirt" for an entire week if you beat the Phils tomorrow. And a big Cabbie shout-out to John Maine, you were fan-FREAKIN-tastic today! Same goes for you Lastings Milledge. O’k, now back to work.
Coach Cabbie’s Pre-Game Speech To The Mets (Game 162)
I offer you nothing but tough love. I’m glad to finally see some fire in the old gut. Mets’ fans have been waiting. A matter of fact, I think Mets’ fans have shown a tremendous amount of faith and support this entire month, even through the late September slide. As players and coaches, we now need to show the same effort and heart as we’ve gotten from the fans all year long.
So, make sure you run out every ball tomorrow Reyes… Don’t leave the bat on your shoulder this time Beltran… Delgado, pay attention to that shift like you did today and keep going the other way… Watch the uppercutting Wright, we just need a bunch of base hits… Moises, lay off the inside pitch… Tommy G, do your thang… Bullpen, forget the past and throw STRIKES… And Willie, everybody but Maine should be available, including Ron Darling up in the booth if you need him. It’s now up to every single player and coach to man-up and get the job done!
Stay focused, get a good night’s rest, and let’s show some patience with Dontrelle tomorrow. No more tightness, we’ve already blown it, and thanks to Matt Chico and the Nationals we still have a shot.
So, play with all you got and stay loose as a goose. Loose as a goose, one pitch at a time… those are my Cabbie words of wisdom for ya.
So, it comes down to this— Three home games against the club with the second worse record in the NL. Three home games against a team the Mets are 10-5 against this year. Three home games against the highly dubitable troika- Byung-Hyun Kim, Chris Seddon, and Dontrelle Willis, and their combined 5.59 ERA. The Mets, they throw their three best- Oliver Perez, John Maine, and Tom "300 Wins" Glavine.
A Message From George Steinbrenner
For any Mets’ fans who are disgusted or are losing sleep over the
fact that the Phillies are now tied for first with the Mets, think of
it this way— If the Mets don’t win the division, not only don’t they
deserve to be in the playoffs, Willie Randolph and Omar Minaya need to
A Message From Cabbie
Here, Here! I hope you are listening Mets’ players, because you’ve
all played like a bunch of scared headless chickens these past two
weeks. Do you want to be the first team ever to blow a 7 game lead with
17 to play? I hope you feel the pressure, cause it might be the only
thing to wake your arses up. Enough coddling, enough wishing, enough "waiting to lose"
(as Paul lo Duca said yesterday). Enough is enough! Play like your life
depends on it, and just win the darn thing already. Mets’ fans deserve
OUCH! Watching the Mets is becoming more painful than a nightly root canal. A week ago Willie Randolphand Mets’ fans were thinking about who we should rest down the stretch
and here we are five days later crossing our nail bitten fingers, and
praying to the baseball gods that we’ll even make the playoffs. So what
the heck has gone so wrong?
A. Willie Randolph’s brain has gone numb
B. The Mets are playing the field like the Keystone Cops
C. The Mets bullpen STINKS!
D. All of the above
Auditioning For The Part Of The Scarecrow In The Wizard Of Oz
Message to Willie, STOP using Jorge Sosa, Scott Schoeneweis, Aaron Sele and
There’s a reason all four of them were still free agents a month before
the season began. Next time the Mets need a reliever before the 7th
inning, I call on all Mets’ fans to yell the name Philip Humber
at the top of their lungs. ****, we only drafted this guy in the 1st
round a couple of years ago. You’d think Willie would want to find out
if he could help the weakest part of this team. Look how it panned out
for Joe Torre when he gave Joba Chamberlain and Edwar Ramirez a shot.
6 errors in one game! 12 errors in 4 games! Willie, make this team
play Pepper every day for the next two weeks. If that doesn’t tighten
things up, hire a Lasik surgeon as your team doctor and petition the
commissoner for an extra fielder.
Firemen or Arsonists?
The four aformentioned arsonists have pitched a combined 262.1 innings this year to the tune of a 5.11 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP. If you subtract the 80 IP
Sosa threw as a starter, these four account for 48% of the Mets’
bullpen innings this season. Willie needs to watch more basketball. In
the NBA, there’s an old strategy teams employ during the stretch run,
it’s called "shortening the rotation".
Time to face the hard facts Willie- You have two pretty good relievers, Aaron
Heilman and Pedro Feliciano, and a lights out closer, Billy Wagner. You
need at least two more reliable guys for the playoffs. You have 12
games to find out who they are.
The time has come to make bold moves. With Pedro "Maestro" Martinez
back in the fold, the Mets have five starters. That means one of them
is going to end up in the bullpen SHOULD we make the playoffs. Tom Glavine and Martinez are the top two starters, and Oliver Perez is way too wild to count on to enter a game with men on base. So, there are only two choices- Orlando Hernandez and John Maine. While El Duque has pitched in relief before, his body is just too finicky at his age to
be counted on to pitch every two or three days. That leaves the young and fresh arm of John Maine.
While Maine has been god-awful the past two months, most of his
troubles have come the third time through a lineup. And for good
reason, he lacks a solid third pitch. But, the two good pitches he does
have are more than enough for him to be successful for an inning or
two. His fastball/slider combination is a deadly duo that could work
perfectly in a seventh or eight inning role.
Unfortunately, Omar Minaya made some bad decisions after the
All-Star break. Not adding an arm before the trade deadline could prove
to be the Mets’ downfall. Not adding Humber or Kevin Mulvey
(the Mets’ minor league pitcher of the year) before September has
limited the Mets’ options even further come playoff time, since neither
would be eligible for the playoff roster.
Cabbie Recipe For Success
The good news is that all is not lost, and the Mets are still
leading the Phillies in this race to the ribbon. Remember Mets’ fans,
the Cardinals were stumbling to the finish line in similar fashion last
year. But, it is time for Willie and his crew to wake up. So, here’s my
Cabbie recipe for repairing this train wreck of a bullpen:
1. Get John Maine prepared for a late inning role NOW!
2. Use Philip Humber and Mike Pelfrey as much as needed over the next two weeks.
3. Soak El Duque’s foot in Epson-salt.