Some of the items we’re reading today at Baseball Jeremiad…
Jason Stark reviews eight teams and asks whether their early performance is a reality or illusion.
His take on the Mets:
Mets (6-9, last place in NL East)
Twice in the last week, we’ve heard two scouts make a remark like this: “I think Washington is a much better club than the Mets.”
From where we Rumblers and Grumblers sit, we wouldn’t go that far. At some point, you can take these predictions to Vegas: Jason Bay will hit a home run. And Carlos Beltran will get a hit. And Francisco Rodriguez will save a game. And a starter other than Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey will win a game. But is this a good enough, or deep enough, team to hang with the Braves, Phillies and Marlins? We’re not hearing anybody say that except the Mets themselves.
“You know, baseball needs the Mets to be good,” one scout said. “Baseball is more fun when the Mets are good and that rivalry between them and the Phillies is cooking. But this just isn’t a real good team. If you look past Santana, and Pelfrey the way he’s pitched so far, you see where the Mets’ problems lie. They’ve got legitimate concerns in that rotation. I watched that bullpen six days, and they’ve got four guys on pace to pitch over 80 games. That says their starters just are not getting deep enough. And I don’t see that changing.”
Meanwhile, Stark reacted to DC Matt’s dis of Jorge Cantu:
Yes he Cantu: How many hitters in baseball are more underrated than Marlins hit factory Jorge Cantu? He may not be Albert Pujols. But he’s the only player in the National League who has gotten a hit in every game this season. He has more extra-base hits (10) than singles (eight). He’s second in the league in RBIs. He’s hitting .429 with men in scoring position. And as we mentioned last week, the only NL hitters with more RBIs than Cantu since the 2009 All-Star break are Ryan Howard, Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp and Prince Fielder.
Forbes Magazine explains why the Phillies have remained so good for the past three seasons:
The Phillies have stars like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, who came up through the team’s farm system and have been signed to long-term deals. This has left money free to patch holes with the occasional expensive free agent, such as newly acquired Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, who signed for $60 million over three years.
The results have been spectacular. The team won the World Series two years ago and made it back last year before losing to the Yankees in six games. This year the Phillies will try to win three National League pennants in a row, which would tie a record set during World War II by the Cardinals. “We had a plan. We wanted to get good in a way that we could stay good,” says team President David Montgomery.
Former Met and Phillie Bruce Chen rides again, this time in Royals Blue.
I had a running joke with a friend of mine from Jersey that certain Yankee pitchers broke into cold sweats and possibly soiled themselves whenever they heard Joe Torre’s voice. The joke, of course, was that Torre had a penchant for destroying Quadruple-A pitchers by pitching them multiple innings multiple days in a row.* Thus, we laughed like hell when Torre became manager of the Dodgers and Scott Proctor found his way to LA. All of this is an extended set-up for worrying that Jerry Manuel plans to have the same effect on Francisco Rodriguez.
*I don’t know, empirically, whether or not this is true. Was our perception reality? Not too sure.
Benjamin Hoffman of the “Bats Blog” of The New York Times investigates the autonomy of an at-bat.
Last week, DC Matt and I picked up Barry Zito to make a spot-start for the Centristfielders. He threw a gem. Fangraphs’ Matt Klaassen wonders why. His answer: might just lucky, he guesses.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post makes some baseball jokes and observations in his blog.