Headed Down to Houston

Should be a fun series. If you’re headed down for the weekend, sound off in the comments or shoot me an email. For tips while in Houston make sure you check out Texas Road Trip

Check back over the weekend for updates from Houston, stories of drunken rampages, felony arrests and out of focus pictures.

Lets Go Mets!

Posted under Uncategorized

This post was written by Dan in Texas on July 31, 2008

Tags: , , , , ,

No Help on the Way

Thursday’s 4:00 pm trade deadline came and went without so much as a good Mets rumor. I’m not that uneasy that the Mets didn’t pick up a corner outfield; Church should be back at some point and some combo of Endy/Marlon/Tatis/Easley should be enough to hold down the other corner spot. What really concerns me is the pitching staff.

As I’ve written before, the starting rotation should be fine, and with a little bit of luck, Pedro keeps his sprains and pulls to a minimum. If you’ve been watching even just highlights of the Mets, you’d know this team desperately needs another arm. Secretly I was hoping for Houston Street , even if it meant sending a Kunz or Niese to Oakland , but that Billy Beene is a motherhumper when it comes to asking for every thing but the kitchen sink. The price tag on Ibanez was ridiculous, for what Seattle was reportedly asking for, they should have thrown in Ichiro. I was never that high on Fuentes, particularly because I would have like to have seen a right-handed set up man to pitch the eighth.

The lack of a trade is likely not Omar’s fault; this year’s sellers wanted an arm and leg. If he would have traded two of three of the few prospects the Mets have left, the Mets would be in a deeper hole next year. Not to mention trading away three future stars for a mediocre pitcher isn’t only unwise, it puts an unfair burden on the player coming back. See Victor Zambrano.

The Mets will need a corner outfielder and if Freddy Martinez lives up to half his hype, he is going to be special player, but then again, so was Lastings Milledge and Alex Ochoa. Lets hope he lives up to his ceiling. In the mean time, the Mets have to look elsewhere for help. The Mets should be ok without another outfielder, the most glaring need is for bullpen help. With the deadline come and gone, the Mets must look elsewhere for reinforcements:

The Waiver Wire

The Mets have to look to the trash heap waiver wire to get an arm. Reason would suggest that with pitching at such a shortage, any pitcher worth a darn would be signed by someone. Omar has shown a proficiency with pulling players off the scrap heap. Darren Oliver and Aaron Sele come to mind, not that either one of those players were stoppers or lights out set up men but both gave the Mets a long reliever capable of making a spot start. Of course Omar also brought in Mota so who knows.

The Minors

Jon Niese reportedly had a impressive triple-A debut. Over seven innings Niese gave up one run on three hits, striking out seven and walking two. That’s promising, but this guy probably isn’t major league ready and sure as shit not ready to jump into the rotation. Niese may be shoved into a start due to necessity or if by some reason if the Mets get a big lead over Philly and Florida . Same with Eddie Kunz; both should see late season call ups and figure to be prominent in the Mets staff in 2009 or 2010 but will likely not contribute in a meaningful role baring a heavy hit from the injury bug. I suspect the Mets did not make Bobby Parnell available this off-season to raise his value in November. Look for him to leave via trade over the off-season.

Staff up

The Mets might be able to ease the burden placed on the pen by carrying another pitcher. Why the big league club is carrying three catchers is beyond me. The Mets should send down Cancel and carry 13 pitchers. Even a mop-up/long relief man would take some strain off an already taxed bullpen. Aaron Heilman’s arm is going to fall off at this rate. The pen needs some breathers with only 5 off days from now until the rest of the season, the Mets have no more help from the schedule.

Analysis

The key to keeping this team from another September C word the bullpen has got to be unburdened. Manuel’s instance on starting pitchers going at least seven innings is a good start, but not enough. Offensive explosions and lopsided wins will reduce the need for pitchers to face one and two batters will decrease the work load. With no help on the way everyone has to pitch in and relieve the bullpen.

Posted under Uncategorized

Just Make a Deal

If Mets management’s mantra is “we are comfortable with what we have” because they cant make a trade, that’s understandable. If they really believe that, they’re crazy. Forget Manny, he’d be great to have in the lineup, but I doubt the Mets can slug there way to a pennant.

Pitching is going to win the East. Our starting pitching is solid to adequate, depending on Pedro. The bullpen however, is fragile to critical. I would love Houston Street. I don’t know about the price tag Seattle is asking for and supposedly Fuentes is off the market.

If the Mets bullpen stays the same, look for another late August, mid-September melt down.

Just make a deal, Omar. You’ve got 25 minutes

Posted under Uncategorized, Unsubstantiated Rumors

This post was written by Dan in Texas on July 31, 2008

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Manny not going to be Manny at Shea

Manny
Now Dan Graziano is reporting that the Mets are in contact with the Redsox and willing to part with prospects not available for players like Adam Dunn, Raul Ibanez and Randy Winn.

Contrary to the denials that made the rounds Monday, officials from both teams say the Mets have contacted the Red Sox about Manny Ramirez and are interested in pursuing a deal for him if Boston decides to make him available.

The Red Sox suspect that GM Omar Minaya wants Ramirez more than Mets ownership does. Regardless, the Mets are reluctant to part with top-prospect talent in exchange for outfielders like Adam Dunn, Raul Ibanez and Randy Winn, but they (rightly) consider Ramirez a far superior hitter to those in that group, and they would discuss players in a Ramirez deal that they would not discuss in others.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was “totally just jerking Graziano’s chain”, said a deal was probably too complicated to get completed before Thursday’s deadline.
Read More…

Posted under Unsubstantiated Rumors

He’s Back!

If you were to ask yourself, “what is the most tired, over analyzed topic in the sports world right now”, undoubtedly most answers would be the Brett Favre-Packers situation. Who better to not have a fresh opinion on it than the world’s worst sportswriter, Pete Alfano. Not only does Pete have no point, mistaken facts and a poor premise; what’s maybe more impressive/disturbing is that Pete’s “research” consists of reading one article written 14 years ago. That’s right, the man who once claimed, “Some baseball players wear batting helmets in the field as protection from objects being tossed from the stands” is back. Read More…

Posted under FJM ripoff, Pete Alfano

Texas Road Trip


It’s that time of year again, the Mets make there lone visit to the Lonestar State. I live in Arlington, (three minutes from the Ballpark in Arlington) and make the annual journey south on 45 every year to watch the Mets in person so I too have the experience of being an out of towner. However, since I am a resident of the great state of Texas, I can provide some tips on watching the Mets in Houston and if you plan on attending, shoot me an email.

Houston, while a pretty crappy berg, is actually a solid baseball town, a rarity in the Republic of Texas. Though they’re anti-Met fervor has cooled since making a failed appearance in the World Series; their once vicious and profane insults have turned to good natured ribbing, even toward a fan in clad in Mets gear.

This year, we have a three game weekend series in Houston. It’s too early for probable pitching matchups with Pedro’s status in question, but here are the facts.

*Note: all times are in Central Standard Time*

Game 1: 8/01 7:05 CST
Promotions: Berkman Bobblehead (first 10,000); Friday Night Fireworks
Batting practice starts at 3:50 Mets BP starts at 4:50

Game 2: 8/02 6:05 Insulated Travel Mug (first 10,000)
Batting practice starts at 4:40 Mets BP starts at 5:40

Game 3 8/03 1:05 Back-School Backpack First (10,000 kids under 15)
The gates open at 11:35, I’ve never seen either team take BP, and usually it’s the Astros on the field with their families playing catch with their kids. Do yourself a favor and sleep in.

Batting Practice:
As far as batting practice goes, I’ve only ever gotten one autograph (Joe Smith) so BP isn’t a must. I usually have pretty good seats. It is a kick to get close enough to see the Mets up close and personal. It’s not a must attend, but one BP is always a nice treat.

Promotional Giveaways:
Why you’d want a Lance Berkman bobblehead doll or an Astros travel mug is beyond me, but if you want one, wearing blue and orange won’t secure said items. I’ve shown up for most batting practices and am told they are out as a whole pile of whatever crap they’re giving away is sitting right next to them.

Tickets:
You should have your tickets already if you plan on attending. If you don’t, and don’t plan on going through one of the wonderful ticket brokers on my sidebar, you’ll be sitting in the upper deck behind the plate or on the first and third base side. Those are terrible seats, and I’ve sat in Shea’s upper tank. The views are obstructed and the row numbers are misleading. If you plan on making this series, cough up the extra dough so you aren’t sitting behind a pole or in the stratosphere.

Plan Ahead:
It may be too late for this year’s series, but next year plan ahead. Register as an Astro fan at the Astro’s website. They’ll send you annoying emails about Astro signings and promotional events but the payoff here is they’ll give you preseason ticket rights. I have either field level or club level seats for each game. Purchasing through these promotional sales for some reason gives you playoff rights. I’ve only bought tickets to the Mets series every year, but when the Astro’s were fighting the Cardinals for the NL Central in 2006, they sold, and then refunded me playoff tickets.

Lodging:
You can tackle this bad boy a number of ways. I’ve tried the Super 8/Holiday Inn route and cabbed it to the games, I’ve tried driving in and paying for parking and either way, you’re going to drop a chunk of change. I recommend the Magnolia (1100 Texas St). Rooms are around $120.00 a night and it’s in walking distance. It’s a very nice hotel with valet parking. The staffs decent, the rooms are large and hi-speed internet equipped. Either way, you’re going to spend the cash, you might as well walk a few blocks and stay in style.

Concession Stand Food:
This is a tricky proposition. The one thing the Texas Rangers do better than the Astros is stadium food, but that’s another story for another post in like 3 years when the Mets come back to Arlington. Minute Maid Park food is for the most part god-awful. Just to avoid confusion, Minute Maid Park went to the trouble of naming their concession stands.

Now if you are reading this and saying “But Dan, I can’t possible enjoy a game without waiting on line for an unacceptable amount of time to purchase overpriced mediocre food served by idiots who can’t make change like at Shea” then, good news for you; the Astros are happy to provide that service for you at no extra charge. If you really like diarrhea, swing by one of these places, you’ll feel at home.

Try to avoid:
Chicken Tenders- Sold in All Aboard Sec. 109- Stay away, it’s tough, over fried, and basically tasteless.
Hotdogs: Union Station- Usually cold frank served on a stale bun. If your pallet is used to Nathan’s Famous, there is no way you’ll enjoy these things.
Pizza- Conductors Hall- It’s not digestible, it’s DiGiorno.

The safe bet:
If you’re going to eat, stick with the BBQ beef sandwiches at the Maverick Smokehouse in sections 125, 409 and 427. Texans can’t eff up barbeque. The Nachos aren’t bad, but again, it’s hard to screw that up. Why the Astros don’t serve turkey legs is beyond me.

Beer:
Ah, beer. An essential must for a ball game. The beers are pricey ($7.25 to $7.75 last season), but what did you expect? Do yourself a favor, pony up an extra buck and grab a Shiner.

Smoking:
Those of you who know me, know this is a lightning rod of discussion. New York City may be the Baseball Capital of the World, but it’s also the biggest nanny city in the world. However, fear not, you are in the Republic of Texas. Smoking is allowed in designated areas on all decks. Most areas provide TV’s so if your smoke break runs a little long you won’t miss a pitch. Smoke’em if you’ve got em!

The Stadium:
If you can manage to score tickets anywhere other than the third deck, watching a game in Minute Maid is a real treat. Texas summers are very hot and Houston summers are very humid. Fortunately, someone in Houston thought ahead and designed Minute Maid with a retractable roof so you can enjoy games in 75 degree weather. I suppose they might play some games with the roof open, but I’ve never been to one. Minute Maid is a very pretty ballpark. Other than the dreaded third deck, there are some other obstructed views like on the first base side of club level. From there you can’t see deep centerfield, which doesn’t seem like a big deal until your centerfielder climbs the ridiculous hill out there and makes a game saving catch. Bottom line is that Minute Maid Park is a beautiful stadium, and the energy inside the place is well worth the visit.

After the Game:
I haven’t really branched out and explored the options in this field. There is one place I’ve gone to after every Mets victory. The Home Plate Bar and Grill. The prices are kind of high, the service is slow but the feeling of Mets fans packed in an Astro’s bar after vanquishing the opponent has a satisfying sense of conquest.
Home Plate Bar and Grill
1800 Texas Ave
Houston TX 77003
If you are a Houston native or resident and have a better place to dine or have a drink or five, please feel free to add it in the comments section.

Aggies:
There is a high population in the Houston area of a group of people whom refer to themselves as Aggies. You can often spot them wearing maroon and white or, at times, inappropriately dressed in overalls. They’ll have bad haircuts and an unhealthy fetish for collies. I can’t stress this enough, avoid these people. They have nothing useful to add to anything.

I swear to god, that is from something called “Yell Practice”

There you have it folks, everything you need to know about a possible trip to the home of the Houston Astros.

Posted under Uncategorized

Cry Me a River

Some people lose poorly. Those people live in Philadelphia.

NEW YORK – As Jose Reyes circled the bases at Shea Stadium with his right index finger held high in the air after his go-ahead, three-run home run off Ryan Madson on Wednesday night, Phillies broadcaster Larry Andersen suggested on air that one of the team’s pitchers “oughta put one in his neck” for his showmanship.

Evil selfish player

That didn’t happen, but Charlie Manuel acknowledged before yesterday’s game that some members of the team thought Reyes’ display was insulting.
“I look at both sides of that,” Manuel said. “He’s a very talented player and he can be one of the best players in baseball. But at the same time, he’s got some growing to do, and he’s got some learning to do.”

I wonder if there are any other players with any learning to do….

Firey Competitor

Lunchbox player

Well that isn’t at all like what Reyes did right? What a bunch of horseshit. I’m really tired of the whiney criticism from cry babies like the Phillies. We brought this on ourselves when the fan base was hypnotized into the template the New York press laid on Lastings Milledge after the homerun against the Giants.

I really would love to see a brawl next game. If that happens, I think I would watch a replay of it as many times as I’ve watched Game 6 of the 86 series.

Of course then we’d have to hear Philly cry about the headhunting Mets…

Posted under Angry Rant

This post was written by Dan in Texas on July 25, 2008

First Place at Last

Carlos Delgado’s two run double propelled the New York Mets to a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. Less than a month after being left for dead, the Metropolitans seized sole possession of first place in the National League East.

It just felt really good to type that. This is the team I know, love and have missed for a year. The division is far from decided at this stage and the Phillies are still a very dangerous team, but the past three games have made a clear statement to the rest of the league: the Mets not a team to be taken lightly.

What a difference a Month Makes

June 24:
Record: 37-39 .487 Third place 4 games back
Last game: L SEA 11-0
Lonestar Met quote: “I hate baseball”

July 24:
Record55-47 .539 First place +1
Last game: W PHI 3-1
Lonestar Met quote: “I love baseball”

Game ball to Ollie P. Another big performance in another big game.

What in the world has gotten into Carlos Delgado? I’m sure I wasn’t alone a month ago thinking he was done and eyeing a deadline deal for Mark Teixeira. It would be delusional to think Delgado is going to keep this up all year, but proving he is capable to produce at this level makes him dangerous.

Speaking of Delusional:
From MLB.com

As the injuries continue to mount and his schizophrenic team continues to provide at least enough reason to keep playoff hopes alive, there’s reason to wonder if Frank Wren truly is going through a prolonged hazing process that precedes his initiation back into the fraternity of general managers.

While accepting the unenviable task of succeeding the ever-successful John Schuerholz, Wren has been forced to call more audibles than Matt Ryan will ever have to in Atlanta. The list of projected starting pitchers that he carried into this season looks similar to the list of disabled players that seemingly only gets longer and more distinguished as the season progresses. [ed note: so is my Johnson]

With this in mind, would it have been too much for the Braves to at least assume some type of identity by now? One week before the July 31 Trade Deadline, Wren doesn’t know if he’ll be a buyer or a seller.

A lot depends on how the Braves fare while playing a three-game series against the Phillies in Philadelphia this weekend. With Chipper Jones questionable with a strained left hamstring, a much-needed series sweep seems unlikely.

But the fact that such a sweep would drastically change where the Braves stand in the postseason hunt prevents Wren from definitively knowing whether he’ll be selling Mark Teixeira or buying a player like Pirates outfielder Jason Bay with the intention of matching his power bat with Teixeira’s during the season’s final two months.

Dear Frank Wren,

You’re a seller. You are six and a half back and in fourth place. It’s unlikely you will leapfrog 3 teams in your own division. You are 10 games out of the Wild Card. You are under .500 for cripes sake. You are not one player away. Trade Teixeira and bring back some pitching. If you think you are raising the price with this, you’re fooling no one. The 90s are over. You had a good run. Time to rebuild.

Hugs and Kisses,

Lonestar Mets

p.s. Chipper smells

Crazy people aside, I remember Tex’s Ranger years and all the discussion of moving him to a corner outfield slot and find myself wondering it that is actually feasible. Tex is a wonderful defensive first baseman and it would be a shame to play a less capable player in that position, but let’s face it, the odds are Delgado’s production falls off or at least declines. It would be nice to have that option. Let’s face reality; if they’re thinking they’re on the fence, they likely overvalue Tex. He’ll cost a fortune for a two month rental. Honestly, if the Mets have to dip into the farm system, a smarter pick up would be Xavier Nady.

As a side note, Tex has a clubhouse reputation ranging anywhere from uptight to difficult to a real douche. I can’t believe there hasn’t been an incident over the past year involving him and some combination of Chipper and Smoltz.

Now lets go whip LaRussa.

Posted under Post Game

This post was written by Dan in Texas on July 24, 2008

Nauseous

Sorry I’m late on posting today, last night’s game left me literally nauseous. What a waste of a great Johan start. The pen couldn’t get three stinking outs.

As, I wrote yesterday, a Mets sweep would do much to remove the word “collapse” from the Met fan’s vernacular. Last night’s loss just highlighted it.

I’m trying not to get too worked up, the Mets are still a game out of first, though they were 3 outs away from taking the division lea…nevermind. Spilled milk. Whatever. Swallow it and move on…

Johnny Maine looks to stop a personal slide tonight and pull the Mets even. Don’t eat a big meal.

Posted under Post Game

This post was written by Dan in Texas on July 23, 2008

Showdown at Shea

In the standings, this three game series with the Phillies isn’t that essential. If either team takes two of three, the victor is only a game over the loser. Even if one team were to sweep, the victor would only hold a three game advantage. Regardless of the outcome of the Mets-Phillies series, the NL East is far from decided.

This series is important to both teams. The Phillies have been playing poorly, and need to prove they are the “team to beat” in the East. The Mets have been hot, despite splitting a four game stint with the Reds. The Mets are looking to prove their 10 game win streak was more than a fluke.

Game 1: Blanton vs. Johan

Tonight, Philly newcomer Joe Blanton takes the hill against the Mets staff ace in Johan Santana. This is what Santana was brought to Queens to do. Take the ball at the beginning of an important series and set the tone. The deciding factor will be New York’s bats cooperation. With Billy Wagner day to day and questionable, a big lead is essential.

Game 2: Brett Myers vs. John Maine

Johnny needs a solid outing after mediocre performances of late. I see John coming up big in this one against the wife beater and poster boy of Philadelphia, Brett Meyers. This man scares me not. Meyers is back to the bigs after a swim through the minors. If the Mets hit him early, Maine should have more than enough runs to work with.

Game 3: Jamie Moyer vs. Oliver Perez

I haven’t the slightest idea. Who knows what Perez is going to bring to the mound. If he gets squeezed or frustrated, he can load the bases on twelve consecutive pitches. Of course he could show up with good velocity and electric breaking stuff. Who knows with Ollie. For the Phils, I don’t know what it is about this flipping 45 year old that is so frustrating (lifetime vs. Mets, 7-4, 2.95, but still). Even if Ollie goes 7 allowing 2 or 3, it may be another maddening loss with great pitching and no offense.

Just my two cents, the best thing possible of course would be a Mets sweep. Not only would it give the Mets a three game lead in the East, it would facilitate the removal of the term “collapse” out of Mets fan’s vernacular.

Oh, BTW, Shockey for a fifth and sixth round pick? WTF?

Posted under Johan Santana

This post was written by Dan in Texas on July 22, 2008