By Mike Steffanos
Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there, including mine.
As I mentioned previously, I wasn't able to watch most of last night's game live because we celebrated Lisa's birthday last night. I DVRed the game and watched most of it later on, paying particular attention to Jeremi Gonzalez' 5+ innings. I appreciated the fact that he didn't mess around, pounding the strike zone repeatedly and giving his team a chance to win the game. That was pretty much all you could expect from a journeyman pitcher with one decent season since 2000. You could see Gonzalez going out there on a day when his location was off and getting severely pounded as hitters sit on the fastball he throws over 90% of the time, so he certainly offers no long-term solution. Still, his performance would have to elevate him over Jose Lima.
Gonzalez had to be nervous yesterday, but that only seemed to add a couple of miles per hour to his fastball. He pitched rapidly, and when he occasionally got squeezed by the umpire he didn't let it bother him, simply coming back with another strike. It was less painful to watch than Lima nibbling repeatedly at the corners and becoming disconcerted by any call he doesn't get. So although I don't entertain long-term fantasies of Gonzalez becoming this year's Aaron Small, I think he's the best choice to take the next outing as fifth starter.
MLB likes to talk about the "integrity" of their umpiring crew, and then we see a situation like Fielder's "homer" last night. First base umpire Ted Barrett was closest to the play, clearly saw it correctly and indicated the ball was a fair ball in play. Then home plate umpire and major dickhead Tim Tschida overruled him, obviously incorrectly. But when all the idiots confer, they all say they say they saw it as Tschida did, even though the replay clearly showed it was a stupid call. Integrity? No, just covering their asses. Shame on all of you.
Daily News: Mike Pelfrey
It used to be rare to find a story about a minor-league prospect in the papers. Nowadays, top prospects like Mike Pelfrey and Lastings Milledge draw more ink than quite a few of the guys on the major league roster. However, Eric Barrow offers up a truly worthwhile, in-depth profile of Pelfrey that goes beyond what you usually see, offering an interesting glimpse into the young phenom as both a person and a ballplayer.
Of course, we've all heard the speculation that Pelfrey will be pitching for the Mets this season. It's a lot to put on a first-year pro, but he seems to have a good attitude about things:
I never feel pressure. I go out there and there's nothing to be worried about. I always tell myself wherever I'm at, I'm here for a reason. I'm not stressed to be here and I've been given God-given ability to do a lot of things. I just need to go out and do it. Just got to put it all together. ... You can say whatever you want, it's not going to affect me.
You have to roll with adversity, if you can't handle criticism, you're going to fail. It's about turning the page. If something bad happens, turn the page.
Omar Minaya will have the final say regarding Pelfrey, and he promises that his decision will not be forced by the Mets current problems with the rotation:
We're not counting on Mike Pelfrey helping us out in '06. Nothing that happens (with the Mets) will force our hand with him, only his performance will force our hand to move him up.
Mets.com: Bannister takes first step back
Joe DiGiovanni reports that Brian Bannister pitched five innings in a simulated game yesterday, and looked good. The team will evaluate how he feels in the day or two after his effort to decide what the next step will be. DiGiovanni also reports that right-handed reliever Bartolome Fortunato will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery, a year after missing a full season following back surgery.
Surfing the Mets: Rubin's Minor League Report
In his weekly Minor League Report on his excellent Daily News blog, Adam Rubin offers his regular weekly update on happenings in the Mets' farm system, including a good profile of pitcher Evan MacLane. He also mentions that the Mets top position prospect is undergoing some recent struggles at Norfolk after a blazing hot start:
Lastings Milledge’s batting average has dropped 79 points in two weeks. Milledge, in a 7-for-46 funk, is now hitting .291 for Norfolk.
One of the reasons player development people hate to rush prospects through the system is that they want to see how they bounce back from adversity such as slumps. I remember following him last year when Milledge began the season in High-A St. Lucie. He got off to a brutal start, mostly due to some nagging injuries. He bounced back and had a great year that only raised his stock as a prospect, but his early year struggles actually caused some "experts" to downgrade him at the time.