By Mike Steffanos
After taking advantage of some sloppy play by the young Marlins yesterday, the Mets return home to face a veteran club, the Arizona Diamondbacks. The D-backs, who suffered through a 77-85 season in 2005, have looked good early in 2006. They're sitting 9 games over .500 at 29-20, and are currently in first in the resurgent NL western division. They've got a couple of good young player in 3B Chad Tracy and 1B Conor Jackson. They've got some veterans who are playing over their heads in the early going, including OF Sean Green (.335 in 2006, .284 lifetime), OF Eric Byrnes (.322 2006, .264 lifetime), 2B Craig Counsell (.306, .263). They've ridden a hot start from ace Brandon Webb, though none of their other starters have consistently shone, and they've had pretty good bullpen work. Their closer, Jose Valverde, already has 14 saves in 16 opportunities, but has given up 7 ER in his last 4 appearances, oddly enough, he has a win, 2 saves and a loss to show for this bad pitching.
The Diamondbacks have the look of a team that is playing a little over their heads right now, and will be facing the inconsistent Steve Trachsel and rookie Alay Soler in the first two games. When they face Pedro Wednesday, they will counter with the 8-0 Brandon Webb. This series will be an interesting challenge for the Mets, who are still struggling to maintain a consistent offensive approach while maneuvering for consistency in the bottom of their rotation. I'm tired of saying that it's time for Trachsel to step up, but it's overdue. Seeing Soler a second time should give us some sort of idea what he might be at this stage of his career.
The Mets have been good at home, 16-8 so far this season. Arizona is no slouch as a road team, however, sitting at 12-11 currently after a 41-40 record away from Chase Field in 2005.
New York Post: One Duke to another
Mark Hale quotes Paul Lo Duca on what he thought of Orlando Hernandez after catching him yesterday:
I've never faced him, but you don't see the ball too well off him. He's got that leg kick and he hides the ball really well, and he throws you that sweeping slider and it's tough. You've got to sit on one or the other, so you've got to try to outguess him. But when he's throwing strikes, he's tough.
In the post-game show yesterday, Lo Duca said that Hernandez told him before the game that his slider was the one pitch he could always throw for strikes, yet that was the pitch he struggled to get over early in the game.
Daily News: Pedro Beato
At the bottom of this column, Adam Rubin mentions Pedro Beato, who the Mets drafted in the 17th round last year:
Mets were in serious negotiations with the adviser for Xaverian High product Pedro Beato last night, hoping to sign the 19-year-old pitcher, drafted in the 17th round last year, before today's 11:59 p.m. deadline.
If the Mets don't sign Beato, he is projected as a mid-first round pick in this year's draft. Since the Mets lost their first-round pick as compensation to the Phillies for signing Wagner, it would make sense for the team to offer Beato first-round money and get him signed before midnight. Of course, the kid's reps know this, too, and they might be asking for more than the Mets feel he's worth. I haven't heard anything on this yet.
Metstradamus: No tears for Florida
Metstradamus has a good point here on why he doesn't feel sorry for the Marlins and their fans:
It's easy to be jealous that the Marlins, a team that's been around 13 years have as many World Series as a team that's been out there for 45 seasons. But that's due to getting great prospects from fire sale number one (A.J. Burnett for Al Leiter...Juan Pierre for Gary Sheffield by way of Mike Piazza and Preston Wilson...Derrek Lee for Kevin Brown). And now they have another bumper crop that has arrived with Ramirez and co. But there's another reason to be bitter here (there's always another reason to be bitter).
Where were all the damn prospects coming in return for the Mets' 1993 team?
Good point. Actually, when they tore it down in 2003 they didn't come up with much, either. Of course, they didn't have much to sell -- an over-the-hill Robbie Alomar, a tarnished Armando Benitez that everyone knew the Mets had to dump, and Jeromy Burnitz. None of the players they received in this sell-off -- Royce Ring for Alomar, Victor Diaz for Burnitz, and RHP Anderson Garcia for Benitez -- have done all that much for the Mets. Of course, the Marlins, unlike the Mets, were tearing down a good team.
Still, I made the point to Marlins fans more than once that I don't feel sorry for them. As Metstradamus points out, almost any fan that isn't a Yankees fan would trade the bad years for 2 world series in such a short period of time. Cubs fans would trade them for just one series win.
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin: Pelfrey bounces back
After a pair of difficult starts, Mike Pelfrey pitched a solid game for Binghamton yesterday, allowing only 1 run in 6 innings of work. He struck out 5 and walked 1, and the run he gave up came on a solo home run.
ESPN: Carlos y Carlos
Enrique Rojas reports on how Carlos Delgado has helped Carlos Beltran and the team.