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Game Notes from Yesterday and Today

Mike SteffanosSaturday, March 10, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

Just some quick observations on yesterday's pitchers vs the Tigers:

John Maine pitched 3 scoreless innings. Interestingly enough, he seemed to have somewhat better command of his changeup, which he used often and to good effect, than his fastball, which he had some difficulty keeping down in the zone. I was impressed with his off-speed stuff, and the fact that he could pitch three scoreless without his best fastball is a testament to how far he's come as a pitcher.

For Philip Humber, it was a tale of two innings. He struggled through a bad fourth inning where he looked out of synch with everything he was throwing. He walked a couple of guys and gave up a homerun. He came back out for the fifth inning and reminded everyone why the Mets think so highly of him, pitching a 1-2-3 inning and striking out a couple. Humber's longshot candidacy for the rotation is on life support, but you still have to like his chances to help the club at some point this season.

Billy Wagner walked one batter in one scoreless inning of work.

Aaron Heilman didn't look quite as bad as his pitching line would indicate (1IP, 3H, 2BB, 4ER), but it was certainly not a stellar performance.

Jon Adkins gave up a pair of runs in 2 innings worked. He wasn't awful, but he's doing nothing to win a job. It will be interesting to see what they decide to do with him, as he has no remaining options and would have to clear waivers to be sent down.

Today's game against the Nationals just went into extra innings. I've been listening to it on radio. Here are a few notes:

Oliver Perez seems to have taken another step forward with this game. Keeping in mind that the Nats aren't Murderer's Row offensively, Perez breezed through 3 quick innings. He got some ground balls and seemed to be keeping the ball down fairly well. He allowed a run in the fourth and seemed to be losing his control a little, but got out of it with the one earned run in 4 innings. Not a bad effort.

Ambiorix Burgos allowed a hit in one scoreless inning of relief. He struck out one. Pedro Feliciano also pitched a scoreless inning in relief.

Alay Soler inherited a 6-1 lead, and was absolutely terrible. Last year he got himself into trouble when he wasn't aggressive in the strike zone. For the most part he avoided that this spring, but he was bad today. He was supposed to finish the last 3 innings today, but after being rather lucky in only giving up a run in his first inning of work, he was unable to retire a batter in the second. He allowed 4 runs on 2 hits and 4 BBs in his inning+ of work. While everyone is entitled to a bad outing, I would have rather seen him get beat on hits than walks. It reminded me of the way he gave up that game to the Yankees in his last start for the Mets.

Minor leaguers Clint Nageotte and Eddie Camacho combined to allow the Nationals to tie the game in the ninth and then win it in the tenth. A somewhat disheartening loss, even if it was only a spring training game. Encouraging effort by Perez, though.

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Comments (5)

You know something, I keep telling everyone not to sleep on Soler, and then he reminds me why nobody liked him in the first place. He seems to have no confidence in his own stuff and can't trust the defense to make plays for him. With that kind of mentality, he doesn't have a future on an MLB squad.

However, I'm becoming more and more excited about Lastings Milledge. He's proven that he deserves Green's job. Everything points to him being a stud, but everything pointed to Butch Huskey being a stud, so I guess we'll just see what happens. Even though it's only Spring Training, he's given every indication that he's a bigtime player with all the tools necessary to do well.

John Maine has simply been the most impressing performer in the pitching staff this spring. And while we all know Phil Humber is destined to start in New Orleans, I would like to see him pick it up in his last few ST starts to leave a good impression on the big club and his own mind. Oliver Perez still has me wondering what we'll really get from the guy come April. Alay Soler, despite his poor outing today, should be given a little slack for his first bad outing. He may still be useful for this team either in the pen, as a spot starter or in a trade.

Wagner needs only for the season to start. But we do need to see something better from Heilman in light of the Sanchez fiasco. He will once again be tapped to be the premiere setup man until Sanchez is healthy and Mota returns from suspension. The mental lapses and crying over not being a starter have to stop. And as good as Burgos has looked, he remains an unknown commodity for this team until we see him produce at Shea.

All in all the pitching staff has been impressive. And based on what they've shown, we can expect them to do exactly what Minaya intended when he put this staff together. No one expects dominance, but a steady diet of 3-4 runs allowed per night should keep this team in or near first place. The rest of the spring should be about mastering the art of consistency for everyone on the team.

It still seems the guys we thought a few months ago would be on the Opening Day roster are on track. As for today's game, I left it at 5-1 Mets after 5 innings, and when I left work and heard the final score, I'll confess I let loose a few F-bombs. My first guess was that Burgos fell apart, but lo, not so! My blood pressure actually went down when I got home and read it was Soler who caved, and some guys named Nageotte and Camacho who allowed the tying and winning runs. These three won't be anywhere near Shea anytime soon, but needed to get their work in.

Like Matt, I'm really pulling for LM. Salman, ultra-Mets dittos to everything you said.

Matt - It looked like Soler had really turned a corner heading this spring, but he really looked bad today. Milledge looks good this spring, but Shawn Green had a nice couple of days and is looking better at the plate. I wouldn't bury him yet.
Salman - I'm really liking what I've seen from Maine so far. Perez has shown something, too. If those 2 can have solid years, I really like our chances. Still, it's early.
geezer - It was disappointing to see Soler regress like that, but you're right, everyone who performed badly today is likely to be in New Orleans in April.

I think the one thing people tend to forgot is in spring training pitchers will often toe the rubber with a plan of only throwing a certain pitch or trying something they wouldn't or haven't normally done. They aren't always out there throwing their full arsenal, or doing the things to win games. Sometimes it's about experimenting, some experiments work, other don't. I've seen a pitcher go to the mound in the spring and wonder why he threw 70% curve balls and read the next day he was trying a new grip or felt he hasn't been getting it over right so wanted to throw it a lot to work on it. I wouldn't be surprised to see Pelfrey through nothing but his secondary pitches one outting soon knowing his fastball is working and needing to work on the others more.

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