Results tagged ‘ Phillies ’

Why Zack Wheeler will not pitch for the Mets in April

Mets manager Terry Collins reiterated Tuesday that despite all the injuries to the rotation, Zack Wheeler is not a consideration to slide into the Opening Day rotation.

“There’s a reason why we sent him out,” Collins said. “He needs to go to Triple-A. He needs to face hitters in Triple-A. … He needs to go work on his stuff, and he needs to be able to do what he did toward midseason [last year], and that is pound the strike zone. Thus far, in the games he’s thrown over there, they said he’s been a little wild.”


The unspoken reason, of course, is service time. Should Wheeler accrue enough of it to become a Super Two player after the 2015 season, he would suddenly become eligible for free agency after the 2018 season as opposed to 2019 — at a time when the Mets could be highly competitive.

What’s more, Super Two status would give Wheeler four years of arbitration eligibility as opposed to the usual three. Should he develop into the type of ace that everyone expects, that would ultimately cost the Mets million of dollars and increase their starting point for free agency negotiations (which, of course, would begin a full year sooner). It’s an escalating factor, because arbitration salaries are based heavily upon what players made the previous year.

A prime example is Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, who made $4.2 million as a Super Two player in 2009. By his fourth year of arbitration eligibility he was up to $15 million, blowing away MLB’s previous arbitration record. He and the Phillies then had a higher number to use as a reference when Hamels signed a $144-million megadeal last summer.

In other words, starting Wheeler in April as opposed to June could damage the team’s future payroll flexibility, at a time when they might otherwise be highly competitive in the free-agent market. The counterargument is that increased ticket sales in April and May would make up some of that money. The reality is that they would not come close.

It’s an awfully high cost for a team projected to lose close to 100 games, just for a few extra starts from Wheeler — who may not be 100 percent big league-ready anyway — in 2013. So criticize the Mets for being cheap on numerous occasions over the past few years if you want, but do not blame them for it here. This move is not cheap; it’s simply prudent.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Phillies’ Ruiz talks Dickey, knuckleballs

With the news that R.A. Dickey will not start Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Kansas City came the revelation that Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz will be Dickey’s batterymate when he finally does enter. Here are Ruiz’s thoughts on baseball’s most enigmatic pitch:

Thoughts on catching the knuckleball?
“I don’t think I’ll have trouble. I can handle that. We are going to play long toss today and see how it moves. But I don’t think it’s going be a problem.”

Have you ever caught a knuckleballer before?
“I did in Triple-A. A kid named [Jared] Fernandez. … I remember a little bit.”

Have you talked to Dickey about it?
“Yeah, we talked on the bus. He said he has his own glove. I’m going to see it today.”

Can it give you an advantage the next time you face him?
“No man, he’s tough. If you’re catching, it’s okay. But if you hit, it’s the same thing. That ball is moving so much.”

Would you rather catch or it hit?
“Catch it. He has a good knuckleball. It moves a lot.”

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo

Mets hit Papelbon again (and again and again)

The Mets’ furious rally against Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning Thursday was just the latest in a string of successes versus Papelbon dating back to 2009, when he was closing out games for the Red Sox. Remember these?

The date: May 23, 2009
The hero: Omir Santos
The situation: Coming off a disastrous trip to Los Angeles and battling injuries to key players including Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Church and Francisco Rodriguez, the Mets found themselves trailing the Red Sox by a run in the ninth. But with a man on base, Santos hit a line drive off Papelbon that clanged off Fenway Park’s Green Monster for an apparent double. Umpires reviewed the play and minutes later, called it a homer. J.J. Putz mowed down the Sox in the bottom of the ninth to close out the victory.
The quote: “A lot of things were going through my mind. I knew I hit it well. If it was going to be the big hit of the game? I couldn’t even express how I was feeling at second base, waiting for the call.” –Santos

The date: May 7, 2012
The hero: Jordany Valdespin
The situation: Valdespin began his Mets career 0-for-6, looking overly aggressive and lost at the plate. But with two men on base in a tie game in the ninth, Valdespin walloped a Papelbon fastball into right-center field for a game-winning homer. After Frank Francisco closed out the Phillies in the ninth, Valdespin’s teammates soaked him with beer in a postgame celebration.
The quote: “He is an extremely talented young player. He’s just so athletic. I know that he’ll handle himself great. If he plays the way he’s been playing since he’s been here, and the way he’s handled himself, he’s got a chance to be here for a while.” –Mets manager Terry Collins

The date: July 5, 2012
The hero: David Wright
The situation: It may not actually be fair to call Wright the hero in this one. Ike Davis set up the winning rally by doubling off Papelbon to lead off the ninth, with the Mets trailing by a run. Then, with two outs, Valdespin, Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy all submitted tremendous at-bats, fouling off pitches and taking others for balls. After Papelbon plunked Valdespin and walked Tejada, Murphy hit a game-tying single off Papelbon’s glove. Wright then ended things with a bloop single to right.
The quote: “I had the worst at-bat out of everybody in that inning. More lucky than anything, but I was glad to get the opportunity because the guys in front of me had some incredible at-bats.” –Wright

In case you were wondering, Papelbon has now faced the Mets eight times in his career. The numbers: 0-3, 1 save, 2 blown saves, 7.0 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 9.00 ERA.

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo

Twenty-one percent of the time, it works every time

The web site calculates the odds that any big league team will make the playoffs, based upon both current record and past performance.

The bad news for the Mets? Heading into Wednesday’s play, coolstandings estimated there’s only a 21.9 percent chance the Mets will make the postseason.

The good news? It’s not as scientific as it seems. Coolstandings bases its calculations partly upon current record, partly upon comparative run differential. (For example: if Team X averages 5.5 runs per game and Team Y averages 4.5 runs allowed, then Team X can expect to score an average of five runs per game against Team Y. Dig?)

The calculations provide a nice glimpse into a team’s chances, but little else. They don’t take into account, for example, the fact that the Mets should get Carlos Beltran back after the All-Star break, or that they may not continue to receive routinely stellar outings from R.A. Dickey.

But the web site is, as the name suggests, pretty cool. For the record, coolstandings predicts that the Mets will win the division 15.4 percent of the time, the Wild Card 6.5 pecent of the time. The Braves, who have the top run differential in the division, are predicted to make the playoffs 54.3 percent of the time. The Phillies? Just a 27.8 percent chance.

So again, take all that with a sizable grain of salt.


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