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Showing posts from December 4, 2005

Minutiae Break: The Bowl of Soup Mets

So Roberto Hernandez walks off into the Mets sunset to Pittsburgh, though not by his choice, since team management decided it could live without him. Age couldn't have been the reason, since based on the signing of Julio Franco, they're willing to shell out the dough for the aged.

Hernandez had a good season for the Mets in 2005. It was a really good season, one that far exceeded expectations. You could count his bad outings on two hands, which isn't bad for a guy that pitched 67 times and was only charged with runs on 12 occasions. I talked to a couple of people this season (not Mets fans) who disliked Roberto Hernandez for one reason or another, but as much as they tried, they couldn't change my opinion that he was legitimately one of the team MVPs.

Sitting here on a Friday night with nothing better to do, it got me to thinking about others whose Metsy days lasted only a single season. I wrote a couple of pieces for New York Mets Inside Pitch titled "Mets for a Mi…

Needle in the Haystack

So I just spent the past hour and 15 minutes searching for games in which newest Met Julio Franco got a walk-off RBI. It was not an easy process by any means, combing thru a few hundred Retrosheet boxscores and Lexis-Nexis stories before I hit paydirt.

I think the most important thing I learned from this is that Julio Franco has played a lot of baseball. And I don't use the term "a lot" loosely.

In 1982, Franco's rookie season, he played in games in which megastars Mike Schmidt and Pete Rose had walk-off hits. Later in his career, he appeared in contests in which not-so-immortals Doug Frobel and Jerry Willard had their walk-off moments in the sun. He hit two home runs in a Nolan Ryan no-hitter. He's been on dreadfully bad teams (like the 1985 Indians), reasonably average squads (pick a Rangers team from 1990 to 1993), and pretty good clubs (the 2001-2004 Braves)., though he's yet to appear in a World Series. He has played as little as one game in a season (199…

Jose Can You See

Being perceived as blog-troversial is kind of a new thing for me, but apparently I am after I (gasp) had good things to say about Paul Lo Duca. I wonder what the reaction is going to be when I make nice regarding the signing of Jose Valentin.

This one's a little harder, because the guy is a career .241 hitter, whose closest comparable at the plate, Mets-wise, is Dave Kingman. But by all accounts, Valentin is a much better person than King Kong. He was nominated by the White Sox for the Roberto Clemente Award in each of of his last four seasons with the team, and has his own charitable foundation to raise money for low-income children with special health needs.

Of course that's not necessarily important to those who flock here wanting to know how the latest Mets acquisitions will help the team win 130 games this season, but I place some value in inhabiting a clubhouse with good people. There's only so much goodwill that you can tolerate with a Mendoza-line batting average, I …

'Rud Awakening

I think I've read it elsewhere (another blog, perhaps), or at least heard it said that the best compliment you could pay a baseball player is to say "He played the game the way it should be played."

John Olerud retired yesterday, a move that will get little attention because his credentials don't quite match the potential of those making news at the Winter Meetings in Dallas. Olerud finished with 2,239 career hits, a .295 batting average and a place in the immortal pantheon of "Really good players who weren't quite Hall-of-Fame caliber, but whose accomplishments we appreciate nonetheless."

Olerud was a Met for three seasons and was best known for his clutch hitting, great glovework and quiet professional demeanor. Some say that the 1999 Mets were better than the 2000 squad because the former had Olerud's presence and the latter had the ever-too-patient Todd Zeile as his replacement. Some said the Mets should have offered him more money before he bolte…

The 'Duca of Earl (and walk-offs)

If I told you that the Mets had just obtained a guy who is a career .316 hitter with runners in scoring position? How about if I told you that the Mets just traded for a hitter who has consistently ranked among the toughest in baseball to strike out? Or if I mentioned that the Mets just dealt for a player who was selected to the NL All-Star team the last three seasons, with the last honor coming via a vote by his peers?

So, although he's on the down side age wise, his throwing arm isn't as good as it used to be, and he doesn't provide much power, there are a lot of good things that Paul Lo Duca brings to the New York Mets. For example:

He'll sacrifice his body for the good of the team

The Dodgers and Braves squared off on August 23, 2002 and Lo Duca made an impact both on the start and finish of this game. Three pitches after being dusted by Greg Maddux, Lo Duca made him pay with a first-inning home run. The Braves rallied to tie the game, 3-3 in the ninth, but their bull…