Chuck 'n' Duck

"I'm a very optimistic person. When you're optimistic, the good opportunities, good fortune, good everything will come with it." - Jae Seo Chuck 'n' Duck: the New York Mets from an Eternal Optimist's P.O.V.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Chuck 'n' Duck is on vacation until July 31st, just in time to avoid all insane trade rumors and public backlash when Lastings Milledge and Yusmeiro Petit are suddenly turned into a middle reliever.

Nah, I'm just playing. Upcoming Series: Astros Pitchers found here.

Enjoy your weekend.

Monday, July 25, 2005

New York Mets Menu

In the spirit of New York, I offer up to you what I offer up to Omar: a most original way of taking care of trades. As anyone who has eaten Chinese food in the past can tell you (and seeing that most of you are probably from New York, I am assuming this is the majority), you're always given the option of choosing from a Column A and a Column B. So, because trade talk is minimal and the ball needs to get rolling while the Mets are still hot, I present: the New York Mets Menu.



Column A
-------------
Marlon Anderson
Miguel Cairo
Mike Cameron
Tom Glavine
Roberto Hernandez
Kazuhisa Ishii
Braden Looper
Doug Mientkiewicz
Chris Woodward
Victor Zambrano


Column B
------------
Aarom Baldiris
Brian Bannister
Ambiorix Concepcion
Danny Graves
Aaron Heilman
Mike Jacobs
Chase Lambin
Yusmeiro Petit
Corey Ragsdale
Royce Ring
Jae Seo



All Star Feast
This is what if offered up for your future All-Star player. For the likes of the Next Big Thing (Teixeira, Dunn), you can choose two from Column A, and two from Column B. We do not accept damaged goods.

Mid-Level Buffet
If we're taking on contract (Griffey, Kent) or we know you don't want your guy all that much anymore (Soriano, Lowell), you eat here. You get one from Column A and two from Column B, but you don't get to pick at will. Also, if you're offering up a mid-level player (Overbay, Casey) or top prospects (Conor Jackson), you'll find yourself eating here as well. We reserve the right to turn down any and all requests.

Stretch Run Supper
We're looking for some help, but they don't have to be guys we're interested in keeping for the long term (Baez, Mesa). Unproven players (Adrian Gonzalez) find themselves here as well. You choose one from Column A or two from Column B, no mixing and matching. The same reservation carries over from Meal 2.

*Cash Chow*
The almighty dollar, and we have tons of it. If, at any time, you're looking not to eat from Column B, and would instead be interested in this option, let us know at any time. Also, feel free to inquire about our Kazuo Matsui.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Cursory Look at the Leaderboard

Don't go rushing to check the standings so quick, because you don't want to awake the post All Star Mets jinx, but in case you haven't looked lately there's some interesting things going on. For instance, the Mets are in third place. They've passed not one but two teams. Also, the Mets have a better record than the Chicago Cubs by one game. "Wait, you mean the same Chicago Cubs ESPN talks about every freakin' night as the best chance to win the Wild Card? Those Cubs?" Yes, that's right. The Mets are, right now, a better team than them. And with those Washington Nationals hurtling down, down, down the standings -- and with series against the 49-46 Astros and the 54-42 Braves coming up, we may just see a second place Mets team in the coming week.

And let us not forget, with the Yankees bullpen collapse tonight, the Mets are only 2.5 games behind the Yanks. Not that it really has any bearing on our season, but come on, who would have ever thought we'd see that come July 22nd?

And now, the hapless Dodgers come to town! Optimism abound! So, check out my Upcoming Series report on the Los Angeles Dodgers, and see why I pick the Mets to go 1-2 this weekend!

Really!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Awful Ishii

Chris Russo: Ishii's pitching tomorrow against Peavy, that's a tough matchup. Is he on a short leash right now or not?

Willie Randolph: Well, to be honest, he is. He probably is. I just hope we can score some runs for him, because I think Ishii, outside of one or two bad innings, has pitched okay for us. Better than his record indicates. But, yeah, with Trachsel coming back and the fact that Jae Seo is still throwing the ball pretty well -- outside of his last start, that wasn't too nice -- but, yeah, I think it's pretty safe to say that Ishii is going to have to give us a strong start tomorrow.

That was yesterday on Mike and the Mad Dog's interview with Willie Randolph. Listening to it, I found myself wondering why Randolph keeps covering for this guy. He's pitched okay for us? Better than his record indicates? The guy is averaging five runs a game. CBS's Player Rankings currently has him listed as the 170th best starting pitcher, out of a pool of 204. Of guys who are everyday starters only Eric Milton, Zack Greinke, Kirk Reuter and Joel Pineiro are considered worse -- and there's no Met fan on Earth that wouldn't take one of those guys over Ishii in a heartbeat.

Ishii's like a bandaid and Randolph and Minaya are like four year old kids with a skinned knee. For the past three and a half months, both have been sllloooowwwwwllllyyyyy pulling Ishii off the collective leg of the New York Mets. And every once and awhile, they change their mind because it hurts, and try to reattach him. Over and over again they've done this, to the point that Ishii has completely worn out his use.

Perhaps today, around 12:45, is the time where they just rip the sucker off. He's long since outlived his purpose and there's nice, new, fresh band-aids to slap on (Heilman, Seo, Trachsel eventually).

The big problem with Ishii seems to be that whenever his back is to the wall and he's about to get the boot from the rotation, he wriggles off the hook. He turns in a credible enough performance to earn himself another two starts in which he promptly gives up ten runs. Each.

As a Met fan, you have to hope for a win, especially when there's a chance to sweep and the Mets keep climbing upward in this ever tight NL East.

But I find I can't deny that there's a part of me that hopes Ishii goes out there today and gets bombed. Realistically speaking, I had already long assumed that there was no shot at beating Jake Peavy, even when Victor Zambrano was going out there, so it's not as though I expected the Mets to come out of this with a win anyways. I suppose the best case scenario is that Ishii gives up seven runs and the Mets score nine for the win. That way, the Mets get the "W" and Ishii gets the ever elusive kick to the curb.

Until then, let's wave goodbye to that phenomenal After the All Star Break Starter's ERA everybody had been talking about recently. Thanks again, Ishii.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Baby Steps

David Wright hit fifth tonight, in a lineup that included Mike Piazza.

Let's have a moment here.

Kaz Ishii is starting on Thursday.

You can give that moment back now.

As Lee Jenkins showed yesterday, the Mets are a .500 team through and through. Apparently, Willie feels the need to go .500 in baseball decisions as well. There's a few things in this world I just can't comprehend: like math or how people can enjoy listening to Good Charlotte. But one of the big ones is how Ishii, as close to a guaranteed loss as there is in the NL -- now that Leiter's gone (wink wink) -- continues to somehow get Major League starts. Two months ago I could concede, thinking that possibly Omar was forcing Willie to use him in order to trade him off. But after Ishii went on his string of deplorable, bullpen-taxing starts, you'd imagine the market has run dry and it would be time to cut bait. Apparently, this is not so.

I continue to have this inexplicable faith in Willie Randolph, however. My faith, my trust, my overpowering will to believe lies in the hope that he knows what he's doing is wrong, but he's playing it safe in his first year in order to keep everybody happy. That this was a team that he inherited from a previous regime, and he's just trying to do his best to keep from rocking the boat. So he strokes the egos of Piazza and Glavine and all the other questionable older players. I tell myself that's why he's so hard on Wright and Reyes, because they're the core, and they'll be around for the winning seasons. I tell myself that when more players come in and replace these veterans, and the front office gets more and more comfortable with Randolph and his way of managing a team, then the true Willie will step forward and start making out a lineup and a rotation and a bullpen where the idea is to win instead of not stepping on anybody's toes.

That's the hope. My best case scenario. Because as Albert Einstein once said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

And I'd feel a lot happier if the manager of my baseball team wasn't certifiable.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Friday, July 15, 2005

Rafael F'N Furcal

I hate Rafael Furcal.

I hate his range. The fact that he manages to get to every single ball hit in his general vicinity. I hate the fact that even if he isn't in the area of where the ball is hit, eight times out of ten he'll get himself there.

I hate his arm. More howitzer than flesh and bone, the ball sails straight as an arrow and guns down seemingly anybody that had the misfortune to hit the ball near him. Even Jose Reyes can't beat out the damn thing, and Reyes needs less time on base like I need a hole in the head.

I hate his bat. Because he's like an older Reyes -- what we should be expecting from Jose two or three years down the line, when he's figured out how to take a walk every once in awhile, and what we should be expecting from Jose when he decides he wants to start swinging for the fences instead of hitting doubles.

I hate his speed. Every time he's on base, it's enough to make everybody remember he's over there and change the way the game had been being played. Apparently it's impossible to pitch at the big league level when a speedy guy is on first. It's even harder when that guy is that sonofabitch Rafael Furcal.

But most of all, I hate him because he's a freakin' Brave. And they always do this. They always lead you right to the brink of contention once a season, show you the possibility of a winning season, of a stretch run... and then snatch it away from you at the last second. And it's guys like Rafael Furcal who've done this for years, that almost get a sick, sadistic joy out of it.

Perhaps I'm over-reacting. There are two more games left, and the plan all along has been to take three games -- that this Glavine game was a throw away game anyway because there was no chance he was winning it. Perhaps tomorrow the Mets will knock around Tim Hudson, and then take advantage of Mike Hampton, preying on their injuries and weaknesses and lead the Mets to a strange new world of competing in the end of July.

Either way, I'll still hate Rafael F'N Furcal.

A New Monster Out of His Cage?

Here's the thing with Carlos Beltran -- the potential to be a great hitter has always been there, it's just that eight years into his big league career he still hasn't figured it out. You may find yourself saying right now, "But, Andrew, we gave this guy 119 million dollars. What do you mean he hasn't figured it out yet?" But it seems to be the truth. Carlos Beltran, for all the pomp and circumstance that surrounds him, has never been an all-out, make-you-salivate, balls-hit-all-over-the-place hitter over the course of the season. What made him so much money this offseason -- that amazing playoff series -- seems to have hurt him the most this season.

You see, when he came over to the Mets, most simply assumed that this play would carry over; that he had reached a higher plane of conciousness and that we were witnessing the next Mickey Mantle. That anticipation of a second coming has definitely worn on Carlos, to the point that most involved with the Mets (players, media, even Willie Randolph) have noted that the guy is pressing extremely hard to try and live up to those unattainable expectations.

Our eleven million dollar centerfielder had become an almost guaranteed out. Popping up first pitches, pulling everything foul down the left field line, and getting on base at a Reyes-ian clip: one could see trouble was a'brewing. His bat speed was undoubtedly still there, but it was as though he forgot how to utilize it. His speed was sapped by a hamstring injury, and that hamstring injury seemed to alter that sweet swing as well. He was a shell of his former self, and we could only watch and wait for him to figure it out.

But, having attended tonight's game, and seeing Carlos Beltran put numerous balls through holes throughout the infield and outfield, it piqued my interest to see what similarities there were between this season and last. Beltran was brought to Houston under much of the same circumstances that he was brought to New York, a then 40-39 team that desperately seeked a speedy, middle of the order hitter to fit around slow players and aging veterans. Beltran, expected to carry the team's offense on his back, started pulling pitches and put up poor numbers with runners in scoring position. Though his power increased -- though how can it not in a park like that? -- most everything else went down. Beltran could still rely on his speed, but his hitting ability seemed to vanish in the Houston air.

Until 333 at-bats in, when all of a sudden a light went on. Beltran was locked and loaded, and crushing everything. He was a one-man hitting machine, and carried the Astros offense almost single-handedly to within one game of the World Series. Either Beltran figured out what was wrong, or he learned to handle the pressure. Either way, Beltran was a hit.

Now, here we are. Beltran, 320 at-bats into this season, is coming off an All-Star appearance where the world saw what we had not up to this point: the real Carlos Beltran -- beating out infield singles and going from first to third on a missed pickoff attempt. Where did this guy come from?

And then the thought dawned on us all: throughout all of his All Star interviews, he had said he was really, truly feeling healthy and looking for a bigger second half. Perhaps this was not just Baseball Player Standard Line 101. Perhaps he was telling the truth! Perhaps he really was healed! That hamstring, like kryptonite to Superman, may finally be 100% and the Mets may finally be in a position where it's a good thing to see Carlos Beltran come to bat.

The first test, of course, would be his first game back. Against a team he killed, ironically enough, in his "Lights On" period last season -- the Braves. And Beltran managed to go 4-4, scoring a run and working honest-to-goodness counts! Sitting in the stands, a smile crept upon my face. You can talk all you want about trading deadline acquisitions. About the Nationals landing Preston Wilson, or the possibility of the Braves getting Huff or the Marlins turning AJ Burnett into three major league starters.

For if the Mets can get Carlos Beltran to re-figure things out, to just relax and let the ball come to him, to have him play at full speed, to live up to that potential that everybody has always spoken of, to have Carlos Beltran circa Playoffs 2004 for the next couple months... then the Mets just made the biggest pickup in the NL East. If not all of baseball.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Hey everybody,

I apologize for taking so much unannounced time off. Originally it was only supposed to be a day or two, but one thing led to another, and because of of work, vacations and the Missus, it ended up being awhile. Anyways, I'll be back -- mostly full-time -- starting tomorrow. If you're looking for something to read, my Upcoming Series preview is over at MetsGeek.com.

I'd like to thank the handful of people who e-mailed, just to make sure I was coming back, and the people who've continued visiting the site even though I hadn't put anything up. I saw minimal drop off, and that meant you all kept taking time out of their day to check back, just in case. So thank you for that.

Anyways, I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully happy after a big Mets win.