Hooray, quasi-real game and boxscore! The Mets sent Ryan Church, Mike Pelfrey, and little else in the way of established talent (note that I'm using the phrase "established talent" loosely here to begin with) to Lakeland yesterday to take on the Tigers, their first non-collegiate opponent of the spring. The Tigers featured their likely opening day lineup sans Gary Sheffield, who we can only assume is busy talking shit about former agent Scott Boras. Sheff was replaced by ex-Met Timo Perez, co-hero of the 2000 NLCS and co-goat of Game 1 of the 2000 World Series.
Pelfrey started the game for the Mets and faced the minimum over two innings of work, allowing one hit -- a single to Magglio Ordonez -- and striking out one. He was said to have stayed ahead of the hitters, falling behind just one of the six batters he faced. With Orlando Hernandez's status for opening day still uncertain due to a laundry list of medical concerns, each solid outing by Pelfrey brings him that much closer to making the team when the regular season opens on March 31.
The Mets are said to be leaning towards carrying twelve pitchers to start the season, given the uncertainty of Pedro Martinez, Hernandez, et cetera, being ready and able to pitch deep into games. If the pitching staff does tally an even dozen, Pelfrey could catch on even if he doesn't land a spot in the starting rotation. I think that he will ultimately find success in the big leagues as a starting pitcher, but it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for him to get his feet wet and build some confidence in the bullpen. Johan Santana, among others, got things rolling as a reliever, so there's plenty of precedent for Pelfrey to do the same.
Matt Wise, Brian Stokes, Pedro Feliciano and Jorge Sosa came on in relief of Pelfrey to pitch a scoreless frame apiece, allowing nary a hit and just three walks over those four innings. Willie Collazo, competing with about fifty other pitchers for a spot in the bullpen, allowed all four Tiger runs on five hits in an inning of work, watching his already slim hopes segue effortlessly into the smothering abyss of unlikelihood. Adam Bostick allowed two walks and a hit in a scoreless eighth inning.
At the plate, the Mets got on the board early by pushing a run across in the first. They led off with singles by Angel Pagan and Brady Clark and Ryan Church followed with a one-out walk, his second free pass in two games. Ramon Castro knocked in the run with a sacrifice fly and the Mets took the early lead. They scored their second run an inning later when Anderson Machado tripled in Michel Abreu from first. The Mets held onto that 2-0 lead until Collazo's aforementioned meltdown in the seventh that gave Detroit a 4-2 lead that they would carry to the finish line.
The Mets will face the Cardinals in Jupiter tomorrow. John Maine and Duaner Sanchez are scheduled to appear.
Thursday morning bullet list.
- At SI.com, Tom Verducci looks at the ten biggest spring training lies.
Joba Chamberlain is only 22 years old and has thrown just 24 innings in his major league career. Javy Lopez is 37 and has caught 1,351 major league games. What might these two players possibly have in common, considering the tremendous gap in age and workload? Both of them are in the best shape of their lives. Don't believe it? Just ask them, not to mention just about every other player in any camp this season who gladly helps a desperate beat writer knock another non-news day off the spring training calendar.
- At Baseball Prospectus, Marc Normandin's latest "BP Fantasy Beat" column rank the big league outfielders by position. He chose Grady Sizemore over Carlos Beltran in center, a decision that will haunt him since I will be IM-ing him relentlessly to tell him how wrong he is.
- Kind of boring and hackneyed article by Tom Van Riper at Forbes.com, that bastion of baseball intellectualism. Riper trots out the old semi-canard about expensive players crippling their respective teams from a financial standpoint, pegging Johan Santana as a non-savior for the Mets.
- Congress is considering legislating performance enhancing drugs in all professional sports. It begs the question: if pr0nography is considered a professional sport, will Congress try to regulate *their* performance enhancers?
- Scott Kazmir will miss a couple of weeks with what is being considered a non-serious injury to his pitching arm. He may not be ready in time to make his opening day start for the Rays.
- Vanderbilt third-baseman Pedro Alvarez broke a bone in his hand in his very first at-bat of the season. Alvarez was considered by many to be one of the top picks -- if not *the* top pick -- in this coming June's amateur draft. He is expected to miss upwards of two months or more.
- This just in: Ken Rosenthal believes that Pedro Martinez's essence could lead the Mets to victory this season. In fairness to Rosenthal, he never actually uses the word "essence" in his article, so it could just be a rogue copy editor run amok.
One step, one start at a time. A healthy, effective Martinez would benefit the Mets not only competitively, but also psychologically. Left-hander Oliver Perez leans so heavily on Martinez, he asked him to call pitches during a postseason game in '06. Martinez also could push a position player such as shortstop Jose Reyes, a fellow Dominican whose late-season funk contributed to the Mets' collapse.It's the old "makes players around him play better" intangible argument, which is unmeasurable (as opposed to immeasurable, as some would have you believe) and is almost certainly overblown by baseball folks and media types. On the scale of baseball intangible awesomeness it falls well below clutchitude and hustlocity.
- TBS will feature marquee Sunday matchups throughout April and May, which means more high-definition goodness for you, me and En-dy.
- Scott Spiezio and his stupid goatee are wanted by the Orange County district attorney's office "after being charged in a six-count complaint involving drunken driving and assault in a December car crash." The Cardinals released him.
- Billy Wagner almost had to drill a kid on Michigan's baseball team on Tuesday after centerfielder Kevin Cislo bunted a ball into foul territory with a runner on second and one out.
"If he got that bunt down, I would have drilled the next guy," Wagner said. "Play to win against Villanova."