Condolences to Scott and his family

My thoughts are with Scott Schoeneweis, his family and the Arizona Diamondbacks following the news of the death of Scott’s 39-year-old wife Gabrielle.

The mother of four was pronounced dead in their Arizona home shortly after noon and I know the whole baseball community will be shocked and saddened by the news.

I can’t begin to imagine how a family could come to terms with a loss like this, but I’m sure they will have all the love and support in the world. Stay strong.

Mets make it 7, sweep Pirates

THE New York Mets made it seven in a row on Sunday night as they swept the Pittsburgh Pirates away to move clear at the top of the NL East.

Livan Hernandez fell behind early, but the Mets plated three in the 4th inning and broke the game open with four in the 8th inning to give them their first lead in the standings since Opening Day.

Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo and Omir Santos each plated two runners as the Mets gave Hernandez enough run support to overcome a shaky start.

The Pirates, in fact, jumped ahead early, scoring a run in the 1st and 3rd innings before the Mets got on the board.

Nyjer Morgan singled and stole second base and Delmon Young singled to centre to put men on the corners. Nate McLouth hit a sacrifice fly to Ryan Church in right field to easily score Morgan who trotted home at a canter.

The Pirates doubled their lead in the 3rd inning when Diaz found the gap in the right side of the infield when he slapped a single the other way.

McLouth had led off the onning with a double to left field and Eric Hinske drew a one-walk walk -one of four free passes from Hernandez who had only given up eight walks in his previous five starts.

After Andy LaRoche grounded back out to Hernandez, Diaz shot a single to Church to score McLouth. Hinske was held up surprisingly at third base and Brian Bixler struck out to end the inning.

The Mets had very little going on against Ian Snell until the 4th inning. Carlos Delgado launched a one-out double off the top of the centrefield wall and David Wright drove him home with a grounder that crept under the glove of Bixler.

Wright then stole second and Daniel Murphy walked, and both runners advanced 90ft on a wild pitch that got away from Diaz after hopping off of the plate.

Omir Santos gave the Mets the lead by turning on a 3-2 fastball to send a two-run single to right field, but he was thrown out trying to stretch the single into a double.

Pedro Feliciano pitched a scoreless 7th inning for the Mets and the bats added a protection run in the bottom of the frame.

Gary Sheffield, pinch-hitting for Feliciano reached on a fielding error by Bixler and Reyes singled to right. Castillo then singled to centre to give the Mets a 4-2 lead and, after a double steal, Beltran was intentionally walked.

But Delgado popped out and Wright struck out swinging to leave the bases loaded.

JJ Putz got himself into – and out of – another jam in the 8th inning, giving up one-out singles to Diaz and Vazquez. But he got Moss to line out to left and Morgan to strike out to turn the 4-2 lead over to Rodriguez.

The Mets put the game beyond doubt in the 8th inning with a four spot off of reliever Jason Grabow.

Santos picked up his second hit of the evening, Church got his first and Tatis was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Reyes, who entered the game batting 5/9 with three runs and three RBI this series, walked in a run and Castillo hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Church. Hot-hitting Beltran doubled in two more runs to make it 8-2.

The Pirates did reduce the arrears in the 9th inning when McLouth hit a two-run home run off of Shaun Green, but Green retired the next three batters he faced to give the Mets their seventh consecutive win.

Johan in beast mode, Mets back to .500

IF Oliver Perez is a riddle locked in a conundrum, Johan Santana is a beast wrapped around a machine.

The Mets ace dominated once again on Wednesday night at home to the Phillies, throwing seven innings of shutout ball and fanning ten on his way to recording his fourth win of the 2009 campaign.

The Mets have won three straight for the first time this year and another Cy Young performance from New York’s favourite leftie meant they are back to .500 for the first time in three weeks at 13-13.

Wednesday night though was all about the pitching.

Johan improved to 4-1 on the season through six starts, lowering his miniscule ERA to an equally-small 0.91.

He has given up just four earned runs in 39 2/3 innings and with 24 hits and 14 walks, his whip is below 1.00.

On top of this is 54 strikeouts, the most he has had over a half dozen-game span since 2006 when he had double-digits Ks in four out of five straight matches.

He leads the league with Zack Greinke for punchouts and only the Royals’ pitcher has a better ERA after the first five weeks of play.

If Johan had a little bit more run support – the Mets are giving him a league-worst 2.12 runs per game – he could easily be a perfect 6-0 right now.

In fact, he has started where he left off at the end of 2008, when he went 6-0 with a 1.63ERA over his last nine starts.

But the last time Johan was really this dominant was in June and July 2007 when he allowed six earned runs in six starts for the Twins. The last time he allowed four earned runs in six games was back in August and September 2006.

******

Here’s the updated K-board…One for each of Johan’s strikeouts this season after the Mets top brass stopped fans hanging K-cards in the outfield.

To find out all about it, click here.

johan ks.jpg

Where’s Ollie? Here he is…

Thank you to everyone who humoured the child in me by playing Where’s Ollie?

As promised, here is where Ollie was hiding, just in case your eagle eyes could not spot him.

wally2.jpg

Here’s a closer look, just in case you still can’t see him…

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Yup, he’s on the little shuttle. You would probably have spotted him quicker if you saw the picture from another angle.

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Okay, okay. He’s actually in the bullpen for now. But one more Aaron Heilman-like collapse and he’ll be back in the minors quicker than you can say ‘headcase’.

Watch this space.

Where’s Ollie, Ollie watchers?

OLIVER Perez is a riddle locked in a conundrum; a puzzle wrapped around a quandary; an enigma of what ifs and maybes.

After another disappointing outing this weekend, nobody knows what the future holds for him.

There are three main options available to the Mets:

  1. They could continue to keep him in the rotation and on the active roster in the hope that he finds the ‘good Ollie’.
  2. He could get sent to AAA in an attempt to work through some of his problems and regain his confidence.
  3. They could move him into the bullpen in a long-relief role.
  4. Or they may put him on the DL with a knee injury.

Ollie is 1-2 in his five starts for the Mets this season with an ERA of 9.97 and a WHIP of 2.26. He’s been awful.

He has only pitched into the fifth inning on one occasion and he was knocked out of his last outing against the Phillies after just 2.1 innings having given up five hits and six walks.

It is this lack of control which has killed Ollie this year. When he’s good, he’s very good. When he’s bad, he’s Bartolo Colon.

Ollie is the perfect example of a pitcher with split personalities. Here’s two different seasons:

            
 Yr Inn  W  L  ERA
 WHIP 
H%  S%  BB  K
  ’06 113  3  13  6.55  1.75 34  65  68  102
  ’07 177  15  10  3.56  1.31 29  77  79  174


There are two key things to note about these back-to-back seasons. In 2006 when he spent time in Pittsburgh and New York, his control was shot.

He was walking 5.4 batters per nine innings and giving up 10.4 hits per nine. Worryingly, his K:BB ratio was only 1.50.

Yes, he was slightly unlucky with the amount of batted balls which fell for hits, but make no mistake – he was lousy and deserved everything he got.

2007 was apparently when Ollie decided he wanted to show up to pitch.

He was walking fewer batters, giving up fewer hits, striking more men out and keeping the ball in the park. Despite a big climb in the number of innings he pitched, Ollie was very good.

Everything stems from his control. If it’s not there,you can forget about a quality start.

That’s why 2009 is worrying. He has more walks than strikeouts, and as many walks as innings pitched. 50 of the 115 batters he has faced has reached base and 24 of these have scored.

I don’t know how bad his knee is, but I would be more concerned about his mental state.

Whatever the problem is, physical or psychological, you have to show him some pine. With a team whose rotation is already on the ropes, you can’t afford a 50-50 gamble with a headcase every fifth day.

We love you Ollie, but you’re no good to us like this.

***
 

The New York Mets are trying to find Wally Ollie. Now, here’s your chance.

Fans, fantasy owners and the Mets top brass have been wondering which real Oliver Perez would take to the mound.

After another beatdown on Saturday, Ollie’s future with the Mets is in doubt, just months after signing a lucrative $36m deal.

While Jerry Manuel works out what to do with Ollie, click on the picture below to find out where’s he hiding.

At the minute, it seems he’ll show up anywhere except on the mound. I’ll post the answer on Wednesday for those of you who can’t find him.

wally.jpg

*EXCLUSIVE* Wright donates bats to charity

QUEENS, NY — New York Mets slugging third baseman David Wright has donated more than 50 bats to charity after deciding he had no need for them.

The three-time All Star, speaking exclusively to Fantasy Hardball: a bloop and a blast – said he would rather donate them to a good home than carry them from Major League city to city.

Clubhouse officials insist the decision was made solely by Wright, while fans across the country are speculating on his future with the team.

David Wright is currently 23/82 with 27 strikeouts to start the 2009 campaign. He’s on pace for a record 161 Ks and he is said to be embarassed by not being able to perform to his previous heights.

Wright has never whiffed more than 118 time in his big-league career, so to see him leaving his bat on his shoulder so often is strange.

Wright said: “I thought it was only [Dustin] Pedroia who couldn’t hit the high and inside fastball. But I guess not.

“I don’t really know what is the matter with me at the minute. I tried swinging at the beachball in BP on Wednesday before the Marlins game, but I was late on it and kept shanking it foul.

“Jerry Manuel told me to shorten up my stroke, to choke up a little, but then I was too early on it. I kept pulling it foul. I mean c’mon, how do you pull a 12mph beachball foul?”


He clearly doesn’t need his bat, so Fantasy Hardball found some uses for it.

He could recreate the famous NYC skyline…

skyline copy.jpgTake up the oboe

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Or help out Heather Mills

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At the end of the day though, there’s only one real use for all these bats. With all the whiffing, it had to the fan…

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No no-no for Mets: The streak hits 7,500

THE New York Mets have started the season auspiciously; 8-10 and losers of four one-run games.

But for those who like the small details, the loss against the awful Nationals was even more frustrating. It was the Mets’ 7,500 consecutive regular season game without a no-hitter.

Only the San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies and Tampa Bay Rays are in the same company as the Mets, although none of these three teams have played as many games as the Mets.

If you’re keeping count, they’ve played 6,374; 2,547 and 1,798 respectively. To put it into context, the Rays have 26 years of no no-nos ahead of them before they’re as unfortunate as the Mets.

It is now agreed that there have been 236 no-hitters, but they have not been shared equally.

The LA Dodgers, in all of their various guises dating back to 1884, have had a huge 20 no-hitters, followed quickly by the Red Sox (19) and Chicago White Sox (13). In fact, a dozen teams have had double-digit no-hitters in their franchise history.

So close

The Mets have thrown 33 one-hitters in their history, including 23 using just one pitcher. The last Mets one-hitter was in July 2008 when Pedro Martinez, Carlos Muniz, Aaron Heilman, Scott Schoeneweis and Billy Wagner one-hit the Rockies at Shea.

Tom Seaver leads the Mets with five one-hitters, including one of each of 1969, 70, 71 and 72. 1970 was a particularly harsh year for the Mets pitchers when they threw three one-hitters.

Incidently, two of the Mets one-hitters have resulted in losses; a 2-1 defeat away in St Louis in 1991 and similar 2-1 loss in Houston back in September 2006.

There have been nine players who threw a no hitter before joining the Mets, starting with Don Cardwell in 1960 and going through to Hideo Nomo in 1996.

And six pitchers have thrown a no hitter after leaving the Mets, including Nolan Ryan on a ridiculous seven occassions all after we let him go. Hideo Nomo also had a no hitter for the Red Sox in 2001.

As well as being unable to record a no hitter, six pitchers have sealed their place in history by no-hitting the Mets. The most notable of these was Jim Bunning’s perfect game for the Phillies in 1964.

During my research, I read on nonohitters.com that Bunning’s perfect game came on just 90 pitches and in just the 31st day in Shea Stadium history. Shea would never see a perfect game in its remaining 33-and-a-half years.

Here are the six no-hitters thrown against the Mets:

Sandy Koufax – June 30, 1962. LA Dodgers 5-0 Mets.
Jim Bunning – June 21, 1964. Philadelphia Phillies 6-0 Mets.
Bob Moose – Sept 20, 1969. Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 Mets.
Bill Stoneman – October 2, 1972. Montreal Expos 7-0 Mets.
Ed Halicki – August 24, 1975. San Francisco Giants 6-0 Mets.
Darryl Kile – September 8, 1993. Houston Astros 7-1 Mets.