Mets acquire Trot Nixon

The Mets yesterday acquired OF Trot Nixon from the Diamondbacks organization. Nixon, of course, is a former teammate of Pedro Martinez; the two played together on the 2004 World Series champion Red Sox team. Nixon was playing in Triple-A ball for Arizona and now immediately joins the Mets, where he started in left field in the first game of today’s doubleheader, going 2-3 with 2 walks and scoring a run.

Many Mets fans might question the move. Why trade for a guy who’s past his prime, someone with no upside. The reality is that Nixon has the potential to be a huge upgrade from what the Mets have had in left field this year, which is a group of players including Fernando Tatis, Endy Chavez, and Marlon Anderson, who aren’t hitting a lick. Nixon is a guy who can fire up a clubhouse and who knows how to win. Sure, he might appear to be in decline, hitting just .251 with Cleveland last year, but he was tearing it up for Triple-A Tucson, hitting .318, .449, .578 with 10 HR and 31 RBI. Compare that to Tatis (.250, .292, .333, 1 HR, 10 RBI), Chavez (.218, .271, .277, 1 HR, 4 RBI), and Anderson (.169, .194, .246, 1 HR, 5 RBI) and it’s easy to see why this move was necessary.

Hopefully, this will be a quick fix. With any luck, Ryan Church will be back soon, allowing for greater flexibility in the outfield alignment. But with Moises Alou on the seemingly perminant DL and Angel Pagan nowhere to be found, Nixon could see a good amount of time in left field this season for the Mets. It’s certainly not the ideal scenario, but give credit to Omar Minaya for addressing a major need.

-Jonathan Kraft

Phils win 20-2, because of Kyle Kendrick

20-2. Yea yea, the Phillies scored 20 runs for the second time this season, the first time they’ve done that since 1900. But the bigger story is Kyle Kendrick. Everyone knows the Phillies are going to score runs – they’re 1 run behind the Cubs for the season (Cubs have 374 in 68 games, Phillies 373 in 69 games). They’re going to overtake Chicago in that category, it’s only a matter of time.

So get over the back to back to back homers from Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Pat Burrell. Get over the 9 run 4th inning and Ryan Howard‘s second homer. The real story of this game is Kyle Kendrick, who went 7 innings and allowed only 1 earned run, a Skip Schumaker homer.

The game marked Kendrick’s one year anniversary with the Phils since being called up from AA Reading on June 12 of last year. In that span Kendrick has gone 16-6 over 34 games. By winning pct, he has been great at .727. By ERA, not spectacular at 4.13. Nor by WHIP, a so-so 1.35. Nonetheless, Kendrick eats innings and has the best run support in the league since coming up a year ago. Kendrick averages almost 6 innings per start and the team averages a whopping 8.14 runs per 9 innings when he’s on the mound. Wow?

Kendrick is no Cole Hamels (who, by the way, has weak run support at 5.25 per 9 innings). But Hamels is is an ace. Kendrick is a back of the rotation starter, with a knack for for being in the right place at the right time. He struggled early this season, but the Phillies are 10-1 in his last 11 starts, and 11-3 in all of his starts this season.

For some, unexplained reason, the Phillies produce for the 23 year old. Perhaps the reason is that Kendrick isn’t Cole Hamels. And, maybe that explains Hamels’ poor run support too – because he is who he is.

Kyle Kendrick, a role player, does exactly what is asked of him. This Phillies offense will carry just about anyone who gives them a chance to win (except Cole Hamels), and that’s exactly what Kyle Kendrick does. The best part of it all? Kendrick is still young, a year younger than Hamels (24).

Last season Kyle Kendrick helped lead the Phillies to the playoffs, doing exactly what was asked of him. 14 starts into this season, Kendrick is doing exactly the same thing.

-Greg Berlin

Grandpa goes phishing

Jamie Moyer 9-0 against he the Marlins.

I don’t how to describe him anymore – old, wise, crafty. All cliches. Let’s just say: 8 innings, 2 hits, 3 strikeouts, 1 walk. And a no-hitter into the 6th. Moyer has 237 career wins. I don’t think he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but I bet he makes it in eventually. He’s a great guy, and I think he deserves it. Never underestimate a player’s personality and how that affects voters.

The Phils offense just wasn’t getting the breaks against he Marlins. 22 men left on base last night! 12 on Wednesday and 14 on Tuesday. Considering the explosion they had the week before, I’ll let it slide. But I hate streaky teams. Consistency is key to success. Explosive or anemic won’t take you very far.

Scott Olsen pitched great for the Marlins. But his best play of the night was probably breaking up Moyer’s no-no with a liner off of Chase Utley‘s glove.

Brad Lidge pitched a much more Lidge-like save, only letting one man on base. Make that 18/18. What’s that Billy?

-Greg Berlin

Beast in da House

I’ll be at the House that Mediocrity Built tonight to see the Mets take on Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers. I’m expecting a terrible game, as Oliver Perez and his lack of command take on Hamilton, Michael Young, David Murphy, Milton Bradley, and a whole lot of other guys who are hitting the cover off the of the ball, believe it or not. I’ll be the guy in the David Wright pinstripe jersey shaking his head for eight and two-thirds of the game¬†(gotta beat traffic!) and yelling obscenities at Oliver Perez, Rick Peterson, Willie Randolph, Carlos Delgado, you get the idea.

-Jonathan Kraft

Wagner with men on base

Not that it matters so much now that Billy Wagner blew his third consecutive save, this one of the starting the ninth inning variety, but I still researched the split I referenced in yesterday’s rant post¬†criticizing Willie Randolph‘s decision to have Mike Pelfrey start the ninth inning.

Wagner with no men on base in 2008: 60 PA, .158 BA, .446 OPS, 9 H, 3BB, 18 SO

Wagner with men on base in 2008: 43 PA, .244 BA, .670 OPS, 10 H, 1 BB, 13 SO

These numbers don’t include the blown save yesterday, by the way. So there you have it, the statistical basis for why Willie almost blew it in Wednesday’s game, only to be saved by Carlos Beltran‘s bat.

-Jonathan Kraft

Phew! Billy and Willie are saved

What a game last night, as Mike Pelfrey (8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO) outdualed Arizona ace Brandon Webb, in a 13-inning thriller that should have ended calmly in the ninth. Instead, due to what I believe was a poor decision by Willie Randolph, Billy Wagner gave up a three-run home run to Mark Reynolds that tied the game. In my view, Pelfrey should have been pinch-hit for in the bottom of the eighth, which would have let Wagner come on in the ninth with the bases clear. I’m not sure what Billy’s percentage of blown saves is with baserunners already aboard when he enters the game, but I’m sure when I look it up later I’ll find that it’s much higher than without baserunners aboard.

Pelfrey was through 110 pitches (a career high) in the 8th. He led off the bottom of that inning. Now, obviously, there are two conflicting schools of thought here. One would let the starter bat so that he could finish off his gem of a game, and go for the complete-game shutout. The other would play it safe for the team, and pinch-hit for the pitcher, trying to stimulate a rally and buy more insurance runs, letting the elite closer finish out the game, giving the starter what should be an automatic win.

It’s incredible how two fans can disagree about such a thing. MetsBlog’s Matt Cerone takes the first approach, even going so far as to say that Willie shouldn’t have pulled Pelfrey after he allowed a baserunner in the top of the ninth with no outs. I completely disagree, and think that it was a terrible idea for Willie to let Pelfrey bat in the eighth. Sure, I understand that it’s great to go for the complete game shutout for Pelfrey, a guy who’s arm is integral to the team’s future success. But Pelfrey is only one of twenty-five, and, in this situation, you have to play it safe. Sure, it’s Wagner who ultimately allowed the home run, but that lead baserunner would never have been aboard if Pelfrey hadn’t started the ninth inning.

The good news is that Carlos Beltran bailed everybody out, walking off with a long ball to end the game in the 13th. The bad news is that the Mets take the field this afternoon, with very little rest for an already banged-up team.

By the way, I now agree that Mike Pelfrey belongs on this team. He’s shown flashes in the past, but this year, despite a few roadblocks, his flashes have been closer and closer together. I think he’s finally turning the corner. Good for you, Big Pelf.

-Jonathan Kraft

Bienvenidos nuestros amigos

The power of the internet never ceases to amaze me. The ability to communicate with people on the other side of the world or on the other side of the street–simultaneously–is mindblowing, and something we take for granted every day.

A couple days ago, in checking the statistics on this blog–who’s accessing it, from where, and what are they reading–in order to assess our progress on the site, I noticed that more than a few viewers were being directed from a forum on the official site of Tigres de Licey, the most prestigious baseball team in the Dominican Republic. I wouldn’t have known what this was, except for having been to the Dominican twice, a country where it’s impossible to escape baseball. Apparently, in searching for the Jose Reyes Sportscenter commercial (Jose is a Dominican native, and a superstar on the island), the Licey fans stumbled upon NL Beast.

So in the spirit of globalization and promotion of baseball around the world, bienvenidos a Bestia de Liga Nacional, nuestros amigos del Republico Dominicana.

-Jonathan Kraft