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Posted on: August 3, 2009 7:28 pm
 

Mets' problems go beyond injuries

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            As a California native and longtime Angels’ fan who is going to New York for college, I’ve been keeping tabs on both my hometown team and my new team, the New York Mets.  Both teams have had bad luck this season: their lineups are riddled with injuries to key players, their rotations have had trouble beyond their number one guy, and their bullpens have had stretches where they have underperformed.  Yet, two-thirds of the way through the major league season, the Angels find themselves at 63-40, one game behind the league-leading Dodgers, while the Mets are 50-54.  Before we delve into why the Angels are doing so much better, let’s take a look at the hurdles these teams have had to face.

            Injured Mets: Carlos Beltràn, Carlos Delgado, Ramon Martinez, Fernando Martinez, Josè Reyes, John Maine, Fernando Nieve, J.J. Putz, Billy Wagner.  Gary Sheffield just recently came off the DL.

            Three players, Beltràn, Delgado, and Reyes have provided much of the Mets’ offense the past few years, and are instrumental to their success.  With them out, their other big star, David Wright, has struggled (.322, 7HR 51RBI) relative to what we know he can do.  The pitching has been atrocious.

            Injured Angels:  Vladimir Guerrero, Torii Hunter, Kelvim Escobar, Scot Shields.   Nick Adenhart’s death in June took away their expected fifth starter.   Juan Rivera just came off the DL.

            The three players listed are also the heart of the Angels’ lineup, and have missed much of the last month.  Vlad has 25+ HR’s and 100+ RBI’s the last 9 years running, Hunter was the club’s HR leader when he got hurt, and Rivera’s on pace to hit over 20 HR’s.  Since winning it all in 2002, the Angels have only had 2 seasons (not counting last year with Teixeira coming in mid-summer) where they have had 2 players with over 20 HR’s.  The Angels are not known for their offense, and these injuries left them with what we though were a bunch of singles hitters.  Outside of one ace (Weaver at the beginning, now Lackey as Weaver struggles) the Angels have had suspect pitching.

            The Mets have a greater number of injuries than do the Angels, but in terms of key players in key positions, they’ve both been struck hard, either by injury or ineffectiveness.  The Angels’ Ervin Santana has been a mess, as has the Mets’ Oliver Perèz.  But the Angels have coped, thrived really, since their key players went down, and the Mets have been, well, the Mets.  The Angels’ ability to play through rough patches makes the Mets’ injury excuse a moot point, and exposes organizational problems that go beyond injuries.

 

            With Hunter, Guerrero, and, until recently, Rivera, on the DL, the Angels’ fielded a lineup of C Mike Napoli/Jeff Mathis, 1B Kendry Morales, 2B Howie Kendrick, SS Erick Aybar, 3B Chone Figgins, RF Bobby Abreu, CF Gary Matthews Jr, LF Robb Quinlan/ Juan Rivera (now starting).  Outside of Abreu and maybe Matthews, 90% of the country doesn’t know these names.  Abreu is past his prime and Matthews almost didn’t make the team.  In their last series against the Twins, Anaheim scored 35 runs in three games, taking the sweep.  The offense and power has come from everywhere: Napoli (.293, 16 HR 43 RBI), Morales (.299 23/69), Kendrick (.273 6/37), Aybar (.309, 3/39), Figgins (.313 3/36), Rivera (.316 18/60), Matthews (.245 2/35), (.322 8/73).  This is without Hunter (.305 17/65) and Vlad (.290 4/21, capable of much more).

            Compare that to the Mets, whose lineup without Delgado, Beltràn, and Reyes shapes up like this: C Brian Schneider (.206 3/22) and Omir Santos (.263 6/28), 1B Daniel Murphy (.248 6/35), 2B Luis Castillo (.297 0/25), SS Alex Cora (.254 0/14), 3B Wright (.322 7/51), LF Jeff Franceour (.260 9/54), CF Angel Pagan (.288 1/12) and Jeremy Reed (.257 0/7), RF Gary Sheffield (.283 10/36).  The offensive numbers are sub par, and, going based on the MLB.com depth charts, the players I have listed above on the Angels are clearly outperforming those on the Mets.

            The pitching staff is no different, outside of Johan and K-Rod the Mets have very little in the way of quality arms, and the Angels, despite injuries and inefficiency, have winning pitchers and a closer who has brought it all together as the year has progressed in Brian Fuentes.  I won’t bore you with those numbers here, but they favor the Angels as well.

 

            The Mets have suffered more injuries than the Angels and should not be playing better than them given all that’s happened, but they shouldn’t be this bad.  The Angels are playing well because they have talent deep in the organization.  Napoli, Kendrick, Morales, Aybar, Rivera, pitchers Sean O’Sullivan, Kevin Jepsen, Matt Palmer, Brandon Loux.  All of these guys have come up from the minor league system.  Adenhart who had legitimate big league stuff came up from the Angels’ farm system.  Look at the players who the Mets called up?  Exactly.  There is some ability, but it is not anywhere near what the Angels have.

            This is a long piece, I know, and my point will be brief.  Given all the evidence I have provided, as well as plenty that I have not, the Mets problem is not that everyone has gotten injured, it’s that they are top heavy.  Their organization is not deep enough to survive injuries, and therefore, their struggles are magnified.  Major league success goes beyond the major league ball club.  The Angels and the Mets are proving that in very different ways.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 13, 2009 1:38 pm
 

What is Alabama's punishment again?

When will the NCAA hand down a punishment that does something?  This is not Alabama's first transgression, yet the punishment does not affect the present.  OK, so probation does affect the now, but it just means that the NCAA will be keeping a closer eye on Bama, the teams themselves are not affected.  No lost scholarships, retained bowl eligibility--this is a program technically eligible for the death penalty.  The fact that the punishment is retroactive means little to the fans and to the team.

Fans care about the now.  So the Tide forfeit wins from 05-07, but things go on as usual for 09-10, that's what's important.  Sure, Alabama now has 21 less overall football wins than they did last week, but again, that is not now.  It would be like getting into Harvard, then two years later the school finding out you cheated on every test your junior and senior year in high school.  As a punishment, Harvard makes the high school change your jr and sr grades to straight Fs, but lets you stay at Harvard, they'll just keep a closer eye on you.  What's the punishment?

My point is that this punishment does not affect the 09-10 years and beyond (remember this is not Alabama's first offense), and that is what the fans care about.  Sure you cheated in the past, but what have you done for me NOW?

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 5, 2008 11:43 pm
 

Why the Gators will win

Florida will beat Alabama and play in the National Title game.  Alabama’s vaunted defense against Florida’s high-powered offense.  That is the match up everyone is looking at, and it should be a good one.  But look at the flipside: Florida’s staunch defense against Alabama’s…middle-of-the-road offense.  That will be the difference.  Florida have given up 12.2 points a game and 275.7 yards per game.  The ‘Bama D is giving up 12.6 per game.  I’m not saying Florida’s D is better than Alabama’s, but in relation to the offense they will be facing, they have a huge edge.
    Since their home loss to Ole Miss, the Gators have been tearing apart their opponents.  They haven’t won a game by less than 28 points, a 42-14 victory at Vanderbilt, and have scored 40 points or more in 7 straight games.  OK.  So the Citadel isn’t top competition, but to go to Tallahassee and put up 45 on the ‘Noles is no easy task.  Florida State had not given up more than 27 points in any game at home this year.  And Alabama’s last 5 games were against Tennessee, Arkansas State, LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn, not exactly elite foes this year.
    Nick Saban can coach.  We know that.  He won a national title at LSU, shutting down an Oklahoma team with Heisman Trophy winner Jason White at quarterback.  He had a good, not great, quarterback that year in Matt Mauck (28 TD 14 INT 64% completion).  This year he was John Parker Wilson, who is not bad, and he is a good manager, but he is not a playmaker like Tebow is (Wilson:  9/5 58%).
    Of course we can’t forget Urban Meyer.  He led Utah to the 2005 Fiesta Bowl, routing Pittsburgh 35-7, with the same offense and a high-powered quarterback in Alex Smith who put up similar numbers to Tebow’s this year.  Then, in his first year at Florida, after implementing an entirely new offense, Meyer led the Gators through the SEC and won the National Championship 41-14 over Ohio State, who had Heisman winning quarterback Troy Smith.  Both of these guys can coach.
    Alabama can win this game.  If they can slow down the offense and put pressure on Tebow, they can limit the Gator’s effectiveness.  It will also be up to the Alabama offense to manufacture long scoring drives, so as to keep the Florida offense off the field.  Percy Harvin has not been 100%, and if he is not playing at full strength, it will be up to the likes of Chris Rainey and Louis Murphy to make up for him.  Taking away Tebow’s weapons and putting pressure on him will go a long way to helping Alabama win.
    But the Tide cannot afford to play catch up.  Julio Jones and Glen Coffee are playmakers, but Wilson cannot match Tebow throw for throw.  Florida’s defense is very good, and if the offense does its part, it should not take a herculean effort for the Gators to hold down the Tide offense.
    Alabama IS the #1 team, and the only major-conference BCS school to go undefeated, so you cannot discount them.  But they won’t be by Monday.  Florida’s offense is just too good, and their defense will hold down a good, but not great, Alabama offense.  Look for it to be a good, tight game, but ultimately for Florida to come out on top.
Category: NCAAF
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com