When the Mets traded Brian Stokes to the Los Angeles Angels in the offseason they were hoping to get some decent production from Gary Matthews Jr., who they envisioned as a possible starting center fielder.
…Yeah, that hasn’t worked out so well.
Matthews Jr. is hitting .152 with no RBI, and 19 strikeouts in 46 at-bats.
He’s been extremely late on the fastball and his confidence is just about as shot as possible. Hell, my confidence in him is shot, as I’m one of the more patient Mets fans out there. It was tough to back Minaya on sending Frank Catalanotto to the minors rather than Matthews Jr. Sure, they both haven’t been able to buy a hit this year, but at least Catalanotto was putting the ball in play and giving himself a chance. Matthews Jr. hasn’t been able to do that.
The only way to help snap this funk that Matthews is in is to… well, play him. He’s not going to break out of it pinch-hitting every few games. It may not be pretty, but it might be the only way. If he gets a couple starts in and still can’t snap it.. well, it might be time for Matthews Jr. to head down the same road that Catalanotto did.
But striking out in almost 50% of your at-bats is not a good sign.
The news came in today that Brian Stokes was sent to the Angels for Gary Matthews, Jr. Not only that but the Angels are paying $21.5 million of the $23 million left on his contract (over two years). Now that’s a team that really wanted to get rid of a player. When I first heard that the Mets got Matthews, I assumed that Luis Castillo was going to the Angels. I’m still shocked that the Mets couldn’t dump Castillo on the Angels in return for Matthews.
This trade shouldn’t make that much of a difference in the 2010 season. If it does, the Mets are in trouble. That means that Carlos Beltran didn’t recover from knee surgery and return in May as planned. And Matthews ends up getting more playing time than anyone could have anticipated. He’ll still have to fight off Angel Pagan for playing time in center while Beltran is out. I like Pagan’s chances in the match up.
Tim Redding was doing pretty well until he lost it completely in the fifth inning. He ended up giving up 6 runs in 4.2 innings. Redding didn’t get any help from the bullpen either. Especially Brian Stokes couldn’t get anyone out. He gave up 5 runs in 1.1 innings. Overall, it was a poorly pitched game by the Mets.
The Mets offense was highlighted by Ramon Castro (2 for 4) who hit a solo homer in the second inning. They put up 5 runs but all of them were within the first five innings of the game.
Francisco Rodriguez was ready to pitch again today after being hospitalized yesterday with severe back spasms. He didn’t get into the game but should be ready for tomorrow night.
The Mets finish the long road trip at 5-5. Not bad for some tough teams and a west coast swing.
Tim Redding’s spring training hasn’t started very well. He’s been shelled pretty much every time out so far. And now we have word from Mets GM Omar Minaya that Redding is suffering from “weakness” in his right shoulder. Now some would say that his right arm has always been pretty weak but this time its an actual injury.
Redding will be on the disabled list when opening day rolls around on April 6 and he won’t pitch anymore this spring. Normally, this wouldn’t be very significant for the Mets. But the fifth starter situation has become so dubious over the past three weeks that this does now impact the team.
Remember that the Mets won’t need a fifth starter for the first two or three weeks of the season anyway. So there isn’t an immediate need to sort out the situation. And we also have to remember that we are talking about the fifth starter. We’ve seen some awful pitching from Redding, Freddy Garcia, and decent work from Livan Hernandez this spring.
There are still some alternate options like Brian Stokes and Nelson Figueroa when he gets back from the Puerto Rican team in the World Baseball Classic. So I’m not that worried about this issue now, and I’m certainly not advocating signing Pedro Martinez. I saw enough of him the last three years to know that he just doesn’t have it anymore.
Luis Castillo will return from the disabled list. He hasn’t played since July 2nd due to a hip flexor. Manager Jerry Manuel told reporters yesterday that he’ll also return to the starting lineup tonight against the Astros.
The bigger question is which currently active player will be going off the roster to make room for Castillo. The speculation is surrounding Nick Evans, Brian Stokes, and Argenis Reyes. It would be a shame to see Argenis go back to the minors because he’s played so well in the field and he’s done the little things with the bat. Evans doesn’t look like he’s really ready to be a Major League player yet to me. And it doesn’t make sense to keep him on the bench. I’d rather see him continue to get at-bats in the minors and come back to the Mets when the rosters expand in September.
The Mets got home runs from Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, and Daniel Murphy’s first career long ball. David Wright and Beltran both had three hits in the game. The offense was on tonight big time. The Mets had 13 hits and a walk but only left four men on base.
Brian Stokes spot start was pretty successful. He went 5.2 innings giving up four runs. He’s got a mid-90’s fastball but it’s straight as an arrow. He also throws a lot balls high in the strike zone. It’ll be interesting to see if the Mets keep him around in the bullpen.
Joe Smith was ugly out of the bullpen in the eighth inning giving up two runs on three hits and only getting one out. But Aaron Heilman got his second save in as many days in another impressive inning.
The Phillies won tonight so the Mets hold even at one game back.
Florida Marlins (61-55 Road: 28-29) at New York Mets (61-54 Home: 35-21) 7:10pm
Scott Olsen (6-6 3.87) vs. Brian Stokes (0-0 0.00)
TV: SNY Radio: WFAN
What to watch: The Mets bullpen needs to get their act together quickly. Stokes is a Triple-A call up making a spot start. The bullpen needs to be prepared to get through 4+ innings tonight. Olsen has pitched some good games for the Marlins recently but hasn’t won a game since July 19th. With a win today, the Mets could win this important divisional series.
Visit The Mets Report Live Game Chat during the game to chat with other Mets fans.
The Mets should know the status of Pedro’s injury by this afternoon. The Mets front office is reported to be actively looking at options to replace him in the starting rotations. The options reportedly include players currently under contract such as Nelson Figueroa, the recently waived Brian Stokes, and Jorge Sosa.
There are also free agent possibilities such as Claudio Vargas and Jeff Weaver.
We should get some news soon.