New York's dynamic duo
Maine, Perez boost Mets; Hall of Fame game reaction
Posted: Thursday May 24, 2007 8:16AM; Updated: Thursday May 24, 2007 9:13AM
Are John Maine (5-2, 2.77 ERA) and Oliver Perez (6-3, 2.54) for real? Do the Mets have enough pitching to win the National League pennant?
Maine actually has allowed a higher OBP this year than last, so I don't think his success is a fluke. He's a flyball pitcher pitching his games at Shea Stadium, which is a good park for him. I think he'll be a 15-game winner with a mid-3s ERA.
I'll be honest: I'm not sure what to think of Perez, who threw seven shutout innings in a 3-0 victory against Atlanta on Wednesday. The way he has cut down on his pitches (and obviously, the walks) has been amazing for a guy with a track record of more than 100 starts. I still believe that his mechanics, though improved, make it difficult for him to repeat his delivery and stay consistent over the long haul. But like Shawn Estes, who was also inconsistent, he has the stuff to dominate and might just be having a career year. So yes, I do believe the Mets have enough pitching to win the pennant -- with or without the return of Pedro Martinez later this season. And give credit to Omar Minaya. Every GM dreams of pulling off a deal to get a young starting pitcher who could break out. And Minaya did it twice at low cost with both Perez and Maine.
The Yankees have had trouble producing pitchers from their farm system. Other than Chien-Ming Wang, nobody stands out in recent years. But when was the last time the Red Sox produced a product of their farm system who finished in the top five in the Cy Young balloting? Or even made an All-Star team? I can't think of one, but maybe I am just a little foggy this morning?
Over the past 10 years four pitchers originally drafted and signed by Boston have received Cy Young votes: Roger Clemens, Carl Pavano, Aaron Sele and Curt Schilling. Do you want to give them credit for Derek Lowe, who was heisted in a trade from the Seattle farm system? Obviously, it's been a while. But you have to like Jonathon Papelbon, Jon Lester, Kason Gabbard, et al. Like New York, the Sox have improved their pitching development in recent years and you're starting to see the results of that effort.
I am fascinated with Boston manager Terry Francona's sagacious use of Papelbon this season. Already, three of his bullpen teammates have accumulated saves this season, proving that Francona is thinking long-term for the Boston closer. Will the skipper ever receive major props for learning from his past mistakes and be seen as one of the game's best managers?
Francona is very good at leveraging Papelbon. I was a little curious to see him use him on Tuesday in a non-save situation, but I guess that just points out that all those medical concerns Boston was gnashing its teeth about last winter aren't so bad any more. I was impressed last year when he turned the role over to Papelbon one week into the season, and I've been impressed with his usage of Hideki Okajima this year. Francona strikes a good balance between having a feel for the game and using all the statistical analysis the Sox provide him.
After the Josh Hancock tragedy, when a large amount of marijuana was found in his vehicle, why has there been no discussion on the failure of the MLB drug testing program? How does the NFL catch Ricky Williams 47 times and MLB catch nobody? The drug testing program is a joke ... still. The players know it, the league knows it, and all the fans know it, too. What a shame.
You're right, of course. The only thing I can tell you is that baseball has not exhibited a public concern about so-called "recreational drugs" (don't you just love that euphemism, like they can be found in the Wal-Mart sporting goods aisle with bocce and croquet sets?) as it has with performance-enhancing drugs. I'm not trying to equate the two, but it's just that I never heard anybody talk about the marijuana issue with Hancock or with Darryl Kile. Toxicology tests revealed Kile had used marijuana, though it was ruled out as a factor in his death.
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