Dickey the CY Young Award winner and Reyes gone in a fire sale

The R.A. Dickey story continues with his National League CY Young Award that was announced Wednesday evening. The New York Mets pitcher and first knuckle ball recipient of the award, third pitcher in Mets history with that distinction, gets a well deserved honor.

Some will say a knuckle ball thrower is not deserving of CY Young Award status. However, a 20-win season, to go along with taking the ball for a struggling team, is enough to vouch for the landslide first ballot among voters with the baseball Writers of America.

It is a success story. Dickey was on the verge of leaving the game of baseball, adversity on his side, now in an elite group of a few with the distinction of becoming the best at what he does.

The game of baseball is made for a story like this even if the knuckle ball has been made to prolong the career of a 38-year old pitcher. For the Mets, and their fans, a team of disappointment, the award is also for them

Dickey was the first to say, “This is for the Mets organization and for the fans.” In reality, the award is for Dickey who is never one to say “I” and always refers to accomplishments as, “We.”

Tom Seaver and Doc Gooden were previous CY Young Award recipients for the New York Mets. The fastball, curve, and a variety of other pitches were a part of their image. So, it is not unusual for the skeptics to claim that the knuckle ball is not a regular pitch.

Perhaps, to a certain degree the knuckler is not in the class of a fastball or curve, the slider, or changeup. Dickey, as often stated so many times says, “It’s a pitch like a butterfly, coming at you and trying to catch it.”

So forget the notion that Dickey and the knuckle ball are not deserving of the award. That, Geo Gonzalez, and his 21-wins with the Washington Nationals were more deserving. Or that Dodgers’ left hander Clayton Kershaw and his NL leading ERA should have gave him two straight CY Young Award seasons.

Dickey with three shutouts, leader in NL quality starts, (27) with only four poor outings, said his storybook season can also be attributed to what was behind him. The catcher Josh Thole handling the knuckle ball so effectively, the third baseman David Wright handling the plays at third, but leading the league in strikeouts, 230, and innings pitched, 233, are something that should not go unnoticed.

Yes, this is a success story that deserves attention, for a pitcher who left spring training in 2010 without a team. And then, the Mets offered him a contract as he perfected the knuckler to overcome the adversity,

“It brings a real degree of legitimacy to the knuckleball fraternity,” said Dickey Wednesday evening from his home in Nashville Tennessee. “I’m glad to represent them,” he said about Phil Niekro, Tim Wakefield and Charlie Huff.

He may not be able to duplicate the season that was, as it becomes more difficult for a pitcher to do so, even if the knuckle ball works to Dickey’s advantage. And there is that distinct possibility, now that he is a good trade commodity, that the Mets could get some value in return with a proper offer.

But, Dickey is not thinking about that, neither are the Mets for the moment. They will make every attempt to re-sign him, an incentive for fans to attend Mets games at Citi Field in 2013.

JOSE REYES AND THE MARLINS FIRE SALE:  An immediate question is, should Jose Reyes have stayed in New York and took the initial  deal of less money and a shorter stint of time instead of opting to take the deal with the Marlins?

Yes and no, because it is sports “Ego-Nomics” as the Miami Marlins have discovered after their last place finish and 69 wins, in a lost 2012 season of spending, a new ballpark and now a fire sale.

There is no guarantee that spending will buy a championship. The Marlins are well aware, the owner Jeffrey Loria is under fire for buying and selling off $163.75 million in contracts with a multi-player deal involving the Toronto Blue Jays.

Toronto becomes an immediate favorite to overtake the New York Yankees in the AL East acquiring the contracts of Reyes, pitchers Mark Buehrie and Josh Johnson, plus the Jays get some cash with other players in the deal.

But the trade brings up any number of questions, one being does this send a message to owners that spending and offering long term deals may be a thing of the past? Ask the Yankees, who may not be able to trade away an aging and declining Alex Rodriguez with five years remaining on a $250 million dollar contract.

As for Reyes, who did his part with the Marlins, is this, his last stop? Probably not, as a player of his value in the game is worthy for any team that is willing to pick up pieces of a contract.

There is a factor for Reyes, who played in 161 games for Miami. He goes to a new league and will play on artificial turf, something that could hinder his hamstrings which caused numerous problems during his tenure in New York.

It is baseball and sports “Ego-Nomics.”  And next to the Dodgers-Red Sox mega trade in September, this one could be sending the message. The era of a huge and long term deal with the players and owners may be over.

E-Mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com  Listen and watch Rich Thursday evening live 8-10pm www.inthemixxradio.com or log on Facebook.com/Keep it in the Ring

Posted under Award Recipients, Baseball Writers, Changeup, Cy Young, Cy Young Award, Cy Young Award Winner, Deserved Honor, Doc Gooden, Elite Group, Fastball, Fire Sale, Knuckle Ball, Landslide, New York Mets, Rich Mancuso, Tom Seaver, Top Story, Washington Nationals, Wednesday Evening

Brooklyn Cyclones defeat State College Spikes, 6-2

Brooklyn, NY – The Brooklyn Cyclones (11-9) defeated the State College Spikes (11-9) in New York-Penn  League action on Saturday night at MCU Park by the score of 6-2. Playing a very team orientated style of ball the Cyclones were not only able to get key hits, but also played small ball having two successful sacrifice bunts along with five stolen bases in tonight’s game.

“The small ball is a huge part of our game,” manager Wally Backman said afterward. “We try to force our opponents to make a mistake. It’s another weapon and forces the defense to have to rush, and when you rush you are more likely to make mistakes.”

Catcher Juan Centeno was one of the offensive leaders for Brooklyn going two-for-three with three RBI while lifting his first professional home run over the right field fence in the bottom of the second inning. Another offensive leader was center fielder Darrell Ceciliani who had three base hits with three of the five stolen bases recorded tonight. Also contributing offensively was Jeff Flagg who had a RBI single in the bottom of the third inning. J.B. Brown scorched a triple to center field in the bottom of the sixth inning, which led to the final run for Brooklyn.

“I was looking for a fastball inside and was able to get good contact on it,” Centeno said of his home run. “I didn’t know right away that it was gone but it felt good to be able to get my first one tonight.” The catcher also had another key hit in the bottom of the seventh inning which plated the sixth and final run for the Cyclones. “I had a runner in scoring position and just wanted to make sure that I made good contact to drive the runner in.”

Starting pitcher Mitch Houck (3-0) had another outstanding outing going six and two-thirds innings striking out eight batters, while giving up five hits, two runs and one walk. Houck, who had Tommy John surgery in 2008, looked great tonight showing an electric changeup throughout the game, and had several State College batters off balance.

“Tonight Centeno did a great job of calling the game,” Houck said of his performance. “We did a really good job of changing speeds tonight, mixing pitches and location. He really did a great job behind the plate tonight.”

Backman had this to say of his young pitcher, “He has been great for us every time out. He has been very consistent for us and has been our number one guy.”

When speaking of the success that he has had thus far Houck said, “Most of the credit goes to pitching coach Rick Tomlin, he’s really helped me to develop into the pitcher that I want to be. I want to go out and attack hitters and let my stuff work for me.”

Work it did as Houck had blanked the Spikes until the top of the seventh inning as Matt Skirving plated the first State College run with a single to left field.  Kyle Saukko hit a single to right field before Backman made the call for reliever Ryan Frasier whose only blemish tonight was an RBI single to Gift Ngoepe. Hamilton Bennett had an impressive ninth inning striking out two batters and getting a fly ball out to secure the victory.

Backman has been asking for someone in the bullpen to step it up and had two guys do so tonight. “Frasier is one of the guys that we can consistently count on in the back end of the bullpen; he has had back-to-back good outings and will absolutely one of those guys that will step up for us.”

The two teams will continue the next two days in Brooklyn before the team goes on the road to take on the Lowell Spinners over the weekend.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Pre-game notes: Mets centerfielder Angel Pagan was honored before tonight’s game. Pagan who played with the team in its inaugural season in 2001 had his number 35 retired before the game, while also throwing out the first pitch. “I am really grateful for the blessings I have had, it is great to come back and an honor to have been recognized like this.”

Posted under B Brown, Brooklyn Cyclones, Brooklyn Ny, Bunts, Centeno, Center Fielder, Changeup, Field Fence, Flagg, Game Manager, Houck, New York Mets, New York Penn League, Offensive Leader, Offensive Leaders, Sixth Inning, Starting Pitcher, State College Spikes, Tommy John, Tommy John Surgery, Wally Backman

This post was written by Stacy Rae Podelski on July 9, 2010

McDonald: The Real Johan Santana is Back

Pitchers tend enjoy watching each other hit, so when Johan Santana took Matt Maloney deep last night for his first home run in – well – ever, the rest of the staff had to chime in.

“You tell him, he will never hit another one again,” laughed closer Frankie Rodriguez. “He grabbed a bat and was walking around the dugout saying he was going to hit one out.”

Of course with Santana leading the staff in home runs, other pitchers have to get their shot.

“As soon as he hit it, [Mike Pelfrey] ran in to the cage and started taking some extra batting practice,” deadpanned R.A. Dickey with the righthander in earshot and added, “So I have to hit one now, that’s how it works.”

The bottom line is that Santana finally found the formula to get himself back in the win column. As Jerry Koosman once said, “Shut them out and hit one out. Then you got yourself a win.”

And it seems like Santana needed the third home run to win this one, as the Mets still struggled to score runs. Only a fortunate sixth inning gave the ace some cushion in route to his sixth win of the year.

But it’s been like that for Santana all season. With very few runs behind him, he had no room for error. Unfortunately it meant he went through his rough patch in June, while the Mets were piling up the wins. But as the page turned to July it seemed to be Santana time.

He is 61-19 with a 2.73 ERA during the second half of the season. In 2008, he went 9-0 down the stretch and now it looks like he’s doing it again. Santana made a change in his arm angle, which is allowing his fastball a more explosive look, going back to the low-90s. Couple that with a change in his motion, which stopped tipping his pitches and you can see why he’s the Johan Santana of old.

“I am throwing my fastball much better,” Santana said. “And that makes my other pitches better.”

Especially his changeup, which is deadly.

“You saw hitters taking that changeup before,” said manager Jerry Manuel, “where tonight you saw it’s like he pulls the bat through the strike zone with that changeup.”

That’s why Manuel quickly retreated to the dugout with one out in the ninth and runners on first and second after Jason Bay’s error. The look on his ace’s face told the story.

“I’ll finish it,” he said.

And two pitches later he did ending an almost perfect night by the Mets ace.

Rodriguez may be right in that Santana may never hit another home run, but who cares? The most important thing is that the real Johan Santana is back.

Posted under Ace, Arm Angle, Batting Practice, Bottom Line, Changeup, Dugout, Earshot, Era, Fastball, Jerry Koosman, Joe Mcdonald, Johan Santana, Matt Maloney, Mcdonald, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Pitchers, Rough Patch, Second Half, Sixth Inning, Tipping His Pitches, Top Story

This post was written by Joe McDonald on July 7, 2010

Mancuso: Santana Comes Up Aces In Mets Win

New York – Joey Votto swung, missed and struck out off a Johan Santana fastball in the first inning.  The Cincinatti Reds would strand Brandon Phillips at third who led off the game with a double. Santana would only get better as the game went along, because his fastball was that good and it allowed his other pitches to work Tuesday evening at steamy Citi Field.

Santana, (6-5) who has been struggling got the Reds to swing and miss, also getting them to hit the ball to center.  In the end it was a complete game shutout thrown by Santana, a 3-0 win, and in the process the Mets discovered that he also can contribute to the lineup.

The Mets pitching ace hit his first career home run in the third inning off Reds rookie pitcher Matt Maloney That got cheers from the crowd and also a coronation of sorts from his teammates in the dugout. “I hit it and started running,” Santana said about the home run. “I’m on the board. At least I hit one.”

It was a 12- pitch at bat for Santana. The home run ball banged off the foul pole and Santana gave his team a 1-0 lead they would never relinquish. Santana had the fastball, as well as the changeup and breaking ball working to perfection.

“I felt better throwing my fastball and it makes my other pitches better,” said Santana who won one game in his last seven starts. After the Phillips hit in the first, he would not allow another until Orlando Cabrera singled in the sixth.

The key was the fastball. It has always been a vintage pitch that has lost some velocity. But this night, Santana was throwing hard and had the command. He would allow three hits, walked three, and struck out five in throwing the Mets’ second complete- game shutout of the season.

And it wasn’t until the ninth inning before Mets manager Jerry Manuel contemplated taking Santana out of the game. But he let him finish off the Reds after a brief visit to the mound. Scott Rolen singled with one out, and then left fielder Jason Bay dropped a Jay Bruce fly ball for an error.

Bay snapped a personnel string of 263 games of errorless ball and also drove in two of the Mets runs as he continues his resurgence at the plate. As to what was said at the mound, Santana said to Manuel, “I’ll finish it, simple.”

And finish it he did. Jonny Gomes lined out and Drew Stubbs ended the game on a ground out force. “I wanted him to hear him tell me that he wanted to finish it,” explained Manuel about his visit that got some boos from the remaining 27,473 fans that braved the game time temperature of 96 degrees.

“I hate to remove a guy because of a defensive mistake,” added Manuel who said he expects big things from Santana in the second half of the season. “You see a little more in the fastball. You saw it challenging Brandon Phillips,” he said about Santana retiring the Reds .307 leadoff hitter to fly out three times to center and right.

Ready in the pen was Frankie Rodriguez the Mets stopper with 20 saves, but, as of late, having trouble closing the door. In the end, he wasn’t needed. “Of course I know what type of competitor he is and it paid off,” said Rodriguez about Santana completing the game.

Santana got his home run ball for keeps and is undefeated in four career starts against the Reds. A win for the Mets also that kept them two games in back of first place Atlanta. For Santana, even without great stuff he proves to be a competitor.

Now that the stuff is back, he also has the bat to go with it.

NOTES FROM CITI FIELD:  It was the 45th home run by a Mets pitcher in their history and first since John Maine did it against Pittsburgh on July 24, 2007 at Shea Stadium…  The three hits tied the fewest Santana has allowed in a complete game, his seventh career complete-game shutout, and the second Mets pitcher to throw a complete-game shutout and hit a home run in the same game. The last to do that, Pete Falcone on September 29, 1981 over the Phillies 7-0 also at Shea…

Jose Reyes returned to the lineup after missing six games with a sore right oblique, finishing 2-for-4 with a run scored. The Mets improved to 30-9 when Reyes scores a run… It was the Mets 12th shutout of the season which tied San Diego for most in baseball…

Oliver Perez threw 5.2 innings, allowing two runs, two hits and three walks and striking out seven in his second rehabilitation start for St. Lucie (A) of the Florida State League… Final game of the series is this evening with Bronson Arroyo (8-4) on the mound for the Reds opposing lefthander Jonathan Niese (6-2) for New York.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Brandon Phillips, Breaking Ball, Changeup, Cincinatti Reds, Complete Game, Dugout, Fastball, Foul Pole, Jason Bay, Joey Votto, Johan Santana, Left Fielder, Mancuso, Matt Maloney, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Orlando Cabrera, Pitches, Rich Mancuso, Rookie Pitcher, Scott Rolen, Top Story, Tuesday Evening

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on July 7, 2010

Mets Give The Phils Another Blanking

New York – Tuesday evening it was R.A. Dickey and Raul Valdes shutting out the Philadelphia Phillies 8-0.  Last night at Citi Field it was Left hander Hisanori Takahashi, Jenrry Mejia and Ryota Igarashi shutting down the Phils again 5-0.  Who would have wondered with two thirds of the Mets starting rotation missing that this was possible.

“He’s a great pitcher with great instincts,” said Mets Manager Jerry Manuel about Takahaski who threw six scoreless innings, He gave up five hits, did not walk a batter and struck out six.  Combined with Dickey throwing six shut out innings against the Phillies, suddenly Manuel has two reliable starters that follow Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey.

And afterwards, Manuel would commit. The 35-year old Takahaski who spent a good part of his career in Japan, has earned a spot in the rotation. “To have a performance such as that especially, against two very good teams, elite teams, it lengthens the opportunity for him,” said Manuel. “He had great command of his pitches.”

Takahaski (4-1) threw six scoreless innings in his big league debut as a starter against the cross-town Yankees last Friday giving up five hits in a no decision. Signed in the off season to a free agent deal, he had 16 relief appearances after 202 career starts in Japan,

“I know my pitching style and I prefer to do the same here,” said Takahaski through a translator. He apparently knows the scouting reports getting Phillies home run hitter Ryan Howard to swing at a third strike on a changeup, and credited Rod Barajas with a good game plan.

But with Oliver Perez regulated to the bullpen, and with Jonathon Niese and John Maine disabled, Takahaski was granted the opportunity. It has become a welcome reprieve for Manuel. Suddenly the Mets, with another four-game wining streak have seen their starters have a Major League leading 1.37 ERA in their last nine games

Dickey has been a sudden surprise also. And then there is Jose Reyes, always a catalyst in the lineup who has resembled the Reyes of old. The legs are strong again and he is taking the extra base.  He made a sparkling play in the fourth inning reaching out and retiring former teammate Brian Schneider on a pop out in the fifth inning

And Reyes for the first time this season, leading off in the third inning hit the ball over the fence to right field off  Phils starter and loser Joe Blanton (1-3) that gave the Mets a 2-0 lead. “We’re playing good baseball,” said Manuel. “Jose Reyes is igniting the club”

“Right now, when I get on base two or thee times I feel like myself, said Reyes who went 2-for-4 and has four consecutive multi-hit games. Since returning to the leadoff spot on May 15th, Reyes is hitting .300 with nine runs scored, a double, one triple, a home run and five runs batted in.

The shutouts and new pitching rotation, along with Reyes, and timely hitting has given the Mets new life. They once again climbed a game over .500 (24-23) and there is no talk of Manuel losing his job.  “Quite an accomplishment of using two starters we hadn’t used in spring training,” said Manuel.

The Mets look for the sweep against the Phillies Thursday evening with Pelfrey taking the mound for New York, looking for his sixth win. Then it is off to Milwaukee and San Diego, but the good play has to continue away from Citi Field as the Mets lead baseball with 18 home wins.

Manuel and the Mets have to get some wins away from Citi Field, especially now with Reyes playing, like himself. Added to the equation is Takahashi, getting another well deserved start now that he is in the rotation.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring 786@aol.com

Posted under Changeup, Cross Town, Elite Teams, Game Plan, Good Game, Home Run Hitter, Johan Santana, Jonathon Niese, Jose Reyes, League Debut, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Relief Appearances, Rod Barajas, Ryan Howard, Ryota, Scoreless Innings, Scouting Reports, Sudden Surprise, Top Story, Welcome Reprieve