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Preview: True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange

True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange

Updated: 2015-09-16T21:01:01.279-04:00


Knicks' Youth Need to Prove that Season Wasn't Worthless


Saturday night the New York Knicks shocked their entire fanbase. Not only did they win a game, but they dominated an entire game, and it was against one of the best teams in the NBA. I can not remember a more convincing win by the Knicks against such a strong team in years. Led by Toney Douglas and Bill Walker the Knicks beat the Dallas Mavericks, in Dallas, 128-94; completing the team's first road victory since February 26th against the Wizards.Toney Douglas, in his third start of the season and fist since November, had his third 20 point performance of the season, scoring 21 points while shooting a very impressive 8-10 from the field and 4-4 from the 3PT line. Bill Walker came off the bench to score another career high of 23 points on 9-12 shooting, and 5-8 from the 3PT line. Harrington and Chandler also added 20 point performances to contribute to the win.However, the victory and the seemingly random team effort was not what to take away from the game. Toney Douglas and Bill Walker are playing their way to significant roles onto this team next year. Douglas has become a hustle first point guard who is willing to make the right pass, as well as take the big shot. Douglas did also have 8 assists in the game with no turnovers. On the other hand, Bill Walker has become a sparkplug for the team. The 6'6 forward has shown incredible athleticism with dunk after dunk and has proven he can hold his own from three.So now the question comes how good can these guys actually become? I feel that neither player will ever be a great starter on a winning team, however, that is not to say that they won't both have significant off the bench roles in their future. Douglas's numbers are very impressive this year, especially considering he has played very sporadic minutes. He is shooting 48.3% from the field, 39.3% from three, and 85.7% from the free throw line. He has made a handful of big plays this season, as well as a few rookie mistakes (most recently his turnover at the end of the Atlanta game that almost cost the Knicks a win).I feel that Douglas has a higher ceiling than Walker does, however I think that Douglas tops out as someone like a Raymond Felton. Meaning, on a given night he can be great and take over a game, but he lacks the consistent jump shot and quickness to be successful every night. However, Douglas could easily prove me wrong, considering he has shot well all season, and it seems as if his work ethic is a forced to be reckoned with.Bill Walker is an interesting case. he has had multiple eruptions since he began with the Knicks, but I haven't really seen a real reason why or how he is scoring. He is more of a slasher who scores off of good passes and alley-oops from his teammates. He gets a few dunks per game, and occasionally has a mismatch in the paint where Walker can make a post move and score. "Sky Walker," as Clyde Frazier calls him, has also shown he can shoot the ball, something he claims he has always been capable of doing, but was just never given a chance to.Personally, it feels like Walker's success is a bit of an aberration and I am not fully sold on him yet. It seems to me like he is becoming a glorified Shannon Brown. In other words, he is a good athlete with an average to decent jump shot, who will occasionally score 20 points off the bench, but will always provide great athleticism and energy. Lets compare Brown's numbers this season with Bill Walker's Knicks numbers:Shannon Brown in 20 Minutes: 7.9 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 44.3%, 32.4 3PT%, .8 SPGBill Walker in 25 Minutes: 11.1 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.2 APG, 62.2%, 44.8 3PT%, .8 SPGIn about 5 more minutes per game a lot of Walker and Brown's numbers are similar. Walker's field goal percentage, for his entire career, has been ridiculously high, but that is more a product of small sample size than of Walker being the best shooter of all time. Outside of his shooting, their PPG are similar, while rebounds, assists, and steals are all virtually the same. Shannon Brown is also well known for his incredible dunks. T[...]

True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange is back!


Hello to all of our fans who don't exist anymore! We are back and hopefully better than ever! A quick update on my life for everyone. I am now attending Quinnipiac University as a sophomore, and majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in Sports Studies. I am ready to be dedicated to this site one more time, discussing the latest Mets and Knicks news! Tell a friend to tell a friend!

Nichols and Jordan Cut By Isiah


When Isiah Thomas traded for Demetris Nichols on draft night I became excited. As a Syracuse fan I was able to see Nichols' shooting a couple of nights a week, and I knew right away that trading a second rounder for him was an instant steal. Next I watched the 6-8 small forward score 15. 6 points a game in the summer league, while shooting at a 53% clip. There isn't much else for Nichols to do. He played solid defense, scored, and scored at an efficient pace to boot. Then(image) the Knicks signed Allan Houston as a pre-season invitee, and I did not feel confident in Nichol's chances of making the team.

Then, Houston requests to be cut from the Knicks, and suddenly my hopes of Nichols making the team might come true. Rumors came out that Nichols requested to be cut by the Knicks if he wasn't going to be given a fair chance to make the roster. However, those rumors were shot down by the team. Nichols was right to be skeptical of his chances of making the team, as Isiah rarely, if ever, played Nichols. Although, in last night's win against the Sixers Nichols played 9 minutes (a couple of minutes over his average minutes). Nichols scored 10 points in those 9 minutes, including shooting 2-2 behind the arc. After the game I thought maybe Isiah will start playing him more, especially considering how effective he was in only 10 minutes. Then this afternoon the Knicks announced that Nichols, Jared Jordan, and Walker Russel have all been cut from the pre-season roster. The roster is now finalized at 15.
(image) "Jerome James remains," I kept repeating those words to myself when I heard the news. The same Jerome James who has yet to play this pre-season. James is so bad, Isiah can't even bench him, James has benched himself. The 7-1 behemoth has knee tendinitis and he may need surgery that would end his season, although James said he wants to fight through the pain. If not playing is fighting through the pain I don't want to see what the alternative option was. On top of James not playing, when he does play he is very ineffective. James makes 6 million dollars a year, and last season he averaged a stunningly bad 1.9 ppg and 1.6 rpg. James was, in my opinion, the biggest obstacle for Nichols to overcome to make the Knicks, and I didn't feel that it was that large of an obstacle. Obviously, Isiah Thomas chose money over youth, and talent.

James is under contract for three more years (including this year), and if he has yet another lackluster season I pray that Isiah finally comes to his senses and buys James out. I have long been an Isiah supporter. As a coach, and at times as a GM, he shows a lot of potential. The decision to cut Nichols, while keeping Jerome "Big Snacks" James was not one of his brighter decisions.

Mets Offseason: Full Of Moves? Part 3


Yesterday I discussed what I felt Minaya should do with the Mets starting rotation this off-season. Amongst my suggestions was to offer ex-Cy Young winner, Bartolo Colon, an incentive laden deal, in addition to adding Mike Pelfrey to the rotation. On Wednesday I discussed the bullpen, in which I suggested moving Orlando Hernandez to a set-up role. Today it's the lineups turn to be dissected.The Mets have numerous potential free agents from their 2007 lineup. Paul LoDuca, Moises Alou, Shawn Green, and Luis Castillo all may be playing on different teams next year. First things first, re-sign Moises Alou and Luis Castillo. Although, do not sign them with the intentions of them playing 140 games next year. Alou is incredibly injury prone, and Castillo has poor knees. Tell Ruben Gotay to play winter ball, and focus on his fielding. Gotay is more than capable of playing 40-50 games at second base next year, while doubling as a utility man whenever David Wright or Jose Reyes need a game off.After I explain to Gotay that if he improves his defense he will have an important role on the team next year, I focus on the outfield. With Shawn Green gone the Mets will need a right-fielder. I am very comfortable with giving Lastings Milledge the starting nod in right field, but I am not comfortable enough with him that I don't look for security. The security for Milledge could also double as Moises Alou's replacement whenever he needs off/gets hurt. I think that Endy Chavez's success the past two years has been a bit overrated (although he has been great, he hasn't been as great as he has been made out to be), so I think his best role is as a backup outfielder, not as a security blanket. Kenny Lofton is a free agent, although with his success in the postseason thus far I can't see him leaving Cleveland again. Assuming Lofton doesn't hit the market, the perfect fit for the Mets is Jacque Jones. According to reports the Cubs do not want to trade Jones this off-season, but if they become involved with one of the big center-field free agents (Torri Hunter/Andruw Jones) things can change.Jones is a left-handed power bat (Alou and Milledge are both righty). In 455 at bats this year he hit .283 with 33 doubles and 66 rbi. Jones would be the perfect bat for the Mets bench, being the sole left-handed power bat. If Minaya does fail in acquiring Jones or Lofton this off-season, it would not be the worst thing in the world if the fourth outfielder is Endy Chavez (albeit against my wishes). With the outfield and second base set I look towards catcher. It appears the Mets may re-sign Paul LoDuca, with Pudge Rodriguez staying with the Tigers. However, I urge the Mets to go younger. Ronny Paulino, from the Pittsburgh Pirates, is a terrific young backstop. The 27 year old had better numbers than LoDuca this year, and has hit over .300 in the past. On top of that he is a terrific defender, being rated by "Baseball America" as the Pirates best defensive catcher in the organization in 2005 and 2006. Paulino is a very similar hitter to LoDuca: a contact hitter who works the count. It is also imperative that the Mets re-sign one of the best back-up catchers in baseball, Ramon Castro. Castro should also be insured that if Paulino (or whomever is catching) struggles that he has the potential to earn more playing time.Should Minaya follow my blueprint next year's lineup should look like this:1) Jose Reyes SS2) Luis Castillo 2B/Ruben Gotay3) David Wright 3B4) Carlos Beltran CF5) Moises Alou LF/Jacque Jones6) Carlos Delgado 1B7) Lastings Milledge RF/Jacque Jones8) Ronny Paulino C[...]

Mets Offseason: Full Of Moves? Part 2


Yesterday I discussed what I felt that Omar Minaya should do with the Mets bullpen this off-season. Today it's the starting rotation's turn to be dissected. In my analysis of the bullpen yesterday I suggested moving Orlando Hernandez to the bullpen in a set-up role, permanently. Making such a move would open a hole in the rotation. Assuming Tom Glavine is going to the Braves this off-season (I always felt Glavine was under-valued by Mets fans) the Mets will have three spots filled in the rotation next year: Pedro Martinez, Oliver Perez, and John Maine. That is three quality starters in the rotation, with two holes to fill. Minaya could choose to go two directions with the rotation. Begin a youth movement and keep the young prospects in the minors to fully develop, or to acquire more experienced veteran pitchers. If Omar decides to go with a youth movement (less likely, considering Mets fans may crucify him before the season) then Mike Pelfrey will definitely be added to the rotation. Then if Minaya didn't have the utilities to acquire a starter he could choose from Phil Humber, Jason Vargas, and Kevin Mulvey for the fifth starter spot. Likely Minaya will go with a mixture of a youth movement, as well as look to improve the team through outside sources. Big names such as Dontrelle Willis and even Johan Santana have been linked to the Mets, although my gut tells me a blockbuster involving one of those two starters won't happen this off-season with the Mets. Seeing Willis pitch against the Mets the last day of the season showed me that Willis is a completely different pitcher than he was in 2005, when he won 22 games. His mechanics were out of whack, and his control was all over the place. Keep him away from the Mets. As for Santana. He would cost Jose Reyes and then some. Right now is definitely not the time to deal Reyes, especially considering the Mets may sign Johan Santana next off-season and still have Reyes.So who is out there? Bartolo Colon is a big name that is likely to hit free agency this off-season. Colon has battled injuries and in-effective pitching the last two seasons, but he has been an elite pitcher in the past. In his last full season (2005) he won the Cy Young, with 21 victories. Colon only pitched half a season in the NL, with Minaya's Expos. He went 10-4 with a 3.31 era in his 17 games started in 2002. Other starting pitchers available include David Wells, Jason Jennings, Livan Hernandez, and Freddy Garcia. If I was Minaya I would Mike Pelfrey in the fifth slot of the rotation. Pelfrey pitched much better the last month of the season. Save his last start (5.2 ip 7 runs 6 er) he had a 3.67 era in his last 4 starts. Pelfrey could break out next season. As for the other slot in the rotation I would pursue Colon hard with an incentive laden deal. I also think Jason Jennings could have a solid bounce back year next year, despite an injury riddled season this year. One thing is certain. Minaya should focus on creating a rotation that has a lot of depth. With Pedro Martinez's health over a full season being a concern one other freak injury could cripple the rotation. As a result, Minaya should focus heavily on not only acquiring major league starting pitching, he should also look to acquire starters for the AAA team in case of an emergency.[...]

Mets Offseason: Full Of Moves? Part 1


When the Mets were officially eliminated from playoff contention on September 30th it forced all Mets fans to come to the inevitable realization that our team might not be as good as originally expected. Holes in the bullpen and in the rotation caused this team's ultimate demise, as well as a lack of leadership in the lineup. Therefore, the new york media, as well as a majority of the Mets fans, have been calling for a major shakeup of the entire Mets team. While I think that a major shakeup is a bit of an exaggeration I do feel that Omar Minaya should re-shape the team somewhat. First, and perhaps most important, is the Mets bullpen. Personally, I feel the Mets bullpen is a bit underrated, but nowhere near as good as it was two years ago. I still trust Billy Wagner as the closer, despite a lackluster second half, Wagner showed enough in the first half that he is still a dominant closer. In fact, if you take out Wagner's August in which he had a 6.23 era in 13 games then Wagner had a 1.80 era the rest of the season, which would have been second amongst NL closers. I also think Aaron Heilman is a terrific set-up man, but not in the eighth inning. Heilman in the seventh inning would be an ideal situation for him and the Mets. I also love Pedro Feliciano in the exact role he is in right now, although he was a bit overused this year. Jorge Sosa was decent in relief this year, although I am not ready to give him a set-up role, although I think Sosa could become a valuable middle-inning reliever. Joe Smith will likely be back with the ML team next year, and if he can re-gain his stuff from the first half of the year he could be another huge boost for the bullpen. However, even with an effective Joe Smith the Mets bullpen still needs some work.Scott Schoeneweis needs to go. He had an era under 4 for a month only twice this year, which means a third of the time the 34 year old is a well below average reliever. I don't care if his contract is large and the Mets would have to eat it, he hurts the Mets more than he helps them. Guillermo Mota also needs to go. Although Mota still throws hard the quality of his stuff fell faster than the great stock market crash in 1929. Mota never had an era under 4 for a month all season. Aaron Sele, although he did not have a very successful season in terms of results, helped the Mets with a few innings whenever their starter did not pitch deep enough into the game. I would have no problem with Sele staying with the Mets next year, although I would not shed a tear if he was somewhere else come Spring Training next year. Injured pitchers Juan Padilla, Ambiorix Burgos, and Duaner Sanchez should be given every opportunity to make the team next year out of Spring Training, but I would not want to entrust an important role to either pitcher without knowing how their stuff will respond to their respective injuries. So what do we do with the bullpen? Orlando Hernandez should be moved to the bullpen permanently. El Duque is too old and fragile to pitch 200 innings a year anymore, and I think that his effectiveness out of the pen could be an extremely valuable asset for the Mets next year. I would feel comfortable with El Duque in the eighth inning; I would still acquire another set-up man to assists with the eighth inning, as well as another left handed pitcher to ease the load on Pedro Feliciano. Although the names of potential suitors for the roles I detailed have not become clear yet Omar likely will have a large list of names to choose from.Should Minaya follow my landscape the Mets bullpen could look like this next year:Middle Relief 1: Jorge SosaMiddle Relief 2: Mixture of Ambiorix Burgos, Joe Smith, Duaner Sanchez, and Juan PadillaLefty-Reliever 1: Pedro FelicianoLefty Reliever 2: Acquired by Minaya via FA or tradeSet-up Man 1: Orlando HernandezSet-up Man 2: Acquired by Minaya via FA or tradeSet-up Man 3: Aaron HeilmanCloser: Billy WagnerThat bullpen is much stron[...]

Knicks catering to Houston?


Over the last couple of weeks the Knicks have had two headlines surrounding them. Isiah's messy trial, and a possible Allan Houston return. Houston has reportedly been offered an invite to the Knicks already packed training camp.Last season Allan Houston (H20) proclaimed that he felt that if he were on the Knicks that they could have been helped by his veteran presence on the team, considering the Knicks only have a handful of veterans.Now that Houston is very close to returning to the Knicks it seems like New York, and their players, are trying everything they can to make Houston seem comfortable.Last Sunday Isiah waived Dan Dickau (who has since been signed by the Clippers), lowering the Knicks roster size. Right now the roster that is invited to training camp stands at 19, not counting H20. Below is the list of training camp invitees, the Knicks will have to cut 4 of the players before the regular season starts (5 if Houston accepts the invite):Renaldo BalkmanWilson ChandlerMardy CollinsJamal CrawfordEddy CurryJerome JamesJared JeffriesFred JonesJared JordanDavid LeeStephon MarburyRandolph MorrisDemetris NicholsZach RandolphQuentin RichardsonNate RobinsonMalik RoseWalker RussellRoderick WilmontThe Knicks clearly have an abundance of talent, and Isiah may wind up cutting someone who will come back to haunt him (a la Matt Carroll last season). Isiah likely will cut Walker Russel and Roderick Wilmont, as they are probably just there for extra bodies, and to indirectly tryout for other teams. With those two out of the picture the roster is down to 17, leaving 3 more players in the way of Houston. Next Isiah should do what Knicks fans have been asking him to do for the past two years. Buyout Jerome James. The man has absolutely no role on this team. With Zach Randolph here the Knicks have two capable centers, and a younger Randolph Morris to back them up. Now we are at 16 plus Houston.This is where it gets tough. Isiah picked up Jared Jordan, a personal favorite of mine since his college days at Marist, but it does not appear that Jordan has a role on this team. At 6'2 185 Jordan is restricted to playing pg, and Mardy Collins is likely locked in at backup point guard (Collins is 4 inches taller than Jordan). I was incredibly impressed with Jordan's poise and leadership in college, however it doesn't look like he has a place on this team which is a shame, because I think he will be a player one day. So that eliminates Jordan.That leaves the roster at 15, which is perfect for an Allan Houston-less team, but should H20 take the Knicks offer there is one more move that needs to be made. The three candidates that could be cut would likely be: Fred Jones, Demetris Nichols, and Jared Jeffries. Personally I would not cut any of these players, and would make a trade where I trade a handful of players for 1 to open roster space. However, it is not that easy and sometimes Isiah has to bite the bullet.Fred Jones is well-known as a high-flying athletic NBA player. However, at 28 Jones has yet to break out, and has been no more than a role player on the teams he has played for. Although Jones prides himself on his defense and his new found commitment to winning, I don't know if he has a role on this team. Jones plays SG-SF, both spots that are at a great surplus on the Knicks. Renaldo Balkman, Wilson Chandeler, Quentin Richardson, Jared Jeffries, and Demetris Nichols all have just as much flexibility as Jones. As a result of the Knicks depth at his position, it is not likely he will make it into the Knicks rotation this year.Demetris Nichols appears to be the dark-horse for the last rotation spot. He is in a similar situation to Houston in that the Knicks want him to be on the team because of his deadly jumper, but it has not been made clear if Nichols will be on the team once November hits. I feel that if Houston does indeed come to the Knicks that Nichols may benefit the mo[...]

El Duque Becoming Mets Ace


The young Mets pitchers have struggled through most of the second half of the season. John Maine's era has sky rocketed from 2.71 to 3.59 thanks to a 6.31 era after the all-streak break. A seven game stretch which includes Maine allowing 8 home runs in 35.2 innings pitched (he allowed 10 home runs in the previous 109.2 innings pitched). Maine's struggles are to be expected, considering that 2007 is his first full season in the major leagues, and most young pitchers struggle when they reach this stage of their career.Not only Maine has struggled, however. Oliver Perez's era has rose .38 points in the second half, and would be much higher had the five un-earned runs he allowed on July 26th counted as earned runs. Perez is struggling from similar problems that Maine has struggled through. Perez has allowed seven home runs in 41 innings pitched after the all-star break, while he allowed only eleven home runs in his previous 94.2 innings. Perez has not recorded a quality start since July 20th (I am not counting Perez's July 26th start as a quality start because he allowed 5 un-earned runs. Despite the fact that his line was 6 innings 0 earned runs.) and has been allowing hits at an alarming rate.As mentioned earlier it was almost expected that Perez and Maine, the two youngest pitchers in the rotation, would struggle at some point in the season, however not many expected the staff's oldest pitcher (arguably) to be the team's ace. Orlando Hernandez's 3.09 era leads all Mets starters and his 1.10 WHIP is also the lowest amongst Mets starters. Thus far this season in El Duque's 21 starts he is 8-4 (the best win percentage among starters at 67%). Perhaps most importantly El Duque has been surprisingly consistent this season. El Duque throws a quality start roughly 75% of the time this season, also the best among Mets starters (Glavine is second at 70%). Whats more is Hernandez has a 2.42 era at home with an eye-popping .98 WHIP, and he has an era of 2.16 in his four starts against the division rival Phillies and Braves. No Mets starter has dominated both the Phillies and the Braves quite like El Duque has.With his seven inning three hit masterpiece today against the Nationals El Duque is slowly becoming the Mets best pitcher. Before the season started and at times towards the end of last year Mets fans were thinking of having a rotation of Pedro-Glavine-Maine-Perez in the playoffs, with El Duque becoming a key cog in the Mets bullpen. Perhaps it's time to reconsider and put Maine or Perez in the pen.[...]

Artest Not The Answer


Over the last few days there have been rumors swirling around the internet that Ron Artest wants to play in his hometown, for the Knicks. A few days later those same reporters also said that Artest no longer wants to be dealt to the Knicks. Like with most rumors it is unclear which side of the story is true, but one thing is certain: Isiah is interested.

It has come out that Isiah will not part with Balkman or Lee in a deal for Artest, but I feel that Isiah should not even attempt to acquire Artest. Artest is one of the best defensive players in all (image) of basketball, and would provide the Knicks with a much needed defensive swagger, but the other parts of Artest's game do not fit with the Knicks. Artest wanted to leave Indiana for a lot of reasons, but one of the main reasons was because he was not a big part of the Pacers' offense, and Artest wants to score. On the Knicks Artest could range anywhere from the third option all the way to the fifth option. He would definitely be behind Randolph and Curry, and he is not as much of an offensive force as Crawford and Marbury in terms of creating for himself, and hitting an outside shot. Artest is a career 32.2% three point shooter which is worse than Marbury, Crawford, Nate, and Richardson.
Isiah coached Artest in Indiana and he may feel that he can control Artest's awful attitude, but how long does he really believe Artest will like to play third or fourth fiddle to other players? Not to mention the fact that Artest would add yet another ugly past to this franchise, something they cannot afford to keep adding.

Knicks Acquire Randolph From Blazers


Draft night 2007 promised to make a big and memorable splash on the NBA community. Not only was the draft one of the deepest since 2003, but there were blockbuster trade rumors swirling around seemingly every team. Teams like the Bobcats, the Sonics, the Warriors, and the Celtics all made blockbuster trades. Even the Knicks got involved, trading for one of the best post players in the NBA in Zach Randolph. Randolph averaged 23.6 ppg (a career high) and grabbed 10.1 boards for the lowly Trailblazers during the 2006-2007 campaign.

The Knicks dealt away Steve Francis and Channing Frye for Randolph, Fred Jones, and Dan Dickau. Isiah was very lucky to find a team that would take on Steve Francis' contract. It seemed that Isiah was going to inevitably buyout the rest of Francis' contract, making him a free agent. Instead not only did Isiah trade him he got the 12th best scorer in the NBA last season. Trading Frye hurts a bit because he is talented and showed signs of becoming a good NBA player, but his inconsistency this season soured Knicks fans a bit. Plus Randolph is only two years older than Frye, and far more talented.

Randolph's acquisition is a curious one for the Knicks. I'm not certain this put the Knicks over the edge in terms of where they stand in the Eastern Conference because Randolph does not necessarily solve a team need. In fact Randolph is statistically worse defensively than Eddy Curry. Curry averaged more blocks per game (.5 compared to .2) and only averaged .4 more steals than Curry. Due to Randolph's poor defense he does not solve the Knicks most pressing need, defense and a formidable shot blocker. However, Randolph's rebounding will help Curry much like David Lee did when he played. This way when Lee is not in the game Randolph will still be there to help Curry. In addition, it will be interesting to see how Isiah sets up the Knicks offense with two post players who need the ball to be successful. Marbury and Crawford might have to sacrifice a couple of points off of their season average so that Randolph and Curry can get the touches they need to succeed. Hopefully the paint will not be too crowded with double and triple teams possibly coming on both players.

Although Randolph clearly improved the Knicks it is unclear whether or not he has made the Knicks into a playoff team. Only time will tell. Isiah, the ball is in your court.

Mets Should Sign Milton Bradely


On Thursday the Oakland A's designated outfielder Milton Bradley for assignment. As you know the A's now have ten days to trade Bradley, or he'll be released after the ten days (he probably won't accept an assignment to AAA). Bradley has always been a talented outfielder, but his hot-headed attitude and injury prone body has held him back from establishing himself in the majors. His best year came with the Dodgers in 2004. He hit .267 with 19 home runs(career high), 67 rbi (career high), 71 BB (career high), and 15 SB in 516 at bats. 2004 was the only year in Bradley's career that he had more than 377 at bats. Bradley, who turned 29 in April has played on 4 teams in his career, and has never stayed on one team for more than three seasons.With the rash of injuries suffered by the Mets this year, especially in the outfield, the Mets can use all the talent they can get. Shawn Green is struggling and Carlos Beltran seems to be coming out of his slump. It seems like Willie is platooning Ricky Ledee and Carlos Gomez in the outfielder. I like Gomez, but anyone who has seen most of hits knows that nearly half of them have been lucky dribblers. Gomez seems to be over-matched badly against most good pitchers. Yes he has gotten hits off of Mariano Rivera and Johan Santana, but he has still looked very bad against some of the better pitchers in the league. Unlike Gomez and Ledee Bradley has started for a ML team for a full season. Bradley is also a solid defender in the outfield, with a strong arm. Omar should trade for Bradley and place him in left field until Moises Alou comes back. Bradley just returned from an injury himself (he missed 18 days) so all the Mets would need him to do is stay healthy for about two-three weeks. Once Alou comes back the Mets could play the switch-hitting Bradley in right field against lefties, and give Shawn Green (Bradley's teammate in LA) a day off. For his career Bradley has a career batting average of .260 when batting lefty and .297 when batting right handed. Since Endy Chavez is out for a couple of months the Mets need a good fourth outfielder, and Ricky Ledee is not the answer. Gomez could be, but I think he is better suited to get consistent playing time in AAA. [...]

Beltran, do what's best for the team


After the Mets lost the weekend series to the Yankees 2-1 Met fans across NY were not asking why El Duque got destroyed by the Yanks, or why Wang was so nasty. Instead they were asking "why is Carlos Beltran playing so poorly?" Beltran has not been the same since his collision with Giants first baseman, Rich Aurilla, and it came out earlier this week that Beltran's quad was still bothering him. With the injured quad Beltran can't create as much power from the left side of the plate, thus effecting his stronger side. Beltran has been awful since April ended. In May and June combined Beltran has hit just .204 with only 14 rbi in 40 games (147 at bats). The poor numbers after a hot start (.356 avg with 23 rbi in April) are strikingly similar to Beltran's disastrous first season in NY, in 2005.

In Beltran's injury plagued 2005 he hit a combined average of .293 after April and May, but once June came he once again was awful. Beltran hit .198 in June 2005. One of the differences from 2005 and 2007 is that in 2005 Beltran wasn't even drawing walks (he had only 23 after June, and only 4 in May and 9 in June), and this year Beltran has 32 walks in total, but only 1 in June. Even free swinger Carlos Gomez has one walk in June. After Beltran's awful June 2005 he went on to hit for respectable averages the rest of the months (.268 being the worst). Beltran did not have two months in which his average was below .250. Beltran is on pace to do so this year, which is disturbing. So now the argument comes, what do the Mets do with Beltran?
If Beltran is indeed hurting too much to be himself should the Mets DL him until he gets better? We've all seen Beltran isn't productive at the plate when he is playing through pain like he clearly is. However, even if Beltran is DL'd who takes his place? Ben Johnson? The same Ben Johnson who hit .185 in his brief time with the Mets a couple of weeks ago? While Johnson is a good athlete, he has never hit at the major league level, and he seemed lost when he was hitting two weeks ago. So then the question you ask yourself is would you rather have Beltran making outs at the top of the lineup or Johnson getting out at the bottom? With Beltran on the team the Mets are a better defensive team, but also Beltran's name value still makes most pitchers nervous. Even if he is struggling opposing pitchers still have to be careful not to make a mistake to Beltran, because he could put it over the fence. You also have to consider that if Beltran continues to struggle like this for another week or two suddenly half of New York is going to start booing him. As we saw in 2005, that doesn't help anyone.

So the question remains what do you do with Beltran? Personally, I DL him. with Johnson on the team the Mets can put Gomez in centerfield, which is a downgrade from Beltran, but Gomez can certainly hold his own out there. Also, and most importantly the Mets can't afford to have the Mets fans booing Beltran consistently again. The fans may already be over the edge, but we'll see tonight when Beltran comes to bat. Hopefully the Mets make the right decision, but I think the ball is in Beltran's court.

Interview: Frank Isola's Take On the Knicks


I recently had a chance to exchange e-mails with Daily News writer, Frank Isola. sola is entering his 11th season as the Knicks beat writer for the News. He is also a regular analyst on NBA TV and is the co-host of the NBA Radio show "Tip Off" which can be heard daily on Sirius. Isola also writes for his own blog, Knicks Knation.True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: When the season ended how different was the mood this season as opposed to last season?Frank Isola: The team and the organization are upbeat but the Knicks have a long way to go before they can be taken seriously. They won just 33 games in a bad Eastern Conference. I don't know why you would be upbeat considering that the franchise has not won a playoff game since 2001.True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: It seems unclear what exactly Isiah is looking to do in the off-season. Sometimes he seems to be hinting a big trade could be in the works, and other times it seems like he doesn't want to touch the roster. What kind of sense have you gotten from Isiah on what he is going to do in the off-season?Frank Isola:I think Isiah is always looking for the big splashy move, which isn't always a good thing. The Knicks need a power forward and that's where he should be looking. They also have to start thinking about Marbury's eventual replacement.True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: Besides the obvious big name rumors (Kobe, Jermaine, etc.) have you heard rumors about any smaller, role, players?Frank Isola: Ruben Patterson may be a guy that they will look at. But if you look at the Knicks roster it is already filled with role players. They don't have a star which is why they won 33 games.True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: Marbury seems to believe the Knicks should draft a shooter, do you agree,and do you feel Isiah agrees?Frank Isola:I wonder how Jamal Crawford and Quentin Richardson feel about that. The 23rd pick isn't going to help the Knicks right away so I don't think it matters who they take.True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: Which injury during the season do you think broke the Knicks spirit?Frank Isola:I'm not sure. But if injuries to role players (Crawford and Lee) break a team's spirit then you have major problems. Yao Ming missed 33 games and Houston still won 52. So I'm one of the people who isn't going to give the Knicks excuses for a bad season.True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: You see Francis wearing a Knicks uniform next year?Frank Isola: Not a chance in hell.True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: As the team is currently assembled, assuming everyone is healthy next year, do you think Collins has a rotation spot?Frank Isola: No. He's got a chance to be a good player but offensively he has a long way to go.True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange:The Knicks dealt Ariza for Francis last year, and then drafted a similar player in Balkman. Do you think in five years Balkman will be better or worse than Ariza?Frank Isola:They will be both be athletic wing players who are limited offensively. Ariza is ahead of Balkman right now because Orlando made the playoffs.True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: Why do you think Frye slumped this year? Was it partially because of Isiah ThomasFrank Isola:That's a good question. Channing never look happy. I think he would rather play in the West. Maybe the Knicks had a short leash. Whatever the reason, Channing seemed to lose confidence in his shot.True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: With Phil Ford leaving do you think Pat Ewing will be hired as a coach?Frank Isola:No It's sad because Isiah deserves to be working for the Pistons just as much as Patrick deserves to work for the Knicks.True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: Do you think Charles Oakley and John Starks' numbers should be retired?Frank Isola:Oakley maybe. John no.True Fans Bleed Blue and O[...]

Interview: St. Lucie Mets Writer


I recently exchanged e-mails with Eric Pfahler of the Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers. Eric covers the St. Lucie Mets, and was kind enough to answer a few of my questions of the single A Mets.True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: The last few seasons St. Lucie has seen many top prospects, and future major leaguers play games on Tradition Field, however it seems right now that the single A Mets are a bit weak in terms of future talent. Only a handful of names are even recognizable. Deolis Guerra, John Niese, and Ambiorix Concepcion have all been considered and still considered prospects, however (with the exception of Guerra) Niese and Concepcion have been let downs this season. What have you seen from Niese and Concepcion, and do you feel that both still have a chance of making the majors?Eric Pfahler: The New York Mets' efforts to test players have left a gap in the system -- and that gap is at St. Lucie. Every major league team has a gap or two. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays might have the best system in baseball, yet their Single-A team is under .500. The St. Lucie Mets still have talented players, but they are young for this league. Deolis Guerra is only 18. Almost the entire infield was born after 1985 and those who are older are either college players in their second professional season or fringe players that will have trouble capturing prospect status. Prospects like Fernando Martinez, however, would be playing in this league were they with other clubs. Concepcion needs plate discipline in order to get to the next level.He's had a lot of trouble adjusting to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. A .282 on-base percentage is not going to get it done. I have trouble gauging Niese because he has the stuff to get through this league, but he needs consistency. His curveball is a great pitch when it's on. He's not striking out as many guys as you'd like to see,but perhaps his problem is that he's trying to strike out too many.Anything can happen as far as these two making the majors. Look at Joey Votto with the Cincinnati Reds. He's a player who fell off for a season and regained prospect status within a year.True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: Back to Guerra. At only 18 years old Guerra has been relatively dominant in his brief minor league career. Guerra's scouting reports early have been nothing but positive. Do you feel that Guerra's dominance at such a young age will continue on throughout his minor league career, and into the majors. Or do you feel that Guerra is simply dominating equally young hitters with his advanced stuff.Eric Pfahler: Guerra has a major-league change-up. It's fantastic. The Mets pulled him out of some starts in order to take it easy on his young arm, but he is well ahead of the curve. I wouldn't be surprised if the team had him spend the next two years in Double-A in order to build up some arm strength. He needs to work on his curveball, which he's doing. True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: Outside of the three players I've named thus far are there any hidden gems you see on Mets? Ryan Coultas and Joshua Petersen are both hitting over .325 this year, do you see any future for them?Eric Pfahler: Coultas plays enough positions and has a good attitude. Petersen also has some versatility. Both of these players need to make sure this is their last season with the St. Lucie Mets. Dan Murphy is a player that has a good arm and can hit the ball well. As far as tools, Sean Henry is above average, but he's stuck behind some pretty good outfielders in the system. Henry has improved his plate discipline throughout the season,but he'll need to make further adjustments to get to the majorsTrue Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: The Mets are currently in fourth place, what h[...]

Second Day Workouts Scouting Reports


After their first day of workouts Isiah Thomas invited four more players for Wednesday's workouts. The list, and my scouting reports of the four seniors, are as follows:Stephane Lasme- F, 6-8, 215, Massachusetts Lasme plays the power forward position, however his 6-8 frame may be a bit small to play PF consistently in the NBA. Since Lasme is only 6-8 a bigger, stronger defender can easily keep him out of the post. Since Lasme cannot create off of the dribble he can't even attempt to play small forward. However, Lasme makes up for his lack of size in his athleticism and quickness. Lasme can run the floor nearly as well as players a few inches smaller. Lasme has garnered comparisons to former Denver Nugget, Keon Clark. Clark was known as a good role player (11.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, and 1.50 blocks in 27 minutes), but only played six years in the NBA, and couldn't stay on one team for more than three years. Unlike Clark, Lasme has shown good passing skills, and, unlike Eddy Curry, recognizes double teams. Probably the most important part of Lasme's game is his high character. Brandon Wallace- F, 6-9, 203, South CarolinaShould Wallace join the Knicks he would be the second USC player that the Knicks would have drafted in as many years. Wallace in many ways compares to Renaldo Balkman, the other USC Knick player. Renaldo Balkman is 6-8, 208lbs and Wallace is 6-9, 203lbs. Balkman averaged 9.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.7spg, 1.3bpg, and a 54% free throw percentage in his junior year of college. Wallace averaged 9.9 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.3spg, 2.3 bpg, and a 53% free throw percentage in his senior year this year. Those numbers are eerily similar. Since both players are so similar it would be interesting to see if Isiah would draft another player with similar abilities to Balkman. A team with too many of the same players will not succeed, Wallace would join Balkman, Jeffries, and Malik Rose as plus defenders who struggle to score.Jamar Wilson- G, 6-1, 185, AlbanyThe 2006 America East player of the year has a terrific all around game. Wilsons' 18.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, and 4.8 apg were amongst the best overall stats in all of college basketball. Wilson was Albany's team captain in his junior and senior year which shows signs of being a team leader, something the Knicks drastically need. Wilson's career 80.8 free throw percentage, and 45.6 field goal percentage show signs of a terrific shooter. In addition, Wilson had a career 37.5 three point percentage. That number will drop in the NBA because the three point line is farther back, but it shows Wilson can hit a long range jump shot. Scouts worry about Wilson's size, and slight frame. At only 185 lbs Wilson will need to bulk up to earn consistent playing time in the NBA.Dashaun Wood- G, 5-11, 180, Wright StateWood's tendinitis in his knee makes his play sporadic, and the knee problem at such a young age could make many teams shy away. Wood is another good leader on and off the floor. When he isn't setting his teammates up for open jumpers he is heard encouraging his teammates to play hard and keep their heads up. Reports from Orlando said that in a 5 on 5 game that included, Corey Brewer, Martell Webster, and Kirk Snyder, Wood was easily the best player on the floor. Wood controlled the tempo of the game, and has the unique talent of making players look like they have played with him for years. Wood is a good shooter and has a terrific first step, but his size worry some teams. However, despite his size Wood is not afraid of anyone and plays very tough on defense. Before the Orlando camp Wood was not expected to get drafted however, some scouts believe that Wood will now wind up getting drafted.It should be noted tha[...]

Knicks Set For First Prospect Workouts


According to the Knicks 4 Life site administrator (a very reliable source) the Knicks will hold their first draft workouts on Tuesday, June 5th. The four players (all seniors) listed are:Derrick Byars G/F, 6-7, 220, VanderbiltSammy Mejia G, 6-6, 195, DePaulDemetris Nichols F, 6-8, 216, SyracuseCurtis Sumpter F, 6-7, 225, VillanovaAs per some of my research I have put together a small scouting report on all four players.Derrick Byars: His 17 ppg, 4.9rpg, and 3.4 apg averaged this year for Vanderbilt show signs of a good all around player. Byars' court vision is strong, and despite his 6-7 frame ran point guard at times for Vanderbilt. Byars is a defensive player who has garnered NBA comparisons of Shane Battier, and 2006-2007 rookie of the year, Brandon Roy. Byars' athleticism, mixed with his ability to score, rebound, pass, and defend makes him an all around player that has been projected to go middle-end of the first round. Most Byars' faults are correctable. He tends to become a chucker at times, and can stand around when the ball isn't in his hands. Both problems can be fixed with good coaching and guidance. However, on a team that already has Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson (notorious chuckers) we have heard they could be fixed more than once.Sammy Mejia: In most mock drafts I have seen Mejia isn't even shown being drafted. The Knicks don't have a second pick, so it is a bit curious to see Mejia working out for the Knicks, especially in their first draft workouts. Perhaps Isiah is looking to sign Mejia should he go un-drafted. Mejia was painfully skinny throughout his college career but has recently hit the weights and added some weight before the workouts. Mejia is a lanky player with solid court vision, but struggles with his ball-handling. Mejia averaged 14.1ppg, 5.9 rpg, and 2.6apg this season for Depaul (the alma matter of Quentin Richardson). Demetris Nichols: Syracuse fans are familiar with Nichols. Syracuse's best scorer this year has been projected to go early second round in most mock drafts. At 6-8 Nichols has good size for a SF, although Nichols can play the four. Nichols is a quality defender who also has a good touch from behind the arc. Since Nichols is taller than most threes he rarely gets his shot blocked. Mixed with his already lethal touch Nichols is a good player to run off screens. Rasual Butler comes to mind in terms of a player who can shoot the ball with similar size. Butler was drafted late second round in 2002. As Orange fans know Nichols would sometimes go into half-time with 3 points, and end the game with 20+. It seemed every game Nichols would have a big first or second half, and fade in the other half. Although Nichols is tall he lacks court vision, and surprisingly has no post-up game. Curtis Sumpter: Sumpter, like Mejia is projected to go un-drafted. Sumpter scored 17.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, and .9 apg this year for Villanova. At the Orlando workout games Sumpter has looked awful. Sumpter has attempted to play SF, as his 6-7 frame is too small to be a successful PF, and his stat line for Friday's game: 6 pts, 2 rebounds, 5 turnovers. Sumpter has been stopped by good defense, and has been frustrated by referee calls that have gone against him. Sumpter had two ACL injuries in his career, including missing the entire 2005-2006 season. Because he missed the entire season Sumpter was a fifth year senior this year. Despite the injuries reports in early December showed that Sumpter might have actually improved his skills after the injuries. Sumpter showed an improved jump shot, and an even better shot off of the dribble. In fact, in early December some scouts were saying Sumpter could be a first[...]

Early Rumors Show Signs of Wild Off-season


Jermaine O'Neal, Rashard Lewis, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Vince Carter, and even Ron Artest have all been rumored to be coming to the Knicks. Rumors have even said that Kobe and O'Neal have directly gone to management and asked for a trade to the Knicks. The off-season hasn't even started yet! It looks like it won't be a slow off-season for the Knicks and their beat writers. If the Knicks get even one of the players listed above then the Knicks will immediately become a playoff team. Artest is the worst player on that list, and that is saying something.

On that list Rashard Lewis is probably the most likely player to come to the Knicks, and Lewis would most likely come on a sign and trade with the Sonics. Offers of Crawford and Nate for Lewis have circulated the rumor wire. That trade would be perfect for the Knicks for a few reasons. One, Lewis is the consistent second scorer for the Knicks who would also become their main downtown threat (career 38.6% for three). Secondly, losing both Crawford and Nate would open up more playing time for Collins, and with the loss of Nate the team fundamentally becomes much stronger. Although I love Nate, I also hate him just as much. His sporadic play is beyond frustrating, and the excitement he offers does not outweigh the negatives he brings, at least not yet.

Jermaine O'Neal and Kobe are the other two rumors that have not stopped since both players have apparently demanded to be dealt. Stephen Jackson, a close friend of Jermaine O'Neal, told reporters that he think O'Neal wants to go to the Knicks to play for his old Pacer coach, Isiah. Jackson went on to say that O'Neal plus Curry could carry the Knicks to epic proportions. As for Kobe, he would be the hardest player for the Knicks to trade for. The Knicks could offer a package (assuming they still have all their players because of other trades) of Lee, Frye, Francis (to even contracts), and the Knicks 23rd overall selection. The problem with that offer is that the Knicks don't give up the one stud player. Sure David Lee could wind up averaging 18 ppg and 12rpg, but that's only if he develops some post-up moves. Most of his points come from tip ins and dunks, and if he does not develop some post moves then it would be hard for him to average more than 14 points a game.

One thing is for sure. If even one of the players are acquired by the Knicks we will have a lot to look forward to come next season.

Mets: Beat the Braves, too


The Braves have played great thus far this season, so a 4.5 game Met lead over them is pretty impressive. So far as a Met fan you should be content with how the Mets have played, although we know that the whole team hasn't clicked yet, the longest win streak is only four games. With Mota, Sanchez, Valentin, Alou, and Pedro all expected to return at various points in the season the best days are still in front of the Mets. However, if there is one thing the Mets haven't been able to do is beat the Braves head-to-head.

If the Mets have the lead in the standings then that is the main thing, but thus far this year the Mets have lost three rubber games to the Braves, and hold a record of 3-6 against Atlanta. If the Mets want to once again proclaim their fullout dominance on the NL they'll need to start beating Atlanta. Last year the Mets had a record of .500 or better against 12 of the 14 NL team. The lone losing record? The Pirates. The Pirates success against the Mets was pretty obviously an aberration, but the Mets have to prove that the Braves success is also an aberration. The Mets can't afford to let the Braves have a mental effect on them, not only for this year but for years to come. The Mets don't see Atlanta again until August. By then both teams figure to have very different rosters, whether it be because of trades or injuries. Hopefully the Mets can turn the table, and build their own mental advantage over the Mets.

Mets Demote One Prospect For Another


In yesterday's loss to the Brewers Mike Pelfrey was victim to poor pitching, and poor defense. In the fourth inning Pelfrey did not get to first base quick enough on a groundball hit to second base. The out would have been the second of the inning. Later in the inning on a pop fly to shallow left field the Mets failed to correctly execute the pickle quickly enough, and a shallow sack fly turned into a two run out. Had Pelfrey gotten to first base earlier in the inning the sacrifice fly would have been the third out, keeping the score at 2-0 after four innings, as opposed to 4-0. Pelfrey finished the day allowed four earned runs over five innings, while allowing eight hits. Pelfrey has been hit pretty hard this season, and as a result his next start will be with New Orleans. On Sunday the Mets announced that Pelfrey would be demoted back to AAA. The Zephyr getting the promotion? Top prospect Carlos Gomez.(image)

With Pelfrey's poor pitching, and left fielder Moises Alou's aching legs, the Mets called on Carlos Gomez to play outfield. Gomez, ranked as the 60th best prospect overall by Baseball America before the season, will be playing right field and batting eighth in his first game on Sunday. Gomez is known as a very toolsy player. His lightning quick speed has caused controversy as to which Met player is faster, Gomez or Reyes. Last season Gomez stole 41 bases in only 50 attempts at AA, and thus far this season at AAA Gomez has 17 steals in 21 attempts. Gomez's rocket arm impressed even Endy Chavez, who has quite the strong arm of his own. The 21 year old has hit .286 thus far at AAA this season with a .363 on base percentage.

Sunday afternoon's game features an outfield of Endy Chavez, Carlos Beltran, and Carlos Gomez from left to right, one of the rangiest outfields you will see at a major league game.

Rumor: Jermaine O'Neal Requests Trade to NY


Rumors have been running rampant that O'Neal requested a trade to the Knicks. According to the Chicago Tribune O'Neal told the Pacers that he would like to play for the Knicks, and close friend, and former coach, Isiah Thomas. O'Neal, originally drafted by the Trailblazers, struggled mightily for playing time his first four years out of high school, until he went to the Pacers. As soon as O'Neal went to Indiana, in 2000-2001, he immediately began to flourish. Since then O'Neal has gone on to average 19.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg, and most importantly 2.4 bpg.The Tribune speculated as to possible deals for O'Neal. Sam Smith, the author of the article, suggested Steve Francis, Channing Frye, Jared Jeffries, and the Knicks first rounder this year (which is actually the Bulls pick) for O'Neal and a contract. This scenario would be a dream situation for Knicks fans. Get rid of Francis and Jeffries' contracts, trade Frye while he still has value (although I still think he can turn out to be a solid player), and Randolph Morris will be considered our first round pick this year. Isiah could then fill the other roster spots with various free agent pick ups. Newsday's Ken Berger has another trade scenario. Berger thinks that if the Knicks offered Malik Rose, Channing Frye, Jared Jeffries, their 23rd overall selection, and Jamal Crawford would get O'Neal. This scenario the Knicks give up much more talent, but I would still seriously consider the deal. Assuming Isiah can grab a few good role players from free agency the Knicks could be a very good team next year. Here's to hoping the rumors are true.[...]

Mets Sign Ex-Padre Brian Lawrence


Brian Lawrence hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2005 due to injury. The six foot right hander, with the exception of his last year in the big leagues, has been mildly successful with the Padres. From 2001-2004 Lawrence compiled a record of 41-46 with a 3.91 era while pitching for a Padre team that averaged 74 victories a year during that same span. Lawrence had proven he was a serious major league pitcher, until 2005 came. In 2005 Lawrence went a dreadful 7-15 with a 4.83 era. That off-season Lawrence was dealt for Vinny Castilla of the Nationals. Lawrence followed up his bad luck with a torn labrum and rotator cuff that didn't even allow him to pitch in 2006. However, before the season Baseball Prospectus saw a potential decline in Lawrence's ability to get outs. Said BP:His decline accelerated in 2005, as Lawrence was torched like a Parisian sedan by hitters all over the league. He's always been a trapeze artist, relying on form, control, and mechanics, and his effectiveness has depended on his ability to spot his slider to perfection. meanwhile, his peripherals continue to decay. He'll benefit from Washington's defense and soggy, boggy RFK, but those effects will only serve to disguise a pitcher on his way out.Well, at least we know a little bit more about Lawrence. Obviously he is a control pitcher who doesn't have the greatest of stuff, although judging by his numbers before 2005 he can be successful. Lawrence, like most control pitchers, does not strike out a lot of batters and he will rely on the Mets solid defense to help him out of some jams. Lawrence has had a problem retiring left handed batters during his career. Over his career lefties have hit .299 against Lawrence, as opposed to the .245 that righties hit. If Lawrence doesn't eventually get promoted to start a game for the Mets he may turn out to be useful in the bullpen as a longman, or as a situational righty should Joe Smith not be available that night. Lawrence also has a tremendous career era at Shea Stadium. His .81 era and .90 WHIP in three starts at Shea is more than impressive. His three starts included a complete game shutout that Lawrence threw three years ago. Lawrence is at least healthy to pitch again, although he hasn't been too successful thus far in the minors. He was invited to Rockies major league camp, which he posted a 4.50 era in 14 innings. Lawrence struck out nine and walked three during spring training, which is an encouraging sign that he still has control of his pitches. Lawrence did not make the team out of spring training, and started the season pitching for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (AAA). Lawrence was roughed up, badly. In his three starts his era was a sky-scraping 8.69. Ironically Lawrence does have one complete game this year. His numbers that game? 7 ip, (I assume it was cut short) 12 hits, and 10 earned runs. In Lawrence's last appearance on April 15th he allowed six runs over six innings, leading to his release by the Rockies. Lawrence allowed three home runs in his three starts, and allowed AAA hitters to hit .376 off of him. Looks like BP was right.[...]

Mets surprisingly option Burgos


Jorge Sosa will make his first start this season. Sosa pitched in AAA in April and was extremely dominant. In his five starts Sosa went 4-0 with a 1.13 era and an incredible 29:4 (7.25:1) strikeout to walk rate in 32 innings. Sosa's control has been one of his biggest problems during his career with the Devil Rays and Braves. Last season with the Braves he went 3-11 with a 5.42 era and a 75:40 (1.9:1) strikeout to walk ratio, significantly worse than what he has done at AAA thus far. Hopefully he can keep his control in check and let his very good stuff dominate the Arizona hitters.

With Sosa getting the call from AAA the Mets are forced to make a roster change for tonight's game against the Diamondbacks. Lino Urdaneta, a 27 year old rookie, was promoted earlier in the week for Chan Ho Park, seemingly in case the Mets needed an extra arm. Most anticipated Urdaneta to be demoted once Jorge Sosa's turn in the rotation came again. However, in a surprising twist the Mets demoted Ambiorix Burgos, a 23 year old fireballer, who had a 4.11 era in his 15.1 innings this year. Although 4.11 is not good, it certainly doesn't deserve a demotion when the replacement is a 27 year old rookie. Not to mention the fact that Urdaneta has a career era of infinite. That's right, in his only career appearance in the majors Urdaneta did not record an out and allowed six runs. What's more is that Urdaneta had a poor 5.84 era in AAA this year in 12.1 innings.

Personally I am very puzzled by the move. Burgos had a lower major league era than Urdaneta had at AAA, by far. Plus, Burgos actually has a promising future if he can get a handle on his secondary pitches and his control. Urdaneta, on the other hand, pitched in only 11 games all of last season in the minors mixed between the GCL and AA. Hopefully I am wrong with what Urdaneta can offer the Mets, but I'd be very surprised if he could add anything Burgos couldn't.

Despite Rough Season Knicks Have Smooth Future


The Knicks ended the season on a 4-15 skid that ultimately kept them out of the lowly Eastern Conference playoffs. At one point towards the end of the year the Knicks had firmly planted themselves in the playoff race, taking a one game lead over the eighth spot. However, suddenly the resilient Knicks were not so resilient anymore as New York dropped from eighth place all the way to 12th place. Their record was tied with the young and talented Bobcats, and was behind the 76ers who all but gave up on their season when they dealt away Allen Iverson only to find themselves playing some of the best basketball in the Eastern Conference in the second half. The Knicks finished an incredible seven games behind the Orlando Magic. I say incredible simply because of how far the Knicks fell, and the teams they finished behind. However, instead of diving into what the Knicks should have done to close out the season (after all they would have had to go 11-8 to make the playoffs in those same 19 games) lets look at what the Knicks did do and what we can look forward to in the future.In many facets of the game the Knicks had a much much much more successful year than they did in '05-'06, but obviously that is not the greatest of accomplishments. Below is a combination of the positives that came from the '06-'07 campaign.Stephon Marbury's play:Anybody who watched the Knicks play consistently this year knows that Marbury has become a better all around player than he has ever been in his career. Despite having virtually the same season in terms of numbers that he had under Larry Brown (16.3 ppg under Brown and 16.4 ppg under Isiah) Marbury was a defensive stopper for the Knicks. One play that sticks out in my mind came against the Bobcats in the David Lee tip-in game. Marbury stole the ball from the Bobcats and then called a timeout with 0.1 seconds remaining, which led to Lee's tip in. Not only was Marbury a much better defensive player but in the second half of the season he began to discover how to score without being the focal point of the offense. Pretty much the entire season the Knicks plan had been to get the ball to Curry. The first half of the season Marbury averaged only 14.1 ppg, while in the second half (only 22 games because of injuries) Marbury averaged 21.7 ppg including a 37.9% from downtown.Eddy Curry's improved offense (defense?):At the end of the '05-'06 season Eddy Curry did not progress at all for the Knicks, and Knicks fans were beginning to call the Curry trade one of the worst in history. With the Bulls seemingly getting two top ten picks for a center who can't score or play defense. Well, this year Curry at least showed he can score. Curry finished 3.4 ppg higher than his career high in points (16.1) at 19.5 a game, and his offense quickly made Knicks fans think of better times. Nearly making the All-star team Curry carried the Knicks on more than a few occasions this season. Although at times it was an adventure for the Knicks to get Curry the ball whenever they did the majority of the time Curry would put it in. A blessing in disguise for Curry may have come when Crawford went down for the season. Crawford would give Curry 2-3 alley-oops a game which would get his game going, and increase his point totals. With Crawford out, the Knicks other guards were not the best at making lob passes, and Curry struggled. Without the extra 4-6 points Curry received from Crawford the Knicks had to come up with new ways for Curry to get hi[...]

Don't Give Up On The Knicks, Yet


With nine games remaining the Knicks are 2.5 games out of the eighth seed and 3.0 games back of the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. The odds are against the Knicks, but do not give up on the season yet. Of the nine games remaining four of them are against poor teams the Bucks, the Bobcats, the 76ers, and the Timberwolves. The Knicks have displayed a lac of focus against the teams in the lower class of the NBA, such as the Sonics and the Blazers. All four of the games I just mentioned are absolute must wins, and should they lose any fo those games the season may very well be over.When looking at the Magic's schedule (only have eight games remaining) they also have four "gimme" games, against the Bucks, 76ers, Celtics, and Grizzlies. Therefore, this makes the "gimme" games for the Knicks that much more important, because if the Magic slip up just once the Knicks must be there to jump. The Nets, on the other hand only have one "gimme" game, against the Hawks. The Nets schedule is obviously much more demanding and the last week and a half of the season becomes that much more important when the Nets play the Knicks twice. This is yet another reason not to give up on the season. The Knicks need to cut the Nets lead over them to 2.0 games, and suddenly if they can beat the Nets twice, they played two close games already against them this year, they are tied for the playoffs, assuming the Pacers don't outplay the Knicks, not likely to happen.The Pacers lead the Knicks by only .5 game and although they have the easiest schedule of all five teams the Pacers have not played consistently good basketball since January. I have talked about the "gimme" games for each team, but what about the other games? Well, for the Knicks and Nets I already mentioned the two games they play each other, and for the Knicks all that leaves is Toronto, Chicago, and Detroit. The Knicks beat Detroit earlier this year in triple overtime, but don't count on it to happen again, expect a loss that day. But the Raptors, a team without Bargnani and Garbajosa, can be very vulnerable against the Knicks, considering the Knicks usually lose to 3pt shooting, and those two players are two of the Raptors best. Plus, the Raptors have already clinched their division, which means their starters will not be playing normal minutes, and will not be as motivated as normal. The Bulls have also already clinched the division, but they will likely be playing for seedings. The Knicks also beat the Bulls 103-92 in late December. The Knicks will need to win at least one of those games, preferably two.NJ still plays Indiana once which will only help the Knicks, because at least one team they are trailing will lose that game, which will allow them to catch up, or strengthen a lead when those two match up. The Nets also play Chicago twice, Washington twice, and the LeBron's once. If the Nets go 4-5 and I'd consider their last nine games a success, but I wouldn't be on it. The Magic play Detroit, Toronto, Miami, and Washington. Their last two games of the year are against Washington and Miami, respectively. The Knicks hold the tie breaker over the Magic so in effect the Knicks only need to play tie the Magic to make it over them into the playoffs.The Knicks need to start rooting for the Wizards, the Cavs, and the Heat to do some dirty work for them in order for them to have a chance. But judging by how sporadic the Nets, Magic, and Pacers have played this year [...]

Pelfrey Named Fifth Starter


Entering Spring Training the Mets had a plethora of options for the fifth starter job. Alay Soler was released, Phil Humber and Jason Vargas were optioned to AAA, and Chan Ho Park and Aaron Sele were demoted to the bullpen. That leaves the Mets best pitching prospect, Mike Pelfrey.Pelfrey was terrific this spring pitching to a 2.84 era over 19 innings. On top of that Pelfrey gave up only one home run. If you project out how many home runs the 6'7" right hander will give up over 200 innings if he keeps the same ip:hr ratio you get eleven. The Yankees best pitch, Chien Ming Wang, a groundball expert allowed 12 home runs in 2006. Also, the NL Cy Young Winner, Brandon Webb, allowed 15 home runs. In fact, if Pelfrey allowed eleven home runs last year over 200 innings he would have led all of baseball in least home runs allowed. Obviously it is impossible to suggest Pelfrey will allow only eleven home runs this year, or to even sugges that he will be as good as Brandon Webb or Wang. Nevertheless, it certainly is a good sign to see Pelfrey's name involved with some of the better pitchers in the game. Pelfrey is truly a groundball machine. Even on Sunday when he allowed four runs over five innings against the Astros the majority of the six hits Pelfrey allowed were groundballs that found holes. No matter how easy it is to get caught up in how good Pelfrey may be this year, you also must realize that he is 23 and a rookie. He may also be a victim of having Spring Training stats that hide how good someone actually is. Last year Brian Bannister won the fifth spot in the Mets rotation. In fact, Bannister's ST in 2006 is similar to Pelfrey's this year. Bannister also pitched 19 innings, three of the games he started and two of them were in relief, much like Pelfrey. Bannister had an unbelievable .95 era in his 19 innings displaying immaculate control during those innings. Bannister preceded to enter the 2006 MLB season and barely be able to throw strikes. Despite pitching like Hudini Bannister was very lucky in his time in the majors before his hamstring injury pretty much ended his season. Bannister was dealt in the offseason for reliever Ambiorix Burgos. In 2005 the Mets had a pitcher with an even better spring training who fizzled out in the majors. Matt Ginter pitched 14 straight scoreless innings for the Mets. Ginter went on to get dealt at the end of spring training and pitch only 14 games in 2005 with the Tigers. Ginter had a dreadful 6.17 era in those 14 games. Ginter hasn't pitched in the majors since 2005, and he has since latched on with the Pirates and has not even been able to appear in a spring training game with the lowly Pirates. Again, just because Pelfrey had a great spring does not mean he will be great in the regular season, despite his potential. The same can be said about Joe Smith, although his sidearming ability should keep him in the majors at least for this season, due to nobody knowing how good he is. Keep an eye on Pelfrey and don't be surprised if he is great, but also don't be surprised if he struggles in the majors this year.[...]