Phillies and Mets Collide at Shea Stadium

To say that this upcoming series with the New York Mets at Shea Stadium is important is an understatement.  The Phillies need to win at least 2 out of 3 from the Mets to bring them within 1 game of taking over the N.L. East.  If they faulter from this they mine as well consider their reign of the Eastern Division over.  They could still be in contention with the wildcard position in which they are currently 4.5 games back from Milwaukee.  However, the Phillies sights are on the Division and taking out the Mets in probably one of the last meaningful series to take place in Shea Stadium before it’s demolition.

Friday, September 5th:

Brett Myers, RHP (8-10, 4.40)
Mike Pelfrey, RHP (13-8, 3.66)

Saturday, September 6th:

Jamie Moyer, LHP (12-7, 3.80)
Pedro Martinez, RHP (5-3, 5.07)

Sunday, September 7th:

Cole Hamels, LHP (12-8, 3.01)
Johan Santana, LHP (12-7, 2.71)

Inter-Divisional Rivals Face-Off Questions

 I was approached by Dave Doyle of the metsreport.com with a crossblogging opportunity.  We presented questions to one another about each of our respective teams.  I have posted my questions below along with his answers.  You can view my answers to his questions about the Philadelphia Phillies at metsreport.com.
With the firing of Willie Randolph does there seem to be a change in the Mets club house?  Will the Mets finish the remainder of the 2008  season with Jerry Manuel at the helm?  If not, are they seeking out a new skipper?
  Jerry Manuel has been told by Omar Minaya that he’s the manager for the entire season. No doubt about it. They very well may seek out another manager at the end of the year though. Early rumors are that they’re interested in Yankees third base coach Tony Pena for 2009. There’s also been some radio talk show banter about bringing in Larry Bowa. But if Manuel makes it to the playoffs, he’s pretty much guaranteed to return next year and beyond. There has been a change in the clubhouse. You’ll see a few tangible things this weekend. Randolph ran a really tight ship, and Manuel has relaxed the rules for the players. Now the players can have facial hair. They couldn’t under Randolph. Also, Manuel started a new thing where pitchers that get pulled from the game wait on the mound and hand the ball to the incoming pitcher as a show of support. Manuel doesn’t take the ball from the pitcher. The Mets used to do pre-game stretching within their small groups (relief pitchers, starters, infielders, etc.) and Manuel changed that so everyone stretches together. There are little things like that to promote team unity. Manuel also isn’t averse to calling out veterans in the media that aren’t performing. He’s had plenty of comments about Luis Castillo and his inability to play every day.
 How do the Mets fans feel about Jose Reyes?  He has enormous potential to be an oustanding shortstop and a large contributer to the team, but has his level of maturity affected his game
  Mets fans have had a lot to say about Reyes’ outbursts on the field. Jerry Manuel has made it a point to address those situations immediately with him. Randolph benched Reyes in Houston last season for one of his outbursts and their relationship wasn’t very good after that. Manuel has taken a more big brother/fatherly type of role with Reyes. We’ll see what happens with that. But Mets fans generally haven’t liked what they’ve seen from Reyes when his childish tantrums erupt on the field. Manuel has made it a point to try to get Reyes to keep his head in the game when things go wrong for him but that’s a work in progress. I wrote a post on my blog about this topic. He’s such a talented and dynamic player that these behavioral indiscretions are tolerated much more than if anyone else did it.
 Do the Mets have anyone in mind as the trade deadline approaches?  If so are they seeking pitching or a position player to replace Castillo or Alou?
  You’re right on with that. The Mets have been hurt badly by Moises Alou’s absence this season. He’s an incredible hitter when he’s in the lineup but he’s hurt so often he’s like a ghost for the Mets. The Mets would love to get their hands on a right-handed hitting outfielder that can also play some first base. They talked to the Tigers about Marcus Thames before the season but couldn’t agree on a deal. Mets fans really want Xavier Nady back. He was a fan favorite in his short time here and would be a perfect fit for the Mets this season.  Don’t get me started about Luis Castillo… But we’re stuck with him for the next three and a half years. He’s not going anywhere unfortunately. Damion Easley has played a good second base off the bench though. We’ll be seeing plenty of him in the lineup. Castillo’s contract is consistently discussed by Mets fans as evidence that Omar Minaya hasn’t put together the right players for this team.  Starting pitching could be a need as well. Pedro Martinez has been terrible since he missed two months with a hamstring injury. Oliver Perez has struggled badly for most of the season as well. The Mets have been linked to Freddy Garcia would could be ready to play next month. They’ve already had multiple starts from Nelson Figueroa, Claudio Vargas, and Tony Armas, Jr. Those aren’t pitchers that you want to see on the mound in the second half of the season. I guess they’re still holding out hope that El Duque will be back at some point but I think that’s a long shot.
 Have the players rebounded from last year’s meltdown?  They seem to play as though something is weighing heavily on their mind.  Not sure if it was last year or the departure of Willie Randolph?
  “The Collapse” has absolutely carried over into this season. The daily speculation about Willie Randolph’s job security was a distraction as well. Randolph consistently said that “The Collapse” was behind the team. But Jerry Manuel has said that it’s impacted the team into this season and the only way to get the monkey off their backs is to win. The home fans have boo’d the Mets excessively at times this season, even Johan Santana in his first start. To me, that’s the carry over from last season. Since the debacle occurred at the end of the year, we didn’t get to completely express our displeasure. So it’s being displayed this season. We may be beyond that now. But it was clearly evident for the first two months of the season. Randolph was boo’d mercilessly in his last few weeks as manager. His firing was a major step in the direction of letting go of last season.
 Is there any sadness about the loss of Shea Stadium?  or are the Mets fans just looking forward to the new Citi Field and all of it’s ammenities? 
 That’s a great question. I think most Mets fans, myself included, have some terrific memories of Shea. The ’86 team and for some older fans the ’69 team are the top of the list. Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry electrifying the stadium in the 80’s as well are unforgettable. But let’s face it. Anyone that’s been to Shea knows that it’s the worst stadium in baseball now that RFK is gone. Everyone is curious to see how Citi Field is going to play though. Nobody wants it to play like Citizen’s Bank Park. I’m not sure how Phillies fans feel about that. But Mets ownership has publicly said they want Citi Field to be a pitchers park like Shea is. That was a major factor in their design of the stadium.