Greetings from Citi Field. Sorry for the lack of baseball commentary for the last 34 or so hours, but...you know, it's a holiday weekend, for crying out loud. Watched the fireworks from Riverside Park last night. Went swimming earlier today.
As Jon Lovitz used to ask, while impersonating Harvey Fierstein on "Saturday Night Live," "Is that so wrong?"
In any case, we've got a good weekend of ball in New York to wrap up the spiritual first half, with first the Reds and then the Braves coming into Citi Field, while the Yankees make their final West Coast trip of the season.
Here with the Mets, it's pretty clear the Mets have come to the right decision on Carlos Beltran: He'll finish out this week as a rehab player, then - barring setbacks - make his 2010 Mets debut on July 15 in San Francisco. It's the sensible call.
The Mets made a roster move, placing the ineffective Fernando Tatis on the disabled list with "a right shoulder AC joint sprain" and bringing Raul Valdes back. I'll tell you what, the Mets have enjoyed amazing luck this year. Every time they've had a player using up a roster spot, and you as a fan wished for ill will upon that player - bingo. The player gets injured.
As long as they have the proper medical paperwork, however, there's really not much that baseball can do, no matter how many eyebrows are raised.
--On the trade front, word is that Seattle still hasn't fully declared Cliff Lee to be available, even though it's obviously headed that way, and the same goes for the Cubs with Ted Lilly. It's interesting that the Mets have played Josh Thole so much, isn't it? Thole was scheduled to start tonight, before the Reds scratched starting pitcher Aaron Harang (lower back pain) and replaced him with lefty Travis Wood (who was supposed to start tomorrow). While the Mets like Thole, they don't consider him as untouchable as Ike Davis, Jon Niese or Jenrry Mejia.
--Jose Reyes isn't starting tonight. Manuel said he would start tomorrow night against Wood, but now we'll have to wait and see whom the Reds start, with Wood pushed up a night.
--I always enjoy meeting with and listening to Dusty Baker, now the Reds manager, even if he's not quite regarded as the Einstein of managers. He's part of that "Players I enjoyed watching in my formative years" generation, and he is always an entertaining quote.
Surprisingly, from the way Baker spoke, it sounded as though he had read some of the Fire Joe Morgan rip jobs of him.
Asked what the difference was with this year's Reds team, as opposed to previous seasons, Baker smiled and said, "We have more talent. Talent prevails."
Asked about innings counts and pitch counts, particularly regarding impressive rookie Mike Leake, Baker - the man who is known for helping take down Mark Prior (check out Prior's 2003 pitch counts) - said that every player is a little bit different when it comes to that stuff. But he added, "You've still got to do the right thing. In the long run, doing the right thing comes out right."
If you look at Leake's game log this year, you'll see that the Reds have tried to capitalize on off days to space out his starts. And just as important, if not more so, Leake's top pitch count for any one game is 108.
And remember Aroldis Chapman? I admit, I sort of lost track of him. He's not doing that great with the Reds' Triple-A Louisville team, even switching lately to relief. From the way Baker spoke of Chapman, he's nowhere on Cincinnati's radar.
"One hundred miles per hour is one thing, but you have to throw it in the strike zone," Baker said. "You have to develop your off-speed pitches. ...He signed a six-year contract. He didn't sign a one-."
--Well, I might not be the first person to offer commentary on the All-Star teams, but I very well might be the last. It's just not my nature to get too worked up over snubs or unjust rewards. But that said, there are two items that caught even my attention:
1. Joe Girardi's machinations with CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte are lame, bordering on obnoxious. Pettitte is having the clearly superior half-season. Yeah, I get it that this way, both receive the All-Star title, and then Sabathia bows out when he starts on Sunday. But is that necessary? I can't imagine Sabathia cares about being named an All-Star. His ego is smaller than Ramiro Pena.
As you can see in Anthony Rieber's story, Pettitte was not pleased about the development. Now you're making Pettitte seem like a second-string All-Star. And while Girardi earned the right to be kingmaker because the Yankees won the World Series last year, this is sort of rubbing it in.
As it turns out, Pettitte already is on the team, thanks to Clay Buccholz's injury. This was still the wrong thing to do, however.
2. Stephen Strasburg. He doesn't deserve to go statistically, and he doesn't want to go. So forget it. This isn't happening. And I think MLB made the right call. As we discussed last week, MLB has historically made its selections (following the fans and players) based on some definition of merit, even if that in itself can be shaky. But taking Strasburg would have blown up that meritocracy.
--How did I learn of the Buchholz story? Twitter, that's how.
--Have a great night, and tomorrow - get this - following the usual morning post, we'll have a live chat at 11:00, and then a book giveaway contest sometime after that. It's Must See TV. Or at least it would be if this were TV.