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Weekend Predictions: Mets, Yankees and Astros

1. The Mets will lose two of their three remaining games to the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Yes, the tough times will continue. In fact, Alex Cora will be so out of whack after tomorrow’s loss that he’ll plead, “A little respect, please. They stuck it up our ___.”

“Um, Alex, I appreciate your passion,” Jerry Manuel will tell Cora. “But you can’t say that to Tommy Lasorda.”

Manuel, meanwhile, will receive a vote of confidence from Omar Minaya. "Look how beautiful it is here," Minaya will say, waving his hand around Dodger Stadium. "I could never fire a manager in Southern California."

The Mets' lone victory will come tonight, with Johan Santana on the mound. the game will turn when umpires force Dodgers starting pitcher Vicente Padilla to leave the game in the second inning.

"I ran out to the mound because I finally figured out what 'Inception' was all about, and I wanted to tell Vicente," Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly will explain afterward. "And then, James Loney disagreed with my interpretation. James was way off, so I had to go back to the mound to set him straight."

When the Mets' plane sputters on the fight home, Manuel will call upon Oliver Perez to get them out of the mess. "I thought about asking K-Rod," Manuel will say, "but I figured I'd wait until the situation was less dire. That's why he's our closer, after all."

2. The Yankees will win two of their three remaining games against the dreadful Royals. Tomorrow, Alex Rodriguez will hit his 600th home run against Kansas City starting pitcher Kyle Davies, creating a bit of deja vu. After all, back in 2007, A-Rod slugged number 500 against Davies on a Saturday afternoon home game.

"It's pretty clear that, in order to get to 700, I need to duplicate all of my actions on my path from 500 to 600," A-Rod will say. "Let me think. There was that, and that, and that. Then that. Which led to that. Followed by that. And who could forget that? Oh, and that. Throw in that _ I loved that - that and that.

"Sure, that's doable."

In order to keep tonight's starting pitcher A.J. Burnett out of trouble while the Yankees are batting, meanwhile, the Yankees will assign Burnett the task of guarding a bee, just as Mr. Burns did to Homer in this episode of "The Simpsons." Alas, the bee will escape and sting Burnett on his right hand, on the very place he got cut last week.

3. The Astros will take two of three games from the Reds in Houston, and Roy Oswalt will get a huge cheer from the Minute Maid Park crowd tomorrow, when he ties Joe Niekro's franchise record with 144 victories.

Nevertheless, Oswalt will assert afterward, "I'm all about winning. I'd like to be traded to a contender. Assuming that contender is willing to pick up my $16-million option for 2012 and pay for my moving costs. And give me a lifetime supply of Whatchamallits, because those are really good.

"But to reiterate, I'm all about winning."

--Jason Bay is in a brutal slump, David Lennon writes, and Bay is the poster boy for the Mets' current situation. Are they going to trade for an upgrade over Bay? No, because - financial issues aside - there's no one out there who can match Bay's track record.

Does Manuel deserve to be fired based on what has gone down since the All-Star break? No, because Manuel has mostly been playing his best lineups. 

(Yes, yes, Manuel used Ollie over K-Rod the other night. Brutal. I'm just saying, in general, the Mets' current problem is underperformance by established players.)

--The Mets are shopping Jeff Francoeur, and I'd be surprised if any team was willing to pay much of the roughly $2 million he has left, let alone give up talented players for him.

--Interesting piece by Erik Boland about Joe Girardi, and his reluctance to publicly criticize players. As I wrote the other day, after the Burnett incident, I think that sometimes public criticism is needed. To let the rest of the players know that certain behaviors can't be tolerated. And sometimes, to make sure the offending player gets the message.

--Derek Jeter hit his first inside-the-park homer since 1996. Pretty funny that Girardi scored on that one.

--Curtis Granderson is working on his hitting against lefties. Maybe I should make that last sentence the F7 key on my computer, as I feel it's going to be used again.

--HGH testing in the minor leagues. First of all, it indicates nothing about major-league testing. That has to be collectively bargained, and the Players Association has displayed little willingness to subject its constituency to blood testing.

Second of all, everything surrounding HGH testing is pretty much for public-relations purposes, only. Myriad studies have indicated that HGH, taken by itself, does exceedingly little to help pro athletes. You have to combine HGH with more powerful stuff to get the full effect. And that more powerful stuff - at least, the stuff of which we know - can be detected through urine.

The stuff that we don't know? I suppose that, in theory, a player could be tripped up through a positive HGH test. Still, blood testing is no small matter. 

I'll be discussing this issue at 10:30 this morning with Colin Cowherd, on his radio show. I didn't even warn you with a self-promotion alert beforehand.

--Getting back to A-Rod for a moment, good FanGraphs piece on the five least tradeable contracts

 --Good, quick item by the great Tom Tango on Felix Hernandez's won-loss record.

How did I find these last two pieces? Gosh, I can't remember. Can I let you know later?

Oh, wait. Now I know. It was Twitter.

--With A-Rod going for number 600 tonight, I'll be at the Stadium, and I'll check in from there later.

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