51° Good Afternoon
51° Good Afternoon

Weekend predictions: Mets, Yankees, Phillies and Cardinals

1. The Mets, coming off a spectacular homestand, will advance their good feelings with their first road series victory of the season, taking two of three from the lowly Brewers. But that's not to say it will be a weekend without worries.

When the Mets fall behind on Saturday, 4-2, in the sixth, Jerry Manuel will say, instinctively, to pitching coach Dan Warthen, "We'd better warm up Nieve...oh, right."

In the ninth inning Saturday, Francisco Rodriguez and Randy Niemann will have to be separated by other relievers when they see the "Miller" signs at Miller Park and engage in a classic debate that has caused many skirmishes.

And on Sunday, in the wake of Saturday's loss, Darryl Strawberry will show up and urge everyone to compete with more passion and pride. Thankfully for the Mets, Strawberry will show up not in Milwaukee, but on the set of "Celebrity Apprentice."

2. The Yankees will take three out of four against the lowly Indians at home, yet it won't be as quiet a holiday weekend as you might expect. Indians manager Manny Acta will accuse Joe Girardi of not going by the book when the Yankees' manager uses a pinch runner for Marcus Thames in Saturday's game.

"Kind of tired, to tell you the truth," Acta will say, before retreating to his office for a nap.

"It's within the rules, and I played within the rules," Girardi will respond. "Now, if they had brought up our sophisticated system for stealing signs, that would be different."

"I guess it could be worse," Acta will say. "At least Joe didn't eat my pork chop on a stick."

3. The Phillies will break out of their slump in a big way, putting up a total of 24 runs in a three-game sweep of the Marlins in Miami. On Sunday night, Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest will slap himself in the head and say, "We should've brought back Charlie Hough! That would've stopped them cold!"

4. The Cardinals will take two out of three from the Cubs at Wrigley Field. However, Tony La Russa will continue to aggravate and mystify Albert Pujols. With Ryan Ludwick on first base on Saturday, with the Cardinals trailing by one in the eighth inning, La Russa will ask Pujols to lay down a bunt. And on Sunday, with Ludwick on first base and the Cardinals trailing by two in the sixth, La Russa will catch everyone off guard when he calls for the Statue of Liberty play.

--Off the Mets game, I looked ahead and wrote a column about how the Mets must improve on the road if they are to be serious playoff contenders - and if they should therefore consider making a trade for a starting pitcher.

Remember, a year ago this weekend, the Mets went to Boston and won two out of three, probably the peak fo the Mets' 2009 season. The difference? They did that partly thanks to aberrations like Omir Santos taking Jonathan Papelbon deep.

We can pretty much assume that R.A. Dickey's success is a short-term aberration, and we know that Hisanori Takahashi will give up a run, at some point. But the surges of players like Jason Bay and Jose Reyes are not aberrations, and there's reason to be optimistic that Mike Pelfrey is indeed graduating to a higher class of pitcher.

--Rod Barajas sat out last night's game with an injured right wrist.

--Good story by David Lennon, who explores the interesting dynamic between the 2010 Mets and their 1986 predecessors.

--Citi Field security cleared an area of stands before last night's game to deal with a suspicious package. It occurred right in front of the press box. For a while, we didn't suspect anything because, you know, the Mets haven't exactly been packing 'em in. But then, when we saw people not allowed to go to their seats, it struck us that something odd was going on.

--Gary Matthews Jr., like Ike Davis, grew up with a big-league ballplayer for a dad.

--Out in Minneapolis,...yup, Javier Vazquez got hammered again. Tuesday against Baltimore, at home, will be a good test for him. Will he tense up at all if he faces a jam, particularly at home with anxious fans? Or will he realize, "I'm Javy Vazquez!" the same way Keith Hernandez realized, "I'm Keith Hernandez!" in this episode of "Seinfeld" and take care of the lousy Orioles?

--Erik Boland wrote an interesting piece on Mark Teixeira, who is unflappable in the face of his terrible start. I don't view Teixeira as arrogant. I think that he thinks if he works hard - and he does - the results will eventually come. They won't, of course, at some point down the road, but you wouldn't think we're at that point yet.

--Curtis Granderson will return to the Yankees tonight, and that should make a significant difference. I'd be surprise if the Yankees disposed of Randy Winn this early in the season to make room for Granderson on the roster, so that they can keep the hot Kevin Russo. With Russo having options, and with his playing time dimished by the return of Granderson, anyway, it would seem to make more sense to ship Russo back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barres.

--Thanks to JE for alerting us to this interesting take on Alex Rodriguez and his home run shortage.

--Good piece by Jamey Newberg about the Rangers' heavy bullpen usage.

--Have an outstanding holiday weekend. No games for me until Monday, but I'll check in Sunday morning.



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