New York Mets: Josh Hamilton

Series preview: Mets at Angels

April, 11, 2014
Apr 11

USA TODAY SportsThe Mets are due to face Tyler Skaggs, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson this weekend in Anaheim.
METS (4-5, fourth place/NL East) at LOS ANGELES ANGELS (4-5, third place/AL West)

Friday: RHP Dillon Gee (0-0, 4.50) vs. LHP Tyler Skaggs (1-0, 0.00), 10:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jonathon Niese (0-1, 3.18) vs. RHP Jered Weaver (0-2, 6.00), 9:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Bartolo Colon (1-1, 2.08) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (1-1, 4.61), 3:35 p.m. ET

Angels short hops

• Left fielder Josh Hamilton, the reigning American League co-Player of the Week, fully tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb on a headfirst slide into first base Tuesday and may miss as much as two months. Ex-Met Collin Cowgill should see increased playing time in Hamilton’s absence, potentially platooning with J.B. Shuck. Cowgill, the Mets’ Opening Day starter in center field a season ago, was traded last June 25 to the Angels for minor-league outfielder Kyle Johnson, who currently is playing for Double-A Binghamton. Hamilton had been hitting .444 with two homers and six RBIs in 27 at-bats.

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty ImagesWith Josh Hamilton injured, that means more Collin Cowgill in the starting lineup for the Angels.

• Ex-Mets reliever Joe Smith signed a three-year, $15.75 million deal with the Angels as a free agent on Nov. 27. One reason for choosing L.A., aside from the money: His fiancée, Allie LaForce, is a CBS Sports host based at an Orange County studio. She is a former Cleveland sports anchor. While with the Cleveland Indians last season, the sidearmer jawed with now-ex-Met Justin Turner after a heated plate appearance.

• Center fielder Mike Trout, a 22-year-old Millville, N.J., native, signed a six-year, $144.5 million extension with the Angels on March 28. Based on average annual value, the contract became the largest ever for a player who had not yet reached three years of MLB service, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The deal is worth $24.08 million per year, which tops Buster Posey’s $18.56 million average annual salary that runs through 2021. By total value, Posey’s $167 million guarantee ranks No. 1 for a player with less than three years of MLB service, although that contract covers nine years. Trout would not have been eligible for arbitration for the first time until after this season. He was not eligible for free agency until after the 2017 season.

Albert Pujols, 34, had career lows last season with a .258 average, 17 homers, 64 RBIs, 99 games played and 443 plate appearances. He has a 10-year, $240 million contract that includes full no-trade protection. The contract runs through 2021, escalating to $30 million the final year. After a slow start to 2014, Pujols has homered in two straight games, giving him 494 long balls for his career. He would become the 26th player to reach the 500-homer plateau. Pujols also crossed 1,500 career RBIs this week, making him the only active player at that level -- unless you count Alex Rodriguez as active.

• The Angels are an MLB-best 84-44 in interleague play since 2007.

• When manager Mike Scioscia took over as manager of the Angels for the 2000 season, he essentially succeeded Terry Collins in that role (although Joe Maddon had managed the final 29 games in 1999).

• The Angels acquired third baseman David Freese and right-handed reliever Fernando Salas from the St. Louis Cardinals on Nov. 22 for Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk.

• Left-hander Tyler Skaggs limited Houston to one unearned run in eight innings in his season debut. The 22-year-old southpaw had been traded by the Angels to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 7, 2010 in the Dan Haren deal. He was reacquired from the D-backs in a three-team deal this past offseason that included Mark Trumbo landing in Phoenix.

• Catcher Chris Iannetta is hitless in his past 15 at-bats.

• DH Raul Ibanez, who is 41 years old and off to a 5-for-26 start, is two hits shy of 2,000 for his career. He would become the 12th active player with 2,000 hits and 300 homers.

• The Angels desperately need lefty relief help in a division that now includes Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo and Robinson Cano. The two planned left-handers in the bullpen have experienced medical issues. Rule 5 pick Brian Moran will require season-ending Tommy John surgery. And Sean Burnett, limited to 13 appearances last season due to an elbow injury that required surgery, had renewed discomfort during spring training and is not active. The lone lefty in the bullpen right now is Nick Maronde, who made his first career Opening Day roster. But lefty batters are hitting .323 with a .450 on-base percentage against Maronde in his three-year big-league career. Among the lefty relievers in Triple-A for the Angels: ex-Met Robert Carson.

• Hitting coach Don Baylor broke his right thigh bone catching the ceremonial first pitch from Vladimir Guerrero on Opening Day. Baylor, 64, hopes to return to the Angels by late May, but the standard recovery time for a fractured femur can be four to six months.

Jered Weaver, plagued by shoulder tendinitis for the past three seasons, has allowed nine runs (eight earned) in 12 innings through two starts. He has surrendered four homers. Weaver’s fastball velocity is averaging 85.9 mph this season. It has steadily declined each season since 2010, from 89.9 to 89.1 to 87.8 to 86.5 and now to its current level.

Landon Powell catches on with Mets

January, 22, 2013

Courtesy of Ron Powell
Landon Powell (left) and Josh Hamilton (right) were multi-sport teammates growing up, including in Pop Warner football.

After two surgeries to repair the ACL in his left knee and another to clean out cartilage, a scary ordeal during which he experienced the early stages of liver failure and may ultimately require a transplant, and career highlights such as catching Dallas Braden's perfect game, 30-year-old Landon Powell is the New York Mets' newest catcher.

He signed a minor league deal last week, reuniting with bench coach Bob Geren, his manager for three seasons with the Oakland Athletics.

Read the full feature story here.

The week in METrics (May 3-9)

May, 10, 2012

AP Photo/Matt SlocumJordany Valdespin was an unlikely hero in a week of unlikely wins.
The Mets went an improbable 5-1 in the past week and won series from two teams that made the 2011 postseason. Let's review their accomplishments, with help from here.

Stat of the Week
Elias reports that the Mets' sweep of the Phillies was the third time in team history that the Mets won a road series of at least three games despite trailing in each of those games. The others were in July 1986 in Cincinnati and in August-September 1987 in San Diego.

Snake Charmers

The Mets won two of three games from the Diamondbacks last weekend, bouncing back from a series-opening loss to take the last two games.

By doing so, the Mets won their third homestand of the season, albeit this one a three-gamer. They won only three homestands over the entire 2011 season.

With his win Saturday, Johan Santana improved to 3-0 for his career against the Diamondbacks. He’s halfway to the most consecutive wins to start a career against the Diamondbacks. Roy Oswalt and Tim Hudson each started 6-0 in their careers against Arizona.

Santana yielded only two ground balls in the game, matching the fewest he’d allowed in any start as a Met. The only other Mets start in which he allowed only two grounders was Opening Day in 2009, when he gave up only two in a 2-1 win over the Reds.

In addition to getting the win Sunday, R.A. Dickey survived another game without striking out as a hitter. Dickey has not struck out in his first six starts in 2012.

Dickey and Dwight Gooden are the only pitchers in Mets history to have their first six appearances of the season, all as a starting pitcher, all be strikeout-free. Gooden did so in both the 1984 and 1987 seasons.

In the series finale, the Mets won in a tidy 2:16. It was the second-shortest game in the history of the Mets-Diamondbacks rivalry, surpassed only by a 5-0 Mets win June 10, 2006 (2:14).

The Mets ended this series not having homered in six straight games, far from the club record of 17 straight games without a homer.

Let’s go for a 'Spin
Elias reports that Jordany Valdespin is the first player whose first career hit was a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning or later since Miguel Cabrera of the Marlins on June 20, 2003 (versus Tampa Bay).

That earned our Mets Moment of the Week status and gave us a chance to look back at other Mets pinch-hit homer notes.

It marked the 27th time the Mets got a go-ahead pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning or later. The Mets didn’t have any from 2006 to 2010, but now have them in consecutive seasons. Scott Hairston hit one last July 8 against Giants closer Brian Wilson.

It was the first go-ahead pinch-hit home run to drive in at least three runs in the ninth inning or later since Benny Agbayani’s pinch-hit grand slam in the second game of the 2000 season in Japan, the first to drive in exactly three since a walk-off home run by Jim Tatum against the Astros in 1998.

Valdespin hit the home run against a split-fingered fastball. Only two other Mets in the past four seasons have golfed a splitter located knee-high or below for a home run. The other two were Gary Sheffield in 2009 and Daniel Murphy last season.

Lastly, Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon has now given up five go-ahead home runs in the ninth inning or later against New York teams. Two have been to Mets (Omir Santos in 2009 and Valdespin). Three were against the other New York team (whose players we won’t mention here).

Ful’Phil’ing Victories
The Mets rallied from a 4-0 deficit to beat the Phillies 7-4 on Tuesday. The 10th comeback win of the season marked the first time in team history that the Mets won 10 of their first 30 games in come-from-behind fashion.

The last time the Mets trailed AND were being shut out by four or more runs in Philadelphia and came back to win was May 15, 1999, when they rallied from a 6-0 deficit to win in Philadelphia 9-7. The Mets won that day despite Mike Piazza hitting into a triple play.

The Mets completed the sweep with a 10-6 win in Philadelphia in the series finale Wednesday. It gave them their first sweep of a series of three or more games in Philadelphia since 2006.

The Mets won all three games by at least three runs, the first time they’ve won three straight games in the same series in Philadelphia, all by three runs or more.

Be like Ike
Ike Davis shook out of a slump with a three-run home run against Jose Contreras. The homer came against a pitch that was middle of the plate, knee-high.

That’s the one spot he’s done well this season. Davis is 7-for-15 this season in at-bats that ended with a pitch located knee-high in the middle of the plate. He has a combined nine hits in all other areas of the strike zone.

The chart on the right shows Davis’ performance by strike-zone location this season.

Joshing Around
On Tuesday, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton became the 16th player to hit four home runs in a game. There was a Mets connection to this one. The last home run came against former Mets reliever Darren O’Day.

Prior to Hamilton, the last three players with a four-homer game all went on to play for the Mets -- Mike Cameron, Shawn Green and Carlos Delgado. Two other “eventual Mets” also had a four-homer game -- Gil Hodges and Willie Mays.

There is a Mets pitching connection to each of the past four four-homer games.

Jon Rauch, then with the White Sox, allowed Cameron’s first home run while pitching for the 2002 White Sox. Green’s first of four home runs came against Glendon Rusch, who was a member of the 2002 Brewers. Future Met Jorge Sosa allowed the first two of Delgado’s home runs while pitching for the 2003 Rays.

The Mets have never had a four-homer game. They’ve had eight three-homer games. Six Mets -- Jim Hickman, Dave Kingman, Claudell Washington, Darryl Strawberry, Gary Carter and Edgardo Alfonzo -- hit three homers in a game and had at least one other plate appearance with a chance at a fourth, but failed to hit it.

Vintage Metsiemetric of the Week
The Mets won the last two games of the Diamondbacks series without recording an extra-base hit. They hadn’t won back-to-back games without recording an extra-base hit since May 1995.

The Mets have registered back-to-back wins without recording an extra-base hit eight times.

Our weekly time-machine trip takes us to the first instance -- June 10 and 11, 1968, when they beat the Dodgers, 1-0 and 3-0 in Los Angeles. The Mets combined for 16 singles in those two games, winning on the strength of shutouts from Tom Seaver and Dick Selma.

Mets morning briefing 6.25.11

June, 25, 2011
Mike Pelfrey and Manny Acosta combined to surrender three two-run homers and the Mets lost the opener to a six-game road trip, 8-1 to the Rangers on Friday night.

Saturday's news reports:

Barbara Barker in Newsday tells the story of how Dillon Gee, who faces his hometown team Sunday, came to be drafted by the Mets. Gee had been invited to a tryout camp at a junior college, but it was called off because of rain. Writes Barker:

Gee's father, Kevin, had taken a day off from his job with the Fort Worth fire department to attend the tryout. As they prepared to return home, Kevin noticed that the team had pulled a few of the players aside and told them not to leave. "They were going to bus those kids two hours to the Astrodome in Houston for a tryout," (mother) Kelly said. "Dillon was not one of those kids." Kevin approached a friendly-looking scout and told him he really ought to see his son pitch. The scout told him if he wanted to make the drive on his own with Dillon, they would take a look at him. The Mets liked what they saw, or liked it enough to end up making Gee the 633rd overall pick. He signed with them for only $20,000.

Francisco Rodriguez was not thrilled with any implication he did not want to remain a Met. As for the Yankees, the Post reports they're not interested in him in the Bronx anyway. And a second article in the newspaper quoted an anonymous Mets official saying it's too dangerous to do business with the Yankees, so the only scenario in which the teams would engage in a swap is if the Mets are overwhelmed. Read more in Newsday.

• Read game stories in the Record, Star-Ledger, Newsday, Post, Daily News and Times.

• Pitching coach Dan Warthen said Chris Capuano, who had adominal cramping last outing, will be fine to pitch on turn Wednesday in Detroit. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Davey Johnson is poised to become manager of the Washington Nationals. Mookie Wilson approves.

Jeff Pearlman looks at the Mets getting fleeced of Tom Seaver in an all-time horrific trade. The Journal article notes that Jose Reyes, should he be traded, would not rival the Seaver deal in terms of trading an icon. Writes Pearlman:

Like Seaver, Reyes is often the only reason to watch the Mets play. Like Seaver... well, never mind. "The comparison isn't a good one," says Marty Appel, a baseball historian who spent much of the 1970s as the New York Yankees media relations director. "Tom Seaver was an icon. Tom Seaver was the franchise. Trading him was like the Braves trading Hank Aaron or if the Pirates traded Roberto Clemente. Jose Reyes is a great player. But is he what Tom Seaver was to the city? Not even close."

• After Texas' Josh Hamilton broached the topic of blue eyes being a detriment to daytime hitting, Jason Bay agreed. "I do know that if you have blue eyes you are more susceptible to brightness or whatever," Bay told The Times' David Waldstein. "I know that, and I do have very blue eyes.”

BIRTHDAY: Alejandro Pena turns 52. Pena went 9-4 in two seasons with the Mets, before being traded in mid-1991. Pena eventually would inherit the closer role for the NL champion Braves and was the losing pitcher in Game 7 of the World Series against the Twins. ... Carlos Delgado turns 39. Delgado hit 104 home runs for the Mets and his .506 slugging percentage for the team ranks fourth in franchise history. -Mark Simon



Bartolo Colon
9 4.03 100 134
BAD. Murphy .289
HRL. Duda 17
RBIL. Duda 53
RD. Murphy 58
OPSL. Duda .855
ERAJ. Niese 3.13
SOZ. Wheeler 121