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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Duaner Savings Time

It's spring ahead, fall back tonight at 2 AM, so in honor of the clocks jerking forward three weeks earlier than necessary, I suppose it's time to take Spring Training a little more seriously.
The Mets have just allowed their pretend record to dip to 3-8 with an irritating-sounding loss to the Nationals. It may have looked bad, too, but it was a WFAN-only affair (which, with Hockey Howie otherwise engaged in Uniondale, only made it sound worse). Once I get past the gee whiz, good golly, Donald Rumsfeld-type exclamations of awe that there is baseball being played somewhere, I've noticed that almost every game to date — eight of eleven, to be exact — has involved a shoddy display of Met defense, Met offense, Met fundamentals, Met relief and Met starting in roughly that order.
They don't sound ready for spring or spring ahead or even Spring Training. Thankfully it matters not a whit in real time, but it gets late early around here, y'know?
Speaking of whom, what the fudge is up with Duaner Sanchez? Last year we discovered Duaner, Duaner discovered Queens and all was good with the world until Cecil Wiggins discovered his car keys. We enter these seasons taking several things for granted based on widely held assumptions. One of them was that Sanchez overcame the car wreck, the surgery, the winter and now he'd be ready for Opening Day. It appears very much that he won't be. And that's cool, because who the hell are we to tell a guy who's been through that kind of trauma to get his body in gear exactly when we want it?
But Duaner, you can get to camp on time every morning. That's big with managers and coaches. Even John Madden, the quintessential loosey-goosey head honcho who harbored the hijinks of John Matuszak and all those wacky Raiders, said he had but three rules:
• Be on time
• Pay attention
• Play like hell when I tell you to
The on-time part came first (which means I never would have made it with the Raiders; or the Randolphs). So wake up, Filthy. We need you eventually. And it's your job.
As for everybody else, whatever percentage of life Woody Allen ascribed to showing up isn't getting it done. Are we really going to war with the bench we have and not the bench we want? Jesus Alou, this is not encouraging. Castro is Castro. Fine. Franco's a legacy. Whatever. Endy is awesome. No complaints. I don't begrudge Easley or Newhan for that matter.
But we could use a guy who could hit one out now and then as a matter of course, not as a total surprise. Ruben Sierra probably won't limp across the finish line, but he can pop. Ben Johnson has been mighty intriguing. Is there room? Do we have to carry 12 pitchers, thus making it untenable to have more than five role players, all of whom left the yard a grand total of 22 occasions last year?
Yeah, probably. We need to carry those seven relievers. But which seven?
Wagner and Heilman (you're a reliever, learn to deal). Schoeneweis and Feliciano (yes, we have us some lefties). And? No Mota until at least June. No Sanchez until nobody knows. That leaves…
Ambiorix Burgos? I'd like to think so. The wolves will be out for his first mistake, no matter what cooler heads advise, yet he's kind of my cause this spring. But those ninth-inning, Bo Diaz-style grand slams aren't going to cut it (he pitched much better today…by the sound of it).
Joe Smith? Now there's a baseball name for you. I get the sense, based on my two glimpses thus far, that he's a novelty that will only go so far. But then again, I don't wear a jacket all the time, so what could I possibly know about pitching?
Jason Vargas? We could use a long man.
Jorge Sosa? We could use a long man, but not him (he's sort of the rule-proving exception for In Omar We Trust, at least until I'm presented compelling and overwhelming evidence to the contrary).
Alay Soler? Not after today. I could dig up the stats, but suffice it to say Tom McCarthy and Eddie Coleman weren't impressed, and if you can't impress Eddie Coleman, you're coming up way short. (And if you want a terrific take on Mets broadcasters, take a gander at a terrific new blog, The Ballclub; gads, we so have to update our links.)
Jon Adkins? I'm too focused on Ben Johnson among the ex-Padres to have noticed much from him.
Chad Bradford? Crap. He's not here anymore.
Some years this would be window dressing. This year it's critical. Even with Maine and Perez in the rotation (I think they're givens at this point), you know inning-eating is going to be at a premium among these five starters, whoever these five starters are. Almost nobody goes seven anymore. Hardly anybody goes six. Whether rookie Pelfrey or wily Park gets the fifth spot — it's got to be one of those two, and in a chilly April, I wouldn't mind it being Park — there will be work for the bullpen. It's amazing how quickly a seven-man corps can deplete itself after a couple of quickie hooks.
My analytical skills are rusty. If any of this made sense, I'd be surprised as anyone. Either way, it doesn't count. Clock ahead, clock back…it's still spring. We may be 3-8, but we're really still oh and oh.
Seriously, though. Duaner Sanchez, take your wakeup call.

24 comments to Duaner Savings Time

  • Anonymous

    Bo Diaz? I hadn't thought of him since that ill-fated Nike ad campaign, “Bo doesn't know satellite dishes…”

  • Anonymous

    I have never followed an ST this close, so I advise the same caution for others I'm trying hard to employ myself: the '86 team was 12-12(?); pitching changes are made so guys can get their work done, not for the usual reason; it's only 11 games in; some guys always have shitty STs; etc.
    You already knew all this, but any record like 3-8 has a magical way of raising the blood pressure and squeezing the testicles, regardless of logic. Out goes the bad air, in comes the good…repeat as necessary.

  • Anonymous

    I believe an 8 and 3 or 9 and 2 spring record to date would have brought forth a bit of “save it for when it counts, boys” from some quarters.
    It's all a big yawn with health being absolutely the only relevant issue when the team heads north.

  • Anonymous

    Duaner: Get that man on Adderall, yesterday (or do I mean eight months ago?). Or maybe some nice dopaminergic amino acids (L-tyrosine is very nice). Speed is OK in nice little tiny psychiatrist-sanctioned droplets that are a fraction of the amount in greenies and white crosses, if you really do have problems with the awake-and-alert thing even with a full night of sleep (and believe me, I can identify). I assume MLB does not have a problem with this as long as it is doctor-prescribed; if they do, stick with the aminos, they work fine as long as you have a knowledgeable naturopath give you the right dosages.
    Soler: Probably no drugs exist that can help this man. He is channeling Wayne Twitchell all the way. Either that or he is very hungry for N.O. crawfish. Can't blame him, it's supposed to be the best in America.
    Everybody else: Bah, who cares. It's March 10. They haven't even made the first round of cuts yet. No manager is managing to win, they're managing to evaluate players, and anyone who has the team already made isn't busting his coccyx yet either. Wilie only took Soler out of the game because he'd seen more than enough.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, they did make the first round of cuts already, Thursday, which is when I decided I needed to watch these games with as much as an eye-and-a-half. Uberprospects Fernando Martinez and Kevin Mulvey were among 14 sent out. Two catchers gone caught my attention:
    1) Mike Nickeas, the barter exchanged last August for Victor Diaz. He is of interest if we are to maintain the Tim Bogar chain. Bogar was traded for Luis Lopez who was traded for Bill Pulsipher (II) who was traded for Lenny Harris (II) who was traded for Jeromy Burnitz (II) who was traded for Diaz. Anyway, Gary Cohen mentioned Nickeas was big and catcherlike, or something along those lines. I don't know about Nickeas' future, but if Bogar chain participant precedent indicates anything, Victor will be back before long.
    2) Joe Hietpas, the 162nd game, ninth-inning wonder of 2004 who saw the Major Leagues through the good graces of Art Howe's last act as Mets manager. He is beginning his third season of never making it back. When you've got Mike DiFelice blocking your way, you might want to look into coaching.

  • Anonymous

    I was doing some serious tenth-inning pacing during today's meaningless exhibition game. Fans gotta get their anxieties in shape, too.

  • Anonymous

    Ooh, they cut Mike Nickeas and Joe Hietpas? Wow, that must have been a wrenching decision!
    OK, so they cut the guys who really had no business being there in the first place, except that they needed a few extra bodies around for a few weeks who were willing to squat. And a couple of other kids who were obviously a few years away. Soler still had a little bit of reputation left, and who knows, Willie might actually give him one more chance before sending him out on a rail. I can't get too excited, really.

  • Anonymous

    Filthy?! Oh God, Greg… take that back or I'll never be able to look at him again. And I hope to be looking at him for many years to come.
    As for the suckitude we're clearly exhibiting during this exhibition season… I'm trying not to let it get to me. I prefer to think that a magic wand will be waved on April 1st. But I am completely fed up with this G-D-M-F'ing pitching situation, that's for sure. For heaven's sake, Omar the Magnificent… DO SOMETHING!!!

  • Anonymous

    Grungy Sanchez it is.
    Somebody somewhere has caught onto the Joe Hietpas situation — Joe Hietpas himself. Adam Rubin reported in the News today that our own Mr. Moonlight will take a day job as a pitcher, trying to follow the Henry Owens 2 to 1 route to the majors. Good luck, Joe. We cheered your one inning, we'll cheer another if you get that far.

  • Anonymous

    Then there was the Daily News cover story where Madden (?) advocated the Mets hurry up and cut Duaner now before he can screw up the entire team's work ethic, undo all Willie and Omar's great work, and usher in a new 70s-like era of misery. Either a pathetic attempt to manufacture a story on a slow news day, or (more likely) a desperation attempt by the Yankee fans in the DN sports department to put the Mets in a bad light to counteract the Tampa soap opera. “Look, the Mets have problems too!”. Yeah, OK, let's cut the best setup man in the NL last year 'cause he's a little lazy coming back from injury.

  • Anonymous

    My friends and I have been calling him Dirty Sanchez from Day 1. It's just too funny. Well, the Missus didn't think so, but she's not as juvenile as we are.

  • Anonymous

    Omar and Willie have created that wonderful culture but are too ineffectual to get to Sanchez. Hey Madden, Lou Piniella's over there. Why don't you go quote him?

  • Anonymous

    CUT DUANER SANCHEZ??? They really said that? Oh, Lord above. Could you imagine if after all this there was no Duaner Sanchez? As if the exiling of Xavier Nady wasn't painful enough already?
    This gives me a headache.

  • Anonymous

    Don't take this the wrong way, especially coming as it does from a guy whose favorite player (well, 2nd or third) was a .230 lifetime hitter… but you form pretty strong attachments to some odd players, huh? I mean, I was bummed when they traded Nady too, but it wasn't exactly June 15, 1977.

  • Anonymous

    The kid played his heart out and didn't deserve what happened. And you bet I'd rather have him in there than another 40-year-old (or Shawn Green… same difference). Especially if it turns out that, like Rick Reed, he was traded for no good reason, i.e. we ended up with nothing remotely close to what we gave up… another shortsighted panic move when there was no real reason to panic.
    (I formed a strong attachment to Endy, too… not so odd!)

  • Anonymous

    No one deserves having to play in Pittsburgh. Well, maybe Roidger Clemens does.
    Those who hadn't formed an Endy attachment before sure did so after The Catch. Can't wait to hear the ovation he gets at the Opener.

  • Anonymous

    I would say that Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez was a very very very good trade for Xavier Nady– the Mets got amazing value out of a player who really amounts to an average ML outfielder. Hernandez, on the other hand, was a dominating reliever having one of his best years, and Oliver Perez has tons of upside– not to mention what he did in the NLCS. Let's not turn this into July 31st, 2004.

  • Anonymous

    Oliver Perez didn't implode in the NLCS as many expected. But let's not turn him into Curt Schilling in the bloody sock game. If not for the greatest catch of all time, Oliver Perez would have had a decidedly poor pitching line in game 7. And I can't help but wonder how it would have all turned out if it had been Nady rather than Green going back on Spiezio's triple in game 2.
    Yeah, I know. What if, what if, what if.
    I think that trade was an understandable panic move by Omar, and panic moves rarely work out well.
    It's no Kazmir trade, I'll agree.
    But I'm little reluctant to concur with the “very very very good” view just yet.

  • Anonymous

    Not to take the weasely way out, but this is one of those series of speculations that make baseball great. The “panic” move seemed not altogether unjustified in the fallout of July 31. The throw-in seemed inconsequential until about ten weeks later when he was throwin' in Games 4 and 7 of the NLCS (and acquitting himself if not raising the roof). The main guy, Hernandez, is gone. The gone guy, Nady, hit .300 over the last two months of '06. And O.P. is still, due respect to the X Man, the x-factor. We can harbor our hunches and biases, but we really don't know what to make of it yet.
    Remember, we had an instant steal of a deal in 1983 when we robbed Houston of a dependable fourth OF/deluxe PH for some scatter-armed righthander we'd given multiple futile tryouts to. Two years later, Mike Scott for Danny Heep didn't look so Met-friendly. Three years later…well, you know. Still, Heep filled a need and the Mets never missed Scott (except in unplayed Game Seven, praise be).
    Trades: the ultimate you-never-knows.

  • Anonymous

    With all due respect Greg, I believe your judgement continues to be impeded by your inexplicable searing hatred for Danny Heep.
    But seriously, most Mets fans understandably focus their “what if” energy on Beltran vs. Wainwright in the 9th inning. I find myself more and more going back to a 1:30am taxi ride in Miami in late July.
    As you said, you never know.
    Guess I'm not as over '06 as I thought I was.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe my brain is fuzzy, but I remember Roberto hardly being used after the trade. And I will not even attempt to compare Shawn Green to Xavier Nady. The whole thing was insane. “Let's go spend millions on a [has-been] right-fielder when we already HAD one who was doing a fine job…” Oh and of course “let's get that guy back who we never should have let leave to begin with…” Was Omar channeling Steve Phillips last year with these bonehead moves???
    I'm with AlbertsonMets in that Beltran vs. Wainwright made complete sense. I'm way over it. “What Might Have Been Had Cecil F'ing Wiggins Not Gotten Behind the Wheel” is the one that will haunt me. Dumping Green and getting Nady back this offseason would have been a heckuva smart move. (As would putting Endy in there every day instead of dropping millions at the ancient feet of Moises Alou, but I can only take so much aggravation right now…)

  • Anonymous

    Guillermo Mota, however he was getting it done, came along three weeks later and made Hernandez redundant.
    One lucky fan's name should be drawn, given a Hummer and be allowed to chase Cecil Wiggins around what's left of the parking lot for 60 seconds. Or minutes.

  • Anonymous

    Sponsored by whatever Wiggins was drinking that night.

  • Anonymous

    I'd learn to drive–AND start drinking–just to enter that contest. Then I'd get totally wasted and mow that motherf**ker DOWN.