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Ishii and Zmabrano

Jun 30 2005 11:07 AM

From the Times article...

]While Zambrano has at least managed to string together 10 quality starts in a row...

Is that really an accomplishment to be damned with such faint praise?

Yancy Street Gang
Jun 30 2005 11:09 AM

Getting a quality start isn't all that impressive, but getting ten in a row is pretty good.

I think Zambrano's turning out to be pretty good. It's too bad that so many Mets fans seem to want him to fail.

Jun 30 2005 11:12 AM

Could you plese link the article, Zambrano has done good with little run support, tough to watch at times but that's ok.

Jun 30 2005 11:17 AM

Zambrano's been very good. His ERA has dropped from 5.81 to 3.84, which places him 27th in the NL, ahead of guys like Carlos Zambrano, Jason Marquis, Jeff Weaver, and Javier Vazquez.

In fact, only NINE starters in all of baseball who have made as many starts (9) since May 5 have had a lower ERA than Zambrano. The guy has been beyond pretty good... I know he's frustrating with the walks and the jams, and he's only 3-3 over those starts, but he's been very good.

Edgy DC
Jun 30 2005 11:30 AM

In Tuesday's game, with the Mets up 2-1, he almost blows it by loading the bases on two walks and an HbP. He's shaking Piazza off left and right, forsaking hard stuff for junky chase-this changes off the plate that he Phils aren't chasing. He then falls behind Chase Utley 3-1 including a ball Piazza had to do a good job blocking in the dirt. He gets strike two on a hard foul. Then somehow fans Utley with an inside slider on the black (that might have been called a ball if Utley doesn't swing, if I recall correctly).

That's his 101st pitch in five innings and he's clearly done. Your heart is begging Randolph to get him out of there, even though you don't want to try and squeeze four innings out of the pen in a one-run game. Fortunately, the Mets blow the game open with four in the bottom of the inning.

So, you can calmly look back and say, well, he got the job done, and credit him. But, before you sleep, realize you never want him to put you through that again.

Welcome to baseball.

Jun 30 2005 11:31 AM

="metirish"]Could you plese link the article, Zambrano has done good with little run support, tough to watch at times but that's ok.

I don't think you can access the Times articles if you're not registered so here it is...

June 30, 2005
Ishii May Be Walking His Way Out of the Mets' Rotation
Somewhere in the major leagues there must be a team patient and understanding enough to have Kazuhisa Ishii and Victor Zambrano in the same starting rotation.

Such a place would congratulate Zambrano for winning a game in which he throws more balls than strikes. Such a place would applaud Ishii for recording a strikeout after walking the bases loaded. The fans would talk more about potential than about control problems.

But New York is not that place, and the Mets are not that team. One night after Manager Willie Randolph expressed frustration with Zambrano in a victory, he had reason to fume at Ishii for a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies last night at Shea Stadium. After the game, Randolph said that Ishii was still in the starting rotation, but it became clear that his spot was no longer set in stone.

"I'm not going to talk to you guys about making changes on a pitcher before I talk to the pitcher," Randolph told reporters. "If you're looking for his head, I'm not going to give you that." He added: "You don't want to keep a guy out there who struggles. If and when we decide to do something along those lines, we'll do it." Randolph concluded his news conference in an ominous tone. "We'll see," he said. "We'll see."

Ishii and Zambrano come from different continents and speak different languages, but they seem to have been produced by the same school of pitching. It is as if someone taught them not to throw strikes so they would not give up hits. They both have natural movement on their pitches, making it even more difficult to tell where the ball is heading.

Ishii worked three and a third innings last night, two of which he started with walks. To kick off the fourth, he walked the first three batters he faced, loading the bases with no outs. Randolph turned away in disgust and dialed the bullpen on the dugout telephone. He had let Zambrano pitch five innings the previous night, but he was not going to let Ishii make it through four.

But Ishii and Zambrano have a way of disarming Randolph as quickly as they may irritate him. When Ishii struck out the Philadelphia cleanup hitter, Jim Thome, with the bases loaded, then started David Bell with two strikes, Randolph must have assumed he was witnessing another great escape. The night before, Zambrano loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batsman, only to wiggle free with a couple of head-turning changeups.

Just as Randolph must have started to relax, Bell hit a two-run single and Chase Utley pounded a three-run homer. They were the only two hits Ishii allowed, but the walks made them crucial.

"I just get too cautious," Ishii said through his interpreter. "I think I need to be a lot more aggressive. I want to pitch really well for this team. It's important for me. I think I can bring my level up instead of being so evasive with my pitches. I need to be better."

Ishii is every bit as erratic as Zambrano, and he may be an even slower worker, often removing his hat between pitches. While Zambrano has at least managed to string together 10 quality starts in a row, Ishii is 2-7 with a 5.68 earned run average, the least successful starter in a deep rotation. At this time last week, the Mets appeared ready to give up on Ishii and replace him with Aaron Heilman, but Ishii again demonstrated his survival skills and beat the Phillies.

Ishii is entering a jam he might not be able to coax his way out of. The Mets not only have Heilman, who was cheered when he relieved Ishii, but they also expect starting pitcher Steve Trachsel to return from back surgery by August. Trachsel may not have the upside of Ishii or Zambrano, but he throws strikes, and this season those have been in short supply at the back end of the rotation.

"Kaz just sort of loses his release point and his head starts flying out," catcher Mike Piazza said. "Then he can't pick it back up."

Neither could the Mets, who wasted Cliff Floyd's 21st home run of the season and Jose Offerman's second pinch-hit home run of his career. Oddly enough, Offerman's first pinch-hit homer came last month, when he was playing for the Phillies.

From the beginning, the Mets were slow taking the field. They endured a 34-minute rain delay and did not even leave the dugout when the song "Bring Em Out" was played over the loudspeaker. "Bring Em Out" is generally the cue for the Mets to take their positions. Soon enough, a variation of that title could become the theme song for Ishii.

Jun 30 2005 11:31 AM[/url]

Edgy DC
Jun 30 2005 11:33 AM

I hate the New York-is-special-because-of-our-intolerance angle. It's disappointing to see The Times play it.

Johnny Dickshot
Jun 30 2005 11:43 AM

I like rooting for Zambrano cuz he is capable of outstanding stuff and even if he gets cuffed from time to time over the long haul he gives the guys a chance to win more often that not. Plus, he shuts up the critics who want to believe that just because he was involved in an unpopular trade, he deserves a special level of derision. F those guys!

But my real point in responding was this great quote from WWSB:

] "If you're looking for his head, I'm not going to give you that."

I'm not a huge WWSB fan ... I'm kinda indifferent mainly, but this was the right thing to say, and said in such a way that the newspapers guys themselves think to include it. Well done WWSB.

Edgy DC
Jun 30 2005 11:54 AM
Edited 1 time(s), most recently on Jun 30 2005 12:02 PM

i agree that standing up to the media has been a strong suit of Willie's, and I hope his players appreciate it.

Jun 30 2005 11:58 AM


I think Ishii would be a lot more effective as a lefty out of the pen than as a starter. But Heilman, assuming he takes his place in the rotation, needs to stop being afraid to throw in the strike zone once he gets ahead of batters. It seemed like he kept going 0-2 or 1-2 and then winding up at 3-2 last night. And the guy he walked wound up scoring.

Anybody have a timetable on Trachsel's return?

I know plenty of people are still venting over "that trade" (myself included), but I'm certainly not rooting against Zambrano. I'm just worried that his narrow escapes might have more to do with luck than with skill. Still, he's been a net plus for us so far this year.

Jun 30 2005 12:09 PM

Zambrano's ERA is unsustainable unless he figures out how to walk and hit fewer batters. IMO, he has been lucky, not good.

He is Al Leiter 2004, but he allows even more baserunners than Al did. I don't see how anyone could watch or listen to Victor's starts and think that he can possibly keep his ERA as low as it has been.

The league average WHIP is 1.38. Victor's is 1.52. Include the 8 batters he's hit, and it goes up to 1.62. That's horrible.

Now, I will say that he's been solidly good in 4 of his last 6 starts, so maybe he's slowly turning a corner, but despite the decrease in his ERA, his last two starts have been very discouraging.