The Mets are in town as the Cubs return home from a 3-4 trip that sure seemed a lot worse than that. The North Siders are coming home without the services of Marlon Byrd for the foreseeable future, opening the door for Tyler Colvin's return ... but Hendry and company chose door number two, Lou Montanez.
The former first round pick joins Tony Campana and Reed Johnson, giving the Cubs three (below) replacement level outfielders. Sorry, but Colvin should have a spot. This is not a contending team, unless you count trying to stay closer to the Pirates than the Astros as a race of some kind.
Pending roster moves could include Matt Garza to the 15-day DL (to make room for Montanez on the 25-man roster) and Andrew Cashner to the 60-day DL (to make room for Montanez on the 40-man roster) (update: Brian Schlitter was moved to the 60-day instead...yes, he's a Cub again because his injury allowed the Yankees to reverse their waiver claim). Did I mention Jeff Baker's groin injury? The only remaining question seems to be will Bobby Scales bat lead-off or clean-up in June.
While the Cubs come apart on the field, the Mets are coming apart from the front office. They've actually played pretty well since a being 5-13 on April 20. So a 17-11 stretch (including two straight losses to the Yankees this weekend) should be the story as this team arrives from New York, not Fred Wilpon's musings.
Jonathon Niese gets game one for the Metropolitans. It will be career start 48 for the righty from Ohio. 2010 was his first full season in the majors for the ground ball pitcher. Niese started showing signs of missing bats (.2 whiff rate in 2010 was nearly league average) but has seemingly reverted to a pitch-to-contact guy (.16 whiff) with extreme ground ball tendencies (52% in 2010).
In "+" metrics (relative to a league average of 100), Niese's 2011 ground ball rate is 116. Equally impressive is his IWZ+ of 112 (he's in the wide zone roughly 58% of the time, three 'seasons' running).
The small shifts in pitch mix from 2010 to 2011 seem to corroborate the outcomes.