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Brewers - Mets Series Preview: Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before ...

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Tonight, YOUR Milwaukee Brewers start a three-game series against the New York Mets, who roll into town having shut out the NL Champion Phillies in three consecutive wins.  And they didn't even need Johan Santana to turn that trick.  Ruh-roh.

2009 record vs. Mets: 3-3, 24 runs scored, 18 runs allowed

Current three-game series:

  • Friday, May 28, 2010 @ 7:10 p.m. CDT. TV: FS Wisconsin  Radio: 620 WTMJ
  • Saturday, May 29, 2010 @ 6:10 p.m. CDT. TV: FS Wisconsin  Radio: 620 WTMJ
  • Sunday, May 30, 2010 @ 1:10 p.m. CDT. TV: FS Wisconsin  Radio: 620 WTMJ and 1510 WRRD

Mets Probable Starters (in order):

  • Johan Santana (4-2, 3.41 ERA in 2010; 2009 vs. MIL: 2 GS, 1-1, 3.46 ERA, 11 SO, 4 BB, 1 HR allowed)
  • Fernando Nieve (1-2, 5.09 ERA in 2010; 2009 vs. MIL: 1 GS, 0-1, 8.10 ERA, 1 SO, 1 BB, 1 HR allowed)
  • R.A. Dickey (1-0, 1.50 ERA in 2010; 2009 vs. MIL: 2 G, 0 GS, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 SO, 0 BB, 0 HR allowed)

Brewers Probable Starters (in order):

  • Yovani Gallardo (2009 vs. NYM: 2 GS, 0-1, 0.69 ERA, 19 SO, 4 BB, 0 HR allowed)
  • Manny Parra (did not face NYM in 2009)
  • Randy Wolf (2009 vs. NYM: 2 GS, 1-0, 2.57 ERA, 5 SO, 4 BB, 0 HR allowed)

BATTING LEADERS

Mets  
                  Brewers
Batting average Jason Bay, .297 Batting average Ryan Braun, .322
On-base percentage Ike Davis, .400
On-base percentage Prince Fielder, .393
Slugging Rod Barajas, .552 Slugging Braun, .541
OPS Davis, .866 OPS Braun, .934
Home runs Barajas, 10 Home runs Casey McGehee, Corey Hart: 9
Runs batted in David Wright, 33 Runs batted in McGehee, 41
Runs scored Bay, 31 Runs scored Braun, 36
Stolen bases Jose Reyes, 11 Stolen bases Braun, 10
wOBA Davis, .379 wOBA Braun, .418
WAR Angel Pagan, 1.9
WAR McGehee, 1.4


PITCHING LEADERS

Mets  
             
Brewers
Wins Mike Pelfrey, 7 Wins Gallardo, Narveson, Wolf: 4
ERA Francisco Rodriguez, 1.88
ERA Carlos Villanueva, 2.81
FIP Raul Veldes, 2.28
FIP Villanueva, 3.10
SO Johan Santana, 49
SO Gallardo, 66
K/9 Manny Acosta, 10.5
K/9 Villanueva, 11.9
WHIP Rodriguez, 1.08 WHIP Villanueva, 1.21
IP Pelfrey, 63.2 IP Randy Wolf, 61.2
Saves Rodriguez, 9 Saves Trevor Hoffman, 5
WAR Pelfrey, Santana: 1.2 WAR Gallardo, 1.2

 

After the jump: if you haven't been locked in the crawl space for the last month, you've probably heard that Mets' skipper Jerry Manuel is on the hot seat.  Sound familiar?  It should, because Manuel and Ken Macha have faced similar obstacles and have come under fire for many of the same reasons this season.  Notes and quotes below, if you're interested.

Though the mobs have quieted somewhat with New York's recent five-game winning streak, there have been a number of fans and media types calling for Jerry Manuel's head this season.  Amongst those leading the charge is Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post, who, after the Mets lost five games in a row in the middle of May, wrote:

But the Mets’ season is suddenly in grave danger of spinning hopelessly out of control, leaking feebly into the sewer. So there is only one person to identify as a culprit here, and that is the manager whose message no longer resonates and whose vision is no longer focused.

... Unfortunately for him, Manuel has become the piece most in need of replacing. He is a good and decent man, but increasingly his in-game decisions and demeanor have been maddening, his uber-reliance on small-ball, his puzzling lineup decisions.

Before the Mets began their Subway Series against the Yankees, ESPN New York's Ian O'Connor was singing a similar tune:

The Mets always lead the league in failed execution, which is why Manuel is destined to meet Willie Randolph's fate. Maybe it will happen a little later than sooner, but it will happen. This isn't a team that looks in the mood to save anyone, never mind a manager who isn't afraid to brush back his own guys.

Manuel benched Jeff Francoeur when Francoeur didn't want to be benched in front of his parents, and he benched Wright when Wright didn't want to be benched against a pitcher he'd owned, Livan Hernandez.

Not everyone is ready to assign the blame to Manuel -- Bill Price of the New York Daily News, for example, thinks that Manuel's doing his best despite being shackled with shoddy parts:

I have to apologize to Jerry Manuel for some of the venom I directed at him during Friday's loss to the Yankees.

When I saw Elmer Dessens trotting in from the bullpen Friday, I nearly blew a gasket. And when he couldn't get anyone out, I broke my own rule regarding twittering at a game, and started to take some shots at Jerry.

But it wasn't until Saturday night when I realized how unfair I had been. You see, everytime Jerry has to go to his pen it's a crapshoot no matter who he brings out. Maybe he thought he would catching lightning in a bottle with Dessens. You can't blame him.

Regardless of whether Manuel deserves to be canned, it looked like the ax was going to fall during a recent road trip: much like Brewers' owner Mark Attanasio made an appearance in Minneapolis last week only to defend his beleaguered manager, Mets' C.O.O. Jeff Wilpon joined the team in Atlanta ten days ago, just after the Mets had been swept by the Marlins in a four-game series.  But Wilpon wasn't there to deliver a pink slip:

Wilpon, however, tried to dampen that speculation when he spoke to reporters shortly before 6 p.m. as his team prepared to play the Braves in the first game of two-game series.

He said he had flown to Atlanta because he wanted to hear first hand the ideas that team officials had "on how to straighten things out.’’

Bob Klapisch of NorthJersey.com, for one, thinks that Wilpon and the rest of the team brass should **** or get off the pot instead of leaving Manuel twisting in the wind:

If Jeff Wilpon and Omar Minaya want to legitimize their team, they need to come to a unbreakable decision about Manuel. He’s either the manager they believe can take them to the postseason, or he is not. After they cast their vote, the front office should either announce Manuel is keeping his job for the rest of the year, or else just fire him now.

... [O]nly a week ago Manuel was so close to being dismissed, senior officials were busy conducting an informal job interview with Bob Melvin in the owners’ suite. While the Mets were taking 2-of-3 from the Yankees, Melvin was being queried about the changes he would make if he were to succeed Manuel.

In terms of the product on the field, it's been a mixed bag for the Mets.  For the most part, the Mets' pitching staff has performed very well, compiling a 3.64 cumulative ERA in 48 games.  That said, the Mets have had to deal with their share of headaches: Oliver Perez and his $12 million anchor were banished to the bullpen after a string of ineffective starts; Jon Niese landed on the DL after hurting the same leg that he blew out last year, forcing the club to summon 35-year-old knuckleballer R.A. Dickey from AAA; and a week ago, John Maine got yanked from his start against the Nationals after just five pitches when Manuel decided that Maine didn't look right.  Maine, you might have heard, was none too pleased with that turn of events:

Maine said he was not in any pain and strongly criticized Manuel for not being more patient with him, and for not asking him how he felt before bringing in Raul Valdes from the bullpen.

"There’s no reason I should be seeing a (expletive) doctor tomorrow," Maine said. "I feel something all the time. We’re pitchers. Every pitcher does."

... "I’m sure he doesn’t have any confidence in me," Maine said. "Whatever. My dealings are with Dan [Warthen, New York's pitching coach]. Whatever Jerry does, Jerry does."

Maine's not the only one upset with Manuel, though: third baseman David Wright also took a jab at Manuel after Manuel sat Wright in the midst of a slump:

"I don't fill out the lineup card," Wright said. "It's Jerry's decision. He wants to get [Fernando] Tatis in there. I'll be out on the bench supporting these guys, but the important thing is to go out there and win, and if he feels Tatis gives us the best chance to do that tonight, I'm all for it."

To his credit, Manuel seems to be taking all of this in stride, joking with reporters about his job situation:

At one point, he emerged from the meeting, saw a group of reporters watching and laughed. "I have a uniform on, don’t I?" he said. Later, when asked if he worried about his job, he replied with a smile, "Maybe I should, huh?"

His willingness to joke about his job is certainly not new. After his third game in June 2008, Manuel jokingly asked for an extension. Earlier this season, when he was asked about the team playing well and how that might ease the pressure on him, Manuel responded with his signature laugh, "I don’t see anyone offering me an extension."

Time will tell whether Manuel keeps his job, but, like Macha, things are looking better than they did a week ago.