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Open Thread: Cubs vs. Mets, Monday 4/21, 6:05 CT

Next Game

New York Mets
@ Chicago Cubs

Monday, Apr 21, 2008, 6:05 PM CDT
Wrigley Field

John Maine vs Carlos Zambrano

Clear. Winds blowing from right to left field at 5-10 m.p.h. Game Time temperature: Near 75.

Complete Coverage >

Six O Five. Remember that! If you're going to the game, or tuning it in on TV, if you arrive or turn your TV on at 7, you'll miss an hour of it. The unusual game time is for ESPN, which wants its national Monday night telecast to start at 6 pm CT.

Here's my Q&A with D. J. Short from MetsBlog:

Q: What's up with Pedro? Can the Mets really count on him this year? And what's Plan B if they can't?

A: Well, last week he said he hopes to be back in the rotation by the end of the month. As a show of faith to his word, I am holding my breath until his return. All kidding aside, I'm not very optimistic about him returning before June. Generally, when a Met gets injured, you can tack on about six weeks onto any timetable they give you. I can't say his injury came as a huge surprise to anyone, as he hasn't really contributed to the team on the field in nearly two years. Having a young, durable ace like Johan Santana makes his loss a lot easier to take. I'll put it that way.

Q: In much the same vein, how worried are you about the Mets' offense with guys like Moises Alou and Carlos Delgado either out or not at 100%?

A: Well, if Moises Alou is on the field, as some reports suggest he might be by the end of the week, he will hit. It's just a matter of when he will get hurt next. Carlos Delgado was actually hitting pretty well (although not for power) until the past week or so, but I'm getting closer and closer to thinking he's just never going to be the same hitter again. He has a hip problem which is probably a lot more serious than the team is letting on. If there was one area that I wish the club would have addressed over the off-season, it was for a right-handed backup first baseman, who could also play the outfield. I wouldn't be surprised if the Mets acquired another first baseman at some point this season.

Q: Angel Pagan. For real? This isn't the guy we saw with the Cubs. Can he keep it up?

A: He has a lot to prove to me still. Whether the early season numbers last or not, I have been impressed by his fundamentals, i.e. hitting to the opposite field, baserunning. Willie Randolph has rightfully downplayed a lot of his success thus far, as somewhat as a challenge to Pagan, but also to temper expectations in the case that he comes back to earth, which he is already in the process of doing. Of course, once Alou is back, Pagan is headed to the bench.

Q: Nelson Figueroa starts against the Cubs on Tuesday. He's a great story, but can he maintain this pace all year?

A: Nelson is an easy guy to root for. He certainly makes for a great story of perseverance. On top of all that, he is a Brooklyn native and a Mets fan. You really can't get much better than that. His victory over the Brewers ten days ago was one of my favorite recent Shea moments, but the sample size is just way too small to judge right now. I know the organization is rooting for him, but there's a reason the Mets signed Claudio Vargas as insurance. It seems like teams can't make it though the regular season without eight or nine starting pitchers anymore.

Q: As a Mets fan, how do you feel about this being the last year of Shea Stadium? Will you miss it? And will the hype of this milestone get in the way of what the team is trying to accomplish in 2008?

A: I often hear people say, 'Yeah, it's a dump, but it's our dump.' That's probably accurate. While not the best building to watch a baseball game, the historical relevance of the place -- The Beatles, The '69 Mets (sorry Cubs fans) cannot be denied. But its time has passed.

Citi Field looms pretty large over Shea in left center field. I think it functions as a reminder to the fans, the organization and the players that the team is building towards something better.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
C. Zambrano
vs. John Maine
J. Maine
2-1 W-L 1-1
3.04 ERA 3.78
23 SO 10
3 BB 12
2 HR 2
vs. NYM -- vs. Cubs

I'm going to try something new here -- and you may have seen it on some of the other SBN sites already. In addition to the pitcher boxes I've been posting for the last couple of years, I'm going to insert these stat lines for today's starting pitchers. Let me know which you like, or whether I should keep both. Eventually, this will allow me to get an automatically posting lineup in game threads. I'll also add the box that you see at the top of this post, to each game thread.

2008 - Carlos Zambrano 2-1 4 4 0 0 0 0 26.2 27 9 9 2 3 23 3.04 1.13

2008 - John Maine 1-1 3 3 0 0 0 0 16.2 18 7 7 2 12 10 3.78 1.80

The best thing about Z's line so far this year is -- three walks in 26.2 IP. He's got much better control and command this year; he seems a man on a mission. That's exactly what we need him to be. The three best Mets hitters -- Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and David Wright -- are a combined 5-for-34 against Z with one HR (by Beltran).

The Cubs beat John Maine twice last year and in those games, scored nine runs off Maine in 7.2 IP. He has never beaten the Cubs in four career appearances (three starts). And those 12 walks in 16.2 IP this season is encouraging, because the newly-patient Cubs have drawn a ton of walks in the last week. The only Cub Maine has had a lot of success against is Alfonso Soriano -- good thing he won't face Maine tonight.

Here's the deal for TV tonight, as I understand it. The game is on WCIU in Chicago, a station you can see if you have signed up for the secret decoder ring. It's also on ESPN. According to a promo they ran on ESPN a couple of days ago, this game will not be blacked out anywhere, including in the Chicago and New York markets. Now, if this doesn't go down this way -- don't blame me, blame Bud Selig or ESPN or someone else. It should be available at the Mediacenter. Gameday (2007 version) Gameday (2008 version) game preview

Discuss amongst yourselves.