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Mets (10-8) vs. Cubs (13-6) 2:20 ET


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Game Preview



Idling away the hours before Monday night's game at Wrigley Field, resident technology guru Nelson Figueroa took the opportunity to show off his new iTouch media player to Johan Santana. The footage Figueroa found to play -- how convenient -- was of his performance in the Taiwan Series championship, in which he won three games.


"I thought he was going to watch it for two seconds and be like, 'Yeah, that's cool,'" Figueroa said of his decidedly more famous teammate. "But he actually took an interest in it. That's something that with this team is just different. It makes it fun to be here."


Those simple wonders of clubhouse life haven't yet faded for Figueroa, who will start his third game of the season against the Cubs on Tuesday afternoon. Even after his rotation debut two weeks ago at Shea Stadium and his subsequent start against the Nationals -- each as impressive as the other -- Figueroa hasn't yet become accustomed to all this.


"There's no routine about it yet," he said. "It's still a surreal experience right now."


Still, it's a job, and one that Figueroa aims to complete. There's even reason to believe he can thrive, considering how he performed in each of his first two starts. Earning a roster spot only after Pedro Martinez went down with a strained left hamstring, Figueroa proceeded to rip off 13 quality innings in a row, posting a 2.77 ERA over that stretch. He's pitched far better than expected, and far better than the Mets could have hoped.


That's significant, considering that Figueroa should be here for a while. Despite Martinez's goals and even his recent proclamations, he has yet to produce any tangible evidence of being able to return anytime soon. Which means that Figueroa should remain here for start after start, even if the thought of pitching every five days hasn't yet become routine.


His task on Tuesday will be to cool off a Cubs team that's won four straight games, and seven of its last eight. Ted Lilly, who beat the Mets last season for the first time in his career, will get the ball for the Cubs. Lilly is winless in four starts this April.


Pitching matchup

NYM: RHP Nelson Figueroa (1-0, 3.60 ERA)

Perhaps what's most remarkable about Figueroa's first two starts is that, relying on little more than finesse, he's struck out 13 batters in 13 innings. Figueroa's last outing saw him give up three hits to the Nationals over seven innings, though one of them was the first home run he's allowed this year. He has walked four batters since becoming a starter.


CHC: LHP Ted Lilly (0-3, 9.16 ERA)

Lilly has allowed five earned runs in each of his last three starts, serving up four homers already on the season. Still, he must like his chances against the Mets. In his lone start against them last season, also at Wrigley, Lilly struck out eight Mets and walked just one. More importantly, he allowed two runs over 7 2/3 innings to earn the win.



Backup catcher Ramon Castro played five innings in an extended Spring Training game on Tuesday, finishing 2-for-3 and throwing out a potential basestealer. There is still no timetable for his return. ... Martinez will travel to New York this week to be reevaluated by team medical director Dr. David Altchek. ... Orlando Hernandez will also be reevaluated this week, as the team determines when to remove the protective boot from his right foot. ... Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez is 3-for-6 in his career off Figueroa, with one home run. Ramirez hit his fifth homer of the season on Monday.





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Can my Met fan bretheren please convince me that this is not a .500 team. I know, I know its only 19 games, but lets recap from May 15th till this time now, almost 1 full season, the Mets in that time period are a .500 team.


I am sorry I just do not see signs that this team is anything but a .500 club. They are old at key positions and as good as they are on the left side of the infield they are equally as putrid on the right side. Which brings me to my next thought. In hindsight Omar was fleeced by the Marlins in the Delgado deal. Why you say? Well in 2005 Omar wanted to sign Delgado, Delgado even went as far as to accuse Omar of using his "latin influence" to get Delgado to come. The very next year the Marlins traded him to that very same division rival they paid LESS for to get him. Salary dump you say? Maybe so, but Omar should have said, well you should have never signed him anyway if you could not pay him, we are one of the only teams that can, you get 2 B low level minor leaguers. In hindsight the Marlins saw that the investment they made was poor and in essence got rid of a long term problem. I liken it to buying a new house for way more than you can afford, you get one of them cheap jumbo interest only mortgages, you live in the house for a year and live high on the hog with low payments, then the piper comes due, you realize the house aint so nice, it saps money from you and you owe way more money now then you ever intended to pay, but you somehow find some sucker to take it off your hands for more than you paid and you walk away with a minimal profit. Thats what the Marlins did to the great Omar.


Delgado is finished and so is Castillo, but hey they speak spanish.

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The Nats have a situation. Nick Johnson is undoubtedly their starter at 1b and Dmitri Young is a player that could help them acquire some prospects.


Make the call Omar...


Marcus Thames in Detroit is another player. I like him better than Young. He has power, can play 1B and outfield, and is nothing more than a part-time player in Detroit. We could get him for a good pitching prospect, which is what we should be keeping, but hey. Hate to say we'd have to give up Jonathan Niese for him, but I think that would get the deal done.


But it's a deal that won't happen. WHY? Because Delgado makes $16 million this year, and that is cost prohibitive to trade him away. And the Mets aren't going to pay Delgado that kind of coin and not play him. So we are going to have to do what we did with Glavine, Alomar, Mo Vaugh, and Bobby Bonilla, and that is we just have to ride this one out and get somebody in free agency. The good news is that we won't have to see Delgado's sorry ass in a Met uniform next year. The bad news is that we will have to see Castillo's sorry ass in a Met uniform next year. Our only hope is if he (Delgado) goes down from injury and is lost for the season. Then we can justify pulling the trigger.

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After the Phils game Sunday the last two haven't been surprising. Monday was a prime position for a poor game, late night, emotional game/weekend against Phillies, and one of the best aces in the league that always gives us trouble. Then a day game following it against a lefty pitcher who struggles. Worst possible combination.

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