New York Mets @ Texas Rangers Series Preview

The New York Mets (27-34) begin a 10-game road trip in Arlington, taking on the offensive juggernaut known as the Texas Rangers (25-36). Steve Trachsel (4-3) will take on former Met John Thompson (3-7) in Tuesday's opener.

Texas' pitching has been poor lately, as they have lost a season-high 9 games in a row. On the other hand, the Mets have lost 4 of their last 5, including two double-headers (Swept 3 times in double-headers this year). Seattle outscored New York 22 to 4 in the 3 game set, and out-hit the Mets 40 to 14. Both New York and Texas are the 2nd farthest from the division-leading team in their respective leagues. The Mets sit 15 games behind the Braves, while the Rangers are 17 games below the Mariners. As a team, Texas has given up more runs than any other in baseball (387). The matchup stays balanced due to the Mets scoring the 2nd lowest amount of runs with 245, ahead of only the Dodgers (220).

Tom Glavine will miss a scheduled start for one of the few times over his career. With a tender elbow, Glavine's record of entering the Hall of Fame having never been on the DL is damaging the rest that the others on the Mets pitching staff will receive. Both Jae Seo (3-2) and Al Leiter (6-3) will be moved up one day. Pitching against Seo on Wednesday is 26 year old, Victor Santos (0-0). Santos made his first appearance for the season last Thursday, against Atlanta. He is temporarily starting in place of Joaquin Benoit, who recently went on the DL with soreness in his elbow. Santos was 4-3 with a 2.96 ERA at Triple-A, allowing 70 hits in 70 innings while holding just over a 2 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio. Although Leiter was poor in his outing against Seattle, Seo was just the opposite in his last start. Throwing 7 innings while giving up 1 earned run on 8 hits, Seo earned the victory over Ryan Franklin (4-4) of the Mariners. Colby Lewis (4-4), at 23 years of age, is a hulking 230 lbs. power righty, standing at 6 feet, 4 inches. Despite control problems with 47 walks on the season, Lewis will make the start against Leiter on Thursday.

Mets' outfielder Cliff Floyd is hitting the ball well in the month of June while picking up 9 hits in 20 at-bats, including 2 home-runs. After going 14 for 34 (.412) with 4 HR and 13 RBI since returning from the DL on May 23rd, Jeromy Burnitz has not reached base in his last 18 plate appearances. His batting average has dropped from .324 to .275 over that span. Although catcher Jason Phillips lacks the fancy statistics, he has shown excellent plate discipline, not cheating himself on a single at-bat.

For the Texas "all-offense, no-pitching" Rangers, Hank Blalock continues to impress the baseball world with a batting average of .353 for the season. More importantly, Blalock's 2003 slugging percentage is a monster .575, reaching for extra bases on over 1/3rd of his hits. With 4 HR and 13 RBI on their recent 12-game road trip, Juan Gonzalez has continued to impress in the all important contract year. Juan Gonzalez appears to be healthy, and spanking the ball left and right with 18 hits over the wall and 47 runs batted in. Gonzalez has always been a big strikeout hitter, but a 61 to 10 strikeout to walk ratio is somewhat extreme. Lastly, Alex Rodriguez has been listed as day-to-day for since Saturday, due to a minor knee injury. If A-Rod is not starting the first game of the series, Donnie Sadler will likely take his place, as he has for the previous two games.

Look for these two underachieving teams to duke it out with the bats before their arms. Pitching with one less day of rest, Seo and Leiter may prove to be ineffective against the Rangers powerful lineup. If Trachsel is on his game, the series opener could be a pitching duel before a slugfest, like the other two games are likely to become, pending the Mets' exploitation of Texas' weak pitching.

Fantasy Spin

- Avoid all six pitchers in this series, Texas is simply too one-dimensional. Their phenomenal hitting will eliminate the option of using any New York starter, while the worst pitching in the majors goes against the 2nd worst hitting in the NL, what could be worse?

- Floyd is streaky, and is currently in the zone. Going against three mediocre righties, Cliff could slap a few "cliff-hangers" over the wall.

- Jason Phillips has recently gained eligibility at 1st base in most fantasy leagues, as he has been sharing time at the position for the past few games. Unfortunately, Phillips' value comes as a catcher, where his plate-patience and power potential could make him worth a look as a stopgap at a typically weak position in 12-team leagues.

- Unless you happen to carry a backup shortstop on your roster, start A-Rod, as he could easily pinch-hit for a shot into the parking lot. - Blalock's success has proven to be legitimate, and his value at 3rd base is reasonably high at the moment. Consider trading him to a team that needs the upgrade at the hot corner if you have Pujols, Chavez, Rolen, Lowell, or Glaus already.

- Juan Gonzalez is in a contract year and has been destroying the ball since opening day. When Juan Gone is hot, he puts up numbers that resemble Manny Ramirez's game-log, an RBI machine.

- Urbina and Benitez are both solid closers in the fantasy world these days, and should be pitching every day for your team. No middle-relievers on either team are worth carrying, with the exception of John Franco (yes, I'm serious), who could take over the closer role if Benitez is traded (Strickland is on the DL).

- Lastly, if you have a back up behind Roberto Alomar, consider handing him the starting job if you haven't already. Against righties, you would think that Alomar could perform, yet a further drop-off in statistics and series of recent hip-complaints don't point towards as much as a roster spot these days.

- Check for Baltimore's Brian Roberts, who is starting in lieu of Jerry Harriston Jr., (out for another four to six weeks). Although others have denied his speed, the minor-league and major-league statistical proof during his career says that he can run like the wind. 2nd base is a deep fantasy position, the bottom line is not to be stuck with Roberto Alomar, his consistency is non-existent.

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