Here comes the optimism

April 26, 2010

Am I happy today as a Met fan?  Sure, why wouldn’t I be?  The Mets have won six out of seven and stand at one game above .500 today.  That is certainly beyond what I expected at this point.

Let me point out a few things that I believe have pushed the Mets beyond my expectations to this point.

1) Ike Davis -I did not expect the Mets to actually release Mike Jacobs so soon and inevitably call up Davis.  Let’ s just say that this move was a bit out of character for the Mets and leave it at that.  Davis is a ray of sunshine for Met fans.  There is not one person in Met Land that isn’t pulling for this kid to succeed, myself obviously included.  As long as he is here, the level of optimism is just a notch higher around here.  Let’s just hope that if he slumps, that the Mets do not decide to send him down simply because Daniel Murphy happens to be ready to play at the same time.

Mike Pelfrey at Be Gone With Wilpon

Mike Pelfrey has certainly "cooked up" some success with his first four starts in 2010.

2) Mike Pelfrey – There are surely some readers that want me to eat some crow here, and to date, this is justifiably so.  Mike Pelfrey’s ERA stands at a microscopic 0.69 after four starts, and has run his scoreless inning streak to 24 innings.  Those are some incredible statistics that even the most optimistic Met fan would not have expected.  Listen, I have been very impressed with the way he has gone about his business so far.  I still do not believe, unfortunately, that he is a dominant pitcher for the same reasons I always have.  He is not a strikeout pitcher.  In order for him to succeed, he needs to keep the ball low, and often times, out of the strike zone.   In his first few starts, hitters were approaching their at bats against him very aggressively.  In yesterday’s game against Atlanta, the Braves took the more patient approach, leading to 100 plus pitches thrown in only five innings of work.  This patient approach also led to five walks allowed.  I just feel that Pelfrey needs to be perfect in order to succeed here on in, and perfect is what he has been thus far.  It is just that perfection is a hard thing to maintain through a full season of work.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

3) The Bullpen – In yet another area that would warrant the need for me to eat some crow, the Met bullpen has been extremely productive.  (Eating some crow as I type)  I had stated my concern for anyone not named Felciano or Rodriguez to be a viable member of this bullpen.  So far, Igarashi, Takahashi, and Nieve have proven my concerns to be unfounded…at least in April.  My concerns remain for the simple reason that the two Japanese pitchers have exactly 14 appearances between them, and that Fernando Nieve has had limited starts throughout his three incomplete years of major league experience.  I restate that I am a fan of the proven pitcher in comparison to the unproven pitcher.  Why?  Major league coaches, scouts and players have a way of writing a book on inexperienced pitchers.  When they do, they make adjustments on how to approach each plate appearance against that pitcher.  It is then inherent upon that pitcher to make an adjustment of their own to remain successful.  Will these three relievers succeed in this quest?  Only time will tell.

4) Jose Reyes – It appears that Jose is healthy.  He is running hard, he is playing stellar defense, and he is beginning to hit the ball as well.  Through it all so far, he has also produced from his new position as the number three hitter in the order.  This is great news for the Mets, especially since Carlos Beltran will be out for a long, long time to the surprise of no one.  However, like Mr. Beltran, Jose has to prove that he can stay healthy for an entire season.  Once you get that injury label tagged to you, it takes a while to shake it off.

4) The level of competition – It isn’t as if the Mets have played anyone who is a World Series contender to date, other than the St. Louis Cardinals of course.  Of the Marlins, Nationals, Rockies, Cubs and Braves, do any of these teams strike fear in you?  Each of these teams are obviously flawed in at least one area of the game.  The Marlins can hit, but can’t field or close out a game.  The Nationals can’t do much of anything.  The Rockies are average in most areas.  The Cubs can’t hit or close out a game.  Finally, the Braves can’t hit, run the bases, or field, as we just witnessed this past weekend.  This is extremely odd for a Bobby Cox team mind you, even if it is his last season on the bench in Atlanta.

What will the Mets do against the the better teams?  Well, they did lose two out of three to St. Louis already. One thing is certain.  The better teams always expose another team’s weaknesses.  This will certainly play out as the season unfolds.

In summary, there is plenty to be happy with on April 26th, fresh off this latest sweep of the rival Atlanta Braves.  Will it continue?  If you believe like I do that the Mets have exceeded expectations thus far, then perhaps it will not.  If you believe conversely that what you have seen is a true gauge of what the Mets are as a team, then you will obviously feel differently.  Whichever the case, it has been a fun week, hasn’t it?

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I haven’t posted in a while for a very good reason.  No, it is not because there isn’t much to talk about in Met Land.  Ike Davis is here, and I am damn happy about it, as anyone who reads my posts can attest to. Needless to say, my next post is coming, and soon.

No, the reason that I have been absent is that I have been at work with my buds putting the finishing touches on our new video release.  Therefore, without further adieu, here is the introduction.  (Drum roll please!)

Nine More Outs has recently released its newest edition to its Stadium Shamdium Tour.  Kick back, and enjoy our visit to PNC Park, while you watch us give our take on all things Pittsburgh Pirates related.

Are We Getting Smarter?

April 14, 2010

To no one’s surprise, the Mets as a team have opened the 2010 season with that usual enthusiasm and desire to do what it takes to win.  I am being extremely sarcastic, of course.  With their current record standing at 2-5, the team is predictably lacking both the talent and will to win.  Hey, it isn’t like we ever beat the Nationals anyway, right?

Placing these facts aside for a moment, I do feel a sense of pride today.  How is that possible you ask?  There are little birdies whispering in people’s ears lately about the current state of ticket sales for 2010.  Normally, I would assume that regardless of how poor a product the Mets have placed on the field this year, that they would have little trouble selling tickets.

Could Met fans finally be showing their displeasure for the way the Wilpons run the team?

There are two reasons for this in my mind.  One is the allure of Citifield.  It is a beautiful stadium to watch a ballgame and spend an afternoon.  I know that when I went last year to watch the Minor League Mets for a couple of games that this is true.  I had zero interest in the game itself, but boy did I enjoy me some Citifield experience, from the food to the sheer aesthetics of the park itself.

The second reason is the optimism of a new season.  I have many Met fans that are friends of mine who are nothing if not optimistic.  That optimism usually leads to a desire to purchase season tickets.

Me?  I know a poor product when I see one.  You can’t pass a bad ball club pretending to be a good one by me.  I am sure it comes as no surprise to you that I did not pick up any tickets myself for this season.  After all, the Mets did lower payroll from 2009 after a disastrous season. I feel no obligation to help them financially at this time, even though my measly dollars have little impact on the financial success or failure of the New York Mets.  It is only the principle of the matter as far as I see it.

So why do I feel a sense of pride you ask?  If the Mets have suffered at the box office for 2010, then that means many fans have shown their displeasure with what the Wilpons are doing with this team.  It could mean that more and more of us are getting fed up with their antics.  Now there is no real way to assess this, as ticket sales are not actually shared with the public.  However, the more you perk your ears up, the more you hear clues that lead you to believe that this may be true.

If there is any truth to this, I raise a glass to all of you who show your disapproval of the Wilpons in this manner or any other way.  I wear mine on my sleeve.  All you have to do is  look at my blog page title to know how I feel.

Back to Reality

April 7, 2010

Bad starting pitching?  Check.  Bad bullpen performance by anyone not named Feliciano or K-Rod?  Check.  Horrible baserunning blunder?  Check.  Bad managerial decision?  Check. 

Now that Johan Santana’s opening day start is in the rear-view mirror,  this combination of events is certainly troubling to witness.  After all, this was a game that the Florida Marlins were desperately trying to give away.  On a positive note, you have to give the Met hitters some credit for hanging in there against the Marlins untalented group of relievers.  However, on a night where the Met bats were a little sleepy, it takes more than quality at-bats that create walks to actually win a game.   

John Maine was very unimpressive in his first start of the season, as his fastball rarely broke the 90 mph mark.  This is awfully disturbing for a guy who has been injured for two seasons.  Jerry Manuel stated that we need to “throw this start away” due to the fact that it was Maine’s first start coming out of spring training.  We’ll see, but excuse me if I have my concerns.

We all know that the bullpen is going to be a mess this season, as the Mets will bounce back and forth between unproven and untalented relievers  trying to find a diamond in the rough.  If the Mets can not capitalize and win a game while Pedro Feliciano or Francisco Rodriguez are still in the game, we surely will see plenty more of what we saw tonight.

Fernando Tatis’ decision to break home on a wild pitch with limited real estate behind home plate, and late in a close game, is inexcusible.  This play just made us feel like 2009 never ended, as baserunning gaffes were the norm last season.

Lastly, how could Jerry Manuel take the bat out of Jason Bay’s hands by having Wright steal second with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning?  His answer was, “We have good hitters behind Bay in Gary Matthews.”  This was followed up by the same reporter with the question of, “Why then is Jason Bay being paid sixty plus million to be here?  Wasn’t it to have him hit in these situations?”  Right on Mr. reporter, whoever you are.  Jerry just deflected this comment with the same nonsense that he originally stated, perhaps truly believing that Matthews is in the same league as Bay when it comes to hitting a baseball.

Ahh, welcome to 2010 Met fans.  Are you ready for more?

We have been watching the Mets perform as often as we can this spring.  We have seen the struggles of both the starting pitching and the bullpen.  This has brought on increasing levels of concern that we may be in for a long year.

However, no need to worry Met fans.  Everything out of Met camp, from the manager to the players themselves, is rosy.  We have all heard the expression, “It’s only spring training.”  We have also heard the expression from pitchers, “My arm felt great out there today.”, even after this followed up a miserable performance by that pitcher.

Sometimes we need to look through the aura of “good spring feelings” conjured by the coaches and General Manager in order to truly see what is right in front of our noses.

Oh, I almost forgot.  Our General Manager has even failed at producing this smoke screen.  I quote, “As far as our starting pitching, we know that we have some young guys that have done well, and I think if they take the ball they will be fine.  If they go out there and give us 25, 30 starts, they’ve been .500 pitchers, they’ve done it in the past.”  Yippee!  We have a bunch of .500 pitchers!  Book the parade now!

Omar Minaya can not even use an effective smoke screen when attempting to promote his struggling pitching staff.

In all seriousness, what I see is no new news for you reader.  I see a very sub-par pitching staff, both starters and relievers alike.  I know that the Mets will try to push how good these guys are leaving spring training in the dust (Omar Minaya excluded, of course), but I do not have to believe them.  Independent thinking is a virtue that I hold dear.  Besides, many of these guys are known quantities at this point.  Why should I believe that they will perform above their career averages? After all, our General Manager does not.

So go ahead Met fans.  If you think that a spring training team ERA of over 5.00 is something to worry about, then trust your gut.  Forget about what anyone else tells you to think.  Look at what you see and decide for yourself.

One more point for those who say spring training holds no meaning.  Think about this for a moment.  Met pitchers truly had something to prove this spring collectively, for one reason or another.  Are we to believe that their failures during this process should just be brushed off?  Hey, if we had the Yankee or Red Sox pitching staff, we might be able to rationalize this.  However, with a staff that includes three starters coming off injury (Johan Santana, John Maine and Oliver Perez), one coming off a miserable season (Mike Pelfrey), and another that is an unproven rookie (Jonathon Niese), I believe that their failures this spring should warrant a better explanation than just the same old cliché.