March 19, 2012
There’s always next year. Oh wait…there isn’t.
I’ve been pondering how to go about writing what needs to be written for many hours today. All through the day the topic has been bandied about by every Mets insider and newspaper. Everyone talking about either the financial numbers decided in today’s “lawsuit” or their predictions as to when the Mets payroll will come back to figures that resemble a major market baseball club.
Very few, if any, have discussed the real story here. I suppose that my blog’s name gives me some sort of responsibility to yet again translate the real story that other sources somehow fail to mention. I do not take this obligation lightly, and therefore wanted to ease my way into it. Well, here goes nothing.
Today, the New York Mets Ball Club died. There. I said it. It had to be said.
Huddle closer dear reader. You see, we Met fans did not witness any sort of victory this morning as Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz exited the courthouse with their highly paid attorney to meet and greet the mass media. No, we did not. In fact, we experienced quite the contrary. Magically, the Wilpons have escaped their wrong-doings with essentially a slap on their privileged wrists. The numbers themselves, dissected with the precision of a neurosurgeon for most of the day today, are themselves meaningless. Suffice it to say, all is fine and dandy in the land of the Wilpons.
Fred was quoted as saying, “Trying to bring the New York Mets back to prominence, that our fans deserve”. I am not sure what that means exactly, as the Mets have not been a prominent franchise since Fred took over as sole owner back in 2002. Sure there was 2006, but when you are a top 5 payroll team, you have to make the playoffs once in a while, don’t you? Even if you underachieve along the way.
Ultimately, we are left to digest what this statement truly means. This is where I come in to help make sense of it all.
The Mets have done little right from a baseball standpoint since Carlos Beltran struck out looking to a then underdog St. Louis Cardinals team. They have developed little to no talent from their minor league system since the arrival of David Wright and Jose Reyes. They have employed a general manager who not only came across as illiterate, but became the butt of all baseball jokes for some of his decision making on personnel. They have created a new low for a sports medical staff in areas of incompetence and mismanagement of baseball (and non-baseball) related injuries, leaving us to wonder why they have employed the same doctors and trainers for so many years. They have failed at any and every level to conceal news that shouldn’t be shared with the media, leaving us to wonder why they have employed the same public relations staff for so many years. Oh wait, I just said that. I think there may be a trend starting here.
Most importantly, before Bernie Madoff’s name was ever muttered by anyone who was not part of the financial world, the Mets were a failed franchise. They had set a Major League record for largest regular season collapse by allowing a seven game lead with seventeen games remaining to disappear. They have yet to smell the playoffs since then. The Mets continued to spend money on the wrong players year after frustrating year, always culminating in the same result. Failure. The truth of the matter is, if resources were not the issue, then wouldn’t smart baseball people have cultivated a better result. At the very least, wouldn’t they have sniffed the playoffs in one year since then?
The key term above is smart. This is something that has severely lacked with the Mets over the past five years. The Wilpons have continuously employed inept baseball people, not to mention in all other baseball related departments as well. This may be due to the fact that the Wilpons portray themselves as “family-oriented” owners, whereby they hire friends and colleagues to fill their various posts. Good baseball people with solid reputations? No, that has never been on the Wilpon’s agenda.
Even when the Wilpons begin to reinvest moneys into the team in the coming years, is there anyone naive enough to believe that money alone buys championships? This seems to be the only thing that anyone has been talking about today. “All I care about is when they stop acting like a small market team and start spending money on players.” That is all well and good, however it is not what will make this team competitive. Unless all of the areas I have discussed are corrected, none of that will matter in the least.
Today’s news unveiled one undeniable truth. The Wilpons are here to stay, and stay they will. With this now immovable albatross, I fail to see anything to get excited about at all. To get as cynical as I can possibly get, I will profess that the Mets will never again make a World Series appearance, let alone win a championship. Well, at least in both my and Jeff Wilpon’s lifetime. Contrary to whatever drivel Mr. Wilpon spoke this morning outside his joyful courthouse, this is the absolute end of the New York Mets.
May 20, 2011
As the Wilpons continue to deal with a massive lawsuit set against them for knowingly being involved in the Ponzi scheme arranged by Bernie Madoff, the Mets are actually playing some decent baseball. They actually sit just one game under the .500 mark as they open a subway series tonight against the Yankees. (Did you notice that I didn’t use the term “Crosstown Rivals” when mentioning the Yankees? Come on now. The Mets are clearly not the product that the Yankees are, and as much as I hate to admit it, they are not even in the same universe.)
This backdrop aside, you might be lead to believe that this small measure of success would lend to a slight bump in fan attendance at Citifield. However, the truth of the matter is that the opposite has actually occurred. Newsday reports that fan attendance has actually dropped by 3,031 per game. This was according to statistics taken from baseball-reference.com.
According to the article, Mets executives blame this on bad weather recently, as well as the fact that attendance typically picks up after the school year has ended. They also “claim” that the total ticket sales for this time of year are actually the same as they were last year. Yawn.
One thing is certain. Despite the fact that the Mets have exceeded expectations thus far, the Met fan base does not really buy into what is going on. After all, why should they? When you look at the Met lineup, you see guys named Pridie, Turner, Tejada and Murphy getting regular at bats. That is not going to excite anyone. The fact is, the star power the Mets offer is either injured (David Wright, Ike Davis and Johan Santana), under producing (Jason Bay – again) or headed out of town very, very soon (Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and possibly Frankie Rodriguez). The future, like the Wilpon’s bank account, is certainly bleak.
When this is taken into account, how can the Met front office realistically be surprised by the dip in attendance? If they are hanging their hat on the idea that these AAA players will continue to overachieve, then they are less intelligent than even I thought that they were. Truthfully, that is tough to do.
I personally tip my hat to all the Met fans who are fed up with the direction of this team due to its misfit owners. As a matter of fact, I think that I’ll actually raise a drink to all Met fans later this evening. It is about time that we Met fans show the Wilpons that enough is enough.
July 18, 2010
His return has been highly anticipated. Now that Beltran is here, what does it mean to the New York Mets? I am sure that opinions on this subject vary as greatly as K-Rod’s pitch types. Even if you have an opinion, do you really feel strongly about it?
The Carlos Beltran Paradox has many layers. Let’s peel them shall we?
For starters, we can state the obvious. He has been out of the game for almost a calendar year. Even for a seasoned veteran like Beltran, that is a lot to adjust to. You just don’t jump into the pool without that initial temperature shock. Jose Reyes is the obvious example of this, as he struggled mightily upon his return. There is obviously going to be a hard adjustment period here for Beltran, and this is going to make things murder for Jerry Manuel when he makes out his lineup card each day. More on this in a moment.
Next, it is important to discuss what kind of player Carlos Beltran is at this point in his career. Is he the guy that they signed to that $100 million plus mega-deal in 2005? Not likely, as he has rarely lived up to that status as a Met to date. So who is he, and what can be realistically expected of him? Follow me people. Just a little more patience and we’ll be there.
Certainly, we need to discuss his health. The last we heard before his return is that his knee would never be 100% from this point forward. As a matter of fact, his doctor was quoted as saying that if his knee were to worsen at all, then microfracture surgery may be necessary. This procedure is nothing to sneeze at, and is only prescribed when there is a certain level of cartilage damage in the knee-joint to begin with. Enough medical jargon, though. Here is my point. No one, including his surgeon, has any idea how his knee will hold up. I don’t blame the Mets in any way for trying to get him here and playing by the way. After all, it is their money that is being spent here. They might as well try to get what they can out of him. If his knee begins to howl, then they gave it a shot, didn’t they?
Lastly, where and how does he fit in with this team? The easy decision of predominantly benching Franceour has been made. However, Angel Pagan does play a mean centerfield, doesn’t he? It is my assumption that your center fielder needs to cover the most ground out of all of your outfielders. At least that is what I learned from little league. I know that the Mets want Beltran to feel comfortable and all, but shouldn’t they field their best defensive team? Why not play Beltran in right for a while, which leaves your best outfielder to man center as it should be. If his knee continues to mend, then perhaps make this switch later.
What about where to hit Beltran? Is he a number four hitter? Was he ever? That breaking in period I mentioned only makes batting Beltran cleanup even more silly. Is he a number two hitter like his days on the Kansas City Royals? Back then, he had wheels that worked. I think that it is a safe assumption that Carlos’ burning days are over. So where do you bat him? Number five? Number six? There is that little thing called ego that might get in the way of those decisions.
Sheesh, that is a lot to think about for Jerry Manuel. I am glad that I am not the one making these calls.
In summary, this subject is quite complex, and a lot to absorb. Ultimately, Calros Beltran better be worth our effort.
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.
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?
February 28, 2010
I have already written about my displeasure in the Mets’ decision to not move Carlos Beltran this off-season. It is for this reason that we are discussing lineup options geared towards filling holes rather than writing something in that is strong and steady. This was the Met brain trust at work once again. I suppose you might call it the opposite of strong and steady.
Regardless of how you feel about this, we must now deal with what Jerry Manuel will have to pencil in on a day-to-day basis, even if it is far less than optimal. I break this down into ideal versus inevitable lineups. The ideal lineup lists where each player would most likely fall in a traditional batting order. The ideal lineup will also be an incomplete one, as the Mets do not currently have players to fill all of the traditional holes that a batting order constitutes. The inevitable lineup is the best case scenario for the Mets in order to actually plug all the holes needed to complete the batting order. Let us begin with what is inevitable. In parenthasis you will see the batting order slot that the player truly belongs in.
1) Angel Pagan (bench/fourth outfielder)
2) Luis Castillo (8)
3) Jose Reyes (1)
4) David Wright (5)
5) Jason Bay (5)
6) Daniel Murphy (2)
7) Jeff Francoeur (7)
8) Rod Barajas (8)
9) Pitcher (9)
As you can plainly see, the Mets have players batting out of their ideal positions. This is particularly true for Jose Reyes, whose capabilities project very well as a leadoff hitter because of his speed and the intangibles he brings to the game. He does not fit the profile of a third place hitter very well, as that slot is defined as a team’s most patient, intelligent, and fundamentally sound hitter. It usually is held down by someone who has a great eye for pitch recognition, and that with this selectivity, can fight off tough two-strike pitches before he eventually capitalizes on a mistake pitch. I think that it is safe to say that Jose Reyes is not this type of hitter. Would anyone argue with me?
The problem is that we do not actually have a hitter of this ilk on the roster, and that poses a large problem. Who is the one guy that pitchers dread to face in a big spot? Still thinking? Believe me, you will be sitting there for a while until you eventually settle on someone who you know is not worthy.
If you sum it up, the Mets have one leadoff hitter, one potential 2nd place hitter, two fifth place hitters, one seventh place hitter, and two eighth place hitters. Look below to see what the ideal lineup would entail.
1) Jose Reyes
2) Daniel Murphy
3) Player not on team
4) Player not on team
5) David Wright/Jason Bay
6) Player not on team
7) Jeff Francoeur
8) Rod Barajas/Luis Castillo
You can see my point. Yes, I understand that not every team is the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox (even though we exceed one of the two in payroll…rapping head against the table). I also realize that I have excluded Carlos Beltran, but that is what I do to players that are often injured….I pretend that they do not exist. What other responsible thing can I do?
The main point is this. Not having a true number three or number four hitter on the Met roster makes it utterly impossible for me to have much confidence in the 2010 perspective lineup.
February 19, 2010
Predicting who will fill out a team’s roster at the beginning of spring training is like predicting which player will get hurt next for the Mets. You know someone will, you just do not know who it will be.
For the sake of conversation, let me include the likes of Alex Cora, Gary Matthews, Jr. and Fernando Tatis, as we know they are shoe-ins to make the team because they were signed to major-league contracts. These guys are shoo-ins? Yuck! Let me also place the catcher competition to the side, as I have previously discussed this battle earlier (sans Rod Barajas). We know that there will be two on the opening day roster, although as of now I would be shocked if it is not Omir Santos and Henry Blanco. With fourteen spots available for position players (and 11 spots given to the pitching staff minimally) to complete the twenty-five man roster, that leaves us with only two spots remaining after the starting eight and the aforementioned inclusions. This also involves excluding Carlos Beltran, who will open (and perhaps close) the 2010 season on his personalized DL. Let us give a review of who will be competing for those two spots.
Frank Catalanotto – I went into what Frank can bring to a team here. He brings some positive contact production from the left side of the plate, and could make an ideal pinch hitter. The fact that the Met bench is currently comprised of mostly right-handed hitters, it is apparent that they need a left-handed batter to step up. As long as Catalanotto proves he still possesses the bat speed to handle big league pitching this spring, I think his chances are good to make the team.
Mike Jacobs – Unless Jacobs beats out Daniel Murphy for the starting first base job this spring, and that is about as likely as Ollie Perez losing his erratic ways, he will be the primary competition for the left-handed pinch hitter job with Catalanotto. He offers pop as we all know. That can be valuable. However, he is either home run or strikeout every time he steps to the plate, and in this ball park, that may not be the way to go. Unless he is on fire this spring, I believe he will have a hard time making the club. That might mean playing in Triple A until someone gets hurt, and we know that is going to happen anyway. The other possibility is that he and The Cat make the team together if there are not better options otherwise.
Fernando Martinez – Who is Fernando Martinez anyway? Well, for one thing, we know he is a Met prospect because of his history of injuries. Every time you turn around, this guy is hurt. Ultimately he has dropped off the radar of top prospects throughout the league because of this fact. After a hot winter league showing in which he was named the MVP of the Caribbean Series, the spotlight once again shines on Fernando to see what he can do this spring. Even though he has been around seemingly forever, he is still just 21 years of age. Unless Fernando hits like an all-star this spring, he will certainly be ticketed for Triple A this year.
Ike Davis – At 6’5″, Davis is a specimen. Having only played two season in the minor leagues for the Mets, he is already 23 years of age. Unquestionably the future at first base for the Mets, Davis’ production improved dramatically at every level in the minors, finishing with a line of .309, 14 and 43 in 233 Binghampton (AA) at bats last season. Scouts have rated him a very highly at this point, and I am talking about scouts that actually do not work for the Mets here. However, I am sure the Mets will let him at least try his hand against Triple A pitching for at least a few months before they hand him the keys to the first base ignition.
Anderson Hernandez – The guy can field. I’ll give him that. However, he will never hit in the majors, and therefore has no place on this team.
Russ Adams – Once an everyday shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays, Adams has fallen into the land of dreaded baseball obscurity. He has even less value than Hernandez at this point.
Jason Pridie – Pridie Was a decent prospect for the Minnesota Twins through last season. He has some speed and extra-base hit potential, however, his plate discipline is rather poor, especially for a minor league player. He struck out at an alarming rate his last few years in the minors, and did not offset that with the ability to draw a walk often enough. He also appears destined to play Triple A ball and serve as organizational depth for the Mets.
Chris Carter – Here is a guy who actually hits for some power, even though he too appears to be a life-time minor league player. With home runs of 24 and 16 the past two years in Pawtucket for the Boston Red Sox, he always seems on the cusp of a call up. The Red Sox just never had room for him, but as we all know, the Mets might with their lack of depth. I also like his walk to strikeout ratio, which falls just short of 1:1. Another hitter looking to make it from the left side, Carter has the ability to make the team this spring with a good showing.
Mike Hessman – About to turn 32 years of age, Hessman has always shown power, but little else in his minor league career. Unless Tatis get hurt, forget about Hessman serving as the right-handed substitute at first base.
If you ask me, I believe that the winners will be Catalanotto and Jacobs. I think Carter has a good shot, but I think it will come down to either him or The Cat because I can not see the Mets having six outfielders on the opening day roster. That leaves the door wide open for Jacobs to make the team. That is unless there are huge surprises awaiting us as the spring unfolds before us. Either way, this is not an impressive bench for any major league roster.
Who do you see making the team from this group?
February 16, 2010
How many of you felt that the opening day depth chart in center field would look the way it does right now? Come on now. Well, if you were like me, I would have bet the house on it looking somewhat similar to the way it does today. Before I get ahead of myself, let’s break it down in an organized way.
Angel Pagan – Angel has some skill. I truly believe that. Sometimes you just have to trust your eyes in what they see to be reality. He can run. He can field. He can hit with some real skill. His hand-eye coordination is quite good. So what is the problem? We know that there is no power in that bat, and at Citifield, that makes that point relatively moot. That is not the problem. So what is? Well, he is not a star for one. He doesn’t do anything extremely well, whether that be because of he is not in fact star caliber, or because he lacks the mind-set to pull it off. His largest flaw is sporadic mental lapses on the field. That is the major obstacle that has kept him from being considered a starter in this league. I believe he has the skills to be a tremendous base runner and defensive outfielder. He has not shown this with any regularity simply because he shuts down mentally at key moments. There were many moments where you wished you cold smack him in the head and say, “Hey, stay focused out there. This game is important to you and the team.”
His mental flaws withstanding, he is the right kind of player to play on a team that calls Citifield home. One-dimensional power guys are not. Citifield calls for speed, line drive hitting, and good defense. It is too bad the Mets do not have more players of his ilk.
Gary Matthews, Jr. – It pains me to place this guy even second on the depth chart, but alas I have no choice in the matter. He had one good season, 2006 with the Texas Rangers. I was fortunate to have him on my fantasy team that year. However, this is not fantasy baseball circa 2006. Recently, it was uncovered that he was on steroids for that season, and has been nothing like it since. Not much more to mention here. Just a terrible trade by the Mets and Omar Minaya in this instance. I liked Brian Stokes a good deal, and I believe the Mets will miss his presence in the bullpen this year. Depth is one thing, but sometimes you just have to be smart and stand pat to prevent a silly move.
Carlos Beltran – Now we come to one of the key issues with the Mets. Nearing the end of last season’s debacle, I was happy that Beltran came back from his injury. I was rooting for him to succeed, just not for the reasons of most Met fans. Do not get me wrong, I like Beltran. I love to watch him play. However, I was hoping that he would produce in order to prove that he was healthy. The Mets would then be able to shop him for something, anything, of real value. I know this will be the most controversial topic that I will cover here in my blogs, and I am ready for the scrutiny if it should follow.
Let me explain. Carlos Beltran is known around the league to be one of, if not the best, center fielders in the league. I for one can not argue that point…when he plays. I understand that he may be perceived as soft by some, and a warrior by others because he tries to play through pain. I do not care which category he falls under. I only know that he falls under the category of the oft-injured. To me, I want someone to contribute to the team that will play 150 plus games in the field, or that will make 30 plus starts on the mound. Even if that player should fall short of superstar caliber, I say the Mets should have traded Beltran for someone else. Perhaps they should have tried to trade Beltran for a true number two starting pitcher. I say number two as opposed to number one because I am a realist. I know no GM is going to trade a staff ace for a guy who gets hurt as often as Beltran does. However, if another team felt that they were getting the better end of the deal on talent alone, perhaps they make that move. This was my hope, although I knew that there was about zero percent chance of this being entertained by the Mets. This is just another philosophical difference that I have with those making the decisions for the Mets, and it is something that I have to painfully swallow as a fan.
The reality is this. So much of the Mets’ success is predicated on this guy playing and producing. With such a high percentage chance that he will miss large chunks of time due to injury, shouldn’t the Mets have hitched their star to someone more reliable? I think so. Well, now we are stuck waiting for him to get “healthy” once again, with no realistic timetable for his return. Sounds like a broken record to me.
To conclude, how would you answer the question I posed to you at the beginning of this article? If you thought differently, then you just have not been following the Mets very closely for the past few years.