Curtis Granderson Be Gone With Wilpon

Does the Curtis Granderson signing give Met fans any confidence going into 2014?

Ho Ho Ho Met fans.  The Mets rang in the holiday spirit by actually completing a deal for a real major league player.  I know, you were all nervous that yet another year would pass by with nothing but false promises, leaving us with a quadruple A baseball team to root for.  You thought that somehow you were undeservedly placed on the naughty list by Santa once again.  Well, not this writer.

You see, outside of the past two seasons when the Wilpons were essentially bankrupt, the Mets were always good for at least one move to wet our appetites.  In fact, the Mets could always be counted on to make that one move each and every year to appease the fans.  A Token Move of Appeasement, used as a vessel to keep the fans interested in the team.  Heck, it may even be enough to get some fans who have had nothing but resentment towards ownership to loosen the purse strings and buy a season ticket package.  The theory is that desperate fans will react favorably to any decent transaction if they are starved enough for good baseball.  I think we Met fans qualify in this regard.  We may be overqualified if you ask me.

This is the typical annual approach of the Wilpons.  It has actually been successful and will likely be so again this year.  I bet that there have been hundreds of fans that have already purchased tickets today in reaction to this move.  However, if you haven’t had that knee-jerk reaction, or haven’t had a moment to pause during your busy work day to go online or call the Met ticket office today, I urge you to pause.  Here is why…

Curtis Granderson is a nice player.  There are many positives about him.  He can handle playing in New York.  He can hit for power.  He is a lefty bat that has been sorely needed to compliment David Wright.  He fills an OF need that the Mets desperately had to fill.  He has a little bit of speed.  He is a nice guy to boot.  In fact, there is little to not like about him.  Being 32 with only a four year contract is not necessarily a disastrous scenario in the world of baseball contract evaluation.

So why should you not throw money towards the Wilpons’ coffers just yet?  Here is a good reason.  The Mets filled a single hole amongst many with this signing.  The last time I checked, they are in need of a shortstop, a first baseman, possibly another outfielder, two quality starting pitchers, and an entirely new and effective bullpen.   Of the other positions that are not mentioned, only David Wright is a sure thing.  Even the established starting pitchers give little confidence going into next season either because of the potential for injury (Niese), or inexperience (Wheeler).  Without Harvey to lead this team, that leaves many, many holes to fill.  I count approximately ten at the least just to complete the 25 man roster.

If the present is anything like the past for these Wilpon-lead Mets, this will probably be their only splash into the free agent pool this year.  If that is the case, then how far ahead are these Mets from last year’s version?  Let me enlighten you.  Perhaps they are not any better at all.

If the Mets essentially stand pat from here, they might repeat the 74 win season they had a year ago.  It might be as easy to assess as simple mathematics.  Add Granderson and delete Harvey.  In fact, I might be a bit overly optimistic with this assessment.  The loss of one of the best pitchers in baseball cannot be replaced so easily, regardless of the star position player that he is being replaced with.  They may finish worse than last year if the rest of the roster is once again filled in by band-aid players.

I personally need to see a lot more from the Mets before I can become remotely optimistic about their 2014 season.  I know that I have little confidence in the Wilpons doing the right thing, and If history has anything to say about that actually happening, then it may very well be another long baseball season in Flushing.

David Wright Be Gone With Wilpon

Will David Wright be smoking any more victory cigars with the Mets?

It is that time of year once again Met fans.  As we bask in the afterglow of R.A. Dickey’s Cy Young Award frenzy, we turn our sights towards the 2013 season.  Just as we do every off-season, our minds wistfully follow the Hot Stove reports and Winter Meetings with the small shred of hope that the Mets will suddenly act like a large market team by making an unexpected splash or two.  You know, the type that would actually improve our team by signing a player in his prime for some meaningful dollars.  Someone for Met fans to hang our hats on.  Someone that gives us a touch of amnesia and makes us forget about the recent years of non-competitive misery.  Someone to give us some warmth during this long, cold winter.

Alas, what have we learned in recent years?  Mets management executes only what absolutely needs to be done in order to show us that they are trying.  They do not offer the educated New York baseball fan true hope.  No, Met management offers only The Token Move of Appeasement, or TMOA.  Yes, ticket sales are on the minds of the Wilpons.  Make no mistake about that.  Met ownership is banking on this tactic to lure the desperate Met fan into purchasing a season ticket plan, or perhaps a partial plan as a consolation prize.

This year’s version of TMOA is David Wright.  Not even the Wilpons could be idiotic enough to let their franchise face walk away from the team.  It is of no concern that the contract offered by the Wilpons will be backloaded with a significant amount of deferred money to be paid off through the 2020 season.  Whatever it takes to accomplish their one goal of selling tickets to cover the their massive debt and perhaps make some semblance of a profit.  Winning?  That is not part of the equation.

Let us look at this from another perspective for a moment.  If you want to measure the quality of the player David Wright truly is,  he first needs to be removed from the Met roster.  This is because he is a superstar on the Mets in comparison to any other position player currently under contract.  The truth of the matter is that Wright is a very good player, but he is not a superstar, nor an MVP caliber player.  He is not a player that can carry a team on his back for sustained portions of a season.  In other words, he is not a Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, and perhaps not even a Mike Trout.  Of course, I am listing the elite here.  However, if we move down the line just a bit, there is a second tier of talent in the majors that Wright may still fall short of placing within.  Robinson Cano, Prince Fielder, Joey Votto, Josh Hamilton, and Andrew McCutchen all come to mind as more productive offensive talents than Wright.  If DW had the benefit of playing alongside one of these talents, well then the Mets would have something cooking.Part of me feels bad for David Wright.  He will never get the opportunity to be a part of a winner here if he has to be the number one guy.  I wish better for him.  The other part of me sees it this way.  He did sign on the dotted line, and I believe he knew what he was getting himself into.  He is getting paid a king’s ransom.  Why should I feel bad for him?

My feelings for David Wright aside, the major concern is whether or not the Mets made a sound baseball decision here.  It is clear that Sandy Alderson was under direct orders to sign Wright at any and all costs.  However, we have learned that the Wilpons would not know a sound baseball decision if it slapped them in the face.

What do we know about the current state of this Met franchise?  We know that they are banking on the young pitching that they developed or acquired through trade.  If we are lead to believe that this is the direction they are headed in towards potential future success, wouldn’t it make sense for the Mets to grab some young position player talent as well?  Outside of Wilmer Flores (a third baseman subsequently blocked by David Wright’s presence), the Mets do not have anyone in the minors worth speaking of.  That being said, who do the Mets expect to win with in the coming years to go along with all of that young pitching talent?  The last time I checked, teams can not win championships losing by 3-2 and 2-1 margins.   We have heard whispers of the Mets looking to find some outfield talent on the cheap this off-season.  Do the Mets truly believe that they can get by this way and legitimately compete going forward?  Will they suddenly wake up and spend adequate money on some offensive talent in the coming years?

These are all great questions that will never be asked to the general manager nor ownership, and if it were asked, it would be left without answer.  I do know this, David Wright might have brought back some nice position player talent if he had been traded previously.  I know there is no guarantee that prospects bring future success, but how does our alternative look right about now?

There is one undeniable truth here.  David Wright being flanked in the middle of our order by the likes of Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis does not excite me one bit.  This much I know without any hesitation, and I know all Met fans feel the same way.

 

This is the End

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 Wilpon and Saul Katz outside courthouse Be Gone With Wilpon

Fred and Saul are all smiles today. I am not, and neither should you.

 

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.

Hello everyone!  Did you think I was dead?

Well, I am still alive, which is more than I can say for the Met franchise.  I am not saying this in response to the Miami Marlins (dreadful uniforms, what the hell were they thinking?) signing Jose Reyes.  No, not at all.

Jose Reyes signing with the Miami Marlins is not the reason that the Mets are an irrelevant franchise.

I consider the Mets fortunate that they were priced out of contention just to be in the bidding for Reyes.  For if the Mets had the cash to throw away on a selfish, injury-prone player, I am sure they would have done so in an instant.  I would imagine that they would have committed themselves to a very long-term, team-destroying deal without batting an eyelash.  Alas, the Mets escape this one without a scratch and I am sure that they don’t even know it.

Why are the Mets dead?  Let me count the ways.

Next season, the Mets will have precisely one healthy player with a solid track record for success in David Wright.  Wright by no means is all that he is cracked up to be, but compared to the rest of the roster for 2012, he is a megastar.

Then we get to the next rung of players.  Those who either have to prove their health or their worth while garnering bloated contracts that have not paid off for the most part or even at all.  I bring to you Johan Santana and (ugh) Jason Bay.  I have to admit, even though Bay was the “Token Move of Appeasement” in 2010, I actually thought that he would work out to some degree.  Yep, dead-wrong.  Bay has been nothing short of one of the worst signings in Met history.  As far as Santana goes, who in the world can predict what decreased level of pitcher he will be moving forward.  This is under the assumption that he can actually pitch without blowing his arm out again after 5 or 6 starts.  In either case, expecting Santana to be anything more than an above average pitcher is nothing short of tomfoolery.

What comes next is either the unproven or pure mediocrity.  There may be some upside with Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada here, but is there anyone else that should excite us for next year?  I think even Mike Pelfrey’s mother isn’t excited about his prospects going forward.

Don’t expect any help from free agency or the farm system either Met fans.  All of our prospects are 2 plus years away (stop me if you haven’t heard this one before), and the Mets may have only about 10 million to invest in about 7 important roster spots.  These include starting pitching, an entire bullpen including a closer, outfield depth, and possibly a second baseman.

Hey other than that, I think we are set for 2012.

Seriously though, is anyone going to pay good money to see this abysmal product next year?  I know some extremely optimistic Met fans who have told me that they have canceled their season tickets for this year, and these were the blind optimists who thought the Wilpons were doing a solid job.

The revolting truth is that it isn’t going to get any better in 2013, nor 2014, nor 2015.  You can see where I am going with this, can’t you?  I urge all Met fans to abstain from purchasing any Met products or tickets until the Wilpons decide to give our fan-base the break we deserve by selling the team.  I think it is quite obvious, even to the passive baseball fan, that they have successfully run this team into the ground.  What more needs to be seen to prove that point?

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.

Empty Seats Citifield  - Be Gone With Wilpon

Empty seats at Citifield certainly depicts how Met fans feel about the state of their team

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.

There are many Met fans who have expressed surprise by the team’s recent shortcomings.  My only response to this is…Why?  The Met roster has obvious shortcomings that have been well documented.  Was anyone really measuring that home winning streak, as impressive as it might have been, as a true barometer of this team’s talent?  Come on now.

Now that reality has truly set in, let’s ponder what the brain trust has in store for the remaining three quarters of the season.  It will then become important to determine whether these decisions will be the proper ones, or yet additional mistakes that will inherently damage this team’s future.

Starting Staff – There are those who believe that the Mets should add an arm to help their “suddenly” depleted staff.  I say shame on anyone for asking the team to act now.  Just three weeks ago the media was as much in love with our rotation as Omar Minaya is, and that is the equivalent of proposing for marriage.

The truth of the matter is that the staff is as unproductive as it comes,  and that is because production is measured by both the talent and health of a group of players.  Like so many other areas of this team, the players that constitute the rotation are lacking in either or both.  Based on this theory, Mike Pelfrey is the number two as this article is being written, and no one else behind him belongs on a major league staff.  Then again, we all knew this BEFORE the season started, but nothing was done to correct this situation.  Oh that’s right, Omar was not aware of this fact, my mistake.

Now that my redundant rant is through, what should the Mets do at this point?  If the Mets go out and bring in another pitcher for example, then shouldn’t they have offered John Lackey a deal in the winter?  That ship has sailed on us.  No sense in crying over spilled milk.  Sorry, I can’t think of any other uselss lines here.

Be Gone With Wilpon, R A Dickey

Don't worry, our prayers are going to be answered with the call up of R A Dickey!

In all seriousness, I am of the opinion that the Mets should do things internally.  Evan Roberts stated today on WFAN that Jenrry Mejia should be sent down to the minors immediately to build up his arm to become what he was always meant to be…a starting pitcher.  In fact, this is an idea shared by many other bloggers, and I could not agree more.  He is about all they have, what with the other top options being none other than R.A. Dickey and Pat Misch.  Unfortunately, there is not much else in the cupboard as far as imminent starting pitching prospects.  Ultimately, Mejia being a member of the bullpen is yet another example of the Mets filling a hole by creating yet another one.  They can fix it, but must act now.

Offense – Angel Pagan was recently moved to the three-hole because no one else was capable of filling that role, including Jose Reyes.  Look, I like Pagan, but he is as much a three hitter as I am a major league player.  Truth be told, the Mets do not have a true three or four hitter on their roster, what with David Wright transforming into an undisciplined pull hitter over the past year.

The point is, you can mix and match this makeshift lineup all you want.  However, the results will inevitably be inconsistent regardless of what combination you throw out there.  The one exception may be bringing Fernando Martinez up to play him in right field should Jeff Franceour continue to struggle.  Unfortunately, Fernando has also struggled in the minors thus far.  It looks as if the Mets will be forced to make do with what they have for now and the unforeseeable future.

Manager- The firing line is preparing their guns for Jerry Manuel’s head, and the order might be given any day now.  Is he really to blame for this mess?   Well, he is certainly not blameless here (Omar).  He is ultimately responsible for the way his players prepare themselves on and off the field, and they certainly do not look as focused as they did two weeks ago.

On the other hand, what manager would get more out of Ollie P. and John Maine?  Sometimes a manager is only as good as his players, and I am afraid Jerry is no exception here.  Blameless?  No way.  The sole person to blame?  Certainly not.  Either way, Jerry should receive his walking papers soon enough.  Once he does, who in the name of all that is holy is qualified to run this ship for the balance of the season?  More importantly, who is going to get more out of this mediocre roster than Jerry has to date?  Your guess is as good as mine.

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?