June 15, 2010
When the plan in constructing a team is to search for bargains and hope for the best, the an awful lot is being left to chance. That is just what was ordered by Mr. Wilpon this past winter. “Find some cheap alternatives, and they better pan out…or else!”
The Met hierarchy, doing as they were told, searched on the bottom shelf for a group of players that would hopefully pan out for them and be somewhat productive in 2010. This bargain-basement process led them to the signing of Rod Barajas, Henry Blanco, Hisanori Takahashi, R.A. Dickey, and Elmer Dessens. These names owe us Met fans absolutely nothing to date, wouldn’t you say?
Now there were others that gave us absolutely nothing, such as the departed Mike Jacobs, Gary Matthews, Jr., and Kelvim Escobar. I think anyone would take a 50% or better success rate when searching for quality on the scrap heap. That is just what the Mets have gotten through June 15th. Mission accomplished Jeff.
Let us give credit where credit is due. Jerry Manuel deserves plenty, as he is certainly getting the most out of all the players on his team, stars and unknowns alike. Let’s give a shout out to the players themselves, as they are buying into Jerry’s mantra and have found some clubhouse balance. This is something that has not existed in these parts in quite some time.
The problem now, however, is two-fold. The idea of any baseball team is to truly compete for a championship. In order to be in the conversation, these no-name guys will have to continue their success. Secondly, the Mets will surely need to add a starter, just as they needed to in November 2009. Yes, this is true even though the Mets currently are among the league leaders in starting ERA. They need a solid number three starter (Lackey would have looked great here, wouldn’t he?) to stick behind Pelfrey and Santana, therefore allowing Niese to slot in as the fourth starter. The unfortunate fact is that this will now cost the Mets prospects as well as the dollars Mr. Wilpon seemingly will not relinquish his grasp upon.
In summary, the Mets have succeeded thus far in spite of Mr. Wilpon and his penny-pinching approach. It better continue, or someone will have to pay. Unfortunately, we know it won’t be Jeff Wilpon.
May 10, 2010
We find ourselves in a familiar position. We have seen enough of Oliver Perez. After all, how many times can you endure the Ollie P experience before you want to slit your wrists? Frankly, I have reached the point where each time he walks the opposing pitcher that I can do nothing but chuckle. It is certainly a better option than emoting frustration, isn’t it? What more is there to say about him anyway? Oh yes, there is one thing…he is terrible!
The dilemma that we Met fans have to endure is quite simple. Who else is there to be our fifth starter? Jonathon Niese was supposed to hold that post to begin with, and there in lies the problem. Ollie was supposed to act as either the 3rd or 4th starter, and is being paid as if he is a 2nd starter. Now that Niese has been force fed into the 3rd starter role, the Mets would need an alternative to Perez to fill the five spot, rendering Ollie and his inflated contract to mop-up, long-relief chores.
However, unless the Mets push either Nieve or Takahashi into the fifth starter spot, they have no other alternative but to keep putting Perez back out there every fifth day. Unfortunately, those two guys are so conditioned to pitching virtually every day due to the lack of inning-eaters on the starting staff, that it would take a prolonged transition to stretch out their arms to perform adequately in that role. It is important to mention the fact that this would also create a large hole in the bullpen if either one was removed for this purpose. Fill a hole, and you inevitably create another one.
This is yet another glaring reminder of how the Mets made the mistake of not making John Lackey an offer during the off-season. I expect these reminders to continue to haunt us throughout the season as well. But hey, the Mets were serious about lowering payroll this year, and they accomplished their goal. That is our loss though, is it not? Here’s to more nauseating Ollie P starts. Thanks Mr. Wilpon!
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?