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.

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?

The Makeshift Lineup

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.

Inevitable Lineup:

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

9) Pitcher

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?

Jerry Manuel will have a tough time filling in his daily lineup card with the troops he has in his dugout.

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.

According to Buster Olney on the Brandon Tierney show yesterday, Ike Davis may have a legitimate shot of starting at first base this year for the Mets.  This is interesting news to say the least.  Apparently, the Mets hold Davis in such high regard, that if he hits well this spring, it will make it “very difficult” for the decision makers in the organization to send him down. 

The one real positive point going in for Davis is his defensive capabilities at first, which already “far exceed” those of Daniel Murphy.  The downside is that Davis does strike out quite a bit, and this could lead to stretches of non-production during slumps.

Could Ike Davis actually be the starting first baseman for the Mets in 2010?

Brandon Tierney goes on to say that he is down on the Mets’ chances because he does not like the Mets starting pitching.  Pitching wins, and I whole-heartedly agree.  I really respect what Brandon Tierney has to say, and I often listen to his show for his opinions.  I recommend anyone who has not heard his show to give it a listen when you can.  Brandon picks the Mets to finish 4th, while Olney picks the Mets to finish a shocking second.  I would love to take a puff of what he is smoking.

Olney also feels that Rod Barajas will be the starter and is also not convinced that Jason Bay’s knees are healthy.  Olney compared the Bay signing to the Pedro signing by the Mets, where the Red Sox did not feel that Martinez would show long-term health, but the Mets took the gamble.  “Ooff”, to quote Mr. Tierney.

The podcast can be heard here.  Scan to 7:40 of the podcast to hear this portion of the show, but also give the rest of his show a listen if you have the time.  Good stuff.

First of all, let me state that I am happy to be back from the infirmary for the past several days.  That cold kicked my ass more than the Marlins and Nationals did to the Mets down the stretch of 2007 and 2008.  It isn’t as if I have missed that much.

Oh, with the exception of this.  Wow! I could elaborate further, but I think you know where I would take this.  I think my efforts would be better served if I were to continue my tour around the horn and touch on left field instead.

Jason BayI know that you are looking for me to list a bunch of negative statistics and opinions here, frequent reader.  I do have a tendency to at least balance my review of anything related to the Mets with some negative spin.  I think finding much in the way of negative text would be a tough task here.  I state this while making one valid point.  Jason Bay is a very good player.  However, he is not a superstar.  I doubt that this will actually raise much of a controversy here, but let me break it down for you.

In the only happy move of the off-season, the Mets bring back one of their own to patrol left field

First off, it is great to bring back a former Met farm-hand.  I am not sure why the Mets ever got rid of him, but that is ancient history.   From the minute he arrived as an everyday player for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2004, he has produced at a high level, with the possible exception of his one down year in 2007.  One down year can be accepted, however, when sandwiched between groups of highly productive ones.  This is a guy who has hit at least 30 home runs and driven in over 100 runs in four of his six full big league seasons.   That is very respectable to say the least.  He is also a lifetime .280 hitter and carries a lifetime slugging percentage of a tick under .520.  He does strikeout a ton, reaching the dubious plateau of 162 last season.  You will take that with career highs of 36 HR and 119 RBI as the entree.  He also sports a solid lifetime on-base percentage  of .376, so he is not afraid to take a walk either.

He will have his work cut out for him at Citifield, however.  This is the case with anyone not named Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols.  You have all read about his tendency to pull the ball, which is advantageous in hitting in this ballpark due to the quick drop-off in distance down the line in left field.  This should definitely help Bay hit more home runs during his home plate appearances.  Even taking this into account, this is the polar opposite to hitting in his old ballpark, Fenway Park.

Home Runs will be much harder to come by for Bay at Citifield than they were at Fenway Park.

His lack of protection could also be a factor, as it projects today that either Daniel Murphy or Jeff Francouer will bat behind him for the unforeseeable future.

As far as his defense is concerned, let’s not overstate things, alright?  He is very simply…average.  Average speed, average range, average vision while reading the ball off of the bat, average first step and average arm.  No worse and no better.  Regardless of what you may have read to date, this is what he is as a defender.  Enough said.

Jason will play 150 plus games in left field barring injury in 2010. That is all anyone can ask from any player.  If he doesn’t catch the Met injury bug, he will provide what most Mets could not last season.  Durability.  Hooray!