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?

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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.

I can just hear Nat King Cole eloquently singing his classic hit now.  Of course, when those lyrics came across my head today, it was extremely simple to replace one key word to label what the 2011 Mets really are.  Forgettable.

Nat King Cole should sing about how forgettable the 2011 Mets are

The Mets find themselves in a rather predictable place today.  They are currently tied for worst record in the major leagues at 4-9 with other predictably bad teams (Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners).  If you were hoping, or even worse, believing that the Mets would be better than this, then all I can say is shame on you.  Foolish optimism will get you nowhere with this franchise.

I haven’t written a thing in quite some time simply because there is absolutely nothing to write about.  I could break down how the Mets are severely deficient in the pitching department, but that was obvious from the start.  I could illustrate how the Mets, with new fiery manager in hand, still can not seem to catch, throw or run bases with any level of proficiency.  The only question that would come to mind is this.  Why bother writing about this team?

Folks, the Mets are an inferior product, and there is no sugar-coating it.  Why delude ourselves with anything other than the facts?  The Mets are as irrelevant as a VCR right about now.

The Met hierarchy is in a no-lose situation this year, their first under the Wilpon employ.  If the Mets compete at all, it would be looked upon as being a tremendous achievement by all.  If they do not compete, then the finger of disappointment will be pointed towards the prior regime’s mistakes.  Either way, they come off looking peachy, from the GM down to the manager.

What do we have to look forward to you may ask?  Let’s think about it.  Nothing.

Jose Reyes will be traded by the deadline if he stays healthy.  Carlos Beltran will finish up his Met career after this season.  Johan Santana, fresh off his latest surgical procedure, will not pitch until September at the earliest.  That is true only if the Mets actually make a good decision about how to rehabilitate him properly (a long shot I know).  When he returns in 2012, he will likely be a different pitcher all together, one that is no longer worth what he earns annually.  The Met payroll next year will likely be significantly lower than it is this year, as whispers of a 75 million dollar payroll are being heard throughout the blogosphere.  That means that there is no help on the way for next year either.  Ouch.

Other than that, the future looks bright Met fans.  Long live the Wilpons!

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!”

Be Gone With Wilpon, Bargain Shopping

The Mets followed orders and looked for bargains this winter. It has worked out thus far.

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.

There are certain players on this team that deserve our concern.  The list is long and obvious. 

One of the few players that should be ommitted from this list is Johan Santana.  However, Johan’s inconsistencies thus far may be alarming if looked at in a certain way.

What do we know as fact?  Johan is coming off of elbow surgery.  It was only an arthroscopic procedure to remove “bone chips”, but surgery is surgery.  This marks the second consecutive off-season in which he is recovering from some type of surgical procedure. 

Secondly, his velocity is beginning to become a bit of a concern.  Yesterday’s 91-92 mph fastball mark doesn’t look so bad, especially when it is compared to the 87-88 mph range he reached last Wednesday.  We also witnessed a complete lack of control by Santana yesterday, exemplified by a bases-loaded walk to 47-year-old Jamie Moyer to force in a run.   We all know that Johan’s history shows us that control has never been a problem for him.  I think his career statistics have earned him the benefit of the doubt here that he will rebound from this blip on his screen.  So, what is the major concern then?   ESPN’s broadcast yesterday showed a very interesting statistic in regards to Santana.  Apparently, his velocity differentials have decreased progressively of the last 6 years.  For example, in 2004 (his most dominant season) his peak fastball was clocked at 95 mph, while his changeup was recorded as 81 mph on average.  That is a differential of 14 mph.  Currently, his fastball is averaging 90 mph while his changeup hovers around 80 mph.  That is a differential of only 10 mph.  Santana has always been a master of keeping hitters off balance, which explains why the changeup has always been his best friend.   However, these numbers illustrate a decrease in the differential velocity of his pitches, which can be looked at as an alarming trend for Johan. 

Johan Santana, Be Gone With Wilpon

Does Johan Santana's performance thus far warrant our concern?

Ultimately, it could be his health that is playing a role here.  There is no way for fans like us to know for sure.  Perhaps he will get healthier as the season progresses.  If that occurs, his pitch speed differential will improve, as will his effectiveness. 

The negative here is that it could be injuries catching up with Santana, which would be a devastasting blow to the Mets of 2010 and beyond.  After all, he is the one guy that is supposed to be a certainty in this rotation.  No one wants to throw him into that uncertain barrel with the rest of the starting rotation.  Is he there yet?  I think not.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed that he never gets to that point.

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.

A lot has been said and written about the expectations of the Met starting staff in 2010.  It is apparent that opinions very greatly in this subject, and can get a bit testy from time to time.  In order to gain some quantifiable perspective on the matter, I thought it would be fun to gauge just how much confidence Met fans have by doing over/under polls for each projected starter.  Each poll will be broken down by wins and ERA.  Perhaps most importantly, I leave my own opinions in the stable here.

So here is the breakdown for each projected starter:

Santana- 3.20 ERA/15 wins

Pelfrey – 4.00 ERA/12 wins

Perez – 4.20 ERA/12 wins

Maine – 3.80 ERA/11 wins

Niese – 4.00 ERA/10 wins

For the purposes of these polls, I use Niese as the 5th starter, even though he is the only competitor for the spot with options and the fact that he has not done anything to prove he is the front-runner at this stage.  Just roll with me here.

Please vote for each starter’s associated poll on the right margin of this site.