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.

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!

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.

Here comes the optimism

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.

Mike Pelfrey at Be Gone With Wilpon

Mike Pelfrey has certainly "cooked up" some success with his first four starts in 2010.

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?

Moving On…

March 12, 2010

Now that Jose Reyes is out of the picture for the time being, we can now focus on who will likely be playing shortstop for the Mets on a regular basis to start the season.

I am hoping that the Mets actually surprise me here, but I do not have such lofty expectations.  I want to see Ruben Tejada out there on opening day, but I am quite sure that Alex Cora (yawn) will be there instead.

Alex Cora will not kill your team in any way.  He makes decent contact and fields adequately.  That sounds alright doesn’t it?  The problem is this…been there, done that.  Cora is what he is, and that is a utility player.  He is not going to excel at any one area that warrants every day play.

As I previously mentioned, Ruben Tejada has that X-Factor called the unknown.  He is a young player on the rise through the Met farm system.  He is someone that you could hitch that enthusiastic star to this
April.  Sure, we have no idea how this will translate against major league pitching.  This is especially true once teams get video on his swing and begin to make adjustments on how to pitch him.  Yes, he is also just twenty years of age.  However, he is currently enjoying his second spring invite with the big club this March.  He is at that stage of development where everyday at bats are needed.    He is also needed on the opening day roster to serve as Cora’s backup.  Why not give those important at bats to him here?  If he struggles initially, you can spell him with Cora here and there.  If he continues to struggle, you can send him down and play Cora everyday from that point forward until Reyes returns (whenever that is).  I am not sure what the Mets have to lose with this type of plan.

Ultimately aside from a token start here and there, I am quite sure that we will be watching Alex Cora get his four at bats per game while Tejada wastes away on the bench.  Then again, I may be shocked instead.

Jose Reyes out 2-8 Weeks

March 11, 2010

This is before he can resume “baseball activities”, mind you.  Do I need to say anything more than I have already said?