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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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.

No I have not been in hiding.  I have been wanting to post some thoughts for quite some time now, but that real life stuff just keeps getting in the way.  Finally, I thought that enough was enough.  I will just have to create some time in order to man up and admit that I was wrong.

The crux of this admission is about Mike Pelfrey, and how he has proven to date how much better he is than what I wrote about him in the preseason.   To point out the obvious, I was dead wrong on this one.

Mike Pelfrey, Be Gone With Wilpon, Big Pelf

Big Pelf just laughs off criticism from BGWW.

The only thing Big Pelf has done has re-create himself from a hittable pitcher into a Cy Young contender in just one season.  That is, at least through the first two and a half months of the 2010 season.  The turnaround has been staggering.  He currently holds an ERA of 2.23 and has a record of 8-1 in 12 starts.  Last season his ERA was a horrendous 5.04 while finishing at 10-12, which is not so terrible considering his high ERA and hittable stuff last year.  He is averaging nearly 6 2/3 innings per start in 2010, compared to under 6 innings per start in 2009.  His WHIP is a low 1.17 this year, compared to 1.52 last year.

In layman’s terms, he was very hittable last year, and is anything but that to date this year.  So why the about-face in productivity?  Is it perhaps that his stuff is suddenly better?  Is it a matter of confidence?  Or, is it the fact that he was determined to show up this year slimmed down and in better shape?  Your guess is as good as mine.  The reality is that he is growing more confident with every start, and is becoming more pleasurable to watch than even Johan Santana.  He has proven the naysayers (yes, yours truly) wrong, and appears destined to be selected to his first All-Star appearance.

One thing is certain.  A man has to admit when he is wrong.  I hope I have done that with this post.  Ah, I feel better.

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.

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.

I think that all of you are aware of how I feel about the Mets starting rotation.  I have said on numerous occasions that an upgrade here was essential to the Mets being a competitive team in 2010.  Granted, there were not a lot of impact pitchers available this off-season to be had outside of John Lackey and Roy Halladay.  For a myriad of reasons, the Mets chose to stay pat with what they have had for years now.

I will now review the Met Starting Pitcher Depth Chart as I see it right now, and follow each player with some analysis and opinion.

  1. Johan Santana – Not much to break down here, as he is the only real credible guy in the rotation.  We all know what the man is capable of.  The only negative here is off-season left elbow surgery on 9/1/09, in which he had multiple bone fragments removed.  A report on the success of his first workout can be seen here posted by Joe D.
  2. Mike Pelfrey – “Big Pelf” pitched nothing like his nickname implies last season.  Last year was such a major step back for him after such a promising rookie debut.  His ERA jumped over a point and a quarter, and often times looked like he was a batting tee for the opposition.  For a player considered to be one of our finest home-grown talents, there is a lot we do not know about him at this stage in his development.  What we do know is that he was never a strikeout pitcher going back to his time in the minor leagues (at least above A-Ball).  It is noticeable when he gets to 2 strikes and has no “put-away” pitch to fool the batter.  There are many ten-pitch AB’s against him as a result.  107 strikeouts in 184 innings is as much evidence as you need to gauge this.  In essence, he is a ground-ball pitcher who lets up many base runners while lulling his defense to sleep during long innings of work.  Let’s face it, a plus 5 ERA and plus 1.50 WHIP is not deserving of #2  starter status.  However, as you will see once you continue down this list, he must be placed here for now.  This is awfully disturbing.
  3. Oliver Perez – Who doesn’t cringe every time we see Oliver Perez take the mound, let alone after the sheer mention of his name?  This is a guy that came on like a whirlwind during the 2006 playoffs, and has looked anything but that ever since.  It has been a slow regression of productivity for him since that season.  That 2004 all-star season on the Pittsburgh Pirates seems like a distant memory.  In many ways, it is.  The Pirates lost patience with his lack of command and faulty mechanics that they gave him away f or a song and dance.  The Mets appeared to pull off a steal when they made the move to acquire him in 2006.  What did they actually come away with?  Let’s put it this way.  It’s almost like the Mets held up a bank and asked the teller to fill their bag with all the money in the vault, only to come away with monopoly money instead.  What is evident is that Ollie has reigned back his mechanics to the point where his velocity, which once neared 98-100 mph in 2004, rarely reaches 94 and often hovers around 91 mph.  Combine that with his infamous lack of control, and you have a time bomb on the mound as your number three pitcher coming off of knee surgery.  Ouch!
  4. John Maine – Now here is a man with a little upside…I hope.  John Maine has proven, while healthy, to be a productive pitcher.  Unlike Pelfrey and Perez, his strikeout to walk ratio is minimally 2:1 throughout his major league career.  He is a guy who lets up home runs as a fly ball pitcher, but makes up for it with the ability to strike someone out as he usually possesses fair control.  Unfortunately, he has been completely unable to stay healthy over the last year and a half, and whether his stuff will be what it once was this year is anybody’s guess.
  5. Fernando Nieve – We now reach the level of the completely unknown.  Nieve had a small run of success last season before suffering a season-ending quadriceps injury on July 19th.  He possessed a fastball that occasionally was clocked at 98 mph that had some late movement.  This enabled him to overpower some major league hitters during his short stint with the club last year.  Other than this cup of coffee, he toiled in the minor leagues for parts of 9 years, illuminating the fact that he has not been highly regarded for quite some time by big league scouts.  Your guess is as good as mine here.
  6. Jonathon Niese – Projected as a major league 4th starter by most experts, Mr. Niese seemed to be rounding into form last season before he spun the roulette wheel of season ending Met injuries on August 5th.  He ultimately succumbed to a complete tear of the right upper hamstring tendon that required surgery to repair.  His statistics are encouraging.  He possesses a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio in limited major league innings.  However, this is backed up by a better ratio than that throughout his minor league career.  He also has the ability to produce a lot of ground ball outs as his best pitch is a huge breaking curve ball.  He began to spot his low 90’s fastball with better accuracy prior to the injury.  He seems to  have a bit of promise, however like so many Met pitchers, he is a huge gamble to produce this season coming off his major injury.
  7. Josh Fogg – Please.
  8. Nelson Figueroa – Why bother?

As clearly illustrated, the Mets have very little to trust going into this 2010 season from a starting pitching standpoint.  As much as I can measure, it is pitching that wins.  Why gamble on such an important aspect to your success? There was John Lackey to be had.  It seems to me that we could have at least made him an offer.

Why take such a gamble, Jeff? You seem confused.

Ask Jeff Wilpon that question, not me.