Monday, March 31, 2008

Santana + Runs = Wins

If the Mets put up 3 runs or more every time Santana pitches, Johan Santana will win 25 games this year. I was amazed with his changeup and the way he changes speeds. He was a dominant pitcher although I do realize it was the Marlins he was facing.

I did enjoy the way he made batters swing. It looked like they had rubber arms when he was throwing his fastball followed up by a 15 mph slower changeup.

But the confidence he showed on the mound and calmness about him was truly refreshing. Here's a man who had the eyes of New York and the baseball world on him and pitched flawlessly.

Also, tell me you weren't thinking no hitter when he retired the first 9 to face him? I know the thought crept into my mind. So sad, isn't it. Someday it'll happen though, and Sanata might just be the one to do it.

Mets Take Season Opener

Baseball is back and Johan and the Mets won their opener 7-2 over the Marlins. I love this game! I can’t wait for tomorrow’s game when our other ace, Pedro Martinez takes the hill.

Some thoughts on today’s game…David Wright broke the game open in the 4th with a bases clearing double to drive in 3, but my favorite part of that inning was Jose Reyes getting an RBI single with 2 outs to give the Mets 3-0 lead. That is what made Reyes so lethal in ’06 – he was so clutch with 2 outs and runners in scoring position. That was a big hit. You also gotta love Johan Santana, who got into trouble in the 5th inning, when he found himself with 2 men on, and only one out in a 6-2 game. Santana, in true Ace fashion, proceeded to strike out 4 consecutive batters and was on his way to his first Mets win. It’s funny because I actually felt anxious watching him pitch. You know how much the Mets need him…you just want to see him throw zeros on the board. (Incidentally, Carlos Gomez is putting on a clinic tonight in Minnesota. Hitting, running and fielding. He’s so exciting to watch. If only we could have held on to him…but, you have to give up something to get something).

I don’t want to be too negative on this day, but I was disappointed to see Luis Castillo jogging around the bases in the first inning watching a short fly, rather than burning it around the bags. He should have scored on the play but instead, was left stranded at 3rd base. When asked about it by a reporter in the post game, Randolph got very defensive, and actually commented that he didn’t he know what the guy was asking about. Then, in an effort to cover for his player, said that maybe “Castillo is still not 100%” I’m not going to go crazy after one game but truth is, he didn’t hustle, period. And it shouldn’t happen, especially after last season. He’s a veteran, a gamer, and he knows better.

Let's Go Mets Go!

It's opening day. Time for a little blast from the past to kick start the season.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Timely Hitting is the Key

Benny Agbyani, Jay Payton and Timo Perez. Remember those guys? If you don’t, and you’re reading this, then God bless you, young Mets Lifer and welcome to our site. For most of us who do remember, they were a trio of outfielders who helped the Mets get to the 2000 World Series to face the juice-induced Yankees.

If the Mets can win the NL with those guys in the outfield, then there is no reason that this 2008 Mets team should not make it. When you roll out guys like Carlos Beltran, Johann Santana, David Wright, Jose Reyes, Pedro Martinez and Carlos Delgado, you expect to win, period! No excuses.

But it’s going to take more than star power to win this year. People can talk about how Jose Reyes needs to chill out, or how Willie needs to use his bullpen better (funny how no one complained about this in ’06). The biggest key for the Mets this year is getting timely hits. It’s all about fundamentals and last year, the Mets stunk it up with men on base. How many times did Reyes get left at third with less than 2 outs? How many times did they fail to move a runner over? It was downright infuriating to watch, almost on nightly basis. There is no question a ghastly inept bullpen (and a guy named Glavine) sabotaged the season for the Mets down the stretch last year, but if guys do what they’re supposed to do in basic hitting situations, you’re going to win most games.

If you look at this offense objectively, it’s not overwhelming by any stretch of the imagination. The Phillies have a far superior lineup, and the Braves are better as well. Angel Pagan is a nice story but the Mets need Alou’s presence desperately, especially if a quickly-aging Delgado can’t rediscover his once sweet stroke. And while I think Luis Castillo is still a productive two hitter, I have to admit I am concerned about his wobbly legs. (Waive Gotay? Total brain fart, Omar. Terrible decision) But, with Reyes, Wright and Beltran, at the top, all the Mets need is some good ‘ole situational hitting from the back of the order; kind of like Agbayani, Payton and Perez.


What a difference a decade makes. No, I’m not referring to the uber invention that is Google which helped me find this gem of an article from the NY Times in a matter of nano seconds.

I’m talking about the NY Mets and their organization. It was only 10 years ago we were the dregs of the baseball universe; still trying to break through the carnage that was the ‘Worst Team Money Could Buy,’ which included Bobby Bonilla, Vince Coleman, Eddie Murray and ironically, Willie Randolph. For much of the 90’s the Mets were a downright embarrassment and their future looked bleak.

In 1998, incredibly, the Mets didn’t sell out Opening Day. ‘It’s anybody’s guess when the stadium will be full again…They lacked star appeal’ as noted in the Times article. And who could argue? Butch Huskey in right, Brian McRae in center, and Tim Spehr behind the plate – filling in for an injured Todd Hundley – was not exactly murderer’s row. Fortunately, 7 weeks later, the Mets pulled off the single most important trade in their history when they acquired Mike Piazza. The first real super star had arrived since Darryl and Doc. Today, we're stacked with them.

For an entertaining read, check out the article from the Times, from March 31, 1998. One nugget of information that is especially funny; the new stadium was supposed to be ready in 2002.

Mets 1998 Opening Day Lineup
Brian McRae CF
E Alfonzo 3B
B Gilkey LF
J Olerud 1B
C Baerga 2B
B Huskey RF
T Spehr C
R Ordonez SS
B Jones P

Mets won 1-0 in 13 vs. Phillies. I was at the game.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

My Bracket is Busted, It Must Be Time For Baseball

Every college team I needed to win on Friday ended up losing. My bracket is officially busted. As a huge college basketball fan, I was disappointed in the blowout games this past weekend in the Elite 8, but it did cause me to turn to baseball.

On Saturday afternoon I watched the Mets take on the White Sox in a rain drenched exhibition game in Memphis. I normally only watch 2 or 3 innings of exhibition baseball. If the game doesn't count, I find that I don't really care.

But I could taste the season approaching and found myself caught up in the game. John Maine pitched 4 fantastic innings. Beltran homered. Ryan Church looked decent at the plate. And Johan Santana is pitching on Monday.

I just got chills.

The season is almost here and this Mets Lifer feels like it's a few days before Christmas. Let's hope I get what I asked for.

I also love the fact that the Mets are starting the season right in the thick of some NL East matchups against the Marlins, Braves, & Phillies. Tom Glavine will be pitching against the Mets. Oooh baby. Can you say R-E-V-E-N-G-E?

It's a very small way, but still a way, to make a statement to the NL East that the Mets are the team to beat and last year is well behind us.

162 games to play and it all starts in the next 48 hours. Get ready for the long haul. I know I am.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Starting Lineup for the 2008 Mets

While the Mets have until Sunday to set their official lineup, it seems to me that we know who will or will not make the starting lineup for the 2008 Mets.

Here are my projections for what the lineup might look like on opening day next week against the Florida Marlins.

1. Jose Reyes - SS
2. Luis Castillo - 2B
3. David Wright - 3B
4. Carlos Beltran - CF
5. Carlos Delgado - 1B
6. Ryan Church - RF
7. Angel Pagan- LF
8. Brian Schneider - C
9. Johan Santana - P

Of course the name that sticks out is Angel Pagan. The guy deserves a shot to play in Alou's absence. I've heard Moises Alou say that he plans on being back in April, but I would not bet on it.

Endy Chavez could be an option there and I actually think that he and Pagan will platoon for the first few weeks of the season.

To me the biggest question mark is Delgado in the 5 hole. Once you get to Delgado the Mets lineup strength looks like the second half of a bell curve, steep decline in power & plate presence. Church is a question mark, Pagan is a replacement, Schneider we don't expect much productivity from.

So Delgado is the linchpin for the lineup. If he can be successful, Beltran will see better pitches and pitchers will start walking Delgado to get to Church which hopefully puts multiple runners on base and pressuring the pitcher to get out of the inning.

I like our lineup today but it will be a whole lot better once Moises Alou returns to that 5 spot.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mets Lifer Expectations for 2008

Opening day is only a week away and somewhere in Japan right now people are getting ready for the first MLB game in the far east. It's an exciting time of year where every team still has a chance at winning the pennant.

The Mets are full of high hopes, and I for one expect to see a lot of those hopes and dreams come true. Here are my expectations for 2008.

1. Jose Reyes will increase his OBP by at least 50 points
Jose Reyes is no longer a young player. He's a veteran and he needs to start proving he's a leader on this team, not by his dugout behavior but with his on field play. He needs to show patience at the plate. Get a few more walks under his belt, and for crying out loud quit trying to swing for the fences. I expect we'll see Reyes take more pitches and stop uppercutting as much as he did last year. If Reyes increases his OBP by 50 points this year, I expect that to translate into at least 10 more wins in 2008.

2. The Mets will have three 15 game winners.
Santana, Perez, & Maine should all win 15 games this year. Surprised I didn't say Pedro? I expect Pedro to miss some starts but these three guys should get at least 35 starts this season. I'm expecting closer to 18-20 wins for Santana, but I think Oliver Perez & John Maine will be able to build on their success last year. I just keep thinking about Maine's performance against the Marlins the second to last game of last season and I see a ton of potential for him this season.

3. David Wright will compete for the NL MVP.
I'm expecting this to happen every year for the next 8 years. Call me an optimist.

4. The Mets will play for a World Series.
Ok, if this does not come true, two things will happen. First, Willie Randolph will be fired. Second, Omar Minaya will be on too. Sure injuries will happen, and players will have slumps but this team should win 100 games. Period. No excuses. The starting rotation is the best it's been in almost 20 years. The bullpen has some question marks but in Wagner, Heilman and a healthy Sanchez you've got a great 7th, 8th & 9th inning pitcher. Our first four in the lineup are arguably the best in the majors. And our bench has some good depth to it (although I'd like another right handed bat before August rolls around).

The Mets don't need to just redeem themselves from 2007, they need to take back the World Series trophy. It's been too long and we're too good to let it elude us yet again.

Those are my expectations for the 2008 Mets. Let's play ball.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

If the Mets Were in March Madness

It's March and right now it's tough to focus on baseball. Spring training is winding down. Opening day starters aren't playing as much to give the young kids one last shot at a roster spot. And it's the opening day of the NCAA Tournament.

So if the Mets were a team in the bracket of 65 which college team best represents them? Interesting question. The Mets are a team favored to win so they'd probably be a #1 or #2 seed.

They have the best pitcher in baseball which is comparable to having the top point guard in the nation. The Mets are a team built to put up runs and predicated on speed, so we're looking at an up tempo West Coast style of play if we were translating it to basketball.

But the Mets right now are older, so you'd expect some seniors on the roster with some stud freshman/sophomores to represent Wright/Reyes.

I think that narrows the Mets down to being compared to either #1 seed UCLA or #1 seed Kansas. UCLA is known for its lockdown defense which is not the Mets forte. Kansas on the other hand is a senior laden roster with a few younger guys that have proven to be big time players like Darrell Arthur.

So there you have it. As much as I dislike the Kansas Jayhawks, I think that's the best representation of the Mets in the NCAA Tournament. Plus Kansas has had to deal with some injuries this year.

I picked UCLA, UNC, Georgetown & Texas in my final four. I hope that's not a sign of what's to come in the Mets season.

It's just an analogy, right?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Carlos Delgado Speared at Third Base

What a spring training it has been? Just when you thought it couldn't get any odder Carlos Delgado gets speared by pieces from a broken bat while leading off third base.

Delgado required some stitches but will be fine.

That's it. Everyone pack up their bags and head back to New York. It's just not safe in Florida any more. Come home before something crazy happens.

At least Pedro pitched well.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Would the Mets Get Barry Bonds?

As I sit here in the luxurious Memphis airport (insert sarcasm, here), reading my ESPN the magazine, the craziest of crazy thoughts crossed my mind. Would the Mets actually go get Barry Bonds?

Nah, that's crazy. Right?

Yes, it is, but don't put it past a desperate Omar Minaya. The closer it gets to opening day and the more we see that Moises Alou might be out a really long time, and the more we see that our lineup lacks power will force Minaya to look for some help.

The idea of getting Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs Crisp for Endy Chavez is ludicrous, but signing Barroid Bonds might not be. He plays left field. Draws a ton of walks. Oh and by the way happens to hit a lot of home runs.

I personally wouldn't touch Bonds with a ten foot pole, but don't tell me that the thought hasn't crossed Minaya's mind. The media circus would be insane if Bonds played in New York.

I hope it doesn't come to that, but I do think the Mets need another solid power bat this year to be a contender. That is unless Delgado has a renaissance year and Ryan Church turns into Pat Burrell. Then we'd be ok.

Wow, an entire post about the Mets issues and not a single mention of pitching. Unreal.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Revolving Door in Left Field

We all knew Moises Alou was going to get hurt at some point this season although I don't think any of us expected it to be in the first two weeks of spring training.

So now the loss of Carlos Gomez leaves us with a revolving door in left field. Believe me I'm glad we got Santana for Gomez and pitching prospects, but it does reveal a significant hole in the Mets lineup: lack of outfielders.

Fernando Martinez is too young (so the experts say) to be thought of as Alou's replacement. That leaves Endy Chavez as the next best option. I don't mind Endy starting the season in left. I don't think he's an everyday player as he tends to wear down and lose some production when he plays everyday, but he's our best option right now.

Then there's the makeshift outfielder option in Marlon Anderson/Damion Easley. Now Anderson played some left field when we first picked him up last season and was hitting the cover off the ball. But of course left field is neither of these guys natural position and their fielding will be exploited if they were to play every day.

That leaves the "trade" option. Sure Xavier Nady's name is being tossed around, but who are we going to trade? We sold the farm for Santana (rightfully so). Jorge Sosa? Not a bad option, but does Sosa get you Nady straight up? I don't think so.

A guy in spring training who's getting some attention is Angel Pagan. Young guy who plays like he wants to be on the team. He's fighting for a roster spot right now, and I love seeing guys do that. They play with a whole lot more passion because basically they're job is on the line. I'm not sure what Pagan's production level would be in the big leagues, but he'll probably bat in the 8th spot and if you can get a hustle guy who can lay down some bunts and play solid defense, that's not a bad thing to have.

I think we'll end up seeing Chavez in left field on opening day, but I'd like to see Angel Pagan given a shot to be on the roster if he keeps playing like he has been the last few weeks.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mets to Air All Games in HD

This is an answer to prayer. I've been whining about the Mets away games not being in HD for the last two seasons and finally my voice has been heard.

SNY has announced that all Mets games will be aired in high definition this season. Really was it that hard to get this done?

Now we can look forward to seeing Luis Castillo's limp, Jose Reyes' grin, El Duque's non-existent leg kick, Alou's injuries, and Santana's circle change in blazing high def.

That is if everyone's not injured by opening day.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

David Wright on ESPN's First Take

David Wright talks to ESPN about all things Mets including Santana, the collapse, and baseball in general. Is this guy not the new face for MLB or what?

The Mets Are a Black Cloud

What on earth is going on in Port St. Lucie?

Now Moises Alou is hurt (surprise!). Alou has a strained groin and a sore hip (what is this contagious?), and has been sent back to New York for an MRI.

Maybe the Mets players are trying to rack up airline miles to put them in platinum elite status.

This is getting ridiculous. Let's tally who's hurt. We've got Delgado, El Duque, Gotay, Church, and Anderson was briefly out.

Send Wright, Reyes, and Beltran home right now. Send them to their local batting cages and Gold's Gym to finish their workouts.

Who's on First?

Carlos Delgado has a hip injury. He might say it's fine and he feels good, but I guarantee that this is going to come back to bite us at some point during the season.

So if Delgado becomes an issue or continues his slump from last year, who is our answer?

There isn't an official backup first baseman on the Mets roster. We've got Damion Easley, a makeshift all purpose guy who doesn't really excel at any individual position and is a decent hitter at the plate. He's good for filling in holes, but not a guy I want out there every day.

Marlon Anderson is choice number two. I love what he does for us as a pinch hitter and an off the bench kind of guy, but again he's not an every day player in my opinion. He had some success playing every day with the Nationals, but he's not going to give us the production we want from a regular first baseman.

After Anderson, there's Abreu and cast of other potential fill ins. Never before have I thought we should have held on to Shawn Green, but it's not like he's a heaven sent addition either.

What I would like to see is if Ruben Gotay can play first base. I know the kid is injured right now which effects this proposition, but spring training is a great time to test this out. With Luis Castillo as the starting second baseman and with Easley & Anderson both experienced and capable backups, Gotay may find himself on the outside looking in come opening day.

We've seen this before. Remember Jeff Keppinger? Got called up in mid-season, hit the cover off the ball and then was in the minors the following year never to be heard from again. Sure he got injured, but his moment to become an every day Met was gone. Now he's back in the majors and hitting the ball well.

I think Gotay is our modern day version of Jeff Keppinger. He just needs a chance. Believe me he is not an answer to our first base issues. I'd still like to see us get a guy like Texiera in the future, but the current free agent/trade options including Nick Johnson, Richies Sexson, et al aren't exactly exciting to me.

Gotay has got a good bat although he tends to hit better from the left side. He's a decent fielder, but at first base that can often be hid. Gotay would need some practice/experience to get comfortable there so that's why it's so disappointing to me that he's injured right now.

I like Gotay a lot and want to see him get another shot to prove that he deserves to be in the big leagues. Honestly, his production as an every day player may be on par, if not better than, what we'll get from Delgado this year, except for maybe home runs.

If Gotay can get off those crutches and field a few grounders, I'd love to see Willie Randolph give him some touches at first base. Could be a valuable option for us come May.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Not Gotay Too!

The plague has hit Port St. Lucie. Now Ruben Gotay is on crutches with a sprained ankle.

I say it's sabotage or voodoo from the Phillies.

I hate spring training.

Injuries Already?

Ok we all expected El Duque to be hurt. I'd even expect Moises Alou to be a little rusty. But the Mets are looking like an ICU ward out there and it's only March 3rd!

Delgado has a bum hip. El Duque can't find his Centrum Silver. Ryan Church and Marlon Anderson are bumping into each other.

Please people stay away from Johan Santana & Pedro Martinez!

This isn't NFL training camp. Why are these guys getting so banged up? Didn't they work out during the offseason or are they just old?

Please let's get to opening day before something tragic happens.