Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mets Lifer: Fan on the Street Q&A

Mets Lifer took to the street to ask some every day, non-blogging fans about their answers to a few pointed questions. Of course, Bryan and I felt the need to chime in but you’ll find many of the answers to be pretty in line with each other and a few that stand out as unique.

Let’s introduce you to our 5 fans on the street. There’s Tom (who’s in the unenviable position of not only being a lifelong Mets fan, but Jets season ticket holder), Gus (talented musician and 20-something Mets Lifer), KK (a newlywed Mets fan whose husband is unfortunately a Yankees fan), Bob (Jersey-based Mets Lifer who has possibly the best hair of any Mets fan), and Desiree (hardcore Mets fan & professional photographer). Roll the questions: 

In three words or less, describe your feelings about this Mets season?
Tom: Disappointed, Disgusted, Disenchanted
Gus: Where’s Bobby Bonilla?
KK: Utter disgust
Bob: Shocked, unpredictable, disappointed
Desiree: Disappointing
Bryan: Cheated
Dave: Mortified and stupefied 

Is it better, worse or indifferent that at least you won’t have to endure a Mets collapse this September?
Tom: Better. Much better. I absolutely do not want to be put through a third consecutive post season tease. So now for the next six weeks, I can casually tune in and not have to rearrange my schedule to make sure I don’t miss a game. I can also focus my energy on the NFL.

Gus: As much as the past two Septembers have driven me insane, I have to say that it feels great to route for a winner. I’d go for 2008 collapse over what we’ve gone through this year. Kind of feels like we’re just skipping right over 2009….at least football starts soon.

KK: Better to know that we are not even close this year. 2 years of collapsing was exhausting.

Bob: Better as with all of the injuries the pressure and expectation is off and they are now not expected to win.

Desiree: Indifferent

Bryan: No question this is better. I’ve written on this blog before about heartbreaking losses vs. blowout defeats and I’d much rather prefer a blowout. The same applies in this case for the season and for one very simple reason: I sleep much better. When your team loses in such crushing fashion as our beloved Mets have, it takes a very long time to get over that sick feeling. To this day, I obsess about Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. What if Randolph bunted in the 9th? What if fan favorite Cliff Floyd made like Kirk Gibson? What if Jose Valentin was more patient with the bases loaded in the inning following the greatest catch ever? For 2007, you can rattle off any number of blown games that just make you want to vomit but there’s one that sticks out in my mind more than any other. It was the second to last weekend of the season and we were playing the Marlins. The Phils had just swept us the weekend before to cut into our lead, and on this night, our lead was at 3 games. We were down by a run in the 9th, and with 2 outs, and the bases loaded, Marlin Anderson hit a bomb off the wall to clear the bases. Beltran singled in Anderson and we were up by 3…in the last inning! Well, in that inning, Jorge Sosa came on to close b/c Wagner had back spasms that night, and sure enough, Sosa blows it. But if it weren’t for a crucial throwing error by David Wright in that inning, we would have won the game. This is also the game, you will remember, the Phillies were watching on TV in their Clubhouse after they had won their game. They were jumping for joy and even laughing. And who could forget 2008, Mets vs. Cubs in the last week. Murphy leads off with a triple in the 9th of a tie game and we can’t get him in. And Wright, as we all know, struck out with 0 outs. Longwinded response I know, but, it clearly illustrates why I prefer this kind of a season than a humiliating collapse. I will not obsess on any one game from this 2009 campaign and that’s a good thing for me. And the games noted above? Well, they will continue to have a special place in my tortured mind.     

Dave: To me this is worse. A collapse is painful, but there’s interesting baseball games to be played, some excitement in a pennant race and the hope that you’ll pull it out at the end. This season is just pure disappointing and often times the games are unwatchable. I’ve lost interest in the team when the lineup is filled with C-list players and you have to endure Tim Redding or Livan Hernandez as your starter. In a perfect world I choose neither. 

In your opinion, what, if any, is the bright spot for the Mets this season?
Tom: Not many bright spots, to be frank. The farm system has shown it can produce some marginal talent but nothing to write home about. The guys I wanted to see really take another step didn’t (Pelfrey and Murphy) and there’s not enough of Niese and Parnell to make a determination if they can be legit starters. Only one minor bright spot I can point to is that I think if healthy, Angel Pagan could be a starter in the majors.

Gus: There are a few positives that I see coming out of this disastrous Mets season. First, David Wright comes out of this mess  a much better leader and player. He will perform in future Septembers  and will be a legitimate MVP candidate next year (top 3). Second, Minaya gets fired which I think is a great thing. Lastly, the abysmal season propels the organization to make a blockbuster trade in the offseason or at least a series of trades that add up to W’s.

KK: Picking up Jeff Franceour. That’s it. 

Bob: Bright spot would be trading Church for Francoeur. While Francoeur has had a tough year this year he is young still and very capable of having a 25+HR/90+RBI in the future. Don't know if I could say that of Church. Looking to next year an outfield of Pagan, Beltran and Francoeur sounds very, very right.

Desiree:  The acquisition of Jeff Franceour. Period.

Bryan: Wow, I had to think about this for a little bit. I guess Angel Pagan looks like a nice player and has played well here but I’m not totally sold on him as a starter. I think he’s at least a 4th outfielder which is a critical role on any team, especially the Mets. It does concern me however that he has a tendency to be a little lackadaisical out there but I guess that means he’s a perfect fit on this club. I’m intrigued by Parnell, and am interested in seeing how he progresses. Strangely, I still believe in Daniel Murphy. I do think there’s something there. While he certainly hasn’t been a “bright spot” this year, his play at first base has been a pleasant surprise and I actually think he’ll get better with the stick. Don’t lose faith in this guy just yet. Remember, he’s still a kid and in a lineup that’s had only one real offensive threat in it all year.  

Dave: KK and Bryan hit it spot on. Franceour was both the most surprising move of the season and the smartest. You got a young guy with energy for a decent outfielder in Church. I remember seeing the trade on my phone and thinking “huh?” It was an unlikely deal, but it’s already paid dividends. I think Gus makes a good point about David Wright. This could be the year similar to what Michael Jordan went through when he lost Scottie Pippen for an entire season and had to carry the load. Made Jordan a better leader while being surrounded by mediocre talent. Let’s hope it has the safe result with David Wright. 

Who should be fired? Jerry Manuel? Omar Minaya? Both? Neither?
Tom: Jerry gets a pass because of the injuries and it’s only his first full season managing the team. However the heat gets turned on him in ’10 and a bad start might get him canned mid season, like his predecessor (the name Bobby V will he tossed around all winter, I’m sure). If anyone has to go, it’s Omar. 5 years into the Minaya regime has produced one good year that ended on a crushing loss, the worst late season collapse in the history of baseball with a repeat performance the next year,  all sandwiched by two miserable seasons. To be fair, he brought in some good free agents and the Santana trade was an absolute steal, but the overall body of work is lacking. Toss in his public embarrassments (the Rubin fiasco and the mishandling of Randolph’s firing), it’s time to move on.

Gus: Minaya has been average at best and I believe it’s time that we part ways with him at the end of the year. I’d like to see us sign the assistant who put together the Franceour – Church deal. As for Manuel, not sure any Manager could have succeeded this year but I think we need a Joan Rivers (facelift). Give me Bobby V.

KK: Omar Minaya should be FIRED. Jerry needs someone to light a fire under his butt! 

Bob:  Neither of them as no one could have predicted the injuries to Reyes, Delgado (although I felt they should have traded him in the off season), Beltran, Putz, Maine, and now Wright. 

Desiree: In a word, both. 

Bryan: Omar has to go. Period. And I’m sorry to say but I want Manuel to go as well. Nice guy, funny, and honest – maybe too honest – but I need a change. And John Ricco does nothing for me either. Is he qualified? Maybe. But as a Met fan who has been through hell the last few years, I want to hit the “refresh” button. I wish the Wilpons would sell the team but since that’ll never happen, I want to gut the organization. Not sure who to bring in at GM (maybe Beane?) but I would definitely get excited for the return of Bobby V. I’d also have to give a call to LaRussa who is a free agent at the end of this season. Like him or not, the guy always, always has his team prepared to play. You’ll never hear him talk about the need to “stay around .500” until star players get healthy. Thinking outside the box? How about Ron Darling? I think he would make a great manager. The downside of this of course is that he wouldn’t be in the booth with Gary and Keith. 

Dave: I say clean house. I like Jerry a lot, but I’m not sure he is a top tier type of manager and baseball mind. Omar is definitely gone. His ship is sinking faster than El Duque’s career. 

Should the Mets break up the core of Wright/Reyes/Beltran?  
Tom: I hate to say it, but yes. The only way to jolt this team is to trade away one of the “un-tradeables”.  I would get of rid of Beltran first but I think you’re stuck with him because of the contract. Wright is still the face of the organization so he has to be the last to go. Which leaves Reyes. This would be one of the toughest decisions in the last 20 years, but he’s had a history of injuries and he has never become the superstar everyone thought he would be by now. With what you can potentially get in return, it might be time to silence the “Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose” chants at Citfield 

Gus: I think that the core must be broken up. Beltran’s soft but is one of the top 3 CF in the game. Wright is the heart and soul of the organization and the only untouchable we have on the team. So…..DEAL REYES! He’s still young at 26, but he hasn’t matured or markedly improved and has a history of leg injuries. I’d like to see him dealt for a stud pitcher or really young and talented position player…not sure what his value is anymore but give me Ellsbury whose the same age but possesses more of that spark we need as a team….or Kazmir and Crawford.

KK: Yes, they should break up the core.......but KEEP David Wright

Bob: They shouldn’t break up the core. Wright and Reyes are the face of the franchise and the 3 of them are among the greatest players at their position now in the NL.

Desiree: I believe that if any of them should go, it should be David Wright.  Beltran is a much better player in clutch situations and finding a replacement shortstop that could match Jose Reyes would be very difficult.   By bringing on Jeff Francoeur, the Mets have found the possible leadership person they have been looking for, a role David Wright has not been able to fill.

Bryan: Well, I didn’t feel this way even after two straight September collapses, but I do think we need to consider a change now. First, I would explore a Beltran deal but you have to get him to waive his no trade clause, which would be no easy task. Plus, there are serious questions about his knees so I’m not sure you can get good value in return. As much as I love Reyes, he’s never come close to the MVP-like numbers he put up in ’06. Plus, his air-brain decisions are a major concern, not to mention his leg injuries. But, much like Beltran, I’m not sure what you can get for him at this point. I would do Bucholtz and Ellsbury for him but I don’t know if the Sox would go for that. Would it be possible to package Reyes in a deal for Halladay? I would make getting Halladay priority #1 by the way. And I would not trade David Wright but I will say this. Of all the things that have gone wrong this year, the most alarming and troubling issue for me and my #1 concern going into next season is Wright’s lack of production at the plate. It is absolutely amazing that a guy can go 30 and 100 four straight years and then completely fall off a cliff.   No one really wants to admit it or discuss it because David is such a likeable guy and literally the face of the franchise but his drop off is without a doubt the white elephant. We used to be able to pencil his numbers in at the end of the year. .300/30/110/.390 OBS. Now, I can’t confidently say for sure whether we’re going to see the David Wright of old (especially now after the beaning), or are we going to have the next Brian Giles? That’s a scary thought for Met Lifers. 

Dave: I say keep the core unless a team makes an offer you can’t refuse (i.e. Reyes for Bucholtz & Ellsbury, which is crazy ridiculous if the BoSox offer that). Here’s why you keep the core. What better players are you going to get at each position? Beltran is possibly the best CF in baseball when you combine his hitting and fielding. I’ll give you Grady Sizemore if you want, but Beltran is definitely top 3. There aren’t any 3B lying around that the Mets could pickup and you can’t trade Wright who is the franchise. The fans would revolt (except for Desiree). Lastly, who’s going to replace Reyes at SS. Where can you find a legit leadoff hitter, with a very good glove, and exceptional speed? They’re hard to find.

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