Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mets Need to Avoid Pitfalls

Brad Bortone at Bugs and Cranks wrote a post this morning highlighting some things the Mets need to avoid now that things appear to be on the right track.

It's a great post and all of his points are things that potentially Mets management would consider which is also scary. The biggest point I think that Brad makes is his last one about staying too loyal to certain names. Specifically, Maine and Perez.

Yes, Maine had a good start yesterday. Yes, Perez' ERA looks really, really good. But if you've watched any of the games in which they've pitched you realize it was a stressful exercise that as Brad points out proves that the Mets bullpen is rock solid.

I'm still of the mindset that the Mets need another starting pitcher. I'm willing to believe that Pelfrey has turned the corner. Niese is young enough that he's going to have his ups and downs and that's to be expected. But I'm not willing to lay my confidence in Maine and Perez for the rest of the season. If there's a better option to be had, the Mets should explore it.

Click here to read the post on Bugs and Cranks.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What Are the Mets Doing in First Place?

Yes, it's April. The season is very young. But I'm shocked to see the Mets in first place today.

That's right. After a doubleheader sweep of the Dodgers, the Mets are a half game up on the Phillies and leading the division after going 8-1 over their last 9 games. Wow. What happened? I'll tell you what happened, the stars aligned.

The Mets have received some unbelievable pitching from their starters and the bullpen over the last 9 games. I do believe that Mike Pelfrey has turned the corner. I do believe we have a solid bullpen. What I don't believe is that Perez/Niese/Starter to be named later will sustain this level of performance throughout the season. They'll have their ups and downs and we saw that last night in Oliver Perez.

I also think the bullpen is going to be overworked if they continue to pitch in this many appearances so at some point we're going to need a few starters to make it past the 5th inning.

The bats look alive though. Bay is starting to find his groove. Wright got his 1,000th career hit and drove in a couple RBIs. Reyes looks very comfortable. And we don't even have Beltran back yet.

I'm completely surprised at this turnaround, but it goes to show you that good pitching can make all the difference. Now they just need to maintain this performance level for 5 more months.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Demise of a Mets Antagonist

Dear Larry (a.k.a. Chipper),

Just wanted to send you a quick note. After all these years I felt that I owed it to you. This past weekend, you weren't yourself. You can blame it on injury or the rain or the fact that your team just isn't that great, but we all know what's going on here. Larry, you're getting old.

I've watched it firsthand with Mike Piazza. You've seen it with Ken Griffey, Jr. But for some reason I never thought I'd see it with you, Larry. You own the Mets. You have cause so much destruction to this team that Armando Benitez is jealous. You have been the epitome of all that Mets fans despise and want at the same time. You scoff in our faces and name your children as a way to mock Mets fandom.

How can this come to an end? This love/hate relationship. It feels too soon and so right at the same time.

I love watching you fail as you muff infield fly balls and screw up little league throws to first base, but it makes me sad at the same time. Ok, I'm not sad for very long because I'm laughing at you, but a little piece of me is sorry to see this evil dance of antagonism between us come to an end.

You're no long a fearsome presence Mr. Jones. Who thought this day would ever come, but I guess I'll relish it.

Mets Lifers everywhere

Friday, April 23, 2010

Things to Dislike About Ike Davis

Everybody's talking about Ike Davis. Oh, he's so wonderful. Ah, he's so talented. Ooh, can he sign my shoes?

It's time for a little reality check before we got all hot and bothered about Mr. Davis. So to keep things real here's a list of all the things to dislike about Ike Davis:

  1. His sideburns (Dylan McKay called and would like them back)
  2. His number (#29? What are you a backup QB?)
  3. He's better looking than you are
  4. He's more talented than you are
  5. He strikes out (Who does he think he is striking out? David Wright?)
  6. His name is Ike (A stale chewy candy)
  7. He appears to be clean cut (ahem, Tiger Woods was once thought to be that too)
  8. He had Mike Jacobs fired (Sure, Mr. Nice Guy)
  9. He made you forget about Daniel Murphy (Remember him? Remember those Pete Rose comparisons?)
Yeah, Ike Davis. I like him a lot.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Is this the Real Big Mike Pelfrey?

Who was that pitching for the Mets tonight? That couldn't have been the Mike Pelfrey we know. For the last two weeks Pelfrey has shown tremendous command on the mound. He's locating pitches. He appears to be pitching to situations better.

He looks like a legit starting pitcher. What happened?

I'll tell you what happened. Mike Pelfrey got ticked off. Pelfrey has finally manned up and become a pitcher we thought he could be. Who knows how long this will last, but I believe the disgrace he felt from being demoted to the #4 starter, the constant chatter of his underachiever status and just general disgust for what people were saying about him finally got to him.

I say, it's about stinkin' time. Pelfrey hasn't given up a run in his last two starts and hasn't been rattled by base hits or tough situations either. Unlike Santana, he was fortunate to find some rare run support thanks to the newly awoken bat of Jose Reyes.

I think this is the first time in a long time that I enjoyed watching Pelfrey pitch. If he can consistently pitch like this (yes, I expect he'll give up some runs here and there) he will be the much needed second starter the Mets have been desperate for.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Kids Come Through

Baseball is so much more fun when you win, but last night's Mets game was even more fun as you got to watch two of the Mets young prospects perform at a high level.

Jon Niese pitched a great game yesterday. He gave up a ton of hits, but the beauty of it is he got out of the jam every time. Niese was pitching Derek Lee like he owned him. Jamming him inside with the fastball. Then throwing the off speed pitch outside. The way he was changing velocity and location was textbook pitching. Something we rarely see as Mets fans.

Then of course, there's Ike Davis. I honestly thought the guy would go 0 for 4 because of all the hype and anticipation around his arrival. But he showed that he can deal with pressure. He packaged a couple of hits with a nice RBI and made everyone watching forget that there's this guy Daniel Murphy who's supposed to be starting at first base.

This is what the Mets have been missing. Some energy around some young guys and being able to watch them play. Citi Field looked rather empty last night, but if these young guys continue to perform well (even if the Mets don't win) you'll see more fans wanting to come to the ballpark.

Picture: NY Daily News/Antonelli

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Most Painful of Mets Series

In a post on Friday, I referred the Mets weekend series as one of the more interesting series of this early season. I was wrong. It wasn't interesting. It was downright painful.

Friday night's surprise gem by Oliver Perez imploded in grand fashion with a grand slam and then an almost but not enough close to the game. Saturday night's marathon was legendary in the annals of baseball, but as a Mets fan it was one of the more excruciating games to watch as Mets batter after Mets batter was left clueless at the plate even with shortstops and third basemans on the mound. The eventual win was more of a relief than a win to celebrate as a loss would have been beyond devastating.

And then Sunday's game was yet another downturn in the hopeful career of John Maine who threw more pitches in four innings than the Mets did in the last 8 innings on Saturday, and again the Mets were dreadful at the plate.

The best news of the day on Sunday was that Mike Jacobs was pretty much fired and there's a chance Ike Davis might be making an appearance.

The Mets bats are probably tired, but it's no excuse for the utter lack of discipline at the plate. Reyes is swinging at any pitch that ends in "ball." Jason Bay can't find a hit if he was digging through a barrell of Beatles albums. David Wright has made striking out an art form. And Gary Matthews, Jr. should not be on a major league baseball field.

It's yet another chapter in this mystery that is the Mets. When we say the pitching stinks, the pitching comes out and shines, but then the bats enter a deep freeze.

Jerry Manuel is probably going to be fired by the end of the week, but it's honestly not his fault at this point. Reyes should be given a few days off and told to calm down. Bay will eventually find his stroke as he pulled the same early slump in Boston last year. But can the pitching hold up while the bats find their way? Not likely.

Friday, April 16, 2010

An Interesting Series in St. Louis

Wins make everything better. The despair and depression of the horrible start has been forgotten for at least 24 hours thanks to Mike Pelfrey's stellar performance yesterday afternoon in Denver.

But reality will return this evening as the Mets visit Pujols and company in St. Louis. The Cardinals and modern miracle worker Dave Duncan are off to a good start and look like a team built to win it all. For the Mets this series will give us some answers to some interesting questions plaguing this team. Those questions are:

Will the old John Maine return?
Much has been made of the fact that Sunday's prime time start for Maine could be a deciding one as to Maine's long term place on this team. Not sure why the pressure is being put on Maine and not on Perez too, but the fact is if Maine falters early and lets up some big runs, he might find himself banished to the bullpen or even worse, sent to the minors. If Maine pitches well he lives to play another day. For how long is debatable.

Can Reyes bat third?
Jerry Manuel will get to see if his lineup skills are in order as he plans to move Jose Reyes down in the order to the #3 spot with Angel Pagan batting leadoff. I'm still not a fan of this, but if Reyes bats .400 for the series this could be a more permanent move until Beltran returns from the disable list. If Reyes bat .120 then it's just another notch in the fire Jerry Manuel belt.

Is Oliver Perez still a big game pitcher?
While the Saturday afternoon game on FOX isn't exactly a Game 7 of the World Series matchup, it's still an early season high profile game in which Perez has excelled in the past. Amidst his mental issues and on mound implosions Perez has historically done well against big name teams like the Braves, Phils and Yankees. If Perez can't even provide one of these magical moments every once in a while he's beyond useless to this team. If he pitches well, his confidence should increase and we may see him ride the high for a few starts.

Is this Jeff Franceour for real?
Frenchie has been white hot to start the season. This weekend he'll face some pretty solid pitching which should let us see if he's really improved his swing in the offseason or if he'll be brought back down to earth. Honestly, I think his swing has improved and he's even taken some pitches which were typical Franceour swings in years past. I hope he shows us that he's the real deal that was so hyped in his early days with Atlanta.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Sure Sign of Trouble

Any time the collective blogosphere of Mets fanboys knows more about the needs of a team than the team's management is a sure sign that your team is in trouble. Or that it's being run by a bunch of baboons.

I've been pretty much a broken record since the end of last season. Starting pitching, starting pitching, starting pitching. That's what the Mets need. Love the Jason Bay signing. Love having a healthy Reyes and eventually a Carlos Beltran. But pitching is what matters most in the game of baseball.

Apparently the knuckleheads in the front office chose to ignore such a fact and simply pray that the sun would come out tomorrow and everything would be alright. Oliver Perez is a head case? Nah, he'll be fine. John Maine hasn't had command of his fastball since 2008? No matter, this year he'll be the second coming of Tom Seaver. Mike Pelfrey is getting worse and worse over the last two seasons? Fughedaboutit, he'll be magical in 2010.

Sure, this is a bit of hyperbole, but it ain't too far from the truth. While every Mets fan was calling for pitching, the powers that be insisted that though the ship was sinking everything would be alright.

So now we have a situation where the manager is already questioning his pitchers after ONLY 7 GAMES. I understand the season is barely a week old. I get it. But there's zero confidence that things will magically improve given time.

Although that's what Omar Minaya is betting his job on.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Are the Mets the Only Team with Nemeses?

The Mets appear to be perpetually haunted by the ghosts of the past. Are the Mets the only team in baseball to have multiple nemeses? Why is it that when players get dumped by the Mets they came back to destroy them? Is this organization cursed?

I've been a Mets fan all my life, but having talked to friends who are Yankees, Phillies, Braves and Dodgers fans none of them could name more than one player who they would classify as a nemesis to their team. And in most cases their response was simply that this particular player has hurt them in the past year or two, but not throughout their career.

I realize my sampling is small and potentially myopic, but it made me question whether the Mets are the only team to have not just one nemesis, but sever Lex Luthor's out there.

Off the top of my head I'm sure any Mets fan can tell you that the archenemies of this team include Jimmy Rollins, Hanley Ramirez, Pat Burrell, Josh Johnson, Willy Harris, and Chipper Jones. These guys always seem to come through for their teams against the Mets. They may not have averages over .400 against the Mets, but they damage us at just the right time.

How many diving catches can Willy Harris make at Citi Field? Pat Burrell has more home runs against the Mets than Daniel Murphy has as a Met. Josh Johnson has enough scoreless innings against the Mets to total 4 shutouts.

If you know of other players that just destroy other teams, please share them because I'd like to know that the Mets aren't the only ones in this plight. But at this current it appears that the Mets may soon have a nemesis on each of the teams in the National League before this season is out.

Friday, April 9, 2010

An Odd Feeling to the 2010 Season

This 2010 campaign just feels weird. There's already an anxiousness among the Mets fan base that's unprecedented for this time in the year. So you lose two out of three in your first series of the season. That doesn't mean your doomed to be in last place for the remainder of the year.

But that's what it feels like. Jerry Manuel is already talking about how his team needs offensive support (hello? did you see your team score 13 runs in the first two games?). The media is asking about where the team's power is going to come from. We're already crucifying the starting rotation and it's apparent lack of support after Johan Santana.

And it's only the first week of the season. This is going to be a painfully long year. The Mets are trying to prove that last year was a fluke, but we as fans won't believe them until we see that our team isn't floundering amongst the bottom feeders of the National League.

I was on pins and needles last night and the game before as the Mets were trying to come back from early deficits. It's April for crying out loud. I know that, you know that, but it doesn't matter. We need some hope.

Nothing is a harbinger of hope like a series against the Nationals.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Never Too Early for Stupid Mets Remarks

It's the second game of the year. The season is barely a few days old, but Mets manager Jerry Manuel has found a way to already start talking stupid.

Following yesterday's tough loss to the Marlins, our beloved manager made a remark that he has some concerns about the starting rotation.

Ya think? Umm, Jerry? Shouldn't you have expressed this back in like December when something could have been done about it? Did you talk to Omar Minaya at all these past 6 months? What the heck?

This is possibly the most idiotic thing Manuel has ever said. Even though it's the truth and no one can deny that there aren't problems with the Mets starting pitching, you don't say something like this after the second game of the season when you had an opportunity to do something about it just a few weeks before.

The crazy part is it was after a great game in which the Mets overcame a 5 run deficit to send the game into extra innings. We saw more production in the first two games of 2010 than we did in the last two week of the 2009 season.

And such is life with the Mets. Manuel can't leave town fast enough for my taste.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mets Fans Can Feel Good for One Day

Let me start this off by saying it's just one game. It's one game in a very long season, but even so it feels great to have an Opening Day win.

The Mets broke the curse of Josh Johnson yesterday by handing him and the Marlins a 7-1 thumping for the Mets 5th straight win on Opening Day. After reading Bill Madden's apocalyptic preview of the Mets season the day before and hearing countless chatter about what a drag the 2010 season will be it was nice to have that first game of the year be such an enjoyable one.

The Mets got a fantastic performance from Johan Santana (as per usual). David Wright exorcised the power demons from 2009 cranking a home run in his first at bat of the  year. Jason Bay looked good. Even, Gary Matthews had a couple of hits.

So while we have no certainty of what's to come for this team, Mets fans can enjoy a great start to the season and the fact that baseball is back.

Let's go Mets!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Mets Opening Day Lineup

According to SNY's Kevin Burkhardt, the opening day lineup for the Mets will be as follows:

1. Alex Cora - SS
2. Luis Castillo - 2B
3. David Wright - 3B
4. Mike Jacobs - 1B
5. Jason Bay - LF
6. Gary Matthews, Jr. - CF
7. Jeff Franceour - RF
8. Rod Barajas - C
9. Johan Santana - P

Yes, it's a formidable lineup if you're the Royals but not exactly the one Mets fans wanted to see. Even with the players that are on the DL I'm baffled at just how bad this lineup is. There are ways to improve this lineup even with players the Mets already have on their bench.

I don't get why this isn't the real lineup:
1. Angel Pagan - CF
2. Luis Castillo - 2B
3. David Wright - 3B
4. Jason Bay - LF
5. Mike Jacobs - 1B
6. Jeff Franceour - RF
7. Rod Barajas - C
8. Alex Cora - SS
9. Johan Santana - P

I think Angel Pagan has done enough to deserve the opening day start and batting Cora leadoff is just absurd. At least with Pagan, or even Matthews for that matter, you have the potential for some early game doubles or triples.

Matt Cerrone at made an assessment which I also uphold and that is why on earth or you giving Jacobs the potential for more at bats than Jason Bay? Sure Bay batted fifth with Boston but he is a more than capable clean up hitter who definitely deserves more AB's than a guy who probably shouldn't have even made the team.

It is what it is though and maybe I'm over thinking things. I'm anxious for the season to start though and see if Bay's and Wright's spring performance are sign of things to come.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Mets Fans Have a Right to be Negative

Have you ever been to a restaurant and really enjoyed your food, the ambiance, etc.? Then you go back a few times and still really like it. But then there's a few times where they just really let you down. The food was bad, you waited too long, or maybe you got sick afterward. You still go back there because it's one of your favorite places, but then it seems like every time you go you're disappointed. Bad food, bad service, the place isn't as clean as it used to.

So you stop going. You complain about the place to management, to your friends and colleagues. You complain about it more than  you normally would because this used to be a great place to hang out and enjoy yourself. Now it's a dump.

We all can agree that you have a right to complain about a restaurant, but there are a number of Mets fans out there who are getting all uppity (yes, uppity) about Mets fans being negative about the 2010 Mets team.

With what has happened since the 206 season, we have every right to have a negative outlook. We're still fans, but until this team proves their on the right track we're going to complain so that our voices are heard and things can head in the right direction. Just like you wouldn't go back to that restaurant unless you heard it was under new management or hired a new chef.

The last few weeks I can feel my attitude changing. Call it spring fever if you want but I'm excited about baseball again.However, I'm not going to bicker about Mets fans who aren't excited yet or don't have a positive outlook. They have every right to be negative if they're paying $400 for a family of four to go enjoy a ball game and have to suffer through an Oliver Perez start, and Alex Cora as the starting shortstop.

The negativity should be allowed for a while. If it becomes all that a Mets fan talks about they're probably not a real fan, but let the people get their frustration out. Perhaps this team will surprise us and be competitive for a while. Who knows? But the whining about the whining is getting annoying.