Saturday, July 31, 2010

Only the Mets Can

Only the Mets can beat the best team in the league one night, and lose to the worst team in the league the next.

Only the Mets can turn a 2 homer/5 RBI night by their star player into a mocking defeat.

Only the Mets can have a starting rotation where their top pitchers can't find their way out of the first inning.

Only the Mets can give confidence to a team that's lost 7 straight games.

Only the Mets can deserve a four game losing streak to the worst team in the National League.

Only the Mets can average 6 runs a game over their last 4 games and have a 2-2 record to show for it.

Only the Mets can give you hope one moment and make you gag on it the next.

Only the Mets can find a way to risk losing a series to a bad team on their Hall of Fame induction weekend.

Only the Mets can make Aaron Heilman look like a decent closer.

Only the Mets can sit idly on the sidelines while other team bulk up on pitching.

Only the Mets can be satisfied with their current rotation.

Only the Mets...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Revenge Should Be on Mets Minds

Last night's tragic affair is almost too soon forgotten thanks to the RA Dickey led Mets win over the Cardinals.It's nice to see this team bounce back quickly from a punch in the gut, but it's easier to do that when your starting pitcher throws 8+ scoreless innings for you.

The Mets got their revenge on the Cardinals this afternoon, but that cold dish now needs to be served up to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The DBacks thoroughly embarrassed the Mets the other week by sweeping the three game series. If ever the Mets needed a three game sweep, the DBacks series is just the moment as the Mets will then have to travel to Atlanta and Philly the following week.

The Mets should not even pitch to Mark Reynolds this series. The guy sends balls into LaGuardia air space every time he comes to Citi Field. Hit him in the shin and don't even give him the chance to make you pay.

The thing that concerns me is that the Mets have scored 19 runs their last three games. That means their due for a drought. In any case the Mets need to scrap together three more consecutive wins. A 2-1 series win is almost pointless at this point.

It's now or never because next week's NL East battles will determine the direction for the rest of the Mets season or usher in thoughts of fantasy football draft status.

Things Not Heard at the Mets vs Cards Game Last Night

"Johan Santana looks good."

"Jeff Francoeur gets better at the plate in extra innings."

"At least, the Cardinals didn't score 7 runs in the first inning."

"Pedro Feliciano has amazing command."

"I'm glad to see the Mets walk Jay to pitch to Pujols."

"Jerry Manuel is a master of substitution."

"Can't wait to see if Oliver Perez gets to pitch."

"Castillo has fresh legs tonight."

"We sure could use Jason Bay in this spot."

"How could you not love Yadier Molina?"

"I wish McCarver and Buck were calling this game."

"Smart move. Let's take our chances pitching to Pujols with the winning run on third."

"I'm happy to see the Mets fight back even though they lost."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mets Won't Make a Move

The Mets are pretty predictable when it comes to the trading deadline. Every year there's a ton of hype early on and the Mets are named as players in the market for top notch talent, but by the time July 31st roles around the Mets usually find themselves outside looking in.

2010 is no different. The Mets have gone from buyers for Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt to Ted Lilly and Brett Myers to now a number of middle of the road relievers. I guess a 2-9 road trip can change your perspective on things.

The Mets need to find some direction and purpose to the roster moves they make instead of reacting to the current situation. Since the Mets starting pitching has been doing well of late, although the bats have struggled, so Mets management feels that maybe they don't need another starting pitcher. That's a myopic view of things.

I applaud their caution in not wanting to trade Niese or Ike or even Mejia at the first offer that comes along. That's a huge step in the right direction from previous years. However, the Mets need to look at what will help long term. For the last two seasons, the Mets starting pitching has needed another top of the line arm. Halladay, Lee, or Oswalt are the type of talent that can make a huge impact on this team. But because of one or two weeks of solid performance the Mets think they don't need that extra help?

Yes Dickey is a great story and I believe Jon Niese will be a guy that can be a #3 starter over the long term, but you've got a clearly inconsistent Pelfrey, a reliever turned starter in Takahashi, and a total crapshoot in Perez/Maine.

The Mets NEED another arm. Santana has been awesome, but he needs help. Pelfrey started out great, but we can see he's not ready to carry the load yet. I'm not positive theirs a deal to be made that the Mets should take advantage of, but if they do make a move it clearly needs to be done with the long term in mind.

Don't let two weeks of decent pitching fool you. This starting rotation needs some insurance.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Meeting Keith Hernandez

The other week I had the opportunity to meet the player I most tried to emulate as a baseball player, Keith Hernandez. It's not a wild tail of chasing him down or bumping into him unexpectedly, but it was still a pretty cool encounter from my perspective.

I was boarding a flight to San Francisco on the day before the All Star game when I look behind me in line and see Keith Hernandez. I was traveling with some other people and one of my travel partners turned to me and giddily asked, "Is that Keith Hernandez?" I confirmed his suspicion and took my seat in the first row of coach, while Keith rightfully sat in first class.

I wasn't about to cross the dreaded first class curtain to go talk to him during the flight. That'd be a little too creepy. Plus he was sitting by the window so I'd have to talk over the person sitting on the aisle. I was hoping that I'd be able to catch him as we exited the plane and just say hello, but when the flight landed Keith was long gone before it was my row's turn to exit.

I thought I'd lost my chance. So I headed towards the baggage claim and was trying to determine which of the dozen baggage claims would have my bag when I turned around and saw Keith sitting and just checking his BlackBerry. I went up to him fully expecting to be ignored or brushed off for bothering my childhood hero, but I had to do it anyway.

I simply went up to him and said "Mr. Hernandez, just wanted to let you know that you're the reason I played first base growing up. I'm a huge fan and love what you, Gary and Ron do on the broadcast." I extended my hand and Keith did something unexpected. He smiled, shook my hand and responded, "Why thank you for very much for saying so. I appreciate it."

I wished him well on his trip and we exchanged cordial goodbyes. Keith was very accommodating to this fanboy and it's not every day you get to meet one of your favorite baseball players of all time. As I shared this story with others, everyone asked me why I didn't share my blog with him or get a picture to post on Mets Lifer. Maybe I should have, but it was cool just the same.

And I'm happy I didn't make a fool of myself. I should have worn my Mets retired #17 t-shirt though...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Apathy is Setting In

Last night's extra inning loss should have been a painful, disappointing game for me as a Mets fan. Unfortunately it wasn't. It was a fully expected outcome. As I monitored Twitter to see what other Mets fans were saying, the dialogue was no different. A loss was inevitable.

No hits after the 6th inning. Substituting pitchers left and right until we were left with Oliver Perez. The game was almost scripted for Mets disappointment.

During the Giants series, each loss was excruciating as you waited for the Mets bats to break out. But by the time the third loss game in Arizona, apathy had officially set in and now each loss in LA comes with little or no surprise.

The Mets have a chance to split the series against the Dodgers which after this past week is a welcome outcome, but I have zero expectations that this will happen. Dickey will pitch well today, but winning games on the road requires you to score runs.

This feeling should not be. After what was an exciting first half of baseball, this Mets team has quickly turned anticipation into a repeat nightmare of 2009. Yes, there's still time to make up ground, but the Mets give little hope that a turnaround can be made.

Mets fans need some hope.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

This Feels Like the 2009 Mets

Injuries. Under-performing superstars. A mid-season change in right field. Erratic bullpen. Absence of timely hitting. Unwinnable road trips.

Are we stuck in 2009? Because that's what it's starting to feel like.

After last year's All Star Break concluded with the Mets on an unbelievable 10 game winning streak they started their road to perdition that mercifully ended with a near basement dwelling position in the NL East. This past April, May and June we were led to believe that the 2009 Mets were a mere apparition. But now it appears the ghosts of '09 may be coming back to haunt us.

The lack of life in this team is palpable, and Mets Lifers everywhere have little confidence the Mets will end this West coast swing with even winning 1 more game. The Mets may very well return home over 8 games behind the front running Braves and flirting with the .500 mark.

How far has this team fallen from being 11 games over .500 and within a half game of first place just two weeks ago? The Mets need some hope. Will that hope come in a rearranging of the lineup? Fat chance. Will that hope come in the form of a new starting pitcher? Not sure if that's enough. Will that hope come with Jason Bay's revival? Don't think we can wait that long.

Hope comes in the form of a single letter: W. W's are what the Mets need and they need them desperately. A sweep of the Dodgers is a pipe dream. Winning 3 out of 4 is a pipe dream. For now a 2-2 series split would be a heaven sent blessing. But the Mets cannot get swept in LA.

If they do you might as well sweep this season under the rug.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Mets Hole

This is a hole. It's one the Mets are currently digging. It's wide. It's deep. And it's the kind that you normally don't come out of. There's a chance you can get out of this hole. A small one. But it normally takes some outside help in order to get out. It's not the kind you climb out of. Unless there's a miracle.

A 3 win road trip and returning to New York close to 10 games out of first place will make this hole even worse. It could very well collapse on itself.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Mess that is the Mets

The Mets have won two of their last 8 games. For most of June the Mets were floating around the 10 games over .500 mark and now find themselves closer to 10 games out then having the division lead.

This is such a bizarre season of opposites. When the bullpen is good the starting pitching struggles. When the starting pitching is good, the bats go cold. When the bats are hot, the bullpen implodes. The Mets finally get everybody healthy and can't seem to win with first string players.

What is going on with this team? They are finding ways to collapse and with 6 more games left on this West Coast trip, the Mets could be 8 games out by the time they return to Flushing.

If the Mets were ever going to make a trade, now is the time to do it. This team needs a fire to ignite them. Maybe it's a bench clearing brawl. Maybe it's an unsung hero stepping up. But mostly it's the guys doing what their supposed to do.

Last night's loss is fully on the shoulders of Mike Pelfrey who self-destructed before the second inning even started. But this entire team needs to get it started before we are sent back to the torture of last season.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Jason Bay is LOST

Call him Jack Shephard. Call him Hurley. Call him Sawyer, Freckles, Locke, Jin , Henry Gale or Desmond for all I care. It all leads to the same conclusion. Jason Bay is utterly lost.

Bay is causing Mets fans to flashback to the first year Beltran joined the ballclub. Big paycheck coming off a huge season, only to struggle for 6 months in New York. Flashforward to 2010 and Jason Bay is doomed to repeat history.

The big power bat signing of the offseason has fewer home runs than a rookie first baseman who didn't even play for most of April. His bat is no longer a threat and it leaves those batting in front of him unprotected. It's not even that Bay has had a tough stretch or that he's hitting the ball well but getting out. Bay just looks completely baffled at the plate for the better part of the last three months.

I was one who thought it was just a funk that Bay would find his way out of, but it seems less likely that Bay is going to come anywhere close to the 30 home run, 100 RBI player that we all thought he would be.

There may come a time when Angel Pagan and Jeff Francoeur may look like the better options to play in left.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Dark Cloud or Sunny Outlook for the Mets?

Welcome to the All Star break. Last year at this time the Mets were on a roll winning 8 straight heading into the All Star game. This year the Mets limp into the break (both literally and figuratively) but find themselves only 4 games out of the top spot in the NL East.

I want to be positive about this team's performance so far, but part of me is waiting for the dark cloud to settle in. 2010 has been a surprise for me based on the moves the Mets did or didn't make during the off season, the fact that two starting pitchers have done absolutely nothing this year, and Jason Bay looks like Jeromy Burnitz at the plate.

So there are two sides to the Mets outlook for the future. Let's take a look at the top issues from both perspectives.

Starting Pitching
Sunny Outlook: Dickey has become a legit #4 starter. Niese is fantastic. Santana is a second half guy. Perez is banished to the minors.

Dark Cloud: Pelfrey is plummeting. Mets missed out on Cliff Lee. No way Dickey can sustain this level of play. Omar is going to bring up Perez if Dickey falters.

Jason Bay
Sunny Outlook: His second half can't get any worse than the first half!
Dark Cloud: He's this year's David Wright of 2009.

NL East Standings
Sunny Outlook: Mets are only 4 games back. Phils are hurt. Atlanta can't be this dominant all season.
Dark Cloud: 11 game West coast road trip to start the second half will bury the Mets.

Carlos Beltran
Sunny Outlook: Beltran is back this week!
Dark Cloud: Beltran won't return to be the Beltran of yesteryear, and he'll cause issues with Pagan and Francoeur platooning.

Jose Reyes
Sunny Outlook: Reyes has been the comeback player of the year so far.
Dark Cloud: Reyes' injury will hamper him for the next month or so.

Sunny Outlook: We have K-Rod.
Dark Cloud: We have Pray Rod.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Is It Time for the Mets to Trade Francoeur?

When the Mets traded for Jeff Francoeur last year I was shocked. I viewed Frenchie as a lifelong Braves player and couldn't understand why Atlanta would give up on their home grown talent.

But a year later, I'm starting to see why.

Francoeur is a rare talent in the outfield. He throws out runners like it's a toss to first base. His arm has prevented dozens of runners from scoring and squashed rallies. But it's his bat that's the problem.

Calling Francoeur streaky would be like saying Siberia is chilly. He was red hot to star the season then found himself in a 60 at bat funk. He broke out for another week and appears to be back in a slump. I doubt he'll find another groove like the one he had in April.

Sure Francoeur is a great clubhouse guy, a decent leader and always good for a quote. But clubhouse leadership, while important, doesn't help you win a pennant. So I think it's time for the Mets to trade Francoeur.

When Beltran returns, the worst thing the Mets can do is send Angel Pagan to the bench or platoon him. Pagan is succeeding as an every day player. Frenchie has always been an every day player. There's no way either of these guys are going to flourish in a platoon role. You have to move one of them.

Over the long term Francoeur's bat won't suddenly become a reliable offensive machine. He'll always be streaky, but that streakiness is leaving the bottom of the Mets order vulnerable. I can't even count how many times Frenchie comes up with runners on base and two outs late in the game and then swings at the first pitch only to pop out.

There's a chance the Mets can get some relief help or a backup infielder for Francoeur while also freeing up some space in their outfield. I really like Francoeur, but I find that the only reason I want to keep him is for his arm and that he's a gregarious guy. Is that really a reason to keep a weak, unreliable bat in the lineup?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dear Phillies, Please Trade Jayson Werth

Now that LeBron-gate is over and it appears Cliff Lee is ending up with the Yankees (surprise!), it's time to turn our attention to other notable trade rumors.

The wildest one this morning is word that the Phillies are looking to trade Jayson Werth for pitching help. In fact details are even being released that the Phils are willing to trade Werth to the Yankees for Javier Vasquez.

Yes, Phillies. Please trade Jayson Werth.

Honestly, I like Jayson Werth as a player and would just love it if the Mets were able to get him as a free agent. Sure getting Vazquez would give the Phils a really solid starting rotation, but for the better part of the season that Phillies lineup is no longer frightening.

Utley is out for over a month. Polanco is out. Werth will be gone. That leaves Howard as the lone scary bat in what was once a murderer's row in the 3-5 spots in the order.

The rotation of Hamels, Vazquez and Halladay might be slightly better than Santana, Pelfrey and maybe Oswalt/Lilly, but it's not enough in my estimation to make it worthwhile to trade Jayson Werth. But by all means Philadelphia, make the trade.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Impressive Start End in Disappointing Loss

Jon Niese is becoming more valuable a starter to the Mets every time he goes out there. Too bad he had to lose yesterday. Niese pitched a terrific game from a statistical standpoint. He went 7 and 2/3 innings. Struckout 8. Walked only 1. And limited his pitch count. But he did give up 3 runs which was enough for Mets villain, Bronson Arroyo, to notch the win.

It was an odd game to watch as the Mets just couldn't do anything at the plate. The game was moving so quickly that only an hour and a half after the start you were already in the 7th inning.

In the 9th with the Mets down 3-1, Ike Davis was on second with Ruben Tejada on first. Alex Cora was allowed to bat even though the Mets had Frenchie and Barajas as power bats on the bench. Not the worst move that Jerry Manuel has made but I still question why on earth he didn't bat for Cora. There were 2 outs and he had Frenchie in the on deck circle.

I understand the lefty/right matchup, but at that point Cora isn't exactly the power bat who can drive in both runs, nor has he been a clutch hitter. I would have much rather seen Barajas up there and take a chance on him ending the game with one swing.

Nevertheless, the Mets lost their first series at home in what feels like months. The Reds aren't exactly a scary team, but the long ball is how they win games and Mets pitchers gave up plenty this series. And so the first place Braves roll into town with a 3 game leads on the Mets.

Let's see what this team is made of and if they can make up any ground before heading into the All Star break.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Santana Out to Prove Something

After my post yesterday calling out Santana to prove to Mets fans he's still the pitcher we thought he was, Santana goes out and does just that. A complete game, shutout.

While I'm not about to pull a Jerry Manuel and call it a "gangsta" performance, it was a stake in the ground moment for Santana heading into the All Star break. Santana needed to dominate and come out with a win. In fact, he put the whole team on his back as he belted the first home run of his career. Hey, if no one is going to score runs for him, he might as well do it himself.

In the 9th I was pleased to see Manuel leave Santana in even when he got into trouble. This was Santana's game to win or lose. Nobody was going to take it from him.

The irony of Santana's 6-5 record at the break is it's the same record he had when he won his last Cy Young Award. It's true. Santana has always been a second half pitcher and I'm hoping and praying that he proves to be just that again this year. Santana's success not only helps the Mets win ball games, but it also takes pressure off of Pelfrey to be the #1 guy in the rotation.

The Mets still need to add another starting pitcher, but at least there's a new found hope in Santana that he can continue to be the ultimate competitor that we know he is.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Johan Santana Is in a Rare Position

Johan Santana will take the mound tonight and be in a position he hasn't found himself in for a long time. He's fighting to stay above .500. He's trying to stay relevant. He for the first time in ages needs to prove he's the best pitcher in the rotation.

All of these questions and more are on the line tonight. Man, do I sound melodramatic or what? But in all honesty the drama is warranted. Santana has lost his mojo. It was bound to happen sooner or later, but it's disappointing to find that it's been sooner rather than later. Santana needs a dominant start if for nothing else than to shut everyone up.

I'm dying for Santana to go out there and just dominate. I don't want to hear about lack of run support. I want him to leave no question in our minds that Santana has still got it, and is able to be the #1 starter this team needs him to be.

So what happens if Santana goes out there and gives up another grand slam or has one of his infamous implosion innings? The sad answer is pretty much nothing. It's business as usual. We've come to not be surprised when Santana crumbles.

That's not the way it's supposed to be. Tonight is the night for Santana to change our minds. If not now, then when?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Statistics Prove the Fall of KRod has put together a statistical analysis of the fall of KRod (hence making him Pray Rod). Hitters are batting an unbelievable .340 on balls in play, meaning that basically anytime a ball is hit that's in fair territory KRod is getting tagged.

The article goes on to show his velocity is down 4-5 mph and his control is off as well. The analysis is saddening, but it's a truth the Mets have to address. See the chart below for more.

KRod - Last 5 Seasons

06 07 08 09 10
In zone pct 48.9 46.7 48.0 48.7 52.0
Miss pct 32.3 34.4 31.6 30.1 29.1
BB pct 9.5 12.2 12.0 12.9 9.1
BABIP .288 .301 .303 .256 .340

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Mets Have a Problem and His Name is Pray Rod

A 3 run lead in the 8th inning against the perennial bottom dwelling Nationals should be enough to seal a win for the Mets, but that was not the case on Saturday afternoon.

RA Dickey outpitched universal phenom Stephen Strasburg,but has absolutely nothing to show for it. Parnell gave up what appeared to be a harmless run to make it a 5-3 game only to have Pray Rod enter victoriously in the 9th to blow it.

Pray Rod was in mid season form out there walking the first batter he faced on 4 pitches and proceed through the inning without any semblance of control. The crazy thing is a 2 run lead with your closer should make you feel pretty good about your chances of winning. Not so much with Pray Rod. He has an uncanny ability to make the most comfortable of margins appear slim. He appears to be bouncing his fastball at least once an appearance and hangs his offspeed pitches high in the zone.

In summary, he's becoming worthless. Tell me what Pray Rod offers that Parnell, Feliciano, Dessens or Igarashi don't? What makes Pray Rod so worthy to be the Mets closer? Nothing.

But his contract, his career and his attitude make him the de facto option and thus he continues the Mets long history of closers who have a knack of crumbling when you need them most.

Jerry Manuel keeps whining about the Mets need for an 8th inning guy. Jerry, maybe the problem isn't the 8th inning. The Mets now have 10 walkoff losses on the season. Do the math Jerry.

But for now Mets fans, get on your knees and pray when #75 enters the game. It's our only hope for a favorable outcome.

Why Do the Nats and Marlins Give the Mets So Much Trouble?

The Marlins and Nationals have a knack for giving the Mets fits. Over the last three seasons, no two teams have caused the Mets more pain than this bottom dwelling duo. They're not great teams. Their pitching is marginal. Their lineup is far from fearsome. But last night again the Nats proved they can be a serious thorn in the Mets side.


Is it it because they're a rival in the NL East? Is it because the Mets take them for granted? Is it because they have such a hardcore fan base? Ok, that last one was ridiculous.

In my humble opinion, it's none of those things. It's a mental issue. The Mets have proven they can easily handle bad teams like what they did against the O's and Indians and Cubs earlier this year. For some reason the Mets have a mental block when it comes to playing the Nats and Marlins...on the road. At Citi Field the results have been different, but playing these rivals on the road makes the Mets a different team.

The Mets have to overcome this in 2010 to make a run in the NL East. The Nats and Fish were the main hurdles that uttered the Mets demise the last two weeks of the season in both '07 and '08. It's not an issue of talent because the Mets roster is superior to both of these squads, but the Mets need to fortify their minds and prove to themselves they can handle these teams on the road.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

For David Wright It's June 31st

I lost faith in David Wright. During the offseason after last year's dismal performance I was down on the guy. I thought the Wright we saw in 2006 would never return, but this June my faith has been restored.

David Wright is proving to be the talent we all thought he was before the dark cloud of 2009 rolled in and blurred our vision. In the month of June, Wright has been unstoppable raising his average over .310 and setting a personal best for RBIs in a month while leading the National League in RBIs. and tied for 6th in average.

But today is July 1st. June has been so fantastic for Wright that he should just throw his calendar out. On the one hand this will let us see if the Wright of June is here to stay. On the other a serious drop in production in July could send Wright back into his "2 weeks on/2 weeks off" funk that we've seen over the past two seasons.

This team is much more enjoyable too watch when David Wright is at his best. Not to mention they tend to win a whole lot more games too.

So welcome Mr. Wright to June 31st.

To help David Wright make the All Star team, click here to vote.