Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Mets Kids Can Be Clutch

I watched all of 15 minutes of last night's game, but the portion I did see made me smile. As I turned on the game around 9:30 last night, I caught the bottom of the 9th inning where the Mets were down by a run against the Brewers. What I saw was hope.

There's Ike Davis standing on second base representing the tying run. Here comes Josh Thole who fights off an inside fastball to bloop one down the 3rd base line. 1st and 3rd with one out. Now the Mets realist in me sees Ruben Tejada coming up to bat and is thinking, double play.

Tejada has had a season long affair with the Mendoza line and is potentially the last person in the Mets lineup/bench/organization that you would want up in a clutch situation. Forget about the Mets being out of contention and it's the last week of the season. For a 21-year old in his first year at the big league level, he can feel the pressure.

The most impressive thing that Tejada did was swing at the first pitch. Normally in this type of situation, a hitter takes a strike. No need to hit a ground ball to the shortstop on the first pitch and end the game in one swing. But Tejada actually was thinking. Here he is, the worst hitter in the Mets lineup, facing a predominantly fastball pitcher. Chances are he's going to throw a heater on the first pitch.

Tejada made the right choice clocking a fastball to the gap in left center field. Game over. Mets win. Tejada's reaction to his heroics may have been the most surprising. He calmly clapped in celebration and without any theatrics started to walk off the field. His teammates stopped his subtle exit by pounding him with joyous shots and I just couldn't help but feeling happy for this kid.

I'm not ready to anoint Tejada or Thole as the future saviors of the franchise. I believe Ike Davis will be a solid player for years to come, but it was a rare moment in an all together disappointing season to be able to enjoy baseball at its purest. Three rookies, without bloated heads and attitudes, getting the chance to come through for their team in the Big Apple.

It's a rare sight. Glad I got a chance to catch it because you never know when you'll see it again.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Link: Jerry, What Went Wrong?

...another great post from Brad at Bugs and Cranks who writes what could be considered Jerry Manuel's Mets eulogy.

...my favorite line is: "Now, we all know that the Mets always lead the league in failed execution, which is why Manuel is destined to soon meet Willie Randolph’s fate…albeit during daylight hours."

Click below to read the full post:
Bugs & Cranks � Jerry, What Went Wrong?

Link: NY Times Agrees with Mets Lifer about Beltran

...here's a link to a good article in the New York Times today about the recent resurgence of Carlos Beltran's bat and how that may impact what the Mets plans are for next year.

Beltran Starts Hitting, Giving the Mets Some Options - NYTimes.com

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Link: Who's the Mets Closer in 2011?

...very good post from TedQuarters.net about the drama of KRod and the impending question of who the Mets will have as a closer next season.

...if KRod isn't incarcerated, I'm willing to give him another go at it because honestly the other options aren't advantageous. Takahasi is a stop gap. Parnell, in my opinion, throws hard but has the makings of another Armando Benitez

Check out the full article at the link below:
So who’s gonna be the Mets’ closer next year? | Tedquarters

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mets Elimination Champs T-Shirt

...from readtheapple.com

Reader Reaction to Trading Beltran Would Be Stupid

I've had a few fellow Mets Lifers react to yesterday's post on Trading Beltran Would Be Stupid. Some disagree, but the majority of people are in agreement that Beltran is primed for a monster year.

One excellent point was made that I neglected to add to my argument for keeping Beltran. I got one email from a Mets fan that said:

However, one more wrinkle needs to be added to your argument of not trading Beltran. We all agree do not trade him in 2011– HOWEVER, the Mets absolutely cannot get suckered into another 4 year deal beginning in 2012. As soon as next year is over, let him hit the open market and become someone else’s problem. 
A typical Mets scenario would be the top brass to think he’s back because of a strong 2011 and reward him with a new deal. 
That is spot on. Typical Mets would see Beltran have a good year and then lock him up for 4 more. The Mets have to approach Beltran as a simple stop gap solution and then be ready to move on after the 2011 season. Anything else would just be stupid.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Trading Beltran Would Be Stupid

The Mets are always good for a stupid deal every other year. Or maybe every year for that matter. But the dumbest move of this coming off season would be to trade Carlos Beltran.

Carlos Beltran is entering the coveted walk year of his contract and is at a pivotal point in his career where he has the opportunity to get one more decent contract before he gets put out to pasture. If there was ever a year that Beltran would be motivated, focused and totally in shape, it's next season.

We've even seen flashes of this over the last week or so as Beltran's slowly gotten into the baseball swing of things and is swinging the bat, running and covering ground in the outfield like he used to. Now he will never have the same jump on the ball like he used to wearing that mammoth brace, and I do believe that Angel Pagan should be the starting center fielder, but Beltran can contribute next year.

Plus who do the Mets have to replace him? Do they honestly believe they can upgrade from Beltran via a trade? Fernando Martinez is not exactly knocking our socks off. If Beltran goes you've got a choice between Chris Carter, Nick Evans, Lucas Duda, FMart or trying to trade/sign someone.

The only possible reason I'd trade Beltran is if I knew I was going to lock up Carl Crawford via free agency. However, I think the Mets money would be better spent on starting pitching, namely a #1 starter, than on another outfielder. There are also greater needs at second base or catcher than in center.

If the Mets trade Beltran, I predict he'll hit 29 home runs and drive in just over 100 RBIs for whomever he's traded to. And what will we get in return? Sure it frees up cap space, but you will have a gaping hole in your lineup unless you shell out more money for superior talent.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mets Say Farewell to Lex Luthor

You may call him Lex Luthor. You can call him the bane of the Mets existense. Call him nemesis, castigator, or scourge. Or you can just call him Bobby Cox.

The most consistent manager in baseball left the Mets home field in a familiar way...as victor. Bobby Cox owes much of his success to the New York Mets. His sheer dominance of the Flushing follies has given the Braves numerous victories and helped seal division titles. In fact this most recent visit to Queens may have kept Cox's hope for one final swan song title in tact as the Mets bowed a knee to the real king of New York.

Sure Cox has had Chipper Jones, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, and cast of others to help him make the Braves a perennial contender, but I have to believe that the way he manages a team and handles his players has led to that stunning stretch of NL East titles and made the Braves relevant without many losing seasons like the Mets have had during his tenure.

I have to wonder what things would be like if the Mets had Bobby Cox. If there was ever a time the Mets needed a strong hand at the helm, it's now, but Cox was made for Atlanta. I can't imagine him in another uniform even though he's coached for others.

I can't say I'm sad to see him go. You can take that Larry fella with you.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Can You Live With This Mets Lineup in 2011?

The off season is almost here and it's one of my favorite times of year as I take on a second job of becoming a virtual Mets general manager. It's an unpaid role, but I consider it to be an unwanted charitable cause that I feel compelled to undertake.

Chances are the Mets will look to pinch pennies and we shouldn't expect them to go out and make multiple big signings to improve this team. If I had to choose between pitching or hitting, I'd want the Mets to focus on a starting pitcher. A Cliff Lee. A Felix Hernandez. Some type of #1 starter that can lock up this Mets rotation.

Bullpen help would be great, but I think almost every team outside of the Padres could use some form of bullpen help. But that leaves the Mets lineup to potentially be as follows if they don't make another signing:

1. Jose Reyes-SS
2. Angel Pagan-RF
3. Carlos Beltran-CF
4. David Wright-3B
5. Ike Davis-1B
6. Jason Bay -LF
7. Josh Thole-C
8. Luis Hernandez/Ruben Tejada/Luis Castillo/Daniel Murphy-2B

The big question lies with second base. Can the Mets unload Castillo? Will Tejada be another Rey Ordonez? Can Daniel Murphy play and hit at second base? If the Mets end up with a Castillo/Tejada platoon, that's a very light hitting option at second base with potentially only one home run tallied between the two of them.

Couple that with Josh Thole as your potential starting backstop and you may only get 5 or 6 home runs for a season out of your catcher and second basemen. That's not a good thing.

The focus has to be pitching. I had been campaigning for Roy Halladay the last two season to no avail, but whether it's Cliff Lee or someone else the Mets absolutely need a #1 starter. Even so the power outage at catcher and second base could be a serious issue. Second baseman, outside of Dan Uggla and Brandon Phillips, aren't known for their home run hitting talent, but you can't have that huge of a drought from both your catcher and middle infielder.

Lots of questions need to be answered. What's your comfort level with the lineup listed above?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Link: Mets Should Hire Lee Mazilli

The ultimate anti-Mets columnist, Bill Madden, chimes in with his take on the Mets managing situation. He says Bobby Valentine is too expensive, Mets brass doesn't like Wally Backman's inexperience, so instead the team should turn to Lee Mazilli.

Not sure what to think of Mazilli. I think he deserves better than just be a 1 or 2 year stop gap, but I'm not confident he's necessarily the type of guy this team needs.

Read Madden's full article at the link below:
To bring winning back to Queens, Mets should hire Kevin Towers and Lee Mazzilli to clean up the mess

Link: Dickey Top 10 in Quality Start

Our friends at Metzilla highlight the fact that R.A. Dickey is now ranked in the top 10 in quality start percentage among NL pitchers.

What else is there to say about R.A. Dickey? He's been unbelievable. The Mets would have been in dire straits back in June had they not had Dickey. While part of me wonders if he's a one hit wonder I think the Mets need to sign him up for at least another season or two.

For more details on Dickey's stats, check out the post on Metszilla at the link below:
Dickey Top 10 in Quality Start % Metszilla

Are You Watching Mets Baseball?

Last night I found myself watching more of the Mets game on my MLB phone app than on SNY. With the minor leaguers now in the majors and a Mets lineup that consists of Luca Duda, Luis Hernandez and regular intervals of Pat Misch, does anyone care to watch Mets baseball anymore?

Evidently no one wants to watch in person as attendance has plummeted faster than the economy. I talked to a few fellow Mets fans who all responded that they don't watch regularly, but rather flip to the game from time to time when nothing else is on.

That's what Mets baseball has become. Glorified channel surfing. For two straight Septembers, Mets baseball has become almost unwatchable. I want to take some joy in winning three straight games, but when it comes at the expense of the dismal Pirates I can't bring myself to wallow in team pride.

Last week the Mets had 3 batters in their starting lineup who were hitting below .200. That's Mets baseball.

Let the kids play out the year. See what we have potentially for future talent or trade bait. But don't expect me to watch religiously. Maybe a lack of eyeballs will affect the wallets of Mets brass enough to make a change.

Probably not though.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Link: Good Riddance

Our friend Brad at Bugs and Cranks is at it again. Nice little diddy on the less than time of our lives that has been the 2010 Mets campaign. Check it out at the link below.

Bugs & Cranks � Good Riddance (We Wish We Had the Time of Our Lives)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

10 Years Later Still Remembering 9/11

Every year I plan on writing a post about 9/11 and how baseball was one of the binding elements in the New York area after the horrible events on that September morning. But each year, I go back and read a post from Brad at Bugs and Cranks and realize I don't need to say anything else because this post is almost a mirror of my point of view.

Last year I was fortunate enough to get an autographed photo of that famed Mike Piazza home run swing during that first game after 9/11. It's in my office and is a constant reminder of how huge that moment was not just for a Mets fan or a baseball fan but for New York as a whole.

So as we all reflect on what this day has come to mean, I hope you will take a look at Brad's post.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Link: Johan Santana to have Season-Ending Surgery

via MetsBlog.com

I guess it's better to shut him down now, but back to back season ending injuries doesn't bode well for fan confidence.

Johan Santana to have Season-Ending Surgery | MetsBlog.com

Mets Gazette: A Five Step Plan 2011

An interesting post from Mets Gazette on what they think the Mets need to do for the 2011 campaign. I'm torn with a number of their points though.

I agree the Mets should add a #2 starter and if that means trading Pelfrey to do so, I'm ok with that. I also agree that the Mets should hold onto Beltran for the final year of his contract. You know how contract years can impact a player's performance.

What I don't agree with is starting Pagan in right field. Unless Beltran magically heals, he doesn't have the closing speed he once did. Center is Pagan's position to have and I'd move Beltran to right. I'm also not sold on the concept of platooning Tejada and Murphy at second. Because I feel bad for the guy, I'd like to give Murphy a shot to prove himself and unless Tejada shows me he can hit above .200 the last thing the Mets need is another automatic out in the lineup.

Check out the full list and the nice write up on Mets Gazette at the link below:
Mets Gazette: A Five Step Plan For Success In 2011

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Link: R.A. Dickey continues stellar season

Here's a link to a recap of today's win against the Nats down in Washington. If RA Dickey isn't the comeback player of the year I don't know who is.

If he can just learn to avoid the home run balls, he'd have at least two more wins. The question this offseason will be if Dickey is a one hit wonder or has he found his second life? Only time will tell.

NY Daily News: R.A. Dickey continues stellar season for New York Mets, shuts down Washington Nationals for 10th win

Don't Short Sell David Wright

With the Mets now playing Triple A talent on a regular basis, it's time to do what every Mets Lifer does best: play armchair GM. Who should the Mets trade? What talent should the Met hold onto? And who on earth can we trick into taking Oliver Perez?

And of course it's time the annual "break up the core" discussion to begin. Trade Reyes. Trade Beltran. Trade Wright. No stone should be unturned and the Mets should listen to every offer that's out there, but we shouldn't be so quick to be rid of David Wright.

Wright is having a pretty good season right now batting .292 and is on pace for about 28 home runs and 100+ RBI. Some of his numbers are below his career averages and his MVP-esque years in 2007 and 2008. The thing to remember about Wright is he excelled in those '07 and '08 campaigns because of the other bats in the lineup he had around him. Pitchers had to deal with Delgado and Beltran when they were still threats in the lineup.

Look at what Wright has had around him the past two seasons...pretty much nobody. Beltran is a shadow of his former self. Ike Davis, while he hits massive home runs, is still just a rookie. Bay is as threatening as a baby kitten. And for the rest of the year, Wright will be flanked by the likes of Luca Duda, Nick Evans, Chris Carter and Josh Thole.

Wright has had his struggles in clutch situations and he's become exceptionally streaky. There's no denying that, but his body of work is still a great value to the Mets. He's trying to be the leader in the clubhouse. He's the one guy that's out there day in and day out even while his other stars have faded around him.

Wright will never be Albert Pujols. He'll never be an Alex Rodriguez type of talent. That's what we expected of him. We all bought into the hope and hype that this guy would be arguable one of the greatest Mets we've ever seen. But if he's not the greatest Met, he's still a really good player. He's probably the best guy to every play third base for this organization.

I'm fairly confident that if Bay turns things around next year and Beltran is inspired by the thoughts of a contract year and provides some other threats in the Mets lineup, we will see David Wright return to those '07 and '08 numbers.

But if that doesn't happen. He's an island unto himself in that lineup.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Done with the Good Guys

Over the last few seasons, there's been a lot of talk about the Mets needs for good clubhouse guys. That an improvement in personality would have a positive impact in the locker room. Veteran leaders that could change the spirit of the Mets.

Well, I'm officially done with the good guys.

The Mets had Alex Cora, Rod Barajas, Jeff Francoeur and Chris Carter in their locker room this year. Guys who anyone around baseball will tell you are solid, character guys. They hustle. They lead. They give their all out there on the field. To which I say so what?

These good guys have had zero impact on improving the Mets from last year. Sure they've all had "streaks" where they've performed well (except for Cora), but their overall body of work is less than acceptable. You root for them because you like who they are, but if you're being honest you should despise their performance on the field. See that? You were just going to defend Chris Carter or Jeff Francoeur. Look at their stats. Look at their body of work? Would you honestly rather have them on your team or Manny Ramirez as a corner outfielder?

Bring me the derelicts of society. Bring me the cocky whiners with swagger who can bat .300 and hit 40 home runs. We're not building leaders of tomorrow or a list of Supreme Court nominees. We want a winning baseball team.

I understand the need for balance in a clubhouse and personalities can make life miserable for other players. But do you know what makes things better 9 times out of 10? Winning. Lots of winning makes all the other ticky tack arguments that Mets fans and media have been harping for the last 4 years. When you're not winning you focus on every minute detail to come up with a cause for your current plight.

When you're winning, the focus stays on the field for the most part. You forgive the shortcomings and dysfunctions for the greater prize that awaits you.

After 4 years of disappointment, I'm ready to root for the bad guys.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Stick a Fork in the Mets

Much like this steak, the Mets season has been well done for quite some time. Welcome to another meaningless September. The second straight one for Mets fans and the 4th straight season that ends in disappointment.

The lack of performance from this club in a series that everyone deemed pivotal to the rest of the Mets 2010 campaign has come up Vern Troyer-esque short. The question is will there be any hope come April 2011?