Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Habit of Not Capitalizing

This has nothing to do with grammar and everything to do with anti-climax. The Mets were on a torrid hitting streak and used that to win 5 straight. They were 4 games over .500 and meaningful baseball appeared to be back.

But in typical Mets fashion they have found the nearest ditch for them to jump in and dig their way out. The Mets dropped two straight to the struggling and unimpressive Washington Nationals. I understand the Mets couldn't possibly keep up the offensive explosion of last week, but they seem to be in a pattern of following up great successes with plummeting failures.

Sunday's contest was a perfect example. One bad inning from Jon Niese gave the Nationals a 2-0 lead, but Scott Hairston, by himself, got the Mets to a 2-2 tie with 2 solo home runs including one in the top of the 9th.

So what do the Mets do the following half inning after a climactic comeback and a chance to win a series against a division rival? They do their best Tom Glavine impression and choke. Bringing Parnell into a tie game on the road in the bottom of the 9th was a stupid move. The guy is a few outings away from having Oliver Perez's mental strength and couldn't throw a strike. The Nationals were just inept to wave at a few of them.

Then you have Josh "King of the Pass Ball" Thole who couldn't catch the straightest fastball ever thrown because it was up in the zone which lead to runners on 2nd and 3rd  right after Daniel Murphy made a Hernandez-esque move to break up an attempted sacrifice bunt.

The pass ball ended up being the deciding play as the next pitch was chopped over Parnell's head into no-man's land allowing the runner to score. Game over.

The Mets are still above .500 but by only 2 games. I don't understand why this ballclub has such an inability to beat team's in their own division. It's becoming an epidemic and guess who's coming to town this week: Marlins & Braves.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beltran Trade Closes Another Mets Chapter

Carlos Beltran is headed to San Francisco. He'll do well there and I wish him the best, but his departure is the end of a particular era in Mets history. And come to think about it, it signals the start of another.

With the signing of Beltran 7 years ago, the Mets became relevant players again. He opened the door for some signings of other players like Carlos Delgado and Pedro Martinez. He was the start of the Mets attempt to buy a championship team.

There's no arguing that Beltran is the best center fielder to ever put on a Mets uniform, but you'd also be hard pressed to find as unloveable a superstar. One pitch will define his career as a Met for those who lived through it. Younger and future fans will look back on his stats and see just how amazing his career was, but those who saw it firsthand will be plagued with what could have been.

The Beltran trade is also the official beginning of the Sandy Alderson era. The name, Omar Minaya, is now officially forgotten as the bulk of his players have now left the Big Apple. So Alderson is establishing himself at the helm of this Mets franchise. No one said the Mets would be able to get the prospect they wanted, but Alderson did. Gone are the days of overpaying for mediocre players or not thinking about long term implications when making a mid-season trade. Here come the days of sound, rational thinking with a goal in mind.

Those days haven't been seen here in a while, and  I welcome them.

I wish Beltran success and I have a lingering feeling we are going to see him go on a tare a la his short stint with the Astros. Don't fret Mets fans. We must not sacrifice the future on the alter of the immediate. Words Minaya never understood, but Alderson appears to live by.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Frustration that is Daniel Murphy

Daniel Murphy is in the midst of a great season. He started off slow, but his recent hitting rampage has parked him in the top 10 in the National League in batting and is one of the Mets best hitters with runners in scoring position.

He's also the most frustrating player to watch. While Murphy has shown great discipline at the plate, he needs a serious time out for his play in the field. Murphy handles ground balls like their hand grenades. He may look more comfortable at the corner infield positions, but even Murphy makes David Wright look like a gold glover.

Murphy is also potentially the worst base runner I've seen in the last decade. The guy cannot grasp the fundamentals of being on base. He's been thrown out a third base more times than I can count. He's stealing bases in odd situations. He tries to take an extra base when Beltran or Wright or coming up next.

And don't even get me started on his attempted drag bunt the other night with no outs and Wright on second.

What is wrong with this boy? And why is it he only seems to hit well when others are injured? Two years ago was the same thing. Wright, Reyes and Beltran were all hurt and all of a sudden Murphy starts hitting .300?

He's an enigma. I can't question what he's doing at the plate. He's easily the hottest hitter in baseball since the middle of June and he has shown discipline in going the opposite way. But why can't he get the rest of his game on track? Is he the next Dave Kingman minus the home run power?

Daniel Murphy needs some training in the fundamentals. Maybe this comes with experience and age. For the meantime we have to live with his Magoo-esque blunder in the field and on the base paths because we certainly can't live without his bat right now.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What a Difference a Division Makes

As I listened to the start of last night's Mets/Reds game on the radio, I was shocked when the statement was made that the Reds and Mets had the same record, but the Reds were a mere 3 games out of first place. How is a .500 team that close to contention?

I don't pay too much attention to the NL Central. Normally it's the forgotten division where the Pirates, Brewers & Astros wallow in obscurity while the Cardinals normally have a decent team. But I looked and yes, Wayne & Howie were right. The Mets would be, as of today, 3.5 games out of first place in the NL Central.

Just bizarre. This got me to thinking about the whole restructuring of the divisions in baseball and how there is talk of realigning teams. Honestly, it doesn't matter. There's an ebb and flow to baseball where some teams are good for a while and then they're bad for a while. If you restructure solely based on location, that's one thing, but thinking that a restructure will add balance to baseball is short-sighted.

So while the Mets fade into mediocrity in the NL East, it appears the Reds will be contenders into August even at a sub .500 level. Where is justice?

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Seesaw Mets

This team is like riding on a seesaw. When something goes up, anothing thing must go down. A 6 game win streak must be followed by losing 8 out of 10. A slew of injuries unleashes an unexpected offensive onslaught from no-name players. The return of injured sluggers brings on horrendous pitching. The hope of a Wild Card hunt is followed up by a dose of the full reality that the 2011 Mets are all but finished.

The series against the Marlins showed just how much of a roller coaster ride this team is. Pelfrey's awful performance was matched with Wright's triumphant return and game winning theatrics. Then horrible pitching was teamed with a great offensive output only to lead to back to back losses.

This is the way the rest of the season will go. A few highs followed by a few lows followed get the picture. Beltran is about to go and I wouldn't be surprised if a few others will join him before August rolls around.

It signals the end of a meaningful season, but the hope is that the seesaw swings back the other way.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Annoyance that is Mike Francesa

I have grown up listening to WFAN in New York. I love the station and it's always the #1 spot on my car radio. However, I can't stand Mike Francesa.

When it was Mike & the Mad Dog (or the Jerk & the Fatman as Imus used to call them), I could deal with them. Chris Russo was good for a crazy rant and Mike would call him down. Both were total anti-Mets personalities so I did find it annoying that the most listened to drive time sports program in New York had guys that were totally against my favorite team.

But it's gotten worse.

With the Mad Dog off on satellite radio, Francesa has for the last few years been the lone voice during the largest block of sports programming on radio. The Mets hating continues and the "pope of sports" is left repeating himself for 5 hours a day, yet he continues to dominate sports radio. There really isn't an alternative

Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's just Mets fans that get annoyed by Mike "I Repeat Everything I Say 20 Times" Francesa. So I headed over to Facebook and asked my Yankee fan friends to chime in. Turns out they can't stand Francesa either.

Here are some of the comments I got when I asked if they found Francesa annoying & repetitive:
-Yes I do. Yes. He is anoying. Yes. He's repetitive. Yes I agree with you. Annoying. Yes.
-He is a nightmare - maddog was very valuable - he took up half of the broadcast whic was better than a whole broadcast of francesa...... He thinks he is the "all knowing" of sports...
-I think he's annoying, and his callers are bumbling morons!
-I just remember listening to him growing up and wanting to punch myself in the face
-yes, he's annoying... i used to think maddog was annoying, but i agree w Gary that he somehow made it bearable bc it wasn't just francesa droning on and on. As yankee fans, we have few options... Sterling and Waldman are the worst! i guess Kay is the lesser evil? sad.
So it's not just me and it's not just Mets fans. I will say this about Francesa - he does a good job with covering the NFL. But do we have to listen to him the other 8 months out of the year. Why isn't someone doing something about this?

Don't even get me started with that Mike'd up theme song...

P.S. I've loving Joe & Evan as his replacements while he's on vacation.

A Heaven Sent Home Run

...great ending to a great comeback. a much needed win before a scorcher today.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why Reyes is MVP

Jose Reyes returned to the Mets lineup Tuesday night. What a difference a day makes. The addition of Reyes completely changes the dynamic of the Mets team and their lineup. Just a day before the Mets trotted out what looked like the worst lineup in baseball. But add Reyes and all of a sudden mediocre becomes competitive.

How can one player make this much of a difference? It's the same thing that guys named Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman used to do. They get on base. They cause havoc. They create runs.

When you have someone you know you can slot in the lead off spot every single day, it allows the rest of your lineup to be a bit more robust. It let Collins move Pagan to the middle of the lineup, where he had success earlier this year. It makes Justin Turner in the #2 spot a better hitter as he sees a lot more fastballs. Simply, it makes the Mets a more dynamic team.

The Mets don't have this with Beltran. They don't have it with Wright either. Neither of those guys make enough of an impact in the lineup on their own like Reyes. Reyes' statistical successes this year are unmatched. At this point in the season, he is easily the National League MVP.

By the time October rolls around, Reyes may not be leading the league in hitting. He might be second in stolen bases, but he'll be close to the top in hits, doubles, triples and runs scored. But beyond the stats there is no player that is more valuable to their team than Reyes is to the Mets.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Saddest Story Ever: Jason Bay with runners in scoring position

...this is a real tearjerker. those who are easily depressed should not read.

Jason Bay with runners in scoring position |

Be Thankful the Worst Lineup in Baseball Won a Game

Sure losing a series to the rival Phils is disappointing, but did you actually expect this rag tag lineup to produce 20+ runs? The Mets trotted out what is arguably the worst lineup in baseball on Saturday and Sunday. No Beltran. No Reyes. No Wright. No Davis. Nobody. When Willie Harris is your #3 hitter, you know you've got problems.

Somehow the Mets were still able to score enough runs that they should have won both games on Saturday and Sunday. But errors and horrendous pitching doomed them to lose.

The Phillies have the best record in baseball. You can't be too disappointed. At least the Mets avoided a sweep and were able to entertain you with some late inning comebacks and unexpected offensive explosions. It's clear this is not the team the Mets wanted to put in front of their fans. It's time to accept things as they are until the injury plague is lifted.

We need Moses in the worst way.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Link: Mets Are About to Be Sent to Bed

...fantastic analogy by Brad Bortone of Bugs and Cranks in this post. he compares the Mets current above .500 record and lingering Wild Card hopes to the times as a kid when you got to stay up late because your parents had guests over.

...with the K-Rod trade and the rough schedule that awaits, it appears as if the kids (a.k.a. Mets) are about to be out of the picture.

...i'm not sure if they'll be as much of a wholesale departure of players as we originally thought, but it appears as if Sandy Alderson is ready for a blue light special the minute the teams dips below .500.

...for those optimists...since a 5-13 start, the Mets have been 9 games over .500. they would need to replicate that play and then some to overcome the Braves. Brad's full post at the link below:
Bugs & Cranks » And so it begins…

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

W2W4: Parnell's 2nd-half pitch

...great post from Mark Simon at ESPN New York on Bobby Parnell.

...while I love the unloading of K-Rod to prevent any monetary issues from holding the Mets back next season, Parnell is a serious step down from Rodriguez.

...Parnell is the only pitcher I know that can throw a 100 mph and make me nervous about getting pounded. He's inconsistent and I think has some confidence issues. But looks like Parnell will be given the opportunity to succeed or fail.

...the fan base's patience will be tested, especially if things get competitive in the Wild Card hunt.
W2W4: Parnell's 2nd-half pitch - Mets Blog - ESPN New York

Monday, July 11, 2011

Should the Mets Resign Beltran?

The first half of the season is over. The Mets are surprisingly above .500 and remain an interesting team to watch despite everything they've gone through. Think about it. The Mets have basically lost what many expected to be their four best players in Reyes, Wright, Davis and Santana. Jason Bay still underwhelms and the rag tag infield of minor leaguers is holding their own with a few daily errors thrown in for good measure.

But possibly the biggest surprise is Carlos Beltran. As the iron man of the Mets, Beltran has played virtually every game and showed that his legs are fine and his bat is still valuable. Beltran leads the Mets in every category that Jose Reyes doesn't. Beltran leads the team in homers, doubles, and RBIs and is virtually the only power threat in the Mets light hitting lineup.

While it was a foregone conclusion when the season began that Beltran would be traded by the end of July, the Mets quasi-competitive position makes that prediction a bit fuzzier. With Davis, Wright and Reyes still out for at least the next two weeks, the Mets can't trade Beltran and still be competitive. In fact, I think this begs the question should the Mets resign Beltran?

Money is a big issue for the ball club, but can the Mets get Beltran to sign a 2 year contract with an option for a third based on certain performance levels? If so, I think it might be the right move.

The Mets do not have an heir apparent for Beltran. Fernando Martinez was that guy, but he's proven to be more injury prone than Moises Alou. Duda is not the answer. Nick Evans isn't either. Jason Pridie is not an every day player. So the Mets would have to look at signing a free agent replacement if they wanted to maintain Beltran-like production from right field.

Beltran is a doubles machine which is a perfect fit for Citi Field. If Davis were healthy and Wright was in the lineup, I would bet that Beltran's numbers would see an increase as he would be getting some better pitches to hit. I don't believe the Mets would be able to get a better replacement on the free agent market or in their farm system so if the dollars can work out, why not sign Beltran?

Of course Scott Boras is his agent so that might be reason enough why a deal couldn't be made, but even if they can't sign Beltran, they can't trade him either. Nothing they would get in return would be worth it, and the team needs his bat to remain competitive.

I think Mets fandom has succeeded in the "don't trade Reyes" efforts. It's time to move our focus to Carlos Beltran. Possibly the most underappreciated Mets player of all time.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Clayton Kershaw is no Mike Pelfrey

It became fairly clear to me last night that the Dodgers young left, Clayton Kershaw, is no Mike Pelfrey. No, he isn't even close. I didn't see him lick his hand, lose his head or get off track at all in what was a stellar start.

Kershaw had me salivating at the thought of him in a Mets uniform. And even worse, he had me thinking this is what I thought Mike Pelfrey was going to be. At 23 years old, Kershaw is one of the best kept secrets in the National League. He's on an awful team and doesn't get the exposure that Lincecum or Cain got.

Mets fans once hoped that Pelfrey would be their version of a young stud pitcher. We're still waiting.

Monday, July 4, 2011

An Unexpected Comeback

The Mets were dead to rights Rivera on the mound with 2 outs and 2 strikes. The game is over.

But somehow the unexpected happened. The Mets season could have been done. Going 2 under .500 with a West coast road trip coming may have put theMets too far under to recover. But Ronnie Paulino came through against the greatest closer in history. The Mets showed patience at the plate. The bullpen held on. And the biggest surprise? Jason Bay came through in the clutch.

Losing 2 out of 3 at home is nothing to be happy about, but Sunday's win was an unbelievable comeback that hopefully this team can build on.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Problems at Home

And so the cycle continues. Win 3. Lose 2. Win 2. Lose 3. The Mets cannot get out of this rut. The worst of it is they cannot seem to win a series at home. Saturday was no different as the Mets gave up runs early and started scoring too late.

So the Mets are back to under .500 and yet again ruin the positives from a great roadtrip. Let's hope that at the least there is nothing wrong with Reyes or the end could come a lot sooner than you think.