Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why Do the Mets Hate Chris Schwinden?

I feel bad for Chris Schwinden. He's been awful. Terrible. Horrendous. Atrocious. And about 100 other adjectives. So why do the Mets insist on trotting him out to the mound again and again.

If his first few stints as a starting pitcher were any evidence, even to a blind man, it's that Schwinden is not major league ready. He might never be, but then again maybe he will someday. So why do the Mets send him down to the minors after being demolished as a starter only to bring him back up as a reliever where he'll be put in even worse situations? Makes no sense.

Now of course Schwinden is likely to be sent down again and deservedly so. But all the Mets have done with this young pitcher is completely crush his confidence and give him zero chance of success. Now that he has an ERA that's higher than the speed of his fastball, do you think the Mets will bring him up yet again? I certainly hope not.

Do you mean to tell me there was no other arm they could have brought up instead of Schwinden and allowed him to work on his pitches in the minors, possibly have some success and feel good about his future instead of thrusting him back into the eye of the storm just weeks after he completely crumbled? I don't believe it.

The Mets seem to like to mess with the heads of their minor leaguers every so often. Just ask Nick Evans.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ruben Tejada Might Be More Valuable Than You Thought

David Wright is clearly the MVP of this team. You want to argue Santana or Dickey? That's fine. But let's stick to every day players. After Wright though, the most valuable asset the Mets have is currently on the disabled list. I'm talking about Ruben Tejada.

Tejada was having a great season before his fluke injury sidelined him for the last month, but his absence has shown just how much the Mets need him in the lineup every day.

He gives the Mets a reliable lead off hitter. I'm not suggesting Tejada is the best lead off man in the NL East or anything like that but look at how many different people have batted lead off since Tejada went out. You have Baxter, Kirk, Turner, Cedeno and others. Whenever Collins puts a new lead off man in there it messes with the rest of the lineup. When Tejada is playing you know he can bat lead off and then everyone else can fall into their normal batting slot.

The same thing happens in the field as Tejada is the linchpin of that infield. With him out, it's a carousel out there. Cedeno, Wright, Turner & Valdespin have all played short in his absence and it effects Murphy's progress at 2nd base as he doesn't have that familiar and reliable man to his right that he can develop a rythmn with on double plays and covering a runner stealing a base.

Tejada also has great plate discipline to work counts. He can be relied upon to bunt. And although he hasn't done much of it this year so far, he's one of the few options the Mets have to try and steal a base if they need it.

When you put all this together and look at the other everyday players the Mets have, outside of David Wright and possibly Daniel Murphy there isn't another Met who's as integral to the whole ball club as Ruben Tejada.

We need him back more than you might think.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Home Stand with Implications

The Mets have played the majority of their games up to this point in the season away from  home. In fact they've played more away games than most any other team in the National League.  The amazing part is they currently sit 4 games above .500.

Think about that.

When I look at the Mets record I think about all the "almost wins" they've had where Francisco has blown the save or they tied up the game but couldn't take the lead late. There are at least 5 or 6 of those games so far that could have gone either way. Stop thinking about those games and think about this instead:

  • The Mets have started 4 guys consistently over the last 3 weeks that weren't in the opening day lineup.
  • They are playing without Thole & Tejada who were integral parts of the Mets great early start
  • Ike Davis is hitting below .200 and yet the team is still winning
  • RA Dickey is having a Cy Young year
  • The majority of their wins have come against NL East teams
The Mets are in very, very good shape considering all the factors. And so here comes an 11 game home stand with serious implications. The Mets face some decent teams and if they can take advantage of playing at home, we may just see the Mets make some serious headway in the standings and put themselves in solid position for the coming months. 

Just think about this: an 8-3 home stand would put the Mets 9 games over .500. We haven't seen that in years. The Padres are a team the Mets have to sweep as the Phils & Cards follow which will be competitive series. In the past there's been a lack of dominance at home. That needs to change not just for W's but to put people in the seats as well.

The Mets are in a very good place, but there's got to be a desire for me. And it starts at Citi Field tonight.

Let's go Mets!

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Many Names of David Wright

David Wright is now a seasoned veteran. Hard to believe as he still has the same boyish looks as when he joined the club during the Willie Randolph era. Throughout his time with the Mets, Wright has been called many things. He's been deemed Mr. Wrong, Failure, Over-hyped, Under-Performing, Trade Bait, and a Non-Leader.

Those names, whether just or unjust, are all part of being the face of the Mets. While Wright cut his teeth in the league surrounded by the likes of Beltran, Delgado, Reyes, Pedro, Glavine and Wagner, he was always the center of the Mets attention. It could have been the hype surrounding him as a minor leaguer who grew up watching the Mets. It could be that he's the perfect marketing figure the Mets have lacked for so long.

Whatever it is, the 2012 version of David Wright deserves a new name. He can be called Mr. Wright, All Star, Slugger, Mr. Clutch, The New Franchise, Roy Hobbs Jr., MVP, the Slender Slugger, Baby Face Assassin, Prince of NY, Hitman, Batman, or Fantasy Phenom.

Any of those titles will do, but the one that speaks the loudest to me is "leader." The media and Mets fans alike have been focused on how can Wright be a leader in the clubhouse. Can he step into that role? Is he the type of guy that can gain the respect of his players?

Any athlete can tell you that leadership has less to do with the verbal and more to do with the performance on the field. To that point, Wright is a four star general out there this season. With his bat. With his glove. With the way he goes about business.

He doesn't need a "C" on his jersey to show that he's the captain.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Big Inning Nemesis

The Mets pitching staff can't seem to just let up one run. They don't blow games with a single RBI. Instead they open the flood gates for the opposing offense.

Wednesday's loss marked the 16th time the Mets have given up 3 or more runs in an inning and ended up losing the game. That's 16 out of 17 losses with the one exception being a 2-1 loss to the Nationals.

It's time to admit this is a serious problem. It basically means that no lead is safe...ever. A 3-run lead in the 9th inning should be a lock regardless of the closer, but this habit is making any game have the potential of becoming a loss.

Starters and relievers alike are guilty of this and Dan Warthen has to be aware of this. Whether it means going out to the mound after 1 run is scored or pulling relievers after walking the leadoff batter or whatever the case may be the Mets need to do something about it soon to break this big inning trend.

The comeback kids make for exciting baseball, but at some point the inability to have a comfortable lead will wear these young players down.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The 7 Line: Kirk Nieuwenhuis T-Shirt

When I saw this design from the fantastic designers at The 7 Line, I literally laughed out loud. Google now knows when I start to type "Kirk N..." to just serve up "Kirk Nieuwenhuis" because I have to look up his name every time I blog about him.

Head on over to The 7 Line and check out the shirt below as well as their collection of incredibly designed Mets fare.Also follow on Twitter at @the7line. Let's go Mets!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Unexpected Mets

Everything is not going right for the Mets. Tejada who was off to a great start is injured. Thole who is off to a great start is injured. Pelfrey who looked solid is done for the year. Miguel Batista has somehow found his way into the starting rotation. The bullpen has let up more runs than the Mets have scored. Ike Davis is batting below the Mendoza line. Jason Bay is out. Justin Turner is playing shortstop. The Mets' schedule is the toughest in baseball to this point. And the Mets are playing 4 guys on a regular basis who had never started for major league team in any capacity up to this point.

Oh yeah and they just swept the Philadelphia.

This is bizarre. It's remarkable, amazing and I'm loving every second of it, but it's still baffling. How on earth are the Mets doing it? You can make an argument that they are the scrappiest team in the National League right now, but they're pitching is far from top notch.

The key has been 2 out hitting. The Mets are batting .289 with 2 outs and runners in scoring position after last year not being able to scratch past .200. Call it clutch. Call it timely. Whatever you call it, the result is winning baseball.

When the Mets finally do get some consistent outings out of their pitchers and Ike Davis finally turns things around, some even more amazing things can happen. Winning 5 out of 6 from the Phillies in Philadelphia in the first month of the season is beyond unexpected, but there's hope that more of this type of play is yet to come.

It's apparent that the Mets are making believers out of skeptics. I love the headline from Justice4U blog that reads: "If you don't like the 2012 Mets, you don't like ice cream."

I do love my ice cream. Let's go Mets!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Link: Mets Are a Likeable Bunch

...Ken Davidoff writes a nice piece on how this team is different from past Mets teams. He hints at waiting for the second half demise which has been the Mets MO the last few years but the vibe from this group of youngsters gives hope that things are changing. below to the full article.

New York Mets, who scored a come-from-behind 7-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies Tuesday night, are finding different ways to win and are fun to watch, Ken Davidoff says -

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Overlooked David Wright

Jordany Valdespin made a statement last night with his first major league at bat being a monstrous one to propel the Mets to an unexpected 5-2 win over the Phillies when Roy Halladay was the starter.

While Valdespin will get most of the attention today, don't overlook just how big David Wright has been playing. His game-tying 2-run double is what changed this game. Oh and did I mention he hit it off of Roy Halladay...with 2 outs.

David Wright has been uncharacteristically clutch. The 2011 Wright would have gotten down 0-2 and then struck out on a fastball low and away. The old Wright would have cowered in these types of moments, but not this year. Wright has provided nothing but stellar performance and has come through whenever the Mets have desperately needed him.

Through last night, Wright is still batting an unthinkable .374 with a .482 OBP. I expect these numbers to eventually dip a little, but Wrigth looks like a different man out there than what we've seen in the past.

Maybe it's maturity. Maybe it's the hitting coach. Or maybe it's just the Wright time.

In any case, Wright should not be overlooked. He's off to an amazing start and was the catalyst for a great win over the rival Phils.

Great win for the Mets and much needed as well as the Harbinger of Losing, Miguel Batista, unfortunately starts tonight.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Mets and the Curse of the Big Inning

The Harry Potter-esque structure of the title of this post is far from a fantasy. In fact it's a painful reality that the Mets need to deal with.

The Mets currently have a record of 13-12 after a painful end to their road trip which concluded with getting swept by the meager Astros. But the most significant stat of the season so far is that in 11 of the 12 losses the Mets have this season Mets pitchers have given up 3 or more runs in one inning.

Mets pitching is cursed by the big inning.

The only exception was the second loss of the season against the Nationals where 1 run was scored in the 2nd inning and then in each of the last 3 innings. These big innings have as much to do with mental toughness as they do with making the right pitches.

RA Dickey has been victim to the big inning, mostly by giving up a 3-run home run which has to do with not making the right pitch. Chris Schwinden, Manny Acosta and Miguel Batista on the other hand have experienced innings where when one run scores they just lose control and see the flood gates open.

The Big Inning affects starters and relievers alike and it puts this young lineup in a precarious position especially when they're down early like they were constantly in the Houston series. When you find yourself down 3-0 in the 2nd inning, hitters tend to press a bit more and they don't play loose. Then any additional run scored just buries the team a bit more.

This is a major problem that has to be addressed by Collins and his staff. The Mets can't afford to have Big Innings against them this often. I understand that it's bound to happen every once in a while but when it occurs this often, it's an issue that has to be dealt with.

Even in 4 of the Mets wins, pitchers have given up 3 or more runs in an inning. Before it becomes an epidemic that cripples the psyche of this team and adds more digits to the loss column, the Mets need to face the reality that their pitcher's problems are producing staggering results.