Tuesday, July 31, 2012

There Are No Fans Like Mets Fans

If you see a bleary-eyed co-worker today, they're probably a Mets fan. If a friend of yours sounds a little sluggish, chances are he/she is a Mets Lifer. If you read a number of misspellings in this post or poor use of grammar, forgive me. I went to sleep around 2:30 a.m.thanks to my beloved Mets.

A West Coast road trip is taxing enough on the players, but the fans feel it as well. I'm not just talking about the late nights. It's the way the Mets play baseball that has the biggest effect.

The Mets played a horrendous game last night defensively despite great pitching from Jeremy Hefner but somehow came back to take the lead. Only to blow it. Only to take the lead. Only to almost blow it again with the final out being a fly ball on the warning track in dead center field.

But half the fun of last night was following my fellow Mets fans on Twitter as we all shared our sorrow, disgust, jubilation and anxiety together online. The same people I saw tweeting at 10 pm were still going strong at 2 a.m. The late night also brings out the wittiest of retorts and was the one thing that kept me from throwing my remote at Bobby Parnell.

Through thick and thin, fun and disappointment, the Mets fans seem to always be there. Hoping, praying and cheering for our New York team.

Let's go Mets!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

History Has Me Questioning Faith in Mets Future

Right now it feels like the Mets will not win another game all season. It's an overreaction. I realize they play the Padres again so there's at least one or two wins waiting, but in the span of 10 days the 2012 season has become a complete wash.

On Twitter I see a number of Mets fans talking about "staying positive" and "not booing" and "believing" and they are perfectly within their right to think that way. But to me, that's being overly Pollyanish. As a Mets fan for life I've earned the right to question the team, to be disgusted with certain player's performances and even boo if I feel like it. There are no mid-year reviews or performance assessments in Major League Baseball. No pay cuts for bad performance. The fans are the ones who act as judge and jury. And right now most of the Mets are guilty of being awful.

I read this morning on Metsblog.com about the plans for the future and how the front office has had their sights on 2014. This is all part of a master rebuilding plan. Well pardon me but I'm a doubting Thomas.

How many times over the last decade have we looked towards the future with promise? How many times have we been told a player is untouchable because in 3-4 years he will be the every day starter. Fernando Martinez. Lastings Milledge. Mike Pelfrey. Eddie Kunz. Just to name a few.

My grandfather had an old Portugese saying he like to remind us of. He would say, "Tomorrow, tomorrow.not today say all the lazy people." I'm not calling Sandy Alderson lazy, but I am saying that he's got a history of poor planning and scouting to contend with and it feels like we are sacrificing the present on the altar of the future.

And the future is not guaranteed.

So in the midst of a potential MVP season from David Wright and the rare opportunity to have a Cy Young winner in RA Dickey and even the potential for a playoff berth, the Mets have decided to not fill the holes in this team, even partially, to help make 2012 a winning season.

Yes, yes it's "early" in the season. You can tell me "they're only 6 back in the Wild Card" but let's be honest. This team is digging a hole that they are going to have to play .700 ball to crawl out of. And with no bullpen help, the insistence of playing a .180 average outfielder everyday, platooning a catcher who can't hit the broadside of a barn and 2 holes in the starting rotation make 2012 the year experts predicted it would be for the Mets.

Pandora's box was opened after the all star break. The last thing at the bottom of Pandora's box is hope. Apparently the Mets will wait until 2014 for that to come back.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

This is Year 5 of the BLOWpen

The following was written on this very blog in 2007, but might as well have been written today:
I swear these kinds of losses are ripping me up. I can only imagine what it must be like to walk around in that clubhouse as a member of that BLOWpen. If I'm a beat writer covering this team, I'm observing that vibe - the interaction, if any - and writing about that. Players will say all the right things, but you know deep down, it's killing them. It seems like any loss the Mets have, it's because of this BLOWpen. Today was the 27th BLOWN save of the year, holding true to their name, BLOWpen.
Sure...everyone will talk about missed opportunities to tack on runs, and no doubt, it hurts.... Fact is, every other baseball fan on the planet knows it, the BLOWpen just cannot get the job done. Period! That's why there is such an emphasis on this club to score any chance they get. Unfortunately, that's not the way baseball works. If teams get a hit JUST 4 times out of ten with RISP, those teams would be making history. Hitters get out 72% of the time, even less with runners on. The law of averages will tell you that pitchers win the battle more often than not. Unless, of course, you're the NY Mets' BLOWpen. Then, everybody gets a hit...

 Apparently nothing has changed in 5 years.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mets Are Right Where Sandy Alderson Wants Them

Free falling doesn't even begin to describe the current state of the Mets. Losers of 10 out of their last 11 and with back to back extra inning implosions by the illustrious BLOWpen have Mets fans feeling like they'll never see another win all season. Just 10 days ago the Mets were players in the pennant race and scrambling to see what moves the team could make to plug the holes in the current Mets rotation and lineup.

Sandy Alderson came out and firmly stated that the Mets would be buyers come the trade deadline. A move that was more for PR and ticket sales than anything else. Mr. Alderson wants nothing to do with buying at the trade deadline and the current slide has the Mets just where he wants them.

You see Sandy Alderson is a strategist. He doesn't think 1 move or 2 moves ahead. He's thinking 20 moves ahead and right now his eyes are set on 2013. A pennant race this year would mess with the master plan he has set. If he has to spend money or deal prospects this year, it will screw with his plans for next year.

The need for bullpen help has been evident since April. The overly left-handed lineup was also a blaring flaw in the makeup of the team for the last two months. But Mr. Alderson has done nothing. Sure you could argue that there weren't deals to be made or the Mets don't have the right pieces to offer, but I don't believe that.

Brett Myers could have been had for a song and a dance. The Yanks pulled Ichiro (not that I want him) from Seattle. There are a ton of moves that could have been made to help salvage this season. But nothing was done because Mr. Alderson (and maybe the Wilpons) wanted to be certain that the Mets wouldn't fall apart before spending any cash or dealing away precious prospects.

So for now Mets fans must wallow in the filth that has become this season. No bullpen help is seemingly on the way and with 2 starters now down for the foreseeable future, no rotation help is on its way either.

The Mets are standing pat and riding the year out. If a move is made this week or next I will be shocked unless it's one of the selling variety.

Next year is becoming the Flushing mantra. Like someone with affinity for abuse, Mets fans have to keep coming back to see if anything will change.

A BLOWpen problem has only been looming over us for the last 5 years. No need to rush.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Most Depressing Fact About the 2012 Mets

I'm such a downer. Sorry. It's just that type of week. With yet another down by a run-bullpen gives up more runs-almost come back-but don't type of game, I'm spent. I'm sitting there in a comatose state after the game with SNY on in the background when all of a sudden I find a way to get even more irate.

Chris Carlin states the following: through 91 games the 2012 Mets have the same exact record as the 2011 Mets.


This year just felt so much more promising. The youth. The starting pitching. The comebacks. But all it takes is an extended losing streak to snap you back to reality.

I don't want to believe this Mets team has teased us for the first 4 months of the season. I want to believe this team can make things interesting come September. I realize it's still relatively early and there's time to get back in the fight. But it sure doesn't feel like it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

BLOWpen Lessons Not Learned

I'm just a fan. A loyal Mets fan. I've played baseball. I've watched thousands of games. But I realize that I'm not a baseball expert. No surprise there, but what is surprising is how "baseball people" on the Mets still haven't learned their lesson.

Last night's embarrassingly awful loss to the Nationals after what was an incredible comeback in the 9th inning was riddled with moves the average Mets fan knows you shouldn't make. Here's my case:

Lesson #1 - Bobby Parnell is of Fragile Mind
He just blew a massive save attempt the other day. You cannot trot him back out in a pressure situation and expect him to overcome. He's not a closer. He's a guy with a real fast fastball and a decent curve, but he throws the ball ridiculously straight. Parnell's psyche is potentially shattered for another month. He can be the 8th inning guy, but as soon as trouble mounts he must be pulled because he doesn't have the mental fortitude to pitch out of it.

Lesson #2 - Tim Byrdak Cannot Pitch to Righties
Tim Byrdak is a great lefty specialist, but that's it. To bring him in to close out the game in the 10th is baffling as the first left handed batter that you knew wouldn't be pinch hit for wasn't scheduled to be up until the 4th batter in the inning. This isn't the first time we've seen this. Byrdak continues to get hit by righties. Let him face the lefties and be done. In order to face a lefty the Mets had to walk the bases loaded and we know what happened after that. Don't give me the old force at any base excuse. With the amount of walks this bullpen has given up I was certain Beato would have walked the winning run in instead of the wild pitch.

Lesson #3 - Leadoff Walks Kill
Leadoff walks are the harbinger of all bad innings. If a Mets reliever walks the leadoff batter, he must be pulled. It's all down hill from there.

Lesson #4 - The Mets Are Desperate for a BLOWpen Enema
This is a lesson that should have been learned 3 seasons ago. As bad as last night's loss was, did it really shock anyone? It hurt, but it wasn't surprising. No lead is safe and one additional pitcher won't solve the problem. I'm ready to bring up the entire bullpen of the Buffalo Bisons and give them a shot. Can they possibly be any worse than the worst bullpen in baseball?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Return of Jason Bay is a Conundrum for Mets

I've been looking for an excuse to use conundrum in a title and now I've found it. Jason Bay is the ultimate conundrum. The highest paid everyday player who produces the least. What do you do with him? Throw the "right-handed bat" argument out the window because it's stupid. These are professionals and if you're paid enough you should be able to hit lefties and righties.

As Jason Bay returns to the Mets tonight it opens up a bit of a Pandora's box with regards to the Mets outfield situation. Big Bucks Bay is going to play. You don't sign him for that money to have him ride the bench. A platoon is possible but even that causes issues.

Right now Kirk is not the same player he was in April. He's got growing pains and we all should have expected it, but with the Mets current skid and a huge series against the division leaders you have to think Terry Collins wants to put his best players out there.

All of a sudden the Mets have a very crowded outfield. Besides Kirk and Bay, you have Torres, Hairston, Duda, and Valdespin. Valdespin shouldn't be in the bigs unless he's going to play regularly. Torres is your only stolen base option except for maybe the aforementioned Valdespin. Duda has been your everyday right fielder since opening day, but Scott Hairston is potentially the best right handed bat you have after Wright.

Against lefties do you have Torres, Hairston & Bay and then against righties you have Valdespin, Kirk and Duda? It's possible but swapping out your entire outfield every other day seems idiotic.

If Bay produces....sorry I had to stop laughing...ok IF he produces, he'll play everyday and I expect Kirk & Torres to platoon. If Bay doesn't produce (and by produce I mean bat above .250), then the questions will start flying and Terry Collins will have to spin a wheel to figure out who to play each day.

Too many options is normally a good problem, but not when most of them are mediocre. A rejuvenated Bay would be a huge lift for the Mets and even allow them to avoid any trade talks for another hitter.

But how likely is that to happen?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mets Lessons Learned from Atlanta

Welcome to the second half of the baseball season. So far it's zero fun. Just a lot of pain, agony and horrendousness if you ask me. The debacle in Atlanta should give the Mets a few lessons they need to learn (preferably quickly) in order to keep their 2012 season in check. Here they are:

  1. The Mets BLOWpen is BLOWriffic: You thought the bullpen was bad. Now you definitely know it's not bad, it's atrocious. The Mets have leaned on starting pitching for the entire first half which is has allowed the BLOWpen to only be an issue once or twice a week at best. What we saw this weekend is if the starters struggle through 5 innings, the Mets have zero chance of holding or regaining a lead as this BLOWpen has more holes than a Dunkin Donuts. Something has to be done about it...now.
  2. This Offense Can Score Runs: Let's ignore the Ben Sheets Homecoming on Sunday. The first two games of the series the Mets averaged 6 runs per game. And David Wright went 0 for 5 on Saturday in which they scored 7 runs. The Mets have a way of getting guys to fill in when others are struggling. They've done it all season so it shouldn't be a surprise to see it continue. Sure it takes 5 hits to score 2 runs, but the run production with the Mets is solid even without a solid slugging bat in the middle of the lineup.
  3. The Braves Aren't Going Anywhere: The Nats are in first place but don't be shocked if Atlanta catches or passes them by the end of August. The lineup is solid 1 through 6 and they've got home run potential on their bench. Freddy Gonzalez isn't the most adept manager out there but he's got enough pieces to make a run during Chipper Jones' swan song.
  4. We Wish Bobby Parnell was Craig Kimbrel: A right handed pitcher who can reach triple digits, mix his fastball with off speed pitches and be the legitimate closer of the future. That's what we thought we had with Parnell but we're not even close when you see Craig Kimbrel. This kid is unreal. He hits every spot. Throws with authority and appears unflappable on the mound. I would trade Ruben Tejada and Matt Harvey for him right now if I could. Mark my words. He's going to dominate the Mets for the next 5 years or more.
  5. Never Take Ruben Tejada Out of Game on a Double Switch: Idiotic move of the month was made by temporary manager Bob Gerin on Saturday when he took Tejada out as part of a double switch and replace him Ronny Cedeno. I get that a double switch was necessary as the pitcher was due up in the following inning, but why take out the best defensive player in the entire franchise during a tight game? Oh and he just also happens to be your second best hitter after David Wright too. So of course a ball is hit to shortstop that might have been playable by Tejada. No guarantees but still every Mets fan was thinking the same thing when that ball was hit....Tejada would've had it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

2012 Mets Mid Year Review

In the business world you don't get letter grades, you get plunked into general categories of achievement. So instead of a Mets report card, here's my breakdown of the 2012 Mets as if they were up for their mid-year review. The categories are below expectations, meets expectations and exceeds expectations. We'll start with the underachievers.

Below Expectations

  • Jason Bay: This is saying something because I honestly had zero expectations for Bay this year and yet somehow he continues to disappoint. Booing him after he got a concussion may have been the low point for Mets fans this year, but we're sick of guys who play hard and don't really do anything. Last time I checked, playing hard and batting .200 still means you stink.
  • Mets catchers: Thole, Nickeas, etc. are all sub par. Thole is better at the plate than Nickeas, but that's not saying much. I still don't understand why teams don't try and steal a base every time someone gets on because it's apparent that Thole can't throw anyone out.
  • Justin Turner: He's had one great at bat this year, but otherwise he's only area of excellence is smashing whip cream into the faces of teammates.
  • Ike Davis: I had high hopes for Davis this year. I was thinking 30 HRs/100 RBI type of season. Even though he's turned it on a bit of late, the horrendous output in April, May and most of June left a huge gap in the Mets lineup. 
  • Daniel Murphy: I like Murphy. I want him to do well, but he's baffling at times. Surprisingly his defense isn't the issue. It's his inconsistency at the plate that's the question. You like Murphy because he can hit .300, but when he doesn't you wonder if you'd be better off with a different option. If he can't hit well, what does he really offer? 
Meets Expectations
  • The BLOWpen: Some people thought the Mets made improvements in the offseason to the perennial disappointment that has been the Mets bullpen. I wasn't one of them. The Mets bullpen boasts the highest bullpen ERA in the majors and continues to find ways to blow games. Business as usual.
  • Jon Niese: Sunday's debacle against the Cubs aside, Niese has become the pitcher we expected him to be. Not an All Star but a reliable left-handed option.
  • Andres Torres: Angel Pagan only shorter and older. Yup, that's Torres.
  • Lucas Duda: He's not impressive, but he's what we expected. Below average fielder who has some pop. You hope for more, but at least he's been more consistently productive than Ike Davis.
  • David Wright: You may think David Wright deserves to be in the exceeds expectations category, but I think Wright is showing us he's the player we all knew he was. He's in the top 5 in average and doubles. His fielding has been solid. He's in the top of the pack for MVP considerations at the midway point. That is what I expect from Wright year in and year out. All Star. MVP. Captain.
Exceeds Expectations
  • Ruben Tejada: Jose who? Tejada is beyond impressive. We always knew he'd be a great fielder, but his patience at the plate and how he's hitting for average is truly unexpected. In my wildest dreams I thought Tejada might hit .275, but he's batting well over .300 and is doing the little things like working counts and drawing walks that makes him so valuable at the top of the order. If he hadn't been hurt for a month, the Mets may have had a few more wins added to their total because of his defense and his offense.
  • R.A. Dickey & Johan Santana: Both of these guys have earned the right to be called the ace of the staff. Both are having years that we did not expect. Dickey's numbers are superior and has gotten him into the Cy Young discussion, but the fact that Santana has come back healthy and pitched consistently well is equally impressive. Plus throwing the first no-hitter in Mets history really helps.
  • Scott Hairston: This guy eats lefties for lunch, dinner and then a midnight snack. Hairston could lead the Mets in home runs while not playing every day. He's also decent in the field and makes you wonder if he should be playing more than Duda or Kirk. After Tejada, Hairston has been the biggest surprise of the first half for the Mets.
  • Mike Baxter: Don't forget about this guy. He's been out for a month, but Baxter was a pinch hitting machine for most of April and May. I think he hit a double every other at bat and of course made the great catch to save the Johan no-no. Since he's been out, the Mets have missed that extra reliable bat on the bench and an alternative option in the outfield.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Playing All 27 Outs

The 2012 Mets play to the last out. They even play to the last strike. There is no mailing it in with this team. There's a sense that every guy wants to play his hardest because who knows where he'll be in the coming months.

Is it because of Terry Collins that the Mets play this way? Possibly, but I have to think it's ingrained in each player. Call them hard nosed, overachievers but it's gritty play like we saw last night that makes the 2012 Mets so fun to watch.

Last night's game against the Phils should have been a loss. The Mets resident ace, R.A. Dickey, didn't have it. You could tell from the first inning that the knuckleball wasn't working its magic like it normally does. Dickey had control problems and the Phils hits were hard.

The Mets crawled their way back only to give up the lead again. But it didn't matter. The 27th out hadn't occurred yet. With 2 outs and 2 strikes in the 9th inning the Mets seem to play their most disciplined baseball. Ruben Tejada looked like Keith Hernandez at the plate, working the count and following off pitches. Murphy muscled a cue shot and ran as hard as anyone in baseball to avoid an infield out.

Then Mr. Wright comes up with the game tied and does what a veteran hitter should do. He knew Pappelbon would throw a fastball on the first pitch so Wright breaks his pattern of taking the first pitch and slaps a little blooper into no-man's land to win the game.

The fact that this happened against the Phillies makes it all that more enjoyable, but it's the type of play you see night in and night out from this team. The Mets have their warts: the BLOWpen, their fielding, their left-handed heavy lineup. But because they play with such intensity every night and never seem to give up, we often overlook their shortcomings and just enjoy the love for the game that's displayed on the field.