Friday, October 31, 2008

Ugly Philly People

Ah, and so the taunting begins. Yes, Mets fans, as the sign being held by these 3 victims of the ugly stick says, deal with it. The Phillies are World Champs. I wonder if this means Citizens Bank Park will finally draw more Phils fans than Mets fans. 
I also wonder if the Mets' bullpen will get a share of the Phillies' post season earnings. You know, I mean, they were after all, a big part of Philly's success. 

Go Giants! 

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Long, Deserved Headache Has Arrived

Guess what? Phillies won the World Series. Yes, the losingest franchise in all of sports has won the title. I caught the 9th inning last night and was just praying that Lidge would blow his first save in the World Series by giving up a 2-run home run and then immediately ball up into the fetal position on the mound as flashbacks of Albert Pujols rang through his head.

Didn't happen though.

As a Mets fan, can you even fathom a closer who doesn't blow a save the entire year? It's unfathomable. The crazy part is the Phillies only won the NL East by 2 games. The Mets blew 29 saves.

And so a long, deserved headache has arrived. We will now be subject to Philadelphia Phillie fans boasting about their team for another 365 days until a new champion is crowned. We will have to watch Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins puff out their chest and deem themselves as superior beings.

And you know what? They can.

The Phillies won games when they needed to. They never seem to get blown out and never seem to give up. Those are traits of a champion and things I'd like to see the Mets do more often.

So take an Advil, get some rest, and prepare for a long winter of Philly boasting. Omar is on the clock.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

2009 Potential Lineup - As of October 29, 2008

As the hot stove starts to heat up, every so often we'll post the Mets Lifer proposed starting lineup for the 2009 season. It will be interesting to see how this lineup changes and evolves as the winter months drag on and trades are made.

But as of October 29, 2008, with the current roster the Mets have in place, here's the Mets Lifer proposed starting lineup:
  1. Reyes, SS - duh
  2. Murphy, 2B - He hits better than Castillo and Easley. He can cover as much ground as Castillo. He can take 2 strikes as well as Castillo. So why not start him?
  3. Wright, 3B - make sense
  4. Beltran, CF - I like him at cleanup, but I can easily be convinced that he should bat 2nd.
  5. Delgado, 1B - See if he starts off as slow as last year before you move him down
  6. Church, RF - If he stays healthy, I'd love to see if he can start off the season like he did last year
  7. Tatis, LF - Comeback player of the year deserves a chance to prove he's not a one-hit wonder
  8. Schneider, C - There'll be a lot of talk about improving at catcher this offseason. Um, wasn't that what Minaya convinced us he was doing when he traded for Schneider last year?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Please Don't Be Creative

I love when baseball teams use unique phrases to describe their approach to things as a way to dance around the issue. Case in point, according the New York Post the Mets are going to be "creative" in their approach in finding a new closer for next season.

Hmmm. Why creative? Why not be sensible? Or logical? Or determined? Why creative?

Creative is a code word for "we're not ready to commit to spending a boat load of money on K-Rod." Which is really unfortunate. The last thing we want the Mets to be is creative. Let's use some logic and get some solid players to fill our holes. The Mets were creative when they traded for Luis Castillo. You could argue the Mets were creative when they signed Moises Alou to yet another year even though the man hadn't played a full season in what feels like a decade.

Do we really want Brian Fuentes to be our closer? Does anyone seriously think Brian Fuentes is truly an improvement? Well, I guess anything is an improvement over our current bullpen situation, but it's not like Brian Fuentes is a lights out solid option.

Whether you want K-Rod (like I do) or not, I think we can both agree that we don't want the Mets to be creative in fixing their bullpen problems. Let's use some scientific method in our approach and get reliable arms who have a proven track record of getting the job done.

You want to be creative? Go be an art director.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fernando Tatis: Comeback Player of the Year

Congratulations to Fernando Tatis for winning the Sporting News' Comeback Player of the Year Award as voted by the players. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a more surprising turnaround in any sport than the story of Fernando Tatis.

Tatis had Mets fans depressed when he got injured late in the season, and already has us talking about keeping him as our right-handed bat off the bench. These are thoughts that would have never crossed the minds of any Mets fan back in April.

I like Tatis for his hustle, his fearless hitting in the clutch, and for the fact that he generally appears to be one of baseball's good guys. Congrats to you Fernando. Well deserved.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Hunt for K-Rod

Bring me K-Rod to appease my anger. Bring me K-Rod and make me forget Scott Blowenweiss. Bring me K-Rod or I will have to suffer through yet another year of the BLOWpen.

According to ESPN radio, the Mets are arming themselves for negotiation battle for Francisco Rodriguez of the Angels. The soon to be 27-year old, all-time saves record holder is looking for a potential 5-year deal worth $15 million per year.

The Mets of course are saying they're not willing to meet those demands, but I guess that's the dance they have to play to get things started.

While getting K-Rod is not the only answer to the Mets problem, it does solve the most glaring, gaping hole in the Mets dugout. With 29 blown saves, the Mets only needed to cut that number to 27 or 28 to make the playoffs. I think K-Rod saved 29 games in April last year.

With Wagner pretty much done and Luis Ayala not looking like a solid answer, the Mets are in desperate need of a reliable closer. And the great thing about K-Rod is he's a young guy with a solid arm who appears not to have any issues with closing out games in clutch situations.

If the Mets get K-Rod, I'd be a happy man and I could then focus my anger on Luis Castillo.

The Phillies As Characters from Rocky

Our friends over at Bugs and Cranks have outdone themselves this time. In honor of the Phillies making the World Series, Rays writer, Dave, put together his list of Phillies that best fit various characters from the Rocky movies. Pat Burrell as Thunderlips is my personal favorite, although Cole Hamels as Mrs. Drago is pretty hilarious.

And I never realized just how much Shane Victorino and Rocky (from Rocky & Bullwinkle) look alike. It's actually quite creepy.

Head over to Bugs and Cranks to check out the full list or just click here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Keith Hernandez

Today marks Keith Hernandez's 55th birthday. Hernandez was the reason I wanted to play first base in little league and I told my parents I needed flip down glasses and a first baseman's glove just like Keith's.

After leaving the Mets, his appearance on Seinfeld made him more of a national pop icon than his Just for Men commercials, but I think it's safe to say that every Mets Lifer is pleased to have Keith in the broadcast booth and be involved in the Mets organization.

Happy Birthday Keith. Here's to hoping the Mets can pick up a player/leader like you in this offseason.

Did You Ever Think You'd Cheer for the Devil Rays?

They'll always be Devil Rays to me.

But no, I never thought I'd be seriously cheering for them. But I am now. The Rays finished off the Red Sox last night and are headed to their first every World Series appearance.

These are trying times for Mets Lifers. The stock market is plummeting, the housing crisis is everywhere, and the Phillies are on the verge of becoming world champions. Which is scarier? They're all so close in my mind.

I need Scott Kazmir, Evan Longoria and Cliff Floyd to put up some huge numbers against the Fightin' Phils. Can you imagine starting the 2009 season with the Phillies as defending champs? I shudder at the thought.

So break out your Rays t-shirts (do they even have such a thing?) and tune in to FOX on Wednesday night if only to pray that you can catch a glimpse of Shane Victorino striking out. This World Series is more important than I thought. It's coming together to fight for what is good in this world and to prevent evil from being victorious.

Go Rays!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Waiting for Mike Scioscia

Every Mets Lifer who can remember the 1988 NLCS cringes when they hear the name Mike Scioscia. His home run off the untouchable Doc Gooden sent the 1988 Mets into a tailspin and ultimately was the turning point for the Mets fortunes for years to come.

Now it's almost 20 years later, and I'm waiting for another Mike Scioscia moment. This time for the Phillies.

The fighting Phils are headed to the World Series. As much as I dislike them (especially Shane Victorino), they deserve to be there. They've played well and always seem to win when they need to.

But that said, I still would love to see them make it all the way to the World Series only to have their title hopes crushed by a modern day Mike Scioscia. Call it bitterness. Call it hate. Call it whatever you want. I gotta root for something.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What to do with Daniel Murphy?

Oh, Danny Boy. Daniel Murphy was one of the few bright spots for the Mets this past season. The kid plays hard-nosed baseball, shows patience at the plate and proved himself to be a serious student of the game. I think every Mets fan would agree that we are anxious to see what this kid can bring to the table in future years.

Or should we?

Murphy's stock is pretty high right now. Teams have seen what he can do and any rookie that can come into the league and bat over .300 for more than a month has to peak some interest from competing scouts. Do we sell high or wait for the stock to continue to go up?

That's a tough question.

The other side to the equation is that if the Mets keep Murphy where are they going to play him for the long term? He is a natural infielder and has played both third and second base. The Mets obviously have a need for a reliable second baseman so why wouldn't you play him there? But of course the Mets are interested in Orlando Hudson and if you get a veteran like that what do you do with Murphy?

You could continue to play him in left field, but I don't think anyone believes that Murphy will be a career corner outfielder. Also you may have heard of this kid called Fernando Martinez who is just waiting to take his spot in left field every day for the Mets for the next decade.

Some say that Murphy's future is at first base. I don't see it, but I could be talked into it. Do you trade Martinez as a blue chipper for some reliable pitching? Can Murphy get you a couple of young arms? Do you let Murphy platoon with Delgado next season when Murphy isn't playing left field?

There are so many different scenarios, but I think the best one is to let the kid play second base. Orlando Hudson is intriguing, but I have an odd feeling that he's got Luis Castillo potential. Think of an infield with Wright, Reyes and Murphy and you have a young core of players for the next 7 years that can start everyday and have the potential to hit .300 one through three in the batting order.

I think Murphy will turn out to be a poor man's John Olerud or Paul Moliter. I'd like to see the Mets hold onto him, but I was crazy about Carlos Gomez last year and got over that real quick when the name Santana came into play. If Murphy and a few prospects can get you a guy like Peavy or Oswalt, you may have to let him go.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Isn't a Baseball Season 162 Games?

If you've ever played basketball or if you are a basketball fan you know how a game can come down to the final shot. You make it you win. You miss it you lose. But the thing is every coach, player and true fan knows that you didn't lose the game because of that final shot. You lost the game because you shot 60% from the free throw line, or you had 10 turnovers, or you were down 15 in the first half and lucky enough to still be in it come the 4th quarter.

Sure you had a shot to win it, but it's the sum total of your efforts in the entire game that causes you to win or lose. Somehow, this concept is getting lost on Mets fans.

I've heard dozens of Mets fan talk to me about this year's debacle. The majority are demanding a major overhaul of the team and that drastic changes need to be made. Some are blaming Omar. Some are blaming the bullpen. Some are blaming the lack of clutch hitting. But the focus is all on the last week of the season.

I hate to break this to you, but baseball is a 162 game season. Sure there's a ton of focus on games down the stretch, but honestly a win in April is worth just as much as a win September. There's too much focus on the final week of the season. It was a horrible week and the Mets played poorly, but what if that week was in May? Would we still be talking about it?

If the Mets swapped the last week of the season for a week in June do you know what would have happened? The Mets would have still missed the playoffs. An extra win in July, August, April, May or whenever would have gotten the Mets in the playoffs so don't focus on the last week of the season.

You have to look at the issues effecting the team for the entire course of the season. Issue numero uno is the bullpen. I think we all know that. Issue number two is second base. The revolving door at second base and the proof that Luis Castillo does not have knees is a big problem. Issue number three, left field. Alou killed us. Angel Pagan was one of those unforeseeable successes that quickly got dashed by an improbable injury. Murphy and Evans performed admirably, but are we ready to put them in as every day players?

Beltran, Wright, Delgado & Reyes had fantastic years at the plate. I fully expect Delgado to decline this next year because he's getting older, but there isn't a dire need to revamp this entire squad. I can live with it if you don't sign Delgado and go get a really good, young first baseman, but it's not a necessity.

People talk about the leadership of Cliff Floyd and how the Mets are missing that type of presence. How many years did we win with Cliff Floyd? And the year we made it to the playoffs with Floyd he didn't even play half the games because he was injured. So don't talk to me about how invaluable Cliff Floyd was. The Rays are doing great, but don't try and sell me the fact that it's because of Cliff Floyd's clubhouse presence that they were able to turn the corner. Please, spare me.

Could the Mets use a solid, scrappy veteran? Absolutely. Do they need to overhaul the entire team to do so? Absolutely not.

It's a 162 game season folks. The Mets were under .500 when Willie was fired. If they played 2 games above .500 during that stretch we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Let the CC Sabathia Debate Begin

Now that the Brewers are officially out of the playoffs, it's time to officially begin speculation on where the top pitcher in the free agent market will land.

CC (stands for Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger) Sabathia is looking for Santana-type money, but may be willing to accept a 5 year deal. Rumored teams of interesting include the Mets, Yankees, Dodgers, and Giants. Sabathia is a West Coast guy and he likes to swing the bat so to me the Dodgers appear to be the front runners.

I'm actually against the Mets going after Sabathia for a couple of reasons. First he's out of shape. Look at Santana compared to Sabathia. Santana is an athlete. Sabathia is your uncle with a fastball.

Second reason is he's just dying to get hurt. The Brewers were smart and used Sabathia for as long as they could. Combine his weight with his inning pitched last year and you've got a guy who's just waiting for a trip to the DL.

Third, I'm not sold he's a top notch pitcher. Don't get me wrong. Sabathia is a great starter and would be an asset to any team, but let me ask you, would you rather have Sabathia or Roy Halladay? What about Sabathia vs. Roy Oswalt? Or Scott Kazmir? Or Josh Beckett? Or Brandon Webb? Or Dan Haren? Or Tim Lincecum? Or Carlos Zambrano?

I think I'd rather have one of the guys listed above before Sabathia if they were available.

Sabathia had an amazing year and is worthy of a new contract. He'll be a tier 1 pitcher for pretty much any team he joins, but if we're looking at the long term here I'm not confident Sabathia can maintain his current performance over a 5 year span.

Unless Mike Golic gets him on Nutri-System. Then that's another story.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Century of Disappointment

Think you're feeling down as a Mets fan because we didn't make the playoffs for a second straight year? Cheer up! At least you're not a Cubs fan.
A team that looked as if they were guaranteed a spot in the World Series ran into Manny and the boys from L.A. and got swept. It's bad enough that they lost, but to lose twice in your own building and then get swept is just devastating.

That makes it over 100 years since the Cubs have won the World Series. The Mets last won in 1986 which seems like eons ago, but that's nothing compared to a century's worth of coming up short.

I feel for you Cubs fans. I just wouldn't want to be you.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Everybody Loves Jerry

After the shortest and most inexplicable holdout we've seen, Jerry Manuel (a.k.a American Gangsta) agreed to a 2-year deal with the Mets on Friday.

I'm glad to see Jerry Manuel be given the chance to manage the team for a full year, and to have the ability to make his own player decision from the get-go. I also like the fact that the Mets did this right away. No waiting around letting the rumor mill churn with thoughts of Bobby Valentine or letting idiots scream for Buck Schowalter. They completed their first order of business and can now focus on fixing their bullpen.

Manuel has the respect of the current players and many of them have spoken out about how much they enjoy playing for him. I think he's the one guy who can handle the constant questions and comparisons to the collapse as the Mets look forward to 2009. He's got the temperment and the intelligence to handle it.

Glad to have you back Jerry. Now let's hope Omar can make some other deals happen to improve this club like signing K-Rod. Now that'd be gangsta.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Will You Be Watching the MLB Playoffs?

Right now, I'm done with baseball. The anxiety and effort that it took watching the Mets these last few weeks has me drained. I need a baseball vacation.

I did, however, listen the 9th inning of the Brewers/Phillies game yesterday on the way home from work. I was just waiting for Lidge to blow his first game of the year in the playoffs, but alas it was not to be.

I'm getting caught up with some TV viewing (the new show "Fringe" is quite good), relaxing a bit, and focusing on football (Giants 3-0!).

I might find myself flipping the channel to check out the World Series, but for now I'm done watching baseball. Call me jaded. Call me an unappreciative baseball fan. Call me whatever. For now, I need a break.

How about you?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hall of Famers

Other than a World Series celebration, this is possibly the most fitting way to close Shea Stadium. Cheers to placidian for the great shot.

Favorite Shea Memory: My First Foul Ball

I've been to some great games at Shea. From last week's comeback against the Cubs in the rain, to the clinching game in 2006 to the game where Daryl knocked the lights out in the scoreboard, I've enjoyed some memorable moments at Shea.

But one moment at Shea will always stick out in my mind. It's the day I got my first foul ball.

It was a Saturday afternoon game with a 1 pm start and was one of those gorgeous days in May where it was cool enough in the shade and comfortable in the sun. I was 9 years old and my friend Gary and I were headed to Shea with my parents to see the Cardinals and Mets play back in 1987. Gary was a Pirates fan, but he was willing to see the Mets play the hated Cardinals at that time. Both Gary & I brought our baseball gloves to the game, had our baseball hats on and were psyched about the snacks my mom was packing for the game (mmmm, Twizzlers).

My dad got us seats in the lower level about 20+ rows from the first baseline. They were great seats and I always love sitting along the first base side. The view just seems to be better from there. In any case we got to the game early to watch batting practice and enjoy the day.

The four of us were sitting all in one row when a woman approached us and said my mom was sitting in her seat. We checked our tickets and sure enough my dad didn't buy 4 seats sitting together. One of the tickets was for a seat in the row directly in front of us.

Since the woman was by herself, my parents asked if she would mind sitting in the seat that was in the row in front of us so that we could all sit together. This crazy lady wouldn't have it. She put up a stink and demanded that she sit in the seat she paid for. So my mom got up and sat by herself next to some other folks in the row directly in front of us. Mom wasn't pleased, but she wasn't going to let some annoying woman ruin the game.

The Mets got behind early (surprise) and in the 4th or 5th inning Kevin McReynolds stepped up to the plate and fouled off a pitch. Amazingly the foul ball was headed right toward us. I felt this sense of excitement and fright as this ball appeared to be heading right towards me. My dad, Gary and I stood up and anticipated the ball's arrival.

At the last moment the ball appeared to be tailing off to the right of me and I stretched my glove as far as I could but the ball was just out of my reach. I heard this loud smack as the ball hit the hand of a man about 2 seats to the right of me. The ball fell to the ground and there was a scramble as folks in the area all looked for the foul ball.

While this was happening, my mom also saw the foul ball coming our way, but reacted in the exact opposite way of everyone else. She ducked down, covered her head and was bracing for impact.

As the crowd scoured for the ball, lo and behold, my mom removes her hands from covering her head, turns around, and hands me the foul ball. The ball ricocheted off the man's hands to the right of me, rolled around on the ground, and plopped down right at her feet. While mom was tucking her head inbetween her knees, the ball rolled right to her.

I was stunned that there was my mom, holding a foul ball, and it was mine to have. I grabbed the ball and began waving it around and showing it off in total amazement. Meanwhile, the pain in the neck woman who had refused to switch seats with us turned to me and said, "Oh. I guess if I had switched seats, I would have gotten it."

I desperately wanted to start a little dance of joy in her face with my tongue sticking out and sticking my nose up, but I resisted. I was very mature for a 9 year old.

The Mets ended up losing that game, but it didn't matter. I had my first foul ball and a memorable story to tell about it. And how many kids can say that their mom caught a foul ball?

Naming Names

It's the third day since the end of the Mets season and I'm already hearing people talk definitively about what deals are being made in the offseason. Wow. People are naming names earlier this year than ever before, which leads me to believe that somehow in some way Scott Boras is behind this.

I've heard Manny Ramirez, CC Sabathia, K-Rod, Eric Byrnes, Orlando Hudson, and Derrick Lowe all linked to the Mets in the last 48 hours. And this is not hearsay from bloggers or water cooler chat. This is from online and offline media. It's crazy.

Right now any names linked to the Mets are guaranteed to be wrong. Remember last October when A-Rod was all the rage? See how that worked out. Then there was the talk about the Mets farm system being too weak to make a deal for Santana. Strike 2.

And then last fall there was the ridiculous idea that the Mets would sign Luis Castillo to a multi-year deal. Oh wait. . .

In any case, don't believe the hype. Don't pay attention to names at this point, or at least don't take them seriously. If you want to dream about Roy Halladay in a Mets uniform, please do so. If you want to envision Manny as a Met, knock yourself out, but don't take it as gospel for a second.

It's way too early. The only names that you can guarantee will be Mets next season are Wright, Reyes, Santana & Beltran. That's right, I said Beltran.