Category Archives: Baseball - Page 2

The Other Night

As the video indicates, I was at the game the other night. It was a hell of a time.

While I am not a huge fan of the new Brooklyn Dodgers stadium we refer to as Citi Field, I will give it one compliment: There does not seem to be a bad seat in the house. My friend and I decided to take our chances (easily the smallest gamble anyone has ever taken in the history of recorded life) and go to the game without tickets. Usually I just use StubHub, but those surcharges were starting to bother me. Anyway, we strolled up, took a chance and asked if there were student prices. Sure enough they had $10 tickets for us. As pathetic as this sounds, my night was already made.

After purchasing our ticket we looked for the shortest line into the stadium and quickly made our way towards one of the more awkward moments of the whole process, the “pat down.” For some reason I always find this awkward moment quite funny. You step up and some guy who looks absolutely miserable just tries to stare away (almost like if he doesn’t stare at you, it isn’t happening. Kind of that peekaboo logic) as he puts his hands up and down your body real quick. Not even a “jeez buy me dinner first” could cheer this guy up. (Though I am sure there are plenty of people who say that to them. I figure it must be beyond old for them) When he does find something on you, he just squeezes the objects to get a sense of what they are. I always feel they do this search to make sure no outside food gets in, as opposed to making sure no weapons make their way in.

After that whole exchange we look at our tickets and, as can be assumed, they were way at the top of the stadium. As we climbed staircase after staircase we think about sneaking into a lower section. (My friend goes to school in Baltimore and whenever we go to an Orioles game we can easily sneak into the bottom section. We even got lucky enough one time to have a fan give us two tickets for free because his friends didn’t show up. Then promptly used those tickets to get seats ten rows back on the third base side. Easily the best value I have ever gotten) Unfortunately there was security at every entrance. You can talk all day about how cheap this team seems nowadays, but money is no object when it comes to making sure people sit in their assigned seat.

We finally make our way to the top and get to our seats to find we actually had a fantastic view of the field. Gotta love that. $10 dollars and I have as good of a view as I need. Beautiful.

The game finally starts and before we know it the Mets are down 4-0. I just think back to the game the previous night, and that fantastic 4-2 victory. We had been deciding between going Tuesday or Wednesday and I was now regretting my decision.

While still invested in the game, I’ll admit we got sidetracked a bit before the Mets were able to get back into it. I think the most enjoyable conversation we had was after we saw this guy and girl walk into our section together. My friend instantly tells me, “I know it might look like they are together, but I’ll bet you anything that they are brother and sister.” We argued back and forth for a while (in fact I’m pretty sure they heard us) and I’ll admit, it wasn’t obvious one way or the other. As my friend pointed out, they looked ridiculously alike, there was no physical contact, and when it came time for the “fan photos” they seemed a little apprehensive about taking one. (though in retrospect that could just be because no one really wants to take those fan photos)

While we were debating this important issue, one of the highlights of the night happened. Beltran walked into the batters box and hit a bomb of a two-run home run to tie the game up. I’ll admit, part of my inspiration to go to the game was to see Beltran as a Met just one more time before he was traded. I honestly could not have asked for a better day to go see him.

Just watching him play again I was torn as to whether the Mets should trade him. He has easily been one of, if not, my favorite player on the Mets this decade. For all the crap he gets, he is a phenomenal player and a hell of a professional. At times like this I am so happy I am not a GM. Beltran is a fantastic player and leader. Someone who is great for your team. Unfortunately, if the Mets could pull in a top prospect for him, like a Dominic Brown, you have to make that move. Give up Beltran for 2 months, get a star right fielder for 10 years. It’s just smart. Part of me hopes that Beltran stays with the team past the deadline, re-signs in the offseason, and has another productive couple of years. Though I know that isn’t realistic, and, knowing the Mets, it would just blow up in their face. To sum that up: in a perfect world I’d love to keep Beltran; however, if the Mets could receive an impact player in return they have to make that deal. Only for an impact player. If a team like the Giants just wants to take on his salary and give low level prospects, keep him. I think the two months and extra time to negotiate with Beltran for next season is more valuable than a future bench player.

After that inning (though I admittedly don’t remember exactly what inning it was during) we also had a runner on the field. He had one of the more impressive runs I’ve seen at a stadium. Obviously nothing compared to Drew Barrymore in that Red Sox movie that I’m blanking on the name of right now (I know I could easily look it up, but that movie already stole enough of my time), and Adam Sandler in that even worse Anger Management movie, or even this kid at Houston http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7B4gic1-qU. Still it was a very entertaining run that kept us captivated. The run is posted in the previous article. This website is making it too annoying to post here.

Also another shocking thing that happened during an inning I can’t specifically remember, was Bay getting hurt and leaving the game. Perhaps the most notable thing about it was how little I cared. That is probably the worst thing that could be said about a high profile free agent signing getting injured. (After his performance following my article I’ve decided to only post negative things about Bay. I would feel worse about this if I thought he, or anyone really for that matter, would read this blog. Basically if the Mets screw up when I believe in them, maybe I should just stop hoping he can turn it around. The reverse jinx. Let’s hope it works!)

The game continued. It remained tied until the eighth inning when Bobby Parnell gave up a run. The run was scored on a squeeze play which was pretty impressive. Not something you see that often anymore. In fact, it is so rare an occurence that some guy behind me was left perplexed. He yelled to his friend sitting next to him, “Never before have I seen that in my life,” (which I now hear like this scene in Superbad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlHK4HgXjJ0 look at 2:20.) “They must have known the batter had terrible numbers against Parnell and just made something up,” he continued. And this guy calls himself a baseball fan. He literally commentated on the entire game. Let’s just say I have a new appreciation for Gary, Keith and Ron. Oh and by the way, at this point the “siblings” sitting in front of us started to kiss, which meant I had won our little argument, possibly the second biggest victory of the night. My friend still refuses to accept defeat. He has changed his stance to cousins from an accepting family.

In the bottom of the eighth inning the Mets were able to tie it up thanks to a clutch hit by Thole. At the start of the season I was really hopeful Thole would catch on and be a nice young hitter for us. He just had such a nice compact swing and eye at the plate, that I thought asking for .280/.330 10 hr and 60 rbi wouldn’t be crazy. I will admit though, I was scared about his defense and his ability to call the game. It shocked me that the organization was willing to move forward with Thole as the starter after going out to sign Rod Barajas and Henry Blanco the season before SPECIFICALLY for their defense and calls. The idea that last season the young pitching staff desperately needed a leader, but this season they were ok just didn’t make sense. Sure enough the pitchers struggled at the start of the season, and Pelfrey has struggled all year. Still Thole seems to have gotten more comfortable with the pitching staff and vice versa. This is only his first full season in the majors so I should give the kid a break. Rebuilding in New York right?

Isringhausen came on in the ninth and pitched phenomenally to send the inning to extras. Two great things about this. One Isringhausen has been spectacular as closer. He has only been used twice, but I have to say he has done a great job. I’m glad the Mets have decided to hold on to him. He can be a great mentor for Parnell and Beato. Two, it was the first game in extras I have ever been at. I have been to many many games in my lifetime. To finally be able to check that item off was great.

The top of the tenth came and went in a hurry as Isringhausen kept the Cards off the board again. Then the bottom half of the inning started up. Murphy popped up for the first out. That was enough to send a disgruntled fan over the edge. She screamed, “great, at the rate we’re going, we are headed for an eleventh inning!” I am so glad she was there to do the math for me because I was certain it was going to be the fourteenth after that. What a relief. Now a proper response would be: At this rate we are going to be here all night. (When I say proper, I don’t mean funny or clever, I just mean a logical response to explain your emotions, rather than a factual comment. I also don’t see complaining about a game going past the tenth inning in extras. How many extra inning games get decided in the tenth? Don’t answer that) After that little outburst, Pagan (or PAGONE! after that hit) went out to shut her up and hit a bomb to right center. Right after the ball crossed the fence my friend and I cheered and screamed as we ran down the innumerable amount of stairs in that stadium, ensuring ourselves the first train out of there to make our other train home. I also got to cross “walk-off win” off my list. (I know, I know, how have I not seen any of this stuff yet) Overall a great game and a great time. Definitely have to make it back out there.

Video From the Game

Runner at Citi Field 7/20

A segment of the runner at Citi Field tonight. The guy had a hell of a run, surprisingly fun to watch.

Oops

I think I jinxed him.

After being benched, Jason Bay went on an absolute tear. Images of his days with the Pirates and Red Sox instantly flashed in my mind. We were finally getting the power hitter we had paid dearly for. His resurgence was just in time for a run at the Wild Card and our hopes of retaining Beltran this season stayed intact.

…Then I wrote that stupid article and he hasn’t hit a thing since. It’s all my fault. Sure you could look at the stats and realize Bay’s hot steak coincided with a slew of left-handed starters (pitchers Bay has faired fairly well against this season), but that would just be a waste. Please throw logic out. It was my fault.

The Mets just have this annoying habit of screwing everything up just when I finally believe. You’d think I would’ve learned something by now, but apparently I have the worst short-term memory in the world.

Every year the Mets do poorly at some point in the season and I realize our playoff chances are slim. Then out of nowhere they go on a hot streak. I stay weary, expecting the wheels to come off at any moment, but it never happens. I wait longer, convinced today will be the day the Mets will show their true color, but nothing. Could the Mets possibly be a true competitor? I start watching. I become enthralled with their play. I start going over how good they could be, how great their lineup looks, and how deep their rotation is. Then it happens. The wheels finally come off and I feel like an idiot. I write them off and the whole cycle happens all over again.

STOP TOYING WITH ME SPORTS GOD!!!

Perhaps I should learn something from this. If I was smart I would write the Mets off now. Say they had no chance to sign Reyes then sit back and watch them capture a championship before locking Reyes up to a reasonable contract (and by that I mean both price and years…perhaps years is a bigger concern). Unfortunately that isn’t going to happen. It’s a nice thought, but it is too much fun to be a fan and believe in this team. I am sorry for the Bay thing though…I’ll try to be more careful about that in the future.

Deadline Decisions

Will they or won’t they? That is the question on every Mets mind for the next few weeks. Sure the All-Star game is tonight, and that will be exciting, but when the guys playing the game don’t care to show up, I doubt it’s that prevalent in many fans minds. (Don’t get me wrong I love the All-Star game. I mean I already have my Mets jersey and hat on to cheer on our lone representative, Carlos Beltran. Ironic since it seems like he is one of the leading candidates to get traded in the next couple of weeks)

No, what’s on most fans minds is what management plans on doing during the trade deadline.

At the start of the second half the Mets go up against the Phillies, Cardinals and Marlins before anyone (Reyes, Ike, Wright) comes off the DL. Those teams include a team with the best record in baseball, two division leaders, and combine for a record of 149-125 (.544%). At the end of the week they could easily find themselves below .500 and essentially out of the wild card chase.

That gives Alderson a week to decide if he is going to trade Beltran, K-Rod, Isringhausen or Byrdak. (I didn’t mention Reyes because I can’t envision a scenario where they trade him)

So let’s play GM and try to answer this question.

K-Rod is the most likely to go because he has value and because the Mets don’t want to pay him $17.5 million next season. The interesting thing with K-Rod is, even though he is an extremely talented closer, the Mets probably won’t get much in return for him. Instead, the big reward will be the money the Mets save next season. I would say K-Rod goes regardless of the Mets position in the Wild Card race, and unless the trading team also wants Isringhausen or Byrdak back, I can’t see the Mets getting anything significant back.

The two relievers by themselves would probably bring back minimal returns as well.

This leaves us with the most interesting case of all: Carlos Beltran. Beltran cannot be given arbitration and so the Mets will get no compensation if he leaves as a free agent. He is due around 6-7 million for the rest of the season and has a no trade clause. Both of those things make it tough for the Mets to move him. Right now the talk is the Mets would receive a low-level prospect for Beltran.

What to do, what to do…

Don’t trade him. I understand saving the money could help with next season’s payroll. I don’t see it helping that much. As of now reports claim the payroll won’t be more than $120 million. Is it going to be less if they don’t trade Beltran? Furthermore I can’t stomach another salary dump. Two seasons ago, the Mets traded Billy Wagner when he returned from the disabled list to the Red Sox for essentially nothing. The move saved the team about $3 million. That offseason Wagner was a type A free agent, the Red Sox offered him arbitration and the Braves signed him.

A lot of the trade talk surrounding Beltran has the Mets eating a significant amount of his salary. If that is the case I obviously can’t call it a salary dump. What I don’t understand is how the Mets wouldn’t receive adequate compensation for trading away a player that is STARTING in the All-Star game, AND due only a small portion of his salary.

Yes, he would be a rental player, but so is almost every other player traded at the deadline. How many teams trade a player that is locked up at a reasonable price for several years? The Cardinals traded a ransom for Matt Holliday in his last year, and that was during a dreadful season from the All-Star. Yes, they were able to re-sign him in the offseason, but there was no guarantee of that.

What I’m trying to say is, Beltran could significantly help a contender’s chances. If the Mets can’t get proper compensation for him, they should keep him. (I just don’t understand how Beltran would land nothing, when the Mets were asked for prospects Ike Davis and Jon Niese for players like Xavier Nady, and Damaso Marte at trade deadlines in the past)

While it remains unlikely the Mets will make the postseason, it is still fun to watch this team. Beltran has been one of my favorite players since the team signed him, and I’d love the chance to watch him for a few more months.

More importantly, with the size of Beltran’s contract, the Mets could always trade him after the deadline as he is sure to make it through waivers. That way they can see if maybe they have a run in them, or wait out a desperate team. Perhaps a contender has a big injury and needs to replace the bat in the lineup. Beltran would be, by far, the best option out there. Hopefully that would lead to a better deal for the Mets.

Another possibility I’ve been thinking of is re-signing Beltran. It might be a long shot, but if Beltran would sign for cheap, he could be a good piece. I wouldn’t sign him and expect him to be the full-time starter, but bringing him back as one of several outfield options would be great.

I say one of several because I am still weary of his knees. I was not a fan of relying on Delgado at such an important position in 2009, but if he stayed healthy, it would have been a brilliant move. If you re-sign Beltran, but have other options in the fold, it is a brilliant move. Having a healthy Beltran in right field would do wonders for the Mets next season, and there is less of a chance he gets re-signed if he is traded this season.

So I guess, my decision as GM would be, trade K-Rod if you can, and hold on to Beltran unless there is an offer that blows you away.

Bay is Back

I know I am a little late to post about this, but I promise I’m not just joining the bandwagon.

Anyway, since being benched for two straight days, Jason Bay has been on a tear. He is hitting .347 with four home runs and 17 rbi’s in 18 games. (thank you SNY for doing that math for me ; – ) )

I have been waiting for this day (stretch?) since the day we signed him, and, as much as I can’t prove it, I’ve continued to expect it to happen since the day we signed him. I know he has been awful for the Mets, but you don’t just forget how to play baseball. How often does a player go from career averages of 20+ home runs and a .270 average, to 6 home runs and a .210 average? Maybe, just maybe, at the twilight of your career, but not at the age of 31.

After his first dreadful season, I thought of David Wright. In his first season in Citi Field he failed to hit double digit home runs. It seemed the ballpark got in his head. The following season, David fixed the problem and returned to being the type of hitter we expect him to be. Was it that far-fetched that a guy who just signed a big contract for a team in a big market was having the same struggles? This season Bay started out poorly again, but the guy was coming off a rib injury to start the season, and after struggling early, started to come apart at the seams. He was playing poorly, and with all the attention he was getting, he was pressing to break out.

After a particularly poor stretch Collins decided to sit him down. This move received a lot of scrutiny, but I didn’t think it was a bad idea. When all you’re doing is thinking about ways to adjust your swing, sometimes just forgetting about it is the best idea. (It’s similar to those times you lose track of your conversation. When you actively try to remember what you were going to say, it never comes to you. When you finally forget about it and move on, you suddenly remember) I was hoping this could apply to Bay. So far, it looks like it is paying off.

With his recent success (I understand 20 games is a small sample size with 162 games in a season, but he has never had this kind of stretch for the Mets. Think about it: 4 home runs in 20 games, as opposed to 8 in the other 135 games he has played in) I began to think of Carlos Delgado. Remember him? After a good 2006 season, Delgado was flat out terrible. He continued this poor play and power outage until the middle of the 2008 season. At that point he went wild. In the second half of the season he hit close to .400 and hit a home run every other day. (Ok that was an exaggeration…but it felt like that. Every time we needed a big hit, he came through. Part of me wonders if he had to sell his soul for that type of production, or at least the rest of his baseball career. The following season he got hurt early and hasn’t made it back to the majors.) He almost got the Mets into the playoffs that season by himself. So if Delgado could have that type of turnaround, maybe Bay can too.  Let’s just hope his career doesn’t end next season.

If Bay can continue to produce at this level, the Mets could climb back in this race. I don’t think this is ridiculous to expect either. It might be a small sample size, but this streak isn’t all about luck. He clearly looks more confident at the plate. He isn’t rushing his swing, and is staying strong on his back leg. I feel the only reason I refuse to state he has turned it around is I’m afraid to jinx it. That and the Mets have a nasty habit of messing things up just as you start to believe in them. (maybe I should learn from this and refuse to believe in them no matter how well they do. Even if they are 7 games up with 17 left to play, I should just refuse to believe they’ll make the playoffs)

I understand the Mets are teetering around .500 and that screams mediocrity, but after that terrible 5-13 stretch to start the season, they have gone 39-29, posting a winning record in both May and June. That is with Bay doing nothing, and Wright, Davis and Santana on the DL. The Mets are in the top 3 in almost every offensive category, with the big exceptions being home runs and total runs. With the possibility of Wright and Bay adding more pop, the Mets are likely to see vast improvements in both categories. Who knows, we might get lucky for the first time since ’69 and have Davis come back this season too.

Perhaps all of this is a little too optimistic for 20 good games from one player, but the team has given me reason to hope. For the first time in a while they are playing the game the right way. They are taking the extra base, coming back late in games, getting two out hits, working the count in their favor. It pains me to know that despite all of that, they might not have the talent to make the playoffs. I’m not a real religious person, but for some reason I’m a believer in sports karma. I just feel a team that plays the game right should make the playoffs.