Tag Archives: Mets

All Things Come to an End

Today was the final day of the 2012 regular season. Once again the Mets finished below .500 and are hoping some offseason magic can make them relevant sooner rather than later. Because it is no fun to reflect on a season in which the team hasn’t been competitive or in the playoff race for months, we will instead look to next season.

So, should Mets fans be optimistic going into next year?

To be honest I’m not entirely sure. I know this is a bit of a cop out, but with Sandy Alderson claiming to be very active in the trade market, this team might be entirely different by the time the 2013 season gets underway.

But let’s pretend the Mets will largely keep the same team intact going into next season.

The biggest weakness of this club is the outfield. Who on the Mets makes you feel confident going into next season? Jason Bay? Lucas Duda? Matt Den Dekker?

There is a chance one of the young players on the Mets could blossom into an everyday starter, but we have yet to see it, and everything said by scouts says we will never see it. So unless Alderson makes some moves, the outfield situation should not be much better next year. There may be small individual improvements among the players, but nothing drastic.

The infield is less of a question mark. Daniel Murphy has proven to be a steady hitter, and (this may be generous) serviceable second baseman. Best part? He is probably the weak link. David Wright is a perennial All-Star, Ruben Tejada had a remarkable year, and Ike Davis rebounded in the second half to belt 31 hrs. Even catcher has been decently reliable for the Mets ever since the trade for Kelly Shoppach.

So how about the rotation?

Going into next season the rotation looks to be a strength. R.A. (Cy?) Dickey will be returning. As will Jon Niese and Matt Harvey. Top pitching prospect Zach Wheeler will be up sooner than later, and the Mets will potentially have Johan Santana, Dillon Gee, Mike Pelfrey, and/or Chris Young to choose from as the fifth starter. Not to mention a spot starter and long reliever in Jeremy Hefner.

The bullpen may still be a weakness, but with the improvement of Bobby Parnell, and the expected additions of Jenry Mejia and Jeurys Familia the bullpen should be at least serviceable moving forward.

So outside of the outfield things seem good. Does that mean the Mets could be in the playoff race?

They could. Stranger things have happened, but if I had to bet I would say no. Why? Well there are just too many questions that face the Mets.

First, can RA Dickey have a similar season? How will Matt Harvey look during his first full season? How will Zach Wheeler perform in the majors? Will Santana be a solid starter? Are they even bringing Pelfrey or Young back? How will Gee recover from surgery? Those are just the questions for the rotation.

Murphy is still a reliability at second, Davis hasn’t put together an All-Star season yet. Tejada is good, but isn’t a star yet. And with no outfield, and maybe one star in the infield, the offense will struggle. On top of that, we still aren’t sure how much better the bullpen can be expected to be next season.

I guess in short: the Mets have talent. In my opinion I think they are doing a nice job of building within, especially considering where they were. But they aren’t there yet. Perhaps Alderson can do something in the offseason to change this, but as of now the Mets look at least a season away from being real playoff contenders.

Some Time to Think

Back in 2005 there were high expectations for Mike Pelfrey. As a Boras client, many teams worried about his signability, allowing him to fall to the Mets at number nine despite many teams believing he projected to be an ace. Last season that potential seemed to be realized. In the first half, Pelfrey posted a 2.69 ERA and had 10 wins. Unfortunately for Pelf and the Mets, he regressed in the second half and has been spiraling down ever since.

I wouldn’t say Pelfrey has been terrible this year, but he has not been reliable. He has had his good games and he has had his bad games. My problem is he still has the stuff to be an ace. Could you imagine if Pelfrey had the poise and command of Dillon Gee?

Several analysts are pointing to Pelfrey’s mechanics as a reason for his problems. So the question becomes, would Pelfrey benefit from some time in the minors?

Pelfrey has always been a headcase, and the pressure of winning in New York could keep him from focusing on his mechanics. In AAA, against lesser competition and with less pressure to win, Pelfrey could take the time to get his head on straight.

The Mets have been notorious for rushing prospects to the majors and Pelfrey may be one of the worst cases. (ok, ok. Mejia was the worst case by far. I will never forgive Manuel for that) Without that time to develop, Pelfrey has continued to struggle. If that time could help Pelfrey realize his potential, it would be well worth it.

I can understand the counter arguments. He is still young and should be able to find his way in the majors. With the Mets still gunning for the Wild Card, they need him in their rotation as he has still given them innings and they don’t have many other options to fill out the rotation.

My point is, he has been given ample opportunities to correct his mistake and has yet to show that he can. He has glaring mechanical problems that have only gotten worse throughout the course of the season. He is a known headcase who unravels as things get harder. Trying to make this adjustment on a team in the middle of a playoff push is not conducive for Mike Pelfrey’s progression. This strategy has been used on veteran pitchers before. For example Steve Trachsel, Bobby Jones and even Roy Halladay have been sent down to the minors to refine their games. This strategy has worked for all three players.

At the end of the season the Mets have to decide if they want to tender Pelfrey, knowing he is likely going to get a raise. For a team looking to keep payroll down, they may not want to take the risk on a player who has consistently been unable to be a reliable major league pitcher. Sending him down to the minors now will give him a chance to refine his game and possibly make some September starts to show the Mets brass that he can be a front-end starter. Perhaps that seems a bit soon, but both Trachsel and Jones were able to make it back after only a few weeks.

Getting Pelfrey on track could be a major victory for a team that is looking to compete for a championship sooner rather than later.

Bittersweet

Today I was planning on writing a post on why I didn’t think the Mets HAD to trade Beltran. Well amid reports that the Mets will trade Beltran to the Giants for top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, I guess that post would be pretty useless.

First, let me just say that prying Wheeler from the Giants for a two month rental is a fantastic move for the Mets. Alderson has made all the right moves in his first season as general manager, and he has impressed me once again with this one. Wheeler is projected to be a top of the rotation starter, who could even turn into an ace. He throws a fastball, curveball and changeup. Both his fastball and curveball are expected to be plus pitches and his changeup should become an average to above average pitch. His big problem right now is his command, which can be erratic at times. He averages 10k/9IP, but also walks 4+ in that time. If he can correct the command issues he should be able to contribute to the majors by next season, or as a September call-up if the Mets fall far enough out of it. (though I wouldn’t count on either happening. I’d say he starts next season in AA and eventually makes his way to AAA with Harvey, Familia and Mejia. One of those four WILL make it to the majors next year)

So that is the sweet part. Now to look at the bitter. Ever since Beltran signed with the Mets he has been one of the Mets’ best players. He has added a huge lift to this lineup, and his presence in the lineup and clubhouse will be sorely missed. The young players clearly looked up to him and it will be interesting to see how his departure impacts them.

From a fan standpoint, it is devastating to see him leave. Like I mentioned before, he has easily been one of my favorite players. It is a shame we will not be able to see him in the Mets’ lineup again this season.

Looking forward to his impending free agency, it will be interesting to see if the Mets make a move for him. He is almost certain to test the free agent market, so the Mets will have a chance. Right now Lucas Duda has every opportunity to show the Mets brass that he should be the team’s right fielder next season, but if he fails to impress then your only other in-house options are Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Fernando Martinez. Both have the tools to be successful, but both have had injury problems. Martinez has had problems throughout his entire career, never lasting a full season without a setback, while Nieuwenhuis’ injury has sidelines him for the rest of this season. The point is, can you trust any of these three to be your starter opening day? Couple that with the reports that Angel Pagan may be non-tendered and the Mets have a glaring hole in the outfield. What are the chances the Mets decide re-signing Beltran in the offseason for two years? Let’s just say, as a big fan of Beltran’s, I hope it can work out.

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.

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.