Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bobby Abreu, the Ike Davis Trade, and A Camel's Broken Back

Bobby Abreu? Was he really the stick that broke the camel’s back on the Ike Davis trade? A trade that according to Mets GM Sandy Alderson had been in the works for the last eight months. Not this latest trade, specifically, between the Pittsburgh Pirates. But the idea of trading the former Mets first rounder, who was not only a helluva guy in the Mets clubhouse but a player you rooted for through thick and thin.

Listening to Alderson speak to reporters last Friday night after the trade between the Pirates had been officially consummated, it made you feel comfort in the fact that Lucas Duda is very similar to Ike Davis (with the exception of having your father as a former major leaguer, of course!). Also, Duda has a better chance of hitting left-handed pitching, and oh yeah, Bobby Abreu is, ahem, waiting in the wings. I mean, c'mon, doesn't it all make sense. Dave Hudgens, whom Abreu played under during Hudgens' tenure as manager of Caracas in the Venezuelan winter league, can vouch for the 40-year-old.

Doesn't it feel like sometimes the Mets front office genuinely cares about the fans best interest and sometimes the Mets front office doesn't genuinely care about the fans best interest? Wait, whaa?

Who wanted Curtis Granderson? The fans? If you ask WFAN's Mike Francesa, he'll say that he's slightly responsible for the Mets going all in on the power-hitting former Yankee, former Tiger outfielder. We can definitely pinpoint who wanted to sign Chris Young. What am I getting at here?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that Sandy Alderson and his company of lieutenants may have gotten more than bargained for by taking over the Mets back in 2010. For the last four seasons, nothing has really changed. The pitching has stayed steady, the offense has floundered, and hell, Terry Collins is still the Mets skipper. Not to mention that Alderson's moves have left you confused and scratching your head. What ever happened to Vic Black? You know, one of the guys the Mets acquired in the Marlon Byrd trade. Oh yeah, he's in AAA Las Vegas. I'll admit, Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran so far looks promising.

But if Ike Davis follows in the foot steps of Atlanta's Freddie Freeman for the next four or five weeks and Bobby Abreu pulls his groin running out a ground ball, one would have to wonder who's running the controls over there in Flushing, a savior or just a camel who's just broken his back.    

  
 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Forget The Bullpen, Mets Need Offense to Step It Up

Other then the majestic blasts of Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda, Ike Davis, etc., the Mets offense can easily find itself at a Stop Sign waving the other cars on.

In the bottom of the 3rd inning of today's 2-1 loss to the Reds, the Mets had men on second and third, with one out. Daniel Murphy and David Wright due up, the meat of the order. Conclusion? Two strikeouts, back-to-back. Even Cincinnati's starting pitcher, Alfredo Simon, was able to muster up a base hit.

The bullpen will hopefully work it's way back. But if the Mets can't score many runs, well, they won't win many games.
 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Playing Pepper 2014 With Cardinal 70

For the past several seasons, Daniel Shoptaw of the St. Louis Cardinals' blog, Cardinal70, has asked me to participate in his Playing Pepper series. Well, this year is no different.

Below are my answers to this season's questions concerning the New York Mets. In addition, to my responses, six other Mets bloggers gave their opinions as well. You can check out their responses and Daniel's link via the Cardinal Conclave.

Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section below. Lets Go Mets!

1) How would you grade the offseason?

The important thing during this latest offseason for the Mets is not the quality of player but the fact that the Mets can actually spend some legitimate mullah.

Mets fans were screaming bloody murder when Sandy Alderson signed a .235 career hitter in OF Chris Young. ‘Why would he give a fourth outfielder $7M?’ they asked. I guess Alderson is hoping that Young will be this year’s Marlon Byrd. 

Outfielder Curtis Granderson who will give the Mets some legitimate pop and journeyman right-hander Bartolo Colon who will be asked to anchor the back of their young rotation were both good signings in my opinion. In terms of bullpen help, veteran right-handers Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth, who both signed minor-league deals, are hoping for one more bolt of lightning in a bottle.

In terms of a grade, I would have to say, (emo-con – slightly pleased)

2) Can Zack Wheeler step up and fill the gap left by Matt Harvey’s surgery?

He’ll definitely fulfill the anticipation factor that Harvey brought every fifth start. Wheeler’s rookie season consisted of seventeen starts (7-5, 3.42 ERA, 84 K in 100 IP) was a learning experience. I’ll be the first to say it, “I‘ll make sure to catch every one of Wheeler’s starts this season.”

3) Which roster battle will be the most intriguing during spring training?

Not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it seems that the Mets have a variety of roster battles. Most notably, the first base position. It’s pretty funny when a right-handed-hitting platoon player, Josh Satin, has already received a green light from his manager that he’ll make the big club come Opening Day backing up either Lucas Duda or Ike Davis, who both face a stint at Triple-A if they’re not chosen to participate on March 31st.    

4) What rookie, if any, will make the most impact on the team in 2014?

My hope is that Travis D’Arnaud makes the biggest splash this season, however, young right-hander Noah Syndergaard is the one that’s on all Mets fans’ radar.

5) What will be the final record of the team and where will they finish in the division?

Vegas has the Mets over-under at 72.5 games. Sandy Alderson has been feeling giddy lately and has projected his $87M Mets can win 90 games. So, I’ll just meet somewhere in the middle and say 81.25 games. Finishing up at .500 would be an improvement.

6) Which player from your team do you most enjoy watching?
I like Daniel Murphy because I know if there’s ducks on the pond and he’s up, there’s a chance that he’s going to come through in the clutch. Plus, he adds some comic relief with his mental lapses on the base paths and he lackluster, at times, defense at second base.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Should Mets Opt-Out On Stephen Drew?

With the start of Spring Training fast approaching, some valuable free agents still linger. One of those being 30-year-old shortstop Stephen Drew.

It's no secret that the Mets front office has not been enchanted with the idea of Ruben Tejada as their starting shortstop. However, Drew is reportedly asking for at least $10M a year, a three-year commitment, and an opt-out clause after one year. Tejada would most likely cost much less. However,Drew's value would likely add three more wins.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Keeping Wright Healthy for 2014 Critical to Mets

'Remarkably durable over his last seven seasons, Wright has averaged 123 games per year since 2011.'

Mets.com's Anthony DiComo writes in his recent take on the projected corner infielders for the Mets.

We need close to a full season from David Wright if the Mets are to become serious contenders for 2014.

Without Wright in the lineup, the Mets offense becomes very weak and not so intimidating. That said Ike Davis, the projected starting first baseman, needs a breakout season in the worst way to provide much-needed protection for Wright.

Harvey's Rehab Going Smoothly

Mets ace Matt Harvey, who's coming off October elbow surgery, is making good progress and expects to begin throwing in two weeks.

"I haven't had any setbacks," Harvey told the NY Post. "I can't wait. I just want to pick up a ball."

Harvey intends to report to Spring Training on February 15th, along with the other Mets pitchers and catchers.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Wright on the DL, Six-Man Rotation On-Hold, and Wilmer Flores

Listening to Terry Collins' post-game last night, he was obviously distraught. Perhaps feeling guilty that he didn't address David Wright's ailment sooner. Or maybe the real reason for his abrupt comments after the game stemmed from the fact that his 6-man rotation experiment was thwarted once again. When asked, "Who's pitching tom'row?" (meaning Saturday), Collins snapped, "Hefner."

As for Wilmer Flores, he doesn't have an exact position on defense and as one tweeter suggested, the Mets may want to keep his trade value high by leaving him down on the farm where he has excelled offensively. Right now he's a solid prospect, exposing him too soon to the majors where he could falter in a short stint may move teams to write him off as a bonafide big leaguer much quicker.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Alderson Makes Clear, Changes Are Not Staff Related

Mets GM Sandy Alderson is frustrated and he's sure Mets fans are frustrated, too. Up until Saturday's 20-inning marathon loss to the Miami Marlins, the front office of the Mets have given their players the benefit of the doubt that they'll be able to right the ship. A little over 24-hours has passed since that dreadful loss and Alderson's approach has drastically changed.

Ike Davis, Mike Baxter, and Robert Carson have been demoted to Las Vegas making way for Josh Satin, Josh Edgin, and Colin Cowgill. Nothing to really get excited about. Two-thirds of this trio have already had their share of trials and tribulations earlier in the season. Edgin and Cowgill made the Opening Day roster but weren't able to stick. As for Satin, he's a 28-yr-old minor leaguer still trying to prove that he belongs on an MLB roster. So why the change in personnel?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Lost Weekend for the Mets

Who are these Marlins? Marcell Ozuna, not yet a household name, is one of them. These Marlins don't roll over and boy can they hit. With 16 hits on Sunday, 10 of those hits against phenom Matt Harvey, the Marlins are good. When they play the Mets that is. The Marlins now have 16 victories, 6 of them against the Mets.

When the most entertaining aspect of a 3-game series occurs when Keith Hernandez blurts out from his microphone, "my pencil disappeared," during Sunday's broadcast you can imagine what transpired in Miami this weekend. Maybe the Mets were trying to save their precious 1962 season of futility when they lost 120 games. With this weekend's sweep of the Mets by the Marlins, Miami's pursuit of that record has been derailed at the moment.

I've said it before with this Mets team and I'll say it again. To find any enjoyment from this season you're going to have to find small positives to get you by. Ike Davis had a solid 2-for-4 with a HR and 3 RBI.

Mets have now lost 3 after winning 5. Ouch!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mets Pitching the Obvious Culprit In Latest Loss

After reading about how the Mets top prospect, Zack Wheeler, struggled in his last AAA start, my concerns regarding the future and current state of the Mets pitching staff have begun to grow worrisome. With RHP Shaun Marcum's return to the starting rotation in limbo and current fourth and fifth starters, RH Jeremy Hefner and LH Aaron Laffey, respectively, unable to show any signs that they belong at the major-league level, the thought of a strong Mets pitching staff this season is a definite long shot.

Earlier today, Hefner and Laffey's sub-par performances against the Washington Nationals pretty much reinforced that point. Hefner was lifted for a pinch-hitter, Ruben Tejada, in the bottom of the fourth after giving up 3 runs on 4 hits, two of those hits being home runs, raising his earned run average on the young season to 7.07. The decision to pinch-hit for Hefner paid off for manager Terry Collins. Tejada would eventually work out a walk and prolong the inning allowing Tejada to score one of the Mets five runs that inning that gave the Mets a 5-3 lead.

With the Mets now on top, Collins would hand the ball off to Laffey hoping to keep the game in check.That theory would prove to be wishful thinking as the southpaw would go on to surrender a three-run homer to Nats first baseman, Adam LaRoche, in the top of the fifth inning, putting Washington up 6-5. (Laffey's pitching line today, 0.2 IP - 2 hits - 3 runs - 3 ER - BB - HR - 7.20 ERA)

The Mets would go on to tie the score at six in the bottom of the seventh on John Buck's 21st RBI only to see that lead evaporate when reliever Josh Edgin coughed up a solo shot to Bryce Harper in the top of the eighth inning putting the Nats up to stay, 7-6.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Matt Harvey Deserves A Nickname

With all the comparisons of late that Matt Harvey has the mental make-up and talent to become the next Tom Seaver, Mets fans are beginning to wonder if perhaps their current young hard-throwing right-hander is ready for a nickname. Tom Seaver earned himself two nicknames throughout his Hall-of-Fame-career: "The Franchise" and "Tom Terrific". Another dominating Mets right-hander, Dwight Gooden, eventually was known simply as "Doc" or "Dr. K."

There have been many others, popular Mets pitchers, who adopted creative monikers that stuck. David Cone was referred to as "Coney" and Sid Fernandez earned the right to be called "El Sid". There was "El Duque" for the age-less Orlando Hernandez and "Kooz" for Jerry Koosman, who without a doubt was part of that one-two punch along with Seaver of those late-sixties, early-seventies Mets teams.

Francisco Rodriguez enjoyed a hyphenated alias as "K-Rod" and the originator of "Ya Gotta Believe," Tug McGraw, was known to fellow teammates simply as just "Tug,"- how he arrived at that nickname is another story altogether.

There were also others like John Candelaria who started just three games for the Mets back in 1988, having acquired the nickname "The Candy Man," and Frank Viola, who enjoyed some success as a member of the Mets as well as one of the more clever nicknames with "Sweet Music." For the more contemporary New York Mets fan, there's "Big Game Ollie" for the enigmatic left-hander Oliver Perez and "Big Pelf" for 6'7" Mike Pelfrey.

So I ask you, what nickname would you give to Harvey? I have already toyed with, "Matt the Magnificent." Not bad? Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Santana's Farewell May Be Sooner Than Expected

Coming into the 2013 season, we all knew that this would most likely be Johan Santana's last year with the Mets. However, the likelihood of the left-hander's presence on the Mets Opening Day roster has taken a crucial blow this weekend. You can pretty much sense it by what's been written about in the last 24 to 48 hours.

No telling when Mets Santana will be ready to pitch again...NY Post (Dan Martin)

"I just don't know when I'm gonna be pitching again, coming into Spring Training I felt great...I was very excited about it and then everything changed in whatever, a few days."

Martin writes that Santana had no regrets about stepping on the mound March 3, the day after GM Sandy Alderson doubted his offseason workout program.

Johan unsure when he'll return to the mound...mets.com (Anthony DiComo)

Santana insisted that he is not worried about missing a significant chunk of the regular season. "It's not as strong," Santana said of his shoulder, "I'm just building up my strength."

DiComo writes that Santana's decision not to participate in any pitching activity after the offseason, opting instead to rest his shoulder may have led to the present state that Santana now finds himself in.

NY Mets ace Johan Santana sounds resigned to an extended rehab in Florida, admits shoulder 'not feeling good'...NY Daily News (Kristie Ackert)

"Every day we make sure that we have a good day so tomorrow we come back and do it again until we can do it without any problems."

Ackert writes that Santana is only doing loss toss at 90 feet. Before he would get on a mound, he would need to feel strong at almost double that distance.

"It is slower but I am making progress, we'll see," Santana said. "Right now I'm just building up and go one day at a time."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Byrd Could Be Answer for Mets Outfield in 2013

At 35, Marlon Byrd has accepted his mistakes and can only hope that his next opportunity with the NY Mets will be one of redemption and not of folly. Byrd's career took a humiliating turn when it was found that he had dabbled in the not-so-glamorous world of Major League Baseball's banned substances which eventually landed him with a 50-game suspension. Byrd was caught taking Tomoxifen which is not a performance-enhancing drug but aids in the prevention of breast tissue growth in men and also stops post-cycle crashes that stem from steroid use.

"It was something stupid," Byrd said. "Whether I was trying to cheat or was not trying to cheat, it was a banned substance. It was not a steroid. But, again, you take something on the banned list you're going to get caught. As simple as that."

Byrd technically didn't miss any major league games last year because he had been released by the Boston Red Sox prior to his suspension. MLB decided to honor his absence from the game as compensation for the suspension. Byrd will be allowed to play at the start of the 2013 season granted he makes the opening day roster for the Mets.

If he's able to return to the All-Star form of 2010 which produced 170 hits leading to a .293 batting average for the Chicago Cubs, Byrd could be a very interesting story line for the Mets this season. Byrd also had 39 doubles, 12 home runs, and a .346 on-base percentage that year while playing in 152 games.

For a team like the Mets who are desperate for veteran help in their outfield, Byrd could be the perfect match as an everyday player in right field or even center field. Mets manager Terry Collins doesn't just see Byrd as a platoon player, he feels that the veteran outfielder could very well land a spot as an permanent fixture in his outfield.

"If you're talking about a guy who's in this camp who has a chance to make a huge difference, it might be Marlon Byrd," Collins said. "This guy was one of the best players in the National League not too long ago. If he's the same player he was in Chicago, we may have found ourselves a right fielder."