Tuesday, September 27, 2011

2011 Season in Review-Ups and Downs

As I type, there are 15 innings (regularly scheduled innings) left in 2011. So, barring any major developments in the last two games (going out on a limb here), let me share my perspective on the three highest and lowest moments of 2011.

Lows

3. September 15th- Mets complete a home stand by losing to the Nationals, their record on the home stand falls to 1-8. TC blows up after the game, saying the team had "folded it up". They looked like they had folded, and this conjured up many bad September memories.

2. May 11th- On a seemingly innocent night in Colorado, Davis and Wright collide, in what appeared to be innocuous fashion. The collision cost Ike Davis his season, and may have exacerbated an injury to DW, putting him on the shelf for 2 months. Mets did win the game, though.

1. August 7th- Mets lose to Braves, in what was billed as a series for wild card positioning. Mets lost 2 of 3, but lost Murphy for the year, and Reyes for 3 weeks. The team never recovered, and sank out of contention from there.

Highs

3. April 26th- Mets beat Nationals for their 6th in a row, moving to 11-13, after starting 5-13. At this early point of the season, hope was being restored. The Mets showed us that they had something, we were not sure what, but something.

2. July 3rd- Mets beat the Evil Empire in 10, after being down a run, with two outs and nobody on against Rivera in the bottom of the 9th. Jason Bay begins the tying rally with a walk, and ends the game with a bases-loaded single in the 10th. This evens their record at .500.

1. July 29th- Mets beat the Nationals, for their 5th in a row, all on the road. Mets go to 4 over .500, the high-water mark of the year. They also trail the Braves by 4 in the wild card race, and we start to ask ourselves, "Can they really do this"?

Other news:

TC's option is picked up for 2013, good move, the team responded to him, and he's beginning to change the culture.


It's the end. It's sad on the one hand. On the other, this can't continue. They need to continue to change the culture, and strategically shed elements of the old. That is what the winter will be all about. I'll have plenty to say as it unfolds.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Who really is Santa Claus? It's Sandy Alderson!

Sandy (Claus) Alderson was on the Mets broadcast Tuesday night. He was also on with Mike Francesa Wednesday afternoon. Sandy revealed his secret identity during these interviews. In reality, our GM is Santa Claus! You see, Sandy loves to give gifts to people, most of whom wear the opposing uniform at Citi Field. Let's look at his plan for 2012.

Sandy (whom I like and respect) wants to bring the fences in at Citi, and lower the left field wall. This will achieve his intended result of increasing the number of home runs at Citi. So, it all sounds good...so far. Here's the problem. The Mets have the 7th WORST staff ERA in baseball. Sandy has repeatedly stated that, for the most part, the starters will be the same crew next year. So, Sandy wants to make the ballpark more hitter-friendly, with a bad staff on his team. Who benefits here...why, the other team, of course! It'll be Christmas from April-October in Flushing!

Sandy also said that the cavernous dimensions at Citi have forced Bay and Wright to alter their swings, and take this un-natural approach on the road. This results in lower power numbers across the board. DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! This sounds to me like Omar's hobby of excuse- making. My opinion? Good players win, no matter where they play. Let's flip Sandy's logic. His logic would suggest that pitchers cannot thrive in smaller ballparks. Well, Clemens did, Jenkins did, Ojeda did (Fenway), and Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels, and Lee do! Here's the point. If our players are so mentally fragile that they get freaked out by the park, change the players, not the park.

Other comments from Sandy...October is "Reyes month"....payroll set to be $110M or so...the closer is not currently in the organization (YAY!)...and some of the players need to develop into better players, since outside reinforcements are not always available. Finally, he made a throw-away comment that I found interesting. He said, "Duda may not be in RF next year". Well, that leaves LF (Bay isn't going anywhere) and 1B (does Sandy doubt Ike's return)?

Next post will be the three high points and low points from 2011.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

How come their guy is better than our guy?

As I watched the Nats dismantle the lifeless Mets this week, I became fascinated with their closer, Drew Storen. Storen is 24, and has 37 saves. Our guy, Bobby Parnell, is 27. He has been in the majors (with some temporary demotions) since 9/1/2008. Parnell has 5 saves in 10 chances, and 6 saves in his career. To be fair, Parnell has had stints as a middle reliever and closer. So why is Storen so much more successful?

Storen throws hard (94-95). Parnell throws harder (100). Both have tendencies to walk people (Storen walked the tying runs on base Monday and Wednesday). Storen, though, works out of trouble. He does so by mixing in breaking pitches, and hitting spots with his fastball. Storen knows where a hitter's weak spots are, and exploits them (i.e. Duda on curves down and in). Parnell does not work out of trouble. He panics, and throws pitches down the middle, thinking velocity will save him. It doesn't. He has yet to learn this, after far too many experiences to make the recidivism accountable to youth.

So, for Parnell, is the problem Warthen? The catchers? Bobby himself? I don't know, but what I do know is that when someone "has it" (Storen), you know, and when someone doesn't (Parnell), you know. In the latter case, you have wounds to prove it.

Other thoughts:

TC went bonkers today, saying the players have "folded it up". He also said that the fans have a right to be angry. Yes, TC, we are, and we do.

He also said that we'll see him being feisty over the next two weeks. That's fine, but will that win games? With 12 left, can they win 4? 5?

I love the baseball season, but I've had enough. This is the most painful one since 2007. Even in 2007, the pain lasted about 3 weeks. This has been a grind. It's been torture. We've been teased with hope, only to have reality bite. The off season will be interesting. They may get worse, if Reyes goes, and the money is not re-invested. We have no way of knowing. All we can do is watch, pay, hope, and take the punches to the gut.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

STOP THE PARNELL EXPERIMENT NOW!

Today, the Mets lost to the Cubs 5-4 at Citi. The Mets battled back from 3-0 in the bottom of the 8th, to take a 4-3 lead. That lead was given away by Bobby Parnell in the top of the 9th, as the Cubs scored two, and went on to win. Why is this important, in a season where 3rd place is the only goal that remains?

Bobby Parnell blew his 5th save in 10 chances. The experiment with him as closer is not working. We, the fans, see it. Bobby O sees it, and says so during the post game shows. Why don't the Mets see it? You know what's alarming? Some the comments I just watched on Mets.com (I was at the game). To be fair, the ninth opened with DW muffing a ground ball. But to hear, "they found holes, we got three grounders and strikeout..." The players, and perhaps the organization, are making excuses for Parnell. The reality is that after the error by DW, Parnell gave up an opposite field double to Babe Ruth clone Bryan LeHair, which hit the LF wall on the fly. That's inexcusable. After the double, Chicago had runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs. They took the lead on a Ramirez single.

Losses like this (which was similar to the game Parnell blew last Saturday to Washington) are demoralizing. They demoralize the players, and more importantly, the fans. This is a time when the Mets sorely need to develop equity with the fan base, and kicking them in the teeth is no way to do it. We are smart fans. We understand sacrificing today to learn about what you do and don't have, and develop for the future. But, at this point, Parnell has shown nothing. There's no grit. There's no guile. There's no swagger. There's no confidence. No one is benefiting from this experiment.

It's time that the organization wakes up, and sees it for what it is. Give Acosta a shot. He's young, too. He's shown some heart, some grit, some guile. He also has great stuff. Why are we frittering away games? The lesson has been learned. It's very clear. Parnell IS NOT the next closer. It's ok to find out who is. Use Stinson. Use Herrera, if you wish. But PLEASE, stop this Parnell thing now. You're not doing yourselves, or your fans, any favors.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Give this man a high five

We're down to 2 dozen games left in 2011, and it's time. It's time to stand up, and give a high five, a claw, a spotlight, whatever it is, to Terry Collins. Here's a guy we knew little about in November of 2010 when he was tapped to run this team. We started to hear about "being too intense", "alienating players", etc. Well, let's take a look at what TC has done.

The team was positive during spring training, despite not having an ace starter (and we know he was shooting sunshine at Pelfrey when TC named Pelfrey the "number 1"). Then, they stumbled badly, going 5-13, and it looked like 1979 all over. But they came back, played exciting baseball, and hit .500 in late June. Then, TC loses his all-star RF and his closer, and what happens? The team ascends to 4 games over .500, and there's talk of wild-card contention. After that, they hit the abyss, and it looked like it was time to play out the string. But TC would have none of it. They've rallied, looked feisty, and are within 2 of .500. Go on Twitter some night during a game. The fans are still engaged, and hopeful for better days ahead.

Today, TC says he wants his staff back in 2012. This coming from a guy whose contract expires after 2012, and deserves an extension now, so that distraction isn't hanging over the team next year. I'd bring the coaches back, but may have to think a bit about Warthen. The regression of Pelfrey, and stalled development of Parnell may give me pause there.

Speaking of Parnell, Ojeda says the experiment as closer isn't working. I agree. Notice Parnell's pitching pattern. It's the same to all hitters. Fastball anywhere from mid-plate to outside, and sliders off the plate away. I'm no coach, but it would seem Parnell needs to work inside more often. He gets no help from the catchers, either (a position sorely in need of upgrade). Interestingly, Parnell was effective pitching to Nickeas yesterday, no surprise there.

Final thought-Pelfrey has good stuff. Yesterday, he was at 97, and moving the ball around (sometimes not by choice, but whatever). He also has 4 pitches. So, why do hitters hang in there, and foul off so many, leading to these 9 pitch ABs, and a Pelf pitch count at 100 in the 5th? Is he tipping his pitches? Think about this, too. His best game was June 18th vs. the Angels, a team that rarely sees him. What do you think?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bye bye, $200,000,000

The Wilpons say Einhorn is out, and there go some serious Benjamins. In the official opinion of this blog, here's what this means:

The Wilpons will maintain ownership for the near term, and maybe the long term. Now, unlike many, I don't think the Wilpons are bad owners. They've made some questionable hires (O-M-A-R), but when owners spend $140MM, how can we complain about that? What we can do is beg them to continue hiring the right people (which it seems they have been lately), and cut bait when necessary (which they did not do with Omar, who should have been out after 2009).

Reyes-I received many texts yesterday, mostly saying "Reyes is gone" because of the Einhorn situation. I don't think so. If both sides are reasonable, and no one offers Reyes "silly money" (to use Gary Cohen's term), I think Jose will be back. Sandy has seen the value. Jose came back Monday, the Mets have won 6 of 7. Don't need to be a Harvard grad to see this one.

Other- Sandy says payroll at $100-$110 million next year. Everyone freaks out. Folks, do you really think he's going to tells us exactly what he and Jeff are discussing? Do you make room that there's some posturing in here, maybe some "under promise and over deliver"?

We're down to 27 games left. It's been a wild ride. 5-13, to 4 games over .500 and talk of wild card, to a seeming collapse, to a revival, and throw in finances and Reyes. At this point, I usually look forward to the end, I feel like I need a break. But then I think about the off season, and how I live for articles and speculation.

I love baseball.