Saturday, March 31, 2012

Time for my prediction

It's the last day of March. Spring training will be over in 4 days. The Mets have posted a 7-17-2 record in 26 Grapefruit League games (but we're not worried, right?). It all begins for real on Thursday (I'll be there, how about you?). Having muddled through the loss of Reyes, the restructuring of the bullpen, the Santana saga, and having watched the team for the last month, I feel ready to make my Mets prediction for the year. Last year, I predicted 83-79, and I was off by 5 wins. I think that's one standard deviation hehe). In 2012, the Mets will be 71-91. Here's my rationale.

Starting pitching: Johan is ready to go after his simulated game today, according to David Lennon. I think the starting pitching may be the strength of the team. Dickey will be solid (I bought the book today). I think Niese will have a solid year, and I think that Pelfrey will not. I think Gee will struggle, too. Gee simply does not have good enough stuff to survive once teams see his repertoire. I don't think Johan will be traded, because no one will take the contract of a guy who makes that much, and the Mets cannot pick up a substantial part of the contract. So, I will give the starting pitching a B-.

Infield: Ah, the problems begin. Ike will be fine. Murphy is not a 2B. If you have watched this spring, you know what I mean. Having weak D at 2B is not a good idea. Nor is learning a middle-infield position on the big-league level (remember when Ron Gant went to AA to do so?). Murphy will hit, but the double plays not turned in the third inning will cost the Mets ball games. It's reality, folks. Accept it. Tejada is someone who just does not work for me. He seems lazy to me (did you see him Tuesday night on back-to-back balls in the first inning?). I think Tejada may hit more than some expect, but people who say he may be better on D than Reyes are insane. I think Wright will have a decent year, and not be traded. Citi Field would be torched like Sherman did to Atlanta. Grade- C+.

Outfield: More problems. I like Bay, and want to believe he'll have a comeback year. But....YIKES. He looks awful. He looks more lost than ever. Center is still a question mark. Not only is Torres hurt, but is really an everyday CF? His .319 OBP is certainly cause for concern for a leadoff hitter. Is Hairston really the answer of Torres struggles? Duda will hit some prodigious HRs. He will hit lefties and righties. He will struggle in RF (can't deny that). Grade- C.

Bullpen: I'm scared. I was hoping for an improved pen. I have always liked Ramirez. But he has not looked good. Rauch looks very hittable. And Francisco looks awful. He is throwing in the mid 80s, and I'm still shocked that a closer can't throw the ball to the bases. Parnell's strong spring is the worst thing that could have happened. He'll make the team (FML) and then he'll be Parnell. Byrdak will be fine, and Herrara is an adequate fill in. Grade- C-

Catcher: I'm no Thole fan, and at his best he will be adequate. I wonder if he'll ever even be that. I like Nickeas (he's my current-day Duffy Dyer). The organization needs to address this position. Grade- D

Bench: Turner is adequate. Hairston will be adequate if healthy. I wonder about Baxter (though I'm glad it's not Loewen). Cedeno is your quintessential backup infielder, who can play anywhere, but not hit much. Grade- C

Looking at and weighting the grades above, I come up with a C/C- average. Hence, my 71-91 prediction. Also consider that the division is tough.

I hope I'm wrong. And who cares anyway? The season starts Thursday, so even Nostradamus's predictions are nothing more than speculation.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

How about giving this guy a shot?

Happy St. Patrick's Day! With the news that Byrdak needs surgery (I'm shocked!!) and will be out until at least late April (August in Mets parlance), the Mets are looking for a situational lefty. They have some candidates in camp, none of whom will make you forget Ricky Horton. Chuck James (not Rick James), Garrett Olson, and Josh Edgin are the leading candidates. I'm not a fan of either of the first two, and I like Edgin. He has good stuff. The only problem with him is that he has very little experience above single A. Hence, I introduce you to the recently released Dontrelle Willis. He'd come inexpensively, he knows the NL (particularly the NL east), and he is quite tough on lefties (he can hit, too, but I digress). I'm all about giving young guys a shot, but I'm not sure the internal candidates are worthy of that. Why not give D Train a look? If he fails, release him. Thoughts?

I like Jordanny Valdespin. How long is it going to be until he gets a shot? He's a more dynamic player than Tejada, and Valdespin's speed would be welcome at the top of the lineup. Rather than rushing a guy like Edgin, I'd like to see Valdespin get a shot to come north. I believe the Murphy experiment will not be a success. He looked dreadful in the field yesterday. For the life of me, I can't understand the fascination the Mets have with playing guys out of position. Hundley, Piazza, HoJo in center, etc. were all failures. I've already made my point on Duda. I like Murphy a lot. But the Mets may need to come to the realization that unless he's here to take over 3B (which is possible), his best value may be in a trade to an AL team to bring back a piece or two.

While I like to ignore the existence of the NYY, I feel obliged to mention them. Yesterday, it was announced that Pettitte is attempting a comeback. I have always felt that Pettitte was a HUGE phony. I'm now convinced that he is the biggest phony is baseball. He drones on about wanting to be close to family. He talks about his religious beliefs. What does the guy do? HE CHEATS by taking steroids (claiming it was "medicinal"), then all of sudden, his need to be near family is no more, he wants back into the game. Contrast this to Tebow. Say what you want, Tebow lives what he preaches. This man does oodles of charity work and donates huge sums to help people. Maybe Andy can learn something from Tim. It's not about commercials and words, it's about actions. Pettitte, in my mind, is one enormous hypocrite.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The most important person in PSL

You can't make this stuff up. The Mets have been beset by injuries for quite some time (the last 4 years), but now it's starting in spring training. Seriously? Let's take inventory....

Wright- oblique, was supposed to miss 2 days and play in the opener on March 5th. He has yet to play, and will not until at least St. Patrick's Day. His spring training is down to a little over two weeks at most, for a guy who missed more than a third of last season.

Hairston- the oblique from 6 months ago is back. He never even played a spring training game. There's already talk he starts the season on the DL.

Davis- the Valley Fever thing is beyond words. He may miss nothing, he may miss the season. Oh no? Ask Conor Jackson about Valley Fever.

Duda- stiff back, may play Sunday, may need surgery, who knows? (The second part is sarcasm). Who's next?

 Let's take a look at what else is happening. Chris Young will likely be back, and I like that. He can provide the type of depth they're seeking for the inevitable injuries to the staff. He's a smart pitcher, who can get by with guile. CJ Nitkowski, who hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2005, had a tryout. I don't get it. Why not give Robert Carson a shot as the second lefty out of the pen? And while I'm at it, I'm all for a youth movement where available talent justifies it. Jordanny Valedespin is an exciting player. As a 2B with outstanding speed and power (17 HR last year at AA and AAA), he may have a future with the club. I wouldn't mind seeing Valdespin and Tejada turn some DPs later this year. I like Murphy and want him on the team, but not at 2B. I'm not sure where he fits, but it would be hard to part with that bat. I hope he's not the backup plan for a trade of Wright. Nieuwenhuis may have a real shot at coming north. I'd prefer to see him make the team rather than Loewen, who is Rick Ankiel, but with less talent.

Back to the original point, injuries. Tomorrow is a big day, as Johan takes another step in his rehab. So far, he's on schedule, but he's a Met. He's been injured. These two things together don't often add up to success. We'll see how he fares this week. And speaking of Mets and injuries, the first player Johan will face tomorrow is none other than Jose Reyes. A couple of interesting story lines taking place so early in spring training. Too bad one of them is based in an injury.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Easy on the Duda love, Mets fans

It's that lull in the action now. We were excited for Ps and Cs, and they arrived. Then, we were excited for a full squad work out, and it came this week. Now, we're looking for something, anything, to talk about before the games start on Monday. It seems that Paul Bunyon, aka Lucas Duda, is the talk of Port Saint Lucie. That's fine. Let's look at what Duda is. He's a strapping guy, with tremendous power, who actually shows an ability to give quality ABs (thereby separating from Kingman), and take the ball the other way with success. His BP session this week produced raves (I told you it was a slow news time). Yes, Lucas Duda has power and is worth watching. But, really, folks? Now it's wet blanket time. The guy has 14 career HRs (10 last year), and has played in 129 games. NL pitchers have yet to adjust to him. He's going to be playing a position that is, and should be, foreign to him. He's a "plow horse", to use Keith's term. He is a downgrade, and a significant one, from Beltran. I hope he does well. I want to be wrong, and I'd love to see him go out and put up 35 HRs and hit .280.  But 129 games does not mean this will happen. Remember Butch Huskey? He hit balls out of sight too. He was a strapping guy with amazing power....I have been saying, and continue to say, there's no room for Duda and Davis. Trade one for a young, athletic OF, and make the other the 1B.

Other news from PSL...uh-oh, danger Will Robinson! David Wright is not playing in today's intra-squad game due to "stiffness in his left side". This could be nothing, as DW promises us it is. Or, we all know what strained obliques do to players, right, Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan?

TC says Parnell is not a lock for the bullpen, that Parnell will have to "earn it". I will be dropping extra in the collection basket tonight, hoping that Bobby does not "earn it" and has an opportunity to enjoy genuine Buffalo wings this summer.

On more hat tip to The Kranepool Society for the post on the passing of Davey Jones. Steve points out that the Monkees were, in their day, top-notch entertainers and links to some videos. Yes, in the context of today, they may seem "inadequate". But they were MTV before there was MTV. RIP, Davey. While I'm at it, please read A Gal for All Seasons's "Married to the Mets" posts. They say it all. Good work, Coop. And finally, Studious Metsimus has a great series on Mets one-year wonders, and Bret Saberhagen's high school picture. That alone is worth the read!

The above mentioned folks and I will be on the bridge (Shea, not Whitestone) on opening day, about 12 or so. Let me know if you'd like to join the fun and toast the new season with us!