Friday, August 31, 2012

Time to see this guy again

Mets/Marlins as the season winds down...somehow those words imply "Post Traumatic Mets Disorder", as so aptly coined by the one and only Coop. However, this year we don't have to worry about the Marlins sticking it to the Mets and ending our hopes and dreams (unless you dream of not finishing last). This matchup actually offers little. The Marlins have dismantled a house built on a shaky foundation, and the Mets have settled into the type of team that many fans, and all critics, thought they would be. So, where's the intrigue this Labor Day weekend?

I'm still not over the decision to let Reyes walk. Many fans pound their chests and say, "we don't need him. Tejada is having a better year." Really? Reyes is at .283, 11 HR, and 29 SB. Tejada is hitting .295, 1 HR and 2 SB. Yes, Tejada has a higher average. But over and above the other stats, folks, rely on your eyes. Is Tejada the impact player that Reyes is? Do the Mets have a leadoff hitter? No and no. I just don't get it when Mets fans act like Reyes is not missed, and absurdly point to taking himself out of the last game last year. Here's the fact-Reyes is a dynamic player who created a huge hole when he left. The hole has not been filled, and the team is worse for it. I like Tejada. I think Tejada's best defensive position is 2B, and I would have liked to see Tejada and Reyes up the middle this year and into the future. Alas, there's my intrigue for what otherwise is a ho-hum late-summer series in Miami.

It was nice to take two of three from the Phillies, only because it's always nice to take two of three from the Phillies. A few things came out in that series. Matt Harvey looks like the real deal. I'm not talking about the numbers. Just watch that kid. He pitches with guts and some anger. Those are two elements that have been sorely lacking from this team for too long. Thole is now 0 for his last 4,000 (or something like that). He needs to go, and don't talk about his April. He does nothing to contribute on offense or defense. Duda had a nice game on Wednesday, with a HR and a nice play in LF. That's fine, I hope it raises his trade value, and I hope the same can be said for Parnell's outing on Wednesday.

Here's how I'm looking at the last 31. The Mets need to ask themselves if players are winners or not, and if they can be pieces on which to build into contender. I have some definite "no" answers. Among them are Thole, Duda, and Parnell. These guys may show occasional flashes, but do you really think a team can win with them? I don't.

Reyes and player evaluation...making my own intrigue for a sad end to the season.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sandy has been talking-I'm skeptical

Last week (the day before Francesa's rant), Sandy Alderson was on the radio with Mike. Yesterday, 8/26, the Mets held an event for ticket plan holders, and Sandy spoke to the paying faithful (sadly, I could not attend due to a family commitment). To Sandy's credit, he was remarkably consistent in his words. However, I wonder if consistency is a good thing with Mr. Alderson. Take a look at his words regarding the contract situations with David Wright and RA Dickey, from ESPN New York:

"I fully expect that David Wright and R.A. Dickey will be here not only next year, but long term," Alderson said during a question-and-answers session with season-ticket holders before the Mets faced the Astros on Sunday. "As you all know, we have options on both those players and it's not our intention to simply rely on those options and go into next season and deal with their free agency after 2013. We're going to deal with it up front while we still have a little bit of room to maneuver.
"But we're committed to trying to bring those two back. I hope they'll both be back and I'm excited about the possibilities they will be."
Beware, folks. This is the same guy who said that signing Reyes would be his number one priority over last winter. We all know that he never intended to sign Reyes, evidenced by the lack of an offer. I wonder what his real intentions are with Dickey and Wright. A big part of me says that Sandy is once again appeasing the fans, while privately telling ownership that letting them walk is the right thing to do. 
After all, you could get 3 decent players for the roughtly $18 million per year Wright will cost. And we all know Wright is not a superstar, right, Mr. Wilpon? And Dickey? Great guy, but at 38, and a knuckleballer, he's too risky. Spend the $8 million or so he'd cost on a guy with a high OBP. 
Sandy will continue to tell us what we want to hear, all the while having his secret strategy. I actually don't disagree that you could make a case for letting DW walk and re-investing the money. But I think we're all savvy to Sandy's style by now. I think the Mets are reading this blog. Just so you know, Met folks, the word "out there" today is that the spin is getting old, and fans are seeing through it. They feel lied to. They don't like it. Poo poo Twitter all you want, but it's reflective of the sentiment of the fan base.

How about the other side of the DW and Dickey contract situations? This is from ESPN New York: 
Wright said following the team's 2-1 win Sunday that winning will be a big factor in his decision, but reiterated he's not concerned right now with his future contract. He'd like to hear the team's plan moving forward and said he's happy with his current deal.

Well, if Wright is concerned about winning and the direction, what do you think he will do? Do you think he notices the shrinking crowds, shrinking payroll, and shrinking overall interest? I think if you put the "Moneyball" concept together with Wright's concerns, you're looking at a 50-50 shot (at best) he re-signs. That would be a tough message, and although it may be the right thing for the organization, I wouldn't want to be the one telling the fans.

How about Dickey? Well, what a shock, he wants the same thing, to win. Here are his words. "I do want to win, too, because I am at that place I am in my career and I want to be a part of that solution here, whatever that's going to be."

That word "win" is the key. The Mets have a two decisions to make, and their two most popular players have to make the same decision. Is this the place to be, are we heading in the right direction? Ask yourself that question. I hope, and I emphasize hope, the pieces are coming together. I'm not convinced they are, or that enough of them are. But I don't count. Two of those key pieces are up for grabs. I want to believe our GM's stated commitment, but I'm highly skeptical. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Francessa blows a gasket-and he is spot on

After today's Mets loss to the Rockies, Mike Francessa opened his show with a rant for the ages. You can listen to it here. I would not steer you wrong, take the time and listen. Then tell me if you don't agree 100%. I'm no fan of Mike's, but his points basically are as follows:

  • The Mets were embarrassed at home by a team that was 25 games under .500 
  • To make matters worse, the Mets looked bad in the process of being beaten
  • The Mets and their manager have accepted losing
  • They almost (other than TC's Tuesday post game) ignore the play on the field, and try to tell you that the young pitchers are a reason to believe-that better days are in the near future
  • You can't necessarily count on young pitchers, see Generation K for specifics
  • They should give their "8" fans their money back

My summary of this is that it is EXACTLY what I've been thinking. It's fine to talk about youth and the building blocks. They in no way are a guarantee, because as Mike points out, they will not all pan out. There are games being played on the field, games that people (like me) have paid in advance to see, and the product is awful. It's not awful because they're losing. Heck, I lived through 1979, 1982, 1983, and 1993, as Steve Somers would say, I know from losing. It's awful because they seem to have quit, they can't execute baseball fundamentals, and there seems to be no hope for the last 37. Anger among the fans will soon become apathy, and that's the poison to any sports franchise.

Sandy Alderson was on with Francessa yesterday, 8/22. He essentially said that he knows his product, knows who will and will not be a part of the future plan, and is prepared to make major moves. He claims that the Mets have trade chips (lower minor league pitching) that people want, and that will enable the trades. Ok, fine. He also said that there is about $60MM tied up in 6 players in 2013, and that the payroll, though not yet determined, will be around $100MM. So, they'll have about $40MM for 19 players, that's about $2MM each. Get ready for more Lucas Duda, Mets fans. UGH. 

Final thoughts-Thole is not a major-league player. I think the organization knows it, and I think they will act on it. Parnell continues to be Parnell, with the "wow, he throws hard" thing, along with bad results. Just a hunch, but I think they'll move him too. And has Murphy fallen out of favor? TC said Murphy is "out of gas" and Turner will play 2B. That doesn't add up. Murphy has been sufficiently rested. There's more to it. Maybe Murphy just isn't a "Sandy" player-no power. Or maybe Murphy's clubhouse persona is not what we think it is. We'll see. Either way, he is as good as gone, absolutely not a "Sandy" type of player. 

Harvey and McHugh have been great the last 2 days. They do provide some hope. We all know SP is most important. But this ship has other holes, not little ones, holes like the one in the Titanic. And they're sinking in exactly the same fashion.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Emptying the bench can work!

Lat night, TC emptied the bench after two listless losses in Cincinnati. Let's face it, not every pitcher the Mets face is the reincarnate of Cy Young, yet the offense has been putrid. After Wednesday's loss, I tweeted that TC may want to start Bay, Turner, and Shoppach, just to get some fresh faces in there. During the post-game that night, TC said in an angry tone, "Some guys are tired, they need a rest". This was his way of chiding them for an apparent lack of effort. So, TC followed my advice (LOL) and played Turner, Shoppach, and Bay. The results?

Turner- 0 for 4
Bay- 2 for 5 with a HR
Shoppach- 0 for 3 with 2 runs scored
Most important result- Mets 8, Reds 4

We could talk about the bullpen's woes in the 9th, making an 8-1 laugher an 8-4 "smiler". But that topic gets old. One thing I would say is that at least for now, Rauch has to be given some consideration as closer. Frankie was awful, and the point is still (last time I checked) to win games. Rauch threw 3 pitches to get the last out last night. That makes 6 pitches to get 2 outs in his last 2 outings, both times to close the game after a Frankie meltdown.

One point on Shoppach- it's time for a change at catcher. We all know it. Thole, in my opinion, has regressed in both aspects of the game, and if you listen to Harvey after the game, he extolled the virtues of Shoppach's ability to call the game. It worked. Harvey went 7.2 with 4 hits allowed and 8 Ks. While I'm not a fan of the "moneyball" concept of OBP and the long ball, I think both of these will work against Thole as leadership assesses his performance. I'm thankful. Thole needs to go, and quickly. His offensive and defensive struggles are readily apparent. But his deficiency in the subtlety of game calling is becoming more apparent as we listen more closely to the pitchers.

The Nats are up next. At least we miss Strassburg, and Harper has a stomach virus, so maybe that's a good sign. However, the Mets still see Gio on Sunday, and the Nats, yes the Nats, have the best record in baseball. I'm really sick of losing to them, as they've taken 9 of 12 from the Mets.

I spoke to an executive from the Mets about the whole blogger issue of who gets invited to the blogger events. In fairness, I was told that if I'd like to be invited, I'd have to demonstrate my popularity by showing them my blog and Twitter following. I'm at 194 on Twitter, and I'm trying to find a way to show some blog stats. I guess, when all is said and done, the Mets want to hang with the cool kids. Maybe I'm just a geek.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Meet the Mets... (only effective reliever)

Last night was a win that felt like a loss. We all felt that way (at least those fellow fans to whom I spoke). The Mets had a 6-1 lead, that's 6-1, in the 9th. It quickly became 6-5, with the tying and winning runs in scoring position when Jon Rauch relieved Frank Frank. Rauch proceeded to strike out Jason Heyward, sparing the Mets from the embarrassment of a sweep by the Braves at home, and what would have been their 8th straight loss to Atlanta. While the bullpen languishes in shambles, Rauch has been a bright spot, pitching 42 innings and allowing 33 hits. He's been especially effective since that homerun, the one he gave up to Russell Martin on June 10th. Rauch has also struck out 27, while walking 8, some stellar numbers. Thanks, Jon. You literally saved our bacon.

There's new talk of trading Scott Hairston, a concept with which I disagree. Hairston would have to clear waivers (which he would, since he's owed less than a third of his $1.1 million). The Mets would deal him for a low-level (I'll go so far as to say "non") prospect. So, what's the point? I'd bet my mortgage that the player coming back would never make it, and the Mets would have made a contribution to another team's stretch run. What is this, 1-800-KARS4KIDS? Why not keep Scotty H and let him help out here? There still are 47 to play, and it's nice to be competitive (though they haven't been lately, but that's another story).

My last post here caused a bit of a stir. The Mets contacted me to discuss it, and we've played a bit of phone tag. I appreciate their call quite a bit. Let me clarify my point. They can invite anyone they choose to invite into their home. They owe me and other fans absolutely nothing (over and above a clean facility to enjoy the games, and they certainly provide that). That said, they've chosen to provide special access to bloggers who have launched scathing attacks on ownership, and many of these attacks delve into the personal arena. I'd be happy to link to these posts, since they're archived on the blogs. These bloggers are the folks who are right there on "blogger night", smiling away with their recorders, talking to players and management. The message being sent is "if you rip us enough, we'll give you access, because you keep your friends close, and your enemies closer". Okay, fine. Maybe you can turn an enemy into a friend. That's clearly the goal. But those of us who try to be fair, support the team unconditionally, and invest heavily in the team, might see occasional access as a perk too.

That was the point. It's free advice, not just coming from me, but shared by other bloggers to whom I've spoken about the topic. Do with it what you will. You can't kill my (or many others') support. Our blogs' "reach" may not equal those of the "elite" among us, but we love the team. If we didn't, we wouldn't openly express our views as we do. Also, we wouldn't take our time to write and share these blogs. It's another expression of fandom, and it'll never stop. I hope the last part of the previous sentence is not the problem.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mets swing and miss with bloggers

I applaud the Mets and their campaign to reach out to fans through social media. Many players are on Twitter (Ike joined this week), Sandy Alderson is on Twitter, and the Mets have hosted Social Media nights at Citi. Last night, the Mets hosted one of a few "Blogger Nights" that they have had this season.  The team has selected several bloggers, whom they deem important enough, to be invited to the park, interact with players and management, and sit in the press box for the game. Interesting concept, right? When you're a blogger who is never invited to these events, you wonder why that is. Then you look at the invitees and their blogs, and quickly realize that many of the bloggers write in sub-standard English (you know, "the Mets need to address there catching situation. If your a Mets fan, your frustrated"), resort to profanity to make their points, and are decidedly negative about the team. Ahhh, but there's the answer! They invite the ones who rip them, to leverage access for a changed writing style. Does it work? Of course it does. But there's one more point. Many of these invited bloggers seldom buy tickets. They probably get a Mets t-shirt for the holidays. So the Mets extend the olive branch, and several high-value perks, to those who abuse them and can't, or won't, financially support the team. It's frustrating for me (and others with whom I've conversed-yes, you use "whom" in this context). I spend mega dollars on this team, write what I think is a fair blog, and get stiffed for my efforts. Final point, the bloggers who have been granted access have become insufferable. Their congeniality toward the rest of us has quickly turned to a condescending sneer.