Schedule 2017

Now that the Mets have their big hitter back, let’s talk about 2017.

Do you realize that the first 32 games the Mets will play in 2017 will all be against the National League East?  That means the Mets will play just four teams for over one month of the new season. Every year, I shake my head more and more at how those in charge come up with these schedules.

During the course of the baseball season, a team plays its division opponents 19 times for a total of 76 games. That means by the end of Sunday, May 7, the Mets will have played 42 percent of their intra-divisional schedule. What’s even stranger is by the time April ends, the Mets will have played two separate series with the Braves at Citi Field. During the first week of May, the Mets will play the Braves again, this time at their new home in suburban Atlanta in a four game set. That’s ten games against the Braves and Bartolo Colon for a total of 10 times in the first 32 games. They will also play the Marlins 10 times before finally playing a team outside of the NL East.

While it could be a good thing that the Mets play bad teams so often in the first five weeks of the season, let’s not forget that the Braves had a very good second half of 2016 and they are a young team on the rise. The Marlins have a lot of talent as well so we can’t make any assumptions of how things will go during the early season. In addition to the Braves and Marlins, the Mets will play the Phillies six times and the Nationals six times completing the unusual intra-divisional stretch.

By the All Star break, the Mets will play an additional 16 games against NL East clubs. The bulk of the remaining intra-divisional schedule will occur in September and that’s a good thing, especially if the Mets are fighting for a division title. Again as with 2016, the Mets season will conclude the 2017 slate in Philadelphia.

As far as inter-league play goes for the Mets, the NL East will play the AL West in 2017. That means the Mets will make three trips to the Pacific time zone. The first one is for three games in Phoenix in May. The Mets will make a west coast visit in June to play the Dodgers and Giants before heading to Miami to complete a ten game road trip. At the end of July, the Mets head to San Diego and then north to Seattle before concluding in Colorado for their second ten game road trip of the season.

The Mets will also make two separate trips to Texas, once to play the AL West champion Rangers in June for two games and once to play the Houston Astros in early September.  The Rangers will also play the Mets at Citi Field for a two game set in August. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim California of the United States of America of planet Earth and the Oakland Athletics will come to Citi Field this season in May and July respectively. Rounding out the inter-league schedule will be the rivalry home and home series against the Yankees in August, the first two at Yankee Stadium then the next two at Citi. That’s a Monday through Thursday event.

The Mets longest home stand of the season will be ten games when they face the Rockies, Cardinals, and A’s in the middle of July.  The Mets also have two nine game home stands, one in April and one in August.

The world champion Cubs (that’s a weird thing to write) will come to Citi Field in June for a three game set. The Mets will travel to Wrigley Field in the middle of September.

All in all, it’s 162 games, 81 at home and 81 away. With the signing of Yoenis Cespedes and hopefully a healthy pitching staff, the Mets may just make 2017 another fun and exciting season.

Tickets for Mets home games are available at Mets.com.

Collins Snubbed

Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers won the National League manager of the year award. What in the world does Terry Collins have to do to be recognized? He managed an injury riddled team, full of call ups, and imports from other teams scrap heaps to get to the post season as the first wild card. There were many times during the season where Terry could have lost the clubhouse but he held it together and managed the team to a streaking conclusion that landed the club in the playoffs. I’m not saying Roberts was not deserving of the award but certainly Collins was as well if not more so.

Mets’ pitching prospects Corey Oswalt and Corey Taylor combined to pitch seven innings yesterday in the Arizona Fall League. Oswalt gave up one run (homerun) on three hits and struck out three in five innings. Taylor pitched two perfect innings and struck out four.

 

 

It’s The Post Season

That was probably the best baseball game to end a world series ever. Perhaps it was better than game six of the 1986 World Series or game six of the 1975 World Series. Those were two of the most unbelievable games in World Series history but neither ended the Series. They could have but in both cases the Red Sox (’75) and the Mets (’86) rallied to tie the series. Last night’s battle between the Cubs and the Indians was winner take all. It was so good that the game required an extra inning to complete.

After 108 years, the Cubs of Chicago are World Champions. GM Theo Epstein has now ended the Curse of the Bambino and the Curse of the Billy Goat. Epstein will one day be in the Hall of Fame for his record of bringing not just one, but two historic baseball franchises to World Series titles after an absence of almost a century in one case and over a century in another. Congratulations to the Cubs organization and to their long suffering fans. Hopefully they can now forget what happened in 1969.

Now that the baseball season has come to an end, what do the Mets learn that could make their future brighter?

One take away that I saw was youth. The Cubs have a lot of young (and very good) players.  On the Cubs World Series roster, there were eight players that were 25 years old or younger, two of whom were 22, 18 that are 30 or younger. So overall the roster is very young and will be competitive for several more seasons.  At the beginning of the 2017 season, the Mets will have only 5 players 25 years old or less. That’s not bad because they have 28 players 30 or under on their 40 man roster. So it’s not like the Mets are a very old team but they don’t have a lot of real young players either. Those of you considering that maybe Michael Conforto is not the real deal, remember he’ll be just 24 for the 2017 season and has the potential to be the kind of player the Cubs seem to have so many of.

Another important aspect of the Cubs was pitching and there again, when healthy the Mets have that covered. But the key is health. If the Mets were so fortunate to have a healthy staff of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Stephen Matz, and Zach Wheeler, well that will go a long way to getting the Mets back to the playoffs, deep into the playoffs.

One of the players on the other side of 30 is Yoenis Cespedes. I know the Mets like him and will likely try to resign him if… err, when he opts out. However, I’m not going to go nuts if he doesn’t resign with the Mets.  There will likely be bigger offers out there and I can’t see the Mets mortgaging years down the road for a player that will be losing his skills and perhaps be a malcontent to boot.  The problem the Mets have is there is no genuine homerun threat on the team without him. Can the Mets really count on Curtis Granderson and Asdrubal Cabrera to have as productive years as this past one?  They will pick up Jay Bruce’s option so that’s one place the Mets will count on some power. Plus I really feel their needs to be a commitment to Conforto. He should be the everyday left fielder for him to blossom. This guy could be and should be the next David Wright.

The hot stove is just warming up. It’s going to be an interesting winter to see just what the Mets will do before pitchers and catchers report in February.

2016 Mets Report Card

The Mets went through a tumultuous summer in 2016. Five players from the April 3 starting lineup were eventually injured and were lost for the season or most of the season. In total, 46 different players contributed to the Mets season mostly because of trips to the disabled list by so many. However, through all of the adversity, the Mets still were one of the ten teams to make the post season. It was a short stay of just one game, the wildcard game they lost to the San Francisco Giants and Madison Bumgarner at Citi Field on October 5. Even so, considering how things went, the Mets have nothing to be ashamed about. Sandy Alderson and his staff did a marvelous job of acquiring players to fill in and in some cases permanently take over roles. Manager Terry Collins should be named manager of the year for being able to keep his team focused through so much turmoil. The Mets managed to finish the season as the number 1 wildcard in second place with a record of 87-75. It was the 11th best record in franchise history tying the 2016 club with the 1989 Mets who did not reach the post season. This is a lengthy post that reviews all forty-six players and how they did during the regular season including their highlight moment and future status.

Here is the cast of the 2016 Mets. The first 10 represent the starting lineup that took the field in Kansas City on opening day. The remaining players appear in order of their appearance during the 2016 season. After their name are their position and their current age in parenthesis.

1– Curtis Granderson RF (35) / One of the few Mets to play wire to wire this season. Curtis played in 150 games in 2016. For most of the season, Curtis was pretty bad, not the player he was in 2016. But in late August and September… (more)2016 Mets Report Card

A Gallant Effort

The first team to make a mistake would be the team to lose the game. Unfortunately the first mistake was a pitch high in the strike zone from Jeurys Familia that Conner Gillaspie hit over the right field fence to give the Giants a 3-0 lead in the top of the ninth inning. Madison Bumgarner was still in the game. You knew the game was over and it was. So was the Mets’ season.

The Blame Game:

Well if we want to go down this road, we certainly can although I am not a fan of doing so. Obviously the main culprit is Familia who had a dreadful outing. He looked to be overthrowing which he does on occasion. Then of course he made the big mistake pitch and immediately was given the moniker of someone who can’t get it done in the post season. Terry Collins made a great point in his postgame interview. He said “We don’t get here without him”. Him meaning Familia, here meaning the post season because Jeurys did save 51 games.

We could blame the offense and in particular Yoenis Cespedes. The Mets managed just four hits and never got a runner to third base. Cespedes, who might have played his last game with the Mets, went 0 for 4 as Bumgarner pitched him brilliantly. The problem with the offense was simple. They had to face Bumgarner—enough said.

We could blame Collins for not letting Noah Syndergaard go further. I think he should have let Noah, who was as brilliant if not as efficient as Bumgarner, at least start the eighth inning. But when Addison Reed and Familia have been so dependable are we really going to fault the manager? I think not.

Really it became apparent early on that the only way the Mets could win this game would be for them to wait out Bumgarner, in other words in extra innings. Once the Giants scored three in the 9th, the Mets were beat. There was no way they could come back in the bottom of the ninth and score three runs off of Bumgarner. In fact, there was no team in baseball that would have come back from that deficit and beat that monster on the hill for San Francisco.

Analysis:

Let’s clear up some things about Familia. First off it was not a save situation. I’m not saying that should make a difference but it often does. Secondly, his numbers in the post season aren’t great but they are a long way from being abysmal. In the post season that includes last year, he’s given up 5 runs on 5 hits and blew three saves.  Realize that 3 of those runs were from last night. Let’s go back to last post season to see how Familia performed.

Familia got a four out save in game 1 of the NLDS against the Dodgers giving up no runs. He pitched the last inning of a blowout win at Citi Field in game 3 and gave up nothing. He pitched another inning in a game 4 loss and gave up no runs then he saved the biggest game of his career in game 5 sending the Mets to the NLCS. It was his second save of the post season.  Then Familia had another 4 out save in game 1 of the NLCS against the Cubs, and two more saves in game 2 and 3. Then finally he closed out game 4 in a non-save situation helping to complete the four game sweep to clinch the NL pennant.  Up to the World Series, Familia saved 5 games in the post season and allowed no runs on 3 hits with 3 strikeouts and 2 walks in 9.2 innings.

Things did change for Familia in the World Series. He blew the save in game 1, a game the Mets led 4-3 heading to the bottom of the ninth and ended up losing in extra innings. It was a tough loss that the Mets really never recovered from. Familia pitched a scoreless inning of a Mets 9-3 blowout in game 3 before blowing the save in game 4, allowing 2 unearned and 1 earned runs to score. In game 5, Familia gave up the tying run in the ninth inning but the run was charged to Matt Harvey. We don’t know what might have happened had Collins stuck to his guns and brought in Familia to start the ninth opposed to letting Harvey try to complete the game. Never the less it was Familia’s third blown save of the World Series and that’s a reputation maker, especially when it happens in the clincher.

So all in all, Familia’s record in the post season is 15.2 innings pitched with 5 saves and 3 blown saves. His ERA is 2.30 with 5 runs allowed, 4 runs earned, 3 walks and 10 strikeouts.  Could Familia’s record be better, of course it could but it’s not horrible. And while we can complain about him contributing to a World Series loss and now a wildcard game loss, to Terry’s point—the Mets are not in the post season without him.

Here’s some more food for thought regarding the Mets closer.  Remember a closer by the name of Mariano Rivera? I may be wrong but I think he will be a unanimous first ballot entrant into the Hall of Fame and deservedly so. Ask Yankee fans about Mariano’s ninth inning in game seven of the 2001 World Series in Arizona and the ninth inning of game four of the 2004 ALCS in Boston. Watch them throw up in their mouths a little bit. The point is closers blow games, even the great ones. There were a lot of reasons the Mets lost the wildcard game last night, not just Familia’s obvious poor performance.

The End:

It has been a full ten years since the Mets got to celebrate on home turf. The last time the Mets poured champagne at home was when they clinched the NL East division title on September 18, 2006 at Shea Stadium against the Marlins.  Since then, the Cardinals celebrated at Shea (2006 NLCS), the Royals celebrated at Citi Field (2015 World Series), and now the Giants (last night’s wildcard winner). The home team Mets has been relegated to watching a party they were not invited to on their home field. However, the Mets did celebrate over the last two seasons at Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Often what goes around comes around.

With a lot of rest and healing now that the off season has begun, I have a feeling the Mets will get to the post season again and perhaps as soon as next year. The home field party for the home team will happen and it will happen relatively soon.

Today it stings but we will look back on the 2016 season and remember a team decimated by injuries to key players. We’ll remember players that did not perform up to their expectations. We will wonder how in the world Terry Collins did not get fired when the Mets fell to two games under .500 in August (a recent report suggest he almost was). But mostly we’ll remember a gallant try by players from the farm system and from other organizations that pulled it together and won 27 of their last 40 games to clinch the top wildcard spot.

A shout out to T.J. Rivera, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, James Loney, Rene Rivera, Fernando Salas, Jay Bruce (yes, Jay Bruce who had some big at-bats in Philadelphia), Josh Smoker, Brandon Nimmo, Matt Reynolds,  Ty Kelly, Justin Ruggiano, and the welcome return of Jose Reyes. No one would have ever guessed that these players would be a part of this team let alone contribute to its success. And let’s not forget the regulars who managed to not go down that included Curtis Granderson, the aged wonder Bartolo Colon, Yoenis Cespedes, the undisputed ace of the staff Noah Syndergaard, and in my opinion, the Mets MVP Asdrubal Cabrera.

All you can hope at the beginning of the season is that your team makes it to the tournament in October. And that’s what the post season has become. The top third of teams in baseball get in, that’s 10 teams. They fight it out for a month based on seeded record and the last one standing gets the trophy. It really is a crapshoot that any team can win. And if I were the Cubs that blew the field away during the regular season, I would be very leery of having to face the Giants.

The cold winter in the northeast beckons. The Citi Field turf will be covered by snow soon enough as the front office toils and calculates the best bets moving forward. Winter will turn to spring and once again we will hear the cry of “Play Ball” from Port St. Lucie, Florida. It’s only a short five months away.

One Game Season

It is the ninth time in Mets history that they will go to the post season, the third time as a wildcard. It is the first time the Mets will be a wildcard in the era of the two wildcards and a one game elimination. Therefore, this season’s post season appearance could be the shortest in Mets’ history if they fail to defeat the San Francisco Giants tomorrow night at Citi Field.

To this point, the shortest post season the Mets ever had was in 1988 when they lost the NL League Division Series (LDS) to the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games. That was in the era prior to the wildcard and the League Division Series (LDS). In all other cases besides 1988, the Mets had always advanced past the first round. In 1969, 1973, and 1986, the Mets advanced to the World Series after winning the LCS. Then in 1999 and 2000 the Mets won the LDS and advanced to the LCS. In 2000, they went all the way to the World Series. In 2006, the Mets won the LDS and advanced to the LCS ultimately losing to the Cardinals in game seven. Last year the Mets made it to the World Series.

So in eight post season appearances, the Mets have enjoyed longevity, a minimum of seven games in 1988. Tomorrow night the Mets face the possibility of playing in one post season game then going home. And for me, considering this unlikely of seasons where so many were injured and lost for the duration, I won’t be terribly upset if the Mets do not advance. Of course I will be disappointed but I already consider this season a successful one for the Mets. For it demonstrated how strong the organization is that they could bring up so many prospects and continue to compete. The club has heart and a lot of it. When you consider the pitchers that should be back healthy next season, the Mets look to be have a bright future.

As much as Terry Collins can drive me crazy with his in-game moves and use of the bullpen, he has to get credit for keeping this ship on course. The Mets could have easily fallen apart back in August but they kept it together. Once they got the top of the order back in the lineup, the Mets took off on an improbable 27-13 run to end the season. They were five and half games back of the second wild card and made up six and a half games to host the NL Wildcard game—truly remarkable. If Terry Collins is not manager of the year then they should dispose of the award.

Facing Madison Bumgarner is not going to be a picnic tomorrow evening. And the Giants will have Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto on the roster to compensate for a bullpen that is not so good. Looking at those pitchers, it’s hard to think the Mets can prevail. But for some reason, my gut is telling me the Mets are going to win this game. Certainly I may be wrong and I’m not predicting the Mets will win. It’s just a feeling I have that they will. Every time this season when you think the Mets are done, they surprise and bounce back so why not in this game? But again, whether they do or not, for me, this has been an enjoyable season. The Mets will have nothing to be ashamed of if they come up short and do not progress past Wednesday. Considering what this team went through in 2016, it’s amazing they are in the post season. But I guess that is why they are called the Amazins.

I have railed a number of times about the Mets not making the post season in back to back seasons save once. So in fairness I have to acknowledge that they’ve done it again if even only for the second time. The real possibility exists that the Mets may actually be able to go to the post season for three consecutive seasons. But that’s a long way off. For now, it’s a one game season. If the Mets win it’s off to Chicago for a rematch with last year’s opponent in the NLCS. The Mets swept the Cubs in four straight, clinching their fifth National League pennant. If the Mets lose tomorrow, then it will be time to access what the club does moving forward into 2017.

Regardless of the outcome of the NL Wildcard game, it will be exciting and Citi Field will be one rocking ballpark for a few hours at least.

 

Magic Is One

Update – The Mets took care of business this afternoon at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia. Bartolo Colon pitched five innings and got the win as the Mets defeated the Phillies by a score of 5-3. The win clinches the top wild card spot regardless of what the Cardinals or Giants do this afternoon or tomorrow. It is the second time in franchise history that the Mets will go to the post season in back to back seasons. No tie breakers will be necessary. The National League wildcard game will be at Citi Field Wednesday night at 8PM. Terry Collins becomes the Mets’ third manager to take the Mets to the playoffs twice. Davey Johnson (1986, 1988) and Bobby Valentine (1999, 2000) were the other two skippers to do it.

Considering how this team was devastated with setbacks all season long, regardless of what happens in the one and done game on Wednesday- this Mets team has to be consider one of the best in franchise history. They are certainly the team with the most heart.

Original Post – By hook or crook, the Mets will play ball after Sunday. Now it could be a play-in game on Monday or even a play-in game on Monday and Tuesday. Or it might be the National League Wildcard game on Wednesday. But the fact is they did it. In spite of all the injuries, many that were season ending, and others that required extended stays on the disabled list, these New York Mets made a remarkable rebound since the end of August and are one win away, or one St. Louis loss away, to becoming the top wildcard.

I hope the Mets are not counting on the Giants and/or the Cardinals to give them any help. The Mets have the ultimate power in these final two games. Win just one and they control their destiny. With one win, they would host the wildcard game at Citi Field on Wednesday. They’ve come too far to have this come down to play-in game scenarios. The team seems focused and is ready to get this done. Okay so here are today’s scenarios.

Because all three teams, left with life in the NL wildcard race, won last evening, they are all separated by three games. The Mets on top, a game ahead of the Giants, two games ahead of the Cardinals. If the Mets win this afternoon, they would clinch the number one wildcard. If the Mets were to lose this afternoon, and both the Giants and Cardinals win, the worst scenario, then nothing would be clinched. In this case, the Giants and Mets would be tied for the wildcard with the Cardinals still a game behind. If the Cardinals and Mets lose and the Giants win, then the Cardinals would be eliminated with the two other teams tied. Both the Mets and Giants would be the wildcard winners but seeding will not be clear until after tomorrow’s games. If only the Cardinals win today, they would be tied with the Giants for the second wild card with the Mets still in the top position. This scenario would set up the possibility of a three way tie after Sunday’s games.

There is a lot of complication here. The Mets can eliminate all of this by winning this afternoon’s game. Bartolo Colon has the task of getting it done. I’m sure he’s excited about getting the opportunity to finish things up today. There is no more experienced pitcher on the Mets staff than Bartolo. He always remains calm regardless of the pressure. The Mets can feel it and I’m sure they are chomping at the bit to get on the field this afternoon. Let’s Go Mets!