Archive for the 'General' Category

Dreadful Offense

It is 2-1 Pirates in the 5th inning of game 2 of tonight’s doubleheader. The last time the Mets scored three or more runs in an inning was back on Friday, May 27th, against the Dodgers at Citi Field. That’s over a week and a half ago. Since that time the Mets have been able to score only one or two runs in an inning. And as game two continues, the Mets have scored just two runs in their last 23 innings.

I know the Mets have lots of injuries but this offense is wasting some tremendous pitching performances. And it is also wasting some not so great pitching performances too but ones that are good enough to win. Like in tonight’s first game of the doubleheader. Clearly it was not Stephen Matz’s best night but he still only gave up 2 runs.

The Mets’ offense is simply dreadful. Perhaps it’s just a slump but we have seen all season so far that if the Mets are not bashing balls over the fence, they simply do not score runs. It’s great that so many in the lineup have the power to hit them out but it would be nice to have some hitters that can put the ball in play and do the little things necessary to build a run. A three run outburst in the first game could have been enough to propel the Mets to victory. Instead, it was clear from the first inning the Mets were not going to be able to do much against former Met Jonathan Niese.

Game two is not fairing much better. Jacob deGrom just gave up another run so forget this one too. A 3-1 deficit might as well be a 10-1 drubbing they way the Mets are hitting.

I have no solution, just venting. But it appears Sandy Alderson has no solution either.

What is with the Phillies?

Are they for real? This morning, the Mets find themselves sitting a game and a half behind the division leading Washington Nationals and a full game behind the Philadelphia Phillies who are sitting in second place.

The experts predicted that in the NL East, the Braves and Phillies would be fighting each other to stay out of the basement. Clearly they got it right when referring to Atlanta. However, the Phillies have stunned all of baseball with their fine play and it is mostly due to their pitching. The Phillies team WHIP is 1.21, two one-hundredths better than the Mets pitchers at 1.23. The Phillies and Mets’ WHIP is fourth and fifth best in the National League respectively. The Nationals are third with the Cubs and Dodgers are one and two.

In saves, the Phillies lead the league with 18 while Mets are fourth with 14. Strikeouts are where you would expect the Mets to lead but they’re fifth while the Phillies are number one in the NL with 374. The Nats are number 2 with 372 and the Mets are in fifth place behind the Dodgers and Cubs with 343 strikeouts.

The Mets are the stingiest in the league at giving up the walk. The Mets through last night have given just 91 batters a free pass. The Phillies have given up 118 and the Nats have given up 115. In average against, the Phillies are better than the Mets too. Against Philly pitching the league is hitting .238 while against the Mets, it’s .253. The Cubs lead the league in this category with an average against of .199 then the Nationals with a .225 average, tied with the Dodgers.

So who are these guys in Philadelphia? Are they really this good or are they playing above their heads so far this young season?

The ace of the Phillies staff is shaping up to be Vince Velasquez. The 23 year old right hander is 5-1 with a 0.99 WHIP. Velasquez came from Houston with four other pitchers in a trade for shortstop Jonathan Arauz and right handed pitcher Ken Giles and so far, the move looks to be brilliant. Velasquez has struck out 59 batters in 48.1 innings over 8 starts this season.

In another trade the Phillies made, they sent pitcher Sam McWilliams to Arizona for right hander Jeremey Hellickson. Hellickson is 4-2 with a 1.29 WHIP and 50 strikeouts in 49.2 innings. Aaron Nola (22), a Philadelphia draft pick, came up to the big club last season. He has a 3-2 record with a WHIP of 0.85 and 58 strikeouts in 53 innings over eight starts. So the Phils have three starting pitchers that so far can go up against anybody. They’re struggling beyond the third starter with Jerad Eickhoff who has gotten off to 1-6 start. But twenty-eight year old Jeanmar Gomez has 16 saves on the season. That leads all closers in the major leagues.

Where the Phillies are struggling is in offense. They are third from the bottom of the National League in major offensive categories and second from the bottom with just 31 homeruns and 126 RBIs. That’s not good for a team that plays 81 home games at Citizen’s Bank Park.

Now with a 24-17 record, the Phillies have played twenty of their 41 games against teams with losing records. However, they lost the first four games of the season in a row, getting swept by a dreadful Reds team and the Mets home opener. They won the next two against the Mets and have fared well against good teams since. The highlight of the season for the Phillies was when the swept a three game set from the Nationals which helped the Mets to move into first place for a while.

So it’s anyone’s guess as to the legitimacy of the Phillies. Time will tell. Frankly right now, I am more concerned with the legitimacy of the Mets. Their offense is suspect unless they are hitting a flock of homeruns. Three of their starting pitchers have velocities down from last year and that’s likely due to the workload they had to deal with on their way to a league championship.  Now they are chasing two teams, the Nats and the Phillies and who knows, maybe the Marlins before long.

Don’t Forget About Koosman and Cardwell

As you know by now, because only a die hard Mets fan would be reading this website from the boondocks, Noah Syndergaard hit two home runs that accounted for all four Mets runs in the game last night against the Dodgers. During the telecast, Gary Cohen and Ron Darling made mention of the only other Met to do so. That was Walt Terrell back in 1983 at Wrigley Field. The right handed pitcher, who was eventually traded to Detroit for Howard Johnson, hit two two-run home runs. Like Noah’s bombs last night, Terrell’s dingers accounted for all runs scored in the game, a 4-1 Mets victory over the Cubs.

But did you know there was another strange pitcher generated run occurrence in Mets history? It happened during the magical season of 1969, the season that this site’s name is dedicated. It happened on September 12th. The Mets were in first place two games ahead of the Chicago Cubs with a doubleheader scheduled in Pittsburgh. That day, the Mets won both ends of the twin-bill by identical scores of 1-0.

Mets lefty Jerry Koosman started the first game of the Friday night twi-nighter against the Pirates at old Forbes Field. Koosman pitched a complete game shutout and drove in the only run of the game when he singled to right driving in Bobby Pfiel in the fifth inning.  In the night cap, veteran right handed pitcher Don Cardwell pitched eight scoreless innings and like Koosman, drove in the only run of the game. With two outs in the second, Bud Harrelson doubled. Cardwell then singled to center scoring Harrelson. Tug McGraw got the save and the Mets swept the doubleheader by scores of 1-0 over the Pirates. With the wins, the ’69 Mets gained a half game on the Cubs who also won that evening. Twelve days later the Mets would clinch their first division title in history on their way to their first world championship.

I don’t know what is more impressive, the Mets winning two games with the pitchers driving in the only runs or the fact that only three pitchers were needed to get through eighteen innings of baseball. How times have changed.

Cryin’ the Blues

Now that the Nationals have signed Stephen Strasburg to a long term 175 million dollar contract, will an offer to Bryce Harper be far behind?

Well I certainly hope so.

Look, there is only one reason why I would want Harper to sign an extension with the Nationals. That’s so Yankee fans can shut the f%#! up about eventually him signing with the Yankees. We are now seeing the Yankee millennial generation crying the blues because their team is not winning. For many of these babies, it’s the first time they have ever witnessed the Yanks a losing mess. To them I say walk a mile in our shoes (our being the collective group of Mets fans who have suffered far more years than enjoyed).

In Yankee fans’ minds, it’s a forgone conclusion that Harper will sign the largest contract in baseball history with the Bombers once he hits the free agent market post season 2018. That sure is short changing Yankee general manager Brian Cashman’s plans for rebuilding. So what’s he to do? Risk it all on the hopes the Yankees can sign Harper? Considering how the new Steinbrenner regime is regardng money, I’m not so sure they could stomach a contract that could be well over 400 million dollars when all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. I’m not even suggesting this is something the Yankee brain trust is considering in the bowels of Yankee Stadium. I give them more credit than that.

The fans though, it’s in their mind that Harper will wear the pinstripes come April 2019. The reality is a lot can happen by 2019.

If anyone has been paying attention, the formula for winning has changed somewhat over the last several seasons. Typically teams are “rolling their own” so to speak. A strong farm system is paramount to winning as witnessed by what the Mets have been able to do over the past several seasons. While the major league team was losing and Mets fans lost their minds on sports talk radio, Sandy Alderson and his staff were building a sustainable future for the Mets franchise. They kept Jeff Wilpons’s fingers out of the pie while they drafted stud pitchers and helped them to develop in a completely retooled system. Then as the pitchers started to flourish others were used to bring in Yoenis Cespedes, the Juan Uribes, and the Kelly Johnsons as the Mets captured the National League flag last season.  They also have brought in other free agents, not back page headline guys but solid players like Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker who was traded for Jon Niese who became expendable with all the pitching riches the Mets have.

Now I am not suggesting the Yankees are not following suit. It looks as if they are. They are willing to suffer a couple of seasons while their payroll gets cleared up. They have some very good hitting prospects and some good pitchers on the way too. Once they don’t have to pay CC Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, and Mark Teixiera any longer, the Yanks will be able to spend wisely like other clubs again. The question is will they dump close to half a billion dollars on one player if he’s available? That is a huge expenditure and even though Bryce is very talented and will be just twenty-six years old, it could prove too costly. Clearly one player does not win a world championship. That’s obvious from the also very talented Mike Trout of the Angels. With him, the Los Angeles Anaheims have won nothing.

I would love to see the Nats sign Bryce to an extension just to shut up these so entitled Yankee fans who think the world of baseball revolves around them.

Here’s another thing that drives me crazy about the Yankees. Why do they get such an unfair advantage at home when it comes to the long ball? Monday night, the Yankees hit five home runs. In Citi Field and most other ballparks, those home runs, at least four of them, would have been fly ball outs. I know the argument could be made that the other team has the advantage too. That’s true but not eighty-one times a season. It’s surprising the Yankees were allowed to build such dimensions in the new ballpark when other clubs that have built new ballparks must have a minimum of 320 feet down the lines.

Some Food For Thought On A Friday

The Mets find themselves just a half game behind the Nationals heading into tonight’s action. Surprisingly that has a lot to do with the Philadelphia Phillies who managed to sweep a three game set from the Nats this week. The Phills actually shut out Washington in games two and three by identical scores of 3-0. What’s up with that? Are the Phillies going to be a bit of a surprise this season?

And how about Don Mattingly going back to Los Angeles and sweeping his former Dodger team in a four game series? As much as I don’t want to see the Marlins get too good too soon, that had to be sweet for Donnie Baseball. And speaking of the Dodgers, this is Vin Scully’s last season broadcasting Dodgers games. He began his career at Ebbets Field in 1951. That is an absolutely absurd fact.

Think about this. Vince Scully has been doing Dodger games for 65 years. His broadcasting career is eligible for Medicare. That spans the Dodgers first ever world championship against the Yankees in 1955, the Dodger’s move to Los Angeles after the 1957 season, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale,  Mr. Ed running around the diamond at Dodger Stadium. This guy has seen it all. What a remarkable career. It really is a treat to listen to Scully do a Dodger game. The MLB Network will usually show the Dodger broadcast when televising Dodger games. It’s old school broadcasting. Scully doesn’t bombard you with stats-abet soup the entire game. Scully will be missed when he retires.

As far as our Amazins go, they have a good test in this weekend series against the Giants. They are a much better team than what who the Mets have faced recently. The Giants are currently tied with LA for first with a 12-11 record and they just swept San Diego in a three game set. The matchups are Peavey vs. Matz, Cain vs. deGrom, and Sunday’s marquee matchup of staff aces, Madison Bumgarner vs. Noah Syndergaard. That should be a good one.

This just in, Marlins Dee Gordon was suspended for 80 games, caught with two performance enhancing drugs in his system. That’s got to hurt a Marlins team looking to rebound this season. When are players going to learn to only use performance enhancing medicines condoned by the AMA. You know cortisone, blood platelet therapy, UCL reconstruction. Don’t get me started.

Starting Slow Again

It’s only five games into the season but how long before we decide that the Mets are getting off to a bad start?

The offense is not producing and it’s just like the beginning of last season at least for the first five games. Last season, the Mets also started out at 2-3 as pointed out by Cohen, Darling, and Hernandez during the broadcast. And it was also pointed out that so did the Mets of 1986, a team that also went to the post season. The point is it’s very early and the Mets offense has yet to click although they did bang out seven runs in their home opener on Friday. But just because a 2-3 start resulted in a couple of magnificent seasons doesn’t mean things will turn out well this year.

Washington is off to a good start. One week into the season the Mets find themselves a game and a half back. Not the end of the world but you would like to see the Mets get on track especially against the NL East. Losing two of three to the Phillies, a team predicted to lose around 100 games is not what the Mets front office had in mind when they resigned Yoenis Cespedes and brought in Neil Walker from Pittsburgh.

What about other teams’ starts to the season that were predicted to be very good in 2016?

The Cardinals are off to a 3-3 start after getting swept by Pittsburgh in their opening series. Houston is 2-4 after winning the wild card in 2015. But the Cubs, Pirates, Royals, Giants, and Dodgers have all gotten off to good starts, not wasting any time getting a jump on the competition. It’s a funk the Mets are in right now at the beginning of the season and don’t think because they started off the same way last year will mean it will turn around soon. Washington is out to prove something and the Mets can’t let them get too far ahead. It’s so early and the weather has been awful but the team the Mets are playing these days are playing in the same weather so that can’t be an excuse.

Quote of the day goes to Yoenis Cespedes who also hit his first homer of the season. “This isn’t baseball weather. We should be home asleep”. Looks like the Mets are asleep.

I do liked seeing the old racing stripe unis yesterday. Brought back many memories. The Mets will wear those on Sunday home games this season to honor the 1986 world championship team.

I Hate to Admit It but It’s Time for the DH In the NL

I do not like the Designated Hitter, never have and likely never will. But I am onboard with the National League finally accepting the rule first used by the American League in 1973.

The main reason for my acceptance of the DH is because in baseball everywhere, professional and amateur, the National League is the only league to not use the forty-three year old rule that allows a permanent pinch hitter for the pitcher. The DH was supposed to have been an experiment for a couple years when it was introduced for the 1973 season in the American League. Apparently the experiment is ongoing because it is now 2016 and every baseball league on this planet save one employs the DH. The Japanese Pacific and Central Leagues use the DH. The Caribbean Winter Leagues, the European Baseball leagues, and the Australian Winter League use the DH. All independent minor leagues as well as colleges and high schools use the designated hitter. Now that we have finally re-opened trade with Cuba, I’m sure we’ll learn that their talented leagues use it too.

Beyond the NL, there are a few exceptions. In Triple A and Double A, pitchers bat when two NL affiliates play each other. But when AL affiliates play NL affiliates, they don’t. However in the Pacific Coast League (AAA), the two NL affiliate rule can be overridden by the two teams if agreed upon.  In the minor leagues below AA, the DH is used regardless of affiliation. So then why in the world would National League owners want their pitchers to bat in the major leagues when they have had such little experience doing so before? Pitchers that command a huge portion of a team’s expenditure are unnecessarily exposed to potential injury when standing in the batter’s box or running the bases.

Now if I came across a genie in a bottle and was granted three wishes, one of the three would be to abolish the DH in all of baseball.  I’m really old school but I completely understand and accept that the DH is never going away. It makes the most sense to finally incorporate the rule into the National League.

In a league governed by one office, what sense does it make to have two sets of rules anyway? In 2000, the National League and American League offices were dissolved and the singular office of Major League Baseball was formed, one office to oversee both major leagues. At that time, umpires were pooled together in one group and do all games regardless of league. There was a time when there were AL umpires and there were NL umpires. Not anymore. A team of umps can be at Citi Field for one series then move over to Yankee Stadium for the next. It’s been that way since 2000.

So why does the DH rule remain the only difference between the two leagues?

One reason is stubbornness. Many NL owners simply did not like the DH and did not want to see it implemented in the senior circuit. There is a feeling that the older NL has more tradition than the younger AL. I find that argument to be inconsistent. Tradition is a perception. Are three divisions and 30 teams traditional? Are wild card teams traditional? Are ballparks with roofs traditional? Is modern uniforms made from modern material traditional? Are 5000 square foot video boards traditional (and at Wrigley Field no less)? How about replays for umpires? Is that traditional? Some might feel that people of color entering baseball went against tradition. Who wants to defend that abhorrent tradition?

Baseball has always been about change. It has reflected American society for almost 150 years. Way back in 1973, when I was still quite young, I saw the DH implemented and many did not like it. But do you realize the percentage of fans today that have never known the game without a DH? A person born in 1973 is turning 43 years old this year. Those at that age that are baseball fans have watched a lot of baseball. The DH is part of their tradition.

Getting back to pitchers and injury? With today’s salaries of major league players, owners worry a great deal in regard to injury, especially when it comes to pitchers. Why have their star pitchers stand in a batter’s box in most cases unequipped to handling a 95 mile an hour fastball? And when pitchers do get on base, they are then vulnerable to be injured running the bases. You would think that NL owners would want to protect their pitching investment at all cost. With all due respect to the Mets pitching staff and their ability to hit, most pitchers are automatic outs. How is that good for the game?

The DH also has implications on player movement. An older hitting player, still quick with the bat and still having some pop is not likely to go to a National League team. There he would be relegated to pinch hitting once per game if the situation warrants. He might play one or two days a week. In the American League, that same hitter might play every day as a DH and may be more of a draw for fans to come to the ballpark as well.

Now to be fair, counter to the pro DH argument is pitching stress. In the AL, pitchers never get to face bad hitters, at least bad hitting pitchers. In the NL, the pitcher might work around a batter or two to get to the pitcher. Obviously that strategy as well as whether to pinch hit for the pitcher would be lost to the game for good. But again, except for the NL, it has been gone for over four decades now. But none the less, the DH has caused more pitchers to want to go to the National League and not just to hit but to have an easier time of it when pitching through the bottom of the order.

One more point. What other league has two sets of rules? Would it be fare if kickers in the NFC had to kick an extra point from ten yards but their AFC counterparts had to do so from the 15? No other sport except baseball plays by two sets of rules. Now granted it’s only one rule but it is a big one.

I love the game when the pitcher hits so my brain is arguing completely against my heart.  But unless aliens threaten our existence if we don’t remove the designated hitter, the rule is here to stay. The NL needs to stop putting off what eventually is going to happen and finally accept its fate and employ the DH. But don’t be surprised  in a few weeks if I write a post completely contradictory to this one.