Archive for the '2018 Mets' Category

It’s All New Monday

Pitchers and catchers are making their way to Florida and Arizona as camps begin to open.  Many players have already been there working out for some time.  That’s true of the Mets as well. A new era is about to begin in Port St. Lucie.

For the first time since 2011, a new manager will be at the helm for the New York Mets.  In the past I would have been excited about such a move.  However, I’m beginning to think that no matter what the Mets do, the goal of sustaining success year after year, like a certain cross town team seems to achieve annually, will just never happen.  I’m not saying that the Mets will have another down year like the season last but I’m also not buying into the thought that the Mets are going to go back to the playoffs either.

If everyone remains healthy for a change and the players live up to the back of their baseball cards, there is no reason to think that the Mets cannot have a very good season.  But on the other hand, that’s just not the way it has gone the last couple of campaigns, even when they made the playoffs as a wild card team in 2016.  Injury upon injury, the heralded pitching staff that has never been in the five man rotation at the same time, the catching duo of Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki not able to live up to the hype, and the overworked bullpen that imploded lead after lead—doesn’t’ leave me feeling warm and fuzzy moving forward.

It’s safe to say that the negative heebie-geebies have taken control of my ability to feel confident as another Mets season is about to begin.  I’m feeling the same way a lot of Mets fans feel.  That’s really too bad because when you look at the off season, the Mets have actually done quite a bit.  And contrary to a large amount of Mets fans, the team has dumped more money into the free agent pool than most clubs.  Their latest acquisition of third baseman Todd Frasier will help to solidify the infield and add some needed protection to the lineup.  Although his batting average is not that great, his on-base-percentage is and he hits for power.  Frasier is a solid defender and also very reliable to be in the line-up on a day in and day out basis.  He’s a very good addition to this team, especially when you consider that David Wright’s career, at least as an everyday player, is very likely over.

With Mickey Callahan as the new manager, someone who everyone raves about, the voice in the clubhouse will be fresh.  In fact the entire coaching staff has been overhauled with some very good people. Gary Disarcina comes over from the Red Sox with very high marks.  He’s the new bench coach that is considered one of the best in baseball.  Dave Eiland takes over the pitching.  For most of the Mets pitchers, it will be the first new voice they’ve heard in a long time, having been under the tutelage of Dan Warthen for their entire major league careers.  Eiland did a fantastic job with the Royals who defeated the Mets in the 2015 World Series.  Then of course there are the player changes.

In addition to Frasier, Sandy Alderson signed Jay Bruce, reliever Anthony Swarzak, Adrian Gonzales (ah…), pitcher Daniel Zamora, and resigned Jose Reyes who will be a bench player (let’s hope). Also the Mets have completely revamped their medical department.  That combined with Callahan’s approach to health will hopefully keep most of the Mets on the field this season.

So with all the Mets have done over the off season, why am I not more optimistic?  Well as the saying goes, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice… Hopefully I, a mean we, will be pleasantly surprised.  It all starts Monday, February 12th, in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

The Business of the Mets

The Mets have been written off, likely to finish in last place after the 2018 season concludes.  The Nationals are still really good.  The Braves are getting better and better, the Phillies have improved too and recently signed guitarist Carlos Santana to play first base.  Well alright, the Marlins are once again selling off the franchise so maybe the Mets finish in fourth.

Or maybe they actually do better.  Mets fans are angry and I can’t blame them.  I’m angry too and here’s why.  The Mets just aren’t the Yankees when it comes to spending money and likely will never be unless the Mets are sold to a billionaire who loves baseball and never want’s to lose.  I don’t see that happening anytime soon.  So with that we make a choice to follow the Mets or the Yankees or some other team that spends more.

Now look, none of this means the Mets cannot compete in 2018.  They were in the World Series just two seasons ago and made the playoffs in 2016 too, losing the wildcard game.  Last season became a disaster because of a number of reasons.  First and foremost were all the injuries.  How can you win when most of the starting staff and the star left fielder were either on the DL or hampered by injuries.  The bullpen, as typically handled by Terry Collins, was a complete mess.  Then it was learned after the season that the clubhouse had become somewhat fractured and perhaps Collins no longer had the players back anymore.  Of course that can often happen during a losing season.

So in the shadow of the Yankees getting superstar Giancarlo Stanton to play along with superstar Aaron Judge, the Mets signed a very decent relief pitcher in Anthony Swarzak.  GM Sandy Alderson wants to build up the bullpen to support the starting staff. Okay, he’s done that and is likely not done brining in new players.  They have also been actively looking for a second baseman and may reunite with Jay Bruce.  Not bad moves and if all the pitchers, Yoenis Cespedes, and Michael Conforto (when he comes back) stay healthy, there is no reason to think the Mets cannot be competitive in 2018.

Now if the Mets want to sign Mike Moustakas to play third base, I’m not going to stand in their way.  I’ll even take Todd Frazier.  But either are not likely.  The Mets use a model of basing their salary on advanced ticket sales, TV revenue, merchandising, and whatever else is an income source.  Many teams do this.  What I don’t get is the thinking.  How does not signing Moustakas or a similar impact free agent foster selling more tickets?  It seems to me that if the front office shows an unwillingness to invest in the team, the fans are not going to clamor to buy tickets ahead of time.  However, a lot of bitching and moaning Mets faithful would reconsider say a Moustakas and a Darvish were coming to Flushing.  How do you think the Yankees’ ticket office did once it was announced that Stanton would be donning the pinstripes?

The New York Post had an article indicating that Fred Wilpon was aghast that the Yankees traded for Stanton and took on a 265 million dollar salary.  Really Fred?  You’re shocked by that?  How long have you lived in New York?  Maybe instead of complaining that the Yankee model can’t be sustained you should take a page from it.  I’m not saying the Mets should become the Yankees but just be a bit more flexible and take a risk or two that could payoff big dividends.

Whether the Mets pick up more impact free agents or not, I still think they will be better next season. How much better is hard to predict.  Hopefully the Mets will make some smart moves before spring training to get those tickets going out the door.

Stanton Was Never Coming Here

So the Yankees pull a rabbit out of their hat (again) and Mets fans go absolutely insane.  They are calling for the Wilpons to sell the team but let’s be honest. Giancarlo Stanton was never, ever going to approve a trade to the Mets.  So stop blaming the owners.  But…

You CAN blame the owners.  Because you need to ask yourself why would Stanton not approve a trade to the Mets?  I think the answer is clear.  The Mets simply don’t win enough.  Why wouldn’t Stanton or any player in his position not want to go to the Yankees?  They win all the time.  They just went through a brief rebuilding effort and never stepped below .500. Why do the  Yankees win all the time?  Because the Yankee owners make that the number one priority in their mission statement.  “Our mission is to win, period!”

Can’t say that about a lot of teams, including our dear beloved New York Mets.  Yes, they want to win but not at all cost.  They don’t want to spend the way the Yankees do.  They look at their budget over a stretch of time and depending how they’ve done the previous season will determine what their new budget will be.  F-that say the Yankees.  They will spend what it takes to win and that’s what they demonstrated again yesterday.  So ultimately yes, Mets fans are not wrong to blame Mets ownership.  The Wilpons have not created the atmosphere for the biggest stars of the game to want to come to Flushing.

Rarely have the Mets been successful at signing a big time free agent.  Tom Seaver, Daryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, Keith Hernandez, Mike Piazza, Johan Santana, and Yoenis Cespedes all arrived through development or trade.  True, Piazza and Cespedes signed their next contract with the Mets but seldom have the Mets picked up a marquee player straight from the draft.  But let’s not forget that this is “Money-Ball” philosophy that Mets GM Sandy Alderson helped to create.

So while the Yankees have to be the odds on favorite oto win the AL East, it doesn’t mean the Mets will necessarily have a bad season.  It appears that Mets fans are assuming that will be the case.  Stanton has played his entire career on the Marlins with some other very good players and they’ve won nothing.  Of course he now joins a much more talented team.  Would Stanton have made the Mets better?  Of course he would have, he would make any team better.  But the fact is he’s Yankee now and there’s nothing we can do about it.

The Mets have a new manager and a new coaching staff for the most part.  They have a fine group of pitchers who should do very well if they are healthy.  They can score runs with the players they have, again if they can stay healthy.  And I’m sure changes are still to come at the Baseball Winter Meetings that begins tomorrow.

Clearly the Stanton trade hit’s the Mets below the public relations belt, no doubt.  But the fact is he was never coming here.  Mets ownership saw to that a long time ago.