Archive Page 2

The Good List (well at least a couple things from the good list)

Yesterday I posted 14 bad things. I think one game last night wiped them all out. Mets fans showed what class they truly are. The outpouring  of support for Wilmer Flores last night in the wake of what he went through 48 hours prior was truly awe inspiring. This franchise is historically a losing one. But on the other hand, I can’t think of a team that has had more special moments that are revered for so long as the Mets. A lot of that has to do with their fans, truly the best in baseball. Last night was simply a storybook night. Hollywood couldn’t have written a better script.

Oh, and we got Yoenis Cespedes. Not a bad day, not a bad day at all.

Alderson Deadline Deals

Deals made on or prior to the deadline by the Alderson regime since they took control in 2011

2011 – Traded Carlos Beltran to San Francisco for Zach Wheeler, Claimed Mike Baxter off waivers, traded Francisco Rodriguez to the Milwaukee Brewers for Danny Herrera and Adrian Rosario

2012 - Sold Omar Quintanilla to the Baltimore Orioles, released Miguel Batista

2013 – Released Shaun Marcum

2014 – None

2015 Traded minor league prospects for Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe from Braves, and Tyler Clippard from Oakland

Update…

2015 Just before the 4:00PM EDT deadline, Alderson acquires slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from the Detroit Tigers for minor league pitchers Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa. Depending on how the season goes and if the Mets can re-sign Cespedes (free agent after the season), this could be Sandy’s “Gary Carter” deal.

 

The Bad List

Just how difficult is it to be a Mets fan? It’s pretty difficult. When you think you have reached an all new low (the Wednesday Gomez-Flores-Wheeler fiasco) the Mets are somehow able to lower the bar even further. I am of course referring to yesterday’s gut wrenching loss at the hands of the San Diego Padres who today may trade away half of their losing ball club.

All season long, pitching has been the Mets strength while hitting has been abysmal. So on a day when the camp kids went to Citi and the Mets looked like they had one in their back pocket with a 7-1 lead, the spirits of what must be the dead in the burial ground under Citi Field had something to say about the outcome.

With lightning flashing and the rain coming down, it looked like a lost scene right out of “The Natural”. Only this time, instead of a hero like ending, the dark clouds signaled something bad was about to happen. You know the story by now and I have recapped it as the last item on my list of 14 bad things that have happened this season. Granted, most of them are injury related but this is a list that makes you wonder how is it the Mets are still relevant. It is, after all, the latest in a season the Mets are still playing meaningfull games since 2008. So I guess that’s a positive. But below is a list of what has challenged the Mets since before the season started.

1 – March17: Josh Edgin struggling with his velocity ends up with Tommy John surgery and is lost for the season.

2 – March 25: Zach Wheeler, who has had elbow soreness for months, has Tommy John surgery and will be out for a year and a half.

3 – March: Vic Black never throws a pitch suffering from shoulder tendinitis. He is sent to Las Vegas where he begins rehabbing but then suffers a groin injury. He has not thrown a pitch since early June but is not on the disabled list nor is he on the active roster. What’s up with that?

4 – April 6: Jenrry Mejia is placed on the disabled list with a sore elbow after warming up in the bullpen on opening day.

5 – April 11: Jenrry Mejia is suspended for 80 games for testing positive for stanozolol, a performance enhancing drug.

6 – April 14: David Wright tweaks his hamstring with an awkward slide into second base. Then while rehabbing it’s discovered he has lumbar spinal stenosis. He has finally begun baseball activities but his return is still an unknown. Wright has played in just eight games this season.

7 – April 19: Jerry Blevins is hit by a line drive and suffers a broken forearm. This week he has finally been cleared to throw. Blevins has the slowest healing bone in history.

8 – April 19: In the same game Blevins goes down, Travis d’Arnaud, who got off to a very hot start, gets hit by an inside pitch. He suffered a broken bone in his left hand, was disabled and lost for several weeks. Shortly after his activation (June 20), he then suffers a hyperextended elbow on a tag play at home plate. He is disabled again. He’s played in just 19 games so far this season and finally should be in the lineup tonight. A great prospect but often injured, d’Arnaud will be key to the Mets fortunes down the stretch.

9 – April 29: Pitcher Rafael Montero goes on the DL with inflammation in the rotator cuff. After a couple of recent starts in the Gulf Coast league, the stiffness returns and he will be re-evaluated by doctors.

10 – May 13: Buddy Carlyle is sent to the DL with hip injury. Has hip surgery of the labrum July 12 and is done for the season.

11 – July 24: After suffering for a while with a sore knee, Michael Cuddyer is placed on the disabled list. Cuddyer is having a miserable first year with the Mets.

12 – July 28: Jenrry Mejia is suspended 162 games for the use of stanozolol and Boldenone. His Mets career is likely over. I understand Walmart is hiring.

13 – July 29: In one of the more bizarre days in Mets history, a major trade is announced that causes Wilmer Flores to be seen in tears on the field. He learns from fans that he has been traded but remains in the game. Manager Terry Collins is in the dark and continues to keep Flores playing. Meanwhile reports are circulating that a deal is done that would bring Carlos Gomez to the Mets for Flores and Zach Wheeler. After the game, GM Sandy Alderson said no deal was made and apologizes to Flores. It is leaked that the Mets were not happy with the medical reports on Gomez’s hip while the Brewers front office says the Mets dropped out for money reasons. Gomez is later traded to the Astros.

14 – July 30: The worst loss of the season occurs when the Mets bullpen blows a six run lead in excruciating fashion. It was literally the “perfect storm”. Down to the last out with one strike on the batter, time is called as it begins pouring on the field. After sitting for more than a half hour, closer Jeurys Familia is sent back out to record the final out. Down to the last strike, two singles and a home run sink the Mets dropping them three games behind the Nationals with them coming to Citi Field for a three game set this weekend.

So if anyone tells you being a Mets fan is easy, show them this list. While every team has issues, the Mets are the poster boy for things going wrong.

Update…

15 – August 6th: Rehabbing pitcher Jerry Blevins slips on a curb and re-injures the same arm that was broken by a line drive back in April. He will require surgery, ending his season. You can’t make this stuff up.

Another Weird Night at the Ballpark

I’m not even bothering to read the comments on Metsblog.com this morning. I’m sure I can predict very accurately the percentage of negative comments regarding the fiasco last evening at Citi Field.

First off, the facts… Apparently the Mets had a deal in place where they would send Zach Wheeler and Wilmer Flores to Milwaukee for one time Met turned slugger Carlos Gomez. Then, medical reports on Gomez apparently confirmed the Mets’ fears regarding a balky hip and so the deal was nixed—by the Mets, not the Brewers. That’s surprising only in that Wheeler has the obvious medical condition recovering from Tommy John surgery.

If these are the facts then I cannot blame the Mets for the decision they made. Matt Cerrone of Metsblog makes a reasonable point that the Mets still might have been better off with Gomez in center even not at one-hundred percent health. However, I don’t think one can argue the Mets position either. The Sandy Alderson regime has been a conservative one and has dealt with far too many injured players. They don’t need to add another one. So that a deal was made and then dropped is not that surprising. It happens all the time. However, there is nothing like the circus that is the New York Mets. This organization has a knack for drawing unflattering attention.

But in fairness, was it the Mets fault?

What happened was somewhat reminiscent of the evening of May 2, 2011 when Osama Bin Laden was killed by Seal Team 6. It was at a Phillies-Mets game where chants of “USA, USA…” broke out for what seemed like no apparent reason. But of course there was a reason, and everyone in attendance was keenly aware of the world event taking place. That’s because the great majority of them, as we do today, carry around these Star Trek like devices known as smart phones. Before the ESPN announcers in the booth that Sunday evening knew what was happening, the crowd at Citizen’s Bank Park were glued to their phones awaiting confirmation that President Obama and company had done what the previous administration had failed to do. That was to take out the mastermind of 9/11.

Well last night was a lot less serious on the world stage than that evening four years ago. However, the fans at Citi Field with technology in hand, in a similar manner, got the word that the kid playing shortstop along with Wheeler was just traded to Milwaukee for Gomez. Typically if a trade occurs during the game, the player is removed from the game. But oddly, Flores remained in the game because the brain trust in the dugout, unlike the fans in the stands, had no idea that a trade was made. And that’s because officially, no trade was made. You would have to assume that if the trade was completed, Terry Collins would have been notified by the GM to remove Flores from the game immediately.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported the deal was done, shortly before 9:00PM. Fifteen minutes later, Ken Rosenthal reported the deal was not done and that “The entire world had jumped the gun”.  Turns out that Rosenthal was right, Sherman was wrong. In the meantime, the attendance at Citi Field began cheering for Flores with manager Terry Collins scratching his head wondering what in the world was going on. When a teary eyed Flores returned to the dugout, he was questioned by the manager as to what his problem was. Collins heard from Flores that he learned from the fans that he had been traded. Imagine that, the traded player informing the manager that he had been traded. It has to be a first in baseball history. Again, this could only happen to the Mets. Collins was understandable animated and colorful after the game, feeling completely in the dark about what transpired.

So we could blame the Mets for a lack of communication. However I really believe in this case, it was a reporter wanting to be the first to break a story compounded by the fact that information is instantaneous in this social media world we live in. I’m not being critical of Sherman. Nine times out of ten, he’s probably right. This situation just turned out to be the perfect storm of if anything can go wrong it will. And it did.

You had to feel for Flores. He was signed by the Mets at sixteen years old from Venezuela and has been in the organization for six years. All his friends are here, basically growing up with Mets players. While first feeling good about acquiring Gomez, my heart sank when I saw the kid crying into his jersey running off the field.

We tend to forget that players are human beings and have feelings. They also have relationships and in Flores case, being far from home from such an early age, the Mets must feel like his family. If he truly thought he was traded, like the rest of us did, I give him all the credit in the world for staying out on that field trying to help the team win. That took a lot of guts.

So the deal is off (for now).  But it does signal the Mets are willing to part ways with Flores and Wheeler and one or both could still be gone before Friday at 4:00PM EDT. However, I have a feeling the Mets are done dealing after this debacle.

Part of me hopes Flores plays this afternoon and goes four for four, making the Mets rethink their decision to trade him. That’s not because I am a fan of Wilmer Flores. It’s because who wouldn’t love a story where a player is almost traded, isn’t at the least minute, then becomes a star. I would love to see that.

Oh by the way, the Mets lost and dropped to two games behind the Nationals. And Lucas Duda hit three home runs. He’s only the second Met to ever do that at home, after Kirk Nieuwenhuis did it just a couple weeks ago.

Never a dull moment at Citi Field.

 

Bad Move, Good Move

Bad Move

Let me start off by saying that the steroid thing is very over blown. Frankly I really don’t care if Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Alex Rodriquez plus hundreds others used steroids. I know it’s against the rules and there now are penalties for using if a player gets caught. Most of these players were using when owners looked the other way while the turnstiles were spinning while homeruns were flying. And more recently, players who have gotten caught have been penalized based on the new rules in place. A-Rod missed all of last year due to his suspension because of his association with Biogenesis. He should have been at the All Star game because he is having a great year. He wasn’t because of his association with steroids. Well what is the point of serving a penalty if you still are penalized after serving?

There is a lot of evidence out there regarding the effect of steroids, if anyone cares to do the research as opposed to simply regurgitating the talking points by the endless parade of talking heads.  Hard evidence indicates there were other things at play that increased offense in the 1990’s and 2000s more than just steroids. And if steroids truly made all the difference in the world, why didn’t every hitter using slug more than 600 homeruns or every pitcher using strike out more than 3000 batters? (If you care to delve into empirical evidence, click here.)

When congress threatened to take away baseball’s anti-trust status, the owners negotiated rules with the players association to prevent the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). But let’s be honest. If the owners were really anti-drugs, they would have done something years ago, perhaps when Lenny Dykstra showed up at spring training in the late 1980s looking like Charles Atlas as opposed to…well, Lenny Dykstra. They all knew of the shenanigans going on. What the owners were really against was anti-making money.

Having said all that, it’s an argument for another day but the rules are the rules. And that brings me to this year’s dumbest player award and it goes to Jenrry Mejia. How incredibly stupid could this guy be? He just came back from an 80 game suspension to get caught again. Now he’s gone for 162 games and likely his Mets career is over if not his baseball career. Good luck working the plumbing isle at Home Depot Jenrry, smart move.

Good Move

Sandy Alderson has acquired Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, and Tyler Clippard in the last few days. Already Uribe and Johnson have made an impact on the Mets lineup. Clippard is a great acquisition. He bolsters an already good bullpen (even minus Mejia now) and helps to answer some questions. One is that if the Mets make the playoffs, Clippard can be an important part against left handed batters. Even though he is right handed, lefty batters are hitting just .100 against him, .190 for all batters.

These deals have wet the appetite of Mets fans who now want another deal made, at least one for a big bat. While that is still possible it’s probably unlikely because of the asking price. Alderson was able to make these trades while only giving up single A players. All of the Mets top prospects at AA and AAA are still in the organization. Plus he still has all of his young controllable pitchers. So any deal made before the deadline will have to bowl over the Mets for Sandy to pull the trigger.

The Mets have another hitter likely coming back Saturday. That would be Travis d’Arnaud, a catcher. Yeah, that Travis d’Arnaud, the guy who was hitting great but was only able to manage to play in 19 games so far this season. The key for d’Arnaud is he must remain healthy. If so, he will be a huge boon to the Mets offense.

Then there’s David Wright who is now cleared for baseball activity and who fielded ground balls at Citi Field prior to yesterday’s game. Barring any setbacks… and let’s face it, this is Murphy’s team. No not Daniel or Bob Murphy, Murphy as in Murphy’s Law where if anything can go wrong it will… Anyway, barring any setbacks, in about four weeks, Wright could rejoin the team and he too will hopefully add some punch. And there is always the waiver wire so deals can be made after July 31 all the way through August 31 where players can be claimed off waivers.

The Mets have improved and things are looking brighter. But somehow if the Mets don’t make a big deal, we’ll continue to see the comments about the cheap Wilpons, the company man Sandy, ya-da, ya-da, ya-da…

 

Meaningful Games

At 51-48, the Mets are hardly setting the world on fire. However, they are only two games behind the Washington Nationals for the Eastern Division lead. Considering all that has gone wrong in terms of health. The fact that the Mets have played under .500 since they won eleven games in a row in April, it really is amazing they are still in this thing 99 games into the season.

This is the closet to first place this late in the season the Mets have been since the Sandy Alderson regime took over. Consider where the Mets were after 99 games the previous four seasons.

2011 – 50-49, 12.5 back
2012 – 48-51, 11.5 back
2013 – 46-53, 10.5 back
2014 – 46-53, 9 back

Okay, 51-48 isn’t the greatest of records and there is no question the Mets have been helped out a great deal by a Washington club that cannot seem to get it together. Well so be it. It is what it is. The Mets are fortunate to be in the position they are in. With the acquisition of Juan Aribe and Kelly Johnson, and the promotion of prospect Michael Conforto, suddenly there appears to be hope from an offensive perspective. Plus Travis d’Arnaud is playing rehab games (now if he can just stay healthy) and David Wright can finally start doing baseball activity. (I’m not a fool. Would anyone be shocked if he had a setback and misses the rest of the season? Not me.)

There is talk another deal may be in the works. So at least for the remainder of the week, it’s kind of exciting around here. Maybe the Mets can bring in a major bat. Maybe they’ll add to the bullpen too, we’ll see. Even after a stretch when the Mets went 4-6 against all first place teams, things look bright ahead. If the pitching can maintain the excellence we have seen all year and just get average offensive support, the Mets have a real shot at the post season. All you can really ask for is a shot at the tournament.

There are 63 games left, that’s a little over two months of regular season baseball. These games can be and I think they will be meaningful.

 

The Remainder of 2015

Besides all the questions surrounding the offense, the one thing the Mets have going for them is the schedule. Err…, at least in terms of travel, not necessarily the teams they must play.

After the All-Star break, the Mets make their last visit to the Central Time zone. That will be a very tough three game set in St. Louis. Once the series concludes on Sunday the Mets will remain in the Eastern Time zone for the remainder of the season except for one trip to Colorado the weekend of August 21.

The Mets have 38 road games remaining. So far the Mets record on the road is a dismal 15-28. However, they did much better on their recently concluded west coast swing to Los Angeles and San Francisco. The Mets won both of those series two games to one. The Mets are going to somehow have to continue to up their game away from Citi Field if they hope to have any shot at being one of the ten teams to make the post season.

At home, the Mets have been phenomenal. After winning all three games against the Diamondbacks leading up to the All-Star break, the Mets now have a record of 32-14 at home. That’s the second best home record in the National League behind the Cardinals (31-11). The Mets have 35 home games remaining.

The Mets start the second half with a very tough six game road trip that takes them to St. Louis as mentioned then to Washington. Then the Mets return home to play the Los Angeles Dodgers for a four game set. That’s three first place teams in a row the Mets must face. That’s a difficult task that will quickly help fans determine if the Mets are going to be in this thing or not the rest of the way.

Following the Dodger series, the home stand concludes with three against San Diego and three against Washington.  It will be the second ten game home stand of the 2015 schedule. The first was back in April when the Mets set a franchise mark by winning all ten games and getting us into the mess. That ten game sweep, part of an eleven game winning streak, is what got us all hot and bothered about this season to begin with.

Then the Mets make a trip to Florida to face the Marlins followed by a short flight over to the Gulf coast to take on the Rays. It will be the first interleague play for the Mets since they split a home and home series with the Blue Jays back in June. It will also be the second and last series the Mets play on an artificial surface.

The Mets have already concluded 2015 competition against the Cubs (0-7), Brewers (3-3), Diamondbacks (5-2), Giants(3-3) and Blue Jays(2-2). By the end of the Florida trip, the Mets will have completed play against the Dodgers, Padres, and Rays as well. What’s weird is it will be the second week of August with the Mets having played all National League opponents except one, the Rockies. They come to Citi Field for four games before the wild card leading Pirates conclude their season’s series with the Mets.

Then it’s off to Baltimore for two against the Orioles before traveling to Denver then back to Philadelphia before heading home to play the Boston Red Sox. It will be Boston’s first visit to Citi Field in regulation play. If you recall, Boston helped the Mets open Citi Field during a two game exhibition before the ballpark opened for real a week later. The last time the Red Sox played the Mets for meaningful games in New York was at Shea Stadium back in 2001. The Mets took two of three from the Sox. But since then the Mets played the Red Sox at Fenway Park in 2006 and 2009. In June of the last year the Mets made the playoffs, they were humiliated by the Red Sox. The Mets lost all three games by scores of 9-4, 10-2, and 4-2. If you recall, the returning Pedro Martinez was roundly cheered by the Boston faithful but then was hung out to dry by the Boston offense.

The Mets fared much better in 2009, winning two of three at Fenway. The middle game was the dramatic home run by Omir Santos, hit off the top of the Green Monster. At first ruled as a double, the review proved the ball was a home run giving the Mets a 3-2 lead. A great defensive play in the bottom of the ninth by shortstop Ramon Martinez saved the game for the Mets.

September sees the longest road trip of the season for the Mets. It will be ten games that will take them to Miami, Washington, and Atlanta. The highlight of the home schedule in September will be the final meeting with the Yankees. It’s the first time since interleague play began that the Mets play their cross town rivals so late in a season. I am hoping it’s not a situation where the Yanks could clinch the American League East at Citi. Seeing the Yankees celebrate on Mets turf once again is something I don’t want to see.

There has been much talk about the Mets playing games in October. This year they will because the season concludes the first weekend of October at home against the Nats. How fitting and hopefully it still means something.

Seventy-three games remain. For the Mets to realistically hope to make the playoffs they are going to have to win a total of games somewhere in the high eighties. That means to win eighty-seven games for the season, the Mets must win forty of their last seventy-three. With this feast or famine (mostly famine) offense, the Mets’ hierarchy will have to make some kind of a move for a bat or two. We must assume David Wright is through for the season. And even if he comes back, what possible help will he really bring considering he has not played since game number eight. Without an upgrade in offense, the Mets are doomed to wearing out their pitching likely making for a very ugly ending to the season.

But every time when we think the season is over, the Mets bounce back and prove otherwise. If anything, the second half should be as interesting and unpredictable as the first. Let’s Go Mets!