Mets Have A Big Game Today, What…Too Early ?

 

For all the moaning and groaning we Mets fans have done this early in the season, when you survey the these first two week of the season a 7-7 record is pretty good if not close to over achiever status for  the Mets. Yes of course there are still problems and holes on this club just like the rest of baseball but I guess as Mets fans we tend to wear blinders when it comes to the rest of MLB.

With a win this afternoon, the Mets will have completed a 6-3 road trip a trip, which by the way that had them play a night game in Atlanta (I hope the organization never forgets this as it’s up to the home team  as a courtesy, schedule a day game when the visitor is going to play in a different time zone the next day. Stay classy Bravos) then fly to Anaheim, a flight that got them to Orange County at 6AM, to play the Angles that night.  Sure playing the woeful D’Backs helps out but you know if the Mets were 3-5 instead of 5-3 you’d be screaming and making a fool of yourself, so give credit when the do well.

It’s up to Dillon Gee to come through with a solid effort today and what better team for a struggling pitcher to face than the D’Backs. It will be interesting to watch how Gee pitches the third time through the lineup and how Terry Collins handles Gee at that point in the game.  With the bullpen bouncing back from a tough time in Anaheim, it would behoove Collins’ to get Jureys Familia and Papa Grande in the game today.

We’re all bummed about Juan Lagares going on the DL but let’s look at like this his hammy isn’t torn and the fortnight away shouldn’t hurt him too much. Also let’s stop with the doom and gloom that Lageres isn’t the everyday centerfielder, he is and will be when he gets back. For now let’s just hope that Chris Young can boost this offense  and play a solid centerfield and then when Lagares gets back hopefully the team is playing well enough that Sandy Alderson has a tough decision to make.

I hope I’m not making too big a deal over today’s game but a win to top off a road trip 6-3 and coming home with an 8-7 record would be very sweet.

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Shake ‘Em Up Terry

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Check out the latest Kult of Mets Personalities Podcast from this past Saturday as we welcomed Matt Cerrone of Mets Blog as our guest. It’s worth a listen just to hear me rant incoherently about bringing up Bobby Abreu and giving him a first baseman’s glove. Hey, I was on 5 hours sleep after a Mets loss what do you expect.

So the Mets went 3-3 this past week, taking 2 of 3 in Atlanta and dropping 2 of 3 in Anaheim and while the spotlight of Mets fans angst shines bright on the failings of the bullpen, the real culprits for the loses this weekend falls squarely on the offense or lack thereof.

No bullpen can be productive when it is called on game in and game out to either hold single run leads or deficits or pitch 4 or more innings due to ineffective starting pitching. Here we are just two weeks into the season and already Terry Collins is telling is the Scott Rice is fired.

It’s not just that the lineup hasn’t produced but it is also poorly constructed. When Chris Young gets back at the end of the week, he should go right to the leadoff spot with Eric Young going to the bench.   In fact here is the lineup I’d like to see for a few games:

Chris Young

Travis d’Arnaud

Wright

Granderson

Ike/Duda

Murph

Lagares

Tejada

Pitcher

I agree with Ron Darling (btw where the hell is Keith Hernandez?)that Murph is not a 2 hole hitter and he is not John Olerud. Murph is a guy who goes up to the plate looking for a hit. It’s what got him to the big leagues. Maybe if he was left alone (and another thing, do the Mets need 2 hitting coaches? I doubt it) he would be more comfortable and produce more offense.

I love how after two weeks some Mets fans think d’Arnaud is a bust. Maybe if he hit a little higher in the lineup it would help to get his bat going.

Poor David Wright.

First base is still a mess and it will stay a mess until the front office stops flopping like a flounder out of water and make a decision on who’s on first. The way it stands now, Ike with Josh Stain as his caddy is the way to go. Drop Duda to Las Vegas and bring up Bobby Abreu. When you do bring up Abreu, give him a first baseman glove a let him workout at first base in pre-game.    I understand he never played there and he’s 40 years old but when you have as anemic an offense as the Mets have you have to implement desperate measures.

Let’s end the speculation that Juan Lagares is not an everyday player. He’s the centerfielder today, tomorrow and the next day etc…..

Memo to Dilon Gee and Bartolo Colon, get your shit together fast because the competition is gaining on you.

It’s on to Phoenix for 3 against a D’Back team that could help wake the Mets sleeping bats. The Diamondback have been woeful early with a 4-11 record, worst in baseball and a 1-8 record at home. The horrendous start is fueled by dreadful starting pitching; hopefully the Mets flaccid bats can somehow become aroused.

We also get to see old friends J.J. Putz and the immortal Ollie Perez.

 

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Keane on Sports Podcast 4-9-14

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On this episode of Keane on Sports, I’m joined by Jon Hart who has written the book Man versus Ball : One Ordinary Guy and his Extraordinary Sports Adventures and by NEWSDAY columnist Neil Best as we talk about the state of of sports talk radio in NYC

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Shake ‘Em Up Sandy

 

Sorry all trades are final, yes everyone on that list is available. You can mix and match, an outfielder and a pitcher for a back end reliever  or Ike, a Billy Wagner bobblehead and an 8X10 of Jeff Wilpon and 50 Cent  for shortstop, make me an offer nothing will be refused” 

 

This past Sunday was one of those rare and wonderful days when I had nothing to do. It was a sit back relax and watch baseball day. I started out watching our beloved Amazin’s miss out on a sweep of The Cincinnati Red Legs losing 2-1. From there it was off to the west coast through the magic of MLB Extra Innings to Oakland to watch the A’s and the Mariners.

I love watching games from the Oakland Coliseum. It’s the closest you can get to remember the ambiance of Shea Stadium of the 1980’s. A’s fans put on a non-stop display of what it’s like to “root, root, root for the home team” complete with bells, whistles, drums, flags and banners. Just about everything you are not allowed to bring into Citi Field. The noise from the stands doesn’t break stride, in fact as I was enjoying my day of baseball, my wife was working on the NY Times crossword when she looked up and said “that’s not the Mets game is it” No dear it’s the Oakland A’s, I said to which she replied “I thought so, it was too noisy to be a Mets game”

Now my wife is not a baseball fan but she remembers what it was like at Shea in the ‘80’s when we were just like A’s fans. Mets fans hooted and hollered and jumped up and down so much it made the Upper Deck sway.  We took our queue from our team of renegades just like the A’s fans do today and we fed off each other.

That feeling is lost at Citi Field. There have been a lot of columns written in the past couple of days about how this Mets team has been poorly constructed. Kevin Kernan of the NY Post wrote about the FUBAR approach Sandy Alderson has taken in handling the 1st base assignment. Michael Geus of 2 Guys Talking Mets Baseball wrote about the disconnect between the fan base and this team and how Alderson needs to step up and make a move and not let this season go down the drain. John Mackade of Mack’s Mets writes about the lack of direction and commitment to winning as well. Now I’m writing about it and many are Tweeting and posting comments on this site and many others are calling sports talk radio to vent that it’s time for Sandy Alderson to stop sitting on his hands and take charge and make some moves to improve this team. Not just with physically more talented players but with players who have better make up than most on this current roster.

The fans at Citi Field have taken on the personality of this club. This Mets team, just like the last four editions lacks a winning mentality.  I have taken Terry Collins to task many times here as being more of a camp counselor  than baseball manager but I’m starting to think I’ve given Collins more grief than he deserves and I’ve been too lenient with how Alderson has done his job.

We are in year four of the Alderson Era and while he has made big improvements in the farm system and pulled off two terrific trades, he’s failed when it comes to finding the type of players teams with limited money acquire that not only produce but have that certain something that translates into winning.

Alderson has done nothing to clean up the mess that is the Mets infield, where the only positive is David Wright at 3B. The rest of the infielders are comical on defense just as they have been last season and the season before. It seems he has gotten the outfield right although free agent signee Chris Young is on the shelf with a sore quad which leaves us with Eric Young Jr. Composing a bullpen has been more difficult for Alderson to solve than Calculus.

It’s time for Alderson to make some bold moves, if Lucas Duda is your man then deal Ike Davis. If you can deal Daniel Murphy for a reliever then do it. If you feel Wilmer Flores can hit at the big league level then bring him up. It’s time to step off the egg shells and get pro-active. The fan base in is a deep malaise. There are more fans milling around the Shea Bridge eating Shake Shack burgers and slugging down fancy boy beers and talking about how shitty the winter weather was and how they’ve been trying to sell unwanted tickets  they have which is as fruitless as  selling encyclopedias door to door.

This organization needs a solid kick in the ass and it’s up to the GM to put some steel toed boots on and start kicking.

 

 

 

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The NY Mets Plan? There Is No Plan

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Yesterday was one of the great Mets wins in a long, long time. Bravo Ike Davis for bringing the fan base to its feet with cheers instead of tears but the fact that Ike gets the start at 1B today make this nice little 2 game win streak irrelevant .

While Mets  fans should be rooting for a three game sweep over a first division club in the Cincinnati Reds, we are left to scratch are heads as to why this team continues to make the moves it does. Terry Collins proclaimed Lucas Duda as THE starting first baseman. To most clear thinking fans the interpretation  was that Duda would start the bulk of games at first with Josh Satin as his righty hitting under study, but a look at the lineup for today its Ike Davis at 1B against the right handed Alfredo Simon ,so much for Duda getting a chance to play every day.

If Collins reasoning to play Ike over Duda was on account of that game winning Grand Slam, it would hold more merit with me but his response as to why Ike gets the start today is a head shaker:

Despite naming Lucas Duda his starter, Terry Collins said that he was planning to start Davis on Sunday anyway.

“When I talked to him the other day, I said, ‘Listen, you’re going to play Sunday. So even though it may not be an everyday thing, you’re going to get playing time,” Collins said

Uhhhhhh???? After TWO games as the ever day first baseman, Duda takes a seat and Ike gets to play. Are you kidding me? Where is the plan? Where is the commitment to Duda to give him time to get in a groove? Is there a plan? Out sure it there is it’s called the seat of your pants plan.

If I’m a player in that clubhouse I have to have some strong reservations when the manager tells me what my role is on this team, because what your told today could change tomorrow. This is the main problem Mets relievers have with the manager, they would like to know what their defined role is in the pen and Collins couldn’t care less about how they feel he wants them to be ready at all times when that bullpen phone rings. How‘s that been working out for you so far Terry?

As you can hear in the above  link to the Mets Kult of Personalities Podcast from yesterday,  I talked about Sandy Alderson over playing his hand in trying to deal Davis in the off season and spring and that I feel it’s time to move him not to Las Vegas but to another organization .

As much as I enjoyed the Grand Slam Walk Off yesterday, I still say it’s time to cut bait with Ike.

 

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Observations from Opening Day at Citi Field

 

Observations from opening day at Citi Field in no particular order:

Woke up yesterday to rain, snow flurries and freezing temps, not the kind of weather you want to see as you head out the door for opening day. I sat in Section 508 where the wind was whipping and even though the sun was shining by game time, the sun never hit Row 9 Seat 22. As it never fails, as soon as I get nice and comfortable here come three shitheads who have seats at the other end of the row and instead of going down the stairs and around to the side they should be on, they felt it was better to inconvenience   the rest of us in Row 9 and walk thru the row to their seats. All that was missing was the three schmucks wearing Yankees paraphernalia.

Happy to report not a Yankee cap or jacket was seen at Citi Field yesterday just a sea of blue and orange like it should be.

Buy the way, Citi Field was packed yesterday so reports from the Mets haters out there that it wasn’t a sellout is pure bullshit.

Pre-game ceremony was great as Howie Rose did his usual fine job as master of ceremonies and the tribute to Ralph Kiner was handled with class. There is a tribute to Kiner on the left field wall that hopefully will stay there beyond this season. I wish the Gary Carter memorial patch stayed on the outfield wall from last year but I guess Wheat Thins check cleared for the spot.

Congratulations to the Murphy’s on the birth of their son Noah. Slante`

I like watching Eric Young Jr. strut to the plate for each at bat that said even with his sac fly RBI in the 2nd inning, his four K’s were brutal.

At what point does Juan Lagares become an everyday player? What else does he have to do to prove he’s earned his job?

Chris Young had a sore quad muscle that kept him out of the game, his understudy Andrew Brown filled in better than you could expect, clubbing a three run homer off Strasburg in the first inning. Sad part is he’s here until Jon Niese gets healthy then it’s off to Vegas.  Baseball at times is very unfair.

So Ike Davis had the runs right before game time and then was double switched out with Lucas Duda  late in the game. A month from now Ike will be an ex-Met

I’m not going to comment about Curtis Granderson, too early for that.

I never want to hear a fan complain about concession prices ever again, every stand had long lines yesterday, especially the overpriced beer stands.

Very happy for Darren Meehan of The 7 Line as his merchandise was on sale at Citi Field yesterday and seeing Darren proud and happy was as good as anything to come out of opening day.

I could rant for another 1,000 words on the bullpen but what’s the sense? What I didn’t understand (is it too early for this?) was the role of the relievers that Terry Collins used yesterday? I agree that Dillon Gee was on fumes in the seventh inning but why go to Carlos Torres that late in the game? Why not go to Jeurys Familia to get that third out? Torres is not a guy I’d bring in during an inning and Familia was quite impressive this spring, this way you have Papa Grande for the 8th and Bobby Parnell in the 9th. I guess the way Parnell pitched it’s a moot point and I have to think Alderson has to be concerned with Parnell and maybe the club rushed him back too soon and a stint in extended spring training may have been the way to go for Parnell to build up velocity and gain back his command.

Bobby Abreu? Really? Why?

As bad as the loss was yesterday, I keep thinking about all the gloomy days and night I spent with my snow shovel clearing snow that was pushing back at me via the Polar Vortex. How winter just wouldn’t leave even in the morning yesterday but then by 1:05PM the sun was out and I was sitting at the ball park watching baseball. The results sucked but the day was great. So happy to see you baseball, you were sorely missed.

 

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Will Mets Sink or Swim? Depends on Late Inning Relief

 

It’s finally here. After 50 some odd inches of snow and the invasion of the Polar Vortex into our bones and vocabulary (ever since Hurricane Irene the meteorology community have gone pure ape shit over storms. Every time there is heavy rain or snow it’s the end of the world as these “look at me” wann a be television stars love scaring the shit out of us. I can’t wait until the potential deadly heat wave hits NYC in August) we have arrived at Opening Day of the 2014 MLB season.

Opening Day used to be a solemn baseball holiday. The Cincinnati Reds were afford the right to be the first team to play in honor of the Red Legs being the oldest franchise in baseball. That ended when MLB pimped the rights to Opening Day to ESPN who in turn used Sunday night as opening night. Then MLB 14 years ago today had the Mets and Cubs open in Tokyo (raise your hand if you were up at 5AM watching that opening day game. Remember Benny Agbayani’s Grand Slam in the 11th inning? How about the Cubs starter that day, Kyle Farnsworth?) now this season we had the Dodgers and Diamondbacks go to Australia to open the season, then come back to the states for more exhibition games and then have the Dodgers and Padres re-open the season again tonight on ESPN. WHEW!!! It was so much easier years ago.

But for us Mets fans tomorrow is our opening day, our first day to see our heroes in action with real ammo in 2014. Not much has changed from last year’s team; the club still has holes at first base, shortstop and in the owner’s pockets.  Sandy Alderson has proclaimed this year’s edition a 90 win baseball team, a nice mind set and one I like but let’s be pragmatic here anything north of 81 wins would be cause for jubilation.

The 25 man roster was declared after the second loss in a row to the Toronto Blue Jays up in Montreal and there was just one surprise, Jenry Mejia beating out Daisuke Matsuzaka for the 5th starters spot in the rotation. The surprise being that it was the right move. Sure Dice-K had a terrific spring but he doesn’t have the talent and trade value that Jenry Mejia has. Not only has Mejia pitched lights out this spring to earned the job but he is one beautiful trade chip who could bring the solid ML shortstop or consistent power hitting first baseman this team desperately needs.

I’d be a whole lot more confident in the bullpen if I had seen Bobby Parnell regain his velocity and the command he mastered last season before the bulging disk in his neck cut short his season. I like what I see from Jureys Famila and Carlos Torres is right now the most underrated player on this Mets roster. Gonzalez German throws hard, throws strikes but at times loses command of the strike zone which in turn becomes base on balls. If he cuts down the walks then he will be an asset late in games.  Papa Grande is a crap shoot. Scott Rice and Scott Lanan round out the portside of the pen.

If I have any criticism of how Sandy Alderson has put together his rosters the past years, it’s not having even a league average bullpen. The bullpen will be the difference between a winning season and a losing one for the Mets.  The last 2-3 years the bullpen has rip the heart out of this team as nothing deflates a ball club like relievers blowing late game leads.

 

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Check Out Keane on Sports Podcast 3-26-14

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On this episode of Keane on Sports Podcast, my guest is Doug Wilson, author of the book, BROOKS:The Biography of Brooks Robinson   

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Whatever The Mets Are Selling, Is Anyone Buying?

 

More roster moves were made today by the NY Mets and they were met with a lot of head shaking by Mets fans.  Seems the consensus is, Mets fans would rather see Wilmer Flores play shortstop over Ruben Tejada , hell, Mets fans would welcome anyone but Ruben Tejada playing at the shortstop spot.

As far as the fifth starter spot goes, the Mets made the mistake of televising Jenry Mejia’ start against the Nationals. Mets fans who don’t fancy basketball or Law and Order SVU marathons, watched Mejia hold a Nats lineup that looks as close to their everyday lineup as you can get in March, in check for 5 innings. But instead of happiness the Mets fans were told that Mejia could still pitch for Wally Backman and Frank Viola in Las Vegas while Daisuke Matsuzaka is the leading candidate to grab the 5th starter.

We then find out that Ike Davis was pulled from a split squad game due to “fatigue”. Seems with all the inaction that has involved Davis this spring, playing baseball for four straight days has Ike on the verge of exhaustion.

This is what you get when your payroll is in the bottom third of MLB. You get shortstops without range or the ability to hit, you get washed up vets who pitch over youngsters with promise so you can slow their arbitration clocks and you get four first basemen and the one who looks the most as a big league player (Eric Campbell) can’t even get on your forty man roster.

Again the Mets play in the capital of the universe, in a state of the art ballpark and OWN a big share of a TV Network (the unwatchabilty of SNY is a post for a rainy day) and STILL this team is in the bottom third of payroll with no sense of urgency of breaking out the lower tier.

Sure the team spent money this offseason on Curtis Granderson and Chris Young, who by the way Ron Darling could not heap enough praise on during yesterday’s telecast, and Bartolo Colon.  But why did the club stop there.

Why didn’t Sandy Alderson work a deal for a big league shortstop? Is the party line of not trading the young pitchers because of the talent of the pitchers or is it that their salaries are controllable and a bona fided big league shortstop makes a lot of money? Why isn’t there a veteran backup catcher to help out Travis d’Arnaud ?

For any fans of the other NY sports teams it’s hard to digest the Mets tight purse strings. Yes I know the other three major sports teams in this town all work under a salary cap. The NHL and NFL have a hard cap whereas the NBA has a cap but you go over you pay a penalty.  James Dolan and Mikhail Prokhorov have no problem going over the cap and paying the penalties, sure one team is competitive  and the other struggling but even Dolan who is seen by many as the worst owner in town (far from it, the Wilpon’s still hold that belt) went out and signed the best basketball person available in Phil Jackson to fix his beleaguered NY Knicks.

For all the guff that Glen Sather gets he has still put together a Stanley Cup competitive team every year and Dolan has given him the monetary resources to make player moves to help the team (no one gives a rat’s ass about the Islanders and Devils sorry fans of those teams but even you know the New York Rangers own this city hockey wise).

The NY Giants lost their first six games last season, the ownership of John Mara and Steve Tisch didn’t panic they waited out the storm. The G-Men went 7-3 in their last 10 games. A solid recovery but not to where the owners were happy. So what did Mara/Tisch do? Cleaned house on the offensive coaching staff that had grown stagnant rebuilt the secondary via free agency and brought in kick returners to bolster poor special teams. That’s what owners who are winners and are committed to winning do. That’s why there is a waiting list for Giants season tickets. You won’t see Giants tickets on Groupon.

As for the Jets see the hockey paragraph above.

With all the holes at shortstop, first base and behind the plate the biggest hole we have is Mets ownership. Nothing will change until they’re gone.

 

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10 Days Away From Opening Day…Do You Know Who Your Mets Are?

Dennis Ribant has nothing to to do with this post. I just felt like posting his baseball card. For some reason I was thinking about Ribant and why his Mets career was so short. Yes, I need to go out and get some fresh air.   

So we are a mere 10 days away from opening day and the questions at the start of spring training are still questions as we hit the training camp home stretch.  Who’s on first? What’s on second and at shortstop? I DON’T KNOW!!!!!!!!

Let’s peruse the Mets roster that could debut at Citi Field a week from Monday in front a lot of empty seats:

The much anticipated battle of the stiffs never materialized as both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda went down with leg injuries.  That gave us a chance to see Eric Campbell and Josh Satin play the bulk of the spring games. Both players looked to be much better choices than either Ike or Duda but only one of them will make the 25 man roster and looks to be Satin. The shame of it is Campbell will not make it north because he hits from the right side, and Ike, Satin and most likely Duda will make the club. That’s a damn shame.

Daniel Murphy will be the everyday 2nd baseman until Ike Davis and Lucas Duda flop then he would shift over to 1st base and Terry Collins favorite Eric Young Jr would become the regular 2nd baseman that is unless Wilmer Flores takes that spot and EYJ keeps a spot as a super sub. Whew! Where for art thou Edgardo Alfonzo?

None of the in house candidates to play shortstop, Ruben Tejada, Omar Quintanilla or Wilmer Flores are much with the glove so why not take the best bat out of the three which would be Flores and start him at short? Let Ruben be what he was born to be a utility infielder and let Quintanilla be what he was destined to be, a former big league player.

David Wright 3rd base. Nuff’ said

It seems as if long time minor league journeyman and Jersey boy Anthony Seratelli will make this club as a super-sub. His ability to switch hit and get on base makes him an asset.

Chris Young has picked up his offense lately this spring so let’s hope that translates into the season. $7.25 mil for a player whose offensive game has declined the last three seasons seems like a huge gamble for a team that has to scrape and scrimp to come up with that kind of scratch. Got to hope this is not the offensive version of Frank Frank  .

There is no way in hell Terry Collins cannot write Juan Lagares name in the everyday lineup.   Not just Collins but no one in the organization can make a rational argument as to why Lagares will not be in centerfield just about every day.  Here’s a newsflash, the Washing ton Nationals are going to win the division by about 20 games so let’s play Lagares every day and let him grow as a big leaguer .

Can Curtis Granderson give the Mets an average Granderson season? Would you sign on for .261/.340/.488 with 30 HR 80 RBI? Oh hell yeah!

The training wheels are off Travis d’Arnaud, it’s not only his pitching staff but he has to contribute offensively as well. TDA’s bat could be the X factor in this season’ run to respectability.  Yes that is Kevin Pawlicki in the rear view mirror

Jon Niese starts the season on the DL but could be activated by the first weekend series against the Cincinnati Red Legs. With Niese out, Dillion Gee has been given the honor of starting the first game of the season. Good for Gee who was solid the last half of last season and has paid his dues in the organization. Gee will be followed by Zack Wheeler, Bartolo Colon and Dice-K. That’s a solid starting staff and with Raphael Montero and the Mighty Thor waiting in the wings, the club is flush with stellar pitching arms.

The front office has had a tough time putting together a solid bullpen. It doesn’t help that Terry Collins and Dan Warthen are not the best late inning pitching strategists  either but in order to be the 90 win team Alderson thinks he has here, he’s going to need a bullpen that ranks in the top ten , something that has eluded the Mets for a few years now.

There has to be trepidation over the lack of velocity coming from the right arm of Bobby Parnell and the lack of command shown by Vic Black.  Jose Valverde looks like he’s made the team and could step in to close when needed as well as Jeurys Familia who has had a spectacular spring. Scott Rice comes back as the LOOGY with Carlos Torres and John Lannan as long men/spot starters. This could be the year the Mets have a pen to believe in.

Jeremy Gibson of the Blue Jays blog 500 Level Fan asked me for my take on the NL East race this season by the way seems the Jays fans are still hurting from the trade last year.

 

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