Will 2013 Be The Summer of Lucas Duda ?

 
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Lucas Duda is one very large enigma to Mets fans. We see a strapping young man who stands 6’4” 250+ lbs and wonder, when will it all come together for Duda, when will we see 30+ HR’s and 90+ RBI. Well at 27 years old if it doesn’t come this year it mostly likely will never happen for Duda.

27 years of age is a great age to be unless you are an unproven big league baseball player. It’s an age where you are hitting your playing prime, where if you are a quality baseball player, everything comes together, it all starts to click, you have a good read on the opposing pitching staffs, you have a good idea of your hitting zone, you know when to be aggressive and when to lay off the breaking balls you chased as a greenhorn. It’s when the game starts to slow down just a bit for you to manage it effectively.  This is the season for all of this to come to Lucas Duda at the plate, if it doesn’t the Mets are in for a long season and Duda could be one in a long line of young Mets outfielders to be discarded on the side of the road.

I’ve looked a few of the projections for Duda for the coming season and while there seems to be a bit of an uptick in his power numbers by some, is it enough t to keep him as a big league starter?:

PECOTA .251/.333/.430  15 HR 54 RBI

ZiPS  .248/.330/.418  18HR  74 RBI

Bill James  .268/.356/.454   18HR  69 RBI

 

James projects Duda with a better on base and slugging percentage and I kind of agree with that. Duda has improved his eye at the plate, swinging at fewer pitches outside the strike zone (30.1, 29.8 and 35.3 last season) and his base on balls rate has gone up each season as well. But it’s the power numbers that give me pause on Duda as his Isolated Power Average dropped from .189 in 2011 to a pedestrian .150 last season. Being that the Mets lineup is still in flux-I don’t think Terry Collins knows who will be his 1-2 in the lineup yet-where Duda bats will determine how many RBI opportunities he gets, I figure Duda to bat 6th so the opportunity to drive in runs will be there for him.

Hitting just 15-18 home runs will not be acceptable this season from Duda, the Mets have to see an increase to at least mid-twenty’s if the team is going to make any noise this season and again at 27 years old, it’s time for Lucas to bust out.

The dilemma is for Duda to stay in the lineup he has got to hit and be a run producer as his defense is, and there is no way to sugar coat it,dreadful. The Mets do not need Duda to be Barry Bonds-like in left field but he needs to be able to get a good initial jump on balls and just make the routine play. In Duda’s defense (no pun intended) he is a first baseman by trade who is still learning a new position, so I have to cut him some slack.

The intangible in the whole Lucas Duda equation is his mind set. When Duda first came up to the Mets, it took a while for him to become comfortable in the major league/NYC setting. Terry Collins has mentioned that Duda has to get a grasp of being a big leaguer and now as one of the young vets on this Mets team, he has to be a leader. That doesn’t mean he has to be vocal or a rah-rah type, which is not his nature but Duda has to step up this season and be a difference maker so the club and Mets fans don’t have to suffer through another disappointing season.

Let’s all hope that 2013 becomes The Summer of Duda.      

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Hip! Hip! R.A. !

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Congratulations to R.A. Dickey on his winning the 2012 NL Cy Young Award. Here is a clip from the film Knuckleballwhere Dickey shows his craft

 

In a perfect world, R.A. Dickey would be a Met 4 Life. For an organization run as bad as a Guy Fieri restaurant that also suffers from public mocking like no other team in town that doesn’t have a bench warming Christian QB, through all that muck and mire there has been one beacon of enlightenment for Mets fans. His name is Robert Allen Dickey.

Dickey’s rough road traveled in his life and baseball career has been rewarded with his being named the 2012 recipient of the NL Cy Young Award. This award does not just legitimize the pitch that made him a star, the knuckleball, but it goes to show how sweat equity in a craft and a belief in one’s self pay off.

You would think the announcement of Dickey winning the Cy Young would set off a huge celebration in the Land of Orange and Blue. Mets fans should be making sure they secure a ticket for April 1st 2013, opening day of the baseball season at Citi Field. Mets fans should have a smile and warm feeling during this off season just thinking about hearing Mets P.A. announcer Alex Anthony make the following proclamation:

“Ladies and Gentlemen….boys and girls ….please direct your attention to the area in front of the pitchers mound where Commissioner Bud Selig has special presentation…..”

At that point the sellout crowd rises as one with a ghost of Shea Stadium roar as Selig with Cy Young plaque in hand presents it to today’s starting pitcher, R.A. Dickey. Dickey tries to say a few words to the fans, a fan base that has fallen in love with not just the pitcher but the man and his life story and his rebirth as a husband, father and baseball player, but he can’t as the crowd of 40,000 Mets fans are serenading him with chants of “R.A DICK-EY, clap clap…clap, clap..clap R.A. DICK-EY, clap, clap….clap, clap, clap…… “What a scene….what pride in being a Mets fan….what…..may…..never….happen…..

I understand that discussing trading Dickey is an option. As you and I think with our hearts, Sandy Alderson thinks with his head and is trying to obtain players who will help turn this team around but who would you get back in trade that would push the Mets to that level and is better than having R.A. Dickey on this team? It’s not like Dickey is looking for a big time deal either, a 3yr/$25-$27 mil deal would be more than suffice for him.  Instead of dealing away a guy like Dickey the Mets need more players like Dickey.

Here is a player who in 2010 played with a plantar fasciitis injury and took pain killer injections on his day to pitch. Last season he played with a torn stomach muscle that he waited until the season was over to get surgery on.  You can’t put a price tag on a will like that.

The Mets love to monitor social media and I’m sure they were all over Twitter and Facebook last night so that means they saw the reaction of the fan base to the announcement of Dickey winning the Cy Young. The Mets brass was in attendance for the last game of the 2011 season at Citi Field when Mets fans skipped school and work and any other responsibilities they had in life to come see a second division team close out another lack luster season that featured the now annual second half collapse only because R.A. Dickey was pitching for his 20th win. Those new to the organization BS (Before Shea) were stunned by the support and the atmosphere Mets fan displayed that day. If the organization wants to keep that fan feeling and want to give as David Howard calls them “the dormant Mets fan” a reason to buy a ticket to a game at Citi Field, they will extend Dickey’s deal and reap the benefits.  Unless Alderson can get back Mike Trout the best move is to not move R.A. Dickey.  

 

 

 

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Devastation

How much ranting and raving can I do? I left a good amount of anger on Twitter last night as the NY Mets added another chapter in this embarrassing season.

When asked if his team has quit, Terry Collins refused to let his inner thoughts public. After a pause, he told Kevin Burkhardt to go ask the players that question. Of course that statement alone says that Collins believes there are some on the team that have thrown in the towel. He even mentioned something about conduct in the dugout and then held up Juan Pierre as the guy who should be the Mets players role model as a guy “who plays the game the right way”.

The 2012 NY Mets do not play the game the right way, they are not a motivated bunch who maybe in their hearts want to win but their actions on the field say they don’t  or maybe a better way of saying it is, they can’t. You could be the biggest rah-rah, run through a brick wall player but if you lack major league talent all the hustle and heart doesn’t mean a damn thing and this Mets team suffers from a serious deficiency in talent.

I don’t know how Terry Collins and this coaching staff escape this disaster without termination or re-assignment.  I’m starting to think my prediction of Collins getting re-assigned to a job in the front office in the minor league or scouting department will come to fruition.  Collins has tried to protect his players and in my opinion to a fault, where I start to question his credibility. I’m a Terry Collins fan and I feel any organization that has him in their baseball ops is a plus but he just could not get this team to play motivated or fundamental baseball. It’s a shame but there really is no way to justify brining Collins and this staff back in 2013.

Same for David Wright, it’s time for the Mets and Wright to go their separate ways. It’s not Wright’s fault he has gone above and beyond what any player in the history of the Mets has done for this organization. He is a gentleman and a fine baseball player but the best thing for him career wise and the Mets organizational wise is to move on. Sure the fangirls will weep and the lunatic fringe will go ape shit stupid but it makes baseball and business sense to trade Wright and allow him to pursue that World Series ring he craves. It won’t happen here in NY. I would have no problem with Wright getting dealt to our arch rivals Braves or Phillies but would rather see him go to either the Dodgers, Angels or Blue Jays because this organization is so devoid of immediate talent that you have to have to throw emotion out the window and make the best deal possible with the highest percentage of return. Sandy Alderson and his front office have a huge job in front of them this winter to not just make the 2013 Mets competitive but he has to fortify the upper levels of the minor league system so injuries or ineffective play is not a death knell as it was this season.

In a perfect world the Wilpon’s would sell the team and live happily ever after in a beach cabana at Del Boca Vista Phase II but the sad part of their reign as owners, they  have made myself and the majority of Mets fans root for them to fail financially.  As much as I detest their stewardship of the team I love, I hate that they put me in a position where I want them to go broke to force a sale of the team.  Since Nelson Doubleday was bought out of his share of the club, the Wilpon/Sterling Equities leadership has been an unmitigated disaster. If the Mets were a publicly held company, the shareholders would have run Fred, Jeff and Saul out of town on a rail. Bottom line, if Fred Wilpon really loves the Mets, he’d sell them to an ownership group that has the capital and vision to make the Mets the first class organization this fan base deserves.

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Mets Fans Shouldn’t Boo Chipper Jones, They Should Boo The Skill Sets Instead

Chipper Jones makes his last appearance as a major league baseball player in NYC this weekend. The Mets, like other teams around the league, will honor Jones as he sails off into retirement. Most of you will boo and kill the organization for honoring a player who was a thorn in the Mets side for the last 19 years. Your anger towards Jones is ill advised, your anger should be towards the Skill Sets for not heading the lesson that Jones was teaching the Mets whenever they were the Braves opponent, that lesson was “you need me to be a Met”.

Think about it, Jones owned the Mets, not just with his lifetime .314/.410/.553 splits against them or the 49 home runs he hit against them either, what Jones tried to show the Mets was, you need to act and think like a winner as to become one. When Jones would come to NY he played the stage better than any Tony award winning actor. We chanted “LAAAAAARRRRRYYYYYY, LAAAAAAARRRRRYYYYYYY” and he ate it up. He loved the fact that Mets fans had a passion, fire, and desire that matched his. For a guy born in the South, he had a New York mentality and I think a want to play here as well.

Why didn’t the Mets ever make a strong move on Jones when he was a free agent?  You would have thought an owner whose team was owned by a superstar player who had that balls to the wall, win at all cost mentality,  would say “hell if I can’t beat him then I want to join him”.

As much as Jones loved the Braves, Atlanta and playing in the South, I have to think is the Mets made an offer above and beyond like they did to land Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran, Jones would have had a difficult time turning them down. We know his love for the city and Shea Stadium was so strong he named one of his sons Shea.   Back in 2000, Jones signed a 6 yr/$90mil deal with Atlanta but when that deal was up, he re-signed for 3yrs at $40 mil, this was in the days of the Mets swimming in Madoff bucks so the thought that Freddy Skill Sets couldn’t have raised the stakes for Jones is ridiculous. I don’t remember if there was talk of the Mets making a pitch for Jones back in 2000 or even in 2006, I doubt there was but in hind sight there should have been. It could be that the Skill Sets felt that going after Jones and even signing Jones would have led to fans revolting that a despised opponent would join their beloved Mets.  Well, I guess we see what happens when you give in to the lunatic fringe of your fan base.

This is why, as much as I loathe the Highlanders and old Boss George, he knew players like Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden and David Cone were the kind of players he needed to win championships. You think he cared that they were former Mets? Hell, he signed Wade Boggs to play 3rd base who played for a team and organization he hated with a passion.

Think about Chipper as a Met. Imagine him with a kid like Jordany Vladespin ? Remember he called out Jason Heywood who came up as one of the hottest prospects in baseball for not playing due to fatigue. Jones went right at Heywood and made the Braves right fielder grow up fast.  I can’t say the Mets would have won a World Series championship with Jones on the team but I could guarantee he would have had no problem stepping up and holding his teammates accountable for their play.  I’m also sure he would have gone down as one of the greatest Mets players of all time.

So when Chipper Jones comes up to bat for the first time on Friday night, what Mets fans should do is turn towards the owner’s box at Citi Field and give the Skill Sets a rousing standing boo not just for never pursuing Jones when he was a free agent but for not having the smarts to understand the lesson Chipper was teaching.

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David Wright Wants Answers About Mets Direction

 

Man, this seems like a hundred years ago……………

David Wright is not only the leader of the 25 man Mets roster; he is also the leader of the Mets fan base. In a story in today’s NY Post, Wright essentially told the Skill Sets “get your shit together before I decide to book”

Wright is not concerned about the monetary aspect of a new contract, and why should he? Wright on the open market is a minimum 5 yr/$110 mil baseball player and there would be teams lining up for his services like the Orioles, Dodgers or even (GULP!) the Phillies.  

Wright still has that quote from Freddy Skill Sets New Yorker piece burned in his brain about being a “good player not a superstar”  and Wright as always, took the high road and did a good job of defusing what could have been a real shit storm for the Mets. But that’s the way Wright goes about his business. But make no mistake that quote hurt Wright a lot as it should. Here is a guy who goes to every charity function the team has requested for him to attended, then plays with a broken bone in his back, is the first guy to show up at St. Lonesome every February and the last to leave and then has to answer question upon question after every one of the Mets 162 games only to have the owner say “eh, he’s a good kid” Disgraceful.

Now for the Freddy Skill Sets the rooster has come home to roost. Wright knows you need him much more than he needs you so it will come down showing Wright what we Mets fans have been asking for the last few seasons, what’s your game plan Freddy?

The Skill Sets hate to show their hand and with Freddy yelling out the other day at Citi Field “Ask Sandy” when quires about which way the wind was blowing organizationally, he is already passing the buck (no pun intended) to Alderson who will have to show Wright what the plan is to get the Mets back into contention and how long before the plan pays off.

Wright is just like me and you he wants to know where are the Mets headed and is it worth the time and effort to see it through.

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THE HURT LOCKER-ROOM

You think Jack LaLane ever pulled or strained an oblique muscle? Helllllllllllllllll No!  

 

As much as we would like to have someone’s head on a platter when it comes to the rash of muscle injuries that have plagued the Mets, it seems the real culprit here is the culture of the weight room and maybe the laziness of the players for not doing their due diligence when it comes to stretching and preparing to play baseball.

The Mets strength and conditioning coach is Brad Andress. Andress has an impressive resume where he began his career with the Tigers from 1990 to 1999, he then moved on to the Colorado Rockies for nine seasons. Andress also was a member of the 1982 Penn State football team that won the National Championship in 1982. Andress joined the Mets last season. It would be a bit extreme to blame him solely for the epidemic of oblique muscle pulls and strains that have hit the Mets as this is not just a Mets problem but it seems to be a baseball problem .

I don’t think there is anyone of my generation who didn’t hear all through high school that weight lifting was bad for you as a baseball player. It was drummed into us that weight lifting would make you stiff and inflexible and hamper your ability to swing a bat properly.  As years have gone on we have seen baseball players not only embrace the weight room but adding supplements as well to bulk them up to the point they looked more liked contestants in a body building competition than ballplayers.

With the ban on PED’s and the now in place blood testing for HGH, maybe it’s time to go back in time and shut down the weight rooms or at least monitor the work the players do with weight training and go back to focusing on flexibility and working more of a callisthenic exercise routine?

Something has to change with the way baseball players are training because whatever they’re doing now is not working.

David Wright is headed to NYC for and ultra sound test and a cortisone shot. Tim Byrdak will join him to have his knee checked out which must be in bad shape if he’s being sent to NYC to have it examined. This is why the Mets are thisclose to singing CJ Nitkowski to a minor league deal as the other two lefties that had a shot at pitching out of the Mets bullpen Robert Carson and Danny Herrera have been hobbled by injury as well.

Capt. Kirk has had a set back as well from, (what else?)  a strained oblique muscle. With Scott Hairston out with (what else?) the same injury but more severe and Jason Bay lost in the batter’s box, there could not be worse time for Nieuwenhuis to go down with injury.

Lucas Duda and Danny Herrera seem to be ready to get back in action as both boarded the bus for Lakeland and today’s game against the Tigers so that’s a bit of good news. But Reese Havens is still out with back troubles, I’m very close to leaping off the Reese Havens bandwagon.

If anyone cares here’s my Final Four picks:

Baylor

Florida

Ohio St

Kansas

Florida over Baylor

Ohio State over Kansas

Florida over Ohio St

 

 

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THE KID IS GONE

Just got the news that Gary Carter has passed away. Carter wasn’t just a great baseball player, from reading the posts by his daughter Kimmie, you can tell he was a great father and man.

So, so sad to hear this news, R.I.P. Kid

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WITH THE NY METS IT’S TEAM FIRST

 

 

I would think by now every player on the Mets has gotten the message, you can be replaced, to that I say, it’s about time.

I know there is a segment of the fan base who get their balls in a uproar when they hear of their favorite player mentioned in trade rumors and we can see by the group whose pissed off that Jose Reyes is now a former Met,  who will miss Reyes by the way not for his baseball prowess but because they love his dreads or he helps them sell t-shirts and don’t have the capacity to look at it as solely the baseball move that it was. It’s the same way some have reacted to the scuttlebutt that Ike Davis and Jon Niese have been dangled as trade bait. I know it’s been awhile since the Mets have had a true general manager running their team but I’ll let you kids in on a secret this is how you run a baseball team.

Now before you call me an asshole (if you haven’t already) let me make it clear that I am not advocating that Ike and Niese be dealt but as a Mets fan you should be encouraged that Sandy Alderson is doing his job in trying to build this wreck of a franchise into a contending team for the long haul.

I get it that the Mets fan base is quite diverse but you can’t keep sucking year after year and keep players just because they were drafted by the organization or have nice dimples you need players who can actually step up and win some baseball games. Give me a flat ass, pimple face baseball player who can get on base, knock in runs or pitch seven innings a start any day of the week.

It’s quite obvious that Alderson feels there is not one player on his current roster he cannot live without and as a fan of the TEAM that should make you happy. When Alderson was first introduced as Mets GM he was asked about relationships with players, he let it known from the jump that he’s not here to be their friend but he would do whatever he could to help them if they needed his assistance.

I’m sure Alderson thinks David Wright is as fine a young man as he’s met in baseball but that won’t stop him for dealing him away for a front line pitching prospect or a top flight center fielder.  It’s not personal its business.

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SAY-HEY, HAPPY BRITHDAY WILLIE MAYS!

Happy 80th Brithday to the greatest baseball player of all time

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BLOOMBERG SPORTS FRONT OFFICE 2011 IS A MUST FOR FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER AND FAN ALIKE

This past Saturday I spent the afternoon at Bloomberg Headquarters watching a demonstration of the Bloomberg Sports launch of Front Office 2011. There are two forms of Front Office, one for the fan/fantasy player and the Pro application that is becoming a staple in MLB front offices for its “leave no pitch or hit behind” usage of the application. Before we look at the Pro version of Front Office, let’s look what this application has for the fantasy baseball owner’.

The Draft Kit

With the Draft Kit gives you the ability to draft the strongest possible fantasy team by using what Bloomberg Sports calls its “B-Rank” which is a statistical secret sauce that ranks players based on the scoring system used by your league. You set up your draft list by best players available, by position or by more intense, players you should be targeting and the one’s you need to pass by.

There is also a Fantasy Factor section that list pros and cons of all players to help to make the right choice for your team. Target Round gives you Bloomberg’s take on what round players in your draft should go. This again is based on your leagues scoring system.  

What Front Office does as well is, it integrates your fantasy league (Yahoo, MLB, ESPN, CBS etc.) into the application.

So now your draft is over and you look over the team you’ve assembled and you’re not happy, you shorted yourself on pitching or a day after the draft you read the middle infielder you draft has a torn ACL and is gone for the season, what do you do, besides bang your head against the wall? You go to Front Office Free Agent finder and you look for the middle infielders  still out there who can give you some power numbers you need or if stolen bases are used as a scoring category, you can find that as a specific stat as well. You can also find that diamond in the rough you’ve read about and no one in your league pounced on yet.

Front Office also has a Lineup Manager to help with suggestions on who to start and who needs to grab some pine. Whether it’s a starting pitcher on his off day or the outfielder that is slumping, Lineup Manager gives the statistical information you need to make the lineup switch to up your league point total. You can also match your lineup with your opponents and Front Office will compare the two as your league can be synched into Front Office.

Front Office 2011 goes on sale in a week for $19.95 for the season. Besides all the stats and graphs you get baseball news on your favorite team and players on your fantasy team as well. It’s your one stop for all you baseball news and needs.

As impressive as the Fantasy version of Front Office 2011 is, the Pro version was close to jaw dropping. One of the informative and entertaining portions of the presentation was when former Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson, now a consultant of Bloomberg Sports as well as his own 3Psports pitching site, gave a mesmerizing demonstration on the use of the pitch f/x of the Pro Front Office. One of the pitchers that Peterson used was John Axford who Peterson mentored as pitching coach of the Milwaukee Brewers last season.

After bringing up Axford’s pitch f/x numbers on the screen, Peterson then clicked on from the drop to show the type of pitches that Axford threw during the season, the location of the pitches, what pitches were balls, strikes taken and swinging. If that wasn’t enough info for you, you can click on the pitches and you get game video of the pitcher/hitter confrontation. Peterson also pointed out to us how he used the data and video from Front Office to fix a defect in Axford’s delivery. From watching his delivery, Peterson had Axford move slightly to the right of the pitching rubber as he saw his arm angle was not where it should be when his front foot lands. By going over this video with Axford he saw the problem, made the adjustment and was successful in getting Axford to be a very effective closer.  

As If that wasn’t enough to impress you there was a “but wait there’s more” moment when the demonstration turned to having the Front Office App on an iPad.

All game information can be downloaded into this program 20 minutes after the last out of a game.  So say the Mets have just finished a game at Citi Field and are enroute to St. Louis to face the Cardinals the next day. By the time the players have given post game comments, get showered and dressed and board the bus for LaGuardia, the next days starting pitcher can load his iPad with video of the Cardinals game that night and get a detailed statistical analysis of his history versus Cardinal hitters complete with video of the at bats. The same holds for the hitters. They can get analysis right at their fingertips as to how they hit the next days starting pitchers or how he got them out.

If you are a fantasy baseball player or even if you’re just an ordinary everyday baseball fan, this application is well worth the $19.95 investment. Take a brown bag lunch to work for a couple three days to defray the cost if you have to.

By the way, Sandy Alderson should be proud, the Mets bloggers were in full force at this event as I was honored to share a table with Kerel Cooper of On The Black (Kerel has video of Peterson’s presentation) Mike Silva of NY Baseball Digest, Jon Levin of Subway Squawkers, Mark Healy of Gotham Baseball. I also got to chat with Ted Berg and James Kannengieser of Amazin’ Avenue who heard my distinct Brooklynese over the speakers when I had the floor to ask Rick Peterson a question, and at the break located me  and said “I heard that voice and I knew who it was”  it was a fun and informative day at Bloomberg Sports.

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Tickets

The Mets are looking great this year and The Eddie Kranepool Society keeps you up to date on the good bad and the ugly. If you are looking for Mets Tickets, you must visit Coast To Coast Tickets for all your ticket needs. CTC carries MLB Tickets as well as some of the best priced Concert Tickets on the web and don't forget they also carry Yankees Tickets.

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