The Spring of The Mets Fans Discontent

This has got to be the most ho-hum spring training I’ve experienced as a Mets fan in a long long time.  I guess with the exception of Matt Harvey and to an extent Collin Cowgill have made me sit up and take notice. It seems as if jobs are being given to players not on merit but because they are best of a mediocre at best lot. In fact let’s look at who’s who on this team that should head North in 9 days:

Ike Davis-Will this be the Summer of Ike? Is this THE breakout season we’ve been waiting for from the talented first baseman? Can he give us that 30 HR 100 RBI season we’ve dreamed of? I sure hope so.

Daniel Murphy-hard not to root for Murph. He gives you an honest effort every time out and while he’s not a home run hitter his 40 doubles is a-ok. Since Murph is not a home run hitter he needs to get on base more so his walk total needs to improve. Love to see him get that OBA back up to the .360 or better. Since he turns 28 (and on the DL) on opening day this is the season Murphy needs to make his mark to stay a Met .

Ruben Tejada-This may be one of those “it’s not you it’s me” situations when it comes to Tejada as he doesn’t stoke my excitement when I watch him play. He can’t lead off since he doesn’t get on base enough and his defense is acceptable. I hope he gains a little toughness this season and learns the difference between being hurt and being injured. I can’t wait for the Gavin Cecchini Era.

David Wright-So the organization decided to name David Wright Captain. This is the equivalent of turning on a facet and seeing water come out. Wright has gone above and beyond for this organization from the first day he arrived in Flushing.  The one player on the roster that Mets have no worries that he will produce.

Justin Turner-Like Billy Martin was Casey Stengel’s boy, Turner is Terry Collins boy

Jordany Vladespin-I never thought there was a question about JV1 making the big league team. Now that he has a lock on a roster spot he needs to grow up this year. If you’re going to be a pain in the ass you better be a productive pain in the ass. I think Valdespin will finally realize he needs to man up and will have a solid season as an outfielder/infield fill in.

Brian Bixler-I think he makes the team because of Murphy hitting the DL to start the season. He could make a case to say if he can be a productive right handed bat off the bench

Omar Quintanilia-solid infielder also makes it North  to back up Tejada.

Lucas Duda-Please, please, please let this offensive surge that Duda has had of late carry over into the season. I don’t think it’s an over statement when I say a breakout season at the plate from Duda is the difference from another play out the string season  and being the most interesting Mets season in five years.

Colin Cowgill-Cowgill has done what guys like Cowgill need to do, impress the brass with solid hitting fielding and balls to the wall hustle. He’s not only done that but it looks like he’s won the right handed hitting spot of the center field job (JV1 or MDD the left handed hitting spot) and looks like he will be a Citi Field fav.

Matt Den Dekker/Mike Baxter-Already a first class defender, question is will his bat be potent enough to keep him in the line up? Kirk Nieuwenhuis injury open the door for MDD that and the dearth of outfield completion in this spring camp as well. Baxter has had a dreadful spring it will interest to see if he stays and MDD goes to LV which is a distinct possibility since MDD has options and Baxter doesn’t.

John Buck-number one catcher for now as Buck holds the spot for Travis d’Arnaud. Buck seems to have meshed well with the pitching staff this spring and he does hit home runs and is an obvious upgrade over the woeful backstops of last year.  Once d’Arnaud  comes up to the team he and Buck will form a catching tandem that will be one of the Mets strengths after years of being a major liability.

Anthony Recker-I’ve got nothing

 

Jon Niese-Congratualtion on the opening day start. As good as Niese is this will probably be the first and last OD start of his Mets career.  That’s not a knock on Niese it just shows that the Mets will have 3 top flight pitchers leading them to years to come with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. Niese gets the nod as Johan Santana will start the season on the DL and I’ve already placed Santana in my mind as a former Met.

Matt Harvey-Harvey’ starts will be must see events. Looks like the total package a physical specimen and tough as nails mentality. Could there be a wine vineyard in his future?

Dillon Gee-good solid 3-4 starter who looks to be recovered for blood clot in his arm he suffered from last year. Gee if 100% should give the Mets hopefully he stays sound, them 190+ innings pitched

Jeremy Hefner-good guy to root for as he’s one of these bang around the bushes type that realizes how lucky he is to make a big league start.  Just needs to be serviceable to be an asset.

Shaun Marcum-what can we expect from Marcum? He’s got a sore shoulder which he claims is not a big deal, nothing a little cortisone can’t cure.  Let’s hope the Mets get 2011 Shaun Marcum and not 2012’s version.

Bobby Parnell-Meet the new closer. With Frank Francisco on the DL Parnell gets another shot of closing out games for the Mets. I hope he succeeds and I hope he has found that sumthin’ sumthin” that all successful closers have.

Brandon Lyon-solid pick up for the Mets as Lyon has closed and should be perfect set-up man for Parnell.  No secret the bullpen was the major reason for the awful season the Mets had last year. Last year’s pen was right at the bottom of every stat there was for pitching and who knows, if they were a middle of the road pen maybe Mets fans wouldn’t have the miserable attitude they have towards this team.

Scott Atchinson-As Collin Cowgill will be the position player fan favorite, Atchinson could be the pitching fan favorite. When was the last time the Mets fan embraced a reliever? Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell???? If Atchinson can duplicate his 80 % stranded base runner rate this season, this team could have a better result than we all expect.

Josh Edgin-needs to get batters to chase that slider out of the strike zone and get that LOB% to at least 75% to become more than a LOOGY

Robert Carson/Pedro Feliciano –one of them is making this team as Terry Collins has stated he will go with two lefties in the pen. Feliciano hasn’t pitched in year and Mets have to make decision to either keep him or pay him $100K to take a trip to Vegas, which could be the move allowing Carson to make it North as the LOOGY.

LaTroy Hawkins-here for veteran leadership and direction to his pen mates

Greg Burke-got to love a guy who pitches from the land down under.

There is more pessimism with this Mets team for the coming season than I’ve seen in a long time. The 2013 Mets are far, far from being one of the worst I’ve ever seen; the Joe Torre years of the late 70’s still give me night sweats.  Those teams were not just a disaster but the whole organization was in a downward spiral. Sure The Skill Sets money woes are still prevalent but at least there is some serious talent on the horizon.

Two things will make this season better than you and I think it will be. The bullpen has to become a strength and the corners have to produce some power. If that happens this summer will be much better that we all think it’ll be. YA GOTTA BELIEVE! I guess.

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A Must Listen For Mets Fans, The Kult of Mets Personalities Podcast with Special Guest Eddie Kranepool

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Listen to internet radio with Ivie League Prod on Blog Talk Radio

 

Stop whatever it is you’re doing and tune in to our Kult of Mets Personalities Podcast from last night. Our special guest was Mets great and my all time favorite player Ed Kranepool. Eddie did not hold back on his opinions and told some great stories of his days under Casey Stengel and of course Gil Hodges. Krane also talked about why he felt the Mets never were able to sustain their winning ways after winning in 1969

The best story of the podcast though is Kranepool telling us how he was thisclose to being a big part of a new ownership group who was ready to buy the club from Lorinda de Roulet and who his bombshell choice would have been to manage the Mets.

If you want to hear a no bullshit podcast from passionate Mets fans whose only agenda is rooting for the orange and blue, then Kult of Mets Personalities is the podcast for you

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Here Is Your Chance to Win A NY Mets 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition DVD Set

 

How would you like to win a New York Mets 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition DVD Set form A & E Networks Home Entertainment/MLB Productions? Well if you are the first person to correctly answer the following question; this beautiful DVD collection will be all yours compliments of our friends at A & E Networks Home Entertainment/MLB Productions:

In 1965 NY Mets manager Casey Stengel stepped down as manager of the team due to suffering a broken hip, who replaced Stengel as Mets manager?

The first person to Tweet me the correct answer at @kranepool will win this exquisite DVD collection compliments of A & E Networks Home Entertainment/MLB Productions

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Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times: 50 Years From The Mets Junk Draw

Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times, has put together a 50 Years From The Mets Junk Draw column that looks at 50 of the best and most interesting moments in Mets history that are not the obvious choices, such as:

 May 2, 1963: Skipper Casey Stengel decides to do something different. He inserts catcher Choo Choo Coleman in the batting order’s leadoff slot. To this day, it’s still the only time any catcher has led off for the Mets. New York wins, 10-3

 WOW  who’da thunk that?  I would have bet either John Stearns or Mackey Sasser would have hit at the top of the order during their Mets career.   I bet Josh Thole hits in the leadoff spot at least once as a Met

Aug. 9, 1963: Jim Hickman hits a walk-off grand slam for the Mets, an achievement that’s extra special because it ends the 18-game losing streak of Roger Craig, the team’s best pitcher in their early horrible years.

Jim Hickman had terrific power and hit some home runs as a Met but the lure of obtaining Brooklyn born and bred (and Boys High baseball and basketball standout) Tommy Davis from the Dodgers was too strong so Hickman was shipped to LA for Davis. Davis by the way played one season for the Mets in 1967 and was dealt in the off season to the White Sox for Tommie Agee and Al Weiss.

Sept. 16, 1975: Since 1950, quite a few baseball games have ended on a walk-off walk, but none have happened as late as this one. The Mets top the Expos 4-3 when Montreal’s Don DeMola walks Del Unser with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 18th inning.

 

It has always seemed to me that the Mets have played more long extra innings games than any other team in baseball history

 

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CRICKETS, CRICKETS, CRICKETS………………….

Remember this? Mex’s power nap!

I don’t know if it’s the calm before the storm or a sign that the Mets will remain dormant in winter time news but there is absolutely  nothing baseball wise coming out a of Flushing. I can get pushing the new uni and all the pomp and circumstance for this season 50th Anniversary but for the love of Casey Stengel is there any baseball news of substance coming from the front office?

Here’s what we’re stuck with today as “Mets news”

Lenny Dykstra fucked up his life and now is in rehab and when he gets out he will be a new man and yada yada yada. You know what, Frank Cashen should be given more credit than he ever has for when you look back at the Mets of the 80’s for all their on field success there were a lot of them who couldn’t handle the fame, fortune and everything that goes with it (I thank you all-Freddie Mercury) . With all the celebrations of the ’86 Mets maybe we should reflect more on this bunch as failures, who if they had any kind of self-control would have won multiple championships.

Adam Rubin writes about the Skill Sets asking for a non-jury trial when their case against the Madoff trustees goes to trial next March.  The judge in the case however ruled in favor of Piccard so the case will be heard by a jury. I agree with Michael Kline who feels the Skill Sets will be hurt by a jury trial as this case is complex and a jury of 12 laypeople may not get the whole understanding of the facts to make a fair judgment.  A jury trial will hurt the Skill Sets for sure.

Please Sandy gives us something to chew on, a bone, anything………………………..

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DELIVER US FROM EVIL, FRED WILPON!

11 days until pitchers and catchers

Yesterday I hopped over to Mid-Town Manhattan (where miraculously  there was no snow on the ground when I left about four inches of the white stuff on my walkway in Staten Island) to attend a meeting of the Casey Stengel Chapter of the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR). It was there that I met up with Dana Brand who was one of the guest speakers at the event.

As I greeted Dana I asked him “So are you ready for pitchers and catchers” ? He gave me that look you give the dentist when he says “would you like Novocain or gas”?  Dana was not the only Mets fan in attendance that had that same queasy feeling bout the 2010 Mets season.

I never thought it could happen but the Wilpon’s have now displaced the Dolan’s of MSG as the worst owners of a NYC franchise.  I thought I despised Jeffey Skill Sets more than most but after talking to the Mets fans yesterday, I see I have competition.

By this time in the winter, as a baseball fan ,Super Bowl Sunday signals the home stretch of winter and knowing that spring training is around the corner. Usually for Mets fans we start to think of April and opening day, and opening day is usually cold. But we never cared about the cold. We wore Mets sweatshirts under our Mets jackets and figured our Mets gloves and the knit Mets hat we got last season on Fan Apprecitaion Day would shied us from the elements. We were just happy to have a ticket and a seat to root for our favorite baseball team. But from what I’ve read and heard from Mets fans this winter,  I have a feeling opening day at $iti Field will not be a hot ticket, in fact I figure the longer you hold out the better your chance to get a prime seat for below cost.

Where and when did this all go wrong? I’m starting to think the demolition of Shea Stadium will become our Curse of the Bambino, or Billy Goat.

When a team opens a new ballpark, the fan base is usually fired up about the new home and the great amenities so you’d think as Mets fans we’d be happy about all there is at $iti Field. But the more I talk to Mets fans and the more I think about it, maybe we should have stayed at Shea. Shea was a pitchers park and no one screamed to pull in it’s fences. But after one season at $tit, the cry is, “the outfield fence is too high” “the ball doesn’t carry” “the fences need to come in” what we’re really saying is “this place sucks, we want our Shea Stadium back”. Face it Mets fans we hate change and we hate $iti Field.

Now I ‘d say it’s mostly us old timey Mets fans that hate change and I know I’m of that crowd, it surprises me that I’m like that with the Mets as I embrace progress with everything else in my world. I guess I need one small part of the old world to stay with me. I still want pinstripe unis with no name on the back and blue caps with and orange NY. I want organ music instead of ear splitting pop shit, and this from a guy who still listens to Black Sabbath albums with the volume on 10 but at a baseball game I want to here the Mexican Hat dance played on a Thomas organ. I don’t want to be told to “Clap my hands” I’m not a idiot I know when to clap and when to cheer and when to say “AH SHIT!!”. I want my teams National League heritage to be displayed and educate fans of where we came from how our lineage evolved from the days of John McGraw and Mel Ott and Carl Hubble to Bobby Thomson and Willie Mays along with Zack Wheat and Joe Medwick and Dolph Camli and Jackie Ribinson and Duke Synder. NYC was always an NL town until now that the Wilpon’s let that distinction slip away and for that they should be ashamed of themselves.

Jeff Wilpon has not only surpassed Jim Dolan as the most spoil son of a rich man in NY sports but he is close to reaching M. Donald Grant status as a franchise killer. But we shouldn’t put the blame all on young Jeffey, I put  90% of the fiasco that is now the NY Mets on Fred Wilpon. Freddy has the power to tell sonny boy, “I’m sorry but you are in way over your head here my boy, it’s time for me to find a real baseball man to run this franchise and bring it back to respectability and to being a championship baseball team”. If Fred Wilpon does not step up and do what is right for the NY Mets franchise, he will become as hated here as much as Walter O’Malley. The only difference is Mets fans might be wishing he move himself and team someplace else.

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BETTER LATE THAN NEVER, I GUESS

Sorry for the lateness of this post but I’m still trying to get over the shock of last nights Pro Baseball Central and Joe McDonald making his case for the Mets to win at least 90 games next year and at the least make the post season the NL Wild Card team. Yes I think we will start having a Breathalyzer on hand for the next show. Check out the podcast as it was quite entertaining if I say so myself.

John Sickles has published his top 20 Mets prospect list and his #1 is Jennry Mejia. No matter what stories you read about Mejia, they all confirm that Mejia could be a special pitcher and they all worry about the Mets rushing him. Hopefully the new brain trust in the organization can stop the practice of rush prospects through the system and just allow them to work their way up the organizational ladder.

So D-Wright will sit down with the Radio Bloviator next Wednesday. Instead of the Mets holding a Fan Fest so Mets fans can mingle with there team, we get a ride in the WFAN  Hot Air Balloon.    

On February 6th, the NYC Chapter (known as the Casey Stengel Chapter) of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) will hold their annual meeting at the New York Public Library at 455 5 AVE at W 40 St 6th floor. The event starts at 10AM and goes to 4PM all for a registration fee of $15. Check out the NYC SABR site and download the press release for more details and for a list of featured speakers and presenters.

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BOOK REVIEW: EVALUATING BASEBALL’S MANAGERS-CHRIS JAFFE

 

In most sports, the person in charge of the team is called Coach. Coaches are a combination of motivator, evaluator and tactician. Football coaches run “Programs”, Basketball and Hockey coaches have “Systems” but what do Baseball Managers have? Well, they “manage”.

 

Baseball managers do more managing of personalities and keeping players happy than doing much tactical maneuvers. Sure they have to know when to go to the bullpen and when to go to the bench but it’s not like they are re-inventing the game or spending nights pouring over film to get an edge on their opponent. In baseball, your edge is your next days starting pitcher.

 

In his book “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers” (MacFarland) Chris Jaffe writes the ultimate book on the effect of baseball managers on their team’s success and failure. Jaffe uses a combination of statistics and in depth analysis to examine the role of mangers through out the history of baseball.

 

Jaffe takes each team in MLB and focuses on the role of managers who have worked in full seasons for their team. Jaffe was kind enough to send me an excerpt of the Mets managers in the book.

 

Jaffe makes the case for Casey Stengel never having players of talent until he was hired by the Yankees. Before his success in the Bronx, Stengel struggled in the NL with Brooklyn and Boston, to the point where he went to the Pacific League to run the Oakland Oaks to redeem himself.  Gil Hodges falls in a similar category as Stengel where he didn’t have much talent with the Washington Senators but was perfect for an up and coming young Mets team. Davey Johnson is portrayed as an underrated skipper and Bobby Valentine being the most active manager as it pertains to in game moves and the use of his 25 man roster. Jaffe makes the case that Art Howe and the Mets were not and should not have been a match as Howe was more suited to running a club of younger players and also suffered the stigma of being portrayed as a puppet of Billy Beane as seen through the pages of Moneyball.

 

Jaffe has taken on a subject that has not been fully represented. This book will appeal to both the stat head and the fan of the written word.

 

After reading the excerpt on the Mets managers, I look forward to picking up a copy of Evaluating Baseball Mangers just for the sections on Joe McCarthy, Connie Mack and the immortal John McGraw.

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ON AUGUST 30TH 1964 THE METS PLAYED THE CUBS AT WRIGLEY FIELD JUST LIKE TODAY BUT WHICH METS LINEUP WAS BETTER ?

Here is the lineup Jerry Manuel wil send out against the Cubs today:

Pagan, cf
Castillo, 2b
Murphy, 1b
Francoeur, rf
Reed, lf
Tatis, 3b
Schneider, c
Hernandez, ss
Figueroa, rhp

Here is the lineup that Casey Stengel used on this date in 1964:

Bobby Klaus 3B

Ron Hunt 2B

Ed Kranepool 1B

George Altman LF

Joe Christopher RF

Chris Cannizaro C

Roy McMillian SS

Denis Ribant P

At 1B Murphy or Krane? I’m a big Murphy fan but really who where my alliances lies here,

2B-Ron Hunt was THE MAN back then. The first Mets All Star when All Star meant something his numbers in ’64 .303/.357/.406  and was as tough as they come

3B- Tatis big over Klauss

SS-Roy McMillan couldn’t hit but had a great glove. AHern can’t hit and used to have a great glove. Roy Mac for me.

LF Jeremy Reed get a rare start from Manuel why this guy got burried with all the injuries is a story that should be told. I know the guy is no ball of fire but who  did he piss off to get burried as he has on this team. George Altman spent one year with the Mets. He was traded to the Mets from the Cardinals for Roger (Hum Baby) Graig. I’ll take Reed as a pity pick

CF Jim Hickman had some very good season with the Cubs once he left the Mets. Angel Pagan seems to have gotten the message that he needs to play ball to the wall baseball everyday if he wants to stick around that’s a credit to Jerry Manuel . I’ll take Pagan as this is Jim Hickman 1964 not Hickman 1970

RF-Joe Christopher and Frenchy Francouer. Believe it or not Christopher hit .300/.360/.466 with 16 HR and 76 RBI for the Mets in ’64. This was tough but I’ll take Christopher

C-Not even close Chris Cannazaro BIG over Schneider

P-Nelly Figs has done well and Dennis Ribant was just a rookie with a 1-5 W/L and a 5.15 ERA Go with Figgy

So my score card reads 5-4 1964 Mets

what do you think?


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NEW BOOK: BOTTOM OF THE NINTH BY MICHAEL SHAPIRO

 

 

 

After Walter O’Malley got Horace Stoneham good and drunk and persuaded Stoneham to move the New York Giants along with his Dodgers to the Left Coast a movement went through baseball to start a third Major League to be called the Continental League. This league would help NYC replace the Dodgers and Giants and allow cities like Houston, Toronto, Denver and Minneapolis-St Paul to join and have big league baseball.  The league would be headed by Branch Rickey. The creation of this league put pressure on MLB to expand and from this league sprang the Houston Colt 45’s (now the Astros) The LA Angels, Washington Senators and our beloved NY Mets.

In the Bottom Of The Ninth, (published by Henry Holt and Co) Michael Shapiro lays out in detail the behind the scenes negotiations that led to the threat of a new league helping bring back National League baseball to NYC plus the drama between Bill Shea, Casey Stengel and the Mahatma himself.

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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.

Visit BangTheBook.Com for daily free MLB Mets Picks and gameday previews, also join the baseball handicapping discussion in the forum or track your plays in our sports monitor.