Just ‘Cause We’re Not Tweeting Doesn’t Mean We’re Not Watching

 

Last night while watching the Mets-Nationals game-yes I’m still watching the Mets – I opened up my Twitter app and saw one of the Mets beat writers asking why #MetsTwitter was so quiet? If you are not hip to #MetsTwitter, it’s a number of Mets fans who comment while games are in progress. The tweets are as entertaining and as witty as the repartee that goes on in the Mets TV and radio booth.  So why was the Mets chatter on Twitter so sparse?

You could say that the first day of school played a part as those of use with kids know that the first day means covering books, sharpening pencils and signing forms, lots of forms. Add in a Monday Night Football game of major interest to us Giants fans, with the Eagles-Redskins locking up and those of us who missed the season premiere of Boardwalk Empire and further episodes of Ray Donovan (I told my wife if we ever hit Powerball, I’m hiring a Ray Donovan type to handle all my problems, like someone parking in my driveway or noisy neighbors or anyone who writes a negative comment on this sight) and The Newsroom. Lots of stuff happening on the peripheral of Mets baseball but I still watched the game but really didn’t have the energy to make comments on Twitter.

Really at this point what is there to comment on? This team is playing without its best everyday player, its Ace starting pitcher and it’s finally very effective closer. First base has become a collection of mismatched socks. The young shortstop slacker who should be playing shortstop is getting a mega dose of tough love from the ex-Marine GM who has shown this season to be an intelligent soft spoken gentleman who makes moves without any emotional attachment to the players in his organization, a major plus in my book. We have a manager who is or isn’t coming back and pitching coach who shouldn’t come back (there and some fans who have this ridiculous notion that Dan Warthen is responsible for the success of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Bobby Parnell when the real credit for the young supple arms should go to Frank Viola, Glenn Abbott, Randy St. Claire and Jason Issringhausen, the Mets minor league pitching coaches who have gotten these and the other young arms in the org ready) That plus the unknown of whether the owners will spend money over the winter or not AS PROMISED!!!! has worn down this fan base considerably. Just because we’re not ranting on Twitter doesn’t mean we’re not watching, we’ve just run out of material that’s all.

You know the Mets are playing out the string when Gary Cohen and RonDarling spend an inning discussing the coaching career of Joe Pignatano. It’s too bad the Call the Booth segment wasn’t used last night as I could have chimed in with my own “Piggy” story.

My wife and I were on 18th Avenue in Brooklyn about 19 years ago. We had just moved to Staten Island but we still went shopping in Bensonhurst because that’s where the best Italian salumeria’s, pork stores and bakeries are, the three important staples of my existence. Anyway, we pass an Apple Bank on 67th street and I see a sign that was promoting an appearance by none of than “Former Dodger and NY Mets coach, Joe Pignatano”  shopping for provisions would have to wait , I want to say hi to Piggy. I remember most of the conversation, how he missed his buddy “Gilly” (Gil Hodges) how Tom Seaver was the greatest pitcher who ever lived and believe it or not the problem with kids not throwing enough to strengthen their arms, Piggy was as Old Testament baseball as anyone. At this point my wife had enough and left to finish shopping and I was about to leave as well until I asked the question that got the biggest rise of all from the old coach “So Joe, where on Staten Island do you live”

I had read that Pignatano and his wife had left Bay Ridge for Staten Island. At the time of our meeting we had just made the move from Brooklyn to Staten Island as well and were still in the culture shock of being transplant.  The answer to my question was not what I was expecting. “Oh hell, I don’t live there anymore, we moved back to Brooklyn”  WOW! When I asked how come? Pignatano answered with a question, “why are you here today”? I told him to do food shopping; he laughed and said “See? You can’t find this food on Staten Island and if you do they’re getting the stuff from Brooklyn”. He also ranted on how it was too quiet and no one is out during the day so there are no neighbors to talk to and any time he needed to go to the store he have to drive . After a year on the Island he convinced his wife to move back to Bay Ridge or back to “civilization” as Pignatnao said.  

We talked for so long that my wife finished shopping and stood outside the front of the bank. I shook hands with Pignatano and told him what a pleasure it was to meet him but I have to get back to Staten Island. “Better you than me” he said with a big laugh.

 

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THE DUDE LOOKS CONFIDENT

We’ve reached the point in the season where it’s not so much about the wins and losses, although a .500 finish would be psychologically  satisfying I guess, it’s more about what do we have here, what’s worth keeping and what has to be discarded, kind of like cleaning out your basement after taking on water (I must report, no Mets artifacts were adversely effected in my basement taking on some water, although an American Girl doll took a bit of a hit so I guess a trip to the 5th Avenue flagship store is in my immediate future) that’s why I don’t understand what is taking Terry Collins so long to place Lucas Duda in RF and let Nick Evans (Evans reminds of an old nag that runs at Aqueduct during the winter in calming races and never has anyone put in a claim and week after week keeps running over the inner dirt track in freezing weather just hoping to find a home in Kentucky to graze in the grass for the rest of his eternal life) and Whitestone Mikey platoon at first base.

It seems the biggest obstacle with Duda was his acceptance of being a big leaguer, gain the confidence to believe in himself, that he is a Major Leaguer.  As he has become an everyday player the past month or so, Duda has realized that he is of big league timber and that confidence is showing at the plate and in the field.  One of the reasons Collins wanted to leave Duda at 1st base where he is most comfortable and get his bat going. Well, the bat and the head are going very good, so now would seem to be a good time to take the next leap and insert Duda as the everyday RF’er.

Other positive Mets news from last night besides the end of the 5 game losing streak and Izzy getting his 300 save was the signing of some of the remaining picks from the June draft . The three picks who signed that stand out are of course Brandon Nimmo, signed over slot which is a reason to celebrate in itself, infielder Phil Evans and RHP out of Baylor, Logan Verrett as the Mets front office worked right up to the deadline to get these players signed.  Good job by Paul DePodesta and his staff in putting together what most folks proficient in evaluating amateur talent claim, a very good Mets draft.

So you thought the Mets forgot about their 50th Anniversary, HA! No way, in fact the word is out that next year’s home uni will have a 1962 flavor to it and the blue top with orange piping and numbers will be back next season on a limited basis and as a regular alternative uniform top in 2013. I hope next year they  go with no name on the back of the home uniform top and no number on the front along with having the players wear white sanitary socks and blue stir ups. Please don’t half way this, even the cap should be of the darker blue of the era, and WEAR THESE UNIFORMS FOR EVERY HOME GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Put the snow whites in moth balls until 2013 and place the black hats with the blue brims in a bonfire!

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IZZY OR BOYER? NICK EVANS? BACKUP CATCHER? WHAT’S YOUR FINAL ANSWER ?

 

Allright back to blogging after a weekend of freezing my ass off on a camping trip in Northern New Jersey.  I spent the weekend with my son and his Boy Scout Troop at Camp No-Be Bosco in NJ, if it wasn’t bad enough the woods were snow covered, the temps were in the mid-teens on Friday night and Saturday morning, but I have to admit this was what we call “fat-ass camping” we slept in cabins with propane heat but still, we did a 5 mile hike into the mountains which was nice until we discovered a couple of huge bear paw prints. That’s when my bowels started to churn a bit.

Anyway, here it is with opening day just five days away and it feels like football season more than baseball but never the less for us Mets fans Friday night at 7:05pm at “Your Name Here Stadium” in South Florida it will be the start of the Mets 2011 season but between now and Friday the decision makers of the Mets have some tough roster moves to make.

The starting eight look set now that Carlos Beltran is confident he will be good to go on opening day. Day two of the season he may not be and that looks to be how Beltran’s season will go. He is not an everyday player any longer. If he plays two or three games in a row we will surely need a day off to rest his hurting knees.  That would make Scott Hairston or Willie Harris, Beltran’ caddy. Hairston has some power but he hasn’t played much right field so this could be problem if Beltran’s knee woes become chronic.  Harris fits the bill defensively (as we Mets fans know too well) and he has that nice OBP that’s all the rage in Metsville. Depending on the pitcher the day Terry Collins will need an understudy will determine if Hairston (bats right) or Harris (bats left) gets the nod.

The four everyday infielders are set with Brad Emaus taking over second base on a futures bet by the Mets. Emaus didn’t light up spring training but with a big endorsement from J.P. Riccardi, Emaus gets to show his stuff on opening day and beyond, how far beyond will be up to Emaus. The infield bench consists of a no hit (Chin-lung Hu) no glove (Daniel Murphy) and a man of many gloves (Willie Harris who I bet will be the emergency third catcher) and some bat, what this does is it makes Nick Evans an ex-Met, which is kind of sad.

The catcher position is becoming a mess. Josh Thole is the starter but who will back him up? The Mets waited and waited for Rony Paulino knowing he came with some carryon baggage in an 8 game suspension for PED use. He then added another piece of luggage with his visa problems and now he’s added a steamer trunk with news that some blood work that was done on him looks problematic. Mike Nickeas is ok for a week but no way can the Mets go a full season with him as the backup catcher, so if Paulino has an illness the Mets may have to scramble for a backup catcher. Anyone have Bengi Molina’s phone number?

The starting pitching is set, as is 6/7ths of the bullpen, with the competition between Blaine Boyer and the surprising Jason Isringhausen comong down to a last minute decision.  Izzy has been a great story this spring and looked to be a lock to win a job until he heard a pop in his elbow and Boyer has been fabulous this spring. As much as the club wants to keep Izzy, the worry is he will breakdown in a month or two, and Boyer has an out in his contract and will scooped up by another team in a heartbeat. 

Sandy Alderson admitted during the bloggers conference call that the decision on who gets the last bullpen spot is a very tough call.  Izzy brings a battle tested pitcher to the pen and has shown he wants to pass on his knowledge to his mates.  It’s really really tough but since the medical staff says it was just some old scar tissue that’s popped and Izzy has returned to pitching and has still been effective, I’d take a shot at keeping him on the 25 man roster.

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“THUMP” THAT WAS THE OTHER SHOE DROPPING ON THE JOSE REYES SAGA

I’m sure you all heard by now that Jose Reyes will start the season on the DL and could be out till the middle of May. The thyroid condition that he claims the doctor told he didn’t have will have him sideline from any physical activity for awhile as doctors check his thyroid gland and blood for the next few weeks.

This not a woe- is- us post or a bash Omar and management post as we will have all summer for those, no this one is let’s get on the phone and find a shortstop post because even when (if ?) Reyes comes back, the days of him playing 150+games look to be over.

So who is out there for the Mets ? First off, forget about getting a replacement for Reyes, the Mets are going out and getting anyone close to what Reyes brings to the table, so the player you need to go after has to be a defense first shortstop and the first name that pops into my head is Paul Janish of the Reds. Janish is a terrific defender and makes just $435K which fits into the Skill Sets budget. Jed Lowrie of the Red Sox could be had for a song (and maybe a dance) too bad Wilson Valdez has let go to Cleveland as he had a slick glove as well.

Who I don’t want to see is Alex Cora or Anderson Hernandez. No knock on Cora, once or twice a week is ok for him to play but he is no longer an everyday player and Hernandez shouldn’t even be in camp as he’s as done as a Christmas ham.

It looks though as if the Mets will go with Ruben Tejada and I guess Cora twice a week. But I would still try to find a guy like Janish or Lowrie to spell Reyes this year once a week at least. It’s not like I’m nailing Cora to the bench, he can play some second base when the Tree Stump needs a day off.

25 days until opening day YIPPEE-EYE-O-KI-A  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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“WE’RE FOLLOWING THE LEADER, THE LEADER, THE LEADER WE’RE FOLLIWING THE LEADER WHEREVER HE SHOULD GO”

I like the fact that David Wright is stepping up his leadership role with the Mets. In fact one of the best addition by subtraction moves the club made this winter was saying buh-bye to Carlos Delgado, who I felt was a very intimidating presences in the Mets Clubhouse and too many times Wright had to take a backseat to the senior vet. Now with Delgado gone it’s time for Wright to takeover that clubhouse. 

You need an everyday player to be the go to guy and Wright fits that mold better than anyone not named Johan Santana with the Mets. As great a player as Carlos Beltran is, he’s a very low key guy and Jose Reyes who is the on field igniter could be Wright’s tag-team buddy in that clubhouse, in fact in a perfect baseball world the two faces’ of the franchise should be able to say or do what they please with the service time they have with the club, but both are deferential to the older vets on the team sometime to a fault.

If Johan Santana can play the Cliff Floyd role with Wright and give him backup, it would be a major asset to this team. It won’t cure all the ills, but it would help put on notice players, who don’t give 100 % effort physically and mentally, especially the mental part which was as much a reason for the Mets demise as the injuries were last year.

Forget all the bravado of the team to beat bullshit, besides health, the biggest improvement with this Mets team and the whole organization for that matter is accountability. The team motto for this spring and season should be “NO MORE EXCUSES!!!!!”

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AT PORT ST. LONESOME IT’S A GAME OF “CAN’T CATCH ME”

1 day until pitchers and 1,000,000 catchers march

Even though I nearly busted my ass walking down my ice covered driveway this morning (my kids took the tea pot and a broom outside yesterday and said they are starting the Staten Island Curling Club with my driveway acting as the home arena) it’s good to know that the Mets catchers have seen their shadows (I picture all these backstops standing around like birds on a wire) so that could only mean 6 weeks of spring training.

Speaking of catchers, yesterday the stories out of St. Lonesome had Henry Blanco as the one catcher with a roster spot sewn up but Omar Minaya says he’s not an everyday player. His tag team partner though changes everyday. One day the stories are about Omir Santos, then today we read about how Josh Thole can hit in whatever league he plays in plus he worked this off season with Bob Natal the Mets Catching Coordinator on his receiving skills. Now we are hearing that the Mets are working on signing Rod Barajas to either a minor league deal or a bargain basement ML deal. It’s to the point now that every pitcher in camp will have his own personal catcher.

JR of JR’s Sports Briefs did a video of the Mets Blood drive at $iti Field the other day. Usually the Mets do this drive in the spring but I guess with the shortage of blood in area hospitals they decided to go with a winter drive as well as a spring one as well.

Mike Silva is looking for the Mets promotional schedule on the team website but it’s no where to be found. I’m sure when they do decide to release the list of promotions it will be the same as every year, opening day schedule magnet, a couple of bobble head days,  drawstring bag day, notebook day, various t-shirts and lunch bag day.  Now I won’t kill these giveaway days as I have more Mets swag than I my basement can handle and I am a sucker for bobble heads but it would be refreshing to see something a little more imaginative from the Mets promo department. I don’t expect that though.

I don’t know why this bothers me but it does

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BREAKING BREAD WITH JERRY MANUEL

I’m just back from the WFAN Breakfast with Jerry Manuel at the Hard Rock Café in Times Sq and it was a most interesting morning.

 

The Hard Rock put out a nice spread and back in the day when animal fat and food drenched in oil were a staple of mine I’d have gone through 3 or 4 plates of food ( at times I have to stop myself from grabbing these middle aged guys in the too tight Dockers with their ample bellies hanging over their belts and telling them “I feel your pain stop killing yourself” ) but now it was just a raisin bagel a banana and an orange.

 

J-Man took the stage with Mike (The Sports Bloviator a/k/a TSB) Francesa. I have not seen Francesa in person in about two years and he looks the same. The guy is shape like a pear and can definitely do the “hippy-hippy shake” the man is as wide as an ol’ Buick Duce and a quarter.

 

Manuel was dress sharp in a light blue gray sports coat and grey slacks (ok now I’m feeling like one of queer eye dudes, I’m going to start singing show tunes in a minute) looking as cool as the other side of the pillow.

 

TSB after taking up too much time with his questions (no one was there to see or hear him) the floor was open for the audience to ask questions. Out of about 200 people in attendance only 20 people came forward to ask J-Man a question. You know I ran up to the head of the line but the point is for all the bitching and moaning I heard while standing on line outside the Hard Rock about his use of the bullpen and how the team is doomed not one of those big mouths stepped up to speak their mind to J-Man. That’s pretty weak.

 

My question to Manuel came from reading quotes in the paper today from Alex Cora. Cora since becoming an everyday player has stepped up on the field and in the clubhouse I loved his quote of  “it takes more than 5 superstars to win a World Series” so I asked how does having a player like Cora who seems to be a hands on guy in the clubhouse take the pressure off the manager ? Manuel said that was an excellent question as did TSB (I got to be careful not to dislocate my shoulder patting myself on the back) J-Man went on to say that Cora has been invaluable to him as he leads not just by example on the field but is looked up too and respected in the clubhouse. With Cora as one of his “top cops” policing the clubhouse it frees the manager up concentrate more on match ups and strategy. I followed that up with how  I perceive Cora has become very influential on David Wright as we see Wright flexing his status as a team leader more as when he confronted Big Pelf to step up and give the team more effective innings and how Wright is giving more quotes of substance in his interviews lately. Again Manuel liked that question (I think me and the skipper had a bonding moment there) and said that Wright has taken to Cora and that the team is Wright’ team. When asked by TSB when (if?) Delgado comes back will that change? Manuel said “No, this is David’s team”.

 

Some other topics that Manuel spoke on were:

 

Jose Reyes- Manuel is as puzzled as all of us when it comes to Jose. Manuel explained that the tendon behind Reyes knee is one that really has no use, that you can function very well without it. The problem is its frayed and that is where the problem is as that’s causing him the discomfort. If the tendon were to just break off, Reyes would be fine. I know I don’t get that either.

 

Johan Santana-He is his stud and the guy that he is relying on every 5th day to give the Mets a chance to win. With a pitcher like Santana you cut down on the odds of a long losing streak.

 

How the Mets cope through the injuries-Manuel hinted that “small ball” will be the way to go as he “re-invents” the way he team goes about it offensively. He would love to have a big bat in fact he mentioned having a “big bat” several times this morning.

 

On asking Omar for reinforcements-J-Man says he doesn’t go to Omar and ask for players during the season as he feels that it is not fair to his players on board to do that but in the winter he says he talks to Omar regularly and has a big wish list.

 

One question to Manuel was on the way pitching staffs are put together and pitch counts. Manuel said that pitchers today are conditioned to just get to 100 pitches and that their mind set is since I’m at the 100 pitch time for me to come out. Pitchers today are programmed so that 100 pitches means I’m tired (fatigued was Manuel’ word) and it has become so physiological that even if they aren’t tired they talk themselves into believing that they are. Very interesting and revealing comments I thought. I have to keep that in mind when I’m screaming for Manuel to leave his starters in the game.

 

The downer of the morning was Francesa who just would not shut up. TSB seems to forget that he gets to speak to Manuel every week and for fans this may be the only time we get to pick the managers brain. Then of course TSB has to mention the Highlanders. When the Castillo drop was mentioned, TSB had to chime in with how Derek Jeter is great going back of pop ups. There was a collective groan from the fans but as much as I wanted to yell out “Shut the fuck up” I behaved myself. TSB spoke about the Highlanders so much that J-Man told him “that the (Highlanders) better be ready for us this weekend and they should be lucky they don’t see us in the second half when we’re healthy as then they’ d have no chance of winning” and of courses that was met with wild applause. At least Jerry Manuel knows his audience.

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I GUESS I’M JUST SICK AND TIRED OF BEING SICK AND TIRED

As I was in the middle of my interview with Bill Reynolds last night on PRO BASEBALL CENTRAL, Raul Ibanez hit Ken Takahashi’ pitch that was below his ankles out of the park Iw as ready to yell OH FUCK! But I kept my composure and concentrated on the interview but if you listen to the show you could tell after the Reynolds interview I tried to fill the last half hour of the show although I was shell shocked by the Mets again unable to hold a lead.

I don’t know if it’s just frustration or that there is in power struggle between J-Man and Omar but some of Jerry Manuel’s moves have me puzzled. His choice of Fernando Tatis as and everyday player and burying Daniel Murphy on the bench is ridiculous. Tatis has been a great addition to the Mets but for Christ sake he ‘s not Lou Gehrig, he’s a very good utility guy who produces when used sparingly. Please, FREE DANIEL MURPHY at put him at first base. Same with Ryan Church can you leave the guy in RF? Let F-Mart platoon with Sheffield in LF because as great as Sheff has been he’s is 40 years old and can not play every day.

So now John Maine joins the walking wounded with a “tired arm”. How much you want to bet this is another line of happy horseshit from Flushing ?

PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! Don’t tell me that Nelly Figs is coming up for Maine. I don’t care what Jon Neise’ numbers are in Buffalo bring him up and let him pitch and stop burying this kid. ENOUGH OF NELSON FIGUEROA already!

You’ll read no more criticism of D-Wright or Carols Beltran here as both of these guys have stepped up and gone above and beyond the call of duty. If I were managing a team against the Mets I’d never give either guy a pitch to hit I’d take my chances with the other six guys in the lineup.

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WELL THIS CAME OUT OF RIGHT FIELD

 I have banged my head against the laptop trying to figure out why in the name of George Weiss, Omar Minaya would sign Gary Sheffield. When I first saw this story and said in my best John McEnroe voice “You cannot be serious”? I thought the Mets were done with signing old guys who were finished. But then you say he’s right handed and he’s cheap but then again he has the rep of being a malcontent but it seems he wants to play for the Mets but still is that enough for Omar to bring Sheffield on board?

I want to scream HELL NO!!!! but I’ll tell you the truth this bringing Sheffield to the Mets is a no loose proposition.

They would have to pay him just $400K as he will be drawing $14 mil from the Tigers, it adds a sorely needed right hand bat to the lineup and he knows this is the last round-up, fuck up here and you’re done and it rids the Mets of Marlon Anderson.

The only real drawback that I can see is in the field where the 40 year old Sheffield is a liability, but he has to know he would come here not as an everyday player but a platoon/righty bat off the bench guy.

The guy who is impacted by this move is Ryan Church as he would platoon with Sheff in RF. No way Daniel Murphy suffers here  as he is now” Plays Daily Danny” so as far as Church’s feelings a concerned, suck it up son this is the big leagues.

So if Omar wants to bring Sheffield in and work a platoon in RF I vote Yea.

It’s amazing how clear things are after a head banging session.  

 

       

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