I Can’t Wait For The Day When The Mets Are Better Than Competitive

The” Ol’ Perfeser” knew how to hold a presser 

 

I’m really starting to feel sorry for Terry Collins. No matter how he tries to construct a lineup, he can’t find a 1-8 that can provide any offensive punch.  He tries to match right vs. left and vice versa, he tries to move the parts around in different slots of the lineup and still nothing works.

If I have an issue with Collins it’s in his post-game press conference after losses which are coming at a rapid pace this second half, when he talks about competing, repeating the mantra “we have to compete”. Why settle for being competitive, why not say we need to find ways to win and find players who are winning ballplayers because right now the Mets are devoid of such animal.

Collins last night spoke of finding out who is willing to give his all to winning baseball games and who is here to just get a couple of hits, throw 6 innings and be happy with personal achievement.  This is the fourth straight season I’ve heard this late season lament. The problem is the Mets are a passive bunch. The one time a player shows any kind of fight, he’s ridiculed.

Last night Jordany Valdespin batted for Scott Hairston in the 8th inning with 2 on and 2 out and the Mets down 2-1. Valdespin hitting a little roller, runs down first base and seeing it’s going to be a foot race between him and Rockies first baseman Tyler Covin, decided to dive head first into the bag, something that is not encouraged, and was out by an eyelash. Valdespin jumped up and got in umpire Adrian Johnson’s grill even though  the replay proved Johnson’ call correct, it was good to see a Mets player upset enough to go nose to nose with a man in blue.

Sure, Valdespin head first slide into first base wasn’t the smartest move but if you listened to Gary Cohen, you’d have thought it was a pre-meditated plan by Vladespin. I’m a big Cohen fan, he’s one of the best play by play men around, but his treatment of Valdespin is over the top. I understand that Valdespin is not the most like player in the Mets organization, I’ve yet to meet anyone connected with the team that has a nice thing to say about JV1 but I’ve never heard Cohen go after players who have been under performers like Jason Bay. In fact, bring Bay’s name up to anyone in the organization and they start every conversation with “what a great guy…..”  in fact I would have like to have heard Cohen take Ike Davis to task for his lousy at bat in the 8th inning where he struck out and looked badly doing so.

There is nothing better than listening to Bobby Ojeda go off on the SNY post-game show. Ojeda pulls no punches and tells the truth is not afraid to hurt some feelings of either players or coaches. SNY is missing the boat by not giving Ojeda and Ray Lucas a show on the network.

Isn’t it time to just shut Johan Santana down for the season? Let him take this MRI and then put him on the 60 day DL so you free up a spot on the 40 man for Collin McHugh.

Let’s play guess the lineup, here is the lineup I’d use for tonight’s game:

Tejada

Murphy

Wright

Davis

Hairston

Baxter

Valdespin

Shoppach

Young

 

 

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Mets Dreck Pt. 2

 

What else is there to say about last night’s game than what Terry Collins said in his post-game presser :

“I haven’t the faintest idea. I don’t know if it’s fatigue. I don’t know what it is. We didn’t run the bases. We didn’t play good defense. We didn’t drive in the runs we needed to drive in. It was a combination of a lot of things. We didn’t pitch very goodl. It was the worst Dillon’s pitched probably in awhile… We’ve played two bad baseball games here. We are a better team than what we’ve played.”

I’m not buying the fatigue factor at all, it’s not like Collins is running out the same eight guys game after game, in fact everyday seems like there is a different lineup.  Two areas that were a big problem last year and are still a big problem this year, the defense and the bullpen have to be addressed soon or the feel good first three months of this season will be forgotten fast.

As much as I love Daniel Murphy the leash on his 2nd base job is getting shorter and shorter. 28 is getting another start today against the Cubs but it could be Collins is ready to go to a platoon of Murph and Ronny Cedeno . Last time I was at Citi Field sitting in on Collins’ pre game press conference, the question of Murhpy’s slump came up. What was interesting in Collins response was he and hitting coach Dave Hudgens had told Murphy to take a break with watching video and taking batting practice in the indoor cage, which sounded to me like Collins was cryptically saying Murphy suffered from paralysis from analysis.  Collins also spoke on how Murphy keeps changing how he holds his hands from at bat to at bat along with his stance in the batter’s box. For all the hard work and dedication that Murphy puts in it seems like Collins is hinting that he’s overdoing it and needs to relax.

The one thing that should save Ike Davis from a fine and suspension is the incompetence of umpire Manny Gonzalez. Gonzalez blew the pick off call in the 8th inning last night and Ike just put his glove on the umps arm which is an automatic ejection but I’d hope Gonzalez apologies to Ike today for blowing that call.

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MORE FROM MY FRIDAY AT CITI FIELD

On Friday the Mets invited some Mets bloggers back to Citi Field to participate in Terry Collins’ pre and post game press conference and to watch the game between the Mets and Brewers from the press box.  I want to thank Danielle Parillo Director, Communication and Shannon Forde Director, Media Relations for the hospitality they’ve shown us and for the invitations to these events and the Mets management for trying and so far succeeding in changing the atmosphere around the club and bringing transparency and communication back to the fan base via the voice of the fans, the Mets bloggers.

During the evening I sat with Mike Silva of NY Baseball Digest and Mike mentioned to me a post he was writing dealing with Mike Pelfrey and how the Mets should explore making Pelf the closer for 2012. We tossed the subject around with the pros and cons and mostly if Pelf can handle the day to day pressure of closing and if he could get a strikeout when he needs it. All in all it was a subject that stirred a debate and was great conversation. That being said, I was shocked to see the lightweight Mets beat reporter for the NY Daily News write the same exact story that Silva posted on Saturday in today’s paper. I won’t link the News story but if you see someone using a Daily News to pick up after their dog in the street ask if you can have the sports section to read the ripped off story.

I still feel a bit intimidated when I go to these Mets bloggers events. Before the press conference, Danielle informed the blogggers that we could ask Terry Collins a question but she warned, he wasn’t in a very good mood. Now I had a question for the manager as I wanted to know if in the Mets minor league system, of which Collins was the Minor League coordinator, do the coaches and managers have classroom sessions, kind of like they do in other sports, where they go over video of a game and correct mistakes in base running or on defense like throwing to the wrong base or being out of position and to go over the rules of the game?  

When Collins entered the room the first thing he said to Jay Horowitz was “I’m out of here at 4:05” it was 3:55 when he said that. The media in the room that I recognized were Adam Rubin, Howie Rose, Gary Cohen, George Vesey and Ed Coleman.  The bulk of the questions were about Jose Reyes and his sore hammy. It seems Reyes was able to run on a track at a training facility in Long Island and I guess the manager wanted to see him run the bases at Citi but whatever, the look and mannerism of the manager gave me the impression the last thing he wanted to do was answer a questions from the media much less from bloggers.  

When Shannon approached me with the microphone to ask a question, something in my mind told me, “ehhhh you better pass here. It’s a pretty good question but maybe save it if you meet the manager in the off season when it’s a little calmer” So I passed my turn to the next blogger, who passed to the next blogger who passed to…..Well, I guess you see my point, none of us wanted to raise the skipper ire.

One of the pleasures of watching the Mets warm up and take BP is interacting with Jose Reyes. Reyes was taking some ground balls and playing catch with Justin Turner, then hit the cage for BP. When he was done he headed to the clubhouse and as he got close to me I asked him how he was feeling and how the hamstring was and he answered. “I’m feeling good Papi, I’ll be ready soon” This was the second time I’ve spoken to Reyes (the other was during an event in the offseason)    and both times he called me Papi and you know what, it made my day both times.

Yesterday I posted the audio from the bloggers sit down with R.A. Dickey. Before R.A. came out we were hanging out in the Mets dugout. I put my bag down and hopped up on the wall in back of the benches to sit down. As R.A. came out he sat right next to me. Luck of the Irish eh? We all introduced ourselves and of course I had to add that I’m @kranepool on Twitter to which Dickey gave me a laugh and said “ahhhh ok pleasure to meet you in person” No R.A. the pleasure was all mine.

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A GREAT NIGHT OF FOOD TASTING AT CITI FIELD AND A SEAT IN THE PRESS BOX FOR DESERT

Quite the evening at Citi Field last night. This post may start to ramble for a while so if you want to stay for the full ride I suggest you make a trip to the rest room, grab some coffee and get a comfortable chair.

Last night was another installment of Mets Bloggers Gone Wild at Citi Field.  In this episode, which by the way, SNY is making a huge mistake not taping our blogger outings at Citi Field. The reaction of me and my fellow bloggers in arms when we gain access to areas of the ball park we never thought in a million years we’d enter is priceless.  I know for myself I feel like a 5 year old again and I’m at some old relatives home and my mother grabbing me by my arm imploring me to not to touch anything and mind my manners.  

At the last bloggers gathering, we were invited to listen to Terry Collins pre-game press conference and we were given access to be on the field during batting practice. As the main streamers sat in the Mets dugout, Shannon Forde, the Director of Media Relations (and all around sweetheart who sets up these events) told our group we could sit in the dugout as well. What? Say that again? So into the Mets dugout we went.  As hard as I tried to stay out of people’s way, I felt an arm on my shoulder and voice saying “excuse me” the arm belonged to Daniel Murphy, the shoulder was mine. I apologized for being in the way (“Oh sorry Daniel”) and Murph patted my back and said “not a problem”. So just when you think that was a best day ever, you have a day like yesterday.

My day at Citi Field started off with the bad news about David Wright and his stress fracture in his back. I arrived a bit earlier than expected and as I waited to get my credential, Shannon saw me and invited me to sit in on the Wright press conference. I told you she’s a sweetheart.  As Wright spoke about the MRI and then revealed he had a stress fracture in his back from the play in April involving Carlos Lee, I wanted to yell out “oh shit” and kick the chair in front of me but I had to remember that in these situations I can’t be a fanboy. It was interesting watching the media taking notes and asking questions nice and calm, while all Mets fans receiving this news were freaking out.    

As I waited for the rest of the blogger-ratzi to arrive, Caryn Rose, Kerel Cooper, Mike Silva, Matthew Artus, Rob Castellano and Ceetar,  I sat near Jay Horowitz who was on his phone spreading the word that Wright was going for a second opinion on his back and relaying the successful surgeries of pitchers Chris Young and Jenry Mejia . As Horowitz got off the phone, he let out a sigh and looked over at me with a smile and said hello. I almost did one of those look over the shoulders and then point at myself as to say “you talking to me” and with a “hiya Jay, busy day eh”? he replied shaking his head “that’s for sure”

When the other bloggers arrived, we were set to start out tour of the new food products available at Citi Field and of the clubs in the ballpark.

I’ve been a critic of some of the food stands and the emphasis that is put on what to eat at the ballpark, but after meeting Scott Kleckner, Resident District Manager, Sports & Entertainment for Aramark, I have to switch my position. The enthusiasm that Kleckner has for the food concessions and clubs reminds me of how Terry Collins talks about his team.  I still would rather sit in the stands at a ball game on a warm summer night with a hot dog and drink and from talking to Kelckner, he not only understands folks like me, he respects that fan mindset and wants you to be able to go to any concession stand and get the best hot dog and drink that you could possibly have.  He puts his degree in Hospitality and Management to excellent use. Kleckner is proud of the quality of the food and the amenities of the clubs at Citi Field, and he should be.

Kleckner and his staff brought us around to different concessions to try some of the new food items available at Citi Field. We first went to Catch of the Day stand to sample Popcorn Shrimp and Shrimp Po’Boy ‘s.  I’m not a big seafood eater but I loved the Popcorn Shrimp. The shrimp had a nice breading and wasn’t overly greasy (that was the one thing with the fried food we tried it never had a greasy taste) from there we moved to Keith’s Grill to sample the Mex Burger. This burger was put together by Keith Hernandez and consists of a Brooklyn Burger, cheddar and jack cheese, bacon, guacamole, chipotle aioli and jalapenos. That’s a spicy burger. I’m not much for spicy food so I favor the Gold Glove burger myself, which has cheese ,bacon lettuce, tomato, ketchup on one side of the roll and mustard on the other   . My one problem with Keith’s Grill is they make the burgers one at time which is great but they need to add another Keith’s Grill somewhere else in the ball park. During the last home stand, my wife waited 30 minutes on the line to get four burgers; on her behalf I field a protest with Mr. Kleckner.

We then went over to Cascarino’s Pizza.  This is my least favorite concession, the pizza is good (we sampled the thin Sicilian with fresh mozzarella) but I just have a tough time paying over 6 bucks for a slice.  We also tried a new fried chicken sandwich at Blue Smoke which was good but a little too much on the mayo but then again any mayo is too much for me. I hate mayonnaise.

We then went to what I feel is the best new concession to taste the Hot Pastrami. WOW!!! The meat is hand carved nice and thin and very tender and seasoned to perfection. The pastrami may move ahead of the turkey and mozzarella at Mama’s of Corona as my food at choice at Citi Field.

After stuffing ourselves at the concessions we moved on to the clubs. As I say I’m not one for the stadium clubs but again I loved Scott Kleckner’s enthusiasm and passion for the product the staff puts out.  Kleckner raved about the eggplant parmigiana hero in the Delta 360 Club. It was outstanding. The eggplant was just how I like it, sliced thin, seasoned and breaded nicely and not tough or stringy or mushy, and the tomato sauce had nice flavor not acidy, the roll was nice and crusty as well. You were right Scott that is a hell of a sandwich.

After all that noshing, we were set to watch the game. Shannon then informed us that we, the bloggers could sit in the press box. Yes you read that right, we, the bloggers were invited to sit in the Citi Field press box during a real live Major League game. Talk about an awkward feeling. It’s nowhere near Jackie Robinson breaking the color line I know, but never in my wildest imagination did I think I would go from a non-pants wearing , basement dwelling lunatic ranting about his favorite baseball team to having a seat in not just a Major League press box but the Citi Field press box.  We all handled ourselves correctly, no cheering in the press box and when we spoke to each other it was in hushed tones as people were working. We got a few stares but the box wasn’t very crowded. The best part for me were all the stat sheet  handouts they have, it reminded me of when Sal “Red Light” Messina did color on  NY Ranger games on radio, he’d always slip me the media notes for the game, class all the way was Red Light.

So the state of baseball reporting survived an invasion of Mets bloggers sitting in their Ivory Tower. The bedrock of Manhattan didn’t shift, the Atlantic Ocean didn’t erupt and flood Coney Island and Jay Horowitz didn’t suffer a nervous breakdown. Now if one of the beat writers would have come over and put his arm around us, like Pee Wee Reese did to Robinson, the night would have been complete.

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GEE? CARRASCO? WHO KNEW?

Today is the 35th Anniversary of Rick Monday saving the American flag from being burned by a couple of assholes at Dodger Stadium. What made this attempt at flag burning even more galling back then was the country was getting ready to celebrate the Bicentennial.  I hope those two morons in the picture that tried to light the flag on fire have had 35 years of misery.

So much for same old Mets.  As we see no matter your contract, if you don’t produce, you can be replaced and Sandy Alderson is calling the shots.

After Dillion Gee’ start on Saturday, Terry Collins stated in his post-game press conference that it would be better to have Gee pitch on a regular basis in Buffalo than in the Mets bullpen. Well, the GM had a different idea, keeping Gee and shipping D.J. Carrasco out to the Bison. The names bantered around that would be effected by solid outing by Gee were Chris Capuano or Chris Young and I felt Jon Niese could be the odd man out, I have to say I never thought about Carrasco getting the boot to Buffalo. Who the hell knew that Carrasco had options? Sandy Alderson that’s who.

Ronnie Paulinohas had another set back with a strained rib cage so that means the  Nickeas /Thole catching combo lives on.  When it comes time to activate Paulinoit may be Thole who gets sent back to Buffalo. Thole has not done much with the bat and it looks like he will not be behind the plate when Big Pelf pitches (we will know if Nickeas catches Pelfrey on Friday when he is scheduled to go up against the Phillies and Joe Blanton) so Thole has a week or ten days to get the bat going or he could be gone.

Ian O’Connor has written a book on Derek Jeter and part of the book was excerpted in the NY Post yesterday.  It does not portray El Capitan’ in a very good light. Not much earthshattering here, Jeter hates A-Rod, St Joseph of Torre favored Jeter over Rodriguez, and Pee Wee Cashman  doesn’t have much love for Jeter who told Jeterwhen A-Rod was having his problems withHighlander fans and with his admittance to steroid use and not having The Captain stand by his side that “he has to lead them all” a big shot to the legend of the Jeter leadership fairy tale which takes a bigger hit when Cashman tells CC Sabathia during his contract negotiation the he needs him to help fix a fractured clubhouse.

I interviewed Tyler Kepner of the NY Times on THIS CALL TO THE BULLPEN last Wednesday as we talked about the bookDerek Jeter: From The Pages of The New York Times, where we spoke about the A-Rod/Jeter relationship and how much of the Jeter leadership portrait is fact and fiction.

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“OK, DID ANYONE SEE WHAT HAPPENED HERE”?

WHEW!!!! Where to start? I feel like a detective arriving at a crime scene, who found the body? Any witnesses? Ok, start canvassing the area.

I hadn’t have time to post since Wednesday morning as I’ve had a whirl wind couple of days.

Wednesday I was granted a media credential. Yes you read that right, a MEDIA credential. Never in a million years did I ever think I would walk into Shea Stadium/Citi Field press entrance and say to the receptionist “Good afternoon, I’m Steve Keane of the Eddie Kranepool Society” and have her reply “Hi Mr. Keane here is your credential, the managers press conference will be starting in few minutes, go right in to the interview room”.

It was great to have a nice showing of the Mets Blogger-ratzi as Caryn Rose, Kerel Cooper, Ed Marcus, Mike Sliva, Joe Janish and Rob Castellano on Wednesday as we were welcome to attend Terry Collins pre game press conference. The only stipulation was we weren’t allowed to ask questions which was fine as the media assigned to cover this game does this for a living and have deadlines to meet, believe me it was a kick just having the main stream media looking at us with that “ there goes the neighborhood look.

After the quickie presser, we were led out to the field to watch batting practice. It was a bit awkward at times, I’m standing right in front of R.A. Dickey and I’m like should I say hello? Ask him how his cracked nail is? What are you reading these days?  We were allowed to go into the dugout so as I entered, standing at the bat rack is Daniel Murphy, again I have to restrain myself from going all fanboy there. From attending events over the winter at Citi Field, I’ve learn (a) don’t wear any Mets gear, which is tough when three quarters of your wardrobe has either Mets or and interlocking blue and orange NY and (b) be prepared with good questions. I’m not there to swoon; I’m there to get as much information as I can. I have to say, I let my guard down for a moment though, as Josh Thole was strolling to the dugout, I was standing right at the steps as he came right next to me and I blurted out “Hey Josh how’s it goin”? And Thole put his hand out for handshake and replied “doin’ great how are you”?  I kind of felt, oh no did I break protocol? Then I thought,” Well I’ll say I made a rookie mistake” on me not Thole.  I then composed myself and went back in to investigative mode and canvassed the area for info and I got some good stuff.

Many of the folks I talked to were very surprised of course by the awful start of the season the team has had but what they found more shocking was the venom spewed by some of the fan base. A lot of the talk was about, it’s fine to boo and be pissed off by the early play of the team but the level of nastiness towards the Mets by Mets fans is unprecedented.  A few people I talked to could not believe the hate coming from what Mets fans were in the Citi Field stands.  Look, no one would say any Mets fan is wrong for being angry and disillusioned by this awful start, but some of the remarks I’ve heard on opening day and talk radio and on Twitter and Facebook have been a bit outlandish.  There is no question that the Mets have found more ways to beat themselves and have given away too many games and this start of the season has sucked more than any of us imagined but what was your best case scenario for the team before opening day? I felt, give me 82-84 wins and be in the hunt for the Wild Card spot as my best possible. Did anyone think this team was better than the Phillies or Braves? I didn’t think so.

Again please don’t take this as any excuse for the horrendous play in the field by this Mets team.  This opening home stand has been a embarrassment and every single player on this team needs to step up his game and step up fast. I’d even include the manager in that as well. I feel for Terry Collins in the fact that from talking to guys who spent all of spring training covering this team in St. Lonesome, there was more hands on instruction done in that camp than the last two put together. Collins main goal was to tighten up the fundamentals that have been lacking with the big league team and in the minor league system for years. As pissed off as you are as a Mets fan over the recent piss poor play, it’s nothing like the angst the manager is going through.  So far TC has been composed and has his player’s backs but another few games of this bullshit and I’m sure Mount Collins will erupt.

What I’d take the manger to task over and this is not earth shattering as it’s seems to be the overwhelming consensus, is not walking Troy Tulowitzki with 1st base open and 2 outs.  In hind sight, I think Collins would love a mulligan there. What has me the most annoyed is that Tulo was never made uncomfortable in the batters box at any time in this four game series. I don’t say throw at his head but for Christ sake couldn’t someone on the pitching staff step up and dust him? This bothers me because when I first met Collins over the winter my first question was will you change the culture of this team letting the opposition come into your home ball park and do whatever they want with you. I gave him my opinion that the past couple of years the Mets have a rep for being soft and when punched they never punched back. Collins told me I wasn’t wrong in my assessment and it was something he said he would change. He even pointed out that if he had been the manager when Chase Utley took out Ruben Tejada last year, he would have led the charge out of the dugout to confront Utley.   First at bat tonight I’d like to see Larry Jones eat some Georgia clay just to send a message.

Someone in the Mets P.R. department needs to tell Collins to cease and desist with the we played hard or how proud he is that the team battled back those replies have to stop like yesterday. We have heard the Rich Kotie/Art Howe/Willie Randolph refrain more time than we ever need to hear again. When Sandy Alderson took over and hired Collins for the job, the mantra was that honesty and transparency would be  the bedrock of the new management team, well it’s time to live up to the new company motto and stop with the we battled back, tried hard line of horseshit because playing hard shouldn’t be rewarded it’s to be expected.  

Another topic of conversation around the dugout was what will be of Jose Reyes? Will he be traded mid-season if the team is out of contention? If he stays, will the Mets sign him to a long term deal? How is long is too long and how much money is too much money for the Mets? Of a bunch of us discussing this no one had a definitive answer or solution. Many of us feel, the lack of money will be a bullshit excuse. If the Skill Sets plead lack of funds then that is a flat out lie. If it’s years on the contract that would be more of a reasonable topic of debate.

As far as the Skill Sets legal woes go, word on the street is the players couldn’t give a shit about their problems as long as there are sufficient funds to cash their checks. The day the bank shouts out “insufficient funds” then they’ll care.

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‘ROUND AND ‘ROUND IT GOES, WHERE IT STOPS ONLY JERRY MANUEL KNOWS

I want to revel in the Mets victory last night in the South Bronx, as the Mets looked like the more confident and aggressive team but I’m still trying to get over the confusing nature of Jerry Manuel’ managing.

Why would you have Jose Reyes sac bunt in the 8th with Tejada on 1st,no outs?  Reyes is so uncomfortable bunting for a sacrifice to start with then you add in he is on fire with the bat, the move made no sense. Reyes saved his managers ass by doubling down the RF line. When Reyes got to second we saw the Jose of old, clapping those hands and that intense look on his face, pointing toward teammates, vintage Reyes.  But in his post game press conference, Manuel expressed concern over Reyes getting over emotional, Hey Jerry, that’s when we know Jose is at his best when he jumping, clapping and going handshake wild. The fans love it, his teammates love it so what’s the problem? Are you afraid of pissing off the opponent?  The Highlanders? Fuck them.

Again the game of Jerry Manuel Roulette was played with the bullpen as no one, the relievers in particular can figure out how Manuel will use the pen. Why would you use Ruben Valdes in the 9th inning of a 4-0 game, a game you said you wanted to make sure you won? Valdes is a mop up guy at best. Even your pitchers are questioning your madding methods.

Why is John Maine guaranteed a spot in the rotation when he comes back? I must have missed the years Maine won his Cy Young Awards. The way Takahashi has pitched no way Maine gets that spot now. Get ready for the Roulette wheel John .

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