A Fired Up David Wright, What’s Not To Like ?

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So much has been made of the DJ Carrasco-Ryan Braun-Terry Collins-David Wright spectacle from last night, it taken the focus off of Dillion Gee and the second straight start that he was a very hittable pitcher. Gee has had a problem this year making fat pitches to batters, he’s throwing strikes but they are very hittable strikes as his .346 BAP will attest to.  Gee’s ground ball to fly ball rate has jumped to 2.14,much higher than any time in his three year big league career so you could say with the lack of range in the middle infield with Rony Cedeno and Daniel Murphy has hurt him in his last two starts.

When was the last time we saw David Wright get all worked up like he was last night after Terry Collins lifted him in the 7th inning ? I was happy to see that from Wright and I was glad that after he blew up, he came back to the dugout and went over to Terry Collins to explain his side of being pulled. What we are seeing is Wright not only showing leadership with this club but finally being comfortable in that role. I also like that Collins made his decision to take both Wright and Murphy (who also was pissed to be lifted) and let both guys vent and then explained why he made the move he did.

I agreed with Gary Cohen’ take on Carrasco hitting Braun , no one knows what was in his heart if he was throwing at him on purpose or if the pitch just got away from him but to think that Carrasco, a guy whose job is on shaky ground, would just  throw at player and get kicked out of a game in which he needed to show that he can pitch effectively, makes no sense. I’m sure Collins will talk to Carrasco today and let him know that if he was throwing at Braun on purpose it was a stupid move. I’m sure David Wright will let Carrasco know it as well.

So something we knew would happen was officially announced today that the NY Mets will host the 2013 All Star Game at Citi Field in 2013. I am looking forward to this event and all the festivities that surround the Game. I’ve been to one All Star game in my life, in 1977 at Highlander Stadium and I missed the 2008 one as I was on a camping trip, I’m more excited for the Fan Fest at the Javits Center and all the pomp and circumstance that will surround the city than I am for the actual game.

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Signs of Progress Within The New York Mets

Very interesting news coming from the Mets yesterday and today. First the team seems to be on the verge of locking up Jon Niese for the next 5 years, that will reward the lefty pitcher during his arbitration eligible years and buy back a year of his free agency eligibility.  This quite a progressive and proactive move by the Mets front office, something not seen in these parts in many ,many years.

Some reports have the deal at 5 years and $28mil, the 5 years is a big commitment to a pitcher who has suffered from fatigue and injury issues in his brief major league career but it speaks to the high esteem the front office holds Neise in.

During the winter there were rumbles that the Mets put Niese’ name out on the trade market (at the same time Billy Beane made it known that Gio Gonzalez was available in trade and of course the deal was made with the Nationals) that wasn’t an indication that the Mets were looking to rid themselves of the young lefty as some Mets fans jumped to that conclusion, it was more to see what was out there in trade for his valuable services as the Mets front office is trying very hard to add depth to the farm system.

Tying up Niese seems like a smart move by Sandy Alderson. As we see in this column by Mark Simon of ESPN, Niese put up some very impressive numbers involving K/9IP, BB/9IP and HR/9IP, add to that he is 25 years old and left-handed,  it’s hard for even the most jaded Mets fan to go against the front office in this move.   

Seems like the verbal kick in the ass that Mike Peflrey received last week when it was reported the club discussed however informally about giving Big Pelf his release,  has now made its way to Jason Bay as Mike Puma reports there has been some talk about Bay becoming a platoon player if he continues to struggle at the plate.  This should show Mets fans that last year’s getting to know segment of Sandy Alderson’ reign as Mets baseball boss is over and now we are entering the “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” phase of rebuilding the Mets.

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ANDRES TORRES OVER COCO CRISP, NY METS GOT THE BETTER DEAL

 

 

When the Mets off season got under way one of the position I wanted to see an upgraded was center field. I had seen enough of Angel Pagan and it seems Sandy Alderson felt the same way. I was intrigued by Coco Crisp thinking he would be a nice cheap alternative to man the less spacious tundra of the center of the Citi Field outfield.  Alderson felt the better man for the job was Andres Torres, a great glove less than potent bat outfielder who came with RHP Ramon Ramirez to the Mets from the Giants for Angel Pagan.

After reading that Crisp re-signed with the A’s for 2yrs/$14 mil, a year and cash figure that quite frankly stunned me, I went over to Fan Graphs to look at a comparison of both players. 

There isn’t that much of a difference offensively between the two players that would make one about $5 mil better than the other. Crisp will make $7mil a year while Torres made $2.2 mil last year and is under team control for two more seasons.  So even with a raise to say, $3mil for Torres, having him over Crisp in the Mets outfield is major plus for the Mets.

Crisp, 32 years old, has a lifetime .264/.314/.379 with an ISO of .115 in 583 plate appearances.  Torres, 34 years old has a lifetime .221/.312/.330 with an ISO of .109 in 398 plate appearances. We are not talking offensive juggernauts here. Crisp is more the base stealer than Torres swiping 49 bags in his big league career to 19 for Torres. Both players walks rates are close Crisp take a base on balls 7.0% of his plate appearances to Torres’ 10.6 % rate. Torres K’s too much at 23.9 % while Crisp is more disciplined at 11.1 %. 

Back in 2010, Torres had a fine season putting up a line of .268/.343/.479 with 16 HR 43 2B and 63 RBI for the World Champion San Francisco Giants. The last real good offensive season that Crisp has had was back in 2005. So the odds are much better of Torres giving the Mets a bounce back season than Crisp putting up big numbers.

Crsip’ defense has been in decline the last couple of years whereas Torres has continued to play a stellar centerfielder.

So for a difference of say $5mil, who made the better deal, Billy Beane by signing Crisp or Sandy Alderson dealing for Torres? It looks like advantage Alderson to me especially is Ramirez is a decent reliever then this deal could be a huge positive for the Mets.

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RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY IT’S CHRIS SCHWINDEN’S PITCHING DAY

I hope it will stop raining today for a couple of reason, I’d like to harvest the robust crop that has blossomed in the rice paddy that used to be my back yard lawn and I want to see Chris Schwinden pitch in game 1 of today’s Mets-Braves double header.

Schwinden is another of these out of nowhere Mets stories that have been making the team interesting to watch. Schwinden, drafted in 2008, has never been considered a prospect by those who follow and report on the Mets minor leaguers. Even though Schwinden has been a pitcher who throws strikes and rarely walks a batter, although this season with the Bison, his walks are up more than they have in his three year Minor League career (3 per 9IP from 2 per 9IP) but his hits to innings pitched was less for the first time in his career.

Schwinden has been compared closely to Dillion Gee as both have a pretty good grasp on how to pitch by staying ahead in counts and moving their pitches to different areas of the strike zone. Neither has a real out pitch but again Schwinden like Gee, seems to have a good head on his shoulder and a game plan going into each start.

Again it’s a great move by the front office promoting Schwinden and rewarding his outstanding season in Buffalo with a major league start. Knock ‘en dead Chris!      

 

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AUGUST 4, 1975: WHAT THE HELL WAS YOGI BERRA THINKING ?

After a day of trudging through the snow, slush and ice of the sidewalks of Lower Manhattan, little did I know what a wonderful reward was waiting for me when I got home, SNY was showing the 1975 Mets Yearbook and a name from the past that only Mets fans of a certain era would know, Randy Tate was the star of the show.

What you don’t remember or never heard of Randy Tate? Don’t worry you’re not alone. I vaguely remember Tate and for good reason, he not only had just one season in Flushing but that one year been the extend of his big league career.

On the night of August 4, 1975, Randall Lee Tate of Florence Alabama came close to becoming the first Mets pitcher to hurl a no hitter. As we all know, the Mets have not had a pitcher throw a no hitter in their history, but Randy Tate joins the ranks of those who came close, as Tate held the Montreal Expos hitless for  7 innings and the Mets held a 3-0 lead. Tate was dominating through 7 as he K’d 10 and walked 4 which for Tate was a great ratio as his season tally of BB/K was 86/99 in 137.2 IP. Tate came into the game with a 4-9 record after his last start against the Cardinals that lasted just 1.2 innings and got his tits lit for 5 runs on 5 hits and 5 walks. Tate was a back end of the rotation guy, along with Hank Webb. The front end of the staff by the way was 22 game winner Tom Seaver along with Jerry Koosman and Jonathan Trumpbour Matlack.

The Mets scored all of their runs in the 5th inning of this game as Jerry Grote singled and went to second base on a wild pitch by Expos starter Dan Warthen (Yes, our own pitching coach Old School Dan Warthen) The 8 hole batter, Jack Heidemann (what a head of hair Heidemann had back then) walked. Randy Tate then tried to lay down a sac bunt but he bunted right at Old School Warthen who wheeled and threw to Larry Parrish at third to force out Grote. Gene Clines the Mets centerfielder and lead off man stepped up and hit a triple down the right field line that scored Heidemann and Tate. Second baseman Felix Milan hit a ball down to first base that Mike Jorgensen misplayed and Milan was safe and Clines scored the third run of the inning and the game. Jesus Alou flied out to left field and the inning was over.

Tate was strong through six but in the seventh inning he started to show signs of fatigue. He walked rookie catcher Gary Carter and Parrish but was helped out by two force plays and a key strikeout of 2B Pete Mackanin .

Now remember, the manager of the Mets at this time was one Lawrence Peter Berra, who was hanging on to his job by a bare thread. Berra was not very popular in the clubhouse especially by his pitchers as he had never lived down not going with a rested George Stone in Game 6 of the 1973 World Series with the Mets up 3game to 2 over the A’s but making a bad move by going with Tom Seaver on 3 days rest and then going with Jon Matlack on 3 days rest when he could have had both his pitchers on 4 days rest in case of a game 7.

The Mets go down in order in the bottom of the 7th with Tate making the last out. On to the top of the 8th.

Expos manager, Gene Mauch goes right to his bench as he sends up Jose Morales to hit for Pepe Frias. Tate K’s Morales. Jim Lyttle now comes up to bat for pitcher, the pride of Glen Cove LI, Don DeMola. You’d have to figure that Tate was getting a bit weary on the mound. I don’t know what the weather was that night but August nights in NYC are usually warm and humid and Tate had thrown just an average of 4.2 IP in his last five starts but Tate was just 5 outs away from becoming the first Mets pitcher to toss a no hitter, but first he would have to get Lyttle out.

There weren’t many people at Shea that night as the paid attendance of 10, 720 shows but you can bet they were making as much noise as if the place were packed. That was one thing about Shea when the die hards hung around they were a noisy bunch. I can imagine the clapping and cheering as Lyttle stepped into the batters box to face Tate.

All the clapping and cheering turn to moans and groans on one pitch that Lyttle connected with to singled to left field to break up the no-hitter and spoil the greatest day Randy Tate ever had as a major league pitcher. Now that the no hitter was by the boards, it was time to concentrate on winning the game.

You’d have to think that Yogi Berra would have his bullpen up and have a fresh arm ready to close out the last five outs and preserve the win. Well, Tate stayed in the game and then walked the next batter Pepe Mangual to bring the tying run to the plate and still no movement from the manager. Tate then gave Berra a false sense of security by striking out Jim Dwyer, so with two out and one on up stepped Gary Carter, rookie Gary Carter. Again no change in pitcher and Tate is now up into the high 120’s in his pitch count as he gives up a single to Carter that plates Lyttle to make it 3-1 Mets. So the no-no and the shutout are gone and the go ahead run in former Met Mike Jorgensen is strolling to home plate. Still no pitching change by Yogi Berra.

I would love to know what was being said in the Mets dugout as this was playing out on the field. Rube Walker was still on staff as pitching coach and of course Tom Seaver was there as well. I can’t believe that Walker wasn’t looking to get his pitcher out of the game and get a new arm in the game, just from reading the play by play of this game I’m breaking out in a cold sweat.

Now remember Jorgensen was shipped out by the Mets to Montreal along with Ken Singleton and Crazy Horse Foli for Rusty Staub , no doubt he wanted to make his ex-team suffer and sure enough he did by hitting a 3 run home run to put the Expos ahead 4-3.

What in the world was Yogi thinking of not going to the bullpen? Tate had to be on fumes at this point in the game so it seems unless his arm fell off Tate was not coming out this game. Thankfully he got Larry Bitinger ot ground out to end this excruciatingly painful inning. Tate lost his no hitter, shutout and game and maybe his career in this 8th inning. Sad.

The Mets went down without a fight in the 8th and 9th and what could you expect as their manager showed no leadership in this game.

The next day the Mets and Expos played a twi-night double header and the Expos won both games by identical 7-0 scores, after the game, GM Joe McDonald (on orders I’d imagine from M .Donald Grant ) fired Yogi Berra and named Roy McMillan the interim manager. For Randy Tate, the change of manager came a day to late.

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