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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Critics Are Way Off Base On The Strawberry-Seaver Exchange at All Time Mets Presentation

I was at the taping of the All Time Mets team at the 92nd St Y on Sunday but the show ran kind of long and with work the next day (a 5AM wake up) and a ferry to catch on the other side of Manhattan, I left as soon as the All Time team was announced so I missed the Q and A portion of the program.

I finally got a chance to watch it and I’m still trying to figure out all the hubbub over the exchange between Darryl Strawberry and Tom Seaver. It seems a lot of folks, Mets fans included are taking Seaver to task for his comment to Straw. Strawberry was asked the question “who would win in a game where it was Seaver vs. Gooden, a tough, tough question to answer. Darryl tried to be diplomatic and praised both pitchers then like a good politician he side stepped the question and jokingly bantered with Seaver on how he would have loved to bat against him to which Seaver responded “do you have handcuffs on”. It’s that comment that has some folks up in arms and I feel it’s a real over reaction.

I took the comment and I’d bet Strawberry took it as well, as Seaver saying “are you handcuffed? No ? The grab a bat and let’s go”. Some folks are saying the Seaver made an insensitive comment since Strawberry has had many run- ins with the law and has been arrested a few times in his tumultuous life. That is really a reach. Watching that video at no time did it seem that Seaver was being malicious or nasty to Straw in fact as I’ve said a few time since attending the show live, I have never seen Seaver so engaging and jovial in a long, long time. Don’t make this something it isn’t and please stop trying to make Seaver into a villain because that is just ridiculous.

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Was Last Night’s No Hitter The Start Of Something Bigger ?

 

This post will be all over the place, so let me apologize in advance because I still can’t get my thoughts all in one place after watching Johan Santana’s no hitter last night. What has me all verklempt is this was more than just the first no hitter in the history of the NY Metropolitan Baseball Club, it was more a display of what this little thing of ours, being a Mets fan means. If the non-believers don’t grasp the concept of Mets fandom after last night, they never will and that’s their loss.

The look of determination on the face of Santana will stay with me for a long, long time as will the image of Terry Collins who was put in the worst spot of al,l worrying about the health of his Ace and the historical place this game was headed. Later we would learn that Santana would sing his own version of The Weight as he told Collins he was not coming out of this game taking the load off the manager and putting on him.

I thought of Josh Thole, just activated after suffering a concussion guiding Santana along. After a week- ten days of working out in a back field of Pt. St. Lonesome to this electrifying moment, I was hoping his head wasn’t hurting.

I thought about Mike Baxter who went above and beyond the call of duty crashing into the left field wall to make a catch that is now another in memorable catches in Mets history. Watching him come off the field with Ray Ramirez holding his arm, I thought the worst but then this morning I read Baxter quotes where he said “I’ll be ok, it’s not about me it’s Johan’s night”. Baxter typified the all for one, one for all attitude this team has taken on.

I thought about Gary Cohen calling the game on SNY and Howie Rose calling the action on WFAN, they are not just the Mets play by play men, they are one of us. I feel even closer to them since we are all from the same generation who got into Mets Fandom on the ground floor. I’ve always wondered if our paths ever crossed way back when in the Upper Deck at Shea maybe during a Craig Swan start or cheering a Willie Montanez home run, complete with the stutter step home run trot. When the no hitter was “in the history books” as Howie noted, Ron Darling, who was extremely fired up in the late innings of this game, and Keith Hernandez, who was astonishing quiet maybe superstition took over, asked Gary if he thought the no hitter drought would ever be broken and without missing a beat Cohen said “NO” I got a bit misty in the eyes when Gary said that because I knew exactly where he was coming from.

I thought a lot about Johan Santana. I thought about all the hard work he put in to get back on a Major League mound and like Bobby Ojeda said on the post-game show pitching “on back fields in front of tumble weed and three legged dogs”. This is part of the professional athletes life that many fans either ignore or just don’t care about. The work that Santana put in after his shoulder surgery is what separates him as one of the top pitchers in MLB to the guy holding on or trying to get a roster spot. All pitchers at this level can throw a baseball, it’s the few who have the work ethic and the intelligence to make the climb to the top that stand out. When Santana went down with his shoulder injury that needed surgical repair he was one of the best pitchers in baseball. He worked his ass off in rehabilitating the shoulder and in getting himself back on his game right where he left off.  After last night’s performance all those days with the physical therapist and then on the back fields of the Mets minor league complex with the sweat dripping off him to the scrutiny of Dan Warthen and Terry Collins in spring training to the skepticism of the media and fan base, wondering which Johan Santana we would see, has paid off big time. What we’ve seen is one of the best pitchers in Mets history and a player with the heart of a lion.

Last night was not about the owner and how much money he has or doesn’t have  nor was it about whether this team is playing over their heads, no, it was about what it’s like when you sign on to become a Mets fan. There are good days and some bad days and then there are days like yesterday that wash away all the bad.  If you’ve decided not to support this team because of your disdain for the ownership, well you’re stupid. If you learned anything last night it’s not about the Skill Sets, it’s not about the Robinson Rotunda, it’s not about the outfield walls and it’s not about the Shake Shack, it’s about the 25 players and it’s about us and for all of you who have been avoiding Citi Field, you better hop back on the bandwagon and buy some tickets and come out to watch this team play because I don’t think they are done making history, the no hitter might just be the beginning of something very special.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SPRING TRAINING BETTER GET HERE FAST BEFORE METS FANS KILL EACH OTHER

My good buddy Ed “Rusty Jr.” Marcus over at The Real Dirty Mets has a very good column posted this morning on the patients Mets fans will have for the team this coming season. Ed asks the questions will fans show up at Citi Field, if the team gets off to a slow start will fans call for Terry Collins and Sandy Aldersons head and how much more cat calls will we hear from the stands of Citi Field for the Skill Sets to sell? All very good questions.

This off season has been as dormant of any positive Mets news in a long long time. The specter of the Madoff trustee law suit and the teams financial straits have overshadowed any baseball move made by the club as all the moves and non-moves have been money driven. That being said, I can’t wait until training camp opens as we can finally get back to discussing hitting, pitching and defense and hopefully some baseball related story lines.

The die hard “the Mets are in my blood” fan will come out to Citi Field no matter what this coming season brings.  With all the talk of boycotts and protest and insurrection by a part of the fan base, let me say don’t count on me for support. Am I pissed off about the way the Skill Sets have run this franchise and besmirched the good name of the New York Mets? Oh hell yeah! Do I wish they were gone from their seat of power as owner of the team? Double oh hell yeah? But will I abandon my Mets fandom? Infinity hell no!

If Terry Collins can continue to move this team in the direction he has and improve on how they fundamentally play baseball, then this could be a very interesting season. Two major things have to happen for the Mets to play above all expectations this coming season, they must master the fundamentals of baseball and they have to stay healthy, those two aspects of the game will be the difference in whether the dormant Mets fan will come out to Citi Field or will stay home. The Mets do not have the raw talent to be a contender for a division or a wild card berth, but if they limit the mistakes on defense and on the bases along with staying healthy, especially the very fragile starting pitching, the Mets could be the big story of the 2012 baseball season.

If the Mets do become this out of the blue story ,no one in the fan base will give a rat’s ass about the owner. We care about the Skill Sets now because we’re bored and angry, bored because there hasn’t been anything baseball related to discuss thus we’ve started to turn on ourselves (just check out Twitter any afternoon) and angry because we want to have a team we can be proud to call ourselves fans of.  What the Skill Sets have to worry about is that the die hards don’t become the minority among the fan base.

 

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PSSSST, HEY BUDDY OVER HERE, WANNA BUY A SHARE OF A BIG LEAUGE BASEBALL TEAM?

With Time Warner and Comcast reaching in to their deep pockets to help out their SNY partner the Skill Sets , it has all the earmarks of the old 3 Card Monte games you used to see around the ol’ Forty-Duce back in the day. Instead of having a kid yell out “5-0!! 5-0!!” to warn that the cops were in route, I picture Jeffey standing on the corner playing chickey yelling “PICARD!! PICARD!!

I guess it makes sense for TW and Comcast to help bailout the Skill Sets as the Mets are the main TV programing on SNY, speaking of SNY do you watch any of their programing other than the Mets or any Mets related programing? I didn’t think so. I’m waiting for them to broadcast Classic Giuseppe Franco commercials. Wouldn’t that be the kicker if old Joey ended up buying a share of the Mets?

The Kid toughed it out last night as he headed out to see his Palm Beach Atlantic University baseball team open it’s season.  A very bittersweet night is was as Carter hasn’t made any public appearances since his fight with cancer and with the tumors retuning who knows if he ever will again. If you were shocked by the Carter’s appearance then I guess you have never had a friend or family member stricken with this insidious disease. Consider yourself fortunate.   

Sunday is shaping up to be one of the great sports viewing days in a long, long time. Start off the morning with Chelsea-ManU at Stamford Bridge at 10AM; follow that up with Grizzles-Celtics at Noon with a switch over to Rangers-Flyers at 1PM then a little break and head over for a Super Bowl party with some friends-A Giants fans only party I might add-for Giants-Patriots.  Good thing I’ve been training for years for this kind of endurance test.

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IT COULD BE WORSE, WE COULD BE RED SOX FANS

First thing I read this morning pissed me off to the point I had to fire off an angry Tweet to the author, Rob Parker of ESPNNY.com. See when you lack the creativity gene, you end up writing shit like this. What the Mets have to do with the current mess on Yawkey Way is more than puzzling, in fact even with all the happy horseshit going on in Flushing, the Mets are in much better shape than the Old Town Team.

Speaking of that piece in the Boston Globe yesterday, the worst part of the story wasn’t that the team disintegrated down the stretch to where the majority of the players flat out quit, the worst part was the ownership taking personal pot shots at Terry Francona and the admitting that they had no idea how bad the situation was with the club. The attacks on Francona were as vile as could be bringing up his marital problems and use of pain killers for his destroyed knees, but to bring up the fact that Francona was concerned about his son and son in law, stationed in Afghanistan as a reason he wasn’t focused on his job, just showed the lack of class that trio possesses.

As angry as I was this morning, when I clicked on Metstradamus to check on todays, Hall of Hate matchup between the #1 seed The Wilpons vs. play in winner Matt Cain, I was greeted by one of the great paragraph’s I’ve seen on any Mets blog in a long, long time:

Oh, come on. I really gotta explain it to you? If I have to explain to you why you should hate Mets owner Fred Wilpon and his son Kim Kardashian, then this is obviously your first visit to any Mets blog, ever. This is the Wilpons’ first appearance on the hate list vote and they debut as a one seed. Honestly, the Wilpons can hang out in the clubhouse eating chicken, drinking beer, and playing MLB The Show on Playstation, and win this vote by a hefty margin.

O-o-o-o-o MY GOD!!!!!! Fred Wilpon and his son Kim Kardashian,O-o-o-o My God!!!!!! My side still hurts from that one,

Great news today on Gary Carter’s health Keep Fighting Kid.

The Cleveland Indians are trying to figure out what to do with centerfielder Grady Sizemore and RHP Fausto Carmona as both have expensive option up coming. Sizemore has been racked with injuries the last three seasons and last week underwent knee surgery, has a club option for $9mil that will not be picked up but the $500K buyout most likely will. I would take a flyer on Sizemore if I were the Mets and sign him to an incentive laden deal along with signing David DeJesus to patrol centerfield for the club. As for Carmona, he’s a Mike Pelfrey clone so that would be a NO!

The Pirates are in the same boat with LHP Paul Maholm who the Bucs owe $9.75M but have $750K buyout. Maholm would look nice in a Mets uni but is the price prohibitive?

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