10 Days Away From Opening Day…Do You Know Who Your Mets Are?

Dennis Ribant has nothing to to do with this post. I just felt like posting his baseball card. For some reason I was thinking about Ribant and why his Mets career was so short. Yes, I need to go out and get some fresh air.   

So we are a mere 10 days away from opening day and the questions at the start of spring training are still questions as we hit the training camp home stretch.  Who’s on first? What’s on second and at shortstop? I DON’T KNOW!!!!!!!!

Let’s peruse the Mets roster that could debut at Citi Field a week from Monday in front a lot of empty seats:

The much anticipated battle of the stiffs never materialized as both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda went down with leg injuries.  That gave us a chance to see Eric Campbell and Josh Satin play the bulk of the spring games. Both players looked to be much better choices than either Ike or Duda but only one of them will make the 25 man roster and looks to be Satin. The shame of it is Campbell will not make it north because he hits from the right side, and Ike, Satin and most likely Duda will make the club. That’s a damn shame.

Daniel Murphy will be the everyday 2nd baseman until Ike Davis and Lucas Duda flop then he would shift over to 1st base and Terry Collins favorite Eric Young Jr would become the regular 2nd baseman that is unless Wilmer Flores takes that spot and EYJ keeps a spot as a super sub. Whew! Where for art thou Edgardo Alfonzo?

None of the in house candidates to play shortstop, Ruben Tejada, Omar Quintanilla or Wilmer Flores are much with the glove so why not take the best bat out of the three which would be Flores and start him at short? Let Ruben be what he was born to be a utility infielder and let Quintanilla be what he was destined to be, a former big league player.

David Wright 3rd base. Nuff’ said

It seems as if long time minor league journeyman and Jersey boy Anthony Seratelli will make this club as a super-sub. His ability to switch hit and get on base makes him an asset.

Chris Young has picked up his offense lately this spring so let’s hope that translates into the season. $7.25 mil for a player whose offensive game has declined the last three seasons seems like a huge gamble for a team that has to scrape and scrimp to come up with that kind of scratch. Got to hope this is not the offensive version of Frank Frank  .

There is no way in hell Terry Collins cannot write Juan Lagares name in the everyday lineup.   Not just Collins but no one in the organization can make a rational argument as to why Lagares will not be in centerfield just about every day.  Here’s a newsflash, the Washing ton Nationals are going to win the division by about 20 games so let’s play Lagares every day and let him grow as a big leaguer .

Can Curtis Granderson give the Mets an average Granderson season? Would you sign on for .261/.340/.488 with 30 HR 80 RBI? Oh hell yeah!

The training wheels are off Travis d’Arnaud, it’s not only his pitching staff but he has to contribute offensively as well. TDA’s bat could be the X factor in this season’ run to respectability.  Yes that is Kevin Pawlicki in the rear view mirror

Jon Niese starts the season on the DL but could be activated by the first weekend series against the Cincinnati Red Legs. With Niese out, Dillion Gee has been given the honor of starting the first game of the season. Good for Gee who was solid the last half of last season and has paid his dues in the organization. Gee will be followed by Zack Wheeler, Bartolo Colon and Dice-K. That’s a solid starting staff and with Raphael Montero and the Mighty Thor waiting in the wings, the club is flush with stellar pitching arms.

The front office has had a tough time putting together a solid bullpen. It doesn’t help that Terry Collins and Dan Warthen are not the best late inning pitching strategists  either but in order to be the 90 win team Alderson thinks he has here, he’s going to need a bullpen that ranks in the top ten , something that has eluded the Mets for a few years now.

There has to be trepidation over the lack of velocity coming from the right arm of Bobby Parnell and the lack of command shown by Vic Black.  Jose Valverde looks like he’s made the team and could step in to close when needed as well as Jeurys Familia who has had a spectacular spring. Scott Rice comes back as the LOOGY with Carlos Torres and John Lannan as long men/spot starters. This could be the year the Mets have a pen to believe in.

Jeremy Gibson of the Blue Jays blog 500 Level Fan asked me for my take on the NL East race this season by the way seems the Jays fans are still hurting from the trade last year.

 

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Petit, Kazmir and Izzy for Pitching Coach

Izzy For Pitching Mets Coach Ohhhhh this makes so much sense!!!

It has been a while since I thought about Yusmeiro Petit. Back in 2004 and 2005 Petit was moving at shooting star pace in the Mets minor league system, with great command of his pitches, none of which was a blazing fastball. In fact there were some “oooohhhs” let out by Mets fans when he was a piece in the deal that brought Carlos Delgado to the Mets from the Marlins but hey, you have to give up something to get something right?

As great as Petit’s numbers were with the Mets minor leagues, they never translated to the big leagues and Petit became a stumble bum of an arm.  So it was a shock when perusing Twitter last night I saw that Petit had a perfect game going through 7 innings.  I then saw that the game was the D’Backs vs. Giants and I thought that’s nice that the D’Backs brought him up from the minors, I had no idea the Petit was with the Giants. When did that happen?

What a heartbreaker for Petit to go 8.2 innings of perfect pitching to lose it to a 3-2 barely out of the reach of Hunter Pence single to right field.

Petit has banged around the big leagues and in Mexico, hell the Giants cut him twice to have room on the 40 man roster and each time he resigned just to stay in the organization and pitch in Fresno. It’s a shame that Petit didn’t get the perfect game as it would have been nice to have a perfect game on his imperfect resume.

While everyone is having flashbacks over Scott Kazmir’ Mets career and the reliving the Victor Zambrano trade that was made 9 years ago since Kazmir K’d 12 Mets last night, we seem to be missing the big picture, Zack Wheeler needs to be shut down for the season. Wheeler had major command issues last night and looked like he could not get comfortable on the mound. All are warning signs that Wheeler is an injury waiting to happen.  Does it really matter who starts in his place? Isn’t more important to shut him down and let him get ready for St. Lonesome in 2014? Can someone wake up Dan Warthen and have him protect his pitcher?

Speaking of Warthen, how about replacing him with Jason Isringhusen as Mets pitching coach? Izzy may be the most responsible for the emergence of Bobby Parnell as a top flight closer. Izzy worked with Parnell on mastering the knuckle curve and I’m sure he gave him the life lesson on how to be an effective closer. Izzy also would be a great guy to have on staff to advise the new generation of Mets pitchers on the trials and tribulations of what a young talented player will go through pitching in NYC.  He has also gone through the bumps and bruises of a big league career from being a starter and then converted to reliever to suffering injuries and a few arm surgeries as well. Izzy is just one season removed from being an active player so he knows how to relate to today’s pitchers.  I think Izzy taking the Mets pitching staff under his wing would a solid hire.

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Mike Pelfrey Knows Who Is Friends Are

It’s not a big deal that the Mets discussed giving Mike Pelfrey his release but what is interesting is who his big supporters are.

From the story in the Daily News today, the front office is not enamored with Pelf and threw out the suggestion at an organizational meeting that maybe the $5.6 mil used to pay Pelfrey would be better spent elsewhere.  It seems both Terry Collins and Dan Warthan spoke up in Pelf’s defense and from reading further into the story; Pelf’s teammates have his back as well. He sure paid back that support last night against the Astros with a stellar performance, again it was the Astros.

We all know that David Wright and Big Pelf have a great relationship but from reading R.A. Dickey’s book (I’m half way through and I must say this book is even better than I anticipated) he has taken on the big brother role to Pelfrey.

So the 25 man roster that will line up on the first base side of Citi Field on Thursday looks to be set not many surprises unless you think Mike Baxter getting the 25th spot a surprise.  The bench is still nothing to get excited about and who knows if this is set as the club could wait and see what veterans get cut who could be an upgrade over what the Mets have. Ronny Cedeno has the glove and Justin Turner has the bat it’s just too bad one of them isn’t a left handed hitter. As far as Baxter and Scott Hairston are concerned, I like Baxter and wished he got more playing time in September of last season and Hairston does have so pop in his bat but they are going to have to prove to the front office that they can contribute in a positive way.

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Don’t Rush Wright

 

So it looks like David Wright is still not….well….right.  Wright has yet to make an appearance in a exhibition game and although he has begun participating in team workouts he is nowhere near ready to start the season.

Why is it so important for Wright to be at 3rd base on opening day? Isn’t it more important that he gets himself healthy and in baseball shape? I believe it’s more of psychological to fans that they see Wright lined up on the 1st base line of Citi Field doffing his cap to the patrons than it is savvy baseball thinking. What could be so bad that Wright stays in extended spring training for a week to ten days and comes up ready to perform?

Fans get too amped up for opening day, sure we all love the festivities and the atmosphere that the first day of baseball brings but I’d rather have a dull opening day than a dismal Labor Day ?

I really feel bad for Jason Bay. He has worked his ass off all spring to get his game in gear but it’s just not happening. His head is so far gone Dr. Sydney Freidman couldn’t help him. Maybe Bay should take the good docs advice and “pull down his pants and slide on the ice”. I will bet anyone a whole one dollar bill that the Mets front office discusses everyday how to rid themselves of Bay.

I have no problem with Mike Baxter starting in centerfield on opening day or Matt Den Dekker for that matter as well. I do think Den Dekker needs more time in the bushes to get his offense on par with his defense but Sandy Alderson is so worried about this team’s awful defense that he would be willing to sacrifice offense in a key spot in centerfield for Den Dekker’s potential golden glove. This is all moot of course if Andres Torres sees a faith healer for his aching calf and is fit to fight for opening day, but I still like to see Baxter make the 25 man roster.

Mets are on SNY today at 1PM with Big Pelf pitching for his big league life. Get ya popcorn ready!

 

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WHAT, ME WORRY ?

A few quick hits:

Yesterday we were told not to worry about Lucas Duda’s balky back that he was rested yesterday to spare him a long bus ride and he will be good to go today when the team buses to Viera (90 min trip) to meet the Nats. Well, Duda wasn’t on that bus and will sit out again today.

David Wright we were told will take a day or two off with some discomfort in his rib cage, nothing serious just a precaution. Wright has yet to play this week.

Pedro Beato has some soreness in the rotator cuff but it’s nothing serious a little rest and he should be fine.

Scott Hairston still has not responded to treatment of his re-strained oblique muscle and it looks like he will not start the season on the 25 man roster making a tissue thin bench even thinner.

But don’t worry we’re told, it’s early in spring these are little nagging things that will work its way out. In the Brooklyn neighborhood I grew up in there was an old saying “Don’t worry is doing 15 years in Sing Sing”

This is why Mets fans hang and cringe on every pitch that Johan Santana throws as we know it’s just a matter of time before his arm falls off.

Can a team use the disabled list for players that have a psychological injury? I ask this because if you can, Jason Bay is a candidate for shutdown. Reading the stories on how Bay is placing his feet differently in the batter’s box and thinking so much about his approach at the plate to where he knows he needs to be more selective and lay off pitches off the plate it just seems his biggest problem is he’s thinking too much and not reacting at all at the plate. It seems he spends his at bats thinking about 1,001 ways to get a hit and while his head is filled with all this distraction, he’s become absent minded to reaction to pitches.  That Capt Kirk/Jason Bay platoon in left field looks better and better every day.

When did Omar Minaya become the GM of the NY Jets? So Eli Manning coming off a Super Bowl win, the second of his career and his second Super Bowl MVP award restructures his contract down instead of asking for a well-deserved raise so his team has money to sign players that will help the Giants add to their trophy case while the Jets extend the contract of Mark Sanchez whose leadership qualities are questioned in his own locker room. Stunning.

I’m not saying you can’t win a Super Bowl with Mark Sanchez, you can, but you have to have a plan and signing free agents with questionable character is not the way to do. Rex Ryan preached “ground and pound” but the Jets do not practice that mantra. It still amazes me how Mike Tannenbaum stays below the Jets fans radar, if I were a Jets fan I’d want him fired.

For all of us Mets fans who want the Skill Sets to sell the team, let’s be careful what we wish for.  If the Mets were up for sale, Jim Dolan and his Cablevision billions will be front and center with a bid. Now if I knew Dolan would treat the Mets like he does the Rangers, it wouldn’t be too bad but if he’s hands on like he is with the Knicks that would be an unmitigated disaster.

The Mets need another Nelson Doubleday to take over ownership of this team.  I found this article from the New York Observer from October 30th 2000, right after the Subway World Series, that details how Doubleday and Freddy Skill Sets had opposite views on how the direction of the team and of Shea Stadium.

In the beginning, Doubleday Publishing owned 95 percent of the team. Mr. Doubleday gained a reputation as a hands-off owner who let general manager Frank Cashen make all the baseball decisions. The strategy paid off in 1986, when a Mets team filled with young players cultivated by Mr. Cashen won the World Series

And when it came to Shea Stadium, Nelly D was in favor of renovation to save money and to preserve Shea:

Mr. Wilpon’s allies maintained that the stadium controversy was just a misunderstanding. Mr. Doubleday, they say, simply did not know the status of Mr. Wilpon’s negotiations. That may be true, but Mr. Doubleday apparently hasn’t changed his mind. “I’m not particularly interested in seeing a whole lot of taxpayer money going into a New York Mets fancy-dancy stadium,” Mr. Doubleday told The Observer while watching batting practice before Game 3 on Oct. 24. “We could [renovate Shea Stadium] over three years, section by section. This is a pretty nice place to play ball.”

I don’t know how much of Doubleday’s wanting to renovate Shea rather than build Citi was more his love of Shea or using that money to better the on field product or if it was just Nelly breaking Freddy’s balls. Either way I like Doubleday’s style.

Attention New York Rangers Fans: Keep Calm, Carry On Coach Torts will get this team to “Fuckin’ screw it on straight”

 

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EXIT STRATEGY

 

After bailing out my basement of water, and trying to find  a place to rent an industrial size fan (after four attempts I finally found one) I thought this would be a good time to check on our beloved Mets.

The Amazin’s have lost 5 in a row and 12 of the last 20 games as the wheels are falling of the Mets bandwagon. The last month has not been pretty. Jose Reyes making his second trip to the DL , Ike Davis waiting for clearance to have surgery that he probably should have had more than a month ago, a bullpen that is of expansion quality and a lineup that strikes fear in the hearts of teams in the Can-Am League but not the Majors. With all that, Terry Collins still has that carrot out in front of his players that they are playing for job security, all of them.

Gary Cohen and Ron Darling had an interesting conversation during the game (as did Howie Rose and Wanye  Hagin as Howie compared yesterday’s game as eating a turkey dinner and the Tryptophan kicking in and making you sleepy) about how many players on the current 25 man roster would you say will be with this team in 2012. Cohen and Darling named Wright, Niese, Duda and Dickey, everyone else is on notice.  Now that’s not counting Reyes, Ike or Johan but if you do that is just 7 players who could say they could be Mets next season and out of all 7, the only lock on that list is Niese.

Last off season was a getting to know period for the front office, this up coming off season there could be a lot of exit interviews.

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MANNY ACOSTA, COM’ON DOWN………….

You can never be too skinny, too rich or have too many arms in the bullpen:

METS SELECT THE CONTRACT OF RHP MANNY ACOSTA FROM BUFFALO

 

FLUSHING, N.Y., June 3, 2011 – The New York Mets today announced the team has selected the contract of righthanded pitcher Manny Acosta from Buffalo (AAA) of the International League.  Acosta will wear uniform #36 and will be available for tonight’s game vs. Atlanta.  After yesterday’s game, the Mets optioned lefthanded pitcher Mike O’Connor to Buffalo.  In order to make room on the 40-man roster, the Mets transferred righthanded pitcher Chris Young to the 60-Day Disabled List.

 

Acosta, 30, was 1-0 with four saves and a 1.77 ERA (four earned runs/20.1 innings) in 20 games with Buffalo this season.  He allowed 13 hits, issued 17 walks, recorded 27 strikeouts and held opponents to a .186 batting average against.  The righthander had allowed one run over his last 13 appearances (0.6384 ERA), spanning 14.1 innings.

 

Acosta went 3-2 with a 2.95 ERA (13 earned runs/39.2 innings) in 41 games for the Mets in 2010.  He allowed 30 hits, issued 18 walks and struck out 42 batters.  The 6-4, 213-pounder went 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA (four earned runs/26.0 innings) against National League East opponents last year.

 

O’Connor was 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA (two earned runs/6.2 innings) in nine appearances for New York this season.

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THE LAST HONEST MAN IN FLUSHING, ROBERT ALLEN DICKEY

Finally, someone has stepped up and given the NY Mets the kick in the ass they need, not the pats on the back they have been getting from Father Flanagan Terry Collins, what R.A. Dickey said last night should have come from the manager or from Sandy Alderson but leave it to Dickey to put it eloquently that his teammates suck and need to realize the level of suck they have attained and until the team comes to the grips that the way they have played is an embarrassment and the reason they have been so bad so far this season is that they suck:

“It starts with me,” said R. A. Dickey, who generally pitched well but gave up three runs in the second inning and the decisive home run to Hunter Pence in the eighth. “We have to find a way to be honest with ourselves about what kind of team we are. We can’t keep telling ourselves, ‘Oh, we’re a better team than this.’ We may not be.

 

“We’ve got to be honest about that and identify what we’re doing wrong and do it better.”

In other words, you are what your record says you are. When you have the worst record in baseball, then you are the worst team in baseball. The problem the last few years in Flushing , the delusion in the clubhouse has clashed with the stark reality that the talent on 25 man roster is just not very good.

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THE LAST TEMPTATION OF OLLIE

If reports are true, Ollie Perez is pitching for his Mets life this afternoon against the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Lonesome. Terry Collins is saying that this isn’t true that Ollie will pitch again after this start, but if he has a typical OP start, command issues, lack of zip on fastball, tons of walks then what’s the sense of giving him another start ? At some point you have to stop wasting your time with OP.

The Mets money woes may not be as dire as we think. The Skill Sets spent $15K on dirt. DIRT!!! But it seems like $15K spent wisely.

Ed Marcus posts up #6 in his all time Mets list. He was baseball’s Marlboro Man and one of my favorite Mets of all time and now he entertains us on TV. Just be careful if he asks you to help him move.

Adam Rubin posted his idea of what the Mets 25 man roster will look like on opening day. He has both Perez and Castillo off the team which is fine by me. He has Taylor Buchholz in the pen but notes that Jason Isringhausen is still in the mix and could grab Buchholz spot. Nick Evans is not on Rubin’s roster either and that is upsetting as Evans has worked hard to get back to the big league level but he’d have to beat out Chin-lung Hu or Willie Harris for a spot and I don’t see him beating either players out. There has to be a team that could use a good righty bat who can play both corner infield positions?

Dwight Gooden’s life just gets sadder and sadder. He has now agreed to become a sideshow act for Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab show on VH1. The show is like a junk yard for D list celeb’s that have their lives have swirled out of control. How in the world did Doc become a D-Lister? That is as crushing as his fight with drug and alcohol addiction.

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CHECK OUT ME AND KEREL COOPER ON THIS CALL TO THE BULLPEN PODCAST

I had the great pleasure of having Kerel Cooper of On The Black on THIS CALL TO THE BULLPEN podcast which is up and ready on the show page or right here on Kranepool (lower right side bar) or on iTunes. Among the topics Kerel and I discussed:

Ollie Perez and Luis Castillo will not make 25 man roster they are in camp as showcase (boobie) prize.

The Skill Sets showing up at spring camp

outlook for season

tone of Camp Collins so far

TMI coming out of St. Lonesome.

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Tickets

The Mets are looking great this year and The Eddie Kranepool Society keeps you up to date on the good bad and the ugly. If you are looking for Mets Tickets, you must visit Coast To Coast Tickets for all your ticket needs. CTC carries MLB Tickets as well as some of the best priced Concert Tickets on the web and don't forget they also carry Yankees Tickets.

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