Last Night The Mets Were Fugly

There are loses, bad loses and I can’t believe it loses which is where I’d file last night’s stunner. To have a 4-0 lead handed to our Ace against a team that has scored the least runs in all of baseball and to do it with a Buffalo flavored lineup, it looked like this would be one the best wins of the season, but then in the 7th with one on, Santana served up an 87 mph meatball fastball to the Pirates version of Mike Nickeas, Mike McKendry, that was deposited over the left center field wall to tie the game at 4-4.

Santana seemed to labor from the 4th inning on as he lost command of his fastball and it seemed ironic that Santana who has had a tough time recording a win when he was out pitching the opposition would be in position to get a win in game where he was ordinary at best.

The Mets had a good shot at taking the lead back in the 8th as Kirk Nieuwenhuis got a pinch hit single to lead off the 8th and made it 3rd on a Ronny Cedeno ground out and a wild pitch, runner on 3rd 1 out all the Mets need is a fly ball but up steps Mike Nickeas who of course strikes out. I wish Terry Collins would give Rob Johnson the bulk of the playing time while Josh Thole recuperates. Nickeas just cannot hit and his defensive prowess quite frankly is overrated.  I’m guessing that Johnson‘sore thumb is still a problem and the reason he’s not behind the plate every day.  After Nickeas failed to get Nieuwenhuis home, it was left to Andres Torres and his icicle of a baseball bat to get the job done and of course he failed as well with his shitty little ground out 4 to 3.

When Nickeas, Torres and Ike Davis are in the same lineup they are 3 automatic outs add in the pitchers spot that 4 outs so multiply that by say 4 times through the order, that  16 of the 27 outs you get in a game that you are giving away. Nickeas shouldn’t start another game, Torres is ready to be regulated to 4th outfield status and Ike it seems is a DL activation away from becoming a Buffalo Bison. When Vinny Rottino gets the nod over you, lefty or no lefty, it’s safe to say you’ll be headed upstate soon.

Now if the top of the 8th didn’t piss you off enough, the Mike Baxter-Kirk Nieuwenhuis mix up of Neil Walker fly ball sure had to. Simple “Fundies” right there, it’s the centerfielder is king of the outfield and to their credit both Baxter and Kirk took responsibility for the screw up for what became the winning run on 3rd base. As bad an offensive team as the Bucs are, they at least were able to get the runner on 3rd home with less than 2 outs.

 

 

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Gee, The Mets Go For The Sweep

I’m sure many Mets fans bailed out of this game after the 2nd inning, down 4-0 with Miguel Batista on the mound in Filthadelphia really doesn’t make Mets fans very optimistic but maybe this team and the manager are telling the truth that they don’t listen to the negativity from the media and some in the fan base and they really don’t give a shit what the naysayers think of them.

Last night Batista started off shaky but after the 2nd inning, he settled down to give the team a very good 3.1 innings until he ran out of gas. Manny Acosta took over and came up huge getting out of a 2nd and 3rd 1 out jam with a ground out by Joe Blanton and punching out J-Roll to keep the score deficient to 3 runs.

I love when a player steps up when all eyes are on them to make decisions by the front office difficult. Andres Torres came back to the team when his understudy Kirk Nieuwenhuis broke out as a major contributor to the team.  Torres has stepped in and produced both at bat and in the field and now the Mets will have a major decision to make when Jason Bay comes back. There is no place for Bay on this team right now and if Bay is force fed into the lineup while this outfield is as productive as it is, the front office will take a huge credibility hit with the fan base.  While Bay’s ribs are healing hopefully Sandy Alderson is exhausting all options to deal Bay. Any type of removal from the team of Bay is going to coast money so if the Skill Sets want to prove to the fan base that they are back in the game they will authorize Alderson to move Bay by any means necessary.

The word on Josh Thole is not very encouraging. It seems Thole has been concussed before so it looks like a stay on the 15 day DL is more realistic than the short stay 7 day concussion DL. This will be a huge problem for the Mets in two areas. Between Mike Nickeas and Rob Johnson, the Mets just took a major downgrade in the catching department. Nickeas can’t hit but he’s superior to Johnson behind the plate and quite frankly Johnson is only in the big leagues because of the dearth of catching talent in baseball. One thing is for sure, Johnson will not be behind the plate with The Dickster is on the mound as Johnson has a problem catching conventional pitches he’d need a tuna net to catch the knuckle ball.

The other obvious problem is replacing Thole’ bat.  With Ruben Tejada on the DL, the bottom third of the Mets batting order could become a Black Hole. The Mets have to hope that Valdespin can hit at least .250 and get on base at least MLB average of .315 because what can you expect from Nickeas at the plate a .220 BA ?  When Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey start it would not be crazy to bat them 8 and Nickeas 9th.

While your sitting at your computer at lunch time checkout Greg Prince’s writeup of the Mets 50th Anniversary Conference at Hofstra University. You can thank me later.

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SCOTT HAIRSTON MUCH BETTER VALUE SIGNING OVER CODY ROSS

With the word that Cody Ross has signed with the Boston Red Sox with the Mets in contention for his services, the question of the day is whom would you rather  have as your 4th outfielder, Cody Ross or Scott Hairston?

Ross put a .240/.325/.405/.730 line last season with the Giants in 461 plate appearances. Hairston, stepped into the batter’s box, a sporadic 145 times to fill a line of .235/.303/.470/.773. while Ross banged out 14 home runs last season Hairston put seven baseballs over the outfield walls in his limited action. When you look at FB/HR rate Hairston’s beats out Ross 13.0% to 9.3 %.

Ross hits lefties very well especially for power with a .912 lifetime OPS to Hairston’ .813 OPS which is impressive as well making it even more a head scratcher on why Terry Collins didn’t use Hairston more before a rib injury at the end of August ended his season.

I would bet that Hairston re-signed with the Mets with the promise of more playing time, especially in CF against RHP unless Andres Torres can repeat his 2010 season. But between CF and spelling Lucas Duda in RF and staying healthy, Hairston could be a very productive 4th outfielder for the Mets.

Cody Ross would have been a nice choice as well for the Mets but with the Red Sox offer of $3mil plus incentives the Mets will get as much value from Hairston as they would from Ross and Hairston only cost $1.1 mil. No way Cody Ross is worth $2mil+ more than Jerry Hairston.

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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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PAGAN BE GONE

 

If Angel Pagan is the Mets opening day center fielder I’m going to be pissed off.  A lot of my angst over Pagan has to do with his inconsistent play especially in the outfield and some of it has to do with what is perceived as a “me” attitude that looks as if it chaps the mangers ass as well. Terry Collins was miffed when Pagan took himself out of a game last year claiming he had a stomach virus and was dehydrated but never told the manger he was headed to the porcelain palace in the clubhouse as his turn to bat was up. Pagan also bitched and moaned about batting leadoff when Jose Reyes was out with his blown up hammy, solidifying his rep as a selfish player

Mike Silva wrote a piece on how Pagan may be the best of what’s out there as far as centerfielders go, but why do the Mets always have to settle?  If it’s going to cost at least $5mil to sign Pagan why not go a couple of million more and sign David DeJesus?

DeJesus would be a upgrade over Pagan in the outfield for sure and  an upgrade in the lineup as well as DeJesus has a better ability to get on base than that of Pagan.

Sandy Alderson has targeted the pitching staff, zeroing in on the bullpen, as job one this off season but he also needs to address the defense which was one of the worst in baseball last year.  The up the middle D was especially poor (Jose Reyes by the way was -11 in Runs Saved ) so if the organization can’t afford to go all out to get some decent arms then maybe an upgrade on the defensive side would help the arms the Mets have now?

I think this post by Shannon at  Mets Police says it all about being a Mets fan.

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HEADIN’ TO CITI

I’m looking forward to getting out to Citi Field this evening to watch R.A Dickey battle Aaron Harang and the Pads as it’s been awhile since I’ve been out there. Between work, vacations and baseball coaching obligations (our season ended by the way with my team losing in the Championship Series 2 games to 1, we finished in 1st place but giving up 4 and 5 out innings in the final round killed us) and the team on a long road trip, a trip to Flushing has been long overdue, I’m pumped up to get  out there tonight.

Seems the MSM is as usual a little late in picking up the fact that Mets fans really like this team. Better late than never I guess. One quote in this piece by Larry Brooks in the Post today made me smile when I read it, it comes from Ginger Turner:

“I don’t know why anyone would have thought our team would throw in the towel or give up,” Justin Turner told The Post. “That’s kind of a slap in the face to the guys who are here.

“Players get traded and players get hurt. That’s part of baseball. We’ve got 25 guys in here busting their butts to try to win games and who believe in ourselves and our team.”

Can’t you tell that Turner is new around here? Maybe it because the last two season the team has laid down and played dead but thankfully those days are gone. Did you see Terry Collins jumping up and down in the dugout the other night after Lucas Duda’ game winning single? That is passion.

Good news on Johan Santana as it “only” fatigue in the shoulder not anything structural that’s derailed is rehab from shoulder surgery.

Great story in the Times today (guess they had to make up for Jim Luttrells’ hack piece the other day) on Mike Baxter who will get a start in the outfield today. I love the part about Baxter organizing the purchase of championships rings for his Archbishop Molloy team and that legendary coach, Tom Curran still wears his every day. That is impressive.

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MR. ALDERSON, FRANK WREN ON THE LINE FOR YOU

After last night’s debacle in Atlanta, one piece of news that hasn’t been played up is the injury to Brian McCann.  McCann has been placed on the DL with the dreaded oblique strain that could take up to three weeks to heal. Not only is McCann the best bat in the Braves lineup, he also plays the premium position of catcher.

I’m sure Braves GM Frank Wren was up all night trying to figure out how to add a bat and as we all know the Mets are sitting on the best bat in all the baseball land that is for sale in Carlos Beltran.

Sandy Alderson is showing amazing patience in consummating the obvious, making Beltran an ex-Met, so with the injury to McCann, his methodical ways just might pay off .

My first thought was to add Ronny Paulino in a deal with the Braves to see if that would force Wren’s hand to add a top pitching prospect but looking things over, Paulino would be no use to the Braves once McCann gets back plus it would weaken the Mets at a spot where they lack both depth and talent.

It seems the Braves could use some outfield help so would adding Angel Pagan in a deal be enough of a sweetener to land a top prospect plus a B and C farm hand as well?

Alderson is really holding his cards close to the vest and it looks as if he will hold out at the last possible minute before he deals Beltran but with the appearance of Jeffey Skill Sets in Cincinnati, you could draw the conclusion that Alderson has alerted ownership that a deal is imminent, unless Jeffey took it upon himself to visit the Queens City as he had a craving for Skyline Chili.

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GREATEST…………….GAME………..EEEVVVEEERRR….

 Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times has another great post today as he goes in depth on the Mets-Reds game that was played 25 years ago today. This game is famous for the Davey Johnson use of Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell shuttle from pitcher’s mound to the outfield and for one of the best baseball fights ever when Ray Knight knocked out Eric Davis for sliding into him at 3rd base.

I don’t know if this game has been available to SNY for its Mets Classics but if not, they need to pay whatever amount need be to obtain it even if it’s the Cincinnati feed because this was one of the best games ever!

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ALDERSON AND METS HOLDING ALL THE CARDS WHEN IT COMES TO CARLOS BELTRAN

I’ve been trying to decipher the Carlos Beltran summit with Sandy Alderson and what I gather from this sit down, Alderson has let Beltran know that unlike his predecessor, he’s an upfront kind of guy so this meeting is to explain to Beltran what his options are.

With Beltran still sporting a brace on his knee and one year left on his contract (and Mets career) Alderson has laid out a few scenarios for Beltran for the upcoming season  (the man always has a plan) and it’s up to Carlos to choose which path he’d like to go.

The best plan for the Mets would be Beltran moves to right field allowing Angel Pagan to go back to centerfield where he excelled during Beltran’ absence.  You get the better fielder in the most important outfield position, who get a potent bat in your offence and it helps the wear and tear on Beltran’ arthritic knee.

If Beltran balks at that plan, then Alderson it seems has requested that Beltran waive his no trade clause and the Mets will try to move him, but only to the Mets advantage. Now the problem will be if Beltran is adamant about playing centerfield but it seems that’s a remote possibility due to the fact the Mets are in control here.

No matter what happens we know this is Beltran’ last season as a Met which is not a swipe at Beltran it’s just a fact that Carlos will turn 34 years old just after opening day and his knees will just get worse. It’s not personnel, its business.     

Moving Beltran and for that matter Jose Reyes would not be in the Mets best interest at this point as both players are worth more to the Mets than what they would bring back in return but in Beltran’ case it’s nice that Sandy Alderson has met with him and it shows that Alderson knows how to deal with players better than Omar but make no mistake Beltran was not given a choice, he’s the Mets right fielder in 2011.

As much having Wally Backman as manager of the Mets would be fine by me, I just find that the more hysterical Mets fans are getting about Backman and his “fiery, I’ll kick your ass attitude” I’m starting to wonder do they want a baseball manager or a bouncer.  It’s good for Backman that he’s getting a call back but I don’t think he will be the man to get the big job as Terry Collins looks to be the favorite and if it’s Collins I won’t scream as I’ve got to put my faith in this new front office that they have done their due diligence and hired who they feel is the best man available. I could see Backman getting a coaching spot on the big league club and quite frankly I think he’d be fine with that.

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EXCUSE ME JERRY, MAY I INTRODUCE YOU TO BOBBY PARNELL

It’s not the loss that has me pissed, it the way it happened that makes me wonder if under the stewardship on Mr. Jerry Manuel, this team can make the post season as the manager has absolutely no feel for in game managing.

First there was the lineup. With both Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan ailing, was it wise to give Jason Bay the day off? I’ve advocated giving Chris Carter some playing time but again the manager has to have a feel for knowing when to play guys and when to let them sit, you can’t keep Bay out the line up when your two offensive catalysts are sitting. Wouldn’t giving Bay a game off in Puerto Rico be more beneficial since he wouldn’t have to run on an artificial turf laded outfield?

Then we have this whole “I wanted to get Johan out on a positive note” line of bullshit? Santana pitched his best game in over a month and not just that he is still the Ace of the staff. Maybe it’s just a figurehead title but can you imagine Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, CC Sabathia or Cliff Lee coming out of a game like last night? I know Johan said he wanted to stay in the game but acquiesced to the managers move, maybe he should have demanded to stay in I bet those pitchers I mentioned would get into a fist fight with their skipper to finish a game like that.

The 9th inning was just a pure disaster as Manuel let Ryota Igarashi, a guy who walks as many batters as he strikes out, pitch in bases loaded spot one out and Ryan Zimmerman up. I can buy the notion of saving Frankie Rodriguez for the save spot as the Mets are the road team, but if you’re not going to use Bobby Parnell in that spot, then why is Parnell here?    

You could hear the disgust in Ron Darling’ voice as Igarashi fell behind 2-0 to Zimmerman by throwing tow breaking balls, when the situation called for challenging the hitter with fastballs. That’s why this situation cried out for Parnell to be brought in. If Zim hits a 98 mph fastball for a game winning hit, tip your hat and move on. I just wonder if Igarashi would have walked in the winning run, would that be grounds for the manager’s dismissal?

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