AUTHOR, JANE LEAVY WILL BE APPEARING IN VERO BEACH NEXT WEEK

If you are headed down to spring training next week,you may want to head over to Vero Beach, where Jane Leavy will be appearing at the Vero Beach Book Center on March 20th at 1PM and at the Blake Museum in Stuart at 3PM.

Jane will be signing autographs of her books The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America Childhood and Sandy Koufax:A Lefty’s Legacy” and conducting a Q & A session.

 

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METS HAVE A SPRING IN THEIR STEP, BUT WILL IT BE THERE IN JULY?

Today pitchers and catchers will report to St. Lonseome and by Wednesday the Mets position players will start arriving as well and training camp 2012 will get under way. So what am I looking for this spring from our beloved Mets? I’m glad you asked:

Ownership

Please Freddy, Uncle Saul and Jeffey I’m begging you guys, please stay away from camp. Can we please take the focus off your upcoming court case and your financial problems and let this camp be about baseball, baseball and more baseball. Can you give your manager, coaches and players a chance to get ready for this season and to prove the naysayers wrong about how non-competitive this club will be? Your team is in good hands with Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson and their staffs, so stay up here in New York and work with your attorneys to get your game plan ready for the March 19th trail. I’m sure Sandy Koufax will understand.

Manager

Got to love the work ethic of Terry Collins and the transformation he has made as a big league manager. Collins has been in camp with Johan Santana, working with the Ace and forming a bond with him like he did with Carlos Beltran.  Just as TC earned the trust and respect of Beltran, he is working towards having the same relationship with Santana. There is more to managing a team than knowing when to double switch and Collins has realized that and has  proven he is the right man to manage the Mets.

Ike Davis asked the question last week, “why does everyone think  we’re going to suck” and this is the rallying cry the manager needs to use to his and the teams advantage. When he addresses the team he should make it known that the majority of media and fans do think the Mets suck and the only ones who believe the team is any good, are the guys right he in this clubhouse. If each and every player on this team doesn’t have the back of their teammates, they’ll fail as no one else will stick up for them.   

With a year on the job, Collins knows who needs motivation and who is self-motivated and that’s a big plus. TC as well, has to push fundamentals this spring to the point that the players get angry. He needs to push the point that it’s not always the most talented team that wins but the most prepared team that is always right there. If the Mets continue with their poor execution on the field, it will be a long season.

Starting Pitching

The only starting pitcher I have any confidence in right now is R.A. Dickey. Everyone else has a ton of questions by their name. So many if’s with this group and the biggest problem is there isn’t much competition in camp for jobs in the rotation.  Sure Chris Schwinden or Miguel Batista could swipe the 5th spot from Dillon Gee or Matt Harvey could just blow everyone away this spring to force his way into the rotation but that’s a long shot.

As far as Santana is concerned try to put his starting the season on the big league roster out of your mind. Even if he pitches well this spring there a couple of things that will hasten his return early in the season, The cold weather is one, especially the dumb move by MLB to pay April games in the East at night, and the other is the limited innings/pitch count that Santana will be under. No way Santana, even if he shows he’s ready to come back, pitches more than 80-85 pitches or 5 innings, those pitching restriction will put a lot of pressure on the Mets bullpen early in the season and with the unknown of the rest of this staff besides Dickey, the Mets and Terry Collins can’t risk burning the bullpen by Memorial Day. Best case scenario is Santana stays in extended spring training and makes a few minor league starts for St. Lucie and makes back to the big leagues by end of May early June and that’s being real optimistic.    

As much as Mets fans are hanging on every Santana bullpen session the guys we really need to watch are Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese as it will be the performance of these two pitchers that will determine if this a season of surprise or of transition.  For Pelfrey if he can’t be effective it will get very ugly for him this season with the fan base and with the front office. As for Niese, it’s time to put the big boy baseball pants on a prove that he has the makeup, conditioning and ability to be a  solid major league pitcher. Niese doesn’t have to be an Ace but he has to show some stamina and guile to get to the 6th and 7th innings of starts.

Bullpen

It’s been revamped and the back end (Frank Francisco, Ramon Ramirez and Jon Rauch) is a huge improvement over last year’s relievers, but if Manny Acosta, Bobby Parnell or D.J. Carrasco (or someone playing the role of Carrasco) starts making frequent appearances, it will be a long season. The effectiveness of the Mets bullpen will depend on the Mets starting pitchers who again (I know I’m belaboring this point) have to step up.

Defense

Last season the Mets were one of the worst defensive teams in baseball, so for 2012 there is no place else to go but up hopefully. All the talk about David Wright has been about his regaining his offensive punch which missed the real story with Wright and that’s the steady decline of his defense. I know the defensive metrics are not the be all end all but according to Bill James Online and their defensive plus/minus rankings Wright has been an atrocious third baseman the last three seasons :

2009 -11

2010 -10

2011 -5

 

Not only has Wright cost the Mets runs at 3rd base but he has had trouble with balls hit to his right and his throws have been less than accurate to first base, again defensive metrics have their flaws but so does Wright at the hot corner.

The catching situation stinks as well. Josh Thole still has not mastered the art of catching especially blocking balls in the dirt and getting better footwork in attempting to throw out would be base stealers. Word is new bench coach Bob Geren will be working all spring with Thole on these aspects of catching. Mike Nickeas will be the Sunday (and presumably R.A. Dickeys personal backstop) catcher and should bat 9th in the order when he does play. Catching in the Mets organization is a disaster that Sandy Alderson is not only aware of put has tried hard to rectify, that was one of the reasons Jon Niese’ name was mentioned in trade talks this off season as the Mets were hoping a team with a solid young catching prospect (like the Blue Jays and their prize catching prospect Travis D’Arnaud) would take the bait

The middle infield will be securitized a lot this season as Ruben Tejada takes over the everyday shortstop job and Daniel Murphy will try again to master the second sack. Tejada should be stellar at short as he has very good baseball instincts and makes plays he should make. The question will be, as it seems to be every spring for the last three years, will Daniel Murphy play at least a respectable 2nd base. As long as he makes the routine play and is somewhat capable of turning the pivot at 2nd without getting maimed, his season will be a success.

Ike Davis is solid at 1st base, so no worries there.

The outfield should be markedly better with Andres Torres playing center field and a bit underrated Jason Bay in left. The question is will Lucas Duda play a serviceable right field.  I’m trying very hard not to over use the word serviceable when talking about the Mets defenders but that’s how bad this team’s defense is when serviceable play would be an upgrade at 3rd base, 2nd base, right field and catcher.

Breakout star of the spring

I would love to see Kirk Nieuwenhuis have such a fabulous spring that he forces management hand to bring him North.  Many scouting reports have Capt Kirk as a corner outfielder but I’m sure once or twice a week you could play him in centerfield. If Jason Bay continues to be awful against right handed pitching, the lefty swinging Nieuwenhuis would make a great platoon partner for Bay.

Of course the new BIG 3 of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jeurys Familia will be watched closely and who knows, if Harvey pitches lights out, he could take the 5th spot in the rotation from Dillion Gee but he’d have to be spectacular in order for the Mets to force the issue early in the season. Wheeler will not be in the big league camp by the way but over at the kids table for minor leaguers but as we’ve seen in years past sometimes the minor leaguers get a invite to join the big boys especially when there are spilt squad games so keep an eye out for that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“HEY JEFF, WE NEED A 4 DOZEN WRIGHT 5 T-SHIRTS ON THE FLOOR ON THE DOUBLE”

I’m here today to praise the Skill Sets not burry them especially Freddy and Uncle Saul who I feel are the ones that have finally figured out that Little Jeffey needs a timeout and it’s time to let the smart guys run this franchise. Listen, Jeffey doesn’t need to be totally out of the picture, he can still do inventory at the Team Store, or help cut up the peppers and onions for the sausage concession as long as he is out of the baseball ops I’m a happy Mets fan.

With all this new found happiness with the new and improved front office will Mets fans be happy with whoever is chosen to be the Mets manager? It seems Wally Backman is the fans favorite but if all the reports are true, it looks like Terry Collins could be the leader in the clubhouse with his ties to DePo and Sandy Koufax but maybe Backman would be given the choice to be third base or bench coach? Same with Chip Hale.  What about Old School Werthen? Maybe a return of The Jacket? Stay tuned!

Rusty Staub has been named on the Hall of Fame ballot to be voted on by the Veterans Committee which has Ed Marcus leading the charge for enshrinement for Le Grand Orange.

I agree 100 % that as soon as the Justice League of Flushing finds a field manager, the next move is to boot Ray Ramirez and his staff and hire some real honest to goodness physical trainers.  Now that Omar (Rub A Little Dirt On It ) Minaya is gone and that scoundrel Charlie (Blackie) Samuels has been shunned, how is that Ramirez and his voodoo gets to stay?  

The ESPN team of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan are no more. I never had a problem with Miller although he is much better as a radio announcer than a TV head and Morgan I won’t disparage as he is one of the best baseball players I ever saw (not so good at analyzing on TV though) ESPN has a chance to put two guys that employed by the WWL that would be a must listen for any baseball fan, put John “Boog” Sciambi and Bobby Valentine together in the Sunday Night Booth. That would be downright entertaining.

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METS MISSIVES

 

  2 days until pitchers and catchers

Ed Ryan over at Mets Fever has a great write up on Shawn Riggans, the catcher cut loose by the Tampa Bay Rays and picked up by the Mets as part of the parade of back up catchers. After reading Ryan’s piece, if Riggans is healthy he could make a run at one of the catcher roster spots on the Mets.

JOSE,

 JOSE-JOSE-JOSE,

 JOSE,

 JOSE 

“Once again, Daniel Murphy was the first player to arrive. This kid won’t lose the job because he was lazy.”

And my Murphy man-crush continues to blossom.

Adam Rubin can write it and Omar Minaya can say it but it would be a major upset for Mike Jacobs to beat on Murph for the first base job. Why the Mets keeping fucking with Murph is puzzling. He has been working out in Florida all winter; he’s the first guy at the workouts and the last to leave. He is doing everything plus more to become a strong first baseman and a better hitter. I have no beef with Mike Jacobs but I just don’t see where he is a fit here. Jacobs reeks of DH.

Dave Singer at NY Sports Dog has the complete TV/Radio Mets Spring Training Schedule posted.  First game Tuesday March 2 will be on SNY.

D-Wright has been in camp since late January, and it seems his mind set is to pull the ball more in 2010. The biggest plus for Wright this year will be the protection in the lineup he’ll get from Jason Bay. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Sandy Koufax is in the house!

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DOC TAGS $ITI FIELD

It’s not that Dwight Gooden wrote on the wall of the Ebbets Field Club with a Sharpie that pissed off the Skill Sets, it’s that he wrote on the spot reserved for Sandy Koufax that irked them

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GET YOUR HAT AND COAT IT’S OPENING DAY!!!!!!

 

 

 

I’m still trying to figure how the Gary Sheffield signing is this catastrophic moment in Mets history? Sheffield is not coming in here and bogarting a spot in the line up he has to earn it and the one guy who is impacted by Sheffield being here is Ryan Church  not Dan Murphy (we covered this already I know)  No one shakes their head at the Mets moves more than me but I can’t even fathom Omar Minaya promising anything to Sheffield other than an opportunity to show he can still play. If he can’t then he’s gone, it’s that simple.

 

A major tip of the Mets Cap to The Mets Police, for this link to this story on Jerry Koosman and how the Mets started the five man pitching rotation under Rube Walker. The wildest thing about seeing this story about Koos was I was thinking of Koosman last night last night I was watching MLBN and there were previewing the SF Giants and how the Giants are one of the team in baseball that does not forget it’s former players or it’s franchises history. They put up a graphic that showed Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda and Felipe Alou as former Giants who still work for the organization and who are around the current Giants all through spring training and at times during the season. This has been one of my major gripes with Mets management. Even though it’s nice that Sandy Koufax comes to St. Lonesome every spring to talk to the pitchers it would be even better if Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman were there as spring instructors. Same thing with guys like Jerry Grote, Rusty Stub, and Felix Milan. Management is starting to embrace the old Mets some by of course having them in the TV booth (why isn’t there an analyst in the radio booth? Let Howie do the play by play and have John Franco do color commentary? I’m sorry Wayne Hagin does nothing for me. Besides he talks funny) My hope for opening day at $ti Field is that the pre game festivities would include as many former Mets the team could find and have them walk on to the field from the outfield gates and greet the current team.

 

As far as prediction for the season go let me do it this way:

 

The NL East will be a four team race to start with the Nats looking up at the pack but they will be pains in the ass’s all season. I’m as concerned with the Braves as I am with the Phillies in fact I hope the Phucking Phillis keep up this “look at us we’re beautiful” bullshit celebration of winning the World Series going. Better put the party hats away assholes.

 

The NL Central is the Cubs, Cards, Brewers and maybe the Reds. The Astros and Pirates are there to get fat on.

 

The consensus in the NL West is that the Dodger and D’Backs will fight it out but DO NOT OVERLOOK THE SF GIANTS. Every year I try to find a team I like to follow as I feel they’re taken for granted and the Giants are that team for me this year

 

What makes the AL East so much fun is the Highlanders could win 90 games and not make the post season and yes that’s what I’m rooting for. I still can’t understand why the Tampa Rays get no respect THEY’RE NOT GOING AWAY FOLKS!!!!!! Add in the Old Town Team and this is the best division in baseball. Sorry Jays and O’s fans

 

The AL Central is the most competitive division in baseball and any one of the teams here can win the division title, yes even the Royals and Tigers.

 

The weakest division in the game is the AL West only the Mariners are on the outside looking in as far as a division crown goes.

 

Mets Grrl is in Cincy for opening day and has pics and stories from the town that takes opening day seriously  

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WELCOME TO GROUNDHOG DAY

The tedious Mets off season keeps crawling along as Ollie Perez and Scott Boras are holding out for federal bailout money and the Mets are offering Jeffy’s nickel deposit money and we Mets fans sit here wondering why we even give a shit about this organization.

Time for Omar and Co. to put a competitive deal on the table for OP with a deadline. Omar be a man and tell Boras shit or get off the pot with OP this ain’t Sandy Koufax we’re courting here.

At this point maybe bringing in any two Randy Wolf, John Garland, Ben Sheets or Freddie Garcia is as good if not better than paying a Kings ransom for OP or maybe I’m just a frustrated Mets fan that is freezing his ass off in 6 degree weather wishing it was April allready.

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THREE STRIKES AND I’M OUT

STRIKE 1-Chase Utley and Pedro Feliz are going under the knife. Utley with an injured hip and Feliz with  back trouble. Jimmy Rollins would have been on that list but I coudn’t catch him.

Strike 2-The Bronx Robber Barron has turned over the keys to his South Bronx Castle to his baby boy Hal (Michale) which means that Hank (Fredo) will run a casino instead. Shout out to Hank, if Hal wants to take you fishing, run for the hills.

Strike 3-Rob Neyer makes note that Mike Musisna and Sandy Koufax have something in common, both winning 20 games and then retiring. Let this be the last time Mike Mussina and Sandy Koufax are mentioned in the same sentence.

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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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