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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NY Mets News and Views

 

NEWS: Mets Still Dangling R.A. Dickey as Trade Bait

VIEW: Sandy Alderson knows his team is dire need of a front line catcher and at least one power hitting corner outfielder. Two get either prize possession will not be easy since he is working with a lack of trade chips and money, so what’s a GM to do? In Alderson’s case it seems he’s using Dickey as bait to lure in the sharks just to see how hungry they are. Reports from Nashville have the Mets talking to about eight teams about Dickey. Some are serious some are just bullshiters, the Red Sox and Blue Jays seem to be the most interested and have the most to give back in trade.

The Jays and Red Sox are flush with catchers, a position that Mets lack major league talent at (sorry Josh Thole) and outfield help again a deficient part of the Mets player personal roster.  Alderson is not going to give Dickey away and in fact he may not be giving Dickey away at all. Like I mentioned above, Dickey could be the bait to get the sharks out in the open to make his pitch for big time talent back in trade. I see where Alderson has asked the Red Sox for their two top prospects, shortstop Xander Bogaerts and center fielder Jackie Bradley. Bogaerts is shortstop that has power on offense and great range on defense. Bradley has great instincts in the field and covers a ton of ground in the outfield, gets on base by any means necessary and has (cover your eyes sabrmetricans) outstanding make up and is an on field leader.  Seems to me it would take more than a 38 year old knuckleballer to pry two gems like that, so maybe if Alderson switched the bait from Dickey to Jon Niese he could land these two trophy pieces?

Could this be the Mets GM plan? Lure teams with Dickey, ask for a major package in return, get rebuffed and then use Niese as the trade chip?    

 

NEWS: Angel Pagan Re-Ups with Giants for 4 Years $40 mil

VIEW: How Brian Sabean has two World Series rings is astonishing. I guess getting Shane Victorino to the Mets is now out of the question as his asking price has to be the same as Pagan’s if not more. FUCK!

NEWS: Jordany Valdespin Suspended For Insubordination From Winter League Team

VIEW: Enough is enough with Valde, he’s not talented enough to get away with acting like an asshole. I’m sure any deal that Mets make this off season Valdespin will be a throw in and if no other team wants him he’ll be assigned to Las Vegas or better yet given his release. If I know anything about how Alderson runs his team it’s he doesn’t put up with guys like Valdespin.

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BRAVO TERRY COLLINS AT LEAST SOMEONE HAS A EDGE TO HIM ON THE METS

I have to say I am more than a little surprised that some Mets fans have made Terry Collins the bad guy for being totally, and in my mind justifiably, pissed off over the rash of injuries that have hit the Mets this spring. Two of Collins “Must Do’s” on his list of things to work on this spring were improve the defense and work on baseball fundamentals, two of the biggest deficiency of the 2011 Mets. It’s very hard to do when the players you are counting on for the season are sitting in the trainer’s room.

I don’t understand why some folks feel that Collins tirade yesterday meant he wanted players to spit on the injury or rub some dirt on it, no it’s more frustration as to why are these players are suffering  pulled muscles and how does the training staff help prevent these nagging hurts.

Collins is a realist he knows his team is projected by many to be awful this season add in that the same people feel Citi Field will be a ghost town as well, so he knows it’s his job to get this team off to a fast start. That’s why he gets giddy talking about Johan Santana’s performance so far this spring.

Sitting Ruben Tejada yesterday was the right thing to do, but put yourself in the managers shoes. He makes out his lineup and is set to go but then he finds out his shortstop can’t go, what is he supposed to do laugh and make jokes like Jerry Manuel? You all detested Manuel for his clown act and now you’re all pissed that Collins is intense. Your all are sick of being the laughing stock of baseball but you don’t want the players challenged?

David Wright is starting to annoy me as well, not because he’s hurt but he’s supposed to be the leader here but when he makes statements like this I shake my head a bit:

As for the frustration Terry Collins expressed the previous day about the litany of Mets injuries, Wright said: “It’s OK to be frustrated. But at the end of the day it’s spring training. You have to err on the side of caution. We spoke to Terry about it. Terry will be the first one to tell you that if you feel something, come right in. It’s frustrating, obviously, because you want all of your guys out there. But if you look around the league, every team is going to be banged up and every team is going to be more cautious than trying to push guys out there in spring training.

 

“I think sometimes a guy gets a day off or two and things get a little overblown. Spring training, it’s not about trying to go out there and push yourself. We’ll do that during the season. We’ll go out there and play banged up. Everybody has done it. But spring training you have to be a little more smart about it.”

First I don’t care what other teams are doing I care about that the Mets season not being done by Memorial Day. I care that this team is nowhere near good enough to flip a switch on April 4th and play good baseball. The margin of error for this team is slimmer than the Olsen Twins standing sideways.

The injury to Wright has me worried because what happens if the injection he received doesn’t work, what if this becomes chronic like Ryan Zimmerman last season and he misses more than a month or two? What is Plan B if Wright can’t make opening day?

Wright seems to think he can just go over to the minor league camp to make up missing at bats which is fine but as much as his offensive game has slipped the last two seasons his play at 3rd base has deteriorated even more and I worry about that part of Wrights game than his offense.

When you’ve been as bad as the Mets have been the last few years and with all the negative off the field bullshit that surrounds the team, I would hope the so called face of the franchise would have more of an edge to him.

 

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NOT ONLY DID THE MARLINS TAKE JOSE REYES’ DREDS, THEY TOOK HIS DIGNITY AS WELL

Yes, that is Marlins President Davis Sampson checking out his new office at Marlins Park

Why would anyone be surprised to hear stupid shit whenever  Marlins President David Samson  opens his mouth?  In the Land of the Asshat, Samson is its Ten Gallon King. If I were a taxpayer/Marlins fans I’d be totally pissed off by Samson’s gloating over fleecing local bureaucrats to build his team a new ballpark to the point of laughing in their faces about re-locating the Marlins to San Antonio or Las Vegas like an extortionist.

Of all the stupid shit that Samson has said, his remarks about Jose Reyes were quite tame. Why Mets fans would be pissed that Reyes wanted as much money as he could get is puzzling. There was no way the Mets were going to match or better the Marlins offer, nor in my opinion should they have. I loved having Reyes on the Mets and enjoyed watching him play shortstop but he’s gone and I wish him well except when he plays the Mets. Our Mets fan lives go on.

Greg Prince reports that new Mets radio voice Josh Lewin sounds PRE-TTTTTTT-YYYYYY, PRE-TTTTTTT-YYYYYYY good and seems like he and Howie Rose will be a good mix like U-Bets Chocolate Syrup, a dash of milk and seltzer. I will take Greg to task on one thing, his omission of the straw that stirs the radio drink the Immortal Chris Majkowski  (MetsWFAN on your Twitter dial) in his post, gotta give Maj his props.

I would love to be sitting in the courtroom when jury selection gets under way in the Wilpon/Madoff trustees trial, just to see which potential juror goes off the rails when they are asked if they are Mets fans.

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HOW WILL THE METS HONOR JOSE REYES IN HIS FIRST GAME AS AN EX-MET ?

 

Last night watching the Celtics-Thunder game, midway into the game during a break in the action, the Celtics gave tribute to Thunder center Kendrick Perkins, who was a major player in the C’s Championship run back in 2008. Perk wasn’t just a major part of the C’s on court rotation, he was a huge fan favorite for his toughness, hustle and desire and it was Perkins first game in the Garden since he was traded. Perk was clearly touched as his teammates stayed on the bench while he stood at center court thanking the Celtics and fans for a very classy tribute.

It got me to think, what will the Mets do for Jose Reyes when he makes his first appearance as a former Met with the Marlins on April 24th.  They have to have some kind of Reyes career retrospective on the video board unlike the way they club never acknowledge the existence of Reyes during the video presentation at the new uniform unveilings a couple of months ago at Citi Field.

You have to figure, as Reyes comes up to lead off the game, there will be a raucous and long standing ovation so maybe when Reyes goes out to his shortstop position in the bottom of the first, before first pitch the Mets announce for everyone to turn their attention to video board for a tribute to Reyes.

You would think it’s a no brainer that the Mets honor Reyes some way but then again these are the Mets we’re talking about.

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LET’S DRINK TO JOSE REYES AT FOLEY’S NY

So what do you do with that REYES 7 you won’t be wearing to Citi Field anymore? Well, you can bring it to Foley’s NY and exchange it for a beer or an appetizer (or champagne if your happy he’s gone) Here is the info :

Foley’s NY Pub & Restaurant (18 W. 33rdSt.) offers New York Mets fans the opportunity to bid adios to former shortstop Jose Reyes, who has signed with the Miami Marlins.   The popular baseball bar will allow customers to exchange their Mets #7 Reyes jerseys for a free beer (to drown their sorrows), champagne (to celebrate his departure) or free appetizer (for fans who do not drink).

 

 “New York baseball is feeling a swirl of emotions as Jose Reyes heads south this winter,  We’re giving Mets fans a chance to drown their sorrows — or celebrate — and bid adios to Jose, one of the best and most popular Mets players ever,” said Shaun Clancy, owner of Foley’s, which features 2,500 autographed balls, bats and other baseball memorabilia.  “By doing this, we can have a little fun and donate to clothing drives for people who are less fortunate.”

 

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TEJEDA AND PITCHING IS THE METS WAY TO GO

Six pitchers to win a nine inning baseball game, welcome to the next re-invention of baseball, courtesy of The Genius.  The biggest impression I have of the post season is that we are now going from having a setup man and closer as your main relievers to having to have at least seven pitchers who can come out of your pen, game in game out.  Before the post season even started, Sandy Alderson made it known that rebuilding his bullpen would be job one.  

The story of Game one changes dramatically if Allen Craig does not come through with that huge pinch hit single to put the Cards ahead 3-2. The second guessers and LaRussa haters (I raise my hand) would have been out in full force. Just goes to show the difference between a genius and an asshole in baseball is a fair ball.

There was a terrific column by Adam Rubin on ESPNNY.com on how the readiness of Ruben Tejada could soften the blow of Jose Reyes leaving for greener (backs) pastures. Rubin quotes Mark Simon, ESPN’s numbers cruncher with stats that show me the Mets would be better off with Reyes leaving and Tejada taking over shortstop and using the money saved on pitching. Defensively you really don’t lose much with Tejeda (according to the metrics the Mets would gain with Tejeda at shortstop) it’s on offense where you lose the most.

“If you look at it from a WAR [wins above replacement] perspective, Reyes was a 6.2 last year via Fangraphs. Tejada was a 1.8,” Simon said. “The question would be: What is Tejada at his best … maybe a 3-WAR player? So there is a drop-off.”

You’d think that a healthy Ike Davis, David Wright (if he’s not dealt) with the fences of Citi Field lower and closers (and painted blue I hope),and a rejuvenated Jason Bay (a guy can dream can’t he) would make up for the offensive slack lost by the dearly departed Reyes   

I think this quote from an NL scout sums it up:

  Said one National League scout: “Tejada is ready to play every day. Save the money and go get some pitching. You’re not winning anything in 2012 anyway. Find out if the kid can do it. He really has improved with the bat and gotten physically stronger. He’s going to need a backup, though, in case he gets hurt or needs a day off”

As Mets fans, we need to root for three more Redbird wins in a row so we can get our off season started, the suspense is killing me.

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THE ALDERSON TAPES

I was so pissed that I missed hearing Sandy Alderson on the SNY telecast last night. But, thanks to Chris McShane at Amazin’ Avenue who transcribed the whole interview Alderson did with Gary Cohen and Ron Darling, I’m caught up with what the Mets GM is looking to accomplish going forward with the team. What has me puzzled is the Mets fan/blogger fixation on what Alderson said about changing the dimensions and height of the Cit Field outfield wall, from reading the McShane’s transcript of the conversation, that was the least interesting feature to me.

I’m not saying reducing the height of the Great Wall of Flushing or bringing in the right/center Mo Zone is not good thing, in fact I’m all for it but Alderson’s insights on player personnel and his approach to the off season was much more newsworthy.

To me more important than wall renovations is what is the GM’s plan of attack for re-signing Jose Reyes. It seems like Alderson has a preempted strike ready to fire as he has tabbed October as Jose Reyes Month. I get the vibe that he has an offer already to be presented a figure in years and money that he won’t go over. Alderson has made it known he will not get into a bidding war over Reyes. He has been nothing but complimentary of the shortstop as has Terry Collins, who is on record as saying he can’t fathom the Mets without Reyes or David Wright for that matter which I’m sure is the company line. I’m interested in this negotiation to see if Reyes takes a little less money or years to stay with the only organization he’s ever played for or does he move on and take the best deal out there. I still think that while Alderson will make a very good offer to Reyes, he won’t be heartbroken if another team comes in and blows the Mets deal out of the water. No question he wants Reyes back but he won’t break the Skill Sets fragile bank account to sign him.

One of Alderson’s concerns was rushing pitchers to the big leagues but also doing a balancing act getting some of the minor league arms a bit of a push to move them along. Under Omar MInaya’s regime the club loved drafting collage pitchers to where a team like St. Lucie is overstocked with 24 and 25 year olds which it sounds like is very frustrating to Alderson. When you’re that age and still pitching in A ball, you’re at the shit or get off the pot stage of your career.

Alderson sounds like a Mets fan when he talks about the bullpen and how blowing late game leads, a la Bobby Parnell, takes the heart out of everyone when it’s on an almost daily basis. Safe to say, Alderson has seen enough of Parnell closing to know he needs to put finding a closer on the top of his shopping list. Also clearly stated, he will go outside the organization to find one.  Looking at guys like Greg Holland of the Royals, Mike Adams of the Rangers, Rafael Betancourt of the Rockies and Sean Marshall of the Cubs there are some interesting options for Alderson out there.

Alderson is happy with the number of innings his starters have given him but now he wants them to improve the quality of those innings. I believe that Jon Niese and Dillon Gee will and of course R.A. Dickey will give a quality start just about every time out but we still have no idea what Johan Santana will give you on the mound next year and of course there is the elephant in the room known as Mike Pelfrey. From Alderson’s comment it seems that Pelf will be back next season but in what capacity?

What we have Mets fans is one busy and interesting winter coming up ahead of us and the brain trust of our team. Right now is the lull where the team plays out the string as October on will be the most interesting time for the Mets since before the All Star break.

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A TWEAK AND A TEAR EQUAL A BAD DAY AT CITI FIELD

 

Two injuries yesterday will bring two major decisions for Sandy Alderson this off season.  There are still 49 games left in the 2011 season, but the injuries to Jose Reyes and the season ender for Daniel Murphy will have Alderson and his staff busy trying to decide what to do with both players.

While we Mets fans have overdosed on Jose Reyes’ coming out season, we have seen twice now in the last month why a long term deal for the charismatic shortstop may be what the fans want but front office may have, with good reason point to the caveat of Reyes is Reyes, when he’s of sound mind and hammy. Right now, the hammy is not so fine and for each time it’s tweaked, Reyes’ bargaining position takes a hit. Before this small outbreak of hamstring aliments, it looked like a longshot that the Mets would go 7 years on a deal for Jose. Now, I doubt the Mets would go over a 5 year deal, nor should they.  If Reyes were to sign with the Mets for 5/$110 mil, I feel it would be a win for both sides, if there is a team out there willing to get into a bidding war where a contract of 6-7 years for $132-$154 million becomes the bid price, then I’m sure Alderson will step aside and wish Jose well. If that happens there will be a huge outcry from Mets fans against the organization and that anger will be short sided.

As for Daniel Murphy, My love and admiration of Murph has never been disguised at this site.  Given an everyday spot in the lineup has proven that Murph is not just a big league hitter but he is a batting crown contender. His work ethic is second to none and he never is insubordinate which believe me is a big deal to a manager, as he plays wherever the manager places him. Is he a complete player? No and his baseball instinct has been rightly questioned but the positives with Murphy greatly outweighs the negatives. He not only hit for average but he hits doubles and he is a very productive hitter with runners in scoring position (.364) and with RISP 2/out (.355). With all that, we may have seen the last of Daniel Murphy in a Mets uniform. 

The only reason I come to this conclusion is the only two position that fit Murph are 1st base and 3rd base, which are positions that are not open now or next year or the year after. I’ve heard some rumblings by Mets fans of having D-Wright move to LF next year and shift Jason Bay (if Alderson can’t pull a disappearing act on Bay this off season) to RF, and then you could place Murph at 3rd. That is a lot of player movement and I’m sure Wright will not be happy about being asked to move and I don’t see Bay as a RF’er.

Murph has proven he is an everyday player and he’s proven that if he plays 2nd base anymore he might  get killed, so with no corner to go to, Murph may be a valuable trade chip this winter. A solid hitter like Murph has American League written all over him. I’m sure the A’s, Rays, Tigers or White Sox would love to get their hands on a player like Murphy.  I’d hate to see it happen but there may be no choice, as much as Murph has a potent bat, the Mets just don’t have a place to put him when it comes to defense.

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WHEN JOSE COMES HOME, SO GOOD, HE’S THE PRIDE OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Take a bow Mets fans, you did it. You voted and voted until you couldn’t make up any more e mail address and got Jose Reyes the starting job at short stop in the All Star Game.

In years past I’d be totally pissed off after the Mets lost 2 of 3 to the Highlanders at home, but yesterday’s comeback win and the way it unfolded makes this years’ series  loss a little easier to take. This is not the same old Mets anymore.

Besides the fact that you can see this team actually hates to lose and I can write every clichés about toughness, the one thing that is clear is the reputation of the Mets being a bunch of losers has all been erased. Sure, they are not a championship team yet but they are creeping into “team we hate to play” status. Have you noticed there are no more “Replace-Met” stories or writing on and on about when the injured stars will be back? It sucks big time to lose 2 of 3 at home to the Highlanders but if the Bronx Bastards (along with the Phuck Phaces and the Sawx) are the gold standard of baseball, the Mets a close to silver status which is a pretty good jump from last year’s given up status.

The biggest fallacy written about Jose Reyes is that he is injury prone. In 2009 the organization was much to blame for his injuries as they tried to change his running style was bad but the inept strength and conditioning staff made it worse. Last season he missed the start of the season due to illness more than injury  but that doesn’t stop hacks like Joel Sherman to play up to the ignorance of his readership that Reyes is injury prone.   Here is the breakdown of games played by Reyes since 2005 which is when he took over as the everyday shortstop after the other great idea of converting him to 2nd base so the great bust of Tokyo Kaz Matsui could be the starting shortstop:

2005 161 g

2006 153 g

2007 160 g

2008 159 g

Even with the illness and injury from trying to come back to soon last season, Reyes played in 133 games. So far this year he’s played 80 games. He took off yesterday due to the tweak of his hammy (a grade 1 strain) and he may take the next few games off before the All-Star Game as well.

We do see that Sandy Alderson may be won over by Jose Reyes and from meeting him myself it’s hard not to be. Alderson seems ready to make a very competitive offer to Reyes (I think we can forget all the Don’t Trade Reyes angst he’s not getting dealt) as he sees the contribution Reyes makes on and off the field.

If this weekend becomes the turning point where the Mets gain respect throughout baseball for being a team to avoid and Sandy Alderson decides that Jose Reyes is worth fighting to keep, then losing 2 of 3 to the Highlanders ain’t to tough to take.

Last up certainly not least, I want to wish all of you a happy and safe 4th of July. I have a couple of more days here in the Pocono Mountains, surrounded by Phuckadelphians in there Phuck Phace shirts and jerseys. Makes me sick.

 

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