Will 2013 Be The Summer of Lucas Duda ?

 
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Lucas Duda is one very large enigma to Mets fans. We see a strapping young man who stands 6’4” 250+ lbs and wonder, when will it all come together for Duda, when will we see 30+ HR’s and 90+ RBI. Well at 27 years old if it doesn’t come this year it mostly likely will never happen for Duda.

27 years of age is a great age to be unless you are an unproven big league baseball player. It’s an age where you are hitting your playing prime, where if you are a quality baseball player, everything comes together, it all starts to click, you have a good read on the opposing pitching staffs, you have a good idea of your hitting zone, you know when to be aggressive and when to lay off the breaking balls you chased as a greenhorn. It’s when the game starts to slow down just a bit for you to manage it effectively.  This is the season for all of this to come to Lucas Duda at the plate, if it doesn’t the Mets are in for a long season and Duda could be one in a long line of young Mets outfielders to be discarded on the side of the road.

I’ve looked a few of the projections for Duda for the coming season and while there seems to be a bit of an uptick in his power numbers by some, is it enough t to keep him as a big league starter?:

PECOTA .251/.333/.430  15 HR 54 RBI

ZiPS  .248/.330/.418  18HR  74 RBI

Bill James  .268/.356/.454   18HR  69 RBI

 

James projects Duda with a better on base and slugging percentage and I kind of agree with that. Duda has improved his eye at the plate, swinging at fewer pitches outside the strike zone (30.1, 29.8 and 35.3 last season) and his base on balls rate has gone up each season as well. But it’s the power numbers that give me pause on Duda as his Isolated Power Average dropped from .189 in 2011 to a pedestrian .150 last season. Being that the Mets lineup is still in flux-I don’t think Terry Collins knows who will be his 1-2 in the lineup yet-where Duda bats will determine how many RBI opportunities he gets, I figure Duda to bat 6th so the opportunity to drive in runs will be there for him.

Hitting just 15-18 home runs will not be acceptable this season from Duda, the Mets have to see an increase to at least mid-twenty’s if the team is going to make any noise this season and again at 27 years old, it’s time for Lucas to bust out.

The dilemma is for Duda to stay in the lineup he has got to hit and be a run producer as his defense is, and there is no way to sugar coat it,dreadful. The Mets do not need Duda to be Barry Bonds-like in left field but he needs to be able to get a good initial jump on balls and just make the routine play. In Duda’s defense (no pun intended) he is a first baseman by trade who is still learning a new position, so I have to cut him some slack.

The intangible in the whole Lucas Duda equation is his mind set. When Duda first came up to the Mets, it took a while for him to become comfortable in the major league/NYC setting. Terry Collins has mentioned that Duda has to get a grasp of being a big leaguer and now as one of the young vets on this Mets team, he has to be a leader. That doesn’t mean he has to be vocal or a rah-rah type, which is not his nature but Duda has to step up this season and be a difference maker so the club and Mets fans don’t have to suffer through another disappointing season.

Let’s all hope that 2013 becomes The Summer of Duda.      

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Hey, How About Those Mets ? Who?

These two can knock the Mets right off the back pages and sports talk radio by next week

Well looks like Miguel Batista has thrown his last pitch as a Met out of the strike zone as he was DFA’d this morning and Elvin Ramirez has been asked back to audition for a role in the Mets bullpen. With Batista sent packing the Mets will need two starting pitchers for Wednesday’s matinee against the Nationals and then on Thursday in Phoenix. Word on 126th Street and Roosevelt Avenue is Jeremy Hefner will go against the Nats and Matt Harvey will be called up to face the Snakes the next night.

Seems the Mets need to do something if they want to stay relevant on the NY sports scene. With the Highlanders just about locking up the AL East and the Jets and Giants headed to training camp, the Mets are in danger of falling off the sports map here in NYC.

If you’re a sports editor for any of the fish wraps in town where do you see your space being better utilized on a Mets second half collapse or with the “Techez” QB controversy and Darrelle Revis will he or won’t he report to camp and his contract demands along with the defending Super Bowl champions getting set to make a run at another Lombardi Trophy? Hell, the Mets may have to fight with the Brooklyn Nets for some coverage as they have gone on an all-out public relations blitz to get folks to buy tickets at the Barclay Center; the Brooklyn brand goes a long way.

Here is your NY Mets lineup for today:

Ruben Tejada – SS

Jordany Valdespin – LF

David Wright – 3B

Ike Davis – 1B

Daniel Murphy – 2B

Lucas Duda – RF

Kirk Nieuwenhuis – CF

Josh Thole – C

Jonathon Niese – LHP

Terry Collins needs to play this line up 1-8 for the next two weeks straight and then let’s see where this team stands. I bet you would go no worse that 7-7 in the 14 games with this lineup

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If Not Matt Harvey, Then Who ?

Looks like the Sandy Alderson regime has come to face its first real crisis of its reign with what looks like the season ending shoulder surgery that Dillon Gee will undergo. I call this a crisis because Gee’s ailment came out of nowhere and starting pitcher was not on Alderson’s shopping list.
So what’s a GM to do? It seems the last thing the Mets want to do is promote Matt Harvey to the big leagues because they would love to see some more consistency out him and the fact that he has a tendency to leave his fastballs up in the strike zone and in the big leagues that’s a batting practice pitch. Emotionally Harvey is ready and quite frankly he’d fit right into this Mets team as he is young and confident and an ex-teammate of many of the young Mets and besides what are the other options?
Alderson is on record as saying he will not trade a top prospect at the deadline so to getting Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster is out as that would be cost prohibitive in terms of players. Do pitchers like Paul Malholm or Kevin Millwood excite you? Didn’t think so.
It’s great that the Mets want to try to solve this unexpected problem without disrupting the development of a top prospect but sometimes you have no choice. Miguel Batista is clearly not the answer and Jeremy Heftner is like a dounut spare tire, he’s good once in a while for an emergency start or two but more than that you run a great risk of serious damage.
I would love to hear the talk going on in meetings today the Mets brass will have in Atlanta before that start of the second half starts tomorrow night, just to hear who is pro-Harvey and who’s not.

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Bay-O, Bay-OOOOO, Bay Can’t Hit So He Might Have To Go

I watched none of yesterday’s game due to my son scheduling his Boy Scout Eagle project which had us painting hop-scotch boards, box ball courts and a huge map of the United States with each state in various colors, a very time consuming but rewarding chore and now all he needs to do is file his paper work and he will officially be an Eagle Scout. Yes my wife and I are bursting with pride.

From reading the stories on the game and watching the highlights it seems home plate ump Larry Vanover was implementing the ameba strike zone as there were 14 walks called, 10 by Mets pitchers and an out of character umpire argument by Jason Bay (leading to Terry Collins getting tossed)and speaking of Bay, I’m sure the front office staff of Sandy Alderson and Co. are trying to figure out what can be done with Bay. I did catch TC on with Francesa after the game, and Collins hinted that dropping Bay in the lineup is step one. Tomorrow night you could see Bay drop to 7th and Thole moved to 2 hole with Murph at 3, that is if Wright is still out of lineup which we should know more today on DW’s status. But back to Bay, I don’t care if the club was still flush with Madoff money, releasing Bay and handing him a check for $35 mil, would be a move of last resort. TC alluded that if the drop in batting order didn’t work for Bay, then a platoon with a lefty hitter was next. Now if the Skill Sets gave Alderson the green light in releasing Bay, it would have happened already as I think it’s safe to say the he is as worn out as you are at watching Bay in the batter’s box.  I have to think if Bay continues this downward spiral in the next month a major move will be made by the Alderson to remove Bay from the team.

Break from baseball tonight as the NY Rangers get their first round series underway against the Ottawa Senators. Rangers in 5

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RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY IT’S CHRIS SCHWINDEN’S PITCHING DAY

I hope it will stop raining today for a couple of reason, I’d like to harvest the robust crop that has blossomed in the rice paddy that used to be my back yard lawn and I want to see Chris Schwinden pitch in game 1 of today’s Mets-Braves double header.

Schwinden is another of these out of nowhere Mets stories that have been making the team interesting to watch. Schwinden, drafted in 2008, has never been considered a prospect by those who follow and report on the Mets minor leaguers. Even though Schwinden has been a pitcher who throws strikes and rarely walks a batter, although this season with the Bison, his walks are up more than they have in his three year Minor League career (3 per 9IP from 2 per 9IP) but his hits to innings pitched was less for the first time in his career.

Schwinden has been compared closely to Dillion Gee as both have a pretty good grasp on how to pitch by staying ahead in counts and moving their pitches to different areas of the strike zone. Neither has a real out pitch but again Schwinden like Gee, seems to have a good head on his shoulder and a game plan going into each start.

Again it’s a great move by the front office promoting Schwinden and rewarding his outstanding season in Buffalo with a major league start. Knock ‘en dead Chris!      

 

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NO BULL! BIG DECSIONS IN THE METS PEN

The Mets bullpen situation is such that Sandy Alderson and his staff are trying to do some creative bookkeeping to by some time.

The Mets have asked Jason Isringhausen to stay an extra week in St Lonesome so to make sure his elbow is sound. The biggest fear the team has is keeping Izzy and he craps out in May. They have asked Blaine Boyer to accept a minor league deal when Boyer figures if he’s released he’d get a major league deal in a heartbeat.  The two moves come with the realization that Many Acosta and his 90+ fastball will be snatched up on wavers as well.  For a team that everyone feel s is a MLB bottom feeder, it seems there is some talent worth scheming for.

I’d like to see Izzy staying an extra week just to prove he can pitch without pain. The Mets want him on this team badly and if it weren’t for the pop he heard in his elbow a week ago, all this maneuvering wouldn’t be happening. Izzy is on the record as saying he will not take a minor league deal it’s big leagues or retirement for him . Boyer is interesting as he has also has an out in his deal with the Mets and they love his 90+ fastball that he gets down in the strike zone that converts to tons of ground ball outs.

I’d let Acosta go and hope Boyer agrees to a Minor League deal, if he doesn’t the you have no choice but to let him go as well and take a chance on Izzy even though you know he could be done by June.

One thing I better not see is Bobby Parnell getting optioned to Buffalo that would be a Minaya-like move.

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I’M BACK, BACK IN THE NEW YORK GROVE

THIS IS A PICTURE FROM TEN MILE RIVER CAMP SITE AND THAT IS THE SAME TYPE OF TENT I SLEPT IN THAT LAST WEEK

It’s good to be back especially with the concrete beneath my feet. A week in the wilds of Sullivan County is fine but for the life of me, I don’t get why anyone would want to live up there, especially in the winter, it’s the classic nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live here. So with a good wiff of the stink of the NYC Subway and a 1970’s like NYC heat wave in full swing, it’s time to look at our favorite baseball. This could be a rocky ride so as always fasten your seat belts.

All jokes aside, MLB has to be embarrassed by the umpiring crew in yesterday’s Mets-Giants game. Phil Cuzi really embarrassed himself behind the plate with his ameba strike zone and his overall unprofessionalism. His calling out Travis Ishikawa was bad but the call on Aubrey Huff’ worm killer in front of the plate that was clearly a fair ball, but 3rd base ump Mike Easterbrook said it hit Huff’s foot. Not even close, and by the way, when did this trend of base umpires start overruling home plate umps on plays that are clearly the man behind the plates call? It’s an awful trend and Mike Port the man in charge of these inept arbiters needs to fix and fix it fast as MLB can not have another disaster of post season when it comes to its officials like it did last year.

As I stated in a Tweet last night, I am fully convinced that the role of “closer” is the most overrated position in all of sports. Unless you’re the Highlanders, paying a guy tens of millions dollars to pitch one inning is fucking ridiculous. The only difference right now between Frankie Rodriguez as a Met and Armando Benitez’ days of Metsdom is Rodriguez doesn’t run and hide after his hideous performance. As much as we scream and yell about the contracts of Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez, the Rodriguez deal is just as rancid. Frankie Rodz will make $11.5 mil in 2011 but the killer is in 2012 where Rodriguez has a $17.5 mil option ($3.5 mil buyout). The option kicks in if Rodriguez finishes 55 games in 2011 or 100 games combined in 2010 and 2011 or doctors declare him healthy in 2011. That’s $17.5 MILLION FUCKING DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For agita.

Did you ever think that the return of Luis Castillo from injury would be good news? Ruben Tejada is a nice player but he is showing he’s not ready for an everyday spot and Alex Cora shouldn’t even be in the big leagues but if he’s on the field once or twice a week tops is all he’s good for. Amazing, Castillo is now an upgrade in the lineup and in the field.

I want the Mets to win and make the playoffs but a part of me wants Oliver Perez to pick up right where he left off with the Mets so he can force the hand of Jeffey Skill Sets to finally prove to the fan base if the team is broke or not? If the team is not in monetary dire straits then when OP shits the bed, cut him and force him to go to the minors. You know and I know that Perez will still suck when he returns so why go on with this farce.

So much for Prevention and Recovery when it comes to injuries especially when Jose Reyes is concerened. Reyes will start tonight in Phoenix and I just hope he’s ready to play and this isn’t one of the Mets rush jobs we all are to familiar with.

Sure Jeff Francouer is a fabulous right fielder but instead of wondering how Jerry Manuel is going to get him at bats, it would be a better move would be to release him. I know all about the “chemistry” issues but how could you be a clear thinking Mets fan and not want Angel Pagan in the lineup everyday? The Mets can’t afford to carry Frenchy’s impotent bat as the team ranks in the bottom third of every offensive category in the National League. The only reason the team is still in shouting distance of the Braves is due to the pitching staff, but with the way this offense is stalled, Francouer’s right arm is a luxury the Mets can afford.  

It’s 11PM and I’m laying in a tent in the middle of the woods hoping that no bears or coyotes come into the camp site and rip me apart and I realize the Mets are in San Francisco. I pray my little bullshit AM/FM radio can pick up the 50, 000 watts of WFAN so I can listen to the game and keep my mind off of being becoming some savage animals midnight snack. I hit the on button and the game comes in loud and clear but there is a bit of a problem, No Howie Rose. There is Wayne Hagin and then I hear Ed (Grey Goose) Coleman but where the hell is Howie? I admit I don’t listen to many Mets games on the radio but when I do, I tolerate Hagin as I know Howie is right there for my listening pleasure. I don’t begrudge Rose of taking a bit of a vacation as he works Icelander games and folds right into Mets games but there needs to be a different voice in the booth when Howie’s not there. You can’t team up Hagin and Coleman together it doesn’t work. It’s not Sterling/Waldman bad as that is the worst tandem in the history of speaking but Hagin and Coleman are very close to unlistenable. Why can’t Kevin Burkhardt step in for Howie or Hagin when either is not available? I’m sure there is some SNY, WFAN mumbo-jumbo contract bullshit that forbids this from happening but some times the forces in charge need to think of the listener because if I’m switching off the radio then I’m not listening  to the endless ads on the broadcast and I’m sure the sponsors won’t want to here that.

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…….AND BEHIND THE PLATE TONIGHT, EARL HEBNER

Somewhere in the city of Detroit, Armando Galarraga is wondering, why couldn’t Jim Joyce been part of Dale Scott’s umpire crew?

So now the precedent has been set, any call can now be over turned. So if there is a close pick off play at any base, the team can now ask the umpires to caucus to get a consensus on whether the runner was safe or out. Same now with ban-bang plays at first base, or close plays at the plate or on the other bases.

Let’s get one thing straight, the ball never hit Scott Rolen, so for Crew Chief Dale Scott to proclaim, it was all about getting the play right, well they failed. If anything it should have been called a ball and the count on Rolen 3 and 2. Scott should also be ashamed as should home plate ump Jerry Meals for allowing second base umpire, Dan Iassogna to be the guy to change that call, since Iassogna was 120 ft away and Meals right on top of the point of inpact. Scott threw his home plate man under the bus and Meals by not telling Iassogna to shut the fuck up loses his credibility as well.

With all that, Big Pelf was not very good last night and the reversed call and having his strike zone squeezed tighter than a fly’s ass didn’t help him either. Pelf had no command of his pitches last night as he kept falling behind in the count and if there is one team you don’t want to be at 2-0, 2-1 it’s the Reds.  It’s good thing Pelf didn’t make the All-Star team as he needs the days off to regroup and not let’s this recent slide of his turn him back into 2009 Mike Pelfrey

Patrick Flood looks at the high wire act that is Frankie Rodriguez. The fact that Flood points out that Rodriguez has converted 83 % of his saves as Mets closer is the same rate that Armando Benitez had as a Met made my acid reflux flow like a BP oil rig.

Kevin Millar nearly missed doing the Mets-Nats game on Saturday as he was delayed getting out of Texas where he makes his home due to Hurricane Alex. As a precaution, FOX asked SNY for permission to hire Ron Darling for the day as the game analyst. SNY refused saying that Darling’s contract calls for him to only work outside SNY for TBS. SNY did the same thing to Kevin Burkhart when FOX ask permission to have Burkhart do play by play on a FOX Saturday game.  Is SNY paranoid? What were they afraid of by letting Darling or Burkhart do games for FOX? I guarantee no one is calling about grabbing Gary Apple or Kirk Gimenez. In fact the only SNY personalities with any personality are the guys doing Mets games, the rest of the day on SNY they’d be better off running infomercials. If you’re ever suffering from lack of sleep just turn on SNY Sportsnite no matter whom the anchor is they’ll lull you into a coma.

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QUE PASA JOHAN? YOU LOOK A LITTLE DIFERENT?

I guess we are so used to seeing an authoritarian pitcher in Johan Santana that when he’s not striking out guys at a 9K per game clip or watch that walk rate creep up last three years we ask “Have we seen that last of Dominant Johan”  when we should be asking “are we watching the re-invention of Johan”

Mike Silva has a great post on this today at NY Baseball Digest looking at the different scenarios that have made Santana less than the dominant pitcher we know and love.

I will say this for Santana, he has terrific focus and he is one of the smartest pitchers in baseball, if he has to compensate for a lack of velocity and the inability to over power a batter, I’m confident he can figure out a way to go after the hitters with a different strategy. We are seeing his Fly Ball rate dropping and his ground ball rate inching up so you could see Santana concentrate more in keeping the ball lower in the strike zone and pitching to contact.

We also have to understand that at the age of 31 most likely we have seen the best of Santana. That’s not to say he’s done or on the down side not in the  least, what we could be seeing is a solid pitcher but he may not be the can’t miss option he’s been for the majority of his career.

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LETS GO METS: ROAD FEVER/ I’M BACK ON THE ROAD AND I AIN’T GONNA STOP…..

So much for the talk of $iti Field being a detriment to the Mets winning. Talk about ‘there’s no place like home” Welcome to Citi Field Home of Citi Ball. It’s a little bit of small ball, a dash of long ball and three parts big balls pitching.

Not only did the Mets take two series from the Taliban (Highlanders) and Al-Qeda (Phuck Phaces) of MLB they did it with the one thing that all winning Mets teams have possessed, outstanding pitching and timely hitting. Now the challenge is to do it on the road as the Mets have an NBA team like split of 19-9 at 126th & Roosevelt Ave and an embarrassing 6-14 when the bags are packed, that has to change and change this on this road trip to show the league and Mets fans that this run of success is not a mirage.

It’s quite obvious that “as goes Jose Reyes, so goes the Mets” is not hyperbole, when it’s Jose Being Jose, hitting line drives in the gaps, running like his feet are on fire, making tremendous defensive plays, and reacting with all the animation of a Looney Tunes cartoon, the team and the fans feed off the Jose Reyes Experience and I for one am glad it’s back by popular demand.   

I could’ve done without Big Pelf doing his Dice K imitation last night with the five free passes but other than that, the continuation of the Summer of Pelf was a pleasure to watch.  Now that Big Pelf has incorporated the split-finger fastball with great success mixed in with his 90+ FB effective slider and a much better curveball and the big ingredient, maturation what we are seeing is the blossoming of a star pitcher that is quite impressive.

I like to compare Hisanori Takahashi to the late Bob Ross of the Joy of Painting, he makes pitching look so easy. Takahashi’s “happy little trees” is his fastball that he places on the inside strike zone and outside strike zone and maybe one here up in the strike zone or one here down and in. It’s like Takahashi has a baseball palette on the mound, just mix a little bit of fast ball with some slider to create at a cutter, just a little bit of slider on those bristles, oh that one is out of the strike zone ? Not a problem we can fix that it’s just a happy little accident. That’s Hisanori Takahashi pitching in his moment of Zen.

You know something, the way the Mets are treating Oliver Perez is better than just releasing him. The Mets have become Amish elders with Perez as he is shunned by management for not accepting assignment to Buffalo. Ollie has become a non-factor on this team, only to be used in blowout conditions. Here are the Mets scrambling for a starter for Saturday and the names being tossed around are Raul Valdes, or R.A. Dickey on three days rest or just let Fernando Nieve start as a resurrection of the spot starter, not one mention of letting Ollie P take the mound. I wonder if Perez is bright enough to be embarrassed about this?        

As long time readers here know, I am not a big fan of Mike Piazza. I acknowledge the he is arguably the best offensive catcher of all time and a first ballot Hall of Famer and I hope he goes in as a Met. But he always struck me as a me guy and a phony because in my opinion, he was more concerned about his personal stats than winning baseball games. However, when it comes to speculation that he was a steroid user all of those who come out and say that Piazza used PED’s , show your proof or shut the fuck up. Show the test results that separates fact from fiction and I’m looking square at you Murray Chass you old broken down fucking hack. I wish Piazza would sue you for defamation of character to expose you as the irresponsible dolt that you are. If you want to read Chass’ bullshit post, Google it, there will be no links to his site here ever!!!!!!

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