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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Will Terry Collins Get To Enjoy The Fruits of His Labor ?

 

I’m amused at some Mets beat writers who can’t comprehend the mind set of Terry Collins for having his players report before their mandatory arrival time. It says more about the writer who can’t grasp this reasoning behind it than it does about Collins being anal.

I arrive at my office every day at 7AM. My shift doesn’t start until 8AM so why do I get in early? First off I hate to be late and I have a low tolerance for people who are late. Once when I had to interview a young man for a spot in our unit, he was told to be at the office at 9AM. He strolled in at 9:45 with more excuses than a 5th grader who didn’t hand in his homework. I just looked at him and told him no need to waste your time or mine; you’re not getting the job”. He couldn’t believe it. When he returned to the main office and told my boss what happened he was told “ I should have warned you to be early, Keane hates lateness but I can’t say anything to him as he traveled from Staten Island to Queens every day for 12 years by ferry and subway and was always early” So you see, I get what Terry Collins is selling. If you love what you do or have a true passion for something (I get to Mets games before the gates open, so again I’m a bit extreme) you show it.

The optimistic part of this is the Mets players have bought into TCT-Terry Collins Time-especially Ruben Tejada.  We all remember Tejada and his visa troubles last spring and how TC wanted him in camp early so he could work with Daniel Murphy at their Keystone position. I said it then and I’ll say it now that Collins was 1,000 % right in the way he dealt with Tejada then and it seems the message has been received as Ruben has been an early participant this spring. In fact everyone is on TCT with the exception of Marlon Byrd and Jordany Valdespin who have legitimate reason for lateness in that they both participated in the Caribbean World Series with Byrd’s Mexico team winning the championship over Valdespin’s Dominican team and Jenry Mejia and Wilfredo Tovar who are late due to visa issues. So put one on the plus side for Collins, whose lame duck status is starting to have Mets fans and main streamers wondering about his future as the helmsman of the Mets.

The Mets are at a crossroads of the Alderson Era. With the proclamation from Freddy “Zimmo” Skill Sets that the club is solvent and ready to spend to contend, Mets fans are demanding that the team show its fit to fight.  Collins has presided over losing teams in his two years as Mets manager in fact his first year the team won 77 games and last year they declined to 74 wins with another second half collapse, so it stands to reason that Collins was not approached with a contract extension, even though there is only so much a manager can do if he doesn’t have the talent around him to put the team in position to win, no manager or coach survives three losing seasons.

Collins has to hope that Ike Davis claim that he’s ready to have a breakout season does just that and that Lucas Duda proves once and for all that he is not intimidated by the big leagues and that he is ready to bust out his offensive game as well. Collins needs the centerfield tag team of Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill to become a two headed offensive and defensive monster along with Mike Baxter and whoever wins the right to be his right-handed accomplice to provide some power and run production from that right corner. Collins can only hope that he mixes and matches correctly each game to the max out his liquidator outfield.

Another area that will be crucial to Collins managerial stay will be the bullpen. Last year as we all know the Mets bullpen was one of the worst pens in baseball and was the biggest reason for sucking the life out the team. For Collins to survive not only does this pen have become a strength (the bullpen can’t be any worse than last year) he has to get a better grip on how to utilize his relievers. Not just in articulating their assignments better but also the physical wear and tear they are subject to as well. Collins, Dan Warthen and Rickey Bones did a bad job last year in communicating with the relief staff . Pitchers would get up, warm up, sit down, warm up, sit down…..and on and on. Not only did this wear out much of the staff it also gave off a sense of panic and unpreparedness by Collins and Warthen.

Collins has been around the game a long time and he knows his job is only as secure as the teams wins and loses. It’s kind of a shame because the future of the Mets is bright with what looks to be a solid pitching staff on the horizon and (again I’ll believe it when I see it) new found cash flow to sign some free agent talent that odds are Collins will not be in the Mets dugout when all this comes to blossom. When it does he should get credit as he had to do a lot of the heavy lifting.

Terry Collins can hold his head high on this though, he has proven that he can manage a big league team so he does have some redemption from the failures he endured in Anaheim and Houston. I think he realizes that as well.

 

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JUST AN AWFUL DAY

After coming home from a long weekend I found out that one of the people killed in that crash in New Jersey played baseball for me for two seasons and competed against me in  Staten Island Little League for eight years.

Eric Colligan 15, was killed in the early morning of July 4th as he and his friends and his friends family were returning home from Atlantic City. Eric played baseball and football for McKee/SI Tech. He was also the ace pitcher/3rd baseman and cleanup hitter for my Babe Ruth League team up until this season. The only reason he didn’t play for us this season is due to his football career was really taking off and he couldn’t commit to baseball due to football camp.

I’m at a loss for words here, this was one terrific young man and to be taken at the age of 15 is just staggering to me. As much as I wanted to write about some Mets stuff today especially about Jason Bay, it all means nothing to me right now.

My heartfelt condolences to Eric’s family for their tragic loss

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“LET’S GO METS” “YOU SUCK METS” THAT’S THE TWO SIDED METS FAN COIN

It’s time like these where I like to sit back and watch Mets fans devour each other and the organization. Mets fans can go from JOSE-JOSE-JOSE to YOU SUCK REYES! In a bi-polar second.  These are the same Mets fans who told us all winter that the Mets were not going to any good this season and would avoid Citi Field like it was a Japanese nuclear plant. That’s fine and I don’t blame you but what I don’t get is how some fans are killing Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson and his baseball operations for this horrendous start. What exactly would you like them to do?

Every report that came out of St Lonesome was how Collins was working this team hard on the fundamentals of the game  and how there will be no spectators on the field when the ball is put in play. Not one story came out negative of Collins camp, all you heard from players, media and fans was “it’s about time” The impression portrayed to Mets fans was this team will be ready, willing and able to play solid baseball, they seem ready and willing but the able to play solid baseball part still needs work.    

If you think the shitty play of this team is bothering you just think how Collins feels. Same for Alderson, you think he wants any part of failure or ridicule this team is going through? He has never settled and has never sat back and let shit like this fester.  Let’s not forget one tiny little fact here, he inherited a total mess and if you want to criticize him for anything it’s that maybe he underestimated what a mess this organization is.  

You could tell from listening to Terry Collins in his post game presser when asked about worrying about Bobby Parnell, he made it known he’s not concerned about Bobby Parnell his concern is the NY Mets and that should be music to Mets fans ears.  Parnell I’m sure is a fine young man but if he can’t handle the bullpen role then see ya later.  All the work he put into his drills with the players have gone for naught. It’s one thing for pitchers to be ineffective but when you can’t execute a 1-2-3 double play, you’ll pay a price.

Bobby Ojeda sees it as well. He has become a must watch on the post-game show.  Ojeda laid out the same scenario as Collins it’s time to take the diapers off some of these players such as Pelfrey and Parnell. It’s not about their feelings or their mental wellbeing; it’s about wins and loses.  Players have been coddled enough in Flushing it’s time to put up or pack a bag for Buffalo or other destinations.   

Big Pelf wasn’t great but he was better than the last two starts.  He showed more velocity but he still gave up more fly balls than ground balls and that’s not his game. His command was lacking as well. What gets me is the fans and media who ordained Pelfrey as the Ace of the Staff are the same folks who now kill him for being ineffective and not Ace worthiness.

Me and Mike Ganci of The Daily Stache  used the photo of Willie Harris on scoreboard on opening day to amuse ourselves on Twitter last night during the latest Mets meltdown.  #WILLIEHARRISFACE will scare you straight.

The one bright spot in the pen was the work of Jason Isringhausen making his return to Flushing. His curveball was working very well so maybe this is the light at the end of the Cliff Floyd Tunnel.

Please Jon Niese gives 7 innings tonight please!

I’m not crazy about this year’s model of Angel Pagan.

I’m shocked that the bullpen failures have not been pinned on Carlos Beltran.

Dear R.A. Dickey,

I will be at the game tomorrow night and I have a request, could you please throw strikes as I cannot endure a three hour plus game as I have to go to Philadelphia on Thursday morning and I have leave very early. Thank you in advance.

All the best,

Steve

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HOWARD MEGDAL FOR GM CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF IN TIMES SQUARE

Yesterday at the Marriott Marquis in the heart of Times Square, Howard Megdal launched his run to become the General Manager of the NY Mets. Do not be fooled by the recent love letter written in the daily fish wraps, it’s time for old ideas and ways of doing business in Flushing to come to a halt and time for a young man with vision and vigor to take over the regins of the Mets baseball operation, as far as I’m concerned, Howard Megdal is the man to lead us to that goal.

Sure things are all sunshine and seashells but don’t fool yourself Mets fans, the Baltimore Orioles don’t come up on the Mets schedule again for a few years. But isn’t winning grand? Wouldn’t you like to have the feeling of being a Victor every year? Well, then there is only one man who can do that for this organization and that’s Howard Megdal.

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WALK LIKE A MAN/TALK LIKE A MAN………..

Every story you read about Fernando Martinez focuses on his potential. Since he signed with the Mets at the age of 16, we heard about the great potential that this young man has. He has the potential to hit for power, run like the wind, hit for average, tons and tons of potential. Well you know what potential means? It means you haven’t done a damn thing yet. You could do some great things or you may be another in a long  line of Mets prospects on the junk heap.

Ina story on MLB.com, Jesse Sanchez talks to F-Mart about his play so far the winter, where he is currently playing for the Dominican Republic rep Escogido where after  a slow start, Martinez has played well.  I thought that this quote though was a little too cocky for a guy who still has a lot to prove:

“I know I’m a big league player, and I can perform at a high level,” Martinez said. “It’s in my hands, so I have to keep working hard and maybe earn a spot. Maybe I make it to the big leagues with the Mets or maybe another team, but I know I can do it. I just have to keep working and waiting for my opportunity.”

I want to like this kid and I would love to see him finally live up to the hype and come back to the Mets and make a big contribution to the team’s future. But the bottom line is, this season is make or break for him, a young man of 20 years old just cannot keep breaking down the way he does. At first I thought that he was so young and the strain on his body of playing professional baseball and the natural progression of his physical growth were colliding and causing his injuries but I am starting to think it may be more a lack of dedication to the craft that has caused him not to be a hard worker or take the time to train and be physically fit.

Martinez claims he is a big leaguer and he knows he needs to work hard to get back to major leagues but as we’ve seen with the four years he has been in the organization, talk is cheap.

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NON METS: THIS SCARES ME TO DEATH

A non-Mets but a baseball story here. I just read where a woman from Staten Island sued the New Springville Little League and Little League International because her son, aged 12 at the time torn up his knee sliding into second base. Her claim was the coaches were negligent in teaching her son how to slide properly.

 

The first thing I want to know about the child is was he overweight. I’m not picking on the kid if he was fat I’m asking because in 10 years of Little League coaching I’ve had 10,11 and 12 year olds that were so over weight we didn’t have baseball pants to fit them or shirts. I had a 12 year old who wore a 40 waist pants and XXL shirt (his parents thought it was so cute that Big Mike was playing ball even if he couldn’t run, catch or swing a bat without weezing) so maybe this young man was a bit to heavy and that led to his injury.

My next question would be is the child a special education student? Many parents never tell coaches that their child suffers from ADD or ADHD. I am not an educator or a psychiatrist so when I yell at a kid for not paying attention or not looking at me when I’m speaking, it’s because I think the kid is a goof off, if I know in advance that the kid has issues I’d approach him a different way but Little League is forbidden to ask if a child has behavioral problems. That is a huge issue. I’ve had many kids like that, in fact one kid was just a real nasty sort and one day at practice when he was tired of hearing me tell him to catch the ball with two hands he told me to go fuck myself. My son heard this and was ready to beat the kid to a pulp. Finally when the mother told me he didn’t take his “meds” that day I realized the kid was sick.

I volunteer for lot’s of things because I believe in giving back. No one grew up in a better environment than me and I tried to give that to my own kids. I always feel for children who come from homes where it’s not ideal and I’ve always felt that sports is a way of showing kids that teamwork and pulling for one and other is a life lesson and for the most part kids are great it’s the parents that suck.

One thing Little League needs to do is run coaching seminars in the winter to help ladies and gentlemen who would like to volunteer and either don’t know the rules or they are intimidated by other coaches. I’ve had teams where I needed two other people to help me and it was hard between the apathetic parents (the majority unfortunately ) and the ones who feel they are limited in what they know or can do about the sport. If the parents had some guidance the program works a lot smoothly.

I hope this woman will be happy with the money she gets (I know the ambulance chaser who took the case will put his take to good use <sarcastic>) and maybe her conscience won’t bother her when she passes the New Springville Little League field when it’s gates are locked and the grounds are full of weeds and the kids who’s could have made great friends and learned that there are people who not only are there to teach you to play baseball but to listen to your problems and try to help you are all gone but then again when you sue a local Little League you have no conscience.

I wanted to hurl when I read this. Although having served on jury duty on Staten Island I’m not surprised. To be quite honest, when I was on a panel for a civil case involved the MTA and a woman who fell on a bus the answers by the folks on the panel to the attorneys questions were embarrassing. Some woman claimed she couldn’t serve on the jury because she had to be home every day at 4PM to make dinner fro her husband. Another man said he lived in Totenville and coming downtown was a “pain in the ass” for him. So this moronic verdict is not shocking. 

A non-Mets but a baseball story here. I just read where a woman from Staten Island sued the New Springville Little League and Little League International because her son, aged 12 at the time torn up his knee sliding into second base. Her claim was the coaches were negligent in teaching her son how to slide properly.

 

 

I wanted to hurl when I read this. Although having served on jury duty on Staten Island I’m not surprised. To be quite honest, when I was on a panel for a civil case involved the MTA and a woman who fell on a bus the answers by the folks on the panel to the attorneys questions were embarrassing. Some woman claimed she couldn’t serve on the jury because she had to be home every day at 4PM to make dinner fro her husband. Another man said he lived in Totenville and coming downtown was a “pain in the ass” for him. So this moronic verdict is not shocking.

The first thing I want to know about the child is was he overweight. I’m not picking on the kid if he was fat I’m asking because in 10 years of Little League coaching I’ve had 10,11 and 12 year olds that were so over weight we didn’t have baseball pants to fit them or shirts. I had a 12 year old who wore a 40 waist pants and XXL shirt (his parents thought it was so cute that Big Mike was playing ball even if he couldn’t run, catch or swing a bat without weezing) so maybe this young man was a bit to heavy and that led to his injury.

My next question would be is the child a special education student? Many parents never tell coaches that their child suffers from ADD or ADHD. I am not an educator or a psychiatrist so when I yell at a kid for not paying attention or not looking at me when I’m speaking, it’s because I think the kid is a goof off, if I know in advance that the kid has issues I’d approach him a different way but Little League is forbidden to ask if a child has behavioral problems. That is a huge issue. I’ve had many kids like that, in fact one kid was just a real nasty sort and one day at practice when he was tired of hearing me tell him to catch the ball with two hands he told me to go fuck myself. My son heard this and was ready to beat the kid to a pulp. Finally when the mother told me he didn’t take his “meds” that day I realized the kid was sick.

I volunteer for lot’s of things because I believe in giving back. No one grew up in a better environment than me and I tried to give that to my own kids. I always feel for children who come from homes where it’s not ideal and I’ve always felt that sports is a way of showing kids that teamwork and pulling for one and other is a life lesson and for the most part kids are great it’s the parents that suck.

One thing Little League needs to do is run coaching seminars in the winter to help ladies and gentlemen who would like to volunteer and either don’t know the rules or they are intimidated by other coaches. I’ve had teams where I needed two other people to help me and it was hard between the apathetic parents (the majority unfortunately ) and the ones who feel they are limited in what they know or can do about the sport. If the parents had some guidance the program works a lot smoothly.

I hope this woman will be happy with the money she gets (I know the ambulance chaser who took the case will put his take to good use <sarcastic>) and maybe her conscience won’t bother her when she passes the New Springville Little League field when it’s gates are locked and the grounds are full of weeds and the kids who’s could have made great friends and learned that there are people who not only are there to teach you to play baseball but to listen to your problems and try to help you are all gone but then again when you sue a local Little League you have no conscience.

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PLEASE “BEAR” WITH ME

Ahhhhhhhh Home Sweet Home and was I ever happy to leave camp, in fact I’ll take watching our hitless (and witless) wonders over staying up all night on bear patrol.

 

Friday nights at camp has always been about celebrating the accomplishments of the boys and the camaraderie of the troop and the Leaders. The Scout Leaders chip in and buy pizza and soda for the scouts and we also buy for the staff who helps us make our week run smooth.

So myself and leader went and got 14 pizza’s and a couple of cases of soda. After filling our bellies, my son and I take a walk up to the medic to get the dressing on his injured finger changed. As we come out of the medic office we see two of our leaders running up with one of our Scouts holding a blood soaked hand. The young man sliced his finger sawing wood for the evening camp fire and had to go to the hospital to get 6 stitches. As they leave, the rest of the troop and four other leaders are headed to the field for the closing ceremonies so my son and I join in.

As we join the formation the site commissioner grabs my arm and tells me that a bear has just gone through our site. It seems the remaining troop did not police the area before leaving and a full pepperoni pizza was left on a table.

When one of the site guides was walking through the back of our site, he spotted the bear. From his account, the bear walked past the site and suddenly stopped and lifted up his head, pointing his snout toward the sky and it seems the scent of the pizza appealed to him. The bear hopped up on the table and grabbed the box and proceeded to enjoy a slice (no word on if he used proper Brooklyn pizza etiquette by folding the slice in half) While this went on, the site guide radioed the Park Ranger who was tracking the bear and alerted him to the bear’s whereabouts. The Ranger has a gun with rubber bullets and he then shot the bear in the ass causing the bear to yelp and run off toward the lake.

So for the rest of the evening we kept the camp well lit and cleaned the camp like it was a hospital emergency room. But I didn’t go to sleep until about 3AM when my relief took so I could get 3 hours sleep until it was time to get up and break camp.

As great as it is to have a bear story it’s even better that I packed and extra pair of underwear. They came in handy.

Oh yeah about the deal, The whole “Francoeur is a great defensive player” and now the spin from Flushing is we are going to turn this team into a pitching and defense first kind of squad to fit $iti Field is admirable but the fact is this was a deal for two guys neither team wanted around anymore. But I’m fine with Frenchy even though is numbers have decreased each season since his rookie year and he is a very good right fielder with a plus arm. Church never “wowed” me but he was done in by bad medical advice and a manager who had not faith in him so I wish him luck and good health in Atlanta. Another plus for Francoeur is his nickname “Frenchy”

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