March 28, 2015

Real of Fake?

A little over a week to go and it seems that the Mets should have all sorts of issues.  Yes, Zack Wheeler is done for the season and so is Josh Edgin, these are injuries and the Mets will not be the only team to deal with such problems.  It's a long season and all teams will miss significant games due to injury.

The way the media is talking you would think the Mets are in utter disarray however.  From the Opening Day starter to the home opener starter to the lineup and what may happen with Matt Harvey 6 years from now Mets fans should be crying themselves to sleep nightly.

Here's how I see it, take it with a grain of salt, it's an opinion and we know what those are like.  I could care less who starts Opening Day or the home opener, I don't care who bats ninth and at the moment I don't care about Matt Harvey circa 2021.  All I care about is winning.  Lots and lots of winning, not whining.  Big difference between the two.

Let's take each situation individually.  If Matt Harvey starts the first game of the home opener does that really change our fortunes for the whole season?  The Mets have the best winning percentage of any MLB team on opening day, how many World Series has it gotten us?  Technically one, the Mets lost Opening Day 11-10 to the Expos in 1969.  So I could care less if the bat boy starts Opening Day, I want Harvey on the hill for Game one of the NLDS, the NLCS and the World Series.  Starting Opening Day does not guarantee that and never will.  If the Mets want to sell some extra tickets to an otherwise dead game so be it, that's their prerogative.  Also, all the people, fans and media members alike (you know who you are Boomer and Carton) that are complaining now would be the same flip-flopping, band wagon jumpers that would complain if Harvey got shut down in late September due to over use.  "Maybe the Mets should have waited a week or two to start Harvey so this didn't happen, blah, blah, blah, dirka, dirka, jihad, jihad".  I want wins, not Opening Day pride.

The lineup is less of a concern, if they guys we have hit it won't matter.  Lagares can hit 12th for all I care, if he's productive it's good for the team.  The Mets do not have a true lead off man so don't get it all twisted that they are trying to be somewhat creative in scoring runs.  I still feel the team needs another big hitter to lengthen the lineup, then you can put Lagares and d'Arnaud wherever the hell you want and it won't matter, I want runs, lots of runs and I don't care how they get scored.

Lastly, everyone is all up in arms about pissing Matt Harvey off because he isn't pitching Opening Day or the home opener.  In 5-6 years when he hits free agency he will leave because of this one moment or that one moment.  He wants the ball, good, he should, he is the ace of the team, no doubt, but they still need to be cautious and keep him reigned in to avoid further injury or some kind of Strasburg drama come late September.  Harvey is going to sign for the most money on the team that can provide the best chance to win, like every other player in baseball with extremely rare exception.  If the Mets keep this pitching together, make a few savvy moves and find sustained success Harvey will stay, cause the team will be profitable and be able to pay him while giving him a team that can win a World Series.

That's it, stop the bitching and whining, enjoy the start of the season and let's see what we have.  Don't get caught up in the rhetoric that drives sports talk radio or the crazy, Randy Quaid style Mets fans who aren't ever happy.  This team will be good, very good, playoffs or not the Mets are on the right track and this year will be different.

March 15, 2015

The "Curse" of Tommy John

Tommy John, two words no pitcher ever wants to hear, it's a career altering surgery that the vast majority of pitchers rebound from but they lose a minimum of a year in the game and spend time in that vast empty void called rehab.

It's not as hard for the fans, depending on the pitcher.  Let's be honest, Matt Harvey having TJ was much more emotionally unnerving than either of Jeremy Hefner's.  Josh Edgin is the latest Met to hear that news and while this one doesn't rank as highly as Harvey's it is more significant than Hefner's.

Putting the impact of an injury on a scale is a cruel and cold move but it's necessary to understand how we think as fans.  Bobby Parnell went down on day 1 last year and no one really blinked an eye.  Not because we think ill of Parnell, but we were all still suffering through the malaise of knowing that Harvey was not on the bump for that Opening Day.  Also, Jenrry Mejia filled the role admirably and the Mets ended up with a fairly decent bullpen once we moved on from old retreads.

The point here is that the Mets are not the only team dealing with this issue, TJ surgery is not confined to Queens, better teams have dealt with bigger losses to this surgery and still fared very well.  The Cardinals lost Adam Wainwright to TJ in 2011 and they won the World Series.  The Braves lost Johnny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty in 2013 and still made the playoffs.

The Mets roster this year most likely does not stack up against these two teams, but it does show that a team can be successful despite injuries.  As most people say injuries are going to happen and they should not be used as an excuse since all teams deal with them.

This dependence on a LOOGY is something that has only really surfaced as a "role" in the last 10-15 years.  Bullpen specialist is slang for can't get three consecutive outs consistently.  It analogous to calling a secretary an administrative assistant or a janitor an environmental custodian.  We all want to feel good about our jobs but lets be honest, why has it become such a carousel in the bullpen.  You get this one out and then you get that one out, so on and so forth.  Thanks a lot Tony LaRussa, this is pretty much your fault and another reason games are three and half hours long.

I want 6-7 guys in the bullpen who can get outs, lefty, righty, man, woman, child, alien, whatever.  Throw strikes, get outs, strand runners.  I don't think it's too much to ask of major league caliber players to do their jobs.  Just don't get nuts that we no longer have Josh Edgin for the season.  This is a primary reason why the team held on to all of its young pitching, depth.  I have screamed and yelled a few times about trading one or two of them for another bat but reality has once again set in that they need those arms and they aren't the ready commodity we always think they are.  Someone in the front office was proactive enough to say we can't afford to trade these arms away just yet and with good reason.  Two fifths of the starting rotation has had TJ, another may (although unlikely) be in the offing and a few of our top prospects have already had the dreaded surgery as well.

This is just a fact of life.  Like Seinfeld said you are really just cheering for the laundry after all and the name on the front of the jersey is and should be more important than the one on the back.  Having Matt Harvey helps, a lot, but it does not solve all of our ills.  Ask Steve Carlton what it's like to be a good pitcher on a horrendous team.

It's still March, I don't care that the Mets lead baseball in 8 different offensive categories, mostly off guys who'll be bagging groceries in six weeks.  What counts is April 6th and beyond.  Stay healthy, get your reps in, the next man must step up and fill the voids we have.  Beware the Ides of March, that is unless your season doesn't begin until three weeks later.

March 1, 2015

Stop Being a Tool!

So March has begun and the talk has been plentiful surrounding the boys from Queens.  From the overt positivity about making the playoffs to the E:60 The Dark Knight Rises special, the Mets are making some headlines.

Surprisingly (or not, in this writer's mind) many fans have been taken aback by the braggarts in Port St. Lucie.  How can they talk like this, can't we win something first?  This is typical Mets, talk a big game and fail to back it up.  How quickly we forget the tongue lashings being directed towards Sandy Alderson just a few years ago when he "failed" to act like the team would be good.  Sports talk radio was littered with these same "fans" that can't stand the positive talk today bashing the negative talk of yesterday.

Hey guys, do us all a favor, pick a point of view and be man enough to stand by it.  Don't criticize and play devil's advocate so if things go bad you can act like you knew better.  The word fan is derived from and short for fanatic, go look this up in the dictionary.  Or better yet, just google it for the literacy impaired.  In short you'll find out that a fanatic is someone singularly devoted to a cause, good or bad, rain or shine, shit storm or not.  I'm a Mets fan, I call like I see it but I choose to let it play out on the field.  Let them talk big, we always get pissy about them not acting like a big market team financially but when they do it in other ways we jump all over them to stop.

Do yourself a favor, watch the E:60 special about Matt Harvey and get excited for what could be.  Jump on the bandwagon a little bit and get behind these young players.  Give Terry Collins a chance with a decent roster and see what he can do.  You don't need to be Nostradamus to be a fan, you just have to have some character and watch regardless of the ebbs and flows of the season.  Guess what?  The Mets will lose a few games this year, they'll win a few too.  The players recently  have said talk is cheap and while they are confident in what they can accomplish they know nothing is won in February and March, no one mentions that on the airwaves because its rational and even keeled, unlike most Mets fans who are fickle, Randy Quaid like characters who wallow in their misery and for some reason seem to enjoy it more when the team sucks too.

I want to see them win, a lot.  I want a World Series, soon.  Despite that having been a far fetched dream over the last 15 years one thing has never changed, I bleed orange and blue.  Maybe you should try it too.  Stop being a cynical dumb ass, pick up your remote, turn on SNY and get excited if for no other reason than it's time.

February 14, 2015

Pre-Season Rankings, Spring Training and Monks

It's cold, it's snowing and I'm constantly shoveling.  Must be February in New York.  The worst sports month of the years (although the Islanders and Rangers have made it bearable) only offering is the constant reminder that the weather is better in Florida and that baseball is almost here.  This off season has been particularly odd in that most of us expected the Mets to be gun slinging and picking off free agents while making all types of trades to better this years roster.

Well, Cuddyer, Mayberry Jr. and...oh yeah, that's it.  As we scratch our head at the evident lack of activity and ponder whether or not Sandy has done enough to improve the team the players have begun to arrive en masse to Port St. Lucie, many of them having been there for weeks already for the strength and conditioning program.

Time to move past the "disappointing" off season, look forward to what we do have in front of us and imagine what can be.  April 6th brings the beginning of 2015 and the Mets jump right into the deep end against the team many people assume is the inevitable NL East champ and World Series contender in the Nationals.  A good start is paramount to this team getting its feet under them and most likely to Terry Collins keeping his job.  5-15 to start the year is almost assuredly a one way ticket from Las Vegas to Queens for Mr. Backman.

However, I want the fans to take a different approach.  We must remind ourselves that this is a marathon and not a sprint.  Rarely do teams go wire to wire without some form of a challenge from a division competitor.  A bad start does not entail a bad season.  Is it harder to rebound from, absolutely, but it's not impossible.

I can see the headlines now, Mets drop 2 of 3 to Nats to open season, the hot seat is on full blast and fans flock to the airwaves to voice their concern.  Reminder, the Mets opened both the 1986 and 1988 seasons at 2-3.  In 1969 they opened at 3-7.  Leading the first mile of the race is much less important than leading at the wire.  Keep pace and don't get lost in the pack.  Wins in April count the same as wins in September so as long as you get them it doesn't matter when, it just matters how many.

Mets fans always speak proudly of the teams success on Opening Day.  Great, we are the best team on day one and rarely the best team on day 162, so who cares?  It's like taking solace in the fact that you beat the Yankees four straight even though you finished with 74 wins.  I don't care if I lose to the Yankees all six times this year.  I care that we get over .500 and steal a wild card spot.

Slow and steady wins the race, especially in baseball.  They play the games for a reason and starting the first week of April we will find out what we have become.  Maybe the monks in Laos will serve us some wins in return for the rice they got from Mr. Harvey.

We know the pitching will be good, how good is a question but with the depth they have and the added experience I can see them being better than last year with ease.  The tell tale sign for me will be the first time the bases are loaded with less than two outs.  Will this offense struggle to plate runs or do we see them turn the corner and become a better situational hitting team.  I feel confident that if that bases loaded moment results in a two run double followed by an RBI single this team will settle in and take off.  If the opposite happens and two guys strike out, followed by a pop up on the infield we may be in for a long summer again.

Only a few more weeks and it begins again, see you in April.

February 5, 2015

Mets Fans Are Putting Too Much Emphasis On Harvey's Return

As spring training nears, fan discussion naturally turns towards expectations of the season ahead.  It should come as no surprise that those expectations vary widely.  There are those among us who believe that the Mets have a legitimate shot to contend for a playoff spot.  When you ask those fans what makes them so confident, you will almost undoubtedly hear about the impending return of staff ace, Matt Harvey.  When he toes the rubber for the first time since August 24, 2013, he will do so with much fanfare and an unreasonable expectation that he's the difference maker.

Make no mistake, Harvey is the real deal.  He has the mindset most fans crave out of their peak performers and at a minimum, had the abilities to back it up.  I hope you caught that.  Had...  Because when Harvey does return for the Mets, he will return having had Tommy John surgery. Although that is no longer the bleak fate for pitchers it once was, it still comes with its own special set of uncertainties.

What fans should expect from Harvey is some control issues.  Come April, Harvey's sabbatical from Major League Baseball will have reached twenty months.  That's plenty of time for any pitcher, even one of Harvey's ilk, to have acquired some rust.  Combined that with what has historically been a decrease in velocity in the first year back from Tommy John surgery and Harvey may be much more hitable than the guy we all remember.  This all assumes he makes it through spring training without a setback, of course.

Let us pretend for a minute that Harvey returns to form and takes the mound at Citi Field in full Dark Knight fashion.  The blistering fastball and the hellacious slider on full display.  What then?  I think a fact that's lost on most Mets fans is that in 2013...the season in which Harvey was considered dominant...the season in which he started the all-star game for the National League, the Mets went just 13-13 in the games he started.  No pitcher, regardless of greatness, can lead his team to glory if it doesn't score any runs for him.

I don't mean to infer that Mets fans shouldn't be excited about the return of the team's ace.  At a minimum, the Mets will be a better team on paper with him, than they were last season with him sidelined.  However, there are multiple factors that are well beyond his control.  Factors which will almost certainly play a roll in his 2015.  Will Harvey be great in 2015?  I don't know, but I don't think it makes or breaks the Mets season either way.  I'm not sure any player who only takes the field every fifth day could.  So be happy he's back, but remember there's only so much the Dark Knight can do.

Like what you read?  Catch me on Twitter at @RobPatterson83.

No Moncado for the Mets?

I will admit that I have had issues with the Mets lack of interest in the Cuban market(link). And initially with all the hype of Yoan Moncado and his path to becoming a free agent my thoughts didn't change. However, this kid while displaying the tools is going to potentially cost a $30 million contract and on top of that a 100% tax to the team. For all you math challenged folks that's $60 million for a player with not a lot of real elevated playing experience. Essentially a $60 million prospect.

A few years ago the Mets spent their first round draft pick on Gavin Cechinni. And while I have read about some potential character flaws he appears to be progressing through the system as he should. Then you have Amed Rosario who according to Keith Law (espn.com 2.1 via MetsBlog) has crazy potential based on his tools and he was signed a year ago for $2 million.

My point is, Cechinni and Rosario can only be viewed as prospects at this point as they are unproven but Moncando really can't be viewed as much else. The other Cuban players that have been signed in recent years all had several years of experience in their respective leagues and were in their mid twenties so those gambles would have made more sense but $60 million is a huge risk. I just wish the Mets would have take a gamble on one of the others.
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February 3, 2015

Why No Cubans Sandy?

Over the past few years there have been some breakout players coming from Cuba and making a splash in the big leagues. Unless you live under a rock you know the names like Puig, Cespedes, and Abreu. Rusney Castillo was signed late last year by the Red Sox, Yasmani Tomas became a D-Back this off season and there is Yoan Moncada waiting for his pay day.

With each of these players the Mets front office has claimed to have scouted and done their due dilligence. However it was never reported that the Mets were really in on any of them. That's a head scratcher when the team has had needs like a power hitting OF, SS, and potentially someone to man first base when when the Ike Davis/Lucas Duda situation existed. The latter a thing of the past.

Over at MetsBlog I found a quote from Sandy regarding them getting in on these international players. "We haven't been in that category, but I expect we will be in that category soon." he said.

Um, when? These players are being signed and having an immediate impact. They are signing fairly healthy contracts however in each case they are younger players and don't cost a draft pick. Yet we Mets fans have to sit here and hear things like "he doesn't fit what we are trying to do here or we don't view him playing at this or that position." I get that it can be a gamble but they are paying off much better than some of the local gambles this team has made over the past few years. What gives, Sandy?