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Joeadig’s 2009 Predictions and Comments

Monday, April 6th, 2009

METS QUESTIONS:

Can this team finally erase the demons of the past two years and make the playoffs?

If they don’t win the division, they won’t make the playoffs. I think that the starting pitching is one injury away from being a disaster. While the bullpen is improved, the starters are nothing special after Johan. With such a small margin for error with the Phillies and the much improved Braves, I just think that the division is too tough to produce a Wild Card winner.

What kind of impact will we see out of the revamped bullpen?

This will be a huge thing. The variety of the pen is the key. O’Day and Green are side-armers, Parnell is a power arm, and Feliciano is junk-baller. I like the mix a lot, and fully expect Jerry Manuel to use these guys as much as any pen in the game.

What do you expect from Jerry Manuel in his first full year as manager?

I expect him to not be Willie Randolph. That’s it. As long as he’s not Willie, I’m okay with whatever he does.

Will the Mets regret not upgrading in the outfield corners?

Daniel Murphy will turn out to be one of the most productive outfielders in the NL. The problem now is the mix of Tatis, Church, and Gary Sheffield. How will that platoon possibly work out? Sheffield needs to play to be happy, and if he’s not happy he could be a problem. Tatis was a great pick up last year, but I doubt lightning will strike twice. Church? Could be above average, could be a waste. All I know is that I would not have minded adding Manny Rameriez to the fold.

Will the lack of depth for the fifth starter job become a problem?

That depends: what’s Scott Erickson up to? Is David Cone available? How about Masato Yoshi? I do not like the starting pitching at all, and I think this will be the downfall of this team.

What do you think about the Mets bench?

I’m going to assume that Marlon Anderson is gone now that Sheffield is here. Otherwise, the bench is pretty nice to look at and I think it’s a typical NL bench in every way. No greatness but no true holes either.

Will the following Mets repeat, exceed, or regress in 2009?

Jose Reyes

SBs will be up (I hope) and he’ll be among the league leaders in hits.

Luis Castillo

Comeback Player of the Year 2009

David Wright

I have a feeling that he will take a step backward. Not sure why, but I think he’s going to struggle.

Carlos Delgado

Remember how we were talking about releasing him last June? Yeah. Those talks will be back soon.

Carlos Beltran

2009 NL MVP

Ryan Church

I see him losing his starting job by the end of May to Gary Sheffield.

Daniel Murphy

Big numbers are in his future. He’s going to be great.

Brian Schneider

He’ll make Ramon Castro look like Ty Cobb.

Johan Santana

Contender for the Cy Young, leader in strikeouts and IP.

John Maine

He’ll spend most of the year on the DL.

Oliver Perez

He’ll have 15 great starts, 15 crappy starts, and 3 average starts.

Mike Pelfrey

The weight of all the expectations will not help him; he’ll be good, but nothing special.

Pedro Feliciano

Eh.

THE REST OF BASEBALL:

Home Run Leaders
AL: Carlos Quentin
NL: Ryan Howard

Batting Champs
AL: Justin Morneau
NL: Lance Berkman

Stolen Base Leaders
AL: Carlos Gomez
NL: Jose Reyes

Teams That Will Surprise
AL: Seattle
NL: San Francisco

Teams That Will Disappoint
AL: Tampa Bay
NL: Los Angeles

MVP
AL: Carlos Quentin
NL: Carlos Beltran

Cy Young Award
AL: Roy Halladay
NL: Cole Hamels

Rookie of the Year
AL: Matt Weiters
NL: Cameron Maybin

Playoffs

LDS:
Mets vs. Giants (WC)
Arizona vs. Chicago (NL)
Yankees vs. Angels
Chicago (AL) vs. Boston (WC)

LCS:
Chicago (NL) vs. Giants
Yankees vs. Chicago (AL)

World Series:
Cubs vs. Yankees
Cubs win in 6

Reasons to be Thankful You’re a Mets Fan

Friday, November 28th, 2008
  1. The bright future of Jose Reyes and David Wright
  2. Johan Santana’s changeup.
  3. Memories of Mike Piazza’s dramatic home runs
  4. The Immortal Shinjo
  5. Robin Ventura’s grand slam single
  6. Endy Chavez’ catch
  7. Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowel were traded for Juan Samuel; that’s just funny.
  8. Mookie Wilson’s “hit” in the ’86 Series
  9. Keith Hernandez’ appearance on Seinfeld
  10. Al Leiter’s ’99 one-game playoff complete-game shutout
  11. The 7 train
  12. The ginormousness of Mr. Mets’ head; it’s so great that the Reds cloned him!
  13. The drama of the non-stop string of Almost No-Hitters
  14. Shawn Estes MISSED Roger Clemens; what other team would have a moment like that?
  15. The half-second during the bottom of the first inning on the last day of the 2007 season when we all thought that Ramon Castro’s line-out was a grand slam.
  16. Vince Coleman threw fire crackers at kids after a game; he thought he was an NFL running back or something.
  17. Vince Coleman’s firecracker fun was on the SAME DAY that Anthony Young lost his 27th straight game.  Awesome.
  18. Tom Seaver was in the dugout during the Mets 1986 Series win. The RED SOX’s dugout. Ouch.
  19. The constant smell of urine and tar at Shea Stadium.
  20. Suzyan Waldman is not an SNY broadcaster, but Gary Cohen is.

The Closer Conundrum

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

With yesterday’s article by Ken Davidoff in Newsday, I had to start seriously thinking for the first time that maybe the Mets wouldn’t end up going after Brian Fuentes or Francisco Rodriguez, but rather they’d trade for Bobby Jenks.  I’m still not totally convinced one way or another, but I feel compelled to actually think about things on a more statistical level for the first time.  So I’ve compiled the stats for the three most likely candidates to be the 2009 Mets closer. 

First, I’ve eliminated Trevor Hoffman from the mix because I really don’t see him as a New York guy.  The only reason to even consider him would be as a one-year option to keep the door open to possibly give the closer mantle for 2010 to one of the two young arms in the minor league system, Bobby Parnell or Eddie Kunz. But I highly doubt that the powers that be would allow all the closer on the market right now to go to other teams.

Second, I’ve also eliminated Kerry Wood.  Again, he doesn’t strike me as a New York guy.  He’ll most likely go to a second division team on a one-year deal to show that he can stay healthy.

Third, I’m comparing the three players based solely on the quantitative categories that don’t rely on having decent arms around you in the bullpen. The numbers below are only here to show the effectiveness of the individual closer.  So here we go.

Bobby Jenks:
2008:  57 games, 61.2 IP, 51 hits, 3 HRs, 38 Ks, 17 BBs, 30 saves
2007: 66 games, 65 IP, 45 hits, 2 HRs, 56 Ks, 13 BBs, 40 saves
2006: 67 games, 69.2 IP, 66 hits, 5 HRs, 80 Ks, 31 BBs, 41 saves

Francisco Rodriguez
2008: 76 games, 68.1 IP, 54 hits, 4 HRs, 77 Ks, 34 BBs, 62 saves
2007: 64 games, 67.1 IP, 50 hits, 3 HRs, 90 Ks, 34 BBs, 40 saves
2006: 69 games, 73 IP, 52 hits, 6 HRs, 98 Ks, 28 BBs, 47 saves

Brian Fuentes:
2008: 67 games, 62.2 IP, 47 hits, 3 HRs, 82 Ks, 22 BBs, 30 saves
2007: 64 games, 61.1 IP, 46 hits, 6 HRs, 56 Ks, 23 BBs, 20 saves
2006: 66 games, 65.1 IP, 50 hits, 8 HRs, 73 Ks, 26 BBs, 30 saves

Including saves here is possibly a mistake, because having a high save total is contingent on being placed in games in which your team is winning.  It’s been well reported that Francisco Rodriguez was placed in games only in save situations, whereas the other guys (and all other closers in the game) often find themselves in blowouts or four-run leads.  But it’s worth it if for no other reason than to see how each player responds to pressure. 

Bobby Jenks is young and could possibly be locked up for a couple of years at a very low salary, as low as $1 million per.  With that extremely affordable price tag, you have to consider that it would probably cost the Mets some pretty high-level minor league talent.  Fernando Martinez is the most likely to be traded, but young Wilmer Flores, a 17-year-old who finished the season at Class A Brooklyn could be a target too.  Losing either guy would be a hard blow for the already bereft system.

The big worry with Jenks is that his strikeout total has gone down in each of the last three seasons, and by a pretty dramatic margin. His innings are also down, though not by much, and you have to consider that he spent a good bit of time on the DL in 2008.

Francisco Rodriguez has numbers that speak for themselves.  There’s no need to remind readers that he set the single-season saves record in 2008, or that he’s thrown more innings over the past three years than any of the other closer candidates.  Also, it’s been well-documented that his pitching motion puts a lot of stress on his arm, and that stress worries a lot of scouts about his potential for long-term health. 

With all that said, Rodriguez is undoubtedly the cream of the crop.  His strikeout-to-walk ratio is great and he has proven to be a guy who isn’t bothered by stress.  There is little doubt that he’ll adjust to the pressures of playing in New York, and he will be among the top closers for at least a few more years. 

But despite his agent’s claims that he’s willing to be creative with his contract demands, most in the industry believe that KRod will command the highest annual salary ever for a closer.  He’ll probably ask for something in the neighborhood of $13-15 million per year, and that’s just insane, especially when you add on the $10 million that Billy Wagner will be paid for his rehab time in 2009.  And when you consider all the other bullpen upgrades that the front office will have to pay for, Rodriguez’ price may be too high to make him the first choice.

And that brings us to Brian Fuentes, the free agent who will most likely not be hired back by his old team since the Rockies traded for Huston Street. Fuentes brings a very solid arm and one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios in the game.  Add that he played for a lousy Rockies team in 2008, and he could easily have saved another 10 to 15 games for a contender. 

The only real downside with Fuentes is that, like Rodriguez, he’ll probably command a huge contract. I’ve not read any expected contract demands yet, but I assume he’ll go for somewhere around $10-11 million per year for maybe four to five years. For all I know, my estimates could be way off, but they’re still high numbers any way you look at it. 

So which of the three would be the best fit for the 2009 Mets?  It’s hard to say.  All three have their upsides, and all three pose certain risks, either financial or health or prospect cost.  It seems that any of them could do the job efficiently, and any of them could be popular figures in Flushing.  I guess all that matters is what Omar thinks is best.

The Pedro Problem

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

By the end of Tom Glavine’s five years with the Mets, he was getting booed.  When Mike Hampton comes back to Flushing, people forget that he lead the team to the World Series and went on to be a huge financial bust when he left as a free agent.  Hearing Al Leiter broadcast for the YES network makes any Mets fan pine for Suzyn Waldman (well, maybe not quite…).

But Pedro Martinez was never booed.

How many players have the Mets given huge contracts to over the years, only to have their time in blue and orange spent on the DL?  And of the players who haven’t been hurt, how many have simply underperformed? (early ‘90’s ringing any bells?) By and large, those players had to eventually be traded, released, or ignored to save them from the wraith of the Shea faithful.

But Pedro Martinez was never booed.

So the question must be asked: should the Mets bring him back for one more year?

Look at the facts before jumping to a resounding “NO!” as I’m sure your gut is telling you to do.  He signed in 2005 as a totally different pitcher.  He had a fastball/changeup combo that was among the best in the NL.  He was still a couple years removed from his Cy Young years, and he’s not going to be in that conversation any more in the years to come.  But in 2005, he pitched really well, going 217 innings to a 2.82 ERA.

Since that time, he’s pitched only 260 innings and not even approached that level of efficiency in terms of ERA. He pitched in 23, 5, and 20 games in each of the last three years, respectively.  That’s not good.  Nobody will have the gull to say that Pedro Martinez earned his salary with the Mets.

But the difference between Pedro and everyone else is still huge.  People love him.  The players on the field treat him as a mentor, the fans in the stands treat him as a showpiece, and the writers of the newspaper columns treat him as a go-to guy on all baseball issues great and small.  That sounds like a guy you’d want on your team, as long as it’s understood that he’s not your ace any more. Perhaps the problem in 2008 was that the management was counting on Pedro to be a number 2 starter, and he’s just not that anymore. But if there was a more realistic number 2 option, Pedro could have been more of a number 4 or 5 starter, and that would make it easier to bear his injuries.

Your intrepid Blue and Orange staff, one of whom is wearing a jheri curl wig. Can you guess which one it is?Nobody is saying that Pedro should be brought back to be the Mets number 2 starter behind Johan Santana, and to count on him for 200 innings would just be foolish.  But with Jonathan Neise and Brandon Knight and Bobby Parnell showing signs of reliability in the minors, why not take a flyers on Pedro in 2009?  Slot him in as a fifth starter, and give him a chance to succeed.    If he doesn’t there are plenty of guys who could fill in at the bottom of the rotation.

If Pedro would settle for a contract in the neighborhood of $4 – $5 million or so, that’s a gamble to take.  If he flops, the Mets can eat that money.  If he succeeds, Omar looks like a genius for giving a guy who everyone has written off a chance.

Top Free Agents: Who Should the Mets Go For?

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Ben Reiter at SI wrote a very interesting (if pure fiction) article on cnnsi.com earlier this week that ranks the top 50 free agents and predicts where they might end up.  According to the author, the Mets will wind up with Oliver Perez, Bobby Abreu, Juan Cruz, Orlando Hudson. Hmm… I’m not too thrilled with this list.  So I’m making my own.  Here’s the top 15 free agents (according to this article) and my opinions about how adamant the Mets should be in their pursuits.

1. CC Sabathia- Imagine a rotation with Santana and Sabathia…. And then put it out of your mind and forget about it. It ain’t happening!  Granted, I would love to see CC and his .247 batting average against pitching game 2 of the season at Citi Field, but if he wants to stay in the NL he’ll go back to the Brewers or off to the West Coast, and if he wants to go East, he’d be dumb to turn down the mint that the Yankees will throw at him. I’m not holding my breath here.

2. Mark Teixeira- If the Mets hadn’t picked up Carlos Delgado’s $12 million option, I would make the case that he’s the most important missing piece to the lineup.  But since there’s such a small chance that the Mets will deal Delgado and then sign Teixiera that I won’t waste my time.

3. Manny Ramirez-  Personally, I would LOVE this signing.  I know that Manny has had his issues, but 1700 RBIs and 500 HRs… and he’s not slowing down at all?  I’d be perfectly fine seeing his right-handed bat in the cleanup spot behind or in front of David Wright for the next four years. If Omar can sign him for $20 million per, this would be a big plus for the lineup.

4. Francisco Rodriguez- The pros and cons of Rodriguez have already been well-chronicled on this and many other sites, so I won’t bother with the stats.  BUT I will say this: if he commands more than $10 million per, spend the money on Brian Fuentes instead.  I’m going to assume that he’ll want more $12-15 million per, and I’d rather see Fuentes closing games and that extra cash thrown at a bullpen upgrade.

5. AJ Burnett- He’s had his health issues in the past but the Mets are losing Pedro and Hernandez, so the health of the starters won’t be as much of a worry in 2009.  With that said, when he opted out of his Toronto contract, he catapulted above Derek Lowe on my starters wish list.  His ERA isn’t stellar but his high strike out totals and career .237 batting average against show me  a lot of promise. Throw him in as a third starter behind Santana and Pelfrey and before Maine and we’ll be watching a really good show. A four-year deal for $12-15 per is the range I’d be comfortable with.

6. Derek Lowe- If (and only if) Burnett is off the table, the Mets must go hard after Derek Lowe.  He may not be the guy to get the win in the big game, but he’s the guy who can get the team to the big game—and after two straight September collapses, we need a guy who is consistent and experienced.  He’s been on winners and his offspead stuff would be nice to put behind the power of Pelfrey in a rotation.  A three-year deal would be great for $12-14 per.

7. Rafael Furcal- No.

8. Orlando Cabrera- Cabrera is noted as a high character guy, and even if he wasn’t he’s not Luis Castillo so he’d be welcome in Flushing.  But unless the Mets find a taker who would swap a bad contract for a bad contract, Castillo will be the starting 2B on opening day 2009.  Oh well.

9. Oliver Perez-  I’ve got no problem retaining Perez, but it’d have to be for the right price.  He’s shown that he’s got a very high upside, but his inconsistency is too frustrating to be truly worth big-time money.  He’s fine as a forth starter making $8-9 per for three years or so, but not much more than that. And personally, I don’t think that that sort of money will get it done.  Someone will offer him more and he’ll take it.

10. Adam Dunn- So a powerful right-handed bat in right field would be nice.  But it seems to me that Dunn is basically a clone of Carlos Delgado.  Neither will hit for a high average but they’ll both drive in guys and hit long balls.  Dunn does get in base a lot, but his high strike out totals will negate any potential for moving guys along—one of the Mets big flaws has been their inability to advance runners and be unselfish, and it seems to me that that is exactly the definition of Adam Dunn.  I’d be okay with signing him, but not ecstatic.  Maybe a short-term deal for $8-10 per, but no more.

11. Brian Fuentes- Since the numbers are pretty comparable except save totals, I’d rather see Fuentes as the closer than Francisco Rodriguez.   Since he’ll command less money to sign, his high strikeout totals will be very welcome at Citi Field for a four-year deal for $10 million per.

12. Kerry Wood- This is a tough one.  I don’t seem him leaving Chicago, but if he does he could be a big hit in New York.  But should he be?  He’ll strike out a lot of guys and he’ll be a good presence in the pen, so if Omar can get him for less than $10 million per, this could be a good signing.

13. Pat Burrell-  Though he’s toned down his status as a Mets-Killer over the years, he’s a strong righty bat that is a touch older than Adam Dunn, though I’m not sure if the age is a positive or a negative.  Neither can plan the field well, but with Endy Chavez able to come off the bench as a defensive replacement late in games that may not be a huge deal.  So is Burrell a better fit then done?  Simple: Yes.  He’s played in Philly and gotten booed (a lot) over the years, yet he’s come alive when it matters.  Without him, the Phillies don’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs.  If Omar can get him for $10-12 million per, this would be a good upgrade.

14. Bobby Abreu- The Mets do NOT need another aging left-handed bat, and since Abreu has diminished from the player he once was in his prime, I have to believe that he’ll only get worse.  He’s not a bad player, but he’s also not worth the money he’ll command.  Leave this one alone, Omar.

15. Ryan Dempster- His 2008 ERA was nearly a run and a half better than his career average, so I have to assume that his paycheck will be higher than his worth.  But he’s got experience as a starter and as a bullpen arm, so his value could be big for this team. But if the price is high, Dempster doesn’t belong in Flushing.  Maybe three years for $8 million per? Beyond that and let him go elsewhere.

Mets in the World Series (2006-2008)

Friday, October 17th, 2008

I’m not sure what the purpose of this particular list is, but I felt it necessary to make anyway.

Since 2006, there have been twelve players on World Series teams that are former Mets. (I’m going to take for granted that the Tampa Bay Rays will be making it to the World Series.) Here’s the list:

-Kenny Rogers (2006 Detroit Tigers)
-Vance Wilson (2006 Detroit Tigers)
-Braden Looper (2006 St. Louis Cardinals)
-Jose Vizcaino (2006 St. Louis Cardinals)
-Timo Perez (2006 St. Louis Cardinals)
-Preston Wilson (2006 St. Louis Cardinals)
-Jorge Julio (2007 Colorado Rockies)
-Kaz Matsui (2007 Colorado Rockies)
-Clif Floyd (2007 Tampa Bay Rays)
-Dan Wheeler (2008 Tampa Bay Rays)
-Scott Kazmir (2008 Tampa Bay Rays)
-Chad Bradford (2008 Tampa Bay Rays)

Kenny Rogers was booed out of New York after walking Andruw Jones with the bases loaded to eliminate the Mets from the playoffs in 1999.

Vance Wilson was traded from the Mets before the 2005 season for Anderson Hernandez, whose biggest Mets accomplishment was being the “player to be named later” in the deal for Louis Ayala. Wilson had become expendable after the Mets acquired Ramon Castro for no good reason.

Braden Looper’s middle name is “LaVerne.” He was doomed from the start. In 2005, he blew saves on Opening Day (Pedro Martinez’s first Mets start), on the Sunday of the Mets/Yankees series which would have given the Mets a sweet, and on a day in which the Mets gave up an eight-run lead to the Nationals. Needles to say, when the Mets refused to pick up his option for 2006, the Shea faithful were not unhappy.

Jose Vizcaino hit .270 in his illustrious 2-year Mets career.

Timo Perez will forever be regarded as the man who single-handedly cost the Mets Game 1 of the 2000 World Series. Personally, I hate him for it.

Preston Wilson was traded for Mike Piazza in 1998. I’m okay with this.

Jorge Julio ended up as the lesser part of the deal that also brought John Maine to the Mets for Kris Benson in 2006.

Kaz Matsui hit Opening Day home runs in all three seasons with the Mets. Unfortunately, that Opening Day would be the best day of his year in each of those three seasons.

Cliff Floyd was a good guy, but when his contract was up with the Mets after 2006. Maybe it’s because he missed 180 games in his four seasons.

Dan Wheeler was traded for Adam Seuss in 2004. Umm… yeah…

Chad Bradford pitched well in 70 games for the Mets in 2006, and then left as a free agent. Bastard.

Scott Kazmir never actually played for the Mets, but it still hurts. But for the purposes of my argument, I’m going to ignore Scott Kazmir’s connection to the Mets.

Cliff Floyd and Kenny Rogers were past their primes when they left the Mets. Chad Bradfor and Jorge Julio were good bit parts in the pen, but neither was a superstar. Dan Wheeler had not shown the potential that he so clearly has by that point in his career. Kaz Matsui and Braden Looper could not have been less comfortable playing in New York and they needed to go. The others were all bit players at best.

So this all begs some questions: why do these players find success when they leave the team, but fail to make an impact with the Mets? What makes a bit player help a team to a World Series? What changes when a player is removed from the spotlight of New York? And why do those same bit players often have career years when they play for the Yankees?

Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for any of these questions. But I’m finding it very interesting that there’s so many players in this category.

Overhaul Time

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

My Wish List for the 2009 Mets:

-David Wright
-Ryan Church
-Mike Pelfrey
-Damion Easley
-John Maine
-Billy Wagner
-Scott Schoenweis
-Brian Schneider
-Ramon Castro

Anyone else currently on the roster should be traded for players who are 1) average-above average at their positions, and 2) gritty/tough players

I know this is all pure nonsense and that it’ll never happen, but right now, the above players seem to be the ones who have that extra something special that is reminiscent of the early 90’s Braves and late 90’s Yankees.

Yes, I realize that this means getting rid of Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Johan Santana. I’m okay with all of that. Really, I am. All three are great players who could fetch some real talent in return, guys who have maybe a little less talent but a lot more grit.

I’m all for a complete over-haul of the team and the minor league system. Watching the Rays pound the Red Sox earlier this week, and seeing how fun that team is to watch, I felt very jealous.

Go ahead and tell me how wrong I am.

Do I Hate the Yankees… or the Mets?

Monday, June 16th, 2008

So why exactly do I hate the Yankees?

There was a time, long ago, when I rooted for the Yankees.  I remember it well, actually.

It was the fall of 1996.  I was a senior in high school and a lot of my closest friends were Yankee fans.  Back then, it didn’t matter so much that we rooted for opposite teams, because the Mets were perennially bad and the Yankees weren’t quite so hated yet. I remember sitting in my best friend’s house with a group of guys, watching the final game of the World Series.  I remember the fat guy who played third base (his name is escaping me right now) catching the final out in foul territory.  I remember jumping out of my seat with the rest of the gathered crowd and cheering.  I remember high-fiveing the guys around me and being happy that they won.  Yup, I was happy.

So why did I cheer then, but have, in the intervening years, come to “hate” the Yankees?  What has elicited such nasty feelings of ire whenever I see them on TV?  What makes me root for any team they play, and cheer when one of their players gets hurt?  (When Jeter got hurt on Opening Day a couple years back, I hung his picture and the headline on my desk at work.)

I’ve had a hard time rationalizing this lately.  So I came up with a list of reasons why I think my hatred of the Yankees began. Here goes:

  1. They outspend everyone
  2. Their players act like it’s a job, not a game
  3. They went nuts with the free agents and trades
  4. The way they treated their manager

All of these are logical points.  They’re all true and no Yankee fan can dispute them.  I’m trying to avoid such arguments as “because they’re jerks” or “Jeter is over-rated” because I want to be fair.  You may see where I’m going with this.

EVERY ONE OF THESE POINTS CAN BE APPLIED TO THE 2008 NEW YORK METS.  And that makes me sick.

1. They outspend everyone: They have the highest payroll in the National League. They currently are spending $138 million, almost $20 million more than the Cubs and Dodgers, who are second and third in the NL.  The Cubs currently have the best record in baseball, and the Dodgers are second in the NL West. Meanwhile, the Mets are paying their “slugging” cleanup hitter with 8 home runs $18.6 million, their offensively-challenged first baseman $16 million, and their oft-injured left-fielder (15 games in 2008) $7.5 million.  Additionally, Luis Castillo is at $6.25 million but should be more in the $2-2.5 million range; Scott Schoeneweis is at $3.6 million but should be in the minor leagues; and Orlando Hernandez, who will not pitch in 2008, is at $7 million.  This sort of spending is not just exorbitant—it’s illogical.

2. They players act like it’s a job, not a game: And they’re right.  Baseball is their job.  But we all have heard the annoyed fans cry a thousand times about how they’d gladly switch occupations with any player on the team, and that’s just the flat out truth.  Sure, their days are tough; traveling from coast to coast like the Mets have had to do this last three weeks would be rough on anyone.  But anytime that Carlos Beltran wants to come and teach my senior English class about existentialism and then come home and grade 140 essays about Hamlet’s procrastination, write lesson plans, grade tests, call parents, attend faculty/department/staff/adviser/board/and Middlestates meetings, I’d gladly switch and play center field for a day.  The point is, Reyes used to look like he was having fun.  David Wright used to smile when he played.  Now, it looks like they’re both tired and ready for the off-season after the first at-bat of every game.

3. They went nuts with free agents and trades: What drove me crazy about he Yankees was that they kept adding players that they didn’t need to their team.  They had a great core group of guys that were either home-grown or acquired as parts to fill in rather than superstars to dominate.  While Paul O’Neal and Scott Brosius weren’t original Yankees, they weren’t leaders of other teams brought over to stand like Nelson Muntz over Millhouse.  When the Yankees added Roger Clemens, I could live with that, even though they got rid of a guy who probably bled blue and white (David Wells).  But then it was Giambi, and Mussina, and … well, you know the list.

So now let’s look at what the Mets have done.  First there was Mike Piazza, but that was okay because he was the only real superstar they “bought.”  The other guys on the teams around him were all either home-grown or acquired in a way that wasn’t unfair. And when they tried to surround Piazza with “bought” talent (Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar, Jeromy Burnitz, Mike Hampton, etc), the teams imploded.  I thought they would have learned their lesson.  The payroll had skyrocketed to $117 million, and when Omar Minaya took over, he said he wanted to build a franchise like the Braves and keep it perpetually stocked to replace talent from within while supporting with talent from without.  But when Piazza was on his way out, in came Pedro and Beltran.  I justified this when it happened because again, they were guys who would be leaders and stand alone atop the leadership and accountability chain.  Plus, they were free agents and the Mets didn’t have to give anything up to acquire them.  But wait: then can Delgado and LoDuca and Castillo and now Santana and… will Mark Texieria play first base next year?  The point is, the Mets are doing exactly what the Yankees did after the 2001 World Series.   Where is Minaya’s plan to build a strong system?  The Mets are generally ranked among the three worst minor league systems in the whole of MLB; that doesn’t sound like a well-established plan to me.

4. The way they treated their manager: After they were eliminated from the playoffs last season, the Yankees basically said to Joe Torre: “We don’t care what you’ve done for us of the past dozen years; we’re going to leave you hanging for a while and let the press eat you alive and tear your life apart.”  I’ve made no secret of the fact that I never thought Joe Torre was a great manger, but the simple fact that the was around for so long should have at the very least warranted a more respectful and more private determination of his fate.  And when he walked away for their half-assed offer, I applauded him more than I ever had before.

So what exactly is happening to Willie Randolph right now?  He’s being left out to dry.  Every day some newspaper writes an article about “is this Willie’s last day?” or “will Omar/Wilpon fire Willie today?”  It’s gotten to be such a joke.  I’m not a fan of Willie Randolph at all.  Personally, I thought he should have been fired two years ago.  But to leave a guy who has been nothing but classy to face these ridiculous media whores ever day, to refuse to either support or fire the guy, that’s just wrong.  What is Omar thinking here?  Why doesn’t he just fire him or say that Willie is the manager for the duration???  Doing either one would have allowed this team to move on and try to put the distractions aside.  Instead, we’re faced every single day with the same old story.  This is a very classless move on the part of the Wilpons and Omar Minaya.

So ultimately, what conclusions can we draw from this?  I don’t know.  I either don’t know why I hate the Yankees, or I don’t know why I’m a Mets fan.  Both answers are painful, and both will cause me to lose a lot of sleep in the next few days, I’m sure.

I Wish I Weren’t a Mets Fan

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

So let’s get real. Today’s 12-1 bludgeoning of the Dodgers notwithstanding, this Mets team stinks. How many leads have dissipated over the past month? How many runners have been left on base? How few comebacks have there been? I can’t seem to remember any exciting, come from behind walk-off wins. Why? Because this team stinks. Let’s look around the field and I’ll show you.

  • Carlos Delgado: Do I really need to justify this? He has all of 25 hits despite the fact that he’s played in all but one game. ‘Nuff said.
  • Luis Castillo: My dislike of Castillo is well-documented on this website, and with good cause. The man just doesn’t hit. Just a couple years ago, he was one of the premier speedsters in the game; now, he hardly gets on base, as his .353 OBP demonstrates. More than that though, the man doesn’t know how to smile. He doesn’t look like he even wants to be on this team. I can deal with a slump, but I won’t root for a guy who doesn’t seem like he cares.
  • Jose Reyes: His 10 steals is indicative of one thing: he’s not getting on base! He has a .324 OPB, which is among the worst of all the NL leadoff hitters. He has 32 hits and just 14 walks, which are numbers that show that maybe we’re all “blinded by speed.”
  • David Wright: His defense has been great (we can attribute his 6 errors to a combination of crappy score-keepers, bad luck, and a less-than-strong arm), but that’s it. He started off hot and has dropped his average pretty consistently every week of the season. His 24 strikeouts are scary considering that he was once among the hardest players to whiff in the game. But what really bothers me about Wright is his hesitation to become the leader. We all know that it’s just a matter of time before he becomes the captain, and it seems like until then he’s planning on keeping quiet. The man needs to step it up and become the clubhouse leader; if he does that, I’ll forgive his declining numbers and write them off as a slump.
  • Carlos Beltran: He’s playing like a nervous rookie. He’s timid, he’s light-hitting, and he’s looking like he’d be sent down to AA if that were an option. But like Wright, I can deal with the poor numbers if he acts like he’s trying, like he cares. I know that we don’t see what happens behind the scenes, but I’ve not read one article, seen one interview, or heard one report about Wright or Beltran getting on teammates for not hustling or trying to get guys pumped up. We’d hear something from some source if any of that were happening.

I love Ryan Church because he looks like he’s having a blast, and that’s the type of player I want to watch. Billy Wager has been lights out, but that doesn’t matter; what matters is that HE CARES. He got angry and had his well-documented tirade about Oliver Perez and the slacker attitude that he has seen in the clubhouse. I LOVE that he cares. Moises Alou and Brian Schneider haven’t played enough to judge them, so I’ll withhold analysis for now.

The point of this is that the guys just don’t look like they are concerned, and that worries me. My brother, a Phillies fan, calls me every time the Phillies have a come-from-behind rally—he seems to call me every damn day! I want that sort of passion on the Mets. I want to be able to have confidence that, when they’re down by a few runs, the game isn’t over yet. I hate believing that they wave the white flag as soon as they fall behind. That’s just not fun to watch at all.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (though I hope I don’t have to): I won’t root for a team that doesn’t care.

F%*# You, Carlos Delgado

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Dear Carlos,

Coming in to today’s game, you were hitting .195.  You had all of two home runs and eleven RBI’s.  You were not contributing offensively at all, and your defense is below average at best.  You are coming off the worst season of your pro-career, and you have publically admitted as much on numerous occasions.  You were benched yesterday. Despite all of this, you are making $16,000,000.

I’m quite sure that if you were to examine your own stats without knowing that they were your own stats, you would surly think that the player should be sent to AAA.  To be among the highest paid players in the game, one would think you should at least be an “average” offensive player.

Carlos Delgado, you are NOT an average player.  The paycheck that you earn and the expectations that are thrust upon you ensure that you have superstar status, even if you no longer have superstar ability.

Today, you hit two home runs.  Today, you looked like you could actually earn your paycheck.  And today, the fans cheered for you like you were a triumphant emperor being carried home after a victory in a bloody foreign war.  And today, you told the fans to kiss your ass.

We wanted a curtain call, and you gave us the finger.  We wanted to cheer for you, and you had sex with our sister.  We wanted nothing short of a few seconds to embrace you, and you completely and utterly ignored us.

Sure, you’ve been booed.  Sure, you’ve been given a hard time. But quite frankly, you don’t even rank on the list of disappointing players who have felt the wrath of Mets fans.  Ask Bobby Bonilla, Vince Coleman, Braden Looper, Roberto Alomar, George Foster, Armando Benetiz, et.  They have a right to be bitter to the Shea fans.  YOU, Carlos, you do not.

So Carlos, today, when you chose to ignore the fans that wanted a curtain call, you may have stuck your foot in the door and served notice that someday very soon you will be on that list above, that list of players who will never be embraced by the fans. And for that, I say:

F%*# You, Carlos Delgado, F%*# You.