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2009 World Series: Ire & Whine

Monday, October 26th, 2009

 Here is a list of questions I’d rather answer than the one I’m going to tackle:

  • Who do you love more – your mom or your dad?
  • How would you prefer to die – by strangulation or gunshot wound?
  • Which of Lady GaGa’s ‘organs’ most attracts you?

An excruciating 2009 Major League Baseball season just got a whole lot tougher for us to deal with. The Hades Series featuring the Mets’ most loathsome rivals – the Yankees and Phillies; or if you prefer, the Stankies and Sillies, the Yank-Me’s and Philthies — is an affair that’ll extract equal parts vomit and ire from yours truly and presumably, most of the fanbase.

 “Who to root for?” has been something of a moral dilemma for fellow Mets fans. For others, the answer is unequivocal. I’m rooting for the Phillies and I’d like to tell you why, in personal and unadulterated fashion.

It’s Visceral

Rewind the tape to 1996. The thirteen year old version of me sat in eighth grade home room the morning of World Series Game 1. I was born a Mets fan, allegedly watching games on my father’s lap at age two, reciting the roster on command for friends and family at age four and watching every game of the baseball season from age six and on. I loved baseball and especially loved the Mets.  Throughout my childhood, however, none of my classmates shared either of those loves. I could not so much as mention the sport without being reminded that it was boring and not as entertaining as basketball or football.

With shock and awe, I watched four of my classmates walk in with Yankees caps on. When the visual set in, I became livid. I yelled at them in my pubescent teen girly voice. I told them they didn’t know a thing about baseball. I told them the Yankees were going to lose and that I would laugh in their faces when they did. I rooted against the Yankees for the first time. And I loved it. 

This Phillies hate is just too new. Victorino, Rollins, Brett Myers: all contemptible, but it’s just not deep-seeded enough. This rivalry really began in 2007. Personally, the last three years doesn’t outweigh the last thirteen, even if there are extra hate points for recent scarring.

“Jim E. Dimoni”

I’m not one to get bent out of shape about the Yankees payroll. As I covered last week with the Mets, a large payroll doesn’t guarantee anything. The real reasons why the Yankees have been more or less indomitable for the last decade-plus are that they have three freakish cornerstone players in Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. Two of the three have been elite at the toughest positions on the diamond and the other is the best relief pitcher of all time.  They’ve been great for so long and would be irreplaceable in the free agent market.

With that said, it’s a little tough to stomach the likes of Jon Heyman calling Brian Cashman the Executive of the Year. He signed the top two free agent pitchers and the best position player on the market to deals that exceeded the rate at which free agents were signing last off-season. Spending at or above-market rate in a buyer’s market is neither novel nor shrewd. Cashman did the job he had to do and just call it that. Remember, this is the same guy who traded good prospects for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte.

Hate Thy Neighbor

Philadelphia fans are generally difficult to deal with, boorish louts that behave badly and violently. For the purpose of this exercise, the most critical word in that last sentence is “Philadelphia”, as in that’s where they’re located.  They’re not in New York and you rarely have to deal with them – except for those of you in South Jersey. 

Yankees fans are entitled and arrogant, pompous and insufferable, trollish and annoying. It’d be somewhat – I stress, somewhat — gratifying to see the Yanks lose at the hands of a team that’s nettled the Mets for the last three seasons. Part of this is Schadenfreude. I want Yankees fans to hurt like we’ve hurt. Mainly, I’d just like them to shut up.

Maybe the Mets Could Learn Something*

Consider this: according to FanGraphs, the Mets’ core (Beltran, Reyes and Wright) was worth +18 and +20 wins above replacement (WAR) in the “collapse years” of 2007 and 2008 respectively; the Phillies’ core (Howard, Rollins and Utley) posted +19 and +16.7 in that same span. The two groups performed similarly; however, the Phillies fortified their stars with legitimate talent. The Phillies non-core players (not including pitchers) tallied +20 and +16.6 WAR in the “collapse years”, where the Mets non-complimentary talent was worth +11.4 and +10.8. That chasm more than bridged the nearly six win pitching edge (as per StatCorner) the Mets held in 2007 and cushioned the Phillies slight pitching advantage in 2008.

Maybe, just maybe, the Phillies rubbing a second consecutive World Series in the Mets’ faces will force the organization to reconsider their baseball operations. I realize that this sounds delusional, but it’s the only direct benefit either of these teams winning could have on the Mets.  A Yankees win would just be chalked up to a large payroll, but the similarities between the Phillies and Mets are real – same division, similar core, similar payroll. This team must realize the opportunities they’ve squandered over the last few years.

[*I must be fair and acknowledge that there’s a real possibility of the Mets learning the wrong thing from a Phillies win. That is, they’ll look to acquire “grit” instead of talent.] 

One Last Thing

I’m getting slightly annoyed with the way people are addressing this Yankees or Phillies conundrum. Who to root for is a matter of heart, so there’s no right or wrong answer. This doesn’t call for a movement or rally and nobody is “crazy” for thinking one way or another.  Simply put, it’s the worst possible outcome of a long, troublesome season.

The (enjoyable) demise of Steve Phillips

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

As a Mets fan when you hear a story like this, you have to chuckle. Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few days, I am sure most of you have heard that 46 yr old former Mets GM and current ESPN baseball analyst is in some hot water…more than he is with Mets fans due to his cheating ways. According to several media outlets, Phillips had an affair with a 22 yr old production assistant on ESPN over this past summer. Phillips, who consistently takes digs at the Mets organizations and its fans (as if he was fired for no reason) on his broadcasts got his “just desserts” when the young female pulled a “Fatal Attraction” on him. Reports are that the female hand-delivered a letter to Phillips wife at his ritzy Wilton, Connecticut home describing the affair, comments about Phillips children, and even Phillips anatomy. (This story would’ve gotten better only if she described how inadequate he is but I digress). Among the craziness done on to the Phillips family, the mistress Brooke Hundley, accessed Phillips son’s facebook page, texted, and phone his wife repeatedly saying both can’t be with him (is he that great?) and even crashed her car after delivering the letter. Phillips, who was canned from the Mets in 2003 has a history of cheating. In 1998, he was cited for having an affair with Mets employee Rosa Rodriguez and took a week long absence then while paying her off a handsome sum. ESPN has apparently done the same by suspending him for a week. If I was a guessing man, I would surmise that Phillips will be receiving a permenant suspension from his wife! F you Steve Phillips, what goes around comes around!

Money For Nothing

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Two weeks ago, during the “It Was All Luis Alicea’s Fault” Media Tour, Jeff Wilpon committed to a 2010 payroll in line with the $147M the team spent this season. To that, the average baseball fan says, “Mets fans are lucky! Their owners are willing to spend top dollar on talent.”  At the surface, there’s nothing wrong with that statement. Mets fans are lucky — and if given the choice between a high payroll and a low payroll, I’m taking the high one. In this case, unfortunately, $147M doesn’t buy what it used to (supposed to) and therein rests the primary failing of the Mets in 2009.

 The table below represents Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement (WAR) calculations for each Mets player.  To the right of the overall WAR column is the value of each player’s contributions on the open market (Fangraphs determined that a win is worth ~$4.5), their total salary according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts and the ‘Net’ value of that player’s contract to the team in 2009 (derived simply by subtracting the player salary from their value).

(more…)

The 2009 Mets: A Season to Forget

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

What strikes me about the caption is that I still have a VHS from the 86 Mets team when they won the World Series entitled “1986 Mets: A Year to Remember.” I imagine that’s the last good Mets team that we’ve seen. Aside from the 1988, 2000, and 2006 Mets that should have won the World Series; the 86 team was the last team to actually have won something. So where do we begin now that it is the end of a long, painful, injury ridden, heart-wrenching, headache-roaring season? We can start with what should have been…

 The season started off with a lot of promise and hope. Even SI deemed this team to win the World Series (or was that the kiss of death?). The team started off hot the first two months of the season with an incredible Month of May when they went 19-9 May and then the injury bug came. End result 70-92 and oh yeah….23 games behind the 1st place Phils (who by the way won the division crown for the 3rd straight year). Then the next injury came, and the next, and the next, and so on. If you forgot the Mets injuries this year, let me refresh your memory…

METS ON THE D-L IN 2009
4-5 Billy Wagner (Elbow)
4-5 Tim Redding (Shoulder)
4-5 Angel Pagan (Elbow)
4-17 Brian Schneider (Back)
5-7 Oliver Perez (Knee)
5-16 Carlos Delgado (Hip)
5-18 Alex Cora (Thumb)
5-26 Jose Reyes (Calf)
5-26 Ryan Church (Leg)
6-3 Ramon Martinez (Finger)
6-5 JJ Putz (Elbow)
6-12 John Maine (Shoulder)
6-22 Carlos Beltran (Knee)
7-9 Fernando Martinez (Knee)
7-20 Fernando Nieve (Leg)
7-25 Gary Sheffield (Leg)
8-6 Jon Niese (Leg)
8-17 David Wright (Head)

8-24 Johan Santana (elbow)

8-25 Jeff Francoeur (thumb)

8-26 Oliver Perez (knee…again)

 

Did I miss anything? If I did, I just finally stopped keeping track. I have never seen a team ravaged with such misfortune in my entire life. This team needs an overhaul and here is what needs to be done in 2010. There are three things that need immediate addressing and a 4th for honorable mention.

 

1. Starting Pitching: The Mets have an ace in Johan Santana. I can’t imagine Santana not bouncing back from his elbow injury and giving us a great season in 2010. He is a true warrior that would have played through bone chips provided his team was in contention. But after that, it gets a little suspect. The Mets have Ollie Perez for another 2 more seasons and at his age, he has proven that he can be effective (at times) and certainly worth another shot in the starting rotation…and besides who else is going to eat the other two years of his 12 million a year contract? You hope his injury was the reason for his diminished velocity and worse than normal poor control of his pitches. Third the Mets will probably tender the contract of John Maine making Maine as the #4 starter. If he can remain healthy and at 28 years old, whose to think anything different? That leaves the need for a #2 and #5 starter. Let’s get on the phone and bring in Roy Halladay. Clearly the Jays are going to be shopping him this off-season so why not to the Mets. There’s no one off limits as far as I am concerned except for Reyes and Wright. I also believe John Lackey is a free agent this season and is probably the most coveted out of all the pitching free agents. At 31 years old and with a pretty respectable pitching resume, he’s also near the top of my list. Rich Harden and Ben Sheets I believe are attainable as well…although both injury prone, both have immense talent. If Sheets (torn flexor tendon) can bounce back like Carpenter did from Tommy John, then it’s worth a shot at probably a low contract one year incentive laden deal.

 

2. 1st base: We all know that Daniel Murphy can not be our starting 1st baseman come 2010. I still can’t get over on sports talk radio how much Met fans love this guy so much and think that he can be their everyday 1st baseman. His OBP is .310, need I say more? Yes, he’s likable and seems to be playing hard but he’s pretty awful. He gets a nice spot on the bench if you ask me and as a pinch hitter late in a game. The big question is do you bring back Carlos Delgado? He’s 38 years old with a bad hip. His 2007 season was impressive .271 38 115 but can it translate two years later and in a bigger park? I’ve been hearing rumors that the Brewers are shopping Prince Fielder and any Mets fan would certainly love him to be their 2010 first baseman. The other free agents (LaRoche, Johnson, Branyan, and Blalock) are out there too but none really strike me as any better of an option then re-signing Delgado.

 

3. Left Field: Carl Crawford, Carl Crawford, Carl Crawford! Imagine Reyes and Crawford at the top of your line-up? Stolen bases galore, runs scored a-plenty. RBI chances for Wright and Beltran and 1st basemen-no name. If the Rays don’t pickup the club option of $10M for Crawford, he’s tops on my list. Jason Bay wouldn’t be a bad option either but I think the Sox will re-sign him. Willy Mo Pena and Garrett Anderson aren’t gonna cut it for this Mets fan.

4. (Honorable Mention) Catcher: The days of Brian Schneider are over and I believe Omir Santos has had his hey-day (that Sox walk-off against Papelbon in Boston). The Mets clearly need something fresh here. Victor Martinez is out there but will probably command some big money. So is Bengie Molina but he is aging and beat-up. I think this is the one position that the Mets can get someone who can actually platoon with Santos like Greg Zaun who won’t cost much to attain.

The Mets will probably pull off one good signing and one good trade this off season with this relatively poor free agent class. I wouldn’t break the bank on any one player and just hope this team can finish with 85 wins next season since the playoffs aren’t probably a reasonable expectation.

Being a Mets fan is just about the worst thing in the world

Friday, June 12th, 2009

That’s all I have to say.

Everybody go read this

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Rob Neyer pretty much sums up my feelings on this.  It feels like Mets fans keep thinking the sky is falling because of what comes down to one bad series against the Cardinals.  It hasn’t been great so far, but even good teams will have 6-9 stretches over the course of 162 games.  If Ollie, Maine, and Big Pelf have suddenly lost their ability to pitch in the majors simultaneously, that’s a problem, but the odds of all three of them becoming terrible major league pitchers this quickly is long.  The important thing, as Rob Neyer says, is to NOT PANIC.

April Showers

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

We’ve all heard the old adage “April Showers bring May flowers.” The hope is that all the damp, dreary, and awful weather brings out beautiful flowers soon after. Truth is, it is April and it sure seems like it rains a lot…and if your a Met fan, its absolutely pouring out! All of us just hope for better weather for the Mets. Right now, the Mets can’t get out of their own way this month and stand at a putrid 6-8 to start the season. The Nationals can’t get here soon enough!

Last night, John Maine was awful…again. He allowed 5 runs and left the game down 5-1. He walked 5 batters (three of them scoring runs). He left with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 6th inning and two outs and if Casey Fossum didn’t get a groundout, it would have been much worse for Maine. Right now the Mets 2-4 starters E.R.A. are pretty awful. Mike Pelfrey’s E.R.A. is 8.10 (thats our #2 folks), Ollie Perez E.R.A. is 7.80, and John Maine is sporting a 7.47 E.R.A.  Now you know why this team is 6-8 and in an evident tailspin. It angers me (more than usual) watching these games especially last night. The Mets once again had chances with RISP and only managed to score a total of 2 runs against Joel Piniero and nearly allowed him to pitch a complete game. Last I checked Joel Piniero s not Tim Lincecum. There is no reason whatsover this team could not manage a hit from the 4th inning to the 9th. If you were a sucker like me, you actually hung on the whole time and watched the entire game. The Mets made is somewhat interesting in the 9th when Wright hit a leadoff double. Delgado then grounded out. Beltran singled allowing Wright to score and now its 5-2. Church then popped up. Now is where I play Monday morning quarterbacking because the Mets should have pinch hit Jeremy Reed for Castro and hoped he would have gotten on base to give Sheff a chance to tie the game. Instead Jerry uses Sheff to bat with Beltran on to face closer Ryan Franklin. Sheff, at best, could have made it 5-4. Instead, he grounds out softly to end the game. Another Met loss, another Met fan second-guessining Jerry’s moves. Another Met fan staring out the window wondering when the rain will stop

R.I.P. Harry Kalas

Monday, April 13th, 2009

We here at BlueAndOrange.net send our deepest condolences to Phillies fans for the loss of Harry Kalas today.  I’ve always admired the way he called a baseball game and his narrations for NFL Films, and he will be missed, even by Mets fans.

Top Offensive Seasons In Mets History will return this week

Monday, December 8th, 2008

With the Winter Meetings starting today, I am going to hold off on starting on the shortstops list until after they have concluded.  I think it’s a safe bet that the Mets will do something in the next four days.  Keep an eye out.

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.