Archive for the ‘2009 Season’ Category

Enough of the bunting!

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

I have never really hidden my dislike of Willie Randolph here on this site.  I was not a fan of his moves, particularly his bullpen decisions, which often seemed ill thought out and not creative.  He was also an amazingly dull postgame press conference, with one tired cliche after another, contempt for anybody who dare question his questionable baseball decisions, and an undeserved arrogance.  He hated playing rookies, and probably deserves a lion’s share of the blame that led to Heath Bell being given away after the 2006 season.  I thought he should have been fired after 2007, and was vindicated when he struggled so mightily to start the 2008 season, with the team taking off immediately after he was fired.  Good riddance. 

I welcomed the change to Jerry Manuel.  His postgame press conferences were entertaining, and he rarely seemed to make the wrong decision in games.  Sure, the bullpen didn’t work any better for him than it did for Willie, but he did the best with what he had, and he had nothing.  Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans were given the chance to shine, where they would have been buried by Willie.  It was a looser atmosphere, a better atmosphere, and I felt that a presense like Jerry Manuel made Mets games more fun to watch in a purely non-baseball sense.

That said, the American Gangsta has been making decisions that have been driving me crazy as of late.  The most egregious example is his love of the bunt.  Despite what you have been taught to believe, bunting is bad baseball.  Sure, it makes sense for pitchers to sacrifice; they probably aren’t going to get on base anyway, so the sacrifice bunt sort of makes sense.  And sacrificing as the home team in the 9th inning or later of tie games also makes sense, since you’re only playing for one run; moving the runner to second base and hoping one of your next two hitters can get a single is good baseball.

But sacrificing with position players in the top of the ninth of a one run game?  That is not good baseball.  If you play to score one run, you will only score one run.  Last night was a perfect example.  In the 9th inning, on the road, the Mets had a one run lead and Jose Reyes was on first with a single, with Murphy coming up to bat.  What sense does it make to take the bat out of the hands of Daniel Murphy, a guy who is pretty clearly only on the major league team right now because of his ability to hit?  Wouldn’t you rather try to have him advance the runner on a single, or even score Reyes from first with a nicely placed double?  Even a walk puts two on and nobody out.  Why give up the out there?  Outs are the most precious commodity in baseball; as long as you have outs, you have a chance to score.  To give up an out in that spot makes no sense.

And don’t let the outcome fool you into thinking it was the right decision.  If anything, the outcome proves my point.  Chipper Jones had Jose Reyes dead to rights at second base; the sacrifice attempt had failed.  The Mets were bailed out by Chipper throwing the ball away, and then by Yunel Escobar deciding not to cover second after the throw sailed into the outfield.  The outcome was Murphy and Reyes standing on second and third with nobody out, the same outcome that could have been achieved by not taking the bat out of Murphy’s hand and letting him hit there.  Nine times out of ten, the fielder makes that play cleanly and the batter is out.  It was pure luck that Reyes and Murphy were both safe on that play, and it turned out to be doubly lucky for the Mets, as they needed both Reyes and Murphy to score in order to win the ballgame.

My problem with bunting with position players in this spot (and I’m not harping on something that has only happened one time; Manuel has called for the bunt with every position player not named Wright, Beltran, and Delgado this year) is run expectation.  Take a look at this run expectation chart.  Looking at 2008 stats, a team with a runner on first and no outs would be expected to score roughly 0.90024 runs in that inning.  A runner on second and one out would be expected to score roughly 0.69465.  A sacrifice bunt COSTS teams runs, because the fewer outs a team has, the more likely a team is to score.  By giving away an out, a team is making it less likely to score, even with the runner being 180 feet from home plate instead of 270 feet.  A runner on first with no outs is more valuable than a runner on second with one out; teams should be looking for ways to not make outs in that spot, rather than giving them away.

The Mets were ready, willing, and able to give away their chances of having a big inning in the top of the ninth so that they could maybe score one run.  After the disaster that was the bottom of the ninth, this could have cost the Mets the game.  Mets fans may not particularly like Chipper Jones, but they should make sure to thank him for winning this game for the Mets with his error (although, it doesn’t make up for the dozens of times he has beaten them). 

As for Jerry Manuel, the bunting is starting to sour me on him.  He’s still an engaging personality, and he seems to get the bullpen better than Willie, but as long as he’s bunting with position players who should be allowed to handle the bat, that is going to drive me crazy.  Daniel Murphy is in the major leagues literally for no other reason than his bat.  If you are relegating him to a pitcher in that instance, what purpose does he serve?  Let these guys hit!

Why I hate Mets fans

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Now, I realize writing a column called “Why I hate Mets fans” on a blog about the New York Mets may seem, well, stupid.  I myself must be a Mets fan, right?  So do I hate myself?  What’s up with this?

I have just reached a breaking point with Mets fans.  It started last year, when Shea Stadium became at times a very unpleasant place to play.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t for the road team, but the home team, which was often lustily booed for the smallest of miscues.  Never mind the fact that the 2008 Mets won 48 games at home, good for almost 60% of their home games.  But the team got off to a lousy start, and coming off of the collapse of 2007, this was unacceptable.  Even players like Aaron Heilman, who were admittedly lousy, deserved more leeway than what they received (by the way, Heilman pitched hurt the entire year and, now healthy, has gotten off to a great start in Chicago).

Fast forward to April 2009.  The Mets are off to another slow start.  This slow start has come after the second straight late-season collapse, so Mets fans seem even testier than usual.  Of course, we’re talking about a sample size of 21 games, or roughly 13% of the long season.  It’s the equivalent of giving up on an NFL team after 2 games after a 1-1 start, or giving up on an NBA or NHL team after 11 games after a 5-6 start.  This is a very, very small part of the schedule, with a lot of baseball left to play.

And yet, Mets fans with an undeserved sense of entitlement are now filling Citi Field with boos for the team’s best player, the face of the franchise, David Wright.  It’s bad enough booing fringe players who aren’t any good; I’ve never understood the point of booing your own team unless they demonstrate a noticable lack of effort.  You do not boo your team’s best player, ever, period.  That is just classless and it embarrasses me as a fan of the Mets.  David Wright may be the best player that has ever come through the Mets’ minor league system, a franchise cornerstone the likes of which this team has never seen before.  You do not boo that player.  If you boo that player, you are saying, “I don’t care about the great things that you have done in the past, you just struck out in this largely meaningless game and you are an asshole!”

David Wright isn’t playing to his full potential; I would be foolish to say otherwise.  That said, I wouldn’t say he has been actively bad; he’s hitting .280 with a .372 on base percentage and a .390 slugging percentage.  His power is way down, which is where the problem lies.  We can’t even blame that on Citi Field, because four of his six extra base hits have been at home.  He’s not making outs at a high rate, which is a very good thing.  His “clutch” stats don’t look like much right now, but despite foolhardy sports talk radio hosts and newspaper writers who say otherwise, Wright has always been a fine player in the clutch, as good or even a little bit better in those situations than in meaningless ones.  The problem is, folks tend to remember the failures much more than the successes, and that game against the Cubs with the tying run at third and nobody out still runs through the heads of many fans.

It’s this reactionary BS that has caused a rift between me and a large segment of the Mets fanbase.  I’m not doing a jig over the slow start, but I’m not losing my mind over it, either.  This is a good team.  David Wright is a good baseball player.  So is Carlos Beltran.  So are Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, Ryan Church, Daniel Murphy…even Luis Castillo is playing well at the moment.  Johan Santana is the best pitcher in baseball right now.  While John Maine, Mike Pelfrey, and even Oliver Perez are not pitching well, they aren’t so old or far enough removed from good seasons to where we shouldn’t expect them to get better.  I’m not making excuses for the team at all, I just think this has been a bad month and they will rebound and play better ball; there is too much talent for them not to do so.

Yet the negativity that surrounds this team makes me sick.  It’s like the perfect storm; take Mets fans living in the shadow of the latest Yankee dynasty, throw in a rabid New York media all-too-willing to throw gasoline on a fire to sell a few newspapers or radio ads, and add back-to-back heartbreaking ends to the season, and it seems that Mets fans have been pushed up to a new level of insanity.  Honestly, it’s embarrassing.  There are good, passionate fans out there, but they seem to be getting yelled over by the knuckleheads who just want to hate.  All that does is make Mets fans look like the worst fans in baseball, a fanbase that doesn’t deserve to witness a championship team, and a fanbase who no player in their right mind would want to play for.  It makes me feel embarrassed to wear my Mets jerseys, because I don’t want to be lumped in that segment of Mets fans.

It’s these sort of slow starts where Mets fans become obsessed with things that just don’t quantitatively help win ballgames, like hustle and grit.  Do people really think that the superstars on this team don’t hustle?  Jose Reyes had his issues with hustle last year, but Jerry Manuel nipped those in the bud and now I rarely, if ever, notice him failing to run out a ground ball.  Mets fans want to try to figure out a reason why so much talent isn’t winning, with answers ranging to “the team has too much talent – who’s going to bunt guys over???” to “this team doesn’t care if they win or lose!!!!” both of which seem absurd when you really think about them. 

How did the Mets manage to find not one, not two, but twenty-five separate guys who don’t care if they win or lose all at once?  What are the odds of that even happening?  You don’t become an elite, major league caliber talent without a drive to win every single game; lack of effort tends to weed players out by the major league level, if not shortly thereafter.  As for “too much talent,” that’s ridiculous.  The team hasn’t been losing because of a lack of sacrifice bunting; heck, Jerry Manuel has already bunted far more than I’m comfortable with, since I hate one-run strategies.  Trust me, in the annals of baseball lore, there has never, ever been a problem with teams having too much talent.  Ask fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates or Kansas City Royals if they’d rather have too much talent or no talent; those guys are all a bunch of scrappers because most of their players stink.

There’s basically one reason why this team isn’t winning ballgames right now; the starting pitching after Johan Santana stinks.  John Maine is the only starter with two quality starts.  Oliver Perez has been dreadful, Livan Hernandez is utterly finished, and Mike Pelfrey is struggling through injury and command issues.  Hopefully, this will improve, because the offense has been largely very good so far.  But that’s the reason.  The hitting has been good, the bullpen has been largely good (although I am concerned about Putz’s velocity and strikeouts both being down).  The starting pitching has stunk.  At some point, either Ollie, Maine, and Big Pelf are going to have to get better, or changes are going to have to be made.  Simple as that.

To answer my above question, no, I do not hate myself.  But it’s hard to consider myself a fan of the New York Mets when so many Mets fans are letting negativity run their perception of this ballclub.  I haven’t been happy about the way they have performed, but I have not once thought of booing another player on this team, and if I was going to start (after smacking myself in the head with a hammer a few times), I don’t think I’d start with David Wright.  He’s done too much for this ballclub to be deserving of such treatment.  I may be a fan of the Mets, but I’m no Mets fan.  If you’re content to boo the team’s stars because of your own frustrations with the team, then feel free to call yourself a Mets fan.  Just know you make those of us who don’t wish to be party to such negativity hang our heads in shame for being associated with the likes of you.

Some thoughts on Citi Field

Monday, April 27th, 2009

So yesterday, Joeadig and I hit our first game ever at “the Mets’ new home of Amazin’,” Citi Field.  Unfortunately, the game we chose happened to see the Mets suffer the worst loss in the young history of the new ballpark, an 8-1 defeat at the hands of the lowly Washington Nationals, as Oliver Perez looks more and more like this year’s Luis Castillo.  But we can talk about on-field matters another day…here is one man’s opinion of Citi Field:

The Jackie Robinson Rotunda

I like it – it gives Mets fans something that Shea Stadium lacked, which is a true universal gate for people to meet with friends to head on out to the game.  It’s at the most convenient of locations, right off of the subway platform, and it has access to all levels, so it’s easy to get where you need to go fast from this entrance point.  The homages to Jackie Robinson were nice, although I will admit I didn’t really look at them particularly closely.  I hope this serves as a place for young fans throughout the life of the ballpark to learn more about how great Jackie Robinson was and how important he was.

The Mets Dugout Shop

I will admit – I was a bit underwhelmed.  It’s huge, but I didn’t really see anything I felt like I had to get; nothing stood out to me as particularly must-buy, and considering this was my first time in the ballpark and I was in a spending mood, this was disappointing.  Some of this stuff was insane – they had an autographed Wally Backman jersey available for the low, low price of $1,000.  Who the heck likes Wally Backman that much that they have to spend $1,000 to get his autographed jersey?  They also had a rack of jerseys featuring Mets no longer on the team (Heilman, Schoeneweis, Cancel, even Ken Oberfell in case anybody wanted the jersey of the 2008 second half Mets first base coach), but these didn’t appear to be marked down so the cost of owning that Gustavo Molina jersey was still $250.  Interestingly, Pedro Feliciano’s jersey was on the rack, even though he is not yet a former Met.

The Pepsi Porch

Joe and I sat first row in the Pepsi Porch area right next to the foul pole, first row.  I believe there is even a picture of the two of us posing next to the foul pole that perhaps one day we can show off over here.  I enjoyed these seats quite a bit, even if the odds of us actually getting these seats again in our lifetimes are quite low.  You get a really good view of the field of play itself.  There was a foul ball that went to the section below us, and I thought we had an interesting viewpoint from where we sat of the projectory of the ball.  I would definitely sit in that area again, although I do want to check out some of the other areas of the ballpark to see what they have to offer.  The only low point; the only beer option I saw in that area was Coors Light, which is a terrible beer.

The Outfield Plaza

This is where you’re going to find your high-end food options…having walked around the stadium, the stands between the dugouts are pretty generic, your usual dogs, burgers, fries, and chicken fingers.  In the outfield, you’ll find the World’s Fare area with the various tastes of New York, the Danny Meyer eateries, the Catch of the Day stand, and other tasty options.  I decided to go with Blue Smoke and the pulled pork sandwich, while also trying the Box Frittes with the chipotle garlic dipping sauce.  I enjoyed both quite a bit, although the pulled pork was a little dryer than I like (I only saw the freefloating BBQ stand with the extra sauce afterwards).  Joe had the taco combo from the taco stand, and enjoyed the chicken and steak options, but did not like the fish and didn’t feel full after eating his tacos.  I did think the pork sandwich was a little on the small side for $9, but it was still really good.

The Bullpen Plaza

Joe and I checked out this area after the Mets game got out of hand.  We had our picture taken in front of the apple, another picture that will hopefully will make its way to the site one day.  We didn’t stay long, so we didn’t really get to interact with the Nationals pitchers in the bullpen, and after our discussion of Doc Gooden last week, I decided not to reopen that can of worms by looking at the signed autograph wall with Joe (I will have to check that out another time).  I’d like to sit in the Mo Zone for a game at some point, but I didn’t really investigate that much during the game.

Overall Impressions

I do think there was a cookie cutter aspect to the park, but ever since they showed the first designs of the ballpark, I have kind of expected that.  To be honest, ever since Camden Yards, every new ballpark has had that same basic blueprint (in fact, I’m pretty sure Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia is a brick for brick replica of Camden Yards).  That didn’t bother me much at all.  At this point, that’s just the direction new baseball park construction has taken.  It’s good for the teams, good for the fans of the teams, bad for the taxpayer who doesn’t give a crap about the teams (and not particularly great for the taxpayer that does, either). 

As far as fan experience goes, it’s a better place to watch a game than Shea, though I do wish they had tried to figure out ways to get more fans into the ballpark.  Obviously, I will be back again, and again, and again, and I will try other food options (the Shake Shack line was insane), check out parts of the ballpark I haven’t, sit in other seats, and have other experiences.  Before, Mets fans had really three basic experiences; left field, right field, and bleachers, with various degrees of length from those areas.  Citi Field gives you different looks, and I like that, it will be a year or two before I’ve seen everything there is to see about Citi Field.

I do think we will see more Mets stuff as the years progress, which seems to be a major complaint from other fans.  I didn’t really notice or care much, to be honest.  To me, I’ve always preferred a more subtle approach; I don’t need the Mets to beat over my heads when I enter the ballpark that this is the Mets’ home, like other teams seem to do.  Shea never had to beat that over your head, either; other than the big banners near the various ramps leading you to and from the seating areas, where was the collection of Mets things there?  I know it’s the home of the Mets, because that’s where the Mets play 81 games a year, and because what other ballpark has a giant Mets apple sticking out of a top hat?  Mets fans need to stop having an inferiority complex about these things.

I’ve stated before that I’m a pretty big Shea diehard, and how I was sad to see it go, and how I even didn’t want to see it go.  I still think the team could have given it a better go with Shea than it did, but I’m not going to harp on it, either.  Shea is gone, I’m sad it’s gone, and though it was flawed, I loved it.  That said, Citi Field is a better place to see a baseball game.  Is it an $800 million better place to see a game than Shea Stadium?  I guess that’s not for me to say, but Citi Field is an enjoyable place to watch baseball and to watch the Mets.  Now, we just need to bring some good history into the new ballpark, some new signature moments that Mets fans will remember fondly, much like our great memories of Shea!

It’s been seven games, guys

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Mets fans are not taking this mediocre start well.  I guess after last year’s poor start, and after the way the last two years have ended, it is somewhat understandable, but it seems that the overreaction to this poor start is even worse than in years past.  This morning, MetsBlog posted a note from the New York Post that Omar Minaya will have some payroll flexibility this season to make an acquisition should he need to do so (probably at the trading deadline), along with a list of players who may be available at the trade deadline.  So what’s the topic of conversation on my way to work today on WFAN?  Joe Beningo and Evan Roberts discussing ways for the Mets to bring Roy Halladay to New York!

I mean, can we please relax for a minute?  Not even bringing up the reasons why a Roy Halladay trade is unrealistic (the Mets won’t take on that much salary, it would require completely emptying the farm system to acquire him, he’s 32 years old and about to leave his prime, etc)…I mean, it’s only April guys.  I alluded to this in Travis’ post below, but we’ve played 7 games.  That’s like 4.3% of the schedule so far.  That’s absolutely nothing.  Would I like to see them with a better record?  Sure, but…I mean, as I mentioned yesterday, 3 of their 4 losses came on an outfield error, a bloop, and a balk.  Is this anything to get upset about?  Is that anything to worry about?  No.

The most underperforming players on the team so far have been Mike Pelfrey (who has forearm tendinitis) and Oliver Perez (who is Oliver Perez).  Everybody else is playing mostly well.  The problem has been the fickle hand of luck so far, which should solve itself over the remaining 155 games.  The Mets will surely win more than a few games they did not deserve to win, much as they lost a few games early on that they probably did not deserve to lose.  Everybody needs to settle down and relax and try to keep the season in perspective.  This is a good team, and things are going to be fine.  They do not have to trade the entire farm system, plus their starting left fielder, to acquire Roy Halladay, even if he would be a nice addition to the team.  Just relax.

The Mets Open up at Citi Field Their First Big Game

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

After the Mets had dropped 3 of their last 4 games (all on the road), it is safe to say that the Met players and Met fans all were looking forward to coming home and this was a BIG GAME. The Mets brought out all the bells and whistles to open up Citi Field. They brought back stars like Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, Rusty Staub, and John Franco. They also brought back the tandem of Mike Piazza and Tom Seaver to throw out the first pitch just as they did to close out Shea Stadium last September. There was excitement at the ballpark and for those watching at home (or at the bowling alley). But it all came crashing down…quick…in typical Mets fashion.

 Mike Pelfrey was once again ineffective giving up 5 runs in 5 innings and giving up a leadoff homerun to obscure Jody Gerut on the third pitch of the game. Granted, the Mets did make a comeback when David Wright cracked a 3-2 pitch off of ex-Mexican league starter Walter Silva over the left field wall tying the game and making the 41,000+ in attendance shake the new foundation. But in typical Mets fashion, they could not finish the job as ex-Mets Duaner Sanchez (whose Met uniform could still be in the laundry its been so quick) held on in the 8th inning and Heath Bell closed them out in the 9th. A fitting end to a team that really can not win the big game.

 This game angered me in a lot of ways. The ineffectiveness of Pelfrey (again), the balk by Feliciano after he got 2 outs with a man on third, and the dropped ball by Mr. Concussion 2008- Ryan Church. This was a nationally televised game on ESPN. Heck, they even held Baseball Tonite there after the game. I am sure Steve Phillips was laughing to himself no matter what (fake) good things has to say about the Mets. This is a game you have to win. This is the San Diego Padres 2009. Not San Diego Padress 1998. I don’t care what their record says (6-2 if you were asking) but they stink. Beyond Jake Peavy and Adrian Gonzalez they are nothing and yet they are the ones celebrating after the game. Sound strikingly familiar? Yes, because the Padres looked a lot like the Marlins did the last 2 seasons…raining on the Mets parades in a historic game.

 There were some good things to take from this game. Reyes tried to leg a single to center field into a double and would have been safe provided he could have put the brakes on the jets a second sooner. I liked that Wright, who has been heavily criticized the first week of the season (yours truly no exception), hit a huge 3 run clutch HR and made the place erupt- the first Met regular season HR of Citi Field. I was again impressed with Putz and K-Rod who really seem to be the only 2 guys in the bullpen that can get outs provided they can actually get a lead.

 

So for all the excitement that this new ballpark brought to Met fans last nite with the singing of the National Anthem by the cast of West Side Story, the first pitch by Seaver (a strike I might add) to Piazza, the glamour of past Met greats in attendance, and the feeling of a sold out crowd in attendance; it all went to nothing as this team once again showed you that they can not win the BIG GAME.

The Mets First Road Trip

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

So here they are your 2009 New York Mets about to pop open the champagne bottles and christen beautiful Citi Field tomorrow evening after a stellar road trip and leading the NL East…right? Wrong! After a mediocre .500 start against lowly Cincinati and Florida, there is not that much to be proud about. The Mets are 3-3 after 6 games into the season sitting smack in the middle of the NL East. This team lost 2 of 3 to a Marlins team that has approximately $100 million dollar payroll LESS than they do. The sad part about this series is the 2 losses were games the Mets could have won. Friday night’s 5-4 loss in the bottom of the 9th was tough especially after they had come back off of closer Matt Lindstrom to tie it at 4-4 when bench player Jeremy Reed came up with a huge 2-out RBI single. Most Met fans like myself actually thought this was going to be a battle of bullpens where the Mets had a clear edge. However, it would not be the case as Darren O’Day gave up the game-ending single to Jorge Cantu scoring Emilio Bonafacio (who sure as heck in making his case for front-runner of NL ROY). And to today…(sigh)…this one hurt. Johan Santana goes out there and pitches 7 innings of 3 hit and 13 strikeout ball and loses due to an error by Daniel Murphy. Well that and Josh Johnson was basically unhittable the first 8 innings. In the 9th, the Mets excited you again when Delgado doubled with 2 out, followed by a Beltran RBI single making it 2-1. Then Johnson falls behind Church 3-0 before he lines out. Before you know it, your on the plane back to Queens (a somber plane ride I am sure) and carrying a mediocre 3-3 record. What went wrong?

I found one main thing that was wrong with this team during this series and through the first 6 games overall. LACK OF HITTING WITH RISP!!! Friday night they were 0-12. Today, they weren’t much better. There were opportunities today (although not many) to crack through. If the Mets intend to be a contender in the National League and have playoff aspirations, their big stars like David Wright (whom I find most guilty on this list) and Jose Reyes need to come up with the big hits. I can’t take another year of Wright batting .243 with RISP again. Hopefully playing an awful San Diego Padres team the next 3 games (without having to face Peavy) will give this team exactly what they need…a shot in the arm to kickstart their season. For now, we can not get too worried because the season is only a week old but if your a Mets fan, your used to worrying anyway.

TJV101’s 2009 Predictions and Comments

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

METS QUESTIONS 

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

I believe so. They fixed their one big overall problem…their ‘pen. When your bullpen blows 29 of 72 leads, there is a good chance your not making the playoffs! The Mets have fixed this with Putz and K-Rod. I believe this team is as good offensively as the Phils if not better. The Mets beat the Phils 10 out of 17 times they faced each other last year. Thats not just good luck folks. Their ‘pen blew several others against them. This is the NL East Division champ folks.

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

Shall we start by holding leads for a change! Putz and K-Rod aren’t gonna be perfect through the season but they certainly are gonna be better than Sho and Wagner/Ayala in the 8th and 9th inning.

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

I like a lot about Jerry Manuel. First off, he’s very relaxed all the time. He knows his team is good and him radiating confidence during his press conferences and his throughout his general demeanor make you a little less worried that General Willie. I think he will lead this team to the division crown.

Will the Mets regret not upgrading in the outfield corners?

Well they did upgrade with the Sheffield acquisition the weekend before the season started. This should push Church and Murphy to play better knowing that a Hall of Famer is knocking on their outfield starter’s position door (more so Church).

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

I am ok with Livan Hernanedez in this spot. We all know he is an innings eater and when healthy can give you 200+ innings. He will have an ERA around 5 all season so don’t expect him to be pretty out there, but with this offense, he should be able to keep the Mets in games. I wasn’t against re-signing Pedro for an incentive laden contract, but apparently he didn’t want that. I guess the $52 million he took for the 1.5 years worth of work he did for his 4 year contract was ok for him.

What do you think about the Mets bench?

The Mets bench is a little shaky. Marlon Anderson is not effective anymore nor is Alex Cora. Fernando Tatis had a surprisingly good season last year so there is hope for him. Adding Sheffield was a big help whether he is effective or not. He can still hit and will strike fear in pitchers on his reputation alone.

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

Jose Reyes

I see Reyes having another good season. I think it is fair to say he can bat .300, hit 15 HR’s, drive in 75 RBI’s and steal more than 56 bases this year. I expect Reyes to steal close to 80 this year and help catapult this team to early 1st inning runs.

Luis Castillo

With all the talk about Castillo losing weight, he clearly should be healthier and more productive. The days of him batting .300 are over but he should serve as a decent 2nd basement and a respectable 8th hitter.

David Wright

I kinda agree with Joe here that I feel Wright might not be as productive as seasons past. I think his HR’s will be down (mainly due to Citi Field) and expect 25 from him and drive in around 100 RBI’s. He will bat around .300 but will give his usual hot and cold streaks. Let’s hope he hits better with RISP than he did last season.

Carlos Delgado

Delgado is back! After an awesome second-half of last season and an very good WBC and spring training this year, Delgado will come out swinging. He looks more confident up there than last year and doesn’t seem as anxious to swing at so many bad pitches. I think he will serve as a good cleanup hitter and give his usual .270 avg and hit about 32 HR’s and have 110 RBI’s.

Carlos Beltran

I think this is the year Beltran hits .300! He will drive in a ton of runs mostly with singles and doubles. I don’t think he will hit as many HR’s as last season (I believe he hit 27). This core of the lineup will score a ton of runs just like last season.

Ryan Church

Church should play more than last season mostly because he is not plagued this season with concussions. I do expect him to serve as a decent 6th batter in the lineup and provide good defense with a cannon arm.

Daniel Murphy

This guy is the big question mark for me. We all know the Mets organization is very high on him. My goodness, he’s guaranteed his left field job and sandwiched between Reyes and Wright. I hope all this confidence in him pays off. If he is as good as they hope he is, expect him to hit close to .300 and have about 170 hits.

Brian Schneider

Do we even care about this position? We all know Schneider is there purely for his glove and arm. He’s not Russ Martin or Joe Mauer though with his bat so don’t expect much production.

Johan Santana

Our ace of the squad had an awesome season last year and his bullpen blew 7 leads for him. He should have won the Cy Young Award if the pen would’ve held on to half of those. Its not out of reach for this guy to get 20 wins, strike out 200+, and have a sub 3 ERA. Here’s your NL Cy Young Winner folks!

John Maine

I think the 2-4 starters are all shaky and will start off poorly. I expect Maine to finally get it going in June when he gets more comfortable with his mechanics. He wasn’t pretty duiring the Spring. 12 wins would be more than fair to expect.

Oliver Perez

After Ollie signed his new contract with the Mets, he looked mostly terrible in the spring and blamed it on the WBC for him being behind his schedule. I am concerned about his velocity being down but just hope its the fact that he hasn’t thrown all that much. Ollie is too good of a pitcher to stay bad for too long. If he is starting a game, make sure to pack some Rolaids. His usual 180 K’s and 14 wins would be pretty acceptable for Met fans. He will surely have his fair share of 2 inning starts where he walks the ballpark!

Mike Pelfrey

Pelf looked pretty darn good towards the 2nd half of last season. The Mets are hoping he is not a slow starter and think fairly high of him to be the 2nd starter in the rotation. I would like to see Big Pelf throw another 200 innings and strike out more than the measly 110 he did last season. He really needs to add another pitch to his arsenal and he’s not really that groundball pitcher we expected.

Pedro Feliciano

7th inning lefty specialist. Well he’s the only left in the pen right now so lets hope he can do this right. I have always liked Feliciano even in big games. He would’ve been one of the relievers I would’ve kept from last season so I am pleased the Mets did just that.

THE REST OF BASEBALL:

Home Run Leaders
AL- Josh Hamilton (40)
NL- Ryan Howard (46)

Batting Champs
AL- Magglio Ordonez (.340)
NL- Albert Pujols (.347)

Stolen Base Leaders
AL- Carl Crawford (48)
NL- Jose Reyes (78)

Teams That Will Surprise
NL- San Francisco Giants. (Even with a putrid offense those starters will help them win games) 80-82
AL- Oakland A’s (Adding Giambi and Matt Holiday) will boslter their offense. Maybe even Nomar can stay healthy! 80-82

Teams That Will Disappoint
AL- Tampa Bay Rays (after an awesome eye-opening AL pennant winning last season, I don’t even think this ballclub will make the playoffs. Boston and NYY are just too strong with both of those teams grabbing the division and Wild Card. They basically have the same team as last season and even added Burrell, but the Sox and Yanks will beat them out head to head. 87 Wins.
NL- Milwaukee Brewers. Brewers fan can be joyous for their one season of making the playoffs in the last 25 or so years. That was it. Losing Sabathia and Sheets will do just that

MVP
AL- Josh Hamilton .333 40 130
NL- Albert Pujols (again) .347 42 129 (plus he’s healthy this season which is scary)

Cy Young Award
AL- CC Sabathia
NL- Johan Santana

Rookie of the Year
AL- Matt Wieters (Baltimore Orioles). The Rays teased us last season with keeping Longoria off the major league roster for the 1st month of the season. Then he proceeded to tear it up as soon as he came up plus not to mention he has an awesome glove. The O’s are doing the same thing with Wieters. Greg Zaun won’t be around very long.
NL- Cameron Maybin (Florida Marlins). This guy’s a 5-tool talent. Plus no one else really is that good.

Playoffs (LDS, LCS, and World Series predictions)

LDS:
Boston over White Sox
Yankees over Angels
Mets over Dodgers
Cubs over Phillies

LCS:
Yankees over Boston

Cubs over Mets

WORLD SERIES:
CUBS over Yankees in 6

(Note from Cox: I am happy to announce that TJV101 will now be writing for BlueAndOrange.net, effective immediately.  You may be familiar with TJV101 from the comments section, but I feel he can be a very positive contributor to the website and we are all happy to have him on board!)

God damn, that game nearly killed me

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

(Programming Note: I’m not going to do game recaps after every game, not that I had been doing them the past two years anyway. Basically, when I have something to say about a game, I’m going to say it.)

You know, I thought we were done with games like this?  Isn’t this why Omar and company spent approximately eleventy billion dollars to rebuild the bullpen and get rid of most of the assholes who made last year so heartbreaking?  Weren’t five run leads not supposed to be eroded away, to the point where a mere single would have tied the ballgame?  Aren’t we supposed to be past this?  I mean…last year, the Phillies went 162 games, plus the playoffs, without blowing a single lead in the 9th inning.  Couldn’t we go longer than two games?

Well, the answer was yes.  But damn if it wasn’t pretty.  And where did it start?  Of course, with the one member of last year’s bullpen the Mets did bring back, Pedro Feliciano.  Look, I wasn’t against bringing Feliciano back.  If you told me they had to keep one of either him or Schoeneweis, I’d say bring Feliciano back in a heartbeat.  But of all the noted “crossover guys” in this year’s bullpen, Feliciano isn’t one of them.  He suddenly and inexplicably lost his ability to retire right handed hitters.  He should not be pitching to right handers, especially with runners on base.  Seeing him come in and immediately give back one of the Mets’ four insurance runs from the previous inning brought back bad memories.

You can’t hang everything on Feliciano, though.  Sean Green came in and allowed the first of his inherited runners to score, although he came in to a rough spot.  No worries; the score is still 9-6, and the Mets have a killer back end of the bullpen, right?  But then JJ Putz allowed Willy Tavares to get an extra base hit, never a good sign, and he scored on a sac fly.  And then there was that ninth inning.

Good lord, that ninth inning.  I was not ready for this.  It’s been a long time since last season, but not long enough since experiencing a game like that.  Between the god-awful call by the umpire at first base, the walks, and everything else…man, I was dying.  All thoughts went back to 2008, proving that those scars are not going away anytime soon.  I don’t care about the dollars the Wilpons are paying to the new bullpen, or their pedigree…any time the Mets put the winning run on base in the 9th inning, I’m at maximum neurosis until Gary Cohen says “and the ball game is OVER!”

Thankfully, the good guys eked out a win today, and Rodriguez got the 30 pitch, four out save, but damn.  Francisco, Frankie, K-Rod, whatever you prefer…can you please not do that again anytime soon?  Most Mets fans want to enjoy baseball again, and this brought back way too many bad memories.  We don’t like drama; we had enough of that last year, with one Greek tragedy after another.  We’re looking for boring; a nice documentary would work wonders in the 9th.  We want to love you, and we probably will, but we need some help getting to love baseball again, and some boring work in the later innings would go along way towards that.  Thanks dude.

Cox’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?

I say this every year, and every year I’m disappointed, but I just don’t see how this team can fail to make the playoffs. Sure, they are top-heavy, and their second-tier and third-tier players aren’t going to impress anybody, but there is too much talent at the top of this team for them to fail to make the playoffs for a third straight season. Does this mean I will be surprised if they don’t make the playoffs? No, but on paper, they should.

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

I like the fact that nobody from 2008 is back except for Pedro Feliciano. What we saw this off-season was a wholescale purging of the Achilles heel of the 2008 Mets. I do think there are questions regarding K-Rod and if he can stay healthy, or how Putz will perform in the 8th inning, or what kind of contributions we can expect from young players like Brian Stokes, Darren O’Day, and Bobby Parnell. But I am cautiously optimistic that the later innings will not be nearly as disastrous as 2008.

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

I like Jerry and think we’re in good hands. I thought Willie was too hands-off in his approach, and I like that Jerry wants to leave his imprint on the team, without trying to do too much that could be construed as crazy. I also generally thought Manuel was a better in-game manager than Willie as well. I think the team will benefit overall with Jerry at the helm for a full season.

Will the Mets regret not upgrading in the outfield corners?

Yes. I’m sorry, but I am not a believer in Daniel Murphy. I think he’s going to struggle more than people think this year. He likely was a lot luckier than people realize last year, and I think he’s going to crash back down to earth, perhaps hard. Also, Ryan Church is a good spare part, but I don’t see him as a starting right fielder for a contender. He plays an acceptable right with a good arm, but he can’t hit lefties. He’s a platoon player masquerading as an everyday player. The Mets might have enough to play well despite these guys, but I don’t feel like they are full-time solutions.

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

I don’t think so, because I do expect Tim Redding back before too long. Livan Hernandez won’t be good, but he will be durable, and playing back in the National League in a true pitcher’s park, he should be a bit better than he was last year until Redding returns.

What do you think about the Mets bench?

I like Fernando Tatis, and I think he can be a decent player there. Alex Cora is making a lot of money, particularly in this economy, but he will give the Mets their first true backup shortstop since Chris Woodward, which might help to give Reyes needed time off. Jeremy Reed was a savvy pickup for Omar, as I think they might be able to extract something out of him this year, and he should be able to capably fill in for Murphy in left in later innings for defense. I’ve always liked Ramon Castro, though I hope he can stay healthier this year.

That leaves Marlon Anderson, who is a complete waste of the 25th spot on this roster, since he offers no offensive or defensive value. Couldn’t we just eat the money on him and send him to Buffalo? I know this wasn’t a great offseason financially for the Wilpons, but they probably gave more money to Bernie Madoff to buy breakfast than they’re paying Marlon Anderson this year, can’t we find somebody for this spot on the roster who doesn’t suck? Hopefully, the Sheffield signing means he’s gone. He seems like a great guy, but he has no business playing on a team with playoff hopes.

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

Jose Reyes

I am hoping for improvement, particularly on getting on base, but I think we are more likely to see him repeat 2008, maybe slightly improve or regress.

Luis Castillo

I have no optimism for Luis Castillo. He could slightly improve, but would still be terrible.

David Wright

I think we are starting to settle into what David Wright is capable of, which is greatness every season. I expect a continuation of his past successes. I also think he will hit better with runners in scoring position this year, which writers and fans will chalk up to “David Wright is better in the clutch!” when the reality is, he will have just been luckier in 2009 than 2008.

Carlos Delgado

I think despite the hot spring, we saw Delgado’s last stand in 2008. I think we’re going to see a season closer to 2007 than 2008.

Carlos Beltran

He has to start getting worse eventually, right? I think he’s going to continue to play his excellent defense in center field, he’ll give the team 25-30 homers, and another 30-40 doubles, and just remain his excellent self. The most underrated great player in baseball, which is strange considering how much money he makes.

Ryan Church

I think his 2008 season stats give you an idea of how Ryan Church actually is, but his hot start from the start of the season I think makes people think he’s better than he is, which is an above average defensive player and mediocre hitter who can’t hit lefties. He is a prime target to be in a platoon by the end of the year, especially with Gary Sheffield in the fold.

Daniel Murphy

But then again, I think Daniel Murphy is going to struggle, too. I just don’t think he can sustain his success from 2008 over a full season, and pitchers are going to learn how to pitch to him. He’s been able to get by so far because of his patience, but once pitchers learn how to get him out, he’s going to struggle big-time.

Brian Schneider

I continue to have no expectations for Brian Schneider.

Johan Santana

With a bullpen that doesn’t blow his leads, he could win the requisite 20 games he needs to win the Cy Young Award this year. He pitched well enough to win, but the bullpen blew enough wins for him that it did not happen. While he may not be as impressive in 2009, he’ll still win more games.

John Maine

I hope he can get back to where he was in 2007, but I’m not optimistic. It’s starting to look like that was an aberration, especially since he faded in the second half. I think we need to look at Maine not as a potential ace, but as a back end of the rotation guy who will give the team 150-200 innings a season and pitch decently for most of those, but not much better. There is value in that, but he’s not a potential ace or anything close.

Oliver Perez

He’s not worth that contract, of course, but I think we will continue to battle the same demons with Oliver, flashes of greatness followed by bouts of ineffectiveness. He’s not going to get it together, and Mets fans should hope that he doesn’t completely fall off the cliff.

Mike Pelfrey

What impressed me most about Pelfrey was that he got better as the season moved on; his strikeout rate improved to the point where by September, he wasn’t relying solely on the ground ball. If he can inch that K/9 number north of 6, or even better, north of 7, he’s going to be a great pitcher. If it hovers in the 4-5 range, where it is now, he can be good, but he will have days where he gets bombed as well.

Pedro Feliciano

He has become a straight LOOGY, and will probably be asked to perform more in that role this year since he is the only lefty in the pen as of now. He should be effective in this role.

THE REST OF BASEBALL:

Home Run Leaders
AL: Miguel Cabrera (43) NL: Ryan Howard (47)

Batting Champs
AL: I never know who to pick for these. Dustin Pedroia? .332?
NL: Hanley Ramirez? .338? Like I said…no idea.

Stolen Base Leaders
AL: BJ Upton (51)
NL: Jose Reyes (62)

Teams That Will Surprise
AL: It’s not going to be the Royals, no matter how many times they get flaunted as “the next Rays.” I think it’s more likely to be a team like the Oakland A’s, who could win the weak AL West this year. I like what they did this offseason, they made a calculated shot at either winning the West, or failing that, they have a lot of prime midseason trade bait for other contending teams with veterans signed to short-term contracts. I think they’re going to take the AL West in an absolute shocker.
NL: Nobody really stands out as being better than they should be, so I’m going to say the Reds, who have a lot of decent young talent. They probably can’t take the NL Central, the Cubs and Brewers are too good, but they could finish third if their young talent plays to their abilities.

Teams That Will Disappoint
AL: Going back to my “Teams That Will Surprise,” I don’t think the Angels are very good at all. They were an 84-86 win team who played in a cake division. Now, they don’t have Teixiera, they don’t have K-Rod, they have three DHs, two of which will need to play the OF…frankly, they just aren’t very good. Throw in the loss of Lackey and Santana for a month or longer, and this is a team that is going to struggle hard. Expect a mid-June or July ESPN headline that says “What’s Wrong With The Angels?”
NL: The Marlins are not in contention to win the NL East. I’m sorry, but that was a 76 win team that lucked into 84 wins. Their defense stinks, their hitting outside of Uggla and Hanley isn’t very good, and I don’t think their young pitching is good enough to overcome it all. They are closer to being a last place team this year than a contending team.

MVP
AL: I predicted Miguel Cabrera last year, and he didn’t pan out, so why not try him again?
NL: I’m not jinxing David Wright again, so I’ll go with Albert Pujols, who is the best player in the NL when healthy, although it seems to be like pulling teeth to get the BBRAA to acknowledge this.

Cy Young Award
AL: CC Sabathia.
NL: I’m not jinxing Johan Santana again, so I’ll go with Dan Haren.

Rookie of the Year
AL: Matt Wieters, whenever the Orioles get around to bringing him up. By the way, on an unrelated note, can we get MLB to change the arbitration rules? Does this really benefit anybody for a player who everybody knows is ready for the majors to begin the year in AAA just so the Orioles can delay his arbitration clock?
NL: Edinson Volquez. No, really, Cameron Maybin.

Team Records

AL East:
Red Sox: 96-66
Rays: 94-68
Yankees: 90-72
Orioles: 77-85
Blue Jays: 69-98

AL Central:
Indians: 88-74
Tigers: 85-77
White Sox: 80-82
Twins: 75-87
Royals: 69-93

AL West:
A’s: 85-77
Angels: 82-80
Mariners: 75-87
Rangers: 74-88

NL East:
Mets: 90-72
Phillies: 88-74
Braves: 87-75
Nationals: 78-84
Marlins: 75-87

NL Central:
Cubs: 94-68
Brewers: 86-76
Reds: 81-81
Cardinals: 81-81
Astros: 70-92
Pirates: 66-96

NL West:
Dodgers: 91-71
Diamondbacks: 87-75
Padres: 76-88
Giants: 72-90
Rockies: 70-92

LDS:
Red Sox over A’s in 3
Rays over Indians in 4
Cubs over Mets in 5
Dodgers over Phillies in 5

LCS:
Red Sox over Rays in 7
Cubs over Dodgers in 6

World Series:
Red Sox over Cubs in 5

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