Showing posts with label Fran Berkman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fran Berkman. Show all posts

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tempering expectations for Thole

Now that public enemies number one and two, Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, have been shipped out, Mets fans will be ravenous for a new scapegoat to despise.

Mets fans can be so harsh, if Mother Teresa was alive and she was invited to throw out the first pitch at Citi Field, we might boo her if she doesn’t paint the outside corner with 90 mph heat.

For some reason which is hard to pinpoint, it feels like expectations might be ballooning a bit quickly for one Met. So we don’t accidentally lynch him for not being the next Joe Mauer, now might be a good time to outline some reasonable expectations for our young catcher Josh Thole, from which we can use as a measuring stick for his season.

Let’s first take age. Thole is entering his age 24 season. He is still a few years away from his physical prime, and he has played less than 100 games at the big league level so he is still quite inexperienced. If Thole does not have a big season, it does not mean he is not going to be a solid big leaguer. Jorge Posada only played eight games during his age 24 season and look what he turned into.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Could this be a breakout season for Niese?

Jon Niese 1Image by afagen via Flickr
One Met who seems to be flying under the radar these days is Jonathon Niese. When people talk about the Mets pitching staff, most of the attention is on how Johan Santana will miss the first half of the season. Then, people might bring up how Mike Pelfrey has to step up in Santana's absence. To cap it off, maybe a few words about the double Chris reclamation project, referring to Capuano and Young, two of the newest Mets. It's time to give Niese a moment of consideration.

The 2010 season was Niese's first full year in the majors. On June 10, 2010, against the San Diego Padres, Niese joined Hall of Famer Tom Seaver as the only Mets to ever come within one batter of throwing a perfect game. He finished 2010 with a 9-10 record, 4.20 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. A solid first full effort, to be sure.

Monday, January 10, 2011

We'll Miss You Pedro

As if it won't be bad enough to see a long time Met donning Pinstripes this upcoming season, when you begin to quantify how valuable Pedro Feliciano was to the Mets, it hurts even worse. The Philadelphia Phillies have been the dominant team in the National League East over the past five seasons (2006-2010). They have won the division the past four years, two of which they brought home National League Pennants, along with their World Series victory in 2008. In three years out of this five year span, the Phillies led the National League in runs scored, and the other two seasons they finished second. As Mets fans, we are familiar with the names Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, and we cower at the thought of the destruction they can wage with a wooden stick in hand. Lets take a look at some numbers that should explain why things are about to take a turn for the worse for our beloved Metropolitans. Here's the short version of the story: Feliciano's dominance over the Phillies triumvirate of super star hitters is the only reason the Mets have remained competitive against the Phils over the past five seasons. Feliciano has gone above and beyond what even a regular "lefty specialist" should be able to accomplish against these three men. For his career, Rollins is a .272 hitter. Being the only switch-hitter of the triumvirate (both Utley and Howard are exclusively left-handed hitters), Rollins should be the least susceptible to a left handed pitcher. Against lefties in his career, Rollins has a very respectable .282 average. In the five year span we are focusing on, Rollins was 5-21 for a .238 average against Feliciano. Utley and Howard would probably kill to be able to hit that well against Feliciano. Utley who is a career .293 hitter (.283 against lefties) has gone 8-36 against Pedro which equals out to a .222 average. Howard is even worse. He is a career .279 hitter (.232 against lefties), but against Feliciano he has been abysmal, 7-36 for a .194 average. Not to mention, Howard averages about one home run every thirteen at bats, but he has had only one long ball against Feliciano in his 36 career at bats.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

New York Orange Sox?

Am I the only one whose kind of pumped up at these moves the Red Sox are making? First they pulled off a monster trade to land Adrian Gonzalez, one of the best young first basemen in the game. Now they pull off another enormous deal landing the top free agent, outfielder Carl Crawford. That's two of the very bes players in the game, who are both coming into the prime years of their careers. Now lets not forget that the Red Sox already feature Kevin Youkilis (aka the Greek God of Walks) and Dustin Pedroia, two young stars with prodigious talent. With a core of these four players-Gonzalez, Crawford, Youkilis and Pedroia, the Red Sox offense is going to be outrageously good for years and years. Lets not forget Jacoby Ellsbury, who is just one injury riddled year removed from a .301/.355, 70 SB, 60 RBI season. I almost feel bad for the Yankees. I might have just lied. Definitely did. There's more. Though he hasn't blossomed yet, I wouldn't be surprised to see catcher Jared Saltalamacchia start to fulfill his potential under the tutelage of Jason Varitek. Not to mention with all these other studs, there will be next to no pressure on Salty to perform, which should help. The Sox round out their lineup with tried and true veterans Marco Scutaro, Mike Cameron, JD Drew and David Ortiz. Add it all up and you have as solid an offense as there is in baseball. I feel like I'm piling on here, but I would be remiss if I did not mention Boston's home-grown, young pitchers. John Lester has slowly and surely turned into a top of the rotation, Ace-of-the-Staff type of pitcher. With his outstanding 2010 campaign, Clay Buchholz might be right on Lester's heals. Buchholz was 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP last year. Both of these pitchers are only twenty-six years old. Add to that the twenty-five year old Daniel Bard, who could be the heir apparent if Boston parts ways with closer Jonathan Pappelbon. These three will be the backbone of the Sox pitching staff going forward. John Lackey and Josh Beckett will also make large contributions to the Sox staff, and I would not be suprised to see them go after a few more bull pen arms. Okay I'm tired of hyping the Red Sox, I seriously hate the Red Sox probably more than I hate the Yankees. Do you all get the point though? Barring a New York Mets-esq run of injuries, the Sox are going to be ridiculously good in 2011. So now you might be thinking, if you hate the Sox, why are you pumped up that they're going to be so good? And where do the Mets tie into all of this? Let me explain. When the Mets hired Sandy Alderson, naturally everyone thought of Oakland. People started saying the Mets are going to be a "Money Ball" team. Pretty logical conclusion because Alderson was the long time GM of the Athletics, and he was the mentor to Billy Beane whose brilliance on a tight budget branded the term "Money Ball" into every baseball fan's heart. Just one problem. Money Ball should really be called "No Money Ball". The concept is for small market teams to compete with their richer adversaries by figuring out what type of successful player is being undervalued by the market, and investing wisely in these somewhat flawed, but useful players. The Mets aren't a small market team though. It may seem like it this season, because due to Omar Minaya's mistakes, the usually active Mets have to sit on the sidelines during this Winter's free agency period. No disrespect intended to DJ Carrasco, Ronny Paulino and Boof Bonser. Well, perhaps a little. Next year, we will have more payroll flexibility, and we will be back in the game. All in all, I think that it should be the Red Sox, not the A's, who should be the archetype of what the Mets could ultimately become under Alderson. The Mets and the Sox are both big market teams with high payrolls. Both Alderson and Red Sox GM Theo Epstein are graduates of Ivy League Universities, Dartmouth and Yale respectively. Alderson graduated from Law School at Harvard, while Epstein graduated from the University of San Diego School of Law. These are some pretty smart dudes. The Red Sox were so enamored with the way the A's did business, that they were on the verge of hiring Beane to be their GM. They made him an offer which would have let him become the highest paid GM of all time. Beane ultimately turned down their offer so the Sox settled on the young Epstein. Guys like Beane, Alderson and Epstein are a examples of a new breed of GM. They are not the 'Good Ol' Boys' of Baseball. They are extremely bright, hard working and responsible men. They take accountability for their decisions, and realize that anything wrong with their entire organization from top to bottom reflects poorly on them, as the leaders. They run a baseball organization how it should be run, like a business. Alderson, like Epstein, will look to improve the quality of the Mets from top to bottom. The Red Sox are known for having a cohesive philosophy that stems from Epstein all the way down through their farm system. A premium is placed on scouting a certain type of player, then drafting and developing. The Sox have such a fecund farm system that it not only allows them keep their major league roster loaded with young talent, but it allows them to pull off a trade for an Adrian Gonzalez. Or lets not forget the Sox traded for Josh Beckett, who pitched them to two World Series wins in the past seven seasons. I would not be a bit surprised to see them win another very soon. Their success lets them earn more money, which they can turn around and invest in a player like Crawford, who might just be wearing a Red Sox hat in Cooperstown one day if he continues at his current pace. Alderson's first step at improving the Mets from bottom up was hiring Paul DePodesta as Vice President of Player Development. He called DePodesta "one of the top analytical minds in the game." Analytical isn't exactly a term that Minaya seemed to care for too much. These are the New Mets under Alderson. Instead of trying to figure out how to steal back page headlines from the Yankees, the Mets will be analyzing how they can improve their organization which will ultimately lead to winning with consistancy (hopefully). Lets face it, even though the Yankees are the organization that everyone else wants to be, the Red Sox have been the best run organization in baseball over the past decade. The Yankees are just so rich that they can cover up their mistakes by signing anyone they want. The Sox, however, rarely waste money. This is the team we need to be like Mets fans. Think about it, if we can win two titles per decade, like the Sox just did, we might even be able to catch up to the Yankees in just under 200 years! Hooray for the New York Orange Sox.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Concerning Ike Davis and a matter of great import

Despite the lack of games being played, every baseball fan knows that this is one of the most crucial periods of the year for baseball teams. The mad dash to replace managers, sign free agents and shape the futures of our favorite teams is all happening in some far off office. Us fans sit around and hungrily await even the tiniest snippets of information. I wake up each morning, and quickly grab the paper in hopes that there will be some rumor about a Mets trade, or the signing of a free agent. With the stakes so high this time of year, I would like to take a few minutes to present to you...a matter of great import. Now let me start by saying that I believe the game of baseball is magical. There is an aura about it that makes it so much more than just hitting a ball with a bat, and running counter-clockwise around a diamond. To me a 6-4-3 double play is not just two outs, it's poetry in motion. For baseball players, stealing second base successfully is as euphoric as robbing a bank and getting away with it. Setting up an outside curve ball with an 0-2, high inside fastball is every pitchers birth-right. Even as a vegetarian, the smell of ballpark hot dogs as I approach the gates of Citi Field makes me feel like a saint who just caught his first whiff of heaven while floating up to the Pearly Gates. Chewing sunflower seeds and spitting the shells during a game is like breathing. Get the point yet? If you don't believe that the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts when it comes to baseball, stop reading now. Nicknames are a critical part of the lore of baseball. I assume it's because there is a lot of downtime during a baseball game, which gives everyone time to think. And because baseball is a game where the spotlight is on one person at a time. It starts on the pitcher, it then moves to the batter, then if the batter hits the ball the spotlight moves to the fielders. The rest of the people are just sitting around thinking about whoever it is under the spotlight. Well, for whatever reason, the history of baseball has been shaped by people who are known by things other then what's on their birth certificates. If you go around asking people about George Ruth, they probably would have no clue who you're talking about. Everyone knows who "the Babe" is though. Who do you think was the best outfielder "Hammerin" Hank, "the Say Hey Kid" or "the Yankee Clipper"? Us Mets fans know "the Franchise", "Mex", "Rey-O", "the Pizza Man", "Mookie", "Fonzie" and "Doc". In this time honored tradition of silliness, I would like to present you all with "Flip" Davis. Consider this, most first basemen in their entire career never go head over heals to make a catch. During his first month in the big leagues, Ike Davis on three separate occasions made a catch while flipping over the guard-rail into the dugout. Not only that, but he landed on his feet each time. That's three perfectly executed somersaulting catches in the span of one month! On top of that, his presence in the lineup and his youthful exuberance seemed to fuel the Mets to a long winning streak when he was first called up. One might say he helped to flip the fortunes of the reeling Mets. Though I'll admit that aspect was certainly transitory. Be that as it may, I think Ike (which is a pretty rad nickname in and of itself) has earned his nickname, and consequently his place in the lore-book of baseball, with his solid play during his rookie campaign, particularly on defense. Thus I anoint thee, "Flip" Davis. May you use your new found fortune to get us some wins this year, and for many to come. Anyone else got any good nicknames for Mets or players on other teams? Mets Chronicle would love to hear them! Drop us some comments.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Questions About Collins

Tomorrow the Mets will announce Terry Collins as their new Manager. There had been a lot of back and forth speculation with sources over the past few weeks. Reports seemed to waver between having Bob Melvin and Collins as the favorites to land the position. Now that we know it is Collins, this whole process has left me with two big questions that I hope I can learn the answers to in tomorrows introductory press conference and interviews with Collins, and with GM Sandy Alderson. My first question, which leaves me with a guarded sense of optimism, is: Why did the Mets bypass the safe choice and go for someone like Collins? Bob Melvin just seemed so intuitive . From what I can gather, his personality and philosophy make him tailor made to manage for a GM such as Alderson. Collins is supposedly a task master type. He runs a tight ship, and discipline will be front and center. He has a history of wearing out his welcome and losing his club house in tough times. In Anaheim, his players signed a petition to have him removed as manager. Call me a pessimist, but I have never seen a Mets manager who has not had to navigate stormy waters, which is why I'm really nervous about Collins. That all being said, I did mention this makes me optimistic. Basically, the fact that Alderson passed over a safe and obvious choice in Melvin, makes me think he knows something that I don't know about Collins. I have already given Alderson credit for being intelligent, and I have made a vow to myself to give him the benefit of the doubt for a year or two while I learn what he is all about. Hopefully, hiring Collins is part of a greater plan to restore the Mets' dignity. A plan which we can not yet understand the scope of, but will begin to unfold itself (quickly I hope) going forward.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

In Sandy We Trust?

Now that the dust has settled on the hiring of Sandy Alderson, it's time to think about what we hope he will do for our Metropolitans. I have been a Mets fan for over twenty years and I can not stand what an embarrassment the franchise has turned into of late. We need a leader who can make us proud to be Mets fans again, and who can restore the good name of the Mets organization around baseball. I don't want to talk specifics yet, but this feeling of a fresh start from Alderson's hiring has me thinking of all the reasons why I love the Mets, and what kind of organization I hope they become during his tenure. From what I have read, Alderson seems like the perfect candidate to lead the Mets going forward. Above all else this is an intelligent man. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1969 (a memorable year for the Mets), and is a Harvard trained lawyer. He is also a proud man having served in the United States Marine Corps. One thing I have admired about him thus far is that he does not seem too proud. Unlike former GM Omar Minaya, whose loyalty to goons such as Tony Bernazard reeked of nepotism, Alderson seems committed to surrounding himself with capable and talented assistants. He has hired former Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi and former Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta to work in his front office. I hope that Alderson can begin to reforge the Mets image to reflect my image of him, intelligent and proud, but not too proud. True, the Mets are more financially solvent than the Oakland A's, the team which all three of these aforementioned men are famous for making successful on a tight budget. The success of Alderson as Mets GM, however, will not be determined by how well they match up to the A's. Rather, the Mets measuring stick for success will be their cross town rivals the Yankees. It seems like the Mets identity over the past ten years has been "the team who tries to do what the Yankees
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