Showing posts with label NY Mets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NY Mets. Show all posts

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Einhorn's Mets deal looks like a winning hand for him

According to the NY Post,  David Einhorn has all the bases covered in his new deal to buy a minority stake in the New York Mets, which is expected to be completed in the next two weeks.

"This looks much less like he's shorting the team," a source close to the situation said.

He has structured what was an all-equity $200 million deal as roughly half cash and the rest as a loan, according to an exclusive story The Post broke this week.

Einhorn will likely collect interest on his five- year $100 million loan that could amount to more than $30 million, and get tax benefits from his $100 million investment in the team -- for a 17 percent stake -- since the Mets are on pace to lose $60 million this year. Those losses can help offset taxes on his other personal investment gains.

If the Wilpons pay him back, he also keeps his stake in the team worth at least $100 million.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mets Need to Rebound from Tough Losses Like Last Night

I am happier than anyone with how the Mets have been playing lately.

The team is getting offensive production from unlikely sources, the bullpen has been miraculous and Mike Pelfrey seems to be getting back on track.

However, all of a sudden, shades of the 2009 injury plague have crept back to the team. David Wright and Ike Davis are out, forcing the team to reach into its minor league system to pull up able bodies.

Though the team has managed to stay afloat so far, last night's loss could be the initial dagger in the Mets hearts.

Pelfrey was tasked with keeping pace with arguably the best pitcher in the NL in Josh Johnson, and he did just that.

All the Mets needed was one run, and the rain soaked game would come to an end.

The team had a golden opportunity in the bottom of the ninth, after a Hanley Ramirez error put Justin Turner on second base. If Jason Pridie could get down a bunt, the winning run would have been 90 feet away with one out.

Pridie had been doing all the little things perfectly, but his failure to get down the bunt cost the Mets in the end.

Fast forward to the bottom of the tenth, when the Mets once again threatened. Turner stepped to the plate with first and second and one out.

In one of the most bizarre plays I've ever seen, Turner hit a hard ground ball to short that handcuffed Ramirez and looked like it would set up a bases-loaded situation with Carlos Beltran due up.

However, the ball deflected off Ramirez's shoulder right to Omar Infante at second base for the first out. Infante barehanded the deflection and threw onto first to complete the double play. Side retired.

As if things couldn't get any worse from there, Burke Badenhop delivered the go-ahead RBI single the next inning...BURKE BADENHOP! The guy is a middle relief pitcher! He should't be getting clutch hits with the game on the line.

The funny thing is that he was allowed to hit because the Marlins wanted to get at least another inning out him, but once he delivered this hit, he was lifted for Leo Nunez.

Though Jon Niese gave Mets fans a brief glimmer of hope with a triple, Jose Reyes struck out after a good battle with Nunez, who has been virtually unhittable this season.

This game is the type of loss that can really mangle a team's confidence, especially now that some key players are on the disabled list.

Winning last night's game would have given the the Mets the realization that they are capable of gutsy performances, even without some of their stars.

Tough losses happen to every team during the course of a season, but the real competitors are made apparent by how they bounce back the next day.

If the Mets come out with fire tonight, they will avenge the loss and hopefully get back on track. The team had won 7-of-10 games before last night, and will need these types of stretches to keep pace in the division.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the team responds. The young guys trying to make a name for themselves (Turner, Pridie, Ruben Tejada, Nick Evans, Daniel Murphy) would be wise to show the passion and energy that got them to the bigs in the first place.

Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.

Originally featured at Mets Merized Online.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Team, Not Citi Field, Is the Problem

Yesterday, former Met right fielder Jeff Francouer released statements saying that the Mets should consider lowering the left field fence and bringing in the deep gaps of Citi Field.

Of course, earlier in the offseason, Francouer, who is currently mashing with the Kansas City Royals, called Citi Field a "damn joke."

Internally, the Mets have discussed the idea of making the dimensions more hitter friendly in the ballpark.

However, are the dimensions at Citi Field the problem, or is it the personnel that is manning the field?

The Mets haven't been a power hitting team over the last few seasons. In fact, they haven't been much of a hitting team at all.

David Wright, Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran, etc. are not exactly the epitome of power hitters.

The true power hitters, like Adam Dunn, Mark Reynolds and Ryan Howard, had no problem turning Citi Field into their own personal playground. Dunn drove a ball onto the Shea Bridge, while Reynolds hit the second deck in center field.

Now, I am fully aware that home runs are not the only means to score runs. While they certainly help, teams can score runs in numerous ways.

The idea of having a ballpark like Citi Field is to use it for what it is: a pitcher's ballpark that has big gaps which are great for doubles and triples.

When fully healthy (which is basically never), the Mets have a ton of speed. Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan, David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay all have good speed and should be benefiting from the large gaps.

On the pitcher's side, fly-ball pitchers can thrive at Citi Field. A full season of Chris Young at Citi Field could have easily yielded 15-20 wins. But due to his recent injury, Young will likely miss the remainder of the season.

In the scheme of things, the Mets attempted to build their roster to fit their ballpark. Unfortunately, injuries and underperforming players have been the reason for poor play, not the ballpark.

If the decision is made to bring in the fences, the Mets may look to sign a power hitting free agent this offseason. I have no idea who or if the team can afford one, but there's no point in bringing in the fences if only the visiting team is going to benefit.

To be honest, I'd like to see Citi Field remain exactly as it is. The Mets don't have to be a power hitting team to score runs. Extra-base hits and stolen bases, coupled with solid pitching, will win games.

Look at Jose Reyes. Normally a player with a little bit of power, Reyes has traded his one home run for 18 other extra-base hits, including six triples. While he has the speed to leg out triples in any ballpark, Citi Field has definitely contributed to this total.

So to answer the title question, Citi Field is NOT the problem. The real problem is the fans and media that think that home runs are the only way to score runs.

Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari. Originally featured at Mets Merized Online.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What To Do with Chin-lung "Boo?"

The great thing in sports about having a first or last name that has two "o's" next to each other or a "u" is that fans love cheering the name, even though it sounds like the player is getting booed.

Carlos Boozer of the Chicago Bulls, Mets first base coach Mookie Wilson, Mets farmhand Lucas Duda and scores of others have enjoyed this luxury.

When the Mets signed Chin-lung Hu this offseason, they added another player who fits this mold.

For the Los Angeles Dodgers, Hu had never been more than a backup infielder, since he struggled offensively. He did, however, play a terrific defensive shortstop.

While many fans questioned this signing, I was one of the few who thought it was great (at the time). Hu could provide strong defense late in games, especially if Daniel Murphy was going to receive the bulk of the playing time at second base.

If he could just do an adequate job with the bat, Hu would hear his name chanted loudly every time he took the field.

Well, Hu has been hearing a similar chant lately, but it's not the customary "Hu" sound. He's been getting booed for his extremely poor performance.

Hu has only one hit in 18 at-bats, which translates to an .056 batting average. Even worse, of these 18 at-bats, Hu has struck out a whopping 11 times.

Being a reserve player has to be a tough task offensively. You sit around all game and then are expected to produce, usually in a tight situation.

Hu did have that clutch sacrifice fly in Washington a few weeks ago, but other than that his Mets tenure has been lackluster to say the least.

While he has been solid defensively, there are other players out there who are just as good with the glove and can also handle the bat better.

How patient will the Mets be with Hu? "Who" do they have to replace him?

It's not like he's one of the regulars struggling this much, so if he keeps this up, he'll be sent packing very soon. The Mets have already shown that they have a quick leash with underperforming players like Brad Emaus and Blaine Boyer).

The one thing I will miss about Hu is the puns that Keith Hernandez and Howie Rose constantly reference during the Mets television and radio broadcast. That never gets old!

But what's getting old fast is Hu's terrible play.

Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Please No More Injuries!

Shades of the 2009 Mets are already apparent here this season. Though that team was more talented on paper, it was ravaged by the injury bug which gave Jerry Manuel very little to work with on a day-to-day basis.

Well, it seems that injuries already have played a role this season.

Last year's breakout player, Angel Pagan, is on the disabled list, though he will hopefully return shortly.

The Mets were forced to put their top reliever, Rule 5 draftee Pedro Beato, on the disabled list due to elbow tendinitis. That's a tough blow for Beato, who was pitching some of the best baseball of his life.

Of course, the Mets are dealing with the absence of ace Johan Santana. Though there were good reports about his progress this week, he still has a long road ahead.

Injuries are part of the game, but the Mets seem to be cursed.

In 2006, one of the NL's best setup relievers, Duaner Sanchez, was injured in a car accident that caused him to miss the remainder of the season. Would Sanchez have made the same pitch that Aaron Heilman made on the home run to Yadier Molina in the NLCS? We'll never really know, but it would have been nice to at least put our best foot forward.

There have been few occasions over the last two seasons that the team has played completely at full strength. In a division including the Phillies, Braves and Marlins, a healthy team is the only way the Mets can compete.

The lineup is one thing, but just think if Santana was healthy.

He'd be the ace, while Mike Pelfrey would have less pressure on him as the No. 2. That would also push back R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese, with Chris Young and Chris Capuano providing rotation depth.

Pelfrey would still have to go out and compete even if Santana was there, but he probably would have benefited from Santana's calming presence.

Once Pagan comes back, the team will have the makings of a contender, assuming everyone performs to their potential. The Mets have dug themselves a hole early, but nothing that can't be overcome.

The days of seeing both Willie Harris and Scott Hairston in the same lineup should hopefully be over soon.

Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari. Originally featured at Mets Merized Online.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Mets Can Be Addicting

I have an addiction.

Unfortunately, many young men my age have bigger problems than I do. Some have fallen to drug or alcohol addictions, which is always a sad situation. They have their whole lives ahead of them, but they succumb to their addiction.

I have an addiction.

The first part of dealing with an addiction is to admit you have one. Just this past week, I came to the conclusion that I am addicted to New York Mets Baseball.

My story is different than a drug or alcohol addict who may have had a string of incidents that led to their downfall. My addiction stems from the passion I have for my team and their affinity for losing.

I have an addiction.

Monday night's loss is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. The Mets jumped out to an early lead only to give it up. They regained the lead only to give it up again on a Carlos Gonzalez 10-hopper that squeaked through the Mets infield shift. "WHY WAS THE SHIFT ON WITH TWO STRIKES?" I yelled.

To make matters worse, not only were the bullpen arms (except Izzy) pretty bad, but they also couldn't make routine plays. Ryota Igarashi got a tailor-made double-play off Gonzalez's bat in the sixth and botched the throw home. Though this was a tougher play, Bobby Parnell overthrew Josh Thole on a play at the plate by almost five feet.

Speaking of Parnell, just when we needed him to keep the game tied, he gives up a three-run laser to Troy Tulowitski, which normally would crush the chances of a comeback.

Here's where my addiction kicks. First batter in the bottom of the eighth: David Wright home run. Next batter: Carlos Beltran double (by the way, he's starting to swing a hot bat) followed by an Ike Davis RBI single.

7-6, no outs, runner on first, bottom of the eighth. "We can do this, boys," I said with a glint of hope in my eyes.

I have an addiction.

Of course, as most of you already know, the Mets failed to score and then looked like little leaguers against Huston Street in the ninth.

At 4-6, the team is far from eliminated, but it has been the way they have lost games recently that has already driven fans away. But not me.

Despite the drizzle last night at around 5:30 p.m., I hopped in my car and headed to Citi Field, hoping I could bring the Mets some luck.

I waited 20 minutes for a Shake Shack burger and settled into my seat. As soon as I took that last bite, the public address announcer came over the loudspeakers.

"Your attention please. Tonight's game has been postponed due to rain and will be made up as part of a day-night, single admission double-header on Thursday."

I have an addicition.

For me, last night's rainout is a blessing. Now I get to sit through not one, but two games of my beloved Mets.

If this was September and the Mets were already eliminated, I'd be there. If the Mets had just lost 10 straight games, I'd be there. If the Mets brought back Luis Castillo and even Oliver Perez, I'd be there.

Now I'm almost certain that many of you readers share in my addiction to varying degrees. I'm sure some of you have been fans since 1962. I can only imagine what it was like those first few years of the franchise. But then 1969 happened. And awhile later 1986 happened.

I had my chance in 2000, but that didn't end so well. Somehow though, losing to the Yankees made me an even bigger, more diehard fan.

I have an addiction.

Luckily for me and my fellow fans who share my addiction, there is a remedy. If our team can go out and play ball like we know they can, our addiction can be considered a passion. We enjoy seeing good baseball from our favorite players and hope the team can turn it around.

The Mets got off to such a good start which gave me even more hope than I already had coming into this season. However, the team is looking like the Mets of old: not the '69 and '86 Mets, but the '62-'67 Mets.

Let's just stick by our team and hope they can get hot. The journey toward recovery begins tonight at 7:10 p.m., with the pregame show at 6:30. True addicts watch the pregame, of course.

Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.

*Note: This piece was meant to be mostly facetious. I understand that an actual addiction is a serious matter, and my thoughts and prayers go out each day to those fighting to overcome their addictions.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Energy and Passion Are Back for the Mets

Energy and passion.

While these two attributes have been lacking from New York Mets baseball for the past few years, the team has shown a year's worth in just four games.

After the ugly Opening Day loss, the team has responded in a big way. That first game was the type of loss that can bury a team right out of the gate, but the Mets found a way to win the next three, albeit in peculiar fashion on Saturday.

What's more special is that they started on the road in two stadiums where they are known to struggle: Sun Life Stadium in Miami and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

The Mets didn't win their first road series last year until mid June when the swept the Baltimore Orioles.

If the Mets can win just one of the next two games (preferably both but they have a better shot tonight against Joe Blanton than tomorrow against Roy Halladay), this first road trip would be everything a Mets fan could ask for.

The team has been stealing bases, taking the extra base on hits and hitting well with runners in scoring position. For example, during last night's six-run rally in the top of the third inning, the Mets didn't even have an extra base hit. They instead put together six singles (two by starting pitcher Chris Young which set a news Mets record) and two walks.

The Mets have had success against Cole Hamels, and it was great to see them knock him out early. The hype in Philadelphia may be all about the "four aces" this season, but until they each pitch like an ace, they're just a regular staff.

Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan and David Wright all seem rejuvenated so far. They must continue to lead by example and create things for the middle of the order.

Though Carlos Beltran is off to a slow start, the players around him are picking up the slack. You have to remember, he played just three games in spring training, so he's still getting a feel for right field and at the plate.

Terry Collins could possibly consider moving Beltran down in the order to take some of the pressure off him. Ike Davis is off to a hot start and can hit fourth, so Beltran can slide into the fifth or sixth hole (when Jason Bay returns).

While the Mets have only played four games, all of a sudden some of the doubters this season have begun opening their eyes. They may still believe the Mets are destined for a fourth or even fifth-place finish, but they must agree that this energetic play has surprised them.

The diehards, myself included, knew this team could play like this all along. In fact, since the Mets roster may not rival that of the Phillies or Braves, this is the way the Mets will have to play each night to put up wins.

The team seems to be buying into Terry Collins' philosophy as well.

"One game at a time."

The New Jersey Devils used this phrase as their motto the last two months as they made a playoff push after a terrible start to their NHL season. While the Devils will come up short of the playoffs, they went on a streak unmatched by any team this year and have now set the bar high for next year.

The Mets can learn something from the Devils: A late season streak is useless if your team is already too far out of contention.

The goal for the Mets will be to take "one game at a time," and see where it takes them.

Win or lose, all I know is Mets baseball is exciting once again.

Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.

Originally featured at Mets Merized Online.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Top 10 Power Hitters in Franchise History

I know this may be slightly off topic due to the HUGE three-game road series starting in Philadelphia tonight, but everyone loves the home run.

Home runs are the most exciting part of a baseball game. Over the years, players have made a living on their ability to hit the long ball.

Though the New York Mets have been known for developing strong pitching prospects like Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack and Nolan Ryan, the team has had a handful of good power hitters in their 49-year history.

Shea Stadium and current Mets’ home, Citi Field, aren’t exactly hitter-friendly ballparks, which speaks volumes for the players that actually put up good power numbers in Mets’ uniforms.

Here are the top 10 power hitters in Mets history.

10. Cliff Floyd

Cliff Floyd came to the Mets in 2003 after a decade of putting up decent power numbers.

He put up back-to-back 18 homer seasons in first two years in New York. However, he only played in 108 and 113 games, respectively, due to injury troubles.

In 2005, Floyd hit his stride for the Mets. He crushed 34 home runs in 150 games.

More importantly, many of these home runs were clutch.

He could have been even more of a power threat if he stayed healthy.

9. Bobby Bonilla

Bobby Bonilla was a consistent power threat for the Mets in the early 1990s. In fact, he was pretty much the only power threat on the team at that time.

His Mets’ career-high in home runs came in 1993, when he clubbed 34 homers.

The Mets re-signed a 36-year old Bonilla in 1999 hoping he would regain his power stroke. However, he only managed four home runs in 119 at-bats.

In other news, Bonilla is set to earn almost $30 million from the Mets over the next 25 years. The Mets bought out the final year of his contract in 2000, and Bonilla elected this alternative form of payment.

8. Todd Hundley

Todd Hundley was a fan-favorite when he came up with the Mets.

The switch-hitting catcher put up average power numbers his first few seasons, but he embarked on a home run hitting journey in 1996 that only one other Met has matched.

Hundley set a Mets’ single season record with 41 homers that year. He followed that with a 30 home run performance the next season.

However, injuries caught up with Hundley, which forced the Mets to acquire another catcher, who will be featured later in this list.

7. Howard Johnson

Howard Johnson was the rare combination of speed and power, which was even more unusual since he was a third baseman—a position not known for its speed.

Johnson had five consecutive seasons of at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Of those, he had three 30-30 seasons.

He became the first Met to have a 30-30 season in 1987, along with his teammate Darryl Strawberry that same year.

He led the National league with 38 home runs in 1991. He is one of only three Mets to ever lead the league in homers.

6. Carlos Beltran

The Mets signed Carlos Beltran after his miraculous eight home run clip during the 2004 playoffs for the Houston Astros.

Though he struggled in the power department his first year, Beltran had a big year in 2006.

He tied Todd Hundley for the Mets’ single season record with 41 home runs.

He looked like he was poised to continue this power stroke, but then the injuries kicked in.

Beltran saw his power numbers decline steadily from 33, to 27, to 10 and to just seven home runs last season.

He appears to be healthy this season and ready to regain his home run power.

5. Carlos Delgado

Before the Mets traded for him prior to the 2006 season, Carlos Delgado hit at least 30 home runs in nine consecutive years.

He hit 38 homers in his first year as a Met en route to a division title.

However, his age and injuries began to catch up with him, as he saw his power numbers decline in 2007 and early 2008.

Delgado quickly regained his stroke in the second half of 2008 and went on a home run hitting tear. He finished the year with 38 homers.

He got off to a hot start in 2009, but a hip injury effectively ended his Mets’ career.

He was a big time power threat, who hit some big home runs during his Mets’ tenure.

4. David Wright

David Wright has been a home run hitting threat ever since he came up in July 2004.

He hit at least 26 home runs in each of his first four full seasons. Though the move to Citi Field seemed to affect his power in 2009, Wright returned in a big way with 29 home runs last year.

He has already hit a home this season and hopes for many more.

Wright has terrific opposite field power, which makes him even more dangerous at the plate. When Wright is “right,” he’s driving the ball out of the ballpark the opposite way.

He should sit atop the Mets’ all-time leader in home runs when his career comes to an end.

3. Dave Kingman

Dave Kingman hit the ball as high and far as anyone who’s ever played this game.

He hit 154 home runs in just six years with the Mets.

“King Kong” was similar to Adam Dunn in today’s game, except without the ability to draw walks. Kingman would basically either strike out or hit a home run.

His typical year can be seen with his 1982 season for the Mets. He led the league with 37 homers but also with 156 strikeouts.

2. Mike Piazza

What more can be said that hasn’t already been said about Mike Piazza?

Some consider him the savior of the Mets’ franchise that was heading down the drain in the late 1990s before he arrived.

Piazza had raw power, as evidenced by his tape measure home runs. He hit at least 30 home runs in each of his first four full seasons as a Met.

He is second on the all-time Mets home run list with 220. He will always be remembered for his numerous clutch home runs in a Mets’ uniform.

As a Met, he set the record for the most home runs ever by a catcher, surpassing Carlton Fisk in 2004.

There’s really only one thing left for Piazza: to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, as a Met of course.

1. Darryl Strawberry

From 1983-1991, Darryl Strawberry was a home run hitting machine.

He hit at least 26 home runs per season during that clip, with his career-high in 1987 and 1988 with 39 homers.

Like Howard Johnson, Strawberry was the rare combination of speed and power. He joined Ho-Jo as the first Met to record a 30-30 season in 1987.

His home runs were majestic, which makes his story so sad. Strawberry’s drug issues affected his play on the field and diminished his immense talent.

It’s always imagined what could have been for Strawberry. Still, he retired as the Mets’ all-time leader with 252 home runs.

Originally featured at Mets Merized Online.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"If" Could Hold the Keys for Mets, Or Not

"IF" - A noun or conjunction: an uncertain possibility, a supposition, in case that, granting or supposing that.

The word “if” will hold much significance for the 2011 New York Mets.

Let’s start with the positives:
  • If Chris Young returns to his mid-2000s form and if R.A. Dickey pitches similarly to last year, the Mets will not be severely affected by the loss of Johan Santana.
  • If Jason Bay remembers how to hit, the Mets will have a consistent run producer in the middle of the order.
  • If Jose Reyes remains focused on baseball, the Mets will have the most dynamic leadoff hitter in the game setting the table.
  • If Carlos Beltran stays healthy and plays to his potential, David Wright will receive plenty of protection in the batting order.
  • If K-Rod puts his demons behind him, the Mets will have a shut-down closer available in tight games.
  • If the Mets rid themselves of Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, two younger players with more upside will be able to contribute to the roster.
  • If the second base situation is figured out early in spring training, that player can gain the confidence and experience needed to produce every day.
  • If Ike Davis and Josh Thole continue to develop, the Mets will have a strong batting order throughout.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hypothetical Mets 2011 Bench

With the acquisition of Chin-lung Hu, let's take a look at some bench options this year for the Mets. Strong depth is always an important factor for success. Just look at the World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

Usually, National League teams carry 12 pitchers so that leaves 13 spots for position players. Eight of those will be starters, so the Mets have to construct a bench made up of five players.

The first of those five will be back-up catcher Ronny Paulino. Paulino will serve as a right-hand hitting complement to Josh Thole. I don't think it will be a platoon, but Paulino will certainly get the bulk of his at-bats against lefties.

If Luis Castillo somehow wins the starting second base job, Daniel Murphy should still have a spot on the roster. He has shown he can play a variety of positions, albeit some better than others. He can spell Ike Davis at first and maybe even do some corner outfield duty. He would serve as the primary left-handed pinch hitter off the bench.

Speaking of which, why did Mets not sign Chris Carter? Yes he had his moments of inconsistency, but who didn't in 2010? He was the perfect power threat off the bench, but kind of like Murphy, he didn't really have a defensive position. He's likely gone so the Mets must make due without him.

The next spot should be an open competition for the utility infielder position, the role that Alex Cora used to play. Candidates are Hu, Luis Hernandez, Justin Turner and Brad Emaus. Basically, if these players fail to win the starting second base job, the runner-up will likely stick with the big club. From what I've heard, Hu plays solid defense and has above average speed so he may be the best of the bunch. Turner and Hernandez are out of options however, and Emaus would have to be returned to the Blue Jays if he's not on the roster.

The Mets seem to still be in the market for a fourth outfielder. Reed Johnson is a free agent as well as Scott Podsednik. Podsednik may look for an opportunity to play everyday, but Johnson would accept his role. With a healthy Bay, Beltran and Pagan, there won't be too many at-bats for the fourth outfielder. That's why it would be wise to let Lucas Duda play everyday in the minors and wait for an injury, which is bound to happen. Come on, it's the Mets. Fred Lewis may also be available via trade. Internal candidate Jason Pridie has some major league experience with the Twins and might be the fall back option.

The final spot could go to Nick Evans. He would be the right-handed bench threat. He's got a little pop and also can play several positions. Unlike Duda, Evans has now had a few cups of coffee in the bigs, and if the Mets see him more as a full-time reserve, this would be a good opportunity for him to show he can stick with the big league roster.

So in review, a bench looking something like the following could be serviceable for the 2011 Mets:

Ronny Paulino, Daniel Murphy, Chin-lung Hu, Reed Johnson and Nick Evans.

Originally featured at Mets Merized Online.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ticking Clock Doesn't Appear to Phase Mets

Yesterday, I heard that the Mets would not make any moves until sometime into January. Sandy Alderson and company have decided to wait out the market rather than throwing their money at uncertainty.

Surprisingly, several good starting pitchers are still available, yet teams appear reluctant to pull the trigger.

I figured that once Cliff Lee signed, the other starters would fall like dominoes since teams in need for starting pitchers would not want to be left in the dust.

Carl Pavano and his disgusting mustache won 17 games last year. You would think someone would want to lock him up. True, he has had an interesting last few seasons, but he proved last year that he can stay healthy for an entire season.

Now, I do not want Pavano anywhere near the Mets nor do I think they even have the money to spend on him. But as of now, he appears to be the best starting pitcher available. So similar to the situation with Lee, once Pavano is off the table, the other pitchers may go fast.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

All Appears Quiet on the "Metstern" Front

OK, so this title is a bit corny, but it certainly rings true as the Mets approach the half-way point of the offseason. Spring training is a little over 1.5 months away, and it appears the Mets still have much to do to gear up for the season.

That is of course unless the organization is content with the pieces they have. No offense to Sandy Alderson, but he should be spending more time exploring ways to help the team than making lame season ticket advertisement videos. No one will be buying season tickets anyway if the team looks like it does now.

As David Wright said at last week’s Holiday party, the Mets still have good players. Barring any major health issues, this is definitely true. Johan Santana is already on the shelf though so the Mets cannot incur anymore injuries.

Part of me likes Alderson’s thinking. Why break the bank for free agent starting pitching that has a history of injury and only sign them for one year? Why not wait until you have some money to work with next year and either bring in someone who can help in the long-term or see if your prospects have developed at the major league level?

We already know Ike Davis and Josh Thole will be given every opportunity to succeed at the highest level. Terry Collins already said that he expects Jenrry Mejia to contribute at some point this season. As of now at least, Lucas Duda and Nick Evans appear to be front-runners for bench spots, but I’d rather see them (especially Duda) play everyday in AAA.

We know Ruben Tejada will start in the minors as well. Dillon Gee is penciled into the fourth spot of the Mets rotation so even he will be asked to elevate his game.

The Rule 5 picks (Brad Emaus and Pedro Beato) may also be thrown into major league duty this year.

So if Alderson is content with allowing these young players to develop on the highest stage in hopes of a better future, I agree with him. That being said, if the Mets somehow find themselves competing for a divisional or wild card berth when Santana returns, I would like to see the team acquire a piece or two near the trade deadline to make that final push.

Mets teams with less talent than this one have done quite well, so there’s no reason for fans to be giving up hope in late December.

Originally featured at Mets Merized Online.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Mets Need To Rally Behind Carlos Beltran

Let me start this post off by saying that when the offseason first started, I was firmly in the camp that suggested a Beltran trade, no matter how much money the Mets had to eat of his contract.

The Mets were 48-40 at the All-Star break this year, and then Beltran returned which started the massive decline to mediocrity. I don't want to say that these two occurrences are linked, but it makes you wonder nonetheless.

Recently, we heard the rumors about a possible Beltran trade with the Red Sox. However, now that the Sox signed speedster Carl Crawford (a great signing by the way), that likely spells the end to those rumors. In fact, the Red Sox now have four quality outfielders so they may even look to trade a Jacoby Ellsbury or J.D. Drew instead of acquiring another outfielder.

There are not many other trading partners out there willing to put their faith in a 33-year old outfielder who hasn't played a full season since 2008.

Let's face it: Even with a monster year this year, Beltran certainly would not have lived up to his mega contract. He was a solid player in Kansas City and had that miracle run in the playoffs for Houston which allowed him to earn his big contract.

When healthy, he is a five-tool player but not worth $19 million per season. For that matter, none of these guys that make $20 million a year are worth that type of money. The pay structure of the sport is getting ridiculous ($126 million for Jason Werth...Jason Werth! The guy's had two good years).

Anyway, back to Beltran.

It looks like Beltran will be with the club in some capacity in 2011. He might remain in center field or shift over to right. Either way, we need Beltran to hit and hit consistently.

I'm not usually one to make predictions, but here's what I see this year from Beltran.

He will play in about 130 games (naturally he will be "injured" at some point), seeing time in both center and right, unless he willingly makes the switch to right permanently.

I see him putting up similar numbers to his first year with the Mets. He'll hit about .270 with 15-20 HR and 70+ RBI. Contract aside, these numbers could be beneficial to a Mets team that is clicking on all cylinders. But when was the last time Reyes, Wright, Beltran, Bay, Davis, etc. were all hot at the same time? The answer is not too often.

Another scenario can occur if Beltran bursts out of the gates in 2011. He can establish his trade value and depending on where the Mets stand in July, they might be able to net some talented prospects (preferably starting pitchers) from a team in search of outfield help down the stretch.

So since Beltran will likely be here, it is time for fans to stop calling for his head and rally behind him. He will be on our team, and as far as I'm concerned, that is plenty reason to cheer for him.

We won't be seeing the Beltran of old, but hopefully an able-bodied, mildly productive Beltran shows up this year.

Originally featured at Mets Merized Online.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Is Rebuilding a More Viable Option for the 2011 Mets?

We've all heard the reports that say the Mets only have $5 million to spend this offseason. I don;t know who said it or their source, but it does make sense since the team has over $130 million committed to its current club. Regardless of the actual figure, there's no doubt that the Mets are cash-strapped.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I wouldn't mind seeing the Mets go through a major rebuilding phase during 2011 if it meant that they would put a consistently competitive team on the field for a while after that.

Look at a team like the Tampa Bay Rays. A full decade of beyond mediocrity has paid off with two division titles and a World Series appearance. The difference between the Mets and the Rays is that the Rays were so bad that they were able to cash in with high draft picks like David Price, B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria.

If you look at the team, there are holes in the starting rotation, bullpen and arguably second base. The team needs to make a decision moving forward: Can they acquire some major pieces with the budget they have or will they be content trying to develop some young talent this season?

They may bring in a veteran starter such as Chris Young or Jeff Francis and maybe even a bullpen arm like a D.J. Carrasco or Lance Cormier. This would be fine for the short term in hopes that these reclamation projects can bring the Mets back to relevance.

Here's what we hope might happen.

The Mets may sign a pitcher or two and fill out their roster with some journeymen. They should try to stay afloat until Santana returns, and hopefully he will give the team a shot in the arm. If the team feels it has what it takes, it could look to acquire a front line starting pitcher or big bat for the postseason run.

But the Mets can look at it another way.

The could play out the first two-three months and see where they stand at the All-Star break. If the season is basically a lost cause, they should promote some of their prospects and give these guys some big league experience.

I would much rather see guys like Wilmer Flores, Matt Harvey, Ruben Tejada and Jenrry Mejia learn through their mistakes then guys like Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez struggle, knowing that the latter two have no chance of providing for the future of this team.

If things click early in the season, the young guys may not have a shot. I am an optimist, and if the Mets can get off to a quick start, that's great. However, they need to be ready to face the facts if things don't work out.

$5 million will not be enough this offseason to acquire all the pieces the Mets need right away. But developing some young talent now could allow the team to either acquire proven talent via trade or will fill some of the roster holes of the next few seasons.

Naturally as a fan, you always want to see your team win. But when you understand that winning consistently takes the proper combination of many different pieces, you realize that when you don't have the pieces, winning is difficult.

Someday (hopefully soon) when the Mets do win a World Series, we will look back and say that the years of rebuilding were well worth it. I just hope that comes in my lifetime.

Originally featured at Mets Merized Online.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Who Will Make Up the Mets Bullpen?

While the Mets starting rotation will likely contain several question marks, the bullpen appears to be a revolving door at this point. Two vital pieces from 2010 are likely out, with Hisanori Takahashi heading out west and Pedro Feliciano testing the FA market.

Following the non-tender deadline, many serviceable bullpen arms will become available. Some of these candidates may come on the cheaper side and on short term deals, both aspects the Mets would be looking for.

So here are some internal and external candidates likely to make up the Mets 2011 bullpen.

Despite his issues, K-Rod will likely remain this team's closer. He is entering the final year of his contract, so he will look to have a big year and put his past behind him. Though he sometimes makes it interesting in the ninth, he still has a little something left in the tank.

Bobby Parnell is another internal candidate who should factor into the bullpen. He has the stuff to be a closer, and this year he could finally develop the confidence to be a consistent late game stopper. He will compete for the eighth inning role this spring.

With Takahashi and Feliciano likely out (though there appears to be a slim chance the Mets can retain Pedro), they are going to need a lefty specialist to deal with the likes of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jason Heyward.

Pat Misch may see some action as a long reliever/swing man. He had some tough luck late last season and actually pitched quite well. Mike O'Connor, who the Mets just re-sign to a minor league contract, could play the role of lefty specialist. He put up great numbers in Buffalo last year, and a strong spring can solidify his roster spot.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

2011 MLB Free Agents by Team

Here are the free agents who remain unsigned as of noon Saturday (The Associated Press):


BALTIMORE (7) — Mark Hendrickson, LHP; Cesar Izturis, SS; Julio Lugo, 2B; Kevin Millwood, RHP; Corey Pattterson, OF; Koji Uehara; Ty Wigginton, 1B.

BOSTON (5) — Adrian Beltre, 3B; Bill Hall, 2B; Felipe Lopez, 3B; Mike Lowell, 1B; Jason Varitek, C.

CHICAGO (7) — Freddy Garcia, RHP; Andruw Jones, OF; Paul Konerko , 1B ; Mark Kotsay, DH; A.J. Pierzynski, C; J.J. Putz, RHP; Manny Ramirez, OF.

DETROIT (5) — Jeremy Bonderman, RHP; Johnny Damon, OF; Gerald Laird, C; Magglio Ordonez, OF; Bobby Seay, LHP.
The Great Cliff Lee

KANSAS CITY (1) — Bruce Chen, LHP.

LOS ANGELES (2) — Hideki Matsui, DH; Scot Shields, RHP.

MINNESOTA (10) — Jesse Crain, RHP; Randy Flores, LHP; Brian Fuentes, LHP; Matt Guerrier, RHP; Orlando Hudson, 2B; Ron Mahay, LHP; Carl Pavano, RHP; Nick Punto, 3B, Jon Rauch, RHP; Jim Thome, DH.

NEW YORK (10) — Lance Berkman, OF; Derek Jeter, SS; Nick Johnson, DH; Austin Kearns, OF; Chad Moeller, C; Andy Pettitte, LHP; Mariano Rivera, RHP; Marcus Thames, DH; Javier Vazquez, RHP; Kerry Wood, RHP.

OAKLAND (3) — Eric Chavez, 3B; Justin Duchscherer, RHP; Ben Sheets, RHP.

SEATTLE (5) — Josh Bard, C; Erik Bedard, LHP; Russell Branyan, 1B; Chris Woodward, SS; Jamey Wright, RHP.

TAMPA BAY (10) — Rocco Baldelli, DH; Grant Balfour, RHP; Randy Choate, LHP; Carl Crawford, OF; Brad Hawpe, OF; Gabe Kapler, OF; Carlos Pena, 1B; Chad Qualls, RHP; Rafael Soriano, RHP; Dan Wheeler, RHP.

TEXAS (7) — Jorge Cantu, inf; Frank Francisco, RHP; Vladimir Guerrero, DH; Cristian Guzman, inf; Cliff Lee, LHP; Bengie Molina, C; Matt Treanor, C.

TORONTO (5) — Scott Downs, LHP; Jason Frasor, RHP; Kevin Gregg, RHP; Miguel Olivo, C; Lyle Overbay, 1B.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Jason Bay Poised for Success in 2011

On December 29, 2009, the Mets and free agent outfielder Jason Bay agreed to a four-year $66 million deal with a fifth year vesting option that could bring the deal over the $80 million plateau.

He was coming of an All-Star year in Boston and even won a Silver Slugger award. He finally earned the contract he deserved after some great years being buried in Pittsburgh.

If someone who did not watch Bay all year looked at his 2010 stats compared to the rest of his career, they may think that the Mets wasted a ton of money on a washed up player.

I would have to disagree here, considering Bay was limited to only 95 games due to suffering a concussion in late July.

Bay didn't necessarily get off to a great start in New York. However, from mid May to mid June, he was a productive player, keeping his batting average in the .285 range. Surprisingly, Bay showed he still had good speed by blasting six triples and swiping 10 bases without being caught.

He played an excellent left field defense, which eventually cost him the remainder of the season after making a fantastic grab up against the wall in Los Angeles.

The problem with Bay all year is that he failed to do the things he was brought over here to do: hit home runs and more importantly drive in runs.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jim's Thoughts on Collins

Though the "decision" did not have as much hype as that of LeBron James' over the summer, it's official: Terry Collins is the 20th manager in New York Mets team history.

As a fan, I find myself as cautiously optimistic about this hiring. To be honest, I had no true preference among the four candidates for manager. Each one brought interesting qualifications to the table but also had some drawbacks.

Then again, at least for me, I am cautiously optimistic heading into every season. But for some reason, 2011 seems different.

Unlike years past, it seems that the Mets have some direction. Their front office can be placed in the conversation of one of the best in the game, at least based on reputation. And now they have an experienced manager taking the helm.

Regardless of the decision, it will be nice to see some new faces around the clubhouse. Personally, I liked Jerry Manuel as a baseball mind. But his methods just didn't cut it in New York. Granted, he was dealt a poor hand with the amount of devastating injuries this team suffered during his tenure. But he eventually lost the respect of the team.

So now we have Collins, a man who managed the Houston Astros and Anaheim Angels as well as the China national team during the 2009 World Baseball Classic. The experience is there, but hopefully the results will be different.

According to reports, Collins had his share of mishaps as a manager. One player in Houston almost got into a fist fight with him, and the Angels, led by former Met Mo Vaughn, signed a petition to have him fired.

Now, these instances might be, and probably are, true, but they also could have been blown way out of proportion due to the hotly contested race for Mets manager.

I don't know. But I do know that Collins is now the manager, and I'm excited for his tenure to begin.

He is described as fiery and intense, which is something the Mets could use. Maybe we will see Reyes stay more focused or Beltran show a little more fire. Maybe we'll see Wright be more disciplined and even K-Rod get his act together.

All these and more lie on the plate for Collins. With Thanksgiving approaching, how much more room will there be on Collins' plate for his turkey dinner?

From his press conference today, Collins said all the right things. Fans need to be patient with him as he adjusts to the New York media. Though he was in the organization last season, it by no means compares to his new job.

I wish Terry lots of luck as we embark on (hopefully) a new era of New York Metropolitans baseball.

I hope everyone enjoys their Thanksgiving holiday!

Originally featured at Mets Merized Online.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Happens After the Manager Is Selected?

So it looks like the Mets will have a new manager sometime before Thanksgiving. The four candidates have completed the second round of interviews in an attempt to secure a position that will be heavily scrutinized over the next season.

Once the manager is chosen, the Mets need to switch their focus to importing some talent that could help the ball club next season and beyond.

With Sandy Alderson, J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta, the Mets have put together a sound front office.

Some time early next week, the Mets will make their managerial selection so they can check that off the list.

The off-the-field talent is there, but now it's time for them to explore ways of turning the Mets back into a winning team.

Let's take a look at where this team needs improvement and some possible suggestions on how to fix those problems.

With Santana's status up in the air, the Mets could use a quality starting pitcher. I've already made the case for Javier Vazquez, but Matt Cerrone on MetsBlog mentioned Kevin Millwood today. Now I know what you're thinking: Millwood is even more washed up than Vazquez.

But Citi Field can work to his advantage. He's a fly ball pitcher who got no run support in Baltimore. Maybe a change of scenery would do him well.

Jon Garland would be another option, but his price tag may be quite hefty after putting up solid numbers last season.

Alderson may have to roll the dice on this one. Former All-Stars Brandon Webb and Ben Sheets are available, but their recent string of injuries could scare him away.

Pelfrey, Dickey and Niese right now are the only definites to the rotation (barring any trades) so at least one if not two starting pitchers are needed.

Looking at the bullpen, Pedro Feliciano may be heading out the door. He's been our most reliable reliever the last two seasons, and his presence would be missed. Raul Valdes had spurts of greatness last year, but he doesn't appear to be the answer to the bullpen woes.

K-Rod will likely still close if he's eligible. That leaves Parnell, Green, Igarashi, Acosta and possibly Pat Misch. Certainly an improvement or two would not hurt here.

Guys like Scott Downs and Brian Fuentes would be good options, but the Mets must be willing to fork up the cash. Trade candidates include Jonathan Papelbon and Jonathan Broxton, but they too will cost significantly.

Around the horn, second base still seems to be one of the only "holes" in the lineup, assuming everyone else is healthy and producing. Personally, I like the idea of a platoon of Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada, with Tejada also serving as a late-inning defensive replacement.

Orlando Hudson is available and could provide a spark both offensively and defensively. I'm not sure though if the Mets would pull the trigger on this one.

The team appears to have placed its confidence in Josh Thole behind the dish. However, if they could somehow make a play for Victor Martinez, maybe Thole could become expendable in a trade for a starting pitcher. Highly unlikely but interesting to consider.

If the Mets do trade Carlos Beltran, they would have a hole in right field, with Angel Pagan shifting to center. There are some aging sluggers available on the free agent market, but the Mets should stay away there.

For the bench, the team should consider re-signing Henry Blanco, and Chris Carter has earned his spot. Other than that the Mets need a complete overhaul here, and they may just rely on some of their youngsters (Lucas Duda, Nick Evans, etc.) to fill these spots.

So it looks like the Mets still have much work to do. They will have several months to accomplish at least some of these goals. Good luck Sandy!

Originally featured at Mets Merized Online.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mets Have Poor Image in Public Eye

The following clip from Family Guy last Sunday pretty much sums up the last few seasons for the Mets.

While I don't mind my favorite show poking fun at my favorite team, it makes me wonder what non-Mets fans think about our team.

Here is another example of a a Family Guy Mets bashing.

Even besides Family Guy, the Mets are constantly ridiculed as being second-class citizens in New York, and other fans question why we put ourselves through such misery.

This wasn't always the case naturally, as Gil Hodges brought relevance to the team in the late 60s while the Mets teams of the late 80s were tops in the league.

Even during my lifetime, the late 90s Mets weren't too shabby themselves.
I think the trouble started in 2006 when the Mets were riding high all season. They were the talk of the town all the way up until the NLCS.

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