Archive for the 'Baseball' Category

Opening Day for Mets Fans Allows Their Imagination to Run Wild

April 4, 2010

In the mid-nineteen eighties, the New York Mets were building a dynasty. With just one season removed from an emotionally charged 1986 World Championship season, the hometown heroes were at it again.

September 22, 1988, Manager Davy Johnson is still at the helm alongside his trusty pitching coach, Mel Stottlemyer. An RC Cola billboard enters the television screen, horns are blaring, and the both of them are shown standing in amazement as their starting pitcher, Ron Darling, bats in the bottom of the eighth inning.

In the previous top half of the inning, Stottlemyer had just paid a visit to the mound to check on the strength of his right-hander. At first glance, with runners at the corners, you could easily sense that Darling may have run out of gas. On nothing more than fumes, Darling then proceeded to retire the side by inducing a six-four-three double play.

Champagne about to blow, “We are the champions of the world,” close to drowning out the exhilarating roars of the Shea Stadium crowd, a quick cut to the NYPD in riot gear riding horseback, the Mets would go on to win the ball game and earn Ron Darling a complete game victory.

After clinching their second NL East division title in three years, the 1988 NY Mets set their sights on the California coast. Their arrogance was obvious. Their confidence none other than a layer of hard-fought determination to prove that that magical ’86 season was no fluke. Unfortunately for the Mets, they were unable to reach the World Series in ’88.

It’s now September 22, 2010, Mets left-hander Johan Santana is in the batter’s box in the bottom of the eighth inning. A broad smile is showing on the face of Pitching Coach Dan Warthen, an even broader smile on the face of their skipper, Jerry Manuel. Citi Field is shaking. The inevitable has finally materialized. The unthinkable has found itself front and center. The bottom half of the eighth inning has run its course. Santana is then asked to take the hill in the top of the ninth with the hopes that he will be able to finish what he started.

Ron Darling, who is now coincidentally sitting in the SNY broadcast booth watching and listening to the screams and hollers of all the rabid Mets fans, decides to take a backseat to Santana’s gutsy performance. After an earlier run scoring double by left fielder Jason Bay that all but secured the Mets 6-2 lead, Santana completes the final three outs in one-two-three fashion.

Raising his arms to the sky, tackled by his teammates, the negative force now lifted, the southpaw turns towards those Mets fans in attendance and shouts, “anything is possible.”

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When Cliff Floyd Spoke, Players Listened

February 6, 2010

Former Met Cliff Floyd was a very integral part of the Mets success during the 2006 season. That year, the Mets were one hit away from playing in their fifth World Series. Floyd, a natural contact hitter, was just as impressive off the field as he was on it. Some of those who hung around the Mets clubhouse throughout his tenure felt that when he left the organization the room changed.

With positive team chemistry deemed just as important as driving runners in, players like Floyd are considered necessities when building a championship team. Now, semi-retired, Floyd’s recent comments regarding the Mets current clubhouse as one of disconnect, have Mets fans concerned.

“I got the guys to believe in what I was saying,” Floyd said recently as a guest on a popular local radio show. “I didn’t take them down the road of destruction where they were going to go against the manager, or go against the coaches, or be a, me-type of player.”

The 37-year-old outfielder/DH embraced the role of mentor during his experiences with some of the Mets younger players including David Wright and Jose Reyes in 2006.

“My goal was to make sure they understand what it takes to play in the big leagues,” Floyd said. “Be productive and be accountable. Allow the clubhouse to be that sanctuary away from the world.”

Like a lot of other former Mets players, Floyd’s comments suggest that this current team could use someone like him to act as a support system when things take a turn for the worse. Lack of leadership and accountability has been a central theme regarding the Mets failures the last three seasons.

Floyd is currently an unsigned free agent who is contemplating retirement. His career as a journeyman player has spanned over 17 seasons in which he has played for eight different major league clubs.

Since he’ll be able to start the season with the Mets, I feel that right fielder Jeff Francoeur could be a formidable leader on and off the field. He’s an everyday player who plays every inning like it’s his last. Plus, he welcomes the pressures that come with playing in New York and plays hurt. He doesn’t give up easily and seems to have a positive demeanor, even on the worst of days.

Who do you think could fill a leadership role for the Mets in 2010?

Surgery Places Beltran Back on the Shelf

January 15, 2010

The big “if” for the Mets heading into the 2010 season just got a little bigger. Centerfielder Carlos Beltran will most likely miss the first month of this season due to arthroscopic knee surgery. Beltran, hampered for most of his career with chronic knee pain, decided on the surgery after receiving a second opinion from Dr. Richard Steadman. Not from Dr. David Altchek, the Mets team physician.

In addition to Beltran’s inability to participate on Opening Day this season, he could very well face legal ramifications from the Mets front office for bypassing a third opinion. Mets assistant GM John Ricco admitted publicly that the Mets organization was disappointed with Beltran’s decision for surgery and argued that they were not afforded the opportunity to proceed otherwise.

With these latest developments, back-up outfielder Angel Pagan and prospect Fernando Martinez will most likely see themselves in a much bigger role than was originally expected.

Even though the calendar year says 2010, it sure feels eerily similar to 2009. Stay tuned.

Delgado Admits He’s Not Afraid to Slide

January 5, 2010

Mets former first baseman Carlos Delgado’s baseball career is finally moving in the right direction. The perennial slugger went 1-for-4 on Sunday in a late-season Puerto Rico Winter League game for the Carolina Giants. Playing on artificial turf, the 37-year-old has been relegated to DH duties. Delgado, however, will be able to brush up at first base when his team plays on natural grass.

Mets.com reports that the Mets organization, for the moment, does not have the Puerto-Rican native in their 2010 plans. The website also reports that only the Baltimore Orioles have displayed any interest in the veteran first baseman.

Being that Delgado is on borrowed time, the thought of bringing him back for more than one season is not highly recommended. Although, I was impressed at how successful he was in making the necessary adjustments at the plate during the latter part of 2008 and early 2009, his season was cut short by a hip impingement and hampered by a strained oblique.

If Delgado is healthy, I don’t see why the Mets wouldn’t bring him back. His unassuming leadership in the clubhouse and left-handed power coming off the bench could help a Mets team who managed just 95 home runs last year.

With Delgado’s assignment in Puerto Rico finally off the schnide, I’m anxious to see how much impact he can bring to the table these next few weeks.

Bay and Mets Reach an Agreement

December 30, 2009

Mets general manager Omar Minaya is scheduled to be in Costa Rica this weekend to enjoy a little break from the everyday malaise of reading post after anxious post from Mets season ticket holders pleading for a big name free agent signing this off-season.

To help justify or in some cases rationalize the large sums of money that they will most likely be plunking down this up-coming season, reports have surfaced placing thirty-one-year-old left fielder, Jason Bay, with the New York Mets for an agreed upon contract of four years at $66 million. This contract also includes a vesting option for a fifth and final year that will, in all likelihood, make Mr. Bay a very rich man.

To some Mets fans, pitching wins championships, for others, it’s how far you can hit the long ball. Jason Bay is a homerun hitter. He hit 36 of them playing for the Boston Red Sox last year. However, Bay’s defensive skills are inadequate, that’s only if you place him in a ten by ten foot area ala the chunk of real estate that currently adorns Fenway Park’s Green Monster.

If the Mets wanted a defensive specialist they would have smoothed out any lingering rough edges and signed former Mets outfielder, Mike Cameron. Bay was brought over here for one reason; he can hit the long ball.

When I heard the breaking news on Tuesday concerning Bay, the one name that came to mind was Dave Kingman. Kingman, nicknamed King Kong, was brought back to the Mets in the early nineteen-eighties for that very same reason, to send Mr. Spalding over the fence enough times warranting asses in the Shea Stadium seats.

In approximately five full seasons with the Mets, Kingman hit 154 of his career 442 jacks. Jason Bay has averaged 30 home runs per season over the last six seasons.

Pending any bad news regarding Bay’s shoulder after undergoing a physical, the Canadian-born slugger will be with the Mets in 2010 working hard to acquire the title of Citi Field’s first ever twenty-homerun-hitter.

It’s John Lackey and Pray for Rain

November 15, 2009

For ten long days, Mets GM Omar Minaya will be allowed to chit-chat with some of the most influential player agents in all of baseball. Prior to those meetings, Jeff Wilpon, the organization’s COO, saw his chance to commandeer Minaya into his office and reassure him that for what ever its worth, he was at his disposal. As Minaya exited the room, Wilpon confidently replied, “Give’m hell and get me another front-line starter.” Of course, these events are merely hearsay except for the chit-chat and most likely a fabric of my imagination. However, there is some semblance of truth in all of this; the Mets desperately need starting pitching.

Midway through the 2009 season, the then Toronto Blue Jays GM, John Ricciardi, shook the baseball world by threatening to trade one of the most dominating starting pitchers of this generation, right-hander Roy Halladay. To this day, those around baseball still can’t figure out why a mid-level organization like the Blue Jays would part with such a specimen. Nevertheless, a handful of teams jumped into the Doc Halladay sweepstakes and exposed who they really were, a team lacking starting pitching. Though it was unofficially documented, the New York Mets were one of those candidates that laid everything out on the table. Ultimately, it was not to Ricciardi’s liking. Back to the drawing board Minaya went where he was forced to wait until the end of the season to explore other options.

Perhaps, if you were to ask another of Minaya’s previous off-season acquisitions, closer Francisco Rodriguez, he would tell you that having a short-term memory is a good thing. So much so that Minaya has forgotten all about dealing for Halladay and has set his sights on landing another dominating right-hander, John Lackey. With such a stout performance against the World Champion New York Yankees in Game 5 of the ALDS in which Lackey lobbied Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia to leave him in a game that he considered to be his, the stakes to sign the veteran right-hander will most likely be high. (Initially, I was not so hot with the notion of Lackey coming to the Mets. However, I feel more comfortable now since his emotional stance after Game 5. Let’s be honest the Mets need to find someone that can bridge that gap between left-hander Johan Santana and the rest of the pack next season.)

    Footnote to this post

Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin alerted reporters stationed at the GM meetings that “no one has heard from” former Brewers right-hander Ben Sheets. Some Mets fans have suggested the 31-year-old could be lightning in a bottle. Using the 2009 Mets season as a reference, he could fit in very nicely. Sheets (torn flexor tendon in his right elbow) made five trips to the disabled list from 2005 to 2007 with a mixture of arm injuries to go along with an inner ear infection that led to vertigo.

Recent reports have mentioned the Phillies are very serious about acquiring Halladay. Some reports have the 2008 World Series MVP, Cole Hamels, throwing off a mound next season north of the border.

This post was inspired by the outlandish idea that any team would take a shot at signing the oft-injured Ben Sheets.

“I will tell you that he has a very good chance to be one of the most impactful free agents, without question,” Sheets’ agent, Casey Close said.

Early On, Mets Are Asked to Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is

November 12, 2009

Yes, it’s that time of year again. When Thanksgiving turkeys and jolly-old St. Nicholas are just as prevalent as a Scott Boras client searching for a big payday. The word on the street is that Boras has slapped the franchise tag on one his most sought after commodity, Matt Holliday. Wouldn’t you know, Mets GM Omar Minaya has penciled in the words, slugging left fielder, at the top of his Christmas list. However, reports have already surfaced that Mr. Holliday’s contract demands may pose a slight hurdle for an organization that is having doubts with signing players long term. I, personally, am not a big fan of the blockbuster deal myself.

Boras has hinted that an impact player such as Matt Holliday will demand Teixeira money, a contract worth $180 million for eight years.

Be sure and check out Mets Public Record on BlogTalk Radio this Thursday night at 10pm.

For Mets, Starting Pitching Should Be Their Top Priority

October 25, 2009

I was one of the millions who witnessed the outing that Angels’ right-hander, John Lackey, had in Game 5 of the ALCS last Thursday night against the Yankees. Prior to that gutsy performance, I had my doubts regarding Anaheim’s ace. I still do. Lackey recently turned 31 on Oct. 23rd. Is he worth the money? Will he have to undergo arm surgery similar to that of set-up man, J.J. Putz, an obvious bust?

Mets Blog’s Matthew Cerrone has reported that Jon Heyman of SI.com believes the Mets brass will pass on the Angels stopper and pursue other financial interests most likely, a left fielder. This assessment leads me to wonder if perhaps the organization is feeling a bit embarrassed due to their team’s inability to hit the long ball as opposed to parading Pat Misch and Nelson Figueroa out to the mound every fifth day.

If the Mets head into the 2010 season without addressing last season’s starting pitching woes, manager Jerry Manuel won’t last beyond the Memorial Day weekend.

Misch Earns Himself a Second Interview

September 28, 2009

The New York Times released a startling report yesterday stating that for every six applicants searching for employment there was just one open position available. With that in mind, holding on to one’s job security should be seen as a top priority. Having already been forewarned that his starting role was in jeopardy and in no hurry to test the current job market, Mets left-hander Pat Misch gave his manager more than he could ask for. He pitched a complete game shutout earning him his second win of the season and granting the Mets a two-games-to-one series victory over the Florida Marlins at Land Shark Stadium.

Misch’s previous start, against the Atlanta Braves last Monday at Citi Field, was his shortest outing of the season as a starter. The southpaw lasted just one-and-a-third innings, giving up eight earned runs on seven hits. That dismal outing prompted Mets manager Jerry Manuel to question Misch’s criteria as a full-time starter and to recommend that he be placed back into the Mets bullpen.

“Someone was telling me I might not get another chance to start. I’m glad Jerry stuck with me,” Misch said.

With six games remaining for the Mets this season, Misch will most likely be asked back for a final start. For the time being, he can hold off on sending out those resumes.

Faced With a Losing Season, Mets Fans Look on the Brighter Side

September 19, 2009

With the Mets’ season on life support these days, the will to soldier on has reached the point of absurdity. After winning for just the second time in twelve games on Saturday, any reason for a positive outlook is most welcome. Witnessing one disappointing performance after another by Mets starting pitching coupled with bad base running and worsening defensive plays, you could see why any die-hard fan would be searching for other forms of entertainment. However, before you start calling for the heads of Daniel Murphy and Angel Pagan, let’s look at some of the good things that have materialized this year for the Mets.

Right fielder Jeff Francoeur, since being brought over to the team via a trade, has hit .318 with seven home runs and 34 RBIs in just 63 games. With so many questions heading into the 2010 season for the Mets, Francoeur gives them a solid number sixth hitter who can drive in runs.

Luis Castillo may be this season’s National League comeback-player-of-the-year, justifying his four-year contract by simply staying healthy. He’s played a large part throughout the majority of games for the Mets thus far this season and is currently batting .306. Castillo is among the team’s top three in hits with 136 and runs with 76. He is also second on the club with 16 stolen bases. Castillo has been their most consistent hitter in addition to playing very solid defense at second base.

Catcher Omir Santos has been a nice surprise filling in for the often-injured Brian Schneider this season. Santos’ two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning back in May that gave the Mets a 3-2 lead against Boston Red Sox closer, Jonathan Papelbon, will go down as one of the most exciting wins for the Mets in 2009.

Right-hander Elmer Dessens, the Mets unofficial long man, has quietly pitched in 25 games so far this season. Dessens has shown that he is a stable choice as a middle reliever coming out of the bullpen. One of his many bright spots this season has been his ability to hold big league hitters to a .218 batting average.

So after all is said and done, it’s been a pretty forgettable and disastrous season for the Amazins. Admittedly though, this is hopefully a one-time thing—can’t imagine there will be many more seasons where your entire set of starters end up on the DL one after the other. At least there were a few positives along the way.