Archive for the 'New York Mets' Category

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April 21, 2010

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Let’s Go Mets!

When Santana’s On the Mound, It’s Money in the Bank

April 11, 2010

I’ve started a new tradition of trying to see the Mets play on Opening Day no matter where they’re playing. Last season’s opener at Cincinnati almost didn’t happen—foul, rainy weather that threatened a rain-out and since it was on a Monday, I had to call in sick to work (when in reality I was in Cincy praying that my flight wouldn’t be canceled or the game delayed.) Everything worked out, the Mets won and I even saw a pre-scandal Steve Phillips on my flight home.

Fast forward to this year: much less stressful. Took a personal day, great weather, decent nosebleeds seats, got a buzz at the new McFadden’s after the game, even managed to enter the ballpark early enough to receive one of those miniature Citi Field Home Run Apples as a souvenir. The apple also functions as a bank so I’ve decided to drop a quarter in the slot every time the Mets win. At the moment, there is a whopping fifty cents in there symbolizing their first two victories. If it wasn’t for a game-saving grab by Nationals left fielder Willie Harris in yesterday’s game, I would have accumulated another twenty five cents.

Nonetheless, today’s another day and I like my odds with Johan Santana on the mound. In seven career starts against the Nationals, the ace left-hander averages a little more than seven strikeouts a game with a won-lost record of 6-1 and an ERA of 2.63. I would have to say there’s a pretty good chance that I will be adding to my booty.

Another reason to feel confident that Santana and the Mets will emerge victorious this afternoon is that their counterpart, right-hander Livan Hernandez, age unknown, will be starting for the Nationals. Hernandez, in 33 career starts against the Mets, has allowed an average of seven hits to go along with a 4.58 ERA. Mets batters are hitting .289 with 25 homers, tied with the most by any major league team.

Mets fans will be the first to tell you that on days when Santana doesn’t pitch the likelihood of a Mets win is not so easy to compute. On this day, however, my gut tells me that I’ll be up twenty-five more cents by the end of the day.

Let’s Go Mets!

1986 to 2010: Confidence and Determination to Caution and Trepidation

March 28, 2010

Before the start of the 1986 Mets season, then manager Davy Johnson stood in front of all his players in the clubhouse and confidently proclaimed that this would be without a doubt the year in which the New York Mets would go all the way to the World Series and win it.

Coming off of two very successfully seasons in ’84 and ’85 that virtually put the Mets back on the baseball map, fans were also beginning to see the maturation of their farm system in pitcher Dwight Gooden and slugger Darryl Strawberry emerge right before their eyes. Why wouldn’t Johnson feel compelled to profess that his ball club was the best in the business?

Eager to prove the naysayers wrong that the Mets weren’t just a bunch of overfed, immature, downright scum, they fulfilled their manager’s prophecy in dramatic fashion no less and won the whole goddamn thing.

Fast forward to this upcoming season and to present-day Mets manager, Jerry Manuel, who has also made some of his own personal predictions although none as bold as his fiery predecessor’s. Manuel, who will be starting the 2010 season under the veneer of a lame-duck year, stood in front of his players and demanded at the very least fundamental baseball. Instead of using words like achievement and redemption, Manuel spoke in terms of prevention and recovery.

With a large majority of his players returning from the disabled list, Manuel is proceeding with caution. Like any good manager, Manuel would rather have his starting shortstop Jose Reyes available for the duration of the season rather than push him for Opening Day and place his overall status in jeopardy.

Looking back on the 1986 season, the Mets had Dwight Gooden’s dominating pitching, Keith Hernandez’ consistent play both defensively and at the plate, and a lethal combination of power and speed in a young Darryl Strawberry. The Mets along with their manager, Davy Johnson, were ready for greatness.

As for Manuel, with the 2010 season on its way, the focus will be on staying healthy and deciding which reliever will be coming out of his bullpen to set up for his closer.

Is Daniel Murphy A Shoe-In at First Base?

March 20, 2010

Shortstop Jose Reyes and centerfielder Carlos Beltran are without a doubt the most popular players on the Mets ballclub. Unfortunately for both of them, they have also had to endure the harshest criticism. Reyes has had to defend himself of late because of his inability to avoid the disabled list and Beltran has undergone two major knee surgeries within the last year that have kept him off the field more so than on.

With the current status of Reyes and Beltran in limbo, the ballclub has found itself relying on other types of players such as, Daniel Murphy, their projected first baseman for this upcoming season. Murphy has not only been heralded by the Mets organization as the de facto leader of this current wave of promising young talent coming out of their farm system but has also experienced his fair share of scrutiny equal to that of some of the Mets established veteran players. Ever since the soon-to-be-24-year-old broke out onto the scene in late 2008, he has been able to participate on the major league level in some capacity.

On Friday against the Minnesota Twins, he put up another goose egg in the hit column leaving six men on base and lowering his spring average in ten games to a disheartening .133. With those types of preseason numbers, Murphy’s critics could feel justified in their arguments that he shouldn’t simply be handed the first baseman’s job come April 5th.

In a recent article on, Murphy stressed that he never reads any stories about himself and later added, “I can’t control that stuff.”

As depressing a .176 on-base percentage and a .233 slugging percentage may sound, Mets manager Jerry Manuel still seems pleased with Murphy’s progress thus far.

“He’s looked extremely well at first base,” Manuel said. “He’s very aggressive. We feel very, very, very comfortable and confident that he can get the job done at the Major League level and play well.”

Prospect Ike Davis will likely be starting the season at Triple-A and Mike Jacobs who was brought over to the Mets with the hopes of taking the first base man’s job away from Murphy is hitting just .200. Jacobs however has produced two home runs in twenty preseason at-bats.

That being said, Murphy may have already earned the right to begin the 2010 season as the Mets starting first base merely by default.

One Up, One Down: Mejia and Reyes Are on the Move

March 6, 2010

Jenrry Mejia, a name that has drawn a lot of attention this past week down in Port St. Lucie, Fla., is just one of the many unexpected developments to come out of Mets camp. Mejia, a twenty-year-old right hander who hails from the Dominican Republic, has been able to put a lid on his control problems, allowing his raw talents to take their proper course. Mejia has electric stuff. He throws a 96 mph fastball with a lot of movement that can make even the most talented hitters miss. In two-and-a-third innings of work on Friday, Mejia managed to strike out four of the seven batters he faced.

In addition to a high-octane fastball, he also has a changeup and what scouts are calling a decent curveball. Fortunately for Mejia, possessing a naturally cutting fastball could very well be all the juice he needs in landing a role as the Opening Day set-up man for closer Francisco Rodriguez. With Mejia as a formidable front runner for that position, Mets manager Jerry Manuel is faced with an even more difficult task if and when he decides on who will be the eighth inning guy out of the bullpen.

“What he has to do is prove that for the most part he can throw consistent strikes. If he can do that, he’s got somebody fighting for him,” Manuel said.

On a down note, shortstop Jose Reyes was scratched from his scheduled start in Friday’s split-squad matchup at Tradition Field against the Marlins. The Mets lost that game, 4-3, when Florida’s Mike Stanton crushed a 2-run HR off of Bobby Parnell in the 10th inning.

Reyes, on the other hand, was diagnosed with an imbalanced thyroid that doctors later classified as overactive. According to the NY Times, the symptoms associated with this condition include loss of weight, hyperactivity, bulging eyes, and excessive sweating.

However, Reyes has confirmed none of those symptoms. In spite of how he feels, the Mets have taken the proper precautions. Reyes will be retested in New York on Monday, delaying those results until Wednesday. Doctors have suggested that the Mets catalyst may be sidelined for up to a month as he is monitored and receives the necessary treatment.

“This is not what I want to be doing,” Reyes said. “I am disappointed.”

“I don’t know what’s going on, this is the first time I’ve ever had something like this,” he added.

“I have to be worried. I can’t do anything…I’m getting tired of it. My team is always playing without me. I want to play.”

Manuel Prepares the Kool-Aid But Are We Ready to Drink It

February 20, 2010

As I sat by my computer yesterday listening to Mets manager Jerry Manuel discuss the many ways in which he would construct his starting lineup for the 2010 season, I felt compelled to jot down my own version of New York’s various batting orders. After several attempts to outdo the well-respected skipper by batting shortstop Jose Reyes sixth, I conceded and felt it best to leave the decision making up to the man in charge.

Manuel was his usual open-ended self on Friday as he addressed concerns regarding the Mets starting rotation, the catcher position, and how airy and light third baseman David Wright appeared to be carrying himself after such a demanding season.

Upbeat and clear-minded, Manuel even poked fun at himself while professing that the longer he stayed amongst the many sour-faced beat reporters, the worse off his team would be. Eventually, his bellowing laugh would finally subside. Only then did he begin to turn his attention to more serious matters for example, which reliever would bridge the gap to closer Francisco Rodriguez.

“We have to find that person,” Manuel said. “It’s going to be difficult. The quicker we resolve that…the better off in the long run.”

If health was the obvious reason why the 2009 season ended in such devastating fashion, a weak bullpen the previous year could be seen as a no-brainer when explaining why our beloved orange and blue were unable to patch things up and reach the post-season in 2008.

Fortunately for Manuel, he inherited that underperforming bullpen from his predecessor, Willie Randolph, and was given an incomplete for the struggles he was made to endure in that department. Manuel’s advice for a solid bullpen this year; throw strikes and consistently pound the strike zone, simple enough.

After quelling the rumors by stating that Daniel Murphy had all but solidified himself as the club’s first baseman, he also reinforced the notion that there was indeed a fifth starter race brewing between right-hander Fernando Nieve and Jon Niese, the Mets homegrown left-hander.

In reference to a question as to how much space separated the Mets from the first-place Phillies this season, Manuel proceeded with caution. When asked if he thought this particular group of guys could be a contender for the post season in 2010, the Mets skipper confidently replied, “What I like is the fact that almost seventy percent of the guys were here early for Spring Training.”

“That says a lot,” he added. “It’s a good sign of some positive things for us on the horizon.”

With the recent setbacks to starting centerfielder Carlos Beltran and the expected eighth inning reliever Kelvim Escobar all too real, these next four to five weeks will be either a springboard for better days to come or just a case of the same old story for the New York Mets.

Other tidbits from Manuel’s presser:

Alex Cora is the Mets back-up shortstop.

Catcher Henry Blanco will be limited in his usage behind the plate.

Angel Pagan and Mike Jacobs are very much in-line to make the Mets 25-man roster.

According to Manuel, Spring Training is a tough place to evaluate players, Florida’s Josh Johnson is a very good pitcher, and number 53 works just fine for him.

For 2010, Mets Ask Fans to Just Believe

February 15, 2010

In the next few days, the city of Port St. Lucie, Fla. will be officially open for business as it kicks off the Spring Training portion of the Mets 2010 season. Coming off such a sour year in which they finished in fourth place with ninety-two losses, a fresh start is most definitely in order.

With injuries to key players and poor pitching being the main causes for such a forgettable season last year, heading into this upcoming season ultimately pain-free and ready to go is all you can expect at this point. If you speak to anyone affiliated with the Mets from season ticket holders down to those responsible for checking their tickets you would be met with the same consensus.

“I believe that we are going to improve,” Mets ace Johan Santana has said. “We weren’t a full team last year.”

“Baseball is a fun game,” he added. “If guys try to do too much… and not try to do someone else’s job, we will be fine.”

Even though the Mets front office, ownership included, were unable to acquire a front-line starter to complement the left-handed Santana, there is no question that Mets players and coaches are excited to get this part of the baseball season underway.

Along with newly-acquired free agent slugger Jason Bay, the Mets expect to have their catalyst back, shortstop Jose Reyes, at one hundred percent. With a healthy Reyes in the Mets lineup, manager Jerry Manuel would likely have lesser things to worry about.

Pitching Coach Dan Warthen, on the other hand, is banking on three of his projected starters, Oliver Perez, John Maine, and Mike Pelfrey, to undergo a complete turn-around from last season. Maine and Perez are coming off injuries and Pelfrey is searching for whatever was lost during his second full season with the Mets.

“Pelfrey loves the challenge,” Santana said. “He’s dropped twenty pounds and has been telling a lot of people that he wants to win.”

“Maine has the stuff to be a starter,” he added.

Regarding Perez, Santana replied, “Ollie has to get back to being Ollie.”

Not only will the Mets not have one of their perennial leaders in centerfielder Carlos Beltran at the beginning of the season due to injury, they will also not be carrying veteran Carlos Delgado as well. Delgado has remained unsigned as he makes his comeback from major hip surgery.

“When I think of a veteran, I think of a leader, like Carlos Delgado,” Maine said in a recent interview with Mets Blog’s Matthew Cerrone. “Someone else is going to have to fill that void. I just think what he’s done, who he is, and his demeanor…he was perfect for that,” he added.

The theme of this season is entitled, “We Believe in Comebacks.” If the Mets can stay healthy and their starting rotation can perform to their potential, perhaps, Mets fans will allow themselves to start believing again and have faith that things are moving in a positive direction.

In closing, since 2006, the NL East division from top to bottom has gotten exponentially better. For the Mets to have a winning chance at the division this season, its imperative that they remain healthy and stay consistent throughout the year. And also hope that the players they currently have in place are able to produce better numbers than they have in the past.

Let’s Go Mets!

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?

Too Negative, Mets Fans Tune Out

January 30, 2010

Adam Rubin of the NY Daily News was a recent guest on WFAN this past week. Rubin has made a name for himself as a New York Mets beat writer. Most notably, he was accused of instigating the firing of former Mets VP of Player Development Tony Bernazard. In contrast to what Mets GM Omar Minaya strongly believed at the time, Rubin wanted to make it known that he had no specific agenda heading into this upcoming season. However, he did mention that that particular chapter in his career still wasn’t sitting well.

“I have a range of emotions about it…to question my integrity,” Rubin said. “It still bothers me.”

Many baseball writers according to Rubin see Minaya as a dead man walking a general manager whose job is on the line if his team is unable to put a winning product on the field this season.

“Maybe a GM vacancy soon,” Rubin said jokingly along with host Steve Somers.

It’s no secret that those that make their living covering the Mets have their doubts in the current structure of the Mets front office. Aside from signing free-agent Jason Bay this off-season, Minaya has made more headlines defending his autonomy than acting on it.

With assistant GM John Ricco and former Cincinnati Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky sitting on the back-burner, even the passing Mets fan can see the writing’s on the wall.

Rubin goes on to blatantly say that “the Mets are a joke” and predicts that they will end up being closer to five hundred than to the Phillies. Feeling somewhat “neutered” by all of Omar’s allegations, Rubin seems to put forth a challenge to Mets fans by sternly saying, “I don’t care,” when questioned for not having regard for the current Mets starting lineup.

In my opinion, Rubin may have lost some of his edge since being scolded by Minaya during that infamous press conference. However, any disrespect he has gained since then was brought on by his own doing. His tone now replicates that of other young baseball journalists who spend too much time criticizing how things are run instead of watching the players run.

Maybe it stems from most of them, the writers, having grown up witnessing the game of baseball suffocated by enormous payrolls and the stain that remains from the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

In closing, Rubin ends off the interview in fitting fashion. “There’ll be shorter lines at the Shake Shack this season.”

Mini-Camp Offers Some Progress

January 28, 2010

At the end of the day on Wednesday, the Mets concluded a three-day mini-camp inside Port St. Lucie, Fla., their Spring Training facility, and categorized it as a job well done. For manager Jerry Manuel that may be the case but what did Mets fans get out of this?

They have realized that for the time being, there will be no new faces but just happier more excited faces among their starting rotation. “I’m excited,” Oliver Perez said. “I feel very good.” Healthier and stronger, or even, leaner faces.

“The main key for us is to stay healthy, stay on the field.” Johan Santana said.

The harsh reality for the Mets pitching staff particularly their starters entering the upcoming season is that the majority of them has either undergone surgery or are rehabbing from injury.

“If we stay healthy, we can be very competitive this season.”

Some beat writers have used this mantra by GM Omar Minaya against him. They have proposed the idea that Minaya is already preparing his defense if the Mets happen to experience the same fate as last year’s.

For now, Mets fans have to entrust that Minaya’s lack of off-season moves will allow them to forget the past and look toward the future.