Mets Game 99: Loss To Mariners

Mariners 5 Mets 2

Mets pitchers were much more efficient than Seattle’s (123 pitches to 164), and the Mets offense collected at least one hit in every single inning. However, the final score numbers are the ones that matter most.
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Mets 2014 Games

Mets Game 98: Loss To Padres

Padres 2 Mets 1

At least they weren’t no-hit.
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Mets 2014 Games

The Iconoclastic Cynic vs. The Unabashed Fanboy

I never thought I would be typing these words this year, but I actually set time aside on Sunday to tune into the Mets-Marlins game. It didn’t hurt that my new favorite Met was taking the hill, but also after catching the final few innings of Saturday’s come from behind win, I wanted see what they could do for an encore.

The Mets didn’t disappoint, erupting for nine runs in convincing thumping of the Marlins, a team that less than one month ago, appeared poised to leave the Mets floundering in their wake. With the win and the series sweep, the Mets have moved into third place in the National League East, and left me saying “who are these guys?” to myself.

And then, as if the day couldn’t get any better, I got back from my announcing gig in time to see Noah Syndergaard get the save in the Futures Game.

The last few years have been brutal, just as bad IMO, as the late 1970’s. Self-preservation and advancing age have made me reflectively cynical about anything Mets. For example, this ESPN piece on Sandy Alderson looking for a shortstop and a leftfielder at the trade deadline struck me as an outright lie, calculated to build website traffic and fan interest. After all, the Wilpons still own the team, Alderson is still the GM and Terry Collins remains the manager.

I still think that when the Mets do finally get good again, that most of roster will have been turned over. But, I am softening my stance a bit in that the turnover percentage may be lower than what I thought it needed to be during May and June. While the Mets will likely not make the playoffs, there is still half a season left and I believe that there is a way for them to stay interesting without having to Kazmir-Trade the (hopefully) near future away.

They have most of the pitching they need. The next step is to get a day-in-day-out starting lineup and batting order. Collins may have stumbled over/awoken to something with the batting order during the Miami series. Starting this Friday in San Diego, this should be the Mets regular lineup:

1. Curtis Granderson: I mocked it at first, but inserting Granderson in the leadoff spot may end up being Collins’ best move all season. Granderson could only lead off once per game, but it’s those extra at bats this affords him that are benefiting the team. Plus—it gives everyone else a “spot.”

2. Daniel Murphy: Speaking of spots, Daniel was really jerked around, both in the field and the lineup for several years. I wonder just how much he has benefitted from a consistent place in the lineup. Yes we know all about Wilmer Flores (more on him shortly) and Dilson Herrera, but there is no way the Mets should part with Murph at the trading deadline. I know that I am writing this on a blog that has historically been more empirical rather than anecdotal, but Murphy seems to really “get it” and I think the Mets would greatly miss him.

3. David Wright: Will success spoil him? Will he walk around a champagne-soaked dressing room with a smug “I told you so” look on his face? Wouldn’t we like to find out?

4. Lucas Duda: With every passing game, it looks ever more certain that Alderson guessed right in keeping Duda over Ike Davis. If Lucas has finally realized that there is also a left field and if he can consistently drive balls that way, then he may be changing the course of his career.

5. Travis d’Araund: Like the Granderson move, I wasn’t crazy about d’Araund in the five hole, but upon further reflection, this is the type of trial that a team like the Mets should be taking. Instead of babying him any further, they need to be tossing him into the mix, so they can find out by the end of the season if Travis can cut it. He certainly has looked like a new man since his return from Vegas.

6. Kirk Nieuwenhuis: Saturday’s Chris Young heroics aside, my sense is that left field and the six spot need to go to Kirk for the remainder of the second half. Kirk may prove to be at best a fourth or fifth outfielder, but he has shown just enough flashes in all aspects of his game, that like Duda and d’Araund, he should be afforded a longer look. There have been plenty of upper cut swings and misses to keep me skeptical, but barring any trades, the alternatives here are the Youngs and we know what we are getting from them.

7. Juan Lagares: Defensively, he’s the goods. They need to keep him healthy. Also keep him low in the order Terry! Remember how he batted fifth all those times last year?

8. Ruben Tejada: Ugh. I am still not a fan. I would rather bring the hot-hitting Flores back up and insert him a little higher in the order. But I will give Tejada his due, he has been playing better. While he is only 24 (the youngest Met regular), I get the feeling that he has peaked already. He doesn’t do any one thing particularly well. But if I can get the other seven in, I guess I will take Ruben.

Just entertain me for the next ten weeks, that’s all I ask. (Unless they keep winning, then I’ll want more).

So how goes your fandom?

Mets 2014 Games

Game Recaps (Sort Of) and a Gee-nious Move

In Joe’s absence, I will attempt to keep the lights lit around here.

The Mets took three of four from the Braves this week. Dillon Gee pitched well and Travis d’Araund extended his coming out (no not that type of coming out) party. On the down side, Juan Larges’ offensive struggles continue and most disturbingly, Jeurys Familia couldn’t get loose while warming up and wasn’t used in either game.

The Mets wrap up the first half of the season against the fading Marlins, starting tonight. They travel to San Diego after the All-Star break. After a three-game stop in Seattle, they face the Brewers in Milwaukee and the Phillies at home to wrap up July. This is the stretch that will determine the course of the 2014 season—as with the exception of the Mariners, the Mets have been playing better recently than the next few teams on their schedule. This is their opportunity to win each series and at least pull within hailing distance of the .500 mark. Respectability is the first step back, right?

While it seems that WFAN has become all-Yankees, all-of-the time, I had the somewhat good fortune to be tuned in when Mike Francessa broached the subject of trading Gee. Francessa favors moving Gee over one of the Mets younger arms, a notion that I tend to agree with him on. Like most fans, I would rather trade Bartolo Colon and hold on to Gee, but I sense that Gee’s value is very high right now and I would attempt to move him this month.

Humor me for a moment and project a Met starting rotation, circa 2015-2017…

You probably have some combination of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard and Jon Niese, yes? That leaves Gee, Jacob deGrom and the intriguing Steven Matz as the main competition for the 5th spot, along with the still-time-to-develop Rafael Montero. Who would you take from those four? (My pick is deGrom). Colon has value in that, if needed, he could do next year what he has done this year: hold down a spot if one or more of the young arms proves to be unready at the start of 2015. Yes, so could Gee, but trading Colon (plus his salary) would only get them the type of return that Ike Davis did. It wouldn’t help them this year and doesn’t really make them better during this supposed window of opportunity either.

For the first time in decades, the Mets farm system is moving in the right direction; however the top position players in the system are currently blocked by players who could (or should) remain Mets for a while. Moving Gee, who is under control until 2017, along with Carlos Torres and maybe Bobby Abreu to a team like Seattle, Kansas City, Cleveland or St. Louis, teams much closer to a playoff spot than the Mets are, should be able to garner a package that includes either the power or the speed prospect that their offense needs and the farm system currently lacks.

What do you think? Help keep the site active—sound off below!

Mets 2014 Games

Mets Game 90: Win Over Braves

Mets 8 Braves 3

Mets lambast Braves, and well on their way toward sweeping the series and making a big run for the postseason.
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Mets 2014 Games

Mets Game 89: Win Over Braves

Mets 4 Braves 3

Mets avoid the possibility of being swept at home by beating the Braves in game one of a four-game set.
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Mets 2014 Games

Every Once in a While…

And then, there are weekends like this past one, where you start to think maybe, just maybe. When Juan Lagares throws out another runner at home, Travis d’Araund comes up big late in the game, when the quartet of Vic Black, Josh Edgin, Jeurys Familia and Jennry Mejia look like world-beaters and when Zack Wheeler matures before your very eyes. A weekend when down on the farm, two top prospect pitchers twirl gems and the middle infielder your GM swiped from a team starving for a post-season berth hits and fields like a young Robbie Alomar (that was the good version of Robbie). You forget that the Wilpons are the owners, that your manager has never won anything and that the GM will probably snooze through another trade deadline. You forget that your ace pitcher is still recovering from serious arm surgery and that your top lefty has just gone back on the DL.

This is the beauty of baseball, that the game is always right in front of you and that when played well, the possibilities seem endless. In one of the most brilliant pieces of prose ever written by an American writer, the great William Faulkner described how every southern boy 14 years old can always get to the place just before two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, when the charge hasn’t happened yet and there is still all that much to gain. Baseball can be like that too.

Speaking of the south, I think that the Atlanta Braves will march in and ruin this feeling and we will soon be back to fire Terry, cut Chris Young and why don’t they make a trade for one of those Cub shortstops.

Meantime, savor the feeling.

Mets 2014 Games

Mets Game 88: Win Over Rangers

Mets 8 Rangers 4

Mets win a series!


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Mets 2014 Games

Mets Game 87: Loss To Rangers

Rangers 5 Mets 3

Mets lose to Rangers but remain .500 over their last two games.


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Mets 2014 Games

Mets Game 86: Win Over Rangers

Mets 6 Rangers 5

Mets finally win a one-run game.
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Mets 2014 Games

Mets Game 85: Loss To Braves

Braves 3 Mets 1

Mets swept by Braves and are oh-for-July. At least it wasn’t another one-run loss(?).
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Mets 2014 Games

Are Mets Buyers or Sellers?

Quick question for you: are the Mets buyers, or sellers, with the trade deadline looming? Why or why not?
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Opinion and Analysis

Mets Not Worst In June

Good news, Mets fans: after being the worst team in MLB in May, the Mets were NOT the worst team in June. In fact, they weren’t even the worst team in the National League.

That’s right — the Mets’ 11-17 record in June was a far cry from Colorado’s 8-20. But, the bottom four teams beyond the Rockies were neck and neck; see the “race to worst” standings for the month of June below:

Race To Worst: June

Team
W
L
PCT
RS
RA
DIFF
Rockies820.286139187-48
Padres1017.3706095-35
Giants1016.38593116-23
Mets1117.393105103+2
Marlins1116.407101125-24
Phillies1217.414104113-9
Diamondbacks1214.462110114-4

Wow, not much separating numbers two through six, eh?

Again, what jumps out at me is the run differential — the Mets are the only team in the race-to-worst standings with a positive integer. What does that mean? So strange.

It’s too early to start posting race-to-worst standings for July, but the Mets are already a leg up (or under?) by dropping the first game of the month. Luckily, the Mets move on from Atlanta to play the similarly struggling Texas Rangers, have a three-game set against the Marlins, and also meet the patsy Padres and the phading Phillies before the end of this month, so they have a decent shot at not being the worst team in July. But who knows what might happen, especially considering the trade deadline. What do you think? Will the Mets be better in July than they were in May and June? Why or why not? Answer in the comments.

Shea What?

Mets Game 84: Loss To Braves

Braves 5 Mets 4

The final score reflects a one-run game, but for some reason, it didn’t feel that close.

Oh by the way, the Mets are now 10 games under .500.

Mets Game Notes

Against the best pitching in the league, the Mets scored runs. Then, Daisuke Matsuzaka would render the scoring useless by letting the Braves score.

Not sure why Chris Young was throwing home on a two-out Christian Bethancourt single that easily scored B.J. Upton in the bottom of the fourth. As a result of the throw going home, Bethancourt was able to get to second base, and while he didn’t score, it’s the process with which I take issue — the ends do not justify the means. Keith Hernandez was asking “where is the cutoff man?” but where Young picked up the ball, to me, was too shallow to warrant a cutoff man — Young needed to make the decision to throw the ball to second base in that situation.

Daniel Murphy genuinely made me laugh when he tried to deke B.J. Upton on an overthrow by Travis d’Arnaud in the fifth, prompting Keith Hernandez to call Murphy “a bad magician.” I’m not saying that to be mean at all, I swear — he really did make me laugh and I thought it was great. Murphy constantly tries to deke runners ALL THE TIME, to the point where it could be considered “bush league,” but, what the heck? He has nothing to lose other than respect, right? Who knows, one of these times he might fool someone and get an out, and it’s little things that can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Hey, you know I get on Murphy constantly for his baserunning gaffes and brain freezes — the little things that regularly prevent the Mets from winning — and many of you think that I’m a “hater” as a result. I’m not, and for the umpteenth time, my criticism for Murphy is the curmudgeon in me striking out against ALL young, fundamentally challenged ballplayers we see today — Murphy is my poster child for a lost generation of wonderfully gifted, offensively polished, but otherwise awful ballplayers. At the same time, I can and do recognize Murphy works his butt off, wants to do well, and occasionally practices winning habits. Unfortunately, that’s the problem with today’s ballplayers — the “occasionally” part. To quote Vince Lombardi, “you don’t do things right some of the time, you do them right ALL of the time.”

Another thing that made me laugh was Gary Cohen gleefully bringing up the fact that Stephen Drew is currently hitting “a buck forty” while Ruben Tejada “has turned his season around,” and asked if people advocating for Drew all winter should be apologizing. Oh, boy, Gary, don’t go there just yet. Tejada’s been decent at the plate for what? Ten games? During which he’s made nearly as many mistakes in the field as excellent plays? And Drew — who didn’t have the benefit of spring training — has played 19 games and made less than 70 plate appearances? Tread carefully with that talking point, it may bite you in the butt before long. Particularly of note is the fact that Drew has historically been a slow starter, and in years where he’s been healthy enough to play a second half, has almost always put up better numbers after the All Star Exhibition.

Nice catch by Juan Lagares on a Justin Upton deep drive to the left-center gap in the bottom of the seventh to save a run. Or as Gary Cohen said, “Lagares’ glove — where extra-base hits go to die.” Nice one.

I agree with Keith: how the heck did Jordan Walden learn to “pitch” like that, leaping two feet off the rubber before foot strike? Gary wondered aloud why/how he gets away with it, and it’s probably because many (most?) pitchers’ back foot is disengaged from the rubber prior to release — it’s not as unusual as you might think, because it’s not as obvious without the help of slow-motion video. If umpires started calling balls or “no pitch” (?) on Walden for releasing the ball when his back foot was off the rubber, they’d have to do the same to dozens of other MLBers — only, it would be more difficult to detect in real time. Regardless, Walden’s style is bizarre, and not something that youngsters should emulate.

Remember how people used to gush over Ike Davis‘ defense, and particularly, his ability to scoop balls in the dirt? (Personally, I never thought he was special in that regard compared to average everyday MLB first basemen.) Well, have you yet seen Lucas Duda muff a bad throw in the dirt that he should’ve handled? Hasn’t he been doing a pretty solid job of digging out short throws from his fellow infielders? I think so. Though, I suppose Duda needs to dive into the stands a few times to catch foul balls before people will start anointing him a Gold Glove. In all seriousness, Duda has been nondescript on defense — meaning, unnoticeable, which is a good thing, as he’s made all the plays he’s supposed to make, and what more can you ask of a first baseman?

Does Craig Kimbrel normally hum his fastball at 98-99 MPH? I remember him being more 95-96 with a 97 mixed in, but according to the gun displayed on the SNY telecast, he was flirting with triple digits on every fastball. Whoa. Then he mixes in that slider? Not fair. Reminds me of Goose Gossage back in the day.

The Mets have had 30 games decided by one run this year — by far, the most in MLB (next-closest is 25 by the Royals) — and have Ylost 20 of them. Gee whiz, how does that happen? #smallthings #badmanaging

Not for nuttin’, but we’ve been discussing the little things here at this blog for how long? Eight years? Yeah. Shall I quote Vince Lombardi again, or are we going to whine about the Mets’ lack of “one more bat”?

Speaking of bats, during the postgame, Bobby Ojeda touched on the fact that Terry Collins tends to “play the hot hand” when it comes to making out the lineup. Earl Weaver was a master at this, as was Gil Hodges. Collins? Not so much, at least from what we’ve seen — though maybe there are advanced metrics that may prove that theory wrong?

I’m starting to feel bad for Collins during the postgame press conferences. If nothing else, he’s been handling three and a half years of failure with aplomb, and keeping his cool. Maybe that’s why the Mets front office picked him in the first place — because they knew tough times were ahead, and they’d need someone adept at handling the daily grind of answering the same depressing questions about why the team was losing more games than they win. A truly fierce competitor — someone hell-bent on winning — would not have done well in this job over the past three and half years. Look at how Willie Randolph — someone who expected to win — evolved as things became more dire. Jerry Manuel was a fairly adept loser for a while, until he just couldn’t bear it any more. Collins is doing a yeoman’s job of handling the inevitable — kudos to him for keeping it together this long.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Braves do it one more time on Wednesday at 7:10 PM. Jacob deGrom goes to the hill against Julio Teheran.

Mets 2014 Games

RIP Frank Cashen

No glasses, no bow tie? Yeah, that's Frank Cashen.

No glasses, no bow tie? Yeah, that’s Frank Cashen.

Rest in peace, Frank Cashen, who passed away at the age of 88.

Cashen was the architect — and I really do believe that’s the correct term — of the Baltimore Orioles winning ORGANIZATION. Not team, organization. He created “The Oriole Way” that is now used as a marketing tagline by the Ripken brothers.

Cashen was also the brains behind the building of the Mets organization in the 1980s, put in charge of everything (including the hiring of broadcasters, it turns out) by the greatest owner in Mets history, Nelson Doubleday, Jr.

Frank Cashen

Now, that’s more like it.

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