It’s been almost a week, but it’s still unfathomable that Terry Collins didn’t win Manager of the Year. What’s more, he didn’t even come in second. How did this happen?
It’s been almost a week, but it’s still unfathomable that Terry Collins didn’t win Manager of the Year. What’s more, he didn’t even come in second. How did this happen?
Quite a comedown since November 1, huh? Despite the somewhat unseasonal warmth we’ve had here in the northeast, the baseball winter has begun.
Since there are no games being played, baseball-related sites will depend on trade rumors and free agent signing speculation to generate clicks. This will further elevate the expectations for Mets GM Sandy Alderson and the Wilpon family to add a few big ticket items this offseason as the team attempts to take the final step.
I think the period from say, July 24 when they traded for Juan Uribe and the August 30 deal for Addison Reed will prove to be the exception and that the Mets will soon return to semi-hibernation as Alderson’s excruciatingly methodical plodding, coupled with the Wilpon’s financial insecurity, will limit the action. That hasn’t stopped every other site on the blogosphere from full-speed speculation. As we have seen in previous winters, this quickly goes over the top and leaves the fan base frustrated and feeling like they somehow have been cheated when nothing happens.
Now, it’s our turn. But in typical Mets Today fashion, we’d rather follow the road less traveled. Below is who we think the Mets won’t be getting. And just remember, the author of this column also correctly predicted the 2015 NL East winner and the outcome of the 2015 World Series!
For obvious reasons, we won’t include a single starting pitcher on this list. Also, there are more than likely going to be even more free agents shortly when the non-tender list is published. But since our millions of readers can’t wait, here we go…
I think the master plan is to mirror 2015 as closely as possible: stay close, ride the young guns until the All-Star break and then add a bat at the deadline. This offseason, the plan will be to strengthen the bullpen and the bench. Here’s how they will do it:
Well, at least this offseason will be the shortest on record. Only 112 days between Game Five and 2016 pitchers and catchers!
Author’s Note: The main point of this post is based on some pre-game remarks made last night by former Mets’ pitcher Ron Darling. The editorializing is all mine. If you reject this premise, blame Ronnie!
The Mets’ magic carpet ride crashed and burned last night at Citi Field. ICYMI, the Kansas City Royals defeated the Mets in 12 innings to clinch the World Series. Congrats to the Royals and their city. This one will hurt for a while. It would be poetic to say that Dame Momentum, who seemed to have taken up permanent residence in the Mets dugout since August 1, suddenly crossed the field into the KC dugout last Tuesday. But the reality of the situation is that the Mets, while vastly improved over last year (or even mid-season), just aren’t completely ready and on the biggest stage in baseball their flaws were finally exposed.
That’s why I loved Darling’s pre-game comments on SNY last night. He compared the 2015 team to the 1984 team, which like this one, won 90 games, the first winning season in over half a decade for this beleaguered franchise. Like their 2015 antecedents, the 1984 team rose to the top mainly due to the emergence of some young arms Darling (23), Dwight Gooden (19) and Sid Fernandez (21). These young arms, especially Gooden, captured the imagination of both the city and baseball. Doc’s starts that year (and next) where must see games.
Acting very un-Metsian like, both the ’84 and the ’15 teams imported veteran help and both took advantage of the sudden crumbling of a long-time division leader (the Nationals this year, the Phillies in 1984). One of the differences in the two seasons was the Chicago Cubs, who in 1984, added pieces like Dennis Eckersley (who interestingly enough was traded in May of that year for Bill Buckner). Like the Cubs of this year who improved drastically, their 84 version was suddenly really good and in the era of two divisions, became the Mets main rival for the division crown.
Like the early August showdown this year with the Nationals, the Mets went into Wrigley that August in second place (they had lost the division lead the week before) trailing the Cubs by a half game. The 2015 Mets sweep the Nationals out of Citi Field, dealing them a blow they would never recover from. In retrospect, the Mets won the NL East that weekend. In 1984, the veteran Cubs swept all four games from the Mets, dealing a mortal blow to their divisional crown hopes.
Ah, but what if the Mets had won a few of those games? What if Gooden hadn’t been blown out of the first game inside of four innings, or Darling in less than five the next day? What if the immortal Wes Gardner hadn’t blown the save in the last game, maybe salvaging the series and changing the momentum back to the Mets? What if the 1984 Mets had left the Cubs for dead in the Wrigley dust, the way they did to the Nats this year? Well, they maybe go on to win the NL East and without a Leon Durham-like error in the 1984 NLCS, perhaps they beat the equally unprepared San Diego Padres and capture an improbable NL crown.
Then, they would have run into the 1984 Detroit Tigers, one of the best teams of that era and been crushed in say, five games.
Take a look at the 1984 team’s roster on Baseball Reference. You will see a lot of names that had played on some previously bad Mets teams, a lot of the same names that wouldn’t be on the 1986 championship team. Take a look at this year’s roster and you see many of the former types of players, many of whom, I’d wager, won’t be on the next Mets world championship team. Both teams have great young arms and a solid core. The 1984 team just wasn’t ready and when they ran into a team of tough veterans in Chicago, every weakness was exposed. The 2015 Mets didn’t encounter this tough, veteran team until the World Series.
Neither team was quite ready. The 1984 team improved and the rest was history. Will the 2015 team improve? Time will tell. Of course I have some ideas on how to do it, but that’s another post!
Per the suggestion of Argonbunnies, let’s have some discussion about the first two games.
I’ll open with a few conversation starters …
– We’ve discussed here time and again that defense and fundamentals — i.e., “the little things” — are just as important as hitting for a championship club. That said, when Yoenis Cespedes blows the first ball hit to him, and doesn’t make up for it with his bat, well …
– Speaking of that first pitch of the initial inning, what was most surprising and/or detrimental: a) the fact Matt Harvey threw a fastball over the heart of the plate to a batter who swings at the first pitch of every at-bat; b) the fact that a fairly routine fly ball was misplayed into an inside-the-park homerun; c) the fact that the play was scored as a homer instead of a four-base error?
– Kelly Johnson is the best DH option?
– Why wasn’t Jonathon Niese brought out for a third inning of relief?
– If Jacob deGrom nor Harvey can stop the KC offense, who can?
Overall / In General:
– Why hasn’t Steven Matz been given the ball yet? What are the Mets waiting for?
– What’s up with Daniel Murphy‘s visible complaints about the strike zone? Does he have a legitimate beef, or is he not seeing the ball as well as he did previously in the postseason and is that why he’s suddenly cold?
– Can the Mets win if Cespedes doesn’t hit?
Again, these are merely conversation starters. Feel free to respond or start your own topic.
…Daniel Murphy and Wilmer Flores play league-average defense.
Y’know, if you had told me at the beginning of Spring Training that Sandy Alderson’s failure to land a bona-fide major league shortstop wouldn’t be an issue until the World Series, I probably would have been thrilled. Now, with the start of the Game One less than 36 hours away, I am somewhat less thrilled. I admit I have paid zero attention to the Kansas City Royals until Saturday morning, but from all accounts I’ve heard since, they are a contact-oriented offense, far less prone to the strikeout than any of the Mets other opponents so far this post-season.
If that is indeed the case, then the Mets’ most potent weapon, those power arms, is at least partially neutralized, as the big strikeout in a key situation will less likely than it was during the regular season and the playoffs. There could be a lot of balls put in play. While the Mets corner infielders and the outfield are certainly competent enough, the up-the-middle infield duo of Murphy and Flores does give one pause. And thanks to Chase Utley, the Mets have no real alternatives here, especially at shortstop, unless you really believe that Matt Reynolds could actually make his major league debut during a World Series game.
This season has certainly had more than its share of twists and turns for the Mets. Flores and Murphy have been major stories, Flores’ July tears and Murphy’s NLCS tear (see what I did here) figuring prominently in the narrative. Right before our very eyes, Alderson morphed from a smirking jackass to a baseball genius. Winning covers a multitude of sins. A couple of big errors by Wilmer will certainly take some of the shine off the season and will no doubt return us to the narrative of why Sandy couldn’t find a big-league glove at short.
I believe that the key to the Royals’ success in this series is to get men on and then move them over, disrupting the rhythm that the Mets young arms got into these last two series. Balls put in play will have to be played or they will be able to implement this strategy, causing the Mets pitchers to throw over and pitch out more, or worse, attempt to be too fine and put a meatball or two over the plate.
Unlike the Cubs, I expect Kansas City to be partially successful here. If the Mets can limit KC’s opportunities by not providing them with extra outs, I believe the Mets can win this series in six. If not, its Royals in five.
Your turn in this World Series Edition of Mets Today: What’s your prediction for the series? Does the clock strike twelve on one of this pair of Met Cinderellas? Is there another unlikely hero waiting in the wings? How much fun is this?
How hot is Daniel Murphy right now? How many hits do you think he’ll get in the World Series? Five? Seven? Ten? More?
Maybe you’d bet on six — would you put your money where your mouth is? Would you put that money toward something awesome? Like making a difference in the lives of youngsters? Here’s your chance.
Watching Jeurys Familia drop to his knees after sealing the sweep almost made me do the same. As a very long suffering Mets’ fan it felt more likely that Familia would get beamed up by aliens and replaced by a turnip who’d give up the lead run. I thought the Mets would beat the Dodgers… but the Cubs? And to never trail for a single inning? This time we’ve really entered The Twilight Zone.
The Invasion of the Body Snatchers pod replica of Daniel Murphy did everything right AND managed to come across as humanoid in interviews. TBS Back to the Future’d to my June 29th post and finally said that Steven Matz looks like Rory McIlroy. Lucas Duda went from Wall-E to The Terminator with his 5 RBIs. And TC finally morphed from Ol’ Potato Head into an adorable version of E.T.
I watching both series with my mouth open as I marked my Film students’ screenplays into the wee hours. The kids who struggled with names now have Murphy, Wright, Wilmer, Curtis and others as their characters. A guy named Familia now captures a serial killer. Thank you, Jeurys.
Let’s try to break down the insanity of the Mets success:
We knew the Mets’ pitching would be good and they’ve met those expectations. If you take Tyler Clippard out of the equation, the Metsies have been kinda great. Sure, they’ve had to grind it out at times – deGrom’s win in the LA decider, Familia with a couple of runners on base – but the power pitching of the Mets has proved as suited to the playoffs as we had hoped.
I’ve been trying to figure out some sort of different angle as to why power pitching works in the playoffs. So here goes…
The Mets power pitching plays in all conditions… but it’s ideally suited to cold weather ball. From the jarring foul balls and broken bats that make your hands sting for 10 minutes, a power pitcher has an advantage over a shivering hitter.
You can also see another effect by comparing R.A. Dickey to these guys. Dickey’s knuckleball is ineffective at the start of the season and – seemingly – indoors. He needs the baseball seams to “bite” the air to create movement. I played cricket and a cricket ball also “bites” more when the weather is humid. The heavier the atmosphere, the more swing you get (Argonbunnies, insert your choice of innuendo here).
The Mets threw some excellent breaking stuff, but they also knew they could rear back and throw the fast stuff at will. Meanwhile Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester didn’t quite have the gun speed. Arrieta actually looked a little ill, too.
Familia has been staggering. No wonder he caught that serial killer. He seems utterly fearless, which is easier to do when you have a 94mph split finger to fall back on. Never mind swinging at the pitch, I’d just run away.
And wasn’t it great to see Bartolo Colon trundle out of the bullpen? I don’t care whether it’s ice or cholesterol in his veins. He saunters in and out-chickens the opponent. What made Kris Bryant swing on that three and two pitch sinking way down? Because Colon spent the whole season throwing strikes. Big Bart will double up with The World Series of Baseball and Poker.
The Mets offense – bar a couple of breakout games – did just enough. Travis d’Arnaud and Yoenis Cespedes haven’t exactly caught fire, but they’ve popped a few homers. It was nice to see all of the lineup (including the pitchers) working at bats… and that started with the excellent Grandyman.
Curtis Granderson keeps grinding out two-strike at bats and he’s reined in his home run swing. He’s opened up his stance a little bit against lefties, and is fiddling around with some bunts too. The key is he’s making contact… striking out only five times in nine games. And for all of David Wright’s struggles, he still knows how to take a walk. Which was lucky given who’s batting behind him… SuperMurphy.
Daniel Murphy – The Metsiah – is aiming to match his usual 162 game homer total in the postseason alone. These are not cheap home runs either. Most of the shots have traveled over 400ft. What did they do with the real Murph? He’s been nicely humble in interviews and doesn’t really know what’s going on either. Kevin Long has apparently been helping him “get his foot down earlier” but, right now, Murph would probably hit a homer while bouncing on a pogo stick.
While the Mets defense hasn’t been infallible, it’s failed a lot less than in the regular season. And its effectiveness starkly contrasted with the Keystone Cubs outfield in the last series. Kyle Schwarber might be the next Babe with the bat, but he was channelling The Dude in the OF with his glove.
SuperMurphy has excelled here too – of course – with some nice diving grabs. But credit also to Duda at his natural first base position. He’s done a sweet job picking up tough hops and skidding throws to first base, and he’s justified his inclusion over the increasingly ossifying Michael Cuddyer.
The Mets baserunning might be the greatest deke of all time.
The Mets spent the regular season being mostly inactive on the bases. They were last in stolen bases. They left their best basestealer (Eric Young, Jr.’s speed is his one lonely tool) off the postseason roster. They also made comical gaffs on the basepaths, led by Lieutenant Dan “No Legs” Murphy.
It was all a clever ploy. SuperMurphy was setting up the NL. My most indelible memory of the post-season so far was watching – mouth wide open again – as Murphy nicked third base on Duda’s walk. That stolen base played a huge role in beating the Dodgers. And it took my breath away.
Murphy was seemingly in standard mode… a cross between a nervous squirrel and a hyperactive meerkat. He desperately looks around him as he takes a little lead. His head is spinning everywhere and he sees threats in all directions. Uncle Terry – as if warning his great-nephew to behave at a swimming pool – has rightly told Murph: “If you run, only bad things will happen.”
And yet Murphy went. And I cursed at the screen. And Murphy made the right decision. And SuperMurphy had proved me wrong. Again. At the start of the postseason, I wanted Kelly Johnson in the lineup instead of him… (Gulp).
On a personal level, I’m having a blast. The games finish between 4-6am here but I’m there for every minute. Dayjob be damned. I’m a diehard (and we are hard to kill) Mets fan but also one who appreciates this set of players. Most of the team is developed from the Mets system and the vets like Grandy, Wright and Cuddyer are very affable. Even SuperMurphy has only played the pious card once and he’s been charming and funny in interviews.
The other twist is that I like the Royals too, primarily because they play the best defense in either league. The Royals pitching is fun too… either terribly good or flat-out terrible.
I desperately want to Mets to win, of course, but the thought of this pitching strong team of destiny facing off against a superb AL team is a doozy in itself.
The Greatest Show On Earth? It’s up next…
It won’t go down in history as one of their better-played games, but the New York Mets outscored the Chicago Cubs 8-3 last night in Wrigley Field to win their fourth consecutive game of the National League Championship Series, securing a highly improbable berth in the 2015 World Series. More on that improbability later.
The Mets committed several cardinal sins last night: base running mistakes, several squandered opportunities to add tack on runs and relief pitchers falling behind early in the count. Plus, they lost arguably their best (but not their hottest) offensive player for no apparent reason. They did all of this on the road, a combination of circumstances that under normal conditions, usually equates to a loss. Fortunately for the Mets, last night was anything but a normal condition.
Granted, it was through the glare of the my TV screen, but I came away underwhelmed by the so-called Bleacher Creatures that we’ve heard so much about. The atmosphere in that old ballpark struck me as more of a rave than a playoff game . T-shirt? Check. Beer Mug? Check. White Towel? Check. Stand up and cheer? Check. Clap my hands? Check. I don’t know if I believe in curses, but the Cubs fans seemingly do, as they where taken out of the series the moment Miguel Montero dropped that third strike the game before. There was a collective “here we go again” resignation from them that would never happen in New York.
There is an deadly earnest seriousness to a playoff game in this city, Boston, or even Philadelphia that seemed lacking in Chicago. The crowd seemed more bystanderish than participants. I think that whoever the Mets face in the World Series next week will really need to brace themselves for what’s coming from the fans.
Back to the game itself, which had a surreal sense to it. I had to remind myself during the middle innings that the Mets where actually winning. Even after David Wright’s incredible snare of Starlin Castro’s liner in the 5th, I couldn’t shake a feeling of dread. I did relax to a point after Daniel (who’s Babe Ruth?) Murphy’s homer, but the suddenly unreliable Tyler Clippard gave those two runs back. Even the indomitable Jeurys Familia struggled just a bit in the ninth before getting a called strike three on Dexter Fowler to end the game and the series. The game lacked the drama of say Game 6 of the 86 NLCS, or the Todd Pratt walkoff, or Bobby Jones’ gem. But considering how nervous I felt during most of the game, perhaps the lack of drama was a good thing!
Like many long time Mets fans, I tend to compare this season to others, looking for similarities. This team is far from being a complete squad, which is what the 1986 and 2000 teams were. It much more closely resembles the 1973 team, that rode great pitching and timely hitting, rising up from the depths of the division, overcoming heavy favorites in that race and the NLCS, getting to within a manager’s mishandling of the pitching staff (RIP Yogi) to beating the Oakland A’s. This team and the run they put on from August 1 forward reminds me of that team. A lot of recent bad memories, including the Beltran strikeout and the 07 collapse, have been somewhat expunged this year. Here’s hoping that the Mets can now erase an older hurt in this long-time fan’s memory.
I waited 13 years from 1973 to 1986. It took them another 14 years to get back to the World Series again. Now, the wait was 15 years. At this rate, I’ll be 71 the next time the Mets get the World Series and 88, which is how old I am expected to live to, for the subsequent one. What a way to go! The point is, that I am definitely going to savor these next few days and can’t wait for the World Series to begin. My sense is that Murphy, Clippard and Bartolo Colon are goners for sure after the World Series. Yoenis Cespedes is 50/50 at best to come back. But I think Murphy put it best when asked about his contract status: that’s a question for the offseason, we’re still playing.
Play on! Lets Go Mets!
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