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?

A Mets fan since 1971, Dan spent many summer nights of his childhood watching the Mets on WOR Channel Nine, which his Allentown, PA cable company carried. Dan was present at Game 7 of the 1986 World Series and the Todd Pratt Walkoff Game in 1999. He is also the proud owner of two Shea Stadium seats. Professionally, Dan is a Marketing Manager in the Bulk Materials Handling industry. He lives in Bethlehem PA with his wife and son, neither of whom fully get his obsession with the Mets.
  1. Bat July 15, 2014 at 1:20 pm
    Thanks Cappy.

    If I was the Mets management I would not overemphasize this recent hot streak and focus on 2015: the team needs Harvey back; the young players and the prospects to develop a bit more; and, to the extent possible, a bit more infusion of young talent, but if those contingencies materialize then the Mets may be in business next year.

    I would still trade Colon, Abreu, and Dice-K before the trade deadline and stockpile some more young talent for next year. Hopefully a shortstop (Nick Franklin of the Mariners? Having a bad year but might rebound with a change of scenery?) to compete with Tejada and maybe a LF. But even if it’s more young pitching, that’s okay because some of the guys we have next year will be hurt or won’t progress.

    Then you look at your rotation for next year as some combination of:


    While Colon might be helpful next year, you have to think he’ll start declining one of these days and he is 41 y/o. I’d definitely deal him now. In addition, I don’t think Abreu and Dice-K are important when you’re focusing on 2015.

    The tough call is Murphy. Is this a career year and best to sell high on him and use the remainder of 2015 as a try-out of sorts for Flores with Herrera and maybe Reynolds waiting to get their shots in 2015 if Flores doesn’t pan out at 2B? All the stuff I hear about Murphy’s work ethic is impressive and he has proven he can handle the New York media and CitiField, either of which have overwhelmed others. But I’m not sure he’s as good as he’s looked this first half. I think it’s a tough decision as to whether to trade him or not…what I would probably do is keep him and only sell if someone makes you an offer of young talent you can’t refuse (i.e., an Addison Russell-type player or a combination of players that collectively rise to that threshold). If that happens, you sell on Murphy.

    • Victor Chu July 16, 2014 at 12:57 pm
      Bat — trading Colon won’t be as easy as you think, b/c of his contract. And, I’m still not sold on Franklin. I can live with Tejeda if we can upgrade LF with a proven, clutch hitter who plays decent defense.

      As for trading (or not trading) Murph — it is a tough call, but don’t expect too much in return. If he is traded, expect a platoon of Flores and EY to start.

  2. DanB July 15, 2014 at 1:43 pm
    Just because Duda has been better the Davis doesn’t mean Alderson made the right move. The right move would of been getting a first baseman better then Davis and Duda. I see a lot of “Duda is the least of our problems” arguments coming up. My biggest fear, though, is not first base or shortstop or left field. What if Jeff Wilpon says, “cut payroll”? What if the Mets trade away Murphy, Gee, and Colon for prospects to save money? Are the Mets in a long term financial crisis that has them trading away salary for prospects annually? That, after all, is the small market business plan. What I would see as a good sign is if the Mets trade away CYoung, pay most of his salary, for a low level prospect. It would say they are willing to pay to improve. What I don’t want to see is the Mets trade away Gee and Murphy to avoid arbitration. Or if they do trade them, they need MLB players, not AA. I always say the most important person on the Mets is not Wright or Harvey but Jeff Wilpon.
    • Victor Chu July 16, 2014 at 1:04 pm
      DanB — the right move at 1B would have been to get Jose Abreu … but, that’s pipe-dreaming.

      You are correct that Jeff Wilpon is the wildcard … and, Sandy Alderson is not Billy Beane who can work with a lower budget and “magically”produce playoff teams in 8 of the last 15 years.

      I still think that as long as the Wilpons own the Mets, there will continue to be less (or even zero) playoff years in the near future than what we are all reasonably expecting, even with all the potential on this team and returning or coming up.

  3. Bat July 15, 2014 at 3:08 pm
    One thing worth noting about Flores is that the Mets seem convinced he cannot handle shortstop. He did not look good at the position when he was in the majors, but I didn’t think he looked so horrendous that I wanted him in AAA either.

    Tejada’s impressive OBP is greatly inflated by intentional and unintentional-intentional walks to get to the pitcher and I do not think he has such a spectacular glove that you would live with such a poor bat. I think his glove is okay and his bat is below average so again since it seems like we know what Tejada is, doesn’t it make sense to play Flores as the regular for 2 months or so and see what Flores is?

    Maybe he is below average also – he had tons of weak contact in his short stint in the majors – but also quite possible that he just needs to relax and feel secure that he is going to play tomorrow if he has an 0 for 4 night?

    Also quite possible that, like TDA, he just needed to go to Lost Wages, straighten out his swing and head, and he will produce if given another chance?

  4. CleonJames July 15, 2014 at 4:36 pm
    the Mets are still mediocre. But barely. That is progress.
  5. Vilos July 15, 2014 at 8:07 pm
    When I first read this on my phone, I thought to myself : Izzy Joe has gone nuts. Just two weeks ago he admitted he thought Duda was a dud and now everything is amazing?

    In any case I agrre with most of your post Dan. I like the idea of using both kirk and c.young and give e.young at least a start a week by resting lagares or granderson or even murph.

    Dont make moves unless the return is worth it.

  6. Vilos July 15, 2014 at 8:08 pm
    Using kirk and cypung in a platoon. I had forgot the word
  7. david July 15, 2014 at 10:22 pm
    I like to think of myselft as neither a cynice or a fanboy, but let’s be honest – every Met fan is a cynic to some extent given the history of this franchise. It is all those lows that make the highs so much sweeter.

    Turning to the lineup, I think the Mets will do well to ensure Campbell plays against righties. I also think playing Kirk in CF occassionally and resting Lagares is a good idea. Playing Kirk everyday will expose his weaknesses, and both he and Juan will benefit from occassional rest which also gives the Mets a very good option late in the game.

    Since we don’t have the ideal LF candidate I can live with a little EY, some Kirk, and some Abreu. And until CY is dealt, play him once in a while ag. lefties.

    I tend to think of building a champion team in the prism of past glory. The best Mets teams had at least 3 bona fide All Star caliber players in the field (pithcers not included). At present we have 1 or 1.5. We can’t simply hope all our kids will become stars. We need to trade for 1 or 2 All Stars or pay them through free agency (LF / SS ideally, and I really like the idea of Tulo in Citi Field). I say Flores is prime trade bait since he is blocked by DW. Package him, a veteran and one of our young arms, and we should get plenty back.

    Finally, Terry gets some credit for putting Grandy at the top; Sandy gets some credit for sending TDA down, keeping Duda and making the call on Mejia to the pen. But Terry has to stop being so flaky with the line-up, since guys need to know their role. And the Wilpons needs to spend some money to show the fans they are not totally full of baloney.

    • Victor Chu July 16, 2014 at 1:08 pm
      david – unfortunately, getting Tulo is another pipe dream … I just can’t see Jeffie/Freddie adding $20 MM to the payroll w/o a near corresponding amount coming off … who would they trade that would add up to close to $20 MM coming off the books?
  8. Vilos July 16, 2014 at 10:19 am
    With respect to Tejada and Flores: Tejada has shown improvement and is playing decent. This shouldnt give him any rights to the position. If he regresses back to subpar performance, then bring back Flores and give him a shot
  9. DaveSchneck July 16, 2014 at 11:46 am
    I consider myself more unabashed FB than critic, but you’d never know it from blogging. The Wilpons always have and always will be a concern, and will likely not be going anywhere in our lifetime. I would welcome another owner, but this is a til-death-do-us-apart deal. So, from the unabashed fanboy perspective, I would like to think that they would re-open the checkbook appropriately once the revenues increase, based on that behavior in the mid 2000s. They key, of course, is to do it not at the expense of the developmental pipeline. This is possible but could be difficult based upon the tempatations of being close to winning.

    Regarding current events, Big Bart, although I dig him, must go for best offer regardless of level of prospect or position. That $11 mil in 2015 is better spent elsewhere, Ditto with C Young’s $7 mil. A good part of that $18 mil in savings will go for raises to Duda, Grandy, Murphy, Parnell, Gee, and maybe Tejada and EYjr as backups, although EYjr will likely go due to cost as a 5th OF should be had for league minimum. So, Alderson should still have a set payroll after raises of $70 to $75 million, which provides plenty of options to get a SS, power OF bat, and perhaps bullpen vet. Good times in the near future are possible, at least more possible than in the last 5 years.

    • Victor Chu July 16, 2014 at 1:22 pm
      I ask for the 40th time, are you the same Dave Schneck that played for the Mets in the ’70s?

      That question aside, trading Bartolo and CY is not as easy as we all think … the Mets will likely have to eat some portion of those contracts to get them traded. Also, while the Mets will clear up $7.25 MM in salary space no matter what for 2015 (since CY will be gone either way), not so sure that the 2nd year of Bartolo’s contract would be fully free and clear, if he is traded.

      That said, I would love to get Tulo … but, I just don’t see that happening with his contract, unless our crappy owners are willing to break the $90 MM annual spending barrier. If not Tulo, the single key acquisition to improving the offense is getting a proven, clutch-hitting LF (or any OF) to protect Wright — I don’t think we need a power bat, per se, just someone who can drive in all those runners left on base like earlier this year if they don’t pitch to DW.

      If we get that player in 2015, and if (a big IF) Duda and d’Arnaud (and even Tejada) keep playing the way they have been playing the last couple of weeks, and if (but less of a big IF) DW and Grandy play up to their historical averages, we can begin to dream about the playoffs … but not the WS yet.

      I still don’t know exactly how Billy Beane does that every year … Moneyball concepts aside.

      • DaveSchneck July 16, 2014 at 5:12 pm
        I though I answered before, but if not, I will now. I am not the actual Dave Schneck that played for the Mets in the early 70s, but I use his name as my handle to honor him, along with countless others, that achieved the rare feat of making it to the big leagues, and inspired me to become a fan of the game.

        I don’t agree with your comment above that the move that should have been made was Jose Abreu. The reason is that it is too early to tell. Sure, the Abreu of the first half of 2014 was the move, but let’s see how he does over the span of a few seasons, if he needs to DH, if he fades as the league adjusted.

        I think we are all in agreement that the Wilpons are not good owners, but I disagree in that while it is harder achieve, I do think ateam can succeed with a Wilpon-like owner. We all cite Billy Beane for his genius, and much is deserved. How good is his owner? He isn’t exactly providing a big payroll there. So long as Jeff is held in check, for the most part, a good management team can cobble together a team that can compete more often than not. Remember that the Wilpons did spend before, and while we all agree they should be spending more now, not just for the sake of spending, there is the possibility that they will spend if the team improves and draws more fans and ratings.

        Lastly, we all know the offense is weak, but the pitching will determine how they fare over the next few years. Quality and depth are requirements, and the Mets have a shot at both. If the pitching continues to improve, at the mLB and minor league level, they’ll find a legit SS and power bat for LF, and teams will be calling them.

        • Dan Capwell July 16, 2014 at 6:04 pm
          Well then that explains why when I met the “real” Dave Shneck at the batting cages he runs near here he looked at me like he didn’t know me when I introduced myself!
        • DaveSchneck July 17, 2014 at 8:44 am
          Sorry. Next time you run into him please give best wishes from his Metstoday namesake.
        • Victor Chu July 17, 2014 at 5:37 pm
          Thanks for responding, Mr. “Not the Real Dave Schneck”!

          Much appreciated.

          I understand your disagreement with my suggested move to get Abreu. That was really the short-term answer. He may be an All-Star for just this one year (or 1/2 year) for all we know. Time will tell. But, if JA played on the Mets with the numbers he’s put up so far, I do think the Mets would firmly be in the hunt for a wild card. But, I also recognize that despite an excellent 1st 90+ games, he’s still a bit of an unproven commodity … just with a lot of upside.

          As for the owners, I am not just picking on them because of their unwillingness to spend now, but more so that they have a certain way of operating that just does not emit the sense of winners to me – partly because they don’t always let the baseball people do their job and partly because of what they say and how they say things publicly… Jeff W reminds me a bit of James Dolan and how he has held the Knicks back over the years. To your point, if Jeff (and to some extent, Fred) can be held in check, the opportunity for success would increase immensely. I do recognize that the Wilpons spent through 2006 into 2008, but that was before the pre-Madoff debacle. And, I recognize that baseball is a business, but the approach of spending money AFTER the fans start showing up makes no sense if what you offer the fans is not enticing and can produce an adequate amount of wins. You have to put a good product on the field for the fans to show up not the other way around … the Yankees being the exception with their mixed pedigree of success in recent years.

          I also agree with your remarks about the pitching. While I did not say it, I was already operating under the assumption/impression that the pitching is already pretty good and will only get better, including the bullpen (although a proven veteran wouldn’t hurt, like LaTroy last year). But, my point is that despite the early blown saves this season, if they had that one clutch hit in half of their close games that they lost this year, the Mets would now have a winning percentage of over .500, and a legitimate shot at the playoffs … of course, this all assumes the pitching stays the course!

  10. Peter Hyatt July 16, 2014 at 5:42 pm
    Travis is a slugger. He has slugged at every level. Putting him in the 5th spot was something long overdue.

    As to 2015, our pitching staff is very exciting and a few holes in the field, once repaired, could mean the wild card playoff spot.

    Duda is working out.
    Sign Murph.
    SS: We need help. How about the kid in AAA? He’s batting .330 after hitting almost .350 in AA. What more can he do?

    I like the idea of releasing Young and letting Kirk own LF.

    Nimmo has struggled a bit at AA but is showing power.

  11. Georgeseaver July 20, 2014 at 1:01 pm
    I believe tejada is adequate and could be a starting SS on a winning team. He’s the scapegoat used to hide the ineptitude of sandy trying to impersonate a major league GM.
  12. david July 20, 2014 at 8:51 pm
    Tough loss today, and a tough coiple of days for Reuben who represented the best chance to score both days and came up empty. Today’s bases loaded at bat was poor.

    Mets need to win the next series. Losing 2 out of 3 to a struggling Padres team was not ideal, but to be fair their pitching was very good esp. Ross.

    Campbell could use a start. So could EY.