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 Communications Coordinator. He is married, lives in Bethlehem PA and has a 10-year-old son who unfortunately roots for the Phillies.
Browsing All Posts By Dan Capwell

Jim Fregosi, Lucas Duda and the Coming Offseason

It’s a trade that has haunted the Mets for decades: looking for solution to their third base woes, they drew from their surplus of starting pitching and traded Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi. Ryan went on to a Hall of Fame career, while Fregosi didn’t even last two seasons with the Mets. Although the trade was made in 1971, it took until 1984 and the arrival of Doc Gooden for the wound to stop bleeding. Time has dimmed the memory of it somewhat, with flare-ups in 1999 and 2004, along with the Mets (not surprisingly) picking at the scab themselves with a Ryan bobble head giveaway recently.

Fast forward to the present. As they did in the early 1970’s, the Mets once again have a seeming surplus of prospects. They also have several holes. Alderson has frustrated Met fans with long stretches of inactivity, especially during the offseason, when fans are desperate for any type of news. Imagine for a moment however, if Alderson had succumbed and made a trade like Lucas Duda to Tampa Bay for Matt Joyce. A move that would have been hailed as a triumph in March would have resulted in Alderson’s resignation, rather than his contract extension, in September. What’s that old saying about listening to the fans and eventually sitting with them?

This concept was already covered here, but where past Met GMs like Steve Phillips or Frank Cashen were bold, occasionally getting burned but also with spectacular successes, Alderson makes his moves from a defensive position. Credit where it is due, he made the right decision with Duda. The Mets have to hope that this season was the start of something big for Lucas and that they aren’t being fooled the way Ike Davis fooled them in 2012.

This also means that Alderson is likely to give Wilmer Flores and Matt den Dekker the starting shortstop and right field jobs, respectively next year. Not that either is underserving of the opportunity, as both showed flashes in their extended 2014 trials. This is a high-risk/high-reward proposition for the Mets. If both players (and Duda) are successful in 2015 and enough pitchers stay healthy, it isn’t too hard to picture the Mets as contenders. If however, they falter, the rebuilding is dealt a serious setback and yet another year of David Wright’s prime and cheap young pitching has been wasted.

One name that will no doubt come up frequently in the off season (at least until he is traded) is Yoenis Cespedes. Two things to remember: we’re in a post-PED world and power hitters are the new young pitchers, that most coveted of resources. Second, Boston traded Jon Lester to get Cespedes, so it is very unlikely they are going to accept a package of Daniel Murphy or Dillon Gee and a few “B” prospects for him. This all means that Boston is going to want at least one of the Mets late inning bullpen power arms, plus Kevin Plawecki and at least Steven Matz. Just because Ben Cherington wants to remind us how smart he is, he’s also going to demand a lesser-heralded, but intriguing arm like Matt Bowman. Would you make that trade for one year of Cespedes? More importantly, would Alderson?

Instead, the narrative will be something like this: “We’re getting a returning Matt Harvey, Bobby Parnell and David Wright. We’ll also have a full year of Travis d’Arnaud, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia. We played at partial strength last year and still won 79 games. We waited on players like Duda and Familia and they have delivered, we expect the same from Flores and den Dekker. Moving the fences in will increase our team power. We’re at least ten games better than that to start the season and we can always add players if we (wink, wink) want to.”

We covered this also last year, but all of these Five-Moves-the-Mets-Should-Do-This-Offseason-themed posts aren’t even worth clicking on. So, take my advice and lower your expectations this winter. You’ll feel better and hey, you never know…

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Coupon-Clipping Mets Soon at It Again

Mets prospect Dilson Herrera

Ryan Doumit‘s 9th inning homerun Thursday off of Daisuke Matsuzaka was the equivalent of pulling the sheet over the corpse that is the Mets 2014 season. With it went the team’s last vestige of relevancy: that of spoiler to the formerly-hated Braves’ playoff chances.

Two stories broke soon after Doumit’s homer landed beyond the right field wall: the first was that the Mets had placed Daniel Murphy on the DL with a strained calf and had called up uber-prospect Dilson Hererra. The second was the revelation that the team has considered moving Travis d’Arnaud to left field. More on the first story in a moment, but let’s look at the d’Arnaud situation for a moment first.

Manager Terry Collins broached the subject with reporters, stating that the team is concerned that d’Arnaud’s history of concussions could lead to permanent injury. That sounds very admirable, as the long-term danger from concussions is becoming more and more recognized. But Terry also inserted catching prospect Kevin Plawecki into the conversation, which raises suspicions of another motive besides concerns over d’Arnaud’s health being in play.

Both Plawecki and d’Arnaud will make the major league minimum next year. Add either Matt den Dekker or Kirk Nieuwenhuis to the left field platoon with d’Arnaud and the Mets have themselves a tidy little troika of players making the major league equivalent of peanuts. Nope, no need to make a deal or sign a free agent, we’ve got left field covered, they’ll be telling us all offseason.

I had the opportunity to observe Hererra in a game this summer (and I even took his picture). He hit a long homerun and looked great in the field. Giving credit where due, GM Sandy Alderson has made a potentially great trade in landing Dilson and Vic Black from Pittsburgh. If Hererra has even a modicum of success in the remaining games, Murphy’s exit from the team this offseason is a fait accompli. Oh, and he was due for such a nice raise next season too.

The great Elvis Costello had a line about being disgusted once but now being only amused. The Wilpons (through their mouthpieces Alderson and Collins) have elevated “slippery” into an artform. On some levels, the d’Arnaud move and the Herrera call-up make sense, especially the latter. Just how convenient is it though, that these “solutions” represent the industry minimum in salary? But, we’re not supposed to look at it that way; instead we are urged to focus on the potential for d’Arnaud, Plawecki, den Dekker and Hererra. Add in those young guns and things could get might interestin’ next summer ‘round Citi Field pardner. Buy those tickets now, ya hear?

One more thought on moving d’Arnaud—didn’t the Mets recently have a very expensive left fielder who suffered a major concussion while playing that position?

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Think Unsexy Thoughts: The Mets Search For A Shortstop

starlin-castro-640

Terry Collins reads Mets Today! Or at least he must have read this article about the batting order as he has fulfilled almost all of my requests. Sorry about that.

The Mets are on pace for another sub 75-win season, meaning they will begin the 2015 season just about the same way they have ended every year since 2011. Probably not a coincidence but just like the end of the 2011 season, they must begin to plan for 2015 by first looking for a shortstop.

No small amount of keyboard strokes have already covered this topic ad nausea. As always, Mets Today has our own unique and frequently irreverent POV on this subject. Here are a few thoughts on some of the potential solutions to the Mets shortstop problem:

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Stand Pat, Sandy

Here it comes: the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, which has become a cottage industry of sorts for many TV networks and blogs, who serve up tasty trade news and trade rumors to a ravenous audience. Much like New Year’s Eve revelers, many baseball fans wake up on August 1 with a trade rumor hangover and a resolve not to get sucked in ever again (yeah, right).

The majority of this post was written before the “story” about the Mets’ interest in Troy Tulowitzki broke late on Thursday evening. For the record, I think that story is pure fantasy. But then again, I never thought the Mets would land Mike Piazza either.

The Mets’ record at the trade deadline has been spotty, to say the least. Near the top of the all-time list of infamy is the totally unnecessary trade of Scott Kazmir in 2004. That trade did alter the course of the franchise for a little while, as it ushered in the Omar Minaya era and the team’s last playoff appearance to date. Speaking of deadline deals with franchise altering implications, the 1977 Trade Deadline, then in mid-June, will (hopefully) forever hold the title of Worst Ever. I am referring of course, to the Mets “Midnight Massacre” giveaways of Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman that year. Along the way, the Mets, in an attempt to bolster a playoff run, have also sacrificed Jason Isringhausen and Melvin Mora in late July trades. Minaya’s inability to make any bullpen improvements at the 2007 and 2008 deadlines no doubt contributed to the late season collapses in both years. The Billy Wagner giveaway was one of the first signs of the Wilpon’s impending financial distress.

On the flip side, there have been a few deadline deals that worked in the Mets favor. Getting Keith Hernandez and an eventual World Series crown for Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey in 1983 easily laps the rest of the field. The Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler trade is definitely a win for the Mets. Steve Phillips got Darryl Hamilton from Colorado on July 31, 1999. Hamilton played a decent centerfield for the team during parts of three seasons, including the playoff years of 1999-2000. The Marlon Byrd deal with Pittsburgh may end up being one of the best in Met history—if current trends continue.

But without a doubt, my all-time favorite deadline deal, even more so than the Hernandez swipe, is the 1984 trade that Frank Cashen made with Cincinnati, trading somewhat heralded prospects Jay Tibbs and Eddie Williams to the Reds for pitcher Bruce Berenyi. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t who they traded for but why. Seven years after (to the exact date) the Seaver trade, the Mets front office was sending the message that the long nuclear winter that started on that horrible night was finally over. They believed in their team enough to give up two prospects in an attempt to win now.

At least, that’s how I took it. BTW, Berenyi went 9-6 for the surprising 84 Mets, before his career was cut short by injuries the following year.

My sense is that this is the type of deadline deal that current Met GM Sandy Alderson needs to make next, if he makes any move at all before the Winter Meetings. I am not in favor of a Bartolo Colon salary-dump deal. Last week’s heroics aside, Colon is needed to save the young arms from too many September innings this year. I highly doubt the Wilpons will allow Alderson to trade Daniel Murphy in-season. There has been zero buzz about Jon Niese or Dillon Gee, which is somewhat telling, although this could change in the next few days. So unless Alderson can channel his inner Cashen and pull off a trade of say Josh Satin and Logan Verrett to the Padres for Everth Cabrera, he should just stand pat. The Mets farm system appears to be on the brink of producing a steady stream of serviceable contributors and perhaps even a star or two. A couple more weeks of evaluation, along with a few September call ups, is probably a better course of action, rather than plunging into the annual feeding frenzy in an attempt to garner some fleeting attention and a few more essentially meaningless wins.

A late (and much missed) mentor of mine was always there to remind me of how time could be an ally during any major decision making process I faced. I believe that concept applies here as well. It was easier to complain about a lack of deadline activity when the Mets had nothing to lose. They need to move prudently and gather as much data as they can on their current crop of prospects.

After all, they have all winter to engineer that Noah Syndergaard for Javier Baez trade!

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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?

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