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.
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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!


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?


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!


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.


Mr. Alderson, Your Baby Is Ugly

I spent nearly a quarter century in the Directory Publishing business. Along the way, I worked for several interesting people. Among my favorites was a woman named Brenda. She headed up our New Products Division during one of those rare times when any idea could at least make it to the table for consideration. She was savvy enough to realize that her tastes may not reflect those of the general marketplace. “I need you to tell me if you think my baby is ugly,” she would state during intra-department meetings when she championed a concept or product that she liked. In a corporation where butt-kissing was considered a vital career preservation tactic, her approach was like a breath of fresh air. My association with her helped me to extend my career there for another decade, much to my personal, professional and financial benefit.

More recently, one of my left-leaning friends told me that the Mets’ biggest problem is a lack of diversity. Coming from him and coming near the end of the Omar Minaya era, I mentally rolled my eyes. I see now that he was correct in that there were (and still are) no non-Wilpon yes-men voices in the Mets upper management. Much like the chatter from MSNBC or Fox, all of the discussion inside Citi Field is taking place in an echo chamber of like-minded idiots. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the Mets think they have a beautiful baby and by all indications, have doubled down on their flawed (to put it mildly) approach.

I used to give Sandy Alderson a pass over the financial constraints placed on him by the Wilpons. But with each passing move, it is becoming more and more obvious that the game has passed him by. His 90-win pronouncement at the beginning of the season was a clear warning of how out of touch he really is. There was a brief glimmer of hope for this team after the Philadelphia series. Since then, they have gone 1-6 with a host of other “ugly baby” developments tossed in.

With the #10 pick in this year’s draft, they essentially drafted another Lucas Duda, passing on much better multi-dimensional players who could help the team shortly. Then, we all got reacquainted with Angel Pagan, whom Alderson’s lieutenants talked him into trading for trash after the 2011 season. How good would Pagan’s 323/373/433 slash line look in the Met lineup right about now? I hope Angel flashed his World Series ring at Terry Collins a few times while rounding the bases. Finally Travis d’Araund, the supposed key piece in the R.A. Dickey trade to Toronto two years ago, was shipped to Los Vegas after a 63-game stretch where he hit twenty points below the Mendoza line. Perhaps more disturbingly, Travis looked and played poorly defensively. According to published reports, both he and some members of the pitching staff expressed dismay over his demotion. Apparently this echo chamber extends into the Met clubhouse.

Speaking of the infamous Mr. Mendoza, Alderson has become his GM equivalent when it comes to personnel decisions. For every Scott Hairston, LaTroy Hawkins or Marlon Byrd that he grabbed off the scrap heap , there is a Brad Emaus, a DJ Carrasco, a Danny Herrera, an Omar Quintanilla, a Jon Rauch, an Andres Torres, a Frank Francisco, a Collin Cowgill, a Shaun Marcum, a Chris Young (or two), a Scott Atchison, an Anthony Recker or a John Lannan on the other side of the ledger. That’s a sub-.200 average. Yes, I know that all teams try on different players throughout the season. The Mets are unique in that not only do they rely on these players to fill key roles, they insist on shoving them down our throats game after game, long after even a casual observer notices their ineptitude . Whatever eye for talent Alderson used to have is gone and much like Joe McIlvaine, a failed Mets GM from an earlier era, he seems unprepared with any backup plans in case Plan A goes bust. Notice that d’Araund’s replacement is Taylor (206/366/390) Teagarden? Sure, he hit a hanger over the fence for a Grand Salami on Tuesday, but it will probably take him another two weeks to drive in his next four runs. At least this time Alderson replaced a poor-performing player with one only slightly less bad. His two big attempts to improve one of the league’s lowest-ranking offenses this past winter were Young and Curtis Granderson, both of whom actually underperformed the average Mets 2013 hitter the year prior. Talk about an ugly baby.

And while we are on the topic, anyone here still think that Zach Wheeler is a future ace? I’ll bet you can’t wait to see what “prospect” we get from Pittsburgh as the PTBNL in the Ike Davis deal. Meanwhile the Miami Marlins, Jose Reyes’ other former team, also operating on a shoestring with an owner everyone despises and a sidelined ace, appear to be light years ahead of the Mets both in the standings and in player development.

I am not really a fan of his, but I agreed with Paul LoDuca’s comments from last week. The team needs to be burned to the ground and rebuilt. This isn’t about fringy moves with players not under contract past 2014. Other than David Wright and Granderson (immovable contracts) and Matt Harvey (injury) everyone should be on the block. Everyone. This includes serviceable vets like Daniel Murphy and Jon Niese, along with promising youngsters like Jennry Mejia and Juan Lagares. The Mets need at least 20 new players and will need to make deals that bring back multiple players back that fit into a well-thought-out rebuilding plan. But who will drive? Would you trust it to Alderson? I wouldn’t. Neither would I want Paul DePodesta nor JP Riccardi, Sandy’s failed Moneyball henchmen, to try their hands at it. Besides, do you think any of these guys would have the guts to admit to making such a huge blunder and tear it all down?

Maybe Jeff Wilpon decides to run the team himself, through a patsy like John Ricco. That might not be a bad thing if Jeffy is willing to channel George Steinbrenner and spend fistfuls of money, attempting to put an All-Star at every position. This is Jeff we are talking about however, so while a puppet GM is a good possibility, any smart baseball moves or big cash outlays are unlikely. Ideally he could pull a Leon Hess circa 1997 and put a Bill Parcells-type strongman at the top of the organization, while taking a step back.

That move made a new fortune for the already wealthy Mr. Hess. In the end, that might be the only face-saving “out” available to Jeff (and Fred). They might only need to look as far as the WOR radio booth where a certain former Mets architect is slowly rebuilding his image…