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 lives in Bethlehem PA with his wife and son, neither of whom fully get his obsession with the Mets.
Browsing All Posts By Dan Capwell

Out-of-this-World Streak Reaches Nine

Right in the middle of last night’s Mets-Braves games, the SNY cameras cut to shot of a fast-moving object in the night sky that Keith Hernandez identified as the Space Station. It was visible here to in Bethlehem too, a kind of mechanical Halley’s Comet. That celestial body has been known as a harbinger of major events. The poet in me wonders if this flyover might have a similar portent for our orange and blue heroes. BTW Halley’s last appearance was–wait for it, 1986.

Meanwhile, back on earth, the extra-terrestrials that currently inhabit Mets uniforms laid a 7-1 beating on the deflated-looking Atlanta Braves. I know it is only April, but I felt this was a huge game for the Mets to win, coming off the devastating news of the Travis d’Arnaud and Jerry Blevins injuries on Sunday. A series loss now, especially right before the initial Subway Series set with the Yanks, would have started the speculation that injuries have finally caught up with the Mets.

Instead, Kevin Plawecki and Alex Torres filled in nicely for their two injured counterparts. Plawecki had two hits and Torres struck out Met-killer Freddie Freeman to snuff out the last hope for Atlanta. Curtis Granderson had four RBI and winning pitcher Jon Niese lowered his ERA to 1.50.

We haven’t had much to cheer about recently, so I am thoroughly enjoying this streak. I humbly submit that you all just take this in and ride it for as long as it lasts. I haven’t felt this good about the Mets in quite a while and I am crossing my fingers that maybe, just maybe this is the start of an upswing. I still think we will be hearing from the Washington Nationals, but the rest of the division looks to be buried already. Philadelphia is a last-place team, Miami may have some better players than the Mets but their lack of depth has hurt them badly. (Speaking of depth, Dilson Herrera is certainly making a case for a promotion). Atlanta looks like an incomplete collection of parts. I haven’t seen enough of the rest of the NL yet to get a real sense of who is a contender or not. But perhaps the dreams of contention and the much-maligned meaningful games in September is a reality for us this year.

One game at a time, I know. How about you? What has been your impression so far?

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In A Word: Shaky

It took all of three batters to bring Matt Harvey’s channeling of Doc Gooden circa 1985 to a screeching halt. Chase Utley’s two-out, first inning homerun stunned the Citi Field crowd last night and temporarily at least, silenced the raucous crowd. Overall, it was a somewhat shaky outing for Harvey, as the Phils whittled away at the three run lead his offense handed him in the early going.

Statistically, Harvey was solid: 6IP, 5H, 3ER and 8K. But he never really dominated the Phils after the first two batters and a great third inning catch by Kirk Nieuwenhuis kept things from becoming much dicier. The highlight of the game was his plunking of Utley in the 5th inning, Harvey’s version of the intentional pass. In many regards, Harvey is a throwback of sorts to much more hardnosed era. He set his jaw and got the job done. He reminds me much of the early 1970’s Tom Seaver, who was the leader of that era’s team.

I think “shaky” is a good description of the Mets right now. It applies to emergency closer Jeurys Familia, who surrendered another 9th inning run last night. It applies to Juan Lagares’ current approach at the plate. In the TV booth, Keith Hernandez noted how Lagares is dropping his back shoulder, trying to uppercut everything, which makes him vulnerable to the high fastball. “Shaky” is an apt description of the Daniel Murphy/Wilmer Flores keystone combo. The late homerun aside, I do wonder how fully Murph’s hammy is healed. I am rooting for Flores, but I fear that he, much like his predecessor Ruben Tejada, has been set up for failure.

Perhaps the biggest concern from last night is the potential for David Wright to be sidelined for a while with a hamstring injury. Along with Harvey, Lucas Duda and Jacob deGrom, Wright is one of the Mets core players. A lengthy absence for their captain will hamstring the Mets chances, pun intended.

The fact that the Mets did win last night is far from a moot point. This game could have easily gone the other way. In a variation of the old cliché, you may not win a playoff spot in April, but you sure can lose one. It would have been so typical for the Mets to have this major buildup, only to flop in front of a full house. They didn’t, so there is that. One more with the Phillies and then a weekend wraparound series with the ice-cold Marlins before a weekend set in the Bronx. One game at a time, I know.

So, what did you think of last night?

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You Read it Here First: Mets Will Win NL East (This Year)

First off, I promise this will not end with the phrase “April Fool.”

I realize that all March baseball stats need to be taken with several grains of salt, or as put best by the late great Ralph Kiner, hope always springs eternal in the Spring. That said, I am (cautiously) optimistic enough from what I have read and observed about our Mets this past month to make this prediction.

Part of my new sunny outlook is due to

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Mets’ Murphy’s Hope: Health and Hits

It is that time of year again: the usual Spring Training fluff pieces are in full flower. One of the more interesting quotes so far in this newborn season came from new Mets hitting coach Kevin Long, who predicts that Daniel Murphy could win the NL batting crown.

Murphy is certainly one of the more controversial characters to emerge in this post-Madoff era of Met history. Reminiscent of the types of debates mid-1990’s Mets fans had over Jeff Kent, there are few folks that are merely lukewarm on Murph. One side wants this home-grown, gritty, blue-collar All Star signed to a long-term extension. The other side would have traded him two off-seasons ago and wants him moved at least by the July 31 trade deadline, if not sooner.

If the last few seasons have shown us nothing else, they are stark reminders that baseball is a business and the players are merely depreciating assets. With an ownership as financially hamstrung as the Wilpons apparently are, proper control over these depreciating assets is a vital necessity for them in their quest to hang on to this franchise.

Let’s face it: that the Mets have held on to Murphy this long is entirely due to the fact that his salary is relatively low, vis-a-vis his production. That will change after this year, when Daniel is a first-time free agent and looking at a big payday.

So, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the Mets are hoping that Daniel has one of those last-year-of- my-contract career seasons. This may seem counterintuitive on the surface, but if you peel the layers back a bit, it makes perfect sense.

The Mets don’t want Murphy beyond 2015. They have what they perceive to be a perfectly suitable replacement in Dilson Herrera, who should be major league ready by the end of the season. What the Mets want is a huge season from Murph (think Jose Reyes 2011 huge). If he hits say .330 and bangs out 200 hits, there is no way he doesn’t become one of the top free agents in the next class. This works to the Mets advantage, as they can make him a Qualifying Offer, which he will likely turn down in search of a much larger payday. The Mets in turn get an extra first round draft pick, which right now looks like a better and cheaper alternative to any player(s)from other teams that have been linked to the Mets in a trade for Murphy.

There is precedence for this with Reyes. The Mets let him walk, much to the dismay of their fans, garnering two draft picks in return. Those picks have turned into Kevin Plawecki and Matt Reynolds. Both players are on the verge of breaking into the majors this year and are both (more so in Plawecki’s case) regarded as bona-fide prospects. It will make GM Sandy Alderson look pretty smart if he traded a depreciating asset like Reyes (who since moved on to another team) for two serviceable players on his 25-man roster during what he hopes is the year they return to postseason.

Speaking of trades, if Murphy does indeed have a career year this year, there is very little chance he is dealt at the trade deadline, unless the entire Mets season has otherwise gone down the dumper. If the team is even within hailing distance of a postseason berth, you can bank on another quiet deadline for Alderson.

Yep, just like they drew it up: Murph just has to stay healthy and hit the way Long thinks he can. (BTW-Peter Gammons called Long one of the best free agent signings of the offseason) The Mets will reap the benefits of an additional first-round pick, refreshing their farm system while some poor team pays Daniel for what he did for while with the Mets.

Or am I giving the Mets too much credit?

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Wilmer Flores, Meet Keith Miller

wilmer-flores-keith-miller

If you had Wilmer Flores in the pool as the Mets Opening Day shortstop, get ready to collect. As incredible as it sounds, the Mets, a team hoping to vault into contention via their cache of young pitchers,  are actually planning on starting the season with a previously-failed shortstop prospect manning this vital position; pointing to a small sample size (occurring in September no less) as the rationale for this move. It would be far better for them to just admit that they can’t afford a roster full of  the caliber of players that a contender needs, a but honesty was an early casualty in the post-Madoff era.

I am rooting for Flores and I really want the Mets to go back to the playoffs. I don’t need to be right about this one. I will gladly suffer self-congratulatory remarks from a champagne-soaked Jeff Wilpon in the Mets clubhouse after an NLCS win rather than dealing with another losing season. But, after 40-plus years (gulp!) of Met fandom, I have been conditioned into expecting the worst. And I think we’re going to get it. The Mets have a long history of trying to shoehorn bad fits into their lineup, often with disastrous results. The Howard Johnson in centerfield experiment still gives me (and I suppose Hojo as well) nightmares. I have racked my brain trying to come up with a scenario for Flores that might have if not a happy ending, at least a less bad one. Then I remembered Keith Miller and the great 1990 Centerfield Experiment.

If anyone epitomized the term “nice little ballplayer,” it was Miller. He played all over the field and could run a little. On a team loaded with superstars, the blue collar Miller was a welcomed throw back. In 1990, the season after they traded both incumbent centerfielders, the Mets handed the center field job to Miller. The results where less than stellar. Miller didn’t field well enough to overcome his 250/350/404 slash line for the first month of  the season. The Mets, picked by many to win the division where struggling (manager Davey Johnson would be fired 42 games into the season) and looked for upgrades. They found one in Daryl Boston, whom they picked up off waivers on April 30. Boston was soon inserted into centerfield and slashed 273/328/440 the rest of the way. One of my favorite Shea Stadium scoreboard witticisms was BOSTON POPS! on the marquee after an extra base hit from Daryl. Not a gold glover by any stretch, he was nevertheless defensively  an improvement over Miller and overall, represented an upgrade for the Mets in center.

With a new manager and a new centerfielder, the Mets somewhat righted the ship. They won 91 games, four behind the division winning Pirates. There where only two NL divisions and no wildcard then, so they went home. This was the end of the great 1980’s Mets run and they wouldn’t have another winning season for seven years and not break the 90-win plateau until 1999. As for Miller, he was dealt after the 1991 season in the ill-fated Bret Saberhagen trade.

Flores reminds me somewhat of Miller: a decent bat and no real defensive position. Miller had “potential” written all over him until prolonged exposure to major league pitching revealed his limitations. I suspect the same will happen with Wilmer. BTW–Miller hit .373 for the 1987 Mets, higher than any average Flores has put up anywhere.

The Miller-to-Boston switch might be the best we can hope for at short this year. The Mets themselves have great expectations for this season and the noise will likely increase as Opening Day draws near. If the team and Flores stumble early, like Miller and the 90 Mets did, will GM Sandy Alderson finally bite the bullet and bring in a real shortstop? Perhaps he can finally convince Seattle to part with either Brad Miller or Chris Taylor. Or will he  (dare I dream it?) trade for one of the Cub shortstops? These types of upgrades would make the contender talk much more realistic. Or was Terry Collins really serious the other day about an open competition between Wilmer and Ruben Tejada?

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