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

Mets Game 131 Recap: The Class of 2014 Comes Through

Maybe there was a plan after all.

Last night 2014’s top draft pick Michael Conforto combined with Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon, the Mets two 2014 Free Agent pickups to give the Mets a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies last night. With the win and the Washington National’s 8-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, the Mets begin September with a 6 and 1/2 game lead over the Nats for the Eastern Division crown.

Colon was brilliant again last night, with eight shutout innings over the seemingly hapless Phils, striking out nine. His fifth inning single in front of Granderson’s 23rd homer of the season gave the Mets a 3-0 lead. Earlier in the same inning, Conforto blasted his fourth homer into the left field stands. The early returns on Conforto have been encouraging to say the least. No less of an authority than Keith Hernandez gushes over each at bat; although it must be remembered that Keith was also a big fan of Matt den Dekker.

Perhaps a signal moment occurred in the 9th inning, as Jeurys Familia gave up hits to the first two batters of the inning. Up to the plate strode Ryan Howard, one of the last vestiges of the Phils’ glory days. With one swing of the bat, Howard could have easily turned the entire game and perhaps the Mets season, around. Instead, Familia, channelling his inner John Franco, walked Howard to load the bases. He then induced ex-Met Jeff Francoeur to hit into a double play, scoring a run. Familia then just barely avoided a game tying homer to Andres Blanco before whiffing him for the final out.

Deep breath, deep breath. As I shared earlier, I have a superstitious streak in me when it comes to baseball and I do believe in omens. If the Mets are going to blow this lead, last night would have resulted in either Howard, Francoeur or Blanco hitting a game tying homer, followed by several innings of pure torture before a Phils win. Instead, Familia (who is probably the Mets MVP this year) was able to slam the door shut. Speaking of omens, this win on the last day of August tied the team record for wins in that month, which was set in 2000, the last year the Mets went to the World Series.

So, now we run the gauntlet of “meaningful games in September.” The schedule maker has certainly been kind to the Mets, but it is still incumbent on them to get the job done.  I like the fact that they are adding Steven Matz and Addison Reed to their somewhat beleaguered pitching staff. While they still have those Washington games, although almost all of the pressure is in the other dugout at this point, as that team has almost no room for error.

See you tonight.

 

 

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Mets Game 127: Worth Staying Up For

Boy,  it was a lot easier to write copy for this blog when there was something to complain about! How about this: the Mets are causing me to lose sleep. I rise at 4:30 AM most days, so these late night games are killing me. Since July 31, Mets games have become “must see TV” in my household, so we all walk around a bit bleary-eyed (but happy) these mornings.

There is an aura around this team right now, a swagger in the dugout and on the field that comes through the TV screen. Down by five runs on getaway day? Let’s play. Starting pitcher is struggling? Let’s play. Wanna go extras? Let’s play. Your knucklehead, old-school coach is trying to intimidate us? Let’s play.  All in all, a 13-inning 9-5 win over a team that just a few short years ago inflicted two humiliating comebacks on the Mets, relegating them (and us)  to also-ran status on the season’s final days; the aftershocks of which are still being felt today.

Fortunately, this is not the 2007 Mets on the field these days. For openers this Mets team is actually adding quality arms, not scrambling to find them. Steven Matz is only a few days away from joining the rotation and Logan Verrett may prove to be one of those kismet (no pun intended) tales frequently occurring  during That Championship Season: lost in the Rule V draft, he is then cut by two teams before returning home to play a key role down the stretch. Sean Gilmartin and Hansel Robles may never be heard from again, but they have shored up the bullpen, which was the major culprit in the 07-08 disasters, providing an important bridge between the starters and the two late innings guys.

But it’s the offensive turnaround that has been the most startling. Lost in Daniel Murphy’s heroics (more on him later) is the fact that Yoenis Cespedes hit yet another homerun, a two-run blast in the 5th that cut the Phils’ lead to one run. I know they don’t give out awards like this, but Cespedes is the Mets’ second half MVP so far. Since his arrival all he has done is slash 303/345/596 with 8 HR and 24 RBI in just 24 games. He has transformed the Mets’ lineup and his ABs are worth staying tuned in for. Curtis Granderson has consistently delivered since the season started and Jeurys Familia was easily the first half MVP, but the arrival of Cespedes added that fear factor the Mets offense. I fervently hope they can find some way to keep him around.

Another potential offseason loss is Murphy. Even more so than David Wright, Murphy epitomizes the sojourn this team has been on since 2008, which was his rookie year. Who ever would have thought that all of those efforts to shoehorn him into the lineup would be paying off the way they are now? (Just keep him out of leftfield). His collaboration with Carlos Torres on that grounder in the 10th inning last night will live on highlight films for years. Plus, Murph is really fired up, which is rarity for any Met player ever (the team has almost always played with a kind of quiet reservation, both in good times and bad) and his exuberance is fun to watch.

So, a sweep in Philadelphia and now a home stand against Boston and these same Phils. Just in case you haven’t noticed, these are not the 2007-08 Phillies anymore. And FWIW, I don’t think the 2015 Washington Nationals are the 2007-08 Phillies either. But, we’ll be finding that out soon enough!

LGM. And, sound off below.

 

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Avoid The Jinx: How to Keep the Good Vibes Flowing

My life was much different back in 1988. I wouldn’t meet my wife-to-be for another year and while I dated, I had no serious relationships going on. I had an entry level job with the organization I eventually would spend another 20-plus years with, but their purchase by a Fortune 500 company and the first of my several promotions was years away. Even further in the future was the birth of my son. I was still adjusting to a personal upheaval that had required me to change most of the people and places in my life. Looking back, I was then in the middle of several transitions, all of which with the benefit of hindsight, turned out quite well.  In 1988 however, their outcome was very uncertain. I didn’t have much going on in my life, financially, socially or romantically.

But I had the Mets. And these where certainly heady times: the team had sprung, seemingly out of nowhere to win 90 games in 1984. They got even better the next year and then with me in attendance at Game 7, won the 1986 World Series. No team had repeated for nearly ten seasons, so I conceded 1987, but was very confident in 1988; especially when they romped to another division title and took two of the first three games in the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers.

I had tickets for Game Two of the 1988 World Series at Shea, which by the top of the 9th inning in Game Four of the National League Championship Series, seemed like a foregone conclusion. The Mets where about to go up three games to one on Los Angeles, setting up a 1973 World Series rematch with the mighty Oakland As. I couldn’t wait. I had vacation days put aside and cash saved up for the Series games and memorabilia that I was sure I would be seeing and buying.

Then the roof fell in.

No sooner had broadcaster Tim McCarver mentioned that he thought Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden was tiring, then did Doc walk John Shelby and give up a game-tying homer to Mike Bleeping Scioscia. The Dodgers went on to win the game in extras, tying the series. They eliminated the Mets three games later. I have seen this described as a kind of Continental Divide in the story of the 1980’s Mets—the night their expected baseball dynasty changed direction and headed into a permanent decline instead of another World Series berth. Looking back, you could feel the shift as soon as Scoscia’s shot cleared the right field wall. In less than two years that entire team was nearly completely dismantled and the  long losing streak of the 1990’s began. If only Davey Johnson had brought in Randy Myers to close in the 9th!

I have been through a lot of heartbreak with the Mets since and have experienced some gut-wrenching (and gut-turning) developments, but nothing, not the Generation K flop, not the Kenny Rogers walk, not the 2000 Subway Series humiliation, not the Adam Wainwright curve, not the 2007 collapse (or its 2008 echo), not the post-Madoff retrenchment era, nothing, hurt as bad as the 1988 NLCS loss. I was emotionally vulnerable back then and this unexpected loss to a clearly inferior team hit me as hard as if there had been a death in my immediate family. My work supervisor even pulled me aside after the carnage to make sure I was “alright.” My apparent maturity/cynicism since then has shielded me from taking further blows as hard as I took that one.

So let’s fast forward to this season, which to date has been the entire 1980’s in a microcosm. There’s been a fast start (Joe Torre had the 1980 Mets near first place in mid-July of that year), a period of despair and offensive ineptitude matching that of 1981-83, the rise of young pitchers, a promotion of a highly touted draft pick outfielder and a big trade for a major offensive piece, all crammed into an incredible four-months of baseball, with a potential crescendo looming in the final 50 or so games.

And that’s what has me nervous. These are the Mets we are talking about after all. While their history isn’t quite as bad as that of say the Jets, they have certainly have given their fanbase more than their fair share of angst. Re-read the paragraph just above the previous one in case you don’t believe me. Already, I am hearing some brash fan-boy bluster from talk show hosts, fellow bloggers, broadcasters and a few beat writers—the latter which may be doing it on purpose.

Now I get it, this is Mets Today, founded by a baseball instructor and coach (we miss you Joe) and we take a very analytical, straight talking approach to this game. But, superstition is just as big a part of baseball as batting practice. So I’m begging my fellow Mets fans: please don’t jinx this. We might be on the verge of something special, a season we’ll long cherish—with a lot of special moments that don’t come along too often, at least for us. Don’t offend the baseball gods with some loutish, moronic behavior, tempting them to deal us yet another blow to our collective solar plexus. All hail, oh venerated gods!  I suggest Mets fans might want to consider a quieter and subdued approach to the remaining schedule, going for the ride instead of trying to set the pace. I admit that some of this concern dates all the way back to that cold October night that Mike Scioscia killed off much of my innocence, but with my tongue somewhat planted in my cheek, here is how I advise taking in the rest of the regular season:

  • One Game at A Time: No looking ahead (or behind). Yes they will need a spot starter or two and those pitch counts might become an issue. GM Sandy Alderson’s inability to improve the team over the winter left them shorthanded for half the year, resulting in some frustrating losses, games they eventually may wish they had won. There are six games with Washington left on the schedule. Fred and Jeff Wilpon, Alderson and Terry Collins are still at their posts. But once the game starts there is magic  in between those white lines,  so…
  • Savor Every Moment: Get into the games, enjoy them with friends and family. We Met fans don’t get many opportunities like this one: a team on the rise, lots of charismatic personalities and a new hero almost every night. The last time this happened was 1984-85. A year ago, to be sitting so pretty like this seemed improbable. Unfortunately, as fast as they have risen, they can also fall. Be thankful for what is happening and enjoy it.
  • Respect The Nats (And the Yanks): This is a tough one. Washington is full of unlikeable characters, both on and off the field. They have made some very bold statements, several that they might be regretting. Some Yankees fans seem to think post-season games are their birthright. It’s easy to enjoy their suffering and even crow about it. Remember however that the Mets haven’t proven anything yet and both teams are in a position to do some real damage to our hopes. What good is talking trash if you later have to eat it? If Matt Harvey can stuff it, then so can we. And please, enough talk about “taking back the town.”
  • Don’t Count Magic Numbers (Yet): I have already seen them posted. Why? I can recall them all over the place in August of 2007, along with Gary Cohen’s gleeful ramblings about “sustained success.” Remember the outcome that year? Living in the middle of Phillies country, I sure do. Unless those final three games against the Nats are rendered meaningless, this practice needs to be avoided.
  • Save the Post-Season Roster Speculation: There was a thread started over on NYFS on this topic that included a lively discussion about whether or not Jerry Blevins should be included.  A day later Blevins “slipped” off a curb and re-injured himself (no word if he spilled his beverage). That was a warning. Take Alderson’s comments about the best 25 players at face value for now.

Now, I admit that I have indulged in some speculation myself. So, putting my more analytical Mets Today hat back on for a moment, I took a look at the 2007 Mets roster and compared it to today’s team. A comparison between the ’07 Phils and the current Nationals team was similarly enlightening. So here’s hoping the advanced stats don’t lie. Should the Mets make the playoffs, then  we can then kick out the jams and root loud and long.

But in the meantime, shhhhhhhh.

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One Order of Crow…

…but washed down with a tall glass of “well, they finally listened to us.”

The past ten or so days in Mets history have been well-chronicled elsewhere, so there is no need to re-hash them again here. Suffice to say that as a long-time Mets fan, I thought that when it comes to these guys that I had seen it all, but there is nothing that compares to the period from July 24 through last night. Never before have the Mets been so active with in-season trades, while at the same time playing ballgames under the heat and intensity of a playoff stretch.

My feelings on the Wilpon family and the Mets front office mirror those of many readers of this blog and Mets fans in general. So brace yourself—-kudos to Sandy Alderson for making those four deadline deals, especially the buzzer beater on Friday. And a grudging “thanks” to Fred and Jeff for taking on the extra money (although not a whole lot!) to make this team team more entertaining. I promise to buy tickets again. Now, please just go away and let us enjoy baseball.

Although “enjoy” may not be the right term for the emotions I felt as I watched the games this past weekend. I had my hands over my eyes, waiting, waiting for the bubble to burst and the Nationals to take the other hand from out behind their backs and throttle the Mets. Instead, I came away thinking that Washington is a lot like those late 1980’s Mets teams: loaded with talent, but perhaps more than a bit overrated and maybe, just maybe,  lacking that certain something that gets them over the top. At least those 80’s Mets won a World Series. If you want a laugh, check out the comments section in any recent Nationals game recap.

As for the Mets, I have no idea what to expect, but there is reason for optimism. They didn’t implode right after the All-Star break and when the sun came up this morning, it shone on their tie with Washington for the division lead. They could make as many as three more player additions via returns from the DL. While not the slam dunk that the ESPN hacks insinuated last night, their schedule is favorable,  especially when compared to Washington’s. That ficklest  of mistresses, Dame Momentum, is currently in their corner.

There is really no telling how this roller coaster ride of a season will end (and doesn’t that April streak seem like it happened three years ago?), but in the words of Keith Hernandez: “The race is on.”

 

 

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The Hip…Or The Wallet?

So I went to bed last night, thinking that the Mets had finally acquired the ideal player for their lineup and their stadium and at the cost of a pitcher I have long advocated moving, along with an underwhelming middle infielder.

Imagine my chagrin this morning.

And I can’t help but thinking that Carlos Gomez‘ hip has nothing to do with this trade falling through.

Maybe its the same DNA that makes me a Mets fan, but I wonder if someone in the Met ownership box did a quick calculation and decided that Gomez is too rich for their blood.  If that’s the case, we have come to the turning point of the 2015 season; a figurative Mike Scioscia  Game 3 homer to  all of the work done by the players, the manager and the coaching staff and even the much maligned front office to get to this point.  Looking at Sandy Alderson’s press conference being re-run on TBN this morning, I could shake the feeling that he has returned from vacation and replaced the Body Double that stood in for him this past week.

Yes, I know there are still 40-plus hours left to get a deal done. And this probably means that you, like me, will be constantly refreshing whatever website you frequent, hoping for news of another move. But brace yourselves for disappointment, as I think we have seen the true nature of this ownership and the front office. We’ve gotten close and there is genuine excitement about this team again. If an inability or unwillingness to take on a major league contract is the real reason why Gomez isn’t a Met, then our hopes for a turnaround have taken a serious and potentially permanent hit.

Here’s to us.

 

 

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A Reyes Reunion? What Say Ye?

The proverbial ink wasn’t dry on the news of the Tulo to Toronto deal, when the speculation began: will the Rockies spin Jose Reyes off to the Mets? Less than one week ago, before aliens apparently abducted our GM, I would have said “never.” Now, on the heels of Friday’s deal and then again last night, plus the whole Andrelton Simmons story, I am not sure what to think anymore.

So, lets take a look at our erstwhile leadoff guy, Mr. Reyes. He is currently slashing 285/322/385 for the Jays (he has yet to play for Colorado). His health has been OK, he has appeared in 69 of Toronto’s 99 games. FWIW, he played in 143 games for them last year. His stolen bases are way down, 16 this year, so reaching even 30 might be a stretch. He turned 32 last month.

His contract is probably the biggest concern. He’s owed $44 million, plus the remainder of this year’s salary, thanks to the boneheaded Marlins. BTW, I dislike all of  our division rivals, but I really despise the Marlins, however that’s another post. There is a $4 million buyout in 2018, which by then Jose will be 35.

As has been frequently pointed out by myself and many others, the Mets haven’t had a bona fide leadoff hitter since Jose left. But is he the answer? I really can’t see Colorado keeping him. Who else might be interested? The Yankees? The Giants? Pittsburgh? Again, at least until last weekend, these three and several others where probably more likely to pull off a trade like this. Would Colorado swallow say half of Jose’s remaining salary for a package of say Michael Fulmer, Brandon Nimmo, Wilmer Flores and Domonic Smith? They go from paying nearly $100 million for a shortstop, down to $22 million (easy enough to spend someone else’s money!) and get a load of Mets and Blue Jays prospects. That might work for them, but do Alderson and the Wilpons cash in their chips on a risk-filled move like this?

Maybe it’s that the last few years have worn me out, but I just don’t see it happening. But, I certainly didn’t see Friday’s trade coming and I was surprised they gave up what they did for Clippard. So I guess anything is possible. Sorry for burying the lead at the end of the post, but what do you think? Should the Mets bring Jose Reyes back? What should they be willing to give up? Sound off below.

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Do The Mets Really Have The Pieces To Get A Bat?

There was plenty to be discouraged about on Thursday–Michael Cuddyer‘s on-going delay to the DL, The Fraud’s Worst Press Conference Ever, an historically bad batting order and of course Clayton Kershaw’s 9-inning suffocation of the Mets on the field. With all of this going on, it is pretty easy to overlook probably the worst news of the day, which was buried in yesterday’s Daily News:

The (Mets and A’s)  have exchanged names on (Ben) Zobrist, but haven’t been able to agree. With Alderson totally unwilling to move any of his young pitching stars, and Oakland so far uninterested in the likes of Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini and Michael Fulmer, this deal is going nowhere, for now. In fact, the Mets aren’t particularly close to any deal.

Uh-oh.

One of the harsh facts in this statement is that two of those names are The Fraud’s recent top draft picks. If this is indicative of the type of talent he has been bringing in, then we are probably looking at some dark days ahead. The Fraud shouldn’t and most likely won’t trade any of his young arms or Michael Conforto for a two-month rental. But it sounds like at least one opposing GM isn’t impressed by this “second wave” of Mets prospects. If that’s an industry-wide opinion, then we’re looking at one of two options: trade a young arm or continue down the path with these “one f—- seventy” batting averages.

The third option would be to sign a free agent like Yoenis Cespedes in the offseason, but who am I trying to kid?

 

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Mets: Justin or Bustin’ at the Trade Deadline?

Author’s Note:  I fully expect the Mets to be quiet at the trade deadline this year, as I have already posted here and here. That being said, ‘tis the season for this type of speculation. In order to keep the advertisers happy with our site traffic , here is Mets Today’s contribution to the stone soup of trade deadline proposals that will be everywhere the next two-plus weeks.

 The New York Mets should trade for San Diego Padres outfielder Justin Upton. Here’s why:

  • Offense!  He would immediately become the team leader in home runs and stolen bases this season (14 and 17, respectively) and second in batting average. His OBP would rank third among Mets regulars, but his current SLG, OBS and OPS+ rates surpass all Mets in those rankings right now. Certainly the naysayers among us will point out that the Mets are currently getting Upton-like production from Curtis Granderson. But Upton is a 3.1 WAR player vs. Grandy’s 2.2. Also Grandy, while ostensibly the Mets best hitter so far this season, is performing much better than he has in his past two seasons. Is he due for a regression in the second half? His last ten games indicate the regression has already started. Upton is faster, younger and a better fielder.  Put Upton in the lineup in the three hole, bat Daniel Murphy second and whoever else is hot at the time in leadoff and you’ve got a chance for some early innings runs in support of the young arms.
  • He won’t cost the farm: To get Upton from Atlanta, the Padres forked over two A ball pitchers, an AAA outfielder and a major league utility player currently slashing 254/334/352. This means he won’t cost one of the “core four.” Since Upton walks at the end of the year, San Diego is looking at draft pick compensation, so they shouldn’t expect much more than a recent high round draft pick (one not named Conforto) along with perhaps Hansel Robles or Logan Verrett. The Mets will surrender some talent, but nothing likely to come back to haunt them for years.
  • Alderson “wins”: Upton was on the Mets’ radar screen when the Diamondbacks first put him on the market back in 2012-13. They supposedly asked Met GM Sandy Alderson for either Matt Harvey or Zack Wheeler, a deal Alderson refused to make. How smart would he look now to get him for far less? Plus, it’s a sneak preview for the Mets; if Upton comes in here and slashes 290/360/520-ish, while leading the charge into the playoffs, it might ease their minds somewhat towards signing him to a long-term deal. An in-his-prime, New-York-tested-and-approved slugger is exactly what “The Plan” calls for (and if not, it or should). If he comes here and pulls a Jason Bay, he can be crossed off the list of free agents that they “monitor” this offseason.
  • The Wright connection: OK,  Michael Cuddyer hasn’t really worked out, but Upton is also from David Wright’s neck of the Virginia tidewater, which if nothing else, is a nice connection to have. David Wright is done. Speaking of Cuddyer, you can now platoon him at first with Lucas Duda and hope that one of them gets his head together for the stretch drive.
  • The itch is scratched: Last but certainly not least for Alderson and the Wilpons, a trade like this will get everyone off of their collective backs for a while. Remember the good vibes here when Alderson traded for those two relievers right before Opening Day? That, coupled with the tear the club went on, lead to a six-week era of good feelings. This deal takes Met fandom’s focus off of  their almost universally-disliked team ownership and front office and puts it squarely on the field, which is where it belongs. Plus Alderson can walk his dog in peace for a while.

Overall, this season has easily been one of the more entertaining ones in recent Mets history, one that we will hopefully look back on in a few years as a “(good) transition year.”  I get it that you can’t mortgage a significant part of your future for a semi-long shot at a playoff berth. That’s why this Upton deal works on the levels spelled out above.

So how about you? Got a trade proposal you’re needing to share? Expect a trade or just more dog-walking? Do you like Justin Upton? Should his brother stick to “Melvin,” or go back to “BJ?” Sound off below.

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