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.
Browsing All Posts By Dan Capwell

The Last Mortgage Payment?

Just about anyone who has been a Met fan for more than six seconds has seen the clip. Mookie Wilson’s dribbler tying up Bill Buckner behind the first base bag and then rolling into the grass in right field. Meanwhile, Ray Knight rounds third and scores the winning run –barely beating third base coach Bud Harrelson to the plate. The Mets improbably win Game Six of the 1986 World Series. Two nights later they finish off the Red Sox and capture their second and to date their last, world championship. I know, I was there.

Let’s go back to that fateful Saturday night at old Shea. The Mets trail the Red Sox three games to two and have watched in disbelief as the Sox plated a pair of runs in the top of the 10th inning. The Mets had romped through the 1986 season, winning 108 games, survived a tough Houston Astros challenge in the NLCS and where heavily favored to beat the then still-cursed Red Sox in the Fall Classic. October 1986 was to be culmination of a five-year process that started with the franchise as the laughing stock of baseball and culminated with this superb season. That all seemed lost on October 25 with the Mets down two runs in the 10th and with their first two batters making outs. Everyone knows what happened next.

The improbability of that comeback has been dissected over and over since then. So why not again? In this version, the ghost of Casey Stengel, a kind of baseball version of Dickens’ Jacob Marley, appeared to owner Fred Wilpon and GM Frank Cashen before the bottom of the 10th and told them he could get it fixed, but it would cost’em. Maybe he told Fred the swap was for his first born son (that would be Jeff), but Fred, ever the canny real estate negotiator, instead settled on a 30-year mortgage. The document was quickly drawn up and signed. In a twinkling the Ol’ Perfessor vanished and the ball went between Buckner’s legs.

Then the 30-year payment plan began.

There has been Dwight Gooden’s drug rehab, Terry Pendleton’s homer, Mike Scioscia’s homer, Lenny Dykstra for Juan Samuel, Bobby Bonilla, Jeff Torborg, the rape scandal, the Worst Team Money Could Buy, Dwight Gooden’s second drug rehab (and subsequent rebirth in the Bronx), the Generation K fiasco, the Kenny Rogers walk, the 2000 Subway Series, the Beltran Strikeout, two collapses, Jeff running the team, Jerry Manuel, Jason Bay, a Ponzi scheme, Lucas Duda’s errant throw and finally Conor Gillaspie. Maybe Fred should have agreed to Stengel’s first offer.

This month marks the 30th anniversary of that fateful night.

In my mind, the Mets enter the offseason with two burning objectives. The first is to ascertain that Yoenis Cespedes stays a Met. He is this era’s Daryl Strawberry or Mike Piazza; the centerpiece of the batting order around which everything else hangs. I get the sense that everyone in the Met hierarchy from Jeff all the way down to the lowliest clubhouse attendant, understands Cespedes’ importance to the team. Unlike the acrimony that surrounded Strawberry’s 1990 departure, both Cespedes and the Mets seem to appreciate each other. I am somewhat confident that he will be back next year.

The other task is to trade and replace Jeurys Familia. Yeah he’s saved over 90 games in the past two years, but he has coughed up some doozies, last year’s World Series and this week’s Wild Card game being chief among them. He has now twice choked in the clutch, an unforgivable sin anywhere, but especially here. Given the recent haul teams like the Yankees, Phillies and Braves have gotten for their closers in the past few years, I’m betting the Mets could find similar gold for Familia. As to the new closer, Addison Reed could be one alternative, as could one of these suddenly surplus rotation arms. They could pick up a veteran for a stopgap. A bit more improbable, but not entirely impossible would be last year’s #1 draft pick Justin Dunn. He was Boston College’s closer, so the experience isn’t entirely new to him.

The Mets should enter 2017 deeper and more experienced than any Met team that I can remember. Thanks to some unlikely late-season heroics, they have an apparent surplus of capable players and can assemble a 25-man roster of players that can handle playing in New York. By most accounts, they still have a few more good pieces on the way as well. They have a manager, who love him or hate him, has proven equal to the challenge of a pennant chase and a front office that while making a few missteps here and there, has been willing and able to add the necessary components. The Mets window of contention is still open.

It’s been 30 years, so maybe the mortgage on the 1986 championship has finally been paid in full. For all our sakes, let’s hope so.


Let’s Go Cubs! Wait, What?

The Chicago Cubs are the Mets’ newest best friends down the stretch.

After last night’s game I am going to make a dangerous assumption and state that the Marlins are dead. So of course, they’ll go all the way!

Seriously though, that leaves the Cards and Bucs left as the last teams standing in the Mets’ way. Enter the Cubs. They play the Cards 6 more times and counting tonight’s game, they have the Bucs four more times. Here’s to 7 Cub wins!

The Cards and Bucs also play each other 6 more times and the Pirates have the Nats for three in Washington. The Mets only have 6 tough games left, all with Washington.

So it CAN happen. But WILL it?

In the words of the immortal Bob Murphy: “Fasten your seat belts!”


Can Conforto and Nimmo be “the rabbits?”

So I am watching last night’s series finale against St. Louis and I am thinking that the Cardinals are really a mess right now. At that moment Ron Darling, who to my mind at least, is the realist of the three TV booth guys, makes a similar remark. Moments later a Cardinal infielder boots a grounder, opening the floodgates in what turned out to be a 10-6 Met win.

Maybe it’s wishful thinking on my part, but I have a hard time believing that the final Wild Card standings on October 2 will look the same as they do on August 26. I don’t really believe in either the Giants or the Cards and I think that one, if not two of the three teams bunched up behind the two staggering leaders might be able to pull a rabbit out of their hat and secure home field advantage for a one-game play-in.

For the Mets, those rabbits could be Michael Conforto and/or Brandon Nimmo, both of whom are destroying PCL pitching right now. It would be a delicious and ironic twist to a season that has had more ups and downs than a Disney rollercoaster if this maligned duo could somehow ignite the fuse that rockets the Mets back into the playoffs.

First off, I hate the fact that the Mets AAA team is located in Las Vegas. And this isn’t because I live in an International League city either (well not entirely). The hot, dry air plays havoc with pitchers and makes sluggers out of guys like Eric Campbell (363/493/593 in 2015), Johnny Monell (324/389/469) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (324/381/667). The fact that the first two are back in Vegas this year, while Kirk (I never want to type his last name again) is slashing 214/327/405 with Milwaukee ought to give you a good idea of the artificial environment and how much different it is from the big leagues. So, Nimmo is at 344/418/533 for Vegas, while Conforto, having suffered two demotions to baseball’s version of Siberia, is slashing 423/480/748. What is the difference between these two and the aforementioned trio as well as other Las Vegas superstar hitters such as Josh Satin or Zack Lutz?

Well for openers, both are former first round picks, making them “real” prospects. Big deal, so were Stan Jefferson and Shawn Abner, you might say. Well, with an exception here and there, both Nimmo and Conforto have essentially outhit these other players at the major league level already. Both may have suffered, especially in Conforto’s case, from being pushed into a major league role before they were fully ready. Their current lines at Vegas are a hopeful sign that the lessons have been learned and they can be recalled on September 1 and actually contribute.

And why not? The Cards are a shell of their former shelves, the Giants and Pirates have been rudderless since the All-Star break and the Marlins are racked with injuries. Only the Mets, it seems can count on a late infusion of talent to help them with a late push. The schedule favors the Mets down the stretch and hey, stranger things have happened.


The No Good, Horrible, Very Bad Day

What a difference a year makes. Last August 1 the Mets had just acquired one of the best hitters in the game, had seen a long-time organizational player shed tears over the prospect of leaving and most importantly, were in the process of sweeping a moribund divisional leader, propelling themselves (and us) into a memorable and long post season run that would last all the way to November 1.

This year?

Let me count the ways I hate the Jay Bruce trade. First there’s Bruce the player. He doesn’t really do much well. He’s slow, he has occasional power, he strikes out too much, doesn’t get on base enough and is a bad fielder. Some of his inflated offensive stats can be attributed to playing in the Great American Ballpark. In his defense, he is having a pretty good year so far. The Mets have been historically bad this season with RISP, so perhaps he helps.

Then there’s the trade itself. The Mets acquired Bruce for second baseman Dilson Herrera. As recently as last winter, the Mets were calling Herrera the second baseman of the future, which apparently justified letting the 2016 NL batting champ Daniel Murphy go. What made them change their minds and trade Murphy’s heir apparent for a player who doesn’t hit as well as Murphy? Long-time readers of this blog will no doubt recall the distain heaped on the Mets Front Office prior to the incredible hot streak they went on in late July. This type of shenanigans certainly recalls some of the bad old days of Met Front Office follies–short sided player moves, shoehorning square pegs into round holes and dealing under (while entirely denying) financial restraints.

Speaking of financial restraints, there is also a grim foreboding about next year baked somewhere in this move. Does the arrival of Bruce signal the eventual departure of Yoenis Cespedes? Bruce has another year on his deal, Cespedes can opt out this winter. I shudder to think of an outfield next year of Bruce in right, the suddenly unreliable Michael Conforto in left and the depleted Curtis Granderson in center. It could happen.

The Mets also brought back Jon Niese from Pittsburgh in a trade for Antonio Bastardo. One of the best names in Met history, Bastardo just never clicked here. I wonder what kind of reception Niese is getting in the clubhouse after he made a few pointed comments about his teammates on his way out last December.

Finally, the Mets lost to the Yankees (of all teams) in 10 innings last night 6-5. Channeling his inner Wilmer Flores, AAAA player Matt Reynolds hammered a three run homer off the entirely ineffective CC Sabathia, giving the Mets a brief lead that the otherwise reliable Addison Reed coughed up two innings later. The Mets dynamic bullpen duo of Reed and Jeurys Familia suddenly look very vulnerable.

And that is probably the most foreboding sign of them all.


Lowered Expectations: Mets Should Acquire Todd Fraizer

ICYMI, the former Mets GM and hopefully former playboy Steve Phillips surfaced yesterday and suggested the Mets acquire Evan Longoria from Tampa Bay. As we used to say back in the day Stevie, right church, wrong pew. The Mets should definitely acquire a new third baseman, but not one of Longoria’s age (30), injury history and contract status (still owed $110M for the next 7 years).

Also speaking yesterday was White Sox GM Rick Hahn, using the “R” word to describe his team’s status. Just about anyone is available for the right price, including a certain Long Island native who plays third, hits for power and isn’t tied to a long-term commitment.

The Mets should trade Neil Walker, $2.5 million and a minor league pitchers Gabriel Ynoa and Chris Flexen to the ChiSox for Todd Frazier.

Don’t get me wrong, Frazier is no Yoenis Cespedes. He won’t hit for a high average (217/304/486 slash line). He is slow footed. While he has played elsewhere in the field, he is best suited to third base; meaning that other players on the Met roster need to shift to make room for him. Here is what he does do: he hits homeruns. 28 so far this year for the Sox, a year after hitting 35 for the Reds. He is probably the best the Mets can get in their increasingly difficult task of defending their NL crown—at least without sacrificing one of their young starters or a really good prospect. He offers true protection for Cespedes and if Lucas Duda comes back anytime soon, the Mets may have enough power to compensate for an otherwise putrid offense, giving the remnants of starting pitching staff a break from having to be nearly perfect on each outing.

I get the irony of trading for a player who is the 2016 Met offense in a nutshell, but what’s a boy to do? They can’t overhaul the team on the fly and it is way too early, in my estimation at least, to pull the plug on some of the younger regulars who have been struggling this year. Imagine the hue and cry should the Wilmers, the d’Arnauds or the Confortos of the world reach their potential elsewhere.

Frazier is signed through this year at $8.2M. He is arbitration-eligible this offseason and then a Free Agent after 2017. Walker is making $10m and is gone after this year. The White Sox didn’t exactly surrender any jewels from their farm system to get Frazier last year, so they actually take a step forward with Flexen and Ynoa. The Mets can move the Wilmer Flores/Jose Reyes third base platoon to second base. Frazier also serves as a semi-stopgap in 2017 if Cespedes bolts or if David Wright still isn’t ready (or retires).

It’s a relatively safe move and the offer might be better than anything else Hahn might get for Frazier. I’d make this move, would you?


The Qualifying Offer Revisited

Daniel Murphy is slashing 348/387/598 for the Washington Nationals so far this season. He is leading the NL in batting average and if current trends continue, will be one of the front-runners for the league MVP. It isn’t a stretch to state that the Nats owe a large part of their current situation (first place in the NL East by six games) to his presence.

Meanwhile, his former team is languishing in a second place tie and looking at a difficult road back to the post-season. Injuries to a pair of their corner infielders are part of the reason for this. Both are positions Murphy can competently play. He wouldn’t win a Gold Glove at either and he is good for a major lapse or two, but with that slash line, no one could really complain.

It says here that if Murphy was still a Met that they and the Nats would be in each other’s current position as the baseball’s second half begins. I’ll wager that you can probably find a lot of off the record comments from Met officials and players expressing regret that Daniel got away. But I wonder how Murphy must feel about his current financial situation (and his agent).

In case you’ve forgotten, Murphy wrapped up a long and checkered Mets career with a stunning performance in the NLDS and NLCS. He became a free agent after the World Series. The Mets, eyeing younger options at second and believing they had permanent solutions at first and third, made a decision to move on from Daniel. They did however make him a Qualifying Offer, which is a one-year $16M contract. What the Mets really wanted was the draft pick. Murphy declined and signed a $37M deal with Washington on Christmas Eve.

In retrospect Murphy should have taken the Mets offer. His Washington salary for this year is half of what the QO was. He is due $12M next year and $18M in 2018. A little fun with math: Murphy’s deal cost him $8M this year. Coming off an MVP season this winter, wouldn’t he be in line for another $50m or so and an extra year? In other words, he has potentially cheated himself out of $20 to $28 million more in salary by taking Washington’s offer instead of New York’s.

So, there’s a new Murphy’s Law: don’t automatically reject the Qualifying Offer. Murphy was a good Met player coming off a stupendous post-season run. He followed conventional wisdom and rejected the offer. As a result he had to “settle” for a $37M offer from Washington. He could have doubled his 2015 salary for one year this year, while increasing his value exponentially for the next contract. He should fire his agent. The Nats as good as they are, are largely unknowns in their market behind Golden Boy Bryce. Murph would have had his face and his name everywhere here if he’d stayed. His loss and ours.

Oh and that draft pick the Mets got? It’s a pitcher with a sore arm.


Raise the White Flag

Another year, another failed defense of the pennant for the Mets. That’s five if you’re counting.

In case you missed it yesterday, the Washington Murphies put a 3-2 beating on another sore-armed Mets phenom, padding their NL East lead over the Mets and the upstart Miami Marlins to six games. All of the air has gone out of the Mets’ balloon: they’re injured and tired-looking, a far cry from the team that stormed it’s way into the World Series just a few months ago. The sole bright spot in yesterday’s debacle was two-homer effort by the returning and apparently repentant Jose Reyes.

Wait…Reyes wasn’t the only bright spot, there were three others yesterday for the Mets, but they occurred 2,700 miles away in San Diego. Three Mets prospects appeared in The Futures Game, a clever name for what is essentially a minor league all star game. More on that in a second.

The next three weeks are like the Christmas shopping season for baseball websites and blogs, as trades and rumors of trades will drive clicks through the roof. Expect a passel of rumors about the Mets, with the pot already being stirred about the previously unlikely possibility that they should add a starting pitcher. I have the distinct impression that many Mets fans will be very disappointed at 4PM three weeks from today (this year’s trade deadline was pushed back a day for some reason) and the Mets are fielding nearly the same roster. 2015’s torrid trade deadline may have spoiled some of you, but I highly doubt the Mets add anyone. In fact, if they’re smart they might make a few subtractions.

I know that I predicted otherwise here, but at this point a divisional crown, while still possible, looks very improbable. The Mets are in actuality playing for the chance to travel across the country to face Clayton Kershaw in a one-game playoff. I wouldn’t like their chances in a game like that. I suggest that instead of mortgaging their future for a long shot at the brass ring this year that they focus on playing for the next few years and that period of sustainable success they’ve long been touting.

Part of that sustainable success was on display yesterday in San Diego. Amed Rosario and Dilson Herrera have got to figure prominently in the Mets future plans. Ironically, both are throw backs to an earlier age, the slick-fielding, surprisingly quick, contact hitters from the Luis Aparicio/Davey Conception mold. It’s funny how everything old is new again. Back 25-30 years ago, good teams were strong defensively up the middle, with power at the corners. During baseball’s power surge, this concept was lost in pursuit of putting a home run hitter at every position. It now looks to be coming back. If that’s true, the Mets are on the cutting edge of this old/new paradigm, with Rosario at short, Herrera at second and Juan Lagares in center.

First baseman Dominic Smith was also in the Futures Game. Smith strikes me somewhat as the Lagares of infielders, a great glove but a sketchy bat. Still, that kind of defense could be valuable coming off the bench in late and close situations; giving the Mets the flexibility to add a pure power hitter at first with Smith’s glove in there at the end. It’s a real waste of a high draft pick if that is Smith’s ceiling, but just ask 1986 Red Sox how valuable a defensive replacement at first base can be. Plus, Smith’s recent power surge bears watching to see if this is merely a blip on the radar or if he has really figured something out.

Those three players, along with Brandon Nimmo, are probably the Mets best non-pitcher trading chips at this point. IMO, trading any of them is a mistake. Small sample size, but I really like the energy Nimmo brings to the team. It still comes down to starting pitching, which in theory should give the Mets a long window of opportunity. At this point, there is no reason to believe that Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler won’t be ready for Spring Training (that could change of course) . Trading any of them after the collective down year they have experienced would be an all-time sell-low mistake. Mets GM Sandy Alderson can be exasperating at time, but I would be shocked if he moved any of them in the next three weeks.

While I am dead set against any trades of starters, I would dangle Jerry Blevins in front of teams like Cleveland or Texas, trying to pull a top five prospect from either one. Otherwise, I’d hold on to Blevins and try to resign him. Addison Reed’s big season could also be converted into a top prospect in those or other pennant-starved cities. In both cases, however these players still have some utility to the Mets, who could be relying heavily on their contributions next year.

Yes, losing the division back to Washington sucks. I don’t know whether to hate or applaud Murphy at this point. I take solace in the adage about making a deal too early rather than too late. He might win the MVP this year and then hit .260 for the next two. Hopefully by then Herrera’s star is in ascendency and he and Rosario are a nightly highlight reel. We need to look no further than Stephen Strasburg or Jose Fernandez to see that it is possible for a pitcher to overcome serious injury. The Mets have holes that will need filling, but I hope and pray they don’t reach for that quick fix this year at the expense of what still figures to be one of the better periods in team history.

Enjoy the All Star break folks.


Granderson for Beltran?

All of this Jose Reyes talk/speculation/click bait has gotten me to thinking: if the Mets are seriously considering bringing back stars from the Omar Minaya era, why don’t they inquire about Carlos Beltran?

If any player symbolized the failed Minaya era better than Beltran, it isn’t apparent to me. He slashed 280/369/500 in his seven years here–near elite numbers, even for that steriod-assisted era. He slugged 149 homers and stole 100 bases. He won three Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers and was a 5-time All Star. Despite this impressive resume, he never quite got the big prize and his Met career will always have an asterisk next to it because of The At Bat. However in typing those stats, I realized that he never really quite got the appreciation he probably deserved around here.

I get it that Met-Yankee trades are about as rare as late April snow in Pennsylvania, but I propose that the Mets trade Curtis Granderson to the Yanks for Beltran. Before you scoff and click somewhere else, bear this in mind: the Mets will not trade any of their young pitchers for a bat, unless said bat is a near lock to be an offensive mainstay for the next several seasons. Instead, they will look to rinse and repeat deals like this, rent-a-bats that they hope they could catch lightening in a bottle with the way they did last year with Yoenis Cespedes.

The Beltran and Granderson 2016 contracts are essentially a wash, but the Mets would have to come up with some creative way of assisting the Yanks with Curtis’ 2017 salary. Grandy returns to the stadium where he twice hit 40+ homers, while Beltran becomes the Mets 4th outfielder, a sort of roving left fielder/right fielder.

This move gets Juan Lagares back into center field and frees up right for Beltran, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo or any other hot bat, either here or in Vegas. Maybe the Mets also add Reyes as well, giving them a bench that on paper at least has speed and power, two commodities they will need if they plan to reel in the Nationals.

So what do you think? Bring back Jose? Get Beltran? Got another idea? Sound off below.