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.
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Thanks Mets

Failure? The Mets fell short of the ultimate prize, winning the National League Championship but losing to the Kansas City Royals, the one team in the Adulterated League they matched up poorly with, in the World Series. Maybe it was the somewhat reduced expectations, but I wouldn’t call this year a failure. Actually it is a qualified success, but one that will be better measured based on what our heroes do next year.

If this is the start of a run of sustainable success with them actually winning the World Series sometime between now and say 2018, then this year will be viewed as the start of something big. If they go the other route and are scuffling in the second division in two years, then this year is a failure, the season they got to the big dance, only to choke away an opportunity to win it all.

All of that is yet to come and we here at Mets Today will be around to chronicle it. But meantime, lets take a final look at the 2015 season, which had its ups and its downs. Along the way there were many moments that can keep us warm this winter and on this day of giving thanks, is our way of saying thanks to the Mets for the memories they gave us this year:

  • Mets Today Contributor Correctly Predicts Division Win 4/1/15. Just in case you forgot, you can read it here.

OK just kidding. I’ll never mention that again. Here is the real list:

  • Jacob deGrom’s and Daniel Murphy’s Hollywood Ending, 10/15/2015:  This was the game of the year and probably in the best Met game since the Bobby Jones game in 2000. We can argue that point in the comments section. Here’s what came down: after failing to put LA away back in New York, the Mets traveled west to face the dreaded Zack Greinke and the red-hot Justin Turner. Down 2-1 after the first inning, the Mets rallied in the 4th when Murphy “stole” third as the Dodgers fell asleep during a shift play against Lucas Duda, who had walked. Travis d’Arnaud’s sacrifice fly to right scored Murphy, who later homered in the 6th against Greinke to give the Mets the lead. After a shaky first, deGrom settled down and pitched five strong innings, including a momentum-changing, two-out K of Adrian Gonzalez with two on in the 2nd. Manager Terry Collins brought in Noah Syndergaard in the 7th and “Thor” recorded two strikeouts around a walk. Collins’ hot streak continued as he brought in Jeurys Familia for a six-out save. BTW–this game occurred on the anniversary of Game Six of the 1986 NLCS.
  • Thor drops the Hammer on KC 10/30/2015: What could be better than a Mets’ World Series win? OK, three more wins. Syndergaard knocked down Alcides Escobar with his first pitch, which got the KC dugout chirping. David Wright and Curtis Granderson both homered as the Mets won 9-3. Unfortunately, this was the last win of the season for them.
  • Matt Harvey and  Syndergaard Deep Freeze The Cubbies, 10/17 & 10/18/2015: Talk about a coming out party. If the Mets young pitching hadn’t already made an impact on the national conscience, these two games probably did it. Harvey and Thor combined for 18Ks of the surprisingly over-matched Cubs. The heat from both aces juxtaposed nicely with the early fall chill that turned Citi Field into an icebox. MVP Murphy homered in both games and d’Arnaud had a nice shot that clanked off the apple. Familia saved both games. The Cubs season essentially ended on the frozen tundra, but there was still another act to go…
  • Miguel Montero Channels Mickey Owen, 10/20/15: You can read about Owen’s blunder here. In the sixth inning of this game, Montero dropped a third strike against Michael Conforto, which allowed him to go to first, but more importantly, saw Yoenis Cespedes score from third. Instead of the ending the inning, the Cubs fell behind 3-2. The Mets, who never trailed in the series, went on to a 5-2 win. In case anyone in Chicago didn’t believe in curses before this game, this one must have convinced them.
  • Aliens Abduct Sandy Alderson, July 24 through August 31: We certainly did our share of vilifying Alderson for most of 2015. Then, on July 24, he stirred, shipping two minor league pitchers off to Atlanta for Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. Not bad, we all said. Then on July 27th, he swapped a more prospect-y arm to Oakland for 8th-inning arm Tyler Clippard. Whoa, we all said. He then had a near miss on Carlos Gomez before the BIG one, an 11th hour deal, trading one of his blue-chip prospects to Detroit for Cespedes. These deals, along with Wright and d’Arnaud returning from the DL and Conforto’s promotion from the minors, totally transformed the team. Alderson wasn’t done, he traded another minor leaguer to Arizona for reliever Addison Reed on August 31.  Other than Reed, there is an good chance that none of these acquisitions will be wearing a Met uniform come Opening Night next April. But, kudos to Sandy for the guts to make the moves that transformed the franchise, opening what is hopefully a long window of contention a year ahead of schedule.
  • Tears of Joy One: The Cincy Clinch, 9/26/15: I am passionate about the Mets, but I seldom get choked up over them or game results. I came close on this one. Harvey atoned for his agent’s ill-timed snafu over innings limits earlier in the month with a strong game. My son was set to play in a baseball tournament  that night, but we really wanted to see the clinch live. With him in full uniform, we stood in our living room while the Mets kept scoring, delaying the inevitable. Finally the game ended and we saw the celebration. My son had the game-tying RBI double in his game later that evening. It was a great baseball day in my household.
  • Washington’s Farewell Address, 9/9/15: The end of the Nationals. Covered here.
  • Tears of Joy Two: Wilmer Unpacks His Bags, 7/31/15: The Mets thought they had traded  Wilmer Flores to the Brewers for Gomez two days earlier. Flores, believing he had been traded, cried while on the field, which the cameras spotted. The Mets lost the game, but to their good fortune, the deal fell through. That Friday, the same day Cespedes, instead of Gomez, had been acquired,  Wilmer hit a 12th-inning walk-off homer that was the first salvo in the eventual demise of the Nationals. Along with the Marlins, I really despise Washington, so two entries in a row is sweet. Speaking of sweet…
  • Sweet 16 as Wright Returns, 8/24/15: Wright returned from the DL against one his favorite punching bags, the Philadelphia Phillies pitching staff. Fittingly, he homered in his first at bat with Howie Rose’s hopefully ad-libbed “Holy Smokes” call a priceless soundtrack to the event. Flores, d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares, Murphy, Cespedes and Michael Cuddyer  also homered in the 16-7 win.
  • Meet The Matz, 6/28/15: I am not 100% sold on Steven Matz just yet, but his debut was one for the ages. Not only did he strike out six Reds, he also had three hits and 4 RBI, while making an internet sensation of out his Grandpa.
  • 11 in a Row, 4/12 to 4/23/15: Yes that happened this past season. It seems a like years ago doesn’t it? This streak essentially buried Atlanta, Philly and the Fish. The 1986 Mets had an April streak like this one. While the 2015 team couldn’t  sustain this level of play, it certainly got the season off to a good start. They could use another one in 2016.
  • Logan Verrett’s Spot Start 8/23/2015:. Remember Wally Whitehurst? He had a couple of decent starts in 1991, including one stellar outing on July 4th that convinced the Mets to insert him into the rotation at the expense of Ron Darling. Wally went 1-7 before the plug was pulled on the experiment, while Darling was traded to Montreal (and later to Oakland) where he averaged 162 innings per year for them for the next four years. Whitehurst bounced between three teams during the same time and barely pitched that many innings in the next four years combined. Verrett got a spot start against Colorado while Matt Harvey was rested. Logan tossed a one hitter in Coors Field with 8Ks. A few birdbrains floated the idea of dealing Harvey and inserting Verrett in his spot. That it didn’t happen is why this game is included here. Maybe Sandy isn’t so dumb after all.

And finally, thanks to all of our readers. Despite the drop in content frequency  due to some life changes among the staff, we still continued to get a lot of hits to this site. We’re still here, we’re still viable and some good changes are coming.

What was your favorite Met moment of 2015?






Curb Your Enthusiasm: 10 Free Agents Who Aren’t Coming to The Mets (and Two Who Are)

Quite a comedown since November 1, huh? Despite the somewhat unseasonal warmth we’ve had here in the northeast, the baseball winter has begun.

Since there are no games being played, baseball-related sites will depend on trade rumors and free agent signing speculation  to generate clicks. This will further elevate the expectations for Mets GM Sandy Alderson and the Wilpon family to add a few big ticket items this offseason as the team attempts to take the final step.

I think the period from say, July 24  when they traded for Juan Uribe and the August 30 deal for Addison Reed will prove to be the exception and that the Mets will soon return to semi-hibernation as Alderson’s excruciatingly methodical plodding, coupled with the Wilpon’s financial insecurity, will limit the action. That hasn’t stopped every other site on the blogosphere from full-speed speculation. As we have seen in previous winters, this quickly goes over the top and leaves the fan base frustrated and feeling like they somehow have been cheated when nothing happens.

Now, it’s our turn. But in typical Mets Today fashion, we’d rather follow the road less traveled. Below is who we think the Mets won’t be getting. And just remember, the author of this column also correctly predicted the 2015 NL East winner and the outcome of the 2015 World Series!

For obvious reasons, we won’t include a single starting pitcher on this list. Also, there are more than likely going to be even more free agents shortly when the non-tender list is published. But since our millions of readers can’t wait, here we go…

  • Yoenis Cespedes: If 2015 turns out to be a blip on the radar and the next few Mets seasons are mediocre again, then Cespedes’ stature as a Met will grow to mythical proportions. If however, they are able to put together a run of sustained post season success, his scorching hot five weeks in 2015 will fade from memory. It was the right move at the right time to get him last July 31. His September 9th homer off Drew Storen finished both Storen’s and the Nationals 2015 season. Then he got hurt and crashed to earth. His last and perhaps most lasting impression will be the crumpled form at home plate in Game Five. I’d like to keep him, but I doubt the Mets do.
  • Ben Zobrist and Darren O’Day: The competition for these two is going to be fierce, which will drive the cost to acquire one or both of them into the upper stratosphere. Either would be very useful to the Mets, Zobrist to serve as the caddy for the still-developing Dilson Herrera at second and Michael Conforto in left, while providing great defense and a veteran presence. O’Day is probably the best reliever out on the market right now and would be the perfect bridge to the closer. I suspect as many as a dozen teams will be in on both, including the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs and Red Sox. There is no way the Mets win a bidding war against any of those financial giants.
  • Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Alex Gordon: Much like their stubborn (and in retrospect correct) insistence on holding on to their young arms, the Mets aren’t going to move Conforto. Since all three of these guys profile as corner outfielders, you can see the problem. Alderson has attempted to pry Upton from both Arizona and San Diego several times, most recently being last July. Upton and Heyward are on the right side of thirty and would help the Mets, but the presence of a cheaper and potentially just as effective Conforto makes their additions unlikely.
  • Dexter Fowler, Denard Span, Geraldo Parra: These are the second tier of outfielder free agents, but their value is somewhat improved  because they can play center field and are nominally at least, lead off material.  I used to like Fowler, but advanced stats indicate a player in decline. Span’s hip condition worries me, as does Parra’s performance after being traded to Baltimore. I would be interested in either of the latter two on a short-term deal, say a year with an option. I’ll bet each gets much more from some second division team trying to do something to appease their fan base.
  • Ian Desmond: I am certain the Mets won’t sign any of the previous nine.  I am less certain that they don’t sign Desmond, who had a terrible 2015, including the Opening Day error-fest against the Mets. Another reason for passing on Desmond is that our team already rosters a cheaper version of him in Wilmer Flores. They might view Desmond as a fall back in the event they don’t re-sign Cespedes or fail to land Zobrist or O’Day. If the Mets really want a Washington shortstop, they should try to get Trea Turner. Yeah, right.

I think the master plan is to mirror 2015 as closely as possible: stay close, ride the young guns until the All-Star break and then add a bat at the deadline.  This offseason,  the plan will be to strengthen the bullpen and the bench. Here’s how they will do it:

  • Bartolo Colon: I get it, being a big league baseball player is probably the coolest job on earth. The salary is enough to provide for the  next several generations and the other perks are just as fantastic.  I don’t blame Bartolo for wanting to continue this ride for as long as he can. Might he be willing to come back in a bullpen role for say a one-year, $10M deal? Alderson’s main task this year will be to build a strong bridge to Jeurys Familia. Resigning Colon and going to arbitration with Reed are part of this process. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them bring back Jerry Blevins as well, although in Blevins’ case, he could quickly get too expensive, plus the Mets liked lefty Josh Smoker enough to add him to the 40-man. They’ve also got Hansel Robles and Eric Goeddel returning and they might get Josh Edgin back by mid-season. Another name to watch is knuckleballer Mickey Jannis, who they rescued from the Long Island Ducks in mid-summer and later sent the AFL for further seasoning. Still too many walks there, but if Jannis can harness the knuckler like another former Met pitcher did…
  • Daniel Murphy: You read it here first, Murphy will be a Met in 2016 (and beyond). I get the comparisons to Chase Headley, but Murphy is not Headley and his post-season heroics aside, no GM is going to go big money for Murphy. He doesn’t field well enough for an NL job and his slash line just doesn’t profile for a DH. Then there’s the draft pick impediment. The longer Murph goes unsigned, the more probable a reunion at say, three years $33M becomes. He becomes the poor-man’s version of Zobrist, filling in at first, second and third, where the Mets may be needing help during the long season. Plus he is younger than Zobrist.

Well, at least this offseason will be the shortest on record. Only 112 days between Game Five and 2016 pitchers and catchers!


More Like the 84 Mets

Author’s Note: The main point of this post is based on some pre-game remarks made last night by former Mets’ pitcher Ron Darling. The editorializing is all mine. If you reject this premise, blame Ronnie!

The Mets’ magic carpet ride crashed and burned last night at Citi Field. ICYMI, the Kansas City Royals defeated the Mets in 12 innings to clinch the World Series. Congrats to the Royals and their city. This one will hurt for a while. It would be poetic to say that Dame Momentum, who seemed to have taken up permanent residence in the Mets dugout since August 1, suddenly crossed the field into the KC dugout last Tuesday. But the reality of the situation is that the Mets, while vastly improved over last year (or even mid-season), just aren’t completely ready and on the biggest stage in baseball their flaws were finally exposed.

That’s why I loved Darling’s pre-game comments on SNY last night. He compared the 2015 team to the 1984 team, which like this one, won 90 games, the first winning season in over half a decade for this beleaguered franchise. Like their 2015 antecedents, the 1984 team rose to the top mainly due to the emergence of some young arms Darling (23), Dwight Gooden (19) and Sid Fernandez (21). These young arms, especially Gooden, captured the imagination of both the city and baseball. Doc’s starts that year (and next) where must see games.

Acting very un-Metsian like, both the ’84 and the ’15 teams imported veteran help and both took advantage of the sudden crumbling of a long-time division leader (the Nationals this year, the Phillies in 1984). One of the differences in the two seasons was the Chicago Cubs, who in 1984, added pieces like Dennis Eckersley (who interestingly enough was traded in May of that year for Bill Buckner). Like the Cubs of this year who improved drastically, their 84 version was suddenly really good and in the era of two divisions, became the Mets main rival for the division crown.

Like the early August showdown this year with the Nationals, the Mets went into Wrigley that August in second place (they had lost the division lead the week before) trailing the Cubs by a half game. The 2015 Mets sweep the Nationals out of Citi Field, dealing them a blow they would never recover from. In retrospect, the Mets won the NL East that weekend. In 1984, the veteran Cubs swept all four games from the Mets, dealing a mortal blow to their divisional crown hopes.

Ah, but what if the Mets had won a few of those games? What if Gooden hadn’t been blown out of the first game inside of four innings, or Darling in less than five the next day? What if the immortal Wes Gardner hadn’t blown the save in the last game, maybe salvaging the series and changing the momentum back to the Mets? What if the 1984 Mets had left the Cubs for dead in the Wrigley dust, the way they did to the Nats this year? Well, they maybe go on to win the NL East and without a Leon Durham-like error in the 1984 NLCS, perhaps they beat the equally unprepared San Diego Padres and capture an improbable NL crown.

Then, they would have run into the 1984 Detroit Tigers, one of the best teams of that era and been crushed in say, five games.

Take a look at the 1984 team’s roster on Baseball Reference. You will see a lot of names that had played on some previously bad Mets teams, a lot of the same names that wouldn’t be on the 1986 championship team. Take a look at this year’s roster and you see many of the former types of players, many of whom, I’d wager, won’t be on the next Mets world championship team. Both teams have great young arms and a solid core. The 1984 team just wasn’t ready and when they ran into a team of tough veterans in Chicago, every weakness was exposed. The 2015 Mets didn’t encounter this tough, veteran team until the World Series.

Neither team was quite ready. The 1984 team improved and the rest was history. Will the 2015 team improve? Time will tell. Of course I have some ideas on how to do it, but that’s another post!


Mets Will Win The World Series If…

…Daniel Murphy and Wilmer Flores play league-average defense.

Y’know, if you had told me at the beginning of Spring Training that Sandy Alderson’s failure to land a bona-fide major league shortstop wouldn’t be an issue until the World Series, I probably would have been thrilled. Now, with the start of the Game One less than 36 hours away, I am somewhat less thrilled. I admit I have paid zero attention to the Kansas City Royals until Saturday morning, but from all accounts I’ve heard since, they are a contact-oriented offense, far less prone to the strikeout than any of the Mets other opponents so far this post-season.

If that is indeed the case, then the Mets’ most potent weapon, those power arms, is at least partially neutralized, as the big strikeout in a key situation will less likely than it was during the regular season and the playoffs. There could be a lot of balls put in play. While the Mets corner infielders and the outfield are certainly competent enough, the up-the-middle infield duo of Murphy and Flores does give one pause. And thanks to Chase Utley, the Mets have no real alternatives here, especially at shortstop, unless you really believe that Matt Reynolds could actually make his major league debut during a World Series game.

This season has certainly had more than its share of twists and turns for the Mets. Flores and  Murphy have been major stories, Flores’ July tears and Murphy’s NLCS tear (see what I did here) figuring prominently in the narrative. Right before our very eyes, Alderson morphed from a smirking jackass to a baseball genius. Winning covers a multitude of sins. A couple of big errors by Wilmer will certainly take some of the shine off the season and will no doubt return us to the narrative of why Sandy couldn’t find a big-league glove at short.

I believe that the key to the Royals’ success in this series is to get men on and then move them over, disrupting the rhythm that the Mets young arms got into these last two series. Balls put in play will have to be played or they will be able to implement this strategy, causing the Mets pitchers to throw over and pitch out more, or worse, attempt to be too fine and put a meatball or two over the plate.

Unlike the Cubs, I expect Kansas City to be partially successful here. If the Mets can limit KC’s opportunities by not providing them with extra outs, I believe the Mets can win this series in six. If not, its Royals in five.

Your turn in this World Series Edition of Mets Today: What’s your prediction for the series? Does the clock strike twelve on one of this pair of Met Cinderellas? Is there another unlikely hero waiting in the wings? How much fun is this?



NLCS Game 4 Recap: Mets Win! Mets Win!

It won’t go down in history as one of their better-played games, but the New York Mets outscored the Chicago Cubs 8-3 last night in Wrigley Field to win their fourth consecutive game of the National League Championship Series, securing a highly improbable berth in the 2015 World Series. More on that improbability later.

The Mets committed several cardinal sins last night: base running mistakes,  several squandered opportunities to add tack on runs and relief pitchers falling behind early in the count. Plus, they lost arguably their best (but not their hottest) offensive player for no apparent reason. They did all of this on the road, a combination of circumstances that under normal conditions, usually equates to a loss. Fortunately for the Mets, last night was anything but a normal condition.

Granted, it was through the glare of the my TV screen, but I came away underwhelmed by the so-called Bleacher Creatures that we’ve heard so much about. The atmosphere in that old ballpark struck me as more of a rave than a playoff game . T-shirt? Check. Beer Mug? Check. White Towel? Check. Stand up and cheer? Check. Clap my hands? Check.  I don’t know if I believe in curses,  but the Cubs fans seemingly do, as they where taken out of the series the moment Miguel Montero dropped that third strike the game before. There was a collective “here we go again” resignation from them that would never happen in New York.

There is an deadly earnest seriousness to a playoff game in this city, Boston, or even Philadelphia that seemed lacking in Chicago. The crowd seemed more bystanderish than participants. I think that whoever the Mets face in the World Series next week will really need to brace themselves for what’s coming from the fans.

Back to the game itself, which had a surreal sense to it. I had to remind myself during the middle innings that the Mets where actually winning. Even after David Wright’s incredible snare of Starlin Castro’s liner in the 5th, I couldn’t shake a feeling of dread. I did relax to a point after Daniel (who’s Babe Ruth?) Murphy’s homer, but the suddenly unreliable Tyler Clippard gave those two runs back. Even the indomitable Jeurys Familia struggled just a bit in the ninth before getting a called strike three on Dexter Fowler to end the game and the series. The game lacked the drama of say Game 6 of the 86 NLCS, or the Todd Pratt walkoff,  or Bobby Jones’ gem. But considering how nervous I felt during most of the game, perhaps the lack of drama was a good thing!

Like many long time Mets fans, I tend to compare this season to others, looking for similarities. This team is far from being a complete squad, which is what the 1986 and 2000 teams were. It much more closely resembles the 1973 team, that rode great pitching and timely hitting, rising up from the depths of the division, overcoming heavy favorites in that race and the NLCS, getting to within a manager’s mishandling of the pitching staff (RIP Yogi) to beating the Oakland A’s. This team and the run they put on from August 1 forward reminds me of that team. A lot of recent bad memories, including the Beltran strikeout and the 07 collapse, have been somewhat expunged this year. Here’s hoping that the Mets can now erase an older hurt in this long-time fan’s memory.

I waited 13 years from 1973 to 1986. It took them another 14 years to get back to the World Series again. Now, the wait was 15 years. At this rate, I’ll be 71 the next time the Mets get the World Series and 88, which is how old I am expected to live to, for the subsequent one. What a way to go! The point is, that I am definitely going to savor these next few days and can’t wait for the World Series to begin. My sense is that Murphy, Clippard and Bartolo Colon are goners for sure after the World Series. Yoenis Cespedes is 50/50 at best to come back. But I think Murphy put it best when asked about his contract status: that’s a question for the offseason, we’re still playing.

Play on! Lets Go Mets!


Sustainable Success or a Blip on the Radar?

2015 NL East Champs. Let that sink in for a moment. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Remember, it was called here first.

Little known fact: this is only the second time in their history that the Mets went from below .500 in one year to a division winner the next. You may have heard of the 1969 season, which was the only other  time they did this. In fact, the 3rd place 1972 Mets actually had a better winning percentage (albeit in a strike-shortened 156-game season) than their next year’s division winners did. Only the Mets, folks.

Division titles are a rarity in these parts, five of ’em in the last 45 years to be exact. So the question becomes, do we have to wait another nine years for the next one, or can the Mets actually win back-to-back division titles? More than likely, they will be the 2016 preseason favorites to do so, but these predictions will come from the same sources that figured the Washington Nationals would be the runaway divisional winners this year. So, can the Mets actually repeat this somewhat surprising success of this year? There’s a three-part answer to this question.

The first is obvious: the Mets’ young arms must stay healthy. It was hard to swallow, but the limiting of Matt Harvey’s innings was done with the coming years in mind. Matt is a Met for at least three more seasons and it would be a shame to lose any more of this service time to injury. A fully-healthy and ready for 200 innings Harvey is a key to a long run at the top for the Mets. At some point, the Mets will have to choose between Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz as to who they will invest in and who will be allowed to walk away. Based purely on age, I’d bet they keep the latter two, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Parts two and three of the answer are closely related.

It seems like a long time ago now, but before this past July 31, the Mets pointed to a pipeline of young talent that they touted as being able to keep them at or near the top of the NL East in the coming seasons. Much of it has been stripped away, sacrificed on the altar of a postseason berth this year. And what a payoff: the big “get” has been Yoenis Cespedes, perhaps the greatest in-season acquisition the club has made since getting Keith Hernandez back in 1983, if not ever. In what can only be termed as Amazin’, Cespedes put the Mets on his back and the team zoomed past the hapless Nationals en route to their first NL East crown since 2006. Cespedes is will probably be the runner up NL MVP, but the winner of that award will be on the golf course while Yoenis’ team plays on.

Now for the rub: Cespedes’ surge is incredibly well-timed, as his contract expires at the end of this year. He is due for a big payday and the Mets pre-July 31st history indicates that they have little chance of resigning this dynamic player, as most pundits expect him to earn between a $140M and $170M deal.

Re-signing Cespedes (part two) is directly related to part three, which depends on the Mets still fertile, if somewhat mature, conveyor belt of talent to supply them with enough cheap and serviceable alternatives at other spots to absorb this monster salary.  These alternatives have names: Michael Conforto, Dilson Herrera, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Hansel Robles, Dario Alvarez and Logan Verrett, among others.

The Mets began 2015 with $33M earmarked for Bartolo Colon, Daniel Murphy, Bobby Parnell, Dillon Gee, Jerry Blevins and Jenrry Mejia. All of them can be allowed to walk, as each can replaced by the candidates mentioned in the previous paragraph. Colon and Murph in particular have given the Mets some big moments during this stretch drive, but such is the cruel nature of baseball. The players today have the freedom that their counterparts 40 years ago fought hard for, but this freedom means loyalty has gone out the window. You can only stay if you work for cheap, unless you are a superstar like Cespedes. I’d consider offering Murphy a QO, but only if I felt sure that he would rather explore the market for a long-term deal. They can pocket a draft pick in this scenario. They’ll need to draft smart these next two/three years. Poor drafts where the hidden causes of the collapse of the late 80’s and 90’s playoff teams.

For argument’s sake, let’s say that Cespedes gets $160M for six years. That makes him the team’s $26 Million Dollar Man.  Given the rate of inflation in baseball salaries, that could be a relative bargain sooner than you might think. The money coming off from Colon, Murphy, etc. covers the first year.

Of their other July pickups, I think they can let Tyler Clippard and Juan Uribe walk, but should keep Addison Reed (arbitration) and re-sign the relatively inexpensive Kelly Johnson. Reed gets the 8th inning, while Robles, Alvarez, Sean Gilmartin, Goeddel, Verrett and Josh Edgin jockey for roles in pen. The beauty of this is that all of these arms have big league experience and at least a modicum of success.  KJ can be the left handed bat off the bench as well as Herrera’s caddy. Don’t forget the Mets still have Juan Lagares, the 2014 gold glove centerfielder, signed to a relatively team friendly contract. Plenty of teams looking to get younger, faster and more athletic should be lining up at the door with offers for Lagares that could fill any gaps that open as next season wears on. Any bets on Clippard and Blevins being back in Washington next year?

More of a stretch, but in 2017 Smith replaces Lucas Duda and Rosario replaces Rueben Tejada. Farfetched? Smith was the 2015 FSL MVP, while Rosario  finished this year in Double-A. Jon Niese and Michael Cuddyer and their combined his $21M are gone after next year, while Curtis Granderson and his  $15M is gone after 2017. David Wright’s contract drops his salary to “only” $15M after 2018, so even after the pitcher’s salaries begin to skyrocket at the end of the decade, the Mets have other big money contracts either coming off the books or costing them less money. Smith and Rosario become the low-money guys at the same time that Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores start to hit arbitration. The same trade winds that blew Lagares out of town may end up moving Wilmer as well.

So, yes, the Mets can repeat. The bigger question is what the Wilpons will do. They should brace for at least a  25% payroll increase in the coming years. Is a division championship (at the very least) enough to justify the cost? They claim to love the team and must be reveling in this recent success. Seeing Cespedes walk has been viewed by some as a potential doomsday scenario. I can think of a worse one: the Mets lose Cespedes only to toss mega-millions at one of the lesser outfielder types like Alex Gordon to compensate. Remember the Kevin Appier fiasco?

All of this is getting a bit ahead, don’t you think? Enjoy the victory lap next week and get ready for some Divisional Playoffs! Lets Go Mets!


Mets Game 139: Playoffs? Playoffs? Playoffs!!!

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Well, now it’s official: the 2015 Mets have entered that rarefied air that only a handful of previous Mets teams have ever experienced. They are an “it” team, on one of those magical runs that comes along all too infrequently in team history. This shot, taken in a sporting goods store in Easton, PA, which is normally the intersection of Yankee and Phillies territories, tells you all you need to know. A fellow Mets fan remarked to me that they must have had that stuff in storage for years!

As for the game itself, the Mets weathered superlative performances from Bryce Harper (2 HRs, 12 total bases) and Steven Strasburg (13Ks). Like a patient boxer taking a few jabs, the Mets waited until Washington lowered their guard ever so slightly and then struck hard, with homers from Kelly Johnson and Yoenis Cespedes. In a matter of seconds it seemed, the Washington Nationals where flat on their backs, staring up at the lights, contemplating plans to make tee times for early October.

Much has been written about the Mets July additions of Cespedes, Juan Uribe and Tyler Clippard. Johnson has been somewhat easy to overlook, but he has been Terry Collins’ secret weapon of sorts since his arrival. He is the epitome of “veteran presence” (read his comments about his approach against Strasburg last night) and his ability to play all over the place has allowed Collins to give a few guys a breather and/or avoid being overmatched. Wilmer Flores had a tough night against Strasburg, but Collins had the option of using Johnson instead of the 23-year old Flores in the 8th. In the 9th, Lucas Duda, Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto showed the Mets can also manufacture runs, combining to put a big insurance run on the board. Jeurys Familia did the rest. When I saw Matt den Dekker was the Nationals last hope, I knew the game was in the bag.

So, the Mets sweep Washington, opening a seven game lead with 23 left to play. Washington is nearly finished, their pitching staff is in disarray, their manager appears to have lost all confidence in himself and some of the team’s veterans look like they’ve quit. They really miss Clippard and Adam LaRoche, which is what I proffered here. The Mets buried the rest of the division with their hot April start, so we are looking at a virtual victory lap between now and the start of the NLDS on October 9, hopefully at Citi Field.

This is an epic time in team history and as a fan since 1971, I  am savoring every moment. The trades GM Sandy Alderson made in July should go down in Mets lore, as they completely altered the season’s (and maybe the franchise’s) trajectory. By the way, just how  smart is Mr. Moneyball, Billy Beane really? While his Oakland team flounders in last place, he can contemplate that in under a year, he traded away both the AL and NL MVPs.  Yes, I know, Cespedes probably won’t win it, but Harper will likely be watching, rather than playing baseball this October.

On a much more somber note, Friday marks the 14th anniversary of the horror that was September 11, 2001. Much water has passed under the bridge since then, but it’s a good opportunity to pause and reflect on the blessings that we do have in this life and to acknowledge the sacrifices of those who put themselves in harm’s way so we can enjoy things like baseball games.

Lets Go Mets!



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.