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.
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After the Champagne: Winter Doings of Past Met Champions

This offseason has just about had it all: a big trade, two free agent signings and the return of a trio of popular incumbents. A player wearing a Mets hat is going to the Hall of Fame. While transaction-wise, the Mets have had busier, splashier off seasons, unlike those other winters, they weren’t coming off a World Series berth. Was this year busier than normal for a World Series Mets team? How did previous Met front offices behave coming off previous trips to the fall classic? Here’s a hint: not very well.

Let’s take a look.

Winter 1969-1970

• Mets trade Amos Otis to Kansas City for Joe Foy
• Mets acquire Ray Sadecki and Dave Marshall for a pair of journeymen
• World Series hero JC Martin is traded to Chicago

Reaction: Ugh. The Otis trade would haunt the Mets for the next decade. As was outlined way back here, the Mets nearly swapped Otis and Nolan Ryan to Atlanta for Joe Torre the year before. Old-timers such as myself can recall the days when third base was a black hole for the franchise. Foy was another failed attempt to fill it and it cost them, although not as dearly as their next attempt would. Marshall logged three seasons for the Mets as a part time outfielder. Sadecki lasted five seasons before being traded for Torre in 1974.

Winter 1973-74
• Mets trade P Jim McAndrew to San Diego
• Mets sell the contract of P Buzz Capra to the Atlanta Braves

Reaction: If there ever was a time to re-tool, the winter after a veteran team goes 82-80 is it. However despite their pedestrian regular season record, the Mets had surprised everyone by getting to Game Seven of the 73 World Series (remember this was in the pre-wild card era). The brain trust decided instead to keep the team essentially intact. This proved to be the wrong decision, but they almost made an even bigger blunder. McAndrew’s career was over by this point, but Capra, finally able to get a regular turn in the rotation, had a spectacular season for the Braves in 1974. He led the NL in ERA. Injuries ruined his career from then on however.

Winter 1986-87
• Mets trade Kevin Mitchell and two other outfielders to San Diego for Kevin McReynolds and P Gene Walter
• World Series hero Ray Knight signs with Baltimore
• Mets trade catcher Ed Hearn to Kansas City for David Cone

Reaction: The hindsight on both trades is far different than the immediate reaction. Most pundits liked the McReynolds acquisition as Mitchell was seen as a utility player. The Cone trade, made right before spring training ended, was overshadowed by Doc Gooden’s entry into rehab. Many saw it as risky, since Hearn had proven to be a capable backup catcher. McReynolds, despite being a solid player, never quite lived up to his expectations, a situation made worse when Mitchell won the MVP for the Giants two years later. Cone had a remarkable career that included stops with both New York teams, which was spilt by a return trip to Kansas City and a stint in Toronto. Without Knight and Mitchell, the post-86 Mets lost some of their swagger. It showed.

Winter 2000-01
• Colorado signs P Mike Hampton (Mets draft David Wright with the compensation pick. Mets also lose SP Bobby Jones to the Padres.
• In one day (December 11), Mets sign Ps Kevin Appier and Steve Trachsel OF Tsuyoshi Shingo (from Japan) and trade Bubba Trammel to San Diego for P Donne Wall.
Endy Chavez is moved for the first time, to KC for a minor leaguer.

Reaction: This was the offseason the Mets passed on Alex Rodriguez, who really, really, really wanted to come here. Interesting to think how much different baseball history might have been for both the Mets and the Yanks if Fred had actually opened his wallet and paid the man. Trachsel hung around long enough to get lit up in Game 3 of the ill-fated 2006 NLCS against the Cardinals. Endy would return for one of the biggest moments in Mets history, although that memory will always be bittersweet.

Right now, Mets GM Sandy Alderson is riding a wave of popularity. Past transgressions are forgotten and even some of his harshest critics have praised his planning and his deal making. Soon comes the hard part: the start of the 2016 season and the task of taking the ultimate next step. With one exception, the Mets have never put together back-to-back playoff seasons. Now, it’s World Series or bust; a tall task for anyone.

So, here’s hoping for a re-run of this article next January with some additional (and happier) content.


The Century Mark?

Baseball is a funny game.

Less than two years ago, I wrote this post that predicted the end of the NY Mets franchise. Now incredibly, I am beginning to wonder how they could possibly not win 100 games in 2016.

The team has sandwiched a memorable post season between a Trade Deadline for the Ages and an Offseason for the Ages, the results being a team that, on paper at least, is probably better than last year’s World Series team and, the argument could be made, as deep as those teams that won 408 games between 1985 and 1988. Yes, I went there.

So, as the rest of Bethlehem hunkers down during Winter Storm Jonas (when did they start naming snowstorms?) my thoughts are turning to blue skies, green grass, milder weather and 100 regular season wins. There is much to support this notion. While I have been on an optimistic bent since the beginning of last year, I’ll wager that the events of the last 72 or so hours have propelled more than just my optimism. Expect this to be merely the first in a series of posts/articles with the same sentiment. There are plenty of good reasons why.

The 2016 Mets will begin Spring Training with perhaps 23 spots on the OD roster sown up. That’s nothing new, but unlike the not too distant past when the likely roster included names like Baxter, Gee, Nickeas, Quintanilla or Bautista, a collection of AAAA roster filler complimented by washed up (although we didn’t know it) names like Bay or Santana or Byrdak, this team has names that not only have a bright future, but a present that looks really good as well. The recent signings of Antonio Bastardo and most importantly, Yoenis Cespedes means that players such as Travis d’Arnaud, Michael Conforto and Hansel Robles aren’t being asked to fill shoes that might still be too big for them. The result is a long, deep lineup, a bench that includes several major leaguers (a drastic departure from even 6 months ago) and a reliable bullpen that should protect the leads the starters give them. Check out Bastardo’s numbers against Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman. And just in case, there are a few soon-to-be major league ready players in AAA that can either fill a temporary gap, or be traded for help.

And…it appears that at least a half dozen National League teams are already packing it in. The Mets have 19 games against Altanta and Philadelphia, seven against the Brewers and the Rockies and six against Cincinnati. They get the AL Central this year, so in addition to the Royals, they get the Tigers and the White Sox, although he former may be much improved. They feasted on bad teams and bad pitching last year and appear poised to do more damage again this year. Plus, there must be something dreadfully wrong in that National’s clubhouse.

Maybe it’s the record snowfall or the cabin fever, but I can’t believe I just typed those last five paragraphs! Like the rest of the Mets Today staff, I tend to take an iconoclastic view of the team’s doings, so I probably shouldn’t be shocked if this team stumbles and ends up as just another disappointment. Injuries, especially to young arms, would definitely short circuit this expected romp to the division title. Miami could get Cy Young and MVP seasons from Fernandez and Giancarlo; or maybe Daniel Murphy helps Harper and Jonathan Papelbon find religion and the Nats Kumbaya their way to the NL East crown.

Because after all,baseball is a funny game.


Happy New Year–Mets 2016 NL East Champs

Finally, the offseason that I envisioned when Sandy Alderson first took over as GM: a lot of smallish moves that incrementally improved the team, while positioning them for the sustained success that Alderson mentioned when he first came on board. If the Twitter-verse and the Blogosphere are any indication however, my opinion is in the definite minority. I guess some fans would rather that they spend a quarter billion dollars on a 30-year old pitcher or a give superstar slugger bucks to a right fielder known more for his defense–and then shift him to center.

And I know, it’s that World Series thingy that the Mets did last October that this offseason pales in comparison to. Still I like the trade for Neil Walker and the free agent signings of Asrubal Cabrera and Alejandro de Aza. I am happy they resigned Jerry Blevins and Bartolo Colon. I think this is just about enough to make the 2016 Mets the first team in their history to successfully defend an Eastern Division crown. Too soon to predict what will happen in the playoffs, but the first order of business is getting there.

So, in no particular order, here’s why I think they will indeed “get there.” This is Part One, Part Two will appear soon.

The starting pitching will be better. A BIG caveat: a season-ending injury to any one of the Mets four young starters and all bets are off. Last year, Mets starters tossed 1,080 innings. Jon Niese and Dillon Gee accounted for 215 of those, nearly one-fifth. The duo pitched to a combined 1.45 WHIP,  surrendering 122 runs, while losing 13 games. Those innings will be covered this year by a combination of Steven Matz, Colon and most likely Rafael Montero and Zack Wheeler. Those four, on paper at least, represent an major upgrade over Niese and Gee. For argument’s sake, lets increase the amount of innings projected by Mets starters in 2016 to 1,100. Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom should once again reach 190 each. Let’s bump Noah Syndergaard and Matz both upwards, to 180 and 150 respectively. That’s a big jump for Matz, as injuries limited his workload last year.  So, project 710 innings pitched from the Mets Big Four.

Colon pitched 194.2 innings last year. The plan is for him to keep the fifth spot warm until Wheeler comes back, but I can see him making several spot starts after Zack returns, either for him or for one of the other arms. Dial Bart’s starting workload down to 175. Let’s only give Wheeler 125 as his wildness prior to surgery was a key factor in limiting his innings. Now we’re at 1,010. That leaves 90 or so innings to Montero or Logan Verrett or someone like Seth Lugo or Sean Gilmartin, much less than the 215 innings entrusted last year to Niese and Gee.

Young regulars can get better. Next to the health of the four young guns, the three/four spots in the order are the biggest issue for the Mets. Curtis Granderson unexpectedly re-invented himself into an effective leadoff hitter last year. In doing so, he relieved the Mets of a long standing hole in their lineup with a player already on the roster.   Ideally, Michael Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud are ready to step up as middle of the order types. Should that occur, it means that they have solved their biggest offseason problem with in-house options. I believe the whispers about Travis taking reps at first base this spring is a clear indication that the Mets are leaning/hoping this way. If (and this is a big if) those two can successfully take the next step together, manager Terry Collins can wrap the rest of a solid, if unspectacular lineup around them and even use the left/right setup we saw during the stretch last year and into the post season.

The Middle Infield is better. I may feel different about him 40 or so games into the season, but right now, I love the Walker addition. He is a definite improvement over Daniel Murphy, a full win share (2.4 vs. 1.4) to be exact. Less exact is that he is playing for a contract this year, which evidence suggests serves as a further motivator on the field. FWIW, Pirates fans in my acquaintance hate this trade. I am less enthused about Cabrera, but he should be a league average, reliable shortstop (again an improvement over last year). This move had to be made as both incumbent Met shortstops suffered broken leg bones this past fall. Both Walker and Cabrera are switch-hitters and reportedly can play other positions, but that’s another story for another post.

The division didn’t improve. The Miami Marlins are probably the most improved team in the division so far with a return to health from Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez. Too bad for them, the rest of their starting pitching is poor. The Nationals remain the biggest threat, but they continue to show signs of being the most dysfunctional team in the division. The really remind me of the post-86 Mets, talented yes, but unable to ever put it all together. Can they expect another season like 2015 out of Bryce Harper? I hate the idea of Daniel Murphy wearing their uniform, but I don’t think Murph is a difference-maker. The Phillies and the Braves appear to be in full rebuild mode. Winning the division is never easy, but the Mets appear to be the most solid of the five teams. And unlike their 2000 NL Champion counterparts these Mets don’t have a dynasty in the same division.

Quietly the Mets have left two roster spots still open. I’m still waiting on two more moves before I publish the rest of this post, but I feel that the described four developments alone put us in a good spot to be watching Met games to at least mid-October and hopefully beyond.

So, how was your first day back at work?


Cespedes: Not Worth It? Are There Alternatives?

Michael Cuddyer‘s sudden retirement was certainly an unexpected development. While it remains to be seen exactly how much money the Mets will be paying him to not play in 2016, it did nevertheless begin rampant speculation among Mets fans (including some in my own household) that the door for re-signing Yoenis Cespedes has suddenly swung open.  The silence from the Mets front office since Cuddyer’s announcement have conjured up memories of off-seasons past, where the Mets sat on the sidelines, signing a reclamation project or two off of the scrap heap while their major league brethren in markets a fraction of the size of theirs walked off with the shiny prizes.

We here at Mets Today were certainly unsparing in our criticism of the Wilpons and Sandy Alderson during this nearly half-decade stretch and while  we admit to a twinge or two of here-we-go-again-itis, we do feel it is very important to take a step back and try to see the bigger picture.

Even using baseball money, which has reached ridiculous proportions, is Cespedes–as great as he was for August and the first half of September, worth a 5 or 6 year, nine-figure deal?  One  of the more interesting developments in baseball this past decade or so has been the arrival of advanced stats and their insertion into discussions such as this one.  One of my favorite “new” metrics is WAR or Wins Above Replacement, a stat I freely admit to not fully understanding, but do trust enough to rely on–oh boy, I just sounded like a political partisan!

Lets start with offensive WAR: in 2015 Cespedes ranked 66th in majors in that category with 2.85 Offensive WAR, this puts him somewhere between solid and good. We will use some Capwell logic/math and combine several articles on the topic and round up the cost per win in WAR @ $7M (told you this was stupid money). So, using WAR only, Cespedes is worth $21M per year. The Mets leader in O-WAR last year was Curtis Granderson with a 3.9 O-WAR, good for 34th in the majors in that category. So at “only” $15M last year, the Mets actually got a bargain in Curtis.

What WAR doesn’t show is just how hot Cespedes got during a key stretch of the season and that he did it in baseball’s biggest market. He hit nearly as many homeruns (17) in just over half the amount of games (57) for the Mets last year as he did for the Tigers (18 and 102 respectively).   I think it is those homers, coupled with a couple of great throws, that most Met fans associate Cespedes with. Here’s an interesting  stat: he didn’t hit a regular season home run after September 14. Was he hurt, or did he just run out of gas?

Emotions aside, is this $21M per year really a prudent use of resources? In the words of Casey Stengel, growing old isn’t so bad, once you consider the alternative. From a team’s perspective however, growing old is pretty bad, especially when you are paying someone for something they did when they where younger. Call this an over-simplification if you must, but most baseball players see a decline in their performance as they age. Did this decline already begin with Cespedes? And, even if he works hard to re-invent himself the way Granderson did, is the money he wants per year (probably until 2022) worth it? I’d have a hard time reconciling myself to that deal, if the Mets make it.

Bottom line: at three years plus an option at $21M per Cespedes might be worth the risk. Unfortunately, some stupid team will bite on his much larger demands. It might take a while, but we eventually will all be glad it wasn’t the Mets.

So, where should the Mets turn next?

Denard Span‘s name has been floated frequently. I like the idea, at least on the surface. But I think that Span, if proven healthy next month, will probably command a contract that the Mets are unwilling to give. Remember, this is the guy who lead the NL in hits just two years ago. Returning to the relative realm of baseball salaries again, Span has been underpaid for his entire career and going on age 32, he probably sees this as his last chance to cash in. I highly doubt he will take less money to come here and platoon with Juan Lagares. If he does come here, then it probably means his hip isn’t fully healed. That presents a whole other set of problems for the Mets.

Here’s a name: Alejandro de Aza. Don’t laugh. He has slashed 274/338/418 vs. right-handed pitchers for his career. Platoon him with Lagares (279/325/427 vs. lefties) and the Mets are solid in center. Not the automatic outs that killed the Mets for the first half of 2015, they can be batted lower in the order and can be switched out late in games as the Mets get into the opponent’s bullpen. He is slightly younger than Span and would, I suspect, take a short-term deal to extend his career.

If money where no object, I would tout the Mets signing Cespedes and giving contracts to Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Jeurys Familia. But since money is an object, they can’t carry all four and give raises to other key components. One or two mainstays of the 2015 will likely need to be sacrificed to the God of Sustained Success. Cespedes is the first to go.

Unfortunately, he won’t be the last.





Winter Meetings Tidbits: Sandy, Zobrist and When Prospects Miss

Before anything else, a tip of the Mets Today cap to Sandy Alderson. Having watched several acquaintances and one very important friend bravely fight and finally succumb to this horrible disease, I can only wish the best for him and his loved ones as he traverses this uncertain path.

On to baseball:

I think my streak of accurate prognostications is about to be shattered as the Mets appear poised to sign Ben Zobrist. I am actually very excited about this possibility as Zobrist fits the Mets on several levels.

For openers, he will improve their middle infield defense. While his stated preference is to play second base, his versatility, including his ability to switch hit, lengthens the Mets lineup and serves as an important insurance policy against injuries (David Wright) and/or inconsistent play from untested youngsters (Dilson Herrera and Michael Conforto). His Marcel Projection of 268/345/413 is acceptable for what is a “win now” move.

His signing would signal that the Mets clearly understand that their window of contention is wide open and that they are willing to invest what is needed to capitalize on this opportunity.  But, this isn’t all just about next year. Because he was traded during the season last July, his signing won’t cost The Mets a draft pick. On the other hand, the Mets stand a very good chance of gaining an extra draft pick for losing Daniel Murphy to free agency, thanks the Qualifying Offer they made him last month.

Yes, extra first round picks doesn’t always equate to major league success–Google the 2008 Mets draft if you dare. Those failiures, along with the loss of 1st round picks in 2006 and 2009, certainly helped speed the end of the Omar Minaya era. If nothing else, keeping their top pick, while adding both a top-notch major leaguer and a compensatory draft pick is a neat little trick. I will miss Murph, but a trade of Murphy for  Zobrist and what should be a valued prospect is one I think most of us would make.  The Mets should be poised to add at least one more high-profile arm to their depleted conveyor belt of roster candidates/trade bait, a tactic consistent with Alderson’s proclaimed goal of sustained success.

Speaking of young arms…two former top prospects Jacob Turner and Drew Pomeranz were on the move again this week. At one time, both where considered top among the top 50 prospects in all of baseball. The latter began his pro career in the Cleveland system after being drafted 5th overall. He has since been traded three times, the first as part of a deal for a rental ace (Ubaldo Jimenez), but most recently in a rummage sale-type swap between two underachieving teams. At age 27, with a 14-24 W/L record, it’s now or never for him. Turner is an even stranger case: he was also a high level prospect in a deadline deal.  Unfortunately for him, it was to Miami, where careers seemingly go to die. He was traded to the Cubs and later selected off waivers by the White Sox, who immediately cut him and then turned around and resigned him. At 24, he probably has more time left than Pomeranz, but his vagabond ways are certainly a contrast to projections as a Top Of the Rotation arm just a few years ago.

Their sagas are a sobering reminder of how frequently can’t miss prospects do miss and just how fortunate the Mets are to have “hit” on Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard all at the same time. That doesn’t even count what they might very well get from Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler,. Here’s stunning thought: barring a record setting raise in arbitration for Harvey, next year the Detroit Tigers probably will pay more for one season from  Mike Pelfrey than the Mets will for all five of those young starters!

While many of us, including me, did lose faith in Alderson during the past 12-18 months, they are in this position in part due to his ability to leverage the hand he was dealt and his ability to stay the course. Oorah, Marine! Let’s Go Mets!



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!