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

This Third Baseman We’re Getting…

…sure sounds a lot like Daniel Murphy!

I know trade rumors and speculation make for interesting copy, but I just don’t see the Mets expending either the talent nor the money to get a significant upgrade at the hot corner. Instead, when Murphy is activated this weekend, the job is probably his for the remainder of David Wright‘s absence. Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson has said he wants someone who can play third and other positions. If you have been watching the Mets this past half decade you have seen Murphy at first, second, third and left. All to varying degrees of success for sure, but Murphy does have the experience, if nothing else, at multiple defensive positions.

In a perfect world, I am sure the Mets would like to


First Place and the Credibility Gap

So we’re in first place, but why aren’t we happy? That’s the question nobody seems able to answer. Opinions vary from “well, that’s Met fans for ya,” to Matthew’s “Just Get Over It” rant earlier today. Last June 5, the Mets where 28-32 and in fourth place. I remember the big jump between 1983 and 1984 and how exciting that was. So why so much gloom?

I think I know why and it’s part statistical analysis and it’s part gut-feel.

So attend…

The Mets have four top-line players, all of them pitchers: Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia and Bartolo Colon. Between them, Harvey, deGrom and Colon have 20 of the Mets 30 wins. They have a 1.19 WHIP in 305 innings, averaging a bit over one walk per 9-innings, while striking out a shade over seven batters over the same span. That is winning baseball. I am beginning to think that if Colon continues to perform at this level, he is worth being brought back for at least another year. I also loved his taking exception to his batting prowess recently in the Wall Street Journal. Colon’s physical characteristics aside, underneath beats the heart of a true warrior. Met history is somewhat light on this type of player.

Familia is in rarefied air right now. His WHIP is a microscopic 0.82 and he is averaging better than a strikeout per inning. Despite several five-out save assignments, he has allowed a grand total of one inherited runner to score on him. Walks are his only blemish, but he currently has the stuff to overcome these mistakes.

These four winning players are the reason the Mets hold a slim lead on the Washington Nationals. But its only four guys, not enough to push the team all the way into October. They will need more help.  Just where that help is going to come from is the reason that I think most observant Met fans are holding their collective breath.

We see the very unlikable, unsympathetic (some would say crooked) owners and a double-speak, mainly do-nothing front office that on occasions has alternated between a mocking and a condescending tone. Neither inspires much confidence and have in fact generated the reverse effect. We remember the recent past, starting in September 2007, which has been the darkest and longest in Met history since the early 1980’s. We have no doubt been influenced by a steady stream of 24/7/365 Mets coverage, most of it extremely negative and have observed that many of the team’s wounds are self-inflicted.

We look at the rest of the roster: yes, Lucas Duda is on the verge of becoming an elite player, if he isn’t already there. But, Juan Lagares is a gold glover who doesn’t hit and Wilmer Flores is a potential silver slugger who doesn’t field. Travis d’Arnaud can’t stay healthy and the more cautious among us are not ready to anoint Noah Syndergaard as the next anything until he pitches several more times through the rotation. These are the “potential guys,” each demonstrating some degree of elevated performance, just not consistently or over an extended period of time.

Then, we watch as Curtis Granderson, Michael Cuddyer, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee continue to underperform. None of these four belong on a team that considers itself a contender, let alone inserted into key roles. The first two are those albatross signings that perhaps a less hubris-driven front office would be looking to move on from. The latter two are symbolic of the sclerotic inactivity (indecision?) that has plagued the Mets since the Sandy Alderson Era began.

Worst of all, most of us already see the last scene in this David Wright tragedy: A tearful retirement ceremony sometime in the middle of 2017, when this all-time great finally hangs them up.

What we sense coming is a missed opportunity. The Nationals are staggering a bit and the rest of the division isn’t as good as the Mets are, at least on paper. A bold move is needed now. I can’t stand Alderson telling us that trades aren’t made at this time of the season. That is untrue, just ask Mark Trumbo. Do something to help this team make the next level, bring up Steven Matz and waive an ineffective starter. Hell, bring up Michael Conforto and banish an underperforming outfielder. Get Duda some protection. Add some speed. Trade for Wright’s replacement. Just do something to improve the team and do it now.

Instead, it feels as this is just another stage of the con: move the goal posts, using an 84-85 win season as the springboard for selling tickets for the upcoming 2016 season. Meanwhile, cut as much fat as possible away from the payroll. We came oh so close in 2015, if only those injuries, etc. hadn’t occurred, they’ll say, but this year will be better and you’ll be glad you are there to see it.

There is a major credibility gap between the people that run the team and a large contingent of the fanbase. Most of the damage can be laid at the feet of Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons. A hot start (followed by some pretty uneven play since then) just isn’t enough to repair this breach. The next few weeks will be very telling on just how committed they are to winning as opposed to just taking our money.


Jon Niese: I Went Back To Ohio…

Well, Part One of my envisioned decline of the Mets this season has come to fruition, a little ahead of time. ICYMI, I predicted them out of first place by Memorial Day, below 500 by Father’s Day and in search of a new manager by Independence Day.

Forget the Tulo and Cub rumors. The Mets aren’t trading any of their young aces (a concept I embrace). Those Dodgers rumors may generate website clicks, but there is no one in that organization that can really help the Mets the way my deal will. I propose instead that the Mets swap Jon Niese, Matt Reynolds and cash the Cincinnati Reds for shortstop Zack Cozart.

Niese is from Defiance, Ohio, closer to Cleveland but still only a two-hour drive to Cincinnati. Call it a homecoming, but call it what it really is: the Mets paying a ransom to unload an unwanted ballplayer into a place where he just might turn it around. Reynolds gets his chance at short and the cash helps offset the Reds payroll increase. I would think half of Niese’s 2016 salary plus the 2017 buyout are good starting places. The Reds are facing a long uphill slog the next few years in the stacked NL Central. This deal potentially makes them better, both now and in the future.

Cozart is no superstar and he may not even be the long-term answer at short. But…he is a bona-fide big league shortstop and he is having the best year of his career to date swinging the bat. He immediately makes their up the middle defense stronger and he lengthens the batting order somewhat, addressing two needs. This is the type of move that a contending team makes. There could be an interesting domino effect throughout the rest of the system as a result of this move.

Steven Matz gets called up from Vegas, replacing Niese. To quote the immortal Stan Lee: ‘nuff said.

Wilmer Flores moves to second base. GM Sandy Alderson can announce that the job is Flores’ for the remainder of the season. We all get to see, once and for all, if Flores’ bat plays in the majors.

• With Reynolds gone, Gavin Cecchini gets the call to Las Vegas, forming the potential keystone combo of the future with second baseman Dilson Herrera. This is kinda what the Mets did in the early ‘80’s with Wally Backman and Rafael Santana. They suffered through the 1983-84 seasons with several disposable middle infielders while Backman and Santana percolated in AAA or the big league bench. In 1985, the Mets swept the other guys aside and permanently installed those two. The rest is history. The salaries of Cozart and Flores make them similarly disposable if they don’t produce.

Daniel Murphy gets traded, somewhere, anywhere. I am officially off the Murphy train. Way back in the late 1970’s Howard Cosell described then-Met outfielder Steve Henderson as “ a half ballplayer” and stated “you don’t win pennants with half-ballplayers.” Cosell’s description of Hendu fits Murphy. And unfortunately, the half of Murphy that was productive, his bat, has cooled off considerably.

BTW—tomorrow is the anniversary of the Mike Piazza trade. A deal my nephew will never let me forget actually happened. Big trades do actually happen in May.


Punchless Mets are Fading Fast

Over 25 years ago, I purchased my first house, a 2-bedroom row home in Allentown, PA. I was assured that this was a fine investment, one that would pay off handsomely in just a few years. Instead, the post-industrial, socio-economic decline that has plagued many American cities descended upon Allentown and put my investment under water. Unable to sell and unwilling to start a family in this environment, I became a landlord. Instead of hiring a property manager, I did the repairs myself. More accurately, I put off doing the repairs myself until it was no longer advisable to do so!

One of the issues was mold in the bathroom. I thought I could just paint over it, but in a short amount of time, my beautiful new paint faded and was pock marked with the same old mold. Repeated paintings did no good and eventually I had to tear out huge slices of the shower walls and rebuild.

The Mets fast start to the season and their glittering new pitching arms reminds me of that situation. For quite some time (including the second half of last year and the entire offseason), it was very apparent that


Game Recap: The Makeover Begins?

The Washington Nationals came to town on Thursday night and punched the Mets right in the mouth, serving notice to our heroes that the Eastern Division is far from won. It was also the Mets’ sixth loss in their last eight games, which has taken much of the shine off their recent 11-game winning streak.

To the Mets credit, they have taken action, calling up Dilson Herrera from Las Vegas and filtering through the media that Daniel Murphy is moving over to third, at least until David Wright returns. On one hand it is correct to state that injuries have finally caught up to the Mets and they are adjusting accordingly. But on the other hand, it is also correct to state that the makeover mentioned here earlier has begun.

One assumes Herrera is up here to play and that if he hits well enough he will stay in the lineup after Wright returns. This relegates Murphy to the 10th man role, a kind of 2015 version of Mark DeRosa, which I think is Murph’s ultimate ceiling. I feel bad for Daniel as this development is likely to cost him millions of dollars on the free agent market next winter, providing there is a team that would have been willing to give him a long-term deal. As it stands now, he is more likely to get a much lower set of offers.

Wilmer Flores’ error last night killed the Mets. Otherwise Jacob deGrom (who has pitched poorly for the second consecutive outing) would have been out of the inning unscathed. Instead, Washington put a three-spot in the board and were off and flying. The boo-birds quickly descended on Flores, which is a particularly bad sign. Flores probably has a week left to turn it around. I wonder if GM Sandy Alderson has had any conversations with his counterparts in Texas or Milwaukee about shortstop help in the event the white flag goes up early in either city.

Herrera is probably only the first farmhand from Vegas on his way here. Steven Matz absolutely dominated AAA Reno again on Thursday and looks to be ready. Jon Niese’s stinker on Sunday in Yankee Stadium was very disturbing and Matz could be here soon to replace Niese or Dillon Gee. A bit more of a longshot, but Michael Conforto has certainly looked great in Single-A. Normally, it’s a long way to the majors from there, but Conforto is a college hitter and there are plenty of examples of this type moving quickly through somebody’s system. Maybe Conforto gets a few weeks in Double-A first.

The past week has had me thinking that the Mets are frauds. They haven’t buried the Nationals and they haven’t even won the city back from the Yanks. They have in fact, looked very much like the Same Old Mets recently as the momentum of last month is quickly dissipating. It is heartening to see them making some effort to stem the tide.

What do you think? Time to bail on Flores? Will Alderson get another shortstop? Should they move Gee or Niese out of the rotation and replace him with Matz? Already thinking about football? Sound off below.


Mets Today, Gone Tomorrow?

Author’s note: most of this post was written before Monday’s game. Kudos to Murph and Gee on their heroics. But it was only one game…

1984 will probably always be my favorite non-playoff Mets season. After seven years of failure, the team was very much fun to watch again and many now-legends in Met lore made their full-season debuts. Lost somewhat in obscurity however, is the re-tooling the Mets did in-season in 1984, cutting ties quickly with veteran players such as Dick Tidrow and Mike Torrez, as well as long-time Met Craig Swan well before the All-Star game. The team also relegated veterans Ron Hodges and Jerry Martin to the end of the bench, more content to give newer, fresher, faces a turn. I see a lot of 1984 on this year’s edition, including the fact that these Mets roster a few players whose time in New York has passed.

Exhibit #1 is Daniel Murphy. From 2009 until now, Murph was the quintessential good player on a bad team, kinda this era’s version of John Stearns. Both are the hard-nosed gung-ho types that kept horrific teams from losing 110 games. Stearns was “The Dude” of those early 1980’s teams; he broke Dave Parker’s cheekbone, tackled the Atlanta Braves’ outrageously un-PC mascot and set an NL record for stolen bases by a catcher. But he never hit enough (career 259/341/375 slash line) or fielded well enough to become a true star. His All-Star nominations, like Murphy’s last year, were mainly due to the fact that the Mets had to have some representation at the Midsummer Classic. Injuries ended John’s career and he is mainly forgotten as a Met, which is a real shame.

Murphy, while lacking Stearns’ combustibility, is a better hitter, but doesn’t hit enough to overcome the other holes in his game. This was OK for a team treading water (or sinking), but for a team poised to take the next step, Murphy is eminently replaceable. And the Mets have just the replacement on hand: second baseman Dilson Herrera is tearing up the PCL, a year after he tore up the Eastern League. Herrera has out-slashed Murphy the past two seasons and is a better fielder and a faster runner. I also think Murphy is nursing an injured hammy, which the team is trying to keep quiet. If they are unwilling to cut Murphy loose entirely, or trade him for some Low-A types, perhaps the Mets could DL Murph for 15 days and give Herrera a chance to Wally Pipp him.

Second on the list is Dillon Gee. The Mets looked smart at the beginning of the year for keeping Gee after Zack Wheeler went down. Despite the reprieve, Dillon has looked much like the guy he has always been: a cheap fill in on a bad team, but not a rotation arm on a team that expects to contend. Could you see Gee starting a playoff game? Me neither. Like Herrera, the Mets have such a much better option in lefty Steven Matz. You thought I was going to say Noah Syndergaard, no? Matz seems far more polished than “Thor” and looks ready to contribute now. I am starting to have my doubts about Syndergaard, on both sides of his right shoulder.

This next one pains me because we grew up in the same town, but Anthony Recker has become another relic and is most likely the first one on this list to go; which should be about the same time that Travis d’Arnaud returns from the DL. Unless the Mets feel that Kevin Plawecki is better served by getting more playing time in Vegas, I think the former Rough Rider is headed for the waiver wire. I have to give kudos to little ol’ Catasauqua for a moment: two major leaguers (Pat Kelly is the other one) in the last 30 years. Much more expansive programs in this region are still waiting for their first one.

Ruben Tejada and Bobby Parnell are two other Mets who should be renting, not buying, but they are more likely to stick through the season than the other three. The bad news for them, but good news for the Mets (and all of us) is that finally there are upgrades, instead of stopgaps available.

So what do you think? Time for Herrera and Matz? Keep or dump Murphy? Remember Dick Tidrow as a Met? Sound off below.


Out-of-this-World Streak Reaches Nine

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

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

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

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

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