Browsing Archive April, 2009

Home Plate Seats for Sale 50 Percent Off

Bernie Madoff tickets view from behind home plate at the Mets Citi FieldIf Bernie made off with your money, you still have a chance to make off with his tickets.

The estate of Bernie Madoff is making available, the highly coveted “Delta Club Platinum” digs resting directly behind home plate — at 50% off the face value. These tickets and other interesting items will be auctioned off on eBay, according to the Madoff Trustee Site (which may or may not be legit, but does it matter? Even at half off, I can’t afford those tickets!).

According to documents on that site, the ORIGINAL Madoff tickets — Delta Club Platinum, Section 16, Row 2, Seats 5 and 6 — which have a face value of $80,190.00, are NOT the ones that will go up for sale. Instead, the Estate and the Mets arranged to offer seats in the less-expensive Delta Club Gold section, face value of $60,750.00 (also included: Delta SkyClub access and a parking pass).

Wow, that $20,000 difference sealed the deal for me … where do I bid?

Interestingly, the higher-priced tickets, if sold by the Estate, would not include the ability to buy postseason tickets — apparently neither that right, nor the right to renew, could legally be transferred. But since the Mets are now involved, the Gold seats will come with the rights to purchase playoff tickets, and the option to renew the seats for 2010 and beyond.

The auction will be held on eBay, and the opening bid for the tickets will be one-half the face value, presumably around thirty grand.

Now, if you’re like me and can’t convince your wife to sell your home to put in a bid, you still have the option to buy single-game tickets for the month of April, through an online broker yet to be determined. So all you have to do now is convince your spouse to sell the car (luckily, the number 7 train still goes to the ballpark).

Hat tip to Eli from Brooklyn of Mets Underground for unearthing the “official” site.

By chance if you purchase these tickets as a result of finding out about their availability through this site, I’d appreciate you taking me along to a game or two as a thank-you.

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Saturday’s Game Blacked Out

Unless you are in Miami this weekend, you won’t be able to watch the first hour of the Mets-Marlins game on Saturday.

That’s because the Marlins have scheduled a start time of 6:10 PM, to accommodate a post-game concert. Why is this an issue? Because FOX has dibs on all MLB broadcasts from 4pm to 7pm on every Saturday during the season, and the game won’t be carried by FOX. (If you’re interested, FOX will be showing the Red Sox-Angels, White Sox-Twins, and Cardinals-Astros.) There is no indication from FOX that they will be showing the first hour of the Mets-Marlins game, nor that they are ready to waive their rights to the New York market from 6 PM – 7 PM on Saturday night.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

As of now, SNY will broadcast the game, but won’t be able to do so until 7 PM — likely around the fourth inning. Further, the blackout covers MLB.com as well, so don’t try watching it on your computer. Unless the Marlins change the start time, your only chance to see the game in its entirety will be by traveling to Florida and buying a ticket. But hey, the Fish are throwing in a concert as well, so there’s that.

Genius.

Some day, someone is going to have to explain to me the logic behind many of these blackout restrictions. In particular, why local games are blacked out on MLB.com.

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Actually, Scott, I Had Forgotten

Scott Schoeneweis pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks

Where They Are Now: Scott Schoeneweis

This is a new category of posts, not to be confused with “Where Are They Now”. In this section, we’ll cover the news of former Mets who are still playing baseball, but not in Queens.

To kick off the new feature, we spotlight Scott Schoeneweis, who is now hurling in Arizona. And from the below quotes from MLB.com (hat tip to Walnutz), he’s hurling more than baseballs.

Despite what appear to be solid numbers last year — Schoeneweis put up a 3.32 ERA in 73 games and gave up 55 hits in 56 2/3 innings — he knows he’ll be most remembered for one thing.

“I gave up a homer to [Florida Marlins utilityman] Wes Helms in a 2-2 tie on the last game of the season, and we went on to lose the game,” Schoeneweis says. “It was a solo homer. It wasn’t like I had a four-run lead and gave up a grand slam.

“And I had pitched pretty well in four or five outings earlier that week. But that’s not what gets remembered. What gets remembered is that I blew it and the bullpen blew it, but the fact of the matter is that the team lost.

“Guys didn’t get hits in key situations. Other mistakes were made. I mean, did we as a bullpen contribute to what happened? Of course. But was it all our fault? No.”

Funny, Scott, but I actually HADN’T remembered that you were the one who gave up the homer to Wes Helms in that fateful final game. It must’ve gotten lost in my memory with all the other big hits you gave up in your two years with the Mets.

No, the thing I remember you for most is the idiocy of Omar Minaya to let Chad Bradford leave for Baltimore because three years was too long a deal for an effective middle reliever, yet it wasn’t too long to wrap up a rundown LOOGY. I also remember:

– the Mets “physical” that you passed to gain that ridiculous contract, despite suffering from a bad leg
– your innate ability to clear the bases / allow inherited runners to score
– the fastball that fell to 88 MPH from 94 MPH
– the irony of your fastball’s demise coinciding with MLB’s toughened PEDs testing
– the 15 homeruns you allowed in 115 innings in 2007-2008
– your perfectly tailored uniform, and nicely manicured hands

No worries, Scott, we’ve forgotten that one homer from game 162 of 2008. You are and will be most remembered for the fleecing you pulled on Minaya, and the consistent disappointment you delivered to Mets fans.

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Mets Game 1: Win Over Reds

Mets 2 Reds 1

Everything went EXACTLY according to plan, as the Mets edged the Reds 2-1 in the 2009 opener.

Johan Santana pitched 5 innings of shutout ball before allowing a run in the sixth and handing the ball to new middleman Sean Green. Green retired all four batters he faced to bridge the gap to J.J. Putz, who held the Reds scoreless in setting up the save for Francisco Rodriguez.

Danny Murphy blasted a solo homer in the fifth off a tiring Aaron Harang, who had mystified the Mets until running out of gas around pitch #95. He looks to be in pretty good shape compared to last year, and if he can improve his stamina will be a tough man to topple later in the year. Glad he’s in the NL Central.

Murphy drove in the Mets’ second run as well with a bases-loaded groundout in the sixth.

Game Notes

Mets put a number of runners on base early in the game, but couldn’t move them around. I’ll chalk it up to a combination of the weather and Harang hanging tough.

The first at-bats of Luis Castillo and Danny Murphy exemplified why these two are misplaced in this particular lineup. In the first inning, after Jose Reyes singled and stole second, Murphy’s job was to pull the ball and get Reyes to third base. Instead, he fisted a ball to shortstop. Luckily, Reyes still made it to third but the point is that Murphy — despite the homerun he hit in the fifth — is not a pull hitter. In the second frame, Luis Castillo came to bat in an RBI situation with one out and struck out, looking.

We’ve heard a hundred times that Jerry Manuel has had conversations with Castillo, telling him he needs to be more aggressive at the plate — particularly now that he’s down at the bottom of the lineup and will have more RBI opportunities. But does it really make sense to ask a guy to change the hitting approach he’s taken for the last 15 or so years? Castillo is a rare breed: a throwback #2 hitter who takes pitches, bunts well, and punches the ball. In the #8 spot, with the pitcher behind him, he’ll almost never bunt, and will never use his #2 skills with Brian Schneider ahead of him. But hey, if Jerry Manuel wants to keep pounding that square peg into a round hole, be my guest.

The Reds played a sloppy outfield, dropping several balls and letting several catchable balls drop. Perhaps it had something to do with the wet conditions, and compounded by the high number of fly balls hit by the Mets.

Though Santana only allowed one hit in his first five innings, he did walk four in his 5 2/3, which is too many. He also had some trouble putting away hitters once he got to two strikes. I think he threw too many sliders, and wonder if his pitch selection had anything to do with the cold and wet conditions — perhaps he couldn’t get a good changeup grip on the ball?

Putz threw a lot of pitches in the eighth — 22 to be exact. Good thing tomorrow is a day off.

Ryan Church is currently the team’s leading hitter, and tied for the team lead in stolen bases. MVP!

Next Game

The Mets and Reds take the day off tomorrow and come back to play again in Cincinnati on Wednesday. Mike Pelfrey takes the mound against Edinson Volquez. Let’s hope it’s warmer and drier.

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Wild Mets Predictions

The National League predictions have been posted, so now it’s time for New York Mets – specific prophecies. You may like some of them, you’ll likely hate a few of them, and nearly all of them are unlikely to occur. But what the heck, let’s go …

The key to the Mets’ success this year will be tied to health and the production of Carlos Delgado.

Jose Reyes will hit 25 triples, 17 of which will come at home in Citi Field.

Johan Santana will win 21 games, and take the Cy Young.

John Maine will struggle so mightily in the first half that he will be sent to the minors to work out issues with his mechanics and command.

Livan Hernandez will be the tortoise and Oliver Perez the hare, and Livan will quietly emerge as the Mets #3 starter by year’s end, posting 13 victories.

Maine and Perez will combine for less than 20 wins.

Darren O’Day and Sean Green will combine for 20 decisions in middle relief.

Mike Pelfrey will take a no-hitter into the 9th inning, but settle for a one-hit shutout.

Tim Redding will throw less than 50 innings all season.

Luis Castillo will receive consideration for the All-Star Game, and finish the year with a .295 AVG., .375 OBP, and 28 SB.

Danny Murphy will have trouble keeping his average above .250 in the first six weeks of the season, and Gary Sheffield will take over as the starting leftfielder.

Sheffield will be a key run producer for the Mets, and finish fourth on the team in RBI.

Very few “Putz” jerseys will be sold by the Mets, for obvious reasons.

Not one “Shawn Green” jersey will be sold to a patron thinking it’s a “Sean Green” jersey.

Jeremy Reed will substitute for a disabled starter at some point in the season and go on a tear, making fans almost forget Endy Chavez.

Reese Havens will rocket through the Mets’ minor league system, and be considered for a September call-up.

Ryan Church will be traded to the Rockies.

Aaron Heilman will struggle against the Mets, but will otherwise succeed in Chicago. He’ll get a few starts when Rich Harden goes down and prompt the Cubs to move Sean Marshall back to the bullpen.

The Mets’ lack of a second LOOGY will be a major point of concern, and trade rumors will swirl around the names Eddie Guardado, Matt Thornton, and Alan Embree. The Mets will wind up with Bobby Seay, against whom lefties hit .303 lifetime.

The Mets will have a strong record aoutside the division, but will be only a few games above .500 against NL East teams.

Jose Valentin will make it back to the 25-man roster before the end of the season.

Bobby Ojeda will start doing commercials for the Hair Club for Men.

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National League Predictions

Everyone else is making predictions, so why not MetsToday? We’ll focus on the National League, since that remains the only professional league still playing baseball, and not some twisted variation of the sport.

Cy Young Award

Obvious Candidates: Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt, , Brandon Webb, Tim Lincecum, Jake Peavy, Dan Haren, Cole Hamels, Carlos Zambrano.

Sleepers: Edinson Volquez, Chad Billingsley, Aaron Cook, Ricky Nolasco.

Prediction: Santana

If Santana remains healthy, he should pitch through the 7th inning at least 25 times this year. If his one-two finishing punch of J.J. Putz and Frankie Rodriguez also remains healthy, Johan could win 20 of those 25, if not more.

Should any of those three suffer a significant injury, my money is on Volquez.

MVP


Obvious candidates:
Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Beltran, David Wright.

Sleepers:
Hanley Ramirez, Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Lance Berkman, Adrian Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Nate McLouth.

Prediction: This one’s too hard, you can’t really choose an MVP without knowing what teams are in the playoffs. I’m going to go on a limb and give it to Votto, who is poised for a breakout year.

Rookie of the Year


Candidates:
Jason Motte, Colby Rasmus, Jordan Schafer, Jordan Zimmerman

Prediction:
My research on the rookies is awful. I’m going to go with Motte, who could save 25+ games for the Cardinals. After Motte I like Schafer, who is slated to start in centerfield for the Braves.

Batting Title

Another tough one. I don’t see Chipper Jones hitting .364 again, though I wouldn’t be stunned to see Pujols hit .350 again. In fact, with Matt Holliday out of the league, this might be Pujols’ best chance for a triple crown. Someone’s going to come out of nowhere and surprise us all, and I say it’s going to be James Loney.

Saves Leader

Can Francisco Rodriguez save 60 games again? Doubtful — he may not get that many opportunities in the competitive NL East. I’m betting on a neck-and-neck race between Jose Valverde and the “other” Francisco Cordero, of Cincinnati.

NL West Champion: Arizona Diamondbacks

The Dodgers still have Manny, but they don’t have Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, nor Takashi Saito. After Chad Billingsley, the pitching staff looks questionable — even Jonathan Broxton looks like he might take a step back. I like the pitching of the Giants and the Diamondbacks, and think Arizona will have a little more offense and the better bullpen.

NL Central Champion: Chicago Cubs

On paper, the Cubs look to be the class of the NL, with great pitching depth and plenty of offense. However, they won’t run away with the division. I’m betting that the Reds have a surprising season, and that the Pirates climb out of the basement, while Houston and Milwaukee fight for last place.

NL East Champion: ?

This one’s too close to home. If I choose the Mets, I’m supposed to because this is a Mets blog. If I don’t choose the Mets, you wonder how I can’t since this is a Mets blog. So I’ll say this: the NL East is going to once again be a dogfight, and go down to the last weeks of the season. Further, neither the Marlins nor the Nationals will be pushovers in ’09, and the Braves won’t be left behind when it gets down to the wire. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if four games or less separates the Phillies, Mets, Braves, and Marlins when it’s all said and done. The Wild Card also will come from the East.

Agree or disagree with anything? Comment away!

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Final Tuneup vs. Red Sox

Oliver Perez

Ollie was an absolute disaster from pitch one. Dan Warthen and Jerry Manuel can bitch at him all they want about being in shape and earning his keep, but the bottom line is that there is a mechanical issue preventing him from throwing strikes. Ron Darling suggested that Ollie’s front shoulder was opening too early, but that’s a symptom, not a cause. The SNY camera angles stink if you want to analyze a pitcher’s mechanics, so I can’t figure out what’s going on — I just can see something’s not right. My best guess is that Ollie’s stride is too short (similar to John Maine’s issue earlier this spring). I think he’s landing too early and not giving his arm a chance to catch up, so his release point is too early, leaving the ball up and away to RH hitters. He threw 10 of his first 12 fastballs to that exact spot, yet no one — not Brian Schneider, not Warthen — made a trip to the mound until the bases were loaded. Too late, fellas!

Nelson Figueroa

Some of you have disagreed with me on Figgy vs. Parnell, but today’s outing by Ollie is exactly the reason I prefer a coolheaded veteran long man such as Nelson waiting in the bullpen. It makes all the more sense when you consider that neither Perez nor John Maine are physically ready to start the season, and each may have early exits among their first few starts.

John Maine

Maine looked OK in his tune-up, with sporadic command issues and velocity a little lower than we’d like to see. It may take him until May to get to 100%.

Danny Murphy

On the radio broadcast, Howie Rose compared Murphy to Edgardo Alfonzo, and Wayne Hagin compared him to Will Clark. So, let’s see … Wade Boggs, Fonzie, Clark, Don Mattingly … when is someone going to compare Murphy to Babe Ruth? How about we just let this kid be himself, whomever that is. It’s not fair to put all this pressure on a player who will most likely be a .275 -.285 hitter — which would be a disappointment if you’re expecting Will Clark numbers but is perfectly fine for his role in the Mets’ lineup in 2009.

Marlon Anderson

Marlon started the game in centerfield. Hmm … why? Was it because the plan is to make Marlon the backup centerfielder and late-inning defensive replacement, and Jeremy Reed will be sent down to make room for Gary Sheffield? There is no other explanation, because as long as Reed is on the roster, Anderson would never play center. If you want to experiment with a spot for Marlon to expand his versatility, put him at 2B, where he’s played nearly 700 big-league games but only twice in the last two years. I’d much rather see Marlon spell Castillo at 2B once in a while than centerfield, where he has no range, no arm, and no experience.

Final Word

Not the most inspiring tune-up, so we’ll glaze over it and keep Friday night’s contest fresh in our minds. The real games begin on Monday, in Cincinnati, against a Reds team I think will surprise some people. Buckle up, we have 162 games to go!

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Breaking News: Mets Sign Sheffield

According to SI.com, the Mets have signed Gary Sheffield. It is believed the contract will be for the league minimum $400,000 – the Tigers would presumably pay the rest of Sheffield’s contract:

Sheffield chose the Mets over the Phillies and Reds because he believes he’ll get more playing time with the Mets — although Mets people have said no promises have been made.

He’s expected to be mainly a right-handed pinch hitter off the bench and occasionally spell Ryan Church in right field. Mets people also hope the added competition might spur Church, who struggled in the second half last year.

Let’s see…

  • Aging Slugger… Check
  • Bad Attitude… Check
  • Right Handed Power Bat in the Outfield… Check

It looks like the only thing holding back the Mets from signing Manny Ramirez was a few million dollars.

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