Browsing Archive October, 2009

Twins Win !

gomez-keppelFor the first time since I can remember, I enjoyed watching a baseball game on TV that included color commentary by Ron Darling.

Congrats to the Twins for winning the AL Central, and thanks to both the Twins and the Tigers for treating America to an event that defined the beauty of baseball.

Mets fans may note that Carlos Gomez scored the winning run — you can see him in the picture to the left, being congratulated by the winning pitcher Bobby Keppel.

How ironic (fitting?) that both players began their careers in the New York Mets organization!

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Wilpon: Citi Field Criticism Unfair

Much has been said about the lack of Mets history at Citi Field — not only from here, but throughout the Mets blogosphere. Many fans have felt that the park is an homage to Fred Wilpon’s beloved Brooklyn Dodgers — underscored by the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.

Some may have missed this following tidbit from Mike Francesa’s recent interview with Jeff Wilpon.

Mike Francesa:

“Did feel that any of the criticism you received … from me or anybody else … do you think there was anything — criticism — that was unfair this year or your team?”

Jeff Wilpon:

“Not the team but maybe about the ballpark, because I don’t think we did anything to slap anybody in the face. It wasn’t something where we said ‘gee, we’re going to honor the Brooklyn Dodgers but we’re not gonna honor the Mets or the Mets history’. So I think that is the only thing that was said that was unfair. We’re going to make the changes now to correct it, because it is a proper criticism.”

Huh?

Help me out, folks. Is it possible for UNfair criticism to also be classified as “proper criticism” — in the same sentence?

I suppose it’s good that the issue is being “corrected” — even if it was unfair, or proper, or both(?)

Since this is the way the leader of the franchise addresses and explains issues, it’s now clear why we get similarly confusing doubletalk from the underlings, such as Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel — perhaps everyone in the organization is expected to practice the art of “Wilponspeak”.

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Wilpon, Minaya, Howard Explain Your Pain

In case you missed it yesterday, Mike Francesa hosted Jeff Wilpon, Omar Minaya, and David Howard on his WFAN show. Francesa joked that Howard’s presence was “to be a filibuster”. In truth, it was because he is “the guy” associated with Citi Field, and the homage to the Brooklyn Dodgers was of course the most successful accomplishment of the New York Mets franchise in 2009.

Oh did you mistake “success” for “winning”? No, friend … success is bottom-line profits. And as you will hear in the interview, the Mets “brand” did well in its ability to serve its “customers”. But that should be changing in 2010 — if we are to believe the head honchos of the Mets’ organization.

Jeff Wilpon Part 1

Jeff Wilpon Part 2

Understand that the above links lead to material that may not be suitable for all audiences. For example, they are not for those with a weak stomach, nor for the strong of mind. I also would not listen to these clips if you are suffering from anxiety, depression, or stress disorders.

Some of the things I personally gleaned from the interview …

– Daniel Murphy will not return to the outfield, and he may or may not return as the starting first baseman

– Jeff Wilpon insists that the Mets will continue to have one of the highest payrolls in MLB, and that Omar Minaya has no financial constraints

– Further, Wilpon will not be “slicing payroll”, will be “aggressive” on the market, and his commitment this winter is “to give Omar the resources he needs to put a championship team on the field”

– Neither Minaya nor Wilpon believe the team needs a “rebuilding”, and they plan to use a mix of free agent signings and trades to “fix the holes”

– Minaya’s role and responsibilities as GM will not change

– Citi Field was built so large because Omar Minaya’s philosophy was to build a team around pitching, defense, and speed (hmm … the plans for Citi Field, including the vast dimensions, were unveiled in 1998 — when Minaya was an assistant to Steve Phillips)

– the Mets are going to add “more imagery” and a “Mets Hall of Fame” to placate fans’ complaints that Citi Field is an homage to the Brooklyn Dodgers

Conclusion

The Mets have publicly changed the goal from “putting a winning product on the field” to “putting a championship team on the field”. Wilpon claims that the financial coffers are available to make that happen.

We are going to hold on to these two points in particular as we watch and analyze this winter’s moves.

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Manuel Mystery Tour

Matthew Artus of Always Amazin called the Mets’ multiple press appearances a “curious epilogue to 2009” and included a graphic resembling the cover from the old Beatles’ album “Magical Mystery Tour”. Fitting, and well done, Mr. Artus. (Kids, an “album” was what music was once played on, and “The Beatles” were a popular rock band from the 1960s.)

Artus summed up the mystery with,

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2009 Analysis: Lance Broadway

Early in September, loyal MetsToday reader “The DZA” made a content suggestion:

Seeing as the off season is looking to be more intriguing than the regular – would you perhaps give us a rundown of each player on the Mets as to how you think they have performed, and their subsequent projection (i.e. where they fit in or don’t fit in for the future)?

FYI, The DZA logs in from London — so MetsToday has officially achieved worldwide influence (!).

We’ll begin with the pitching staff, going in alphabetical order — that makes Lance Broadway first.

Lance Broadway

lance-broadway-35
We were treated to only 16 appearances and 30.2 IP of Lance “Off Off” Broadway, so it’s hard to make an intelligent analysis.

After a spectacular college career at Texas Christian U., Broadway was drafted 15th overall in the 2005 by the White Sox and pegged for stardom. However, he was hittable from day one as a pro, and struggled with his control at both the AAA and MLB levels.

Broadway has a sinking fastball with impressive movement down and in to RH hitters, but it rarely gets far above 90 MPH and his command of it was inconsistent as a Met. His attempts at secondary stuff were similarly futile — a cut fastball/slider appeared to be the best of a bad lot.

One positive was his demeanor and composure on the mound; he was professional, competitive, and unflappable — he appears to have the heart of a lion. That can go a long way, as it’s something that few pitchers can develop if it isn’t already part of their makeup.

It’s unlikely that Broadway will one day live up to his billing as a star collegian and #1 pick. At 26 years old, time is running out quickly. To succeed at the MLB level with his high-80s / low 90s velocity, Broadway needs to have pinpoint control AND a plus off-speed pitch. Unfortunately he has displayed neither as a New York Met. That’s not to say he can’t still “figure it out”, and considering the Mets’ lack of depth in regard to pitching at the upper levels of the farm system, they have little choice but to start him in AAA Buffalo in 2010 and hope for the best. It probably makes sense to keep him in the starting rotation as a minor leaguer, so that he can spend more time and innings developing command of his fastball and a secondary pitch. I don’t see his velocity jumping the necessary 5-8 MPH to become a late-inning relief specialist, so his best shot is probably as a 5th starter / long reliever.

If indeed Lance can take the next step in his development, it would make a great story befitting of, um, Broadway (oh, bad one, huh?).

What’s your take on Lance Broadway? Post your analysis and opinion in the comments.

Next up is the immortal Elmer Dessens.

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Hire Wally – Sign the Petition

Over a year ago a petition was started requesting the return Wally Backman to the Mets organization.

The petition is still alive, and now is a good time to sign it if you haven’t already and believe he should be given another chance.

Contrary to popular belief, this petition was not to make Wally the manager of the Mets. All his supporters want is for Backman to be given a shot to work somewhere inside the organization:

We believe his history as a New York Met coupled with his outstanding minor league track record would make him a great fit for a coaching job somewhere in the Mets organization. Do the right thing and give Wally Backman a second chance in affiliated baseball.

Today, Jon Heyman reported that the Mets are considering bringing Wally back:

The team now appears willing to give scrappy fan favorite Wally Backman a second chance to return to baseball in a minor-league job. Backman has technically not been given a new position yet, but he’s been told they’d like to hire him and have invited him for an interview that is expected to be a formality.

That sounds to me like the team could be fishing for public support — otherwise why wouldn’t they have simply hired him and not “leaked” the possibility of hiring him. So, if you think Wally Backman deserves a chance to work with the Mets minor leaguers, it may help to sign the petition.

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Alicea and Alomar Fired

luis-aliceaIn a stunning move that is certain to change the fortunes of the Mets and culture in the clubhouse, first-base coach Luis Alicea and bench coach Sandy Alomar, Sr. were relieved of their duties.

What percentage of Mets fans, do you think, actually knew the name of the team’s first-base coach?

Of the entire coaching staff, those were the last two people I thought would get the ax. But perhaps on further review of the video, we may see that the Mets hitters did a terrible job of rounding the first base bag and getting good leads. And it IS the little things that win and lose ballgames.

In related news, Razor Shines, Dan Warthen, Howard Johnson, and Randy Niemann will all be back in 2010 — though Shines will not return in the same role of third-base coach.

Shame about Alicea — he had finally earned himself a Wikipedia entry.

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Bring Wally Back, Man!

Wouldn’t it be great if the Mets did in fact find it in their heart to bring Wally Backman back into the organization?

Funny that a little over a year ago, this was written on MetsBlog, in reference to a review of Playing for Peanuts:

The show is about Wally Backman’s return to managing in the independent league for the South Georgia Peanuts.

In Adam’s opinion, SNY must be showing this in an effort to soften Backman’s image – while trying to make him a more viable candidate to replace Willie Randolph.

I doubt this very much, actually. SNY is probably just trying to fill content. I mean, it was on today in the middle of the day, which is hardly prime-time viewing, and I was totally unaware it would be on.

Also, for what it’s worth, I have seen no evidence that Backman will ever be considered as manager of this team, seriously. From what i understand, a) Backman torched his bridge from Shea, and it will not be rebuilt – no matter how badly some Mets fans want to see him return, and, b) from what I understand, most all of MLB sees him as a total loose cannon, who, while entertaining, can be very, very unprofessional in a day and age when team’s have way too much money on the line.

I understand why some fans want to make him an icon, or want to believe his passion is a good thing. However, fact is, there are hundreds and hundreds of professional baseball teams and he has been unable to latch on to any of them. I mean, he quit the only job he could get, which was managing an Independent League team. Add these things together, plus consider this record, and I can’t see him back at Shea.

How quickly things change … losing can do that.

Matt Cerrone was right – Backman would not return to Shea. But he didn’t say anything about Citi Field.

Interestingly, the tune changed at MetsBlog over the past few weeks. And today Jon Heyman tweeted that the Mets may be bringing Wally back after all.

Personally, I don’t want to see Wally named manager of the Mets right now. It’s Jerry Manuel’s job through the end of 2010, and the man should be given a chance to show what he can do with a “full stack” of ballplayers from game 1 through game 162. We’ll hope that no injuries occur, every player has a career year, and everyone executes perfect fundamentals and makes good decisions on their own.

Meantime, install Wally somewhere in the minors as a manager of young men, and let’s see what he can do with the talent of the most underrated farm system in baseball.

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