Browsing Archive January, 2012

Blog Roundup: Your Escape from Super Bowl Hype

Nothing too Earth-shattering happening in the world of the Mets.  Perhaps it’s better that way.  Whenever a big story breaks lately, it’s usually not good.  But if you’re ready to take a slight break from endless Super Bowl coverage to get caught up with the boys from Queens, then you’ve come to the right place.

Take it away, Blogs:

  • Rising Apple relays the news that Taylor Buchholz will sit out the 2012 season, while he continues his battle with severe depression.  We at Mets Today wish him the best of luck.
  • Mack’s Mets has an analysis of the new Mets’ infielder, Omar Quintanilla.
  • Tedquarters says the Mets may be unironically pursuing OF Rick Ankiel.  Well, it wouldn’t be the first time Ankiel helps the Mets.
  • Amazin’ Avenue goes into more detail about Ankiel’s meltdown against the Mets, plus all the beautiful video.
  • Adam Rubin reports that the Orioles have signed former Mets great, Ronny Paulino.
  • Mets Police shows off some pictures of the items on Citi Field’s new Delta Marketplace menu.

The Super Bowl can only mean one thing: baseball season is just around the corner.  And Mets Today has you covered like Corey Webster.


In the Bleak Mid-Winter: Some Random Thoughts

I think most Mets fans are hoping for a scenario that goes something like this: a combination of losses on the field and in the courtroom that forces the Wilpons into selling. Then as 2013 dawns, the team has rich new ownership, a dream team in the front office and a roster full of dynamic young players.

Not so fast. One of the keys to the Wilpons’ losing control of the team will be a further decline in attendance. Declining attendance is usually connected to a poor on-field performance. A poor on-field performance means one of two things: either a rash of devastating injuries or the reality that the new “core” of Duda, Davis, Tejada, etc. isn’t very good. If the latter is indeed the case, then the team is in for a long stay in the basement.

The last time ownership changed here was after the 1979 season when a perfect storm of poor play, financial woes and front office blunders dragged the franchise to hell. Already down and out for three seasons, the Mets struggled for nearly four more years after the Wilpon-Doubleday group took over, going through three managers in the process. It wasn’t until the end of the 1983 season and the arrival of Ron Darling, Darryl Strawberry and Keith Hernandez that things began to look up.

It’s a conundrum. I think everyone wants the Wilpons gone, but to hasten their demise, the team has to be awful. If they are awful however it means a total rebuilding (just two players from the 1980 team, Mookie Wilson and Wally Backman lasted to 1986) and several more years of 5th place finishes. If they play better and hover around .500, the Wilpons may just decide to try and hold on, which means more teetering on the edge of financial ruin, etc. etc.

One wonders if the Wilpons couldn’t benefit by hiring a spokesman to handle all of their media contacts. I can’t help but think that at 74, Fred may no longer be up to the task of dealing with the press. His New Yorker interview last spring angered and alienated both fans and players. His recent words after the owners meetings reassured us that his family is “holding up well” (well, that’s a relief) and that he hopes the fans will “give the Mets a try” (as if the team is a brand of snack food).Hard to gauge, but I’d be willing to bet that every time Fred opens his mouth, he costs the Mets 10,000 tickets sold. Where is Jay Horowitz while all this is going on? Perhaps it’s time for a younger, hipper, more believable mouthpiece and one with no current ties to the Wilpons to intervene.

Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia and Zach Wheeler are the Mets next great hope. Just ask Baseball America, hey they’re never wrong—right, Fernando? My hope is that Sandy Alderson is quietly shopping them around, just to see what they could get in return. Let’s face it; probably none of these guys is the next Stephen Strasburg. About the only thing more dangerous than trading away young pitchers is depending on them to develop into franchise-saving stars—right, Pulse?

So Scott Boras found his “stupid owner” in Detroit, eh? On paper that Tiger batting order looks terrific but in the field…well let’s just say that they are going to have to score a lot of runs! Remember the Howard Johnson in center or Daniel Murphy in left experiments? How did they work out? It probably also means that we can cross off Detroit from the list of possible destinations for David Wright this summer.

David Einhorn got a hefty fine from the U.K’s finance regulator for insider trading. First Bernie Madoff and now Einhorn. The Wilpons can sure pick’em.

I may not get to Citi Field at all this season, but I do plan on several trips to Coca-Cola Park, home of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. The Buffalo Bisons are coming in for three separate stands, so I hope to get a glimpse of some future Mets, right here in Allentown. Coca-Cola Park is a beautiful place to take in a game, not a bad seat in the house, with a friendly staff and reasonably priced tickets and food. Think about this for a moment: a minor league community with a reputation as an industrial wasteland (thanks again, Billy Joel) one that hadn’t hosted a professional baseball game in nearly 40 years, was able to build a great stadium literally from a patch of weeds. The Iron Pigs, despite a poor record, have set minor league attendance records each year since their inaugural season in 2009. Meanwhile, there is another stadium that also opened in 2009 about 100 miles to the northeast that is unloved by the fans, has poor sight lines, charges exorbitant rates for food and celebrates someone else’s heritage. What went wrong?

And finally, if you expect that the Mets will “go big” in this June’s draft and spend lots of money on premiere talent, I have a bridge in New York I’d like to sell you. I do have this rich old guy with a Brooklyn fetish interested but if you make me a strong offer…


Oberkfell Stays Local

According to Adam Rubin at ESPN-NY, former Mets bench coach and minor league manager Ken Oberkfell will join the coaching staff of the Newark Bears.

I’m not surprised that Obie didn’t return to the Mets in some capacity, but I am surprised he didn’t catch on with another MLB organization — he seems to be highly respected by most in the game. But who knows, maybe he wanted to stay in the tri-state area and couldn’t figure out another way to do so.

This news suggests another question: if you live in the NY/NJ area, will you be more inclined to go to a Newark Bears game than a Mets game this year? If so, why? Answer in the comments.


Mets Spring Training Question 21: Ike Davis

With 21 Days Until Pitchers and Molinas report to spring training, let’s go through the Mets most burning 21 questions that need to be resolved before Opening Day — addressing one question at a time.

Today’s question is: how will Ike Davis perform after his ankle injury, and what happens if he has yet another setback — who will play first base?

Remember, there was talk of Davis needing microfracture surgery last summer, but by September it was decided that his ankle could heal without it. I’m not going to suggest it was the wrong decision, but I am also not going to take for granted that Davis will be 100% healthy when he reports to Port St. Lucie in a few weeks. Your memory, Adam Rubin, and Matthew Callan of Amazin’ Avenue know better than to trust anything from the Mets that is medically related.

Personally, my fingers are crossed that Davis comes back without any issues whatsoever, and I’m hoping for the best. But, one has to believe that there will be some kind of downgrade in performance — at the very least, more limited mobility in the field and/or decrease in Ike’s already slow running speed. If that’s the worst of his problems, it won’t be a big deal, since a slugging first baseman doesn’t need to run fast and doesn’t need to have Ozzie Smith -like range in the field. However, the feet do play a role in hitting, so we’ll have to keep an eye on Ike’s swing mechanics.

Now, what about the worst-case scenario — that Ike has a setback and needs to miss some or all of the 2012 season? Who then becomes the Mets first baseman? Does Daniel Murphy get pulled out of the second base experiment for the third straight year? If so, who takes over at 2B — Justin Turner, Ronny Cedeno, or someone else? What if Ike’s setback is only temporary — does it make sense to move Murphy there, only to move him back to 2B, and in turn miss crucial development time? Or does it make more sense to move Lucas Duda to 1B — which then creates a hole in right field?

There it is, question #21 … discuss …


John Franco is a Mets Hall-of-Famer

Franco as Team Captain

Today, the Mets announced that John Franco will be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame this season.

The long-time Mets closer compiled 424 saves in his career, good for fourth all-time.  276 of those came as a New York Met.  Unlike the man for whom he was traded, Randy Myers, Franco didn’t fit the power-pitcher mold.  He instead relied on a changeup that moved away from a right-handed hitter, much like a screwball.  Most batters found it too tempting to lay off, especially when they were behind in the count.  Because of this pitch, and his lack of a notable slider or curve, he was often more effective against righties than lefties.

During his career in Queens (which lasted from 1990 to 2004), Franco was generally a solid closer, despite his disturbing penchant for loading the bases before recording the third out of the ninth inning.

In 1999, Franco abdicated the closer’s role to Armando Benitez after a trip to the DL.  From then on, Franco transformed himself into reliable setup man.

The defining Mets moment for the St. John’s graduate came during the 2000 NLDS versus the San Francisco Giants.

In Game 2 in San Francisco, The Mets went into the bottom of the ninth with a 4-1 lead.  However, Benitez allowed 3 runs to blow the save and send the game into extra innings.  The Mets answered, scoring a run in the top of the tenth to take a 5-4 lead.

After allowing a leadoff single, manager Bobby Valentine brought Franco in to relieve Benitez.  Two outs later, Barry Bonds stepped to the plate with a chance to win the game with a long ball.  Franco and Bonds battled, and the count reached 3-and-2.  On the payoff pitch, Franco grazed the inside corner with a changeup to strike Bonds out, and end the game.  Bonds couldn’t believe it, and the momentum of the series had swung the Mets way.

Now, 12 years later, Franco will attain Mets immortality on June 3.  He wasn’t always perfect, but he was better than you remember.  He was a team leader and a true Met.



Jeff Francis Also Forsakes Flushing

You just can’t make this stuff up — yet another high-profile free-agent has refused to take the Mets’ money. The latest is former 17-game winner and 16-game loser Jeff Francis, who opted instead to accept an invitation to spring training and minor league dealoffered by the Cincinnati Reds. It was a wild, wheel-and-deal day for the Reds, who also picked up former Met Wilson Valdez in a trade with the Phillies.

As reported in various outlets, the Mets had been keeping a close eye on Francis, perhaps fearing he might pickpocket an employee. In any case, I’m a little sad they weren’t able to bring him into the fold — anyone with the guts to wear a Vancouver Canucks hat around Denver has to have some moxie and would add interest to the team.

OK in all seriousness … with Francis off the table, there aren’t many starting pitchers left on the market who the Mets can consider for depth. They do have to sign at least one more arm, don’t they? Here’s who I believe is still available, likely fits into the Mets’ financial plan, and might be willing to sign a minor-league deal with the club, in no particular order whatsoever:

Kyle Davies
Zach Duke
Ross Ohlendorf
Clay Hensley
Scott Kazmir
Sergio Mitre
Micah Owings

I’m sure I’ve missed someone, just as I’m sure one or more of the above have already been signed and I wasn’t sent the press release. Either way it’s not an inspiring group.

No, Jon Garland, Roy Oswalt, nor Edwin Jackson are on the list, as I just don’t see the Mets affording any of them. Livan Hernandez is not there, either, since he seems to be considering retirement; also, he might still be ticked about being released by the Wilpons in 2009 just prior to his performance bonus kicking in. If you want to consider Rich Harden, Chris Young, Brandon Webb, Ben Sheets, Mark Prior, Wayne Garland, Steve Busby, David Clyde, or some other guy who was a great pitcher for a brief period and then blew his arm out go right ahead — but, to me it doesn’t make much sense to go down that road again, when what the Mets need right now is someone with the potential to remain healthy in the event one of their projected five starters breaks down. I just don’t see the point in signing a disaster as your disaster plan. In fact, Kazmir and Mitre are teetering on the edge in terms of potential reliability.

Tim Wakefield is still a free agent, and it would be really cool to have two knuckleballers on the staff, but I’m just not seeing it become reality. Word on the street is Wake will retire if Boston doesn’t re-sign him.

Owings is intriguing, both as an arm and as a fourth outfielder. But is he still available after going 8-0 with a 3.57 ERA last year? I haven’t heard anything about him this winter.

I keep looking at these seven names and thinking I must be missing someone, because it seemed to be only a few days ago that there were two dozen healthy starting pitchers looking for work. Help me out — who am I missing? Who would you consider? Do you think the Mets still need to sign a starter for depth or am I all wrong on this? Answer in the comments.