Browsing Archive November, 2015

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!