Fan Appreciation Day: Eric Young Is Not an Axe Murderer

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Jimmy:

As a reader, I tend to find it slightly offensive or, at best, inappropriate, when a blogger or reporter writes about what “the fans” think or feel. We are not a monolithic entity, but a sprawling plurality. A chaotic mess of contradictory thoughts and emotions, unified only by our support of the New York Mets.

We root for the same laundry and that is the sum of our GroupThink.

That stated, I do feel that Eric Young has been somewhat undervalued by Mets fans in general.  Essentially, there’s two reasons for that:

1) Juan Lagares: “we” want him to play and EY threatens that.

2) Terry Collins: whose uncertain logic represents, in a phrase, “the Mets being the Mets.” The royal “we” doesn’t trust his decision-making ability.

"Okay, you can let go of my hand now, Terry."

“Okay, you can let go of my hand now, Terry.”

But pushing that stuff aside, I feel it’s made some folks blind to the very real positives that come from having Eric Young on your team. The positives outweigh EY’s very real flaws; he’s a good guy to have on the club. An asset.

I’m saying: Terry Collins is not completely wrong (for a change).

What do you think, Mike? You read the daily Twitter feed. Is that your sense of things? Some people out there seem to really hate him.

Mike:

Well, nobody is upset enough on Twitter that they are flipping him off or anything. Well, almost nobody.

When it comes to Young Jr., he is something of a lightening rod. Many fans seem to have a big problem with him, mostly due to that “Lagares factor.” Juan is very popular with fans right now, and his good start accentuated that. EY playing regularly and, therefore, pushing Lagares to the bench was an unpopular idea. In particular EY is unpopular with the sabermatric crowd, who do not greatly value his best attribute, speed.

Conversely, I see a fair amount of fans that love EY. Fans where he is one of their favorite players on the team, if not the favorite one. Speed is fun, and not many players are faster than Eric Young Jr. He also seems like a genuinely good guy, who always plays hard, additional factors that endear him to his fans.

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The combination of reactions is interesting to me, as it has me believing EY is always simultaneously under- and over-rated. I love the speed, but not the bat. But he was born to play at Citi Field, if only he took better routes on fly balls. Since he does not, I end up loving him as this team’s super sub, but no more than that.

Jimmy:

Yes, and that’s been our point, I think. We agree that Eric Young is a valuable sub, ideal for Citi Field, and that he should get 400 ABs a season, to pick a number.

I’ve long toyed with the idea for a post titled, “Not All OBP Is Created Equal.” I learned that most acutely from watching Lance Johnson, a speedster who was often criticized because he did not walk enough. (BTW, this underscores the reality that OBP is not the new idea that some folks pretend it to be.) The chance of EY getting on base and scoring is much, much greater than it is for, say, Lucas Duda. We can’t look at OBP for all players as if it’s the same value. Yes, the outs are the same, and outs are destruction, the ruination of possibility. But EY gets tremendous production out of a pretty crummy on-base percentage. He comes all the way around the bases.

Mike:

Because EY is popular with a large segment of fans, I saw a trend where Chris Young was becoming a villain, and the guy hadn’t even played a game yet.

Jimmy:

Yes, the hand-wringing over the return of Chris Young was so great that I wrote about it, “Something Is Wrong . . . When the Return of Chris Young Fills Fans with Dread.” Fans were waiting in the weeds to hate this guy, largely because of what he meant to our beloved Lagares.

Mike:

Of course, Lagares got injured, any potential controversy was put on hold, and a new villain has emerged.

Jimmy:

I began this post with the fabulously clever title, “Eric Young Is Not an Axe Murderer.”

Clue1

So, yes, the fans have gone a bit overboard, as we are wont to do.

Besides, we’ve all played Clue.

We know by now the true identity of the Murderer.

So after a deep breath I intone . . .

grandy-web“I accuse Curtis Granderson, on the baseball field, with the bat.”

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Closing Time With the Mets: One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer

Implosion6Mike:

After Jose Valverde’s latest implosion this weekend he was removed from his tenuous hold on the Mets closer’s job. Kyle Farnsworth has been named the current closer. Farnsworth, remember, was originally left off the roster when the Mets broke camp. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say he doesn’t finish the season in the role.

Jimmy:

Sandy Alderson has done a shaky job as GM for the Mets. On the offensive side, the club doesn’t have a legitimate leadoff hitter or cleanup hitter. We just don’t have them. Defensively, there’s no shortstop (a major oversight that effects our #7 hitter, too), and the bullpen was never addressed. Picking up Valverde and Farnsworth on the cheap seems to be the sum total of “the plan.” Yes, Parnell went down, but coming off serious neck surgery, he was questionable from the outset. Or should have been.

Mike:

Is there anyone on the current roster who does intrigue you as a potential closer? I wouldn’t mind seeing Carlos Torres get a shot. The most important thing with the closer is to have a guy who can give you a clean inning. Torres is not going to be electric, but I would gladly settle for efficient.

Jimmy:

Torres has been our best relief pitcher, I think. I love that he gave the Mets two innings on Easter. At a time when I increasingly prize flexibility in the pen, I’d hate to limit Torres to the closer’s role. Familia is not ready, in my opinion. So I’ll get crazy and say: Dice-K. Thing is, you’d need him to buy into it.

As an aside, this speaks directly to the Ike Davis trade. The minor league pundits might be thrilled that the PTBNL appears to be a 2013 Draft Pick, but it speaks to the failure of turning Ike Davis into any kind of immediate help. The Mets will be getting another guy who might be good down the road in the hazy future, maybe.

Mike:

A few thoughts on how Davis relates to this. One, you could have non-tendered the guy and signed, say, Latroy Hawkins. Or, if that thought was too painful for Alderson, there are the multiple reports that Sandy would not pull the trigger on a Davis for Zach Britton deal this winter.

So excuse me for not getting excited about a prospect who will maybe, possibly, project to be a Met in 2020.

As to Dice-K, I thought about him for a few seconds myself. But Matsuzaka, even in his prime, had so many problems throwing strikes. When I added that fact to how long every ninth inning would take with the ponderous Daisuke, I quickly forgot about the idea. I don’t know if I can handle that combination, I would need to keep a lot more bourbon in the house.

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Another option would be someone currently toiling in Las Vegas. We know Vic Black is there. There are also more starting pitching prospects than we can use. I have already advocated beginning Rafael Montero’s career in the bullpen. He throws strikes.

Jimmy:

Look, the Wilpon-Alderson Mets can be shockingly indecisive. Jake deGrom opened eyes this Spring Training, yet he represents the #9 starter on the list (behind Dice-K, Montero, and Syndergaard). Clearly he’s a strong candidate to help the Mets in the pen right now. Why is he working as a starter in Vegas? Shouldn’t he be using this time to adapt to the very real demands of the relief position?  Same craziness with Dice-K. He’s working as a starter in Vegas until the organization tapped him on the shoulder and said, in effect, “You’re our new first baseman.” So far, so good, but it goes against the Boy Scout’s motto.

Montero should be with the Mets, too. I’d love to see him start — instead, Sandy went with Colon — but more than that, I’d love to see him help the Mets in any capacity this year, right now. Because today, we’re not getting anything out of him.

What’s that song by The Grass Roots? “Live for Today.”

Mike:

One last thought from me is could we think about just scrapping the whole idea? On nights they were pitching well, Familia, Torres, and German have already shown they can go as long as three innings. Why not just forget about it and if someone has a good eighth inning, leave them in the game?

Jimmy:

I go back and forth on this one. Intellectually, I can embrace “closer by committee.” Yet practically, it doesn’t seem to work. I am willing to recognize “closer” as a rare breed of cat, even as I suspect that it’s an over-hyped role. Just a touch too much mysticism attached to those last three outs.

Anyway, yes, I’d love to see the Mets go to an 11-man staff. I’d love to see some creative, out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to relievers (more Carlos Torres types, more guys who can give you 2-3 innings on any given day). The trick is, you can’t needlessly burn through 6 relievers in 2.2 IP every close game. It would require bold new thinking. I don’t think we have the right manager for the task.

Black Lab

 

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Hunting the Wrong Prey

Hunting StrikesSince this blog hit the World Wide Web I have typed a lot of words about the Mets “hitting” philosophy. I’ve made it pretty clear that I think what is being done is wrongheaded and dumb. Now, I’m sensitive to being repetitive, to not ranting about the same things over and over. For the first few weeks this year I’ve bitten my keyboard, as once again, this team does not hit or score runs. But the management team just keeps poking me, sticking needle after needle in my eye. Well, the last poke came last week, when our resident geniuses announced their newest inventions. As soon as I read about them, I had this reaction.

The Mets have a new name for their inept approach to hitting, they are calling it Hunting Strikes. They are compiling data, lots of data, and are innovating offensive baseball. The Mets have instituted a system called ‘Bases Per Out.‘ I’m not going to dignify this with a full description, if you really want to know exactly how it works you can ask Paul dePodesta. Understand, if he tells you, he might have to kill you. Or, if you are a Mets fan, you might want to kill yourself, because, well, here is the key to ‘Bases Per Out,’ per Anthony DiComo.

“A hitter who worked a favorable count, for example, earned one point. A hitter who swung at a pitch out of the zone, REGARDLESS OF THE RESULT,  lost one.”

Okay, I apologize for the all caps, I know it is rude and I do not usually do it. But I have to raise my voice about this, I cannot be calm about it, as it tells so much about these guys.

Let’s use an example. There are two outs, the Mets are down three runs in the bottom of the ninth, and the batter at the plate has a 2-2 count. Say Player A. has gotten to a 2-2 count and kept himself even on points. If Player A. takes a close 2-2 pitch for a ball he gets a point. If he then strikes out on the next pitch, and it’s a strike, he loses nothing. Player A. ends up plus one, as the Mets head to the clubhouse defeated.

Next there is Player B. Player B. swings at that 2-2 pitch and hits a grand slam. The Mets win the game. And that player is rewarded with a score of negative one in the process.

Now, what a shock, one small problem with this system is that it leads to fewer runs scored. The following, also from DiComo’s article, says much:

“The only problem is that to date, the club’s offensive approach has not resulted in actual success. The Mets have scored dramatically fewer runs each year under [Sandy] Alderson, [Paul] DePodesta and [Dave] Hudgens, going from 718 in 2011 to 650 in ’12, down to 619 last season.”

Let’s see, the team has instituted a new system of hitting. Results have deteriorated every year since this brain trust has taken the reins.

But, of course, nothing changes, because the front office is ignoring the results.

ignore_facts

It puts a new spin on things when you keep that in mind. Why is Ruben Tejada still here? Why did it take eons to make a simple move with Ike Davis? Because improving the roster is not on the front burner for this GM. The New York Mets winning is no big deal for him. Results do not matter to Sandy Alderson.

There is a saying, ‘it’s not how, it’s how many.’ For Sandy and his buddies, it’s the opposite. It’s all about the how. The Mets are his lab rats, and Sandy, Paul, and the crew are using the players to do experiments.

Sure, they might kill the franchise in the process, but all in the name of science, right?

 

 

 

 

 

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RE-POST: It’s Time for a Tom Seaver Statue at Citi Field (& Gil Hodges, & Gary Carter, etc.)

NOTE: I originally posted this in late September, 2013, but the topic has gained new life of late, due to Boomer Esiason picking up the cause on WFAN. Since many Mets fans checked out on the club by September of last year, I figured this post might be new to some of you. And for the rest of you, our loyal readers, the entire “2 Guys” staff wishes you a happy holiday — if, you know, that’s how you lean.

Carry on!

easter-bunny

“The Mets are weird when it comes to honoring their players.”

– Comment from “2 Guys” Reader, Alan K.

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Our faithful reader Alan made that remark in the comments section below a post about Mike Piazza. He is not the first one to make that observation.

And frankly, “weird” is a nice way of putting it. That’s sort of like describing Ted Bundy as irritable.

“Out of touch with the fans” might be another way.

“Stupid” would be another, if you prefer blunt force impact.

Ownership has rarely demonstrated the most basic understanding of the team’s fans. Time and again, they’ve neglected the club’s rich history and former stars. We saw this most clearly — and astonishingly — when those dummies opened up brand new Citi Field. We all walked around and said, “Yeah, it’s pretty . . . but where’s the Mets stuff?”

It’s such an old story it’s not even worth recounting. Real fans know: We respect the team’s history much more than the Wilpons ever have.

Mike and I are not the most well-traveled baseball fans, but between us, we’ve been to some ballparks . Each year, it’s a tradition for us to make a trip to catch the Mets in a new ballpark: Baltimore, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia, to name some of places we’ve been. Next year we’re considering San Francisco.

Gibson_statue

There seem to be statues outside of every park. In fact, it’s a documented trend. Baseball statues are popping up all over the place . . . except, well, you know where.

Outside PNC in Pittsburgh, there’s a dramatic statue of Bill Mazeroski’s World Series home run. If that doesn’t satisfy you, there’s Willie Stargell, Honus Wagner, and Roberto Clemente. In Atlanta, there’s Warren Spahn, Hank Aaron, and Phil Niekro. The Nationals have statues of Frank Howard, Walter Johnson, and Josh Gibson.

7981229253_119b1fe11a-1

On and on it goes.

There are statues of Stan Musial, Mike Schmidt, Craig Biggio, Frank White, Juan Marichal, Ted Williams, Minny Minoso, Nolan Ryan, Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Harold Baines, Dizzy Dean, Jeff Bagwell, Joe Nuxhall, Hal Newhouser, Willie Mays.

enhanced-buzz-17995-1362780194-3

And still it goes on and on.

There’s Joe Morgan, Ted Kluszewski, Ernie Harwell, Eddie Murray, Earl Weaver, Johnny Bench, Orlando Cepeda, Kent Hrbek, Red Schoendienst, Cool Papa Bell, Harray Caray, Connie Mack, Luis Aparicio, George Brett, Tony Gwynn, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline.

Kauffman Stadium

What’s my point?

It’s obvious.

The Wilpons need to wake the f up.

It’s time for a Tom Seaver statue at Citi Field.

And while we’re at it: Gil Hodges. And you know what? Give me a Darryl Strawberry, a Bud Harrelson standing up to Pete Rose, a leaping Ray Knight. Let’s celebrate the great moments.

And yeah, Mike Piazza — that immortal home run swing on the first game back after 9/11 — let’s get that up there, too. In bronze.

Why do the most obvious decisions take these guys so many years to get right? It’s mind-boggling, the cluelessness. Right now, today, let’s retire Keith’s number. Mike’s, too. Let’s get statues of Gil Hodges and Tom Seaver out by the entrance. That’s before you even start thinking about it.

What is wrong with these people?

Below, a few images that I’d nominate as potential statues for outside Citi Field . . . I’m sure you’ll have more.

mlbf_19082117_th_35

 

carter1986

 

 

Tom-Seaver-picture-2

hodges_small_thumb_medium-2

Fans will surely enjoy this great overview of more than 200 baseball statues by Erik Malinowski.

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Sandy Blinks, Ike Departs, Duda Wins

Well, it happened.

The three-headed beast at first base has been slain. Sandy Alderson finally brought down the axe.

ghidrah

The Mets GM bungled this situation from the outset, awkwardly shopping Ike, failing to pull the trigger, proudly claiming that he wasn’t in the business of giving away players, doing nothing.

And then, at last, giving away the player. It had to happen. Duda or Davis, who knows which. Time will tell.

Sorry about that, Zack Thornton. No insult intended. All I really know is that you are 25 years old with no ML experience, a soft-tosser, and you were passed over by every team in MLB in the Rule 5 Draft, including the Mets.

However, the word is that the “player to be named later” is a better prospect.

We shall see, and hope for the best. The reality always seemed to be that Ike wasn’t going to get you much on the open market.

A few things:

* The big winner here is Lucas Duda.

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* If Ike Davis hits, and his father yaps, it is not going to look good for Dave Hudgens, Sandy Alderson, and The Approach.

* Duda, Murphy, and Tejada are all below-average defenders. That’s a bad everyday infield defense. I know there are people who defend Lucas at 1B, but I’m not one of them. He’s pretty immobile out there.

* Clarity is a good thing. Sometimes making a decision — any decision — is more important than the quality of the actual decision. I think about that in terms of pitch selection. Throw the curve? Fastball? Go with the change? In some ways, it doesn’t matter as long as you throw that pitch with absolute conviction.

* When it comes to Ike memories, I don’t really have many. Or any. But, oh yes, he was involved in one of the most gruesome injuries I’ve ever witnessed. (Be sure the children don’t see this, folks, this could leave emotional scars).

* As Mike said back in August, “Soon enough, one of these guys is going to have to go. There might not be a use for either of them, but we know there surely is no need for both.”

* This trade didn’t happen soon enough.

* Don’t look now, but we might be the Pirates farm team.

* (Ike would have been safe at third.)

* Ruben Tejada is next. Because he positively can’t play. I just hope it doesn’t take forever and a day.

* Hey, did the Mets just pocket more than $3 million? Maybe they can use that money toward Joel Hanrahan?

* And lastly, good luck, Ike. You were a Met — mystifying and confounding — and you’ll always have a place in the Ultimate Mets Database of our hearts.

baron - Ike davis 2

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Baseball 101: Fans Just Wanna Have Fun

Have you ever gone to a Broadway play? It requires some effort. In my case, living upstate, it’s not quite the invasion of Normandy, but there are a lot of details. If we bring the kids, that’s four tickets purchased well in advance. Maybe we get a hotel, make a day out of it. Then there’s food, they’ll want to eat. Souvenirs, the CD soundtrack, maybe a t-shirt.

You know how things add up.

And when the play is spectacular, I turn to my wife and say, “We have to do this more often. Why has it been two years since we’ve seen a play? Look at our children, this is what we want for them. Quick, let’s buy something!”

When the play disappoints?

“Oh, well. That was 400 balloons down the drain. Let’s go walk the High Line.”

And you don’t go back for another three years.

So that’s the big takeaway after the opening of the 2014 baseball season. For all my analytical interests, my love of the game itself, I am still a much happier fellow when my good old Mets win a game.

TheLowBeat-1024x768

Quick story: I was in a bar on Friday night, April 4th, waiting for the mighty Figgs to take the stage. The Mets game was on, because it was that kind of place — rare, these days, operated by a hardcore Mets fan. And I’m watching as Papa Grande takes the mound in the 9th. The team is 0-3 and, my lord, it feels like this one might slip away too.

But: Strike three! Put it in the books!

I involuntarily pump my fist in that crowded, oblivious room, look over at my friend, smile. A win!

As a fan, I like wins. And I don’t care who we beat. If the Mets stomp on Our Little Sisters of the Poor, I’ll still rejoice. Even sweeping the lowly Diamondbacks was a sweet thing.

It made me happy.

Not grumpy, not depressed. I didn’t want to punch anything, put a bag over my head, or go bury my sad face in a pint of ice cream. I was floating on white, puffy clouds, breathing pure oxygen.

mets

The next day I caught up with a calm, thoughtful, reasonable essay by Matt Cerrone over at Metsblog, titled, “The real ‘Plan’ for the Mets and why I’m patient.” And there was something in it that stuck with me. It’s been gnawing it me to the point where, well, here we are.

Let me be upfront by declaring my appreciation for Metsblog. I’ve read it nearly every day since its inception. While I don’t agree with every opinion that’s written there, I am appalled by the trolls who litter the comments section with mean-spirited criticisms. When it comes to that crap, I am solidly on Team Matt.

One other aside, full disclosure: When we started out, Matt linked to us a few times, sending readers our way. Matt, whom I’ve never met, didn’t need to do that. We’re certainly not delivering corporate-approved material. My sense is that Matt is authentically rooting for us to find a readership. It sets him apart from most of the other bloggers, and I’m grateful for that. It’s not like they knocked down the door with bundt cakes.

Anyway, sorry, I digress. Here are the first few opening paragraphs to Matt’s essay:

According to Sandy Alderson, he never predicted the team will win 90 games in 2014, he simply challenged his staff to find ways to build a team that can get to 90 wins… eventually. It was a goal, he said.

If that’s accurate, why is this a new goal? What have he and his staff been doing the last few years?

The answer, as I understand it, is simple: First and foremost, they’ve been setting up future payroll flexibility (by cutting payroll — see: Jose Reyes, Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, lack of new, expensive, long-term signings, etc.), while stockpiling young, controllable, power pitching. That’s it. The rest has been a means to an end, a way to assess in-house talent, bleed a little, minimally entertain fans, and get to a point (2014) when things can begin to turn a corner.

He achieved his first goal, which was to restructure payroll and rebuild a farm system. That cannot be questioned. It seems he’s challenging his staff with a new goal, and to create a follow-up plan, which is about winning 90 games.


I think we could, in fact, debate the quality of the farm system rebuild, but I’ll save that for another day.

Can you guess which phrase really stuck in my craw?

Yep.

Minimally entertain fans.”

It’s like Bush’s daft sign on May 1, 2003 on that boat in the Gulf: “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!”

Bush_mission_accomplished

It’s true, Mets fans have been minimally entertained.

And I think Matt’s dead wrong about that. Far, far too dismissive of results, wins and loses, the enjoyment factor on the field. Baseball is an entertainment business competing for our dollar. Our time.

Sandy chose not to crater when he took over. He kept Wright, kept Reyes. Because, I believe, he felt he was smart enough to field a pretty good team while he got the house in order. Pick up a Collin Cowgill here, an Aaron Laffey there. Sign a DJ Carrasco here, a Frank Francisco there. Trade for guys like Andres Torres and Kelly Shoppach. Search through the system, endlessly, for internal options to real problems. And so on. Maybe he misread the NY market in the process. This isn’t Oakland. It’s not San Diego.

It’s not, in other words, Off-Broadway.

The Pinnacle List

Alderson’s primary task was letting time pass, letting contracts expire, trading a few veteran free agents the Mets couldn’t sign, and hopefully doing okay in the draft. He’s been on record stating that winning has not been a priority.

Not much of a mission, frankly, but: Accomplished!

In the meantime, the Mets organization has had to put on 81 shows a season, sell tickets, bring in fans, operate a television station . . . run a business.

And from what I can see, Alderson has contributed to running that business into the ground.

We’ve all seen the empty seats. Maybe all those fans come running back the first hot streak. Maybe some of them don’t. Maybe losing all that revenue and good faith will cost the club for years. Maybe the pain has been necessary. One parade in canyons would work wonders to help us forgive and forget.

You don’t try to win because it’s more fun than losing. You try to win because “fun” is everything. Entertainment comes before winning. It’s what we’re selling here. Good times. Enjoyment. Those fist pumps in the bar, those “happy recaps,” the games where we watch the highlights over and over again. Smiling.

Since Sandy took over the Mets, he is the only GM in Mets history to have a worse record at home than away. The numbers:

  • 2011   Home: 34-47   Away: 43-38
  • 2012   Home: 36-45   Away: 38-43
  • 2013   Home: 33-48   Away: 41-40
  • 2014   Home: 2-4      Away: 6-3

TOTAL

  • Home: 105 wins, 144 loses
  • Away: 128 wins, 124 loses

Brutal, brutal and unacceptable. Though, admittedly, it has been minimally entertaining.

Here’s a theory, Sandy. Instead of chasing home runs in that big park, you should be chasing speed and athleticism and defense.

Meanwhile, the loses mount.

empty-CitiAll those people in the stands, the dwindling faithful, the diehards dying hard, shrugging after another loss, heading to the subway or their cars. “No, Timmy, we’re not stopping in the damn gift shop today. Drink your eight dollar soda and shut up. Daddy’s not made of money.”

Hopefully, as Matt says, 2014 will be that pivot year. A plus-.500 record would be a step in the right direction.

And by that I mean, more fun, more pleasurable, more entertaining. Those aren’t asides or fringe benefits. That’s the goal right there, and it’s achieved by putting a lively, compelling team on the field, game after game, year after year.

The team never had to bleed this bad. The franchise did not have to sink this low.

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Sandy’s Biggest Move: Signing David Wright, for Better or for Worse

DavidWrightDealJimmy:

It’s funny, many of us tend to ignore the obvious. During his tenure here with the Mets, by far the single-biggest decision that Sandy Alderson has made was to sign David Wright to an 8 year, $138 million contract.

A while back I noted a column that listed Sandy’s 5 best moves — a list that included trading Marlon Byrd and signing Bartolo Colon — and yet ignored the Wright signing. Dumb, but telling: It was his quietest move because nothing changed on the field.

We overlooked it the other day, while comparing the work of Theo Epstein and Sandy Alderson. We failed to mention the Wright signing. Obviously, Theo did not have a David Wright. But I wonder: Do you think Theo might have traded him?

Mike:

If Wright was to be traded it needed to be done quickly and decisively. Omar Minaya had him signed to a great contract, which would have made his value in November 2010 off the charts.

Jimmy:

If the Mets traded Wright, they conservatively would have landed a couple of top prospects, while cratering at the ML level, leaving them in better position for the draft. Of course, that would have meant a real rebuild. Maybe the bottom would have dropped out with fan support.

Mike:

The bottom dropped out anyway. Fans left the building in droves, especially once the more exciting Jose Reyes was allowed to leave via free agency. I guess ratings and attendance would Marlins Phillies Baseballhave been worse in 2011, but after that I don’t see any difference. When I went to games last year the place was a ghost town, it has not been like that in Flushing in thirty years. If any moves were made that would have had the team lose more games it would have had no effect on the revenue line. Fans are smart here, they know there is no difference between winning 75 games or 65 games. There are playoff contenders and there are playoff pretenders. Since Reyes and Beltran were exiled there has been no doubt which of those the Mets were.

Jimmy:

But David Wright is still here, and should still be a premium player in 2015-1017.  Though here we are and our best hitting prospect, Wilmer Flores — possibly our only hitting prospect for a while — is a third baseman without a position. Zach Lutz can’t find a way onto the field. And Murphy is best at 3B.

I’m not arguing that Wright should have been traded. Or that the Wilpons would have ever allowed it. (The feeling here is that they ordered the signing, fearful of the backlash.) But it’s interesting to wonder if the organization would be in better shape today if they moved David Wright back in 2010.

A thought puzzle: Let’s say we got two functional prospects out of the haul, two young guys on the field right now. That’s conservative, realistic. You also have the financial savings. David is going to make $20 million this year. Suddenly you have that money to spend on other things.

Mike:

There’s one problem with the hypothesis. Where would that money go? It’s not like the K-Rod, Beltran, Reyes, Bay or Santana dollars were totally replaced. Not even close. Instead the team’s payroll goes down annually. In other words, it’s hard to analyze the Mets moves with logic. The ownership mess hangs over every move.

So you could have two young guys on the field now, and that might be it.

Jimmy:

I think it’s fair to assume the same payroll budget. Wright is getting $20 million. That’s money that could have gone elsewhere. Sandy had it and spent it on David. He might have spent it on something else. I don’t see them at a $68 million budget.

Mike:

When the payroll number was at $140 million I couldn’t find anyone who could envision $85 million, including me. Yet here we are. Every spending decision by this team is analyzed in depth, and in isolation. I’m less confident than you that our payroll would be at $85 million without David. Maybe it wouldn’t be at $68 million, maybe it would be at $75 million, who knows with this bunch. I do know that Wright is the face of this franchise and will potentially break every offensive team record. His contract will pay for itself, which made it an easier sell to insolvent owners and their conservative creditors. Just because the team keeps acting like New York is a small market doesn’t mean it is.

david-wright-captain-americaAnd also, the two players we picked up might have flamed out in the minors. There is a weird assumption with a lot of people in the Mets fanbase these days that all prospects become productive major league players. They don’t. So, we could have ended up with no David Wright and nothing on the field. When you look at Baseball Prospectus Top 100 list from February 2011 many of those names include current star players. They also include many busts. If we look at the Blue Jays, the team we eventually made the Dickey trade with, their top two prospects at the time were pitcher Kyle Drabek, #14, and catcher J.P. Arencibia, #38. It’s hard to imagine either of those guys helping the Mets much in 2014 and beyond.

My point is the prospect end of it is always a gamble, the only sure thing in these deals is the star player being dealt away, and the cash being freed up. But with the Mets there is the added issue of whether the Wilpons would have reallocated David’s salary. Given our owners I can see why Sandy held the popular Wright.

Jimmy:

Sandy is not an aggressive GM. And at times, he’s brutally stagnant. The moves he makes tend to be the ones that he’s forced to make. I think he had to sign Wright, and I think he had support for it at the top. The Wilpons live in fear of WFAN exploding, that’s when they act and heads roll.

Mike:

When Sandy did sign Wright, it was to a fantastic team-friendly contract. Wright was scheduled to become a free agent this offseason. Look at what the Mets signed David for, and compare it to the Choo and Ellsbury deals.

  • David Wright, eight years, $138 million
  • Shin Soo Choo, seven years, $130 million
  • Jacoby Ellsbury, seven years, $153 million

Would anyone in their right minds trade Wright for either of those players?

Jimmy:

No, absolutely not. OTOH, a small-market team would trade that kind of contract, for a player on the wrong side of his peak years, for young, affordable talent. The Mets kept the face of the Zigging and Zaggingfranchise, but by doing so missed an opportunity for a creative rebuild. To your other point, yes, not all prospects turn out. But neither do all big free agency signings. In the end, the Mets zigged, but it’s interesting to wonder what might have happened if they had zagged.

To be clear: I think David Wright has been a great Met, a wonderful player. I also feel the Wilpons have squandered his best years. To even consider trading him, you would have had to make it strictly between the lines — ignoring the fans, publicity, revenue, storyline, etc. And obviously, you can’t ignore all of those off-the-field factors, since that’s part of what you are buying with the $138 million. Call it “good will.” It’s rarely just a baseball decision. Because strictly baseball, I don’t think it’s a deal that Sandy normally makes.

Mike

By the time Sandy addressed Wright, three years after becoming GM, it was too late to do anything but make the best deal he could with David. That is not a complaint from me. One, Sandy made a great deal with Wright. Two, David is a once-in-a-lifetime player, the chances of trading David and getting back players who ever truly replaced him is remote. Wright was once again the best player on the team in 2013, and shows no signs of slowing down.

As this franchise once again focuses on winning, the task is less daunting knowing we have one cornerstone in place.

 

 

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Two Guys Talking Roster Moves and Non-Moves — Matt Harvey, Fried Rice, The Wrong Abreu, Juan Lagares, Anthony Brown, Asha Leo, etc.

Jimmy:

Hey, Mike. Some shuffling with the Mets roster yesterday due to the injury to Lagares. Nothing much. And from my point of view, not enough.

BlL_G-UIMAAt4Ye

But before we get to that, I found the recent Matt Harvey kerfuffle pretty amusing. Evidently, Matt attended a New York Knicks game on Sunday night with blazing hot supermodel, Asha Leo. Immediately there was an outcry.

Some folks wondered if Matt was in violation of . . . er, um . . . some kind of non-binding agreement that supposedly has him rehabbing in Port St. Lucie when the Mets were out of town.

I actually read concerns that he might have “violated his rehab code of conduct.”

Heaven forfend. She hardly seems worth it.

I half-expected to see a group of nerds protesting at Citi Field, carrying signs that read: “It’s Not Fair! Waaaaah!”

And no, life’s not.

Anyway, it turned out that Sunday is a standard day off for rehabbing players, so it’s all good. The code of conduct remains intact!

Matt’s position has been clear from the start:

How the hell am I going to bang hot models when I’m stuck in Port St. Freaking Lucie?

Can you imagine poor Matt in dreary Port St. Lucie? He takes out his little black book and starts dialing super models . . .


Asha+Leo+Dresses+Skirts+Mini+Dress+WF-D8NCY1sglMatt
: Hey, baby! It’s me, Matt Harvey. New York Met. Starting pitcher for the 2013 All-Star Game.

Asha: Matt, oh yes, I remember your photos. Did you sign that monster contract yet?

Matt: Just a matter of time, sugar. Scott tells me it’s in the bag, the Yankees are waiting in the weeds. Listen, I was wondering if you’d like to go out on a date?

Asha: I’d love to Matt. I’ll be doing a shoot in the city all week.

Matt: Yeah, well, I’m down in Florida.

Asha: I love Miami! We can do the beach, go clubbing. I know a fabulous restaurant right on the ocean.

Matt: Yeah, no. I’m in Port St. Lucie. I was thinking we could, I don’t know, go bowling. Maybe eat at the Olive Garden, see a movie at the mall, and . . .

CLICK.

[Matt redials.]

Asha: Yes?

Matt: Tell you what. How about I fly up there . . .

Mike:

More and more, you get the feeling Matt Harvey and the Mets are in a short-term relationship.

Jimmy:

It was disappointing to see Juan Lagares go down.

Mike:

He was playing great, and hitting well. But this is part of the game, the long season, and injuries.

Jimmy:

We did get our first sighting of Lucas Duda in LF. It only took 13 games.

Mike:

Ha. I’m actually okay with it. The idea of Duda playing the outfield in an emergency doesn’t faze me. But he should never start a game there.

Jimmy:

Juan goes on the DL and Kirkkkkk comes up. I understand he’s been hitting in Las Vegas. But doesn’t everybody? Don’t we know who Kirkkkkk is by now?

Mike:

I would rather see den Dekker. Matt offensively seems a lot like another Kirk, but he has had less major league burn, so you never know.

And defensively he is the superior player. Perhaps den Dekker can be a nice bench player, let’s find out.

On night one, though, you can’t gauge, Kirk looked like Mickey Mantle last night.

den_dekker_screenshot_250

Jimmy:

I know you feel that Bobby Abreu is coming up. He has an opt-out on April 30th. The Mets either call him, reach a new agreement (known as the “Dice-K Accord”), or watch him walk away.

Mike:

There could be some good that comes from this. I just can’t imagine how the team can keep Duda, Davis, and Abreu on the 25 man roster. As long as one of the D&D boys goes when Bobby comes up we won’t lose any flexibility.

Jimmy:

Abreu is clearly a DH at this point in his career. Strange that Bobby signed with the Phillies and now the Mets. But even so, he’s ours and he’s scorching the ball. Which leads me to the question: Why is Mr. Brown still in town?

Mike:

Because Puello needs more time in the minors. It’s only year seven.

Jimmy:

Well, honestly, I don’t think either of us truly want to see Puello in that limited role. While we’re massaging the roster, Terry Collins made some bizarre observations about Scott Rice the other day. And I mean, “bizarre” when they are seen in the light of roster decisions. After Scott’s rough outing on Sunday, Terry suggested that Rice was fried:

“The guy pitched in 73 games last year. And a lot of times the next year, when you pitch in that many games for the first time in your life, your arm doesn’t bounce back real fast. It takes a little time. I’ve seen it where, unfortunately, you’ve got to go through it.”

In other remarks, TC stated that with warming up, the number was closer to 90. I find it weird in several ways. For starters, Terry acts as if this was something that just happened, like rain from the clouds, rather than specific events he intentionally caused to happen. There were phone calls made, orders issued. Terry burned Scott in meaningless games, going to that same well again and again. But, okay, fine. It’s done. Now when Scott doesn’t seem to have it, Terry is like, “Yeah, that happens. I’ve seen it many times.”

Okaaaaay. But why are the Mets pitching him in actual major league games? Why is Terry inserting him into high-leverage situations? Send Scott down to Vegas. Have Wally call us when (and if) the arm bounces back. Terry said that sometimes it takes until the middle of May. If that’s what he truly thinks, what the heck are they doing?

Mike:

It’s all because of the stupid obsession with LOOGY’s. Going into last night’s game the Mets bullpen ERA was 5.08. Going into last night’s game the Mets bullpen ERA if you exclude Scott (13.50) Rice and John (15.75) Lannan was 3.01. This is nothing new, either, letting lefty specialists destroy our bullpen. It was just last year, remember, that we employed Robert “The Human Pitching Machine” Carson.

However, if we ever do jettison this pair we will probably just bring up another guy who can’t pitch, like Josh Edgin, so what’s the difference? Scott seems like a good guy, let him accrue a little more service time, I guess. John, too. It’s not like these games count.

Jimmy:

In year four of Sandy, there’s really no relief help in AAA, but the state of the system is a topic for another day. You got anything else? Do you want to send down Ike? Is that only because Sandy finds that making trades are nearly impossible?

Mike:

John-Forsythe-pictured-in-001You forgot the big Forsythe move.

Jimmy:

A favor to Billy Beane, no doubt.

Mike:

But yes, I do want Ike to go down. If Davis were starting I could live with Duda on the roster, because besides pinch hitting he could play a very limited outfield in an emergency. Davis can’t even do that, and neither can Satin. The current roster is insane.

Jimmy:

While we’re tinkering with the roster, we’ve also gotten a good look at Ruben Tejada. Guess what? He looks exactly like Ruben Tejada! I advocated releasing Ruben a while back, because to me he represents a waste of time. Same with Omar Quintanilla. How do we fix that?

Mike:

It’s under control, Eric Campbell is a shortstop now. Why not, it’s an easy position, anybody can play it, right?

Jimmy:

Yes, I saw that they gave him a start in Vegas. The word “flubbed” was used in one description I read. It reminds me of Little League, where everybody gets a chance to pitch. “Hey Eric, have you ever played shortstop? Wilmer just tried it, now it’s your turn. Go on out there and give it a try. It’ll be fun!”

screen-shot-2012-05-16-at-12.17.56-am-580x580In the meantime, I’ve got a t-shirt to break out of mothballs . . .

 

 

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2 Guys Talking: Sandy Finds a Keeper in Anthony Recker

Recker trot

Jimmy:

Anthony Recker really impressed me on Saturday night, and I’m not talking about the 13th-inning, game-winning homer. It was his post-game comments about Jose Velverde’s blown save.

Said Recker:

“Obviously, it’s great to be able to pick him up. We want him to have confidence every time he goes out there — because, let’s face it, he’s a pretty darn good pitcher. So we don’t want to lose that. Jose wasn’t able to come through tonight, but I know he will next time. He’s been there before. He’s been through the good and the bad. He’s a veteran, and he’ll be OK. We just look forward to moving on from here and getting some more wins.”

To me, those are the exact right words to say. Total belief, complete support, rallying behind a teammate.

And then, of course, the HR was nice, too.

Mike:

Yes, because it was Saturday night and I was running out of time watching that game. I still needed to go clubbing.

clubbing

Jimmy:

Oh, are the kids today still doing the funky chicken?

As fate would have it, the Mets picked up Recker on a tip from Billy Beane, who drafted the catcher back in 2005. Oakland traded Recker to the Cubs in August, 2012, who placed him on waivers two months later. That’s around the time Billy whispered in Sandy’s ear.

Anthony Recker came to the Mets at age 29 with a total of 66 MLB at-bats on his resume. So far, I’ve been impressed. The mark of a good backup catcher is that you don’t notice that he’s out there — and you certainly don’t want the pitchers to complain. I understand that last year Shaun Marcum lobbied to get Anthony out of the lineup, but overall that has not been my impression. He seems good enough back there, even gunning down the Reds’ speed merchant, Billy Hamilton, in a game earlier this season. Offensively, Recker’s hit and miss (mostly miss), but he’s a backup catcher, so that’s expected.

It’s nice that some of the hits can travel.

Mike:

Early last year I was concerned about Recker, due to the Marcum thing. Eventually it became Runway modelobvious Marcum was a cranky old guy who complained about everything. Shaun needs to remember that complaining is not his job, us bloggers have that covered.

Jimmy:

Oh, yes we do! That’s our bailiwick, Marcum. We pee’d on that tree.

Mike:

Anyway, by mid-season 2013 Recker had won me over, I can’t say it’s love, more like strong fondness, but it was real. Although Anthony has never shown he can connect with a baseball much, he has shown that when he does he can make it fly.

Although I am currently in recovery (over 900 days, but it’s always one day at a time), I was a fantasy baseball addict for over 20 years. A quick lesson from those days was that most catchers can’t hit at all. Not even starting catchers. When it comes to backup catchers, it’s a truly brutal inventory. So if you can find a guy who swings from his heels and can hit a home run once in a while it’s a big advantage. When the choice is a player who cannot get on base with no power, or with power, the player with power looks like a runway model.

Jimmy:

Ha, I wondered how you’d justify putting up that photo. It wasn’t long ago that we had Mike Nickeas in that job.

Ya’ll remember Mike Nickeas?

Former Mets backup catcher, Mike Nickeas. No one's idea of a runway model.

Former Mets backup catcher, Mike Nickeas. No one’s idea of a runway model.

-

Terry is not one to rest his regulars, but I’d like to see him do it more often. Already TC is complaining about travel and the tough schedule and the cramped leg room on airplanes, but he rarely gives his players a day off. Surely Ruben Tejada could sit, and sit more often. Omar had a good game on Saturday, get him out there again. Let Ruben watch. Again: It’s only Ruben Tejada. I’m a big fan of Travis d’Arnaud, but it’s a long season; get Anthony Recker more time behind the dish. Same for Granderson, same for Murphy. A little rest can be  positive all around. Play the whole team by design, rest regulars proactively, not just grudgingly when it’s five games too late.

 

 

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The View From My Timeline: John Lannan First Baseman, Some Travis Optimism, a POV on PEDs, and the Mets Screw their Planholders Again

Not a bad week of baseball, the Mets going 3-3 this week. It only feels like it was 1-5 because on a day that the Mets needed length from Bartolo Colon, well, length is not the dimension you get from Bartolo. Fingers crossed, as the team heads to Arizona. Personally I’m still a little beat from Saturday’s marathon, followed by a Sunday day game. I don’t handle a day game after a night game as well these days, so I am relying on my trusty twitter timeline for some of the meat in the post today. Every day there are good observations to be found from the Mets twitter crowd, here are a few.

If you can’t joke about the first base situation you are taking life too seriously. I woke up Sunday morning to a chuckle from Greg Prince of Faith and Fear in Flushing.

And as it turned out, why not? Things couldn’t have went much worse, for the Mets, or Lannan.

When you follow a baseball team it is important to search for the positives, even when things are going badly. Earlier in the week, when it looked like Travis d’Arnaud would never get a hit, the Blue and Orange Nation went glass half full.

Thankfully Travis has had some success since then and folks have eased off the ledge. A little.

The Mets were in town on the anniversary of Hank Aaron’s then record breaking 715th home run Tuesday. This began a day of predictable debate about who is the real homerun king. I do not get too crazy about this, but can never get to the point of view that PEDs do not matter. Here is a somewhat related tweet from Lou Merloni, now a radio host in Boston, answering a troll who tweeted that Lou was not half the player Francisco Cervelli is.

If the majority of players really are clean they should be pushing for all kinds of stringent punishment. The clean players are the victims here, everyone else is sitting on the sidelines watching.

One more, and this one hits home for me. The Mets announced some drastic price cuts for individual tickets, in “honor” of Shea Stadium’s anniversary. I saw a lot of celebrating about that from folks looking for a good deal, and I get that completely. I also saw tweets like this one from the Mets Police.


I hear you, Shannon, but where have you been, it’s not new. I gave up my season tickets following the 2009 season and my Saturday plan (I had both for 25 years) after 2011. I will still go to games, but will never buy an extended plan from this team again as long as this bunch owns the team. They will never play me for the fool again.

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