Jake deGrom ROY, Big Bartolo, Mejia’s Antics, Montero in the Pen, and the EY Jr. Farewell Tour

New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies

Overall, I do not find these games very interesting, even the “big” 8-2 stretch. Talk about too little too late. But there are individual items of interest, and so a few quick hits from the last few days.

- About a week ago I wrote about some nice individual stories from 2014 and didn’t mention Jake deGrom. The fact is deGrom is not a nice story from 2014 he is the big story of the year. Last night he added to it with a dominating performance for six innings against the Marlins. Sadly he was nicked up literally and figuratively in the seventh, but hopefully he continued to garner national attention. The numbers are piling up for Jake and they are very impressive. Rookie of the Year impressive.

- Bartolo Colon is old and getting older every day. We are getting close to the end of the year and his season has been, in a word, fine. Not special, not terrible by any means. But when you look at his salary for 2015, combined with the age, I don’t see him as much of a commodity this winter. I expect Colon back, which is okay, but it would be a lot more okay if this team had a larger payroll. When Colon was signed I compared it to when Omar Minaya signed Orlando Hernandez, as a signing that made sense for a big market team trying to win right away.

el duque

It’s funny, Omar Minaya used to get killed (understandably) for giving extra years to players when the market didn’t dictate doing so. Sandy Alderson has a reputation for being prudent because he doesn’t spend money that he doesn’t have, but when he had a few bucks he did two “Omar type” deals with Colon and Granderson.

- Mejia’s antics, which got some ink this weekend, aren’t for me. Honest emotion in a huge ChoreographyDesignProject2013bspot is one thing, but clearly this is not that, it is choreography. But I also know we live in a “check me out” world and it’s not going back. So, I’m not outraged or anything when Jenrry does his thing, and if Bryce Harper was, well, that’s just silly. I just think the coolest guy is the one who walks off the mound like it was nothing special, because he has so much confidence he expects to blow everyone away. It’s all a matter of taste.

- Eric Young Jr. was dusted off and used for a few days. The thing is, den Dekker was out with an injury, and the rules state you must play three outfielders. Is it really important whether Kirk Niewenhuis, 27 years old, gets a few more at bats? And Eric Campbell, seriously, what do you think he is? Just let Terry, or Sandy, or Jeff, or Saul, or whoever is making out the lineup card have this one. Life is way too short to get upset about it. I can’t make a compelling argument that any of the above gives the team a better chance to win. As for 2015, this is how it is going to go down. Young is due to make more than the league minimum, and Kirk is out of options and only due the league minimum. So Kirk will be on the 2015 roster, and EY needs to be working on his resume. Just ask Justin Turner.

- Rafael Montero was moved to the bullpen. I hope he sees some work there, which is not a new point of view for me.

- Vic Black might be done for 2014 with a fatigued shoulder.  Hopefully it is nothing serious, but all the more reason to look at Rafael in the pen. We might really need another arm or two out there next year, and do any of us really want to see the 2015 versions of Farnsworth and Valverde?

kyle-farnsworth-getty

 

 

 

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When Travis d’Arnaud Stopped Listening . . . and Started to Hit

Travis d'ArnaudJimmy:

Want to hear my half-baked theory on Travis d’Arnaud, Mike?

Mike:

Hey, I’ve heard so many by now, what’s one more?

Jimmy:

I offer only conjecture. I am not, you are aware, “in the know.” Yet I deserve some leeway on this topic since I correctly predicted the path of d’Arnaud’s season thus far. I was so right even the great Metstradamus was impressed. Back on March 30th, I made two predictions about d’Arnaud:

1) Travis d’Arnaud spends too much time with Dave Hudgens, begins to look tentative and confused at the plate, at which point Hudgens sagely nods and says, “Exactly, grasshopper!”

2) After struggles and bad stretches, Travis d’Arnaud establishes himself as a quality major league catcher, hits above .280 in second-half of the season.

You have to admit, at least I got that one right.

Mike:

Blind squirrel syndrome!

blind squirrelJimmy:

Yes, and that nut was delicious! So this is what I think happened to Travis. He hit all his career, always could hit. Then he got into the Mets system and got an earful of talk about the “right” approach, deep counts and hunting strikes. When he finally reached Flushing, and the challenge of Major League hitting, he became confused. We saw it ourselves. So many bad at-bats, where he took fastballs down the plate. He seemed far too passive to me.

I truly believe that he thought himself into paralysis — aided and abetted by the Mets’ emphasis on the approach. Only swinging at the ripest pitches.

Well, it didn’t work. Travis was a mess, and a failure. At a certain point, after his demotion to AAA, he must have realized that his entire career was at stake.

The dream was slipping away.

And at the point, Travis said to myself, “Screw listening to those guys, I’m going to be myself.”

Mike:

Former Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens

Former Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens

It’s also worth noting that his previous “hitting” instructor, Dave Hudgens, was not in Las Vegas, and is no longer in New York.

Jimmy:

Travis decided, in other words, that if he was going to go down, he’d go down swinging.

To me, that’s the biggest change in his game. He’s the aggressor now. I saw a game in Cincinnati when he swung at the first pitch in three straight at-bats. This isn’t a guy trying to please his coaches anymore. No, he’s trying to get base hits.

Mike:

And I checked, those are still good, too.

Jimmy:

There are other narratives. That he finally “got comfortable” and so on. I’m sure there’s been a variety of factors. But I really believe he needed to embrace the “see ball, hit ball” concept. It worked for Piazza! Importantly, his power has come, and that makes perfect sense. We’ve exposed the myth of the deep count, in terms of power. Slugging percentages plummet after a hitter gets two strikes. We’ve seen that slugging goes up early in the count, particularly on the first pitch. We saw this with Duda, too, and I wrote about it.

Mike:

lucas-duda-5-baronWhen it comes to Duda, I am surprised that being more aggressive has fit him this well. When you look at Lucas the idea fits his stature, but his personality is so mild mannered that I wondered if he was a player who meshed well with the Mets “approach.” Also, I did think he was pretty good to begin with. I guess I didn’t want to paint Lucas with my old Frank Thomas brush and assume he needed to be an aggressive hitter just because he was a big guy. In my own way, I was also affected by his size. But you know me, at my core I want big guys hacking! I love this version of Duda.

Jimmy:

And it’s not like he’s a hacker. With the exception of breaking pitches down and in, his eye is extremely good. The biggest difference in Duda, beyond the fact that he’s letting it fly more often, is that he’s got an everyday job. He’s not fumbling in RF, falling down in LF. He’s playing where he belongs, every day. His AB and OBA are not far off his career numbers. Where he’s made the big jump is in his slugging. That’s where he had to make his mark. It wasn’t going to be his ability to go first to third on a single to right-center. It had to be by hitting the ball over the wall. And you don’t do that when nursing a two-strike count. The facts prove it. Statistically, the longer the AB lasts, the less likely he’s going to hit for power.

This is from my July 3rd post:

When Lucas Duda swings at the first pitch (and puts it into play, presumably), which he has done 28 times this season, his slash line is .464/.464/.893.

Got that? An OPS of 1.357.

Yet this is the guy we like because he works deep counts? That’s so wrong.

Up 1-0 in the count, he has swung and put the ball into play only 13 times, with this result: .538/.538/1.462.

Down 0-1, he’s swung 23 times: .435/.458/.522. Again, amazingly productive early in the AB.

Swing the bat, Lucas.

For stark comparison, look at this:

  • AFTER 1-1: .171/.290/.324
  • AFTER 2-1: .197/.345/.352
  • AFTER 3-1: .217/.471/.391
  • AFTER 0-2: .233/.353/.395
  • AFTER 1-2: .145/.268/.261
  • AFTER 2-2: .136/.313/.182

Mike:

That’s two nuts in one post, so I have to relent and admit you at least have impaired vision. Seriously, good stuff.

That point you made up above about it also helping Duda, a sensitive guy, to stop being publicly humiliated in the outfield, that should not be underestimated either. Lucas himself admitted how much he hated being out there. But the good news is that although it took way too long, Lucas got his clear shot at his only logical position, and he has come through in a big way.

It’s a huge positive for the team, and these two players, d’Arnaud and Duda, might be our future number four and five hitters for years to come.

Travis d'Arnaud

 

 

 

 

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Help Wanted

Jef Wilponleigh-castergine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there was some more Wilpon news this week, as Leigh Castergine has filed suit against the Mets, claiming that she was harassed by Jeff Wilpon. The details of her claim can be found here. Now I have never been in a room with any of these people, and therefore I cannot verify or repudiate her charges. One of my sources did forward me a draft of a job description for an open position in MLB that did make me wonder. Unfortunately the team is not listed, so I can’t be sure it is related.

 

Description:

A well-known major league baseball team is seeking an experienced individual to act as Senior Vice President of ticket sales.

Responsibilities:

- Create a campaign to sell overpriced tickets to gullible customers.

-  Convince a beaten down customer base that better days are right around the corner.

-  Get coffee for team COO.

-  Pick up dry cleaning for team COO.

-  Light dusting and cleaning.

Qualifications:

Team is seeking a man, a married woman, or barren woman with the following:

- Prior experience in the funeral industry required.

- Experience in the cruise industry is highly desired, experience with boats that have sunk is preferred.

- Being good at handling index cards a plus.

- A natural talent for accepting blame is needed, even when something is not your fault.

- Ability to work with difficult people mandatory.

Weird, but this could just be a coincidence too.

 

 

 

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In Memory of 9/11/2001

I worked in an office in September 2001 on the 20th floor in western Queens. I had a magnificent view of Manhattan from that office. On September 11 I was behind schedule and got in slightly after nine. I quickly went to my phone to call someone about a work issue. I did not look out my office window, because the funny thing about wonderful views are that you take them from granted. As soon as the guy on the other end answered I started right in, and he said,

“Mike, shut up and look out your window!!!!!!”

I saw the North Tower on fire, and within twenty seconds, while we were both still on the phone, I saw the second plane crash into the South Tower.  And that started a day that I will never forget.

That is my quick message today, thirteen years later. Never forget. Because like most people I had it easy. I was nowhere near ground zero. So many others were, and way too many never made it out of there. Many others have suffered and also died due to their efforts to clean up the area.

They say time heals all wounds, but some need to remain a little fresh.

Never forget.

Never Forget (1)

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NEWS ITEM: Mets To Wear Special Patch in Honor of Bobby Abreu

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NEWS ITEM: The Mets announced today that the team will wear a special patch honoring Bobby Abreu on their caps and jerseys starting on Sunday for “Bobby Abreu Day” at Citi Field. The Mets will honor their abysmal pinch-hitter with a pregame ceremony before taking on the Nationals. The team is encouraging fans — or really, anybody still out there with eight bucks and a pulse — to be in their seats by noon for the ceremony. The game is scheduled to begin at 1:05 p.m. It is understood if fans decline to stay for the game. Sunday’s are kind of busy.

At 4 p.m., or immediately after the game finally ends, SNY plans to air “Bobby Abreu: Salute 2 Hanging On Too Long,” a two-hour special featuring Chris Carlin’s one-on-one interview with the not-quite Hall of Famer and interviews with people instrumental to his growth, including enough Phillies to make you vomit in your mouth.
-
Explained Mets VP in Charge of These Dumb Announcements, John Ricco, “We just felt like the patch — and the commemorative hats, on sale at the Citi Field store or online at mets.com! — would be a fitting way to honor Bobby’s retirement. And let’s face it: We all really, really hope he retires. Because clearly he’s toast. And if we can make a few bucks on the side, hey, sue us, okay? It’s been a tough year all around.”
-

The patch will be worn on the right uniform shoulder and will read:

BOBBY ABREU

New-York-Mets-Need-Help-of-40-Year-Old-Bobby-Abreu-Metropolitan-Avenue

STILL TAKING PITCHES!

Paul DePodesta, the nerdy one with glasses, began the press conference by stating to the gathered media, “This is not some fawning, sanctimonious cash grab and I resent the looks on your faces. This isn’t the Bronx!”

Paul DePodesta.

Paul DePodesta.

DePodesta added, “If the Phillies can steal away Tug McGraw and Lenny Dykstra from the Mets organization, inducting them into the Phillies Hall of Fame, we feel it’s only fair if we make Bobby Abreu a Met forever. May he now take his rightful place beside Juan Samuel in beloved Mets lore. There’s even been talk of erecting a statue outside Citi Field. After all, Bobby hit 288 home runs and 1,363 RBI over his esteemed career, slashing .291/.395/.475 across 18 remarkable seasons. And let’s not forget his contributions as a Met, that one glorious home run, sigh, those 14 RBI (nearly 1.5% of his career total!), and his 2-31 BA as a pinch-hitter — WITH THREE WALKS!”

In related news, plans are under way for a Josh Satin Wash-off Tatoo Day, in honor of his hitting approach which Sandy Alderson loooves so f**king much it makes us all sick. The guy can’t hit! The guy can’t hit!!! Details to come.

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2014 Stories: Glass Half Full Version

sunshine and rosesThere has been some lamenting from us here about the state of the Mets again this September. 2014 hasn’t exactly been all sunshine and roses. But there were football games on Saturday, Sunday, and again last night, which is a reminder that before long there will be no baseball. And I still remember 1994; bad baseball beats no baseball. So I am going to lighten up today, and focus on some of my favorite stories of the 2014 Mets season. Because before I know it, it will be winter.

- Travis d’Aranud. This story started out badly, but thankfully d’Arnaud went to Las Vegas for a spell and came back a changed guy. He came back as the guy we heard about the day we traded R.A. Dickey for Travis and friends. We are a little spoiled as Mets fans because we have had Carter and Piazza, but good hitting catchers are hard to find. Please Mets, leave him behind the plate.

- Lucas Duda. If your name is not Brian Joura of Mets360 and you thought Duda would hit like this, I want to see some proof. Lucas certainly exceeded my expectations, and he has the rarest of talents seen in baseball these days. Big power.

- Dilson Herrera. Hey, it’s fun to get to watch a real prospect in September, and even more so when the player does some good things. We all need reasons to dream.

Daniel+Murphy+Gatorade+Star+Workout+Day+lca0YrbhpLZl- Daniel Murphy. His season is ending on a down note, but a professional hitter had himself an All-Star season. You can look it up. Good for him, and boy, does it seem like a lifetime ago when Mike Francesa was getting himself worked up because Murphy was going to miss Opening Day.

- Zack Wheeler. It’s natural to keep focusing on what Wheeler might become. In the meantime he pitched pretty great this year. If Zack has another level to him, wonderful, I would gladly sign up for his 2014 performance over and over.

- Familia and Mejia. Young power arms in the back of the bullpen. Hallelujah.

That is not it, but that is it from me today. If any items that I missed are more important to you than the ones I mentioned, I get that. And we have a comments section. But I am going to stop at this time, because there is only so much time in the day, and I want to watch the game tonight.

Soon there won’t be any.

 

 

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The Wilpon Family Holds the New York Mets Hostage

Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz, Jeff WilponSince Bernie Madoff drained the Wilpon family of their ability to properly fund the operation of the team, the New York Mets have limped along, with no end in sight to their issues. Despite this, the team has great value on the open market, due to the fact that it is one of only two major league baseball franchises in the massive metropolitan area. The current owners have a large debt overhang, with associated interest payments, which is hurting cash flow and profitability. But the underutilized revenue opportunities currently associated with the Mets could quickly be eliminated by any new owner, as the payback on investing in the team would stand to be tremendous. As an example, the Los Angeles Dodgers (in a similar bind as the McCourt family could not properly fund the team) unleashed new revenues quickly once the team was sold and reinvestment in the franchise occurred. Watching the Dodgers situation play out has frustrated many Mets fans, as the commissioner of baseball, Bud Selig, helped to force the Dodger resolution, while simultaneously turning a blind eye to the mess in Queens. For today I will skip worrying about Selig’s role in all of this, since I am not focusing on why the Wilpons are not being expected to run their team appropriately by Major League Baseball. Instead I want to focus on why the Wilpon family wants to retain majority control of the Mets.

The prevailing narrative, of course, is that Fred Wilpon wants to bequeath the Mets as a “family heirloom” to his son Jeff. The story that gets floated is that Fred is a lifetime baseball fan from Brooklyn and that nothing is more important to him than leaving the precious Mets to his son. This narrative, like most floated by the family (remember, “Madoff will have no effect on the Mets”) doesn’t hold water. It sounds nice, but what good is being the majority owner of the Mets these days? The team is bad, and without real capital injections it doesn’t ever stand to improve much. After six losing seasons in a row, the fan base is angry and/or apathetic. Scared to make public statements, the family mostly sandy_alderson-300x300hides behind a former Harvard lawyer skilled in the art of disinformation.  And, with revenues crashing and the team’s debt expenses unsolvable, there is no real fix in sight. In the case of the Wilpon family, owning the New York Mets is like owning a toxic mess without the tools to clean it up. Why would any father want to leave that type of unfinished business to his son? It makes no sense. So, if the family is not retaining the control of the team for this reason, why not sell it already? The Mets have value, the equity of the team is still great enough to wipe out the Wilpons’ debt and leave them with hundreds of millions to spare. The answer, it appears, can be found just outside Citi Field, in the parking lot.

We have written about the questionable Willets Point project before. Not so much that redevelopment of this land is needed, most feel it is, but why would this particular family be involved in this huge project at this time? If the Wilpon family cannot find the funds to properly invest in a baseball team, how can they properly build a multi-billion dollar megaproject? Again, look just outside Citi Field in the parking lot for the answer.

willets-devw

You see, the Willets Point redevelopment project is a partnership between the Related Cos. and the Wilpon family’s Sterling Equities. It has seemed pretty straightforward all along what the Related Cos. brings to this partnership – - money and solvency. But what the Related Cos. (and everyone else besides the Wilpons) do not have is the ability to build on the site. It was ceded to the owners of the New York Mets way back in 1961. That means anyone who wants to build in the area can’t do it without the Wilpons.

That is what this is all about. Fred Wilpon is not worried about the New York Mets. Saul Katz is not worried about the New York Mets. They are worried about maintaining control of the franchise for as long as it takes to build on the parkland they control, parkland that has been conservatively valued at $1 billion.

Basically the New York Mets are hostage to a real estate deal. The Mets do not have to be good for the Wilpon family to control the land. They don’t even have to be profitable. They just have to belong to them.

Once you understand that, it all makes sense. The goal is to hold the team until Willets Point is done. With little money available, thanks to “Uncle” Bernie, a cost cutter is brought in to slash expenses and lower the annual cash flow risk of owning. All that matters is generating enough money to hang on and pay the creditors. Eventually, once the mall is built, they can sell if they want.

And sure, if somehow the team wins on the cheap and makes even more money, all the better. In the meantime, they also will keep trying to squeeze every last dime out of any customers they can generate. No matter what, the New York Mets always have the metropolitan market they were named after going for them. So yes, the owners are interested in the franchise, as long as we all understand they aren’t going to actually do much to assist with the situation.

They have bigger fish to fry, right outside the park.

Citi Field Parking Lot

 

 

 

 

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2 Guys Talking: The Minor League Playoffs & Other (Minor) Catastrophes

Las Vegas 51s mascotMike:

Have you gotten Mets playoff fever yet Jimmy? All over the country, in Binghamton, Savannah, and even way out yonder in Las Vegas, New York Mets affiliates are participating in minor league playoff series.

Jimmy:

The short answer, Mike, is that I don’t give a rat’s ass. And I say that as someone who follows the Mets closely, reads up on the prospects, dreams a little. But, really, I’m not that big of a sucker. On Thursday night, the dumb Las Vegas team got 4 hits, including two from Anthony Seratelli and hits from Taylor Teagarden and, yes, Kevin Plawecki. The hitting star was Mike Jacobs, who clubbed a grand slam. Yes, that Mike Jacobs, the ex-Met. Then he hit a three-run bomb the next night off — wait for it — 28-year-old Miquel Freaking Socolovich, of the career 16 ML innings.

I guess it could be argued that it’s good experience for Noah Syndergaard. Okay, sure, why not? But if we want him to have experiences, maybe he could try wind surfing on the Red Sea or building irrigation ditches in Somalia. Or, wait, how about pitching in the Major Leagues? My bet is that like Harvey and Wheeler before him, Noah is a little bored down on the farm.

Mike:

When you are a fan of a major league team the combination of baseball’s arcane September 40-man rosters (a topic for another day soon) and your team’s Triple-A affiliate making the playoffs can be a frustrating combination. If your affiliate does make the playoffs, it is hard to justify bringing up prospects from that team. One issue would be alienating the affiliate relationship, as they have tickets to sell to those games. Current Mets history is showing us how damaging that can be for a team. Of course, since the Mets are already stuck in the armpit of all of organized baseball, they are the one team where this is not a factor in any of their decisions.

1975 Tidewater TidesThe other argument is that there is value in playing playoff baseball of any kind, the intensity of a short series with a lot on the line. It’s not a new one either, I remember rooting against the old Tidewater affiliates as far back as the early 70s, knowing that I would have to wait longer to see certain players if Tidewater made the playoffs. Overall, I do grudgingly see the point of keeping guys down if an affiliate has made it to the minor league “dance.”

Jimmy:

I graduated high school in 1979. I remember being a fan in the early 80′s, and the only encouraging news was the Mets minor league system. Teams were winning down there, coming through the ranks together, a fact that seemed meaningful. Even better, there were stars on those teams. Lynchburg and Tidewater and so on. A couple of years later, fueled by that young talent — and managed by Davey Johnson, who knew those players first-hand — that same championship attitude came to Flushing.

Our readers don’t need us to go into detail about the value of imported players like Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez, or the importance of a #1 overall draft selection. The situations are as different as night and day. But I’m saying, okay, I’m not completely immune to the value of competing in the minor league playoffs.  But you absolutely must look at how these teams are winning, and with whom. When teams win with the Brian Burgamys and T.J. Riveras of the world, my pulse remains steady. I mean, that’s nice for the people of Binghamton. Lord knows they could use the distraction. But hell, ancient Bobby Abreu batted 3rd for Vegas last night, a team that “earned” 9 walks and 3 runs.

Mike:

This is all fairly straightforward for me. The success or failure of a minor league system is based on producing successful major league players. That is its purpose. Everything else is hot air.  When I see a tweet like the following from Paul dePodesta, l just shake my head and laugh.

One thing that you will always notice about a baseball executive that is bragging about teams winning meaningless minor league games. The major league team always sucks.

Jimmy:

Yes, the old misdirection ploy; pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. To be honest, this ties into the final 30-35 games of the New York Mets season. They just don’t matter. I mean, sure, it’s good for the players to play. We gain a little more insight into their abilities. I can watch any baseball game and enjoy it. But to me, as a fan, the team has already revealed itself. Let’s look at the team records over the last 4 years at the 125 game mark:

  • 2011: 60-65
  • 2012: 57-68
  • 2013: 58-67
  • 2014: 59-66

Rinse, repeat. The same old shit. Yet I saw a fan Tweet on Saturday morning, giddy from the 5-HR display on Friday night: “14-7 gets us  to .500!”

Or, we’re only one game back of the Miami Marlins!

Or, even worse, we’re two games up on the red-hot Phillies!

Or, worst of all, a strong finish could save Terry Collins’ job!

It doesn’t matter. I mean to say: Like Pierre from Maurice Sendak’s perfect little book, “I don’t care!”

sendakThese 2014 Mets could finish 7-14, 10-11, or 14-7 down the stretch. As someone who picked this team for 79 wins (noting a weak division, with 38 games vs. Philadelphia and Miami), I feel satisfied that  I was in the ballpark. Whether they win 72 or 82 games, the essence of the team has not changed. And Terry remains Terry. A guy who should be out of a job. It’s amazing to once again be in the weird place of hoping for another Jeff Wilpon intervention; Jeff, the man who overruled Alderson and forced him to fire his good buddy, Dave Hudgens. Do we really need Jeff Wilpon to step in again? How frightening is that? Jeff Wilpon, the sanest guy in the room!

Mike:

It would be as dumb as setting up spring training as a battleground to settle a three-year position player battle. I guess no team is that dumb!

ike-davis-lucas-duda-5-baron

 

 

 

 

 

Jimmy:

One final rant: I hate, Hate, HATE when managers get praised when their team still “plays hard.” As if there’s an alternative. Is Matt den Dekker going to coast through this thing? Imagine if the team didn’t play hard, that would be a travesty. A matter of disgust. Inexcusable. Is the bar set that low? The team still seems to be trying? Trophies for everybody!

Mike:

These guys get paid to do this for a living, and unlike other true team sports, baseball is really a series of individual activities. The pitcher is on his own, the hitter is on his own and when the ball is hit to you it is yours to catch. There isn’t really much choice but to try, or be exposed and need a new career.

Once a team is playing out the string everything needs to be looked at through a revised lens. September baseball is a different animal as the intensity of each game varies depending on whether or not a team is in the race. Again, though, everyone is playing for a contract, not many batters are going to throw away an at-bat. Individual actions are worth noting, but the value of the overall team performance drops. Even as a fan your perspective changes. It becomes more interesting to watch a Dilson Herrara at-bat because you want to see if there is something there, etc.

In the end you have to take what you are given in life, and the gulf between watching playoff race baseball and under .500 slog ball is wide. As a Mets fan it is extremely frustrating as it has become an annual affair, negating much of the value of season after season. The hope becomes that one day someone associated with the team can take the kind of pride in the major league team that DePodesta is taking in the Mets affiliates. For now, there is nothing else but hoping and wishing.

Once again there will be no playoff games at Citi Field.

wait-300x225

 

 

 

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Top 10 Reasons Why the Mets Extended Their Partnership with Las Vegas 51s

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Last week, the Mets organization signed a two-year extension with their third-rate minor league affiliate in Las Vegas, where they’ve played since 2013. Before that: Buffalo (4 years), New Orleans (2 years), and Tidewater/Norfolk (37 years, until Jeff Wilpon shit the bed).

And then there’s this from a WSJ article:

Jef WilponDave Rosenfield was Norfolk’s general manager when it became the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate in 1969 (it was named Tidewater then) and was still on the job when the Mets left in late 2006. Only a one-hour flight from New York, Norfolk was perfectly suitable for the Mets. And for decades, the two got along well enough. But Rosenfield said the relationship soured after Jeff Wilpon became the Mets’ chief operating officer in 2002, after which communication with team officials became “virtually nonexistent.”

“When he became involved in everything was when things changed,” Rosenfield said. “I dealt with him on some things and somebody always had to go to him if you wanted to do anything. He had his nose and hands in everything.”

This great article by Brian Costa, also in the WSJ, had some spectacular quotes, but let’s begin with the lead:

LAS VEGAS—For Mets minor leaguers, the last stop before the majors is a dilapidated ballpark 2,200 miles away from Citi Field. It is nestled along a row of abandoned lots and boarded up storefronts 5 miles north of the Las Vegas Strip, just past a motel sign that reads “Elvis Slept Here.”

Cashman Field is the home of the Las Vegas 51s, the Mets’ new Triple-A affiliate. And for a Northeast team whose rebuilding plan hinges on the development of its young pitchers, there is no worse place to be.

  • “Basically, I can define it as the worst pitching place imaginable,” reliever Greg Burke said.
  • “They got no water out here,”  Wally Backman said.
  • “It’s ridiculous how dry the balls are. It’s hard to get a good grip on it,” said Zack Wheeler.
  • “There are two types of amenities: player-development amenities and fan amenities,” explained President/COO Don Logan. “And we’re lacking in both.”

And now, folks, our top 10 reasons why the Mets extended their partnership in Las Vegas!

10. It keeps Fredo — we mean, Jeff! — out of harm’s way.

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9.   It’s so hot, the field actually has a giant mister for the fans! Isn’t that neat?!

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8.  “We have a great partnership with the city of Las Vegas,” explained Sandy Alderson.

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7.  Bargain deal!

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6.  Jeff just can’t get enough of Cirque du Soleil!

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5.  “Maintaining continuity in Vegas is something we know will benefit the players, the city, fans, and entire community,” explained Sandy Alderson. [But not necessarily in that order, ZING!]

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4. What happens in Vegas . . . stays in Vegas. Or at least until after Super 2!

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3. “We have a strong working relationship with many of the front office personnel with the Mets,” said 51s President/COO Don Logan.

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2. Cheap, direct flights to NY.

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1. Good friends stick together! “I’ve known Sandy Alderson for more than 20 years,” said 51s President/COO Don Logan.
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Oh, and let’s not forget reason #317 . . . BASEBALL!

 

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In Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson Has Exactly the Kind of Manager He Wants — A Puppet on Strings

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The Houston Astros made news by firing their manager, Bo Porter, calling for a “new direction in our clubhouse.” It was an item that might have surprised some observers, since the Astros are on the upswing this season, on target to gain roughly 20 wins over 2013′s brutal 51-111 season.

Again, that’s a 15-20 win improvement.

Forgive Terry Collins if he isn’t mopping his brow right now, thinking, “Jeepers! Thank goodness I don’t work in a tough, results-oriented environment like Houston!”

The surface explanation for the firing came in a statement from Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow:

“This decision was not made because of our current level of competitiveness in the Major Leagues. I recognize that our win-loss record is largely a product of an organizational strategy for which I am responsible. Rather, I made this decision because I believe we need a new direction in our clubhouse.”

Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal cited ongoing tensions between the GM and manager, with Porter complaining about a lack of input and “excessive second-guessing” from his superiors.

One can only conclude that Bo Porter had not read the fine print in the current job description of MLB manager, particularly where it concerns one with a low profile. It’s a middle management job nowadays, with good dental and fringe benefits, but if they ask you to take out the garbage, you don’t question the directive. You take out the garbage without complaint.

One nuanced point that no Mets fan should miss: Now that Porter is gone, the focus shifts squarely on the shoulders of Luhnow. The Astros owner, Jim Crane, is watching his GM and expects results. A stark contrast to what goes on in Flushing these days.

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Which brings us back to Terry Collins’ relationship with Sandy Alderson. There’s no disharmony, since Terry was hired with the understanding that he would gratefully play second fiddle.

When Sandy says, “Jump!” Terry doesn’t bristle. He doesn’t complain. He asks, “How high?” At which point Sandy grins, pokes Paul DePodesta with an elbow, and laughs, “Aw, relax, Terry. We’re only goofing on you. And by the way, here’s today’s instructions . . .”

To be clear, here at “2 Guys” we’ve always been in agreement on this point. We’ve postulated that Terry is a drone to Sandy’s Queen Bee. it’s not that we believe Terry doesn’t make any decisions. We just don’t believe he makes any meaningful ones. This is Sandy Alderson’s team, his roster, his farm system, his rules. For example, when Dilson Herrera gets called up, or Wilmer Flores and Matt den Dekker suddenly get steady playing time, it comes from a directive from up top. Terry accepts the limited perimeters of his station without complaint, because he’s glad to wear the uniform. Hell, he’s probably amazed he has a job. The oldest manager in MLB now has a record during his time with the Mets of 289-335, wining more than 75 games only once, back in the glory days of 2011. Remember that smell? We were sniffing .500, boys!

Oh, sure. There are blips. The other day Terry spoke out of turn — he forgets sometimes, and prattles on in front of the microphones — and disclosed that he’d been discussing with “the staff” (his insane) idea of moving Travis d’Arnaud to LF sometime in the future. You know, just to devalue him completely. Within 24 hours, Sandy felt the need to set the record straight with a curt, “No, not really.” Alderson did not need to add, “That’s just Terry being Terry, guys. He gets excited sometimes.”

PuppetMasterIn four seasons, the 65-year-old Collins has not managed a single meaningful game. Forget September. Pick a month, any month! Not one game during the reign of Alderson has mattered. Nothing has ever been at stake. So if the captain of the ship is a little batty, if he gets confused sometimes, what difference does it really make?

Even so, there remains an alternative narrative among some fans that Terry Collins is somehow undermining the great, good work of Sandy Alderson. Not so. In Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson has exactly the kind of manager he wants: A puppet on strings.

And that, folks, is today’s headline. Win or lose, there’s harmony in New York.

 

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