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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Something Is Wrong . . . When the Return of Chris Young Fills Mets Fans with Dread

Good news! Chris Young, one of the Mets big free-agent acquisitions of the winter, is close to making his return to the big club. Chris has recovered, rehabbed, and is set to be activated on April 18th against the Braves.

chris-young-625

At the time of this writing, after just 10 games (not including last night’s game), the Mets are 4-6. While the starting pitching has been good, the offense has struggled.

Actually, “struggle” implies putting up a fight, so the connotation is all wrong.

More like: “rolled over in a ditch and drowned in a two-inch puddle of vomit.”

The numbers are offensive all right:

  • Mets slash line: .204/.270/.331/.601
  • Opp. slash line: .258/.324/.414/.738

A few quick facts:

  • The Mets have 3 hitters above .250 
  • Curtis Granderson is hitting .135
  • Travis d’Arnaud is at .129
  • Ruben Tejada, .212
  • Friday night’s clean-up hitter, .167

And on and on it goes.

So one would think that the arrival of Chris Young should be greeted with good cheer and light hearts. Yet if you cast your eyes around the blogosphere and print media, the overall tone from Mets observers is one of dread. A superficial glance at Sports Spyder reveals these articles, which do not begin to account for all the fretful tweets, comments, phone calls, and remarks by Mets announcers:

In essence, how will Mets management handle the “problem” of a crowded outfield? Bubbling below the surface is the nagging fear that the club will bench Juan Lagares. Or, if not that exactly, just generally bungle and mishandle the situation, and screw over its most popular outfielder in the process.

juan-lagares

(This is, by the way, before they call up Bobby Abreu to really make it interesting. And at that point, poor Terry Collins’ head will explode. Decisions, decisions.)

The normal Mets fan does some quick figuring. Let’s see, Curtis Granderson, $60 million. He’s gonna play. Sandy has “promised” — his word — Chris Young regular playing time. Terry seems to really value the speed of Eric Young. Uh-oh.

The crazy thing is, the return of Chris Young should absolutely be a plus for the NY Mets. It’s a good thing. Yet Mets fans have no faith in management making the right decisions. Ya gotta believe? No, we collectively don’t. Sorry, Sandy. Oops, Terry. Not anymore.

This condition is sometimes couched in terms that disrespect the “typical Mets fan.” We are too defeated, too negative, too programmed to expect the worst. As if this is our fault.

0917s5-collins40pThe truth is, we are right to wring our hands with worry. Look at the ridiculous, embarrassing, utterly doofus first base situation. Proof positive that this management group can’t make a decision, any decision. The Mets have had all three first basemen in the organization for a combined total of 19 years.

I repeat: 19 years!

Mets, thy name is Ditherment!

Even so, the spin is that it’s still a “competition.” These guys are 27, 28, and 29 years old.

It is insane. There’s no other word for it. But, okay, “incompetent” will also suffice.

So, yes, Mets fans know better. We’ve seen this movie before. It has a scary ending.

The anxiety associated with the impending arrival of Chris Young underscores that the average Mets fan no longer has faith in management’s ability to manage.

Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson, Dan Warthen, Dave Hudgens. Many of us don’t believe in these guys. We don’t trust their judgment. All they’ve ever done is lose.

You’ve heard of managers being fired for losing the clubhouse. Well, these guys have lost the fanbase. Look at the stands. The empty seats are far more eloquent than any written word. With this organization, that stuff earns extensions.

The return of Chris Young should not be a problem.

Actually, it’s a piece of cake.

Ready?

The starting outfield: LF Chris Young, CF Juan Lagares, RF Curtis Granderson.

End of story.

But if you want more: Super sub, Eric Young, starting an estimated 4 games a week (he can play 2B, too), and a really useful weapon on the bench.

Bk7v2SGCAAAak8r.jpg-medium

It’s easy. Yet many of us wait and wonder, thinking the same thing:

How are these guys going to screw it up this time?

Endnote: We are going to see this same problem — a failure of management to organize the roster for maximum value — to make deals, swap players, pick up and discard — at the starting pitching position.

It’s only a matter of time before we start reading about a 6-man rotation.

 

 

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A New Definition of Insanity

Tejada errorWednesday night Jason Heywood won the first battle of the game and homered, and bang it was 1-0. The next batter, Andrelton Simmons, hit a slow groundball to Ruben Tejada for an infield “hit.” Then Freddie Freeman hits a rocket to the center field wall that nobody in the National League catches but Juan Lagares. One out. After that comes an easy double play ball to short, but Tejada fumbles and hesitates, and Murphy is never going to overcome that. So we get a force play at second. At this point Wheeler gets the message and strikes out an Upton brother. A five out inning, with no errors in the box score to prove it. And the only reason it didn’t cost the team a bunch of runs is because of Lagares, a player who has never been given one single vote of confidence from anyone associated with the team. The message with Juan seems clear, that he lives five or six bad at bats away from a benching.

If yesterday was an isolated incident, that would be one thing, but this is going on daily. All the announcers on SNY are already lamenting what they are forced to watch. On Wednesday Gary Cohen said something along the lines of the following to Ron Darling,

“Do you notice that instead of explaining how the Mets turned a double play we are always explaining why they didn’t?”

Daniel Murphy error

Which was gentle compared to Bob Ojeda. On Tuesday Terry Colllins once again included the words, Lucas Duda, and outfield, in the same sentence. Ojeda got into that quickly on the pregame that night and he was in full “crazy eyes” rant mode. Again, I can’t swear this is an exact quote as the remote wasn’t within reach and I didn’t get it on tape, but it is close, very close, as I was scribbling it down to send to Jimmy:

“Duda cannot play the outfield. He can’t. He just can’t. He cannot play the outfield. You can see it clearly with your eyes. It might not show up on a printout or a graph, but he can’t do it. He cannot play the outfield.”

lucas-duda1-350x233

This observation from Ojeda is not especially keen; the man is just stating the obvious. And in fairness to the world of printouts and graphs, there are reams of defensive statistics that agree with Bobby’s eyes. The argument of playing Duda in the outfield is not an argument between the stats and scouts. It is an argument between the sane and the crazy. That is a huge problem. It’s hard to win an argument with a crazy person.

HomelessSign

At this point, year four of a regime who doesn’t discount defense, but ignores it, I don’t know how to argue it logically any more. It’s nuts to ignore it, but the Mets do. When picking between two players who are offensive clones, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, for first base, the team’s first inclination is to go with the inferior defender. Forget putting a premium on defense, with the Mets it doesn’t even break a tie. The team refutes its existence.

I’m not a huge Stephen Drew fan but now it becomes obvious why the Mets were not going to sign him. Remember, the team was very interested in Jhonny Peralta, a bad defensive shortstop. Paying for a bat intrigued these guys. But one of the positives about Drew is an above average glove. The Mets aren’t going to pay for that, nope, it’s all random, what happens once the ball is put in play. And this is a belief of Mets management that does show a consistent form of madness.

When you look at our current lineup, not only does it include a majority of players who are curtis-granderson strikes outchallenged by balls in play, it also includes a majority of players who cannot put balls in play. There is a nutty irony in this, that the one team that we could defend against is us. Every night our batters strike out over and over, and then those same batters lug their iron gloves out to the field and muff balls put in play by other teams. And the team loses more than it wins, and our stable of young pitching has to work harder than they should just to survive. And, wait. . . .

Sorry, I was trying to argue it again, but there is nothing to discuss. Defense matters, and only a crazy person thinks it doesn’t. An oft repeated quote is, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same result.”

Sure, that might apply here, but forget about that, because there is a new definition of loony.

The new definition of insanity is thinking Lucas Duda can play the outfield.

lucas-duda

 

 

 

 

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Top 13 Things We’ve Learned So Far About the 2014 New York Mets

Jimmy & Mike:

* Oh, maybe now Terry Collins will start to realize why it only took Colin McHugh to get Eric Young.

collin mchugh

 

 

 

 

 

* The first base position will never, ever be resolved by a “competition.” We’ll only witness small sample sizes, meaningless hot streaks and cold streaks. Management must make a decision; it’s that simple.

* If strikeouts bother you, this might not be your team.

curtis-granderson strikes out

* The bullpen is not quite a finished product.

* Bobby Parnell, sadly, reminds us again how dangerous it can be to rely on nothing but pitching.

* When Bartolo Colon pitches, the outfield is going to be kept busy.

* The current Mets infield defense is the old Mets outfield defense. To win at Citi Field, it must be fixed. Defense matters.

Daniel Murphy error

 

 

 

 

 

* Jose Valverde just might turn out to be a fun guy to watch. It’s exciting to see a guy who competes. Fingers crossed he can keep it rolling until at least late June.

jose valverde

* The struggles of Travis d’Arnaud only reinforce the reality that rookies struggle, that it’s rarely easy in the beginning, and that it’s foolish to expect prospects to experience instant success at the MLB level. It takes time.

* Dillon Gee, maturing in front of us, proves the same point. Wilmer Flores, in a different way, too.

* Things that make you go “Hmmm.” Terry Collins apparently does not believe in separating the lefties in the lineup.

things-that-make-you-go-hmmm-00111

 

 

 

 

 

* We don’t know if there’s a stat for it — oh, who are we kidding, there’s probably a stat for it — but the New York Mets must lead baseball in lowest % of balls put into play per pitch. In other words, nothing happens the most when you watch the Mets. Deep counts and strikeouts, it’s like working the clock in basketball. Might be effective, but it can be dull.

* And we’ll resurrect a theme from last season: You never know. Maybe this team figures out a way to win 90 games after all. We can hear Al Michaels now, “Do you believe in unlikelihoods?!

90 wins_thumb

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Pondering Bobby Abreu

abreu las vegasThe Mets signed Bobby Abreu last week, and he is already tearing things up in Las Vegas. Everybody does. Although this team needs offense wherever it can find it, the prospect of Abreu in New York has been frightening to most fans. That makes sense, as it is hard to see how Abreu can help. At this point in his career, Bobby’s defense crosses over from questionable to “Duda-like.” So although Abreu might be a nice alternative as a late game bat, it is not worth it when you consider the glove. Abreu is clearly one dimensional these days.

That got me to thinking how much the game has changed. Somehow, it has become unquestionable to fans that keeping Abreu around to perhaps have one at bat, face one pitcher in a tight game, is not a good idea. Yet, it is considered mandatory that a team keep a left-handed pitcher around, sometimes even two, who are useless for more than a batter at a time. The good old LOOGY.

staub (50)So I wondered, could Abreu actually be more useful in the right role? That role would be like Rusty Staub in 1985, no glove required. That would make him, admittedly, very much a specialist. But that specialist is a weapon, he sits in that dugout ready to be used at the most opportune moment, and just by being there he is useful. And to make the discussion simple, there will be no chance Bobby starts playing ahead of Lagares or anyone else. He is a pinch-hitter deluxe. I’m not trying to add to all the fear mongering.

Let’s contrast this with the incumbent. In an inning Jimmy discussed last week, Scott Rice was scheduled to face one right-handed batter and two lefties. His point of view, which I am agreeing with, is that Rice cannot be used in that situation, that he cannot face any righties. Even one out of three, even when the one is leading off the inning with no one on base. Why is it a given that someone this limited is more worthy of a roster spot than Abreu? Next consider this, Rice is our better LOOGY, we have another one, John Lannan, for less important special circumstances. It was not always this way. Players such as Rusty, Ed Kranepool, Gates Brown, and Smoky Burgess earned their living as pinch-hitter deluxes. During that period, of course, relief pitchers were expected to be able to get out more than one hitter. The roster had 25 men on it then too.

Smoky Burgess

At first glance I can understand the change in philosophy. It lends itself to a belief that in the individual matchup between hitter and pitcher, the pitcher is more important. That is a strong basis, so maybe things are perfect just as they are.

But then I ponder some more. It’s been a strange day, all this thinking about Bobby Abreu. I think there is a fundamental difference between a pinch hitter and a LOOGY. The idea that a pitcher comes to the mound with the same stuff every day does not compute for me. When you look at pitching logs you can see that is not true. When instituting a process where you call for the lefty every time the split dictates it, no matter how the pitcher on the mound has been throwing, this risks breaking something that didn’t need fixing in the first place. The best pitcher might just be the most effective pitcher that day. And if the LOOGY fails, now you immediately need another pitcher. Now, yes, a manager could just ignore who he has in his bullpen but that is tough to do, and when a manager tries that and it fails he is destroyed for not adhering to the percentages.

That same situation does not apply on the offensive side of the ball. If I send up Bobby Abreu to hit for John Lannan, I didn’t really risk anything. And if Abreu fails and strikes out (I know, crazy but it could happen), I don’t have to use another player to bat for the leadoff hitter.

Next came another thought. Every team is carrying all these extra pitchers, say 12 per team, and only 13 position players. This, of course, is why there is now no room for my guy Bobby Zigging and ZaggingAbreu. When Rusty was doing his thing, the 10-man staff was more normal. Well, major league players are a limited commodity, and good players are a rarer commodity than bad ones. It’s not logical to assume there are more talented pitchers than hitters. So if a team swapped their worst pitcher for a hitter, and every other team is doing the opposite, doesn’t that also factor into the equation? Wouldn’t the hitter be a relatively superior player? Isn’t that the idea of Moneyball, to zag when everyone else is zigging?

In the end it’s not like I have an opinion on this that I am ready to fight about on either side of the equation. In this case it is more how odd I find it that everything shifted, and all the teams followed each other like sheep. The new way is universal. Maybe it is that obvious and I am not educated enough on the topic, but it’s the natural contrarian in me. I can’t help it, once I see anything that is considered conventional wisdom I start suspecting it.

I suppose I just feel badly for Bobby Abreu. At one time in history he could have become a beloved Met, someone we would all watch during the game, sitting in our dugout, our secret weapon. Instead, the idea of Abreu being promoted to take one of our few bench spots conjures up images of Freddy Krueger and Leatherface.

Freddy_KruegerLeatherface1974

Abreu

I was going to conclude that poor Bobby was just born at the wrong time, but then I just remembered what has happened to salaries, and how much money Abreu has already earned.

So, never mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Losing Is One Thing, Not Trying Is Another

Mets NationalsThere were some good things and bad things again during the season’s first homestand. Some positive surprises, so far so good, Jose Valverde. Negative surprises too, goodbye and good luck Bobby Parnell. What was not a surprise, again, was that Citi Field was empty and dreary. For yet another year, people are not buying what the Mets are selling. But not only are fans not buying it, there continues to be an undercurrent of disgust and anger.

The number one reason is obvious enough, the Mets have not been in the playoffs since 2006,

The "crowd" on Saturday, via Mets Police

The “crowd” on Saturday, via Mets Police

at a time in baseball history when making the playoffs has become much easier than in the past. Winning would certainly change this situation. But even though the team has staggered for years now, I do not think the record on the field is the total problem. When it comes to consistent sellouts, and demand for tickets like the Mets had from 2006-2008, yes, you need a very good team to achieve those levels. But the depths we see these days, the ballpark a sea of green empty seats daily, is something I could not have imagined a few years ago. Of all the teams in the major leagues last year, only three were calculated to have lost value in 2013, the Astros, the Marlins and the Mets.

I read a nice article by Ken Davidoff about the problem the other day, and think Ken did a good job of illustrating a point that is not made enough, that there is a severe disconnect between what the Mets charge and what they spend. There has become a perception that Mets fans are a bunch of whiners when they lament the size of the current payroll. Mets fans are mocked for expecting the team to spend. However, as Ken shows, those very same Mets fans are expected to pay, and pay big. That math doesn’t add up and creates ill will with the customers.

However, today I don’t want to only focus on payroll. As long as these owners are in place and revenues do not rise, it probably can’t go up. That is a joke, but not so easy to fix. But payroll is not the only problem right now which is eradicating goodwill with Mets fans. There is a factor that is a lot more controllable than expecting an owner drowning in debt to find money under a pillow. I want to talk about the good old “Year of Control” and “Super 2.”

The Mets GM, Sandy Alderson, has no large-market experience. As a trained lawyer, he knows how to read the CBA, and he has a full grasp on how to save expenses. And as every Mets fan Parlor Trickswatching knows, Sandy has instituted a system-wide process to attempt to hold down potential Mets players’ salaries as long into the future as possible. It’s a nice parlor trick, and it is not against the rules. Years from now, we can look at all the players Sandy is currently holding back and figure out how much money he saved. For now, of course, it is nothing more than an estimate, as without a crystal ball it cannot be calculated, and will be dictated by player performances that have not occurred yet. I do think that Alderson, no dummy, has data, and an estimating model.

It all is logical, and unless our farm system ends up really blowing, there should be some money saved in the future. But this is not San Diego, and as Davidoff mentions, fans here are not being charged like it is. And those fans, who already have no choice but to swallow the fact that the owners cannot properly fund everyday operations, are also being asked to swallow a GM who refuses to put the best 25 men in the organization on the field. This is true even though the men he keeps holding back would make the major league minimum right now.

I don’t know how that plays in the sticks, but fans here get it. The front office is not making It's a wonderful lifeevery attempt to field a winning team. These are the same fans already dealing with the payroll/cost of a game discrepancy. Well, those fans are Omar Quintanillagetting more and more angry, and it’s like the deal in It’s a Wonderful Life. Only, it’s not every time a bell rings an angel gets it wings; It’s every time Omar Quintanilla gets sent up to hack a Mets fan vows to never go back. Losing is one thing, not trying is another.

I think Sandy Alderson does not understand the market this team operates in, and the owners have huge short-term financial problems. It’s a bad combination, and it has combined to create nothing short of a mess. Because when all is said and done we all know baseball is a business. The Forbes results are just another example showing that the Wilpon/Alderson duo does not understand how to run it. A National League baseball team decreasing in value in New York is not an easy thing to accomplish.

Can it all still work out? If the team begins to win consistently, things are going to improve. However, there is a deep mistrust between the Mets and their fans, a mistrust the team has worked hard to earn.

How quickly that can be changed is hard to say and will bear watching.

 

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News and Views: Parnell Down and Out, Nimmo Healthy, First Baseman Bingo, and More

Mike:

The good news. Brandon Nimmo is healthy and considered a breakout candidate in Port St. Lucie. The Mets system is very shallow in high-end position player prospects, it would be great if Nimmo took a big step forward. The bad news, Nimmo’s hand injury in 2013 was misdiagnosed all year.

Jimmy:

2983674_ProductDescriptionYes, I saw that. His initial X-Ray was taken with a Fisher-Price doctor’s kit. But, yes. He’s reportedly gained 20 pounds of muscle and is ready to roll. He’s naturally a kid who shows patience and plate discipline, so he’s a fit with the organization’s ideals.

Mike:

When I heard Daniel Murphy was going to miss Opening Day due to the birth of his child I didn’t even think about it. That is not a story. Yes, one more example of why my nickname is not “Scoop.” This has somehow turned into the biggest Mets related news item in a very long time. I saw Good Morning America do 15 minutes on Murphy Friday morning. Of everything I saw, Howard Megdal recreating Mike Francesa having a conversation with a baby was my favorite.

Jimmy:

Howard does great work, I’ve come to really respect and enjoy him. I cannot say that about Boomer Esiason, who is still an idiot. Every time the ex-Jet opens his mouth, he offers up the verbal equivalent of a pick six.

Mike:

It’s a few weeks ago, but I can’t let this one go by. In a post titled, Solving the Riddle of Citi Field, Greg Karam begins with a picture of a beaming Sandy Alderson and the following teaser:

“Sandy Alderson has said he wants to figure out why the Mets have performed so poorly at home during his tenure. There’s evidence to suggest he might already have an idea.”

An idea?

Spoiler alert Sandy, it’s outfield defense! This is not a mystery, and Sandy Alderson shouldn’t need any data to confirm it. Tell him to just go up to the Promenade Level, open his eyes and look outward.

I often picture Sandy, frozen in place at his home, unsure if day has arrived, waiting for a printout confirming that the sun has risen.

Jimmy:

DataTNGYes, some guys absolutely need the data. I hated that article with every fiber of my being. Karam was actually praising Alderson for unraveling the mystery, thanks to all the new data available through “advanced statistics.” The article unintentionally made sabermetricians look bad in the process, reinforcing the suspicion that some of them never watch a game. Last season we noted that the Mets opened the season without one plus-defender in the outfield. Remember: Lucas Duda, left fielder! We were not geniuses for recognizing that it would not work in Citi Field.

And for the record, I’m not at all anti-SABR. I’ve read original research papers by Voros McCracken! Just the other day I was quoting Zack Wheeler’s “contact %” via FanGraphs. But no one ever needed a slide rule to figure out that outfielders need to be able to run and catch a baseball.

So, Mike, Rafael Montero threw six scoreless innings in Vegas the other day. Thoughts?

Mike:

Some of those innings could have really helped our bullpen this week, but it would cost us a year of control in 2020. And so, one day it will be worth it. Because it is a lead pipe cinch that Montero will be a productive, healthy, major league pitcher in 2020. Always bet on the future over the present with pitchers, because nothing bad ever happens to them.

By the way, Fred Wilpon will be 84 years old in 2020. Or dead. Somebody should remind him about those facts.

Jimmy:

I came across this Youtube video the other day. It was originally posted in 2010, but remains starkly relevant today. Fortunately, today’s it just funny. Three days ago it made me cry.

Mike:

The more things change. . . .

Jimmy:

Oh, hey! Terry Collins announced that Lucas Duda is going to get a sustained shot at first base after doing nothing to earn the job. Most analysts I’ve read have termed the decision-making process “ridiculous” and “a complete joke.” What in the world are the Mets doing here?

Mike:

And this announcement ended up meaning absolutely nothing, as Davis ended up starting on Sunday. When it was announced I started analyzing the logic, but that was just silly of me. No more, when it comes to first base I will just enjoy the daily surprises. They have no idea what to do and the initial results have been wonderful.

Jimmy:

It’s really been amazing so far, Duda hits two bombs on Friday, Davis responds with a Grand Slam on Saturday. I don’t know what to think anymore. After Ike got two hits on Sunday, Terry is all confused. He praised Ike up and down after the game. When asked about who’s on first — ha, it sounds like a comedy routine! — Terry said, basically, he had no idea. Not a clue.

I guess “extended look” ain’t what it used to be.

As always with this organization, you wonder why they say anything. Collins didn’t need to make an announcement. Let me put it this way: When what you say doesn’t mean anything, don’t say anything! Because they just look very bad. Steve Keane at The Eddie Kranepool Society had some harsh words on the topic. Steve is at his most entertaining when he’s feeling grumpy.

I shook my head when I read the initial reports that the odds of surgery for Bobby Parnell were 50/50. Really? Were they considering duct tape? It reminded me of that line from Woody Allen’s “Love and Death.” Diane Keaton tells him, “I guess you could say I’m half saint, half whore.” To which Woody replies, “Here’s hoping I get the half that eats.”

love-and-death-6

Mike:

Well, I don’t want the team flipping any coins for me. The results are in, Parnell is having season ending surgery.

Don't worry, Bobby. This is a Civil War amputation kit.  Pretty cool, isn't it?

Start to worry, Bobby. This is a Civil War amputation kit. The Mets bought it on discount!

Jimmy:

We’ve now seen every starting pitcher in the Mets rotation. They’ve collectively looked solid, though I’d say that Bartolo was, in just one start, the least impressive. Not solid so much as . . . gooey? A cream-filled center? Anyway, great to see Niese throwing so effectively. He looked sharp on Sunday until he faltered in the 6th inning. A healthy, productive Niese should be a huge plus.

Mike:

It’s hard to not still be concerned about Niese, but even so I consider starting pitching to be the strength of this team. Imagine how good these guys would do if they ever got to face our lineup.

Jimmy:

After six games, the Mets are last in hits in MLB with 33 (that includes the 4 they banged out yesterday). But you know what? It was a good overall series against the Reds. They provided some nice moments. Let’s hope they pick it up a notch.

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If at First You Do Succeed, Try, Try Again

Update 4:40 PM:

What a difference a day makes. Congratulations Ike. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s game, I want to see what Satin is going to do to top them both.

Original Post:

After Thursdays loss, Terry Collins announced that Lucas Duda would get an extended shot at the first base job. After all these years of Davis and Duda, who knows what that means? When it comes to first base, the Mets seem incapable of making a decision. For one night the decision was made for them, by none other than Lucas Duda.

Lucas Duda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although there was more to it, there always is, there was no doubt the story of the night was Lucas Duda. His two bombs powered a much needed win and for one day makes the ongoing saga of first base moot.

I’m kind of expecting Lucas to get the start today.

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