The Return & Rehabilitation of Dwight Gooden: Clear-Eyed and Affable

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Jimmy:

On Monday night during the SNY Mets telecast, lo, there was Dwight Gooden with a touch of gray, engaged in a terrific interview with Kevin Burkhardt. Dwight looked and sounded good. Clear-eyed, well-spoken, happy, modest, and authentic. I found myself liking him, hopeful for his future, and for the first time in many years, remembering the good times.

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Mike:

For a long time, we hadn’t seen or heard too much from Doc, especially nothing good. As recently as 2008, when the team was arranging for players to attend the last game at Shea, the rumblings were that Gooden might not be able to get himself to the game. Doc did make it that day, and he received a tremendous ovation from the fans.

Doc GoodenJimmy:

You know, my heart hardened to Doc. He threw it all away and after a while, I just couldn’t feel much sympathy for him. But in the process, I lost something. I lost the memories. As fans, we loved him so much, rooted so hard, his games at Shea were such events, and it all became sullied by his subsequent ugly behavior.

Mike:

The fall from grace for Gooden was far, and it was public. As a fan, it was hard not to feel a certain element of betrayal, as silly as that feels to type now.

Jimmy:

Dwight-Gooden-Time-MagOne memory I have is of a two-hitter he threw against the Houston Astros. 1985 or ’86, somewhere around there. As the game at Shea progressed, my friends and I were able to weave our way down to better and better seats until, wow, by the 8th inning we were in the front row (!) behind the Astros dugout. I sat there feeling so appreciative to have that view of such an impressive pitcher. Dwight Gooden, right there, dealing.

Mike:

Those first years with Gooden will always be my personal “golden years” as a fan. My first foray into season tickets was 1984, Doc’s rookie year. Terri and I hardly missed a start of his at Shea between 1984 and 1988. By late 1984 Gooden had hit a gear where every start of his was an event, something that continued all through 1985. When I think about how dominant he was during that period I am amazed he never threw a no-hitter for the Mets. It actually felt inevitable at the time.

Jimmy:

With Dwight, the story arc just never worked out. It became about what never was, what could have been. A story of waste, drugs, fallen innocence. I closed my heart to him after a while. Not a good guy, I thought. But as I watched him on TV the other night, I felt a part of my heart open up to Dwight again, quite unexpectedly. I was moved and, as I said up top, I remembered the remarkable athlete I once so enjoyed and admired..

Mike:

Last year I started seeing Tweets from Doc, he started doing his own social media version of the “K-Corner” for Matt Harvey. It was fun to see from him, and a good sign that he was in a good place, enjoying the game of baseball as a fan.

12138878-doc-bookJimmy:

I am newly curious about his book, which I haven’t read. For a long time, I just didn’t want to go there. And the truth is, I’ve long thought of him as a deceitful person. Full of lies and half-truths. It came with the package. I’m not sure he’s the guy who can ever possibly tell the real story. That said, I’ve added the title to my reading list. It gets to join the big stack. I’m ready to close old wounds. Let the healing begin, my brothers and sisters! Can I get an “Amen!”

BTW, Joe D over at Metsmerized — who does such a great job with that behemoth of a blog — gave an open, heartfelt review of Doc a while back.

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BREAKING NEWS! Mets Trade Jeff Wilpon for Prospects

jeff-wilponNEWSFLASH: In a stunning development, the New York Mets traded Jeff Wilpon, COO of the Mets baseball team and son of principal owner Fred Wilpon , for two young, up-and-coming douchebags.

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Commented Mets GM Sandy Alderson at a press conference held at Citi Field:

“At this time of year, teams are either ‘buyers’ or ‘sellers.’ We were forced to admit that now was the time to begin building for the future, strengthening our foundation for tomorrow’s championship run. Of course, when a team gives up a proven veteran ass hat like Jeff Wilpon, well, it’s tough on the whole organization. But we have to recognize that we’re just grinding through another fake pennant race. We felt a need to get younger and restock the farm system. We’ve been scouting these entitled pricks for a while now, and there’s every reasonable hope to believe they can, with the right coaching, become the same egotistical, self-important corn holes that Jeff has always been, maybe even bigger, if that’s humanly possible.”

In exchange for Jeff Wilpon, the Mets received:

-61545477-spoiled-bratReginald Pinkerton Armitage III: His first words were “I WANT IT NOW!” According to club sources, the Mets intend to fast-track this whining, sniveling, entitled, coddled creep through the system. Anyone who has seen young Reginald throw himself on the floor, kicking and screaming, “MINE! MINE! MINE!” can attest that he should be able to fill Jeff’s shoes in just a few short years.

- - JLNO_Spoiled

 

 

 

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Cassidy Britney Amber Shuttlecock: The consensus amongst scouts is that Shuttlecock has demonstrated all five tools at an early age. She intolerant, abusive, unbearable, arrogant, and selfish. A rare combination. Alderson mused, “Sometimes a prospect will be abusive, but not unbearable. Another one might be selfish, but fall a little short in the arrogance department. So it’s not often a team has the chance to land this level prospect — she appears to be a major league shit heel. Giving up Jeff was a lot, he’s a known quantity, we’re all aware of what a giant asshole he can be. But we’ve come to the belief that Cassidy can be even more insufferable than Jeff — and I say that with all the respect in the world for Jeff Wilpon, who has been a gigantic dipshit from the day I got here.”-

 

ADDENDUM: In a corresponding move completed just minutes ago, the Mets swapped Bobby Abreu for an “unnamed” future consideration. The “consideration” is believed to be the next, as-yet-unborn love child of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. With those bloodlines, the Mets are optimistic this prospect could turn out to be one of the biggest super-brats in the known universe. Alderson remarked, “While no prospect can ever be a sure thing, I’m very confident this kid will grow up to be a complete and total dick. How can it not?”

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Weekend Roundup: Hall of Fame Inductions, Daisuke Goes Down, and the Latest on Colon

Road tripWell, the Mets finally finished their post All-Star Game trip, going 5-5. Another one, maybe two, wins would have been nice, but it’s not like the team tanked. The results were reasonable. The problem is reasonable isn’t going to get anything done, if 2014 is going to be memorable, a crazy run of baseball is in order. But we know that, and know that the calendar is one more opponent this team is taking on every day. The situation is not a newsflash. There has been some news this weekend though, and I have some thoughts around it all:

* It was Hall of Fame weekend, and former Mets manager Joe Torre was inducted for his managing prowess. Joe, you might remember, had a .405 winning percentage with the Mets. He now joins Casey Stengel as the second Mets manager to be inducted (Yogi Berra was elected based on his playing career.) Stengel, I will remind the younger set, had a .302 winning percentage in his time managing the Metropolitans. No, that is not a typo. Anyway, with all due respect to Mr. Torre, those numbers kind of make me think the players have something to do with how things all shake out. Congratulations anyway, Joe, a Brooklyn kid and a baseball lifer for sure.

CaseyNew York Mets manager Joe Torre looks on from the Met Dug out at the game.

 

 

 

 

 

* Let me begin this one by getting the obligatory joke out of the way. I missed the Tom Glavine induction ceremony, and not only am I not devastated, I’m not even disappointed. But when I think about Glavine, it is interesting to me how none of us could ever warm up to the guy. He pitched five years for the Mets, and in 2006 he pitched pretty well and the team was great, a Division winner. And I remember so clearly when Jimmy and I were in Chicago on the day he was scheduled to pitch for his 300th win, and neither of us raised a finger to try and change our flights and go see him. We just didn’t care, and that was before the fateful last day of 2007. It was just a bad awkward marriage the entire time, and that is a long time for a bad relationship. I guess that last day of 2007 was poetic justice, that Glavine was the guy who imploded. We didn’t like him anyway.

* The latest on Bartolo Colon is that the Mets would probably toss some cash into a deal if it would help them get rid of the guy. I’ve never had the belief that Colon could net anything too useful back, as most contenders rather rent than buy. But eventually he will either be dealt or not, and I’ve certainly been wrong before. If he stays, hey, he has pitched well, it’s not a disaster by any means. I’ve never fully understood the math of paying Bartolo all this money to potentially save money on our young arms five years from now, if they are productive and healthy, but what is done is done. It could have been worse, Colon could have been terrible, or he could have gotten injured.

MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies* At the same time, I held out some faint hope that maybe Sandy could spin Daisuke Matsuzaka for something. The fact is he pitched well in both a starting and relief role this year, and his salary could have fit easily into any contender’s budget. I will never know now, and it doesn’t sound good for Daisuke. If his time with the Mets is over, his overall production during it has been a pleasant surprise. Someday, when Dice-K looks back at his career and reflects on his time as a Met, he can remember, among other highlights, that I dedicated a full Top Ten List to him last September.

* There was a related positive development to Dice-K’s injury, as Buddy Carlyle is back. Welcome home Buddy!

Buddy Carlyle

 

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Juan Lagares Has Been Awful

We knew this was going to come. Sooner or later, Juan Lagares would go cold — and boy, has he ever. Brrrrr.

Let’s not pretend it’s been otherwise.

Across 93 ABs in June and July, he’s hit only 4 XBH (all doubles) with only 2 bases on balls. During that time he’s whiffed 23 times. His OPS during this stretch is barely above .500. For the season, he’s slashing .270/.304/.373 for an OPS of .677.

Juan Lagares

That’s very close to not good enough — even for a Gold Glove centerfielder.

To anyone watching these ABs, two things are happening: He’s consistently swinging at bad pitches, especially breaking balls low and away. There’s just no reason to throw him a strike right now. In addition, Juan simply can’t square up a ball these days. He’s fouling off the pitches he needs to crush. He’s not hitting anything hard. It’s been ugly.

Oh well, I’m not a batting coach. But I do believe that Lagares is a guy who particularly needs to adopt the “Mets Way” of hitting. While I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach, and I’ve been critical of the team’s relentless emphasis on “patience,” in this case I am completely on board with the need for Lagares to demonstrate better mastery of the strike zone. Problem is, plate discipline is not a skill that develops overnight. It takes years. Even in the best scenario, there will be burps and hiccups.

I think he can do it. To a degree. Over time. Eventually.

And I believe he’s worth sticking with through the tough times. The upside is too huge to ignore.

So what’s the best response for the Mets?

They’ve got to continue to play him, support him as he works through a horrific slump that was inevitable, and which came, in part, as a result to a long layoff after an injury. Who knows, maybe he’s still not completely healthy. God knows that he wasn’t ready to hit on the date he returned to action. It was obvious.

The important thing here is for Terry Collins to continue to write the name LAGARES into the daily lineup. Help him play through this and, yes, sit him now and again if he looks completely clueless in his approach at the plate.

Before the season began, Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins talked a lot about the importance for the Mets outfielders to hit, stating that offense would (and will!) trump defense when it comes to playing time. In addition, Alderson brought in Chris Young with the intention — it is my strong belief — to unseat Lagares in CF. That obviously did not work out thanks to Lagares’ hot start and Chris Young’s inability to turn back the clock.

If you recall, the pressure on Lagares has been fairly constant. He played Winter Ball and Spring Training with his hair on fire, desperately trying to prove the doubters wrong. It makes sense that he might be a little worn out right now. He’s experiencing the big league grind.

Well, Juan, I’m sorry about that . . . but it’s time to suck it up.

crossroads1In the Spring, I stated that even if he only put up a .700 OPS, Juan’s defense made him too valuable to sit. I felt that this young player needed consistent time in the field, a real opportunity to learn the game. And I knew, for sure, that there would be rough patches over the course of the season. Well, here we are, facing a critical juncture. A crossroads, if you will.

It’s time for the organization to show Lagares unwavering support. Play the man, play the man, play the man.

At the end of the season, the Mets can make an evaluation. Weigh the pros and cons.

One last thought, which I’ve stated before:

At this point in time, a fully functional offense can’t have Juan Lagares (as he hits in 2014) and a black hole at shortstop. Ruben Tejada can’t hit, with a SLG below .300. The failure to solve SS has put added pressure on Lagares. I think a quality team can play one glove-first guy in the lineup. But when you have two batters who can’t produce, plus a pitcher, that’s rough. A real shortstop would be a huge help. However, that’s not reality.

Good luck, Juan Lagares, I’m a big fan, and I’m rooting for you.

I just hope that management feels the same way.

 

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Lucas Duda Shows Me Up (Again)

New York Mets at Milwaukee Brewers

Admit it, I know what you were all thinking last night.

“Hey, Mike, you fool, aren’t you happy this wasn’t a seven inning game?”

And, I have to say, I was happy it wasn’t. I bet Daniel Murphy was too. Now, a show of K-Rod blows savehands, who felt confident going into the ninth that the Mets would put up a three-spot in about thirty seconds? My hand is down. But that’s baseball. Man, Lucas Duda put a charge in that ball, it left the field so fast. And putting a beat down on K-Rod popped a lot of inappropriate jokes into my head, but I will be the better man today and not share any of them.

It is still Saturday morning, though, and I feel compelled to share a little snark before I go. There is a guy who needed last nights game to end after seven innings. Bobby Abreu. A three strikeout night beats a four strikeout night. I will end with a tweet from our good friends at Blue & Orange Nation which sums up the situation with Mr. Abreu. It’s your move, Sandy.

 

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A Modest Proposal: The 7-Inning Ballgame

windows_seven_high_resolutionJimmy:

MLB should change the length of games to seven innings. The games would be better, faster, filled with more drama. What do you think, Mike?

Mike:

Yes! I have been a proponent of this for a few years now. Just a few weeks ago I was at  Brooklyn, and they played two, creating two seven-inning contests. The first game went 1:45. And I can tell you, I did not fee cheated. Instead I enjoyed every pitch. My mind never wandered, in fact, I never felt the urge to leave my seat. I cannot remember the last time I did not feel a need to wander around at a major league park.

Jimmy:

That desire to wander might be the Alzheimer’s, Mike. Remember what your doctor said, “More cowbell.” But I understand what you mean. The games are long and getting longer. The mind drifts.

Of course, a change to seven innings would be radical, and would blow the doors off the record books.  I think that’s the primary reason why some folks would never accept it.

Mike:

I agree with you, and have heard that argument many times. It’s so bogus. The record books are already useless, unless you compare players who played during the same era. Mickey MantleDoes anyone really think it is meaningful to compare Christy Mathewson to Clay Kershaw? Or the roided up exploits of McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds to Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron? And anyone who played before Jackie Robinson, just forget all of that too. It’s useful to see what those guys did, in their time, but their time excluded a lot of the best competition. Hey, just last week, we wrote about defensive shifting, which is changing everything as well. That’s just a few reasons. Comparing players from one era to another is comparing apples and oranges already.

Jimmy:

Let’s just push that concern aside for the moment and focus on the things that would be impacted by this revolutionary change.

* The length of games would get back to more manageable times, averaging less than 3 hours. Finally, fans might be able to watch a complete game.

* With shorter games, each inning becomes more important, increasing the drama.

* On rosters, teams could probably cut back from the 12-man pitching staff. Or, conversely, perhaps experiment with a 4-man rotation, figuring that starters only need to go 5-6 innings.

* It would improve the overall level of play. Less back-end relievers, less need for subs, fresher, better rested players.

I guess I could go on and on.

Mike:

Me, too. I just think it’s the cleanest and easiest way to fix the game. And the game is broken. Baseball is not meant to be a four-hour affair. But what I find so intriguing about the seven-inning game is it can assist with other current problems, not just the length of de-soto-firedome-sportsman-05contests.

One big one, that you hit on above, is pitching. Pitchers throw less pitches now, and it is very difficult to envision a scenario where things go back the way they were. Because of this, and a static 25 man roster, pitchers take up more and more of every roster.

But there are other things. At one time major league baseball did not extend past the Mississippi. Additionally, doubleheaders were a normal occurrence. Now, teams are strewn all over North America, and the single admission doubleheader has gone the way of the De Soto. There are too many uninspired games, as long games and increased travel create overly fatigued players.

Jimmy:

Okay, then. It’s settled. Next let’s tackle these pesky problems in the Middle East . . .

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Trade Deadline Musings

buyersEverywhere you read, the pundits are slotting teams into “buyers” or “sellers” categories. And at best, that’s a gross oversimplification. Many teams, such as the Mets, are actually both — or should be. Anything to improve the overall team, that’s the long and short of it.

It’s difficult for me to clearly explain what I mean, except that I have a nagging sense that this dichotomy has become an artificial, and fundamentally false, way of looking at the trade deadline. Yet everybody does it. Conventional wisdom says: “It’s that time of year when we slot teams into two lazy, out-dated categories.”

mlb-trade-deadline-2011The truth is that with the expanded playoffs, the date for the trade deadline now comes too early. There aren’t enough “sellers” anymore (Hello, San Diego!) to make the category meaningful, since in the middle of July there are still twenty teams chasing dreams. Seven games out in July, in today’s climate, is nothing. It’s a tricky problem for MLB to solve, since any deadline trade requires enough time to make an impact.

Anyway, a few quick thoughts about the Mets, my expectations and recommendations for the trade deadline:

1) The Mets don’t trade Daniel Murphy. I actually think an extension might be on the way. (Then they can trade him later, ba-da-boom.) Trading Murphy now, from a PR standpoint, sends the wrong message to the fans at a tipping point in the franchise’s history. We can debate the relative merits on the field, the budget and all that fun stuff, but this is a case where fan perception is just too important to ignore. He’s our All-Star and a fan favorite. I don’t see Alderson making that move at this time.

2) I don’t see the “big bat” scenario that so many folks are talking about. Where is this bat that’s going to be traded mid-season that fits into the Mets needs? Tulowitzki is the only real candidate, and I think that’s a winter trade, when there are more teams involved and a better market for the Rockies. Same with Stanton, etc. The teams that trade for pitching do so because they are in the hunt; they do not give up a significant MLB-ready bat in the same breath.

bartolo-colon-mlb-washington-nationals-new-york-mets

3) That said, I think there are 11,000,000 reasons why the Mets should look to move Bartolo — if that’s at all possible. (Insert fat joke here.) Would that make the team better in 2014? No, it would not. But it would clear space and salary for a run in 2015. Harvey returns, Parnell, etc. The only question is whether there’s any real market for Bartolo. Seems like Cliff Lee is next to go. For this organization, despite the rhetoric, it’s never been about this year.

4) I know we beat on the “Trade for Troy” drum last year, before it was fashionable, but I think it makes a world of sense this coming winter, too. The Mets have the pieces to make this deal. I just don’t see it happening in July.

5) If anybody in the world thinks that either Bobby Abreu or Chris Young would be worth a mid-level anything, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

6) I think Juan Lagares is a guy who very well could be included in any sort of “big” winter trade. My feeling is that he’s got value on the market — and that Sandy & Company are still troubled by his bat.

7) The organization has a big decision to make regarding Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. I think the market will determine that one. But again, not now.

CONCLUSION . . .

ff2I don’t see the Mets making a move to improve this season. We might see a salary dump with Colon, giving the club more — here it comes — flexibility for 2015. They absolutely have the chips to land a real-deal bat this winter, and I sincerely hope they do something. Depending upon the market, it could be that Bartolo becomes part of a winter deal instead, or Gee, or whomever. I don’t expect a lot of action from the Mets, and still think my preseason prediction of 79 wins looks pretty good. All in all, I don’t actually find this too depressing. Already we’re thinking of the winter and 2015 and, sure, that’s a little sad. But I’m getting used to it.

Please, Sir, I’ll have another.

POSTSCRIPT:

Mike and I actually discussed the Bartolo Colon situation at some length a while back, and I think much of what we wrote then still stands up today. Click here to readThe Elephant in the Room.”

 

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Can Chris Young Hit Under .200 While Getting More Than 400 PAs?

A model of nearly robotic consistency, Chris Young has managed to shake off the disappointment of his 2013 season -- where he fell only 25 plate appearances short of immortality -- to take another run at one of baseball's most elusive achievements.

A model of nearly robotic consistency, Chris Young has managed to shake off the disappointment of his 2013 season — where he fell only 25 plate appearances short of immortality — to take another run at one of baseball’s most elusive achievements.

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It’s the time of year when our attention turns to individual performances, broken records, historic accomplishments.

I think back to 1980 when George Brett flirted with a .400 season. It was an amazing accomplishment, one that we watched with daily fascination. July, August, September. Could he possibly do it?

We watched Pete Rose in 1978 attempt to break DiMaggio’s consecutive game hitting streak. (And if he had to do it over again, Gene Garber claims that he’d throw Rose yet another change-up.)

And, oh yes, the baseball world was captivated and charmed by Mark McGuire’s attempt to top 61 home runs in a season. Don’t deny it. We ate that shit up.

So today I’m sitting here wondering:

Can Chris Young hit .200 while still getting more than 400 PAs?

You’ve heard about the 500 Club, and the 30/30 Club. Can Chris Young become the next member of the .200/400 Club?

I am fairly well-versed in statistics, but not a baseball researcher. I don’t know how many players in the modern era have achieved that unique feat. It’s rarified air, for sure. If anybody can find that answer, I’d be curious to know. It requires a unique combination of talents, a perfect storm where potential meets futility, where hope overcomes reason, and where salary plays a huge part.

Uggla's 2013 season was one for the record books.

Uggla’s 2013 season was one for the record books.

Of course, there’s legendary Dan Uggla. We all marveled as he pulled off an incredible .179 BA with a logic-defying 537 PAs last season. Talk about wow. We can all agree that it was an astonishing performance. Not only by Uggla himself, but the entire Braves organization. Ownership, management, they all had a hand in it.

Some observers might point to last season when Chris Young hit an even .200. But sadly, he received only 375 PAs from those miserly bastards in Oakland. Denied baseball immortality by the mere technicality. Who doubts that Chris Young, if given those 25 more PAs, could have lowered his batting average a measly thousandth of a decimal point?

I ask you: Did Chris Young give up after that disappointment? Denied by only 25 plate appearances? No, he did not. He came back more determined that ever. To make this dream possible, Chris elicited a promise of guaranteed playing time from Sandy Alderson. And the man is getting paid, which is key. The Mets are invested.

But let’s face it. The deck is still stacked against him. This won’t be easy. A lot of things have to break exactly right for Chris to realize his goal. For a while there, it looked like Chris was happily on pace for 400 plate appearances. Maybe even 500. But recently, those ABs have dried up. (Damn you, Kirk Nieuwenhuis!) Today, it all hinges on the PAs.

Let’s review what he’s accomplished so far, as of July 21:

  • OVERALL: 236 PA * .200 BA * 637 OPS

The worry is the plate appearances. The key here is that Chris can’t completely tank. He can’t go 0-30, start hitting in the .160 range. Even Jeff Wilpon has a breaking point, and everyone knows that Sandy Alderson’s promises are not made of gold. But here’s the beauty of Chris Young. He’s remarkably consistent. More importantly, he’s shown a knack for hitting the dramatic long ball, a feat which always buys a player at least two more weeks in the bigs. Let’s call this The Uggla Gambit. Chris has hit 8 homers already. He’s got to repeat that pattern again and again: Play extremely poorly for a while, go 3-20, make the fans disgusted every time he comes to the plate, then — BOOM, BABY, BOOM! — he goes yard. Maybe twice, even.

I think he can do it. Some numbers:

  • APRIL: 42 PA * .205/.262/.410
  • MAY: 99 PA * .198/.303/.326
  • JUNE: 78 PA * .208/.263/.347
  • JULY: 17 PA * .154/.333/.385

Clearly the man can hit under .200. That’s well-established. But I’m stressed out over the plate appearances. Here he is, putting up his best monthly OPS in July, and he can’t get the starts! Is that fair? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried.

But if any manager can work Chris Young back into the lineup, it’s Terry Collins. Chris just needs one multi-hit game, one clutch home run, and the playing time will follow.

Will the glare of the media spotlight prove too much, just as it did to Pete Rose and George Brett?

Will the glare of the media spotlight prove too much, just as it did to Pete Rose and George Brett?

My other concern as I lay in bed awake each night, tossing and turning with worry, is what happens when the media turns up the bright lights. All of those microphones, the daily requests for interviews, the constant attention. I wonder if Chris Young might crack. Lose his focus. Maybe the average accidentally rises over .200 for a stretch. What then? Can he bring it back down fast enough?

Actually, that’s the key. I think he’s got to get hot, soon, and bring that BA all the way up to the .210 range. Keep the hounds at bay. At that point, he becomes a regular again.

Many may wonder, but can he then hit below .200? Will there be enough time?

And we may also wonder: What’s the all-time lowest batting average for a Met with more than 400 PAs in a season? What’s the record? Can Chris Young break it? In any event, to qualify, it will take a village.

No one can predict with certainty. Now that Dan Uggla’s been sent to the bench, Chris Young is MLB’s next, best hope. Personally, I think he can pull it off. As the 2014 season winds down, we may be witnessing a touch of baseball history. My advice to you: Save the newspapers, keep those ticket stubs, store your scorebooks in air-sealed plastic containers.

174 plate appearances to go.

This is the stuff of memories.

 

 

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Monday Odds and Ends: Niese In, Dice-K Out, Why Not Kirk?, and More

Jonathon NieseBaseball finally came back this weekend. And the game Friday was actually worth waiting for. The other two, well. . . .

Some odds and ends on a Monday morning as the Mets head to the Pacific Northwest.

* Jon Niese comes off the disabled list tonight and Daisuke Matzasuka has been moved back to the bullpen. Dice-K has pitched pretty well all year, both in the rotation and in the bullpen. For the time being, a revitalized bullpen gets stronger. Having Dice-K out in the pen for any length of time could be especially beneficial to Carlos Torres, since Matsuzaka can provide some length.

* When I went to the game the Saturday before the All-Star game, my friend’s son, with the exuberance and firm conviction that comes from youth, told me that “Kirk Niewhenhuis needs to play!” And I thought about that for a second, and thought about the other left field options and answered meekly, “Sure, why not?” Well, Kirk has been getting a little bit of a shot since then and he has done some good things with it. In a you-never-know sport, in a you-never-know world, right now does seem like a good time to give Kirk a whirl.

* The Brady Aiken and Jacob Nix stuff has an odor all around it. In general, this CBA was not well thought out by the Players Association. They sold out the amatuers with an tony clarkofficial slot system, and also didn’t understand the ramifications of the new free agent compensation system.  At the same time, more and more teams are manipulating young player’s service time, even at the risk of being able to properly compete, in order to depress player salaries. So much for the integrity of the game. If I’m Tony Clark I’m going to war in the next CBA and doing whatever it takes to get some of that back. I expect a work stoppage in 2017.

* Speaking of the integrity of the game, and I will be quick since this is a little stale, but the Jeter stuff, ha. Either the game does not count or Wainright should be suspended for trying to throw it. And I haven’t checked, has Steiner Sports released the signed edition of the Wainright and Jeter All-Star “Special Moment?” The irony here is that Adam pitches for the hallowed Cardinals, with the “Cardinal Way” crap, and Jeter, oh don’t even get me started again. Okay, I guess that wasn’t that quick.

* James Garner passed away the other day, and the news made me a little blue. Like many people I was a big Rockford Files fan way back when. I’m going to end my post today with a beginning, all of the classic Rockford Files opening credits phone messages from Season One of the series.

Rest in Peace.

 

 

 

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I Spell Disloyalty Wilpon

SheaUpperDeck_092808Jon Niese is not a very deep thinker. When prodded by Andrew Marchand on whether Mets fans have stuck with their team through a lot of bad times, Niese said the following:

“How can you say that? We are not filling the stadium. Where are the Mets fans when we are down-and-out? They were here in ’06 and ’07 when we were really good, but we have struggled and they are not coming to the stadium.”

A lot has happened since then. A big one is the team is not as good, that is true. But here are some important items that Jon missed.

Jeff-Wilpon- The Wilpons left the 50,000 plus capacity Shea Stadium and replaced it with a 42,000 seat stadium. They did this in an attempt to create a scarcity of tickets and artificial demand, so that they could jack up the price of a Mets game substantially That sounds pretty disloyal to the 4,000,000 fans who jammed Shea Stadium in its final year.

The Wilpons further went to war with the loyal faithful as they cancelled thousands of fans partial ticket plans. Some of these fans had kept their plans from 1964 to 2008. Go look up the standings, there was some pretty rough years in there, but those fans were loyal. The current owners did not care one bit. They mistakenly thought they could sell Citi Field out with nothing but season tickets, and if you couldn’t afford that, the message was loud and clear. Get lost!

- While jacking up the prices, the owners began slashing the payroll. The message to the remaining fans, “pay more for less.” Oh, and they hired a lawyer to front for them who has spent four years now being evasive and deceitful about the teams finances. In 2011 fan favorite and star player Jose Reyes was allowed to leave town, even though there wasn’t a replacement in sight. There still isn’t.

- In 2008 the New York and World economy cratered. Many New Yorkers lost their jobs and never found new ones. Many more had to settle for pay decreases.

- And yep, the team has been bad, and also boring as hell.

Jeff Wilpon laughingSo, enough with the loyalty crap. The Mets haven’t had a .500 record in five years. Let me know when Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz write-up a loyalty oath that they will not raise ticket prices from their current level for five years. I’m not holding my breath.

Considering who owns this team it is a testament to rationalization that anyone ever goes to Citi Field. I sure have to partition my brain. Anyone who is not going, I understand. Never forget, the Mets fan did not start this fight. The greedy Wilpons did.

When it comes to Niese, I’ve got no beef with him. It would be nice if he shut up about things that he doesn’t understand, but he’s young, and uneducated. But any issues between this team and it’s fans was started by a greedy, incompetent and corrupt ownership. The Wilpon family made it clear to Mets fans that they did not value loyalty. You can’t blame the fans for noticing.

Saul Katz

 

 

 

 

 

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