Mets Merized Online » Mark Griffith Mon, 20 Feb 2017 19:59:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Meaningful Games in August Sun, 02 Aug 2015 20:00:36 +0000 IMG_20150802_153922

What a week! It all starts with the acquisitions of Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson, and two much needed wins against the Los Angeles Dodgers (and let’s not forget the MLB debut of one Michael Conforto).

The acquisition of Tyler Clippard starts drawing comparisons to the Kansas City Royals shutdown pen, which lasts not even 24 hours. But then all hell breaks loose.

Over the course of the next 48 hours our ‘shutdown pen’ is jolted with the Mejia news, the trade that wasn’t, and spectacle of the Crying Game. That excrutiating loss during a four-hour ninth inning only exposed more fissure in our once lock-solid pen. All this before a key series with the first-place Nationals that began Friday night.

But by 3:47 PM Friday afternoon everything changed. Whereas I was glued to Twitter on Wednesday night as the Gomez trade played out pubically, I couldn’t get enough of the rumors on Friday.

I really didn’t care if it was Jay Bruce, Justin Upton or Yoenis Cespedes that we got. I just wanted to see us ‘Go For It’. And that we did. A very informal Twitter poll I posted Friday showed most people favoiring Cespedes. By Friday afternoon, the entire narrartive and the collective mood of changed.

The hard data of Mets games in the past two days could suggest not much has changed:

- Starting pitching with Harvey and deGrom have limited the opponent.

- The bullpen has reverted to earlier season form.

- The offense only managed six hits per game and runs are still hard to come by.

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But how about some softer elements?

- The Wilmer Flores game on Friday, because of course that’s the way that game would play out.

- Jacob deGrom battling through 6 innings when he didnt have his best stuff, still giving his team a chance to win.

- Cespedes’ mere presence in the lineup, prompting Matt Williams to walk him in front of Lucas Duda’s game-winning double.

- 42k+ fans in Citi Field, rocking the place like never before, and willing the team to win.

The road ahead is going to be fun, but it is not going to be easy. We still trail in both the division and the Wild Card against teams that all made some moves to improve at the deadline. Much has been said of the Mets schedule down the stretch. Against teams with winning records, the Mets clearly have an advantage:

Games Left vs. Teams With Winning Records
Mets: 15
Nationals: 20
Cubs: 26
Giants: 30 (their August schedule is brutal)

But the Mets are going to need to find away to win on the road. Currently, their road record is the worst of all 4 teams AND they have the fewest home games left:

Home/Road Games Left
Nationals: 34/26
Cubs: 30/29
Giants: 28/31
Mets: 26/32

Additionally, the Mets also need to find a way for Bartolo Colon to contribute in the rotation, all while somehow limiting innings for some of their key starters.

But in the meantime, we are truly playing meaningful games in August for the first time since 2008. Let’s get ‘em tonight and Let’s Go Mets!!

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Beyond the Mets ‘Core Four’ Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:00:50 +0000 mets spring training 2015

Despite Winter Storm Watches in the Northeast and the gloomy fog and cold that has encapsulated my Atlanta home for the past 3 months, it is finally time to play ball in South Florida, and I am abuzz with excitement!

Yes, every Spring I reach for what are usually unrealistic expectations regarding our Mets, and think “if this happens and that happens and we make a deal at the deadline…blah blah blah”. But this year just feels different. Don’t get me wrong, they still need some things to break their way, but It just doesn’t feel l need to try so hard to convince myself they could actually be very good this time around.

Another great thing about the Spring Training games starting is that we as fans will have something else to evaluate our team other than quotes from our GM, Manager and Players. To be honest, I really don’t care what any of them have to say. It doesn’t mean squat on March 4. What matters is how well they play and the caliber of their performance. Once they’re talking about the game or their performances,  then I’ll listen.

That said, there was something a player recently said that was very interesting. After his first bullpen session facing live batters, Matt Harvey referred to the teammates he faced – David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Michael Cuddyer – as the Mets ‘Core Four’. I get what he is trying to say here, as these four position players also represent a huge chunk of the team’s overall financial investment, as well as them being the longest tenured players. And while it may be true that a lot is riding on this Mets version of Core Four, there is just as much riding on the offensive production from a few other Mets players he didn’t mention.

Lucas Duda - Coming off a breakout 2014 when he was finally given the 1B job outright, Duda provided the Mets with the power threat from the clean-up position they had been desperately searching for. But it wasn’t all roses for Duda. He struggled mightily against LHP,  hitting just .180 against southpaws. And now, he is dealing with an oblique strain that will sideline him for at least the start of Spring Training, if not longer.

Juan Lagares - As long as Lagares is penciled into the starting lineup in CF, all is good in Metsville. The problem is that didn’t happen enough last year. Lagares hit the DL three different times in 2014 and played in only 116 games. Hamstings and Intercostals and Elbows, oh my! Lagares will have two challenges in 2015: 1) stay on the field, and 2) provide more production as the winner-by-default Leadoff Hitter. That means improving on a very modest .321 OBP.

Travis d’Arnaud - It used to be that for most teams, any offense you got out of the catching position was gravy. That is no longer the case. The NL is stacked with good offensive catchers and one has to wonder about the ceiling for d’Arnaud. Even if you assume the d’Arnaud from his post-Vegas demotion is the real deal (and not the clunker from April), he is a mid-pack threat at best. Still, that may be enough to deepen the order if everyone else lives up to their own expectations and potential.

Wilmer Flores - Okay, I’m going out on a (pretty sturdy) limb that Flores will be our everyday SS. While this post is more about offensive production, it will be Flores’ defense that will dictate whether we see it or not. Because if Flores gets benched due to poor defense, there will be no offense from our SS. Sandy’s posturing all winter was that he couldn’t find a better alternative than Flores. What he is counting on is that Flores is at least comparable to what he passed on. However, he could have certainly found a better backup plan than Tejada just in case.

I’m looking forward to seeing how these storylines play out on the field vs. on paper. In some cases, we may be pleasantly surprised. In some, we may be bitterly disappointed. But the time to sort it out on the field begins today. Thank God. Play Ball and Let’s Go Mets!

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Featured Post: Dawn of a New Year and New Expectations Mon, 05 Jan 2015 20:36:20 +0000 Sandy-Alderson-New-York-Mets1

2015. It has finally arrived. The year we have told ourselves we can realistically look to be a legitimate playoff contender. Finally. No more excuses. The bad contracts have been purged. The young pitching has arrived. Matt Harvey is presumably healthy.

But has the team done enough to really embrace the notion of being a contender? Look at the Padres. Much like the Mets, they have a traditional small market payroll, with a similar cadre of young pitchers and a recent stretch of losing baseball. But instead of resting on their young arms and their pitcher’s park, they have gone all-in on 2015 and have completely transformed their offense. Welcome Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, and Wil Myers (among others). In 2015, the team with the 2nd best pitching staff in the NL will finally get some help. You can make the argument that their offense needed much more help than the Mets, and you would be accurate. But they certainly didn’t half-ass it this off-season.

What has Sandy Alderson done? Probably the biggest move was one NOT made, in that Daniel Murphy is still our 2B. I mean, how does a team on the self-described precipice of success unnecessarily trade their best hitter? I never understood how that would be a positive. Other than that, we welcome in Michael Cuddyer, John Mayberry Jr., and a shorter fence in right center. It is true that starting the year with Cuddyer vs. Chris Young is a clear improvement. Mayberry is bench player and I just don’t get too excited about fences.

The team as it stands doesn’t compete with the Nationals. Frankly, there is not a move we can make that brings us to their level by April. Therefore, for us to be a contender, we will need to be a wild-card contender. This is no cake-walk as the number of teams competing for those two spots will be numerous and the competition, fierce. Getting from 79 wins to 86 wins will be nice, but if it does not translate to October baseball, it will feel hollow. And even getting to 85+ wins is no guarantee with our current roster. More reliance on hypotheticals:

“If Matt Harvey comes back healthy and in previous form…”

“If Granderson and Wright return to their past levels of production…” 

“If Wilmer Flores can handle SS everyday…”

This is 2015. Weren’t we supposed to be past this? There are still six weeks until pitchers and catchers report, and over three months until Opening Day. Much can still change. Sandy still has a logjam of starting pitchers, and one glaring position that could use an upgrade. It’s a new year and with it comes new levels of expectations. Get it done.

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Jenrry Mejia Should NOT Be Our Closer In 2015 Mon, 06 Oct 2014 16:30:46 +0000 jenry mejia

In a great post earlier this week, Harris Decker posed the question as to whether Jenrry Mejia should be traded this offseason. The readers were split on this notion with 51% saying yes and 49% saying no. The reasons justifying this move, according to Decker, are health and pitching depth. These are both very valid reasons. However, I want to throw out a third, and perhaps most relevant reason: he wasn’t that good.

This may seem a bit unfair a first glance. His 28 saves were the most by a Met since Francisco Rodriquez saved 35 in 2009. And his 90.3% save percentage was in the top half of the league. But if we are to consider Ws and Ls in a lesser light for starters in the age of sabermetrics, perhaps the same holds true for saves for closers.

When looking at effectiveness, the narrative changes considerably. Of all NL closers, Mejia ranked dead last in both WHIP (1.48) and BAA (.265). In fact, only once in the last 20 years has a primary Met closer had a worse WHIP than Mejia’s. And this covers the steroid era and venerable closers such as Braden Looper and Armando Benitez. (In case you were wondering, that one season was 2012 when Frank Francisco stumbled to a 1.61 WHIP. Clearly, not great company.)

Given this view of Mejia’s season, the Mets were fortunate not to have lost more of those games. If next season is truly the year we are going to compete, the last thing they need is to be sabotaged by ineffective late inning relief. But as Decker mentions, the Mets are dealing from a point of strength in this department. As a set up guy, Jeurys Familia posted considerable better numbers than Mejia with a 1.18 WHIP and a .209 BAA. While this would not rank near the league’s best, it is also a far cry from worst. And the guy is a fierce competitor with what seems like the mental toughness to succeed in the role. As Decker alludes to, a combination of Vic Black/Bobby Parnell could slide in to fill the void left in the 8th inning if Familia is bumped up.

So to get back to the question of whether Mejia should be traded, I think the answer is yes. But even if Sandy can’t get a suitable return on such a trade, the Mets should seriously consider moving Familia to that role anyway. The results speak for themselves.

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A Stretch, But Relevant Mets Goal Wed, 06 Aug 2014 15:52:10 +0000 juan lagares

After losing 3 of 4 to the Giants over the weekend, it seems the recent hopes of climbing back into the pennant race had finally faded to black. After an 8-2 run to head into the All Star break, the Mets have been basically treading water since. Even with last night’s 6-1 win over the first place Nationals, the team remains 5 games under .500 and 7 games out of the division lead. Some fans have resigned themselves to looking to get to .500 as the team goal for the 2014 season. Some still look at the remaining games with the Nationals and our pitching strength as reasons we can still make a late season run.

All this brings me to clarifying what I would like to see from our 2014 Mets at this point. Something we have never seen. A pennant race atmosphere at Citi Field.

As we know, the Mets still have 12 games left with the first place Nationals. Five of those games will take place in the next nine days. But beginning Thursday September 11, the Mets will host Washington for a 4-game series at Citi Field, and then make one last trip to DC during the last week of the season. My hope for the 2014 Mets is to make that four game series in Flushing mean something. For that to happen, they have to get to within four games of the lead over the next month. It would be great for our younger players, especially the pitchers, to see how a pennant race in New York feels. And it would be almost as important for a downtrodden fan base as we look toward presumably better years ahead.

This also means making up three games in the standings over the next month. The next five games against the Nats is a great place to start. It also leaves no room for error. No more opportunities to lose 3 out of 4, regardless of the opponent. I don’t remember 1973 to see how that Mets team made a big run at the end of the season. But I remember all too well the 2007 Mets. To me, making the playoffs in 2014 is not relevant. But being part of the conversation is. I can’t wait to see the excitement of Citi Field in an important September matchup. Here’s to hoping I see it this year. That is my Mets goal.

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Where is the Commitment to Winning? Thu, 05 Jun 2014 15:31:18 +0000 chris young

After a decent week of beating up on struggling teams like the Pirates and Phillies, and seeing the Mets come to within a game of .500, you could imagine the wide-eyed look I gave at the prospect of a visit to Wrigley Field and the Cubs. Now, a mere three days later, all of that positive feeling has evaporated. Like a drug- the highs are high, but the crash is worse. The last two games have left me so bitter because these losses did not have to occur. They are a direct result of having an organizational focus that is not linked to winning. At least not winning today.

We all know about the Wilpon’s finances and how that has hamstrung payroll. To a great extent, since those decisions on payroll have already been made, those costs are sunk. But several decisions that have not been made have nothing to do with payroll, at least not 2014 payroll.

The first one is Chris Young. He may not be what you anticipated he would be, but he is exactly what he was (stats through June 4th in each year):

2013 OAK .190 .273 .645
2014 NYM .194 .283 .619

Plain and simple, he needs to go. Just benching him isn’t enough. The Mets are not deep enough to completely ignore a player on the 25-man roster. Even if he isn’t starting, he would likely be called upon to pinch hit in a crucial situation. No, the only solution is to outright release him. Cutting Chris Young today and replacing him with a platoon of Andrew Brown and Bobby Abreu does not have any impact on payroll at all. Not this year. Not next. The Mets will pay his $7M+ salary for this season whether he is striking out for us or not. All things being equal, I would prefer he do that somewhere else.

The Mets aren’t a very good team. I recognize that. For us to win, many things have to go right, and some of those things are outside of their control. But as luck would have it, the NL East has been beaten up by injury and no team is running away. So here they sit, in early June, a scant 3.5 games out of the division lead. I would not advocate trading away some of our long-term prospects for short-term help. But there are other things that could be done that do not impact current payroll or the long-term future of the team. Teams that have a commitment to winning find ways to maximize performance output and win more games. I ask this of the Mets, do you have that commitment?


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The Bullpen Fix Can Not Wait Wed, 07 May 2014 13:46:10 +0000 dice-k daisuke matsuzaka

Tuesday night was brutal. Depressing. Infuriating. You name the negative emotion, I likely felt it. You likely did too. The first month of the season was a feel good story. But we were not naive enough to forget our team’s shortcomings. No production from SS, strikeouts from our big free agent signing and for some of you, our manager. Through all of this, we still sit here today with a .500 record at 15-15 through the first week of May thanks to stellar starting pitching that ranks 4th in the NL in quality starts. But it will take much more than quality starts to win games when you have an offense that ranks close to the bottom in most relevant categories. You need quality finishes as well. And our bullpen, as constructed, is not capable of providing that.

The current bullpen has 3 or 4 players which can be counted as ‘reclamation’ projects. Can Jose Valverde close again? Can Kyle Farnsworth close at all? Can Daisuke Matsuzaka even pitch out of the bullpen? Was career minor leaguer Scott Rice‘s 2013 an anomaly? The Mets are operating on a budget, I get that. You need to take a flyer or two on the roster and hope for the best. But 50% of the bullpen? And when one or two struggle, the remaining guys wind up getting overused when the manager loses faith in someone.

No, this can’t continue. Want to kill the psyche of our young arms? Have them pitch 7 innings of shutout baseball and come away with nothing. So what are our options? I see three options that we could implement today, all of which involve replacing Dice-K as he was not signed to be a bullpen guy in the first place and seems uncomfortable in the role (ie- 2 innings to warm up).

1) Recall Vic Black from AAA. We were counting on him in the Spring to be the 8th inning guy and he seems to be in a rhythm lately in Vegas. Given that Black is already accustomed to the bullpen role and it is the least disruptive to the existing system, this is my preferred alternative.

2) Move Jenrry Mejia to the pen, and call up Rafael Montero or Jacob deGrom. I am sick of hearing what Mejia ‘wants’. If the organization believes that he is not well suited for a starting role (and this is a big if), then send him to the pen. We’re not dealing with a HOF player here, so I don’t get the sense of entitlement. Management signs your paycheck, do what they ask you to do. Now, throw this option out the window if they still feel he is a top of the rotation kind of guy. My gut tells me, though, that this is not the case.

3) Make a deal. No more flyers. We have depth in the minor leagues. Let’s use it. This is my least favorite of the options, primarily due the time it could take to exercise it effectively. Our bullpen will still be an issue next year, so it is not like the dollars are wasted on this year alone. I love the guys in the minors, but if a proven, young 8th inning guy can be had for someone not named Noah, I would be inclined to listen hard.

Let’s not let the dream of winning baseball in 2014 quickly evaporate. The bullpen is our weakest link, Sandy. Make a move. And do it quickly.

Presented By Diehards

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Lagares’ Injury and the Optimist’s View Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:09:19 +0000 juan-lagares

The hamstring injury to Juan Lagares is unfortunate on so many levels. While the Spring was filled with much debate on how much playing time Lagares would see, it was clear he had become the team’s everyday centerfielder just two weeks into the season. With Lagares, the argument has always been that he is a defensive gem-maker and anything you get from the bat is gravy. But in the first 13 games, Lagares leads the team in AVG, OBP, SLG and OPS amongst Mets qualifiers. And if you add non-qualfiers, only Lucas Duda presents a reasonable argument on the power numbers. Let that sink in again. That Lagares is leading the team offensively is probably more of a statement on the rest of the Mets roster, but an .815 OPS with the kind of defense Lagares brings to the table has been exciting to see nonetheless.

Lagares has been one of the few bright spots in the early season for the Mets, and losing him for any stretch of time can certainly hurt. But let’s look at the rest of the team. The offense has been a disaster. As a team, the Mets are dead last in the NL in most major hitting categories. Their strikeout numbers will smash the MLB record if it continues at this pace. And there has certainly been little contribution from their biggest free agent acquisition of the offseason, as Curtis Granderson has really struggled.

Yet through this offensive ineptitude, the Mets are on the precipice of being a .500 club. If Lagares were to miss significant playing time, it could begin a nose-dive similar to last season that ended all Mets hopes before the first of June. But perhaps not. Chris Young can return on Friday and so far, no one can figure out how to get him out in his rehab stint in Vegas. Kirk Nieuwenhuis has also started the season hot in Vegas, with 2 HRs and a .810 OPS. Maybe they don’t possess Lagares’ glove (heck, who does?), but these guys bring significant defensive creds to the outfield.

Then what happens when David Wright starts hitting like David Wright? Travis d’Arnaud has shown some signs of breaking out of his early season fog. And then there is Granderson. Surely, there has to be more from our clean-up hitter than what we have seen to date?

I am probably more bummed for Lagares as a player. He has certainly earned the right to play everyday and it stinks that he will almost certainly miss a chunk of time. Hamstrings don’t heal quickly and there is always a risk of re-injury if the rehab is rushed. But the fact is Lagares pretty much carried this team at the plate for the first two weeks of this season. Now it is time for the players that are supposed to carry us to step up. That means you David Wright. That means you Curtis Granderson. And if Chris Young can add something at the plate, I anticipate we’ll still be a .500 team when Lagares returns.

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Did We Do Enough To Improve The Offense? Fri, 28 Mar 2014 12:29:11 +0000 ike-davis-

The moving trucks are leaving Florida. The hopes of a last second deal have faded. In just a matter of days, our beloved Mets, with a near certain 25 man-roster, will take the field in Queens and the 2014 MLB season will commence.

So the question becomes, is this team as we know it, improved from the 2013 version?

The pitching staff, if healthy, could be. The rotation has more stability at the back-end than 2013, and there are multiple reinforcements in Las Vegas that are expected to see major league action by mid-season. While middle of the pack last year, Mets starting pitching could crack the Top 5 this year (and be dominant next year).

The bullpen was another area of concern, with an ERA ranking 12th and FIP ranking 13th. It looks like we could see some improvement here, but the pen still seems to be laden with some question marks.

The biggest issue for this team last year, though, was hitting. The Mets ranked in the bottom third of the league in many key statistical areas including:

- AVG (14th)
– OBP (12th)
– SLG (14th)
– Runs (11th)
– K% (14th)

Ironically, one offensive area where the Mets ranked high amongst NL leaders was stolen bases (3rd). However, with such a poor ability to hit for average, that didn’t necessarily manifest into an abundance of runs, or more importantly, wins.

So, did the front office address any of these concerns with the team expected to take the field on Monday afternoon?

If Curtis Granderson can stay healthy, the team’s slugging percentage could be one area where the team shows a significant increase, especially if David Wright can duplicate what he did last season and stay on the field for 150 or more games. A solid rookie season from Travis d’Arnaud will help too.  

However, unless we see a major rebound from Ruben Tejada and whoever mans first base, I find it difficult to believe that we’ll see much improvement in either AVG or OBP.

Ike Davis and Lucas Duda ranked 9th and 10th respectively in highest strikeout rate (minimum 300 PA). I suppose there will be few instances where each will be in the same lineup this season. But with both still on the Opening Day roster, the jury is out on how much the overall team strikeouts will diminish (Mets and Braves led the NL with 1,384).

What do you think? Have we improved enough offensively? And where can we expect to see the greatest improvement with the 2014 Mets?

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Featured Post: The Reality (or lack thereof) of 90 Wins Sun, 23 Mar 2014 15:42:42 +0000 alderson-sandy

Let me first go on the record to say that I would much rather have Mets GM Sandy Alderson set an expectation of 90 wins, as opposed to, say, 90 losses. For teams that look to overachieve, the first step is believing you are better than you actually are. And when it was first reported, my initial thought was “well, Sandy is a smart guy, so maybe there is something to this.”

But you know who else is smart? Vegas. And the current Over/Under on Mets wins in 2014 is set at 73 ½. I’ll give the team the benefit of rounding up, and call it 74. And that is exactly the win total from last year.  I wouldn’t think it is common to lose a potential Cy Young candidate and staff ace for the year and see your projected wins go up. But the team did make some moves in the offseason, and the bookmakers have basically called it a wash with the absence of Matt Harvey.

So, in order for Sandy’s proclamation to become reality, the team needs to pick up 16 wins vs. last year. 16 wins that don’t appear to be there according to folks whose business it is to know such things. For every team, though, there is an upside number when trying to project a season. An “if all things break right” win total. Could that number be 90?

Looking at 2013 in detail, what emerged was a year clearly defined by four micro seasons:

  1. Horrendous Start- Opening Day-June 17th: Record 25-40
  2. A Burst of Energy :June 18th-All Star Break: Record 16-10
  3. Injuries, Injuries: All Star Break-August 28th: Record 18-22
  4. Playing out the String: August 29th-End of Season: Record 15-16

Below, I detail out some key highlights of each micro season and where the opportunity lies to pick up (or lose) wins this year.

1. Horrendous Start

The Mets dug themselves in a hole early, and were already 10 games under .500 by the third week in May. By the end of Micro Season One, the team was 15 games below .500. This is despite Harvey putting up Cy Young worthy stats throughout this stretch.

The culprits are not a surprise to anyone. The production from first base was beyond abysmal. The 1B slash line from Ike Davis (54 games) /Justin Turner (13 Games) /Daniel Murphy (6 games) and Lucas Duda (1 game) was a putrid .194/.268/.273. Ruben Tejada was batting .209 before he hit the DL in late May. And the Mets record in games started by Jeremy Hefner and Shaun Marcum was 4-20 in that stretch.

Clearly, there is an opportunity to improve in this stretch in 2014. But how much? Davis and Tejada, as of now, are still projected to be Opening Day starters. What is it they say about repeating the same mistakes and expecting a different result? But I think it is safe to say the leash will be considerably shorter than 2 months. Unlike last year, there are better backup options for those positions than Justin Turner and Omar Quintanilla. And there is also room for optimism on the pitching front.  While it is unfair to expect Bartolo Colon to match Harvey’s start from last year, the rest of the rotation should be much improved. Zack Wheeler could be a formidable #2. Dillon Gee was a much different pitcher at the end of last season than the beginning. That leaves Dice-K and Niese to improve on the Mets 4-20 record in games pitched by Hefner and Marcum.

Upside:  +6 wins

2. A Burst of Energy

Micro Season Two of 2013 commenced with the call-up of Wheeler on June 18th. But it was far more than the debut of the prized prospect that led to a turnabout in fortune for the struggling Mets. Hefner was lights out in this stretch going 3-0 with a 1.91 ERA in 5 starts.  Dillon Gee was consistent and provided depth. And Josh Satin provided some much needed stability at 1B with a 1.04 OPS by the Break.

2014 could shape up to be similar from a dynamics perspective, with an anticipated call up of Noah Syndergaard in the mid-June timeframe. Still, the .615 winning percentage from 2013 is probably as high an upside as we will get. It’s likely to even go down.

Upside: Even

3. Injuries, Injuries

Slow starts after the All Star Break have become something of a thing with these Mets lately. The last time they had a winning record from the Break through Aug. 1 was 2007. This is despite having an above .500 record going into the Break 5 times in this timespan. Last year, injuries played a key role in the six-weeks following the Midsummer Classic. Jon Niese, David Wright, Jeremy Hefner and Bobby Parnell all missed significant time during this stretch. And on Aug. 26th Matt Harvey was placed on the DL, ending his season.  This period ends with the trade of Marlon Byrd to Pittsburgh two days later.

Injuries are always the wildcard in these projections, and the Mets don’t have a ton of depth.  Since history shows us that .500 is even a reach after the Break, I’ll go with that for the upside:

Upside: +2 wins

4. Finish Strong or Playing out the String?

Projecting the final segment of 2014 is completely dependent on the results of the first 3. Will the Mets shut down Wheeler? Did the Mets improve their roster at the deadline? Did they sell off key assets? If the above upside scenario manifests itself, they will enter the September stretch with a record of 66-65. While a nice improvement, it would not put the Mets in an “all-in” scenario to finish the season.  With the squad they had last year, they finished a respectable 15-16 in these final 31 games. I can see a couple of games of upside here, but realistically, they probably overachieved last year.

Upside: + 2 wins

Adding it together, an upside ceiling may be an incremental 10 wins, putting the team at 84. Still a considerable gap remains between this and the 90 thrown out by Alderson. And again, this does not take into consideration any potential downsides (injuries, players have down years, etc). Getting past 84 will likely require more talent, and getting 6 more wins from the options we have been reading about seems unlikely.

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MLB Opening Series: Another Reason I am Glad to be a Mets Fan Sun, 23 Mar 2014 12:34:12 +0000 los-angeles-dodgers-v-arizona-20140323-064218-378

The 2014 MLB season opened on Friday with a matchup of the big dollar Los Angeles Dodgers vs. the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks. A division matchup. A big market team vs. an upstart rival with a payroll roughly half of its opponent. It seems this should be a game for MLB to showcase. And it did….sort of. The game was played in Australia at 4am ET and 1am for the hometown fans of the teams playing. All I can say is Thank God my favorite team wasn’t playing in it.

A quick glance at Wikipedia shows a much bigger problem for MLB than trying to grow the game worldwide. People in the US have turned away. It was common place throughout the 80s and early 90s for the World Series to draw an average rating in the 20s. Last year, with two traditional markets, the average rating for the Boston/St. Louis matchup was 8.9. Contrast that to the NFL’s marque event where ratings have been steady for over 40 years, according to Nielsen.

I can’t imagine how frustrated fans of these teams must feel. Especially fans of the Dodgers. Many are already locked out of games due to a fight between cable distributors and SportsNet LA, excellently highlighted by the LA Times. Sure, some hardcore fans may have pulled the all-nighter. But many fans probably didn’t. For me, while I consider myself as hardcore as a mid-40 year-old fan can be, I probably would have DVRed it and watched later. Work and kids just add complexities to TV watching in the middle of the night. Know why sports rights fees are going through the roof? It’s because it is the one TV medium where live appointment viewing is required. MLB does not want to start discouraging that behavior.

So with 8 days to go before MLB Opening Day, I am ecstatic that I have the option to take off from work a little early, find a local watering hole with MLB Extra Innings, think of all the possibilities of the upcoming season, enjoy a beverage or two, and still have a good night’s sleep. Let’s Go Mets!

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Collins, Tejada and the Mess at Shortstop Tue, 18 Mar 2014 11:00:36 +0000 New York Mets Spring Training at their Minor League practice facility located within Tradition Field in Florida

There is a certain segment of the fanbase that will never give Terry Collins the benefit of the doubt. He certainly does not help himself when he does things like announcing to the media that Eric Young Jr. is his likely candidate for the lead-off spot, presumably to the detriment of fan-favorite Juan Lagares. But the ire from the Twitterverse regarding the news that Collins gave embattled shortstop Ruben Tejada a pep talk last week and told him he is the Mets shortstop is bewildering.

First, what Collins told Tejada was the truth. He is the shortstop on this team. Unless you count Triple-A player Omar Quintanilla, there is no other serviceable shortstop on the roster. And for the folks that believe there is no way on God’s Earth that EY Jr. should start over the defensive wunderkind Lagares (myself included), it would be hypocritical to suggest Wilmer Flores should start over Tejada at short for the same reason.

Second, it’s Collins’ job to make the most of the roster he is given. And without another decent option currently at his disposal, his best shot is to salvage the confidence of his young shortstop. A confidence that was done no favors by words spoken from his GM during the off-season.

Maybe there will come a day when Sandy Alderson provides Collins with a reasonable alternative. Count me in the camp that believes the Mets should be aggressive in finding a long term solution at shortstop (read: trade for Owings or Franklin; pass on a one-year signing of Drew). And I want to believe something will occur before Opening Day. But history has shown us that the word “aggressive” is not something typically associated with this front office.

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