Mets Merized Online » Michael Branda Sat, 31 Jan 2015 06:00:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sometimes A Good Baseball Decision Is Just A Good Baseball Decision Fri, 16 Jan 2015 21:18:15 +0000 ian desmond

The topic of “Who will play SS?” seems to be dominating the airwaves (or broadband waves) over the last few weeks in our beloved Mets universe. While examining the topic, I’ve started to notice that the sentiment is shifting from “make a move that makes sense,” to “just make a move!”

As many of you saw, Fox’s Ken Rosenthal wrote that the Mets should go “all-in” on Ian Desmond. I have a few problems with his take.

For starters, his argument is that the Nationals likely have not signed Desmond because they are “not offering market value.” Then he explains that Desmond “likely would command $150 million as a free agent next offseason.”

Now I’m sorry, but Ian Desmond is a nice baseball player (who has been in offensive decline the last two years) – but $150 million?

Troy Tulowitzki who EVERYBODY would agree is the best SS when he is on the field, signed a contract worth $157 million in November of 2010. David Wright signed a contract worth $138 million in December of 2012.

You’re going to sit there and honestly tell me you agree that Ian Desmond and his .764 OPS in 2013-2014 is worth the same dollar amount as Tulo or more than Wright? Really?

And it’s not like Desmond is some superior defensive player either. Each of the last two years, Depending on your favorite defensive metric, Desmond has finished roughly about 10th among SS each of the last two seasons.

daniel murphyHe’s a decent ballplayer, but his offensive numbers are declining. In Rosenthal’s example, the Mets should trade Daniel Murphy for Desmond – and then pay Desmond.

Why does that make sense on the field to rob Peter simply to pay Paul? If you are trying to acquire Desmond, you’re basically saying you don’t believe in Wilmer Flores. Yet, if you trade Daniel Murphy – who do you think becomes the 2B? Wilmer Flores.

Is Desmond SO much better to have on your roster than Murphy? I don’t see that as being true at all.

Whenever I look at evaluating a baseball player, I try and eliminate their best year. Why? Because I believe if a player is most like his best season – then that will show up when you eliminate it. However, one great season could elevate a player to a ranking he might not really deserve.

For Desmond, take out 2012. It existed and it’s worth recognizing, but could also inflate his value.

Desmond Breakdown

That is what the Mets should go “all-in” for? Not only in terms of trading away talent, but also giving $150 million to? Why? To prove they CAN pay a player, even if he doesn’t deserve it?

There is a growing sentiment as Rosenthal explains about the Mets finances stopping them from making a move like this. Why can’t it be a baseball decision? Why does everything have to come down to dollars and cents and a refusal to pay?

It doesn’t all come down to money. It all comes down to talent first. Every time the Mets choose to not make a move, it’s POSSIBLE to think about baseball first, financials second.

ruben-tejadaWhether we like it or not, Ruben Tejada was actually one of the best defensive SS in the sport last year. Whether we like it or not there is a belief that Wilmer Flores can hit in the bigs.

Moving away from Desmond for a second, getting a new SS for the sake of getting a new SS is NOT a smart baseball move.

You see a lot of people mentioning a desire to acquire SS Brad Miller and that’s great and all, but the guy hasn’t proven he can hit in the bigs either.

Quite frankly, he wasn’t a better defensive SS than Tejada either. So if you’re getting a kid solely for his potential – why can’t you see what Flores has to offer first?

The TRUTH is, the SS position is NOT very deep in MLB. It’s likely why the Mets kept Tejada because they figure if they go into 2015 with Flores/Tejada and Flores proves he cannot hit in the bigs full-time, they at least have themselves a defensive minded SS which is something worth hanging onto.

People want Tulo circa 2009 or Jose Reyes circa 2008 – it’s not happening. It’s unrealistic.

To me there are six guys you could label as real difference makers worth getting right now at SS: Tulo, Andrelton Simmons, Jhonny Peralta, Erick Aybar, J.J. Hardy and Starlin Castro.

Until Tulo doesn’t cost you Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, or Syndergaard – he simply is not a gamble worth taking. You can gamble his contract v. playing time – but you can’t ante up with an arm like those four.

I’m sorry, he’d bring a lot of excitement to the team and I hope he could stay on the field, but the Mets would be taking ALL of the risk there by taking on his contract plus losing an incredibly valued talent like Noah Syndergaard? Pass.

The Rockies also are seemingly not getting any bites on Tulo – that price tag is going to drop eventually, so why submit to it now before you even see if Tulowitzki is fully recovered from hip surgery?

Simmons, not going anywhere – move along.

Peralta, had their chance – didn’t get him… said they were aggressive, can’t live in the past.

Aybar – doubt you can get him now.

Hardy – doubt you can get him now, hope O’s falter and then maybe.

Castro – you sacrifice a glove at SS, but his bat is a difference maker and I’m not sure what is going on there.

That’s it.

With everybody else, there are more logical reasons not to get the player than to get him. I like the IDEA of Brad Miller, but I don’t think he changes much in 2015, and I don’t see how you can give Seattle a big price tag for a kid who hasn’t proven he is any better than Wilmer Flores right now.

The bottom line is – for the Mets, there are other reasons besides the Wilpons for not making moves. Making a trade for the sake of adding payroll is a terrible way to manage a baseball team, and I am glad we have somebody in charge of making those decisions who doesn’t listen to the hysteria surrounding the off-season.

The Mets could use a SS, nobody’s denying that – but they don’t have to make a bad baseball decision just to prove themselves capable of signing a paycheck.

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Featured Post: Now Is The Time To Make A Difference Wed, 08 Oct 2014 20:16:19 +0000 sandy alderson

It is officially the time of the year when every Mets fan begins to try and figure out a way to turn this franchise into a contender in 2015.

For the first time in a long time, there actually is a serious chance that with one or two moves – the Mets can be a contender next year.

The problem I have with all of this chatter thus far is that some fans are seemingly trying to once again look for the “affordable” fix. This is a team that could enter 2015 with the best 1-5 pitching staff in the sport, and saying that would not be viewed as an exaggeration.

That’s something to build around, and a formula for success. However, what they do around them will dictate just how dedicated to winning the Mets really are.

If you’re the Mets or a fan of the Mets you cannot, I repeat CANNOT accept a non-difference maker offensive player being brought to this team for 2015. End of story, not up for discussion.

markakisFellow MMO Staffer Harris Decker posted his top five free agents that could help. The first one was Nick Markakis, and I am telling you right now – if the Mets come to us this winter and claim they have solved their offensive woes by signing Nick Markakis, I might throw up in my mouth. He is a fine ballplayer, but the guy has a .707 OPS over the last two years. The Mets don’t need another .700 OPS hitter. That’s more of the same, not a true fix.

I am so tired of hearing anybody, fans, media, and the team owners talk about the payroll for 2015. Who cares what the payroll is? Seriously, why does anybody care about a number right now? The Mets could get rid of substantial payroll via trade, add a difference maker and have a far better team than 2014 and spend the same or less money doing it.

So who cares what the payroll is? The issue shouldn’t be “you better spend X” it should be “you better go get the right talent.”

That’s the statement we as fans should be making. That is the statement the Wilpons and Alderson should be making.

Rather than talk about imaginary payroll numbers as if anybody knows free agent demands right now, tell me you’re going to get the right players…no matter the cost because you recognize a chance to be a contender in 2015.

If that means your payroll ends up at $80 million or $100 million, I could care less. Just don’t tell me the payroll is the reason you backed away from a difference maker.

Let me be clear on something – there is a difference between being concerned with Troy Tulowitzki’s contract because of his health issues as it relates to the financial commitment and backing away from a player with limited risk, a quality resume but a high salary.

The Mets are in NEED of a power hitting corner outfielder, and potentially a SS/2B.

If they are confident Wilmer Flores is the SS for 2015, and they can figure out the Daniel Murphy/Dilson Herrera situation, that’s probably going to be acceptable for 2015, so long as there is a utility/backup option put into place.

What is not acceptable however, is trying to in any way claim the corner outfield position can be fixed internally, or through patch work Chris Young-style signings. Players like Matt den Dekker are nice players with excellent defensive ability, but the Mets simply do not have the luxury right now to dedicate a corner outfield spot based primarily on defense.

Jose BautistaJoe D. posted a thought about acquiring Jose Bautista on Wednesday. That is the type of move you need to make if you’re the Mets. He changes everything for the 2015 Mets, and the 2016 Mets. He’d bring life back to Flushing and would make everybody around him put up better offensive numbers as well.

I’m not sure what I would “offer,” because I have no idea Toronto’s true intention with that kind of move. I’d think if you’re dealing Bautista, you’re looking for young players, not Daniel Murphy and Jon Niese. But who knows? They need to find out though.

If the Mets give you more of the same this off-season with patch work signings, then they simply are proving to you and I, once and for all, that this is more about saving money than winning games.

I cannot remember a more vital off-season for this franchise. If it’s more of the same in 2015, even the strongest Alderson supporters will start to wonder what is really going on.

If a legitimate attempt at bringing in a difference maker is made, then the cynical fan who is quick to point out the Mets failures will start to come back, and be re-connected with the team and the rest of the fans.

I gave them a pass to get their house in order since 2011, but the time to make a splash and rejuvenate your fan base – is right now.

There are no excuses for failing to do so.

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Mets Need a New Manager: Roger That. Fri, 05 Sep 2014 15:00:49 +0000 *Apr 01 - 00:00*05_Flatbed_WEB

When the initial managerial search took place, I didn’t mind the hire of Terry Collins over Wally Backman. In fact, I thought it was the right move (and still do) because I felt that a Backman hire would have simply been a move to appease fans, but not to necessarily win ball games.

Every fan who stomps their foot and says “We’d be better with Backman!” is pretty much just inventing a fairy tale. For starters, there’s no way to know that. Secondly, if “we” are so smart and “know” Backman could turn a 75-ish win team into a “better” team, then why hasn’t anybody else hired him? Heck, why hasn’t anybody else brought him into a final round of interviewing?

For every fan out there who is now using the fact Backman was recently named the PCL Manager of the Year as their evidence that he should be the Mets manager, let me toss this nugget out to you.

In 1988, Terry Collins was the PCL Manager of the Year, so take it easy with the award sealing the deal.

The truth is, none of us know if Backman will be the right man to lead the Mets – I personally do not see it happening under Sandy Alderson because (unfortunately) I do not think Alderson puts as much stock into the field manager as some of us would like him to.

For those that are in lock step with Alderson, I’d find any argument that says the Rays, Indians, Yankees, Angels, and Orioles would be as consistently successful without Maddon, Francona, Girardi, Scioscia and Showalter to be totally invalid.

This isn’t a Wally piece though. This is me recognizing that Collins is not the man to lead the Mets into what HAS to be a successful 2015 campaign. He was/is a good team-soldier but I think it’s time to move on. The problem is, I don’t think they will because I think he fits the mold for an Alderson-type manager.

But, let’s assume for a second that Alderson can do what all great executives do and go outside their comfort zone when needed.

One name that you never, ever hear tossed around is Roger McDowell.

Before I get into the case FOR McDowell, I totally understand that the incident in San Francisco back in 2011 was unacceptable and I’m in no way advocating for such behavior. However, he admitted his mistake, and hopefully learned from it.

Mets fans want a manager with Mets roots right? I don’t necessarily understand why it’s so important, but it clearly is. So McDowell obviously qualifies there.

McDowell has been the pitching coach for Atlanta since 2006, and replaced one of the greatest pitching coaches in recent memory (Leo Mazzone) and nobody really noticed.

McDowell has consistently gotten the best out of his pitching staffs in spite of injuries, age or experience.

For those looking for personality, but also a spark in the clubhouse and demand for excellence– how does McDowell not fit that criteria?

There used to be a thought that pitching coaches couldn’t win as managers in the big leagues – but then the 2013 season happened and John Farrell proved that theory to be false.

McDowell sat next to one of the greatest Managers (Bobby Cox) in recent memory for five years, and also played for Davey Johnson & Tommy Lasorda. That’s not a bad trio to have on your resume.

For a team like the Mets who are so focused on pitching getting them over the hump – a guy like McDowell leading the way sounds like a pretty good fit to me.

What if your staff for 2015 consisted of McDowell at the helm, Backman on the bench, Teufel as a base coach and Warthen as the pitching coach (not sure about hitting coach right now)?

That’s a staff that is put together based on talent and the current team philosophy, and not purely for nostalgic reasons.

I don’t know if McDowell wants to be a Manager, nor do I know for certain that he would be the right guy for the job – but I do know that his name seemingly never gets mentioned by fans because we’re so fixated on Backman, and he has the resume, paired with the personality and experience to be a serious candidate for the Mets moving forward.

Plus, who doesn’t wanna see Bartolo Colon react to a hot foot?

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My “Piazza” Like Proposal Fri, 18 Jul 2014 15:30:21 +0000 The All-Star break tends to bring about random optimistic thoughts as well as trade discussions that most likely can’t or won’t happen.

So before any baseball gets started today, let me jump on the “why can’t we do this” train and propose a thought to everybody. I mean, heck, Ron Darling is even thinking we need to make a big blockbuster deal!

I think everybody who wants to see the Mets succeed is on board with the idea that they need an impact offensive player, right?

We’ve already beaten to death the idea of Troy Tulowitzki and Giancarlo Stanton. Yeah, I’d really like to acquire both players – Giancarlo in a heartbeat, Tulo with hesitation – but I’d do it.

You have to first think about the type of deal you’re offering to teams. So my package to acquire a true impact player includes Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero as the main components.

noah Syndergaard

I think both could be legitimate big league arms, but I’m starting to think their value may be in decline and truthfully – I don’t see a big need for them right now.

I am perfectly fine with a rotation that consists of Matt Harvey, Jon Niese, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee. I’d put that rotation up against almost anybody in the sport.

So I look at Syndergaard and Montero as pitchers who I’d love to see crack the Mets, but I also think they are the ones we do not really “know” what they can do at the big league level yet, and I think they might net the biggest piece without impacting the current rotation.

If you’re trying to acquire an elite offensive player, you can’t be cheap with your prospects. To me, if you trade a player like Wheeler or deGrom – you’re getting less back while also impacting your 2015 and beyond rotation. Sure, we can all HOPE Syndergaard is what we think he is, but we know what we have in deGrom and Wheeler. We have mid-rotation guys that every team would love to have, but with Syndergaard you have the hope and uncertainty of a potential #1. I want to sell teams on hope.

So let’s just say the Marlins are not trading Giancarlo – fine. I’m not totally sure if I would offer my two main chips for Tulo, but I could be convinced.

I wanted to look elsewhere and find an impact player that nobody seems to be talking about, but would make a huge difference.

I landed on Paul Goldschmidt. If the Mets offered a package that included Syndergaard, Montero and Lucas Duda to Arizona, would the Diamondbacks consider dealing the 26 year old first basemen?

I think they would – in fact, I think they’d probably be fools not to consider it.

0321130917cwp PNI0905-spt DiamondbacksThe Mets could even ask for a player like Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings back if they included another minor league chip.

Thus killing two birds with one trade, acquiring a high impact elite offensive player and giving the Mets a solid SS option.

Some may say we do not need to upgrade 1B, but I disagree. Lucas Duda has done an alright job over the last 2 months– but he’s already three years OLDER than Goldschmidt and isn’t even close to as good of a player.

At 26, Goldschmidt is signed through 2018 with a 2019 team option. He will make 3.1 million next year and top out at 11.1 million in 2018 (team option for just over $14 million). That is a contract the Mets have got to love.

Goldschmidt has spent his entire career in hitter friendly Arizona, but that has not impacted his numbers in any way. He is a lifetime .302 hitter in Arizona, with .547 SLG and .947 OPS and a .315 hitter on the road with a .551 SLG and .951 OPS, and oh by the way he won the gold glove last year. If you have a gold glove 1B, it makes having one of the best hitting 2B with below average defensive talent a whole lot easier to digest.

I have no doubt that Arizona is in love with Goldschmidt, but I do think my offer is very fair and if that team wants to build around pitching – we’d be giving them two significant prospects back – both who could crack their club within a year.

No matter where you go for an elite offensive talent, you’re giving up prospects we’ve all been reading about and hyping up. You cannot expect to rob somebody of their best young player, so you have to be willing to give something up.

To me, this deal accomplishes several things, all of which are needed when proposing a blockbuster deal.

It gives the Mets an elite, no doubt about it type of player for the next SEVERAL years. It keeps the Mets current rotation in tact (Swap Harvey for Colon), and it also allows the Mets to keep Daniel Murphy, which I also think is very important.

For the Diamondbacks, sure losing Goldschmidt isn’t ideal, but they net two projected 2015 starting pitchers whom they can control for 5+ years, they also net back a guy who isn’t as good as Goldschmidt but will do just fine at 1B for the time being – and they possibly net back another quality minor leaguer to clean out their SS clog.

Will it happen? I doubt it, but at this point – if you told me the Mets have a shot at acquiring Paul Goldschmidt, I think they’d be fools to not approach Arizona aggressively.

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Mets Need the Willingness to Fail Wed, 02 Jul 2014 15:00:56 +0000 new-york-mets braintrust collins, katz, wilpon alderson

As the Mets begin their 6th straight summer of “don’t call us, we’ll call you” caliber baseball, something has to change.

The focus for this franchise has been shedding huge contracts, and building up the farm system and in reality – they succeeded in that feat. Whether players like Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud or Zack Wheeler become big stars or not, those deals were deals that made perfect sense for the future of the ballclub.

Along with the acquired three, they have some excitement building around players like Dilson Herrera, Kevin Plawecki, Brandon Nimmo, and Dominic Smith to name a few.

Where this organization has failed miserably (most recently) is their lack of willingness to make a mistake.

I know, that sounds odd right? But think about some of the greatest successes in your life, you may have taken a risk for it to occur. Not many situations align perfectly where there is little risk involved in being successful.

For the Mets, I understand that they do not want to fall in the hole that contracts like Jason Bay or Johan Santana put them in – but here’s the truth. If you’re constantly afraid of long-term commitment to players, then you’re never going to A) attract established talent to play for this team and B) keep your pipeline players when it comes time to pay them a larger salary.

I’m not one to pay free agents huge contracts, but at some point – you have to push aside your thoughts on the past and do what is right for the team in its current state.

This team has done a great job on finding low risk players on the market and getting the most out of them while they could. Players like Marlon Byrd, LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Hairston, John Buck, Jeremy Hefner, Carlos Torres, and even Daisuke Matsuzaka come to mind. None of these players are winning you a championship – but they are the types of players you need to have a solid big league roster.

The problem is, the Mets have become fairly good at finding players like this, and fairly terrible at finding players they need to spend money on.

Everybody knew (pre-Astros diary) that the Mets needed corner outfield help, along with a great need to figure out the situation at 1B and SS prior to this season.

To me, signing Curtis Granderson was a low risk move to be honest. I think we all expected him to stay in New York but just switch uniforms, and sure the contract was probably longer than the Mets were comfortable with – but it was a low risk move.

In reality, there were three players the Mets scared themselves away from because they were unwilling to be wrong, or feared failure on a big risk.

Nelson Cruz, who admittedly I was at the time not interested in, has done nothing but prove the Mets wrong with every at bat. Not only was the lack of a move the wrong decision, but they doubled down by signing Chris Young as well.

In late May, this is what GM Sandy Alderson said about the hindsight of not signing Cruz and signing Young.

“Keep in mind, when we signed Chris Young, we signed him to a one-year deal. It was early in the offseason and we wanted to get a marker on the board,” Alderson said. “We had lost Marlon Byrd. The Phillies signed Marlon Byrd. So we wanted to make sure that we had ourselves covered in center field with somebody who had some pop and maybe could have the same type of bounce back year that a guy like Marlon Byrd had. “

“At the time, Nelson Cruz was looking for like $65 million to play — what? — left field for us. Not center field, where we needed some protection. He was going to have to play left field. It was apples and oranges at that point. For the fact that he ended up signing for $8 million weeks, months later, I think is kind of an unfair comparison.”

So I have two problems with this. The first is that he’s telling you that he was more interested in making a low risk move by a player that could “maybe” bounce back from previous failures. That’s a low expectation signing that you’re hoping will work out – not a signing you EXPECT to work.

Second, this shows a lack of understanding of what the Mets had in Juan Lagares. It seems funny to me that the Mets refused to upgrade other positions because they felt they have talent there (borderline talent at 1B), but when it comes to Chris Young – he was brought here to play CF and the idea of getting a big time power bat to play LF is scoffed at?

Fun fact, Chris Young has started 69 games in the outfield with 40 of them being in LF.

Now, a FAIR assessment of Nelson Cruz that seems to be forgotten frequently is that half of his offensive success has come as a DH. Totally fair point, but he’s also been very solid at the plate while starting in LF.

The Mets told you above that the reason they didn’t get him wasn’t become he’s a half and half fielder to DH ratio, they told you they didn’t sign him because they wanted production out of CF and were trying to replace an outfielder they traded away in August. You didn’t lose Marlon Byrd, you traded him away – there’s a difference.

If signing Nelson Cruz to a two year deal worth maybe $40 million is such an outrageous idea, then how do the Mets intend on ever fixing the lineup? Power doesn’t come cheap and you aren’t finding impact talent in the bargain bin.

The second mistake was clearly the lack of signing Jose Abreu. Abreu to me was a huge risk of course, but the real reason the Mets didn’t make that move in my view is because they were busy trying to sell teams that Lucas Duda or Ike Davis were better players than they really are.

They were unwilling to just cut the cord and move on, and acquire a player they likely KNEW was an answer at 1B because if they did that, then they wouldn’t have received any “value” on their current clog at 1B.

Once again, an unwillingness to be wrong, and a fear of failure bites the Mets right in the you know what.

The third move was Stephen Drew, and you know what? They were right. Not that Ruben Tejada by any stretch is the “answer” in my view, but had they signed Drew – it would have been a mistake.

Still, even if they had pulled the trigger, can you imagine how different this team would look with an outfield of Cruz, Lagares, and Granderson paired with an infield of David Wright, Stephen Drew, Daniel Murphy, Jose Abreu and Travis d’Arnaud?

Even with the FAILURE of signing Stephen Drew – this team would have been watchable. This team would have been competitive and they wouldn’t be using Matt Harvey’s injury as an excuse for having a one-way ticket toward protected draft picks. (You know, like the Braves use their Tommy John surgeries as an excuse for poor play, right?)

Hindsight is a tricky thing, and a lot goes on behind the scenes that we’ll never know about (how bad do you want a Mets journal to be leaked?).

The Mets are in a bad spot with a ballpark that is not hitter friendly at all. Which means in order to attract players to the Mets, they have to overpay – which is something they clearly are not willing to do.

If you look at the 2015 free agent market and ask yourself how the Mets can fix their offensive holes, you’re going to have a difficult time answering. So unless the Mets are willing to deal some talented young arms for offense by February of 2015 – you might as well call 2015 “The Year of Rinse and Repeat.”

When evaluating a GM you need to look at their player acquisitions in two ways. Whether they find valuable pieces in a low risk, high reward market – and whether they succeed when taking big risks.

The Mets don’t take risks. They are afraid of taking risks right now, and until they overcome that fear – this team will be known as the team with great young pitching that is consistently drowning in quality start defeats.

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The Easiest Thing To Do In Baseball? Mon, 16 Jun 2014 20:28:28 +0000 jose reyes

By now, you all have read that Jose Reyes & Josh Thole shared their views of David Wright and the New York Mets as a franchise.

You know, it’s funny to me. With Reyes, you have a guy who had his career built here in New York – a guy who took a big contract with a BAD team, talking about how he just wants to win? And he feels bad for Wright in his current situation?

Let me break this down for you Jose. In 2007, the Mets had one of the most epic collapses in baseball history – you hit .205 in September, Wright hit .352.

The Mets followed up said that epic collapse with an encore performance – you hit .243 that September, Wright hit .340.

So Jose when you say things like:

“After a little while, you just want to win, it’s not about the money, because we are already set. We’ve got a contract and it’s now about winning. We’re not getting any younger, you know? What is he, 31? I’m 31. I want to win. So I know about that.”

“At this point, we want to win. I’m tired of being in last place. I want to play meaningful games in September. The year that we went to the playoffs in 2006, oh, man, that was an unbelievable feeling. Just every game that we played, like wow, the intensity and stuff. I loved that. We’re in a good position this year to have a good year.”

Maybe you should focus on YOUR role in the Mets recent failures rather than feeling sorry for the guy who chose to stay here and try to see things through? You are one of the reasons why the Mets are where they are. Had you performed to your ability in 2007 or 2008, things could be different yet. You’re not a victim, you’re a cause.

In fact, Reyes not only was a MAJOR factor in the 2007 and 2008 choke jobs – but he also played a major role in not one but TWO teams with HUGE expectations falling flat on their face (Miami 2012, Toronto 2013). Where was Jose’s views of the Mets in 2012 and 2013? Oh right he was too busy contributing to another failure. 

You want to feel bad for David Wright because he is here now? How did you feel when you let him and everybody down in 2007 and 2008 with a AAA performance when things were falling apart? Oh but wait, at that point you apparently were not intrigued by playoff baseball as you are now since you’re team is 40-30. I guess back then you didn’t care about meaningful games in September.

Say whatever you want about the Mets, and Sandy Alderson – but Jose Reyes CHOSE to go to a bad baseball team for the money. Yeah, the Mets could have matched it if they wanted to, but I believe Reyes wanted to leave regardless – he wanted his money, he didn’t care about winning when he signed with Miami. He cared about the paycheck.

Then you have Josh Thole, the backup catcher who only kept a job because he could catch a knuckleball. Thole couldn’t even stay in the big leagues in 2013 and now suddenly is a bit chatty since he has 18 hits in 68 plate appearances.

“It was there from ’09 through ’12 and it was ‘wait till next year, wait till next year,’ ” said catcher Josh Thole, who came to the Blue Jays in the R.A. Dickey, Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard deal. “I always tell the guys: The hardest thing in the baseball world, in my opinion, is to play in New York for the Mets. No. 1, you have a bunch of young kids coming up. Every day, there’s something.  A story. Everything is a story there. So you can get caught up into that quickly. It’s just a tough place to play. I would say it’s been the hardest for David. He just signed that bangin’ deal. It’s just weird.”

No Josh, the hardest thing in baseball is watching you swing a bat. Stop acting like you’re some established veteran, you’re lucky to keep a big league job. You’re a backup catcher right now, and you’re 27 – keep quiet. The rest of the sentence in your quote should have read “wait till next year maybe we will find a new catcher.”

When it’s all said and done, Reyes got his money, and coincidentally he has had his three worst big league seasons since signing that contract that many of us felt he was not worth. So yet again, a guy had his career year just in time for a new contract – funny how that happens huh?

Still, the Blue Jays are leading the AL East (in a down year) – and maybe he will get his wish and play meaningful games in September (and hit .220). Good for him.

So I guess if playing for the Mets is the hardest thing in baseball, we know what the easiest thing to do in baseball is, right?

Riding the coattails of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.

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Prediction Audit: Hits and Misses…Mostly Misses Thu, 12 Jun 2014 16:55:06 +0000 David-Price

So here we are, 40% of the season is done and the Mets are 61 games away from the 90 win bar set by GM Sandy Alderson before the season started. So the Mets only need to play .628 ball the rest of the way to achieve their 90 wins, totally do-able (crickets).

So, Sandy wasn’t the only one who swung and missed on his 2014 prediction, before the season started I gave you my predictions too. Let’s look at my hits and misses thus far.

AL East: Tampa, Boston, New York, Toronto, Baltimore – Swing and a miss! Tampa’s offense has made the Mets look like the Big Red Machine, and Boston’s luck appears to have run out. Toronto has had a pretty red hot last 30 days and has the rest of the division in the rear view mirror. You know it’s bad here when people actually wish they had an injury prone .735 OPS hitter as their SS again. As for the Yankees? Nailed it.

AL Central: Detroit, Cleveland, Kansas City, Minnesota, Chicago –   Well, I guess I was right so far with regards to the Tigers. But seriously, anybody who picked against Detroit this year was just playing the odds. I think one big miss I had was Jose Abreu – that guy is scary. Still, the rest of the division is hovering the .500 mark so I think it’s too early to tell what was right and what was wrong. Xtreem’s MVP pick has been terrible huh? Where did you go Eric Hosmer?

AL West: Los Angeles, Texas, Oakland, Seattle, Houston – Right now, you can put LA, Texas and Seattle in a hat and draw two names and you’ll be just fine. I feel okay about my predictions for those 3 teams. What still gets me is Oakland. At the next Sandy lover meeting, I’m probably going to have to do push ups when they re-read my Oakland prediction. I don’t know what it is about that team, but they defy “on paper,” so magnificently. Their critics over the last twenty years point to the lack of World Series championships – but this is a team on its way to their 9th 90+ win season in the last 15 years, second only to the Yankees who have 11. It baffles me that people do not respect that.

NL East: Washington, Atlanta, New York, Miami, Philadelphia – You know what I find funny is when people excuse the Nats current lack of a big division lead on “injuries.” Meanwhile Atlanta is thinking, “um hello?” The Braves, like Oakland just continue to defy logic it seems. It’s really telling what a well-run organization can do when faced with great challenges. Atlanta pretty much started the whole Tommy John epidemic conversation, and they have not looked like a team that lost anybody. Miami is somehow still hanging tough without Jose Fernandez, probably thanks to that Giancarlo fella everybody talks about. I totally crushed my awards though right? Harper-Colon-DiceK. That’s what horse racing fans call a Trifecta!

NL Central: St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Milwaukee – Crushed it! Man those Brewers are terrible right? Probably something like 10 games out of the…what’s that? Oh they are the 3rd best team in the sport? Oh, that’s my bad. But seriously, isn’t that pretty much everybody’s bad? Is somebody going to comment that they saw this coming? Fun fact, Ryan Braun’s OPS is EXACTLY the same as it was when he was suspended last year. Weird. Still, I think the Cardinals can take this division and I’m okay with sliding Cincy and the Buccos down a slot to make room for the Brew Crew in 2nd. Before anybody does it, the fact Carlos Gomez is good now – doesn’t mean the Mets should have not acquired Johan Santana. So don’t even bother typing it. Speaking of Carlos Gomez (I know my most loyal “fans” won’t like this) but whenever a player in their late 20’s suddenly becomes a power hitter, don’t we usually have a habit of questioning that? 44 HR in 2,130 plate appearances through the age of 26, now 36 HR in 858 appearances at 27 and 28. No biggy, probably special vitamins or something. I guess I just find it odd that a guy who was never seen as a power threat is suddenly becoming one late in his career. (And here they go!)

NL West: Los Angeles, Arizona, San Diego, San Francisco, Colorado – Seems like the answer to my question “Can anybody stop the Dodgers?” is yes, “themselves.” I couldn’t have been more wrong about San Francisco and Arizona though, jeez. Back to LA, it’s amazing that a team with so much talent can be such a mess. They can’t even be looked at like the Marlins a few years ago – because this team is pretty much the same roster as last year with some minor tweaks. I saw manager Don Mattingly blame chemistry – and I hate to tell ya Donny, but that’s on you. Colorado started to play really well, but they are starting to come back to reality. This division is a two team race between San Francisco and Los Angeles – and I myself would love to see the Giants take it.

So what does this all mean?

Clearly, I am going to blame the unpredictability of the sport and ignore the fact that with 40% of the season completed – my pick average is somewhere between the batting average of Travis d’Arnaud and Ruben Tejada.

So what has surprised you about your own predictions as we head into the dog days of summer?

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Mets Hitting Approach: Back to the Drawing Board Thu, 08 May 2014 18:58:19 +0000 dave_hudgens_2012_05_24

As I was driving around for work yesterday, I was listening to the Mets broadcast on the radio, and something occurred to me.

At some point this year, this team will be no-hit, and you can pretty much assume that their current major league philosophy is the reason not only for that, but for their overall lack of success at the plate.

I’m not a huge “hitting coach” kind of guy. I like to think that when a hitter comes up to the big leagues, he earned his way up by already becoming a major league hitter. Here’s the thing about the Mets though – there is a difference between an organizational philosophy which is an attempt to educate young hitters in an attempt to get them to the big leagues, and a major league hitting philosophy which could change a hitter’s mentality after he’s already reached the big leagues.

My view of a hitting coach is the same as a pitching coach in the major leagues. They are there to help you get back on track when you’ve lost your way a bit. They are supposed to recognize and adjust to each player’s styles and tendencies and work with them to be the best they can possibly be. I feel like Dan Warthen does that, but I get the sense that Dave Hudgens wants everybody to be the same, and if they don’t fit his idea of a quality hitter, he’s going to try and change them.

It’s hard to change people as they get older, and learn more tools that help them achieve success. Think of it as learning a new language, if you’ve only learned one language and you’re successful at what you do and somebody came to you and told you in order to achieve the same success, you have to learn a second language – that wouldn’t be easy to do.

Following the Mets loss to the Marlins, hitting coach Dave Hudgens had some interesting and perhaps concerning comments with regards to the Mets hitters and their approach.

The first quote in this piece to me, comes off as a whole lot of excuses and not a lot of substance.

“It’s a whole different environment in Colorado than it is here,” Hudgens said, contrasting the Mets’ 22 runs in four games at Coors Field versus their three runs in three games at Marlins Park. “Not even the ballpark, but the pitching staffs are a little bit different. We squared some balls up. We just have to keep working through it, trust the process and keep working. There’s no real secrets in it. We’ve just got to keep pushing forward. We hit some balls hard today, squared some balls up. Their pitching is really good.”

Now, I don’t mean to be totally disrespectful to the Marlins here but a guy like Tom Koehler has been more lucky, than good. The fact you can’t beat him says more about you than it does about him. Koehler is a guy with 29 K and 17 BB in 45 innings of work, also allowing 28 hits. You know what that means? That means he has been helped out tremendously by two factors. The first, is his defense and the second is his home ballpark.

If you cannot have success at the plate in spite of the difficult ballpark, then that is not an excuse, it’s a flaw. Spare me this idea that anybody outside of Jose Fernandez in Miami is a pitcher that you are worried about facing. Just because you failed, doesn’t make them something they are not.

You’d think that if any team could succeed in a tough hitter’s park, it’d be a team with a tough hitter’s park. Instead, we’re going to use that as an excuse?

Then Hudgens added to the fire.

“I’m not pleased with the results. I don’t think anybody is pleased with the results. But we’re doing everything we’ve always done as far as getting ready, routines, trying to make adjustments. I’m pleased with how the guys are working and going about their business. Most definitely.”

Perhaps I’m a little confused, but in 2013, the Mets OPS was ranked 14th out of the 15 teams in the NL and in 2014, they remain 14th as well. Maybe it’s just me, but perhaps doing the things you’ve always done isn’t exactly the best formula for success? Maybe, just maybe, if we look at the last few years and realize the offense hasn’t been good – that perhaps a new idea or new way of doing things might be the path to take?

Then, Hudgens explains what he believes is going on with Ruben Tejada.

“I just think he’s trying a little bit too hard. He’s swinging at some very marginal pitches. Yesterday he swung at two pitches that were up and in and hit ground balls. We’re kind of searching, wanting to get hits, as opposed to having a good approach and getting a good ball to hit and don’t try to force it. I think he’s just trying to force it a little bit right now.”

So here’s the other problem I have. If I know the Mets hitting approach pretty much doesn’t change, doesn’t that mean that every team in the NL knows that? It seems that the Mets are stuck on this idea of looking for that ONE pitch. But, here’s the problem. What if you miss that one pitch? Or what if that one pitch comes during the first pitch of the at bat and you watched it go by?

I get the approach with an 18 year old kid, I really do. The problem is you can’t change a hitter when they get to the big leagues. It’s sink or swim by that point, you either are a major league hitter or you are not. Changing how David Wright approaches each at bat does nothing positive for David Wright.

To be fair to Hudgens, there is some blame to go on the players as well. My point is not that I believe somebody like Ruben Tejada is a .290 hitter being held back by Hudgens’ approach. My point is that I think at a major league level, Hudgens’ approach is doing more harm than good.

Let’s say for argument (and dream) sake that the Mets found a way to bring in a superstar caliber hitter such as a Troy Tulowitzki, Giancarlo Stanton or somebody of that stature. What would be the Mets approach with them? To say, “hey what you did up to this point is why we brought you here, but let me introduce you to Dave Hudgens because he is going to change your approach”?

To me, where this team is whiffing (besides at the plate) is they have a minor league instructor trying to implement his methods at the big league level. You can’t do that. You don’t have Dan Warthen trying to change the way Bartolo Colon delivers his pitch do you?

The Mets are doing a lot of things right, even if it’s taking a little more time than some of us had hoped. Their biggest flaw however might be their lack of adjusting and re-tooling after something doesn’t work out the way they hoped.

Dave Hudgens as the major league hitting coach isn’t working. At the major league level, the learning process should be as close to complete as you can get with “experience” being the final piece to the puzzle. Anybody remember Carlos Delgado’s little notebook?

At some point this organization is going to have to admit defeat on some of their practices and adjust accordingly. It’s okay to fail sometimes, it’s how you respond to failure that says more about who you are than anything.

The worst response to failure is crossing your arms, denying that the failure exists and refusing to change your methods, and right now – that sums up the Mets quite nicely.


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Stop Trying to Fix the Mets Fri, 02 May 2014 15:30:48 +0000 wilpon alderson

Everybody wants to fix the Mets, and it seems that in doing so, we tend to forget the recent past.

When articles get written by the New York Times or ESPN’s Adam Rubin we tend to forget that the Mets were on the verge of something truly amazing in 2006.

Here’s the truth about the Mets, and it’s one of the reasons I love them yesterday, today and tomorrow. They aren’t the Yankees. They don’t have to be the Yankees to earn my loyalty, they can do gimmicky promotions and I simply do not care. Whether they wear 100 different uniforms, send an e-blast, or walk around Citi Field with banners – it doesn’t impact my passion for the team one bit.

banner nd 1

The people that suggest it does, I would counter with concerns that they are only happy when it rains. 

In everybody’s “fix” the knocks on ownership spending is almost certainly going to pop up. From 2001-2011, this ownership AVERAGED a payroll of more than $116 million and what did they get for it? They got ONE playoff appearance and an average of 79 wins.

Spare me this idea that they didn’t have the tools to win either, the Wilpon’s did NOTHING wrong in 2007 and 2008 in terms of giving the team it’s best chance to win.

Ignoring the fact that their personal finances were impacted thanks to Bernie Madoff is ignoring reality. But instead of recognizing that maybe re-signing an injury prone star SS to more than $100 mil while simultaneously being sued for $1 billion is unrealistic – we see others circle that moment as a refusal to spend money on the baseball team.

But if you try to say these owners refuse to spend money in order to win – you’re just plain lying. They spent a TON of money while trying to win, and it got them nothing.

By the way, in spite of our struggles at SS this year and potentially moving forward, the Mets were right about Reyes. You can stomp your feet all you want, but he had a career year and gave Miami one of his worst seasons in return, and then since joining Toronto he hasn’t been able to stay on the field.

Back to the Mets though.

Stephen Drew

Rubin suggests the Mets should spend money to make money by signing guys like Stephen Drew, or LaTroy Hawkins.

Can we get real, please?

Why should the Mets be the only team to go sign Stephen Drew to a stupid contract? Are they the ONLY team in baseball in need of a SS right now? Yet, it’s May and Drew isn’t on a team – if the Mets wanted him, they wouldn’t even need to stand in line. Yet signing him is a sign of what? A willingness to be desperate?

Hawkins was offered a closer’s job with Colorado. The Mets couldn’t offer that. It would have been nice to have him back, but he got a better offer with a team that was a better fit. It happens. So again, we’re going to ignore the reality of the situation and force the Mets to make poor financial choices just because spending other people’s money makes us feel good?

The Mets are building a young core, I’m not going to sit here and force the Wilpon’s to apologize for the fact young homegrown players don’t make as much money as overpriced past their prime free agents.

The payroll doesn’t matter, and trying to equate payroll to wins is so “steroid era.” Anybody who covers baseball will tell you that the St. Louis Cardinals are one of, if not the best run organization in the sport. They rarely if ever go through a long rebuilding phase, and yet they consistently find themselves in the playoff mix.

Yet, during the same 11 year period of 2001-2011, the Cardinals AVERAGED a payroll of just over $89 million, they averaged 90 wins and had 7 playoff appearances, with 2 World Series victories – no big deal.

So why is the common thread on fixing this team based on players getting paid when the National League blueprint franchise is proving that isn’t what matters?

This obsession with trying to be the Yankees is growing tired. From 2001-2011, which team do you think had happier owners, the Cardinals or the Yankees?

Just recently, former Mets outfielder Marlon Byrd said this about the current Mets team:

“There’s a reason they should believe they should win 90 games — or more,” Byrd said. “Then you bring in character guys like a Curtis Granderson, a Chris Young, Bartolo (Colon). And guys that can actually play. They’re good, and they help a team win. With the chemistry of the guys over there, it was all about getting better.”

But hey writers who get paid to cover the team, let’s not expand on that thought – let’s instead focus all of our attention on an e-blast that leads to “how to fix the Mets” type thoughts. Meanwhile, guys who were just here are trying to tell you things aren’t as bad as you HOPE they are.

When GM Sandy Alderson set the goal at 90 wins, you couldn’t click on a Mets related site or twitter feed without somebody mocking the thought. Yet here’s a guy who was just here last year, he says the team SHOULD win 90 games and suddenly we hear crickets from the commentary? That is, until an e-blast goes out and all of a sudden everybody who can type has to try and rip it apart in an attempt to ensure the negativity continues.

It’s common for fans to look down on ownership during tough times, but it’s funny that in 2006 I don’t remember cries for new owners in Flushing. It’s odd that in 1999 or 2000, the Wilpon’s seemed to be a good enough fit for this team. I wonder why that is?

The truth is, the Mets make odd marketing decisions sometimes (ie Shea closing ceremony, Citi Field not celebrating the franchise etc.) but that doesn’t truly impact me as a fan.

The truth is, the “little brother” mentality is influenced by the people who enjoy mocking everything the Mets do and hoping they make poor decisions (such as spending money on players nobody wants) just for the sake of making them.

I don’t care about an e-blast, I don’t get offended by e-marketing piggy backing off a silly comment made at the Granderson press conference, I don’t care what uniform they wear in an attempt to sell jerseys or what bobblehead they give away because quite frankly, casual fans like bobbleheads. Promotions are not geared toward a die-hard fan, they are geared toward the people who think voting for David Wright as the “Face of Baseball” actually means something, or to the people who need an extra incentive to purchase a ticket.

What impacts me as a fan is what happens on the field – when the team wins I’m happy, this team is playing winning baseball yet you might not even notice it if you listen to the commentary.

If it’s going to take more than winning baseball to get you to feel good about being a Mets fan, then perhaps the Mets don’t need new owners, perhaps they need new fans.

Presented By Diehards

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And The Beat Goes On Thu, 01 May 2014 14:41:16 +0000 You know what I am growing tired of lately? It seems the people who cover the New York Mets feel it is their obligation to contribute whatever they can to ensure the fan base feels as lousy as possible with regards to their support of the NY Mets.

I don’t understand why crushing the team you cover rather than just simply reporting on them seems to be the cool thing to do.

I’m really tired of it. It seems that in order for these writers to get any attention at all, they feel the need to join the complaining minority and stir the pot with every single decision the Mets make.

When did covering a baseball team (who by the way is off to their best start since 2007) become a job that is based on poor humor and antagonizing rather than quality information?

This past week I saw three things that drove me to this post.lardball

The first was NY Post writer Mike Puma’s embarrassing attempt at humor with regards to Bartolo Colon’s weight. Here’s a fun fact for you Puma – Colon comes to the Mets as probably the third most accomplished pitcher prior to coming to the Mets in the last 20 years (After Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana). How about you report on that rather than cheap open mic night humor about his weight?

The second was Adam Rubin of ESPN posting his five ways to fix the Mets. I really like Rubin, and to be honest – this “offense” to me is the lesser of the three. But to me, it was a rain out special.

Look, there are a lot of things any team can do to improve the way their fan base views them. We can talk about that later, but the bottom line is – this all could have been a post with one word, “win.”

I think Rubin could have done a much better job here, and gotten more in detail with his views. Instead, I feel like he went the easy way out and appealed to the “little brother” mentality that we are not the Yankees, and we should aim to be just like them.

The third, is likely what drove Rubin to write his piece, but at least he did it with a little more class than Mike Vaccaro of the (you guessed it) NY Post did today.

This letter that the Mets sent out to their fan base, in all honesty – who cares? It’s a little marketing campaign clearly based off the comments that Curtis Granderson made and they are trying to drum up some heat for the Subway Series coming up.

But instead of recognizing it for what it is, we have to invent a story and mock the franchise because the Mets are the only ones out there that try and connect with their fans through e-marketing right?

I wish I could tell you I knew this type of “reporting” was going on with every team, but I am willing to bet it isn’t. It’s as though these reporters are turning covering the Mets into the National Enquirer.

My favorite part in Vaccaro’s piece is this:

“And here’s the best part: Whoever wrote this letter hasn’t a clue about the Mets’ own history. This is how the 1969 and ’86 teams’ successes are described: “a gritty, even stubborn belief in this club against the odds.

Really. 1969? Fine. That qualifies. But ’86? Would you like to know how many teams, in the history of baseball, won more than the 116 games, postseason included, those Mets won? Time’s up: three — the 1906 Cubs, ’98 Yankees and 2001 Mariners. That’s all. That’s it. Those Mets had a vapor-lock grip on the city. Why?

If you’re a Mets fan, you know why. If you’re one of the ham-fisted men who run the Mets? It probably baffles you. Because of course it does.”

Mr. Vaccaro is it POSSIBLE, that perhaps the 1986 Mets were faced with what appeared to be insurmountable odds in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series?


It is POSSIBLE that down 5-3 in the 10th inning, an out away from the season ending, could be viewed as “against the odds”?

Of course it can. But no, instead we’re going to CHOOSE to take that sentence and try and rip the Mets rather than acknowledge the point they were trying to make.

I’m just tired of it – this invented negative news cycle because mocking the team is easier than evaluating and reporting about what is really going on is becoming an annoyance.

You know it’s funny because if you look around the web you’ll notice that the Mets have the most detailed and informative blogosphere out there.

I’m not just talking about MMO, I’m talking all of the incredible sites out there combined as compared to other MLB clubs. The Mets fan site’s are far and away the most in depth, informative and interactive than any other MLB team’s.

I’m starting to understand why that is. It’s likely because the people who are getting paid to cover the team, are appealing to the folks you usually see getting banned from sites like ours for their consistent trolling.


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NL East Preview: Where Will The Mets Land? Sun, 30 Mar 2014 17:00:36 +0000 The NL East, the division we all REALLY care about right? This could be an interesting year in the East when you think about it. No division is more in limbo than the NL East. You have two teams that appear to be the heavy favorites on paper, but one of them already is decimated by injuries. You have our beloved up and coming Mets trying to get noticed again, the young Marlins trying to relive the magic of the 90’s and the Phillies… oh the Phillies.

5th Place: Philadelphia Phillies

Okay, so part of me is more hoping this happens than expects it to happen.

I recently stumbled upon this twitter account, and got a good laugh. I have been saying for a few years now that Ruben Amaro (Ruin Tomorrow) has completely ruined the franchise that was built up to be a dynasty. Now, it looks like Phillies fans are catching on.

This is an old team, with barely anything to look forward to in the future. Their biggest off-season move was bringing in A.J. Burnett. Because, pitching in a homer-friendly park is going to fit Burnett real well right?


Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are heading into the twilight of their careers. Howard has almost become a non-factor. This is a team that used to be scary to face, and instead of continuing to build around these guys, they continue to lean on them to be their former selves. It’s not going to happen.

This team is old, beat up, and if I had to guess – there will be a major shakeup here very soon. New manager Ryne Sandberg isn’t here to manage a bunch of veterans stuck in their ways. He’s here to try and build something. The problem is so many of these contracts are tied to no trade clauses, so things will need to get pretty bad in Philly before guys like Cliff Lee agree to go elsewhere (Baltimore, Cliff…Baltimore).

4th Place: Miami Marlins

I am a huge Giancarlo Stanton fan and if he weren’t in our division, I would hope to see him win an MVP very soon. This team is built around two very good, and pretty young players in Giancarlo and pitcher Jose Fernandez.

jose fernandezThe problem is, two players won’t carry you through an entire season.

Their offense is either a who’s who of “what have you done lately?” types such as Casey McGehee or Rafael Furcal mixed with players that you aren’t really sure what they can do in a full campaign yet.

For example, I imagine most fans in Miami are curious if Christian Yelich is ready to play an everyday role in 2014. We’re going to find out for sure.

Opponents will be hoping to avoid Jose Fernandez, and if they do – they will be okay. Fernandez will likely be in the top 10 again, but after him – I’m not worried about anybody else.

3rd Place: New York Mets

For me, I have to be honest – I think they could finish in 2nd place but I am going to be cautious here. I do not think the Mets will win 90 games per Sandy Alderson, but I do think they will finish above .500. So, anything is possible I suppose.

Without Matt Harvey, I still really like the rotation. I think Bartolo Colon is a very solid addition, and I think Zack Wheeler is ready to become a household name in 2014.bartolo colon

Dillon Gee and Jon Niese just need to do what they always do when healthy. If those four can do their job, then perhaps Jenrry Mejia or Daisuke Matsuzaka can surprise us and be one of the best #5 starters in the NL. I do want to see what Mejia can do, but I honestly feel like Dice-K could have a sneaky good year. He looked really good this spring.

The lineup – well we all know what is going on there. There are questions heading into the season, but I think the pitching will buy the Mets time to figure things out.

If you love high scoring games, the Mets won’t be for you this year. When you have good pitching 1-5, anything is possible and if Alderson says 90 games as his goal – then that is my goal as well.

I don’t think they will achieve it, but I don’t think it’s as difficult as some think. I think this entire year will be watchable, which is a nice break from the recent past.

2nd Place: Atlanta Braves

This team is an example for Mets fans when they think Matt Harvey will come back at 100%. The loss of Kris Medlen & Brandon Beachy are going to be really tough to overcome.

Now, the team will need to rely on starters like Julio Teheran and Ervin Santana to carry the torch – and I think that is easier said than done.

The Upton’s need to lead this team if they hope to qualify for a wildcard spot.

You know, as I write this – I am almost regretting not having the guts to pick the Mets in second place. I’d take the Mets rotation over the Braves, if the Mets didn’t have questions at 3 offensive positions, I might have done it.

I do expect the Braves to overcome whatever adversity comes their way. They always seem to do things the right way, and while I am not high on Ervin Santana – they seem happy with the addition.

The bullpen might play a huge role in whether the Braves can salvage the year – because they will likely be faced with a lot of close games that Craig Kimbrel and Jordan Walden might play a huge role in.

1st Place: Washington Nationals

Everybody who watches the Nats is expecting big things from Bryce Harper this year. Similar to Jason Heyward, I think people tend to forget how young Harper was when he broke into the big leagues. He’s still a baby compared to most.

Everybody seemed to praise the Nats when they acquired Doug Fister, and now he starts the year on the DL with a back injury.

bryce harperStill, the rotation with Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman is the most proven and consistent rotation in the division. This rotation is the one if you’re a Mets fan, you hope they 2 out of 3 stay healthy because it gives you more hope regarding Matt Harvey.

Still, the lineup to me isn’t that exciting. I’m not a big Jayson Werth guy, and with Ryan Zimmerman dealing with lingering issues, Harper needs to be an MVP caliber player in 2014. I think he can do it, but I also think the team will be carried by the pitching into the division title.

NL East MVP: Bryce Harper – As mentioned, I think he will play a huge role in whether the Nats have success or not.

NL East CYBartolo Colon – Going a little under the radar here. He was a top 5 pitcher in the AL, and it seems that whenever OTHER pitchers come from the AL to NL everybody predicts them to have a huge year…but nobody seems to be saying that about Bartolo, so I will.

NL East Sleeper: Dice-K: I cannot say it enough, I was really impressed with how he looked this spring, and I don’t think the Mets would pay him the money they did if they didn’t intend on bringing him up soon. All he needs to be is their 5th best starter, and if I am right, he’d fit into every teams rotations except maybe Washington.

XtreemIcon’s Picks

As much as I hope upon hope the Phillies take up the cellar, and I think it’s possible, I just don’t think the Marlins have enough to overtake them. Fernandez is great, Nathan Eovaldi is going to break out and be a real solid #2 starter and Jacob Turner‘s hype is real, but this team has way too many issues offensively. Sure, Stanton has legit 50-homerun power in an era where we’ve seen only twelve 40-homerun seasons this decade, and Yelich has tons of potential, but where’s the rest of the offense? The team just doesn’t get on base enough to take advantage of Stanton’s power. But if they get a surprise season from another player or two, I could see them finishing fourth.

The Phillies are the worst. I’ve been leading the charge against Ruin Tomorrow, Jr. for years now as he’s actively destroyed the championship team he was handed with reckless abandon. Besides the surprise season from an unknown Marlin or two, the Phillies can find themselves in the cellar if Hamels’ arm finally falls off, as it’s threatened to do each of the last two seasons.

I have the Mets at or around .500 this season, depending on how often Juan Lagares plays. Eric Young, Jr. has no business starting on this team. I really like the addition of Chris Young, as he’s the type of player build to succeed in this ballpark. Great defense, plus power and speed can also describe Granderson, provided both Grandy and C. Young are in corner spots with Juan Lagares in center. I think E. Young has a place on this team and could be one of the most valuable fourth outfielders in the league with his versatility, solid outfield defense and great speed, but starting him weakens two outfield positions. Food for thought: if Harvey hadn’t gotten hurt and forced the Mets to sign a pitcher, where would that money have gone? The Mets were able to avoid the Stephen Drew and Nelson Cruz potential disasters. Would they have been more interested in Jose Dariel Abreu? Would they have been players for my personal favorite first base option, James Loney? The point is moot, but I’m glad the signings they made were smart, making the team better now while not blocking any of the high upside players on the brink of their debut.

Sadly, I’m not nearly as down on the Braves chances as most. I can’t see losing Beachy hurting them for two reasons: Teheran is a legit beast and probably better than Beachy, and Beachy hasn’t contributed more than 145 innings in any season in his career, and has a total of 111 combined the last two seasons. I don’t think they will miss what they essentially never had. Medlen poses a bigger problem, and Santana is certainly a downgrade. But he’s solid, and should be fine. Aaron Harang is terrible, and Alex Wood and David Hale are question marks, but I just don’t see how they’re so much worse off now for replacing Medlen with Santana and the previously non-existent Beachy with any warm body. It hurts their chances, but I don’t buy the idea that they’re in real trouble.

The Nats are one of the most complete and well-balanced teams in the league. Their rotation is deep even without Fister, their bullpen is deep, there’s an MVP candidate in the outfield in Harper, a top player at third base in Zimmerman, one of 2013′s best shortstops out there in Ian Desmond and a really exciting rookie at second base in Anthony Rendon. Wilson Ramos is underrated behind the plate and LaRoche is solid at first base, though his down season last year bears keeping an eye on. The Nats will have to suffer serious injuries to a few key guys to not win this division.

NL East MVP: Bryce Harper. He was my pick last season and had an MVP April before injuries hurt his May and cost him all of June.

NL East CY: Jessep went with Colon as the division’s best pitcher, and I’ll also throw a curveball here. Watch out for Jordan Zimmerman.

NL East Sleeper: Nathan Eovaldi. He’s going to break out in a big way.

terry collins Mets Spring Training

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AL East Preview: The Price Is Right Sat, 29 Mar 2014 19:30:41 +0000 The AL East to me, is the most interesting division heading into 2014. Last year, the World Series champions (Boston) had what some might call, the luckiest season health wise in recent memory. In reality, if you picked any of the five teams to win this division – you wouldn’t be going out on a huge limb.

5th Place: Baltimore Orioles

Part of the problem with the Orioles prediction for me is, I have great faith in Buck Showalter. However, I have not been on the Orioles bandwagon for the last two years. I have always thought this team cannot compete in the AL without the addition of a true #1 starter.

They took a step back last year, but still managed to win 85 games.

I do not consider the addition of Ubaldo Jimenez to be the #1 starter they need. Can Johan Santana be that guy? I’d love to see it, but I just do not have faith in Santana coming back near the start of summer and being a #1. johan-santana

Last year, I predicted that Chris Davis would break out and (self pat on the back) I’d say I hit that one right on the head. Now? I can’t see Davis duplicating his 2013 campaign. If you look at his 2nd half, you have a red flag heading into 2014.

You’ll often see players drop in the 2nd half, but his power decline was drastic.

Manny Machado will start the year on the DL, but everybody who saw him play last year is hoping he gets healthy – quickly.

Overall, it’s still a good team, but I just don’t think they have the arms to hang in there.

4th Place: Toronto Blue Jays

Everybody jumped on the Blue Jay bandwagon after Jose Reyes joined them, but it seems those feelings have stalled.

Now, Reyes (as some predicted) is dealing with lower body injuries heading into the 2014 season. Reyes’ health will be instrumental in the progress of the 2014 season for Toronto.

jose reyesIn many ways, this team actually leads the league in “if.” If Jose Bautista and Jose Reyes are healthy for 140+ games, Toronto will be better than many are probably giving them credit for. I just don’t think they will stay healthy.

R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow and Mark Buehrle are three starters that a team like Baltimore would love to have. That is the biggest difference to me between the two teams. I think if both teams are healthy on offense, Toronto can be more explosive and their pitching to me is way better.

Still, they have so many questions on health and it all starts with Jose Reyes as we head into April. If Toronto can get healthy quickly, they will go past 4th place, but I don’t see it happening.

3rd Place: New York Yankees

One thing you can never do is underestimate the Yankees. But, I just don’t see it in 2014.

To me, they have one of the worst fielding infields in the sport right now. If Mark Teixeira can play every position – they’ll be okay. But, since he can’t, they will have problems.

It’s a nice thought to say you’re replacing Robinson Cano with Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury. But in reality, you’re replacing a durable producer with three guys with consistent health problems approaching (if not already in) the twilight of their careers.

I think part of why they got Beltran was because they believe his playoff numbers will carry them further than they have gone in the last few years – the problem is, I don’t think they will get to find out.

I don’t think you can really downplay the loss of Mariano Rivera. There’s a difference between having any other closer (let alone a guy who is new to the role), and having Rivera. Rivera gives you confidence that if you get a lead, you’ll keep it. David Robertson won’t give them that feeling. He’s good, but he isn’t Mariano.

Much of the pitching success will be based on C.C. Sabathia & Michael Pineda. I know many are looking at Masahiro Tanaka, but to me – he can be a solid starter and it won’t matter.

Sabathia needs to prove he is back, and I’m not sure that he will.

As for Pineda, this is the year where the team needs him to be the guy they thought they acquired. If he can be that guy, then the Yankees might be in better shape than I think.

To me, it’s an 83-86 win team, not a bad team – just a team begging for luck when it comes to health, and I can’t put my chips on that.

2nd Place: Boston Red Sox

Last year, the Red Sox got the most out of every player on their roster it seemed.

I knew I would not pick Boston to win the division the minute they signed A.J. Pierzynski. This is a team that thrived because of the locker room. Now they go and sign a catcher who honestly, I can’t see fitting in at all. Sizemore2

The loss of Jacoby Ellsbury could be a problem for the Red Sox, but who isn’t excited or curious about the idea that Grady Sizemore is on the Opening Day roster instead of Jackie Bradley Jr.?

Bradley likely will get his shot but it won’t be right away, and frankly, I am pretty pumped to see if Sizemore can find it again.

For me, I don’t think this rotation will be as healthy as they were in 2013. Sure, last year Clay Buchholz dealt with injuries, but guys like John Lackey who seemed lost prior to 2013 found their way back. I’m not sure I believe it will happen again.

Overall, the team is certainly a playoff contender, but I am not sure I believe they can catch lightning in a bottle twice.

1st Place: Tampa Bay Rays

This is a team that is hard to not root for, unless of course you live in the Tampa area (seriously buy some tickets!).

The Rays have the best manager in the entire sport, but they also have two of the best players in the sport in Evan Longoria and Wil Myers.

That’s right, 2014 will be the year Myers puts himself on the map as one of the best hitters in the AL.

The team is a model for depth. Unlike many of their division mates, they don’t have success based on the word “if.” They have even proven that they can succeed without Longoria, because they have so much talent coming through the pipeline.

David-PriceThe rotation is lead of course by David Price, who is possibly pitching to up his trade value, or secure Tampa’s first pitching long term deal.

Alex Cobb and Matt Moore are no slouches either. In fact, I’d take those three guys over any of the 1-3 in the AL East. Moore of course is recovering from a “near Aroldis” injury, but he’ll be fine.

Grant Balfour returns to Tampa Bay, but this time he has a resume as a closer in the regular season that cannot be denied.

Overall, with Joe Maddon at the helm and guys like Longoria, Myers, Ben Zobrist, and Desmond Jennings playing behind Price, Cobb and Moore – this will be a tough team to beat and I have them taking the division by about 5 games.

AL East MVP: Evan Longoria – He’s the best overall player in the division, and I think he is in the AL MVP conversation if not for guys like Trout and Miggy.

AL East CY: David Price – Similar to Longoria, except he doesn’t have competition standing in his way at taking the AL award. He’s just as good as anybody.

AL East Sleeper: Grady Sizemore – Why not? It’s a shot at being different, but he was one of my favorite players to watch and I am just hoping he can find his way in 2014. 

XtreemIcon’s Picks

See: Jessep. It sounds lazy, but it’s not intentional. The Red Sox got very lucky last season. They added four free agents to their every day lineup and all four not only played well, they had career years. That won’t happen again. Despite Will Middlebrooks poised for a breakout year, the team is not nearly as good as a defending champion should be.

If I were to make one unpopular pick, it would be that I can easily see Reyes, Edwin Encarnacion and Bautista being healthier than Ellsbury, Beltran and Derek Jeter. I’d be less than surprised to see the Yanks finish fourth. All winning the off season does these days is basically ensure the team loses the real season. It’s not like it was in 2009 when a 29-year-old Teixeira and a 28-year-old Sabathia were available. And when people discuss the loss of Rivera, no one seems to mention how they also downgraded in the 8th inning simply by having Robertson slide into that closer role. The Yankees are better on paper than the Jays, so I’ll go with them to finish third, but the health risks are very concerning.

I feel like every team in the division got worse except the Rays. I don’t think it’ll be quite as large a runaway as the NL West, but the Rays should have this division wrapped up early and handily. There’s no real competition for them.

AL East MVP: Evan Longoria – He’s been my pick for several years running because he’s that good. He just needs to stay healthy.

AL East CY: David Price – He’s my pick for the league Cy Young.

AL East Sleeper: We’ll go with Middlebrooks. Tons of talent. This is finally the year for him.



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AL Central Preview: AKA Tiger Town? Sat, 29 Mar 2014 15:00:26 +0000 The AL Central is a division that has been owned by the Detroit Tigers since 2011, and it won’t be easy to take that crown away from them in 2014.

5th Place: Chicago White Sox

In 2012, Robin Ventura’s White Sox looked like they might actually be more of a force in the near future than perhaps many of us thought.

Then last year, the White Sox showed their true colors.


A huge factor in whether this team succeeds in 2014 will be Jose Abreu, and whether or not he can be the superstar caliber 1B that some people thought he could be. I know Abreu is dealing with an ankle issue right now, but assuming he is healthy – he is the player to watch here.

Abreu to me isn’t surrounded by a lot of dynamic talent on offense.

As for the rotation, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana are clearly the two pitchers in this rotation that hold the key to any success they may desire. Quintana is probably lesser known than Sale, but he might be more important than Sale.

Sale is nasty, but I like Quintana this year to take his game to the next level.

Overall though, there just is not enough talent here and I think Chicago will have a tough year.

4th Place: Minnesota Twins

The Twins are that team that baseball fans are almost expecting to just come out of nowhere sometime soon.

They aren’t there yet though.

On offense, their fans are excited about Brian Dozier and Oswaldo Arcia. Arcia is a guy you may want to pay attention to in 2014.

mike pelfreyOn the mound, most New York fans may take note because this rotation features not one, but two “rushed” or “failed” prospects from NY in Mike Pelfrey and Phil Hughes. Ricky Nolasco might actually have a solid year in Minnesota quietly, but I’m not sure he’ll stay in Minnesota all year – buyer beware!

Overall, I’m not too impressed with Minnesota either, I just think they might have slightly more to look forward to than Chicago.

3rd Place: Kansas City Royals

This team is one I’d love to see return to the playoff scene, but I just cannot see it in 2014.

I’ve never been a big James Shields fan, and last year to be honest, Shields shocked me last year. I don’t think he’ll do it again in 2014.

Last year, the Royals won 86 games and in my view, they didn’t get better in 2014 and honestly, they probably got a little worse.

On offense, I’m not sure the addition of Norichika Aoki is really going to make that big of a difference. So the Royals are in a situation where their offensive improvement is really about whether or not guys like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas can take their game to the next level at 24 years old.

With the rotation, you’ve basically replaced Ervin Santana with Jason Vargas and I don’t know many who would suggest that makes your team better.

So while, I do think guys like Hosmer might improve, I don’t think it will be enough for the Royals in 2014. I see them closer to .500.

2nd Place: Cleveland Indians

I kind of thought I’d go into this picking Cleveland as kind of an “upset” pick to win the division. However, the more I look at things – I just can’t do it.

On offense, they have a great sleeper candidate in catcher Yan Gomes. Gomes will take over the full time catcher duties in Cleveland, and I think everybody should pay close attention to him.

Nick Swisher is the veteran that hopes to yet again lead this team to contention, but I have to think at some point he starts to decline, and I think we’ll see that in 2014.

When you take an honest look at their lineup, unless becoming a full time DH helps Carlos Santana become a 30+ HR hitter, you can’t really find a power threat in this lineup.

The rotation is still lead by Justin Masterson. Ubaldo Jiminez left a void in the rotation, and it was filled by – well I don’t know. I guess maybe Carlos Carrasco? Carrasco was once a highly touted prospect involved in the Cliff Lee trade with Philadelphia, but he just has not lived up to it.

I’m not the kind of guy who minimizes a great manager. Terry Francona is a great manager and he’ll get every ounce of talent out of his team just like he did in 2013. I just don’t think it’s enough to take over the division.

1st Place: Detroit Tigers

I’m starting to feel like the guy who takes all #1 seeds in his NCAA bracket.

But, in reality – unless you can predict catastrophic injuries, I’m not sure why you’d predict them to not win this division.

On offense, you know the usual suspects. Miguel Cabrera (the $300 million man), Austin Jackson, Alex Avila, Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter. Now, you can add in Ian Kinsler…an angry Ian Kinsler.

The offense is loaded, and is far and away better than any other team in the division.


If that wasn’t enough, you have Max Scherzer, last year’s Cy Young winner who isn’t even the best pitcher on this team.

Justin Verlander enters 2014 looking to prove his critics wrong. There was some that thought perhaps last year was a sign that Verlander was hitting a wall. I don’t think that is the case.

I mean, look at Verlander’s strikeout totals last year. In a “bad” year he struck out 217 batters. That’s ridiculous.

Verlander is going to bounce back, and that is how Detroit will replace the loss of Doug Fister. They will have a two headed cy young monster.

The addition of Joe Nathan gives them a regular season closer they can trust – I just don’t trust him in the playoffs (at least DET is used to that).

Overall, I can’t see how this team would be considered a 2nd place team (or worse) in this division.

AL Central MVPMiguel Cabrera – When in doubt, go with the guy who can win the triple crown.

AL Central CY: Justin Verlander – Motivated by his critics and Scherzer winning the award, Verlander returns to dominance.

AL Central SleeperYan Gomes – A full time catcher in Cleveland, if he stays healthy, I think he could be an all-star this year.

XtreemIcon’s Picks

This division is definitely more wide open than my colleague thinks, in my opinion, but gun to my head, the Tigers win again. I have KC second and Cleveland third, but agree on the Twins finishing fourth and Chicago last. There’s really not much of a future in Chicago, but the Twins have something to look forward to. Aside from Arcia, Byron Buxton is omnipresent and there’s a good crop of kids a little further away. None of that helps now, however. I just like the Twins offense much more than the Sox.

I’m not on the Indians bandwagon at all. They won 92 games last year, turning around a miserable 2012, but I give them almost a zero chance to repeat. Granted, I gave them the same chance of being a contender last season, and that blew up in my face, but I stand firm. They had great pitching last season, helped by Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez, both of whom have moved on. Their four and five starters are now their two and three starters, and although I liked the progression of Corey Kluber and think he’ll continue to improve, I feel they lost too much. Danny Salazar has a lot of potential, but will need a real come-out-of-nowhere season to replace either Jimenez or Kazmir. But he can’t replace both.

The Royals will finish second and I’d bet they finish closer to the Tigers than they do the Indians. Aside from the best bullpen in the AL, and maybe all of baseball, Hosmer and Moustakas are primed for a break out. They have a stud catcher in Salvador Perez, a center fielder that has all the tools and ability you could ask for in Lorenzo Cain and Yordano Ventura could be this season’s Jose Fernandez is he harnesses his secondary pitches.

The Tigers need to win the World Series this year, because the Cabrera contract has basically ensured they won’t have any more chances past this season. He’s already started breaking down and is about as nonathletic as a professional athlete can be, which does not bode well for the Tigers as he ages. But that’s about their doomed future.

This season, they probably still have enough to win the division, but not easily. Consider this: despite being the most talented team in the division by a wide margin recently, they only won the division by three games in 2012 and one game last year. And this year, the margin isn’t as wide. Cabrera is breaking down and Scherzer will decline (no knock on him, but he can’t actually get better). Verlander declined significantly in 2013, and for the Tigers’ sake, I hope it’s a down year and not the start of a decline. He has about a million innings on that arm. The infield defense is atrocious and the bullpen is a strong breeze away from the first ever group Tommy John surgery.

If Cabrera and Verlander really are in the beginning of their decline, and with Scherzer leaving via free agency after this season, the Tigers absolutely have to win this season. This is their swan song.

AL Central MVP: Eric Hosmer. It’s his time.

AL Central CY: Chris Sale. Won’t do them any good, though.

AL Central Sleeper: The Royals. 90 wins wouldn’t shock me at all.


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NL Central Preview: Can Anybody Catch the Cards? Thu, 27 Mar 2014 14:03:18 +0000 The smartest thing to do over the last few years has been to pencil in the St. Louis Cardinals as the best team in the NL Central and then just throw the rest of the teams in a hat.

But, times are changing and the Pittsburgh Pirates are trying to take this division over. You throw that story line, along with the Votto-lead Reds with a new manager and you could possibly have a three team race for the division.

In your comments, we’d love to hear your predicted standings, your AL West MVP, AL West Best Pitcher, and AL West Top Sleeper.

5th Place: Milwaukee Brewers

There really isn’t much to get excited about if you’re a Brewers fan in 2014.

I guess if you’re the type of fan that allows players to move on from their mistakes, you’re excited about Ryan Braun returning and hopefully performing cleanly and proving (to himself?) that he is still an MVP type player?

MJS MJS brewers15, nws, sears, 6

He’s surrounded by a lineup that can be labeled as “not so special.” I’m not high on Carlos Gomez, and I think he will start to take a dip in offensive production.

Their starting pitching could save them from last place, but I am banking on the Cubs being a tad better than we all probably expect.

Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza and Yovani Gallardo were a real good 1-3 about four years ago. Now? I’m not so sure. They all would likely be #3 type starters on playoff contending teams. They aren’t bad, they just don’t scare me at all.

Overall, the team to me just doesn’t have the talent or depth to compete in this division.

4th Place: Chicago Cubs

It would be great if the Cubs could return to competitive baseball, I know a bunch of Mets fans who cannot stand the Cubs – I’m not one of them. As long as it’s not at the Mets expense, I enjoy when this team is good.

The future is bright, but 2014 is not the future.

Anthony Rizzo will have a huge spotlight on him this year as everybody tries to figure out if he was overhyped early on, or if he can really be a game changer for this franchise.

I don’t think the rotation is as good as Milwaukee’s, and to be honest – I’m not sure the offense is either. I’m pegging them 4th place because they are a young team with talent (as opposed to Houston just being a young team), and I just think they might be able to play over their heads a bit.

3rd Place: Pittsburgh Pirates

Most likely an unpopular pick, but listen – I just cannot buy this team two years straight as presently constructed.

I don’t think they are very good at 1B (Gaby Sanchez?), SS (Jordy Mercer I think?), and their rotation to me is shaky at best.

Last year, they were fortunate enough to get a career bounce back from A.J. Burnett & Francisco Liriano. I cannot reasonably suggest that I think Liriano will duplicate his 2013 campaign, and I also don’t even see who might replace Burnett in the rotation in terms of performance.

Because I do not trust Cole yet, they need Liriano to be an ace, and I don’t think he can be.

I want to find a reason for the Pirates to be successful in 2014. Andrew McCutchen obviously is a big plus, and there’s no denying that. I just get the sense that this team had its miracle year, and now we come back to reality.

I look at it like this, if I was trying to pick one of the best 8 teams in baseball from scratch – would I take anybody from their offense or rotation? Honestly, I’d take McCutchen and then have to be convinced on guys like Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez, but that’s it.

2nd Place: Cincinnati Reds

Joey Votto is looking to return to the MVP conversation, and I think if this team is in the mix for a playoff spot – he will be.

joey vottoI just don’t think they will be too be honest.

To me, the Reds time was the last two years. Now, players like Brandon Phillips are approaching the end of their time in Cincinnati perhaps, and with a new manager it may be time to re-tool the team. But, they may have one more run in them if Votto can return to form.

Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, and Homer Bailey can be a very good 1-3, but they seem to struggle in big games (especially Cueto).

Most baseball fans are eager to see what Billy Hamilton can do in a full year, and I cannot blame them.

At the end of the day though, I think this team has been right where they needed to be the last few years and they couldn’t close the deal. Time is running out, and 2014 may be their last chance to make a big dent in the National League.

1st Place: St. Louis Cardinals

They are just a cut above everybody else in this division not only on the field, but off the field as well.

Last fall it’s almost as if they found a future ace by accident, at least it felt that way. Michael Wacha is going to be the #1 guy behind Adam Wainwright, but that will be temporary. They are easily the best 1-2 punch in this division, and they are followed by guys like Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller who most teams would love to have in their rotation.

Their lineup is so good too. Lead by the best on field leader in the game today (Yadier Molina), the Cardinals will post a lineup that on paper has no holes at all.

The addition of Jhonny Peralta at SS will be a huge plus for this team, in spite of his past mistakes – he is a solid SS.

peter bourjos angels

I am real curious to see what Peter Bourjos does for the Cardinals. Call me crazy, but I think he gives Cardinals fans memories of Jim Edmonds in the field, but with less power at the plate.

They are just a complete team and I really cannot sit here and give you reasons why anybody else will win this division – because I don’t think anybody else can.

NL Central MVP: Joey Votto, Cincinnati – I was tempted to go with Yadier Molina, but the truth is, if the Reds are in the mix this year, I think Votto has returned to form.

NL Central Cy Young: Michael Wacha, St. Louis – I am excited to see what this kid will do with a full year.

NL Central Sleeper: Welington Castillo, Chicago – He actually had a pretty solid 2013 – I just don’t think anybody really noticed. I am looking for an .800+ OPS type year from him.

XtreemIcon’s Picks

This will be easy. I agree with the standings. I have nothing to add in that regard. But there are a few points I’d like to touch on:

I think the Brewers do have things to be excited about. Jean Segura is one of the most exciting young players in baseball and Jonathan Lucroy is one of the more underrated catchers in baseball. The back end of the rotation, Marco Estrada and Willy Peralta both have a lot of talent, but need to take that next step. Über prospect Tyler Thornburg will make the team out of the bullpen, but has great starter potential and will be the next man up if one of the initial starting five goes down to injury or poor performance. Also, their second baseman’s name is Scooter. That’s a win.

I think the Cubs have better and deeper pitching than the Brewers and Rizzo will in fact reach his potential. He is poised for a big season and Junior Lake has tons of potential. If Rizzo and Lake don’t reach their potential and Jeff Samardzjia isn’t the best pitcher between the two teams, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Brewers finish fourth. I just think it’s the Cubs’ position to lose.

Jessep was close with the Pirates, I just quibble with two things. The first is needing Liriano to be an ace. They don’t. They have Gerrit Cole, and he’s a certified beast. Liriano may get the Opening Day start and may be listed as the team’s ace on the depth chart, but Cole will anchor that rotation. Liriano just has to be good. The second is Staling Marte. I think Jessep overlooked him when listing McCutchen as the only position player to get excited about. The Pirates will contend, but fall just short of the playoffs.

The Reds are a very tenuous second place prediction. Mat Latos will not be ready for the start of the season, but shouldn’t be out long. Closer Aroldis Champman scared us all half to death after a comebacker brained him, but shouldn’t be out past May. Brandon Phillips is on the decline. There’s questions about whether or not Hamilton will get on base enough for his speed to be a real threat. That all said, they still have the best player in the division in Votto and an all around solid team. The best addition, however, could possibly be Bryan Price simply because he’s not Dusty Baker. While I don’t think Baker cost the team the seven wins they finished behind St. Louis for the division last season, I do think they could have made up the four games they finished behind Pittsburgh for the first Wild Card spot and had home field for that game, and who knows what could have happened then. Batting Zack Cosart and his .284 OBP second as often as he did killed the offense (look no further than Votto’s RBI total). If Price has even a clue about constructing a lineup, this team should be able to score plenty of runs.

The Cardinals are the best team in the NL. I just have to disagree with Jessep on Wacha. I’d say it would be a sophomore slump, but really, I just don’t think he’s all that great. He’ll be OK. Probably decent. People will call it a slump, but I think that’s just who he is. I also have to ask Jessep if we’re talking about the same Peter Bourjos. The guy I’m talking about, the guy who came from Anaheim, can’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Stellar defense, no question, but the personification of a one-tool player. A fourth outfielder extraordinaire. He’s going to be the guy Oscar Taveras replaces when he gets his legs back underneath him after a poorly timed injury in 2013. If Taveras is delayed in the minors even one day longer than he should be in favor of Bourjos “needing” to play, it would be a tremendous fail on the part of Mike Matheny.

Come on, Jessep. Edmonds is a hall of famer.

NL Central MVP: Votto. He’s the best player in the division, and the Reds are a sub-.500 team without him.

NL Central Cy Young: Gerrit Cole. Wainwright is still probably better at this early point in Cole’s career, but I don’t think he has the elite stuff he had in his heyday. He’ll likely be a top pitcher again, but I’m going to go out on the limb here.

NL Central Sleeper: Devin Mesoraco. He had really, really good minor league numbers, but it hasn’t translated to the majors yet. He’ll likely start the season on the DL, but if he can catch 130 games this season, he’s going to surprise. He has immense talent on both sides of the ball, but was squandered on the bench in 2013 (there’s that managerial genius by Baker again). In Baker’s defense, Mesoraco never really distinguished himself during the few starts he did get, but Mets fans know with Juan Lagares how difficult it is to develop a rhythm starting only sporadically. Difference is, Lagares eventually got the everyday gig. Mesoraco never did. Have I mentioned Baker killed his team in 2013?


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AL West Preview: Will Fielder Be Deciding Factor in Four Team Race? Tue, 25 Mar 2014 15:00:19 +0000 prince-fielder

The AL West in my opinion represents the most wide open division in all of baseball, minus one team. I think everybody may be quick to jump on the Texas bandwagon again, especially after adding Prince Fielder to the mix, but I’m not so sure I’m ready to jump.

In your comments, we’d love to hear your predicted standings, your AL West MVP, AL West Best Pitcher, and AL West Top Sleeper.

5th Place: Houston Astros

I’ve heard people suggest that maybe the Astros could be a young team to watch out for in 2014. I’m sorry Astros fans, but I am not buying it.

There isn’t a lot to be said if you ask me. This is a team that is sticking to a plan to develop as much young talent as they possibly can, and to let the team grow into an eventual contender.

Astros fans may get some enjoyment out of watching players like Jose Altuve at 2B or Dexter Fowler in CF, but they won’t be able to stop this team from losing close to, if not 100 games.

I have a rule, well okay, it’s a new rule. If Scott Feldman is your ace, you’re in last place (that rhymes too!).

4th Place: Seattle Mariners

This is a team that might come off disappointing to some solely because of the Robinson Cano signing, but to me, they will be competitive – but slip in September.

I know the talk all spring was about whether or not the Mariners needed “one” more bat to go with Cano. And while I agree, they need more bats (more than one), I think it is still their pitching that will hold them back in 2014.

Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker are questionable for the start of the 2014 season already, and to me they need to have a healthy 2014 season if the Mariners want to have any chance at competing in this division. So, the fact they are already starting the year with injury issues is a problem for me.

Mets fans who are eager to see Nick Franklin in Citi Field most certainly should keep an eye on Brad Miller. If Miller looks to slip even a little, Franklin isn’t going anywhere.

Mike Zunino is a guy that not many really talk about, but he looks to be a pretty solid hitting catcher, and with Logan Morrison in the mix – it will be interesting to see how the whole Miguel Montero saga unfolds.

3rd Place: Oakland Athletics

Everybody who isn’t an anti-Beane personality probably enjoys watching this team play baseball. They are essentially a National League roster inside an American League division.

My concern here is that I believe three teams in this division got better this winter, and I don’t think Oakland was one of them. Therefore, I see them having a tougher time playing their division rivals and thus landing in third place.

When the A’s lost Bartolo Colon, they replaced him with Scott Kazmir – which is a slight twist of irony if you ask me. But, to Colon’s credit, that is a downgrade. Kazmir is already dealing with tricep problems, and that could be a bigger problem down the stretch.

They also replaced Grant Balfour with Jim Johnson, another downgrade if you ask me.

This is a grind it out type team, and while I don’t dislike their chances, I just cannot predict intangibles by looking at a roster on paper. They just do not stack up to the Angles or Rangers in this division.

2nd place: Texas Rangers

Part of this is an attempt at taking a risk with the first place team.

The Rangers lineup looks stacked in basically every position, except perhaps DH (which is odd when you think about it).

The addition of Prince Fielder gives them a major power threat in the heart of the order, something they will really enjoy when Shin-Soo Choo is getting on base ahead of Fielder. This offense will be relentless, and will be multi-dimensional with Jurickson Profar (assuming he comes back healthy in June) and Leonys Martin making big league names for themselves.

The rotation is lead by one of the best pitchers in the sport, Yu Darvish. Darvish seems to be getting better every year, and should be in the Cy Young conversation this year.

After Darvish however, things look questionable. Derek Holland is just getting ready to throw his first bullpen session of the year, Matt Harrison is dealing with back issues and after those three – you have more questions on performance than health.

Martin Perez and Alexi Ogando should provide solid end of the rotation depth, but the issue is that if Holland (mid-season) and Harrison do not do what Texas needs them to, then Texas is very thin in starting pitching.

I think their offense is good enough to carry them to a playoff berth, but I don’t think it will help them take the division.

1st Place: Los Angeles Angels

I am buying low on the Angels this year. It seems the popular pick by the traditionalist is the Rangers, and of course those with an affinity for advanced metrics will likely go with Oakland, but I really like the Angels this year.

This is a team that came into 2013 with a ton of expectations after the signing of Josh Hamilton, and they fell flat on their face.

I love the addition of David Freese at 3B, and in my view, if Hamilton and Albert Pujols are as healthy as they appear from this spring – then this is a team that will be very tough to out slug.

Pujols seems out to prove his critics wrong, and I’m not going to be the guy to bet against one of the best hitters I’ve ever seen. I’m not saying he will succeed for the length of that deal, I am saying he could easily put together one more excellent year.

I previewed and praised their offense without even mentioning Mike Trout. Self high-five.

Their rotation is similar to Texas except I have more faith in the health and bottom of the rotation here than in Texas. Weaver isn’t Darvish, but he’s really good. C.J. Wilson is better than any other pitcher in Texas, and Richards, Skaggs and Blanton or Santiago are to me equals if not better than Texas’ bottom rotation guys.

I really like the bullpen with Kevin Jepsen, Joe Smith and then Ernesto Frieri to slam the door shut.

The Angels have a top 5 manager in the sport, and under achieved last year. I am unwilling to bet on a repeat of that, and I am taking the Angels to take the division in a close race over Texas.

AL West MVP: Mike Trout, Los Angeles – He will be surrounded by veterans like Freese, Pujols and Hamilton that will compliment him nicely and allow him to really show just how elite he is (as if he hasn’t already).

AL West Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Seattle – I am looking for King Felix to fight with Darvish over the #1 pitcher in the division, but at the end of the day, I think Felix is motivated to take back his crown.

AL West Sleeper: Leonys Martin, Texas – A pretty solid year in 2013, but I am looking for Martin to become one of the most talked about young outfielders in the game after 2014.

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers at Texas Rangers

XtreemIcon’s Picks

My only disagreement in the standings comes at the top. Houston, Seattle and Oakland from the ground up looks about right, but Seattle won’t be competitive until September as Jessep suggests. This is the year, in my opinion, Felix Hernandez comes back down to earth. Too many innings and too little offense behind him. He’ll still be effective, but not great. He finished outside the top-ten last season and will continue his slow descent into mediocrity.

I like Texas to finish first because of their huge addition…Shin Soo Choo. Fielder will help and be a threat, but I predict him to underwhelm in Texas. People have him tabbed as a potential 40-home run guy because of the sardine can he’ll be playing in, but I just don’t see him turning the clock back to his Milwaukee days. He’s more likely to just reproduce his 2013 season. He’ll turn 30 this season, and while he’s been remarkably healthy, the other shoe has to drop some time. He’ll be good, but not what the Rangers thought they were getting.

I would recommend manager Ron Washington solve his DH problem by playing Fielder there and preserving him while using current DH and superior defensive first baseman Mtch Moreland in the field. If both guys are going to be in the lineup, why trot out a less-than-optimal defense?

Still, the team is better than Anaheim. I don’t expect Pujols to ever recapture his St. Louis glory, though I do expect a solid bounce back from Josh Hamilton. I just don’t trust the pitching to compete with Cy Young contender Yu Darvish and breakout candidate Martin Perez. Tanner Schneppers is poised to contribute in a big way, as well. The bullpen has experience and depth, with Joakim Soria, Neftali Perez and Alexi Ogando about as solid a 1-2-3 punch as there is.

AL West MVP: Mike Trout. He’s the best player in baseball and the rightful, two-time reigning league MVP.

AL West Cy Young: Yu Darvish. Sorry, Felix. Sell high, Jack Z.

AL West Sleeper: Martin Perez. There’s a lot of good, young talent in the AL West and I’m excited to see what George Springer can do, but Perez looks ready to vault into the stratosphere.


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NL West Preview: Can Anybody Stop The Dodgers? Mon, 24 Mar 2014 15:00:49 +0000 The National League West showcases the team that many believe are the favorites to win the World Series heading into 2014. How often though do we see a team that “everybody” agrees is the team to beat slip to reality when injuries and such come knocking on their door? Are the Dodgers going to fall into that same story line?

In your comments, we’d love to hear your predicted standings, your NL West MVP, NL West Best Pitcher, and NL West Top Sleeper.

5th Place: Colorado Rockies

As many Mets fans know, Dexter Fowler was sent to the Houston Astros this off-season, and while many Rockies fans may not have liked the moved then – I think they will really dislike the move when they see the negative defensive effects of the move.

This is a team to me, that is going to have trouble with their arms. So when you essentially diminish the defense by giving away Fowler, you’re not doing your pitchers any favors.

troy tulowitzki

The addition of Brett Anderson could prove to be a good move for Colorado, but he isn’t a “save the day” type starting pitcher.

Also, adding Justin Morneau to replace the Rockies legend Todd Helton should at least prove to be a somewhat lateral move in terms of production.

This is a team that will have trade rumors swirling about Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez all season long. If you’re paying attention to the Rockies in 2014, it’s because you’re curious where or if they end up being traded.

4th Place: San Francisco Giants

I understand this is likely not going to fly with many of you. But hear me out.

Everybody knows that in the NL, if you have pitching, you’re in good shape. The problem I have with San Francisco is I believe their rotation is relying on two big IF’s.

The first is whether or not Tim Lincecum can return to his winning ways, and if you have seen him this spring, you have your doubts. The second is whether or not Tim Hudson can stay healthy and be the guy this rotation needs on a consistent basis. If Hudson stays healthy, then yeah, I would say this team could fight for 3rd place or maybe even a wildcard.

The offense is still very bland. If there is any positive, it’s that Pablo Sandoval may be motivated by a new contract this year. I’m not a big Mike Morse fan, so I don’t even consider his addition as anything to really think about when predicting their offensive performance.

To me, this is a team that tries to do “just enough” at the plate, and I don’t like that. I think last year they showed that the model they’ve gone with can backfire tremendously. I’m expecting them to finish closer to .500, but not to be in any sort of playoff discussion.

3rd Place: San Diego Padres

I was a bit high on them last year, and I’ll stick with my positive outlook for this franchise. I actually really liked the decision to sign Josh Johnson here – I don’t think Johnson was a good fit for any team, but in San Diego, he may actually work. We’ve all seen what Johnson can do on his best days, so if he can find his winning ways again – he could be dangerous in San Diego.

chase headleyAndrew Cashner to me is a guy who could be a recognizable name by many come All-Star break. He’s got the stuff to be a solid #2 type starter, and if he comes into that role, the Padres could be in real good shape.

Of course, there are negatives. The offense isn’t really too good, and if Chase Headley doesn’t find his way back to 2012 form, they could be in trouble at the plate.

I think this could be one of those “fun” teams to watch all year, but it’s going to take a little bit of luck and a lot of health in order for that to be the case.

2nd place: Arizona Diamondbacks

Without many paying attention to them, Arizona has suddenly become a top wildcard contender for the last two years now.

mark trumbo

They made two significant moves as they head into the 2014 season that could make or break their playoff chances.

The first was adding Mark Trumbo to the mix. Now, they are gambling on Trumbo being able to power his way through the NL West (especially in Arizona), and have his strikeouts be worth his production. It’s a gamble, but it’s one that could pay off for this team.

The second was adding Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo is a guy many Mets fans are familiar with due to some recent desires to add him to the rotation. He’s a pretty consistent starter, and gives the team a 200+ innings guy that they can rely on. However, he is a guy that if you look at advanced metrics, he is sometimes more lucky than good. Will his luck run out?

The recent news that Patrick Corbin is likely out for the entire year doesn’t help this prediction for sure. However, as bad as that news is, I don’t think it kills their year as much as some think. This team has proven to be resilient and has an MVP candidate in Paul Goldschmidt, I think they can overcome the loss of their 24 year old starter and contend for a playoff berth.

1st Place: Los Angeles Dodgers

There is nothing I’d like more than to see my prediction be wrong, but I just cannot see how that might happen without catastrophic injuries.

This team is loaded, there is no other way to put it.

The Dodgers rotation is as nasty as you’ll find in the sport today. When you have the best pitcher in baseball pitching AHEAD of a former Cy Young winner in Greinke, paired with Hyun-jin Ry, Dan Haren and Paul Maholm or Josh Beckett, I’m not sure how your offense goes into any game thinking they have to overachieve for a victory.

yasiel-puig-blogTheir bullpen is also pretty filthy. Brian Wilson, Kenley Jansen and Chris Perez give this team so many late inning options that it’s scary.

The offense is as loaded as the rotation, and everybody is waiting to see how Yasiel Puig does with a full year under his belt, not only in terms of production – but in terms of maturity as well. He is probably the most entertaining player to watch in baseball today, and if he can back up his 2013 campaign with a better 2014, he could be an MVP candidate.

Speaking of MVP candidates, the Dodgers in reality, probably won’t have one because their lineup is filled with guys who could win an MVP.

Matt Kemp may be the key to all of the Dodgers success or failure though. If Kemp can get healthy, and stay healthy, I don’t see how this offense isn’t the best in baseball.

This team is not only good on paper, they are as deep as any team in baseball. They will be able to overcome an injury or two (so long as it’s not Kershaw), and that makes them a no brainer 1st place pick to me.

NL West MVP: Paul Goldschmidt – Mostly because I think if Arizona is in the mix, it’s in large part due to his production and he isn’t surrounded by studs like Dodger hitters are.

NL West Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw – He’s the best there is.

NL West Sleeper: Andrew Cashner – He had a decent 2013 campaign, but it was highly under the radar. I think he breaks out this year to become one of the NL’s best starters.

XtreemIcon’s Picks

Jessep did a great job detailing his picks, so I’m not going to reiterate everything he said, I’ll just point out where I disagree. From last to first, the division shapes up like this for me: Colorado/San Diego/San Francisco/Arizona/LA. The reason I have SD behind SF is not because I think SF will be any good (they spent an insane amount of money simply to bring back the same 76 win team they fielded last year), but because Headley will be traded at some point this season, which will decimate their already weak offense. And with Johnson and Cashner being question marks, they fall to 4th place. Not fifth, though. Colorado is that bad.

What I would like to add is that even though I chose Arizona to finish second, I don’t expect a good year out of them. Jessep think they will contend, and I most certainly do not. The second place finish is more like an indictment on the rest of the division than it is a vote of confidence for Arizona. Corbin hurts bad and Arroyo was a terrible signing. His ERA will likely hover around 4.50 and could be traded at the deadline, probably back to the Red Sox. I think LA will be the only team above .500 and will win the division by 20 games

NL West MVP: Paul Goldschmidt – His numbers will tell their own story.

NL West Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw – Period.

NL West Sleeper: Brandon Belt – He’s going to hit in the middle of the lineup and have the chance to do some real damage. He fixed a mechanical issue with his swing and tore it up in August and September. He’s going to challenge Goldschmidt for the division MVP.


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Adding a Former MVP to the Mix? Fri, 14 Mar 2014 17:19:05 +0000 If you don’t have a starting SS you’re comfortable with, less than 20 spring games to go, you have a problem.

Meaning, we have a problem.

You’ve heard all the names already, Nick Franklin, Stephen Drew, Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings. All seemingly will either command one of our better prospects, which none of them in my opinion are worth – or will need a long term deal with potential draft pick loss.

jimmy-rollins-400After reading this piece by Matt Gelb, I’ve come to the decision that the Mets need to check in on Jimmy Rollins.

Now, before you come at me about his age, and everything. I get it. He’s on the decline, he’s older than any of the above mentioned players. But, he’s a winner. Not only is he a winner, he’s a veteran winner who brings credibility to the team and doesn’t handcuff the team in the near future. Plus, if this report is anywhere close to factual that Rollins is not happy, nor are the Phillies – then he shouldn’t cost nearly as much as the above mentioned trade targets.

Rollins is owed $11million this year, and has an $11million option that kicks in if he has 600 plate appearances in 2014 or 1,100 Pas (would take 440 PA this year) in 2013-14 and Rollins is not on disabled list at end of 2014 season.

Now, Rollins is 35 years old and is definitely declining. His last three years he’s averaged .256 with a .323 OBP and a .715 OPS, averaging about 27 steals over that time.

He’s a good enough fielder to the degree that you could make a solid argument he makes the left side of your infield better defensively. He has enough speed to make an argument that he could have an impact on the base paths – and he’s a veteran MVP with a World Series ring.

The trick here is what the Phillies would want, and whether Rollins would waive his no trade clause to come to Citi Field. I don’t think Philadelphia would (or should) ask a ton for him if the salary was being totally wiped off their books. Plus, having issues with the current Manager doesn’t bode well for the future of that relationship.

To me, I’m just not sold on the idea of Drew, Franklin, Gregorius, Owings, Tejada or even Flores at SS (I like Flores, just not at SS). Outside of Drew, none of them to me are sure thing starters for the long term and Drew to me isn’t worth what he has been asking for.

So then the question pops up, is it worth bringing in an established veteran to play the position temporarily? Is having Rollins your starting SS for the next two seasons max so bad if it doesn’t cost you a top prospect and/or you don’t have to commit money over 3-4 years that you know in your heart he is not worth (aka Stephen Drew)?

There is a history with Rollins and the Mets, and to me, that is what it is, history.

If the Mets want to do a deal that benefits both teams where they don’t have to get robbed in prospects to fill their need at SS, then Jimmy Rollins might be that guy.

So if I told you it took a top prospect to get Franklin, Owings, or Didi and it will take a minimum 4 guaranteed years to sign Drew – would you consider Rollins if it meant a mid-level prospect but you take his contract?

Presented By Diehards

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What David Wright’s Victory Really Means Fri, 28 Feb 2014 19:03:49 +0000 I have a confession to make.

I didn’t vote for David Wright as the Face of MLB.


I said it. Wow, that feels good to get off my chest.

I will be honest, when I first caught light of this “contest” it was when one of our own writers Tom Watson, posted his displeasure with the effort the Mets PR team was putting forth in support of Wright.

Now to me, I totally disagreed with Watson, because it’s just a silly little contest and I think putting that much stock into some intern who probably is getting paid in college credits to post on twitter is a little over the top for me.

But, I did get Watson’s view. He’s frustrated with his team, and when you see the pomp & circumstance over something so insignificant, you wonder where the effort is in things that matter, like I don’t know, the roster?

So, when Wright was up against Kershaw, I didn’t think much of it to be honest. Again, a silly little Twitter contest to me.


But, I began to notice my twitter feed was blowing up with support for Wright. Wright needed a comeback, perhaps even a CLUTCH performance by Mets fans to come from behind and defeat Clayton Kershaw. The fans came through.

Then, when Wright was up against King Felix, I thought – “well the fan base will probably be too (internet) exhausted to get him through to the finals.”

But, they weren’t.

Then it was Wright versus Eric Sogard in the finals – which at this point, anybody who thinks this contest isn’t about how much time a team’s fan base spends on Twitter is confirmed. Still, that’s okay. The point of the contest is really to measure which team’s fan base is the most active and supportive on Twitter.

The idea that Eric Sogard could be the “Face” of Major League Baseball is laughable.

So, the contest while probably labeled wrong, does still mean something.

The media shouldn’t take note of the results, Terry Collins shouldn’t take note of the results, and David Wright shouldn’t really take note of the results, except to thank his fans.

wright wilpon aldersonBut the Wilpon’s should take note.

What this contest means is that this fan base is still very much alive, and eager to have something to cheer for. It means that in spite of the last few years, the fan base in many ways is ready to believe again.

The Wilpon’s need to take note of this contest, and understand that while Mets fans do love their team unconditionally, people who are still in love, still get divorced.

So if you voted, and if you voted often – kudos to you for stepping up and showing the baseball world that in spite of recent events, you still support your favorite team, and through that support you have expressed high expectations for the team, in the very near future.

Presented By Diehards

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I’m Ready To Be Excited About Mets Baseball Sat, 15 Feb 2014 16:30:15 +0000 I’ve been involved in my fair share of heated baseball discussions in the past. Whether it be here at MMO, in my private life or on Twitter with some of my favorite Mets critics (like Mr. Megdal).

Over time, I’ve started to take a step back and just observe MMO from a far. Yes, I’m still here friends, so no – you didn’t get rid of me.

But the one takeaway I’ve come away with is no matter what happens, there are always going to be fans who aren’t happy unless they are miserable about their favorite baseball team.

It’s fascinating really when you consider what baseball is supposed to be. It’s supposed to give us, the fans an escape from reality. An escape from parenting, an escape from sick parents, an escape from cancer, an escape from personal health problems, an escape from your job, an escape from school – whatever you need an escape from, baseball is supposed to allow you to sit back, and forget all that ails you in your life.

When you think of baseball, you should think of the quote from the great philosopher…Alyssa Milano.

“Baseball is my escape. The sights, the sounds, the way the park smells. There is truly no place I would rather be than at a game.”alyssa milano

Yet, as the Mets enter the 2014 season, I can’t help but notice that no matter what happens, there will be fans who can’t help themselves but to find reasons to be negative about the team they love rather than positive.

If you stop and take a breath, there is plenty to be excited about heading into 2014. Who cares that the Mets payroll isn’t over $100 million? What difference does it make? When you as a fan focus on payroll, and not the roster composition – you’re merely requesting your favorite team make poor roster decisions.

The Mets COULD sign Stephen Drew for over $15 million to play SS and appease everybody who focuses on the total payroll of the team – but hopefully they don’t because if they do, they are making a poor decision. Spending money doesn’t mean you have the best team possible, when players hit free agency, they are usually passing their best years. So why the need to demand the Mets be like the Yankees and over spend on old, injury prone players is beyond me.

The Mets have a young core that they are trying to build around. A young core that could be the benchmark for pitching staff’s in the sport in the next few years. A young core that could turn “Harvey Day” excitement into “Every Day” excitement.

So what if you have to wait another year or two? It’s not like the team is sitting back and refusing to try and field a competitive team. If they were happy with being bad, they wouldn’t have signed Granderson or Colon.

I just don’t understand the constant need to be negative about everything. The 2014 team on paper is not bad. Sure, there are question marks such as Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada, but this team heading into Spring Training can be competitive while still looking toward the future. To me, that is exciting.

syndergaardFor me, 2014 is about a new chapter in Mets baseball. It’s about seeing a full year of Wheeler and d’Arnaud, about hopefully seeing Syndergaard step into the big leagues for the first time, about seeing guys like Mejia and Montero fight for spots on the big league roster during spring training.

I am excited for 2014 because I’m excited to see how our young talent moves forward toward becoming big leaguers that can impact the sport. It’s the same excitement people had when David Wright & Jose Reyes were making their way to the big leagues. That was then, and this is now.

In today’s game, if you have pitching, you have as good of a chance as anybody in the sport. And if Matt Harvey comes back in a year as good as he was, the Mets could have as good of a pitching staff as anybody in baseball.

And that, gives me something to look forward to.

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MLB: Drug Dealers Welcome Mon, 13 Jan 2014 18:06:19 +0000 bosch 60 minutes

Last night, 60 Minutes aired an interview with Anthony Bosch, founder of former South Florida anti-aging clinic Biogenesis.

During the interview (which I admittedly chose not to watch), I have read that Bosch admitted to injecting Rodriguez with PED, an allegation that conveniently came to fruition after Major League Baseball apparently took over paying for Bosch’s legal fees.

Now, I want to stop right there.

Put your anger toward Alex Rodriguez to the side. He’s a baseball player, a very unlikable baseball player who also happens to play for a team many people reading this despise.

But Anthony Bosch is a drug dealer. This is an undisputed fact. He didn’t just deal drugs to Alex Rodriguez or the other few names who were suspended last season. According to the same whistle blower Porter Fischer – Bosch was working with athletes from the NBA, NCAA, Tennis, MMA, boxing, soccer to name a few. He wasn’t MLB’s problem – he was a problem for every major athletic organization in this country – and Major League Baseball is now supporting him.

Let that sink in for just a second. This isn’t the first time Bosch’s name came up with regards to PED. In 2009, his father, Pedro Bosch was named as a supplier to the then recently suspended Manny Ramirez.

So Major League Baseball’s idea to clean up the sport and stop their players from taking banned substances is NOT to help authorities go after those SUPPLYING the drugs to their players – it’s to go after the players using the drugs in an attempt to scare everybody else from ever trying it.

You know who you aren’t scaring?

Drug dealers.


Because you’re paying their legal fees.

The next drug dealer that gets caught isn’t going to go down, they are going to turn over. They are the problem in real life, outside the scope of Major League Baseball.

When you’re trying to clean up a drug problem, explain to me how it makes sense to go after the user and not the dealer?

In what warped universe am I supposed to listen to a drug dealer, a slimy slithering (you like that?) drug dealer and think “he must be telling the truth!”

Now let’s get back to Rodriguez.

To our knowledge, he has failed one test for banned PED substances and that was during the 2003 survey test.

So this leads me to my next point. If Major League Baseball wants me the avid baseball fan to believe they are cleaning up the game with their great drug testing program – then you cannot at the same time be going after a guy who DIDN’T FAIL A TEST!


Because if you’re telling me Rodriguez was taking a banned substance, then you’re simultaneously telling me your testing program DOES NOT WORK!

This entire case to me, sums up what is wrong with the sport of baseball as far up as Bud Selig and as far down as the writers who vote on the Hall of Fame candidacy.

If Major League Baseball has the right to ASSUME a player is guilty and go to great lengths (somewhat illegal lengths) to prove it, then how can we hold even the writers accountable for ASSUMING a player like say Mike Piazza took PED when there is no actual evidence to support it?

The last point I will make it to the MLB Players Union. You know, for years I have heard that they have the strongest union in the country if not the world. Where are they right now? If you want players like Piazza, Biggio, Bagwell for example to get the respect they deserve – then where is the union to stand up and tell the public and the writers who vote that assuming guilt with no evidence is not how we fix this problem?

Where is the union while one of their members is being subject to a witch hunt? Where is the union to stand up and point to the owners and the Commissioner for funding a drug dealer in an effort to rid the game of 1 baseball player?

This isn’t about whether Rodriguez is innocent or not – it’s about the great lengths Major League Baseball is taking in an effort to rid the game of a player, not rid the world of a drug dealer. If Rodriguez is guilty, the correct process should be in place to ensure he is found guilty. The word of a drug dealer is not or should not be the “correct process.”

Baseball wants us to assume players like Biggio, Piazza, Bagwell and now Rodriguez are guilty. If we assume former players were guilty with no evidence – it makes the entire PED problem of the past fall squarely on their shoulders – rather than sharing it between them, the league, the writers and yes, even us fans.

If we assume Rodriguez is currently guilty without credible evidence, it assumes that a person’s rights as a citizen of this country do not exist while in the confines of being a baseball player.

And you know what happens when you assume…don’t you Bud?


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