Mets Merized Online » MMO Exclusives http://metsmerizedonline.com Wed, 16 Apr 2014 06:43:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 MMO Fan Shot: Why Do We Act So Surprised? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/mmo-fan-shot-why-do-we-act-so-surprised.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/mmo-fan-shot-why-do-we-act-so-surprised.html/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:58:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=153315 sad mets bench

An MMO Fan Shot by Dave (FalseHustle)

I’m not going to do any research on the subject, but I’m confident in proclaiming that most of us around these MMO parts projected the Mets to be a 75-80 win team in 2014. Sure, there were some optimists who claimed .500 was within reach, and those blind loyalists who thought that it would only take a coin flip falling the right way for the Mets to land at 90 wins and a wild-card berth, and then, obviously, a World Series championship, because anything can happen in these short playoff series and the Mets pitching staff is solid, and…  But really, most of us understood that the team we are trotting out this year is at best marginally better than the squad that took the field last year. So why, day in and day out, do we act so surprised that they are playing like the 70-80 win team 95% of us predicted they would be?

The losses come horribly. Some of these losses have occurred in the most “Mets” way possible. The bullpen has imploded each and every game. Terry Collins has made multiple tactical blunders. We have had injuries to major players. We have made fielding errors, flailed at pitches out of the zone, looked mismatched in general. But that’s just the Mets, right?! This is what the Mets do.  We love the Mets, but we make fun of them all the time. We make fun of our AAAA starting players, our “fat” shortstop, our clueless manager, our double-talking GM and our greedy owners. We commiserate about the product on the field and commiserate about what must be done behind the scenes to improve the team we can’t help but suffer along with. Maybe it distracts us from the product that we are forced to stomach each and every night, but I believe we complain because it’s the only form of catharsis available to us.

But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that this team is truly any worse than we all knew they were going to be. When we were all making our predictions before the season, what did we collectively believe a 75-win team looked like? A 75-win team trots out players who have no business in a major league uniform, just like the Mets do. They scrape the bottom of the barrel for free agents and pick up players off the scrap heap to keep the team afloat, just like the Mets do. They make numerous fielding and batting mistakes, just like the Mets do. They might have a manager who seems completely oblivious to in-game strategy, bungling pitcher/batter matchups and making bizarre roster moves based more on loyalty to veterans than to rookies in an ill-fated attempt to hang onto his job for just one more season, just like the Mets do.

After every game, I come to this site to see what like-minded fans think about the latest Mets’ debacle. And after reading the post-game comments, I’m often baffled. Not at the fact that we, as fans, are fed up. We hate that our team loses so embarrassingly so often, and can’t seem to get their act together, and we hate the ineptitude at seemingly every level, rightly questioning the motivation behind certain moves and the purported “plan” that was supposed to lift us into contention by 2014. I’m baffled because everyone seems so surprised that the Mets are playing the way they do. Why are we surprised when the bullpen blows it?  We never thought the bullpen was any good! Why do we moan and cry that Ike Davis and Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada and EYJ can’t seem to, as they say, hit the broadside of a barn? We never thought any of them were going to be worth anything!  Why are we surprised when Terry bungles simple in-game transitions, when for multiple seasons we have seen him do the same thing day in and day out?

I just don’t get why we are so shocked that the Mets are playing poorly.  I’m not saying to stop rooting for your team to win; of course that’s impossible.  I don’t think we should forgive the Mets’ front-office transgressions either- I think they’ve lied to us to protect themselves, but have done so in such a transparent and smug manner that we can’t help but feel personally betrayed by their every word.  I just think that we need to temper our continued anger at the day in/day out ineptitude of a team that none of us thought would go far.

They won’t lose 100 games, like some posters here now seem to think.  But they sure as hell aren’t going to win 90 games.  Can we at least set that one to rest?  Can we stop “cleverly” joking, “Hey Sandy, only 90 to go! Har har har”?  The guy got caught saying something stupid while trying to placate his clueless bosses.  Because he hasn’t fully delivered on his plans to extricate the Mets from their financial and competitive morass, we think he’s an idiot who is actually trying to make the team worse.  There’s no way Sandy (or, for that matter, David or Terry) thinks the Mets are winning 90 games (well, maybe Terry does; the guy truly is a mystery to me).  Furthermore, deep in our hearts, I don’t believe even one of us here on MMO thought the Mets would win 90.

I’m just trying to understand the lack of perspective.  I get the emotion- I have literally broken a chair and punched a hole through a wall after particularly tough Mets’ losses.  But I suppose I just can’t completely divorce my emotion from the logic of the situation.  This is exactly the sort of team I knew the Mets would field this year, and it’s exactly the sort of team you knew the Mets would field.  Going into each game with that knowledge makes it easier to roll your eyes at the on-field blunders and stay calm when the Mets “unexpectedly” blow another lead or forget to bowl over a catcher or walk in a run or whatever stupid Mets-esque thing they did that day.

Nobody likes watching their team play the way the Mets have, and we have every right to get on them for it.  But can’t we just go into each game knowing that while sometimes things will fall our way, more often than not we are going to play the way Vegas and many of our smart readers think we will play?  We shouldn’t be surprised that they lost all three to the Nationals, and we shouldn’t be surprised if we lose two out of three to the Reds.  This is who the Mets are.  And to quote Dennis Green (if you’ve read this far, you knew it was coming), “they are who we thought they were!”

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Dave (FalseHustle). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to us at FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MMO Fan Shot: Despite All The Frustration, I’m Excited About Our Future http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/mmo-fan-shot-despite-all-the-frustration-im-excited-about-our-future.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/mmo-fan-shot-despite-all-the-frustration-im-excited-about-our-future.html/#comments Sat, 12 Apr 2014 14:00:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=153085  mets fans

An MMO Fan Shot by Marc M.

For most Mets fans, the past several years have been extremely frustrating and understandably so, having registered five consecutive losing seasons coming into 2014, following back-to-back epic collapses by the team in 2007 and 2008.

The prospect of a sixth consecutive losing season has been a subject that has stirred much debate on this site and others among Mets fans. After so many frustrating years, and with the same ownership in place that many have had issues with for years, it’s been argued that “our franchise cannot endure a sixth consecutive losing season.”

I disagree with that premise for two simple reasons.

First, while I remain hopeful that the Mets can turn the corner this year, it is just as likely (maybe more so) that we WILL have another losing season this year. And guess what, the team will still be here (and will still be primed for a serious run of success – but more on that later). Second, there are some things that just cannot be rushed. Rarely does anything in life go exactly according to plan, on a precise timetable. There are just too many variables in play. So, the notion that 2014 was the year that the Mets should return to a winning record is fool’s gold.

In baseball, there are so many things that you cannot neatly drop into a firm time table. For instance, (1) the rate at which prospects develop, (2) the availability of the right players at the right contracts in the free agency market in any given year (3) the availability of the right players in the trade market in any given year, and the Mets’ ability to match up with those trade partners. Timetables are useful tools for setting goals, but, to me, it is meaningless to treat them as anything more than loose estimates – it makes little sense to set some arbitrary date by which everything should occur to propel the Mets back into a winning team.

To me, I am concerned only with whether the Mets are heading in the right direction for BOTH short term and long term success.  And I think we are, with the definition of “short term” being intentionally vague as it is simply unknown. Will it be this year? Possibly, but if it’s not, does that change the fact that we have some seriously talented players making their way onto our big league club?

The answer is obviously “no.”

wheeler harvey

 

Our greatest risk is that all these promising young players fail miserably. While possible, the odds are strongly in our favor that not all will fail, and we will have the nucleus of a strong, young team upon which to compete for years to come. Some of these promising layers will certainly fail to live up to expectations. We just don’t know who. But between Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom as starters, you have to feel good that at least two (and very possibly three) will be stalwarts of our rotation for years to come.

The degree of their success is unknown. We could be sitting on three aces, or three mid-rotation starters, or some combination. But when you add in Matt Harvey, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Jenrry Mejia, that is one heckuva nucleus of starting pitchers, with the “spare” parts serving either as trade chips or bullpen pieces (deGrom and possibly Mejia, though I really like Mejia as a starter). And this ignores Steven Matz and Michael Fulmer, either one or both of whom could be our next “breakout” pitchers literally following in the footsteps of Harvey, Wheeler and Syndergaard/Montero.

We have a boatload of young arms who can finally make our bullpen a strength. It may take a couple of years before some sort out their issues, but we have enough that you have to feel good about them too – guys like Jeurys Familia, Vic Black, Gonzalez German, Josh Edgin, Jack Leathersich, Jeff Walters, Adam Kolarek (and some more exciting arms behind them like (Rainy Lara, Gabriel Ynoa, Luis Mateo, Domingo Tapia, Luis Cessa, Hansel Robles, Matt Koch, Beck Wheeler, Bret Mitchell and Akeel Morris).

We also have some decent positional prospects close to MLB ready (Cesar Puello, Wilmer Flores and Kevin Plawecki) and a few others behind them to really be excited about (Brandon Nimmo, Dom Smith and Amed Rosario) who can fill gaps as well. Presumably, we will be able to trade from our SP strength to fill in any other gaps we may have.

the future

Bottom Line: It is impossible to put a precise timetable on things, but it is hard to argue that things are really looking up for our future – near term and long term. It will not necessarily be linear growth; in fact, it is more likely that we take a sudden leap forward as several players take that next step and begin to put it together.  Perhaps this year; more likely next year.

So, be frustrated at the past, and maybe even a little bit at the present (because Alderson has not been perfect with all his moves by any stretch), but be excited about our future.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Marc M. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to us at FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Specially Priced MLB Downloads Now On iTunes – Win Free Mets No-Hitter DVD! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/specially-priced-mlb-downloads-now-on-itunes-win-free-mets-no-hitter-dvd.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/specially-priced-mlb-downloads-now-on-itunes-win-free-mets-no-hitter-dvd.html/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 21:15:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=153068 mets 50 greatest players dvd

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To celebrate the new season, A+E Networks Home Entertainment has launched a digital download sale on nearly 100 great programs from Major League Baseball, encompassing some of the league’s best TV programming, special documentaries and features, as well as the annual crowning achievement: the Official World Series Film, from 1943 to the present day.

Allowing fans to watch everything from their favorite teams and players to some of the greatest moments in Major League Baseball history anywhere a smartphone or tablet can go, MLB’s digital downloads have never been easier to attain!  Until April 15, simply visit www.iTunes.com/MLB to purchase any of the specially-priced programs, including:

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Just Re-Tweet this post by clicking the Twitter Icon below and we’ll choose FIVE WINNERS on April 16th. Your prize will come directly from A&E.

Good Luck Mets Fans! 

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MMO Fan Shot: Trades, Desperation and Learning to Let Go http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/mmo-fan-shot-trades-desperation-and-learning-to-let-go.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/mmo-fan-shot-trades-desperation-and-learning-to-let-go.html/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 12:51:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=152581 sandy alderson

An MMO Fan Shot by Dave In Spain

Sometime this season the Mets may be faced with a difficult decision: Faced with dramatically declining attendance and fan outrage (or worse, apathy), do they give up a player who is a top prospect or fan favorite in order to acquire desperately needed improvements or radically re-structure the team? (Willingness to take on extra salary with an acquired player is a subject for another post.) Or do they let the brand continue to languish while waiting for prospects to develop?

Sandy Alderson´s history has been to assign a value to a player and stick with it come hell or high water. Whether it´s Ike Davis or Daniel Murphy, or Stephen Drew on the receiving end, he has so far been unwilling to budge.

But at what point does he say ¨Maybe I misjudged¨ or ¨Maybe it´s time to bend a little for the good of the organization as a whole¨? Or ¨Maybe this player just isn’t the player we thought he was¨.

The Mets have avoided desperation moves so far, but at what point do they bite the bullet and give up more than they feel is appropriate to improve the team or win back the fanbase?

With desperation comes loss of trade leverage– Sandy knows this and so do the other GMs. Other teams smell blood in the water, and salivate at the young pitching the Mets have. This isn´t going to get any better until the Mets start winning, but the Catch-22 is that the Mets might not start winning until they make some tough decisions as far as player acquisitions go.

And as fans, we too will have to learn to let go of a player who might be a personal favorite, like Murphy, Rafael Montero, or Zack Wheeler, if in the objective view a trade improves the team overall.

And we´ll have to recognize that it´s not always the individual players that matter, but how the whole roster is put together and whether that brings us closer to a championship.

You may not think that a player being acquired is worth what you give up, but maybe it´s a necessary deal to move the team forward.

It´s easy to see that something isn’t working with the Mets. The challenge in the end will be having the courage to make the hard decisions to change that dynamic and move the team forward rather than moving the goal posts.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Dave in Spain. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to us at FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MLB Daily Fantasy Big Score: $100,000 Guaranteed Payout http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/mlb-daily-fantasy-big-score-100000-guaranteed-payout.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/mlb-daily-fantasy-big-score-100000-guaranteed-payout.html/#comments Thu, 03 Apr 2014 14:41:20 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=152445 draftstreet promo

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MMO Fan Shot: Should Mets Have Made the Ike Davis for Matt Joyce Trade? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/mmo-fan-shot-should-mets-have-made-the-ike-davis-for-matt-joyce-trade.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/mmo-fan-shot-should-mets-have-made-the-ike-davis-for-matt-joyce-trade.html/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 21:20:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=152101 matt joyce

An MMO Fan Shot by Adam AKA Schnitzer’s Marble Rye

Should the Mets have traded Ike Davis for Matt Joyce?

After watching a spring training filled with injuries, inconsistency, and still no clear cut answers at the first base position, I’m wondering if Sandy Alderson made a mistake by not pulling the trigger on a Matt Joyce for Ike Davis trade. In November, I read a post on MMO that the Rays had offered Joyce for Davis in an even swap. I then saw in a New York Post article in February that Sandy Alderson rejected a Joyce for Davis deal.

The Mets rejected the offer, and went on to sign OF Chris Young just a few days later to begin the process of improving the outfield (which I actually think could have been an even better signing with Joyce on the roster already..more on that shortly).

First, a quick summarization of the Duda/Davis saga – In a nutshell, Ike as we know can get raging hot, have a great streak or even half, but then OPS in the .500 or .600 range for extended periods of the time (aka the other half of the season). Duda has the lower ceiling, but is less likely to be a complete black hole in the lineup for long periods of time like Ike has often showed to be.

In all likelihood Duda or Davis full time vs. LHP & RHP would give you below average first base production in 2014 and beyond. They have similar splits vs. RHP/LHP, so either way a platoon is suggested. So hopefully Satin can continue to be good vs. LHP.

But it’s possible, dare I say likely, a Duda/Satin platoon in 2014 will give you a .750-800 OPS from the 1B position, and that’s not too bad. With Ike, the likelihood he’s going to at some point eat up a couple of hundred at-bats as a black hole in the lineup, is high. Platoon or not, with Ike I think it’s goodbye reasonably consistent first base production in 2014. Is that something the perceived-to-be offensively challenged Mets can really afford? I think the consensus is if the Mets could’ve got, or could get something decent for Ike, you pull the trigger — if Ike goes on to be an all star somewhere else, you tip your hat to the guy.

So would Matt Joyce have been “something decent” for Ike? Perhaps I’m being swayed by watching Ike flail hideously at breaking balls in today’s last spring training game, but I think so.

Matt Joyce is 29. Ike is 27. Both left-handed hitters. They’re due similar salaries in 2014. Basically, they’re somewhat comparable.

Without doing a detailed statistical analysis of every single player mentioned in this post, I must mention Joyce’s .835 career OPS vs. RHP. (Although they probably wouldn’t have if they traded for Joyce), let’s assume the Mets had still signed Chris Young. CY’s OPS vs. LHP career you ask? .837.

A platoon in RF of Joyce/Young could have been solid, giving you an .830 OPS out of the position. Hell, you could make the argument that trading Ike for Joyce would have been a better move than signing Chris Young at all. The majority of pitchers are right-handed, feeding more into Joyce strength – not CY’s.

If you want to make the argument that CY is a better glove than Joyce, and Citi Field is spacious and demands rangy outfielders, I get it. To be honest, I’m not all that familiar with Joyce’s defensive abilities. But if he’s been a major league outfielder for 6+ years, I’m guessing he’s a serviceable fielder at the very least. And besides, look at where the Mets are now, it’s March 29th, and they’re considering Lucas Duda in the outfield again.

But to wrap up the proposal of a possible Chris Young/Matt Joyce RF platoon, it could work. Because platoons work, with the right players who actually compliment their individual strengths. If Young is assumed to be a better fielder than Joyce, he becomes a defensive replacement late in games as well. And while I like Andrew Brown to a degree, I think CY off the bench is a better righthanded option.

The Oakland A’s have often used platoons and have been a much more successful team than the Mets have been in recent years for sure. I mean, even last year with CY having his worst season ever pretty much, the A’s still figured out a way to win 90+ games by using him in a platoon/part time situation.

Trading Ike could have put Duda at some ease as well. I know it wouldn’t be the popular choice to announce to the fans that Duda/Satin are are going to be our first basemen in 2014, but at least we could’ve avoided this embarrassing first base “competition.”

I’m no psychiatrist, but I’d probably say it would have been a good thing to tell Duda early on, “You’re our first baseman, at least vs. RHP.” Duda, while not perceived an amazing hitter by any means, still OPS’d .818 vs RHP over the last 3 seasons, and is .812 career vs. RHP in almost 1,000 career AB’s, a decent-sized sample size.

I’m generally an Alderson supporter, and tend to take the perspective that his biggest challenge is being handcuffed financially, but what do you guys think, did he make a mistake by not pulling the trigger on Ike Davis for Matt Joyce when he had the chance?

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Adam AKA Schnitzer’s Marble Rye. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to us at FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MMO Exclusive: One on One with Catching Prospect Cam Maron http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/mmo-exclusive-one-on-one-with-catching-prospect-cam-maron.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/mmo-exclusive-one-on-one-with-catching-prospect-cam-maron.html/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 04:03:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=151800 cam maron

The Mets signed catching prospect Cam Maron in the 34th round of the 2009 Amateur Draft from Hicksville High School, in Hicksville, NY.  Maron, who is entering his sixth season in the Mets farm system, continues to make progress towards his dream of one day playing major league baseball.

The anticipation that a player feels prior to being drafted is sometimes filled with so much anxiety just knowing that they have been working the majority of their lives to reach that point. When the day finally arrives, it’s a moment of joy and celebration for the athlete as well as for their entire family.

Maron shared with me how his special day unfolded, “I’ll never forget it was the last day of classes in high school.  It was day three of the draft and I was very anxious and excited, and I didn’t sleep much that entire week.”

“I didn’t say anything to anyone, but I was getting phone calls and texts messages from family members and friends for the rest of the day. I remember the school announcing everything over the PA system. I was humbled, grateful and very thankful for the love and support that I received on that day.”

The Long Island native was taught the game of baseball by his father and he shares how one decision he made would change the way he would approach the game, “I remember my dad teaching me how to hit; he used to set me up right-handed and I would secretly switch my hands to left-handed as he turned his back and walked away. He would ask, ‘Why are you holding your hands like that?’, I used to say that it was comfortable, and he wouldn’t buy it.  After some while, he said, ‘All right, hold your hands like that but lets stand on this side of the plate’ (which was the left-handed side).  The first swing I smoked a line drive right past him and he said this kid is a lefty. The rest is history.”

The lefty hitting catcher starred at Hicksville high school and felt he made the right choice to pick pro ball over college to follow after his dream, “Looking back on it, I don’t remember it being a tough decision because I just wanted to play baseball, especially professional, since I was an early teenager. At the time, I think it was pretty tough because the normal teenage progression is going to college after high school, but I felt like I was prepared and I was going to put 100% of my effort into playing ball and getting better every day.”

“College will always be there and I will eventually go back to class at some point, but the time to play baseball is a very small window and I wanted to take advantage of that opportunity as soon as it presented itself.”

camden maronIn 2009, Maron was sent to the Gulf Coast Rookie league and played two seasons and combined he batted .303/.409/.427, with two home runs and 14 RBIs. He was then promoted to Kingsport (Rk) for the 2011 season and batted .318/.434/.413 with three home runs and 24 RBIs in 201 at bats.

The ideal promotion would have been to go to Brooklyn and not just because it was the next level up, but because it would mean that Maron would play baseball in his own backyard. “Playing in Brooklyn was something that I thought about as soon as I became a player in the organization. It would have been a really cool and amazing experience to be able to play so close to home,” says the catching prospect.

But that was not in the plans as he jumped a level and was sent to Savannah to finish the 2011 season and appeared in just one game.

In 2012, he remained with Savannah and batted .300/.403/.408, with five home runs and 47 RBI’s in 343 at bats.

Each season in played pro ball, he continued to make the right adjustments and progress and he shared with me how he has been able to stay focused and on the right path, “I think the adjustments were more off the field than on the field.  Getting used to the area and the routine each different manager had were the biggest things I remember.”

“Most of the teams we play throughout the minor league levels are the same, so their players are advancing at a similar rate as we are, most of the time. The pitchers I faced and the hitters I studied at lower levels are appearing again as I move up the ladder, and I have notes and reports on most of them, and that helps to formulate my plan for each game in the present.”

After his big season with the Sand Gnats, the Mets promoted Maron once again and he was sent to Class A Advanced St. Lucie for the 2013 season and it was the first time in pro ball that he experienced some adversity, “2013 was a great learning experience for me.  I learned a lot about myself and how to handle myself when things aren’t going right.  I took a lot of those situations and stored them in my mind for the future and ways to avoid them.”

With St. Lucie, he batted .235/.327/.295, with no home runs and 29 RBI’s in 285 at bats, “I think I was pressing too hard and trying to do too much at the plate and that attributed to my struggles. I was much less consistent and that was all on me. I looked in the mirror at the end of 2013 and said it was over now, time to flush all that out, and start on a new season.”

When the season was over the Mets sent him to participate in the Arizona Fall League and he felt honored to represent the organization, “I want to thank the Mets for the opportunity to play in the AFL, it really was an incredible experience that only a handful of players get to do.”

Maron continues, “The competition is really second-to-none, the best of the best in the minor leagues, all in one place. I learned a lot of things about game-calling and sequences, against higher-level players, on both sides of the ball. I wish that it was longer than six weeks, but the experience is invaluable and it is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my career.”

In the AFL, the catcher batted .216/.365/.255, five runs, two doubles, and 12 walks in 17 games and when it was over, he was not done getting ready for the 2014 season, “I resumed my usual winter workout routine back home on Long Island to do my strength and conditioning training at Professional Athletic Performance Center in Garden City, under strength coach Dean Maddalone.”

“We had a great group of guys that worked out, including major leaguers Jose Reyes, Pedro Beato, Adam Ottavino, along with fellow minor leaguers Steven Matz , Willie Carmona, Keith Couch, and a few independent-ball guys. Its a great atmosphere and we all push each other to get better, I would never train anywhere else.”

“I do all of my baseball activity, both hitting and defensive drills, at Performance Factory in Farmingdale under head hitting specialist Joe Francisco.  I have been hitting with Joe since I was a sophomore in high school and I can go to him for anything, he is like a second father to me, especially when it comes to anything baseball related.”

Now with the new season upon us, he will soon find out what team he will suit up for in 2014, and the hope is that he continues to move up the levels and continues to produce. “I am really looking forward to getting back out on the field with all my teammates and competing.  No matter how much you try to simulate a game situation, there is nothing like being in the heat of the battle with all your teammates, all pulling together for the same thing.”

Cam answered a few more questions for me; enjoy his responses.

David – Was there a coach/manager that you feel has helped you with your growth and development throughout the years in the minors?

Cam - There have been so many great coaches and managers throughout my minor league career, I can’t really say there has been one specific coach that stands out more than the others.  Our minor league catching coordinator, Bob Natal, has taught me a handful of things in each aspect of catching, whether it be mental, receiving, blocking, etc.  He is really a wealth of information, and there is rarely a question that he does not have an answer to.  All of my coaches have been very helpful and resourceful when it comes to growth and development on the field.  I am a firm believer that we are a combination of all the experiences we have endured throughout our lives, and that there is something to be learned every day.  I try to take a handful of useful information from each coach each year and put it all together with everything else I have learned.

David – What part of your game do you feel has improved over the past season?

Cam - I feel that my overall defensive game, especially my game-calling, has taken tremendous strides forward in the past year.  Although I did not feel great at the plate on most nights last year, I took it upon myself to still make a difference and help our team win by calling a solid game and helping to guide our pitchers along whatever plan we had in place.  I also feel that my exchange and throwing has come a long way in the past year and I have a lot more confidence during games now.

David – Anything you would like to share with the Mets fans?

Cam - Regardless of where I have played, there have always been Mets fans, whether it be in Scottsdale, Kingsport, Savannah, or St. Lucie, and sometimes even on the road.  Being a native New Yorker, and a Met fan growing up, I know how strong and well spread out the fans are.  I would just like to thank everyone that has supported the Mets, and specifically myself, throughout our careers.  We would not be anywhere without all of you, and I look forward to seeing you guys at the ballpark supporting us!

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Thank you Cam for taking the time to share your journey with MMO and all our great readers. We look forward to another great Mets baseball season. LGM!

Watch Cam participate in a batting instruction video with Performance Factory:

Presented By Diehards

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MMO Fan Shot: Can We Stop Being So Afraid for Matt Harvey Please? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/mmo-fan-shot-can-we-stop-being-so-afraid-for-matt-harvey-please.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/mmo-fan-shot-can-we-stop-being-so-afraid-for-matt-harvey-please.html/#comments Wed, 19 Mar 2014 16:46:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=151192 matt harvey i got this

A MMO Fan Shot by Salty Gary

Hi Mets fans, can we have a little discussion about our “Dark Night” Matt Harvey? The Mets’ front office and many fans alike don’t want Matt Harvey to be a headline this season. We generally agree that we should focus the discussion on the team that takes the field this season and their performance.

My question is what is driving the latest Matt Harvey storyline? Is it Harvey’s ego or is it our own paranoia? Are we the ones creating the headlines about Matt Harvey because we are afraid of losing him to SOMETHING? Oh no, not something! Something always does something! I hate something!

Do we manifest these fears because we relate them to the past behavior of previous Mets players?

As Mets fans we have become so accustomed to drama and turmoil and devastating news – driven in part by the exploits of the last few seasons. It’s as if we now expect something bad to occur. And sometimes we even need it to occur. After all, what else is there to talk about… winning?

While following the Mets has taken on all the allure of a TMZ driven franchise, is it because we want it that way? Because truth be told, it does not have to be that way.

Let’s look at some of the public off-the-field actions that have emblazoned Harvey in the headlines and the gossip columns:

  • Matt Harvey likes to go to hockey games and has been seen at games with fellow teammate Daniel Murphy whose favorite type of music is Christian Rock, and has stated that if he wasn’t playing baseball he would be a Christian Minister.
  • Matt Harvey scored himself a hot supermodel girlfriend for the year and got to travel the globe with her during the offseason.
  • Matt Harvey did a Jimmy Fallon appearance.
  • Matt Harvey loves Qualcomm so much that he called into the Dan Patrick Show and promoted them a bit too much… Okay, a bit too, too much.
  • Matt Harvey takes care of his body so well that ESPN the magazine selected him to be featured nude in their annual “Body Issue” last year.

What an ego on the guy, is he kidding me?

Harvey is evidently out of control, how can he possibly manage that kind of work-life balance? That kind of an ego can only lead to one thing – his downfall. Or maybe not… I remember other Mets doing these same kinds of things and somehow it didn’t ruin their focus or their on-field performance. In fact, quite the contrary.

dickey

Remember when R.A. Dickey did appearances with David Letterman, and the CBS Morning Show? Remember when he told the Mets brass that he was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and there was nothing they could do to stop him. Jeez, the ego on that guy.

reyes body issue

And how about Jose Reyes? He may be the one who paved the way for Matt Harvey. That ego-maniac posed nude for the ESPN body issue too, remember? And who can forget his annoying dancing on the field after scoring a run?

Those actions negatively impacted the performance of these players so much so, that Dickey ended up winning a Cy Young award. And that Reyes guy… Well he ended up winning the NL batting title.

Of course, there are also the real tragedies of some of our Mets stars like Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Coming up so quick and so promising they indulged and succumbed to their fame and it ultimately took away their greatest gift.

Matt Harvey is none of these people that I detailed. He can go on to do media tours and thrive or he can get caught up in his own fame and burn away. Whatever path he takes, our fear of the unknown is not going to change anything.

It is up to Harvey and the people around him to keep our injured ace focused on the primary goal at hand, which is to be a successful ballplayer and help this team win a title. It’s for this reason that I have no worries or reservations about him rehabilitating himself in New York. I actually encourage it.

If he was to rehabilitate at Port St. Lucie, he will be undoubtedly be surrounded by trainers that will help him in his process to get back on the field. However, he does have to leave the facility at the end of the day, and that is why I am empathetic to why he would rather be in New York. He’s a young guy and it’s irrational to expect him to stay cooped up in his St. Lucie apartment waiting to go back into rehab the next day. In Florida he will be away from his friends and family and there are only so many movies he can watch for five or six months. The last thing that I want to see is him pushing his rehab to get home sooner.

If he was to rehab in New York, Harvey would have access to some of the greatest trainers in America. He also grew up in New London, Connecticut which is about a 1.5 hour drive from Manhattan. Being in a familiar area, close to friends and family is exactly the type of environment we should want him in. Having him comfortable with support systems around, will keep him mentally in tune so he can focus his energy on his physical side. Just because it’s standard practice for all players to stay in Florida to rehabilitate, it doesn’t mean it’s the right policy for all players. That’s probably why the CBA gives all players the right to choose their rehab venue.

In Matt Harvey’s case, I believe being with his teammates, family and friends is the right way to go even if it’s not the way the Mets typically handle their rehabs. Make the exception, keep morale high, and be unafraid to think outside the box. Set aside any fears.

Mets fans we cannot put Matt Harvey in a cage and just yell out “Bring out the Gimp” every fifth day. That won’t keep him from doing what he wants. As fans we need to support him and stop being so afraid of what he is doing. Let the young man have some fun and promote himself if that’s a part of the fun for him. Only Harvey can control the excess around him and so far he is handling it like a professional.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Salty Gary.. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to us at FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MMO Fan Shot: Time for David Wright to Pull a Kobe http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/mmo-fan-shot-time-for-david-wright-to-pull-a-kobe.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/mmo-fan-shot-time-for-david-wright-to-pull-a-kobe.html/#comments Sat, 15 Mar 2014 13:20:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=150389  david wright

 An MMO Fan Shot by Schneck

On Wednesday, Kobe Bryant was quoted as calling out the leadership of the LA Lakers for failing to create a winning mentality. He even went as far as to name names and pulled absolutely no punches. Some may say that this was out of line as they are paying him a lot of money, but what exactly does that mean? You bring a guy in and pay him a lot of money as part of a plan to win many games. If you have your marquee guy but do little else, who has more leverage but that marquee player to discuss the situation? Obviously, nobody is happy with their lack of success and if Bryant spoke the company line, it would lack credibility and do nothing to help the situation. By speaking out, he puts extra pressure on his team to change the mentality and get something done.

This brings me to our Mets. The closest equivalent that we have to a Kobe is our captain, David Wright. When he signed his deal, he says there was a conversation that convinced him that the Wilpons and Sandy Alderson had a plan that was going to produce a winning team within a reasonable amount of time. One can certainly argue how ‘reasonable’ should be defined but forward motion would be a key component.

When we hear things about bank imposed salary caps and see piles of evidence that these caps may have indeed shaped many decisions regardless of denials from ownership, it is hard to imagine that this is the path that was presented to Wright or what he would have expected. Unless something radical happens in the next two weeks, throw in a third straight season of declining payroll and a reluctance to spend a dollar more to fix two glaring holes. Was that part of the plan too?

Most fans are smart enough to have figured out by now that neither Ruben Tejada nor Ike Davis are reliable major league players and they are not the caliber of players that one puts on the field when they are trying to build a long term winner. Last season, the Mets’ production from from those two ranked last in the majors at their respective positions. If fans can see that, so can Wright.

All of that said, our captain chooses to always tow the company line. Alderson makes a proclamation that the team will win 90 games, and yet instead of asking aloud how the team proposes to that, there is David Wright the very next morning backing up this 90 win prediction for the 2014 season. And for good measure, Wright then shared his own roadmap to a 90 win season with the group of reporters. It all seemed so orchestrated.

After that, I began to realize that despite all that’s happened over the last few years, you’d have to search pretty deeply between the lines to find even one occasion where Wright was truly critical of our ownership and management. Instead he’s always been in lockstep with them.

I truly believe that Wright would have nothing to lose and everything to gain by calling out ownership for their lack of progress toward the goals laid out in their Plan from several years ago when they talked about the future and why he should remain a Met.

As the team’s leader, like Kobe, he should accept nothing less than a full commitment to winning with no limitations. Fans would rally behind him and appreciate him putting the team ahead of the image and maybe it would set a tone that works its way up the ranks.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Schneck. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

Presented By Diehards

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MMO Exclusive: Cesar Puello Ready To Put 2013 Behind Him http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/mmo-exclusive-puello-ready-to-put-2013-behind-him.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/mmo-exclusive-puello-ready-to-put-2013-behind-him.html/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 03:04:22 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=150102 Cesar Puello

Coming into the 2014 spring season, the Mets have had so many question marks regarding their roster especially which top prospects could actually break camp with the team and which would be on the verge of a debut.

Top outfield prospect, Cesar Puello is one player that is just a step away from impacting the Mets lineup, but his status was in jeopardy after he was linked to the Bio-genesis scandal that rocked all of baseball last summer. Puello was suspended for 50 games as a consequence.

I caught up with Puello while here at the Mets Spring Training complex for MMO.

He appeared genuinely remorseful when I brought up the Biogenesis scandal. This young man clearly understands all that transpired, but told MMO that he is ready to put last season behind him.

“Everything always happens for a good reason.” Puello said. “And because of what happened to me last season, I have matured more as a player and a person. I am now extremely focused and ready to start making some good decisions, because that is what is most important. I’m ready to move on and help the Mets organization.”

In 2013, while with Double-A Binghamton, Puello was i the midst of an MVP caliber season and batted .326/.403/.547, with 21 doubles,16 home runs, 73 RBI, 24 stolen bases in just 331 at-bats.

Now with the suspension behind him, Puello works toward showing everyone that the great numbers he showcased in 2013, were not a fluke and are something that he will continue to build on.

The Mets made their decision to cut him and send him back to minor league camp on Monday, but not before opening up some eyes by batting .364/.533/.545 in his small sampling. Mets VP of Player Development Paul DePodesta is impressed with Puello’s approach at the plate and believes he has all the tools to be a productive major leaguer for the Mets.

For now, the Mets are locked in with Curtis Granderson, Eric Young, Chris Young and Juan Lagares, so finding playing time for Puello, would have been extremely difficult. At least starting in Las Vegas (AAA) he will get the opportunity to work his way back into top form.

One thing that bodes well for Puello is that he is fully on board with the offensive philosophy of the organization. We talked a little bit about that and this kid gets it.

“If you focus on putting the bat right on the ball, the home runs will follow, but I have to first think about my on-base percentage, my average and then everything else will follow with good results,” says the outfielder.

Not only does Puello have a big power bat, but he also has speed, and that aspect is also a very important part of his game, “I play aggressively and intelligently, and that is another way to show what I can do on the field during the game,” he says.

After speaking with Puello and watching how he handles himself in the clubhouse, with his teammates, his coaches and also around the fans, it’s very apparent that the Mets have something very special in this young man. Everyone makes mistakes, but its what he has learned from his mistakes that will help him to continue to grow and develop into a bonafide major leaguer.

He is very thankful for a second opportunity and intends to make the best of it this time. “I thank God that everything is great now and I’m working hard everyday,” he said as our conversation came to a close. “I’m ready to showcase my abilities.”

He will get his chance to do just that. I believe in this kid. Don’t be surprised to see Puello’s name listed among the league leaders in batting, on-base and power in the PCL this Summer. My hunch is that he will force his way into the Mets lineup at some point this season.

This interview was initially conducted in Spanish and I translated into English for our readers to enjoy. 

Presented By Diehards

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Sign Up For MMO Fantasy Baseball – 100% Free, 100% Metsmerized!!! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/sign-up-for-mmo-fantasy-baseball-100-free-100-metsmerized-2.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/sign-up-for-mmo-fantasy-baseball-100-free-100-metsmerized-2.html/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 14:00:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=149563 MMO FANTASY BASEBALL

Update 3/7 – Great turnout so far! Thirty people and there’s plenty of room for more. Read further to learn how to sign up.

Spring Training is upon us, and it’s time to start preparing for this year’s MMO Fantasy Baseball Season. Consider this the first notice. What we at MMO Fantasy Baseball will do this year is accept signups via e-mail. After a couple weeks of gathering as many names as would like to play, we’ll make as many leagues as we can. We will not form a league with fewer than ten participants or more than fourteen. If 30 people sign up, we’ll play three ten-player leagues. If we get 48 people, we’ll use four twelve-player leagues.

Joe D., who should be regarded and thanked at every opportunity, has continued to support this endeavor by offering a prize to the champion from his own stash of giveaways for the site. He has generously agreed to put up as many prizes as we have leagues, so everyone has something other than pride to play for.

The rules of the leagues will be uniform so everyone will be playing the same game. Scoring will be based on the standard fantasy 5×5 categories: AVG., HR, RBI, Runs, SB and Wins, ERA, Ks, Saves and WHIP. We will be playing through Yahoo. It will be a snake draft, and the rosters will consist of 25 players and will be as follows: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF, OF, IF, UTIL, SP, SP, SP, SP, RP, RP, P, P, P and five bench spots. This can be tweaked if league size dictates (maybe add another UTIL for a ten-team league).

There will be a maximum limit of seven add/drops per week and no limit or deadline for trades throughout the regular season. After the final game is complete on the last day of the regular season, rosters will lock for the playoffs. You will dance with who brung you. Injury add/drops after rosters are locked will only be offered for those players who hit the DL. E-mail your commish with your replacement, and he or she will make the add/drop for you. Rosters won’t unlock. Final rule: good-natured trash talk is expected.

Please send an e-mail to MMOFantasyBaseball@gmail.com with the subject “MMO Fantasy Baseball” answering the following questions:

  • What is your MMO handle (it does not have to be your eventual team name; just need something with which to identify you for the time being)
  • When is your preferred time to draft (days of the week and time of day)? Please list all available times. We want as many people as possible to be able to take part in a live draft and will likely group leagues based first on draft availability. Your commish will drill down a specific time with the league.

We’re hoping for an even better turnout than last year. Consider the 2014 fantasy baseball season open for business!

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MMO Fan Shot: How Ed Kranepool Turned Me Into A Mets Fan http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/mmo-fan-shot-how-ed-kranepool-turned-me-into-a-mets-fan.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/mmo-fan-shot-how-ed-kranepool-turned-me-into-a-mets-fan.html/#comments Tue, 04 Mar 2014 23:37:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=149147 casey stengel ed kranepool

An MMO Fan Shot by Elias Conde

In 1962, I was 13 years old, my current wife Carmen was barely two, President John F. Kennedy was in his first term and the New York Mets were born. I sometimes wonder why I remember the Mets back then, because I really wasn’t a baseball fan that cared too much about the teams, but for whatever reason I was made aware of their existence.

I was raised in Spanish Harlem, later moved to the Bronx, and I was only interested in hanging out with my friends, playing basketball and some baseball, but stickball was my favorite. There started to be a lot of publicity surrounding the Mets, and I started to become interested in what was going on in Queens.

Casey Stengel was the one name I remembered the most as he was constantly being quoted in the papers. I learned about Marv Thronberry and for some reason I thought he was a great player, but later on I realized he wasn’t a very good first baseman at all, even though he did hit a little. Roger Craig was on the downside of his career, but he did pitch very well even though he lost a lot of games that year.

As 1962 wore on, I began to become a true Mets fan and emotionally invested in the team. Even though they lost over 120 games, I was happy whenever they won despite it happening only 40 times that first season. This team brought some life to our city, and even though the Yankees were the team most people followed and talked about, the Mets were endearing and captured my attention. I began to learn everything I know about baseball by following the Mets, even though they didn’t play winning baseball. Most of the players were on the downside of their careers and the young ones didn’t have enough talent, but I grew to love this team.

Casey Stengel was a riot who when he spoke said things that didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but were nonetheless funny. Many bad things happened during the early 60’s, from Kennedy being assassinated, the demonstrations because of the Vietnam War and the Mets losing a ton of games, but when they actually won a game, it made me feel proud to be a fan.

Ed Kranepool came up with the Mets during that first season and he immediately became my favorite player. I can remember his first hit being a double and thought, “wow he is going to be a superstar”. As we later realized, he turned out to be a very good player, but not the star everyone expected. The reason he was my favorite was because when I entered high school, I started playing first base and was also pitching. I am a lefty just like Kranepool and I can remember playing at Monroe High School where Kranepool graduated from and thinking wow he actually played on that field, where he hit home runs and drew so much attention to himself from scouts and teams.

The one time I played at the Monroe High School field, I pitched and lost 1-0 in extra innings. Just being on the same field as Kranepool gave me goose bumps. I felt that if he played there and went on to the major leagues, that I might have a chance. But, even though I never lived out my dream of playing professional baseball, I was given an opportunity to live out a dream of walking on the same field that he once starred.

Kranepool went on to have a nice career with the Mets and even though the younger fans do not know much about him, he is still well known by the die-hards that followed the Mets during my generation.

As I reflect on those times, I can say the Mets were very instrumental in making me a baseball fan who now enjoys the game so much and looks forward to each upcoming Mets season. Perhaps a story for another day….

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Elias Conde. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

Presented By Diehards

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MMO Fan Shot: Will the Mets Bullpen Finally Shine in 2014? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mmo-fan-shot-will-the-mets-bullpen-finally-shine-in-2014.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mmo-fan-shot-will-the-mets-bullpen-finally-shine-in-2014.html/#comments Sat, 01 Mar 2014 04:00:09 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=149217 Jose Valverde

An MMO Fan Shot by Ryan Flanagan

The 2013-2014 Mets offseason has painfully centered on discussion over Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Stephen Drew and Ruben Tejada, all at agonizing length. While they certainly are important, the most critical detriment to the team seems to be vastly overlooked by the media and fans alike; the strength of the Mets bullpen.

Say what you want about Sandy’s drafting abilities, the strength of his trades or the lack of spending in the free agent market, one thing cannot be argued is how disappointing the bullpen has been since he arrived.

Since the Mets GM came on board after the 2010 season, the bullpen has gotten progressively worse and ranks near the bottom of the league in many categories including Bullpen ERA, Save Percentage, Strikeout Rates, Walks Allowed, and Batting Average Against.

How the Mets stacked up in 2013 against the NL and MLB.

Untitled-1

The graph above captures where the Mets ranked against the MLB Average and both the NL and MLB Leaders. The Mets are shown in blue.

Innings Pitched: There seems to be an idea amongst some fans that the bullpen is consistently overworked. The Mets actually ranked right in the middle of both the MLB and NL in innings pitches at 12th and 7th, respectively. The team is only 8 innings off the pace of the MLB average.

Strike Outs: The Mets bullpen didn’t sit down hitters very often in 2013 by way of the strike out. In fact, they ranked dead last in not only the NL, but the entire MLB in that category. Understandably, some pitchers pitch more to contact and find success doing so, but strikeout rates this low is not a good thing. The Mets were nearly 30 strikeouts ahead of the the next-worst team alone and ranked 20th overall in K/9 in the majors at just 7.37

Walks: The Mets’ bullpen actually ranked well when it came to free passes. They were 11th across baseball, 6th in the NL and were better than the MLB average. Walks were not a critical issue for an overall struggling bullpen.

Hits: While the Mets don’t walk many batters, they certainly manage to give up hits. They ranked 4th highest in the MLB and 2nd highest in the NL in hits allowed with 493, nearly 40 more than the MLB average. That is not where you want your stoppers to be.

Those are just raw numbers and not really the best way to evaluate performance, But I thought it would be interesting to look at them nonetheless, just to see where we placed compared to other teams. Let’s move onto percentages.

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ERA: The Mets ranked 28th in MLB and 12th in the NL in bullpen ERA in 2013. This after two-straight seasons of having the second-to- worst bullpen ERA in the NL and nearly the worst in all of baseball. The Mets pen has been giving up runs in bunches. The Mets allowed nearly a half run more than the MLB average per nine innings and nearly 1.5 runs more than the MLB and NL Leader, the Atlanta Braves.

WHIP: The Mets ranked near the bottom when it came to walks/hits per IP. Already noting that the bullpen rarely walked batters, the amount of hits they give up drove up the WHIP considerably. The team ranked 21st in MLB and 12th in the NL with a 1.32 WHIP.

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Opponent Batting Average

The graph really speaks for itself….the higher up you go, the worse you get. The Mets were ranked among some of the games’ worst when it came to opposing team batting average, yielding a .256 average to opposing hitters. That ranked the Mets 27th in the MLB and 13th in the NL in 2013. However, the only three teams worse than the Mets play in hitters parks while the Mets play in Citi Field, a notorious pitchers park with a .867 Runs Park Factor in 2013, 29th lowest in the majors.

These statistics don’t tell the entire story and obviously, it doesn’t take a genius to know the Mets bullpen has been terrible over Sandy’s tenure, but it’s interesting to look at the numbers to see just how bad the Mets are across the league.

Bringing in the likes of veterans Frank Francisco, D.J. Carrasco, Brandon Lyon, etc. has not worked. This year, the bullpen was set to be stocked with some young and promising arms, but they may now be blanketed by more veterans like Jose Valverde, Kyle Farnsworth and possibly John Lannan.

Gambling on veteran bullpen acquisitions in free agency is always difficult because they are so hit and miss especially those in the mid-to-lower tiers where the Mets have been fishing. Hopefully our young talent proves more successful then some of the disappointing free agents and minor league signings that have passed through Flushing the last few years, with apologies to LaTroy Hawkins who proved to be a valuable acquisition.

Forget first base and shortstop for a second; one thing’s for sure: this bullpen has to improve dramatically if this team is to have any chance to compete in 2014 and Sandy has yet to prove he can make that happen. Lets hope this is the year when our bullpen finally excels and gives our rotation and lineup a better chance to win some games and get us over the hump.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Ryan Flanagan. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Mets fans who read this site daily.

Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MMO Exclusive: Johnny Magliozzi Is Ready For Full Season Debut http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mmo-exclusive-johnny-magliozzi-is-ready-for-full-season-debut.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mmo-exclusive-johnny-magliozzi-is-ready-for-full-season-debut.html/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 13:00:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=149033 johnny magliozzi gators

The Mets drafted Johnny Magliozzi in the 17th round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of the University of Florida. In his final season as a Gator, Johnny sported a team-leading 2.67 ERA in 67.1 innings — mostly in relief. He struck out 57 batters in that span, and notched 12 saves, just one shy of the school record. He was also named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll.

Upon being drafted, Magliozzi signed quickly and was assigned to the Mets short-season affiliate in Brooklyn. He would pitch just 15.1 innings for the Cyclones, but his dominance and swagger earned him the team’s closer role and Mags would save nine games while posting an outstanding ERA of just 1.17. Not a bad way to get your pro career started.

I recently had a chance to interview Johnny for MMO as he gets ready to pitch for his first full season league in 2014. Please enjoy.

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Kirk – I would imagine playing minor league baseball in Brooklyn is different than most places you’ve pitched. What was your experience like playing in New York City? 

Johnny - Brooklyn was unreal. The fans were awesome, and the stadium was amazing. It was a great place to start my professional career.

Kirk - What do you feel are your strengths, and what will you improve on in 2014?

Johnny - I love competing and this sport gives me the opportunity to go out and give it my best everyday, and that’s what I love about it. I’d like to improve in a number of areas, but right now I’m focusing on getting stronger and throwing all my pitches down in the zone for strikes.

Kirk – Were there any teammates that impressed you with the Cyclones in 2013? 

Johnny - Robert Gsellman really impressed me as a pitcher. He’s pretty polished for a high school kid and he knows how to pitch and how to compete. He’s really got some great stuff when he’s out there on the mound.

Kirk – Are there any coaches who really helped your development and transition to professional baseball?

Johnny - The entire coaching staff was great. I learned a lot from all of them. Rich (Donnelly) was awesome and he knows so much about the game of baseball. It was great listening to what he had to say.

Kirk – I know you started a bit in college, if you had your choice would you prefer to start or relieve? Why? 

Johnny - I get asked that a lot, but honestly I am here to do whatever the Mets organization asks from me. Where ever the Mets assign me, I am going to go out there and give it my best effort. I will compete for whichever club I am on.

Kirk – You’ve been compared to Kansas City Royals reliever Tim Collins. Are you flattered by that or do you feel scouts use that comparison simply because you’re both relievers who are under six feet? 

Johnny - That is a great compliment. Tim is an amazing pitcher and really competes out there. He has had a successful career thus far and has shown a great work ethic. I hope to be as successful as him in the future.

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Kirk – I’ve had people tell me you have a “bulldog mentality” on the mound. Is that something you’re aware of? If so, is that something you’ve developed or does it come naturally? 

Johnny - I would have to say that it comes from playing hockey my entire life. I took that intensity of playing hockey and bring it into my baseball career. I want to go out on the mound, give it my all and leave everything out there on the field! When I’m on the mound I feel like you need that confidence coupled with a can-do attitude in order to be successful.

Kirk – Who are the players you grew up idolizing or perhaps modeling your game after?

Johnny - I loved watching Pedro Martinez pitch, the guy was unreal. Pedro was like an artist on the mound. He was a fierce competitor and threw a lot of unhittable pitches. I try to model my game after him.

Kirk - What are some things you enjoy doing outside of baseball? 

Johnny – I like to play a lot of golf, and also hang out with my friends.

Kirk – What are your goals for 2014? 

Johnny - To break camp in a full season squad. I just can’t wait to play baseball again. I would love to pitch in Port St. Lucie, Florida. That’s where I went to college and I still have a lot of friends down here that would love to watch me play!

Kirk - Do you have a message you’d like to pass along to Mets fans?

Johnny - Thanks to everyone for the support and Let’s Go Mets! 

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You can follow Johnny on twitter @Money_Mags and also on Instagram at jmagsked.

Thanks to Johnny for taking the time to answer a few questions. As you can tell he’s a very focused and motivated young man with a great attitude. He also a great guy and I’m looking forward to following him as he ascends up the ranks on this way to Queens!

(Photo credits: Kenneth Goldberg, New York Mets)

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Eric Young Ready and Excited For Start Of A New Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/eric-young-jr-ready-to-start-a-new-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/eric-young-jr-ready-to-start-a-new-season.html/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2014 15:05:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=148909 eric young jr 2

Coming into 2014, one of the main focuses has been who will be in the starting lineup for the Mets when it pertains to the outfield. Speculation has it that Terry Collins is leaning towards having Eric Young, Jr. in left field, Chris Young in center and Curtis Granderson in right.  At this point, since the games have yet to begin, its really hard to assess where exactly everyone will fit, and other than Granderson, the other two outfield spots are pretty much up for grabs.

Now with the 2014 season about to start, Young is ready to do his part on the field. I caught up with him at the Mets Spring Training Complex on Sunday and asked him how he felt his chances were of winning an opening day roster spot, “I’m feeling good, I know I can contribute to the team on a day to day basis, but those type of things I try not to worry about, I just get myself ready for a long season and take it from there.”

In 2013, the Mets acquired Young in a mid-season trade with the Colorado Rockies after he was placed on waivers. He mostly played in left field and used his speed to lead the league with 46 stolen bases. With games about to begin, Young says he is ready for the grapefruit league season to get underway. “Feeling good, feeling stronger and I’m excited to get these games on, but ultimately I feel good and ready to go.”

Young understands that he must improve his ability to get on base and is focused on taking it up to .340 or .350 which would be significant to a team that needs to score more runs.

Getting on base more would also lead to more stolen bases, but more importantly he’d be setting the table for  the big bats of David Wright, Curtis Granderson and hopefully a rejuvenated Ike Davis. This could be the year it all comes together for Young.

(Photo Credit: US Presswire)

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MMO Review: Ken Burns’ The Tenth Inning http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mmo-review-ken-burns-the-tenth-inning.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mmo-review-ken-burns-the-tenth-inning.html/#comments Sun, 23 Feb 2014 19:32:25 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=148738 burns tenth inning

Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby was once asked what he does all winter. The great 2Bman replied, “I stare out the window and wait for spring.” I am just like Hornsby. No, I don’t have a career 358 BA but I do the same. Unlike most of you, I don’t follow other sports. One tradition I have is viewing Ken Burns’ Baseball to help me survive the endlessly boring winters. A few years back I purchased the “The Tenth Inning,” but hadn’t watched it–until recently.

Hard to believe I was disappointed. True, even a bad Baseball documentary is still good. But this felt more like an ESPN show, not a creation by an award-winning documentarian.

There are several familiar faces that return from the original. Doris Kearns Goodwin, Daniel Okrent, Gerald Early, Thomas Boswell and Bob Costas are back sharing insights. Newcomers include sportswriters Marcus Breton, Howard Bryant, Gary Hoenig, as well as great tales from Keith Olbermann and Mike Barnicle. Chris Rock supplies a few laughs. Bud Selig and Don Fehr are interviewed.

In one of the Special Features both Burns and co-prouder Lynn Novick are interviewed. Burns is a die-hard Red Sox fan, Novick a Yankees fan. Burns stated after his Sox reversed the curse in ’04, he formulated the idea to update the original. And therein lies the problem. This episode covers 1992-2009. However, about 2 ½ of the 4 hours is devoted to only two topics: The Red Sox/Yankee rivalry and steroids.

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Granted, these were huge topics over the last 20 years. But as a result numerous other subjects and high points were glossed over or ignored completely.

I’m not downplaying the long lasting effects of the Steroid Era. But I felt far too much emphasis was focused on this topic. The steroids issue was presented in such a way I thought I was watching Dateline.

“The Tenth Inning” was little more than a MLB highlight reel. Gone were the personal stories from those in the game. The only ballplayer interviewed was Pedro Martinez. Felipe Alou appeared briefly in addition to Yankee skipper Joe Torre who received approximately 25 minutes of airtime.  

The earlier innings were, by and large, centered on the individual player and his significance to the game. Rarely was a section focused on a ‘team.’ Much of The Fourth Inning, A National Heirloom, was centered on Babe Ruth. A good portion of the Sixth Inning, The National Pastime, was focused on Jackie Robinson. This tenth inning, as a result of overkill on two topics, left many important issues not covered.

After 86 years, Boston finally won the World Series and received endless coverage. On the flipside, the White Sox ended their 88 year drought in 2005 but it was not even mentioned.

In 2003, the Cubs were 5 outs away from returning to the Series for the first time since 1945, possibly winning their first Championship in 95 years. Yes, there was poor old Steve Bartman again. But no time was devoted to the long storied history of Cubs futility. A brief recap of their century long slump would have brought into perspective the fan interference call.

The overkill of Yankees/Red Sox and Steroids left much on the cutting room floor.

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The first 9 innings covered the 20th Century. Yet, one of Baseball’s most glorious moments, the 1999 All-Star Game when yes, The All-Century Team was introduced, was not examined.  Ted Williams at Fenway. How much better does it get?

The influx of Latin players received a good amount of air-time. Yet, there was no mention of the decline and almost complete disappearance of African-Americans from the field. I found this interesting, especially since, and rightfully so, so much focus throughout the original was paid to Jackie Robinson’s arrival, the fading away of the Negro Leagues and the horrors that black ballplayers such as Hank Aaron and Curt Flood endured decades after the end of The Gentleman’s Agreement.

Two of the most popular broadcasters in history, Jack Buck and Harry Caray, adored by generations of fans in Chicago and St. Louis, died in 2002 and 1998 respectively. Yet, they were omitted. There was nothing said about Baseball returning to the nation’s capital after almost forty years. Nor was the addition of teams in Tampa Bay, Colorado, Miami or Arizona discussed. The D-backs only got mentioned when Burns turned his focus to the 2001 Yankees.

As the bulk of the 4 hours centered on the big market Yankees and Sox, the fact that small market clubs on a shoestring budget, such as Oakland, Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Miami remained competitive, was again barely discussed. The Twins, Rays and Marlins with their 2 titles received no air-time.

With the exceptions of the Braves dominant Big Three and the high profile trio of McGwire, Sosa and Bonds, many other great players from the last 20+ years were non-existent.

Ken Griffey Jr, one of the most loved players of his generation appeared on the cover of the DVD but only was briefly mentioned in the opening minutes. Admired Kirby Puckett, who retired early due to injuries, became one of the youngest players enshrined in Cooperstown and tragically died at 45 years old, was absent. Tony Gwynn’s 338 career BA may have been the highest of the last half-century but apparently that wasn’t worthy of being highlighted. One glaring and unbelievable lapse relates to the greatest lead-off hitter ever. Rickey Henderson is the all-time leader in SB’s (1406), runs, (2295), lead-off HR’s (81) and unintentional walks (2129.) He was rarely out on the bases but he was out of The Tenth Inning.

How can you discuss the last 20 years without including Trevor Hoffman, Robby Alomar, Jim Thome, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Chipper Jones, Craig Biggio and the man who hit more HR’s than any other catcher in history, our own Mike Piazza.

When Aaron Boone, Scott Brosius and Kevin Millar get more attention than Pujols, Cabrera and Alomar, somethin’ aint right.

ichiro_suzuki_catch_seattle_mariners - Copy

One part of The Tenth Inning was almost laughable. Burns and Novick highlighted the arrival of Ichiro Suzuki, the first Japanese position player. It underscored the fact that in the midst of balls flying out of ballparks, a slap hitter won the admiration of fans coast to coast. They made mention of his All-Star game appearances, numerous Gold Gloves and Batting titles. However, while praising Ichiro, they completely failed to include the fact he set the record for most hits in a season (262), a mark that had stood for 84 seasons. To discuss Ichiro without acknowledging his crowning achievement was a monumental blunder.

As for our beloved Mets? Well, let’s be honest. The period 1992-2009 wasn’t a great run for us. However, we were ignored entirely. In the Seventh Inning, The Capital of Baseball (1950-1959), that entire episode centered on New York’s dominance and that seemingly every October there was a Subway Series. Yet, in 2000, when the first Subway Series occurred in four and a half decades, this too was omitted.

Being a New Yorker and Mets fan I was greatly disturbed about the way 9/11 was portrayed. After the Towers were shown on fire and crumbling, the next baseball scene was the Yankees playing the White Sox with Chicagoans holding ‘We Love New York’ signs. There was no mention of the first post-9/11 game in New York, which happened at Shea and not even a mention of Piazza’s HR that healed a city. To add insult to injury, in one of the special features, Joe Torre was talking about how he and some of his players visited families of numerous victims. I’m not playing one-upmanship with regards to a horrific event. But I found it slightly appalling that a filmmaker with the credentials of Ken Burns would emphasize the role of one NY team while completely ignoring the other. A casual fan would think the Mets went the way of the Washington Senators after 1986.

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To illustrate the above point, one part focused on how the game got away from the cookie-cutter stadiums of the 60’s and 70’s and built new parks with a retro field. 19 of 30 teams built new homes starting in 1990. If you recall the original documentary, much emphasis was placed on the lore and homey feeling of Ebbets Field. Yet, when the Mets build a retro stadium with an exterior that replicates the Dodgers home, that too, is avoided.

Interestingly, one problem the game has faced over the last generation is the widening gap between big markets and small markets. Yet, Mr. Burns perpetuated that in ‘The Tenth Inning’ by focusing on Boston and New York while largely ignoring everyone else.

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MMO Exclusive: Mets Reliever Vic Black Says “I’m The Predator” http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mmo-exclusive-mets-reliever-vic-black-says-im-the-predator.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mmo-exclusive-mets-reliever-vic-black-says-im-the-predator.html/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 18:13:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=148488 Vic - Black, RHP

Vic Black, the young, hard-throwing reliever acquired from the Pirates in the Marlon Byrd trade, is gearing up for his first full Major League season. I had a chance to pick Vic’s brain, asking the promising right-handed fireballer 14 questions about his thoughts as he heads into the 2014 campaign.

Tommy Rothman, MetsMerized:  Hi, Mr. Black. Thanks for agreeing to do this interview. You made your MLB debut this past season, then got traded, then got called up again, and got a taste of pitching in New York. A lot of stuff happened to you last year. How would you describe your 2013 experiences?

Vic Black, New York Mets: “Wow.” That is what I say when I am actually able to sit down and think about everything. But I’m certainly thankful to the Pirates for the beginning and now so incredibly thankful and excited for this awesome journey with my new family, the Mets.

Tommy: You were a catcher until your senior year in high school. Presumably, you had spent your whole life up until that point working on becoming a great catcher. You are now a major league pitcher. How exactly did that transition happen?

Vic: The transition from catcher [to pitcher] was quick once they realized I couldn’t hit a breaking ball. (Laugh.) But it has actually been great. A lot of the aggressiveness and knowledge about what’s going on outside of just my little island has helped a ton in my development.

Tommy: What is your pregame routine? Walk us through a game day.

Vic: My pregame is interesting. (Laugh.) Of course I get to the field and play catch, run, and shag for batting practice, but once that is over things get weird. I would begin by drinking a couple cold Starbucks Frappuccinos. Next it’s on to the hot and cold whirlpools for 20 minutes. After that I’ll sit around a bit at the locker, joking with the guys. Assuming it’s a 7 o’clock game, come 6:17 (don’t ask why that time), I go shower for exactly 20 minutes. Get out and get dressed but it’s always in the same order. Then another Frappuccino and its off to the dugout. Give the coaches a high five and wait for the anthem. That’s my shortened version. (Laugh.)

Tommy: There is no doubt that you have the arm strength necessary to become a great relief pitcher. The biggest knock on you has always been that your control isn’t good enough. What have you done to address this issue so far, and what plans do you have to improve your command going forward? Do you think you can increase your ability to locate your pitches without sacrificing velocity?

Vic: Sacrificing velocity isn’t something I worry about when locating. Truthfully my [focus] is [on creating] downward angle on the pitch and [keeping] it in the bottom of the strike zone. That in itself keeps me around the plate and it’s hard enough to hit as it is. But repetition is huge. The more you do the better you get, so continuing to keep flat ground work as a part of my daily routine takes care of a lot of the small issues.

Tommy: Which pitch do you most want to work on this season?

Vic: Well I’ve been mastering a two-seam as of late, but the season is not where I work on pitches. I take the arsenal I have prepared with into the season, and that’s what you will get. I want guys out, not getting hits off of a pitch I’ve been working on.

Tommy: Some people take relievers for granted. Many relievers only get attention when they mess up, because fans expect perfection from the bullpen. How do you deal with the pressure of being a reliever, knowing that one small mistake in any given game could very well cause that outing to be viewed as a failure?

Vic: Well, viewing my success at the end of a season is a great way [to keep things in perspective]. We aren’t perfect and I understand that is often forgotten, but my plan is to be the best at what I do, and that is coming in for an inning or possibly two and putting a zero up in any way I can. But I attack each outing, which takes all the pressure away. I am always going to be the aggressor, which will make for far more success than failure.

Tommy: Right now, you are viewed as a potential setup man. But the medical status of the team’s current closer, Bobby Parnell, is a bit uncertain right now. Do you feel you can handle closing if you are called upon to pitch in the 9th inning? Is it any different than pitching in the 8th inning?

Vic: Oh, well first, we need Bobby! But like the end of last year, if I get the opportunity to close some games, I’ll be ready. I’ve been practicing for 2 1/2 years now in that position. (Laugh.) But as far as the difference between the 8th and 9th, there is a difference. All six outs are essential but the game ends after the ninth. No more stress on me than in the 7th or 8th but it is different. I’d be lying if I said that night [I earned my first save] in Cincy wasn’t different than all the 8th inning appearances I had. (Laugh.)

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Tommy: Pitcher Safety has been a hot topic lately. Do you ever have any fear when you are out there on the mound? If so, how do you deal with it? Would you consider wearing a “pitching helmet”?

Vic: There is no place in my mind or heart for fear. I’m the predator, so fear doesn’t enter my thoughts. And the helmet pad or whatever it is they have developed… no… I probably wouldn’t wear one unless they make it a rule.

Tommy: What are your personal goals for this coming season? Any specific benchmarks, statistical or otherwise?

Vic: I want to help bring this organization back to October. That’s my goal. See, I find this next statement to be absolute: When we as individuals are focused on the whole, your stats and success will be great. It’s when you focus on you, that’s when things go up and down.

Tommy: Millions of kids dream of becoming a Major League Baseball player. Very few actually get the chance. What advice do you have for young athletes?

Vic: Words of negativity and bad situations only become influential IF you let them. We have control over how we either accept or reject the words of people. Stay true to your beliefs and continue to dream. You must dream to reach the unfathomable.

Tommy: What has it been like living in New York City? What has been your favorite part of the city life?

Vic: Greatest city in the world!! I love it here, which might seem odd setting as I’m from Amarillo, Texas. Which is the exact opposite. (Laugh.) Outside of the food and playing, I love riding the train!

Tommy: The Mets have a lot of young power pitchers in their organization. As a member of that group, the group that is being considered a big part of the team’s future, do you feel any added pressure? Or are you just having fun with it?

Vic: I’m having a blast, plain and simple. This is the best experience of my life and to be a part of it is an unbelievable blessing.

Tommy: The team didn’t make many additions to the bullpen this offseason. Do you think this helps create a sense of trust between the team and its young relievers (including yourself)?

Vic: Yes, it’s nice to see confidence. The outings I got after the trade showed me that the organization had big plans for me and trusted me with big games.

Tommy: New seasons bring new hope. Every year, a couple teams coming off of disappointing seasons come out of nowhere and win a ton of games. Last year, the Red Sox, who won it all, where one of those teams. What should us Mets fans be most excited about this year? What are you most excited about? Do you think the Mets have what it takes to be one of those teams in 2014?

Vic: As fans, coming to the beautiful stadium to support a young energized team that has fire and passion to win. Being a part of that was what I looked forward to each day. We won some close games at the end and didn’t give in, which is a mentality we have. This season we expect to be in the postseason and compete at a high level.

Our thanks to Victor for taking the time to answer some questions for us. This exciting, young prospect comes across as very confident and is obviously pumped and ready for his first full season .What are your thoughts on what he had to say, and what are you expecting from him and the rest of the Mets Bullpen this season? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Photo Credits: Steve Mitchell, USA Today

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MMO Contest: Win A Vintage 1986 Mets Autographed Photo! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mmo-contest-win-a-vintage-1986-mets-autographed-tonight.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mmo-contest-win-a-vintage-1986-mets-autographed-tonight.html/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 02:48:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=147550 five towns banner

We love our readers and we love making our readers happy.

While we can’t give out a championship, we can give out some autographed photos of players from our 1986 World Champion New York Mets!

Starting Friday, February 15th – for four consecutive Fridays, our friends at 5 Towns Mini Golf and Batting Range in Lawrence, NY will be giving away an 8×10 photo signed by one of our 1986 Mets to one of our lucky readers.

MMO CONTEST DETAILS

Two autographed vintage Howard Johnson photos and two vintage Tim Teufel autographed photos are up for grabs!

You know you want it. So how are you going to get it? It’s super simple…

1. Follow them on Twitter – @5TbatNgolf

2. Tweet or RT – Hey @5TBatNgolf & @bigmetsfan1 – I want that signed Mets photo! #MMOGiveaways

You’ll be entered and every Friday we’ll give away a photo to a lucky winner, courtesy of 5 Towns! Enter every week!

Don’t forget to include the #MMOGiveaways hashtag so we can keep track…

Week 1 Winner – @joychica

Week 2 Winner – @kenergized

Week 3 Winner – @Dibrizzi

Weed 4 Winner – @wwoodard

 

CHECK ‘EM OUT: IT’S HOJO AND TEUFEL!

1986 photos

We want to thank our friends at Five Towns for their generosity and also all of our readers for your incredible support.

Good luck to all of you and may the odds be ever in your favor. :-)

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MMO Fan Shot: What Would Mets Look Like With A $120 Million Payroll? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mmo-fan-shot-what-would-mets-look-like-with-a-120-million-payroll.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mmo-fan-shot-what-would-mets-look-like-with-a-120-million-payroll.html/#comments Tue, 18 Feb 2014 12:37:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=148097 stephen drew

An MMO Fan Shot by Chuck Banker

What would the Mets look like if we spent $120 million in 2014?

Okay, so we made some waves, singing Curtis Granderson, Chris Young and Bartolo Colon. But were they the right moves? Were they the best moves? What if we spent more?

I love the Granderson signing, very pumped about that… I am confident he will have a solid year and, as importantly, bring some winning experience to a team desperately missing that kind of leadership. I also like the Bartolo Colon signing, especially coming off a fabulous year and bringing more of those intangibles to a pitching staff that is sorely in need of some winning experience.

Chris Young is not a bad signing, but it just doesn’t make much sense as a one-year maneuver when there is nobody behind him. We could have done better here. I like him a lot as a 4th outfielder – just not at the price we paid.

We came into the offseason with multiple holes and after filling a couple of them, multiple questions still remain. We need to stop with this never-ending “building towards next year” philosophy that has us moving the goalposts each new season.

So, what could we have done? And is it too late?

cruz feat

As I said earlier, Granderson and Colon were solid moves, and they will be worthy additions. But we could have signed Nelson Cruz for our other outfield spot at the same price as Curtis, but for three years at $15MM per instead of four. By the way, it’s not too late – - I know we have Chris Young, but he is just a better version of Eric Young only a lot more costly.

We could have had Grant Balfour ( 2 years at $7MM per) examined the day after the Orioles changed their mind, but we sat around and waited until it was too late - a common ailment of ours.

We could have signed Stephen Drew (3 years at $11 per) – - I don’t understand all the noise. He is there waiting for us and has been for months. Again, we show no love to a major upgrade on the field, at the plate, and in the clubhouse.

The other obvious issue remains first base, and we have nothing but multiple question marks with Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Josh Satin – - oy vay! We need a glove and bat here, a big bat, and two of these three guys have no business in the big leagues. Probably why all three logged time in Las Vegas,in 2013. So, the question we have all considered is whether Ike deserves that shot or whether he should be banished to the desert with Duda.

Given the circumstances, I would say our best play is to get Wilmer Flores into the first base battle. Let’s see how they do in spring training and play one or both.

However, if we would have increased payroll to a reasonable $120 million, our lineup could have been quite formidable in defense of our promising pitching.

Our starting pitching, even without Harvey, is pretty exciting with lots of young depth and upside. Balfour probably would have helped our bullpen considerably more than Farnsworth or Valverde, but given our young bullpen options I believe we will still be fine.

In my opinion, our current pitching coupled with the above lineup, challenges for the NL East division title and at the very least wins a wild card this season. How long has that been?

So, what do we do now? Is it too late?

I don’t think so. We clearly don’t have the guts to add Cruz, who would be a bonanza at today’s going rate, but we can keep our fingers crossed with CY knowing we have little behind him. Or, we stick CY in center instead of Lagares, and sign Cruz for a brand new outfield – - now that would be gutsy.

Either way, we need to recognize that we are in desperate need of a major league SS and that Tejada is not the answer if we want to win now. We have two choices - the simple answer is to sign Stephen Drew, or else we need to step up and make a trade for one of the young studs from Arizona, which will probably cost us Montero.

We are not as far away as you think. Let’s step up, make 2014 a playoff year, and become a perennial contender when Matt Harvey returns.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Chuck Banker. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MMO Exclusive: Pitching Prospect John Mincone Excited For 2014 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mmo-exclusive-chatting-with-native-nyer-and-pitching-prospect-john-mincone.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mmo-exclusive-chatting-with-native-nyer-and-pitching-prospect-john-mincone.html/#comments Wed, 12 Feb 2014 05:00:51 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=147749 mincone-pitch

John Mincone, a native New Yorker, grew up on Long Island in a town called Dix Hills which is roughly 31 miles east of Citi Field. Mincone, played High School baseball in his hometown at Half Hallow Hills East and when it came time for college, he decided to go out of state, but after a few injuries that delayed his progress, he transferred to Suffolk CC West to be closer to his home and family. In 2009, with Suffolk, he was the Region 15 Player of the Year, All-American First Team member and Winning Pitcher in the Jr. College World Series.

Growing up on the Island, Mincone was a die-hard Mets fan and can remember his days of rooting for the team that played less than a half hour from his home, but when it came time for him to be drafted, it wasn’t the hometown team that came calling.

Mincone was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 11th Round of the 2009 June Amateur draft and even though he was scouted by the Mets in High School and College, he landed with an organization that took him by surprise, “The Cubs kind of came out of nowhere. They were one of the teams that I didn’t have much contact with throughout the season.” Mincone continues, “At the same time, I was a 19 year old kid and I had a lot of growing up and maturing to do; so on some levels I’m glad I had a chance to work a lot of that stuff out before coming over to the Mets.”

Prior to Mincone living out his dream of playing in the Mets organization, his career took a detour for a few seasons.

In 2009, after signing with the Cubs, the lefty pitched in only three games in rookie ball in Arizona and went 2-0, with a 3.12 ERA, with 7 strike outs in 8.2 innings.

In 2010, he was promoted to Class A- and limited to 6 games, where he was 0-3, with a 4.18 ERA with 16 strike outs in 23.2 innings. On July 23, 2010, he tore the ACL and meniscus in his right knee, which required surgery and he missed the rest of the season.

The following March, Mincone was released by the Cubs which was something he didn’t expect, “Coming off of ACL/Meniscus reconstruction, I was rehabbing out at the teams facility in Arizona when I got the call from my dad that his cancer had come back and he would be undergoing chemo and radiation treatments again.” He continues, “After talking to player development, they agreed to let me continue my rehab back home so I could assist my mom with my younger brothers while my dad was going through all of this. I don’t know the exact reason why, but baseball is a business, and the day after I returned to Arizona and was cleared to play they handed me a ticket back home.”

In 2011, he signed with the Windy City Thunderbolts in the Independent league and in 6 games, he went 1-2, with a 4.61 ERA with 8 strike outs in 13.2 innings.

Even though his pro career took him through the Indy leagues, he never gave up on his dream, “Never. As hurt as I was about the release, I knew I still had plenty left in my arm, and just needed a chance to show teams,” shares Mincone.

Due to a decline in his father’s health, he returned home to care for his family and in August of 2011, he lost his father to cancer and his baseball career was put on hold.

In 2012, the Mets became a huge part of Mincone’s life when he needed it the most, “The Mets signed me at the absolute lowest point in my life, and to be honest, they helped me through it big time. Two weeks after my father passed away, a Mets scout that had been following me since I was 14, Larry Izzo, called me to wish my family and I his condolences.”

“He spent a lot of time with my dad around all my high school and college games. He asked how the knee and arm were doing and invited me to an open workout he was doing at a local school. When the Mets signed me, I knew how happy it would have made my dad, and I got the chance to tell my grandfather and see the look of joy on his face before his passing as well. It is just such a blessing to be part of an organization that has meant so much to my family.”

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That summer, Mincone was sent to Brooklyn to start his pro career with the team he grew up rooting for.

“It feels incredible. Growing up, going to Mets games with my parents and brothers; I always dreamed of playing in the blue and orange, in front of the greatest fans in the world in Queens,” says the lefty.

Who would not be excited, to not only root for your favorite team, but to actually get a chance to play the game you love in front of family and friends, is truly a dream come true.

“You know, it was always a dream for me.  Whenever I was a little kid playing in the backyard pretending to hit the World Series winning Grand Slam or striking out the last batter of the World Series, it was always as a Met.” Mincone continues, “I’m pretty sure the grand slam part is out the window now, but I still lay in bed some nights going over that last pitch scenario, and how great it would be to bring a World Series title back to Flushing.”

In his first season with Brooklyn in 2012, he pitched in a career high 20 games, was 2-0, with a 1.82 ERA, and 29 strike outs in 29.2 innings. A change of scenery is all he needed and what better way to boost his confidence then to do it in his own backyard. In 2013, he appeared in 14 games, was 2-1, with a 1.47 ERA with 15 strike outs in 18.1 innings.

“Brooklyn was incredible. Coming off of the personal hardships I had been facing, I couldn’t have imagined a better situation.  It seemed like every game I played, I had family or friends or old coaches there, and that includes on the road. I was able to go home after games if I wanted, or attend my little brothers baseball games, or golf matches.” The Native New Yorker continues, ”Sending me to Brooklyn might have saved my baseball career. I don’t know how I would have adapted if I was sent somewhere else at that point in my life.”

Now he gets to focus on a new year and enjoy another Spring Training with a new found outlook on his career, “Every morning in Spring Training when I get the chance to put on the Mets uniform, I always walk by a mirror and just look and think to myself how blessed I am, and how awesome of a feeling it is to be wearing this uniform.”

Enjoy the rest of the interview:

David – What have you done this off season to prepare you for 2014?

John - My weight has always been an issue. It has probably been a major contributor to a bunch of injuries I have sustained in the past.  Last year I arrived to Spring Training and weighed in at 231 lbs.  I set a goal out for myself to come back to St. Lucie this season below 210, which to me was like climbing Mt.Everest. I weighed in last week at 194 lbs, so this is the lightest I have been since I was 16. Coming off my elbow surgery, I knew it was critical for my career to lose this weight and lose the  ”lazy” and “injury prone” labels that have been attached to me over my whole career.

David – Is there a Mets coach that has helped you with your development?

John - Over the last two seasons I have gotten the chance to work with pretty much all the pitching coaches in the organization, and all have added little bits and pieces to me that have allowed me to have the success I have the last couple of seasons. I’d have to say though that Marc Valdes has helped me become a pitcher. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend the last two seasons in Brooklyn working with him, and he really has helped me fine tune everything about my pitches and mechanics, both physically and mentally. I can’t thank him enough for all the time and effort he has put into making me a better pitcher.

David – What are you looking forward to most in 2014?

John - Just being healthy again. I haven’t pitched without pain in my elbow for as long as I can remember. Last September I had surgery to have bone spurs and scar tissue removed from my elbow, and it feels fantastic. I’m really excited to get back on the mound and be able to let it loose again.

David – Is there a part of your game you feel you need to work on to be ready for the next level?

John - Yes, but it was kind of a part that went missing because of injury. Back in college, my fastball would sit in the 91-93 range, and flashed as high as 96. Since my knee surgery, and elbow problems, my velocity has decreased to where its sitting in the mid 80′s.  As tough as it is knowing I have more in the tank, it really taught me how to pitch. The last two seasons I couldn’t just sit on the mound and know I could blow fastballs by these guys. I did a complete overhaul of my mechanics and developed a sinker and change up to go along with the Fastball/Curveball I already had, and really focused on location and eliminating walks. I put in a lot of work this off season with my pitching coach back home, Kenny Henderson, to get my velocity back to where it used to be.  I’m hoping the combination of getting my velocity back and the new style of pitching I’ve adapted to the last couple of years really throws my game to the next level.

David – Are you ready to come to Florida for warm weather and baseball?

John - More than you will ever know. I am leaving today to fly out to California to spend Valentine’s day/weekend with my girlfriend, and then from there will be reporting down to PSL on the 17th. I can’t wait to get out of this cold and be able to go outside in shorts and a t-shirt and throw and relax again.

David- Being a Mets fan you have witnessed the highs and lows of the team, what are your predictions for this season?

John - The team is very young, especially on the pitching aspect. I’m not too sure what this season will bring, it’s always uncertain when dealing with young players. I will say, however, seeing the talent that I have seen in the minor league system we have, the team has a chance to be scary good within the next few years.

David – Which transaction that the Mets made this winter, excites you the most?

John - I love that we went out and signed Curtis Granderson. I think adding another big bat, and his leadership in the outfield, will be something that this team really needed.  I’ve always loved the way he handles himself on the field, and from what I have heard, he is a great guy to have in the clubhouse.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Okay John, my editor Joe D. had a few questions of his own:

Joe D. –  John, you always had the mindset and desire to be a starter, yet in your transition to the bullpen you delivered not just your best season ever, but one of the best in Brooklyn Cyclones franchise history. How in the world did that happen? Was it the Nathan’s hot dogs?

John - Ya know, it probably was. There is something magical about those hot dogs. Well, yes, I was always a starter growing up, through high school and college, but from a young age, I was always told that I had the mentality of a closer. Through little league, and even summer ball through high school, I had this thing where I would purposely walk the bases loaded with nobody out, just to strikeout the side.  Now that was not necessarily something my coaches loved. One of my long time travel ball coaches, Micah Thode, would always call me the human heart attack, saying I was going to give him one someday if I kept it up, but It was almost like I got bored on the mound and needed to put myself in a situation to bare down and focus. Because of that, my transition to the bullpen was a fairly easy one. I was now always in those situations where it was do-or-die. Those are the situations where I have always thrived on the mound.

Joe D.- What’s the difference between preparing to start a game as opposed to sitting in the bullpen and not knowing when the phone is going to ring. Is there a different kind of pressure to perform? 

John - I have actually grown to love preparing to come into the game as a relief pitcher. My biggest problem as a starter is that I had five days to think about what I was doing and to over think everything. As a relief pitcher, sometimes you have a few minutes to warm up, sometimes you have a few seconds. The game definitely picks up speed as it gets to the later innings, so the adrenaline rush I get coming out of the pen kind of takes over and allows me to just get on the mound and pitch without my head getting in the way.

Joe D. – I did some digging up on you, and I bet you didn’t know that you were born on the same day as Harry Potter. That’s right, you and the world’s most famous wizard, Daniel Radcliffe, share the same birthday. You’re going to be 25 in July, realistically, at what level do you want to finish the season and how are you going to make it happen?

John - I didn’t know that. Well it’d be nice if he would share some of his magic with me. I’ve kinda grown to realize that my expectations and what I hope for are not necessarily the same as what happens throughout the season. A lot of things have to happen in order to move up and down throughout the year. All I can focus on is staying healthy and to continue putting up the numbers I have been, wherever I’m playing. I have already adjusted to the fact that if I am to make it to the Major Leagues, chances are it will be without ever being listed as a “top prospect”, which is something that I like. It gives me more motivation.  But if I had to give an ideal scenario for this season, with how my arm and the rest of my body feels, I’d love to be able to pay a visit to my younger brother Stephen in college at some point this season. He is in his Junior year at Binghamton University, so whether its before school lets out in May, or when he comes back in August or September, I have made it a personal goal of mine to pitch myself into that level this season.

Thank you John for taking time out to share with the great Mets fans a part of your journey.  We all wish you well in your progress and development and will look forward to watching you pitch at Citi Field in the near future. Let’s Go Mets!

A Message from John Mincone to the Mets fans:

I just want to thank everyone who has reached out to me on Twitter. You all have really made me feel at home in the organization. A lot of other teams fans would not take their time out to interact and support minor leaguers, but not you guys.  I haven’t witnessed a fan base like this anywhere else in baseball. You guys are truly the best fans in the world, thank you!

(Photo Credit: Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com and Brooklyn Cyclones)

Presented By Diehards

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