Mets Merized Online » MMO Fan Shot http://metsmerizedonline.com Mon, 05 Dec 2016 21:21:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.16 MMO Fan Shot: Right-Handed Platoon Options Mets Should Consider http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/mmo-fan-shot-right-handed-platoon-options-mets-should-consider.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/mmo-fan-shot-right-handed-platoon-options-mets-should-consider.html/#comments Fri, 04 Nov 2016 17:00:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=225826 yoenis-cespedes-550

An MMO Fan Shot by Travis (T Boogy)

Believe it or not, money may be an issue this off-season for the Mets. Yes, sarcasm. Seriously, though, if Yoenis Cespedes re-signs then there will not be much money to go around for other free agents given that several young Mets are due for substantial raises in arbitration. But, we all want Cespedes to stay because of the impact he has on the lineup.

Even if Cespedes leaves it’s possible that money may not be so abundant. It’s possible Neil Walker gets and accepts a Qualifying Offer, or signs a long-term contract with the Mets. Additionally, Sandy Alderson may have to spend more than expected to beef up the bullpen with Familia’s uncertainty. I’m actually hoping the rest of the teams over-bid for Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen and that Sandy makes a run at Mark Melancon instead. He is every bit as good as his high-strikeout, flashier counterparts but doesn’t get the attention, and hopefully not as much money. But, that’s for another article.

For now, I’d like to look at the scenario if Cespedes leaves. Assuming Sandy doesn’t want to go after Jose Bautista, Mark Trumbo, Ian Desmond, or Dexter Fowler, then he may want to rely on the current crop of Met outfielders. The problem is that 4 of the top 5 remaining are LHB and without a RHB the Mets would be vulnerable to left-handed starters. I love Juan Lagares but he’s having trouble staying on the field and, when he is healthy, he’s having trouble being consistent.  In addition, it would be great if the Mets had a RHB who could play first base also since Duda may need a platoon partner. That would free up to Flores to play elsewhere if needed.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees

Here are some options for right-handed batters that have the ability to play outfield and first base as platoon options:

Steve Pearce: Free Agent; .852 OPS against lefties (1.028 last year). He has long been sought after for his versatility and favorable splits. He plays against every lefty starter but also is solid enough to earn some starts against some righties.

Sean Rodriguez: Free Agent; .755 OPS against lefties (.934 last year). Had a huge year last year and the Pirates will likely want to keep him, especially if they consider trading McCutchen. He has tremendous defensive versatility, with experience last year at every position except for pitcher and catcher. After a disappointing year in 2015, he re-signed with the Pirates for $2.5 million. He won’t be that cheap this off-season.

Scott Van Slyke: Two years left of control (estimated $1.3 million in arbitration); .845 OPS against lefties (.739 last year). Many fans were clamoring to trade for him after his solid 2014 season but injuries and inconsistencies have slowed him down. Last year he battled back and wrist injuries and only played in 52 games. If he’s healthy, then his versatility and bat against lefties are exactly what the Mets will need.

Danny Valencia: One year left of control (estimated $5.3 million in arbitration); .873 OPS against lefties (.924 last year). Billy Beane doesn’t seem to love this guy despite his solid production since coming to Oakland. A’s prospect Ryon Healy impressed in his debut this past season and appears to have third base locked down. Ditto for left field where Khris Davis had a huge year. He was shopped at the trade deadline and likely will be shopped again this off-season.

There is a low probability of prying a Tyler White or David Freese away from their clubs. I thought about Mark Reynolds, who is a free agent, but last year he had reverse splits (although his career splits are fairly even).

One thing is for sure, Met fans don’t want to see anymore Eric Campbell. They also don’t want a retread like John Mayberry, Casey McGehee, or Chris Johnson.

A player of interest: Chris Colabello. I know, I know, his big 2015 season was likely due to steroids and he flamed out last year after returning from suspension. But, if the Jays non-tender him then he likely will come cheap and may be worth a $1 million risk.

Lots of scenarios and variables out there. Let me know what you think. Did I miss anyone? Any of these guys appeal to you?

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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader Travis (T Boogy). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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 Fan Shot: Let’s Make Some Magic! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/mmo-fan-shot-lets-make-some-magic.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/mmo-fan-shot-lets-make-some-magic.html/#comments Wed, 05 Oct 2016 20:06:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=224480 wright homer

An MMO Fan Shot by Lisa P.

When the 2016 season began, I was sure we would go far into the postseason, and thought it was probable we would win the World Series. I figured it would be smooth sailing and that we’d probably clinch the NL East sometime in the middle of September. I couldn’t imagine there would be much of a pennant race because we easily found ourselves winning the NL East last season and we made it all the way to November. And after all, we did resign Yoenis Cespedes.

However, beginning in April, our team was plagued with injury after injury. Travis d’Arnaud, Wilmer Flores, Asdrubal Cabrera and Juan Lagares all missed playing time on and off. Worse yet, Matt Harvey was not himself and eventually required surgery, Zack Wheeler never returned like everyone expected, Michael Conforto struggled terribly, and Lucas Duda missed nearly the entire season.

wilmer flores jose reyes

On June 25th, the Mets made one of the smartest moves of the season when they signed Jose Reyes in what many saw as a controversial decision. However, the move immediately paid big dividends as Jose was rejuvenated and added some energy to the team. He was finally home where he belonged, and his infield versatility allowed him to fill gaps all over the field initially before finally settling in at third base to replace his injured buddy, David Wright.

As the season progressed we were able to patch up some holes with the additions of James Loney and of course Kelly Johnson, who returned better than ever.

However, our rotation of aces was struggling. Jacob deGrom had several uncharacteristically tough starts while Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard each were diagnosed with bone spurs. Thankfully, Bartolo Colon was better than could be expected from a 43-year old, and he became our most reliable starter for a while.

I can’t say I ever gave up hope, because after all – Ya Gotta Believe. I would be lying though, if I didn’t admit that I was pretty scared in the middle of August. The NL East had slipped away and the Wild Card race seemed nearly out of reach, not because 5.5 games are impossible to make up, but because our team seemed to be losing ground, falling to two games below .500, any it felt like the losses were quickly mounting.

asdrubal-cabrera

Thankfully, things began to turn around. Reyes, Yo, and Asdrubal all returned from the DL and they each hit the ground running, especially Cabrera who was on fire. Wilmer was also carrying a lot of the offense and crushing left-handed pitching like nobody’s business. Things were looking up.

Our ailing rotation was patched up by a pair of rookies in Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman who performed in such a way that is nothing short of miraculous. And here we are in the postseason.

Tonight’s the night! We’ll find out if the Mets or the Giants will advance to play the Chicago Cubs in the NL Division Series.

Thor gets the nod and he’s hit his stride at the perfect time. We hit Madison Bumgarner really well when we faced him this summer, so that is good news. We have Yo, we have Reyes, and we have Familia with his newly found confidence.

yoenis-cespedes-jay-bruce

While I am deeply saddened about the injury of Wilmer, we do have Bruce who has suddenly found his groove and is red hot. I always hoped that if we started Bruce long enough, this would happen. It did, just at the perfect time. I’m also thrilled with the way Rene Rivera turned out. He seems to be the best option for Wednesday night.

I just know that if we survive tonight, we will go far. The Nats could stand in our way say all the experts, but I say maybe not.  Once you make the playoffs, you’ve got as good a chance as any to win the World Series. Especially when your team is the Amazin’ Mets. I don’t want to wait for 2017. Why should I? We have the championship in our sights now. I know we can do it and I’m pretty sure we will. So let’s get this done! Let’s Go Mets!

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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader Lisa Pecaro. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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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Can The Mets Win The World Series Against All Odds? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/can-the-mets-win-the-world-series-against-all-odds.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/can-the-mets-win-the-world-series-against-all-odds.html/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 19:39:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=224142 jay-bruce

Slugger Jay Bruce picked a perfect time to be swinging a hot bat again. The all-star outfielder has been mired in an offensive slump since being acquired from the Reds at the trade deadline. But that has changed in the last few weeks. Bruce has been on a tear as we inch closer to securing a National League wild card spot.

“Since the day I got here, that’s all I wanted to do,” Bruce told the New York Daily News. “I didn’t want to be anyone that I wasn’t. I just wanted to come in here and play good baseball, be a professional and contribute to the team.”

Of late, the entire team has been contributing as we hold a one-game lead over of the San Francisco Giants for the first wild-card spot. It looks more and more like it will be us and Giants squaring off in a win-or-go-home wild-card matchup.

While we’re getting production at the plate, Terry Collins is focusing on keeping what’s left of our depleted starting rotation fresh as we look to make another deep playoff run.

We were dealt a major blow in July when right-hander Matt Harvey was shut down with thoracic outlet syndrome, which required season-ending surgery to fix. Jacob DeGrom also required elbow-surgery, which requires at least three months’ recovery. Throw Steven Matz’s name into the group of injured starters, the southpaw also forced into a season-ending shoulder surgery.

noah syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard, who has emerged as our ace, will be the likely starting pitcher for a wild-card game. But after that, things get somewhat murky on the mound. Veteran Bartolo Colon is now the clear No. 2, followed by rookies Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman.

Despite our rotation being hit hard by the injury bug, online sportsbook Bet365.com still gives us a +1800 odds to win the World Series. The Giants — our likely wild-card opponent — are +3000 underdogs to win it all.

We’ve squared off with the Giants seven times during the 2016 campaign, with New York holding a 4-3 advantage heading into the post-season. In our last meeting in August, likely wild-card game starting pitcher Syndergaard earned the win on the mound in a 2-0 win over the Giants. While it would be a close match, we have proven they we outduel the Giants — especially if comes down to one game.

Let’s not count out the St. Louis Cardinals — another team we’ve had some success against in 2016. The Cards are also in the race, sitting just one game behind the Giants for the second wild-card spot.

In six meetings between the us and Cardinals this season, Collins’ club owns a 3-3 record. But we’ve produced 27 runs in those games.

It’s no secret that we will need to rely on power hitters Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes if we’re  going to repeat the same magic from a year ago. Cespedes has been in and out of the lineup all season long, but has still managed to produce remarkable offensive numbers.

The center fielder leads the team in home runs (31), RBIs (85) and batting average (.283). Veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson has also been a breath of fresh air as the 35-year-old recorded his fourth 30-plus home run season. Granderson will also be called upon in the team’s wild card game to come up with clutch hits and maybe even a key bunt to help us advance to the NLDS.

Anything is possible once you get past the wild-card game. Vegas oddsmakers place the us at 10/1 to win the National League Pennant behind the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers.

A final three-game series against the lowly Philadelphia Phillies is exactly what the doctor ordered, as we can clinch a wild card berth this weekend.

A series sweep heading into the playoffs would inject us with an extra dose of confidence, which is always a good thing when coming up against the best clubs in the major leagues. If you believe in us, place a bet on the staggering +1800 to win the World Series and watch what we’re made of in October.

Have a look at the Mets schedule, find out the best betting lines for every Mets game and heed some tips on how to make more money from your New York bets.

homer the dog

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MMO Fan Shot: Once Upon A Mets Night Dreary http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mmo-fan-shot-once-upon-a-mets-night-dreary.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mmo-fan-shot-once-upon-a-mets-night-dreary.html/#comments Mon, 12 Sep 2016 15:34:43 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=222727 degrom syndergaard

An MMO Fan Shot by Wall Flores

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of indignant lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a clicking,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at opportunity’s door.
‘Tis some fluke streak,” I muttered, “tapping at opportunity’s door —
Only this, and nothing more.

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak Summer,
And each separate dying member wrought its ghost upon the Citi floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; — vainly I had sought sorrow
From the 2016 books surcease of misery and sorrow — sorrow for the lost playoff door
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name playoff door —
Reachless here for evermore.

And then the silken mad uncertain rustling of each win ran certain
Thrilled me — filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
Tis some false premonition entreating entrance at my wild card playoff door —
Some late premonition entreating entrance at my wild card playoff door; —
This it is, and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
Mr,” said I, “or Misses Met, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was forlorn, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at opportunity’s door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”— here I opened wide the door; —
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into the 8th inning I stood there peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Playoff Door?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Playoff Door!” —
Merely this, and nothing more.

curtis granderson asdrubal cabrera

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul saw Grandy Burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my Acela lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this hot streak I explore —
Let my heart be still a moment and this hot streak explore; —
‘Tis only a win, Only a win and nothing more.”

Open here I flung the remote, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a parakeet, a bird of the saintly days of 1984;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my playoff door —
Perched upon a bust of Tut just above my playoff door —
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this mighty bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
Though thy hopes be torn and broken, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient haven wandering from the Nightly Score —
Tell me what thy lordly name is on this season’s grim tour!”
Quoth the Parakeet, “Mets in 4.”

Much I marveled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning— little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above Opportunity’s Door —
A Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above discovered his Lost Playoff Door,
With such name as “Mets in 4.”

edgar_allan_poe_by_rollerblademan100

Author’s Note: I do hope you enjoyed my adaptation above. A large credit goes to the great Edgar Allen Poe, as this version has drawn numerous excerpts from his acclaimed literary work. Overall, I thought it was a tremendous commentary into the psyche of the troubled and haunted Mets fan. Nonetheless, I remain confident, as I have throughout this season, that the parakeet that has returned will perch itself upon our playoff door. This will lend us to our ultimate resolution: Mets in 4.  :)  Let’s Go Mets!!!

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This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader and upstanding member of our community Wall Flores. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met 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 Fan Shot: Yes, These Mets Are Making the Playoffs http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mmo-fan-shot-yes-these-mets-are-making-the-playoffs.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mmo-fan-shot-yes-these-mets-are-making-the-playoffs.html/#comments Fri, 09 Sep 2016 13:31:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=222486 reyes-rivera

An MMO Fan Shot by Eric Heller

It’s nine days into September, and the Mets are in sole possession of the second wild card with just 22 games to go. You can’t look soberly at this situation without coming to the conclusion that as long as they stay healthy (I can already hear the keyboards chattering at that one), we are probably going to the playoffs. This team. The 2016 Mets. It’s ridiculous.

I’m not complaining.  Some of my friends think they should give up the season, shut down the arms, get them fresh and ready to compete for real next year. I think that’s nuts. I’ve been living and dying (mostly dying) with this team for 41 years. The playoffs are not Christmas, they don’t show up on a schedule.  When a miracle comes along and offers you a ride, you need to jump on board.

People, it’s time to jump.

This team could be a miracle team. They have pitching and power. It’s not impossible. It’s happened before, in fact plenty of times. Just consider our own history: The near-miracle ’73 Mets took their 82 wins to a Game 7. And we got taken out by a miracle ourselves in 2006, those Cardinals and their .516 season and nasty third strikes.

Well enough about that.

On paper we’ve got tons of holes. Our disabled list looks like a pretty decent contender. I bet we lead the league in players-out-for-the-year. This has been the most unpleasant, virtually unwatchable season I can remember. Not just because they’ve played badly, but because the expectations were so high. They can’t buy a clutch hit, they can’t borrow a productive out. Move a runner over? Go first to third? Hit a freakin’ fly ball with someone on third?

How many moments stand out as “magical” or even memorable? They do almost nothing that a winning team does. You can’t sit back and admire the great play by great players, because by almost every statistical offensive measurement, they stink. Imagine what the Year in Review video would look like if they had to make it today. You’d fall asleep after ten minutes.

De Aza Cespedes

But here’s the thing: Fortune comes in waves. I know that’s not scientific, and there’s no sabermetric for luck, but you can’t be a baseball fan without having witnessed the uncanny ways that luck comes and goes. It’s been gone for months. It doesn’t stay away forever. It’s very possible we’ve been saving it all up for the end.

So maybe a team of destiny is forming right before our eyes. Maybe these guys we’ve been suffering with all season will end up being names that we talk about for years.

OK, let’s put the luck factor aside. From a purely analytic view, this is not a bad team – on paper. We don’t make a lot of stupid errors. Outside of our lousy clutch hitting, we play pretty smart baseball. We have a very fine bullpen. If healthy, our starting staff is as good as it gets, and the young guys just up seem to have authentically good stuff, throwing hard with good movement and lots of poise.

We have Yoenis Cespedes and an increasingly comfortable-with-New-York Jay Bruce. Jose Reyes looks reborn at the plate, on the bases, in the field, and out of nowhere we have a lead-off hitter. Wilmer Flores might be finally emerging as the strong offensive player a lot of us hoped he’d be. We don’t blow late leads. We hit a ton of two-out, RISP line drives. Eventually, some are going to land. They’re starting to land already. They’ve played pretty good baseball for a few weeks now. And they’re about to play mostly bad teams for the rest of the year.

Maybe I’m suffering from irrational exuberance. “Fan” is short for fanatic after all. And if they actually do make the postseason, they’ll have a buzz saw waiting for them, including one called the Chicago Cubs. But once you’re in, anything can happen. Who really thought last May or June that team would end up in the World Series?

At the very least, the next few weeks could be a lot of fun. Time to enjoy the ride. So Let’s Go Mets.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Eric Heller. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily.

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MMO Fan Shot: The Yo Show Turns 162 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mmo-fan-shot-the-yo-show-turns-162.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mmo-fan-shot-the-yo-show-turns-162.html/#comments Sat, 03 Sep 2016 16:00:23 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=222036 yoenis cespedes walkoff

An MMO Fan Shot by Ivan Disla

On Wednesday night, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes played his 162nd game for the New York Mets.

Cespedes was acquired from the Detroit Tigers in last year’s trading deadline in exchange for minor league right-handers Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.

This trade only materialized after the Padres, Reds, and Rockies decided they were not going to trade away Justin Upton, Jay Bruce, and Carlos Gonzalez, respectively.

AND…

After tears were shed on the field by a certain shortstop who must remain unnamed.

Cespedes was received by Mets fans as the savior to a team that desperately needed a boost, and boy, did he live up to the part. After joining the Amazin’s, Yo went on to slash .287/.337/.604 with 17 homeruns, 44 driven in, and 39 runs. His memorable run had fans of the game talking about a possible Most Valuable Player award, though his lack of at-bats in the league would most definitely disqualify him from serious contention.

Not surprisingly, the MVP award did not come, but there is no question as to who was the MVP for the boys in blue.

The acquisition of La Potencia, which is Spanish for The Power, proved to be one of the biggest moves in Mets history. Not only did he help the Mets catch the Nationals in the standings a few days after he was acquired, he essentially buried the Nats’ playoffs hopes.

The Mets went into Washington with a four game lead, a seven game turnaround from the pre-Cespedes era. On Sept. 9th, after winning the first two games of the series, Cespedes came up in the top of the 8th in a tied game. Drew Storen, who had just entered the game, hanged a slider. then Yo did this:

 

The Mets won the game, and left the nation’s capital with a commanding seven game lead. They never looked back, making it all the way to the World Series.

Though the Mets couldn’t finish the job in 2015, their Yo-powered run to the Fall Classic sent the city into a craze. Everyone was pulling for the blue and orange.

The Mets shocked everyone with their impressive World Series run. Then they shocked everyone by resigning Cespedes to a 3 year, $75 million. The front-loaded deal, which had an opt-out after the first season, guaranteed Cespedes $30.5 million if he decided to exercise that clause. Essentially, barring a horrible season, Cespedes was going to be playing  on a one year deal.

In his second season, Yo has continued to rake to a .298/.369./.572 line. He’s hit 27 home runs, driven in 68, and scored 57 runs. Though the lineup has struggled with injuries and he has been pitched around, Yo has still been able to produce solid numbers.

In his 162 games since joining the Mets, Cespedes has hit at a clip of .294/.358/.584 with 34 doubles, five triples, 44 home runs, 112 RBI, and 96 runs scored.

Those numbers could have given Bryce Harper a run for his money, especially since the Mets won the division. For you sabermetric-heads, his WAR has been 5.2 which, per FanGraphs, puts him at superstar level.

Last month, Yo announced he’s not going to opt out, much to the delight of Mets fans, although we’ll see about that. It is clear he loves playing in the New York limelight, and it is also clear that Mets fans love him.

Maybe Cespedes will not post the same numbers over the next 162 games, but what he has done over his first 162 games will stay with Mets fans for a very long time.

Here’s to many more bat flips in blue and orange.

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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader Ivan Disla who you could follow on Twitter at @AmazingMetsWPHave something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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 Fan Shot: The 2017 Mets “Walk Year” Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mmo-fan-shot-the-2017-mets-walk-year-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mmo-fan-shot-the-2017-mets-walk-year-season.html/#comments Fri, 02 Sep 2016 15:04:24 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=221951 mets collage

An MMO Fan Shot by The Metssiah

Neil Walker’s 2016 season perfectly highlights the potential risks/rewards associated with contract years for players. In his 2016 “walk year”, Neil Walker was posting the best numbers of his professional career. His .282/.347/.476 slash line represents his highest ever. His 23 long balls tied a career high. Neil was stepping up his performance when it mattered most. But the news that he will have season-ending back surgery to fix a herniated disk is a reminder of how quickly the potential financial rewards for on-field performance can evaporate once injury red flags are thrown into the mix.

The walk year talk is especially relevant for the Mets when you consider their prospective roster for the 2017 season. If the Mets pick up all contract options and tender deals to their arbitration eligible players for 2017, as currently constructed, the Mets will have Jay BruceAsdrubal CabreraLucas Duda,Curtis GrandersonAddison Reed, and Jose Reyes playing for a contract. Duda and Reed are playing for their first big payday. Reed has a chance to score a 3-4 year deal as a closer if he has a big 2017. Duda will need to return to his slugging form to show the masses that his back woes are a temporary ailment. Bruce will be a free agent for the first time.

After his poor 2016, Grandy’s 2017 play may be the difference between him scoring one more lucrative 2 or 3 year deal or him fighting to get one year contracts each season until he retires. Cabrera is a veteran in a similar spot as Grandy. The Mets have a 2018 option on Cabrera, but if he struggles they’ll just buy it out. For Jose Reyes, the truth is his off the field actions almost got him blacklisted from the sport. But if his current 2016 performance carries over into 2017 and he has a big year, he’ll probably receive another big payday from some club (not likely to be the Mets but who knows).

Despite his injury, it’s hard to ignore the uptick in Neil Walk-Year’s 2016 performance. There’s no doubt that the Mets will be hoping for similar increases in production in 2017 from all the aforementioned players. The contract year phenomenon is consistently discussed and debated in the context of free agency in sports. There’s been plenty of studies conducted regarding the contract year phenomenon that indicate the impact on player performance is somewhere between over hyped to non-existent. Some research shows that the overall impact to batting stats in the contract year are negligible while the year after the contract is signed batting stats historically diminish.

There’s also plenty of examples of players raising their game with a payday on the horizon. Nelson Cruz did that in 2014 when he signed a one year 8 million dollar deal with the Orioles after his steroid suspension. He went on to hit 40 homers, drive in 108 RBIs and slash .271/.333/.525. Then he scored a 4 year, $57 million dollar deal with Seattle. In 2011 Matt Kemp, in the final year of a 2 year deal, went on to finish second in the MVP voting. He hit 39 home runs, drove in 126 RBIs and stole 40 bases. He slashed .324/.399/.586. He posted career highs across the board. Then he scored a 8 year, $160 million dollar extension.

There have also been plenty of Mets with walk year success. In 2009 and 2010 Carlos Beltran played 81 and 64 games respectively. He was plagued by injuries. Then in 2011 before he hit free agency he played 142 games and slashed .300/.385/.525. He hit 22 homers, drove in 84 runs and was traded by the Mets at the deadline for Zack Wheeler. Then he scored a 2 year, $26 million dollar deal with the Cardinals. Beltran is no stranger to the walk year explosion (see 2004: 38 homers, 104 RBIs, Mr. October run and resulting 7 year, $119 million dollar contract). Hell Beltran is having an incredible walk year right now at 39 years old.

Jose Reyes, Daniel Murphy, and Yoenis Cespedes are some other examples. Jose won the batting title in 2011 right before he signed his mega-deal (6 years, $106 million) with the Marlins. We all know Daniel Murphy is having an MVP season right now, but last season was his walk year with the Mets. And until this season, his 2015 regular season combined with his postseason home run barrage represented the best stretch of baseball in his career. Yoenis Cespedes for two years in a row now has put up big time walk year numbers (assuming he opts-out of his 3-year deal at the end of the season). In his last 162 games he’s hit 46 home runs, driven in 115 RBIs and slashed .293/.354/.592.

Sure for every walk year success story there’s probably a corresponding bust (see Denard Span 2015 injury-fest, Ian Desmond 2015 performance drop-off, and Carlos Gomez 2016 poor season). But I’ll take the extra player motivation any day of the week. The contract year certainly doesn’t guarantee anything, but as Sparky Anderson once said “Just give me 25 guys on the last year of their contracts; I’ll win a pennant every year.” Based on the current roster construction it would appear that Sandy Alderson feels the same way.

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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader The Metssiah who you could follow at @TheMetssiahHave something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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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The Devil and Daniel Murphy http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/the-devil-and-daniel-murphy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/the-devil-and-daniel-murphy.html/#comments Fri, 12 Aug 2016 15:00:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=220296 DANIEL MURPHY

MMO Fan Shot by Andy Love, Originally Published on Fair and Unbalanced

Daniel Murphy‘s historic playoff performance last year carried the Mets into the World Series.   In the Mets’ 4-game sweep of the Cubs in the League Championship Series, Murph batted over .500, with four home runs, a double, six runs batted in and six runs scored. Including the final two games of the Division Series, Murphy homered in six straight post-season games.

Murphy had been a pretty productive hitter for the previous few seasons — second in the league in hits in 2013 and ninth in 2014, and even made an All Star appearance in 2014.  But he would often make baffling mistakes in the field and on the basepaths.  I believe it was Mets’ announcer Keith Hernandez who once said that Murphy believes he is invisible when he runs the bases.

Murphy was bound to come back to earth after his ridiculously hot playoff run and, unfortunately for the Mets, he crashed a little too early.

In Game #4 of the World Series, the Mets were on the verge of tying the series up at two games apiece, leading 3-2 with two on and one out in the 8th inning.  Closer Jeurys Familia came in and coaxed an easy grounder from Eric Hosmer, but Murphy, rather than scooping it up and throwing to first for an easy out, charged the ball and missed it completely, allowing the tying run to score.  As he later said, “I tried to one-hand it, and it probably deserves to be two-handed.”

Probably.  Fangraphs found this to be one of the most costly fielding errors in World Series history — right up their with Bill Buckner.  On the next play, Mike Moustakas hit a ground ball beyond Murphy’s limited range, for the go-ahead run.  The Mets lost the game and the Royals went up 3 games to 1.

Murphy also made a costly error in Game #5, and finished the series with a .150 batting average (3 for 20 with no extra base hits).

Of course, Murphy wasn’t the only Met to play poorly in the World Series — there was plenty of blame to go around.  But in analyzing Murphy’s body of work – his seven year career and 2015 regular season (.281 batting average, 14 home runs, 73 RBI) — his NLCS performance seemed like an aberration and his World Series play — particularly his fielding gaffes — seemed more Murphy like.  Comparable players identified by baseball-reference.com were Rance Mulliniks and Martin Prado — not Rod Carew and Joe Morgan.

So, when the Mets declined to sign Murph as a free agent, and chose the more consistent and far better fielding Neil Walker, it appeared to be the right move.

Little did we know that Murphy made a deal with the devil.  The devout Christian sold his soul in return for an MVP-type year.  There is no better explanation.

daniel murphy 2

Eerily tracking the Broadway hit Damn Yankees, Murphy joined a Washington team against their New York rivals and has been transformed into a star.  Signed by Nationals, Murphy flirted with an other-worldly .400 batting average for much of the first part of the year and showed the kind of power that he displayed in the playoffs last year.  He is leading the National League in hitting (.346), and is third in RBI (82).  And he has absolutely crushed his former team — hitting six homers and knocking in 19 runs in 12 games.

But far worse, the devil appears to have thrown in for no extra charge, the complete and utter demise of the Damn Mets.  While Murphy’s Nationals are comfortably in first place, the Mets have imploded.  Their all-too-familiar mix of injuries, uninspired play and baffling managerial moves, has just culminated in a humiliating three-game sweep by the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Mets haven’t won back-to-back games since early July.  They can’t hit and they can’t run. David Wright‘s career is in doubt.  Matt Harvey looked haunted early in the year and then succumbed to a season-ending injury.  Two other great young pitchers — Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz — are plagued by bone spurs that appear to have hampered their effectiveness. Yoenis Cespedes could play as long as he has a caddy and a golf cart.  Other key players are aging fast and/or getting hurt.     Once promising youngsters seem utterly lost.  Manager Terry Collins‘ tenuous grasp on baseball strategy is slipping away.  The Mets have no chance of catching the Nats, and their wild card hopes are quickly vanishing.  In short, the season has gone to hell.

Last year’s run, despite a devastating World Series loss, was — in a word – amazing.  The Mets transformed what looked to be another depressing year of mediocrity into a joyful one filled with magical, unforgettable moments.  They were a fun, exciting team with a great core of young players, a fascinating collection of personalities and star power.

At the time, I wrote about how perhaps it was time to change the Mets narrative:

For Met fans, there is always a lingering sense that disappointment is not far off — that the Mets’ penny-wise owners will not do what it takes to keep the team competitive and that something unexpected but nevertheless devastating will undermine the team’s seemingly limitless future.

But, things feel different this time.  The Mets have a deep core of great young talent, savvy veterans, and apparently great chemistry.  They surely need to make a few changes and add some key new pieces this off season, but maybe, just maybe, this is the start of a new era.  Maybe it is time for a new narrative.  Not lovable losers or unlovable losers tempered by the occasional miracle, but a truly solid baseball team that doesn’t have to rely on magic to win.

I guess I was premature.  I didn’t take into account Murphy’s deal with the devil.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Andy Love of Fair and Unbalanced. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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 Fan Shot: Revisiting The Scott Kazmir Trade http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/mmo-fan-shot-revisiting-the-scott-kazmir-trade-2.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/mmo-fan-shot-revisiting-the-scott-kazmir-trade-2.html/#comments Sat, 30 Jul 2016 17:13:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=219051 scott kazmir mets

An MMO Fan Shot by Noah Rainwater

I don’t remember much about the summer of 2004. I vaguely remember turning 21 that June, taking an ill-advised trip to Atlantic City, and realizing that all casinos are not created equal. (Apparently you have to win twice at the Taj Majal, once at the table, and once again in the parking garage, successfully making it to your car without getting stabbed).

AC trips aside, I spent the majority of my summer life-guarding at a small apartment complex in Jersey. If that sounds boring to you, it’s because it was. Wake up at noon, open pool at one. Rescue children whose parents were too irresponsible to watch them. Unsuccessfully hit on mediocre chicks. Listen to Mike and the Mad Dog.

If my summer was a reality show, it would have been cancelled after the first episode.

Absolutely nothing of note happened over those three months. Nothing I can remember anyway. Except for one day. July 30. The day we traded Scott Kazmir.

A little after 4:00 P.M. a somber Eddie Coleman came on WFAN to announce that the Mets had acquired Kris Benson AND Victor Zambrano. Mad Dog, working alone that day, then asked, “So what’d the Mets give up Eddie?” “Well, they gave up a lot Chris.”Before going to work that morning I read a blurb in the Star Ledger about how the Mets were interested in Victor Zambrano. But that the deal was unlikely because Zambrano was complaining of elbow soreness and the Devil Rays were asking for Scott Kazmir. This made me laugh. The Devil Rays were known for making ridiculous trade offers. No way. Not happening.

For the first ten minutes I talked myself into the deal. I knew a little bit about Zambrano, that he had a good K/9, but control issues. I also knew Benson was a former number one pick, and at one time a top pitching prospect. So I tried to get excited about the trade(s). Then Chris took his first caller.

“Honestly Chris, what’s the point of being a Mets fan?”

That’s when it sunk in. Despair. Then anger.

Wait, did we really just trade the Mets’ top pitching prospect  for Victor Zambrano?

Here’s eight thoughts on the deal.

scott kazmir rays

VALUE

Even if Scott Kazmir had blown out his arm, never pitched a day in the majors, and Zambrano won multiple CY Young awards, the trade still would have been a failure from a value standpoint. After the trade, Texas came out and said they would have considered trading Mark Teixeira in a Kazmir package. The Phillies mentioned that they would have parted with their slugging minor league first basemen, Ryan Howard, who was blocked behind Jim Thome at the time. Even if the reports were just heresay, there’s no denying the fact that on the day of the trade, July 30, 2004, Scott Kazmir was the top pitching prospect in baseball. A highly regarded, 20 year old lefty, with a high 90’s fastball and plus slider. He certainly could have brought back a lot more than a pitcher who was best known for leading the AL in walks, wild pitches, and hit batsmen. If Kazmir was worth a dollar, the Mets sold him for a nickel.

IMPULSE

When Texas came out and said they would have entertained trading Teixeira for Kazmir, there were two messages being sent. The previously mentioned point that Kazmir was worth a lot more than what the Mets got. And the second, and one that’s equally important, is that no one knew Kazmir was available. Which probably means that Kazmir wasn’t available, at least not until the Devil Rays asked for him. This is fine of course. The problem that occurs is, once the Mets internally decide that they are willing to trade him, they never stop and think, “Hey maybe we can get someone better than Victor Zambrano for Kazmir?” A month earlier, the front office viewed Kazmir as the teams future ace, and virtually untouchable. Then, after a better than expected record in July, they send him packing without even letting other teams know he was available? The trade reeks of an impulse buy. Like the time a 19 year old me spent two thousand dollars on a set of 18’ Lexani Rims, after putting a total of 15 minutes thought into the purchase.

Mom: “I thought you were saving that money to study abroad?”

Me: “Um……well…….Um……..Look how shiny they are!”

WHO’S IN CHARGE HERE?

Following the trade, rumors leaked that Jeff Wilpon, and not GM Jim Duquette, was in charge of roster decisions. Reports surfaced that Al Lieter hadn’t liked Kazmir, dating back to a spring training incident involving clubhouse music, and that Lieter and Tom Glavine were known to play golf with Jeff Wilpon. Were they an influence in trading Kazmir? And why was Rick Peterson, the teams pitching coach, allowed so much input regarding the trade? Did Peterson’s opinion trump Duquette’s? The question as to who was actually in charge became a big debate for the rest of the season. Only later would it be confirmed that the Mets had far too many voices making decisions about the roster. Or as Jim Duquette puts it in this 2006 New York Times article, “We had too many cooks in the kitchen, In that situation, if someone disagrees, he might not speak up. The loudest voices are the ones that get heard. It does become sort of like a mob mentality.”

MLB: FEB 17 Mets Spring Training

INCOMPETENCE AND DISTRUST

After the Kazmir trade there was a distrust between fans and ownership. And rightfully so. In the aftermath of the trade, a slew of rumors came out about the Mets and how they run their front office. Rumors the Mets denied. But as a fan, even the most optimistic, you couldn’t help but think that the people in charge of your favorite team were vastly incompetent. And to top it off, they were now lying about it. The whole thing came across like a bad corporate cover up. Even 12 years later, I still find myself doubting almost everything ownership says.

15 MINUTE RICK

Rick Peterson’s Met obituary is a short one. Six words to be exact. I’ll fix him in 15 minutes. When he retires from baseball, Peterson will be remembered for helping develop the big three of Mulder, Hudson, and Zito. Maybe people will also praise his many innovations in the study of pitching mechanics. But Met fans will most likely remember him for the influence he had in trading Kazmir for Zambrano. It’s not totally fair. The Mets could have said something like “Hey Rick, we’re gonna try to get Zambrano for you, but there’s no effing way we’re trading Kazmir for him.” Peterson never should have had the power to be so influential in the decision. But he was. And his arrogance, and subsequent failure to “fix” Zambrano, is what a lot of Mets fans will remember.

POOR VICTOR ZAMBRANO

I always felt kind of bad for Victor. It’s not like he was a free agent we gave big money to and didn’t perform (I’m looking at you, Jason Bay). I think he always knew who he was as a player. A fringe major league starter with control issues. It’s not like he told the Mets to make the deal. I can only imagine how the conversation went after the trade went through.

Rays Manager: Hey Vic, we just traded you to the Mets.

Zambrano: Oh… Did you get anything good back for me?

Rays Manager: Ha! Yeah we did… Scott Kazmir, only the best lefthanded pitching prospect in baseball! Don’t worry, no pressure Vic…

2007 COLLAPSE

Kazmir s big league career may have never lived up to the expectations we all had back in 2004. For one season however, it did. In 2007 he led the league in strikeouts and made the All-Star team. His final numbers: 206 IP, 3.48 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 239 K’s. Do the Mets collapse in 2007 if Kazmir is pitching every 5th day? It’s a fair question to ask.

PEDRO, CARLOS, AND OMAR

After the 2003 season, Omar Minaya was offered the GM job to share with Jim Duquette. They would be co-general managers and have equal power. Minaya declined the offer. After the embarrassment of the Kazmir trade and another losing season, Wilpon offered Minaya the full time gig in the fall of 2004. Telling Omar, “ We’ve become totally irrelevant.” The rest is Mets history. Omar convinces ownership that they must spend money to compete in the New York market. Taking almost the opposite approach of Jim Duquette and his “we won’t sign anyone to more than a three year contract” method that ended up costing us Vladimir Guerrero the previous offseason. The Mets went out and spent big on Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, and traded for highly priced first basemen Carlos Delgado. If Kazmir comes up to Shea in 2004, does he create enough buzz that Fred sticks with Duquette another season? Do we not then sign Pedro and Beltran?

It’s been a little over eight years since the Kazmir trade, and in that time the sting has mostly worn off. Scott Kazmir never won a Cy Young or a World Series. He never became Nolan Ryan or Dwight Gooden. Time, will undoubtedly diminish the significance of the trade. The incompetence of it eventually fading away behind the Mets’ more recent incompetence. In 20 years when a young fan reads about it, he will see only the career stats of both pitchers. Never truly knowing what a colossal blunder the trade was at the time. Even now, I still wonder how Tampa was able to pry Kazmir from the Mets? How could they have ripped us off so badly? It’s as if Jeff Wilpon stumbled into the wrong casino, and there in the parking deck were the Devil Rays, holding a knife, asking for his blue chip.

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This MMO Fan Shot was submitted by MMO reader Noah Rainwater. Have something you want to say about the Mets?  Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com.

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Featured Article: What is Brandon Nimmo? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/featured-article-what-is-brandon-nimmo.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/featured-article-what-is-brandon-nimmo.html/#comments Sat, 25 Jun 2016 17:08:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=215149 brandon nimmo

An MMO Fan Shot by Marc M. (Not4)

With Brandon Nimmo set to make his MLB debut with the Mets, here is an article we posted last week that is well worth reading.

As most fans know, Brandon Nimmo was the Mets’ first round pick (no.13, infamously 1 slot ahead of Jose Fernandez) in 2011.  When drafted, he was very raw having grown up in Wyoming, a state apparently without high school baseball.  Nimmo was therefore viewed as a bit of a project who was unlikely to be fast-tracked.

But, as we all know, once a 1st round pick gets on the fans’ radar, the proverbial clock starts ticking, patience gets short and expectations rise (often unrealistically), followed by so-called “prospect fatigue” from having heard about him for so long.  Inevitably, when a prospect fails to move quickly enough through the system, or their stats are not strong enough for some fans’ liking, these fans (who often do not even follow the minors) make pre-mature, definitive proclamations that the prospect is a “BUST”.  So it has been with Nimmo and countless other Mets’ prospects in recent years.

Since being drafted Nimmo has lost some of his speed, and gained some bulk, but still seems to have enough speed to continue to play solid, if unspectacular CF.  If he loses more speed either because of injury or simply getting bigger, he may be limited to a corner OF spot.  His advanced approach at the plate continues to be his calling card as he is praised for regularly getting into hitter’s counts, but at the same time, he is regularly knocked for not being aggressive enough and taking too many hittable pitches after getting to a favorable count.

Some recent reports have credited Nimmo’s being more aggressive this year in those situations, which has helped drive his success.  If true, that is a huge step forward for him.  Either way, at this point, reports of his demise [as a prospect] are grossly exaggerated, but in fairness, so too would be the opposite view that he is a sure-fire MLB star in the making.  The simple truth is that we do not know what Nimmo will ultimately be, but we are getting closer to finding out.  Parenthetically, the need for some fans to rush to judgment on prospects or even younger MLB players has always confounded me.

Debunking the “Slow Start” Myth

“Nimmo struggles with his first X PAs at every level”.  Let’s just put this narrative to rest one and for all, as it simply is not accurate.  He has now played at all 4 full season levels in the minors.  He raked out of the gates in both Savannah and St. Lucie, struggled badly out of the gates in Binghamton and hit okay out of the gates in Vegas.  Here are the facts, focusing first on Bingo:

  • Nimmo absolutely struggled when first promoted to Binghamton in 2014, hitting .189/.318/.360/.679 in 31 games, covering 133 PA.  (I guess you could argue he also struggled later that fall when he played in the AZ Fall League, albeit that was only 15 total games in total). 
  • Nimmo absolutely raked in 2013 when first playing in Savannah, to the tune of .440/.520/.603/1.123 in his first 16 games, covering 75 PA. 
  • Nimmo absolutely raked in 2014 when first playing in St. Lucie, hitting .407/.530/.549/1.080 in his first 24 games, covering 115 PA. 
  • Nimmo was okay – neither great nor bad when first promoted to Vegas late in 2015.  He started out pretty well, hitting .304/.431/.435/.866 in 15 games (58 PA), but then slumped badly in the next 13 games (37 PA)before finishing with a hot last 4 games (17 PA) of the season.  That 13 game slump pulled down his overall line for Vegas in 2015 to .264/.393/.418 – again, not horrible, but no WOW factor either.  Granted all of these are SSS, but given the results, it’s simply not accurate to characterize his performance when first promoted to Vegas as “struggling to adjust.”
  • Extending Nimmo’s AAA performance to this year also fails to support the notion that he had a difficult adjustment period.  While Nimmo got off to a very slow start over the first 16 games (70 PA) this year in Vegas, the prevailing view is that slow start was at least somewhat caused by the time he missed in ST with a foot injury.  He has been on a tear since then though, over the last 36 games (167 PA, hitting .385/.467/.657 over that time, for an overall line of .330/.411/.529 over 52 games and 237 PA.

Judging Nimmo’s Performance in Context

At the outset, it bears noting that statistics in the minors are not always indicative of future success at higher levels.  Some players who lack the tools to succeed at the MLB level can succeed in lower levels or even upper levels of the minors.  Conversely, some players do not post eye-popping stats at some levels in the minors, but have the tools to succeed in the MLB.  Inasmuch as the focus of so many fans has been based upon Nimmo’s perceived “initial struggles at each level” or his perceived unimpressive production throughout the minors, it is worthwhile to look a little closer at each year, beyond his hot starts in 2013 and 2014 and slow start in 2015 to see if he was able to sustain the hot starts and turn around the slow start and if not, what happened.

  • As noted earlier, in Savannah in 2013, Nimmo started the year on a tear hitting .440/.520/.603/1.123 when he suffered a wrist injury in late April.  He tried to play through it a few games before winding up on the DL.  He came back at the end of May and struggled with the nagging wrist injury for all of June and a large chunk of July, as he tried to compensate for and play through the injury.  But once his wrist fully healed in July, he really tore it up again. While I cannot say conclusively that all of his struggles in Savannah were related to that wrist, it seems more likely that they were tied to the injury than to a difficulty adjusting to pitchers’ adjustments.  His overall line in Savannah was not eye-popping impressive, though hardly the train wreck people make it out to be, as he hit .273/.397/.359 in a pitcher friendly park and league.  But when you dive deeper, it was a tale of two seasons:  He was horrible for the 48 games (211 PA) or so when he was playing with a bad wrist (.184/.300/.246), but was fantastic for the 62 games (269 PA) he was healthy, hitting .347/.472/.454. 
  • In St. Lucie, after that hot 24 game start (115 PA), he struggled for 15 games (67 PA, .196/.328/.232/.561), before rebounding to hit .313/.433/.513/.945 in his next 23 games (97 PA) and earning a promotion to AA.  A 15 game slump sandwiched between 24 and 23 game stretches of solid production speaks for itself, as does his overall sold line in A+, hitting .322/.448/.458/.906 in 62 games (279 PA).  
  • In Binghamton in 2014, after that horrid 31 game beginning, he performed considerably better in his last 34 games (146 PA), hitting .279/.359/.426/.  Nimmo actually had a mini slump his last 5 games of that season, which pulled down his numbers.  In fact, his triple slash for the 29 game stretch (prior to the 5 game swoon to end the season) was .321/.408/.495. Obviously, we cannot ignore those final 5 games, but his success for 29 games after a slow start in his first 34 games shows that even the one time that Nimmo had a very slow start at a level, he ultimately made an adjustment and enjoyed a nice stretch of production. (He started 2015 in AA and hit okay – .297/.368/.420/.788 for the first 1-1/2 months (34 games, 155 PA) before hitting the DL with a knee injury, which unfortunately plagued him for the remainder of the 2015.  He largely struggled the rest of that year, hitting .260/.340/.313/.653 in 34 games (147 PA) in AA after returning from the DL, and then .264/.393/.418/.810 in 32 games (112 PA) after being promoted to Vegas. 

What to Expect From Here?

The jury is still out on Nimmo.  No one knows whether he will turn out to be a star or a bust, or more likely somewhere in between.  But he has worked his way to the precipice of the Majors and seems to be playing the best ball of his life.  Some recent accounts have indicated that one of the reasons for Nimmo’s success has been that he finally has changed his approach to be more aggressive at the plate once he gets into hitters counts.

Reports (and video highlights) indicate that Nimmo has been driving the balls into the gaps this season, including to left-center, which is very encouraging and diminishes some of the concern that his success is simply a PCL phenomena.  Truly looking at this performance in context reveals a player who has played far better than the average fan realizes, though still one with some flaws.  Until Nimmo gets called up to the big league team and performs at that level, any conclusions declaring him a bust or a future HOFer are premature to say the least.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Marc M. (Not4). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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 Fan Shot: Signing Reyes Is More Than A PR Issue http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mmo-fan-shot-signing-reyes-is-more-than-a-pr-issue.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mmo-fan-shot-signing-reyes-is-more-than-a-pr-issue.html/#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2016 14:00:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=215801 Jose-Reyes-20

MMO Fan Shot by Andy Love, Originally Published on Fair and Unbalanced

In 2006, the Mets were one pitch away — albeit, a nasty, possibly unhittable Adam Wainwright curveball (that Carlos Beltran watched for strike three with the bases loaded, but I digress) – from making the World Series.  That team was led by two of the game’s brightest young stars:  David Wright and Jose Reyes.  And although the next two promising years resulted in epic, brutal, end-of-the-season collapses, Wright and Reyes (with the exception of Reyes’ slumping September in 2007) lived up to the hype with explosive campaigns and were poised to be the two pillars of an exciting new era of winning Mets baseball.

Well, that is not exactly what happened.  The Mets would not have another winning season until last year when Reyes was long gone and Wright was mostly hurt.

David Wright did have a couple more stellar years, but starting in 2009, when he suffered a concussion from a Matt Cain beanball, he has endured a never-ending series of injuries that has plagued his career. This culminated in a diagnosis of spinal stenosis last year and a season-ending neck injury this year.

Meanwhile, Jose Reyes remained, for a time, one of the most exciting players in baseball.  He played with passion, joy and fire that not only made him a delight to watch and root for, but he often carried a team that otherwise lacked those qualities.  However, after the 2011 season (in which he led  the National League in batting), only 28 years old and seemingly approaching the peak of his career, Reyes (unlike Wright) was not signed by the Mets to a long-term contract but was allowed to pursue free agency.  He signed a massive deal with the Miami Marlins but was traded to Toronto after one year, where the artificial turf wreaked havoc on his legs.  In 2015, Reyes was traded again, this time to Colorado, where he played poorly.

His skills seemingly diminished, the now 33-year old shortstop has been put on waivers by the Rockies, and if not claimed in 48 hours, Reyes will become a free agent.  From a purely baseball perspective, Reyes would be a bargain for any team that wants to give him a try.  His new team would only have to play a pro-rated league minimum while the Rockies remain on the hook for the $39 million left on his contract.

Some have clamored for the Mets to bring Reyes back into the fold, perhaps to make the loss of David Wright, the other half of the erstwhile dynamic duo, less acute  And given how little the team would have to pay for his services, it might be worth the risk.  The Mets could certainly use his undeniably electric energy to shake up what feels like a team that needs some shaking up.

Even at this advanced stage of his career, Reyes has more speed than just about anyone currently in the Mets dugout.  If he still has a bit of pop in his bat, he could be a worthy contributor to what has become a fairly anemic lineup.  In the field, he could play not just shortstop, where Asdrubal Cabrera is doing just fine, but could possibly play David Wright’s old position — third base — or he could play second and the Mets could move Neil Walker to third.  Or he could play the role of a utility man, coming off the bench to pinch hit, pinch run, and play any of the infield positions when needed.

But — ah, there’s always a but — last year on Halloween, Jose Reyes was charged in a domestic violence incident after a particularly frightening assault on his wife:

According to the report, Reyes grabbed his wife by the throat after an argument in their hotel room and then shoved her into the sliding balcony door in their room. He was arrested for abuse of a family or household member. His wife was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for injuries to her thigh, neck and wrist.

Charges were dropped after Reyes’ wife declined to cooperate with prosecutors. But Reyes was suspended by Major League Baseball, pursuant to its domestic violence policy, for 51 games, essentially, the first two months of this season.  In addition to his loss of playing time and salary while suspended, Reyes made a public apology.  He also has apparently participated in some kind of a counseling/therapy program and contributed $100,000 to a charitable organization on preventing domestic abuse and treating domestic abuse survivors.

It has been suggested that signing Reyes would merely be a “PR” problem given the domestic violence incident.  But this is about much more than PR.  Instead of talking about Reyes’ batting and fielding statistics we should be talking about the following statistics from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

On average, 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the United States. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 10 million women and men. Those numbers only tell part of the story—nearly 2 million women are raped in a year and over 7 million women and men are victims of stalking in a year.

When Major League Baseball adopted a domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy last year, it finally accepted responsibility for addressing such significant societal problems.  As MLBPA executive director Tony Clark stated: “Players are husbands, fathers, sons and boyfriends. And as such want to set an example that makes clear that there is no place for domestic abuse in our society. We are hopeful that this new comprehensive, collectively-bargained policy will deter future violence, promote victim safety, and serve as a step toward a better understanding of the causes and consequences of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse.”

Particularly if they sign Jose Reyes, the Mets organization would have a civic obligation and moral duty to show their fans that they take domestic violence deadly seriously.  They could do this by making sure that Reyes continues in a therapeutic/counseling program for domestic violence abusers.  They should require him to make public service announcements and appearances about domestic violence that could have a far-reaching impact on the community.  The team should also devote significant resources to fostering awareness about violence against women and contribute to anti-domestic violence organizations.

A reunion with a formerly beloved star who appears to be on the decline could be a great story of redemption if Reyes has some game left and helps the Mets win but, more importantly, if he and the Mets show a demonstrated commitment to taking meaningful action to combat violence against women.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Andy Love of Fair and Unbalanced. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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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1986 Mets vs 2016 Mets: Was Strawberry Right? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/1986-mets-vs-2016-mets-was-strawberry-right.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/1986-mets-vs-2016-mets-was-strawberry-right.html/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 15:55:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=215245 darryl strawberry

An MMO Fan Shot by Carl Aridas

In a recent interview, featured here on Metsmerized Online, Mets’ great Darryl Strawberry stated that the 2016 NY Mets couldn’t compare to the 1986 Mets team that won the World Series.  Given that the 1986 anniversary celebration just passed at Shea, errr Citi Field, I wondered whether Darryl was correct in his assertion that the current team “is not even close to what we [1986 Mets] were”.  This statistically-based analysis attempts to answer that question on a position by position basis.

Catcher:

In 1986, Gary “the Kid” Carter had a triple slash of .255/.337/.439 good for an OPS+ of 115 to go with 24 homers and 105 RBIs which was good for third in the 1986 NL MVP voting.  His total bWAR of 3.5 is certainly greater than anything d’Arnaud or Plawecki will be mustering this season.

Advantage – 1986

First Base:

1986 Gold glove award winner Keith Hernandez batted .310/.413/.446 for an OPS+ of 140.  His 13 HRs and 83 RBIs helped that team as did his 5.5 WAR.  The 2016 team, even with a healthy Lucas Duda could not match that total as Duda’s career high in WAR is 3.6 back in 2014.

Advantage – 1986

Second Base:

Surely the 1986 Mets, with Wally Backman, the greatest minor league manager in the history of Las Vegas will win this position battle against their 2016 counterparts?  In 1986 Wally Backman batted .320/.376/.385 for an OPS+ of 113 (13% better than league average) and a total WAR of 3.1. He had 1 homer and 27 RBIs in all of 1986.  However, this year’s team has Neil Walker who through June 17 had a .274/.345/.493 which is good for an OPS+ of 126.  He already has 14 homers and 28 RBIs, but his superior bat is offset by a glove already worth -.2 WAR.  Based on current statistics, Walker projects to provide a WAR of 3.1 in 2016.

Advantage – Even

Shortstop:

Asdrubal Cabrera, through June 17, has hit to the tune of 264/326/397 and an OPS+ of 97 (3% below league average).  He has a total WAR of .6 already on the season.  The 1986 team had Rafael Santana who “hit” .218/.285/.254 good for an OPS+ of 52.  He had .6 WAR the entire season of 1986.

Advantage – 2016

Third Base: 

Ray Knight manned the hot corner in 1986 and compiled a .298/.351/.424 during the season with 11 home runs and 76 RBI.  His OPS+ was 115 and he compiled a total of 2.3 WAR on the season.  Before his season-ending surgery, David Wright has an OPS of .788 good for an OPS of 114.  While David Wright’s formerly gold glove defense has deteriorated, his 953 fielding percentage is still basically the same as Knight’s 1986 fielding percentage of .948 as Knight had 16 errors that season.  Without the surgery, David Wright would have been the equal of Ray Knight.  However, the current Mets backups are not.

Advantage – 1986

Left Field:

The 1986 actually had two semi-regular left fielders as George Foster hit .227/.289/.429 through 72 games before being released by the team in August.  He was replaced by Kevin Mitchell who had 12 home runs and 43 RBIs to go with his batting line of .277/.344/.466. Through June 17, Michael Conforto had a .233/.301/.455 triple slash line good for an OPS+ of 103 and his .5 WAR to date already exceeds Foster’s 1986 total and by the end of the season should exceed the combined 1986 WAR total of Mitchell and Foster.

Advantage – 2016

Center Field:

Lenny Dykstra was the spark plug of the 1986 team and his .295/.377/.445 for an OPS+ of 129 certainly justifies that moniker.  His 31 steals led the team and his 76 runs scored were second on the team and he had 4.7 WAR.  Yoenis Cespedes is certainly a different kind of player than Lenny Dykstra, and the slugger leads the team with 16 homers and his .562 slugging percentage is among league leader.  His OPS+ so far this season is 145, and his combined OPS last season was 136.  Sorry Dykstra fans, the advantage goes to:

Advantage – 2016

Right Field:

In 1986 Darryl Strawberry led the team with 27 home runs, his 93 RBIs were second behind Gary Carter’s 105, and his batting line of 259/358/507 good for an OPS of 865 which led the team.  He also added 28 stolen bases.  With all due respect to the Mets current leadoff hitter, Curtis Granderson will likely be bested by Darryl Strawberry in batting average, on base percentage and slugging and Strawberry’s 28 steals in 1986 are more stolen bases than Granderson has ever had in a season in his career.

Advantage – 1986

The current Mets were hard pressed to match their 1986 counterparts, as the 1986 team led the National League in batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, RBIs and runs scored.  The team’s OPS+ was 106, the only National League team to be above average in that statistic in 1986.

Bench:

Does the current projected production of the Mets bench of Lagares, Flores, Campbell, and De Aza match the actual output in 1986 of Mookie Wilson, Danny Heep, Howard Johnson and Tim Teufel?

In 1986, Mookie Wilson batted .289 and had 25 steals while accumulating 3.0 WAR; Danny Heep batted .282, had an OPS+ of 123 and added .7 WAR off the bench; Howard Johnson had 10 HRs and 39 RBIs for 1.4 WAR good for an OPS of 118 in 1986, the year before he led the National League in home runs with 39 in 1987; and Tim Teufel added 25 extra base hits while accumulating .5 WAR backing up second, first and third.

This year’s bench has Juan Lagares batting .289 through June 17 and .5 WAR but his OPS+ is just above league average at 106.  Meanwhile Flores is hitting .248 while Campbell and De Aza are all still below the Mendoza line, at .159 and .171 respectively.

Advantage – 1986

Starting Pitching:

The 1986 Mets led the National League in wins, gave up the fewest runs in the league (3.57 per game) allowed the fewest baserunners (walks + hits per inning pitched, “WHIP” of 1.222) and gave up the fewest home runs per game at .6.

For those who have forgotten, or are too young to remember, the 1986 starting five consisted of Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Bob Ojeda (who led the team with 18 wins) Sid Fernandez and Rick Aguilera.  Don’t overlook Aguilera who as the number five starter had the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio on the rotation.  Collectively, the starting five went 76-30 (a .717 winning percentage) with a 3.05 ERA and a WHIP (walks + hits per inning pitched) of 1.17.  Man those guys could pitch.

The current starting five of the Mets certainly have the potential to match their 1986 counterparts, assuming Harvey rights himself and Matz and Syndergaard continue to develop.  So far this season (stats through June 17) the Mets starting five have a 27-20 record (a very good but inferior to their 1986 counterparts winning percentage of .622). Their ERA is 3.05 and their collective WHIP is 1.17.

With the same ERA so far, and the exact same WHIP, the 2016 starting rotation has the potential to match, and perhaps even exceed the 1986 team, at this point.

Advantage – 1986

Bullpen:

The top five members of the current Mets bullpen, led by closer Jeurys Familia has a 6-6 record through June 17, with a 3.02 ERA and 23 saves and a WHIP of 1.21.  The 23 saves projects to more than 58 saves, and as noted recently, Familia now owns the club record for consecutive saves.  The 1986 team had two closers, lefty Jessie Orosco who went 8 – 6 with 21 saves and righty Roger McDowell who had 14 wins and 22 saves.  The top 5 performers in the 1986 bullpen went a combined 30 – 21 with a 2.92 ERA, 45 saves and a WHIP of 1.29.  The current bull pen projects to have more saves and a lower WHIP than their 1986 counterparts, but the 1986 bullpen had a better won-loss record.  The ERAs are virtually the same, so my vote says –

Advantage – Even

Results At A Glance:

1986 vs 2016

It’s tough to match up with a team that holds the club’s single season records for wins, and won the World Series.  This year’s team is close though, and will hopefully add a third World Series trophy to the team’s trophy cabinet.

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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader Carl Aridas. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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 Fan Shot: Mets Can’t Afford To Trade Zack Wheeler http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mmo-fan-shot-mets-cant-afford-to-trade-zack-wheeler.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mmo-fan-shot-mets-cant-afford-to-trade-zack-wheeler.html/#comments Fri, 17 Jun 2016 15:52:23 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=215157 zack wheeler

An MMO Fan Shot by The Metssiah

This season, the injury plague has spread throughout the Mets clubhouse much like it did in 2015. As soon as David Wright went down, the fan base started clamoring for a big time trade. Every fan has a pipe dream proposal where they just name a bunch of guys on the Mets top prospect list and assume the package will land the Mets a franchise type bat.

But I’ve poured over the lists of prospective trade options as well as the Mets farm system, and I keep coming to the same conclusion. If the Mets want to land a big time bat that is under team control for more than just this season, the trade talks will begin and end with Zack Wheeler. For most fans, that price doesn’t seem to be a deterrent. Well it should be. Trading Zack Wheeler would be a mistake, and it’s a price the Mets cannot afford to pay if they want to remain competitive over the next few seasons.

In 2015, the Mets had a pitching surplus. They had arguably the top rotation in the game and two frontline starter types in Zack Wheeler and Michael Fulmer that weren’t even a part of the major league equation. The Mets knew they had the flexibility to deal from that surplus, and at the deadline they clearly made Wheeler and Fulmer available. We saw the Carlos Gomez for Wheeler trade play out and ultimately fall through. And we saw the Mets ultimately pull the trigger on the Michael Fulmer for Yoenis Cespedes deal that catapulted the team to the NL East crown.

In his brief major league stint so far this season, Fulmer looks like he’s going to be a top of the rotation starter (7-1, 2.52 ERA). The Mets already knew that was the likely outcome with Fulmer. It’s the reason they were hesitant to deal him. But that trade netted the Mets Cespedes, and it’s a deal the 2015 Mets make 10 times out of 10. Why? Because the 2015 Mets had the pitching depth to afford it. Unfortunately, after dealing Fulmer and a number of other pitching prospects in 2015 deadline deals, the 2016 Mets lack that luxury.

The Mets blueprint for making the playoffs includes them putting an ace on the mound every single day. Five aces baby. That’s been the plan for years. Wheeler is that fifth ace. The one area the Mets have been blessed this season is the health of their young pitchers (Yeah I said it. I’m ferociously knocking on wood. Relax). Unfortunately, it’s very unlikely that run of luck lasts year after year.

In order to make the most of this championship window and have any chance of sustained success, the Mets are going to need all five aces to carry them. Period. You think Bartolo Colon will be around forever? You want to trade Wheeler and possibly roll with Logan Verrett or Sean Gilmartin as the fifth starter next season? Trust me, don’t look at the list of available free agent starting pitchers for next offseason. There’s a reason front line guys get paid so much. There’s not that many of them.

I’m not saying the Mets shouldn’t look to deal some minor league talent to upgrade the roster. But the available crop of infielders that I’ve been reading about (e.g. Danny ValenciaYangervis Solarte) does not include a franchise level bat, and Jonathan Lucroy is a catcher. I realize Lucroy can play first base, but it’s not his true position. He’s started just over 30 games at first base in his 7 year career. Travis d’Arnaud is supposed to be back next week, and Lucas Duda is supposed to be back before the end of the season.

To give up Zack Wheeler for a player that ultimately creates a roster conundrum for the end of the season and into next season seems foolish to me. In the short term for this season, I think the best move for the Mets is to look to make marginal upgrades to the roster via trade, utilize internal options (e.g. Dilson HerreraBrandon Nimmo), or make a big international signing (*cough* Yulieski Gourriel *cough*).

In the long term, I think the Mets are better served holding on to all the pitching and looking for ways to upgrade the major league roster in the offseason via free agency. To me that’s the most effective route to elevate this specific roster to a championship caliber level without sacrificing the key strength upon which all the hope for success is predicated. We will live and die with our core of five aces. We cannot afford to compromise that blueprint for the sake of a quick fix. At least not this year.

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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader The Metssiah who you could follow at @TheMetssiahHave something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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 Fan Shot: I Love David Wright… That’s Why I Want Him To Retire http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mmo-fan-shot-i-love-david-wright-thats-why-i-want-him-to-retire.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mmo-fan-shot-i-love-david-wright-thats-why-i-want-him-to-retire.html/#comments Tue, 14 Jun 2016 11:00:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=214737 david wright

An MMO Fan Shot by Brendan Birth

I know I am not unique among Mets fans for my love of David Wright, my view of him as one of the few bright spots on the team during the dark days of the cash-strapped Wilpon ownership, my admiration for his loyalty to the Mets during that forgettable period, and my respect for how he has worn the Mets uniform with such pride and class. A great leader and all-around good guy.

Yet, here I am, while wearing my David Wright shirt, saying that I want him to retire because I love David Wright.

And the reason for my wanting this goes well beyond baseball. I say this even though I know he is becoming a liability to the team, with his bat and his glove.

I want him to retire so that he can protect his own body and his own health. His body is telling him he can’t handle the rigors of baseball anymore. From a concussion to a stress fracture, from a shoulder injury to (most devastatingly) spinal stenosis, and now a herniated disc in his neck, it’s all becoming abundantly clear.

If he is really hungry to play baseball, he could theoretically try to grind out a few more years of playing. But if he does that, I fear for his ending up crippled for the rest of his life more than I fear his potentially problematic glove and/or ineffective bat.

It seems like a bit of a ridiculous fear from the perspective of Mets fans who just want their captain to be on the field, leading his players, and being productive. But I would actually argue that in addition to his not being on the field or being productive, his ability to lead players would probably be enhanced by ending his playing career.

david wright

Think about it—right now, he is probably splitting his time and days between being in Queens and getting treatment who-knows-where. If he instead retires and takes on an advisory role for the club, an ambassador for the club, or even a coach of some sort, he can just dedicate his time to being with the players in Queens (or in Las Vegas, Binghamton, Port St. Lucie, or some other place within the Mets organization). This is just one more reason for Wright to retire. We know he loves the team and the game and he can serve in a myriad of roles and still stay close to the Mets.

My other argument to Mets fans who want their captain on the field is that all of us, as fans, should look beyond baseball and instead look at what is best for Wright and his family.

Is it really best for his family if Wright tries to play several more years, end up with even more physical problems, and potentially let those physical problems prevent him from being the best husband (and potentially father) he can be? Of course not! This is further reason I want him to retire because I love him.

I think it’s important for all Mets fans, and Wright himself, to think about whether playing baseball is best for David Wright the person and David Wright the body. I hope he is honest with himself and not feel some sort of obligation to come back because of some sense that he owes it to the team or the fans.

David Wright owes us nothing. He has given us everything he has and then some. He will always be remembered as one of the greatest players in Mets franchise history. He has done all of us proud. I love David Wright, and that’s why I want him to retire. Go out on top, Captain.

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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader Brendan BirthHave something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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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Cuban Star Third Baseman Yulieski Gourriel Free To Sign With Any MLB Team http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/cuban-star-third-baseman-yulieski-gourriel-free-to-sign-with-any-mlb-team.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/cuban-star-third-baseman-yulieski-gourriel-free-to-sign-with-any-mlb-team.html/#comments Mon, 13 Jun 2016 19:40:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=214832 gurriel

An MMO Fan Shot by The Metssiah

So it’s official, the next potential Cuban stud Yulieski Gourriel has been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball and is now free to sign with any team. The guy is 32 and he’s touted as arguably the top player in the International market. Not just the top talent in Cuba, but in the world.

Also for the record, I checked with MLB and the Mets do qualify as “any team” so they technically are eligible to sign him despite never getting involved in the market for Cuban players or International free agent talents in general. I’m not talking about the International market for amateur players. The Mets do a ton of scouting and signing of amateur International players that are subject to the bonus pool restrictions and signing process. I’m talking about international talents that are over 23 and are exempt from the definition of an amateur player.

Typically to be exempt from amateur status you need to be 23+ and you need to have played in a league recognized by MLB as a pro league for a prescribed period of time. Because of his age and experience in the Cuban pro league, Gourriel is not subject to international spending limitations. The Mets can just sign him on the open market like any old free agent. And they should sign him.

Gourriel bats right-handed and has played 15 seasons between Cuba and Japan. He has a career hitting line of .335/.417/.580 with 250 home runs in 5,491 plate appearances. Last season, he hit .500 with 15 home runs and 51 RBIs in 49 games for the Industriales of the Cuban League. He is considered a plus defender at his natural position of third base. Do the Mets need a third basemen? Can somebody help me with this one? Last I heard David Wright has been frozen in carbonite to help him maintain his posture and Wilmer Flores is booting grounders at third base left and right.

Signing international guys is never cheap. The Dodgers signed Hector Olivera to a 6-year, $62.5M deal at 30 years old. Yasmany Tomas signed a 6-year deal with Arizona worth $68.5M at 24 years old.  Rusney Castillo signed a 7-year, $72.5M deal with the Red Sox at 27. Alex Guerrero signed a 4-year $28M deal with the Dodgers at 26.

Signing these players do pose some risks and they’re not all slam dunks. Guerrero just got released by the Dodgers and was a total bust (although they never really gave him a chance to play full time). Rusney Castillo is in the Red Sox minor league system and has struggled at the ML level. That being said, he has so many talented players in front of him in the Sox organization, that it’s hard to call him a bust until he gets a real opportunity to play regularly. Tomas has been decent for the D-backs with a .270/.309/.411 line so far at the ML level. Olivera got arrested for a domestic violence incident after being traded to the Braves.

But there are also some key success stories. You can’t ignore the success of Yoenis CespedesAroldis ChapmanJose Abreu and even Yasiel Puig in the majors. They have essentially been winning lottery tickets for their respective teams. Puig’s production has declined since his breakout 2013/14 seasons and Chapman has turned out to be a jerk off the field but their talent is undeniable.

My point in all this is the Mets should have the resources to take a risk on a promising Cuban player that fills a position of need. Because of his recent long layoff, some spring training like seasoning at Triple-A would be required according to Baseball America who add he’s MLB ready. Speculation is that he’ll get a 3-4 year deal with a $10-13 million average annual salary.

Maybe he won’t have a big impact in 2016, but we need a replacement for Wright in the long term. What proven major league free agent third basemen is going to join the Mets to be Wright’s understudy? Do we really want to give up a bunch of prospects for some stopgap solution like Danny Valencia or Aaron Hill? Do we want to give up Zack Wheeler for Jonathan Lucroy or overpay for someone having a career year like  Yangervis Solarte?

Look, we may need to do one of those things anyway to compete this season, but there’s nothing prohibiting the Mets from signing a Cuban talent and pursuing trade opportunities for short term solutions in the infield. Plus who better to help Gourriel get acquainted to life in the majors than Yoenis Cespedes, someone who’s made the adjustment from Cuban ball/life to the MLB.

I’m sick of watching other teams sign these Cuban studs. If the Mets don’t sign him, he’s just going to wind up on the Dodgers, Yankees, or some other team that isn’t afraid to open their wallet and take a risk. If the Wilpons have actually loosened the purse strings, then let’s see it. Sign another Cuban please.

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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader The Metssiah who you could follow at @TheMetssiahHave something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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 Fan Shot: Super Joe, the Mets’ Everyman http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/mmo-fan-shot-super-joe-the-mets-everyman.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/mmo-fan-shot-super-joe-the-mets-everyman.html/#comments Tue, 31 May 2016 15:00:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=213556 Super Joe - McEwing

An MMO Fan Shot by Michael R. Ebert

Before the days of the Dark Knight, Thor and Captain America, the New York Mets had a different kind of superhero: Super Joe McEwing.

Unlike today’s crop of blue-and-orange heroes, McEwing’s super power was not dominance. In fact, he wasn’t even a starter. Rather, he was a utility man capable of playing almost every position on the diamond – with an energy, hustle, and obvious love for the game that made him a fan favorite.

Interestingly, Super Joe came from the St. Louis Cardinals in a straight-up swap for Jesse Orosco in March 2000, just three months after the Mets had reacquired the legendary reliever from the Baltimore Orioles. It’s been said that Cardinals manager Tony La Russa admired McEwing so much that he requested a pair of his spikes after the trade for display in his office. Talk about high praise.

Being a huge Knicks fan, I initially gravitated towards McEwing simply because his name was similar to my favorite childhood basketball player: Patrick Ewing. It seemed only natural for me to latch on to this “new Ewing” who wore the same colors as Patrick and also played in New York. But, upon watching him on a daily basis, it didn’t take long to form a deeper appreciation for Super Joe. He was enthusiastic and versatile. He was hardworking and fundamentally sound. He was always focused.

Despite being part of the National League Championship team in 2000, it was McEwing’s 2001 season with the Mets that really put him on the map with the Flushing fans. He batted a solid .283 in 116 games off the bench that year, with eight home runs, 30 runs-batted-in, and 41 runs scored.

McEwingPhoto

By the end of that season, I loved McEwing’s scrappiness so much that I requested a McEwing jersey for Christmas and had my parents frame a profile piece written about him by Newsday’s Bob Herzog. I still display the inspirational article in my home today, along with a photocopied version at work.

“I come to the park ready to play,” McEwing said in the story.

“If I’m not in the lineup, I watch everything. I don’t like to miss many pitches. I like to learn. I’m a student of the game.”

He later added, “I try to be ready for that one at-bat, that one defensive play, that one bunt.”

Mets GM Steve Philips said, “He doesn’t have great power. He doesn’t have great speed. But he can help you win every day. He can play once every two weeks or two weeks straight.”

McEwing’s other notable achievements included having a streak of 230 errorless games, which at the time was the longest active streak by any major-league outfielder. He was also known as having uncanny success against one of the best starting pitchers of his era Randy Johnson – even earning the nickname “Little Unit,” which was a play on Johnson’s nickname of “Big Unit.”

Today, Super Joe is the third-base coach for the Chicago White Sox, which I only realized during Monday’s game when Gary Cohen said that he and Robin Ventura on the same coaching staff is like a “1999 Mets reunion.” Of course, Gary was off by one year, but even the best make mistakes.

Still, seeing McEwing again brought back memories. It was he who showed me I can achieve anything with diligence and passion. It was he who showed me the importance of always being ready for the moment.

And it was he who showed me that even average Joes can be superheroes. Thank you, Super Joe.

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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader and author Michael R. EbertHave something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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 Fan Shot: The Umpires Strike Back http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/mmo-fan-shot-the-umpires-strike-back.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/mmo-fan-shot-the-umpires-strike-back.html/#comments Sun, 29 May 2016 15:30:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=213363 Terry Collins, Manny Gonzalez

An MMO Fan Shot by Michael Reilly

The bases are loaded, with one out in the third inning and the Mets are down 3-1. Colorado’s Tony Wolters heads to the dugout after striking out. Not so fast, says home plate umpire Carlos Torres. You foul tipped it… A double and four runs later, the hole the Mets were already in gets much deeper. “He sold it for me,” Wolters says after the game. “I appreciate it. Carlos [Torres], thank you.”

MLB rightfully decided to honor the human element in the game by not allowing replays in such situations, leaving it up to the umpires to officiate. Umpires are permitted to consult with one another to try and make certain that the correct call is made. An umpire also has the right to refuse to discuss the issue any further with anyone at all. Too often, despite common sense and without humility, umpires choose the latter—even when it is obvious they are aware they blew the call.

The next day, with one out in the 8th inning and umpire’s egos dangerously close to being crushed, another call was badly blown. With the Mets trailing 4-3, Lucas Duda tapped a grounder to third base. Juan Lagares, running from 2nd base, avoided the tag from 3rd baseman Nolan Arenado, who instead threw to first for the out.

The third base umpire (properly) ruled Lagares safe. However, the second base umpire called him out for running out of the baseline. Who cares about such insignificant details like Lagares not even coming close to running out of the baseline and remaining on the dirt and directly in line with the third base bag, all while avoiding the tag? Ignore the fact that it wasn’t the second base umpire’s call to make. Definitely ignore the first call (safe) made by the umpire whose call it was to make. Ignore the rules. It is the umpires’ egos that we must protect.

To get to the end of this article, we must go back to 10/10/15. Game 2. Noah Syndergaard took the loss against the Dodgers and Ruben Tejada got knocked out for the remainder of the playoffs with a broken leg from a hard (and now illegal) slide by LA’s Chase Utley.

Since that game, the Mets have played the Dodgers on eight different occasions. 72 innings. Noah Syndergaard has already pitched once against L.A. since that loss in Game 2. In that game, he got the win and a couple of homers. So tonight was the 9th time that we played the Dodgers without any of the retribution every baseball fan and player thought was rightfully owed to Chase Utley, including himself.

I am not talking about hurting the guy and putting him on the disabled list. That would be wrong in any sport. Instead, one in the back, perhaps? Or, just throw a purpose pitch to back him up off the plate he has been hogging all season. Even better, make him eat dirt; you know, because: BASEBALL.

So last night, Noah Syndergaard got ejected for throwing behind Utley. Could the ball have just gotten away from him? Sure. Who knows? Adam Hamari, home plate umpire and rookie call-up, that’s who.

Although no warnings were officially issued, the umpires certainly seemed like they were treating this game and its players as if one had actually been given. I wonder just how long the umpires would have continued like this, seeing that the Mets had never sought retribution (if indeed that was retribution)?

It is not reasonable to issue bench warnings one off-season and nine games later when there has not even been a single pitch thrown inside by a Met pitcher. Nor has there been any tension or animosity between these two teams; therefore, sensibly, no bench warnings were given. Instead, the umpires decided the game should be played and ruled in the same manner it would be if an official warning was given: ONE STRIKE AND YOU’RE OUT!

Did 44,000 fans buy tickets for tonight’s game just for the chance to watch home plate umpire and rookie call-up Adam Hamari get involved and become the headliner of the game? Yes, according to yet another umpire’s ego. When will the league step in and do something not only about the bad umpiring itself, but to address this rampant arrogance and refusal to even confer as a group to get the call right?

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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader Michael Reilly. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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 Fan Shot: A New York Mets Time Warp http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mmo-fan-shot-a-new-york-mets-time-warp.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mmo-fan-shot-a-new-york-mets-time-warp.html/#comments Fri, 22 Apr 2016 16:02:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=210196 wrld series

An MMO Fan Shot by by Laura (mookie4ever)

I’ve always been fascinated with the science fiction concept of time travel, and its potential effect on the present if you went back in time and changed anything. Being a Trekkie as an idealistic kid, the Star Trek episodes that included time travel caught my attention the most. One in particular, was “City on the Edge of Forever,” where Dr. McCoy went back in time to 1930s New York and somehow made the Star Trek crew’s future disappear, along with their ship. Kirk and Spock had to go back in time after him, figure out what he did and prevent or undo it, so the future would remain the same. But how to find him? With his currents in time theory, Spock proposed that time was fluid, it ebbed and flowed in rivers and eddies, and would eventually bring them all together to a focal point in time.

I’ve pondered this stuff from time to time, impossible questions, such as if JFK had lived, would the Vietnam War have still dragged on and on? How would the 60s and 70s have turned out? Would we still have landed on the moon without his words from the grave to spur us on?

And, similarly, now I ask myself: What if the Mets’ chances for a World Series championship this year would be better served by a more natural progression to success? Something more like 1985 into 1986 instead of the quantum leap of 2015 so far ahead of schedule. If they had just missed the playoffs, or lost to the Dodgers, would we be willing to trade that NLCS and World Series appearance if it guaranteed dominance and a ring in 2016? Think of how much more frustrated and hungry and motivated they’d be this year.

Remember how much of a chip on their shoulder the 1986 team came into that season with and how dominant it was all year long. Couldn’t have been a coincidence that they missed the postseason by just 3 games behind the Cards. And then they came out roaring, not quite out of the gate, but shortly afterwards, in 1986 and never looked back, running all over the league for 108 wins. Total dominance, championship ring, a team for the ages. A Mets team we didn’t even recognize, they were so damn good and arrogant and nasty and dare I say, Yankee-like? Still many fans’ favorite team, bless their bullying, partying souls.

Would we trade the wonderful surprise and fairy tale games of the 2015 postseason, I wonder? Would we trade the amazing home run tear of Daniel Murphy, the guy most unlikely to set a major league power record, the still-unbelievable sweep of the Cubs, the Syndergaard message pitch and challenge, the oh-so-close-to-perfect Game 5 story of Matt Harvey and heartbreak?

I don’t know, it’s a tough call. If they hadn’t won that game 5 in LA, we would have all known that it was only the beginning for this team, and marveled at how far they had come in a year. Wouldn’t we? We’d have gathered up our feel-good stories and memories of the year and said, next year they’re making it all the way. Disappointed, but feeling so proud of our Metsies and the great strides they took. Right?

But if it had gone that way, maybe other things would have been very different this year. Without the cold ending to his postseason and poor WS, Cespedes might have gotten his $100 million contract elsewhere.  Perhaps if Murph didn’t complete his major league record home run tear, he wouldn’t have looked for an expensive long-term contract and maybe taken a year or two here until Dilson was ready. (Think I’m reaching here for sentimental reasons—Mets were done with him.) Would David Wright still find the strength to keep up his iron man routine to fight through his spinal stenosis without that “most fun I’ve ever had in baseball” experience? Or would he be even more driven this year, not be patient enough to rest himself and land on the DL again? Such a lot of questions. This currents in time stuff is mentally exhausting.

The point is, nothing is a lock solid guarantee in baseball. Even that revered 1986 team, as totally dominant as they were, still needed harrowingly close come-from-behind miracle wins in two overtime game 6’s, and, according to Ronnie, a beer chaser, to seal the deal. It could have just as easily gone south for even them. So what’s to say this year’s Mets, even if they were pure and uncontaminated with a WS loss, could muster the will to go all the way, either?

Baseball schedules are meant to be wrecked, and the 2015 Mets so totally and irreparably destroyed Sandy’s carefully planned road to contention, that maybe it is just meant to be. Maybe those currents in time will swirl into the focal point of a 2016 Mets World Series Championship after all. Maybe these Mets are a team on the edge of forever. In any case, I’m not sure I would trade all that excitement, all those late nights, all those boys turning into men right before our eyes, or all that wonder in David Wright’s voice, for a more solid shot at a ring this year. I think it will be much more fun if it goes that way anyway, because, even with the zigzag path to greatness, I am convinced that we will witness greatness this year. It has already begun.

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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader Laura (Mookie4ever). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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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Featured Article: All In From The Start For 2016 Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/featured-article-all-in-from-the-start-for-2016-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/featured-article-all-in-from-the-start-for-2016-mets.html/#comments Mon, 04 Apr 2016 18:10:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208916 opening-day-baseball mets fans citi field

An MMO Fan Shot by Laura (Mookie4Ever)

Surviving as a lifelong Mets fan requires you to wall off your heart a little. You have to be cautious for your own sanity, because they will break your heart 14 out of 15 years. You naturally try not to get your hopes too high, so you can avoid the devastating lows that inevitably have come with this team.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda…. will drive you crazy, so when at all possible, you avoid looking back in too much painful detail. (I still have little personal memory of the 2000 WS games. Pre-Series hoopla, yes, actual games, no.) Similarly, you avoid looking too far ahead, too. Well, that strategy has worked for me in most years, anyway.

Which is why, with the Mets 7 games up and 22 to go last year, I was still telling myself, just enjoy the exciting ride, that watching meaningful September baseball was so much fun, that if they didn’t make it to the playoffs, I would be good with it.

As Gary and Ron and Keith started counting down the magic number using Mets uniform numbers, I was screaming NOOO! inside, fearing a jinx. Superstition goes along with this deal, of course, because of the decades upon decades of awful past disappointments and the Oh-So-Close finishes.

By the way, that little touch with the players’ numbers was my favorite part of the season to that point. It gave us a chance to share our connection to Mets history, and to honor all those guys, especially those we have lost. Little did I know then just how much fun and excitement was yet to come.

But here’s the thing about rooting for the NY Mets. It only gets really great and memorable when you go all in. When you give them your heart and really hang on for the ride, the magic truly happens, for me, anyway. It’s always a huge risk, but just like in love, no risk, no reward.

And so, of course, I finally did unwall my heart, and it was truly a magical journey. It seemed like we didn’t get more than 4 hours of sleep a night for the whole month of October into November, all while in a state of continual adrenaline rush, with all those heart attack postseason games. And of course, we did get our hearts broken in the end. But it was different last year, I actually was good with it — eventually.

First came the awful first week of grieving, actual physical grieving (to be honest it was probably mostly adrenaline withdrawal), to the point that I felt like I needed to have a little cry to get past it. I have to tell you, I haven’t cried over a sports team since I was a teenager with the ’73 Mets and Rangers, so this came as a shock.

Then, I painfully stumbled through various other stages of grief, from denial in the early morning hours of insomnia, to wallowing in the highlight videos, to the Hot Stove obsession, to finally watching MLB’s World Series Film, and my own brand of acceptance. You know, they really were so close in every game….

With this weird and wild offseason culminating in signing Cespedes, the crazy fun loose spring training, and the young stud pitchers looking so damn good, the rollercoaster is happily cranking up the hill again. Except, I’m hoping it’s more of a freight train ride like 1986. The Mets are finally ready to throw down and work their way back to finish what they started last year. The defending National League Champion New York Mets, that is, thank you very much.

I’m so excited for 2016 real baseball to start. First order of business will be to watch Matt Harvey and a quietly seething Mets team teach KC about the dangers of rubbing opponents’ noses in their past failure. Never before has the opportunity to settle Unfinished Business come so soon for any two World Series opponents.

This year, I’ll be all in from start to finish, hoping to hang on for another wild ride to the World Series with a happier ending this time. All aboard! #LGM

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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader Laura (Mookie4ever). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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 Fan Shot: Baseball… The Family Game http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mmo-fan-shot-baseball-the-family-game.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mmo-fan-shot-baseball-the-family-game.html/#comments Sun, 03 Apr 2016 17:14:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208927 girl father first pitch

An MMO Fan Shot by MetsFanInParadise

The love of baseball runs through families. It’s passed from grandparent or parent to child. The bond baseball can form between between a father and child can be a special thing. It’s often portrayed in various art forms, and sports can be one medium across which the bond is built. The recent publicity about Adam LaRoche and his son is proof of this. One of my favorite movies is “Frequency,” which uses the 1969 World Series as a plot device, as a son tries to save his father’s life via a magical radio connection.

This will be the first baseball season I won’t be able to share with my father, Charles Martin Rosenblatt, who died a few weeks after the World Series ended last fall. Like many of us, the love of the game was passed down through the generations of my family, though it wasn’t a shared love to the extent that it is in some families.

As children, we think of our grandparents as, well, grandparents. The word often conjures up magic. Our memories of them are the sum of the hugs we sometimes didn’t get from our own parents, of kitchens smelling like sweet baked goods or savory holiday meals, of birthday and holiday cards with checks or $20 bills in them, and, for my generation anyway, of the rare airplane trip to Florida to visit them in Miami Beach-during the school year if you were REALLY lucky. We would return with exotic stories of Monkey Jungle and Sea World, airboat rides and alligator wrestlers But we don’t necessarily think of them as people, with complex personalities and relationships, particularly with their own children, our parents.

As I got older and understood the friction between my father and his parents, it made sense that Grandpa Abe was a Yankee fan, while my father grew up bleeding Dodger blue. I wouldn’t have been surprised to find that it had been an intentional choice on my father’s part, to oppose his father. The Dodgers had moved west before my arrival on this earth, which was almost simultaneous with the Mets taking the field for their first Spring Training. (In fact, the start of Spring Training is annually my greatest birthday gift.) By that time my father, like most NY-Metro area NL fans, had transferred his allegiance to them and eventually it found its way deep into my soul.

We only went to one Yankee game with my grandfather. It was in 1970 or 1971. I know that because it was Bat Day. Can you imagine giving out usable wooden bats to a stadium full of children today? Not miniatures, but right-sized for kids to use competitively. My brother was fortunate enough to get one with Bobby Murcer‘s autograph stamped on it. Murcer was maybe the biggest name on those putrid Yankee teams of the Interregnum, between the wild Mantle-Ford teams, and the champion Bronx Zoo teams made possible by the advent of free agency and George Steinbrenner’s deep pockets and obsession with winning. Some of the other stalwarts of those late 60s-early 70s teams were Horace Clarke, Walt “No-Neck” Williams, and Roy White, a steady performer who was good enough to hang in there long enough to reach the mountaintop a few years later.

For a long time there was a Rodney Dangerfield element to me. The world didn’t seem to respect me, so it’s no surprise my bat carried the faux autograph of…Curt Blefary. Who? Lets just say the name didn’t fire my imagination. So rather than hitching my fan wagon to the Yankees’ star I puttered along as a casual fan, reading biographies of everyone from Stan Musial (my favorite, who received minor-league tutelage from Dickie Kerr, one of the few good eggs from the 1919 Black Sox) and the Splendid Splinter to New York icons Ruth, Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and more.

shea3

I watched and listened to whatever games my father put on the TV or radio, which consisted of Mets and World Series games, and we went to Shea from the Jersey suburbs periodically, whenever my father (or school, or summer camp) decided to get a trip together. But it wasn’t at my instigation. My baseball knowledge expanded incrementally in other ways, too. Everyone in my family shares a love of words, so we would play games like Hangman, and my father’s puzzles would sometimes consist of historical baseball players with unusual names, like Sibby Sisti.

So baseball was part of the background of my life until Aug 31, 1973, when my imagination was fired up by the battle cry, “Ya Gotta Believe.” From then on the Mets were a daily obsession, and of course the family was clustered around the TV for the entire postseason. Pete Rose, Bud Harrelson, Jon Matlack, Willie Mays, Mike Andrews, Catfish Hunter, Darold Knowles, and Reggie Jackson were some of the players who stood out, for better or worse.

In 1974 I started collecting everything Mets I could get my hands on — mostly freebies, because I had very little money. I stood in line when Rusty Staub signed photos at the Menlo Park Mall that winter, wrote to the Mets for decals and schedules, piled up the free portrait photos with reproduced autographs given out at the Getty gas stations for a summer or 2—I had stacks of Mike Philips, Doug Flynn, Skip Lockwood and Dave Kingman photos, and tried to collect at least one card from each year of the team’s existence.

One of my treasures was a 1962 Chris Cannizarro — the catcher Casey Stengel referred to as “Canzoneri” (a boxer of the time). I even acquired NYC subway car ads from somewhere.

subway ad

The family was breaking apart slowly, which seemed fairly common in the 70s, and I was unable to get us out to Big Shea as a group too often, but I remember a game in 1975.

It wasn’t hard to get field-level box seats at the time, the attendance was so poor, and they were only about $5.50, so I had a front row seat for the Expos’ Woodie Fryman‘s one-hitter against the Mets in 1975 a game which featured 4 former or future Mets in the Montreal lineup; Tim Foli, Mike Jorgenson, Pepe Mangual, and Gary Carter, in RF. John Stearns broke it up with a double. Fryman’s pitching coach that year? A former journeyman who had passed through Brooklyn at the start of his playing career so my father knew he had a noteworthy name—Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma (“Cal”) McLish.

Then I was off to college and pursuing solo adventures, such as driving in from Central Pennsylvania on Opening Day 1983 to find a scalper with a ticket and see Tom Seaver‘s return to the Mets. Getting my 1970 Plymouth Fury over the Poconos was an adventure in itself. I graduated in 1984 and, as previously documented, I went to quite a few games during 1986, but the only experience I got to share with my father that year was watching Game Seven of the World Series in my apartment. A few years after that I moved to Florida and my father stayed in NJ. For the next 15 years all we could do was talk about it.

In 2005 he finally decided to retire to Florida. All three of his children had moved down here in the interim, so he was very welcome. He came down in the spring and I found that the Mets would be here on his birthday, April 21st, so we (my brother also lives in this area) took him. The Mets won, 10-1, with Pedro Martinez starting and getting the win, and ex-Red Sox Doug Mientkiewicz hitting a grand slam in the second inning.

In 2006 we saw 2 or 3 games together. One was Aug 1, when Billy Wagner gave up a walk-off 2-run HR to Josh Willingham. I think that was the last regular season game we ever saw together in person (we also got to see them in Spring Training once or twice while the Baltimore Orioles were still based in Ft. Lauderdale-I never got up to Port St. Lucie until last spring). I fell on hard times for awhile, and my father found a girlfriend. He became a “snowbird,” spending the summer months in her home in Michigan. We watched games together, of course, either over the phone or on TV when he was in Florida, and talked baseball all the time.

Last summer’s glorious events went hand in hand with personal hardship and loss. During the Mets’ midsummer slog my father was rehabilitating from an automobile accident. Since he was in the Rehab facility where i work as Social Services Director, I was able to spend a lot of time with him and sometimes catch snippets of the games on my office computer. But by the time their turnaround seemed destined to land them in the postseason, the news had turned grim.

In August my father, discharged from Rehab and back on his feet, had gone belatedly with his companion to Michigan, to spend the end of the summer at her house. But the idyll quickly turned to tragedy, as he started to fall and lose the use of his right arm and leg, and he eventually checked himself into the hospital.

I was 6 rows behind first base on Sept. 5, the night Bartolo Colon made his famous behind-the-back flip. There was so much going on with our team that it would have been easy to be totally immersed in it: we were in between the 2 sweeps of the Nationals, and that was the weekend the controversy over Matt Harvey‘s innings limit hit the news. But it was also the night I found out about my father’s brain tumor.

The next couple of months were a blur. Trips to Detroit and countless phone calls with doctors were interspersed with “Tears of Joy,” but those weren’t the only tears I cried during that period. Since health care is my profession I took the lead in overseeing his care, signing forms and making arrangements to have him transported down here to spend his remaining time with his family. My brother and I watched playoff games with him in his hospital room in Detroit, and NLCS and World Series games with him from his Hospice room.

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He retained enough of himself to be able to croak “Lets Go Mets” as they won the pennant. I was hoping they’d give him a most satisfying send-off, but we all know how their story ended. Soon after, my father’s story also ended.

The Mets carried me through last fall, when my father’s illness and the responsibility for arranging his care could have overwhelmed me. But they brought me a joy that still gets me choked up. I wouldn’t have had the same passion for the game, and the team, without my father, who transferred his rabid loyalty to the Mets from the Dodgers like so many other fans of that time, and nurtured it in me.

Now another winter has passed, more quickly than most thanks to the length of our season. Baseball really is a microcosm of life, as many have written. It stirs when nature is doing the same; animals emerging from hibernation and new plants emerging from under the blanket of snow. It bursts forth in all its exuberance like the fruit and the fireworks of summer, echoed in the carefree freedom of children out of school.

It draws to a conclusion, strewing heartbreak for most and satisfaction for the few, as the harvest closes the chapter on the year’s productivity, and then all the equipment is put away and the long winter’s slumber comes round again. Baseball, like life, provides as many failures as successes.

Unlike the NFL, no team goes undefeated. Every team wins at least 50 games and loses at least 50. Unlike a field-goal or free throw percentage in basketball, a champion batting average contains twice as much failure as success. It’s a test of character; another thing we acquire, in large part, from our parents.

I’m expecting a fantastic season for the Amazins, capped by a more satisfying repeat trip to the Fall Classic. Every time I enjoy another “Happy Recap” I’ll think of my father with gratitude for helping me become the fan I am, and wish he was here to enjoy the season with me.

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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader MetsFanInParadise. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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 Fan Shot: What Mets Fans Will Miss About Daniel Murphy http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/mmo-fan-shot-what-mets-fans-will-miss-about-daniel-murphy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/mmo-fan-shot-what-mets-fans-will-miss-about-daniel-murphy.html/#comments Fri, 04 Mar 2016 13:38:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=207217 murphy collins

An MMO Fan Shot by  Laura (Mookie4ever)

Love him or hate him, Daniel Murphy left his mark on the Mets. He was a homegrown player, who was here through the dark years of sub-.500 teams, often providing the only bright spot at the plate to go along with his misadventures in the field and on the bases. Always entertaining, sometimes maddening, he was the perfect incarnation of a NY Met, ironically, because of his imperfection. He became our Murph and Oh Murph, a hardworking, blue collar underdog, whose fielding, mouth and emotions invariably got him into trouble, but whose pure hitting made our hearts sing.

2015 started off with a bang with the early 11-game winning streak, but by July looked to be more of the same old Mets. Of course, we know what happened next, and there was Murph, hitting .300 with 37 RBI smack in the middle of an unbelievable Mets stretch run. It was a wild exciting ride of a season that was a wonderful surprise to us Met fans.

Then he suddenly turned into a monster home run machine in the playoffs, putting the Mets on his shoulders to win the pennant. He even set a major league record along the way. Of course, we all know the fairy tale did not have the happiest of endings, with Murph right in the middle of that, too, but that doesn’t take away the magic of 2015. Now Murph has been replaced by a steady Neil Walker, seemingly a blue collar player himself, who will hopefully do very well here.

But still, many of us will miss Murph terribly. Here is my Top 10 list of things I will miss about him:

#10 Speed. He’s only got one, full throttle, all day, every day. We always got 100% of him every inning of every game. The Charlie Hustle of modern-day ballplayers.

#9 Defense. Making most routine plays and turning the occasional defensive gem, (see above, diving stop to end NLCS Game 1) unfortunately were obscured by his tear-your-hair-out errors. I always appreciated his aggressive effort on the field, even though it didn’t always work out.

#8 Courage. Standing tall in NYC. Owning every miscue like a man even while answering the same question posed in 15 different ways by the relentless New York media.

#7 Joy. Watching his face light up like a kid on Christmas morning whenever something wonderful happened, along with Tigger bounces. Lots of those last year!

#6 Passion. Seeing his “lion face” roar with fists up when he or a teammate made a great play or scored a crucial run. I always thought he was about to beat his chest like Tarzan but unfortunately never saw it happen. Lots of these last year, too!

#5 Clutch. The one player we looked for at the plate with a big hit needed. Usually delivered.

#4 Comfort. Knowing at least Murph would hit in most games, no matter how the rest of the team did. He can just flat-out hit, day in and day out.

#3 Buzz. Watching Daniel talk his way through a game was fun. From checking the location of each pitch with the ump, to chewing the ear off every defender he was near, he is a nonstop yakker every at-bat. I can only imagine how annoying he is to the opposing team. I guess the Mets will find out in 2016. And he is a walking sound bite. See Yowzers! and Above my pay grade.

#2 Filth. His dirty-from-head-to-toe-uniform showed us every day his hard-working, all-in attitude. He willed himself to play in the major leagues, kept himself there with his bat and whatever he had to do, learn new positions, or anything else his team asked him to do. There have been many, many below-average-defensive infielders that just faded away after a year or two. Murph made sure he would not with his commitment to hard work on the field and at the plate.

#1 Love. For his teammates, Mets fans, the game. Never once took credit for his major league record home run tear, giving it instead to his teammates and Kevin Long. Tugged at my heart when he said the best part about winning in the postseason was the gift of spending more time playing with the guys.

He obviously wanted to stay with the team, but after the Mets didn’t give him more than a sniff, and traded for Neil Walker, he had to do what was best for his family’s security. I feel bad that he will miss the raising of the pennant on opening day at Citi Field. Well, at least he doesn’t have to watch KC raise their championship banner.

Good-bye Murph, we will always think of you as a Met and welcome you back warmly when you visit. And good luck, except when you are playing the Mets. No one can ever take Murphtober away from you—or us.

(Photo: Anthony DiComo)

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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader Laura (Mookie4ever). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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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