Mets Merized Online » Albert Pujols Tue, 24 Jan 2017 03:58:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 3 Up, 3 Down: Bay Watch Thu, 21 Aug 2014 15:25:13 +0000 terry-collins-and-sandy-alderson-watch-bp

The Mets concluded their brief two game set against the Oakland A’s and yet again, walked away with a split.  To quote ACDC’s late Bon Scott, “I’m hot, and when I’m not, I’m cold as ice”.  That pretty much sums up this series, this season and this team.  Below is a 3 up/3 down review of how the Mets performed out in California the last two days.

3 Up

1. Lucas Duda blasted his 23rd bomb of the season dead to center field in yesterday’s matchup.  He is now tied for 4th in the National League in home runs.  Among National League 1st basemen, he is 2nd in homers and 3rd in WAR (3.2).  It’s also noteworthy to mention that as far as flashing the leather goes, Lucas is tied for 2nd, along with Albert Pujols, Justin Morneau and Adrian Gonzalez, in fielding percentage (.997).  While The Hulk has struggled to hit for average in August, he once again proves that slugging at a high rate (.625 in this series) can cure a lot of offensive woes for a struggling lineup.

2. Eric Campbell gets souped to play baseball.  The rookie utility man went 4 for 7 in this series (.572) and he was the first to get the Mets on board during yesterday’s onslaught by launching his third home run on the season to center field.  Campbell has quietly produced at a high rate despite inconsistent playing time, coming up with clutch hits, all while manning several positions defensively around the field.

3. Zack Wheeler bounced back against the A’s.  We all remember the last time Zack faced Oakland on June 25th at Citi Field, turning in arguably the worst performance of his young career.  He gave up 6 hits and 6 earned runs before being pulled with only 2 innings of work.  Wheeler once again showed maturity and grit, despite some borderline comical defense behind him.  This outing, the young gun went 5 2/3 innings and allowed only 2 earned runs (two others were scored on Daniel Murphy’s fielding error on a routine ground ball).  As Anthony DiComo of noted, Wheeler is 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA since June 30th.  The Mets have now won 7 of Zack’s last 10 outings.

3 Down

1. Dillon Gee continues to struggle since returning from the disabled list on July 9th, including Tuesday’s loss, which was his fifth straight.  Gee is by no means overpowering, he relies heavily on his command and his high baseball IQ to maneuver the ball in and off the plate and keep hitters off balance and guessing.  Prior to his DL stint, Gee was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, posting the 4th best ERA among pitchers with at least 175 innings as of May 30th, 2013.  Since his return, he is 1-5 with a 5.06 ERA.

2. Juan Lagares is slumping and he needs to bust out.  The Mets are lethargic in a lot of their decision making, but one thing they are quick to do is bench Lagares when he goes into a minor slump.  He is an unbelievably talented player defensively and has shown such vast improvements offensively from last year.  I fear that one bad streak will land him on the pine and derail his development through the end of the season because Terry Collins feels the need to choose someone else and “get them going”, or whatever generic phrase he uses in lieu of a specific, analytic response.  Lagares went hitless in Tuesday’s loss and didn’t get any at bats on Wednesday, hitting .107 in his last 10 games combined.  Hopefully it’s just a bit of fatigue and the rest will have him back to producing at a respectable clip.

3. Curtis Granderson is equally as responsible as David Wright for this teams power outage.  Granderson hasn’t hit a home run since July 26th and he’s slugging an abysmal .179 in the month of August, producing only 1 double and 0 triples.  He has been given ample opportunities to thrive, even owning the lead-off spot for an extended period of time in order to get his production up, but in reality he was paid to come here and protect Wright in the cleanup spot.  I can appreciate his professionalism, but fans can also appreciate seeing the team’s high rollers put some wood on the ball.


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Hits & Misses: Hawkins Outrage, Fred’s Pain, Jhonny Be Good, Cano Is Loco Tue, 19 Nov 2013 11:20:34 +0000 HITS N MISSES

latroy hawkinsMets Twitter was up in arms last night when the news broke about LaTroy Hawkins signing a a one year deal with the Rockies for what seems like a very reasonable $2.25 million dollars. It looks like Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd has got this moneyball thing down pat. He gets himself a closer for far less than the open market price of $12 million annually. The Mets don’t need a closer, assuming Bobby Parnell will be ready for Spring Training. But Hawkins for that price was still a bargain for a late inning reliever. Consider that the Mets were almost on the hook for $2.4 million on Brandon Lyon last season, but cut him a day before his incentive bonuses kicked in. Also consider the Mets shelled out $3.5 million for Jon Rauch the year before. Give the Rockies credit. They’ve been down this road before with Hawkins in 2007, and he rewarded them with a solid season in the thin air of Denver posting a 3.66 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP in 66 appearances. Fare thee well, Hawk…

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Detroit TigersAs we already reported yesterday, the Yankees have jumped into the pool of teams that are pursuing shortstop Jhonny Peralta. Andy Martino of the Daily News says that for the Mets, any rumor involving Peralta is bad news.  On a three-year deal, the 31-year-old is perfect for a team looking for a legit hitter, and an upgrade at shortstop.  Going into the offseason, there was some thought that Peralta’s Biogenesis suspension would reduce his value, but that does not appear to be the case. Martino sees Peralta as a test for the seriousness of the Mets front office. “An unexpected bidding frenzy would test the Mets’ budget, and willingness to re-engage in the hunt for real free agents, which they gave not done since the Omar Minaya years.” If the Mets get shutout on Peralta and Stephen Drew, they may just have to settle for Rafael Furcal who is a high injury risk, or resign themselves to another year of Ruben Tejada and Omar Quintanilla. Reyes Replacement Counter: 716 days and counting.

robinson canoWhere will Robinson Cano end up? (the Mets?) CBS Sports reported that the Yankees and their free agent second baseman are about $150 million apart in contract negotiations. Yes, you read that right. In comparison, the Mets and Hawkins were about $1 million apart. (Ducks) Cano is reportedly asking for $310 million over 10 years while the Yankees are offering about $160 million over seven years. I think Cano is out of his mind – or maybe it’s rapper Jay-Z who is filling his client’s head with these astronomical numbers. Cano is obviously the top free agent on the market and is coming off a fantastic season that saw him slash at .314/.383/.516 with 41 doubles, 27 home runs and 107 RBIs in 2013. But he’s 31 and is looking for a deal that will pay him trough 41. I think the best thing about that Albert Pujols deal was that it jolted the system and I don’t see GMs and owners ever duplicating that mistake again. Sorry, Robbie…

Finally, the Post caught up with Mets owner Fred Wilpon who said it was “painful” watching Mets games last season. The team’s owner was asked about the University of Michigan football team Monday and he responded: “What football team? It’s painful to watch that, but it was painful to watch a baseball game this year, too.” Hilarious… Trust me on this, Fred… I feel your pain… :-)


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Nationals Officially Announce Matt Williams As Their New Manager Wed, 30 Oct 2013 17:28:59 +0000 MW_photo_darker

The Washington Nationals officially named Matt Williams as the team’s manager on Thursday, agreeing to terms on a multi-year contract with the five-time All-Star and former Arizona Diamondbacks coach.

“I am thrilled to welcome Matt to our organization and am confident he is the best choice to lead the Nationals at this time,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “He is exceptionally prepared for the task. Matt came into the interview process already possessing an extensive knowledge of our organization: our roster, our Minor League system – and our fan base.

“He has genuinely creative, unique ideas on how to increase performance, and on cultivating leadership and team unity.”

Williams, 47, comes to the Nationals after four years on the Diamondbacks’ coaching staff, the last three as their third base coach. Williams becomes the organization’s fifth manager since baseball returned to D.C. in 2005.

“I saw first-hand the leadership qualities he possessed as a player, on the field and in the clubhouse,” said Rizzo, who was a part of the Diamondbacks front office for seven years before joining the Nationals in 2006.

“I think it’s great,” Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said of the hire. “He’s a younger guy who was a good player and knows the game. I’m looking forward to getting to know him a little bit… I don’t think we were too far away from where we needed to be, and I think we’re all looking forward to next year.”

As a player, Williams was no stranger to the postseason. He played on six playoff teams and appeared in the World Series with the Giants (1989), Indians (1997) and Diamondbacks (2001), winning a World Series ring in Arizona. He is the only player in baseball history to hit at least one World Series home run for three different teams.

In addition to his coaching duties with the Diamondbacks, Williams managed in the Arizona Fall League in 2012, leading the Salt River Rafters – which included several of the Nationals’ top prospects – to the AFL Championship Game.

Williams will replace the retired Davey Johnson.

Bench coach Randy Knorr will remain with the Nationals as their bench coach under Williams. He has had three stints on Washington’s coaching staff, including spending the last two years as bench coach under Johnson.

(Updated 10/31)

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Featured Post: New York Mets and the “Cardinal Way” Wed, 23 Oct 2013 17:18:04 +0000 st. louis cardinals nlcs champsWith the St. Louis Cardinals eliminating the Dodgers and reaching the World Series again, New York Times sportswriter Tyler Kepner claims it’s easy to understand why some people think of the Cardinals as the Yankees of the National League. Only the Yankees have won more World Series championships than the Cards. This fall’s World Series stop marks the fourth time the Redbirds have made the big dance since 2000 and eleventh time they’ve made the post season.

Although many might believe that kind of success is the stuff of a sustained run, Kepner explains how the Cardinal magic is actual the result of two different runs. runs ignited by two contrasting management philosophies.

From 2000 to 2006, the Cards built their championship teams around acquiring star quality players through trades. A major part of the ‘Cardinal Way‘ at that time was to use young minor league prospects as trading chips to bring in more established stars.

Interestingly, the Mets utilized a similar ‘big star’ strategy during that era incorporating both trades and free agency as their primary tools of acquisition.. Carlos Delgado did arrive in New York in 2005 in a trade for Mike Jacobs, Yusmeiro Petit, and Grant Psomas. Paul Lo Duca came by trade during a Marlin purge. “El Duque” was added in 2006 in a trade for reliever Jorge Julio, and Shawn Green joined the Mets in a trade for pitching prospect Evan MacLane.

The Mets were active in the free agency hunt for baseball talent as well. Big name players like Cliff Floyd, Carlos Beltran, Mike Cameron, Pedro Martinez, Tom GlavineBilly Wagner, and Kazuo Matsui were all procured through free agency signings.

Baseball’s new labor agreement and the advanced ages of many of their baseball stars helped the Cardinals change their management philosophy. That shift evolved slowly over time beginning about 2003-2004. Anticipating the consequences of aging stars and the new labor agreement, rather than try to obtain high octane baseball talents from other teams, the Cardinals made a concerted effort to start developing that talent through their own minor league system. For example, rather than give up future draft choices in trades for established talent, the Cardinals stockpiled draft choices for development in their own system.

The majority of Cardinals advancing to the World Series this fall are home grown. For the most part, only Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday came by signing or trade. Kepner adds that the Cardinals have used seven home grown pitchers in post season play this month that weren’t on the roster two years ago. Neither were three starting infielders; Mike Adams at first base, Matt Carpenter at second and Pete Kozma at third.

Kepner leaned heavily on comments from Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis in his piece. “They’ve got a system and it works. They have an organizational philosophy that’s obviously successful, and these guys keep coming in waves and waves and waves,” Ellis told him.

Ellis says the Cardinals look for young players with a similar make up, often college position players, sprinkle in a few high school prospects and go after young power pitchers they can develop.

Michael Wacha, the young Cardinal pitcher who has electrified the baseball world this fall, was a compensation draft pick the Cards picked up when Albert Pujols signed with the Angels.

As I read this fascinating article, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between the “Cardinal Way” and what appears to be the “Met Way.” The steps the Mets have made over the past three years share many similarities with those already put into place in St. Louis.

wheeler harveyThe Mets, too, have adopted an organizational philosophy of developing baseball talent from within. Like the Cardinals, the Mets have concentrated first on stockpiling power pitching arms they can develop. And, taking another page from the Cardinal management book, the make up of the prospects they select is a priority consideration.

One big missing piece for the Mets front office so far is the ability to execute the maneuvers needed to bring in those two or three position players who are difference makers, guys like Beltran and Holliday for the Cards. Many underestimate the impact two or three key bats can have on a lineup.

I’ll never forget the unbelievable start the Mets had in 1972 and then how they plummeted like a rock after Rusty Staub broke his wrist diving to make a catch in right field. Prior to Staub’s injury the Mets lineup produced. After Rusty went down the lineup was a powder-puff and promising pennant winning hopes evaporated into thin air. One or two added accomplished major league hitter’s can make the entire lineup better, even a lineup like the one employed by our Mets.

St. Louis owner, William DeWitt Jr. told Kepner that it’s one thing to have a plan and an entirely different matter to execute it. That’s a brilliant observation and one the Met management should consider seriously.

The addition of two or more ‘difference making’ bats in the line-up over the off-season will accelerate the Met rebuilding plan, a plan much like that used by the Cardinals built around home grown talent. Off-season moves of that sort would also be symbolic, a signal to an increasingly despondent fan base that the baseball improvement they have been promised is more than a plan, it’s a multi-faceted strategy that will result in competitive baseball and serious contention for post season play, now rather than later..

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Featured Post: Let’s Just See What Happens… Thu, 03 Oct 2013 19:28:07 +0000 wright 221 homers

It’s been quite a while since I wrote my last post. During that time, like most Mets fans, I’ve resigned myself to another season of mediocrity. The ownership is cheap, the general manager doesn’t care, the manager isn’t very good and the talent just isn’t there to compete.

Well the season has come to a end and already the fans are up in arms because “a team source” says that the Mets won’t spend big money on free agents and Terry Collins and his coaching staff are all coming back. So what can we expect but another year of uncompetitive dull baseball ?

Fans want the Mets to go after some big-name free agents and maybe package 4 or 5 young prospects for a “stud” like Giancarlo Stanton. Well, I look at it this way. Suppose before the 2013 season started, I told you that the Mets would finish the season with approximately the same record as the Blue Jays, Giants, and Phillies. Yes, those same Blue Jays who dealt prospects for three of baseball’s best starting pitchers (Dickey, Johnson, and Buehrle) and arguably the game’s most exciting player in Jose Reyes, the World Champion Giants and our arch-rival Phillies loaded with proven talent like Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Papelbon, Howard, Utley, Rollins, and an up and coming star in Dominic Brown. Now THOSE teams had disappointing years.

Last off-season, I thought the Mets should look into bringing back Lastings Milledge from Japan to provide some righthanded punch in the outfield. Instead, the Mets signed Marlon Byrd. I have to admit that was a much better move.

Of course, there were disappointments – Ike Davis for sure, Ruben Tejada, and Matt Harvey’s season-ending injury just when it looked like the Mets had their new Seaver or Gooden. Obviously, you aren’t going to win any pennants when guys like Mike Baxter, Andrew Brown, Omar Quintinilla, and Justin Turner get regular playing time, but I still have hopes that players like Wheeler, d’Arnaud and Lagares can be part of a bright future. I would have hoped that Collins gave more playing time to Flores so we could see if/where he might fit in. Most likely, he’s trade bait. I would have also liked to see Vic Black given more chances to close rather than LaTroy Hawkins, but it’s hard to fault Hawkins’ work. There will be changes for sure, but there is no quick fix, no matter how much the team spends. It’s easy to say that if you don’t compete for the big-money guys, you can’t win, but Oakland in particular, has shown that’s not necessarily true. And as far as replacing Collins, before the 2012 season, the Red Sox hired a “proven winner” in Bobby Valentine and they had their worst year in memory.

And by the way, Marlon Byrd had a better year than Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Hamilton, or Albert Pujols to name just a few. Projecting the team’s future with players like Montero, Syndergaard, Puello, Nimmo, and Dom Smith is fun, but probably meaningless. Let the Mets surprise us and become winners again. It may not happen in my lifetime, but if it does, it will be special. I have no trades to offer, no surefire free-agent signings, no master plan. As long as I’ve followed baseball and as much as I thought I knew, there’s no way I would have predicted that Chris Davis would be better than Ike or that Kyle Seager would be better than his more highly-touted college teammate, Dustin Ackley, who looked like a future star at UNC. And having seen a bunch of UNC games living in Chapel Hill, there’s no way I expected Matt Harvey to outshine Andrew Miller or Daniel Bard. Yes, I know I’m rambling and changing the topic, but after 50 years of following the Mets, it’s time to sit back and hope for the best and not think I know more about putting together a winning team than the men who are paid to do it. However the Mets can bring us a winner, I’ll be grateful for it when it happens. A fan is someone who supports a team through thick and thin. And I will stay a Mets fan.

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Featured Post: Patience Is Bitter…But It’s Fruit Is Sweet Tue, 02 Jul 2013 15:11:01 +0000 Patience was never really a word you would hear when it comes to New York fan bases. Now, possibly more than ever, Mets fans with the exception of a vocal minority are practicing patience with regard to their expectations for this franchise.

I know it’s tough to be a fan especially in New York and think “we’re almost there,” especially after 2006 – but the situation is what it is. I’m trying to embrace it and hope for the best rather than live in a constant state of negativity toward a baseball team.

Zack Wheeler is going to be the ultimate test for so many fans, and even the coaches and front office.

Control was always Wheeler’s biggest flaw, and what Wheeler becomes will be the truest form of evaluation for Dan Warthen. I didn’t even want Wheeler called up in 2013 because I feared the possibility of being sent back down to work on his control which could crush the kid. He’s here, he needs to stay here and Warthen needs time to work with him first before we decide anybody’s fate.

Everybody loves to mention the pitching coach when a pitcher fails. Nobody mentions that Dillon Gee, Bobby Parnell or even Matt Harvey when it comes to evaluating Warthen. The truth is, none of us know what impact he’s had whether it be positive or negative. With Wheeler, I think we’ll all be able to tell – but we have to be patient and allow him some time to actually work with Wheeler.

In my lifetime, nobody was better with his control than Greg Maddux. Maddux threw over 400 major league innings before he turned 23. His WHIP was a 1.42, and his BB/9 was a 3.4 with a K/9 at 5.4. In all reality, Maddux didn’t really figure it all out until he was 25 years old. From 25-37, Maddux’s BB/9 rate went down to a 1.5 with his K/9 rate jumping to a 6.5 paired with a 1.055 WHIP.

Isn’t it interesting that Maddux’s control success seemed to coincide with his arrival in Atlanta under pitching coach Leo Mazzone?

I’m in no way comparing Wheeler to one of the greatest pitchers of all time. However, I am trying to point out that control issues can be something a pitching coach can help a pitcher with and for Warthen there is no greater opportunity than with Wheeler. If Wheeler cannot get it together under Warthen, then it will be time to bring a new coach in.

For fans, the realization that not every young pitcher can be Matt Harvey out of the gate and that it takes time to figure out how to pitch in the big leagues. I’ve gone on record to say I think Wheeler should be the main trade chip to acquire Giancarlo Stanton, but if that cannot happen – then we need to be patient with him as he figures out a way to be a big league pitcher.

There was a lot of hype around Wheeler, there’s no denying that. The hype was created when fans and local media learned who Wheeler was on the day Beltran was traded. We all read the reports, and we judged the trade from that standpoint. I’d still make the trade happily, but I think some of us penciled him in as an automatic. The truth of the matter is, there’s nothing automatic about baseball players whether young or old.

If I told you that in 1,705 games Albert Pujols would hit 445 Homeruns, drive in 1,329 runs and hit with a 1.037 OPS you’d call him one of the greatest players to ever play the game. We all did. At 31 years old, names like Fox, Aaron, Mantle and Robinson were being tossed around when comparing Pujols in a historical sense.

Now, in 234 games he has hit 43 HR, driven in 154 runs and has an OPS of .822. An OPS of .822 isn’t really all that bad, but when you were on a path to becoming one of the greatest players ever – it’s borderline horrifying.

If Pujols isn’t a guarantee, then nobody is.

We as fans as well as the franchise itself need to practice the art of patience. Patience would have meant Nolan Ryan in a Mets uniform long term. Patience could have meant Heath Bell as the Mets closer during the two years the Mets desperately needed relief help. Patience is a funny thing, nobody likes to lose – but sometimes you need to go through some rough times before things get better.

The truth of the matter is, nothing Wheeler does or can do will turn this franchise around overnight. The Mets still need to figure out their 1B and SS situation, along with a long term solution in the OF.

The best thing for Wheeler right now is to continue to work, and figure out a way to get the talent that everybody says he has and translate it into a big league pitcher.

He doesn’t need to be an ace, he just needs to be an effective pitcher. His success is in all of our best interests, and so I hope everybody, fans, coaches and executives practice a little patience when it comes to Wheeler. Every bad outing doesn’t make him a hopeless cause, and every successful outing doesn’t make him Tom Seaver.

“Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy.”

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My Personal Attempt To Sabotage The All-Star Game Thu, 23 May 2013 10:50:01 +0000 721_-mlb_all-star_game-primary-2013It’s that time of the year again. Seven weeks into the season and we are being asked to vote for the 2013 All-Stars.

This week Cincinnati came to town. Now, imagine for a moment, if as you walked into Citi Field you were handed a ballot where you could choose which Reds you would want playing that day. Safe to say, we Mets fans would probably decide that Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce deserve a day off. We could have Jack Hannahan bat clean-up. Johnny Cueto? Are you kidding me? Of course not.

Why would we do this? The answer is obvious. We want our Mets to win.

Now, of course that would never happen. When do fans get to pick their opponent’s team? Unless, it’s the All-Star Game.

Growing up and becoming a fan in the 1970’s, the Mid-Summer Classic was a highlight of the season for me. It gave me a chance to see my baseball cards come to life. The game was steeped in tradition. It showcased the top talent in the game. It was an opportunity for America to see the best and brightest from each league battle for ‘bragging rights.’

Ray Fosse On Ground, Pete Rose StandingWe had the opportunity to see dream match-ups that only existed in Strat-O-Matic. We could watch our own Tom Seaver try to fan Rod Carew, a young cocky Roger Clemens trying to sneak a fast ball by Tony Gwynn, Charlie Hustle digging in against Catfish or Rickey Henderson challenging the arm of Dave Parker. Yes, this is what the All-Star Game was. And what it is meant to be.

As we all know the game regrettably has changed. League loyalty is gone. Not only do players not stay with one team for most of their career, but they have no qualms about switching leagues. Guys like George Brett, Mike Schmidt, Reggie Jackson, Jim Palmer, Willie Mays and countless others never would have dreamed about ‘crossing over.’ Nowadays, however, one doesn’t have to look far. Pujols, Cabrera, Fielder, Beckett, A-Gon have all switched.

And that’s fine. But in the midst of this, league loyalty fades away.

Yet, in 2003, Bud Selig elected to add a disturbing nuance to the ASG when he decided that the winner of a ‘meaningless’ game in July determines who has home field advantage for the World Series.

Obviously, thanks to the commissioner, the contest is no longer a simple platform to display the top stars. The game now has major significance, huge importance. The All-Star Game has a direct outcome on who may become World Champions. Since the inception of this rule a decade ago, the league that won the All-Star Game has gone on to win the World Series 7 out of 10 times. And the last four in a row. (The only exceptions were the 03 Marlins, 06 Cardinals and 08 Phillies.)

Now, being a NL fan, I obviously want the NL to win. And since this is the case, explain to me why I should vote for the top stars from the AL. Are you joking? I’m rooting for the NL—But yet I am supposed to vote for Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols and Dustin Pedroia and Torii Hunter??? The heck with that! I’m going to vote for the worst hitters I can find, some guy from Seattle or Kansas City I never heard of. I’m supposed to vote for Ian Kinsler or Howie Kendrick when Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis is on the ballot? Come on people. Get real.


And since Commissioner Selig has turned this exhibition game into something of great significance, I, as a NL fan, want the best NL-ers out there. Since the point is to win, why does every need need to be represented? Why does every player need to get one at-bat? Why are the managers equally concerned with making sure every player gets in the game as they are with winning the game? Since the purpose is to win, I better see Buster Posey and Bryce Harper out there the entire night. I want to see Kershaw for 8 and Romo to close it out.

When Giants manager Bruce Bochy set his line-up for game 4 of the World Series last year, he didn’t decide that perhaps Pablo Sandoval needed a day off. He didn’t elect to give Posey a rest and put Hector Sanchez behind the plate. He put his best team on the field. Why? Because it was a must-win game…just like the All-Star Game has become.

Now, of course, this would never happen. Dodger fans would be up in arms (and rightfully so) if their ace “wasted” a start in the “meaningless” All-Star Game. But really, how meaningless is it?

So, as a Baseball fan, I will vote for the 2013 All-Star Game. But as a Mets fan, and as a fan of the National League, I will be voting for the worst the American League has to offer. And I will continue to do so until Selig reinstates the Mid-Summer Classic to what it was and what it should be: A traditional setting where fans could sit back and enjoy the best our National Pastime has to offer.

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Can Ike Davis Still Save His Career? Wed, 15 May 2013 15:52:34 +0000 ike-davis

One of the more frustrating things so far about the 2013 season for the Mets, has to be the ongoing struggles of first baseman Ike Davis. Many of us including myself, were simply salivating of the thought of a breakout season for Davis this year, especially after the way he ended the 2013 season leading the National League in home runs and RBIs.

With the exodus of Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols to the American League, some even envisioned a possible All Star berth along side Joey Votto at Citi Field for the Mid-Summer Classic.

All those glossy expectations are now out the window and instead of celebrating a great season for our first baseman of the future, we are left wondering if Ike Davis will be a part of the solution or the future at all. Trade rumors and speculation are already abounding.

Manager Terry Collins can’t make up his mind what to do with his struggling power hitter and after vowing to leave him in the cleanup spot for as long as it takes, he was dropped to the seven spot of the order two days later.

Andrew Kahn, who has written for the Wall Street Journal, Newsday and ESPN, sheds some light on the matter in a comprehensive article today which you can read here.

Using Baseball-Reference’s “Similarity Scores,” he gathers a list of players who compared with David through their age 25 seasons. Among them you will find Carlos Delgado, Mo Vaughn, Eric Karros and David Ortiz to name a few.

However, the key difference between Davis and the other players in the chart, he writes, is that they had a breakout season. “A year in which they performed close to how they’d perform over the rest of their career at age 25 or 26.”

He tackles the question I posed in the title, and does a good job of concluding that if Ike Davis is ever going to be the player we all thought he would be and thus save his career, then this is the year to prove it. Read Andrew’s full article here.

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Featured Post: Should Pitchers be Fitted with Protection While on the Mound? Wed, 24 Apr 2013 18:21:03 +0000 jon nieseLast night, while watching the highlights of the Mets game, I saw the comebacker that struck Jon Niese on the right leg and caused him to leave the game.

He was later diagnosed with a contusion, which for the Mets sake is good news. At the moment of impact on his right leg, I thought to myself that something needs to be done to protect the pitchers.

The mound to home plate is 60 feet 6 inches away and without any protection the pitchers are sitting ducks. There isn’t anything that can truly protect them other than their glove and their ability to react when a ball is headed right towards them. They are even lucky if they can see the ball as it is coming towards them probably faster than it was thrown to the batter.

Last night on Twitter I tweeted:

Now it can be argued that there is no way a pitcher will be able to pitch with gear on, that it will be uncomfortable, but what else can be done. If they had a hat that was more like a helmet, it may protect them from getting hit in the head, but their face is still exposed, so what about a face mask. Football players who are running all over the field and moving more so than a baseball pitcher wear face masks, now they are not dodging a baseball, but they are still protected from most head injuries. Now obviously a pitcher wouldn’t have a hug helmet on but a small hat(helmet) with a face mask could be constructed to help protect the pitchers. It would be awkward at first and probably even be uncomfortable, but it would protect the pitchers and give them peace of mind while on the mound.

John Olerud used to wear a helmet when he played the field to protect his head because of a brain aneurysm he had in college. Now Olerud’s reasoning may be a bit more severe then just protecting pitchers, but it makes sense that a team would want to make sure that their pitching staff has a chance to protect themselves. Which organization would be the first to implement the idea, and do whatever is necessary to protect their players? It isn’t something that happens every game, but when it does, it can mean the difference between life threatening or career ending injury.

Now helmets may not be the only protection that can be created for a pitcher, they can also wear padding that maybe is fitted inside their uniform pants, or even padding on their arms. Once again, we are messing with something that may hurt the pitchers mechanics, but it can be something they can implement into their routine where it becomes a part of it. I thought this all sounded foolish to think about until I looked it up and found a quote by Tim McCarver during the 2012 World Series game between the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers when Tigers Pitcher Doug Fister was struck in the top of the head by a ball off the bat of Giants batter Gregor Blanco. As reported on an ESPN article back on Feb 17, 2013, Tim McCarver stated:

“I never thought this before this year, but I think baseball is going to have to resort to helmets for pitchers like catchers wear.”

This kind of thinking may be to the extreme, but how else can the pitchers be protected. The incident during the 2012 World Series was not the first time a pitcher has been struck by a line drive to the head. There was a game in 1957, as also noted by the same ESPN article on Feb 17, 2013:

Pitching prodigy Herb Score of the Cleveland Indians took a shot off the bat of the New York Yankees’ Gil McDougald to his right eye. His blurred vision would eventually improve, but Score’s budding career was effectively derailed.

The accidents don’t just affect the pitchers that are hit; it can also affect the batter and stay in their minds for a long time. There isn’t anything different that a batter can do to prevent it from happening, but the end results of the injuries can affect the way a player approaches the game in the future.

One of the most horrific accidents to happen on the baseball diamond was when Oakland’s Brandon McCarthy suffered life-threatening injuries when a line drive hit by the Los Angeles Angels’ Erick Aybar struck him in the head. McCarthy had to undergo emergency brain surgery because he suffered a brain contusion, epidural hemorrhage and skull fracture. McCarthy was very lucky to even be able to come back to pitch, which is totally a miracle.

I read online that some have thought that putting padding in the caps would be the fix, but once again, that would only protect the head, what about the face. On May 21, 2008, Albert Pujols hit a line drive that struck Padre Pitcher Chris Young right between the eyes. It was noted that Young suffered a skull fracture and broken nose, so just adding padding to the hat would not have helped Young at that time. But doesn’t mean it isn’t an idea worth looking at.

When a pitcher is on the mound, not only is he the center of attention during the game, but he is also at the wrong place when a ball is headed right up the middle of the diamond. Based on the way a pitcher finishes his delivery which depends on which hand he pitches with, he may fall to the left or right side of the mound, but at that moment that he is falling, and unaware of it, a ball may be quickly cruising right towards him and the only reaction he may have is to put his glove or bare hands in front of his head and face. There is no guarantee that he will be quick enough to prevent the impact, but if he had something on for protection, he may have a better chance of avoiding major injury, which would be a great boost for his confidence to help get him back on the mound. It only takes one major hit on the head to end a career, so the proper protection may be worth looking into.

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Fantasy Baseball Alert: Injury News To Know Before Your Draft Sat, 23 Mar 2013 16:00:42 +0000 automotivator(2)

March is fantasy baseball draft month, and with only a week left, leagues are beginning to finalize and finish their drafts. The fantasy baseball season officially kicks off on Opening Day, which is a little over a week away. Over the past week or two, a number of high caliber players have gone down. Here is some injury news to be aware of as you head into the final week of drafting, as some of the injured players may start the season on the disabled list.

Hanley Ramirez
Ramirez needs surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb and will be out for eight weeks. He injured himself in the World Baseball Classic championship game against Puerto Rico. The eight week timetable puts him at a possible mid-to-late May return, but more likely early June.

Advice: Hanley’s fantasy value obviously takes a massive hit. Luis Cruz appears to be the leading candidate at shortstop, with Dee Gordon still a possibility as well.

Chase Headley
The Padres’ third baseman is out with a small fracture on the tip of his left thumb. The estimated time for his return to action is 4-6 weeks, which could mean a possible, early May return.

Advice: Headley will likely slip in drafts, and if he is still sitting there in round five you may want to consider scooping him up. Headley finally hit on his potential in 2012; I would grab him and stash him on your DL until he is ready.

Mark Teixeira
The first baseman has an to the tendon sheath in his right wrist, which is the same ailment Jose Bautista dealt with last year, which required surgery.  GM Brian Cashman recently estimated that Teixeira has about a 70 percent chance of avoiding surgery. If he has an operation, it would end his season.

Advice: Teixeira will likely not return until June at the earliest.  Keep in mind if you draft him, you are taking a chance, because if he ends up needing surgery, he will likely be done for the season. Kevin Youkilis has seen time at first base this spring, as well as Juan Rivera.

Zack Greinke
The righty threw 43 pitches over four scoreless innings in a minor league game Wednesday, and following the outing stated that his arm “felt really good… It felt strong.” With only two more exhibition outings scheduled, on March 25 and 30, he could potentially line up to make his Dodgers’ regular season debut on April 5.

Advice: I would draft Greinke as you had originally planned. He is on a powerhouse team, and appears to be healthy enough to start the season. Worst-case scenario is that the Dodgers take a cautious approach with their hefty investment, and he misses a couple starts to begin the season.

Albert Pujols
Prince Albert is recovering from offseason surgery on his right knee, as well as dealing with plantar fasciitis. He said he felt “great” during his first spring start at first base on Tuesday, and at this point it appears he should be firing on all cylinders come Opening Day.

Advice: The Angels would rest Pujols for the remainder of the spring, if it meant he would be ready to go on Opening Day. Right now, he is easing back into action, which is a good sign. As long as the knee is healthy, he will be good to go. He has dealt with the plantar fasciitis for the last 6-7 years.

David Ortiz
The lefty slugger is still dealing with a heel issue and is slated to begin the season on the disabled list. Right now, there is no clear timetable on when he will be ready to go.

Advice: Big Papi cancelled a scheduled batting practice on Wednesday, and it appears that once he comes off the disabled list, he will need a rehab stint. Anticipate him coming off the DL by mid-April, at the earliest, followed by a week or two rehab, which puts Ortiz at a possible late April, or early May return.

Derek Jeter
The Yankees captain will not appear in another Grapefruit League game this spring due to his balky ankle. The Bronx Bombers want to have the ability to backdate a disabled list stint if he is not ready to go on Opening Day. In the meantime, Jeter is expected to play in games on the minor league side of camp at some point next week. Not playing in major league games gives the Yankees the ability to backdate his DL stint if need be.

Advice: Anticipate a 15-day DL stint to start the season. The Yankees will not rush their captain, and risk losing him for a longer period, especially with all the injuries they currently have to key players.

Carl Crawford
Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said earlier in the week that he believes Carl Crawford will be ready for Opening Day. The speedy outfielder has finally progressed to live game action, and picked up a pair of hits and an RBI in Monday’s tilt with the Diamondbacks.

Advice: At this point, he has yet to play in the field, which is a hurdle that will need to be climbed before he’s cleared for Opening Day. I’m not so sure I share the same optimism as Colletti. I believe this is a rushed attempt to return for Opening Day, and I expect some DL time for Crawford this season.

Post any questions you may have regarding injuries or possible replacement players, and I will respond throughout the day. Check back on Monday as I will be posting about possible sleepers, closer battles, and some prospects to keep an eye on.

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Reyes, Pujols or Fielder? Wed, 25 Jan 2012 17:45:12 +0000 The Eagle has landed. The last of the “big” Mohicans, Prince Fielder, has finally agreed to a mega-deal and now has a new home in Motor City… Rah, rah, or better yet, vroom, vroom…

So now that the dust has settled, here is an interesting question first posed by Mets historian and ESPN New York statistician Mark Simon who asked via Twitter:

Lets look at all three deals up close and personal:

  • Jose Reyes - The Miami Marlins signed the 2011 NL Batting Champion to a $106 million, six-year contract.
  • Albert Pujols - The Los Angeles Angels signed future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols to a $254 million, ten-year contract.
  • Prince Fielder – The Detroit Tigers signed the former Brewers’ mega-star to a $214 million, nine-year contract.

So for all of those Mets fans who were going ballistic or rolling on the floor laughing over the largess of the Jose Reyes deal, which of these three deals would you consider to be the best value and the least volatile in terms of potential for disaster?

Yeah, that’s what I thought too….

Seems to me like the Marlins got themselves a bargain now that all is said and done.

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MMO Exclusive Interview: NY Mets Josh Stinson RHP Thu, 19 Jan 2012 15:33:02 +0000

Some big positives that can be taken from the NY Mets 2011 season were the contributions, and emergence, of some promising young players that were called up from the minors. During the year, the Mets relied heavily on players like: Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, Dillon Gee, and Justin Turner. And in September, we got to see some very interesting pitching performances, by righties Chris Schwinden and Josh Stinson. I caught up to Stinson this week, and despite a very busy off-season he was good enough to provide us with some awesome insights, and answers to a whole bunch of interesting questions! Let’s see what Josh had to say:

Petey:  We are chatting today with Josh Stinson of the NY Mets. First of all Josh, congratulations on a terrific season in 2011! Although it started out as a struggle, you worked your tail off, overcame adversity, and were rewarded for your efforts with a promotion to the Major Leagues. To be called up to make your debut in the ‘Show’ must have been an unbelievable thrill! Thank you so much for sharing a little of your time. The readers at will really enjoy getting to know a little bit about one of our newest Mets! When the Mets drafted you out of Northwood High School, in Shreveport, LA, in the 37th round of the 2006 MLB Player Draft, how did you first hear about it, and what was that feeling like? What round were you thinking you might be taken in? Were you planning on going to college, or did the Mets change your mind and convince you to sign?

Josh:  Well originally the Mets told me I would be drafted on the first day around the 4th-7th round. After the first day had passed and I wasn’t drafted, I had personally made up my mind that I was going to Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA to get a nursing degree. I found out I was drafted while I was sitting at my house and my parents just happened to look at the draft. I originally thought I was going to college because I didn’t think the Mets were going to be able to give me enough money, and also pay for my college. But they came back and offered me the 4th-7th slot money that they promised me, and paid for my college so it made my decision a lot easier.

Petey:  Is there one person, a coach, a friend or family member, or even another player, who you learned the most from, or who inspired you to chase your dream of becoming a major league baseball player?

Josh:  There are actually two people who have inspired me to reach for my dreams. First, there is my father Randy, who from the age of 3 to even now, has been my coach. He taught me everything I know about baseball. How to play the game, the fundamentals, sportsmanship, and playing at 110% all the time. Then there is my mother, Connie. She was the one at home giving me the encouragement, making sure that I made good grades in school, cooking meals, and providing me with anything that I needed for baseball.

Petey:  Tell us a little bit about your arsenal. What pitches you throw, at what speeds, and are you working on any new pitches moving forward?

Josh:  I throw a 4-seam fastball, a sinker, a change-up, a curveball, and a slider. I am not working on any new pitches at this time, just trying to fine tune my pitches. I am also working being able to locate all my pitches to anywhere on the plate, and any time.

Petey:  Quite a bit of happened for you during the 2011 season, some good, some not-so-good, and some great. When you arrived at AAA Buffalo for the start of the season, you earned a spot in the starting rotation, but got off to an uneven start, and you struggled to the tune of a 3-7 record with a 7.44 ERA, your walks were up, and strikeouts were down. On June 22nd the Mets sent you down to AA Binghamton, to work on your command, and you pitched out of the Bingo bullpen. Sometime over the next month, you made some adjustments and started throwing the ball really well. The rest of the season in AA you went 4-3 with a 3.99 ERA and your walks were down and strikeouts were up. What happened? What did you start to do differently that resulted in turning your season around?

Josh:  This year was a very up and down year for me. I originally started the year in Binghamton because all the late moves in camp moved me down. After two starts, they sent me up to Buffalo. I think the biggest thing that effected me there was the pure fact the I wasn’t being aggressive. I wasn’t pitching with the attitude of “I am better than you and I am going to beat you, this is my job, and you aren’t going to take it.” When I was sent back to Binghamton to be in the bullpen, I found that attitude again. I believe it was mostly because of the adrenaline that you get when you are warming up in the bullpen and then running on the field. Being a reliever is a lot more fast paced. You have to warm up quickly, go in and execute pitches in tight situations, keep your nerves. At this time in my career, I would have to say I prefer relieving over starting.

Petey:  By the end of the Eastern League season, you were throwing the ball so well that the Mets called you up to the big leagues for the first time on September 1st, when the rosters expanded. When you got that call to the big leagues, it must have been an unbelievable thrill! What was it like? How did they inform you that you were headed for the “big stage?” What was your first thought at the time? Did any one player, or players, go out of their way to welcome you to the Mets?

Josh:  Getting called up was one of the best experiences in my life. We were in Erie and it was raining all day so we didnt have to get to the field till 4 pm. When we were on the way to the field my pitching coach called me and told me when I got to the field I needed to come to the office. So right away I thought man that is weird, I’ve been throwing the ball well and hadn’t been doing anything I wasn’t supposed to do. When I walked in the office, my manager Wally Backman, told me I was being called up, and to go up there and show them what I’m about. My first thought was that I had achieved my goal of making it, and now the new goal is staying there. All of the guys in the (Mets) clubhouse were very welcoming. It was a very easy transition because I was around a lot of the guys in spring training.

Petey:  You got 13 innings in for the Mets in September over 14 games, going 0-2 with a 6.92 ERA, and picked up your first big league save. You pitched quite well, much better than the numbers indicate, as you gave up nine out of your ten earned runs in just three of those 14 games. You were so impressive, in fact, that Sandy Alderson recently expressed confidence in you, and feels you are a viable bullpen option for the Mets heading into next season. How did your big league experience prepare you, and motivate you for the coming year? What do you need to work on to maximize your opportunity to make the big league club coming out of ST in 2012?

Josh:  I believe my experience in September helped me realize I have to execute my pitches everyday. I have to keep that attitude of “I’m better than you,” even when I’m facing the best in the world. Being there in September also helped me realize I can pitch at this level. This year I am going to work on going after the hitter a little bit more aggressively, trying to lower my walks, and like I said earlier being able to locate my pitches on both sides on the plate.

Petey:  Was there any one hitter you have faced so far in the majors, where you said to yourself, “Oh-my-gosh, I can’t believe I’m about to pitch to this guy!” What happened in the at-bat?

Josh:  The one guy that I faced where I was kind of star struck would have to be Albert Pujols. He is one of the best in the game. In that at bat I was ahead of him 1-2, and threw a couple of pitches trying to get him to chase. We went to 3-2 and I threw a good slider, he hit it directly in the ground in front of the plate and it bounced probably 40 feet in the air and went over Wright’s head into left field for a single. It was probably one of the weirdest hits I gave up because most of the time if someone hits the ball into the ground like that it would be a slow roller to 3B but this time it hit something in front of the plate and went into left field.

Petey:  Yeah, Albert’s pretty good. Let the American League deal with him for a while. What kind of things do you do to stay in shape over the winter, Josh? Can you describe your workout regimen? Did you play any winter ball?

Josh:  I did not play winter ball this year because I had a lot of innings for a reliever, because of starting earlier in the year. As far as staying in shape, I am working out 5 to 6 times a week. I do upper body and shoulder routine twice a week, and I do lower body twice a week. I do some type of cardio everyday whether it be biking, long distance running, or sprints. I also started throwing the first week of January to get my arm in shape for spring.

Petey:  What was your favorite baseball team growing up? Is there someone at the big league level, past or current, that you think you are similar to you in style, and the type of stuff you throw?

Josh:  My favorite team growing up was the Texas Rangers because of growing up in Shreveport, LA. That was the closest team to us. I’m not sure who I would compare to. I just try to go out there and be the best I can be.

Petey:  Fair enough. To finish up Josh, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie? Favorite musician or band? Favorite food?

Josh:  My favorite movie would have to be Step Brothers. My favorite musician is Jason Aldean. My favorite food would have to be a good steak.

Petey:  Thanks again Josh for being so kind as to participate in this interview! Our readers at MMO will really enjoy it! Enjoy the rest of your time off, and we’re looking forward to seeing you on the “bump” at Citi next year!

It sounds as if Josh’s big league experience in September was a very useful confidence builder, and that he is wisely using it as a measuring stick moving forward. His eye-opening performance with the Mets, puts him squarely in the bullpen mix for CitiField next year, and it will be very interesting to watch his continued development.


Here’s an interesting interview by Statsgirl14 with Josh shortly after he was called up to the bigs:

Interview 9/14/2011

For more of my player interviews, and some other cool stuff, click here.

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Angels And Marlins Pace Winter Meetings. Thu, 15 Dec 2011 13:25:54 +0000

Each year, Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings are the best time for teams, executives, and agents to make deals, whether they’re free agent signings or player trades. After the busy week finishes amongst some of the most powerful figures in professional baseball, a lot of the most sought after free agents have either been re-signed to their original team, or find a new home for the next few years. This year at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas, two teams made bigger splashes than the others: the Miami Marlins and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

I think that the biggest shock for not only the Winter Meetings, but for the entire off-season thus far is the willingness of the Miami Marlins front office to open their pockets and court the biggest free agents of the winter. The organization made three major signings, agreeing to terms with closer Heath Bell (3-years/$27 million), shortstop Jose Reyes (6-years/ $106 million), and starting pitcher Mark Buehrle (4-years/ $58 million). In a span of about a week, the Marlins spent $191 million. That’s a heck of a lot of money, considering the organization has never been known to be a big spender and sells off most of their old talent once they’ve become too expensive.

The payroll in Miami will be jumping to over $100 million for the first time in the team’s history, quite a large increase from the 2011 payroll of $57 million. So, how in the world can the Marlins afford these top tier free agents all of a sudden? Well, as most of you know, they will be opening up a brand new, state-of-the-art stadium right in downtown Miami. Tim Kurkjian reported on ESPN this week that the Marlins are not only getting out of one of the worst leases in the MLB with the opening of their new stadium, but they are projecting to sell a lot of tickets this year and beyond, creating a new revenue level they’ve never been able to achieve before. So, instead of waiting until they reach that point to spend money on free agents, they have decided to do so now, creating more excitement to the team. The one thing that makes me suspicious is that none of these contracts includes no trade clauses, and when they were courting Albert Pujols, they wouldn’t bend on their stance. In my eyes, it is because of their past fire sales once they won their two World Series titles in 1997 and 2003. They have successfully created more excitement; now it will be a question as to whether it puts people in the seats and if these big time free agents stay in Miami for the length of their contract.

The other team that made a big splash at the end of the Winter Meetings was the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, by singing first baseman Albert Pujols (10-years/ $254 million) and starting pitcher C.J. Wilson (5-years/$77.5 million). LA was rumored to be linked with Wilson for most of the winter, mostly because he is originally from Southern California. Before Angels GM Jerry DiPoto swooped in and signed Wilson, his agent proclaimed that his pitcher was less than an hour away from signing with the Marlins…imagine if they signed him too?

Overall, I think that Wilson fits in nicely with the Angels, and partnering up with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana, they form one of the scariest pitching rotations in the league. The bigger surprise was the organization’s ability to steal Albert Pujols from re-signing with the St. Louis Cardinals. There were some whispers going on around the league that Pujols wasn’t too happy with St. Louis for a number of reasons, and it seemed to be enough of a problem not to re-sign with the team that he won three MVPs, two World Series titles, and spent 11 seasons with. So, the new Angels first baseman will be in SoCal for the next decade, signing the second most lucrative contract in MLB history. LA’s payroll will be projected at $140 million for 2012, much higher than the front office anticipated, but owner Arte Moreno felt that signing these players and spending $331.5 million this off-season would pay dividends.

The next step is to actually play…these signings are great, but like the Red Sox learned last year, you don’t win championships on paper, but on the field. It will be an interesting 2012, that’s for sure!

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It’s A Good Thing Pujols Isn’t A Marlin Thu, 08 Dec 2011 23:08:51 +0000 So Albert Pujols is heading to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the next decade, which is great news for Mets fans. Pujols had been heavily courted by the Miami Marlins before deciding to head out west.

Though the Mets will have to deal with Jose Reyes within the division for the next six years (or at least until the Marlins trade him away like they do all their star talent), no Pujols in the division is a big plus.

Albert Pujols

Granted, the current Marlins first baseman, Gaby Sanchez, is becoming synonymous with Pat Burrell in being an ultimate Met-killer. But then again, Pujols is Pujols.

The Marlins order is already going to be difficult to pitch to with Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison, Hanley Ramirez (if he stays) and now Reyes. Just imagine if “The Machine” was placed right in the middle.

Since many Mets fans have already given up 2012 and possible 2013 (I haven’t just yet), the non-Pujols signing may not be felt until the Mets are competitive once more, whenever that may be.

Pujols to the AL makes the most sense since he’ll have the option to DH in the latter stages of his career. It will be weird when the Mets play the St. Louis Cardinals to not see Pujols in the middle of the order.

The Marlins have been the talk of the league, bringing in Reyes, former Met Heath Bell and lefty Mark Buehrle. However, adding Pujols would have made them the hands-down favorites in the NL East.

While the Mets may not have much of a shot at the division title this year, not having to deal with Pujols in the division when the team does become relevant again is a big win.

Indirectly, Pujols signing with the Angels could be the move that most affects the Mets this offseason, except of course for the Reyes deal.

In Alderson we trust? You be the judge.

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Angels To Sign Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson Thu, 08 Dec 2011 16:06:46 +0000 Wow, hang onto your checkbooks, the Los Angeles Angels have just agreed to a deal with Albert Pujols that is worth a reported ten years and $250-260MM according to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. The deal includes a full no-trade clause.

Pujols, 32, was drafted by the Cardinals in 1999 and it’s been the only team he’s known during his tremendous 11 year career which includes a Rookie of the Year award and three MVP awards. According to MLBTR, Pujols ranked no worse than ninth in the MVP voting in every season of his career and has averaged 155 games per season.

Pujols led the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title this fall — his second with the team.

That’s not all…

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Angels have also completed a deal with free agent starting pitcher C.J. Wilson.

It’s a five-year, $77.5MM contract, according to ESPN’s Karl Ravech.

* * * * * * *

Albert Pujols will probably get more than the Mets payroll combined for the next four years.

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A Look At “Unbreakable” Records: Barry Bonds’ Seven MVP Awards. Tue, 25 Oct 2011 19:12:19 +0000

Being labeled as being the most valuable in any aspect of life is a pretty special occurrence. It’s not every day that you or I get an honor like that, and the same goes for professional sports. There have been plenty of players in Major League Baseball that have extraordinary careers and get elected to the Hall of Fame, yet either fail to win an MVP award or possibly just win one. When a player has the honor given to him more than once, then we have a special athlete on our hands.

There have only been 29 players in Major League history that have won multiple league MVP awards, with only 10 of those 29 winning the award three or more times. Barry Bonds is in a club by himself since he won the NL MVP award an astonishing seven times. The three-time winners include: Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Joe DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, and Mike Schmidt.

Even though I’m from the school of thought that Barry Bonds took performance enhancing drugs during the later part of his career, being named the best player in your respective league for 31% of your entire career is pretty amazing, especially since the last four times he won the award, he did so consecutively.

I can only imagine what it would be like if Bonds accomplished all that he did in his career without using performance enhancing drugs. He is the all-time and single-season home run leader, with 762 and 73 home runs, respectively. He finished with a .298 career average, 1,996 RBI, 514 stolen bases, 2,935 hits, 2,227 runs scored, and 2,558 walks (another record). Along with his seven MVP awards, he holds 12 silver slugger awards, eight gold gloves, and was selected to the All-Star game 14 times.

If I look at these statistics without knowing the name of the player and I was asked whether this player is a Hall of Famer, I would say yes without a hesitation. However, with the PED cloud following him for the rest of his days on this Earth, I’m quite positive that he won’t even come close to getting the necessary 75% vote needed to be inducted into the Hall- and I don’t want him in there.

Being in the Hall of Fame is an honor and those who cheated to get ahead of their competition (McGuire, Sosa, and Clemens also come to mind) don’t deserve to be honored with the best players in the history of the game. It’s too bad because before Bonds started putting up these ridiculous power numbers, I would have considered him a Hall of Famer anyways. Do you think he should be inducted in Cooperstown?

The last question I ask every week is a simple one: can this record be broken? I actually think there is a small chance. I don’t think A-Rod will be winning anymore of these as he’s entering his late-30s and is already showing signs of slowing down. However, Albert Pujols has the opportunity to challenge this record because he’s such an amazing player that he is somehow involved in MVP discussions on a year-in-year-out basis. Who do you think has a chance to challenge this record?

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Bring On The Hot Stove! Fri, 30 Sep 2011 01:43:19 +0000 Not even a few days have passed since the last out was made in the New York Mets 2011 season and at least for Met fans – the Hot Stove is about to be stirred. I was annoyed at how Jose Reyes’ season came to an abrupt end – the blow thankfully softened by the fact that He is now the first player in Met history ever to win a batting title.

His bunt single didn’t bother me in the slightest as it did to some fans. In fact for a leadoff hitter, it’s almost fitting for Reyes to go for the drag bunt single. However I was one of the many fans, including the SNY broadcast booth, who sat stunned as Reyes left the game right after his bunt single.

I think it’s safe to say that every Met fan would have loved to have seen Reyes at least take the field the next inning. Terry Collins, calling time, could have sent Justin Turner in a slow deliberate jog out to relieve Reyes – providing the fans and Reyes a chance for some mutual appreciation.

Cue the theme music from the movie The Natural and the crowd would have eaten it up.

Ok I admit it’s a bit cheesy and maybe we’ve been conditioned by Hollywood to expect and believe in these melodramatic moments. Maybe it’s just because as a franchise we haven’t had a whole lot to cheer for the last few years. Maybe it’s just splitting hairs when unfortunately it’s all that we have left to do.

Either way and for whatever reason or whoever is at fault, I think like many situations involving this team, this too could have been handled a lot better. But what’s done is done and it’s time to once again move on.


Will Jose Reyes get his chance for that roaring standing ovation in 2012….as a Met? All season we’ve speculated what Reyes’ agent will demand for his now 2011 NL Batting Champ. Let’s assume that Reyes and the Mets cannot come to an agreement; where does that leave the organization? Alderson isn’t the type to allow negotiations to go on ad-naseum so if a deal isn’t likely to happen soon it probably won’t happen at all.

If the team simply isn’t willing to entertain the idea of signing a player to a multi-year, close to one-hundred million dollar contract, then this is moot. But if they are then it begs a question, what about the real 800 pound gorilla in room, Albert Pujols?

Here’s is my reasoning on this, and I know I’m assuming a lot but hey, that’s what the Hot Stove is all about. If the Cardinals cannot for whatever reason sign Pujols, and the Mets pass on Reyes, should the Mets throw their hat in the ring and try to land Pujols?

Pujols is a player that any GM would salivate over having. He absolutely fits Alderson’s criteria. He’s a power bat with the ability to drive in runs and get on base and yes, an absolute marquee name that will undoubtedly fill the seats. He’s not young but he’s not necessarily over the hill either at 30.

The last marquee 30 year old the Mets acquired will most likely enter the Hall with a Mets hat and the title of being the greatest hitting catcher of all time. And perhaps more importantly, unlike the uber-fragile Reyes, Pujols has been healthy the majority of his career and is clearly a Hall of Famer if he were to hang up his cleats today.

If the Mets are willing to give Reyes at least 18 million a year for 5 years would they be willing to go to 22 to 25 a year for Pujols, with the question being how long? Does it make sense signing Pujols who can alter this team in ways that Reyes can’t?

Would coming to New York entice Pujols or are both free agents more likely to simply return to their familiar settings in the end? Perhaps Reyes’ quick exit on the last game of the year shouldn’t be worried over as much as it has?

So many questions and so many possibilities it’s going to make for an exciting Hot Stove this Winter. One thing is sure at least from my perspective, if we do lose Reyes and not replace him with someone of substantial substance; it’s going to be a long road ahead. What say you?

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Take An Inside Look at an MLB Front Office Fri, 29 Apr 2011 16:15:34 +0000 There generally tends to be a lot of mystery surrounding an MLB front office. Fans know that they are responsible for signing free agents, making trades, and gathering information, but they do not know how it was done.

I was recently able to sit down with Cardinals’ Assistant General Manger Michael Girsch, Baseball Development Analyst Chris Correa, and team Arbitration Lawyer Hal Welford after they gave a presentation on statistical modeling in baseball.

The casual fan does not realize how much the front offices do to try to model any decision that they will be making. Some of these models are very accurate while others are just used to give the front office a good sense of what is going on.

One of the first things that a front office does is look to project the net annual cash flow of any player they sign. To calculate this they look the player’s production minus their salary. They use a discounted cash flow model to try to determine the player’s production value. For the Cardinals, this value is determined by the player’s Runs above Replacement value. They then discount it by using calculations of how much a win today is worth versus a win in the future.

For a team like the Royals, with their strong farm system, a win in two years is likely worth more to them then a win now, while with a team like the Yankees, a win today is worth a lot.

Each team has a different dollar amount that it plans to spend for each run above replacement level. This is generally impacted by market size.

In addition to these calculations, the teams are also looking toward calculations that they will be able to do in the future. One thing in development that will provide much more data is Field F/X. This is a system that uses hundreds of cameras to take hundreds of measurements a second. This system will be able to give front offices information about location, speed, and direction of every player and the ball at all times. In turn, this will allow teams to see things such as whether or not an outfielder consistently gets a good jump on the ball.

Even with all this data, the best analytics may only provide a slight edge. Part of this is related to the fact that there have become more teams who are taking a deeper look at the numbers. According to Correa teams with a large analytical department can still have an advantage. He stated this is because, “most teams have few guys working with data”.

However, the competitive advantage of using statistics has changed since it was revolutionized by Billy Beane and the Moneyball strategy. Now, according to Girsch, there are “fewer mispricings in the market. The quality of data available now versus the ‘90’s is so much different. On-base percentage is no longer undervalued”.

Some teams have even chosen not to have an analytical group in their front office. The Twins don’t have one and yet they are able to compete because they have very strong scouting and player development.

Another interesting topic that came up during the presentation was the arbitration process. It was noted that for relievers, their salary is driven by saves, holds, and ERA and that for starters, wins played a large role in addition to awards they have won.

When it was asked why sabermetrics are not used in this process, Welford noted “many arbiters are either economics professors or lawyers, not baseball fans. The information needs to be toned down”.

In addition, Welford said that fan appeal is a factor in the arbitration process, but more so for pitchers. He mentioned the example of Fernando Valenzuela. He said “More than 10,000 fans showed up when he pitched regardless of whether it was at home or on the road. He had a significant impact on the gates”.

From there, the conversation branched off into a conversation about how Clayton Kershaw and David Price could redefine the arbitration market. Ben Nicholson-Smith brought up this concept earlier in the week over at MLB Trade Rumors.

Welford said that the market for these two would be incredibly difficult to establish. He said that “both will be compared to Tim Lincecum and even then, it is still hard to use that as a comparison. If they go year to year, that is very different than the two your deal Lincecum got”.

The conversation then moved toward scouting. When I asked about the impact of luck and stats such as BABIP, Correa said that they are looked at very differently depending on the level. He said, “we don’t really used BABIP (for hitters and pitchers) much in the MLB because we have a lot of batted ball data. However, it is very useful when it comes to evaluating players in the minors, college, or even high school”.

This is not the only time where there is a difference between the majors and other levels when it comes to statistics. It was asked if sabermetrics, Pitch F/X, and scouting reports were used in combination to make determinations about players. Girsch noted that this is done during the draft because it is “a discreet event and we can combine data”. However, he also stated that it is much harder to do at the pro level “because your looking at that data and the information can change between April and June”.

Finally, the questions moved onto information relating to the Cardinals. A question was asked about how Adam Wainwright would be evaluated since he has already established that he has superstar potential but his future is now uncertain. Correa said that the team uses a model to project a player’s ability when they return from specific injuries.  According to Girsch, the team has also developed models that “try to pick out injuries to a pitcher based on injury history, fastball velocity, and mechanics”. However, Girsch also stated that these models are not that great but they are still useful. He also said that the team even attempted to model Matt Holliday’s return from his appendectomy but there was not even data available.

The last set of questions was related to the topic that is on everyone’s mind in St. Louis: Albert Pujols.

Pujols means so much to the city and has so much intangible value. However, it could not be modeled by the front office because according to Girsch, the team “doesn’t have analytics for that. We try to talk to ticket sales and marketing, but there are not enough examples like Pujols to actually do any analysis”.

Then, I asked the big question about Pujols’ value and future production. Girsch responded by saying, “It’s really hard. We try to develop an aging curve using all players in the past fifteen years and use that. We can try to limit it to just All-Stars.  However, every guy is unique. He could be like Frank Thomas and just drop off, or like Barry Bonds and miraculously get better with age, or he could be like Hank Aaron and stay consistent as he gets older”.

The team has also stated that it will not talk about the Pujols contract situation.

It is my belief that it is more about if the owners decide to open up their checkbook to pay Albert what he wants than anything else. The number that they guys present really doesn’t matter because Albert will be able to get what he wants out on the open market.

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Totally R. A. D. Pitcher To Get Totally Rad Award! Mon, 04 Apr 2011 04:54:53 +0000 The New York Mets announced they will hold their annual Welcome Home Dinner to benefit the Mets Foundation this Sunday, April 10 at 6:00 p.m. at the New York Hilton Hotel, located at 53rd Street and Seventh Avenue. For more information visit or call (718) 803-4074.

Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins, coaches, and all 25 Mets players will be in attendance.

Pitcher R.A. Dickey will receive the Ya Gotta Believe award, named for former Mets pitcher Tug McGraw. After being the first player cut during spring training in 2010, Dickey finished the season with an 11-9 record and a 2.84 ERA, seventh-best in the National League.

“It’s been a long journey for me,” said Dickey, Sunday’s winning pitcher who is scheduled to start the Mets’ 4:10 p.m. home opener against the Washington Nationals this Friday, April 8. “My wife Anne always wanted me to continue to play. She didn’t want me to have any regrets.”

The Ya Gotta Believe award is given annually to a Met who has shown an exceptional commitment to the community, fortitude in overcoming adversity, and the spirit to believe that anything is possible.

Original Post 3/3 8:00 PM

R A Dickey 20 game winner? Okay, I’ll calm down now. I know it was only one game and after 6 IP it’s way too soon to claim Dickey will become the Mets first 20 game winner since Frank Viola in 1990. But how can one not be impressed by his performance today?

Pitching in the middle of our rotation, Dickey will usually face mid-line starters from other teams, avoiding the Cliff Lee’s and Tim Lincecum’s of the world. This could work in his favor.

Although 5 of the 9 runs we scored today were unearned, Dickey quieted the Marlins bats, allowing just 5 hits and fanning 7 while allowing 0 earned runs. 69 of his 106 pitches were strikes.

One thing we all love about the Mets is that it’s always the little guys, the ones you don’t expect, who seem to emerge from the shadows. In 2006, it was utility outfielder Endy Chavez who defined an entire season with one catch. In 1986, in spite of having guys like Gary and Keith and Darryl, it was an outfielder who had less than 400 AB’s that hit the most famous ‘slow roller’ in baseball history. It was not rookie phenom Doc Gooden who dominated in 86, but rather a crafty lefty acquired from Boston named Bobby Ojeda. Ojeda, who at age 29 was the oldest starter on the team, was 18-5 and team leader in ERA. In 1973, we had ‘The Big Three.’ Seaver, Koosman and Matlack were perhaps the most feared trio in Baseball at the time. But it was George Stone (who???), a career 500 pitcher, who went 12-3 to post the best winning percentage on the team. As the Mets prevailed in one of the closest pennant races ever and won just 82 games, Stone won his last 8 decisions.

Could Dickey be the next unsuspecting star to rise to the occasion?

In 1906, Lew Hicks became the first pitcher to throw a baseball by gripping it with his knuckles. It was 2 years later when a rookie named Eddie Cicotte mastered the pitch. And for over 100 years the knuckleball has baffled and bewildered hitters. From Babe Ruth to Hank Aaron to Albert Pujols, the knuckler has sent batters walking back to the dugout shaking their head. Of approximately 300 pitchers in the majors today, only two are classified as knuckleballers.

Hitting guru Charlie Lau, the man who taught George Brett to hit and one of the greatest minds in baseball history, stated, ‘There are two theories on hitting a knuckleball. Unfortunately neither of them works.’

After floundering in both the majors and minors for well over a decade, in January 2010 the Mets signed the aging star with a career 5.43 ERA. The transaction received very little attention. What followed was Dickey becoming the Mets top pitcher last season. His 2.84 ERA was 7th lowest in the NL, 10th overall in Baseball.

It was Dickey himself who once said, ‘Charlie Hough told me he learned to throw the pitch in one day and spent a lifetime learning to throw it for strikes.’

Congratulations to R A for giving the Mets our first series win of the new season and on his first victory of the year. Here’s to 19 more…and a summer of surprises in Flushing.

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Could A Cardinal Sin Become The Mets Salvation? Thu, 17 Feb 2011 02:08:58 +0000 Albert Pujols is undoubtedly one of the greatest players the game of Baseball has ever seen. It simply goes without question. If dominance was a person he would look like the chiseled Latin Superman that is Pujols. Today, he and his agent Dan Lozano, turned down St. Louis’ contract extension.

The terms of the deal, at least according to the tight lipped Cardinal hierarchy of General Manager John Mozeliak and Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., will stay a closely guarded state secret. Speculation has it that Pujols’ agent was looking for a deal in the range of 10 years at 30 million per. I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if it was even higher – somewhere around 40 million per.

The move by Pujols agent, to set the first day of Spring Training as the self imposed deadline to negotiate a new contract, was absolute genius. Pujols is firmly cemented in the drivers seat and if there is anyone who will have this looming over them, it most certainly will be the St. Louis executives who most likely, have set in motion Albert Pujols’ slow and deliberate exit from the St. Louis stage.

Enter the Wilpons. Or Mark Cuban. Or The Donald. Or whoever else will be the last man or men standing when the wake of Madoff makes it final slice into American history and into the wallets of the Wilpons. If by sheer foolishness, the Cardinals can’t meet Pujols demands, what better marquee player could the Mets have than Albert Pujols?

What better player to rehabilitate a franchise? He would be a game changer the same way Steve Phillips who at the behest of Nelson Doubleday, made Mike Piazza the face of the franchise in the latter half of the 90’s and into the 2000’s.

Of course that was then, and this is now and unless there is a major cosmic alignment on multiple fronts, starting with ownership, the possibility of this happening is utter fantasy.

Just think of this. How incredible would it be as a fan? Could ownership ( whoever it may be ) afford whatever Pujols is asking? Who would wear number 5?


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Odds Are Albert Pujols And Cards Will Agree On Extension Tue, 25 Jan 2011 14:00:39 +0000

Updated Post 1/25 2:00 PM

Here is an update from Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors on the Albert Pujols situation. We last left off with Pujols essentially giving the Cardinals until the start of spring training to agree to an extension, otherwise he will end all negotiations and test free agency after the season. It seems that most MLB executives believe the Cards will get something done.

MLB executives, owners and agents told’s Jayson Stark that they see Albert Pujols agreeing to an extension with the Cardinals between now and Spring Training. And the deal will likely make Pujols one of the richest players in baseball history. The sides figure to agree to a deal worth $240MM over eight years, in the estimation of Stark’s sources.

If Pujols does hit free agency after the season, it will be a complete free for all for his services and will even include teams that may be seemingly set at the first base position.

In addition to getting the best player in the game, the signing team will also reap the rewards of packed stadiums as Pujols begins to knock down long held baseball records and continues his march toward the Hall of Fame. The marketing revenue alone should be able to pay for the totality of the contract as will sales of jerseys and other team attire and accessories.

Original Post 1/16 1:30 PM

Derrick Goold who covers the Cardinals for the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported via Twitter that the agent for Albert Pujols has notified the Cardinals they have until the start of Spring Training to agree to a new deal or he will become a free agent after the season.

Cardinals General manager John Mozeliak confirmed the report, but refused to say how negotiations were going and sounded less than optimistic.

“We don’t want to sit here and handicap or guess or kind of give any type of gut feels where this thing is headed right now,” Mozeliak said. “In respect to that that is all I can really add to this topic at this time. … I don’t think it will benefit anybody for me to weigh in at this time. We have been notified that spring training would be the deadline.”

Pujols had made clear that he did not want negotiations to spill into the regular season, and he also did not want the questions to leak into spring training. It gives the Cards about a month to get this resolved or risk losing the face of their franchise.

It’s hard to conceive Albert Pujols donning another teams uniform, but I’ve said the same thing about Ken Griffey Jr. in Seattle and more recently Doc Halladay in Toronto. It happens.

Unless the Cardinals come to terms on a new deal with Pujols in the next 28 days, he will become a free agent after the 2011 season.

If Sandy Alderson wanted to put his stamp on this team, what better way than to bring Albert Pujols and all of his star power and immense ability to Flushing, Queens?

With close to $60 million dollars coming off the books after this season, the timing, the temptation, and the money will be there to make it happen.

At age 30, Pujols is in his prime and by far the most complete ballplayer in the game. Yes, the Mets have Ike Davis in place, but when someone of this magnitude becomes available, you strike a deal and figure that other stuff out later. It would be no different than when the Mets traded for Mike Piazza even though they had a young catcher by the name of Todd Hundley who had just hit 71 home runs and collected 200 RBI’s in the last two seasons. Besides, Ike Davis was a right fielder in college and maybe he can finally fill the spot that has been a revolving door since Darryl Strawberry (read this post by Ed Leyro) became a free agent and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Hey, I know this is purely speculation and that the odds that the Cardinals drop the ball on this are pretty slim. But the beauty of baseball is discussions just like this one. Wouldn’t Prince Albert look pretty amazin’ in royal blue pinstripes?

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