Mets Merized Online » Bobby Bonilla http://metsmerizedonline.com Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:16:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.16 All-Time “He Was Good Until He Went to the Mets” Team http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/all-time-he-was-good-until-he-went-to-the-mets-team.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/all-time-he-was-good-until-he-went-to-the-mets-team.html/#comments Fri, 15 Jul 2016 16:00:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=217606 jason bay

“He was good. Until he went to the Mets.”

If you’re a Mets fan, there’s a solid chance you say or hear that sentence at least ten times per year. The Mets have had several notable occurrences of “He Was Good Until He Went To The Mets” syndrome over their five decades of play, and countless players have fallen prey to it.

When the Mets turned 50, they released an “All-Time Team” to remember the greats who wore the orange and blue. But if you’re a die-hard Mets fan, you know that the greats are only half of the story. For every Keith Hernandez, there’s a Mo Vaughn. For every Mike Piazza, there’s a Jim Fregosi. For every… you get it.

So now we have an all-time “He Was Good Until He Went To The Mets Team.” This team was built with the players at each position who had the best careers prior to a lackluster stay with the Mets:

Catcher - Yogi Berra

After Berra was fired as Yankees manager in 1964, the Mets immediately scooped him up as a player/coach. Many people don’t even realize that Berra played for the Mets– albeit for four games in 1965. He went 2-for-9, and retired after striking out three times in a game for the second time ever on May 9. The American icon went on to coach and manage with the Mets for the next decade, including in a memorable run to the World Series in 1973.

First Baseman - Mo Vaughn

Vaughn looked like a potential Hall of Famer when he played for the Red Sox and Angels. From 1993-2000, an average season for Vaughn was .305/.394/.552 with 35 home runs and 111 RBI. But it was all downhill after the 2000 season. He missed all of 2001 with a torn bicep and was traded to the Mets for Kevin Appier prior to the 2002 season.
While Appier won 14 games and helped the Angels win the 2002 World Series,

Vaughn did little for the Mets. His first year with the team was far below his pre-injury averages– albeit not awful. He batted .259/.349/.456 with 26 home runs and 72 RBI. However, he played in just 27 games in 2003 and missed all of 2004 with a career-ending knee injury. The Mets paid him $46 million dollars over these three seasons to play in just 158 games.

Vaughn is perhaps best remembered by Mets fans for his weight issues; despite once weighing 225 pounds, Vaughn had skyrocketed to 275 pounds when he was with the Mets. This led to many an angry call into “Mike and the Mad Dog.”

Second Baseman - Roberto Alomar

Alomar has a plaque in Cooperstown today, but it’s safe to say this has little to do with his time on the Mets.
Much like Vaughn, Alomar was acquired from the Indians during the 2002 offseason to revitalize the team. The Mets would be acquiring a 32-year-old player who had made 12 consecutive All-Star teams and won 11 consecutive Gold Gloves.

Both of these streaks ended once he came to the Mets. Alomar batted just .266/.331/.376 in 2002, and after putting up similar numbers the following season, was traded to the White Sox in July of 2003. Alomar played just one more season before calling it a career.
The trades for Vaughn and Alomar helped end Steve Phillips’ time as GM of the Mets, who was fired in 2003.

(Dis)Honorable mention #1 - Carlos Baerga

Baerga was the first second baseman since Rogers Hornsby to record consecutive seasons of 200+ hits, 20 home runs and 100 RBI when he did so in 1992 and 1993. After he was traded to the Mets in 1996, he never reached any of these plateaus again.

(Dis)Honorable mention #2 - Luis Castillo

Castillo won three Gold Gloves with the Marlins, yet is best remembered as a Met for failing to catch a pop-up. Enough said.

Phillies vs Mets

Shortstop: Kaz Matsui

Matsui is a legend in Japan, where he batted .309/.362/.486 with 150 home runs and 306 steals from from 1995-2003. This 2003 scouting report on ESPN.com called him “More talented than Hideki Matsui,” and the “Best all-around player [in Japan] since Ichiro left.”

So when Matsui decided to take his talents to America, the Mets signed him to a three-year, $20 million contract prior to the 2004 season. The team was so confident in his abilities that it moved highly-touted shortstop prospect Jose Reyes to second base to make room for Matsui.

Unlike the other Matsui in New York at the time, Kaz failed to meet expectations. He batted just .256/.308/.363 in three injury-plagued seasons with the Mets. He was traded to the Rockies in June of 2006. He spent the next four seasons with the Rockies and Astros before heading back to Japan in 2011.

In case you’re wondering, Matsui still plays in Japan for the Rakuten Golden Eagles, where he batted .256/.324/.366 with ten home runs and 48 RBI in 126 games last season.

Third Base - Jim Fregosi

Before the days of David Wright, the Mets struggled to find an everyday third baseman throughout much of their early history. In fact, they had eight different starting third basemen from 1962-1971.

The Mets hoped to put an end to these woes when they acquired Jim Fregosi from the Angels in December of 1971. Fregosi was a six-time All-Star with a bWAR of 44.8 and an OPS+ of 119 from 1963-1970. But a down season in 1971 made him expendable for the Angels, who traded him to the Mets for some young pitcher named Nolan Ryan.

Unfortunately for the Mets, the man bought in to be the third baseman of the future had a short and forgettable stay in Flushing. He batted an abysmal .233/.319/.328 with five home runs and 43 RBI in 146 games in 1972 and 1973. The Mets’ search for a star third baseman would continue until Howard Johnson made his debut with the team in 1985. Meanwhile, Nolan Ryan went on to throw over 5,000 strikeouts and seven no-hitters en route to the Hall of Fame.

Outfield - Jason Bay

After a season in which Daniel Murphy led the Mets with just 12 home runs, the Mets were in desperate need of a power hitter. So they signed Bay to a four-year, $66 million contract. Bay came to the Mets with seven consecutive seasons of at least 20 home runs and 80 RBI, and was coming off a season in which he hit 36 home runs and 119 RBI with the Red Sox.

In three years with the Mets, Bay hit just 26 home runs and 124 RBI. He batted just .234/.318/.369, and had his contract terminated prior to the 2013 season.

Outfield – Vince Coleman 

Coleman stole 549 bases during the first six seasons of his career with the Cardinals. He is one of just four players in the modern era to steal over 100 bases in a season, which he did three times from 1985-1987.

It looked like the Mets were signing the next Lou Brock when they signed him in 1990. What they got was one of the biggest embarrassments in team history. Coleman, who played with the Mets from 1991-1993, never played more than 100 games in a season.

Aside from the disappointing on-field performance, his off-field behavior was even worse. He was gone for good after he was charged with felony a firecracker at a group of fans at Dodger Stadium, which injured three people– including a two-year-old girl. Prior to this dubious incident, he injured Dwight Gooden by swinging a golf club in the clubhouse and had been suspended for feuding with manager Jeff Torborg.

willie mays

OutfieldWillie Mays:

The “Say Hey Kid” was traded to the Mets in the middle of the 1972 season. Mays was 41 at the time, and was hardly the player he used to be. He hit just .238/.352/.294 in 135 games with the Mets from 1972-1973 to finish out his career.

Unlike many of the players on the “He Was Good Until He Went to the Mets” team, Mays is still looked at with reverence by the organization and fans, so much so that his No. 24 jersey has remained mostly out of circulation since he retired.

(Dis)Honorable Mention #1 - Bobby Bonilla

Many Mets fans would probably put Bonilla over Mays on this list, but from a purely numerical standpoint, Bonilla was actually not awful. He made two All-Star teams in four seasons while he recorded an OPS+ over 120 in each of his first four years with the team.

(Dis)Honorable Mention #2 - George Foster

Much like Bonilla, Foster didn’t live up to the hype of his five-year, $10 million contract, the second-largest in baseball history in 1982, but still put up decent numbers. Foster had at least 20 home runs in three of his five years with the Mets and had two years with a WAR over 1.5.

(Dis)Honorable Mention #3 - Duke Snider

Snider was a Hall of Famer and fan-favorite in New York as a Brooklyn Dodger before the team relocated to Los Angeles in 1958. He came back to New York in 1963 when he was sold to the Mets, where he batted .243/.345/.401 with 14 homers and 45 RBI in his only season with the team.

New York Yankees v New York Mets

Starting Pitcher - Pedro Martinez

Pedro signed a four-year, $53 million dollar contract with the Mets in December of 2004. This represented a new era in Mets history, and was a major factor in persuading Carlos Beltran to sign. However, he contributed little on the field after the first year of his deal.

Martinez’s first season with the Mets was electrifying, as he went 15-8 with a 2.82 ERA and a league-leading 0.949 WHIP and 4.43 strikeout-to-walk ratio. After this season,Pedro would never make more than 24 starts in a season again, and recorded a 4.74 ERA throughout his remaining time with the Mets. A healthy Pedro could have made all the difference in 2007 and 2008, when the Mets were eliminated on the last day of the season.

Starting Pitcher - Tom Glavine

Glavine was one of the best pitchers of his era with the Braves, and was pretty solid with the Mets as well. He went 61-56 with a 3.97 ERA during his five seasons in New York. But he will always be remembered for his performance on the final day of the 2007 season, when he allowed seven runs in one-third of an inning to the last-place Marlins. Not a good time to have the worst start of your career.

Starting Pitcher - Warren Spahn

As a Brave, Spahn averaged 20 wins from 1947-1963. But after going 6-13 with a 5.29 ERA in 1964, he was sold to the Mets.
Much like Berra, Spahn had an oft-forgotten abbreviated cameo with the Mets in 1965. He was purchased and given both a spot in the rotation and the title of pitching coach.

Spahn had won 356 games prior to joining the Mets, and still believed that he could get to 400 wins when he joined the team. This proved to be a fruitless endeavor, however, as the 44-year-old went just 4-12 with a 4.36 ERA before being released midseason.

While on the Mets, Spahn was reunited with Casey Stengel, who he had played under with the Boston Braves in 1942. Reminiscing on his time with the Mets, Spahn once said: “I’m probably the only guy who worked with Stengel before and after he was a genius.”

Relief Pitcher: Francisco Rodriguez

The 2008 Mets’ bullpen was so bad that had their games ended in the eighth inning, they would have won the NL East by 12 games rather than losing it by three games. So that offseason, they signed Francisco Rodriguez, who was fresh off setting a single-season record with 62 saves, to a three-year, $37 million contract.

Rodriguez failed as a member of the Mets. His ERA ballooned to 3.71 in 2009– more than a run higher than it had been in 2008. He suffered a season-ending thumb injury in August of 2010 by assaulting his girlfriend’s father following a loss. “K-Rod” was traded to the Brewers in a salary-dump trade in 2011, where he has since made two All-Star teams.

Relief Pitcher - J.J. Putz

Putz recorded a 5.22 ERA as the setup man in 2009 before suffering a season-ending elbow injury that June. Putz was a stellar closer for the Mariners prior to 2009, as he had a 3.07 ERA and 101 saves in his six-year tenure with the team. After his time with the Mets, he recorded two 30-plus save seasons with the Diamondbacks in 2011 and 2012.
Putz later said that the Mets never gave him a physical upon acquisition. As Mets fans found out last year, medicals are rather important.

Manager - Art Howe

Howe was bought in in 2003 to be the Mets’ manager following Bobby Valentine‘s firing. Howe was the hottest managerial name on the market, as he had just led the Athletics to three consecutive playoff appearances. If he could lead the $40 million payroll Oakland A’s to three straight playoff appearances. Imagine what he could do with more than double that budget?

Not much. Howe went 137-186 in his two years on the job. He was fired following the 2004 season, and never managed again after leaving the Mets.

MMO-footer

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Forward Thinking: The Evolution Of Being One Step Ahead http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/forward-thinking-the-evolution-of-being-one-step-ahead.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/forward-thinking-the-evolution-of-being-one-step-ahead.html/#comments Mon, 20 Jan 2014 15:34:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=131239 Baseball has always been pioneered by forward-thinkers. These visionary minds have paired their knowledge of the game with foresight to developed ways of staying one step ahead of their competition. However, now with every aspect of the game dissected by experts, media and fans it has become harder to be original.

In 1919 Branch Rickey took the reins in St. Louis and began transforming the struggling, financially-plagued Cardinals. He established the first farm system as an inexpensive means of developing players internally. Minor leagues had been exclusively independent until this time with players being bought and sold at will. Rickey exploited the system by signing young, unknown talent for cheap and by 1926 St. Louis had won their first World Series.

Rickey continued to revolutionize the game in the well-known integration movement. The Brooklyn Dodgers broke down barriers when they signed Jackie Robinson in 1946. Rickey saw this as an untapped pool of talent that could help build revenue and bring championships to Brooklyn. Although championships eluded them, the Dodgers won six pennants in nine years after Robinson arrived in Brooklyn. Much like his Cardinals of years past, Rickey built Brooklyn into the era’s top National League team.

1975 began the era of free agency with wealthy teams gaining a steady advantage over the field. Between 1976 and 2000, the Yankees won nine pennants and six World Series Titles. The Mets signed Bobby Bonilla in 1992. This contract still stands as the highest percentage jump in yearly salary for the game’s highest paid player (Strawberry (LA) $3,800,000 to Bonilla (NY) $6,100,000). Since 1975, the highest paid player in baseball has gone from receiving $240,000/year to $30,000,000/year, representing that championships could be purchased now rather than manufactured.

In the most recent decade, Bill James and Billy Beane were credited with the invention of sabremetrics and beginning the era of advanced statistics. In 2002, the Yankees payroll totaled $133,429,757 while Oakland sat at $41,942,665. Beane and Paul DePodesta knew that they couldn’t compete if they continued to play the same game as large market team. With Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada all chasing lucrative deals, Beane turned his attention away from traditional scouting and toward numbers such the ability to maximize run productivity with On-Base Percentage. Oakland and New York each won 103 games that season despite the huge salary gap.

As the money continued to get bigger so did the cost of failure. With salary demands continuing to sky rocket and many teams adopting the moneyball style of management, teams are trying to configure new ways to get ahead.

This season the Yankees failed to make the playoffs with a record payroll while Tampa Bay, Oakland and Pittsburgh all qualified for the postseason despite a combined payroll less than that of New York’s $228,995,945.

Theo Epstein appears to be making a play as the next baseball mind trying to get one step ahead. With new rules implemented, the Cubs began to chase additional international free agent money through trade.

Epstein and the Cubs might be onto something with this big picture view. The most significant costs associated with signing talented international free agents are the time and resources required for scouting/player development. With media and baseball insiders following every move nowadays, it’s unlikely that this strategy can remain under-the-radar the way that Rickey’s farm system stayed discrete for so many years. With that said, Chicago managed to land three of the top 10 international signings in 2013.

In a sports culture that demands success, Epstein’s new approach will require patience. With Chicago having lost 90+ games each of the last three seasons, it makes sense for Epstein to spend on a revolutionary strategy rather than spend more time rebuilding a depleted team in a domestic market that no longer holds any secrets.

The Cubs entered the season with their top four prospects (according to Baseball America) all imported internationally and they are now joined by the talented “2013 recruiting class”.

Despite their growing numbers in the MLB, international talent is by far the most abundant and highest value source of acquiring talent. While the Mets used the 11th overall pick to select and sign 17-year-old Dominic Smith to a $2.6 million signing bonus, Chicago signed the number one international prospect, outfielder Eloy Jimenez, to a $2.8 million signing bonus.

If you choose to view the international signing period as the MLB Draft 2.0 then the Cubs essentially grabbed four top-10 picks in 2013 with Kris Bryant, Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres, Jen-Ho Tseng.

It will be interesting to see where the Cubs are in five years compared to the Mets.

mmo

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Ricky Otero – 45th Round Success Story http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/ricky-otero-45th-round-success-story.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/ricky-otero-45th-round-success-story.html/#comments Fri, 17 Jan 2014 19:16:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=138889 While Brandon Villafuerte was selected and signed by the Mets in the 66th round of the 1994 MLB June Amateur Draft and was the deepest pick the Mets ever signed that made it to the Major Leagues, he did not make it to the majors as a member of the Mets.

So who holds the distinction of being the deepest pick that made it to Queens after originally signing with the Mets?

That distinction goes to Ricky Otero.

ricky otero-2Ricky was selected by the Mets in the 45th round of the 1990 June amateur draft out of Lind Padron Rivera High School in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico.

It was the second time Ricky had been drafted – he had been selected by the Toronto Blue Jays the previous June in the 65th round, but did not sign. The Mets inked Ricky to a contract on September 10, 1990.

The outfielder worked his way up the Mets system, and in his fifth season of professional ball, he was called up to the Mets.

He made his Major League Debut on April 26, 1995 at Coors Field against the Rockies where he was brought into the game in the bottom of the 11th to replace Bobby Bonilla and took over in left field.

He finally came to the plate for his first MLB at bat in the top of the 14th inning against Mark Thompson where he stroked a single through the infield to left.

While his major league career with the Mets began with a hit, he did not see much success after that in the Orange and Blue. He appeared in 35 games with the Mets and made his last appearance on July 22nd, also at Coors Field, as a pinch runner for Edgardo Alfonzo.

His final plate appearance as a Met came the prior day on July 21st against the very same Mark Thompson. On the season, he hit .137 with 0 HR, 1 RBI, and just 7 base hits.

That offseason, Ricky was traded to the Phillies for minor leaguer Phil Geisler and was the Phillies’ starting Center Fielder for the 1996 season beginning in May, replacing Lenny Dykstra who made his final MLB appearance.

Otero appeared in 104 games and hit .273 with 2 HR and 32 RBI in a Phillies lineup that also included Gregg Jefferies, Benito Santiago, Mickey Morandini, Todd Zeile, Pete Incaviglia, and Jim Eisenreich.

Ricky appeared in 50 more games with the Phillies in 1997, playing his final MLB game on August 17th at the Astrodome against the Houston Astros.

His MLB career ended with a hit, just like it began. He entered the game as a pinch runner for Gregg Jefferies in the 7th and he doubled in the top of the 9th off Russ Springer.

He bounced around for a few years afterward until 2002, playing for the Orioles’ Triple-A team, some independent ball in the Western League, and three final seasons in the Mexican League.

Presented By Diehards

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Does 2015 Free Agent Market Influence Mets 2014 Offseason Strategy? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/does-2015-free-agent-market-influence-mets-2014-offseason-strategy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/does-2015-free-agent-market-influence-mets-2014-offseason-strategy.html/#comments Tue, 29 Oct 2013 02:16:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=131802 sandy alderson

An MMO Fan Shot By Andrew Doris

The two-year plan

The past two seasons, the Mets have finished 74-88. Over that time, they’ve dumped all their albatross contracts (except Bobby Bonilla…) and resolved the Bernie Madoff lawsuit, such that management finally appears capable of investing in the team. Whether they will or not remains to be seen, but Sandy Alderson has said the team has about $30 million to spend this off-season if he chooses. This post assumes they are serious, and aims to shed light on the wisest way to invest that money.

It’s reasonable to assume that without any major off-season additions, the Mets might finish 74-88 again in 2014. That might even be optimistic, because they’ve lost two key producers from last season already: Matt Harvey and Marlon Byrd. Perhaps young players will develop and improve enough to replace those losses, but even if that’s the case, they would still just be treading water to match last year’s output. It’s safe to say the current roster is no better than a 74 win team.

With that in mind, it is highly unlikely the Mets will win the World Series next season – there are just too many holes to fill in one off-season with the money and trade chips at Alderson’s disposal. A more realistic approach is to view the next two off-seasons as stepping stones to serious contention – a sort of “two-year plan” to get this team among the league’s elite.

Phase one of this plan should be to improve the team by enough that the fans take notice and tune in for 2014. The piqued interest would increase ticket sales and TV revenue, and ideally enable additional payroll expansions (read: player acquisitions) in phase two – next off-season and beyond.

However, doing this will require a team that, as Fred Wilpon famously put it back in 2004, is “playing meaningful games in September”, and a 74 win team does not match that criteria. How much does Alderson need to improve the roster to make that team a reality?

In a division with the Braves and Nationals, I suspect the Mets will need to win at least 85 games to even compete for the playoffs. Last year the Nationals won 86 and still finished 4 games out of the wildcard race. To actually make the playoffs, they may need to win 90, but I think Mets fans would be satisfied with 85 if it meant they stayed in the hunt until late in the season.

The question Alderson must answer, therefore, is this: how can he improve the team by 10 wins or more this off-season, without impeding his flexibility to make even more acquisitions next year? If the Mets are to navigate this question successfully, it behooves them to consider what options might be at their disposal next off-season. This foresight is particularly necessary at their positions of need, because those are the spots at which the greatest improvement can be made.

As I see it, the Mets’ greatest positions of need are OF, SS, 1B and SP, in that order. I put SP last because it is the only one of those holes that exists only in the short term. With the return of Harvey and the ascent of Syndergaard, Mejia, Montero, DeGrom and even Robles all expected by 2015, pitching shouldn’t be a problem over the long term (unless some of those names get traded filling one of the other three holes). By the time we’re seriously contending for a world series, that hole will ideally have filled itself. Neither OF, SS, nor 1B, however, have any promising minor leaguers nearing an MLB arrival date, so it makes the most sense to target external additions at those positions.

The options at shortstop:

Let’s start at SS. As Mets fans know, this was one of our biggest areas of need last year, with Ruben Tejada and Omar Quintanilla combining for a woeful -1.7 WAR on the season. The 2014 free agent class has two primary options at SS: Stephen Drew, and Jhonny Peralta. Although these are good players, both are on the wrong side of 30 with health concerns, and both may cost around $12 million a year on a multi-year contract. The 2015 class, by contrast, features a whole host of interesting names: Asdrubal Cabrera, J.J. Hardy, Hanley Ramirez, and Jed Lowrie. Furthermore, each of those players play on teams that are often open to trading players in contract years, such that Sandy might be able to land them in a deadline deal this upcoming summer depending on where everyone is in the standings.

For this reason, I recommend the Mets hold off on signing a big-name SS this winter, when the market is thin and prices are high. This has the added benefit of giving Ruben Tejada a few more months to turn things around. Even if the Mets don’t view Tejada as their SS of the future, it is unwise to sell low, and Tejada’s value has never been lower. A solid start to 2014 might improve his trade value and net them something better in return than they could get right now.

The options in the outfield:

Next up is OF. Even if we assume that light-hitting Juan Lagares is the answer in CF, the Mets have only one MLB caliber starting outfielder on their roster, with no help from the minors in sight (short of Cesar Puello, who has some questions to answer). If they are to get away with Lagares in CF, they desperately need some offense from the corner OF spots. Thankfully, the 2014 free agent class has several big name outfielders that could serve as the power-hitting cleanup hitter Terry Collins needs. Shin-Soo Choo, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Beltran, and Nelson Cruz could all fit that mold, while Jacoby Ellsbury could busy our competition on the market and make those other names more affordable (higher supply of marquee OF’s = lower price for each one). Additionally, there are several big name outfielders rumored to be on the trading block this winter, from Jose Bautista to Giancarlo Stanton to Matt Kemp to Andre Ethier. 2015, by contrast, has very few exciting names under 35 years old. Colby Rasmus is pretty good, but after that it goes downhill fast: Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner, Jonny Gomes, Emilio Bonifacio, Nate Schierholtz, Norichika Aoki, Chris Denorfia…you get the picture.

Curtis+GrandersonFor these reasons, it’s imperative that the Mets land at least one marquee, power-hitting outfielder this offseason, even if they have to sign him to a long term deal. Ellsbury and Choo may be outside our price range, but I think Curtis Granderson could be an excellent fit. He’s certainly comfortable in New York; in his first three years with the Yankees, Granderson was a superstar, averaging 36 homers per season with an 11% walk rate. Before you argue that was inflated by Yankee stadium, realize that Granderson averaged 18.5 road home runs from 2011-2012, which is more than any current Mets OF could provide in an entire season.

The 2013 season was lost to fluke injuries stemming from two stray fastballs, but before that Granderson was extremely durable, averaging 153 games a season from 2010-2012. His speed and defense will decline with age, but keep in mind what it’s declining from: a speedy, gold-glove caliber centerfielder. If the Mets shift him to LF to accommodate Lagares, he’d still offer plus defense and base-running in the short term, without being anything close to a liability in the long run. Granderson also has a reputation for being one of the most amiable players in the game, making him a fan favorite and a great locker room presence. He does strike out a lot, but that’s nitpicking, especially when you consider the much larger flaws of any 2015 option. In a deep market, Granderson could probably be had on a 3-4 year deal at $14-15 million per year, which still leaves Alderson enough flexibility to sign a SP and some role players for 2014. If they miss out on Granderson, I’d suggest Carlos Beltran or Nelson Cruz as high-ceiling fallbacks. If we felt like signing two outfielders, Nate McLouth might warrant consideration.

The options at first base:

Finally, we have 1B. With Jose Abreu gone to the White Sox, this year’s free agent class features interesting options like Mike Napoli, Kendrys Morales, and Corey Hart. 2015, by contrast, has very few good options under the age of 35 (assuming the Royals use their club option to pick up Billy Butler’s contract). Using the above logic, this would seem to imply that if the Mets are to get an external option to man 1B, this is the offseason to do it. If Sandy chooses to go that route, I’d support the decision.

However, I don’t think first base is such a dire necessity as is the outfield, for the simple reason that the Mets have better in-house options to man the former than they do the latter. Between Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Josh Satin, Wilmer Flores and Daniel Murphy, the Mets have five candidates for one position. With the exception of Flores, none of those candidates have a career OPS below .746. Even if only one or two of those options work out, Terry Collins could probably cobble together moderate levels of production by riding the hot hand. The options in the OF, by contrast, inspire much less confidence: Eric Young Jr., Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Jordany Valdespin, and Matt den Dekker. None of those guys have a career OPS over .672 – none have a track record to prove they are major league caliber hitters. Until Cesar Puello (who has his own question marks) gets called up, these four AAAA guys would be competing for two vacancies, and the result would be woeful even if nobody got hurt.

TL;DR:

The bottom line is this: if the Mets are serious on improving the team in 2014 while maintaining the flexibility to make additional improvements next winter, they should devote this off-season to acquiring at least one marquee OF, either via a trade or via free agency. Then, they should sign a high-upside veteran starting pitcher to a short, cheap, incentive laden deal, as well as a backup catcher and some affordable bullpen arms. However, they should hold off on acquiring a SS upgrade until the market thickens, and if money’s tight, they should also hold off on committing to an external 1B until they have more information on the viability of their internal options.

By following this blueprint and getting a little lucky, the Mets should be able to plug all their holes with capable and exciting players in a cost efficient way before the 2015 season, while still improving enough in the short term to make 2014 exciting. Only time will tell if Sandy Alderson agrees.

bleed orange & blue  button

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Bambino’s, Billy Goats…and Joan Payson: Why the Mets are Cursed http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/bambinos-billy-goats-and-joan-payson-why-the-mets-are-cursed.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/bambinos-billy-goats-and-joan-payson-why-the-mets-are-cursed.html/#comments Thu, 03 Oct 2013 13:30:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130557 babe-ruth-red-sox_i-G-16-1685-P161D00Z - CopyOn January 3, 1920, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth along with mortgage rights on Fenway Park to the New York Yankees. On January 4, 1920, there were no newspaper articles talking about ‘The Curse of the Bambino.’ For a curse to gain traction two things must happen. First, there must be the passage of time. Secondly, a reversal of fortune based around strange and unexplainable events from that point forward must occur.

Prior to trading Ruth, the Boston club had won 5 of the first 15 World Series played. It would take 86 years to capture their 6th. And as New Englanders waited, they watched the Yankees win 27. The curse ended on October 27, 2004 when Boston completed a sweep of the Cardinals. The final out was recorded on a comebacker to the mound off the bat of Edgar Renteria. Renteria, like Babe Ruth, wore no 3.

In 1945, the Chicago Cubs were facing the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. In the stands at Wrigley that afternoon was Billy Sianis, avid Cubs fans and owner of The Billy Goat Tavern. Sianis brought his pet goat to the game but when fans seated nearby complained about the goats’ odor, security had both of them physically removed from the stands. Furious, Sianis shouted, “Them Cubs, they aint gonna win no more.” Not only have the Cubs not won a World Series since then, they have never even returned to the Fall Classic.

Over the last few decades, we have shaken our heads more times than we can recall at the amount of absurdities and “unexplainable” bad luck that has befallen our Mets. But maybe, it’s not a simple case of bad luck. Perhaps, just perhaps, the Mets, like the Red Sox and Cubs, are cursed.

To look for the origin of this curse, one must go back. Way back. Before the Mets even existed.

The year was 1957 and Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley was insistent on moving his team 3000 miles away to Los Angeles. For Major League Baseball to approve a transcontinental move, a second team would also need to relocate to California. The westernmost team at the time was St. Louis and it would be too costly to have clubs fly another 1500 miles for just 3 games. Enter Horace Stoneham, owner of the New York Giants. Stoneham, like O’Malley, was getting nowhere in his quest for the city to build his club a new stadium. When the Giants decided to vacate the hills of Coogan’s Bluff for the hills of San Francisco, there were only three dissenting votes. The nays were that of Joan Whitney Payson, her husband and M. Donald Grant. When the relocation was officially announced, Joan Payson immediately sold her shares of stock and promised to do whatever necessary to bring National League Baseball back to New York.

Slide1 - Copy

Her dream came to fruition in 1962 when the Metropolitans played their first game in, of all places, the Giants old stadium. Payson became the first woman in the history of North America to be a majority owner of a professional sports franchise. She was a brilliant businesswoman who was also an avid baseball fan. And although she loved her Mets—not as an investment but as a team—her heart was in San Francisco. Her favorite player on her beloved Giants was on his way to becoming the greatest all-around athlete the game had ever known. On May 11, 1972, at the unremitting demand of Payson, the Mets sent pitcher Charlie Williams along with $50,000 to bring The Say Hey Kid back to New York. Another dream of Joan Payson’s came true as she watched her cherished Willie Mays play for the team she owned.

At 41 years old, Willie was in the twilight of his career and was focusing on what to do after his playing days ended. The Giants were financially strapped and management could not keep Mays on payroll in any capacity, be it coach, hitting instructor, scout, etc…Payson assured Willie a spot on the coaching staff after retirement. He agreed and Willie Mays once again wore NY on his cap.

Payson made Mays a promise. His time as a Met would be brief and she could not justify having his number joining Casey Stengel’s 37 as the only numbers retired. She did, however, promise that no Mets player would ever again wear no. 24.

On October 16, 1973, Willie Mays played his last professional baseball game. On October 4, 1975, Joan Whitney Payson passed away. On August 7, 1990, the Mets “accidentally” reissued number 24. And so, ladies and gentlemen, begins The Curse of the Joanbino.

payson willie

Kelvin Torve was a 30 year-old utility infielder when he entered the Shea clubhouse for the first time in the summer of 1990. He had played 12 games with the Twins 2 years earlier but now was awed as he looked around at his new teammates. Torve was back in ‘The Show,’ sharing a locker room with Doc Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, David Cone, Sid Fernandez and Frank Viola. He was handed a jersey, number 24, and suited up to take infield practice.

Fans began calling the front office. They started writing letters. That number was never supposed to be used again they reminded management. The Mets went on the road and while in the visiting clubhouse, equipment manager Charlie Samuels advised Torve of the uproar and asked if he’d mind changing numbers. Torve had no qualms about it. He was trying to stay in the majors and would do anything asked of him. On August 18th, he replaced his 24 with no. 39. The change of numbers happened on the road…as the Mets played, of all teams, the Giants. In the 10 days Torve wore Mays’ number, he batted .500.

In April 99, the number would be issued again, but this time not by accident. Newly acquired outfielder Rickey Henderson insisted on wearing 24. But it really didn’t matter by then. The Curse of the Joanbino had already taken hold.

As I alluded to earlier, for a ‘curse’ to have some legitimacy, there must be strange, unusual or downright weird events. Using the issuance of the Torve uniform as a benchmark, one can clearly delineate a reversal of fortunes of the Mets from that point forward.

Prior to 1990, our Mets were no strangers to bizarre plays. However, they always went in our favor.

Ron-Swoboda-Catch

In 1969, the Mets shocked the baseball world by overcoming 100-1 odds and defeating the heavily favored Cubs for the division title. Facing the power heavy Braves in the LCS, the big question was could the Mets pitching quiet the lethal bats of Hank Aaron, Rico Carty, Felipe Alou and Orlando Cepeda. Our pitching failed miserably. However, the light hitting Mets beat the Braves at their own game, scoring 27 runs in a 3-game sweep. The Mets would go on to upset the Baltimore Orioles, a team that carried 4 future Hall of Famers–Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer and manager Earl Weaver, along with 1969 Cy Young Winner, Mike Cuellar. Ron Swoboda, a well-known liability in the field, would make one of the most iconic defensive plays in Series history. A miracle indeed.

With the 1973 pennant hanging in the balance, another “strange” play occurred. On Sept 20, in a crucial game against the first place Pirates, Pittsburgh appeared ready to finally win in extra innings with a long blast to LF. The ball, however, did not go over the wall. Nor did it bounce off the wall. Rather, it bounced on TOP of the wall and back into play. Cleon Jones turned, fired to Garrett who pivoted and threw home to catcher Ron Hodges who nailed Richie Zisk at the plate. The Mets would win in the bottom of the next inning and pull to within half a game of first. Two weeks later the Mets were facing Cincinnati in the LCS. At the time my dad advised me, “The ghost of Gil Hodges was sitting on the fence and knocked the ball back into play.” I was almost 8 years old and that seemed plausible. Strange indeed.

And if the Miracle of 1969 and balls bouncing on top of walls weren’t enough, there’s also Game 6 in 86.

All of these peculiar plays went in the Mets favor. After Kelvin Torve was issued Mays’ number, the Mets underwent a reversal of fortune and everything from that day forward has seemingly gone against us. Although we only won 2 Championships and 3 pennants before the mishap of reissuing the number, the Mets still appeared almost charmed with good luck. After, we seemed, well, cursed.

Here are some of the bizarre incidents that transpired after Joan Payson’s promise was not maintained.

1991: The very first year after accidentally allowing another player to wear Mays’ number, the Mets draft 2 pitchers they intend to build their future around: Bill Pulsipsher and Jason Isringhausen.

1992: The Mets sign Bobby Bonilla to a lucrative (at the time) 5 year/$29 million contract. Bonilla was a superstar in Pittsburgh. And although he was a native New Yorker just like John Franco, Lee Mazzilli and Ed Kranepool, he would become perhaps the most despised Met in team history. A subsequent renegotiation of his contract will see us paying Bonilla until he turns 72 years old. 72, the same year Willie Mays returned to New York.

bobbybonilla

Mid 90’s: The Mets spend big bucks to bring a pennant to Flushing. The plan falls short and instead they become known as ‘The Worst Team Money Can Buy.’

1999: After one of the most dramatic moments in team history, Robin Ventura’s  famous Grand Slam single, the Mets lose the NLCS the following day on, of all things, a walk-off walk. It’s the only time in history a team lost the pennant in such fashion.

2000: The Mets lose the World Series in 5 games to the Yankees. Mike Piazza records the final out. Piazza didn’t ground out to the shortstop or strike out or pop up. He flew out—to center field, the same area Mays patrolled decades earlier.

2003: Earning more than $17 million, Mo Vaughn is the highest paid player on the team, netting more than even Piazza. His season ends on May 2 due to injuries. He retires from baseball.

2006: The Mets are expected to crush the Cardinals. St. Louis barely made the post-season and had numerous players injured. They were relying on a rookie to close named Adam Wainwright. The loss in the 7 game LCS was a shock and never expected. The decisive blow was a HR by Yadier Molina who hit only 6 HR’s all season. At the time, Molina was 24 years old.

2007: The Mets suffer what is regarded by many to be the greatest collapse in baseball history, blowing a 7 game lead with just 17 left. We even fail to make the wildcard.

2008: The Mets blow a 3 ½ game lead with 17 left. We again fail to even make the wildcard.

2009: Citi Field opens and in the inaugural game, a cat runs onto the field. Although it was not a black cat like happened to the Cubs in the heat of the 69 pennant, there is an interesting similarity. Fellow MMO blogger Ed Leyro pointed out at the time that in 69, the black cat ran out while Ron Santo was in the on deck circle. In 09, a cat ran out while David Wright stood in the on deck circle. Both Santo and Wright are considered the best third basemen in the history of their respective clubs.

2009: Mets players spend a total of 1,480 days on the disabled list. Our new home offers no immediate hope of a bright future. The Mets finish under .500 for the first time in 5 seasons.

$19SPYANKEESMURRAY

2009: Luis Castillo against the Yankees. ‘Nuff said.

2011: After 50 years and 8020 games, a Mets pitcher finally throws a no-hitter. And from this point forward, for all intents and purposes, Johan Santana’s career comes to an end.

2013: Johan Santana’s salary is $25,500,000 for the season. He pitches zero innings.

2013: Fans finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. Matt Harvey conjures up images of Seaver and Gooden. He becomes the first Mets pitcher to start an All-Star Game in a quarter century. Six weeks later he is put on the disabled list. He is 24.

Maybe it’s just bad luck. Fate, perhaps? But one can easily see a difference in the Mets pre-Joanbino curse and post-Joanbino curse. In addition to the previously mentioned bad karma that has appeared since the no. 24 was reissued, there are also other, shall we say, “coincidences.”

2000 saw the Mets lose the Series to the Yankees. However, for the entire post-season, the Mets outscored their opponents, 60-51. 51…as in 1951, the year Willie Mays debuted. The last time the Mets won a World Series was 1986, our 25th year in existence. However, many don’t consider the strike-shortened 81 season a real season. Therefore, you can say that 86 was the Mets 24th season. Granted, that’s a stretch and somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

Here, however, are a couple more that garner some serious attention. Things that appear too coincidental to be mere happenstance.

Game 6 of 86 saw the Mets conclude the greatest come from behind victory in World Series history. We tied the series at 3 games and game 7 was slated for the following day. However, the hand of fate intervened and the game was rained out, played instead on Monday, October 27, 1986. 10-27-86. 1+0+2+7+8+6=24.

Billy Sianis Cubs Playoffs 1984In 1969, the Mets swept Atlanta, then defeated Baltimore 4 games to 1. In 73, we defeated the heavily favored Big Red Machine in 5 before falling short to Oakland in 7. In 86, we defeated Houston in 6, Boston in 7. In 1988, we were upset in the NLCS by the Dodgers, 4 games to 3. All of these post-seasons appeared before Willie’s number was accidentally reissued. The total post-season victories—3 against Atlanta, 4 against Baltimore, 3 vs. Cincy, 3 vs Oakland, 4 vs Houston, 4 vs. Boston and 3 vs. LA totals out to…yes, you guessed it. 24.

The bad thing about curses is they are inconsiderate when it comes to time. If the Mets are in fact cursed, how long will it last? The Curse of the Bambino lasted over eight and a half decades. The Billy Goat Curse is still ongoing.

On the positive side, Mays’ old number was recirculated in 1990. 24 years from that makes it 2014. On the other hand, Joan Payson was 72 years of age when she passed away. That would make it 2062 if 72 years has to pass. And worst of all, Mays hit 660 home runs.

Do I really think our Mets are cursed? Nahhh, of course not. Probably not. I’m sure it’s not real. I mean, come on. That’s silly. Right?

But just in case the spirit of Joan Payson is really, really upset and keeping in mind Willie’s 660 career home runs, here’s to the 2650 Mets.

New York Mets owner Joan Payson

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No End In Sight, Even As 2013 Comes To A Close http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/no-end-in-sight-even-as-2013-comes-to-a-close.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/no-end-in-sight-even-as-2013-comes-to-a-close.html/#comments Sun, 29 Sep 2013 13:30:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130273 whats the planWith Saturday’s loss, the Mets have clinched themselves a protected draft pick. However, it is starting to seem like this will be irrelevant. Reports on Friday indicated that the Mets do not plan on pursuing any of the top free agents, with the possible exception of Shin-Soo Choo, who will likely cost more than what the Mets seem ready to offer.

The Mets were horrible this season, so you don’t need anything but common sense to see that unless things improve significantly, they will be horrible next season as well. But does the Mets’ Front Office have the common sense or wherewithal to stand and deliver? If they do, I would like to see it.

Year after year I have watched this team put up with increasingly unbearable won-loss records while misleading their fans through the media to create an artificial sense of hope, asking us to ignore the crippling nature of their financial problems, and expecting improved results from a “plan” that I don’t believe exists. This was apparent yesterday, when news broke that the Mets plan on giving Terry Collins a contract extension despite the fact that the team’s record has gotten worse during each year of his tenure. It was apparent Friday, when news broke that the Mets do not plan to sign any free agents who would cost them a draft pick— even if their draft pick is protected. It has been apparent since 2009, when the Mets began a string of five straight seasons with fewer than 80 wins— a streak that will carry into and ever-more-possibly through 2014.

There is a reason why a team that won without spending money got a best-selling book and a movie starring Brad Pitt made about them: because it was such a rare occurrence. There is a reason why nobody bats an eye when the Yankees win one of their 27 championships, but everybody goes nuts when the Marlins make big offseason splashes and then finish last: because the teams that spend usually win. Big payrolls do not guarantee wins. Small payrolls do not guarantee losses. But I’d much rather take my chances with Prince Fielder than Brandon Nimmo, and if the Wilpons don’t figure out that most of the other passionate fans who have begun to stay away from Citi Field feel the same way, their revenue will continue to shrink.

In short, the Mets need a change. Bringing in guys like Collin Cowgill and then talking about their “advanced stats” does not constitute change. When you are losing, the only thing that constitutes “change” is winning. To win, you need a good rotation, reliable relievers, tight defense, a lights-out closer, and a mix of consistent contact hitters and dangerous power hitters. You also need health and depth.

If the Mets plan on 2014 being “the year”, they need to make major moves. The team needs to be open to overpay for certain players if that’s what it takes. They also need to be willing to be flexible enough to do what it takes to land star hitters on the trade market. Good players will not fall into their lap. The Mets have to go and get them, or else they can watch the team continue to lose games, attendance and relevancy year after year.

David Wright will be on the team next year. So will Matt Harvey, although he might not throw a pitch all season. Bobby Bonilla will also be on the payroll, and Terry Collins will again be in the dugout, for better or worse. Everybody else is a candidate to be traded or heading to free agency, so take a good long look at everyone you see on the field Sunday, because, if the front office is finally being sincere when they talk about “change”, it might be— it better be— the last time you ever see players like Omar Quintanilla in a Mets uniform.

But I won’t throw out my Mike Baxter jersey just yet, because the team has yet to give me a reason to believe more players like Baxter won’t be in the starting lineup next April.

pinky and brain

Hopefully, underperforming players who don’t belong will be shown the door, and players who do (such as Murphy, Wheeler, d’Arnaud, Niese, and a few others) will be retained. But Alderson & Co. should consider nearly anybody as trade bait if a team with a star caliber performer comes calling. If the Mets want to let Robinson Cano steal $300 million from another team, that’s fine, but they had better invest in several mid-tier free agents to make up for it. We need to have power in the lineup, we need to have guys ready to step in when injuries occur, and we need to have enough depth. The market isn’t ideal, but the answers are there if the Mets are willing to look for them.

The Mets’ season ends today. I have enjoyed writing game recaps for you guys since I joined MMO during the second half, and I look forward to writing articles during the offseason. No matter how frustrating this team can be, I will never desert the Mets and I appreciate all of you who feel the same way. Hopefully we will be seeing more guys like Carlos Gonzalez and fewer guys like Rick Ankiel wearing the Orange & Blue soon. Very soon. But for the meantime, at least we don’t have to worry about bandwagoners.

Let’s Go Mets!

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Fair or Foul: Not So Fast On Trading Bobby Parnell… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/fair-or-foul-not-so-fast-on-trading-bobby-parnell.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/fair-or-foul-not-so-fast-on-trading-bobby-parnell.html/#comments Thu, 05 Sep 2013 02:20:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=128538 fairorfoul

For a team that after three seasons still has so many holes to fill, I find it amazing how many times I read posts about trading away the few productive players we do have for either more prospects or merely for the fact that arbitration is approaching. Yesterday, in a post on MetsBlog announcing that Daniel Murphy was named National League Player of the Week, rather than a few congratulatory words as we did, I read that “Murphy is arbitration eligible this winter and I wonder if Sandy Alderson looks to move him in a deal for a starting pitcher or a bat”.

It’s one thing when Ike Davis is arbitration eligible and could earn $5-6 million. You look at his body of work over the last three season’s and you say no way.

But when you consider Murphy will get about $4 million in arbitration and is currently among the top five in almost every offensive category for second basemen, why would you trade someone who has given the Mets so much value?

  1. 159 Hits – #2
  2. 32 Doubles – #2
  3. 10 Home Runs – #5
  4. 67 RBI – #2
  5. 18 Stolen Bases – #1
  6. .282 Batting Average – #3
  7. .403 Slugging Percentage – #5

I thought players like Murphy, who is also second in the NL in hits, were exactly the kind of assets this front office coveted? And that undervalued, cost-controlled performance was the number one thing they look for in a player? So either we have the front office pegged all wrong, or MetsBlog has got it all wrong… I’ll leave you to decide which is which…

Another player whose name is constantly being propped up as a prime target for the Mets to trade by the folks at SNY is Mets closer Bobby Parnell. The 28-year old fireballer is currently sidelined with a bulging disc that he received an epidural for about a week ago. He may have surgery, but whether he does or doesn’t he will be ready for Spring Training either way according to what team doctors have said. Parnell was in the midst of his finest season as a Met and had a 2.16 ERA with 22 saves in 49 games before going on the DL.

Last night, I came across a refreshing article written by Paul West of Through the Fence Baseball, who did a splendid job on conveying why Parnell is another player, like Murphy, who the Mets should keep and not trade.

bobby parnellJust when you thought it was safe to watch the ninth inning without your hands wrapped around your face, some people are suggesting the New York Mets should trade Bobby Parnell. This would be a terrible idea.

After several years of ups and downs and cultivation, Bobby Parnell has evolved into a true closer. He used to be a “when in trouble, throw harder” fireballer, a one-trick pony who threw surprisingly hittable 98 mph fastballs that ran out of the park by themselves when guys made square contact. Now he throws in the mid 90s with movement — and moreover, he can execute his secondary pitches under duress. He now gets strikeouts with his sinker and groundouts with his sinker, splitter and curveball, and most importantly, he’s no longer especially predictable.

Why would the Mets want to give away a closer they spent several years developing into the real thing? Have people forgotten how hard it is to find a reliable closer who wants the job and wants the ball even after tough outings and has top-notch closer stuff?

He goes on to summarize some valid points on how difficult it has been for the Mets to get some closure in the closer role and how this time it didn’t cost tens of million in free agency and how he came up through our own system.

What really gets me is the fact that for many years, people laughed at the Mets for carrying the bloated contracts of failed gambles like Bobby Bonilla and Jason Bay. “Why don’t we develop minor-league talent?” people asked; “we need to cultivate guys for the future and not just chase superstars,” people said. So, the Mets do just that: take a young flamethrower with a triple-digit arm, stick with him and work on him until he’s a solid major-league closer who can pitch his way out of trouble. And now people want to sell him?

You can read the rest of his article by clicking on the link above and I suggest that you do.

Paul really hones in on some of the issues regarding the difficulties of acquiring a dependable closer via free agency when most of them are already in the throes of decline, and how valuable and oftentimes rare it is for a team to develop their own closer like we have with Parnell.

I’m amazed at how often fans will overlook how long it’s been since the Mets had a 20+ save season from a player they have developed themselves. Rather than telling you how long, take a look and see for yourselves… Then consider the fact we have a young closer entering his prime who is under team control for the next three years at a cost that is less than 75% the going rate for a top 15 closer which is exactly where Parnell falls in.

Fair or Foul?

I believe that Paul nails this one right on the head, definitely FAIR…

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Mets Things You Don’t Want To Know http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/mets-things-you-dont-want-to-know.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/mets-things-you-dont-want-to-know.html/#comments Mon, 15 Jul 2013 19:46:56 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=124969

From Jon Heyman, CBS Sports:

Bobby Bonilla’s increasingly infamous deferred compensation arrangement with the Mets is actually two separate deals totaling more than $40 million, not only the $30 million that has been previously reported, people familiar with the world’s longest sports deal told CBSSports.com. Plus, a third 25-year Mets deferred compensation agreement, this one for former pitcher Bret Saberhagen, is also on the team’s books, bringing the grand total to close to $50 million. Deferred, of course.

At a time the average MLB player salary has flown past $3 million (it’s about $3.3 million), the Mets have pared their payroll to only a half-dozen million-dollar players, extremely low for a big-market team. It’s noteworthy that the one payment that inspires the most fascination — at least among Mets fans — continues to be Bonilla’s deferred payments.The Mets are celebrating their All-Star Game at Citi Field on Tuesday, but their perennial payroll All-Star continues to be Bonilla, who re-entered their books in 2004 and will stay on them through 2035, when he will be the best-paid 72-year-old ballplayer going.

The one previously known 25-year deferred plan that pays Bonilla $29.8 million in total becomes a semi-hot topic in New York every July (when the payments are due), but a review of documents turned up a second deferred deal for Bonilla, this one for $500,000 a year, also for 25 years, and beginning even earlier (in 2004). That brings Bonilla’s grand total to more than $42 million. What’s more, Bonilla isn’t the only Met with such a deferred compensation deal, as Saberhagen’s deal for $250,000 a year for 25 years also began in 2004.

bbc510_0041

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Mets Matters: Gee Sparkles, Cowgill Impresses Me, Who’s Running The Show? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/mets-matters-gee-sparkles-cowgill-impresses-me-whos-running-the-show.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/mets-matters-gee-sparkles-cowgill-impresses-me-whos-running-the-show.html/#comments Mon, 04 Mar 2013 13:54:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=109774 mets mattersSome athletes will use anything as a motivator while others simply know what it takes to get ready.

Today, pitching coach Dan Warthen tried to sell the idea Johan Santana used perceived criticism of his physical condition as the spark to get him on the mound for the first time since Feb. 19. Santana threw the day after GM Sandy Alderson said he didn’t think the soon-to-be 34-year old lefty would pitch for another ten days to put his Opening Day start in jeopardy.

The Mets are trying to mix the contrasting positions Santana as the ultimate competitor who knows better than anybody what it takes to get ready and the other that he uses criticism as motivation.

Well, which is it?

Reportedly, Santana was irritated at reporters’ questioning, to which my first thought is for him to get over it as he’ll get $31 million this year regardless of how much he pitches, so answer the damn questions.

There’s no doubting Santana’s heart, but he can be sensitive.

What I especially found questionable is if the Mets thought he was ten days away from throwing, then why would they let him throw today? Who’s running the show anyway?

When a team puts it in the hands of the athlete to make medical decision, there is a likely chance of failure. Just think of Ryan ChurchMike PelfreyCarlos BeltranDavid WrightJose Reyes and others.

Despite Santana’s sensitivity to criticism, the fact remains he’s not in pitching shape and is behind schedule. It is also fact it was Santana who chose how to handle the offseason after rehabbing the previous two winters. Santana felt he needed the rest so he rested. Alderson stated what happened and didn’t rip Santana; there was no criticism, just an analysis.

It is a long season – Santana’s last as a Met – and it doesn’t matter if he is ready April 1 or April 15 or whenever. Santana won’t be traded for a variety of reasons and his value to the Mets this year will be to get the most out of him. It makes no sense to rush him, so don’t be surprised if letting him throw today could come back to bite the Mets.

GEE SPARKLES: Dillon Gee, who underwent surgery in the offseason to repair an artery in his shoulder, threw three scoreless innings in today’s 6-4 loss to Miami. It marked the first time Gee faced major leaguers since last July.

Gee gave up three hits and a walk with one strikeout over 50 pitches. Gee expressed no concern about his shoulder, saying he can’t afford to pitch with apprehension.

“Obviously I’m just excited to get out and compete again,’’ Gee told reporters. “The location was just very hit or miss. I wasn’t locating the fastball very well.’’

BUSTER BUSTING THEM: Buster Olney‏ OF ESPN tweeted the following on Sunday. Mets: Amazing. Their two highest paid pitchers might not be available Opening Day, and their two highest-paid outfielders are Bobby Bonilla and Jason Bay.

COWGILL IMPRESSING: The more I see of right-handed hitting Collin Cowgill, the more I like him. If he can do the things he’s doing here in PSL and can carry that into the regular season, the Mets will be just fine at the leadoff spot when they’re opposing a lefthanded starter. I’ll try to catch up with him on Tuesday and find out what it is that makes this kid tick. He plays each inning like it’s game seven of the World Series.

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A Letter To R.A. Dickey http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/12/a-letter-to-r-a-dickey.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/12/a-letter-to-r-a-dickey.html/#comments Thu, 29 Dec 2011 13:53:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=68442 Dear R.A.

It has come to our attention that you plan on doing a charity junket to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, in Africa.

Although we are sure that it is for a worthy cause, unwed mothers is that right? As your employer the N.Y. Mets respectfully request that you reconsider.

Mountain climbing is the third most dangerous sport in the world, eclipsed only by shark punching, and professional eating competitions. If you slipped while on the mountain and aggravated your fascia planteritis, we, as an organization would have to pretend we don’t know you. What’s more is we would not be required to pay the remaining $4.75 million we owe to you, so we could then give it to Bobby Bonilla.

It is with deep regret and heavy hearts that we, the N.Y. Mets, as an organization must ask one of our employees to make such a sacrifice as this. But if you don’t stay off that damn mountain you can kiss the last year on your stinking contract good-bye. We will cut you loose so fast your head will spin.

Perhaps you can find a more suitable charity to donate to. Like the newly formed charitable fund to keep the Mets in New York. Send all donations to: skatz@aol.com

Thank you R.A. for your cooperation with the N.Y. Metropolitan Baseball Club, a.k.a. Sterling Liquidations Ltd. Have a nice day.

 

Sincerely,

Jeff Wilpon, COO

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New York Mets Paying for Their Old Mistakes http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/07/new-york-mets-paying-for-their-old-mistakes.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/07/new-york-mets-paying-for-their-old-mistakes.html/#comments Sat, 02 Jul 2011 11:00:14 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=53410 Yesterday, on July 1st, the Bobby Bonilla received a check in the mail from the New York Mets. The 48 year old received $1,193,248. This is just the first of 25 checks that Bonilla will receive from the team every year on July 1st.

The story of why Bonilla is receiving checks from the Mets is fairly well known. With the 1999 season finished, Bonilla had just one year left on his deal. The Mets owed him $5.9 million.

GM Steve Phillips and owner Fred Wilpon determined that Bonilla was not worth $5.9 million. He definitely wasn’t as in 1999 he posted a horrendous -1.2 WAR.

To put that in perspective, his season was worse than Oliver Perez’s 2010 campaign when he went 0-5 with a 6.80 ERA. Perez posted a slightly better -1.1 WAR that year.

So instead of just buying out Bonilla for $5.9 million that year, the Mets got creative. The team worked out a deal with Bonilla where he would be paid the $5.9 million would be deferred and the Mets would begin to pay him in 2011. The Mets would pay him back over the course of five years.

The two sides agreed to a generous 8% interest rate at the time. As a result, the $5.9 million that the Mets owed to Bonilla will turn into $29,831,205. A 73-year-old Bonilla will receive his last check from the Mets organization in 2035.

Mets fans will unfortunately be reminded about this deal for years to come.

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Bonilla’s Millions http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/01/bonillas-millions.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/01/bonillas-millions.html/#comments Wed, 12 Jan 2011 12:25:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=41381 When the New Year kicked in, talk of the Mets turned from looking towards the future to taking a not-so-fond trip down Memory Lane regarding one of the most disliked and controversial characters in Mets history. Nope, I’m not talking about Richie Hebner. I’m talking about Bobby Bonilla.

While there is much to be said about the Mets ownership lack of baseball acumen, and even in recent years being linked to a scandalous international Ponzi scheme, this deal is not nearly as bad as it looks on paper. Invested long-term, I would say that it was even a good deal, benefiting the Wilpons just as much as the Bonillas. Back when I was completing my MBA, I actually used this as a case study – I no longer have my backing documents or spreadsheet, but with reinvestments and compounded interest, the Mets have made money off of that initial $5 million while Bonilla has not. So while they are paying him out something like $29 million over the next 25 years, chances are they’ve made their money and are reinvesting it again. Hopefully, not with another Ponzi scheme.

For Bonilla, it’s sort of like choosing the lottery lump sum payout versus annual payments. There are tax implications for the lump payout for the winner; the annuity is guaranteed money but is taxed per year therefore not as big of a hit. While Bobby, from my understanding, is being paid from another fund, not impacting the current payroll from what I understand and adding on to the time value of money, I remember that the dollars and cents of it really wasn’t that far off if he got paid in 1999 or over the course of 25 years.

I won’t bore you with those details here. But let me give you some lay examples to bring the transaction to light.

In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Dr. Evil comes back from being frozen for 30 years and re-emerges in the 1990s. He requires a ransom of (cue the pinky) “one MEEELLLION dollars” or in non-evil terms, one million American dollars. When his number two man Number Two says that amount would get laughed at in the 1990s, he asks then for “One hundred BEEEEEELLLION dollars!”

Think about that for a second. To us ordinary working-class folk, one million dollars seems plenty, right? To a corporation or small republic, $100 billion is certainly a lot but billions of dollars are spent weekly in the stream of corporate transactions. The most telling part in Dr. Evil’s demands though is that in the course of 30 years, an acceptable ransom has gone up by five additional zeroes. (Meanwhile, when Dr. Evil goes back to the ‘60s and tries to hold the world hostage again, he is laughed at by the $100 billion request, being told it was an imaginary number).

The Bobby Bonilla deal is not THAT bad of a deal and will not be as much of an albatross or worrisome as some make it out to be. I mean, he signed a $29 million/five-year contract in 1992, 19 years ago. Today that player would be considered “cheap,” a STEAL even or at the very least a player who probably is on the downside of his career.

Back in 1999, $5 million was and still is plenty of money no doubt, especially owed to a player who didn’t contribute much and had more ill-will than good over that time. Factor in the time value of money, we know that was once $5 million in ’99 money is not worth anywhere near what $5 million is today. Yes, I know, boo hoo, but he’s got a family to feed right? (That was sarcasm)

Yes, I get it. Bobby Bonilla represents everything that’s bad from the Mets’ past. He is the poster-child of the Worst Team Money Could Buy, and possibly our last image of him was playing cards with Rickey Henderson during the critical Mets/Braves NLCS in 1999.

Our last-ing impression of him will be the fact that he will be “employed” by the Mets for the next 25 years. However, I am here to defend the ownership of the Mets and say it was actually a decent deal on their end, from a business standpoint. Yes, I know, where’s the rock salt? Has Hell frozen over? I’m actually defending the Wilpons. Yes, I know, it happens from time to time, but I do give credit where it is due.

That’s not taking away from Bonilla. Deferred payments are pretty par for the course in contracts; however, you don’t hear a lot about them in baseball due to the fact they are mostly incentive driven (like, a pitcher will have hit X-amount of innings for a deferred payment to kick in or some crap). Please note, I have no record of Bonilla’s terms with the Mets, but it may or may not have included that deferred payment provision (bonus points if someone can find that for me). It was a brilliant negotiating tactic, if that was in fact what happened in the board room when they “bought him out.”

If Lenny Dykstra is any cautionary tale, fact is most retired sports figures do not handle their money well or have a long-term game plan. This was a win-win situation for both sides. Sure, you would like the Mets to put the screws to him but the Players Union says there’s this thing called a contract that guarantees money, so they’d have had to pay him anyway. Why not work it out to the best of their ability?

There is a faction that says the Mets should have just paid him his money and cut ties immediately. Well, sure I certainly agree with that. However, we are not privy to what happened the day he was released by the team. There could have been a standoff or it could have simply been written in his contract, fully expecting to, you know, not play cards during a playoff game.

I think what’s happened is that we people who don’t earn player salaries, tend to look at this as an excess of the Player’s Union, lack of a salary cap and that players are overpaid. Hey, no kidding! This was not meant to be a piece defending the Mets management nor Bobby Bonilla himself. It’s a way of saying, hey, there actually are smart business transactions happening in the Mets management.

And in an evil parallel universe, while the Mets are again paying Bobby Bonilla, a parallel universe could unfold and the Mets might do the opposite of what they did during his Worst Team Money Could Buy era and actually have a decent record.

Hey. You never know.

Until then, the only piece of financial advice I will ever give is to take the annuity payment if you ever win the Mega Millions. It’s the best case scenario for everyone.

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Mets Need To Realize Actions Speak Louder Than Words http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/10/mets-need-to-realize-actions-speak-louder-than-words.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/10/mets-need-to-realize-actions-speak-louder-than-words.html/#comments Tue, 05 Oct 2010 11:00:24 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=37040 They’re gone!  Yes, Omar Minaya is thankfully no longer the General Manager of the New York Mets.  Even better news is that Jerry “The Gangsta” Manuel has finally been fired and will no longer be managing the Mets and laughing after a loss. I know the beat writers will miss him but we’re finally free of these two losers. Unfortunately this should have happened years ago but better late than never I suppose.

I watched the press conference and it all sounded nice but we’ve heard this all before. This organization talks a great game but when it’s time to deliver they’ve failed over and over again.  I know a lot of fans are happy that Omar and Jerry are done and they liked this press conference and are encouraged by it but I just don’t share their optimism. I wish I could but this team and the way it has been run in the past doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.

One of the things I hated was when the Wilpons said that they wanted to improve the team and win baseball games. Of course we all want them to win baseball games but we also want them to win a championship. To me that quote is very similar to meaningful baseball game sin September.

I didn’t like that Omar Minaya is still working with this organization and that the Wilpons said it’s up to the new General Manager whether Omar has a job or not.  I get it Omar has a contract and the Mets have to honor that contract.  Having said that Omar didn’t do his job.  I actually I should say he didn’t do a good job.  He has embarrassed this organization in the past, he should no longer in any fashion have a job with the New York Mets.  Much like Bobby Bonilla starting next year let Omar sit home and collect his paycheck.

I felt that the Wilpons insulted our intelligence once again by saying that they never once told Omar “NO.”  Maybe before 2008 that is true but for the last 2 seasons you cannot tell me that Omar was allowed to make moves and spend money.  I know they downplayed the Madoff scandal again but it had something to do with spending.

I did like that the Wilpons said that the General Manager will hire the manager. That is a step in the right direction.  I don’t know what that exactly does for Wally Backman, I guess we’ll have to wait until a new GM is hired.  I do hope that the new GM allows the next manager to pick his own staff. I also appreciated the way Fred Wilpon spoke about his love of this franchise.  I honestly believe he was being sincere in his statement.  I was a little confused though by him saying that he was still in charge.  The media and Fred himself have made it clear over the last couple of years that Jeff is in charge of the team.  Perhaps he worded his statement wrong but it comes off as unorganized in my opinion.

I hope the Wilpons prove me wrong, I really do. I hope that this press conference wasn’t all talk and that their actions will speak louder. We’ll see in 2011.

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The Worst Team Money Could Buy: The Sequel http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/04/the-worst-team-money-could-buy-the-sequel.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/04/the-worst-team-money-could-buy-the-sequel.html/#comments Thu, 15 Apr 2010 11:00:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=24533 Back in 1992, the Mets added four new faces to the team in the hopes that they could recapture the glory days of the recently concluded 1980s. In new manager Jeff Torborg, first baseman Eddie Murray, outfielder Bobby Bonilla and pitcher Bret Saberhagen, the Mets thought they could knock off the two-time NL East champion Pittsburgh Pirates from their perch atop the division.

Not only did they not dethrone the Pirates, they completely fell apart, finishing the 1992 season with a 72-90 record. That was good for a fifth place finish in the NL East, 24 games behind the three-peating Bucs.

The 1992 Mets employed many high-priced players and fading veterans. They also had quite a bit of turmoil in the clubhouse. That combination of poor play and off-the-field distractions served as the impetus for the book by Bob Klapisch and John Harper called “The Worst Team Money Could Buy: The Collapse of The New York Mets”.

So why is this relevant now in 2010? Because the last Mets team to begin their season with a 2-6 record was the 1992 Mets. That start has now been duplicated by the 2010 Mets.

Jeff Torborg was never the right man for the job in 1992. The 1992 Mets had to deal with injuries and players bouncing in and out of the lineup. Only Eddie Murray, Bobby Bonilla and Dick Schofield (yes, he was actually the Mets’ shortstop that year, forming a double play combo with Willie Randolph!) collected over 400 at-bats in 1992. Sound familiar?

Now we’re in 2010. Jerry Manuel’s leadership skills are being questioned and the Mets are playing musical chairs with their lineup on a daily basis. There appears to be no continuity from game to game and the Mets have not established anything other than their position in last place.

The team appears lost and is allowing pitchers like Greg Smith and Tyler Clippard to do their best Cy Young impersonations against the high-priced bats the Mets send up to the plate day in and day out.

Although the “it’s still early” mantra can still be used, the Mets are showing no sign of wanting to get out of their early season funk. There is no fire burning in the eyes of the players and they’re running out of excuses. They can’t use the “when we get healthy” excuse because the Phillies have Joe Blanton, J.C. Romero, Brad Lidge and now Jimmy Rollins all on the disabled list, yet they’re still sitting pretty atop the division with a 7-1 record.

The Mets are only eight games into the 2010 season and they’re already five games behind the first place Phillies. I don’t want to give up on the season so early, but the Mets have not shown me anything that could give me even a sliver of hope that they’re going to turn this sinking ship around. To borrow the team slogan, I’d like to believe the team will come back this year, but for now, it’s beginning to look a lot like 1992. The 2010 Mets are probably not the worst team money could buy, but they sure aren’t doing much to play like the best.

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This is an Epic Power Outage http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/09/this-is-an-epic-power-outage.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/09/this-is-an-epic-power-outage.html/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2009 17:45:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=12459 While we all know how the Mets have suffered what has basically amounted to season-ending injuries for several players, among them arguably our two top sluggers in Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado, I don’t think any of us expected this power outage to be legendary.  Because that’s what this is bordering on.

The Mets have 76 home runs through 132 games, putting them on pace for 93, their lowest total since 1992 when Bobby Bonilla led the team with 19.  Gary Sheffield currently leads this Mets team with 10 (Jeff Francoeur has 11, but only 6 with the Mets), so it looks like our leader is on pace for 12 or 13, a number that harkens back to the ‘70’s.

And if it weren’t for the 2008 San Francisco Giants, who had 94 homers (the lowest total and only mark under 100 of the new millennium), this Mets’ power or lack thereof would really be a black eye in the record books.  It still might be, as it’s quite likely the tally can be between 85 and 90, depending on if Beltran comes back.

So for all of the bad things that have happened to our Mets this season, the lack of home runs is possibly the most insulting, most disturbing and utterly forgettable trend we’ve seen.  It’s even magnified by the fact that this team has the second-highest payroll in the game.  By comparison, those guys across town have hit 207 homers, and even the lowly and small-market Pirates and Royals are over 100 at this point.

I know I’ve written about this subject before, and I’m not worried about this being a problem in 2010 (yet), but you have to admit these numbers are just baffling, and we might not see a power outage like this for another 30 years.

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Will Any Met Hit 20 Homers This Season? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/06/will-any-met-hit-20-homers-this-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/06/will-any-met-hit-20-homers-this-season.html/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2009 17:07:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=7354 Cavernous Citi Field has held in a lot of potential home runs, unlike the new Yankee Stadium, where they are literally partying like it’s 1999.  Aside from the Phillies’ Chase Utley, who has a knack for finding the shortest distance from the plate to the right field fence at Citi, both the Mets and their opponents have suffered from a power outage this season.  But it’s not just at home, because the Mets have brought their power outage on the road as well. 

 

Consider that the current leaders, Carlos Beltran and Gary Sheffield, have 8 home runs each so far.  Beltran has three at home, five on the road.  Sheff is split four and four.  Meanwhile, David Wright, who has just 4 homers, has three at home and only one away from Citi Field.  So how do you explain it?  And what does it project out to?  Well, Sheffield has played 58 games but can’t play every day because of creaky knees, and Beltran is on the DL.  Either way, their current pace projects to 18 homers for the season.  Wright’s pace is a paltry 9.  NINE.  We kind of cut the guy slack because he’s been leading the league in batting, but still — I expect nine homers from David Eckstein, not David Wright. 

 

Fascinating, isn’t it?  Well here is more to ponder.  The last time a Mets player hit less than 20 home runs was Bobby Bonilla in 1992, with 19.  Before that it was Lee Mazzilli’s 16 homers in 1980.  The team’s lowest-ever output was a three-way tie of 12 homers in 1977—between Steve Henderson, John Milner, and John Stearns.  It’s fathomable that if Sheffield and Beltran miss extensive time the rest of the way, the ’77 record could be broken, but it’s highly doubtful.  Even Carlos Delgado, who has 4 homers, could return from the DL in August and reach 20 by the end of September. 

 

So okay, it’s not necessarily Citi Field, though we’ve seen many potential home runs stay in the park there.  This is a more interesting issue, and maybe one that no one is discussing—the possibility that some of our Mets were using performance enhancers the last few seasons and didn’t get caught.  I’m not accusing, I’m just saying, the numbers just border on staggering, especially when Albert Pujols has 26 homers, 18 more than Sheffield or Beltran.

 

I’m curious to see what you all think of this.  I don’t believe any Met will reach 20 this season, do you? 

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