Mets Merized Online » Edgardo Alfonzo http://metsmerizedonline.com Sun, 01 Feb 2015 12:00:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.5 Alfonzo and Abreu Among Candidates To Replace Lamar Johnson http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/former-mets-alfonzo-abreu-among-candidates-to-replace-lamar-johnson.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/former-mets-alfonzo-abreu-among-candidates-to-replace-lamar-johnson.html/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 00:41:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166958 bobby abreu

Edgardo Alfonzo and Bobby Abreu have emerged as the leading candidates to replace Lamar Johnson as Mets hitting coach according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.

Abreu expressed interest in the job after his retirement on Sunday and according to Puma’s sources, Alfonzo was not very interested in the job before the season but would consider it if he was offered the position.

Last week, the Post reported that while the Mets might have interest in moving 3rd base coach Tim Teufel to that role, he is not currently interested.

Alfonzo was an extremely popular player in the ’90s. He hit .292 in 8 seasons in New York. He ranks 5th in Mets franchise history with 1136 hits. Alfonzo is also 9th on the Mets all time list with 120 home runs.

Abreu on the other hand is an all time great hitter. He is 103rd on the all time hits list with 2470, collecting most of those for the Phillies. He also collected 400+ hits for the Yankees and Angels.

Either would be a positive influence on the Mets and could potentially fit Sandy Alderson’s philosophy. Both could preach patience and one will likely become the next Mets hitting coach.

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Edgardo Alfonzo Excited About Cyclones Infield http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/edgardo-alfonzo-excited-about-cyclones-infield.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/edgardo-alfonzo-excited-about-cyclones-infield.html/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 16:08:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=158525 Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa and Edgardo Alfonzo (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa and Edgardo Alfonzo (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Former Met great Edgardo Alfonzo helped out the past few days as a special instructor for the Brooklyn Cyclones, who open their season tonight on the road against the Staten Island Yankees.

Alfonzo brings years of offensive and defensive expertise to these young players trying to get their feet wet in the big leagues. He said being around the team has caused him to remember his early days in the Mets organization.

“They’re big now,” Alfonzo said of the current players. “Here is better than Pittsfield (where he played Single-A ball). To come and see these young guys definitely reminds me of when I started with the Mets. Now that I’m retired and now a coach, it’s a great feeling to be with the kids and see the talent. I’m so happy to be back.”

Alfonzo was sure to instruct the infielders on baseball techniques, but he also said that he made it a point to stress the mental side of the game. Many of the players have the talent, but it’s just a matter of using that talent to their advantage, he said.

Amed Rosario (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Amed Rosario (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Speaking of talent, Alfonzo is very excited about the left side of the Cyclones’ infield: 18-year-old shortstop and No. 7 rated Mets prospect Amed Rosario and switch-hitting 19-year-old third baseman Jhoan Urena.

These two have quickly become best friends, and that chemistry should translate well on the field.

“They’re (Rosario and Urena) going to be good,” Alfonzo said. “We have a lot of potential guys here. They like to ask questions. I’m open to any of those guys who come with questions and try to give the right answer to them.”

Jhoan Urena (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Jhoan Urena (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Cyclones’ new manager Tom Gamboa echoed Alfonzo’s statements.

“He’s (Rosario) a five-tool player at shortstop and very exciting to watch,” Gamboa said. “I think the people are going to fall in love with him. It’s kind of ironic that his favorite player is Hanley Ramirez because by the time he’s 21 or 22, that’s probably the type of player that his skillset is going to be.”

That would be a great find for the Mets if the next Hanley Ramirez is currently in the system.

Gamboa said Urena has looked good in all the facets of the game as well. Judging by the opening workout, that left side of the infield has the potential to turn in highlight-reel plays each night and provide a spark offensively.

The Cyclones will open their season at home Saturday at 6 p.m., as tall righty Casey Meisner gets the start for Brooklyn.

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Collins On Flores: His Bat Potential Is Off The Charts http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/collins-on-flores-his-bat-potential-is-off-the-charts.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/collins-on-flores-his-bat-potential-is-off-the-charts.html/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2014 15:36:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=148861 wilmer - flores

Terry Collins said Wilmer Flores earned a big compliment while the Mets manager was talking to someone who had watched Flores play winter ball for several years. According to Mike Vorkunov of the Star-Ledger, Collins was told Flores was reminiscent of former Mets’ second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo.

“The bat potential is off the charts. Everybody talks about what a big RBI guy he is, what he’s going to be. Somebody told me yesterday they’ve watched him in winter ball for a few years and he reminds them of Fonzie. That is a big statement. And if that’s what Wilmer Flores is going to be, obviously you have to find a position for him to play.”

I previously wrote about what two scouts had to say about Flores when they saw him at Winter Ball this offseason. They each remarked about his improved athleticism and look. Today, Collins alluded to that as well.

“First of all, I tip my hat to him. He’s got a whole different body right now than he did at the end of the season,” Collins said about Flores, who took grounders at both middle-infield positions during Sunday’s workout. “He went to the fitness and nutrition camp in Michigan. He looks tremendous. He came in lighter. He came in more athletic.”

“I’m going to let him play some shortstop, but I want to see him at second. I want to see him at third.”

The problem for Flores is that the Mets failed to open up a position for him this offseason as many had hoped, and all his hard work and development may have him going straight back to the minors to begin the season.

As much as I’d like to see him make the team, I don’t see that happening and I don’t believe there’s any chance he sticks as a bench option – not that he should at his age.

Only an Ike Davis trade would open things up for the 22-year old infielder. Maybe.

(Photo by US Presswire)

Presented By Diehards

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Around the Diamond – What’s on Second? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/around-the-diamond-whats-on-second.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/around-the-diamond-whats-on-second.html/#comments Sat, 28 Dec 2013 18:53:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=136088 edgardo alfonzo

Going around the Diamond – there have been 24 different players in the Mets 52 year history that would could be classified as the “everyday” second baseman.

So who has played there the most? (seasons classified as the main second baseman in parenthesis)

10. Tim Teufel (1987). Tim played in 325 games (251 starts) at second for the Mets as the other half of the platoon with Wally Backman. He played in 93 games (72 starts) at second in 1987 to classify him as the “main” second baseman that season (although Wally Backman actually started 76 games, but appeared in 87 games at second that year – fewer than Teufel). In his 6 seasons as a Met, Tim hit .256 with 35 HR and 164 RBI.

9. Gregg Jefferies (1989-1991). Gregg played 328 games at second (308 starts). With the Mets, he was a .276 hitter with 42 HR, 205 RBI, 96 doubles, and 63 SB. He led the National League with 40 doubles in 1990.

8. Luis Castillo (2007-2010). Luis played in 342 games at second (325 starts). As a Met, he hit .274 with 5 HR, 105 RBI, and 55 SB.

7. Jeff Kent (1993-95). Jeff appeared in 390 games at second (383 starts). With the Mets, he hit .279 with 67 HR, 267 RBI and 98 doubles.

6. Ron Hunt (1963-64, 1966). Ron played 420 games at second (411 starts). As a Mets, he hit .282 with 20 HR and 127 RBI. He was an All-Star in 1964 & 1966.

5. Ken Boswell (1969-72). Ken played 506 games at second (472 starts). With the Mets, he hit .250 with 31 HR and 193 RBI.

4. Edgardo Alfonzo (1999-2001). Fonzie was the primary second baseman for the two back-to-back playoff teams and was also the Mets primary third baseman in 4 other seasons. As a Met, he hit .292 with 120 HR and 538 RBI. In 1999, he hit .304 with 27 HR, 108 RBI, scored 123 runs and hit 41 doubles with a .384 OBP. In 2000, he hit .324 with 25 HR, 94 RBI, scored 109 runs and hit 40 doubles with a .425 OBP. He was an All-Star in 2000 and the won the Silver Slugger award in 1999. Fonzie was, in my opinion, the best second baseman in franchise history.

3. Doug Flynn (1978-1981). Doug came to the Mets in the June 15, 1977 trade that banished Tom Seaver to the Reds. Doug appeared in 530 games at second (496 starts). In the Orange and Blue, he hit .234 with 5 HR and 155 RBI. In 1980, he won a Gold Glove.

2. Felix Millan (1973-77). Felix appeared in 674 games at second (657 starts) and in 1975, he started 162 games. With the Mets, he hit .278 with 8 HR and 182 RBI.

1. Wally Backman (1982, 1984-86, 1988). Wally played in more games at second than any other Met, appearing in 680 games at second (577 starts). He hit .283 with 7 HR and 165 RBI and 106 RBI.

Presented By Diehards

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The Top 10 Mets Offensive Seasons Since 1980 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/the-top-10-mets-offensive-seasons-since-1980.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/the-top-10-mets-offensive-seasons-since-1980.html/#comments Thu, 28 Nov 2013 05:19:51 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=133664 piazza

It’s hard to believe that we’re only a few seasons removed from some of the best offensive seasons in Mets history (hard to argue they haven’t been offensive lately, just in a different sense).

So what are the 10 best Mets seasons in terms of offensive production over the last 34 seasons? (I’m using 1980 because I’ve been following the team since the 80s)

Runs Scored Per Game

1.  1999 – 853 scored – 5.23

2.  2006 – 834 scored – 5.15

3.  1987 – 823 scored – 5.08

4.  2000 – 807 scored – 4.98

5.  2007 – 804 scored – 4.96

6.  2008 – 799 scored – 4.93

7.  1986 – 783 scored – 4.83

8.  1997 – 777 scored – 4.80

9.  1990 – 775 scored  – 4.72

10. 1996 – 746 scored – 4.60

We can see that from 2006-2008, the Mets produced some of their best offensive clubs since the 80s.  Yes, they collapsed in 2007 and 2008, but they had some of their best run producing seasons those three years.  From 1996-2000, we saw 4 of the top 10 best offensive seasons (with the exception of 1998, which did not make the list).  1986-1987 also produced another two top 10 seasons.   The only season that isn’t clumped together was 1990 – which was at the tail end of their dominance and followed the 1988 and 1989 seasons which included some of their top pitching clubs.

So who made up these typical lineups during these seasons of offensive plenty?

2006-2008

C – Paul Lo Duca / Brian Schneider

1B – Carlos Delgado

2B – Jose Valentin / Luis Castillo

SS – Jose Reyes

3B – David Wright

OF – Cliff Floyd / Moises Alou / Fernando Tatis

OF – Carlos Beltran

OF – Xavier Nady / Shawn Green / Ryan Church

Where was there continuity over those three seasons?  Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Carlos Beltran.  Four pretty good names.

1996*-1997

C – Todd Hundley

1B – Butch Huskey / John Olerud

2B – Jose Vizcaino / Carlos Baerga

SS – Rey Ordonez

3B – Jeff Kent / Edgardo Alfonzo

OF – Bernard Gilkey

OF – Lance Johnson

OF – Alex Ochoa / Butch Huskey

Edgardo Alfonzo made 85 starts in 1996 at 2B/3B/SS

1999-2000

C – Mike Piazza

1B – John Olerud / Todd Zeile

2B – Edgardo Alfonzo

SS – Rey Ordonez / Mike Bordick

3B – Robin Ventura

OF – Rickey Henderson / Benny Agbayani

OF – Brian McRae / Jay Payton

OF – Roger Cedeno / Derek Bell

1986-1987*

C – Gary Carter

1B – Keith Hernandez

2B – Wally Backman

SS – Rafael Santana

3B – Ray Knight / Howard Johnson

OF – Mookie Wilson / Kevin McReynolds

OF – Lenny Dykstra

OF – Darryl Strawberry

Tim Teufel made 70 starts in 1986 and 72 starts in 1987 as part of a platoon with Backman, Mookie Wilson made 76 starts in 1987

1990

C – Mackey Sasser

1B – Dave Magadan

2B – Gregg Jefferies

SS – Kevin Elster

3B – Howard Johnson

OF – Kevin McReynolds

OF – Daryl Boston

OF – Darryl Strawberry

edgardo alfonzo

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MMO Talks To Wilmer Flores: Works On Improving Even As Role Remains Unclear http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/mmo-talks-to-wilmer-flores-works-on-improving-even-as-role-remains-unclear.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/mmo-talks-to-wilmer-flores-works-on-improving-even-as-role-remains-unclear.html/#comments Tue, 29 Oct 2013 19:22:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=131892 wilmer flores

This year saw the continued decline of  once promising young talents such as Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada, allowing for a slew of fresh prospects to enter the mix at the major-league level. Terry Collins best described it in his pre-game press conference in that we “got to see the pieces” that will soon make this team competitive as well as what Collins also describes as “fun” come 2014.

Headlining that crop was Wilmer Flores, who since 2007 at the tender age of 16 has diligently worked his way through the Amazin’s system, finally arriving in Flushing in early August.

His rookie campaign had it’s ups and downs, however while speaking with Flores prior to the Mets season finale against the Brewers, the Venezuelan-native said he was content with his year as a whole because he knows he tried his hardest, however hopes to work this offseason towards improving in 2014.

“I feel really satisfied with myself because I know I did my best,” said Flores on his rookie season in which he batted .211/.248/.295 at the major-league level and .321/.357/.542 in Las Vegas. “I know I could have done better up here, but things happen. You just got to keep working and get ready for next season.”

On the defensive side of diamond, Flores played primarily second base in Triple-A, however moved over to third when he was promoted to replace the injured captain David Wright. Flores says he is most comfortable at second, however is open to playing wherever the Mets need him.

“I played a lot of second base at Triple-A, and I feel very comfortable at second base.

“I am just going to play anywhere they want me to,” said Flores when asked if he is open to playing first base.

Flores started out performing well in his first week in the big leagues, however a nagging ankle injury continued from mid-August through much of the rest of the season, an ailment that he says affected his ability to stay in a rhythm

“I had my tempo going and then I got hurt,” said Flores of his injury that originally occurred against the Dodgers on August 14th. “You know things happen, its going to happen. I just have to get some rest and let it heal and just keep working.”

wilmer flores

In his effort to ‘just keep working’, Flores has made a point to work on improving his selectivity and discipline at the plate.

“I just need to work on getting a good pitch to hit,” said Flores. “And try not to swing on too many pitches out of the strike zone.

Other than that, Flores says his primary goal this winter is to improve his speed.

“Try to get quicker,” said Flores when I asked what he intends to focus on during the offseason. “That’s what I’m trying to do.”

In another interview I conducted with Met-legend Edgardo Alfonzo, the former All-Star stated that he believes Flores is very talented, and when he attains more confidence in the big leagues, will be set. Flores says he believes he has gained a certain measure of confidence at the major-league level, however makes sure he does not get too comfortable.

“Yeah I think I have a little more confidence,” said Flores. “But still; it’s the big leagues. You don’t get too comfortable like that. But I think as time goes you get a little more comfortable.”

Getting comfortable in the big leagues is somewhat easier when you have veterans to look up to. Flores, as one of the younger players on the team, says he takes after a number of the Mets veteran talents.

“On this team, I look at all the players,” said Flores when asked if he has anyone who he looks up to or is mentored by on the team. “The veteran players like David [Wright], and Murphy. I just like the way they work, I like the way they go about their business.”

Flores will look to earn himself a significant role on the roster in what will surely be an interesting competition on the right side of the infield come Spring Training 2014.

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Wilmer Flores Looks To Improve Speed, Plate Discipline In 2014 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/wilmer-flores-looks-to-improve-speed-plate-discipline-in-2014.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/wilmer-flores-looks-to-improve-speed-plate-discipline-in-2014.html/#comments Mon, 30 Sep 2013 16:00:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130416 flores 4

The 2013 Mets season has now officially been placed ‘in the books’.

This year saw the continued decline of  once promising young talents such as Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada, allowing for a slew of fresh prospects to enter the mix at the major-league level. Terry Collins best described it in his pre-game press conference in that we “got to see the pieces” that will soon make this team competitive as well as what Collins also describes as “fun” come 2014.

Headlining that crop was Wilmer Flores, who since 2007 at the tender age of 16 has diligently worked his way through the Amazin’s system, finally arriving in Flushing in early August.

His rookie campaign had it’s ups and downs, however speaking with Flores prior to the Mets season finale against the Brewers, the Venezuelan-native said he was content with his year as a whole because he knows he tried his hardest, however hopes to work this offseason towards improving in 2014.

“I feel really satisfied with myself because I know I did my best,” said Flores on his rookie season in which he batted .211/.248/.295 at the major-league level and .321/.357/.542 in Las Vegas. “I know I could have done better up here, but things happen. You just got to keep working and get ready for next season.”

Photo Credit: Ari Hirsch of The Vues Online

On the defensive side of diamond, Flores played primarily second base in Triple-A, however moved over to third when he was promoted to replace the injured captain David Wright. Flores says he is most comfortable at second, however is open to playing wherever the Mets need him.

“I played a lot of second base at Triple-A, and I feel very comfortable at second base.

“I am just going to play anywhere they want me to,” said Flores when asked if he is open to playing first base.

Flores started out performing well in his first week in the big leagues, however a nagging ankle injury continued from mid-August through much of the rest of the season, an ailment that he says affected his ability to stay in a rhythm

“I had my tempo going and then I got hurt,” said Flores of his injury that originally occurred against the Dodgers on August 14th. “You know things happen, its going to happen. I just have to get some rest and let it heal and just keep working.”

wilmer flores

In his effort to ‘just keep working’, Flores has made a point to work on improving his selectivity and discipline at the plate.

“I just need to work on getting a good pitch to hit,” said Flores. “And try not to swing on too many pitches out of the strike zone.

Other than that, Flores says his primary goal this winter is to improve his speed.

“Try to get quicker,” said Flores when I asked what he intends to focus on during the offseason. “That’s what I’m trying to do.”

 

Last week, in my interview with Met-legend Edgardo Alfonzo, the former All-Star stated that he believes Flores is very talented, and when he attains more confidence in the big leagues, will be set. Flores says he believes he has gained a certain measure of confidence at the major-league level, however makes sure he does not get too comfortable.

“Yeah I think I have a little more confidence,” said Flores. “But still; it’s the big leagues. You don’t get too comfortable like that. But I think as time goes you get a little more comfortable.”

wilmer flores

Getting comfortable in the big leagues is somewhat easier when you have veterans to look up to. Flores, as one of the younger players on the team, says he takes after a number of the Mets veteran talents.

“On this team, I look at all the players,” said Flores when asked if he has anyone who he looks up to or is mentored by on the team. “The veteran players like David [Wright], and Murphy. I just like the way they work, I like the way they go about their business.”

Flores will look to earn himself a significant role on the roster in what will surely be an interesting competition on the right side of the infield come Spring Training 2014.

(Photo Credit: Ari Hirsch)

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Video: Mike Piazza Inducted Into Mets Hall Of Fame http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/video-mike-piazza-inducted-into-mets-hall-of-fame.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/video-mike-piazza-inducted-into-mets-hall-of-fame.html/#comments Sun, 29 Sep 2013 17:55:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130341 photo (32)

Very rarely is a team graced with a player of the stature and talent of Michael Joseph Piazza. Subsequently, very rarely does a fanbase and a city mutually bond with a player like Michael Joseph Piazza.

Today as Piazza was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame, fans were able to share yet another special moment with the greatest offensive catcher of all time.

“I look back now, in retrospect, and realize it was just fate,” said Piazza in a press conference prior to his induction ceremony. “I was just meant to be here. That’s that feeling I was talking about. You know, you can talk about agents and numbers and arguments and who’s right and who’s wrong. But if you look at the big picture of life, you realize that sometimes there’s just a destiny in things. And I truly feel it was my plan to be here, in one way, shape or form. It may not have been the most beautiful journey at the time, but it was meant to be.”

piazza

Piazza emerged from the home dugout and onto the field for a sellout crowd as master of ceremonies Howie Rose introduced the 12-time all-star. Met greats such as Doc Gooden, Rusty Staub, John Franco, Edgardo Alfonzo, Ed Kranepool, Keith Hernanez, Buddy Harrelson, Al Jackson, Mookie Wilson and Ed Charles were on hand to celebrate the 45-year old.

After Rose announce September 29th Mike Piazza Day in the city of New York, a number of teammates including Alfonzo, Franco commended him on his tremendous accomplishments as well as Al Leiter who did so via video message from MLB Network’s Studio 3.

piazza

Then came the induction, in which Franco and Alfonzo presented Piazza with his plaque, to which he proud held overhead for all 41,891 fans see.

piazza

In Piazza’s speech, he continued to thank the fans as well as God for his incredible baseball career. He then spoke to his mother and father, in a tearful moment in which he thanked them for all of their hard work in getting him to where he is today, his father visibly emotional.

Piazza then moved into an unfamiliar location, the mound, to throw out the first pitch. Mets captain David Wright acted as the catcher, in a fantastic moment in which Piazza delivered a perfect strike on the left side of the plate, much to the pleasure on an elated crowd, yet another beautiful moment between him and the fans.

piazza

“I think, my relationship here with the fans, like any relationship; when I got here they didn’t know me too well,” said Piazza. “They didn’t know anything about me. They didn’t know if I was going to stay. They didn’t know if I was completely committed to staying here. And I had some rough patches. I obviously struggled a little at the plate driving in runs and they let me hear it, and I was thinking to myself, ‘I can do one of two things: I can run and go to somewhere a little more safer and comfortable. Or I can meet this head-on and try to prove to these people that I want to belong and want to play for them and perform for them.’”

Mike Piazza, who with a swing of the bat brought New York City to their feet following the attacks on 9/11, was able to do so with a smile and a wave one more time in a tremendous ceremony of a Mets great.

Hopefully sooner rather than late, we will be able to celebrate Piazza once again, when number 31 is officially in left field among the other immortalized Mets; where it belongs.

(Photo Credits: Clayton Collier)

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MMO Exclusive With Edgardo Alfonzo: “I Think It’s Going To Be A Great Future” http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/egardo-alfonzo-i-think-its-going-to-be-a-great-future.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/egardo-alfonzo-i-think-its-going-to-be-a-great-future.html/#comments Mon, 23 Sep 2013 14:40:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=129401 wilmer flores

As the 2013 season draws to a close for the New York Mets, what can be taken away from their fifth-straight losing season is the emergence of a number of young talents ranging from the pitching mound to the bullpen; from home plate, to centerfield.

Met-Legend Edgardo Alfonzo was once an up-and-coming prospect himself, becoming a premiere bat and a defensive wonder during the Amazin’s turn-of-the-century stretch of October runs from 1999-2000.

When I asked about the talented youth at the major league level today, the 40-year old former infielder had nothing but positive things to say.

“They have a bunch of new guys,” said Alfonzo when asked about the arrival of several prospects in Flushing. “I think it’s going to be a great future.”

edgardo alfonzo

When getting into specifics, Alfonzo said he is looking forward to seeing how the young pitching develops, however stressed the need to posses confidence in order to be successful.

“The pitching staff is going to be amazing,” said Alfonzo. “The longer they get to learn the game and have the confidence, I think it is going to be good.”

On the offensive side of the diamond, Alfonzo spoke primarily about his fellow Venezuelan-native Wilmer Flores, keeping with the theme of confidence at the major-league level across the board for any blossoming talent.

“I like Flores because I have seen him play and I know the kind of talent he has,” said Alfonzo. “When he gets that confidence at the major-league level it is going to be good for him.”

What has remained uncertain about Flores is his position with the team in the years to come. Alfonzo says that remains to be seen, given the wild uncertainty of trying to predict the future in Major League Baseball.

“I see him being at first base or second base, or even at third, you never know; you never know,” said Alfonzo. “This game is so weird that you don’t understand. You just have to be there and they will make a decision.”

wilmer flores

That said, if it were up to him, Alfonzo would personally put the young talent at second.

“If I were the manager today, I would say Flores will play second base,” said Alfonzo. “He needs to work and get back to that position the way he’s supposed to, because this is a young guy; he has power, and like I said, once he gets that confidence, I think he’s going to be fine.

As a youngster on a team of primarily veterans in their prime years, it took Alfonzo a pair of seasons to get his offensive game going before having a breakout year in 1997. This season has shown that some of their offensive prospects have the talent, but may take some time to become comfortable in the major-leagues.

wheeler harvey

“There’s a bunch of guys,” said Alfonzo when asked about anyone in particular he believes will have success at the major-league level. “I’m not going to just pick one guy. I talk about Flores because I have known him since Venezuela, but the pitching man, it’s going to be great.”

They come from far and wide: Harvey drafted out of the Constitution State. Wheeler reeled in from the West Coast; their backstop in Travis d’Arnaud acquired from North of the Border. A 24-year old defensive angel in the outfield in Juan Lagares hailing from the D.R., and the long-awaited Wilmer Flores originating in Venezuela.

They headline an ever-deepening pool of young and talented ballplayers assembling at Citi Field. Their presence marks both the end of the “future” and the commencement of the long-awaited present Mets fans have so desperately yearned for for seven seasons.

the future

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9/11 Home Run from the Other Side http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/911-home-run-from-the-other-side.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/911-home-run-from-the-other-side.html/#comments Wed, 11 Sep 2013 13:25:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=129017 Here is a story I wrote for The Tablet newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y.

We will always remember Mike Piazza‘s “Healing Power of a Swing,” but it turns out the Braves’ pitcher that surrendered the home run, Steve Karsay, grew up just 15 minutes from Shea Stadium.

Here’s what Karsay had to say about that whole experience.

Originally published in The Tablet newspaper.

No one will soon forget how our nation was devastated in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

It’s amazing to think that 12 years have passed since that day, but to so many people, it still feels like yesterday.

We’ll never forget how the nation united in the days and weeks after the attacks. And while it was minor in the grand scheme of things, sports fans will never forget the impact of New York Mets’ catcher and Brooklyn diocesan hero Mike Piazza’s healing home run.

On Sept. 21, 2001, the Mets hosted the Atlanta Braves in the first professional sports game back in New York after the attacks. The city needed some sort of distraction, and Piazza provided just that with a clutch two-run homer in the eighth inning, which propelled the Mets to victory.

Mike  Piazza’s home run in the first game back in New York City after the 9/11 terrorist attacks lifted a city in need. (Photo courtesy New York Mets)

Mike Piazza’s home run in the first game back in New York City after the 9/11 terrorist attacks lifted a city in need. (Photo courtesy New York Mets)

Piazza has been asked countless times about the significance of that home run – which has been called the “Healing Power of a Swing” – and he always responds that he prayed to God to give him the strength to do his best in that moment.

But what about the perspective of the Braves that fateful night? It must have been tough to be in that situation. Atlanta held a 5.5-game lead in the standings over the Mets heading into that game, so the Braves had to make sure the Mets would not catch them for the division title.

And what about the pitcher who gave up Piazza’s home run? If anyone were going to be the hero in that moment, it fittingly would have been Piazza – the Mets’ perennial All-Star.

It turns out that the pitcher was Braves’ right-handed reliever Steve Karsay, who grew up in College Point, just 15 minutes from Shea Stadium – the site of the Sept. 21 game.

Karsay pitched at Christ the King R.H.S. from 1986 to 1990. The Royals won the 1988 city championship with a pitching staff of Karsay and lefty Allen Watson, who pitched eight seasons in the big leagues.

As a native New Yorker, Karsay said the whole experience of playing at Shea Stadium after the terrorist attacks was very emotional, especially during the pre-game ceremony. Normally hated rivals, the Mets and Braves embraced on the field right after the National Anthem, which featured bagpipes to honor the fallen heroes.

“We (the Braves) felt a little bit different at the time knowing the significance of that game,” Karsay said. “Having the crowd be into a baseball game at that time seemed kind of strange to me.”

However, once the first pitch was thrown, Karsay said the Braves were focused solely on winning the game. The two teams were locked in a pennant race after all.

As the game progressed though, Karsay again started feeling the emotions of the situation, especially seeing all the police officers, firefighters and emergency service personnel in the crowd.

“You see the atmosphere, and you get chills,” he said. “That’s what you felt like in the game.”

Christ the King R.H.S. graduate Steve  Karsay gave up Piazza’s home run. (Photo courtesy The Topps Company)

Christ the King R.H.S. graduate Steve Karsay gave up Piazza’s home run. (Photo courtesy The Topps Company)

The Braves broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the eighth inning when right fielder Brian Jordan delivered an RBI double to left center field. Atlanta manager Bobby Cox then phoned to the bullpen for Karsay to pitch the bottom of the eighth.

Karsay retired Mets’ right fielder Matt Lawton to start the inning, but he then walked second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo on a full-count pitch. He said he was mad at himself for allowing the tying run to reach base with the dangerous Piazza stepping to the plate.

Karsay started the at-bat off to the Mets’ slugger by painting the outside corner with a 97 mph fastball for strike one. He figured he could try to sneak another fastball by Piazza in the same spot, thus setting up a breaking pitch to try to get an out.

But Piazza had different plans. He crushed Karsay’s offering off the stadium’s camera tower in center field. He gave the Mets the lead, but more importantly, Piazza’s homer turned the attention away from Ground Zero – even if just for a short time.

“After he hit it, for me looking back, it was the kind of emotion that rivals the loudest cheers I’ve ever heard on a baseball field,” Karsay said. “To have that moment uneased the crowd. During the game, it was tense. You can just feel what that home run meant for the healing of New York City.”

No pitcher goes into any at-bat wanting to give up a home run. But seeing what that home run meant to so many people looking for an escape from reality, the native New Yorker Karsay embraced Piazza’s “Healing Power of a Swing.”

“If there was any time to give up a home run, though I obviously didn’t want to,” Karsay said. “That was the time.”

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Sights and Sounds of the 2013 All-Star FanFest! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/sights-and-sounds-of-the-2013-all-star-fanfest.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/sights-and-sounds-of-the-2013-all-star-fanfest.html/#comments Sat, 13 Jul 2013 16:31:51 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=124719 fan fest ribbon cutting

Let’s get this 2013 MLB All-Star FanFest started…

all star 5k run

On your marks, get set, go… MLB mascots kick off today’s 5K All Star Run…

gooden franco larussa

John Franco wants to know if there’s a Doctor in the house…

mookie ozzie

Mookie and Ozzie and some dude with a big head…

mlb fan fest family photo

I have no idea who what that green thing in the White Sox hat is….

fan fest mets ball

Now that is one cool baseball!

harvey wright jerseys

Hmmm…. Let me get one of each in extra large please….

finzie

Everybody wants an autograph….

cano rivera

Boo!!!!

mets baseball fan fest'

OMG!!! How cool would this look in my man cave?

bucket of all star balls

Something for the kiddies….

Former Mets John Franco, Mookie Wilson and Edgardo Alfonzo are on hand at the Javits Center to open the five-day 2013 All-Star FanFest.

Noah Syndergaard, Taijuan Walker and Archie Bradley visit Foley’s, the Fan Cave, MLB.com offices and FanFest during a tour of New York City.

Check back later for more sights and sounds from the All-Star FanFest!

 

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Is Matt Harvey Overexposed… Literally? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/is-matt-harvey-overexposed-literally.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/is-matt-harvey-overexposed-literally.html/#comments Mon, 08 Jul 2013 16:07:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=124115 matt harvey nude

In the summer of 1990 the Yankees were playing the White Sox in a relatively unimportant game. “Neon” Deion Sanders walked to the plate and with the end of his bat he drew an “S” in the dirt with a line through it. A dollar sign. The Sox catcher immediately wiped it away. Undeterred, the 22-year-old Sanders again marked the area in front of home plate with a dollar sign. “That’s why I’m here,” he stated to the catcher. The catcher that afternoon was 43 year-old veteran Carlton Fisk, an old school ballplayer in every sense of the word. The future Hall of Famer wiped it away a second time and stated defiantly, “You do that a third time, Sanders, and I’ll bury you there.”

“Pudge” was a big time throwback. In his own way he taught Sanders that this is baseball and that kind of behavior won’t be tolerated in a game so steeped in tradition and history.

As I’ve stated before in previous blogs, I am a complete traditionalist when it comes to our National Pastime. I cherish the history, the records, have memorized stats and view the all-time greats as if they were Greek Gods from Mount Olympus. So, when the fabric of the game is possibly tarnished, it doesn’t sit well with me. When it’s one of the Mets, it’s hard to accept.

I am old-fashioned. Perhaps too old-fashioned. And maybe I have too much time on my hands. I like to hold baseball and those who play the game to a higher standard than athletes of other sports.

On July 12th, ESPN will release their annual ‘The Body Issue’ in which athletes are featured nude, albeit with strategically placed items covering genitalia. 21 sports stars will be included in the 2013 issue. Only two baseball players are included. One of whom is our own Matt Harvey.

Granted, Harvey is a young and buff 24-year-old professional athlete. He’s obviously fit, tone and muscled. His chiseled form would make Hans and Franz jealous. Again, I’m old-fashioned but again, I like to hold ballplayers and especially my Mets to a higher standard. I won’t say he was wrong for doing it. But I can’t say I’m in favor of it either.

Danica_Patrick_03 - CopyNow, many women who look at the pictures will have no problem with the physical specimen Harvey is. Many guys will say, “I don’t need to see that.” But is this necessary? Are the photographs “art?” Maybe, maybe not. Art is subjective. Some consider the Mona Lisa a masterpiece. Others consider a collection of Campbell Soup Cans a masterpiece. Each to his own.

Some will argue that “If it was a woman, you’d have no problem with it.” But I must disagree. If someone wants to be recognized for their achievements in a competitive sport then they should not resort to using their own sexuality. Danica Patrick gets angered when she’s treated differently than one of ‘the boys.’ She wants to be judged on her individual merits and accomplishments. A professional athlete, a NASCAR driver. But then she goes out and poses in a bikini lying across the hood of a car. Natalie Gulbis gets upset when she is treated like a sex object and not a professional golfer. But then, she turns around and sells her annual calendar in which she appears in various provocative outfits.

True, I have no problem with the double-standard displayed by Patrick or Gulbis or others. But they are golfers and race car drivers. Not baseball players.

Football has cheerleaders. Basketball has cheerleaders. And while I’m not a fan of either sport, I have no problem with that. But I am glad baseball does not. In the mid 1980’s, Cubs ball girl Marla Collins found herself in the national spotlight as WGN broadcast games from coast-to-coast. Collins took advantage of her notoriety and posed for Playboy. She was quickly fired.

Over the last three plus months Harvey has been compared to Tom Seaver and Doc Gooden. I know times have changed. And baseball has changed. But can anyone picture a 25-year-old fit Tom Seaver doing a “photo shoot” of this nature?

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Babe Ruth was the greatest baseball star ever. He was an icon that became bigger than the game itself. He was America’s first sports hero. Yet, he managed to accomplish this level of stardom without ever appearing spread eagle in a Speedo across the hood of a Studebaker. (I’m assuming he never did. I was too afraid to Google ‘Babe Ruth Speedo.’) The most important player to ever walk onto the diamond was Jackie Robinson. But the No. 42 was retired by all major league clubs and April 15th is known as Jackie Robinson Day because of what Jackie meant to the game and to America, not because he ever stretched across second base at Ebbets Field wearing only a strategically placed batting glove.

I’m a man. And I’ll be the first to admit it’s a man’s world, be it in the job market where men are paid more or movies which are mostly geared to men. Even advertising makes it abundantly clear: Drink our beer and you go home with the hot chick. Put on a splash of our cologne and you’ll go home with two or three hot chicks.

So, is there a double standard? Absolutely. But it goes both ways. Matt Harvey is pitching superbly and therefore gets a pass. Now, what if one-win-10-loss Shaun Marcum, another physically fit athlete, did this? For 15 years, Derek Jeter has been the heartthrob of female fans nationwide. Yet, I am fairly sure the Captain of the Yankees has never been photographed like this. A friend of mine who is an avid Mets fan has had a schoolgirl-like crush on Mike Piazza for years. Yet, Piazza somehow managed to establish his place in the hearts of Mets fans by being a winner and hitting a home run days after 9/11. And he did this while leaving his clothes on.

1977-1000-poster-01 - CopyGrowing up in the 70s, my bedroom wall was adorned with numerous posters and photographs. As expected, I, like most boys my age, had the obligatory posters of Farrah Fawcett and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. I also had a poster of Fonzie with his thumbs up and a caption reading, “Heyyyyyy.” (Fonzie being Henry Winkler, not Edgardo Alfonzo.) But I also had baseball related pictures. Each year I scotch taped that year’s team picture of the Mets, as well as posters of Rusty Staub, Tom Seaver and George Brett. The only ‘suggestive’ posters were the ones of Farrah and the Cowboy Cheerleaders. The one of Seaver was in mid-wind-up, the ones of Staub and Brett were standing at home plate. I doubt that any eight year Mets fan will be putting these types of pictures of Matt Harvey on their wall.

Again, I’m old-fashioned. And perhaps, this is much ado about nothing. It probably is. And really, I should be old enough and wise enough at this point in my life to realize that ballplayers are just people and not Gods from Mount Olympus.

Congratulations to Matt Harvey for being selected to his first All-Star Game. Let’s just hope (at least us guys) that he remembers to be wearing his uniform when he takes the mound next week.

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Daniel Murphy’s Fielding Cycle and Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ Offensive Outburst http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/daniel-murphys-fielding-cycle-and-kirk-nieuwenhuis-offensive-outburst.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/daniel-murphys-fielding-cycle-and-kirk-nieuwenhuis-offensive-outburst.html/#comments Sat, 06 Jul 2013 15:36:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=123982 daniel murphy throwingkirk nieuwenhuis mets brewers

On Friday night, the Mets hammered the Milwaukee Brewers, defeating them by the final score of 12-5.  The Bad News Brewers committed three errors on the field and a number of mental errors on the bases.  Despite the Brew Crew’s valiant effort to become the butt of David Letterman’s next Top Ten list, it was two Mets players who really stood out.  One went 0-for-6 but took part in a fielding oddity, while the other reached base all six times he came up to the plate, something very few Mets had ever accomplished.

Daniel Murphy did not have a good night at the dish, going hitless in six plate appearances on a night the Mets collected 14 hits.  But he did make up for it on the field, especially after committing what appeared to be a costly error in the first inning.

In the second inning, with the Mets holding a 5-2 lead, pitcher Zack Wheeler got his Brewers’ counterpart Johnny Hellweg to hit a ground ball to Murphy.  Murphy threw out Hellweg at first base to end the inning.

One inning later, Murphy was involved in a huge play, one that helped the Mets maintain their three-run lead.  With Norichika Aoki on third base and Carlos Gomez on first, the Brewers attempted a double steal.  But Murphy wisely cut off catcher John Buck‘s throw to second and fired a strike back to Buck, who tagged out Aoki as he was trying to score.  Murphy’s heads-up assist kept the Brewers off the scoreboard in the third.

Murphy’s defensive acumen was showcased in the seventh inning, when he participated in two consecutive key plays.  With the Mets holding on to an 8-4 lead, Aoki led off the inning with a single off reliever Greg Burke.  The next batter, Jean Segura, then hit a grounder to Murphy, who threw out Aoki at second base.  Carlos Gomez then followed with a long fly ball to deep center that bounced off the wall.  Segura scored easily to cut the Mets’ lead to three.  But Murphy, after taking the relay throw from centerfielder Juan Lagares, threw a laser to third baseman David Wright, who placed the tag on the sliding Gomez for the second out of the inning.

So did you notice what Murphy did?  He threw out Johnny Hellweg at first base, Norichika Aoki at home plate, Aoki again at second base, and Carlos Gomez at third base.  Murphy may not have gotten a hit at the plate, but he was a big hit on the field, collecting a rare “fielding cycle” by throwing out runners at every base.  No records on fielding cycles are kept (after all, I just created the term), but it must be a rarity and is certainly an oddity.

Speaking of rarities, Mets’ rightfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis also had a wonderful game at the plate.  Nieuwenhuis had six plate appearances and reached base in every one of them, collecting four hits and two walks.  He also stole a base, scored three runs and had a career-high five RBI.

In reaching base six times, Nieuwenhuis accomplished a feat that hadn’t been done by a Met in 13 seasons.  The last Met to reach base six times in a nine-inning game was Mike Piazza, who went 2-for-6 with four walks in a 12-8 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on May 27, 2000.  That came less than a year after Edgardo Alfonzo also reached base six times in a nine-inning game against the Houston Astros, although Alfonzo collected six hits in his special game.

Prior to last night, only three Mets had ever had a game in which they collected four hits, three runs, five RBI and a stolen base.  The first Met to do so was Claudell Washington, who went 4-for-5 with three runs, five RBI and a steal against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 22, 1980.  Seven years later, Darryl Strawberry torched the Chicago Cubs for four hits, five runs, five RBI and threw in a stolen base for good measure on August 16, 1987 – the same game in which the Mets scored a team record 23 runs.  Finally, David Wright joined the club on August 10, 2005, when he lit up Padres pitchers for four hits, three runs, six RBI and a steal.  But none of those players reached base six times in their memorable games.  Washington and Wright reached base four times, while Strawberry was a baserunner five times.  Nieuwenhuis is now the fourth player in this exclusive club, and the only one who reached base six times in his club-making effort.

The Mets had a number of contributors in Friday night’s 12-5 victory over the Brewers.  Zack Wheeler got out of a one-out, bases loaded jam in the fifth inning to qualify for the victory.  Ike Davis, in his first game back from his one-month Vegas vacation, went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI.  Eric Young, Jr. collected two hits, scored three runs and stole a base as the Mets’ table setter.  And Juan Lagares continued to contribute defensively while recording his first three-RBI game in the majors.

All of those players had outstanding games against Milwaukee.  But Daniel Murphy and Kirk Nieuwenhuis had performances that had rarely, if ever, been seen before by a player wearing a Mets uniform.  As the old saying goes, if you watch this game long enough, you may see something you’ve never seen before.  With their performances on the field last night, Daniel Murphy and Kirk Nieuwenhuis certainly did their part to make that statement true.

 

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Wilmer Flores Is Ready For The Mets, But Are The Mets Ready For Him? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/wilmer-flores-is-ready-for-the-mets-but-are-the-mets-ready-for-him.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/wilmer-flores-is-ready-for-the-mets-but-are-the-mets-ready-for-him.html/#comments Wed, 03 Jul 2013 12:39:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=123712 MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at Detroit Tigers

After being selected to the Triple-A All Star team for the Pacific Coast League, Wilmer Flores celebrated the occasion by going  5-for-6 with two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored. He’s now boasting a .320/.367/.520 batting line with 27 doubles, four triples and ten home runs in 325 at-bats while scoring 53 runs. Amazingly for a power hitter, Flores is only striking out at a 12% rate.

The 21-year old is still playing second base everyday for Las Vegas with an occasional start at first base. The Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said last month, that Flores will remain a second baseman and while his range there is not elite, it’s more than acceptable and the important thing is he’s a solid fielder, can turn the double play, and has a strong arm. A quick look at his defensive metrics show that Flores and Daniel Murphy are quite similar in range and fielding percentage.

The real question here though is, who is the Mets’ true second baseman of the future? Murphy or Flores who is seven years younger?

Last week I was asked when the Mets would promote Flores, and my reply was that there is no chance they would bring him up unless there is an everyday spot in the lineup for him.

With the Mets dead-set on keeping Flores at second base, a decision I emphatically agree with, his eventual debut may come on the heels of trading Murphy before the July 31 deadline.

Murphy is batting .270/.309/.393 in 323 at-bats this season and has never evolved into the kind of power hitter the Mets wanted him to be. With Murphy arbitration eligible and the likelihood for considerable more salary coming his way, he is clearly someone who is at risk of being shuffled off perhaps to fill a greater need at shortstop or in the outfield.

Flores at 21 has nothing left to prove in the minors. Despite being the third youngest player in his league, he is in the top ten in runs scored, hits, doubles, RBI, total bases and slugging. To those of you who want to discount his production because of the hitter-friendly environment, remember he was just as dominant in the pitching-friendly environments of the Florida State and Eastern Leagues.

While Matt Harvey may go down as the best pitcher the Mets have ever drafted and developed, Flores could very well be one of the top international free agent signings in franchise history joining Jose Reyes and Edgardo Alfonzo. Flores, unlike many other top prospects who have flopped during their rise through the minors, is the rare top prospect who is meeting and exceeding all expectations.

Wilmer Flores

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Montero and Syndergaard to Represent Mets in 2014 Futures Game http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/montero-and-syndergaard-to-represent-mets-in-2014-futures-game.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/montero-and-syndergaard-to-represent-mets-in-2014-futures-game.html/#comments Wed, 26 Jun 2013 19:31:41 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=123182 Starting pitching prospects Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard will both be at Citi Field in the middle of July. They aren’t getting the call to the big leagues just yet, but they will be representing the Mets as their two participants for this year’s Futures Game. The event will be held on Sunday, July 14th at 2pm.

Yesterday, we found out Mookie Wilson will manage the USA team, while Edgardo Alfonzo will head the World team. They will each get a highly-rated Mets hurler for their squads, as Syndergaard will go to the US, and Montero to the World.

Syndergaard has spent most of the season with St. Lucie, but recently got promoted to Double-A, impressing in his first outing for the B-Mets. Overall, Noah is 4-3 with a 3.10 ERA in 13 starts (69.2 innings pitched), and has collected 71 strikeouts and 17 walks.

Montero got roughed up for the first time in Triple-A last night, but still has had a stellar season while splitting time with Binghamton and Las Vegas. He’s a combined 7-4 in 15 starts (86.2 innings pitched), with a 2.91 ERA, 92 strikeouts, and 16 walks.

Like the MLB does with the All-Star game, there is a final vote left up to the fans for the remaining spots on the USA and World teams. Ten players will be vying for two spots (five on each side), and Brandon Nimmo is included in this year’s vote. Make sure to cast a vote for the 2011 first-round pick by visiting this site.

(Photo courtesy of Gordon Donovan)

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Memorable Mets Moments: Joe McEwing Takes On The Big Unit http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/memorable-mets-moments-joe-mcewing-takes-on-the-big-unit.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/memorable-mets-moments-joe-mcewing-takes-on-the-big-unit.html/#comments Mon, 03 Jun 2013 14:48:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=120649 Diamondbacks v Mets

JOE (DAVID) McEWING VS. RANDY (GOLIATH) JOHNSON

Deserved or not, certain players earn a reputation for “owning” certain opponents. Long in the tooth Met fans (like myself) will recall how Tom Seaver was able to dominate many of his era’s greatest hitters but would look like he was throwing batting practice to an otherwise unremarkable infielder by the name of Woody Woodward. Woodward bounced around the league for parts of nine seasons in the ‘60’s and 70’s playing for the Expo’s, Braves, and Reds,  logging a lifetime batting average of .236, hitting exactly one home run, and generally failing to strike fear into the heart of most opposition moundsmen. But if Tom Terrific was toeing the rubber that day, the Wood-man would morph into a line drive machine and rattle number 41’s offerings around from line to line.  For his career, Woodward tattooed Seaver to the tune of a .387 average by going 12-for-31 and threw in 3 walks for good measure to record an OBP against the Met ace of .441. Seaver did manage to strike him out-just once-to salvage a shred of dignity.

Although his overall numbers are not as compelling, erstwhile Met utility man (and current White Sox coach) Joe McEwing did score some remarkable successes against one of the most intimidating pitchers of his time: the towering lefthander Randy Johnson. The Big Unit was still active just four seasons ago, so most remember him well, a 6’10” behemoth with a fastball that regularly reached the upper 90’s (and occasionally hit the 100-mph mark) and a biting slider that ate otherwise proficient hitters for breakfast, bruch, lunch, dinner, supper, and a midnight snack. He holds the career mark for highest K/9 innings pitched among all starters (10.67), recorded 4,875 strikeouts-good for second all-time behind Nolan Ryan and the most of any left-hander in baseball history, pitched two no-hitters including a perfect game and- oh yeah- hit 188 batters, the third most ever. In one particularly memorable instance in the 1993 All Star Game, Johnson brought all of his knee-buckling powers to bear against the lefty-swinging John Kruk and deliberately fired a pitch well over Kruk’s head to the backstop. Kruk flinched big-time and stepped out of the box to collect himself before half-heartedly flailing away at three pitches to end the inning.

So stepping in to face the Diamondbacks ace was a matchup that few hitters likely relished.  Yet during the 2000 season, the diminutive (by baseball standards) McEwing  raked against Johnson like he was facing a mop-up reliever instead of many a batter’s worst nightmare.

“Super Joe” had come to the Mets in a trade for Jesse Orosco, by then a 43-year old elder statesman who had been obtained from Baltimore a few months earlier and was poised for  a second go-round with the club he had helped lead to a championship 14 years earlier. The deal, consummated during the ’00 Spring Training, had happened much to the chagrin of Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa who requested a pair of spikes from his departing player as a memento.  Following his major league debut in September of 1998, McEwing had made the St. Louis squad to begin the next season and endeared himself to Cardinal fans and management alike with his versatility. Appearing primarily as a second baseman, Joe managed to log time at every defensive position on the field save catcher, providing LaRussa with an ultra-flexible roster component that he was loath to surrender. At the plate he was reliable, if not spectacular, batting .275 with a modicum of pop (28 2B, 4 3B, 9 HR’s) which, combined with his defensive versatility, was good enough to secure him a fifth-place finish in the Rookie-of-the-Year voting.

In 2000, Randy Johnson was on his way to the second of four consecutive Cy Young awards (he would finish with five total), and at age 36 was as dominant a starter as baseball had seen in decades. He would finish that year with 19 wins, 347 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.64., but had still more flashes of historic greatness to come the following season when he would record such mind-bending pitching feats as a 20-strikeout performance against the Reds and an “immaculate inning” (3 strikeouts on 9 pitches) in a game against the Pirates.

The Diamondbacks arrived at Shea for a three-game set on May 19, 2000, a season removed from their startling run to a division championship in only their second year of existence.  Under the guidance of manager Buck Showalter, the Snakes had pulled off a “worst to first,” rising from a 65-win, dead-last finish in 1998 to the rarified air of a 100-game winner in ’99, thanks in no small part to the contribution of free-agent signee Johnson who won 17 games while racking up 364 K’s. Johnson took the hill to start the final game of the series on Sunday, May 21. The Mets had won the first two games by scores of 4-3 and 8-7 and were sending Rick Reed, the so-called “poor man’s Greg Maddux” to the mound to try for a sweep.

Johnson was coming off his first loss of the season, winding up on the short end of a 2-0 score in a contest against the Expos where he had nonetheless recorded a complete game while allowing only one earned run and striking out 12. The New Yorkers knew that they had their work cut out for them that day, and manager Bobby Valentine opted for an all-right-handed hitting lineup, sparing stalwart third-sacker Robin Ventura the daunting task of facing Johnson’s pitching arsenal and instead trotting out Kurt Abbott to man the hot corner. Leading off and playing LF he had slotted Joe McEwing. Joe had faced Johnson twice the previous season, nicking him for just one hit in 8 at-bats (a double) and striking out three times. He would find greater success that afternoon.

After the Diamondbacks had gotten to Reed for three singles and a run to grab a quick lead in the top of the first, McEwing led off the bottom of the frame with the first of three consecutive doubles by the Mets that shifted the advantage back to New York by a score of 2-1. After an uneventful second for both teams that included a groundout to short by McEwing, Arizona put together three more singles and a groundout in the third frame to score twice and reclaim the lead. The Mets tied things back up in the bottom of the inning on a homer by Mike Piazza- an omen of things to come.

After a scoreless 4th and 5th, the latter inning featuring another McEwing double down the left field line, the teams exchanged longball salvos beginning with Travis Lee’s 2-run shot off Reed in the top of the sixth that gave the ‘Backs a temporary 5-3 lead. In the bottom of the seventh, following a strikeout by Benny Agbayani leading off, McEwing cracked a shot to left that cleared the fence and drew the Mets within one. After Derek Bell struck out, second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo followed with another round-tripper, the Mets’ third of the day off Johnson, tying the score and knocking the Unit out of the game.  Steve Finley homered off Mets lefty Dennis Cook in the top of the eighth to skew things back in the visitor’s favor once more, but Robin Ventura came off the bench in the Mets’ half of the inning to knot things back up with a blast of his own off Mike Morgan who had come in to relieve Johnson in the previous frame. After Turk Wendell (he of the bear claw necklace and dugout toothbrush) retired the Arizona squad in the top of the 9th, McEwing opened the bottom of the frame with a walk, stole second, and scored the winning run on a single by Bell. For the day, “Super Joe” had reached Johnson for a homer and two doubles, a not-so-shabby performance against even a pedestrian pitcher, much less a world-beater like Johnson.

Joe would make his mark against Johnson a second time that season when the Mets traveled to Phoenix for a series in the first week of August. In the first game of that set, the same two pitchers faced off but Reed fared considerably better than in his previous outing, notching the victory in a 6-1 win for New York. McEwing knocked in two of the runs against Johnson via another double and a sacrifice fly which contributed to an early 4th inning exit for the pitcher generally regarded as a nemesis by the rest of the league.

Regarding his performance against Johnson in the first matchup, McEwing was characteristically professional, stating “I think it’s the ultimate challenge for us to face a guy like him.” Clearly it was a challenge that Joe was up to.

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White Sox vs Mets Preview: Harvey Looks For 5-0, Lagares In CF, Brown In RF http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/white-sox-vs-mets-preview-harvey-looks-for-5-0-lagares-in-cf-brown-in-rf.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/white-sox-vs-mets-preview-harvey-looks-for-5-0-lagares-in-cf-brown-in-rf.html/#comments Tue, 07 May 2013 19:15:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=117775 matt harvey

Starting Lineup

  1. Ruben Tejada – SS
  2. Daniel Murphy – 2B
  3. David Wright – 3B
  4. John Buck – C
  5. Lucas Duda – LF
  6. Andrew Brown – RF
  7. Ike Davis – 1B
  8. Juan Lagares – CF
  9. Matt Harvey – RHP

Game Notes

  • The Mets went 2-3 on their recent road trip. The club begins a six-game homestand tonight. New York is 7-8 at home this season. Saturday’s rain out in Atlanta is now scheduled for Tuesday, June 18 at 1:10 p.m. as part of a split doubleheader. That series is now a five-game series.
  • New York is 2-0 this year in Interleague play after beating the Twins twice in Minnesota. The Mets were 8-7 vs. the AL last season. The Mets are 137-127 all time in Interleague play. The 137 wins are the fourth-most among NL clubs. Since 2010, the Mets are 11-3 vs. the AL Central.
  • The Chicago White Sox make their first trip ever to Flushing. The Mets have hosted every other American League team at least once. New York has played the White Sox just once: the Mets lost two of three to the Sox in Chicago in 2002.
  • David Wright has 94 career Interleague RBI, the most in team history. The 94 Interleague RBI are tied for the fourth-most among any major leaguer since 2005, the first season Wright played an Interleague game. Wright has hit a home run in three straight games. It’s the fifth time he’s hit a home run in exactly three consecutive games, his career-best is a home run in four straight games, June 7-10, 2007.
  • Matt Harvey has allowed one run or less in 10 of his first 16 major league starts and has not allowed more than one run in seven of his last eight starts. Since July 26, 2012 (his ML debut), he ranks fourth in the majors with a 2.26 ERA (25 ER/99.2 IP). Minimum of 70 innings.
  • Harvey also has 116 strikeouts in his first 16 major league starts, the 11th-most since 1921 by a pitcher making his first 16 career starts. Kerry Wood is first with 148 strikeouts in 1998. Harvey is third in Mets history, behind Dwight Gooden, who had 125 strikeouts in his first 16 starts and Nolan Ryan, who had 117 strikeouts.
  • Frank Francisco pitched 1.0 scoreless inning last night for St. Lucie of the Florida State League vs. Daytona. He allowed a single. He’s tossed 4.0 scoreless innings in four rehab outings.
  • Edgardo Alfonzo, SNY’s Kevin Burkhardt and 92.3 NOW’s Ty Bentli will serve as judges for Banner Day on Saturday, May 11 at Citi Field. The judges will select three finalists to join the online Banner Day winner then fans at the ballpark and at home will vote for the winner through texting, Twitter and Facebook.

Game Preview

The White Sox finally visit Citi Field as the Mets will meet up with an old friend in Robin Ventura tonight. The Mets are coming off of a 9-4 loss where just about everyone on the field was experiencing a collective off day. Since then the Mets have had an off day and for the first time on 7 days rest, the Mets will enjoy another Harvey day as Matt takes on Hector Santiago.

Sandy Alderson told the Daily News that the Mets still have confidence in Ike Davis even though he is batting .172 to start the season. “I don’t think he’s happy with what has happened to date,” Alderson said. “We would have hoped for a better performance to this point, but the evidence is he can do it, and he could do that again this season, we’ll see what transpires.” Last year was batting .173 last year at this time, but he was dealing with a case of valley fever, a one-year layoff, and recovering from a serious ankle injury.

Matt Harvey is 4-0 on the season with a 1.56 ERA over 40.1 innings of work. He bounced back from his worst start of the season (3 ER over 6 innings, quality for everybody else) to pitch 5.1 innings allowing 1 ER in Miami, a game he really had to labor through. He allowed 7 hits in that game, a season high, but paired that with 7 strikeouts. Not really all that surprisingly, Matt has not faced the White Sox in his career and has not faced any batters on the roster.

Hector Santiago gets the nod for the White Sox. On the young season he is 1-1 over 8 games, 1 start with a 2.29 ERA over 19.2 innings. His last outing was the first start of the season where he allowed 1 ER over 5.1 innings of work while striking out 6 batters. Last season, he was in 42 games including 4 starts with a 3.33 ERA. In his four starts, he pitched 19.2 innings allowing only 4 ER. Also not really surprising, but he has not faced anyone on the Mets roster in his career.

Let’s Go Mets!

mr. met tweet

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Good Memories Of Covering Robin Ventura On The Beat http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/good-memories-of-covering-robin-ventura-on-the-beat.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/good-memories-of-covering-robin-ventura-on-the-beat.html/#comments Tue, 07 May 2013 17:35:23 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=117836 robin-ventura blackOne of the players I most enjoyed covering was Robin Ventura for those two years he played for the Yankees. In that clubhouse full of stars and egos, Ventura was a voice of calm, reason and humorous relief.

I enjoyed stopping by his locker to shoot the breeze for a minute or two, talking about things other than baseball. Very smart, clever and possessing an insight on numerous issues. When there was the inevitable blow up or moment of absurdity, Ventura was always there to put it into perspective with a quip as short and hard-hitting as his swing.

Once I asked him about his fight with Nolan Ryan, and his response was he knew he had made a mistake halfway out to the mound, but couldn’t turn around. You’ll even notice in the video he slowed down.

Was it an embarrassing moment? Yes, but years later he handled it with humor. He even joined with Ryan to autograph photos of the brawl.

When I covered the Orioles and he was with the White Sox, I’d make time to go over to his clubhouse for a few moments. He was accessible to anybody who would take the time to ask a question.

I am sure there will be a lot of questions for Ventura pre-game tonight when he brings his White Sox into town. There will be rehashing about his time with the Mets and Yankees, about being in New York during September 11 and what he remembers about Mike Piazza’s homer the first game back in the city.

He’ll also get a question or four about his grand-slam single against the Braves in the 1999 playoffs.

Best Infield Ever

That night is one of the greatest team displays of enthusiasm outside of winning a championship I have ever seen. That, and I suppose, the Piazza post 9-11 homer. Both were amazing to watch.

Ventura wasn’t a five-tool player, but was consistent and clutch. With a runner in scoring position you wanted him at the plate because he’d usually make contact.

Ventura was a .267 lifetime hitter and only once hit over .300, that being .301 in 1999, his first season with the Mets. Considering his 66-game hitting streak in college, I always wondered if he thought he should have hit for a higher average. He also hit 32 homers with a career-high 120 RBI in his first year with the Mets.

What the Mets wouldn’t give for a player with that production now.

Ventura had three solid years with the Mets, who, during that span had arguably one of the best defensive infields in history. Few balls got by Ventura, Rey Ordonez, Edgardo Alfonzo and John Olerud.

Both Olerud and Ventura would later play for the Yankees. When they left the Yankees, I believed I’d see both again managing in a major league dugout. I’m still waiting on Olerud.

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Memorable Mets Moments: Fonzie Goes Six for Six! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/memorable-mets-moments-fonzie-goes-six-for-six.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/memorable-mets-moments-fonzie-goes-six-for-six.html/#comments Sun, 28 Apr 2013 14:30:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=115695 edgardo alfonzo white jerseyEdgardo Alfonzo remains one of the most beloved Mets alumni, both for his post-season heroics (e.g. 3 HR’s including a ninth inning grand slam in the space of two vital 1999 playoff games against the Reds and Diamondbacks), and his role as part of the “Best Infield Ever” as dubbed by Sports Illustrated. His flexibility as a player made him an invaluable asset to the team which moved him from his original spot at second base over to third, back to second upon the signing of Robin Ventura, and then to third again with the trade that brought Roberto Alomar into the fold. Despite a modicum of grousing due to all the defensive shifts, he provided consistent quality play during one of the upswing periods in Mets history.

As a batsman, Fonzie developed in almost textbook fashion before the delighted eyes of fans. Coming up, he had a reputation for a good eye at the plate, some evidence of moderate power, and the ability to make contact. Following his major league debut in 1995, the young Venezuelan worked diligently to refine his game both in the field and at the plate. By 1999, he had blossomed into one of the league’s premier middle infielders, hitting over .300 and slugging over .500 for the first time in his career. His peak game, and likely the peak offensive game by any Met, came in late August of that year as the Mets were heading toward a post-season berth under the guidance of Bobby Valentine.

The team was in Houston for a series against the Astros during their last go-round in the vast dimensions of the Astrodome. The following year, the team would move to the bandbox originally known as Enron Field (or “Ten Run Field” to fans for its propensity to produce high scoring games) and now dubbed Minute Maid Park. In stark contrast to the home run haven the Astros now inhabit, the ‘Dome was a pitcher’s dream and a slugger’s graveyard. Not only was the field characterized by expansive proportions, the roof insured that the very atmosphere itself was endowed with what batters swore was a deadening effect. But it was in this most unlikely of settings that the Mets’ version of the Fonz chose to put on perhaps the greatest display of slugging in team history.

1999 was a bumper year for runs scored by the Mets as they pushed 853 across the plate, good for 5th in the league and still the club record for a single season. Even 40 year-old leadoff batter Rickey Henderson was having a renaissance year, batting over .300 for the first time since in four campaigns. On the night of August 30 of that year, the team would rack up a run tally that was impressive even by the standards of that era, blasting the Houston squad by a score of 17-1.

The key figure in the onslaught was Edgardo Alfonzo who began his evening by rocketing a solo home run his first time up to give the Mets an early lead. After the Astros were retired in order in the bottom of the first, the New Yorkers erupted for six additional runs in the next inning with Alfonzo contributing a single and a run scored in the process. He then homered in his next two at-bats registering a two-run shot in the fourth and another solo round-tripper in the sixth. After collecting his second single of the game in the eight amidst another rally, he came up for a final time in the ninth. Urged by his teammates to shoot for the elusive 4-homer mark, he banged a shot off the right field wall for a run-scoring double, missing another 4-bagger by a matter of a few feet.

All told, Fonzie had recorded 6 hits in as many at-bats including 3 HR’s and a double. In the process he set Mets club records for hits, runs, and total bases in a game as well as collecting 5 RBI. Naturally, his performance set off the stat freaks at Elias who determined that the only other player to accomplish a comparable feat was none other than Ty Cobb some 74 years prior when he also recorded a 3 homer, 1 double, 2 single game against the St. Louis Browns.

Fonzie and Cobb, Cobb and Fonzie. A rather exclusive club with one member a Met.

edgardo alfonzo

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Mets Bobblehead Dates Announced: Seaver, Staub, Mex, Fonzie, Piazza! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/02/mets-bobblehead-dates-announced-seaver-staub-mex-fonzie-piazza.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/02/mets-bobblehead-dates-announced-seaver-staub-mex-fonzie-piazza.html/#comments Wed, 15 Feb 2012 13:00:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=72172

The New York Mets announced the Mets 50th Anniversary Alumni Bobblehead Series will feature Tom Seaver, Rusty Staub, Keith Hernandez, Edgardo Alfonzo and Mike Piazza.

Each Mets legend in the bobblehead series represents a different decade in Mets history:

Tom Seaver Bobblehead Presented by Citi – Sunday, April 22 at 1:10 p.m. vs. Giants
Seaver will kick off the bobblehead series when the Mets play the San Francisco Giants Sunday, April 22 at 1:10 p.m. Seaver is the club’s all-time leader in wins (198), ERA (2.57) and strikeouts (2,541). The Hall of Famer went 25-7 and won the first of three Cy Young Awards in 1969, helping the Mets stun the baseball world by winning the World Series. A 12-time All-Star, Seaver had his number retired when he was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1988. Following seven seasons as a Mets TV broadcaster, Seaver is entering his seventh season as a club ambassador.

Rusty Staub Bobblehead Presented by GEICO – Saturday, May 26 at 1:10 p.m. vs. Padres
The Mets will celebrate the 1970s with a Rusty Staub bobblehead Saturday, May 26 when the Mets host the San Diego Padres at 1:10 p.m. A six-time All-Star, Staub helped the Mets return to the World Series in 1973. He hit three home runs in the NLCS and then batted .423 with six RBI in the seven-game World Series. In 1975, he became the first player in franchise history to drive in 100 or more runs in a single season. Staub, who was elected to the Mets Hall of Fame in 1986, has spent the past 12 years working for the organization as a club ambassador.

Keith Hernandez Bobblehead Presented by Gold’s – Sunday, June 17 at 1:10 p.m. vs. Reds

Keith Hernandez will represent the 1980s and be commemorated with a bobblehead for the first time Sunday, June 17 when the Mets face the Cincinnati Reds at 1:10 p.m. Hernandez played seven years with the Mets and helped the team capture the 1986 World Series. An 11-time Gold Glove winner, Hernandez is among the club’s all-time leaders in RBI (468) and batting average (.297). He was elected to the Mets Hall of Fame in 1997. Hernandez is entering his seventh season as a game analyst on SNY’s Mets telecasts.

Edgardo Alfonzo Bobblehead Presented by Verizon – Saturday, July 21 at 1:10 p.m. vs. Dodgers
The 1990s will be celebrated with an Edgardo Alfonzo bobblehead Saturday, July 21 with the Mets-Los Angeles Dodgers game at 1:10 p.m. Alfonzo ranks among the club’s all-time leaders in home runs (120), RBI (538) and extra-base hits (346). He flourished on the big stage, ranking as the team’s all-time postseason leader in RBI (17) hits (26) and runs scored (15). Alfonzo enjoyed the single greatest game in team history, going 6-6 with three home runs and five RBI on August 30, 1999 at Houston.

Mike Piazza Bobblehead – Saturday, August 25 at 1:10 p.m. vs. Astros
Mike Piazza will be featured as the final bobblehead of the series Saturday, August 25 when the Mets face the Houston Astros at 1:10 p.m. The greatest home run-hitting catcher of all-time played with the Mets from 1998-2005. Piazza, a 12-time All-Star, ranks among the club’s leaders in virtually every offensive category. Piazza hit .412 with two home runs in the 2000 NLCS to help the Mets advance to the World Series. His memorable home run in the Mets first game back after the terrorist attacks in 2001 helped the community begin the healing process.

The first 25,000 fans at Citi Field will receive the following bobblehead giveaways on the following dates: Seaver (April 22), Staub (May 26), Hernandez (June 17), Alfonzo (July 21) and Piazza (August 25).

Fans can secure tickets to all bobblehead dates with a 6-Game Marquee Flex Pack or a 6-Game Value Flex Pack which are on sale now online at Mets.com/packs and by phone at (718) 507-TIXX.

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