Mets Merized Online » los angeles dodgers Mon, 05 Dec 2016 21:21:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What Could Have Been: Ichiro As A Met Sun, 24 Jul 2016 14:20:54 +0000 ichirp

As the New York Mets conclude their three-game set against the Miami Marlins on Sunday, baseball fans continue to watch a 42-year-old hitting marvel, who is only four hits shy of reaching the elusive 3,000 hit club. What’s more amazing is that combined with the nine-years he spent with the Orix Blue Wave team in Japan, Ichiro Suzuki already has a combined 4,274 hits, 18 more hits than Major League Baseball’s hit king, Pete Rose (4,256).

Former Mets’ manager Bobby Valentine remembers Ichiro well. Having managed the Chiba Lotte Marines, a Japanese team in the Nippon Professional Baseball league in 1995, Valentine remembers a young 21-year-old who he would eventually describe as a “freak of nature”.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Valentine spoke on how his team would hold daily meetings to discuss how to pitch to the unstoppable Ichiro at the plate.

“I said, ‘I can’t believe we’re having a meeting every day. We’ll get him out when the season starts,’” Valentine said. “I guess we needed two meetings a day.” (Jared Diamond, Wall Street Journal)

Valentine and his staff had good reason to game plan against Ichiro. In 1995, Ichiro compiled one of his best seasons in Japan, with a stat line of .342/.432/.544 with 25 homers, 80 RBI, 49 stolen bases in 58 chances, 104 runs scored, and more walks (68) than strikeouts (52).

Ichiro became a phenomenon in Japan, winning three straight Pacific League MVP Awards (1994-96), was a seven-time batting champion (1994-2000), and won a Japanese championship in 1996. His hitting prowess became so noteworthy, that the press began calling him the “Hit Manufacturing Machine”.

Fast forward to 2000, as Orix permitted MLB teams to submit offers for Ichiro’s services to play in the states. The team wasn’t as good as previous years, and they didn’t want to risk losing Ichiro for nothing, so they allowed him to negotiate with major league teams after the 2000 season.

Valentine was now in his fifth year and fourth full season managing the Mets in 2000, leading his team to the World Series against the crosstown rival New York Yankees. When Ichiro was posted for teams to bid on, Valentine wanted desperately for the Mets to make a move for his services.

“There’s been many a night that I said to myself, ‘I wonder how things could have been different if he was in my outfield,’” Valentine said. “For him in New York, for me staying in New York. I think it would have been fun.”

But doubts lingered, even after all the amazing feats Ichiro had accomplished in Japan. No position player had ever come to the states and transitioned from the Japanese league to the majors. There was a certain amount of risk being placed by whichever team took a shot at the then 27-year-old, especially with his unorthodox batting style and his mannerisms at the plate.

“We had this internal debate: What do you expect out of him?” said Jim Duquette, then an assistant general manager with the Mets. “I remember seeing video of the swing, and it was like, ‘Eh, is that going to play?’ You just had no idea.”

Mets brass met and discussed Ichiro numerous times, before comfortably bidding a little over $9 million, which would go the the Orix Blue Wave as compensation, then leaving the winning team with 30 days to negotiate a contract with the player.

To read the whole story, please go to the Wall Street Journal. where Jared Diamond shares more details on how it all played out, plus additional insights and commentary from Duquette, Phillips and Valentine.

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MMO Players Of The Week: Two Great Alderson Trades Tue, 07 Jun 2016 01:36:02 +0000 Another tough week came and went for the New York Mets, as the team went 3-3 between Sunday May 29th and Saturday June 4th. In that time, the Mets lost the weekend series to the Los Angeles Dodgers at home, and lost the series against the Chicago White Sox also at home. The Mets righted the ship in Miami, winning the first two games against the Marlins on Friday and Saturday.

The offense was struggling early in the week, as they only scored a total of eight runs combined in their rubber game against the Dodgers and their three game set against the White Sox. Since taking their talents to South Beach, the Mets have scored a combined 12 runs on Friday and Saturday, getting another brilliant performance from Noah Syndergaard, who improved to 6-2 on the year, with a 1.91 earned run average, and a 0.96 WHIP.

After recapping the games from last week, two players stood out prominently in their roles they played to help the Mets inch back closer to first place in the National League East.

neil walker james loney


For the second straight week second baseman Neil Walker claims MMO’s Offensive Player of the Week. Walker put together some great at-bats, collecting a hit in every game and reaching base multiple times in four of the six games. Overall, Walker went 8-for-21 at the plate (.381) with two home runs, three runs batted in, four runs scored, and five walks. He only struck out three times during the six games played last week.

Walker has been such a steady, reliable presence for the Mets all season, being a consistent force for the Mets in the middle of their lineup. Walker had one of only four hits LHP Clayton Kershaw gave up in last Sunday’s game, working a full count before doubling to left field. He also was responsible for the lone run the Mets had in Monday’s Memorial Day game, crushing a 1-0 fastball off of LHP Jose Quintana to left-center, making a winner out of Matt Harvey who tossed seven shutout innings.

The homer off Quintana came as Walker was batting right-handed. Walker has been phenomenal as a right-handed batter this year, something that has eluded him much of his career. Before Sunday’s day game, Walker boasted a line of .341/.396/.727 as a right-handed batter, good for a 1.123 OPS with five of his 13 home runs to date coming from that side of the plate.

addison reed


While there were a few options to choose from for MMO’s Pitcher of the Week, including another strong performance from Syndergaard and a resurgent outing from Harvey against the White Sox. However, I chose setup man Addison Reed as the Pitcher of the Week, who appeared in five of the Mets six games from May 29th the June 4th.

Reed threw five innings in total, allowing two hits, one walk, and striking out seven batters. He also picked up three holds during that stretch, and now has 12 on the season, good for 6th among qualifying relievers heading into Sunday’s matinee against the Marlins.

With the Mets up 4-2 heading into the eighth inning against the Marlins on Friday night, Reed entered the game facing the heart of the Marlins’ lineup. He promptly struck out Martin Prado on four pitches, gave up a single to Christian Yelich, and then struck out Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton on called strikes. It was the tenth time this year that Reed has struck out multiple batters in an inning.

Reed has been the Mets best bullpen option this year, sporting a 1.75 earned run average and minuscule 0.94 WHIP, the best among all Met relievers thus far. His FIP actually has Reed pitching better than his ERA suggests, currently at 1.68, good for eighth place among active relievers before Sunday’s game.

This trade keeps looking better and better for GM Sandy Alderson, who brought Reed over to the Mets at the end of August for minor league pitchers Miller Diaz and Matt Koch.

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Chase Utley Gets Last Laugh, Burns Mets With Two Homer, Five RBI Night Sun, 29 May 2016 14:30:19 +0000 chase utler hr

Retaliation for a player who is no longer on their roster took an ugly turn on Saturday when the targeted Chase Utley tagged the Mets relief pitchers for five RBI’s.

On his first trip back to Citi Field since his vicious slide broke the leg of Ruben Tejada, Utley has been a marked man who has eluded the fate of a much-anticipated payback.

Friday night, when Jacob deGrom stayed clear of a counterattack, it appeared as if the Mets might have buried the hatchet.  Or were they just playing mind games to keep Utley off guard?

On Saturday night it seemed like Utley’s time had come when in the 3rd inning of a scoreless tie, Noah Syndergaard fired a 99 mph fastball behind the much maligned second baseman, then immediately was ejected from the mound.

In Syndergaard’s absence, the Dodgers took sweet revenge on all of his replacements by going on a homerun hitting spree to take game two 9-1.

For the second day in a row, Utley’s bat has become the bane of the Mets bullpen, which also gave up solo shots to Adrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick, and Corey Seager.

Utley roped a solo home run against Logan Verrett in the sixth inning, and then one inning later, he launched a grand slam off reliever Hansel Robles. It stunned the 40,000+ at Citi Field into silence after they were chanting, “We want justice. We want justice.”

“I think a loud, energizing environment gets the best out of you,” Utley said after the game, telling reporters that he feeds off how Mets fans react to him. “It kind of gets your adrenaline going a little bit, makes you dig down deep.”

Dodger pitcher Kenta Maeda held the Mets to five shutout innings of two hit ball after taking a line drive off of his pitching hand, stopping his three game losing streak.

terry collins

In defense of Syndergaard, manager Terry Collins ran out of the dugout in a rage, pleading his case to plate umpire Adam Hamari that there should have been a warning in lieu of an ejection.  For all of his screaming and finger pointing in the face of Hamari, Collins was given his walking papers, as well.

“The ruling was that he intentionally threw at the batter,” crew chief Tom Hallion said after the game. “And with that, we have a judgment of whether we thought it was intentional. And if it was, we can either warn or eject. And with what happened in that situation, we felt the ejection was warranted.”

Syndergaard stuck to his story that the ball got away from him, and then added, “I can understand why he did what he did. I still think a warning would have been better.”

“I was just kind of dumbfounded. I’ve never been thrown out of a game before, so it was just kind of a whirlwind of emotions. It kind of rattled me a little bit, the reason I got thrown out. I was kind of at a loss for words.”

Whether or not it was a pitch with a purpose, this is how the game of baseball is played.  Syndergaard’s ejection was premature as the bad decision-making by umpires marches on.

It’s unfortunate that this occurred on the night the 1986 World Series Championship team was honored for their Cinderella season, as well as a lost opportunity for NY to take sole possession of first place in the NL East.

Next up, Clayton Kershaw will try to keep up his Mets domination against the pitcher 15 years his senior, Bartolo Colon, who is looking to capitalize on his prior one run outing against the Nats.

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MMO Players Of The Week: A Cuban Missile and a Norse God Tue, 17 May 2016 09:00:02 +0000 The New York Mets were off to a promising start last week, as they won Sunday’s game against the San Diego Padres 4-3, splitting the four game set. The Mets would take two of four games against their 2015 NLDS opponent the Los Angeles Dodgers, but were swept at the hands of the Colorado Rockies, and outscored 16-9 in that three game series. The Mets would have a record of 3-4 from Sunday the 8th to Saturday the 14th, the same record they had the week prior.

The Mets are currently mired in a four-game losing streak, the second such losing streak this year, the last between April 9-12 against the Phillies and Marlins. Choosing an Offensive Player of the Week was tough, because most of the lineup was inconsistent. As a team, the Mets were 11-for-55 with RISP, good for a .200 batting average. They also left 50 men on base during that stretch, an average of 7.14 left on base per game, or about the Mets average so far on the season. To date, the Mets have left an average of 7.05 men on base per game, which is the 11th worst in the Majors as of Monday night.

But here we go folks, your offensive player and pitcher of the week for May 8-14.

yoenis cespedes


The offensive player of the week goes to center fielder Yoenis Cespedes, who went 7-for-26 with a home run, two doubles, two runs batted in, and four runs scored in that period. Cespedes had a hit in all but two games during the week, the Thursday night game against LHP Clayton Kershaw, who pitched a complete game three-hitter against the orange and blue, an ace performance to say the least. The other hit-less game was the opening night contest against the Rockies on Friday. Throw those two games out, and Cespedes would’ve been 7-for-19 instead.

As an aside, Cespedes also had a laser outfield assist in Tuesday’s game against the Dodgers, where in the bottom of the 5th, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez crushed a 1-1 pitch from Jacob deGrom to deep center. Cespedes played it off the wall perfectly, as he corralled the baseball on one hop, and threw a rope to Asdrubal Cabrera at second, who promptly tagged out Gonzalez, who was still about five steps away from the bag. MLB StatCast had Cespedes’ throw measured at 91.1 mph, and from a distance of 232 feet. On the year, Cespedes has four outfield assists; his career high is 16, which he accomplished in 2014 between Oakland and Boston.

Another positive for Cespedes is the patience he’s showcasing at the plate. During the week, he had three walks, and is up to 14 free passes on the year. Notorious for being a free swinger, and with a career high of 43 walks in his rookie year in 2012, Cespedes is finally showing patience at the plate. He currently has a 10.2% walk rate, a huge improvement from 2015, where he sat at 4.9%. Cespedes attributes his selective approach at the plate to the 12 home runs he has a month and a half into the season.

“I’m being more selective at home plate and that has allowed me to hit more home runs,” Cespedes said in Spanish. “A lot of Cuban players are hitters who swing at balls out of the zone. Having to adjust to a smaller strike zone is a task.”

Hitting coach Kevin Long has seen the work Cespedes has put in to cut down on swinging at the outside pitch, and shrinking the strike zone to set up his pitch.

“I’m extremely proud of what he’s done, and it’s easier said than done,” Long said. “I worked years and years and years with [former Yankees star Robinson] Cano, and he did get it. Ces has only been here a limited time. It was one of the things we focused in on, and he’s been tremendous as far as shrinking his strike zone and really taking walks when it present itself.”

noah syndergaard


The Mets’ pitcher of the week could’ve also been the offensive player of the week, as his two home runs were the most hit by a Met for the past week, and accounted for 33% of the Mets total homers hit. He also happened to drive in all four runs for the Mets in his start. Noah Syndergaard was brilliant in his start against the Dodgers on May 11, tossing eight innings of two run ball, giving up six hits, walking one, and striking out six.  Syndergaard’s two gaffes were solo home runs off the bat of Corey Seager in the third, and Yasmani Grandal in the fourth. Take away those two mistakes and Syndergaard might well have been on his way to his first career shutout. It was encouraging to see him pitch eight full innings though, something that only he and his best friend, Bartolo Colon, have accomplished this season. Colon’s eight-inning performance came on May 2 against the Braves.

Syndergaard has his usual pinpoint control that game, throwing 95 pitches and 64 of them for strikes, a 67% strike rate. The only downside was the two solo home runs he allowed, however that was only number two and three he’s given up on the season, ten away from the league leader to date in Kansas City’s Chris Young (13).

And his offensive power was put on full display in Dodger Stadium, as he blasted a solo shot in the third inning against RHP Kenta Maeda, and then a three-run shot in the fifth, giving the Mets a 4-2 lead. The Met dugout was all smiles and puzzled looks, in disbelief at the six-foot-six Norse wonder. Not only can he throw 99 mph bee-bees into the eighth inning, but he can also hit 400-foot bombs! He also showcased his opposite field power, launching his second shot to deep left-center field. The exit velocity on his first home run was recorded at 104.3 mph, and his second was a tad lower at 103.5. Syndergaard became the second Met pitcher to hit two home runs in a game, joining Walt Terrell who did the same in a game at Wrigley Field on August 6, 1983.

Syndergaard impressed many that night, but second baseman Neil Walker summed it up nicely post game:

“You kind of think to yourself, we’re in kind of a different era now,” Neil Walker said. “You see these young players come up, what’s next? He comes out, he’s throwing 100 mph, he’s hitting home runs at night, opposite-field at Dodger Stadium. Those are legendary type things.”

The Mets open up a huge three-game home stand against the first place Washington Nationals. Game one features the fifth pitcher in MLB history to strike out twenty-batters in Max Scherzer, squaring off against Syndergaard. If that game doesn’t get you amped then I don’t know what will. Power pitching vs. power pitching, who blinks first in this chess match? Hopefully it means the Mets snap their four-game losing streak!

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The Z Files: Mets Hitters Need Better Approach At The Plate Thu, 12 May 2016 16:44:27 +0000 lucas duda

Noah Syndergaard went back to little league accounting for all of the New York Mets four runs batted in and narrowly throwing a complete game.  Unfortunately, the Mets had viable opportunities to score more runs but continue searching for timely base hits.

Situational Hitting

Situational hitting is the adjustment or strategy in a batters approach in an at-bat with men on base to either advance base runners to better the base runners opportunity to score – or score base runners.  The most common forms of situational hitting involve bunting, ground balls, sacrifice flies, drawing walks, attempts at hitting the ball to specific areas of the field, and of course base-hits.

Recently, I have showed stats and explained the issue behind the negative correlation between the Mets reliance on home runs and low team batting average with runners in scoring position compared to World Series champions.

As stated yesterday, the Mets are last in MLB in batting average with runners in scoring position.  Conversely, thirteen of the last fifteen World Series champions finished in the top 15 during the regular season in batting average with runners in scoring position.

Last night, the Mets continued their struggles hitting 1-for-9 with two walks with runners in scoring position.  Let’s rate the nine opportunities to determine the severity of the situation (1.0 is terrible – 5.0 excellent):

  1. Second inning, no out, base runners on first and second:  Neil Walker fly’s-out to center field. Rating 2.5  Walker got behind in the count early in the at-bat forcing him to take a defensive swing.  Walker did put the ball in play but he needs to pull the ball into right field in this situation to allow the possibility Cespedes advances to third on a fly ball.
  2. Second inning, one out, base runners on first and third (Yoenis Cespedes stole third base):  Eric Campbell hits fielder’s choice ground ball to Corey Seager who throws Cespedes out at home plate.  Rating 2.0  Campbell needs to elevate the baseball into the outfield with less than two outs for a hit or to allow Cespedes to tag up and score.  Additionally, a ground ball gives the Dodgers an opportunity at an inning ending double play.  The reason for not rating a 1 is at least Campbell put the ball in play opening opportunity for fielding error or a soft base hit.
  3. Second inning, two outs, base runners on first and third:  Rene Rivera strikes out swinging.  Rating 1.1  Only outcome worse is striking out looking.
  4. Fifth inning, no out, base runners on first and second:  Noah Syndergaard hits three-run home run.  Rating 5.0  Optimal outcome.
  5. Sixth inning, no out, base runners on second and third:  Eric Campbell pops out to first baseman Adrian GonzalezRating 1.2  The only objective for Campbell is hitting the baseball anywhere except for a pop up or a ground ball to the pitcher.  Almost any other contact scores a run.
  6. Sixth inning, one out, bases loaded:  Syndergaard strikes out swinging.  Unrated  I can’t get myself to give a 1.1 rating for a pitcher up against a 96 mph fastball who has already hit two home runs in the game.
  7. Sixth inning, two outs, bases loaded:  Curtis Granderson strikes out swinging.  Rating 1.1  Again, Only outcome worse is striking out looking.
  8. Seventh inning, one out, base runners on second and third:  Lucas Duda flies out to left field.  Rating 3.0  Duda did an average job, elevating the baseball into the outfield and only needed a few more feet to allow Michael Conforto to score from third.
  9. Seventh inning, two outs, bases loaded:  Campbell strikes out swinging.  Rating 1.1  Only outcome worse is striking out looking.  Please make contact.  Challenge the defense to get outs.

Thankfully, the Mets have exceptional pitching and a surprisingly impressive defensive alignment helping them stay atop the National League East division.

Stat of the Night

The Mets pitching staff has a commanding lead in team pitching WAR ranking first in MLB at 7.6.  Division rival Washington National are second at 6.2. See FanGraphs for a full explanation of WAR.

Follow Chris Zaccherio on Twitter @ziography for more Mets insight going beyond statistics.


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The Z Files: Robles’ Fateful Pitch To Trayce Thompson Wed, 11 May 2016 16:15:05 +0000 USP MLB: NEW YORK METS AT LOS ANGELES DODGERS S BBN USA CA

Jacob deGrom settled in after allowing two runs on two doubles and a sacrifice fly during the first inning but the New York Mets eventually lost 3-2 on a walk-off home run by Trayce Thompson off Hansel Robles in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Hansel Robles Pitch Selection & Movement

Prior to Thompson’s home run, Robles was attacking the strike zone with two-seam fastballs at 96 mph and hard sliders at 87 mph, throwing 12 of his previous 14 pitches for strikes (outstanding 85.7% strike rate).  Robles gave up the home run on a 1-2 count with a 96 mph belt-high fastball over the middle of home plate.

Robles should have thrown a 96 mph fastball on the inside corner, preferably not for a strike in on Thompson’s hands, to discomfort Thompson in the batter’s box.  This would setup the slider catcher Kevin Plawecki originally called, low and on the outside corner from Thompson which Robles shook off.

Regardless of pitch selection or game plan, Robles home run pitch was simply a poorly located 96 mph fastball which ran from belt-high on the outside corner to belt-high over the middle of the plate.

One issue with Robles given his current arm slot and release point is gripping his fastball as a four-seam fastball forces his fastball to run like a two-seam fastball.  Normally, more movement is positive.  The issue is his fastball runs from left to right like a two-seam fastball but doesn’t sink or drop down in the zone like a two-seamer.  This makes Robles’ fastball tougher to command and creates less room for error when he lacks fastball command.

Simply, if Robles was able to sink his fastball against Thompson, the location of the pitch would have been approximately knee-high resulting in soft contact off the end of Thompson’s bat.

I’m not sure changing Robles grip to a true two-seam fastball in the middle of the season is possible but this is something Robles should work on during bullpen sessions with pitching coach Dan Warthen.  Over the course of the season, it would allow Robles ground ball rate to go up, which besides strikeouts per nine innings to walks per nine innings ratio, is the most important stat for a relief pitcher.

Jacob deGrom (ND) 7.0 IP, 2 R, 8 H, 4 SO, 0 BB

DeGrom continued attacking hitters amassing a 68.9% overall strike rate, keeping his fastball and off-speed pitches low in the strike zone.  Additionally, he showed excellent command with his off-speed pitches which created thirteen of his twenty-one outs and accounted for zero of his eight base hits allowed.

Despite pitching low in the strike zone, some of his pitches, predominately his fastballs, are moving back over the middle third of home plate much like his last start against the San Diego Padres.  DeGrom keeping his fastball on the corners of home plate during last season is the difference between last year’s Cy Young caliber dominance and this year’s all-star caliber success.

Juan Lagares Leading Off

Lagares had four strong at-bats, Lining-out in the first inning, battling back to a full 3-2 count in the second inning and two base hits later in the game.  Great teams have great depth.  Probability shows us one of the outfielders will eventually need a few consecutive games off or a 15-day DL stint making it great to see the Mets have competent backups.

Stat of the Night

Once again, Mets hitters threaten opposing pitchers all night but can’t get timely hits going 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.  The Mets are tied for last in MLB (30th in MLB) in batting average with runners in scoring position at .211.

Since 2001, these are how the World Series champions finished the regular season in batting average with runners in scoring position:

  1. Thirteen of fifteen ranked in the top 15 in MLB
  2. Nine of fifteen ranked in the top 10 in MLB
  3. Five of fifteen ranked in the top 5 in MLB
  4. Three of fifteen led MLB

Follow Chris Zaccherio on Twitter @ziography for more Mets insight going beyond statistics.


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How Will The Matt Harvey Saga Ultimately Play Out? Sat, 12 Sep 2015 13:45:26 +0000 ty-cobb-sliding

Between innings Ty Cobb would sit on the bench sharpening his spikes. Then, on the base paths, he would take an extra ninety feet sliding spikes up. He once nearly choked an umpire to death before his teammates pulled him off. He beat up a fellow Tiger who shared his hotel room because the other player took a bath before Cobb.

“You don’t understand! I have to be first!” Cobb shouted as he pummeled the guy. In 1912, he climbed into the stands and battered a fan who’d been taunting him. Nearby spectators shouted at Cobb, “He’s got no hands!” Cobb screamed back, “I don’t care if he’s got no feet!” and continued the beating.

The Georgia Peach is probably the most despicable player in history. Yet, in Detroit he was beloved.

From the 1960’s through the 1980’s no player in the NL was more disliked than Pete Rose. Yet, in both Cincinnati and Philadelphia, Charlie Hustle was worshipped. Barry Bonds has become the poster boy of the Steroid era. His bulging muscles was the picture of what was wrong with Baseball for many years. Yet, in San Francisco and Pittsburgh he remains idolized.

These controversial players were hated by many fans. Yet, their hometown fans adored them.

Enter Matt Harvey, a controversial figure who has been lambasted and ridiculed by fans of the very team he pitches for. Why are Mets fans so quick to blame one of their own and to attack one of their own? Especially when they don’t even know all the facts?

And when did things change?

In Game 1 of the 1973 World Series, Felix Millan allowed a routine grounder to scoot under his glove a la Bill Buckner 13 years later. Millan’s gaffe allowed two unearned runs to score. Oakland won game one, 2-1. Millan’s error clearly cost the Mets the opener. And possibly the World Series. Had Millan made the play, the Mets conceivably would have won game one. They did win Game 2 and would have returned to New York up 2-0 with Tom Seaver on the hill.

However, no one ridiculed or chastised Millan. We loved him no matter what.

Game 4 of the 1988 NLCS saw the Mets blow a 4-2 lead when Doc Gooden gave up a 2-run homer in the ninth to Mike Scioscia. LA would win in extra innings and instead of the Mets holding a commanding 3-1 series lead, we were deadlocked. True, at the time people questioned Davey Johnson’s decision to leave Doc out there. However, no one called for Johnson’s head. No one implored GM Frank Cashen to get rid of that bum Gooden. Why? Because no matter what we loved Doc and Davey.


Game 5 of the 2000 World Series saw Al Leiter give up two runs in the top of the ninth. In the bottom half of the frame, facing elimination, our HR leader stepped to the plate representing the tying run. Yet, when Mike Piazza flied out to end the game, the series and the year, no one called Piazza a choker. No one wanted Leiter shipped away. We loved them no matter what.

This unnamed Mets player scored 127 runs, setting a team record. His 41 HR’s is tied for the most in team history. His 116 RBI’s is third highest since 1962. He also hit 38 doubles, slugged at 594 and stole 18 bases in 21 attempts. Pretty damn good.

Yet, most people only remember Carlos Beltran’s 2006 season for taking a called third strike. The fact that without Beltran’s impressive stats the Mets don’t even get to that seventh game, much less the post-season, was overlooked. Many fans simply condemned Beltran for taking a pitch, a textbook curve ball that would’ve made Ted Williams’ knees buckle, a curve ball thrown by a rookie named Adam Wainwright who would go on to become one of the top pitchers in the league.

THAT’s when things changed. For some reason, fans now began looking for a goat, looking to point a finger at someone, finding some poor sap to blame everything on.

The castigating Matt Harvey received over the weekend is just the latest trend. Add his name to the growing list of players who seemingly every year takes the blame for the Mets not winning.


Eleven months after the famed Beltran AB, when the Mets collapsed, many fans now turned their verbal assault rifles from Aaron Heilman and Beltran to Jose Reyes and Willie Randolph. Despite the fact Reyes had 191 hits and set a Mets record for SB’s, people blamed him for having three bad weeks in September. The following summer, notwithstanding being the second winningest manager in team history, Randolph was fired and replaced by Jerry Manuel.

Manuel took over. The Mets started winning. Manuel was treated as if he was the second coming of Gil Hodges. Two and half years later, after two sub-500 finishes, Manuel was treated as the second coming of Art Howe.

It continued. Year after year, fans seem to have this irresistible longing to malign one of our own. Jason Bay. Jordany Valdespin. Oliver Perez. And when we ran out of players, we looked to the front office.

Omar Minaya, despite bringing the Mets back to relevance and having us in three straight pennant races while fortifying the farm system that is fueling the team’s run in 2015, was run out of town. When we ran out of players and GM’s, fans began blaming team physicians, hitting coaches, pitching coaches. And yes, even our stadium. Citi Field was not conducive to our team. A new low. All the problems with the Mets was now the fault of a structure.

I will say I’ve never been a fan of Matt Harvey the person. But I am a fan of Matt Harvey the pitcher. Should he have handled this differently? Absolutely. On one side he has his agent, on the other side his employer and in front of him the potential to earn hundreds of millions over the next decade.

Harvey is in a tenuous predicament where he seemingly can’t come out unscathed. Had he stated in spring training he would NOT pitch in the post-season, the media storm would have begun in April and grown into a tsunami. And yes, while Harvey wants to win and yes, while fans want to win, one can understand where he is coming from. And where Scott Boras is coming from.

Let’s be honest. Mets history when it comes to handling pitchers definitely leaves something to be desired. We have a long track record of pushing young pitchers too hard, too much, too early. From Craig Swan in the late 70’s to Tim Leary in 1980. Gooden was a shoo-in for Cooperstown. Granted, he battled inner demons but the fact that Gooden tossed 10,000 pitches before turning 21 definitely had an impact.

There was of course Generation K. Pedro Martinez, in his autobiography, alluded to the fact that the Mets may have shortened his career a few years. And of course, there was Johan Santana. On his way to tossing the first no-no in team history after shoulder surgery, Santana threw 134 pitches, the most of his career. After the no hitter, he was for all intents and purposes finished. That shows what can happen when you put the team first. And perhaps these are things that Harvey and Boras considered.


Two years ago The Dark Knight was larger than life, a huge young star who captured the hearts of Mets fans not unlike Doctor K three decades earlier. Now, however, he’s become arch enemy number one to many.

Perhaps it’s due to his own actions or that of his agent. But Harvey needs to be perfect down the stretch. If the Mets make the post-season, he damn well better turn in a Bumgarner-like October.

If the Mets fall apart in the next few weeks, miss the post-season by one game and sometime this month Harvey has the audacity to lose once who do you think fans will blame? Assuming the Mets make the playoffs and perhaps get knocked out in the first round or the second round and Harvey takes a loss or perhaps skips one start to save his career, who do you think fans will blame? And if Harvey happens to be on the mound when the Mets get eliminated? Wow, think of the hell he’ll endure from fans and the media.

In just three months, Harvey and the Mets begin the process of the right-hander’s first year of arbitration. In the not too distant future, Harvey will be eligible for free agency and there’s already whispers of potentially trading him. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports just wrote that no team is monitoring the Mets and Harvey more than the New York Yankees.

“It’s worth noting that the Yankees do love Harvey’s enormous talent and his usual moxie (this last week notwithstanding).”

Scott Boras would just love to stick it to Sandy Alderson and the Mets. The two have had an acrimonious relationship where each seemingly take turns lobbing insults at each other. Will he thwart any chance the Mets might have to re-sign Harvey, especially when teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, or even the Nats would love to snag a guy like him?

And finally, who knows how Matt Harvey himself is feeling about the team and his future after all that’s transpired? After having so many fingers pointed at him, will The Dark Knight get the last laugh and give a finger back to the Mets?

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Rollins Would Have Played For Mets, Says Their Future Is Bright Sun, 01 Mar 2015 00:41:21 +0000 jimmy-rollins-400

When Jimmy Rollins was still with the Phillies, there were two reports that he would use his veto rights to kill any trade to the Mets, who were reportedly very interested in the boisterous and still very productive shortstop.

However, in an interview with Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, Rollins refuted those reports and admitted that the New York Mets were his second choice of preferred offseason trade destinations.

“This was my No. 1 landing spot,” Rollins said from Los Angeles’ spring training camp, “and I considered the Mets to be No. 2. They have some arms over there — oh my gosh.”

“I’m not saying I would have gone there. It would have taken a lot. But when I was asked, ‘Write down the places you would go if you don’t have any (no-trade protection),’ I had one team on my list and another where I would go if it didn’t work out. Fortunately it worked out here (in Los Angeles). I’m very delighted with that.”

Rollins was eventually traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two minor-league pitchers in December, and he waived his 10-and-5 trade rights to allow the deal to go through.

Although he’ll be playing in the NL West, it won’t surprise him if Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and the Mets’ young pitchers help the team make some waves in the East.

“In New York, if you’re not the best, you’re the worst,” Rollins said. “But in my opinion, from playing against them, that team wasn’t that bad. And when you look to the future there, it looks pretty bright.”

It’s amazing how much bullshit gets falsely reported in the offseason. It was always bad, but now with the advent of the Twitter age, it’s gotten exponentially worse. It’s all part of the deterioration of sports journalism which has been reduced to blurbs, blasts, and rants, 140 characters at a time.

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Mets Have No. 5 Ranked Rotation In MLB, Could Develop Into Best Mon, 12 Jan 2015 18:55:01 +0000 jacob degrom

In a feature for ESPN Insider, Buster Olney ranked the top 10 starting rotations in baseball.

He ranks the Washington Nationals at No. 1 and the Los Angeles Dodgers right behind them at No. 2.

Olney placed the Mets rotation at No. 5 in the majors but also added that it could develop into the top rotation in the majors. Here’s what he wrote:

Matt Harvey was out all of last season following Tommy John surgery, and yet the Mets’ starters still had a respectable 3.66 ERA, thanks in part to Jacob deGrom developing into one of the best rookie starters in recent years and the strong progress of Zack Wheeler in the second half, when he posted a 3.09 ERA. Now Harvey is due back, and it’s very possible that if Harvey comes even close to what he was before he got hurt in 2013, the Mets’ group has a chance to develop into the best in the majors.”

“Some combination of Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon and Rafael Montero will round out the Mets’ rotation, and 22-year-old top prospect Noah Syndergaard is likely to reach the majors at some point this year.”

The 2015 ZiPS Projections for the Mets were rolled out today on FanGraphs, and they play out very well for our guys.

screenshot-www fangraphs com 2015-01-12 13-44-09

It’s nice to see such a strong projection for Matt Harvey and a nice followup season for Jacob deGrom. Only Gee and Colon are projected to have an ERA over 4.00 and there’s a good chance neither are here by the All Star break if not sooner. The top six on the list, which includes Matz and Syndergaard, all have a strikeout percentage over 20. Pretty snazzy if you ask me. LGM

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Dodgers’ Outfield Surplus May Pose An Opportunity For Mets Thu, 16 Oct 2014 13:49:19 +0000 royals

Ah, the post-season, or if you’re a Mets fan, another year of watching the new Fall TV Season on your big flat screen, while fans in other cities watch their teams compete in the playoffs.

There is no question that the last five seasons have been painful to watch unfold. We saw a potent offense get dismantled, along with a slashed payroll to help two con artists disguised as real estate entrepreneurs get over their misplaced faith in a criminal known as Madoff. It’s been hard as we watched players like Collin Cowgill, Brad Emaus, and Ruben Tejada get touted as diamonds in the rough, only to be exposed when they faced real pitching from the big boys.

Through it all, I have personally kept the faith with this front office. Ownership and the manager, not so much. I understand the value of trying to build something that can stand the test of time, and using the draft and young talent to provide a foundation for future success. The downside being that we would have to endure some dreadful baseball along the way. We are not alone in this regard, teams such as the Rays, Rangers, and even the Cardinals restocked and replaced over priced veterans using this model, with the St. Louis franchise now the standard bearer for how to build a perennial winner.

As has been well documented on MMO, this time of re-structure, re-tooling, and re-whatchamacallit has seemingly reached its nadir. There is plenty of excitement regarding the young pitching that will take the mound at Citi Field in 2015, and with good reason. Young power arms who can blow away opposing hitters, and with a bullpen that can hold any lead after the 7th inning. Dare I say it, things are looking up. But with such a surplus of talent, speculation is rampant on whether we can address the deficiencies on offense. The time to trade for that power hitting outfielder is now, screams every corner of Metsdom. But who is available in trade? Who do we match up with? Will we get taken to the cleaners?

This is where is gets crazy, these pages have already seen a million trade rumors with a plethora of suggested bats for the lineup, and to be honest, most of these trade efforts try to give the Mets a better shake of the stick. By far the most consistent trade rumors are those involving the Cubs, Diamondbacks, or Red Sox. Primarily as these teams have either great young infielders/outfielders but are lacking good young controllable pitching.

Typically, baseball trades do not work they way we expect them to. For example, for all the chatter about how the Metropolitans match up with the Cubs, nearly every published report has stated that neither team can find common ground on which pizza to eat at the bargaining table, let alone what players to swap. The D’Backs have a plethora of shortstops, but any mention of the Norse god of Thunder (Syndergaard) as return should result in a resounding no! So, are these all our options?

My answer would be no, but the team we match up with (and the player) might surprise you. I give you, a very disgruntled Los Angeles Dodgers team who may want to shake things up. The Dodgers have Hanley Ramirez departing via Free Agency, although the Dodgers have plenty of infield talent to fill that hole. However, the back end of their rotation will need shoring up after the retirement of Josh Beckett and the uncertainty around the return from injury of Chad Billingsley.

So, how do we match up with them Bums? Obviously, the first place to look would be in their crowded outfield. Uber prospect Joc Pederson will need to find room to play, so in my view its not if the Dodgers deal one of the surplus, its when. The real question afterwards is who will they deal? Lets take a look at the options.

The aforementioned Pederson isn’t going anywhere unless there is a team willing to part with at least two young pitching prospects, with a major league reliever possibly to boot. He will be on LA’s opening day roster and starting lineup in 2015, book it.

Andre Ethier was a decent contact hitter who is now on the big down slope of his career. As if that wasn’t bad enough he is owed over $50 million over the next three years, if that doesn’t scream stay away, not sure what will. Even if we offered Josh Edgin and LA pays 50% of his salary, its not worth it.

Scott Van Slyke is the favorite of many a Metsmerized commenter, he is young, put up an OPS of .919 in 246 at-bats, and can play anywhere in the outfield (though his defensive metrics aren’t wonderful). If the price is a Dillon Gee and a lower lever reliever (or possibly even a Jenrry Mejia), this is a deal that should be considered, though I think the Dodgers will ask for more.

Matt Kemp is an intriguing possibility. His late season surge in 2014 proves that he is still capable of being the offensive juggernaut that won him the mega contract in 2011. But he is also very brittle and susceptible to falling on his finger nail and being out for the season. I do not believe the Mets bite unless LA eats a very obese portion of that contract, and even then the return may have to be a Jacob deGrom or Zack Wheeler. Let’s leave this one alone.

There’s also Carl Crawford who is owed $63 million for his declining skills over the next three seasons. That’s more annually than David Wright. Interested? I didn’t think so.

yasiel puig

And that brings us to, Yasiel Puig, the Cuban phenom with the mercurial personality to go with the talent. No way the Dodgers deal him, right? Well, there are several reasons why they might entertain such a deal. One, after yet another post-season failure, the Dodgers may be looking for scapegoats (are you listening Donny Baseball?) and Puig did himself no favors with how he acted in the Division series. Plus with the Kemp, Crawford and Ethier contracts practically unmovable, this might be the roll of the dice they are willing to take. It bears noting that rumors are already making the rounds that Billy Beane might be making a pitch for Puig. Where there’s smoke?

What I believe is more amazing however is that the potential candidates we can send to LA may not be as onerous as one would believe. As I stated previously, the Dodgers need backend rotation help, catcher, and potentially bullpen or third base. What about Juan Uribe you ask? Well, he’s someone who hasn’t been able to stay on the field more than 130 games each of the last four years, and perhaps Daniel Murphy at the hot corner can appeal to the Dodgers. Add either Travis d’Arnaud or Kevin Plawecki to that package, and perhaps you are starting to generate a strong basis for a deal. Of course now some pitching will have to be added to the deal at this point, be it Niese, Mejia, Matz, or Ynoa. And Puig then gets to entertain the Big Apple.

The 23-year old Puig slashed at a .296/.382/.480 clip in pitching friendly Dodger Stadium with 37 doubles, 9 triples and 16 home runs in 640 plate appearances.

Far-fetched? Perhaps, but keep in mind that Puig has turned off many in the Dodgers’ front office and clubhouse alike. His poor display in the Division series (and the Cardinals knew how to get to him) must have had some Dodger execs shaking their head. He was even benched in the NLDS finale by manager Don Mattingly. Also, having the young right fielder come to New York, and its large Cuban population, might do him good.

You gotta at least admit; it’s a possibility.


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MMO Game Recap: Dodgers 7, Mets 4 Sun, 24 Aug 2014 04:26:10 +0000 jacob degrom

The New York Mets (60-70) were defeated by the Los Angeles Dodgers (74-57) by a score of 7-4 this evening at Dodger Stadium.

What you should know:

Jacob deGrom got the start for the Mets tonight in his first appearance back from the disabled list. He would go five innings, allowing five runs on five hits, while walking two and striking out seven, and taking the loss.

Zack Greinke got the nod for the Dodgers, and labored through seven innings, allowing four runs on nine hits while walking one and striking out four, but pitched well enough to earn the win.

The Mets took an early 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning with a three-run jack off the bat of Juan Lagares.

The Dodgers would answer right back in the bottom half of the inning, scoring two runs of their own, with an RBI single from Adrian Gonzalez and a sacrifice fly from Erisbel Arruebarrena.

Then in the bottom of the fifth inning, Adrian Gonzalez struck again as he launched a three-run shot to put Los Angeles on top 5-3.

lucas duda

Lucas Duda got the Mets within one run in the top of the sixth as he hit a solo home run, his 24th of the season.

Josh Edgin entered the game in the bottom of the seventh with a couple runners on base, and allowed a run to score on a weakly hit tapper off the bat of Scott Van Slyke. On the play, Edgin made a throwing error to allow Dee Gordon to reach third base, and he was promptly driven in by a sacrifice fly from Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a three-run lead, a lead they would hold on to for the rest of the night.

Kenley Jansen came on to shut the door in the top of the ninth, and despite giving up a double to Kirk Nieuwenhuis, he would shut the door, earning his 37th save of the season.

David Wright went 0-for-5 tonight, grounding into two double plays and striking out twice, leaving six runners on base in his plate appearances alone. Curtis Granderson also went 0-for-5.

The Mets went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position tonight.

On deck:

The Mets look to salvage the final game of the series tomorrow afternoon with Bartolo Colon (11-10, 3.85 ERA) squaring off against Kevin Correia (7-13, 4.87 ERA)

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Mets Notes: Montero Optioned, DeGrom Returns To The Hill, A Six-Man Rotation Sat, 23 Aug 2014 15:09:57 +0000 New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies

The Mets optioned RHP Rafael Montero to Triple-A Las Vegas following last night’s game to make room for Jacob deGrom who will be activated in time for his start against the Los Angeles Dodgers tonight.

DeGrom says he is pain-free and is looking forward to pitching through the end of the season. He was 6-5 with a 2.87 ERA when he was shut down with discomfort in his right shoulder.

“I’ve never played this long,” deGrom said. “So playing all the way into September is very important.”

The rookie right-hander will be allowed to throw roughly 40 more innings or 6-7 starts over the season’s final six weeks to reach a soft 185 innings cap. He will likely be limited to 100 pitches tonight.

DeGrom has emerged as a mainstay in the rotation, surpassing both Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard who were both expected to be fixtures in the rotation and ahead of deGrom last Spring.

“He’s been a huge part of our starting staff. This guy’s gotta be a candidate for rookie of the year with the job he’s done, with the numbers he’s put up,” manager Terry Collins told reporters.

There’s also a good chance that the Mets go to a six-man rotation once rosters expand. It should help keep Zack Wheeler and deGrom pitching straight through the end.

“If we do bring another starter up and we do go to a sixth man, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Collins said. “As long as we don’t have to skip him, as long as we don’t have to not pitch him, even if it’s every sixth day instead of every fifth day, he’ll still get through that last month and that will help him.”

I’m totally looking forward to tonight’s game and seeing deGrom on the mound again. He’s been one of the bright spots for me this season.

Okay it’s 11 AM and I’ve churned out 3,000 words already this morning, and I still haven’t had any coffee. Later…

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Trade Deadline Buzz: Dodgers Unwilling To Move Kemp, Castro Is Cubs Centerpiece, Tulo Tired Of Losing Sun, 06 Jul 2014 15:03:06 +0000 The MLB trade deadline is just over three weeks away and while it’s tough to say who is or isn’t on the block, or who are and aren’t sellers, we are getting some clarity on a few issues.

troy tulowitzki

It’s hard to envision Troy Tulowitzki wearing anything other than a Colorado Rockies uniform, but the team’s recent slide that has them 13 games out of first place and on pace for 95 losses has drawn the ire of the All Star shortstop. In comments made to Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post, Tulo sounded like he wants out.

“In Todd Helton, there’s someone who’s easy to look at his career here and how it played out. I have the utmost respect for Todd, but at the same time, I don’t want to be the next in line as somebody who was here for a long time and didn’t have a chance to win every single year.”

“He played in a couple postseason games and went to one World Series. But that’s not me. I want to be somewhere where there’s a chance to be in the playoffs every single year.”

Tulowitzki is signed through 2020 and owed about $115 million. Doesn’t sound like he’s as convinced in the Rockies’ plan as David Wright is in the Mets’ plan.

matt kemp

Ken Rosenthal reports that the Los Angeles Dodgers are poised to make a big move in search of another starting pitcher, but have let it be known that they will not part with any of their outfielders to get a deal done. The Dodgers are concerned with injuries and won’t use an outfielder as a trade piece. Yasiel Puig is too consistent to let go and Matt Kemp appears to have turned his season around. They cannot afford to trade either of them while Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and top prospect Joc Pederson deal with injuries.

The Dodgers were hoping to get Crawford back into the lineup with the intentions of trading either him or Ethier, but he has suffered a setback and the team is shutting him down temporarily. The Dodgers are considered major players for David Price if he becomes available.

starlin castro

So much for all the Starlin Castro trade buzz. Yesterday, Cubs President Theo Epstein called agent Paul Kinzer to assure him Castro’s future is secure after acquiring highly rated shortstop prospect Addison Russell on Friday. He then told reporters that the 24-year old Castro is the centerpiece of the the future of the organization.

“You can never have too many shortstops,” Epstein said. “They end up all over the field.”

“We would have been very open to get quality pitching in a deal, but there was no pitcher available who was even close to the caliber of player Addison Russell is,” Epstein said.

“We’re realistic about the fact that not all prospects work out,” Epstein said, “and we’re open to the fact at some point in the next few years, we’re going to make trades.

Site News:

MMO is looking for two people who are available to cover the Mets and MLB news cycle on weekday mornings from 7:00 AM to 12:00 PM. We’re looking for a daily MLB Buzz piece like this one, and a similar piece for the Mets. Qualified candidates will have experience blogging with an emphasis on straight reporting, take pride in the quality of their writing, and have the ability to work independently.

I’m also looking for a couple of minor league aficionados who would like to profile 1-2 Mets prospects per week for our Prospect Spotlight series on MMO.

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The Mets At A West Coast Crossroads Thu, 19 Jun 2014 14:28:13 +0000 MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Mets

Go west young man! Horace Greely, manifest destiny and all that. I remember it from Mr. Fabricant’s history class at Bryant H.S. Look west for opportunity and inspiration! And so it was, the Mets looked to a west coast paradigm manifested in two executive runs first in Oakland then in San Diego for our current leadership team. A “west coast” approach if you will. Even now with the Mets at a crossroads we look at their former exploits for answers.

Early in the off-season of 2005 Omar Minaya was in the midst of turning the Mets into a kind of “Angels East,” spending big to draw enough fans and revenue to ensure even more freedom to operate with the other big markets, and like the Mets, sharing their market with an even bigger neighbor. The Angels were, and arguably still are, on the cusp of establishing themselves as perennial big market big spending contenders. While Minaya’s ability to function was compromised, never completing his spend first and let everything else fall into place plan, a dramatic restructuring was embraced on account of ownership’s association with Bernie Madoff. Minaya’s services were no longer needed (attempts to retain him notwithstanding). The team was moving in another direction.

South, to San Diego. Pertinent to the Mets in that the Padres are a living artifact of Sandy Alderson’s most recent efforts. Padres fans, in spite of a couple of early division titles,  generally consider Alderson an axe man, he came in, put a stranglehold on every aspect of the organization, turned over baseball operations to Kevin Towers and sliced the team’s talent up for parts with cold, calculating, impunity … like the Doomsday Machine slicing up Rigel-IV for fuel. (incidentally, the similarities between the Trevor Hoffman and the Jose Reyes situations are uncanny).

Much like the Mets, the Padres have seen improved minor league systems, consistently ranking in the top 10 (if not the top 5). Yet, much like the Mets, they have struggled to perform in their offensively challenged home confines.

One major difference between the Padres and the Mets has been lip service. In San Diego Alderson couldn’t be bothered about fan backlash, he simply ignored the public. In NY, probably having been counseled against such an approach, Sandy and his spokespeople pushed the “don’t be fooled, we’re here to win” narrative, which was disingenuous at best and patronizing at worst. Not a good initial salvo in the all important “win the crowd” battle. Alderson proceeded to do precisely what he had done in San Diego, with one notable exception, David Wright. I’d wager David Wright would have been traded in a heartbeat had he been on the Padres only a few years earlier.

From San Diego you can take I5 north back to Los Angeles and the contents of Chavez Ravine where the Los Angeles Dodgers reside. The sight of perhaps one of the greatest violations of public trust, look no further than the history of Chavez Ravine for the whole sad story, “the poor man’s shangri-la.”

It certainly is no poor man’s recourse as the present day home of the Dodgers who have finally managed to outspend the Yankees, the first time anyone’s done that in 15 years.  But you can’t really talk about the Dodgers without talking about the Red Sox. The Dodgers were the willing recipient of one of the largest cash-dump trades in MLB history. About $270 million dollars in salary freed up by the Red Sox, but even more astonishing was that the Dodgers absorbed it. Remarkably, both Boston and L.A. seemed to benefit from this trade. The Dodgers were propelled to a 92 win NL west title in 2013 while the Red Sox did even better with mid-level replacement players racking up 97 wins. The lesson here? If you are paying for wins there really isn’t an argument, the Red Sox paid their players a lot less and ended up with 5 more wins. But the Dodgers won also, and winning means money, especially in a market that is even bigger than Boston. So there are no losers here, simply a case of big markets operating like only big markets can, consolidating and moving around staggering amounts of money and talent … must be nice if you are a member.

If you look at another trade, the Marlins and Blue Jays 2012 trade, it’s not only maybe even more interesting, the outcome seems similar. A trade that initially looked absolutely awful for the Blue Jays, is suddenly looking fantastic. Welcome to 2014 … One thing is certain, both of these supposed “salary dump” trades have thrown giant wrenches at the money won’t buy you pennants argument.

If you get back on I5 and continue north you end up in San Francisco where you can drive over to ATT Park, home of the Giants. The team our current brain trust has openly tried to emulate. A franchise built on a marvelous pitching tradition with two recent world titles in tow, another successful spare parts and scotch tape offense, and with no signs of slowing down.

The Giants are scary, they draft, develop, and spend … they can shut you down with their pitching and bullpen, but they also seem to know when to capitalize on mistakes. In our recent series against them, it felt like the Mets actually played well, and yet, one little mistake and forget it, the Giants snatch the win in a blink. it may actually be too early to judge whether our efforts to be like the Giants bear fruit. A tradition isn’t built overnight. Part of the strategy involves more than just putting great pitchers on the mound in the majors, it also involves accumulating the “collateral” to make trades, allowing you to pursue players like Carlos Beltran. The Mets have not exactly established pitching dominance at the major league level — although they are trending in that direction — but they also haven’t moved into the “trade for bats” phase. For all of Alderson’s talk about accumulating collateral, they have been sitting on that collateral since they came to town. Even the one piece they did trade (Colin McHough) is starting to look questionable.

Finally there’s the team across the bay. Oakland, the team that gave Sandy Alderson his start, with his disciple, ex-Met farm hand Billy Bean running the show (although I am sure there was a “Ha HA! Who is the Master now old man??!” moment at some point). The A’s, really since Sandy Alderson’s pivotal run as GM, have enjoyed perhaps the most sustained stretch of success, contending at times out of nowhere, season after season with an off-year here and there. They scout the high minors’ “almost ML ready” players aggressively and trade for those players aggressively. They also keep their minors stocked with pitching at the lower levels, developing a steady stream of ace caliber pitchers. Their prospects aren’t too shabby for 2014 either.

The Mets have reached a watershed moment in the context of their current approach. They are primed for trades having established a strong minor league pitching base but have not pursued any significant talent acquisitions, their payroll has been overhauled following the expiration of numerous cumbersome contracts but the team continues to spend less and showed mixed (at best) results with their recent foray into free agency.

It doesn’t look like the Mets will be spending any time soon, so they basically have a choice, they can either be like the A’s or the Padres. On one end of the spectrum you have the masterful wheeling and dealing on a shoestring of the Oakland A’s, on the other end you have the Padres, overly dependent on fragile prospects who more often than not aren’t good fits in their home ballpark … sound familiar?

The Padres, the A’s, and the Mets are all in the bottom third for spending. Unlike the A’s the Padres have not really been able to find a successful formula. The Mets, as currently constructed, are more like the Padres than the A’s because, like the Padres, we’ve been conservative in dealing talent from our minor league systems. It’s almost like this Mets front office is afraid of turning in a stinker, so they stand pat. I hope that’s not the case, because it would essentially neutralize one of the most important parts of the A’s (and to a lesser degree the Giants) formula … what good is all the pitching if you never trade for bats?

Something has to give. The Mets are loaded with pitchers, and are at (hopefully) a low point in their payroll, our GM’s contract is expiring soon. This is NY, we all know the deal, you want more fans? Win. Alderson and the NY Media have been running with a “now is the time” storyline for the Mets in 2014 but the results haven’t been there. We can add talent, we can add offense but the prospect of doing so without adding even a smidgen of payroll is unlikely, so, again welcome to San Diego east.

In the end, the Mets front office is going to wallow perpetually in a sort of almost there but not quite place until one of two things happen, they add a reasonable 10 – 15 million to their current payroll, allowing them to add a couple more decent free agents to the mix or perhaps one more big one, or they can loosen the purse strings on that minor league collateral and start making some trades. Whatever happens has to happen soon because for Sandy, his time is just about up, and the remarkable patience of a remarkable NY fanbase that has already been lied to and placated too often, is fed up enough to stay home.

Spend or Trade… Do something.

Don’t just stand there staring down the middle at a 3-1 fastball. Please, we don’t want to be the Padres…

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Mets Liked Abreu’s Approach, Could Join Bench This Season Wed, 02 Apr 2014 23:26:59 +0000 1714_Abreu_600

April 2

Mets GM Sandy Alderson discussed why he signed Bobby Abreu during his press conference today, citing that “his approach at the plate made him very attractive to us.”

Alderson said that he could see the 41-year old veteran as a potential fifth-outfielder who could be “a guy off the bench” for the Mets this season.

One reporter asked Alderson if Abreu was being considered for first base (huh?), to which he replied, “No. Bobby Abreu wasn’t signed to be a first baseman for Mets.”

I have no idea how Abreu could be anything other than depth for the outfield in Vegas. If he’s on our 25 man roster at any point this season, it would probably mean that a few things may have gone terribly wrong in our outfield.

Let’s hope that’s not the case.

March 31

John Heyman, Baseball Insider for CBS Sports, first reported that the Mets were considering signing Bobby Abreu to a minor league deal and sending him to Triple A Vegas as an insurance for the outfield.

Consider it a done deal as the Mets made the announcement a short time ago.

Abreu, 40, last played in 2012 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and he signed a minor league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies during this off-season.

In 17 spring games, he hit .244/.404/.466, before being released released. He’ll give the Mets some insurance in the outfield.

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MLB Opening Series: Another Reason I am Glad to be a Mets Fan Sun, 23 Mar 2014 12:34:12 +0000 los-angeles-dodgers-v-arizona-20140323-064218-378

The 2014 MLB season opened on Friday with a matchup of the big dollar Los Angeles Dodgers vs. the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks. A division matchup. A big market team vs. an upstart rival with a payroll roughly half of its opponent. It seems this should be a game for MLB to showcase. And it did….sort of. The game was played in Australia at 4am ET and 1am for the hometown fans of the teams playing. All I can say is Thank God my favorite team wasn’t playing in it.

A quick glance at Wikipedia shows a much bigger problem for MLB than trying to grow the game worldwide. People in the US have turned away. It was common place throughout the 80s and early 90s for the World Series to draw an average rating in the 20s. Last year, with two traditional markets, the average rating for the Boston/St. Louis matchup was 8.9. Contrast that to the NFL’s marque event where ratings have been steady for over 40 years, according to Nielsen.

I can’t imagine how frustrated fans of these teams must feel. Especially fans of the Dodgers. Many are already locked out of games due to a fight between cable distributors and SportsNet LA, excellently highlighted by the LA Times. Sure, some hardcore fans may have pulled the all-nighter. But many fans probably didn’t. For me, while I consider myself as hardcore as a mid-40 year-old fan can be, I probably would have DVRed it and watched later. Work and kids just add complexities to TV watching in the middle of the night. Know why sports rights fees are going through the roof? It’s because it is the one TV medium where live appointment viewing is required. MLB does not want to start discouraging that behavior.

So with 8 days to go before MLB Opening Day, I am ecstatic that I have the option to take off from work a little early, find a local watering hole with MLB Extra Innings, think of all the possibilities of the upcoming season, enjoy a beverage or two, and still have a good night’s sleep. Let’s Go Mets!

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Tommy John Surgery Pioneer Dr. Jobe Passes Away Sun, 09 Mar 2014 16:23:18 +0000 dr. jobe

On Friday, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. Frank Jobe passed away at the age of 88.

Jobe’s experimental surgery to fix a pitcher’s elbow was one of the biggest medical breakthroughs in sports and one that changed baseball forever. 

It was in 1974 when Jobe transplanted a tendon to replace the torn ulnar collateral ligament of Dodgers lefty Tommy John in a surgical procedure that would bear his name forever.

John would go on to pitch for another 14 years and become the first of thousands of athletes who would have their careers prolonged thanks to Dr. Jobe. 

Jobe taught Tommy John surgery to hundreds of orthopedic surgeons all over the world, and many of the ballplayers who had the procedure returned just as good or better than they were before suffering the injury.

Dr. Jobe was also a war hero. While serving as an army medic in World War II, he was captured by the Nazis at Bastogne, but would later escape from his captors. He was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism in battle.

Over the year, many players, coaches and executives have urged MLB to have Jobe enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but it hasn’t happened yet.

“Frank Jobe is a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word,” said Dodger President Stan Kasten. “His dedication and professionalism in not only helping the Dodgers, but athletes around the world is unparalleled. He was a medical giant and pioneer and many athletes in the past and the future can always thank Frank for finding a way to continue their careers.”

Both Matt Harvey and Jeremy Hefner have undergone the procedure and are currently on track to return late this season or at the start of the 2015 season.

There’s a wonderful obituary today in the New York Times that does a nice job of honoring Jobe and portraying the many achievements of this truly remarkable pioneer. Rest in peace.

Presented By Diehards

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No Mets Games On ESPN Sunday Night Baseball To Begin 2014 Wed, 15 Jan 2014 05:04:18 +0000 espn

The Mets are not scheduled to appear on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball for the first few months of the season according to a press release issued by the network.

There’s always the chance that the Mets will have games broadcasted on the fly during the second half of the season, which we’ve seen a lot of over the last few years. And I’m betting there will be plenty of interest in the Mets in 2014 as I consider them one of baseball’s top up-and-coming teams. Let the baseball betting begin.

The Sunday Night Baseball season will begin with an exclusive presentation of MLB Opening Night on ESPN when the Los Angeles Dodgers face off against the San Diego Padres on March 30, at 8 p.m. ET. 


The early season includes three appearances each by the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox, National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles.

Dan Shulman, in his fourth season with Sunday Night Baseball, will lead a new team, with new analyst Curt Schilling, returning analyst John Kruk and reporter Buster Olney.

Those guys don’t compare to Gary, Keith and Ron anyway. :-)


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This Day In Mets Infamy With Rusty: Random Thoughts On Bartolo Colon Thu, 12 Dec 2013 17:04:21 +0000 bartolo colon

Last night as I was getting comfortable on my couch, I was scanning the twitterverse and lo and behold what breaking news did I see but the unofficial announcement that the Mets had signed veteran starting pitcher, Bartolo Colon to a 2-year/$20 million dollar contract pending a physical. Obviously this set Mets Twitter on the verge of nuclear meltdown, the likes that no one has seen since Jason Bay agreed to that fateful 3-year/$66 million dollar contract.

Then I got to thinking: What does this mean to the average Mets fan and how does this affect the Mets over the course of the next 2 years? So here are some random thoughts on the signing of Bartolo – or as the newly signed outfielder, Chris Young refers to him as – ToeLo.

Bartolo’s uniform number should be the same as his waist size (50).

Part of Colon’s contract is that he gets his own show on SNY called Bartolo vs Food.

I wonder who would win in a Sumo wrestling match in a ring filled with Jell-O, him or Mo Vaughn ?

With Bartolo on the mound there is no need for infielders – because he is the infield.

Bartolo makes me look svelte.

He gets his own personal “Shake Shack!”

I bet he doesn’t find salmon tasty.

And lastly, and in all seriousness, this is a good signing that hopefully will help the Mets compete in 2014.

And with that said…. HERE COMES THE INFAMY !!!!!

Sadly on this date in 1992, Rube Walker – the Mets pitching coach/guru from ’68-’81 – passed away.

The New York Mets traded reserve outfielder, Jim Gosger and utility infielder, Bob Heise to the San Francisco Giants for middle reliever, Ray Sadecki and reserve outfielder, Dave Marshall on December 12, 1969.

In what can and should be considered one of the worst trades in Mets history, the New York Mets traded outfielder, Rusty Staub and minor league pitcher, Bill Laxton to the Detroit Tigers for starting pitcher,  Mickey Lolich and reserve outfielder,  Billy Baldwin on December 12, 1975.

Lolich was supposed to help strengthen the Mets pitching rotation but finished his lone season with a record of 8-13. He retired after the season ended so that he could open a doughnut shop, but then he unretired in ’78 to pitch for the San Diego Padres !!!

The New York Mets traded reserve outfielder, Gene Clines to the Texas Rangers for outfielder, Joe Lovitto on December 12, 1975.

Lovitto ended up being released by the Mets during spring training.

The New York Mets traded middle reliever,  Roy Lee Jackson to the Toronto Blue Jays for utility infielder,  Bob Bailor on December 12, 1980.

The New York Mets signed free agent back up catcher,  Orlando Mercado of the Minnesota Twins on December 12, 1989.

The New York Mets traded reserve outfielder,  Alex Ochoa to the Minnesota Twins for reserve outfielder, Rich Becker on December 12, 1997.

The New York Mets signed free agent José Valentin of the Los Angeles Dodgers on December 12, 2005. This was one of then General Manager ,Omar Minaya’s best under the radar signings

The New York Mets traded middle reliever,  Scott Schoeneweis to the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league pitcher, Connor Robertson on December 12, 2008. After the way Scho pitched that last game of the season everybody knew he wouldn’t ever return to the Mets.

The New York Mets granted  reliever and alleged murderer, Ambiorix Burgos granted free agency on December 12, 2008.

The New York Mets claimed starting pitcher, Jeremy Hefner on waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates on December 12, 2011.

Hefner pitched admirably if not uneven the last two seasons for the Mets in a limited role. Lets hope his surgically repaired pitching arm is ready for the ’15 season .

Mo Vaughn is looking forward to chewing the fat with Bartolo Colon!!!

If you want to hear the rebroadcast of last night’s “Shouts From Shea” podcast featuring myself as well as Steven Keane from “The Kranepool Society” please click here. Our guests include Joe D of this fine blog as well as Danny Abriano from the “Rising Apple” blog.


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This Day In Mets Infamy With Rusty: Random Thoughts On Granderson Sun, 08 Dec 2013 16:31:10 +0000 Orioles at Yankees

When the news broke late Friday morning that the Mets had finally came to an agreement with outfielder, Curtis Granderson I admit I did the proverbial  “happy dance” while driving in my car. Yes Granderson is not the “savior” that the Mets need to help this team escape from mediocrity as well as ineptitude. But his signing is a start and I do agree with Daily News columnist, Andy Martino, that his signing is the type of signing that shows other free agents that the Mets are trying to field a team that is trying to win.

Is Granderson a game changing free agent like Pedro Martinez or Carlos Beltran like the Mets signed before the 2005 season? No, but I feel he will be more of a leadership type ala Cliff Floyd, and a good complimentary player that will take the pressure off some of the other players including David Wright who now doesn’t have to do all the heavy lifting.

Is he worth the contract that he signed? Well he got a contract that reflects the robust free agent market this season. Would I have gone a fourth year? Obviously if I didn’t have to I wouldn’t, but hopefully by the end of his contract he will still be healthy enough to produce and that his career doesn’t mirror that of George Foster.

Lastly, I do not believe Mike Francesa’s “sources” that Jeff Wilpon had to twist Alderson’s arm to go the fourth year on Granderson. I’ll go with Mike Puma’s version of events, who tweeted that the fourth year was all Sandy. Now lets just hope the Mets GM can do some adding-on this week in Orlando.

And with that said….. HERE COMES THE INFAMY!!!

Mets alumni celebrating a birthday today include:

The original “Crazy Horse”, shortstop Tim Foli is 63 (1950). Foli was one of the players that was dealt in the trade that brought Rusty Staub to the Mets. The Mets would bring him back seven years later as a utility infielder.

Other transactions of note include:

The New York Mets purchased the contract of outfielder, Richie Ashburn from the Chicago Cubs on December 8, 1961. Ashburn was the first Met to ever bat over .300.

The New York Mets traded reserve infielder,  Elio Chacon and starting pitcher, Tracy Stallard to the St. Louis Cardinals for  outfielder, Johnny Lewis and middle reliever,  Gordie Richardson on December 8, 1964.

The New York Mets traded  former Rookie of the Year pitcher, Jon Matlack and power hitting first baseman/outfielder, John Milner to the Texas Rangers for first baseman, Willie Montanez, as well as reserve outfielders, Ken Henderson and Tom Grieve on December 8, 1977. This trade definitely goes down as one of the top 10 worst trades in Mets history!

The New York Mets traded fan favorite Jerry Koosman to the Minnesota Twins for future closer, Jesse Orosco and Greg Field on December 8, 1978. Koosman demanded to be traded when he saw how the Mets front office dismantled the team the season prior. M. Donald Grant granted Kooz his demands and it would take four years until we realized that the Mets got the better end of that deal.

The New York Mets traded utility infielder, Bob Bailor and spot starter/middle reliever, Carlos Diaz to the Los Angeles Dodgers for pitcher, Sid Fernandez and utility infielder, Ross Jones on December 8, 1983. This in my opinion was one of the biggest steals in Mets history

The Florida Marlins signed first baseman, Dave Magadan of the New York Mets as a free agent on December 8, 1992.I always felt is was a no brainer that “Mags” should have been the heir apparent to Keith Hernandez‘s job after “Mex” was let go. But the Mets management didn’t see him that way and paired him with various players in a platoon role. One has to wonder what coulda been if he was given the role full time.

The Florida Marlins signed starting pitcher,  Al Leiter of the New York Mets as a free agent on December 8, 2004. Although Mets fans saw Leiter as a clubhouse lawyer type it is not crazy to say that was one of the best pitchers over the last 20 years to wear a Mets uniform.

Mo Vaughn thinks the Grandy Man can!!! He was heard singing the confectionery jingle, “I Want Candy.”

Presented By Diehards

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This Day In Mets Infamy With Rusty: May The Farce Be With You Wed, 27 Nov 2013 14:48:06 +0000 star wars

A long long time ago, in a stadium directly across from Citi Field was a place where fans were born and memories were created. That was before the dark times – BEFORE THE MADOFF…

It is funny when you watch one of your all time favorite movies that you can attribute certain quotes to specific areas of your favorite baseball team. Take for example  this little nugget of jubilation:

You see what I told you was true….  from a certain point of view

This quote was uttered by Obi Wan Kenobi when Luke Skywalker confronted him about the true nature of Darth Vader’s identity. We can also attribute this to Sandy Alderson’s assertion that the Mets would spend more that the five million dollars the Mets spent last offseason. With the signing of Chris Young to that $7.25 million dollar contract they did just that. Is it what the fans expected? No, but Alderson was telling the truth – but not the way the fans had hoped.

Then there is this quote by Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back:

Do or do not. There is no try.

This is how the fans feel when the front office says that they intend on improving next years roster. But until the fans see some results, apathy will reign alongside the Dark Lord of the Sith.

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Then there is this :

I find your lack of faith disturbing

This best sums up the disconnect between ownership and the fan base.


Were doomed!!!

When we learned of Matt Harvey‘s need for Tommy John surgery.

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And lastly…..

I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

This best describes my reaction when I – along with many of my fellow Mets fans – reacted when it was revealed the Mets would have a hard cap of $30 million dollars to spend in an offseason where almost every other baseball team has money to burn.

So lets just hope that this upcoming season at Citi Field finds the Mets in the middle of a dog fight of X-Wing proportions instead of it being like the frozen planet Hoth by the middle of August.

And with that said…. HERE COMES THE INFAMY!!!!!

Mets alumni celebrating a birthday today includes:

Middle reliever from the ’68 season,  Bill Short turns 76 today (1937).

Reserve outfielder from the ’87 season, Randy Milligan is 52 (1961).

Spot starter/middle reliever from 2010, Raul Valdes  is 36 (1977).

Other notables include:

The New York Mets traded pitcher,  Bill Denehy to the Washington Senators for their manager, Gil Hodges on November 27, 1967. This is still one of the best trades the Mets ever made.

The New York Mets traded outfielder, Tommie Agee to the Houston Astros for outfielder Rich Chiles and  pitcher Buddy Harris on November 27, 1972. Agee was already past his prime by the time this trade was made, but Chiles was not a suitable replacement for Agee, and pitcher, Buddy Harris never played a game for the Mets.

The New York Mets traded middle relievers,  Brent Strom and Bob Rauch to the Cleveland Indians for reliever  Phil Hennigan on November 27, 1972.

The Boston Red Sox signed reliever Skip Lockwood of the New York Mets as a free agent on November 27, 1979. Lockwood was one of the best Mets closers you don’t remember.

The New York Mets signed free agent first baseman, Eddie Murray of the Los Angeles Dodgers on November 27, 1991. He still played at a high level in his  2 seasons as a Met, but his anti-social attitude was one of the reasons why the Mets team he played with was dubbed ” The Worst Team Money Could Buy”.

The New York Mets traded middle reliever, Jerry Dipoto to the Colorado Rockies for pitcher, Armando Reynoso on November 27, 1996.

The New York Mets traded  popular first baseman, Rico Brogna to the Philadelphia Phillies for middle relievers, Ricardo Jordan and Toby Borland on November 27, 1996.

Mo Vaughn is such a Star Wars fanatic that he once dressed as the Sarlacc Pit for Halloween !!!!

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