Mets Merized Online » Rickey Henderson http://metsmerizedonline.com Sun, 01 Feb 2015 01:16:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.5 Amazin’ Mets Moments: Fonzie Goes Six for Six! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/amazin-mets-moments-fonzie-goes-six-for-six.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/amazin-mets-moments-fonzie-goes-six-for-six.html/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 18:43:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165275 Edgardo 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.

edgardo alfonzo white jersey

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.

edgardo alfonzo

Ah, 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.

MMO footer

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Talkin’ Baseball: Tim Raines Should Be In The Hall of Fame http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/talkin-baseball-tim-raines-should-be-in-the-hall-of-fame.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/talkin-baseball-tim-raines-should-be-in-the-hall-of-fame.html/#comments Tue, 17 Dec 2013 05:05:14 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=135620 We’re all hoping that Mike Piazza will get the call when the Hall of Fame voting results are announced on January 8th. This year is a very crowded field with newcomers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Mike Mussina, and Jeff Kent among the top first timers along with strong holdovers Craig Biggio, Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Lee Smith, Curt Schilling, Edgar Martinez, and Fred McGriff. There are also the steroid guys that have the numbers to get in, but never may – Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro. That’s already 18 guys (and only 10 votes can be cast by a single writer) before this one player that should be in the Hall.

While he was not a Met, he was a fierce competitor of the Mets that I’ve been in favor of his enshrinement ever since he was first eligible in 2008.

His name is Tim Raines.

Tim-RainesHe’s on the ballot this year for the 7th time. Last year he managed to achieve 52% of the vote and he may eventually get there. However, will the crowded field hurt his chances and the momentum he’s gained the last few years?

Raines played 23 seasons in the majors. While he spent the last several years of his career as a role player and after 1993, he was not the same player that in my opinion made him a Hall of Famer, he did have a dominant 10 year stretch where he was one of the most feared players in the game.

He wasn’t a slugger, but he was the player you didn’t want to beat you. He played his best seasons in Montreal, so most of his greatness wasn’t in the spotlight. He also was overshadowed by Rickey Henderson. Raines game was speed. He got on base and he ran. He did it better than almost anybody else. He was Rickey Henderson in the National League.

During his 10 year stretch as a full time player in Montreal from 1981-1990 (1981 being a strike shortened year), he stole 627 bases, had 1,597 hits, scored 926 runs, had 81 triples, and had 769 walks. During this 10 year stretch in Montreal, he hit .302 and had an OBP of .391.

He was a dangerous player. By the time he left Montreal, he was a Hall of Fame player, and had already put in the 10 years needed for the Hall. Maybe he wasn’t in the Big Room, but he was in the hall. For that 10 year stretch, he wasn’t a compiler – he was someone you were scared of. Mets fans know that well.

Before that 10 year stretch, he had cups of coffee in two other seasons with the Expos and played for an additional 9 years with the White Sox, Yankees, A’s, Orioles, Expos, and Marlins. He had a few productive years as a full time player with the White Sox – in his 5 full seasons with the Sox, he scored 100 runs twice, hit .300 once, and had two seasons with over 80 walks. He stole 51 bases in 1991 and 1992 (which were the two seasons he walked over 80 times). His .306 season occured in 1993 at the age of 33, but saw his stolen base production drop to 21 and he was never the same player after that. He aged after that the way players naturally do. His last season as a full time player came in 1995 with the White Sox where he hit .285 and stole just 13 bases.

By the time he started to play in big media markets, Tim Raines was already a player on the decline. He began to diminish in Chicago and he was only a role player by the time he came to the Yankees. He played well in his 3 seasons in New York, batting .299 with a .398 OBP in part time duty, but by then, he was far removed from his Hall of Fame level.

Had Raines retired earlier, he would probably be in the Hall by now. He stuck around long after his prime as a good, but not great, role player which may have watered down memories of how great he was in his prime. The cocaine usage also may not have helped him either.

Tim Raines deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

mmo

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To Boldly Go Where No GM Has Gone Before: Why the Mets Will Never Win with Alderson http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/to-boldly-go-where-no-gm-has-gone-before-why-the-mets-will-never-win-with-alderson.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/to-boldly-go-where-no-gm-has-gone-before-why-the-mets-will-never-win-with-alderson.html/#comments Fri, 13 Sep 2013 12:50:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=129154 Mets-fan-sad

A couple of nights ago I’m on Facebook checking out a page for fellow Mets fans. We’re all rejoicing in the Yankees misery. I, too, add a few comments and threw in a joke about ‘A-Roid.’ Someone else commented about us playing spoiler and knocking the Nats further back. Then, it hit me. This is what we’ve become.

We have nothing hopeful to cheer for, so yet again this season, we are reduced to the role of spoiler. (Of course, we don’t even do that well since Washington swept us). And while we celebrate the failures of the Yankees, do you think they even care about us? They’ve got more important things to worry about. We’re not even a (blue and orange) fly on the ass of a (pinstriped) cow.

The 2013 Mets will finish under 500 for the fifth straight year, something this club hasn’t done since the early 1990’s. And despite Sandy Alderson’s (ahem) “plan,” he is now weeks away from completing his third season as Mets GM and each year, our win total has gone down. We own the worst home record in baseball, 7th worst overall.

Remember just a few years back when we were laughing at small market clubs like Pittsburgh and Kansas City?

When our Mets were resurrected from Grant’s Tomb, ownership and GM Frank Cashen provided hope. Things improved, albeit slowly. We signed slugger George Foster, one of the most prolific home run hitters in the game, we reacquired Dave Kingman for power and to excite the fan base, brought back Tom Terrific. Sure, a lot of these plans failed, but we had hope, we had excitement and we had promise that a brighter future was on the horizon. After three years of the Alderson regime, are you more or less optimistic? Do you think this team is heading in the right direction? To steal a line from past presidential elections, are the Mets better off now than they were three years ago?

Our decreasing win total and plummeting attendance show the direction we’re heading.

alderson-on-reyesAlderson’s big accomplishment—and really his only one—was getting Zack Wheeler. And while Wheeler has turned into our de facto ace due to the injury to the Minaya-acquired Matt Harvey, Carlos Beltran’s bat would sure help right now. During 2012 and thus far in 2013, Beltran has clobbered 55 HR’s, knocked in 173 and hit .288. One fact that gets overlooked is that Alderson also handed over $4 million to San Francisco along with Beltran for Wheeler.

Frank Cashen knew about building a winner. He turned the Orioles into a perennial contender in the late 60’s and kept them relevant through the entire next decade. He did the same upon arriving in NY. Alderson, however, has never re-built a team. I’m not faulting him. He’s just in over his head.

In 1984 while GM of Oakland, Alderson traded 25 year old Rickey Henderson who was just coming into his prime. In exchange for dealing the greatest lead-off hitter in history, Alderson got back five players. The only one of substance was Jose Rijo. However, just as Rijo was maturing and developing, Alderson turned around and traded him away for a 37 year-old Dave Parker. Rijo would go on to guide Cincinnati to a World Series, become a NL All-Star and lead the league in strikeouts. And that Rickey Henderson guy? He did okay, too.

Still have faith in…(insert dramatic music)…The Plan?

rickey-henderson-hall-of-fame-speech - Copy

Alderson has persistently maintained that he will build a winner from within and not rely on signing players. Many Mets fans initially agree. After all, we’re not the Yankees. We don’t buy pennants. We build from our own talent, just like we did in 86 and 69, right? Wrong!!!

No team, not even our Amazins, has ever won solely on homegrown talent. It helps and sure, it’s rewarding to win with guys from your farm system. But it’s never been done exclusively. As Mr. Spock would say, “Illogical.” To win, you need that perfect blend of rookies AND veterans, of your own youngsters AND proven winners.

In the 80’s, Darryl Strawberry was the best offensive prospect the Mets ever brought up. And Doc? Well, Doc broke more records than were shattered during Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in 1979. In spite of the fact these two seemed a lock for Cooperstown, Cashen realized he needed more. He traded for Keith Hernandez, a World Champion, former MVP and proven winner. He added Gary Carter who had an unquenchable thirst to win. He obtained fiery Ray Knight. And while Gooden, Ron Darling and Sid Fernandez were solid, Cashen acquired Bobby Ojeda from Boston, whose 18 wins would lead the staff in 1986.

Can anyone picture the Mets winning in ’86 without Keith, Gary, Ray and Bobby?

Can anyone out there envision Alderson bringing that caliber of player to New York?

When the Mets won the pennant in ’73 and came within one hit of winning it all, sure, we had Tug and Cleon and Buddy. But the player who led the team in hits and batting average that season was Felix Millan, a second baseman acquired from Atlanta. Rusty Staub came in a trade from Montreal and was the team leader in RBI’s. And the pitcher with the best winning percentage was not Seaver, Koosman or Matlack, but rather George Stone, yet another player obtained via a trade. Stone was 9 games over 500 for a team that finished just 3 games over 500. Take away Millan, Staub and Stone—players acquired through trade—and there’s no pennant.

gal-60mets-31-jpgThe same holds true going back to 1969 when trades were rare and largely unheard of. Buddy Harrelson stated that when the Mets acquired Donn Clendenon that June, the players began to believe. Clink was a legitimate home run threat. And as Seaver won his first Cy Young Award and Cleon hit .340, it was ex-White Sox and former Rookie of the Year Tommie Agee who was the team leader in homers and runs scored.

Anyone out there holding their breath that Alderson will obtain a former Rookie of the Year?

In addition to Alderson’s long history of never making a blockbuster trade—and I won’t even mention about getting losing of a batting champion one winter followed by getting rid of a Cy Young winner the next – his decisions when it comes to managers is even more baffling. It is evident that Wally Backman will be gone soon, discarded by the front office after years of loyalty (and years of winning) as if he was an old rosin bag. Wally does not fit in with the Mets plan. He’s too abrasive, too demanding, too hard. He battles the front office too much. So, instead of promoting a proven winner, we’ll stick with Terry Collins and his .459 winning percentage.

No Mets manager ever butted heads with his GM more than Davey Johnson did with Cashen. And Cashen knew that ahead of time. He was Baltimore’s GM in the 1960’s when Davey was their second baseman. Cashen was fully aware of the tinderbox he was creating by hiring Davey. But Davey had won in the minors, Davey knew his team and the young players—Gooden, Strawberry, Dykstra—were loyal to him. Cashen overlooked his own feelings for the good of the team. He didn’t care about the clash of personality. He accepted the challenge because he had the smarts to realize that Davey Johnson, like Wally, was a proven winner. This is an area where Alderson is plainly deficient.

World-Series-Game-7-4 - Copy - Copy

While GM in Oakland, although his skipper was successful, Alderson let him get away. The brash, unorthodox and outspoken Tony LaRussa took his baseball experience and acumen to St. Louis where he guided the Cardinals to 10 post-seasons in 15 years, including three pennants and two championships. During Alderson’s later stint with the Padres, he had no qualms about letting Bruce Bochy slip through his fingers. Bochy headed north to San Francisco where he brought the Giants their first title since moving to the west coast in 1958. Two years later, Bochy brought them another one.

“This is a wait and see season, here just to be survived by fans until the real fixing can be done. We knew this year would be painful.”

I thought the above quote I discovered was poignant. And also, ironic. It appeared on a website on May 25, 2011, three seasons ago. Since then, the Mets have lost 228 games. Seems like not much has changed.

So, we’ll continue to wait…and wait…and wait some more for Alderson’s “plan” to magically take hold. He makes promises, losses pile up, players get injured, and the future looks no brighter…but we continue waiting. We’ve now waited 27 years for a championship. We’ll keep waiting. We’ll watch other teams play into October, we’ll hope Alderson shores up the bullpen this winter, signs a couple of bats, we’ll look for updates on Matt Harvey—and I’m sure we’ll get a few funny jokes via Twitter from our GM while the Red Sox or Pirates or Tigers get fitted for World Series rings. He may not know how to win, how to improve a team, how to rebuild a franchise…but, hey, he’s funny. So, at least we’ll laugh while we wait…and wait…

Once upon a time there was a baseball team. They were good, very good. Solid, well-balanced. They had three players with over 80 RBI’s. Two of their starters won 20 games and had ERA’s under 3.00. Of the eight position players, five hit over 300, including the catcher who hit .344. This team won 100 games, enough to capture the NL pennant. They went to the World Series where they fell short, losing to Detroit in six games.

This team was the 1935 Cubs. And although it had been 27 years since their last World Championship in 1908, I’m sure they felt optimistic about their future, too. Granted, 27 years was a long time to wait, they must have thought, but “I’m sure we’ll win soon. We must have some sort of plan.”

Amazin?

Or as Mr. Spock would say…Mr_SpockFascinating

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This Week In Baseball: Doc Becomes Youngest 20 Game Winner, Yanks Release Rizzuto http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/this-week-in-baseball-doc-becomes-youngest-20-game-winner-yanks-release-rizzuto.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/this-week-in-baseball-doc-becomes-youngest-20-game-winner-yanks-release-rizzuto.html/#comments Sun, 25 Aug 2013 04:04:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=127809 dwight-gooden

AUGUST 25:

1922: Leading 25-6 after 4 innings, the Cubs hold on to beat the Phillies, 26-23. The Phillies left the bases loaded in the ninth. The 49 total runs is the most ever scored in a single game.

1956: The Yankees pick up Enos Slaughter off waivers and in turn give an unconditional release to fan favorite Phil Rizzuto.

1983: The Louisville Redbirds (AAA-Cardinals) become the first minor league team to draw one million fans.

1985: At 20 years, 9 months and 9 days, Dwight Gooden becomes the youngest pitcher in history to win 20 games.

1986: With a prodigious blast off Detroit’s Walt Terrell, a rookie named Mark McGwire hits his first major league home run.

1997: Boston’s Nomar Garciaparra gets a hit in his 27th straight game, setting a record for AL rookies.

2005: With a 6-3 victory over the Pirates, Cardinals skipper Tony LaRussa wins his 2195th game, passing Sparky Anderson for third all-time. The only managers with more wins are Connie Mack (3731) and John McGraw (2763)

AUGUST 26:

1898: The Cleveland Spiders play their final home game of the year. Nicknamed ‘The Nomads,’ the Cleveland club plays 83 of their final 87 games on the road.

1939: At Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, NBC televises the first Major League game in history. Red Barber does the play-by-play as the Dodgers and Reds split a double-header.

1947: Dan Bankhead of Brooklyn becomes the first black pitcher in history. He homered in his first plate appearance that day, but allowed six earned runs.

1961: Roger Maris hits home run # 51, putting him ahead of Babe Ruth‘s record setting pace.

1965: After defeating the Mets in 13 straight starts, Sandy Koufax (21-7) loses to Tug McGraw (2-2).

1966: Vic Roznovsky and Boog Powell of Baltimore hit back-to-back pinch hit HR’s. It’s only the third time in history this has happened.

1980: At County Stadium in Milwaukee, Royals third baseman George Brett goes 5-for-5 and raises his BA to 407.

1987: The longest hitting streak in the AL since Joe DiMaggio‘s in 1941 comes to an end at 39 when Paul Molitor fails to get a hit. Ironically, Molitor was on-deck when the final out of the game was made.

2002: The first video streaming coverage of a baseball game appears on the Internet. The Yankees defeat the Rangers, 10-3.

2002 — New York shortstop Derek Jeter scored his 100th run of the season, joining Ted Williams (1939-49) and Earle Combs (1925-32) as the only players in modern history to score at least 100 runs in their first seven seasons.

AUGUST 27:

1911: Future Hall of Famer Ed Walsh of Chicago no-hits Boston, 5-0.

1918: Christy Mathewson, now retired, steps down as manager of the Reds and accepts the role of Captain in the US Army. While serving in World War I, Matty is accidentally gassed during a training exercise resulting in his premature death in 1925, at age 45.

1938: Monte Pearson tosses the first no-hitter in Yankee Stadium, a 13-0 win over Cleveland.

1946: At the annual Owners Meeting, the owners decide to continue ‘The Gentleman’s Agreement’ and ban black athletes from playing in the majors. The ludicrous reasons include that black players display “…an absence of skills necessary…” as well as “…a lack of fundamentals.”

1955: Making only his second start in the majors, a young lefthander named Sandy Koufax defeats the Reds, 7-0. Koufax allows only 2 hits and fans 14.

1974: Benny Ayala of the Mets becomes the first player in 13 years to homer in his first major league at-bat.

1977: Bump Wills and Toby Harrah of Texas hit back-to-back inside the park home runs on back-to-back pitches.

1978: Joe Morgan becomes the first player to reach 200 Home Runs and 500 SB’s.

1982: Rickey Henderson breaks Lou Brock‘s single season SB mark with his 119th swipe of the year. Henderson stole it against the battery of Doc Medich/Ted Simmons…on a pitch-out.

1997: As a joke, the Indians pull up their socks to just below the knees to celebrate the birthday of teammate Jim Thome. Cleveland would go on to win 17 of their next 27 games and ultimately, the American League pennant.

AUGUST 28:

1884: Mickey Welch of the NY Gothams fans the 1st 9 batters he faces. Welch wins 39 games this year and a total of 307 in a brief 13 year career.

1945: In a secret meeting in Brooklyn, Branch Rickey privately meets with Jackie Robinson and tells him of his plan to integrate the majors. During the long meeting, Rickey will get in Jackie’s face and shout an endless barrage of racial slurs just to ‘test’ the young player and see how Robinson reacts, knowing full well what lies ahead.

1977: Nolan Ryan fans 11 and reaches 300 K’s for the fifth time in his career.

1983: Greg Luzinski, ‘The Bull,’ joins Jimmie Foxx and Ted Williams as the only players to hit a ball onto the roof of Comiskey Park.

1989: Frank Viola of the Mets defeats Orel Hershiser of the Dodgers, 1-0. It was the first ever regular season match-up of two defending Cy Young Award winners.

Jackie_Robinson_42

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Memorable Mets Moments: Benny Agbayani Slams The Cubs http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/memorable-mets-moments-benny-agbayani-slams-the-cubs.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/memorable-mets-moments-benny-agbayani-slams-the-cubs.html/#comments Tue, 21 May 2013 13:16:22 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=119461 AGBAYANI

AGBAYANI: THE METS’ “BENNY-FACTOR” SLAMS THE CUBS

Did you ever notice that certain players that have toiled in the minors for a while tend to exhibit surges in production when they finally get a crack at the big time? It’s as if they had those hits stockpiled for the Show and can’t wait to get them out of their systems once fortune and the front office permits. So it seemed to be with Benny Agbayani, a stocky outfielder who physique evoked the same comparisons with a pineapple that were applied to his predecessor as the resident Hawaiian Met, Sid Fernandez. Benny flaunted a somewhat more athletic build however, and for a time looked to be a greater source of batting power than his record on the farm had indicated.

A 30th round draft pick by the Mets in 1993, Agbayani spent the better part of 6 seasons moving up the rungs of the farm system with stops at Pittsfield, St. Lucie, Binghamton and Norfolk before getting a 15 AB cameo with the big club in 1998. However, he failed to make a good enough showing to remain, going 2 for 15, and was returned to AAA where he found himself assigned once again the following season.  Never a major power threat, Benny had nonetheless endeared himself to Norfolk manager Bobby Valentine during his tenure there with a combination of hustle and timely hitting. When Bobby V moved up to take the reins of the varsity squad, he lobbied for Benny’s promotion when a wave of outfield malaise necessitated a call up. And so, in May of 1999, Agbayani was given another shot at the majors.

At this point, Benny was a 27 year-old spare part who was generally regarded as a non-prospect by much of the baseball intelligentsia of the time. Prospect or not, he seized the chance afforded by this second go-round and went on a power binge that was so out of character with his past performance that it amazed even him. Inserted into the lineup against the Colorado Rockies (in a weird instance where both starting pitchers that day were named Bobby Jones), Benny collected two hits including his first big league home run. He continued to mash after that, collecting 6 more bombs over the next 2 weeks and an amazing 10 in his first 73 at bats.  He reached the All Star break with a total of 11, but came back to earth in the second half of the season and finished the year with 14.

Still, he had put up solid numbers for the year, batting .286 in 276 at bats while knocking in 42 runs with an OPS of .888. More importantly, he had played a not-insignificant role in helping the Mets reach the post-season for the first time in 11 years.  He would save his playoff heroics for the following year however, and batted a soft .235 between the Division Series and LCS in ’99 with only 1 RBI.

The 2000 season began with the Mets facing the Cubs in the Tokyo Dome in the first major league game played on a continent other than North America. Benny hadn’t had a particularly glorious showing in spring training that year and was lower in the club’s pecking order of outfielders.  In the opening series, Valentine had opted to go with Jay Payton, Darryl Hamilton, Rickey Henderson, and Derek Bell, the latter coming over in the trade that had netted new rotation ace Mike Hampton. Agbayani was relegated to the bench, the vantage point from which he watched the team drop the first contest by a score of 5-3.

The next day found him there again as the teams took a 1-1 game into extra innings. As the game moved to the top of the 11th inning, the Mets looked for a chance to push the go-ahead run across and avoid a sweep. Cubs reliever Danny Young was brought in to start the inning, the seventh pitcher used by manager Don Baylor that day.  After getting two out, he surrendered a single to Mets first baseman Todd Zeile and then issued back-to-back walks to load the bases. The pitcher’s spot in the lineup came up and Valentine tapped Benny as a pinch hitter. After tossing his first pitch to Agbayani wide of the strike zone, Young made his next offering a little too good and Benny promptly knocked it over the center field wall for a grand slam. That shot would prove the decisive blow as Dennis Cook closed out the Cubs in the bottom of the inning for a 5-1 Met victory.

That game marked the initial win in the season that would see the Mets return to the World Series for the first time since the fabled run of 1986. Along the way, Benny would contribute another solid season, hitting a total of 15 HR’s and driving in 60 runs in part-time duty. He continued to shine during the post-season that year, crashing a walk-off 3-run shot off the Giants’ Aaron Fultz to win game 3 of the Divisional Series, and contributed during the subsequent NLCS against the Cardinals and the World Series against the Yankees where he drove in the winning run in the sole Met victory that fall.

After that, alas, the bloom was off the rose as Benny had a somewhat injury-plagued 2001 and saw his numbers dwindle along with his appearances in the lineup. That offseason saw him shipped to the Rockies where he toiled for a time with mediocre results, and then he was briefly with the Red Sox before leaving for the greener pastures of Japan’s Pacific League. There, he found glory with the Chiba Lotte Marines, reuniting with manager Bobby Valentine and helping to win a championship in 2005.

Agbayani may not have been among the greatest of Mets players, but found a measure of glory during his brief tenure that secured him a spot among the most beloved. Aloha, Benny.

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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 Should Consider Mike Baxter At Leadoff http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/mets-should-consider-mike-baxter-at-leadoff.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/mets-should-consider-mike-baxter-at-leadoff.html/#comments Tue, 09 Apr 2013 11:49:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=113839 Six games into the season and the Mets have used three different leadoff hitters. Evidently, there are answers to be found.

One who should get a longer look is Mike Baxter, who started Saturday and reached base three times on two hits and a walk.

BAXTER: The catch that saved Santana. (AP)

A lead off hitter needs to get on base, and if not then take the count as deep as possible to give the following hitters a chance to learn what they can of the pitcher. Baxter usually runs up the pitch count, and if he plays a full game can see as many as a dozen pitches. That’s an in-game scouting report to those following him in the order.

Little League coaches like to say, “a walk is as good as a hit,’’ and there are times it is the same in the major leagues.

“He takes a base on balls,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “If he was a genuine base-stealer, he’d be dangerous. You look up, and he’s got a .375 on-base. It seems like he’s on first base all of the time.’’

Actually, Baxter’s career on-base percentage is .360, but Collins’ point is well taken. It is an on-base percentage representative of a productive leadoff hitter, as good as they received from Jose Reyes.

The stereotypical leadoff hitter is a base stealer, the kind the Mets enjoyed with Reyes early in his career. However, Wade Boggs didn’t steal many bases and hit .321 batting leadoff in over 900 games in his career.

They all can’t be Rickey HendersonLou Brock or Maury Wills.

Although the game has changed and there isn’t an emphasis on base stealing as there once was, the basic fundamental of a lead off hitter has always been the same, which is get on base to set the table for the run-producers.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis was penciled in as the leadoff hitter going into spring training, but has a propensity for striking out. He is still very much a work in progress. Other candidates Collin Cowgill and Jordany Valdespin never had full seasons as a starters.

Cowgill has homered twice and if he continues to flash power he might be needed lower in the order. Valdespin is fast, but can be an out-of-control free swinger. He doesn’t figure to last long at that position, and as a defensive liability, probably won’t get many starting opportunities.

Baxter has a decent glove – Johan Santana wouldn’t have his no-hitter without him – but has never had a full time chance.

So, as long as Collins is searching for answers, Baxter is worthy of an opportunity.

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MMO Exclusive Interview: Mets Outfield Prospect Tillman Pugh http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/12/mmo-exclusive-interview-mets-outfield-prospect-tillman-pugh.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/12/mmo-exclusive-interview-mets-outfield-prospect-tillman-pugh.html/#comments Tue, 13 Dec 2011 14:45:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=67365  

As 22-year-old Tillman Pugh prepares for his third season as a minor leaguer in the Mets farm system. He is working hard with the realization of just how important this season will be for him. This is the year he will get the opportunity to open the season in a long season league. He should be the starting centerfielder for the Savannah Sand Gnats. He will have the opportunity to test himself and challenge himself over the course of a season that lasts well over five months. He could get to see what kind of numbers he can put up if he gets 450 to 500 AB’s in one year. He should do quite well. Tillman, 6’0″ 190 lbs., is fast and athletic enough to play centerfield. His game is speed and he represents something the Mets don’t have a lot of. A three-way threat, offense, defense, and on the base-paths. I caught up to Tillman the other day and he offered many insights and critiques of himself, and explained how his journey has gotten him to where he is today. Check out what Tillman had to say:

Petey:   We are talking to New York Mets outfield prospect Tillman Pugh. First of all congratulations Tillman on a very successful second professional season! I’m sure you would agree with me that things went a million times better for you this year than in 2010. I’m sure you would also agree with me that it’s too bad you didn’t get more AB’s this past season, haha! But you finished the year very strong, getting to play in front of the awesome fans in Brooklyn, and helping the Cyclones get to the New York Penn League Play-offs, playing CF for them every day down the stretch. It must have been an exciting year for you I would imagine. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers at MetsMerizedOnline.com. Are you back home in the Bay Area for the winter holidays? How are things?

Tillman:   Thank you for the congrats Peter, I had a lot of fun this past season. I am currently back home in my hometown of Oakland, California getting ready for this important upcoming year.

Petey:   When the Mets drafted you out of Sonoma State in the 15th round of the 2010 MLB Player Draft, how did you first hear about it, and what was that feeling like? Did you know the Mets were interested in drafting you? What round(s) were you thinking you might be taken in the draft?

Tillman:   When I was drafted by the Mets, I was at the time playing college summer-ball in Longview, Washington for the Cowlitz Black Bears. On the second day of draft day we were having practice, knowing that there was a possibility of me being picked up by a team, I had my phone on hand at all times during practice which was OK with my coach Bryson Leblanc, who was just as excited about this day as I was. I got a call from my Mets Bay area scout, Doug Thurman, who was making sure I was still interested in signing and that they still wanted to pick me up, and that he would keep me updated. The news of me being drafted came to me via a local Longview, Washington reporter, who actually gave me the wrong information, telling me that I was once again drafted by the Seattle Mariners. This was a shock to me because out of all the teams I was in contact with that year, the Mariners were not one of them. However, regardless of how shocked I was, I was still very excited. So for about 20-30 minutes I thought I was drafted by the Seattle Mariners again in the 16th round, which is where I was selected the previous year when I was in Junior College. Until I received another phone call from Doug Thurman who told me that the Mets’ selected me in the 15th round, which made a little more sense to me. After finally receiving the correct news pertaining to what team actually drafted me, I began calling my parents and close friends to tell them the good news. I had very little idea of what team was interested in picking me up. I honestly didn’t care who picked me up or what round I was going, I just wanted an opportunity to continue playing the game my grandfather (Papa) taught me to love.

Petey:   Was your grandfather your biggest influence to you as a young baseball player?

Tillman:   My grandfather Roger Lee Thomas, was a pitcher for the Tulsa T Town Clowns in the early 1940′s, taught me the game of baseball at a very early age and I have loved it ever since. He also was influential in helping Mike Norris, Oakland A’s pitcher, throw the screwball. However, there have been other influential people in my life who have inspired me to chase my dreams. Maybe too many to name. I will say that my parents have always been there for me, supporting me in more ways than one. My experience at De La Salle High School, where I transferred to my junior year after a less than obedient track record when it came to previous schools. And my love and faith in my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ have all been the reason for why I am who I am, and why I am still doing what I love.

Petey:   You had to struggle through some real adversity at the start of your professional career. In your first minor league AB, you were struck in the face with a pitch, and seriously injured. Not the kind of start you were looking for. Considering the thrill of of beginning your first professional season, it must have been extremely disappointing when that happened. How long did it take to work your way back? Were there any lingering effects? Do you feel you came back even stronger and more determined after something like that happened?

Tillman:   Getting hit in the face on the first pitch of my first professional at bat was not something I think anyone could have foreseen. Definitely a rough start to my career, but surprisingly not the first time I had been hit in the face with a pitch. When I was hit the first time, it was during my Oakland Babe Ruth Little League Championship game against a team, and pitcher I despised. Now mind you when I was hit back then the pitcher wasn’t throwing nearly as hard, so the damage was not comparable to what happened last year, but I was still messed up. All I wanted to do after getting hit that first time was get up, take my base, and get even, which I did. I ended up stealing second, stealing third, and stealing home, swollen cheeks and all. All I wanted to do was continue playing and win a championship, which we did not do that day. Now when I was hit last year I broke 4 bones and ultimately needed surgery to put in place 3 plates to stabilize those bones. It took me a total of 5 weeks before I got back playing full time again, which to me was far too long. The only effects that still lingers is the loss of feeling i have in my upper gums on the left side of my mouth, where the surgeon cut me open to repair the damage. I feel that getting hit like that made me not only a stronger baseball player, but a stronger person in general. Baseball is all I’ve ever wanted to do, and I’m not gonna let something like getting hit in the face hold me back from achieving my dreams.

Petey:   Wow, you are one tough hombre, my friend, just to add toughness to the list of things you do well. A big part of your game is your speed. You are fast enough to handle any outfield spot, steal bases, and hit at the top of the order. Do you have any times of yourself going home-to-first? Or first-to-third? Just curious. I would imagine trying to read pitchers to get a jump, and running on professional catchers, is a very challenging learning process. What are you working on specifically as far as base-running and stealing techniques these days? Who’s the most helpful coach you’ve worked with regarding your base-running?

Tillman:   The only times I have are of me running home to first which I was timed anywhere from a 3.9 – 4.2, 4.1 – 4.2 consistently. In terms of getting better on the base paths I am in the gym working on proper running techniques by looking at videos of fellow Oakland native, and greatest base stealer of all time, Rickey Henderson. I try to emulate what he was able to do in terms of mechanics right now. I am also working on having a more explosive first step and shaving off as many fractions of a second as I can. I would say I have had three coaches who helped me a lot on my base running. Mookie Wilson, Jack Voigt, and Frank Fultz.

Petey:   Do you consider yourself a centerfielder? Or an outfielder? How would you critique yourself defensively, what do you need to work on? On a scale of one-to-ten, one being a wet noodle, and ten being a bazooka, where would you rank your outfield throwing arm? Any one particular coach you have learned the most from as far as playing defense?

Tillman:   I consider myself an outfielder first and foremost, I take a lot of pride in my defense, which was something that I took for granted in high school. I say that I’m an outfielder first because I feel very comfortable in all three outfield positions, center being my favorite by far. Centerfield is my favorite simply because I get to run down a lot more balls in either gap and make plays on the run. I would say I am an ok defender who can make a lot of plays, but who still has a lot to learn in terms of being a true professional outfielder. I am always ready to keep my ears and eyes open, and mouth shut in order to learn more. I am always trying to improve on my initial reads and jumps, the routes I take to cut off balls in the gaps, and thinking ahead of each play knowing exactly where the ball needs to go in any circumstance. In terms of my arm I would say that I have a sufficient enough arm to get balls where they need to be in a timely fashion in order to get guys out. I would give my arm a 6 or 7 out of 10, strengthening my arm is another one of my priorities this off-season. Once again I can’t just give credit to one of my coaches because I have been helped by so many. The coaches who I have learned from in the outfield are Mookie Wilson, Jack Voigt, Frank Fultz, Bobby Malek and Luis Rojas.

Petey:   As a hitter, you strike me as a good contact swinger from the right-side, a line-drive hitter with occasional “pop.” Would you say that is accurate at this time? Can you add to that and give us your own idea as to what type of hitter you are now, and what type of hitter you may be down the road? Have the Mets been stressing any mechanical changes to your swing? Or has the coaching been more situational hitting, or a little of both? Has any hitting coach in the system been particularly helpful to you?

Tillman:   I would say for the most part that is pretty accurate, I feel I have a little more pop than what people may give me credit for, but I need to work on putting myself in better positions to take full advantage of my potential power. Everything I’m working on now in terms of my hitting is about getting started early, knowing what pitches I can handle best and what part of the hitting zone that is. I’m working on a better bat path to help me stay in the hitting zone longer to give myself a great opportunity to make solid contact, and using my back side more to really get more out of each swing I take. Once again I have had a lot of help in regards to my hitting, whether it’s mechanical, situational, or a more mental approach. So I have to thank not just one coach, but a few. George Greer, Luis Rivera, Bobby Malek, Lamar Johnson, Frank Fultz, Sandy Alomar, and Tom McCraw.

Petey:   To us die-hard Mets fans, we are very familiar with all of the coaches you named. Many of them have managed in the Mets system, and all have been around for a long time. It’s nice to know you guys are getting experienced coaching from some of the best. What was your favorite baseball team growing up? Your favorite player? Is there a major league player, past or present, that you think you are similar to in style? Or someone that you can see yourself playing like someday in the majors?

Tillman:   My favorite team growing up was the Oakland, A’s. I played Little League baseball in the shadows of the Coliseum everyday. Our field was literally a couple blocks away from the stadium. I had several favorite players growing up, but the main three who I idolized were Rickey Henderson, Barry Bonds, and of course Ken Griffey Jr. I’ve never really thought about who I’m similar to in style of play, I like to think that I watch many different players and their styles and kind of take things from their game that I like, and implement them into my own arsenal or style. Since I am an outfielder most of the guys I watch and take things from are centerfielders. So with that said I would say I admire watching Curtis Granderson, Torii Hunter, and Andrew McCutchen, to me these are three of the best centerfielders in the game. These are guys who can do it with great speed, power, defense, throwing ability, and poise.

Petey:   You are a true student of the game, that is very cool. What are your goals for next season? How will you prepare over the winter, and can you describe your workout regimen?

Tillman:   My goals for next season are to make a full season club, stay healthy all year long, get moved up a level, improve upon all facets of my game, win a championship, and most importantly have fun. I am preparing right now this winter with a workout routine that I feel will pay off exponentially in the long run in terms of staying healthy, being faster, stronger, and more explosive. I’m focusing a lot on mobility and stability training. Making sure that my core and lower body are strong is the focus for me this off season.

Petey:   Good solid goals Tillman, and all attainable. Pick one teammate, position player or pitcher, that really impressed you with his play this year at Kingsport, or at Brooklyn, and tell us what it was that made you take notice.

Tillman:   I would say the guy who impressed me the most in Kingsport and Brooklyn was T.J. Rivera. T.J. is just one of those ball players who isn’t flashy or all about himself, he is the definition of a team player. A guy who knows how to handle a bat and put the ball in play. A guy who I think can play any infield position and make any play hit his way, he could probably thrive in the outfield too if the organization wanted him too. It wasn’t just T.J.’s selfless attitude and the way he came to work everyday that impressed me, it was the fact that he signed as a free agent and was among all these guys who were drafted and may have signed for big money. He had this confidence, swagger if you will, that you could easily see and feed off of. It wasn’t arrogance or a sense of entitlement, it was a belief in himself knowing that he is one hell of a ball player and person.

Petey:   Awesome, hopefully I’ll get to have a chat with him one of these days. It’s been great chatting with you today Tillman, your answers have really been fascinating. To finish up, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie?

Tillman:   My favorite movie is a very tough question because I love so many different movies, however the one movie I can always watch and never get sick of has to be Remember the Titans. There are so many quotes from that movie I catch myself reciting on a regular basis. “Petey Jones, running-back. Theeee running-back y’all.”

Petey:    How bout your favorite musician or band?

Tillman:   Favorite musician is another tricky one for me, because if you know me at all, you know that I have a deep affinity towards all kinds of music. If I had to choose one band or musician I would have to choose Sade, not only because of the timeless hits she has put out over the years, but simply because my earliest memories of listening to music are those memories I have of my dad driving me to school every day in the morning, listening to Sade. To this day I hear a Sade song and regress back to my childhood days.

Petey:   Favorite food?

Tillman:   As for food, I love all food, but my go to comfort food is definitely Asian cuisine in general, and above all else, sushi.

Petey:   Hey thanks again Tillman for taking time out for this interview. The readers and staff at MMO really appreciate it! Have a very happy, and healthy holidays, and enjoy your time off this winter. We’ll see ya at spring training!

What a great guy and a driven competitor! I look for really big things from Tillman Pugh this year. We’ll keep a close watch on him coming out of spring training 2012. I hope you enjoyed the interview.

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A Look At “Unbreakable” Records: Rickey Henderson’s 1,406 Career Stolen Bases. http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/11/a-look-at-unbreakable-records-rickey-hendersons-1406-career-stolen-bases.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/11/a-look-at-unbreakable-records-rickey-hendersons-1406-career-stolen-bases.html/#comments Mon, 14 Nov 2011 19:24:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=65150

Rickey Henderson said it the only way Rickey would on the day he stole his 939th base, passing Lou Brock for first on the All-time list: “Today, I’m the greatest of all time.” Mind you, Lou Brock was standing right next to Henderson when he proclaimed that over the PA system, but that’s besides the point. That statement showed the amount of confidence that Rickey had in his baseball abilities. He was the only player that could turn a base on balls into a triple. When Henderson reached first base, everyone in the stadium knew he was stealing, he went anyways, and more often than not, was safe with a career stolen base percentage of 81%. The top-ten list for career stolen bases looks like this:

  1. Rickey Henderson: 1406
  2. Lou Brock: 938
  3. Billy Hamilton: 912
  4. Ty Cobb: 892
  5. Tim Raines: 808
  6. Vince Coleman: 752
  7. Eddie Collins: 745
  8. Max Carey: 738
  9. Honus Wagner: 722
  10. Arlie Latham: 707

The gap between the top base stealer and the 10th best base stealer is quite appalling; the 699 difference is half of Henderson’s total, which shows you how often he was stealing bases. For a player to match this mark in a 25-year career, they would have to average about 56 stolen bases per year.

The highest ranked active player on this list is Carl Crawford, sitting in 58th place with 427 career stolen bases. In order to reach Rickey Henderson’s record, he needs to swipe 979 more bases. Crawford is currently 30 years old, so let’s say for argument’s sake that he plays ten more years. He would need to average about 97 stolen bases per season. That ain’t happening.

When thinking of elite base stealers today, three names come to mind: Jose Reyes, Michael Bourn, and Jacoby Ellsbury. Reyes currently has 367 stolen bases at the age of 28; if he plays until he is 40, he would need to average 87 stolen bases per season for the next 12 years. With his hamstring issues, I doubt that will happen. Michael Bourn has been at the top of the list of base stealers over the last three years. At the age of 28, he has 229 stolen bases and would need to average 98 swipes per year until he turned 40 to approach the record. Ellsbury is 27 years old and currently has 173 steals, meaning he would need to average 95 steals a year until he is 40 to approach Henderson’s record.

The morale of the story is that this record is not getting broken any time soon, mostly because no player was able to swipe a bag when everybody knew he was going to like Rickey Henderson. The only way Henderson was able to do that was because of his self-confidence. Nowadays, managers handcuff a lot of base stealers and throw up a red light in certain situations. The game has changed since Rickey was running all over the place, and since the game has changed, his record will be safe for a while.

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Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose… Who Are You? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/05/jose-jose-jose-jose-who-are-you.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/05/jose-jose-jose-jose-who-are-you.html/#comments Thu, 13 May 2010 16:41:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=26864 So I sat down with the intention of writing an article about Jose Reyes.  I wanted to discuss how high my expectations where of him and how he never became the player everyone expected him too and probably never will.

I looked at some statistical analysis and I have to say….I was a bit surprised.  Jose hasn’t been nearly as disappointing as I expected. 

I think the main problem is that after his 2006 season everyone expected an improvement on .300-19-81 line, with 122 runs and 64 SB thrown in. An improvement on these lofty numbers, would be flirting with all-time Rickey Henderson type greatness.  I think most Mets fans (including myself) expected him to dip into Rickey Henderson territory in the coming years; unfortunately, he never has….and because of his mediocre OBP, probably never will! 

That is certainly a little disappointing, because it seems like that stellar 2006 season was more of a career year, than average production for Jose.  That being said, I think we would all be more than happy to get the .297-16-68 Reyes, for the next 10 years!

I can only speak for myself, but I think I bought in to all this Reyes hype.  I’m getting sick of every announcer and sports writer proclaiming Jose “the most exciting player in baseball.” 

He is a great leadoff hitter, and gold glove caliber SS.  That is it; and that is a lot!  He isn’t this dynamic game changing force that everyone claims he is. He isn’t the one guy that every team has to focus on to beat the Mets (especially with so many other holes right now).

He isn’t the most exciting player in baseball!  He certainly is ONE of the most exciting players, but let’s not set expectations that he will never reach (especially with a career .335 OBP).

He is very good, and very important to the success of this team, but he will never dabble in hall of fame territory.  He would have done it by now.  Players like Jose are in their physical prime at 25 not 30 (speedy, athletic, explosive).

I love Jose Reyes as much as any other Met right now.  But let’s not mince words my friends. 

We expected Rickey Henderson, but we got Brian Roberts….which isn’t so bad!

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And Leading Off For The Mets…? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/03/and-leading-off-for-the-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/03/and-leading-off-for-the-mets.html/#comments Mon, 29 Mar 2010 14:45:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=23384 We have just one more week of Spring Training left and the good news out of Mets camp is that Jose Reyes may soon appear in a minor league game perhaps as soon as today. Also, Omar Minaya said this weekend that we should not rule Jose Reyes out for Opening Day. As soon as Reyes gets back into his regimen I have a feeling we’re going to revisit a hot topic that was introduced at the start of Spring Training when Jerry Manuel pondered the idea of having Reyes bat third in the lineup.

Manuel has gone on record that he would like to bat Jose Reyes third, at least until Carlos Beltran makes his return to the Mets following his knee surgery. I’ve been on the fence about this one and maybe it’s due to my vision that Jose Reyes could someday become our modern day Rickey Henderson; a prototypical leadoff hitter that was a force at the plate and on the bases, a nightmare for opposing managers and pitchers.

I remember the debates many years back when baseball fans would argue who was a better leadoff hitter, Pete Rose or Rickey Henderson. The Rose fans cited his ability to get on base by either hit or double and his low strikeout totals. The Henderson backers took the obvious tract, his speed. Some say it’s a toss up. I lean towards Henderson.

Pete Rose had 746 doubles along with 135 triples 160 homers, 1314 RBI and 198 steals in 347 attempts. Rickey had 510 doubles, 66 triples, 297 homers, 1115 RBI and 1406 steals in 1741 attempts. Rose had a steal success rate of 57% and Rickey had a whopping 81%.

Now lets compare Reyes stats to date. Reyes has 162 doubles along with 73 triples 63 homers, 325 RBI and 301 steals in 376 attempts. An amazing success rate of 80%. He has, as of now, the potential to be a “Rickey Henderson” like leadoff hitter. Power, average, steals. That is a rare commodity to have in this game… a true rarity in the game’s long history.

So Jerry Manuel wants to bat him third, why? Lets hope it’s only because Carlos Beltran is out. Personally, I feel Manuel is doing this to try and get Reyes to the next level. Part of me understands, but a greater part of me wants to say, “Jerry, would you have moved Rickey Henderson to the third hole after his 1980 season when he stole 100 bases?” He only hit 9 homers that year. Far from what is usually expected from your number three hitter. Why wasn’t he persuaded to move down the order? To me it’s borderline lazy of Manuel to try and prod Reyes to be a better hitter this way. Reyes should WANT to be a better hitter anywhere in the lineup not just batting third. It’s not something you can force out of a player by simply relocating him on your clubhouse lineup card.

Of course this shows Manuel is trying even if his logic is misplaced. What’s to come of it? I’m not too sure this experiment will provide much in the end. Batting Reyes third will no doubt cut his steals in half. Why would you want to be caught stealing second while David Wright is standing there holding his…bat, ending any chance at a big inning?

Even with a success rate of 80% , it’s going to be on his mind. Will batting him third also come with losing the green light?

Right off the bat you’re taking away a key ingredient to the Mets, speed. The same speed that Minaya and Manuel deemed essential to winning ballgames in their new tailored park.

Having Reyes lead off and toy with the pitchers on the bases is what makes those pitchers tend to screw up. The result sometimes being a fat pitch for the guy at the plate. Part of David Wright’s power outage last year can be attributed to having nobody batting behind him and no Jose Reyes in front driving the pitchers nuts. Consider that part of Reyes’ game diminished if he’s batting third. There are no Sabermetric stats for that are there?

So what are we left with? Jose is going to drive in runs? Maybe. Angel Pagan and Luis Castillo will be the table-setters batting one and two hitters respectively. Pagan has shown signs of promise, but he has his own issues, too many for me to get into here. Castillo can be either what he was last year which was pretty good or he could revert to pre-2009 which was very bad. Who knows?

Either way we can’t predict what Reyes is going to do batting third. In the end, I say keep Reyes igniting the team and batting leadoff. He’s too dynamic a leadoff hitter. If Jerry wants to flex his leadership muscles with Reyes and illicit a greater performance out of him, support him as the team’ leadoff hitter, a premier one at that, period. The same way Rose and Henderson were supported by their managers in their prime.

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HOFers Henderson And Rice Key Figures In Mets History http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/07/hofers-henderson-and-rice-key-figures-in-mets-history.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/07/hofers-henderson-and-rice-key-figures-in-mets-history.html/#comments Sun, 26 Jul 2009 22:40:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=9250 Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice were inducted into the Hall of Fame today.  Henderson entered the Hall in his first year of eligibility.  He was the greatest leadoff hitter of all-time, setting the career record for stolen bases (1,406), leadoff home runs (81) and runs scored (2,295).  Rice waited until his fifteenth and final year of eligibility before he was enshrined in Cooperstown.  He was one of the most feared hitters in the American League during his 16-year tenure with the Red Sox.

Both players are well-deserving of baseball’s highest honor.  However, they were also key players in important Mets moments and without some of their accomplishments, the Mets history books might read quite differently.

Although Rickey Henderson played the majority of his productive seasons with the Oakland Athletics, he spent the 1999 season and part of the 2000 season with the Mets.  One can argue that 1999 was his last Rickey-like season in the majors, as he hit .315 with 89 runs scored, 12 HR and 37 stolen bases in only 121 games played.  He saved his best Mets moment for one of the biggest games in franchise history, the wild card play-in game in 1999 against the Cincinnati Reds.

The Mets had forced a one-game playoff with the Cincinnati Reds by erasing a two-game deficit with three games to play.  The Mets went into Cincinnati needing to win the play-in game to make their first postseason appearance in 11 years.  They needed to get off to a quick start to set the tone for the game.  Rickey Henderson made sure that happened.  He led off the game with a single and then scored on the ensuing two-run HR by Edgardo Alfonzo, giving Al Leiter a cushion before he even threw a pitch.

Henderson came through again in the fifth inning.  With the Mets holding on to a 3-0 lead, Rickey led off with a home run against accomplished train whistle impressionist Denny Neagle to give the Mets a four-run lead.  The Mets added another run in the sixth inning and Leiter did the rest, pitching a two-hit shutout as the Mets won 5-0 to clinch the wild card and advance to the NLDS in Arizona.

He continued his clutch performances in the NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Whereas the defining moment of that series was the Todd Pratt series-clinching home run against Matt Mantei, Rickey’s contributions put the Mets in position to win a number of those games.  In the four games of the series, Rickey hit .400 (6 for 15) with five runs scored and an astonishing six stolen bases.  The Braves were able to keep him off the bases in the NLCS, but that did not diminish his contributions to the team for helping them get as far as they did.

Jim Rice never played for the Mets, but he did play against them in the 1986 World Series.  Rice hit the Mets well in the Fall Classic, batting .333 in the seven games.  However, in the critical Game 6, Rice made two key outs that were overlooked once the ball went through Bill Buckner’s legs.

In the seventh inning, the Red Sox had already taken a 3-2 lead against Roger McDowell and had Rice on second base when catcher Rich Gedman stepped up to the plate.  Gedman was able to get a base hit to left field and Rice rounded third attempting to score an insurance run.  However, Mookie Wilson played the hero for the first time in the game by throwing out Rice at the plate, keeping the Mets down by only one run.  They were able to tie the score in the eighth inning and send the game into the memorable tenth inning, which may never have happened had Mookie not thrown out Rice at home.

In the tenth inning, the Red Sox had once again taken the lead on the Mets.  However, this time it was a two-run lead.  They had put runners on first and second when Rice came up to hit.  Once again, Rice failed to help his team when he flied out to rightfielder Lee Mazzilli, stranding both runners.  We all know what happened in the bottom of the tenth inning.  How different would that inning have played out if Rice would have come through in the top of the inning?

Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice.  The outspoken leadoff hitter and the quiet slugger.  Although they were different off the field, they now share the honor of being inducted together into the hallowed Baseball Hall of Fame.  For Mets fans, they share something else.  They were both key components in some of the most special games in franchise history.  Thanks for the memories and congratulations to both of you on your well-deserved induction into the Hall of Fame.

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