Mets Merized Online » Ryan Church Mon, 08 Feb 2016 12:00:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Trading with the Enemy Sun, 15 Dec 2013 04:10:52 +0000 Trading with the enemy is pretty rare – and when I mean the enemy, I’m referring to trading within the division – and the Yankees.  You don’t want to be on the bad end of a trade and be burned for years to come when trading with your chief rivals.

So what trades have the Mets made with the Enemy over the last 15 years?  It’s only happened 19 times and remarkably, it hasn’t happened in four years…

February 6, 1998 – Robert Stratton, A.J. Burnett, and Jesus Sanchez were traded to the Marlins for Al Leiter and Ralph Millard.

March 20, 1998Brandon Villafuerte and a Player to be named later (Cesar Crespo) were traded to the Marlins for Robert Stratton.

May 22, 1998 – Geoff Goetz, Preston Wilson, and Ed Yarnall were traded to the Marlins for Mike Piazza.

November 20, 1998Jorge Fabregas was traded to the Marlins for Oscar Henriquez.

July 23, 2001Todd Pratt was traded to the Phillies for Gary Bennett.

July 27, 2001Dennis Cook and Turk Wendell were traded to the Phillies for Adam Walker and Bruce Chen.

robin-ventura blackDecember 7, 2001Robin Ventura was traded to the Yankees for David Justice.

March 24, 2002Lou Collier was traded to the Expos for Jason Bay and Jimmy Serrano

April 5, 2002Bruce Chen, Luis Figueroa, Dickey Gonzalez, and a PTBNL (Saul Rivera) were traded to the Expos for Phil Seibel, Scott Strickland, and Matt Watson.

July 16, 2003Armando Benitez was traded to the Yankees for Ryan Biconda, Jason Anderson, and Anderson Garcia.

December 3, 2004Mike Stanton was traded to the Yankees for Felix Heredia.

November 24, 2005 – Grant Psomas, Mike Jacobs, and Yusmeiro Petit were traded to the Marlins for Carlos Delgado and cash.

gallery_loducaDecember 5, 2005 – Dante Brinkley and Gaby Hernandez were traded to the Marlins for Paul Lo Duca.

November 20, 2006Matt Lindstrom and Henry Owens were traded to the Marlins for Adam Bostick and Jason Vargas.

August 6, 2007 – Player to be named later to the Marlins for Chad Hermansen. (Baseball Reference does not reflect if the PTBNL was later sent).

November 30, 2007Lastings Milledge was traded to the Nationals for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider.

August 17, 2008 – PTBNL (Anderson Hernandez) was traded to the Nationals for Luis Ayala.

July 10, 2009Ryan Church was traded to the Braves for Jeff Francoeur.

August 6, 2009  - Greg Veloz was traded to the Nationals for Anderson Hernandez.

Presented By Diehards

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Prima Donnas and Clubhouse Chemistry: A Met Perspective Sat, 18 May 2013 13:00:17 +0000 If Shakespeare were to write a play about the state of the Mets these days, it would probably be titled “Much Ado About Valdespin” as that’s about all anyone has to talk about outside of the largely dismal performance of the team between the lines. Inasmuch as the role young number 1 plays on the team is largely limited to that of utility player/pinch hitter, I wonder if the fuss being kicked up over his various perceived misbehaviors is not out of proportion to the relative importance he has to the team. Not that he is without talent-we all are tantalized by his speed, occasional power, and penchant for heroics, but the holes in his game are gaping enough to justify only judicious use of his presence in the lineup. Add in to this equation the somewhat larger-than-life aspects of his personality and you have a recipe for clubhouse controversy as testified to by the recent statement by seasoned veteran LaTroy Hawkins.

jeff kentSo, just how important is the ingredient of clubhouse chemistry to the relative success of a team? My feeling is that the degree of significance is in opposite proportion to the on-field success of the player involved. One former Met whose flinty personality rubbed people the wrong way everywhere he played was Jeff Kent, yet his undeniable offensive prowess (in more ways than one, I guess) led to a HOF-caliber career which included several seasons in the same lineup as Barry Bonds, no paragon of social niceties himself. In retrospect, the Mets trade of Kent for Carlos Baerga was a total clunker as Kent’s level of production exploded to All-Star level just as Baerga’s went into the tank. But at the time, Baerga was an All-Star who was younger than Kent and who carried none of the baggage associated with Kent, whose primary offense in a Met uniform was refusing to participate in a rookie ritual that involved wearing a ridiculous outfit for a team trip.

Team management saw the opportunity to swap a player they saw as having a somewhat negative effect on team harmony for a proven performer and they went for it. History has shown this to be one in a litany of bad trades that Met fans would just as soon forget, but you can’t argue with the logic at the time.  Add to this the fact that Indians management saw nothing wrong with spinning Kent off in the trade that landed him in San Francisco (where stardom followed) and you can’t really jump on poor Joe McIvaine’s case too hard. Once in Giant livery, Kent reeled off a string of tremendous seasons that culminated in arguably one of the greatest careers of any second baseman in MLB history. But he was still regarded as a major-league prick. I guess most teams would have put up with that aspect of his game as long as the rest of it was intact.

Another interesting chapter in the DSM of Metdom involved one Randall K. Myers and wunderkind batsman Gregg Jefferies. Jefferies, as you undoubtedly recall, was perhaps the most heralded Mets hitting prospect ever outside of Darryl Strawberry. Fans were regaled with tales of his incredible switch-hitting talents, honed through a variety of batting drills such as the semi-weird “swinging underwater in a pool” routine that the sports press of the time delighted in recounting. Upon his arrival, young Gregg looked to be the real thing, ripping off an impressive month at the end of the 1988 season and challenging the team to find a way to fit him into the same infield as Howard Johnson, the incumbent at Jefferies preferred position of third base.

gregg jefferiesAfter shifting the rookie across the diamond to second, the team received satisfactory offensive performance from him over the next two seasons, including a league leading 40 doubles in 1990. But prior to that campaign, the team had seen fit to trade Myers, a fireballing lefty reliever, to the Reds for his veteran counterpart and future Mets Hall-of-Famer John Franco. Not a terrible swap in retrospect, but at the time many wondered why the Mets would exchange a talent of Myers’ ilk for a player two years older who relied primarily on a deceptive change-up as an out pitch. The role of closer was one that most felt was better served by the blazer of young Randall K., and so inquiries as to the motivation of management with respect to the trade were made.

Revelations were forthcoming to the effect that the clubhouse friction between Myers and Jefferies was such that it was deemed best for all concerned to “keep ‘em separated,” to borrow a song lyric. Jefferies had been noted as being especially fussy about his bats and other equipment, and had garnered a reputation as a bit of a prima donna due to his helmet flinging episodes following strikeouts. Following reports that Myers had conspired with fellow bullpen denizen Roger McDowell to saw several of Jefferies bats in half and perhaps bring the youngster down a peg or two, it was made clear that the front office preferred to remove elements of controversy from the clubhouse. The element chosen was the self-styled cowabunga warrior Myers, a change that management hoped would help the more sensitive Jefferies flourish.  He did, ultimately, making the All-Star team and challenging for a batting title in 1993-for the St. Louis Cardinals. Prior to that, he had been part of the trade package put together to bring Bret Saberhagen to New York after his various peccadilloes had become less bearable in light of his merely competent level of production.

Another notorious bête noire of Met clubhouse history was former first-rounder Lastings Milledge whose escapades are still relatively fresh in the mind of the average Met fan. Now consigned to showing up opponents and teammates in Japan, the young Mr. Milledge arrived in 2006 with a reputation for trouble already established but with his talent still largely a promise of things to come. After two seasons in the Orange and Blue, he was sent packing to Washington for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider, worthy enough role players but lacking any star power of the type hinted at by some aspects of Milledge’s game.  When his potential for stardom failed to materialize after that, he drifted to Pittsburgh, then on to the south side of Chicago before opting for the Far East. Still only 28, he may have finally found himself as a player with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. One can only hope that he has overcome the habits that lead to the posting of the infamous “Know Your Place, Rook” sign in his locker by Met teammate Billy Wagner.

A more unusual aspect of the “player as clubhouse distraction” syndrome was noted during the 2004 and 2005 seasons when Anna Benson, the wife of the contrastingly low-key Met pitcher Kris Benson, arrived on the scene.  The combination of Mrs. Benson’s startlingly frank pronouncements on virtually everything with behavior such as appearing as a va-va-voom version of “Mrs. Claus” at the Met annual Christmas charity function combined to lead to a trade with Baltimore sending her husband out of town after a season and a half. That the male Benson’s apparent talent level was that of an eminently replaceable back-of-rotation starter probably contributed to his exit as well. Had he displayed more in the way of dominant pitching skills, the team’s tolerance for the more “colorful” aspects of his spouse’s persona might have been greater.

So, what of the Mets’ current bad boy? I expect that as long as whatever contributions he makes on the field outweigh the perceived negative effect of his extra-curricular antics, he will stick around. At this point, the team hasn’t done a lot to enhance his trade value anyway.  Considering the organization’s history though, I imagine that if circumstances conspire to raise his baseball value in the estimation of any general manager not named Alderson, he could be on his way somewhere in the relatively near future. Maybe someone will be enticed to take him for a “’Spin?”

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Wright Questionable For Tonight, But Not As Questionable As Collins’ Recent Moves Tue, 30 Apr 2013 19:14:15 +0000 wrightThe bad news about the Mets keeps getting worse. David Wright, who was supposed to rest his stiff neck last night, was used as a pinch-hitter and now he’s questionable for tonight’s game at Miami,

While it is conjecture Wright might have done something to aggravate his condition, the question can’t help be asked. Seriously, is winning a game in April worth losing Wright for a period of time? That’s the perception today and considering the Mets’ history in handling injuries, it is warranted.

The Mets played fast and loose with injuries to Carlos BeltranRyan ChurchPedro MartinezJohan Santana and Wright in the past several times only to have it come back to bite them. Perhaps I am being an alarmist, but following the Mets does that to a person.

“I would say it’s better now than it was when I woke up this morning, which is a good thing,’’ Wright told reporters in Miami after the Mets’ 15-inning loss to the Marlins. “So I think the treatment that I got on it during the day helped and was beneficial. I’ll wake up tomorrow and see how it feels. I’d like to play as soon as possible, so we’ll see.’’

That the Mets used Wright when they didn’t have to only indicates the panic mode the team – and manager Terry Collins? – must be in with their losing streak now at five.

The Mets’ heretofore lousy bullpen blew two leads last night. Sure, it is semantics to say Shaun Marcum is a reliever, but he was used in that role. First Bobby Parnell, who had been the Mets’ only reliable reliever, and then Marcum.

Blame the pen if you want, but the Mets went 1-for-18 with runners in scoring position and stranded 26 runners.

Compounding matters, the Mets not only wasted numerous opportunities to win the game, but squandered a Matt Harvey outing, one in which he threw 121 pitches to boot.

The Mets can’t afford to waste games pitched by Harvey and Jon Niese, but that’s what they’ve done the last two times through the rotation with them, winning only Harvey’s no-decision last Wednesday against the Dodgers.

While not as bad as it was for a month stretch last summer, the Mets’ offense is in tatters.

Ike Davis struck out three more times last night and is on pace to fan 196 times this season. That’s more than once a game. He has more strikeouts (29) than walks (12) and hits (13) combined, and there are no signs of him breaking out of his funk.

* Speaking of funks, after hitting over .300 for most of April, Daniel Murphy is on a 5-for-31 slide (.161 average with only one walk in that span).

* Wright’s on-base percentage is up, but needs to produce more than two homers and 19 RBI.

* Overall, the Mets have scored just ten runs in their last five games, and on the season have scored four or fewer runs in 13 of 25 games. They are averaging 8.5 strikeouts per game.

Thoughts from Joe D.

I guess a five game losing streak is a great time to clear the air. If not now, then when? Is it too early? Sure it’s early. but what does that have to do with some of the bad decisions we’ve been getting recently from Terry Collins? Is there a stat that shows Collins is a better strategist in July than he is in April? Do managers have slumps like players? Or are they just good or God Awful? Excuse me for going with the latter in Terry’s case. Sorry, Skip…

To begin, I think the concept of of bringing in a defensive replacement is lost on him. He substituted Collin Cowgill for Juan Lagares on Sunday and then got burned when Cowgill got a late break, a bad read, and watched a Ryan Howard shot sail over his head for a two-run double. He went with Cowgill again last night against the Marlins and left the better defender Lagares on the bench. On cue, Cowgill misplayed another flyball that translated into a Marlins win come-from-behind win.

And what’s the fascination with career utility outfielder Mike Baxter who has now made defensive miscues in three consecutive games?

Does he know that that the goal of a defensive replacement is to put in the player best equipped to bump your defense and not one who does the complete opposite?

Is someone telling him he HAS to play Cowgill and Baxter? Is it a clause written into their contracts? Because I don’t quite get the fascination – especially for Cowgill. He should be the next outfielder the team cuts and has no use to this team at all - offensively and defensively.

Yesterday, I blasted Collins for how he mishandles the bullpen, is too quick with the hook on starting pitching and then has the nerve to complain about them not going deep during his press conference. Both Jon Niese and Shaun Marcum admitted they wanted to stay in the game and had plenty left in the tank.

This is what happens when you’re a lame duck manager. It’s like trying to get work done while your boss looks over your shoulder. You make more mistakes, you slip up in areas you were once good at, you lose focus. Collins used to have a defender in me, but he looks like a dead man walking to me now.

terry collins 2

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How It All Went Wrong For Lastings Milledge Sun, 07 Apr 2013 12:53:41 +0000 lastings milledge 2I will remember it as if I saw it yesterday for the first time.

A sheet of notebook paper, with the words, “Know your place, Rook … signed, your teammates,” was taped over Lastings Milledge’s locker in the Mets’ clubhouse in old RFK Stadium. This, in the late summer in 2006.

The Mets were en route to the playoffs and a veteran laden team was rubbed the wrong way by Milledge’s brashness and arrogance. Then-manager Willie Randolph – who reprimanded Milledge several times that summer – ripped down the sign, but knew he hadn’t ripped away the problem.

The Mets labeled it a misunderstanding, and Randolph called Lastings Milledge “a good kid,’’ but this clearly was not a misunderstanding with a teammate. It was the accumulation of several incidents that rankled several teammates.

Milledge burst upon the Mets, hitting over .300, was dazzling on the bases and showed a strong arm. He was going to be the next “fill in the blank.’’ Willie Mays? Roberto Clemente?

However, things quickly cooled after his first career homer, when on his way to the outfield he high-fived fans down the right field line in Shea Stadium. Randolph sensed how the Giants seethed in their dugout, especially since he saw some of his own players do the same.

Randolph reprimanded Milledge on the unwritten laws in baseball, but it didn’t take. There were ground balls he didn’t run out and times he didn’t hustle in the outfield. He was flash with the jewelry swinging wildly on the field, but in the clubhouse he often sat buried in his locker wearing headphones or playing a video game.

milledge 3He came off as sullen and angry and clearly couldn’t be bothered by getting to know his teammates. Or, a baseball legend for that matter. During spring training then-GM Omar Minaya brought Milledge to the Nationals dugout to meet Frank Robinson, but Milledge was came off as being in-different.

Finally, he arrived in the clubhouse in Philadelphia an hour before a day game. Although it was early, the veterans made it in on time. David Wright had enough when Milledge strolled in with sunglasses and an iPod as if he owned the place and told him this wasn’t acceptable.

Wright wouldn’t belabor the issue Opening Day, only managing to say “seniority is big in this game,’’ which is the politically-correct translation for Milledge hadn’t earned his stripes.

Milledge popped into my consciousness today when I learned it was his 28th birthday, an age when he should be in the prime of his career. Instead, Milledge is one of hundreds of baseball prospects given the label of “can’t miss, but eventually did.’’

Seven years ago – the career lifetime of a select few – the Mets had three prized outfield prospects in Milledge, Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez. One by one they arrived, fizzled to the point of exasperation and were traded. Not one of them hustled like journeyman outfielder Collin Cowgill.

After turning down several proposals for Manny Ramirez, the Mets eventually traded Milledge to Washington as part of a trade that brought Ryan Church – he of the concussion fiasco – and catcher Brian Schneider. Milledge had his coffee to go with Washington, then Pittsburgh and finally the White Sox before heading to Japan. Milledge had his head-scratching moments in each place, but basically stopped hitting.

At 28, Milledge is still young. It’s about discipline in Japan and if Milledge comes back with a changed attitude perhaps he’ll get another chance. It’s a long way to Japan, and perhaps an even longer route back to the major leagues.

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Are Mets Becoming The Forgotten Stepchild? Thu, 25 Mar 2010 20:30:43 +0000 Folks, I don’t live in New York anymore, and haven’t since 1992.  Sure, I can get all my Mets news online and I can watch and listen to games online or on cable.  But nothing beats living there–the talk, the camaraderie, the print newspapers that you can read with two hands and two eyes (unless you’re Muno from Yo Gabba Gabba).

So sometimes I feel disconnected and rely on friends or my dad to fill me in on things.  I also noticed that anyone outside of New York thinks of the Yankees first and the Mets as an after-thought.  I realize it’s been this way for decades, but I don’t think I realized it as much until I left New York.

Lately, too, it’s been worse than ever.  Since the Mets’ two collapses in 2007 and 2008, respectively, and since the injury plague of 2009, it’s almost like the Mets have become a joke to everyone else’s fans.

I remember going to my gym here in Nashville last year, and my trainer introducing me to another member and former Cincinnati Reds pitcher.  At that point it was like May and the Mets were not looking good (before all the injuries hit).  So I asked this guy if he could tell me what was wrong with the Mets.  Instead of offering an answer, he just kind of chuckled.  I don’t know if that’s because he didn’t know the answer, or because, well, the Mets have become the Phillies’ and Yankees’ punching bag.

This week I was e-mailing with a fellow colleague in the music business, and we were talking about the NL East.  I’m a Mets fan, he’s a Braves fan.  But the first thing he says when I tell him I’m a Mets fan is this…”Ha, Jeff Francouer.”  That’s right, “ha.” Of course, I can counter with “Ha, Ryan Church.”

On the other hand, another music writer I know who is an avid baseball fan said he thinks the Mets have a “scary” lineup, and he meant that in a positive way.

Still, the Mets seem to get no love in the national press, and with the Yankees winning it all and the Phillies winning it all the year before, we continue to wallow in red-headed-step-child-edness.  Or something.  Boy, do we ever need to start winning again and reverse this trend.  I hope it’s before my two year old boy starts rooting for the team with me.

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Jeff Francoeur Leads The Charge Fri, 26 Feb 2010 17:47:52 +0000

When the Mets traded Ryan Church for 25 year old left fielder Jeff Francoeur, the Braves as well as every saber-head in the universe said the Mets got hosed. Lately, they don’t chirp as loudly as they once did. I think they are lying in wait for one false move by Francoeur so they could jump out and proclaim, “You see! I told you so!”. I also believe they have a long wait ahead of them.

I never really understood why all that animosity that was hurled his way. At the time it was just a swap of two average players who needed a change of scenery, but the reaction was as if the Mets traded Fernando Martinez and Jenrry Mejia for Francoeur instead of Ryan Church, who incidentally was subsequently released by the Braves. Could you even imagine the Mets releasing Jeff Francoeur now?

The former first round pick immediately showed up and added a much needed offensive jolt to the lineup and a positive determination that had been missing for most of the 2009 season. In 75 games he batted .311 while collecting 32 extra-base hits and finishing with a .498 slugging percentage. It was enough to silence his detractors for the time being, but they still shrug their shoulders and say “small sample size” under their breaths.

Francoeur spent his offseason dedicated to improving as a hitter and becoming a more dominant run producer. He spent some time with Howard Johnson this winter where they focused mainly on pitch recognition and improving his patience at the plate.

All of that aside, Francoeur has been one of the most outspoken and vocal Mets this offseason. He believes in this Mets team… and he wants all of us to believe in them too.

Yesterday, Francoeur told reporters that he is “sick and tired of 2009″ and he believes the Mets have as much of a chance of going to the post season as the New York Yankees.   

“At this point, who cares what happened last year? Even though the Yankees, they won it, but it really doesn’t matter at this point. It’s a new season. Besides Carlos Beltran, you look at everyone is healthy that is supposed to be healthy, and that is huge. We have no excuses now. We’ve got everybody we need here. We’ve got one more guy to get back hopefully in May, and if we can’t win with that, then it’s our fault.”

We need more of that kind of attitude around here. We need that kind of swagger. 

Francoeur has had a positive effect on David Wright who suddenly ditched his choir boy image and now looks and talks a lot like his old friend Paul LoDuca (without the crazy eyes). There are other good reasons to be encouraged this season.

  • Jason Bay was lauded by former Met Dave Magadan as a huge presence in the Red Sox clubhouse who motivated everyone on the team. 
  • Johan Santana seems determined to make both Oliver Perez and Jose Reyes stand up and deliver the best performances of their careers this season.
  • Mike Pelfrey is leaner and oh is he ever so meaner too. Pelf is a man on a mission. 
  • I believe Barajas and Blanco will get the most out of our pitching staff after enduring a season where Omir and Schneider got the worst out of them.

Sometimes all you need is one guy to stand up and deliver a solid performance and back it up with a confident swagger. According to all the experts, Francoeur was a zero and someone who would make the Mets worse and not better. They were all wrong. Jeff Francoeur almost immediately began changing the culture of the Mets clubhouse from the day he first got there. He still is.

I’m sure people thought that Ron Swoboda in ’69 and Tug McGraw in ’73 were crazy too. But that’s the thing about swagger… It’s the confidence to believe in yourself even when nobody else does. Soon your teammates start believing in you too, and before you know it they start to believe in themselves as well. We’ve seen it before Mets fans.

Aren’t you sick and tired of 2009 too? Aren’t you sick and tired of hearing and reading how bad we are? Or how terrible out prospects are? Or what a terrible offseason we had? 

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to start believing again.

]]> 0 Pirates Looking to Sign Ryan Church? Sat, 09 Jan 2010 14:31:42 +0000 Djean Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette believes that the Pirates are interested in signing right fielder Ryan Church.

Church, 31, hit .273 with four home runs and 40 RBI’s while splitting time as a member of both the Mets and Braves last season.

This news is somewhat surprising as it was rumored for weeks that the Pirates were looking to sign another free agent outfielder by the name of Rick Ankiel.

However, as Kovacevic notes that Ankiel’s agent, Scott Boras, is still touting his client as a starting outfielder.

Last season, Ankiel hit for a dismal .231 average and hit only 11 home runs, which is nearly half the amount he hit in 2008 (25).

While Ankiel may have a more powerful bat, the Pirates do not want to put themselves in a position of having to block one of their top prospects, Jose Tabata, when he gets called up from the minor leagues.

I think Ryan Church would be a solid pickup for any team, especially for the role of a reserve outfielder. He brings to the table a strong arm for the outfield and a bat that could potentially hit 20 home runs.

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In Defense Of Jeff Francoeur Sun, 12 Jul 2009 00:55:14 +0000 It’s amazing how wide ranging the opinions have been on the trade that sent Ryan Church to Atlanta for Jeff Francoeur on Friday.

It looks likes this trade has the fan base far more divided than the Lastings Milledge trade, with both sides either loving it or hating it.

I took a spin around a few Braves sites, just to see what they were saying. Here is some of what I found:

Another stupid trade. Frenchy is a much better player than Church is. They could have got more in return than Church and they gave the Mets money like they needed it. Another front office blunder. I hope they don’t ever win another game and the Mets flourish.

Francoeur has 235 more hits than Ryan Church in one fewer season in the big leagues .. He has significantly more runs batted in, more triples, more doubles, more of everything that counts ..

Picture Frenchy trying to hit a homer at Citi Field, LOL Someone tell the Mets no-givsies-backsies.

Mostly, they were split down the middle, but those that hated the trade were more ticked off that he went to the Mets rather than a team outside the division.

Most needlessly poor move I’ve ever seen by a GM in baseball. Honestly, if you must trade him (which I’m certainly not convinced is the case), you don’t trade him to the Mets. Give him to the Royals for a bag of balls and bats. Not the Mets. Not ever. Frank Wren has handled his GM duties regarding team chemistry with all the grace and care of a grenade in a phone booth. It’s becoming hard to watch. The guy is a putz. Period.

I don’t think this trade merits all the doomsday scenarios that I’ve read, especially among many of my Mets friends and fellow Mets bloggers. Please let me explain…

We gave up Ryan Church who couldn’t maintain an everyday job with the Washington Nationals. After the Mets got him, we saw one amazing month in 1 1/2 seasons. In that time, the Mets also came to the conclusion that Church was not an everyday player, and he only played in two-thirds of the team’s games this season. He never hit more than 15 homeruns in his career and he was on pace to hit 4 homeruns this season. I loved his defense and he had a great arm, but he was clearly out of favor with the organization. He was a marked man and his days were numbered. Everybody knew that.

I’m sure the Mets tried to get the most that they could for Church. But let’s be real… We weren’t going to get Carlos Lee or Alex Rios for him. We weren’t going to get Matt Holliday or Roy Halladay for him either. The best the Mets could hope for is acquiring another rightfielder who might have a chance to become a decent everyday player in the future. And that’s exactly what they got.

There is no reason to over analyze all the anagrams, and agonize like it’s the end of the world.

Regardless of what you may have heard or read, Jeff Francoeur is a low risk/high reward type player.

Also, lets not forget that Omar Minaya has developed a penchant for finding those diamonds in the rough; John Maine, Duaner Sanchez (before the car accident), Xavier Nady, Omir Santos, etc.

At the age of 24, Francoeur already had two 100 RBI seasons under his belt coming into this season, compared to zero for Ryan Church. Church had a career high 70 RBI in 2007, and never had more than 50 in any other season.

As Gary Cohen pointed out last night, baserunners are so aware of his powerful arm, that they no longer even test him. You won’t see many runners digging for third base like you did against Ryan Church twice in the the recently completed Dodgers series. (Both of Church’s throws were off line and late.)

Since his rookie year in 2005, the former Braves first-rounder leads the major leagues in outfield assists with 66. There are none better. While some may argue that Ryan Church gives you gold glove caliber type defense, Jeff Francoeur is the only one of the two that actually won a gold glove. 

Francoeur has had an interesting start to his career…

In his first game with Atlanta, Francoeur made his debut a memorable one when he launched a dramatic 8th inning 3-run homer, his first Major League hit.

In 2006, Francoeur hit .260 with 29 homers and 103 RBIs in his first full season in the majors. He also played in all 162 games, and in May of that season he hit a walk-off grand slam against the Washington Nationals.

In 2007, Francoeur batted .293 with 19 homers and 105 RBIs. He led the league in outfield assists with 19 and earned his first Gold Glove. Francoeur also played in all 162 games for the second consecutive season.

In 2008, Francoeur was mired in a 4 week long slump that saw his batting average drop to .234, and the Braves responded by demoting him to the minor leagues. Francoeur was devastated and embarrassed and he went public with his feelings and criticized the organization, a move that didn’t sit well with GM Frank Wren and manager Bobby Cox. The Jeff Francoeur who thrilled Braves fans for 2 1/2 seasons would never be seen again.

This winter, Francoeur drew the ire of the organization when in an attempt to correct his swing went to Texas to work with Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. All Francoeur wanted to do was improve as a hitter, and he had it in his head that the Braves had given up on him. In any event and whatever the reason, it was the last straw.

If there was ever a more convincing case of a player that needed a change of scenery and a fresh start this is it.

We are talking about a young player who has already tasted a lot of success before the age of 25, and yet he is very willing to better himself even seeking out the help of another team’s hitting coach. I gotta tell you, that says a lot about a guy. I’m with Omar on this one…

I like Ryan Church, but I like Francoeur’s potential a heck of a lot better.

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Meet The Newest Met: Jeff Francoeur Sat, 11 Jul 2009 17:52:00 +0000

As you’re all well aware, Jeff Francoeur will be the Mets new everyday rightfielder.  The reaction on this site and all over the blogosphere has been quite vocal, to say the least.  I have noticed a share of fans panning the deal, despite the fact that Francoeur has yet to play his first game in a Mets uniform.  I will not attempt to compare Ryan Church to Francoeur in this post.  I will leave that to other writers on this site.  Instead, I will attempt to give you a different perspective on Jeff Francoeur and hope that you will accept him as your new rightfielder.  After all, the name on the front of his jersey now says “Mets”, so we should support him as a member of our team.

In New York, in addition to getting the job done, fans demand a hard worker on the field day in and day out.  This is why fans loved players such as Ty Wigginton.  He never put up All-Star caliber numbers, but he was a hard-nosed player who did the little things to help the team win.  From bowling over a catcher while attempting to score a run to challenging the outfielders by taking the extra base, Wigginton was loved by Mets fans during his short stay in New York.  His best season for New York came in 2003 when he led the team in games played with 156.  Wiggy batted .255 with 11 HR, 71 RBI and 73 runs scored.  He also struck out 124 times while drawing only 46 bases on balls.

Wigginton’s 2003 season was eerily similar to Francoeur’s season in 2008, a year in which he was briefly sent down to the minors by the Braves.  Francoeur hit .239 last season, with the same 11 HR and 71 RBI Wigginton had in 2003, while playing in 155 games.  Frenchy scored 70 runs while striking out 111 times and drawing 39 walks.  By the way, Francoeur is now 25.  How old was Wigginton during his 2003 season?  You guessed it – 25.

The fans who loved Wigginton surely weren’t applauding his stats, as they were less than spectacular.  They were able to see his grit and determination to help the team win by any means necessary, even if his contributions did not show up in the boxscore.  Francoeur can be that same type of player.  He’s certainly showed his durability by playing in all 162 games twice in his career.  No one is better at throwing out runners trying to take an extra base, as he has more outfield assists than anyone else in baseball since he made his debut in 2005.  If he fails to drive in a run while batting, he will go all out to prevent the opposing team from adding a run with his strong and accurate arm.

Francoeur has also made great strides to cut down on his strikeouts.  Although he is still a free swinger, he is now making much better contact, as evidenced by his decreasing strikeout totals.  Since his first full season in 2006, he has reduced his strikeout totals from 132 to 129 to 111 last season.  This year, he has only whiffed a total of 46 times in 304 at-bats.  Although he is only hitting .250, the lack of strikeouts suggest that he is more likely to raise his average than lower it.  After all, you can’t get a base hit by striking out.  You can only raise your average by making contact, which is something Francoeur is certainly making more of this year.

Mets fans, I know some of you loved Ryan Church.  I also know some of you are claiming that this is just a trade for the sake of making a trade.  You say the Mets could have gotten more than Jeff Francoeur and you might be correct.  However, this is what I say.  Did any of you really think Ryan Church was going to be a permanent fixture in right field?  Francoeur certainly has more of a chance than Church to be more than just a stopgap player in right.  Also, the Mets did not have to lose any of their minor league trading chips to acquire Francoeur.  If Omar is going to continue his attempt to make this team better before the trade deadline, he’s going to need those minor leaguers in order to get major league talent in return.  A potential trade suitor is not going to take Ryan Church for one of their high-salaried players that they’re willing to deal.  They will take cheaper minor leaguers that they can control for a longer period of time, players with the potential to help the team for more years than a Ryan Church could.  If he so chooses, Omar can now use some of those minor leaguers that weren’t used to acquire Francoeur and turn them into an Alex Rios or a quality starting pitcher.

Before panning this trade, take a look at all the variables in the equation.  As with all trades, this could be a bust or a godsend for the Mets.  At the very least, give Francoeur a chance.  If you’re going to Citi Field tonight, cheer him on when he comes to bat.  You never know.  He might give you plenty of reasons to cheer for him in the future.

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Mets Trade Church For Jeff Francoeur Sat, 11 Jul 2009 00:28:58 +0000

Moments ago in a press conference, Mets general manager Omar Minaya announced that they have traded rightfielder Ryan Church to the Atlanta Braves for rightfielder Jeff Francoeur.

It was no secret that Church was on the outs as I have frequently pointed out this season, so this shouldn’t come as a big surprise to readers of this blog.

It’s interesting to note that Francoeur was in the same kind of situation in Atlanta, and was frequently in Bobby Cox’s dog house.

It looks like an even swap on the surface as both are strong defenders but I would argue that the Mets clearly got themselves a potential star in Jeff Francoeur.

I don’t know if this qualifies as a shakeup as they are tooting on SNY, but it’s quite a nice haul for the Mets and hopefully Francoeur can fit right in and provide some pop out of rightfield.

Francoeur was batting .250 with 5 homeruns and 35 RBIs. He has a very underwhelming .634 OPS. That said, he is just 25 years old so there might be some upside. Francoeur is expected to be in the lineup on Saturday.

The trade seems like a swap of similar type players in desperate need of a change of scenery. But the Mets are getting a ton of potential in Francoeur who is young, plays gold glove defense, and has tremendous offensive potential. Since his major league debut on July 7, 2005, Francoeur has recorded 65 assists, the most in the majors during that time frame.

Francoeur hit .293 with 19 homers and 105 RBIs in 2007, but slumped badly last year and was sent to the minors, a move that he found embarrassing. Francoeur recently was benched for three games by Atlanta manager Bobby Cox.

This may not really change the complexion of the team on the surface, but it’s a subtle change that could have a great ripple effect in the Mets clubhouse as we finally get that fiery type player we haven’t had since we parted ways with Paul Lo Duca. Hopefully, his presence will recharge the team and have a positive effect on David Wright who is being crushed by the pressure of having to carry this team on his own.

Francoeur is also a grinder who will play everyday and is never hurt. Haven’t we been crying for a player like this for over two years now?

I understand that the Mets are still basically in the same situation as they were this morning, but maybe this is the start of something big and a precursor for more moves.

Does this move open up the idea of including F-Mart in another deal?

You heard it here first…

Welcome to New York Jeff Francoeur!

]]> 0 Mets Move Church, But Is This What Fans Were Praying For? Fri, 10 Jul 2009 23:13:06 +0000 Quick and to the point:

I don’t understand the trade. We didn’t gain anything better than what we gave away. The Braves may have needed a center fielder, which Church can be, but the Mets certainly didn’t need a right fielder, which Church was.

As Gary Cohen put it,

“A one-on-one deal, an outfielder for an outfielder, in the same division …”

If you ask me, both organizations got rid of guys their managers didn’t like. This deal wasn’t necessarily about either team benefitting or gaining anything on the field. Francoeur may be younger than Church, but other than that, I see no big “wow” factor here.

Fans will certainly miss Ryan Church, but I’m sure they would have been willing to give him up if the deal made sense. To me, this was an even swap.

Best of luck to Ryan Church in Atlanta … welcome to New York Jeff Francoeur.

]]> 0 MetsMerized Player Of The Week! 6/28-7/5 Mon, 06 Jul 2009 16:39:57 +0000

So this week wasn’t good, and that’s a major understatement. A lot of Met fans, including myself, are really getting tired of watching this so-called Major League team try to play baseball. Any opposing pitcher seems to dominate them, and things are not looking good. However, there was one bright spot this week, and undoubtedly I have to give the award to that player.

My choice for the MetsMerized Player Of The Week is… Ryan Church!

Ryan Church was basically the only offensive force for the Mets last week, batting .433 (13-30) and being one of the only two players to play every game last week, the other being David Wright. Church led the Mets in hits (13) in the past week, (with Alex Cora coming in a distant second with 7) and he managed to lace two doubles. He led the Mets during the past week in total bases (15) and OBP (.452).

He scored 4 Runs, stole a base, and had 3 RBI, along with a robust .500 slugging percentage.

Church played a perfect week on defense, and also recorded an OF assist. It’s weird because I called him a trading chip not too long ago, and now he’s basically the most productive guy on the team. He’s stepped it up a little since Beltran’s injury, so Kudos to Ryan Church for producing in an anemic lineup.

Honorable Mentions :

Mike Pelfrey : 1 GS. 7.2 Innings, 6 Hits, 6 K’s, 0.00 ERA

Gary Sheffield : .286 (6-21), 1 HR, 4 RBI, 9 TB.

Award Winners :

One Hit Wonders : Luis Castillo, Ryan Church

Of Note 6/28-7/5

The Mets had a whopping 4 home runs this week, which is one more than last week. (Sheffield, Tatis, Martinez, Wright). Congrats to Martinez on his first major league Home Run.

Captain David Wright batted .172 (5-29) last week. Out of the 24 outs that David made, 10 were strikeouts.

The above-mentioned Mike Pelfrey looked great against Yovani Gallardo and the Brewers, giving the Mets a 1-0 win.

Sach C., a fellow writer on Metsmerized, commented this on last week’s post. “With Nieve and Santana making two starts this week, I expect one of them to take this week’s award.” I wholeheartedly agreed…Sadly, Nieve and Santana combined for 4 losses this week.

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Ghosts of PNC Park Exorcised; Mets Win 9-8 Fri, 03 Jul 2009 03:52:22 +0000

The last time the Mets were in Pittsburgh, I wrote a piece about PNC Park having similar effects to the Mets as Atlanta’s Turner Field once had, and to an effect, still has.  Over the past few years, PNC Park had become a house of horrors for the Mets.  They failed to clinch the division title there in 2006, they suffered repeated late-inning setbacks there and earlier this season, the Pirates won all three games played there, with a fourth game being rained out and made up today.

Before today’s game, the Mets were 6-10 in Pittsburgh since 2005.  Early on, today’s game appeared to be the latest in a long string of losses at PNC Park, as the Mets fell behind 5-0 after three innings of play.  Tim Redding was ineffective, being charged with all five runs in only 2 1/3 innings of work, raising his ERA to a bloated 6.99.  The final blow came when Pirates catcher Robinzon Diaz launched a double off the left field wall in the deepest part of the ballpark.  Pat Misch was called in to relieve Redding and all seemed lost for the Mets.  But then, the Ghostbusters were called in.  Although they hadn’t done so in quite a while, the Mets players crossed streams with their bats and put together a rally.  They scored eight runs over the next three innings to take an 8-5 lead and the day appeared to be saved.  Unfortunately, not even Frankie could make them relax today.

The Pirates had chipped away at the Mets’ lead by scoring a run in the seventh inning to make the score 8-6.  That was still the score when Frankie Rodriguez entered the game in the ninth inning.  An infield hit by pinch hitter Freddy Sanchez brought up the tying run to the plate in the form of Adam LaRoche.  He proceeded to tie the game with a long bomb to right field, sliming Frankie and the Mets and appearing to perpetuate the notion that the Mets were cursed at PNC Park.  After two more hits put the winning run 90 feet away, Frankie settled down and retired Brandon Moss on a liner to Luis Castillo.

In came the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man in the form of Matt Capps.  He was looking tough, throwing strikes and retiring the first two batters.  He had two strikes on a member of the Three Fernandos (Tatis) before drilling him near his left kidney. (Ouchie!)  Tatis shook away the pain and stole second base, setting up another RBI situation for Ryan Church.  As he was supposed to do, Church defeated the demons of PNC Park by lining a base hit to center field, scoring Tatis when the ball was overthrown by centerfielder Andrew McCutchen.

With only Bobby Parnell available to him, Jerry Manuel opted to stay with Frankie Rodriguez to pitch the tenth inning.  His confidence in his closer was rewarded when Frankie pitched a 1-2-3 tenth inning, giving the Mets a thrilling 9-8 victory before trekking across the state of Pennsylvania to Philadelphia for their crucial three-game series with the Phillies this holiday weekend.  Coupled with the Phillies’ 5-2 loss to the Braves tonight, the Mets now find themselves only one game behind the first place Phillies and Marlins, who are tied atop the National League East.

The Ghostbusters were able to save the day today.  The bats came alive and although he suffered a small setback in the ninth inning, Frankie recovered quickly and made short work of the Pirates in the tenth.  The PNC Park Poltergeists were vanquished for today.  All good movies end up with sequels made.  Let’s hope this sequel involves exorcising the Phillies next.

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We’re “This Close” To Blowing The Whole Thing Up Wed, 01 Jul 2009 18:05:49 +0000 Sometimes desperate times make us think desperate thoughts.  Last night as I watched Johan Santana serve up a change-up to Ryan Braun that, frankly, I could have hit, and then watch the ball and a bunch of Brewers bounce all over the field and across the plate four times, my disbelief turned into realism.  I started to think, is Santana the ace he was in April and May or is this worst stretch of his career a sign of things to come?  I started to think that maybe we should do the unthinkable—trade him and start blowing up this whole team.

Before you start throwing things at me, hear me out.  I know we’re only a few games out of first place in a suddenly mediocre division, but it’s almost looking like we WILL have to win the division to make the playoffs, because in the wild card race, the Mets are looking up at the Marlins, Cardinals, Cubs, Giants and Rockies.  And let’s face it, we are not better than the Phillies.  Two September collapses have given way to a season that’s a few losses away from being a complete disaster; K-Rod and Putz being the only real moves Omar Minaya made this past winter.  What I’m saying is, it doesn’t look like this group is going to get it done, no matter who we have coming off the disabled list. 

This Mets team is getting old, and we’re getting old waiting for them to bring us another championship, or even playoff appearance. 

Is it really all that extreme to start thinking like those Marlins teams that had fire sales?  What kind of prospects can we get for Santana, Wright, Beltran, Reyes, Church, Castillo, Sheffield, Putz and even K-Rod?  How much worse can we do by trotting out Martinez, Murphy, Evans and Santos every day? 

I’m just sick of the overpriced and underachieving product this team puts on the field.  Injuries are a fact of life, but little league blunders night after night by a major league team shouldn’t be.

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Altering the Expectations Wed, 24 Jun 2009 15:21:26 +0000 Like most of you I could not wait for the 2009 baseball season to begin. I felt the Mets were most definitely the team to beat in the National League.

Omar Minaya did an awesome job rebuilding the bullpen by adding JJ Putz and Frankie Rodriguez. The Mets offense had no problems hanging crooked numbers on the scoreboard. This was going to be our year. Then the injury plague came.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought Reyes, Delgado and Beltran would all be on the DL at the same time! Even the most optimistic fan has got to admit the Mets have a lot of problems here. Sure there are still about 100 games to go, and sure its way to early to toss in towel. What this entry deals with are what I think are some of the interesting story lines we have to follow this season.

Firstly we should be concerned about how well the players who are currently on the DL perform when they come back.

Will Reyes injured leg bother him all season?

Will Delgado be able to hit the way he did before he went down?

How will Maine and Ollie do?

Does Ollie go to the pen when he comes back?

Of the currently healthy guys there are also some interesting stories. Will the legend of Omir Santos continue to grow?

Is Daniel Murphy going to be the first baseman of the future? Will Murphy start hitting again?

Will David Wright become the first Met ever to win the NL batting crown?

What about left field? Who is going to be the “regular” left fielder? Will Fernando Martinez make the most of this great chance he’s been given? What about Ryan Church? Can he stay healthy? Will he return to being the doubles machine he was with the Nationals?

Besides K-Rod, who will emerge as a force from the bullpen?

These are just a few things Met fans need to consider while we wait for the team to get healthy again.

I’m not ready to give up on the 2009 season, but it also doesn’t hurt to look toward the future.

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Hendu Misses Shea, Omir Gets It, Church Is Like Kingman Mon, 22 Jun 2009 17:19:58 +0000 From inside the Mets (and Rays) clubhouses I gleaned several conclusions Saturday:

Carlos Beltran is a real gamer (I proposed trading him a month ago because the returning bounty would fill several holes, but I agree with a post who called me “insane” ). He’s hurting right now. (scheduled for a MRI Monday). His knee barks loud when he has to put on the breaks. His diving catch yesterday, that saved two runs, is probably less painful than pulling up in the outfield or on the base paths.

With the team treading water, and the rash of injuries, Jerry Manuel can’t afford to rest Beltran. But, he may have no choice, or risk losing him for an extended period.

When I used to interview players in the clubhouse at Shea, because of the close proximity of the lockers, eavesdropping players would often chime in with a woof that added color to my stories. However, with the vastness of the new digs, a conversation becomes a very private affair. Moreover, with the off-limits section of the clubhouse, replete with pool table, and spa-like hot tubs, etc, many players are no where to be found before or after games.

Great, another obstacle to overcome to garner quotes. Fans want to hear from the players, but how can the reporters gather their precious quotes when the players are not accessible? Add the Jay Horowitz factor (Mets longtime PR man), whose favorite word is the same as Jim Carrey’s “NO,” and you have to be creative and dig to get the word out to the fans.

Nevertheless, we all have our burdens, and when you talk to a guy like Omir Santos, it makes it all worthwhile. He appreciates every minute he dresses in a major league clubhouse. His eyes light up when he talks about being a Met. Add Fernando Tatis to the list of players who “get it.” Both take nothing for granted about the game and life.

On the other end of the spectrum is Ryan Church. He could use a puppy because he has no friends in the Mets clubhouse. He sits alone, mopes alone, and leaves the park alone. Maybe because his body language screams, “get me out of here.” He reminds me of Dave Kingman, who was a fierce loner, that rarely interacted with his teammates or the writers ( unless he was delivering a put-down or a dead rodent).

From the Rays side, there were more clubhouse attendants roaming inside than media. There was an intimate gathering inside Joe Maddon’s office pregame, and speaking to him you realize how sharp this guy is. By the way, Maddon had a stack of printouts on his desk, seemingly for every situation available. Makes me think Davey Johnson was ahead of his time.

Steve Henderson, the hitting coach, and former Mets outfielder, was lamenting about Shea’s demise. He did remark that Citi Field is a “sweet park,” and still fondly recalls his Mets career. “I will never forget how the fans treated me, and the opportunity that the (Seaver) trade gave me. To this day, I still call him, ‘Mr Seaver,’ because if it wasn’t for him I might have never made it to the big leagues.”

Something tells me Hendu would have made it regardless. However, at the time of the infamous “Deadline Massacre” of June 1977 he was toiling in the minors at Indianapolis, teammates with Dan Norman, who also came over from the Reds (and Doug Flynn and Pat Zachry).

(If anyone wants to know what became of Norman, just ask and I’ll tell you. Just seeing if anyone is out there!) Henderson hit one of the most dramatic home runs in Mets history-in 1980, a two out three run walk-off against the Giants’ Allen Ripley, believe it or not. The ball landed in the Mets pen and I watched the majestic flight from the right-field boxes. My voice box never recovered!

Anyone remember it?

Talking to Ben Zobrist, the Ray’s utility man, who only four years ago was a Troy, NY Valley Cat of the NY Penn league, was a pleasure. A highly religious young man whose enthusiasm is infectious has come into his own this season with 15 home runs and leads the AL in slugging %. He blasted an insurance homer off Sean Green for good measure in the 9th. On Friday night he hit several shots that were run down by Beltran and he laughed at the prospect of playing 81 games in the cavernous park.

Speaking of home runs that required a tape measure, or more aptly, a GPS, Carlos Pena’s home run Saturday is still in orbit. I told him they were “able to show a double feature on that flight,” and he smiled in appreciation.

If the Phillies keep losing this could turn out to be 1973 all over again (Mets won it one game over .500).

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Looking At Brad Hawpe Mon, 22 Jun 2009 14:55:35 +0000 How many one-sided trade suggestions are we going to get with this team? Sure, I’d take Holliday, Carlos Lee, Mark DeRosa or Jermaine Dye. There aren’t a lot of people who wouldn’t. But we don’t have too much to offer back. So maybe it’s time we look at things in a different light.

I propose we trade Ryan Church, in a deal for Brad Hawpe. First off, I understand that it’s a weird thought and Hawpe may not even be available, but there have been whispers. Brad Hawpe would be a great addition to this team in my eyes and he’s an upgrade to Ryan Church. Earlier, I came across a comment on MLBtraderumors where someone said that Hawpe was Ryan Church in Coors Field, and at least Church could field. But Hawpe swings more dangerous lumber than Church does, and he’s still doing it in the Rockies lineup without the sweet swinging Matt Holliday. I understand that Hawpe’s numbers have been inflated because he plays half his games at Coors Field, but I think he deserves some credit.

The only knock I have against Hawpe is that he’s statistically not the best fielder around, and this is true, because his “Range factor”, the amount of ground he covers, isn’t very high. But in 2006, he led all MLB right fielders with 16 OF assists and fielded to a .987 percentage. To be fair, Hawpe’s percentage dropped to .956 in 2008 but he had 77 less chances compared to 2006. However, whatever Hawpe doesn’t cover for in defense, he makes up for with above-average offense.

Hawpe owns a career batting average of .287 and a career OBP of .378. Hawpe hit 20 doubles, 20 HRs, and 80 RBIs for three straight years: 2006-2008; hitting 30 doubles in 06’ and 07’. His career year was 2007, when he hit .291 with 29 HRs, 116 RBI, 33 2B, and scored 80 times.

This year, without Holliday as protection, he’s batting .337 with 9 HRs and 47 RBIs and an OBP of .410. He’s already stroked 21 doubles this year in only 196 ABS.

If those numbers aren’t convincing, there’s a few more things to note. Hawpe is batting .327 against left-handed pitching this year, so he’s proven he can hit lefties.

And for the doubters that believe that Coors Field is the only reason he’s such a good hitter: Hawpe owns a .294 career average at home, and a .281 average on the road. He’s hit 61 doubles and 48 HRs at Coors, while stroking 63 doubles and 49 HRs on the road.

So with all this behind me, I suggest that we go after the 30-year old Brad Hawpe. Would Church and two Triple-A pitchers do it? If it were a pretty decent relief pitcher or two, the Rockies would welcome that. The Rox also have a crowded outfield with prospects Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler starting to produce. And for anyone who was wondering, Hawpe owns a career .360 average against the Phillies.

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Injuries Are Not The Only Thing Wrong With This Club Tue, 16 Jun 2009 15:48:08 +0000 Ryan Church will never be more than a marginal player for the following reasons: His swing is too long; it starts in Flushing and ends in Corona. Number Two: He has a low baseball IQ. Case in point, during a tilt of the Subway Series, and a runner in scoring position with one out, he attempts to bunt. With a short porch at the end of a jet stream staring him in the grill.


That’s right, sacrifice an out, and leave it up to the next guy. Maybe that is why you won’t see him and Jerry Manuel having breakfast on the road together. Finally, he has the propensity of committing the bonehead play, ie., dropping a fly ball or sidestepping a bag. His career has already peaked and the Mets would dump him in a New York minute if only they could receive that coveted bag of balls in exchange.

The point here, my friends, is the Mets are not only battling injuries that have crippled the offense, but the supporting cast has hardly put forth the performances to warrant Academy Award nominations. However, they do rank high on the blooper reels (see Church and Luis Castillo).

Church’s production has been anemic this year along with catcher Brien Schneider’s.

Moreover, why does Schneider always get a pass when the woes of the offense are probed? Maybe because he was hired to handle a young pitching staff and be a stellar defender, but can’t outhit Alyssa Milano. His receiving skills may be the most overrated aspect of his putrid game. Call him “Teflon” Brian.

You include the offensively challenged “Schneid” to a lineup that has Church, a couple of banjo hitters (Cora and Castillo) and the pitcher, thus the automatic out wheel is spinning off it’s axis.

(I’d add Daniel Murphy to the burgeoning list of incompetence but patience is a virtue with young players. Nevertheless, the shaky first baseman is bucking for a seat on the Number 7 Out-Express).

Basically, there are two and a half guys hitting on this ballclub: David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and Castillo (1/2 and ever so softly).

Gary Sheffield just has to flash his AARP card and he’s exonerated (but he does provide the long ball). Alex Cora a fill-in, Fernando Tatis resting on his laurels of Comeback Player of the Year honors (but now eligible for Un-Comeback Player of the Year), and Omir Santos, playing with the house’s money.

Fernando Martinez needs to be sent down-he’s overmatched, and there you have your 2009 NY Mets.

I don’t have the energy to delve into the rising pitching woes. All I can add is this: Johan Santana is our last line of defense from the Washington Nationals.

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Starting Off a Critical Stretch the Right Way Wed, 10 Jun 2009 17:48:57 +0000 Okay, I wasn’t at Citi Field last night, but I could feel the energy in the park all the way from New York to Nashville.  It was a playoff game in June, and the Mets continued their dominance of Philly when they absolutely had to have a win against them.  It also kick-started a stretch of tough games against the Phillies, Yankees, Orioles, Rays, Cards, Yankees again, Brewers, Phillies, Dodgers and Reds before the all-star break. 


Quite frankly, the next month of games is going to make or break this Mets’ team, and show us all what they are made of.  I like how it started last night, with Johan absolutely fierce despite not having his best stuff.  Wright, Beltran and Church delivered homers when there had been a power drought.  And as for Johan, he ignored a bunt sign and drove in the tying run with a double down the right field line, and he also made a stunning catch of a wicked liner off the bat of Shane Victorino, doubling Eric Bruntlett off first to end the Phillies’ half of the 7th.  He was pissed when Jerry Manuel yanked him in the 8th—he was saying “I’m a Man!” and I could also make this out: “I’ll give you the ball, but I don’t agree with you.”  Good for him….who would want our ace to have any other attitude?


There was also a horrible call in the bottom of the sixth when Ryan Church hit a rocket that was fielded by Ryan Howard as Fernando Tatis broke for the plate (with no outs, mind you) and Howard threw him out at the plate.  But wait…..umpire Lance Barksdale blew that call about as bad as you can blow a call.  Tatis slid under the tag of catcher Carlos Ruiz, but not only that, Ruiz was bobbling the ball!  I have no idea why Tatis, nor Jerry Manuel, didn’t get in Barksdale’s face.  Even David Wright could be seen in the dugout trying to convince Manuel to do that.  Luckily, that was the same inning Santana doubled home the tying run, so it didn’t decide the game.  But still…..I’m pissed about that call, and the Mets and their fans should be too.


So Game 1 goes to the Mets, and it brought them to within two games of the Phillies.  We need at least one more win in the series to make a statement, but wouldn’t a sweep really be nice?  I won’t get greedy, and I’m just excited for more playoff-style baseball for the next month.  Let’s go Mets!

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Here’s How Bob Murphy Would Have Called It Wed, 10 Jun 2009 17:31:31 +0000 So much for all that talk about Citi Field being the place where would-be homeruns go to die…

Last night, baseballs were flying out of Citi Field like nobody’s business as the Phillies and Mets combined to hit seven homeruns to set a new single game record and smashing the previous high of five at Citi Field.

And while all the homeruns were no doubters, none was bigger and badder than that of Ryan Church whose blast ended up being a game winner for the Mets. But even more than that was the interesting flight that the baseball took as it sailed right into the black concrete well that houses the new homerun apple!

I can almost hear the words in my head of how Bob Murphy would have called it…

“Ryan Church hits a towering flyball… it’s way back there… deep toward the centerfield wall… and there it goes… a homerun! Ryan Church hits his second homer of the season right off of the homerun apple, and he hit it so hard he nearly broke the damn thing!”

We still miss you Murph…

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