Author Archive

Embrace the Ace & Cowgill Caution

April 2, 2013

Originally posted on Metszilla.com

One of the positives of being a Mets fan is the fact that we follow a club that tends to do well on opening day.  After dropping their first six opening day games, the Mets have a franchise record of 34-18.  That’s pretty damn impressive when you consider some of the long stretches of futility this franchise has experienced.  When you stop and think about it, this is probably the least talked about reason for the cautious and sometimes pessimistic nature of Mets fans.

So what can we take from yesterday’s great start?  Jon Niese may have the right attitude to be an ace.  It is a small observation that certainly needs the test of time.  It is derived from the fact that he looked like he was going to take a swing at Terry Collins when he was initially informed that he wasn’t coming out for the top of the seventh inning.  Collins finally compromised and allowed him to face the first two batters of the inning.

Here’s my reaction when they took him out:

MWTweet

I’ve always been a fan of Jon, mainly because he is from Lima, Ohio.  The fact that he has been a solid lefty has helped too.  His display today took him up a notch.  I guess I should expect nothing less from a fellow Midwestropolitan.

Cowgill Caution

Let’s face it; we have been starved for favorites in the lineup over the last few seasons.  Colin Cowgill has definitely hit the ground running as a leading contender to join Captain Wright and Ike Davis.    All of the comparisons to Lenny Dykstra with regard to his play not his financial wisdom; have definitely thrown gasoline on the fire.  At this rate, I am going to be officially sick of the “more Cowgill” references by Wednesday.

I advise you to proceed with extreme caution.  There has to be a reason he has averaged 37 games a year at the major league level over his first two seasons.  Enjoy the show by all means.  However, wait and see how he combats the adjustments pitchers start to make before you anoint him the next superstar in orange and blue.

Spring Is Here

February 24, 2013

Originally posted on Metszilla.com.

Rejoice!  Games are here and we can now watch pitchers pitch, hitters hit, and fielders field.  As an added bonus, we will no longer be subjected to filler stories about Bobby Bonilla’s salary or what David Wright likes to eat on Tuesdays.  Needless to say, it is a time of the year we all look forward to.

However, I advise you to be careful my friends.  I want to remind you not to put too much into what you see in the games and in the box scores.  While spring training games give us a glimpse into what cards we have been dealt, you have to keep in mind on what the players are focusing on.  Scouting takes a back seat in the spring as players focus on themselves.  Pitchers focus on specific pitches or locations regardless of the scoreboard and who they are facing.  Hitters spend little time in the video room watching the opposing pitcher as they work on their own timing, vision, and set up.

Putting it simply, they are getting ready.  The fact that none of them being game ready is also something we need to consider when penciling in our ideal line ups.  Stephen Strasburg will be a bit more sharp in the regular season and the Mets will have to face him for more than two innings.  Managers will also be substituting for improved match-ups rather than rotating guys in each game little league style.

Don’t cry in your pina coladas yet.  We will be able to glean some things as it is inevitable the actual game will dictate how a player approaches a certain situation.  Yesterday’s game provided us an opportunity to see how Zach Wheeler would potentially handle situations in which he needs a strikeout.  He didn’t disappoint. That’s the beauty of baseball.  No matter what players are working on, they will be forced to ditch the pre-game development plan occasionally  and be placed in a situation where they will have to display how they will perform with a true test.

Enjoy the action and the debate, but don’t get too high or too low on a particular player or situation. Personally, I will be keeping an eye on the outfield as I am absolutely fascinated by the mix of guys vying for playing time.  They have been given an outstanding opportunity to make it that doesn’t come around very often.  They can thank Omar Minaya, Jason Bay, Johan Santana, and of course Fred and Jeffy Willpon.

So throw your feet up and enjoy the optimism.  Take pleasure in soaking up the relaxed atmosphere as number 88 steps into the box to face number 76 in the eighth inning.  Because no matter what happens this spring, the Mets will still be tied for first place on April 1st.

Posting For The Zilla

February 10, 2013

I’ve joined forces with Metszilla.  Here’s my first post:

 

Greetings Zilla readers.  I’m pretty tickled to be teaming up with Vinny, Jason, and the gang.   From time to time I’ll be sharing some unsolicited opinions from the corMidwestMets3a-smn fields of Indiana.

A little introductory information before I start.  Not so different than many of you, I have been a lifelong Mets fan.  However, when I was five my folks moved us over 700 miles away to the good ole’ Midwest, or as I occasionally refer to it, The Middle.  This creates some challenges in terms of being able to see the team live, but thanks to this bitchin’ thing called the internet, I get to consume every inning I can.  The bonus to living this far away is I am removed from the constant presence of the New York Media and its tendency to create news, rather than report it.

Enough jibber-jabber, it is time to kick things off.   I figured I would begin with a brief rundown of where I stand on a few Met related issues that have us all scratching our heads from time to time.

The 2013 Mets

I’m not one for making predictions, as I view upcoming seasons in terms of what can be realistically expected.  Success or the lack there of, always begins with starting pitching.  Much is said about the depth of the Mets starting pitching organizationally.  At times people confuse this with the strength of  the guys at the big league level.  The Mets’ starting five will be solid, not great.  Everything hinges on Johan Santana’s ability to be the ace, Matt Harvey to take the next step developmentally, Jon Niese to cement himself as a consistent two or three, and Zach Wheeler to provide a Harveyesque impact  at some point in 2013.

Combine this with the fact that there have not been any significant offensive improvements, and I think it’s reasonable to expect a third or fourth place finish while we keep our eyes on 2014 for the next playoff push.

The Wilpons

I’ll keep this brief as to avoid throwing up in my mouth a handful of times while I type this.  I truly believe the Wilpons want desperately to win.  They just can’t get out of their own way.  A few examples would be, the Madoff mess, a bizarre obsession with the Brooklyn Dodgers that Fred doesn’t seem to realize alienates Mets fans, and the many boneheaded comments that publically undermine players .

Spend Spend Spend

The “you have to spend to win” mentality that many of our brethren believe in is one of the more frustrating viewpoints I come across when perusing the bitchin’ internet.  If you truly look at things rationally, throwing money at problems is never a successful long term solution.  I’m not saying the Mets shouldn’t spend money in free agency.   It just needs to be done with a great deal of thought, rather than throwing money at the Bobby Bonillas, Jason Bays, and Olver Perezes of the world.

The Best Pizza In Muncie, Indiana

This is probably the most controversial opinion in this piece.  If you ask 100 Muncieites who has the best pizza in town, 90 of them will tell you Pizza King. Don’t fall for it.  It is glaringly obvious that Greek’s Pizza is a whole league above the king.  Just because a pizzeria has 723 locations in a five square mile radius, doesn’t mean the quality of the food is superior.

Sandy Alderson Is a Genius.

Ever since the creation of the catchy term, Moneyball, anyone associated with the Oakland Athletics in the last 13 years has been considered a genius, Mr. Alderson included.   Genius is a bit farfetched in my humble opinion.   Mr. Alderson possesses great skill in long term organizational planning.  More importantly, he has proven that he does not let the media or an impatient fan base dictate his decisions.  This is a quality I highly respect and feel is a requirement for a big league GM.  I also respect the fact that he has great patience with regard to what he wants to gain in a trade.  The result seems to be other general managers meeting the Mets’ asking price.

Sandy Alderson Is an Idiot

Read the preceding paragraph.

Playing The Game The Right Way

One thing I learned while suffering through the 90’s was it is impossible to win when you beat yourself.  The Braves of the 90’s and early 2000’s won with great starting pitching, solid defense, and never making critical mistakes.  And I mean NEVER.  When you step back and look at those teams, their lineup didn’t exactly make you piddle in your pants.

When Terry Collins came on board talking incessantly about playing the game the right way, I was on board in a big way.  He bamboozled me into believing that the Mets may get out hit or out pitched, but he would field a team that would never beat themselves.

Apparently, the players didn’t understand that meant avoiding critical errors and  playing lethargic baseball for entire months at a time.  At this point, I’d rather not here this talk, until I see it consistently backed up on the field.

Don’t get me wrong, I like TC.  He has clearly had to deal with a lack of talent during his tenure and has never publically cried about it.  It will be interesting to see what happens with him in the next couple of years as the Mets appear to be on the right track regarding improving their roster.

The New York Media

Last, and certainly least, let me share my opinion about the New York Media.  I grow weary of them easily and have realized that there are times when it is simply better to avoid their silliness.   I get it, their job is to cover the Mets and they have to produce.  The problem is, coverage is clearly in the over kill stage and there are many times when it is easy to see that they are creating news rather than reporting it.  The next “controversial” column you read concerning something a player said or did, try to focus on the context and the exact question they were prompted with.  The last example that comes to mind is the R.A. Dickey Christmas Party fiasco.  Here’s a guy that is lauded for his openness and then is attacked when he simply answers a question asked of him.  He probably should have seen it coming I guess.

That’s it for now.  Don’t worry; my posts will not typically be this long.  I normally tend to keep things simple and focus on one thing at a time.

Next Season

January 24, 2013

This upcoming season I plan on following the team in a different manner.  I am going to shut myself in so to speak.  I haven’t worked it all out yet but I am going to watch as many innings as I can, abstain from reading or watching any traditional non-game media coverage (ESPN, Fox Sports, NY Newspapers, etc) and limit my time reading other people’s tweets about the team.  The only non-game info I will look at will be stats and box scores.

The idea is I’ll then be posting my perceptions and observations in a completely unfiltered, uninfluenced manner.  When the year is over I will look back and compare my observations to what the traditional media writes about.

In my warped mind, this is interesting.  Not sure it will be interesting to anyone else, but who cares right?

The Dickey Deal

December 17, 2012

RA Jersey

Ladies, gentlemen, friends, family, and irrational Met Fans,

The intent of this post is to publish and prove the factual statement that the R.A. Dickey trade is a good move.  I will prove this in a clear, concise, and unemotional manner.  For those of you that thrive on drama, exit out of this post and go watch Terms of Endearment.

Fact #1:

R.A. Dickey had a career year in 2012.  Not just for him, a career year for the vast majority of major league hurlers past, present, and future.  History tells us it is extremely difficult to match a season like that.  Therefore, it is very unlikely his value to will be any higher.

Fact #2:

R.A. Dickey is 38 years old.  The chances of him staying this effective and relevant are not very high.

Fact #3:

Combine Dickey’ shelf life with his current effectiveness, and it is clear he is a great fit for a team ready to compete this year, and perhaps a year or two in the future.  The New York Mets have not changed their 2012 lineup.  In fact, they have only subtracted players.  With R.A. Dickey in the rotation, performing at a Cy Young Award winning pace, the Mets finished in fourth place.  Clearly, this team is not ready to compete now.

Fact 4:

The New York Mets do not have the finances to sign a Josh Hamilton or Zack Greinke, or both for that matter.

These are the facts, and they are irrefutable.  After looking at the situation factually, realistically, and rationally the quickest and best way to build a winner in Queens was to trade #43.

POST SCRIPT:

Thank you R.A., for carrying yourself with class and potentially helping the New York Mets for years to come.

 

How Did I Do?

October 7, 2012

At the beginning of the season I shared a few things to look for during the 2012 season.  Let’s see how accurate I was.

….I have absolutely no irrational beliefs that the Mets will finish better than fourth place in their division this season.

My expectation for 2012 is to leisurely enjoy each game with the hopes that I begin to pick up on signs that the Mets will contend next year, or more realistically in 2014. 

Couldn’t be more spot on in terms of my beliefs on how the team would fare overall.  Fourth place it was.  I am glad I went back and re-read this though.  It reminded me that 2014 is a more realistic year for the Mets to compete.  Not sure I’ll have the patience to wait another year however.

Ruben Tejada will play a solid, consistent shortstop defensively, and hit .270.

Congrats to Ruben.  No one can argue he was a solid, consistent shortstop in 2012.  He exceeded my expectations with a .289 average.

Daniel Murphy will boast a plus .300 batting average but will struggle at second base.  However, it will still be a better showing than Luis Castillo’s efforts as a Met.

I’m man enough to admit that I was wrong on two out of three accounts here.  I handed myself a gimme with the Castillo measurement, but Murph did not quite make it to .300 as he finished with a .291 average.  I am cool with the fact that Murphy did not struggle at second base and even seemed to get more comfortable as the season went on.

Lucas Duda and Ike Davis will both blast 20 plus homers, maybe even 30 plus.

Thanks Ike.  Lucas, I will never forgive you for making me look like a fool.  You are dead to me.

David Wright will hit .280 and his strike outs will decrease, but will still rely on the submarine heaves across the diamond that will lead to a number of throwing errors.

Looks like I am once again batting .333 on this one.  Great if I was a hitter, not so great in terms of “predictions”.  I’m glad #5 had the bounce back season he did.

Johan Santana will remain relatively healthy and pick up 12 wins.

Not very close on this one.  Maybe in 2013?

Mr. Met will serve some jail time after beating Billy The Marlin’s ass after Billy insinuates that he has always been Jose Reyes’ favorite mascot. Who names a fish Billy anyway?

Fortunately for Mr. Met, the Marlins imploded this year causing Billy the Marlin to drink heavily.  An unidentified source tells me he has checked in to a very expensive rehab center to help him stop binging on Mojitos and Pina Coladas.

Mike Pelfrey will have his last season as a starter as a New York Met.

This wasn’t a stretch going into the season.  I’m not thrilled that this came to fruition due to injury.

Tim Byrdak will be effective for a second consecutive season, largely due to the fact that he graced the first ever cover of the Midwestropolitan.com Facebook page.

Well, he was effective before he got hurt.  You’re not going to hold the cover choice against me Tim, are you?

The Mets will still be looking for a true closer, even though Bobby Parnell will have a better showing this season.

Yup and yup.  The problem here is the Mets won’t spend a lot of cash for a proven closer so they will still be searching in 2013.  As much as I like typing his name, Franc Franc is clearly not the answer.

Andres Torres will be hurt much of the season.  After all, dude is 34 years old, that’s ancient for a lead off man playing CF.

He wasn’t hurt, but he was awful.  I was particularly disappointed in his base running.

I don’t even want to discuss Jason Bay.  I am just going to hope like heck he has a good season.  He sure seems like a swell guy and I’d hate to see him have another tough go of it.

Still don’t want to discuss J. Bay.  Still seems like a swell guy.

On to 2013 boys.

Shrewd Move Not Needed

September 2, 2012

Joel Sherman from the New York Post is advocating that the Mets trade David Wright, R.A. Dickey, and even Jon Niese for 8-10 prospects to fix overall depth issues in the organization.

Although Joel’s thought process isn’t completely bananas, I don’t think it’s the road to take.  While I agree there are some glaring holes in the outfield that don’t appear to have a real solution inside the organization, they have demonstrated some potential depth in the most important area of all, starting pitching.

Side Note:  Can someone explain to me why Corey Vaughn is still in single A?  I get he hasn’t hit for average, but he is 25, has shown a good deal of power, and Wally Backman seems to have a liking for him.

Matt Harvey has proven he will be a critical member of the Mets starting five next year.  It is reasonable to believe we could see Zach Wheeler mid-season next year after a solid first season in the Mets organization. I believe Collin McHugh has the right mental game and can locate his curveball extremely well to be an intriguing option as well.

Combine these guys with R.A. Dickey, who needs to be extended, and Jon Niese, who received a fair but very reasonable extension this year, and you have a pretty solid assortment of options for the starting rotation.

I purposefully left out Johan Santana from that group because I refuse to hold any hope that he will return to his dominant self or even a top of the rotation starter at this point in his career.

Do you remember a guy named Dillon Gee?  He may not be a front of the rotation guy, but he can be a very nice five-spot or long man.  Jeremy Heffner has also emerged as a pitcher that also can fill that role.

Throw in Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia as options to keep in mind or potential bullpen help.

While I’m at it, I’ll throw in a dark horse.  There is a guy by the name of Mark Cohoon that pitched extremely well in Binghamton this season, 146.2 innings pitched with a 3.46 ERA.  Keep an eye on him.  I’m not necessarily making any bold predictions because he did get promoted to Buffalo and was shelled in his first two starts.  The idea here is there may be a guy out there like a Collin McHugh that becomes an option that no one was even thinking about.

My last point, and this may very well be the most important, many people tend to forget the Wilpons got off a whole helluva lot easier from the Madoff Mess than we all originally thought.  While long gone are the days of having one of the highest payrolls in baseball, I can see them loosening the purse strings a bit more to allow the Mets to make long-term investments on guys in the future.  Guys like David Wright and R.A. Dickey.

At this point in time it is reasonable to expect a 85 win team next year, and to compete in 2014 for a playoff spot.

David Wright: Faithful Wife

August 28, 2012

It’s not what you said. It’s how you said it.

“I think that you want to experience winning. It’s in our nature — it’s in my nature — and that’s going to be definitely a big factor in it”.- David Wright

Yesterday I was talking to Tom and the subject of our sick little baseball team came up.  During our conversation I mentioned the fact that David Wright seems to be positioning himself for a potential departure.

Can you blame him?

My analogy is that he is the faithful wife that has been treated like shit by a douche bag of a husband.  I can literally picture him sobbing while saying, “I gave you the best years of my life and this is the thanks I get!”.

Too melodramatic?  I have eyewitnesses that can place me at work all day and NOT watching daytime television.  I swear.

The bottom line is that it is too early to worry about this issue.  If the off-season passes and the Mets do not extend him then you can worry if you want to see #5 past 2013.

Mets vs Phillies: Who Cares

August 28, 2012

Just posted this on the Facebook page:

“Mets and Phillies for the next three games. Honestly, who cares at this point from both teams’ perspective. The once electric rivalry is in hibernation thanks to suckiness and people getting old in Philly quickly.”

It’s pretty crazy to think about.  I think back to 2007 and remember thinking these two teams were going to be at each others throats for the next ten years.

Man what an idiot.  I was way off.

The Mets’ issues have been well documented by yours truly.  The lack of interest caused by the Mets’ demise has taken away the pure joy I surely would have felt watching the Phillies age before my very eyes like some horrible science fiction movie.

Thanks again guys.

Nothing Is Wrong With This Team

August 22, 2012

Last night’s debacle and subsequent team meeting has motivated many in Metland to share their opinions about what is wrong with this team.  Why should I be any different?  

It’s really quite simple.  Nothing is wrong with this team.  They are rebuilding.

“But rebuilding is not what met fans want. they want to WIN NOW. and if the team doesnt win now, then every single head should roll…” -Fan Comment from ESPN

I know many of you don’t want to hear it, but facts are facts.  The Mets are rebuilding.  Go ahead and play ostrich and bury your head in the sand if you want, see how far it gets you.  But this jibber jabber about heads rolling and not trading at the deadline is nonsense.

This mentality doesn’t make sense to me.  Fire everyone!  Then what?  How will this magically change the fact that the Mets quite simply are not talented enough to compete yet nor do they have the money or farm system for a quick fix?

Even if they did have the resources for a quick fix, would you be satisfied with mortgaging the next five years so the Mets can qualify as the second Wild Card and potentially be bounced from the playoffs in one game?

The bottom line is this sucks right now.  It is no fun watching a below average team exceed expectations for half a season and then run out of gas in the second half.

The scary thing to me is I expected the Mets to be somewhat competitive in 2013.  Now?  I’m not 100% sure.  Having to rebuild the entire bullpen…again…as well as fill all three outfield positions doesn’t give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside about 2013.


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