Posts Tagged ‘Johan Santana’

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.

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.

Harvey’s Mental Game

July 26, 2012

Over the last few weeks there has been much debate about whether or not Matt Harvey is ready for the big leagues.  Tonight we get to find out.

I have to admit I’m concerned.  In my mind I had Harvey and Wheeler starting off the 2013 season in the rotation, having all of 2012 in the minors to fine tune their game.  I’m not going to flat-out say it is the wrong decision to hand Harvey the ball tonight.  Let’s face it, something’s got to change and maybe he’ll give this squad a boost.

In many ways, baseball is a numbers game.  My problem is I am way too lazy to analyze stats to come up with an opinion about a player’s readiness.  Particularly in the pitching area.

Instead, I focus on their confidence because on many occasions it is very easy to decipher.  All you have to do is look at a guy’s face or pay attention to his body language.

Read the following names of Mets’ pitchers and picture the look on their face when they were on the mound only.  Forget everything you know about them.  Forget about how many games they have won, their career ERA, how fast they throw, how tall they are, or how nasty their breaking pitches are.  Focus on only how they carry themselves.

Mike Pelfrey, Aaron Heilman, Frank Francisco, Manny Acosta, Armando Benitez, Jeremy Heffner, Chris Schwinden, Bobby Parnell

This group doesn’t exactly ooze machismo does it?

Now try the same exercise with the following list.

Tom Seaver, Billy Wagner, Dwight Gooden (first few years before the coke completely took over), R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana, David Cone, John Franco

You feel a little more confident in their ability to get a guy out don’t you?  Or better yet, their ability to pitch out of a jam.

Can a pitcher’s outward confidence change?  Sure.  But I argue it’s rare.

Tonight, pay attention to how Harvey reacts when someone drills one of his pitches, or when he doesn’t get a call.  It’s all about the mental game.  Right now, I’m not sure even his own catcher knows. Check out this quote from Rob Johnson

“I think mentally he’s strong enough to be there. It’s just going to be a matter of if he can compose his emotions.”

Maybe I’m being nit picky here but isn’t composing your emotions part of being mentally strong?  In my book it’s the most important thing.

The cool thing about all of this is we’ll start to figure it out with Matt Harvey tonight.

And Now Deep Game 1 Thoughts

April 6, 2012

Some random observations that crossed the pea sized object inside my skull during game 1:

  • The pre-game ceremony remembering Gary Carter was classy.  Well done Mets brass.
  • Ah, Johan is back.  I really wish SNY would remove the pitch count graphic when he pitches.  I find myself somewhat consumed by projecting out how many innings he’ll go.  I hate that.
  • Daniel Murphy can still hit.  Sweet.
  • I find it ironic that the player we traded Angel Pagan for in the off-season gets picked off at first base in the season opener.  Aren’t 34-year-old veteran lead off men supposed to keep base running errors to a minimum?
  • The “no shit” statement of the game:

“And that’s not what he wanted to do there.”-Keith Hernandez in the 5th inning after Johan walked the 8 & 9 hitters (the 9th hitter being the opposing pitcher).

  • Johan is the only pitcher I have confidence in getting out of that situation.  Well done El Gocho.
  • Who schedules a staff meeting in the middle of the Mets’ opening day?
  • Cool, still zero zero  “Who’s winning?  The Bears.”  Didn’t miss anything.
  • David Wright with a clutch hit.  Man it would be sweet if he has a monster year.  This is certainly a decent start.
  • Jason Bay got on base.  That’s nice.
  • Duda & Ike a combined 0 for 8 with 4 Ks.  Ouch.  It’s only one game though.  No biggie.
  • Diggin’ the 1-2-3 save by Francisco.  Dramatic, nail-biting, saves are over rated.
  • Nice win.  Enjoyed it.  Mets are STILL in 1st place.

Well, Here We Are

April 4, 2012

The purpose of this post is not to drop mind-blowing insight or tinkle in your pants it’s so funny humor per the norm.  To be completely honest, it is solely to document my thoughts heading into the beginning of the 2012 season.  My apologies to those of you that came here to have your minds blown or to tinkle in your pants.

Let it be known that on the eve of Opening Day, I feel pretty calm.  I am excited that baseball is upon us, but I have absolutely no irrational beliefs that the Mets will finish better than fourth place in their division this season.

The cool thing about this is that anything better will be a sign of over achievement which takes a lot of angst out of the equation.  Low expectations equal low stress.

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.  With that in mind, here are some things I feel could happen this year:

  • Ruben Tejada will play a solid, consistent shortstop defensively, and hit .270.
  • 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.
  • Lucas Duda and Ike Davis will both blast 20 plus homers, maybe even 30 plus.
  • 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.
  • Johan Santana will remain relatively healthy and pick up 12 wins.
  • 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?
  • Mike Pelfrey will have his last season as a starter as a New York Met.
  • 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.
  • The Mets will still be looking for a true closer, even though Bobby Parnell will have a better showing this season.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Where I Stand

February 29, 2012

Recently, a good buddy of mine asked me in an email what the Mets’ chances are this year.  I thought I would share it with you because it pretty much sums up where I’m at with the boys in blue and orange.

Forgive any grammatical errors you may find as I copied my reply verbatim:

Yeah, 2012 is going to be rough. Even worse than the fact the Wilpons are strapped financially because of Madoff, is the fact that they seem resolved to do everything within their power to hold onto the team.  I don’t necessarily blame them, it just sucks for fans because we have to wait for this mess to play itself out.

I think they will be close to the same record as last year.  Ike Davis is for real so he’ll add some pop to the lineup if he doesn’t have another mysterious ankle injury on a pop up to the pitcher.  Lucas Duda is also intriguing and could be a dark horse for a breakout year from my glass is half full perspective.

The reality is they need David Wright,  Jason Bay, and more importantly Johan Santana to somehow perform as they did in their prime to be better than 75 wins.  If any of them do, I think they should trade them as soon as possible.  This would get some huge contracts off the books, allow the front office to invest it more wisely to prepare for 2013 or 2014 when they are anticipating some good young arms to mature for the rotation.  I know you can’t depend on guys in the minors to reach potential, but what other option do they have?  They don’t have the ability to sign high priced free agents, so no use crying over spilled milk in my opinion.

Spring Training

The reality of Spring Training 2012 is there isn’t much up for debate, which makes it relatively boring.  The lineup is set, the bullpen is set, and the rotation is set for the most part.  The only real question is how well will Johan Santana progress and when will he get his first start.  I guess that was two questions, but you get the point.

The good part about this is, there shouldn’t be any legitimate drama to worry about.  The bad thing is, the media will have to look for things to write about to fill their word quotas.  Get ready for:

  • 17,345 more stories that cover how the Madoff mess has or will impact the Mets
  • 25,467 different stories about Jason Bay’s approach at the plate this season
  • More made up drama like the Ruben Tejada report date silliness
  • Stories about players bowling, playing Tiddlywinks, or completing Sudoku puzzles

I really wish someone would take a chance on original reporting and investigate something that matters.  Like why in the hell Mr. Met got passed over for the new season of Dancing With the Stars.

Is he doing the Dougie?

Pitching, Pitching, & More Pitching

October 4, 2011

Jose Reyes will dominate the discussion in terms of 2012 roster decisions for the New York Mets.  He’s one of the most exciting players in all of baseball, so it’s easy to understand.

The problem is, the shortstop position should not be the focus of the organization.  The starting rotation should be.  The Mets could re-sign Jose Reyes, successfully convert Ike Davis into a gold glove center fielder, sign Prince Fielder and they still wouldn’t make the playoffs with their current rotation.  I may be exaggerating a tad, but you get the point.

Besides, their offense isn’t the problem.  The Mets were sixth in the National League in runs scored (718).  That’s five runs better than the Phillies.

The 2011 Mets’ starting rotation sported a woeful 4.11 ERA.  There were nine teams better in the National League in this particular area, including all four playoff teams.  As it stands, the rotation has no legitimate ace, a number two or three guy in Johan (due to injury and age), a number three guy in Dickey, and a collection of #4 or #5 guys at best.

Mike Pelfrey (career 4.40 ERA) and Chris Capuano (career 4.39 ERA) need to go.  To put it simply, they are not part of the solution.

Jon Niese and Dillon Gee still have yet to prove they are worth holding on to, but I wouldn’t be upset if the Mets want to give them both another chance in 2012.  Part of me thinks Niese doesn’t have the stamina or strength to make it as a starter and the Mets need to consider moving him to the bullpen. Right now, his 4.20 ERA in 2010 and his 4.40 ERA this season place him alongside Big Pelf and Cap.

Back to Jose for a second. For those of you new to Midwestropolitan (shame on you for not joining us earlier), I am not saying I don’t want Jose to remain a Met.  As a fan, I hold on to hope they can figure out a way to re-sign him and fix the rotation at the same time.  The realist in me knows that is a tall order.

The bottom line is we should keep an eye on what the front office does with the rotation.  It will tell us a lot about whether or not they truly believe they can contend in 2012.  If there isn’t much turnover, it means they are willing to sacrifice 2012 to give Jenrry Mejia, Matt Harvey, and Zack Wheeler time to develop with hopes that any and all of them form a strong young core in 2013.

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