A blog dedicated to the New York Mets with some other baseball thrown in.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Optimism Abound

Unless you are Jon Harper.

I wouldn't bet the ranch on this team. Age and some injury issues at the moment are significant enough to point to how a lot could go wrong, as has been the case too often for the Mets over the years.

Why so glum? Could you point out one team that doesn't have the same exact issues? The Mets were able to withstand significant injuries and make the playoffs in '06 and barely missed in '07 despite fielding one of the worst outfields in the league at one point.

Sure Beltran will miss some time, but he was still extremely valuable despite not playing in 150+ games and as long as he is there at the end and gives 140+ games, I am happy.

As for Castillo, let him get hurt. I mean, I am not hoping he gets hurt, but Ruben Gotay did very well last season and I would not mind seeing him get some significant innings to see if he can grow a bit as a ball player.

Now to the bullpen...I am not sure the Mets are counting on Duaner to save their bullpen. They most assuredly want him back and are excited to have him back, but this bullpen is actually very deep. So deep that Joe Smith might find himself in the minors.

The Mets do not have one bad piece and if they go into panic mode, they can get Pelfrey or The Duque into the pen. There are enough available arms to compliment an improved rotation to give the Mets reliable pitching all season.

Then Harper keeps going and suggesting that Schneider is somehow an offensive downgrade over LoDuca. He makes this mistake as so many do confusing Brian McCann and Paul LoDuca. LoDuca was a horrible offensive player in 2007. Now I am not saying Brian is much better, but I like his offensive game more since it is not solely based around slapping singles around.

He can take a pitch and I appreciate that at the bottom of the lineup and is much more suited to be on this team in its current configuration. Will everything go right for the Mets? Absolutely not. However, predicting some sort of doomsday scenario is just ridiculous.

People are quick to point out all these things while not pointing out that their 1, 2, and 3 starters have room to grow, Wright and Reyes are still growing, Church and Schneider are actually upgrades over what they trotted out there last year, Gotay for one full year or Castillo for one full year is an upgrade over whatever they had in '07, Pelfrey appears primed for a step forward, and Alou is more valuable than half the outfielders in the bigs even after playing only 84 games.

I see no reason why people should be pessimistic at all. What team does not have questions of age and health? Can this guy bounce back or not? Can that guy play in his late 30's? Was 2007 a fluke for that guy? What team is perfect? The Mets are roughly 5% better than the next best team in the NL and almost 10% better than any other team in the NL East. To not be incredibly optimistic is just silly.

The Phillies closer is already out for six weeks, they are depending on a 38 year old set-up man, and they have no back end of the rotation. The Braves have two 40+ starters, a guy who is new to closing for a full year, and their best hitter has played in 137, 109, 110, and 134 games over the last four years. Alou is the Mets fourth best hitter and we are getting concerned about how many games he plays? Let us stop with the sensationalism please and just get behind the goodness that is the 2008 Mets.

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  • Duaner is sore, but the reality is he is not going to pitch 80 games this year. He is going to be sore at times and need a break. Luckily the Mets are rather deep in the bullpen and have three arms than can go 200 innings in 2008 in the rotation.

  • Milledge has every right to be upset. It does not seem like he was treated all that well in his time there on many fronts.

  • Speaking of bullpens, Tim Marchman sees the Met bullpen as a potential issue.

    None of this is made better by the use of Pedro Feliciano, who can get all hitters out but has had more games pitched than innings the last three years, a sign of how heavily he's used in a specialist role.

    I think Willie is one of the biggest problems here and only exacerbated problems with the inability to exhibit any sort of logic. The continued use of Mota is just indicative of how he has no ability to be flexible.

    If that's the best that can be said of it, though, Mets fans will be right to be worried all through the year. The problem here is less the quality of the pitchers than the structure of the bullpen, which isn't built to stand up to much stress. If the Mets get three awful starts in a row, it's going to be badly strained. If Heilman continues to have problems with left-handers, there's no obvious second plan. If the team has an important series coming up against a team that feasts on sinker/slider types, they won't be able to do much about it.

    Marchman kind of assumes that Sanchez will be out and no one steps up. Register was just converted from being a starter so I think it is unfair to assume he cannot add much value. While I agree I would like some more flamethrowers, the Mets do have options and their spectacular bullpen of 2006 was not comprised of fireballers. The 2007 bullpen was actually very good for the majority of the year and that is overlooked.

    I think usage is a big part of it and the ability to adapt is a big part. Willie cannot lay out his game plan and his list of who he likes in game #1 and stick to it no matter what. With bullpens, you need to be dynamic at times and Willie was not dynamic in 2007.

  • It is hard to not like Rustich's move to the rotation. Even if he is not going to be a big league starter, let him get more innings while on the farm.

  • While you never want to put much stock into spring stats at all, it is better to do good than to do bad.

  • Johan will be on TV at 1:00 today. Watch it. Enjoy it.

  • Willie knew nothing about MacNamee, but why not?
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    Wednesday, February 27, 2008

    Close Call

    This story says one of two things to me.

    1) People within the game really truly were ignorant about the PED use in the clubhouses.
    2) People within the game really truly did not care about the PED use in the clubhouses.

    If Willie had any sort of pull, the Mets would probably be unjustly in the middle of this shit storm whether or not one player got anything from MacNamee. I have no idea if MacNamee would have been slinging the stuff last season, but it is clearly something that would have been chewed on by the media and spit out time and time again.

    Luckily for us and the Mets, Willie has no clout in the organization and has no say in personnel. I do not think MacNamee is an evil guy for supplying some players with the juice and HGH. For me, that is a victimless crime. I think Rick Down might have been trying to help some guy out in an innocent way, but that would have been a flat out disaster.

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  • It is way to premature to talk about Pedro and a long term contract. I know we all will speak to the intangibles about Pedro's contract, but that just makes us sounds like the people who support David Eckstein.

    From a financial standpoint, it really has been a disaster. He was useless for two years. I would be OK with giving him another two years if he gives six healthy months, but I would be very wary and the dollar amount would have to be reasonable. I am not sure $24 million over two years would make me feel all warm and fuzzy, but I guess we will have to see what level he performs at.

  • Kevin Kernan hits the nail on the head.

    Don't do it. Don't change a thing. Be yourself, don't be a robot. Don't tame the tiger, don't try to be like Jeremy Shockey who toned down his act and then fell off the face of the football earth. This isn't the No Fun League, this is baseball.

    If you want to change something, lay off the high fastballs and don't joke too much with opponents on second base.

    As for all the handshakes, the pure joy of playing, the first-to-third smiles, don't change a thing. Be yourself. Be the player God made you to be with that Hall of Fame personality. If teams like the Marlins think you are showing them up, too bad, you're not, you're just being yourself.

    I want to see more choreographed handshakes, I want to see more joy, and I want you to make the game fun for everyone who watches you play. If opponents get upset, that's life.

    The crazy part is that it does not seem to be coming from the Mets.

    David Wright doesn't want to see you change, especially at Shea. "When the fans get going, it's tough as a visitor to come in there when that place is rocking and Jose is part of that reason because the fans feed off of his energy," Wright said.

    Omar Minaya agrees. "I don't want him to change, " he said.

    Hopefully Reyes revert back to old Jose when the season changes. The only thing he needs to work on is taking another leap forward in plate discipline and work on getting his GB/FB ratio back up to the 1.38 area.

  • Kunz is no Joba. Actually, I'm not sure he is half of Joba.

  • I usually like Billy Wagner, but this is ridiculous.

    "If he got that bunt down, I would have drilled the next guy," Wagner said. "Play to win against Villanova."

    Frankly, Michigan wanted to win. The Mets did not care. The kids wanted to beat a big league team and played like that.

    "He couldn't bring himself to drill the kid," Randolph said. " Nolan Ryan might have. Nolan or Roger [Clemens] may have done it, kid or not."

    While the Mets viewed the game as their preseason tuneup, Michigan was fired up, and Randolph mentioned that all the Wolverines' chatter "-- me off a little bit."

    They were pumped. Why can't the millionaires let the kids have some fun? Ridiculous.

  • Also from the above link:

    Extra bases

    Orlando Hernandez finally threw a batting practice session and looked sharp. El Duque has been delayed by foot problems.

  • Bill Madden? Wrong.

    Just when it seemed baseball was finally rid of Barry Bonds and the terrible blight he has brought upon the game, comes the report in the St. Petersburg Times Monday of internal discussions the Tampa Bay Rays have had recently about the counterfeit all-time home run king.

    Why does baseball want to rid themselves of any talent? Would Bill Madden be saying this if the Astros were going to bring back Clemens for half of a season? Did he care when Pettitte came back? Again, Bonds is treated differently. Baseball would be 100% better off having him back because he is one of the top ten baseball players of all time and still performs at a high level. He is a legend and should be playing someone. Yes, he cheated. But if you ask me, it would be a travesty for him to never play again.
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    Tuesday, February 26, 2008

    Barry Lamar

    Rob Neyer wrote about Barry yesterday as did Joel Sheehan.

    Last year, Bonds batted .276/.480/.565. Had he qualified—he was 25 plate appearances short—he would have the led the NL in OBP by a wide margin and finished in the top ten in slugging. In fact, using the rule that you can add an 0-for-25 to his stats, he actually did lead the NL in OBP. That’s called dominating the category.

    Of course, a chunk of Bonds’ OBP comes from the intentional walks he receives: 43 last season. You can argue that this disproportionately inflates his OBP, a function less of Bonds’ abilities and more of Brian Sabean’s inability to find hitters better than Ray Durham and Bengie Molina to hit behind his Hall of Famer. So lop 35 intentional walks off of Bonds’ total, and give him the average performance in his other at-bats in those 35 times up. That makes him a .276/.439/.565 hitter, assuming he drew no walks in that time and saw the same distribution of lefties and righties, both ungenerous assumptions. He’d pick up a couple of homers, and almost certainly a lot of RBI, both of which would inflate his value to the people who seem to think “66 RBI” is an indication of value.

    Sports is not exactly a place that truly values ethics. You cheated? Who cares if you can help the team win. There are plenty of other steroid users in the league and sure Barry comes with a bit more of a media circus, but that would mean he should be kept out of New York and Boston.

    Of course Rob Neyer thinks it is a matter of people not wanting to pay all that handsomely for the privilege to have a crazy distraction and believes if he came with a cheap price tag he would find a home. His 170 OPS+ tells me he can pretty much add a shit ton of value to a team on the cusp. Say the Seattle Mariners or someone along those lines.

    I cannot see baseball blackballing him because he has not done anything different than many, many, many other players who had no problems finding contracts or roster spots. This entire situation is perplexing to say the least and the longer he stays out there the more bizarre it is. It is not as if he adds marginal production or is looking for a long term deal that I know of. I could see why people would stay away from him in that case, but he still can do things that very few players can do.

    He has cranky knees and cannot run all that fast, but there are far worse fielders out there and far slower runners. Any team that has him might have a 24+1 situation. They might not. I say who cares. They will get an extremely productive ballplayer that can maybe push a team into the playoffs.

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  • It looks like Sandy Koufax was imparting some knowledge on some Met pitchers.

    It turns out it wasn't just Pedro Martinez and Billy Wagner meeting with Sandy Koufax on Saturday morning. The Mets also had Jon Niese, the top left-handed pitching prospect in the organization, get together with Koufax.

    I always like to read and hear these things, but I have no idea if any of that actually helps. I mean, that's what pitching coaches are for, right? In the end I guess another perspective does not hurt and especially the perspective of a guy like Koufax to other lefties.

  • El Duque is what he is. He is not dependable and the Mets also need to understand that he should not be cemented into the rotation. If Pelfrey rises to the occasion and pitches well, he has to get a look. I would rather Pelfrey get a large body of work in the bigs than just have him step in for injured guys. If The Duque goes down for the third year in a row at the end of the season, it could be detrimental yet again.

  • Nothing wrong with a little optimism in regards to John Maine. If he starts off the year right, the Mets should come forward with a long term deal around the All-Star break. He is going to get very expensive at the rate he is going. You think the Orioles would like to call take backs on that deal?

  • You always hear about players with good character and the Twins seemingly have picked up a handful of guys from the Mets that have great character. They have a great take on their situation and they have a great work ethic. Hopefully they impress the Twins with their talent and prove to the baseball universe they were a good pick up.

  • I have no idea if there actually was a problem with Willie and Jose, but Randolph going to his home turf would certainly smooth things over a bit. It is never a bad idea to make your players feel like they are actually part of a family and it certainly goes a long way to making the mental aspect of the game easier. The more comfortable you are the more relaxed you are. The more relaxed you are, the more you can concentrate on just playing the game.

  • I want a nice ten spot put up on Glavine when the Mets face him.

  • John Heyman has an article on Willie.

    Willie Randolph possesses the qualities and credentials a manager in New York most needs: he's battle-tested, he's a winner, he's smart, he communicates well, and if you get to know him, he has a great sense of humor, which is a necessity at a time like this.

    A winner? He was on winning teams, but I don't think that has any thing to do with him being able to win here. As for being smart in the baseball sense, that remains to be seen.

    Mets people have spent a lot of the winter discussing and dissecting ways to improve. But if they think Randolph is going to become a different person, that's unlikely; after all, he rose from his roots being the way he is.

    That would be reason enough for me to get rid of him. He actually needs to change a lot. Let us hope he is actually capable of change.

  • So pretty....eyes tearing......until I remember that they Mets are trying to screw me out of my partial season ticket package.

  • Pitches were throw by Padilla and Sanchez and their arms remained attached to their bodies. Good stuff.

  • The Mets are not letting Jose be Jose. I would not make a big deal out of every hard hit ball to the fence. It seems quite silly.

  • Things are looking bleak for Joe Smith in the bullpen. He posted a 123 ERA+ in 2007 and thought he did have a rough second half, it looked like he was out of gas. He also had a .516 BABIP which is just silly and something that won't continue. He is a pretty good guy to have stashed in the bullpen and things are looking really, really, really deep in at least one area of this Met ball club.
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