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

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Run Differential

So the Mets have now scored 119 runs and given up 118. Basically, they are a .500 team. To the naked eye, they have looked like a .500 team to this point so that is not really all that surprising. I know they are better than this and Mr. Billy Wagner knows they are better than this.

"It's very easy to say, 'Hey, yeah, you're going to have these games,' and you will have these games," Wagner said. "But when there's not a lot of effort and a lot of desire, that's when you worry.

"I just think that today we just didn't show up. I'm not saying that Pittsburgh can't beat the New York Mets. I'm just saying there's no way we should have this lopsided of a score. ... We weren't good at defense. We weren't good at pitching. There was no get up and go. That can't happen."

And about the starting pitcher ...

"Perez has honestly got to step up and know that we've just used every guy in our bullpen the night before," Wagner said. "He can't come out there and decide that, gee, he hasn't got it today and so be it."

When Wagner's words were relayed to Perez, the hot-and-cold, 2-2 lefty said, "I don't have a problem with that. I didn't do my job."

Randolph said it was a combo of faulty focus and mechanical failure: "Choose the one you like."

Many people dislike him, but I happen to think Wagner is a good guy who is not afraid to shake things up a bit. At this point, the Mets need to shake things up a bit.

"That's my job," Reyes said, "to be at the left-field line there."

Randolph saw it another way.

"Those are mental mistakes," he said. "That's just a lack of focus on that particular play."

And now you have the player thinking he knows more than the manager. Which he probably does, but it certainly speaks volumes to me about what is going on here. This team is very talented and seemingly very listless. The good news is their first month of baseball was a month in which they played better than .500 ball and no one else really grabbed the division.

However, this team needs to wake up and start playing a lot better if they plan to excise some demons.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

All Quient On the Met Front

Yup. No new news. Nothing. Nothing at all. So, we'll just go back to yesterday's post. Let me clarify things a bit and just make it clear that I do think players at times appear soft and appear to have lost their edge. I complain often about how these thin skinned cry baby players are just gigantic babies when they get all offended if the opposite team celebrates when something good happens.

The push to make robot players with no emotion is a truly bizarre one because colorful people make the game exciting. That being said, the fact that I think baseball players might be thin skinned at times does not have much to do with this situation. Right, I get when people say they should just man up and deal with the booing, but they are still getting killed at home before the game even gets going. Before they even have a chance to do something bad, the boos come raining down.

We are talking about sucking homefield advantage out of the equation and really creating an atmosphere that is less hospitable than when they go away sometimes. When they go down to Florida, it seems they have more support to me. Plenty fans of the Mets are there and actually cheer the team on. You can always hear some nice Mets chants and hear the support.

The only over .500 team last season to have a below .500 home record? The Mets. I'm not saying this has anything to do with it, but it is worth noting. I am just as frustrated as anyone else because the Mets are my favorite team, but it all seems a bit out of control. Enough of me talking...

You are not. The booing has gone beyond ridiculous. I think writing it off as "bandwagoneers" is maybe a little simplistic, but I'm at a loss as to how else to explain it. Certainly nobody who's sat through more than a handful of years of Met baseball can be that impatient.

I get being frustrated by listless play. I've thrown more than one shoe at the radio already this season, but for the love of god. If you hate this team and its players so much that you're willing to voice your disapproval at the drop of a hat, then why the hell are you spending money on the tickets? Just for the opportunity to boo? Isn't that what the Knicks are for? (And, by the way, I do think that situation has informed this one, at least a bit).

I'm all for booing when it's waranted. But, like Delgado's take on curtain calls, I think it rarely is, at least when the home team's involved. Hell, I'm not even much for booing the visitors, with some extremely notable exceptions.

Booing Milledge earlier this season, for instance. Fuck the heck?!?

I digress ...

We're losing it fast, I'm afraid. It doesn't help that the fans are feeling screwed by ownership (ticket prices up, etc.), but in the typical management/labor dychotomy, I'd think that would bring regular joes like us closer to the team.

The sad thing is, these Mets may very well need the full-blooded support of their vocal fanbase this season. Shit, we should be working to make sure they want to win for us. All this booing is, essentially, asking them to become the very thing I think many folks think they're booing: bored, self-serving, in-it-for-the-money players. What the hell else is their motivation if they get told how much they suck every time they come home?

Not to get too personal or anything, but after round about 14 years of being told I didn't measure up, not getting any lovin' and working my fingers to the bone for no apparent reason, I eventually moved out of the house. Now I'm busting my balls to make due as a single dad, but it's a hell of a lot better than putting up with the bullshit.

I took the metaphor too far, but the point is I think we'd all better start showing these players a good time in the sack before we get served with some divorce papers in the form of a .500 season. We need them to want to win for us, the relationship needs to be a two-way street, we need to show a little bit of unconditional love now and then, so they know we value their hard work.

(Which is certainly not a call for rainbows and puppydogs and kitten pie, for christsake. We should sure as hell call 'em like we see 'em, but goddamnit, if I'm shelling out the money to go to a game to support this franchise with which I've lived and died since I was 6 years old, I'm sure as hell not going to waste my time telling them how much I hate them - even if I do at that particular moment. That's what blog comment sections are for).


A classic rant by Chris, but there is a lot of truth there. I do understand that the end of '07, ticket prices, and seemingly blasé attitude of the players have concocted an explosive situation. I am in the same boat. I get my Sunday package, I went to the last game of the season last year and witnessed the horrific game, and I pay too much for hot dogs and beer after shelling out what seems like $50 between gas and tolls to get to games only to see handsomely paid players seemingly mail it in.

It is a bad thing. Considering that the average fans has had to put up with the past 10-15 years such as steroids, strikes, absurd costs to go to a game, smaller stadiums which make it harder for average fan, skyrocketing ridiculous salaries, lack of accountability, and the ultimate pussy-fying of the game on the field, the players should be kissing all of our lily white, and brown (and all colors in between) asses!

We need baseball to go back to the 1970s-80s when it was a man's game...not the MTV/ESPN pinball version we see on TV the past several seasons.

Baseball 70s style: When men were men and fat guys were all stars.

I am not saying the fans need to dish out a heaping helping as ass kissing or that booing is completely unacceptable, but there seems to be a big rift between a lot of fans and the players and that is in both directions. We have seen this before and if the Mets turn it around and boos turn into cheers, there will be some lingering 'fuck you' thoughts from the players back out to the fans. Right or wrong, it is probably going to happen.

In fact, the boos serve the opposite purpose, the players get tighter and under-perform. Remember the time that there was that one player who was underachieving and not trying hard, but then the fans booed him a bunch and he realized he was sucking, so because of the boos, he turned his career around and started trying? Yeah, that doesn't exist. The boos can only hurt.

It seems sort of backwards, doesn't it? You are trying to hurt the team you supposedly love.

And really, the "That's baseball in NY" argument is so tired. Tell that to Philly fans or Boston fans. It's passionate, but ill-informed fan behavior. I thought Mets fans were a little smarter, but apparently not. We're just the same as anybody else, if not worse.

Which is what I'm saying. Why make a contentious atmosphere? Booing is fine at times, but Shea is becoming an ugly place to play when Johan Santana pitches well for the Mets this season and gets booed. Think about it. I'm not saying Johan got mad or really was affected, but it certainly says something and I do think that other players take note that New York's stands are filled with douches.

Ultimately money talks and trumps all, but maybe the fact that a player does not feel like dealing with 'New York fans being New York fans' comes into play eventually. They can get paid anywhere, why should they do it here?

I agree with most of the sentiments here, and I rarely boo anyone at sporting events, least of all the Mets.

Having said that, I think that Omar and the organization brought this upon themselves a bit by failing to hold anyone accountable for '07. It was The Collapse, sure, but in truth outside of a short spurt in August, it was a team that underachieved and seemed to lack focus and motivation all season, and everyone who was paying attention knew it. By the time The Collapse happened, as historic as it was, it wasn't all that surprising.

Randolph had to be fired, his professional blood spilled as a purification ritual. I'm serious about that. Someone had to be held accountable for breaking the hearts of half of New York City. When that didn't happen, you just knew that this team was going to be on a very short leash in terms of the patience of their fans. Trading for/buying Santana was a nice gesture, but it didn't address the issue.

The booing, of course, as has been noted by so many here, will only tend to make the players less inspired, and it's a vicious cycle. A new leader, a new voice - both in the clubhouse and in the media - would have gone a long way towards helping the wounds heal. The decision not to do that is haunting this franchise in a very serious way.

I actually do not think this gets brought up enough. Getting Johan assuaged some of the anger, but apparently not enough. This scene is all too familiar and at some point ownership or Omar needs to make a statement. Getting rid of Willie and getting someone with an outward greater sense of urgency and legitimacy would have helped.

Willie has seemed like a bumbling fool in my eyes since day number one with little idea of how to navigate his team through the season but was lucky enough to get saddled with enough talent to cover up his many deficiencies. The Mets were not bereft of solid managerial options either. Being that they love the ride the '86 vibe to death and Gary Carter has proved himself a worthy as a manager, it seems almost too convenient. However, now, the Mets missed their opportunity and the bad blood lives on.

Excellent point that I failed to bring up previously. I think that this whole booing issue would not exist to this extreme had there been some accountability for September. I think the feeling among fans (and I could be wrong, I can't speak for the entire fan base) may have been that they were taken for granted after The Collapse™ by the front office.

Now I don't know if firing Wilie would have been the action to take, given it was a complete and total team and front office effort, and given that Willie was one year off a playoff appearance, som in essence, 2006 may have saved Willie's job after 2007.

But this is a new year and my feeling is that ownership has issued a silent mandate to "win or else" this year to Willie, with Omar on notice next in line should Randolph get the axe.

Was it all Wilie's fault? No. He cannot make the players perform, but he wasted a lot of wins by simply running Mota out there, generally mishandling the bullpen, and not letting the best players play 100% of the time. To me, that is very bad thing and he failed to motivate his team. It is that simple to me and the main reasoning as to why I think Willie should be gone. No Willie + Johan + new manager = a longer honeymoon between the fans and the '08 Mets. Again, the Mets failed to act as they have in so many instances and created what can only be called an ugly situation.

Am I being a little overdramatic? Probably, but it is clear that there is a problem that needs fixing. The only way to fix it is a ridiculous hot streak with a comfortable cushion between 1st and 2nd place or a playoff birth. However, with all the bad blood, either might a bit harder to achieve.

* * *

  • People talk Delgado.

    An arbitrary fun-fact from Sherman, "In the past 25 years, just one champion has had a regular first baseman older than 32 (the 2001 Diamondbacks with 37-year-old Mark Grace)." Delgado's making $16MM this season, and although 35 is often a notorious age at which batters decline, this cliff fall is not the norm. Still, a contract of that magnitude will keep Delgado in New York for at least a short while longer.

    In Buster Olney's latest, he speculated Delgado's release, which seems to be slightly more than speculation at this point. Olney cited Xavier Nady or Scott Hatteberg as potential replacements should the Mets want to trade for a replacement. Nady, however, might not be available until the Pirates say "uncle."

    Hard to envision them simply cutting Delgado, but one has to wonder how much longer this can go on. His .205/.300/ .341 line and his OPS+ of 74 is rather putrid. His OPS+ has went from 161, 129, 161, 131, 103, to 74. While I thought he would be better than this, it is quite reasonable that the man has simply lost it. While I previously agreed with Benny that Delgado can only go up from here, I am starting to think I might want to rescind that statement because I think Delgado can dish out some negative value in 2008.

    The positive thing is that it does seem that Willie gets it and has dropped Delgado in the batting order.

    More Delgado stuff.

    "It's not nice when they boo you (at home), sometimes unfairly," he said. "But who am I to say? I'm not going to stand on the top step and say, 'Don't boo.' I think it's wrong, but nobody's going to listen to me. All I'm saying is we want the fans to be on our side. We haven't been playing that great, all we have to do is play better."

  • The boo-talk is getting boring, but Mary Noble has some good words on the topic.

    As does Bob Raissman.

    "You really can judge people on a baseball team when things aren't going good," Ron Darling said on Ch. 11. "That's when you see the real personality and toughness of your teammates."
    If Darling had substituted the words "fans of" for "people on," he would've expanded his point. It would have been a great one. But it's a rare day when a broadcaster, or any media member for that matter, dares criticize fans.

  • Keith Law talks the draft.

    First baseman Eric Hosmer would probably go in the top five to eight picks overall if it wasn't for his reported demand for a signing bonus of $7 million. Neither Hosmer nor his advisor, Scott Boras, responded to requests for comment. Hosmer has incredible bat speed, plus-plus raw power and good athleticism for a corner player; he's above-average defensively at first with an above-average arm, and might be able to slide to right field for a team already locked in at first base. Hosmer gets his hands into great position to offer both contact and power, gets his arms extended on anything that's not in on his hands and accelerates his wrists from his loaded position get the bat to the ball extremely quickly. If Hosmer has a flaw as a hitter, it's on hard stuff inside, where he can get a little tied up. But in Tuesday's game, almost everything he saw was away, including the breaking ball he hit out to dead center field to win the game -- a ball I never saw land.

    Cross your fingers and pray for him to fall.

  • Tampa keeps on keepin' on with the best run differential in the AL East and has scored one less run than the '1000 run Yankee offense'. With the Yankees pitching woes and plethora of DHs, things could get interesting. Mussina's 4.94 ERA seems passable right now, but his 3.29 k/9 is ugly and he is not going to survive pitching to that much contact. Well, maybe he can survive, but he'll be sporting a high era.

    As for Kennedy and Hughes, their future still looks bright, but right now, they are getting smacked around pretty good. I would love to revisit some of those Yankee fan predictions of how many combined wins their trio of young arms would have in '08 because right now they have one. The one win is not coming out of the rotation either and belongs to Joba.

    Tim Marchman goes over the early surprises.

  • Zito might hit the bullpen to work things out. Wow.

    "We've got to do something," said Bochy, after Zito allowed a six-run first inning. "We can't keep doing what we're doing and getting what we're getting."

  • Hattenberg is not happy on the bench.
  • Labels:

    Monday, April 28, 2008

    Getting Late Early

    Oh, it is getting ugly.

    In balance, this was a good day for the tattered relationship between the Mets and their fans. But because it was played in the cauldron of coiled anger and hatred that Shea has become, it had its ups and downs.

    Most of them centered on Carlos Delgado. They booed when his name was announced as a member of the starting lineup. They cheered after his first home run. They asked for a curtain call after his second, and he refused. Some of them booed then, but most seemed to understand.

    There's a lot of work to do here. The Mets and their fans are going to spend this season in couples counseling, and both sides are going to have to do their part. The team can help by grinding out workmanlike wins like the ones they got the past two days -- against the Braves, with clutch hits, solid defense and good late-inning relief work. The fans could help by occasionally letting the team know, with the odd "Let's Go Mets" chant or even an unrequited demand for a curtain call, that they still do want to see them do well.

    It is never a good scene when the fans and players are at odds. It has happened with Beltran before when he refused curtain calls and it is happening now and I would tend to think Delgado is not alone in his displeasure with the fans. Sure, the Mets have been disappointing so far, but they are still in 2nd place and in striking distance of first place.

    Some guys seem to think that a .500 team 25 games into the season is an egregious thing. Give it time. If they are still wallowing around .500 and looking average in another month, then maybe it is clear some things need changing.

    One person familiar with Fred and Jeff Wilpon's philosophy says "the honeymoon is over" for both the manager and general manager. That means the Mets have to do more than simply remain competitive with a mediocre field in the National League. With a $140 million payroll, the Mets should be good enough to run away from the rest of the East; that's the consensus from the franchise's highest echelons. That's why a win over the Braves was symbolically important to the Mets, because it reminded everyone in the clubhouse what efficient baseball feels like.

    They have allowed the 9th fewest runs as a team in the bigs and are 6th in the NL. They have the10th best run differential in the big leagues and the 7th best run differential in the NL. The Mets offense has been very disappointing, but Reyes got off to a slow start and I think that aspect of the Mets has some significant room for growth.

    My perfect season would go something like this:

    1) Mets continue to be average
    2) Willie gets fired after 50 games
    3) Oberkefell or Carters takes over
    4) Mets play .600 ball thereafter with Alou in the lineup and Pedro in the rotation

    I think the fans need to throttle back and put things in perspective a bit. The last thing any Met fans need is the players not liking the fans and having some bad blood. I get that people are upset because of some high expectations that are not getting fulfilled, but did I miss where the Mets stunk it up completely? I think Delgado and Heilman have flat out sucked, but I think drawing the ire of the fans this early and in this manner is a bit ridiculous.

    Delgado could have tried to repair the situation by acknowledging the crowd, but he did not and I think that is a mistake. Also, he might want to start hitting better if he wants the spotlight taken off of him or Willie really just needs to burry him in the 7th spot until he proves Sunday was not a fluke. Regardless of how shitty Delgado is playing, booing a 2nd place team should not get done. I think this divide between the fans and the team is going to wider unless the Mets go on a tear soon which does not seem likely right now. We will know things have gotten bad if Wright stops being Sugary about the topic and thankfully we are not there yet....the operative word there is yet.

    * * *

  • John Smoltz is having some issues.

    If 20 strikeouts in his previous two starts seduced some into thinking John Smoltz might go on like this forever, Sunday served as a reminder that it can't.

    Even the bearded Braves icon can't ignore pain and keep mowing down hitters in perpetuity. Now he'll have his sore shoulder checked to see how bad the wear and tear has become and whether he needs to take some more time off.

    He was so good prior to Sunday that some of the fears about this shoulder had been allayed, but the concerns are back. If the Braves are going to have any shot, they need him to be healthy.

  • We all should just forget that Alou exists.

  • Ooooooo boy.

    The central question: Do the Giants continue to let Barry Zito get his brains beaten every time he takes the mound, or do they take what certainly will be an embarrassing public-relations hit and remove their $126 million pitcher from the rotation and try to get him right?

    .336 BAA, 1.95 WHIP, 7.53 ERA, 3.45 k/9, and .73 k/bb. That could of been the Mets $75 million dollar mistake so everyone take a deep breath and thank the baseball gods.

  • The Phillies #2 is not looking like a #2.

    Normally, the righthander's fastball tops out in the low-to-mid 90s. For most of the season, including yesterday's loss, it hasn't cracked 89.

    "I haven't seen a fastball," Manuel said. "It topped out today at 89. Myers is usually 92-95, somewhere in there. I haven't seen the fastball since the start of the season."

    His 5.11 ERA is ugly.

  • Sure Delgado had some spin, but he has been around for a while.

    But Delgado spoke with David Wright, wandered over and sat down next to Carlos Beltran, leaving the fans hanging until they sat down, too. So even on a day that was his best of the season and a win that the team needed, the questions still hung in the air – where was this tenuous relationship headed?

    "First, it surprised me," Delgado said. "Is it for me? What did I do? The way I look at it, fans here are passionate. Sometimes you never know what they're going to do. You hit a home run [and] you have respect for the game. You shake hands with your friends. You don't want to show anybody up. The game goes on. That's the way I felt. I hit a solo home run in the seventh inning. We had a two-run lead and went to a three-run lead. Yeah, it's a big run, but what are you going to do?"

    He gets the idea of a curtain call and that is not showing anyone up. That is between you and the fans. Nice try, but I ain't buying what you are selling.

    Delgado insisted afterward this was no statement. But it was the strongest one yet to define this current reality: Met fans don't like this team too much and the players don't like the fans, either. If there are more days like yesterday and more weekends such as this one, when the Mets recover from a Friday loss to beat co-aces Tim Hudson and John Smoltz, perhaps the relationship can heal.

    Winning a lot heals all, but the players will probably not forget.

    "To some extent it is overdone," Billy Wagner said of the disapproval at Shea that comes quickly and loud. He added, "I think it gets a little malicious with no reason for us."

    As Sherman said, at the first sign of trouble, the booing commences. It could be in the first inning and it could be when the team is winning in the fifth. However, when there is a sniff of some trouble, you can be sure that that the fans will turn.

  • Ryan Church can flash the leather.

  • Mike Carp is enjoying a nice rebound season.

    "It's been fun. I've always had a rough time in April since I signed," said Carp, a ninth-round pick out of Lakewood (Calif.) High in 2004 who had a .232 average during the opening month of his first three full pro seasons. "This year I wanted to prove to the Mets last year was a fluke."

    He has been hitting lefties just as well as he is hitting righties, which is a great sign. The six homers he has hit this season in 24 games is more than half of what he hit in 98 games last season and it seems that he is back on track.
  • Labels: ,