Welcome to the inaugural #spinit post, where I try to be cloyingly positive about reader-submitted topics. To submit a topic for me to ‘spin’, tweet (And follow) me @Ceetar with the hashtag #spinit or email me at email@example.com.
— MK (@attgig) January 14, 2013
It’d be easy to simply reference the blind nut principle with bullpens; sooner or later these relievers are going to have good years, but I don’t think that’s necessary. The Mets bullpen has the potential to be pretty good in 2013, and certainly ‘decent’ is a low bar.
Bobby Parnell is a good reliever. He was their best reliever last year, and he throws hard. That’s a start. The Mets have a handful of fringe type prospects and young pitchers that can throw some that they can mix and match in the bullpen. Guys like Josh Edgin, Robert Carson, Elvin Ramirez and even Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia.
The Mets did fill their bullpen with some signings as well. Brandon Lyon is usually pretty good. He can certainly help.
LaTroy Hawkins is 40 years old, but he’s been pretty reliable as a pitcher over the years. He put up a decent year last year after an awesome one for the Brewers in 2011. If he has anything less in the tank, he should be good for some innings.
Pedro Feliciano re-signed with the Mets. He’s always been an excellent lefty reliever, and if he’s sufficiently recovered from the woes associated with being a Yankee, he could definitely be an asset.
Another pickup to keep an eye on is Greg Burke. Burke made some mechanic adjustments that led to a really terrific year for the Orioles AAA team. He throws side-arm now, and can hopefully use his newfound delivery to get some big outs for the Mets in 2013.
Bullpens are so often a crap shoot, but with the young arms and the potential of some of the other guys, there’s a good chance it can be a strength for the Mets in 2013. This is without mentioning Frank Francisco as a bounce back candidate. He really under-performed his peripherals last season, so perhaps this year he has a less volatile year and locks down his innings.
There is no doubt that the trade Sandy Alderson is in the process of pulling off is a good one. We still aren’t aware of some of the finer details, but the Mets are adding two top prospects, John Buck, and a third minor leaguer, for R.A. Dickey, Josh Thole, and a minor prospect. Dickey is one of the best pitchers in the league, and he still may be a top of the line starter for a couple of years, but the Mets are adding players that may still be having a positive impact on the team six years from now. It’s certainly possibly they may not flourish, particularly the much farther away Noah Syndergaard, but the probability favors the Mets in that regard.
The problem is the immediate future. Travis d’Arnaud, the catcher the Mets are receiving, will probably be up to the majors very soon, if not on Opening Day. John Buck will likely be on the team in the interim, and probably shift to a backup role when d’Arnaud gets called up. Together it’s unlikely they provide as much value as R.A. Dickey, and that means a team already under .500 is probably taking a step back before pushing forward. That’s disheartening for most fans, whose number one concern is the current roster of players on the field. Many of us would rather root for the guys we have to succeed, particularly when they’re great ones like Dickey, than reinvest emotion in new guys that are merely promising to be great. Ultimately though what the fans want doesn’t matter because winning is what brings in the fans, the attention, and the money. It’s not out of the question that d’Arnaud plus the pitcher the Mets replace Dickey with is worth more than Dickey and Thole would’ve been, but it doesn’t seem like a good bet for 2013 nor the type of improvement the Mets need to climb out of 4th place if it does happen.
That’s where the disappointment comes in; this trade does not make the Mets better in the foreseeable future. Sure, it raises the probability that they are better down the line, but it’s also important that this player is going to be cheap and under team control for a long time. Fans can forgive losing star players, whether homegrown ones or adopted ones, when the team placed in front of them excites and captures their attention, but so far I’m not so sure the 2013 version is in position to do that. Especially if we don’t get an impact bat for the outfield and instead go with Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and a platoon of Mike Baxter and 2013′s version of Scott Hairston. We heard a lot about the present value of contracts with the David Wright negotiations, and that concept applies to winning seasons too; a winning season in the present is worth more than one in the future. Good process only gets you so far, and there are plenty of inherent risks between now and then that could sabotage the plan. A clearly improved 2013, even if it ultimately falls short, could create the excitement that draws fans in, fans that will continue to come in 2014. The message lately has felt like it’s not worth investing in this team yet, which keeps ticket sales and revenue down; revenue that could make the job of creating a winner in 2014 easier. It’d be unfair to assume Sandy Alderson’s going to take the rest of the offseason off at this juncture, meaning he could still improve the team and the outfield, but it’s hard to see the type of players coming that give this team a “If everything breaks right” chance at the playoffs.
As always with the Mets these last three years, the money question is always looming. Partial sales, which included Sterling money invested in the Mets, helped pay off loans and seemed to at least point the Mets in the right direction. Allusions were made to a payroll in 2013 at or above 2012′s number. The deferred contracts and negotiations seem to point in a different direction, although it is still possible that Sandy Alderson spends most of that money on players that make the Mets better. It’s never a good idea to expect much direct truth from a general manager, that’s not their job, but given the message that the actions are sending it feels pretty hard to do more than guess at the plan. The Mets appear to be in a holding pattern and I just hope they get clearance to land before they run out of gas.
I like to call this spot the Subway Section because it’s reminiscent of view from the subway platform outside of Shea Stadium where you could peek into the stadium. These photos are taken from just behind the right field scoreboard, next to the entrance to the Excelsior level inside corridor. You can watch replays on one of the televisions directly to your left.
It affords you a view right into the Pepsi Porch as well and if you look down, the World’s Fare Market concourse. In my eye this section includes the walkway to the Pepsi Porch, which doesn’t afford much in the way of real viewpoints of the game, but still offers a tease as you walk between sections.
Here’s a shot of the original “Subway Section” from Opening Day 2007.
As well as being a Mets blogger, I’m also a homebrewer. My mother got me a homebrew kit for Christmas one year, and it’s grown into a fun hobby. Recently I’ve taken my game to the next level, making beers that I feel are actually good instead of just drinkable.
Naming the beers is half the fun. Often I like to think of a Mets related name, and sometimes even labels to go with it. I first did this with a toasted coconut brown ale that I dubbed Oliver Perez is Coco-Nutz. Most recently I created a Hefeweizen with strawberries that is really more of a Berliner Weisse, but who needs precise labels anyway?
I decided to call it Darryl Strawberry Hefeweizen.
I’m out of the country starting last night through September 30th, so I requested some Twitter questions to make a quick and easy post. This is that post, submitted for your enjoyment while I tour Amsterdam, Munich for Oktoberfest, and Prague.
@ceetar What makes you think you can rely on Twitter for Friday Q&A questions when you’re strapped for time?
— Ted Berg (@OGTedBerg) September 10, 2012
That’s an easy one. I learned from the best. If you don’t know, Ted routinely does a Friday Twitter Q&A at Tedquarters. I wonder if Metsopotamia is big enough for TWO Q&A posts this Friday. To truly make this ridiculous, I’m going to schedule a tweet to this post for Ted on Friday in hopes of getting the Internet stuck in a recursion error.
Amusingly, I had responded to a question by Emily Ragle on this earlier in the week.
She asked: “#craftbeer fans: Do any of you actually have a favorite beer? I can’t ever choose, and it’s the most common question I’m asked.”
So my response will be the same one I gave her: It depends on my mood and the season. Right now for example I recently had a Founders Cerise, which is a delicious Michigan cherry fermented ale, and it’s the first thing to come to mind. I’ll be in Oktoberfest in eight days though, and Oktoberfest/fall is still my favorite beer season, so that would get a nod if someone asking was looking for recommendations. Visiting Hawaii two years ago I discovered a Toasted Coconut Ale at Kona Brewing Company that I absolutely fell in love with. If you’d asked me before visiting the isles, I would’ve told you I didn’t like coconut, and now I love it. I actually created a similar homebrew recipe for it, and it’s recently become available on the mainland in bottles and called Kona Koko Brown.
But this question is misleading. Paul asks for my favorite beer of all time, and I haven’t yet experienced all of time yet. I’ve been drinking craft beer for less than 10 years, and there are some really amazing beers that just haven’t been thought of yet. So unless I stumble upon a TARDIS, I’m going to reserve final judgement.
— JD (@Section518) September 10, 2012
More beer questions? I thought I wrote a Mets blog? Fittingly enough, Eno Sarris was talking about IPAs on Twitter recently so I had this answer readily available as well. It’s Sixpoint Resin. ”Whatever flames upon the night. Man’s own resinous heart has fed.” The beer is 9.1% alcohol and a whopping 103 IBU. (International bittering units. 103 is extremely high) It comes in a nifty narrow green nanokeg (can) that I once heard someone describe as fitting perfectly among shampoo bottles in the shower. IPAs can be a sore point for people that want to like more beer but find it daunting. The bittering often turns people off, and is definitely an acquired taste. A good IPA that I like to recommend is Flying Fish Hopfish; I find the malt in it balances the bitterness extremely well and makes for a delicious beer that’s not too harsh.
At least ‘ballpark’ is a baseball word, from the Banner Day winner. This is a tough one. At Oktoberfest beer is only served in liter-sized steins, called Maß and pronounced ‘mas. These go for nearly 10 Euros, which as of this writing goes for about $12.8 since the Euro is doing it’s best 2007 Mets imitation and collapsing. Plenty of beer in New York City is $5 for a pint, plus a dollar tip, so the prices doesn’t even seem bad. Still, drinking liters of beer in one sitting in one tent is probably a poor way to see Oktoberfest, Munich, or Europe in general.
We will be there for 15 days, not including the plane travel days. Three days in Amsterdam, Nine in Germany, and four in Prague. Three of these will feature long train rides, and four of them with some extended family of my wife’s, which will probably raise the average amount I drink if what I’m being told about my German in-laws is true. So let’s measure pints, because we’re American and it’s a decent enough beer measurement. Given all the great beer and beer halls and the like around Europe, I suspect I’ll be drinking every day and mostly beer. I’m going to guess three pints a day on average, with the travel days and jet-lag days dragging the average down. So I’ll figure 45 pints of beer. Feel free to weigh in over or under in the comments. Assigning a, probably low, 200 calorie value to a beer, that’s 9000 calories which I’ll need to run ~50 miles on treadmill when I get back to burn off.
@ceetar will you be even slightly tempted to check mets scores while away?
— Stephanie Giangrande (@ItsStephanieG) September 10, 2012
Yay, Mets questions! When I started planning this trip early in the year, before the season even started, I knew there was a possibility I could be missing some big baseball games. Clearly that’s not the case, and the way the Mets are playing right now is frustrating. 7:10 starts are 1:10 am starts in Germany however, so I imagine I’ll check in in the morning while checking email. I’m sad there are only three games left, the final series in Miami, that I can watch though, and will probably click open a boxscore to see if David Wright has collected the hits needed to pass Kranepool for most in franchise history, if R.A. Dickey collected a win, or just to see who had a good game.
Greatest team ever, obviously. Baseball is the greatest sport ever, with the possible exception of Calvinball, so the best team ever would have to be a baseball team. New York is the greatest city in the world, so clearly the best team would be located in that city right? The designated hitter is an abomination, eliminating the transplants from Baltimore, the Yankees. The Giants and Dodgers have now played more games in California than New York. The Mets, born of New Yorkers’ thirst for National League baseball, are clearly the greatest. Q.E.D.
— Jeff H (@darknova306) September 10, 2012
Everything I’ve read about Oktoberfest suggests I’ll have lots of stories. I suspect I’ll even tell some of them, probably at the non-Mets blog Garden Variety New Yorker, where I tend to post stuff I think should probably stay off a Mets blog. I’m sure if I have WiFi here and there I’ll be tweeting the occasional European observation and picture. I bet Jeff would appreciate a picture of the traditional Bavarian beer maid carrying way too many Maß of beer as well. I’ve heard great things about Prague, and clearly it’s Beltran’s fault I’ll eventually have to leave there.
Thanks for the questions everybody. I’m scheduling this for Friday morning, and by then It’ll be afternoon in Amsterdam and I’ll have just arrived. I’m probably sitting on a rooftop bar at the hotel looking out over the city right now.
I ended a Citi Field drought Saturday by making it out to the park for Mike Piazza bobblehead day. You can check him out in my new header image.
I was finally able to have the Steak Sandwich from Pat LaFrieda. It was delicious, as confirmed by a billion other people at this point. Also confirmed by others, but worth posting here for completeness’ sake, the beer selection. No new beers available, despite rumors/hopes that other Sixpoint nano-kegs would be present, but you do get Sixpoint Sweet Action, Brooklyn 16oz cans, and three pints of the mass produced variety.
The Mets won, which was nice to see. They even scored three runs! The crowd, understandably, was dead. There was no Lets Go Mets chant until the 9th inning, and the scoreboard barely prompted us to cheer. There was an annoying bunch beyond us that wanted to scream for long periods of times when Dickey struck someone out..mercifully R.A. Dickey only struck out two.
Realizing my chances were running low, I got a Carvel Sunday in an ice cream helmet, so I could add the 50th anniversary helmet cap to my collection. The ice cream hit the spot too.
Tejada made a really neat jump and fake on a throw to third from Scott Hairston. It kept Greene from taking an extra base on the throw, and although it’s a play that should probably be made on most chances, it’s still nice to see the Mets putting in the right effort and execution on the fundamentals.
There will be one more Seatcrew.com ticket giveaway in early September.
I’ll be out of the country for the second half of September. Likely without much internet or time. I’m probably going to schedule a bunch of baseball and beer related posts, so keep an eye out for that.
There are very very few people that think Jason Bay should be in the plans for the 2013 Mets. I’m not even convinced Jason Bay thinks it. On the other hand, the Mets need outfielders and Jason Bay technically qualifies as such.
He hit a home run last night which I believe brings his SLG up to .297. Luis Castillo is a better slugger than that. I truly believe the concussions may have had a huge effect on Jason Bay and that he’s still not right. There’s so much we don’t know about concussions and the things you need to do to be a successful baseball player require a level of focus and reaction time that is based in the brain. Reasons and excuses aside, the question remains as to whether Jason Bay has any chance at returning to being a capable major league outfielder, and if he can do so by early 2013 for the next time the Mets expect to play games that matter.
The time remaining in this season is not substantial, but it’s just enough to plant the seed of hope. So I ask you, what can Jason Bay do in the remaining games on the schedule to make you believe their is a chance he can contribute next year. I’m not asking for you to be convinced the Mets should keep him around, just what it would take for you to think “Maybe he can be a Scott Hairston next year..” and believe it. 10 home runs? 20? An OPS of .900 the rest of the way? Watching him consistently identify and crush bad pitches?
Remember that the Mets currently have pretty much none of their outfield spots set in stone for 2013, so the floor to make this team is theoretically pretty low. Is it Jason Bay low? Answer in the comments or tweet @ceetar.
It’s time again for a ticket giveaway, courtesy of seatcrew.com, the secondary ticket marketplace with no fees. This time you have a chance to win two tickets to the Mets game against the Colorado Rockies on Monday August 20th. Right now that’s lined up to be an R.A. Dickey start.
How many hits will the Mets get against Ben Sheets and the Braves this Sunday night?
The closest answer that is equal to or greater than the actual amount of hits the Mets get wins the prize. This means it’s better to be optimistic and go over than have the Mets outhit your guess. In case of a tie, tell me how many of those hits will be David Wright’s.
Answers must be submitted before first pitch on Sunday night, August 12th to
No team has ever been as bad as the Mets are playing right now. It’s foolish to think that this stretch is more representative of the team than the previous 80 or so games that came before it, where they were playing fringe-playoff level baseball. The Mets will turn it around soon. Someone will get really hot with the bat, someone else (maybe the Diamondbacks) will get really poor pitching. The randomness of baseball will fall in the Mets favor and they’ll win some of these games.
It might be too late, especially considering the Mets have lost five starting pitchers to injury and ineffectiveness (Schwinden, Batista, Santana, Gee, Pelfrey), to make the playoffs, but they can still have a good run the rest of the way. You never know when a playoff spot falls into your lap. The Tampa Bay Rays were 6.5 out at this point last year, and 9 behind the team they ultimately beat out for the spot. Ultimately it’s about playing good baseball to keep yourself in a position to capitalize on opportunities to make the playoffs. This is why full rebuilding mode rarely works out; by the time the team has been rebuilt, it’s full of it’s own set of maybes and what-ifs that leave you wondering if they’re good enough. Building a baseball team is a very fluid process full of dozens of unseen pitfalls for even the smartest of general managers.
So if you’re one of those fans or writers that looks at winning streaks with a “This will never last” attitude, and are quick to tout preseason guesses to the Mets record whenever they struggle, pipe down. Preseason predictions are merely something used to fill columns and pass the time while we wait for the season to start; no one should take them seriously, particularly not over a 90-100 game sample of real data. Similarly, if you were treating this season like a rebuilding year and didn’t count the results.. pipe down. It’s okay to have no expectations, you believe what you believe, but it doesn’t make you a better fan to stubbornly ignore the actual purpose of the season. Playoff teams sneak up on you all the time, and the Mets had plenty of opportunity to seize a hold on one. Just because you’ve decided that 2014 is the first year the Mets have a chance to compete and Sandy Alderson is some magical genie that will defeat all the unpredictable ups and downs of prospects, players, and injuries doesn’t mean we should ignore 2012 and 2013 and all the random excitement it brings. These are not exhibition games.
The Mets will get back to their winning ways and rattle off a nice winning stretch of games. They very well might yet finish above .500. It’s not even completely out of the question that they win nine of 10 games and shrink the wild card lead. It’s not a given that the wild card teams are all going to play as well as they’ve been playing. It’s not even a given that the Nationals will continue their 96 win pace. That’s a lot of wins. While things aren’t looking great now, everything’s still just a solid win streak away.
You’d be optimistic too if you started more mornings like this. Coffee pot on auto-start so my quality Kauai coffee is ready when I wake up to put in my Mets travel mug to take with me to work. That travel mug is one of the few Mets giveaways that’s held up well over the years. I don’t remember when I got this one, but it’s gotten semi-regular use over the years.