John Franco, Brandon Nimmo, Doc Gooden, etc


Yesterday I had the opportunity to interview John Franco, who was handing out free ice cream in Bryant Park. I got his take on Matt Harvey, Blue Jerseys, Old-Timers Day and even The Cyclone.

 

You should already be voting for David Wright for the All-Star Game, but you should also be voting for Brandon Nimmo to get the last spot in the Futures Game on the Sunday before.  Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero will already be there representing the Mets.

 

Dwight Gooden‘s doing an exclusive Q & A and signing of his book in the Rotunda before tonight’s game. Ticket’s available.

 

Tonight starts the last home stand before the All-Star Game. It’s also Harvey day. Follow me on Twitter for some pregame batting practice pictures and anything else I random take during the game. I’ll be on the hunt for anything that may have showed up for the All-Star Game early..like any of this delicious food.

Mets All-Star Game Apple Parade in NYC

I noticed this giant Apple in Grand Central Station during lunch today, only to discover it was part of something bigger. A Mets Apple Parade!

 

There are 35 apples around New York City, all in Manhattan sans the MLB All-Star Game apple that’s in front of Citi Field. There is one for each team, one for the National League, one for the American League and then two for the departed New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers. (@fletch788 saw the Brooklyn one, also in Grand Central)

 

More info about the Apple Parade.

 

If you Instagram an apple, or 15 of them, you are entered to win a prize which may include World Series tickets.

 

My first instinct was obviously to look up where the Mets apple was, and fittingly it’s in front of/near the SNY offices, but when I got there it was nowhere to be found. Apparently they aren’t all set up yet. We’ll find out shortly if the one at Citi Field is there as the gates open in a couple of hours for tonight’s game. I was sort of hoping the Yankees apple was buried in a deserted alley somewhere, but no such luck; it’s just off Times Square. That may be fitting as Yankee Stadium closely resembles Times Square sometimes.

 

Some of the locations just seem odd though; why is the Los Angeles Dodgers’ apple way up at a T-Mobile in Harlem?

 

Craft Beer At Citi Field: New Additions

I’ve updated the Citi Field Beer List to reflect the changes I noticed on Opening Day.

 

Craft Additions: Sixpoint Bengali Tiger, Kona Big Wave Golden Ale.

Craft Subtractions: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Magic Hat #9, Blue Point Cans.

 

Macro Additions: Redd Apple Ale. Third Shift Amber Lager, Budweiser Black Crown, Beck’s Sapphire.

 

This is a step back. The Bengali Ale is really nice, but the pushing of the more macro crafty imitations is poor when it seems to have come at the expense of some real beer. Still no dark beer to be seen.

 

I was very focused on baseball yesterday and haven’t gotten to do a full sweep of Citi Field or found my way into any of the clubs to see if there’s a hidden nugget. There are probably a couple of new additions I’ve missed, somewhere, and I’ll be back to find them.

 

Things i’m looking for on Opening Day

today while I share my observations and pictures from Opening Day.

 

Quick bullet point type list of things I”ll be scoping out today because I procrastinated this post and now it’s late.

 

Trackman thingy. I found this article very interesting, and am going to see if I can find the panel.

 

New Beer. Is there any new beer, and what is it?

 

New food. Most of the new food has been previewed some, but I’ll still be checking it out and getting a feel for what’s new.

 

There’s always new signs and kiosks and advertising. Subtle changes in the way Citi Field operates. I’m always interested in those things, the way the escalators run, how the security is behaving. That sort of thing.

 

Tailgate and Mets fan friends. Checking in with all the fun fans and bloggers that I rarely see anywhere but at Citi Field. It’s a new season, let’s have some fun!

 

And of course, most importantly, a Mets win! Let’s go Jon Niese!

Opening Day Is Coming: Prepare Yourself!

photo by CeetarWe’ve got some World Baseball Classic games to keep us warm for now, but Opening Day is right around the corner. It’s staying lighter at night longer now, the weather is starting to warm a little, and baseball is less than three weeks away. It’s time to prepare yourself.

 

Catch up on television and clean out your DVRs. Once baseball arrives you’ll find a lot less time to watch those shows.

 

Get your fantasy drafts ready. If you’re planning on playing in one this year, now’s the time to start getting them settled so you have some headway to make trades and adjust your bench before the season starts.

 

Load up your fridge with beer (If you’re the drinking type/age anyway). Even if I’m not at the game I like to have a beer to open the season, it just seems natural. Opening Day at the park is usually pretty chilly, which is one of the reasons I’ve been advocating a nice porter or stout at Citi Field, maybe this year my wish will come true.

 

Remember your Twitter friends’ real names. If you’re like me you’re always running into fellow fans at Citi Field that you know on the internet. I always find it slightly awkward to introduce myself as Ceetar (but if I say Michael, how will you know who I am?), so sometimes it’s worth remember what people call themselves out there in that crazy real world.

 

What are some of the other things you like to get squared away for the start of the baseball season?

Sandy Alderson Conference Call With Bloggers

You can read a full recap at Amazin’ Avenue.

 

Sandy had spoken earlier about not having been tempted yet to trade some pitching depth for a really good outfielder, or for anything else, but he then rattled off a dozen or so names and talked about the minor league roster crunch and that perhaps he’d be tempted soon. My question was meant to be a followup to that, where I asked, or tried to ask, what would push that temptation to the point that a trade is made?

 

He responded with a lot of talk about how close they came to making some moves with Bourn or Upton, and talked confidentially about the club, but it did dance around the question a bit. I was trying to figure out what the factor would be that changed his mindset from tempting to need and if part of the temptation might stem from the current plan getting derailed a little bit?

 

Perhaps if I could’ve asked a followup question I would’ve asked “If the Mets had won 83 games last year instead of what they did, is it more likely you would’ve traded for Upton?” What I was really looking for is if the temptation to trade these players is going to be the result of the team’s success, or is going to drive the team’s success. When does focus shift from making shrewd transactions to needing to acquire the player you want, even if it’s an overpay. Is it only when adding a player like Justin Upton makes the Mets a favorite to make the playoffs, or can it be done simply to make the team better and let other factors, such as long-term success from Zack Wheeler, be what puts them over the top?

Spin It: The Bullpen Can Be Good

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 ceetar@ceetar.com.

 

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.

Disappointment Over A Good Mets Trade

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.

Views of Citi Field

View from the "Subway Section" by Ceetar

 

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.

 

Photo taken from the "Subway Section" by Ceetar

 

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.

 

"Subway Section" at Citi Field, by Ceetar

Here’s a shot of the original “Subway Section” from Opening Day 2007.

 

Shea Stadium, from the Subway Platform, by Ceetar

 

 

 

 

Mets Beer: Darryl Strawberry Hefeweizen

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.

Homebrewed by MAD Brewery.