These days most pitchers and catchers are in camp days earlier, and the position players are showing up earlier and earlier too. Thanks to the Mets acquiring a popular training program and moving it to Port St. Lucie, many players have been down there sporadically all winter, working out and getting ready for the season.
What we’re really counting down to when we talk about pitchers and catchers is to the day many of the media and beat writers start covering the team from Spring Training. The day is less about the start of baseball season and more about the start of forced columns about how guys are in the best shape of their lives. It’s basically beat writers taking attendance of all the players walking through the door.
What we’re really looking for is the first game against another opponent. The first game is Wednesday March 4th, and it’s the first game on the radio as well. We’ll get Josh Lewin’s voice, and perhaps Howie Rose’s as well if he can pop over to Florida between Islanders games in Dallas and Nashville, and the sounds of baseball in our ears. That’s when things start getting real, when two teams face off each other and half-heartedly try to get each other out while preparing for the regular season. The first television/SNY broadcast will probably be Friday March 6th against the Tigers.
It’s 20 days until the first Mets Spring Training game.
Simple, yet colorful. Blue and Orange.
On January 10th is the second annual Queens Baseball Convention at McFaddens Citi Field. If you talk to anyone that was there last year, you know that it was generally considered a blast, and this year will be even better. It’s basically the Mets fanfest you’ve always wished the Mets would hold, just held by fans–specifically Shannon and Mediagoon of Metspolice, Darren of The7Line and associated friends.
That includes me. I had a blast last time helping out and chatting with everyone about the Met and Baseball on a cold winter day. There were players, autographs, interesting panels and Mr. Met, and this year will be even better. I’ll be on hand wearing a jersey with ‘Ceetar’ on the back, so I’ll be easy to spot. (Last year I wore a Pagan jersey)
There’s plenty going on, as you can see from the website. My favorites are Josh Lewin being on hand to host the awards session. Mookie Wilson and Wally Backman will be there doing a panel and autographs. Ed Charles will accept the Gil Hodges Unforgettable Fire Award.
The calendar will just have turned and the holidays are in the rear view mirror. We’ll all be missing baseball and here’s a great way to get your fix with fellow fans. There’s even a t-shirt option with your ticket! Why not come out to the park and have a good time?
It’s understandable to be frustrated with the Mets results over the last few years, but your frustration does not necessitate the Mets approaching the winter meetings, or the offseason in general, in any different way. They’re still going to do what they need to do, and aren’t going to let four random days in December force them into a move they’re not ready to make. In the digital age the advantage of having so many baseball people in one place at the same time is mostly negated by cellphones and the internet. Everyone’s available at any time, and there is even more pressure on GMs. I wonder if they even sleep. Did Brian Sabean finally cave and call Sandy Alderson at 3am, “Fine, you can have Wheeler.”?
There are no bonus points for getting things done this week. It’s great for the writers because there are a lot of people to talk to in one place, and there are things going on, but just because writers have more to say doesn’t mean there is any added obligation to make something happen for them.
It’s a long season, and the Mets have already started adding and moving pieces. Yes, there is work to do, and yes they’ve fielded an incomplete team in years past, but not completing the roster in December doesn’t lose them any games. Get back to me in April.
I realize this is one of those debates that everyone is firmly entrenched on either side, but here it is cropping up again. Jenrry Mejia’s post-save celebrations have often been somewhat demonstrative and his most recent save over the Nationals tipped the scale enough to bring up the tired old ‘hey, that’s now how things are done!’ argument.
I can’t quite figure out why anyone cares. There are no style points in baseball and some players have always worn their hearts on their sleeves. There is no code of conduct and there’s no reason to try to force players to play by your set of standards. As Mejia said himself, if you don’t want to see him save a game…well, beat him.
It’s even more ridiculous for this to have spun a media cycle where crotchety beat writers, who hate when anything interesting happens after the 6th inning, whipped the story into enough of a frenzy that Terry Collins actually had to address it with Mejia.
There are the entertainers, we are the entertainees. Why get up in arms when they do just that? You don’t tell the magician to tone down his flourishes, don’t tell Brad Pitt how he should portray his character. Let’s stop trying to bland-down the game of baseball.
Let’s stop worrying about how much emotion the players show, and worry more about getting Mejia more opportunities to be celebrating a victory.
Really. The best thing the 8-2 homestand did for us was save us from obscurity and create a chance, however slight, that the Mets could compete in the second half. While the Wild Card always remains an option, it’s the division you have to focus on, at least until September.
I’m not suggesting we start a magic number count or anything, but it’s okay to imagine the Mets running off a couple more 8-2 stretches over the next couple of months and thinking about how it could get them back into things. Especially if those winning stretches coincide with the 12 games left against the Nationals and the six games left with the Braves.
Right now the Mets are still chasing a number. They have to get above .500, and then they have to set a pace that gets them as many wins as will likely win the division. That number is currently very variable, and if perhaps the Nationals or Braves are flawed, struggle, or face injuries in the second half it’s an attainable one for the Mets.
The Nationals currently are on an 89 win pace on top of the division. The Mets would have to go 44-23 to reach that. That’s a .657 winning percentage, which would be 106 games over a 162 game schedule. That’s pretty high, although not impossible. Last year the Dodgers were 47-47 and went 45-23 (.662) to win 92 games. In 2012 Oakland finished 48-24 to win 93. Baltimore went 47-25 (.653) to win 93. Every year there is a team or two that plays ridiculously well over the last 60 or 70 games, and sometimes they’re teams that were wallowing around .500 at the All-Star break that no one though were that good. So why not the 2014 Mets?
The math changes if the top NL East team doesn’t win 89, and the Mets have the ability to change that themselves. Let’s say the Mets beat the Nationals in nine of their 13 meetings. Now even if they continue the rate of winning they’ve displayed so far this year in the rest of the non-Mets games, they’ll only win 86. Now the Mets would only need to go 32-22 (.593) in the other games to get to 86 wins. They have less games left against the Braves, but I believe the Nationals are the better team and that Atlanta is more likely to slip to a mid-80s, or lower, win total already.
I personally believe the Nationals and Braves aren’t great, and that it’s possible a mid-80s win total could win the division. There is also always the wild card of injuries, or more injuries than to the Mets, to the teams on top lowering their record.
Obviously good things need to happen for the Mets to play even the 36-31 ball that would get them to .500 and their first non-losing season in what feels like ages. Luckily there are plenty of good things you could see happening. David Wright could play more like he’s played of late and less like the powerless guy he was early on. Travis d’Arnaud really could have turned that corner and continue to hit like a major leaguer. Ruben Tejada needs to continue to get on base. Juan Lagares needs to hit more like he did early on this year, and/or the Mets could find another bat to play left field. The pitching is key, because the Mets seem to have plenty of talented pitchers already and plenty of depth available to them. They’ve got talented young arms they’re using in the bullpen and as a result the bullpen has been very good. If they can continue to pitch as well as they have, it’ll lessen the burden on the weaker offense and allow them to win more games with fewer runs.
Unlike previous years, this Mets team is poised to take a step forward in the second half of the season. It’s still unlikely that the improvement is big enough to step over the Braves and Nationals into October, but it’s not out of the question either.
Remember this? June 14th, 2008. The game would ultimately be rained out and the Texas Rangers would play Slip ‘N Slide on the tarp. Some WFAN callers would then criticize the Mets for not getting out there.
Here are some photos of Rafael Montero pitching off the Citi Field Mound at last year’s MLB All-Star Futures Game.
I wrote up a beer review of Citi Field for BeerGraphs. Go check it out, it has maps.
After that they go three weeks never playing farther away than a weekend trip to Washington. First they play the Phillies at home followed by the home and home with the Yankees. After the trip to Washington they have a day off and another long homestand with the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Pirates.
Even after that they have a five game series in nearby Philadelphia before they head to Cincinnati and San Francisco.
Baseball players are used to odd hours and lots of travel, but the daily grind of travel and weird schedules can still take its toll. The Mets have a rather relaxing couple of weeks of no red-eye flights and no day games after night games in a different city. It would be nice to see them capitalize on that comfort, especially since they only have eight home games in June.