It feels the Mets are a more serious team this year. Serious doesn’t create wins, but I’m still excited about the start of this season, like every other season.
For a couple of days we can put aside season projections, depth arguments, and roster assignments in favor of actually watching baseball games and just enjoying the break of a curveball, the crack of the bat and the diving run savings abilities of Juan Lagares.
It’s a time for celebration, no matter where you’re watching the game. Whether it’s at home, or on the radio, or sneakily tracking it while at work. For me, I’ll be at Citi Field taking pictures of beer selection, new displays, and baseball players playing baseball. It’ll be a great time.
Where are you watching?
Yesterday the Mets released some of the new beers that will be available at Citi Field this year, and tweeted this picture.
These are nine beers from New York breweries of various quality, and luckily, various styles. They’ll be available at two Empire State Beer Stands; one on the field level near section 132 and the LF exit, and one in the Promenade food court. First, let me talk about what I like about this.
Nine new beers is great, provided this is in addition to and not a replacement to beers that were already present like Sixpoint Bengali Tiger and Sweet Action. I’ve had some of these and enjoyed them, and am excited to try others. I’m glad to finally see a dark beer, even if a black IPA isn’t quite a porter or stout, as well as some very drinkable IPAs. I love that there is a Kölsch in the mix because it’s a great summer style for drinking in hot weather. These nine beers added to the list will definitely make it so I actually have to consider what beer to get at Citi Field.
It’s not perfect though. I’m not thrilled with the Anheuser Busch-InBev connection to baseball in all stadiums and how they dominate the market, but their ownership of Goose Island now Blue Point Brewing Company is a great way to get those quality beers to my glass. I really like Toxic Sludge and the already present Toasted Lager. Ommegang is brewed in Cooperstown, making it a brewery that really should be a staple at every ballpark. I won’t go into the contract brewing debate here, which for now encompasses Queens Brewery and Original Sin, but it is something to think about.
My concern is what is, and what might be, missing. I’ll be sad if Sixpoint was displaced as Bengali Tiger is better than any of these beers, and the announced location of the Empire Beer Stand is also the location of last year’s Craft Beer Dugout where Sixpoint was served. The list is also missing a couple of notable New York breweries, though I”m sure there are business reasons for some of it. It’s not easy to negotiate things like this and I admittedly have no idea what goes into it. The decision to stick to bottles and cans bothers me a little, because there are some great breweries that are draft only. Singlecut Beersmiths, brewed in Astoria, is one of those although they’ve recently started canning. As is Greenpoint Brewing Company. There’s also Ithaca Brewing Company, Saranac Brewing Company and many more.
I’m not going to stop campaigning for a true stout or porter, and I’d like to add Saison as a style that’d be perfect for a baseball park. Still, I’m quite excited to get to Opening Day on Monday and explore and try some of these new beers. Below is a table compiled via BeerGraphs’ leaderboards detailing the nine new beers and their Beer Above Replacement values. None of these are world beaters by any stretch, but their is some quality there.
|Southern Tier Brewing Company||IPA||American IPA||2.075|
|Brewery Ommegang||Ommegang Witte||Witbier||3.258|
|The Bronx Brewery||Bronx Pale Ale||American Pale Ale||1.806|
|Blue Point Brewing Company||Toxic Sludge||Black IPA / Cascadian Dark Ale||-0.232|
|Original Sin||Original Sin Hard Cider||Cider||-0.364|
|Blue Point Brewing Company||White IPA||American IPA||-1.088|
|Captain Lawrence Brewing Company||Captain’s Kölsch||Kölsch||1.138|
|Queens Brewery||Lager||American Amber / Red Lager||-0.320|
|Coney Island Brewing Company||Seas the Day||Imperial / Double Pilsner|
An offhand and private statement by Mets GM Sandy Alderson suggested that he thought the Mets could, and perhaps should, win 90 games this season. The Mets online community being what it is, this was met mostly with derision and jokes. It’s an old meme: Mets do something and some segment of the fanbase mocks and criticizes it. Sure, 90 games is a big jump from last season and the Mets really haven’t made that many changes. However, the Mets do have the talent to win that many..or more.
90 wins certainly isn’t likely, but Spring Training is for dreaming. You can imagine all your players staying healthy and producing like they’re capable of. They’ll come through with clutch hits at opportune times, they’ll flash dazzling breaking balls past opposing hitters at critical junctures of the game, and every home run they give up will come in a game in which the Mets are already up by enough runs that it barely makes a dent. Travis d’Arnaud will win rookie of the year. Zack Wheeler will win the Cy Young. Lagares will get the Gold Glove denied to him last year. David Wright will finally win that MVP he’s just missed a couple of times. If everybody plays to the best of their ability the Mets will win a ton of games.
Most of these things are possible, but they’re improbable. Perhaps more good things happen than bad and the Mets do in fact look much improved. Maybe they’re on pace for 82 or 83 wins, a marginal but impressive improvement. That does leave the door open for midseason improvement via trade. A lot also depends on just how good, or how lucky, the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves are. If they’re on pace for disappointing seasons the division title might not even need 90 wins and a key series against either of them can swing the standings significantly.
The biggest, and less obvious, reason the Mets might be a fair tick better than last year’s version has to do with those things that might go wrong. The Mets have a lot more depth this year, and a lot more answers for when things go wrong. The Mets brought in two legitimate outfielders to pair with the defensive prowess of Juan Lagares and if Lagares doesn’t improve with the bat they at least have the serviceable if unremarkable Eric Young Jr around as well. There will be no Rick Ankiels or Collin Cowgills clogging up the lineup and the outfield this year. They’ve got more depth than they know what to do with at first base so that if Ike Davis struggles he’ll have an extremely short leash.
They’ve got a host of interesting players who can step in at various places around the diamond and not embarrass themselves. This means no automatic outs and no month long stretches where you watch rallies continually die at the hands of what’s essentially roster filler. With the exception of shortstop, depending on if you believe Wilmer Flores can at least hack it there as a backup, the Mets will likely have players on the roster that can help out in some way at various positions. This should help keep one or two players having horrific seasons from sinking the team for weeks at a time and provide fewer stretches where the Mets score only a handful of runs a week.
All this is without mentioning the pitching and defense. Both outfielders the Mets brought in are above average defenders which adds additional value and the Mets main area of minor league strength is pitching. If you slot in Jenrry Mejia as the 5th starter, the Mets have serviceable veteran major leaguers in Dice-K Matsuzaka, John Lannan and a couple of others making a somewhat gooey bridge to Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard who might still need a few weeks or months in Triple-A. Those are just some of the pitchers waiting to make a difference with this team this year.
So while 90 or more wins is not the most likely scenario, it’s hardly a crazy one. There is enough talent and potential on this team that we can root for to succeed that could get the Mets to a very competitive place. Maybe it all ultimately doesn’t quite come together for 2014, but there should at least be stretches where you can squint and sort of make out a competitive baseball team at Citi Field.
Old broadcast much like the new broadcast.
WOR rightly hired Josh Lewin and Howie Rose to continue on as the Mets radio broadcasters as they moved from WFAN to WOR and 660 to 710. A lot was said on this over the winter, but really it’s of little consequence.
The broadcast starts with highlight clips of Mets games and leads into Josh and Howie doing their thing. The signal is still decent, if not quite as strong as 660, and really the At Bat app with gameday audio is the way to go if you’re not in the immediate vicinity anyway.
The only real difference is that the 10 second station identifications are mostly news related rather than the sports updates that you’d get on WFAN. The programs around the game are non-sports too, but that has little relevance on the game itself plus WOR is looking for a sports show to put on after regular Mets games anyway, so you won’t even have to listen to the end of the Yankees post game waiting for the regular broadcasting if sports talk is what you’re looking for.
The longer the offseason goes, the more confident I’ve been that Stephen Drew has a good chance of ending up on the Mets. It continually feels like the Mets are the one team continually talking to him, and the one that seemingly has serious interest and a clear need and place for Drew to play. On the other side, Drew seems to be hoping for something better than the Mets.
The Mets, and most other teams, report to spring training next weekend. Time is running out for Drew to join a team at the start of spring, and if there was another team serious about giving him a better offer than the ones the Mets are hinting at, it would’ve come by now. Barring a crazy injury to a team that’s set at the position, it seems like Drew isn’t get that higher offer.
The most recent news is that Drew, and agent Scott Boras, are asking for an opt-out in the contract. That sounds an awful lot like negotiation. There are various reasons why the Mets should or should not be willing to offer an opt-out, but choosing to do so or coming back with a different option is also just negotiation. Would Drew be bargaining further with the Mets if he had other interest, or would he be trying to hold firm and let the teams interested woo him?
My guess is that Stephen Drew will agree to terms with the Mets after another round or two of back and forth. I’m going to guess he’ll be a Met before the next snowstorm Wednesday night finishes blanketing New York with very un-baseball like weather.
The Mets have never known a season without Ralph, and this feels odd. The Mets have crossed into this weird place where their original history is becoming beyond the memory of most.
Whatever the Mets do, whether it’s rename a corner of the field Kiner’s Korner, wear a patch, or anything else, it’ll never be too much. I’ve heard some fun ideas bounced around on Twitter, and I’d love to see the team adopt any or all of them.
We’ll miss you Ralph.
It’s always fun to be able to chat about baseball in the middle of winter. There were autograph signings, mascots, panels with bloggers and Mets execs, great walk-off wins with Mark Simon who writes some great stuff for ESPN New York, an a host of other things. Trivia games, dunk tanks, and podcasts galore.
Here’s some pictures.
I’ve been lazy in posting about..well, about much of anything lately, but there have been some interesting developments on the Mets front regarding beer, and the beer available to us in 2014 when we go to a Mets game.
First off, about two months ago I had a chance to ask the Mets new VP Lou DePaoli, the one involved with tickets, marketing, and sponsorships, a question. I asked him about beer events like Oktoberfest, and about craft beer in general. The response was very enlightening.
He didn’t expect to see anything much more in depth than what we saw at Oktoberfest last year. Events, for better or worse, are not likely to become all out affairs. No 30 beer tastings type events, at least not by the Mets. An independent could probably organize it as a group outing fairly easily. That segued into a response about the beer in general, and DePaoli’s response suggested he understands what craft beer is all about. He also dropped a “Big Beer” reference too about the selection and availability, which only adds fuel to the fire about AB InBev doing sneaky things to push craft beer out.
However, the good news is DePaoli also referenced something he did in other cities before this, such as Pittsburgh, called beer passports. The funny thing is the way it’s described in Pittsburgh is precisely what he seemed to imply we wouldn’t be getting with Oktoberfest type events.
“BEER SAMPLING of great local craft beers for 90 minutes in Club 3000 starting when the gates open (5:35 p.m.) and concluding at the start of the game”
So yeah, that’d be great. The Pirates featured at least Tröegs, a great local brewery, and Bells, a great brewery in general, at one of their events, and something similar at Citi Field would be awesome. Another year mentions Erie Brewing, Flying Dog, Church Beer Works, Victory, Tröegs and East End. They’ve been doing this since at least 2009, and frequently they’d have beer passport nights several times a season. The Mets already have a relationship with Sixpoint, Blue Point, and Brooklyn breweries inside Citi Field, so expanding this shouldn’t be hard. They also have an Ommegang brew inside the Delta Club. Ommegang, which is brewed in Cooperstown, is a brewery that should be inside all 30 stadiums almost by MLB rule.
But wait, there’s more! Shane Byrnes, who works for Blue Point Brewery, tweeted this:
Thank you ARAMARK and @Mets for meeting today! Look forward to a great season and the best craft beer selection at any of NYC stadiums!
— shane byrnes (@BluePointShane) December 19, 2013
Well, that sounds promising. Also a subtle dig at other stadiums, which I appreciate as well. I’m excited to see what we’ve got this year, both on the field and in the beer cooler.
I’ve been writing a bunch about beer over at BeerGraphs, and you should definitely check it out.
The Queens Baseball Convention is taking place on Saturday at noon, and I invite you all to come out and enjoy it.
It’ll have a little bit of everything for you. History, mascots, execs, trivia, prizes, games, fun…
Here are some highlights for you:
Mr. Met will be making an appearance at 3, and Sandy the Seagull earlier.
Steve Cohen, the Brooklyn Cyclone’s GM will be doing a Q and A.
Ron Darling will sign autographs and do a Q&A. So will Ed Kranepool.
There will be trivia games, family feud style games, a dating game with The7Line Calendar girls, and more.
Mark Simon will host a “Most unusual wins in Mets history” panel at 5 that sounds interesting.
And much more besides. There will be Mets, fans, bloggers, and a lot of fun. Check out the trailer!
If the Mets announce ______ I would praise them and think it’s a good step towards a successful year.
Currently it seems like no matter what the Mets do, whether it’s express interest, express dismay at prices, suggest that a guy’s not a good fit, or ponder giving a current Met off a bad season another shot they get resounded mocked and killed for it.
Sure, they’ve earned it. The results speak for themselves and whether or not you trust the plan, they’ve reached the point where they really need to put the money where their mouth is. That said, they do HAVE a plan, and it’s one they’re not articulating, no matter what rumors and leaks you hear. Talking about the plan hurts the effectiveness of the plan.
Of course, no matter how much money the Mets say they have to spend, they have all offseason to build the roster. Whether or not they spend $20, $5, or even $40 million on the payroll is irrelevant to the actual makeup of the team on 3/31/14. If that team looks like a team that can win more than 81 games, then perhaps they’ll earn some good will. It’s silly to criticize the entire painting when the artist has only drawn two lines on a piece of canvas. You may be extremely skeptical that it’s going to turn into anything resembling art, but until it does, it has the potential. Until Sandy Alderson has crafted the entire roster, it’s silly to judge each individual move, or even each rumor, as some sort of disaster. As much as you like or dislike the Mets decision makers, they DO know more about baseball and player evaluation than we do.
As with all teams, it’s winning that matters. If the Mets are winning consistently and fighting for a playoff spot, the fans and interest will come and people will at least momentarily forget about payroll numbers and financial crises. The offseason provides little else to talk about, so that’s what we get. You don’t have to believe in the Mets, but baseball tends to turn out way differently than anyone expects. Every year players succeed where everyone assumes they’ll fail, and fail where fans are comfortable in them succeeding. No one really thought much of Scott Hairston, or Marlon Byrd, or R.A. Dickey when they were signed, but they ended up making big contributions.
If you want to roll your eyes and make jokes, that’s fine. It’s a long offseason and the hot stove season is often full of lots of silliness. Just remember that there are a billion rumors and most of them mean nothing. GMs, owners, “persons with knowledge of the situation” all have their own agendas and telling you the truth about every plan they have is not one of them. Sometimes a lot of small moves that seem meaningless end up working together to make a fairly solid team. Other times seemingly solid moves end up in injury or poor production and the money is as good as not spent. There are a lot of moving parts to the Met roster this offseason, and it just seems silly to assume where they’re going to land, how they’re going to do, and then mock them for it.