Proud To Be A Mets Fan

Thrilling come-back win by the Mets. Just when you’re ready to eulogize and bury the team, when you expect them to spiral out of control and crash and burn when two of the best hitters in the league go down, the backups step up and stage an Amazin’ win.  The Mets basically erase themselves from playoff contention and the most exciting player in the game is on the shelf leading many to believe it’s time to tune out, and then they turn around and remind everyone that they’re stilling playing baseball.  They remind us that whether or not we believe in them, they believe in themselves.  It doesn’t matter if we think they’re worth watching, because they think it’s worth playing.

It’s all about depth sometimes.  One of the reasons the Mets have been able to stay afloat through all these injuries is that they have had suitable prospects and veterans that aren’t terrible to step in and contribute to winning baseball.  That none of the injuries, barring one, have been to the rotation has also helped since the Mets don’t really have as much depth there.

The Mets have sustained a massive amount of injuries, but they still have enough talent and depth to win ballgames as much as they lose them.  They will likely stick around .500 the rest of the way because right now they’re missing those players that would keep them winning consistently, although anything is certainly possible. What is pretty certain is that the Mets are creating a lot of options for Sandy Alderson in 2012.  The Mets have guys up and down their 40 man roster, and beyond, who have been proving they can be part of a winning baseball team.

So sure, one win is hardly cause for much celebration and doesn’t change anything in the bigger picture, but it still feels good.  It’s not just about winning sometimes and it doesn’t matter what’s going on outside of the stadium or in the owner’s box.  These 25 men on the field, and their coaches, are giving it their all and it’s been fun to watch.   They’re not likely to ride home in a parade, but in 2011 I’m proud to be a Mets fan.

edit: Looks like Faith and Fear in Flushing is proud to be a fan of this team as well.

Redirecting the Optimism

I don’t quite want to eulogize the Mets just yet.  While the chances of making the playoffs just went on the DL with little hope of returning this season, there is still baseball that’s being played, and out of the playoffs is not the same as no longer playing.  There will be plenty of time to deconstruct and over-analyze 2011 in the offseason, while we’re rooting against all those evil teams that made the playoffs.


So where do we direct that optimism that failed us in 2011?  For starters, the rookies and prospects that will get some extra time will go a long way towards being able to make informed decisions about the 2012 roster.  How feasible is Lucas Duda going to be?  Has Josh Thole rebounded from a poor beginning to the point that we don’t need to look at other options?   There are enough guys that will get some playing time to have a lot of options for the future.


The other place to direct the optimism is at the teams we hate.  The Phillies, despite the pitching, tend to look like they can be had if the opposing team’s pitching is on.  Given that they may have to face the Giants and the Braves, they certainly could be looking at an early exit from the playoffs if they hit a hot pitcher in a short series.  The Yankees look more well rounded than the Phillies, but they also seem to lack a certain depth that may leave them exposed if everything is not clicking when they reach the playoffs.


Personally I’m rooting for Carlos Beltran and the Giants over the Red Sox in the World Series.

Hope, And The Hardest Time To Watch The Mets?

Optimistic or not, the best chance for the Mets to be serious contenders or fade out of it is coming this weekend.  Fans often aren’t competitors, and give up before it’s seriously over.  They make judgement based on what they believe will happen, and based on what has happened already, or based on small samples or bad losses.  That doesn’t mean it’s true, or that the Mets are eliminated, but right now the signs do seem bleak as the Mets have had dozens of opportunities to climb back into the race and haven’t.


So with the chances slim and the pessimists laughing at you for holding out hope while the Mets still have their own destiny in their hands, each loss becomes a nail in the coffin of this season, each opportunity to gain a game missed hurts all the more.   The Mets aren’t competing for a wild card spot although they’re not eliminated either.  The Mets are one losing streak from the season being all but over, but right now they’re a tease of maybes and what-ifs.  The Mets could host Atlanta seven (or six or eight) losses back in the wild card race, and sweep the series to get to four losses out with 50 games left to play, which is certainly on the fringes of the race.  They’ve played the Braves well this season so it wouldn’t be shocking to see that happen.


It’s too early, perhaps only days too early, but too early nonetheless to give up on the season.  Still, many see the high probability of the Mets staying home in October and start thinking about the future.  They opine about where Murphy should play in 2012, and if he should be getting more time at 2B or RF right now.  They think about which players will be here, and which won’t.  Who will be a free agent?  Which teams should we root for in the playoffs? (that’s easy, the Carlos Beltran Giants)


All that discussion is certainly fair given how the Mets have looked lately.  But they’ll go through a stretch where they look good again too.  Maybe it comes at the right time and they play the Braves tough.  Maybe it doesn’t and they’re all but eliminated on Sunday.  There will be plenty of time for player development discussion when the rosters expand and in the offseason.  It’s a long offseason.  You may believe it’s better that the Mets get knocked out now to save us the heartbreak later, but the offseason is long enough as it is and I’ll cling to that small glimmer of hope as long as I can.  Stranger things have happened than teams like the 2011 Mets suddenly making the playoffs.

Climbing Back Into the Playoff Race

With that four game sweep of the Reds the Mets have inched closer in the playoff race.  They are now 6.5, 6 losses, behind the Atlanta Braves for the Wild Card, and 3.5, 3 losses, behind the second place Arizona Diamondbacks.   What makes those numbers even less daunting is that they play both those teams.


They have nine games left against the Atlanta Braves, who they’ve already beaten in five of their previous nine games.  If they could play well against Atlanta, that number of games behind would shrink fast.  The Mets have six games against Washington and Florida before playing the Braves next weekend.  The Braves also have six games against those same teams.  It’s shaping up to be a huge series for the Mets, one that could really make or break the season.


I would like to see the Mets play better than the Braves during these next six games.  Gain one game before going head to head, so that they are five out.  Then they have the possibility to push it to four games with a series win, or really put the pressure on with a sweep and go to merely two games behind them.  Right now the Braves aren’t playing well and just lost Brian McCann, and the Mets are playing well and some of the guys that were slumping are now hitting.


It’s time to start surprising some people.  Not just “Hey, this team isn’t a disaster” surprise, but a “Hey, this team is actually _good_” surprise.  Let’s Go Mets!

Is Rex Ryan Hurting the Mets?

Currently the Mets are squandering an opportunity to climb back into the playoff race by not capitalizing on a struggling Atlanta Braves team, but whether or not they get closer it seems like some interest in the Mets could be waning as the season goes on, and I blame Rex Ryan.

The last couple of years Mets fans in their negativity have looked for any reason to give up on the team and root for next year.  Fans were doing it as early as Spring Training this year, proclaiming the season as hopeless and getting mad at people that suggested maybe they could actually be a winning team.  Now that the NFL has ended it’s lockout and is set to resume as normal, there is something else for Mets fans to focus on.  Rex Ryan’s antics become more enticing than Daniel Murphy’s defense.  Potential free agent signings for the Jets or Giants seem to become more interesting than what the Mets will or won’t do with Carlos Beltran at the deadline, or who will slip through waivers.  The health of various injured football players becomes more intriguing than Johan Santana’s rehab schedule.

I think the Mets still have plenty of interesting baseball left in them, and I suggest you don’t let preseason football, which most of you profess is pretty boring, get in the way of actual sport.  There will be things to watch on this team that will be exciting, games that will be a great deal of fun to be at, and players that are a marvel to watch play everyday.  If the Mets are out of it you can switch channels on Sundays, but don’t miss out on some fun baseball just because the Giants and Jets haven’t disappointed you yet this year.

Give Carlos Beltran Your Love

Carlos Beltran is one of the all-time greatest Mets.  I know he doesn’t have a ring, but it’s not for lack of ability or clutch hitting.  He’s got a 1.3 career post-season OPS over 21 games.  He’s near the top in almost all franchise leaderboards.  He’s a leader in the clubhouse and cares about his team, and the community.  You couldn’t ask for a better guy than what we’ve gotten from Carlos Beltran over these last seven years.

It seems practically inevitable that he’ll be traded by the trading deadline even if many of us, emotionally, don’t want him to go.  With just two home games remaining before the trading deadline, time is growing short to thank Carlos Beltran for all he’s done.

So cheer when he’s announced. cheer when he makes a great play.  Cheer when he gets a hit, and when he draws a walk.  If he hits a home run, give him a curtain call that lets him know just how much he’s meant to us over these years. 

And if August first comes and he returns to Citi Field with the rest of the Mets?  Keep cheering, because he deserves it.

No One Could Catch The 7: Reyes is Back!

Tonight’s Mets Lineup: Reyes-SS, Turner-2B, Beltran-RF, Murphy-3B, Pagan-CF, Bay-LF, Duda-1B, Paulino-C, Gee-RHP

Jose Reyes is back on the lineup, and none of the National League could catch him in hits while he was gone. 

I repeat, Jose Reyes is back at the top of the Mets lineup where he belongs. 

Lookout Cardinals.

Trying to Finish on a High Note

The Mets are looking to finish the unofficial first half with a positive note, despite losing Jose Reyes this week for six or more additional games.  They have three All-Star pitchers to face to get there, although the name Vogelsong doesn’t exactly fill you with fear.


With the Braves and Phillies rarely losing lately, the Mets have had trouble making up ground even when playing well.  Which is why it’s important that they win some of these games against All-Star pitchers before they lose anymore ground.  They still have plenty of time and plenty of games against their opponents, but you can’t let them get too far ahead either.


The Mets will have a chance to finish anywhere from one game under .500 to five games over.  Merely winning the series would put them a comfortable three over, whereas losing it would drop them to just one.   The Braves and the Phillies play each other this weekend, so one of those teams will have to lose at least two games.  The Mets winning ensures they can at least gain ground on one of them.   They then have a chance after the break to gain even more ground on Philadelphia directly.


If the Mets can win some of these games, including some of the ones after the break, they’ll start getting healthier with Jose Reyes, David Wright and maybe even Ike Davis returning to this offense.  Adding those guys would suggest that the Mets would be better than they have been so far.  There’s no saying that that will be enough to propel them above and beyond their competition, but it should be fun to watch.  Hopefully the Mets can give those guys an opportunity to still be in the race when they return.

Johan Santana to the Bullpen?

The Mets starting rotation has been performing pretty well.  No one’s an ace, but mostly they’re keeping the team in games and pitching pretty well.  Johan Santana appears to have taken the next step towards return, but there are a lot of questions revolving around that.  Will he be the dominant Santana we’ve come to know and love, or some lesser pitcher while still recovering from the shoulder surgery?  Which pitcher would he replace in the rotation, and will he be able to go deep into games, or will he be on a strict pitch count?

Maybe it’s Johan Santana who should go to the bullpen.  In the best case we’re talking about five weeks of games, and maybe six or seven starts.  He’ll barely have time to really get into a routine and build up some arm strength.  Pitching out of the bullpen would allow him to work on his game and proving his shoulder is repaired without having to really push it.  He’ll be able to build muscle and arm strength and work on his mechanics without the strain of 100 pitches at a time.  They could work out a schedule and not pitch him too often or back to back days or whatever works best for him.

He has done it before.  When he first came up with the Twins he spent a lot of time in the bullpen, and while that was before he was established it’s not exactly a foreign concept to him, he’s pitched 77 games out of the bullpen in his career.  Let the beat writers joke about the Mets 23 million dollar middle reliever, it’s still better than the Mets 23 million dollar Ace who’s still experiencing soreness in his shoulder.  Or..

Many feel Francisco Rodriguez is a lock to get traded before his option vests.  It’s certainly possible, and it does seem like the Mets have a plan in mind with him as they certainly don’t seem to care about his option or use.  What about using Johan Santana to close?  Closers don’t have a whole ton of value, which is part of the reason you don’t need an overpaid closer clogging up the roster, but you do still need to replace the quality innings Rodriguez gives you and what better way than someone like Santana?  You could say that Santana is not used to getting ready to pitch that fast, but he’d have all of “Spring Training” to get used to it, and with a closer you often have a couple more minutes.

After all, the goal with Johan is to get him pitching again. He needs to build up his arm muscles again and recover from having his shoulder sliced open.  He doesn’t necessarily need to throw 40-50 innings to do so, 20-25 in a more limited capacity could be just fine.  He’d be able to test out his shoulder, get some time under his belt with major league innings, and shut down at the end of the season healthy and ready to rev it back up in Spring Training like normal.

A lot of this could depend on how the Mets are doing in the playoff picture when Johan Santana comes back.  On the other hand, it’d be foolish to rely on Johan for anything this year at this point in his rehab, so if he does indeed come back, the Mets don’t need to desperately shove him into the rotation and demand he win every game.  Let him ease himself back into pitching, and take what value you can get while keeping him healthy and strong.  He’s too valuable to future years to push him too hard coming back from surgery.

Let’s Keep It Rolling Rolling Rolling..

Well that was fun wasn’t it?  After a ridiculous amount of games without a grand slam, the Mets hit two in one trip through the lineup last night.  Jose Reyes had ANOTHER 4-hit game, his second in as many days and he’s reached based nine of his last 10 appearances.  Bay had one of those grand slams, Dickey gave the team length and the Mets climbed above .500 baseball on the season.  They remain five games out of a playoff spot, but there is a lot of baseball yet to be played.  Jose Reyes has as many triples as 17 other major league clubs and still hasn’t gone two consecutive games without reaching base. 

What’s not to love about this team right now?  The Mets schedule is still tough in the immediate future, but they have a chance to put .500 behind them for good.  The way they’re playing, I believe they can do that no matter who’s in the other dugout.   Being able to add David Wright to this mix is going to be a nice bonus as well. 

Whereever this team is going, the ride sure is fun!