Baseball is by far my favorite sport. I could never see another day of any other sport and I wouldn’t really miss it, but I’m going through baseball withdrawal by Thanksgiving. So I’ll be watching most of the next 22 Mets games, and even when I change the channel on Sunday’s to the Giants, I’ll probably flip back and forth to watch baseball.
However, the games mean absolutely nothing and Jerry Manuel continues to do mind-numbingly stupid things with the roster, so how do I stay interested? I try to take each part of the game and watch it for the game, and the situation, at hand with no care or worry about what it means to the overall season. R.A. Dickey is pitching, so I’ll watch him dazzle with his two knuckleballs. I don’t worry about his double digit win total, his contract status for next year, whether or not this is a one-year wonder or anything like that. There will be months and months of that sort of debate, but for now there are only 22 Mets game left and I’ll enjoy each one for what they are; baseball games.
Obviously watching some of the rookies getting their shot at the majors is something to look at. Duda and Tejada are two that look mostly overmatched and unready, but Davis is again putting good swings on balls and launching monstrous home runs. Jon Niese may be struggling down the stretch, but it’ll be interesting to see if he can fight through it for a couple more starts to finish off what’s been a terrific rookie campaign. Thole’s looking like a solid catcher option for next year, and we’re going to get more looks at Mejia and Gee as well.
Career milestones are another avenue to root for. David Wright and Jose Reyes, once he returns from the oblique strain, are reaching territory rarely achieved in Mets history. They’re cementing their places as some of the greatest Mets to wear the uniform. Wright needs two RBI to tie Mike Piazza for second all-time as Met. Three game-winning RBI to tie Piazza for first. He’s second on the career list for runs scored, and Reyes is fourth and only three runs behind him. Reyes is the all-time Mets leader with 329 stolen bases and increases his lead with every swipe. Wright and Reyes are 4th and 6th respectively in hits. These guys are some of the best Mets to ever play the game and they’re playing right here, right now.
So while the Mets may be inches from elimination, there is still a lot to be excited about while watching these final 22 games. Before you know it the season will be over and you’ll be wishing you could watch Niese drop one last curveball on a unsuspecting hitter, or see David Wright crush one more fastball.
Tags: Baseball, David Wright, fire jerry manuel, football, great mets, greatest mets, jon niese, jonathon niese, Jose Reyes, mets career leaders, mets career records, mets milestones, new york football giants, rookies, statistics, stats
My posts have been lacking lately. Part of that is certainly that the Mets don’t produce much to be optimistic about right now, but I am also having a lot of computer issues involving memory and hard drives and multiple reformats of my laptop. I spend most of my time at the computer cursing at it and telling it get going; which is much like how I feel watching the Mets. I was holding out hope as things spiraled out of control with the Mets as is befitting the title of this blog, but my hope is dwindling as the math suggesting the Mets will make the playoffs, even if they were to morph into a powerhouse overnight, grows bleeker and bleeker.
They can still make the playoffs. They won’t, but the possibility does still exist. A strange confluence of events including David Wright not having another slump, Jason Bay coming back and accumulating all the stats that he would need to reach his career averages for the year in the final month, Carlos Beltran shaking off the rust/age/injury and playing well, Castillo putting up career norms for OBP and getting driven in regularly, would have to happen first. Some of these will happen, but it does not seem like it will be enough to matter.
My personal opinion is that the Mets have subtly given up on the season, but they do have a long term plan in place. Promoting the unready Tejada and the possibly unready Fernando Martinez suggests as much. I think the Mets should probably take the next step and start interviewing managers, if not GMs. Take the two weeks to figure out who should manage this team next year, and give them a month to get acclimated with Wright, Reyes, and the rest of the 2011 incumbants so they don’t have to do so in Spring Training. I think it would help the long term goals. One reason not to do this immediately is if the Mets plan on dumping Omar Minaya, in which case you’d want to take care of that before the manager situation, and you may just run out of time to do this all sequentially. Tonight is the night the draft picks have to sign by, so it’d be a perfectly opportunity to make a move forward after that. Give a new GM time to analayze the team and it’s holes and create a offseason strategy. Start the ball rolling, hint at the long term plan, and bring some more of the kids of up in September and I bet Citi Field won’t be quite as empty as some are predicting.
It’s sad that I’m aware that the Giants are playing a preseason game tonight. (Against the Jets too) I prefer years where I don’t even know the Giants record until late October. Or at least late September. I prefer football games as an appetizer to a big Sunday Night Baseball game featuring the Mets and a pressure filled push towards a playoff berth. (results aside)
Tags: 2011 mets, Baseball, fire jerry manuel, fire manuel, football, football season, general manager, jerry manuel, leadership, long term plan, Mets, mets general manager, new york football giants, New York Giants, New York Mets, offseason, Omar Minaya, preseason
The Mets have not been playing good baseball lately. This poor play brings up debate and questions about what exactly the problems are. Is it an easy fix? Something that takes time, money, or trade?
Could it be the managing?
Maybe. Jerry Manuel is not a good manager. He’s operating as a lame-duck manager and as Steve Popper remarked today, A manager that everyone in the clubhouse suspects is not here for the long haul may lose a little authority in the dealing with long term situations such as standing up to Jose Reyes and being the final authority on if he is in the lineup. The flip side of this is the question of whether Manuel’s lack of authority in such situations is what led to his job security being as tenous as it is in the first place.
Manuel seems inept at managing road games or close games, often burning outs with useless bunts, refusing to use his best pitchers on the road or burning through the bullpen at record pace. Still, the Mets have the talent and ability to win games, and if enough games are going to come down to the point where they are won or lost on a misguided bunt call in the third inning, the Mets probably won’t win enough games for it to matter.
Is it the offense?
Some fans are thinking so. Some seem to have given up on Beltran and Bay, and point out that the pitching has rarely kept the Mets out of games. Surely if players like Bay continue to underperform, the Mets will not win. However it’s probably safer to say Jason Bay will hit more like the 1000 games before he became a Met, than the 90 or so this year. Beltran has returned, one of the most talented players in the game, and while we’re still not sure what effect the brace and lingering bone bruises are going to have on his overall play it’s safe to say he’s a solid upgrade over Jeff Francoeur. Castillo will return soon and put up a respectable OBP that provides more run scoring opportunities. Reyes will be back in the lineup and allow us to send Tejada back to Buffalo for more seasoning. It’s easy to get worked up over slumps and scoring droughts, but the Mets offense overall is pretty good.
How about the pitching?
Behind Johan, one of the best second half pitchers ever, the Mets currently have Pelfrey, Niese, Dickey and Takahashi. Dickey has been wonderful, and Niese is contributing as well. Mike Pelfrey’s struggling with a little bit of a slump, but he’ll fight out of it and win games for the Mets in the second half. Takahashi has struggled, looking more suited for a long relief type role out of the bullpen. This would be the obvious place to upgrade on the team, and rumors are that Omar is indeed looking for something that won’t cost the farm, but I’m not convinced the pitching is keeping the Mets out of games. In fact they’ve been in most games, rarely getting blown out or finding themselves down six runs in the seventh inning. Takahashi has had some bad starts, but he’s also had some good ones. Johan even had a couple of bad starts in the first half.
The Mets injuries, coupled with some slumps, are what’s causing the recent struggles. Some of the other categories may be making it worse such as Jason Bay slumping or Takahashi having a poor outing, but overall it’s the injury to Luis Castillo forcing us to play lesser or unready players in Cora and Tejada. It’s Reyes slow recovery from the strained oblique. It’s Beltrans bone bruises keeping him out the entire first half. Ike Davis went through a typical rookie slump, but after two home runs last night may be coming out of it. You can’t get much worse than Rod Barajas lately, and he may be forcing Jerry’s hand in using Thole more, who has done nothing but hit while he’s been on the Mets.
It’s easy to overreact to slumps and scoring droughts, but the Mets have the talent to make the playoffs this year. There is a lot of time left, including plenty of games left against the division leading Braves. Destiny is in their own hands. Beltran is getting up to speed, Jose Reyes is supposedly just about recovered, and Luis Castillo is set to return by next weekend. Johan’s a second half pitcher, more help may be on the way, and Ike Davis may rebound from his first major slump a better player. The second half of the season is going to be very exciting, and I can’t wait.
Tags: Baseball, Carlos Beltran, fire jerry manuel, fire manuel, injuries, jason bay, jerry manuel, managing, Mets, mets woes, New York Mets, offense, Omar Minaya, Pitching, Pitching Depth, pitching upgrade, second half, slumps, trades
This Maine situation is seemingly more complex than we know. I don’t know what it says for clubhouse relations, control of the clubhouse, hiding injuries, actual performance, or all those other immeasurable things. What I do know is that Manuel and Maine are not getting along, Maine has been up and down performance-wise all year, and hasn’t even hit the 91-92 he was hitting post-injury last year.
There is no real way to remove guilt from Maine in this situation. He struggled in his bullpen, supposedly didn’t top 85 mph for the first batter of the time, and bent over in what appeared to be pain after that. He snapped at his manager in the dugout, and was critical of him in post-game discussions with the media.
Manuel and Warthen get plenty of blame here too. It’s their job to make the call, not Maine’s. If it didn’t look right in the bullpen, then it’s their decision to have him make his start or scratch him or whatever they do. They should come up with a plan, with Maine, about what how they’re going forward. Whether that’s one batter, one walk, or one inning. Maine’s job is to go out there and throw the ball to the best of his ability if he’s on the roster.
Is Maine hiding an injury? This would be the biggest issue of all really. Maine’s been a pretty injury prone guy, especially lately. He definitely could be realizing that he’s often feeling a little pain and that if he complained about every little twinge he’d end up spending more time on the disabled list than not. Maybe he’s decided he needs to pitch through a certain amount of pain as a major leaguer, and he did hint at this thought on Thursday after the game. Then there is him bending over on the mound, looking like he was in pain. Maine explains this as knowing he was on a short leash because he saw Valdes warming up in the bullpen already and he was frustrated. Gameday suggests Maine’s fastball was 85 during that batter. Maine claims he looked at the film and that his mechanics were fine and his last two pitches were 89. I don’t know what sort of speed guns or software the Mets (or the Nationals, or wherever he was looking) have, so I certainly don’t know what to make of that.
Both Manuel and Warthen have suggested they believe Maine would pitch through an injury rather than admit one. Warthen used the words ‘habitual liar’ to describe Maine’s attitude about injuries, supposedly meaning it as a positive reflection on his competitiveness, but Maine said that the comment did upset him. Maine made a statement Friday that he would work towards his next start, whenever and wherever that would be. Manuel claims his gut says there is something physically wrong with Maine, but that he “could be wrong.” Maine will get tests next week to tell for sure.
“I want to pitch,” he said. “Even if I have to go out there and throw lefthanded, that’s what I want to do. I want to go out there and pitch.”
Manuel’s response to this was comical, suggesting that maybe he’d have better lefthanded. Jests aside, I’m not sure this is a comment you should make about a player that’s already annoyed at you and frustrated.
The drama obviously continued beyond that. Maine said he wasn’t asked how he felt on the mound, Manuel pulled him and walked away muttering to himself. This is what caused Maine to confront Manuel in the dugout and what he was most upset about. After the game Maine said he hadn’t talked to Manuel and didn’t know why he was pulled from the game. Someone has said that Maine would be going to the doctor Friday, but Maine knew nothing of this. When the team showed up to the park Friday, Maine had neither gone to the doctor nor talked to anyone on the team about doing so. He was placed on the disabled list with “shoulder weakness” and was told he’d be getting tests next week. Elmer Dessens was activated, and didn’t arrive at the park until the 5th inning, which suggests as least that they hadn’t decided anything and weren’t willfully hiding it from John Maine. Maine still insists he’s not injured, so we’ll see what these tests reveal and where the Mets go from there. It’s not like he’s pitched horrendously either. His previous start wasn’t good, but he has a 4.3 ERA with three quality starts going back to his four most recent starts. The Mets are 2-2 in that stretch.
This situation does not make anyone look good. I’m already biased against Jerry Manuel and his poor decisions and management style going back to 2008. I’m frustrated with John Maine, but it’s hard to dislike a guy that works as hard as he does and is as competitive. You can’t ask much more than that from a player; if you want to criticize Omar Minaya for keeping him because you didn’t think he was talented enough, that’s fine, but as long as John Maine (Or Oliver Perez) is a Met, I’m going to root my hardest for them.
Almost 48 hours later, Maine has finally admitted that he’s felt a small amount of pain, similar to what he felt last year, in his shoulder. He still insists he doesn’t need the DL, and that might be true, and maybe he should’ve seen the doctor yesterday instead of Monday, but this does validate Warthen and Manuel a little. However, they could’ve stuck to their guns and not let him make the start if they suspected injury in the bullpen, and they could’ve probably gotten him to a doctor yesterday, and at least waited before putting him on the DL. Mejia needs to go down anyway, and wasn’t available yesterday, so it wouldn’t have hurt to demote him and bring up Dessens and wait a day for Maine’s results.
I have to wonder if this pain is a result of Maine switching his mechanics back to what he’s comfortable with. Obviously what Warthen had him doing this spring and early in the season was not working, but they need to find something that both keeps Maine’s shoulder from hurting, and allows him to be effective. Nothing we’ve seen from Warthen suggests he can do that. I never thought I’d miss Rick Peterson.
Tags: dan warthen, dl, fire dan warthen, fire jerry manuel, fire manuel, habitual liar, i miss rick peterson, injuries, jerry manuel, John Maine, liar, mechanics, Mets, mets dl, mets injuries, New York Mets, Pitching, rick peterson, Subway Series, velocity
The Oliver Perez Situation and the 24 Man Roster.
Oliver Perez will not go to the minors. I know most of us think he probably should, and some irrationally want him released, but if he’s not going to go the Mets need to figure out how to proceed.
Burying him in the bullpen is not a recipe for success or a solution. This is systematic of the problem that Omar and Jerry created with how this roster is constructed. You could call it managing scared, or managing not to lose. Putting him the bullpen and not addressing the reason he’s there in the first place is basically playing with a 24 man roster.
I want to clarify here that I’m not excusing Oliver Perez here. He’s pitched poorly, failed to execute his pitches, lost his velocity, and is actively hurting the team by refusing to go to the minors to get it straightened out.
Oliver Perez is talented. He has ability to throw the baseball and get guys out, and win baseball games. He did this the last year he was healthy, in 2008. He did it the year before that, in 2007. His greatest success was with Peterson, and he continued that for a period after Peterson left. He has steadily declined the longer Warthen was the one guiding him, including this year when new mechanics seem to have sapped not only his control, but his velocity. There were times this year when Perez was throwing four pitches, at four different speeds, and was able to throw them for strikes. Maybe he just hasn’t had enough time to get a handle on this new way of pitching, maybe just a mere 1-2 mph on the fastball would make a world of difference. This is not something I, or anyone else, can figure out from the other side of the television set.
So what is Dan Warthen doing? Has he buried Perez in the bullpen and doesn’t know what to do with him? Is he actively working on getting Perez to be better with those strikes? Tinkering with his mechanics so he’s more comfortable? To me, it’s always seemed like Perez has lacked a fundamental understanding of pitching, of when to throw strikes and when to throw balls, on when to go for a strikeout, and when to pitch to contact. These are things that can be taught, if you could get through to Perez, and I don’t feel like Dan Warthen is. Coupled with this is John Maine, who tried and failed to pitch the way Warthen thought he should. When John Maine went back to what he was most comfortable with, he was successful more often than not.
I see no pitchers that have actively gotten better since Dan Warthen has been the pitching coach. No reclamation projects, no continued bouts of success. Whatever Dan Warthen brings to the table, it doesn’t appear to be in the best interest of the Mets pitchers. Oliver Perez, for better or worse, is here with the Mets. He’s not going to take a demotion, and that means the Mets need to find the tools to get the most out of him.
The Mets are a good team. They’ve got a lot of good players, lots of character, and have a real chance at going far this season. However, they could be better. There are some very simple things Omar Minaya can do that will make the Mets a better team.
Fixing Oliver Perez is one of the most popular discussions these days. This one obviously isn’t as black and white. Where has his velocity gone for instance? Oliver Perez, unlike most pitchers, is a guy that need some guidance and oversight. Manuel and Warthen seem to be two of the worst guys to provide this, choosing instead to give up on him rather then try to help. Maybe they don’t know what to do, which would actually be worse. Regardless, Oliver Perez has the talent to be a good pitcher. Someone needs to grow a brain and figure out how to proceed in this regard. There have been signs, even this year, that he can be very solid..
Replace Frank Catalanotto on the roster. Even though his failure is over a very small sample size, his upside isn’t exactly that of a superb pinch hitter. Failure is still failure, and there are dozens of decent replacements to his position on the roster. Right now he almost never plays the field anyway, so you don’t even need an awesome defender to replace him. Nick Evans, Chris Carter, Mike Hessman all seem like suitable replacements.
Gary Matthews Junior. He’s had more at bats than Frank, and has gotten more than a fair chances worth of starts to prove that he can be worthwhile. He’s failed at just about every opportunity. It’s a shame Manuel ever chose to start him over Pagan, who’s hit right around .300 for his Mets career. The major reason cited for keeping him is that he can play center field. (Besides the somewhat undefinable ‘experience’ factor that Manuel always throws out there) Pagan is just fine, so do we really need to have a legitimate center fielder to back him up? If so, you’ve got guys like Jason Pridie and Jesus Feliciano in the minors. If not, then just go with Pagan full time and on the rare day he gets a day off, both Frenchy and Bay know what to do in center field for one game, even if it’s not ideal defensively. This opens up the possibility to any corner outfielder as a backup.
Jenrry Mejia. I’ve been semi-supportive of the idea to keep him up in the majors if he can help the team win. However, he’s struggled at times and it only seems to be hurting his development of his other pitches. The bullpen has been pretty good, and since starting pitchers are so much more valuable, it’s time to send Mejia back down to the minors to work on being that starting pitcher.
Fernando Tatis is another player that doesn’t seem to have much value. His best value is his ability to play multiple positions adequately, but the Mets aren’t in any great need in that regard. Bay and Francoeur play basically all the time, as does David Wright. Cora’s got 2B. Ike Davis could probably do with a day or two off occasionally if he hits an extended rough patch, but the Mets have plenty of adequate 1B guys that can fill Tatis’ role better than him. When Daniel Murphy is fully healed I think he’d be a much better guy to play the role. He’s younger, has much power, and is a better defender. He’s got no real spot to play on this team, and right now doesn’t have a ton of value. If he could be a super-utility guy on this team, the Mets could probably get something of value for him in the off season. No one else even wanted Tatis last off season, so he basically has zero value on or off this team.
Fire Jerry Manuel, Dan Warthen, and Howard Johnson. It’s hard for fans, especially on the outside, to evaluate what role these types of guys have. It’s pretty obvious Manuel does not know how to handle a baseball team, from wearing out bullpens, to giving up outs while down runs late in games, to playing guys out of position. He seems to undermine his players to the media, and always seems to show no faith or confidence in his players that need it, excepting washed up veterans who he plays way too much for some reason. It’s not an easy situation replacing a manager and finding a suitable replacement. They screwed it up last time they went through this, and they’re still paying for it, but it’s something that could definitely help this team.
Dan Warthen and Howard Johnson may be easier. They each seem to have had some marginal success with some players, but for the most part the bullpen and starters have underperformed under Warthen, and excepting Pagan and Francoeur, no player has really hit their career numbers or better with Johnson. It may be time for a fresh perspective on all this, and there is no time like the present.
Not all of these need to be done. There are different solutions to the problems I’ve presented, and some of the problems might not be as dire as they seem to me. However, all good teams make adjustments to the roster, and the Mets have reached the point where it’s time to cull some dead weight, and give some new guys a chance. Hopefully Omar is already discussing which moves he should make for the upcoming games.
Tags: Baseball, division, fernando tatis, fire jerry, fire jerry manuel, fire manuel, frank catalanotto, gary matthews jr, Good Team, jenrry mejia, jerry manuel, Mets, New York Mets, NL East, Oliver Perez, Omar Minaya, roster changes, roster shake up
The Mets have played six games against the bottom of the division and lost the four games I didn’t attend.
There are still some good things to take from the season so far though, and you can read about them in detail in my post for The Real Dirty Mets Blog.
The fans at the park so far have been pretty pathetic, in terms of their booing Santana and failure to really get into any of the games and actually cheer like Mets fans used to. Greg over at Faith and Fear in Flushing recaps this issue rather nicely.
Patrick Flood wrote a nice piece that really drives home how much we’ve missed Reyes. This piece represents another reason why I think it was despicable of Jerry Manuel to bunt Reyes over on Saturday.
It seems even the beat writers are stirring about it being time to fire Jerry Manuel, something I’ve long felt was necessary. For better or worse I don’t believe the Mets will do anything before May 3rd after the first series agains the Phillies.
It’s not just Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya that have to worry about fast starts to the season or their jobs being in jeopardy. The same case could be made for Jeff Francoeur, Daniel Murphy, and Rod Barajas. The way Ike Davis, Fernando Martinez, and Josh Thole have been playing in a way this spring that makes you suspect they’ll be knocking at the door to Citi Field sooner rather than later.
With Reyes possibly being out some, or all, of April the pressure on the starting pitching has just doubled. The most recent report on April suggests that he may be back closer to mid April, but that’s still a rough estimate.
We’ve known for a while that the season was going to hinge on the starting pitching. The offense was projected to be one of the top in the league, and surely would’ve won some games on it’s own even when the pitching struggled. With Reyes and Beltran out, they may not have that cushion for a while, but this doesn’t mean the Mets are doomed to a 9-13 type record to start the season.
The fast start is more important than ever, and if Maine, Perez, and Pelfrey can have a good month of April the Mets will still win games. We all know they’re each capable of pitching good games. It was expected before the season that they could definitely pitch competitively and keep us in games, but now they may be pressured to actually win the games. Instead of quality start performances and limiting the opponents to three runs over six innings, stepping up and going seven innings and occasionally limiting the other teams to merely one or two runs becomes important to the Mets early success.
This isn’t to say the Mets lineup is useless, and that they won’t occasionally put up a crooked number, but Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran are two of the most irreplaceable players in the game today. The season is never won and lost in April, but if the pitching can step up and win more games than they lose, not only will it minimize the damage caused by losing Reyes and Beltran, it will set them up nicely once they return.
This post, and vibrant discussion about it, also featured on The Real Dirty Mets Blog.
Tags: Baseball, Carlos Beltran, daniel murphy, fast start, fernando martinez, fire jerry manuel, fire manuel, ike davis, jeff francoeur, jerry manuel, John Maine, Jose Reyes, josh thole, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, rod barajas
Goodbye 2009 New York Mets
I caught your final game in person at Citi Field, and it was a good game. I’m glad I was there.
Better luck next year. How many days until pitchers and catchers?
I hope the rumors about Manuel and Warthen staying are false. For 2010′s sake.
I bought tickets, way back in May, for the final game of the season. I didn’t think it would matter; I figured the Mets would’ve clinched, but it had mattered for two years and I figured it wouldn’t be a bad game to be at.
It seems I was wrong. There is nothing to watch, and Pelfrey isn’t even making his final start of the season. This means Figueroa on the mound and who knows who playing around him. So why am I going?
A couple of reasons. It’s still baseball, it’s still the Mets, and I already have tickets. I haven’t been to Citi Field in a while due to a combination of life keeping me from being able to afford tickets (not the prices) and the Mets not being good enough to make it worth going.
I love Citi Field. It’s my favorite baseball stadium and I’m looking forward more to being in the stadium once more than the play on the field. I’ve always been a strong proponent of the new place, but the feeling I get now is similar the the ones I got at Shea Stadium late in the season. A “It feels right being here, and I’ll miss it for the next couple of months” feeling. I’ll enjoy being able to wander around, and not having to sit in my seat and stare at what’s become bad baseball lately for nine innings.
If I watched at home, I’d mentally tune out and not pay attention because it doesn’t mean much. I’d probably turn on football. At Citi I’ll mentally say goodbye to baseball, bury the 2009 season, and watch Manuel mismanage his final game with the Mets.
I’ll come home, root for the Islanders, the Giants, the Tigers and whoever is playing the Phillies. I’ll try to erase the 2009 Mets from my mind, and start waiting for April 5th, 2010. It’s only 184 days away.